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.
Step forward Russell Hiscox, the ex-teenager ex-shoegazer, who is founder of the “I Was A Teenage Shoegazer” blog. As well as his blog, Russell has featured in the What We Wore book, a style history of Britain (that’s his page from the book in the pic above) and has written bits for Stereo Stories and Step On Magazine
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.
The Bodines – Therese
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Russell Hiscox the founder of “I was a Teenage Shoegazer” (https://teenageshoegazer.wordpress.com/), which has existed since 2008. Which is not just about the shoegaze scene but about indie music in the 90s.
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 email@example.com or DM us on Twitter
We are waiting in anticipation