71 – Limozine’, ‘The Cherry Bluestorms’ & ‘Zig Zag Birds’
“Limozine are a Rock ‘n’ Roll band from London inspired by The Cramps, The Stooges The Stones and The Ramones. Limozine have released three albums, Car Crash Casino in 2007, Evil Love in 2010, and Full Service in 2012.”
(Info obtained from the band facebook page here)
The Cherry Bluestorms:
“Upon the release of their Stukas Over Disneyland mini-album, punk rock legends The Dickies were about to go on their first U.S. tour since the untimely death of Chuck Wagon. The band asked Glen Laughlin to tour with them on guitar, vocals and keyboards. Following the tour Glen returned to Los Angeles to increasing demand as a session player. He also took the opportunity to begin recording his debut solo album with famed producer Earle Mankey. Unfortunately, he was involved in a motor vehicle accident on the way to the studio and crushed his left hand, apparently ending his career as a musician. As we know, the story didn’t quite end there.
With his hand still in a cast, Glen formed The Skin Trade. Seven months later The Skin Trade played their first show, featuring Glen on lead vocals and two-fingered bass. Glen later rejoined The Dickies as bassist and then as guitarist for several years. He also began to use the many non-standard tunings he developed as a result of his hand injury.
Following The Dickies’ Idjit Savant tour, Glen purchased part of the studio where “Idjit” was recorded. Since then, in addition to The Cherry Bluestorms, Glen has produced The Dickies, movie star Heather Graham and tracks for CSI: Las Vegas. He has also produced indie artists such as Neil Ormandy, Reuben “Big Reub” Vigil and The Reloaders, The Ben Gunn Society, and The Greatcoats. His latest project involves members of Fishbone, Suicidal Tendencies and Ivan Neville.
Having landed a development deal with A&M which led to collaborations with recording world luminaries Chris Lord-Alge and Mike Clink, Deborah Gee placed several songs from her debut solo album “Portal” in TV and films. She was looking for a collaborator for her next venture. After meeting Glen at a coffeehouse and discovering their mutual love for ‘60’s guitar-based melodic rock, the two began working on what was to become The Cherry Bluestorms’ debut album, Transit of Venus. They formed a band and were spotted at their first show by a promoter, whereupon their second show was before a festival crowd in New Hampshire. The band has subsequently entertained crowds and enjoyed critical praise from their hometown Hollywood haunts to Canada and the UK, including The Cavern, famous home of The Beatles.
The Bluestorms gave Transit of Venus a splendid send-off at Hollywood’s Cinespace, where they had a genuine Fillmore lightshow and a live string quartet accompanying a performance of the entire album. TOV was noted as one of the top 100 indie albums of 2007 by IPO’s David Bash. TOV has been critically praised by L.A. Weekly, Glasswerk UK, Powerpopaholic, Not Lame, Absolute Powerpop and others, many singling out the bands’ version of the Beatles’ “Baby, You’re a Rich Man”. “Violent Heart” from TOV and “A True Heart Wears A Thorny Crown” from their upcoming second album were placed in hit Stephen Cannell television shows.
Speaking of second albums, the band is nearly finished recording their sophomore effort, an ambitious concept album called Bad Penny Opera. The album is due out later this year. Meanwhile, Deborah has also begun tracking her second solo album, Geeology, with Glen co-producing.”
(Info obtained from the band’s facebook page here)
Zig Zag Birds:
“With one foot in the sun-soaked Sixties, and the other in the do-it-yourself YouTube generation, Zig Zag Birds began as an experiment and quickly got out of hand. British singer-songwriters David Rael and Edward Randell and drummer Will Pickering bring their feelgood pop songs to life with the help of rudimentary recording gear, a video camera and some very talented friends.
A bedroom album that sounds like a 5-star suite, their debut EP features strings, brass, flutes and a small army of backing singers – all held together with Sellotape and cups of tea. And, most importantly, outstanding tunes. They don’t write ’em like this any more: Zig Zag Birds’s infectious melodies and lush vocal harmonies draw on The Beatles and The Beach Boys, the storytelling of Lieber & Stoller and the playfulness of Steely Dan. They are equally at home with straight-up rock ‘n’ roll (Brighter Shade of Blue), with chamber-pop balladry (A Song A Day) and even campy Halloween mischief (Bump In The Night). These are uncynical, fresh, infinitely hummable tunes to put a grin on your face and a spring in your step.”
(Info obtained from the band’s facebook page here)
57 – INTERVIEW – ‘Cult With No Name’
By Chris Dorney
The last year has been a very successful one for the East London duo ‘Cult With No Name’, winning the coveted dsoaudio !Recommended! Award and also picking up a nomination for the prestigious Exposure Awards. The ‘Post-punk electronic balladeers’, comprising of Erik Stein and Jonny Boux, are gearing up for a very busy and exciting 2012, seeing the release of their fifth studio album and a string of gigs to follow.
I first photographed ‘Cult With No Name’ last Summer when they performed at the International Pop Overthrow Festival in London and was then asked in November to shoot a series of promotional stills in preparation for their new album “Above As Below” (released January).
Their past releases have, very rightly, gained positive reviews from critics and “Above As Below” does not disappoint either. The album demonstrates the duo’s diversity of creation; showcasing them at their lightest, darkest, most melodic, nonchalant, bon vivant, serious and humorous. As well as their own talent, the duo called in the likes of Kelli Ali (Sneaker Pimps), Luc van Lieshout and Bruce Geduldig (Tuxedomoon), John Ellis (The Stranglers, Peter Gabriel) and Meg Maryatt (17 Pygmies) to contribute on the album.
I recently caught up with them again to chat about their music, plans for 2012, and of course, the new album.
CD: Before we talk about the new album, how did the two of you meet? And ultimately, how did ‘Cult With No Name’ form?
ES: We both met whilst working at a branch of HMV, the famous computer games and DVD chain. However, in those days it sold something called ‘CDs’.
Most of the people who worked there were frustrated creatives. After all, selling Shania Twain albums isn’t really a career aspiration (although for some people it was). Out of this same group of people also grew the (sadly now defunct) indie band Seafood.
Jon and I didn’t start working together until several years later. He was in other bands which ended and I was getting nowhere fast doing stuff on my own. We had a few overlapping musical interests so it made sense for us to play around with the Venn diagram and see what we came up with. We’re still playing with the same diagram, although we have at least now coloured it in.
JB: We were lucky enough to work on the same floor side by side. In those days Erik worked as the “jazz man” and I worked in the aisle next to him as the classical expert. I wouldn’t call myself an expert really, though.
We first got together as a bit of experiment actually. We collaborated on a track for a compilation album, a set of covers for a band we both love called The Nits (which Erik introduced me to at the time – I’ve never looked back). From those small shoots grew some more experiments which eventually became CWNN.
CD: What is the songwriting process of the band? Do you (Erik) write the lyrics and form the basis of the composition and then Jonny adds his interpretation?
ES: Essentially, I write the songs…usually on guitar. Sometimes the song title comes first, as I keep a list of possible song titles and themes. However, I’m not the most proficient musician and I don’t have any kind of distinctive playing style, because, well, I can’t really play. Squeezing the songs through Jon’s creative filter turns them into something else and unique. He has a very distinctive style and sound which are every bit as central to what is cwnn as the melodies and lyrics that I generate. During the forming process, Jon also often comes up with riffs and melodies, but rarely realises he’s done so until I point it out, by which time he’s forgotten what he’s just played. He never ever plays anything the exact same way twice, which I used to hate but now love, as I realise it keeps everything fresh. Most of the ‘beats’, if we do use any, are mine.
The exception to all these fairly hard and fast rules are the instrumentals, which Jon writes and records by himself and I then endlessly twiddle knobs on.
JB: I think in terms of the songwriting process we compliment each other a great deal, which goes some way to explaining why we work so well together. Erik loves to do the things I either don’t have the patience for or the skill. I leave the lyric writing process completely to Erik and wouldn’t begin to understand how he goes about this – I love the results and that’s what matters. The moments I love are when the song gets past its initial journey and becomes CWNN. This can sometimes happen very quickly, by happy accident or take some longer grafting, but either way the process fundamentally works for us and produces an end result that on our own we wouldn’t be capable of producing.
CD: Congratulations on the release of your new album. How long did it take to complete?
ES: Thank you. It’s hard to say exactly. We never sit down and say ‘right, let’s record an album’. I always have a wealth of material (but an absence of quality control), so we just keep on laying down tracks. Somewhere around the sixth track we realise it’s starting to look like an album so we start to think about how it might (or might not, as the case may be) fit together. Our label, ‘Trakwerx’, put no real pressure on us at all, which curiously probably makes us even more productive.
‘Above as Below’ took a little longer than our other albums as we were waiting on the various guest contributors. By God were they worth the wait, though.
JB: ‘Above as Below’ was all in all about a year in the making, but the process of formulating the songs was much faster.
I’d like to think are quite prolific having written 5 albums now in as many years. We’re fortunate in that writers’ block doesn’t happen very often. Erik is very prolific with the initial songs and we generally can work quickly to capture and produce the final product. Of course, like any band we have our moments when things might not work immediately, but generally we’re very lucky in this respect – long may it last.
Like Erik, I think this is partly down to the wonderful support our label Trakwerx provides. They do give us complete autonomy and that freedom really does take the pressure off. The strictest deadlines are the ones we set ourselves.
Cult With No Name performing at last year’s International Pop Overthrow Festival in London.
CD: I’ve spoken to musicians before who have said that the recording process can be quite an intimidating and frustrating experience. Do you agree with this? I’m guessing that as this is your fifth studio album, you have now both become well versed in the whole recording and mixing process?
ES: That’s interesting. I wonder if they’ve been recording in recording studios? Jon and I are lucky enough to have own small home studios, which are more than adequate for cwnn’s needs. Actually, it could well be argued that cwnn’s minimal sound is as a direct result of restrictions placed on ourselves with respect to our little set ups.
I don’t really like recording studios. The ones I’ve been in are dingy, and smell of sweat and egos that are even bigger than mine. I like the option of recording vocal parts at home in slippers and a bathrobe, with the neighbours giving me curious looks as they walk past. Also, Jon and I work separately more than we do in the same room. This immediately alleviates any tension or the danger of being overexposed to one individual, which is the cause of 90% of band break-ups, or so I keep reading.
JB: I can see that having others present could make the recording process more difficult and ultimately frustrating. I definitely think that this would compromise how we work and change the end result – the recording process for us is very much part of the writing process as well.
What we have become well versed in I think is anticipating each other more. Over time, much of what Erik writes instantly lends itself to my style and I also think I have adapted my approach with Erik’s lyrics and writing in mind over time.
CD: Over the 14 tracks on the new album, a few different musical styles can be found from synth-pop to more classical piano-led melodies. Is this range of styles symbolic of the different influences that each of you have?
ES: I guess so, although none of it is deliberate, as such. We treat each song very individually. For example, I never process my vocals the same way twice, which helps. Jon’s playing style and sound is the glue that binds it together and stops it sounding like 14 different inferior bands, which is what it probably would sound like if he wasn’t there. I do always use other songs as very specific reference points in my mind. Just to give you an example, with the backing vocals on ‘One Kiss, Then Home’ I was trying to evoke the sound and feel of side two of Bowie’s ‘Low’ i.e. tracks like ‘Warszawa’ and ‘Subterraneans’. Aim unassailably high, I say.
JB: I think it probably is. Although, it is often some of our common ground, artists like OMD, The Nits and Laurie Anderson jump out as influences in the music. We do have some very distinctive differences in our preferences though, which ultimately is very healthy. I’m classically trained and am greatly influenced by my experiences of classical music whilst growing up, particularly sacred music. Classical music is so broad, diverse and endlessly fascinating – it has a great deal to lend and offer pop music in my view.
CD: The diversity of the lyrical perspectives on this album is also very interesting. For example, the song “Idi’s Admin”, which is about the frustration of life as a P.A to an African Dictator, is an unusual topic. How did you get the idea for that song?
JB: I’ll leave this to Erik as the lyrics man. I am endlessly in awe of the variety of subjects he covers though!
ES: Well, the title is a pun on Idi Amin, surely everyone’s favourite narcissistic, bonkers Ugandan dictator. Shortly after his death (and long before the film ‘The Last King of Scotland’ existed), I watched documentary on his life and wrote the lyrics based on some of his quirks (and from the perspective of his P.A.). Amongst other things, he was reputed to keep the body parts of his murdered political opponents in the fridge, and most famously adorned himself with various fictitious medals and honours. When he died in exile, it was covered up and denied for several days, which is referred to towards the end of the song…along with throwing away all his medals.
Perhaps the quirkiest thing about ‘Idi’s Admin’, is that the lyrics originally accompanied the music behind ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’, which is also on the album. It’s what Idi would have wanted. And he would have especially dug John Ellis’ brilliant guitar solo at the end.
CD: The new album includes many contributions from other artists, more-so than your previous albums. What was the thinking behind this? Also, was it an easy process to get other artists involved?
ES: I’m very conscious of not repeating myself musically. With cwnn, I think this fear is heightened because we’ve been using broadly the same minimal set up and approach since day one. It was time to let others in, people who could sprinkle a bit of magic here and there.
We were extremely fortunate to have people contribute in the way that they did. John Ellis we’ve known for some years and has always been very supportive and kind to us. Bruce and Luc are from Tuxedomoon, one of my very favourite bands and still criminally overlooked in this country. I got to know them when I helped put on a chaotic gig for them in London some years back.
I got to know Kelli Ali through a friend of mine. We both ended up on a compilation together and she loved what she heard of cwnn. She has been incredibly flattering about what we do. When I tentatively hinted that we would love for her to do some vocals on the album she was delighted. We hope she might contribute to maybe 3 or 4 songs max, but she came back with vocals on 8! I couldn’t believe it. What she does on the album is brilliant. She also co-wrote ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’, which is probably why it’s one of the best tracks we’ve ever done.
JB: Like much of what CWNN does, I don’t think there was a deliberate decision or plan. Like Erik says, we are both very keen to never stand still and always evolve what we do. The introduction of others artists was more a case of right place, right time and an ideal way to progress the CWNN sound from our previous album ‘Adrenalin’. We are very lucky to know some fabulous artists in their own right and privileged that they agreed to contribute to the record. I think that all their contributions really benefit the songs and go some way to make the album what it is – we’re really chuffed about their involvement, and the final result.
CD: What do ‘Cult With No Name’ have in store for us in the next 12 months?
ES and JB: More collaborations, More writing. More recording. Repeat. Repeat. And a Californian tour.
Cult With No Name’s fifth studio Album ‘Above As Below’ can be purchased from various online outlets including itunes (here) and amazon (here).
33 – ‘Cult With No Name’, ‘Evaney’, ‘SpyGenius’ and ‘Statuesque’
Cult With No Name:
“‘Post-punk electronic balladeers’ Cult With No Name, comprise the East London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux. Having been the first international signing to LA label Trakwerx in 2007 (founded by Jackson Del Rey of Californian punk legends ‘Savage Republic’), ‘Cult With No Name’s two studio albums to date – ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ and ‘Careful What You Wish For’ – have been met with considerable critical acclaim.
Leading UK music journalist Mick Mercer proclaimed the band his discovery of 2007 (with both albums sitting in his subsequent annual top ten lists), Blaine L. Reininger of genre-transcending legends ‘Tuxedomoon’ collaborated on their second album, Don Letts spun tracks on BBC6, and more recently Brett Anderson (Suede) asked ‘Cult With No Name’ to open for him for the launch of his new album.
Having provided the music for two blacker than black comedies at the Edinburgh festival (‘Moz and the Meal’ and ‘Bored Stiff’), it’s fitting that ‘Cult With No Name’ turned their attention to cinema for their first DVD release, ‘Lightwerx: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’. Cult With No Name’s compulsive and compelling soundtrack extends their ability to instantly create evocative moods over 51 breathtaking minutes, on a journey that takes in mystical ambience, nerve-shredding distortion, popular and unpopular song, electronica, and vast, futurist soundscapes. ”
(Quote obtained from the band’s facebook page)
“An electric 4 piece band who use a 60s vocabulary to craft 21st century music with a postmodern twist.
If you appreciate the jangle-meistering of the Byrds and Beatles, the harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash and the lyrical wit of Robyn Hitchcock, you’ll love Spygenius.”
(Quote obtained from the band’s Official Website)
32 – Congratulations to ‘Twin Brother’ and ‘Rams’ Pocket Radio’
Congratulations to Twin Brother and Rams’ Pocket Radio who have recently announced that they will be appearing at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Over the past six months, I have photographed Twin Brother and Rams’ Pocket Radio and the images have been featured on this LondonUnsignedMusic Blog.
They will both play on the ‘BBC Introducing’ stage which showcases brand new musical talent from across the country and is a great opportunity for the bands to perform at the world-famous festival.
Twin Brother will be performing on Friday 24th June 2011 and Rams’ Pocket Radio will perform on Saturday 25th June 2011. If you are heading down to Glastonbury, be sure to check them out!!
Meanwhile, here are a few images of their performances that I photographed earlier this year:
Twin Brother performing in Camden (January 2011)
Rams’ Pocket Radio performing in Kentish Town (May 2011):
Twin Brother: www.myspace.com/twinbrotheruk
Rams’ Pocket Radio: www.myspace.com/ramspocketradio
31 – ‘Some Velvet Morning’, ‘Electric Penguins’, ‘Rams Pocket Radio’ and ‘ Age of Giants’
Some Velvet Morning:
“Rock band start a revolution! Amazingly in only 6 weeks Some Velvet Morning raise a staggering £100K album launch budget with new model record label My Major Company UK.
Some Velvet Morning’s lead track on their forthcoming album “How To Start A Revolution” was on the international trailer for ‘Kickass’, the Matthew Vaughn Hollywood blockbuster. Their distorted basslines and pounding beats have woken up audiences around the world offering them a sound to believe in again – “You won’t fool the children of the Revolution.”
Some Velvet Morning like to do things differently. Recording live to tape, rather than computer in their large north London studio, the Fish Factory, the band have built momentum over the last three years with a series of radio friendly gems including BBC and XFM playlisted singles ‘Losing My Mind’ and ‘Propaganda’ from album “Silence Will Kill You.”
‘Losing My Mind’ took the band to the states to record a show (Fearless) for Fox TV, followed by a tour of the East Coast. It wasn’t long before the rest of the world caught on. Some Velvet Morning have taken their sound to the South of France, Russia and most recently Asia, where the band performed for 3000 fans as part of the Heineken Greenspace festival.
Some Velvet Morning’s roof top publicity stunt nearly got them arrested: With a nod to the Beatles, the band shunned council authorities by performing live on the roof of the PRS For Music in London, blasting their cries of the revolution across six blocks around Soho. Oxford Street also hosted another ‘heritage’ gig this year, when Some Velvet Morning supported the legendary Yardbirds at the 100 Club in February. Shows with The Levellers, Reef and at the British Moto Grand Prix at Silverstone followed.
Whilst learning from masters of the UK’s buoyant musical past, Some Velvet Morning continue to break new ground by veering away from the normal pop fodder of teenage crushes and heartbreak, preferring instead subjects such as religious tolerance, western political indoctrination and McCarthyism.”
(Quote obtained from the band’s facebook page)
Some Velvet Morning‘s “How To Start A Revolution” featured on the International movie trailer for Kickass:
“Electric Penguins are back to tempt you with their self-recorded and produced long player entitled “II”. The 12 track feast of psychedelic cuts slides dreamily between electronic, folk and ambient soundscapes with acoustic and club elements dispersed throughout the record. Whirly and trippy audio effects, vocoders, moogs, mellotrons, organs, deeply layered strings and naked pianos mash and mix to maximise melody. Amongst the delights featured are the folksy love song to London, “Highgate Hill” and the kraut-club inspired combo-track“Airships/Soundproof 45”.
With live supports to Devo, Annuals, Sebestian Tellier and krautrock legends Roedelius prompting gushing reviews like this…“They led the audience through a delightful soundscape, lit up superbly by angelic vocals and magical lyrics. Splicing together bits of Kraftwerk, Laurie Anderson, Sigur Ros, The Postal Service, Pink Floyd, Alison Moyet and Brian Eno with old English folk ballads the band weave a remarkably rich audio tapestry”(Hot Press)…it’s little wonder the Penguins live rep as a “must see audio visual experience” is rock solid.
In addition to widespread domestic critical acclaim, Nic Harcourt has also supported Electric Penguins on his highly influential Morning Becomes Eclectic programme on L.A’s KCRW Radio and UK trade mag Music Week featured the Penguins as a high point of Irish music scene talent on their recent sampler. Mark Cummins has formerly collaborated with Pink Floyd’s orchestral arranger Edward Shearmur and contributed to endeavours with Massive Attack cohort Gavin Wright. Paul Murphy is a Dublin based producer of various rock bands and composer of multiple tv and film projects.”
(Quote obtained from the artists’ Official Website)
Rams Pocket Radio:
“RAMS’ POCKET RADIO is Peter McCauley, a drummer, pianist, jack-of-all and songwriter from Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Unfettered personal expression is the impetus of the project, and with the timeless works of the 1950’s product designer, Dieter Rams’, in mind; purity, simplicity and longevity are the first concerns.”
(Quote obtained from the artists’ facebook page)
Age of Giants:
(No biography info available on the artists’ website)