INTERVIEW // Golau Glau

This is an interview designed specifically not to eke away at the carefully constructed WALL OF MYSTERY that surrounds the Golau Glau collective.They originally contacted ANBAD with an email consisting of carefully constructed confusion, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Here, they (whoever ‘they’ are) charmingly bat away our quasi-probing questions…

Hi Golau Glau! How are you? Where are you in the world right now? What do you see? And what is good about that place?

We are in GG Towers in the UK, an international HQ for mystique and oompah.

Naturally, we’re all wondering why there’s such secrecy. Is one of you Pete Townshend? (That’s the last identity-probing question, promise)

We are just shy and want it to be about nothing but the music. None of us wrote Baba O’Riley and none of us own credit cards.

I wondered endlessly about your statement, “We like Wales and cats, and whales, but not Cats”. Why does Cats – the musical – specifically, rile you? Is there a terribly traumatic amateur dramatics story to share with us?

If you’ve never heard a nine year old girl or Susan Boyle wail ‘Memory’, you are lucky. The TS Eliot poems are much better, though not his best work.

Golau Glau operates as a collective. How does this work How does your co-operative group nature affect the making of your songs?

We are based in GG Towers, which may or may not take physical form. Things happen there, it’s best not to discuss most of it. You get what you’re given.

Will the anonymity mean that there will  be no live performances? If not, is this considered a shame or a relief?

It means there are no live performances planned, until we can have stripy holograms do it for us. It is a relief.

Anonymity leaves you and your music very open to the listener’s  interpretation. It reminded me of the pre-internet days when you’d hear a song once on the radio and then endlessly puzzle about it until it appeared again. Is this part of the reasoning behind your stance?

This is correct. We are shy, but we also miss not knowing everything and the days of proper glamour rather than cheap celebrity.

Do you think that the exposure that the internet brings to bands has some negative aspects as well as the well-publicised positives?

Yes. You’re only new and interesting for a fortnight and there’s too much music out there. Like with television, there was always a lot of rubbish but now it has multiplied.

Finally, where would you like to head – what are your ambitions?

Tokyo DisneySea, Sonar festival, Paula Abdul’s video for Opposites Attract and down the dumper. Vinyl is nice.

Worthless BONUS Question: If you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?

Most of them are dead, and we’re polite enough to ask those who remain what they’d prefer. Heroes usually disappoint – they’re either lovely and normal or…not. The magic remains in our heads, where it should be.

So: they’re not The Who, they want to go to Japanese theme parks, and dislike Susan Boyle. Which means they could be just about anyone. Why not buy their brilliant songs to see if you can figure it out for yourself?

Interview // Ace Bushy Striptease: Nascency, Naivety, Niceness

Ace Bushy Striptease: So nice, they write their own captions

Bands come, bands go. And as such, bands that take themselves too seriously in this brief period end up wasting the best opportunity they will ever be presented to have a lot of fun. Hell, even the Clash had a sense of humour: just listen to Cut The Crap.

That said, anyone who plays it purely for laughs only end up being laughed at. Ace Bushy Striptease are a rare breed of new band: they’re having fun, but are deadly serious about it.

Ace Bushy Striptease // Michael Kightly Is Pretty Rad

With one eye laser-focussed on making great tunes and the other swivelling wildly at all the great stuff!!! going on around them, their songs are a delight.

I spoke to laughably affable (laffaffable?) frontman Jeremy, who provided an insight into the bizarre world that a new band exhibits – one of grimy gigs, local radio and brushes with UK Hip Hop royalty. Here is his missive from the front line…

ANBAD: Hi Ace Bushy Striptease! How are you? Where are you in the world right now? What you see? And what is good about that place?

J: I am sat in Brighton staring into my Cat on Form poster wishing I was in Cat on Form circa 2003, with my foot in a hot bowl of salty water. Simon has probably just got home from work making zines for his Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff night in Birmingham and Basith is in Aston probably pretending to do work whilst scurrying through the back end of the internet looking for lost Meneguar B sides.

ANBAD: When I first heard Ace Bushy Striptease’s music, I was interested in your youth and status as a very new band that is making steps into the wide world of rock ‘n’ roll. How have your experiences been so far?

J: Really good thank you! I think we have come quite far since we’ve started without turning into horrible people. And we still like each other.Highlights? Well, Kano asking Simon for the directions to the toilet at a university festival was quite fun. Studio guest Michael Kightly hearing Michael Kightly Is Pretty Rad live on BBC WM. Looking on last fm and seeing Stefan from Macedonia listening to Mervyn and Isaac Find a CD is always a bit surreal. Making new friends and getting to play shows with bands we love is also pretty amazing.

ANBAD: With incidents like solving Kano’s urinatory problems in mind, are there any downsides at all to being in a new band? Or is it all just one big blast?

J: There’s always bad gigs in front of two people, bad promoters who don’t go to the show and insist you bring 30 people (we’re not that cool I’m afraid) and bills where you’re wondering quite how you fit on, but you just kind of ride that and play a bit harder and hope at least one person there is enjoying it.

ANBAD: Your music is a breath of fresh super-duper fun. What is the reaction to it in a world of straight-faced rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ indie?

I’m not sure straight faced rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ indie bands like us too much but it’s OK, they can try and be Foals if they like and it’s funny to watch them pretend to like us as we bleed on their drums and break their electric fans. We’re not very technical, we don’t know very much about our instruments, but you know what, I think that’s OK if you’ve got heart.

If I’ve got a bit of money to buy a good cymbal stand I’ll probably still end up buying some records instead because at least that will influence and affect my imagination, rather than just fawning over another piece of metal.

ANBAD: Is the experience of being in a band how you imagined?

J: Not really. Back when I was sixteen first going to shows I used to think any band on any stage was untouchable, they lived on some kind of musical stratosphere above our heads. I’d dream of playing those same stages.

Now that we are I don’t buy that whole elitism thing: I hate it if I go to meet a singer of a small band I like to compliment them and they don’t give a shit. Reality is, there’s no-one there, backstage is actually a room full of heaped plastic chairs and you’re buying the grumpy sound man a drink; what’s the point in pretending otherwise?

ANBAD:  How does the band ethic work in terms of musical inspiration? How do you reconcile your individual tastes into one song?

Word of mouth a lot of the time: I trust my friends to tell me about good bands and eventually I’ll stop listening to Miss Black America and go and listen to them. Simon recently lent me ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ by Michael Azzerad which is full of amazing bands from the 80s American indie underground, from Minor Threat to Beat Happening, so suddenly I have a load of those records.

I’m fairly easily influenced by people I respect. You must find that, having to be excited about A New Band A Day, there’s little room for cynicism?

Websites like your good self are great little portals when the radio sometimes sells you short with their set playlists and things (much as Dandelion and Huw Stephens are ace).

ANBAD: How about the actual act of musical creation? Do you pool ideas and thoughts from within the group?

In terms of writing songs, it’s pretty social, in that someone will have an idea and we’ll build it up between us, writing our own parts as we go. Like, one of our new songs we just wrote (tentatively titled ‘490 Fights Before Midnight’) I had an idea for ages ago and wrote some lyrics and a vocal line, but I can only hit pieces of plastic really so told Basith and Simon what I vaguely wanted it to sound like.

Then Simon wrote a pretty guitar line sent around the internetz, we went and practiced it with Bas eventually playing that line and coming up with an awesome chorus melody and guitar around what Simon wrote, who added bass, and it kind of spiralled into a song that had relied on each of us in some way and which wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t all contributed. It’s defo not just some guitarist playing their song with their session musicians.

ANBAD: Young bands now have emerged from a very different starting point compared to bands ten years ago: the Internet allows anyone to listen to any music from any time – whereas before a band’s influences may have been much more restricted.

Is this true, and how has this affected your sound, your approach and your outlook? And what about the internet more generally – how are you benefiting from being able to get your music straight to fans?

It’s brill, it means we can pretty much do everything ourselves and not rip anyone off. I mean, both albums are free to download off the website – there’s no point kidding ourselves and taking ourselves too seriously, putting 20 second clips of songs on the Myspace or something would be just horrible.

We’ve printed runs of 100 of each record as well just in case people want to hold it and read the lyrics and get secret tracks and things but the most exciting thing is lots of people hearing it everywhere, and I think putting the songs everywhere is the best way to do that.

We do get help of course, but from friends we’ve made along the way, and hopefully because they think we are good.

ANBAD: Finally – If you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?

I’ve asked the rest of the band as well:

Simon: My ultimate musical hero is Calvin Johnson but I think I’d be too intimidated to be any use in a conversation with him if we were to meet. I would like to meet Khaela Maricich though and we’d talk about drawing and then maybe about things to keep you entertained while travelling and we’d get onto the subject of those small magnetic versions of popular board games and maybe we’d try and invent our own. I’d buy her an orange juice carton (or apple if she’d prefer) probably as we’d be in a park and the nearest place to get a drink would be a newsagent.

Basith: Johnny Greenwood: I would ask him “Is it okay if I steal a bit of yr disposition?” and get him a glass of water.

Jeremy: Jesse Lacey of Brand New: I would sit on his lap, lean into his chequed shirt and ask him to gently sing Seventy Times Seven whilst I sip his bottle of navy rum.

Ace Bushy Striptease’s new albumA Little More Suspicion In Our Fairytales Plz – is out in April on Oddbox Records. You can download their previous albums (they’re a hard-working lot) for free at their website:

am sat in Brighton staring into my Cat on Form poster wishing I was in Cat on Form circa 2003, with my foot in a hot bowl of salty water. Simon has probably just got home from work making zines for his Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff night in Birmingham and Basith is in Aston probably pretending to do work whilst scurrying through the back end of the internet looking for lost Meneguar B sides.

Interview // Egyptian Hip Hop: Britain’s Best New Band

Egyptian Hip Hop: Christmas Trees > Happy Mondays

Egyptian Hip Hop are an easy band to love. Or to hate, depending on your point of view. The most interesting people are divisive in this way. This interview is the story of a band who are loathed and loved for exactly the same reasons. By the end you’ll know where you stand. And they won’t care what you think.

At Manchester’s In The City Music Conference last year, a powder-puff of sneers billowed with every mention of Egyptian Hip Hop. The vitriol was curiously vocal, and this was confusing; local bands are usually praised unrealistically. It was this unusual venom that drew me to them.

I saw them play a short, inventive and brilliant set, and the day after, scurrilous rumours abounded: brattish post-gig behaviour, apathy towards outsiders who approached them, onstage surliness.

It said much about the Indie fraternity that these traits were seen as bad, and that these opinions were based on these perceived indiscretions, as opposed to the traditional criteria: songs, songs, songs.

The worst crime was, the gossipers’ subtext seemed to be, that they weren’t playing the game; they didn’t care about the PRs, the A&Rs, the tastemakers, and gave them short, teenage, shrift. The disrespect!

Five months after my first brush with Egyptian Hip Hop, the advice I was given was as expected. “Don’t interview them,” I was told, “they hate interviews. They won’t talk.”

Egyptian Hip Hop– Rad Pitt

I collared them anyway; before a gig in Salford’s Islington Mill, where they lounged on grimy sofas bleeding foam from cigarette burn-holes. The band members are young. They viewed me with a suspicion I recognised from my school days: that particular wariness reserved for over-eager trainee teachers.

We traipsed upstairs into a slightly warmer, marginally less grubby room that was doubling as backstage. Louis, sporting an even bigger, more vibrant, shock of hair than I remembered, took a beer from a box on a bowing pasting table and threw it to me.

We sat next to a surprisingly spiny abandoned Christmas tree. Alex, nominally the bassist, sat so close he was almost in my lap, and distractedly read a comic book. There was an expectant, weary pause. So I spoke first.

Gingerly, I wondered what it was like to be a band that was lauded so highly – the equally prevalent condemnation was left unmentioned, but it hung in the air – and how it felt to have a spotlight shone suddenly upon them, as part of the exciting, nascent Manchester music scene.

A pause. I got the feeling that singer Nick had been asked this before. He picked at his nails.

In the past ten years, nothing’s really happened in Manchester. So everyone’s really excited. People are now just happy to be making music again. But the scene itself is just a coincidence.”

I dug around a bit and tried another tack. As a young band, I said, Egyptian Hip Hop must feel the pressure of Manchester’s musical history more than anyone. So was there a conscious decision to create music that was ‘non-Manchester’?

We don’t go out of our way so much. It’s not conscious. This idea that we’re deliberately stepping out of this long shadow cast by ‘Madchester’ is being applied retrospectively. We never made that our intention. It’s helpful being based in Manchester, but we’d make this music wherever we came from.”

All the same, I say, the talk is of a new Manchester scene that has broken free from the past. The new crop seem totally disassociated with the Happy Mondays/New Order days; a disparate bunch that are all pulling in different directions, but working together.

Now, the band are animated. For Nick, the familial aspect of this arrangement is important.

That has definitely kind of happened. We are friends with Delphic and Dutch Uncles for example, and we feed off each other, although we are making different music. It’s great that we can all be in Manchester, doing our own thing. There’s support, but we don’t rely on each other musically.”

The drummer, also called Alex, agrees.

People are trying to drag it back to the past. Delphic are the new New Order. We’re the new Happy Mondays. (“I hate Happy Mondays,” spits Nick) Journalists are just clutching at straws. They want to put a genre onto us.”

In my eyes, I say, they’re the one Mancunian band who are genre-less, whose sound can’t be tied to anything in particular. This makes them uneasy.

Well… we’re wary of that. We’d become pigeonholed as that band who can’t be pigeonholed. At the moment, we’re happy to keep everyone guessing. In a year, maybe they’ll know more about us and then people’s opinion is out our hands. And when people think they’ve got us down, we’ll do the complete opposite.”

So are you being consciously contrary? Again, unease.

No. We just don’t know what we are yet. We don’t consider the impact of what we’re doing at all. The band is still gestating. Really, the main thing is that we don’t want to write a song we’ve written before. The stuff we recorded six months ago serves as a snapshot – it’s helpful, so we can see where we’ve changed. But there’s no plan, no deliberate contrariness.”

Yet they say pragmatism has its place, and when making songs they agonise over the balance between the reaction and the bloody mindedness that creation necessitates. Nick, again:

Control is important. We do care about what people think. We spend whole days writing songs and then drop them.”

And speaking of dropping things, their first single has been put back while they sort out the artwork. They all agree that this is as good a reason as any to delay the release.

Abruptly, the Alex that is physically closest, but conversationally in another time zone, is alert. He puts down his book, sits up a fraction, fixes his stare beyond the far wall and says,

We wanted the artwork to be quite arrogant.” The word stabs the conversation to a halt. His magpie eyes glint. “Good arrogant. Gold! Embossed! Royal! You know – quality.” Suddenly invigorated, he becomes just as suddenly fascinated by his book again.

At this point, the first band of the night strike up, and conversation ends. We file out, down the bare splintered stairs, back into the now-busy venue.

We mumble pleasantries, I marvel at their fringes for one last time, and they vanish into the gloomy corners. I wonder how they feel, pushing towards the stage through a crowd of punters who are, on the whole, a decade older than them.

These locals can remember first hand the Manchester scene of old. As a neat distraction, opening across the city centre that very night, is Peter Hook’s new Factory-themed nightclub. The choice is stark: the past or the future.

Outside of Manchester – in London – the band say reaction has been favourable. The crowds are busier, more understanding, less suspicious. I recalled the jibes, and realised they were rooted not in dislike, but in fear.

Egyptian Hip Hop‘s distant nature worries the majority who are now used to their bands bending their way – appearing on their social networks, updating via Twitter, posting empty weekly blog updates. Egyptian Hip Hop are not that band. They are weary of the usual: the usual songs, the usual bluster, the usual methods.

Of course Egyptian Hip Hop are surly. They’re teenagers. They’re also bright, opinionated and funny. During the interview, that supposed dislike of outsiders turned out to be nothing more than – guess what? – a youthful awkwardness that was, frankly, endearing. But they never really let me in, not once.

Why? Because they’re the best new band in Britain – wildly inventive, sharp and talented. And even they don’t know where they’re going. So why should they do what I want?

ANBAD Probes… Stained Glass Heroes

Stained Glass Heroes: Slowly Pecking At Our Sanity

Some bands revel in providing dull answers to the oft-dull process of a Q&A. Others revel in the opportunity to play with the boundaries and, metaphorically, drive sensibility out to a remote woodland and finish it off with a shotgun.

The delightful and talented Stained Glass Heroes are such a band, and the following interview has been left in its raw state to preserve the full ludicrous luminescence.

As such, I hope the facile nature of the questions is cancelled out by the ingenious fun of the answers.

Hi SGH! How are you? Where are you in the world right now? What you see? And what is good about that place?

Dear Joe,

We are ecstatic, we hope you are too.
We are at Talma mansions, Brixton where Pete, David and sometimes Al live. We are surrounded by pictures of topless pin-ups, Ferrari posters, David and Al are playing Subbuteo and Pete is wrestling a Cougar with a sheaf of barley in its mouth. It is a good place to be.

In my review of your fabulous song Insects, I was pretty taken with the schlock-rock-ish sound. It was menacing and fun all at once, and was all the more welcome due to its rarity. Is humour dead in rock music? Not funny-ha-ha humour, but something a bit more wry – like you?

Stained Glass HeroesInsects

Thank you for your kind words concerning our latest single. We are not sure what schlock-rock quite means, a search on google tells us that “Shlock Rock parodies popular secular songs, substituting new, Jewish religious-themed lyrics for the originals.” Is this what you meant? (Editor’s note: it wasn’t exactly – I was thinking more of ‘schlock’ to mean ‘kitsch’, but I think they understood)

Well we are not Jewish but we are glad that the wry humour you describe comes across in our music. We do have a lot of fun in the studio. There will always be humour in music as long as there are musicians who don’t take themselves too seriously. We consider Liars, Flaming Lips, Agaskodo Teliverek amongst others to have elements of humour in their songs.

What was the reaction to Insects like? What is the reaction to it in a world of fairly straight-faced rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ indie?

We have been amazed by the reaction that ‘Insects‘ has received. We have always loved the track and it’s great that other people have connected with it in the same way. Straight faced rock and roll isn’t really our bag, man.

It seems to be a song that has a very specifically-intentioned feel – like the song emerged fully formed and blinking into the light – is this right?

No. It flapped around in the dark for quite some time. Like most of our songs it started life as a jam, but like an ugly maggot it transformed into a brilliant blue bottle.

How has the experience of being a new band been? What have you done that has exceeded expectations – and conversely, what have been the unforeseen down points? Is it tougher/better than expected?

It has been a lot of hard work. Very time consuming but fun. We choose to remain in control of all creative output. This includes everything from videos to artwork to planting 1000 hand painted golden insects around London to promote the single launch party.

The success of the launch party at Madame Jo Jo’s exceeded our expectations. We sadly had to turn people away from the event because the turn out exceeded the capacity of the venue. The down point was whilst recording the album we all caught gout.

Grey Oblongs: Invasive

How are you influenced – musically and otherwise? Do you look far back for inspiration or do you pool ideas and thoughts from within the group? What directions do you see your music going in?

Tag is influenced by 10cc. Pete comes from a small community in Leeds that speak their own dialect who’s god-head is Terence Trent D’Arby. Dave learnt to read and write aged 13. Al is obsessed with Damson Jam and Baby Bauhaus Lego. We all like music… apart from Tag. He loves it!
All the songs originate as jams, if one of us doesn’t like it then it goes no further than that. We are all inspired by Prog, Krautrock and the avant-garde. Individually we have completely different influences though. We see our music in the future maintaining more of the original rawness of the iimprovisations and we want to spend a longer timeshare period of time in time in our studio being more with the sounds.

If the confidence and clamour around the band keeps building, how ‘big’ would you like to become? Is this something that crosses your mind? Is the band’s size and status even an ambition at all, or a happy side-product?

We are not arrogant… except Pete, he expects us to be the biggest and bestest band in the world… actually so does Al. And Dave come to think of it. We would like to do music all the time, in order to do this you have to become quite big. Al wants a helicopter. Tag a two door saloon. Pete wants to buy his village a high definition Plasma TV and a kettle. Dave wants us all just to get along.

Finally, where would you like to head – what are your ambitions for the coming year?

We want as many people as possible to hear the album. We are all cuntingly happy with it.

And actually finally: If you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?

Dave would like to meet Scott Walker and would ask him to produce our next album. Dave would buy him a Pilsner Urquell in the Golden Tiger. Al would like to meet Phillip Glass and would ask him if he would do a track with the band. He would buy him a glass of Phillip.

Pete would like to meet Arthur Lee and would ask to sit on a hillside with him. He would ask Arthur to recommend a nice rounded bitter from his local independent brewery. Tag would like to meet the rest of Stained Glass Heroes here tonight to do this interview but sadly he can not. He will buy us what we want.

Thank you Joe. Pete has been gored by the Cougar. Subbuteo score: Al 0 – Dave 0.

Here endeth Stained Glass Heroes’ assault on our sanity. Hear more of their excellent music is here:, and then buy their songs via their website

ANBAD Probes… Midi Midis

Sarah Stead, a Reading-based writer with style, panache and who is, frankly, an all-round good egg, interviews the guitar-scuzzing, keyboard-stabbing Midi Midis for ANBAD

I FIND Marcus Fairley in the corner of the pub, with a pint of lager and The Times and not wearing any of his own clothes.

“This is my ex-girlfriend’s mum’s top,” he says, pulling at the white v-neck. “I really like it, though.”

Marcus, the Reading-based half of mould-breaking electronic outfit MidiMidis, is probably 20% hairspray. One brown eye stares right at me before he picks at the rest of his clothes and talks me through his outfit, most of which belongs to his ex or members of her family.

First impressions would suggest that this is a man who is not over his ex-girlfriend. But the truth is more like he’s half in love with everything – the world, ideas, art and probably a lot of the people he meets – and he fizzes with enthusiasm when he talks about the band’s unique brand of music.

Midi MidisNote To Self

“We just bought loads of old games consoles from eBay, ones from the 80s,” he says.

“We take chips out of them and use the whole range of each chip to make melodies. The songs end up really fast, around 200bpm.

“We compose using a mid 80s PC game music program. Once we’ve done all that we go into a studio and record vocals and New York new wave 70s-style guitars and put beats over it.

“Nothing else has been done like this.”

MidiMidis, signed to Perfect Noise, have taken their musical madness to huge audiences at Glade festival in 2009, as well as Secret Garden Party and Tignesfest in the French alps. Their bleeping, alien music worms its way into your ribcage with its pulse-like hooks, heartfelt lyrics and drawling Casablancas-style vocals. But there is no genre label to describe 8-bit music made using the living dead of the games console world.

“Essentially we’re a punk band,” says the Reading University law graduate.

“But we write really good tunes that end up being classed as pop because of the great melody, which actually gives us lots of freedom.

“I do Midimidis DJ sets quite a lot with vinyl and I play all the old music that’s made people want to be in bands because they hated it so much – you can’t go wrong with a bit of Sade – and sometimes people come up to us and complain. But I say, ‘We’re playing something that made you change your whole lifestyle’. What’s more punk than that?”

So if punk is the ideology, what’s the inspiration?

“We’re influenced by all sorts of things from Nirvana to Gary Numan to Howard Jones. And the Turtles films one and two – not the third – because that’s what we grew up with. We’re kids of the 80s. We were loners at school, no girlfriends or anything, and the things about the 80s that are now cool were the things that made us happy then.

“There are a lot of influences but it all comes down to being totally uncool.”

Pause for breath and he tells me that he thinks music is about making people feel they are part of something, and MidiMidis‘ development as a band has been inclusive from the start: “We were experimenting in front of people from day one with a fanzine night at the Rising Sun Arts Centre among other things,” he says.

“Not long ago a kid in Northampton heard our music on Myspace and sold us an old Amstrad CPC464 for £25. We’ve programmed our own noises and bleeps into it so I can play it live.

“Our guitar got stolen, too, but a fan gave us another one. We also borrowed Tom Bellamy from the Cooper Temple Clause’s guitar and we use all their old pedals.”

Marcus and his brother-in-law Ant Struselis have built up an impressive fanbase around Reading, London and beyond and they put it partially down to their sizzling live performances.

“I really want everyone to feel a part of something, and it’s exciting that we can do that – it’s mainly about the live experience,” Marcus says.

“I can’t play guitar at all but I make a weird noise with it anyway. The amount of noise that comes from just two people is phenomenal.

“We keep our sets short and energetic. By the end we’re really sweaty and everything’s broken and sometimes there’s blood too.”

At my look of horror he adds: “Yeah, really. It’s because I can’t strum properly.”

So what makes a law graduate who unashamedly cannot play guitar make music with gutted games consoles in his spare time?

“When we started doing this it was just because nobody had done it before. It was a joke. I thought people would hate it but thought that would be great because I like provoking a reaction.

“But people started really liking the music. They were coming back to gigs because they didn’t understand it and by the third or fourth time they were head over heels in love with it.

“Then, it was carry on with this or do a PHD. I thought I could do a PHD anytime. It would have been terrible to sit back and watch someone else do it, and I thought someone else would take all the risky bits out. Hopefully in 20 years’ time 17-year-olds will still think this is interesting, and that’s what makes me excited.”

MidiMidis have to a certain extent been hotwired into the spotlight with the release of their debut single Ambulance Café, which came out at the start of November. The tracks on the band’s Myspace immediately caught my attention and imagination – but it is knowing the intelligence, enthusiasm and charm behind the music that made me fall for it.

“Before we did a tour in the alps we emailed loads of people in the music industry asking them if we could wear their clothes for the gigs,” says Marcus.

“Of course nobody replied.

“I can’t wait for a few months time or so when it all breaks and everyone will want us to wear their clothes!”

© Sarah Stead // 2009

Manchester 2010: The Scene That Ate Itself

Is Manchester a city that is so proud of its musical past it still trades heavily on it, or one that has just given up trying to surpass what was produced before? That revolutionary 80’s period is still leant upon, and how: The Hacienda, now a swanky apartment block; “And on the 6th day, God created Manchester” T-shirts are still available in your size; and Peter Hook, having spent decades learning how not to run a nightclub, proves he has a sense of humour by opening a new, Factory-themed one.

Love And Disaster 1

This isn’t as bad a situation as some people would have you believe: celebrating past glories is one of life’s most rewarding pastimes. It’s just that this particular fertile period – and remember, it was one that spawned Joy Division, The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, New Order, The Stone Roses and all those other bands that are, if anything, lauded even closer to the heavens today – has overshadowed everything Manchester has ever done since.

A city that was so fully, overwhelmingly, endearingly, defined by a specific scene has struggled to shake off its shackles. Good bands have come and gone – but what of the scene? The vibe? The feel? Has enough time passed for a new group of bands to define their locale?

If a new EP, released this week, is to be believed, a new and very distinct Mancunian musical picture is emerging. One where the bands clutch to each other as firmly as they push away – bands that feed off each other, spur each other on, compete, and then go home and listen to each other’s records. The EP is called, aptly, Love And Disaster.

Featuring the toppers of various ‘Big In 2010’ lists, Delphic, as well as Airship, Dutch Uncles, and Jo Rose, it’s a disc that doesn’t just celebrate new Manchester bands: it digs deep into the creative psyche of them, reveals the complex interchange of ideas between them and mines fissures of hot rivalry – all of which powers what may be a nascent, genuinely new Manchester ‘scene’.

I spoke to Dan Parrott – once musical director of local TV station Channel M, and now the determined soul who put Love And Disaster together.

Did you just want to showcase your favourite new bands in Manchester? Or was there something else that drove the creation of the EP?

“Well – yes and no – they’re bands I really really love and so quite unashamedly are bands I want to push. They’re also bands I got to know from Channel M Music – bands I enjoyed showcasing, got on with and asked back for more. I wondered if this was too shallow a reasoning to justify the EP, but quickly realised that the that reason I kept getting them them back on the TV was a good enough reason for putting a record together”.

Why did you want to be so involved with a particular group of bands?

“Because, simply, they are bands I like. I showcased Delphic when they were very, very new – I caught them when they were young and I wanted to be part of the arc of their career, simply because they were great. They didn’t even have any tracks on their Myspace page when we had them on the TV show – they’d just play gigs at Night and Day in Manchester. But you could hear that they were so good and had spent a whole year just writing songs, and not gigging.”

So is it a vanity project?

“No – this EP is similar to what I did at Channel M anyway: I played what I liked then, and this is what I like now. The record was cathartic. Hopefully if they go onto big things, these bands will look back and see this as the start of their careers – and the bands can treat this as a full stop and, hopefully, a starting point. The remit of the record is to tie up and represent not only the sound of Manchester, but the new sound in the UK as well”

And what of this new Manchester scene? What makes it new? What makes it at all?

“It’s an undefined scene if you like. There’s a softly, softly approach – there are these bands together in Manchester but they’re not all the same. They’re helping each other out. They’re all working for each other. That’s perhaps what ties them all together – not their sound but the fact that they all genuinely like each other’s bands.”


So it seems like the Factory-era togetherness is still there, if not a unifying sound…

“Maybe. The bands are all mates, but it’s still disparate, not very organised. There are bands feeding off each other, but producing different sounds. It’s healthy competition. They appreciate what each other does – they go home and put each other’s music on the stereo. These are bands that will stick at it, and they have albums in them.”

What do people think of this new bunch of bands? They’re not what the public consider to be ‘Manchester bands’.

The reception has been really good – It was difficult getting all the contracts signed, but labels have actually been positive to get them grouping together. They know money isn’t necessarily the priority with a physical release now – but the bands’ stature is still important.”

“Take Dutch Uncles – they are way ahead of their time in many ways: incredibly talented musicians who use technology and creative invention to make their own new sound. I was annoyed that the NME didn’t pick them up previously, but perhaps it was for the best. They’re exposed now, and it’s the right time.”

“And of course Delphic are now being hyped, and are set to be big. Delphic meet all sorts of [industry] people now because they’re getting stellar. And they always push Manchester bands to these people because they love the idea of Manchester and Factory; not in a stereotypical way, but in the idea of a bunch of unusual, good bands that are unified.”

So maybe a new perception of Manchester’s music might emerge?

“Yeah – the whole point of the group photo (above) is to physically unify them together, to define them as a group. Hopefully it’ll be a really important photo in 5 years time – it uses a typical Mancunian warehouse setting but then that’s the point: it is still Manchester.”

Love And Disaster 1: New Tracks From New Manchester Artists is available now.

>ANBAD Probes… Forest Fire

Forest Fire were the band who blazed (Boom! Boom!) a trail onto ANBAD back in September and wowed us all with their grimy, shambling, rock. We frothed at the mouth a bit, and spouted such platitudes as:

“Their music has that vital ingredient: unconfined individuality. Yum. A really very good new band.”

All of which would have been just lovely if I hadn’t then tried to crowbar some dreadful cooking analogy into the article. (But for those of you who simply love boiled octopus, you’re in for a treat.)

Still, I wanted to fan the flames of Forest Fire (last one, honest) a bit more, and so had a chat with the band to see where they were, where they are going, and to hear of their plans to violently assault Bob Dylan. They spoke in italics, thusly:

Hello Forest Fire! How the devil are you?

Well, thanks.

Where are you in the world right now? What do you see? And what is good about that place?

Seattle. Dogs. Coffee.

You’ve been gigging for a while now – are you the kind of band whose records are a document of their live shows, or are the live shows an expansion of your records?

Second one.

Where in particular have you enjoyed gigging?

We actually had a great time playing in London. France was great as well. But we are such a new band, every show still feels like the first.

I got a bit breathless over your music in my review of you, in particular the lovely shambolic nature of your songs. They sound like they fell together haphazardly – is this right, or is your creative process more tightly focused?

They fell together, but I wouldn’t say haphazardly. We took a really long time on Survival. We started out with flawed recordings, and then balanced them out with careful and laborious overdubbing.

From where I’m sat (which is under gloomy skies in Manchester, UK), Brooklyn seems to have an exciting and vibrant music scene. Is that true, and if so, what is particularly good about it? Which other good bands are there to look out for?

I think it must be true. But Scenes are limiting right? Check out Hologram, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, and Goodbye the Band.

Your music is getting people nicely hot under the collar. Where do you go from here now that you know you’ve caught eyes, ears and possibly hearts too?

Well, that’s very nice of you to say. Thanks a lot. I feel like we just want to follow each song to it’s end. That’s all we ever really aim to do.

And speaking of endings – finally: if you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?

Dylan. I’d Throw a drink in his face. After I heard the song “Sarah” I couldn’t pick up a pen or a guitar for about a month.

And with that, they were off, possibly to leave magnifying glasses in wooded areas full of paper-dry scrub whilst shooting fireworks into Californian hillsides. Or not. Their lovely album, Survival, is out now.

Photography by Victoria Jacob

>ANBAD Probes… Nic Dawson Kelly



Some artists have something about them that elevates them above the frothing herd of other, equally enthusiastic artists; something indefinable and latent, but immediately arresting. Something so delicate that it could crumble you try to put your finger on it. A trait that is entirely theirs.

Nic Dawson Kelly doesn’t have this; not like that anyway. He does have that something, and, yes, it’s all his. It’s just that his something is so blindingly obvious, it’s like being poked repeatedly in the eye. It’s his voice. When I reviewed him a week or so ago, I was in faintly humiliating raptures.

I had to hear from the man himself. He answered my series of puerile questions eloquently. Nic had mentioned that he’d had terrible jobs in the past, and, having once worked as a lawn-mower on a sewage plant, wanted to hear how his own horror stories compared.

“In Brighton, I once had three jobs at once. I’d wake with the seagulls and go and work for a cold calling company trying to sell photography sessions to pregnant women of their “to be due” babies. Surprisingly it was the last thing they wanted to worry about.

In the afternoon, I would clean all the workmen and staff toilets, then evening struck and I’d find myself behind the bar until it was time to go home. There’s only so much of this daily routine you can put on repeat before you’ve had enough. I found three months was my maximum. Living on the coast made things easier. “

Surely, I asked, these jobs were part of the motivation behind his nascent musical career?

“I was playing beforehand and during this work when I had chance. Sometimes, I suppose, you have to be ground down a bit by these things in order to realize what you enjoy doing. In that respect, it probably did push me to work harder to get to somewhere where I looked forward to waking up. “

He’s now escaped and is gigging to promote his debut album, Old Valentine (out today!). The album was recorded in a bohemian-sounding way – casually, with eclectic input and miles removed from toilet-scrubbing. He told me about the effect recording this way had on the sound of the record.

“Before heading in to recording I was pretty sure this would be an out and out folk record. It wasn’t until I went in and the guys around the studio and the producer got involved that I realized it could be, if anything, a more enjoyable experience if we tried to cram in as many musicians as we could into a small live room and just see what attitudes they brought to the songs.

I think it’s a room full of strangers, immediacy and time constraint that brought in that sound. Nothing was too set in stone about it and that’s what I like. “

Feeling fruity, I asked him when he sold his soul in exchange for his super-deluxe voice. He called my bluff – “March 13th, 1997. ” The mystery deepened. I tried a more reasonable tack. Did his voice develop organically over a long period of singing and writing or has it just always been there?

I’d say it was a bit of both. I moved about a lot when I was growing up so I took to hearing a lot of ways of singing… I use to sing choir when I was a great deal younger. There was an old man there who had the strangest approach to singing. He sounded almost like a sheep howling. As much as he destroyed the impact of a heavenly ensemble, he seemed to make this tiresome drone a bit more interesting.

Sometimes words need to be tilted a little so that they can truly stand up. I always kept that in mind. As I started writing myself and singing I always sung with a lot of vibrato. It’s an instrument as any other and each song it tends to approach differently.”

Suitably sated by his answer, I asked if he could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would he ask them, and what drink would he buy them?

To Dr John: “Where do you buy such wonderful and preposterous outfits?” I’d buy him a tequila for the trouble of answering.

Nic then vanished, possibly to clean a toilet, possibly to hassle pregnant women, but most probably to fulfil ambition. We’ll be hearing a lot more of him, and this is a good thing. Nic’s alum is out now. It’s very good, and is in all good record shops, and probably some bad ones too, if there are any left.