Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Martin Amis Interview

Sometimes you get to do things that really make the job worthwhile. This one was for the Vice Fiction Issue 2008.


But Martin Amis is Still Obsessed With Masculinity

Martin Amis is one of the great writers of modern fiction. Even if he’d given up putting pen to paper after his third novel, Money, this would be an irrefutable fact. Period. Sorry. He writes grippingly of ugly characters addicted to themselves and the world around them, consuming for the sake of consumption and blind to their own greed. His ugly, and occasionally hilarious, creations were both of their time and chillingly predictive of what is going on outside your window right now. He also threw unreliable narrators, himself and a bit of time reversal into his novels helping create a little genre people call ‘postmodernism’ which you might have heard of.

As a thirteen year old boy watching the Cuban Missile Crisis unfold before his own eyes it is unsurprising that his novels have not only been filled with personal armageddon but also the impending threat of macro-armageddon on a planet wide scale. An initial preoccupation with Cold War threat gave way to a recent fascination with the conflict between the West and the Muslim world leading to his recent collection of shorter works The Second Plane.

Amis gives interviews rarely and has a reputation as for being spiky and guarded. Having read his work and been more than a little into all of it, actually picking up the phone to talk to him had me shaking like a Bolivian coke mule about to ingest a loaded johnny. Luckily, Amis (‘Marty’ to his buddies apparently) was kind, willing and open. He also has the most mesmerising way of emphasizing words mid-sentence. Go watch him talk about House of Meetings on the Charlie Rose show on YouTube right now. Then you’ll get the bits in italics.

Vice: Having grown up with a successful novelist for a father was there a point where you made a conscious decision to be ‘a writer’ or was it just assumed?
Martin Amis: At around thirteen a certain self-awareness came over me as I was writing prose and poems in notebooks and diaries. What you are doing at that age is communing with yourself in a new way and becoming articulate within yourself. I think that everyone goes through that state and the people who end up becoming writers are simply those who never grow out of it. I never did. I also have to admit my father as an early influence. I read his stuff but felt like it was an independent decision that I made and I knew that it wasn’t a case of just writing a single novel and thinking: “I’ve done that now” or impressed my father and purged the influence. I had the feeling that it would be a long haul thing. In a good way.

What other novelists were early influences on your writing?
Well, I’d not read Bellow by the time I had written my first novel. I read a lot of Austen early on but I fail to see how anybody could be influenced by her, she’s simply too lucid. I’d read some Nabokov but I suppose the biggest early influence was Dickens. His stuff was just nuts and wild which is beguiling at that age. It’s impossible to imitate Austen, as it is all understatement whereas with Dickens the prose is so hairy and muscley; you can really gorge on it.

In you early work particularly you seem preoccupied with the present, its excess and its vacuity both in the rampant consumerism of Money and the Thatcherite capitalism of London Fields.
Certainly during the early period yes but there comes a point where you’re not really in the culture any more. You become removed from it. My father put it well to me once. He said: “at a certain age you think it’s not like that anymore it’s like this but you are not quite sure what this is”. I think it would be insane to harbour ideas that you can remain plugged in forever.

You spoke of being “addicted to the 20th century”, has the 21st proved not quite as addictive?
Possibly that was the point where that became this. You are certainly of your time and while you still have you’re slant on it all you find that you are no longer swimming amongst it. The novel I am coming to the end of now is set in 1970 so perhaps I am clinging to the 20th century.

London has always had a looming presence in your novels, what was it about the city that fascinated you?
I always felt grateful to be in one of the worlds great cities and it would have been completely impossible to write anything like the novels I wrote in somewhere like Cambridge. It was very much a case of being in it again. Living, breathing and swimming in it and as we all know: the fish doesn’t ask about the water. You just sit there, run your nerve endings up against it and it all comes out of the other end of your pen.

At times you have written in forms outside of fiction to reflect upon society in the same way you have within your fiction. Do you think that things that are not formally fiction ever make comment in the same way as fiction?
Fiction utilizes a different part of the mind and you can see it in action and see the difference when you produce non-fiction. I studied Stalinism and Russian history extensively when working on Koba The Dread (non-fiction) and then House Of Meetings (fiction) and due to the formal difference similar feelings were expressed in different ways. Fiction acts like a slow zoom lens, it allows you to go deeper in and say something else. It took three years to get from the brain to the back of my spine and then I felt ready to say something.

Even when not dealing directly with the directly political your novels exist in an atmosphere of political threat. Over time the threat has shifted from Soviet Cold War to Axis Of Evil but always with a sense of potential armageddon.
I was very un-political as a young man. I was left of centre but being surrounded by Trotskyites like Christopher Hitchens made me seem moderate by comparison. I was unattractively proud of not knowing a great deal about politics. Literature was what I had and it was my thing. Despite writing about nuclear weapons (Einstein’s Monsters) and the Holocaust (Time’s Arrow) I only really gave myself a political education when I began to study Russia and suddenly I could see the categories and the precedents. It all came alive to me. When September the 11th came along I wasn’t prepared for anything as interesting as that to happen in my lifetime. If I had to explain what my novels were about in one word it would be masculinity and here was masculinity in a whole new form. It takes that essence of what it is to be a man straight back to violence and really the political history of man is the history of violence. The social history of man is simply sex. Those have always been the most interesting questions to me: what is it that makes man put himself about in such a way and what is it that makes him treat women in the way he does. In terms of when I have chosen to speak out about topics in non-fictional form it is with these concerns in mind and because I felt I had something to say.

Are you talking here about The Second Plane?
Yes. I felt I had something to say and non-fiction was a very immediate way of saying it. So I did.

The plot devices that you became infamous for using later became known as ‘postmodern’. Were they conscious formal decisions or were they subconsciously demanded by the story?
Postmodernism wasn’t really this grand bandwagon that it may have seemed at the time. It was in the air and if you are of your time you saw the point of it. In the end it proved not the rich vein some had hoped and something of a dead end but it was very predictive in terms of life itself becoming very postmodern, what with buildings having their piping on the outside and politicians talking openly about ‘the plumbing’. There was a whole new level of self-consciousness that developed as well as an interest in ones own age that would have been unknown in say the 18th century. History is still speeding up and you want to reflect that so when I sit down to write I want to push the form of the novel and play with it so there is that conscious and deliberate sense of pushing the form. If anything though I am now returning to realism with a modernist sensibility without that tricksiness of postmodernism.

How do you feel about the current state of fiction, will it survive?
It will always be produced; I worry more about it being read. Poetry is already dead in those terms. Poetry requires that you stop the clock. When you read a poem the writer is saying let’s stop and examine this writing. People feel uneasy due to the pace that time passes to actually stop. They don’t like solitary reflection anymore. Poetry no longer has a place in the culture. This will eventually seep out to include the novel. The day of the long, reflective, discursive novel, such as the great Saul Bellow novels, which were eight-month bestsellers in their time are over. The novel now is streamlined and sped up. It is as a reflection of the age.

Are there any young novelists working now producing such work who you admire?
The truth is that I don’t read my youngers. It seems a terribly uneconomical way to organize your reading by studying those unproved by time. I read my friends so I take in Will Self and Zadie Smith with great interest and it all seems healthy out there but I can’t make any broad statements about ‘where’ the novel is now. Sorry.

In conversation with Self you have said that “the middle classes are under-represented in my novels”, you also seem to have a recurring pre-occupation with the lower classes.
I like extremes. There is a certain latitude necessary to be a character, often in a repulsive way in the case of the upper classes, but it gives you a freedom to be a little more extreme and extravagant at either end of the social scale. The pressures at the lower end of the spectrum are very intense and that leads to characters becoming interestingly twisted into strange shapes. The middle classes are written about by everyone. They shan’t whimper with neglect because I am not writing about them. All fiction is essentially kitchen sink. It is just that some kitchen sinks are more expensive than others.

You mentioned a novel that you are working on now. Can you tell us anymore about that or will you get in trouble?
I hope not. It is a novel set in the social revolution and the main character is twenty years old. Its title is The Pregnant Widow, which comes from a remark by the wonderful Russian thinker Alexander Herzen. He said that when political or social orders change by revolution one should be pleased that the old is giving way to the new but the trouble is that you get the death of the new order and no heir apparent. You are left not with a child but a pregnant widow and much grief and tribulation will take place between the death and the birth. I would say that even now the baby of the social revolution is yet to be born thirty years on.

Like London the figure of America figures often in your novels. In Money you portray the country as the unbridled consumerist paradigm that London strived to be. But lacking that British inhibition.
America is a wild place, an awesome place and like Henry James I very much believe it be a world rather than a country. As a place it is very difficult to generalize about. Having watched the last eight years with horror I am of course thrilled about the election because the potential to go wrong in America is so huge and here at last is someone genuinely impressive as well as someone who can help heal that great wound in American life. I think we could be entering a great era.

Perhaps an ear in which we see the baby of the social revolution born?

There was talk at one point of David Cronenberg making a film of London Fields was there any truth to that?
There was. I met him a couple of times and he re-wrote the script a little but he would only have got a sliver of the novel and not the whole book so it was left. The project is still alive though. They did The Rachel Papers, which was fun, and Dead Babies, which was sort of fun. They are making my novels in order. Just at twenty-year intervals. I have never had a great time with writing for cinema though, I did a terrific script for an adaptation of Northanger Abbey, which was picked up by Miramax and then sat on. I’m not sure what happened to it, I should probably check on that actually. Cinema is a wonderful form though and a young form. As Bellow said: film is about exteriors whereas the novel is concerned with interiors so there are many possibilities yet to explore.

What caused you to move to Uruguay for two years?
My wife is half Uruguayan and half New York Jew, a heady mixture. She has about 25 first cousins out there. We visited it for a winter and liked it very much so we stayed. We eventually left as our girls outgrew it and needed better schools. The landscape is fantastic but it was too quiet politically to have any impact on my writing. It is a real anomaly in terms of how gentle and sane it is in the context of South America.

Recently you began teaching at Manchester University. Why of all places Manchester?
Quite simply: they asked me. My father taught and by all accounts was fairly good at it and I felt that I might do all right at it as well. I enjoy it very much and I like my colleagues, which is rare for a job. All I do is teach novels. What could be more agreeable than that? I don’t guide my student’s elbows while they write. In fact I don’t even see what they write. We talk about it a little and I talk a lot about Nabokov, Kafka and Dostoyevsky all of whom are the people I like to talk about anyway so I’m rather happy with myself.

Is it true that you were a Mod and then a Hippy during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s?
I was a Mod but that all ended after my fifth scooter crash, then yes I was a rather opportunistic hippy. All that free love and music sounded fun but I was never particularly pious. Mod was more about having the right pink socks on the right day anyway. The Hippy thing was more of a coherent idea but there was very dark side to it. Like John Updike said it was a fascinating dark carnival. All this optimism with a dark underbelly where, if you rooted around in it long enough, you’d find Charles Manson.

NME 'Track Of The Year' Piece

Here is something I wrote about the excellent Heartbreak's anthemic "We're Back". Where have they been? Who knows.

Heartbeak- We’re Back- Lex

The capital’s ongoing romance with the gooeyest of dance genres may have reached fever pitch this year but it was hard to shake the feeling that the Italo resurgence lacked a contemporary act to convey the live element so integral to some of Italo’s defining moments. It took the appearance of Heartbreak to answer the balearic baying for live Italo. As obsessed with stadium metal as they are with Grant Miller, Ali Renault and Sebastian Muravchik’s over the top performance and synth-stab perfect approximation of Italo’s excess has been labeled by some as pastiche. More fool the naysayers; despite the awful suits and worse haircuts one listen to the pair’s debut single, ‘We’re Back’, tells you all you need to know: if you sleep on the duo’s Moroder having a coke binge in Rimini synths and metallic menace of you’ll officially be missing out on the most fun you could have had all year.

Michael K Williams Interview

A leftover from the Vice Interviews Issue. Omar!

This Man Robs Drug Dealers

Ohkay, ohkay, so everyone got over The Wire ages ago. We know. That said, now that it’s all over we miss it a bunch and you can’t really argue with Brooker: it is easily the best thing that’s come out of a small screen in ever. It had all the stuff that makes TV fun: drugs, guns, gangsters, police brutality and more drugs. Plus Omar. It’s not every day a gay, homicidal thug who makes a living robbing drug dealers with humungous shotgun while whistling “The Farmer in The Dell” is taken to the hearts of every conscious couch potato. But Omar went one better than that by being named some guy called Obama’s favourite character in his favourite TV show of all time. Not bad for a former dancer who turns up as a camp cop in Trapped In The Closet.

Vice: Hi Michael, let’s just get one thing straight: you aren’t a gay, homicidal thug who makes a living robbing drug dealers with humungous shotgun while whistling “The Farmer in The Dell”?
Michael K Williams: No sir, you’d be surprised how many people come and talk to me as if I am that guy though.

I’m not gonna lie: I’m glad this is happening over the phone and not in person. Is it true that you used to be a dancer in music videos?
Yep, I did a whole bunch of ‘em. Worked with an artist by the name of George Michael, G then people saw my press shot around and I read for some parts and I started acting and that was that.

One of your early gigs was a role in Bullet. Did you get to hang out with Tupac and Mikey Rourke much?
Yeah, you know we'd hang around set a bit, and he Pac was a real sweet-heart, very professional, real passionate about everything he did. I learned so much from just watching him on set, about what to accept, what not to accept, what to pick up on, what to just let slide. I learned a lot just being around him. Rourke I just spent one day on the set with. He was quiet and laid back. He was the opposite of Pac. Pac was animated, energetic but Mikey: he was a watcher. Both beautiful people, just different energies.

I heard you got the part of Omar after one reading?
The casting director got in touch with me direct so I knew maybe the part was right and then I met the director and producers and it was all pretty easy but there was a lot of research involved. I had to learn to speak like a Baltimorian. I had to find out how to walk and dress like one. I had to learn to bust a gun because I'd never ever shot one before Omar.

I don’t believe you.
Truth man. I gotta thank David Simon and Ed Burns, really. They were adamant about keeping the details about Omar consistent and accurate. They wouldn’t let anyone come in and change the dynamic of the character. Like they'd never have someone come in and say: “we want Omar to come out through the open doors and come into the middle of the room and stand in the light” or whatever ‘cos they know if he did that he'd have his head blown off. He’s the kind of guy who stands in the shadows and scopes the joint out you feel?

Wasn’t the character based on a hodge podge of people who actually went around holding up drug dealers and stash houses in Baltimore in the ‘80s and ‘90s?
Yeah, the main guy is called Donnie Anderson. You see him with Omar if you watch when Omar’s in jail. The Musilim brother who hands him the knife, that’s the 'real' Omar, that’s Donnie Anderson.

Were you cacking your draws when you met him?
Oh man. I call him my brother now. We're very close. Him opening up to me made it so much easier for me to be Omar. He was involved from that very first day. Back then he was consulting from his prison cell but he got out and from then you can see how intense the character gets,

Were you familiar with Baltimore previous to The Wire?
Nah, being from New York, you pass through Baltimore on your way down south. You know maybe you gas up, but you never say: “Hey let's go to Baltimore for the weekend!” but it has got to be one of the most intense cities I've ever spent time in. Before going there I had never really spent time in a chocolate city' you feel? Black folk living together, living good and just chillin. It has some of the best food in the country too. There is a grill called the Upper Deck and a Steakhouse called Deans. Things they can do with a steak in there man… make you smack your mama!

Was it tough playing a black, gay gangster?
I had to allow myself toto love. Because he loved his dudes. It's two dudes who love each other. In terms of the more physical side: just close your eyes and pucker up, you know? Ain’t no thing.

Looking back at the five seasons, which do you think were your favourite scenes?
That's a tough question, man. I'd have to say probably the scene in the courtroom.

Yeah that's my favourite too.
And a close second is the scene in the alley way having the talk with Brother. It's close. But I don't have any scenes that are my 'un-favourite', you know.

Daniel O'Sullivan Interview

Here is an interview that I did with, for my money, the greatest creator of high quality, high quantity musical output in the UK right now. It ended up going out on the blog on

The Hardest Working Man In Music

More than just about anything I hate feeling inadequate. It's the worst. You can be tootling along with your day, right as rain and then you happen upon someone you haven't seen in a few years and they are married to a 9 who's a pediatric nurse and they have four beautiful kids, a mortgage, and his hedge fund rode the credit crunch because they created it. And it bums you all out for the count. Actually, meeting that guy would just make me thank Moses, Allah, and Buddah that I wasn't him. The other day though I sat down to talk with Daniel O'Sullivan. Turns out that Daniel and I grew up in the same part of London, are near enough the same age and actually went to school opposite each other. In case you don't know Daniel he does lots and lots of stuff. If you like Guapo, Miasma & The Carousel of Headless Horses, Aethenor, Mothlite, Ulver or Sunn O))) then guess what? You like Daniel. Yep, he plays in all of those things and a whole load more. How the fuck does he manage it? Maybe I should have gone to schools across the road.

Vice: How the fuck do you manage to do 67 different music things in at once and make them all amazing?

Daniel O'Sullivan:
Um, I’m not sure. It’s my job also they all complement each other. Sometimes you come up with something and it's quite clear what channel it could come out of and at other times it’s just there and you carry out around with you waiting to use it. More and more though I am losing the need to do anything even vaguely thespian. Anything superfluous is kind of being cut out. I just feel that there is no room for anything contrived and that I'm not in that headspace anymore. I just associate anything over the top with hiding away. I’d rather than be totally open than purposefully obscure.

You spend so much time playing that the bands have sort have become like these ongoing diaries.

Yeah, absolutely. You can sort of see how it's unraveled. With the early Guapo stuff, I was sort of feeding someone else's vision in a way and then as the guy who was initially writing a lot of the stuff in that band fell off the wagon I started to writing my own tunes and began creating this labyrinth which just kept growing.

Do you feel like you're more exposed in Mothlite?

Yes, kind of like I've left the labyrinth behind and I don't feel scared of being open anymore. I mean there is all the weird sonics and fucked-up bits still going on so it’s not like I am totally naked. I'm not about to write "It's My Life" or anything but you get some musicians who are totally amazing, but never put anything out because they're so frightened of what the reception would be. They've got like 50 albums stored away on their hard drives and none of them come out. I'm kind of the opposite. Everything I do comes out.

Mothlite seems to be your main focus at the moment, what is it about the Mothlite setup that you enjoy so much?

It definitely feels different from all the other stuff I am involved with. I see it as this big opportunity and it's the first thing I've ever done that's vocal. You can actually project thoughts as opposed to just moods and colours with vocals, which is pretty novel. I’ve been making sounds for so long that the whole concept of lyrics is like this big book I can jump into.

What made you decide to finally sing out?

I started doing a bit of vocal stuff in a more improvised sense with David (J. Smith) in Guapo and Miasma and I was doing stuff with Alex (Tucker) where we were just sort of harmonizing and looping stuff to sound like it was this big male choir or whatever. At some point during all that I thought maybe the vocals could just become another instrument.

What made you jump from just using your voice as an instrument to actually writing lyrics about things?

It was transitional. When I first started doing Mothlite I really hadn't escaped that voice-as-instrument thing and I was always just sort of trying to hit the right notes. The words were secondary. The more we were working on it though I realised that this was an opportunity. I had a really weird year last year, just a really strange time and I thought I could talk about it all quite literally in the song. Which seemed nice. Usually the music comes first then I write the words, but the new stuff has fallen out of a feeling so it all comes together. It’s really changed my whole view and the way I feel.

I wish writing words made me feel happy. I write literally thousands of words a day and maybe only three of them ever make me happy.
I guess there's all these words around the band, all the press releases and all that bullshit but the song is the only time where you can use words to find an association with the sound. Mothlite's not selling anything. Well maybe emotions, but I am not sure you can sell an emotion.

It’s funny you mentioned tone earlier as the Mothlite record makes me think of autumn. Even if it is totally sunny outside. Were you working towards a tone?

Not really, that was kind of absent, which is funny because I'm a big fan of sort of writing towards a concept. You can always do the opposite and tack the concept on afterwards but in this case there isn't really an overarching theme. It's a document of how I was feeling on the day that I went to the studio. Just things that felt correct at the time as opposed to working towards any kind of goal. Mothlite and Aethenor are definitely the focus now. I’ve been working on some stuff with Kristoffer Rygg too.
How did that come about?
We sort of put the wheels in motion for a couple other things and he invited us to play with him at this festival in Norway. He hadn't played live in like 12 years so in sound check you could see this guy suffering from torturous anxiety. I hope I never have to go through that.

How about the other projects?

Guapo is ongoing both live and in studio and we have done some stuff with Jarboe, Miasma happens live and I am still a live member of Sunn in a touring capacity plus a new thing that Stephen (O’Malley), Alex (Tucker) and myself are working on.

Just a few coals in the fire. What things that aren’t music get Daniel O’Sullivan going?
James Joyce. And Charles Laughton. I was consumed by Night Of The Hunter when I was making the Mothlite record. Laughton totally captures the absolute terror that can consume you as a child.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

i-D October Review

The Blood Of Life

For a band whose challenging recordings were once harder to acquire than platinum plated hens teeth this latest opus released via established UK indie Fire represents a great departure for muso’s favourite offensively named act. Both in terms of availability and sonic accessibility this is the record that might finally see Tom Greenwood and his avant cohorts cross over into a wider appreciation of their wide-eyed, rambling, rootsy no-fi sprawl.

Vice v6n11 Literary Reviews


Hmm, Anita Crapper. That name seems familiar somehow. Oh yeah! He’s our UK editor. Or our UK editor’s nom de plume at least. In a rare case of the tables being turned this fresh faced young ‘zine from Leeds did the question-y part and Capper did the answer-y part. If you want to find out all manner of secrets from Andy’s shadowy past then I guess you will have to order it from that URL down there. Oh, the interviews with the Shitty Limits, Mob Rules and serial Vice appearance artist Eugene Robinson are none too shabby either. They even managed to squeeze in a review of ‘The Women Of Hollyoaks’. Features like that are what ‘zines were invented for. Issue 2 please.


There is this guy Paul who works in our office. Initially everyone thought he was some indie guy, mainly because he has one of those swoopy fringe haircuts that every cunt and their dog who sings in a tight jeaned “oh-oh-oh” indie band seems to have. Turns out Paul is a really nice guy who is into good stuff like Black Flag and The Gun Club and when he’s not booking all the acts for The Old Blue Last he runs his own night (which is handily named after a Gun Club song) called Sexbeat. Now Sexbeat is also a ‘zine. If you like Black Flag and The Gun Club but have a silly haircut you’ll probably like it. How many times can you mention The Gun Club in one review?

Justin Maurer
Future Tense Books

Despite looking a little like a cross between Dennis Penis and Krusty the clown (seriously, check out his by-line photo on the back cover) Justin used to be in stern faced screamy hardcore band Colorox Girls and is actually really good at writing stuff. We get sent submissions constantly by email that we sincerely wish were sent the old fashioned way so that we could use them to shore up the constant lack of TP in the gents (what is the deal with that btw Danielle? Credit crunch?) but stuff like Justin’s turning up once every blue moon is like a little reassuring pat on the back and whisper in the ear that there are actually people out there who can still write great short fiction. Except that these little vignettes might be true stories. We’re not sure. It’s nicer not knowing. Justin: please don’t ever tell us the truth.

Eighty-Eight Shades Press

I initially struggled to find any info on this one until I looked at the publishers and remembered the we had reviewed a ‘zine called Eighty-Eight Shades Of Grey a while back. The constant presence of Nottingham Forest shirts and NG7 landmarks confirmed this. So you get a lot of snapshot photography of skaters drinking and being drunk mixed with moody landscape shots and more than your fill of urban decay as well as Nottingham’s unique take on combating paedophilia (with graffiti proclaiming that “Brian is a fucking kiddy fiddler). Nice UK photo ‘zines are thin on the ground. Let’s hope more people follow these Midlanders lead. How expensive can some A4 paper, a printer and a stapler be?

Dash Snow
CFA Berlin

If you don’t know who Dash Snow is you probably haven’t read many issues of this magazine beyond the last couple of years. Dash used to appear in these pages constantly in various stages of undress and intoxication. For the Party Issue he even recreated one of his infamous nest parties for us. In case you missed it: that involves booking yourself and your buddies into a hotel room, covering the room with shredded paper and making well… a nest. You then proceed to party so much that you have to hibernate to survive. As well as getting fucked up Dash is also very good at art and these days sells work for squillions of pounds to international collectors like Charles Saatchi and shows work at The Whitney and stuff. He manages to do all this while injecting the same free spirited fun and gallons of cum with which he still lives every day. So we still love him. This book collects a bunch of Dash’s collage work and photography. And it’s really really great.

Alan Aldridge
Thames & Hudson

You might think that you don’t know Alan Aldridge. In a way you might be right. You might never have heard his name spoken out loud before or read it in a magazine. But you do know Alan Aldridge if only in terms of his work. The sleeves of The Beatles Reprised, The Who’s A Quick One, Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and Cream’s Goodbye Cream? All Aldridge. This book isn’t just great in terms of highlighting how much of an impact Aldridge has had on anyone who has ever put pen to paper and drawn squiggly psychedelic stuff but serves as a massive inventory of just how hard the guy worked. Movie posters, a whole host of Penguin covers and even Heinekin ads. The guy was like a psychedelic drawing machine.

Handmade Dirtcheap Productions

Putting out a ‘zine and calling it Inky Fingers is a little like just calling it ‘A ‘Zine’. This one was subtitled ‘The Vice Special’ but in a massive blow to our ego’s it had nothing to do with us. It didn’t even try and parody us like that ‘Vice Issue’ of SugaRAPE. In fact it just contains loads of black and white ink drawings and cut and paste headlines that do a really of good job of holding your attention for just the right amount of time. Maybe they should have just called it ‘A ‘Zine’ after all.

Vice v6n11 Record Reviews

Everyone Is People

9 Usually whenever the word “stalwart” is used in a review you can just skip to the end and substitute it with “mediocre”. Lords however are stalwarts in the best way possible. Like hard touring, hard playing limpets they remain steadfast, clinging to the underbelly of the UK Beefheart/ZZ Top mining garage axis like hidden African blood diamonds. In fact they are about the only band mining that axis but they’re fucking great at it. And their drummer is called Elvis.

Wham Jam Thank You Mam

Rowans & The Crops Failed
The Beast Must Die

8 This may not hit the heady heights of Blue Mercedes’ mid-80’s synth-rape of the UK charts. In fact the only people who will ever hear it are probably the very same people who attended the bands record release party. Which was also doubled as the bands farewell gig. Regardless the great David Titlow’s band (or ex-band) strum up a folk rock storm that will, in it’s own way, be very much missed.

Jam Solo

Fireworks Night
A Mirror, A Ghost
Organ Grinder

8 I first saw these guys supporting The Mules in the basement of the Troubadour years ago. Back then they were James from the Mules side project and played woozy alt-country that sounded like Uncle Tupelo on Vicodin. This is their second record on Oxford independent Organ Grinder and despite rising from the fug slightly the whole thing still sounds just the right side of a bunch of friends playing in the back room of a bar on any given Friday.

Jam Parrish

Pale Creation
Before Twilight And After
Holy Terror

7 This record is on Holy Terror. What else do you need to know? Metallic hardcore? Check. Furious solos that make your face feel like it’s about to fall off? Check. Vocals that sound like the singer needs a hefty Benelin prescription? Check check check.

Jam 69

The Final Chapter
Violent Change

9 Just when you’d almost forgotten about one of the best punk acts the UK has ever seen Violent Change handily re-issue all the bands obscure odds and ends to remind you just how good the only band to ever make it out of Durham to tour with Charles Bronson and Dropdead really were.

Jimmy Jam Jar

Jackie O Motherfucker
The Blood Of Life

4 Once upon a time it was harder than spotting a gilded platinum swan making love to a russet red English squirrel than get hold of a Jackie O Motherfucker record. This absent-minded, spaced out live noodling session is out on Fire which kind of takes the fun out of the whole thing.


Jesse Malin
Mercury Retrograde
One Little Indian

8 We reviewed one of Jesse’s records a few months back and this is a live album which is usually the record equivalent of an artist holding up a big “hi! I’ve run out of ideas” sign and shaking it for all it’s worth. But this is Jesse Malin and you just can’t fault someone who played in Heartattack and D Generation singing about when morning still comes twice a day or not at all despite easily being old enough to know better.

Pweter Perret

Je Suis Animal
Self Taught Magic From A Book

7 You know the bits of Yellow Submarine where it all goes like the paisley lining of one of Jimi Hendrix’s coats and everyone has spinning flowers for eyes? This is like that. But with keyboards.

Alexis Petri-Dish

Little Joy
Little Joy
Rough Trade

2 When did the “if you are in the Strokes you have to be do a sub standard solo project” dictum get leaked? Did I miss the memo? Lets hope it’s fourth time lucky and Casablancas pulls an ace out of the hole.

Mick The Spanish

Keiren Hebden & Steve Reid

1 Ow, ow, ow, stop it. Enough already. My head hurts. You’re killing me with your sheer earnest musicality and drumtasticness. Minor improvement on the last Fridge trainwreck I guess.

Perry Nutkins

Does You Inspire You
Kanine Records

4 If we had a ‘Worst Title Of The Month’ this would be a shoe-in. Pukey proclamations aside this skips along in the same fashion that every band who went to art school and practices in a shared ‘space’ in Brooklyn seems to have dialed to skewed-pop perfection of late. If we’d woken up from an 18 month coma it might be a revelation but the latest transmission from planet YeaMGMTsayer fails to evoke much more than a “meh”.

Peter Pilton

North Sea Radio Orchestra
Oof Records

8 Hello band British Seapower wish they could be! These guys are like a latter day Incredible String Band mess of uniquely Anglican eccentricity. And woodwind. The North Sea Radio Orchestra play a rare show at St Martin in The Fields at the end of November which you should probably go to.

Rise Above

8 Bands from Surrey should play pleasant music that doesn’t distract from drinking real ale out of your regulars tankard clad in Barbour and wellies too much. It’s hardly surprising then that Diagonal got chased out of a pub in their native Farnborough for inflicting three songs of their Sleep meets Guru Guru stoner-psych to an unsuspecting audience over the course of 90 minutes. Farnborough’s loss is your gain.

Ping Crimson

New York Blood
Scream Records

9 It’s only fuckin’ Vinnie fuckin’ Stigma from straight outta New Yoik. The sleeve of Vinnie’s first ever solo record contains: a hand grenade, some .45 bullets, a knuckleduster, a pump action rifle and lots of blood. I think the message here is meant to go something like: “it’s tough on the streets kids but uncle Vinnie was in Agnostic Front and he’s tougher than all of yous guys put together”.

Circle Jams

Parts & Labour

8 Why does everyone gets a massive boner whenever TV On The Radio come up? It’s like they are the only band around making knowing, innovative, challenging pop music. Guess what? Here’s another one.

Cyron Boley

Vice Interview: Alexander Tucker

Here is an interview with Alexander Tucker that I did for Vice v6n11 which happened to be the 'No Photos Issue' aka 'The Drawings Issue' so it mainly concerns Alexander's illustrations and art work. His music is very good to though.

Alexander Tucker

Alexander Tucker is an illustrator and musician who lives and works alone in the same dark nook of the Kentish countryside he grew up in. After graduating from The Slade with a BA in Fine Art and playing in a bunch of bands like Suction, Unhome and Fuxa that people who read Pitchfork still get semis about and collaborating with dudes like Jackie O Motherfucker, Stephen O’Malley and Duke Garwood he decided doing things with other people was overrated and sunk back into illustrating alone and recording as a solo artist.

Both Alexander’s art and music seem to come from a twisted, scary world that probably only exists in his own head. His ink drawings are filled with beasts, multiple headed monsters, and lumbering goliaths eating each other while his records tend to be all bleak drones and guitar loops that sound a bit like Sunn being played backwards. A barrel of laughs Alexander’s stuff aint but we love everything he does anyway.

We spoke to Alex on a line that kept cutting out because they don’t have reception in bumfuck, nowhere Kent. This made transcribing this interview a nightmare but Alex has one of those nice soothing voices that only career stoners who never grew up can pull off so it was all ok in the end.

Vice: You started playing in Suction before most kids had started studying for their GCSE’s. Precocious youth?
Alexander Tucker:
Well I guess I was lucky in that my dad had a great recollection. No crap, just stuff like Duke Ellington and Hendrix but the guy who really switched me on to more leftfield music was my art teacher at school. He gave me all these Cardiacs and Residents records and that was that.

What kind of stuff were you drawing at that point? Guys with eyes for heads?
Quite possibly. I’ve been drawing since zero really. It’s just something that I’ve always done. My dad is an artist and his stuff was an early influence. Maybe more in terms of just making it acceptable to do stuff like draw all day than in terms of what I was drawing. He does all these weird found object pieces and assemblages. Back then I was really into a lot of Alan Moore’s comic work, stuff like The Watchmen and specifically Swamp Thing so there were a lot of monsters knocking around in my stuff. They’ve never really disappeared actually. A little later I became a bit obsessed with Bosch and Bacon so they were a big influence as well.

How big an effect did attending The Slade have on your work? I know people that have gone there and felt it improved their work to the power of a gajillion and others who reckon it robbed any enjoyment they ever had for creating things.
Hmm, well after I finished there I was really disillusioned and pissed off with the whole narrow mindedness of the art scene. It was just rank. Really disgusting, stilted and just fucking awful. The whole thing seemed like this myth controlled by a small band of critics and collectors who decide what’s in and what’s out which inevitably shapes peoples output. I could just never really abide that.

So… Not much fun at college then?
Well I just kind of opted out of that whole scene after I finished and it got me playing music. I’ve always found musicians far more open to experimentation and just accepting things. In terms of art I ended up really focusing on comics. All I wanted do was draw monsters kicking the shit out of each other and not be told whether that was what I should or shouldn’t be doing. My ex-wife and I put out this anthology of comics called Sturgeon White Moss that was very much of that period.

What made you finally decide to start playing music solo after so long playing in bands?
I think that all of my life I’ve just been discovering ways of not involving other people. It just complicates things, You have to allow certain things to happen that become out of your control. I had always been messing around on my own with feedback and loops plus I never felt I could play as well as my friends. On your own there is no one to disappoint but yourself. The band stuff always came naturally and unthinkingly despite whatever limitations I felt I had whereas on my own I had to stop and consider which was interesting. I remember this Unhome track we were working on and I’d pushed for it to be this long, open, feedbacky, improvised mess and all the parts that I liked they would either leave really low in the mix or cut in and out and they were the bits I wanted to make the whole song. That kind of inspired me to strike out and start making all this DIY sound and feedback. I didn’t really know where I was going but it was liberating. It was a strange mix of making these tentative sounds that were coming out exactly as I expected but somehow at the same time were totally startling.

Did all the startling sounds influence what you were drawing?
Looking at them from the outside it seems that the music and the art very much come from the same world and that world seems fairly dark. A lot of the darker stuff is from a period in my life where I was really struggling though. I definitely wasn’t very happy for quite a long time and both the music and the drawings reflect that. It all definitely helped see me through and deal with it all. A lot of the drawings from that time seemed so automatic and while the music was slightly more considered the drawings could definitely illustrate the music and the music could soundtrack the drawings. If you look at the sleeve of “Old Fog” with that dark little cave and the floating clod of earth levitating on the back it definitely belongs in that slightly twisted, twilight world.

Do you draw at night? None of your stuff is exactly sunshine and blue skies.
Drawing in the morning makes me feel really strange. I feel weird all day if I do that. Nighttime is definitely the best. It just feels like it all fits. But I tend to either be doing music or drawing. I’ll focus on one, get it out and then fall back on the other one. They are both always there though. I am pretty lazy about pushing my art. Maybe I shouldn’t be?


Vice Interview: Japanese Motors

Here is an interview with California indie-rock guys Japanese Motors for Vice v6n11. They are like a really addictive version of an even more surfier Strokes.


Japanese Motors Friends Don’t Wear High Heels

Japanese Motors are great. And not in maybe I’ll go check ‘em out at the bar tonight kind of great. More great in a just can’t no matter how hard you try ever get their songs out of your head kind of way. An old lady asked me to stop humming along to ‘Single Fins & Safety Pins” on the 243 the other day. They sound kind of like The Mummies playing Chantays tracks but with the taught energy of early Strokes bathed in a beautiful So-Cal glow. They are from Costa Mesa and though I have never been nor know anything about the place I can say with all confidence that it is the kind of beachside town where everything’s fine, the sun shines every day and there is always a barbeque to be at. Or at least that’s what a Japanes Motors song would have you believe. We like ‘em so much that we signed them.

Vice: Pitchfork’s market front, Insound, have labeled you "the most exciting band to emerge from Orange County since the heyday of Social Distortion and TSOL".
Alex Knost (guitar):
It’s hard to judge any critic or critique. Getting just as many fans of the tunes writing good things, as we do critics writing us on or off is great. Besides, I question free press these days as a whole. Who knows who is telling who to write what.

Who do you think told me to write about you?
I don’t know. Your boss?

No, I actually just like your songs. You are on our label though so I guess maybe that might be it.
Not that I am blowing smoke up your ass ‘cos of where this interview is appearing but everyone at Vice Records and Vice in general is cool, they work their asses off and flex like no ones business. We just saw it as like this big party where everyone hangs out and socializes and has similar tastes and ideas so it was logical to go with you guys.

Talking about parties is there any truth whatsoever to all this talk of your infamous all night parties in Costa Mesa?
I don't know where that rumour came from. I like to get up early in the mornings. After being in New York and seeing how no one leaves bars ‘till like five am, I'd have to say it’s a web of rock and roll lies that they span to consume us.

Who is that girl on the cover of your record? I would like to be friends with her.
Her name is Sneakers. We would see her every night for years at local shows and bars, but none of us ever talked to her. We thought she had an attitude problem. Since no one knew her we started calling her Sneakers due to the fact she never wore heels, or pumps. Just sneakers, every night. She would be in Dunks or wino's or whatever. Then finally after meeting her and talking to her we realized she was just shy and was a total sweetheart. I took that photo of her just a week later as she was sat on the couch in our practice space drinking a beer. We are glad we are friends with her now.

Jam 69

Japanese Motors debut album “Single Fins & Safety Pins” is available now on Vice Records

Vice Interview: Mob Rules

Here is an interview by the best UK 'hardcore' band I have heard this year. They sound a little like all your favourite powerviolence bands rolled into one. Think Crossed Out, Infest and No Comment with bassy Noothgush bits. In other words: amazing.


Mob Rules Are Fuelled By Grudge

Leeds is a horrible place. Cold, grey and grim. Both of my parents worked all day every day during the week so when I was a kid I got carted off to my auntie Jane’s place near Chapel Town on the outskirts of the city for large chunks of the summer holidays every year. The drive up the M1 fills me with dread to this day. It came as little surprise to me when I discovered that the MP3’s circulating on punk forums by a band called Mob Rules were the product of the city of Leeds. Powerviolence might have originated bathed in West Coast sunshine but its unrelenting, uncompromising brutality and anger perfectly reflects just how grim and fucking depressing the North of England can be. It has helped make Mob Rules the best punk band in the UK as of right now though so maybe it’s not all bad.

Are you sure that you aren’t the German band Mob Rules hiding out in Leeds after singing one too many songs about barbarians and witches?
Conor Rickford (drums):
No. (Thomas) Cambell (vocals) came up with the name. He assured us it was Greg Ginn's 7th favourite Black Sabbath record.

I can’t really make out the lyrics very well because Cambell’s voice sounds a bit like a Morris Minor stalling. What’s are you guys singing about?
Paul Steere (bass):
The frustrations that arises from having to write lyrics.
Conor: We practice on a Saturday night in a lock up in the middle of Leeds. Can you imagine the refreshing impetus provided as we fight our way through the fleshy gauntlet of hen-nights resplendent in their blotchy, fake-tanned arms, Persil-white thighs and lobotomized, glazed eyes staring out from their booze-soaked, palsied faces? The fuel for our motor is topped up every weekend, right on our doorstep. Grudge is the most abundant natural resource we have.
Paul I spend a lot of time being pissed off with everyone. If I could kill people by rolling my eyes, all these guys would be dead by now. But so far I've never been seriously tempted to go for a major artery.

Why can no one find you online?
Well, we don't have a MySpace or a Facebook if that's what you mean. We don't have those things because we don't need them.
Conor: Metering our popularity online is not something I'm that keen on doing. Probably because I'm afraid of what it might do to my confidence.
Paul I'm not big into hanging out anyway. Good fucking luck to the lot of them.

This is the Drawing Issue. Are any of you artistically inclined?
Conor writes extensive lists of the money we all owe him for various things, then illustrates them with a range of different stickmen, each one signaling a different level of dissatisfaction. I've come to notice that his dissatisfaction fluctuates wildly. This betrays a fundamental weakness of character. I wouldn't vote for him.

Circle Jams

Mob Rules have no online presence. We told you that up there.

They do however have a record out on Superfi in December. It will be a 7".

Vice Interview: The Muslims

Here is an interview with the indie rock band The Muslims for Vice v6n11.


The Muslims Don’t Like Talking But They Do Like Shooting

The Muslims are so in demand right now that this interview almost didn’t happen. When we contacted the band for a chat they were in the middle of playing 67 shows a day at CMJ where all the A&R guys were probably sinking their fangs in at every possible free moment attempting leach that inexplicable and fleeting aura known only as “buzz” from their weary bones. Poor guys. Somehow Matty, the bands guitar player, found five minutes to rapid fire answer some IM questions. He was brief but to the point so we didn’t mind. The bands tight take on garage owes as much to the Modern Lovers or The Velvet Undergound as it does to The Flying Medallions and it’s as infectious as hell. You might not have heard or even heard of The Muslims yet. But you will. And soon.

Vice: Why are there holes in my copy of your 12”?
Matty McLoughlin (guitar): Each sleeve was shot with a .22 by an ex-New York City policeman.

So they are bullet holes?

Are any of you actually Muslims?
None of us are religious.

On a scale of one to really fucking pissed off how much does the last question annoy you?
It doesn't bother us. It's just a stupid question.

Does San Diego have an inferiority complex about being so close to LA? Everyone is talking about that place again like it’s New York in ’77 or something
No. San Diego holds its own. LA has its own thing and it is just a bigger place. More people live there which means more bands. Simple.

You play a hell of a lot of shows. Tell us a “Get In The Van” story.
Once, while driving through Arizona we were stopped by the Border Patrol and locked in a paddy wagon as they tried to convince us we had drugs in the van. We didn’t so they let us go but the drug dog ate Dave's burrito as they searched the van. He was pissed.

How does it feel being a buzz band? Is it deafening like tinnitus or barely noticeable?
We haven’t really noticed. We've played on some good shows because of it though.

My favourite song on the record is that track “Americans” but I have this weird thing where I blank out lyrics as soon as I hear them and just remember the sound the words make but not the words. What is it about?
"Americans" is about anglophiles in the States.

This is the Drawing Issue. Whose scribbles do you admire most?
Rick Froberg is probably my favorite illustrator but an old good one is Egon Schiele. Check him out.

Jimmy Jam Jar

The Muslims ‘Walking With Jesus’/’Parasites’ 7” on I Hate Rock N Roll Records is forthcoming.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Gigwise Interview: Pivot

Here is an interview with the Australian band Pivot that I did for Gigwise.

Pivot Interview

Pivot are rare proposition: a heavily electronica influenced outfit who actually get up on stage and play real instruments, melding IDM and live bass, drums and vocals. While there is currently a surfeit of bands plying this niche Pivot’s uniqueness lies in their ability to do all of the above well. They also happen to be from Australia. And signed to Warp. Who happen know a thing or two about good electronic music.

Brothers Richard and Laurence Pike met third member Dave Miller through the tight knit Australian DIY underground scene and started playing together in 2006. Their first album (‘Makme Me Love You’, Sensory Projects, 2005) exhibited elements that their Wrap debut ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’ has not just built upon but rather erected ginormous skyscrapers of progress. Without asking anyone for planning permission.

While comparisons to bands like Hot Chip who exist in a similar demi-monde between electronic and indie convention are salient only in terms of accident rather sonic similarity a decision to move to the UK earlier this year has helped the band become one of the most exciting live acts you are likely to see this summer.

We caught up with Laurence to talk about the bands past and where they are looking to next.

How did Pivot originally come into being? As a band from Australia you kind of arrived in a lot of people in this countries consciousnesses fully formed.
Laurence: Rich and I had this mutual friend of ours who asked us to do a gig together basically. It was at this festival at the Sydney Opera House and we just kind of hit it off. In the early days we kind of had different members but it was done under the banner of ‘Pivot’ with Rich and I as the core. We knew Dave from round and about and we wanted him as part of our team. Once we had asked him to join the band in the sense that people consider it now was formed. This was all around 2000 I guess.

What were your influences at that early stage?
Well, we all kind of come from slightly different angles, which I think makes it a little more interesting. Dave comes from this minimal techno background so he was always turning us on to that kind of stuff where as Rich and I come from having played instruments our whole life and listened to rock music. Rich and I were also already familiar with a lot of the soundtrack stuff from the 70s and I think Dave had to check lots of that stuff out and catch up. Just being in London the last few years with the pop music that we hadn’t really been exposed to in Australia was interesting as well.

How does London compare to Sydney?
They are so different. There is so much going on in London. That’s why we moved. It was a no brainer really. Sydney’s a funny place, it’s good in parts but quite scattered. It can be a bit difficult to progress artistically and the big obstacle is friends. Just a lack of people to work with. There’s also really fucked up licensing laws in Sydney. It stops the sort of people with ideas that unfortunately don’t have the mega bucks that you actually need to get the license but people really try and the last few years there’s been a lot more DIY. Even then though it’s such a ridiculously regulated process. There’s so much red tape and bullshit that parties get cut down before they can even get started. We just thought: rather than release an album nobody’s heard of, come here a few months in advance and work really hard, and try and establish some sort of profile so once the record’s out we aren’t starting at square one. There is a lot of music here and as with any scene you need to earn respect and pay your dues which is hopefully what we have been doing.

There is a marked evolution in your sound between the first record and ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’. What contributed to this change?
The first record was a bigger band. It lacked it’s own sound and was probably too ambient at times. It also had some jazzier tunes to it, which I didn’t really feel and they probably came from the old keyboard player. He just kind of disappeared. We kind of trimmed the fat I guess and got into using the samplers. That’s been our main focus for gigs. We do a lot of live sampling and stuff like that, which can change the course and texture of the songs when their live which is really important I think. Because we don’t want people to come to the gigs and think they’ll get the CD or the same shit every time. We expect from ourselves what we would expect from a gig if we were attending.

Having been playing live so intensively has the live element began to influence the production.
Undoubtedly. It already is. We’ve been working on new stuff and firstly, we’ve been doing it together in the same room which is different from how we made the last album because Dave was in London a lot of times and it was a lot of sending each other files and stuff and now it’s only the three of us. The process is more interactive with the organic element of using technology, and that’s exciting because you don’t know where it’s going to go.

Can you already discern a shift in sound for the future?
Because we don’t really know where it’s going it is kind of exciting. It’s like with the live sampling: when you’ve got someone on stage that’s solely dedicated to making sounds live there’s a lot you can do with that. We’re just trying to chill out and be good, you know. The last couple of gigs Dave’s been getting into sampling things and doing lots of strange future beat things with it on his mini table. I think probably towards the end of the year we probably try and play the new material rather than just play the album.

How did the Warp connection come about?
It just sort of happened quite naturally. It’s weird because they’re a big influence on us. We’ve listened to their tunes for years, since high school. It’s strange, if you would have said to me ten years ago you’d put a record out with Warp I would have told you to fuck off, but when it happened it was like, oh it makes sense, because their the label who want to put out the kind of music we care about. We basically made the record we wanted to and thought we’re really happy with this and they were happy to put it out. It was all a happy coincidence!

Ben Rayner Bio

Here is a bio I wrote for Ben Rayner's upcoming collection of shots of dogs that he meets while he is walking around London. Ben's photos are always amazing and his work ethic is incredible. He is also one of the nicest, kindest and genuine people I know. Love ya buddy.

Ben Rayner Bio

The first time I met Rayner was at a Vice party where he was taking shots of people looking bored. He was wearing the best DRI T Shirt I have ever seen. I was already a little gone so I told him so. He was already a lot gone and claims to not really remember the conversation. He does remember the party being “pretty real” though.

Soon after that we did our first job together. I had to interview a bunch of shitty indie bands for an advertorial while Ben took all the shots. I imagined it would take all day. Ben told me that we would do all seven in “like an hour or something and then go have a pint”. He was right.

I have never previously and probably never will work with a photographer as immediately and infectiously spontaneous as Rayner. Just hanging out with him makes you step up your game. You do everything twice and fast and twice as well because if you don’t he’ll be off on the next job and you’ll be left holding your dick.

As well as being really good at smoking lots of cigarettes, drinking rum and coke and winning thousands of pounds at roulette every four and half minutes Rayner is never further than a pocket away from his Yashica or Contax. His snapshot style always somehow manages to project the amount of fun he is having on whatever he shoots. This whole book consists of shots of dogs and he even manages to make them look as though they are about to go for a party. “Hello Buddy!”

Now that I’ve sucked your dick for a hundred words can I have that DRI T Shirt?

Psychopedia Feature: Damian Abraham's Record Collection

Here is an interview I did with Damian Abraham from Fucked Up about records. I really like records so this was fun.


Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham likes punk rock records more than you.

Damian Abraham is possibly the most instantly recognizable figure in hardcore punk music today. Whether you have seen Fucked Up play in the flesh or have simply witnessed their vital live performances through still photos or video it is the image of Damian’s well endowed frame, drenched in sweat, blood, saliva, beer and (more than likely) even more blood, that tends to remain as the flickering reminder of Fucked Up seared upon the retinas and subconscious of the musically aware.

Through his role as mouthpiece for Fucked Up’s wholly idiosyncratic and uncompromising synergy of traditional hardcore anger, speed and force with restless socio-political polemic, mythical thematic exploration and progressive song structure, Damian has become the focal point of a band that has always been much more than just a band.

Fucked Up are a movement, a band to believe in that have always threatened to convert listeners from every margin that recognize in their music, ethical outlook and modus operandi something well beyond void carbon copy and generic reproduction. Fucked recently signed to ‘major’ indie Matador in a worldwide deal that makes this threat an ever growing reality.

An important part of the bands self-mythology and one of their most defining characteristics has been a wildly sprawling vinyl output. As far as they stray from the confines of perceived notions of punk ‘normality’ the bands adherence to the 7” record and a boggling mass of variants thereof is perhaps their only concession to hardcore conventionality.

It is no surprise then to discover that the whole band are vinyl obsessive. Damian aka ‘Pink Eyes’ is the groups self confessed crowned record nerd. We caught up with Damian to ask how much round bits of wax that go in circles really mean to him.

Psychopedia: How old were you when you bought your first record?
Damian Abraham: I would have been would have been three or four. It was the Madness "Our House" 7". I fell in love with that song because it was on the radio and TV back then. I can’t remember the exact store I got it in but I guess I would have bought it somewhere with my dad. He was pretty dialed into the new wave stuff back then. He even went and saw the Viletones a few times.

How old were you when you realized that you were a ‘record collector’ as opposed to someone who just bought and listened to records?
I would have been about 17. I was a late bloomer. I didn't get ‘real’ about it until I was 19 though. That was when I started trading and digging. I can remember going to a friends house and he was flipping a bunch of punk singles to focus more on reggae and jazz and I bought a ton of stuff off him and just thought to myself: "Well this is my life now."

Can you remember what the first ‘punk’ record you ever bought was?
I think it would have been a Swingin' Utters ‘Nothing To Rely On’ 7"

What a record! What came first for you: punk obsession or record obsession? The two seem to go hand in hand. There aren’t many punk fans out there that don’t have a hefty 7” collection.
Punk was first. I bought records about a year or two after but it was more for ‘the music’ then. I swiftly became pretty obsessed though and you are definitely right: the two go hand in hand. I think it’s because punk, by its very nature, is outsider music that appeals to marginal personalities. These types of personalities often tend to be hoarders. If it wasn't punk I'm sure I would be collecting Star Wars toys or something else nerdy. I mean, as well as records I collect old ‘zones, tapes, fliers, the odd t-shirt. Basically: anything punk related.

What is your favorite format?
The 7”. Simply because it is the format best suited to punk.

And what is your favorite ‘punk record?
h100 – ‘Dismantle’ 7"

A lot of collectors go straight for their rarest or most valuable as their favorite record but I know that you have rarer stuff than that.
Yeah. I have a DRI test press of the ‘Violent Pacification’ 7" that has the wrong band on the b-side and the Integrity acetate. Or the acetates of the first Teenage Head 7" and LP. All that stuff is pretty hard to get hold of.

What have been your biggest bargain finds?
My wife gave me a copy of The Subhumans ‘Death To The Sickoids’ 7". I’d wanted that forever but I didn't really find that so maybe we can’t count it. I once found a copy of the Action 12" with the sleeve as they were putting it in the window-display of a store and bought it for a quarter. It was a bit of a mythical record to me and to find it like that made my day. I have been lucky enough to have been given some amazing records by friends over the years but I couldn't count those as bargains. I would say the Project X single for a few bucks or the Integrity 10" on pink with the alt sleeve for $10 are my biggest scoops.

On the flipside have you ever had to sell chunks of your collection in hard times?
I have sold stuff but always to buy other stuff. I guess it is more like reinvesting.

Let’s do a few more nerdy questions. Which single record do you own the most variants of?
I want to one day have all the various version of the Confront 7". I'm one away now and I have six already on the h100 7". I'm a huge loser.

No you aren’t. You’re my hero. Which single record that you do not own do you wish that you did?
The Fix ‘Vengeance’ 7" It is such a mythical record but apart from that most of the stuff that I want now is just cool records I didn't know about. Not so much heavy hitters. I long for the purity of obscurity.

How do you maintain some kind of order?
In terms of the punk stuff it’s divided by country and Cleveland gets its own section. It’s alphabetical within country though.

As someone who still digs in crates what are your feelings towards eBay as a forum for record exchange and collecting?
I mean I don't use it anymore but that is only because I enjoyed it too much at one point. I think it has leveled the playing field and forced collectors to step up their game up.

Finally: do you have a favorite ‘non-punk’ record?
‘Phantom Of The Paradise’ Soundtrack.

September Forkasts

Three 'Forkasts' For

The Big Pink Forkast

The Big Pink are Londoners Robbie Furze (ex-Panic DHH, Alec Empire) and Milo Cordell (founder and owner of Merok Records). The long time friends realized that the music they had been tinkering with in Robbie’s basement was yielding something too special not to tell anyone about.

While all song writing and creative control remains in Milo and Robbie’s hands, in order to play live The Big Pink called on friends to help transfer their music from studio to stage. The band’s rapidly growing reputation as a live act in London has been enhanced by on stage collaboration with guests such as Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo, Sunn O)), Aethenor), Jo Apps (Planet Mu), Jo Robertson (Ben Chasny, Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Martin Creed, Byron Coley) and Al O’Connell (Engineer: Mystery Jets, Paul Epworth).

The Big Pink’s sound is an encompassing swathe of deftly manipulated static and feedback that acts as both catalyst and backdrop to sequenced and live percussive patterns and layered, entwined vocal, guitar and key melodies.

The stately, building feedback, drone and trebly crescendo of ‘Crystal Visions’ are entirely characteristic of The Big Pink. The track nods to such sonic reference points as the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine or Spiritualized’s tender adventures in distortion but the track’s chiming chorus and melodic nuance allow it a fragile beauty of it’s very own.

‘Crystal Visions’ will be available as one side of a 7” limited to 500 copies on independent label House Anxiety Records released at the end of September.

Heartbreak ForkastGraffiti Island Forkast

Graffiti Island are three twentysomethings from East London who were all so bored of what was being played at the shows they were attending they decided they may as well start playing some music they actually liked.

Whether by influence or coincidence it remains unclear but Graffiti Island’s stripped back, pared down, lo fi, redolent of early K Records innocence or Flying Nun fuzz has found itself common currency among like minded London bands such as Pens (, Male Bonding ( and Teeth ( ).

Guitarist Conan Roberts may or may not have played bass guitar in Brighton thrash punk heroes Abandon Ship (, drummer Cherise Payne may or may not work for tasteful London based indie record label XL and vocalist Pete Donaldson may or may not look after Rankin’s kids (he definitely does co-run the excellent Voodoo Village blog though which can be found at but they are certainly one of the few truly interesting bands playing in London right now.

Having already supported acts including Les Savy Fav, Apache Beat and Rings during their short existence the band are set to release their debut 7” on London-based vinyl only label House Anxiety Records.

The A Side of that 7”, ‘Headhunters’, is typical of Graffiti Island’s simple, lo fi and rhythm section heavy sound. Sped along by propulsive drums and a nagging, rhythmic guitar line the song features Pete’s deadpan delivery which slips in and out of spoken word on recurring lyrical touchstones including getting lost in the jungle and coveting things like shrunken head earrings. Wait ‘till you hear the one about the Wolf Guy…

‘We’re Back’ is the debut single by London based italo-disco duo Heartbreak. While London’s recent italo resurgence has been lead by DJ’s playing out classic sides at nights like Cocadisco (, Horsemeat Disco ( and Disco Bloodbath ( the resurgence has lacked an act that can convey the live element so integral to some of italo’s defining moments. You need only look to greats such as Kano ( to realize that Heartbreak might just be the act that the movement needs to truly move from reverence to contemporary innovation and relevance.

Londoner Ali Renault’s informed synths and programming and expatriate Argentinean Sebastian Muravchik’s sincere vocal delivery and live performance elevate the duo from pastiche or tribute to one of the most exciting things you currently pay money to see live anywhere right now. Recent shows have seen stage invasions (, general adulation and quite possibly a few tears (unconfirmed).

The Moroder lost in Rimini ‘85 synth stabs of ‘We’re Back’are layered with Renault’s trademark metallic menace which has led some to brand Heartbreak’s sound ‘metalo’. While this might be almost as ridiculous a term as ‘grindie’ it’s not a million miles off. The band does after all list Obituary in their top MySpace friends.

Heartbreak’s first album ‘Lies’ is due on Lex in late September.

Graffiti Island Forkast

Graffiti Island are three twentysomethings from East London who were all so bored of what was being played at the shows they were attending they decided they may as well start playing some music they actually liked.

Whether by influence or coincidence it remains unclear but Graffiti Island’s stripped back, pared down, lo fi, redolent of early K Records innocence or Flying Nun fuzz has found itself common currency among like minded London bands such as Pens (, Male Bonding ( and Teeth ( ).

Guitarist Conan Roberts may or may not have played bass guitar in Brighton thrash punk heroes Abandon Ship (, drummer Cherise Payne may or may not work for tasteful London based indie record label XL and vocalist Pete Donaldson may or may not look after Rankin’s kids (he definitely does co-run the excellent Voodoo Village blog though which can be found at but they are certainly one of the few truly interesting bands playing in London right now.

Having already supported acts including Les Savy Fav, Apache Beat and Rings during their short existence the band are set to release their debut 7” on London-based vinyl only label House Anxiety Records.

The A Side of that 7”, ‘Headhunters’, is typical of Graffiti Island’s simple, lo fi and rhythm section heavy sound. Sped along by propulsive drums and a nagging, rhythmic guitar line the song features Pete’s deadpan delivery which slips in and out of spoken word on recurring lyrical touchstones including getting lost in the jungle and coveting things like shrunken head earrings. Wait ‘till you hear the one about the Wolf Guy…

Michael Runion Bio

I did a bio for this guy a while ago. Here is an updated one.

Michael Runion

"If Seinfeld and Stephen Malkmus double
teamed a demure Mexican woman and she had a baby, it
would be Mike." Z Berg of The Like

"No better man to have by your side on the hotel
floors of Dublin." Farmer Dave Scher of Beachwood

Michael Runion grew up in Ventura CA, playing bass for crust and punk bands in thrall to the likes of Polvo and Unwound. After moving to Los Angeles and paying his rent by selling ‘zines and founding lauded silk screen clothing company Deathcamp (whose clothes have been worn by 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith and a whole host of other B list celebrities you have never heard of). As opposed to being a straight company Deathcamp was more a loose collection of artists, creatives, hipsters and hangers on all living out of a squat in East LA that soon became infamous locally.

This sense of collective pursuit of artistic integrity combined with a strong sense of communal living heavily informed the way that Michael would go on to create himself, constantly giving all he could both as an individual and in group situations. Wander around LA and on any given corner on any given day and there will be someone who has sang with, written with, shared a stage or a bar stool with Michael Runion more than willing to recount at least one tale of how he can capture and captivate in seconds.

This local infamy allowed Michael to swiftly became a constant in the bands that surround the Rilo Kiley collective including Jenny Lewis’s solo project and Sub Pop indie four-piece The Elected while continuing to mine a vein of authentic American songwriting with his own band Jamzz.

Michael’s debut solo album, ‘Our Time Will Come’, was recorded in Elliot Smith’s former studio by Grandaddy leader Jim Fairchild over a leisurely period of two months with contributions from Jonathon Rice, Ze Berg of The Like and James Valentine of Maroon 5 as well as old friends Rilo Kiley. As Michael himself has said of the record: “I basically asked all my talented friends to help make my record better, and they accepted,” says Runion. “I couldn’t have lucked into a better social group.”

The record represented a synergy of disparate influences mixed to great effect with characteristic honesty displaying Michael’s own unique voice while remaining informed by the music and musicians that Michael has continued to surround himself with.

The familiar Saddle Creek sound that lends an air of modernist melody and pop sensibility to classic song structure is present but in Runion’s delivery, turn of phrase and day to day observation the echoes of Townes Van Zandt and The Band’s Levon Helm that he brazenly displays as influences on his MySpace page are clear.

Having self released the album in the United States in April 2008 Michael embarked on tours US and European tours with Rilo Kiley and Alessi. He is currently to be found playing live shows with his five piece band, which features members of Whispertown 2000 and Neon Like, as well as preparing to release a 7” featuring the title track from ‘Our Time Will Come’ backed by ‘Daylight’ (a duet with Z Berg) on fledgling label Platforms Records.

Michael will be touring the UK from Sep 25th - Oct 9th where he will also make "Our Time Will Come" available from Oct 6th. His excitement both to be writing new material (he has already started preparing a follow up to “Our Time Will Come” which he believes to be a learning curve of a record) and to be playing these songs live is evoked with typical Runion honesty: “I can’t wait to play these songs for people. You spend years playing other people’s songs, and you get to see the world, but then you need to see if you can do it on your own. So far so good. They haven’t dragged me off any stages yet.”

Gigwise Interview: Micachu

Micachu interview I did for Gigwise.


Micachu is perhaps the consummate post post pop phenomenon. Young, intelligent, attuned, intuitive, hyper aware and hyper exposed she has sucked in influences like a hungry void and re-emitted them coughing, spluttering and shiny new. Her songs shudder, stop and start, loaded with wide eyed ideas and idealistic innocence. The concept of a boundary is ignored to the point of total irrelevance, laughed at, tripped over and then sung about. Her youthful exuberance and ad hoc ability to move, manipulate and utiluse technology as willingly as her trusty, battered pawn shop acoustic has spawned unique day glow, junk hop, rubbish pop nuggets of sheer glee that have seen fans as diverse as Bat For Lashes and Saul Williams queueing up to ardently tip their hats and pledge allegiance. None more so than the rennaisance man of beat and string juxtopistion himself: Mathew Herbert who jumped at the chance to record the 21 year olds album in his home studio.

While Micachu now shares billing with friends Marc Pell (drums) and Raisa Khan (keys and electronics) who form her backing band, The Shapes, Micachu’s music remains very much her own singular, skewed vision and equally very much in the lineage offbeat pop musicians from The Silver Apples, to Beefheart to Bjork (another fan). In terms of contemporaries you are probably better off looking towards the wonky sounds of Rustie than the lazy Mike Skinner comparisons that seem to currently be chucked around. Latest single ‘Golden Phone’ (available now, Accidental Records) is as good place as any to enter into Micachu’s weird world of strums, beats and err… hoovers.

How are you today?
Micachu: Good, it’s really nice, nice weather. How are you?

Pretty tired. I feel bad. You look really uncomfortable. How much do you hate interviews on a scale of 1-10?
Micachu: 10? It’s not one of those things where it’s like, “are we lucky we have them?”, they’re pretty um, you just can’t do them right, if you know what I mean.

How long ago did you make the decision to go from just you on your own to playing with a band?
Micachu: Uh, 8 months ago. I was going off being on stage on my own. I mean, if it’s just doing production and stuff then being by yourself is ok but being on stage you just feel like an idiot. I don’t know, being by yourself is rubbish.

How long have you been producing for?
Micachu: Umm, since I was like 14 or 15. It was just a genuine love for the production of music. Listening to Tiger Beat 6 stuff. Drop The Lime and some hip hop and stuff.

And how far away from those early influences are you now?
Micachu: Pretty far.
Marc: I think its good get the difference between the live sound with the band compared to the electronic sound being produced.
Micachu: Yeah, I hate the way bands sound on CD. Well, not hate, I just think that, if they’re playing the same songs in the same arrangements it’s so obvious. I just think for your own piece of mind, being in a band, I mean how sick do you think we get of playing our same songs every night for years? Obviously it’s a great job, but you’ve got to change it up, keep trying to make it different so it remains fresh. We want it to become more like that. Changing live. I think that’s familiarity with playing together as well. You know you’ve got a certain amount of trust on stage

Has playing with the band had an effect on what you have been doing in the studio afterwards?
Micachu: Yeah. I think the aspects of simplicity and things that work when you’re doing things live can translate back pretty fast. There’s things you can do on a record that can be a bit busier and less focused, people have the option to listen to it a little less focused, but live people are just standing there with instruments, you’ve got to pare things down a bit, unless you’re making a real gesture with having real textured kind of meshing. I think the ideas of simplicity are what I’ve considered more in pop songs.
Marc: Simplicity is actually really hard to a do.
Micachu: To do well without just putting out shit and being boring

I have to ask you about the hoover.
Micachu: Well, the hoover thing comes from the original track that I produced with it because it was about listening to records when you hoover up. I was listening to a lot of records with the hoover on which is counter productive obviously, and I thought it’d be nice to start the record off with the sound of a hoover for all the other people that blatantly do that as well. When I bought it to the band I was like: “Why don’t we put a real hoover in?” because I thought it’d be funny. Obviously it’s silly, but you can get loads of tones out of it and you can filter it with the mic. It’s kind of a happy accident really. The other aspect of it is Harry Partch, He played and created his own instruments because western instruments couldn’t create the tonality he was after so he built out of necessity and he is a big influence.

What else has influenced you sonically?
Micachu: There’s so much stuff. Captain Beefheart, Nirvana, good pop and I love dance music.

Can you hear all of that on the album?
Micachu: I hope so. Half of it’s been my production and half of it is with The Shapes. Which is really interesting because it’s half of it’s like cleanly put together and the other half is live. We’ve been making it in Whitstable in Kent which has been nice.

In Mathew Herbert’s studio?
Micachu: Yeah. He’s been great. He gets it.

Lyrically what inspires you?
Micachu: To be honest with you, simple things. I try and avoid doing things about love just because I haven’t really had that much heartbreak; it would just be contrived and a little bit boring. ‘Golden Phone’ we found out had a quite interesting resonance though. It was originally about monsters and then we found out that on the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Fransico, there is a golden phone that people who are going to commit suicide can call up.
Marc: So the whole song’s basically about suicide

Not quite as light hearted as monsters. How did your mixtape come about?
Micachu: Oh, I’d done all these tracks with these rappers and I’d also done all these pop songs and I was never going to release the pop stuff so I just gave it all away on the internet. I’m actually doing another one, It’s going to be a bit shorter this time though.

And how about your night, the isle of S & M?
Micachu: That was a bit like and experiment in music. It’s gone a bit under, but we’re bringing it back this year. Basically it’s getting a balance between a respectful audience because the places are quiet and having an unpretentious atmosphere as well. It’s pretty relaxed, but it’s sort of like you have to be, because it’s quiet and you really have to listen.
Marc: You look at schools in like Newham and they have to sit in concert halls and take stuff in properly, there’s not enough of that now a days, there’ just people everywhere, people don’t just chill out and watch something.
Micachu: Yeah, it’s good when you don’t have those social barriers, people can be lost in their own little world. It would be great if people liked it either way though I guess.

Vice v6n9 Record Reviews

Ten Stones
Sounds Familyre

9 There is a scene in Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus where David Eugene Edwards sings ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ on his banjo in the middle of a deserted forest near where he lives. Alone. In a logwood cabin. It’s scarier than that time I watched Profondo Rosso on peyote.


Indian Jewelry
Free Gold
We Are Free

8 Where did these guys go? Everyone was loosing their poop over them a couple of years back then they go to ground without a whimper. Sounds like they’ve been holed up perfecting the art of blowing pop music through intricate webs of static that sound sweeter than Chiang Mai opium. Guess obscurity’s loss is our gain.

Avant Jams


4 Sheesh. I’ve heard so much Whamy Girl Talking Deacon stuff spew out of Baltimore now that if I hear another diminished bleep arpeggio stolen from some four year old kids Casio keyboard I might just go all Jack Torrance. What gives guys? Did Omar steel all your guitars or something?

Jam City

Selfish Cunt
English Chamber Music
Sparrows Tear

6 Remember this lot? The Rhythm Factory? Nudity and shit slinging outside Buckingham Palace? Is it coming back yet? No? Oh well. Martin is still all pissed off about pretty much everything and sounds a bit like a fox being raped but the tunes are taught blasts of post-punk that make the whole thing surprisingly enjoyable.

Pewter Perret

Trash Talk
Trash Talk

4 This tricks you into thinking it’s going to be one of those boring, slow, instrumental albums that stopped being fun after the first two minutes of the first Baroness record. It then decides to switch gear and lurches into sounding like something Deep 6 would have put out ten years ago. All of which is more than a little confusing.

Circle Jams

King Khan & The Shrines
The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines
Vice Records

9 We felt so bad that a 10 piece band effortlessly squidging together garage, soul and rockabilly while featuring Stevie Wonder’s live percussionist, a saxophonist called Big Fried Rollercoaster and a singer going by King Khan (who looks a little like Santana moonlighting in a Bollywood funk orchestra) that we decided to re-release the cream of their back catalogue in one handy morsel. Thanks us!

Bobby Steals

xOne Wayx/Youth Of Strength
Split LP
Boss Tuneage

9 When Youth Of Strength’s incredible ‘Shouting For A Better Tomorrow’ 7” ‘resurfaced’ last year the clamour for more material could hardly be heard above the smacking of bandana clad heads and fists raised in resolute unity. Here you get at least 30 more tracks with titles like ‘STD (Straight Till Death)’ and ‘KFC (Keep Fucking Clean) as well as whole side from fellow US tongue in cheek guys xOne Wayx. Unite the Boston edge…

Al Barrel

All The Way
The Social Registry

9 I wonder what would happen if Growing disappeared? Their music has become such a personal constant that it might be like no longer being able to see a colour. Not a really important colour. Something subtle. Like magenta. You probably don’t think you’d miss magenta but I bet if you couldn’t see it any more you’d feel mighty weird.

Petey Monkey

Smalltown Supersound

9 If most bands named their tracks things like ‘This Heat’, ‘Sonic Youth’ and ‘Pop Group’ you’d probably not be wrong in moving on swiftly. Luckily Nissenmondai are three hyper cute Japanese girls who are so ferociously good at playing rhythmic, no wave, repeat-y stuff you want to shrink them down and carry them around everywhere you go like a little pocket-size personal house band.


Kylie Minoise
Kylie Minoise Fucking Loves You
Kovorox Sound

5 Is this the best named band of the month or the worse? While I am tempted to go with the latter the jarring power electronics that are burnt onto the disc like screaming torture victims having their fingernails pulled off one by one are pretty hard to argue with.

White Mouse

Sic Alps

8 How did some tiny Philadelphia independent that used to put out Dead C and Harry Pussy records become like the Chess of lo fi? Sic Alps don’t stray too far from the play sheet but the woozy psychedelia and mini garage operas still sound gloriously swampy enough to keep these ears interested. Until the next one.

Mick The Spanish

Rolo Tomassi

8 This one seems like it’s been a long time coming. Then you remember that these guys probably still only have a collective age of about 17. Eva continues to sound like a disturbed, wailing banshee and the keys and guitars still go all over the place in time signatures that probably don’t exist once you hit puberty but you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Screamo George

David Vandervelde
Waiting For The Sunrise
Secretly Canadian

6 Another big beard wheels out his beardy buddies and whispers hushed paens to the breeze, rain, sun, road etc ad infinitum. The sincerity almost drowns you but the sheer warmth in this guys voice should tide you through the winter ahead like a nice sonic hot water bottle. Mmm, cosy.

Vinny Bones

Vice v6n9 Literary Reviews

Don’t Cry Tonight
Dana Lauren Goldstein
ML Project

Hmm, it’s always scary when someone the same age as you is doing stuff so good it makes you want to never sleep again until you’ve resolved some way to start even trying to get within touching distance of that good. We featured Dana’s work in our annual Photo Issue a couple of months back and if you liked those shots you are sure to like this tidy ‘zine. A collection of snapshots that capture and reflect the day to day that Dana surrounds herself with. The shots never seem forced or intrusive; they simply mirror. Blood spattered pavements, beautiful boys, beautiful-er girls and a black and white spread of the best collection of punk patches I’ve ever seen.

Modern Hate Vibe no. 2

Bryony Beynon used to play in a band called Back Stabbath. I saw them support Whitehouse once and they sounded a bit like Man Is The Bastard sondtracking a brutally bloody period. A girl called Maya used to be in that band too. I haven’t seen her for ages but she once gave me a really nice DIY Infest shirt out of the blue. It was a really nice gift and I treasure it to this day. Modern Hate Vibe is a bit like that: a shot out of the blue you’re really glad you got. Bryony sings in The Sceptres these days (you should really check them out) and she certainly seems no less angry than in the Back Stabbath days. Cut and paste bile and spit on various topical ills as well as an interview with possibly the best hardcore band in the country right now: Mob Rules. You should check them out too.

Chimps no. 10

Chimp is a ‘zine put out by Layla Gibbon. You might know Layla from her pretty ferocious columns in Maximum Rock & Roll. They are one of the things in there that I still really enjoy reading. Anyhoo, Chimp is a far more DIY affair than MRR. In fact it doesn’t even have any staples. It is however a very useful outlet for extended interviews cut and pasted onto grainy black and white live shots and cool fliers. This issue is particularly worth seeking out as it features interviews with Sex Vid (remember them from v6n3?), Sharon Cheslow (y’know from Chalk Circle) and Kendara Gaeta fro Big Brother back from when that was a hoot a page too.

Feral Debris no.3

Feral Debris is a thoughtfully put together black and white ‘zine that comes out of the Midlands fairly irregularly. Its irregularity can be forgiven a) because ‘zines aren’t meant to be regular (d’uh) and b) it’s always really really good. Like the Sound Projector without the constant wiff of roll neck sweater and elbow patches. I hadn’t even heard of Simply Saucer until I tucked into this and now I feel like a gigantic ignoramus who badly needs to start playing ‘keep up with stuff’ again. You also get a free CDR featuring a bunch of bands and guys making strange noises (probably on the floor of a pub behind lots of cables, wires and delay pedals in front of about three other people) that you are equally unlikely to have heard of, some Stuart Crutchfield poems and a Lambsbread interview. What more do you want for £3?

Safecrackers no. 6

Wondering around one rainy Sunday afternoon I bumped into my friends Stuart and Matthias ‘Wolfboy’ Connor. We’ve mentioned Wolfboy and his writings in here a bunch and Stuart often helps us out with shoots and stuff. A kinder, more well read pair of people you couldn’t hope to meet. They kind of make you feel bad for spending all day staring at computer screens and want to delete yourself from all social networking sites immediately. They informed me that they had been helping man a stall at a ‘zine fair round the corner so I popped down and picked up Wolfboy’s latest work on the excellent Safecrackers series. Past issues of Safecrackers have featured things like The Wire and Growing but this time around Matt edits a retrospective of shadowy Salford beat maverick The Black Lodge who briefly burned bright after the release of the ‘Horse With No Name’ 12” on ‘Mo Wax. If you know his real name you know lots about techno music. Go on Google it. See. Nothing.

Radio Silence (A Selected Visual History Of American Hardcore Music)
Nathan Nedorostek and Anthony Papalardo

There have been plenty of books about Hardcore but this one might be worth getting for two reasons. One: it mainly lets up on the incessant quotes that usually just consist of Rollins complaining in endless variants on the same whinges he’s had since ‘Get In The Van’ whilst leaving the sleeves, fliers and T Shirts to do the talking. Two: where most of the books on the topic trail off after 1984 like it all ended with ‘revolution summer’ when everyone wimped out and started singing about girls and feelings this one keeps going and powers on straight through to loads of good stuff like Lifesblood, Citizen’s Arrest and Chain Of Strength.