For this feature, we asked the founder and head pastor of the UK’s Sonic Cathedral Records a few questions on his ongoing campaign to offer the people and parish of his “broad church” a respite from all the musical blandness currently surrounding us. Nat Cramp is the “hardest working man in ‘gaze”. Rock journo, a&r scout, producer, dj, promoter, equal parts- public service purveyor of good noise and all around good guy who knows a thing or two about interesting and informative blog posts (check out “Celebrity Pedalboards #2!”) at http://www.soniccathedral.co.uk/ to get an idea of his inspired preachin’…
Sonic Cathedral is very much a “broad church” in many ways. Celebrating all the sonic-y bliss songwriting and its roots and influences, via spinning records, booking bands, pressing records, doing a radio show, and much much more. Your like the “Bill Graham of ‘Gaze”. Did you see the night taking off like this? I believe it was originally a one-off…
“I never expected it to turn out like this for a minute! Sonic Cathedral was originally a one-off night in October 2004 to celebrate the whole shoegaze scene, inspired by the music that was around at that time – especially The Radio Dept’s ‘Lesser Matters’ and Ulrich Schnauss’ ‘A Strangely Isolated Place’ – which reminded me so much of things I had like when I was 17 or 18. I managed to get The Radio Dept to play and Stephen and Jo from The Telescopes came and DJed. It was an incredible night – so many people came out in old Slowdive and Chapterhouse T-shirts, plus there were a lot of younger kids who were unaware that the S-word was once a term of abuse; it was immediately obvious that it wasn’t just me, there was actually a demand for this kind of thing. I felt compelled to carry on. The gigs became regularly irregular, first in London, then occasionally in other places around the UK. Everything that’s happened since has happened in an organic way. The label came about when I did some shows with Mark Gardener and I nervously asked if I could get Ulrich Schnauss to remix a track off his recent solo album for a 7″ single… He said yes, but then The Tamborines single happened first, and now here we are over five years and 30 plus releases later.”
Sonic Cathedral Records has put out 30+ carefully curated releases on good old fashioned vinyl & cd. Sometimes in tribute to the classic ’80’s 7″ records of Scottish greats, JAMC, but always a healthy dose of new sounds and remixes. Any particular release stand out to you personally? What’s a “dream record” you would like to concoct for a future release?
“Yes, I recently did a double 7″ for a band called Younghusband, which was directly inspired by those Mary Chain releases. I’ve always wanted to waste some money on one of those! It’s hard to pick favourite releases, as I love them all equally. However, obviously the first single (The Tamborines’ ‘Sally O’Gannon’) was memorable. I really liked the two remixes of Japancakes’ My Bloody Valentine covers, just because it was such an odd record, in the true spirit of MBV, but sounding unlike anything else. The first Team Ghost EP was pretty special, not least because it looked so good on marbled vinyl. And I’m very proud of the album of Roky Erickson and 13th Floor Elevators covers I did (‘The Psychedelic Sounds Of The Sonic Cathedral’) – that took a while to pull together, but the end result was worth it. As for dream records for future release – I’m doing a couple already this year, including a great band from Baltimore called Dead Mellotron who I’ve been pursuing for a while. Their album is called ‘Glitter’ and it’s going to have a glitter sleeve! I’m also hoping to work with one of my heroes…”
It’s promising that you continue to forge ahead with new releases and events all the time, despite the Sony DADC fire affecting your stock and the overall uselessness of the old business model to sell records, collapsing. Thank you for truckin’ on! What should we anticipate for 2012?
“Well, the Dead Mellotron record I mentioned is really exciting, the second Yeti Lane album ‘The Echo Show’ is an absolute masterpiece and Team Ghost’s debut will finally be out later in the year. Plus there are one or two other things in the pipeline that I’m ridiculously excited about. It’s strange, because the fire was a devastating blow, but I never considered giving up at the point, it almost had a galvanising effect on all the indie labels in the UK. I was determined to take the positives out of it and move on and start over. The same with the business model – true, it’s useless, but some people do still want to buy this stuff. Not in enough numbers for me to make a living from it, sadly, but I see Sonic Cathedral as more of a public service – a tiny fightback against the tide of musical blandness.”
So, let’s get the shameless interweb reunion rumors cooking. First MBV, then Chapterhouse, and now The Roses…If I was a betting man, I’d put the charm, goodwill, and smarts of Nat & Claire Cathedral against Baggy Beckham’s any day to sway the Rides back together. Waddya say? A band that us Americanos care about too…
“I would love it to happen and have mentioned it to Mark, Loz and Dave Newton (Ride’s manager) numerous times. Who knows, maybe it’ll happen one day – it’s 20 years since ‘Going Blank Again’ this year so it’s as good a time as any!”