Donovan

Scottish folk troubadour, Donovan, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012. Pedro who has particpated in their summer institutes decided he would try to secure an interview before then.

You are from Maryhill in Glasgow, Scotland. What was it like growing up in post-war UK?

Streets torn up and sewers running down the alleys, diptheria and polio everywhere, the greed and violence of the worst of human folly called war, left we poor kids playing in a war zone.

I like your description in Rolling Stone of coming “from a very ancient, acoustic root”. What is your earliest recollection of music sparking a light in you?

My father reading me poetry of noble thought and social change struck a chord in me, a call to remember my past life as a Celtic Bard.”

Session musicians on your early recordings read like a who’s who of fellow inductees. Did you foresee the likes of Jimmy Page, Jack Bruce, and John Paul Jones making such an enormous impact on music later on?

I knew that my quirky unique songwriting and musical genres were fun for me to play when I wrote them but didn’t know so many players would be attracted to want to be part.”

The tambura on Hurdy Gurdy Man is as iconic as the sitar on Norwegian Wood. I believe Mr. Harrison gave you the instrument as a gift? My lovely wife is about to embark on her first trip to India for work and has agreed to bring me back a tamburi for my birthday. Any tips in selecting one?

If its Delhi ask the Internet for the professional Indian instrument store in Delhi and then buy the best you can afford.”

We are based in the great city of San Francisco. I recently took my art students on a fieldtrip to the Fillmore to view its Poster Gallery and experience Bill Graham’s contribution to the arts first hand. Are there any stories from your time playing at this living landmark? What was your impression of the city by the bay?

“I love the seaside city, it reverberates through my youth as I listened to West Coast Jazz and Poetry, the romance of the Orient and the beautiful hills rolling up and down with the fresh breezes of Carmel and tales of John Steinbeck, Kerouac in Vesuvio Cafe …the city of dreams.”

I saw you perform acoustically once, back when I was an art student. It was at the (sadly, long gone) Tower Records in New York. I enjoyed your storytelling, particularly of your travels with Gypsy Dave. Tell me about Gypsy Dave’s influence and sculpture work.

I think tis best you buy and read my autobio, The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man, for all things Gypsy Dave and Donovan.”

Your involvement with the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness based Education and World Peace seems like a natural extension of your life-long commitment to meditation and mindfulness. The school I teach at has adopted mindfulness as a practice for the classroom this year. It’s exciting to see our students embrace silence and apply it in their lives beyond the classroom. What has meditation done for you and what do you think it can do for our future leaders and thinkers?

 ” Meditation to me confirms the transcendental world that we all come from. It is essential now for every student to overcome fear, doubt, and anger. It is the boom that The Beatles and I brought back from India for the west to rediscover.

It is the access to the limitless potential of happiness and fulfillment. It is the saviour of the lost nations of the world. Those practicing meditation are the first to develop the evolution of consciousness that humankind is growing towards full    enlightenment.”

I have been honored to share my teaching practices on integrating music into the classroom at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum’s Summer Teacher Institute. Do you have any insight I can pass along to fellow educators on 21st Century Learning for our students?

“Well done on your work, and yes ask the educators to visit the Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa to see meditation in action with all students, teachers, and staff meditating.”

Your recent work includes wonderful recordings with Rick Rubin (Sutras) and Danny Thompson/Jim Keltner (Beat Cafe). Can we anticipate any further collaborations/recordings for 2012 and beyond?

Check out my website for RITUAL GROOVE double mail order `CD. http://www.donovan.ie”

We feature a variety of new artists leaving their mark in Scotland and beyond. Any folks you recommend we should check out?

I have to catch up on Scottish artists soon.”

Pedro

So, my tamburi was found and purchased at the great Rikhi Ram shop in New Dehli, where Ajay has sold many fine instruments to many fine Beatles throughout the years. How my better half managed to point out this rock-historical side note from the road driving for 2 hrs in Indian traffic, I’ll never know. But I’m glad she did and thanks to Ajay for the good price! 

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Sonic Cathedral (Pedro’s quest to reunite Ride)

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!”

Pedro 

In Review

We’ve been thinking of starting reviews as a regular feature. We’ve even got the prototype graphic ready. However, I just can’t convince myself that it would be of any benefit to anyone. I’ve got an unwritten Moth & Mirror review floating in my  head and I was going to use the new Mull Historical Society record as content to fill the current lull in postings.

I’ll make it simple: if you have a fondness for MHS and didn’t quite feel right about the Colin Mcintyre records go out and get it.  Our ‘reviews’ are in our band list. If we feature it, we recommend it. Check out the music – then buy what you can, preferably from the artist directly.

I’ve been seriously amiss in sending out questions. It is not for lack of bands – it is mind boggling how many we still want to get through to. We hope to revisit more than a handful as all these full lengths are released this year.

I made a playlist from ‘bands’ of the first 3 months awhile back. For the most part, it consists of songs featured in the interviews and roughly follows the sequence in which they appeared on the blog up until that point in time.

Colombian Fireworks – There Will Be Fireworks 

Breathing Space (Mogwai remix) –  Martin John Henry 

 Homerun And A Vow –  KC & the Canaverals

Apples and Pears  – Olympic Swimmers 

A Lesser Coming Home –  The Gothenburg Address 

Before The Owl Will Fly –  Campfires In Winter 

 It’s all Over Bar the Shouting  – Prince Edward Island 

Germany – The Moth & The Mirror

All Hands Lost – Edinburgh School for the Deaf 

Bookmarkesque –  Loch Awe 

Solstice- The Unwinding Hours 

SiSi – Washington Irving 

Young Francis- The Seventeenth Century 

Me Vs Me – French Wives 

 Something Approaching – Cancel the Astronauts

As Trains Pass By – Plum 

Moviegoer – Panda Su 

Not Today (bonus track) – Mull Historical Society

Admittedly, I applied a little of my ‘mixtape magic’, but the astonishing thing is how amazing this sounds as a whole – especially given the essentially random nature of the band responses. I threw out a lot of question bottles into the Pacific. Many have yet to be returned and more than a few are likely lost.  The pace we had to work to have a post every 3 days was daunting to say the least. Temporarily at least – we’ve run aground. Things will now pick up again. I imagine every 5 days is a much more  reasonable goal. At the moment there is nothing in the hold – a few answers will hopefully float back in before the next wave of questions gets sent out.

I think of this as a journey – tentative plans to spend a summer in Scotland are already afoot. It will still be a while off though. In the meantime – I can’t wait to see all that is discovered before then.

T&P

Kevin Gilday

Since this is ostensibly a Scottish music blog, I’d like to start off with  ‘An Unremarkable Shade of Beige’ and your take on the Glasgow music scene.  What don’t you like about it? 

Well, let me just just start by saying that it’s not the Glasgow music scene in general I dislike, just some trends that I’ve noticed. I believe that art should be a compulsion, that you should feel an overwhelming need to create. You might be lucky enough to create art that will be to the taste of a large amount of people or you may be drawn to create art that is of no interest to anyone but yourself. Either way it’s not a choice. Glasgow contains too many bands who:

a) Are obsessed with changing their sound to fit with whatever trend is current in order to further their career.
b) Are obsessed with changing their sound to be as wilfully obscure as possible to be seen as popular within certain circles.

Both of these things seem like a waste of time to me. Trends have a finite lifespan, you need to follow your own muse (so to speak). Thankfully these people seem to be in the minority.”

Having skimmed through your twitter followings, I see about 20 or so bands  in common. This tells me that you are, of course, a fan of music and that we likely share some musical sensibilities. What is it about these artists that you find moving?

 “There are so many bands in Glasgow doing their own thing regardless of popularity, that is only to be commended. My taste is split across every genre and there are several Glasgow bands to be highlighted in each for their originality. I won’t go into an exhaustive list but I will mention North American War (in turns chaotic and beautiful art rock), Peter Cat (songwriting of distinctive sophistication), and Katerwaul (hyper intelligent mathrock from Aberdeen). Basically I love the diversity of the current scene, if you can find a day of the year without a decent gig then you’re not looking hard enough.”

I’m a big fan of Patrick Jones and as such was very receptive to checking out your primarily spoken word release ‘Graphite’ which you’ve generously offered as a free download. I listened to about half of it before giving it the ‘glasgowest’ stamp of approval. Many of the themes are clearly your take on your direct surroundings, and you dwelve into some of the contradictions you find around you.  Does it take a poet to recognize that some contradictions can be held simultaneously without having to eliminate one side or the other?

“I don’t think that it’s necessarily just the domain of the poet. People hold contradictory statements and views simultaneously on a constant basis, it’s an enduring trick of life. The older we get the more we learn to combine and compromise, to embrace one of the many shades of grey in between. People who don’t learn to do this often can’t function in society since our continuing existence is predicated upon this self deception. Perhaps as a poet (or artist of any kind) you can be more aware of the contradictions involved (being the sensive souls that we are) but we are very rarely the first to do anything about it. We can reflect it back but we can’t change the image. Thank God for those that do things.”

Your work, once again comparing it to my only frame of reference, is a good deal more  introspective and seems to focus on personal interactions. In terms of music, I’m very pleased that so many artists are singing in their native voice. In that regard, do you consider yourself a distinctly Glaswegian voice? I love the charm of ‘The Polite Meeting of Two Well-Mannered Men’.  Could you describe Glasgow in a few sentences? Is that something that is even possible’? In an earlier post, Fergus Lawrie wrote that “If Glasgow is a drunk then its music scene is the argument it is having with itself.” I quite liked that.

“Glasgow is the city of contradictions. It is two opposite cities existing simultaneously on the same location (Alasdair Gray was right). We are rich and poor. We are cultured and barbaric. We are ambitious and resigned. All at the same time. Consistently. I know of no other city that maintains this split personality and indeed thrives because of it. In that way, and in others, I suppose I’m very much a product of my surroundings. I like to think I’d always be doing what I am currently but it’s probably not true. I find constant inspiration in Glasgow and it’s idiosyncrasies. Inside the city we are all part of some bizarre binary opposition but to those looking in from outside we must seem like our own mini nation. There is a twisted pride that comes with being Glaswegian.”

I am saddened that your musical incarnation ‘How Garbo Died’ is no more. I had checked that out previously and didn’t make the connection until now. You do sing  on the record (I guess there is some overlap between projects). Can we hope – or is it inevitable anyway – to find you in another musical venture in the  future?

“Yes, almost definitely. Without giving too much away (as not all the details are confirmed) this year should see me lending my voice to a couple of projects as well as collaborating with some incredible musicians on some more spoken word pieces. I’ve also penned some poetry that will be featured in an upcoming film production. Oh yeah, and we may see a live interpretation of Graphite performed by some of the original contributing artists. All in all, yes. I’ll certainly be stretching the vocal chords at some point this year.”

What’s the best (Scottish) gig you’ve attended in the past year? We need to ask because you are there and we are here.

“I’ll be cheeky and give a couple of answers. In terms of local Scottish acts I’d nominate a gig curated by Jim of Ayetunes fame. It featured myself (oh the humanity), Shambles Miller, The Spook School and The Sea Kings. To be honest I think Jim had thrown it together at the last minute but it actually seemed like the perfect combination ofacts. I started off with some poems and stories before enjoying three incredible acts. The important bit was that everyone was making incredible music and there wasn’t a hint of pretension in the room (apart from myself).”

I’m also going to say Mogwai at Primavera 2011 (Barcelona). No point in trying to describe it in detail. All I’ll say is that Mogwai should always play towards the sea and that I thought I saw a star explode during Rano Pano.”

Lastly, we’d like it if you asked glasGOwest a question.

I’d like to ask why you like Scotland so much? Are you from here? And if not have you ever visited? Just curious.

Musically, I’ve always been somewhat of an anglophile. I surmise this might have something to do with being one of the last families this century to traverse the Atlantic by ship to the New World. Departing from Bremerhaven on the ‘Alexander Pushkin’, we made port in London enroute to Montreal. Of course, I was only four at the time. Growing up in Canada certainly helped, but I like to pretend that the one night spent in British waters somehow influenced my tastes for life. Considering the alternative would have been ‘Krautrock’, it is probably a good thing.  I’ve yet to visit Scotland, but when I was in London in May of ’96 a young Stuart Braithwaite gave me an unlabelled 7 inch from the back of the tour van and I’ve been more closely attuned to Scottish bands ever since. The last few years just seem to have been spent actively seeking out Scottish bands to the point where they have literally taken over. This blog has pretty much cemented that. I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg. It is almost unbelievable how much Scottish talent there is. I’ll never get to them all.

T & P

Check out Graphite for yourself http://kevinpgilday.bandcamp.com/album/graphite

SF Calling: A Chat with Glasgow’s Elaine O’Connor

I’m not sure how this will pan out. In my head, I’d like it to be a conversational chat about music from the point of view of our respective cities. Thanks for the tip on the ‘Happy Particles’. Once again, I can say I heard about it from Elaine. What are you looking forward to musically in the new year? I’m very excited about the upcoming Chris Devotion and the Expectations release.

“If it’s not already clear, I love the Happy Particles, so I’m glad you like them as well. What I’m looking forward to is something I have been thinking about today. I have one of the CDEX singles which I like a lot, so that should be a good one. I’m fond of the label they’re on – Armellodie (did you happen to get their free sampler, which was released over Christmas? (http://armellodie.bandcamp.com/album/armellodie-records-sampler) If not you should check it out.) 

I also want to hear the mini-album which Holy Mountain is set to put out on Chemikal Underground – their noisiness is very appealing live and will be good to see how it sounds properly recorded. I’m looking forward to hearing what PAWS are going to come out with next, as they’re apparently going in to the studio in the next couple of weeks to record. Also, the Miaoux Miaoux album, whenever it appears, is going to be pretty amazing. Of course, there will be plenty more but I can’t think what right now.”

Has the re-release of Big Country’s ‘The Crossing’ come across your radar? I’m a little dismayed by the 30 years of it all, as I was 18 or so when that came out. 

“I’m afraid I’m not big on Big Country. Should I change my mind on this? Tell me what I’m missing out on?”

I am not sure it would work that way. Personally, I rarely ever go back and look for something before my time. On the other hand I just discovered the Skids. Had I known them before Big Country who knows how I would have felt about it. It certainly would have been different. And considering the tragic circumstances, I doubt it would have much meaning for someone of today. I won’t put it down to nostalgia though.

This time of year has always been completely devoid of U.K. acts touring here, but now that I’m focusing so much on Scotland, I’m really ‘jealous’ of not being able to attend any of the Christmas shows. Did you take in any?

“I did just a couple during a very busy December. Went along to Last Year’s Girl’s (http://lastyearsgirl.pixlet.net/) show at the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow, which was not Christmassy per say but definitely kicked off the festive season. She had a mix of offbeat singer songwriter types David Hughes, Chris T-T and Franz Nicolay, and all were very entertaining but Chris T-T was hilarious as well as talented so he won the day for me. 

I saw the We Were Promised Jetpacks, Remember Remember and Endor show at the ABC in Glasgow, which was a great triple-bill. Endor are just a lovely band, and Remember Remember get better every time I see them. WWPJ were very good fun, and it was the big office party night Friday in Glasgow so packed with drunk people, which they handled well.

I also went to see the Second Hand Marching Band’s Christmas show, with Withered Hand and the Last Battle which was a nice mix. SHMB I have a vested interest in because of my brother who plays with them, but I genuinely enjoy them too – also they did a cover of ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17 – which probably doesn’t mean much outside of the UK, but was a Christmas number 1 which is a big deal here.

There must have been a couple of good local shows over there in the festive season, did you go along to anything?”

Sadly I was a bit laid up and didn’t even make it to the Fakeyourowndeath New Year’s show. (Like missing SHMB almost). I can redeem myself  a week Friday. I did pick up a couple of Twilight Sad and Wedding Present Tickets today though. Seamonsters live! I missed buying Bombay Bicycle Club tickets. Ian McCulloch coming to town and I better go and snag some Imperial Teen tickets before that sells out.  I wanted your opinion on FYOD. There was a time, I’d counted the previous incarnation as my favourite band. That is no small declaration. But I’ve always felt I might be just a little to close to them to be truly objective.

What do you think? http://www.facebook.com/FakeYourOwnDeath?sk=wall

“First off, I was immediately intrigued to see they had recently been playing with The Velvet Teen, a band I love. So thought, ‘this can’t be bad!’. And indeed it wasn’t. While they’re probably sick of hearing Interpol/Editors comparisons, it is true; but in a really good way. I liked the urgency behind the guitars and drums, and the intensity of his voice. I also enjoyed that I could have had a wee dance to ‘Bombs Don’t Show Up’ which had a bit of a Franz Ferdinand tinge for me. In short, it ticks many of my boxes and the band is now on the list for purchases. Thanks for getting me to listen to them.” 

I take it you didn’t get a ticket for the Nov 17th Arab Strap ‘reunion’. Do you have any direct feedback from someone who did manage to get in?

“Sadly I did not, no. I’ve heard from a few friends that it was pretty special which is not unexpected — Stuart McHugh’s review was good (http://www.isthismusic.com/arab-strap-3) and I trust his opinion. I was obviously quite disappointed, but I did see them a tremendous amount of times when they were alive, so I guess I can deal with it. 

In a further blow, I was also unable to go to the shows both Aidan and Malcolm did during December because of other commitments; so it just really wasn’t my year for Arab Strap related activity!”

Coincidentally, I went to see the Chameleons (Vox) that  very night at the same venue that I had seen Arab Strap on their last North American tour.  I had passed on this opportunity before as I am extremely leery of falling into the nostalgia trap. In short, it was amazing. Mark Burgess (despite the jeans tucked in short boots look ) was phenomenal. I think it highlights how far ahead of their time they really were.  Are there any bands you wished you could have seen? 

“Tons, I’m sure… Although I’m very lucky in that the one band I loved the most who had split up were The Pixies, and thanks to the reformation I’ve seen them a couple of times. Both were amazing shows for me, although I’m sure they weren’t quite the same as they would have been.”

 In terms of musical generations (say every 5 years) we are quite a bit apart. This actually fascinates me. So many of my generation stop looking for new music or are just  looking back nostalgically on the ‘good old days’.  I fear in my case, it is probably a case of arrested development in that my musical passion is still adolescent.   Are you able to talk about bands of your ‘youth’ yet?

“I’m terrified of the day I stop looking for something new. While I hope I’ve developed somewhat, a lot of my tastes are still quite similar and there are bands who I guess I’ve now had long love affairs with (Mogwai are probably the best example of this). Some are very much of the past – most of those could be classed in the pop punk bracket; certain of them I’m still a fan of but for the most part I’ve put them aside. It’s strange to think there are bands I had huge obsessions over who I now haven’t listened to for years. My friend Lesley is a champion reminiscence partner for such things. In school we were constantly going to see a British band called My Vitriol; who kind of imploded after touring their first album to death. We saw them on a ‘we’re sort of back together with half the band changed but the same old songs’ gig a couple of years ago and it was completely bizarre and almost sad. They’re of a certain time, for sure, but I can still remember how much I loved them back then.”

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I consider  ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ as the best overall release of the past year. The idea of aging obviously resonates with me.  In fact, I just ordered the triple vinyl. Which means I have paid for the download, bought the physical cd and now have the deluxe edition.  What would you hail as the year’s best?

“That is *some* dedication to an album although I do agree it’s fantastic. I’ve only got the CD! I have enjoyed a lot of albums in the last year, but standouts are probably Remember Remember, Happy Particles, Mogwai, Monoganon, Conquering Animal Sound, Dead Boy Robotics – every time I try and think about it I remember something else. My ultimate favourite is a toss up between the first two but Remember Remember’s new album might just edge it. Might. I think it really pleased me most because I had that second album worry – because the first RR album I was very attached to and I was nervous I wouldn’t like this one as much. But the changes, additions of more members and more instruments, have added so much to it; I probably enjoy it even more than the first.

Scotland aside, I’ve probably listened to the Cults album more than any other this year. I basically like anything with fuzzy guitars which is a bit girl-band-ish, so it was a no brainer. “

That reminds me that I should get a Veronica Falls ticket. My first impression was the new Lush (without the acerbic wit) The blog ( of a ‘professional’ fan) is now a full 3 months old. 2100 hits is not very much. But it is something. In reality, it probably should be closer to zero. In fact, the other day I noticed a click through from Pop Cop. I’m listed as a music site! And as of now I’m on Ayetunes! What would say was your ‘professional’ highlight?

That’s very exciting, the Pop Cop is excellent. I still feel like a glorified fan also. My favourite thing is when someone I like, likes something I write about them. That makes me very happy.”

I smiled the other day when I noticed The King Hats thanking you for linking up with them on twitter after our post about them. Surely not a coincidence. Lastly,  Campfires in Winter (not on the Radar artist list yet)   cough  cough …

 “I admit I hadn’t got round to chasing this up further, but I’ll punt it again! Thanks.”

Thanks so much for agreeing to this experiment. We’ll see what the future holds. Until next time, San Francisco out.

T&P

2011 – Year’s Best Albums

While this isn’t necessarily a list of the year’s best, I could easily state that the first 6 would be found on my top 12. ‘Everything Getting Older’, given my advanced years, resonates strongly enough to be my actual number 1.

It is, however,  a list of the records purchased on vinyl this past year.  I got rid of all my vinyl at least 20 years ago. For the most part, I don’t miss the collection much. Afterall, it was primarily the 80’s. There are a few things I wished I kept but generally speaking I’ve always been one to search out new material as opposed to becoming to comfortable with and settling for the old. In each generation of music, I would look for something that moved me as much as the previous. Thankfully that something was never limited to just a certain sound.

Last Christmas, I received a turntable. My initial reaction was a befuddled bemusement. I owned exactly 2 records. Blue Peter’s Radio Silence ( the sole record from my original collection) and a never listened to Urusei Yatsura  signed debut that I’ve kept for 15 years. I bought it in addition to the CD at an instore on launch day.  Getting the turntable  occurred just at the point where mp3s themselves were threatening to replace CD.  I had been acquiring so much music that I couldn’t honestly claim I had the time to enjoy and listen to all of it. When you can’t actually name a good deal of what comes up on an ipod shuffle, you’ve probably gone to far.

Then instantly – everything slowed down again.  I’m now down to a single emusic account that I have to be reminded to empty of credits at the end of the month. Getting something immediately digitally is still impressive but I’ve come to be equally fond of the Royal Mail.  There is a noticeable difference in tone between analog and digital. It really does have  a comforting warmth that is  especially noticeable after all these years away from it.  I’ll wait until next year to make my subjective pronouncements of which ones are the ‘best’. For now, it is as if I’ve rediscovered music itself.

Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells – Everything is Getting  Older

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

Zoey Van Goey – Propeller Wings

Found – Factorycraft

We Were Promised Jetpacks – In the Pit of the Stomach

Mogwai  – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai – Earth Division

KC and the Canaverals – 7”

The Seventeenth Century – Part 1 and 2

Delgados – Universal Audio

Delgados  – Peleton

Lord Cut Glass – Lord Cut Glass

Aereogramme – Chemikal Underground Box Set

Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love

Broken Records – Let Me Come Home

Mitchell Museum – The Peters Port Memorial Service

Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Automatic

Urusei Yatsura – Urusei Yatsura

Los Compesinos   – Hello Sadness

Sigur Ros  – Inni

Comet Gain – Howl of the Lonely Crowd

U2 –remastered October

Asobi Seksu – Fluoresence

Morrisey – Swords

Los Campesinos – Romance is Boring

Loney Dear – Hall Music

Manic Street Preachers – Journal for Plague Lovers

iLiketrains – Elegies to Lessons Learnt

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

A Minor Reflection – Pledge Music  EP

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife

My Kid Canaveral came yesterday and a copy of the last Twilight Sad is on its way. Counting it, 22/35 of these are Scottish artists. I am looking forward to hearing what 2012 will bring; whatever the format. Wherever possible, I’ll be looking to buy it on vinyl. And as you can see in my little squirrel friend, this time around, I’m making the music even more personal. Bring on the Fence 7″ subscription.

T&P

Mark Gardener

We intend to feature one favoured artist each month who is not Scottish. This interview comes courtesy of Pedro and his admiration of Ride.

Mark Gardener (of seminal Oxford sonic guitar pioneers, Ride) has been on the road lots over the past couple of months with the Upside Down and Anyone Can Play Guitar film/ documentaries. He was kind to answer some of our questions.

You’ve been busy mixing and producing a variety of bands and projects. What tips did you pick up from all the engineers and producers you recorded with over the years?

 ” I picked up different tips from different engineers and producers over this time. Everybody I worked with had different ideas and ways of doing things in order to try and get the best results out of their musicians. Ride were always pretty headstrong about how we wanted to sound and that we wanted it to be great and we worked hard on the songwriting as individuals and also as a band  so we never really worked with any producers who would have to pull all apart and start all again from scratch.  All the  producers we worked with used trusted and very good engineers so they could really concentrate on getting the best performance and takes out of the band. There’s loads of technical stuff to learn to become a great engineer and every studio is set up differently from the other so having great house engineers is essential so that you concentrate on the people and trying to get the best out of the people in what these days is always a pretty tight financial situation as there are not the budgets anymore to sit around and waste time in studios that are costing money. I always insist that a band is very well rehearsed and ready before we go into a studio situation and I will always try and set up in a live as possible way so that the responsibility of the take is shared between the band and the magic of the band is then hopefully captured. I also think it’s great if songs have been played live in front of an audience before they are recorded as this can tell a band lots about how a song is working or not before they get into the studio environment.  Being a singer I also make sure that the vocalist can also sing with the band during the takes and if possible have the good mic set up for this so he also has the possibility of capturing his good vocal take like this. In the end I think it’s really important whichever way you work that the general feeling of all the band and the environment is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible as power and great takes to me always come from this feeling in the room. During the recording process I will also try and keep managers and record companies away until all is recorded so there are as few distractions as possible. Every band is different so you have to be pretty adaptable to the differing needs of the people.”

“Moonlight Medicine” (from Carnival of Light) is one of the great opening tracks of my youth. I remember opening the cd at the mall and blasting it on a department store stereo because I didn’t have the patience to wait till I got home to listen to it. How was it working with two of the greats on that record, George Drakoulias and John Leckie?

   “George Drakoulias was great to meet and work with. I spent some good time with George hitting the record shops with him as we got to know each other before any work commenced buying  some of his essential listening material. Dusty in Memphis and the Stax box set springs to mind amongst a few others all of which are amazing dessert island disc records.

We recorded How Does IT Feel to Feel in LA with George in the end for Carnival Of Light and he also spent some great rehearsal time with us in our rehearsal rooms in Oxford when we were getting the songs together. We had all caught a strange sickness bug on the plane when we landed for the How Does It Feel recording sessions in LA so one by one thankfully after we had recorded the takes for How Does It Feel we all started dropping like flies and being sick. I then remember coming back to the studio when we had recovered and hearing the finished mixed takes and George had also put on some percussion and I was pretty blown away with his mix. Moonlight Medicine was then recorded at the legendary Sawmills Studios in Cornwall in England with John Leckie. I had written the song and had got it into pretty good shape so it was then just a case of playing it live as a band and getting that great take. I remember the Moonlight Medicine recording sessions very well and loved the feeling of recording that song together. The atmosphere was very smoky and that combined with the sawmills studio which sits next to a creek and estuary with the tidal waters flowing in and out of the creek which you could see out of the studio window which was the perfect place to record that song. It was a night time session which also fitted perfectly with the darkness of the song and I just remembered feeling totally lost in the music, sound and place. John Lord overdubbed his organ part at a later date at Abbey Road studios and along with the Tambora loop that I recorded separately for the track,  other than that the main track and instrumentation was all recorded through the night as a band live.

John was also a great guy to work with and also turned me on to some great music and albums during that session including the Dr John Gris Gris album and Alice Coltranes, Journey In Satchidananda album which again are total classics and I remember tripping out with him listening to these albums in the sawmills control room between Ride recording takes. John was a great vibe merchant who also understood the art of not overcooking and overdoing the work on the songs and with the people. Again we had spent time with John going over the tracks in rehearsals so we all knew what we were doing when we came to record them at the Sawmills which helped to make it a very enjoyable recording session. He also had a lot of random atmospheric sounds that he had recorded on his various world travels and some of them fitted very well as background atmospheric noise on tracks such as Birdman and before us for The Stone Roses “I wanna be Adored” intro.

Great Times !”

I’m interested in your expansion into experimental as well as incidental soundtrack music (Upside Down: The Story of Creation Records). What can we expect from your future solo work?

  ” Now I’ve got my studio up and running in Oxford  I’m a bit like the kid in the toyshop with lots of instruments , gear and sound sources so I think I’ll always keep the more experimental and hopefully interesting sounding music for future solo work and future soundtrack music work. I always wanted to get into soundtrack music as well as my solo and band work as I really enjoy playing different instruments and the challenge of making weird and wonderful sounds that sit and hopefully enhance the narrative and the vision of film. It’s been great to see the different reactions of people at various film festivals around the world in cinemas when they’ve been watching “Upside Down”. In a way when it’s right with soundtracks you don’t even notice them in the sense that you just feel yourself getting more involved in what you are watching and hearing. You are also never concerned with how you can play this music live as most of the time the music will not be played live so there are no restrictions.”

Any new bands you’ve come across that we should check out?

  “Well I’m off course biased with the bands I have been working with so do check out my recent mixing and production work on my site (www.markgardener.com) All are great !!!”

P&T