FORTUNA POP! GUEST DJ ON SAT 12TH MAY

On Saturday 12th May we’ve got Fortuna POP’s! label boss Sean Price guest DJing for us at The Albany!

That’s the record label that’s brought you The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Allo Darlin’, Herman Dune, Darren Hayman, Crystal Stilts, Shrag and Tender Trap. It’s also his birthday so come down and help us celebrate. You can listen to Sean’s previous DJ set at the club for free on Spotify to get you in the mood to go out dancing!

Doors open at 9pm and you’ll find the venue opposite Great Portland Street underground station or a short walk from Oxford Street.

For discounted entry see the membership section of the site and you can post your song requests on the Facebook event.

GIDEON COE GUEST DJS ON SAT 28TH APRIL

We’re delighted to welcome back BBC 6 Music’s Gideon Coe to the club on Saturday 28th April!

Gideon DJed for us last year and played a great set which you can stream for free on Spotify. You can listen to a whole host of previous guest DJs sets there too.

It’ll be a welcome return to King’s Cross Social Club as we haven’t had a night there since January and we’re itching to get back behind the decks.

If you’d like to send in your requests, please post them on the Facebook event and Gideon will play a selection of them!

THE UNDERSTUDIES GUEST DJ ON SAT 14TH APRIL

We have The Understudies guest DJing for us at The Albany on Saturday 14th April!

Brian Bryden and Bree Wright from the band will be making their DJing debuts at the club. They’ve been regulars at the club since day one so I’m very pleased to have them finally spin some records.

We were blown away when they played at our sold out Darren Hayman gigs last year and it’ll be a DJ set you won’t want to miss. They’ll be DJing from 10:30pm so come early to ensure entry to the club.

We’ll be projecting Trois couleurs: Rouge completing Krzysztof Kieślowski’s classic trilogy and we’d love to hear your requests which you can post on the Facebook event.

SCARED TO DANCE PODCAST #7

BBC 6 Music’s Gideon Coe has compiled this month’s podcast for us!

Gideon will be guest DJing for us on Saturday 28th April at King’s Cross Social Club after his triumphant set at the club last year.

You can stream the podcast for free on Mixcloud. It’s an extended mix featuring bands as diverse as The Go-Betweens, Felt, Simon & Garfunkel and The Bodines to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Orange Juice, Half Man Half Biscuit and The Clash.

DJing at Evans the Death Album Launch Tonight

I’ll be DJing at the Evans the Death album launch tonight! I had the pleasure of putting the band on last year so I’m delighted to have been asked to spin some records.

Tickets are a snip at just £2 on the door or you can get in for free on the gueslist by posting on the event wall.

If you can’t make it to the gig you can snap up their debut album from our friends at Fortuna Pop!

MILKY WIMPSHAKE INTERVIEW

Hello Pete, can you tell us a little about how the band started?

By accident! I was in a band called Razorblade Smile which played Cardiff and the girl who played drums in the other band, Terrorist Trash Stars, asked for a lift up to Newcastle. We stayed up all night and then hung around all day and it turned out she had changed her name by deed poll to Joey Ramone, which blew my mind. (All this is 100% true, I promise). So that night, Linus were playing and a support band dropped out so me and Joey improvised a set, under the name Cake Polish. We’d only met the night before and had never played music together before stepping on stage, but it came out pretty good, so we decided to continue but under the (slightly) less ridiculous name Milky Wimpshake.

Where did the bands unusual name come from? I read that you like wimpy band names like Talulah Gosh and The Sea Urchins.

By accident, again, actually. My friend Matthew suggested getting a Milky Wimpshake when he meant to say Wimpy Milkshake. I decided to use it for the band name, not realising that 18 years later I’d still be performing under the same name…

You recently played a Which Way Is Up! show in London where you played three new songs (“On Top”, “Chemical Spray” and “Worthless Person”). Can you tell us more about each song and will you be playing them at Indietracks?

We’ll be playing all three. “On Top” is one I wrote after strumming my way through an old Razorcuts song: I took some of the chords, re-arranged them and wrote a lyric in 5 minutes, which is how I usually write songs. “Chemical Spray” is kind of a “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine…” type of a number, goes down well at gigs. “Worthless Person” was written under the influence of a certain Billy Childish, and it shows, and chronicles the experience of looking up “punk” in the dictionary.

I understand another new track “You Are the Bomb” will be ready in time for the festival?

I hope so! It’s a dance floor kind of a thing, good drums on it.

Can the band be persuaded into playing your cover of Electro Hippies “Don’t Kill Sheep”?

Don’t know yet, I haven’t asked them: it’s a pro-vegetarian song, we did live years and years ago a couple of times, but I’m the only vegetarian in the band so it depends on how the others feel about doing it, really.

With those new songs in mind, will you be putting out any new music soon?

Hope so; I’m in discussion with Sean at Fortuna Pop! on this particular issue.


You also play in another band called Chronicity. How did that come about?

I formed the band in 2005 with my friends Jeff and Sophie. The original idea was to sound like Jackdaw with Crowbar, bIG fLAME, stuff like that. Then another friend Cath joined and we took a different route, more folky. Sophie and Jeff left, W. C. Schrimshaw joined on drums and Phil was shipped on for extra guitar. We still sometimes play with this line-up, maybe I’ll have a different line-up at some point though, it’s just a hobby really.

Whatever happened to Red Monkey?

It became pretty much impossible to continue after the other two members got married and had two kids, because we just couldn’t manage to practice let alone play gigs. It was a good band and, you never know, we might do some music together again one day, maybe; I wouldn’t bank on it, but I wouldn’t absolutely rule it out either.

Out of all the records you have released over the years, is there one you are especially proud of?

Ooh, that’s hard. Probably Bus Route to Your Heart by Milky Wimpshake, because it was thrown together in just two days but people still seem to love it 15 years later. Also Gunpowder, Treason and Plot by Red Monkey, which was our third album, especially the first song “The Jazz Step Forwards” which is a really distinctive bit of music and a genuine group effort which I’ll admit I’m extremely proud of.

You’ve just put out a video for “Cherry Pop” and you’ve said “Milky Wimpshake join the MTV generation! Fuckin’ sellouts!” Who suggested making the video?

Sean of Fortuna Pop! suggested it so I thought “fuck it, I’ll try to do one on the Dale family camcorder”. I’m from that generation where some of your favourite bands, eg. The Smiths, didn’t do videos on principle – until they did! Hence the MTV comment. But I also remember, in the 1980s, that you’d be lucky to even see a photo of the bands you were listening to on John Peel, let alone a video, so I thought “well, people out there probably might be wondering what the Wimps look like” So now you have it, take it or leave it, I really couldn’t give a fuck! Although I’ll admit that it makes me laugh.

You’ll be playing the Nottingham indiepop all-dayer in October. With such a great line-up of Help Stamp Out Loneliness, The Blanche Hudson Weekend and Standard Fare amongst others, who are you looking forward to seeing?

Ste McCabe is really good, and I’m a big fan of Pale Man Made from Newcastle, but I’m sure it’ll be cool stuff all day, I like indiepop! I mean, y’know, I like Mortal Terror and Archie Shepp too, and Galdys Night and the Pips, but I sure do like your indiepop! Yessir!

MATH AND PHYSICS CLUB INTERVIEW

The band started as a basement project between you and James. Did you ever think you would release so much music in a relatively short space of time (three EPs and two LPs in six years)?

We basically just wanted to put out a 7” record. That was our goal. Keep in mind we started playing together pre-internet and we didn’t know anyone with a 4-track, so recording your own music was still pretty mysterious then. We’ve always put more emphasis on recording than on playing live, but still, I never thought we’d end up releasing as much as we have.

Growing up in Olympia, Washington, how important were K Records and Kill Rock Stars in shaping your sound?

Aside from Beat Happening, I think we were more influenced by the ethic of those labels than the sound, at least early on. We were more into on bands on Popllama like The Young Fresh Fellows, Fastbacks, and Posies. It wasn’t until later that I went back and discovered The Softies and Heavenly and realised I’d wasted too much time listening to Oasis in the 90’s.

How vital were KEXP and WOXY radio stations in getting the band better known when you first started?

It was huge. We couldn’t believe they were playing our little homespun recordings. We sent KEXP our demo just hoping to get a spin on their local show on Saturday night, and then John Richards played “Sixteen and Pretty” on his weekday morning show and we were like, “Holy shit!” We started getting emails from listeners all over the world, and we never really had to work hard to get noticed by local bookers for good shows. It was instant credibility.

How is the indiepop scene in Seattle at the moment?

We’ve always had good turnouts at pop shows, so I’d say there’s a modest but loyal scene. There’s a good community of local blogs that support indiepop, but as far as I know there aren’t currently any club nights happening. Tullycraft has been on hiatus so that leaves a bit of a hole in the scene, but there has been a lot of buzz about Seapony this year so hopefully that will help energize the pop kids.

Is “Jimmy Had a Polaroid” about Jimmy Tassos at Matinée Recordings? Tell us more about the song as we love playing it at the club.

Oh, thanks! It’s not about Jimmy, but truth be told, I did like that connection when I came up with that line in the song, so it’s not completely random. And Jimmy loves photography so it’s even more fitting. Hmmm… maybe the song IS about him?

Have you started writing new material for another EP or album?

Quite honestly, I expected I Shouldn’t Look As Good As I Do to be our last record, but in rehearsing for the UK tour I’ve started to get inspired again and I’ve written about a  half dozen new songs that I’ve floated out to the band. We don’t have any timeline, but I suspect we’ll at least release another EP.

You don’t often get to play live due to so many family commitments. Does that frustrate you or does it make it more special when you do play together?

It’s definitely frustrating not to play more when we work so well together as a group, but I’ve come to terms with it. We’re not 25 anymore, you know? Now there are careers and families to consider, and none of us live in the same city anymore, so that makes it difficult. Writing is easier than playing live because we can trade files over the internet, but trying to coordinate schedules for practicing is excruciating. We really enjoy it when we do get to play together though, which I suppose is what keeps us going.

How was your recent show with The Smittens, The Special Places and Monnone Alone? Do you feel you share the same ideals as bands such as The Smittens and The Lucksmiths?

Great! The Smittens were fantastic and really nice people, and we always love playing with Cori and Jenny. Mark was a late addition to the line-up and really turned it into a lovefest. I wish we could have taken that little tour all over the country. I definitely feel a kinship with other indiepop bands. Its fun to play with other bands that appreciate where you’re coming from and it’s such a tight knit community that you often know a lot of the same people.

You’ve got a few warm up shows before Indietracks in Glasgow, Manchester, London and Nottingham. Tell us more about those.

Yes, we’re very excited for those shows as well. I was able to convince Laz to play a Bubblegum Lemonade set with us in Glasgow, which will be their first show ever, and The Hermit Crabs are playing that show as well so that’s going to be ace. We’ve joined up with Very Truly Yours from Chicago for all the warm-up gigs so it will be great to get to know them a bit. Other shows include Pocketbooks, The Sweet Nothings, and Moustache of Insanity. Seriously, how lucky are we?

Finally, do you embrace Pitchfork’s description of your music as “music to hold hands to” or do you find that unbearable twee?

It’s fine, I understand why it’s easy to label us that way, but I’d like to think the songs are a bit deeper than that. Many of the lyrics actually deal with love from a perspective of insecurity, loneliness, and even bitterness, so I’ve never thought of them as being particularly romantic or sugary. But people are free to call it whatever they want. I just call it pop!

CRYSTAL STILTS INTERVIEW

What records did you grow up listening to? In your music I can hear a lot of post-punk and no wave bands – The Fall and Suicide spring to mind.

JB: The Fall is surely a big influence on all of us. I’m still finding more and more Fall songs that I like. When I first met Brad in 2000 he gave me the first two Suicide CDs. I like the more melodic songs. Abcko-era Stones, The Outsiders, I could list all day.

Andy: We surely listen to post-punk, etc, though perhaps not as much as in years prior, but some of it comes from probably listening to the same records they were hearing as well. Psych and folk and experimental and pop and all that mixed up.

Did you set yourselves any targets when recording In Love With Oblivion? To those who may have not got the record yet, how does it differ from your debut Alight of Night?

 JB: I think I set a sonic bar for it whilst mixing. I knew how I didn’t want it to sound. It differs a bit in that there’s a bit less drone chords on this one. Songs are a little more concentrated.

Andy: In some ways it must reflect, or reveal, that it was more of a “full band” record. What those revelations are, are to be discovered.

“Love is a Wave” didn’t appear on In Love With Oblivion. Will it ever see the light of day on another release? A compilation perhaps?

 JB: “Love is a Wave” is actually sort of the last song that was from the Alight of Night-era but we kept it as a stand alone single. I think we’ll probably have an oddity record somewhere down the line.

Andy: There is something nice about a song like that as a stand alone entity. The to-the point-ness of the ‘45. 

Your song “Silver Sun” recently appeared on the Fortuna Pop! compilation Weekend Dreams which was given away with the Scared To Dance Spring fanzine. Tell us more about that track.

JB: Hmmm. I sometimes take critical stances with songs so after they’re done I’ll strip and critique so I sort of try to look at it from an observers perspective – sort of a psychoanalysis of where the song came from and what it sounds most like. I’m most pleased when a song sounds different from the root influence. I think that song sounds denser then I thought it would. Almost like a Joe Meek meets Love meets The Pastels.

How is your current tour of the UK going? Where are you heading to afterwards on tour?

JB: It’s going well. I think we’re headed directly to Disneyland after.

Andy: Brief but enjoyable. Always nice to catch up with friends who reside overseas. 

The video for “Shake the Shackles” was premiered on Pitchfork a little while ago. What were the ideas behind it? As a band, did you have much input in to it?

JB: We did have quite a bit of direction on that one. We wanted black and white, city shots, helicopters etc.

Andy: A certain someone complained that there weren’t shots of us walking on the beach in it. A little digging can easily find those images. Not even digging really. 

You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years with Brad and JB the only constant sole members. How did the changes come about?

Andy: Changes and additions came about organically and continue to cultivate in this Petri dish that is Crystal Stilts. Also, wanting people to play instruments live which has led to some form of permanence and evolved the writing, recording processes.

What attracted you to play Indietracks? Will you be able to catch many of the other bands?

Andy: We have always heard wonderful things from past attendees, bands who have played, and all other travellers. Positive vouching and vibrations have led us there. Hopefully we will be able to see as much as possible, wander the grounds, and generally get the full experience. 

What plans do you have for the remainder of 2011?

Andy: We have an EP that will be out in the fall and hopefully will be able to jam, write, and practice the alchemy that is our modus operandi.

SUBURBAN KIDS WITH BIBLICAL NAMES INTERVIEW

Hi Johan, how excited are you about playing Indietracks this year? What do you know about the festival?

Yes it’s going to be great fun. Peter’s been playing there with his and Linas other band Springfactory last year. Well I know it’s a big festival for music lovers who are in to indiepop and various smaller genres. I haven’t had the time to look up on all of the other bands playing; hopefully I will be surprised and discover different new bands.

You haven’t put anything out for a couple of years now but I read recently that you have new songs you are working on. Will you be releasing new material soon? 

I really hope so. It’s a long process. We released an EP (#4) back in 2009 and we also released a new song on a small label (Sound of Young Lötkärr Vol 2) last year. We’ve been working on different songs for quite some time now and some of them are pretty much finished. Now its summer and we will probably start to work on the songs when we’ve had our vacation and so.

Tell us more about the songs. What are the ideas behind the music and lyrics?

The ideas behind the music and lyrics are pretty much the same. Depressive and funny at the same time. This time some lyrics lean towards more serious things too.

Labrador have an amazing roster at the moment with Acid House Kings, The Radio Dept., Sambassadeur, Pelle Carlberg. How important are they in promoting Swedish indiepop? Will your new songs be put out by them again?

Labrador is pretty big outside of Sweden. They are one of the biggest indiepop labels in Sweden and they are very good at putting out things in the world. They have helped us by being on their roster to get through to the rest of the world. Apart from that I don’t think you can call it a sound and I like that. AHK and The Radio Dept. have very different approach towards music but it’s always a certain quality to most of the things they put out. Our new album will be out by them if they have the patience to wait for slow guys like us. 

Your EPs and album have all been numbered like Led Zeppelin used to. Why did you decide to do that? Will you be giving your releases titles from now on?

I don’t know why we decided on that, the first one we entitled #1 and then it was easy to follow on that concept. We’ve been talking about changing that theme but time will tell.

How do you find it with just two of you in the band? Do you ever get sick of each other on tour or does having a backing band with you help?

Having a backing band does help but we haven’t had that much trouble throughout the year. I think all people tend to get a little crazy when being on a tour because it’s such an intense thing. If you only have that in mind and let people have their space then things will work out fine.

Do you have plans to tour Europe this year?

We don’t. We’ve only been planning this show.

You played recently Huset ved Sjøen festival in Norway. It looked like a unique festival with just nine bands on the bill. How was it? How much will your set differ at Indietracks?

It was a really magic festival. Set in an old Greek temple on a fjord outside of Oslo which was pretty sick and we played on a boat. With the audience standing on land in the temple. There were a lot of good bands playing that day. The setlist from that show will probably be pretty the same, I hope we can cram in some new stuff in there as well and some more old songs.

 Will you be staying for the entire weekend? Are you camping or going upmarket and staying a hotel?

We are staying in a hotel and we will be there for the whole festival. Coming up on Friday.

Which bands are you looking forward to seeing the most at the festival? 

Edwyn Collins, The Garlands, Jeffrey Lewis, Crystal Stilts.

HERMAN DUNE INTERVIEW

You have just released your new LP Strange Moosic which also comes in a limited book version. Whose idea was it to release it in that format along with the more conventional CD and vinyl?

I have always dreamt that one day my band would release something like this. Kind of ironic that I finally get to have full size illustrations, guitar tabs lyrics and photos nicely packaged at a time when people predict the end of physical sales, but I guess it’s better late than never. Néman and I started in 2000, and 10 years after our first album, we eventually started our own label and get to get things done our way.

How did you get Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to star in the video for “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”?

You know, it was very simple, to be honest. Toben Seymour and I sent him the storyboard and the song. He said yes right away and flew to join us in Texas. He was very enthusiastic, I was glad to meet him and impressed by the acting, of course.

What is the story behind the Baby Blue yeti puppet? 

I’ve been drawing Baby Blue for years. I had ideas for a feature film with Baby Blue, he’d be running away from home. This video was a first attempt to tell a story with him.

Do you have any other songs in mind as singles from Strange Moosic?

I think “Magician” is the best single; it’s very cinematic I find. My songs are so close to me right now, that it’s hard for me to know what they sound like for the first time when someone hears them on a commercial radio. And that’s what singles are about I feel, those first airplays and what people make of them.

Do you still see Giant as a breakthrough moment? Why was that record so important to the bands career?

It’s a tough question, you know. I guess most of our fans from Mas Cambios and Not on Top started hating Herman Dune when Andre left the band; it coincided with the release of Giant. You know the Brian Jones syndrome, or the “they were better before” attitude that is so common regarding so-called “cult” bands. After we had entirely lost our “devoted” followers, we started doing what we do, writing and recording songs. Weirdly, I never felt better, maybe because the world felt brand new to me, I felt rejuvenated, with healthier expectations than having to maintain a touring status in the indie-rock scene, I started writing songs that were not only meant for the stage, working on different patterns, freed from my brother’s many rules and freed from a scene I felt I had nothing to do with. Néman and I still had the New World to explore better, and that is where we found the energy and the vibe for our music: touring intensively and staying in the USA. Giant opened the doors of America to us, and for some reason it coincided with me feeling more inspired than ever as a writer, so that’s kind of a reason why Giant is important to me. 

Your records often have beautifully designed covers. Do you do all of your own illustrations yourself?

I love drawing. Our albums’ artwork has always been for me a place to display my efforts as an illustrator. Now that I have my own separate life as a graphic artist, with art shows and everything, I still love the idea that someone could get a better insight on my songs with my drawings. Néman has always encouraged me to do so, and it makes me happy.

How much did you enjoy your recent your of Europe? Did you have a standout gig? You were great at a particularly hot and sweaty XOYO. 

XOYO was crazy! So hot, but I liked the show. I’m writing from the tour bus, and back to back, we just had the most extreme opposite shows I had ever experienced. Mudbath in former Sovietic air base in Germany, playing for 60,000 dreadlocked punks, Mad Max III style, and yesterday Calvi, in Corsica, playing on the beach at sunset for a couple of thousands of happy people, most of whom seemed to be very beautiful girls to me. Both shows were awesome, with 24 hours of travelling in between.

I’ve always thought of Union Chapel as a special and even mystical venue. How much are you looking forward to playing there when you return to the UK in October?

 Union Chapel is awesome! I played there with Herman Dune and my dear friends Jeff and Jack Lewis. I’m a little nervous because Herman Dune plays very loud now, and I know that Union Chapel is a quiet friendly venue, we might have to seriously adapt that night, but we’re usually good at that. I like the fact that the place is meant for spiritual matters, it’s inspiring to me.

Whilst touring extensively, have you had time to write any new songs? Do you ever write whilst you are on the road?

I try to write everyday, but my best songs are often written when I go to my parents place in Sweden, with no phone, no computer at all…

You dropped the ü from your name when André left the band. Wire did a similar thing when their drummer Robert Gotobed was replaced by a drum machine in 1990. Was this your reasoning behind the decision? A break from the past?

 Yes. I didn’t feel Herman Dune was over but I wanted to acknowledge André’s departure. Just to be clear. You know, I like, for instance, that there’s The Stooges and Iggy & The Stooges, different line-ups, different names. I have also noticed about The Velvet Underground’s eponymous third album, after they let John Cale go, that people often talk about how good John is, on “The Murder Mystery” or “What Goes On”, because nothing really says that it’s a different line-up.

Are you still in contact with André? Could you ever see a time when he would return to Herman Dune? 

André is my brother. I love him and I see him very often. But working with him had become very frustrating for me, and I didn’t become an artist to have to go through all kinds of compromises and rules I hadn’t made mine, in order to create. I usually find reunion shows pathetic, especially when the band was never famous in the first place, but I imagine I could work with him again, under another band name, because I like the sound of our voices together, and he’s a good Sax player.

 You played around ten John Peel Sessions when he was still with us. How significant was his support to the band? 

Honestly, John Peel meant the world to me. I had never been in a proper recording studio before he let Herman Dune enter the gates of Maida Vale. He taught me how to record, with his team, and he made it possible to tour all over Europe for Herman Dune. I wish I could have really thanked him properly. He was the nicest and the bestest.