Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Podcast #1: Loud and pop

My first podcast, brought to you by a day spent at home, in absolute silence.

Download the file here (37 MB) and please forgive the awful sound. I am rubbish at Audacity.

Tracklisting (38'10")

Helen Love - I love indie pop
Town Bike - Trouble fucken rocks
The Tony Head Experience - Debbie one
Bis - Starbright boy
All Girl Summer Fun Band - Tour heart throb
Bunnygrunt - Inanimate objects
Shop Assistants - Fixed grin
The Crabapples - Quality not quantity
The Parallelograms - Orchard Square
Dorotea - Kortedala
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The pains of being pure at heart
Horowitz - Judy is a punk
Fat Tulips - So surreal
Mika Bomb - Heart attack
Piney Gir - My generation
The Tidy Ups - Left behind

Hope you like it!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Stoke! is important

Back in 1995, I spent nearly a whole day in April sitting on the bed next to Jason, singer/guitarist of Vicarage Garden, who was suffering from a massive hangover. Vicarage Garden had just played their second show in Athens and I was interviewing him for my fanzine. It was miserable outside and I couldn't face going back home on the bus, so I sat there talking to Jason for ages while the promoter's mum (in whose flat the band were staying) kept bringing us tea and homemade cakes. The second issue of my fanzine never saw the light of day but I've still got that interview translated into Greek and I remember it was the first time someone mentioned Stoke-on-Trent to me. I was asking Jason about the indiepop scene in his hometown and he said that the last time Vicarage Garden had played in Stoke there were only 10 people there and the promoter stuck a gravestone made of cardboard in front of the stage that read INDIEPOP 1986-1994 R.I.P. I was shocked and appalled. Here they were in Athens, playing in front of 100 people, while back home, in bloody Stoke, no-one cared. I hated Stoke.

More than 10 years later, I found myself in Stoke and it was for pop. Pete, who used to be in The Rosehips, and Ian of The Mittens, were in a band called Horowitz and had also started putting on popshows in their hometown. I had nothing to lose apart from my hatred for Stoke - and I had almost forgotten about that. Stepping into the goth/rock/biker venue, faced by the immense sound on stage and the extra strong double house vodkas, I thought I was in a parallel universe where indiepop had gone all wrong. But it wasn't like that at all - and yes, no-one turned up at that first popshow but we had a brilliant time and stayed up late at Pete's house listening to pop and falling asleep talking about it. It was an important night.

Next time I went up to Stoke for a show there were a few more people there and I saw the Parallelograms for the first time and I kept grinning and grinning until my head started hurting. And the fine tradition of popshow curry started that night as well. Perfect in every way. Locked in a bubble of indiepop, thinking that this is how everything should be, is not a new thing for me, I've always been this way. I just never thought it could happen in Stoke too. The cardboard gravestone was truly irrelevant.

Going back there last Saturday evening, I took some time to walk around the bit of Stoke that's near the Glebe (the venue). The carpark was crammed but the streets were empty. It felt like a Sunday night, all quiet and eerie, threatening even - not that I've ever felt threatened in Stoke (well, apart from the horrible hangovers - bloody Stoke) and then, you know, as my talented indiepop friends started to arrive and there were hugs and jokes and glockenspiels, I knew I was lucky to be there, in that strange jigsaw puzzle of a city. And I know it could have been anywhere, it could have been in pretty Bristol, but it was important that it was in Stoke because indiepop is about politics and there that night, indiepop politics were making the biggest statement I could ever wish for: wide smiles, joyful drunkness, this matters. A lot. It works despite everything. And even the following day, when three wonderful people gave up their time to drive me to the bus station and there were no signs for it anywhere, and we were too shy to ask for directions, I still got there on time to catch my coach and even got a hug goodbye. Things work out in Stoke!

We are as one, we will never die, no we will never die.

Friday, November 16, 2007

[empty subject]

When I am sitting here trying really hard to convince myself that in a few days everything will seem a lot better and, y'know, it's all fine really, it's only a bad spell - well, it doesn't feel right. It's been the slowest, weirdest week and today I sneaked out of the office for my lunch break and came home because I needed to be on my own. For the first time in, I dunno, my life, I didn't put any music on and I haven't listened to any music for hours and hours. That's how emptiness feels.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Don't stop, I don't want to get off

It's difficult not to get frightened by life sometimes. It's difficult to sit quietly and watch the fireworks from the window on the eve of 5th November when everything seems to be rushing by. I am worried that I am missing out on all fronts. One day I am in Bristol, absolutely bloody amazed by its beauty, at the sight of Brunel's suspension bridge as it appears quite suddenly as you come up the hill to the Clifton observatory; and then sitting on Thekla with the sun in my eyes, sipping a drink and looking out on the front cover of Engine Common on one side, a row of coloured terraced houses sitting against the soft blue sky on the other, the seagulls flying around making the only audible sound and having a conversation about everyday life, the future, small things, big things, things that count for so much more than we give them credit for. Then having a peak at a life that I am missing out on, not quite sure if I am sad or relieved - not sure if the life I live is the right one even. Who is to say? Certainly not me.

I make a big fuss of small things: like when my friend decided to start putting popshows on in Sheffield, in my head that became a symbol of pop power and his decision was the quintessence of the pop spirit. I am always amazed when people make decisions like that because it reminds me that although we go through our lives alone, there is always a string that connects our hands, our brains, our hearts and moves us all to common directions. I felt like that when I saw and heard the A Smile and a Ribbon album as well: it just seems so big, so important, and yet it comes from hearts set to create small treasures, treasures that we can deal with. And in that sense, indiepop is as political as they come. The sense that people are trying and achieving and the benefits are nothing more than a round of drinks, or a sweet email of appreciation, or a night of absolute perfect enchantment in a grotty pub. We live a relative life. Relatively fantastic. And that scares me.


Here's an early Popguns demo, a small present. Does anyone know what the song is called?