Indie Icons – the Wolfhounds

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Formed in the early 80s (no one quite knows when, as the process was somewhat random and organic), the Wolfhounds became one of Britain’s most persistent and consistent underground bands in the latter part of that decade, and featured David Callahan on vocals, later of ‘post rock’ prime movers Moonshake. Though more orthodox than Moonshake instrumentally, the Wolfhounds were just as distinctive and individual and scored several underground ‘hits’ in their day, as well as remaining critical favourites to the end. Having curtailed their activities in 1990, three of their members have occasionally reconvened throughout the last decade for the occasional live show, but 2012 saw a renewed vigour, with more live shows and new material beginning to be written and recorded.

In their first incarnation, the band recorded four albums and many singles and EPs, as well as appearing on the now-legendary C86 cassette which was distributed free with New Musical Express in 1986. Three sessions were recorded for BBC Radio One’s legendary John Peel Show. They toured Britain and Europe extensively and annually, building up a loyal following, particularly in France, Germany, Switzerland, and The Netherlands, and were well-known for often incendiary shows. The Wolfhounds also supported My Bloody Valentine and the House of Love on nationwide tours, and alumni went on to join or play with Stereolab, Paul Weller, Dr John, Spiritualized, Oasis and Moonshake.

Their music evolved quickly from garage punk and post-punk roots, to (what is now called) indie pop, through to detuned and effected guitar compositions that saw them likened to Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, though they always retained a pop edge to their wayward experimentations. Nothing if not prolific, their last three LPs were released within the space of one 12-month period.

The current line-up is:
David Callahan – vocals, guitar
Andy Golding – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Richard Golding – bass
Pete Wilkins – drums

01.You recently reformed to play at the ‘Scared to get Happy’ gig at 229 The Venue, London. How did it go? Did you spot the old faithfuls in the audience? Did you make any converts?

Actually, we didn’t reform to play the gig, we were already an ongoing concern for a couple of years, with two three-track singles under our belts and a fair few gigs, so it was fortuitous that the compilation came out and we were able to play. Our audience tends to be a little more oddball than the average indie band, and there were certainly the freaks from provincial towns gone middle-aged there, but also younger ones who should know better. We make converts wherever we go – the fact that we look a bit dad-like can be turned to our advantage when an audience realises pretty quickly that the sounds coming out of us are more original, faster, noisier, more melodic and more limber than the lazy spectacle of most reformed bands. This is because we reformed owing to getting our creative spark back rather than to chase a foolhardy penny. If I say so myself …

02. What is your opinion of the current pop scene? What aspect of it are you excited by? What aspect do you dislike?

I’m never excited by a scene, but there are a few good bands in the indie nook – Flowers, Evans the Death and Peggy Sue come to mind, and there are a few more. So I’m always excited by an imagination pushing against boundaries and creating ambitious music and writing from a frugal start. True independence, that is. You can be great bashing paint tins together and appalling with the best gear in the world, it’s up to you. I don’t like the way some of the newer bands we’ve played with take all the gestures of ‘indie pop’ and just perform a cliché, but that didn’t do anything for me when we started either.

03. How do you feel about new technology? Do you like to keep up with the latest kit, or do you prefer your old, tested equipment? What are your reasons?

We’ve never been frightened of technology and are quite capable of making it all sound cheap and accessible! We used basic sampling in a few of the last songs we recorded in the 1980s (check out Cottonmouth, the Blown Away mini-LP and Celeste if you can find them), but I also went on to form Moonshake, and other than the Young Gods, we were the first underground band to incorporate sampling fully into our sound. There were few straight steals though – the idea was always to screw sounds up to make new sounds, an ideal I still pursue even in what can seem superficially a guitar pop band. We like a tune, too.

With the reactivated Wolfhounds, we record and mix on hard drives and iPhones, and have samples on the single after next. We’ll play, destroy and fuck around with any sound making device you’d care to put in front of us, and it will still sound like us and like punk rock and like pop music.

04. How did you arrive at your various sounds? Deliberate experimentation or happy accidents?

See Q3, but via curiosity and fun seeking – using everything from banjos to samplers to certain guitar effects often starts as a piss-take out of the song or just messing around to amuse ourselves.

05. How much were you affected by your peers and how much by those you admired?

This is a bugbear of mine – there’s too much respect for the past from other musicians. Listen to it, love it, learn from it and then dump it in the most cruel way possible, is my advice about influences. Only then can you be yourself and listen to great stuff without being coerced into copying it.

06. Which musicians/bands/singers did you admire when you were first playing? Why?

I can only speak for myself, but I’ve always sought artistic rigour in every genre and cherry-picked right from the start. But as teenager, it would have been virtually all the post-punk bands (from Pere Ubu to Josef K to the Slits), some of the earlier punk bands (Subway Sect, Spiral Scratch, etc), John Lee Hooker (we used to cover Madman Blues), Sonny Boy Williamson, the usual Doors/Velvets/Stooges nonsense, Nuggets/Pebbles/Chocolate Soup for Diabetics, Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Miles Davis, Astrud Gilberto, odd country things like Kris Kristofferson and Marty Robbins … blah blah …

07. How far do you feel they influenced you?

Even in that basic teen list there is an endless amount of possibilities that inform me to this day. I‘m a terrible impressionist, so whenever I tried to copy someone it would come out quite bad, but if I worked and worked it would eventually sound like myself. Nowadays, I don’t even try to impersonate anyone, that’s the advantage of maturity – you no longer fit the models.

08. How do you feel The Wolfhounds are fitting into the current pop scene? Do you feel you have any younger kindred spirits? Who are they?

I can’t pretend it’s not nice to welcomed by so many of the younger musicians and fans as one of the ‘originals’ in this evaporated down indie pop scene. It feels great that people are and were listening in small but active numbers and it was astounding meeting people in New York that had flown hundreds of miles to see us, some after waiting 30 years, and that people in their early 20s were impressed enough to come up to us and tell us how much they liked it, too. Even the fact that we’re substantially noisier than most of the other bands seems to go down well.

However, we formed in relative isolation, were always somewhat on the outside and remain so. That’s good – if you belong, then it is harder to comment and observe – it’s bad for your music. So, no kindred spirits, but some that we like. I always like the attentions of nice people, you’re a fool if you don’t, but I keep my distance enough to not become smug, I hope.

09. Your ‘EP001’ contained some songs from your earliest days. How did it feel to be playing them?

We never properly recorded those songs, and it felt like we were reconnecting with our roots as a way of achieving creative ‘blast off’. Like channeling our younger selves with the benefit of knowing what would work. The reboot  worked too well in some ways – the backlog of unrecorded and unfinished material is now frustratingly huge …

10. Did you think you would have recorded them differently then? How different?

We would have recorded them more tinnily and with less warmth and confidence – experience counts for a lot as long as you don’t get artistically flabby.

11. What’s your world like? Books? Films? TV shows? Pastimes? Why are they important to you?

Sadly I don’t have the time for TV and films these days (that goes with being a father and worker) but I read plenty – usually 19th century London history, crime novels and surrealism. What you might expect, really. My media checking time is mostly filled with writing instead, and I’m not a good consumer and not a good passive absorber.

12. Who would you say has inspired you the most, and why?

As a young man I was particularly taken with the ambition, achievement and precociousness of Orson Welles, and we stole the title of Bright and Guilty (our 2nd LP) from The Lady From Shanghai. He became somewhat of a pragmatist in his old age. People won’t fund your art blindly forever. He continued to make interesting work to his dying days, but in my own small way I would hope to avoid the compromises he had to make, which overtook his ambition in the end. Good luck with that one!

And Tim Buckley. I‘d never heard anyone express themselves so purely as on Starsailor and Lorca (and on the more accessible material too). I wouldn’t (couldn’t) copy his music, but what I thought I could feel coming from his music I tried to put into my own performance. Even now, onstage, I feel like laughing, crying, screaming, hugging some people, punching others in the face. Not like some hippy nightmare, but real contradictory selfish/selfless expression.

13. Who do you wish had never been born, and what do you wish had never been invented? Why?

You can wish all you like, it won’t change anything!

14. What’s in store for the Wolfhounds future?

Rigour shot through with flashes of inspiration. Forever looking up as the waves reach our chins. Being lower class and classy. Belying our ages. Making not-fitting-in the new fitting in.

Web Links: (unofficial)

Tour Dates:

4 October Berlin Popfest
26 October Preston, Lancs
London gig TBA in September

Records available @:

Cheer Up:
Lost but Happy comp:
Scared to get Happy comp:


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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July 3, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Pop Tags:, , , ,
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Indie Icons – 14 Iced Bears

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

14 Iced Bears first started playing live and recording records at the time of the C86 wave, building a following through the fanzine network and the John Peel show. Their sound developed in a more psychedelic direction by the time of their eponymous first LP in 1988. They made a second album Wonder in 1991, toured Europe, then split in 1992. They’ve reformed in the past couple of years and have toured the States twice, as well as playing numerous gigs in the UK, including Indietracks festival and the recent Scared to Get Happy night in London, celebrating the new Eighties indie compilation on Cherry Red, which they feature on. Cherry Red records is bringing out a new compilation of all the Bears’ recordings ‘Hold On Inside’ in July 2013.

01. When and where did the 14 Iced Bears form?

We formed in Brighton in about 1985.

02. Who came up with the rather unusual name for the band?

I did (Rob the singer). It’s something that happened to me as a child…

03. What inspired you and the other members of the 14 Iced Bears to form a band?

When I started going to the University of Sussex, my main intention was really to form a band. One of my best mates at Uni, Nick Emery, picked up the drums, and things developed from there. We put an ad in a Brighton music shop mentioning the Velvets, Bunnymen and The Pastels and that’s how Kevin Canham and Dominic Mills joined the band.

04. What were the primary musical influences on the band? I have heard the 14 Iced Bears music referred to as ‘Jangly’ ‘Psychedelic’ and ‘Proto-Punk’. Would it be fair to say that songs like ‘Come Get Me’, ‘Inside’, ‘Like A Dolphin’ and ‘Hayfever’ are representative of your musical influences?

Each song is representative of our influences really, we started off influenced by stuff like the Mary Chain and the Pastels, as that was what was exciting around 1985, but I’d been into psyche-y stuff for years, as well as the Liverpool scene and the Postcard label. We were all into bands like the Velvet Underground. Nick also liked stuff such as Theatre of Hate, maybe that came out in his very unique drumming style.

05. When did you first start writing songs and what inspires you to write?

I’d been writing songs since I was about 15/16, although I wrote one for my brother’s teddy bears when we were kids – I still can remember the tune! I usually wandered the streets and the tunes would come into my head, often by the time I got home I’d have almost a whole song. I didn’t consciously write on a subject but would work with what came through me.

06. What were the 14 Iced Bears early gigs like and what kind of venues did the band play?

Our very first gig was at the Uni with a mate Alan White on bass — a stoned rasta got up onstage, started rapping and basically ruined it! But we did do Late Night by Syd Barrett in our set, I used an aftershave bottle as a slide I remember. We soon started playing the Big Twang club at the Escape in Brighton. More to come on this later.

07. The 14 Iced Bears recorded a couple of sessions for John Peel. Any recollections of the sessions and was John Peel a big fan of the band?

We’d sent him a copy of our first single Inside. He really liked it and asked us in for a session. I remember Dale Griffin, the BBC session producer who’d been in Mott the Hoople, saying he really liked our track Cut. When Peel played the session he raved about us after each song and made it one of his favourites of the year. It was very exciting that night when we listened to his show. We did another session a few months later and had to sleep on the BBC foyer sofas after our van key snapped in its lock!

08. The ‘Balloon Song’ appears on the Cherry Red Records boxset ‘Scared To Get Happy’. How do you feel about appearing on this compilation and did the band ever feel part of the C86 scene, which seems to be a catch all term for quite a disparate number of bands?

It’s great to be asked to be on the comp, hopefully it will get more people to listen to our other stuff. We came out at that time and in Brighton there was a healthy indie scene reacting to years of miserable music. The club The Big Twang was at the epicentre, and we supported Felt and the Wedding Present there. The Mary Chain were a catalyst for people like me to believe they could make pop music themselves without having to try and get signed by labels who only seemed interested in the shiny, overproduced side of pop at the time.

09. The 14 Iced Bears signed to Thunderball Records and subsequently recorded a debut album in 1988. Was this a genuinely exciting moment and how do you feel this album stands up now?

It was very exciting and seemed the right thing to do after we’d released a few singles. Sarah records wasn’t into albums then, and Thunderball gave us the chance. I personally think the first album is probably our strongest stuff. It seems to have stood up to the test of time — in the last few years, Alexis Petridis tweeted that it is ‘a lost psych classic’.

10. Can you tell me a little bit about the second album ‘Wonder’? Is it fair to use the terms Shoegaze and Psychedelic to describe this particular record?

Wonder came out in 1991 on Borderline records in Brighton. The label manager was friends with Gene Clark from the Byrds, and there was talk of him guesting on the lp. But he sadly died that year.

We weren’t consciously trying to get a particular sound. It’s just where the band were at the time. Also we’d changed bass players from Will Taylor (who’d played on the first album) to Tim White, and that affected our sound. We’d become even more fans of 60s psyche at this time, and I was obsessed with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. We weren’t really listening to Shoegaze stuff but a lot of those bands were also into psyche so that’s probably where the similarities may have come in.

11. The 14 Iced Bears reformed in 2010 and then subsequently went on a tour of America. Did the band reform initially just to tour the States?

Yes, we hadn’t even discussed reforming. Tim and I were still friends but we hadn’t seen the other Bears for about 18 years. But then on Facebook, people from the US East Coast started enquiring about us playing, so we thought we’d give it a go.

12. I recently watched ‘Dust Remains Part 1’ on YouTube, in which the band is filmed on tour in New York. Can you tell me a little about the tour of the US, and did the band have an audience that was familiar with the band’s music?

Glad you saw the film – there’s also a Part 2! We weren’t sure what to expect, but our first gig (in Brooklyn) was packed and we seemed to gel really well on stage. People were shouting out for songs and singing along too. People followed us around to Philadelphia and Northampton, MA, some had travelled thousands of miles. We were blown away by the support, and decided then to tour the West Coast, which we did a year later.

13. I have to say that the 14 Iced Bears sounded particularly well from what I seen in that documentary. Why did it take until 2010 for the band to come together again?

We’d just had no plans to. Tim and I had moved back to London. Graham Durrant, the drummer after Emery, was in Brighton, and guitarist Kevin Canham lives in Dorset, so he can’t get to play with us. We’re a three-piece now but we’re genuinely surprised by how we gelled together when we reformed. Think we appreciate it more, and there’s less of the crappy immature baggage to deal with now we’re older. I feel incredibly lucky to be allowed to sing the songs I still love and people are still into it.

14. You were asked on the flight to JFK New York, whether the 14 Iced Bears could have been big and you responded with ‘we will be big’. Do you feel that the band could have had some mainstream success, or did it not really matter?

We wanted success, not necessarily huge mainstream stuff. We never had much money behind us. We were all really poor and on the dole in Brighton and success would have allowed us to do more stuff and get to more people. It was frustrating to see other bands on bigger indie labels getting hyped up when we thought we had better songs. Maybe more people will hear them now!

Web Links:

Tour dates:

London Dublin Castle NW1, September 6th 2013 (CD launch gig)

Link to buy the current Releases:

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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July 3, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Pop Tags:, , ,
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Indie Icons – The Brilliant Corners

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

The Brilliant Corners hailed from Bristol & lasted a decade, 1983-93, the pillar to post members being Davey Woodward (singer/guitarist/writer), Chris Galvin (bass) & Bob Morris (drums). Various members helped complete the line-up along the way, most notably being Winston Forbes (guitar) who was there at the start & Dan Pacini (trumpet). The Brilliant Corners initial sound was something-abilly but with so many prefixes given there isn’t the space to list them here.

01. The Brilliant Corners lasted an impressive decade, with a strong core membership. What would you say kept the core together so well?

We were always a proper gang, when we were not rehearsing we were meeting up to go to gigs, the pub, and to meet girls. What also helped was that I had gone to school with Chris and Dan and Bob had gone to school with Winston. Long standing friendships.

02. You recently reformed to play at the ‘Scared to get Happy’ gig at 229 The Venue, London. How did it go? Did you spot the old faithful in the audience? Did you make any converts?

The gig was great, quite emotional really. Seeing people mouthing the lyrics with big smiles on their faces was really something. There was a real connection with the audience like it was  a special moment. We must have made some converts as there would have been a lot of people at the gig who had never seen us play. But yeah I did see a couple of people from way back.

03. What is your opinion of the current pop scene? What aspect of it are you excited by? What aspect do you dislike?

Theres a huge amount of really good music around, right across the spectrum. I love the way new stuff can remind me of the many things I have heard before and it can still  be really exciting. I still go out and buy a record and play it to death for weeks. Groups like Foxygen or Teleman are joyful. Its also great that my kids say things like ‘ Hey dad you know that band you used to bore us with 10 years ago. They are  number one! ( Daftpunk)’

04. What were your thoughts on the issue of ‘Heart on your Sleeve’? Did you feel it summed the band up sufficiently, captured the band’s live sound?

In a lot of respects for an ‘indie’ band we were quite eclectic and eclecticism can be a real problem when you are trying to get across a feel and mood of a band over a whole album.  I think the album manages this better than any of the other comps. Also there was a lot of stuff I had completely forgotten about so to my ears I listened to it with a lot of freshness and excitement. You can see a lot of thought went into putting it together. I’m very happy with it.

05. How do you feel about new technology? Do you like to keep up with the latest kit, or do you prefer your old, tested equipment? What are your reasons?

Blimey tech question! For me its a bit of a mixture of old and new. You cannot substitute an old valve amp, a classic guitar. or analogue synth. No technology will give you that but what digital recording can give you is the ability to capture that moment, that magic when you create something for the first time. The longer I have been recording the more I realise it  is  the first take that  is usually the best, even if there are mistakes in it, the first 1 or 2 takes captures the magic. Long days in expensive studios with engineers who spend more time on x box than attending to your recordings is not for me. I really like the idea of recording an album under the stairs.

06. How did you arrive at your sound? How much were you affected by your peers and how much by those you admired?

It really was through devouring every little bit of music I listened to and being naive enough to wear those influences on ones sleeve. There was also the struggle between what really is rock n roll? When does loud guitars and leather jackets become predictable and not really rock n roll?  Isn’t a simple chord played with some gusto and heartfelt words the real rock n roll? Also if you think about it too much it becomes contrived and that really is not rock n roll. So guitars should sound a bit raw, unpredictable and just when that gets predictable I want the sounds to be sweet, lush and melodic. Then one should ask the question why even be rock n roll be pop! But what is  pop music? Define pop music ?  Throwaway catchy, trivial, daft, popular! Yes but, but, but. This is  what was going on and is still going on.

In many ways my peers were what ever I was listening too at the time and a lot of that was old stuff like the Velvets and Dylan. I guess the biggest contemporary influence on us that endured were Postcard Records, you can hear that influence on lots of the songs over the bands lifetime.

07. Which musicians/bands/singers did you admire when you were first playing? Why? How far do you feel they influenced you?

This could be a very long list,  mmm lets see if I can do this in chronological order; In the early days, The Clash, Joy Division, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Jam, Orange Juice, Josef K, The Cramps, The Go Betweens. They looked great, the words were interesting, some of the sounds were revolutionary, great tunes, great hairstyles, there was a link to the old stuff too which I liked.

08. How do you feel The Brilliant Corners would fit into the current pop scene? Do you feel you have any younger kindred spirits? Who are they?

Well the pop scene of KISS FM not very well at all.  6 Music we would slot in quite easily. We probably do have some kindred spirits but I would not like to ruin their careers by making comparisons with us!

09. What’s your world like? Books? Films? TV shows? Pastimes? Why are they important to you?

When I was young I devoured it all. Russian classics, contempory Brits, Modern American literature, painters too, it was all there , up to the brim. Sad to say that all those pastimes are no longer available to me. All my kids take up my time, so apart from my continuing love affair with music, there is only football and my trusty bicycle.

10. Who would you say has inspired you the most, and why?

Well apart from all those people in bands it would be writers and artists I came upon in my early teens and twenties. Oh and the ever expanding Cosmos.

11. Who do you wish had never been born, and what do you wish had never been invented? Why?

Any figure who has managed to get people to hate and kill. I wish the  Alphabet was never invented. I still cant get the alphabet and so many things are ordered alphabetically I just wish there was another way. I once worked in a record shop for a day, could I find anything? I was hopeless. It was very embarrassing.

12. Do you feel you’d like to reform on a permanent/semi-permanent basis? How would that work?

The plan is for us to do reunion gigs between  June 2013 to June 2014. So we will be available for the Pyramid Stage as our final gig. Actually a  small stage near the cider tent will suffice.

13. What does the future hold for The Brilliant Corners?

A few dates here and there , maybe a few more people discovering or rediscovering us. Having a damn good time.

14. Who is the best Footballer of all time?

That’s easy George Best.

Web Links:

Tour Dates:

Indie Tracks – 27/07/13,
Berlin, Pop Fest  – 05/10/13
Bristol, The Exchange  – 02/11/13
Davey Woodward Solo gig,  Bristol, The Exchange  – 18/08/13
The Experimental Pop Band, Bristol, The Exchange  – 07/09/13

Link to buy the current Releases

All releases at Wear it Well Records and Cherry Red Records


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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July 3, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Pop Tags:, , ,
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Indie Icons – June Brides

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

During their brief recording career, from 1984 to 1986, the June Brides were among the most important independent pop groups in their native UK. Based in South London, the band released 4 singles and one LP, “There are 8 Million Stories”, which stayed at the top of the UK independent album chart for a month. The band did sessions for BBC Radio 1, including one for the legendary John Peel which was later released by Strange Fruit records. The band also featured on the front cover of the NME – the June Brides being the first independent pop group to have been given such a cover. In 1985 Morrisey named the band as his favourite group and they supported the Smiths on their 1986 tour of Ireland. They also played with the Go-Betweens, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Mekons, Alternative TV, The Television Personalities and The Wedding Present.

Following the band’s split in 1986 (due to persistent record label problems and internal fractures), singer-songwriter Phil Wilson signed as a solo artist to Creation records (the home of many influential British artists, such Primal Scream, Oasis and My Bloody Valentine). Phil released two singles on Creation, and one further single on the Caff label (run by Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne). The solo singles marked a change in sound from The June Brides. “Waiting for a Change”, for example was a precursor of what later became known as “Alternative Country”. However, whilst garnering critical acclaim, the records were probably too radical a change for his June Brides fans, and failed to sell. Phil returned to making music in 2007 after a 20 year break. He released the “God Bless Jim Kennedy” album in 2010, which received terrific reviews in Uncut, Mojo and the Daily Mirror. The band decided in 2012 that it could be time to think about playing together again…

01. Tell us how you got that name?

I wanted a name that didn’t suggest a type of music. “The June Brides” could sound like anything! I liked that idea…

02. When did the June Brides come into existence?

As a joke band called International Rescue in 1982 – but with more serious intent as the renamed “June Brides” in 1983.

 03. You and other members of the June Brides come from South East London. What was this part of London like in the 1980s?

Grim! But it had a vibrant music scene, and housing could be found dirt cheap. Several of the band lived together, and rehearsed, in a house in Lewisham. We played our first concerts in local pubs, and with the local Performance Collective.

04. When did you first meet Alan McGee and what was it like playing at his club night ‘The Living Room?

I met Alan when he was running a club before the Living Room – I went to see the Television Personalities play there. It was very sparsely attended night, so it wasn’t difficult to get to meet he few people there! I bought Alan’s fanzine “Communication Blur” from him that night, and sent a (really poor) demo tape to him at the address in the fanzine. He asked us to play his new club “The Living Room” soon after that.

Playing for Alan was usually great fun – there were always too many people packed into small rooms above pubs. He paid us a pittance! But used the money from ours and other nights to finance early Creation releases.

05. The June Brides only album ‘There Are Eight Million Stories’ went to number 1 in the Independent Album Charts in 1985. Why did the band split the following year considering the success of the album?

We’d moved to a new Record label (InTape) and moved on soundwise. Our following singles (“No Place Called Home” and “This Town”) had moved on from the more jangly, scratchy sound of the album. But they weren’t as popular with the public. We decided to split up as we’d achieved far more than we ever set out to do. It just felt right to stop.

06.The band also had famous fans including Morrissey, and the June Brides even went on tour with ‘The Smiths’. Any recollections or standout moments from that tour?

It was really exciting to see The Smiths in their prime, but, at the same time, it kind of put me off the whole idea of becoming a pop star! They were on a tight schedule constantly, and it looked like they were having no fun whatsoever. Playing with them as another small part of why we broke up…

07.Many have referred to the June Brides as innovators of ‘Jangly’ Indie music. Do you feel flattered by these plaudits?

I feel extremely happy to still be mentioned by people in bands who’ve mentioned us as an influence – that’s the most important thing for me. We, of course, didn’t invent anything, but merely adapted lots of things that were already there.

08. Is it true that the June Brides refused to be on the C86 tape because you did not want to be ‘pidgeonholed’?

Yes! We thought we’d get wrapped up in some sort of spurious “C86” jangly-pop movement. Which is exactly what happened, anyway, so it was a big mistake on our part!

09. How do you feel about the June Brides inclusion on Cherry Red Records ‘Scared To Get Happy’ box set? It could be argued (although not by me) that the June Brides could be ‘pidgeonholed’ by being on this particular compilation?

See above! I actually played a small part in getting the compilation together, and am proud to be on there. We will forever be pigeonholed as part of the C86/Indiepop scene, so staying off it would probably have made no difference. And I think it would have been foolhardy, and possibly a bit churlish, to have done so! And I really don’t now mind, if I could now be pigeonholed alongside the Wild Swans and The Fire Engines.

10. What inspired your songwriting in the June Brides and did you already have the songs written before presenting them to the rest of the band?

Inadequacy! I felt I wasn’t very good, so was inspired to try and make the songs better and better. Whether I succeeded is entirely another question. I did present songs just about finished to the band. Very little changed in the arrangements, other than the addition of individual parts by the band members.

11. You released a solo album [single – not an album] appropriately titled ‘Waiting for A Change’, which saw you follow a more ‘country’ influenced sound? Have you always been a fan of country music? Who were the musicians on this record?

My father (who had split up from my mother when I was very young) re-appeared in my life when I was about 10, and he was a country singer in the Northern Working Men’s’ clubs. He introduced me to the joys of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Hank Williams at that age, and I’ve loved good country since (and that does exclude an awful lot of bland Nashville nonsense). I liked the idea of surprising the press, and the Junies fans, by doing a country flavoured song. But it was a very poorly received (and selling!) record. I still lie it, though!

The band on it are The Triffids, plus the 76 year old (and since deceased) steel guitar player from my Dad’s band. It was his first, and last, time in a recording studio and he absolutely loved it.

12. Who would you say has been the biggest influence on you musically?

Probably a couple: the Velvet Underground and Hank Williams. They both had the supreme gift of being able to use simple chords and words to create complex songs. It’s what I aspire to, but have seldom achieved.

13. How did the June Brides eventually get back together?

Naturally, which is the best way! I had been playing with a new bassist and drummer (Arash Torabi and Andy Fonda, since replaced by Steve Beswick), and playing as “Phil Wilson” rather than as the “June Brides”. I was under pressure to use the old band name, but refused as it would not have been fair to them. However, in the intervening years, Frank Sweeney (Viola), Jon Hunter (trumpet) and Simon Beesley (Guitar) from the old band gradually started to play with us. When the line-up was complete again, it felt natural and right to go back to the original name.

14. The June Brides played the Cherry Red Records ‘Scared To Get Happy’ album launch night. Is this much need reappraisal to what many consider ‘under-appreciated’ music?

It felt more like a celebration on the night. Indiepop has never really gone away, it’s just looked poorly on occasion! It continues to be regarded well by small numbers of young musicians around the World. I think it will continue to operate on that sort of level, with the very occasional act breaking through. But that’s enough for me.

15. What does the future hold for the June Brides and yourself? Can we expected new music from the band and do you have any more plans for further solo releases?

The June Brides plan to do an album. But we don’t want to rush into it – it’s been 28 years since the last one, so there’s no real need to do so. Maybe next year or the year after? Time will tell…

Web Links:

Tour dates:

November 28: Glasgow
November 29: Dundee
November 30: Aberdeen

Records available @:


Photographs by: Heimo Reifetshammer, Nigel King & 2 unknown.

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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July 20, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Indie Icons – BMX Bandits

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

BMX Bandits a band which has been writing, since 1985, one of the most exciting pages of both Scottish, Anglo-Saxon, and therefore universal pop. And that’s easy to prove: from this seminal band from Bellshill, formed around the charming singer and leader Duglas T. Stewart, came out the seeds which would form such important bands as Teenage Fanclub, Eugenius,The Soup Dragons and  many many more.

01. Can you tell me a little bit about how the BMX Bandits came into existence?

I had a group with Frances McKee (The Vaselines), Sean Dickson (The Soup Dragons), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and some other friends called The Pretty Flowers. When that group ended because Frances left to form The Vaselines with Eugene I was left with a bunch of songs. Sean encouraged me that I should record them and offered to help me. We recruited some friends who we’d met busking in Glasgow and BMX Bandits was formed.

02. What was the music scene like in Bellshill and Glasgow in the 1980s? Was there an identifiable Indie scene at this time?

In Bellshill the dominant “alternative” scene seemed to be based around anarchist punk bands very much influenced by Crass but sounding closer to bad Siouxsie and The Banshees without Siouxsie. There was lots of wearing black, smoking drugs and drinking buck fast tonic wine involved in that scene, it really wasn’t my sort of thing.

In Glasgow we found more like minded people, people who had wider musical tastes and had ambition to be creative and make things happen. We were very much the minority, outsiders and when we played main stream venues groups like BMX Bandits, The Vaselines and The Pastels weren’t always given a warm reception. People started putting on their own clubs and happenings where we could grow stronger together, offer each other support and exchange ideas.

 03. The BMX Bandits have shared band members of Teenage Fanclub and the Soup Dragons. Did these bands have any influence on your sound or vice versa perhaps?

I don’t think the three groups really influenced each other but I have no doubt that Sean, Norman and I meeting each other had a massive influence on what we all ended up doing. We all had tastes that we shared but we’re all quite different people and so the three bands have always had their own strong individual identities. Of course with Teenage Fanclub there’s also Gerry and Raymond in the mix there. I can’t imagine Raymond listens to BMX Bandits records.

04. What was Bellshill and Glasgow like in the 1980s? Did these places inspire the songs and music of the BMX Bandits?

They were rough and depressed places mostly but I think very often artists find themselves dissatisfied with the reality they are living in and so citrate their own alternative realities through their art. Bellshill and Glasgow as places never influenced or entered my songs or music.

05. What inspired you to be in a band in the first place?

In 1977 I bought an album called ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll with The Modern Lovers’ by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and it made me think that I’d like to do that. Around five years later Frances McKee said to me she wanted to be in a group and so I decided to form a group. It seemed a good way to spend more time in her company.

06. What bands were you influenced by at the time of the BMX Bandits formation?

Television Personalities, Jonathan Richman, Swell Maps, Orange Juice, The Pastels, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk, The Slits, The Ramones, The Shangri-Las, Burt Bacharach & Hal David. I was also a fan of soundtrack music by people like Ennio Morricone and John Barry and old songs from musicals and classic Disney films.

07. Can you name maybe 2 or 3 of your all time favourite albums?

The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Love You. I love Pet Sounds but my favourite album by them is ‘Love You’. At first the songs sound childlike and almost primitive but of course musically they are incredibly brilliant and sophisticated. I love that combination of naivety and sophistication.

Paul Williams: Someday Man. Paul Williams & Roger Nichols co-wrote some great songs for people like The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun, Rainy Days & Mondays) and this album shows off their incredible songwriting talent, along with great arrangements by Nichols and wonderful emotive lead vocals from Williams. It’s full of musical twist and turns, killer melodies and lyrics that go deep.

Ennio Morricone: Giu La Testa. Ennio Morricone is my favourite movie composer and this is my favourite score by him. When I write music I tend to often think of it in quite cinematic terms. We learned a lot about arrangement from Morricone.

08.The song ‘Serious Drugs’ appears to be an autobiographical song, is this true to some extent?

It’s completely autobiographical. I was in a new relationship and the girl I was seeing discovered I was taking antidepressants. She said to me “You don’t need those to make you feel better. My love will make you feel better.” Cut to a month or so later and she was saying “I think you need some stronger tablets”.

09. What was it like being signed to Creation Records? Did you have a good relationship with Alan McGee?

We had a great relationship with Alan (and I still do). He was incredibly supportive and trusted us as artists. He still says Serious Drugs is one of the top 10 tracks the label ever released. Alan really let us make the records we wanted to make at that time.

10. The BMX Bandits have a considerable back catalogue. Which BMX Bandits album are you most proud of?

The two I’m most proud of equally are the two that I feel we 100% and more achieved what we set out to do with them. I like all of our albums but on all the others there are at least a couple of things that didn’t turn out as great as I imagined that they would or that I think were mistakes. So my top two equal favourites are ‘My Chain’ and ‘BMX Bandits in Space’.

11. In general terms what do you think of music currently? Are there any bands around now that you like and feel they should be getting more attention?

I think there’s lots of great music out there. I think it can be harder to find because there are so many groups and so much music so readily available. My favourite group in the world are Tenniscoats from Tokyo. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them and their attitude to making music is so fresh, so pure and inspiring. Norman recently toured with them in Japan and came home saying they were his favourite new group.

In Scotland there’s Randolph’s Leap who I think deserve to and could cross over to a much bigger audience, the way Dexys Midnight Runners and Madness did in the 1980s. Newer acts I love include TeenCanteen, Sacred Paws and a singer/musician/composer called Adam Stearns.

Last week I bought a great single called ‘Call Me in the Day’ by a group called La Luz from Seattle.

People say that they’re bored with music and there’s nothing good, well they should stop reading the NME and watching the X Factor and look a bit deeper for the good stuff.

12. In The BMX Bandits documentary, Alan McGee said that selling millions of records does not make a band like U2 any more relevant than the BMX Bandits. Do you think he has a valid point?

Well The Velvet Underground and Big Star didn’t sell many records at the time but they are way more influential than many artists who have sold in the millions. I think Bono would agree that the relevance of a group can not be measured in units sold.

13. Did having Kurt Cobain as a fan of the BMX Bandits flatter you or any of the other members of the band? Did you find his interest might have brought more attention to the band?

It always nice to hear a fellow musician (or anyone) likes your band. Kurt was slightly younger than us. He was from the next generation of groups from us and so when I heard he liked the group it was nice but it wasn’t mind-blowing. When Jonathan Richman said he loved our version of one of his songs or when I walked into a Big Star soundcheck and Alex Chilton started playing our song ‘Disco Girl’ that was mind-blowing.

I don’t know if Kurt saying in a radio interview that if he could be in any other band it would be BMX Bandits or him wearing one of our T shirts really resulted in any more sales but I think it helped us get a few journalists to consider writing about us.

14. I saw the BMX Bandits play at the ‘Scared To Get Happy’ album launch night and I really enjoyed the gig. Don’t suppose there is any chance of the BMX Bandits playing in London anytime soon?

There is nothing planned just now but keep on the look out for news.

Web Links:

Link to buy singles:

Screening of BMX Bandits movie documentary ‘Serious Drugs’ at The Social in London August 3rd 2013

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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July 20, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Indie Icons – Mighty Mighty

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Mighty Mighty was formed in Birmingham, England, in 1986 by Hugh Harkin (vocals, harmonica), Mick Geoghegan (guitar), Peter Geoghegan (organ, guitar), Russell Burton (bass), and David Hennessey (drums). They made their debut at the NME/ICA Rock Week concerts and were even included on a C-86 cassette compilation. Mighty Mighty released their first single, “Everybody Knows the Monkey,” in 1986. Often compared to Orange Juice, Mighty Mighty only recorded one LP, 1988’s Sharks, before splitting up. The band’s jangly singles and B-sides were collected on The Girlie Years, the title referring to the name of the group’s own label. Vinyl Japan also released Mighty Mighty’s BBC sessions in 2001.

01. How did Mighty Mighty come into existence?

My brother Mick had a band called Domestos. He played bass and Hugh joined playing percussion and backing vocals. This was early 1980’s. When Domestos split, Mick and Hugh stayed together, bound by a vision to write great pop songs. The line-up took a little while to come together but Mighty Mighty played their first gig in late ’83. I joined in 1985. The keyboard/sax player left for university. I knew Mick was looking for another keyboard player, something to flesh out the sound and not become just another guitar band. I’d been playing guitar for a few years but I could play a little piano too. I said “If I buy a keyboard, can I join the band?” He said yes.

02. What was Birmingham like to grow up in, and is where you come from reflected in the music and lyrics of Mighty Mighty?

Birmingham was a great place to grow up. It seems a lot bigger when I go back to visit now but I guess it is. As a kid your world is a small place. Mick writes from experience and observation so the city is in there. There are no blatant references to places but that gives the songs universal appeal. It’s just that they inhabit quite a small universe. It is expanding though. If C86 was the big bang then our light is still travelling out. We just travel at a slightly different speed of light. If you want Birmingham in song then try Stephen Duffy. He does it really well.

03. What was the music scene like in Birmingham in the 1980s?

It was good. Historically, it never had an explosive scene like the Mersey sound and it is somewhat overlooked but I think it’s been consistently strong. We were watching and playing with bands like The Au Pairs, The Nightingales, The Sea Urchins, Napalm Death, Bogshed, Dogfood, The Atom Spies, Rumblefish. No two bands were alike. I was saying to Russell the other day that it’s almost as though Birmingham wasn’t big enough for two bands of the same genre. What unifies them all is the brummie self-deprecating humour. Maybe it’s a second city mentality. We know we’re underdogs but there’s no chip on the shoulder. For the indie and unsigned bands back in the 80’s, Dave Travis was central to what was going on. He seemed to promote every other gig we played or went to. He really championed the talent in the city. He was tireless. A great guy.

04. What inspired you to be in a band in the first place?

It was my brother. He brought a guitar into the house and said he was going to learn to play and start a band. He started pretty late really. I think maybe he was 20. It was punk that inspired him. We’re not a musical family but I have three older brothers and there were new records coming into the house all the time. Zepplin, Dylan, Neil Young, Procol Harum, The Who, The Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Stevie Wonder, Springsteen.

05. What music are you currently listening to?

I love Nada Surf. I’ve got my ticket to see Matthew play in October. Can’t wait. He’s a great songwriter and they’re such a good band. 6 Music is on in the house much of the time so I get to hear new stuff. Unknown Mortal Orchestra are great. I don’t use Spotify or anything like that. I’m still very much rooted in the 20th century. Dylan, early R.E.M, Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time, Townes Van Zandt, Bonnie Prince Billy, Elliott Smith, The Go-Betweens, The Flaming Lips. There’s a lot of soul, funk and jazz in our house too. And lots and lots of Steely Dan.

06. What do you consider to be your favourite album of all time?

Harvest by Neil Young. I remember when Mick bought it back in the 70’s. I fell in love with it straight away. Everything about it. The mix of acoustic, electric and orchestral. It’s perfect and seems so natural. You really need it on vinyl too. The sleeve is beautiful. You pick it up and it’s warm and golden.

07. Who were your musical heroes when Mighty Mighty was formed?

I think I’ve mentioned some of them already. The Smiths, R.E.M. The Bunnymen, The Doors, Dylan. A lot of the stuff I listened to back then was from the 60’s. American garage punk. When I was still at school I used to go to The Outrigger to arguably the best Mod night in the country. Nothing after 1969 was played. When I left school at 16 I became a regular at Sensateria which was an amazing 60’s psychedelic night. But stuff you could dance to. Stooges, Syd Barrett era Floyd, Love, Doors.

08. What bands were Mighty Mighty influenced by? I have heard The Smiths and Orange Juice influences being bandied about. Is this a fair assessment or just lazy journalism?

Sometimes it’s lazy but these were bands that shared the same circumstances and influences as us. We never tried to sound like them. We played guitars and that is Hugh’s voice. That’s what he sounds like when he speaks. Mick was always a bigger fan of Joseph K but equally if not more so, his songs were influenced by Billie Holiday and Al Green. Hugh was and is a soul boy, H, perhaps more punk and folk and Russell spent his time at Sheffield University playing his bass along to This Year’s Model.

09. Mighty Mighty’s song ‘Law’ features on the NME’s C86 tape. Was this tape truly representative of what was going on in Indie music at the time?

I think so, yes. It’s at times written off as simply a vehicle for “shambling” acts but it’s more than that. Stump are every bit as much a C86 band as The Bodines but C86 has become a label, even a genre which narrows it down a little too much really. It may not represent everything that was happening in the UK at the time but it did a pretty good job. We’re still talking about it now.

10. I really like the organ sound in the band. Especially on ‘Everybody knows a monkey’. What kind of organ did you use and was the keyboards always your preferred instrument?

Thanks. That’s my Vox Continental. It’s still with me but needs some attention. It’s even older than me. Also, moving around over the last ten years or so, I’ve managed to lose it’s Z-frame stand. If there’s anyone out there who can help, I’m sure we can come to some arrangement. Primarily I’m a guitarist but I’m playing more keys these days now we have a battered old piano in the house. I also picked up a Casio MT 46 a while ago for a tenner which I love. I bought an Edwardian autoharp yesterday, again for £10. Fixing that up will be my next project. I love musical instruments. Anything I think I might be able to get a tune out of. I draw the line at brass and woodwind though. I’ve got a few guitars. Some would say too many, but they don’t understand.

11. In a prolific 2 year period Mighty Mighty recorded an album and several singles. Why did this all come to an end with the demise of the band in 1988?

Our deal with Chapter 22 expired and Hugh wanted to do something else. With hindsight I think we should have gone back to releasing on our own label and asked Hugh to stay. It’s easy to say now though. 1987 and ’88 weren’t the best of years on a personal level for some of us in the band. That contributed to it I’m sure. We always thought of ourselves as a pop group though and perhaps we remained true to that ethic by calling it a day. That is pop. It is at the same time something precious but also something throwaway.

12. What inspired Mighty Mighty to reform in 2009?

Indietracks asked us to play. The following summer Uwe from Firestation Records asked us to play the Berlin Popfest. Two really fun gigs. We never really reformed. If we’re asked to play a gig and we like the sound of it, we’ll do our best. Mick is my brother and Russell is my best friend so we’ve never lost touch with each other. Even when the band split we would come together for a Christmas meal. Working with Cherry Red and Firestation means we’re busier with Mighty Mighty business now than we have been for a long time. It’s all good.

13. Cherry Red Records recently released ‘Pop Can: The Definitive Collection 1986-88’. Do you think this release has brought renewed interest in the band?

Yeah. Having that body of work together on two CD’s has surprised some people. Us included! We have a global audience now. Small, but international.

14. I saw Mighty Mighty perform recently at the Cherry Red Records, ‘Scared To Get Happy’ album launch. I thought the band was very well received with many in the audience singing along to every song. How did you feel about the band’s performance and reception?

It was brilliant. We loved it. We met some wonderful people that night. Old friends and we made some new ones. John Reed’s talking about maybe doing another night. Manchester perhaps.

15. Will Mighty Mighty be playing any gigs soon? Preferably in London as I would certainly like to see the band play again.

There’s nothing planned as yet I’m afraid. Maybe next year. We’re always open to offers though.

16. Finally, Do Mighty Mighty have any plans to make new music?

We’ve talked about it a little. I’d love to. We’re scattered about the country now so it would mean working a little differently to how we did in the past but it could be done. I have some songs that would work well as Mighty Mighty tunes. I know Mick has some. There are a few we used to play that never got recorded at the time. There’s certainly an audience out there and there are people who work hard getting CD’s and vinyl out there so it could happen. Russell and I also play in a band called The Leaking Machine. Our friend Spencer Roberts plays drums. It would be great to hear new Mighty Mighty stuff though. I’m curious!

Web Links:

Link to buy singles:

Pop Can! Available on iTunes from 5th Aug

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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July 20, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Indie Icons – The Primitives

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Fronted by indiepop blonde bombshell Tracy Tracy, The Primitives emerged from the independent scene of the mid-80s that spawned The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present and Primal Scream. Their sound distilled the shimmering guitar jangle of the Byrds, the buzzsaw style of The Ramones and 60’s girl group melodies into two and a half minute pop gems. Regular session guests on John Peel’s radio show, with many an appearance in his Festive Fifty, their career was boosted/hindered when Morrissey named them as one of his favourite bands.

A widely acclaimed first album, Lovely, made them the UK’s indie darlings, while the huge success of the single ‘Crash’ saw them cross over to a mass audience. Further chart success followed, along with two more studio albums, Pure and Galore, plus extensive tours of Europe and the US, before the band called it a day in 1992. Guitarist Paul Court and drummer Tig Williams continued to work together on various musical projects throughout most of 1990s, while Tracy contributed vocals to Band of Holy Joy amongst others, and also recorded with several outfits working in the dance music field. In 2008, Mojo Magazine voted the Primitives’ second single ‘Really Stupid’ one of the Top 40 UK indie singles of all time.

The band were reunited in 2009 by the untimely passing of their original bass player Steve Dullaghan, (RIP) reforming to play a show in his memory later that year in their home town of Coventry; their first show together for 17 years. Bolstered by its success they went on to tour the UK in April 2010, receiving a rapturous response, followed by a headline slot at the Indietracks festival and shows in the US and Europe.

In 2011 the Primitives released the Never Kill A Secret EP through Fortuna Pop! The record featured two brand new songs and two covers of semi obscure female fronted songs. The two covers were a precursor to their latest album Echoes and Rhymes, released on Elefant records in 2012. They found time to speak to recently…

01. You’ve had few line-up changes in your history. What would you say kept you together so well?

Probably the fact that no one is interested in any music we’ve done separately, so if we’re going to be involved with making music then it seems it can only be The Primitives. plus we’ve never fallen out much.

02. You’re currently touring with a re-release of ‘Lovely’ to promote. How is the tour going? Are the audience basically your ‘old faithfuls’ or are there many new faces in there?

The Lovely tour starts September 21st, but yes we have a mixed range audience. Some very dedicated fans from the first time round and some new ones too.

03. What is your opinion of the current pop scene? What aspect of it are you excited by? What aspect do you dislike?

There’s always something to like, because there is so much out there and so much more is accessible. There’s a lot of that clueless Topman ‘indie’ stuff about too.  I don’t know their names, because I’m not interested in them.

04. What are your thoughts on the reissue of ‘Lovely’, particularly the bonus tracks? Are you pleased to see them out again? Do you think any are closer to the sound you started with?

We were never totally happy with the album, because as I’ve said before, it was kind of thrown together with stuff we’d recorded mainly throughout 1987, so it felt more like a compilation album. Hearing it in 2013 I can appreciate it for what it is. I still have niggles about bits of it and I’m not sure if some of the versions of the songs are the best, but there’s plenty to like. I don’t think it’s ever boring, which would be the worst thing.

The bonus tracks are fine. They’re mainly B sides and it’s nice that ‘Things Get In Your Way’ has been made available again, coz it’s a good little song and we only ever did that live in the studio version, which was buried away on a ‘Crash’ b side. You also get ‘Way Behind Me’ which is in a similar style to ‘Crash’ but possibly better. It was originally on our 2nd album Pure, but ended up on the US release of Lovely as it was released later the same year as Lovely. Beat version of ‘All The Way Down’ is also a big favourite.

05. Did you have mixed feelings about any of them? Which ones and why?

The live tracks maybe. They were recorded with a couple of mics out in the audience and don’t sound so good, but then again I guess they capture the atmosphere like a better recorded version of an old bootleg cassette

06. Are you writing any new material? If so, are you at the demo stage or studio recording?

Yes we’ve been in the studio recording new stuff… possibly for an album, for release early next year.

07. How has the appearance of new technology affected you? Do you like to keep up with the latest kit, or do you prefer your old, tested equipment? What are your reasons?

We use modern recording techniques with vintage gear, because that’s what is available to us and we were happy with the overall sound of our covers album ‘Echoes & Rhymes’ which we recorded in 2011 in this way.

08. How did you arrive at your sound? How much were you affected by your peers and how much by those you admired?

We originally sounded like The Birthday Party, The Gun Club and The Cramps. When Tracy joined we realised she probably wasn’t going to be into shrieking into the monitors with her top off, so a few pop songs were quickly written, almost in a mocking way at first i.e we’ve got a pretty little girl fronting the band, let’s sing about flowers and stuff. But we kept our original racket and I guess we were looking towards that Marychain nice songs with noise thing.

09. Which musicians/bands/singers did you admire when you were first playing? Why? How far do you feel they influenced you?

Bo Diddley, Rowland S Howard, Velvets, The Cramps, The Fall… it’s really just about the approach and attitude. When I was 15 and trying to learn to play guitar I wasn’t interested in being able to play ‘Purple Haze’, I wanted to just put D and G together and play ‘Waiting For The Man’ or play that Bo Diddley rhythm.

10. How do you feel The Primitives fit into the current pop scene? Do you feel you have younger kindred spirits? Who are they?

I don’t think we fit in at all. I’m sure there are some modern bands with affinities to the Prims… l’ll check Last FM and get back to you.

11. What’s your world like? Books? Films? TV shows? Pastimes? Why are they so vital or important to you?

Nuts In May
Vision On
Planet Of The Apes
Svankmajer’s Alice
Poor Cow
Night Of The Hunter
Comet In Moominland
Blue Jam
Dog Day Afternoon
Midnight Cowboy
Buffalo 66
Memoirs Of A Sword Swallower
The Wicker Man
The Thing
Dead Man’s Shoes
The Fan Man
Sexy Beast

Just some stuff I like that helps displace stuff I don’t.

12. Who would you say has inspired you the most, and why?

I think I would have to say The Velvet Underground. I started listening to them when I was 14 and I thought I was the only person in the world that knew about them. They felt like a secret friend for a couple of years, until I met other people who listened to them too. They’re more or less a household name these days, but they still represent a sort of benchmark for the other stuff…the hidden away stuff.

13. Who do you wish had never been born, and what do you wish had never been invented?

I’ll go for everyone’s favourite mass murdering christian hypocrite Tony Blair, for the obvious reasons and for setting the precedent that anyone trying to become PM these days has to have the demeanor of a particularly cheesy after dinner speaker at a gorgonzola convention. I wish the bidet to be uninvented – they’re supposed to be posh, but really they’re just little monuments to a certain human bum function problem, right there staring you in the face in the bathroom. Why not just have a hydraulic sink?

14. How do you see The Primitives developing over the next year or so? Will you embrace change? Will you stick to the template? A middle course?

We will go backwards, while looking sideways at the future.

Web Links
Offical Site:

Tour dates
Sept 2013
21 Bath Moles
22 Glasgow King Tut’s
23 Edinburgh Electric Circus
24 Manchester Sound Control
25 Leeds Brudenell
26 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms
27 Southend Chinnerys
28 London 100 Club

Link to buy the current Releases


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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August 29, 2015 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Icons Indie Interviews Picks 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.




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:,