Friday 28 March 2008

Indietracks interview #1: The Bobby McGees

From fighting in cages to designing dresses for the stars, via Lego-percussion and candle-lit concerts, The Bobby McGees have always entertained and intrigued in equal measure. Their debut EP 'Yes Please!" was a masterpiece of charming, twee brilliance and last November's follow up EP 'S’Amuser Com des Fous’ reached new heights in twisted ukelele pop. They've been described as ‘Domestic Violence with Ukuleles’ by Totally Bored and ‘Dostoyevsky doing Lonnie Donnigan’ by Everett True.

So where better to kick off our series of interviews with Indietracks' Class of 2008? Over the next few months, we'll be chatting to all your favourite favourites, from the familiar faces to the new kids on the block. But first of all, please welcome Jimmy from The Bobby McGees to kick things off in bizarre style...

Hi Jimmy, tell us about an unusual place you've played a gig in the past

I did a 24 hour ukulele marathon in Bath three years ago, playing just about everywhere in Bath. We've played quite a few nice art galleries in and around London, and we played what was basically a sex show in New York (ask Eleanor!).

The first time Eleanor and Frankie had ever been in a studio of any kind was in John Peel's old studio at Maida Vale for Radio One, that was very nerve racking and weird. Because we are basically an acoustic band, we can and do play pretty much anywhere (though we have never busked!!!). One night in Camden at a show for Spiral Scratch all the power in the venue blew just as we went on stage, we got out lots of tea candles, made everyone sit down and played acoustically, it was lovely and we like to think of it as more Twee than Hippy!...It was also the first time ever anyone in London had ever sat down and shut up at a gig.

Oh, and we've also played on a steam train!!!!
Do any band members have any particular skills, hobbies or claims to fame you wish to share?

I used to fight in cages and set up one of the first clubs in the country teaching about it. I have trophies for cage fighting, judo, kung fu, karate and thai boxing. Eleanor is a dressmaker to the stars, she has made dresses for Natasha Khan from Bat For Lashes to wear at the Mercury Awards, for Theoretical Girl at the Guardian new music awards and has sold two dresses to Paul McCartney's ex wife Heather (though maybe best to keep quiet about it).
What's going to be on your compilation tapes as you travel down to Indietracks?

Lots of old Klezmer, you know Klezmer? It's old eastern European, mainly Jewish music, like early jazz and gypsy music...very cool, not only because no-one else, not even the cute girl in the record shop, knows about it!

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Indietracks festival, and why?

1. We will surprise people by only being the second-best band this year, the Kabeedies really are brilliant!
2. Girls with bobs (Bobs not boobs....that could be our next badge!!! We will have our "It's like Morrissey Died In Vain!" badges and t-shirts ready for the festival) and girls in pretty dresses...and cider...and steam trains...wooooh!

3. This years Indietracks is going to be really brilliant, The Kabeedies really are brilliant, We have known The Mai 68s a long time and they should be great and a bit louder than everything else without being ATP wank!:-) Ballboy write some of the best lyrics since Pulp and I think they are going to have lots of new stuff? I love Ballboy! Darren Hayman is wonderful, I wonder if it is possible for him to play at the same time as the brilliant (and not at all Hefner like!) Esiotrot, or if some strange matter/antimatter thing will happen! I loved The Just Joans since I first heard them on MYSPACE, they are from the same part of Scotland as me, if it rains, it's going to be their festival! Used to love Helen Love, so that will be nice, Retro Spankies are ace and good friends, Hope they bring the lovely Mr Winston Echo with them! M J Hibbett is just the loveliest man in the UK and always makes me smile and cry a bit! Never really been a Wedding Present fan, but I am happy to have that changed....these are just the bands off the top of my head! It's going to be really fantastic! Think I will try and get El' drunk and pregnant....would be the perfect place for it!

... and thanks for agreeing to share an MP3 with us!

Yes, here's a song for you, it's called "Not whole, 1/2 of something"'s got ME playing melodica and my 10-year-old uke student Louis playing and singing... The percussion in the background is LEGO, and the second line is "There's LEGO monsters all over my floor"'s never been heard anywhere outside my close circle of friends before!

Free MP3 download: The Bobby McGees - Not whole, 1/2 of something

Thanks very much Jimmy!

Next up: Brontosaurus Chrous share their views on haircut indie and woodland gigs with stage invasions!

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Pick bands to play at Indietracks!

Hey there, here’s your chance to pick the last two bands to be given slots at the Indietracks festival.

(The Church Stage. Photo: Lostmusic) Stuart’s received literally hundreds of applications from bands to play this year, and has thrown it open to readers of the Anorak forum to select their favourites from a shortlist. All of these bands are charming and thoroughly deserving of a place, so please take you time and have a listen, then share your thoughts!

For one slot – We haven’t had any Italian bands at Indietracks yet, so to redress the balance, please pick one from the following four:

Orange LEM -
Le Man Avec Les Lunnettes -
A Classic Education -
Warm Morning -

For the second and final slot, please nominate your favourite from the following list of names – some recognisable and some brand new:

Modesty Blaise -
Pocket Promise -
The 10p Mixes -
Idiot Savant -
Tellus About The Moon -
The Rocky Nest -
Rosa Alchemica -
Help Stamp Out Loneliness -
Town Bike -
Cats And Cats And Cats -
Penny Broadhurst -
Ste McCabe -
The Seven Inches -
Little My -
Ally Kerr -
Sparky's Magic Piano-
pianoBenjamin David and the Goliaths -
Lucky Delucci -
Zissou -
The Understudies -
The Madrigals -
The Pony Collaboration -
The French Quarter -
The Hot Puppies -
Sam Loaker -
i:candy -
Young Sensation -
TV Glory -
We Show Up On RadaR -
My Sad Captains -
The Hillfields -

Once you’ve had a listen and made your mind up, please pop over to Anorak and let everyone know what you think! Anorak is a community forum and new members are very welcome and encouraged to participate fully. It's an indiepop forum run on goodwill, so please respect that. If you just pop over and cheekily spam vote for your friends' band, your views will be discounted!Please do pop over and join the discussions, it's a friendly bunch!

Happy listening!

Monday 24 March 2008

Interview with Stuart Mackay - Indietracks organiser!

Hello again indiepop fans! Hope you're enjoying our new blog, aiming to bring you all the latest news and gossip from this year's Indietracks Festival.

As you may or may not know, Indietracks is organised by Stuart Mackay (below), who once restored trains for the Midland Railway Centre where the festival is held. Having worked there for five years, he hit upon the idea of organising a festival after visiting several indiepop club nights in London. The centre had already hosted other music events, and it was while working behind the bar at one of these shindigs that Stuart had a brainwave - why not hold an indiepop night on the steam railway?

He soon started to put his ambitious plans into action and the first event - a one-night affair - was held in April last year, headlined by Pocketbooks and supported by Slow Down Tallahassee and Tottie. The gig, which promised bands playing on the station platform and unlimited rides on the steam train, sold out of its hundred ticket-allocation almost straight away and was chatted about on internet forums for weeks afterwards. In fact, so successful was the event that almost as soon as it was over Stuart started to make plans for the first ever Indietracks festival, held in July last year and headlined by Darren Hayman. Around 40 bands played the festival, and it's certain that hundreds of tears were shed on the train ride home afterwards - it was just so much fun that no-one wanted to leave! Buoyed up on success, Stuart then went on to organise a "Christmas Twee" gig in December, with The Deirdes, The Icicles and The Poppycocks providing festive fun for the pop kids. You can read about all of these past events on the Indietracks website.

In the forthcoming weeks, some fans, webzine writers and musicians will be telling us their personal memories of last year's festival but - in the meantime - do take time to read our five minute Q and A with Mr Mackay himself, to find out more about the man behind the festival.....

Hi Stuart. Tell us a bit more about how you are involved with Midland Railway, and why you decided to set up Indietracks...

My job for five years was working at the Midland Railway restoring trains. I sometimes helped out on the on-train bar on charter trains where they also had a disco carriage. When I found out they'd previously had bands playing on the station platform I thought it'd be worth trying out an indiepop night. That first night we had three bands playing in the station, with steam train rides in-between the bands with a disco on-board. The night went so well that we had to grow a bit for the next one, but kept growing until it became the first two-day festival.

But did you have any prior experience of setting up a festival, isn't it lots of work?

I had no experience whatsoever! I had organised a very large railway gala, but I had a lot to learn about the music side of it, but it wasn't too bad as everyone was very supportive and helpful. It was a lot of work but loads of fun!

How do you choose the bands?

Almost all the bands that are playing are there because they've asked. It's quite a personal selection of bands that I like but I do listen to others' opinions! I try to have a reasonable selection of new bands and bands from afar as well as established acts from the current scene.

What were your personal highlights of last year?

The happy smiling faces, and all the nice reviews afterwards! It meant we'd created something people enjoyed.

What are you most looking forward to at this year's event?

Watching the bands, and catching up with people I don't get to see as often as I used to. And we're working on some surprises which - if they work out - will be fab.

Have you got any tips for people thinking of setting up their own festivals/events?

Talk to other festival organisers. There doesn't seem to be any sort of book or website available on what you need to know to set up a festival, so you should know what you're getting into before you start.

What are the future plans for Indietracks at the moment?

Nothing firm until we see how this one goes. I may expand the use of the venue for non-indiepop music, or work on indiepop events at other venues, but the Indietracks festival will hopefully continue.Thanks Stuart!

Thursday 20 March 2008

Welcome to the Indietracks blog!

Hello everyone and welcome to the blog for the 2008 Indietracks Festival!

We're an indiepop festival, only in our second year, held in the grounds of the Midland Railway in Ripley, Derbyshire on July 26-27, 2008.

This year the festival is being headlined by the Wedding Present and Darren Hayman (formerly of Hefner). Around 50 bands have been announced so far, including newer bands such as The Wave Pictures, The Kabeedies, The Bobby McGees and KateGoes. Tickets cost £45 for the weekend or £25 for a day ticket, and include unlimited free rides on the steam train - bargain!

We'll be posting here regularly to keep you up to date with all the latest news from the festival, including new additions to the bill, interviews with bands, competitions and lots more!
To find out more about the festival, there are reviews and photographs from last year, and an Anorak forum discussion thread about all things Indietracks-related, including accomodation and transport.

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more, or if you have fond memories of last year and would like to write about them here. If you have a livejournal or other blog, please add us to your friends list or link to us!