Saturday, 28 April 2012

Indietracks is Five!

Photo: CJ Wood

Hang about, you might say; shouldn’t Indietracks’ birthday fall in July? And you’d be right, but did you know that Indietracks started life as a one-day event, which took place on 28 April 2007 – five years ago today? With that in mind we’ve decided to declare Monday a PUBLIC HOLIDAY! Hmm, okay, we might have two birthdays but we’re not The Queen. But we can still celebrate, right? With cake? Yeah!

Before we get all watery-eyed with nostalgia, let’s delve a little into the history of Indietracks. How did it come about? How did someone decide that putting some indiepop bands on a heritage train platform in the middle of nowhere in potentially the rainiest month of the year was a good idea? 

Your writer here recalls the night Stuart Mackay was down in London for the weekend (at How Does It Feel to be Loved) and, after a few sherries, uttered the fateful few words that started the ball rolling. Stuart, who then worked and lived at the Midland Railway restoring trains, had clearly been pondering the idea for ages, but finally dared himself to say out loud - I think the railway might be a good place to put on some indiepop bands…He didn’t need much encouragement from me. It seemed like only days later that bands were booked, flyers printed, a web page set up, and a shyly written post left on the long-gone Bowlie forum.

Stuart writes: I occasionally worked on the bar on the train, and it was during the Halloween disco that my mind started toying with the idea of holding my own indiepop night. The train seemed ideal as the local towns of Sheffield and Nottingham already had well-established nights. I was fortunate to have befriended some of the Pocketbooks gang by then, and it was with their encouragement and insight into the inner workings of the indiepop world that plans evolved. And of course as soon as they heard that bands sometimes played in the station, they wanted to be part of the night. I thought that no one would come to a little railway in the middle of nowhere, from where it was hard to go home from. All 100 tickets were sold in three weeks. And that was in January - three months before the show!

I caught up with Claire Hill from Slow Down Tallahassee, one of the bands who played that day. She recalls: Us lot were so thrilled to be asked to play the very first Indietracks gig.  I still have the email from our friend imploring us to send in a demo so we can play ‘indiepop on a steam train’!!  I remember being slightly worried about falling about the carriage trying to play guitar, and must say I was pretty relieved to see the stage set up on the platform.  My residing memory of the gig was playing ‘Kiss Me Again’ with my dad stood on the front row (anyone familiar with this song will understand why it was slightly awkward to say the least) and drinking booze in the cosy train carriage watching the other bands, dressed in our finest 50s clobber and feeling like we were in a movie.  I can definitely say that out of all of the SDT gigs, that this was one of my favourites... ah them were the days.

Sam Metcalf, then of Tasty Fanzine, was the first person to ever play a record at Indietracks. I asked him what it was like to DJ on a moving steam train: It was roasting hot on that train - I remember that much. And when the train set off, there was hardly anyone in the carriage. Also, the power kept dropping every 15 seconds or so for a nanosecond, which I seemed to remember getting ridiculously tetchy about. Heaven knows why. Then Tonieee, then in The Parallelograms, came in with some Sheffield types and started dancing, and then loads more people came through, and after about ten minutes the carriage was a mass of sweaty bodies. Pleasing. I think I played 'Lloyd, Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken' by Camera Obscura twice.

Most of the current organisers of the festival were involved in some way on that day, either playing in a band, DJing, or dancing. I seem to recall two of those (nowt to do with me, honest) discovering Santa’s Grotto on a train carriage, which at the time was like opening the door into Narnia, and running amok waving tinsel in the air only to be told off by one of the railway staff, Andrea, who five years later is considered fondly as one of Team Indietracks, and without whom the whole damn thing would surely fall apart (and we still daren’t touch the tinsel).

Natalie, who now takes care of Indietracks press, says: I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the first Indietracks event. I knew it was going to be in the grounds of a steam railway, which was exciting in itself, but nothing could have prepared for me the thrilling feeling of that night. 

I remember watching Pocketbooks, shrouded in the steam from the train (it may have been fog, but I prefer to pretend it was steam!) and feeling like this little place in Derbyshire was somewhere we all suddenly belonged.  Later, someone played "They Don't Know" by Kirsty MacColl at the disco, and it struck me that it was the perfect sentiment for the whole evening. Just a hundred of us, in the middle of Derbyshire, dancing the night away to some of the best records ever made. No one may have known or heard about us, but I think we all knew that night was the start of something really special.

Ian and Marianthi, of London’s Spiral Scratch, also played records on the train that day and have since become organisers. Marianthi says: Five years seems like an awfully long time ago. But I remember the moment I found out about Indietracks and I remember dj-ing in a train carriage and dancing on a railway platform a few months later. I am pretty sure nothing happened between those two things and I am struggling to remember what came before the first one.

The greatness of Indietracks came with the idea itself. The crazy joy came with the realisation that it was actually real and not a figment of our collective overactive imagination. One hundred popkids, three bands, a steam train, the middle of Derbyshire. And we (Spiral Scratch) got to play some records which made people dance and bang their heads against the ceiling of the disco carriage and open the door to the platform and dance there too. We couldn't believe it. We still can't. I remember playing 'Get Out Of My Dream' by The Clouds and thinking that maybe, maybe this is the "somewhere else" in the song. I'd never felt so rooted in the present as I did that night. I'd never wanted to be there and for it to be then as much ever before. I'd never known such blissful disbelief on the faces of one hundred people before - although I've known it every summer since.

Sandy Gill was there that day, and she writes: I think I first heard about Indietracks on the Bowlie forum. That was probably where, because I think that's where I heard about most things at the time. It seemed like everyone I knew was going and I decided to go as well and see what a day of indiepop bands, steam trains and discos would actually be like. it turned out it was pretty amazing! 

We weren't really sure what we were doing, just that we'd be going to Nottingham that there were some minibuses booked and that those would get us to the right place. And they did! We arrived at the station and you could definitely feel the excitement all around. I'm not really sure which of the three things I was more excited about - trains, discos or bands. It was probably the combination of all 3. 

The bands were great and we got to ride the steam train between each set. It really did feel pretty magical. I have lots of highlights but one of them (maybe even a LIFE HIGHLIGHT) was getting to make the train make the choo choo noise! I can't actually express the insane levels of joy I experienced in that moment. It's way harder than it seems and it was REALLY loud and I just started giggling. It was a pretty amazing moment. Thankfully my friend, knowing about my camera shyness, secretly filmed the whole thing and my giddiness is very apparent. 

Another highlight was when we started dancing (to keep warm at first) and then before we knew it, EVERYONE around us was dancing and smiling and the station became a massive dance-a-thon! Platform dancing, dancing on the train, dancing anywhere we could, really! And singing. And hugging. It was pretty surreal...but the whole thing just *worked* and everybody looked so happy. 

It's one of those days that will always be perfect in my memory. Even my hair was the most perfect it's ever been that day. I'm so glad we still have Indietracks 5 years later. It's hard to imagine life without it now <3

Awww! And we’re glad that all of these lovely people still come to Indietracks every year.

Y’know, I had prepared my own paragraph of memories and favourite bits to write here, but everyone I asked was so keen to contribute to this blog post that they have covered everything I would have. All that’s left to say is that Indietracks wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these people, and the hundreds more of you that come to the festival and make it so great each year. You’re all part of Indietracks, and so it’s not just for us to celebrate - it's Happy Birthday to all of you too!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Indietracks interview #7: The Silver Factory

The Silver Factory began in Leicester in 2008 in the head of Fran Feely. Fran decided to start a musical project which embraced some of his musical heroes from the eighties, such as The Stone Roses, The Field Mice, The Sea Urchins and other groups from the C86 movement, but at the same time, reflected his passion for some other bands from the sixties like The Ronettes, The Shangri-Las, and The Byrds. Marc Johnston joined the band as singer, followed by bassist Luke Headland, drummer Paul Hobbs and guitarist Matt Vinall. Fran joined us for a quick interview ahead of their appearance at Indietracks this year...

Hi Fran, tell us a little bit about The Silver Factory - how do you all know each other?

I have known Marc the singer for about 15 years as one of my best friends. I met the other members through music finder site ads.

How would you describe your songs?

Catchy jangle pop with a darker undercurrent.

You've signed to Elefant records and you're playing in Spain in May. How did the Elefant connection come about and why did you pick that label?

I was a big fan of Camera Obscura and sent a demo to Elefant records. At the same time Shindig Magazine’s Jon Mills contacted the label with our self funded video and they really liked it and us. We signed July 2011 in Madrid, and we’re playing a Spanish festival and also Club Elefant in Madrid in May.

Please tell us a bit about the upcoming mini-LP If Words Could Kill?

The mini LP will be released on 10” vinyl as a limited edition of 500 copies with a download voucher. There will be two videos for the release; the first video will be out April 30 and the second video will be out on May 21 alongside the physical release of the 10” in the UK. Outside the UK the 10” will be out between April 30 and May 21. We’re very proud of the songs and the production. It really gels well as a mini LP.

You've all been in various bands before (Fran and Peter were in The Psychotic Reaction, Marc was in The Junipers, Luke was in The Carnabys). Do you approach being in a band differently now compared to when you formed your very first bands?

Yes. You learn how to agree and enjoy the most important things which is making good music and enjoying the process.

You're a Leicester band, so surely you've popped over to Indietracks before? What are you looking forward to this time?

We love the festival and me and my girlfriend attend every year. It's a real buzz to be playing. I am really looking forward to seeing Veronica Falls and The Vaselines to name a few of a great line up.

You list The Stone Roses as one of your musical heroes. How do you feel about this year's reunion? Are you going to the shows?

I managed to get tickets for Heaton Park on the Friday within two minutes of them going on sale. It became on obsession at work to ensure I got tickets... my bosses understood which was lucky. We are all fans of the band and all share the opinion that it is a great thing. The age of the band or the reasons for the reunion is not important. They wrote great songs and they still look cool so good on them! It is going to be the highlight of the year watching this great band perform again. We are also excited to hearing their new tunes too!

Thanks Fran, see you at Indietracks.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Indietracks interview #6: Orca Team

Interview by Andy Hart (A Fog Of Ideas) and Sam Metcalf (A Layer Of Chips)

Orca Team is a 1960s post punk beach party from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest made up of Dwayne Cullen, Leif Anders and Jessica B. They started out in Portland, Oregon, but have since migrated up to Seattle. They’ve released two 7” singles on HHBTM Records, a 2010 album ‘Let It Go’ and the 2011 EP 'Kissing Cousins'. Their new album ‘Restraint’ will be released in June, just in time for Indietracks!

Hi, tell us more about the band, how did you meet, etc.

Leif: Dwayne and I met officially right after I graduated high school. It was on a camping trip. We had known one another from before but we had never talked in passing. We thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. Dwayne kept making terrible and inappropriate jokes and I continued to laugh at them. While I was in college, we saw one another fairly often throughout the years. Eight years after we met one another, I asked if he wanted to be in a band with me but the conditions were he couldn't play any fills on the drums.

I met Jessica while at college. We both attended Western Washington University. We were both interested in ‘zine making and the girlfriend I had at the time made a club inspired by making ‘zines. Jessica and I were polite to one another but never made any real strong connections. Years later when I moved down to Portland, a mutual Bellingham friend reintroduced us. It was very special and we realized how much we relished in one another's company.

We originally started the band with Jessica playing bass guitar and me playing guitar. After trying to write a couple of songs, we realized it sounded terrible. I was just trying to do a bunch of shredding on guitar while Jessica was just hitting root notes on the bass. We decided to work with one another to build a sound with more tension. Jessica had never played guitar so we worked together to have a new language of song writing that used intervals rather than chords. I had never played bass before ORCA TEAM so I have no real understanding of what I should or should not be doing.

Dwayne: Leif and I met on a camping trip. I didn't know him, but we hit it off immediately like best friends telling sweet jokes and making fun of the assholes at high school. I met Jessica when Leif and her were dating. I had a pretty sweet moustache then. She judged it as a poor stylistic choice. Needless to say, it took a bit to convince Jessica that I wasn't a BRO.

Had you all been in bands before?

Leif: Yes. I have been in a couple terrible bands. Euphoric 2002 – 2007. Pastiche 2007 – 2008. Some bands that don't really count: Geena Davis and The Solid States 2007 (with Dwayne on drums!), My Modern Leg 2008. Some pretty cool bands: Fuck You Safari 2008 – 2010; Doppelbangers 2008 – 2009; The Squealers 2008 – 2009; Tron 2009. And some really cool bands: Besties 2010 – 2011; Corals (currently).

Dwayne: I was in a band called Elsewhere while I lived in Ireland. We practiced for three months then played one show and I moved back.

You've put records out on different labels - have you always been approached, or did you have to go begging?

Leif: Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records approached us and we were very honored. We have been approached for the most part but sometimes there is a difference between what you get offered and what you want. I kind of went in begging to T.V. Coahran at GGNZLA Records because we needed tapes for a US tour. Luckily, he was very considerate and made lovely EP tapes for us quickly.

Dwayne: I'd do a lot more than beg if Leif and Jessica would let me. Winkey Face.

Tell us more about who influences the band - musical and non-musical.

Modern Music: Jan & Dean, Cocteau Twins, Deerhoof, The Intelligence, Hella, PJ Harvey, Roxy Music, The Doors, Young Marble Giants, Iron Maiden, Death From Above 1979, Interpol, Suicide, Dusty Springfield, Sleater Kinney, Bloc Party, Good Shoes, Pylon, Marine Girls, The Sound, The Fall, Bikini Kill, The Slits, Roy Orbison, The Shags, The Ramones, The O'Jays. There are probably some more bands and artists too.

Composers: Phillip Glass, Debussy, Chopin, Bach, Tchaikovsky.

Film Directors: David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Wishman, Russ Meyer, George A. Romero, Maya Deren, William Friedkin, Jane Campion, Guy Madden, John Moritsugu.

Films: Wild At Heart, Le Jette, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, Shaft In Africa, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Alien, A Boy and His Dog, The French Connection, Twin Peaks, Taxi Driver, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, To Live and Die in LA, Diehard, Detroit 9000, The Road Warrior, Flirting, Vertigo, Strangers On a Train, Up!, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Barton Fink, The Omega Man, Soylent Green, Cannibal Holocaust, The Beyond, Mod Fuck Explosion, Double Agent 73, most 007 films, Falling Down, most Friday the 13th films, Rebecca, Warriors of the Waste Land, The Thing (1982), Escape From New York, Martin, The Crazies (1973), My Bloody Valentine, El Topo, High Planes Drifter, The Joy Luck Club.

Dwayne: My lifetime influences are Gary Larson and Bill Watterson. Musical: the Smashing Pumpkins brought me out of just listening to generic radio music. The last few years I've been really into hip-hop and rap. I wish so badly that when I was thirteen I had listened to Destiny's Child and Alliyah instead of KoRn.

Not that I'm complaining, but what's with the shorts?

Leif: Those pasty white legs are for ladies’ eyes. I'm pretty sure they understand it. It's rare that a man will wear a pair of shorts that hang under his knee. It's kind of sexy in a backwards way to see a man wearing something so small. Also, have you ever played a show in the summer in Arizona? It’s 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It's hot. Plus, I look cute. An upstanding gentleman like yourself wouldn't appreciate them; so sorry to inform you.

Dwayne: I have no problem wearing short shorts. It’s tucking everything away buffalo bill style that sucks. AND the lipstick. AND the shaved legs.

Have you been to the UK before? And had you heard of Indietracks?

Leif: I think we have all been to the UK before but not for music or band reasons. I heard of Indietracks years ago from following blogs dealing with Slumberland Records. It seemed like such a wonderful idea. Actually playing this year is like a dream come true.

Dwayne: I know it’s not the same, but my family is from Ireland, and I lived there a year. I visited England, Cambridge, and Leeds for two weeks. I can't wait to have another pastie. Did I spell that right? England has some excellent beers by the way.

What are you looking forward to most about coming to play?

Leif: Making fun of the other bands there. And stealing merch. Just kidding! I think we are all looking forward to seeing all of the other lovely bands playing a meeting a bunch of cool people. We are planning a UK tour so we are very excited to travel around the UK. I've never been north of London.

Dwayne: Hopefully running into Seal. I hear he's available

And which bands are you looking forward to seeing?

Leif: Sea Lions, Go Sailor, Allo Darlin', Veronica Falls, Tigercats, Standard Fare, September Girls, Themakingof, Joanna Gruesome, and Girls Names.

Dwayne: Allo Darlin', September Girls (maybe I can impress them with my Dublin accent), Girls Names sound awesome, and I'm stoked to see Doggy.

Do you have any songs about trains and, if not, would it be wise to write one in time for Indietracks (which is a festival with trains)?

Leif: We do not have any songs about trains. I think it would be a cute gesture to write a song about a train or trains but to write one specifically for the festival sounds extremely trite. Almost to the point of trying to win favours except I don't believe anyone would remember the song or the gesture. Reminds me of when local artists write songs dedicated to the city they live in. It's a little too saccharine. A little too bland for my taste. Like eating paper.

If you were putting on an Orca Team festival (at Seaworld?) what bands would you have on the bill (living or dead)?

Leif: Seapony, Sea Lions, Black Whales, Shark!, Narwhal Party, Shark Toys, Whale Bones, Orcas, Orcateers, Orca Orca, Shannon 'n Thee Clams, Guantanamo Baywatch, Beach Fossils, Beach House, Blood Beach, Nude Beach and The Beatles (why not right?)

If for some reason you were otherwise detained who (living or dead) would play Orca Team in a film about Orca Team and what would the plot be about and who would direct and when can we see this film and what would it be called (this is one question)?

Leif - young Beck or Topher Grace
Jessica - Carrie Mulligan
Dwayne - Thomas Everett Scott

"In a time when the price of oil was on a steady incline, one band decided to cram their bodies and gear into a Toyota Corolla and travel around the United States. That band was called Soundgarden. Psych! No, no, it was just this band called ORCA TEAM. Got you though, huh?"

It would probably be a film about all the sad aspects of being in a band. The loss of hope while trying extremely hard at producing something. Never being satisfied. Showing up in random towns and playing for no one. But it would be pretty cool to see how things were usually wrapped in a positive tension. Also, I think it would be dry enough that the parts where Jessica and I fight would end up being very funny.

If I wanted the film to have no accuracy but sell well - Oliver Stone
If I wanted the film to include an interlude that involved mediation - David Lynch
If I wanted the film to have a part where the character of Leif asked someone to continually punch him in the face - Martin Scorsese
If I wanted the film to hallmark how Jessica was the most important piece of the band - Kimberly Pierce
Ideal directors for this film: Harold Ramis, Kathryn Bigelow, or Iain Softley.

If you could have written and recorded any song ever and claim it as your own then what song would that be?

The Promise - When In Rome
Head Over Heals - Tear For Fears
Asturias (Leyenda) - Isaac Albeniz
With A Girl Like You - The Troggs
Sand - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Sometimes - Sunny Day Real Estate
Silence - PJ Harvey
White Tennis Sneakers - Jan & Dean
Sleepwalk - Santo & Johnny
Leif Erikson - Interpol
Reptilia - The Strokes
The Hot Rock - Sleater Kinney
Falling Away With You - Muse
Stranger In Moscow - Michael Jackson
Take It Serious - Mika Miko
Dead City/Waste Wilderness - Abe Vigoda
Patience Is Proving - Apartment
The Last Day of Winter - iLiKETRAiNS
Small Town Girl - Good Shoes

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Want to run a stall at Indietracks?

Each year we welcome applications from stallholders to trade in the Indietracks merch marquee. Over the years we've had record stalls, vintage clothes, hand-made jewellery, and lots of other crafty curiosities! Indietracks a great place to trade, with a lively fun atmosphere and a lot of friendly visitors passing through. The merch marquee is often the scene of spontaneous acoustic performances, so it's a really great place to be! Many of our traders return each year and always do really well.

Applications are now open to anyone interested in running a stall at the festival, which runs from 6-8 July 2012.

If you would like to apply, please send an email to Emma at with details about your stall, along with a link to your website and photos of your product. Please note there will be a small fee to stallholders, payable in advance, to cover the cost of marquee hire for The Midland Railway, and to guarantee a space is held for you.

We look forward to receiving your application!

(Picture: White Town in 2011, taken by Another Form Of Relief)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Indietracks interview #5: The Rosie Taylor Project

The Rosie Taylor Project originally hail from Leeds and have now relocated to London. They were signed after just a handful of gigs and released their debut album 'This City Draws Maps' on Bad Sneakers Records in 2008. Live shows followed with Camera Obscura, Midlake, Jens Lekman and Jeffrey Lewis, as well as an Indietracks 2008 appearance and several live sessions for Marc Riley on BBC 6Music.

The band recently returned to the studio to record their second album 'Twin Beds' (Odd Box Records). The album includes the single 'Sleep', which picked up radio play on BBC Radio 1, 2 and 6. Produced by Richard Formby (Wild Beasts, Herman Dune) and with a guest vocal appearance from Wild Beasts’ singer Tom Fleming, the album has picked up rave reviews. Sam from the Rosie Taylor Project joined us for a quick chat.

Your first album came out in 2008. Why the gap between then and your new album?

We started recording Twin Beds in 2009 and figured by 2010 it'd be released but then there were health issues, personnel swaps and our original label folded. To reach a point where we could release and promote the album took some time but it has allowed us to grow with the songs. We're really happy with the results and that we've once again put it out through a great independent label.

When we last interviewed you in 2008 you were a Leeds band. Now you're mostly London. What was behind the switch?

Leeds is special place and we loved our time there. It almost makes you believe Tom Courtenay's character in the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner when he claims 'There's other places besides London you know?', but he's not quite right. What he perhaps came to learn is that 'for three years or so there's other places besides London, but after that you'll probably be thinking about London'.

Please tell us a bit about the new album 'Twin Beds'. You've described your new record as a product of the new 'depression era'?

The depression era comment simply refers to the fact that the lyrical content transpired to be a record of smaller observations rather than a record of grand plans, something which a recession tends to reel in. There's a lot of loss in Twin Beds, loss of love, loss through death, loss simply by losing routine, like in 'For Esme', should his cherished boats not return one summer. These occasions will tend to bring a renewed appreciation of the smaller things.

The album has received great reviews, and you've been compared with Jens Lekman, Fanfarlo, Elliot Smith and Low, among others. Which comparisons are you most comfortable or happiest with?

We would be most happy with beyond comparison but those are all great artists so that can only be welcomed. Though it's an odd feeling when you repeatedly get compared to someone you've never really listened to, and this may come as a surprise, a band like Belle & Sebastian.

Jonny and Shakey directed the video to Sleep. How did you find that experience? How important are videos to the band?

It's very liberating to be in control of any content you create and filming 'Sleep' was just beautiful. Most of it we shot in St Ives last spring; essentially we were on holiday. I think if every time we make a video we are required to go on holiday then I would say, certainly, they are extraordinarily important to this band.

What's next for the band? Will there be any more releases in 2012 to follow up the album?

The single 'Every Morning (and For The Rest of our Lives)' is our next release through Odd Box Records. Shakey has made another video for it that we're on the brink of sharing with you. More shows, they're fun to do, and all the time we'll be working on the follow up to Twin Beds.

What are your favourite memories from Indietracks 2008 and what are you most looking forward to this year?

The sunshine driving the somewhat pale (but none the less beautiful) crowd to hide underneath train carriages in search of shade was a personal highlight. Indiepop fans and blazing sunshine are not natural bed fellows

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Last chance to buy early bird tickets

Just a quick reminder that our early bird Indietracks ticket offer expires at 5.00pm this Saturday (14 April). Please pick up your tickets before then if you want to grab a bargain for this year's festival!

Adult weekend tickets are £7 cheaper if you buy them by Saturday. Early bird weekend tickets cost £60 and day tickets cost £32.50, increasing to £67 and £35 respectively after the offer ends.

Under 5s can come along free, and 5-14s can come for just £6 (day) and £10 (weekend).

Tickets are available from the Indietracks website at 

Bands playing at Indietracks this year include The Vaselines, Allo Darlin', Summer Camp, Veronica Falls, Go Sailor, The Monochrome Set, Standard Fare, White Town, Tigercats, The June Brides, Evans The Death, Gordon McIntyre, Gold-Bears, Tender Trap and dozens more fantastic indiepop bands.

Hope you'll be able to join us in July!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Indietracks interview #4: Tender Trap

Interview by Stuart Huggett

Tender Trap started the year by completing the recording of their fourth album, the follow up to 2010’s ‘Dansette Dansette’. When we spoke, Amelia Fletcher (vocals) was fighting a hacking cough, but she and partner Rob Pursey (bass) cheerfully filled us in on their past experiences of playing Indietracks, as well as other Popfests, pizza joints and frat houses around the world.

Can you tell us when the new album’s coming out?
Amelia: It just needs mastering, and we need to finalise the sleeve. It seems like you finish recording and mixing, and you think you’re ready to go, then you suddenly remember a billion other things you have to do first. I think it’s due to come out in about July. I’m really hoping that, even if it’s not out by Indietracks, we can bring copies along and sell them there. When you’re into the new songs you don’t really want to play any old songs live. Obviously you want people in the Indietracks audience to know some of the songs you’re playing, but it’s nicer if people have heard the album first.

There have been quite long gaps between Tender Trap albums before, but this one seems to have come along quicker. Do you have more time to devote to the band these days?
Amelia: It’s partly that, and partly actually having a full band now. There’s five people who are all keen to have new songs to be working on. I dunno why it inspires you, but it really does help you bother to sit down and write songs, the fact that you know there are people ready to play them.

Since you last played Indietracks in 2010, you’ve lost Elizabeth (Morris, Allo Darlin’) and gained Emily (Bennett, Betty & The Werewolves). Has this changed the band’s sound?
Amelia: Yeah, Emily’s got a slightly different sensibility in terms of writing backing vocals, and guitar wise she really rocks. I think Elizabeth had never actually played guitar before she joined Tender Trap. Obviously in Allo Darlin’ she mainly used to play ukulele, and she did incredibly well on guitar for us. But Emily’s been playing guitar for years, and it does make a difference, I think. What was interesting about that last Indietracks (when Betty & The Werewolves also played) was our kids were there. For some reason they particularly focussed on Emily. They really liked her, and she really liked them. So actually that’s worked really well, they get to see loads of her now.

Do you find Indietracks to be family friendy?
Rob: The kids were very, very excited when we got asked to play again. Last time they managed to perch on the edge of the stage, and were singing along and deflecting all the attention away from everybody else. They became the stars of the show, which was either cute or annoying, depending on your perspective.

Did they enjoy the steam train rides?
Amelia: Yeah, they really loved that.
Rob: I think I preferred that to them, actually.
Amelia: It’s not that Indietracks is as set up for kids as some of the festivals are, but because we’ve not been to those other festivals, and the kids haven’t either, they don’t know any better. And there’s a playground, and, you know, they’re basically happy. They’re young enough just to be excited about stuff.

Do you have ambitions to do a set on the train?
Amelia: I’d really like to do that actually, I don’t know why we never have. As ambitions go, it’s one we could achieve quite easily! Maybe we should ask if we can this time.
Rob: I think it’s true that Indietracks is the only festival I’ve ever been to that I’ve liked. That really is true. I’ve been to lots of others and thought, why am I paying all this money to live like a refugee? I thought that Indietracks was just brilliant.

How does Indietracks compare with other indiepop festivals overseas? It strikes me that Indietracks has a much more even gender balance, on stage and in the crowd, than many mainstream festivals.
Rob: Yeah. I certainly think the one in Spain, which is quite small, is like 50-50 men and women.
Amelia: It may be the style of music as well. There’s a lot of female people that like indie music, or the kind of indiepop music Indietracks specialises in.
Rob: And New York, actually. The atmosphere was intelligent and nobody was taking their shirt off and spraying beer around.
Amelia: It was really, really good fun. On that trip we only played two gigs, there and Philadelphia. We got put in touch with this guy who asked us to play his place, and we didn’t realise ‘til we got there that it was a frat house.
Rob: It was a punk frat house. I could almost have never really believed that frat houses actually existed, apart from in films. But it really was one.
Amelia: It really was.
Rob: And we played it.

Was it as raucous as you’d fear?
Rob: There was nobody barfing on people’s heads or anything. It was a really cool, sort of alternative frat house, so it didn't have any of the things you might expect. But there were lots of pictures on the wall of the ‘Class of ‘57’ and stuff, who looked pretty... square. And a bit Masonic. But the current lot were quite normal. It was like being at an indie club, but with weird Greek letters on the door. A normal indie club with freaky extras.

The Masonic indie club network, perhaps?
Rob: Just like a standard indie club really. We did once play in America where people were trying to eat their dinner. This was with Heavenly, I think. It was a club where people would come for a steak or a pizza after work. There were some fans standing in amongst them, but most people were just trying to get on with eating their enormous steaks, and didn't appreciate having an indie band making a horrible racket while they were tucking in. That was in New York too.

Will Tender Trap be returning to the USA soon?
Rob: If we could organise the time, we would. We were invited a couple of times, and we want to go to the West Coast, so it’s just a question of making it work so we can be there long enough.
Amelia: To get over jet lag.
Rob: There’s also the debate about whether children should come or children should stay, and at this point I notice a child has appeared next to me. She is making a thumbs up gesture, which means she must come. It’s just logistically it gets a bit complicated.
Amelia: And money-wise it gets a bit complicated as well.
Rob: But I’m sure we will.

Meanwhile, you’re supporting The Magnetic Fields in April, including a big show at the Royal Festival Hall (25 April).
Rob: Yeah, it’s pretty big. And we’re pretty terrified. We’ve played big places with Heavenly or Marine Research in our time, but I think this is the biggest. It’s the most intimidating place I think we’ll have ever played. Partly we’re worried that we’ll have to be really politely quiet. When you play quietly all the kind of, let’s say imperfections, come to the surface. When it’s loud, it all melds rather nicely, or at least to the point where nobody can tell. So we’re worried about being a bit rubbish. And you feel like you’re being scrutinised more when people are sitting down. They can’t express themselves physically, they just have to frown or tut.

And there’s some dates with The Pooh Sticks too.
Amelia: Yeah, well actually Tender Trap aren’t playing. I’m singing. People assumed we would be playing the Bristol gig (20 April), but because we were doing The Magnetic Fields stuff we just thought it was all too much. In fact, I'm now not singing at the Bristol gig either, so Hue’s not entirely happy with me, but I am playing the Brighton gig (21 April).

Are these the last of The Pooh Sticks’ reunion shows?
Amelia: I really, really don’t know, ‘cos every time I talk to Hue he kind of says, “Oh well, that’s it.” And then I suddenly get an email, “Oh, will you do three more gigs?” I think basically Hue really enjoys it and he can’t quite bear to stop. It is really, really good fun, so I understand his feelings.
Rob: Also, he has got a really good band together. I think it sounds a lot better than it did, personally, so it must be a real shame to feel you should stop just when they’re getting really good.

How do you feel about older indie bands reforming for shows at places like Indietracks?
Rob: Well, it’s like meeting someone you went out with 20 years ago, and now you think, “God, you look really old!” And they think the same about you. No, it can be quite nice.
Amelia: It is really nice.
Rob: We saw The Orchids the other day. We played with them in Spain, and they were brilliant. They were really, really good. I mean, we kind of refuse to do older songs, because it’s like a new band and it’s all about doing new songs. But sometimes you see bands knocking out the old songs only, which I find a bit depressing.
Amelia: It’s a point of some conflict, because I think that people always want to hear a few old songs and therefore we ought to play them. Whereas Rob very much always wants to play the new songs. So we very occasionally do a pretty old song these days. We did a Talulah Gosh song at Indietracks last time, so we’ll see.
Rob: We’re the only two people who were in that band, although actually I was only in Talulah Gosh for about 10 minutes before I left. In horror. I find it more like being an archivist than being in a band, if you just start knocking out old things.

Talking of your old bands, are you both featured in the Story of Sarah Records film that’s coming out?
Amelia: See, I have been interviewed for that, but Rob hasn’t. But I seem to remember saying some things that I ended up realising were slightly false, so I'm terrified of seeing the film.
Rob: What did you say?
Amelia: Well, Calvin (Johnson, Beat Happening) had described me as a “benevolent dictator” in Heavenly, and I kind of said I thought that was quite accurate.
Rob: What, you were like President Mubarak before he got horrible?
Amelia: Just like that! Then I described how it was partly in Talulah Gosh that I hated singing other people’s words, and so I said I was only going to sing my own words. Then I remembered that in Heavenly I did sing other people’s words by the end.
Rob: Not so much a dictator as an appropriator. We were listening to an old Heavenly song the other day – ‘Starshy’, which was on the second Heavenly LP. Someone had found an old clip of us playing it live, actually in front of some more Americans eating. Loads of students eating pizza in San Jose. And Amelia said, “I don’t remember writing that.” And I said, “That’s because you didn't write it.” She was rather smugly contemplating her brilliance at having written this song, and actually she didn't write it at all. So it’s not really like a dictator. It’s more hegemony than fascism.
Amelia: I still think I wrote it!

Finally, who are you looking forward to at Indietracks this year?
Amelia: I’m not quite sure who’s confirmed yet. I am quite excited to see Allo Darlin’, but I have seen them quite a lot of times.
Rob: Veronica Falls are played quite a lot in this house, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.
Amelia: They’ve obviously got the best people still.
Rob: I don’t care really. I think if the weather’s nice, it’ll be great.

Thanks, see you in July! In the meantime, here's 'Love Is Hard Enough', the first song from Tender Trap's new album 'Ten Songs About Girls'.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Vaselines and Summer Camp join Indietracks 2012

The Vaselines, Summer Camp, The Monochrome Set and The Jasmine Minks have been added to the line-up for this year’s Indietracks Festival, which takes place on 6-8 July 2012 at the Midland Railway in Ripley, Derbyshire.

Indietracks are partnering with American indiepop label Slumberland Records for this year’s festival, and bands already announced so far include Allo Darlin’, Veronica Falls, The June Brides, Go Sailor, White Town, Tender Trap, Evans the Death, Girls Names, Standard Fare, Gordon McIntrye (Ballboy) and Tigercats.

The Vaselines are a Glasgow garage pop band formed around the songwriting duo of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee. The band formed in 1986, releasing two EPs before splitting up the same week that their first album 'Dum-Dum' (53rd and 3rd Records) was released. Kurt Cobain described the pair as his "most favorite songwriters in the whole world", and Nirvana covered their songs 'Son of a Gun' and 'Molly's Lips', bringing the band to wider acclaim. In 2006 the band reformed and have played shows and festivals across the world over the last five years. Sub Pop marked their reunion by releasing the compilation 'Enter The Vaselines'. This was followed by the band’s second studio album 'Sex With An X' in 2010.

Summer Camp are a lo-fi indie pop duo formed in October 2009 by multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Warmsley and vocalist Elizabeth Sankey. They draw influences from 60s girl groups and 80s synth pop as well as classic 80s teen movies such as Heathers and Sixteen Candles. They received rave reviews for their debut EP 'Young EP' in 2010, and their first full length album 'Welcome to Condale' in 2011, which was co-produced by Pulp’s Steve Mackey.

The Monochrome Set are an British post-punk band led by Indian-born singer Bid. They signed to Rough Trade in 1979, releasing a string of influential singles 'He's Frank', 'Eine Symphonie des Grauens', and their signature tune 'Monochrome Set'. The band went on to release a dozen albums, embracing a wide range of styles from art-school punk to cabaret and melodic pop. The band reformed in 2011 to perform songs from their forthcoming new studio album 'Platinum Coils', their first album since 1995's 'Trinity Road'.

The Jasmine Minks are an indiepop band whose early singles were among the first to be released by Creation Records. They released six albums, toured with The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream and The House of Love, and recorded a session for John Peel before disbanding in 2001. The band have now reformed and are playing their first shows in 10 years.

For the full line-up announced so far, please visit the Indietracks website:

Early bird tickets: available until Saturday 14 April
Weekend tickets are now available at an early bird discount price of £60 (standard price £67). Single day (Saturday or Sunday) early bird tickets are available for £32.50 (standard price £35). The early bird prices are only available until 5pm on Saturday 14 April.

Tickets for children aged 5-14 are £6 for a day ticket and £10 for the weekend. Under-5s get in free. Tickets are available by calling the railway direct on 01773 747 674 or by visiting

Monday, 2 April 2012

Indietracks interview #3: The June Brides

Phil Wilson, of course, needs no introduction. I dare say if it wasn’t for The June Brides, none of us would be here.  Despite being active for the briefest of periods: “From In the Rain to This Town in 18 months”, their legacy was secured. So when Phil Wilson returned as a solo artist, and then with a fully-fledged June Brides reunion, it was only a matter of time until we grabbed them for our summer stage. And, as a special treat there’s new June Brides material which we were lucky to speak to Phil about.

I saw you play a solo show at the Christmas Twee in 2009. What do you remember from the show?
I remember it being bloody cold! But also damned good fun. It felt like you were in a strange, alternate parallel universe or some odd, old British film with eccentric types gathered together to celebrate some unlikely pagan festival in the middle of nowhere! It was great.

So what prompted The June Brides reformation?
Well, we didn’t really plan to reform, and I’m not 100 per cent sure we have, to be honest. It just sort of happened. I formed a band three years ago with Andy Fonda on Drums and Arash Torabi on bass, with the intention of doing the odd concert or two for fun. We played a few as a trio, but then two of the original June Brides, Frank Sweeney and Jon Hunter decided to join us for the odd concert. I continued to call the band after myself, just to make the point that it was a new start, and I didn’t want to cash in on the June Brides name. However, when The Loft contacted us last year to play a one off concert with them to recreate Alan McGee’s Living Room club, I asked our old guitarist Simon Beesley to play with us. From there on it, it seemed a bit foolish to resist referring to it as The June Brides any longer. 

It’s been nearly 30 years since The June Brides formed. How have you been able to reinvigorate your passion in the band?
I still feel as passionately about music as I always have, and playing music live still fires me up as much as it ever did. I can’t help but get fired up. I’ve always been really proud of the music we created as a band. I believe we were different, and made a huge effort to grow and develop in the short time we were together. From In the Rain to This Town in 18 months was quite a leap, and it remains a joy to play those songs. Also, it’s fun to mix them with the best of the newer stuff.  I need the old and the new to keep it interesting.

What made you want to play Indietracks?
I’ve wanted to play Indietracks for years. If we have a spiritual home anywhere, then it surely lies on a steam train going through a field in the Midlands surrounded by lovely indiepop folk.  I really couldn’t think of a festival I’d rather play.

Have you played festivals before?
Not many. When we were playing in the 1980s there were very, very few. It was really only Glastonbury, Reading and (shudders) Donnington. We did play Glastonbury in 1986, but it was a fairly unpleasant affair. Way too many hippies back then.

You have new songs, January Moon and Cloud, tell me about them.
As well as playing in this band, Arash, Andy and I also play with the singer-songwriter Nick Halliwell, who records as Granite Shore. We played on the single Flood of Fortune, and recorded four more songs for the next Granite Shore album. But Nick wasn’t happy with those as they ended up sounding more like my band than his. One of those we recorded was Cloud, and I thought it was far too good to just leave it. So we took the recording and worked it up as a June Brides song.  I then wrote January Moon as a complimentary tune, so we could release it as a double-A single.

Can we expect further new songs to be played at Indietracks or is it purely going to be all the best known songs?
There’s a time and a place for new stuff, and I don’t really think it’s at a celebratory mid-summer festival like Indietracks. We’ll be playing the best of the June Brides stuff and some recent releases, but there’s no fear of a jazz funk odyssey being unleashed on the pop kids, I promise.

There seems to be a resurgence of 80’s oriented indie of late. What do you is so alluring about that era to today’s younger indie fan?
I think there remains something really positive about that music, as it was really outside of the mainstream, and a lot of it was genuinely independent in spirit and attitude. It’s proper outsider music untainted by the corporate music business. And that punk rock spirit is appealing.

You seem very close to your fans, is it important to maintain a connection with fans and friends?
I remain, first and foremost, a music fan and I genuinely enjoy being involved with other interested folks. And if people have invested their money and passion in you, then I think you have a real responsibility to acknowledge that and to treat them with respect. I may fail on occasion, but I try to do it, honest.

Who else are you looking forward to see at Indietarcks and will you be around for the whole weekend?
Loads of people! I’ve really wanted to see Gold Bears and Allo Darlin’ for a while, Veronica Falls should be great and Sea Lions were rocking when I saw them last year in San Francisco. There are so many things to look forward to, so we’re coming for both Saturday and Sunday.

What are you most looking forward to with The June Brides now? Are they going to continue after Indietracks?
I really don’t know! I never really expected to be playing music at this stage of my life, so I try not to plan too far ahead. If things happen, then that’s great. If not, life goes on…. It’s an adventure.

Thanks Phil, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Fingers crossed the double-A Cloud and January Moon will be out in time for Indietracks, but if you can't wait that long, you can find them on YouTube.

David Newbury