Search this site

home albums singles gigs interviews soundsxp

interviews                        [ page 8] 

April 2003

[ on this page ]

The Loves
The Projects
The Rogers Sisters

[ on page 7 ]


[ on page 6 ]

Ladybug Transister
Marshmallow Coast

[ on page 5 ]

Of Montreal
Sister Vanilla
Ted Barnes

[ on page 4 ]

Donald Ross Skinner
Great Lakes
Mendoza Line
The Pleased

[ on page 3 ]

Butterflies of Love
Ian McNabb

[ on page 2 ]

Dressy Bessy
Neil Halstead
Stephen Hero
Slumber Party
The Workhouse
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

[ on page 1 ]

Earl Brutus
British Sea Power
Camera Obscura
Mark Eitzel
David Gedge
Jack Hayter
Kristin Hersh
Tom Hingley
Robyn Hytchcock
Lupine Howl
The Rogers Sisters interview by Ged M, Paul M and Kev O

Rogers Sisters 'n da public house 0404.jpg (27211 bytes)The Rogers Sisters are from Brooklyn, New York, having migrated there from Michigan and Hawaii.  They released their first single Let’s Fly Away on Motor Sister Records in 2001 followed in 2002 by their much acclaimed self-titled album and a single Calculator, both on Troubleman Unlimited Records.  They release I’m A Ballerina backed with a staggering version of Zig Zag Wanderer on 7” on For Us Records in April 2003.  The music is a heady blend of garage rock, post punk funk and soulful energy adding up to some nifty shimmering dance moves and a punch up the bracket.  We interviewed Jennifer R (guitar, vocals), Laura R (drums, backing vocals) and Miyuki Furtado (bass, vocals) in a Camden pub shortly before their XfM gig at the Barfly on 12 March. 

SXP: We’d just like to ask you some questions.

Jennifer: OK. You can ask them but I don’t know if we’ll answer them! *laughs*

SXP: You’ve from different parts of the USA so why did you gravitate to New York?

Jennifer: Because New York is great!

Laura: We’re from Detroit and Detroit is very depressing.

Miyuki: I moved from Baltimore to New York and it’s great.  New York is the best city I think I’ve ever been to.

Laura: If you’ve ever been to Baltimore you might understand!  Nothing personal! 

Miyuki: I moved for culturally enriching experiences and culinary reasons!  I’m from Hawaii and I’ve always wanted to move to New York.  Hawaii’s like a small town.  If you’re born there, there’s not many things that you can do.

SXP: Can you hula?

Miyuki: I can, in fact, hula.   

Jennifer: I can hula too and I’m not even from Hawaii.

Laura: I can do a very slow hula.

Miyuki: Actually, my mother was a professional hula dancer.  She went on tour to the East Coast of the United States doing a bunch of shows.  Her speciality was the dance with the bamboo strips. 

SXP: Has Williamsburg always been trendy or is this a recent phenomenon?

Jennifer: It’s been growing slowly for a long, long time.

Laura: The last three years have been the biggest boom where all of a sudden everyone has to live there.  It’s probably the greatest place to live. But it’s been happening slowly with artists moving to loft spaces over the last 10 years. 

Jennifer: Because there are a lot of industrial areas where you can get bigger lofts.  It used to be pretty dangerous so it was very cheap back then.  I remember looking at apartments with big gaping holes in the floor that they want you to fix! *laughs*

Laura: Our apartment has slanted floors now!  You put your bed at the end and when you’re tired you lie at the top and slide into it!

Jennifer: Williamsburg is not known for its architecture.  It’s an ugly, ugly little area.  

SXP: Any band who’s anybody these days seems to come from New York.  Are you friends with any of these?

Jennifer: Sure, we see each other around a lot.  We’re really close with a band called The Broke Review.   Half of them are from England, half of them are from America and they live in New York.  We’ve played shows with lots of bands: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, Oneida, Radio 4.  We haven’t played with Out Hud but we know them. 

Laura: Everyone crosses paths at some point.  It’s like a small town within a city.

SXP: How did you all meet up?

Miyuki: A mutual friend of ours was getting a haircut from Jen – she actually gave me a haircut too.  She went to beauty school. They were playing at a party; actually it was going to be Jen first, then Jen asked Laura if she could play…

Jennifer: …because I was too shy to do it alone.

Miyuki: Then they decided they needed a bass player and they asked our friend Robbie and he said “oh yeah, I know a bass player”.  I’d moved up not that long before and we went over and there’s eight songs.

Jennifer: The day before the party he came to meet us at our rehearsal space and learned eight songs in one evening so we went and sang karaoke; we did ‘Purple Rain’ and he brought down the house.  And then the next day we played the party with no practice and you remembered all eight songs. 

SXP: Were you all in bands before the Rogers Sisters?

Laura: uh-huh.

Jennifer: we’ve always been in bands. [Laura and Jennifer were in Ruby Falls]

SXP: Any embarrassing bands you’d like to confess to?  

Jennifer: Well, Miyuki was in one that some people might think embarrassing but we think is really cool. He was in a polka band.

Miyuki: I was also in a funk band.

Jennifer: He also played dub reggae.  He’s played every kind of music.

SXP: [to Miyuki] Was your polka band in NY?

Miyuki: It was in Baltimore.  It was a collective of 7 or 8 people and we mainly did Zappa kind of stuff and we did a lot of old Beatles and soul stuff and for some reason we got into polka and we never stopped!

SXP: Is there a big polka scene in Baltimore?

Miyuki: There’s a huge polka scene at this place called Bob’s Bar!  Whenever we played I was the youngest one by about 30 years!  And they drank tons more than I did!

SXP: Didn’t you set out to play dance music originally?

Jennifer: Not necessarily dance – not like disco.  Personally, I always enjoyed dancing to rock’n’roll so I always wanted to play rock’n’roll that we could dance to.  Because it was fun and it made us laugh.

SXP: The current New York bands, like The Rapture, play music you can dance to. 

Jennifer: I think it’s a great trend.  It’s way more fun to go out now than it used to be.

Rogers Sisters live - Jennifer 0404.jpg (32134 bytes)SXP: I noticed that Mojo magazine commented that your album “had ignored the last 22 years of musical evolution”.

 Jennifer: We loved that!  It was funny.

Laura: I guess that could have meant a lot of things but we took it to be a good thing to say.

SXP: Have you ever thought of having beehives?  Because there’s a B-52s thing going on.

Jennifer: No, no way!  I’ve had one before but not in the band.  

Laura: We like to be a fun party band but we also like to be a rock band and not a joke band.  We like to be a fun, serious party band! *laughter*

Miyuki: We love the B-52s but the only things we were interested in were the guitar parts and the beat really.  I think that’s where it stops.

Jennifer: It was totally not a conscious inspiration. We don’t have keyboards and stuff like that.

Laura: I think if we were three guys singing or a different combination other than two girls and a guy people wouldn’t say that every single time. 

Miyuki: To get away with the Fred comparisons I’m going to sing only in falsetto!  With a French accent!

SXP: Who writes the songs?

Miyuki: We all write it together for the most part but there is some stuff that we bring in separately.  We all get inspired by one another.  We all work together.  It’s all equal.  We’re a unit.

SXP: Do you recognise the early 80s sound as an influence?

Jennifer: We do.  We’re trying to find out more about the Rough Trade stuff, the English and European releases.  We really, really love the Slits.  No-one ever says that – how much we love them.

Miyuki: I love Gary Numan.

Laura: Yeah, that’s where a lot of the songs for this record come from.

SXP: It’s bizarre that bands like Interpol are now throwing influences like Joy Division back at us from that side of the Atlantic.

Laura: The funny thing we notice over here is how everyone is trying to play classic rock, Southern rock from the States.  It’s the same thing for us: “why are they doing that”?

Jennifer: I guess there’s not much classic rock on the radio here so it’s quite exotic.  But all the music seems to be made by people from here.  There’s a fascination with New York bands here but we’re all playing English music.  It’s really yourselves that you care about still, right?

SXP: In the early 90s, everyone wanted to be Nirvana but most gave up when they realised that they couldn’t pull it off.

Jennifer: “It’s not in our blood!  That redneck trailer trash vibe is not part of our heritage”!  Well, we’ve got it.  We’re just hiding it better!  We also love ATV.  And Subway Sect!  I want to get their record because my boyfriend’s band, the Broke Review, is covering one of their songs.  Oops, I just spilled the beans!  That’s my boyfriend’s band! *laughs*  They just did a Subway Sect cover and it’s so great I want to get that record.  We’re going to Rough Trade tomorrow so I might go on a shopping spree.

SXP: Are you doing a single for Rough Trade?

Jennifer: Yes, for the shop label (For Us).  That should be coming out some time in April, hopefully.

Miyuki: We just got done recording the B-side and actually we have the masters and artwork with us to give to them tomorrow.  They’ve been so nice to us.  They’re the ones who inspired us and got us ready to come over.

Jennifer: They were so supportive of the record that a lot of people got in touch because they saw it there.

SXP: It’s a great shop and a great label.  They signed the Detroit Cobras.

Jennifer: Really? We’ve played with them.  She has an amazing voice.  And I always like watching Mary play guitar.  She’s awesome.

Laura: We saw them in Detroit once and she was on fire.  When we played with her she was being shy in New York.

SXP: They played here recently at the Astoria and Garage.

Jennifer: Did she sing Irma Thomas’ Cry On? Oh My God…her rendition is amazing!  She can really sing.  She’s so good.

SXP: The morons at the Astoria gave them a hard time.

Miyuki: Well we did hear how vocal you Englanders are when it comes to seeing shows.  We were a little nervous too. 

Jennifer: Is it “Englo-i-cans”? Everywhere we go they say “oh here you must call the people Glasgow-kians” or whatever.  Every town has its own ending to its name. 

Miyuki: Yeah, Mancurians, Liverpudlians, Scow-ssers, right? 

SXP: Well, one of those was right! *laughs*

Miyuki: what do you call people from Nottingham?  Nottinghammers? *laughter*

Jennifer: We heard before we came that people were going to yell stuff and throw stuff.  But they’ve been really fun and crazy, dancing.  We’ve been lucky.  Our booking agent got us some good bills!

SXP: We hear that you’re enthusiastic on stage.

Jennifer: We gave him (Miyuki) a Native American nickname on this tour: Falls On Head A Lot!

Miyuki: We played in Bath with a really good band called Bucky.  You should definitely check them out.  Best band I’ve seen in a long time.

Jennifer: They’re our new best friends.  They’re insane people. Very punk rockabilly!

Miyuki: They got us so inspired we ended up going nuts!

Laura: Miyuki knocked all my drums over at the last song. They were gone!

Jennifer: She was just playing whatever was left.

Miyuki: That was when I accidentally whacked my head upside Jen’s guitar.  And then we danced for hours.

SXP: Who inspires you as a live act? I’ve heard comparisons to James Brown?

Miyuki: Who, me? Who said that?  I want to kiss them!

SXP: It was in the Kitty Magic interview.

Laura: We gave those answers so long ago.  We were listening to James Brown in the van a few times around the time of that interview. It was long ago. 

Jennifer: Ike and Tina Turner. Tina and the Ikettes. We don’t have costumes and dancers who are that choreographed but the energy, the visceral, raw power…

Laura: We do this new wave thing but soul music: that’s what we like the most.

Jennifer: [Rolled Gold by] The Action - we love that album.  It’s a masterpiece.  That’s a top genius creation. 

Miyuki: That record is my favourite Saturday afternoon record and my favourite Sunday afternoon record is ‘Odessey and Oracle’ by the Zombies.

Laura: Jen’s two new favourites: The Action and Public Nuisance!

Jennifer: It’s a reissue of this American band that sounds English – it’s amazing! It’s hot music.

Rogers Sisters after the interview 0404.jpg (25658 bytes)SXP: Who looks after your bar while you’re away?

Jennifer: Our third partner, who’s also my boyfriend.  

Laura: He’s also the drummer from the Broke Review!

Jennifer: He unfortunately has to do it all by himself when we go away.  

Laura: But when he went away he went away for six weeks so I don’t feel quite as bad.

Jennifer: Yeah, we limit it to two weeks if we can.

SXP: What’s the most important, the music or the bar?

Jennifer: They serve different purposes.  We both do them 100%. 

Laura: The bar kinds of runs itself as long as you set it up really, really well and have people you trust and adore there.

SXP: Are you a trendy Williamsburg bar?

Jennifer: We don’t want to be.

Laura: Some people call it that.  Actually, Brendan overhears people getting haircuts all the time saying “Daddy’s is so trendy.  I saw you there last night”.  We have a mix.  We have really freaky neighbourhood people who’ve lived their whole lives in this neighbourhood that is untouched by the rest of the city, where they never went to Manhattan at all, and they’re very strange. 

They’re living in a 1950s Italian immigrant timewarp.  We have a mix of that and all these new musicians and they’re co-mingling.  Very interesting.

Miyuki: Speaking as a patron, I like going to old man bars and it’s definitely one part that and also one with people more our age, so it’s cool.   Plus they have great jukebox, great pinball and it’s a horseshoe shaped bar so everyone can talk to each other and you can hear the weird conversations going on. 

Jennifer: We have a lot of little places where people can have their own conversations.  If you want to meet people you can sit around there.  I almost didn’t even want music and that’s why we don’t have DJs, we don’t have live bands we only have the jukebox. 

SXP: What’s on your jukebox and who fills it?

Jennifer: It’s mostly my boyfriend. He owns a record store.

SXP: Are you on this jukebox?  

Laura: No.  We don’t have anything later than probably 1981.

Jennifer: There’s a lot of country, world music.  Reggae is really popular. 

Miyuki: And Gary Numan is on there.

Laura: Oh no he just came off!  We have the Shangri-Las right now which is new, Irma Thomas, we have soul, blues, a lot of roots music, we have Girls At our Best on there right now.

SXP: What do you youngsters know about old bands! 

Miyuki: We’re record fanatics.

Jennifer: Yeah, we like to find new things that sound like things we should have heard but never did. 

Miyuki: When I was a kid, I was sick so basically I sat around listening to records and reading encyclopaedias because I was bored.  And it just carried on.  Jen brings in these awesome mix tapes that Greg makes her.

Jennifer: I’m really lucky that my boyfriend’s a record collector! Makes me lazy. 

SXP: You’re on the soundtrack of ‘American Graffiti Revisited’ doing a Buddy Holly song.  How did you get on the soundtrack for a start and why Buddy Holly?

Laura: A group we know were on it and we used to play a lot more surf-garage music.  She said we’re on this thing, you should get on it.

Jennifer: And I said whatever the Buddy Holly song is, we’ll do it. I didn’t care what it was because he’s a genius. We love Buddy Holly. 

Miyuki: Think about it, the kind of music he was doing back then.  He was already heading towards such an abstract version of what was popular.  Some of his other stuff he was doing was so minimal, he was doing these reverse drum parts; instead of bashing it, he was just doing these tom rolls.

Laura: And he wouldn’t let people change it into what else was going on at the time.  He was: no this is the way I want it to be and that’s the way it is. 

Miyuki: And he produced himself.  And he looked like Gary Busey.

SXP: While you’re in London, are you doing any sightseeing? 

Laura: Yes, totally!  Every town we go to, we have to do whatever’s in the town.  In Wisconsin, we stopped a place and bought $80 of cheese. We had to try it all because it’s the biggest cheese producing state in the country.  We went to Brighton and we had fish and chips.  It was so good. 

Jennifer: Food is our main goal.

Miyuki: I had your famous steak and kidney pie. I’m from Hawaii though. You may read a lot of bull about Hawaii like eating fish and fruits, nectar of the gods.  It’s total crap!  We live on spam!  That’s why the Hawaiians are dropping like flies with health problems.  That’s why when I came here I was so excited.

Jennifer: I’m vegetarian and I’m shocked at how much accommodation there is for vegetarians, because in America, when you go on the road, there’s none. 

Miyuki: I did have a nifty Yorkshire pudding. That was delicious.  Awesome.

Jennifer: I look for the grossest thing on the menu and con him into eating it at every restaurant because if I wasn’t vegetarian I’d want to try everything. 



The Projects interview by Ged M, Paul M and Kev O

The Projects are Mark Banville, Morgane Lahote, Alex Lawton Mawdsley, Lisa Rosendahl and Graeme Wilson.  Lisa and Graeme were formally in late-90s indie-Krautrockers Miss Mend.  The Projects have just released a 7” single on Track and Field called Entertainment, which is post-punk Joy Division illuminated by warm shafts of Europop.  They play with Broadcast at the University of London Union on 30 May and at the Water Rats on 5 June.  We met up with the band in some sort of bistro before their gig at the Water Rats in March 2003. 

The Projects live 0404.jpg (19023 bytes)SXP: How did the Projects come together?

Lisa: Graeme and I had had a band before, called Miss Mend.  When that disintegrated, we wanted to do something else.  Morgane, conveniently, had stopped playing for Stereolab and we’d had big plans for many years. And she was up for it. 

Alex: I went bowling with Graeme and I asked to be in his band.  This was before any of you joined the band.  I wanted to be a guitarist and Graeme said no!  Then Graeme called me up and I thought I was going to play guitar – I’m playing bass! 

Graeme: We became drummerless last year so we recruited Mark. 

Mark: Yeah, I had to audition! 

Morgane: He did some free-jazz improvisation. 

Mark: And a Hawkwind cover.  And that was it – I was in! *laughs*

Lisa: It was quite an amazing process doing the audition.  We put ads in Loot and NME and stuff and met a couple of people before, just to suss them out to see if they were nice people but the ones who turned out to be nice people were actually quite bad drummers! 

SXP: Advertising for a band member must focus your attention on what you’re about.  What did you ask for?

Morgane: We asked for someone into Prolapse and Joy Division!

SXP: Where did the band’s name come from?

Morgane: We had to find names at a rehearsal.  [Former drummer] Tim said “The Projects” and Lisa really liked it.  It sounds like a rap band and it sort of grew on us. 

Graeme: It’s a shame.  I thought of a really good band name: “Heavy Petting”!

Morgane: “Heavy Petal”?  That’s cool. Like “Heavy Metal”!

SXP: What happened to Miss Mend: why did you break up?

Lisa: We had a problem with different members moving abroad and others joining us.  Every time someone joined the band, we had to start again.  The way we write songs is very democratic.  One person might have an idea but each of us adds to that idea and we work something out together.   It’s not like one of those bands where one person has the vision, writes all the songs and is a dictator.  It became a different band when somebody new joined and that happened quite a lot. We were all individuals who wanted to do different things.  Dino, the guitarist, is now playing in the Beatings.  Joe Dilworth, the drummer, used to be in Stereolab and he went off to join Add N To X. 

SXP: Do you get fed up with the Stereolab comparisons?

Lisa: Yeah, it was a bit boring. 

Mark: It was just lazy journalism. 

SXP: There go the next 20 questions!

Graeme: The worst one was an NME review of a live show which opened with “Miss Mend are Stereolab”.

Lisa: Especially because Stereolab were going in such a weird direction.  They were starting to get into…crap!  Or what I think is crap! 

SXP: We saw you at the ICA in October when you had lots of equipment problems and you looked very frustrated.   

Alex: I was beaten up the night before that show.  I was on morphine as well.

Lisa: We didn’t know if we were going to play because Alex was so beaten up.  He had to have a bucket on stage. 

Morgane: He looked like the Elephant Man.  It wasn’t a good show. 

SXP: You were more angry and frustrated than the audience.  It was more interesting to us.

Morgane: I know.  We need to chill out I guess.

SXP: Then we saw you at the Arts Café recently (with the Loves) and your set was so different from the ICA. 

Morgane: Yeah, it’s more rock, more aggressive.  It sounds better I think. 

Lisa: It’s a bit looser, not so metronomic. 

SXP: We thought the sound at the Arts Café that night was excellent.

Morgane: There was a good energy about it, people were really into it. 

Lisa: I thought it was the best gig we’ve played.  But the sound at the Water Rats is even better than the Arts Café.

Mark: They don’t mike the drums up at the Arts Café.  It’s important! *laughter*

Lisa: Mark is such a happy drummer, his drumkit moves slowly further and further towards the edge of the stage.  Me and Graeme have to move out of the way of the drums! 

SXP: Were you pleased about the reception for the single?  NME praised it.

Lisa: I thought it was good.  It was funny that they were slagging off the cover because we had asked the artist Dan Graham to do it.  He’s a cult figure in art and he’s always been a cult figure for me and he’s done collaborations with Sonic Youth and stuff like that.  We asked him to do the cover and he sent in this image.  He didn’t even like the music and said “I’m not sure about the music but I think this is the image to go with it.”

SXP: How did you manage to get Dan Graham?

Lisa: I work with him in this art gallery.

SXP: Who’s responsible for your website?

Lisa: Graeme does that.  Graeme is the visual element. 

Graeme: It’s what I do for a job.  It pays the bills. 

SXP: It’s very inspired by revolutionary Russia.

Lisa: They were into combining social and political thoughts with aesthetics.  But that can be a bit pretentious!

Graeme: I started learning Russian about 7 years ago when I was taking a year out from college.  I bought a collection of books from a second hand shop that were from an ambassador, really beautiful books.  One of them was Russian grammar and I started reading it.  I can speak Russian now and I watch loads of Russian films.  Quite into Russia!  

SXP: Tarkovsky’s Solaris or Soderberg’s Solaris?

Graeme: Mirror by Tarkovsky is my favourite film.  I can’t associate George Clooney with Solaris at all.  I was going to see it but there’s a risk of it making me really angry, so…

SXP: I heard someone say that you can never watch the original Solaris in one go – you have to take a week.

Graeme: I’ve done it about 20 times!

Lisa: Speaking of Russian influences, there’s a lot of collage in the website.  I think the whole aspect of collage is interesting because that’s how we work musically as well.  Each individual has as much influence as the next. 

Alex: Most of the time it starts with someone bringing something in, a verse or chorus, and we all work around it.  There’s no real master plan.

Graeme: All the new songs have been written with this band.  That’s the way we’re going to carry on.  At first, when we were rehearsing, we did a lot of the old Miss Mend songs.  We’ve moved on from that completely. 

Alex: The B-side of the single we don’t play anymore. It’s just a song we did and we got bored with.  Sometimes it works like that, the end result is collectively something we’re not happy with. 

Graeme: We’ve been doing a lot of new songs lately and we did three in one four-hour session.

Mark: It just worked.  We were all on form.  But with the single, we’ve changed a lot since then.  The old drummer’s on the single so I’m not on it, the band’s sound is now a bit heavier so when we do an album it will be a lot different from the single.

Morgane: We should re-record the single as well. 

SXP: What are your musical influences?

Graeme: I’m useless. I don’t have them.  My knowledge isn’t that good.

Lisa: That’s not true.  You’re very clear. Look at your record collection.

Alex:  The Pastels!  Prolapse!  Myself, I’m a massive Devo fan. And recently GoGoGo Airheart from San Diego.  Mark likes that as well.

Mark: My favourite band is Love. And I love The Stooges, The MC5.  Mainly American references rather than British.

Morgane: I’m really into the Beach Boys and harmony-based bands.  I’d like us to go more that way!  I’m really into weird, quirky bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s – The Millennium and stuff like that.

Lisa: I think I’m more into songs and ballads.  I love catchy melodies and grooves really get me going.

SXP: Next steps for the Projects?

Morgane: We’re supporting Broadcast at ULU on 30 May.  It’s our biggest gig so far.  We just want to write loads of new songs.

Alex: We’re going to be recording in June.  We might be recording in Saloon’s studio.

SXP: Did you record at Abbey Road?

Alex: We mastered!

Graeme: They said: “this sounds fine. We could pretend to do something for half an hour and make you feel like you got your money’s worth but it’s fine really.  We’ll put a bit more treble on it and a bit more bass.”  That was it.  Waste of money!  It was quite nice chatting about bands.  And there were loads of photos going on every 5 seconds on the crossing outside. 

SXP: Have you ever done anything really rock’n’roll?

Morgane: Have you looked at us?  Do we look that rock’n’roll?

 Graeme: I played with the Television Personalities.  I was their biggest fan and I bumped into Dan Treacy in Safeways and he was a little bit funny to me.  And I bumped into him two days later at a Pastels concert at the Garage and he was slightly less funny towards me.  We became friends and he was doing a tour so I learned to play bass.  Amazing really: my favourite band and I knew the songs anyway.  The only rehearsal we had was in a pretty rundown place.  Then we played our first gig and it turned out that I’d learned all of the songs off the records and they were all in different keys by the time we played them! 

SXP: You ever throw a TV out of a window? 

Alex: I was accused of throwing a bottle out of a window.  That’s the same night I got beaten up.  Apparently the bottle hit a sports car.  I definitely didn’t throw it!

SXP: That’s pretty rock’n’roll.

Alex: If I’d have done it!

Graeme: We had this really crap CD of our rehearsals which I gave to Mark for him to learn.  And at the same party, the DJ was trying to play CDs and Mark kept pulling them out and playing our rehearsal CD over and over and over!  He woke up with a couple of CDs in his pocket!

Mark: I did play a gig once with the awful band The Bollock Brothers.  It was Jock MacDonald’s birthday and it was at the Borderline and it all ended up with a chocolate cake fight! 



Ooberman interviewed by Paul M

England's best kept pop secret Ooberman have just produced their second long-player and a single.   We quizzed frontman Dan about stuff.

SXP: You seem to be able to turn your hand to a number of instruments.  Are you musically trained or is it just a natural flair?

ooberman at metro2.jpg (10317 bytes)Dan: I learnt violin just to grade 2 when i was a kid, but i hated it.  when i took it up again a couple of years ago i was better after 3 weeks of constant practice than i ever was as a kid.  i think that once you've got quite good on one instrument it's easier to learn a new one because you have a musicality to draw from, that guides you towards what you should be doing.  the rest is just a mechanical skill, like learning to play a video game.  anyone can do it!

SXP: Some of your songs on the new album are fairly complicated, bordering on classical and yet some that you have done in the past are relatively simple catchy poppy singalongs.  Is this a permanent change in direction or will there be more Beany Beans or Sugarbums in the future?

Dan: Well, i think that certain new ones that sound complicated like 'open the hatch' is in fact really simple, while sugar bum is probably the most complicated structure i've ever come out with even though it sounds simple and daft.

Personally I just develop ideas until they sound finished, so they could go either way.   I think the Ooberman of the future will keep going in an orchestral direction though.

SXP: Which Ooberman song are you most proud of?

Dan: My favourites are Shorley Wall, Roll Me in Cotton and Running Girl, because I like the tunes.   I like them all just as much.

SXP: Which bands from the past do you think have most inspired you?

Dan: Beach Boys, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. 

SXP: You live in Liverpool now I believe.  It's musically buzzing again at the moment.  What do you think of the other local bands - The Coral, the Zutons, the Crescent, the Basement, the Bandits, etc?

Dan: The Bandits rehearse in the next room to us, and the Coral and the Zutons are downstairs.  Well, it's kind of fresh bouncy music I suppose but they all seem a bit simple and throwaway to me.  Good for a night out, but nothing to take you away to another dimension, which is what I'm looking for.  I haven't heard much of the   Coral, but what I have heard sounds a bit nondescript, flat and drab so I can't get into it. 

SXP: Who of other current bands do you admire?

Dan: From the more recent past:  Jellyfish, St. Etienne, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Flaming Lips, Grandaddy and  Belle and Sebastian.

SXP: Who are you heroes, past or present, from any aspect of life?

Dan: I loved Henry Miller (writer) for a while - he first set me free into thinking 'I can do anything!' - important when you first set out on a creative mission.  Ho ho here's an unpopular hero - for a while I even admired Tony Blair - while he was setting up and turning around the fortunes of the labour party -  I felt like he was someone with real ideals who was going to try to change the world.  Maybe he still will (by razing it to the ground!).

I fell under the spell of Herman Hesse (writer) for the last two years.  Now I'm dabbling with Goethe and Neitzche but only read a few pages so can't comment.  Maybe Goethe's a bit too quaint and dreamy for me, and Neitzche's a bit too wild.  So I'll go back to Hesse perhaps.

SXP: You've just produced a brilliant album and yet the NME presumably didn't even think it was worthy of a review and additionally described your new single as 'shit'.  What are your thoughts on them?

Dan: There's a few reasons why we're not NME darlings - first we're not new enough to hyped as the next big things, we're not big enough for them to sell magazines by putting us in there.  We don't fit in with their current interest in rock.  We're out there, a world unto ourselves that needs a bit of time to get where it's coming from, and I think - why would they bother taking the time to sit in a darkened room trying to appreciate the magic of Ooberman?  So naturally we're seen as completely irrelevant to them.

We aren't working to a strong marketing genre, so there's no natural magazine to support our style.

SXP: What are your feelings towards Independiente?

Dan: Fine.  The more I think about it, the more I appreciate all the money they gave us.

SXP: Do Ooberman ever conform to the rock n roll stereotype?  eg If you had a Rolls Royce would it now be parked bumper first in the local swimming baths?

Dan: Our driver crashed our tour bus last week, so probably but only out of stupidity.

SXP: Do you enjoy playing live?

Dan: Of course!

SXP: What is your general frame of mind now?

Dan: Relaxed and positive.

SXP: Many thanks and best of luck with the album.



The Loves interviewed by Ged M

The Loves are a six-piece band from Cardiff, created by dissolving large doses of the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, sixties psychedelia and fifties/sixties girl groups into an alcohol-filled bath and drinking the resultingfrothy pop brew after midnight.the loves Arts Cafe 11.JPG (47405 bytes)  They’ve released three singles to date: Little Girl Blues on Boobytrap and Boom A Bang Bang Bang and Just Like Bobby D on Track and Field.  They release an EP shortly on Track and Field entitled Shake Yr Bones and are currently in the studio recording their debut album.  They play with The Rapture at the Scala, London on 10 April and the Fleece and Firkin in Bristol on 13 April and with The Apples in Stereo at the Spitz, London, on 2 May.  We interviewed Simon and James in a dreadful Friday night disco pub, before they played a cracking set at the Arts Café in London, on 21 February.  

SXP: Who’s in the band?

Simon: Me, Simon, on guitar and singing, James on bass, Liz on keyboards, Dave on drums, Psosni [pronounced noz-knee] on guitar and Catrin on singing. 

SXP: Have you always had the same line up?

Simon: We started in 2000, me and our old bass player doing things in my garage, and then gradually we met everyone who’s now in the band from going out to clubs and stuff.  We met Liz and Psosni first.  ‘Nos brought the original drummer and after the original bass player left, we met James in the toilets of a club.  Because our bass player had done backing vocals, we needed someone to do backing vocals and one of our other friends – who takes all of our photographs now – said “I’m starting a band and my friend Catrin’s in it”.  So I nicked her off him!   And so it’s all about going out, really!  When our drummer left, Catrin said: “my friend Dave drums and he’s a great drummer”.  The first rehearsal, he walked in and he had great hair so it was: you’re in! 

SXP: Is good hair essential to The Loves?

Simon: Yeah!  The other drummer had a beached blond fuzzy mop!

SXP: Do you record in Cardiff?

Simon: We used to be with a management company who had a recording studio in their basement so we used to record there.  We’re not with them now as they weren’t doing much for us.  For most of the gigs in the second half of last year we went through Track and Field or from knowing people on email, as the only gigs they got us were in an Ebbw Vale heavy metal club and Newport town centre, 12 o’clock in the afternoon – we followed folk dancing and a covers band who did ‘Yellow’ and Simple Minds.

James:  There were a mixture of Goths and 13 year old kids. 

Simon: There were three heavy metal kids at the front staring at us.  We played I’m Gonna Get Fucked Up and they were like: “Swearing? Yes!”  And they came up the back afterwards and said: “have you got any free merchandise we can have?  No? Why not?”  Anyway, the last thing we recorded, the EP, we recorded it in Warwick Hall, which is a rehearsal room cum recording studio in Cardiff.   We were going to record our album in London but our drummer has just got himself a new job and we’ve got to fit things in around it. 

SXP: Was your first record on Boobytrap?

Simon: Yes.  All the reviews for it were really good. 

James: But on the Boobytrap website they just slated us.  They said we were the ugliest band in the world.  

Simon: They had a list of alternative names for the Loves and one of them was The Cunts! 

SXP: Is Boobytrap a Cardiff label?

Simon: Yeah, but they’ve started branching out now.  They’ve got a Liverpool band on their latest release. And they did the Brave Captain single as well.  Martin Carr lives in Cardiff now.  You often see him walking round in a silly hat and a zip-up top. 

SXP: And Boom A Bang Bang Bang was your second single. 

Simon: That was what we wanted to do originally. At first we wanted to go with Track and Field.  I sent them a CD that had two songs on it and they wanted that as a double A-side vinyl.  I said yes but our management company said: it’d be better if you do it on Boobytrap, you’ll get more coverage.   So I wanted to put Boom A Bang Bang Bang on the Boobytrap single but it was all too much trouble to re-record everything and we didn’t have much time.  I wish we’d done it now with Track and Field.

SXP: Were you pleased with the reaction to the Track and Field single?

Simon: Yeah, it got really good reviews.  That’s the one that people sing now, you see them singing along! 

SXP: You’re Peel favourites now aren’t you?

Simon: I suppose so.  I don’t think he plays anyone enough to be called his favourite band. He just plays crazy crap!

SXP: But you’ve done a few sessions for him?

James: Four in two years or something! 

Simon: The last one was really rushed because we got there at three o’clock and we were meant to get there at half past twelve.  So with the last one, everything’s superfast! 

James: But it went pretty well.

Simon: We met the Soft Boys at that one as well.  They were really nice.  Everyone went to the chip shop except me and Psosni. We were sitting there listening to the music and it was quite loud and this old – no, not an old man – this man came in and we thought it was an engineer.  So we said: do we turn it down?  Is it too high?   And he’s like: “no, no, it’s alright”.  And then two more came in and then Robyn Hitchcock came in and I thought: hang on.  I went out to the toilet and texted James: “fucking hell, the Soft Boys are here”.   I was trying to think of some ways to break into the conversation.  I was like: “are you Robyn Hitchcock?”  “Yes.”  “Are you The Soft Boys?” “Yes”.  “I’ve seen you on the telly!” *laughs*  We played with them in Bristol in January and that was really good.

SXP: Are you fans? 

Simon: Oh yeah.  Paul from Track and Field did us a CD of ‘Underwater Moonlight’ and we thought of saying something to them but you’re not going to say “our friends copied your LP for us and we really like it”.  

SXP: Tell us about your relationship with Bobby D?

Simon: I read a review the other day and it said we sound like Bob Dylan and I thought that’s alright.  It’s better than we usually get!  It’s only recently I’ve really liked Bob Dylan.  On Just Like Bobby D the lyrics talk about how if I was him I would die in 1966.  Now I’ve heard more of the stuff of him after the bike crash and I really like it.  We threw a copy [of the single] on stage when we went to see him in Cardiff.  It all went dark and it must have landed right in front of him.  He was just sort of staring at the floor and we were thinking: yeah!  And then his roadie came on and threw it off stage!  We all heard a crack as it hit the floor and then the sound of Liz going “nooooo!”  We found a bootleg of the actual concert about a week after in a record fair and I was considering getting it just so we could see if we could hear Liz going “no” as it lands!  The Live 1966 album is my favourite album. 

SXP: Your lyrics are a bit spikier on Just Like Bobby D.

the loves Arts Cafe 15.JPG (49977 bytes)

Simon: I’m trying to write like he would write but it all goes very wrong sometimes. One of our songs, one of the new ones we’re doing tonight, is called Kiss, Kiss, Kiss and basically it’s a big Bob Dylan rip off.  It starts like Tell Me Momma with a From A Buick 6 bassline and nasally voice.  And it’s sort of like a fast stream of consciousness verse and almost singalongable chorus. 

SXP: How did you find New York? [The Loves were invited to play the CMJ festival]

Simon:  Fabulous.  Mental!  It was odd to me because I couldn’t eat anything because I’m very fussy.  And on the plane over there was nothing I wanted on the menu and when we got to New York it was like half past ten or eleven.  We didn’t want to go outside the hotel for fear of being shot.

James: Our manager kept telling us: yep, I’ve booked the flights, I’m going to book everything.  It never happened and it was only a week before, we were all panicking in the pub and I said: come back to my house and I’ll get my mum to buy it all on her credit card.  So we went back to my mum’s and she bought flights on her credit card.  Because of our manager they were nearly late for the flight link and we nearly never made it.  All these gigs and we nearly never made it. 

Simon: Because we were in the CMJ, we had this CMJ pass so you can get into places for free.  So in one night we saw the Datsuns, the Von Bondies, the Kills and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  After the Datsuns, Von Bondies and the Kills it was a taxi over to the other side of Manhattan or wherever and into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and then an after hours bar till five o’clock in the morning!  And we were with these two women from some PR company in New York who loved us.   They hadn’t heard us but it was a *adopts appalling American accent* “you guys are so cute” sort of thing.  We were sitting in this bar and they’re throwing everyone out and they said “you stay here with us”.  They threw everyone else out and it was “more drinks, more drinks!” 

James: We were so well looked after, it was like: big rock star!

Simon: It was really tiring.  Going to sleep at 5 o’clock in the morning, waking up about half past four and realising you’ve got no time to go anywhere or do anything. 

James: And we just bought shitloads of records. Liz had brought about $500 spending money so we bought as many records as we could carry home.

Simon: All our flight cases would have our guitars in there and then that much *indicates a hefty wedge* of records as we could fit.

James: And bootleg videos!

Simon: Yeah, a bootleg Velvet Underground video, bought at Kims Records of the VU playing at the Dom which was on the same street as Kims, and there's a photo of a black building where the Dom used to be.

Simon: We saw Meg White. And Alan McGee.  Alan McGee is much taller in real life.  We had all these CDs and gave CDs to everyone: the Kills, the Von Bondies.  The Von Bondies had one because they had no CDs in their car and they were driving to Detroit from New York.  The first track on the CD is computer information, photos and stuff, so when you play it in a CD player all you get is a “WHEEE” *makes high pitched sound*. Extreme Noise Terror!

SXP: You’ve played with some really good bands.  Who are the best bands you’ve supported?

Simon: The Soft Boys, The Rapture, Dressy Bessy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Of Montreal.  I really like Of Montreal.  Last night I wasn’t feeling very well and I spent 4 hours lying in bed listening to one of their albums. Have you heard ‘Coquelicot Asleep In The Poppies’?  It’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.  We’ve been trying to figure out how he writes like that because there are so many different changes. 

James: I don’t know where he gets his words.  Like on the first track Good Morning Mr Edminton! *looks suitably awestruck*   

SXP: Your influences?

Simon: It changes.  When we first started it was more Rolling Stones. Now it’s more Bob Dylan and Nazz and bubblegum stuff. 

SXP: Do you like the new Nazz compilation [on Castle Music]?

Simon: We’ve got all the LPs.  James bought the first two albums on CD, then went to Newport and found all three albums, Nazz III on vinyl.   We were standing there for ages going…

James: I didn’t have any money.  I had, like, £30 to live.  And there were the three Nazz albums for 30 quid.  And he was going: yeah go on, buy it!

Simon: I sent an email to Todd Rundgren asking if he would produce our album.  I got an email back from one of his lackies saying “I’ll pass it onto one of his production crew”.   Oh yeah!   Apparently he’s touring this year with Hall and Oates, supporting Hall and Oates. 

James: How can he be supporting?  

SXP: I’ve read he’s in now in Hawaii. 

Simon: You can see him with bleached blond hair: “They want you to produce their LP”.  “Where do they live?”  “Cardiff”. “Fetch me another Malibu”. 

James: Another influence is Phil Spector.

Simon: Me and James are in another band called “Phil Spector”, which is spelt ‘Fillespectre’, with James’ brother and our friend Mark.   I play drums.  We’ve not had a rehearsal yet.  Apparently it’s a cross between punk rock and the Electric Prunes!  Me doing my best Mo Tucker drumming, head down, no hi-hat, just snare drum and a cymbal!   Another of our influences is ‘Loaded’ by the Velvet Underground. 

James: He bought it for me for my birthday last year and it’s changed my life!   Every one of us listens to something different.  Dave is a fan of the Who.  He’s obsessed with Keith Moon. 

Simon: Psosni is more sort of indie-smindie as in pop, trendy indie. 

James: His favourite band’s Talking Heads.  He loves Belle and Sebastian. 

Simon: Liz has started to listen to obscure garage bands.  She’s spending £15 a time buying albums by The Music Machine. 

SXP: The Music Machine are great! 

Simon: Yeah but how many different versions of Hey Joe do you need?  She’s buying all these different LPs and saying they all sound the same!  Liz, leave it alone!

James: I’m heavily into Skip Spence at the moment, Moby Grape and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Simon: Catrin likes Queen and Belle and Sebastian.  My two favourite things are Bob Dylan and Of Montreal. 

SXP: Didn’t you do a Queen track on a Peel show from Peel Acres?

Simon: Oh yeah!  That was an insane drive.  It’s in Stowmarket, East Anglia.  It took us most of the day to get there.  On the way home, our driver was swigging from a bottle of vodka.  

James: He hadn’t had a drink all night and then he cracked about half past one and said: give me a swig of that vodka.  He was swigging it at the wheel.  It’s normally a six-hour drive. 

Simon: We got back about four o’clock in the morning, which is our usual time from London.  We thought: what’s going on here? We only left at half past 12! 

James: The thing about the Loves is that we’ve never had a normal driver.  We had a stoned driver who can drive with his elbows, while rolling a spliff.  Our other driver looked like Rick Wakeman and when we played the Scala with Tompaulin, he got really drunk.    We were staying in Camden that night but he was driving all the stuff home, driving down a one way street really fast saying “I don’t care”! 

SXP: What about the Welsh music scene.  Are you part of that? 

Simon: Not really.  We’re not part of any music scene.  Because we’ve not really been in the NME….*laughs* Liz was crapping herself on the bus today because it had our name in bold letters in the NME live music section: “Look! We’re in there! Look!”   We’ve done a lot but we’ve not been noticed.    We’re on the internet more than anything else.  The Cardiff scene seems to be either hardcore punk or emotional troubadour music! 

James: They all sound like Starsailor…

Simon: …Starsailor or Gang of Four.  There are no funky pop bands like, I suppose, what we are.   

James: It’s all very two faced which is what makes it so hard.  We know for a fact that a lot of bands dislike us.  I don’t know a Cardiff band I really like, apart from the Martini Henry Rifles but everyone else is either boring or too much for me. 

SXP: What about the Super Furry Animals? 

James: I hate the Manics and the Stereophonics but Gorkys and Super Furries are OK. 

SXP: What’s coming up next for The Loves?

Simon: We’ve got an EP coming out on Track and Field soon and we’re recording an LP next month and it’ll be out in the Summer.  We’re having a white cover, Velvet Underground/Andy Warhol style.   Red writing on a white cover and on the back a photo of us in our finery!  No tracklisting on the back either: that annoys me. [since the interview they’ve decided to have a tracklisting!]  We’re playing more as well.  A few dates with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs next week and then there are a few with the Rapture and maybe a few with The Apples in Stereo as well. 

James: That’s the Spitz.  It’s a wicked venue. 

Simon: The all dayer at the Spitz was one of our best shows.  Me standing on my amp deciding whether to jump at Dave.  And then an ungracious climb down!   I wish I had jumped at him now but it was somebody else’s drumkit I was going to wreck!