see previous interviews (#1)
|SLUMBER PARTY interview by Tone|
Slumber Party, from Detroit, are:
Julie Benjamin (drums);
Gretchen Gonzales (guitar);
Leigh Sabo (bass); and
Aliccia Berg (guitar, lead vocal).
They play a very cool Velvets-style laid-back guitar music which is now almost a forgotten art. They have two albums on US label Kill Rock Stars: Slumber Party (also on Poptones in the UK) and Psychedelicate. Both are worthy of your attention and you can find out more at their website www.slumberparty.50megs.com. Our man Tony Strutt tracked them down.
Tony: Why the name Slumber Party?
Aliccia: The name is from Kim Fowley. I called him up and he said Slumber Party and thats it. Do you know who Kim Fowley is? Because a lot of people dont know him at all.
Tony: Yes, I know him. I believe that youre all from Detroit and theres already an ex-member.
Aliccia: Marcie Bolen. Shes in the Von Bondies now.
Tony: So, apart from that, its all the original members?
Aliccia: Yeah. Actually, Julie was in the band before Marcie and she took a little hike but now shes back.
Tony: Youve released two albums on Kill Rock Stars. What attracted you to the label?
Gretchen: Oh gosh! They were the first takers. They were really nice, they let us do whatever we want. It was quick and easy.
Aliccia: They liked it when we were less than a year into it, when we did some four-track demos on a cassette. I dont think other people would have understood what we were doing necessarily, not that they werent good demos! *laughs*
Tony: What brought you together as a band?
Aliccia: Gretchen drives!
Julie: We all have a part that we do.
Tony: What attracted you to music? I imagine youve been going for a few years.
Gretchen: We were all doing things before we met each other. Leigh and I were introduced through our producer Mat Smith and Leigh was in The Circle. Then we found Julie on the street at a festival in Detroit, so it just worked out.
Aliccia: We all have similar tastes, that makes it easy.
Tony: The band names thrown at you are the John Cale version of the Velvets, the Shop Assistants and your voice sounds like the singer of Stereolab.
Aliccia: Sure. Thats what Ive read.
Tony: Do you like being compared to them? Well, you know the Velvets because theyre American!
Aliccia: *laughs* Honestly, another one they mention are Galaxie 500.
Tony: But THEY sound like the Velvets!
Aliccia: I think we all have similar record collections, similar tastes. I like to think I sound like Lou Reed but .*laughs*
Tony: Is this your first trip here? Have you enjoyed it?
Aliccia: Yeah, everyday.
Julie: Its been Glasgow, Nottingham, Lincoln, Manchester, Bath, Cardiff and two gigs in London.
Tony: How well have you gone down? Have people known you?
Gretchen: Lincoln was an off city, Bath was awesome.
Tony: Have you enjoyed it as much as playing in America?
Gretchen: I think its the same.
Aliccia: A little harder for us to get around. We are driving ourselves.
Tony: You play old-fashioned guitar rock whereas most US guitar rock is now nu-metal. Is what brought you together the fact that what youre doing is anti-fashion?
Aliccia: You know what I think brings us together? We hear an amp or a guitar tone or a drum tone and we all either like it or not like it, and it comes down to the tone, the warmth of it, and we play off each other.
Tony: Future plans?
Aliccia: New record, which we are recording now. Hopefully it will be out in the next few months.
Tony: Slumber Party: Thank you!
|DRESSY BESSY interview by Ged, Mawders and Kev|
Arthur Conley sang about sweet soul music. If there was a song about sweet pop music, Dressy Bessy would be the ones to write it. Theyve released two albums on Track and Field in the UK and a couple of extra things on Kindercore in the US and are touring to promote the latest album, the wondrously melodic Sound Go Round. Dressy Bessy are Tammy Ealom (guitar and vocals), John Hill (guitar), Rob Greene (bass) and Darren Albert (drums). The SoundsXP eds talked to Tammy and John before their Track and Field Night gig at The Water Rats.
SXP: Hows the tour going?
Tammy: Its going very well.
John: Really well. All the shows have been great.
Tammy: People are buying stuff. The merchandise it never really happened much last time.
SXP: We saw you at Reading.
Tammy: That was great. We liked the place.
SXP: What sort of level of gigs are you playing in America?
Tammy: Medium-sized clubs?
John: Yeah, yeah.
Tammy: Oh we play places like that (Reading) too. Thatd be classed as a warehouse show at home.
John: According to how big the city is. Bigger cities, we play bigger places.
SXP: And youve got a hometown gig at the end of the month. Do you still normally play Denver?
Tammy: We do play. Weve a practice space round Denver.
John: Yeah, we have a studio and a rehearsal space.
SXP: Theres not much biography on you on the web. We know bits about you: the fact that John was in The Apples In Stereo.
Tammy: He still is. Hes permanently in The Apples in Stereo.
SXP: How do you combine your interests in the two bands?
John: Well, two of my band members had a baby about a year and a half ago so that instantly freed up a lot of my time. Its kind of a juggle but everyone gives and takes with the schedule.
Tammy: Its staggered. A lot of the stuff Dressy Bessy does happens in the Spring. When we finish up, he has to go because in the Fall the Apples start up whatever theyre going to be doing.
John: This is the last push for Sound Go Round for now and the Apples are starting up in September. Ill be into that until June and then we start a record. Hopefully, we can keep it staggered.
SXP: Youre Denver natives?
Tammy: Were all transplants. Ive lived there since 1984. My father retired there from the military. Its an hour south of Denver, a town called Colorado Springs. And I finished high school there. So Ive been in Colorado almost 20 years.
SXP: How did you all come together?
Tammy: It came about .
John: over a few years.
Tammy: You and I had started dating two years previously and I had played in a couple of bands when he and I met and that sort of dissipated. He turned me onto the four-track cassette recorder and he taught me some guitar chords.
John: I taught her how to play bar chords.
Tammy: I started writing songs and trying to find people whod let me boss them around a little bit!
SXP: How did you meet Darren and Rob?
Tammy: I met Darren through my work actually. He brought Rob with him. He had a New York accent and I had just visited New York for the first time.
John: Theyre both from New York City.
Tammy: Right. Darren said thats so cool; I lived in New York. We started talking. He said he played drums and his friend Rob played guitar. And they came over and he played drums.
John: And Rob played guitar.
Tammy: Hes a good guitar player.
John: He played guitar for a while then he started playing bass. I actually started playing bass for, like, a week for about two practices or something.
Tammy: And then we started looking for a guitar player and he said ach, Ill do it! *laughs*
SXP: Your first single was Spring 1997. How long had Dressy Bessy been together before that?
Tammy: We met in October 1996 and our first show was January 1997 so pretty quick. We recorded that stuff on a crappy four-track that we had. And we really didnt do much with sound or anything. We just wanted to record what wed done and put it out.
John: Its just a practice recording.
Tammy: It was: oh, well make a record, its cheap!
SXP: You've put out quite a lot of records, judging by your website.
John: A lot of compilations.
Tammy: After the
first 7-inch came out, the person behind the Drugracer label in the UK wanted to put an
album out. At that time, we didnt have
that many songs. But wed have an EP and
put the 7-inch on there also. So, seven
songs, in a limited pressing of 500, is all he put out.
SXP: At Fridays gig in Reading, there were some tracks we didnt recognise.
Were working on recording some now. They may come out on the next album or singles. Theres a California EP that Kindercore put out in the US a year and a half ago. Thats got five songs and we played three from that record, I guess. Were considering putting it out as a 10-inch over here.
SXP: I wish you would. The tracks I didnt recognise sounded rockier, and for a gig they were perfect. Are you moving in a rockier direction?
Tammy: Its how weve always sounded live. Weve tried to capture that in recording.
John: I guess our live show is what we really are but weve just not been able to capture that precisely on a recording.
Tammy: We dont have a lot of money for our recording budget too.
John: That too. And were just learning and kind of throwing it together ourselves. But its getting more towards that and I think well probably get it next time to be more like a live show. If you could pull it off, I think we should have a live recording!
SXP: Your album covers are brilliant. Who designed them?
Tammy: Thank you. I did them!
SXP: I definitely want you to release a T-shirt with the Sound Go Round cover on it. Im a macho male but I want to wear a pink T-shirt! *laughs*
John: Iron it on!
Tammy: We actually thought about doing that [producing a transfer print] through the website. You could do it yourself!
SXP: [to John] Youre a little bit tasty arent you? I noticed during the [Reading] gig theres a little bit of goading of the audience. It was a joke wasnt it? Have you ever had anyone come back at you, under the influence of alcohol or whatever, and say you want some? In Liverpool that joke might not go down too well!
Tammy: You expect it when youre tall, I think. But weve gotten a reputation; people think were walking about on bubbles, things like that.
John: Yeah, cutesy! But I was joking, I really was! I didnt try to tell that joke there [in Liverpool] because a big guy might come out of the corner and say come here, Ill punch you!
SXP: [to John] I thought you were cute till I saw you the other night!
John: Just dont get in my way, alright!
SXP: On last Thursdays John Peel show, Peel read out a letter from a listener whod seen you in Oxford and said that the guitarist couldnt stop smiling all night. Do you enjoy playing live?
Tammy: Yeah. Best part of the day.
John: Really is. Love it.
SXP: You played for over an hour in Reading. You must have been shattered.
John: They asked us to play longer. We dont usually play quite that long. Later we decided it was too long! We were just drenched in sweat. But it feels good!
Tammy: Good exercise!
John: We played in Brighton and we had really cold air-conditioning. I didnt realise then but I realised on Friday: wait a minute, I think I prefer to sweat. Makes you feel like youre rocking!
SXP: Mighty Fudge Studios did the animation on your website. Do you like it?
Tammy: I love that cartoon. It was his idea; he picked the song. He didnt even know any of us that well. He was the friend of another friend but he nailed us, I think, our personalities, in the video.
John: But he made a full frame cartoon too. Have you seen it on the website? Thats like a broken down version of it. Its real detailed: its great on DVD.
Tammy: It was a challenge for him. And it raised his standards a notch. If you go to his website he got other cartoons. Some of them I dont like so much but you can tell he really stepped up with ours. Hes getting more attention round town too.
SXP: Do you encourage that cartoon image?
Tammy: That stuff kind of finds us anyway. Im way into the colours, the shapes, things like that anyway so I have no problem with it.
SXP: We noticed that some of your tracks were picked up for a film.
Tammy: But Im A Cheerleader. You seen that? Its an incredibly good movie!
John: Yeah, its really silly.
Tammy: Its all bright and kind of John Waters and all our favourites.
SXP: What songs do they use?
Tammy: They use Just Like Henry and If You Should Try To Kiss Her. They gave the songs a whole new meaning and they fit in there like theyre written for the movie. The whole soundtracks great. No-one put the soundtrack out but they should have. The movies about a teenage girl whose parents think shes a lesbian so they send her to rehabilitation camp to become straight. I mean ! RuPaul is the male camp councillor for the guys. Kathy Moriarty is in it, Natasha Lyonne, Bud Cort.
SXP: Sounds a bit kitsch.
Tammy: It is. Ridiculous! But its so good. Weve picked up a lot of fans from that movie. That thing [the soundtrack] was actually on Napster. A lot of people were downloading it.
SXP: You happy with people downloading your stuff?
John: It helps more than it hurts.
Tammy: I like to think someone will go try to find the record, like the package and buy it anyway.
SXP: Are you popular in particular US cities? Youve just toured there with Deathray Davies.
John: Weve been all over the States, mainly in the big cities but also in the little cities sometimes too. We did another tour after that tour. Weve done about 60 shows in the States this year. The East Coast is our best market.
SXP: Is there much of a Denver scene?
John: Not a particular scene. Its all one big scene.
Tammy: Lots of people have bands and theyre all doing things.
SXP: And you know them all?
Tammy: No, we dont! The reason we live in Denver isnt the scene. We rent a cheap house, we stay home, there are great restaurants around, its relaxing.
SXP: Whats playing in the tourbus?
Tammy: The gears!
John: Yeah, a song of diesel! *makes crunching engine noises*
SXP: What are your influences?
Tammy: Im reading The Shining right now! Maybe thats why Im . * growls*!
John: I started listening to hard rock first. I was fairly mainstream till I got to college.
Tammy: My dads a record collector so Id always have the Beatles, and Toto. I was really into Prince and Michael Jackson and stuff like that when I was in Junior High.
SXP: Were you ever into bubblegum pop?
Tammy: Oh yeah. When youre a kid any pop is bubblegum.
SXP: One of your reviews mentions the Archies.
Tammy: Yeah. We love the Archies.
John: I think the tambourines set it off. Like the whole 60s thing: you hear a tambourine, you think: bubblegum pop!
Tammy: Theres a lot more jangling with the Archies. Were more rocking, loud.
SXP: Tammy, youre the songwriter. Youve tapped into the classic pop single sound. Is that difficult?
Tammy: Thank you. Its fun. Im really hard on myself when Im sitting writing. It seems simple but its not as simple as youd think.
John: She works with a four-track. Shell start with a little piece, shell record a song and by the end of the day itll have been recorded six times.
Tammy: Right, because Ill rearrange it till I get it.
SXP: Live To Tell All is a great song. Its a shame it didnt get a full Dressy Bessy release.
Tammy: It came out as a single on Kindercore Singles Club and then Track and Field put it out as a split single. In the US, Kindercore are putting out a singles compilation and thats going to be a track on it. I love it so if its on CD it will give a whole different life to it. Hopefully theyll put out a DVD of the video for Thats Why so maybe youll have that too.
SXP: What next for Dressy Bessy?
Tammy: Were going to start work on another album, a new album coming up next Fall.
SXP: A long wait.
Tammy: Yeah. But well have the singles compilation come out. It going to have maybe a couple of demos on it and maybe a couple of live recordings.
SXP: Are you looking forward to playing live on the John Peel Show?
John: Oh yeah!
Tammy: All the girls like him. They all say: hes so sexy!
John: In the US, everybody in the know knows him.
SXP: Dressy Bessy, thank you very much!
|TENDER TRAP interview by Tone|
Tender Trap is the new project from Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey and DJ Downfall, all former members of K Records band Marine Research. Prior to this, Amelia had worked with Rob in the legendary Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, who ruled in indie-dom long before lad rock took over. So it was about being shy, who cares? It was cool. Most of all, it was about being oneself and being happy without an attitude. This new band has a simple and relaxing feel and over 13 tracks on Film Molecules (Fortuna Pop) we are offered solid songwriter stuff, experiments in electronic music, post rock and jangly guitars all with the unmistakable vocals of Amelia Fletcher. Our man Tony Strutt penned these notes and caught up with the band at a gig in June at the Toynbee Hall Arts Café.
Tony: Your history
covers Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, Sportique and Tender Trap. Have I
each project form out of the previous one, because you used similar musicians?
cool. Well, it never has been fashionable
Tony: What is the difference between Marine Research and Tender Trap?
Rob: What do you think?
Tony: How did you name each individual band - was there an idea behind
Tony: I believe you are about to celebrate your 16th
birthday in music?
Tony: Does it feel
like 16 years?
Tony: Along with
Sarah Records, to a degree you sort of invented twee. How does that make you
Tony (to Amelia):
You have a lot of shy male fans out there. Is that something youre proud of?
Tony: Yeah: They go: Amelia, she is so cute!
Tony: Yeah, they still do that! (*more laughter*)
Tony: But they still wont come up to you to talk after 16 years.
question from Sweden: what do you think is the best song youve ever written?
Tone: Out of all your bands, which is the one youre most proud
Tony: To be honest, I think this is your most mature album.
Tony: The new album is
quite different: the last track is post-rock. Can you see yourselves going down that
Tony: Do you think
that would alienate the original fans saying Oh theyve changed, Im not
going to be shy anymore, Im off to the pub and Im going to be a lad?
Tony: With each band, have any sold more than the others or has it just
Tony: Are you going to make MP3s available of stuff never released?
Tony: Is the next album written?
Tony: Last question. Have you ever wanted to be on Top of the Pops?
Tony: But would you have liked to have done it?
|top||Yeah Yeah Yeahs interview by Ged and Vanilla|
Nick Zinner plays guitar with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, probably the coolest American band right now (check out their website at www.yeahyeahyeahs.com). A three piece (Nick, vocalist Karen O and drummer Brian Chase), they make intelligent, heart-racing and air-punching music and also put on a thrillingly entertaining live show. The day before their gig at the Highbury Garage, they played the alternative stage at the Mardi Gras on Hackney Marshes, which suffered from bad organisation and poor attendance. Ged and Vanilla spoke to Nick before the Garage gig. PS: his favourite colours are black and red.
SXP: Did you like the Mardi Gras?
Nick: Not really I was kinda sick. It was really fun to have walked around and I would have really liked to have stayed and seen the Human League but they probably wouldnt have played any songs that I liked. Their first records a really good one but theyd probably just play Only Human and all those really stupid songs.
SXP: Did you stay to see the rest of the bands?
Nick: No. I saw the Cooper Temple Clause. Theyre alright. I really liked their first song. It was really intense. And then it took us two hours to get out of there. It was cool to just walk around and see the queer community in England. Everyone seemed really nice.
SXP: Hows the current tour going? Are you enjoying yourselves?
Nick: Its great. This is sort of like the last night. Its only been about two weeks but its been really fun. We got to play in Sweden and Denmark and its been fantastic.
SXP: Are you as popular there as youre becoming here?
Nick: I really dont know but there were a lot of people! We made the front page of the national Swedish newspaper [Dagens Nyheter]. Up on the top theres the masthead and a little picture of some tennis star and then a picture of Karen. Open it up and theres a huge colour picture of us! It was cool people there are really receptive.
SXP: Do you get the same sort of attention in America? You were a big hit at the South By South West Festival.
Nick: In New York we do. I think that [the SxSW Festival] sort of set things off. New York has been really good to us. We havent really toured that much outside the East Coast so its hard to tell.
SXP: Is there a renaissance in rock music?
Nick: I think theres definitely more really good bands now, more than ever, in the time Ive been listening to music and been involved in music. Yeah, its good.
SXP: Who are the bands that you rate now? The Liars?
Nick: *Laughs* Of course, the Liars! Theyre fantastic. I think The Rapture too. I havent seen their new thing but I used to see them a lot in New York about two years ago. Theres a band called Flux Information Sciences that I think are really great. They dont get too much press cos theyre sort of weird and kind of hard-edged, industrial. And all those other bands are great like The Strokes and White Stripes theyre all really good bands. Weve never felt part of this new rock community but we definitely support all those other guys.
SXP: The story of how you formed is that Karen said lets form a band and the next thing youre supporting the White Stripes. Was it like that?
Its pretty true! But they werent that big when we played with them and Karen and I had been working on this sort of quiet project that we still do sometimes so wed been playing together for a couple of months. But, yeah, she was: lets form a rock band and I was: Im really busy! The White Stripes were on tour with Sleater-Kinney at the time and they were playing the Mercury Lounge its a club like this in New York. We were first out of four so its not like as glamorous as it sounds.
SXP: We read a couple of days ago that youd signed to Ministry of Sound. Is that right?
Nick: *Laughs out loud* Not true at all! Ive heard that rumour. Where did you read that? [The Guardian] Are you serious? We havent. Thats so untrue! so, so untrue.
SXP: When will we hear more from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
Nick: We might be doing a single in September but as soon as we get back to Brooklyn next week were going to start recording the record and hopefully itll come out in January.
SXP: Will that be on Wichita?
Nick: We dont know yet. I can assure you 100% it will not be on Ministry of Sound!
SXP: When you go back to Brooklyn are you going to be playing as well as recording?
Nick: We have one show in Coney Island, theres a festival there that the Village Voice is putting on. Thats a free festival so were going to play at that. That will probably be it for New York because were coming back to Europe in August.
SXP: Karen was really energetic yesterday on stage. Do you have plans to get any backing dancers?
Nick: Hmm. Not yet! Its a good idea though! Shes a great dancer.
SXP: Is the fashion side of things that important to the band? I heard youve got Vogue coming tonight.
Nick: Oh really? Wow. Its secondary, not even third place. Thats what Karen looked like before she was in a band - we all look the same. I think its great to have a good image, to look exciting. No-one wants to see just a bunch of guys on stage. Well, unless youre Neil Young!
SXP: We saw you at the Monarch when Karen was wearing a Dior dress.
Nick: Its not Dior actually. Its designed by a friend called Christian Joy.
SXP: Really? We got that from Everett Trues magazine!
Nick: I know. They got a lot of things wrong. That little piece is really funny!
SXP: You all seem to enjoy yourself on stage.
Nick: Oh sure. Yeah, its really fun. Its a privilege that we have so its not a hassle. Especially if the crowd is really reactive. Though yesterday seemed a bit forced. It was like the worst organised festival.*laughs*
SXP: But you sold out this place really quickly.
Nick: Yeah, thats what I heard. Amazing.
SXP: Do you think US bands have more sense of history? And is there a classic youd like to cover?
Nick: I dont know. It really depends on what field of music that you listen to. America is so stratified. What we listen to, especially me, is all over the place. If its good, Ill listen to it. Ive never felt strongly about only listening to one style of music. We tried a Madonna cover once!
SXP: What were you listening to when you grew up?
Nick: Motley Crüe! I still listen to Motley Crüe! Their first 2 records are really good. And Bowie. We played that Meltdown festival and I think we played the second or the third to last night and it was: oh yeah hell be there for sure he didnt show up.
SXP: What about the Human League?
Nick: I just started to get into all that stuff about a year ago. I m just really interested in music from the late 70s and early 80s in New York and over here too. Great stuff. All the barriers came down and everyone started at square one. You know: what does rhythm mean? So much good stuff came out of there.
SXP: Is it easier or harder writing for a three piece because you make a big sound?
Nick: Its much easier!
SXP: So you wouldnt want a bass player.
Nick: No, not yet. I mean, maybe in a year or something. We tried playing with some other people before we started playing with Brian and it would take hours just to get one song down. Now, with Brian, Karen and I will have a song half written, bring it into practice and its done in 20 minutes. And it sounds great to us.
SXP: Tell us about Karen and Brian.
Nick: I think that Karen is a first class entertainer, a first class inspirer of people, she has a really good pop sensibility in the way she sings and in the delivery of the lyrics, really inspiring. To be honest, there are few women [in rock] now and, even out of those, few who are any good which sucks. I think shes great. I dont think shes even making a statement about: here I am, a woman doing whats called a mans thing. Shes just up there and doing it. Brian is an amazing musician. Hes a classically trained jazz drummer. He just hears things that no-one else does. Maybe wed be sitting around listening to music or something and hell be *beats on table* tapping out this great rhythm. Ill be: what are you doing? and hell be: Im dividing the rhythm into sevenths! But he can do anything thats his biggest strength. Its really inspiring.
SXP: Do you know anything about your support bands tonight?
Nick: The Loves? We actually asked them to play with us. We played with them in Cardiff. We were blown away. Theyre really cool. Theyre all really young and really cute and the musics catchy. I think theyre great!
SXP: Nick, thanks a lot!
Nick: Cool. Can I take your picture? I take a picture of everybody!
|top||Saloon interview by Ged|
Saloon play a wonderful spacerock, sometimes rocky, sometimes spacey definitely post-modern. Their album on Track and Field (This Is) What We Call Progress has garnered critical praise from, including others, the Sunday Times and Sunday Express while theyre being played on stations from Sweden to Slovakia and in the US, where the album is out on Darla, theyre picking up college airplay and the band have reached the CMJ radio charts. They spoke to SoundsXP in July 2002. Interview by Ged.
How did the band come together?
Your web site has a
series of strong, colourful images of the band and we saw you wearing Kraftwerk / Joy
Division uniform on stage. Who has the creative vision in the
Youre playing the ICA in July, accompanying the film La
Jetée. What attracted you to the project?
Is film important to Saloon? (Bicycle Thieves would
sound great on a soundtrack.)
You seem a particularly culturally literate band. Favourite
film/record? Michael: God. Impossible question. I like Wes Anderson a lot
at the moment, and La Jetée is huge - it'll pickle you if you think about it
too much. I love NYC 70's stuff too like The French Connection,
Klute and The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3 and political stuff like
Z and The Battle Of Algiers. The Big Lebowski
and Being John Malkovich have a lot of good memories - I've seen them so many
times, and with the same set of people funnily enough. They know who they are.
Oh, and Magnolia. As for Favourite Record - Two Lone Swordsmen's
Tiny Reminders gets better and better. Herman Dune's last CD is great.
I've always loved Sticky Fingers and Loaded by The Velvets.
I'm looking forward to DJ Shadow's album and the new Primal Scream record. That's
all I'm prepared to say today.
You play analogue synths and have a sort of retro-futurist feel.
Does that make you young fogeys?
Are you happy with the album and with coverage of it (reviews in the
Sunday Times and Sunday Express!)?
Reviews have compared you to Stereolab, Broadcast, Beth Orton, Talulah
Gosh, Belle and Sebastian and Doctor Who! Do you find this flattering or
Your album is a mix of styles, moods and tones, a mixture of the organic
and mechanical are such contrasts deliberate?
You didnt include previous singles, which included the two that made
the biggest impression on the Festive 50 (Free Fall no 49 and
Impact no 12), on the album. Was this a matter of principle?
Youre playing the Contem-pop-ranea
festival in Spain in July and we understand youre getting playlisted on US college
stations. Do you have much of a European or US following yet?
Weve seen you at plenty of Herman Düne gigs and Alison and Amanda
have both helped out the band. Given you play rather different music, is there a
particular affinity between the bands?
Tell us about your Rodney Cromwell offshoot. And does the fact
that you have a track Radagast the Brown on a tribute album to The Lord of the
Rings suggest youre a fan of sword and sorcery?
What was the last record to stop you in your tracks?
|top||Ant questions posed by Ged and Kev|
Anthony Harding (Ant) is both drummer with Hefner and a solo artist of growing repute. Hes just released his first full album, the gorgeous A Long Way to Blow a Kiss on Fortune & Glory Records. This is an album of stolen kisses and silent passion, and is one which shows an emerging talent for lo-fi Nick Drake-like sweet melancholy. Ged and Kev quizzed him in June 2002.
songs you perform solo and with Hefner are mostly love songs but they are very different
types of love song. Is Ant always a Nick Drake romantic type or is there another
side of you we've not yet glimpsed?
sound is low-fi and pared down. Is that for financial reasons or how you want the
songs to sound? And if someone offered a big production and a full orchestra, would
you take them?
you enjoy making videos for Hefner? And in the video for Good Fruit, why are
you hiding behind your drums while everyone else is doing the Hefner linedance?
went to art school. Apart from sleeve art, do you draw seriously for other purposes?
your songs, are you singing to a particular person or persons?
there one song/record you wish you'd written?
Questions posed by Ged and Kev
|top||Bearsuit interview by Ged|
|How did the band come together? Iain, lisa and matt moss went to school together, always talking
about doing something but seldom doing it. matt moss was the only one who owned, let alone
knew how to play, an instrument. but the coffee got cold and we buckled down and gave up
everything to move to the centre of the musical universe (norwich) where we met jan,
cerian and matt hutchings. luckily they COULD play instruments, so we latched onto their
talents and ate their sandwiches.
Are you a traditional (guitars, bass, drums) band who added brass, keyboards and extra percussion or did you always have that bigger sound in mind? When we started, iain and lisa's intention was to sound like the pixies, so there wasn't much space for anything other than guitars bass and drums. but how boring is that? the songs iain started making up required something less obvious, so we had to recruit people who knew what they were doing, and decided to try and sound like no other band. ocarinas, marimbas, electronic rulers etc. were still trying...
Whos responsible for the visual side of the band cartoons and sleeves?All of bearsuit contribute. we're all in the polaroids on the back of our singles. we all take turns to do a single cover. our original drummer, emma, did the sleeve for 'hey charlie, hey chuck'- a design classic. iain did drinkink and cerian did stop what youre doing drunken people at discos do our sleeve inserts.
Youre based in Norwich but is it true that youre not from there originally? lisa, iain and matt moss are from sussex- the hell of bognor regis and chichester to be exact. jan's from doncaster, matt's from london and cerian's welsh but grew up in burton upon trent. all pulled to Norwich by forces we can't explain.
Where does the bands name come from - is it from Hotel New Hampshire(i.e. Susie the Bear, the woman in the bearsuit)? One day we will have enough pennies to construct a full bearsuit for use in the field. our disguises will be complete. until that day, merely our arms and feet are hidden by fur.
How did you feel when you found out you were number 4 in the Festive Fifty? Do you get advance warning or is it a total surprise? And if you voted, who and what did you vote for? Total surprise. incredible shock. that people remembered even hearing that song. still can't take it in. must have been a fix.
3) camera obscura- 80s fan
2) mika bomb- supersexyrazorhappygirls(maybe wrong year?)
1) ladytron- he took her to a movie
What influences Bearsuit, in terms of music and other media? Our daily experiences in the conquest of space and the foreign films and cartoons they show on the flight deck
Youre not playing live from March to May. What are you doing instead? Recording the rest of the album; a singles collection of the four singles and their b-sides called 'in charge of meats', should come out late summer. it's hard work because we're not very professional and we're recording it in a number of front rooms rather than in an actual studio. a studio is 'not very bearsuit'. 3rd single 'stop what you're doing what you're doing is wrong' is out 10th june. we're also rehearsing new material and fixing our ropey equipment in time for gigging in may and june.
What are your ambitions for the band? it's essential that we keep putting out as much material as we can before our small following turns against us and lynches our bearmobile in disgust at our new nu-metal direction. we've just got to be better. it can be done. stay alive. no matter what, i will find you...
|top||The Workhouse interview by Tone|
|The Workhouse are a 4 piece who hail from Oxford and London. The
band have been making music for about 3 years and have released records on Emmas House,
Rocket Girl and a fierce Panda spin off label. Their new single Nancy is released soon.
The music they make is somewhere between The Kitchens of Distinction, The Chameleons, and
Slowdive meets shoe gazing and Post rock. I spoke to frontsperson Mark Baker.
TO DATE YOU HAVE ONLY RELEASED MATERIAL ON VINYL, ANY REASON FOR THAT? Apart from having a track called Peacon on the Rocket Girl Compilation yes all of our releases have been on vinyl. No label has proposed a CD release for us and because offers of releases are few and far between we are glad of any format to get the music out there.
IS IT THE SAME LINE UP?Well we have a new bass player who joined last Autumn. Chris brings more creativity to the band and a decent quiff. We have the big fella (Andy) and mark on guitar duty and peter on the drums.
A LOT OF YOUR MATERIAL IS INSTRUMENTAL DO YOU THINK THIS GIVES THE MUSIC MORE ROOM TO BREATH?Yes of course. We are into sounds as much as songs and some of our melodies sound better on the guitar than sung. Although we are not adverse to singing or getting someone in to sing the thought of auditioning lots of megalomaniac front persons scares us. Songs based around vocals tend to be formulaic so having no voice allows the verse/chorus yelling thing to be broken.
YOUR MUSIC REMINDS ME OF SLOWDIVE/KOFD/CHAMELEONS. ANY INFLUENCES? Yeah the chameleons were a common liking in the early days and was a pre-requisite of band member adverts. If you don't like the chameleons your'e not in sort of thing. Kitchens were brill too, the sounds and great songs almost make them the perfect band. Live they were awesome. Slowdive too but not as much as the other two. We like all sorts of stuff but these bands and the likes of RIDE, BOB MOULD, JOY DIVISION, MBV, inspired us to get off our arses and do something.
HOW DID THE BAND GET TOGETHER? Good old NME classified pages, but of late we just ask friends to help out. Mark put an add in the paper in 1992 for a whole band really and prompted peter to get involved. We spent years doing bedroom stuff before big fella joined again through the NME.
THE USUAL SUPPORT IS ONLY 4 SONGS ANY PLANS TO EXTEND THIS? Yeah I think we usually play at least 5 or 6 these days. Its all about the impact you achieve by playing a short varied set. Theres nothing worse than seeing an instrumental band going on and on it gets a bit much and self congratulatory. As we get older our memory goes too, so we can only remember how 5 or 6 songs are played!
WHY THE WORKHOUSE? When we first formed alot of music was doom laden and the name fitted perfectly. Songs like WORK IS DEATH which we don't do anymore. The name has stuck since then although we hope the music is more uplifting these days. People don't expect us to play the kind of music we do based on the name so it is good to undercut peoples expectations. Anyway its good to remind people that the workhouse was the most depraived exploitation of working people ever and we must not go back to that.
A US COMPILATION ALBUM IS DUE SOON WHEN WILL WE GET THE NEW FULL ALBUM? When we have some cash available to do it. Its bit of an uphill struggle sometimes as most labels do not say record this and we will release it. Its usually down to us to record upfront and hope someone will release it.
FUTURE PLANS? We release another single in the spring. This is a split single with fotomoto on Jonathan Whiskey Records and is called Nancy. We have the singles coming out on CD in the US also this spring. We are also looking to release something in the UK aswell. Along the same lines with the singles and a few remixes, looks like we will be doing it on the vacuous pop! label. After this, well gigs and recording of the new stuff and who knows.
|top||Stephen Hero interview by Tone|
|Stephen Hero is the new moniker for ex-Kitchens of Distinction
frontman and bassist Patrick Fitzgerald. From
1989 to 1994 KoD produced three classic albums for One Little Indian. While still in KoD, Patrick started his first solo
project Fruit, who produced one 7 for Rough Trades singles club back in
94 before releasing Fruits only album Hark At Her and the single
What is Fruit, both for One Little Indian.
KoD finally split in 1996 after releasing the Feel My Genie/To Love a
Star on Fierce Panda, which was the only record to be credited to Kitchens O.D. Between KoD and Stephen Hero he formed another
band The Lost Girls with Heidi Berry. Stephen
Hero have released two mini albums Landed (now sold out) and
Lullaby. A joint single for
Track & Field with Cane 141 and a new album for Artful records Darkness and the
Day have just been released. For more information go to www.stephenhero.co.uk. Tony Strutt met up with Patrick before his gig for
Track & Field at the Arts Café in Commercial Street in March 2002.
Stephen Hero is, I believe, your fourth band unless there was anything before Kitchens. Yes, there was something before Kitchen but it doesnt count. We didnt make any records.
Just out of interest, what was their name? The Surrogate Mothers! (laughs).
I believe the Stephen Hero discography includes the mini-album Landed which is now deleted. Will you make that re-available? What we would like to do at some point is to do Landed and Lullaby as a one-album CD at some point. We will wait and see really how the new album does and if it goes well. Then we will go for a re-press/re-release.
Because I believe it was a bit of a hush-hush release and no-one knew who you were. Absolutely. I was being hush-hush, it was like here is something thats small, its just a little thing and its grown and its done well, so Im excited again. So there you go.
Your name is Patrick Fitzgerald. How pissed off are you that you cant use your old name because of some punk guy from 1978? Well, he was there first! I cant complain.
But its your name. Yeah, it is my name but I didnt want to confuse people. He came to a show I did under my own name, the first time I ever played on my own, and he said please dont so I stopped. I just thought: fair enough. I dont want to be confused with him so now people have started to call me Stephen, so now I have changed my name, which is quite exciting!
I thought the only other way round it was to do it like an email like The Patrick Fitzgerald Tens or whatever? Yeah. But because it was usually a band set up, I thought Id go for a band name.
Fruit was a solo project. And now Stephen Hero which you write most of the material for. All of it.
And with the Lost Girls you wrote with Heidi Berry. Has the way you write songs changed from Fruit to Stephen Hero? For Stephen Hero stuff its been really different, because I didnt give myself any limits. I tried to go back to what I was doing at the beginning of Kitchens, which was to become unfettered by the expectations of record companies and try to enjoy the music again, for exactly the reason why I did it in the first place. I think it was a long process of deconstructing my head and trying to get back to what thrilled me. And Landed was just such an experimental thing for me to be able to do, with Lullaby on its heels. I was so free to be able to do what I wanted. I love it but with the new record Darkness and the Day I have made a pop record but I have done it because I wanted to do it and I didnt feel any constraints. I just enjoy myself, which is really nice because at the end of the Kitchens career it was really horrible because we were being harassed by the record company to come up with material like: we need this, we need that. It just wasnt what we wanted to do. We did what they wanted, we thought we did, and it was just awful! (laughs).
How did Stephen Hero develop after The Lost Girls? It was going at the same time. What happened was that the Stephen Hero stuff all started with an arts concept that I did with this New York artist. I did music for his pictures and I called it Stephen Hero music, it was all instrumental, its on the website, and it came from there. And I started writing songs that didnt fit in with The Lost Girls things and ended up with a collection of songs.
The Lost Girls sets were 40-45 minutes long. Are there any songs from that period because there are only three tracks on the single. Have any turned up on Stephen Hero records? One on the new record New York City, thats it. But Ive been talking to Heidi and we are still keen to release a lot of the stuff we had recorded. Its just the ways and means to do it. We loved it. We did about 18-19 tracks.
I was going to ask if Stephen Hero will turn into a band but it looks like you have one. Da da! (points to band on stage).
I know Dave Morgan (drummer) from years ago, Weather Prophets days, but I dont know Kim (bass). Kim Smith. I know her because she was a Lost Girl.
I was told that you did something at the Riverside Studios. I did music for a play for a theatre company in Wales called Volcano, the second production Ive done for them and Im working for them again. Now Im writing a musical (laughs) which is good, its fun, completely different from this, and Im scoring a movie so its very hectic at the moment.
I was going to ask is this full-time? ts more full-time than its ever been and Im enjoying it in a way that Id forgotten. I think the last time I enjoyed myself this much was 1989-90, the first Kitchens album, when it was all exciting. Its great again.
Youre now on the same label as the Chameleons, and Kitchens of Distinction were always branded in the same way. Strange, strange times.
Very strange times. Were they ever an influence? You know, I never heard a Chameleons album till the second or third KoD album. Dan our drummer liked them. I didnt know them at all, which was bad because Im from Manchester so I should have known them. Then I heard it and I thought: I do like this. Bought all their records, I really like them. I didnt see a connection between the two bands.
Its the jangly guitars. I dont hear it. Well, a little bit.
You havent met them yet?No, went to see them though in Manchester, at the Ritz.
Future plans? Another single coming out in May which is off the album, scoring the movie. Should have a video of it today.
Whats it called? A Bridge three times around the Sun. Its a 40-minute short directed by John Hardwick who does Travis and James videos. Its cool, very nice.
Neil Halstead interview by Tone
|Neil Halstead has just delivered his 7th
album, called Sleeping On Roads (4AD). He is the main songwriter of 4ADs
country-tinged Mojave 3 and three of the members of Mojave 3 were in Neils previous
Why did you choose at this point to make an album? It just seemed like the right time to do it. I suppose because I had a bunch of songs and I just wanted to do something different from Mojave 3 and that was just the way I felt, I didnt just choose the time, it just felt .
the right time! Prior to Slowdive, what was your musical history? Were you a bedroom troubadour, is this how you started? I suppose like most people, I started playing guitar when I was 13 and the first thing you do is to try and play other peoples songs like Beatles stuff and basically went through my parents record collection, Beatles songs, Dylan songs. The first time I went on stage was with a band called The Pumpkin Fairies and we basically sounded like the Jesus and Mary Chain. So I had never played acoustic guitar live. By the time I got to the point where I was in a band and ready to play outside of a bedroom, I was sort of into noisy music.
How did the original Slowdive get together? Were you at university together or did you know each other? None of us went to university. I was at school with Rachel and we were in the band The Smashing Fairies, which was me, Rachel, this other guy and this guy called Adrian Solos (?) who was the drummer, and we got a different bass player in and at some point we changed the name to Slowdive. Then we got another guitarist in called Christian. Christian actually joined the band because he wrote us some nice letters because he knew we were looking for a guitarist and he had seen us play a few times in Reading. At that point, he was doing a fanzine for My Bloody Valentine and I guess he liked us because we sounded like them. So he wrote these letters but we were looking for a female guitarist so he offered to wear a dress if he could play in the band! So we were like: fuck it! Come on in. And thats how we started. We did a demo.
You got signed really quickly as well? Yeah, we did a gig supporting 5:30 and basically the guy who signed them knew Alan McGee and gave him a tape and McGee phoned up a few days later and offered to put out an E.P.
You told me before that Slowdive were trying to sound like the JAMC/MBV. But with Mojave 3 were you trying to sound like Nick Drake and Tim Buckley because the style is different? No, I think when we originally started Mojave 3 we were into Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Cowboy Junkies but I dont think we knew what .when we went into record the first record, it was just done, we didnt have a deal or anything, we just went in to record a few songs. We went in there open-minded and I had written the songs on an acoustic so I thought Id play them on an acoustic and there happened to be a piano in the studio so Rachels husband, Chris Andrews, came down and played piano. It was put down in a couple of days and we had six songs and we thought we would go away. We didnt know what to do with it and I guess we might have put loads of stuff on top of it. But we didnt and we put it out without any changes. But I suppose I was listening to a lot of Nick Drake and a lot of Patsy Cline and Hank Williams and stuff, you know, really minimal.
I think as you get older your musical tastes do change. Do you miss the loudness and ambiance of Slowdive? Yeah, sometimes I do. Its nice really, the good thing about Slowdive was it was nice to kick out live.
I noticed, on the second Slowdive album you worked with Brian Eno. Was that a good experience? Yeah, it was pretty entertaining. I worked with him for about a week. The first thing he did when I walked in the studio with him was to rip the clock off the wall and put it by the mixing desk and he said youre going to play guitar and Im going to record it. I dont care what youre going to play, just play something and after an hour well work on something different. So it was a weird working method. He was a fascinating bloke, he was very funny, very clever. I was completely in awe of him, I was 19 or something.
Were there many songs from that period, apart from the aborted second album, that have gone missing or never got released? There is quite a lot of stuff that never came out and there is a whole film soundtrack that never came out.
Mojave 3, live and on record you do sound different. A lot of people say that there isnt enough of Rachel on record, is there a reason for that? I think there are a lot of different reasons for all of that. Rachel does tend to sing a lot but I suppose I write most of the songs, I tend to sing most of them.
I believe that in Slowdive you and Rachel wrote everything? No, I wrote everything.
There were a few things credited to her? There were a few tunes written by the whole band but I wrote 80% of the Slowdive material but at that point I didnt sing.
Onto the solo album. Writing these songs was it easier or harder? No, it wasnt difficult, I dont think I had a different approach when I wrote the songs. All it allowed me to do was to play a different style of guitar, which I cant really do with Mojave 3 because theres not a lot of space in the songs to have that sort of guitar going through them. So that was nice and it was nice to do something in that style.
Did you know how different you wanted it to sound because live it sounds like you and on record, to be honest, I could say it sounds like someone else. But you could be aiming at a different market or want new people to hear it? I just wanted to make a record that was me, thats where Im at on my own. I guess when Im playing with Mojave 3, I sing the songs, I play the songs but really there are six other people doing their thing as well and the way we sound is where the group is. This record is me and I suppose the things that are on there are the things Im into personally.
Is the end result better than you expected? No, not at all. Its not quite the record I was expecting but I was pleased to get it done, certain things Im really pleased with. It was a fun record to do.
Would you do another solo record? I hope so.
Ive noticed that all three Mojave 3 albums have 9 tracks and each is 38 minutes long but the solo one is 11 minutes longer. Do you think this is the ideal length for an album? I do think there is a certain amount that your brain can really deal with in one sitting. I grew up with records and I have always been into two sides, an A side and a B side. And for me, 40 to 50 minutes is as much as I can take.
Your opinion on the Strokes? I love the Strokes, I think the albums great. Never seen them live. I think they look cool. And if I was 16, Id be totally into the Strokes.
Your album: on the whole its more Nick Drake sounding than Tim Buckley sounding. Would you agree? Yeah. Id definitely say so. I dont think its Tim Buckley sounding.
On Two Stones in My Pocket, theres a distorted vocal, is that just mucking about with the vocal? I think its just the way it was recorded. It was recorded at home.
Driving with Bert. Is that Bert Jansch? Yeah, that was what inspired the title.
I think thats the one thats a bit twee because of the violins, etc. I think that sounds like early stuff by Love. Yeah, I guess so, its got that slightly Mexican trumpet. We were going for a spaghetti western vibe.
See You On the Rooftops this one sounds more like the Velvets or Slowdive with a freakout at the end. Would you like to do more of this? That was a lot of fun to do, the idea was to do a more surf-style Dick Dale ending. It didnt really end up that way.