Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tim Ten Yen

If you note the live review here, I hope I’ve made it clear that I took rather an instant shine to Tim Ten Yen, a solo artist in a very real way, well, unless you consider the contributions of his stuffed sidekick, the Sinister Cat. An utterly beguiling gentleman, in performance, in his tunes (check out his MySpace site and do BUY HIS RECORDS!!!) and in interview. As you will see.

>Please introduce yourself. What qualities do you think you bring to the world of music?
Hello, my name is Tim Ten Yen. I bring a bar of gold I didn't steal to the world of music.

>What motivates you to make music?
I want to make people genuinely happy. Happy music is the absolute hardest music in the world to write. I genuinely dedicate my life to it until I die.

>For someone exploring Tim Ten Yen for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?
What I do is completely sincere. I'm sorry!

>What are the advantages of performing solo? Do you notice differences in the audience responses to the lack of on-stage instrumentation?
I like to keep everything very minimal. I feel my songs should come across without any gimicks. For this reason I like having no band, as I know if it's just me singing my songs, and I get to the end of show having taken people somewhere different (and hopefully better!) than they were at the beginning, then the songs are okay. It is all about the songs.

>What inspires you musically?
I love cars going past with their windows down and their music streaming out, blending with road drills. And even if a song isn't about girls, it's normally better if they're in the picture. I don't know what it is. They're like the moon.

>Do you plan to collaborate with others?
I wouldn't necessarily plan to collaborate as such, though I would like to write songs for people.

>Any ideal collaborators?
I'd love to write a song for Bjork. I think she's an amazing and beautiful singer, but I think she needs to make a really great pop record. Her voice is so other worldly, and even more so when she is singing normally and playing it straight, which she rarely ever does. I think a lot of the time she sounds dangerously like a female version of Bono, where she goes soft.....then lets rip with a lot of histrionics in her high range. I don't think she needs to do this. Though she's an internationally successful singer and I'm only Tim Ten Yen, so I am probably wrong!

>On an TTY curated festival bill, who else would play?
Hmmm.... good question! I would say I'd decline to curate a festival like this! I like to keep my cards quite close to my chest as far as who my influences are. Not from being secretive, but because I feel such a personal attachment to music and bands/artists that I love, I don't really like them being out there in the public domain. I like hinting at stuff, but I think a festival with my name on it might give me a nervous breakdown! I'd love to support R.E.M. though, if they ever did a show with Bill Berry back behind the drums. Somewhere like the Astoria! With Simon and Garfunkel doing an unannounced 5 or 6 songs before R.E.M. came on. And compered by Gene Hackman.

>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.
I had a musical epiphany ages ago when I saw Moby live at a festival. It was back in the day when he'd not long released his punk album “Animal Rights”. Having a live punk band playing along to minidiscs of his early house tracks and him just screaming over the top just flattened so many misconceptions I had about what you have to do to play live. Although I do nothing like this, I owe him, somehow!

>What other future plans do you have for gigs and recordings?
My debut single “Girl Number One” will be out on 26th March, and there should be some live shows around that to that we're just confirming as we speak.

>What do you consider your best achievements in music?
Playing Reading Festival, having been to my friend's wedding earlier in the day. It rained half an hour before my set so I had a tent with 2000 sheltering people to play to. Thank you rain!

>What are your ambitions?
To play live on the moon, or at least in space over the Pacific Ocean.

>What does ‘success’ mean to you?
Success means writing a song, performing it and it going just the way you hoped!

>What makes you cry?
If I hurt somebody and don't mean to.

>What makes you smile?
Dogs in parks running around and disappointing their posh owners by just being dogs and doing what dogs like to do. And dogs generally running after sticks. Amazing.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?
Any Man, Woman, Girl or Boy, looking over their shoulder rather than being themselves.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?
The “Don't turn around – just walk away!” chorus of the Long Blondes 'Femme Fatal' record that's getting a lot of air play, particularly near the end when they loop it round a few more times. I always get up turn it up and have a dance to that each time it comes on.

>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? Why so?
Still LPs, because you get a whole package to hold and pore over while you're listening to the record.
I love downloads for the spontaneity of being able to hear a track and then own it within a couple of minutes. I think that's superb and justifies their existence completely. And I love singles for the way you buy them and play them over and over and over again. But LPs still win.

>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?
I absolutely love sleeping, I love to dream, I have epic dreams in far off places that are also familiar, and I get to fly. Having a good dream, getting up, going for breakfast, and seeing a beautiful girl I'd never have a cat's chance in hell with is just.....yes. It's why I can't drink much – if I drink I then don't dream properly. Which is a big shame, as I love lager beer.

>What is/was your favourite book, and why?
Bad City Blues and the follow up...which I can't remember the title of, by Tim Willocks. Completely accessible, but utterly beautiful, a bit horrible, and inspiring.

>Any other words of wisdom for VP readers?
Just give them a quick call, then it's done.

Los Campesinos

Ben Woolhead asked the question of Tom and Gareth who play within the highly-rated Cardiff based band Los Campesinos. They appear, alongside Gindrinker, on the 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The 22 Of Us' compilation, which is reviewed here.

>Who or what inspires you?

Tom: Musically it's the usual lot we answer, Pavement, Broken Social Scene, Yo La Tengo, Wolf Parade et al, and though we (I don't think) sound like a lot of them, I guess it's more a case of applying a lot of things we like about those bands to a pop framework... sorry, easy to slip into pretentious answers when we talk about things like inspiration...

Gareth: Lyrically I like a lot of “trail of thought” type lyricists, that steer away from broad phrases that capture general feelings and focus on the specifics. People like Aidan Moffat and Owen Ashworth and Darren Hayman that tell stories that aren’t about their clothes. Also the constant feeling of mild annoyance that rests in the pit of my belly. And how every film I watch disappoints me. At the moment anyway.

>You started out from a core of three and gradually acquired more members. What made you stop at seven?

Tom: I'm not sure we have stopped yet, although it's not a free-for-all... but I guess it just felt like the songs we had demanded a number of parts, and so kept on adding. I like the idea of playing fairly simple songs and just building lots of parts around them, but it also gives us a lot of potential to create a variety of sounds hopefully... I'd be quite keen to get some brass involved at some point too...

>Each member of the band seems to bring a different set of musical tastes and reference points to the table. Does this make writing songs together and deciding on a direction difficult? How do Los Campesinos! songs evolve?

Tom: It's more a positive thing than anything, as it means we always have a lot of ideas to play with. The songs generally evolve from some demos I'll come up with, and then Gareth will provide vocal lines... then when we take them into a band context they can evolve and change direction however they need to...

Gareth: And quite crucially we’ve never decided on a direction as such. The songs just get written and if they’re good and not funk then that’s super.

>Thanks to internet word-of-mouth you were catapulted into the limelight having been together for only a short while and having played only a very few gigs. How did that feel?

Tom: Quite surreal, and I guess it's something we're still coming to terms with. It's still surprising, and I hope it always is, because I'd hate to slip into any sort of complacency where we feel we deserve to be in this position, because so much of it is just down to luck. But we're trying to make the most of it. Honest.

Gareth: I think there was also quite a big feeling of embarrassment. I mean, we’d found ourselves in this situation without having really done much to get ourselves there, so we felt wholly undeserving, and still do in many respects. It just means we have to work really hard at being a good band, and making sure we don’t disappoint people that put their faith in us.

>You were the subject of a lot of label interest. What was it like being in such demand, and why Wichita?

Tom: It was lovely to feel like we had a choice, especially so unexpectedly and from so many labels we respect a lot. Wichita became the obvious choice in the end because there was an instant connection with the people that run it, both musically and personally. They're a really small label so there's potential to build up a genuine relationship with them, while they're happy to offer us as much creative freedom as we want. Plus they got us really really drunk and came with suitcases filled with piles of cash and all manner of drugs... weed, coke, smack, anything the aspiring rock cliche could want...

Gareth: The amount of times I’ve read people say that we made the right choice in going with Wichita since has certainly been reassuring too, but we’re in no doubt that this is the label that we can work with and help us become what we want to be.

>Complete the following sentence: Cardiff is…

Tom: ...the opening to this question that I can't think up anything witty or profound to answer with.

>What influence has Cardiff had on you as a band, or on your songs?

Tom: Well it's where we all met, but meeting lots of bands who all play such an exciting range of music has been lovely. I think quite importantly Cardiff is detached from any of the bigger cities that sometimes seem to breed generic, incestuous forms of music as a result of any real or illusory “scenes”... or something like that. But there are also bands like the Super Furries who we look up to massively, as they just continuously do their own thing and constantly offer a variety of styles.

>What impression do you think the This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 22 Of Us compilation gives of the city’s musical culture?

Tom: It's a good advert for all the great and diverse bands that are making lovely music here. I don't think any of the bands on there sound the same or even similar, which is obviously a good thing.

>What’s next for Los Campesinos!?

Going to finish watching the England game, and then get some work done. We're demo-ing soon and bulding up to a single release and tour which is all very exciting. Lectures in the morning make sure we don't get carried away with such frivolities though...

Monday, February 05, 2007


Gindrinker’s debut release consists of five songs: ‘Bacon Pt 2’, about a man photographed in a compromising position with some ham; ‘God Of Darts’, about Jim Bowen and ‘Bullseye’; ‘Hey! Greengrocer’, about an errant purveyor of fruit and veg; ‘Reilly’, about a local pub for local people; and ‘Ian The Dog Murderer’, about an animal rights activist with unorthodox methods. Obviously, you need to own it. Ben Woolhead

Ben speaks with Gindrinker’s DC Gates (vox/trumpet) and Graf (guitars/beats)

>Who or what inspires you?

DC: I thought about being facetious here, but I don’t want to be a twat, so (in no particular order): William Burroughs, John Cooper Clarke, Big Black, Les Dawson, Flannery O’Connor, Whitehouse, The Fall, Godflesh, Black Sabbath, Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, Butthole Surfers … I could go on. Lots of stuff, basically.

Graf: Apathy and the aversion of. I am really pleased that we are seen as a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” type band. I would much rather people paid any kind of attention than being a middle-of-the-road plodding indie band that people forget in an instant.

>You're the sort of band that people relish describing. Who's come closest to capturing what Gindrinker are all about and how did they describe you?

DC: Probably the various descriptions given by Lesson Number One [Cardiff promoter]
e.g. “Improbable tales, dry Northern wit and messy post-punk tuneage”, “Gruesome closing-time cabaret”, “If Ballard and Bukowski were barmen, and couldn't play bass.” Etc. Although I still like “Like Pop Will Eat Itself, only shitter.” Still haven’t heard PWEI.

>How would you describe yourselves?

DC: Personally, I’d say industrial garage rock, although I wouldn’t lump the band in with either camp. We keep being compared to The Fall, that’s a lazy comparison in my book.

>The sociopathic violence of your songs is tempered by humour, but there does seem to be real bile behind much of what you do. How much of your act is just that – an act?

DC: Well, it’s entirely an act. Nearly every song is from a viewpoint of a fictional character, either based on personal experience, or something I was thinking about. ‘Ian The Dog Murderer’ was based on several articles about the ALF and other groups, and one about urban dog owners. A lot of the music I listen to is heavy or weird, and the songs reflect this. I am a libertarian socialist, but a lot of our songs don’t necessarily reflect this viewpoint. ‘Tax Exiles’ is our only political song so far, and I endorse it – tax heavily those that can easily afford to be heavily taxed, and totally reclaim the wealth of those who refuse to pay and do so through offshore accounts. Meanness, wilful ignorance and narrow-mindedness irritate me greatly, just as much within music as in everyday life. People who talk loudly over quiet music that they have paid to see, just to say they were there, should have their legs broken.

Graf: I’m more sociophobic than sociopathic hence I tend to keep quiet and face the back a lot.

>Complete the following sentence: “Cardiff is...”

DC: “... both a shithole and a glittering palace of delights.”

Graf: “... interesting.”

>What influence has Cardiff had on you as a band, or your songs?

DC: Having worked in bars for five years has added to my gloomy and misanthropic lyrical output, and moving to a city meant that I got to encounter people who introduced me to different types of music. This has been a pleasure.

Graf: I’m really enjoying the current culture of support and collaboration in Cardiff. It can only be a good thing that people in bands go and see, support, promote and even play in other people’s bands. I hear stories of “The Great Cardiff Indie Wars of circa 2000” where (allegedly) due to a few egos getting out of control a lot of people got burnt. I really really really hope that doesn’t happen again. The current happenings have often been described as a community rather than a scene which I think is very apt.

>What impression do you think the This Town Ain't Big Enough For The 22 Of Us compilation gives of the city's musical culture?

DC: An unfortunate side-effect has been an over-emphasis on a certain type of indie music. There’s a lot of other stuff going on. That said, it’s been a leg-up for many people.

Graf: It is unfortunate but then again Twisted By Design is an indie disco so it is inevitably largely going to attract people who like and play the indie music. If I made a compilation of my 22 favourite Cardiff bands it would be different, if DC made one it would be different again, as would yours, as would anyone else’s. It is a very healthy sign of current musical goings-on that I can easily make a whole list of other bands that I believe deserved to be on there as well. Maybe it should have been a double album! Also, it’s worth remembering that it’s a compilation of unsigned bands which automatically excluded a lot of the city’s bigger players.

> ‘Hey Greengrocer!’ features a lot of inventive name-calling. What’s your favourite insult?

DC: “Whey-faced popinjay” is a good one, as is “brain donor”. I nicked “Falstaffian rampart of beef” from Wyndham Lewis and “Fray Bentos pie of a man” from my good friend Dan Onions. Thanks, fellas.

>What's next for Gindrinker?

DC: Hopefully some proper recordings, and some more dates outside of Cardiff. Reaching out to new people. It’s been awesome to have been doing this for two years, but we need to get stuff done this year. Our Great Leap Forward, if you will, but hopefully without the massive loss of life.

Graf: We’ve finally got our CDR demo finished (two years in the making!) so next begins the arduous process of sending that out to anyone who may be remotely interested and seeing what comes of that. I also agree that we need to get out of Cardiff more. I love playing in Cardiff but it does sometimes get a little disheartening to be playing to the same faces (as beautiful as they are!) all the time. We need a fresh challenge.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

MJ Hibbett & The Validators

One thing that has remained constant in Vanity Project’s five years is our appreciation of MJ Hibbett both with and without the Validators. I had made the assumption that we had interviewed MJ already cos we’ve written about the Validators often in the last half decade, but although a feature on his record label Artists Against Success, and several record reviews, have appeared, there was no interview. To my mind, shocking, and needing to be put right. So I have. Skif.

>How did The Validators originally come together?

I knew Tim from being in bands in Leicester at the same time as each other and Frankie via an email list called uk-indie. I asked both of them to come and help me record a single, "Born With The Century", and we had so much fun doing that we kept on going. Tom joined shortly after that, and is the only survivor of about ten of my friends who were in the band for a while, whilst Emma came aboard a year or so later, after she and I had performed a song together at her and Tim's wedding.

>Please introduce yourself and your Validators? What qualities do you each bring to the band?

Hello, my names Mark (although, in ROCK terms, I am MJ). I'm the one who usually tries to organise things and comes up with daft ideas, although lately both of these duties (especially the latter) have been taken on by Mr Timothy Pattison, our drummer. He and Emma, our other singer, are really the heart of the band - I sometimes think that without them we'd just be three blokes who are out past their bed times. Tom "Tiger" McClure is our violinist, representative of The Younger Generation, and all round bit of CLASS, whilst Francis Albert Machines is our bass player, musical maestro and, when any of the rest of us are getting a bit sensible, our cheeky chappy.

>For someone exploring MJ Hibbett/The Validators for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?
Anything you hear in our lyrics that you think is sarcasm, or meant to be taken ironically, or a half-truth, never is - everything we say, we mean. This seems to confused some people who seem to want me to say that I don't REALLY like Take That or something, but I do! Also, we're a bit older than most bands in our position and all have vivid and exciting lives outside the Krazy World Of Rock, so everything we do we do for the love of it. We're not hear for a pension scheme, we're here for the ROCK!

>Are The Validators relevant?

We try to be - we're always trying to write songs about actual real-live things that are happening now, rather than repeating the same old teenage clichés that so many people think they can get away with. We are, however, neither "hip" nor "cool", and especially not "edgy".

>What makes you VALID?

See above! Like I say, we're here because we like it, not because we want to rip anybody off or put anybody down. In this respect, and I am sure many others, we are the modern incarnation of The Monkees.

>What are the advantages of doing the songs with the band, and what are the advantages of performing them solo? Do you notice a difference in the audience responses to either?

Playing with the band is a lot more fun, because it's a lot less lonely, but it's a lot more complicated to get everybody there and have everything set up, and it's usually a lot more frustrating. We're a band where you NEED to hear the lyrics but for some reason very very few soundmen seem to understand this. It drives me mad, to be honest - when you buy a record you can ALWAYS hear the words, and yet at gigs this is very rarely the case. When we meet NICE soundmen who GET IT it is always a thing of joy, and often I am moved to HUG them, but usually the idea that you can TURN DOWN THE GUITARS seems to pass them completely by. Playing solo, then, is usually a LOT easier to sort out, and for the reasons above is usually a bit more Musically Satisfying, as people can HEAR the words.

There's a couple of other differences I've noticed between band and solo stuff - first of all people are much more likely to DANCE when you've got a band, and secondly there more likely to give RESPECT too! When most audiences see someone advancing on the stage with an acoustic guitar they are likely to think EITHER "It's a dreary old folk sod who's going to take ten minutes to sing one song about a wheelbarrow or something - RUN AWAY!" OR "Here comes someone who is going to play Quiet Jazz, COME! let us gather at he front of the stage and TALK LOUDLY." The way I play and the way I sing have all been developed over YEARS of forcing people to stay and listen in exactly those situations!

>What inspires you musically? What motivates you to do music?

I just find it exciting to create something from nothing - the BUZZ when there's an idea for a new song going round my head, slowly falling into place, is like nothing else, and the THRILL of playing stuff with the band, or in front of new people, is GRATE. I do it because I love it, and I keep doing it because it keeps getting better!

>Do you plan to collaborate with others? Any ideal collaborators?

Not really - I tend to write songs really really slowly, I'm not very good at picking up other people's tunes, and it's been YEARS since I've really had a go at doing it, so I think that if I tried to write a song with somebody else I'd just annoy them! That said, I do of course collaborate with The Validators, who end up writing loads of the music when we have practices, and I'm working on some tunes sent to me by Frankie, but I'd be too scared of getting beaten up by enraged songwriters, driven to madness by my inability to play along with anything but the most basic chords, to even try it with anybody else!

>On an MJ Hibbett curated festival bill, who else would play?

I have thought about this a LOT! I'd like to get the people who've inspired ME on, although obviously they'd have to play after we'd been on, so that it'd look like they were ripping US off - so John Otway, Billy Bragg, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Boo Radleys, Paul McCartney, Phil Wilson and, if possible, Kenickie. Then I'd get a few in for The Validators, like The Wedding Present and The Fall, although I'd have to draw the line at Stereolab. It'd be nice to get in some bands I KNOW who I think other people would like, so we'd need Johnny Domino, Lardpony, Bobby McGees, Pete Green and, if MIRACLES were allowed, The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken: GRATEST live band EVER! I also saw a couple of good bands at different places last week, Horowitz from Stoke and The Dirty Backbeats from Leicester, let's get them in. We'll have Art Brut, Chris TT and Charlotte Hatherley because I REALLY like them, and I think for Sunday afternoon we'll have Take That because they were always GRATE, their new album is Dead Good (I would say "Surprisingly Good" but I'm a big fan so wasn't surprised at all) and anybody who claims not to like them needs sorting OUT!

>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.

Many years ago, when I lived in Leicester, a friend of mine asked if I fancied joining a group of them who were going up to Glasgow QMU to see Adventures In Stereo, who I quite liked, and a band called Belle & Sebastian, who'd just released their second album and who I'd heard once on Mark Radcliffe. LITTLE DID I KNOW that it was going to be the BEST GIG OF MY LIFE: Adventures in Stereo were OK, but Belle & Sebastian were ASTONISHING. Every single song they played was FANTASTIC, every NOTE sounded profoundly RIGHT, and everybody there was gobsmacked. I lost my friends in the crowd, so turned to the people next to me and said "I don't know you, but I've got to tell somebody - this band is fucking AMAZING!" and they all nodded, DUMBSTRUCK by how incredible it was.

Seeing and hearing them that night I realised that you COULD do your own thing and do it RIGHT, and that there was still fantastic music out there that could speak directly to ME. As soon as I got home I started writing newer, better songs, going out to gigs again, playing live more often, and soon I was meeting with Mr M Whitaker and Mr F Machine to start up Artists Against Success. I wasn't the only one either - just with our little group several bands started and I'm pretty sure two other labels in Leicester took on a new lease of life because of that night, and it set off a gig explosion in the area that saw loads of other new bands, labels and club nights start up.

They really had a massive effect on us and, I'm sure, plenty of other scenes around the country, and I think that's why the corporate media turned on them so quickly, as they were inspiring people completely without their say so. I was also surprised, as I went to see them many more times over the next couple of years, to find that their live act was never anything LIKE as good again - indeed, for a long time they were RUBBISH live - but then I guess nothing could ever top that particular evening.

>What other future plans do you have for gigs and recordings?

In 2007 I'm hoping to do a lot LESS gigs - I've done 50 this year, which is more than enough for anybody, and though it's been a lot of fun I've hardly seen my girlfriend and have spent an awful lot of time KNACKERED. We're aiming to do some festivals as a band if we can, but otherwise we're planning to SECRETE ourselves in a studio in Derby and getting learning up some new stuff.

As for recordings - hopefully a single in the Spring, and MAYBE another one towards the end of the year, depending on if we can find time to record it!

>What do you consider your best achievements in music?

SOPPY ANSWER: getting The Validators together, seeing them get on together, and meeting so many lovely people at gigs.
ROCK ANSWER: doing a session on Radio 1, that was REALLY exciting!

>What are your ambitions?

I don't know - apart from idle thoughts on the train about what song I'd like band to play when I'm poncing down the stairs on PARKINSON I tend not to think of it that way. I'd like to reach more people, just because I love it when I meet someone that my songs MEAN anything to, but generally I've found that the best thing to do is NOT to have any kind of Career Plan of ROCK, but to see what Adventures become available to you and after them. JE SUIS UN HIPPY.

>What does ‘success’ mean to you?

In the lower case, success in ROCK is coming away from a gig feeling happy with what happened. It doesn't have to be a sell-out crowd or a lot of sales or even getting paid - very often it's none of these things - but it can be seeing an old pal, having some nice BEER, doing a new song, or just seeing a couple snogging because they're happy. Any of those things make for a successful night.

In Title Case, of course, Success is signing your self up to a massive corporation, hating the people who buy your records, thinking you're better than the people at your gigs, and believing that the best song you can write is the one that makes the most money. Here at Artists Against Success that's the sort of thing we're AGAINST!

>What makes you cry?

The older I get the more sentimental I become. Documentaries, adverts for Hovis, The X-Factor, anything really!

>What makes you smile?

Living in London turns you into a CURMUDGEON, which gives you AMPLE opportunity to be proved wrong - getting on the tube thinking "GAH! Everyone is an IDIOT - get out of my WAY, FOOLS!" as one does, it only takes the sight of someone helping a harassed mother carry her pushchair down some stairs to make you realise that, actually, people are ALL RIGHT, and break into a grin.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?

When people in bands WILLINGLY sign up for the lies peddled by the corporations. For example, promoters who put on "UNSIGNED" nights and the bands who play them, somehow thinking it's ROCK AND ROLL to get tied up in a complex legal contract with a massive money making machine who'd rather have 15,000 Shayne Wards than 1 Elvis.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?

The enthusiasm of the thousands of people who go out to see gigs all the time. I so rarely get to go and see a band just for FUN that it always amazes me how many people make the effort. Without them NONE of it would happen. Also Promoters Who Aren't In Bands: I can never understand WHY anyone would want to go through all the hassle of putting on a gig and then not even PLAY it themselves, but I'm really glad they do!

>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? Why so?

Albums! You can LOOK at them and hold them and READ them and carry them around, and it's a SPECIALLY SELECTED batch of song chosen by the people who wrote and recorded them, and put in a SPECIFIC ORDER to make the experience better. It's like the ultimate home made mix-tape, why would anybody rather leave it to a machine?

>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?

My Mrs, constitutional politics, the works of Stan Lee and Alan Moore, being Veggie, ludicrously pointless Beatles trivia, and proper BEER. Yes, I believe that would mean I am a bit of a GEEK.

>What is/was your favourite book, and why?

Emma, by Jane Austen - it's funny, it's clever, it's exciting, it always makes me cry, and it was the first book I read when I finally finished HAVING to read books for qualifications, and realised once again that they can be fun. It's bloody GRATE!

>Any other words of wisdom for VP readers?

Be very careful mixing money and friendship, don't dislike something just because someone you hate likes it (The Lesson Of The Smiths) and always ALWAYS make sure you've got a pen to hand and a clean pair of pants in the drawer, then you'll never go far wrong.

Oh yeah, and hug your friends whenever you get the chance, ESPECIALLY if they pretend not to like it- they LOVE it really!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stuffy/The Fuses

Recipient of my single of the year award for 2005, it's been too long to get Stuffy in to tell us about him and his Fuses. Look out for the new LP 'Angels Are Ace' coming very soon. Thanks very much due to Stuffy for his efforts in staying up til 4am, 4 hours before he was due to give a drum lesson to complete this VP survey.

>>How did The Fuses originally come together? What inspired the name?

You have to excuse me. It’s 1:20am and I’ve just cycled back from band rehearsal for this Brakes & Duels support tour. Shellshocked and contented I will try my best to shake my memory into action, I may ramble, stop me if you’ve heard this all before etc...
The Fuses came together in about 1993 [addendum taken from s/tf website: Please note that s/tf formed not in 1993 but 2003. Stuffy was heavily sedated at the time and under the influence of Neil Sedaka.] Jon & Jen Fuse have been in from the start, we are pretty much the stable line up but as with all bands there has to be a rogue instrument, like the dicky fourth wheel on a shopping trolley. With us it’s the Keyboards.

First we had Stevie Fuse who went of to tour the world, then Doc Fuse who chose academia and a quiet life (wisely) over transit life, Chopper Fuse played on the new album but has since gone on to a career in writing music for TV. Now we have Lucy Fuse and I think she’s in for the long haul. She is probably the most committed out of all of us and often the instigator of pro-activity. 2006 - The classic line-up. Seriously though it’s never felt more like stuffy/the fuses than it does now. If any of them left the band I’d call it a day coz I wouldn’t want to do this band with anyone else.

>Please introduce yourself and your Fuses? What qualities do you each bring to the band?

I’m stuffy, I play the drums and sing most of the lead vocals. I also write a majority of the material. I bring the band together to play them – if that’s a quality then that’s mine.

Jen Fuse is lead guitar and is doing more lead vocals these days. Her voice has made a grown man cry. It wasn’t me I hasten to add. Jen’s guitars make the fuses songs the same way that The Flamming Lips aren’t the same without Ronaldo or the way that Greg Saunier drumming immortalizes Deerhoof. (Am I sounding pretentious? As I said it’s early in the morning.) My 2nd favourite Guitarist is Bic Hayes (formerly of Dark Star/Levitation) she’s my 1st.

Jon Fuse plays bass and sings Bvs (somewhat reluctantly). He runs a studio by day and often drops sessions in favour of working on band projects, we owe him a lot & about a kerjillion pounds in studio hours. He brings stability to the band, every note he plays you could set your watch by which is important when I’m your drummer.

Lucy Fuse is our newest member. She plays the Phillicorda, Rhodes piano and Mono Synth and sings Bvs. She brings so much enthusiasm to the band and is an incredibly intuitive musician. She brings a musical version of the Suffolk countryside to our polluted south London pawnshop noise.

>Why should people buy your new LP?

Because they’ve heard it and think it’s ace or seen us live and think we’re ace and want to hear more. I wouldn’t want them to waste their money if they felt it wasn’t their cup of tea. What an odd question.

>For someone exploring Stuffy/The Fuses for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?

English bands should sing in English accents so we do. No transatlantic, seudo-american dropping of h’s, d’s or reshaping of the letter r – I am very proud of this fact.

>Are Stuffy/The Fuses relevant?

Yes, I think so. I don’t think any other band sounds like us and we don’t sound like any other band – arrogant as that sounds. People in the press say we sound like XTC crossed with Shellac but only because they are two influences I bandy about to save them a bit of time. We don’t sound like either really, we sound like stuffy/the fuses.

>What inspires you musically?

A great song inspires me. A fantastic noise inspires me. Seeing a fantastic band and getting home at 3am inspired to stay up all night writing despite having to be up at 7 to go work at some job you hate on no sleep. That’s getting your priorities right.

>What motivates you to do music?

I don’t know, I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’m very lucky now that I make my living from music outside of s/tf. But there was never any other option. I’m stubborn enough that I had to make it happen somehow. I also have a supportive network of friends and family; only one of whom suggest I give it all up to become and insurance clerk.

>You have appeared in a number of bands from time to time. I saw you drumming twice with Cardiacs a couple of years ago. Are you keen then to try new things musically?

I’m keen to try all things musically. I was once a piss poor viola player in the Stonleigh Youth Orchestra and got to play Shostakovich 5 & Saint Saene’s Organ Symphony. I used to ruin the Surrey Youth Big Band. As you can see I like a bit of variety.

Cardiacs was great for me. The 14 year old me who’s first ever gig was Cardiacs was in heaven. Tim Smith is one of our musical heritages great-unsung heroes as is Bill Drake their old keyboardist. They are not an immediate or wide appeal band, never have been, never will be but their place in history is assured.

>Do you plan to collaborate with others?

Not currently. Open to offers, anything to avoid real work. I have mentioned to a few people that I’d like to try writing partnerships. I’ve only ever written on my own so it would be interesting to see how one would write with a 3rd party. I used to be quite stubborn about parts, getting people to play what I wanted but The Fuses always come up with better parts so I’m far more lenient these days – how big of me.

>Any ideal collaborators?

Someone who know the secret to a great chorus.

I’d quite like to have ago with Chris T-T, I’ve recently done some Bvs for him and our voices are eerily similar. Barry Dobbin formerly of Clor, we have a similar approach but he’s a little more adventurous than I and he knows how to get away with it. Kim Deal would be ace, Pod by the breeders was a huge influence on my musical development.

>On a Stuffy/the fuses curated festival bill, who else would play?

Apart from those mentioned above…
Emma Pollack
Future of Left (my current fave band)
The Aprons
Jim O’Rouke
Napolian IIIrd
Electric Soft Parade
iForward Russia!
Shy Child
The Meat Train
Throwing Muses
The Broken Family Band
Scaramanga Six
Get Rapeman to reform for one show.
PJ Harvey
Bob Hund
Sonic Youth
Volcano Suns to reform also.
Ed Harcourt
Dr. Dog
Jacob’s Mouse

…and the bastards who stole our van paraded naked whilst slowly working teaspoons up their backsides.

This could go on all night you know. Probably missed out the best ones.

>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.

I formed a band in 2000 whilst living in Japan with a bunch of ex-pat musicians. We were awful, really bad, we knew it. The guitarist was so bad he had to play drums and I had to take over guitar duties. That made me realise that for most of my career I’d played with exceptionally good musicians. I feel lucky I still do.

>What other future plans do you have for gigs and recordings?

We are about to go on tour for two weeks as guests of Brakes, then DUELS. Two bands we respect hugely and have gone out on a limb by inviting us along. We will finish up the year by recording a radio session at the BBC for Mark Lamarr. Hopefully a legitimate full-length release of our Albini recorded album, Angels Are Ace, is not to far off. A split single release with Fake DIY is in the offing and hopefully more touring in the spring.

>What do you consider your best achievements in music?

Angels Are Ace is definitely up there. I don’t listen to Join Me Or Die very often, I pick holes in it, I wince every few bars on some tunes. This album I put on for pleasure not pain, it’s one of my favourites.

>What are your ambitions?

Jon, Jen and I always talk about the fact we hope we’ll be playing music together well into old age. Be that stuffy/the fuses, a string quartet or whatever. We have all the songs for albums 3 & 4 already; I hope we make lots of very good albums. The day we go, I’m not enjoying this anymore or we feel we’ve run our course we’ll start something else.

>What does ‘success’ mean to you?

Having achievements you are proud of whether or not they have found critical acclaim or financial reward. Mind you those things do smack of success also.

>What makes you cry?

Things that shouldn’t make a big man cry. If something like terms of endearment is on or even a run of the mill schmaltzy flick where someone dies I cry like a small boy lost in a forest. Pathetic.

>What makes you smile?

Lots of things including my camp little cat, my beautiful baby niece and my long-suffering partner.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?

Nothing really. It’s all good. I’d rather people listened to music than not.

I suppose it upsets me when I see young bands getting caught up in all the trappings of major labels and huge sums of money without there being some kind of mentoring system in place for them. That poor chap from Keane shouldn’t be in a drying out hostel at his age, I really feel for him, nobody there to say “it’s ok, I’m here if you need me”. Mind you, I wouldn’t have signed them.
All popstars should be like Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs; he’s the happiest most together pop star I’ve ever seen. Down to earth, having the time of his life and can’t believe he gets paid to go “waaaaoooooooooooooh!” a lot.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?

People like Tim Perry of the Independent who runs the Windmill in Brixton. Loves music, believes in paying bands and does it 7 nights a week.

People like Fonda 500, Billy Childish, The Fall, Andy Falkous, The Scaramanga Six – artists with persistence, resilience and courage who’ll still be making excellent records 10 years after they die.

In this time of 3minute attention spans, the fact the kids all still want to play music.

…and we have all the best bands.

>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? Why so?

Singles – for the tracks that are too quirky/awkward for the LP
Lps – for the long haul listening pleasure.
Downloads – for the musical buffet experience.

>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?

People I like. Christmas.

>What is/was your favourite book, and why?

John Pilger’s Heroes: It re-affirmed my disgust with the reality of the capitalist west and made me aware of my social responsibilities once again. Dirty, rotten, commie that I am.

>Any other words of wisdom for VP readers?

Don’t reveal your political affiliations in an interview about music. You may alienate the Daily Mail reading half of your fan base.

Night night Stuffy! Thanks. Skif.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Robots In Disguise

The sauntering enchantresses of Sue Denim and Dee Plume, via their recent RID album, have managed to combine dark humour and punchy provocation shrouded in cosmopolitan delivery. Appearances on The Mighty Boosh and the honour of controlling the after-show festivities for the show’s recent tour of homely venues, has helped Robots In Disguise spread their lofty electro-based sound to a wide ranging audience. The strong minded and talented pair of expansive musicians, kindly take time out to reveal what programmes Robots In Disguise to do the things they do and, be the way are.

>Your debut album ‘RID’ throws artists like Gainsbourg, Ladytron, Client and Blondie into a shot glass and sets fire to them to create a vacuum of salacious power and dark broodiness, with a cosmopolitan edge. Was this the intention? And do you feel that you have achieved the sound you intended to or are you still an outfit in transition?

SUE: There was never an intention to sound like any other band, although I guess everyone is influenced intentionally or not by other sounds and facets of life, unless living as a recluse! We did have certain ideas about how we wanted it to sound, basically, as a progression from our first album, greatly inspired by a lot of touring. On the latest album we wanted the sound very cohesive, as the first album seemed more jumbled together and experimental. But basically we just wrote the songs that came bubbling up from within us and recorded them to sound as exciting and danceable as we could!

Originally we wanted every song to be a possible single. Our producer Chris Corner also influences the way the songs sound, kicks us into shape in the studio, he is really talented, and such a brilliant producer. It's all very democratic in terms of the production though - we spend hours together in the studio making sure everyone's happy with the final sound. The three of us worked together on both albums so there's a lot of trust been built up. Chris is an honorary robot. He is even going to be a girl drummer for us for our next gig in Belgium in a coupla weeks, Ann Droid, hopefully no one will notice!

DEE: Yeah, yeah that was definitely the intention ha ha. Tho proud of the album for me we're still on the way to getting the sound I want. It's very hard trying to get a live sound when it isn't. But the energy of our act is coming through on this album much more than in the previous one

>Standout number on the above album is the murky, but dominant ‘Girl’. What is the story behind this number and were you surprised by the anger that is seemingly concealed within it?

DEE: I'm never surprised by anger, especially when it's my own ;) - it's always there like a demon. Language innately discriminates against women coz so much of it is male invention. Girls growing up need to feel that it's ace to be a girl coz I think a lot of women hate themselves.

SUE: The oppressed have to keep speaking up! :) Feminists prior to now worked so hard and achieved so much and yet there is still not equality, although we have it good in this part of the world in comparison to women in other places. But even over here I think sexism is still accepted by many, and ignored by many others. Maybe it's too frightening to imagine real change. In this song the anger is concealed by the playful approach to the lyrics, but yes, it is there.

>How has The Mighty Boosh Factor helped you on the road to success?

SUE: Being in the Mighty Boosh has hugely helped our profile in the UK. Loads more people know about us now. I know if I was a Mighty Boosh fan (which I am by the way! I mean, if I wasn't in the show as well!) and I found out that the 2 girls in Kraftwerk Orange and in Nanageddon were actually in a REAL LIVE BAND I'd be well excited! We've been friends for ages, they used to come to see us play in tiny venues, we saw them in tiny venues, now they still come to see us in tiny venues and we see them in Brixton Academy and on the telly! He he he. It's been a fantastic opportunity - it was an honour, and great fun, to be part of such an original and brilliant show.

DEE: The fact that they've become successful has helped me believe that there is an audience who want something original and special and that it always takes miles longer to get attention if you're unusual.

>Your live shows often turn into an inhibition releasing exhibition from both yourselves and the crowd. Do you think that live shows on the whole, need life breathing into them? What do you want people to take out of a live Robots In Disguise show?

DEE: Live shows r about us all having a good time - it's our duty as performers to try n get the audience to forget everything n live in the moment. The best live shows r about escaping reality and feeling immortal.

SUE: Live needs life. Otherwise u might as well just listen to the music at home. I want the audience to forget themselves and get lost in the experience, to dance like crazy, sing along and just have a good time, like we do on stage. To not know it's really happening until it's over.

>Describe the song writing process for Robots In Disguise? How do your songs start out?

SUE: One of us will write a verse and chorus and then we complete the song together. Or we come up with an idea together and jam it out. Or one of us will write a verse and chorus and then we throw it all away and start from scratch with the same melody but different lyrics. Or... etc. Often dictionaries and thesauruses will come out. There will be laughter and arguing. Then we will get distracted and talk about anything BUT the song for ages. Then we will go and shoot tequilas for inspiration. Then we do it all again until finally the song is ready. We are usually still finishing lyrics under pressure while recording the song.

DEE: I sit at home n avoid writing by doing chores n then something horrible happens to me and I react by writing.

>Which of your songs sum up your current mood and why?

DEE: Hot Gossip. People just can't stop talking bout us ha ha

SUE: 'Get RID!' (The title track for our album which wasn't finished in time! It'll probably be on the next album).

>Who or what makes you angry??

SUE: Violence. Demands. Abuse. Threats. Money. Power. The unfairness of life. I'm less angry about that than I used to be as I've realised it will always be unfair. Guess it's something to do with where it all leads, for all of us, and how confusing it is to know that and deal with it. Add to that the chaos of nature, human and otherwise. It's all far too confusing if you think about it too much. Thinking in moderation is best for me cos I far too often find myself back to the question of the meaning of life. It's unanswerable
but tantalising. Life is it's own meaning.

DEE: People who can't back down and apologise.

>If you could choose any artist or band to cover one of your songs, who would it be and what song would it be?

SUE: How about Snoop Dogg covering GIRL?! Or Kate Bush covering Voodoo?

DEE: Peaches or Madonna with Boys, Serge Gainsbourg (even from the grave) La Nuit.

>Finally, if you could change one thing about the modern music industry, what would it be and why?

DEE: That there was sum positive discrimination for girl bands.

SUE: The industry should be more patient. There would be far more interesting and artistic music that way. Instead of the whole 'newest, best, newest, best in the world, newest in the universe' etc etc mentality. The building up a new band to then bash them down. The UK especially is guilty of this. We were quite lucky to have a chance to sneak off and do our own thing and develop away from Englands' judging eyes, in France mainly, with better riders, better fees and more exotic locations! I think it's quite hilarious that we're being called a 'hot, new band' now in the UK (by the same publication that called us the 'worst band in Britain' not long ago!) when we're already on our 3rd album. Hilarious but good! Better than 'shit, old band'. There is a move away from the industry entirely. It could end up as only the music producers and the music buyers, no industry. This would be ok except that you'd probably get one album every 10 years cos the bands would be so tied up with all the business. I know from experience.

Thanks for the interview! SUE X

Interview undertaken by David Adair

Monday, July 17, 2006


With both of their albums thus far, I have found that Zukanican’s music inspires the imagination, trying to keep up with them in terms of creativity though is possibly a futile task. As such we’ve waved the white flag and decided to find out a little bit more about what makes Zukanican tick. So we asked the questions of Tom Sumnall (electric & double bass), James Pagella (drums & percussion), Harry Sumnall (electronics, percussion) , Phil Lucking ( trumpets) and Ray Dickaty (saxophones & flute). Do check out their stuff at MySpace.com/zukanican. Skif.

>Please introduce yourself and your bandmates, what do you each bring to Zukanican?
Well, there’s Tom who mostly plays low notes, Harry, my brother, plays a mixture of low and high notes plus a fair bit of alien dialogue, James has an OCD of whacking plastic with pieces of wood, and Phil and Ray both blow into complicated engineered brass tubes, although Ray’s is slightly longer. So that’s Tom, Harry, James, Phil and Ray – Zukanican.

>For someone exploring Zukanican for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?
Tom: We make it up as we go along.
Harry: Although the land of Zukania is real and is for everyone, no punks or bullies are allowed..oh and yes, its *meant* to sound like that…
Phil: Nothing is ever repeated, apart from sometimes the head of a tune.
James: We didn’t meet at Fame Academy.
Ray: Keep an open mind.

>Are Zukanican relevant?
Tom: I think that Zukanican are very relevant to the basic human desire to enjoy themselves, both for the listener and us.
Harry: No, not at all. We exist outside, and besides, time and relevance.
Phil: Yes.
James: Yes. To ourselves and I believe a greater public.
Ray: What is relevance? Relevance only works in relation to so in relation to the music industry we are not relevant but in relation to ourselves, of course we are.

>What else inspires you, musically and lyrically?
Tom: The bold musicians that I play with inspire me.
Harry: As Zukanican’s lead singer and focus of attention I have written many volumes of lyrics, all deeply held expressions of myself; resulting from environment, memory, interaction, or experience. However, my microphone is always mysteriously turned off during gigs and recordings so no one has ever heard them. Musically, I am inspired by a replenished sebsi…
Phil: Too many things to even start picking a favourite.
Ray: Too much, and sometimes nothing at all.

>Do you plan to collaborate with others? Any ideal collaborators?
Tom: We’ve done a few ‘celebrated’ local gigs with Damo Suzuki and that has always seemed to work very well. We have lots of musical friends and I think we’d have more in common playing with them than other well-known names. Saying that, I would have loved to play in the 70s Arkestra (as if).
Harry: Regular live collaborators with Damo Suzuki, would be great to collaborate with Jeremy Barnes, mmm big hippie death cult jams tribal next.
Phil: Haven’t thought about it, but would be open to suggestion.
James: I think so. We do well with Damo Suzuki and the fact that we are instrumental helps with the idea of further team-ups. I (James) would like to join forces with Serge Gainsbourg or P J Harvey.
Ray: It has been discussed.

>If the musical world was ideal, it would…
Tom: Electricity for musicians would be subsidised.
Harry: Be on time, be organised, alcohol free, listen to what was going on, and maybe have read one or two hardback books
Phil: Be ideal?
James: Champion the music and demonstrate that it really is the ‘antidote’ to style.
Ray: Probably not exist.

>Why should people buy ‘Horse Republic’?
Tom: It’s (hopefully) quite unlike anything they will have heard before.
Harry: It provides the opportunity to create at least 7 new dance crazes – The Jacques du Kronk is currently a winner
Phil: Because it’s good
James: Because they have not heard it yet and to do so is good fun in a different way than Snow Patrol.
Ray: To make us rich and famous (I don't think so!).

>What do you consider your best achievements in music?
Tom: Passing my grade 4 double bass exam aged 15.
Harry: Playing in several different bands at once, all completely different styles, but pretty much the same people
Phil: Those amazing moments when I can’t believe my ears. These usually occur playing live gigs.
James: Playing in time sometimes – sometimes we play all at the same time!
Ray: Mostly during practice sessions when something happens that was unexpected that sends you off in a strange direction, a series of notes or a particular tone... that occurs..minor ephiany.
Occasionally if you are lucky this can happen onstage in front of an audience and if everyones on it , it becomes like magic.

>On a Zukanican curated festival bill, who would play?
Tom: Medeski, Martin & Wood, Pavement, Beck, The Fall, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Living Brain, the holy ghost of Albert Ayler, The Stairs and Bablicon – all on stage at the same time.
Phil: The Sun Ra Arkestra, which is now led by Marshall Allen, Ornette Coleman, Lee Perry, Die Like a Dog Quartet, Sierra Maestra………………..spoiled for choice.
James: Fela Kuti, The Magic Band, U-Roy, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Tom Waits, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Pavement, Mirrorball, Cubical and The 747s – we would sit off and try and smoke Sun Ra back into existence. And Snow Patrol of course.
Ray: Brian Eno, Peter Brotzman, Ash Ra Temple, Bonnie prince Billy, Stockhausen, Leonard Cohen, Albert Ayler, Ornette ...............................this could go on for a very long time!!! So an eclectic bill of music that had a natural progression from deep earth to outer space so at the end of the bill, all present would no longer exist in the physical world but had transcended.

>What are your ambitions?
Tom: To keep creating the opportunities to record and play music.
Harry: My band Melodie du Kronk needs a record label
Phil: To be happy
James: Mine? Was I supposed to have some after Horse Republic – I thought that was it! Shit.
Ray: To stay alive and healthy enough to continue to play a physically demanding instrument.

>What does ‘success’ mean to you?
Tom: ‘Join another band’
Harry: It’s been so long since we were not so incredibly successful that it’s impossible to give a non relativist response. Other than that, it means being able to install a chocolate waterfall for the new Kif.
Phil: To be able to play the music I like and get paid for it.
James: Getting flown to an amazing location, playing to a select few for an entire night, paid a king’s ransom and delivered home safe without once being recognised as a star.
Ray: To continue being an artist/musician.

>What makes you cry?
Tom: Rolf’s Animal Hospital.
Harry: Poorly cats with cross eyes and broken tails
Phil: Tragedy
James: Usual things, love mistakes and animals suffering. Snow Patrol.
Ray: Me.

>What makes you smile?
Tom: When my cat starts purring for no reason.
Harry: Young children falling over and scraping their foreheads
Phil: Humour
James: Being caked in sweat after an hours playing to a nice crowd knowing that until that point and for the rest of the gig I have had no idea what I am doing.
Ray: Me.

>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.
Tom: Watching The Beta Band on their first tour in Liverpool opened up to me the boundaries of what could be done in a live setting. Watching a 75 year old Ornette Coleman at The Barbican two years ago puts almost every musician I have seen to shame. I’ve also learnt a lot from a guy called Ged Lynn who introduced me to the world beyond 4/4.
Phil: Sun Ra, when I realised that his music was indeed multi-dimensional and operating on many different levels.
James: Watching Bablicon after I had spent years of playing in guitar bands. Never seen the future look so relaxed yet intense. Watching people play is mostly enlightening to whatever level they play.
Ray: Massive Attack coming onstage with the biggest earth vibrating bass sound in the history of tents and fields. A free jazz sax player on the streets of Washington DC late one night as I was returning to my hotel after a night out. This made me question my place in the band I was on tour with, what I was doing musically, and where I wanted to be, go with music. Psych Hip Hop Brooklyn based band, New Kingdom on stage at a white upper class college in New England USA. The WASPS were afraid...very afraid... it was war!! Seeing Kraftwerk, closely followed by the original (reformed) Black Sabbath at a festival in Denmark.

>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? What do you consider the most useful to Zukanican right now?
Tom: Any really, as long as they make people want to leave the house and watch us play. I’m not opposed to downloads, although a digital computer file doesn’t really come close to holding a heavy vinyl disc surrounded by some great artwork.
Harry: The planned range of Zukanican ringtones is going to be our introduction to the big time. Illegal downloads have swelled my music collection, but bankrupted Zukanican.
Phil: Don’t know
James: LPs and downloads.
Ray: All formats have there time and place, although the digitalisation of music seems to have made it somehow cheaper and more throwaway. I grew up in the age of 12 "vinyl LPs so I still have an unnatural attraction to such an artefact.

>What are your future plans for gigs and recordings?
Tom: We’re recording our new album at the moment – we’ll let the dust settle from this one before we tell Nigel we’ve got something else for him! Gigs often get organised at a moment’s notice, although we have one with Damo in St. Helens in September that I’m especially looking forward to. We’re also looking to re-house ourselves after the demise of our lounge pad recording studio The Kif.
Harry: We tend to record all our jams and these then go on to form the basis of our recorded output. The other band members don’t know it yet but I have written an autobiographical metal funk jazz-fusion opera. This will be our next official release. We plan a death to culture gig on December 31st 2007, and will carry a coffin containing an effigy of Sky Saxon down Matthew Street in Liverpool City Centre
Phil: To get better gigs and make better recordings
James: New album before Christmas – for Christmas.
Ray: To continue playing and recording. Sometimes when playing live you have an epiphany and that makes it all worth while.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?
Tom: Present company accepted, it has to be the media as they basically control it don’t they? It’s the same with music venues – most of them think that they are doing you a massive favour by letting you play in their hallowed location, totally ignoring the fact that bands like yourself are paying their wages. Not all places are like this of course, but they’re usually run by musicians rather than exclusively by businessmen.
Harry: The notion of there being a UK music scene is somewhat ridiculous. That is just a tool to provide advertisers with the soundtracks to push their latest product on their core demographics. Whilst this may be culturally relevant, engagement in the creative act should be reward enough and I think will hold greater longevity. It’s a shame there has been a resurgence of dull guitar bands as opposed to mellotron orchestras, which is I believe what the population really wants. I don’t like the lack of self- expression in so called ‘serious’, experimental, or avant garde music in the UK.
Phil: Lots of sound-alikes and safe music that really isn’t much fun.
James: Inane pedalling of the safe-bets among us.
Ray: That it is still controlled by coke snorting ex public school arseholes that can make or break someone as they see fit and when a young band has been chewed up and spat out and are then back to shelf stacking or whatever, these guys still have a life, house, car, freebies

>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?
Tom: Hmm. Tough one. The anticipation of Keane’s next record?
Harry: Even though mainstream music is sounding as tired as ever, its delightful that in every little town in the country there will always be freaky dudes wanting to compose, perform, and promote weird music, even if its to an audience of a tabby cat, a hobo, and the local care in the community scheme.
Phil: That people outside (well outside!) of the mainstream persist in making interesting and
challenging music.
James: Maybe I am inane enough to be pedalled also.
Ray: See above....some of these bands deserve it!!!

>Do you consider yourself part of a Liverpool music scene, how do you view the music in Liverpool right now?
Tom: Definitely. We’ve been putting on gigs in Liverpool, in various guises, for years and years and will continue to do so. Whether other musicians consider us as kindred spirits is another matter, but Liverpool is the reason that Zukanican are alive and playing music. Liverpool will always continue to produce a good and diverse selection of bands.
Harry: Liverpool music scene is, as always has been, very exciting. We are certainly one part of it, but do not define it. Like most cities there is a predominance of bands trying to mimic wider trends, and currently famous Liverpool bands leave me cold, but there also exists a real thriving for experimentation. We’re very connected to many other bands in the city, and although our musical styles are quite different, there is a connectedness on a fundamental level of exploration.
Phil: Part of a music scene? Music in Liverpool…. some is good and some isn’t.
James: Our activities make us part of the scene definitely. The scene we most enjoy is the self-created one and that is all there is in Liverpool. There is no scene-championing venue – if you put on a weird band in a venue and door takings are small it will be a year before you can play that space again. The venues want a scene but of course have no interest in paying for it. Shite music with all your friends and family coming to watch – that’s the ticket – and why not? What Zukanican needs is its own venue to demonstrate the art of the scene – best not moan about venues who, not being music players, have a different set of priorities. Liverpool could be pumping out all the next big things in many genres as it harbours thousands of artists – these artists must create the play however – not hope that a city’s gangsters have an interest in music.

>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?
Tom: I love food.
Harry: Psychopharmacology. East European animation, film, and literature. Romanian religious iconography.
Phil: Scuba diving
James: I love paintings and drawings and designs – from all ages. Says much about people, there associated artwork. UK – look down any high street, what do you see? The same shit, and it is the same because a scientist told said shop owners that the designs were ‘the least offensive’. Not really something to be proud of, or inspired by. Artists in this country must be inspired by the lack of creativity – not by an abundance of it. Interesting? To me, yes.
Ray: Amazing light, architecture, the fact that so much human kindness can exist in amongst so much human shit nature.

>What is/was your favourite book, and why?
Tom: The book that I am in the middle of reading is always my favourite one.
Harry: The first book that made a profound impression on me was Burroughs’ Western Lands. I was very young and it was my first introduction to alternative models of reality and mind
Phil: Very difficult question, too many with different qualities to have a favourite.
James: I thought the jungle book was pretty great. I like the way that the little lad communicates with the beasts and vice versa. Imagine it!!

>Any other words of wisdom?
Tom: Buy Horse Republic.
Harry: Inna su laere..po..po..po
Phil: A quote from Jerry Garcia…………….’’I’d rather be playing’’
James: T.w.a.t.w.o.w.
Ray: Keep on keeping on, ‘cos it soon comes to an end.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Gasman

In LMT’s review of the Gasman’s latest Planet Mu release ‘This One’s For You’ (read it here), he suggests that the Gasman is VPs favourite electronic artists. I can’t speak for all the writers, but I’d certainly go along with that. I think the thing that makes it a cut above for me is that despite being challenging, it is more genuinely rewarding than the efforts of some of his peers, the sounds are beautifully organic, and don’t hammer on the glitch for the sake of it. With several albums out already, it is a genuine concern to us that the Gasman is not a more revered figure. We’re building a statue. This interview shall have to tide you over until its unveiling. Skif


>For someone exploring The Gasman for the first time, what one fact about you should they know before they start?


>Is The Gasman relevant?


>I know you’re a Cardiacs fan, considering your style of music, how do they inspire you?


>What else inspires you, musically and lyrically?


>Do you plan to collaborate with others? Any ideal collaborators?


>If the musical world was ideal, it would…


>Why should people buy ‘This Ones For You’?


>What do you consider your best achievements in music?


>On a Gasman curated festival bill, who would play?


>What are your ambitions?


>What does ‘success’ mean to you?


>What makes you cry?


>What makes you smile?


>Has a musical event/musician changed your life? If so, how? Or describe a musical epiphany you have had.


>What’s better, singles, LPS or downloads? What do you consider the most useful to The Gasman right now?


>What are your future plans for gigs and recordings?


>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?


>What, with regards the UK music scene, delights you?


>What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?


>What is/was your favourite book, and why?


>Any other words of wisdom?