We were recently interviewed by the music blog For The Rabbits.
We tell them which tracks inspired us to start the night as well as the stand out songs from the club over the years. You can read the interview here.
Whilst you’re there check out their other interviews with Ralegh Long, Katie Von Schleicher, Fightmilk, Howling Bells, Siobhan Wilson and Breakfast Muff.
We were recently interviewed by the arts website Frontlist/Backlist.
We tell them where we get our inspiration from, our odd creative rituals and what we’re obsessed with. You can read the interview here.
Whilst you’re there check out their other interviews with actors, artists, writers and those who work in fashion.
Noisey have interviewed Pat Nevin ahead of his DJ set at the club tomorrow night.
He talks about hanging out with John Peel, asking to be taken off early during a football match to go and watch the Cocteau Twins and new bands to look out for in Tuff Love, Honeyblood and Ex Hex. You can read the interview in full on their site.
You can listen to one of his past DJ sets at the club on our Spotify page. It features the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Concretes, Orange Juice, The Go-Betweens, Pulp and Josef K.
DIY magazine have interviewed us for their piece on club nights. It features contributions from clubs in Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds as well as one of our regular guest DJs Pat Nevin.
Join Our Club looks at how economic and new technological factors effect how club nights are run and it’s effect on local music scenes.
A Club and Beyond investigates the current state of the indie club night and it’s relationship with live music.
Finally, Taking Back the Floor focuses on what ideas club nights are exploring to keep themselves different and interesting.
Our guest DJs are Jenny Brinck and Ylwa Wirling who will be playing strictly Swedish bands. Send in your requests for them on the Facebook event!
We’ll be playing our usual mix of indiepop, post-punk, new wave, sixties, C86 and lo-fi music plus Swedish music like this.
ABBA . Acid House Kings . A Smile and a Ribbon . Marit Bergman . bob hund . Broder Daniel . The Cardigans . Pelle Carlberg . Neneh Cherry . Club 8 . The Concretes . David & the Citizens . The Embassy . First Aid Kit . Håkan Hellström . The Hives . Honey Is Cool . Frida Hyvönen . [ingenting] . Irene . The Knife . Laakso . The Legends . Jens Lekman . Little Big Adventure . Lykke Li . Amanda Mair . Makthaverskan . The Mary Onettes . Peter Bjorn and John . Popsicle . The Radio Dept . Robyn . Sambassadeur . Shout Out Louds . The Soundtrack of Our Lives . Suburban Kids With Biblical Names . Taken By Trees . Those Dancing Days . Vit Päls . The Wannadies . Jenny Wilson . Yvonne
Time Out have done a full page spread on the night where we talk about the background of the special and five key bands you can expect to hear. The Londonist have also written a preview so check that out.
It would be great to have as many Swedes there as possible so please help get the word out!
Last week we caught up with Dan Willson from Withered Hand ahead of his DJ set at the club on Saturday night.
We discussed his recent collaborations, plans for a second album, his songwriting and religion and sex. Here is the interview in full.
Hi Dan, we’re very much looking forward to your DJ set at the club. What sort of thing have you got planned?
“I guess I will just play a bunch of songs that I liked to dance about in my bedroom to and still grab me in some way. There will definitely be a late 90s bias.”
You’ve just come off the back of releasing a couple of EPs. How is work progressing towards a second album?
“Work is just starting on a new album. I have a cycle of new songs building for a while now that I am starting to bash into shape. I am not signed to a label at the moment so I am concentrating on getting the thing recorded myself and then will look at options after that.”
Are there any labels in particular that you would like to work with in putting your records out?
“Maybe. There is no real magic in the words ‘record deal’ for me, I just want to work with good people who are honest and believe in their artists more than they believe in money and fashion.”
How did your collaboration with Darren Hayman come about? (Hayman produced the Heart Heart and Inbetweens EPs in his London home last year).
“Those sessions were fun and came about through an invitation from Darren to go stay with him and try recording at his house with no particular outcome in mind. I think I am critical of my own previous recorded efforts and those sessions were another step closer to learning how to make things sound like they do in my head when I’m writing them. Darren is a very thoughtful guy, I have fond memories of that time and I hope to work with him again sometime.”
Do you see that in a producer/artist capacity or more of a musical collaboration either working on each other’s records or a joint release?
“I don’t know. I suppose that’s up to Darren too but certainly as a producer/artist again at some point. I think there’s still mileage in that.”
We enjoyed seeing you play at Fortuna Pop’s Winter Sprinter a couple of weeks ago where you were joined by Pam Berry. You’ve said in the past that you were a fan of Black Tambourine. How did you come to work with Pam and has the artistic process worked out how you imagined it to?
“Oh, working with Pam is a joy. Same with Darren and King Creosote. It’s amazing to learn by working with people you admire. So yes I am a fan of Black Tambourine and I had been researching them and when I wrote something about them, Pam got in touch. They really nailed that exuberant noise/melody thing I so love. Pam turned out to be a fan of Withered Hand and I had a feeling we would get along so the next step was obvious. Pam’s really intuitive in her approach to singing and music, which suits me as I struggle when it comes to formal musical knowledge. I have a song on the new album which I wrote with her in mind to sing a vocal harmony.”
The Scottish Arts Council has helped many bands release their albums, Camera Obscura, Butcher Boy and The Felt Tips spring to mind. How much of a help were they in releasing Good News?
“They don’t actually really help you ‘release’ anything but at that time they were very good at helping match-fund recording projects. So you raise a pretty hefty amount towards recording, then they will match it with a percentage of that amount. I don’t know if that’s still the same but I imagine it is similar. I was very lucky to get that help but the hideous form I had to fill out more than justified it. The Scottish Arts Council became Creative Scotland though; I hope they can carry on supporting the various new music scenes in Scotland through these challenging times.”
Religion and sex have been recurring themes in your songwriting. Has that been a deliberate topic or something more subconscious, that rejection of religion?
“I would say it is more the product of introspection. Certain times in my early life were preoccupying my mind when I first became a father and that is when those songs were made. If that is deliberate then it is. I mean I didn’t write them in some kind of trance. But if anything I have tried to suppress those same introspective themes when they try and make cameo appearances in the new songs and concentrate on other areas of life and love’s rich tapestry. I’m broadening my horizons.”
You’re playing at The Hangover Lounge’s Lost Weekend next month at Union Chapel. Do you have anything special planned for it?
“Pam Berry, new tunes and maybe some golf trousers.”
When will we see a full-band Withered Hand playing live again? Do you have any festival appearances planned for this summer?
“I don’t know and no festival appearances planned. I play solo a lot too so sometimes unfortunately ages pass between seeing the friends who comprise my ‘band’. Also with making this new record, I think I can feel a reclusive period coming on.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
There are only two of you in the band. Has it always been a conscious decision to keep the line-up slim and tight?
Ian: We used to have another guitarist, but yes, I would say so. It makes things a lot simpler from a practical point of view. Sound-checks are much quicker! But more importantly I like the directness of two guitars, bass and drums. I’m into making records with lots of overdubs but I see no reason to replicate that in a live setting. At gigs we like to go for the jugular.
Do you ever see the day when you’d get a drummer or expand the line-up in other ways?
Ian: I’m happy without a drummer. We did consider it early on and there are live drums on some of the recordings, but I think the drum machine is more than adequate for our purposes. We’ve played with guests from time to time (Andrew Jarrett of The Groove Farm, Brad San Martin and One Happy Island, Pierre Sparf of Liechtenstein, Rocker) but I can’t see anyone becoming a permanent fixture. Living in different cities we find it difficult to find the time to practice as is.
You’ve played quite a few gigs in continental Europe. How was Madrid Popfest? What sets it aside from the London shows?
Ian: Madrid was amazing! We were treated very well indeed and the whole weekend was superb from start to finish, in every way. It was great to see Spanish bands like Los Autocratas and Zipper. Because it was the first ever Madrid Popfest the atmosphere was very special. There was a sort of unbridled excitement to it all that reminded me of the first Indietracks festival in 2007. It’s hard to compare it to the London edition as they are both great in their own way. I wasn’t at London this year so can’t really comment, but I guess the main difference would be that Madrid was a smaller-scale event with fewer bands.
Pete: Madrid was an incredible event. There was such a sense of togetherness and joy stemming from the fact that the nine organisers had managed to pull off something unique and magical for indiepop in Madrid. The hospitality we were shown all weekend was quite humbling and to be presented with a momento and two chocolates immediately after coming off stage was a lovely touch. I played on the Saturday as well, with The Blanche Hudson Weekend, who got the full dry ice treatment for some reason!
You put out the compilation Popkids of the World Unite! out in October of last year containing b-sides and rarities. Tell us more about that release.
Ian: We planned it for a while. Ever since we did the Frosty Cat Songs LP in 2006 we’ve released nothing but singles on many different labels and mostly as limited editions. It just seemed like a nice idea to collect them all.
Pete: It feels like a proper LP in that the songs are sequenced to fit together in that order, rather than being chronological. The only song that hadn’t been released before was our Jonathan Richman cover, which was earmarked for a Fortuna Pop! compilation. It seemed the right time to do compile the tracks.
Can we expect an album of new material anytime soon?
Ian: We’re just finishing a couple of tracks for an expanded edition of The Knitwear Generation EP (originally released this year on Fika) that’s coming out on Susy Records. After that we’ve promised ourselves a little bit of a break from gigging so we can concentrate on recording our second album. I’ve had some of the songs written for about 4 years now, so it’s about time we got them on tape! I think they’re my best songs yet. We’ll see!
How much did you enjoy playing Read and Shout recently? How important do you think having a tight knit indiepop scene in London is for these charity events?
Ian: It was an honour to be invited, and a great bill. I read a review of it that trashed most of the bands – us in particular – in a really mean-spirited way. Given that the bands played for free to support a great cause I found that deeply troubling, but there we go. Hats off to Matt for organising the day. I definitely think it’s important to have a tight knit community – all the time, not just for charity events.
Pete: It was an event we were proud to put our name to and to support. The Sweet Nothings spelt things out in song: “So be careful what you wish for/And remember what they did/Remember how they tore this land in two/They might tell you different stories but they’re still the same old Tories/And they’ll *always* put the bankers before you”. It’s just as important – maybe more important given the likely effect of cuts on people’s lives in the poorer areas of the country – to have a tight knit community outside London to organise and support voices of protest.
You recorded a split 7” with The Blanche Hudson Weekend on Odd Box Records for their Singles Club. What’s the story behind “Get Cleansed!”?
Ian: Typically for a Horowitz song the lyric is a bit oblique, but it’s sort of about embracing your flaws. “Dear former friends and lovers/I hope this letter finds you well/You said it’s not the fact of falling/But the beauty in the way you fell” It’s biblical shit man! We were delighted when Trev agreed to release it.
Speaking of Odd Box, you’re playing their Weekender on 8th May. What do you have in store for your set?
Ian: I’d like to sneak some new songs in there. But otherwise expect a lot of loud noise!