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.

Eric Wood Interview

Sometimes you are lucky enough to get to interview someone who you hold in such high regard that actually talking to them is terrifying. I spent four hours on the phone to Eric and he was everything a dedicated Skull Servant could hope for and more. Below is an unedited version of what ran in Vice v6n10.

Work To Death

Eric Wood will never quit being a Bastard

Its hard to imagine how a band making songs played at hyper driven speeds with two bass guitars and song titles like “Screwdriver in Urethra Of Thomas Lenz” all played through speakers made out of salvaged junk ever failed to be anything other than huge in the early 1990’s. What else was everyone listening to?

Eric Wood’s work in a bunch of bands from Pillsbury Hardcore and Pissed Happy Children through to Man is The Bastard and Bastard Noise helped define hardcore punk music’s most extreme shapeshift: the west coast-centric powerviolence movement. Wood even wrote the song that first mentioned the term (“Hispanic Small Man Power”).

Backed by the totally never-heard-that-anywhere-before weird noises spilling out of Henry Barnes’s home made speakers Bastard Noise projects always stood apart from their contemporaries. With a brutally simple, aesthetic and politicized sloganeering Wood’s projects maintained a tireless work ethic that allowed them to stride along for years while their contemporaries gurgled and quit. Like Crass before them, Eric’s bands offered a self-sustaining alternative to a modern world gone to shit. Maybe in 50 years time in an alternate dimension they will be granted their dues. For now they can remain the most important band you’ve never heard.

VICE: There is a constant sense of intense brutality in everything that you have done. Why so angry?
Eric Wood: Listening to things like metal-era Agnostic Front, Rest In Pieces and Antidote just made us want to play and really play fast and hard. Make the bass prominent and just hyperdrive the rhythm section. Listening to and watching Infest was an influence in terms of that high level of uncompromising brutality and sheer velocity. They really took it to another level.

How did you end up playing in Neanderthal with Matt Domino from Infest?
We had played shows together and just knew each other. You have to remember that at that time there was a very small group of people involved in that kind of music. The night Pissed Happy Children and Infest played Gillman Street to record the split flexi-disc for Slap A Ham there were nine people in the room.

Is it true that you guys actually coined the term ‘powerviolence’?
Matt did. We were practicing one day and just talking about how we had to give what we were doing an identity and Matt just came up with it on the spot. He was really good at that: really great, quick, perfect ideas.

At the time was there a sense of the whole thing being this big movement?
Maybe later with things like the first Fiesta Grande festival that Dodge put on at Gillman but it was always more a sense of community. That is something that there isn’t so much of anymore. I’m not joking when I say that half the stuff we made happen back then communicating by letters was ten times better organized than half of the shit that goes on today with ‘ease’ of the internet. Just do it yourself and do it right.

The most obvious thing that set Man is The Bastard apart from your supposed contemporaries was simply not sounding like any of them.
We have the boxes to thank there. Henry and his boxes. They are a force of nature. They aren’t even government safety checked. Apart from the cones every part of those things is built by hand and they will fry almost any in-house PA. They make sounds I’ve never heard before. Joel Connell and I already knew we wanted to push the two basses way out front and Aaron Kenyon was pumping a lot of Magma through the hardcore template but the boxes gave us a whole new range and we were just willing to take a chance and do something different.

How did you meet Henry?
I kind of already knew him from around town because he was known for being this weird guy who built bikes out of other bikes. That was his thing: making new things from neglected old things. These bikes were insane, like choppers with the big wheel at the front instead of the back. We ended up working shifts together in this bakery and one day he invited me round to his house saying I had to check out these speakers he had been making. His place was like a junk laboratory but once he played me the speakers I knew immediately: that was it.

What was the first thing you heard through the boxes?
I think Henry played me these noises he had been working on to try and communicate with the birds that sat on his window. I can honestly say he is one of the greatest souls and a true friend. The whole band wouldn’t have been shit without Henry, he gave it that distinct sound naturally ‘cos he built the boxes for the love of building the boxes. Henry’s main influence was his dad’s TV repair shop as opposed Merzbow.

How did you come up with the stark imagery that gave the Bastard Noise projects such a distinct identity?
I was aware from the get go how simple logos like the Flag bars, the Infest logo and the Crass circle could give things an immediate persona. You can put something that simple on your record or a t-shirt and you immediately have a visual thing to go with the sound. I just went into a library, found the skull in some medical journal, flipped it, made all the font super bold and brutal, kept it black and white and that was it. You can go into all these realms of complicated presentation and sometimes the message can get lost. Basic is brutal.

You’re discography is like the ultimate collectors nightmare. What inspired that work ethic and level of output?
I can point immediately to two acts: Merzbow and Agathocles. Both pump out a high level of high quality. Nonstop. That is they key: high level and high quality. Matt Domino was also inspiring for that. He could come up with a riff of staggering quality in seconds. I don’t know if he realizes just how gifted he is with that whole thought/genius thing. Plus I have this hunger inside that I can’t even explain, it’s like a voice that drives me. I started playing bass again recently ‘cos I was going to see shows and it was like this voice going “hey Wood, better get playing, there’s only so much time”. Just listening to records stirs the hunger. I was listening to Rorschach the other day, just hearing it made me want to bang my head on a wall it was so intense. You know the guitar player doesn’t even play now? He just sits at home and watches the tube. I can’t understand that mentality. That just makes me want to bang my head through the fucking wall.

Your projects have consistently been preoccupied with man being the vilest most fucked up animal on the planet.
Yes. Man IS The Bastard. Man’s folly and plunders will be our downfall, poor choice making by the worst animal on the earth. You just need to look around to see it is true. My father forced me into the US Navy at early an age and the twenty months I spent there allowed me to view things in a totally different light. In addition I have never been a massive reader but working night shifts in the bakery I would be listening to spoken word lectures on KPFK public radio in LA. That was what really got me going. I was hearing Terrence McKenna, Noam Chomsky and all these people filled with wisdom and I was just taking it all in and being repelled by the political system we are subjected to in the US. I was just staring into this big oven, loading the big steal trays with bread or whatever and getting angrier and angrier.

At the same time you have advocated feminism pretty fervently?
We all came from woman so it is necessary to love the female and have utmost respect for the feminine you know? We were all loaded with our own concepts all of which I was keen to get heard, initially a lot of them were mine but Kenyon and Connell really stepped up and kept bringing quality concepts and ideas to the table. A lot of people thought we were this crock of PC horseshit but that’s bullshit. We just had a conscience. How can you not?

You had a lot of similarly named projects running simultaneous. Were you just trying to confuse people?
To an extent they are all separate and distinct but at the same time they are sister and brother or sister and sister. Charred Remains was kind of thrown in there to keep people on their toes plus I was obsessed with wanted posters as a kid and they all had AKA on them for all their murdering, criminal aliases so I always wanted a record with an AKA on the sleeve. The main difference was that MiTB had all the instruments and Bastard Noise was just the boxes. When MiTB came to an end the focus shifted to Bastard Noise.

Could you talk a little about why MiTB cam to an end?
Let’s just say that aside from cannabis drugs can be very dark and destructive things. Whatever has been has been though and those people are my brothers. In fact I have some exciting news I can exclusively share here.

Great! What’s the scoop?
Bastard Noise will now for the first time be incorporating live instrumentation. I just had that hunger again to play and R.D Davies who played drums on Infest’s “No Man’s Slave” LP has stepped up to play drums and Leila Rauf who plays guitars and synths with me in Ion Channel will also be contributing.

So MiTB has been born again through the Bastard Noise?
Yes, exactly!

Vice September 2008 Reviews

As with everything in Vice v6n10 the record reviews section took the form of an interview. Here they are.

Jeremy Warmsley
How We Became

VICE: Who are "we" paleface? And what is it exactly you think that you’ve "become"?
Jeremy Warmsley: The album is vaguely about growing up and the title was inspired by a children's book by Ted Hughes called "How The Whale Became". It’s all these jolly little fairy-tail-metaphor creation myths for loads of animals. So it made sense to thieve the title.

You attended a posh boys school in Wimbledon that has spat out people like Patrick Wolf and Marcus Mumford. What is it about comfy SW19 that turns out such plaintive soul searching?
Tom Vek was at Kings too. Erm, I don't have a good answer. Maybe it was all those hymns they made us sing?


Acid Mothers Temple & The Cosmic Inferno
Pink Lady Lemonade, You’re From Outer Space
Riot Season

VICE: Your sleeves are always make me feel like I have done a shedload of DMT. Makoto Kawabata (guitars): How do you go about whacking those together?
It varies case by case but usually I come up with the idea for the artwork. For this record our friend Pikachu did the sleeve but there is only ever one important thing: it is striking!

I think I am going bald. You guys all have really long hair. What you do if you started going bald? Long around the sides? Combover?
I have no idea about anything in future let alone hair. Nobody knows if they will be alive even in just the next moment so I don't think about future or the past, only the present.

Where can I get a hold of one of those Hawiian shirts you guys are all wearing on the back of the album?
That photo was taken at a hot spring in Okayama on our last tour of Western Japan in 2007. We were loving that kind of stupid fake atmosphere. I do not know where they came from though.

Religious Kinives
The Door
Ecstatic Peace

VICE: There are loads more of you in the band now. What happened. Were you getting lonely?
Chris (guitars & vocals): It’s hard to have a rock band without a bass player so we went and got one of those. One group I can think of did it just fine, and they're the one we get most compared to now.

Who’s that?

I give up. What would constitute a knife making the jump to being religious as opposed to just a plain old knife?
I suppose Abraham's knife would have been rather religious. The name isn't as imaginative as your question, I am afraid. It's just something I saw on the list of items the FAA doesn't want Americans to bring onto airplanes.

Vivian Girls
Vivian Girls
In The Red

Vice: What’s with the Drager reference in your band name. Hasn’t that ben done to death? Fucked up did a Vivain Girls song on their last LP like a year ago. Get with the program.
Cassie Ramone (guitars & vocals): Frankie, our ex-drummer thought of it. Katy and I had never even heard of Henry Darger until then. It was the only name we came up with that didn’t sound dumb.

Would you have still called gone for same name if you had been three boys?
Kickball Katy (bass & vocals): But then we would be boys. Gross.

Through all the fuzz you guys have some real girl group harmonies going on. Which girl groups float your boats?
Cassie: My favorite girl group is the Shangri-Las. I know everyone says that but I listen to them all the time. So yeah. Them
Katy: My favorite is The Shirelles beacuse New Jersey rules.

Acid Or Blood

Vice: What the hell is a 'Racebannon'? It sounds like a bucking bronco or a muscle car or something.
James Baumen (guitars): Ohh, I like that. I wish it was a muscle car. Chrome and black with red pinstripes and a screaming small block engine. Yeah, that might be more fun. We're from Indiana and we like fast cars there. Actually, it's a raging force of fire and blood determined to deliver the rock to any soul willing to accept it. It was born 12 years ago and refuses to be brought down.

What is with all the fear, sexual diseases and terrifying song titles? They all have names like “Candida & Parasites”. I wouldn’t want to take “Candida & Parasites” home to my mum.
We are disturbed individuals and I guess we don't mind letting people know that. I’ve always wanted the band to be like when you’re watching a scary movie and you have to cover your eyes during a really disgusting bit but you can't help but peek through yourr hand so you don't actually miss anything.

Death Sentence: Panda!
Insects Awaken
Upset The Rhythm

You guys use a clarinet in a rock band. What are you? Coconuts?
Chris (drums): The clarinet is a symbol of juxtaposition. On one hand, it is small, light weight
and seemingly poses no major threat. But, when book-ended by the human spirit and a chain of vicious analog and digital agents: triumph!

Why would you ever want to give a Panda a death sentence?
The context of the name is not to imply the delivery of a death sentence to
a panda. That's ridiculous, who would ever do that and why? The panda IS, in fact, the death sentence. As in: "when that panda gets it's hands on you, you're going to die". Street justice.

Christina Carter
Original Darkness

Your lyrics are pretty off the wall. What the hell are you going on about on this record?
I was thinking a lot about spies, double agents, government agents, corporate executives, assassins, mafia men, and the women who love and support them as well as moral double standards and a girl from my grade school and politicians. I put myself through all of these people or all of these people through myself.

Have you ever been mugged? I got mugged yesterday. It sucked.
I was once in Galveston, Texas with Tom Carter, Shawn McMillen and Heather Murray. We were walking late at night back from the beach to their new apartment past a big, dark old Victorian house and we heard this weird noise. We lingered for a moment trying to figure out what it was when two guys jumped from out of nowhere with ski masks on and some kind of weapon glinting in the moonlight. One of them said "what's up bitch?" and started lunging at us. We ran and started screaming thinking all the time they would grab one of us as we ran frantically losing shoes and getting feet cut down the street. When we finally made it in to safety we immediately got in the car and drove to Houston. That certainly crosses my mind often when walking around late at night.


VICE: This whole record is only 13 minutes long. Come on, you did that on purpose right?
Shaun Hencher (vocals): Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. It is very real. The majority of appartement blocks in Manhattan are built without a 13th floor. In Sikhism the number 13 is considered a special number as “Tera” in Punjabi means “yours” as in “I am ours, O Lord”.

Right…is it true that your guitar player is proficient in yogic flying?
Yes. Yogic flying was practiced in a golden dome in the centre of the council estate Henry grew up in but in order to lear how to fly you had to take a course at a stately home in Kent with a bunch of Indian Siddahs.

El Guincho
Young Turks

Vice: You make all of your music and play every night on your own. Don’t you ever get lonely?
Pablo Diaz-Reixa: Yes. It is horrible. It makes me sad. I have a friend who will be playing the bass guitar but on a computer on stage with me now though so it will all be ok soon I think.

Your record sounds like it’s the soundtrack to a carnival in a rainforest on Jupiter. It’s pretty intense. Do you ever intend to make a less excited record? I dunno, like a CafĂ© Del Mar chillout thing or something.
Maybe yes, I like all that Baleric sounding stuff so it might be fun. Just for home though. It would be too boring live.

What’s an El Guincho when it’s at home?
It is a rare an endangered bird that you find on the Canary Islands. They can be quite vicious. There aren’t many left but the ones that are still around can peck out your eyes. They are tough birds.

The End Blog Piece

The End is closing in January 2009. This represents a sad day for me on a personal level because it is a club that has fostered many stages of my musical growth and experience. From early days at Ram, Renegade Hardware and Swerve nights to latter period fun at Trash and Rinse parties via dalliances with nights like Bugged Out and Durr, The End has always been there.

It will be a sad loss for London's nightlife when those big old doors on Central St finally close for the last time.

Anyway, I got asked to write about some bands with my Vice hat on so here it is.

I am a little choked right now.

Goodbye The End.

The End Blog Piece

OK here’s the thing. Vice is not a music magazine. Music magazines are, on the whole, blinkered, self righteous forums for balding old guys to weep bitter words of underachievement or hollow platitudes to nothingness. They also suffer from being rigid single purpose outlets blind to the wider significance of music’s little place in the big scheme of everything the fuck else. The magazines we like are things like the Private Eye, MRR, Big Brother, The New Yorker, The Economist, The National Geographic and Colours. Magazines that are versatile, swift to adapt, astute and cover a broad range of topics well. Usually with a sense of humour. That always helps.

Now don’t get us wrong, we really like music. Lots. Some of us even still by real records instead of stealing them off of the internet and have the bands that we like tatooed on our bodies forever. You know, that kind of stuff.

We are wary about the majority music for the same reason that we are wary about the majority of everything: 99% of it sucks. Really bad. Not your average sucking either. Titanically, apocalypticly, soul rapingly massively sucking.

Seriously, if we made you sit and listen to the metric tone of recorded stuff and read the acres of press releases so bad they make you want to ram your head straight through your screen that we get sent on any given day you’d probably come to a pretty similar conclusion. I promise.

To this end we approach music coverage in the same way that we approach all aspects of the magazine. We don’t cover anything for the sake of covering it or because it is promoting a certain thing at the right time or because someone from some press agency took us to Bungalow 8 for the evening. The things that we choose to cover stand and fall on their own merit. So when we do come to feature a band or musician (we usually only do four a month max, please stop hassling us) the things that make the cut will generally be things that we know we will be able to look back on in a years time with a warm glow of fuzzy fondness. Because they didn’t turn out to be a piece of shit. Because they were actually great.

Anyway, here are five bands that we currently think are actually great. In fact some of them are so great that we decided to put their records out ourselves.

The Black Lips

The Black Lips are four kids from Atlanta, Georgia. They play garage punk brimming with so many hooks you can’t fail to fall in love with them instantly. It’s like they swallowed the entire Nuggets box set, watched The Decline Of Western Civilzation and decided to form the best band we’ve heard in yonks. They are also a gang of total babes who love to party for days on end and somehow manage to play all the better for it. Albeit often naked, bloody and drenched in their own puke. We love them so much that we put out their record and let them stay at our houses and lend them fivers and stuff whenever they are over. Ian, Jared, Cole, Joe: we love you.

King Khan & The Shrines

King Khan came to our attention via The Black Lips. Like the Lips kids Khan and his Shrines are from Georgia and ply a mean line in note perfect psyche-garage. There must be some magic garage greatness juice in that Atlanta water ‘cos the first time we heard these guys we knew we had to have ‘em for ourselves. Live they look and sound like they should be the house band for that scene in Easy Rider where they take all the acid at Mardi Gras and it all goes a little left of the dial. In other words: pretty amazing. They also all have great stage names like Gogo Queen Of The Underworld, Johnny Boy Adonis and Big Fred Roller. They will be over in the UK for the first time soon. Don’t sleep.


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 whole thing has lacked an act that can convey the live element that helped define italo’s absurdity (seriously just YouTube ‘Another Life’ by Kano). Heartbreak are that missing piece in the sexy, synthy jigsaw. An Argentian and a Londoner who think they are in a stadium metal band playing stuff that sounds like magical coke dust wafting out of some forgotten Rimini hideaway club in 1985. We can’t recommend them enough.

Sian Alice Group

Sian Alice Group are a cute gang of friends from all over Britain who naturally gravitated to London because it’s a safe haven for weirdos. Mentored by Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and including Jesus and Mary Chain founding member Douglas Hart on bass, SAG sound like the spooky laughter of a thousand big fluffy rain clouds made of angel tears. Yup, that is EXACTLY what they sound like. They’re about to tour America for the first time to promote their new album, 59:59, so we thought we would introduce you to them, one by one, because they’re our new favorite British band. Get to know ’em!

Mike Bones

Mike Bones is the favorite guitarist of every musician that you like in New York. He’s the New York music-geek world’s secret weapon, having played in the (and we don’t say this lightly) downtown supergroup Soldiers of Fortune. Everybody who saw them during their extraordinary run of shows last year was knocked flat on their asses. They sounded like Crazy Horse. Seriously, it was like seeing Crazy Horse in a tiny little room, playing at full tilt. Mike and Pat from the band Oakley Hall were the two guitarists, and they traded lines and solos back and forth in a manner that made you unashamed to say things like “Nice licks!” If you can find a bootleg of their album, Shred It Be, you are a lucky little music enthusiast. Mike has been doing stuff like Soldiers for a while now though—he’ll just pop out with a group of musicians, or back up someone like Cass McCombs live, chop everyone’s head off, and go home.