Bonfire Of The Inanities

This New Years Eve, I’m going to build a big arse bonfire and throw the free copies of dreadful records I’ve been bunged this year in my brief flirtation with being a ‘real’ musician. Top of the fire will be anything by:

Jimmy Bastard Ray
Manic Street Preachers (after meeting wotsisname, the singer)
The EMI Come Again album (which I’m on, so no favouritism there)
Three Colours Red

The soundtrack to this needless destruction will be provided by:
Tha Alkaholiks
The Steinbecks
Trans Am
Tony D.
Camp Lo
Magnetic Fields
Jungle Brothers
Trembling Blue Stars
Spearmint (where’s that album?)

I’m not posting this to engage in fisticuffs with fans of the soon-to-be-charcoal bands but just as a personal list. If you strongly disagree/agree with my choices, what would your bonfire toast?
love and kisses,

Spearmint – Sweeping The Nation

Just thought I’d follow up my earlier post now that I’ve managed to track down a copy of the CD single. The 1st track is just as brill as I remember it from Wunnerful R1. The second track (Best Friends) is more straight-ahead punky, with a gated start that’s a teeny bit like the noisy bit out of U2’s ‘Numb’ with a synthy twiddle that’s a bit
Servotron / Devo. It also reminds me a bit of some of the Beekeepers stuff.

‘Slips Away’ is another pop thrum. The chords sort of remind me of Flipper’s Guitar via ‘High Land, Hard Rain.’ The last track, ‘Do You Remember Me’, is a short, sweet jazzy thing. You’d probably like this one if (like me) you like(d) the Sugargliders or Blueboy. In fact, the singer bloke’s voice sounds spookily like Josh Sugarglider at the
start. Is he an Aussie?

I know that Rhodri may wince at my comparisons but what I’m trying to say (albeit flumpily) is that this is an ace single. I’ve listened to ‘Sweeping The Nation’ continuously now over 30 times and I’m still not bored. It’s those backing vocals, that guitar smash. Oooh… And judging by the rest of the *songs* (as opposed to fillers), I’m gonna love the album. Buy it. Definitely the best fiver I’ve spent recently.
love and kisses,

White Town and Indie vs. Major

I just thought I should tell ukma that as of last Wednesday, me and EMI have parted company. It was relatively amicable, since my nascent distrust of majors has turned into pustulent hatred and (from their side) they don’t like my new songs anyway. 🙂

I’m not even sure if I want to sign to an indie label either. I might just restart Satya (my own label). Dream labels for me would be Shinkansen, Mute, Setanta, Fierce Panda but as for whether any of them would have me…? In the US, I think I’ll be doing stuff with Parasol and maybe a compilation track for Le Grand Magistery.

It’s certainly been a bizarre year. A song which I wrote without a single commercial consideration became a gold single in Britain.

The album went gold in Canada and has now sold 245,000 copies in the US. And this is all from a song that *every* major label in Britain turned down last October when Mark & Lard were already playing it on Radio One.

This song is also a minute too long for radio (according to major label A&R rules), not well-produced (according to Warners) and “too clever” for “average pop buyers.”

There are two reasons I’m posting this on ukma. Firstly, that some ukma regulars went through the whole process with me (in a netty kinda way), and secondly that I think it gives an interesting perspective on the prospects for alternative music in the UK.

I’ve decided, on the basis of the last 10 months, that I’ll never sign to a major label again. That’s after 15 years of scraping away, trying to get my music released by *any* record company.

I don’t think that the majors are evil, just vastly stupid – even when you have good people in them like Neil Ferris, who is the sharpest, most honest and scarily efficient UK MD. What can you do within an economic framework which rewards conformity, blandness and risk-avoidance?

That’s why the majors use indies as nurseries; let someone else take the initial risk and then cream off the profits when you’ve found a proven seller. And I’m leaving the whole “real indie label vs. front for a major corp” argument to one side for now…

There was a Melody Maker letters page editorial a week or so ago which basically was saying the opposite of what I’ve just said. Their point was that pop music is about being popular and how can you do that when only three people are buying your records and they’re in your band. Let’s forget about this indie bollocks and sell our songs to the first wheezing multinational with a blank cheque.

To a certain extent, I crossed my fingers and did that. I’ll try anything once and two or three times if it’s really fun. It’s made me a load of money and let me reach a huge audience, both of which I did on exactly my own terms. But as soon as they start trying to fuck with your music, every band has a choice to make. Do you swallow your pride, grab the cheque and bend over or do you do what you believe is right, at any cost.

Today is the first day since January that I’ve seriously worried about paying my mortgage. But it’s also the first day since February that I’ve been completely happy about White Town.
love and kisses,

East Midlands Alternative Night: The Return Of Different Drum

Some of you may remember me and Paul from Stairwell doing Different Drum last year till we got shut down. Well, it’s amazing the kind of leverage a No.1 single can get you so now we’re back 🙂

We had our first night this Wednesday and it went dead well. There was a very good crowd in and they even danced to the Ventures.

Some of the new stuff we played: J. Fire*Eater, Trans Am, Toenut, Soul Assassins, Cable, David Devant, Ligament, Half Man Half Biscuit, BT, Tribe Called Quest, Velocette, Camp Lo.

Some of the old stuff we played: Herb Alpert, Nation Of Ulysses, Alkaholiks, Pavement, Masta Ace, Felt, Daniel Johnston, Fugazi, Steely Dan.

I think we might be hooking up with the Sunshine Thuggery massive for a co-pro night sometime, having bumped into Mark D. in Way Ahead.

Also, this year we’ll be putting on gigs. So far we’ve got J. Fire*Eater lined up, David Devant, Labradford and a couple of others. Tentatively arranged are the BMX Bandits and *very* special guests ;-), the Pastels and either Dub Narcotic or Luna.

I chatted with Simon Williams about the possibility of a Fierce Panda night so that may be happening as well. We want each gig to be a special, one-off event that you can’t see anywhere else.

So if you’re in the area on a Wednesday night between 10 and 2, pop along. Admish is 1ukp for students 1.50ukp everyone else. The Loft club is at 110 Friar Gate in the city centre and the number is 01332 381169.

love and kisses,

Shoeshine Records??

Are there any other Shoeshine fans out there? I got sent some 7″s by Francis and they’re bloody good. The Astro Chimp single is dead poppy and the Speedboat single is also quite fabby (which was produced by Norman Blake). Alex Chilton rocks on the live recording done in Glasgow. I’m gonna try to contact Francis and see if I’ve missed any other releases. BTW, the Radio Sweethearts 7″ is just as good as their album. Beautiful, plaintive country on one one side and a bit more of a stompalong on the flip.

Sorry if this a bit rambling and incoherent but it’s 3.40am and I’m bloody knackered…
love and kisses,

‘Your Woman’ Video

The video was directed by Mark Adcock who works for Partisan. He’s just recently done the vid for the new Red Kross single.

I chatted with Mark and we really got on. We’re both into the same kind of stuff (Stellarc, Linda Williams, Annie Sprinkle) so we were just ranting at each other. The only things I can lay claim to is that I wanted the vid to represent the myth of femininity in competition with the reality (hence the race).

I hate performance vids and said form the start that I din’t want to be in it. But since that would look as if I was afraid of being seen, we compromised at the telly shots (which he filmed on Hi-8 in my bedroom/studio). The signposts, Buster Keaton feel, casting of actors – that was all Mark. Oh – and I definitely wanted it done in Derby as well since it was about here.

I think he did brilliantly and we should start work on the next single in a couple of weeks time. I’m looking forward to it – the guy really is one of the coolest people I’ve met so far.
love and kisses,

Divine Comedy – A Short Album About Love

Thanks to my new-found corporate-puppet status, I’ve blagged a copy of the album from Feargal at Setanta. I’m a bit puzzled as to the format (it says three CD singles, with different live tracks released on 10/3/97) but there’s no denying that it sounds wonderful.

All the tracks were recorded live at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in October of last year. There’s the same lushness as Casanova but there’s also an emotional progression. Whereas a lot of Casanova was quite coy and playful, these songs (sorry, don’t know the titles) sound a bit more honest and vulnerable.

The second track on the CD reminds me of ‘Spread A Little Happiness’ and I’m *sure* I’ve heard this on the radio. Is it the current single?

I’m really quite envious of Neil Hannon’s vocal control and range. Bastard…
love and kisses,