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Wednesday 31 August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As the reboot/re-imagining debates rage back and forth regarding their worth I'm still firmly clinging onto the fence.
There's some real howlers out there. No doubt about it, but they aren't all bad.
I sometimes feel that by clinging onto the charm of what amounts to a low budget seventies b-movie - filled with random friends of the director masquerading as actors - that people miss out on the worth of the modern, better budgeted, better SFX laden and possibly better scripted and acted version.
It's as if admitting that the modern one is a worthy remake is a betrayal of the highest order.
I don't really go along with that and consider that each and every one should be judged on its own merits alone.
Personally I thought that the reboot of 'The Hills Have Eyes' had enough suspense and freaky-deaky fuck you moments to blow the original out of the water.
Anyway. The point being is that I seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes and apart from the original Heston version it is up there as one of the best.
Okay, that's not too hard keeping in mind the increasingly poor returns from the franchise, but I'm also adding in the Burton Planet of the Apes here to, and even the rest of the recent reboots we have seen clogging up the cinema guides as well.
If I was to chart the POTA movies then Heston is still at number one, but Rise is a comfortable runner up with the rest trailing behind it.
The reason that I'm quite taken by it is that similar to the original it's setting out some points that hopefully will make people think.
The vicious downward slide of Alzheimers is well played out, as is the animal cruelty angle that is paired with issues of corporate greed.
All sub plots that are worthy of further consideration.
So a bit more than just genetically modified CGI apes throwing the rattle out of the pram as some may think.
My only problem with it was the last quarter felt rushed and plot light.
Possibly even a capitulation to studio execs that were demanding that they could promote it as more of an action movie.
It's certainly action packed, but I much preferred the slow build up of characterization that fills the first three quarters, and in all honesty although I felt it to be a bit anti-climatic in that sense it didn't ruin my over all enjoyment of the film.
So watch yourself. The apes are looking over our shoulders and about to make their move.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

In conversation with Homesick Aldo

If you think the blues is the sound of the past. Something that is rooted in another time and place. Then think again.

ElD - As usual people want to know where you've been, where your at, and where you are going?
So what got you into music, what's the current state of affairs and what's the ultimate plan?

Homesick Aldo - Well right now I'm keeping optimistic about things, cultivating a constant glimmer of hope for the unexpected twists and turns of what's out there while grabbing any positive opportunities that come my way.
I've been around a few interesting places since starting out, and I intend on going everywhere and anywhere that this takes me.
A US road trip is a dream that I'm determined to make a reality, but at the moment I'm concentrating on keeping the momentum going here in the UK.
I'm like a locomotive or something, and I've got to keep going at it until I burn out or pass out.
That's the very loose plan as I see it
If I jump back I guess it all started - as everyone's journey does - when music clicked with me as a listener.
There was a cassette called hits of the sixties way back then that led me to my dads record collection, Led Zep, Cream, the Stones and all that came next.
A BB King cassette was also important to me around then to, but the day I heard Sonny Boy Williamson was the day I decided I wanted to pay tribute to what these people were doing.
The current state of affairs is that I'm just playing gig after gig anywhere that will have me, enjoying the experience and the chance to share the music with others, staying persistent and somewhat hungry for the ultimate goal which is getting on the road and staying on the road.
I just want to stay true to the music I do and enjoy the freedom of the lifestyle that goes with it.

As an exponent of the blues what does it mean to you, and does it have a place in the modern world?

The blues to me is a form of punk.
It's in there as the roots of it. The old records are D.I.Y rough and ready, real working class music.
I like the improvisation and the directness of it all and I love how a guy can take a washboard and be a virtuoso on it and sing and play like his life depended on it.
It can, and should, have a place in the modern world simply because it's real.
However without sounding controversial it is a style of music that attracts failed rock musicians who are trying to make a quick buck, and from the research I have done it seems to have become a plastic tourist attraction in its homeland.
That saddens me.
I mean Eric Clapton is considered a bluesman, no disrespect to him as a musician, but the guys he took it from are mainly forgotten and buried in unmarked graves and that doesn't sit well with me.
I suppose what I mean is that some people copy the blues while others are playing the blues, and that's alright as long as the genuine roots aren't discarded and there is room for us to sing of our own modern experiences while tipping our hats to the originators here and there.

What do you think it was that made you go in a different musical direction than that of many of your peers?

I didn't at first. I briefly played in a band, and quit when they had grand dreams of rock n roll stardom.
I became quite jaded with it all and quit music for a year.
I spent that time locked away reading all the beat generation books, listened to everything and realized that freedom of expression doesn't always have to be in a guitar band, its in Coltranes horn, Kerouacs typewriter, in Warhols pop art, its even spray painted on derelict walls.
So I thought as the harmonica blues is my thing then why not fly in the face of convention and conditioned perceptions of what music should be and just go with it.

Has that made it difficult to get gigs?

Oh yeah. Very! Most promoters don't want to take the chance but I don't let it bother me.
I wont change who I am to suit there venues and current trends. It's a take it or leave it deal, but there's enough people out there who understand what I am trying to do and help me out and it is easier now that what it was when I first started out.
I am noticing of late that there is more of an audience for left field acts anyway which is good.

Is it important to you to maintain a sense of who Homesick Aldo is as an artist?

Yes I don't let anything compromise or threaten that. I couldn't.
I know what it is that I'm am trying to do and nothing would change me.
I'll not latch onto trends, or be told what to play, or what to wear to further myself.
I have seen it happen to musicians. The proverbial sell out.

Who is Homesick Aldo though?
There's the off stage persona and then there's the on stage persona and a gulf between the two.
How much is he a role you are playing, or is Homesick Aldo just an expression of another facet of your personality?
Do you even know?

I'm by nature an introvert, and almost shy, but whatever gets thrown at me, the highs and lows of daily life, Homesick is with me observing shaking his head or laughing manically at the absurdity of it all.
As soon as there is work to be done though the hair get a liberal dose of hairspray, the jacket gets slipped on, the case full of harps gets lifted and with a mic in hand he shoves himself forth to be everything I couldn't be.
Every second of Homesick Aldo's time makes up for being a secluded youth, being an outsider in school and work, and to some extent being a social misfit as perceived by others.
All my frustrations are churned out in the form of Homesick Aldo.
It's still me, just a more confident wilder me.

I know you have some songs on Soundcloud, but how are you going to capture the lightning in a bottle aspect of your live performance in a studio and get it across to people?

It is difficult to capture it, I shouldn't admit this but I never play the same thing twice I don't have the memory to do that and I never work with set lists. It sounds unprofessional but its always worked, maybe a live set recorded would work. That's what I am looking into, in a sense though its comforting to know that there's no expectations for me to play a polished set of songs.
I probably would have moved on from that. I like to keep it spontaneous depending on mood/audience, but yes its looking like a live e.p recorded in a packed out bar (hopefully) is the way to go.

So if you never play the same thing twice are you really hoping to be considered as purely a live performer with recordings just being snapshots of an event?

Yes that's how it seems to be going at the moment.
I would be quite happy to just have a reputation as a live performer above all at the moment, and the recordings just being snapshots of events (a great term for it). I like the idea of them being like souvenirs bootlegs, but spending a day in a studio would be great fun when I think of it so I will leave it with the old "never say never" and just wait and see what transpires.

You can keep up with what Homesick Aldo is doing here, including live dates.
and here's the link to the material upped on soundcloud.
and if you want to contact the man for booking email

Chill out fuckers.

Over the years I've been accused of being virtually every single slang term for a penis and vagina that you could care to consider.
People don't just limit themselves to sexual organs though.
Any word that you could think of that would be considered offensive has been used as a descriptive term for me.
I'm fair game for it as it goes with the territory.
It's always open season on anyone who reviews music.
In fact it seems that it is always open season on anyone who dares express an opinion about virtually anything.
We seem to live in an era where it is acceptable to tell people to shut the fuck up simply because the opinion they hold doesn't mirror our own.
Personally I carry this sort of abuse on broad shoulders that are covered with a thick skin because if anyone wants to put themselves out there stating an opinion then they have to accept that they aren't going to please all of the people all of the time.
There is one problem with this though, and that is the disproportionate response that is often spewed forth.
I can say that a bands performance lacked passion and that equates to the allegation that I'm a cuntish failed musician with a chip on my shoulder.
Someone who would be worthy of listening to if I could only string a sentence or two together, but I can't.
Or if I dare say that 'in my opinion' an artist or band were shite, then more often than not the knee jerk reaction from the band, or their fan(s), is that I should have my pathetic life extinguished with extreme prejudice.
Unsurprisingly I never hear a complaint if I heap praise on a band.
It doesn't matter if I only heard one song or half a song if it is a positive comment made, it's only ever an issue if it's a negative one.
No matter how constructively I coach the negative view in it is always welcomed in a manner similar to that of being told that I've just slaughtered every single human being the person has held close to their heart, and then came back to butt fuck their pets.
I'm sure you can imagine the comments I get when I take the gloves off, cast diplomacy to the side, and say what I really think about a band
I wonder what all this actually says about the people who can't handle a less than positive comment about themselves, or the band they idolize.
(Usually a mates band who they would admit were not destined for stardom if there wasn't a personal connection)
Over the years it would seem that I have also been responsible for at least four bands splitting up due to writing a less than enthusiastic review of their performances.
In each case I'd maybe like to take a degree of responsibility and say that I've done everyone with ears a favour, but in all honesty if a band splits up because I've said that I don't think they are any good then I doubt they had a long and glittering career in entertainment ahead of them anyway.
In fact my comment on them will probably have been used as an excuse as no one ever issues a statement saying they have split up because they are unimaginative and talentless.
Far easier to claim that they are unappreciated and use my review as proof.
The thing is that I genuinely don't have an issue with anyone tearing to shreds how I write.
Criticise away.
I also don't have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me either.
I've lost count of the times I've told people that they are entitled to their opinion while they casually ignore the blatant and continue to accuse me of saying things that are hidden between the lines that only they are aware of.
I'm not the font of all knowledge and no matter how many times anyone accuses me of saying that I am they will never find one utterance where I actually state that.
So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that some people need to reel their fuckin' heads in and get a grip.
If they don't like the comments I make then logically and passionately tear them to shreds.
Even have a laugh and inject some humour into slagging me off.
Feel free to wire in, but curb the internet warrior shite. It's getting old.

Friday 26 August 2011

Chris Helme/Homesick Aldo/The Girobabies/The Fear/Matthew Scott - 19/8/11 (Jollys Sports bar - Kilmarnock)

I was a bit gob smacked by the end of this nights entertainment.
I've banged on often enough about the amount of talent that the west coast of Scotland currently has, but it is only when it is right there in front of you that you can fully appreciate it.
A band called The Fear were new to my ears, but I'm already adding them to a long list of bands that I will have to keep my eye on.
There's a firm thread of bluesy folk music that runs through much of what the current crop of talent do, but it's not as people would expect.
While bands like the Fear will dip into it, they wont let that sound define them and there refusal to become entrenched in a specific genre is what keeps everything fresh.
It's difficult to actually nail down what they are doing.
It's not indie folk in the stile of Mumford and Sons. Far from it in fact, and I wouldn't want anyone thinking that, but instead it's modern roots music.
Simple acoustic guitar and beat box used to fantastic effect.
Another act I hadn't seen before was Matthew Scott who did a mix of original material and some covers.
I'm no longer sure of the covers he did as they paled in comparison when lined up against his self penned songs.
This young guys voice drips soul. You know that saying 'I could listen to him sing the phone book'?
Well it's about Matthew.
If I was him I'd cultivate some confidence and drop the covers. Maybe keep them for an encore, but the future isn't going to lie in resurrecting other peoples material.
Time to get into a studio and get some of the songs out there.
I've been waiting to see the Girobabies for what feels like a very long time now and when it became apparent that die to their heavy schedule of late that only two members would be appearing to do an acoustic set I'll admit that I had reservations.
Reservations that disappeared as soon as they started.
Every positive review that they have cultivated, every plaudit heaped on them, is well deserved.
In an age where people are keen to point out the negatives that people take from their environment and then promote to the wider public, here we have the Girobabies casting a jaundiced eye over social issues and spitting them back at us with humour and a glint in their eyes.
This is the real voice of the people who haven't lost hope.
As social commentary goes they are telling it like it is and if you can't hear the truth in it then there's probably no hope for you anyway.
Homesick Aldo is the dogs bollocks. He was the dogs bollocks the last time he played Jollys and familiarity hasn't equated to contempt. He's still as fresh, vibrant and manic as expected and it would be fair to say that he blew everyone away..........again.
It's not easy to forget him.
All John Cooper Clarke thin with his scarecrow hair he blows a mean harp and manages to reference the Prodigy and Robert Johnson in the space of a heartbeat.
I'm still not sure if it's genius or madness, but as it seems contagious I'll go with the latter.
Recently I've been harangued for expressing less than complimentary opinions about bands and artists, but when a band like Colour Cells comes along and stop and start, fanny about and general make a cunt of things then I'm not sure what sort of response I'm supposed to give.
The singer himself randomly approached me an apologized for being shite.
His words, not mine. So straight from the horses mouth so to speak, although he did try to quantify it by saying that 'he could have punched the sound guy as if the root of the problem was simply a sound issue.
Frankly it wasn't.
The sound was crystal clear for everyone else that performed.
I'm not sure what they were trying to recreate, but it didn't work and the attitude was a real turn off.
Not just for myself, but for virtually everyone around me.
The rumblings of discontent were very audible and I sincerely doubt that any new fans were picked up on the evening.
Thankfully Chris Helme appeared to save the night from what could have went down as a legendary anticlimax.
What can be said about Chris?
Most people would jump to his time fronting the Seahorses, but give him one night and he will show an audience that his time in the band was just one string to his bow.
It's actually when he is steering his own ship that the real Chris Helme comes out and it's a very emotive performance. Spellbinding is the word.
It's maybe this that Matthew Scott could look at and take some notes on.
Chris can play the crowd pleasing songs, but the real artistry is in the effort and connection he makes with his own material.
That's when he shines and if people aren't cocking half an ear to it due to their alcohol intake I'm sure they would agree.
The real plaudits for the evening have to go to David Hanvey though who once again pulled out all the stops to provide an excellent night of entertainment.
By Christ I'm spoilt having Jollys Sports bar on my doorstep and nights like this to fill my time with.

KelC in conversation with Graveyard Johnnys

Joe and Tom of the Graveyard Johnnys are busy guys. If they aint touring, they're recording, and if they aint recording they're writing, and if they aint doing any of that then in all honesty I don't really w nt to know what they get up to, but I reckon that alcohol and 'the ladies' may be involved.
Anyway they very kindly took some time out to answer some questions over the course of a few months.

KelC - Each time I check out what you guys are doing you seem to have just had a line up change. How settled is the band now?
Joe - We've had two full time guitarists so far since 2007, and two other guys who fill in from time to time when we need them, sort of like session musicians only paid in food and poon.
Sometimes we give them some drinks too. So we’ve had one lineup change all in all.
Tom - Things seem more settled than they have in along time. Joe and I work real well together, but the last guy we had on guitar was a real pain in the ass so since we moved on from him we’ve been able to get a lot more done in terms of writing, recording and so on.
Using session guys on tour is working out perfect for us, we get to have the talent we need on guitar as well as the seasoned road animal which is a must for us these days, touring is what makes us tick.

KelC - What has led to the changes, is it a commitment issue from ex members?
Tom - Yeah totally, it’s been a problem since the band first started doing a lot.
The first guitarist (Liam) struggled with mixing his work and home life along with the long hours on the road. He loved being in the band and writing music with us but wasn’t so fussed on touring. The last guitarist (Jimmy) seemed to be in it to further his ego and call himself an “artist”
Bottom line is that we’re just in it for good times. To meet all sorts of people and have a party. We’re not here to preach at people at gigs or pretend were anything more than a band who just loves to play music and party.
We’re far from calling ourselves artists.
JOE : Piss artists maybe! It's a common thing with bands to shift line-ups.
Sometimes the real world becomes more important to people and they fall to the wayside. Kinda like a natural weeding out process.

KelC - How did you go about getting new members? Was it easy, and whats more important talent or fit?
Joe - After Liam had to go we pretty much rushed into getting him replaced with anyone who seemed willing.
We realise now that whoever is gonna join us in the van has to be a great guitar player and also good company. So a mix of both.
Bearing in mind it's not easy for anyone to put up with me and Tom for more than a day at a time! Dob who is touring with us at the moment is an old friend and a fucking great guitar player.
He also loves the road so in a lot of ways he's the best man for the job.
Tom - There is a lot of time spent in the van or sitting around.
Playing is only an hour a day out of 24 so we definitely need somebody on the same page as Joe and I.
We're like a two headed monster when we’re together.
We’ve been friends and doing music for so long now even our farts smell the same.
We love meeting people and people’s girlfriends, and we love smashing things over our roadie Dai’s head.
Anyone in the band has to get that.

KelC - With a settled line up do you think that you could have maybe capitalized more on the work you have already done?
Joe - Maybe in terms of recording, we never stopped gigging though and we probably never will.
Tom - The last line up is the honest reason why we’re late with our album coming out.
As soon as we lost the dead weight we’ve become so much more productive and able to get things done.

KelC - So whats the state of play now?
Joe - The new album is looks like coming out very soon and then we're gonna continue touring. After this trip is over we're gonna be putting out some music video kinda stuff at some point too.

KelC - How do you manage to commit to touring. Have you got jobs out-with the band, relationships to maintain and such. How difficult is it to juggle a life, earning cash and interacting with people when you have to work it in around getting out on the road?
Tom - It’s pretty hard if you want a house and family, touring a lot makes normal life pretty impossible. I moved back home when the band started getting busy, paying for my own place and hardly being there wouldn’t be financially viable.
I'm actually self employed as tree surgeon so I am pretty flexible, but it does hit me in the pocket not working. Joe’s the same, he can only commit to so many hours a week in his job so holidays in the sun and posh cars are a no-go.
Joe : I work part time to pay my rent. It's impossible to work any more than that because we do a lot.
I don’t get to see the people I love outside the band as often as I would like, but that’s just the way it is.

KelC – How afr into the new album are you?
Joe - We’re doing it over a course of two-day weekend sessions and we’ve done five tracks in two sessions so far so maybe another three sessions to get everything done and dusted.
We’ve been recording guitar and drums live with a guide vocal and then just building on top of that until we’re happy. After our bit is done though there’s still mastering, pressing, licensing etc etc blah blah to be sorted until it’s on a shelf anywhere so we’re planning on getting back to work on it as soon as possible.

KelC - How does the writing process come about. Does anyone take the lead on that, and do you think that the moving away from the graveyard aspect of the psychobilly scene is something that allows you to have a broader appeal?

Tom - Joe and myself do the writing. Joe is the one who brings the first idea to the table and we then work on them together with Joe playing guitar and me on the drums.
Then we usually strip the tunes down to make them quick and catchy three minute tunes.
Once that's done we then show them to the guitarist Joe returns to playing bass.
We like to play tunes for a few months before recording them to let them take there natural form'
It's surprising how a song will change into its comfortable sitting place after playing it over and over.
It's only then that we feel that it's ready to record.
We most definitely try to keep away from the graveyard aspect of the music.
We've never really been into that part and I'm not sure that we could even write in the vein of that style.
We just write what comes natural to us, and what we have come up with so far seems to sit well with the billys, punks, rock audiences and even the indie crowd seem to enjoy it.
As long as its wrote and performed with passion your on to a winner we like to think

KelC – is the album going to be self released or have you managed to sort out a deal with a label?
Joe - The album will be released worldwide through a German label called “I Hate People Records” and will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital formats.

KelC - What was it like hearing Mike Davis of Radio One play a song you have written and performed. Is it a sort of surreal experience like you are listening to someone else?
Tom - It’s a good reward from all the hard work to hear ourselves on there. We’re very lucky to get that sort of coverage.
Joe - It’s a massive buzz. From the very early days of the band we’ve had Mike D’s support and it’s amazing to know he likes our music.
I’ve listened to that show ever since I can remember. I used to tape it every week and found some of my all time favourite bands through him.
We listened to our Maida Vale session live on the radio while driving to the airport to fly out for our first proper tour abroad. That was surreal as fuck, it felt like no one could stop us. Definitely gave us some confidence for that trip!

KelC - You've just returned from playing some dates in mainland Europe. How was it? Do you feel you get a better response there? You got any highlights and lowlights you could share?

Tom - Europe was great.
Mainland Europe has always been good for us since the first time we went out there with the help of MadSin and The Peacocks humping on dates of their own tour.
As time has gone on were doing our own headline shows out there which has been great.
Live music is still exciting to the crowds in Europe, so even for midweek shows your get people out and up for it.
Each time we do a tour things seem to grow for us out there, but at home in the UK were filling places on our headline dates in the north to.
It's great to see that were catching up in our own country.
The touring in Europe though is a lot harder in the sence of driving as most shows invlove long hours on the road. In the early days, when we was supporting, we jump in the headliners vans, but on our own headline tours we got to drive ourselves and that can be hard work wjhen you add on the playing.
We;'re learning that a driver is a must on a tour that lasts anything more than a week.
The whole thing of playing to people and travelling is a highlight really.
A lowlight of the last tour is easy.
On leavinga venue on night our van blew up. That was a nightmare to say the least.
We had to sleep there and in the morning we were towed five moiles up the road and charged 250 Euros for the priviledge of being told the van was indeed fucked.
We had to cansel three dates and fly home.
Then drive back out a week later to pick up the van.
I doubt we are the first band to blow up a van in the middle of Germany though.

Thanks for your time guys and good luck with the new video, forthcoming album and live dates. Don't leave it too long before you are back in Scotland.

In conversation with face to face

I'm often struck by the difference between young bands who are full of spunk and display a great deal of 'taking on the world' bravado in interviews as opposed to their older more world weary elders who have normally ditched the ego, and instead adopted a more balanced and thoughtful approach to what they do.
One approach is far more impressive than the other and it only comes with swinging around the block a couple of times in my opinion.
One of the band who have been there and bought the t-shirt more than once is Face to Face.
The Californian punk band who have recently been in the studio and provided a new generation with a template on how to play punk rock with passion and enthusiasm.
I managed to catch up with them as the stopped off in Glasgow to play the legendary King Tuts Wah Wah Hut as part of a week long promotion of punk and rock bands under the umbrella of the RocknRoll Damnation package that DF Concerts have brought to Scotland.

ElD - It's been a very long lay off between 'How to Ruin Everything' and 'Laugh Now, Laugh Later'. Virtually ten years, so does this feel like a fresh start to the band?
Trever Keith – Well it feels like a fresh start in that we broke the band up and started again.
When we reformed after four and half years it was completely due to our own wanting to reform.
No one was pushing us back into doing it, and we don't really feel the same kind of pressure we did when we broke up. The need to achieve whatever sort of success that might have been placed on us by record labels and industry people isn't there.
We reformed strictly because we missed playing and making music together.
So that's really how it started.
A few shows turned into tours and in turn that ended up with the making of the album, but all the way along it was completely driven by our own love, and our own want, for getting back together again.
So in that regard yeah it's like a fresh start.

ElD - Did it always feel like unfinished business? Was there always something more to be said?
Trever - Yeah, I guess so. I don't know if it was unfinished business as much as just we had been together nearly fifteen years when we broke up, and it was one of those things that we didn't really appreciate fully until it didn't exist any more.
ElD - You don't know what you've got until it's gone sort of thing.
Trevor - Yeah, exactly, and once that happened we were like 'I guess we really did have something that was special, and something that really meant a lot to us, and not just individually to people', and it's an experience that none of us were capable of recreating with any other musicians or the bands that we played in.
Scott Shiflett – You know the thing we do we do, but over the longer period of time everyone wants to try other things, and if you know enough about our band then you will know that when we made 'Ignorance is Bliss' for instance we were trying other stuff, and exploring different things, and we discovered that it wasn't actually something that we could get our fans to go along with....

ElD - Were you disappointed that the fans didn't get along with it.
Scott - yes and no.
Trever – At first we were really disappointed.
Scott – Well I could haves said yes, but I'm a fan of bands, and all the time they will come out with something that they will say is a pure and honest record that they love, and I'll go 'no, I was into that' you know, so I respect peoples opinions. They don't have to like what I want to do, and we realized that we wanted to try a few other things.
I did Viva Death and Trevor did his solo record and Legion of Doom and we experimented, trying other stuff out, and once you kinda get a lot of that off your chest, that thing, that core thing, you really loved you miss, and we missed this.
I guess were like mentos and coke. Get us apart and we are fairly benign, put us together and it's...........explosive.
So yes. To get back to it. We did totally missed it, then Trevor said how do you feel about doing three or four shows, and that was like it, and we did them and it felt so good, and so much like fun that we said let's keep doing it.

ElD - When you broke up a lot of people were disappointed. In hindsight do you feel that you were too close to it all and after fifteen years you thought that everything as done, everything had been said?
Trever – In a way, because we wanted to continue to be successful, and continue to operate on an upward plane, and we kinda thought that we had just levelled out, and we were appreciative of the fans we had garnered over the years and all that, but it just felt like we were starting to get into a rut.
From that end of it, and creatively, I think we didn't really recover from the Ignorance is Bliss thing, because there was a part of us that wanted to make that music to.
So like Scott said, breaking the band up was the best way for us to try new projects.
We felt we had to break up Face to Face to take our other projects seriously, which in hindsight was probably a mistake. We should have probably just taken a hiatus.
Scott – I never even took my own project seriously. (Laughs)

ElD - Lets move onto the new album. Are you surprised at the critical success? It seems to be garnering plaudits universally.
Trever – I'm shocked by the critics response because this is the first record that, well I'm not saying that they don't exist, but haven't read a single negative review of it, and I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop whenever we put a record out. For every one good review there is usually two or three guys that have all kinds of criticisms. So it feels great that people like the record so much and it seems to be going over very well with live audiences and people warming up to the songs, they even know the words.

ElD - On first listening I got the feeling that it sounded like a début album. It doesn't sound like a release from a band that have been together twenty years. It's got the hunger of a band that are just out there trying to grab attention.
Scott - To this day I still feel that we have one foot on the ground and one foot on the first rung of the ladder. So even though we are an older band, and experienced, I feel that we are still hungry for the music, and I don't think that we were ever are a band that reached a certain level and then went on cruise control either.
Trever – We've never thought we could rest on our laurels.
Scott – We all do this in all of our individual musical lives as well as our collective lives. I know we are all incredibly hungry to play and I think that it does come across in our band, and you know the changes in music over the years has left, I think, bands like us in a position where maybe more people are interested because we do keep it relatively simple.
We just drag our gear in, plug in, and.... it's like muscle driven. It's from the body, it's from the heart.
It's not a lot of pedals or the guy behind the mixing board. It's really is the band.

ElD - It's rock and roll?
Trever – Yes. We can what we do tonight in Glasgow and do it again in Leeds tomorrow night with no difference. We have two guys on our road crew and we don't travel with any great fan fare, and that's the way we like it.
I want to plug a guitar cable into my guitar and then plug it into the amp. I don't want to be on a wireless with three hundred pedals and all that kinda stuff. I think the keep it simple ethic seems to work.
It's more immediate.

ElD - In the twenty years that you have been together what have you noticed changing as musicians? It's a long period to be playing for, whether it is with Face to Face or with your own projects, and you must see changes.
Is it easier or harder for younger bands now?

Scott – Both (laughing)
They have it easier in the sense that advances in communications and networking have made it easier for them to reach out to people, and advances in technology has made it maybe easier for people less musically endowed to sound good and to come off as proficient, but at the same time the market is saturated.
Trever – Over all it's probably harder because you can record your demo on a cheap pro tools set up in your house, put it on the internet, and have people listen to it immediately. So you have an audience, a world wide audience, but because of that like Scott said it is saturated and we see people starting bands, breaking bands up and all that almost constantly.
One of the most interesting things that I seen on the warped tour that kinda clicked with me was that the whole general attitude that a lot of young people have about being in a band is so foreign to what my idea of it always was, because mine was that I would get through school, get my band really good, and I'm going to go and do this forever and keep playing music.
Most people today are like ' well maybe between high school and college we will get a chance to go on the warp tour and get wasted and party and have some fun and then we will go ahead and grow up and get on with our lives'.

ElD - A gap year holiday with guitars?
Trever - Yeah.
Scott – It's like a rock school summer camp.
Trever - …. and because of that a lot of bands don't take it as seriously and they don't work as hard.

ElD - I can see that. Without naming names there are bands out there with money behind them and you just know that two or three years down the line they will be forgotten about as they wont exist.
Scott – Ultimately we're not the taste police and I like a lot of stupid and disposable music....
Trever – Sure. I'm just talking about a general attitude displayed by a lot of the younger bands who are coming up in this modern climate of the music business.

ElD - Do you feel that the way the mainstream music business, and the way they plunder the underground to repackage it and sell it on, has shifted a gear and works more rapidly now?
Here today and gone tomorrow for the bands?
Scott – The marketing people are very sussed now. There is no middle ground. They go straight to the underground and immediately it goes from there to selling Nike shoes or whatever before I have even noticed it. I'm hearing some hip underground being pumped at me from a beer commercial half the time.

ElD - Can I ask about the promo video for 'It's not all about you' as you (Trever) are down for being involved in the concept of it. How much of a say did you actually have?
Trever – The zombie video was my concept. It's not that original and I'm not trying to claim it's a brilliant idea, but I threw it out there on my twitter feed asking who liked zombies and was good at animation, and I thought I would get all these great responses and I got about three, and of the three only one was from someone that I could actually count on.
That was a year or two ago though, as originally it was to be for my solo record and the guy lagged so long in doing it that by the time we put this record out I got back in touch with him and said 'hey you want to do it for a face to face video' and he was like 'oh yeah' and got all really excited about it while for my solo record he was more half hearted (laughing).
It's a guy from Brazil. He's done a really really good job on it.
Scott – I know Trever is a big fan of comic books and part of his idea was that he wanted the video to exist in a way that people who weren't necessarily looking for us or even punk rock songs would stumble across it in a comic book fan boy sort of way.
Trever – Exactly. If you were looking for cool zombie stuff or the comic book kind of things I was hoping it would work as a way for people to discover us and it does seem to be working.

ElD - As a band do you try to keep a degree of control over everything, album artwork, how you are promoted and such?
Trever – Absolutely. We control every aspect. We would never even let a music video out without our approval. I mean we were so hardcore to a fault that back in the day when we were on A&M in the mid nineties they would pitch us movie things constantly like 'do you want to be in this one or that one' and we would be like (adopts dumb voice) no that movie aint punk rock enough for us to be in.
Looking back on it now I'm like what a fuckin' idiot.
We were offered a placement in the movie 'Kingpin' which was a brilliant movie. It was hilarious.

ElD - You had a song in Tank Girl.
Scott - Tank Girl is cool.
Well it's got Ice T as a kangaroo so what's not to like, but you didn't get the song on the soundtrack release. Why was that?
Trever - We were offered it for the movie and not the album. That's it. That was the deal.
I still wouldn't want our songs on just anything, but now I would be a lot more open to lots of stuff. It's funny, in the nineties we had almost all these punk rock police.
ElD - Who fly in the face of the whole punk rock ethos.
Trever – Absolutely.
Scott – Yeah. Punk rock was supposed to be outside all that stuff and it had the strictest morals and codes of social conduct, even more than the ridiculous hard rock and heavy metal people and such.
Trevor. ...and we were accused of being sell outs all through that whole period and we became hyper sensitive to it, and then we would see our peers charge fifteen dollars for tickets for shows, and sell their shirts for x amount and we were like 'fuck' we've been sticking to the rules and everyone is doing what they had been accusing us of doing.

ElD - The Clash weren't slow in accepting a major deal. The idea is to get the music out to as many people as possible. Maybe not a message, but at the very least to entertain as many as you can.
Scott – That's it, but maybe I just missed the point or something, but when I was a young guy I frankly didn't give a fuck what label a band was on. That didn't mean anything to me. What age they were, where they came from. If I heard music and I liked it then I bought the fuckin' record and that was it. Whether it was on this, that, or the other label didn't matter.
I think I was already a little old for that shit when it started to crop up. It was alien to my way of thinking and still is.
Trever – ...thankfully that attitude seem to have been over for about a decade.

ElD - How is the deal going with 'People like you'?
Trever – Well we took it to 'People like you' initially just for licensing for the EU, and Toby over there liked it enough that he called his parent company Sanctuary Media and he got them to pick up the record for the world.
So strictly speaking we are on Sanctuary Media, but over here and the rest of Europe it is 'People Like You and it has been working out great.
I don't know what the sales numbers are like and I don't want to. All I know is that I can see that when we launch into the new songs the European crowd are singing along so it's getting out there.
ElD - It is. I've seen bands pushing a new album, signed to a major to, and it is only available at the shows, but 'Laugh now. Laugh Later' is in the stores.
Trever – Yeah, When we were on other labels some of our albums would only appear as imports. It doesn't seem to be a positive move to promote an album that people find hard to get. People have a short attention span.
Scott – They might not remember you in five minutes. If they go to buy the album and it isn't there then they will move onto something else.

ElD - With the critical success of the album and the tour have you started to write new material to follow on from all this?
Trever – Not yet, but it's not unlikely that we could be back in the studio for next summer. I've been talking about it with the guys and personally to keep everything on a time I would love to try for a release by mid to late 2012, but I don't want to take two or three years between records. Especially at our advanced years we are probably nearing the end of our career and I want to crank out a bunch more records before we get to old.
Even if I have to drag their sorry corpses to the finish line.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Butterflies on the wheel

We need to be tough on crime.
It's a majority view so let's get to it.
Lets start with arsonists.
A 16 year old called Nick Clegg was charged and found guilty of two counts of arson. Not one, but two.
He was handed a very hefty community order as punishment.
That will have bloody shown him we thought, but did it?
You would think that after this brush with the law he would think twice about running about with a dodgy crew, but thinking doesn't seem to be his strong point.
Anyway arson isn't that serious is it?
Not compared to stealing ice cream.
Ice cream theft is up there with the real crimes like water theft in my opinion.
Give ice cream thief's a fine and a couple of days later they will be doing it again.
You really have to come down hard on them for it to sink in.
So I applaud the judge who has warned Anderson Fernandes, 22, that he may face jail for stealing two scoops of ice cream.
It is only right that if he does the crime that he does the time.
If not, then where would it end?
One day two scoops, the next ram raids on Iceland (the store. not the country)?
Is freezer rustling in farmfoods stores up and down the country really the future?
Left to his own devices Anderson could be the thin end of the wedge that would lead to ice cream shortages.
So throw the book at the fucker. That's what I say.
Thankfully it does look like the general public are being listened to as some geezer called Nicolas Robinson just got 6 months for stealing a case of water from an Aldi.
It about time to, and he's lucky the judge ignored my plea for his right hand to be severed.
Maybe he should think about that when he's banged up.
Who does he think he is?
Some silver spooned motherfucker with a get out of jail free card?
You only get off with that shit if it is classed as a case of high-jinx, and you either have to be earning over £250,000 for that excuse....I mean reason... to come into effect, or sometimes exceptions can be made if you are in line for a title and a wad of cash.
It's got a legal term.
Something like pleading Bullingdon Corpus I think.
My mate Dave and his idiot homey Boris could probably explain it better than I can.
They've used it a few times.
Anyway, none of that would apply to Mother-of-two Ursula Nevin.
She has fallen far short of being able to claim Bullingdon Corpus and will just have to suck up the five months she got for receiving stolen goods, and fuck all you liberal nut jobs who bleat on about it only being one pair of shorts.
The summers nearly over. So what the fuck was she thinking?
Now to be serious for a moment.
Each week I can scan through my local newspaper and see the perpetrators of serious assaults getting fines, or community service.
Individuals whose names appear on a depressingly regular basis. Not first offenders.
Taking into account the seriousness of their offences I can't wrap my head around how someone can seriously injure another and the consequences to their actions then pale into insignificance next to the theft of two scoops of ice cream, or a pack of water.
Yet here we are post London riots and people are rationalizing the draconian punishments given out.
This is not to say that those involved should not be punished, but when did the punishment fitting the crime become such a grey area?
Maybe we should be making it personal and asking ourselves what sort of sentence should be given to someone who has violently assaulted a relative in comparison to what should be handed to someone who has stolen an ice cream cone from us?
Or does asking that not fit in with how you are viewing the world right now?

Saturday 13 August 2011

Jackie Leven/Roscoe Vacant/Colin Hunter/Tragic OHara - Jollys (Kilmarnock) 13/8/11

We are just in the bar and Tosh (Tragic OHara) is waxing lyrical about a brush with a girl who wanted to finger his anus.
The story ends on an anticlimax when he revealed that at the last second, when said condom covered finger was mere inches from entry, he changed his mind and refused to let her pass go, collect her £200 or even advance to Brownsville station.
We pretend that we believe him.
Meanwhile Vi has two fingers bandaged up and is strenuously claiming that a dog bit them.
We suspect her husband Campbell may have rolled over far too quickly, and without warning, resulting in Vi failing to remove the digits as fast as she would have preferred.
As we were on the subject I admitted to carving myself a large helping of revenge pie once by using a pencil to insert a condom into a passed out guys anus and leaving it there.
He had been hassling women at a party and threatening the men all evening, so once he slipped into a drunken slumber it seemed to be a justifiably good idea to set him up to believe on awakening that he'd been involved in a drunken tryst that had ended with him being ass fucked.
In my defence I was also drunk, and this was way back in time when things like that were called practical jokes rather than sexual assaults.
At that I think we had exhausted the subject matter and moved onto discussing education.
Or to be more specific how education is viewed by the residents of Ardrossan.
Basically they don't want it.
Tosh and Kel felt that they could be considered experts on the matter as they both come from the land that time forgot.
It would seem that the majority view is that being thick is something to be celebrated.
First man. 'School was crap maaan. I did shite at it'
Second man. 'I didnae go at all'
Third man. 'Whits a school?'
That's called one one-upmanship in Ardrossan.
This is really just a rough example of the pre gig banter that we all consider normal.
Nothing is off the table for discussion and it's expected for the humour to be of the dark variety.
When it was mentioned that Colin (Hunter) was looking well he explained that his toned physique was down to doing sit ups and press ups every time he finishes a level in a zombie shoot 'em up game he's been playing, and that he is also in training for a boxing match he is arranging.
As far as I can work out it's a real battle of the bands.
The word is out across Scotland and bands who want to be involved will provide a member who will get in the ring and try and punch lumps out of some random bass player, or whatever, from another band.
I'd like to say that this is all about raising money for a charity, but from the fanatical gleam in his eye I think it's more about his need to show the world that soft spoken indie folk types are not to be fucked with.
I suspect his macho credentials would be seen in a more favourable light is we weren't all aware that after a recent argument with Tosh they decided to resolve their differences by having a dance off.
There's allegedly footage of this and once I have it I can assure you I'll be spreading it about a bit.
Munro appears......hugs everyone...winks at people..........and wanders off again to work the room. He loves everyone and everyone loves him, and it's his birthday, or has been for a few days now.
The point is that he's still celebrating it.
Scott (Faither) announces that the first act is about to come on, and as that's Tosh he extracts himself from the company and becomes Tragic OHara for the next wee while.
It's a very self assured performance. Maybe even the best I've seen him do, and it goes down well.
Cass comments that he finds the albums a bit over produced and that he much prefers the live experience, while Wullie B confides that he thinks Tosh writes songs that are uncannily relevant to his own fucked up life.
I can see his point as lyrically Tosh is a product of his environment, as are we all.
So it's little wonder that it resonates so strongly.
Sometimes it is like a communal biography.
His story, our story.
It was broached once that this ability to paint the familiar in words was maybe too parochial to be appreciated by a wider audience, but I would strongly refute that.
Springsteen does the same thing and it doesn't seem to matter that he is singing about small town USA as strip that away and he is simply singing about people. The location of the story isn't where the magic lies.
The same could be said for Tragic OHara.
After a few originals he slips into a cover of an Ol' Dirty Bastard tune that has become a live favourite of late.
His looping of layers of simplistic guitar work serves him well as an accompaniment, and around me a few new fans have been welcomed into the fold of all things Tragic.
Job well done.
For an opening act he gets a rousing and well deserved reception.
Colin, he of the Sutcliffe facial hair, Hunter doesn't fare as well with the audience.
The attention seems to wane a little and I'm not sure why, maybe they just don't want to applaud someone who has a serial killer beard.
Personally I love what he is doing.
It's all little kitchen sink vignettes that are beautifully crafted. There's a raw bruised quality to them that is expressed with a great deal of passion and I genuinely do struggle in trying to reach an understanding of why people are transfixed by his performance.
Prior to Jackie Leven coming on Robbie Mills and myself get a chance to catch up.
We share a loathing of bullshitters so it is always good to share a five minute vent at all those who do a great deal of talking, but fall far short of doing anything else but talk.
Robbie reserves a great deal disgust for those who claim to have been to legendary gigs but are very obviously spinning a tale, and we both have little time for those who will readily spend money to see a tribute band to recapture a youth they didn't have while simultaneously claiming all modern music is rubbish.
Jolly's, by providing a stage for original talent to promote their music from, is his oasis of calm in a mad world.
It's people like Robbie that makes the bar so special, or maybe it's because the bar is run so well that it attracts the good guys like Robbie.
I doubt many men could have halted the flow of our conversation, but one who could is Jackie Leven, and as he took to the stage the words died on our lips.
Jackie Leven is a shadow of his former self, and I mean that in the kindest way as he is literally a fraction of the size he was.
He could be used by weight-watchers in one of those before and after pictures.
The sort where he holds a pair of year old jeans up while claiming that he could currently reside comfortably in one leg of them.
The most important thing though is that his voice hasn't changed.
It is a rare thing of beauty and Jackie knows how to use it.
Brutally self analytical at times, his therapeutic evisceration of life could be considered too difficult to contemplate enjoying as a form of entertainment, but his soulful voice and lulling guitar serve to smooth the jagged edges and act as a buffer.
Similarly his patter between songs act as an entertaining distraction from the brutal honesty of his lyrics.
It shouldn't really work this mix of serious artistry and wry humour, but it is the yin and yang of Jackie and what makes him such a compelling live artist.
Unfortunately some people at the back had no interest in the performance or held any respect for the people who did want to hear the shows.
The cry of ugi, ugi, ugi, oi, oi, oi was particularly out of place.
It turned out that the small group were led by an ex Kilmarnock football club player.
I've always said that we celebrate failure too readily here, but a failed sportsman still in his early twenties having an entourage is taking the stereotype that bit too far.
They are all pretty pissed and even a plea to be a bit more respectful is ignored.
During Poorton rumblings of discontent start to roll out around me and the chance that this small and unruly group may well get a slap increases.
Jackie studiously ignores them and continues with the show, but I this is no way for a man of his talents to be treated.
When the drone and the shouting continued as Jackie explained how we hold a part of our hearts aside for the death of a parent, but don't for a sibling my heart was heavy.
It's difficult to hang onto charitable thoughts about the village idiots when they are so willing to show that they are undeserving of them.
While Jackie Leven's performance was as fantastic as you would expect, the behaviour of this minority tainted it.
The disrespect shown by them for their environment throws up the same questions as to why people would riot on their own doorstep.
They simply don't give a fuck.
The anger from Cass is generating heat and he's obviously questioning why he even bothers going out in his home town.
He doesn't have to say it. I just know. Probably because I empathize.
In my opinion Jolly's is the best local bar by far.
A safe, relaxing and fun bolt hole where you can leave all the detritus of life behind, but even here they aren't immune to having to deal with the odd arseholes.
It's rare.
So rare that it bugs me to mention it here, but this is often enough the reality of a night out in Kimarnock, and while the bar casually avoids the norm it's a shame that sometimes it is unavoidable.
Roscoe Vacant ends the night and valiantly battles against the apathy.
People have left as they were only there to see Jackie, others remain as they are more interested in consuming more alcohol, and then there is the fannies – The collective noun that is used to describe a grouping of cunts – still hanging about who are oblivious to his performance.
By now drinking is of secondary importance to pulling a 'burd'.
There sparkling wit is tried out on Kel when she is at the bar.
'You got a boyfriend?' 'Yes.'
'Is he here?' 'Yes.'
'You want to come home with me?' 'No'
It was an uncomfortable encounter due to the tone used, but as I was elsewhere at the time Munro and Wullie B eased in to give the physical appearance that Kel was actually with company.
Within ten minutes most of the women in the bar had been propositioned in one way or another and the desperation was beginning to come to the fore as aggression.
What else do these troglodytes understand.
Morna and Carolyn out on a ladies night are I'm sure well versed in fobbing off unwanted attention, but when one hulking member of the group approached her it was a bit too much.
You could see he was the type that once a few drinks were had he loses the ability to hear the word no.
Most people at his age have their name down on the council house list. He's waiting to be included on the sex register.
Well if he could see himself as others do then even he might not be able to offer up a counter argument.
So I edged forward and wrapped my arm around Carolyn's waist and he took that as his cue to seek pastures new.
I seriously hope that he didn't meet any woman lying comatose in the gutter as it's possible that he would consider that a come on.
As Roscoe finished his set I'm pissed off at the distractions that blighted Jackie and Roscoe's performances. So much so that while I did watch Roscoe Vacant it was with one ear as the continued selfish behaviour of a very small group was akin to being tapped on the shoulder every couple of seconds by a drunk demanding some attention.
As performances go we got the best that Ayrshire has to offer along with Jackie Leven. So that's a bonus, and as a night for catching up with friends goes I can't complain either.
It's just a shame that as an evening out it was partially tainted by cunts.
Wheres a pencil and a condom when you need it?

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Captain America (2011) Iron Man 2/Thor

Went to see the next instalment of the prequels to next years Avengers movie today.
Or Captain America to those who are unaware that the Iron Man and Thor movies were the previous links in the chain.
Not bad at all, even if I do say so myself.
It was refreshingly free of the 'jingoistic flag waving, we are the saviours of all mankind' sort of thing that most US action blockbusters are full of, and the tongue in cheek take on propaganda was rather welcome to.
I can't comment on Thor as I haven't seen it, but of the comic book to silver screen adaptations this is yet another that has pushed itself into the adult market.
Well paced, plenty of action and open ended to allow a natural progression for the threads of The Avengers to be pulled together.
I guess this is what the last instalment of Indiana Jones should have been. A movie with an all action hero that can appeal to a large audience.
It's difficult to really get into this without letting loose spoilers. So all I'll say is that with a few little changes to allow some continuity I reckon the fan boys will love it, and as a stand alone movie it manages to tick all the boxes for anyone looking for an action filled movie that also has that elusive thing called a plot.
Yeah. I know. Crap review, but seriously I don't want to ruin it for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Captain America tale.
Go and see it and enjoy.
I'm pretty sure there will be a better review on the excellent Scheme 9 if you want something more indepth. A link to it is on the right and down a bit.

Update: Just watched Iron Man 2
Couple of pedantic points raised.
What was Captains Americas shield doing being used when we see its reappearance in the Captain America film. What's the continuity time line supposed to be?
Iron Man, Captains America, Iron Man 2 and then Thor (see clip after credits of IM2).
Also I didn't see the need for Tony Stark to be in Captain America instead of Howard Stark, and the scenes in Iron Man 2 show that to be an error/lapse of judgement.

and another update: Hot on the heels of Iron Man 2 I decided to play catch up and watch Thor.
Another goody. Another link in what is increasingly becoming a rather impressive chain leading to the Avengers movie. As introductions to the characters I'm not going to complain about slight niggles. I'll leave that to the hardcore fanboys who want the comic strip to leap from the page unaltered.
Something I would have liked to have seen was a bit more of Hawkeye, rather than the blink and you'd miss him scene he had, and something with the Hulk to, as his appearance isn't a continuation of the Ed Norton outing.

Monday 8 August 2011

London's Burning.

If we make peaceful change impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable. -John F Kennedy.

So London is burning as I type.
Lots of people seem to be chucking their opinions forth so I think I'll join in.
Firstly this has nothing to do with the shooting that occurred.
Whether it was justified (increasingly looking as if it wasn't) or not, isn't really relevant. That was just a spark. An excuse.
The problem as I see it is that the young men and women feel completely disenfranchised.
They have nothing to lose any more.
The job market is shrinking and no new employment opportunities are being created.
The future has been whipped from under their feet and no one is listening to them.
Current economic woes and the policies that the coalition have introduced have done little more than push the already desperate into a corner, and in nature what happens when you push any animal into a corner leaving them with no room to escape?
They lash out, attack.
I sincerely believe that this is what we are seeing here.
I'm not even claiming that it is thought out. Just a primal need to reacte to perceived injustices.
Of course people can point to the ones who are enjoying themselves, or the chancers hot footing it down the street with a widescreen television, but that's not everyone involved.
Most are risking their liberty because.....well why the hell not.
What's the alternative?
A life time of living hand to mouth with no prospects of improvement. Losing themselves in drug and alcohol abuse. Easing in and out of dysfunctional relationships.
I've read often enough that they should have more respect, but I was raised to believe that respect was something that had to be earned and I don't see anyone in power doing anything to engender any respect at all.
The police certainly aren't doing anything to encourage a degree of mutual respect.
Battle lines were drawn long ago on estates.
To the police the kids are the enemy and to the kids the police are.
There's not even that many people in local communities doing much to gain respect either.
Everyone has become so insular and mistrustful that we are a nation of strangers to each other.
It's not a healthy existence.
We can't expect people who are treated like shit to just continue to accept it.
That's the bottom line.
History shows us what happened in the past, and the news is showing us it happening in the present.
I would love it if people could consider the bigger picture, but instead I'm seeing a great deal of comments on places like Facebook along the lines of 'shoot the fuckers' and 'hang the little bastards'.
We live in a country that can give a murderer six years after a trial, but we are advocating that teenagers should be shot by troops acting as judge, jury and executioner for stealing training shoes out of a sports shop.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?

Added (9/8/11)
Just a thought, but in the aftermath of this I'm sure there will be a mention of how many people have been made homeless and how many small businesses have closed, and indeed it will be a horrible situation and I empathize with those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, but - yes there is always a but - maybe we could also factor in how many people have become homeless, or face being made homeless, due to the economic downturn paired with less than helpful coalition policies being introduced, and just maybe someone somewhere will release the figures of how many businesses have went to the wall due to our current economic woes and poor policy decisions to.
The results may be slightly surprising, and if they far outstrip the cost to us all from the rioting then maybe we should be asking who the real enemy is.
The kids on our streets, or those steering the ship.

Rave On Buddy Holly

It's a firm belief of mine that every single person in the world should own at least one Buddy Holly album.
While he is rightly lauded as legendary it niggles with me that he doesn't spring to the mind of the general public as fast as say Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard do when rock and roll is discussed.
Here is a man who similarly to Elvis Presley brought rock and roll kicking and screaming into the populist mainstream.
He was the conduit that helped take rock and roll from A to B in my opinion.
Prior to Buddy it was one thing, and then after Buddy another.
Without even taking a mild stab at a revisionist view I can quite safely say that he also influenced some of the greatest bands that the world have ever seen.
The Rolling Stones were one, and The Beatles themselves were pretty unstinting in their reverent acknowledgement of the debt that they owed Buddy Holly.
So with the excuse of an anniversary upon us it now seems the prime moment to push Buddy back into the spotlight, and I can't think of a better way to do that than release an album of covers of his songs by some of the most critically acclaimed artists of the last fifty years.
The Black Keys open it all up with their take on Dearest. The soulful Motown-esque vocal is a joy to listen to, and the finger snaps and backing singers help make the song sound as if it is coming to us from a different era.
Fiona Apple doesn't really bring anything new to Everyday, apart from a female vocal lead, and an attempt to give it a very subtle folkish feel.
To subtle to matter much to be honest. The end result is nice, but nice sometimes just doesn't cut it.
Meanwhile Paul McCartney plays a ramshackle It's so easy that relies on the arrangement, layering and backing vocals to cover the fact that it really isn't that great.
Second surprise of the tracks includes is the Florence and the Machine reconstruction of Not fade away. There's some Tom Waits New Orleans styles meanderings backing up a hair on the neck raising vocal performance.
The benchmark set by Florence is then matched by Cee-Lo Green with his interpretation of (You're so square) Baby, I don't care.
Jack Whites ex wife to be (or maybe not as I'm not up to date on celeb relationships) is up next and provides another surprise with her rendition of Crying Waiting Hoping.
Top notch emotive vocals paired with a great production and a subtle layering of strings to accompany her provide a real winner. Lovely stuff indeed.
Julian Casablancas then doesn't so much take Rave On and make it his own, but give it a laconic overhaul that is more than able to stand alone in its own right as a pretty cool track.
I'll be honest here. I haven't a clue who Jenny O is, but I do want to find out more.
Her take on I'm gonna love you too, carries a refreshing country vibe that successfully avoids falling into the line dancing blue rinsed perm safe as houses rut that seems so palatable for people of a certain age.
JustinTownes Earle is the maaaaaaan. His version of Maybe Baby is going down as the canines dangly bits. If they wanted to release one single from this that would manage to convey what the project is about then it is this track. An outstanding contribution.
She & Him are the first of the artists involved who really let the side down by reaching the dizzying heights of sounding like a crap wedding band.
Changing all those changes from Nick Lowe sounds exactly what you would expect from Nick Lowe covering Buddy Holly.
It's a perfunctory performance that fails to hit the heights, but instead manages to scrape by inoffensively enough.
It's in sharp contrast to Patti Smith who gets proceeding back on track with a sublime and warmly enveloping Words of Love. You could slowly submerge yourself in this one and lose yourself in its comforting embrace.
My Morning Jacket's version of True Love Ways barely strays from the original, but strangely enough is wholly captivating in its apparent love for the material. Maybe they thought that it would be best not to fuck with perfection and just go hell for leather in trying to emulate it.
That'll Be The Day as envisioned by Modest Mouse is simply left field genius and has to be heard to be appreciated.
Kid Rock is a bit of a revelation on Well Alright.
With some big Memphis sounding horns backing him up he sounds like a real soul man. I mean a genuine soul man and it rolls neatly into the Detroit Cobras and there version of Heartbeat, that while it isn't going to have anyone saying they've reinvented the wheel should serve them well enough as an introduction to their sixties garage oeuvre.
Lou Reed does what Lou Reed does next.
Or in other words if you like him then you may view his version of Peggy Sue in a more charitable light due to familiarity. Others will consider it an abortion of a track. I'm actually a fan and I find it hard to find anything positive to say about it. Maybe he couldn't hear his vocals in the studio with his head stuck that far up his arse.
On the other hand John Doe nails Peggy Sue Got Married by giving it a Velvet Underground backing and giving his voice a bit of a John Cale feel to it without ever drawing too far away from his own signature.
Raining in my heart sung by Graham Nash is a very fine ending to a very fine album.
Easing the tempo down just slightly opens it up to more possibilities and the harmonica break fits like a glove.
I genuinely hope that this album opens the door for a great deal more Buddy Holly appreciation as it very rarely sets a foot wrong.

Nekromantix - What Happens In Hell Stays In Hell.

It feels like a couple of lifetimes have spun by since the last Nekromantix album came out, but the time spent between then and now certainly hasn't been wasted as 'What Happens In Hell' is possibly the most relentlessly pounding, and catchy, album that they've released to date.
It seems that by Kim Nekroman maintaining his vision for the band - while simultaneously offering a big middle fingered salute to both the mainstream and the sub genre addicted darlings - he's found himself fronting a band who are in the enviable position of being able to hang onto a great deal of credibility, and still meet the needs of the fans new and old.
A bit like Motorhead in that respect.
In short they've created a niche of their own, and that's something that is probably a great deal harder to do than we could imagine.
The whole album itself is driven by a pounding rhythm that's pretty much machine like in its intensity. Although that's not to downplay that guitar work that weaves in and out of the beat adding a great deal of aural shading.
All in, this is an album that could be filed away as all killer and no filler.
An album that will always have a foot in the psychobilly camp, but one that has also straddled so many others genres with aplomb, from punk rock to metal, that 'What Happens In Hell' will surely find a home within the collections of a broad demographic of music lovers.
An outstanding addition to an already strong canon of work from Nekromantix.

Sunday 7 August 2011

It's a local problem....everywhere.

As most people who read the blog know I'm not that shy about spouting off with what I perceive as issues within the music scene.
Poor promotion, cliquish scenes that don't help bands, the top heavy financial template that the music business wallows in, and bars/clubs who work on a pay to play scheme are all fair game to me, but normally the focus is on my local scene....until now.
Here's an update from 'Mongrel', a very promising rock band who operate out of Boston.
A band who are currently embroiled in a campaign to boycott a local venue (Whiskey Alley) who appear to have a very poor working relationship with the bands and artists that they book.
I think this highlights a great deal of the issues that bands face globally.
It's not a new story, and it is one that many people in bands will recognise.
Comments are appreciated and any support that can be given to the guys in the band would be welcome.

As the person who booked a show, and who today dealt with this lack of professionalism first hand, I figured I should chime in with the first hand account.
The show for tonight was booked on May 7th after our first show at the club.
Arthur Ware the booking manager was enthusiastic about having us come back (especially after the faulty sound system issues the first time we played there - and yes, I have the message to prove it). My last contact from Arthur was on July 19th (yes, I have the message to prove that to) and there was no indication of the show being cancelled.
Since that time Jaxx (manager for The REAL Scarecrow Hill) has spoken to Arthur as well - still no indications of anything being cancelled.
Over the last few weeks I've been posting the event info and tagging the Whiskey Alley pages in posts about the show.
TODAY I get word that Whiskey Alley left a comment on a fan's page that the show was cancelled. I try to reach Arthur via text/fb/phone but no response. So I left a voice mail for Nick the owner asking what was going on.
He called me back and begins giving me attitude off the bat. He then tells me that myself and Mucklers Circle were notified by Arthur two weeks ago, and that both myself and Mucklers Circle failed to respond.
When I explain that I never received any such message and ask for a copy of it he became more belligerent saying "it's my fucking club and what I say goes and it doesn't fucking matter" and that we the bands were unprofessional for not replying to this notification (I had spoken to members of MC yesterday and they had no idea either) and that we need to learn to check our messages (this being said to someone who's phone with email/txt/fb/etc is on hand or hip 20 hrs a day) and that perhaps he would be more professional "if the last show there didn't suck so much dick".
At this point I was done listening and hung up - um....if that's the case, why did you enthusiastically re-book us? that makes total sense. *eye roll*
So essentially either A) Arthur did try to notify us and the message never went through - but you'd think you'd get some sort of reply or should at least check on this if you see the band is still promoting the show...or
B) Arthur lied to Nick about letting us know, or
C)there was no notification at any point until today and they figured it appropriate to be belligerent and unprofessional rather than even just saying something to the effect of "sorry, i guess there was a communication lapse, unfortunately we do need to try to reschedule your show, sorry about that".
NEVER in my 11 years booking shows in this region have I EVER had to hang up on a club owner/booker/etc until today.
I certainly encourage other bands in the area not to subject themselves to this sort of treatment.
If the club wants to focus on dance/dj nights and end up going the way of the old Compound with drugs, police, shootings etc being an issue then by all means do so, put the nails in your own coffin, but at least be honest about it.
Even a call 2 weeks ago when we were allegedly notified saying "hey, we need to reschedule, we need the cash flow of a DJ night there for this chick's party, we're really sorry but we need to do this to keep the club open financially" would have been fine
I would have been disappointed, but respected it and re-booked for another night. The way the club handled this whole thing was completely and utterly inappropriate.

Please let other bands and fans know so that maybe through lack of patronage and financial support the club will think twice about how it treats people as this was not fair or respectful of the bands booked who re-arrange their lives to perform or the fans who would be coming to their establishment to spend money and who adjusted their schedules to attend and support the bands and the bar. When bands play at bars it is a business arrangement in which the goal is that both sides benefit at the end of the night. If a bar or other establishment is unprofessional and doesn't honour it's commitments there is no need for bands or their fans to support them. This has been a clear example of why Whiskey Alley does not merit the support from bands or fans.

You can show your support here.
Or contact Mongrel here.

After one event was cancelled by the organizers in solidarity with the bands who had their gig pulled, and a huge groundswell of support from fans and members of other bands 'Whiskey Alley' had this to say.
Whiskey Alley
A Message to every band that thinks that they have a future date playing @ Whiskey Alley Just so there is no confusion your dates have been Cancelled and to all the patrons that have comments about these maters if you have attended one of these bands shows at Whiskey Alley then you would know that they were lucky to average 30 patrons other than band members

There's plenty of accounts of events pulling far more people, the management argueing about amounts of patrons attending in an effort to stiff bands of their door money, underage drinking, poor levels of security and more.
It's very clear to me that this has been a money making venture by individuals who have no interest in nurturing a local scene that would ultimately be to their financial benefit. Greedy and morally bankrupt seems to best describe them.
With any luck the DJ's who are going to be playing the club nights pick up on the lack of respect shown and follow the rock crowd out of the door leaving the venue to either die, or be taken over by others who know how to put a good night on for all concerned.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Mariachi El Bronx II

I wrote The Bronx off years ago.
The little I'd heard did nothing for me at the time, and seeing them in a support to 'someone or other' only served to cement in my lacklustre impression of them.
Due to this I've skimmed past them in record store racks, flipped past interviews in magazines and in general never let them darken my door.
So it's no surprise that I never picked up on their side project Mariachi El Bronx where they pay homage to the sounds of the Mariachi bands.
Now here I sit contemplating kicking myself repeatedly for holding onto this blinkered view of them
Put rather simply, Mariachi El Bronx II has just grabbed my attention as firmly as the sashaying backside of a lovely Señorita passing by on a summers day would.
I might even have whiplash.
While most Mariachi isn't sung in English the Bronx have really opened it up to a wider audience by stepping away slightly from the traditional path and I thank them for that.
Each song is a dramatically passionate story told with a great deal of panache as we would expect from hot blooded Latino.
Maybe its a bit stereotypically cartoonish in it's delivery, like an Elvis movie soundtrack, but that's not really a criticism as I'm goofing on it none the less.
All in all it has been a lovely little surprise and I think I'll have to check out The Bronx further now as they are obviously not as one dimensional as I previously thought them to be.

Eddie Spaghetti - Captains Rest - Glasgow (5/8/11)

Eddie Spaghetti is back on the road and has just rolled into Glasgow. Yeeeehaaaaa!!!!
This time he's without his Supersucker brothers in arms, but hey ho, one quarter of the self confessed greatest rock and roll band in the world is still better than most whole bands.......and you can take that to the bank buddy.
So what's the difference between a Supersuckers show and an Eddie Spaghetti gig?
Well the answer is intimacy.
He's right there larger than life, still the punk outlaw, still the front-man, but there's no set list.
Instead he's taking requests, there's more country than rock, and the atmosphere is one of camaraderie that feels pretty good.
There's something about what Eddie does that is ghostly familiar to Glaswegians, and that's probably why we've taken him, and his missing Supersuckers, to our hearts.
What it is, is the country twang.
Some may be surprised at that, but for some strange reason country music is very popular here in Scotland, and especially in Glasgow.
Hell. We even have our own 'Grand Ol' Opry'.
I'd say that it's down to most of us being raised on it.
I doubt there are many people who didn't grow up in a home that didn't have at least one Johnny Cash or Hank Williams album in it.
So when we hear Eddie what we really hear is out past calling to us, but with a bit more punk attitude to it.
It certainly hits the spot.
The punk attitude is right to the fore when he plays Ice Cubes 'Dead Homies', The Dwarves 'Everybody's Girl', The Lee Harvey Oswald Bands 'Jesus Never Lived On Mars' (written by Rick Sims - Didjits/Supersucker) and the Cash classic 'Cocaine Blues.
With his Cha, Cha, Cha, refrain that ends every song the crowd roar there approval, happily wallowing in the Pavlovian call and response play.
The songs from his latest solo album 'Sundowner' (mainly a covers affair) sit well within the loose framework of the set and the classic Supersuckers songs like Born with a Tail, Killer Weed (with it's story about Willie Nelson) and Pretty Fucked Up balance it all out to perfection.
As usual the only downside to a night like this one is that it goes past far too fast.
Good company, good music and good times always play havoc with my perception of time.
It feel like it was all over in the blink of an eye, but here's to the next blink, and I hope it's as good as a night in the company of Eddie Spaghetti.

Mucho love and appreciation to CJ who unfortunately couldn't attend the gig and supplied Kel and me with the tickets.

Friday 5 August 2011

Revolution Now!!!!

Home taping is killing music. It's a fact. They told us it was true so it must have been.
Downloading is killing music. Another fact. Don't question them. Just accept it.
Buying dodgy CDs and DVDs at the car boot sale is funding terrorism. It's true.
Do you want people to die because you need to have a crap copy of the latest Disney blockbuster?
Of course not.
There's one problem with all of this though.
It's bullshit.
Modern day propaganda. Although that's an outdated term.
It's called spin now. It sounds nicer.
Just a re-branding of something that has evil connotations.
What is killing music is actually capitalism.
The people who have been behind providing us with the music have always wanted an excessive slice of the pie and will walk all over anyone to get it.
Artists and fans are firmly to be kept clutching at the bottom rung of the ladder.
It has always been this way, and if they have their way then it always will.
Over recent years we have seen the repackaging phenomenon take root and fell for it.
Anniversary editions of favourite albums proliferate beside the nostalgia compilations on the racks and we dig deep to hear that singular unreleased bonus track.
I'm just as guilty as the next person for this, but I'm tired of it.
Tired of spending £10 to £15 for a remastered copy of an album I already have. Tired of paying for an album for one song. Tired of being abused as a fan by the labels.
Where is the investment coming from to nurture new talent?
There is none. They don't care. They're fiddling while Rome burns and the evidence is all around us.
The latest attempt to corner the market has really pissed me off to.
I'm not a fan of Jay-Z or Kanye West, but the forthcoming release of their album is a real slap in the face for music lovers and a step on a very slippery slope that will have an impact on all of us.
What is happening is that their album will be released to the public through i-tunes and the Best Buy chain in the US virtually two weeks prior to it being commercially available elsewhere.
To cut to the chase i-tunes and Best Buy will get the jump on their competitors.
Now while plenty of people will ask themselves why should they care I would ask them to think about where this leads.
Industry experts consider that 75% of the sales of a new album happen in the first ten days of its release.
This means that only 25% of sales will be covered by stores after i-tunes and Best Buy have their cut of sales, but wait. Not only that, but ongoing sales from i-tunes and Best Buy would be included in the 25% to.
So all in they may be getting 80%+ of the US market.
Bit shady in my opinion.
Of course some people may think that this is clever marketing, but when the rest of the record stores across the US are left to fight over the roughly 20% of sales that are left the result will be that the small independent stores will not be able to compete, and neither will some of the larger ones that are found in most cities.
The bottom line is closures, job losses and a greater strain on peoples tax dollars to support the newly unemployed.
Oh, but c'mon. It's just one album?
Well it isn't actually. In fact it's becoming more common.
AC/DC's Black Ice was given to Wal-Mart, while Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy and the Rolling Stones Biggest Bang DVD package, were also sold through Best Buy.
Starbucks have even had some pre-releases available to.
You want some Sheryl Crow with your crapaccino sir?
This is quite simply another prong in the attack on the consumer that has no foreseeable benefits.
It's the sign of an industry eating its own tail with no thought for the future.
We all know how much of an impact the supermarkets have had on local businesses globally.
It's all part of a tightening of the screw.
A protectionist attempt to corner a market, but in doing so they are limiting our choices as consumers.
They might have a few thousand copies of the greatest hits of Bucks Fizz in their aisle of music, but if that aint your thing then they are leaving you hanging.
So I want people to join me is saying 'Hell no'. If we don't participate in the game then in colloquial terms the game is a bogey, and what that means is everyone goes home.
Buy your albums direct from the bands and artists themselves like Ginger Wildheart and Tragic City Thieves.
Support labels like 'People Like You', STP, Newtown Products and the millions of others who provide music from the sidelines and are loathe to get their toes dirty by dipping into the major labels game of consume or die.
Go and see the band live and buy a t-shirt or whatever.
Lets just cut these money grabbing bastards out of the equation before the light goes out.
Let's take it back.