Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Indietracks 2012 schedule announced!

Today we’re delighted to announce which bands will be playing on which days and on which stages at Indietracks this year. In total over 50 bands will be playing at the festival, as well as a host of DJs, and craft workshops.

We’ve provided a quick summary of the day line-ups below, and there’s a full line-up with stage details and times available at: www.indietracks.co.uk/schedule.html

Friday 6 July:
Darren Hayman and The Secondary Modern + The School + The Smittens + DJs

Saturday 7 July:
Veronica Falls + Summer Camp + Go Sailor + Gordon McIntyre (Ballboy) + Standard Fare + The Jasmine Minks + The Just Joans + Tigercats + White Town + Gold-Bears + Tender Trap + Evans The Death + Bart Cummings (with Pam Berry) plus 15 other artists, DJs and craft workshops.

Sunday 8 July:
The Vaselines + Allo Darlin' + The Monochrome Set + Stevie Jackson + Rose Melberg + Girls Names + The June Brides + Orca Team + Language Of Flowers + This Many Boyfriends + Sea Lions + 14 Iced Bears plus 15 other artists, DJs and craft workshops.

Weekend and day tickets 
Tickets are £67 (weekend) and £35 (day – Saturday or Sunday) for adults. Children's tickets are just £10 (weekend) and £6 (day). Under 5s can come for free! Tickets are available by phoning the Midland Railway on 01773 747674 or by visiting: www.indietracks.co.uk/tickets.html 

Hope to see you in July!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Indietracks interview #13: The 10p Mixes

The 10p Mixes is Danielle and Will. Danielle sings, and plays the keyboard sometimes. Will plays the guitar, and sings sometimes. They have been making music together since 2005, and put the name The 10p Mixes to their endeavours in 2007, when they started doing gigs and recordings.

They have released one mini-album, called Bedroomsound (available on self-released CD and Best Kept Secret cassette), and two EPs: The Dogs In France EP and A Christmas Gift from…. In addition, they have been on the last three Cherryade Music Christmas records (two as a band, once with Will on his own).

The band played gigs pretty regularly from July 2007 to August 2010, most frequently in Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester (as well as their respective home towns of Rotherham and St Helens), then took a break for a while. Their first gig after that was in Sheffield in February 2012, and more are planned, including an appearance at Indietracks this summer.

Hiya, you took a short break from 2010 to 2012 - are you now fully recharged and raring to go?

Danielle: Yes, definitely. One of the reasons we took a break was because I went back to uni and tried to forge a sort-of career, and that didn’t leave me much time for being a popstar. I did manage to find the time to acquire a taste for Cheeky Vimtos though! After a year-and-a-bit, I was aching to start performing and making music again; I felt like I’d been ignoring a massive part of my life. We’re dead chuffed that we get to sing our songs at people again, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we get to do it at Indietracks!

Will you be bringing a bunch of new songs to Indietracks or playing old favourites?

Danielle: Before we took a break from the band, we’d already written a whole load of new songs that had a few live airings, and we’ve been writing some more new material together since our reunion too. We’ll definitely be bringing these new songs (and the old favourites) to Indietracks with us and we hope that you’ll like them. If you like monsters, cups of tea, Marquee Moon, and – as usual – horses, then we might be onto a winner.

Will: We're exploring a more urban sound. Lots of rapping, turntables, planet-sized beats and violent imagery. Oh wait, no, none of that is true... apart from the violent imagery – the monster eats people!

How would you describe the 10p Mixes to a first time listener?

Danielle: The 10p Mixes, much like our sweetie namesake, are lots of different things jumbled together. Sometimes we’re silly, sometimes we’re serious. Sometimes we try to sound like the Human League and others it’s Kirsty MacColl. We might make you dance, or we might make you cry – here, have a tissue and a cuddle. We have simple melodies, sweet harmonies, clunky keys, rockin’ guitar and big vocals. In essence, it’s pop music, and that’s the way we like it.

Will: MJ Hibbett did a tweet I liked which said “Am currently imagining what The Smiths would have been like with Kirsty MacColl instead of Morrissey. MIND. BLOWN.” That's basically what we've been trying to be since day one, in between doing songs about horses and random acoustic disco songs. It's basically a girl with an awesome voice and a boy getting slightly carried away on acoustic guitar who've evidently listened to a lot of records and nicked bits from all of them.

You'll be playing on a real life moving 1950s steam train. Have you played any gigs in bizarre locations before?

Danielle: We’ve certainly played a few dives in our time. The basement bar in Wigan that smelt of urinals was certainly memorable, as was the Cabin Club in Liverpool where we made friends with a three-legged horse. For me, the most strangely magical gig we’ve ever played was at St Bride’s Church, also in Liverpool, alongside our friends Dirtblonde and the legendary Calvin Johnson (as far as I’m concerned, that should be his official title). It’s a gorgeous location: so incongruous and yet so perfect as a music venue.

Will: Rotherham.

Which bands are you enjoying most at the moment?

Danielle: Standard Fare, The School… I’ve also been listening to a lot of Chiffons and Shangri-Las and sunshiney-girly-pop-awesomeness recently. I think it’s the effect of the weather getting warmer!

Will: I've listened to a lot of The Carter Family and The Brilliant Green lately. Someone pointed out that the latter are in many ways a Japanese version of the Mixes, so that might be a bit egotistical. They're wonderful though, and hint at what we might sound like with fuller arrangements and more hi-fi production. The Carter Family, on the other hand, were recorded with no technology at all in the 1920s and still manage to sound magical. I've rediscovered Allo Darlin’ and Emily & The Faves recently too. They were down the back of my sofa the whole time!

You tweeted recently to say that you are hatching secret plans. Is there anything you can tell us? What will you be up to for the rest of the year?

Will: We recorded a version of a song by someone else for a thing, which hasn't officially been announced yet. We also recorded demos of a couple of other songs at the same time, which we're going to polish a bit and probably put on the internet for you soon. It's getting my backing vocals right that take the time up, as always. I'd like for us to do another EP or two with shiny production and drums and stuff, maybe revisit some of the songs off Bedroomsound, but we've not really got any firm ideas yet.

Danielle: Some of those secret plans will have to stay secret for the time being, but we do hope to get record number two finished at some point in the near future. So we’ll be spending the rest of this year writing songs and playing gigs, as well as launching our signature fragrance, ‘Bonbon’, to worldwide acclaim and commercial success. OK, that last one might be a lie.

Thanks guys - see you on the train in July!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Indietracks interview #12: The Hobbes Fanclub

The Hobbes Fanclub are Leon, Louise and Adam from Bradford. They’ll shortly be releasing a 7” single on Shelflife Records and also have an EP available on Bandcamp which compiles songs from their sold-out split singles on Cloudberry Records and Dufflecoat Records. The band have played popfests in London and Glasgow, and they'll be joining an indiepop-friendly bill at the Going Up The Country mini-festival in Congleton, Cheshire on 2 June before heading over to Indietracks in July.

Hiya, please tell us a bit about your songs. We understand you love a bit of fuzz and reverb!

Adam: Coming from a psyche/garage/ punk background I was naturally obsessed with crazy old fuzz pedals and had quite a hefty collection at one point. I don't any more though. My ex nabbed half of them and I sold the rest amidst an "I hate music and I'm having a breakdown" moment. Lost quite a bit of cash when I think about it. Shame.

Leon: I've gone through a lot of pedals trying to find the right sound and Adam advised me to get my current one, and I love it. We all love lashings of reverb, on vocals and guitars. Hides a multitude of sins! We don't claim to be doing anything particularly original, we just like lots of fuzz and a wall of sound. Apparently we make quite a racket for a three piece, we've been described as a 'dream pop power trio' haha.

The original incarnation of the band saw Leon recording songs with Fabiana in Sao Paulo, despite the two never meeting. How did that come about, and how did that long-distance music-making work in practice?

Leon: The original incarnation was actually me and Lou to be honest. We practiced together a bit in early 2009, but at that time Lou was in the throes of a Masters dissertation and that proved too much of a distraction so we never quite got things going. Then as I pottered along I got chatting to Fabiana on last.fm and eventually the idea of her singing with Hobbes came up. We wrote a couple of songs together and she did some backing vocals on some others. I would send songs via email and then Fabiana would record her parts and send them back. I then added them to the original mix on my computer and whacked a load of reverb on it all.

The band are now all based in Bradford. How do you all know each other?

Adam: Myself and Lou go back a long way. She was my girlfriend when we were youngsters (tho not the one who nabbed my guitar pedals!). Then we fell out. Then we made friends again. Then she introduced me to Leon. I'm really glad she did and I'm really glad were pals again!

Leon: I met Lou when our mutual friend Sue brought her to see my old band play in Sowerby Bridge about four years ago. We got on famously from the off and have become really good friends. We also went to the same school, although I'd left before she started. Lou introduced me to Adam a couple of years ago, and we first chatted about doing stuff together over a year ago. We all know a lot of the same people anyway, Bradford's alternative scene is relatively small.

Louise: Yeah, Bradford's certainly small in terms of venues, but it's an enthusiastic, very DIY community. I think this probably meant that one way or another we were destined to cross paths at some point! I reckon we realised quite quickly when we got in a room to play that we were going to work really well together as a three piece, sometimes you're lucky and it somehow just comes together, and yeah it helps that we're great pals too.

You've played popfests in London and Glasgow. How do these compare to conventional gigs?

Adam: The popfest gigs have been amazing. Really amazing. I'll be honest, I'm pretty new to the world of indiepop so I'm currently on a voyage of discovery and I'm having a cracking time, so far so good! It’s always nice to do new things and meet some lovely new people.

Leon: To start playing live together and play with Tender Trap for our second gig and then play the 100 Club for our third gig was pretty mental. It’s also a great opportunity to see some other brilliant pop bands. Cola Jet Set and Zipper in Glasgow were fantastic, so to be on the bill with them was something special. The audiences have been lovely too and lots of people have said very nice things to us. It's also nice to play for promoters who love the music rather than the lucre.

Louise: We've all really loved playing the popfests, people have been fantastically welcoming and we've got to see some really great bands to boot.

Tell us a bit about your upcoming single on Shelflife records?

Leon: Well we're absolutely delighted to be releasing a 7" single, Adam's been there before but for me and Lou it’s a dream come true. It has Your Doubting Heart on the A side and the B side is going to be The One You Love. Your Doubting Heart was originally a song I couldn't write any words for. Then I happened across a copy of a 1952 copy of Woman's Own in a back room at Bradford Playhouse and was struck by the title of a short story in it, and the words flowed from there. The song is based on a sort of psychedelic guitar riff with lots of droning strings. I wasn't that keen on it when I'd finished it at home, but when Adam and Lou added their parts it sounded really meaty, and I think it’s one of my favourites now. The One You Love is actually the first song I wrote when I left my previous band. It’s gone through a few versions but we're really happy with how its sounding and we think it complements the A side nicely. We are recording with a friend of Adam's in his studio and it should be out in time for Indietracks. We're also going to do our first video, so expect to see something appear in May/June.

Louise: Yeah, Doubting Heart is one we all began to really enjoy playing live and put with The One You Love too, they just seemed to work nicely together, we're really excited to be releasing the single and can't wait to get it done and out!

You're currently selling t-shirts accompanied by MP3 downloads. Is this the future for music distribution?

Leon: I hope not, or at least not the only future anyway. I'd like to think that selling a physical item with music on it, whether it is vinyl or CD still has a place. The t-shirt with download happened by accident to be honest, because physical items have to be linked to downloadable music on bandcamp they automatically come with a download. I can see how it could work well though - lots of people just buy CDs then rip them to an ipod. A t shirt costs less (from us anyway!) plus you get some songs too. I prefer buying music on vinyl but sometimes the amount of music I want compared with the amount of money I have to spend means I download MP3s rather than not have the song (legitimately by the way, I don't do dodgy downloads), so having a physical item even if its just a badge is an added bonus.

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

Leon: I've been twice, first for the Sunday in 2010 then last year I came for the whole weekend. I'm really looking forward to sharing how great it is with Adam, Lou and our friends, plus meeting up with the lovely people I met last year and at the Hobbes gigs so far. My mouth is watering thinking about Gopals curry shack and the lovely beers too. Band wise it will be amazing to see Go Sailor, Language of Flowers and The Birthday Kiss, plus of course Rose Melberg solo. It will also be absolutely mental to play at Indietracks obviously, who'd have thought that would happen when I first came two years ago?

Adam: I've never been to Indietracks before, but I really can’t wait! The E.P collection by Go Sailor is, hands down, my fave album of all time. I've loved it since the minute I heard it about 15 years ago and it’s the only record I've consistently listened to over the years. Funny, because it was so out of sync with everything else I listened to at the time. So needless to say, I can’t bloody wait to see them live! yesyesyes!

Louise: It's the first time for me at Indietracks too, Leon has buzzed with enthusiasm about it the last couple of times he's been so it was already on my list of gigs to get to and now we're actually playing it which is amazing! In terms of the other bands, there's plenty I'm looking forward to but currently Colour Me Wednesday, Orca Team, Sea Lions, Rose Melberg and Go Sailor are all ones I'd really like to get to see, I'm sure I'll add many more to my list too as it draws nearer. I'm a bit gutted to have missed Frances McKee's yoga classes last year, but any other crossover activities would be enthusiastically received! Oh yeah, and the food sounds great!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Volunteers update - application deadline extended!

(Sunset dancing at Indietracks 2009. Photo: rainonthelens)

Thanks so much to everyone who's applied to be a volunteer at this year's Indietracks festival. We'll be in touch with you this weekend to respond to your applications.

We've received around a dozen applications but we're looking for 16-20 volunteers, so we're still interested in finding a few more people. We'll give priority to those who met the original deadline, of course, but there's still some vacancies that we'd love to fill. If you volunteer, we'll give you free entry to the festival and free camping if required.

So if you'd like to apply to volunteer as a stage asssitant or steward at this year's festival, please click on the following link for full details, and send us your application by the new deadline of Thursday 31 May: Indietracks 2012 volunteers

Any questions, please write to: indietracksvolunteers@gmail.com

Hope to hear from you!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Indietracks interview #11: Gold-Bears

Gold-Bears formed in 2010 when Jeremy Underwood recruited a few friends to play songs he'd stockpiled since the demise of his former band, Plastic Mastery (555 Recordings/Magic Marker Records). The band quickly released the ‘Tally’ 7" on Magic Marker Records, recalling the immediacy and urgency of Boyracer or The Wedding Present melding with the pop sensibilities of Slumberland contemporaries like Summer Cats and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They expanded their sound a bit on their next release, a four-song 7" ‘Something To Think About’ on Cloudberry Records.

After hibernating in their home studio for the winter, Gold-Bears emerged with ‘Are You Falling In Love?’ (Slumberland Records) – a dynamic 11-song collection of frenzied crash pop, strummy ballads, and syncopated pop dirges. Jeremy joined us for a chat ahead of Indietracks 2012.

Your songs are often described as reflecting the early 90s. Is that a conscious approach? How would you describe the band's sound?

I don’t think it's really a conscious approach. It's not like I wake up and say, "Man, I can't wait to write a song that may sound like it was written in the 90s," it just sort of happens. My formidable music devouring years were in the 90s. I had/have a cool brother who was into indie at an early age, so I got into indiepop and indie rock when I was around 14. I have vivid memories of getting new records in the mail and sitting at the foot of my brother's bed with him and just listening to a 7" over and over. We started with bands like the Lemonheads, Posies, and Teenage Fanclub then moved into less mainstream stuff like bands on Brilliant records, Slumberland, and Merge. We were mainly listening to 90s American bands. It wasn’t until a few years later that we started delving into the UK stuff. So, yeah, of course I'm going to write songs that sound like bands that have influenced me. Two bands that I can't live without are Boyracer and Superchunk. I think that's pretty plain to see in my songwriting.

How would I describe our sound? Someone once told me that we sound like we are about to fall apart at any second but manage to finish the song successfully. I think that sums it up. Pretty true, too.

You recorded the album at home and yet it sounds fantastic. Do you think you have more freedom using a home-based approach? Would you ever think about using studios in the future?

Thanks! Our guitarist, Erich, recorded the record. He's amazing. Using a home-based recording approach is amazing. There were times when Erich was too busy with work to dedicate as much time as I wanted to recording so he would just bring his equipment to my house for a month or so and I would overdub and redo tracks. That really allowed us to achieve the sound we were going for. I can’t stress enough how important Erich was in this recording. He spent hours and hours and hours mixing the record. I’m really proud of the way the record sounds.

I’m not sure if I would really consider using a studio to start and finish a record. I like home recording. I started 4-tracking when I was really young. I’ve always been into the creative part of recording and mixing a record without some dude telling you how to mic your guitar or that your drummer plays too many fills.

You've said that there's a love story narrative throughout the album. Was that your plan from the start or did it just naturally evolve that way?

The record naturally evolved that way. It didn’t really happen until we were sequencing the record. Santiago, our drummer on most of the record (now our guitarist), was the first to point out that the songs gave him the feeling of the natural progression of a relationship: love, honor, destroy, repair, love. So we sequenced the record that way. Is that silly?

Nope, sounds like the opposite of silly! You've a few special guests on the album, including members of Very Truly Yours and Summer Cats. How did that come about and will you continue recording with guests?

I don’t really consider them "special guests." I think anyone that contributes to a record should be "in the band." I mean, why not? Who is looking for sole recognition? It's just music.

We first met Kristine at the Athens Popfest. She borrowed my amp, we borrowed a cable, and we all chatted after the show. I’m a big fan of her (and lisle's) music. They are both superb songwriters. Kristine has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. I thought our voices would go together well and she was gracious enough to be in the band.

Scott's contribution came through Myspace. I love Summer Cats. They are one of my favorite contemporary bands. I put them in our top five friends or whatever on Myspace. Scott saw this and messaged me. Apparently he likes Gold-Bears! So we hit it off and I asked him to play keyboard on the album. He played live with us at NYC Popfest. It was magical. The best thing is that since I asked these folks to be in the band they've become good friends.

What was the thinking behind taking a photobooth on tour recently? Is it coming to Indietracks?

Erich made a photobooth for one of his bff's birthday parties. He wanted to bring it on tour. Nick and Santiago were against it but Erich and I were into it so we just brought it. It was a pain the first 2-3 nights. It took about an hour to set up and break down but we got better at it and it went smoother the rest of the tour.

Unfortunately, we cannot bring the photobooth on tour again. We broke it at the NYC Popfest when Nick and Erich were dancing on it during Go Sailor's set. Who can blame ‘em?!

How important was Slumberland in the band's development? Are you particular fans of any bands on the label?

Slumberland was extremely important in our development, particularly my songwriting. I’ve been a fan since I was a youngster. I once told someone that Mike Schulman either released or is thanked on my favorite records.

Record Store by Gold-Bears

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Indietracks interview #10: The Monochrome Set

Interview by Stuart Huggett

The recent reformation of The Monochrome Set, around the nucleus of frontman Bid, guitarist Lester Square and bassist Andy Warren, has opened a third chapter in the group’s brilliant on-off career.

Emerging from London’s post punk, art school scenes, The Monochrome Set’s first phase (1978 – 1985) began with a run of classic singles on Rough Trade. The group honed their signature sound of witty, intelligent lyrics and clean guitarpop over a series of smart albums (notably 1982’s ‘Eligible Bachelors’) for a variety of labels, calling things to a halt following an unsuccessful, but musically rich, stint on Warner Bros.

By the time The Monochrome Set reformed for their second phase (1989 – 1998), their influence had been felt not only at home (The Smiths were clearly indebted) but internationally too, particularly in Japan. After a prolific, diverse run of albums, mostly for long term supporters Cherry Red (try 1993’s sparkling ‘Charade’ for starters), the group split amicably once again, with Bid soon forming Scarlet’s Well.

Bid suffered a stroke in 2010, his recovery shaping the creation of The Monochrome Set’s vibrant new album ‘Platinum Coils’. He spoke openly to us about how this experience has affected his health and his songwriting, and the advantages of being a self-sufficient group.

Hi Bid, what’s it like touring with The Monochrome Set again?

It’s been really, really good. I’m physically collapsing after our UK and German tour, but I’ve got a couple of weeks free before we go to Belfast (12 May), so that’s nice. It’s probably been the most amount of gigs we’ve done in 25 years. It was all by train, so we were doing quite well actually.

That’s an unusual way to tour.

Well, we get our backline supplied by either the club or the support bands. With Scarlet’s Well we could travel by train for several hours, walk out of it and still feel fresh, in comparison to a van. The German tour started in Cologne and ended in Aachen, which is right next to the Dutch border, so we just did the Eurostar and train around Germany.

How were the British gigs?

There were a lot of places that either sold out or nearly sold out, like Edinburgh or Brighton. We didn’t expect more than 80 or 100 people in Brighton. We just didn’t expect it to sell out at all, because we were vaguely basing it on a long time ago. I mean, some places which were very good in the 80s, like Bristol or Sheffield, were again good, then some places like Edinburgh and Brighton, which were rubbish 20 years ago, were packed out. So it was very odd. Times change, you know. In the early part of the 2000s it was still not good to play in this country, but in the last five to eight years there’s an awful lot of small gigs and festivals which have sprung up around the UK. It’s really revived, I think, and it’s just been really, really nice.

What are your current audiences like?

It’s a mix, I mean, we do some towns and it’s all old people, but in some places like Manchester there’s an awful lot of young people in the audience, and that’s good. Although a lot of our fans are old - we have to have large size t-shirts, and they can’t always guarantee they’ll come to gigs because they’re in hospital, you see. Which is true, they’re dragging themselves to gigs in their wheelchairs.

What made you decide to reform The Monochrome Set?

In round about spring 2010 I’d just finished the last Scarlet’s Well album (‘Society Of Figurines’). We’d already booked some dates for that, and then our old friend from Japan contacted me out of the blue to say would we like to do a short Monochrome Set tour there. We had been considering reforming, and it’s quite possible that towards the end of 2010 we’d have actually done it anyway. So we said yes, and my feeling was I’ll do that, see how it goes and in the meantime I’ll continue with Scarlet’s Well. Then I had a stroke, and in hospital I thought, well I can’t have two bands, we’ll just do The Monochrome Set from now on. It seemed a natural end to Scarlet’s Well after, what, eight albums. So that’s what we did. I had six months to recuperate, then I threw my lot in with The Monochrome Set.

What had Lester and Andy been doing in the meantime?

Andy was in the Would-Be-Goods, and Lester, well, nothing really. He was working with some amateur bands, but not really doing anything. He’s still a teacher: he’s head of the art department at a public girls’ school, which is where some of the singers for Scarlet’s Well came from. That’s why we’ve done so many gigs in April, because it’s the school holidays.

Have some of Scarlet’s Well joined you in The Monochrome Set?

That’s right, yeah. We have two drummers at the moment, and we alternate between them. It’s either Steve (Brummel) or Jen (Denitto), and Helena (Johansson) on viola and mandolin.

When did you start writing ‘Platinum Coils’?

I’d already started writing songs, virtually as soon as I was out of hospital. I didn’t stop myself, so it ended up almost like a musical about being in hospital, and the recovery a few months after that. I’ve actually got to do a post on The Monochrome Set forum, explaining some of the songs. ‘Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome’ is about the operation and the stroke, and ‘Les Cowboys’ is about people bombing up and down the hospital corridors in wheelchairs. So a large part of it is set in hospital, and therefore it is more autobiographical and less observational of other people or society or whatever.

When you were in the hospital, did you think the experience would feed into your songwriting?

Not at all! I was rather aghast when I started writing about it. I thought, oh no, this is a bit weird – I’ll do one song. It sort of sounded ok, and I thought, well that’s fair enough. I never really interfere. I don’t step in and say, we’re not going to write about this. It sounds a bit of a strange thing, but because I got some brain damage, and it’s to do with my language centre, I subsequently learnt things about my own songwriting. When I get very tired, I start slurring my speech, and also tottering slightly, and I think it’s permanent. Not just slurry, but also mentally slurry. I slightly lose control of language. There is one song about it, called ‘They Call Me Silence’. I was doing some fairly intensive finishing up of writing that I’d started during the summer of last year, and I was kind of running into difficulties. After a few hours, I would lose the power of speech and also lose the power of words completely, so that in my head there were no words at all. I knew what everything was, but I couldn’t put a name to them and I couldn’t connect them to my library of knowledge. So I felt “dumb like an animal”, which is one of the lines in that song. But when I started thinking of the music to the songs and picked up the guitar, and picked up the pen, I would just start writing again, even though I didn’t know what I was writing. It took control of my hands. Every artist knows that it’s something within them – I don’t know, subconscious or something else – but they think it’s an integral part of themselves that creates the art. But I sort of saw what appeared to be a different identity doing the writing, which wasn’t affected at all by my own speech problems. It was accessing my body, if you like, and accessing my library of words, and not being affected at all by any of the damage.

It’s sort of similar to Glen Campbell, who’s got Alzheimer’s. He can’t speak and he can’t do this, but put him on a guitar and he’ll just sing merrily away. But it’s not just that, this creature – this identity – is not just singing things that are already known, it was creating new things. It’s almost like a late 19th century ghost story by Guy de Maupassant. It’s like being taken over by something. It’s a bit bizarre, because people ask me sometimes, what does this lyric mean? And I say, I don’t know. It’s the same thing with (early single) ‘Eine Symphonie Des Grauens’, which I wrote back in ’78, and I still don’t know what the song’s about. I’ve never analysed it, I never felt that I wrote it. Now I know that I didn’t, because I’ve actually seen it happen. There’s something else inside you that’s doing it. You feel like you’re the head nurse in a lunatic asylum, that you’re not an integral creature but that you’re schizophrenic. But that sort of schizophrenia is held in check by the power of your conscious personality. The funny thing is, it’s making it easier to write, and easier to perform. On stage, when I feel myself tiring, I just step back and let this other thing perform. And I perform better, I sing better, and also I can write better - I just pick up the guitar and there it is. Actors and any live performer will know that the worst thing that can ever happen is you become conscious on stage. That’s when you forget your lines. You suddenly think, what the fuck am I doing?

How do you feel the album fits musically with your other work?

Stylistically, the early Scarlet’s Well albums were very different from The Monochrome Set, whereas the latter albums with the Scarlet’s Well live band had already started sounding more Monochrome Set, at least the songs I sung. So ‘Platinum Coils’ is a mix, an extrapolation say, from the third Monochrome Set album ‘Eligible Bachelors’ and the latter Scarlet’s Well albums really.

Why did you choose to release it yourselves?

It’s because we’ve got the money now. We were thinking during the course of the year, what shall we do? But then the money started flying in because of the live gigs, and we thought, sod that, let’s do it ourselves. I mean, it cost, whatever, ten thousand to record the whole thing and put it into production, but we made that last year from fees and we just put it into the album. Everything has changed in the music business now, you don’t need to be distributed, you just sell online. And a large part of the sales come from live gigs, which they didn’t 30 years ago. Main bands wouldn’t take along CDs and stuff, it was only support bands who would have to do things like that. The only place we really need to have contact with is Japan, just because of the mechanical and language difficulties. Japanese people’s mobile phones are a completely different technology, they work on completely different wavebands, and they have a difficulty in ordering online outside of Japan. We have to have a connection, so we have sold some stuff to our old friend Vinyl Japan in Tokyo. We’re going to do some distribution, including America, just ‘cos it helps us in getting gigs and a bit of press, but we simply don’t need it otherwise. We’re selling all over the world from our little shop, and of course we make loads more money.

The main thing is, we’re going to keep the silver mirror packaging of ‘Platinum Coils’ for as long as we’re alive, which wouldn’t happen with another record company. They wouldn’t even have paid for that. We’ll keep it in production and available, which nobody else does. With ‘The Lost Weekend’ album, they (Warner Bros.) were irritated that it only sold whatever-it-was thousands back in ‘85, and they deleted it within six months. They were just too big a company. Those companies have millions of releases to deal with and they’re just not going to bother with something that doesn’t sell millions too. So it wasn’t available for ten years (until Cherry Red reissued it), and that’s something we don’t want to ever happen again. We want it to be available all the time, and we want it to be in the proper packaging. There’s a few albums on Cherry Red which are still unavailable, because they’re selling sale or return around the world and they don’t want to repress. Actually the most sales we’ve had from them are albums that we’ve bought from them to sell in our shop, so we’re hoping that they repress in the next year or two. And it’s only in the past five or more years that the first two albums (‘Strange Boutique’ and ‘Love Zombies’, both 1980) haven’t been available. If it had been in our domain, they would never have been released as a double album (Virgin compiled both records on one CD). But they’ve been licensed by a company in California (Runt subsidiary Water Records), and they’re going to re-release them as separate albums in May. It’s working out really well.

What else do The Monochrome Set have planned?

I’m a little bit burnt out. I haven’t had a break since January last year, because I’m managing the band as well, and now I’m the record company. We’ve got to do Spain, France, Scandinavia, USA, possibly Canada, Japan. We’ve got to fit in all those things. I’m trying not to pick up a particular 12-string guitar, because as soon as I pick it up I’m gonna start writing songs. I think we’ll probably look to recording the new album in the summer of 2013, so I have to start vaguely writing this summer. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do yet, no idea at all. So I’m going to take a couple of weeks off, and do little bits and not really try and tire myself out.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Darren Hayman and Stevie Jackson join Indietracks line-up

Darren Hayman and Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson are among a host of new artists joining the line up for Indietracks 2012. The festival takes place on 6-8 July at a 1950s steam railway in the Derbyshire countryside.

Darren Hayman and The Secondary Modern will perform on Friday 6 July along with festival favourites The School and The Smittens. Other additions over the weekend include This Many Boyfriends, The Just Joans, Golden Grrrls, 14 Iced Bears, Love Dance, Echo Lake, Young Romance, The ABC Club, Werewandas, T.O.Y.S., Electrophonvintage, Cosines, Vacaciones, Robberie, Minibar and Markie Plays Girlpop.

Indietracks is partnering with American label Slumberland Records for this year’s festival. Bands already announced include The Vaselines, Allo Darlin’, Summer Camp, Veronica Falls, The Monochrome Set, The June Brides, Go Sailor, Tender Trap, Evans The Death, Orca Team and Tigercats.

Darren Hayman is best known as the singer-songwriter of the much-loved Hefner. Following the band’s split in 2002, Darren is now six albums into an increasingly idiosyncratic career path and writing the best tunes of his career, as showcased on the first two instalments of his “Essex Trilogy” and “January Songs” where he wrote and recorded a song for every day of the month. In the latest incarnation of the Secondary Modern, Darren has gathered together a tight, tough, but soulful folk-rock orchestra reminiscent of a more urban Incredible String Band or an Anglicized Lambchop. 

Stevie Jackson is a Scottish musician and songwriter who plays lead guitar and sings for Belle & Sebastian. Stevie has written a succession of popular songs in the B&S back catalogue, including “Jonathan David”, “Seymour Stein” and “The Wrong Girl”, and is known for his 60s pop influences and love of guitar reverb! His first solo album “(I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson” was released in October 2011; a charming record of whimsical folk-pop, Byrdsian janglesome guitars and classic songwriting.

Around 50 indiepop bands will be playing at the festival across four stages: the outdoor stage, the indoor stage, the church and 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. The full line-up is available at http://www.indietracks.co.uk/ 

Tickets are available for £67 (weekend) or £35 (single day). 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:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Indietracks interview #9: September Girls

September Girls are a five piece girl group hailing from Dublin City, playing fuzzy and reverb-soaked garage pop with heaps of harmonies layered underneath. They've been described as "sounds from a transistor radio abandoned in a rural cinema" and "radiant noise pop of the finest order, guitars distorted, verses simple and catchy and drums energetic". Their limited-edition cassette "Wanting More / Secret Lovers" has just been released on Soft Power Records, but be quick as it's possibly already sold out! Jessie and Paul joined us for a quick chat...

Hi, tell us a little bit about September Girls - how do you know each other and how would you describe your songs?
We were all friends for years before we started playing music together. Our songs are inspired by boys and the summer and haunted houses. Four of us sing and our voices are pretty girly so we try and make the rest of the music as dirty as possible.

Tell us about the new single and any more future releases 
Our tape has just come out on Soft Power Records - a cassingle in fact! We're going into the studio this month to record some songs. Hopefully we'll have a few 7inches ready by the time we get to Indietracks.

Is Dublin a supportive place for fuzzy garage pop?
We've got a nice little group of friends and bands and clubs we play with, luckily most of the Dublin music scene is supportive no matter the style.

Is this your first trip to the UK as a band? Any plans to turn it into a tour? 
We played a few nights in London in February and had such a great time we decided we had to come back. We're definitely planning on UK dates around the time of the festival.

Tell us about any unusual place you've played gigs in the past...
We've only been gigging with this band since November, but even in that time we've played a burger bar as well as a tiki-themed shop.

Do any band members have any particular skills, hobbies or claims to fame you wish to share? 
We're all pretty good at 90s hip-hop dancing. Caoimhe was the singer in a toy shop ad!

What's going to be on your compilation tapes as you travel down to Indietracks? 
Stuff like Shannon & the Clams, The Byrds, Hunx and his Punx, MBV, The Sonics, JAMC, Ty Segall....Air Supply.

What can people expect from the September Girls show at Indietracks?
Fuzzed up pop songs, with embarrassing in between song banter. We are useless at talking, yet never seem to learn, and spend a large portion of our shows going "um......yeah.....so.............this is a..........nother..........song?"

Friday, 4 May 2012

Indietracks interview #8: The Vaselines

By Stuart Huggett

Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee formed The Vaselines in Glasgow in 1986, releasing two singles, ‘Son Of A Gun’ and ‘Dying For It’, and an album, ‘Dum-Dum’, on Stephen Pastel’s 53rd & 3rd label. By the time Nirvana started covering their songs, The Vaselines had already split: Eugene forming Captain America/Eugenius, Frances following suit with Suckle. In 2006, the pair toured together to promote their solo albums, leading to a full Vaselines reunion cemented on 2010’s ‘Sex With An X’.

When we spoke, Frances had just returned from a weekend teaching yoga, while Eugene had been in the studio recording his contribution to a theatrical production by actress, musician and director Cora Bissett, ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’.

Did you enjoy your solo show at last year’s Indietracks, Frances?

Frances: Oh, I was really nervous about it. It was me pushing my comfort zone to the max, but I was really glad I did it, to be honest. I love that little church. I thought the whole set up was amazing, and we did enjoy it. Who else is playing this year? Gordon McIntyre? We played with Ballboy in Edinburgh a long time ago with Suckle, my other band, I really like them.

Eugene: I’ve read about Indietracks, and I’ve spoken to other people who’ve played it, but I don’t really know much about it. I will investigate it in the week leading up to it, when we start looking at the bill and getting worried who the competition is. Even going on tour, I like to keep things to the last minute. When people ask where you’re going I say, well, I’m not quite sure. I know we’ll be heading off on this date and coming home on that date. I like to keep it exciting and a bit of a mystery tour.

My girlfriend took part in Frances’ yoga class last year, and she really enjoyed it.

Frances: Oh, that’s good, I’m glad. It was really good fun actually. It was such a nice day to do it outside, we were really lucky. I’ve been teaching for something like 15 years. Stevie (Jackson, guitar) comes to my classes, and Bob (Kildea, bass) sometimes comes. I taught at ATP one year, and Eugene came to that. It’s nice, one person will come and do it, then the others will follow.

Are Bob and Stevie both back in the band now?

Frances: Yeah, Gareth (Russell) and Paul (Foley) have been off doing other things, so we said that if Bob and Stevie were really well behaved then they would be allowed to come back.

How did The Vaselines reunion come about?

Eugene: It happened pretty naturally. We’d always been doing other stuff, so it really was all about timing. I think we’d maybe talked about it, not sat down and had a meeting but just thought, if somebody had given us an offer to do a show we’d say, what do you think?

Frances: I think, before, people had talked about it and I thought, yeah, maybe. But this was the right time, I felt.

Eugene: We’d done the solo acoustic shows in 2006. I think that was the first time we’d actually played on stage together, so we knew then it was going in a positive direction. When it came to 2008, Frances phoned me about doing a charity show and I said, well let’s just do it properly. This may be the one chance we get to do a proper Vaselines show. She was up for it, and once we played that show we knew it was something worth hanging on to.

Frances: I didn’t think there was an audience there for it, to be honest, so I was quite reluctant. Then, when it did happen, Sub Pop had just asked us to play their 20th anniversary festival, and it felt right to go with your gut feelings.

Eugene: We’d been offered the Sub Pop festival before that charity show, and we’d said, no, the band doesn’t exist, we just can’t do it. Once we’d played that show, the phone started ringing and we thought, well, we have got a band now, why don’t we take up their offer. Once we’d gone to America to play the Sub Pop festival we just got more offers and we thought it would be stupid to say no. We thought we’d just do it for six months, we’d have a bit of fun and that’ll be it, but it’s lasted for four years now. I’m sure The Stone Roses got their lawyers together and sat down and planned the next four years out before they’d even announced anything, but we really just make things up as we go along. That’s the way we’ve always done it.

Did you find it easy to start writing together again?

Frances: Surprisingly easy. I think we were both a bit nervous about it. I forgot I’d been writing on my own for a long time, and I think Eugene was the same. We laughed all the time while we were writing that album, just at stupid lyrics that we were coming up with, and stupid ideas, so it was really, really good fun. The advantage was we both had GarageBand, so we could send each other ideas and work on it, then meet up and slag each other off about it, or not. It was really good to know we were both on the same page when it came to what we were wanting to achieve.

Eugene: It came together really quickly, because we both had lots of ideas just lying about. I’d always put ideas aside, thinking they might be good for The Vaselines if we ever got back together, so we had lots of material almost half written, then we got together and finished it off.

Frances: I really like the song ‘Exit The Vaselines’, that’s one of my favourites. It was one where Eugene had the first verse and that was it, so we just built it up in the studio. I impressed myself by coming up with the lead guitar line, which I never, ever do. I just like that sort of melancholy-ness of it. The words only came up at the end of the night before we recorded it. I think it’s nice to tie up the album with, and leave people thinking, is that it? Is there going to be any more?

Eugene: ‘The Devil Inside Me’ I really like, because that was a collaboration between us that was really smooth, and it really worked. I had the melody and a bit of an idea of what the vocal was, then Frances added her vocals and guitar line and improved it, much more and much better. That was a really happy experience. It’s got a great atmosphere and I’m really happy to play it live. ‘Cos a lot of our songs are quite up and exhausting, like ‘Sex With An X’. There’s one song we play, I can’t remember which one, and I’m always out of breath by the end. You just have to mop your brow.

It seemed natural that ‘Sex With An X’ would come out on Sub Pop.

Frances: We’d financed the album ourselves, and just thought we’d ask them first. Because we had worked with them in the past, and we’d brought out (compilation) ‘Enter The Vaselines’ just recently, we thought, well, it would be rude not to give them at least the first refusal. They’d always been good with The Vaselines stuff, and always been there for us.

Who came up with the title?

Frances: Well unfortunately we can’t take credit for that. It was Eugene’s flatmate that came up with it, and Eugene was like, I’ll run this past Frances but I don’t know what your husband will think. And I just laughed and laughed. It’s ideal. My kids think it’s hilarious.

Eugene: Yeah, my flatmate for a while was Carey (Lander) from Camera Obscura. I went out for a drink with her and Traceyanne (Campbell), and mentioned that we’d been talking about titles with Frances. We had this song “Kissing with a K” (‘Mouth To Mouth’) and then Carey said “Sex with an X” and we had a laugh. I told Frances about it later and she said, well that’s the title. I wasn’t sure about it just ‘cos it’s so blatant, but I was struggling to come up with something else. When it came to the crunch, that was the best of the bunch. I really like it, but when we were releasing singles and things we were wondering why our records were not getting played. You know, is it because we’re called The Vaselines and we’ve got a song with sex in the title? Maybe I was a bit worried, but at the time we were quite brash as normal, like, that’s the title and we’ll go for it. Maybe we should have called it something really bland, then it would have got played on the radio.

Where did you find that magnificent boudoir you’re posing in on the cover?

Eugene: It’s in the Blythswood Hotel, on Blythswood Square in Glasgow. It’s a really old building that used to be a kind of RAC hotel, then somebody took it over and really refurbished it. I was in there for a drink one night, and in the lobby they’ve got these massive big alcoves and I thought that was a really great spot for a photograph. It’s in the reception area right at the front, and when we were doing that picture there were people checking in and out, so it was quite embarrassing. You know Peter York, the style journalist? He was checking out of the hotel, and he walked by and had a wee smirk and I thought, oh god, this is so awkward.

What else do The Vaselines have coming up? Another album?

Frances: Well, given that it’s taken 20 years for ‘Dum-Dum’ to bed in, we’re not really an album machine. Both of us feel that bands just churn them out. We are talking about doing something, but we haven’t planned anything yet.

Eugene: We would like to, but it’s just a very long process of getting songs together. It’s really starting from scratch. I mean, I’m putting some ideas together, and every time I see Frances we kind of go, what’s going on? But I don’t think she’s really written a lot of stuff yet. I think she’s writing more for her solo project.

Frances: Yeah, very much so. One of the things on my to-do list this year was hopefully to record some of my own stuff, but unfortunately I haven’t got round to that either. I don’t know where the time goes!

Eugene: I always try and write every day or couple of days to see what happens. Tunes always arrive, so I’ll put them into different files. I’ve got finished songs I’ve written in the last few years that are solo songs, but I haven’t really got any plans. I’ve got to basically sit down and decide, now I’m doing this project and get on with it, but I haven’t got my head in that state yet. I think I definitely want to do another solo record or another side project. Because I wrote the electronic music for David Mackenzie’s film ‘You Instead’, I’ve kept writing things on computer and coming up with rough ideas, so I might do a very lo-fi electronic collection of songs. The ‘You Instead’ session was great, it was my first experience of producing something for someone else’s music. I think if the film had been a big smash it might have opened some doors, but I don’t know how well it done. It hasn’t led to any more work, but it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of. But it’s all just ideas, it might never happen.

Frances: We’re going to Japan in June, so we’re kind of working towards that. It’s funny, unless you’ve got something to sell, you need a reason to go on tour usually. I like doing it, but you kind of need to know why you’re doing it, I suppose.

Eugene: We’ve been offered a show in Seattle in September, so we’re just trying to work out if we can do it. If you get one offer, you have to try and get some other offers round it to make it financially work, to pay everybody and pay all the flights. Because the visa process to go to America is so complicated and so expensive, you end up spending a big chunk of any money you’re gonna make to cover that. We’re just working out whether it’s viable or not. I mean, this is all I do. I make music and write songs, and luckily I can get by doing it. Frances is the same, but she teaches yoga. And that’s a lucky break we had with the whole Nirvana thing, that’s given us security. We can just make a living doing this, but I’d rather do that than have to do stuff that would give me no time to make music.

The Vaselines - Sex With An X by subpop

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Volunteer at Indietracks 2012

(Sunset dancing at Indietracks 2009. Photo: rainonthelens)

This year we're once again looking for volunteers for the festival weekend. It's a great way to gain experience of working at a festival, it can be really fun and it means you can get in for free! We're looking for volunteers for the following positions:

All stewards will work shifts and, where required, will be directing festival goers to the site, assisting with ticketing and wristbanding and stewarding the site. Some festival experience is an asset but not necessary.

Stage Assistants
We are looking for enthusiastic individuals with some experience of stage management, either at festival or gig level. This would be an ideal position for an events management student looking for some work experience, or someone with experience who wants to assist in the running of the festival. Each volunteer will work in pairs, managing each stage. This will involve meeting the bands from arrival to the site, helping them find their way around, making sure the bands are ready on time, and collecting their PRS forms.

For both positions, you must be able to arrive on site by midday Friday 6 July for induction and site preparation and be available to work shifts throughout the days on 7 and 8 July. In return you will receive:

*The chance to get involved with a unique festival
*Experience of working at a festival for your CV
*Free entry into the festival
*Free camping if required
*Food and drink vouchers (only for use in the railway buffet)

Please note you will have to make your own way to and from the festival site. A deposit in the form of your camping fee will be payable which will be refunded on successful completion of your duties.

If you'd like to apply, please download an application form from the following link and, once you've completed it, send it to indietracksvolunteers@gmail.com before 21 May 2012.

Volunteers application form

If you would like to apply to work with a friend, mention this in the comments and we’ll do our best to make it happen. Please also let us know if you have volunteered in previous years.

If you have any questions, also e-mail us at the above address and we’ll do our best to answer them.