Saturday, 29 January 2011

Miles Kane LIVE@Barfly + Interview

Miles Kane
Saturday 22nd January
The Barfly ; Camden Town

One of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2011 was always going to be the debut solo album from Miles Kane. An old hand already in the industry from former guitarist in The Little Flames, front man in The Rascals to even one half of the critically acclaimed super group The Last Shadow Puppets with Arctic Monkeys vocalist and singer Alex Turner and all before his 25th birthday (this March.)

Already there has been 2 singles released from the upcoming album and both were on show here tonight bookending the set, with the opener ‘Come Closer’ showing a live band that hits the ground running and is primed and ready to go. The crowd was crammed in and rocking before the chorus of song one. It had been a long day after all here at the XFM all dayer and after many of the pastry cut out copies typical indie bands with the occasional synth sprinkling wasn’t really impressing too many people. Here at the finale with Miles Kane we are treated to someone on top of their game and fired track after track from the as of yet unreleased album with only a minimal of between track “hi how are you” chat. Security were on hand at both sides of the stage as loads of fans were climbing over the barriers to grab the front man before leaping back into the crowd, stage divers were politely ‘told’ that this wasn’t Wembley Stadium but a venue that holds the same as a Wedding reception and to knock off the leaping “somebody catch me!” routines. Other tracks that stood out were the poptastic ‘Quicksand’ and the highly anticipated ‘My Fantasy’ which appears on the album with Noel Gallagher applying backing vocals, ‘Re-Arrange’ as well as the excellent riff heavy ‘Inhaler’ which got the biggest cheer of the night.

The track that come out of left field and one that continued the trend by Kane of throwing a unexpected cover into the live mix was the faithful version of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's club banger ‘Spread Your Love’ which gave the floorboards of The Barfly a good ol’ fashioned hammering under a giant mosh pit. Expect greater things from Miles Kane, the album is going to be a wake up to the knob twiddling wimpy gap year bands flooding out of East London on a weekly basis and I hope it influences a generation of people to put down their computer run sonic ideals and crank their amps and guitars up to ten again.

I got a chance to meet up with Kane a few days after the Barfly gig, below is the transcript

Miles Kane Interview
26th January
The Social Bar ; London
by Chris Lancaster

Q) I interviewed Gruff Rhys last week (Super Furry Animals singer and also now solo star) and apart from saying that you were a "guitar god" and "surf guitar wizard" he thanked you for playing some guitar on his new album.

A) (laughs) Gruff is a legend, I was listening to him on Radio 2, he was being interviewed when I got back to my hotel last night, I just love that track 'Shark Ridden Waters' from the new album, I haven't heard the whole album yet but the track is brilliant. Working with him I learnt so much, I can't really speak highly enough of him.

Q) Are you happy with the final finished album now that its all mixed and complete?

A) Yeah its perfect, it's took a while on and off and in fact the first track to record was actually with Gruff (Rhys) and Craig Silver called 'Take The Night From Me' and ' The King Crawler' and they are on the record. I then tried this other producer and we ended up doing the rest with Dan Carey and we're finished now and its getting mastered tomorrow.

Q) In relation to the 'mastering' of the album I've noticed from the first tracks available such as 'Inhaler' and 'Come Closer' that they were mastered quite loud, they really seem to stick their necks out a little bit over the other records in a jukebox or even when I'm DJ'ing them I end up riding the volume fader to stop them blasting over everything else. Was this intentional?

A) That great, the louder the better really, not that I'm a DJ or anything I just play records but I was at this club on New Years Eve and played that new Beady Eye tune 'Bring The Light' it seemed to come in much louder than everything and I think they mastered it with the same guy as I'm using, I'm all for it.

Q) How have you found making a "Solo" record over a band recording or in fact a collaborative album such as The Last Shadow Puppets with Alex Turner?

A) At first it was daunting especially when you're used to being in an environment with a band or when I do "Puppets" I have a partner to bounce ideas off, the hardest part about making a record is the writing part before you even go in the studio making sure you had good songs, so that downtime period is tough. We decided before that I wouldn't do any gigs or anything until this record was done so nobody could hear any recordings or the songs beforehand which is good but at the same time it kills you because you get eager to gig and get out there so it took a while to adjust in that sense but once you started working and you knew that you had a couple of good tunes written it helped build the momentum. When I wrote 'Come Closer' originally that was a 'glam rock' sort of heavy drum based track, it sounded good but not unique enough and it wasn't till we got in the studio with the producer and we were listening to that 'Plastic Ono Band' (John Lennon) album that gave us the idea to keep it dead simple and re-look at the drum beat by keeping it the same the whole way through. Looking back now I suppose from writing it at the start and then recording it I knew that by the time it was finished and I'd done the interview and the photos and that stuff that I would love it and I do. I'm just excited now talking about it.

Q) You will be going on Tour with Beady Eye soon what are your thoughts about that?

A) I can't wait, I just hope the fans like our stuff, I think we're a pretty good match so I think it'll be good. I haven't heard the album yet but those 3 songs that are out that I've heard I've really liked. I love that 'Four Letter Word' tune, been playing that a lot.

Q) Which bands/artists have you been listening to during the writing and recording of the new album?

A) Obviously I always mention Lennon so he's always there as well as Lee Hazlewood, in fact when I was making this record and even before I really got into him, I'd known the records he made with Nancy Sinatra and they're amazing and then I got into his solo stuff about a year and a half ago especially that track 'Rainbow Woman' and I did a cover of that for the B-side of 'Inhaler' I suppose that was a big influence and probably Motown as well with the drum beats so that it just stays the same and drives the song rather than fast then slow, I like it to just groove along it so if you heard the song half way into it you'd pick up on it straight away.

Q) Both with The Last Shadow Puppets and now in your LIVE set you've been partial to a cover version or 5, recently you've added Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's 'Spread Your Love' to your set and before with the "Puppets" you did Leonard Cohen's 'Memories' and a few more.

A) I think its great, yeah we just added 'Spread Your Love' , we did loads in the "Puppets" we did 'Memories', The Beatles 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' , i think its good to always do a cover LIVE especially at this early stage where people don't really know the tunes its good to give them something to get hooked to, we want to try 'Hey Bulldog' (The Beatles) at some point as well, I think that would be a good one.

Q) Noel Gallagher sings backing vocals on 'My Fantasy' on the new album. How did they come about?

A) Yeah he did backing vocals, its only a subtle thing, I was mixing the track , the main vocals are just me double tracked and I was going to add backing vocals on the chorus and bridge, and I'd seen him a few weeks before and just texted him seeing what he was up to and said I was mixing and looking to add some harmonies and thought it would be great if he could "add the icing on the cake" and he said that "icing is what i do best" (laughs) and he just come down the next day and did it. I mean the press have made it something more than that but it was just a cool little nod. He's Great guy. I went into the studio with him after and played some guitar but don't really know what its for, more of a jam really.

Q) Are there any new and current band's that you like?

A) It's a tough one really, Sound of Guns from Liverpool are a good bunch of lads, more rock and heavier than me but great, The Heartbreaks from Manchester are doing some good stuff that I like, I don't really know many others, The Vaccines are really good that song 'Post Break Up Sex' is a good one, think it just charted didn't it?

Q) Before stepping forward to become the front man you were primarily known as a guitar player, who would you say are your influences guitar wise?

A) Duane Eddy, Link Wray, I just love that sound, really trebly echo sound, I'm not very technically good but I just find I can get good sounds, I'd be lost without my Bigsby though (Bigsby tremolo unit on the guitar) it manages to stay in tune perfectly as well, the guy that fitted it for me said it was a good one although I use it so much maybe I just know instinctively how much pressure to put on it to stop it going way out, I suppose I just have good wrist action (laughs), my nights in are great (laughs.)

Q) Where do you like to hang out when you're in London?

A) Depends really, I go out with my manager and my mates for dinner here and there, The Groucho club in Soho is really good, I'm not a member but have gone there with people they have snooker tables there so you can have a few games and a drink, wherever really……. I can't believe i said The Groucho (laughs), me and Vic Reeves having a drink (laughs), oh look there's Stephen Fry(laughs.)

Q) Will there be any new Last Shadow Puppets material or releases in the future?

A) Definitely yeah, Alex is in LA at the moment doing the new Arctic Monkeys album, you should see where they are staying in LA, proper boss place, I think we'll try and get together and write some new stuff, we're always talking about it, it'd be James Ford producing again he's great, I think we'll try and write towards the end of the year, Alex is amazing lyricist. Lyrically I would say the best out there which is great when we're writing as I'm more melody and he's never stuck for a line or word, just pours out of him where as I'm more "what does that mean?" (laughs)

Miles Kane Debut Solo album is out 25th April

Special thanks to The Social and Alex Fordham

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo & Interview

Label: Ovni (Turnstile)
Release date: 14/02/11

Hotel Shampoo is the 3rd solo album from Gruff Rhys and with the title itself being a supposed reference to Rhys's compulsive habit of taking and collecting the complementary shampoo bottles left in hotel rooms while being on tour (although this could just be an answer given by the record company to promote a slightly crazy mad genius mould they are trying to promote) its still a good title.

The album starts with the POP-tastic 'Shark Ridden Waters', a track that is already making waves (sorry) in a lot of people's play-lists including Miles Kane who recently named it in METRO as one of his favourite tracks of the moment. The album itself is a wonderful mixture piano ballads, psych pop, McCartney Beatles rather than Lennon, Brian Wilson arrangements as well as Crosby,Stills & Nash harmonies and vocal figures which especially show their influence on 'At The Heart Of Love' which almost sounds more like The Hollies than they do, splendid!

Each track that follows throughout the album has a minimum of 2 strong hooks and a wonderful chorus and tend to grind themselves into your mind after a single hearing like a beautiful day glow migraine. 'Honey All Over' and especially 'Sensations In The Dark' are proving that Gruff Rhys is currently hitting his creative stride and would be purple patch as his song writing has been raised a notch from his previous work and the Super Furry Animals records. Like all good albums it doesn't burn itself out or run out of steam too early 'Vitamin K' brings it down a gear tempo wise while at the same time keeping the quality level high. I can see an influence of Arthur Lee in the writing and his ideal that it doesn't matter how crazy and far out you get when recording a song or piece but to remember that the song is what matters ultimately and to never take your eye off the prize melodically. 'Take A Sentence' starts slowly with a horn figure in the book of Burt Bacharach but using it so delicately it doesn't over shadow the rest of the track or overstay it's welcome although with it clocking in just over 3 minutes like the majority of the tightly cropped songs here it doesn't give you time to get bored of it before moving on. With 13 tracks on the album it's easy to imagine that there would have to be some filler as such to pad it out and the first one to raise it's head would be the song 'Conservation Conversation' which sounds a bit too similar to previous songs, the lull doesn't last long as 'Sophie Softly' starts and brings the gold in sight once again although doesn't really detour from the main hook until the very end. 'Christopher Columbus' gives Rhys a chance to spread his wings creatively and shows a different side to his personality with it's fuzz riff lead guitar and pounding cut and shut drum track which keep it very interesting throughout as this is more Nuggets era garage R&B which is always welcome for me. What follows is 'Space Dust #2' and is a personal favourite of mine out of this collection of songs that present themselves here, with its beautiful male and female leads playing lines off each other sometimes echoing each other and sometimes replying with other lyrics. This is an example of what Brian Wilson would call a "pocket symphony" with its arrangement, production, strings, instrumentation, hooks and all clocking in under 2 minutes and 20 seconds is an achievement in itself, a gem indeed. The previously mentioned 'At The Heart Of Love' does indeed remind me of 'Our House' by Graham Nash although this isn't in any way a slight or negative comment on the track as personally being put up with an artist in this calibre can only be positive.

Recently there has been a re-emergence of bands looking to go back and make old sounding or "old skool" records that hark back to the late 60's early 70s but in most cases they tend to stick out like sore thumbs as being purpose made and fake as a Beatles wig, here I think Gruff Rhys has made a record that does remind me of music made in that era but not really any actual effects or production techniques used that make it particular "FAB" but more the quality of the music and song writing craft that has been presented. 'Patterns Of Love' is another song that stands it's ground and doesn't let the side down with key changes, whirling phaser Small Faces tricks and a strong vocal track although isn't as immediate as the following song 'If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)' which has to be climbing the invisible charts to one of the best songs of Rhys whole career with its quirky waltz tempo and beautiful slap back vocal echo. With its Bach like piano flourishes and steel guitar this is the point where the wave broke and shows the watermark to hit for Gruff Rhys when looking to put together his follow up, and yes folks he just about manages to break the 3 minute mark. The album concludes with 'Rubble Rubble' and although it sounds ok and doesn't offend the ear's in any respect it seems to be one of the 2-3 tracks that could have been snipped in the mixing stage without any ill effects to the whole package.

Out of the 3 solo album's Gruff Rhys now has under his belt (this being number 3) I would say its easily his best and although I'm sure The Super Furry Animals will record and tour again in the future this is definitely not a side project or something to be put out quietly online, his solo career is very real and very important indeed. One to watch? Too late, he's already here! Goo goo g' joob!

I spoke to Gruff about the new album and influences surrounding the record.

Gruff Rhys Interview
21st January 2011
Phone interview with Gruff Rhys
-Chris Lancaster

Q) Listening to the album pretty much on loop over the last week or so I feel that you've produced your strongest work to date. Did it feel any different making this album as opposed to your previous solo albums or The Super Furry Animals records?

A) Well I had a batch of songs at some period and I wanted this album to be a bit more refined than the last two solo records. The first album took a week, the second one took two weeks and I spent three weeks on this one so I wanted to make it more of an experience.

Q) Has there been any outside influences on the writing and overall sound of the album?

A) I suppose I wanted to cut myself off from contemporary pop culture and I think the songs were influenced by…. although nothing specific just by the stuff I grew up listening to. I wanted to try and write a Piano based album using early 70's records and influences.

Q) I heard more vocal influences on this album from people such as Brian Wilson and harmonies influenced by people like The Hollies coming through. Was that intentional or are they influential to that part of the sound?

A) Yes as well as some decadent west coast bands, heavyweight middle of the road records, and also Piano records like the first two Lou Reed solo records and John Cale’s solo records.

Q) I've been watching some of your live shows on youtube as an almost prefix to this album being released and they have been pretty stripped down affairs with just acoustic guitar, piano and some percussion. Have you had to accommodate these limitations and re-invent some of the arrangements so they differ from the album versions?

A) I was doing it really stripped down with acoustic where I do almost karaoke with the record although on the forthcoming tour I'm excited as a band called Y Niwl are coming on the tour as well. They are going to be helping me play my solo record live as well as performing their own set and hopefully we'll get the fullness of the record out there although it will have a kind of surf feel as well.

Q) When you’re writing a song do you ever feel that "this is a band song" or maybe "this is probably best kept for the solo album?"

A) Generally no, I mean songs just come into existence and I never really think of them being for a specific thing although with the 'Neon,Neon' record which was all about John DeLorean. We kind of sat down and wrote that as an album with a theme, it was an extreme way of working but exciting. Where as this record, some of the songs could have ended up anywhere really. We tried to record 'Take A Sentence' a few times before for the last solo record but it didn't really work out. Then there is a Super Furry Animals version with different lyrics that we tried although I think here I finally got it.

Q) Do you find it easier making a solo record in relation to a band one?

A) Yeah, although it's not necessary a good thing although it’s much easier. What’s great about making a band record is that it’s an adventure. No one individual can know how it’s going to sound until the end because five people making a racket, that can be an extremely exciting way of working. Where as making a solo record I usually know exactly how its going to sound and its just a matter of going into a studio and executing it, and that takes much less time. The exception was 'Shark Ridden Waters' where everything else was written in advanced that one just came into being accidentally in the studio.

Q) I saw you by chance in Amsterdam a few years back with Har Mar Superstar, do you like working with artists outside your typical genre of music to almost re-charge your creative batteries?

A) Well it’s an education to work with other people and see how they work and I've really enjoyed working with DJ's in the last few years. I suppose DJ's listen to more music than most people and they have some sort of understanding of the dark art of recording a good record. I tend to get pushed into unexpected territories with DJ's. I got to work a little bit with Dangermouse on a couple of things, and it was the same thing he's an amazing DJ, he can pick out the records that will keep people dancing for hours and I suppose this is what he then applies to his own records.

Q) You've managed to walk the fine line between experimental music as well as keeping one foot in the pop field. Do you always try and keep a commercial aspect to your work? Even when using studio trickery and loops and effects?

A) I suppose I’ve just got a kind of musical "sweet tooth" really, I've grown up listening to really melodic records. When I write songs the melody usually comes first and anything else is just detail. I do appreciate noise and texture as well but I just tend to write instinctively although it can sometimes be frustrating if a song becomes too predictable and I’m dealing in an idiom of predictable pop songs (laughs.) I always prefer when it’s something original, although it’s a fine line between making something original but that’s also good as well.

Q) Are there any bands or artists either new or old that you are currently listening to?

A) The record I’m listening to the most is Sonny & The Sunsets, from San Francisco. That was an extremely good record, just really great song writing. Well crafted songs but still sounding original and of its time.

Q) Are you happy with the final version of the album now its mixed, mastered and on route to the shelves?

A) Yes, there were a few surprises like 'Shark Ridden Waters' came out of nowhere when I was recording 'Christopher Columbus' and it went to a few different places that I didn't expect. I have been extremely happy with it, it’s my music comfort zone in a way as much as I'd like to re-invent the wheel, this album isn't the one for that, it’s just a really personal record.

Q) Another artist that is making waves at the moment is Miles Kane, I believe he played in the album adding some guitar?

A) Yeah he's an amazing guy, amazing surf guitarist as well, he plays on 'Space Dust #2' and he is just a guitar god (laughs)

Q) What’s next on the agenda for 2011?

A) I'm looking forward to touring the album and mixing between some solo gigs and others with Y Niwl, I haven't really been touring much in the last couple of years so it’s good to get out there. Other than that I have loads of other ideas for records and songs, god knows what'll happen as well as a Super Furry Animal record at some point although I don't know when.

Hotel Shampoo is released on 14th February…

special thanks to Stacey at The Art Of ...

'Originally posted on The 405'

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Veils EP Review...

Label: Pitch Beast Records
Release date: 24/01/11 :Official Site

Troubles Of The Brain is the first EP from The Veils since their departure from Rough Trade after almost 9 years and although leaving the cradle of Indie comfort that Geoff Travis and company offer, they seem to have taken the best parts and milked that puppy dry before moving on to pastures new. On the new EP here we have championed producer and Indie rock legend Bernard Butler behind the desk along with Finn Andrews and this is a move that may turn out to be the smartest of their ongoing career. The EP starts with the track 'Bloom' that lays the template for the muse throughout. The arrangement itself matches the title and blooms and builds up adding layer upon layer and transforms into a great indie pop gem. It continues with the Marc Bolan type 'Don't Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice' which really confirms to me that The Veils indeed mean business and are throwing the melodies and hooks out thick and fast especially here with oh lord hand claps as well, yes I feel I will be humming this for months to come. Expecting a mid EP lull in the running order I'm happily surprised when 'The Stars Came Out Once The Lights Went Out' and offer a definite contender for hit single. Its rolling drums and circular piano figure (I have no idea what that means either just go with me here) its bouncy, fun. Like The Cure if they'd played 'Love Cats' in rainbow t-shirts instead of goth makeup. I suppose it had to happen. 'The Wishbone' entered the fray and although it has a americana feel to it and perfectly melodic and interesting with its heavy off beat drum track it does stick out in this 7 track listing like…well a wishbone, if it was stuck in your throat. 'Grey Lynn Park' pulls the reigns back and steadies the ship with this Arcade Fire type slow burning track. The rest of the running order includes 'Us Godless Teenagers' and 'Iodine And Iron' and both are slow folky acoustic affairs that don't ever get off the ground. The former is probably the better out of the two in my opinion, although that isn't really saying much when compared to the early songs of the listing here which stand up as extremely strong indie floor fillers. Overall if this EP is a sample of new things to come from The Veils I hope they go down the road the first 3-4 songs have promised as opposed to the later tracks which are missing the sparks of the previous.

'Originally posted on The 405'

Sunday, 16 January 2011

captains log...

Right pop pickers I'm just checking in to let you know that I'm not resting on my skinny jean'd laurels somewhere out in the real world but in fact I've been working myself into a shaky state reviewing records by Gruff Rhys, Adam Goldberg, The Veils new EP and will be attending the listening party for the new R.E.M album this Wednesday in London, so as soon as all my reviews have been sent to the relevant parties and magazines that require them I will post them up here for your merriment and amusement. I have been really lucky recently that all the artists and bands I've been given to review have all been excellent which does make things easier and those morning train and bus journeys flow easier... keep your eyes peeled for updates soon, all locked and loaded....

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Anna Calvi - Album Review

Anna CalviAnna Calvi
Domino Records
17Th January 2011

Getting home on Monday night I could hardly get the key in the lock quick enough as the package from Domino records I could see on the other side of the glass in the door would mean only one thing and that was the Anna Calvi album was finally in my grubby mitts.

Those of you that have been reading my blog will have heard about Anna Calvi on occasion as I have reviewed a few of her gigs in 2010 on the London circuit and loved what I’d heard. I now have the album, and although the songs and the atmosphere of the recordings don’t let it down at all it does sometimes feel that the total incendiary abandonment of her live gigs isn’t always captured as fully as it could have been. Although this may seem negative this may seem small potatoes and almost elitist knit picking and I suppose it is although I would stress that I find the exclusion of one of her most beautiful songs “Moulinette” relegated to the B-Side of her debut single a bit of a choker. But enough of this mindless babble lets get to the album as a whole. The songs are sparse in arrangement but full of drama and heart and by doing this elevate Anna Calvi about a clear mile about the majority of female artists out there in radio land, her guitar playing for one is truly exceptional and although the guitar playing world is very male dominated and the hardened shredders of the world will purposely make the point of not liking her because she isn’t finger tapping with her toes she is definitely no slouch in the playing department and I think is showing almost all of the boring indie strummers of the world a thing or to about tearing into a solo without ever floating over to the 80’s ability over content guitar playing side of the road.

As far as singles are concerned I’m not sure about this one. The only track I can think of that would make the desired impression on the singles market would be “Blackout” and that’s simply because of the tempo rather than definite hook, although I would say that the whole idea of “looking for the single” a moot point considering the style of the album and if I were reviewing a Miles Davis record I doubt any of the tracks would crack the indie top 10 either.

Reading back through my words so far I hope I’m not giving the impression that I don’t like this record because I have it pretty much constantly on loop on my i-Pod as the song writing and almost “Blue Velvet” David Lynch style feel about it just hypnotizes me so I almost feel like I’m wasting my time if I try and listen to another act, no this is definitely a keeper.

Other tracks on the album that leap out include the opener “Rider To The Sea” the dusk till dawn sexy “No More Words” and the show stopping “Love Won’t Be Leaving” a song that show’s Anna’s influences from operatic and classical to Hendrix and heavy blues. A lot has been said about Anna’s vocal ability mentioning such artists as Maria Callas and Nina Simone although the one other singer that I can see that comparisons could be made to would be Jeff Buckley (and she does it much better than the Matt Bellamy’s of the world who leave no room for subtly and tone) with some songs starting with an almost inaudible quiet and tenderness before ending with a crescendo of emotion.

It’s only January and it seems unfair to other acts that the debut album of 2011 may have already been found within weeks of the first month. I have seen the future for 2011 and she’s carrying a telecaster and wearing lipstick.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Rodeo Massacre Interview
The Blues Kitchen
Camden Town

Rodeo Massacre. The band that has been getting the most plays and replays on my ever growing play list recently caught up with me for a chat regarding their new album 'If You Can't Smoke Em', Sell Em'. Located in the newly refurbished "authentic" bluesy atmosphere of Camden Towns 'Blues Kitchen' we discuss their goals, plan for 2011 and the beauty of a warbling Yoko Ono vocal inflection. Lovely.

Interview with Izzy (Vocals, Tambourine) and Zorba (Guitar,Drums,Vocals)

Q) Are you happy with the album?
A) (Izzy ) Overall I think we are really happy with the album, but there were 3-4 songs that were added at the end. The majority of the song's we'd been playing for over a year live and there were a few unfinished even up to a few days before recording, but we thought it could be good to add them.

Q) Which tracks were these? That were added at the end?
A) (Izzy) 'I've Got A Big Foot Now', (Zorba) 'Deadly Bite' also, all recorded at Raezor Studio's in Putney.

Q) Your sound and overall style on record particularly is very much in the same vein as early Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and some of the other Nuggets/ garage rock psychedelic bands of that era, what is it that attracts you to that type of sound and style?
A) (Zorba) It's more to do with making songs from your heart, writing a song, getting it down and recording it, bands now tend to over think every little thing, in the late 60's when they played live it was always a different experience from the album, and that's the way it should be I think.

Q) In relation to that have you found it difficult to reproduce some of the arrangements of the songs live as your line up is ever evolving and changing and you don't always have everyone who played on the recording to hand i.e. some gigs are just 2 piece.
A) (Izzy) Well we change them slightly although we have Pat (Pat Dam Smyth - Keys, Bass, Vocals) although its complicated, I try and explain it like we are a bit like an Art Collective which sounds a bit arty farty to say but we feel that we've had so many people involved since the start and keeping people hired always brings issues like money up and a lot of them just didn't have the dedication, they just wanted to be in a band really. They want a major record deal and get money and blah,blah but have no real passion about what they do. We make the sound as good as possible in the studio and then live we have friends coming up on stage and do it that way. (Zorba) That's why live I play the guitar and drums at the same time so some of the parts are simplified from the record, although we try and replicate it as close as possible although keep it interesting as well, more raw.

Q) Does this mean that each performance is actually different from the last? Even though you might be playing the same songs, the arrangements are slightly different every show?
A) (Izzy) That was the idea to keep it fresh every night. (Zorba) I have seen some bands that I like, for example Interpol I saw them twice and I don't need to see them three times, I've been to that show you know? (Izzy) We came to London and our mission is to bring some colour and generosity on stage to each other, we have seen bands that just reproduce over and over the same thing, we have an innocent mission to change all that.

Q) Listening to the song 'Desert Man' it uses brass and horn arrangements that create almost noise and dissonance at the ending, is someone like The MC5 and Sun-Ra influence you and this more free-form playing style?
A) (Zorba) Yes definitely, it was improvisation where like you had a point A and a Point C and how you got from one to the other was purely improvisation, (Izzy) I would like to just say that my favourite parts of the album are when I'm not singing (laughs) I love the ending of that song, its like an elephant march (sings) do,do,do,do (laughs)

Q) The song itself sounds almost like a long lost track from a Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film, would you ever allow your songs to be used in a film or do you feel each track is part of the whole album and should be listened to as a whole?
A) (Zorba) They can take whatever they want (laugh) (Izzy) That actually is one of our dreams to record a soundtrack for a film that would be amazing. I know that movies are important to us when we are writing songs and composing.

Q) What influences your writing and playing, especially for this album?
A) (Zorba) I listen to the same stuff that I always listened to, Gun's N Roses, Alice Cooper. (Izzy) We have very different tastes in music, I listen to mainly soul and blues records although I feel that the influences just kick in automatically when I'm writing. With vocals though its mainly male vocalists I like, more important than female singers.

Q) On the album you've covered the Alice Cooper track 'I'm Eighteen', how did that come about?
A) (Izzy) Well it was a dream to play this song anyway and to play it, but not just make a copy of it as we would always fall short of the original, we just played it in so many different ways in the studio before we decided to do it more of a campfire type arrangement (Zorba) When we recorded it in the studio it was done live and had Marco Pirroni (Adam & The Ants) on guitar and first he started playing it like the original but we changed it around and hope people don't think its too much of a crime or massacre of the original. (Izzy) People used to cover great classics in the 60's but nobody doesn't do it really any more, The Magic Numbers covered that Beyonce song (Crazy In Love) and made it into a really cool rock song.

Q) Is there any bands from today that you like or is it all 66-71 forever?
A) (Zorba) It's not like we are stuck in the past and have total blinkers on although there isn't really many bands I listen to from now, The Mars Volta were probably the last ones that surprised me with something good and original that rocked also Jack White is always great, The Black Angels I really like, Arcade Fire's new album is good. Bands now tend to come and go, they have a few hits, live they aren't so great and then they go. (Izzy) I would say that Pat Dam Smyth has just finished a solo album that is really great, I'm not sure if its out yet, but its very good, definitely one to listen to. I did want to get this 60's Indian psychedelic compilation that I saw in Rough Trade today but it was £16 and I only had £10 so I guess I'll have to wait for that (laughs).

'If You Can't Smoke, Em'Sell Em' is out on Label:Smoky Carrot Records on the 31st January

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Good morning 2011, where are the flying cars, meals in pill form, holiday's to the moon and teleportation, as well as the other futuristic inventions I was promised as we approached the year 2000.

There will be 2 updates this week as I have a gig review coming up on Thursday from psychedelic frontier warriors Rodeo Massacre as well as a album review of TV and Film star Adam Goldberg's new project The Goldberg Sisters. I'm sure with all the pending sales new open I will be filling my pockets with all manor of bargains and then digging out my ballpoint for another scathing review of something I will probably grow to like (as per usual).

Keep the faith my friends...and follow the weird naked Indian.