THE FELT TIPS INTERVIEW

Miguel, you joined the band by replying to an 18 month old advert by Andrew for band members. Can you tell us more about that? 

Miguel: I had just arrived in Glasgow and was looking for people to form a band. I didn’t know anyone here so I just scoured the records shops for adverts. I was surprised that there were not more indiepop or non-mainstream indie proposals. Back then, I thought everyone in Glasgow was like Jim Reid or Caesar. Andrew’s ad was the only one that seemed interesting to me. I found it by chance well underneath a bunch of posters and ads. His had long been covered by adverts put up by people who are probably famous now. Apparently he had given up trying to form a band by then, but thankfully he changed his mind.

You released your debut LP Living and Growing at the end of last year. How has reception to the album been?

Andrew: Although we promoted the album more widely, the reception has mainly been from the indiepop community, with listeners, bloggers and DJs (at least those who have made their feelings known) almost universally heralding Living and Growing as one of the best albums of 2010. We were fairly confident that the album would be well received but I have to admit to being really thrilled at just how highly people think of it. We would ideally like it if everyone got a chance to listen to us but, then again, it’s nice to know the possibility exists that word will gradually spread.

Miguel: I think it’s been a great reception in general. We have received very good feedback from many different sources from different countries. It makes me happy to see that we have not disappointed those who have somehow followed the band through the years, since out first single. As Andrew says, practically all the reception came from the indiepop scene, the mainstream media has kept either disliking or simply ignoring us, but we did not expect anything else really.

The Scottish Arts Council funded the album. They’ve got a great history of funding albums from Camera Obscura to Butcher Boy as well as funding Scottish bands to play SXSW. How vital were they in getting the album released?

 Miguel: In brief, this album would have never been released without this funding. Not at that moment at least. I am sure this has been the case for many, probably the most, of the bands that have released records in Scotland thanks to their help. So it’s easy to get an idea of how the cuts in the SAAC, Creative Scotland nowadays, will impact on the Scottish music scene. 

Andrew: Had we not been funded, we may have eventually got round to releasing an album but it wouldn’t have sounded as good. I think we would have ended up doing it on the cheap which would have been a shame.

 

Where was the LP recorded and who produced it? How long did it take to write and record?

Andrew: It was recorded at CaVa by Brian McNeill and we produced it with him. Brian made recording an album really enjoyable and gave us loads of ideas – yet still made the album sound like us. It’s testament to his skills that we managed to record, mix and master the album in 7 10-hour days. One benefit of not having much time was that we didn’t get a chance to over elaborate the arrangements.

Miguel: Working with Brian was great, he got straight-away what we wanted and what we didn’t. He really captured the sound of the band.  It was pretty tight indeed but we managed to record it in a week. That would probably have not been possible working with someone else or somewhere else. CaVa is a superb studio where many of our favourite albums were recorded, so it was a real treat to get to record there. However I remember us talking about this before going into studio and we all agreed we didn’t actually want to sound like any of these records. We were slightly concerned about the possibility of not getting to capture the intensity and brightness of our live sets, but these fears quickly vanished I really think that we accomplished what we intended.

I recently caught you at London Popfest. How much are you looking forward to playing NYC Popfest? Which bands are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Andrew: We’re really pleased to be playing and, having never been outside of Europe in my life, I’m personally over the moon to get to visit NYC. I love a couple of songs by Days so I’ll be watching them to hear more.

Miguel: I can’t wait to the NYC Popfest, it will be our first gig in the U.S., out of Europe actually, and we have long wanted to go there to play, so we are really excited about it. I am looking forward to seeing Days and The Sunny Street; also, Gold-Bears, Tiny Fireflies, Betty and the Werewolves and The Specific Heats. I think the bill is excellent.

What other gigs do you have lined up for the remainder of 2011?

Miguel: We have been playing steadily since June last year, before and after the release of Living and Growing, both in the UK and abroad. Apart from the NYC Popfest, we will be playing in Copenhagen and Hamburg in May. After that, we plan to take a break from live shows and concentrate in new material on which we are currently working.

And finally, Andrew, did you mum really think you were gay because you listened to Morrissey?

Andrew: I don’t actually know. She did once say to me that she would be happy with whatever sexuality I turned out to be, but perhaps she said that to all her children.

HELP STAMP OUT LONELINESS INTERVIEW

Colm and Bentley used to be in Language of Flowers, so how did the band get together? 

Ben: Just an advert on Gumtree or somewhere. I was in another band that never rehearsed or gigged so was looking for something else to do. Bentley sent me a demo of an instrumental of “Cottonopolis” and I thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard.

Where does the bands name come from? Did you take it from the song of the same name?

Colm: I always loved Nancy Sinatra’s cover of Stonewall Jackson’s “Help Stamp Out Loneliness” and was gonna use it for a club night that me and Tara from Language of Flowers were gonna do. It was similar to Jarvis Cocker’s old night Little Stabs at Happiness. I think Ben stole it for a night in Manchester that he did with Andy Rourke and then it seemed too good to pass up on when we wanted to have another band on the go after Language of Flowers split up.

You’ve just released your debut LP on Where It’s At Is Where You Are. How did you get to know John Jervis? 

Ben: He came to our first ever UK gig at HDIF in Brixton. We recorded it ourselves in bits and pieces over about a year.

Colm: I was a bit suspicious of John at first, as I had been obsessed by getting hold of Shrag’s “Pregnancy Scene” 7″. I met him at ATP and drunkenly promised to make sure I got one. His eyes were in the back of his head at the time, so wasn’t surprised not to receive it. The thing about John is that he has turned out to almost be my guardian angel and has really looked after me going through a really bad time. If anyone else ever did him wrong I would happily hack them to death with his unsold copies of WIAIWYA 015 and WIAIWYA 024. Whatever they are.

 The album has a real sheen to it that would sound perfect on the radio. Who produced the LP?

Ben: Woodie Taylor mostly, with other bits by Martin Coogan, Yves Altana, Craig Gannon and Bentley.

You’ve just released “Record Shop” as a single. Have you decided which other songs will be singles? 

Ben: Well we’ve had two singles – “Torvill & Dean” and “Pacific Trash Vortex”, but not sure if we’re gonna release any album tracks as singles – probably something new 

You were my absolute standout band at London Popfest. How important do you think these Popfest’s are to supporting indiepop music?

Colm: I’ve only been to the London ones, we couldn’t afford to go over to the New York one even though we were asked. They do seem a good thing and having been following this scene for too many years, it is good to have something going on in so many different places.

You played Indietracks in 2009 and you’ll be back for this year’s festival. What are you looking forward to the most at the festival? What other gigs do you have coming up in support of the album? 

Colm: I’m looking forward to kidnapping Dan from Pocketbooks/Full Fathom Down again and handcuffing him again to my hotel bed and force feeding him cheap vodka. That was my highlight. The other highlight was being thrown against a radiator by Bentley in the same room and banging my head against the very same handcuffs from the previous night. After Indietracks we will be playing all the same places that we played before. Hamburg and hopefully New York at some point.

Ben: My highlights from last time were eating the pains’ rider ham and playing Bentley’s “what’s your best dinner?” game (I think the winner was the Teeside delicacy parmo). Next time I’m looking forward to drinking under a train, drinking on a train that goes nowhere and seeing that whole roast pig.



Track-by-track guide to Help Stamp Out Loneliness with Bentley Cooke

“Cottonopolis + Promises”

A ‘Dear John’ letter to our beloved city of Manchester – a city sadly trapped between sentimentality and hipsterism.

“Angelyne”

It’s about a woman in LA who puts billboards up of herself all over the show. It’s kind of an indie version of the Bros classic ‘When Will I Be Famous?’

“Record Shop”

Stalkers, blow-jobs and quite possibly murder-suicide. 

“The Ghost With a Hammer in His Hand”

A bizarre love triangle between Joseph, Mary and God …. and Jimmy Wilde. So not really a triangle after all.

 “Biergarten”

A ‘once bitten, twice shy’ ex-lover won’t be fooled again into being filmed on some shitty Eumig Super 8 whilst performing sexual favours in pub beer garden. True story.

“Palma Violence”

A Club 18-30’s romance turns awry when a Northern Irish girl unsuspectingly becomes a drugs mule. Don’t ask.

“My Window”

This one’s all about falling in love with someone whose main characteristics all point towards them being a member of the un-dead.

“Me, Sola & C”

A kitchen-sink Othello. A girl is convinced by her ‘friend’ that her man is a cheat. Tragedy and Martini Vermouth ensue.

“Cellophane”

Forget vinyl – audio cassettes were the best format. This is an ode to an ode – the original ode being The Smiths’ ‘Rubber Ring’. 

“S*W*I*M”

It’s about taking loads of ketamine, jumping in the Bridgewater Canal on a hot summer’s day, forgetting how to swim and not giving two fucks.

“Tracy Tracy”

Scratch n’ Sniff.

“Split Infinitives”

A glorious anthem for the sexually repressed sun-kissed swingers from Cheshire set.

BUTCHER BOY INTERVIEW

You first used the Butcher Boy title as a pen name when submitting poetry to newspapers. I’ve always assumed you took name from the 1917 Buster Keaton short film. Why did that appeal to you?

 The band name mostly came from the Patrick McCabe book, to be honest… I read it when I was 18 and it really moved me – very funny, but very sad too. That said, I had the film at the back of my mind too – though mostly for the Fatty Arbuckle connection!

I first became aware of your music in 2007 at How Does It Feel to Be Loved? who released your first two albums. The new LP is due to come out on the Damaged Goods label. How did the change come about?

 After we released React Or Die Ian Watson, who runs HDIF, and I had a talk about the band and the label… we’d been fortunate to have a lot of good press with the record but we hadn’t really been able to do anything with it. It was partly down to us – we’ve all got work commitments and can’t play many shows – and partly down to a lack of a substantial promotional budget for HDIF. Ian said we could release another record on HIDF – but the problems we’d had with React Or Die would happen again. Ian suggested we have a look around and see what options were available – and we were very lucky to find a new home with Damaged Goods.

Tell us more about the forthcoming new album. In terms of the sound, is it much of a departure from Profit In Your Poetry and React Or Die?

 I was thinking about this question today and I think it is! After React Or Die we wrote a score for a film called Chick’s Day, and we performed it at the Glasgow Film Theatre last June. I had an idea we would never go back to it – that it would only ever exist for the people who were there – but I loved the challenge of doing it, and the discipline that was involved, and we ended up taking some of the strands from that work and have used them for this record. So we have a few instrumental pieces… a few themes! The last song on the record is an instrumental called “Every Other Saturday” and I think it’s the best song we’ve ever recorded. It’s certainly the one I’m most proud of.

 Can we expect a new dancefloor hits like “Carve a Pattern”? It’s one of my favourite records to play at the club.

I hope there are at least a couple! The first single from the record is going to be a song called “Imperial” and I think that should fit the brief.

I really enjoyed the video for “A Better Ghost” from your last album. It was partly film at the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow. Who filmed it and will there be more promotional videos for the new LP?

It was filmed by a friend of a friend called Jerry Kelly… I sketched out a story that fleshed out what the song was about and I asked my friends Keith and Alison to be in it. It was a lot of fun to do, I’d definitely like to do more! We were asked last year by a chap called Bryan O’Neil if our song “This Kiss Will Marry Us” could be used on a film Bryan was making… we agreed to a swap! We’ve let Bryan use the song and Bryan is going to make a video for us in return… I’ve given Bryan free rein to do whatever he likes with any song from the new record!

At the end of the last year you organised your own Christmas Fayre at Mitchell Library. Is the closure of many libraries throughout the UK something you feel passionately about? How did the Fayre itself go?

It’d be a brave frontman of an indiepop band who said he didn’t care about library closures! The Fayre was really good fun – it was difficult to organise but the library staff were incredibly helpful to us and our friend Jude did a fantastic job of making sure everything in the Fayre itself went to plan. 

I’m writing this the day after you’ve been announced as part of Indietracks 2011. How excited are you about playing the festival again?

We’re very excited! We played in 2009 and had a fantastic time – and this time we’ll have the opportunity to hang around and enjoy the rest of the festival too. We’ve had a bit of a run getting up to speed with our new songs – depending on the mood and the weather we’ll do our very best!

Is there anyway fans can get there hands on the elusive The Eighteenth Emergency EP?

The physical copies are long gone… I don’t even have one! We pressed about 200, and they were only on sale at the Glasgow café shows we did in 2007. The four songs are on iTunes though!

You used to run the legendary National Pop League in Glasgow. Is there a time when you could ever see bringing it back?

I miss the NPL a lot – especially on days like today in Glasgow, when it’s sunny and it’s blowy. I made some fantastic friends through it, and sometimes I feel guilty about it ending. But in the end, it was the right thing to do – it’s right that its history and I would never go back to it. I still DJ from time to time around Glasgow – I had a small NPL side project called Little League, and I tend to put on three or four of these a year. These are good fun… I was absolutely dedicated to the NPL and it was run with military precision but the Little Leagues are a little looser… I’m able to make the odd mistake with it!

ACID HOUSE KINGS INTERVIEW

There’s been a gap of 6 years between Sing Along With Acid House Kings and Music Sounds Better With You. I read that it was due to be released in 2008. What happened along the way?

Niklas: Well, for us, it’s not that long actually. It was five years between our first and second albums and then another five years between the second and the third. When it only took us three years to record and release our fourth album Sing Along With Acid House Kings, that was some kind of creative outburst. A record we will never beat.

Still, the original plan was to release the album in 2008 or at least 2009. But, we suddenly felt we were going the wrong way. Acid House Kings have always been about pop melodies, nothing more, nothing less. The album we scrapped in 2008 was a less melodic, a tad darker than we wanted. And, maybe more importantly, not good enough. Some time in 2010 we suddenly felt we had a classic three-minute-pop-song-five-songs-on-side-A-five-songs-on-side-B-every-song-is-a-single type of album on the way. After that, we were actually quite fast.

Johan: I listened a lot to French pop music from the 60’s last year and I think that really inspired me to start working with Acid House Kings again. Rhythms have become increasingly important to me over the last years – nine out of ten songs I write start with the rhythms – and I think people like Serge Gainsbourg opened my eyes for new ways of combing that with straightforward pop songs. I know a lot of people think Sing Along With Acid House Kings and Music Sounds Better With You sounds almost identical, but I feel there’s a quite big difference. Music Sounds Better With You is more advance of course.

“Would You Say Stop?” is one of our favourite releases this year. It’s a tremendous pop song. What are your hopes for it? I noticed it was available as the Free Song of the Day on Amazon. Does chart success mean a lot to the group in these years of declining record sales?

Julia: I am so happy that you like it. “Would You Say Stop?” is actually one of my favourites as well. Our hope is that as many as possible will hear it and love it. I am one of those people who still listen to songs and records that I loved 5 – 10 years ago. If this song still would be played in 5 – 10 years I would be euphoric. Amazon has a lot of customers (me included) and a chart success therefore means a great deal.

It’s also got a sad penguin video which I’ve not been able to stop watching. What were the ideas behind it?

Niklas: Well, that was more or less the idea: Julia as a sad penguin. It’s really difficult to make videos that are worth watching, especially when you don’t have a gigantic budget. You need a simple, visual idea and the penguin outfit was ours. Philip Ekström, who directed the video, did a great job. I think it’s beautiful, funny and a little sad. I still watch it myself. I think the video captures Acid House Kings more than any other video we’ve made.

Joakim doesn’t appear in the promo video or on the album cover. Has he left the band?

Niklas: He hasn’t left the band in some dramatic way or so. We live in Stockholm and he lives in the south of Sweden, so this time around he wasn’t around for the recordings. He wasn’t involved in Mondays Are Like Tuesdays and Tuesdays Are Like Wednesdays (2002), but he played on Sing Along With Acid House Kings (2005). An on and off relationship, I guess. Maybe his back for our sixth album some time in 2018…

How did your live comeback at Debaser in Stockholm go on 8th April? Were there a few creases to iron out or did you manage to hit your groove straight away considering you’ve not played live together for 5 years?

Julia: The energy was high and it was straight up awesome. We had a slew of loyal fans that literally sang there hearts out to very word. There was also a lot of dancing.

How is the current live line-up of the band shaped? I noticed on a recent Swedish TV performance there were 7 of you. Will that be the line-up to tour the LP?

Julia: The band consists of me, Johan and Niklas and four lovely friends. To be honest we can not perform a concert without them. They are the best! Hopefully all of us will tour together in the future.

Although Julia is primarily the lead singer, sometimes vocal duties are split. How is that decided? Do you do different takes in the studio and see which vocalist would best suit a particular song, capturing the right feel?

Niklas: We have an unwritten rule that says I sing half of the songs and Julia sings half of the songs. We always decide before entering the studio who is going to sing it. Often the choice comes very naturally.

Do you have any plans to play European festivals this summer? Are you familiar with Indietracks Festival in the UK?

Julia: We don’t know yet. Some festivals have contacted us but we haven’t really decided yet. I have not been at the Indietracks Festival yet, but hopefully one day!

Moving on, Johan, what’s happening with Club 8 at the moment? Can we expect anything soon? I loved The People’s Record from last year.

Johan: We’ll have a new album out next year. I’ve been writing quite a lot of new Club 8 songs this year and we have about twelve songs that we both feel are really great. But we haven’t started doing proper recordings and versions yet, so I’m sure a lot of them will fall off as we start recording after the summer. It’s taking some new interesting directions and I’m not sure how it’ll sound in the end. It’ll be a more experimental, darker and more electronic album than The People’s Record I think. But who knows…

What’s happening with all of your other side projects at the moment? Are they on hold until the promotional run of Music Sounds Better With You is over with?

Johan: We actually finished the debut album with Pallers yesterday. Or maybe it’s 99,9% finished. It turned absolutely amazing if I may say so, it has a very three dimensional sound which I really love. We’ve only released two singles before. Three if you count our Christmas single “Arctic Hymn”. The album will be out late September I think.

Is the Acid House Kings home for you? Does it feel like going on holiday when you play with your other bands, being able to explore different musical avenues that might not necessarily fit within the Acid House Kings style?

Johan: I’m on holiday with Acid House Kings! It’s such a rare thing that we get together and make and album that it feels a bit like time off from other bands. But at the same time, it’s a home as well. We’ve been playing since I first learned to play guitar, its family and it’s something I keep returning to.

Many of your songs tend to be snappy 3 minutes and all of your albums are around 30 minutes. Most of my favourite LPs tend to be that length. I think it can capture a band wonderfully, like a snapshot of a group at a certain time. Is that your ideal? To get your message across crystallised within a perfect pop song?

Johan: I love 3 minutes pop songs and albums with 10 tracks. For pop albums, it’s the perfect length. But I don’t really have an ideal, because it depends on what kind of music I’m making. Sometimes album should be more like long stories, with completely different passages and episodes that spans over a long time. The Pallers album has 10 songs and it not super long – its 40 minutes – but it’s a completely different build up. There’s light and shorter instrumental pieces, dark suggestive noisy drone ambient, 7 minutes slow pop songs… there’s even music you can dance to. At least if you’re OK with slow dancing…. anyway, this is just as much my ideal as the 10 hits and 3 minute pop songs we’re doing with Acid House Kings.

Despite breaking the mould a couple of LPs ago, will you be reverting to your original 10 year plan to release an album every 5 years? Was that inspired by Felt who released 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years?

Johan: Yep, we stole their plan and adjusted it to Acid House Kings and we might very well do it again!

ONWARD CHARIOTS INTERVIEW

How did Chariots of Tuna become Onward Chariots?

Onward Chariots was born at the end of 2008. We had a band called the Infinite Orchestra that played these elaborate, theatrical compositions. But I wondered what would happen if I pulled out a couple of shamelessly melodic songs I’d written a while ago, wrote some new songs with an indiepop focus, learned to sing with a sweet, gentle voice, and asked these great players from the Infinite Orchestra to record with me. I did, and they bravely agreed! Dan, our drummer, was starting to get interested in home recording, and so we got together in his tiny Brooklyn studio and recorded two songs in a couple of hours, using the old-fashioned way where everyone plays their parts at the same time. Those two songs were to become “War Hero” and “Save Me Maryann”. We never guessed that these home recordings would go so far!

Tell us about your new single “Save Me Maryann”. We hear it’s going to be released on limited-edition white vinyl!

I started writing “Save Me Maryann” after meeting a wonderful Norwegian girl named Marianne while visiting Bayreuth, Germany. I was travelling around Europe on my own, and after I had to leave Bayreuth and continue the journey I really missed her, and I kept calling her from various places in Germany… the whole experience was quite lonely and intense and I began to write this impossibly complicated song. It uses all sorts of musical and lyrical tricks to try to be as exciting as possible all the time – it took months to work it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t really sing and play the song without making a mess out of it, and it took the talents of Dan, Shawn, and Rus to make the song make such sense in Onward Chariots!

Do you have plans to release an album on Elefant next year?

It’s funny – that’s something we’ve barely thought about. Certainly Elefant has been absolutely excellent so far, and of course we’d love to do more with them! But right now we just want to focus on recording new material that builds and improves on what we’ve done before; it honestly seems that when we put our hearts into our music, people find it. Our other next goal is to get back to the UK, and also this time to visit our new friends in Spain!

Does each band member bring something different musically to the group?

Rus, our bassist, is an expert on modern jazz and says he rarely listens to rock music. When playing with Onward Chariots, he simply tries to imagine what would fit with what’s happening around him. He happens to also have a fantastic melodic sense, an amazingly dry sense of humour, and a collection of hip-hop from the Dirty South. Shawn, our guitarist, knows hip hop and classic soul music backwards and forwards – he is a contributor to rapgenius.com – and, as he plays bass in much of the rest of his life, he brings a tasteful restraint to his guitar parts. Dan, our drummer and sometime guitarist, records and produces all the group’s music, and as such is heavily involved in creating the band’s aesthetic. Keith, our touring drummer, is a recent transplant from Austin, Texas, where he played with more country bands than you could shake a stick it, even if you were inclined to shaking sticks at country bands.

I started out as a classical pianist and composer, transitioned to the world of punk, and then gradually discovered the joys of making gentler music. I’m a music nerd and when I hear music I like, whether it’s The Beatles, Sonic Youth or Puccini, I take it apart and try to figure out how it works, and then I wish I’d started a band like that. Right now I’m listening a lot to The Drums and wondering how it would be to write songs that played singing off of repeated melodic keyboard or guitar lines. And “Seven Miles Away” was inspired by an obsession with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. And listening to groups like Peter, Bjorn and John helped inspire the creation of the band.

You lodged a fund raising appeal to help pay for your flights to play at Indietracks this year. Did you enjoy the festival?

Even after our fundraiser, the trip to the UK still cost us gobs and gobs of money, but it was worth it. We felt incredibly fortunate to take part in an amazing, DIY festival where we met so many pleasant and talented people. For a new band like us to get to play at Indietracks, to drive around England and Scotland and play for appreciative audiences in places like Glasgow, Nottingham, and London, was a complete dream come true – completely unreal – and we can’t wait to come back to the UK!

You also played at the Athens Popfest this year. Do you prefer playing festivals to your own shows in Brooklyn?

We’ve been lucky to start this group in an era when it’s so easy to share music across the world. We love playing shows and we have indeed been known to play here in New York, but it’s honestly a lot more exciting to our music has made it to places like the UK, Brazil, Spain, and the Phillippines than to find out someone’s listening to it down the street.

We love playing Popfests because they give us an excuse to visit new places, because they feature bands we’re eager to see, and because we meet lots of nice people. We will be playing at the much closer Popfest! New England this weekend. After that, we’re going to focus on recording new songs and continuing to see what friends we can make internationally thanks to the Elefant single and our video. My goal right now is to find someone to help with European booking!

MJ HIBBETT & THE VALIDATORS INTERVIEW

The last MJ Hibbett & the Validators release was the B-side compilation Forest Moon of Enderby. How did you come to choose these 13 songs from your vast catalogue?

We asked the following questions of all candidates: Is it currently available on a CD album? Does it only feature me? Is it a cover version? Does it concern itself with Christmas? If the answer to all four was “NO” then it got on – and if the only “YES” was to question two we stuck in on Hibbett’s Superstore, the additional album that comes on the CD extras which features, in the words of the Validators “all that rubbish you did without us.”

Do you have plans to put your cover of Allo Darlin’s “Dreaming” on any future releases? We think it’s awesome.

Thanks very much – I absolutely bloody love the Allo Darlin’ album, so recording that was an absolute joy! We do plan to do a whole album collecting up our covers some time (I am nothing if not tidy minded about my back catalogue) and “Dreaming” will definitely be on it. It’ll be a while yet before we do it though, there’s a big queue of things to get out of the way first!

 Are you currently writing new material for your next studio album?

At the moment I’m working on the sequel to Dinosaur Planet, but there are a couple of possible Vlads songs seeping out. I don’t really have a “writing process” as such, I usually get an idea at the most inconvenient moment possible and then desperately rush to scribble it down, get it to demo stage within the next couple of days, and then spend several years tinkering with the lyrics. I put huge amounts of effort into getting the words exactly right… and then tend to record it in one or two takes!

You embarked on a tour promoting your “rock opera” Dinosaur Planet in August. How did you come up with the storyline?

I saw someone doing a terrible one-man version “War of the Worlds” once, thought “I could do better than that!” and decided to dig out this very vague idea I had for a science fiction blockbuster. All I had for a story was an astronomer whose Grandad was a disgraced archaeologist, and the rest of it gradually emerged through a combination of the “writing process” above and me thinking “What would be the coolest thing that could happen next?”

What plans do you have for the forthcoming shows across November and early 2011?

We’ve got all the travel and accommodation already booked for most of the remaining tour dates and so we’re basically planning to have efficiently, reasonably price travel to a range of venues where we hope to give a well rehearsed performance (with admittedly a bit of me dicking around) of a show we’ve come to thoroughly enjoy, before having a few more drinks and retiring. Don’t worry though – next year the Validators will be touring Dinosaur Planet and so we’ll be back to exploding venues, getting arrested on Autobahns and lock-in gigs 100 miles away from the nearest city!

 You’ve been doing Totally Acoustic for a little while now. What was the idea behind putting on only acoustic gigs?

A few years ago I happened to do a few gigs in a row where the PA was so rubbish it was better not to use it and found myself suddenly liberated from soundchecks, dodgy PAs, shit sound and soundmen. It’s so much more fun to play without the artificial encumbrances of normal venues, the fact that there’s nothing between you and the audiences reminds everyone that you’re all in the same room, and it’s surprisingly easy to do – acoustic guitars are designed to be the right volume to go with the human voice, and the size of rooms you can do this sort of thing in are more than adequate to contain my audiences! Our last one of the year is Tuesday 21st December when we’ve got Andy Pocketbooks and Chris T-T playing. Next year I’m planning to do another run around March time.

You also run the Artists Against Success label. How did that come about and do you have any upcoming releases?

AAS was originally a way for me to get a couple of other people – Mr M Whitaker and Mr R Fleay – to help me put out a single. We had so much fun doing that (mostly due to our regular Board Meetings in the pub) that we decided to carry on and help other people put records out too. That was fantastic for several years, but then various life changes (not least my move to London, out of range of Board Meetings) made it less practical so we decided to jack it in while we were ahead. Now AAS is mostly back to its original function – putting out my records! Thus the next thing we release will be the next Validators album, the soundtrack for Dinosaur Planet.

Lastly, how’s your annual Christmas song coming along? We hear you’re making a stop motion animation video!

Yes, I spent all day yesterday moving tiny cardboard figures in very, very small increments, it did my head in! It looks lovely though, so hopefully it’ll be worth it. The song’s called “The 29th Day of December” and it’s a bit more traditional, less poppy, than previous years’ songs. It’s all about the day when you can finally relax and enjoy the time off work, once all the Christmas business is concluded, and I’m getting people to record their own voices for a mass choir. It should be out a couple of weeks before Christmas, along with a re-release for ALL of our Christmas songs on the bandcamp site called either Tipples and Nibbles or A Christmas Buffet from MJ Hibbett & the Validators. I told you there was a big queue of stuff to get released!

NORTHERN PORTRAIT INTERVIEW

You recently released “Life Returns to Normal” as a limited edition 7” single. Tell us more about the track.

The track is originally from our debut album Criminal Art Lovers which we released earlier this year. It’s a lush guitar track with quite a nice guitar theme, which Michael who plays drums in the band has written. The lyrics are pretty straightforward. I don’t know exactly which song it was but the inspiration for the guitar intro came from The Clientele.

On the B-side there’s a cover version of the 80s Cliff Richard hit “Some People” which was recorded for a project called Rewind some time back. The track has been remixed for the 7”. The idea of the Rewind project was that a number of bands including us were asked to record a cover version of our own choice only condition was that it had to be from the 80s. We did consider quite a few different songs, including Blondie’s “Picture This” – but then we found out it was released in ’79 so we settled with Sir Cliff.

You were signed by Matinée just two months after the band formed. That’s pretty impressive, how did it come about?

Well, it happened quite straight forward, actually. We’d recorded three tracks and put them on a MySpace page. When Matinée Recordings contacted us, there had already been some interest from a couple of German labels, but since we hadn’t reached any agreement we went along with Matinée, which we’re of course very pleased with. It’s a remarkable label.

How pleased were you with the critical reaction to The Fallen Aristocracy and Napoleon Sweetheart EPs?

We were really pleased because we hadn’t expected anything. Both EPs got some enormously kind words thrown after them. And when I occasionally get exposed to some of the songs I actually think they sound quite charming. So hopefully the people who liked them when they bought them haven’t grown too tired of them.

How is the song writing divided within the band? Was it an easy process writing and recording Criminal Art Lovers?

I write most of the songs and Michael who plays drums has contributed some nice songs too, amongst others our latest single. Most songs are written during the recording process, I mean, we don’t normally have a complete song with guitar themes, lyrics, even melody when we start recording. The normal thing is just to have some guideline melody parts and then build it from there. This is somewhat different from when I used to write songs earlier where I would write complete songs before doing anything. Recording Criminal Art Lovers, or rather finishing the record was a slightly long and heavy process because it was done on some rather primitive equipment in a bedroom.

What is the rest of the Danish musical landscape like currently? Are there any other standout bands?

The musical landscape in Denmark in general is rubbish. There’s not a single band in the charts that I can even bear listening to. There are however some very nice indiepop bands around; Ampel, Sockpuppets, and the Roadside Poppies. If you’re interested in Danish music, I’d definitely go for something a bit older. My recommendations would be: Kliché, Lars Hug, Gangway, Love Shop, Trains and Boats and Planes, and The Poets.

The designs of your record sleeves are extremely aesthetically pleasing. Is it something that you take great care over?

Thank you. Well, the sleeve for the first single seemed obligatory: The man covering his face is an infamous Danish killer who shot four police officers in the 60s. Apart from that he’s known for being the person in recent Danish history that’s spent the longest time in prison. One day just before forming Northern Portrait I was standing just in front of him in a supermarket line, and I went home and found this photo, which I find quite intriguing. It’s of course no celebration, just a nice photo. For the Napoleon Sweetheart EP we used a face too, this time a local beauty. For the album we thought it would be nice to have a modernistic building because we’re all quite into architecture (actually, two band members are architects and one has two architect parents). For the latest single Jimmy Tassos from Matinée Recordings designed this very nice sleeve based on the Volvo line from “Life Returns to Normal”. So I suppose we do try to make them look nice, yes.

When you DJed for us at the club in September your set was a mixture of 80s indiepop and mid-90s British bands. Is that where your influences lay?

The musical highlight of my life was probably the nineties when it was business as usual to go and see Pulp or some of those other brilliant groups or buying Sleeper’s new album. The whole Britpop thing was probably a bit of an over statement but if I were to take 10 records to a dessert island, I guess more than half would be from that era. So basically the mid-90s British bands are probably my main influence, both musically and aesthetically. And I still regard my first time seeing Pulp as the best concert I’ve ever been to. Indiepop is of course another major influence on me. These days that’s my main musical interest.

Speaking of that occasion, you had just got off the train after playing a solo set at Nottingham Popfest. Had you played in Nottingham before?

It went very well indeed. I’d played a solo set the night before in London too. Unfortunately I didn’t have very much time in Nottingham but we have been there before with Northern Portrait. It’s a really lovely town, and since I’ve now been there four or five times and stayed some days I think I’m beginning to find my way round town.

BALLBOY INTERVIEW

In the early days of the band Viv Strachan sang whilst you were on guitar. As the band’s main songwriter, how did the transition to lead singer come about?

It came about because Viv quit the band quite suddenly. She had never been very comfortable singing live and decided that she didn’t want to do it anymore. When it happened we had two gigs in quick succession so I stepped in. I hadn’t ever sung in public before so I pretty much thought that we’d do these two gigs, everyone would hate it and that would be that for me and the band. As it turned out it went better than we expected, I decided to write a whole new bunch of songs that suited me and my voice as opposed to Viv’s and it really went from there.

John Peel was an early supporter of the group. What was it like playing his sessions? I’m particularly interested in the Christmas special you played.

The Christmas special was our third or fourth Peel session. We had played in Berlin a couple of days before and had bumpy flights both ways. We flew back into Stansted late at night and drove through the snow to a hotel near Peel Acres. The next day we drove through snowy countryside to the house where we met up with John and Sheila, their family and friends, Laura Cantrell and her husband and guitarist. We basically convened in John’s study/studio at one end of the house to the record the sessions, and moved along the hall to the front room to record the Christmas carols. It was an incredibly happy night, warm, friendly and filled with good food and drink. It is hard to describe it beyond that, but it was one of the best nights of my life.

 How did David Shrigley come to design the artwork for A Guide for the Daylight Hours?

Elizabeth McLean has designed all of the Ballboy albums and we were putting the artwork together, but didn’t have a central image. I’d spoken to a student from the Edinburgh College of Art about using a photo image of the interior of a train, but she wanted over £1,000 for its use and we couldn’t afford that so I wrote to David to ask about the possibility of putting a wee booklet of his drawings inside the album. I’d had no reply and had just about given up when I got an email to say that we could do it. Elizabeth pressed me to cheekily ask whether we could use an image on the cover too and he very kindly agreed. He was incredibly generous.

In 2008 you composed the soundtrack for the Traverse Theatre Company production of Midsummer (A Play with Songs) by David Greig. Was this something you’d always wanted to do?

It’s not something I had planned. The opportunity came up to collaborate with David and we just took it from there. We developed it in small chunks over time alongside the two actors and the stage designer and then it had its premiere in November of 2008. It was a totally different way of working from being in a band and I’m as proud of it as I am of any of my albums. It has gone onto do great things and is about to return to London for two months through December and January at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

You put out an album under the name Money Can’t Buy Music with Maja Mångård last year. How did you come to collaborate with her? What were the ideas behind forming the band?

I wanted to explore home-recording and electronic music, but wanted to stay close to what I knew which was songwriting and spoken word and so I started to learn how to use Pro-tools and Reason at home. The Money Can’t Buy Music Project was an extension of that really. It was a case of testing myself to write, record and mix a project from start to finish and I roped in Maja and a couple of other people to help along the way. I would like to do another one, but between Midsummer, Ballboy and everyday life I don’t know when that may be!

You were recently involved in the running of Edinburgh Popfest 2010. How did you come to be involved?

We just decided, after being lucky enough to play at the London, New York and San Francisco Popfests that we would put on our own version and get people to come enjoy our city and put on some great bands. It went really well and we had a great time and both the bands and the crowds seemed to enjoy themselves. Standout moments for me were seeing the Suburban Kids With Biblical Names again and Bobby Baby’s acoustic set on the Sunday. My one regret is seeing less of the bands than I could have because I had to go help out at three Midsummer performances as our lead actor had lost his voice and couldn’t sing the songs.

 You play live sporadically. Do you have any upcoming gigs planned?

We are playing a Christmas show in December with the fabulous Kid Canaveral and then we’ll start to plan next year. We are busy writing the new Ballboy album at the moment so that takes priority.

When can we expect a new Ballboy LP?

Next year, but I can’t say when. For the first time since the first Ballboy album I’m not setting a deadline. I am just enjoying writing the songs and thinking through the broad scope of how the album will sound. I know that sounds a bit like I’m saying wait and see, but, well, wait and see I guess!

EDWYN COLLINS INTERVIEW

On your new album Losing Sleep, you collaborated with The Cribs’ Ryan Jarman and Johnny Marr, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy, The Drums and Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame. How did that come about?

Ryan is in my studio all the time, he’s like family. He did the very first collaboration. The Franz Ferdinand lads, I know them and bumped into them at a festival and we arranged to get together. Roddy is my oldest friend, from Postcard days. Romeo and I know each other. We’re on Heavenly together and The Drums became friends with my son, Will first. They like early Orange Juice and we decided to do a song together. And Johnny was the last thing. He had a song idea up his sleeve and also the title, “Come Tomorrow, Come Today”.

You won an Ivor Novello award last year for your song writing. How did it feel to be recognised in that way?

I loved it. What a day, what an honour. It’s special because it’s for songwriting and comes from other songwriters. I’m proud of my songs.

The Byrds, Chic, Motown and The Velvet Underground were all mentioned as influences on Orange Juice. Who are the influences your song writing these days?

It’s all from my head, from my experience, no particular influences are needed. There is so much music in my brain. 

Tell us about the seven-disc Orange Juice box-set Coals to Newcastle. Was it something that you helped put together with the rest of the band?

Mostly it was done by Kris Gillespie of Domino in the US. A labour of love, he had to track down all the masters, piece it all together. We own the recordings, so that makes it easier. 

Domino are also re-releasing the Orange Juice back catalogue in 2011. Will the albums be put out in an expanded version?

Not sure, but Domino always do things in a gorgeous way, extra things that people want, all of that.

Do you look back at the bands time on Postcard Records fondly? What was it like alongside Josef K, Aztec Camera and The Go-Betweens?

I do, but it was a long time ago. I love all the records, I have my memories, but I’m not much of a nostalgist. The future is what matters to me, getting on with it.

With such big hits as “Rip It Up” and “A Girl Like You”, which of your records are you most proud of?

Usually the last one, the one I’m promoting. Especially Losing Sleep though, as I thought I couldn’t write or perform again. It’s a miracle record to me. I hear it and I think, “I did it. I’m back.” 

After watching the Home Again documentary [which detailed Edwyn’s recovery from illness] illustrating seemed to help you in many ways. You had your first book of illustrations released last year. Tell us more about that. Is it something you do on a daily basis alongside music?

Yes, daily, when I am at home or my life is less busy than it is now. I love to draw, it’s therapy for me. I’m developing and changing all the time. I had to relearn, to teach my left hand.

Looking back on your career, do you have one defining standout moment?

Yes. The night I stepped back onstage at Dingwalls in London, during the BBC Electric Proms, for the first time since my illness. I was scared as hell at first, but the audience was willing me on and by the third song, I could feel it. I can do this, it will be fine.

THE VASELINES INTERVIEW

You’ve just completed a thorough tour of North America including Mexico. How did it go? I see at one point you had en suite Jacuzzis.

The tour went well. It was the longest tour we’ve done as The Vaselines so it was great to travel all around America, Canada and Mexico. Yes, Frances and I had a Jacuzzi in our rooms in Mexico. I don’t know how that happened and it’s never likely to happen again.

 You were playing with Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian. What is it about Glasgow? How different would you sound if you grew up thousands of miles west of the M8?

Over the last twenty years Glasgow has developed as a city for musicians to work in that others in Scotland haven’t. There are a lot of rehearsal spaces and venues. It has had a few bars that have been constants that give musicians a place to hang out and it helps create a buzz that is lacking elsewhere.

With your double and single entendres and sometimes rockabilly rhythms, The Cramps spring to mind. Were they one of the few good things for you about the 1980s?

I loved The Cramps music. It’s all about making rock ‘n’ roll fun and sexy like it was when it first started.

What bands were you playing with in the beginning?

I was in the Famous Monsters and Frances was in the Pretty Flowers. We realised we weren’t getting to do what we wanted to do so we got together and started writing some songs.

There’s a lot of teasing banter on stage. Is it hard to do it with an ex?

It’s easier to banter on stage with Frances. We’ve known each other for over twenty years and we’re very relaxed around one another and that comes across on stage and we use it to get back at one another for any grievances we have with each other. There’s a lot of history that we’re still working through.

When I saw you at the Scala in London I was struck by the affection in the crowd for you. Does that rankle with your inner punk?

The Scala show was amazing, one of our favourite of that tour. It’s the kind of reaction you want from an audience and it make us excited and helps us raise our game to deliver the best gig possible.

What were you doing when you heard Kurt Cobain was covering your stuff?

I was working in a bar on Duke Street in Glasgow. I’d finished college, Frances and I had split, the band had broken up and I was feeling pretty down so to hear our music was being taken up be a band in America was pretty amazing news.

Are all the best songs written with only three chords?

Three chords work for us on most songs. We like to keep it simple and repetitive, catchy and fun. Not every song has to have three chords only but if you want to write short, snappy, punk, garage songs then it helps. I sent Frances some tunes I’d written, she sent me some and we decided what ones would work. We got together to write the lyrics and we would send new versions with new ideas back and forward to each other as MP3s and we would add our ideas and send it back. The lyric writing was the most fun part.

 How were your 1990’s?

The 1990’s were fun for a while. I had an exciting time in Captain America/Eugenius releasing records on Fire Records then Atlantic Records. I got to travel the world and play music. It was all going great but after Kurt killed himself the music industry changed and bands signed on the back of the grunge scene were swiftly dropped. We were about to sign to Nirvana’s management company but that was cancelled by them the week after Kurt died. The second half of the 90s were pretty miserable for Eugenius and we struggled on for a few years until we split. I started writing my solo album and then I found a new direction and inspiration.

Can we start the rumours about a third album yet?

No talk of album three as yet. We’ve no tunes.

Where does all the filthy talk come from?

We grew up in the era of comedy on TV were entendre was King (and Queen). Carry On movies, Dick Emery, Are You Being Served? and Frankie Howard. It must’ve rubbed off on us. We also love Viz and Finbar Saunders.

You’ve recently played with the Dum Dum Girls, how aware are you of your influence on younger bands?

We weren’t aware that there were any bands out there that were fans of ours until we started playing gigs again. It’s a great feeling to think that anybody is listening to your album, but knowing that musicians are listening and wanting to write songs because of your tunes is a very good feeling.

MOUSTACHE OF INSANITY INTERVIEW

You’ve been called “goofy conceptualists” by The New York Times and “two overgrown schoolboys running riot” by The Fly. Do you embrace these terms wholeheartedly?

Nik: I don’t really understand the meaning of “goofy conceptualists”, but yes I embrace it. Most definitely. With regards to the overgrown schoolboy riot thing, I just hope the reviewer meant “youthful/young at heart” rather than “fat adults behaving like children.”

You’ve self-released two EPs and had a mini-album on WeePOP! Records. Do you have any plans to release new material soon?

Nik: I’m not quite sure. I’d like to and I have quite a few songs written that are ready to be worked on, but there doesn’t really seem to be any time for it.

Bill: As soon as some time frees up I’m sure we’ll get to work on something new. I hope that it’ll be before the end of the year – I know I’ve got a day off in November. I think we tend to do things in bursts, so hopefully we’ll get really creative soon.

Do you enjoy the DIY aspect to self-releasing your songs? The physical copies of the Postcards to Strangers EP looked fantastic.

Nik: I love it. It’s nice to do something different and a bit unusual and I think people in general appreciate handmade things. Sometimes it feels like we’re putting too much effort into it. Like for the WeePOP! EP I made 160+ different badges to go with each copy, which took forever. But, then you get all this nice feedback from people and suddenly it makes it all worth it. Our profit margins are pretty ridiculous though. When we added all the costs I think one Postcards EP cost about £2.40 to make and we sell it for £3.

How is the song writing and music split between the two of you?

Nik: Well, we used to share the duties a bit more than we have recently. Bill is so busy with other things; he doesn’t really have much time to write. On the Knock Knock! Who’s There? EP he wrote two songs (“Cat Chicken” and “Adam Sandler”) and on the WeePOP! EP he wrote three (“Email Song”, “No Bills Club” and “Imagine”). I wrote all the songs on the Postcards EP. But, that’s just when it comes to lyrics. Since my musical skills are VERY limited, the creation of the songs is very much a collaborative effort. In general when I write the lyrics I have an idea of the melody and hum it to him during practise. He’ll figure out the chords for it, come up with some fancy-pants kick-ass guitar parts, do the drum programming and in general also come up with keyboard parts. I then either destroy these parts by simplifying them or just completely ignore them if they’re too difficult.

Bill: I like Nik’s lyrics very much. The best thing about them – as far as I can say – is that they’re unlike anyone else’s I’ve come across. I can’t think of anyone who writes like Nik. I do know loads of guitarists with laptops though.

Have you finally got all of the books on your Amazon wishlist?

Nik: Hmm… let’s see. From the things mentioned in the song I have bought an Araki book. I do have all films that Larry Clark has made, but none of his photo books yet. I stopped taking French classes, so there’s no need for that French dictionary. I got the David Berman poetry book. I also bought When I Was Five I Killed Myself and have been reading loads of books about cynical adults. So left to get is a book of Soviet propaganda posters, which I will get one day.

You recently returned from touring Denmark and Sweden. How was it?

Nik: Well, I’m in two minds about it. It was a lot of fun spending time with Allo Darlin’ and The Smittens, but I don’t think I would do it like that again. Initially, I decided to come along as a way of getting to spend some time with my girlfriend (Elizabeth of Allo Darlin’). But since both Bill and I would then be at the shows anyway, I just asked the promoters if Moustache could play as well. And of course they said yes. It’s kind of like when you buy something expensive and you get a freebie…like a tie rack. Everyone loves a freebie! And I don’t mind being a tie rack, but you do get a bit tired of it and sometimes it’s nice to be wanted by someone that actually needs a tie rack! Haha. Best analogy ever.

Bill: I enjoyed playing Moustache gigs in Europe very much. It was great because we started making up our setlist as we went along and in some cases were even able to play some requests. I was a bit scared of singing “Kaktus” the cover song we do in which I actually sing in Swedish, but it seemed to go okay.

What does the rest of the year have in store for Moustache of Insanity?

Nik: Well, we have few more shows coming up in the autumn and then we’ll just have to see what happens. I don’t think there’s much point in just playing the same songs over and over again so if we’re gonna keep doing the Moustache thing I would really like to record some new ones, a whole album even. But, it’s up to Bill really. He’s the man with more important responsibilities.

Bill: We’ll definitely record – we’ll find the time. When we were in the America in May, we met a guy who had his whole musical career planned out – from his first to his last album. He said his band was gonna be called The Tijuana Hot Cocks and the last record would be called Last Orders at The Cockbar. I think we’ve got to try and match that.

THE BLANCHE HUDSON WEEKEND INTERVIEW

How the did the band form in the wake of The Manhattan Love Suicides splitting?

The Manhattan Love Suicides split in July last year and for the next couple of months me and Caroline did nothing much at all. Caroline had finished all her vocals on the Ailsa Craig album, I’d contributed a bit of guitar to a handful of tracks on there, but suddenly there was nothing to do. It was actually quite a depressing time. We felt The Manhattan Love Suicides had made its point and it was time to move on, but we weren’t exactly sure what we were going to move on to. So we just started writing some new songs. Next thing we knew we were recording them with Pete from Horowitz, then the debut single came out, then we put a band together, recorded and released some more singles, played a couple of gigs… and here we are today.

Tell us about your track on the Odd Box Records Bless Me Iggy For I Have Sinned EP.

It’s called “Fever Van”. We wrote that just a few weeks ago, and we’ve played it at the three gigs we’ve done so far. It’s got that chugging, pounding feel about it that we really like. It’s just the same three chords over and over, all the way through the song. It’s quite noisy in parts, but it’s also poppy. You can definitely get on the dancefloor and jump about to it.

You recently played your first ever gig in London. How did it go?

It went pretty well. We were actually a bit nervous, mainly because there are six of us in this band, and that creates more opportunity for things to go wrong. But then we reminded ourselves that ramshackle and unpredictable gigs are always a lot more fun anyway, so we suddenly felt more relaxed about everything. It’s good when you see a band and it feels as if it might fall in on itself at any minute. We got a good crowd at that first gig. The sound could have been better, but then again, I personally always think that way.

You’re close friends with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart who you recently supported at the Buffalo Bar. How did that come about?

The gig couldn’t have been simpler. We just got a message from Sean at Fortuna Pop! asking us to play the gig as The Pains had requested us to do it. Me and Caroline said yes to it before we even checked to see if the rest of the band could play it. There was no way we would’ve turned that down. We’ve been good friends with The Pains for about three years now. We’ve played gigs together in the US and the UK, slept on their floors, drank all their beer. We always have a good time when we see them and it’s always great to just hang out with them and catch up on what we’ve all been doing.

You’ve released a few EPs so far rather than a debut album. Why did you take this approach rather than recording a long player?

After we’d recorded the first three tracks that appeared on the debut single, we just decided to get them out there as quick as possible for people to hear, rather than sit about and wait until we had enough material for a debut album. We also really like 7” singles. They’re a great snapshot, and you can get what you’re trying to say across. We’ll actually be starting work on the debut album though pretty soon.

Reverence, Severance and Spite is due out in October on Squirrel Records. What can we expect from the compilation?

All the single tracks released so far, and much louder than they appear on the vinyl. That’s one good thing about CDs – you can release your music without compromising the volume. We like to give people value for money too, so we’re recording a bunch of new songs to sit alongside the single tracks. There’ll be about 16 or 17 tracks on there in total.

You’re supporting The Primitives at the ICA in a few weeks time. Were they an influence on the band?

Definitely. The Primitives have just always been there. They were one of the first bands I really got into when I was about 14 or 15 years old, buying all their albums and singles from a great little second hand record shop in Leeds that’s now sadly closed down. Every band me and Caroline have been in has been compared with The Primitives. In a way, it feels like we finally should be sharing a stage with them. We’re all really looking forward to that gig.

They’ve followed a spate of mid-eighties bands that have recently reformed (The Wake, The Vaselines, Pooh Sticks etc.). Could you ever see either The Blanche Hudson Weekend or The Manhattan Love Suicides reforming in 25 years time?

To be honest, no. I never say never, but both myself and Caroline believe that when a band we’re in splits up, it should always remain that way. I’m not against other bands reforming if it works for them though, as long as they’re not just doing it for the money.

And finally, when will we hear “Grip of Fear” live?

Not sure. We’ll definitely play it at some point, but every time we try to play it when we get together, it sounds a bit… well… crap. I’m starting to think the version we captured in the studio that ended up on the single was a bit of a fluke.