Friday, 28 October 2011

FLAMING FIELDS Interview


Secret Admirer loves a good boy band.
Flaming Fields are no factory made pop machines however, they have their own free will.
They use this free will to experiment with different genres of guitar twanging music.
Diamond geezers that they are.

When and why did you start the band?
Jake: It kind of started, if you want to go back to the root of it, it kind of started this time last year with me and Joe agreeing that we wanted to start writing some songs and getting some stuff together. We weren’t really sure what direction we wanted to take it in but we knew we wanted to get something, whether it was going to be a full band or just us two.  From there, we got Nick and James and it just sort of evolved from there. This kind of, alternative band that I guess we have become.
Why did you choose the name Flaming Fields?
James: It was kind of just my dad, he was going through loads of names and he just said that.
It had a ring to it.
Nick: We didn’t have any good ones really.
Jake: Essentially we had about a good ninety or so shit names before that. We really weren’t sure. What were we called? Element or something?
Joe: Yeah, Element.
James: It was the first one where we all actually said ‘yeah, I like that’. There was no one going ‘I’m not sure’, everyone was like yeah.
Joe: Then it just kinda stuck, yeah.
Jake: It was the only one that sounded alright. The only one!
What do you want people to get from listening to your music?
Jake: Personally I just want people to get some sort of energy or emotion out of it.
Joe: An experience, inspiration…anything. Whatever.
Jake: Exactly.
Joe: As long as you feel something, then it’s worth doing.
Jake: A connection, you know, a connection. That’s what music is about, you are sort of getting your message across to other people in a way that you can’t in words. Just getting your point across.
You like to experiment with different styles of music, do you ever think you are going to define your style?
Jake: I doubt it, because the thing is, we all like so many different types of music collectively. None of us are all into one band. That’s how we got together. We just all like so many different styles, and I can’t see us settling down, thinking of one specific style. Our sound is starting to develop where we have got a unique sound. But it’s not…you can’t really pigeon-hole it into a genre.
Joe: It’s all threaded together with like, a rock edge to it. But at the same time, we are trying to take influences from anywhere we can.
That’s cool.
Nick: We want to keep on experimenting.
Joe: It’s all about just making noise really.
Jake: We’ve got some stuff now that is starting to go towards…it’s got this more reggae influence. I’m a big fan of a lot of pop stuff, so that influence is creeping in there. All sorts of things just come together, so yeah.
If you could soundtrack a film, which one would you choose?
Jake: Nick?
Nick: Errr...probably Inception. That would be pretty cool. (Laughs)
Jake: I’d like to go for Pretty Woman, the re-make. Just because, you know…
Joe: Pulp Fiction man! We’d fit, we’d fit that I think.
Jake: Something where it is drastically out of context would be so much better.
Nick: What you feeling James?
James: Erm…
Jake: You can’t pick porn! You can’t pick adult films James.
You can if you want. It’s fine.
Jake: Ass Masters Five.
Nick: Say The Jungle Book, that would be a good one.
James: Yeah The Jungle Book.
What would be your dream label to sign to?
Jake: I think I asked you guys about this. Has anyone got a personal choice?
Joe: Ideally I’d like to just set one up.
That would be cool. Have you sent your demos to any record labels yet?
Jake: Not yet, but it’s that thing that everyone tells you. And I think it’s true, is that record labels get so many people sending their demos and EPs in that it’s not really a good way to get attention. They obviously get so many that it just gets put in one big pile and ignored.
Do it yourself then.
Jake: I’d love to be signed to one of those independent labels, that are a smaller division of a big label. So you have kind of got more artistic freedom. Not too much pressure. Like Beggars Banquet.

What’s the best gig you have played so far?
Joe: The last one.
Nick: Last week, weren’t it?
Jake: It was awesome, yeah.
Nick: We had about a hundred and sixty people came that came throughout the day. And we got the most people.
Joe: They were all feeling it as well.
Nick: Yeah, by the time we got on stage it was like eleven o’clock, so everyone was pretty hammered. We got some pits going and people moshing about.
Jake: It was crazy. We did our last song, ‘Be Free’ and I looked around and everyone was just dancing. And it was a bit weird when it was a song that no one really knew. It’s your own song that kind of got people going. That was nice, we were talking about it on the way down.
James: Obviously I couldn’t see because I was at the back.
Jake: The drummer always gets the bum deal.
Nick: Yeah, it was like people I’d never seen before just going for it. Gives you a good feeling. All the other bands seemed to like us too, so…
Jake: Yeah, it’s a good thing when before you go on, the other bands…you know what it’s like at these gig nights. They aren’t necessarily being horrible, but they are all…there is a bit of animosity towards other bands sometimes. And when you come off, their attitude towards you has totally changed. That’s a good sign that you are doing the right thing.
Do you think you are starting to develop a fan base?
Jake: It’s getting bigger. The thing is, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. I think it’s harder now to get a fan base than it was years ago. Because of the way things are and people’s attentions spans towards music.
They are very short.
Joe: It’s not just family and close friends now. There are a lot more people into it.
Do you have any creepy fans yet?
Jake: Nick is. He’s in the band though. Nick is the heart breaker in the band. He’s got like ten stalkers.
Nick: Unfortunately so. I’m just the wanker in the band. It’s just them bassists.
Jake: Have you not noticed, like, at uni, he just gets constant phone calls? And he’s just like, oh for fucks sake! And he has to turn his phone off.
Nick: Like that girl last night.
He’s got a creepy fan, he has definitely got one.
Jake: Does she know you are in a band?
Nick: Yeah, I think she does.
Jake: That’s brilliant, honestly. Because I think Nick’s going to be the band poster boy.
Nick: Great.
Jake: Because you seem to have the most luck with the ladies. The rest of us…I don’t know. Nick has got it.
Nick: It’s the four strings.
Jake: It’s the sound of his bass, his big, big bass.
Have you got any plans in terms of gig-ing or recording in future?
Jake: We were talking about it on the train down, we want to try and get next year fully booked for gigs. We want to expand into different cities.
Nick: We got one in November, haven’t we? In Nottingham. Then recording wise…
James: Hopefully soon.
Jake: Soon-ish, because the EP we’ve got out now isn’t the best thing that we have got. It’s just a representation of what we were as a band before we started gig-ing. Before we even knew each other properly. Apart from me and Joe, so before we even knew the band, in the true sense of the word. We now have got some new songs that have just changed again, in style. We are going to go out and record them soon. Can’t wait.
Thanks guys.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

SAM BAYLIS (TROUMACA) Interview

Sam Baylis may well be a starving artist, but he is not starved of ideas.
Secret Admirer got to know the lead singer of Troumaca a little better after he and his band got legs shuffling and mouths smiling at The Rainbow in Digbeth, Birmingham.



Where does the name Troumaca come from?
Ok, so Troumaca is a town in the Island of St. Vincent, which is in the Grenadines, but it’s actually a Caribbean Island, South Caribbean Island. And it’s where Geoff’s family are from, his mum was born there and then travelled with her mother and siblings to Birmingham. I think, in the sixties. It’s a nice bit of family heritage that we have warmed to, obviously.
So it’s a very personal name.
Yeah, definitely, I think that is what we are trying to do with the project. We wanted to be honest, without sounding contrived, we wanted it to be genuine.
You want people to get involved in it.
Yeah. I think we all, collectively and as individuals, we all want…stuff that we are into, is stuff that is honest. It doesn’t have to be of any specific genre, and not talking just about music. Honesty is kind of like, the thing for us.
So is that why you started the band, to have a platform to get your ideas across?
Yeah, well we were going for like a dubby, tropical…I say trippy, for want of a better word, sound. And then like…
I think your songs are quite uplifting as well, quite anthemic as well as a little bit strange.
I think that’s what we are going…well not what we are going for but that’s what happens. When we write a tune, we find ourselves going, ok, let’s make the chorus lift. Let’s give it that kind of energy. We always seem to write the tunes and they’re all quite vibe-y, kinda chilled out vocally and then by the end we are doing big harmonies, really pushing it. It’s just like…yeah.
It’s a good mix between the two.
Yeah. That, again, is about the connection. We feel that connection when we do it. It’s like, it’s worth doing, especially in the live shows. It’s a tangible experience really, not just sitting in our bedrooms, writing and recording.
Is there anything that specifically inspires your lyrics at all?
I draw on quite a lot of things. But mainly it’s, it’s kind of like, they are love stories. Love and loss. But I try and colour that with like, a lot of imagery. Kind of our own, self-referential myths, trying to create a universe within that, drawing people in, making reference to certain things. I don’t know if people pick up on it. I just want to create a world, like a Troumaca universe or island.
Do you think the visual side of your band is quite important?
Yeah, definitely and I think like, with the name, where…it’s a geographical place, very tropical. And the music from that place, we are into it and it all sort of feeds and it’s thriving off its self. We’ve built this place where we go to make music. But there is actually this physical place, so it’s a kind of fantasy for us, that we are trying to invite people into. Which is our Troumaca.
So, the general concept of what you are trying to do is something that is real but also something that is different, another world.
Yeah, exactly. Other-worldly. With things like warriors, priestesses, hunters populating the land. Breaking each other’s hearts and betraying each other and falling in love. That kind of idea. That’s what we are going for.
Do you feel like you have benefited as a band from being in Birmingham?
Yeah…I think, yeah. The way we are and how we lean towards things, like what we wear and the music we listen to, it’s easy to just pack up and head down to London. I think we made a choice not to do that. And I think it has helped us, yeah.
Do you feel like you are part of a scene in Birmingham at all?
It feels like it yeah, which is fucking cool. There are some bands that are cropping up that we all really like and hopefully they really like us as well. Peace, Cajole Cajole, Corelli, Silver Souvenirs, Swim Deep…it’s nice.
Do you feel like they have similar ideas to you in terms of your music?
I talk a lot with the guys from Peace, they’ve  come from the more House side of things. They’re into like House-ier Dance music. I’d say we are more into like, garage, future garage, dupstep kind of beats. I think you can hear that in the two sounds. Which is interesting, the different approaches. The other guys, I think in terms of the sound, it’s quite different. Everyone has got a different sound.
What’s the best gig you have played so far?
All the Adam & Eve pub shows. They were really good, which we never expected .That’s like anything, you don’t expect to go out then you go out and have the best time of your life. It’s that kind of feeling with The Adam & Eve. We played Bath the other night, which was a fucking random one. Nobody was there and then half way through the set, it was just fucking wild. That was pretty cool. And Leeds, we played Nation Of Shopkeepers, fucking banging in there. Good place man.

Have you got any plans in terms of recording or releasing an album?
We’re releasing a couple of tunes in December. Just for free download. You can go to our website and get some goodies from the website. And yeah, we’ve just been writing a lot. Got quite a few songs knocking about. And a lot of the production we have been doing at home. We’ve worked with a few producers and it’s just not worked. And it just seems to work, as us doing it in a dodgy way. You never expect a band to do it but it just works. So yeah, got something first week of December. So, keep your eyes peeled.
What record label are you releasing it on?
We’re just doing it ourselves through our website MHVH and run it through our own website, the band website. We’re releasing ‘Fire’, a new version of ‘Fire’, the final version. I think it’s the simplicity of it, it’s gotta be the simplicity. It’s a one word chorus. I think the only other person to do that is R.E.M, and their tune is called fire. I think, don’t quote me, I might be wrong but yeah. We are releasing ‘Fire’, ‘Sanctify’, an instrumental, some remixes…just doing like, a bit of a package. All free as well. Just kinda like the spread the word a little bit more.
How long have you been going as a band?
Troumaca has been going for about a year. Just over a year, yeah.
It’s been a productive year, you have done quite a lot.
You have to make that commitment, you have to make that choice in your life. Just fucking go for it. And sacrifice a lot of other things, like a nice place, shit like that. Real jobs, yeah. Getting funny looks when people go ‘so what do you do then?’, I’m in a band, ‘ok’. Getting funny looks for that. ‘Are you signed?’ No, no no.
At this point, a kind gentleman comes over to offer Secret Admirer’s plus one a cheeky drink. She obliges, naturally.
Forgot where I was…yeah! You have to make the sacrifice, lose girlfriends, make up with them. Walk around a lot in fucking knackered trainers. Unless you get free ones. You have to make material sacrifices to supplement and progress with, your art. That’s like any artist.
Do you want to carry on doing it for as long as you can or do you think it’s going to be a set period of time that you are going to do it for?
I think I’ll always carry on. I’d love to carry it on but there does come a time where if you are still fucking paying pennies to get on a bus because you got no money then you have to make a choice at some point. But the romantic in me would do it…I will do it for as long as however. Music is a sanctuary for all of us.

http://troumaca.co.uk/

Photography By Jack Parker

Saturday, 22 October 2011

MATT BECK (This Is Tmrw) Interview

This Is Tmrw share their name with a fashion shoot from the 60s.
But instead of showcasing clothes on cat walks, they showcase bands on stages.

Secret Admirer caught up with This Is Tmrw’s main man Matt Beck in The Victoria pub; nestled away in Birmingham’s city centre.

Matt is making damn sure that people hear tomorrow’s sounds today.


When and why did This Is Tmrw start?
Mainly…we started in 2006. Slightly by chance, we did…you know Oxjam? We started doing a couple of events for them and it went pretty well. And when we started delving into the Birmingham scene, there was a real lack of quality promoters putting on the sort of bands we were listening to. The gig line ups didn’t suite the bands we wanted to put on. Our whole ethos was to put on bands from Birmingham on line ups that would suite them.
There is a million and one promoters, without naming any names, that tell the support bands to sell fifty tickets and then all their mates come and never watch the headline band. So, we kind of wanted to make shows more like events. So people come for the package as opposed to coming to see your mate’s band and fucking off, basically.
And then we had a little bit of luck, the first we put on were Foals at The Sunflower Lounge, just round the corner from here. And then we had just a really good run of shows. We had a band called The Draytones, who were really good back in the day. We just sort of developed it from there. We held a weekly residency at The Yard Bird. It’s actually a jazz club in Paradise Forum. It’s going to be knocked down in the next two years, because it’s where the old library used to be.
But yeah, we held a weekly, sort of Wednesday club night there. We put on Hot Club De Paris and Johnny Foreigner, all those sorts of bands. We are now in a position where we just put on the bands we like. We don’t see it as a career or anything though, like a business or money making thing. We just want to put on great bands, gigs with really good line ups and art work. Just busy shows really. That’s the whole point.
So that’s kind of why we started, to bring in bands that wouldn’t normally play Birmingham and put them with brilliant local bands in Birmingham. They never get any recognition, and part of that is their own fault for not putting themselves out there. Birmingham is often seen in the music press as a cultural black hole, when it’s not really. That’s a little bit na├»ve. It’s easy to look down your nose at Birmingham. But I think there is a hell of a lot more going on here than there is in places like Nottingham at the moment.
Bands are quite notorious for not promoting themselves, especially in Northampton (Secret Admirer’s birthplace). They just set up a Facebook page and wait for people to have interest in them.
Yeah, it’s bad to say but you’ve got to be a bit business-like about it. I think you have to.
Sell yourself.
Well yeah. We had Calories play at the start of the Mazes show, a couple of nights ago. Calories used to be a band called Distophia. Who were a band about five or six years ago, maybe even a bit longer now. They were kind of on the cusp of being absolutely massive. They were signed to Necessary Records and went on tour with Hard-Fi. Because Hard-Fi were on Necessary Records. This is when Hard-Fi’s first album had come out, they were selling out the academies and stuff. And Distophia are kind of a little bit like Sonic Youth, loads of feedback. And they absolutely bombed to this sort of Hard-Fi crowd of like skin heads and young indie kids that were just loving The Streets and stuff. They just called it a day and reformed as Calories. They are so, so good and like they don’t shout about themselves whatsoever.
They are one of these bands that can be like really crap because they don’t rehearse or really incredible because they are just on it. And they happen to just nail it. They are incredible musicians, and they did a set of completely new material and it was just like, jaw to the floor stuff. They were so good and that sort of quality of song, would stand up to the likes of Mazes. In fact, they were probably the band of the night in fairness. So, certainly keep an eye on Calories. That’s the main reason really, we just wanted to shout about Birmingham. Bring the bands here and put them on good shows, have a good turn out and put them on with bands that they liked. The audience that would come to see Calories for instance, would clearly love Hot Club De Paris. So Hot Club De Paris got some new fans from it.
The touring bands we have had, we’ve got quite good working relationships with them now. They are quite happy to Birmingham shows with us because they know that it will be well promoted.
Why did you choose the name This Is Tmrw?
No profound reasons or anything, it was more a case of wanting to put on bands that were a bit more cutting edge and not necessarily looking backwards. Bands that were of the moment, kind of two weeks away from going in the NME and stuff like that.
Just really new music for a young audience. This Is Tomorrow was actually a fashion shoot in the sixties for a lot of the sort of mods. Quite famous, but it’s not based on that as such, kind of more inspired by the idea of future music. And not putting on bands that are ten years out of date. So that’s the main thing, just modern music.
It’s a great name.
Oh, cool. Cheers.
You do a lot of DJing as well; do you prefer DJing or promoting?
We’ve always kind of DJed to supplement what we are doing financially, so we DJ at The Victoria every second Friday of the month. And we DJ at The Yard Bird as well. That’s kind of done for fun really, but in terms of doing under the This Is Tomorrow guise, that’s a fairly new thing.
I think the alternative music culture has changed a hell of a lot in recent times. And all these lines are incredibly blurred now as to what people are into. I think it’s not a problem thinking of an indie kid listening to a house record now or an indie kid listening to, for want of a better word, a dubstep record. Or, you know, hip hop. The cross over is so massive that we’ve kind of naturally wanted to put on some of these DJs to play that sort of music.
Our heart will always be with live shows but DJ culture is a completely different kettle of fish to putting on bands. It’s that much more difficult in a lot of respects. We started a club night at The Bull’s Head in Moseley, which is just down the road from Kings Heath. It’s difficult because if you’ve got a band onstage and they are playing guitars and they are playing whatever they are playing, people are instantaneously watching you. If we are doing a three hour DJ set, it’s incredibly easy to lose people’s attention. And people are a lot more fickle when it comes to DJs, if there is one song they don’t know, they are half the time, straight out the room. So we are kind of getting there with it but the live stuff is where our expertise lies. We’ll see what happens.
Do you have a favourite venue in Birmingham?
Not a favourite as such, The Hare and Hounds is amazing because it’s got, probably the best live room in the city, for an independent venue that is. And it’s a 250 plus room, the most amazing sound in there. You know, you’ll bring bands there and they will just be like…compared to where they have played in the rest of the country, it’s a real breath of fresh air to them. I mean it’s got three dressing rooms and it’s a pub as well. It’s not a live music venue, it’s just a boozer. So it’s an amazing place, the only bad thing is where it’s located. It’s a little bit harder to get to but…that’s where the best up and coming bands play. Because that’s where the best promoters are at the moment. The Rainbow is good for DJ stuff. Upstairs at The Victoria is amazing as well. It’s a wicked little sweaty room really.
What’s been the best gig you have put on so far?
I think one of the best ones was a guy called Matthew Dear. He kind of like, does that sort of…he’s a bit like a Bowie-fronted Hot Chip or something. He plays with a trumpet player and it’s such a good, good show. He wears black suites, slicked back hair and he’s just got swagger and an amazing, sort of, amazing personality on stage.
It must beat just watching a guy on a laptop.
And we were kind of like really unsure how it would go in Birmingham because we didn’t know if there would be any support for him. Turns out, he was a pretty massive DJ before a live act. And I didn’t really know that. He’s played in front of like, two hundred thousand people.  So there were a lot of these, sort of, techno kids coming out to it and stuff. Did it at the Hare and Hounds and it just went off. Just really, fucking went off. That was definitely a highlight.
Hot Club De Paris always killed it for us, we had them at The Yard Bird on a Saturday night, they did ‘Call Me Al’ at the end as an encore, with just everyone singing it back. Johnny Foreigner are always amazing as well. But yeah, the Matthew Dear one was good because it was a really left field show for us. It was a ‘fuck, we could fall flat on our arses on this one’, because people might not show up to it. It was two hundred people and it was amazing. He is definitely worth checking out, maybe bring him back next year.
Have you had any shows that haven’t gone so well?
Yeah, you always have a few sort of cop-out shows. Ironically, we had a really bad show with our…we had a break from gigging about three, four years ago because I was going travelling. And we had our last show with Hot Club De Paris and Johnny Foreigner on the same bill. We did it upstairs at The Victoria, but it was the same weekend as Glastonbury. So, it wasn’t an absolute wash out but we thought it was a show that would guarantee about a hundred and fifty people. But there was about seventy people there and it was kinda like, man, it’s two big bands really. At the time, we couldn’t get our head round it. By in large we have been quite lucky with our turn outs, the local support bands we put on really get behind the shows. They are happy to play with the bands they like. So, fingers crossed we’ll be alright.
Which bands would you love to put on, that you haven’t yet?
We really want to put on Real Estate.
They are from America aren’t they?
Yeah, they are from Portland. We put on the guitarist in his side project Ducktails. It was brilliant, we put him on over the road at The Island Bar. It was brilliant, just tropical, blissed out, surf-y sort of stuff. I’d love to put them on as a four piece. You know, as a full band. So hopefully we will be able to do something with them in the next twelve months.
It’d be nice to put on someone like Caribou, obviously. That would be amazing. Probably can’t afford it, to be fair.
He’s quite big now.
Yeah, we went to see him at The Apollo in Manchester and he fucking tore the roof off. Just two drummers, trumpet, all the electronics obviously. It was just brilliant. Love to put that show on in Birmingham. So yeah, people like that really, I really like Washed Out. Do you like Washed Out?
Yeah. He’s awesome.
Wanted to put him on for a while. I think they are a little bit concerned about Birmingham, because Washed Out is quite a niche sound, isn’t it really.
A lot of people think it’s for summer and no other time.
Yeah. It’s inside a dark room, it doesn’t matter does it? If there is a lot of people there...hopefully next year. We put on Toro Y Moi not too long ago and he would be really good to put on again.
When was that? His first album or second?
First album, and he was kind of so young as well. And his band was just his mates. I think they needed to come together a bit more as a live act. I think now that they have been on the road for about twenty three months and they have got a second album, EPs…maybe they’ve grown in stature and confidence a little bit. I’d imagine it being a really, really good show now. It wasn’t a bad show at all, I just imagine it as so much better now.
Because I think that first record is quite hard to translate to a live sound. He just did it in his bedroom pretty much.
Their second album definitely sounds like there is a band behind it.
Yeah, that’s it. It’s amazing because he’s just a geeky little kid who just wrote it in his bedroom. They are just getting younger and younger as well, it’s like, just stop it! (Laughs) Makes me feel old.
Why did you choose the artist Lewes Herriot to design your gig posters?
It just added kudos to it. It’s so interesting, so unique, so colourful. And he actually used to be in a band, that’s how the connection started. We put on his band, and he had sort of, all these prints behind where they were playing that he always brought with him to shows. And we were like, man, those would be amazing as posters.
He’s not a graphic designer what so ever, he’s an artist. So what he used to do was draw them and then scan it into his computer and then colour it in on Photoshop or whatever. But there was never any room for mistakes. If one of the bands pulled out of one of our line ups or something, we’d have to completely draw it all over again, but this was back in the day. So we’ve kind of like gone on a slight journey with him I suppose, turning him into a more savvy design as such. Because he’s done all of Johnny Foreigner’s art work. And he’s done some of The Mars Volta’s stuff as well. And he’s had t-shirts in Top Man as well. He’s a typical artist really. (Laughs)
That’s why we have people like you, pushing all these creative types to do something.
Yeah, hopefully. He’s such a talented fucker, he’s so unique and I’d never want to change him. I think the posters get better and he develops as an artist more and more each time. If anything, we would like to work with Lewes more and have him coming and doing visuals and we’ve talked about doing a poster book of like all the posters we’ve done. He’s wanted to do an exhibition for ages and he’s never had one so we’d kind of like to work with him on something like that as well. But as I say, artists are a law unto themselves sometimes, so we’ll see. But yeah, he’s a really talented kid, and those posters, he can knock up in an hour. To do that sort of complexity in that sort of time is scary.
It’s funny because each poster has got a story and nobody really ever thinks about that. And I’ve never thought about it. It was only when I told him to change one of them about six months ago, he goes: ‘well, I can’t change that because each character in the poster is telling a story’. If you were to say: ‘what’s the story?’, he’d give you this whole complex story of this creature is there because blah blah blah. It’s crazy, he’s got a comic book wrote in him somewhere, I don’t know. But I don’t know, it’s money that makes these things happen. Maybe one day. If we have a massive paying gig, I’m sure we could throw him some money. In a dream world.

What gigs have you got coming up?
In November, we’ve got a show pretty much every week. We’ve got a band called Gardens And Villa who are signed to Secretly Canadian. Really good label. It’s their first tour of the UK, and they’re doing five dates. They’re playing with Steve Malkmus and they’ve got this kind of Beach House/Grizzly Bear style. Quite a…
Minimalist sound?
Yeah, I mean it’s quite a summery sound as well. They are from Santa Barbara, so of course it’s going to sound summery, but they’ve got a flute player in the band. Some of the tunes are like ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ style Beatles. Really psychedelic and tripped out. I listened to the album on Spotify and I think they are really brilliant. Worth checking out. Pandas And People are supporting them. Another really good local band. The week after we have got Neon Indian, should be a good show. And Trophy Wife are going to support on that as well. We have wanted to put them on for a while. They just happened to be on tour at the same time, so we kind of lumped them together. There’s a band called Victories At Sea who are playing on that as well, kind of like, early sort of New Order. Which is perfect for the line-up. Then after that we have Dutch Uncles, they are brilliant. We had them play The Victoria actually, and they completely packed it out. He’s a really cool front man. He’s kind of like the geekiest guy in the world, but he’s got some cool moves on stage.
The band stand at the back of the stage and do what they are supposed to do, and you just watch him.
Someone described him as a camp Ian Curtis. That’s quite accurate, I’d say. He’s an interesting guy. But they were wicked. So that should be another good show. Then we are going to do a Christmas show here as well with Calories. So it’s a full calendar now, pretty much. Then it’s straight into the new year, see what comes up.
Do you always try and have a local band on the bill?
Yeah, definitely. Because one, you need to in Birmingham because I’d never expect Neon Indian to sell 150 tickets in Birmingham. He probably doesn’t anywhere, because he’s not mainstream enough. So you need a local band that complement the line-up and help to bring a few fans down. I think we always make sure that these local bands are really well suited to the bill. And that they are not just the generic local band that you just want to get out the way. Victories At Sea will be mint on that line up because they’ve got drum machines, great front man and real charisma. Their sound will really suite the kind of guitary-ness of Trophy Wife and the electronic elements of Neon Indian. So we always try and support the local bands that haven’t played as many shows as well. We put Swim Deep on.
It’s good to see some of the good Birmingham bands starting to filter through the ranks. They are so young as well man, they have got a really interesting, actually quite Birmingham sound really. It’s a little bit left of centre. That sums Birmingham up really.
Thank you, that is the end.
Is that the end? Bloody hell, simple!


Photography By Jack Parker

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

JAMES NASH Interview


Secret Admirer first started admiring James Nash's handy work when Secret Admirer's eyes stumbled upon his poster for Out Of Step's Male Bonding gig. From that moment on, Secret Admirer knew that more must be known about James Nash: the power behind the pencil.


When and why did you decide that illustration was the path you wanted to go down in life?

Drawing is one of the only things I've ever been good at I suppose. If not necessarily 'good at' then at least really encouraged to do. Or if not 'encouraged to do' then maybe one of the only things I was never told off for being bad at, the only thing I've felt relatively confident of being able to do. So even though that changes, it is a constant that carries you through. I did a good degree that really stretched me conceptually then I have spent a good few wilderness years afterwards doing different things and trying to figure stuff out.

How did you go about developing your signature style?

It was definitely never a purposeful thing like a lot of people try to achieve when they want to go about drawing in a 'comic' style, or sit down and decide what combination of ways they can lift the work of their favourite illustrators or whatever. It's literally just a product of repetition, like a handwriting, certain movements have become neat shorthand ways of describing things and the combination of those things alongside the limited medium I use has just fallen into itself. Which is not to say that it won't carry on developing, probably.

What stationary/equipment do you use to create your pictures?

Just a brush and black ink on paper. I touch things up and colour things in on photoshop a bit. I don't really plan anything in pencil or anything - going back to the 'style' answer above, I just feel that the mark you make is just that and attempting to make it look like something else is kind of dishonest.

Who is your favourite client to illustrate for?

Anyone who provides respect and money is great. I've done stuff for lots of really cool people over the past couple of years and can't really single anyone out. I just did a seven inch cover for Chapter 24 who are a great band, doing stuff for my man Rich at Out of Step is fun because I pretty much do whatever stupid thing pops into my head and he's into it. I also help out a bit with his gigs, suggesting good bands I see in London for him to put on in Brum. Get A Grip also deserve a shout whilst I'm thinking about the Midlands - Kay and Sam run an excellent shop and screenprinting company that I have done a few things for a while ago.



Where did the idea for your diary comics come from?

That actually started at University. I was doing an essay about comics and subjective imagery that was to be 'read' rather than objectified. It spawned the idea of trying to reduce something as vast and boring as a persons diary and make it visually interesting and readable. It was also a good framework in which to keep myself drawing and disciplined whilst making a lot of really dry, conceptually overwrought work using type and book binding and whatnot. Then later on it kept me drawing and writing whilst I was having a tough few years and wasn't really pursuing artwork stuff much at all. That's when it took on a cathartic kind of personal importance for me and since has been the basis for everything I've done. I took some time off doing it for the first time in 6 years this year, just so I can concentrate on doing some longer, more considered things.

Have you ever had your work exhibited?

Yeah, a few times, all over the place.


Do you think people's love for zines has reduced, due to the popularity of the internet? And are you trying to restore some love for zines by making comics and zines of your own?

I don't think so at all, I think zines and comics are really growing in this country. The amount of people making things and selling them at the various fairs and things over the last 3 years or so has changed massively and the quality is amazing, and for me, often quite intimidating. There are great shops too, popping up everywhere. I've got stuff in a great new shop in Glasgow called Good Press Gallery which just opened. Good Grief! in Manchester is great. Jimi, Peter and Gareth who do the Alternative Press Fairs in London are owed a deep debt of gratitude for the amount of work they've done for the scene and all are amazing people too.
I think with the internet etc there is definitely a lack of need for the zine as a democratic voice in the face of mainstream media outlets, it just means the content is different, probably a lot more emphasis on them as an art object at best, a piece of brown-paper-laden craft at worst.

Are there any illustrators or artists that you collaborate with, or would like to collaborate with?

I have done little things with my friend Matilda Tristram and we work together to promote our comics a lot. She is a really close friend of mine and we had a joint launch thing for our most recent comic editions earlier this year which was ace and even pretty profitable. There are a load of artists I love, but could never see myself tarnishing anything of theirs. Much more there are so many writers and bands that I would kill to do work for. Paul Ashley Brown is a pretty powerful zine guy and you should check out his stuff if you get a chance.


Are there any other creative fields you dabble in?

I've been assisting an artist making these massive intricate collage pieces for the past year for a huge exhibition that just finished in Edinburgh. That has been pretty much full time but great experience in a slightly different field. I would love to develop the prose side of my work a bit too but that is a pipe dream as yet.

Which bands are you listening to at the moment?

Loads, I'm massively into lots of different music, mostly kind of introspective stuff.  I just got a record by Sandro Perri which is really fresh, my favourite of the past few years is Cass McCombs as everything he does is just achingly good.  I got to see The Sea and Cake for the first time recently which was so amazing after loving their stuff for years. Amazing dark odd beat stuff by Hype Williams. My Wolverhampton crew - Letherette and Bibio. The new Real Estate and Stephen Malkmus records are fantastic. My mate Bobby's Haxan Cloak album is a masterpiece. Good London gutter punk stuff such as Not Cool, Please, Chapter 24 and Thee Oh Sees. Discoveries of older stuff like Kath Bloom and Jim Sullivan. I could go on...

Where can people get hold of your zines/comics/prints?

My website is jamesnashlovesyou.com, there is a shop on there and I try to update it fairly regularly.




 

Monday, 17 October 2011

DIFFERENT SKELETONS Interview


Different Skeletons dare to dream a little deeper.
Secret Admirer dared them to answer some questions.
They were more than up to the challenge.

Their ramshackle D.I.Y will have you dancing.
Their free album will have you downloading.

 

Where did the name Different Skeletons come from?

It was actually quite systematic. We wrote down a bunch of words that we felt reflected the meaning/imagery/connotations of what we wanted to be as a band, tried some various combinations and eventually arrived at Different Skeletons. The thing I like most about the name is that I think we all interpret it’s meaning in our own way.

When and why was the band formed?

We started playing together last November. I think our foremost motivation for having a band is to experience the joy of playing music. The opportunity to express ourselves creatively is also deeply satisfying.

Do you feel like you are rebelling against anything with your music?

Not in any overt way.

How do you go about writing songs?

Most of the songs on this album are attempts to express recollections of how we’ve all felt or imagined others to feel at various points of our lives. From there we try and find the appropriate chord progressions, melodies, tempos, guitar tones, words etc. that are able to communicate these feelings to best of our ability. As a band we enjoy the challenge of communicating this emotion and establishing a groove as well as generating and resolving musical tension within a song.

What do you want people to get from your music?

 
We hope that everyone will engage with the music in his or her own personal way. Our album was recently described (by the super cool and talented Waylon Thornton, check him out) as songs that will make you “move, feel and think” so any combination of those reactions is just great.

Is there anything that inspires your sound?

We love all types of music and try to take inspiration from everything we hear. Some clear influences on this album’s overall sound are 60’s rock bands and late 70’s punk. We also love the rhythms and riffs of old surf tunes so that definitely pops up too. Our aesthetic and DIY philosophy owes a lot to bands like the Buzzcocks, Dead Moon, Guided by Voices and Eric’s Trip (who we have frequently covered at our live shows.)

Do you think it's important to release music for free these days?

I do think that there is an honesty and integrity to music that is free of commercial ambitions and created primarily for personal expression. We feel incredibly honored, humbled and privileged that people are interested in listening to and connecting with our music. As a result we will always hope to distribute it with as little cost to the listener as possible.

What's the best gig you have played so far?

We’ve had a lot of really fun ones. Our favorites are always less formal settings, we recently played with some friends at their loft and had a blast. We are especially stoked when people meet each other and hook up at our shows, which seems to happen. If people are dancing we are happy, if they are making out, we’re even happier!

Are you ever going to come over to the UK to play some shows?

We would love to! I think we’d need some help with logistics and financing to pull it off though. We are still a pretty DIY operation at this point.

What bands are you currently listening to at the moment?

We are really into a lot of amazing local bands from Toronto: The Speaking Tongues, Pow Wows, Azores, Army Girls, Quest for Fire, The Bleed Whites, The Schomberg Fair… so much great stuff. We are very lucky to live in a sometimes-underappreciated music town.  I also spend a good amount of time online digging up new DIY music from other cities. Some bands whose music I’ve really connected with recently are Wavepool Abortion, Pipsqueak, Swimsuit, Shapes Have Fangs and Bad Indians. If you like us you’ll probably like all of them too.

If Different Skeletons could soundtrack a film, which one would you choose?

Cool question, especially considering that part of our concept for Secret Jeers was imagining that it was the soundtrack to a (non-existent) film. I always figured that if this fictitious movie existed it would be along the lines of “Dazed and Confused” if it was directed by Gus Van Sant.

What are the future plans for the band?

One of our current priorities is to develop and explore some of Danny’s songs and ideas further because the focus of the debut album was primarily on tunes that I wrote (the Album’s closer “Samsonite” was the lone Danny song). His songs are gritty, frantic and awesome. I also have a sequel LP to Secret Jeers written so we look forward to the process of recording those songs as well. It is a bit more musically ambitious than our debut so we will likely take a bit more time on the recordings/production. Of course we will also continue to practice and play shows and eventually organize a little tour to Eastern Canada, which is where our beast drummer Danger Dean originally hails from.


Grab their album "Secret Jeers" here: