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Author – Mark Baxter

We recently caught up with the charming, Jazz loving, hard grafting man-a-bout-town, Author Mark ‘Bax’ Baxter, to talk about what it takes to become an author and his latest book project with Ian Snowball! This is what he had to say…

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

Sadly it was two sad events in my personal life, both within a few months of each other in the year 2000, that gave me the biggest kick up the arse imaginable, making me realise we aren’t on this planet for too long and that tomorrow is promised to no one. So if I was ever going do the things I always planned, like write a book, score a goal at Wembley, or get into studio 2 at Abbey Road. I had better get cracking at the age of 37 and that I did at the start of 2001. I had an idea of the clothing within the game of football. Not just what the players wore off duty, but also what the fans wore, from Mod, Skin to Casuals and then weave in the story of the brands that mattered to us all!

02. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print?

That idea above became The Fashion of Football – From Best To Beckham, published in 2004. As I said, I had the idea but absolutely no idea to get it published. As a result of some business I was involved in, I met writer Paolo Hewitt, who was someone I admire for his writing in his NME days and after some persuading, PH agreed to write the book, with me researching and providing the ideas and eventually a bit of writing.

03. Was it a struggle getting your first book published?

Not with this first one, as Paolo had an agent who did us a deal for the book and that came out on Mainstream and would go on to sell something like 3,000 copies.

04. Can you remember how you felt the first time you picked up your book fresh from the printers?

Very hard to describe. I just kept looking at it. Me, a writer of an actual book? Crazy really. But of course, I was bitten by the bug!

05. How do you deal with potential rejection from Publishers?

I had a lot of practice with that my second idea! It was called The Mumper, and it looked at the life of 7 guys in a pub in South East London. One of the sad events I mentioned above was the death of my Dad aged 65, just three months after he retired. I was very close to my Dad and spent a lot of time with him as a kid watching him sing in pubs and clubs of the local area. Going onto those trips, aged 12/13, I started to meet loads of characters, so who would have fitted in very nicely in ‘Minder’ or ‘Fools And Horses’. Funny people, who were constantly up to something, but who made me laugh my head off. Anyway, I told Paolo I was going to write a novel about them all and he agreed to have a look at the writing and advise me as I went along. And this he did. I managed to somehow get to 75, 000 words and as I was writing it, I could see it as a film. The only problem was I couldn’t get a publishing deal, and it was rejected by over 60 publishers. So, I decided to self publish in 2007 and it took all my life savings to get it into book form. Barry Pease @ Pip! Pip!, who you may know, did a marvellous job on the cover art and off we went. It sold nearly 1,000 copies before the industry caught up with the book and started to take it seriously. It later got a proper book deal with Orion, who are one of the biggest publishers in the UK and the film rights were optioned and became the 2012 film ‘Outside Bet’ starring Bob Hoskins (RIP).

06. What type of writers excite you?

At the minute, I’m well into Damon Runyon and SJ Perelman. Over the years, most of Nik Cohn’s work I have liked, as well as Frank Norman and Colin MacInnes. I grew up reading lot of the music journalists such as: Danny Baker, Paul Morley, Nick Kent and Paolo, so they would be influential at the start of it all.

07. As an author how do you feel about reviews and the Industry mechanics?

Reviews are very important, but hard to attain, unless you have a heavyweight publisher behind you and they are to get in to. My experience of the industry is that it is a little bit like a closed shop. But having said that, if you have strong enough idea and you are prepared to graft, you might get somewhere, sometimes despite people instead of them helping from the start.

08. What’s a typical working day like for you?

I’ve been writing now full time since New Years Day 2008 and currently have 12 books published in one form or the other. Sadly, making a decent living from publishing books at my level is nigh on impossible, so I also write websites, blogs, PR copy, social media text etc, every day to keep the self-employment going. A typical day starts at 6am. I write up all the latest entries for the 12 to 15 Facebook and Twitter pages I work on until 9am. Then I might work on a film script ( I have recently made a few documentaries with my film business partner Lee Cogswell) or I will head into Soho for a load of meetings, and to do a bit of networking. They tend to be long old days, but usually interesting and enjoyable

09. What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘What You?!?’ – That was said to me by a former 9-5 colleague who heard I had my first book coming out and he uttered that immortal phrase. I was really taken back that he thought that I couldn’t do it. If I ever struggle on a job and I have many times, I always think of the plum who said that, then I smile and crack on and think ‘yes, me mate…’

10. What do you do aside from writing, where do you seek inspiration yourself?

Inspiration comes from people in whatever industry it might be, who have made a success of it. Be it in film, sport, music, or normal 9-5 work . Being around those people, and I’m lucky to have worked with some very big names, you can’t help to learn from the best and I continue to do that , every single day

11. What book do you wish you had written?

I’ll give you a couple – ‘The Affectionate Punch’ By Justin de Villeneuve or ‘Absolute Beginners’ by Colin MacInnes.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

It has helped a lot with self publishing and then selling the book too, through the social media. With all these things, it has great sides and it has its terrible sides. If you use it right, it can only help

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

I do get asked a lot about helping with books, that people have had an idea to write. I always say just start writing and don’t worry about editing as you go along. Get to the end of the story and then read it back and then edit. After the fifth draft, if you still want to write the book, you will make a great job of it. Sadly, I rarely hear of anyone finishing the book, as it is a very tough process to do it right and most seem to give up

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please plug your latest book?

Really busy at the minute as we are finishing a documentary on legendary Ivy League retailer John Simons for release on DVD in Sept/Oct and we have three other films in various stages and we’re constantly juggling from one to the other. I have just had my 12th book – ‘A Hard Days Month’ co written with Ian Snowball – published through New Haven. It is mainly set in 1964 and follows two suburban 16 year old school girls as they stalk The Beatles at gigs and public appearances around the UK in the summer the album and film ‘A Hard Days Night’ came out. They are trying to get their copies of the album signed by the fabs and along the way they discover boys, drink, drugs, family death and all the stops in between. It is the final summer of their childhood and time to grow up.

*Well done to Millwall Football Club on their recent promotion!

Feedback so far has been great and you can order the book at Waterstones, Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the States among many other places: GRAB A COPY HERE. or at WATERSTONES HERE.


A Hard Day’s Month
www.barnesandnoble.com
‘A Hard Day’s Month’ by Ian Snowball and Mark Baxter follows two surburban Beatles obsessed teenage girls, ( Sandra and Cynthia) as they go on an adventure attempting to get their copies of their A Hard Day’s Night LP’s autographed by the Fabs. As they trail the band all over the UK, they slowly leave their innocent world of Fabdom behind and begin to discover a world of boys, drink, drugs, family bereavement and the ‘normal’ life which seems mapped out for them. ‘A Hard Days Month ‘ is a funny, exciting and heartwarming story with music of The Beatles as it’s the soundtrackIt is the story of one last summer to be truly themselves, before they have to grow up and leave it all behind…

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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May 25, 2017 By : Category : Culture DozenQ Eyeplugs Features Front page Literature Tags:, , , ,
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Jeff Monk Reviews – May 2017


Patto: Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out (Esoteric Recordings)

For their 1972 third album progressive rockers Patto pulled out all the so-called stops to try and get heard beyond their base, which in all honesty was thin on the ground. “Roll ‘em…” is a problematic album to say the least and a set that may not necessarily pull you onto the Patto bandwagon immediately. The album opens with a patently weird intro that tries very hard to be Zappa-esque but really only makes you wonder why they bothered when the song that follows is the splendid “Flat Footed Woman”. Here the band revels in their distinct sound pitched somewhere between Little Feat, The Band and early Elton John and his band. Of course vocalist Mike Patto and guitarist Ollie Halsall were always the centres of the action in this quartet with equal measure given to the raging, roll-filled kit work of drummer John Halsey. “Singing The Blues On Reds” is an ode of sorts to soul/funksters like James Brown with full debt paid to a stretched tight beat and interesting rhythm breaks showing Patto’s dynamic musical range perfectly. “Mummy” is an exasperating bit of spoken word nonsense that, if the band had any kind of direction back in the day, would have been left off the album completely. “Loud Green Song” stands as the best track here and if the band had leaned more in this almost punk rock/Social Deviants like direction one wonders how events may have turned out for them. On balance Patto on “Roll ‘Em…” is a talented band at lost tether as to a direction as they can’t settle on whether they are more about looning, lyrics or licks and in the end, this nullifies the record’s impact as a whole. Includes three 1973 vintage Peel Session bonus tracks not on the original album with 16-page full colour liner booklet.

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Patto: Monkey’s Bum (Esoteric Recordings)

While Patto’s direly titled 1973 album “Monkey’s Bum” was never officially released at the time it perhaps should have been. The awkward humour of the band has been dialed back here and what remains is an excellent set of tracks that deliver Mike Patto’s voice in a tonal range that he sounds comfortable in. The songs are less complicated and actually provide an improved sense of the bands’ strengths and don’t lose impact due to overly complicated musical arrangements. Opener “My Days Are Numbered” is a jazzy driver that leads into the solid trio of Randy Newman’s “Last Night I Had A Dream”, the radio-ready “Sugar Cube 1967” and the energetic “I Need You”. “Good Friend”, with its Elton John-like atmosphere is another track that would have suited radio well at the time and the Halsall penned and sung “Sausages” is further proof that this guy could have been at least a firm pub rock contender if the era had only been a little different for him. Three sonically dismal live 1973 Peel Session bonus tracks round out this hidden gem of an album. It made perfect sense that Patto broke up at the time of “Monkey’s…” non-release. Each of these sets shows a diverse crew ready and able to succeed yet without a method to distil what they did best into a tangible vision on vinyl.

(Roll ‘Em…:11 tracks – 60 minutes, Monkey’s Bum: 13 tracks, 52 minutes. Both remastered and expanded)

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Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Stranger In Us All – Expanded Edition (Cherry Red Recordings/HNE Recordings)

For this particular 1995 slice of the enormously convoluted Rainbow pie leader, Ritchie Blackmore again formed a new band and singer around himself to see what would come of it. Indeed “Stranger…” is pretty solid album when you actually disentangle it from the times that it was created and take a discerning look at its’ remaining pluses and minuses as a melodic, hard rock set. The band (Paul Morris/keyboards, Greg Smith/bass, John O’Reilly/drums and over-emotive singer Doogie White along with Blackmore squeeze Candice Night on BVs) are to be commended for working hard on these tracks and although for the entire album it does sound like the old Man In Black – U.K. Version is rather phoning in his contributions a great deal does work. Opening track “Wolf To The Moon” features plenty of fiery licks and a few informal whammy bar dive bombs by Blackmore while White sets the tone as Ronnie James Dio Mk. IV. With so-called “grunge” music floating everyone’s commercial musical boats as it were at this time there is a sense that “Cold Hearted Woman”, the Zeppelin-esque “Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” and the opening of the Kashmir-like “Ariel” could have been contenders for radio play if the band had not been under Blackmore’s complete and some would say worn-out musical vision. “Too Late For Tears” sounds like any fluffy American metal from the mid-nineties but as a polar opposite “Black Masquerade” has all the pure Rainbow elements fans would expect. Replete with economical keyboard strings effects and Blackmore’s gothic solo at the outro adding gravitas to this burner this track should be a stand-out for fans. Electric Light Orchestra and The Yardbirds recorded versions of Grieg’s “Hall Of The Mountain King” and “Still I’m Sad” better respectively but since Blackmore was inches away from going full Renaissance Fayre with his music (see: Blackmore’s Night) these songs foreshadow what was to come. The three bonus tracks are rarities for and include an originally Japan only take of “Emotional Crime”. Nicely packaged with interesting liner notes including a personal account essay by Doogie White.

(13 tracks CD – 66 minutes)

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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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May 22, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Music Picks Reviews Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1)

Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1) (Contender Records)

Philadelphia quintet Low Cut Connie is pretty much the brainchild of singer/songwriter/piano pounder Adam Weiner and if its’ latest album is any indication of their future musical trajectory then this is a band to watch. “DPP1” is bursting with irreverent rock‘n’roll and cannily introspective tunes that most bands just can’t seem to wrap themselves around effectively for a full album anymore. Opening track “Revolution Rock‘n’Roll” sets the scene with flair using Weiner’s languid boogie-woogie piano figure and solid vocals as an underlay for a story of night club rebellion where he chides “Come on children rip it up, let the jerk offs clean it up, touch my body touch my soul, revolution rock and roll”. When these guys are firing on all cylinders they sound like a less drunken Replacements if led by Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime. Covering Prince’s “Controversy” is one thing but they get even funkier on the buzzing soul/rock of “Love Life” and the tough “Death and Destruction”. Weiner speaks to his romantic inadequacies and admits them in “Angela” where he proclaims “You’re just to hot to date me… you should move to L.A…. you should be with a gorgeous guy, I know I’m a real far cry”.

As the album progresses it reveals deeper layers of this bands’ ability to sound like they only want to party yet are keen to deliver another side to the bar tab. “Montreal” is a lovely and heart warming story of the gentle passing of social diseases amongst friends while the sweet “Forever” and album closer “What Size Shoe” are romantic enablers that will bring a tear to even the hardest, beer addled heart. While ostensibly sounding like they don’t want to prove anything-here Low Cut Connie actually do. Their talent lies is being able to raise the roof while giving you songs that actually grab your attention for more than the length of their running time. That in itself is a colossal achievement. Bring on Part 2!

(10 tracks – 33 minutes)

Jeff Monk
-30-

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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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May 8, 2017 By : Category : Blues Cult Dark Eyeplugs Garage Reviews Tags:,
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Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness (RPM 3-CD set, RPMBX534)

The long-overdue repackaging of the Doctors of Madness’ three seminal LPs arrives, and for once, the smart clamshell box and photo-packed booklet are worth the trouble.

Their formation in 1974 in a Brixton cellar seems completely appropriate, given lead guitarist and singer Richard (Kid) Strange’s predilection for drama and Burroughsian poetry possessing a strong whiff of subterranean menace. Joining him were the magnificently monikered violinist Urban Blitz, bassist Stoner and drummer Peter di Lemma, all contributing to something far greater than the sum of their talents.

Signed to the street savvy Polydor label, ‘Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms’ arrived in 1976, fully formed and ready to take on all comers. The opener, ‘Waiting’ hits the ground running, with all the urgency and bluster of punk. ‘Afterglow’s mournful violin, Eastern stylings and slow, reflective lyric throws the listener, expecting perhaps more of the flash and clatter of ‘Waiting’. Instead, something more akin to psychedelic rock takes over, continuing the Eastern stylings in the melancholic ‘Mitzi’s Cure’. ‘I Think we’re Alone’ lacks the lyrical majesty that the instrumentation has in spades, but it’s hard not to get caught up in its romantic mood. ‘The Noises of The Evening’s scratchy, sawing violin intro is backed up well by a spiky guitar solo, leading into an epic, shambolic, piece that is worth the price of the LP alone.

Over on side 2 of the original LP, ‘Billy Watch Out’ begins with a gentle acoustic guitar figure and edgy violin, as Richard unrolls his kitchen sink tale, ironically soaring with the violin’s sound. ‘B-Movie Bedtime’s lively, punky sound has all the speedball excitement of the era, set off by suitably aggressive lyrics. Ending with the epic 15 minute ‘Mainlines’, a heady stew of Burroughsian lyrics, hypersensitive delivery, and camply melancholic backing, it should have made their reputation, and perhaps in some parallel universe, it did.

The CD is extended to include a wild, screeching outtake, ‘Doctors of Madness’ and The Doctors’ shambolic take on ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, a basement level punk thrash that could not have done the band’s reputation any favours. The ‘We Don’t Get Back’ demo has an interesting feel, but although lacking an engaging vocal performance, nevertheless suggests something that could be built on. The ‘B-Movie Bedtime’ demo is punkier than its final form, and may well have been left alone, rather than over-polished. ‘Out’ is the best demo here, its horror-movie siren sound and snidely delivery working well here. ‘Figments of Emancipation’, also released in 1976, opens with the melodic, slightly folksy intro of ‘Brothers’, but quickly descends into a hellish rock maelstrom, a style that continues in ‘Suicide City’s skyscraper guitars and Bowiesque sci-fi lyrics. The languorous, melancholic feel of ‘Perfect Past’ is proof that the Doctors were not all strum und drang; they had a sensitivity that could have been worth further exploration. Metaphorically flipping over to side 2, ‘Marie and Joe’ sees up back in kitchen sink drama territory, but who can complain about those rises and falls? The instant, up and at ‘em feel of ‘In Camera’ should perhaps have been the opening track, Richard’s slap-down delivery and Urban Blitz’s violin screeches shaking the listener by the neck, then soaring into a glorious, rising Olympian riff that couldn’t have been bettered by any of the rag-tag of rival bands of that mid-seventies period.

If ‘Doctors of Madness’ galloping riff doesn’t get you up, I suspect you may be clinically dead. ‘Out’ appears to have received the same injection untrammeledled excitement that the previous track’s early demo did, and represents a winning closer to an assured second LP. Extended further by ‘Frustration’s standard punk with added sheen, ‘I Make Plans’ sounds more final than the demo it is credited to be, and could easily have worked as a contrasting track on the original LP. ‘Triple Vision’s demo shows the Doctors could also be a little behind the times, and throw in a truly comical rhyme into the midst of a promising delivery.

‘Sons of Survival’ would prove to be the Doctors’ final LP, and perhaps their best, as they found themselves in an increasingly hostile musical world. ‘50’s Kids’ starts off in familiar violin-torturing style, quickly leaping into a punky riff and sneering delivery of rather forgettable lyrics. ‘Into The Strange’ has the Stooges-like slow crawl that was such a template for the punk generation, and the wailing violin once again sets off the song beautifully. Richard’s dry-throat, angry delivery is text book punk, and the song is easily the best on offer here. ‘No Limits’ plodding riff and mockney voice do the worried piece no favours. The single ‘Bulletin’ has the feel of a punk Fairport Convention piece, unlikely to appeal to the legion of spikies and snotties who were taking over the reins of rock by then. ‘Network’s phased guitar sound, crashing drums and bass and herald of doom vocals would work well today, and closes side 1 creditably.

Over on our imagined Side 2, title track, ‘Sons of Survival’ lays down a great, chopping riff enriched with strong guitars, while the sawing violin serves as a warning, as Richard spits out his tale of disappointment and distress. ‘Back from the Dead’ thunders along like crazy, shooting guitars and slicing violin challenging the listener to last the course. ‘Triple Vision’ reappears, fully infused with bile and energy, barely recognisable from its own, folky demo. ‘Kiss Goodbye Tomorrow’ returns us to the kind of romantic melancholy the Doctors obviously still thought had some mileage left in it. Our original closer, ‘Cool’ (live in the Satin Subway) is standard gob along punk, riding on a hell for leather violin screech, enriched with ‘Oi’s from the audience. Added bonuses include ‘Don’t Panic England’, recorded with short-lived member Dave Vanian, whose distinctive voice adds a little, but not enough to matter. The William Burroughs intro tape to the last Doctors of Madness gig (Camden’s Music Machine 26/10/1978) is atmospheric enough, and their version of ‘Trouble’ from this momentous occasion is an appropriately fuzzy, nasty and nothing to lose treatment that would pass muster today. ‘Making Machines’ robotic beat and wailing guitars is another highlight from this epitaph concert, the desperate vocals provided by TV Smith. Finally, ‘Who Cries For Me? a lament with a lullaby-like delivery, is a good place to leave this particular party.

The Doctors of Madness had a lot going for them; great musicianship, imaginative lyrics, grandiose backing and a striking image that set them apart from the rest of the late-period prog rockers they initially shared airspace with. What they didn’t have was luck. They were the missing strand of DNA between glam and punk, with the latter’s more mutant strain of bands quickly grabbing all the attention that should have been theirs. Too weird for the jaded musical conservatism that prog was turning into and too melodic and disciplined for the young punks who viewed everyone older than themselves with suspicion. Initially playing to their strengths and then adjusting to the prevailing mood, the Doctors of Madness imploded before they got the fair hearing they deserved. They’re back on tour this month, so you can decide for yourself.

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Scenester
8/5/17

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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May 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Music Psychedelic Reviews Tags:,
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Is Bliss speak to Eyeplug

Is Bliss comprise of Jimmy Stuart (Guitar/Voice), Dean Edwards (Bass) and Sam Speakman (Drums) and are based in Portsmouth. Gaining critical acclaim due to their original sound, 6music airplays and incendiary live performances on the increasingly growing new psychedelic gig circuit, they are a band to look out for. After successful support slots with both Mark Gardener (Ride) & Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), the band soon head out to do a support slot for The Jesus And Mary Chain on their current tour. Signed to Club AC30 with an imminent new E.P. recorded, Dean had a chat with Eyeplugs Dave Taylor who wanted to find out some more.

01. How did the band originate?

We started the band out of boredom I guess. Myself and Jimmy had been rehearsing songs now and then in his bedroom and when we felt we had something cool going on we decided that it would be best to look for a drummer. Sam was an old friend of Jimmy’s who had recently moved back to Portsmouth. Jimmy suggested we ask him to drum for us and from the first time we rehearsed as a 3-piece it felt right and we knew we were on to a winner with Sam.

02. How did you decide on your name?

The name ‘Is Bliss’ was a suggestion from a friend of the band who used to jam with me and Jimmy some while back before Sam joined. It seemed fitting and we stuck with it.

03. Who influences your sound?

We have always been fascinated by in our opinion, the two best eras for guitar bands, the 60s and the 90s. Both eras influence us heavily in the way we dress, think, write, play music and live. In terms of bands that made us want to start playing then we owe that to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane, Spacemen 3, The Verve, Radiohead and The Brian Jonestown Massacre etc…

04. What are you currently listening to?

Right now, we are listening to White Fence, The Smoking Trees, The Spyrals, The Lucid Dream, Tinariwen and Dead Rabbits. Really, anything psychedelic and fuzzy is what we love!

05. How has the band evolved since it’s initial concept?

I feel we have evolved in every aspect of being a band really, We’ve learnt what common ground and also what differences we have and how to use that to create something we all are happy with. This is the case in every song, we all have to be into it 100%, otherwise it doesn’t work for us. We’ve evolved as friends too and grown closer as a unit. We know each others next move in the rehearsal room as well as on stage.

06. Your last release, the Velvet Dreams E.P. was Lauren Lavern’s Record of the Day on 6 Music and the first pressing completely sold out. Surely, you must be pleased with that?

For sure we were absolutely made up when we heard both of those! To be played on 6music is something we always wanted to achieve and so when we did this on our first attempt we felt a sense of pure excitement really, and to then go on to find out the E.P. completely sold out and went into the official charts, well that’s something I think we are still getting our heads around even now. We are incredibly proud of that and couldn’t thank everybody who bought a copy enough!  

07. You’ve personally been selected by The Jesus And Mary Chain to open for them at the O2 Bournemouth on their current tour.  Are you looking forward to playing your biggest venue to date?

Yes, of course, we are absolutely buzzing to get up onto that stage and show the crowd in Bournemouth what we are about. Let’s hope we can get them warmed up enough before the sonic destruction that follows!

08. Where else can we see you play live in the near future?

We have a large selection of dates to follow this year, Festivals in the summer and of course Liverpool Psych Fest in September. Here’s how our April 2017 is looking:

01: Bournemouth – O2 Academy
07: London – Sebright Arms 
12: Brighton – Hope & Ruin
14: Paris – Espace B
16: Bristol – Crofters Rights
22: Southsea – Castle Road, Record Store Day Event

09. You promote your own Psych Fest in Portsmouth. Tell us more.

We run a night once a year called “Southsea Psych Out”. It’s just a chance for us to bring some of our favourite unsigned psych and shoegaze bands down to Pompey to tear the roof of a sweatbox of a venue. We started it last year and the night sold out which was great! We return this year in August.

10. If you were to record a cover version, what song?

I think we’ve always tried to concentrate on our own material but if the opportunity to play a cover ever did arise we always liked the idea of toying with a dance tune and making it our own. We wouldn’t want to do the obvious you know. Set ourselves a challenge with an acid house tune maybe.

11. You’ve recently been in the studio to record your next release. When can we expect to hear it and what formats will it be released on?

Yes, we’ve just finished in the studio with Patrick Collier (Vibrators, Primal Scream, New Model Army) and we have recorded a 5 track E.P that we are really pleased with. It will be released via Club AC30 in late May on 12″ coloured vinyl and digital download.

12. If people want to find out more how can they keep in touch with the band?

We have a facebook page: facebook.com/isblissband, Our label can be found: at facebook.com/clubac30 , You can also check us out on Spotify: spotify.com

Main Photo Credit: Jessica Mailey

Dave Showplug Taylor

Dave Showplug Taylor is owner of Showplug Promotions, a man who makes things happen, loves providing great affordable quality Events, Gigs, Shows, Comedy Plugs and great all around Entertainment. Works closely alongside Eyeplug Media and lives by the Sea with his Family. Loves the MC5 and Cold Beer.

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March 23, 2017 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , , , ,
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Rhoda Dakar Speaks to Eyeplug

Rhoda Dakar recently took time out from her growingly hectic schedule to speak to The ‘mighty’ Scenester about her current activity including her all new fab EP, ‘The Lotek Four Vol 1’ which is out now.

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S: So, tell us a little about the new EP.

RD: It started out from an idea about when I first took my son to the studio. Cecil and Terry Callier were recording ‘Dolphins’, Doctor Robert was the producer, up at the Church (The Eurythmics’ studio) and my son was six months old at the time, and he was humming along.

They wanted to have a parents’ evening, a concert where the music teachers and the parents actually performed, so I said why don’t we do ‘Dolphins’? One of the music teachers played piano, we didn’t have a bass player. In our first run through, in the rehearsal studio, I recorded it on my phone. It sounded amazing. You really don’t need all the fuss. If the song’s good, and it’s played well, and the arrangement’s right, you don’t need all the extra stuff. It’s a different art form, putting the extra stuff on. So that was the idea for the EP, to get back to the essence of what a song is, so you have a good song, and record it in a good studio, with the minimum of fuss. It was all recorded it in two sessions, in one day. We were lucky enough to have The Black Barn. We recorded two versions of one song (‘Fill the Emptiness’) just to show that it’s not even about style in which you record it.

The EP was recorded with my live band, and that was the real joy because we already had an understanding. I teach vocals and performance, I‘m used to working with different people. It’s about weighing people up, seeing what they’ve got to offer, and seeing how you can get the best out of them. There are some people you can work with a million times and still never get anywhere with them.

S: What first got you into music?

RD: My Dad. He was a singer; he used to sing around the house. There was always something playing. We had a gramophone, and 78’s; they had a big record collection, my parents. I had wanted to be an actress, and my first job was at the Young Vic, at the theatre wardrobe. My grandmother had been a theatrical costumier, she taught me how to sew, so I got a job in theatre wardrobe, and I was there for a couple of years, and in all that time, there was one mixed race actor came in for one play. I had been in the Youth Theatre and we’d done Shakespeare at the Old Vic, and I went to the Young Vic, which is just across the road, working professionally, and I suddenly realised I’d be playing nurses and prostitutes for the rest of my life. I just had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. I went into the Civil Service but I was only there for about six months, and in that time, I got in a band, and we got a deal. I’d actually been performing for over ten years by the time I got into a band. It takes a long time to be a good singer, and I wasn’t when I started, I’ve had to work at it.

S: How well did you cope with fame at such an early age?

RD: I had been around bands for a long time. I went to see my first gig when I was thirteen, so I’d seen lots and lots of bands and two of my friends were in the Sex Pistols, and I spent a lot of time with them. So I saw how they coped with it, and I saw how some didn’t cope so well, and how one coped brilliantly because he was very grounded and when he wasn’t doing anything, his Dad used to make him work for him. That keeps you on it. I have to say, that Paul Cook was a massive influence on how I behaved in the music industry. His attitude to people, his level-headedness, and I really loved that, so I took after him.

S: Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

RD: Some of them, I am, I mean, I can’t say I’m a big fan of The Partridge Family anymore, but that was kind of the first thing. Very quickly, I was into David Bowie, and that’s remained a constant, although I have to say he went out of favour with me, and I think it was when I saw him cutting up lyrics, and I thought, I’ve pored for hours over lyrics, and he just cut them up and put them together willy-nilly. I was a bit huffy about that, especially as when I wrote very much from the heart.

S: Which of today’s artists do you admire?

RD: There are loads of young grime artists that I like, when my son was too young to go by himself, I saw Skepta, Wretch 32 years ago, and I think someone who is going to do well is Stormzy. He’s bright enough to know that you can’t take one idea and go with it forever, you have to branch out, and he’s got a little twinkle in his eye. There’s an American band called The Interrupters, I think they’re under thirty, and they’re like a ska-punk band, which wasn’t something I was ever into, but they have this song called ‘Take Back The Power’ which really resonates with me at the moment, you know ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader or will you follow? Are you a fighter, or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power.’

S: Which person has had the most significant effect on you?

RD: Musically or attitudinally? It’s got to be Bowie, I as a fan when I was 13, even before I went to see him. At the time, to be a Bowie fan was like, we were called Bowie freaks; it was so different to what was going on. Also, I’ve met so many people, with whom I’m still in touch, and they shaped my adolescence. One of them, Jill from Bromley, ended up going out with Paul Weller, she was into Siouxsie Sioux, and so we all ended up knowing Siouxsie, back in the day. Essentially, the reason I’m still hanging around with bands is all about those people connected with Bowie. People I’ve reconnected with over the years, like Hugo Burnham, who was the drummer for the Gang of Four, he was one of our group, all have ended up connected with music in some way. I wasn’t one of those people tearing my clothing when Bowie died. I thought it was a shame, very much so, because I thought he was influential in a good way and the fact that he was starting to make music again. It was just brilliant. As I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, somebody was singing, ‘Where are we now?’ If a busker can’t ruin it, it’s a good song.

S: (Mentions ‘Kooks’)

RD: I was there; I did it with Dr. Robert! We did an acoustic version, we were invited onto the Women’s Stage at Pride, and we sang ‘Kooks’, and my son was like 18 months old, in the audience, in his pushchair. It (Kooks) was about his son, wasn’t it? I let my son think it was about him. I remember him (Duncan ‘Zowie’ Bowie) when he was a little tiny boy in his pushchair, ‘cause I used to sit outside Bowie’s house. I was that mad about him.

S: If you could travel back in time, to any place, when and where would it be?

RD: I’ve been asked this before. The answer I should have given is to go back to Swinging 60’s London, however, the real answer is that I would have loved to go to my Dad’s Jazz Club in Piccadilly, in the 40’s, and see what that was like. My parents met there in the Second World War, I’m sure my mother shouldn’t have been there, but in those days, people just thought ‘Well I might be dead tomorrow, let me just go and see what this is about, a Jazz Club in a basement behind the Regent Palace Hotel.’ My Dad hosted the Caribbean Club there, and the house band was the Ray Ellington Quartet. There is some great photos I’ve got from there, amazing. My Dad was so charming. Oddly enough, it would have been his 120th birthday today. He was 62 when I was born. He was from another era; he was the youngest of eleven.

S: Is there anything you would like to have prevented coming into being?

RD: Gosh. Very difficult, because you want to say, ‘prevent Hiroshima, prevent Nagasaki’, but I think I’d like to have prevented HIV. A terrible, terrible thing and I really don’t know how it came about. I don’t know how selfish this would be, but maybe prevent Trump being born.

S: If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

RD: I don’t think I’d really excise anything. I’d like to add more. I’m putting this thing out now (EP) and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. If I’d done more, would that have come to me earlier?

S: If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

RD: The advice I would give myself would be either ‘get yourself a decent manager’, or ‘learn about the music business’. I have lost and have been eased out of thousands and thousands of pounds over the years, because I trusted people to do things for me – because we never had a manager for more than about six weeks, I never joined the PRS. So I missed out on money there for example. Another one; just never reading paperwork properly that was given to me. Get acquainted with the business, and be on point, as the young people say.

S: What songs or arrangements are you most proud of, and why?

RD: I would say I’m proudest of this latest EP, particularly because I was in charge of making everything happen, for the first time ever. Nobody found the studio for me; I found it. Nobody decided on the tracks; I decided on them. I made all the big decisions, I designed it, and it’s all down to me. If there’s something wrong, it’s my fault. Even the free download, it was my decision.

S: ‘The Boiler’ is such a powerful piece of work. Did you have any misgivings about it? Has it ever proved a millstone around your neck?

RD: I don’t think of it as a bit of a millstone. For me, it was a transition between me doing acting and singing. It was the only original song we had at our first gig. It was where I started to become a songwriter. I’d think of it as a millstone if people still expected me to do it. That said, I can’t do it because it’s very much a piece about someone like my younger self, I’m not twenty, I don’t think the same thoughts. It would be me faking being twenty.

S: How did the launch for the EP go?

RD: I’m pleased I’ve had a positive response, it’s very rewarding, and we’re already writing the next one!

Rhoda Dakar spoke with Scenester1964 23/2/2017

Rhoda Dakar; The Lotek Four Vol. 1 (LTK4V1CD)

 

Coming from the doyenne of the 80’s Ska revival scene, and dressed in natty hounds-tooth (the EP, not Rhoda) the five tracks on offer here are a personal labour of love.
‘Fill The Emptiness’ opens as a languorous, swaying Lover’s Rock track, with some lovely falls in the voice, and a crisp, raspy sax solo to boot.

‘Tears You Can’t Hide’s high, pumping beat and tension and release dynamic shows Rhoda’s rounder, yet ironically, more stentorian voice tone.

‘You Talking To Me?’ has the kind of late night atmospheric sax and keyboard that welcomes you in, the voice smooth, even drifting into French at opportune moments.
Rhoda lets her voice soar on ‘Dolphins’, the ‘lapping water’ piano complementing the jazzy feel in a relationship tale.

‘Fill The Emptiness (Reefa)’ reprises in a very different style, and fits its piano riff well, the slide guitar setting it off beautifully, Rhoda duetting with herself at one point.

BUY A COPY HERE

Scenester1964 7/3/2017

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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March 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Jazz Modernist Pop Soul Tags:, , , ,
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It Suits Me Well – Dave Swarbrick

It Suits Me Well: Dave Swarbrick The Transatlantic Recordings 1976-1983 (Cherry Tree CRTREE017D)

Cherry Red’s value pack of four LPs by the late, great Dave Swarbrick, shoehorned onto two CDs, takes in his masterly recordings from the mid-seventies to the early eighties, and is sure to delight all folkies and fiddlers.

Taken from that ‘difficult’ period when punk ‘n’ funk ‘n’ electronic noodling were cutting a bloody swathe through the music industry, the folkie’s stock was as low as it could possibly get. The music industry’s money men may have underestimated Dave and his folk rebel brothers, however. Dave soldiered on with his fiddle and became a legend in music, a status which seems to have eluded the synth poppers and funkateers of this period.

The simply titled ‘Swarbrick’ opens, with the winding speed ride of ‘The Heilanman/Drowsey Maggie’, suddenly coming to a halt and into ‘Carthy’s March’, and if a violin could smile, it surely did here, in this jolly tune. ‘The White Cockade/Doc Boyd’s Jig/Durham Rangers’ once again shows off that mastery over the bow Dave had in spades, in a seamless medley of tunes that surely threaten to provoke a dance.

‘My Singing Bird’s sweet harp accompaniment beautifully sets off the plaintive fiddle figure, contrasting with the full speed wynd of ‘The Nightingale’. ‘Once I Loved a Maiden Fair’ practically takes the listener back to some Arcadian past, with its gentle picking and interplay with guitar. A trip across the Irish Sea is called for in ‘The Killarney Boys of Pleasure’, a typically winding, interweaving piece of Celtic whimsy.

‘Lady in the Boat/Roisin the Bow/Timor the Tartar’s jolly jig has you reaching for a flagon of ale as your feet start to feel itchy. ‘Byker Hill’, a little more pedestrian, still has life to it, and ‘The Ace and Deuce of Pipering’s apparently simple back-and-forth figure is a delight. ‘Hole in the Wall’s melancholic, even courtly styling provides a contrast to the manic bowing of the LP, neatly turning around with a harsh, contrasting note. ‘Ben Dorian’s sad fiddle bowing, playing over sweet picking, is simply beautiful, but no sooner spun, than the lively ‘Hullichans/Chorus Jig’ bursts in, gleefully disturbing the peace. ‘The 79ths Farewell to Gibraltar’ is appropriately upbeat and hearty, while ‘Arthur McBride/ Snug In The Blanket’ is a simple jig for a cold winter’s night.

‘Swarbrick 2’ opens up with the insistent, jumpy ‘The Athole Highlanders’, and sticking with the Celtic theme, ‘Shannon Bells/Fairy Dance/Miss McLeod’s Reel’, more tunes to test the legs-and stamina- of keen dancers.‘The King of the Fairies’ sawing, wistful fiddle figure leads you to who-knows-where, with ‘Chief O’Neill’s Favourite/Newcastle Hornpipe setting you back on dry land-at least temporarily.

‘Sheebeg and Sheemore’ has an easy, courtly, romantic air, perhaps in preparation for ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin/Sir Philip McHugh’s rougher and readier entertainment, a jig that reaches knuckle-breaking speed toward its end. ‘Planxty Morgan Mawgan’s gossipy, swinging tune with a hint of trickery is welcome here, and is followed by the full-on Gallic dance of ‘The Swallow’s Tail/Rakes of Kildare/Blackthorn Stick’, enlivened by zesty accordion.

‘Sheagh of Rye/The Friar’s Breeches’ is a typically ribald affair, the fiddle winding in and out of the vamping guitar. ‘Derwent Water’s Farewell/The Noble Esquire Dacre’ is the most melancholy offering here, Dave’s fiddle almost weeping its tale of longing out, but our first CD ends happily with the jolly reels of ‘Teribus/Farewell to Aberdeen’.

A packed first disc means the second disc 2 has to finish off the second LP, with the sliding reel, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’, followed by the rambunctious march, ‘Shepherd’s Hey’, the sweet, agreeable ‘Lord Inchiquin, and the heartfelt lament of ‘The Coulin’.

We pass on to the third LP, ‘Smiddyburn’, and its opening pair, ‘Wat ye Wha I Met the Streen/The Ribbons of the Redhead’, a slice of folk rock with the first appearance of electric guitar accompaniment on this swinging piece. ‘Sir Charles Coote/Smiths’ nimble picking will have some of us wondering if Dave had six fingers on each hand, such is the intensity of the work on this faintly nautical piece. ‘I Have a Wife of my Own/Lady Mary Haye’s Scotch Measure’s literal take and frantic bowing shows off the sort of skills that surely made Ashley Hutchings say that Dave was ‘the most influential British fiddle player bar none’.

‘Wishing/The Victor’s Return/The Gravel Walk’s reprise of the folk rock sound of Dave’s Alma Mater, Fairport Convention is more than welcome, rounded out by electric guitar and military drum. ‘When The Battle Is Over’s plaintive picked chords evoke, to a world-weary beat, the sadness and hopelessness of war. ‘Sword Dance/The Young Black Cow’ continues the folk-rock theme, Dave’s fiddle screeching out like the clashing blades of the former title, tempered by the sweet melody of the latter. ‘Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen/The Hag with the Money/Sleepy Maggie’s beautiful candlelight piano opening raises goose bumps, then into a characteristic, leaping reel. The collection’s only vocal performance is the final track, ‘It Suits Me Well’, a tale of the resignation many feel in their daily round.

‘Flittin’ opens with ‘The Bride’s March/The Kelman’s Pertition/Shew Me the Way to Wallingford/Sword Dance, the former an ironically funereal affair, contrasting with the lively ‘Pertition. ‘Parthenia/Pittengardener’s Rant’ begins with a light touch of piano and fiddle neatly complementing each other in this chamber piece, followed by the sort of rambunctious march that belongs to another world entirely. ‘Grey Daylight/The Hawk/The Ten Pound Fiddle’ brings together another finger-breaking reel and a slow march. ‘Jamaica/With All of my Heart’s courtly opening with piano accompaniment contrasts well with the rollicking tune it accompanies. ‘Nathaniel Gow’s Lament on the Occasion of the Death of his Brother/Rory of the Hills’ needs little in the way of explanation, and ‘The Rakes of Sollohad’s’ jaunty picking livens up the latter part of this LP. ‘Dr Isaac’s Maggot/Cupid’s Garden’ makes good use of piano, a braced tune with a wandering fiddle figure that resolves itself beautifully. Our closing track, ‘Boadicea’ is, by turns, dignified and comradely, a fitting closer to this masterly LP and this whole collection.

If you’re not so familiar with folk music, you’re missing out on the simple joys of tales well told and music played with a skill that borders on the devilish. Make room in your collection for this man and his many friends.

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Scenester
18/1/17

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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January 19, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Folk Heroes Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Author – Talcott Levy

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words? 

I didn’t know I could write until I went to university, as a mature student. I had an awful schooling where I spent most of the time trying to avoid getting beaten up. We weren’t encouraged to be academic but to find a trade. But I’d always loved reading. My granddad was an antiquarian book dealer in the East End. I read mostly popular fiction when I was growing up. However, when I was 13 years old I worked in a kebab shop in Ilford washing-up. There I met this amazing guy called John who knew everything about everything. He decided I would like George Orwell. I did and I read every book in a year. After that I swallowed up literature. I even read Dostoevsky at that age, although I didn’t understand it! By the time I applied for university I think I’d absorbed so much good writing that when it came to essays the tutors were struck by how well I wrote. I had no idea. I was just thinking, ‘How would Orwell say this, in his plain English’. So I guess from feedback at college I knew I could write, that gave me the confidence to try fiction.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ was always going to be a niche book. The themes of Jewish identity and youth sub-culture were not going to have a mainstream appeal. However, it is also a fairly standard ‘rites of passage’ tale so I did have some hopes that a literary agent might like it. First I sent drafts to the Writers Association. This was a paid for consultancy service that offered advice. It sounds like a potential rip off but it wasn’t. They were full of integrity and fantastic help for a first time writer. Nick Russell-Pavier looked at my work and was incredibly detailed and most importantly, honest. You have to be able to take criticism and be prepared to, ‘murder your darlings’ (cut what is unnecessary), as he put it. The book would never have been written without his help and I owe him an enormous thanks for making me understand what it takes to be a writer of fiction. I then sent a sample and synopsis out to a random set of agents listed in the Writers Handbook. I did get one very positive response. The agent really liked my writing and the whole premise of the book. However, he wanted me to change it in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with. I understand why, it would have potentially given it a more mainstream appeal. Perhaps stupidly I decided against re-writing and just sat on the book for a couple of years. Then I stumbled upon Old Dog Books and its owner Paul Hallam, who thankfully liked it and was willing to publish it as it was. In that sense I have been very lucky. Without Old Dog Books I am not sure there are too many other pop-pulp fiction publishers out there!

 03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel? 

At the time of writing my novel hasn’t been published. However, I have written or co-written five academic books. There’s always a real thrill when you get the proofs. It was the same with ‘Weekend Dancer’. When you see your writing set out like an actual real book, it’s a great buzz. It sort of seems very personal and private until that moment. Then you realise that something you have written is going to become public and read by all these strangers. It may sound daft but when you are writing you might show bits to friends and family and so it feels as if you are just playing at being a writer. But when it’s set down professionally and you have to do the final edit it becomes an object that you realise is now out of your control. It will have multiple lives of its own. It’s an amazing thought, really.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously? 

I’d written academic books and I wanted a new challenge. I took Woody Allen’s famous advice to authors and chose something that I knew about. I am lucky enough to have a job that gives me time to write and one where you are constantly writing and expressing yourself. Lectures, seminars, essay feedback, it’s all about articulating yourself in words – oral and written. In a sense, ever since I was an undergraduate I have been engaged in writing of one kind or another, non-stop. So it wasn’t about suddenly taking writing seriously. It was always part of what I did. The difference was to fit the extra writing into my routine. Again I always have writing deadlines and marking deadlines so it wasn’t hard to set up a schedule. I think writing is a discipline. You have to be organised. You have to stick to a plan. That worked for me anyhow.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing? 

I like to write in public. I spent a lot of time in the mornings in cafes around North London: sipping cappuccino, eating croissants and writing. I loved it. I liked having people around and a bit of chatter. For lunch I used to wander into central London, to Soho and Bar Italia. I have been going there since I was a teenager. I knew I could stay there working on my laptop as long as I wanted. It helped with the novel too as some of it is set around that area. I often went to those parts of London that I was writing about. While I was writing about the Elephant and Castle I went over the river to sit in a caff nearby. I sat in the parks when I was setting events there. I went all over, even to Leytonstone and Gants Hill. It’s a London novel and I wanted to capture the feel of the city so it helped being situated where I was writing about. I also didn’t try and write too much in a day. But at the same time I always wrote something. Little and often was my motto! It’s amazing how much you find you have written if you just do a few hours every day.

 06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset? 

Obviously the Mod years were seminal. It is where I and my friends did our growing-up. Those years were very intense. Friendships were at the centre of our lives. They meant so much. It was in the context of the Mod scene that we learnt how to negotiate relationships. It was where we learnt that even if you like the same music and clothes people are different. It may sound obvious but as a self-centred 17 year old you just think about yourself and that if people don’t agree with you they must be wrong. It takes some time to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and situations. Going to clubs, starting to get exposed to girls and politics and different types of people with diverse backgrounds; Mod was a great place to learn all the stuff of negotiating difference. It wasn’t smooth or easy and I for one acted like a right Muppet a great deal of the time. But all the wrong things I did to people – letting them down, not taking their feelings seriously, talking stupid dogmatic rubbish – it was all done in a safe environment. There was the safety valve of dancing and posing about town together! We had something that bonded us so all our stupidities never lasted too long. I’ve realised that some people never go through that. But you need a testing time and a stimulating environment to find out who you are and appreciate other people’s points of view.

07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

It was exciting. It made you feel different and a part of something special. It was also myopic and suffocating. Sometimes it was a bit dull. It was many things at different times. It all seemed so important. We were so thirsty for Mod knowledge; to learn more about the styles, the music the lifestyle – to be pure Mod. It absorbed us, it was a total passion. But it made anyone who wasn’t part of our world simply ‘squares’ and they were dismissed. It probably wasn’t great for our parents either. We set ourselves apart. We judged people on their clothes and musical tastes. We were total snobs!

08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

I guess no different to anyone else. Trying to find out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I hated work. I drifted in and out of dead-end jobs. Luckily there was lots of work around in London in the early to mid-80’s. I basically dossed around at work until I got found out and then sacked. Then I’d walk into the jobcentre and get another job and do the same again. There were, of course, recessions and lots of unemployment in the country. But London was actually going through a boom period for most of the time. It was the North and the old heavy industry areas that really suffered. I did eventually find my feet working for a children’s’ publishers, Walker Books. They had recently been started by a very enlightened guy, Sebastian Walker. He ran the place in a very humane way. Everyone worked flexi hours, there was a cook that came in to make fresh meals for the staff, there was no real management structure other than Sebastian the owner and an equally nice general manager. It was the first time I had worked with really middle-class people and it was an eye-opener. They all talked about the theatre and art and books. There was a real commitment to the work but they were mainly creative types who didn’t think in straight lines. When their kids came to help out in the summer I really liked them too. They seemed so bright and happy and they were all planning to travel. When I found out that they were at university I had no idea what that really meant. When they told me about the things you could study I decided that was what I wanted to do, go to university. I didn’t have any ‘A’ levels (or ‘O’ levels!) but I managed to enrol in an evening course that led me to college.

 09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

I don’t think it did. At least, not in the way that Stanley Cohen set out when he wrote about the moral panic over ‘mods ‘n’ rockers’ in the 60s. We were largely under-the-radar for the mainstream press. Most of the articles were written by NME, Melody Maker and other music magazines. They were mostly interested in the music and the journalists were young enough and knowing enough to get it right. When there was reporting of mods as a sub-culture it did tend to focus on the stereotype ‘mod’, all mirrored scooters and parkas. But even then it was quite sympathetic. There certainly wasn’t any outrage about mods. Britain was so full of tribal youth that by the 80s youth subculture was not really demonised. I think this changed with the 1990s club scene and when new drugs like Ecstasy appeared. Then it was the same sort of headlines and social construction that Cohen writes about. But we existed in a sort of tacit truce period between the media and youth culture. I am guessing that if you were involved in a predominantly black youth sub-culture it was probably different.

 10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative? 

There is no doubt that Paul Weller and ‘The Jam’ was our biggest influence. Weller looked fantastic as a mod and we followed his lead. When he formed ‘The Style Council’ French and Italian looks became important. So too did hanging-out drinking cappuccino which was a constant theme in The Style Council lifestyle they portrayed. We used to go to watch French movies like, ‘A bout de souffle’ at the old Renoir cinema in Brunswick square. The French Lycee in Kensington and the ICA on The Mall also used to show foreign films which we watched but wouldn’t always understand. Europe represented modernism to us, forward thinking and youth. Britain seemed grey and Victorian by comparison, at least in our imaginations. We were very pretentious, without any substance! I tried to learn to speak French using Berlitz cassette tapes but didn’t get anywhere. Despite the superficiality of it all on our part it showed we were searching for something different, eager for an alternative culture and lifestyle.

11. What other books do you wish you had written? 

I based ‘Weekend Dancer’ on The Jam’s lyrics for their song ‘Absolute Beginners’, which was itself taken from Colin MacInnes’ novel of that name. I love his London trilogy. I wish I could write a similar one. ‘Weekend Dancer’ is an attempt to take that story but put in a 1980s context. The main character remains nameless like MacInnes’ early modernist. His best friend, ‘The Wizard’, is ‘Smiler’ in my book. ‘Crepe Suzzette’ is Tina. They aren’t exact fits but there are lots of references to them and other characters and incidents in, ‘Absolute Beginners’. It’s also a character driven rather than plot driven novel. This isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea. I know there are critics and avid readers who can’t stand the London Trilogy because they are weak on plot and heavy on style. But I like what MacInnes does and wish I could think of similar themes. I may have an idea for one!

12. How has the internet changed what you do? 

Well it brought about the contact with the Word Association and Old Dog Books so that was important. It makes professional connections for authors much easier. It also makes research much less time consuming. Everything is out there. For example, when I wanted to set the book over the weekend of PW Botha’s visit to London, I found a wealth of photos’ from the protest march that day in the London Transport Museum’s photo archives which are on-line. You Tube is great as every Northern Soul record ever made seems to have been uploaded. There’s old adverts, pop shows, gigs. You can do everything from your armchair! But it is also important to engage more directly. Which is why I went to the places I wrote about, to get the visceral feel too.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors? 

When I was writing ‘Weekend Dancer’, and a few times since, a lot of people who have said they too are writing a book have told me that they, ‘just write’. That somehow they hate to be shackled by a plan or a routine. That it will all just intuitively come together from their creative endeavours. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make. Writing is all about planning, as detailed as possible. It needs discipline and a schedule. And you have to be prepared to edit, edit, edit. As Nick at the Word Association taught me, even if what you have written is the best prose ever, if it doesn’t fit the story, if it doesn’t contribute to the direction of the plot, it has to go. Being a ferocious critic of your own work is very important. Trying to take the readers point of view is also crucial. With ‘Weekend Dancer’, I broke this rule here and there, which is why it’s more a niche book, but I know I am doing that. I wouldn’t do it in the future if I was aiming for a more mainstream market. I would advise that anyone writing a novel first writes a general synopsis. Then a detailed chapter plan. And finally in one sentence write down exactly what their book is about. If you can’t do this after the synopsis and the plan then you have to review them until you can.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book? 

‘Weekend Dancer’ by Talcott Levy comes out just before Christmas on Old Dog Books website (see the buy now link below) & Amazon. Old Dog Books hope to have a distribution deal in place in the New Year that will take it into book shops. My next idea for a book is a second London novel but this time with a bit more of a mainstream appeal. It is called, ‘Art and the Ottoman’. It is a ‘rites of passage’ story with a difference, the main character is 118 years old and has decided to kill himself (a one sentence explanation!). There has not been a novel set around the London Turkish immigrant experience and I am going to have a go at writing one. I have studied quite a bit about the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. I want to use this for the background of the story which involves deep political rivalries and Turkish criminal gangs. I hope I can pull it off as I am not Turkish!

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book? 

It has only just gone on sale, so I will have to wait and see. Anyone reading this who wants to ask me anything about what I have said here can contact me via Old Dog Books. Or if you do read the book and want to let me know what you think please do get in touch too.

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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November 29, 2016 By : Category : Culture Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Tags:, ,
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Kirk Brandon speaks to Eyeplug

What first got you into music, specifically forming a band?

I imagine it was the turning away from education, as in my school. Classic ‘I don’t fit in with anyones thinking about who or what I should be’. Forming a band meant to me, I’ve got a self-expression machine… trouble is, I was pretty clueless as to what it was I wanted to articulate. Young, slim and dim. A lot of insecure feelings pointed in no particular direction.

Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

Initially it was Blues, The Free, Sabbath, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Groundhogs… then Punk Rock happened and the world was turned upside down. It meant people could express themselves in an anti establishment way and think for themselves. Amongst all this, I was growing up doing a whole host of doss house crummy jobs going nowhere. Punk spoke to a lot of people. It was a ‘state of mind’. It vanished quick enough but, there was enough residue to father a whole host of bands from the Pistols through to Nirvana or Green Days.

Which of today’s artists do you like? How do you think they compare to your earliest favourite artists?

I heard the XX and enjoyed listening to their album recently. It didn’t smash me in the fave but was cool just have play. I hear things all the time, I think I’ve gone eclectic. Heard Howling Wolf the other day and as good now as then. Many things nowadays seem to be fourth or fifth generation generic in this so-called Babylon… so many voices, all speaking in hidden tongues. Perhaps it’s just I’m waiting for a bit of pure bravery.

If you had to describe your music to someone who had not heard you before, what would you say?

Often called Post Punk, but transcended that while it died off. Angry, end of days music, loves labour lost

What songs or arrangements of your own are you most proud of, and why?

There’s many for all different kinds of reasons. ‘Iceman’… ‘Propaganda’… Judas’…’Sputnik’… Titanium Man’ They all come with very different approaches to them. Their difference I’m proud of. No two the same. Some are sweeping in context, either anti-establishment or almost dream state. ‘Sputnik’ is a requiem, ‘Propaganda’ is anti-establishment, ‘Judas’ was someones betrayal of me, ‘Iceman’ is the 5,000 year old man they found in the ice on the Italian border in the mountains, ‘Titanium Man’ is simply the Russian doomed anti-hero who was an enemy of Ironman, betrayed by his own regime.

How well did you cope with fame at an early age?

Fame at 25 took my head off. I never ever imagined it could have possibly have happened. It was impossible. When the covers of magazines came along and 3 times on TV in two weeks… It would be a complete lie to say, yes I took it all in my stride. There was no one there to help/advise me, the management assumed it would nose dive at any moment. What I/we needed was proper guidance, not smash and grab thinking as the Titanic was going down. It turned out I wasn’t going down. There are lulls to all careers.

Which person has had the most significant effect on you? Why?

My daughter Siff. She has made sense of life in a very fundamental way. This is her world now, not mine. I’ve had my time. She and her generation have the unenviable task of walking forward into a very insecure, unstable future. She has to be brave all the time.

When touring/visiting, which country had the most profound effect on you, and why?

America. I lived there for almost 4 years. There are certain freedoms over there that are unique. It has to be experienced. For all the negative things going on over there, there is an opposite amount of great things. Every state is a country virtually. There are thinkers over there that broaden mankind’s perspective, and I don’t mean the gold diggers of silicon valley.

If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

I’m afraid I am the product of all my own stupidities and follies. For better, for worse. To erase one might erase the other. Sometimes I’m all the fools I never wanted to ever be, sometimes and just sometimes, I do something right. Don’t wait up…

Which invention or piece of art would you like to have prevented coming into being?

Undoubtably the Bomb and its descendants. It was brought into being by a group of scientists who raided Einsteins mathematics and knowingly did the unspeakable. They gave it life ever after.

If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

Complicated. Find a lawyer that understood what was or was about to have happen to me. Or as the late great Trevor Ravenscroft quoted to me ‘To Thine Own Self Be True’

 

Theatre of Hate

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Westworld De Luxe Edition

(Cherry Red Records CRCDMBOX31)

Cherry Red’s welcome re-release of Theatre of Hate’s sole studio LP, ‘Westworld’ comes expanded with some bonus alternative tracks, and two juicy extras; a disc of BBC sessions, and a live concert, from Vienna.

At a distance of 34 years, we may at last be able to get some perspective on Theatre of Hate’s individual take on post-punk rock. The band, here consisting of singer and songwriter Kirk Brandon, bassist Stan Stammers, sax/clarinet player John ‘Boy’ Lennard and drummer Luke Rendle, took on the serious issues of war, politics and propaganda, and set it to galloping martial music. The sparse, desert-like landscapes of Spaghetti Western soundtracks are never very far away, the wailing sax often providing a spectral atmosphere, and over it all, the soaring voice of Kirk Brandon. Produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, the LP arrived like a hot spark out of the fire, amid the low pop and polished adult orientated rock of 1982, doing respectable business into the bargain.

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The thunderous abandon of ‘Do You Believe in the West World?’ opens, with the band galloping over the plains, Kirk in full throat in what surely deserved to do better than the top 40 single place it ended up with. This is tempered by the shimmering cymbals and funeral trumpet of ‘Judgement Hymn’ and the trip beat of ‘G3’. ‘Love Is a Ghost’ has a tension about it that saves it from being merely a mournful lament, and ‘The Wake’s tense, anxious tones take the listener places he may not want to go. ‘Conquistador’s sleek gallop and rising voice reflect the danger and excitement in the lives of these notorious figures from history, and ‘The New Trail Of Tears’ open, plain-like vistas evoke the cinematic West of legend.

‘Freaks’ may not add much to the canon with its standard TOH beat, but is followed by the shiver-inducing lullaby of ‘Anniversary’. ‘The Klan’ is a suitably nightmarish evocation of antagonism and terror, the imploring vocal shredding the air over an unnerving piano roll. The 7’’ and dub versions of ‘West World’ follow the former a triumph, the latter something of a let-down, with its attempt at a ‘club’ sound hampered by its sheer attack. The alternative take of ‘Propaganda’ shows improvement on the original cut, with stronger beat, and closing track ‘Original Sin’s fear-response guitar and oriental feel making a surprising, late addition to the palette.

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The BBC CD offers up much the same basic material, and in almost every case, the studio takes for the John Peel show and ‘Top of the Pops’ are far superior to their original LP versions. The music is tighter, the vocals more assured, and the overall feel is that of a band who were surely going on to bigger and better things. The ‘Live in Vienna’ CD showcases the band’s winning sound for all to hear, and again, it exceeds the studio LP on almost every cut. We now know that Theatre of Hate would split with little to show for their efforts, and so the strident sound of the live CD and the punchy, engaging BBC sessions are ever more valuable artefacts for those who found the general run of 1982’s pop a little tepid for their tastes. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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November 28, 2016 By : Category : Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Author – Pete McKenna

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

In the winter of 1995 I was laid off work on the Brighton station job 3 days before Xmas. Talk about a depressing time for me. Back at the flat I found my old Casino diaries and then the idea hit me to write Nightshift. Sold two of my best saxophones and bought a word processor. Stocked up the grub cupboard with beans and pot noodles and got down to writing the book. Finished the book in 3 weeks and started sending it out to publishers and agents. Over 40 no’s later, ST PUBLISHING gave me an offer to publish and Nightshift came out in 1996. Job done. Well received all round, the book quickly became a cult classic.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

Nightshift wasn’t exactly a struggle. Once I’d decided to write the book it was just a matter of getting it done. The rejection was tough to take but one thing a writer has to do is shake off rejections because they are all part of the game.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

Talk about a buzz when I saw the book actually in print. Yeah there’s nothing like the smell of fresh paper in the morning. Top buzz.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I felt I had something to say about the 70’s northern soul scene that hadn’t been said before warts and all. The beauty of Nightshift is that it tells the whole truth and nothing but about England’s longest surviving dance culture that’s bigger than ever these days.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

I do have a daily system which entails me getting up early, boiling up a pot of Lavazza and getting stuck into 2 to 3000 words a day depending on mood. I write everything in longhand and then when it feels good. I blitz the computer adding and subtracting where needed.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

My teenage experiences shaped everything. The clobber, scooters, good mates, northern soul, drugs and soccer agro. A non – stop riotous roller coaster. Thanks also to my old man, former detective sergeant John McKenna who knew a thing or three about personal style and attention to detail which has rubbed off on me even to this day.

07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

Hedonistic, exciting, dangerous, diverse, you name it and it was on the menu apart from anal sex of course. The sole reason for breathing was going against the social grain and it felt electric convincing me that it was all going to last forever. Oohhh err!

08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

Unbeatable, unbelievable, unrepeatable, when we were young sharp hard and cool and the impossible was anything but. Great days and nights with me to the grave.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

The 70’s was a diverse mental decade. The buzz of football aggro was everywhere, massed Saturday battles on terraces and in town centres as opposed to the more underground streamlined casual firms of the 80’s and beyond. Same attitude with a different uniform. The media slagged Wigan off big time describing it as a drug fuelled den of iniquity frequented by vampire like young kids off their heads on drugs. And then Granada television set the scene straight with the best documentary on Wigan ever made thanks to the drive of the late great Ray Gosling RIP. Brilliant documentary that still holds its own today.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Jazz, soul,  Bowie, Ferry, reggae, ska, the king of 70’s pulp fiction Richard Allen AKA James Moffatt, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Anthony Burgess, Christopher Isherwood Hunter S Thompson, Clockwork Orange, Lord Of The Flies, Quadrophenia, If, Alfie, The Ipcress File, Bond, The Servant, The Night Porter, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Godfather, GOD the list could go on forever.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

I don’t but to be honest. Football Factory comes close. The best insight into the murky violent world of the soccer casuals penned by a man who to me is England’s finest. John King, top bloke, top writer and a vegetarian as well. Maybe I should think about knocking meat on the head.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Ease of information with a worldwide audience at the touch of a button. A brilliant useful tool for research and getting the word out there in seconds. Couldn’t do without now.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Yeah. Forget it. Take comfort in your day job, live well, be happy, get married, buy a house and a car, have kids and grow fat, bald, toothless slowly and die happy convinced you did your best for those you love and care for. However if you do decide to march down one of the loneliest paths imaginable then write about something you know that will appeal to your readership and I’m not talking about Knitting Jumpers From Pubic Hair and be prepared for rejection after rejection until – and this is only a slim chance – you finally get your work accepted after which the really hard graft begins.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

Currently working on two novels – UP NORTH and AUTUMN LEAVES that will complete the Frank Wilson trilogy. Also my long overdue baby JERUSALEM which is a dark violent wade through contemporary England’s slashed and torn social fabric seen through the eyes of the main character Johnny Hodges a lifelong skinhead who goes out in a blaze of glory for reasons that will become apparent. ‘ Police confirmed that they received a telephone call seconds before the triple suicide bomb attacks in London Leeds and Birmingham from one of the three men who carried out the bombings dressed in burkas claiming that they were members of the ultra – right group Patriots Of The Cross and the attacks were reprisals for the beheading of three young men in a secret London location by Jihadis with more attacks on the way.

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admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

More Posts - Website

November 28, 2016 By : Category : Culture DozenQ Eyeplugs Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Tags:, ,
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