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Wednesday 31 March 2010

Tragic City Thieves - Captains Rest - Glasgow (30/3/10)

The trials and tribulations on the road to becoming a rock star

The reality behind the scenes is rarely something that the audience sees, and sometimes this lack of understanding leads many people to think that bands just appear out of nowhere, entertain them, and then vanish into the night.
That’s part of the magic, but it’s an illusion created by the band for their audience.
A great deal of effort is actually expended in making this the reality for you.
It is more often than not a long arduous and unappreciated journey to get from a practice room to a stage.
If more people were aware of just what goes into the process then I think that it’s possible that a greater degree of respect and admiration would be given.
I could argue that it is never ever as easy as it looks.
Take for instance the gig I went to last night.
The real story started weeks ago.
The Tragic City Thieves were offered the support slot opening for Thomas Tantrum, an up and coming band from London that are playing club sized venues.
They accepted the offer and started spreading the word.
Friends are contacted, bulletins are posted on myspace, and an events page is placed on Facebook. Everyone that may be interested is contacted in one way or another on a daily basis to build up a bit of a buzz and initially it’s looking good.
People are regularly confirming their attendance and on paper it’s a guaranteed busy night.
So far, so sweet.
However on the afternoon of the gig the band get an email stating that Thomas Tantrum have canceled and the gig is pulled.
No real explanation, just that the show is no longer going ahead.
The band themselves then attempt to get in touch with the promoter to salvage the show as people from near and far are coming to see them.
A bit of negotiations wins over the venue and the gig is back on with the Tragic City Thieves headlining and a last minute support sorted.
The word goes out and the night is snatched from the jaws of an apathetic and inept promoter.
That makes it sound like a minor hassle averted, but it’s actually multiple phone calls, emails, further postings on social networking sites and a back to square one approach needed to sort out equipment etc for the show. It’s at least two weeks work leading up to a gig squeezed into a matter of hours.
However fate is determined to put the boot in and it doesn’t end there.
Half an hour to show time and the band are there, but the last minute support is AWOL, as are the majority that confirmed that they would be attending.
I’m sure some will have legitimate reasons, but most will be running excuses for their non appearance through their heads to see how they sound.
The weather conditions will be a contender for top excuse I presume. It is a cold night, no argument about that, and the snow has been on and off for most of the day, but if I can make it from Ayrshire for the doors opening then people who live in a ten mile radius could have surely managed it.
So as one problem is solved and another rears its head I reckon most bands would have thrown the towel in, had a little tantrum, cast the rattle from the pram and run off crying about it all, but then again the Tragic City Thieves aren’t most bands.
The never say die attitude is really something to behold as Div, the drummer, hits the streets and returns with a young guy called Chris daly who was looking for an open mic night.
The show is definitely going to happen, even if the audience could be counted on the fingers of one hand, they are still going to go ahead with it.
A few of us congregate downstairs in the Captains Rest and Chris Daly opens with his take on the Foo Fighters Wheels. He’s got a rough country tinged element to his voice that lends itself to the material. He’s also has a rawness that permeates his performance and it’s good. If it was smoothed out then he would sound just like so many other people who proliferate wherever anyone gives them a stage and a mic.
He then did a couple of originals that were of a pretty high standard before finishing on Use Somebody by the Kings of Leon. He stumbled on the lyrics of that one, but carried it off with a bit of easy charm.
I would have preferred to have seen him play a bit longer, but have to give him credit for what he did. This is a guy thrown in at the deep end to play in front of a handful of people he doesn’t know in a basement. That takes some bollocks.
Next the Tragic City Thieves took to the small stage and all the anger, disappointment and sheer fucked-off-ness of the day spewed out of them in what must be one of the most exhilarating gigs I have seen them play.
When a bands backs are against the wall and they are under pressure then this is when you can tell if they have what it takes, and they have it in spades.
They could have easily used this as a glorified practice session, but instead played like rock and roll gods strutting a festival stage in front of thousands of adoring fans.
Everything was on fire. Faster, louder and wilder than I’ve previously seen them.
Stuarts fingers fly over the frets, Div is assaulting the drums, Jim is acting like a man possessed and in the centre of it all CJ grinds, howls, struts, shimmies and shakes like his life depends on it.
It’s very obvious that he is exorcising the demons of the day through this performance.
Then it all goes off kilter again as his guitar cuts out. It’s thrown savagely to the side and Stuart loses a couple of strings, but they aren’t stopping for anyone now and fire into Lady Machine.
CJ is off the stage and writhing on the floor. Everything is about to hit a climax and when the song comes to an end he launches himself into the drum kit. Div kicks it all out like he’s the bastard son of Keith Moon and Jims bass is cast aside contemptuously.
There is no going back from that.
This is what people who regularly go to gigs wait for. The one show where they know that the band has went beyond performing and are at the mercy of whatever it is that drives them.
In thirty years of attending gigs I have only seen this happen on a handful of times. It is a very rare occurrence and once you have seen it happen then it serves to enforce a lifelong quest to see it again and again. It’s shows like this that make all the mediocre ones worth attending. You never know when you will witness it and because if this you don’t want to miss anything.
Personally I’m glad I was there. I wouldn’t swap it for anything, and I’m glad that there are bands like the Tragic City Thieves that just don’t know how to lie down and take the kicks.
For a while now I’ve thought that they are the best live band to come out of Scotland in a long time, and last night they proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s just a shame that so many people missed it.
If they had been there then they would have been talking about it for years to come.

Thursday 25 March 2010

The Courteeners/Goldhawks - Glasgow Academy 24/3/10

What the fuck is wrong with people?
I’m standing in the Academy watching a band that to all intents and purposes tick every box for the indie loving kids and no one appears to be giving much of a toss. My heart bleeds for them.
It’s especially galling because give it a year and it is entirely possible they will be gracing the main stages of all the summer festivals, and this very same crowd will be swearing that Goldhawks are the only band who matter.
So what’s the score with the apathetic response?
Well I’m going to go out on a limb here and probably offend some people, but to me it’s because in the main the punters who fill venues this size are fuckin’ sheep. They’re unwilling to give this band the reception that they deserve because right at this moment in time they don’t exist to them.
Until they grace the cover of NME, appear on T4 on the Beach, or make the play list for Radio One, they will lack the validation from the UKs entertainment axis of evil and therefore fail to register with the crowd. It’s a bit crap isn’t it?
Even when they are ten feet away playing an impassioned set of indie rockers that occupy the middle ground between the stadium rock of U2 and the artistic integrity of Echo and the Bunnymen, or The Teardrop Explodes, there is nothing coming back at them. This is a band who are playing their little rock star hearts out and they may as well be bouncing on the bed with a tennis racket in their hands playing air guitar to the mirror for all the response they are getting.
It’s actually a strange and surreal sight to see.
If this was a live video shoot the camera would capture the band in full flow and then pan round to show an ecstatic crowd sprawled out as far as the eye could see.
That’s the way it should play out.
Instead the effort they are putting into their performance halts abruptly at the stage lip, and even if they sweated blood for this crowd it wouldn’t matter. At this moment in time Goldhawks are on the outside waiting to be let in. Unfortunately the majority are waiting for someone else to open the door and let them in before they say hello. Like I said. Bloody sheep.
Then prior to the Courteeners coming on the crowd expend a great deal of effort in bouncing about to an intro track that features Oasis and Kasabian. How mental is that? They will go nuts over a tape getting played, but can’t even raise a smile for a band who where right there in front of them doing the business with talent, style and panache.
From the response from the crowd you would have expected that the actual bands had just taken to the stage in the flesh for a surprise appearance. It’s nuts.
From where I’m standing I can see a steady stream of young men getting punted out by the security. The headliners haven’t even managed to reach the stage and it’s over for them. Oasis and Kasabian have served to encourage them to prematurely ejaculate their testosterone. They shot the bolt too early and it’s time for an early bath. What a bunch of fannies.
If the response of the crowd was verging on the ludicrously intense at this point it was nothing to what it was like when The Courteeners did appear. The crowd surged Tsunami like forward and then the jumping about erupted full force and continued unabated throughout the whole show.
This was the Glasgow crowd that I remembered from my teens. A heaving mass who stood toe to toe with a band and gave as much as they were getting, if not more.
The Courteeners probably knew that in this atmosphere that they would have to deliver and they did.
The last time I seen them was in a tent in Hyde Park and they appeared to be still at the stage of getting to grips with the publicity surrounding them. At that point they were a band who were experienced in playing clubs and were still to step up to the bigger stages of the world. Yet here they were effortlessly taking that step as if it was nothing much of consequence.
The Courteeners with their Mancunian kitchen sink vignettes have taken Glasgow by storm. I’m not too sure of it is reciprocated, but Glasgow loves Manchester. Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths James, Happy Mondays and Oasis have all found spiritual homes here and now it is the turn for The Courteeners. Glasgow has taken them to their hearts and outside of Manchester I doubt that they will get a reception like they do here.
Recent album Falcon is heavily plundered with the live versions of the tracks being far more muscular sounding than expected. This serves to allow the material to sit comfortably with the songs from their debut . Everything flows, pulses, pushes onwards and maintains the tempo. It’s pretty relentless, but no one is flagging. It’s a mass sweating singalong.
The usual plaudits for the crowds reaction are thrown out from Liam Fray. He loves us, thinks were great, the best etc etc, but there seems to be a genuine openness about his remarks. There isn’t a hint of disingenuous bullshit. He sincerely appears taken aback by the crowds reaction to the band.
Like most enjoyable gigs this one zipped past and before we knew it they were that’s them off to London to back Liam Gallagher up in his first solo gig. So no encores, but who cares because it looked like they had given us their all.
The band exited the stage, the lights came up and the crowd trickled away still singing as if they were on the terraces. This went on unabated right out onto the street. If the band had shouted everyone back then I doubt anyone would have cared about last trains home, or work in the morning and just jumped right back in there. So when people say you really had to be there I guess this is the types of night they mean.
Next time they come back it will be at the SECC. No doubt about it.
Goldhawks free track -

Nothing to do with the Courteeners gig, but here's a link to a site with some live sessions. Amongst the artists included are Iggy and the Stooges, The Fall, QOTSA.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Everybody needs somebody

It’s difficult to describe how I felt when I first heard Birdland. What they were playing wasn’t new to me. It was just that all the bands I liked that peddled this style of rock roll were a couple of decades older and this was a band that was current, and for a split second hip. I remember feeling that for once everyone was on the same page as me. People got it. References of all my favourite bands proliferated whenever Birdland were reviewed. Fantastic I thought. This was the dawning of a new era I thought.
I was wrong.
They turned out to be a band whose star burned bright and then quickly faded, and fate has dictated that they will forever be relegated to occasionally appearing in ‘where are they now’ columns.
Our loss.
So as I know there are a few fans out there and the Paradise CD is hard to find I thought I would compile all their singles together for you to enjoy. If you like them remember to go out and buy their one and only self titled album, and if you can, then grab the Paradise CD to.
Hollow Heart, Paradise, Sleep with me, RocknRoll Nigger, Everybody needs somebody.

Alternative Histories

I did these sleeves and reviews for a section in a fanzine I was doing. So please don't go looking for them. They only exist in my fevered imagination.

The Sex Pistols - In it for the money
They're back.
Rising older and wiser from the wreckage of that disastrous US tour that was nearly the death of the band - and Sid - they have returned to the fray ready and more than willing to lead the pack from the front.
Effortlessly they've silenced the critics who held up the glut of shoddy compilations as proof that they were a one trick pony.
This, their second studio album, is set to take music in a whole new direction.
Not punk music, or music for myopic droogs as John Lydon (as he would now like to be called) put forward, but music in general.
Already it's mired in controversy as the heavy dub that is the signature sound of this album is something that few can believe Sid is capable of.
Rumours that another John AKA Jah Wabble is the bassist could well be true, but the Pistols camp are remaining tight lipped about it.
Who plays on it is irrelevant anyway as John Lydon has steered the band forward into unexplored territory.
There are hints of space rock, glam rock and traditional rockabilly all battered into submission under that heavy, heavy bass. No band has ever managed to meld so many styles together to make a sound that works on this level. It sounds right. It sounds complete. Everything fits.
Lydon. Jones, Cook and maybe Vicious have worked as sonic alchemists here.
This is the sound of the future and it's here now.
All Hail The Pistols.

Howard Devoto's Buzzcocks - ST
The story of Manchester's Buzzcocks has been a long and convoluted one. It's also one that has been heavily reported in the music press. So we are all aware that in the race to get an album out Pete Shelley managed to pip Howard Devoto to the post with last months 'Another music in a different kitchen' under the Buzzcocks name, but who would have thought that Devoto would stand by his claim to the name and follow suit so soon after?
It may be a bit confusing to some but on giving them a listen it could be argued that one is the yin to the others yang.
Between the two releases we could have had Spiral Scratch extended to over an hour, but instead we separately get the best of both worlds.
Devoto has managed to side step the pop overtones of his previous writing partner and created a somewhat austere and grandiose ode to the end of an era.
It sounds like Shelley's Buzzcocks are still waiting to get the girl, while Devoto's is casting a weary eye over a lifetime of decadent indugence with equal measures of regret and pride.
While others are attempting to discuss the merits of each album without mentioning the other I would argue that this is futile.
As long as both players hang onto the name them it will be impossible to mention one without the other. They are the seperated co-joined twins of the music world.
They needed to part as maturity found them looking in different directions of expression.
So to put it simply, if the joyous part of spiral scratch was your bag then grab yourself Shelley's Buzzcocks and if the jaundiced world weary aspect was what attracted you then here's Devoto's.
No need to get upset about it as in this situation everyone's a winner.

The Clash - Rebel sounds for modern lovers
After Strummer licked his wounds from the debacle that was Cut the crap and Jones mourned the demise of the ill fated Big Audio Dynamite a reunion was always on the cards for the Lennon and McCartney of punk rock.
Yet even with all the hyperbole the return of the only band that matters arrived with more of a whimper than a bang.
Take the worst aspects of Cut the Crap and BAD, pair them together and what you get is 'Rebel sounds for modern lovers.'
Even the title of the album hinted at a dearth of ideas.
Christ. The cover shot is at least four years old.
So what does that tell you?
It's been a slow and torturous decline for a band that once straddled the world.
The main problem seems to be a loss of focus. Do they even know what they want to do now? Do they even know who they are?
In the past they'd been accused of spreading too many ideas too thinly and in hindsight they may well wish that they had stored some of those ideas away and expanded on them now.
Instead we get a rehash of half formulated directionless twaddle.
This is the band you want to like. You want them to win, but if their hearts not in it then why should we continue to support them.
They've shamed themselves with this. Oh why did they even bother. I didn't think it could get any worse than cut the crap, but it just did.

Generation X - Live
A clever marketing move or a genuine thank you to the fans?
Regardless of what side of the fence you sit you can't really knock the most famous band in the world giving a quadruple album away for free.
As each year passes Generation X have failed to put a foot wrong in their climb to the lofty heights of super stardom. From humble beginning they have grown to become the band who everyone looks up to.
Biggest selling album in the world ever. Second biggest selling album in the world ever. The band who played to the largest audience in the world ever. Do I need to go on?
It would be easy to have a dig at them, but a more unassuming bunch of guys it would be hard to meet.
Mention that they gave away half the profits of the largest and most successful tour ever to developing countries and they simply say 'you do what you can.' and sound sincere when saying it.
Then with this release they issue a statement saying that financially they have more money than they could ever spend.
So all their albums from now on are free to the public, and from this day forth any live appearances they make will be for charity events.
Back to the album though. Is it worth grabbing.....even if it is free?
The simple answer is of course it is.
The first album is devoted to the early years playing in clubs, the second to the larger venues, the third to the stadiums and the fourth is an uncut and unvarnished recording of the much sought after acoustic gig that they did for the global hunger campaign.
It's difficult to imagine where they can go from here as this release neatly ties up their whole career.
Essential is an of over used term, but in this case it's apt.
Generation X set the benchmark and it will be a long time, if ever, before anyone can even dream of coming close to emulating their success.

The Ramones - Keep it simple
When Adios Amigos shot straight in at number one in seven countries, making it their biggest selling release to date, the brothers had to retract their threat to disband if it bombed and get back to work on a follow up.
So three years later it's done and dusted, with nothing I mean NOTHING, having changed.
Well I'm a liar. There is one change. The difference is that the Ramones have turned back the clock on the energy dial and attacked this album like teenagers.
The ten tight tracks scream that they aint gonna **** with the formula, but there's a renewed urgency about how they're delivered.
Tracks like 'I don't wanna like you' and 'Get with the program' are prime slices of simplified rock and roll while 'I don't want you to leave' could be straight from the Brill building via CBGBs.
You could keep the first two albums and this one as desert island discs and rotate them daily for eternity and never get bored with them.
If I was in the band I would bow out on this one.
I can't see how Ramones fans could ask for anything more from them.
So it would be best to go out on a high. They don't have anything to prove now.
They did it. They showed everyone that there was life in the old dog and now they can sit back and let the young whippersnappers get on with playing catch up.
Keep it simple. I couldn't have said it any better.

Stiff Little Fingers - A tribute to Bob Marley
Motorway service station bargain bin fodder by the once mighty punk warriors who now feel the need to torture the songs of an icon with the stick of mediocrity.

and here's a couple I did without reviews.



Monday 22 March 2010

BBC6 US PUNK Documentary on iplayer

Listen to this quickly as they only have it up for a week. From the garage sounds of the Sonics to the CBGBs scene and all points in between. 2Hours of listening pleasure.

The boy looked at Johnny

When people think about punk rock bad boys they usually jump to the cartoon buffoonery of Sid Vicious and the myths that have sprung up around him. Take a step back and reconsider though. Wasn’t Sid just a babe in the woods stumbling about from one disaster to another following the breadcrumb trail left by the real kings of debauchery? All poor Sid wanted to do was emulate his heroes. He was a shadow dancer, a mere wannabe.
The real deal was of course Johnny Thunders. The former guitar slinger of the mighty NewYork Dolls, the leader of the Heartbreakers who walked it like he talked it.
Often drug addled, occasionally obnoxious and a human car wreck in the making, but also the possessor of an innate talent to effortlessly play dirty rock and roll that very few others can manage.
He was thee anti-hero of the punk scene. A wandering troubadour whose shows were legendary for being hit or miss affairs. On a bad night he could be a stumbling slurring wreck who could barely stand up never mind deliver a song or hold a guitar, but on a good night, well on a good night there was no one like him. He was a force of nature, bullet proof and seemingly immortal. On those nights everything revolved around him. He was the king of the jungle.
The press will make much of how he was clean, and had been for a while, when he met his end with an overdose in New Orleans. They will hint at dodgy dealings and conspiracies, but the fact is that no one can really be surprised at his demise. He flirted with death often enough. He danced with the devil whenever he rolled up his sleeve and raised a vein. The thing is he did it once too often.
He walked the tightrope for so long that he maybe thought that he would never fall.
Stumble, yes, but never fall. Unfortunately just like other junkies he did fall and left us agreeing with him that you can’t put your arms around a memory.
He wasn’t the first to shuck his mortal coil in this manner and he damn well wont be the last, and while some would mourn his passing I’d like to think that when we look back at what he did then maybe we can agree that he lived a couple or more lifetimes in one.
It was a wild trip and he squeezed a hell of a lot into it. Much more than most of us ever will.
So maybe, just maybe, what he really died of was old age. His mortal self just couldn’t keep up with his spirit. He grabbed life and rolled in the gutter with it until it decided that it was finished with him. He was never going to win, but what a glorious fight it was.
Yep. This boy looked at Johnny and took a lesson from him.
1. Leave Me Alone (Chatterbox) - Patti Palladin
2. Disappointed in You - Mike Monroe
3. In Cold Blood (Not in Vain) - Arthur Kane
4. Children Are People Too - Wayne Kramer
5. Some Hearts - David Johansen
6. Society Mades Me Sad - Sylvain Sylvain
7. Just Another Girl - Alison Gordy
8. Can't Kick - Filthy Lucre
9. You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory - Willy DeVille
10. Diary of a Lover - Die Toten Hosen,
11. I Love You - The Ramones
12. Let Go - Walter Lure
13. So Alone
14. Alone in a Crowd - Los Lobos
15. Help the Homeless
1. Joey Joey
2. As Tears Go By
3. Disappointed In You
4. Sad Vacation
5. Copy Cat
6. Lydia
7. In Cold Blood
8. Children
9. You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory
10. Bring It On Home
11. Eve Of Destruction
12. You Can Walk My Dog
13. It's Not Enough
14. So Alone

Saturday 20 March 2010

Jana Peri Interview

ElD - This isn’t your first visit to these shores but there’s still a pioneering spirit to it all. Is it a scary proposition heading out on the road as a girl and her guitar so far from home?

JP - I don’t feel it’s scary at all. It’s exciting! As an only child, I’ve always been a very independent person. I’m all for adventure and if I could manage to do this on a much more regular basis, I most certainly would. I did a solo UK tour in 2004, so this is a pretty similar experience. I booked all the gigs myself and am playing three venues where I’ve played before. I have to admit that traveling and gigging alone is not as much fun as having my band with me (as on our 2005 UK tour), but it’s very rewarding in a different way. I really do feel like a pioneer and also an ambassador for the US in general and New York City in particular.

ElD - Older punk fans, like myself, have a romanticised view of New York. It’s like the crucible where a certain style and sound was forged. New York Dolls, Ramones, CBGBs, Max’s etc. What’s the reality like in comparison to the fantasy?

JP - I have a romanticized vision of New York too! I’m madly in love with NYC and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Unfortunately, as far as the music scene is concerned, sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy. I know in Glasgow there’s a big pay-to-play thing going on which I find disgusting. There’s not as much of that within NYC as you find in the suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but there’s a lot of pressure from club bookers to bring in a certain number of people to see you. Many of them don’t care at all about what the music sounds like as long as a lot of people are coming through the door. As a result, sometimes the bill is not a good one with bands that are just plain horrible or don’t mesh well together musically. The music scene is definitely not what it once was in the heyday of all the bands you mentioned (which I should point out was well before my time!), but there is still good music here. It’s sometimes hard to feel a sense of community among musicians in NYC, but it’s definitely there if you look for it. Many of the musicians and scenesters from the old CBGB’s days are still around and I regularly hang out with them. As time goes by, I get to meet and work with more of my heroes both in NYC and abroad. It just shows that if you hang onto your dreams and keep plugging away, you can still find happiness and deep satisfaction in playing original music and feel that you belong to a musical heritage, even if it’s not always financially rewarding.

ElD - And do you feel the same way about the UK’s musical heritage, as you’re an unabashed fan of the sixties Brit invasion bands aren‘t you?

JP - Oh, I’m a ridiculous anglophile. It all started with The Beatles and just exploded from there. Why do you think I keep going back to Liverpool? I’m making a pilgrimage.

ElD - How did you initially manage to get here while so many other New York band/acts who are playing the club circuit don’t? (I think the last one I seen was The Blame and they were financially running on empty to make it work.) Do you think that it might be just a case that they lack the imagination to make the leap from a comfortable local scene to the big scary world out there?

JP - That’s an interesting question. I never thought about that before. Most of my musician friends are the kind of people who do tour when they have the opportunity. I think a lot of people (not just musicians) are just very provincial and don’t do a lot of traveling. They don’t have that strong a sense of adventure or curiosity about exploring other cultures and it just wouldn’t occur to them to even bother. They’re really missing out. But also for musicians, there is the financial burden of touring and if you don’t have someone to do it for you, you need to be a good planner and business person to know how to coordinate everything. I’m a musician, manager, booker, travel agent, publicist and roadie all rolled into one. Did I mention how tired I am?

ElD - Do you think people appreciate how difficult all this is though? I mean I sometimes get the impression that it’s a commonly held opinion that bands just turn up, plug in and play. The background grind of travelling expenses, accommodation and feeding yourself just doesn’t seem to register.

JP - That really shouldn’t be the concern of an audience. They are there to be entertained. It’s a show. No one needs to know what’s going on behind the scenes.

ElD - Will you ultimately look back on this and gloss over the trials and tribulations and just think that you did it. You went out there and did what so many other people didn’t?

JP - Absolutely. Broken suitcase handle, guitar in disrepair…you get through it because you have to. Sometimes things that are difficult at the moment they are occurring are really funny in retrospect. I was just having a discussion about that at Nice N Sleazy with my friend Nathan Crowley who a guitarist with the Liverpool band, Sound Of Guns. We were trading stories about less than stellar accommodations while on tour. On my last UK tour, my band, along with our tour manager and a videographer, spent one night in a filthy house in which every surface was covered in dirty laundry and open food. We were afraid to touch anything. All of us attempted to sleep in this one room (with all our clothes on!) and we couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it all was. At the time it was awful, but now it’s a fond memory. Nathan told me a story about how his band stayed in some hotel that had half a toilet seat in the bathroom. They went out and when they returned to their room, the other half was gone!

ElD - So what is the ultimate aim for you?

JP - Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture and for me, it’s really more about conquering immediate goals than it is about getting an end result anyway. Ultimately, I would like to find a way to generate more income from my original music and find other people to help me so that I don’t have so much stress and can be more comfortable financially. And if I have more money, it means I can more readily tour and record when I want to. But money is not at all why I do what I do. I love it – pure and simple.

ElD - Back to the tour. It’s a bit haphazard with you bouncing around the country a bit. London first then a cross country trip for Glasgow tonight before working your way back down south to Manchester and then Liverpool. That’s a lot of miles on the clock. Wouldn’t it have been easier starting in Glasgow and working down or vice-versa?

JP - There’s nothing haphazard about it. I planned everything very carefully. When I began booking this tour, I didn’t know that I was going to be playing in Glasgow. I knew that I needed to be in London one weekend and Liverpool the next and then I just filled in the blanks. I was toying with the idea of going to Dublin because like Scotland, I’d never been to Ireland before, but I decided it would be easier to stay on the mainland. I had also heard from a few people that Glasgow was a great city for music, so I wanted to check it out for myself.

ElD - Your album ’Catching Flies with Vinegar’ came out in 2005. How much does it still represent you as an artist? Do you feel there is a ‘that was then, and this is now’ aspect to it? How far have you moved on since then?

JP - There’s no question that I’m always evolving as a musician and songwriter, and even as a person, so things are going to change. However, Catching Flies With Vinegar is still an excellent representation of who I am as an artist and that will never change. Some of the songs on Catching Flies With Vinegar were already around for years when I recorded them. The main difference in my songwriting now that I’m older is that I’m not focused on writing about personal relationships anymore. I’m much happier and more comfortable in my own skin these days so my newer material reflects that. I’ve always had a good sense of humor and it’s always come across in my writing, but now I’m concentrating more on observation and commentary about things outside of my personal life. I even like to role play on occasion by inhabiting an imagined character and writing from his or her perspective.

Eld - You worked with Daniel Rey on the album. How did you manage to grab his attention and secure his services as a producer?

JP - Although Daniel lives very near to me and we have mutual friends, I didn’t get to know him until we recorded together. I first met Daniel briefly when I was assisting with publicity for the original Joey Ramone Birthday Bash that took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC in 2001, shortly after Joey’s death. Then in 2004, when I was ready to record a new album and was looking for a producer, somebody suggested Daniel. I was reintroduced to him at a party at a bar and we arranged to meet. We just got together at his apartment, I told him about my plans and described what I was looking for and he agreed to do the project.

ElD - Do you think that his involvement helped raise your profile at the time?

JP - To some degree. Any association with The Ramones can only be a positive thing. More importantly, he helped me achieve what I wanted in the studio. Also, he’s a damn good guitar player and added a lot of dimension to the recording.

ElD - So what’s in the pipeline now? You must have new material that’s been honed on the road just waiting to be laid down in a studio.

JP - I do have some great material that I’m itching to record, but not quite enough finished to put out a new album yet. I need to spend more time focusing on writing and not just playing. I just released a brand new digital single called “I Hate The Holidays (But I Love Spending Them With You) last November and I’m dying to get back into the studio and do more.

Contact -

To buy Jana Peri material online just jump over to

Friday 19 March 2010

Stiff Little Fingers - Glasgow Barrowlands 17/3/10

The last time that I was in the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow the experience jarred with my rose tinted memories from yesteryear. The security stopped just short of giving me a cavity search and guests at Guantanamo Bay probably had their human rights respected more than I did that night.
Then there were the signs every few feet telling the patrons not to crowd surf, not to throw drinks, not to take photographs, not to smoke and while they are basic requirements the plethora of posters telling us what not to do only served to give us the impression that smiling and dancing would also be frowned upon. The place was in negative equity that night. It didn’t matter how much you were going to put into enjoying yourself. It was still going to be touch and go if you did.
Thankfully they appear to have had a rethink about how this heavy handed approach has an impact on their customers and their enjoyment of the night. The signs have vanished and all I got was a little pat down from the guy on the door.
So straight from the word go this was a far more pleasurable experience than previously.
Once we headed upstairs we had a look at the merchandise, and as a regular gig goer I will have to say that no one beats SLF when it comes to merchandise. Realistic prices, options for package deals, an avoidance of tacky shite, and best of all customer service with a smile.
Kelly bought a t-shirt, ten badge set and a poster package that came to twenty quid. Everything was of the best quality and I seriously doubt that any other band is going to offer a better deal than that.
Inside the hall the place was starting to fill up so we took a prime spot down the front against the barrier and within a short while Combat Rock came on.
Now on a positive note I’ll say that Combat Rock are up there in the premier league of Clash covers bands. They don’t slavishly try to copy Strummer, Jones and co note for note and pose for pose, but they do have the essence of the Clash and punters of a certain age love them.
So while I did enjoy their set I would still have to say that I would rather have seen a relatively new band getting the slot, or even an older punk band making a rare appearance in Scotland.
Their securing of the support slot didn’t take anything away from the night though. So it’s a minor gripe.
Once they had warmed the crowd up it wasn’t long until Stiff Little Fingers arrived to a reception that would usually be reserved for the second coming of some guy who says his fathers the big cheese of everything. This St Patrick Day gig by the band has reached legendary status with people travelling from near, far and very very far to see what it’s all about. Probably because it has taken on such a status SLF know that this is the night, more so than any other, that they really have to go for it. If they give 100% every other gig then this is the one they have to put in 110.
For some bands starting with one of their most loved tracks means that everything is going to go downhill from that point on, but not for these lads.
They have a wealth of top notch material to dip into and tonight all the favourites are pumped out. There was also a few surprises when they threw forward some songs that are rarely played. Bits of kids had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as did Listen, a song that is one of my all time SLF favourites.
Another highlight from early in the set was Strummerville. As a Clash fan I don’t think that anyone has come as close to SLF in expressing the loss many people felt when Strummer passed. In writing that song Jake managed to eloquently put into words exactly what we all wanted to say. Then when you hear it live it just takes on an even larger persona. It’s a huge song.
The only unrecorded song that was aired was Liars Club. A track that Jake informed us has been getting played for around two years but that they still haven’t gotten around to laying down in the studio. Well all I can say to that is why not? It fits in well with the flow of the rest of the material and it’s a Fingers classic in waiting. That it was originally about Bush and Blair doesn’t really matter. I mean come on. With the expenses row in the UK it needs highlighted that the politicos in positions of power are all members of the Liars Club. It’s a timeless statement, but I want to hear a studio version sooner rather than later. Preferably with and albums worth of material alongside it.
Visually the band are looking as good as you could expect from some aging punks. Jakes never been a pin up, but when you have a talent for belting out anthemic punk rock like he does I would argue that image is a secondary consideration. So who gives a toss if he looks like your uncle.
Personally I’m pleased that Ali is back in the band and it looks like he is to. He’s a dynamo on the stage and you can tell that he gives it his all. There isn’t a moment that he become stationary. It’s all go from start to finish for him. One minute he’s strumming the bass line manically as he hops about and the next he’s modelling a punter from the crowds novelty Irish hat with a ‘look at me I‘m having a blast and I don‘t give a fuck‘ attitude. Throughout it all the grin never leaves his face.
The polar opposite is Ian who has a more workmanlike approach to the performance, and while I can appreciate his playing he still has a little way to go before he looks entirely comfortable up there. As for Steve. Well Steve is a drummers drummer and does what needs to be done. He is rock solid in the back and holds everything together with a fair degree of style. Over all they are a powerful force on stage. There is no real messing about or posturing. I guess the point I want to make is they walk it like they talk it. None of them are carrying any slack for each other.
Over all the gig reaffirmed my faith in the band and my reservations about attending the St Pats show have all but gone now.

The only downsides of the night had absolutely nothing to do with the band. Early on in the set I was receiving lovely little kicks and knees to the back of my legs and regular kidney punches. This wasn’t the usual argy bargy you get down the front and obviously whoever was behind me was wanting my prime spot. As the crowd was a bit tight I couldn’t get moving around to have a word until a lull, and by the time I did my patience had all but gone. Basically I was well past the point of politely asking them to pack it in. Strangely enough when I did manage to turn round I found my assailant was a small woman who I reckon was in her thirties and was lucky if she was hitting the five foot mark. So all I did was give her the evil eye and she fucked off, but then the next morning when I woke up my lower back was aching and I was thinking that maybe my gentlemanly opinion that you shouldn’t lamp women is something I should reconsider.
The other thing is that there always appears to be a group of men in the crowd who can’t tell the difference between exuberant and boisterous enjoyment of a show and aggressive macho posturing.
I have a theory about them and it’s that they haven’t been to any gigs for over a decade and are having a bit of a mid life crisis and are therefore revisiting their youth.
That’s why you always get them at gigs by SLF, The Damned and their ilk.
I’d also hazard a guess that they also don’t get out much. So when they do they get completely rat arsed and make absolute tits of themselves, and that’s fair enough, but when young fans and women can’t get anywhere near the stage because a fat bald forty five year old is wanting to show how hard he is by acting like a human bowling ball while spastically elbowing everyone out of the way then I think that it’s time he had a reality check and just fucked off.
So if you recognize this person from the description and it is you then to be really honest about it listen to this. NO ONE CAN BE FUCKED WITH YOU. Like SLF say. GET A LIFE.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Resurrection by comma

I just had a live review printed in the magazine 'record collector'.
It's here, but after my initial tingle of excitement it was drawn to my attention that a misplaced coma from the magazine editing department has changed the whole thrust of the review.

Going by their blistering performance in front of this near-capacity crowd, Department-S appear to have taken ‘nostalgia be damned’ as their motto. With barely a nod to their past, with Vaughan Toulouse at the helm they seem hell bent on careening forward into the unknown with a rejuvenated game-plan. Their songs from yesteryear, including the hit Is Vic There?, sounded punchier, brighter and more urgent than expected. And new material such as a glamtastic cover of My Coo Ca Choo and single, Wonderful Day, were met with an ecstatic response. While many of their peers are happy to regurgitate their catalogue, this is a band who may be about to show the world that they are more relevant than ever. With a new album in the pipeline and more dates, we’ll be hearing a lot more from them this year.

Reading this you would be forgiven for thinking that Vaughan Toulouse had risen from the grave to lead the band. The truth is that Edward Lloyd Barnes is the man storming ahead with the vocals. I did wax lyrical about his performance, but in their wisdom 'Record Collector' edited that out.
It just shows that the pen is mightier than the sword. I mean when have you heard of a sword bringing anyone back from the dead.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Rip off fees

Recently I have become increasingly hacked off at how much is being added onto ticket prices. The hidden costs that inflate the face price for us all.
What I want is a realistic booking fee rather than the think of a number and double it approach that we seem to have at the moment.
I want to know why there is a credit card fee, often per ticket when it is the one transaction, when there is none if I use my card online to purchase anything else.
And when I buy four tickets I don't want to pay individual postage and then get my tickets in the one envelope with the one stamp on it.
So instead of just bitching about it I formed a facebook group.
Join it here.!/group.php?gid=10150144884825160
Spread the word as much as you can. Thank you.

Jana Peri

Up until a few weeks ago I had never been in Pivo Pivo, but here I was again sidling up to the bar and getting a drink in. It's a nice set up, but I've yet to see it full.
Maybe they need to get out there and promote, promote and promote.
Tonight it's a four band bill and I'm there to see New York city girl Jana Peri play an acoustic set of punky power pop gems. From Ramones styled rockers to country work outs she runs the gamut of rock chick staples and does so with aplomb, but more about Jana later as first up we had a very young and nervous man who I didn't catch the name of. It doesn't matter though as I doubt I will see him again. Well not intentionally.
He started off with some technical problems and had to borrow a guitar from Jana before he could get the show on the road. Then he regaled us with some mumbled songs, a couple of which were covers.
Have you ever imagined what a Libertines song would sound like if the Proclaimers did it? No, neither had I, but let me tell just say that the reality is far worse than anything you could come up with.
Near the end he managed to do an awful version of a rap song about someone licking his lollipop. I think it was supposed to be sort of so bad that some people would think it had a strange charm. It didn't.
The next band up are touting themselves about as The Morra, and I can only assume this is until they can find themselves a real band name, but regardless of having one of the worst names going they are actually a shit hot band.
The impression that I got was that they would probably all have been indie kids a few years ago and then someone bought a 13th Floor Elevators album and they never looked back. (Don't expect any jugs though.)
They are gifted guys and while I'll admit to being clueless as to who they would appeal to I don't really care as I liked them.
Finally the lady we had come to see graced the stage.
I thought that some of the energy that a band would bring to the performance would be missing, but I was wrong. Jana (pronounced Ja-Na) for her small stature dominates the stage with her big voice, and it's very obvious that she isn't from these shores. She carries herself with the history of the New York scene as baggage. She's CBGBs, she's the Continental, She's the grit under the cities nails and the neon glow of its night life.
The set that she's promoting tonight relies heavily on her first full length release 'Catching Flies with Vinegar', with the stripped down acoustic versions still effectively conveying her new york sassiness.
A song like 'I wanna rock' might initially sound like a walking cliche, but lyrically it's fun and more tongue in cheek than a first listen would lead you to believe, while the rousing 'L.A. Girl' highlighted that east coast Americans, like us, don't really get the vacant west coast barbie doll types either. In an eclectic set Jana even managed to squeeze in a country track called 'I'll be Gone' that once again shows Jana to have a wicked sense of humour, and that she's probably not a woman to mess with.
It would be fair to say that this is the sort of serendipitous gig that reaffirms my faith in stepping out and just seeing what gets thrown up. The only downside was that all too soon the set was nearing its end. To finish the show off we get a couple of tracks from her self titled debut ep. The song 'Dating sucks', is a track that could be a manifesto for ladies of a certain age, and 'The La La Song' is an evocative ode to her last visit to the UK.
I sincerely hope that she returns to Europe sooner rather than later, and that next time she manages to drag her band over with her. If she does I'll be there. Hell, even if it's another solo show I'll still be there.
Take it from me, this lady is a class act.
If she's playing anywhere near you then do yourself a favour and grab a ticket. It'll be worth it. Guaranteed.
The night grinds to a finish with Frances and her trampoline, a band who initially did nothing for me when I checked them out on myspace, but edged me towards reluctantly giving them some kudos for their funky angular post punk live sound. Now all they have to do is capture that in the studio. Good luck to them.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Grab a ticket

The Batusis

Cheetah Chrome(Ex-Dead Boys)
Sylvain Sylvain (NY Dolls)
Enzo Penizzotto(Joan Jett)
Thommy Price on drums (Mike Monroe/Joan Jett)

Glasgow ABC2 (May 3)
Sheffield O2 Academy2 (May 4)
Liverpool O2 Academy2 (May 5)
London Islington Academy (May 7)
Hatfield Forum Attic Room (May 8)
Oxford Academy2 (May 10)
Southampton Joiners (May 11)
Bristol O2 Academy2 (May 12)
Birmingham O2 Academy2 (May 13)

Sunday 7 March 2010

A comedic interlude

Not for the faint of heart. If tales of inserting vibrating eggs up your anus isn't your thing then you might not find much to laugh about when listening to Jim Jeffries, but as it wasn't my anus I found him offensively hilarious. You might not need any lube to listen to this, but it's maybe best to have some at hand as some people seem to think he can be a tad abrasive.

Big space here. So I guess I should tell you a joke.
A guy goes to the doctor and says 'I work in a pickle factory and every shift I get the urge to stick my cock in the pickle slicer. What can I do?'
So the doctor says 'Look this is pretty serious. You must do everything within your power not to stick your cock in the pickle slicer. I'll have to refer you to a psychiatrist about this and that might take a few weeks, but promise me that you will resist this urge.'
The guy says he will do the best he can and leaves.
A few weeks later he's back and as soon as he gets into the doctors office he blurts out 'I couldn't resist. I had to give in and yesterday I stuck my cock in the pickle slicer.'
The doctor is aghast and asks him if he is okay.
They guy says he's fine, but has lost his job.
The doctor then says 'but what about the pickle slicer?'
To which he replies 'Oh, she got sacked to'
Boom tish.

Friday 5 March 2010

Free and legal Blondie track

I never really get tired of Blondie. So it's nice to hear something new from them, and even nicer that they have decided to give us a listen for free.
This is their studio version of 'We three Kings', a track that has been showcased live a few times recently, and is being used here as a taster for the album due for release sometime this year. If the original material that they come up with is as good as this then I'm going to be more than happy.

More free and legal stuff here.
It's a track from the new Rocky Erickson album.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Sit back and enjoy.

As a few people digged the Cherrykicks demos here's some more of the guys. This time it's from the split that they did with a band called The Poisoning. Hold onto your hats though as this is a very different band. Harder, faster and more brutal in their approach and if I'm honest while I think it's alright I would rather have a slice of the earlier incarnation.

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are a band that live up to their strange moniker. Try to force them into a neat little niche and they will turn around and bite. So it's best just to keep them at arms length. This is an ep they released and unlike most bands who might add a bonus track or two they added a disc with a full concert on it. So if this is the sort of thing that gets your juices flowing then give me a shout and I'll see what I can do about the live disc.
This is one of my bargain bin finds from yesterday. I remember buying the first seven inch single that they released. At the time they were being touted as the next big thing by Alan McGee who discovered Oasis. While it was pretty meaty it didn't live up to the hype, but then again how many of the bands pushed forward by Alan McGee ever do. Regardless of not being everything that they were supposed to be I thought that they did have some promise and could have done with being eased into the spotlight rather than thrown forward. Like the Dolls said 'too much too soon'. They did record another album after this, but their boat appears to have sailed without them. Bit of a shame really.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Finland Rocks like a MOFO

Finland didn't just give us Hanoi Rocks. (although some people would be forgiven for thinking this was the case.) They also threw up Smack, a band that time appears to have forgotten. It's a bit difficult to understand why though, because to put it bluntly they had it all. Sounding like the house band for a party that the Rolling Stones had arranged in honour of the NY Dolls they encapsulated the harder ege of the glam scene and in many peoples opinion could have went on to far greater success than they did. Unfortunately their singer succumbed to the age old spectre of addiction though, and left the story unfinished. Now we will never know what the future could have held for them, but here on their sophomore release you can get a glimpse of what maybe could have been.

The Screaming Stukas blew me away when I first heard them and for months after picking up the album I went into rabid search mode to find out who they were. It turned out that they were from Finland and had just finished an unsuccessful UK tour before apparently dropping off the face of the planet. There was scant information anywhere and I ended up filing them away as a band who where a bit of an anomily in the rock world. They appeared to have surfaced from nowhere and then vanished just as fast. They were a complete mystery. Well a complete mystery to me up until a couple of weeks ago that is. I was online looking something up that was unrelated to them and their name popped up from that I discovered that they actually had a long career under a different name. It turns out that in their homeland they are called Tehosekoitin and have enjoyed a fair amount of success. The idea of The Screaming Stuka was a label one. They thought that the band could translate a bunch of their stuff over into English and have a stab at a wider market under a different name, but when that didn't transpire they were dropped like a hot potato. Further proof that record labels are run by the clueless because with a bit of effort and hardcore promotion the Screaming Stukas could have definitely garnered a higher profile than they did. Listen to this and tell me I'm wrong. I dare you.
Meanwhile if anyone can sort me out with some Tehosekoitin then it would be mucho appreciated.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Things I hate. Part one

For me I hate anything that can breath and too many inanimate objects to mention.
There. That about covers it.

To be more specific though I hate supermarkets, but then again that's not strictly true.
I hate how people who go to supermarkets appear to drop IQ points the longer that they are connected to a trolley or basket.
In particular I hate people who drag trolleys behind them and are therefore unaware that the said trolley is going to hit me, block the aisle, crash into a display or be shoved up their arse.
I also have issues with people at checkouts who don't appear to have any concept of the etiquette surrounding making a transaction. Simple things like having the cash to pay for their trolley load.
You would expect that this was a given, but then again there are so many people who fail to manage this simple task that I've obviously been overestimating a huge chunk of the population.
I think that it goes without saying that pensioners shouldn't be allowed to use supermarkets.
Pension day in a supermarket resembles the third circle of hell but instead of smelling of brimstone it's piss and lavender that assaults the senses. Sometimes you can get a hint of it from the car park before you even get into the store.
People with learning disabilities should be limited to doing internet shopping to. I'm a carer. So I know what I'm talking about.
They do things like have a squirt of scooshy cream straight into their mouths as soon as their carers back is turned and then put the can back on the shelf. In groups they will lay siege to the confectionery aisle and leave it looking like an explosion has taken place on quality street. I know none of this is pc, but neither is putting cream on your apple pie laced with hep B.
People who have a trolley load and join the 10 items or less line should be shot. In fact people who have eleven items in a basket should be publicly flogged for pushing their luck.
I'm not a complete vessel of hate. I mean I can show compassion. Recently I read an article about a paedophile and while I was filled with disgust for what he did, it was tempered with a bit of sympathy as he had a history of being abused as a child himself.
However there really is no excuse for bastards abusing the 10 items or less rule. They know exactly what they are doing and therefore should be on the same hate list as a paedo. Maybe a couple of points below them, but no more than three.
So what's the score with supermarkets and why do they work as idiot magnets?

Next. More music coming soon.