interviews   archive # 1


   
Ant
Earl Brutus
British Sea Power
Camera Obscura
Mark Eitzel
Freeheat
David Gedge
Jack Hayter (Hefner)
Kristin Hersh
Tom Hingley
Robyn Hytchcock
Lupine Howl
Tompaulin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Earl Brutus
Our man with the trilby and spare C-90, Tony Strutt, had a conversation with the jester of rock, Nick Sanderson, who was heckled by Jim Reid and Ben Lurie at a Freeheat gig.

Nick: I have been in some of the greatest bands on this planet.  My rock C.V. reads like some of my favourite records.

Jim: But it’s always loser bands.

Nick: I was just coming to that. 

You were in the Flowerpot Men?

Nick: They were good them.

Jim: Was that when Bill and Ben were still in them?

Nick: Correct. Unfortunately, it wasn’t THE Bill and Ben, it was two blokes, a bloke called Adam Peters, he made some bad mistakes, he played the cello parts for that Bunnymen album, Ocean Rain, and he used to work for a lot of people.  I moved down to London from Sheffield with another band and then I joined the Gun Club on and off and that’s how I met Romi.  Did that for a couple of years.  World of Twist were my mates anyway so they asked me to join.

They were a cabaret band before, weren’t they?  I have one of their early singles and it was average back of a pub stuff.

Nick: Sort of.  The first gig was like that too.  We were throwing things, like “fuck off”, the singer was a bit Tony Christie.

Are they still involved in music?

Nick: Tony went a bit odd for a bit, he is a lot better now, he was pretty ill, he got to the point where he didn’t want to sing anymore.   So he was trying to get me to sing and I was ‘no fucking way, who do you think we are – Genesis?’  From behind the drum, if I wanted to do that I’d do it in my own band, because he is a great singer.

Was Earl Brutus after this band?

Nick: Yeah, when all that went actually, I jointed the Jesus and Mary Chain about the time that World of Twist was falling apart for a bit.  

I know you played on Munki.

Jim: You’re on the Sound of Speed EP.

Nick: And I went on this tour with them to the States but they were completely toured out.  You were weren’t you?  You were fucked.

Jim: Yeah, we didn’t get much sleep.

Nick: They had just done the Lollapalooza thing then their drummer left and I did the arse end of it, then I did Snakedriver and a couple of things, then I did Stoned and Dethroned, then I Hate Rock ’n’ Roll, then stayed on for a bit but then I had Earl Brutus.  At that point it was half JAMC and half Earl Brutus, but Earl Brutus was a band that could only be formed by a semi-middle-aged man.  I though, fuck, before I die I have to form this band because it can’t be done by a 17 year old, it could only be done by a middle-aged twat.

Jim: I remember, when you first started talking about Earl Brutus and you said you were playing this gig and ‘we’re all going to wear blue safari suits’, and I was like: you what?!

Nick: We have just played at 93 Feet East, it was quite good, and we played the Austrian Embassy.

Ben: That was great.

Nick: After that, we are doing some stuff in February, we wanted to do some recording, we done some in this ultra-cool studio behind the pictures in Notting Hill Gate and it’s all people smoking weak joints and being tossers trying to be cool and then they got Earl Brutus there.  The engineer used to sneak off to play pool so we never came out with a recording, we came out with bits, so we are doing some more recording with Ben and Jim, when Ben gets back from Australia.  You have to do it with people who know what it’s about otherwise you’re pissing in the wind. 

interview by Tone

 

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 British Sea Power  have a massive sound and a massive buzz around them after their first two singles.  “Remember Me” is a killer of a guitar track that kicks you in from the start and never lets you go.  Tone caught up with the band post gig at the Dublin Castle. 

The band are Yan (vocals and guitar), Martin Noble (guitar), Woody (drums) and Hamilton (bass).   They also have a set of girls called The Jonathan Mooreheads who dress up as 40s Land Girls and arrange the set.

Why the name, because British Sea Power sounds more like a gas or electricity supplier than a band?

Yan: Well, we wanted to be different and offer value for money, as most companies do, it was quite a ridiculous name which is why we were attracted to it. 

Noble: It’s historical, it’s the name for the British naval force, and the name itself mentions the sea which is a good thing to have a name about, just the whole name, you can read a lot into it.

Is the band a full-time job now you’re on Rough Trade? 

Yan: It is for me, it has been for four years now.

Woody: But we still aren’t making any money.

Yan: It’s early days.

Woody: We’re spending a lot of money on the birds and the snow.

The history of the band: I believe you were based in Reading?

Yan: That’s where we were based.

Woody: About three years ago, it was a slow process.

Because there aren’t a lot of venues on Reading?

Woody: When we started up there were, but by the time we started to gig there weren’t. 

You’re now in Brighton, which you’ve described as Camden-on-Sea.   Is it a better place to be based?

Yan: There are a lot of small people doing things, rather than there are big venues.  There are lots of bars and clubs.  Do you mean better than Reading?  [Tone: yeah].  It’s getting very trendy and now it’s quite expensive, it’s almost like London now. 

Releases to date: there has been Fear of Drowning, which everyone says sounds quite like the Cure. Do you agree? 

Yan: I don’t really listen to The Cure, I only know their big hits so I think it’s because it’s a bit echoey and slightly dark but with a nice melody. 

Noble: We are thinking of re-recording Fear of Drowning for the album and maybe as a single later on. 

From what I’ve heard, the stage show is a bit weird with stuffed owls and lots of trees.

Noble: There is a plastic heron, a plastic owl and a plastic crow.

So it’s like a show rather than just four guys on stage.

Yan: Yeah, I thought it was quite normal in a way.

Noble: It’s strange how people have responded.

Yan: I think more people should just make an effort. 

Bands don’t these days.  I believe you do a lot of jumping around that freaks a lot of people out.

Yan: Does it freak them out?  It helps me, I think it helps this lot and I think it helps everyone because it is a distraction so they can take it all in.  I just though, well you read about good people, really good people like Iggy Pop, so you just expect it, if you want to be a really good band you have to try something. 

Nowadays, it’s not the done thing.

Yan: Well, that’s just because everybody is worried about feeling stupid really.

And if you get up on stage everyone is going to look at you anyway?

Yan: So we might as well…

Influences: The names that have been thrown at you so far are the Cure; the Teardrop Explodes – people say that Fear of Drowning was the best thing the Teardrops never recorded; and Echo and the Bunnymen – everyone says that Remember Me is a Bunnymen riff. 

Yan: I have no idea really.  We do come in strongly at times.   I think we did listen to those bands when we were young.  Rather than revive them, it’s just one of our natural references.

How did Rough Trade become involved?

Yan: Geoff came to one of our gigs on his own, I don’t know how he heard about us.  And he said he wanted to work with us and release our records.  

Good thing or bad thing?

It’s been good.  As far as I can tell, he just wants to release records by people he loves and people who feel the need to make music, which is just ongoing. 

The Rough Trade website doesn’t say much about you. 

Yan: I don’t think they know a lot about us yet, which is a good thing, they are saying do what you want, which is what we want to do.   

interview by Tone

 

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 Freeheat are Jim Reid, Ben Lurie, Nick Sanderson, all of whom have played in the Jesus and Mary Chain, assisted by Romi Mori on bass.  The band released the Retox EP on 18.02.02.  They were interviewed by Tony Strutt late October 2001.

I believe you originally started as TV69 as all you people, or were there other people involved?

Jim: Well, it was just me and Ben at that stage.  We didn’t really have a band at that time, it was just the two of us trying to get it together but the time the four of us got it together we more or less decided we didn’t like that name, we changed it not immediately, we spent like ages trying to think of a good name so we came up with Freeheat.

So when was this period, because I believe Munki came out in about ’98 and you went off to the States? 

Jim: I can’t remember. (to Ben) Do you remember?

Ben: Well, before the Mary Chain split up, we knew, we weren’t expecting to split up then but we thought we would take a break.  I think it was about ’97.  In ’97, we did a bunch of demos of which a couple are in our set now, so in ’97, me and Jim did some demos, just in the summer, talked about TV69 and when the Mary Chain exploded….

I believe William left after two songs and you carried on without him?

Ben: Well, not that night; what happened , yeah…

Nick: It all happened the night before really.

Ben: The night before we all had a big altercation?

Nick: I didn’t, I just went to the bar probably.

Ben: And the next day, we thought the band was over anyway and we thought we’d go out in style on our last day by the pool drinking champagne and then it turned out that we were doing a gig that night and we were slaughtered, or me and Jim were, and we went on stage at The House of the Blues.  Played a few songs, big disaster, I was the last to walk off.  Nick probably knows the details better because by then everything or rather everybody walked off stage, I was like: I better go too. 

Nick: There was no point in hanging around, we suddenly realised this is pointless.

The first English Freeheat gig was 1 July 2000.  Had you done any before that because there were planned dates at Shepherds Bush Empire with Sonic Youth.  Was that confirmed?

Ben: It was just unfortunate timing because that was four days before and we wanted our first gig to be our own. 

Nick: And there was an England game on. 

Why the name Freeheat, apart from not liking TV69?

Jim: Well, he [indicates Ben] hates the name for a start.   I don’t know, we needed a name, we had gigs, we couldn’t decide on a name and it was the best of a bad bunch I had.  I like the name, he fucking doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with it for Christ’s sake. 

Ben: Well, we booked that gig at the Monarch and because of the Mary Chain they were fine about booking the gig but they kept ringing up saying “what’s the band called?” and I was like: I’ll tell you tomorrow.

The sound of Freeheat is very dirty rock ‘n’ roll at its best, very raw.  It sounds like the early days of the Jesus and Mary Chain.  Do you feel towards the end or mid-period JAMC that you lost direction and that you regained it on Munki?

Jim: Not really. I thought the Mary Chain always made good records.  I think that the Mary Chain made lots of mistakes but it was never on record.  Munki was great but the difference was me and William weren’t seeing eye to eye about anything and then it stopped becoming anything like a band at that stage, so there was no point in continuing in the studio.  I wasn’t there when he was recording his songs mostly and he wasn’t there when I recorded mine.  It started off with a good band vibe but it took so long to make the record…I think it took about two years to record and by the end of that two years we couldn’t stand each other.  

Are you on better terms now that you’re not working together?

Jim: We are, but that’s because we don’t share the Mary Chain any more, yeah much better.

Because he has just had a new baby daughter now?

Jim: No, he has a son, a wee boy and he has a stepdaughter from a previous relationship.

Do you feel that if the Mary Chain came out now, rather than ’84, that you would have the same effect?

Jim: If it sounded exactly like it did then, no we wouldn’t, because that music was right for that time, and I think if we were kids now and we were starting now we would just naturally be different anyway because there have been so many more things happening in the last 15 years and we would have absorbed all of that as well and the Mary Chain, I think, would have still sounded apart from everything else but not in the way Psychocandy was.  It was that record for that time. 

I believe you have played more dates in the US than the UK.   Does playing in the UK scare you more because you’re more accepted in the US? 

Jim: No it doesn’t scare me.  It just feels like there is more interest and tolerance. 

And they are more open-minded?

Jim: When you go to America, there does seem to be a feeling that people want to hear what you’re doing.  In America, being in the bands we’ve all been in, people sort of respect it and here, it’s like you have to apologise because, Christ, I was in a band like the Mary Chain in the 80s.  Sorry, I’m 40, sorry, forget it , who cares; people don’t see it like that in America. 

If they are more open-minded and more into music, does that worry you a bit that you are a British band and you’re ashamed of where you’re from as a musician?

Jim: To be honest, I love to be in a band again, who had a record deal and all the things that go with being in a band.  I’d like it if the band paid the bills but the truth of the matter is if it doesn’t then we can live with it, it would be nice as long as we enjoy doing it.  

Did you enjoy working with Lupine Howl in the States?  

Ben: In the end it was just one date in New York, the CMJ thing.   The promoter thought it would be a good double bill.  Sean, Damon and Mike, all were looking to form a band and Jim and I went up and spent a day with them.   It might have ended up as a band but they are in Bristol and we are in London.  It was impractical for a couple of lazy people like us, we don’t really know each other that well. 

Jim: There’s different attitudes.  We went up there and got tanked up and they’re sitting in the corner and getting stoned.

Ben: And they’re really good musicians.

Jim: They’re really good musicians and I’m asking Ben to tune my guitar.

To date, you’ve only released one EP in the States, any reason why it wasn’t released here?

Ben: The UK version has four of those tracks on it, we remixed the American version for here.  We didn’t do a good job on the mixing for America.  We did this tour in July and CMJ and we thought we got this gig and we had a profile and we wanted a record out, so we did that.  We mixed it in my bedroom, we though it sounded great when you’re up against my speakers. We have since learned how to use the living room also; all this should have happened six months ago. 

(to Jim): The way you write with Ben, is it similar to the way you write with William, is it easier or just different?

Jim: Well, we write the songs together.

Ben: On one of those demos, generally one of us writes a song.  

Jim: It is kind of different…

Ben: It’s a bit like the Mary Chain, how we wanted it to be.  Jim would go: here’s a bit, have you any ideas? There is no preciousness about it, but the only song we have written as a group is “No One is Gonna Trip My Wire”.  Our laziness is going to be our downfall.  We got a set we like.

Tone (showing band their set list from their first gig): Has it changed much?

Ben: It’s grown but not by much.

William, with Lazycame, has gone into singer/songwriter mode.  Freeheat is a noisy feedback band.  Do you feel if you didn’t do this, there would be less interest in the band?  

Ben: I’ve never thought of it like that.  We’ve just done what we felt like doing, to be honest. 

Jim: In the beginning with the Mary Chain, the idea was to be a band that sounded like you could have Shangri-Las songs but performed by the Birthday Party or something.  At the time those were the bands we were listening to.  And they all thought the Velvet Underground; where that came in was that there was a coupling that came in of a marriage of sounds and stuff, and I think that is something that has never left me.  I always liked the two extremes like nice melodies.

The Jesus and Mary Chain were the biggest band out of Scotland since the Bay City Rollers and since then we have Belle and Sebastian.  Do you like them?

Jim: I like one or two of their songs.  To be honest, I think they’re a bit boring.

They are a bit twee.

Jim: The other thing at the moment…  

Ben: They should be burnt, fuck it.

Jim: I find it a bit too traditional, they don’t update it, they don’t bring it into the 21st Century, their records could have been done in 1966.

Nick: I can’t see the point in it, myself.

Do you like post-rock?

Jim: Never heard of post-rock, sorry.

It’s basically updated Krautrock, samplers, electronic music but done in a modern way.

Jim: Give me an example.

Mogwai.

Jim: I’m not that keen on Mogwai.  I’m hideously over taught. Are the Beatles still going?

Paul’s got a new single out.

Jim: Didn’t one die?

The JAMC were on WEA.  Now you’re not on a major, is there less pressure because you’re doing it for yourself?

Jim: There is less pressure but it is a different picture, there is no record deal, we don’t even have a manager, we got nothing. We are setting up our own equipment.  We would rather not do that, if truth be told, but it’s like we have done those tours of America and it was completely different from anything we have done with the Mary Chain.  With the Mary Chain, we used to get nervous before going on and stuff, like every gig was like a possible nervous breakdown and it all depends on that one gig.  The rest of your life depends on this one gig, this gig is so important.  Now we have done that tour of America, set up our own guitars and we play music that is fun.  It’s not ideal but it was fun.

Are there other obstacles that you have had to deal with as Freeheat?

Jim: The biggest is the fact that we are a bunch of lazy fucks basically, and that’s the truth.  Alcoholism is a big problem.  We drink a lot and all the time.

Tone: Is the Sister Vanilla project still going?

Jim: It’s almost finished, it’s been dragging on for ages. What is going to happen is we are just going to stop it soon and say that’s it.

Ben: The bits me and Jim are doing, we’re getting there.

Poptones is going downhill but if Alan McGee approached you, would you have considered it?

Jim: Yeah, definitely considered it.  It would have depended on what they offered.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Jim: Buy our fabulous record.

interview by Tone

 

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 Camera Obscura   a six-piece from Glasgow who record for Andmoresounds records.  The band are: Lee Thompson (drums), Gavin Dunbar (bass), Kenny McKeeve (electric guitar), Traceyanne Campbell (guitar and vocals), John Henderson (vocals) and Lindsay Boyd (keyboards).  Soundshound Tone spoke to John Henderson at a pre-Christmas 2001 ROTA gig.

I believe you’ve done two or three singles and one album?

Well, we have done three singles and one album, yeah, but the first two singles are a different line-up basically.  The first two singles were the same line-up and after the second single “Your Sound” came out, basically the lead guitarist left, he wasn’t into what we were wanting for the future of the band and we recruited Kenny.  Richard Coburn used to drum with us; he drummed at the first Bowlie which was our very first gig, which was a bit daunting for our first gig, no soundcheck or nothing.  So this line up has been together for about two and a half years just working on the album and, because we have all got jobs, it has been difficult to get the album done.  We brought out “Eighties Fan” (the third single) in July, it has done really well and the album was out three weeks ago and so far, so good.

The songs seem to be quite picturesque and like drawings but your name, correct me if I’m wrong, is taken from a 1985 Nico album which is quite a depressing album.

We were up in Greenwich at the observatory today and “camera obscura” translates from Latin as “darkened chamber”.  Our original guitarist, that was his name because we didn’t know what to call ourselves and he said “Camera Obscura” and we said OK.  He has since left and we are not keen on the name to be honest but we’re stuck with it, so we just have to get along with it, none of us like it.     

Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian is going out with Traceyanne.   I believe he mixes the gigs, has he produced anything?

He produced “Eighties Fan”, the single, and he did some string arrangements on the album.  He helps us out basically when he can come to our gigs and he helps out on the live sound and he has been great for the band and when Richard used to drum for us that is how we got the Bowlie gig, which was nice, but we are good friends with all of them. 

A few friends that have liked the band for a while have remarked that since Stuart came aboard, the sound is more Belle and Sebastian than your old sound.   True, or was it that you weren’t that pleased with the old sound anyhow and you’ve moved on?

Stuart didn’t come in to help us until we were halfway through recording the album and me and Tracey like stuff like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, those kinds of songs.  Stuart has no influence at all in the music we want to make, he doesn’t suggest anything.  We are very aware of every review we get, they always mention B&S and it has its good points and bad points but we just get on with it.  The next album will be different. 

How did the band get together originally?

Me and Tracey met at college - same old story, you know.  She played guitar, we realised we liked the same kind of music and then we’d go into her bedroom and try and write some songs.  Tracey is the main songwriter and I try and help out.  Then we put up an ad looking for a band and it snowballed from there, we met Gavin and then Lindsay who is now our keyboard player, and who runs Andmoresounds Records, and gave him a tape, he put out our first couple of singles and that was that.

You will be branded “twee”, how do you feel about that?

We are called that in Glasgow but, to be honest, I couldn’t give a toss.

Future plans?

We hope to release an EP maybe in Springtime and after that we want to get into the studio and rehearse new songs because we are a bit fed up with the same set, because no-one else has heard it as much as us, and just take it from there. 

interview by Tone

 

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 Jack Hayter (Hefner)

The video for Christian Girls was one of the funniest we've seen. Where did you get the idea and is video a Hefner medium?

Content of the videos is the only thing we have consciously denied ourselves control over. We use directors we like and let them do what they want.   Usually we use an up and coming director called John Hardwick, though we used a different guy for christian girls (though he was influenced by Hardwick.) Johns getting a bit famous now and so maybe we couldnt afford him...he always makes us look stupid and also if you look at all the videos theres definitely a homoerotic agenda thing going on as well which we didnt twig until the Good fruit video. Videos not really a hefner medium...its too fucking expensive.  We'll be paying for those for the rest of our lives even though we're very proud of them.

You're very prolific. Where do you get your inspiration and do you ever worry that you'll wake up one day and only be able to write "da doo doo doo, da da da da"?

Those are great lyrics!! Darren writes a lot of songs. I think he finds it easy. Hes not tortured by trying to say the right things I guess. It must get harder though to write new stuff after 4 albums. We will be slowing down in 2002 anyway.

We're looking forward to the ICA gig.  Why did you decide to feature your quieter, less well known songs?

It will be the last show we do for a while and we wanted to have a chance to play some of the songs which we really like and which we dont feel we can get away with with say a wild moshing saturday night Manc  or Barcelona type crowd.

Does Dead Media represent a new direction for the band? And why the fascination with synthesisers?

I think we wanted to try something new, every album has sounded slightly different, synths were always there from fidelity wars on.we just brought them to the foreground. Old analogue synths have such a sweet  sound and we were lucky to have access to a bunch of them. The other thing is that no one seemed to have been using them as a tool for accompanying songs anymore, in the way that bands like the Cars or say the Thompson Twins did.If those aren't cool reference points theres nothing I can do about it!!

What were your feelings about the other, bogus, Hefner and have they gone away now?

None and no.

Is vinyl still important to you?

well we still do vinyl copies. We still love it but its getting harder and harder to do.EMI got rid of all their staff over 50 years old which complicates matters.We will still do it when we can.

You've said that the ICA gig will be the last for a while. What are you doing after that?

I have an album out in the new year so does Ant. Johns busy and Darren has a new puppy. Hefner has always been a band of four songwriters doing Darens songs so we've all got plenty to be getting on with. Actually I think Darrens busy working on a book.

You have something of a reputation as a low-fi indie band who are big favourites of John Peel. Is that fair and do you ever get frustrated by it?

It's a great honour to be liked by John Peel and we would never turn down a session. We do wish we sold more records it would make feeding ourselves and making the next release easier...but thats certainly not John Peel's fault! As for Lofi, its never been an agenda, just the way things have turned out because we're not great musicians, and we record very fast, and we cant be arsed/afford to do the amount of turd polishing that other bands do in the studio to make their records sparkly.

interview by Ged

 

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Robyn Hitchcock

Underwater Moonlight is 21 years old; is this the album you’re most proud of?

It wasn’t the first album but the first good one was Underwater Moonlight.  It’s one of the albums I’m most proud of, it’s certainly the best Soft Boys album.  I have made albums since that I like as much probably; I think I Often Dream of Trains was a good album and Fegmania, that little patch in the mid-80s, and then I like a record called Eye that I did in 1990; that had too many songs but it had some good ones on it.   

It’s like saying: is it better to be 20 or 40?  Neither is, it’s just different.  Life isn’t a means to an end, it’s just a series of moments that you make the best of.  Moonlight was the work of four young guys in their mid/late twenties and I thought it was pretty good really.  I’m glad it has survived.

What bands were there before the Soft Boys?

What shall we call them?  There was The New Stooglie Brothers, which would have been the first one featuring Rick Stooglie, who has now sadly deceased.  Then there was the Beatles, which was the codename for this band that I had in art school.  We played down the road in Kennington, at the City and Guilds Art School, that was my first public performance.

We played three times actually.  As I was a student, they let me bring my band.  On the first date, one of my art teachers got into a fight and knocked the Christmas tree over.  The second one, the PA broke down after two songs.  I was bitterly disappointed because I was having a great time.  I remember I looked forward to those gigs for months; it was as special and rare as having sex in those days!  My God, I might have sex tonight!  Oh my God, I’m going to have a gig in six weeks’ time!  I have been playing gigs for centuries now and nothing has equalled the nervous thrill that went into playing the City and Guilds Art School in Kennington. 

Then we had Robyn Hitchcock’s Worst Fears, up in Cambridge, which was one of my flatmates and my girlfriend of the time, and that turned into Maureen and the Meatpackers.  I moved to Dennis and the Experts, which was Morris Windsor, Matthew Seligman, this guy called Rob Lamb [brother of legendary DJ/Oval Records label owner Charlie Gillett].   Matthew left and was replaced by Andy Metcalfe, Rob Lamb left and was replaced by Wayne Lowe and it was the Soft Boys. 

What made it special?

It was the first time that I connected with people who were really good musicians.  These people could play better than me but it was like a body without a head and I was the head.  I started writing songs in 1970 but they were crap until 1977. 

Did the band’s name mean anything?

Oh yeah.  I suppose it came from William Burroughs, you know ‘The Wild Machine and The Soft Boys’.  I pictured The Soft Boys a bit like civil servants, you wouldn’t see them but they had a huge influence.   My vision of them was that they had been filleted, they had no bones so they could slide under doors and then come back up, like in the Terminator movies, so they could get anywhere, through a keyhole or under a door.  They would be bloodless, like they had been drained like Halal, but they would be alive and they also had a tremendous sexual appetite in some ghastly way that was left to the imagination.   I thought this is too good so I wrote Give it To the Soft Boys.  

Also in one sense we were all very soft, we were middle class, mother’s boys, wouldn’t hurt a fly, couldn’t confront anyone never mind each other, very nice people who avoided eye contact and really liked Monty Python and kind of laughing at things quietly in silent laughter.  

Did you feel cheated at the time because the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes were exploring the same sort of territory and they took off?

Yeah, I did.  I felt quite sour about it all which never helps because no one loves you when you’re sour and angry!  They were a bit younger and in some ways they were more sort of post-punk that us.  They were people who had been through punk and had decided to get onto a bit of a psychedelic trip where we were pre-punk and we didn’t really adopt psychedelia, it was already there in our system.   They discovered psychedelia and decided to wave it as a flag where we didn’t wave it as a flag, it was what we were anyway.  A lot of them were from Liverpool, so they were probably a lot more outside-world friendly; Cambridge is rather sheltered.

What about the reunion?

What we represent isn’t around much.  It’s a really good psychedelic dance band but not in the Primal Scream sense; it’s sort of psychedelic pub rock, which could but a put down but that’s what it is.

It’s the album’s 21st birthday and Kim and me had been doing some stuff together.  He has an album out called ‘Tunnel into Summer’ and I’m on three tracks of that and he was on my last Warner Brothers album.  So we got used to playing together again so I looked for a label and got in touch with Morris and Matthew. 

Is the artwork going to be the same?

My sister did them [the models on the cover of Underwater Moonlight] and, yeah, it is the same characters and they are going to be on it.  Sadly, we had to burn them because they had become flea or rat-infested or something. They were up in the attic for years. 

A fuller version of this interview is in Independent Underground Sound Magazine Issue 7; details from tonystrutt@bushinternet.com

interview by Tone

 

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 David Lewis Gedge  (Cinerama and Wedding Present meastro)

 

The Cliff Richard of indie talked to soundsxp hair consultant, Tone, on the last date of the Cinerama 2001 tour.  This is an edited version of the interview that will appear in Tone’s fanzine, ‘Independent Underground Sound’ - See bottom of page for more information.

Cinerama’s live sound is more like the Wedding Present – it’s louder and more rocky - whereas on record it’s more lush.  Why’s that?

Well, I wanted to recreate the sounds of the recordings but I soon found out it was quite difficult [laughs]! At the first gig [at the Falcon in London], we had strings but you couldn’t hear them and they couldn’t hear themselves.  And though I suppose it’s quite a big place here [The Mean Fiddler, London], in general, the stage sizes are not big enough to physically get everyone on.  So I soon aborted that idea.  Then I thought, okay, I’ll try recreating it with the use of samplers and keyboards. That sounded OK but it never quite…I dunno.  They were real samples of cellos and things but I think there’s something different about someone sat there playing a cello and someone hitting a keyboard: it sounds sort of synthy and I hate that 80’s kind of synth music. So that was stage 2 aborted. 

So now I have slimmed it down …it’s like the Wedding Present with a keyboard really!  It seems to work better.  We’ve rearranged some of the songs so that instead of orchestration it is now guitar parts and I’m definitely happy with that.  But we did a thing recently at Maida Vale for Peel and there we had a nine piece with strings, trumpet and flute, and there it’s fine, it’s a massive room, with top engineers, great monitors…so it works.  But until we get big enough to play the Royal Albert Hall with an orchestra[laughs]…!

The sound is more romantic/cinematic than the Wedding Present.  Do you think that’s because you’re getting older and your ideas are changing? 

No, not really.  It’s something I always wanted to do.  In the Wedding Present I had a couple of stabs at it.  Like we did ‘Falling’, the theme from Twin Peaks, which was quite cinematic.  But it was always a bit of a struggle ‘cos I was always trying to put my views over three other people who have different ideas.  Because we were so well known as a guitar band it seemed alien to the whole idea of it to suddenly bring in a flute player.  People were going, What? Where’s he going to stand? !

What do you think Steve Albini brings to the Cinerama sound?

He brings a harder sound and, I think, he’s just the best engineer I’ve ever worked with at capturing the sound of drums, electric bass, guitar, and there’s no-one that I’ve worked with who can have that clarity, that power, that depth.  There’s a darkness to it as well which Va Va Voom [Cinerama’s first LP] really missed.  It’s a nice album and a good pop record but I don’t think it’s gonna last the test of time as much as Seamonsters [Wedding Present third LP]; it hasn’t got that depth, that kind of intensity.

Bizarro and Seamonsters (second and third Wedding Present albums) have been reissued [see reviews].  I believe you asked the other two chaps whether they wanted to do some gigs but they weren’t interested?

Well they [the record company] phoned me up and asked if I would be interested in doing a little tour and I said yeh I wouldn’t mind, it’s been like four/five years…1997 were the last concerts I think.  So I rang up the others.  Simon [Cleave], the Cinerama guitarist, was in the Wedding Present as well, said yeh fine I’ll do it.  And I asked the other two and they were kind of ’mmmyeahmmm when’s it gonna be’ and I got the feeling they weren’t biting my hands off.  But to be fair, they’re doing different things now.

Were you a bit hurt by that? 

Not hurt no, ‘cos I didn’t expect them to be sat by the phone waiting for the call [laughs]!  I kept it open really … I didn’t want to put them under too much pressure.  They didn’t say No, but then they didn’t say YES!  So I thought, well I’m quite happy in Cinerama, I’m really enjoying it so I’m not gonna try and persuade people.

And you’ve moved on yourself anyway?

 

To a certain extent.  But I was involved in the remastering of those two albums - I’d not played them for three or four years -  and I thought I like these LPs, they do stand the test of time pretty well I think, unlike other records of that era.  So I was excited about the idea of playing them live.  Hence, Cinerama started playing Wedding Present songs anyway and I really enjoy doing that. So I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds!  At the same time I don’t rule out a Wedding Present tour or album - but don’t not rule it out, if you know what I mean. Classic fence-sitting situation, I’m afraid!

Would you consider putting out a solo record under your own name?

I’m not sure I would ‘cos I always think it’s a bit naff [laughs]; y’know - ‘The DAVID GEDGE album’.  When I started Cinerama I didn’t have any plans at all, I’d thought I’d do it and see what happened.  I didn’t have the name for the band.  I didn’t have a band really, it was just me and Sally [Murrell, David’s partner].   I thought of releasing that as just me, then thought no.  And then we got people in to play live.  But I’m happier with a band name really ‘cos I’m a bit shy I think [laughs]!

Also, I think if you go solo you lose a big part of the following.

Well, I was quite nave.  I don’t know why I thought this but I just assumed that everyone would know what Cinerama was.  It was ridiculous to think that. In the last few years people have been coming up to me saying that they’ve just realised that I’m in Cinerama and that they really like it and wished they’d known before.  Hence, we started putting lots of stickers on things, making it known really…. In a way I wanted to divorce it from the Wedding Present ‘cos it’s a new project, I didn’t want people getting too confused. But I think you can go too far with it: getting too precious with it really.

So what got you into music in the first place?

Well, I think that I’ve always been interested in music.  Again I think it’s a bit ‘wet’ to say it, but I’ve always been a big fan of radio. When I was growing up I was always listening to the radio and being inspired by it.  I always thought that I’d like to be a DJ or in a pop group or something.  People ask “When did you decide?” – But I didn’t decide really, it just always seemed the obvious thing.  But when the Chameleons [a local band who were school friends of Gedge] had some success I thought I can do it as well and that’s when I started Lost Pandas really.   

When was the Lost Pandas period?

Well, the Lost Pandas was the name of the final line up of the band I was in before the Wedding Present, but it spanned…. I don’t know…since I popped out of my mummy’s tummy [laughs].  I always wanted to do it.  I was in bands at school, at university, and it was always the same kind of thing, two guitars, bass and drums and me as singer.  It went through different names and then it just happened and the Lost Pandas was the first one that got really serious and that was probably around 1982/3.

You went to school with the Chameleons who started in ’81 and signed to Epic.   Did you learn from their mistakes?

I didn’t learn at all! [laughs] In fact, it was the opposite.   I think it was the kind of kick I needed.   I was at university when they signed to Epic and I was shocked.  As far as I was concerned they were my mates at school.  They had a band and I had a band, they did some gigs and soon they signed to Epic.  So I thought, well it can be done, you can actually get a record deal and make a career out of this.  Then I left university shortly after and it was kind of an impetus: we can do this, we can do demos and take them to people and get a record deal.  So it inspired us I think.

John Peel has always been there from the start.  Were you quite surprised that he liked you as soon as he heard you?

Not necessarily: I’ve always been a massive fan of that programme, as everyone knows [laughs]! I’ve listened to it as long as I can remember: I think I’ve missed about six programmes!  My taste in music has always been in the same kind of area as his – the Fall, guitar bands – and in some ways I think it has influenced me to make records that wouldn’t sit uncomfortably in that programme.  It would be kind of bigheaded to say I knew that he would play us – I didn’t.  In fact, we took quite a few demos down before the first single in the hope of getting a Peel session, but we never got one so I was getting a bit worried.  But it was good to get acknowledgement; that we did fit into that sort of genre, and that we were able to get played by Peel.

Has he done anything to embarrass you ever? Or said anything on air?

He’s always embarrassing me really [laughs]!  I think he quite likes the idea that I’m this kind of person who has had a bit of success but still listens to the programme like the trainspottery listener that I am!  And I do, like, a chart, the Festive 50 thing, which I think he thinks is quite funny.  And I think he thinks I’m not very pop-starry.

With the Wedding Present you used to tape gigs from the mixing desk and run a live tape club through the fan club.  Can you see you doing anything like that for Cinerama fans?

I’d like to.  But I got to be honest with you, it’s a real pain! ‘Cos we used to tape every concert and it was inevitably me, ‘cos no one else could be bothered, doing it. I’d have to listen to about 20 cassettes, of a concert I just finished doing and know back to front.  I’d think ‘this is a really good concert’ and then get to song #9 and the tape runs out and so I try the next one and it’s ‘oh no, the bass is far too low all the way through it’ or something and it used to take me absolutely ages.  It was our first drummer who started doing it actually as an alternative to people having to buy bootlegs.  I think it was good that we did it and we got to about 17 tapes or something but it was a real hassle.  I think there’s a place for it.  But I’m not a fan of it myself.  I always think that live tapes or live CDs are quite disappointing ‘cos I think a concert is actually being there.  It’s loud and it’s live and it’s the human interaction but a tape...it’s like I don’t wanna hear this song [live] I wanna hear it on the album which is ten times better recorded.  Funnily enough our drummer in Cinerama has been taping [gigs].  So maybe one day I’ll listen to those and find a good one!

Have you done other gig only items? I know you did a Wedding Present 7” once.

I think we’ve done a few things – like we did the ‘Sucker’ 7” available at gigs and it was also available by mail order.  But I don’t like that exclusivity thing, really.  I don’t believe people should be forced to go to a gig just to buy a single.  Especially if they live in Inverness and the nearest you play is Bristol!

Why did you stop playing encores? When was the last time you played it with the Wedding Present?

I think we stopped doing it in the mid 80’s really.  I’ve always been a little uncomfortable about it.  When we first started playing small clubs it was really obvious when it was going really well and in the dressing room you hear the crowd is really going for it.  I think that’s fine and I think that is a nice thing to do.  But as you get a bit more well known you can literally do an encore every night.   I started thinking that I’m not actually keen on it, it’s a rock tradition, and I think it’s a bit hackneyed.  And seeing those bands who do a set list and draw a line at the bottom and write three more songs – it’s so premeditated.  And I’ve seen bands who, y’know, hardly get any applause [does quiet polite clap] and it’s ‘ok’ back on stage and play another three songs.   I just think that … it’s like a film. You go and see a film, and you say ‘oh it’s a good film’ but they don’t then show another 15 minutes!

On the last single and the current one [Health and Efficiency] you’ve done 7” foreign language versions.  What’s the idea behind that? And are they truthful to the language or are they basically ‘get awayable’?

I think the French one’s OK ‘cos I did French at school and I’ve always liked it.  And of course we did a Wedding Present song in French as well [version of Why are you being so reasonable now? English and French versions are now on the George Best CD].  And the girl who translated while I was doing it is French so that one’s fine.  The Spanish one I’m not so sure about ‘cos we did it in America and it wasn’t actually a Spaniard, it was an American student of Spanish and I’ve subsequently found out there’s quite a few mistakes [laughs]!  I’ve never spoken Spanish in my life so it took a lot of time, that one.  The French one was quite easy.  As for the reason, I don’t have one really.  I’ve always been interested in languages I suppose, in English as much as any other.  And it’s quite fun. 

You’ve done four new tracks for a Peel Session which have not been released, apart from the single track. Are there any more? How far you in [to the new album]? Have you done the whole thing yet?

Well, they’re three or four tonight that are even newer.  And I think we’ve probably got enough stuff to go and record an album but I’m not completely sure.  Some songs are not completely finished yet.  We’ve booked some rehearsal time after the tour so we’ll go in and have a look at the whole thing and see what we’ve got!

interview by Tone

 

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Tom Hingley

The Inspiral Carpets were one of Manchester's biggest bands of the late 80s to early 90s.  The band stopped as a unit back in '94 and since then Clint Boon has become a DJ and fronts the cabaret style Clint Boon Experience.  Meanwhile Tom Hingley had a short break and formed The Lovers with ex-Lotus Eaters' Jerry Kelly, releasing one single.  He has now gone solo and last year released Keep Britain Untidy as well as a new album, on the way.  I caught up with Tom, pre-show a while back at the 100 Club.

The first time I became aware of you was because of The Inspiral Carpets but did you do anything before because you were not the original vocalist of that band?

I'm from Oxford originally and I used to be in bands with my brothers.  this was in the late 70s, all shit punk bands.  A brother of mine used to have a band called Ashtray and the Dogends and they used to do gigs around Oxford and at one point people would turn up thinking The Sex Pistols were playing.  Then I used to playwith some mates that I used to know from Manchester Poly.  I had a band up there called Too Much Texas and we supported New Order at the Hacienda.  We did a Peel session and put out a record on Uglyman, called Hurry On Down.  We supported the Inspiral Carpets before their singer and bassist left and I auditioned for the vocals and joined them.  So there was a bit of music before the ICs.

The rise of the Inspirals was a slow one.  Did you think at any time this isn't going the way I wanted it to?

They had already done quite a bit before I joined them, really.  They had reached number 3 in the Peelie Festive Fifty and supported the Wedding Present.  Not really.  It was a magic time in Manchester, one of the biggest things since punk.  It didn't get out of control like with some bands.

So how did it work within the band?  Did you write the lyrics, with the guitarist and Clint?

I don't know.    I guess so.  We all used write songs.  It wasn't just one person.

Were you a bit overwhelmed when you signed to Mute?

Not really.    As a band we were always.... a bit like the film 'Almost Famous' that sort of tells it as it is.

Who came up with the idea of the Cool as F**k T-shirts?

Well Clint drew a cow on a T-shirt when we played On The Other Side Of Midnight but my wife used to make clothes, a lot of those Indian tops.  I suppose I worked out that you could make a lot of money out of clothes so we got them printed up in that place.  They did really well.

I don't think anyone apart from James had done so well on shirts....

Our manager said that we had sold more T shirts than records.  I wish that was true because then we be better off than we are. It was like a cottage industry band, we did things for ourselves. Like when we did Top of the Pops, it was like bloody hell, we are on TOTP! We were outsiders, we don't deserve to be here. It's not our natural home but I think a lot of bands feel like that.  It's like when Noel (Gallagher) worked for us, Clint said "He thought Noel had learnt how to write songs off him' and I have said since "Noel learnt how not to write songs off him but he learnt a lot from us".

The first stuff you released was on your own label, Cow Records...

Yeah originally we set up a label with Eastern Block.  They had 808 State, A Guy Called Gerard, Ed Barton, Biting Tongues who were one of Graham Massey's other bands.  They put out Trainsurfing which was our second singlePlane Crash was our first..  So we toured the first record with me singing on it and then...

Why did the first singer leave?

It's not for me to talk about because Steve was a top bloke but I think it was a personality thing.    I think him and Clint worked against each other's presence for whatever reason.   I don't really know why, I don't think he was ready to be a professional musician.

With all Mute bands, sooner or later, you end up having remixes done.  Were you happy with that?

Some of them were great but some were awful but the record industry changes and what's big one month isn't another. 

With the last Inspirals album Devil Hopping you were, or at least seemed to be, the biggest band on the planet.  Then you did some dates and I suppose the band split though it was never announced...

Tom: I don't think we ever did split, we just decided not do anything anymore. It's like good bands like New Order say they never split up. We lost our deal and some London accountant said we owed them the best part of 40 grand, which we didn't. We were offered a deal with Nude but the money was n't enough to make it work so we went our separate ways....

What are the others up to now, other than Clint?

Graham is an entertainment officer at Sheffield University, Craig has a record shop at Apex Palace called Criminal Records. Martin, I did some recordings with him last year.

Two years later you formed The Lovers with Jerry Kelly...

He is teaching at Reading at the moment.

And now with Keep Britain Untidy, you went all GLR friendly on us (ie acoustic singer/songwriter). Is that because of limited resources?

I just did the record and I wanted to do it all myself because I got disillusioned with a band. The album took 3 days to record and mix and it's sold about 2000 copies. It is what it is and I'm proud of it. It's at the other end of TOTP and I'm 40 now so... I have been doing this for two years. In the last year people have said they are doing this because of Tim Buckley/Nick Drake.... it's like Coldplay. But if I was 16, would I be listening to this? No I f**king wouldn't.

What I find listening to popular so called indie of now is it's angst ridden. Would a young kid want to listen to that? I know we grew up with Joy Division so can we really complain?

But Joy Division sang in a mock American accent, so he was slagging off their whole culture. Nowadays things are so dispiriting, if I was 16, I'd be into some of the nu metal bands and rock bands. A lot of 12 to 16 year olds dress like American kids did 10 years ago. But it's better than dance music.

So what's this shop about?

I have a shop in Apex Palace called Mad Dog.   My wife makes all the clothes and I have run it for about 7 years.

Could you see an Inspirals reunion?

Yeah, like Clint says on his website, Never Say Never.   I'm sure it will happen, we have been offered silly money to play Reading and two of the V festivals but Clint doesn't want to do them.  I think it will happen but you can fall into the trap of just doing a lot of old stuff and then the band will get bored but there is a whole album's worth of material that never got released.  They are nice people to spend time with but we wouldn't go back because we have all learnt a lot.

Are you all older and wiser?

...and uglier!   The thing is we were always the ugliest so we can't get any uglier!

interview by Tone

 

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Tompaulin
Before their recent Mean Fiddler gig we caught up with Jamie of hotly tipped Blackburn band, Tompaulin.

Were you happy with Track and Field?

Yeah - Track and Field were brilliant.  I’d do everything with Track and Field but they can’t…it’s a bedroom label.  But the thing with Track and Field is that they’re more professional than any label we’ve ever worked with.  The tour that we did with them with Saloon and Great Lakes was so well organised.  They’re in touch with so many indie organisations all round the country, where they didn’t just rely on an ad in the paper.  Track and Field are so on top of their game that they let people know.  We introduced them to the Loves.  The Loves sent us a demo tape ages ago and I rang them and said their demo’s great and I passed it onto Steve who wanted to do a single straight away.  They’ve done a couple of Peel sessions now and they’ve done a bit of telly and we’ve played with them, obviously, a few times.  And that was really nice and that was because of Steve and Paul and Track and Field.  It was like an open house really; you could send stuff to them and they’d listen to it.  

The trouble with Track and Field is that in 5 years they’ll be the new Creation.  I said to Steve that It’s a Girl’s World is like Upside Down for us, and that I wanted to stay but we couldn’t.  

In London people go “don’t go to it because it’s too trendy and the crowd’s too hip.”

Yeah.  I don’t get to go all that much except when we’re playing but the last time I went to a club night at Track and Field, I felt the same way: the hyper-cool kids looking down their noses kind of thing.  All the really cool indie kids go and they’re miles cooler than me.  And it’s really funny ‘cos I’m in one of the most successful Track and Field projects.  

NME is not worth knowing about…

When we did a Track and Field gig we got a massive review in the Guardian.    And we’ve done NME gigs and had four lines and they think you should be really grateful.  I noticed on the cover of the NME on the tube today “Forget New York, these are the new British guitar bands”.   And so that one’s lasted about three weeks.  You get really cynical. That’s why I’ve given up.  And they’ve not been very kind to us either.  I’ve tried to hold on believing ‘cos I really loved it as a kid.   

I know you don’t like them but I like Starsailor…

It’s funny really because it’s not the music of Starsailor that I dislike, not even the band.  They’re a band from Chorley and Wigan and traditionally we’ve always supported bands from up there so the new manifesto is to support Starsailor and good luck to them.  It was just the coverage and I shouldn’t really say anything more about it but they’re really young and being manipulated by a major media force.

Do you think you’re more professional than when you first started?     

I’m wary of the term ‘professional’.  We are to a degree getting more professional.  I’m really proud of the album and I want to sell it and I don’t go for the idea that it’s cool to only sell a few records.  I think that good bands should be on Top of the Pops.      Like it was at one point – think about the Mary Chain and the Smiths. That’s always been my goal, to get the band really, really, really well known because in a world full of Travises and the Stereophonics, we should, and Kicker should and Camera Obscura should and the Loves should - ‘cos why not?  

Have you all still got your day jobs?

Yeah.  Absolutely.  We haven’t done any publishing yet, we’ve never had an advance and we’ve never had a wage.  We’ve never made any money out of any records and the most we’ve been paid for a gig is 200.  We divide it equally - we’re all down as writers anyway.  We’ve never had any of that so it’d be nice.  We paid for every single one of our recordings before this album.  We’d go in at 9 in the morning and come out at 5 the following morning having done all the Carcrash EP in one go.  And when we did Girl’s World we only had enough money to do that track and then we four-tracked the B sides.  

Do you think that will change with Ugly Man?  

Yeah.  Ugly Man agreed to pay for an album and then they agreed to finance a five-day tour.  It’s not like breaking the bank but that was OK with us.  

Why did you sign to Ugly Man?  Is it just a one-album deal?

Well, we’ve not signed a contract with them yet.  For someone to give us ten grand to record, on a handshake, was a good thing.  It would have been Track and Field if they could have afforded it, undoubtedly, but they couldn’t, which is not to say we won’t release for them again.  We’re talking to them at the moment about doing a 10-inch.  Which Ugly Man will also let us do.   Guy came up to Blackburn and had a beer with us and said he would do it and he’s a big Dexy’s fan, he’s a really big New Order fan…we just agreed to do it.  He did it on faith really, on trust.   We hummed him the new songs in the bar, no instruments.  Me and Lise sang him some bits and pieces and he went, well the words are great, go and record it.   And he booked it the next week.  That’s why we did it.      

You’ve done 2 John Peel sessions.  Did you enjoy that experience?  

Loved it.  The highlight of my life, doing John Peel sessions.  The thing is about the Peel studios is that it’s a BBC studio, it’s about two doors down from where the orchestra record, it’s got a grand piano in the middle and they’re just really, really good at what they do.  I think when we released Bootboys, we’d have been happy with our lot if you’d said you’ve got to do two Peel sessions.  I’d have been ecstatic because I sort of mark the careers of bands by who’s done them and who hasn’t done them and who they ask back.  

You’re doing Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade live and you’ve done it on the Peel Session as well.  Why did you choose to cover them other than William Reid or Dexy’s or Brian Wilson or whatever?

Well because I think, and I’ve always though, that Strawberry Switchblade were absolutely perfect pop.  Absolutely perfect.

To a degree they were like you 20 years ago.  

Yeah.  I think so. They looked like the Mary Chain which was great for me, they looked great and they had an attitude that pop bands now, even the sort of ones that you want to like, don’t have. They had a punk attitude, they were really aloof and serious but they made air-sugar pop songs that, like us, were quite dark.  Since Yesterday, I love it, it’s a great melody, sounds great, it was released on a really cool label and it was a big chart thing.  It really suited us and we just started knocking it around.  It was like it was written for us.

Have they heard it?

I don’t know if they have or not.  We’ve dropped it from the set for a little bit now. But I want to see it back.   The thing was to get a recording of it so that’s why we did it on the Peel Session, which I’d like to release – that Peel Session version at some point.  So I’d like to buy it off them and release it.  It’s a great version.   

Were you disappointed that Kevin Rowland never turned up for the Peel Session?  Cos he was going to mix it.

I was personally disappointed but not surprised.  He wrote me a really nice letter and he had a night out with Stacey, Stacey’s in London, and he sang North in a bar to Stace.  

Is that one you swapped?

We swapped North for an artwork.  We wrote it  - but we swapped it.  We don’t own it any more.  He sang that and he liked that.  But I actually wrote Second Hand Republic for Kevin - that was written early doors, just after Bootboys, and the four-track demo that was on It’s a Girls World was a demo for Kevin Rowland.  But Kevin’s had a really hard time and he doesn’t want to record.  He’s been really nice to us and that’s sort of enough.  I ended up getting worried that it wouldn’t go well for him if he did that - it could only be good for us.  I’m still waiting for him to come back with a killer album and it might not be the right thing for him.      

People still mention the B&S words…how do you feel?

I think it’s the pictures of me with the acoustic guitar.  I don’t understand it because we talked about noise bands and soul bands and all sorts of bands from the beginning.   Katie and Emma are really into electronic music.  Lee is into mainstream rock music which is great, he likes the Beatles and the Stones and stuff.  And then you’ve got Ciaron whose main influence is writing who brings up all this really left field stuff to the band which we sort of popularise and make palatable.  And then Stacey: I always thought the first time I heard her sing, if I could be in a band with her, you could write Mary Chain songs and have them sung by Aretha Franklin.  Then it became: I’ll sing as well and we’ll be Lee and Nancy.  

We’re not a new acoustic band; it’s because we didn’t have any equipment so we recorded acoustic songs.  You just have to stop worrying about it but it does upset me now because every single review still says Belle and Sebastian - either they’re coming out of their shadow or they don’t match up to them, when I think the aims are totally different.    You do end up thinking “fucking hell, Stuart Murdock doesn’t think you sound like them and you don’t think you sound like them” but you think you’ve got some sort of common interest in that you hope that your words are intelligent.

How do you decide whether you’re going to sing a song or Stacey’s going to sing a song?

We write Stacey’s songs for her, specifically for her.  We’ve got a really good song at the moment that we’re demoing called There’s a Name It Hurts to Say which was written for Stacey to sing from a male point of view.  It’s about a girl who works on a sex line who falls in love with a guy that keeps ringing her, a guy who wants her to be this girl who’s left him and he wants her to do it once a day.  There’s lines in it ‘have you eaten anything?’ and ‘have you made the bed?’ and they have this really pure love affair in this really sordid way on the phone and that was written for Stacey.  

The original idea was like Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra that Lee would sound quite dark but he would actually be the sweet one and Nancy or whoever else was backing later on would sound really sweet and actually be the dark one.  That is deliberate and that goes on a lot.  In Richard Brautigan, I sing these really nave things and Stacey sings this really dark line “So the wind won’t blow it away/ dust/ dust/ American dust” in this really sweet way but it’s really dark.  That’s how it works.   

I believe you were going to do festivals this year.  You were down the bottom of the bill at Guildford.  

We did Guildford, yeah.  Guildford was ace – we won at Guildford.  It was one of those days when we went on, we played this tent, it was empty - we still were unsigned - and by the time we were on Strawberry Switchblade, it was absolutely packed.    I regretted pulling us from Reading and Leeds then.  But it was the Strokes, etc and I just didn’t see where we fitted into it.  I still don’t know about Tompaulin at festivals.

Any pre-gig rituals? Listen to Psychocandy before you go on stage?

No.  I listen to Psychocandy every day though when I’m at home, before I go out.   Gig rituals?  No, because we do everything, we’re too busy moving drumkits and buying strings.  Nobody works for us except our manager.  I always wanted us to have a manager as soon as there was interest in us and we’ve had three.  And the first two were appalling, gangsters, and didn’t get on with the band, made the wrong decisions for us.  The people who are doing the press for us, and we’ve always had lots of press, they’ve never managed bands before and they do press about New Order and stuff, they rang us up one day and said ‘listen, we’ll fucking manage you, you’re just making a mess of everything’.  Which was really nice.  That works really well cos they’ve got faith in us.   

Has the way you write songs changed?

Yeah.  Cos Stacey moved to London.  Me and Stacey used to share a flat with Ciaron and we spent the first 12 months of our existence writing loads of songs and Stacey was always there to do melodies and try things.  It’s changed now that there’s just me and Ciaron and Lee there and I have to send Stacey things. So the process of songwriting is taking a lot longer and we don’t get to rehearse in Blackburn any more, which is a shame ‘cos it was good to get out of London and do that, but we can’t afford it so we rehearse in rehearsal rooms down here.   Also the stuff that me and Ciaron wanted to write about has changed.  I don’t really like the band but I’ve always liked Pulp’s writing,  When Ciaron started writing new things and I started writing with him I thought: “these are a bit Pulp-esque”.   

Future plans?

In the short term I’d like to do a really good support tour because I’d like to play to more people.  I really want the album to sell.  We’re not in a position with the deal we’ve got to make any money out of selling the album so it’s not for that; it’s just that I want people to have it and I want to rise above the ‘indie loser’ tag.  I’d like to have a major record deal.  The Bunnymen, the Smiths, they had that sort of money to do what they needed to do.  They made records that changed your life.  And that’s what I want us to do. 

Anything else you’d like to add?  

We’ve made a really good record that we’re really proud of.   And although the Town and the City’s wonderful, I love it, the new stuff we’ve demoed is even better.  And the thing I’ve noticed about other bands I’ve really liked, you know the bands that make THE debut album, is that not a lot happens to them after that.   Or they actually go on to make better records, like the Mary Chain, like Dexys: Searching for the Young Soul Rebels isn’t the best album. So it’s like a taste of what’s to come.  

interview by Tone

 

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Kristin Hersh has long been one of America’s finest female writers of songs on the 4AD label.  Her new album is `Sunny Border Blue` named after a flower as she hates naming records.  On this album, she did almost everything on it.  For its release, we were invited to a mini press conference and before I got to ask any questions, these are the things that came out of interest:

Kristin Hersh went to hell and back for these songs.  Before she wrote nice songs for nice people,which she thought were quite dull,  but with this one, she spent six months in the studio and feels passionate about this record, the most she has felt since Throwing Muses. 

The Muses do reform 2 to 3 times a year but they look down the set list and the songs are older and older and it’s we are dead and people fly in from Sweden and New Zealand for these shows.  The songs are bitter and bringto head the loss of her son, about the loss of her band and the trouble in her marriage and they are not going away.  They don’t judge it either way, I just deal with it.

How did Michael Stipe get involved with `Your Ghost`?  Did you go to him or the other way around?

He had my demos that he took off my business manager’s desk, he is based in Athens and worked with R.E.M. and he just said “ Can I have this?” and he would call me up while I was working and say “   What are you doing now?”  and I say “ I thought a cello is like a melodic bass and it’s not,it’s ….it’s really scary, it sounds like a horse and with the celloist you tune the E down to a D to play the tune, so it was just like eeeeeer and I couldn’t mic it and I had this little song on top and this blurrrr at the bottom and I said “ I had trouble micing this instrument”  and he said “ Little D,ha”,  it was like yeah, so we talked about micing cellos, while `Your Ghost` was playing and he fixed all my troubles and his voice was right between the cello and all my pop stuff.  And I just said “ Michael, just sing on it, I promise it won’t be released , it won’t be a single and you won’t have to do a video or anything and then I forgot he is Michael Stipe.

I someone else phoned you up and said you need to do this but was it strange from Michael Stipe?

I guess he thought I might Fuck it up somehow, by making it into an actual record.  I had met Michael when I was 17,he was listening to the band before we had made records,   it’s not like we hanged out a lot but he is one of those people who makes a lot of friends in this game.  He is a friend and we toured with them.  He is the only rock star that I acknowledge,  he talks like Michael Stipe, he has just got this thing and he is that thing.  He really is a star and deserves to be and he in not an arsehole

Would you like to work with anyone at all?

I don’t have this, we shall jam gene.   I do see what people do and I  think that is great.

Could you see yourself working with Tanya again?

 I would love to, we both would love to but we are both singer/songwriters  who play guitars so we are the last person we need, we see each other a lot and we keep up on each other’s music.  She has just made a solo record too, so we are trying to tour together and we just played in the Muses a few months back, but there is not a lot I can offer unless I’d learn the trumpet.

Why did you choose to record the three Muses songs on the last single?

It’s never me that decides those things, I do what ever myh husband tells me to do because  I never know what singles are coming out, so it was like you’re doing these Muses things live so, so let’s go into the studio and play live in  the studio and we will have  these tracks and we can use them somewhere and that’s the story, not a good one.  

What were the tracks? 

There were `Cry, Baby, Cry`, `Hate My Way` and another one.  Well, I kept   on refusing to do `Hate My Way` and every night I do it anyway so I said “ Really I’m not doing this again”, so he made me do it again but in the studio.

Is the reason you are still doing music, the same as when you first started?

Now it is, I think for a while it was habit and I just remembered why I’d started in the first place.

The creativity?

Yeah, it’s like it started off moving me really hard and I just fell away and got really fucked over for having started a band in the first place and it took a while to get that back.   Where I’m lucky to be working at all, hearing the nature of what I do, I’m lucky to be working so long and putting records out.

Do you find being on 4AD and advantage?

Oh, yeah right. I don’t know, I love 4AD and have been there longer  than anyone that works there  but they have always had a one album deal and there is no such thing in this biz, they just say “let’s do another album” and I take that and they have a nice set up, really nice people, not people who are just interested in their pay cheques.

Do you listen to a lot of records?

Yeah, the ones I get free, this is an old person’s answer, I listen to most of my friends, Vic Chestnut, Giant Sand, Williard Grant Conspiracy is cool, I know there’s a lot that I don’t recommend.

interview by Tone

 

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 Ant   is the solo project of Anthony Harding , who is the drummer of Too Pure’s current biggest band on their label, Hefner, who are sort of The Smiths of today and are a pile of fun, live especially.  Ant, the solo project shows a different talen and I think Ant is a better songwriter than Darren Hayman, Hefner’s songwriter.  Ant is working on an album for summer release and the next Hefner album will be out in September.   I spoke to Ant at a Track and Field gig in January  

I believe Hefner started off as you and Darren and Darren’s from Scotland, you don’t sound Scottish?

No, I’m from South London, we met at art college and we were both writing songs and playing guitars,so we both became friends and started playing together, a bit like Lennon and McCartney, very cheesy sort of songs.

So you played guitars, so how did you end up as a drummer?

Being a drummer, basically, when I was about 10 or 11, I used to drum in bands and I stopped and learnt how to play the guitar, so Darren knew I could play the drums and when he started Hefner, he wanted someone who he knew well as a friend. 

Tonight you were playing a classical guitar and playing chords, which is something you don’t do on a classical guitar?

The honest answer is you don’t break strings,and my sister had a classical guitar and I found it had a nicer tone to it and it sounded more original.

Did the Ant solo project start before Hefner?

The songs started way before Hefner, when I met Darren, twelve years ago but it’s only since being in Hefner that I had a chance to release them.

Now Hefner have their own label, would you put it out on that label?

Don’t know, it’s like I try and separate them as much as I can because people find it hard to deal with when someone from a band is trying to do something different and they think “ Oh, his band is quite popular so he is trying to cash in on it”, and sometimes you get people who like Hefner who don’t like what I do.

To be honest, I wouldn’t associate the Ant thing with Hefner, because your songs are different to Darren’s, yours are quite sensitive and with Hefner’s songs, I find most of them are about smoking, sh and drinking?

(Laughs) That’s right.

So to a degree, Hefner is the band that fronts songs about Darren’s s  life really?

(Laughs)  Yeah.

Is there an album?

I’m working on an album at home at the moment, I’m hoping by the end of the summer, I should have a proper album of 10 or 12 new songs.

Hefner, all my friends agree with this statement, are a great live band , but you have yet to pull it off on record?

It is difficult because we record live, the thing is, we put on too many extras on top to make it smoother, maybe we should leave it as it is.

Are you all happy with Too Pure?

It can be difficult, they are a small label, we can’t compete with bands that get in the charts.  I guess so.

You did remixes on the 7” singles, why?

Too Pure wanted us to do multi format singles so we decided, if we wanted to release a 7” as well as 2 cd’s then we wanted it to be completely different.

How did Fortune And Glory find you?

Basically Hendricks used to play in a band with a member of Hefner a long time ago and he set up his own label.  He saw a few shows and was interested, so far I have always released records with people who are friends because they will push it.

interview by Tone

 

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 Lupine Howl  is the new project formed from the ashes of what was Spiritualized. Lupine Howl started off as a three piece consisting of Mike Mooney, Sean Cook and Damon Reece.  Since then Damon can’t commit full time to the band anymore to other commitments but still plays and writes a good percentage of the band’s first album `The Carnivorous Lunar Activities Of…….Lupine Howl`.   We spoke to Liverpool’s Mike Mooney.

The first single was released in January of 2000, how long were you together before that?

Me, Sean and Damon had been playing together in Spiritualized for 3 to 4 years, Sean had been in them for about 7 or 8.  We started working on material in about May/June of `99 and we worked through the year up to Christmas, then we released the first single, so we have been going for 16 months now.

I know Jason sacked all of Spiritualized but would you have done a side project if you were still all in Spiritualised?

I’m sure we would of done, we were talking about it, before we were sacked but in a way, we knew we were going to get sacked , things weren’t going well, simply because we asked to be involved more.

There have been three singles to date and the new one `125` has been quoted as benig a drug reference in Liverpool, true?

Yes, it’s true.

How would you describe your sound, it’s quite psychedelic, prog rock, quite heavy, intense?

I would describe it as that, it’s subject to change though.   If you look at `125`, the two songs on the b side, we are going to go more mellow and possibly abstract psychedelia.

I believe you have another project called `Applecraft`?

Yes, that’s right.

I have yet to hear any Applecraft, how do they sound?

It’s quite different, it’s a bit more Brian Eno, more spaced out, more mellow and gentle and the live version is quite rootsy and folky, no electric guitars just acoustic.

Do you fit in with the `Ochre` sound?

That’s hard to say.  I like the Ochre sound but, when I talk to Talbot about it, he wanted to branch out a bit anyway.  So I think, we are different to most of his stuff but he wanted to go down that avenue a bit more, I  think. 

Have you now got a stable line up because you started off as a three piece, then you had Portishead’s Adrian Utley playing with you, now you have Alex Lee from Strangelove in there, but these are all musicians from Bristol?

Hopefully, this line up will be the line up, as much as it can be because it’s the best one so far, even though Adrian and John from Portishead are fantastic musicians, they are busy with Portishead and it was never going to be that stable a line up, where this one feels pretty good. 

When did you first become interested in music because I believe you played with Julian Cope, Echo and The Bunnymen at some point?

And the Psychedelic Furs as well.   I got interested in music, when I was 16, I met a kid in school who could play quite well and I started playing drums and he showed me some stuff on guitar and it started from there.

How do you feel about doing heavy guitar music in the UK when the UK audience has gone off guitar based music?

I like it really because it’s always good to go against  the mainstream.

Can you remember the first time you met Julian Cope?

It was at Club Zoo in Liverpool, when he was doing a month residency with The Teardrop Explodes at their height and we took to each other straight away.

Can you see yourself working with Julian again?

Of course, he has mentioned it.

Did you work with Paul Simpson at all?

I was in the Wild Swans for a few days, I was the bass player before they kicked me out, because I wasn’t good enough.

interview by Tone

 

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  Mark Eitzel  was the driving force behind the beautiful works of San Francisco’s American Music club who produced six albums between 1985, starting off with `The Restless Stranger` which most people including myself didn’t get to hear till the CD re release in `98, this album is a great way to introduce yourself to the work of Mark Eitzel.  That album is only available on U.S. import but it is the only one of the three releases by A.M.C. that is still available, the other two being the last two releases on Virgin.  Lost now are the classic albums that are `engine` `California` and `United Kingdom`.  If you want to hear the works of Mark Eitzel several of his solo albums are still in the shops including his album `West` recorded with R.E.M’s Peter Buck.  Back in October last year, Mark spent every Sunday evening at London’s 12 Bar club previewing new material as well as a few A.M.C tracks to the select few whol sold out the venue in that month.   On the third Sunday, Mark agreed to give me an interview, and he was the perfect gentleman, and I would like to thank him for the many evenings that his music have kept me company.

You were born in San Francisco in 1959?

Yeah.

You started listening to music at a very early age, so I believe, you were listening to the Beatles in `65?

Yes.

I believe you got into Punk Rock really early on?

Yeah, when I was 17 years old. 

Was that while you were here?

Yeah, when I was in Southampton, I started writing songs.

What were the bands you were listening to and impressed you at the time?

The Adverts, The Stranglers, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and The Banshees before the album, before the first couple because they suck, The Damned.

Is that what made you want to get up on stage and do your own stuff?

Of course.

I have never heard anything by your first two bands, The Cowboys and Naked Skinnies, were they punk sounding?

Yeah, we were punk, we weren’t very good, we did Dead Boys and Sham 69 covers and stuff like that.  

I have never been to San Francisco or the States, was it a healthy scene at the time?

When I moved to San Francisco it was dominated by Flipper, I wasn’t into it because I wasn’t into hard drugs and everyone else was, so I didn’t get into it.  Drugs always make a scene hard or struck up and exclusive and I have never been into that and I found it to be really homophobic but it couldn’t be racist but if it could, it would be like Eminem.  

I believe you met the members of American Music Club because they came to one of your gigs, when you were in the Naked Skinnies?

Yeah, I met them at this punk rock club, the night I got banned from there forever and Vudi was in the crowd there.  He put the band together.

 I’m not going on about American Music Club, because it is covered in the book, but was it the band you wanted to produce the music you wanted?

No, I wasn’t happy from when it first started because they are really strict musicians, they weren’t very free, they didn’t like to improvise, they didn’t like to write songs, they left it up to me to write all the songs, which is why I’m still doing music because I had to rely on myself because I had no one to do anything else.

So no the whole it wasn’t a happy time?

It was a happy time but like the drummer would try and make everything like a new wave perfection, like all the beats had to be, he had a  B.P.M. year and everything had to be in perfect time, which is such a fucking bore, the band kept on rollin` so there must have been something there.

I did find with the first album, it was very new wavey but with second `Engine`, it was like the birth of Mark Eitzel, the storyteller.

I wrote all those songs, with `The Restless Stranger` I didn’t write them all.  I came up with some of the lyrics and some of the guitar lines but I only wrote half of the songs.

 So `Engine` was more your baby?

Well, not really, it was arranged by the band, it was a group decision to say well and we lost a drummer, I’m not sure who played no `Engine, but we had other drummers so.

Were you happy with the book `Wish the World Away` by Sean Body on the whole?

On the whole, I mean, you know, someone writes a book, the story of your life and you think of all the clever things you did and all the music people you have met and all the incredible  things you have seen and what comes out is an alcoholic stumbling over your own demolition, it’s weird work, I have talked to Sean about it and he is cool, I like him, I don’t hate him.

I don’t read much, I read the opening page to the chapter and I was like Oh, forget it but then it’s about me and I don’t even like looking in mirrors.

I believe you are a big book reader?

No, not a big one.

Would you like to write a book or do a book of poetry?

I’m a really, really terrible poet.  I’m a really bad poet, horrible, horrible, horrible poet, horrible.

Apart from the American Music Club, you played with Toiling Midgets.  Is that something you just fell into?

They were in the next rehearsal space to us.  And I liked the drummer, he ended up being in AMC and the Midgets.  

With every album release, you were well received and I have found the audience to be loyal, but I have found with the solo material it feels like you have moved on, but you still get stick for it?

I didn’t get stick for moving on, it was just the first album was not up to people’s expectations, it’s like light jazz, a middle aged record, I read that in a review but who cares?  It wasn’t that but the truth was I kept back songs I really wanted to play because they were too dark and I wanted something lighter and I kind of blew it that way, but I don’t think it was a terrible record.

After that you did the `West` album with R.E.M’s Peter Buck.  Did you enjoy it?

I just wish  we could of spent more time on it.

Because it was written really fast wasn’t it?

It was written fast and recorded in a week, I just wish I could of added on, I like it, it’s good.

I know a lot o people who don’t like it because it’s more a Peter Buck record than a Mark Eitzel record.

I just wish it was more his record, that is my only regret that we couldn’t call it the Peter Buck/Mark Eitzel record but we couldn’t because of legal reasons, and I feel sad about that.

There was talk of `West 2`, I take it it’s not going to happen?

No.

With each album, you have used different musicians.  Are they the people available that you think will suit the songs?

Mark: Yeah, pretty much so, who I like and who I can get.

Are there any projects      you would like to get involved with, because you did a remix for The Paradise Motel and that is something you haven’t done before?

Mark:   I worked on that with them.  Not really, I just want to finish my stupid record, I’m trying to write this musical with this guy.  I want that to be done and I can’t think of anything else.

I believe there is an American Music Club tribute album.  Is that something you came up with the idea for?

This guy called Paul Austin came up with it.  He is in a band called 1Willard Grant Conspiracy1.  It’s really good, I love it, but Paul came up with the idea.

Is there anywhere other than San Francisco that you would like to live?

I could live here.

interview by Tone

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