radiobombast header image 1

radiobombast

7
Jan 2015

The Hall of Legends - Heidi Berry: Transmission 179, 2015 January 6

https://radiobombast.podbean.com/mf/web/jidxhs/heidiberrybelowthewaves.jpgWe herewith induct Heidi Berry into the BOMBAST Hall of Legends, where she joins The Durutti Column, John Peel, Breathless, This Mortal Coil, The Wolfgang Press, The Dub Syndicate, A.R.Kane, Little Annie, Dif Juz, Prince Far I, Coil [part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4], Billy Childish, Stereolab [charter members], and The Fall [charter members].

Welcome to all, but first-time visitors especially. I hope you stick around and listen to a "regular" program or two sometime, whether live or at your convenience. This website is not just an archive of the program, but a blog / diary / collection of unpublishable prose / whatever. It's free to you, so I make no apologies for what's here! You want audio only? Just page-down until you find the link.

"I don't like singer-songwriters," I once told my boss at the record store. We were arguing the merits of...oh, probably better if I don't say. "Ah, this must have been before Heidi Berry," you are thinking. No--it's still true, I don't like singer-songwriters. (Regular listeners will have gleaned this.) But I do like Heidi Berry's music, and always have. That it hasn't turned me on to Nick Drake, or Sandy Denny, or Tim Hardin, or Bridget St. John, or whoever, could well say something about my shortcomings as a person. Or maybe, instead, it says something about the Heidi Berry records, and what complete experiences they are.

https://radiobombast.podbean.com/mf/web/s8ekdg/lostgirls.jpgIn the Lost Girls liner notes, Patrick Fitzgerald describes Heidi's voice as "stately...demanding to be heard." And it did make this demand of me, under circumstances that now seem completely accidental.

We've been over the issue of compilations. I love them, but not everyone does. Why I bought Doing It For The Kids, exactly, I don't know. It must have had something to do with liking Felt, and how difficult it was to find Creation records 6000 miles from London, and how dirt-cheap this record was. [Aside--if you think I never wrote to Alan McGee about how expensive Creation records were, much less wrapped that note around a demo tape to which he never responded, YOU DON'T KNOW ME AT ALL.] Anyway, I remember getting hold of it sometime around its release, listening to it once, not having it make an impression on my addled, distracted consciousness.

For whatever reason I was drawn back to it sometime later, no doubt during some adolescent crisis or other. I found myself listening to it really late at night, and quietly, so as not to wake my roommates. Somehow, amidst all the "boy rock bands," it was that song that stood out: "Northshore Train," with that voice, insistent. "who is THIS?" I more or less told myself it didn't matter, because I'd never see one of her records. Oh, well; at least I'd have this tune, which was much better than nothing.

https://radiobombast.podbean.com/mf/web/68kvmg/heidiberrylove.jpgThe thing about working at record stores, though--sooner or later everything comes through. In comes a seller, looking to unload Below the Waves and Firefly: yoink! "Wonder what she's up to now," I thought, with a few more Creation comps (there certainly were a lot of them) in my collection, and no sign. This must have been 1991--news travelled so slowly pre-internet. Then, a few months later, 4AD and Warners trumpet their ill-fated marriage with yet another compilation--the Lilliput cd/book/t-shirt combo [you know I still have the shirt], with--what?--WHAT--on it? A Heidi Berry song? But what's she doing here? And how did my store and my radio station miss her latest album, which was almost a year old at this point? [I'm telling you, life was rough.] Anyway, my point, to the extent that there is one, is about accidents, and music falling into one's hands against all probability.

I've learned, often the hard way, that nothing is meant to happen. There is only what actually happens. Happily this music crossed my path (those comps are good for something), and now it's crossing yours, if it hasn't done so already.

But here's another thing I said once: "I have to listen to Heidi Berry records all day." I said this just the other day, to Lady Catharsis, as I was finalizing the tracklist you see below. Listen: you'd do well to hear a record with Heidi Berry on it every day [I AM A DOCTOR AND I PRESCRIBE THIS], just like you'd probably enjoy a decadent dessert every day. All day, though? "I wish I could be more direct sometimes," Heidi tells me in the interview, but personally I couldn't take much more directness than what I think is already on display in these records. Noise, beats, bleep-bloop, textural studies, distancing? This I can listen to all day. There's plenty of it archived on this site--knock yourself out! It's perfectly cool, I have much fun with it, but TBH it doesn't always demand to be heard. Is that a new criterion for Legend status? What do we call it--intensity? I'll have to think on it.

Anyway, thank-you to Heidi for her music and time. And to you, for your indulgence.

BOMBAST playlist, 2015 January 6, 2100-2300:

  1. "Needle's Eye" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  2. "Scheherezade" | Heidi Berry | not on album | Soundcloud self-release
  3. "Gather All the Hours" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"
  4. "For the Rose" / "Follow" / "Ariel" / "Dawn" | Heidi Berry | Heidi Berry | 4AD
  5. "Abduction" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  6. "Up In The Air" | Heidi Berry | Love | 4AD
  7. "Nobody Tells on You" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"
  8. "Unholy Light" | Heidi Berry | The Moon and the Sun | 4AD
  9. "Firefly" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"
  10. "Houses Made of Wood" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"
  11. "Below the Waves" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"
  12. "Forgiven" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  13. "Folk Fuck" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  14. "All Fall Away" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  15. "You Upset the Grace of Living When You Lie" | Heidi Berry | The Moon and the Sun | 4AD
  16. "Japanese" | Lost Girls | Lost Girls | 3 Loop
  17. "The Mountain" | Heidi Berry | Miracle | 4AD
  18. "All For You" | Heidi Berry | Below the Waves and Firefly | Rockville | "Physical Evidence"

next time: how about one of Patrick's songs? Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

28
Nov 2014

Full Interview: Vini Reilly of The Durutti Column

vinireillytempusfugit.jpeg"I'm at a cafe right now that has good reception," Bruce tells me. "I'm going to get Vin, bring him right back here, and then call you." [So, how was your Saturday morning?] Half an hour later, he rings again. Vini's brought his phone, Bruce says. He's going to give me his number, and I'm to call him back. I do, and he's out of the gate like a thoroughbred.

Finally, after many missed connections, false starts, and bouts with business, depression (mine), and crippling shyness (mine again), I was talking--listening, mostly--to someone whose records I have carried with me for nearly thirty years.

This is the recording of my conversation with Vini Reilly of The Durutti Column on November 22, 2014. For you gear-heads, this was a Skype-to-phone interview. I was at Chez Bombast, or as Lady C calls it, "The Warren," and Vini was at the aforementioned hotspot. The audio has been compressed. Portions of this interview aired on the Hall of Legends special featuring the music of The Durutti Column. If I recall correctly, the segments I used in the radio program were actually in "chronological" order, but that was an accident. At any rate, here's the whole thing.

It strikes me that talking to Vini Reilly, for someone like me, is a bit like an audience with royalty, or the Pope. You just let the other person talk about whatever he wants. That is pretty much what happened. But after multiple listens I find this to be holistic and probably more focused than what my "list of questions" would have produced. Considering what Vini says about the structure of a piece of music, this conversation is very much like that. Portions of this discourse reprise things Vini has said before, notably in the revelatory Town Hall conversation with Paul Haslam at the Campaign Against Living Miserably benefit in 2013, and elsewhere Vini shares some insights I had never heard or read from him before.

Here's a secret: I like to lurk at Steve Albini's studio discussion forum, waiting for the occasional pearl of wisdom. [Aside--don't you think a Durutti Column album recorded at Electrical Audio would be the fucking bomb? I do, but anyway.] Once, Albini suggested that an effective recording, regardless of production values, should give the listener some idea about the personalities of the people who wrote and played the music. I think this is a good litmus test for recorded music [albeit one of many]--sometimes it tells you, quite accurately, that you're dealing with jerks, and sometimes it tells you that it comes from warm, friendly, thoughtful people.

It hardly needs saying which kind Vini and Bruce are. Many thanks to them, for being willing and helpful. And to James Nice at Factory Benelux / LTM and to Phil Cleaver at Kooky for issuing / reissuing the tunes. And to you, for listening.

27
Nov 2014

The Hall of Legends - The Durutti Column: Transmission 167, 2014 November 25

durutticolumnvinireilly.jpegWe herewith induct The Durutti Column into the BOMBAST Hall of Legends, where they join John Peel, Breathless, This Mortal Coil, The Wolfgang Press, The Dub Syndicate, A.R.Kane, Little Annie, Dif Juz, Prince Far I, Coil [part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4], Billy Childish, Stereolab [charter members], and The Fall [charter members].

Welcome, first-time visitors! Enjoy whatever on this site strikes your fancy. The hyperlink above will take you to a loose description of the Hall of Legends, and this page describes the "idea" of the show, such as it is. The prose you find everywhere on the site is mostly for my own entertainment, since this is my outlet; if you enjoy it, that's a nice bonus, and you're welcome. Audio's at the bottom of the post, so scroll down whenever my words bore you.

Quite early on I said that this special was a thing that needed to happen. It was delayed by my own sloth and nervousness, and of course by Vini Reilly's circumstances. But happily, and totally unbeknownst to me prior to speaking with Vini, those are improving. As to my own stuff, don't even ask!

It doesn't need saying that The Durutti Column's music is unique, but it is unique to me in a personal way. So much of the music I embraced in my formative years, and which still matters to me, came into my life with the help of some close friend or other; you might say my experience was curated in some way. But Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say was a mystery beckoning me from the rack in my hometown record store. Seeing "fac 114," I knew it was the same label as the New Order and Joy Division records I loved, but there was no information hinting at what the record was like, just a brilliantly simple design. These were the days when you could trust design. I picked it up knowing nothing else about the contents other than that the experience they gave me would be mine, first-hand.

durutticolumnwomad.jpegHaving participated very loosely in the old Durutti Column email discussion group in the internet's early days, I discovered that people come to the DC for different things. There are fans who love the acoustic pieces most of all, or at least the pieces without drum machines. But SWYMMWYS is a drum machine record, big-time. I have always been drawn to these records--Fidelity, Obey The Time, Greetings--that remind me of this, although I like everything that Vini Reilly does and over time I have come to appreciate what a monster drummer Bruce Mitchell is. But this EP, on first listening, sounded like nothing I'd ever heard, DMX or no. It was, as another legend has said, music you could lose yourself in, and I certainly have!

Needless to say the musical selection from this program is...odd, I guess? But as I say I've already used LC, Chronicle XL, and Red Shoes as the "Physical Evidence" component of other programs. As for the rest of it, there's no "best of" thinking at work here, just some old chestnuts. Make your own mix if you don't like mine!

BOMBAST playlist, 2014 November 25, 2100-2300:

  1. "Art And Freight" | The Durutti Column | Obey The Time | Factory
  2. "Fanfare" | The Durutti Column | Chronicle - 2011 Pre-release | Kooky
  3. "Geh Cak Af En Yam" | The Durutti Column | Rebellion | Artful
  4. "Only Love" | The Durutti Column | Return Of The Sporadic Recordings | Kooky | "Physical Evidence"
  5. "Finding The Sea" | The Durutti Column | Vini Reilly | Factory Once
  6. "How Do U Think It's Going To Feel?" | The Durutti Column | Return Of The Sporadic Recordings | Kooky | "Physical Evidence"
  7. "All That Love and Maths Can Do" | The Durutti Column | Without Mercy | Factory Once
  8. "Silent Nite" | The Durutti Column | Return Of The Sporadic Recordings | Kooky | "Physical Evidence"
  9. "Tomorrow" | The Durutti Column | Circuses And Bread | Normal
  10. "Blue Period" | The Durutti Column | Sex and Death | Factory Too - FFRR
  11. "Real Drums - Real Drummer" | The Durutti Column | Vini Reilly | Factory Once
  12. "Sketch for a Manchester Summer" | Vini Reilly | The Sporadic Recordings | TTTTTTTT
  13. "In Memory Of Anthony" | The Durutti Column | Love In The Time Of Recession | Artful
  14. "Waiting 4 The Earth" | The Durutti Column | Return Of The Sporadic Recordings | Kooky | "Physical Evidence"
  15. "One Christmas For Your Thoughts" | The Durutti Column | LC | Factory Once
  16. "Zinni Tune" | The Durutti Column | Return Of The Sporadic Recordings | Kooky | "Physical Evidence"
  17. "Fado" | The Durutti Column | Sex and Death | Factory Too - FFRR
  18. "The Room" | The Durutti Column | Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say | Factory

underscoring:

  • "Diazepam 5mgs" | Vini Reilly | The Sporadic Recordings | TTTTTTTT

next time: who cares? Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

18
Sep 2014

Full Interview: Dominic Appleton of Breathless

dominicappleton.pngHere is the interview I conducted with Dominic Appleton of Breathless. Portions of this conversation appeared in the Hall of Legends special featuring the band's music.

This conversation took place on August 15, 2014, via Skype-to-phone. I was at my place and Dominic was at his. Very nice of him to give me about an hour on a Friday evening!

It pains me to say this, again: I would love to describe this as the "full recording," with everything in a clear, linear context. BUT. My laptop decided it was time for more software glitches. If you've heard the interviews with Andrew Gray, Michael Allen, or Ivo Watts-Russell, you're familiar with my digital mishaps. Anyway, I did manage to capture Dominic's voice just fine, which is the important part. Who needs to listen to me, anyway?

Hence, as with Michael Allen, it's soundboard time. Feels very 2005, somehow, but we do what we can. 25 brief responses to what may have been 25 questions of varying incisiveness. I suppose I could have strung all of these together into a lengthy monologue, but that seemed weird. In a half-hearted stab at integrity I have posted these soundbites in the order in which they happened in the interview.

References: "Ivo" is of course Ivo Watts-Russell. Ari, Gary, Martin, and Tristram are obviously bandmates. Anne Clark you should really know--and check out The Sitting Room! "Virgin" is Virgin Records, a.k.a. the Megastore. See? Record-store employees can achieve great things. There is hope for me yet.

That's the last of the Breathless interviews. It made me so happy to speak to Ari and Dominic--"rosy-cheek park" happy, you might say. I told Ari at the beginning that these interviews wreck my nerves, and they usually do--no such thing to report this time.

For audio, click any of the hyperlinks below. Enjoy!

Whose music moved you when you were young?
How did music become your creative outlet?
Did you know Anne Clark personnally before assisting on her album, The Sitting Room?
How does Breathless develop new songs?
Do you keep your old rehearsal tapes?
Why do your songs have such unusual structures?
Your lyrics focus on love and relationships; what makes a good love song?
How important is it for Breathless records to have a sonic identity?
What was it like working with Kramer and Drostan Madden?
How spontaneous is Breathless in the studio?
You've discussed "sounding like Breathless without wanting to." What does that mean?
Didn't you have momentum in the USA in the 80s? Did you tour America?
Was running your own label always part of the plan?
Who's responsible for the cover art on your records?
Was the band broken up during the long gaps preceding Blue Moon and Green to Blue?
Why the recent interest in remixes?
Which songs do you perform live most often?
Do you have any interesting tour stories?
Is it true that you began voice lessons recently?
Do you gig out of necessity rather than desire?
How do you assess regional preferences for this or that album? Do fans write to you?
What's the most meaningful feedback you've received from fans?
What are you currently working on? [and Tristram Latimer-Sayer's status]
Do you listen to your own back catalogue? What is that experience like?
What impact would you like your songs to have on people?

11
Sep 2014

Full Interview: Ari Neufeld of Breathless

aribwcrop.pngThis is the recording of an interview I conducted with Ari Neufeld of Breathless on August 17, 2014. For you gear-heads, this was a Skype-to-phone interview. I was at Chez Bombast, or as Lady C calls it, "The Warren," and Ari was at home in London, I presume. I've compressed the audio a bit because loud is good.

Portions of this interview aired on the Hall of Legends special featuring the music of Breathless. Here's the whole thing, in order, with everything in its proper context. I am still a bit embarrassed about my "lady bass players" question--I left out a personal favorite, Josephine Wiggs, as well as Naomi Yang. But I was trying to think on my feet, which is usually a mistake. Also, I don't know what I was thinking re. the cover image of PiL's "Second Edition." I guess I just visualize it that way.

References: "Gary," "Martyn," and "Tristram" are, respectively, Gary Mundy, Martyn Watts, and Tristram Latimer-Sayer, bandmates in Breathless. "Ivo" is...come on.

Anyway, I hope the conversation is as fun for you as it was for me. 

22
Aug 2014

The Hall of Legends - Breathless: Transmission 146, 2014 August 19

breathless1984.jpgWe herewith induct Breathless into the BOMBAST Hall of Legends, where they join This Mortal Coil, The Wolfgang Press, The Dub Syndicate, A.R.Kane, Little Annie, Dif Juz, Prince Far I, Coil [part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4], Billy Childish, Stereolab [charter members], and The Fall [charter members].

Some of you, I have to guess, are visiting for the first time, having been lured here by this special occasion. So--a special welcome to you. Poke around as you please. The hyperlink above will take you to a loose description of the Hall of Legends, and this page describes the "idea" of the show, such as it is. The prose you find everywhere on the site is mostly for my own entertainment, since this is my outlet; if you enjoy it, that's a nice bonus. Audio's at the bottom of the post if this is all TMI.

I'd like to think I'm past the "music reviewer" phase of my life, so "just listen" is my advice to anyone who wants to know what Breathless records sound like. Or, you can take it from Ari and file them away under "Space-Rock Melancholia," which is in the ballpark, I guess. While she sees "similarities" between the band's music and other records, I'm hard-pressed to find them [then again, the record store where I worked wasn't a Virgin Megastore in London, so maybe I've been listening to the wrong things, or not enough things]--this seems to be one of the unwritten prerequisites for Hall membership. And that the music must be "out of time" somehow.

However, my first experience of the music is rooted in a specific time. This would be the "Weird Summer" of 1987: first summer after college; reunited with "friends" from high school who now seem like "strangers," somehow; living in an apartment for the first time, and with not one but two ex-"girlfriends," all the while carrying on another ill-fated dalliance; whiling my days away at a dull job almost literally in the middle of nowhere; nonetheless not having enough money, and living on peanut butter sandwiches, it seems. My only consolation during this time was that the listening rooms at the radio station were often empty, and the records were free. Sometimes [Dif Juz, Wolfgang Press] I would search deliberately; other things [A.R.Kane, Little Annie] would fall into my lap. Breathless were one of the latter. Maybe, in my mind, I should start calling this the "Summer of Legends" and not the "Summer of Starvation," which is how I actually recall it. I was learning fast, as one hopefully does pre-twenties.

So I guess you could count me as one who's gotten through "tough" times [by First World Problem standards, anyway] with the help of this music.

breathlessglassbeadgame.jpegAs it seemed to do back in those days, time moved differently for different bands when it came to record distribution, so we got The Glass Bead Game a year late, albeit at the perfect time. Dominic talks about making music in which to lose oneself, and...YES. "Across the Water" and "All My Eye and Betty Martin," on side one, were enough. John Fryer and Blackwing aside, where on earth DID this sound come from? Not too long thereafter, a friend gave me Three Times and Waving when it came out--somehow that did make it over here quickly--and that was it, for life, I guess.

There were those two periods when the band seemed [to someone far removed] to be broken up, or on extended hiatus. But in the 1990s I was out of my mind, in graduate school. And in the oughts I was similarly chasing some ill-conceived, fruitless "professional" goal. Like a lazy Death Eater, I didn't look for Breathless when they weren't around, but was always happy when they were, and are. Remarkably--because I normally can't stand "comebacks"--Blue Moon and Green to Blue are two of their best. Even better, the margins are so thin it doesn't matter. The "worst" Breathless record, whatever that might be, surpasses most of what's out there to begin with. I look forward to 30 more years of hearing from Lady Catharsis that I play this music too much.

Finally--I didn't know about Tristram Latimer-Sayer's circumstances until I spoke to Dominic last week. My sincere wishes for a speedy and thorough recovery for him.

BOMBAST playlist, 2014 August 19, 2100-2300:

  1. "Come Reassure Me" | Breathless | Blue Moon | Tenor Vossa
  2. "Heartburst" | Breathless | Chasing Promises | Tenor Vossa
  3. "Everything Is Us" | Breathless | Green to Blue | Tenor Vossa
  4. "I Never Know Where You Are" | Breathless | Between Happiness and Heartache | Tenor Vossa
  5. "And So The Dream Goes On" | Breathless | Behind The Light | Tenor Vossa
  6. "Don't Just Disappear" | Breathless | Don't Just Disappear | Tenor Vossa
  7. "Stone Harvest" | Breathless | Two Days From Eden | Tenor Vossa
  8. "Is It Good News Today?" | Breathless | Three Times And Waving | Tenor Vossa
  9. "Pride" | Breathless | Two Days From Eden | Tenor Vossa
  10. "Ageless" | Breathless | Heartburst | Tenor Vossa
  11. "Across The Water" | Breathless | The Glass Bead Game | Tenor Vossa
  12. "Walk Down To The Water" | Breathless | Blue Moon | Tenor Vossa
  13. "The Next Time You Fall (Jim Sclavunos Remix)" | Breathless | Please Be Happy | Tenor Vossa
  14. "Please Be Happy" | Breathless | Green to Blue | Tenor Vossa
  15. "The Warmest Kiss" | Breathless | Nailing Colours To The Wheel | Tenor Vossa
  16. "Just For Today" | Breathless | Green to Blue | Tenor Vossa

next time: i never know how to follow these up, so I can't tell you. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

3
Jul 2014

Live In Studio B - I Fucking Love You: Transmission 132, 2014 June 19

i-fucking-love-you.jpgWe do receive demos, you know. Every now and then someone will send tracks to WRFI in the hope that we will play them. Often the approach is a bit misguided: people assume we have a "rotation" or a "music director." Sometimes people assume we have an "audience." We just got something on the facebook page from someone south of the Equator, in the Eastern hemisphere. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

When I saw something in the "programs" inbox labelled "new Ithaca band," I thought it would be yet another thing to pass on to various disc jockeys at the station; maybe it would catch on with someone. After I listened to the soundcloud page linked therein, it caught on with ME. "TO THE JOCK-MOBILE!" I cried. This warranted investigation. "Is this guy really local?" I wondered. [Shades of "ARE YOU FOR REAL," as our own Señor Plow is fond of asking.] With the internet, who knows where anyone is really from? Sure enough, Andy is a real Ithaca person, so of course I had him come in and do a live thing. Here it is.

I tried my best not to be stupid, in the talking. It wasn't one of my better nights. Also, Andy insists on referring to someone called "Jim," and I have no idea who that is.

BOMBAST playlist, 2014 June 19 2300-0100 June 20:

  1. "Ahhh / Volcano (live)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  2. "Fuck Yeah (live)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  3. "Heroin Firestar AKA Angel Jones Remix)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | Soundcloud self-release
  4. "Miles (live)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  5. "IFLY (live)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  6. "White Noise Dance (live)" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  7. "IFLY Remix" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | Soundcloud self-release
  8. "Yes" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | Soundcloud self-release
  9. "Los Frenos" (live) | I Fucking Love You | not on album | not on label
  10. "Ahhh" | I Fucking Love You | not on album | Soundcloud self-release

next time: guess who's coming to dinner? Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

23
Jun 2014

Full Interview: Ivo Watts-Russell of This Mortal Coil and The Hope Blister

interview-ivo_05.jpgThis is the recording of an interview I conducted with Ivo Watts-Russell on May 26, 2014. I was at chez Catharsis in Ithaca, NY, and Ivo was, I presume, at his place in New Mexico. This was a Skype-to-phone conversation.

Small pieces of this very generous interview aired on the Hall of Legends special featuring music from This Mortal Coil and The Hope Blister.

I've said it elsewhere, but Ivo has been very gracious and friendly, and this was one of those "one thing leading to another" experiences that came together really easily. An honor and a pleasure!

Indulge me for a minute and imagine this hypothetical situation. You love music and records, but you're not a musician. You're not a singer. You're not a songwriter. You're not trained as an engineer. You know some people who do each of these things, but you don't do them yourself. But you really want to make a record of your own, and you even have some concrete ideas about what to put on it. Incidentally, you are having these ideas before the advent of laptop recording, filesharing, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and all that. So in order to make this record you're dreaming of you'll have to use a real studio and it will have to be released in a physical medium. There's also no Kickstarter to fund this. Under what circumstances could this record become reality?

"You'd probably have to own a record label." Right? And yet I don't think either of us really wanted to talk about this little detail. I certainly didn't. I've read about it quite a bit, and I didn't want to produce yet another 4AD interview. I owe a great deal to Martin Aston and Jeff Keibel, who've already asked a boatload of those questions, and whose interviews gave me a long list of answers I didn't need to seek. What I did do was try, absurdly perhaps, to talk to Ivo as though he had "merely" made some great records of his own. They are, of course, why he's in the Hall of Legends.

Technical notes: If you follow this program at all, which would flatter and bewilder me, you probably know that recording an interview is always an adventure for me. This time, I managed to capture the whole thing, on the first try, thank goodness, but not without glitches. Audacity, which was capturing Ivo's voice "solo," worked fine. For the first 49 mins or so of this audio file, that's what you're hearing when Ivo is talking, without having to listen to me say "mmm hmm," or "yeah," or anything similarly useful. However, my voice was recorded using Amolto Call Recorder (I had both programs running at once as a precaution), which was also recording Ivo, but that app pulled our respective tracks out of sync, which occasionally made it sound like I was stepping on the end of Ivo's answers and cutting him off. I'm really not that rude of a person. I swear it's the software's fault. I've tried to make the best of it with the editing, but I am amateur and proud. The second half of the interview--from about 49mins onward--is much smoother sailing. At least I hope you think so. If you're disappointed I offer you a full refund.

5
Jun 2014

The Hall of Legends - Ivo Watts-Russell: Transmission 128, 2014 June 4

Ivo-Watts-Russell-006.jpgWe herewith induct Ivo Watts-Russell into the BOMBAST Hall of Legends, where he joins The Wolfgang Press, The Dub Syndicate, A.R.Kane, Little Annie, Dif Juz, Prince Far I, Coil [part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4], Billy Childish, Stereolab [charter members], and The Fall [charter members].

Some of you, no doubt, are visiting for the first time, having been lured here by the Ivo interview. A special welcome to you. Poke around as much as you like. The hyperlink above will take you to a loose description of the Hall of Legends, and this page describes the "idea" of the show, such as it is. The prose you find everywhere on the site is mostly for my own entertainment, since this is my outlet; if you enjoy it, that's a nice bonus. Audio's at the bottom of the post if this is all TMI.

"I heard This Mortal Coil's music," I wrote to tonight's inductee, "before I knew what 4AD was, and I continue to treasure it long after I stopped caring what 4AD is." And I concede that it's weird to approach a Legend by listing things one doesn't want to discuss, but that's the way this went. Labelthink, when I was young, was a convenient shortcut to loads of interesting music, but it is a bad habit which I am striving to break. At the end of the day, it's about records, bands, and people. And records, bands, and people are awesome. A discussion of that other thing can be had at other places.

With this induction I struggle to recall silly anecdotes and things like that. There are no flashpoints of relevance; this music has just been with me for the better part of three decades. I guess I remember this time, it would have been in the period around Filigree & Shadow, in which my extended family made fun of me for liking a band with the name "This Mortal Coil." And hearing the word "pretentious" being tossed around quite a bit. But who cares? [And what did anyone think this music was pretending to be?]

The "three decades" thing: nostalgia, do you suppose? Tell me what year this music sounds like. Pre-emptively, I'll disagree. Because I just don't know. This is part of its greatness.

The music speaks for itself, and the subject speaks for himself. "I have no words," as the saying goes. Well, that's obviously false. I have a few. As always I'm amazed that anyone wants to talk to me. And, as I've told the next Hall inductees [yes, there will be a next, after a relaxing run of "normal" shows], these things wreck my nerves! Nothing to do with other people, especially Ivo, who is every bit the "angel" that Kristin Hersh describes in her book.

BOMBAST playlist, 2014 June 4, 2100-2300:

  1. "Song To The Siren" | This Mortal Coil | It'll End In Tears | 4AD
  2. "Filigree & Shadow" / "Firebrothers" / "Thais (I)" / "I Must Have Been Blind" / "A Heart Of Glass" | This Mortal Coil | Filigree & Shadow | 4AD
  3. "Fyt" / "Fond Affections" / "The Last Ray" | This Mortal Coil | It'll End In Tears | 4AD
  4. "Come Here My Love" | This Mortal Coil | Come Here My Love 10" | 4AD
  5. "Drugs" | This Mortal Coil | Come Here My Love 10" | 4AD
  6. "Ivy And Neet" / "Meniscus" / "Tears" / "Tarantula" | This Mortal Coil | Filigree & Shadow | 4AD
  7. "Acid, Bitter and Sad" | This Mortal Coil | Lonely Is An Eyesore | 4AD
  8. "Late Night" / "Ruddy and Wretched" / "Help Me Lift You Up" / "Carolyn's Song" / "D.D. and E." | This Mortal Coil | Blood | 4AD
  9. "Is Jesus Your Pal?" | The Hope Blister | ...smile's ok | 4AD
  10. "Dagger" | The Hope Blister | ...smile's ok | 4AD
  11. "It'll End In Tears" | This Mortal Coil | Kangaroo 7" | 4AD

next time: a low-key, regular thing, I hope. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis


22
May 2014

Full Interview: Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press

twpqueermichaelallen.jpgHere is the interview I conducted with Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press, as well as Rema-Rema, Mass, Geniuser, and an as-yet unnamed current group. Portions of this conversation appeared in the Hall of Legends special featuring the band's music.

This conversation took place on May 3, 2014, via Skype. I was at my place and Michael was at his. Extra karma points to him--it was after midnight, London time.

I would love to describe this as the "full recording," with everything in a clear, linear context. BUT. I very nearly had another software disaster, as with my first attempt at interviewing Andrew Gray; to be "safe," I was recording on two different platforms at once. One crashed and one didn't. Audacity, the one that didn't, retained all of Michael's input channel, but not mine. It could have been worse.

So what we have are 33 responses, or soundbites, or whatever you'd like to call them. I've done my best to figure out what the questions must have been! At any rate, it's a nice discussion, and we cover a lot of ground--youth, becoming a musician, the bass guitar, Rema-Rema, Mass, The Wolfgang Press, the mysterious Alberto Ricci, working with Tom Jones, and the new band. Yes, it's a disjointed experience, but at least you pretty much know what you're getting with each click, and the responses are listed in the order in which they were given.

References: "Ivo" is of course Ivo Watts-Russell. "Robin" is Robin Guthrie. "Gary and Danny" are Gary Asquith and Danny Briottet, of Mass and Renegade Soundwave (and other things). "Wobble" is...come on now, reallly?

As this completes the set of interviews, I wanted to say how happy I am to have had the opportunity to speak to these guys. This experience reinforces for me what I've always enjoyed about TWP's music: its sense of identity and refusal to compromise.

For audio, click any of the hyperlinks below. Enjoy!

Growing up in Harrow, and early exposure to music
Early gigs, meeting Marco Pirroni
Art college
Why become a musician?
Why bass guitar?
Favorite bass players
More McCartney
The beginning of Rema-Rema
Did Rema-Rema's "drummer wanted" ad really say "no hi-hats?"
How Mass began
Why was Mass so dark?
How people reacted to Mass
Birth of The Wolfgang Press; The Burden of Mules
Scarecrow; Water; Sweatbox EPs
Not intellectualizing
Was there a plan to do a series of EPs, or did it just happen?
How do the songs originate?
Abstraction and atmosphere
Alberto Ricci, whose paintings grace the record covers in 1984 and 1985
Having an art background and negotiating with 23 Envelope / v23
Bird Wood Cage, part 1
Is BWC a personal favorite?
What did Flood contribute to BWC? Note: there's a moment in here when Michael asks if someone's coming into the room where I'm sitting; I must have been waving, and he must have seen this on Skype. Someone is entering. It's Junior, wearing a pair of wings that she'd made herself. This moment was too good to edit out.
The Everything Is Beautiful retrospective
Standing apart from "the 4ad sound," if there was ever such a thing
Working with a different producer on each album
Remixes
What is it like to listen to Wolfgang Press records after all this time?
Music and "timelessness"
What do your children think of The Wolfgang Press?
Working with Tom Jones
The new band, with Gary Asquith, Andrew Gray, and Steve Gray
Will the new band perform live? Note: Michael's final words are in response to my assurance that I'd be interested to see this happen!

Play this podcast on Podbean App