Logan Lynn premieres new live EP: Unpeeled: Exclusive

Portland-based musician Logan Lynn has announced a new 4 track live EP, Unpeeled, to be released January 31st on Banana Stand Records. This is a brand new format for the multifaceted Logan Lynn, who has never before released a live record/performance like this. Unpeeled also marks his debut with Portland’s Banana Stand Media, a staple of the Portland / Pacific Northwest that works to preserve the live sounds of the indie music scene.

Lynn, who is also a producer, filmmaker, mental health advocate, and LGBT activist, partnered with actor-comedian and podcaster turned producer friend Jay Mohr on 2018’s multi-media project My Movie Star which included a short film and a double album of new material featuring an eclectic and impressive mix of guest stars including The Dandy Warhols, Jerrid James, Rian Lewis, Tiffany and others. Here, as in 2016’s Adieu, Lynn’s music is incisive, clear and evocative, leaving no stone unturned in its quest for authentic expression and love. But in a departure from that record, Lynn no longer sounds isolated. My Movie Star invites more voices to the party.

Unpeeled features stripped-down versions of songs recorded for My Movie Star. The two songs we’re premiering make a perfect introduction to the four track release, as both offer simmering statements and heartfelt expression as they grapple with emotional place and health, and questions of trust: “Are you my movie star? (or are you my sorrow…)”

DISARM Magazine is pleased to offer this exclusive premiere of the first two videos, for the songs “Underground” and “My Movie Star”, recorded at Portland’s Classic Pianos, featuring GLASYS on piano.

Unpeeled: Logan Lynn – “Underground” from Banana Stand Media on Vimeo.

Unpeeled: Logan Lynn – “My Movie Star” from Banana Stand Media on Vimeo.

We can also reveal that the four tracks to be included are:

  1. Underground (Live)
  2. My Movie Star (Live)
  3. Like Before (Live)
  4. Big City Now (Live)

Look for this exciting new release on Friday, January 31st, 2020!

20 DISARMing Questions for Simon Berridge of Bromide

Bromide are a London-based Indie band comprised of Simon Berridge, Ed Lush, and Hugo Wilkinson with influences heavily rooted in Husker Du, Teenage Fanclub, The Replacements, Guided By Voices, and Dinosaur Jr.

The band’s sound has been described as “Grant Hart fronting Sebadoh” and “Elvis Costello fronting Dinosaur Jr.” Vive Le Rock noted that they mix “the best bits of The Lemonheads and Dinosaur Jr. replete with melancholic melodies and J Mascis-ish guitar lines”.

We sent vocalist and guitar player Simon Berridge our 20 DISARMing questions about music, art, travel, and existence in general.  This is what he shared with us.

Hi Simon. Congratulations on your new “Magic Coins” single, released through Scratchy Records and thank you for answering our questions.

What are you listening to right now?

Thank you and it’s “Back to the Middle” by Deerhunter. I love this track – and the video. I completely forgot about it then just found a link to it in an email I sent someone five years ago.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

It was a 45 bought for me by my mum I think – either the Carpenter’s “Jambalaya (on the bayou)” or The Glitter Band’s “Angel Face” – I just checked and both were released in March of ’74.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

Generally vinyl though I’m not a purist. I listen to a lot of stuff in the car on tape and my TDK SA90.  Recordings from stuff on both vinyl and cd sound pretty good!

What are your favourite bands?

Too many to list !! Probably Zep (Led Zeppelin), Hendrix, The Doors. That first wave of rock from ’65. First love is definitely The Beatles, then later all the 90s noisy pop stuff – Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Nirvana, Sugar, Guided By Voices. My fave singer is probably Mark Eitzel from American Music Club. More recently, there’s been Crystal Stilts, The Rocks…even got into The Fall.  At last!!

Why do you live where you do?

It was cheap (Woolwich, SE London) and because it’s near south-east London’s thriving music scene across Deptford/New Cross/Nunhead/Peckham/Brixton.

What is your favourite journey?

Probably a holiday road trip in the Capri – somewhere in Euroworld.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

No chores, no admin, no internet. Just a guitar…oh and Mark Eitzel’s Don’t Be A Stranger album around mid-morning. Obviously.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

I try and avoid planes. Oh to be on a tour bus on tour!!

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Bali. I went there a long time ago..will go back one day.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Well this is geared to someone regularly on tour and we’ve already established that ain’t me so…’PASS’

What inspired you to take up music?

I had no choice. I knew  at age 23 when I left full-time employment that even if I didn’t commit my life to music I’d still be wondering each day what it would’ve been like if i had made that commitment so…might as well just do it!

What was your most memorable day job?

I worked on the stock exchange for a couple of years before thoughts detailed above got in the way.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Don’t fucking leave the stock exchange you’ll never make any money out of music you idiot!!!!

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

Charles Bukowski and I doubt there’d be any eating…I just want to see how long I’d survive.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Philip Marlowe

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

Another hard one…though seeing the Stone Roses with 10 other people in 1988 in Camden was a stroke of luck.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

The Quietus, Penny Black, NME, Artrocker – when it used to be emailed out around 2003…to be honest I really miss the 90s NME / Melody Maker era. Where is that now? Where’s Mr. Agreeable ?!? Where’s the abuse!!!!

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

Most food.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

More gigs…record a solo record (the other two Bromides don’t like my new songs)…more tedious sales work for money (if either of my bosses are reading, that is completely untrue. I love you both and I love telesales).

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Yeah definitely meet them.  Why not?

Thank you for your time Simon.

Thank you!

You can find out more about Bromide and buy their music from their official website HERE.

21 DISARMing Questions for Beth Rettig of Where We Sleep

Beth Rettig was raised in Africa (Nigeria, Botswana and South Africa) and moved to the United Kingdom in 2000.  There she hooked up with Debbie Smith (Echobelly, Curve and SPC ECO) to form the band Blindness.  They had a solid run before playing their final live show in 2016.

Beth says “When Blindness ended – solely down to a change in my personal life – I didn’t know if I was going to write again. Where We Sleep is the result of discovering that you don’t know how not to make music”.

The 5-track debut EP, Experiments In The Dark, features a contribution from Debbie Smith on the track “Into The Light”.

We asked Beth 21 DISARMing questions about music, art, travel, and life as a musician.  This is what she shared with us.

Hi Beth. Congratulations on your new project Where We Sleep. It’s great to see you set to release your debut EP.

Hi Disarm. Thank you!

What are you listening to right now?

Pete International Airport – Safer With The Wolves

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The first one I remember buying (with Christmas money, I think) was Bad by Michael Jackson on cassette. That doesn’t seem so appropriate now. I had others, but I can’t remember what they all were and I guess they would all have been bought for me. I remember having the Mini-Pops when I was really young. Anyone else remember them? No? Just me, then.

Editors:  We remember!  🙂

Vinyl or CD/Digital?


What are your favourite bands?

There are so many and it’s always changing. But a few are Curve, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Stooges, Night Beats, Talking Heads. This is just bands. Not solo artists. I could go on.

Why do you live where you do?

London’s great. It can seem like quite a tough place at times but there’s so much going on – loads of events, be it music, art, theatre or whatever – and I know great people here. Once you’ve settled into London, it can be what you want it to be. You can get involved and do loads of stuff, or you can keep yourself to yourself.

What is your favourite journey?

The drive from Cape Town airport to my Dad’s house. The long, cramped flight is over and there is a shower and a cold beer or glass of great wine ahead, followed by a couple of weeks in the sun with good food, good wine and good company in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Pancakes, tea and records in the morning. The garden with a couple of gin and tonics and my book in the afternoon and later some writing on one of those days when the ideas keep flowing and you end up with something you’re excited about by the time you go to bed.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

The usuals – iPod (I still have one), book, paracetamol, lip salve, and a laptop, if I’m away for a while.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Costa Rica. It’s the top of my list of places I’d like to visit. I’d like to go to the reserves, hike up volcanoes and through the rain forests, stop over in the sloth sanctuary and then have some time on the Caribbean coast. And, if money isn’t an issue, then I’d like to see some more of Central and South America while I’m there. I’d particularly love to see the Nazca Lines.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Find out which area is the best for street art, head there and spend a few hours walking about with my headphones on looking for as much street art as I can find in the time I have.

What inspired you to take up music?

I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t interested in music. In my memory it just always seems to have been a main focus for me. I took piano lessons when I was really young and I guess I just took to it.

What was your most memorable day job?

I’ve tried to forget most of them.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

You’re a pale-skinned redhead growing up in a hot country. Wear sunscreen.

Editors: Baz Luhrmann would agree!

What should everyone shut up about?

How tired they are. Everyone’s tired. If it’s always that bad, see a doctor.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

There are so many. This seems like a bit of a cliche but I’m going to choose Nelson Mandela. He’s a hero of mine. I bet he was funny and charming and has to have, not just stories but, life lessons. For the menu, I’m going to keep things South African and go for a braai, because it’s such a great way to spend an afternoon, followed by a delicious malva pudding.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Special Agent Dale Cooper (The good one).

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

I’ve been to so many great gigs but I have to say Before The Dawn, the Kate Bush gigs a few years ago. She’s one of my favourite artists and I never thought I’d get to see her play live so it was always going to be special to me but it was sensational. The live album on vinyl is really great.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

I actually use YouTube a lot and for a lot of things – news, funny stuff, some music. The Guardian & The BBC for news. I also love reading the We Rate Dogs and Thoughts Of A Dog Twitter pages. I’m a bit boring online, really.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

This is a tough question. I don’t know about mind-altering but something that blew my mind a little was the Eiffel Tower (that counts as art, right?). You become so desensitized to it because you see it all the time so when I went to Paris, I obviously wanted to see it because it’s so iconic but I wasn’t that excited about it and it really stunned me when I saw it. Absolutely beautiful.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I’m not sure really. Get this EP out and get working on new stuff, mostly. I’m hoping to treat myself to a few days in New York with a friend – I’ve never been and am very excited about the idea of going. And hopefully enjoying some decent summer weather in London so I can spend plenty of afternoons drinking gin and tonic and reading in the garden.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Never meet your heroes. Not because I think they’d be assholes, but because I’m pretty sure I’d embarrass myself.

Thank you for your time Beth.

That was fun. Thank you!

Experiments In The Dark is available now on Bandcamp.  Go get it today!

21 DISARMing Questions for Andy Golding of The Wolfhounds / Dragon Welding

Andrew Golding, founding member of C86 pioneers The Wolfhounds, has debuted his
solo album under the moniker Dragon Welding, which is a clever anagram of his name.

The self-titled solo album features a rich blend of influences, the most obvious being The Wolfhounds and Moonshake, with nods to Neu! and Stereolab drone, and taps into various genres, including Alternative and Indie-folk.

Andy was kind enough to answer our DISARMing questions about music, art, and life in general.

Congratulations on your new project Dragon Welding and the release of your debut album through A Turntable Friend Records. We are looking forward to the next Wolfhounds album, which I hear is forthcoming in the next year or so.

What are you listening to right now?

Camera Obscura by Nico

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

It was a single by Jerry Lee Lewis “Chantilly Lace”. It was 5 pence from a box
outside a sweet shop.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?


What are your favorite bands?

When I need to reset, I always go back to Beefheart, The Shaggs and The Jimi
Hendrix Experience.

Why do you live where you do?

People all over the world pay a fortune to visit London. I get to see it every

What is your favorite journey?

I drove from Sydney to Brisbane a few years back. It would be hard to top

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Listening to BBC Radio 6 Music in the garden. Sunday is pretty much always spent
this way if I don’t have to go anywhere.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

iPad and USB charger.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

I’d drive around the world in a VW Camper Van.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Want to leave, usually.

What inspired you to take up music?

Listening to records was more fun that playing with toys. I wanted to know how
it worked.

What was your most memorable day job?

Picking the silver foil tops of off used milk bottles.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Youth is wasted on the young.

What should everyone shut up about?

Nothing. Shout as loud as you want.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

My wife, living, vegan.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Arthur Dent

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or

UK 2009 Nightmare Before Christmas – curated by My Bloody Valentine. This
event was held at Butlins holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset. It was the
weekend that made me decide that Wolfhounds should start to release new
material. The line-up was incredible: My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, De La
Soul, EPMD, Sun Ra Arkestra, The Horrors, Buzzcocks, Fucked Up, The
Pastels, A Place to Bury Strangers, J Mascis + The Fog, Bob Mould,
Swervedriver, Dirty Three, Primal Scream, Television Personalities, Yo La
Tengo, The Membranes, Josh T Pearson, That Petrol Emotion, Th’ Faith
Healers, Robin Guthrie and loads more.

Editors: What a lineup!  And Butlins, Minehead is home to one of our favourite festivals, Shiiine On Weekender.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

BBC News. I still trust that I can read between the lines easier than with any
other news outlets.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

Trout Mask Replica.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I will move to a new house, so it will either be exciting or disastrous.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or
never meet your heroes?

Always meet them, but then ignore them. At least you can say you were in
the same room as them. I sat next to John Peel once and never said a word.

Thank you for your time Andy!

Go get the debut album, Dragon Welding, from Bandcamp today!

We Were Promised Jetpacks Live at Lee’s Palace, Toronto

After an opening set by Swanes, Edinburgh Indie rockers, We Were Promised Jetpacks, hit the stage of Lee’s Palace in support of their fourth and latest release, The More I Sleep The Less I Dream.  The 4-piece played a healthy dose off the new album, which was well received by fans, many of whom spent their Saturday evening in a maelstrom mosh pit that formed in the centre of Lee’s from the opening song until the closer, despite its decidedly more mellow pacing than previous releases.

Front man Adam Thompson’s signature quiet-then-loud vocals were in excellent form as he deftly stepped back from the microphone and then inched forward to achieve the incredible crescendo never tearing his gaze away from the back of the room.  Michael Palmer and Sean Smith provided the near frenetic scream of guitar and bass throughout, and Darren Lackie’s impossibly frantic yet controlled drumming kept it all together.

Highlights of the evening include new songs “Hanging In”, its lyrical style and pacing reminiscent of Manic Street Preachers, and “Make It Easier”.  Before closing the night, Thompson thanked the Toronto crowd and explained there would be no encore, not because they weren’t grateful to the audience, rather they didn’t believe in doing them and instead choose to leave everything on the floor in one go.  The night ended with a ripping version of “Ships With Holes Will Sink” from 2009’s debut album These Four Walls, and “Repeating Patterns” from the new album.

Dave MacIntyre

Rusty Preview Their New Album Live at The Horseshoe

Checkerboard floors. A glittery red HORSESHOE sign that is shorthand for music itself, not to mention countless happy hours in Toronto for music lovers far and wide. A stage that has been stomped upon by the best across decades, from its deep, true tavern roots to the ascension of full-throttle Canadian rock and roll, woven together by Canadian folk and alt post rock cowpunk etcetera (and, nearest and dearest to us) waves of our own bright and shiny alternative scenes. By god, there’s now a discreet (believe it or not) A&W automatic ordering kiosk next to the mile-long main bar, not far from a cookbook of Elvis’ favourite dishes. This is how you do it, Toronto. Change nothing unless it’s to add some late-night food to a classic experience. Don’t gentrify. Don’t sell out, man. Thank you, Horseshoe for still existing. It’s Saturday night in Toronto. Summer has just landed in our laps this week and it’s a cooker of an evening. Our very own early 90s wall of noise-smart alternative heroes, Rusty, are here, leading the charge, as if to personally support our deep, years long dream for this music that saved the world once to do so again. As our beloved “90s bands” have reformed around the world, more people are recognizing the demand (and need) for authenticity, heart, rawness, and analog truth, A.K.A. real music. Superheroes everywhere have been coming out of retirement. Some heroes fly Porter airways from Sudbury.

And so, Rusty’s great return is happening, though what should not be unusual and special, is today: community effort. Community sensibilities. And stadium love. Rusty is at home at the ‘Shoe, and it eases everything tonight. It’s the first time they’re playing music from their upcoming new album in public, and it feels as intimate as what those Much “Intimate and Interactives” of another age strived for. We were too cool to line up with kids to see visiting rock stars, then. And we sure thought such things would continue to be. Now, there’s only Strombo’s living room keeping such flames alive (beautifully). Music devotees with long-running podcasts and indie magazines. The true blue. Those who know are here in this room and are always in the room when Rusty plays a gig. And this room feels, tonight, like someone’s living room. The band is working out their set list as they go, getting comfortable, hilariously carefree, or, maybe, laughing like champs through the creation-in-process that is new music. Canadians will laugh through any kind of stress and entertain you while we sweat it out.

The band starts with some beloved tunes from Fluke, all of them seemingly itchy to play the new stuff, and, happily, the crowd is the right kind, eager for both. This crowd and this band are not nostalgic, anymore. Some of the songs are not finished, we are told. For one, we get a terrific “excerpt”. Guitarist Scott McCullough declares, grinning “Let’s just play every damn song on the fuckin’ album!” Singer Ken MacNeil watches the faces, warming up. He says the new songs make them feel young. The old songs make them feel old. “We know we’re old, though…” Once the new songs are given air and the crowd is rolling with them, Ken relaxes into the early material again, in his element, the years falling away from all of our faces and hearts, forever young. This is the great power of music.

It’s the best Rusty show we’ve ever seen, including when we were young and life was simpler. And it’s half-full of tunes we’ve never heard before, along with the rest we know by heart. “California” still (and forever) will break your heart with its poignancy. Its prescience. It’s urgency and its grief for humanity’s brutality and chaos. “Wake Me” is forever a love song to us who choose to interpret the lyrics innocently “will you pull my cuff?” means just your 90s’ frayed long-sleeve t-shirt sleeve. It is a beautiful bit of poetry. If I fall asleep. If I fall awake. It’s still (forever) “so groovy to be dead” because goddamn it, we are still standing, thanks to pure grit and hard graft. On both sides of the stage. There’s no pretension with Rusty, just pure rock and roll. And that is as important of a message today as any other. Many of the boys in the room lose their shit to the show’s closer, the one we heard the most, maybe, on the radio and Much when those things were alive / glorious: “Misogyny”. This band always had something for both the boys and the girls. Something unifying, something powerful and, as it turns out, unkillable.

The onstage banter tonight is hilarious. Rusty are real, and they are the real deal. They rock. Jesus, why weren’t they Canada’s own Cult? As big as? They are that good. They are better. We whisper to one another, staying mostly quiet as we’re front row. None of that. No regrets tonight. Tonight is tonight and the past is gone. This music is timeless and beautiful and here, current, alive, and as good as ever – by contrast to what rules the charts, our music was and is and will always be Godzilla over a miniaturized, toy-like Tokyo. Whatever. We’re glad we know better, we were there in the 1990s and we are all still here now. And aren’t we lucky to still be alive / here? For so many reasons. And this is, even, the future. This is the first new record in 20 years from this always should have been world-beaters iconic immense band. They’ve gone and done it. They’ve done it the new old way and the new way, through technology. Their Pledge campaign has served to remind fans and the industry what’s important and what can be done with a little support for musicians. We hope the industry is listening. The Toronto scene, the other Canadian scenes. The title has changed, and will be revealed soon. Whatever they call it, it’s incredible, fast, punky, rocking, young again, fresh. It fits, hand in glove, with the songs we’ve all been singing word for word for years and years. It’s important, it’s actually intimate and interactive, and it’s news. Get on it.

Jacqueline Howell

Photos: Dave MacIntyre

Premiere of The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days by Winterlight

The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days is the second album from Plymouth Shoegaze / electronic project Winterlight. The project was originally a solo endeavor started by Tim Ingham back in the mid-oughts but now sees his daughter Isabel taking on bass guitar duties.

This new album is the culmination of nearly seven years of on and off creative spurts, false starts, and second guesses reflecting the turmoil hinted at in the album’s title. Yet those that follow Winterlight know Tim’s been making music pretty much all along and releasing occasional demos via his SoundCloud page. This lengthy process has yielded one resounding result: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days has all the Winterlight earmarks: divine organs, thoughtfully constructed drums, the occasional electronic flourish, and immaculately soaring guitars. While Ingham considers Winterlight to be Post-Pop, and for the most part the duo still brings those melodies to the table in spades, there are some unique changes happening under the surface in the album’s bookends that move way beyond simple ear candy. This shows The Inghams are starting to take risks while still staying true to the original vision for the project.

The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days is out March 16th on CD, 180 gram Transparent Green vinyl, and 180 gram ultra clear with green splatter vinyl.  You can pre-order the record HERE.

But if you’re anxious to hear the new music before it’s officially released, you can get an exclusive listen of the album here first!

Wolf Alice Live at The Danforth Music Hall

London 4-piece Wolf Alice visited Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on Friday night and delivered an inspired set of infectious alternative rock.  The band have been touring in support of their critically-acclaimed September 2017 release of Visions Of A Life.

Dave MacIntyre

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers – We Are Millionaires

As the summer turns and the shadows begin to lengthen, the soundtrack to the approaching autumn has already arrived. We Are Millionaires is the second offering from former Adorable mainman Pete Fij and Terry Bickers, the highly-rated guitarist of The House Of Love. The sleeve of the record says everything, a trail of rusting cars abandoned in a forest: a symbol of decay amid a backdrop of beauty. For this represents life for the duo, who once were on the brink of stardom before they crashed under the intensity of its particularly unsettling light. Nothing is without blemish, nothing endures. Their experiences of the music business have left Pete and Terry harbouring an obsession with failure, with might-have-beens, where melancholia is a constant companion, almost comforting in its intimacy. What soundtrack, then, could be better to lead you into the season of decay and the failing of the light? Of course there is re-birth and new life in the spring, but autumn always follows, and all things fade away. This is how it sounds.

The album follows on from 2014’s Broken Heart Surgery, a gloriously maudlin collection of downbeat ballads that marked Pete’s return to the music scene for the first time since Polak split in 2002. A move to the Sussex coast had seen the singer-guitarist record a solo album in 2004, but the tapes of this were buried in a kitchen drawer for many years until the recruitment of Terry, who was residing in Brighton, gave him the enthusiasm to resurrect the songs, record them as a duo, and finally release them into the community.

“I was in Adorable then Polak and when I’d finished with Polak I decided that I wanted to do something different. I got fed up. Polak was very labour-intensive in the studio. We used to go to the studio and spend days and days there, I mean weeks. Rather than getting things done in the rehearsal room, lots of the songs were written in the recording studio. But then I wanted to have a release from that. I just wanted to do something that was straight, free and easy and recorded really simply with all the flaws still in it, not over-polished with a gazillion overdubs. So I recorded this acoustic album. Then I finished it, really liked it, but just didn’t play it to anyone. I didn’t send it out, I just didn’t do anything and every New Year I kind of went, “Right, this year I’m going to send it out or I’m going to release it.” And I never got around to it. I just sat on it for years. I mean ‘Betty Ford’, when it was originally written, was called ‘Rehab’ and when Amy Winehouse brought out her single I changed it, that’s how old that track is. It’s pre-Amy Winehouse. About seven of the songs from the solo album are on Broken Heart Surgery in some shape or form. ‘Betty Ford’, was barely changed, but others were reworked and reshaped. ‘Downsizing’ was originally in a different form and that has been changed quite a bit.”

A Pledge campaign, the success of which surprised the duo who barely register on the optimism scale, saw Broken Heart Surgery released to extremely positive reviews. Delightfully dark, its misery tempered by irresistible wit, overflowing talent and some sublime guitar playing, it was always going to be a hard act to follow, but We Are Millionaires succeeds on every level. There’s more meat on the bones of the nine tracks, both musicians adding some welcome bass lines, while the songs flow into
more divergent channels with plenty of melodic twists and a greater depth of vocal harmony. It’s an exceptionally smooth-sounding record, almost refined, with Pete singing beautifully and Terry adding some astonishing guitar parts, all the more telling for their general brevity. And though most of the songs for the first album were already there to be adapted, Pete had no problem in coming up with new numbers for the follow-up, with the bonus being that Terry was on hand to help mould the songs
from the onset.

Fij and Bickers. Photo by Guy Christie.

“The songs came pretty easily. My head is like a giant notebook with lots of notes and scribblings in it, and I had quite a few songs logged up there written without having to pick up a guitar. It’s the way I seem to work these days, often writing without an instrument. There’s only space for a limited number of songs up there, though, so when it reaches about five or six I seem to stop writing until I have recorded one of them thus freeing up precious memory space. The songs were still written in much the same way. The chord structures and backbone of the song is written by me, pretty much complete, and I then present the songs to Terry who adds his parts, and also makes arrangement suggestions. I suppose the difference this time is that he was on board a lot earlier in the songwriting process – these songs hadn’t been demoed as such – whilst the previous album had been recorded once which meant the structures ended up a little more cemented in place. This album is more expansive and definitely Terry’s input is a large part of that. I think he has more scope and freedom on this album, and maybe subconsciously when I was writing the songs I was thinking of leaving space for Terry, whereas the previous album was largely written prior to Terry being on board. Seeing someone else’s perspective on a track is really interesting.”

The new album opens with ‘Let’s Get Lost Together’, a song that dwells on the relationship between the two musicians. It’s affectionate and witty, and in scope mirrors closely the sound of Broken Heart Surgery thus making it an excellent bridge between the two records.

“There’s a genuine friendship between us which is very rewarding. I love Terry, and find him exasperating and exhilarating in equal measure, and I sense the feeling is mutual. I wanted ‘Lets Get Lost’ to be a bit like ‘Jackson’ by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra – where they diss each other but underneath the squabbling you realise there’s a love between them, and to me it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of our relationship. It was written because there was a documentary being made about us (Various Songs, 2014) that as it was being filmed we sensed was missing a rather crucial point about us. So I wrote the song to explain our relationship and offered it to the director for what I thought would be an interesting angle – a song explaining the relationship between the two people in the film. Tellingly he just ignored it and made a film that was so dull, unfocused and missing the point of what we were about that we disowned it. I was interested in having a song that had two males having a ‘bromantic’ moment. I couldn’t really think of anyone else who had done that. We are very different people, and work in different ways, but we’ve learned to deal with each other’s quirks. I quite enjoy the singularity and purity of a duo: there is only us two to hone and discuss the music, and there’s no band politics to work through.”

The whole tone of the album then expands with ‘If The World Is All We Have’, which explores new depths, emerging rather like a downbeat Bond theme from the Connery era. But the track has more sinister roots.

“This was written as an out-and-out pop song, not for Bickers & Fij, but originally with the idea of entering it into Eurovision with a female vocal and a far more uptempo electronic backing. It was maybe Depeche Mode meets Madonna, with a nod to John Barry. I revisited it with Terry and we changed a few elements, slowed it down, emptied it out and did a little re-write on the vocals and it took a character and life of its own. I see a lot of our songs as pop songs hiding under a veneer of melancholy. I have a love of Eurovision. I know lots of people are snidey about it, but it’s fascinating to see how each country approaches it every year. Yes it’s kitsch, and yes there can be a lot of power ballads, but there’s a real art to getting a song that sounds interesting, catchy but not too throwaway all within a three-minute framework. Belgium’s entry this year wouldn’t be out of place on 6 Music’s playlist. Radiohead, Morrissey and New Order have all sounded off in the past how they are going to enter, but they are all mouth and no Eurovision trousers which kind of pisses me off. Actually I don’t think Radiohead or New Order are right for it, but Mozza could pull it off – as could Jarvis. I’m not the right kind of artist either but I’d love to write an entry. I’ll keep plugging away, but you have to find an artist to front your song and it’s not easy.”

As the mind boggles, ‘Love’s Going To Get You’ shows Pete’s voice dominate; surely this is one of his best ever vocals? There’s a real retro pop sound to this, with its resonating keyboard sound and one of his most obviously tongue-in-cheek lyrics including a surprise “OMG” from the literary sophisticate.

“We originally recorded a couple of songs with a full band sound and this was one of them (along with ‘Let’s Get Lost’). It sounded very polished and professional, a bit Elbowish maybe, but wasn’t floating our boat, so we went back to a more stripped down sound with little or no percussion and only some bass here and there. This track has a kind of ‘dream pop’ vibe to it – Melody’s Echo Chamber ‘I Follow You’ was a reference point. I like to think my songs have a sense of humour. Without it the downbeat elements would be relentless. Actually a lot of what people think are keyboards on the album are either Terry’s guitars or our backing vocals put through various effects. I want to form an OMD tribute
band called OMG!”

‘We Are Millionaires’ takes a wry look at the duo’s career, gently feedbacking for half a minute before the song is finally shaken awake, though it seldom breaks out of its resigned torpor, the sound of a life support machine working at reduced power. Terry’s guitars are gloriously anaesthetised, his vocal harmonies barely conscious. As he narrates, Pete wonders whether even success would break the grip of melancholy that holds the duo firmly in its grasp.

“Success is relative – my ultimate aim would be to make my living out of making music, which sadly I currently don’t. My driver is that making music is my creative outlet, and to a certain extent it’s what I feel I have to do. I wish I could just sit on the sofa and watch all these box set TV programmes on Amazon Prime that everyone raves on about, but I just don’t have time. Music is a blessing and a curse.”

‘Waking Up’ then bursts into life with poppy enthusiasm before settling down with slight
embarrassment. The lyrics stand out for their positivity, a rarity in the duo’s music, though the song concludes with Pete singing, “It’s been a long, long winter” for nearly a minute. It’s a hint at emerging into the light, but it’s more of a dream than a statement of fact.

“I’m not sure I have emerged from a long, long winter but it doesn’t mean I can’t write about that idea. We all need some hope to cling to! I made a decision to try to write some more positive songs after Broken Heart Surgery. It isn’t my default setting, and inevitably the idea kind of went off course, so even in a song which has a bright positivity about what lies ahead, it ends up with repeated coda talking about the dark past that is behind.”

‘Marie Celeste’ again clings to the idea of positivity, the song lapping at the shore like a summer sea. It’s a pure love song, but again it is the thought that attracts the singer more than a real situation.

“ ‘Mary Celeste’ is more of an ideal I think than a real person. In some ways this is one of the most ‘pop’ lyrics I have written in the last ten years. It’s a rare thing in my writing of late – a love song, without a twist.”

But as soon as the light has appeared, the duo snuff it out with the forlorn ‘Over You’, where love is once again a purely damaging concept. “I know I have to face the facts that you are never coming back, and it’s over…” Eight and a half minutes of happiness is your lot with Fij and Bickers, though the smiles return on the brilliantly mournful ‘I Love You’ which opens, “I’ve been waiting for a train that will never come…”

“This was an attempt to be positive. I started off with a positive title, and had pretty much failed by the end of the first line…”

Terry Bickers. Photo by Guy Christie.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter, Pete and Terry have an inability to escape the darkness that constantly threatens to overwhelm them. Album closer ‘Sometime Soon’ is almost a plea for redemption, casting a longing look at a future where genuine happiness dwells. You cannot escape the feeling that this is what Pete is really searching for.

“Yes, it is. I had a particularly bad year in 2015 when we started writing and recording this album. I had to quit my beloved second hand bookstall after twenty years of a lovely work life, and ended up in a nightmare job. My dad was bed-ridden, dying slowly of cancer. I met a friend who was going through a similar bad time and they said something that echoed my feelings – there was that hope and belief that sometime soon things were going to change. We need to cling to this hope even when it seems forlorn, and it feels like you’re in a very, very dark tunnel. I came out the other side, as did my friend. There are more tunnels, but hopefully not as dark as that one in 2015.”

It’s a sombre conclusion to a record that can tug at your emotions whilst still making you smile through its nicely balanced wit and helpless charm. There are flickers of light here, but you have to wonder whether they are the first glimpses of the dawn or sparks from the accelerant that will burn your house to ashes. There’s no doubt that Pete was looking for more positivity in this album, but only he can make positivity sound like regret, and only Terry can frame his words with the saddest guitars you have ever heard. Don’t come here for salvation, it doesn’t live here, but if you like your music to be intelligent and beautifully dressed Fij & Bickers always deliver.

We Are Millionaires can be purchased from www.petefijterrybickers.com

Adam Hammond

Bestival Toronto Day One: Bad Weather is Banished and Families are Welcome


Bestival Toronto returned for its second year in the city in a new home, Woodbine Park in Toronto’s east end. A big change from Hanlan’s Point of last year, the move eased logistical issues that the Island always brings and offered new ways to showcase all of  Bestival’s unique and special offerings which exist both on and off their stages (and tents).

The  new site was utilized very well, including the placement of the all-important I love Bestival sign above a perfect hilltop viewing area for those who like their crowd scenes slower and more comfy, with full view of the main stage and most of the main food & bev areas. Returning Bestival-ers got to have the warm fuzzies seeing the iconic Bollywood tent and the special homey touches that Bestival is known for. This festival is singularly great among those in the area in recent years, leading the charge in putting attendee experience first, from walkability to seating areas (that go far beyond picnic tables or VIP-only offerings of other events in town.) This is not an ad, but a real observation from someone who loves the little details and furniture and has spent years carrying around various versions of a blanket/raincoat/etc.

There was an intimacy to the new setting that was interesting and made for great conversation and people watching. Families came with children decked out in their protective ear covers, and all seemed to enjoy the open spaces, relaxed vibes and hot, beautiful weather. The now-customary strong variety of food trucks was present, and we decided to stick to cool cider and a chicken burrito along with water. Stages were a quick hop making the circuit easy to map and cover, and along the way to the Inflatable Church and the Bollywood Stage sprung up the Summer of Love Costume Party & Parade full of unicorns and musicians and followed by a surprising and beautiful pooch (on staff) riding in a golf cart. And that was all before 6:00 p.m.

With Rob da Bank, Maddmon, Smalltown DJs, Thugli, 4B, Giraffage, Shaun Frank, Madeon, Porter Robinson, Elliot Vincent Jones, Rationale, Swim Deep, Jamie XX, Odesza, Tame Impala.

Plus, all the beautiful people, one beautiful dog, the most beautiful handmade headdress of all, a moose-icorn? A lovely dancer we think outta go by Bust A Move, new friends, the most chilled out tent ever to be staked in this city (complete with twinkly chandelier) the most delightful green apple glasses filled with Jim Beam bourbon, sun, and even the Isle of Wight made an appearance.

Day two artist gallery /write up to follow.
With thanks to Bestival Toronto and all the featured artists and the people.

Words by Jacqueline Howell.  Photos by Dave MacIntyre

Rob da Bank, Tame Impala, Jamie XX, Odesza

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