Following our previous forays in to the world of “Variations On The Theme of Desert Island Discs” we have another stranded soul washed up on our fictitious indie island and ready to offload their innermosts.
We were delighted that Russell wanted to contribute to the EIO40 website in some way and we felt On An Indie Island With You would be a perfect platform to discover his inner indie workings. So over to Russell…
Initially I thought choosing my Desert Island Discs would be an easy task; just choose my most played songs on Last FM. The songs that mean the most are not necessary the ones you listen to all the time.
My overwhelming love of the nineties is evident in my choices. In 1991/92 I would go to gigs at the Joiners Arms in Southampton nearly every week and I would listen to the radio constantly. Taping John Peel at night and listening to it walking to school in the morning. During this time I was a permanent fixture at the indie disco. A night called Marshmallow Moon at the Hot House in Bournemouth.
Most people would predict that my choices would be a classic shoegaze line-up; My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride and Lush. Well there are a few surprises!
Mercury Rev–Car Wash Hair
When this was released it was really catchy, sing-a-long chorus but incredibly weird. If you compared it to the rest of Yerself is Steam it is one of the more accessible songs. There is an effect in the song which sounds just like a submarines sonar. It conjures up memories of cycling listening to a Walkman and feeling happy that Car Wash Hair was coming up. It was not as easy to skip through songs with a Walkman as an Mp3 player, and every time you compiled a new playlist that would mean using another TDK C90.
It is easily their most well-known song and I had the pleasure of seeing them perform live supporting Ride in 1991. I remember David Baker (then vocals in Mercury Rev) rolling around on the stage floor screaming into his microphone. I don’t know if they played Car Wash Hair as most on the songs were unintelligible. I saw Mercury Rev (without Baker) again in 1999 at the V Festival. A much less chaotic show and they performed a memorable rendition of Car Wash Hair and this was the only time I have seen anyone use a Theremin live onstage.
Spiritualized –Why Don’t You Smile Now
Spiritualized at their most Primal Scream. With a bit of swagger, “Yeahs” and “Whoahs” being used throughout the song. It is a change from the usual introverted psychedelia. It has the most epic wall of sound in indie music.
This song became my Holy Grail. I only had a recording of this on tape and it was only available on the b-side of the Smile/Sway which was released in 1991. I did not get into Spiritualized until 1992 and was only aware of this song when it was incredibly difficult to get hold of the single. I wrestled with my conscience was it worth getting a postal order (it was 1992, I did not have a cheque book) and sending it to Eastern Block or Sister Ray for just one song. I never did it.
In 2003 my girlfriend of the time got the song from Napster, and then it became widely available in Spiritualized’s Complete Works.
Depeche Mode –Enjoy the Silence
This takes me back to September 2004. I was in rehabilitation after a nasty accident and I had been in hospital for 3 months. During this time I lost interest in music. Family and friends would bring in things for me to listen to or the music press and I would not be animated by this at all.
I did not have anything to play music on either. If someone brought my CD player from home it would have to be PAT tested by the hospital handyman. It all seemed too much effort as I had difficulty staying awake for over 4 hours at a time.
In the room opposite mine was a patient who must of absolutely loved Depeche Mode and Talking Heads. I really enjoyed Enjoy the Silence and Road to Nowhere second. As soon as I was released back into the community again I went into HMV and brought Depeche Mode, The Singles 86-98 and The Best of Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime. This was the first time I had ever had any of their records.
I felt I could relate to David Gahan’s near death experiences at that time, and it seemed very poignantly coincidental.
The song reminds me of the Brit Awards in 1991. It won the Best British Single award as voted by the public. Controversially they had written to all their fanclub members and asked if they could vote for their track.
Spacemen 3 –When Tomorrow Hits
I didn’t really get into Spacemen 3 until 1998; in my early twenties. The last year of my degree, University up till that point had been a breeze. If you turned up to lectures, put something on paper, handed it in on time you got through. That had changed, I was due to leave university, in a few months and the pressure was cranked up. I didn’t know if I was going to pass, what I was going to do for work or even where I was going to live.
Every night I would come home from lectures and rest for an hour and have something to eat. Then at 6pm I would go to my room, put on Spacemen 3 and start writing up notes and essays. The drug-fuelled paranoia of Spacemen 3’s last album, Recurring, mirrored my own uncertainties about my future. Even the lonely, barren and harsh landscape of Dartmoor was reflected in the minimalistic first half of the album. The night would finish and I would go to bed. The next day would be the inevitable recurring cycle of lectures, dinner, essays and Spacemen 3.
Much of my love of C86 has come with age, this is the exception. This single used to be played every Saturday at the local indie disco. This was in the early nineties eventhough the single came out in 1986. But it is such a danceable number; I think it must have been played solidly from 1986 till 1992.
The Field Mice –This is Not Here
If there was ever a song that for me that epitomises shoegazing, it is ‘This is Not Here’. I was probably the only person into The Field Mice at school. This was when I realised that I was one of the coolest indie kids around. When I brought The Field Mice album that includes this track, I had to walk up to the counter in Our Price and they had to order it in for me. I would get respectful nods at my choices.
Then came the long wait. Cargo were the only distributer that could get the obscure indies, Our Price used to wait until they had at least six items to get from them before they placed their order. I would have to go to Our Price with my duplicate order and collect my purchase.
Lastly, there was someone at the Hothouse Bournemouth that had a Field Mice tour t-shirt. This trumped my best garment; a Thousand Yard Stare Stifled Aardvark long sleeved t-shirt.
The Stone Roses –I Am The Resurrection
I dithered putting this one forward as it has become a bit of cliché to be my age and love this song. The Stone Roses single-handedly transformed me from a football mad boy, into the indie youth culture. I constantly played this album and the closing track was the climax to a spectacular album. At the time it was really strange to me, to have a song over five minutes long.
In the Blackpool Live video Ian Brown sits on the stage towards the conclusion of ‘I am the Resurrection/ playing bongos with drumsticks. This is as iconic as Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival.
The House of Love – I Don’t Know Why I Love You
‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ is my favourite song by them and I will say that they have never had a bad release. Their music is like the internal monologue in my head.
I saw them perform in the day at Glastonbury in 1992. I really wanted to see them and it was one of my highlights of the festival. Pete Evans threw a broken drumstick in the crowd and I caught it. This is my most prized piece of memorabilia.
The Chrysalids –by John Wyndham
I was going to choose ‘Tai Chi Classics’ by Master Waysun Liao, but I can have this as my religious text instead of the Bible. My other top three books are ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Chrysalids’. I will go for ‘The Chrysalids’ it had me reading late into the night, the story twists and turns. It also led to the classic quote, “watch thou for the Mutant”. I am not going to say much about it because it needs to be read.
“Shall I mourn your decline with some Thunderbird wine and a black handkerchief?” Ian Dury, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.
I have fond memories of Thunderbird Wine and now you can’t get it at all. I did spot some on Amazon Prime but that would be £15 a bottle with the delivery. I would have a glass of Thunderbird Blue on the desert island and listen to my records.
Must Have Record
Without a doubt ‘When Tomorrow Hits’. It is my favourite song, and has the ultimate guitar wig out. When everything is coming apart, completely saturated in feedback and the whole world is collapsing. At this point they turn the volume to 11. A truly exhilarating experience.
My first indie moment was hearing The Stone Roses. I went from a school boy into football to a full-fledged baggy indie kid. My first gig was Cud at the Bournemouth International Centre, in 1991. I have never looked back since then. From Exeter Cavern, Salisbury Arts Centre, Royal Albert Hall to Glasgow Stereo I have seen most of the great indie bands. On my 40th birthday when asked if I wanted to do something special, I said that I wanted to go to There and Back Again Lane.
Other interests would be Recycling, Tai Chi and dreaming that Spacemen 3 would reform.
Thank you to Russell for that fantastic and enjoyable insight and for taking the time to contribute to EIO40. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter
Following our recent foray in to the world of “Variations On The Theme of Desert Island Discs” courtesy of @Shinpad11, we were delighted to be approached by another party wishing to step up to the indie confessional.
Seb Gevers aka @zerozero31 on Twitter has washed up on our indie desert island bearing only his collection of valued tunes and the memories associated with them. We’ve not known Seb a huge amount of time and in fact getting to grips with his many monikers has been a challenge in itself. Maclogg was an early trading style of @zerozero31 on Twitter and then he popped up on Facebook as Bas Gevers. When we got an email from him offering to contribute to the site, he was called Seb.
Whatever his real name, we certainly know him a lot better after reading this remarkable insight. So without waffling further we would suggest you just kick back and immerse yourself in Seb’s indie world as he guides you through his musical life.
My first musical memory comes from 1976. I had been left sitting in the car (it was the 70’s, so …) while my parents quickly went to the post office to do whatever it is you do at post offices. They must have left the radio on because, as I watched them disappear into the building, “Dancing Queen” by Abba came blasting out of the speakers. Even allowing for the fog of memory and the dreadful quality of the speakers in the car, Dancing Queen was, is, just a joyous happy song albeit with questionable lyrics (again, the 70’s …) that just puts a smile on your face whenever you hear that opening piano glissando (Editor’s note: a glide from one pitch to another, after consulting wiki).
I grew up listening to music from the 50’s and 60’s. My mother was the one with whom I share a love of music, her tastes being very broad. On any given Sunday in our house you could hear Amalia Rodrigues, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, something Tex-Mex, blues, R&B, doo-wop and, of course, Abba. My father was more into classical music and brass bands, two influences that have not, so far at any rate, rubbed off on me.
So there was always music in my life. Music remains important, because I can still hear pretty much any song and be able to relate a moment in time to it, like musical milestones on the road of my life. Looking back now on the music on my iPhone, it’s clear that my musical highway traverses the ages of 13 to about 26, which equates to the years 1982 to 1996, a golden era for indie music – post punk, new wave, C86, grunge, alt rock and Britpop. And as indie music is what this blog is all about, it comes as no surprise that having been left on a desert island, I need music to keep me company. I need indie music. The following eight are probably a good place to start …
The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture of You
Years ago, my local TV station up in Aberdeen, Grampian TV, used to kill the dead space between programmes with adverts, obviously, but occasionally also music videos. I’m not sure why they did this, but my guess is that somehow advertising revenue was hard to nail down between 3pm and 5pm, when the task of selling shampoo, tampons and washing-up powder to kids just home from school was something that even Saatchi and Saatchi would have had difficulty with.
So instead they’d play videos. And you have to remember that this was of a time when this was quite unusual for a regional broadcaster to do. Not many people had even heard of MTV, even though it had been around since 1981, so to see an actual music video was very unusual. Most of the time it was real dross, but occasionally something interesting would appear. It’s been a while, but I remember being introduced to, amongst others, Madness (“House of Fun”), The Stranglers (“Golden Brown”) and Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”) in this way.
They’d have played hundreds of songs I’m sure, but one in particular caught my attention. I don’t recall when I first heard it, but it must have been somewhere around 1983. Thatcher had just gotten re-elected on the back of victory in the Falklands War, the first episode of Blackadder had just been shown and I was about to go into my second year at Hazlehead Academy.
When the song came on, I stopped whatever I was doing, because in a year in which you had Wham, Culture Club, Kajagoogoo and Rod Stewart filling the charts, nothing sounded quite this different (the Flying Pickets perhaps being the exception, but, well, hey ho ..). So if you know the song, you’d know what that intro sounded like. A quiet, pulsing synth leads it off, it’s then joined by a woodblock, then even more synth voices (basically imagine any early 80’s synthesizer pad), then jangly guitar, finally a piano .. it all goes on for about a minute and half before the vocals, a bass, a particularly difficult drum pattern and lovely lyrics kick in making for a wistful tune, but a belter nevertheless.
I had no idea what the song was called, or who the artist was. In the days before you had SoundCloud on your smartphone (or you even had a phone, or the internet for that matter), there was no alternative other than to sit in front of the telly every afternoon waiting for the commercial breaks between episodes of the godawful “A Country Practice” and reruns of “Columbo” hoping that it would come on again so I could get my fix of not only the song, but also the rather delightful young lady in the video.
Having remembered to keep a pencil and a piece of paper near the TV to write down the name of the song (“The First Picture of You”, as it turned out) and the artist (the exotically named Lotus Eaters), I rushed out to our local record shop – One Up, which was then still on Union Street – to get hold of a copy. I ended up buying the picture disc version which I cherished and looked after, the disc itself being, in a sort of easily-impressed-13-year-old kind of way, a work of art. But whatever hopes I had of it somehow ending up being the next undiscovered A&M copy of “God Save The Queen” are long forgotten – I hear my lush picture disc might be worth as much as £8 now.
So this was pretty much their only hit, everything else that followed not even coming close to repeating the highs of “The First Picture Of You”. Their final single “Hurt” reached number 5 in the Italian charts, by which time the band had been dropped by their label before eventually splitting somewhere around 1985. Of course, they didn’t know any of this yet. Back then, Peter Coyle, Jem Kelly, Ged Quinn, John Hendry and Phil Lucking believed this song would lead them to bigger and better things, to fame and fortune beyond their wildest dreams. It didn’t, but I still have this single somewhere, in a drawer, in a box. I can’t play it anymore, the record player long having disappeared into the nearest charity shop. But now we have the internet I can play this song whenever I want. Time may dull the memory, but the song remains the same. A fabulous slice of summer pop so it is.
Billy Bragg – Greetings To The New Brunette
Round about the same time I was being introduced to The Wedding Present by John Peel. One evening he played a track called “They’ve Got A Bomb” by delightful anarcho-punk band “Crass”. He had a way of doing that you know, John Peel, taking you out of you comfort zone, hitting you with something completely unlistenable just when you were bopping along to the Undertones, or some Ukrainian folk music collective.
Now, I had been listening to a lot of punk at the time – the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers etc and so on, but Crass, Jesus, they made Johnny Rotten look like Johnny Mathis. Crass were everything I thought punk stood for: politics, action, revolution and change in a way that the sort of stuff I had been listening to just didn’t. “London’s Burning” is all very well, but no one I was listening to sang about the things that Crass did on Do They Owe Us a Living: “At school they give you shit / drop you in the pit / You try, you try, you try to get out / but you can’t because they’ve fucked you about”. And even now, thirty years later, listening to “Asylum” still gives me the shivers.
Listening to Crass in the early 80’s in Britain made me stop and think about the world around me. I was only about fourteen at the time, but seeing the striking miners on the news every night as they struggled to keep their jobs and their communities together in the face of the brutal onslaught of the monetarist economic policies unleashed by Thatcher at the height of her powers, I knew that the world was not a fair place. Punk was supposed to be a catalyst of revolution, but somehow it had failed to materialise. In bands like Crass, and to some extent Angelic Upstarts, I realised that safety pins and fashionable boutiques along the Kings Road selling swastika t-shirts are not the answer. I mean, I still listened to Prefab Sprout, but at the same time I began to look more critically at was was going on.
Having asked my dad what segment of the political spectrum Thatcher represented, I vowed that whatever she believed in, I would believe the complete opposite. So, one evening in the Central Library in Aberdeen, I picked up a copy of the Communist Manifesto and slowly worked my way through that. It was hard going, but I understood the general thrust of what Marx was saying. A bit later on I picked up Animal Farm, 1984 and A Brave New World to reinforce my fundamental belief that the world was basically a dysfunctional place, led by a corrupt elite that had only their own selfish interests at heart and would stop at nothing to keep the status quo.
Throughout all this period, during which I must have been insufferable, I also picked up at the library a copy of “Workers Playtime” and “Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” by Billy Bragg. I’d never heard of him, but I was initially attracted by the Workers Playtime album cover, with its flag waving communists proudly on show. Figuring that this sort of artwork could only mean I’d found a political musical soul mate, I took the records home and played them pretty much non-stop.
I loved Workers Playtime, there’s a lot of great tracks on there, but it was “Talking..” that really enthused me with it’s mix of politics (“Ideology”, “There Is Power In A Union”) and everyday life (“The Home Front” , “The Warmest Room”). Those last two tracks in particular still invoke a particular sentiment nearly 30 years later, a nostalgia for an era I never knew, an era that comedian Stewart Lee would call “the post-war socialist utopia, contract with the people, Call The Midwife etc”.
But the song that stands out for me is the opening track – “Greetings To The New Brunette”. On an album that’s got some heavy moments on it, lyrically, “Greetings To The New Brunette” is like a breath of fresh air. Think of it as a Ringo Starr number, like “Octopuses Garden” just turning up in the middle of Abbey Road, and you’re like “what the hell… “. That kind of thing.
So “Greetings” (only real fans get to call it that) is really about politics and sex. The former was a big issue for me back in 1986, when “Brunette” (ok, just joking now) was released; the latter less so, but not for the lack of hoping. Put it this way, it was easier to get my hands on a copy of the collected works of Chairman Mao than it was getting my hands on Yvonne Mintie from the 5th form who lived on the end of our street and for whom I had “a thing”, as was the parlance of the day.
Interesting trivia – being a political song, I always thought the Shirley referred to was Shirley Williams, the former Labour and Lib Dem grandee. Tehee. So this song is important because it happened to me at that point in time when my burgeoning social conscience met plain old crude puberty. A tense meeting of minds, as seen in a mixtape I made at the time, where “Suspect Device” is followed by Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet. A lovely song then, both lyrically and musically that evokes so much. Another track to pull me through the lonely evenings on the island.
Portishead– Wandering Star
Life on a desert island is not always going to be fun. There’s going to be times, probably at night when the animals come out and a murky gloom falls over the lagoon. And if we’re talking gloom you can only go one of two ways: either Jesus and Mary Chain gloom (think “Deep One Perfect Morning”), or film noir gloom. And that’s where this track comes in. Actually, that’s where the whole first Portishead album, Dummy, ought to come in.
It’s a masterpiece of the trip-hop genre, the sort of atmospheric yet slightly edgy music that, when you close your eyes and just immerse yourself in it, you can just see a whole scene in front of you. Black and white, late at night, in the rain. Cobbled streets, a club somewhere, dark and gloomy, avant-garde patrons, an expectation of something strange and dangerous and otherworldly going on.
This track is as near to that sort of perfection as you can get. From the steady du-du-du-du bass line, the harmonica sample, the jazzy solo – wonderful. Yeah, “Glory Box” is a better song, but “Wandering Star” just sounds different to me every time I hear it. And every time I see with my eyes shut, it plays a different scene in my mind. It’s a track that keeps on giving, making it an essential track on the island – it’s a track that I could never get bored listening to.
Slowdive – Celia’s Dream
This track, from 1991’s “Just For A Day”, is one of those constants on whatever music storage device I’ve owned over the years. To think that most of this is done using feedback and a wall of effects pedals (and this is where the term shoegaze comes from, from musicians on stage looking down at their pedal banks) is just astonishing. I mean, I’ve owned a few guitars and effects over the years but never quite managed to make feedback sound this good.
Slowdive (the name alone is brilliant) were one of those shoegazing acts (see also Chapterhouse, Ride and Lush) that broke through around this time. There’s something very immersive about Slowdive. My favourite way to listen to a Slowdive album is in the dark, on the floor, with a decent set of headphones and, above all: volume! My idea of shoegazing heaven would be listening to the first two Slowdive albums whilst floating in one of those isolation tanks. Again, not sure where I first heard this but it’s been a perennial favourite ever since, along with “Alison” from the Souvlaki album.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin– Happy
Having spent most of my teenage years young (by default), free (inasmuch as you can be free whilst living at home) and single (through general outward appearance), by 1991 I had somehow managed to get myself a girlfriend. We were both in college at the time. I was studying computing science (not very well, see track 6) and we’d spend literally hours sitting next to each other, sending email back and forth on the college’s Univac computer with it’s brown and yellow screens and the interminable keyboard shortcuts. We had arranged a date, all without direct verbal contact, all done through email much like the way it’s done nowadays.
So on the afternoon of the date I went out and bought, apropos of nothing, two things from the HMV in town: Ry Cooder’s first album (I wanted to get a copy of “Police Dog Blues”, a track I had heard on Paul Jones’ Rythm and Blues Show on BBC Radio 2 the week before) and the single “Happy”, by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I was into The Wonder Stuff and The Levellers at that time, so from there to the Neds was not a huge leap into the dark.
I think I might have seen them on Top Of The Pops or something, the whole two-bass thing being quite a novelty. In fact, that’s what makes the song for me, that bass line on the intro. Again, not one of those lyrically deep songs that says something to you about your life, but it’s the sound, it’s the bass, it’s the guitars that plant this song firmly into the “I remember where I was when” category. In this case, I remember where I was when I first heard Happy: on my way to a disastrous first date that ultimately led, three years later, to a failed relationship and a rather hefty financial settlement. Still, those basses, eh?
The House of Love– Hope
Another survivor from the drives around the town, “Hope” comes from the House of Love’s eponymous debut album. Like much of the Wedding Present’s early work, the lyrics only became clear once the internet had been invented and someone bothered to put the words to the songs up. “It’s a lie on a seat of a night / When you’re bawling like a baby”, which I heard as “It’s a life on a seat of a knife / when you’re bold and lack a baby”. The fact that these words made absolutely no sense bothered me not a jot as I drove my little Vauxhall Nova (with the alloy wheels and sporty steering wheel) around the streets of Aberdeen at night, terrorizing pedestrians with 80’s alternative pop, mouthing misheard lyrics in their general direction.
I first heard The House of Love somewhere around the early 90’s. I had just started a course at Uni (see also track 5) and rather than listen to my maths lecture (a deeply tedious subject given by a deeply tedious man whose name I cannot recall but whom we all called Doris) I would sit at the back of the lecture theatre and listen to “Destroy The Heart” and “Christine” and “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” until the batteries on my Walkman gave out. Which, for anyone who remembers Walkmans, happened fairly quickly.
But this song always sticks out for me, partly because I used to listen to it all the time (probably because I was constantly rewinding the tape to make sure Guy Chadwick really didn’t sing “when you’re bowling like a lady”) and partly because it’s one of the songs I’ll always associate with living in Aberdeen.
The House of Love, like most of the tracks in this list have not only a spiritual home, they also have a geographical home, mostly around the north east of Scotland. As far as I know The House of Love are still going, but it’d take a lot to better this album and this song. So, this one makes it onto the island to remind myself of home.
The Wedding Present– Never Said
Like most of the songs I’m taking to my desert island, I was introduced to the Wedding Present by John Peel. It was probably around 1989, and I was out on one of my drives around the town. I liked to borrow my dad’s car and go driving around Aberdeen, the music providing a backdrop to the world rushing by outside the windows.
It was at the traffic lights somewhere along Union Street while waiting for the cassette deck to wind back “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” by the Clash that I first heard that “da da da dadadadadada da da da dadadadadadada” intro to “Kennedy” from 1989’s Bizarro. I remember being struck first and foremost by the guitar sound, an unrelenting wrist-damaging assault by pick on string, and by the lyrics, and by the extended outro (some 2 minutes long). Having heard that, after the roaring silence that followed the end of that song my life was never the same again.
As a 19-year old for whom the ladies were not exactly lining up around the block, or indeed any form of architectural construct, David Gedge spoke to me directly. It was like listening to The Smiths at 78 rpm, at once mixing my drab existence with unattainable hopes of (ultimately failed) romantic encounters. If Alan Bennett had played bass and not written for a living, this is the band he’d have been in.
Having been initiated into the world of the Weddoes, I sought out their albums. In 1989 having only released Tommy and George Best that wasn’t that difficult, my local Our Price Music obliging. I finally got to see them in the Music Hall in Aberdeen somewhere around 1991. And jings, they were LOUD. Having somehow ended up near a speaker, I spent most of the next two hours being aurally punched in the stomach whilst simultaneously having my eardrums punctured.
There are three versions of the Wedding Present. There’s the Tommy/George Best jangly guitar, student bedsit Wedding Present. Then there’s the mid-career, edgier Bizarro/Seamonsters/Hit Parade Wedding Present, and then there’s everything else that followed. In that last incarnation I’m not that interested (though ‘The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend” is a stand-out track).
And so the song I would pick, the one that just encapsulates everything the Wedding Present are about – and there’s a lot to choose from – it would be “Never Said”, from Tommy. “I’ve walked behind you for more than an hour / I don’t even think I know this part of town / I think I’m trying to find a way to talk to you again / I think I’m trying to find a way to bring you back again / Oh won’t you please come back again”.
You can keep your Ed Sheeran, that’s real teenage angst right there kids.
Oasis– Cast No Shadow
Ah. Britpop. Whenever I think of Britpop I always think of the bloke who lived in the flat above me. Stan, his name was, and he’d play Robbie Williams every night before he’d go up the town. I reckon he only had the single “Angels” as it was all he ever played. After a night out you’d hear him struggling up the stairs at 2am, more often than not with some bird he’d picked up on his trawl, followed by a lot of crashing and banging. Then silence (“wait wait wait, you’ve got to hear thish song from Robbie Williamsh, itsh <belch> fabuloush.”), then “Angels”, the loud singalong version, and then after two repeat plays there’d be more banging, if you get my drift.
None of which has anything to do with my final choice of track on my indie desert island other than that it came from the same period.
So, I was an Oasis fan. Well, to my friends and acquaintances at least that is, because I was in fact, during that whole period, a sheltered, closeted Blur fan. To me and most of the popular press at the time, Blur where the Beatles, purveyors of carefully crafted, lyrically clever music, while Oasis where the Stones. Grunts, balls to the wall, in yer face RAWK. Blur had cheeky chappy music, they had Phil Daniels, they had music with wit and humour. Oasis just had volume, an overdrive pedal and somone named Bonehead. Oasis was real man’s music, Blur whimsical art-college faffery. But to this day I still prefer the Beatles, even though I’ll admit to anyone who asks that the Stones wrote the better music.
Still, it’s Oasis that seem to have stood the test of time. Every weekend, “Wonderwall” is played at some wedding somewhere around the country. After a Christmas single (apparently Paul McCartney still rakes in more than £500k per year from “Wonderful Christmas Time”), this is the next best thing, having your songs sung in chorus in a Best Western hotel next to a motorway by groups of drunken middle-aged men standing in a circle with their ties tied around their heads, air-guitaring away and getting the lyrics wrong. (I suspect this is very much the way that my neighbour Stan spent his early Sunday mornings back in the day.)
So, where was I? Oh yes. Oasis. Desert Island. So in the early 90’s I was working for a large computer company that no longer exists, having been bought over by a company that makes printers as well as, it turns out, a malt vinegar-based sauce, blended with tomato, dates, tamarind extract, sweetener and spices. They’d send us down for a week to Farnborough where we had a training center. Essentially, this training turned into a week-long binge-drinking session on account of our ridiculous per-diem rates which allowed us, if we pooled our resources together, to clean out the hotel mini-bar every evening for a week and still come out the other end with money to spend. So we’d get drunk, then decamp to someone’s room where we’d all sing along to “Angels” at top volume.
After one particularly gruelling trip in which I had learned nothing except the price of a pint of Bailey’s (£27 back in the day, or £45 in today’s money) I remember hearing “Cast No Shadow” on the radio, and I remember thinking that this was not the way I imagined my life to go, in a shitty hotel, eating shitty food with a stinking hangover in a dining room full of photocopier salesmen from Guildford while the airshow was going on (“shut the fucking windows!!!!”).
Somehow the words “Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay / Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say/ As he faced the sun he cast no shadow” resonated with me, and I resolved there and then to change my life, just as soon as I got back to Aberdeen.
So whenever I hear this song, it reminds me of a time in my life when change was needed. It’s a song that fills me with hope, even though the lyrics are not that positive. I guess the message is not to turn into the man in the song – casting no shadow, being invisible, a nobody. It’s what I strive for everyday I think, though not always with success.
Must Have Track
There’s so many tracks that I considered that would make any list, but I can only choose eight. Gone are The Smiths, The Sundays, The Stone Roses, Nirvana, Tad, Dodgy, Sleeper, Blur, Belle and Sebastian, Turin Brakes, the Delgados. I could just have asked for the entire soundtrack to Monkey Dust series one, two and three. I’d have had Goldfrapp with me on the island in that case, or Eels. But alas.
No, the track the rescue party would have to pry from my cold, dead, sunbleached hands would be: “Greetings To The New Brunette”. Lovely song, lovely lyrics, lovely times.
I’m not really sure what an Indie book would be. Apart from “A Beat Concerto” (Paolo Hewitt’s autobiography of The Jam) I don’t own any music books. Music is for listening to, not for reading about. So I’d probably bring something by Irvine Welsh, perhaps the Trainspotting, Filth, Glue and Skagboys anthology, if such a thing exists. Welsh often references music in his books, so I get by here on a technicality.
A luxury item
Tricky this. I’d like to bring a guitar so that I can do my perfect cover of “There She Goes” at passing ships as they sail off into the distance, but being an Indie island I’d have to bring my best baggy cardigan. It’ll keep me warm when I’ve burned my way through the Bible and the collected works of Shakespeare.
In short: Bloke. Life. Mortgage. Music. Football. Scotland. Holland. The odd photograph. You’re going to need a tray.
Okay, a bit longer then: I’m Seb Gevers, a mid-forties father of four and husband of one. I play a bit of guitar and sometimes also a bit of drums. Neither with any great proficiency, but then that didn’t stop most of the bands that I listened to in my teens, bands which I realise now would be called ‘indie’. I live in Netherlandshire, a small country just to the left of Germany. In a country not exactly known for its indie credentials (Betty Serveert aside), I dream of the good old days when John Peel was on the radio, The Word was considered ‘edgy’ and Chris Evans would have Sleeper on his show.
Back in the day I used to do a lot of writing about Scottish football (hey, someone had to) and sometimes also about music, both topics I’d very much like to get back into writing about. So if anyone wants to talk about that space where Scottish football, midlife crises and indie music overlap, I can be found on Twitter (@zerozero31) and occasionally on Tumblr (zerozero31.tumblr.com). Also, less interestingly, on Instagram. I’ll leave you to figure out the username.”
Thank you to Seb for that fantastic and enjoyable insight and for taking the time to contribute to EIO40. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at email@example.com or DM us on Twitter
Here we divert our attention away from the artists and bands and shine a light on some of those individuals whose contributions in our social media world have been an invaluable source of musical joy. By asking a series of 10 questions we want to get inside the mind of a selected community member and understand their indie DNA.
A Meet The Community for bodlingboy has been on our radar pretty much since day one, but we’ve been holding back waiting for the right time. With the first anniversary of our 30 Years Of Indie Albums interactive feature upon us, that time has arrived.
This time last year we were recovering from the inaugural Indie Advent and enjoying some post Xmas down time when that DM from bodlingboy hit us, suggesting a 30 Years Of Indie Albums as the next interactive feature. Realising that the month of January offered a perfect opportunity to run a daily interactive event covering 30 years, we put bodlingboy’s suggestion to the top of the in-tray, feverishly devised a format in the limited time available and dived headlong a chaotic month of guest judges, random years and musical banter.
So we have to thank bodlingboy for a month of Kalms and Pro Plus dependency and the four-fold increase in our mobile phone bill due to data allowance breaches. However, we also have to thank him for his part in a month of intense musical mayhem the after-shocks of which are still rumbling a year later.
Of course, that wasn’t our first contact with bodlingboy. The foundations were already laid through a variety of interactions on Twitter and we had begun to build a profile of the man. We knew for example that he rather liked a flutter and that he was an avid fan of Aston Villa Football Club. We’re not sure he’ll be laying down any bets on his precious Villa beating the drop though.
We also didn’t need to employ the services of Marple to find out bodlingboy’s favourite band. With a Twitter banner and profile pic both featuring images of The Family Cat cover art, the case was well and truly closed.
The one thing that we have learnt for the first time about bodlingboy is that his real name is David Crutchley. But calling bodlingboy “David” would be akin to referring to Bez as “Mark”. So we’ll stick with plain old boldingboy if it’s all the same to you David.
So without further ado, let’s meet @bodlingboy
1) Where did you grow up?
I grew up in and still live in Birmingham
2) What first got you into “indie” music?
Probably listening to my sister’s boyfriend’s albums of the late seventies and early eighties, especially Stranglers, Magazine and Joy Division (although for that privilege I had to suffer a lot of Tangerine Dream)
3) What was the first “indie” record you bought?
First indie record I bought was Blue Monday – New Order (more for the sleeve than the record). It got lost in the great bodlingboy fire of the late nineties. Vinyl burns a lot quicker than furniture, remember that kids!!!!!!!)
4) What was your favourite record shop?
In Birmingham had to be Tempest records. Just loved going down there on a Saturday and just milling around with not much intention of buying but just the anticipation of what records they would play in the shop
5) What music magazines did you read?
Magazine-wise was all the usual ones but had a real soft spot for “Sounds” and “Melody Maker” and the monthly glossy was always “Select”
6) What was your first “indie” gig?
First proper indie gig would have been around 1986 at Burberries in Brum watching Mighty Mighty supported by the Boatymen and a few weeks later The lilac Time. Got in for free as a girl I knew was copping off with Stephen Duffy
7) What was your most memorable “indie” gig? And why?
Loads of memorable gigs but strangest was when I was doing flyers for bands at gigs. There I was handing flyers out dressed a bit like the shopkeeper from Mr Benn when a voice boomed out “ooooiiiiiiiiii you with the fez go get my brother!”, I replied “it’s not a fez you idiot it’s a skull cap!”. “Go get my brother!” he screamed. So I ran backstage got the said brother. They both then went on to have massive argument at the front door, before 2 bouncers split them up and dragged them backstage.
As you’ve probably guessed this was Oasis, they were supporting Saint Etienne who I watched with Noel and Alan McGee. I think Liam was outside fighting a kebab seller or swearing profusely at a fake pot plant.
8) What 3 “indie” albums would you take to a desert island?
On my desert island I would be listening to Stone Roses (s/t), Buffalo Tom “Let Me Come Over” and Pixies “Doolittle”. That’s assuming the boat I get sunk on also had travelling on it all the members of the Family Cat and their instruments so they would be my desert island house band
9) What “indie” band/artist would you most like to meet?
I’ve actually met quite a few including the Family Cat, so would have to be the Pixies including Ms Deal
10) What one song defines your indie-ness?
I’ve never been quite sure what “indieness” actually is but a song to maybe define mine a little bit would be “Love In A Car” – The House of Love
In this regular feature we ask the IndieOver40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
THE INDIE TOP TEN PERFORMANCES ON “THE WORD”
I miss The Word. Moreso than I probably should, especially given that I can only remember watching a handful of the 106 episodes that were broadcast. I am not entirely sure exactly what I was doing late on a Friday evening in the first half of the 1990s, having turned 18 at the very start of that decade. It certainly wasn’t watching telly, though. Which is a bit of a shame, because subsequent research has revealed a number of my favourite bands were introduced through the nasal charm of Terry Christian and that I remained completely oblivious. Lucky for you then that I’m not relaying my own favourite Top Ten Appearances on The Word, because this wouldn’t be a particularly long Top 10. Instead, here are your suggestions, in no particular order.
1. Mega City Four play ‘Stop’
Introduced by the nation’s then-favourite American Katie Puckrit, Mega City Four managed to take time out of their scheduled 9,218 gigs per year for a rare live appearance on television. If I had been in to watch this I might have been persuaded to invest a couple of quid in their music. Instead that cash was probably invested in a couple of pints of Joseph Holt’s best bitter. @Dalliance68 saw it though, and now you can too:
2. Rage Against The Machine play ‘Killing In The Name’
This blew @NiceMarker mind when he saw it, and the clip you are about to see is introduced by another nice Mark – Mark Lamarr. Only don’t let your ma see this clip, cos he gestures with a solitary finger which goes against his otherwise nice persona. By the end of the clip it would appear guest Chris Eubank is wondering whether his skills as a diplomat may be needed in the stage-front affray. Disappointedly, he realises not
3. Thrum play ‘So Glad’
I’d never even heard of Thrum before compiling this Top Ten, so thanks to @darrenmjones for suggesting this jaunty guitar pop song from the penultimate year of episodes (that’s 1994, if you’re counting). It was always enjoyable watching the gathered audience try to look enthused and invigorated by a band they clearly had never heard of, and Thrum opened the show having come ‘all the way down from Scotland’, according to Terry Christian. It must have seemed like another country to him.
4. The Charlatans play ‘Crashin’ In’
The Word was always about more than just the music. It was a reflection on the popular youth culture, style and fashion of the era. The Charlatans made a few appearances on The Word during its six year run (that’s 1990-1995 if you weren’t counting before but are now) and it is indeed the fashion that has lodged this particular performance firmly in the memory of @pillshark73. “I was very jealous of that coat”, he says. It is a nice coat, mind you… Good old Terry has to remind us who the band is, still around a whole four years after their debut album was at No. 1 in the charts. Who would have thought such longevity be possible?
5. Dinosaur Jr. play ‘Start Choppin’
Normally the podiums around the stage were filled with over-enthusiastic under-paid dancers seeking maximum attention for their minimally relevant dance moves. When Dinosaur Jr. made this appearance the dancers were seemingly substituted for head-nodding teenagers pretending to be one of the background dancers in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The band are oblivious, lost in their own creativity, and fail to notice the audience’s polite cues to be bring their @ocallingham and @_sandywishart nominated performance to an end.
6. Stereolab play ‘French Disko’
I must have been ill, or maybe had been tipped the nod by the NME or something, but here is a band I did manage to see on The Word. @sharpster70 also saw Stereolab, and wanted to draw your attention to what is a very fine version of their classic ‘French Disko’. Laetitia Sadier looks suitably dubious about the throng collected in front of the stage whilst Tim Gane does a fine impersonation of Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout. And is that really a gladiator on one of those podiums?
7. Ride play ‘Leave Them All Behind’
Hailing from Oxford and being polite British indie boys RIDE were never going to do a Dinosaur Jr. and outstay their welcome, not even when bringing their eight minute long epic ‘Leave Them All Behind’ to the show. @Archieboyo recalled this performance amongst a few other bands’. It’s probably not the best live performance RIDE ever did, the harmonies causing the odd wince here or there, but it’s worth a watch just for Mark Gardener’s fringe.
8. Oasis play ‘Supersonic’
At the time The Word was one of very few opportunities for up and coming bands to get some televisual exposure. I wonder if Noel and Liam were sat watching RIDE thinking ‘one day we’ll have their guitarist in our band’? Or even ‘one day we’ll be on this show’? Angela Browne nominated the Mancunians’ debut TV appearance. Did these City-supporting Mancunians specifically ask not to be introduced by the United-supporting Christian? It is one of the rock’n’roll mysteries that maybe will never be solved.
9. The House Of Love play ‘Marble’
Not a single, not even a track from a proper album but a mid-price release (presumably allowing Fontana Records to recoup their losses after Guy Chadwick’s writer’s block hindered the band’s progress) yet ‘Marble’ on The Word was one of The House Of Love’s finest moments. Never mind the cod-psychadelic super-imposed graphics behind the band, just marvel at the sheer fury of those guitars and the bitterness of Chadwick’s vocals. Nominated by me, because no-one else did.
10. L7 play ‘Pretend We’re Dead’
This was easily the most-suggested clip, attracting nominations from @jones_jamie, @bringitonskippy, @Hipster6 and @RiverboatCapt in addition to others already name-checked. Interestingly, none of the nominators appeared to remember the name of the track. Maybe the performance was more memorable for something else?
So there you have it. The EIO40 Top 10 Appearances on The Word. If you want to further relive your youth, why not down a couple of cans of Kestrel, make a fried egg sandwich and head over to Terry Christian’s own YouTube Channel which has loads more clips of your favourite bands playing live, if nowt else.
Listen out on Facebook & Twitter for further Indie Top Ten themes. We need your help.