Tarbeach Records – NYC Record Label

Tarbeach webTarbeach Records

Over the years, there have been a number of essential record labels with Scottish roots that have given rise to some unforgettable bands and their music.

The list is massive but everyone must be familiar with at least one of these:

  • Postcard (Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera)
  • Creation (Oasis, Ride, Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain, House of Love)
  • Creeping Bent (Vic Godard, Secret Goldfish, Alan Vega)
  • Chemikal Underground (Mogwai, The Delgados, Malcolm Middleton, Arab Strap)

And that is just scraping the surface.

Scottish Roots

Add a new one to that list – Tarbeach Records. Although NYC based, the label has Scottish roots and a number of Scottish bands on their release list.

To date they have an impressive back catalogue (see below) of releases from bands old and new – with much more to come.

ReAction Accelerator album cover
ReAction – Accelerator

I first came across the label when I bought the peerless debut album “Accelerator” by ReAction, but have since bolstered my Tarbeach collection somewhat.

In addition to the ReAction album mentioned, from a Scottish perspective, Tarbeach has been supported releases from the much touted Heavy Drapes and Glasgow’s legendary The Zips/Jonzip. These 3 bands recently played a sold out showcase gig “Kiss This” in Broadcast, Glasgow.

Kiss This Poster
Kiss This – Broadcast, Glasgow

Walter Stewart

I asked Walt Stewart about the origins of Tarbeach…

The label started in 2016. I had recorded an album in 2007 called “Thee New York Tarbeach Recordings”. It was an Avant-garde set. I continued to record as Thee Electric Fits, or Thee E-Fits or Thee EFF-its.

The reason for the labels existence is because I felt like doing something, more concentrated, other than these abstracted projects.

So from humble beginnings, the label has worked with a range if bands to get their product out there. Walt expanded on the ethos of the label.

This label was intended to be, and has become a self-functioning collective. I hope it is about giving bands a home and appreciating their efforts by releasing their music indiscriminately. That their effort is so natural, is nothing to do with the label at all. That’s the ethos.

We don’t have a roster (of bands), whatever is coming out will be on the website. We don’t have any CAPITAL to advertise ‘n stuff, if it’s out, it’s on the website.

All the more reason for anyone reading this to spread the word far and wide. If you need any encouragement – just listen to some of the bands that have released their music on Tarbeach. (See the list of releases below). I guarantee you’ll find something you like and be impressed by.

What about the music Walt likes?

I can swing from Miles (Davis), to Buttholes (Surfers), to Sparks, To GBV (Guided by Voices), to The Fall, to Milkshakes, to Pixies, to Reaction, to Monkey Don’t Care.

But most of all, I listen to the local scene. My fave bands of late are Pepper Kings, and GIFTSHOP.

On that note, being NYC based, Tarbeach naturally supports a diverse range of New York/US based bands, including some of those mentioned by Walt.

Again, NY and Glasgow have reflected activities around showcasing the bands on the label. As well as the recent gig in Glasgow there have been showcase gigs in NY in the last few months including Monkey Don’t Care, Pepper Kings and The Bowery Boys along with Golden Axe Attack and the Rose Pedals in Gussy’s Bar, Queens in June.

Tarbeach showcase gig June 2017 NYC
Tarbeach Showcase NYC

A truly international label. Loved by many on both sides of the Atlantic. Tarbeach artists regularly feature on Danny Mac’s Testifying Time Radio Show. On the other side of the pond, Walt (along with ReAction’s Joe Whyte) recently appeared on DJ Rob Select’s show

The label has also been involved in supporting Sonny Vincent and family after the much publicised tragedy that befell them. This was through the release of a compilation CD (details below) of bands associated with Tarbeach with funds raised going to the support fund.

Upcoming releases

Tarbeach has a busy few months ahead with a number of releases scheduled. Look out for the following exciting releases coming in the next few months:

October 31st:

Halloween sees the release of the second EP from Monkey Don’t Care:

Monkey Don't Care
Monkey Don’t Care

Monkey Don’t Care – “Pearl Necklace” CDEP – Tracks “She Goes Her Own Way”, “Slow But Sure Destruction”, “Lids of my Eyes” (Tar022)

3 great tracks of melodic alt-rock with distortion heavy vocals on a couple of the songs. “Slow but Sure Destruction” is a standout with its pleading opening bass over the sound of rain bringing a feeling of desolation but builds into a crashing epic song. “She Goes Her Own Way” brings the tempo back up again and is reminiscent of early REM.

November 17th:

(The) Meghan Taylor (fronted) quintet (GIFTSHOP) specializes in CBGB’s style punk mixed with 21st century pop hooks. GIFTSHOP’s dynamic live shows have earned them prime festival slots.

Giftshop band picture
GIFTSHOP

GIFTSHOP – “Despicable”/”Dontcha Know” – AA blue vinyl 7” (Tar020)

“Despicable” with its driving guitars and plaintive vocals is a straightforward fuck you to an asshole who thinks he does “the things that make him likeable”, but is really just ”despicable”. A fantastic 3 and a half minute romp. “Dontcha Know” shows a softer side to the band – more ballad like and with a real 50’s feel to it. Definitely not aimed at the subject of “Despicable”. Brilliant.

December 25th:

Pepper Kings – “Pepper Kings” debut CD album (Serial No TBC)

Pepper Kings band picture
Pepper Kings

I want to say the Pepper Kings are quirky. I can’t think of a better word to describe them, their sound is unconventional and often eccentric (Hoot Owl).

It would be difficult to pigeon-hole Pepper Kings. While not necessarily sounding like them – the band are off the wall in the way bands like XTC, Devo and Talking Heads are – doubtlessly a good thing.

The vocals at times reminiscent of varied vocalists like Jello Biafra, Calvin Johnson and Fred Schneider. Like Dead Kennedys, there is a serious side to the songs too, with “Casinos Mean Jobs” making a deliberate political statement.

You will categorically not be bored listening to Pepper Kings. I’ve only heard a selection of the songs from the album, but I look forward to hearing more.

(Date – TBC):

ReAction – “Out of My head” b/w “Crystallised Radio” 7” white vinyl (Tar013)

Reaction live picture
ReAction – Live

ReAction are a phenomenal band both live and on record. The energy from Big Carson is second to none and the song-writing and music is sophisticated and varied. The 2 tracks here showcase different sides to the band with “Out of My Head” being an in your face punk rock romp. ”Crystallised Radio” on the flip side is a dub remix of Accelerator album track “Crystal Radio” and follows on from Fireball in Dub (Warped Plan Remix) on the album.

I am excited for the future of Tarbeach and hope to see many more releases coming from the label continuing with the variety of music styles as they have to date.

Thanks to Walt and all the bands for the time and effort they put in to get their music out there to the masses.

I’ve linked to bands Facebook pages/websites throughout where possible.

Get the above releases and the back catalogue from the website – Tarbeach Music. You can find them on social media too – Facebook and Twitter

Back catalogue

Tar002Electric Fits – Opposable Thumbs (album) CD/DL

Tar003 – Electric Fits – Sonic Metamorphine b/w Being One (single) DL only

Tar005 – ReAction – Accelerator (album) – CD/DL

Tar007 – ReAction – Hey Patty Hearst/Heavy Drapes – Into the Blue AA split 7” red vinyl

Tar010/ Tar010CD – Heavy Drapes – Should I Suck EP – amber vinyl/Heavy Drapes – Should I Suck EP – CD/DL

Tar011 – Double pack of Tar007 & Tar010

Tar012EP – ReAction – Old School Rules EP – CD/DL

Tar013 – ReAction – Out of My Head – single – white vinyl – Final Release date TBC

Tar014/Tar014CDEX – Jonzip/The Zips 19 Forevva/Barbara Wire AA split 7” green vinyl/Jonzip/The Zips – CD EP with 2 extra hidden tracks – different colour sleeves

Tar015 – Triple Distilled – pack of Tar007/Tar010 & Tar014

Tar016 – Tarbeach Compilation – No Animals Were Harmed During Any Recordings – CD/DL

Tar018 – Monkey Don’t Care – “I Hear What You’re Saying But I Just Don’t Care” 3 Track EP – CD/DL

Tar019 – The Bowery Boys – “EP#1” 5 track EP – CD/DL

Tar020 – GIFTSHOP – Despicable/Don’t’cha Know – AA single – blue vinyl (released 17/11/2017)

Tar021 – The Pepper Kings – “EP#1” 4 track EP – CD/DL

Tar022 – Monkey Don’t Care – “Pearl Necklace EP” – CD/DL (released 31/10/2017)

 

 

Theatre of Hate and Southern Approach – Live at The Bungalow, Paisley

Theatre of Hate October 2017

Three firsts for me tonight.

First time in The Bungalow, first time I’ve seen Southern Approach live & first time I’ve see Theatre of Hate live.

The Bungalow, Paisley

The Bungalow didn’t let me down.

Unassuming from the outside, but a perfect intimate venue for a gig inside. The venue has loads of great vantage points to watch the bands and with a great line up of acts due to visit, I’m sure I’ll be back

Southern Approach

"<yoastmark

Southern Approach didn’t let me down.

The Kilmarnock band had formed over 30 years ago but split up before they released an album, due to public demand according to frontman Munro. They reformed last year, recorded and released their debut album “Restitution”. The album is packed full of epic songs which we were treated to tonight.

"<yoastmark

The band ripped through their 10 tracks, kicking things off with album opener “Break in The Circle”. Munro has a commanding voice complemented by luscious harmonies from Shirley Guthrie. The band were tight through their set and treated us to one hook laden track after another. Songs like “Shake” & “Killing Fields” & “The Traveller” are titanic soundscapes with instantly memorable refrains.

"<yoastmark

Judging by the number of CDs they shifted on the night, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed their set. This was great for the band as tonight’s gig was a big deal for them having originally been called Legion after the Theatre of Hate song of the same name.

Theatre of Hate

Theatre of Hate live
Theatre of Hate live in The Bungalow

And to complete the set, Theatre of Hate didn’t let me down either. I’d seen Kirk Brandon live before in various guises, but this was the first time I’d seen Theatre of Hate.

It was a different story for the majority of tonight’s packed out crowd. Bass legend Stan Stammers mentioning having played the original incarnation of the Bungalow 30+ years ago. From the reaction of the gathered masses, there were a fair number present who had been at that gig.

Theatre of Hate live
Theatre of Hate live

The band of Kirk Brandon. Stan Stammers, Adrian Portas and Chris Bell with Clive filling John “Boy” Lennard’s shoes were on prime form. The 18 tracks played at the gig borrowed from the entire back catalogue of the band, including 5 tracks from 2016’s Kinshi. The newer songs sat perfectly alongside the old Theatre of Hate favourites.

Classic tracks

Right from the off the intensity was pronounced. The opening trio of classics, “Rebel Without a Brain” and debut single “Original Sin” sandwiching “Black Irony” from Kinshi, set out the bands manifesto for the rest of the gig.

Theatre of Hate live
Theatre of Hate live

The sax is a fantastic instrument when played well, and tonight was a great example. There was no John “Boy” Lennard tonight due to family circumstances (thoughts are with John) but Clive ably filled his shoes. Not many alternative/rock bands can get away with a sax player. With Theatre of Hate, it is vital part of their sound. A perfect foil to the power of the bands lyrics and crashing guitars.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Kirk introduced “My Own Invention” as “a tender song about mass murderers”. The band followed it up with “The Maintenance Man” a song about “the ones who clean up after them” complete with a nod to Harvey Keitel’s roles in Point of No Return and Pulp Fiction.

Kirk Brandon live
Kirk Brandon

Brandon alternated between playing guitar and dancing in his unique style when not playing. Taking to the side of the stage at times to give the rest of the band their place, he was evidently lost in the music. At one point I did think that he and Richard Jobson could challenge each other to a dad dance-off.

Unfortunately for him, no-one took him up on his request for ice cream at the start of “Triumph” which he introduced as “(sounding) like ice cream music to me”.

Energy

One of my own personal favourites, “Judgement Hymn” notched the atmosphere up a level. There was a discernible increase in the energy and exuberance from much of the assembled hoard.

As the band reached the climax of their set with “Poppies”, “Solution” and “Legion” there was an outbreak of vigorous dancing in the “pit”. This initially created a bit of tension which threatened to spill over, this was picked up by Kirk who urged the crowd not to “hurt each other”.

In the main though, the atmosphere was good natured. Everyone finding their place and enjoying the gig in their own way. As the band returned for the brace of “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” and “Propaganda”, I turned round and saw a sea of people with huge smiles on their faces. Energetic dancing and singing continued right to the end with a rush of people looking to shake the bands hands before they exited.

A great night’s entertainment. As I said hello to a few folk before I left, I heard a number uttering phrases like “gig of the year”. Proof if needed that the auld yins can still show the youth how to do things right.

Julie Hamill – Frank (debut novel)

Julie Hamill

Many of you will know Julie from her Morrissey connections. From Mozarmy to  her book “15 Minutes with You”.

“Frank” is her first novel. The first in a series of three following the lives of a family in 1980s Airdrie.

Frank

The book tells the story of recently widowed Frank. The tale of how he, and daughter Jackie, are dealing with the many and varied challenges life is throwing at them after the death of his wife June.

I found myself drawn into Franks life from the off. The novel is an emotional rollercoaster with laugh out loud moments & happy events to bringing you to the brink of tears. Franks grief is palpable throughout, as is the comfort he gains from his interactions with deceased wife, June.

Julie on Grief

Julie: “I’ve noticed that when loved ones die, the grieving continue to look for signs to keep them close and remembered. E.g. if a robin lands on a bush, a feather floats down, if a song plays, a bee buzzes past, people believe these are signs from the deceased. When my daughter was accepted to a good school, I nodded towards the sky, feeling that my mother in law Bridget was keeping an eye on her, and this was her doing. Why do we do this? Perhaps it’s a way of entering a period of what might be called ‘a smiling grief. Frank is at the beginning of his path; June might be a ghost, she might be the strength of his grief, or she might be something else, but Frank is missing her and I love that she is sending him comfort, somehow”

As someone who grew up in the 80s, I could really visualise Frank’s home and the type of man he is. He is “old school” and very much looked after by wife June (with a bit of a twist which I’m sure we will discover more about in follow up novels) and other women in his life – daughter Jackie & neighbour Mrs Morrison cooking, cleaning and shopping for him.

Frank is finding adapting to life without June difficult. He needs her ongoing support, in whatever way he can find it, to get through.

All the settings in the novel – from the bookies to the working men’s club and other references, like trying to find a working phone box to make an urgent call were all exquisitely described. I felt I was there and picture what was going on in every scene.

JULIE ON THE SETTING: AIRDRIE

“I had to set the book somewhere and I felt it had to be Airdrie, where I lived from aged nine to seventeen. I confess I’ve only been inside the Workmen’s once when I was 14 and The Black Dog is made up. I have no idea of bus numbers – we walked everywhere. From Central Park to Cromarty Road and Chapel Street to Victoria Place. We spent a lot of time in Cairnhill woods climbing in through a broken window of the Cairnhill Hotel and playing hide and seek. I left Airdrie but it never left me. My mum and dad left too, they jetted off to… Coatbridge”

While the novel is set in Airdie, I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to the type of situations and locations described by Julie. You don’t need to know Airdrie. Personally, I’ve been in a number of working men’s clubs in deepest Lanarkshire over the years and felt myself transported back to them.

For any fans out there looking for connections to Morrissey be warned this isn’t a book about the Smiths. However, that’s not to say you won’t find anything Smiths related in it…

Summary

I’d highly recommend Frank to all. In summary, a poignant and tenderly told human interest story that I’m sure many will be able to relate to.

Like any great read, I was so immersed in the book, I felt disappointed when I got to the end. Frank was an extended part of my life for the time I was reading about him. I look forward to the next in the trilogy of tales of Frank, June and Jackie.

PUBLISHING DETAILS

Frank is due for a November 7th release and will be published by Saron Publishing.

http://www.saronpublishers.co.uk/

Facebook: saronpublishers

Twitter: @SaronPublishers

AUTHOR DETAILS: JULIE HAMILL

Other Books: 15 Minutes With You

http://www.juliehamill.com/

TWITTER: @juliehamill.

The Screens “Jennifer Jones” new single

The Screens

The Screens are duo, Neil and Colin. They have a long background in creating and producing music for TV shows and films. This project is their opportunity to have the “creative freedom” to make their own music and share it with the world. They don’t let the fact they live thousands of miles apart impact their ability to create their music.

They are currently in the process of recording a debut album for release in 2018

Colin : “When we wrote (first single) “Avalanche” we discovered our sound for this album. We’d written lots of songs that we liked but it wasn’t until we finished Avalanche that we discovered what The Screens were about. We found our style and it created the entire backdrop for the album we are currently finishing”.

Neil : “Our film music background was something we subconsciously were avoiding. A lot of what we were writing was relevant to other artists and what the market is into at the moment but it never sat well with us. When we wrote “Avalanche” it was our eureka moment. Within days of finishing it we had another 5 songs written and we were desperate to get back into the studio to get them down”.

Jennifer Jones (Paintbox Records)

The Screens  second single “Jennifer Jones” is released on Friday 13th October. Strangely appropriate for the song…

On first listen Jennifer Jones has a driving guitar intro not dis-similar to London Calling. The multi-layered instrumentation then builds and what you get is a vast sophisticated orchestral-like soundscape.

The lyrics are passionately delivered and on first listen they appear to tell an effervescent story of love lost.

However, watch the video in conjunction with the song and you completely re-assess the lyrics. The message behind the song is much bleaker than it first appears. I won’t give it away – watch it.

Think 90’s ostentatious alt-pop from bands like Rialto and My Life Story and you wont be far from the mark. The music has a radiance & lustre to it but with a twist giving it a dark side making it a much more compelling offering.

“Jennifer Jones” is a toxic blend of flambuoyant and theatrical pop whilst tipping it hat to 60’s and 70’s film and TV characterisation.

It’s infectious and memorable yet still resonates with the darker elements of The Screens that were abundant in their first single.

Go to iTunes/or Amazon to purchase The Screens releases or stream on Spotify from 13th October.

The Video

Colin : “It’s fantastic to make an record when you really don’t care how it’s perceived commercially.

We’re in an enviable position where we don’t have an A&R man or marketing executive telling us what we should be producing. That extends further into how we produce our videos”.

Neil : “Were we signed to a major label there is no way we would have been given the funding to make the video we made for Jennifer Jones. I’ve worked for a major label and there’s no way we’d allow a video featuring sex, drug taking and overdosing to be made with a mainstream act.

We’ve not done it for any other reason apart from the fact it is what the song is about. A story of a girl who falls helplessly in love with a guy who manipulates her mind and destroys her independence.

There’s no way of telling this story any other way. It had to be dark.”

Website and contact details

The rest of 2017 will be incredibly busy for The Screens, between promoting Jennifer Jones, finishing off the album and working on the video for their third single.

Follow the band on facebook and twitter (@thescreens2). For more information go to their website.
 

Writing as Therapy

CBT (Cognitive behavioural Therapy)

I recently completed 12 weeks of CBT. Some of the sessions were exceedingly difficult. I would even go as far as to say the initial sessions made me feel worse. It was a number of sessions in before I started beginning to feel positive.

I know now this was to be expected as my counsellor spent time unearthing my core beliefs to enable me to work on the correct solutions. These solutions are what are ultimately allowing me to manage my anxiety and depression. It was not however an easy trip to get there and accepting my core beliefs wasn’t something I readily did.

Its good to talk

It is difficult to put yourself out there, open up to someone and talk about what is causing you to feel, think and behave the way you do. However, I found that once I could do it, there was a realisation about how cathartic it was and then it was like taking the lid off of a pressure cooker.

During my sessions, we explored different strategies and opportunities for me to use to manage my anxiety. Some things I tried didn’t work, others did. I had to experiment with different ways of dealing with my thoughts, feelings and behaviours. I’ve blogged previously about meditation which is just one of the methods I use.

We talked a lot about having a focus on something that was totally unrelated to all the things that we had explored that had brought on my anxiety. Of course, I still had to face all of these things as they are part of daily life, and I have strategies in place now that help me manage these.

regression

However, one thing I feared and discussed with my therapist was that I’d had a similar experience in the past and similarly, I had strategies in place. Over the years as I felt better, I let some of these good behaviours slip and ultimately stopped doing them.

I didn’t realise this at the time, but now as I reflect back, it was an unconscious decision not to do some of these things, but directly associated with improved mood and lack of anxiety.

I now liken it to the times you go to the doctor and they give you a prescription to take for a specified period of time, but you stop taking them as soon as you feel better. The result being that your symptoms return as you haven’t taken the advice of your GP.

I had fallen back into old habits that I believed were helping me but were essentially exacerbating my issues.

I’ve now realised that for me to stay on an even keel, I need to ensure that I keep up the strategies that work for me and not let them drop. I needed something to ensure that I maintained my focus.

This is where the writing comes in.

Returning to what I said earlier about having something to focus on, we explored the things I usually enjoyed doing. We talked about my love of reading, of listening to music, of going to gigs and so on.

At my lowest points though, I couldn’t read books. The words didn’t make sense, I couldn’t concentrate as I was thinking about too many other things. Even listening to music or going to gigs didn’t give me the same enjoyment as they had. I felt guilty all the time if I was doing anything that I deemed as non-productive, but that is for another blog.

Writing a diary

During the weeks I was having sessions with my therapist, I had kept a diary. The main reason for this was to record how I was thinking, feeling and acting, trying to identify what was causing this and as the weeks went on, recording what I was doing that made a difference. Again, this wasn’t easy to start with and I found it hard to write anything on some days as I felt nothing.

As the weeks passed, however, I found that it was actually the writing itself that was one of the things making me feel better. It was a channel to get the negativity out of my head. It was something to focus on that was different from the norm and allowed me to empty my head of thoughts. Something that I hadn’t been able to do for some time.

I reflected about this over the following weeks and about what we had talked about in my sessions. Core beliefs, thoughts I’d had, decisions I’d made, ways I’d behaved and things that should be giving me joy. An idea formulated in my head.

I started working in a bank when I was 16. I have always loved music and being creative, but my parents, with the best of intentions, had instilled the belief in me that I needed to get a “secure job, a job for life”. 20 years later I was still there, I’d got to the stage that I was scared to do anything else as I knew nothing else. Redundancy gave me the opportunity to go and do something else, but I stayed in my comfort zone, different industry but same type of job.

It would be wrong for me to regret anything I have done, that would be like me giving in to my anxieties and living in the past. However, I wish I had been courageous, followed my dreams and done something music related when I was younger, even if it hadn’t been my job, just something that would have given me a sense of achievement.

I used to listen to John Peel and think that he had the ideal job, listening to music for a living and sharing his love for it with others, discovering new bands and being excited by them.

starting a blog

So, I decided, that if I couldn’t be a DJ, I would start a blog. My theme would be music and mental health.

I’d use the blog to write about the music and the bands I loved and that brought me joy. I’d use it to share what I love with others but also, and importantly, it would give me a focus on things that weren’t work and normal day-to-day life. A release of sorts.

I would also use it to write about mental health and things that had affected me. About things I’d done to control my anxieties. Writing about it would also help me to keep focussed on what I need to do to control my anxieties and no allow myself to go back down that road again.

When I started, it was essentially a vehicle to focus my mind. To give me something to think about to avoid “just thinking”.

But, I enjoyed the challenge of setting up the blog, of writing and editing my first posts. I enjoyed the satisfaction of sharing these and having people actually read them.

I hadn’t really fully considered that side of things. It was intended, as I’ve said, as more of a release. Once I started though, I realised just how much I enjoyed the writing, and the more I did the more I wanted to do.

The other thing writing has done for me is opened up more opportunities. I’ve had posts reproduced on other sites, I’ve had opportunities to write reviews for music sites and magazines. I’ve also had bands approaching me to ask me to review singles. It has improved my self-confidence.

What differences do I see?

Well, when I leave work now of an evening, I leave work.

I used to take it home with me. And what I mean by that is not necessarily physically taking work home, opening my laptop and sending e-mails. But taking it home mentally. Spending all night analysing what happened during that day, berating myself for anything that went wrong, focussing on the negatives, planning the next day in my head, down to working out word for word conversations I would have.

As a result I didn’t communicate at all well with my family. I could watch TV programmes with my wife and have no idea what I’d watched. I’d not sleep properly as my mind was overactive and would snap and shout at my kids for no reason.

I now spend my journey home from work thinking about things I am looking forward to. I do actually look forward to things. My communication is better with my family. My mind is not overactive, I’m not over-analysing or over thinking everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and have to work hard sometimes to not go backwards.

The thing with my blog though is, it is MY blog. There are no deadlines or actions plans or to do lists. I control what goes on and when.

It is not like work where I have targets, deadlines and constantly changing requirements. However, I know I am also more productive at work now than I was. I’m focusing on what needs to be done rather than dwelling on what has happened or what might happen.

In the past, the more time I spent over thinking, over-analysing, worrying, planning, re-planning, changing and checking, the less productive I became. I’m not saying that I think I won’t ever do any of these things again. I know I will and I have done since. But I know that when it happens, I can deal with it. As long as I focus on the right things.

For now, things are going well and as long as I am writing and have this release. I believe that will continue.

What’s next?

Around 20 years ago, I started writing a book. I never got further than the first chapter though. Maybe that will change……

Duncan Reid & the Big Heads – Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow 6th October 2017

Duncan Reid & the Big Heads

I’d been looking forward to this gig since the 3rd of December last year. Well, technically this gig hadn’t been announced then, but it was the day after the last Duncan Reid gig and I was still pumped. If anyone has followed previous posts they’ll know I rated it as one of my gigs of 2016.

On that occasion the support bands were Mercury long-list nominees The Media Whores and fast rising Scottish punks with a masterplan, Heavy Drapes.

That night saw all 3 bands put in top class performances so the last gig had a lot to live up to.

They have all had a great year since then.

media Whores, Heavy Drapes and Duncan Reid and the Big heads – since last year

As mentioned Media Whores were long-listed for the Mercury Music Prize with their 3rd album, “Dangerous Minds”. Post punk with a conscience, the album is packed full of songs on a variety of subjects with some well-constructed lyrics and the tunes to back them up. I recently interviewed the band – you can read this here.

Heavy Drapes and Duncan Reid & the Big Heads have both gigged relentlessly and had acclaimed performances at this year’s Rebellion Festival. Heavy Drapes with their first appearance on the main stage. Duncan Reid & the Big Heads playing on more than one occasion including an impromptu extra performance. They have also releasing a sumptuous 3rd album in “Bombs Away”.

There had been a lot of promotion and interest in the gig on social media in the run up so the anticipation was undeniable.

Nice n sleazy – 6th October 2017

As I walked into the venue, there were a number of familiar faces outside and a friendly face at the door in “Main” man and gig organiser Alex “Mainy” Main. As I ordered a drink at the bar I noticed that Mainy made a point of making everyone that arrived feel welcome. This was going to be more of an event than a normal gig.

WESTGAP

Being the all-round great guy that he is, he’d also arranged a collection for WESTgap. WESTgap are “an anti-poverty community group providing independent advice, information and advocacy relating to welfare rights, housing, homelessness, benefits, sanctions, fuel poverty, work, rent arrears and more.” A fantastic organisation providing an unfortunately much needed service in this day and age. Find out more about them and how you can help on their website.

As I stood and took in the surroundings, noticing the place filling up I was pleased to see how many regular friendly faces there were but also many more that I don’t know. I’m always pleased to see bands well-supported, if we don’t support live music we’ll see bands not able to continue and venues closing as has happened around the UK.

It has already been mentioned on social media, but it was satisfying to see how many members of other bands were in the crowd. I think it says a lot about the respect and high esteem in which Duncan Reid is held.

3 Minute Heroes

And so to the music. I said this wasn’t going to be a normal gig and I was proved right by opening act “3 Minute Heroes”.

A band of which I’ve heard loads of great things but never seen live before. Based on what I saw, it won’t be the last time. To call them a covers band would be doing them a dis-service. Yes, they play covers but they make them their own.

Their set was a run through of classic punk/new wave tracks such as “Sound of the Suburbs”, “Oliver’s Army”, “Beat My Guest” and “Ever Fallen in Love” amongst many others. I have to say one of the highlights of their set for me was a punked up version of ABBA’s “Does Your Mother Know”. They followed that with “Hungry Like the Wolf”. Is it wrong that I knew all the words to both these songs?

That was the audience clearly warmed up.

I mentioned the presence of members of other bands in the audience. It was also great to see the other 2 bands watching and clearly enjoying 3 Minute Heroes set.

Heavy Drapes

Next it was the turn of punks on the rise, and one of last year’s supports, Heavy Drapes. I’ve seen Heavy Drapes on several occasions recently and they just seem to get better and better. This was their second Glasgow gig with new(ish) bassist Paul Research after their appearance at Kiss This in Broadcast in September, his first gig with the band. Paul has settled in well and has added his own influence to the band with his “rollerbass” beefing up the sound.

The band played all the, by now, familiar tracks – all 4 from their debut EP along with other live favourites such as “Janie” and “Lets Free the Working Class”. The latter always has the crowd singing along to the “Up against the wall” refrain and is one of my live favourites.

DeLiberate dedicated “New York” to his dad before the band ripped through the song while he channelled the spirit, filth and fury of Rotten. They romped through “Get Your Head Skrewed On” and fan favourite and often set-closer “I Wanna be Maladjusted”.

That wasn’t the end though, they finished with a fine cover of “Search & Destroy” joined by friend of the band Chris on backing vocals. I’m sure that anyone that was there to see the headline act and caught Heavy Drapes for the first time will be a convert.

Next up for Heavy Drapes – a support slot for many peoples “favourite Pistol” Glen Matlock.

Set list:

Number 1/Should I Suck or Should I Blow/Into the Blue/New York/Janie/Nightrippin’/Hanging Like a Suicide/Muchos Respectos/Lets Free the Working Class/Get Your Head Skrewed on/(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted/Search & Destroy

And so to the main event. Headliners:

 

Duncan Reid & the Big Heads.

The last time I saw them they provided the lucky gathering with a masterclass in entertainment.

Tonight it was equalled…..and surpassed. The band were ebullient and dynamic throughout the set. Not only are they accomplished musicians and songwriters but they really look as if they are enjoying every minute of what they do.

Kicking off with the high octane opening track from Bombs Away, “Can’t Stop” they maintained the fire and spirit throughout. The title is appropriate as Duncan literally can’t stop, he bounces around the stage with more zest than bands half his age.

Next we’re off for a whistle-stop tour of “Montevideo” and I think we’d all like to join him for cocktails in the Clash City Rockers bar.

Power Punk with Pop Sensibilities

Duncan & the band write tracks that should be blasting from every radio station around the world and they deserve to be massive. Their accomplished power punk with pop sensibilities is addictive and easy to fall in love with. Sophie K Powers is an incredible guitarist, Nick Hughes a welcome addition to the band since the last time I saw them live and Karen Jones the powerhouse at the back keeping things together. And of course Mr Reid, bass genius and vocalist extraordinaire.

Just ask the youngsters (Jesus – how old does that make me sound!) that Mainy brought down from the bar who danced and sang throughout the set even though they had never heard the songs before.

The songs keep coming. The audience hanging on every word – and singing along including perfect “sha la la lee’s” on “C’est La Vie”.

I can’t possibly pick out one highlight in a set that was just one big highlight. “Thinking”, however, is a favourite of mine and as Duncan started the bass line recognised immediately by the gathered masses, it was obvious that it was loved by many more.

“Just Because You’re Paranoid” was introduced as a song he couldn’t imagine being played live when he wrote it, but is now a staple in their live set. Pure pop perfection with its effervescent keyboard parts and its Madness-esque sound.

bombs away!

The bombastic glam stomp that announces “Bombs Away” is another welcome intro and what a song it is. All masterful driving drums from Karen Jones, glam-tastic guitar riffs and melodic ooo-eee-ooo’s but with an eerily ominous message based on the idiot currently in charge at the White House.

And they kept coming…”Kelly’s Gone Insane”, “C’mon Josephine” (co-written with Andrew Matheson) and “That’s Just the Way It Is” continued the high-spirited performance.

Nick Hughes took centre stage and lead vocals for a well-received version of The Boys classic “Brickfield Nights” which resulted in a lively response from the crowd.

A vibrant and spirited “Soda Pressing” followed. Perhaps too vibrant as Duncan managed to break a string on his bass. A short lull ensued while quick repairs and temporary borrowing of Paul’s rollerbass took place. Nick ad-libbed and joked about that being the reason he wasn’t a song writer.

impromptu worm song

While repairs continued we were treated to an impromptu “Worm Song” which brought smiles to faces and an exuberant sing-along.

With borrowed bass, Duncan introduced “a song about 1977…..” before – well you know what song followed then…..

Another Boys classic – “First Time” with Duncan making a foray into the crowd all chanting along to the “oh oh oh” refrain. Phenomenal.

With curfew fast approaching it was a quick punktastic journey around “One Night in Rio” before the last blast of The Boys Hollywood Brats cover “Sick on You”. This saw euphoria breaking out with a pogoing frenzy and vigorous singalong.

There were smiles on faces all around – band and punters – as the gig finished. Tonight was an event that was not to be missed and definitely repeated.

gig of 2017?

I’ve seen some cracking gigs this year. Is this contender for my gig of 2017? You bet it is. Massive kudos to Mainy for putting it on again. What time next year?

As we all drifted away into the night, I met a lovely bloke who had just moved from Hamburg to Hamilton. He’d asked for directions to Central, but I ended up walking down with him. A massive Boys fan, he’d been looking on the internet and came across tonight’s event. He raved about the gig and we had a brilliant chat about the music scene in Glasgow/Scotland, he was stoked about what was coming up. We could have talked for hours! A lovely way to end a superlative evening.

Setlist: Can’t Stop/Montevideo/TCP/C’est La Vie/Baby Doll/Lets Skip to the Good Bit/Thinking/Just Because You’re Paranoid/Rolling On/Bombs Away/Kelly’s Gone Insane/C/mon Josephine/That’s Just the Way it is/Brickfield Nights/Soda Pressing/The Worm Song/’77/First Time/One Night in Rio/Sick on You

Ian Donaldson – Interview – “A Rainbow in the Basement” & “….And Then The Stars”

Ian Donaldson

There has recently been a lot of activity from one of Scotland’s stars of the 80’s – Ian Donaldson. Those of a certain age will remember him being the front-man for H20 with their chart hits with “I Dream to Sleep” and “Just Outside of Heaven”. (Good excuse to put this here….)

Ian has returned recently with a debut novel “A Rainbow in the Basement”. On the music front, he has also been back in the studio recording a solo album due for release early next year and has announced a couple of album launch gigs in Glasgow.

He was recently kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Ian, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this. When I first saw your debut novel last year and then saw the name of the author I was pleased to see you back albeit in a slightly different direction, but still in the creative arts.

A Rainbow in the Basement

thegingerquiff: “Rainbow in the Basement” is out now on paperback, I bought it last year when it came out and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book is set across 2 locations – Glasgow and the USA. Without giving any of the plot away, what was your inspiration for the book?

Ian Donaldson: It all started with a dream I have about 20 years ago. I woke up and scribbled down what I could remember of it. Strangely enough the same thing happened the following night.

I had the start of the book. From there it was, let’s see where Matthew wants to go and what does he want to say and who will he meet? I tried not to force anything and ideas and conversations just seem to follow.

tgq: I also started writing a book 20 years ago but I’ve not got very far! I keep going back and re-writing the first chapter every now and again. May be I can take some inspiration from you.

How long did it take to write? What was your writing process – were you disciplined and set aside time or was it just as the muse took you?

ID: We must have started writing about the same time Neil!

I don’t mean to make it sound easy – it wasn’t. I’ve lost count of the number of times I rewrote it and then put it away – unhappy and frustrated because it wasn’t ‘right’ – only to bring it out again and go back to the start.

I don’t know how to give in once I’ve started something. A curse and a blessing I suppose.

And yes – when I was working on it I was disciplined. I fought sleep and stole time to get it done.

(I detect a theme here – it started with a Dream…. You fought Sleep to get it done.)

tgq: I’ll bear all that in mind. I have enjoyed writing my blog since I started and I’m keen to get back to writing the book. Watch this space (maybe in another 20 years….)

What about a follow up to “Rainbow..”– have you any more books in the pipeline?

ID: I have started the follow up to Rainbow and another idea. It also deals with fantasy and reality, history and magic. And people.

tgq: I’m not going to give any of the plot away, I’d just encourage people to seek it out and read it for themselves. I look forward to reading your next book.

Just to whet your appetites if you haven’t read it though, here is some insight from the back cover of the book:

“…And Then The Stars”

tgq: I mentioned at the start that you have a new album coming out. Most people will know you from being the vocalist with H20 who had some memorable songs in the 80s – debut single “Hollywood Dream”, hit singles “I Dream to Sleep” & “Just Outside of Heaven” along with later singles “Take my Breath Away” & “Blue Diamond” amongst others. Also a memorable solo version of the Walker Brothers “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”.

I know you’ve played a couple of live dates recently as well as being out and about promoting your book. You have just announced your solo album “….And Then the Stars” will be released on Toy Town records early next year. Tell me more about the album – how did it come about?

ID: I have been working on new songs for the last few years. In between the times when Rainbow was in the cupboard due to my frustration and inability to know how to improve it!

Like the words and conversations in the book I decided to let the lyrics ‘out’ – for them to come from whatever direction they wanted to begin from and then shape them instead of writing for a market – oh, the people who liked H20 may like this or that.

It’s 30 years later, we’ve all grown, had families, experienced love and loss and ill health and had time to reflect on life. All the songs on the album tell a different story. Some are dark. Some are uplifting. Exploring different emotions.

tgq: I look forward to hearing the fruits of your labours. You were also part of Scottish “super-group” Four Good Men – tell us about how that came about and what are your highlights from that time?

ID: That came about by chance. I was DJing in a club. I got friendly with one of the stewards. He knew Derek Forbes from Simple Minds and suggested we meet.

We did and hatched a plan to form a band of musicians who had been successful before to do our best known songs. Enter Bruce Watson from Big Country and Smiley who played drums with Robbie Williams. It was a bit of a revolving door at times due to people’s availability so Kirk Brandon, Jim Prime, Graham Duffin, Malk Button, Steve Harris and Jane Button were some of the others who were involved.

We had some great times. Touring Canada and the US was fun. Playing festivals was pretty special. And writing some new songs that we played live for a time was very satisfying.

tgq: How does it feel to be back playing your own music again?

ID: Only one answer to that question Neil – the BEST feeling.

Not only to be playing the new songs, but to be performing some H20 favourites too. And being able to ask musicians that are wildly talented and who are also my friends is a great position to be in.

Being signed to a new label – Toy Town Records is a good feeling. Head of Toy Town is Gordon McNeil. He is also co-producing the album. He is very supportive and creative. The ideal place for me to be.

tgq: I know you have planned some live dates to support the album, tell us more about these.

ID: I have 2 dates arranged to launch ‘…And Then the Stars’. Fri/Sat 9th & 10th Feb next year at Websters Theatre, Glasgow.

Tickets are £20.00 available from toytownrecords.com and Websters.

This includes a ticket for the show and a signed copy of the album sent to your door a month before the album’s release.

I’ve ordered mine. Get yours quick before they’re all gone.

Ian’s uplifting new single “Ticker Tape Parade” is available now to download from iTunes if you can’t wait for the album to come out. (Spot the Dream to Sleep reference again)

Hear a short clip here.

Thanks again to Ian for his time, and I’ll look forward to reviewing the album & gig on 2018.

 

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Live at the SSE Hydro – 27th September 2017

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Live at the SSE Hydro

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this before the gig. Nick Cave’s music to me seems to be suited to a more intimate venue. Especially when you think about recent events with the tragic death of his son and the extremely personal nature of the song-writing for latest album “Skeleton Tree”.

It was my birthday, however, so I was determined that nothing was going to impact my enjoyment of the gig.

I needn’t have been worried though. I wouldn’t be over-stating things to say the night was monumentally epic. 18 exceptional songs in total and nearly 2 1/2 hours on stage.

I must admit that although I’d listened to a few of the tracks, I hadn’t yet bought the latest album, “Skeleton Tree” so was also concerned that my unfamiliarity with some of the songs would have an impact on my enjoyment.

A night to remember

Again, I needn’t have worried. Although the opening salvo of “Anthrocene”, “Jesus Alone” and “Magneto” were all from that album and are of a very personal nature with almost whispered lyrics at various points, they filled the room and felt like songs I’d loved for years. Cave stalked the stage, prowling like a caged beast, and with the band swathed in atmospheric lights I knew it was going to be a night to remember.

Despite the subject matter of the songs and the impact of his son’s death on the final writing of the album, Cave was on top form interacting and joking throughout the night with the lucky punters down at the front.

BooM Boom Boom

During “Higgs Boson Blues” he traded “boom boom boom’s” with audience members, breaking into laughter at various points. An over enthusiastic fan also grabbed him at one point when he was leaning into the crowd. He responded by jokingly commenting about sexual harassment in the workplace.

“From Her to Eternity” was colossal building to a cacophonous crescendo. His audience interaction continued with him noticing the number of people taking photos and recording videos, building “Brother with an iPhone, Sister with an iPhone” into the song.

A crash of thunder

A crash of thunder and familiar brooding bass introduced the titanic classic “Tupelo”. As the background video of ferocious hurricanes and storms played out, the ferocity was matched by the music, with Warren Ellis brewing up his own storm on the violin. I’ve never seen anyone get the sounds out of a violin that Ellis does. At times playing it like a guitar and creating savage feedback.

One of the set highlights was “Jubilee Street” another song with an extended run-out ending in a beautiful gargantuan clamour. It was transforming, glowing, vibrating and flying, I dare you NOT to “look at him now”

High emotions

The tempo came down for the brace of “The Ship Song” followed by an emotional “Into My Arms”, but the intensity wasn’t any less. After every song I kept wondering how he would match that, but each time he succeeded and continually exceeded all my expectations. I was feeling emotional during these two songs and it took all my inner strength to not actually have tears in my eyes.

You could hear a pin drop in the audience during “Into My Arms”. The atmosphere at the end was electric when Cave encouraged the crowd to sing the last few lines back to him. Exquisite.

A few shouts went up from the crowd for various songs. Most of which were brushed off. But, when someone shouted for “Stagger Lee” he responded with “We’ll definitely play that one, we always play that one!”

The emotion continued with a brace of songs from Skeleton Tree with the sad lines of “Girl in Amber”…

“You kneel, lace up his shoes, your little blue-eyed boy

Take him by his hand, go move and spin him down the hall

I get lucky, I get lucky cause I tried again

I knew the world it would stop spinning now since you’ve been gone

I used to think that when you died you kind of wandered the world

In a slumber til you crumbled, were absorbed into the earth

Well, I don’t think that any more the phone it rings no more”

…and “I Need You”. Just breathe…..

Red right hand

Next was the song that many of my non-Nick Cave fan friends recognise from its use in the excellent Peaky Blinders, “Red Right Hand”. I’d lost count of how many times in the days preceding this gig that I had to explain who Nick Cave was and had mentioned this song on numerous occasions. Hopefully I have converted at least one person to his music. The atmosphere was intoxicating with the band bathed in sinister red lights. Another Cave classic followed with a transcendent version of “The Mercy Seat”

I’d only just recomposed myself after the double whammy’s of “The Ship Song”/“Into My Arms” and “Girl in Amber”/”I Need You” when “Distant Sky” came along. With a video of Else Torp projected behind the band that added to the poignancy, the lyrics really hit me. It is such a personal song and an outpouring of grief from Cave with masterful violin from Ellis. Even as I type this and read the lyrics it is bringing a lump to my throat.

 

“They told us our gods would outlive us,

They told us our dreams would outlive us,

They told us our gods would outlive us,

But they lied.

 

Let us go now, my only companion,

Set out for the distant skies,

Soon the children will be rising, will be rising,

This is not for our eyes.”

 

And to follow this up with set closer “Skeleton Tree” with snow effects on the backdrop video and touching final lines of “and it’s alright now”. I’m emotionally exhausted by this point. And the encore is still to come.

Encore

This saw even more interaction from Cave with him making a foray into the audience. During “The Weeping Song” he once more jocularly engaged with the crowd, admonishing a fan off for not holding him up properly.

Penultimate song and massive crowd-pleaser “Stagger Lee” saw him inviting the fans at the front onto the stage. A melee of excited bodies singing, dancing, taking photos and videos and even stage diving as Cave sang. Every word being enthusiastically sung back at him.

“Push the Sky Away” ended the evening with Cave asking the punters on stage to sit down while he introduced/thanked the band to great applause. “You’ve got to just keep on pushing, keep on pushing….”

As he was leaving the stage with the band Cave announced “You don’t know how much this means – no really you don’t.” And I believed him.

It meant a lot to us too. I never ever thought that one of my favourite gigs would be in a venue like the Hydro. But the sheer emotion, interaction with the crowd and quality of the songs and the musicianship came together to make this one very special gig.

As I trudged through the rain back to my car, I smiled as I saw one punter who had been on the stage during “Stagger Lee”/”Push the Sky Away” recounting his experience with child-like enthusiasm to a group of his friends. A night they will never forget.

A night that will stay in all of our memories for some time to come.