Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Indietracks interview #4: The Understudies

The Understudies reputation as an enthralling electric live band continues to grow with every shake of singer Brian's quiff. Fragile and robust in equal measures in the grand tradition of British guitar bands like The Smiths they stand out as unique in London's indiepop music scene. Their single "Everyone Deserves At Least One Summer of Love" is available from Odd Box Records, and there's an album coming very soon! 

Shaun from the amazing Brilldream website kindly interviewed them for our blog ahead of their Indietracks appearance this year...

The Understudies are one of my favourite bands. It's seriously exciting to see people finally 'getting it'. It's also a thrill to see them play live at Indietracks. I caught up with them to find that they are just as excited as we are...

I've spent, ooh, a good few years wondering when people are going to realise how good the Understudies are. But it's happening now isn't it?

Bree: Ahh, thanks mate! It's wonderful to have that support. I hope things are beginning to come together for us, it's been a while but to be honest we never really pushed it too hard. We're feeling a lot more confident about our sound and how far we've come so are ready to get in people's faces!

Brian: Well, that's not really for us to say, we have had some really great live shows recently and people have said some nice things so I guess we're doing something right. Ian and Thom have been instrumental (get it?) in helping us get to where we want to be as a live band and we've had some great feedback from folks who've had a sneak at the album.

Kris: We can never really tell what people think of us from inside the band, but we are definitely gaining confidence by doing more gigs this year and really enjoying it.

Thom: It seems to be, and it's very exciting. I think I've been lucky enough to join at just the right time. I first heard about The Understudies through my musical brother Waz, who raved about Everyone Deserves At Least One Summer Of Love, and after my old band A Fine Day For Sailing played with them last year, they asked me to join. I occasionally feel like a glory boy for joining up just as everyone seems to be taking notice, especially as we've achieved more in the last nine months than most of the decade I spent in my old bands. But that's down to the quality of the songs- I'm just very lucky.

How fun is it to be working with A Little Orchestra?

Brian: Not having any proper musical knowledge I was actually pretty scared about it initially but within about a minute of meeting them I knew it was going to be cool. When we done our first rehearsal with them we were all looking at each other and almost bursting out laughing half way through the first song cos they sounded so amazing! That was multiplied ten fold when we got them in the studio, so yeah, it was a lot of fun and they're lovely. We just have to try to stop annoying them now as we want them to play with us at all our shows.

Bree: Brilliant. I've said it before that they sort of transformed the songs they play on, the arrangements were exactly what we were looking for and they've all been wonderful. Go buy their beautiful EP!

Thom: It's amazing. I did a gig with them as part of the Fine Day For Sailing offshoot Banana & Louie, but on record and at Union Chapel, even in rehearsal, they're just so wonderful to hear. My proudest contribution to The Understudies so far has been suggesting a string arrangement for Jackie, though Andy their arranger did all the actual work. It's turned an amazing song into something even more potent.

Kris: It's a privilege and a pleasure. They instantly make us sound better.

What's the best thing about festivals as a punter and an artist?

Brian: I imagine the best thing about it as an artist is obviously getting to large it about the place with a fancy back stage wrist band and all the free booze n jacuzzis.... We've never actually played any festivals except Indietracks which thankfully doesn't adhere to all that rock n roll bollocks. I've been as both a punter and player and the best thing I can say is that there isn't difference, everyone is having a good time.

Bree: Punter: Dancing outdoors in the daytime, pissed. Artist: Playing outdoors in the daytime pissed to an audience danc... (see above).

Kris: As a punter I like the freedom of three carefree days getting drunk in a field. As an artist it's the same, with the bonus of getting in free.

Thom: From an artists' perspective, the rest of the band are great to share long journeys with, either by train or car or whatever, so this is a perfect opportunity to spend a weekend together and have a mini-holiday. There's a genuine camraderie - we've lived through the classic late-night-burst-tyre-on-the-motorway scenario and survived that intact!

At the 1995 Phoenix festival, I saw a portaloo topple over with a girl trapped inside it. What's your worst festival memory?

Thom: I can't reveal my worst because it's illegal and my Mum/Dad/employers might read this. Outside of the regular dumb luck of sleeping in the tent just along from the guy with the bongos, the second worst was having to sit through Starsailor and Texas playing in Hyde Park so as not to lose my space for the headliner. As if that wasn't enough, it was the day of the 2006 Portugal - England World Cup quarter final, and there was a screen showing the penalties at the other end of the park, so Texas were basically playing to a crowd of people who'd turned around to watch the match and were ignoring them. I think even some of the band were watching. When England lost, the crowd turned really nasty (lot of racist abuse hurled at anyone not English-looking), and someone threw a shoe at Sharleen Spiteri in the middle of Say What You Want. To her credit though, she singled him out and gave him a bollocking in front of everyone then went right back into the song. They were still rubbish though.

Does the sun being out make a lot of difference?

Brian: The sun is lovely when it happens, one of my fave Indietracks memories is watching Camera Obscura from the mound as the sun set. Then again, I also enjoyed teenage fan club in the rain. But yeah, bring me sunshine, as the song goes. The rain did us a huge favour last time though, it forced the punters in to the church on Sunday morning, nothing like a captive audience.

Bree: Well that's the dream, isn't it? Though there's something quite life affirming about people not giving a toss and hanging out in the rain.

Thom: Absolutely. For a start, it's always fun to be able to play wearing sungalsses. But when it's wet, it certainly can dampen the spirits. I played at the first Indietracks weekend in 2007 with The Gresham Flyers, and the weather was so bad that the main stage was moved from outdoors into the big shed. It was wet, and there was a lot of concrete, which made for a very moist, dusty environment. I think I developed a respiratory condition. There'll be none of that this year.

Be honest, how long do you spend worrying about what you're going to wear?

Kris: Me? No longer than five minutes. Bree starts thinking about clothes for the next gig as soon as she has stepped off stage.

Bree: Too long. The pictures crop up for years to come!

Thom: It is troubling - the white suit can only be dry cleaned a few times before it starts to look threadbare. I think once the album's out, we'll need a wardrobe assistant.

Brian: Honestly, far too much! Being quite a portly gentleman is rather difficult in rock n roll, skinny jeans and a smelly t shirt isn't an option! We do like to make an effort, I think it's important and people appreciate it. I've always admired people like Kevin Rowland as they do go the extra mile and aren't scared to take a sartorial risk. However much we play it down, what you wear means something. Just look around you at this years Indietracks, it matter.

Have we got a name for the LP yet?

Brian: We do have a working title but you'll have to wait I'm afraid. Sorry. Keep em hungry n all that!

Thom: There are one or two ideas. My favourite so far is Never Mind The Pocketbooks.

Thanks guys! The Understudies are playing in London tonight (Tuesday 30 April) to mark the closure of the legendary Bull and Gate, along with The Fireworks, Cosines and Listening Party. Pop along if you're in town!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Indietracks interview #3: Finnmark!

Finnmark! was conceived from a conversation about about indiepop between good friends in a Gothenburg kitchen. Fuelled by a relentless hangover, jet black coffee, and a plate of day old kanelbullar, it made its way home to a cold house in Leeds. Taking inspiration from the Bergman films, indiepop records and long cold bike rides that were filling the founding members time, along with a longing to return to the place of its conception, a jangly melancholic pop sound emerged, and the band was born! Edward from the band joined us for a quick chat ahead of their Indietracks appearance.

Hi Edward, so how do you all know each other?

The main band members (me and Owen) met through Don't Falter, Leeds premier Indiepop club night. Owen is a regular DJ and part organiser, and I am an occasional DJ and regular attendee. Owen had a tendency to play all of the songs I wanted to DJ slot in the before mine, so he was a natural choice for the band! The part time members are friends who are current or ex Loiners (Leeds folk).

You’re open about your love for Scandinavia! What’s the appeal and which is your favourite Scandinavian spot? Have you been to Finnmark?

I think bands should wear their hearts on their sleeves and be more open! Mystery is overrated!

I just really like the place. It makes a lot more sense to me in many ways than the UK. It was the music that got me interested to start with, and growing up with a Swede as a next door neighbour probably had an effect in hindsight! The people, the scenery, the lifestyle, the music, the food, the politics, the tolerance of bicycles! It's all good!

I have a definite soft spot for Gothenburg! The band started in a kitchen in Gothenburg. It's a good city, I would recommend it! I also liked the island of Brännö so much I wrote a song about it!

We haven't been to Finnmark....yet! The band was actually named after the film 'Cool and Crazy'. As soon as I heard Finnmark I liked it. It's a fun word to say!

You’ve been described as “Felt, fronted by Morten Harket, approximating 'Emma's House'” and “Jonny Cash goes Wedding Present”. Are those fair? How would you describe yourselves?

Ahhhh, Gareth Ware! He has a brilliant way with words! I would go for the former rather than the latter description. I love Felt, Morten Harket has an amazing voice and Emma's House is one of my favourite songs! We've also been loosely compared to Another Sunny Day. I would just describe us as a melancholic jangly pop band.

You’ve made Through A Glass Darkly available as a pay-what-you-like download. Any plans for future formal releases?

Yes! We're recording an EP! I'm going to completely contradict myself now and keep the details a mystery! Hopefully it will be out before the festival! We'll keep you updated on the Internet!

What’s going on in Leeds at the moment? There’s This Many Boyfriends, The Birthday Kiss, The French Defence, you and loads more! Is Leeds where it’s all happening now?

It's funny, I was actually thinking the other day that Leeds is going through a bit of a quiet patch, but then I think about it now and there's our pals TMB's, The Birthday Kiss (their new single is great), T.O.Y.S. The French Defence, The 7 Inches etc. I think it is quite difficult to look at it objectively when the bands are full of people you are friends with! You look at them in a different way I suppose!

I think there is a lack of student bands in Leeds at the moment. Leeds has had quite a rich history of student bands, and there used to be loads. Maybe the students have become more studious and don't have the time for bands as their too busy writing essays! Poor show!

Do you have any other exciting plans for 2013?

We would like to play lots of shows! Hi Promoters! We're just really excited about getting the EP finished and playing pop music! I've never played a pop show outside of the UK. That would be amazing. Let's make that happen this year!

Have you been to Indietracks before? What are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I've been for the last few years, and I'm in love! The Librarians Wanted crew say 'Every Year Until I Die' (Lisa Bouvier has written a great song about it), and I am very quickly coming round to their point of view!

I'm looking forward to seeing Alpaca Sports, Making Marks, When Nalda Became Punk and Pale Spectres as they are all brilliant, catching up with friends and drinking and dancing a lot! I can't wait! See you there!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

New bands added to Indietracks 2013 line-up

Helen Love, The Wave Pictures and The Lovely Eggs are among 26 bands added today to this year's Indietracks line-up!

Also joining the bill today are Haiku Salut (with their new light show!), Monnone Alone, Alpaca Sports (Sweden), Anaesthetics, Big Wave, The Brilliant Corners, Cars Can Be Blue (USA), EXPENSIVE, The Fenestration, Finnmark!, Jupiter in Jars, Lardpony, Making Marks (Norway), The McTells, The Middle Ones, The Mini Skips, Northern Spies (Sweden), Pale Spectres (France), Seabirds, The Soulboy Collective (Germany), Tunabunny (USA), Without Feathers and Woog Riots (Germany).

Bands already announced for Indietracks 2013 include Camera Obscura, The Pastels, Bis, Still Corners, The Secret History, The Ballet, The Tuts and Martha.

Early bird tickets!

Tickets for Indietracks are available at an early bird discount price of £65 (weekend) and £35 (day). These cheaper prices are available until 5pm on Saturday 11 May.

After this date, prices will be £72 (weekend) and £38 (day). Weekend tickets for children aged 5-15 are £10, or £6 for a day ticket. Children under 5 get in free.

Tickets are available by calling the Midland Railway on 01773 747 674 or visiting www.indietracks.co.uk/tickets.html


Helen Love’s bubblegum pop band formed in Wales in 1992, and have a cult following in indie circles with songs including "Long Live The UK Music Scene", "Shifty Disco Girl" and "Does Your Heart Go Boom?". The band, who are signed to Elefant Records, have previously recorded a session for John Peel and also had three songs in his Festive Fifty. Their songs have been covered by numerous bands, including Ash and Tullycraft, and they also composed the theme for fan Phill Jupitus’s Breakfast Show on BBC6 Music. Joey Ramone invited the band to play in New York and sang a duet with Helen on the album version of the song “Punk Boy”. This is the first show Helen Love has announced for over 10 years!

The Wave Pictures have been described by The Guardian as writing “charming, witty pop songs shot through with Jonathan Richman’s gawky glee and Suede’s doomed provincial romanticism.” Since forming in Leicestershire in 1998 they have released 12 albums, including last year’s Long Black Cars, on Moshi Moshi Records. They have collaborated with a number of artists including Herman Dune, Darren Hayman, Daniel Johnston and Jeffrey Lewis.

Lancaster indie rock band The Lovely Eggs consist of married couple Holly Ross (former Angelica singer) and David Blackwell. They have released three albums and recorded sessions for BBC Radio One, BBC 6 Music and XFM. Last year they were tipped as one of Huw Stephens’ “ones to watch”, and have worked closely with comedian John Shuttleworth. Their album Wildlife, released last year, included the Gruff Rhys-produced single Allergies, which won the BBC 6 Music Rebel Playlist and was also voted best single on Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music Round Table.

Around 50 indiepop bands from across the globe will be playing across four stages: the outdoor stage; the indoor stage, the church and on the steam trains themselves. The festival will also host a range of art and craft workshops and a selection of discos after the bands finish.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Indietracks discos

Photo by inuitmonster

We’re sure you’re getting a bit impatient for the next band announcement (it’s coming very soon, keep your eyes peeled!), so we thought we’d give you a little something to tide you over. We can now reveal the DJs who will be running this year’s discos!

Another Sunny Day
Brighton-based club Another Sunny Day is run by Craig, Emily and Rob. They play indiepop old and new, twee, 60s pop, French pop, Britpop, Swedish indie, Post Punk, Garage Pop, Scottish Pop, Northern Soul & more.

Come Again
Last year you might have noticed Murray and Andy appearing in the wings of the two main stages to treat us all to their favourite tunes between bands. This year they are back, and will ensure that there is never a moment not filled with music while you wander between stages/queue for your burritos etc.

Fall Out Make Up
Fall Out Make Up is an irregular London club night featuring Ben and Carys (The Give It Ups) and Trev (Oddbox Records). They play punk-pop, power-pop, garage-pop, indie-pop and un-pop!

Ready Steady Girls
Ready Steady Girls are DJ Duo Kev and Linda. Eclectic taste in music but passionate collectors of 60’s Girl & Girl Group records. Inspired by great responses to DJ sets at the legendry Da Doo Ron Ron Brighton & the mighty Great Big Kiss London they are looking forward to hosting their first RSG Weekender July 13/14th in their hometown of Congleton, Cheshire.

Spinning Yarns
DJ team Spinning Yarns are Alice and Daniel (Cosines) and Isabel (The Fireworks). They made their name DJing at craft events and they are available for knit-ins, bah mitzvahs, weddings, funerals and now indiepop festivals on steam railways.

Stolen Wine Social
Stolen Wine Social is a London club night playing indiepop, C86, indie, electropop, riot grrrl and anything else they fancy at the appropriate drunken hour!

There will also be discos taking place for anyone staying at the Golden Valley campsite after the festival site closes each night. To find out who the DJs are, be sure to grab a festival programme on the ticket gate where they will be listed on the day!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Indietracks interview #2: Camera Obscura

We're hugely excited to be welcoming Camera Obscura back to Indietracks this year. We can't believe it's four whole years since they played at our festival as part of our partnership with Elefant Records in 2009. The band will be marking the release of their forthcoming album, Desire Lines, in June 2013 and we can't wait to see them headline our outdoor stage. Sam from A Layer Of Chips had a chat with Carey from the band a few weeks ago:

This is your second time at Indietracks. What are your memories of the last time you played?
It was sunny and it rained. The train sold booze. I bumped into friends from London, Glasgow, Sweden, Ireland and San Francisco. The best bit was the hog roast after the show.

How does Indietracks differ from other festivals you play?
I guess it has a bit of the spirit of the original Bowlie. It has its own community thing going on (it’s full of internet nerds, right?) and is lacking in pretension. I respect the challenging logistics involved in organising an event like this and I think it’s great the project has been such a success that it has been running for several years now.

Who else would you like to see playing at Indietracks?
I don’t really know the other bands that are playing, and we don’t generally expect to see anyone else when we do a festival. If we do, it’s a bonus.

What's the best festival you've been to (apart from Indietracks), and why?
I like ATP because of the indoor aspect. I’m not a real fan of being out in the elements all day. Coachella was a fun experience, though the hipness becomes tiring quickly.

What's the first festival you went to as a punter? And do you remember who headlined?
I went to Reading festival when I was a teenager. I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined, which was pretty awful, but it was exciting to be there as not many bands came through Maidstone, where I lived. I learnt to wash my hair in a plastic bag, a technique I have had to re-adopt on tour a few times.

Will you be playing mainly new songs at this year's festival?
I imagine we will play a mixture of stuff from previous albums as well as the new one. I think festival crowds enjoy and deserve something familiar, but I hope there will be some enthusiasm for a few new numbers.

And what's next for the band?
As we get older it is becoming more uncertain what lies around the next corner so I’ll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Indietracks interview #1: Fever Dream

Welcome to our first Indietracks blog interview for 2013! Over the next couple of months we’ll be getting to know this year’s line up a little better, hopefully chatting to both well-known and less familiar faces on this year’s bill. Today, Sam from the fantastic A Layer of Chips blog kicks the whole shebang off by meeting Fever Dream.

East London trio Fever Dream play dark, fuzzy, menacing music that blurs the line from noisy new wave to angular post-punk. With an E.P. out on Underused Records and a single in the works for Odd Box, their hypnotic sound takes inspiration from Deerhunter, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth whose footsteps they'll no doubt follow with their brooding, stylish tones.

Have you been to Indietracks as punters before?
Oh yes. We all went in 2012 to hang out with our pals Tigercats and Allo Darlin', and two-thirds of us played as part of Esiotrot in 2008; so it's like a second (and rather boozy) northern home for us.

What was the first festival you went to?
The first festival we all went to together was the Jake & Dinos Chapman ATP, when we were all at university in Brighton. We've tried to go to an ATP together every year since - we're off to the Deerhunter weekend in June (chalet gig at ours?).

And have you played any festivals before as band?
Last year we had the pleasure of playing the mighty Odd Box Weekender and Land of Kings in London (on the same day, just like Phil Collins), and Long Division in Wakefield. Aside from Indietracks we're playing the Nottingham IndiePOP Alldayer this year, but [as the organiser!] you knew that already.

In an ideal world, which three bands would headline this year's Indietracks?
Cable, Tom Waits, and Ride. That's realistic, right? We can bring an extra tent if helps swing any of them.

What should we expect from you at Indietracks? Got any surprises for us?
Depending on the amount of delicious real ale and burritos we consume before our performance, we may be wearing nappies. When Esiotrot played in the church it was like a hot yoga room, so sweatbands may also feature.

And what's next for the band?
We're writing and recording a couple of new songs for the Odd Box 100 Club Series, which will hopefully be part of a mystical album we discuss occasionally...