Highest Symbol – New Solo Music and Interview with Iwan Gronow

Iwan Gronow, the singer-songwriter and bass player from bands such as The Mutineers, Haven, and Johnny Marr, has today released his 3rd single as a solo artist called “Highest Symbol”.

Iwan had this to say about the new song.

“Highest Symbol is a term used in cards. I never set out to write a song about the issues of gambling.

It happened by accident. Some time ago I watched a program which stuck with me. A story about a man who had a stable career and family and lost it all to gambling. It was something I couldn’t get out of my head. Highest Symbol is about the dominance of betting and gambling within our society. Whether it’s online, at the bookies or casino gambling “there’s no sense in lining your pockets green, it won’t stop the lying and the running fees”. It approaches the false hope “sea of dreams” the loss “you left and failed to mention what threw you out” and the danger “roulette a sense to rush” fuelled by gambling.
The Highest Symbol video directed by Emily Jade Hagan tries to capture this sense of undeniable risk, loss and loneliness. We tried to show how everything can quickly disappear, how a past life can turn to a distant memory “The Highest Symbol, Highest Symbol will save the urge, will save the urge. The Highest Symbol, highest symbol will fade and burn, will fade and burn”.

With the release of the new song, we took the opportunity to ask Iwan our DISARMing questions about his music, art, travel, and life in general.

So check out the new song and read the interview while you listen.

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

Iwan: Jehnny Beth, Warmduscher, Nadine Shah, Anna Calvi, BC Camplight, and She Drew The Gun

What was the first LP/tape/CD/MP3 you can remember owning, buying, or obsessing over?

My dad use to make Blues and Rock cassettes of artists such as J. J. Cale, Robert Cray, Hendrix, and Clapton. That really got me into the guitar. The first tape I bought was very heavy. I’m not going to pretend to be cool, but it would have been a band like Slayer or Sepultura, Ha!  I grew up in Cornwall and metal was very popular around that time.    

Are you loyal to vinyl or CD/Digital formats?

Recently I found all my CDs in the cellar. I cleaned them up and put them back on the shelf. I try to buy vinyl when I can. My dad has very kindly let me borrow some of his collection. I go through phases of books and vinyl. It depends if we’re gigging or I’m writing. That side of music takes up most of my time.

What bands are hardwired into your musical DNA?

In the Haven days, we were heavily into Velvet Underground, Skip Spence, Stooges and Peter Green. So I guess they have really stuck with me. 

Why do you live where you do? What is your favourite journey?

The late great Joe Moss is the reason I am where I am. We threw everything we had into a van and turned up at his doorstep. Joe kindly let the whole band (Haven) stay in his house until we got sorted. I think he was slightly gutted as it meant his trips to Cornwall would be less often, ha! He loved Cornwall.

My favourite journey is when my wife and I get the chance to go back to Cornwall and see the family. My dream trip would be New Zealand. We were lucky enough to tour there with Johnny. It’s a great place to run; it would be good to go back. South America is ace as well, especially the gigs. Great crowds. 

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Going for a long walk, catching a film, reading and playing my acoustic.

What is essential for your go-bag (plane/train/automobile/tour bus)?

Headphones, iPod, book, toothbrush, ear plugs, eye mask, chargers and passport.

What do you do with 4 hours of free time in a new city?

Go for a run as I think that’s the best way to see a new city and find your bearings, although I generally get lost, ha! Go for food with our tour group.  If we’re near water, I head straight to it and spend time there, sometimes even go in. Doviak and I did that a couple of times on the last American tour. Always feel better by the sea.

Who/what got you into playing music?

My dad was a singer in a punk band called The Wolfboys. They were signed to Rocket Records so there was always guitars and vinyl around the house. From a young age I was really intrigued by the guitar.

What was your most memorable day job?

I use to work at a fish and chip shop in St. Just in Cornwall. My job title was ‘fish boy’. My friends had fun with that one. Think my pay was £1.50 an hour.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

That’s a tough one. I try my best not to have regrets as it can have a negative affect and I try to learn from situations that may not have turned out how I wanted.

What should everyone shut up about?

It would have been the ‘B Word’ (editors: Brexit) but that’s kind of done now, which is something I’m very sad about. Personally I will always see myself as European.

What is getting under your skin at the moment?

We are at present in very unsettling times. My pet peeve would be people that don’t listen to expert advice, especially health advice. The NHS need us more than ever and we should be doing everything we can to support them.

Who are your perfect dinner guests, living or dead? What’s on the menu?

Would love to have dinner with the late great Arthur Lee (Love) and Iggy. I would cook a veggie roast, ply them with wine and get as many Rock and Roll stories out of them as I could.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Miss Havisham from the Charles Dickens book Great Expectations, I studied in college. She was super dark. My favourite quote of hers is “Break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!” I always felt there was a bit of humour there which I liked.

Tell us about one of the best live gigs you’ve ever attended.

Recently we played the Rock En Seine Festival. The Cure headlined I was blown away by them especially Robert Smith, his voice was flawless.

What are your must-reads?

I mainly stick with books. David Bowie – a life by Dylan Jones, Salt Path by Raynor Winn. At the moment I’m reading The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather. Johnny also got me into the writer Yuval Noah Harari. For light relief, I really like the Off Menu Podcast by Ed Gamble and James Acaster.

What’s something that you consider a mind-altering/reality-reframing work of art?

Anything by Joan Miro. Me and my wife went to the Miro Exhibition in Barcelona; mind blowing. I also like Wassily Kandinsky’s work. Upward is a particular favourite. 

What does the next six months look like for you?

Unfortunately due to recent events, our touring and festival schedule has thinned out. Right now people’s safety is far more important. We are booked into to play with ‘The Killers’ in the U.S. in August. Until then, I will be mostly writing and preparing for the single release on the 10th of April.

Editors:  Fingers crossed we’ll see you at the Toronto date with the Killers!

It’s been said about musical or film icons: “Never meet your heroes.” Agree or disagree?

I would say go for it. What have you got to lose?

Thanks Iwan!

An Interview with Zoë Howe, Music Writer and Author of Upcoming Novel, Shine On, Marquee Moon

As a mostly music site, Zoë Howe’s work and voice in music journalism has been an inspiration and served as a guide since before the magazine’s founding in early 2015. The Jesus and Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses was our entry point to this writer’s work and it was, for us, revelatory. Howe never does the same thing twice even if her recent work can be loosely defined as rock music biographies. From bios of up and coming artists (Florence + the Machine), to the cultural analysis of How’s Your Dad? Living in the Shadow of a Rock Star Parent, to fearlessly treading into the subject of Stevie Nicks’ image, art & life (here, Howe does no less than say something new and relevant about a larger-than-life rock star who has been, yet, underestimated and prone to being misunderstood). Howe’s cracking book about Nicks gives insights to music and songwriting and, for the hungry, for the curious, writes a primer of something equally mysterious: how to be a music journalist in the wild west of today.

Howe’s books have been celebrated by the literary and music worlds, and have decidedly opened up a new type of channel for music writing and biography in the wake of the changing definitions of media through a gifted, unique viewpoint, wit and a way with people. The Jesus and Mary Chain have forever been reclusive and misunderstood artists, very important musicians emerging out of an impossible little place in Scotland who’d been cast in amber by some early zealous showmanship of their manager and a few repeated quotes and interviews surfacing online, a place that tends to favour the churn of disconnected images and illegal Youtube videos over nuance at the moment. Online trends, clickbait and imagery/style over substance threatens the already fraught truth of great musicians, their meaning and their music. Bands are no longer allowed to be quiet, mysterious, or ask us to focus on just their music. Either they must tweet and tolerate the social media coliseum or a silly meme will be made of them around one beautifully messy interview from decades ago.

Cutting through all of this, Howe’s 2013 book Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story changed the narrative and cut through the noise of social media like a perfectly discordant, piercing note the Reids might make just to see if you are paying attention and are tough enough to stand by the speakers. This biography and history of the band is not only as cool as the most impossibly cool band of the modern age it discusses, it also serves very well to tell a lot about Creation Records’ early history, including first hand interviews with Alan McGee, Joe Foster and all the early JAMC band members (with one Reid brother declining direct participation in new interviews). Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream an early JAMC member, is so entertaining in his quotes that it becomes a very funny biography of him, too. The book unfolds like the best movie, as the notorious, the legendary, the disastrous and the noteworthy, and all those beautiful noises, are given new perspectives and new polish. This writer approached this book with music and journalistic cred firmly in hand, and all involved seem to know it and welcome a chance to revisit their shared, fascinating history. Not long after, The Jesus and Mary Chain returned to the road for a successful 30th reunion tour. Zoë Howe’s books are must reading for musicians, journalists needing a bit of inspiration and music lovers.

With Howe’s most recent biography, the writer went even deeper, to much deserved acclaim on both the literary circuit and the music world, having created a new form of “psychogeographic” rock biography writing that is positively cinematic. Lee Brilleaux: Rock n’ Roll Gentleman is a deeply insightful and vivid portrait of the Dr. Feelgood frontman, a collage of personal and family memories & ephemera, journalistic research, and interviews with key collaborators who knew Brilleaux best. It’s a riveting, lively read that is the the sort of dedication so many artists deserve but too few get. And it represents the holy grail of biography, an area of literature that contains potential for discovery. It’s just a tremendous book that can be read and highly enjoyed by casual fans or even newcomers to a subject who might happen to come across it and be drawn to its cover.

Howe has now written her first work of fiction, stepping away from being the well-versed observer of the dynamics of rock stars and industry players and applying that lens inward in a move that seems well-timed at this stage of her writing career. With Shine On, Marquee Moon, (shortlisted for the Virgina Prize for Fiction 2016), Howe opens her own box of treasures rather than digging through archives, and takes the musicality and wit of her biographical histories to a new but equally alive plane, beginning with the touchstone 1977 Television record, Marquee Moon. Memory, humour, love, art, and talent (and what we do with all of this) converge to create characters that live as vividly as the shimmering talents that Howe has written about in music. Outside of the manufactured glow of the stage lights (and, to be sure, the real magic that rock stars possess) are the stories of those who make them possible, hold them together, those seamstresses for the band like Sylvie who are every bit as interesting as the men who are typically center stage. As Shine On, Marquee Moon foregrounds this point of view, and reveals the layers of complications of the world offstage, of the truth of the all access badge. Here are the artists that inspire the artists we think we know. This is a world in which the author has both intimate and broad knowledge, one in which she’s written and observed and lived and traveled and, equally as important, has imagined and spun from years of reading reams of clippings, seeing gigs and experiencing music as a fan, too. It seems an utterly perfect fit and a timely evolution for one of music writing’s brightest sparks who misses nothing, is trusted, and deals in truths and love of rock and roll; never toxic or dull gossip.

Zoë made time in the final weeks of final book launch preparation (including recording the work for an audio book version) to answer some questions for Disarm.

Disarm: What can you tell us about your upcoming novel, Shine On, Marquee Moon?

Zoë Howe: It’s a rock ’n’ roll love story with a satirical twist. It’s not a book about Television, although the album Marquee Moon provides a kind of backdrop – originally I wanted to pepper the book with lyrics which pertained to different moments in the book, so the album would be a kind of Greek chorus commenting on the various goings-on, but the clearance was tooooo expensive, so that was that! But basically the album is very special, almost talismanic, to two of the main characters in the story, as it is to me.

We’ve got this slightly bohemian female protagonist called Sylvie who works with an ageing New Romantic band who are having a renaissance, so it’s sort of all based around being on the road, and the hot-house nature of that life, and the ridiculousness of it, the extremes, the weirdness, the dark corners, the trousers etc.

Incidentally, our Sylvie is absolutely NOT star-struck. They’re kind of equals in the sense in that they’re all creatives in different ways and they’re all just part of this machine that’s rolling along. There’s no fan-worship, ‘I’m not worthy’ bollocks from Sylvie, so through her eyes you get to see the characters for who they are – not gods, but a collection of rather eccentric, slightly silly, rather egotistical and in some cases very damaged human beings. But they’re all very lovable too, or at least I think so! My threshold for maniacs may be a little lower than most, mind.

We’ve followed your work as a music writer/biographer and now as you prepare to publish your first novel (congratulations!) What were the first records you remember loving or buying for yourself?

Thanks! Too many to mention. When I was very young – like five – I practically buried myself in my dad’s prodigious record collection so I was very fortunate to be surrounded by some seriously good stuff (lots of blues, rock ’n’ roll, odd Latin American stuff – a real mix – I picked and chose what worked for me and what didn’t and it set me up for life.) The first record I bought for myself was Falco – ‘Rock Me Amadeus’. I still have it. I’m not ashamed.

Who or what inspired you to take up writing?

I was always quite good at it at school, and I loved writing silly stories and poems at home, weird pantomimes and parodies of Mills and Boon books and that kind of thing, When I was a kid I also made a series of surreal magazines called ’The Wally Magazine’, while my first ‘book’ was about bottoms, written and illustrated in red biro, stapled together and placed surreptitiously in the local bookshop. But it wasn’t until my mid-20s that it occurred to me to try and make a go of it properly. I found when I started writing I enjoyed the fact I could come up with my own ideas and have more control over what I was doing and, essentially, be a bit more creative and autonomous. It was kind of a revelation. Got there in the end! I wouldn’t change a thing though. Well, not many things. Wish I still had the Bottom Book though.

What are your current preoccupations?

I went vegan a few months ago, so a decent amount of time is spent on the drinking of lemon tea and the finding of and eating of Quorn. Also, reading, writing, listening to records, usual stuff. I make lots of collages. I’m properly into herbalism as well, and am, as you know, Jacquie, a bit witchy.

How do you spoil yourself?

I go to the beach near our flat as often as I can, generally in the evenings when all the other bastards have gone home, and am filled with love for all of mankind.

What is your favourite era of music?

That’s impossible to answer! I listen to music from the 1920s up until now-ish, but I guess my first love would have been 1970s rock, like Led Zep and The Who, so I’ll always have a fondness for that era.

What is your favourite journey?

I heart LA. I went for the first time a few years ago on our last holiday. I never realised I’d fall in love with it so hard. Dylan (my husband) and I would go back there in a heartbeat. Stay up in the hills for a bit, and then scoot down to the Malibu Colony or Paradise Cove.

What was the last great movie or TV show you saw?

My husband and I have just finished gorging ourselves on the classic 1980s Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett. I loved it at the time and it is just ageless and so classy. There are about nine million episodes and only one or two slightly dud ones. Not a bad strike rate, my dear Watson.

What is your most treasured tool or instrument?

ZH: I’d love to say ‘my Mother of Pearl quill’ or ‘my Peruvian drinking hat’, but sadly no, just my dear old MacBook Air.

SO: What is your favourite curse word or the phrase you overuse the most?

Swear-wise, there’s a craze for some really inventive swearing at the moment, but personally you can keep your fuckspanglers, cockjumblers, wankbobbidees and arsebufferters – I’m an old-fashioned girl and the classics suit me fine.

Will Pop eat itself?

t’s been doing so for years, but that’s ok.

Who is the most underrated band or what is the most underrated album?

Too many underrated artists, but the one who springs to mind is Mickey Jupp, and his band Legend’s classic Red Boot album. Juppy, originally from Southend, has the most soulful voice and he has written some absolute stunners. His guitarist Mo Witham is a class act too. ‘Lorraine’ is a beauty from Red Boot, a gorgeous love song, but slightly cracked. It’s romantic and heartfelt but underscored with these slightly mean, urgent guitar stabs. It’s got it all, has ‘Lorraine’. It’s a love song but kind of tough and real. Very Essex, natch.

Can you describe for our readers some of your favourite foot furniture (or recent acquisitions?) Would you ever open your closet for a tour of your bohemian wardrobe?

Ha! Foot furniture – phrase courtesy of the wonderful Dr Feelgood frontman Lee Brilleaux, I believe! As for my own favourites, I think I probably take shoes slightly less seriously than Brilleaux did. I can’t really think of any of my favourite shoes off the top of my head.

Of course, I’d be happy to allow a tour of my wardrobe if you thought anyone was interested! As for recent acquisitions, I recently bought the most enchanting little 1980s black mini-dress with a black net ra-ra skirt for ONE POUND from a vintage shop near where I live in Southend On Sea. ONE POUND. There’s nothing wrong with it. There are lots of costumey bits in there. Tutus feature.

It seems that the Lee Brilleaux book, and your ongoing friendship/collaborations with Wilko Johnson, has been a special one for you. How has this experience influenced your other writing (if it has)?

I’m not sure, but it was a particularly special book, the Brilleaux book, for lots of reasons, and it was fun putting my own stamp on it and mingling it with what I thought he might do, as with the dropped in sections (The Rock ’n’ Roll Gentleman’s Guide To Adventuring etc) – that was my kind of attempt at getting inside his head a bit, in a humorous way. It’s all a bit Jerome K Jerome / PG Wodehouse, I guess, it was fun to have the freedom to do that, and I am so grateful to my editor Alison Rae at Birlinn Books for allowing me such free reign.

We know that the Lee Brilleaux book offered an unprecedented look into personal family archives from Lee’s family (mom & wife) and that of Wilko Johnson, founding member of Dr. Feelgood. It also put Canvey on the map in a way we feel sure Brilleaux would have been pleased with. Where should visitors to Canvey Island begin their tour?

Well, thank you, but I think Canvey was already on the map thanks to the Feelgoods! That and the mythical Canvey Island Monster too, of course. We don’t want to leave him out. (Worth a Google, although not while eating.) If you want to visit Canvey Island, ignore all the people who say, ‘Why?’ or snort ‘Good luck!’ and get off the train at Benfleet. Then you can walk over Benfleet Creek to the Island and either wander the sea wall and walk the perimeter, or, if you’re driving, head to the Labworth Cafe, designed by Ove Arup (the fella behind the Sydney Opera House, no less. I don’t mean he’s standing behind the Sydney Opera House right now, I mean … you know what I mean.) Have a slap-up brekkie and then, in true old-school Feelgood style, go down the the Monico or the historic Lobster Smack pub, better still the Admiral Jellicoe (the Feelgoods’ favourite pub during their early years) and… well, start drinking, my friend.

Is our dream of being asked to write band liner notes someday (as you have done before) a futile dream for emerging writers? Or do you think the resurgence in vinyl and even tapes means we can still hold out a faint hope?

I think there are so many reissues now and, as you say, the vinyl resurgence, there’s certainly good reason for feeling that liner notes are a fine way to go. Writers for such projects tend to be commissioned for their particular connection to the band or the music, so once you’ve found your niche and have established yourself a bit, it’s certainly something that can present itself.

What’s next for Platypus?

Ah, Platypus – the band I may or may not be in – (masks are worn to protect the guilty) – lots of gigs, a vinyl release in the near future, general terrorising of unsuspecting or suspecting audiences.

With special thanks to Zoë Howe.

Zoë Howe’s website.

To buy the book / audiobook visit HERE.

Zoë Howe is an English music writer whose bona fides include a number of original rock biographies, music journalism, on-air radio appearances (as well as host of her own 2010 FM radio series “City by City”) who wrote the definitive Jesus and Mary Chain biography Barbed Wire Kisses. Howe has an established presence and a talent for work that crosses between writing and the world of music, with a foot in each and a joie de vivre that is both refreshing and critically needed in media today.

Jacqueline Howell

Belly Talks to Us about Collaborations, Friendship, Inspirations, New Music and Touring Again

Belly, the influential American band who gave the early 1990s Alternative music scene much of its patina and some of the best female-led harmonies and songs to emerge out of the decade, is back on the road together touring the US after time away from the band pursuing other career paths and other musical pursuits. The reunion of Belly was one of Step On Magazine’s biggest wish list news items when the resurgence of important early 1990s bands took off in the last few years, and we rejoiced when the announcement came of a US and UK summer tour as well as the potential of new music (the latter being a secondary concern for us.) Belly is a band that for many dedicated fans, has never left the turntable/CD player, with two solid albums Star (1993) and King (1995). The first album brought us “Feed the Tree” a gold record and multiple Grammy-nominated Number One hit on Alternative charts. King charted well in both US and UK but led to some industry and label pressures and disappointment that ended in the band calling it quits rather than being given the time to breathe and grow into more albums and take breaks.  Star put the band on the map at a most interesting musical time, but for our money, the sophomore King is an album length endlessly rotated let-it-player, growing in stature over time, an increasing rarity in the years since the mid-90s and something rather rare in popular music today.

Belly’s music creates both musical and voice-driven ringing, layered harmonies atop lyrics rich with subjects from the affecting, intellectual song writing and enduring milieu of their time, which proved, ultimately, timeless; environmental concerns wrapped in timeless mythology, love and growing pains, ideas about connection and disconnection (even “super-connectedness”) the tools with which we cope with modern life and pain, frustrated and enacted sexual desire & power, and the hard questions of true adulthood. But all of this is a side dish that comes after many listening sessions with the main courses – a body of work that is addictive and rich in scope, that ought to have been as big as any male-fronted band of the time, that captured more of the bigger stages and headlines. Belly deserved more recognition, it must be said.

The musical output both before and after Belly’s two albums and early career are significant. Tanya Donelly founded Throwing Muses with step-sister Kristen Hersh, and The Breeders with Kim Deal. Post-Belly’s break up, Gail Greenwood spent years with L7 and later, Bif Naked. In a fertile time for new bands, these bands impressive output stands up today as some of the very best created in that time. Tanya Donelly has since Belly released four albums under her own name including 2016’s compilation of EPs known as The Swan Song Series. Beyond music, Gail has gone on to a career in graphic design and Chris and Tom Gorman have both gone into commercial and fine art photography in New York. These musicians are artists, all, remaining creatively connected with the world in the years since the heady early 90s when they once toured for over a year. They’ve remained rooted to causes they care about, to activism, and to their musical community. One imagines in the dawn of social media, their fans have become like extended family. It would definitely appear so from the comments, shares and photos.

The press has been keen to celebrate this music news, following the tour with both national and local coverage. The Guardian sums up the UK tour experience (Leeds) thusly: “…as a setlist including gleeful renditions of Feed the Tree, Gepetto and the rest nudges past 20 songs, it beggars belief that this band has spent years in cold storage. Belly songs are darkly beguiling fairytales that erupt into big, uplifting choruses, but otherwise run the gamut from vulnerability to intensity and exuberant pop. ”

And their reemergence on the scene in 2016 is a significant statement after so many years. It’s a very good thing for music itself. It’s nourishment, it feeds the tree we remember but younger audiences have forgotten, have not been able to see live for too long in the changing, difficult culture and landscape where rock clubs and bars are disappearing and music and the music industry is a very different world. Belly’s return reminds us, again, that music of quality lives on and is now indifferent to the industry’s whims and gatekeepers. Direct fan interaction and sharing of music has cut out the middleman and with some cooperation and guts, bands can operate on their own metrics and with their own goals and plans, reaching fans in the cities that await them with all the love that’s long been their due. It’s a time of gumption, DIY art and grassroots, again. A time for celebration for passionate fans around the globe. And it’s part of a larger wake up call to the industry about quality music, songwriting, guitars, and voices not made in laboratories or prepackaged and mimed. It’s real versus processed. It’s entirely different than what is sold as popular or fun today, but getting out there and showing audiences there is a choice is what’s most essential to listeners both long time and of a new generation. Here’s hoping the reinvigorated music festival scene in US & Canada will take notice and approach Belly for dates on 2017 bills on the strength of this wildly successful tour.

Diasrm: What are your goals for the current tour? With the UK/Ireland leg completed, how do you think US audiences or shows will be different?

Chris: We don’t have and didn’t set any real goals for this tour other than being able to hit the stage with a degree of confidence, and that we wouldn’t let our audience down. This is a total ‘seat of our pants- DIY’ sort of tour that really takes us back to very early days. No real crew (sound man) no luxury travel, no days off, no production- just a band playing shows. We won’t change much for the US, hopefully our momentum will hold and we will continue to play well. We continue to tweak our set list and we have plenty of songs so that we can switch things up.

Tom: Fundamentally I think the goal is simply for us to have fun, for the audience to have fun…the world looks to be going to hell-in-a-handbasket, so a couple hours of musical joy isn’t such a bad thing. UK/Ireland was fantastic, there was something really special happening at the shows, and we hope the US goes as well. It’s a little hard to know- it seems the music culture over there is more ‘enthusiastic’ than it tends to be here, so we’ll see, but we definitely count on the audience a lot to help generate whatever it is that makes a performance ‘special.’

Gail: So far we are having the same wonderful emotional connections we felt with the unbelievable UK/Ireland fans. I don’t know how to say this without sounding corny but it truly has been a beautiful experience.

What are your current preoccupations?

Tom: Obsessing about the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it while having fun with this reunion tour.

Gail: Bear Bear and Maurice! (Ed Note: Greenwood’s trained therapy dogs who perform in libraries and nursing homes, star in Benny Sizzler videos and have been featured on the PBS Kids’ show “Martha Speaks.” – per Belly’s official website bio.)

What should people know about you?

Gail: I’m plant-powered.

Chris: As little as possible.

Tom: Only what I want them to know.

What can you tell us about your upcoming album?

Tanya: Not much at the moment! We are writing together, taking our time with it, and will eventually release a new batch of songs in some form. Hopefully sooner than later, but we are making sure we give the songs the time they need.

Tom: Somehow working out a couple new songs and saying there would be something has turned by the press/social media into promises of a new album! Whether it ends up being individual download/streaming releases, or an EP, or a full album kind of remains to be seen, and depends on so much coming into alignment with people’s jobs, families, lives, etc… But there will be something, that’s pretty certain.

What was the first record you remember loving or buying for yourself?

Chris: Everyone will have a different answer but for me the first record I ever bought was the first BOSTON album. That was during a time when i was young enough to be swayed buy the tastes of my classmates older siblings. But the first REAL music buying experience that was truly pivotal was going to Doo Wop Records in Newport, Rhode Island as a 7th grader and buying Damaged by Black Flag, and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by Dead Kennedys. Around that time Tom was digging into imports by The Smiths and the Jam. We were listening to a college station WSMU and suddenly music was something totally different- This was stuff you never ever saw at the mall. The discovery of a REAL RECORD STORE with a guy (we called him Jim Doo Wop I think) who curated the selection and really shaped and encouraged the tastes of a whole community was life changing.

Tom: Hmmmm. First loving was undoubtably a Beatles record my folks had, buying might have been Jim Croce, ELO or George Harrison…

Gail: Neil Diamond’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack.

Who inspired you to take up music?

Gail: My dad played harmonica in the Pawtucket Boys Club Harmonica Band and always played “Danny Boy” whenever we asked him to. It made me so happy to see him make my mom and his mom so happy.

Tom: It wasn’t so much inspiration as inevitability. But discovering the hard-core punk-rock scene in the early ’80s was an inspiration to start performing.

Chris: Our parents started Tom and I off on piano lessons at an early age and we stuck with it right up to high school when we discovered punk rock and found a community of young kids forming bands, Tom got drafted into a project to play bass, and I bought a friends beat up old drum kit for $50.00 and that was our start.

What was your most memorable day job?

Gail: Cleaning horse stalls at the racetrack.

How do you spoil yourself?

Gail: A walk with the dogs and my “husboy” every night when home.

What is your favourite era of music?

Gail: 70s Funk.

Tom: Every era has things that are great and things I enjoy listening to, but as I age I find I listen to more Classical (Baroque, in particular) and Jazz- probably because I don’t really understand it, so it doesn’t distract me. If I’m listening to Rock, or Pop, or Country or Indie I can’t help analyzing the writing, etc. and losing focus on whatever it is I’m doing…

What is your favourite journey? Or What is your dream vacation/trip if money was no object?

Gail: My home in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Tom: I’d love to take a few years and sail around the world, but slowly enough to stop in places long enough to get to know them. But at the same time, just being at home in upstate New York and being able to take a walk in the woods every day is a kind of dream trip.

What was the last great movie / TV show you saw? 

Gail: First season of Bloodline.

What is your favourite curse word / the phrase you overuse the most?

Chris: douchebag, douchebaggery, douchyness, all the variations of dbag.

Gail: ‘In the neck!’

What is your most treasured tool or instrument?

Gail: Tweezers.

Chris: You can’t live without a mitre saw.

Tom: My beat-up old acoustic guitar. No electricity, no amp, no effects and cords… just some wood and some wire. If I could have only one instrument that would be it.

This question is for Tanya: We are big fans of your collaboration with Catherine Wheel, “Judy Staring at the Sun”. It was such a beautiful harmonious blend of different, unique vocal styles,and was clearly the product of a true collaboration and not the mash up-never met types of guest vocals that have become common in music today. How did it come about?

Tanya: I met Rob through Gil Norton and we hit it off immediately. Belly ended up playing a couple of shows here and there with them, long before the full tour that we did, and Rob and I talked about a collaboration of some kind. When they asked me to sing backups on Judy, Rob flew to Boston to oversee the recording of my vocals at Fort Apache, and the idea to tour together came soon after. That tour was a highlight of that time for us — they are one of my favourite bands and the loveliest people.

We know about your remarkable achievements with early chart success in both US and UK with Feed the Tree / Star. What has been, personally, the most significant achievement you’ve had with your music?

Tanya: I think just the simple fact that we still find ourselves to be working musicians decades later is a pretty significant achievement. Very personally, our continued friendships, and my continued friendships with almost everyone I’ve played with, is a very rare and fortunate thing.

Gail: The amazing emotional connection between the band and the audience every night on tour this summer.

With special thanks to Gail Greenwood, Tanya Donelly, Chris Gorman and Thomas Gorman / Belly.

Jacqueline Howell

Belly’s official website

Tanya Donelly’s Facebook page

Belly’s Facebook page

DISARMing Questions for Richard McNevin-Duff of Space Monkeys

When you think of legendary Manchester label Factory Records, the obvious list of bands that come to mind are Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, James, and OMD.  But there is another band that signed to the label, in fact they were the last Factory signing, that missed out on some much deserved recognition for the music they created on 1997’s superb Daddy Of Them All.

We saw Space Monkeys for the first time ever at 2015’s inaugural Shiiine On Weekender in Minehead, UK and were wildly entertained by both the infectious British alternative rock, infused with elements of acid house and baggy, and the engaging stage show.  These 90s lads brought it!  The good news is the band have announced they will return this November for the 2016 edition of the Shiiine On Weekender.

We ran Space Monkeys front-man Richard McNevin-Duff through our ever popular list of questions, and he came through with some absolute pearls of wisdom…and some pretty funny bits too.

Disarm: What are you listening to right now?

Richard: Currently I’m listening to Kaiden Nolan, a 16-year-old singer songwriter from North Manchester. He’s the future.

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

Complete Madness and Snap by the Jam. Classic English bands of the late 70’s used to have a greatest hits album after about 3 years. Nowadays bands take 3 years to make one album. 

What is your favourite band? 

The only band I’ve bought everything they ever released on the day it came out is The Stone Roses. Your favourite band is always more than just a band, it’s an emotion. I’m patiently waiting to buy more.

Why do you live where you do?

Sheer bad luck.

What is your favourite journey?

Up the sleepy hill to Bedfordshire.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Blood On The Tracks for breakfast followed by sunshine and friends in a beer garden.

What is an “essential” to take on a plane or tour bus?

A captain.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object? 

Life’s a trip and then you get off.

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

Look out of the hotel window and write a song about escaping.

What inspired you to take up music?

I grew up in a Working Men’s Club in Manchester as a kid and fell in love with the jukebox. I started a band when I was 14 with my mates from school and I’ve kept that gang mentality ever since. There must be nothing worse than having to fill your band with musicians cos you don’t have cool enough friends.

What was your most memorable day job?

This is my day job but the hours are ridiculous, there’s no days off and I’m still waiting to get paid.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Keep a clean nose and always carry a lightbulb – Bob Dylan

What should everyone shut up about?

Body fascism. The only weight people need to lose is the one on their shoulders.

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

John Lennon. 6 bottles of Merlot and two acoustic guitars.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

Jesus Christ or Hong Kong Phooey. Too close to choose just one, both equally gifted. 

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended?

Reading Festival 1992. Nirvana’s last UK gig. Rumours were spreading that Kurt had OD’d. They came on stage an hour late and wheeled him on in a wheelchair for a joke. Proper rock and roll band.

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

Salvador Dali. Blonde On Blonde. LSD.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Wet with a chance of rainbows.

Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Don’t have heroes. We are all VIP’s.

Thanks Richard!

Dave MacIntyre

An Interview with Richard McNevin-Duff of Space Monkeys

When you think of legendary Manchester label Factory Records, the obvious list of bands that come to mind are Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, James, and OMD.  But there is another band that signed to the label, in fact they were the last Factory signing, that missed out on some much deserved recognition for the music they created on 1997’s superb Daddy Of Them All.

We saw Space Monkeys for the first time ever at 2015’s inaugural Shiiine On Weekender in Minehead, UK and were wildly entertained by both the infectious British alternative rock, infused with elements of acid house and baggy, and the engaging stage show.  These 90s lads brought it!  The good news is the band have announced they will return this November for the 2016 edition of the Shiiine On Weekender.

We ran Space Monkeys front-man Richard McNevin-Duff through our ever popular list of questions, and he came through with some absolute pearls of wisdom…and some pretty funny bits too.

Step On Magazine: What are you listening to right now?

Richard: Currently I’m listening to Kaiden Nolan, a 16-year-old singer songwriter from North Manchester. He’s the future.

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

Complete Madness and Snap by the Jam. Classic English bands of the late 70’s used to have a greatest hits album after about 3 years. Nowadays bands take 3 years to make one album. 

What is your favourite band? 

The only band I’ve bought everything they ever released on the day it came out is The Stone Roses. Your favourite band is always more than just a band, it’s an emotion. I’m patiently waiting to buy more.

Why do you live where you do?

Sheer bad luck.

What is your favourite journey?

Up the sleepy hill to Bedfordshire.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Blood On The Tracks for breakfast followed by sunshine and friends in a beer garden.

What is an “essential” to take on a plane or tour bus?

A captain.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object? 

Life’s a trip and then you get off.

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

Look out of the hotel window and write a song about escaping.


What inspired you to take up music?

I grew up in a Working Men’s Club in Manchester as a kid and fell in love with the jukebox. I started a band when I was 14 with my mates from school and I’ve kept that gang mentality ever since. There must be nothing worse than having to fill your band with musicians cos you don’t have cool enough friends.

What was your most memorable day job?

This is my day job but the hours are ridiculous, there’s no days off and I’m still waiting to get paid.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Keep a clean nose and always carry a lightbulb – Bob Dylan

What should everyone shut up about?

Body fascism. The only weight people need to lose is the one on their shoulders.

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

John Lennon. 6 bottles of Merlot and two acoustic guitars.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

Jesus Christ or Hong Kong Phooey. Too close to choose just one, both equally gifted. 

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended?

Reading Festival 1992. Nirvana’s last UK gig. Rumours were spreading that Kurt had OD’d. They came on stage an hour late and wheeled him on in a wheelchair for a joke. Proper rock and roll band.

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

Salvador Dali. Blonde On Blonde. LSD.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Wet with a chance of rainbows.

Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Don’t have heroes. We are all VIP’s.

Thanks Richard!

Watch “Let It Shine” featuring footage from the Space Monkeys 2015 comeback tour.

An Interview with Danny Chavis of The Veldt

Identical twins Daniel and Danny Chavis may originally hail from Raleigh/ Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but they have been East Village residents for the past 28 years. They are also co-founders of the groundbreaking band The Veldt, who lifted their band’s name from a Ray Bradbury science fiction story. Musically reared in the church and juke-joints of their native southern state, the twins have been performing since they were children, listening to music that included gospel, Motown and Pink Floyd.

In their early days, the Chavis brothers made a name for themselves playing throughout the south at a time when fellow southerners REM and Superchunk were securing major label deals. As more black rock bands (Living Colour, 24/7 Spyz) began selling records and gigging throughout the world, The Veldt was courted by various labels, including IRS Records and Capitol. Initially signed to Capitol Records in 1989, The Veldt embarked on a musical journey that changed their lives. Soon, they were in the studio with dream-gaze guru Robin Guthrie working on their initial recordings, playing American concert halls with Cocteau Twins and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and recording Marigolds with Lincoln Fong (Moose).

The Veldt were a sensation from the start as they became a part of amovement of innovators who came of musical age at a time when rhythmic rebels were reflective, gritty and wild. Their sound inspired future generations of alternative artists, including TV On the Radio. They switched labels and Mercury Records released Afrodisiac in 1994, produced by Ray Shulman (The Sundays, Bjork, Sugarcubes). Their single “Soul in a Jar” was an underground hit. As the brothers moved to expand their musical language, fusing more electronics into their soundscape, they retired the “Veldt” name and, for various reasons, began recording and touring under under the name Apollo Heights. In 1999, the Chavis brothers met bassist Hayato Nakao, who would become their permanent partner. Their music was loud, exploring color, space, sensuality and beat driven melodies with rhythmic and dynamic tension. Daniel’s falsetto vocals cast a contrast upon the wall of sound created by Danny’s heavy rock dreamscape guitar and Hayato’s pounding and licentious beats. Although The Veldt had signed to two major labels after leaving Mercury Records in 1995, the brothers decided to remain indie and self-released their 2008 album White Music for Black People.

The major labels were always trying to get us to change our sound, our look or both, but, we had no interest in being the next Lenny Kravitz or Tony! Toni! Toné! Unfortunately, not everyone shared our vision. We weren’t trying to be rock stars, we just want to play our music and pay our rent.

Apart from Robin Guthrie and A.R. Kane, they have collaborated with TV On The Radio, Mos Def and Lady Miss Kier (Deee-Lite), and have shared the stage with My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, Echo & The Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins, Manic Street Preachers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Oasis, Living Colour and TV on the Radio, among others.

The Veldt will be touring central Canada and also opening for The Brian Jonestown Massacre for various east coast dates during their forthcoming U.S. tour in May.

We asked Danny these 20 questions about music, life and his experiences as musician.

Step On Mag: What are you listening to these days?

Danny: Pol pol vah, Alice Coltrane, Flying Saucer Attack, Arthur Lee and Love, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, Isaac Hayes, A.R. Kane, Ummagma, and Miles Davis. Also a lot of deep south trap music – I like to keep it crunk you know.

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

Batman and Robin theme.

Who is the most underrated band that you just can’t understand why they weren’t more celebrated (any era)?

Cocteau Twins, A.R. Kane, Wolfgang Press.

Why do you live where you do?

New York City because I can walk to the store, rather than hitchhike in North Carolina. I live on the Lower east side near to the Hells Angels.

What is your favourite journey?

To Chinatown, then to KFC.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Playing guitar and going to Chinatown.

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

Deodorant.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object? 

Going to Japan or Germany.

What do you do with 4 free hours in a new city?

Look around look for the nearest music shop, book stores, thrift shops, and record stores.

How did you get into music?

My grandfather liked the blues. And spending time with the burn-outs in the smoking court in high school – that’s how I first heard of Jimi Hendrix and it took off from there. Then my granddad bought Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ and I got hooked. He was way ahead of his time.

What was your most memorable day job?

None of them.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Don’t get married. Don’t order from that salad bar.

What should everyone shut up about?

What they think I should be doing, or what they want me to do because I probably won’t do it.

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

Clara Bow or Louise Brooks. Would indulge in catfish…or them.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction, or favourite films or TV series?

Old King Cole, Sanford and Son, and Nova.

What was the best live gig or music festival you were involved in as an artist?

Opening for the Jesus and Mary Chain and also Cocteau Twins.

What is your “must” read (magazines, news, websites, blogs)?

Too many of them to count.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art (by any definition- music, visual art, film, natural phenomenon…)

2001 A Space Odyssey, Gustav Klimt, The Voyage to Pluto.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I hope busy doing music and playing and meeting kool kool people.

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

Take a chance and if they turn out to be an asshole, fuck ‘em – they’re human, just like you are. Always try to make time for people who love what you do.

Thanks Danny!

The Veldt will be performing at The Silver Dollar Room, Toronto on Sunday April 3rd.

Pete Fij on Books, Film, and Life After Adorable

As fans of Shoegaze and 90’s British Rock / Alternative / Indie music know, Pete Fij is a founding member and lead singer of early 90’s Coventry, U.K. band Adorable, an important, underrated band signed to Creation Records and later, EMI, who released two albums Against Perfection (1993) and Fake (1994). In the early 2000’s days of the internet, fans traded information and sought out music and news to find that Pete Fij continued to make new music with Polak, who released two albums. For the past five years, Fij has been writing, releasing new music and performing as a duo with Terry Bickers (The House of Love, Levitation).

Fij and Bickers released Broken Heart Surgery, a solid collection of introspective, stripped down stunners, in 2014, and are currently working on a follow up album.

Pete Fij recently took time out to speak to Step On Magazine about life in the years in between the 90’s music scene and his creative work in and outside music since he left Coventry and moved to the seaside, including an entirely new, yet creatively rich time as a bookseller, which led to new friendships and sometimes odd interactions with fans along the way.  One hopes for a new piece of literature someday out of the experience that might yet emerge from the archives and imagination of Fij, a true artist who can inflect the slightest observation with poetry. In the meantime, Fij breaks the taboo subject of life after/outside of music. The artist also shares some of his other creative work (which includes the band’s graphic design and video direction) and his personal film recommendations.

Fij and Bickers recently played at the inaugural Shiiine On Weekender music festival in Somerset, U.K. and can be found performing the occasional show as they work on album number 2.

Step On: How long after Adorable did it take for the buzz to die down and you could feel free to walk around without unwanted attention?

Pete Fij: To characterise the period after Adorable finished as having lots of attention would be wrong. Ultimately we split up because very few people could give a shit about us!

SO:  Can you tell me about your bookstand? It was around for two decades if I’m not mistaken.  How did running the stand come about happening?

PF: I became a bookseller almost by accident – books had always held an interest for me and as a teenager I had worked in a bookshop on Saturdays to help fuel my record collection, and part of my Film Degree was also in literature, but it had never been part of my plan to do anything with books. I moved from Coventry to Brighton about 3 months after Adorable had split, and it was massive change of environment. From a working class, very traditional industrial city in the centre of England with very little in the way of an arts culture, to a very bohemian, open and creative seaside town. In my first year in Brighton I was in a bit of a state of shock – the end of Adorable was a bit like a car crash – you could see the end coming in slow motion, but were just a passenger, and the next thing you know you are climbing out of the wreckage thinking “wow – what was that?” I was in a daze for best part of a year – exhausted and not quite sure what to do with my life, and trying to make sense of what had happened over the previous 3 years, and to complete this feeling of other worldliness I didn’t know a soul in my new town. As a release from this I spent my time driving around the local coastal towns in the area in my tiny 1960’s Fiat 500, buying old tv tie-in books like Starsky & Hutch, The Avengers, Man From Uncle and old paperbacks with great looking covers – at first for my own pleasure, but then I started thinking about maybe running a stall. After a while I started selling them down on the beach in Brighton, and slowly what started out as a side hobby for beer money turned into a business that evolved, supporting me and my family for the best part of twenty years. I met a lot of great people, most of whom didn’t know I had been in a band and I enjoyed the anonymity of it.

SO: Was the daze you felt after finishing Adorable also part relief?  Was it freedom/survival of the car crash you saw coming or a painful disappointment and a slow heal?

PF: In some ways the immediate post-Adorable period was a relief in that the pressure was no longer on – it was no longer up to me to cajole unwilling members to rehearsal, or try to convince unconvinced record labels to support us, but it was a period where I was genuinely in a state of shock – trying to take stock of what had happened. The whole 2 and a half years we were signed had been a whirlwind, and I had never had a chance to stop and breathe. It was only much later that I realized that the whole Adorable period wasn’t really a very happy time for me – really full on and exciting, but not happy.

SO: Why move to Brighton?  Did you have a connection with the town from your past or was it a decision to live somewhere new just to be away from it all?

PF: I went to Brighton because I always wanted to live by the sea. I had been down for a few weekends borrowing a friend’s flat and always felt free and excited by the town which was the polar opposite to Coventry.  Post-Adorable I knew that my future didn’t lie in Coventry, and so made the decision to move away very quickly – it was time for a new chapter in my life, and so I moved within 3 months after Adorable split. I didn’t know a soul, which was weird, and slightly scary – it was just me and my girlfriend. The first year felt quite isolated – my girlfriend would go to work and I’d be alone in the flat thinking – I’m going to go into town and not meet one person that I know. I sat at home tinkering away programming pop tunes on a computer for a pop project that never quite saw the light of day.

SO: Did your experiences at the book stand ever fuel topics for music?

PF: I think the bookstall gave me a sense of perspective on life – my customers and fellow traders, many who became friends, were from a variety of different backgrounds and interests, and I enjoyed being away from the insularity of the music industry which can be quite self-absorbed and make you lose touch with reality. I used to find objects in the pages of the books I got – old letters, shopping lists, badly taken photos, post it notes and cards or other odd scraps of paper. I found these fragments of other people’s lives very poignant – like a tiny window into the private lives of strangers I would never know. I kept them and they formed the basis of a song I recorded with Terry  called ‘Lost & Found’, inspired by the idea of a lost property office of bits of people’s lives. “We’re a diary full of lists, unopened birthday gifts, we’re the melodies of songs that you once sung. We are the hats and we are the coats, we’re the novel that you never wrote – we’re the lost, we’re the found.”

SO: Are there any interesting or funny stories that stand out during your time there?

PF: With the growth of the internet word got out that I had a stall on the beach and fans would sometimes come and find me – I was stalked by a Japanese fan who followed me and my girlfriend around for several days taking photos from afar but never actually came up to speak to me, which I found deeply uncomfortable – it was a tiny insight into what becoming famous might entail. I had to resort to ducking into multi-storey carparks and doubling back through stairwells like I was in a spy film to stop her from following me home.

On another occasion a German tourist came and bought The Hobbit by Tolkien from me and then returned an hour later “Excuse me – you are Piotr the singer from Adorable – no?” he said in a thick German accent. He then told me his favourite shows he had seen us at, and talked knowledgeably for some time about obscure Adorable recordings. After a while there was a lull in the conversation and he looked at my shoes covered in dust from the beach, and my cardboard boxes of books that were stacked up on the pebbles for people to rifle through and he turned to me and waving his hand at what he saw before him he said rather piteously “What has happened to you?”.

SO: Your recollection of the Japanese stalker and German “fan” are cringe worthy.  It’s both fascinating and terrifying to me that some people can so easily blur the lines of admiration and respect for an artist into something disturbing or in the case of the German, utterly rude.

PF: As it so happens years later I would collaborate with the German ‘Hobbit’ buyer, although I didn’t realise it was him until later! (Listen to “A Hole In Her Heart” by Kratzke feat. Pete Fijalkowski HERE.)  I think the moral of the story is that sometimes people find it hard to relate to musicians when they are no longer professional musicians. I find it interesting that there aren’t more discussions or articles about what musicians do after they finish being in a band. I think maybe that’s the mystique that the music press inadvertently creates. It doesn’t talk about life outside of music as if that is some sort of taboo. Because of this, some people genuinely think I made so much money from Adorable that I don’t have to work again, and they find it hard to process that I have a life outside of music. I also notice how little is ever mentioned about the financial process of being a musician. It’s as if the fiscal mechanics of making music shouldn’t be talked about because it sullies the art, but in some ways it’s very much part of the process. As an example, my current decision to work in a stripped down 2-piece with Terry Bickers is as much an artistic interest in minimizing as it is one that is influenced by the hard realities of our financial situation. If we had lots of money to spend would we get a full band together? Would we have a full orchestra? Perhaps, but we don’t have that money, so we work within the confines that we have which in turn influences the kind of music we make.

SO: How did you and Terry Bickers come to work together?  Had you known one another long before the collaboration was formed?

Pete: Before I met Terry I had tried through our manager to get him to join Polak back in early 2000’s when my brother was thinking of hanging up his guitar, but Terry wasn’t really into the idea. I later met him a couple of times in passing but I only knew him to say hello to in the street. Fast forward 8 years and I had a chance to play a solo show in a church to finally air the songs that were the basis of ‘Broken Heart Surgery’ that I had already written and recorded. I decided to ask Terry, as the idea of playing with him was massively exciting. He played on 4 or 5 songs and the reaction was really good, so I asked him to join forces and perform on equal footing as a collaboration – we went back through the songs I had written and re-worked them. It was a slow process – it took some time for us to totally understand and get to know each other on a musical and personal level –  and it took perhaps a couple of years before we were totally comfortable with each other in both spheres.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4286919692/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=2ebd35/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=93820269/transparent=true/

SO: Was there ever a time you felt you were done with music professionally?

PF: Yes – after Polak finished I considered jacking it all in. I recorded a solo album in 2004 (a version of ‘Broken Heart Surgery’) but didn’t send it to anyone or play it to anyone, and I wondered if that was a sign that I was secretly trying to tell myself to stop. I eventually gave the songs their first public airing in 2009 when I did some solo shows with Terry Bickers playing on a handful of the songs as a special guest.

SO: Was your original plan to get into a career in film and music happened along the way?

PF: I studied film at university, but it was a critical course, not a practical one. I spent 3 years watching and dissecting films. I liked the idea of making films, but quickly realised that the large scale collaborative process probably wasn’t for me, and quite quickly I got side-tracked by being in bands. I still harbour the desire to make films. I directed the Pete Fij / Terry Bickers videos thus far, and maybe one day I’ll get asked to do something for someone else. Film runs pretty much in parallel as a passion for me alongside music.

SO: Are there any filmmakers that you feel are under appreciated or have been missed entirely?

PF: Films that I think are little gems that aren’t more widely known might be:

  • ‘La Antena’ – a truely incredible bit of film making that harks back to German Expressionism and Surrealism. Amazingly the director hasn’t made another film – everyone banged on about ‘the Artist’, but this is on another (more arty) level. Watch the trailer HERE.
  • ‘Revanche’ from 2009 is like a Wim Wenders film, but with a plot! It’s very slow moving, but totally absorbing.  Watch the trailer HERE.
  • ‘Man Without a Past’ is quirky gem- Aki Kurismaki makes some lovely little films.  Watch the trailer HERE.
  • Although film historians rave about it, ‘A Man Escaped’ by Robert Bresson is a film that a lot of contemporary audiences don’t know about and is really compelling.  Watch the trailer HERE.
  • Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut ‘Trees Lounge’ is one that has escaped a lot of people.  Watch the trailer HERE.
  • Cercle Rouge is very cool French thriller from 1970 that a lot of people don’t know about – certainly an influence on the Coen Brothers.  Watch the trailer HERE.

I could go on….Film pretty much level pegs in the passion stakes as music for me.

SO: As a photographer who learned on film, I feel the transition to digital has often been more bad than good.  Although it has made the art form far more affordable and accessible, anyone with a few hundred dollars can buy a good camera, launch a website, and label themselves a professional photographer.  As such, many feel they no longer need to pay for photography services.

In terms of artistic and professional credibility, do you see the same thing happening with motion pictures and music, or has digital enabled those with the desire to create to do so without breaking the bank? As an established professional musician, do the pros outweigh the cons?

PF: I understand your situation but I’m not sure I agree with you. I myself have been a victim of technology affecting my business. Kindle massively changed buying habits for books and I have pretty much hung up my book selling hat as a result, but can giving people wider access to means of producing art, whether it be still photography, making films, or being able to make music in your bedroom instead of having to go to expensive studio really be a bad thing?  I think the larger, more tactile books will still have a place, but I think increasingly the paperback fiction format will die out. 

Advancement of technology always means some casualties be they booksellers, or professional photographers, but you have to take the wider picture of what it gives society, especially if it gives us wider access to expression and art. Those things shouldn’t be elitist.  Likewise, I think it’s fantastic that people can get their music up and that people have the means to record it to a high standard at relatively low cost, though again at the expense of those who have professional studios.  There are now more great tracks that you can listen to than ever. The trouble is finding it amongst all that is out there, and also as an artist it is hard to get noticed amongst all the others shouting, so it’s a double edged sword.

We have more to compete against, but we are fortunate to have a small audience who will make time to listen to our music to start things off because of our previous careers, although our project doesn’t really sound like either Adorable, Polak, House of Love or Levitation!  I hardly ever venture out these days, but the gigs I go to are all attended by people of a certain age. Bickers & Fij do have a few younger people, 30-somethings whippersnappers and the occasional teenage child of a fan as well, but can’t say that we are making serious inroads into a younger audience.

SO: What became of the Fiat?  I feel nostalgic about the different cars I’ve owned.  I identify them with a time and place of where I was, similar to how certain songs do that.

PF: I always loved old cars, although they are impractical as your only means of transport. The Fiat 500 was a lovely thing – small, compact and perfectly formed, though I spent a fair amount of time sitting by the side of roads waiting for the truck from the AA (Automobile Association rather than Alcoholics Anonymous) to come to tow me home! As a bookseller it was a woefully inadequate vehicle , but I loved it and gave it away to my brother who I knew would care for it – it was as heart-wrenching as letting a much loved pet

go, but I knew it was best for the Cinquecento. I got a small van in its place. Way less cool. You can see the old Fiat 500 on the back cover of the ‘Vendetta’ single.

With our very special thanks to Pete Fij. 

Interview by Dave MacIntyre.

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers’ Bandcamp page, website, and Facebook page

I AM LONO: New Music & An Interview With Matthew Stephen Cooper

What do you do when you share an obsession for The Doors, John Carpenter, and Hunter S. Thompson?  You form a band of course!

I AM LONO originated as a Nottingham duo compromised of Matthew Stephen Copper and David Startin, but have recently taken on multi-instrumentalist Chris Moore to enrich and intensify the live experience.  Their first release as a 3-piece is entitled “In A World Dusted With Sit Down Dinners”, and exudes all the chilly electronic moodiness we loved in the band’s debut EP.  The Bowiesque elements are again apparent in this song as they are in I AM LONO’s 6-track EP.  When you read the interview with Matthew below, the references to Bowie and the influence of Low and Heroes are highlighted.

Matthew had this to say about the addition of Chris Moore to the band:

“Even though up until now we have only performed as a two piece, there has really always been three members of I AM LONO.  Down in our studio, Chris Moore has been heavily involved in the writing, recording and production of our music.

During the recording sessions for last year’s self-titled EP, as well as recording and producing, Chris played drums on a number of the tracks.  We have since begun writing new material as a three-piece and this is the first song to come out of those sessions.  As a band, we have always been interested in splicing electronic and organic elements together and are very excited to be combining the sounds of the drum-machine (which has always been so integral to what we do) with the human feel of live drums.  We are forming a new dynamic for the band.”

The following is the interview with Matthew conducted by the band’s label, Louder City Records, for Step On Magazine in which they discuss I AM LONO’s incredible debut EP.

The EP is a bit of mix – the first three songs are pretty immediate, dark, pop songs; but the later ones have a more ambient feel.

 Yeah, that’s really the result of the various musical obsessions that each of us in the band have.  We produced the EP collectively, and tried to bring them all together to create something that had the immediacy of pop music, while retaining some of the mystery and strangeness of avant-garde music.

The Bowie albums Low and Heroes were a huge inspiration for us at the time.  During recording, we realized we wanted to put the songs out on vinyl and began to think about how they would fit on that physical format.  Those Bowie albums really inspired us to split the EP into two definite, separate sides, and we put the punchier songs on the first side, and gave the second a deliberately ambient feel.

The A-side certainly does make a big statement.  The lead into Infra Red is pretty cinematic, and sets the tone for those dark vocals.

 Glad it had that effect!  We weren’t originally going to start the EP with that track and realized what a good opener it was shortly after we’d come up with what we thought was the final order.  The lyrics are dark.  They actually arose pretty spontaneously, and the whole song kind of sprung up like a weird dream.  Sometimes we write that way: the words get sung and they can sound intense and real, and then when you try to explain them to anyone they don’t make an exact sense.  Infra Red is one of those.  It’s really a love song, sung by a man who is waiting for something to return that he knows will not.  But the words don’t tell a precise story.  Sometimes dreams are best left weird.

 The second song “Why Everything is Made of Fives”, makes an impact in a different way, with those searing guitars over all the synths. How did that track come about?

“Why Everything is Made Of Fives” was one of the first things we wrote together.  It was before we really knew what the band was about and how it was going to be put together.  We had an acoustic guitar and were looking for a female vocalist who could sing like Grace Slick!  Strange times indeed.  David [Startin; bass and guitars] was interested in John Carpenter soundtracks and I was still listening heavily to The Pixies.  Somehow those ended up being a prototype manifesto for LONO: to try to make something that was atmospheric while, at the same time, immediate and direct.

The lyrics of the song come from a long night out in Nottingham.  We kept finding ourselves in heated debates with strangers about the Illuminatus! Trilogy; conversations that were littered with talk of secret societies, ancient orders, and how maybe the Pope controls the world and is a lizard from the moon.  People kept telling us about the “Law of Fives”: an all-encompassing and usefully-vague law which states that “all things happen in fives; are divisible by, or are multiples of five; or are directly or indirectly appropriate to five”. Apparently, “the law of fives is never wrong”.

I didn’t understand what we were talking about that night, and I don’t think it is any clearer now.  For me, numerology and superstition are absurd, but it is a glorious thing that people are so eager to explain how everything is connected, and to find hidden meaning in all things.  Long live conspiracy theories!

Then it’s straight onto “Only Love” to round off the A-side.  That’s different again: more bass-heavy; like a long-lost Cure track.

We’re actually big fans of the Cure, so that’s a huge compliment!  “Only Love” began life as a pretty-downbeat song built around a catchy bass hook Dave kept on playing during rehearsals.  It drifted in the back of our minds while we looked for ways to make the song swing.  We were listening to the Bowie album Heroes a lot at the time, and in particular the song “Blackout”.  It was so bold, crazy and defiant; the opening vocal line and swaggering bass rhythm totally inspired us to put a new demo together.  Then there was a real spontaneity in the studio while we re-worked it – we did a lot of overdubbing on-the-fly; put down layer-after-layer of weird synth-lines; added heavily-processed bass guitar riffs; all of which we kept and used on the final recording.

The lyrics were written during a weird period in which a lot of good people I knew were ending long-term relationships, or having them ended for them.  There was of course a lot of emotional anxiety for everyone involved, but what made my stomach churn was all the post break-up bureaucracy.  It’s distressing how suddenly something meaningful and seemingly-permanent can switch and change on you, only to become an inventory of accumulated possessions that need dividing up and returning.  So that song is kind of about all of that: Only Love.  But with a sexy bass groove cutting right through the middle of all of it…

There’s a great analogue feel to all the songs.  How were they recorded?

Thanks – that’s really down to the production.  Although we’re known as a duo, because only David and I perform on stage, there are actually three of us in I AM LONO. All our studio work is done with multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Moore who has a basement studio in central Nottingham.  He’s recorded and mixed our music since the beginning.

Chris is a huge audiophile and loves analogue equipment, and he’s often finding and experimenting with interesting old kit.  After we finished recording the EP, he spotted a broken reel-to-reel tape machine in a second-hand shop in town, stayed up all night bringing it back to life, and put all the recordings down to that tape.  It’s given the songs a warm, grainy sound and removed some of the harshness that digital music so often has.

That’s noticeable on the B-side especially, which is pretty ambient and melancholic.

Yeah – the first track on the B-side, “I Wanted to, Once” was performed using a 1980’s vocoder and modular synthesizer that belongs to a friend in the studio next door, Julian Zizko.  He recorded and arranged that track from improvisations we did together using his analogue kit.  It was a lot of fun, and something we’d not really done before.

The next track, “Waltz” is a song David and I actually wrote a couple of years ago when we were working on pieces that had more of a soundtrack-feel.  At the time David had Morricone and Wendy Carlos on constant repeat, and I was pretty much addicted to Moondog.  We thought it was an interesting change-of-pace on the EP, and gave the final track more impact.  Surprisingly, it’s been well received in its own right, and was played on BBC Radio in September.

“Waltz” does change the mood, and “A Macquette” is all the more menacing and powerful for it.  That last song takes the EP back into familiar I AM LONO territory – more upbeat, but still dark and mysterious. 

 That track has been part of our repertoire for some time.  At the beginning, the title was kind of a placeholder, while the song was still a working demo.  Along the way, we noticed we’d started spelling it with an additional letter C, but we actually liked it that way and it sort of stuck. We took the accidental spelling as an opportunity to invent a new meaning for the song when it was finished – now we say that “A Macquette” is the name of a night-time veil worn by aristocrats during the French revolution; a veil that was thought to protect you from nightmares.  Those guys would certainly have needed one…

 So that wraps up the EP tracks.  You’ve put it out through a new Nottingham label: Louder City Records.  What’s the connection there?

Mark Didmon from Louder City approached us after hearing the Leland/In Silence single that we self-released in 2013, saying he would be interested in working with us to put out new material on vinyl.  We couldn’t have hoped for a more perfect label to put out our music: Mark is a serious music enthusiast dedicated to releasing music he cares about on physical formats.  It’s been an absolute pleasure working with him, and he’s brought a lot to the organisational and design sides of the EP.

Speaking of the design of the EP, the cover image is pretty unusual – what is it?

That image, and the one on the back of the EP, are photographs taken by Haydn Webborn.  We used some of his other images on the digital singles we’ve released alongside the EP.

Haydn was the grandfather of my girlfriend Kate, and a great photographer with a keen eye for composition.  Kate and I came across a collection of his photos at home, all on glass slides stored in five beautiful old, wooden boxes.  All the images are of intriguing industrial buildings and equipment.  They were most likely meant for experts in their field, but they really stand on their own as simple, elegant photos.  Taken out of their original context, the photos are pretty surreal and haunting, like the ghostly relics of some industrial age.

To answer your question – we don’t exactly know what the cover image is…  If any of your readers can tell us, we’d love to hear from them…

Questions for Musicians: The Virgance

 

a2226498116_10The Virgance is Nathan Smith, a Suffolk, UK solo artist specializing in Instrumental Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Noise Rock & Post Rock, on the roster of net label El Vals del Conejo. Hiko Shrine is the second album release, following up 2014’s debut Lost Continent. We featured The Virgance in January’s “Musical Finds” column, and in our very first “virtual mix tape“. From a rural  small town base, The Virgance creates some impressive and vast soundscapes that offer a temporary journey in a way that only great instrumental music can.

What are your current fixations?

I have downed tools on Virgance 3 to work on a remix for Ummagma, so I suppose that is my current fixation. These days I try to avoid obsessing over anything too much, except where self-improvement and musical projects are concerned.

What are you listening to?

Nothing at the moment. When I’m working on music I don’t really have the capacity to properly enjoy other people’s, especially when it’s something that really blows me away. I have to keep my mind and ears as fresh as possible. It might sound a bit strange but I get excited at the prospect of a taking an indefinite break from this, having the time and energy to consciously discover and enjoy other music again.

Why do you live where you do?

I live in the small village of Acton in Suffolk. We sold our first house in my hometown of Colchester about 5 years ago, mainly because of an utterly despicable neighbour, but also we wanted a little more space for our son, and we found that the further north you venture from there the more house you get for your money. I do feel fortunate to live fairly rurally, but the only downside is that small village mentality which I cannot stand. That is one thing to be said for urban living – people are less judgmental, less hung-up on things, more open-minded. They tend to look further than their own nose!

What  album inspired you to take up music?

This may come as a surprise. When I was 13 I got hold of a video tape of Queen live at Wembley, it had been broadcast on an old British music show called The Tube. I was immediately in awe of Brian May, and that’s really when I became interested in the electric guitar. I’d already been learning violin since the age of 8 or 9, but never really enjoyed it and only learned it as long as I did because I thought I was obliged to. At the age of 14 I saw a re-run of another old British music show called Colour Me Pop. There was one from 1968 which featured the Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. Rollin’ Over, Song of a Baker, etc. I vividly remember thinking “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen. This is what I want to do”.

What advice should you have taken but did not?

Some say I should have accepted the invitation to play/write for Sophie Ellis-Bextor in 1999 after her band The Audience split up. I wasn’t into the material I had been sent, which was written by her husband in The Feeling. I don’t think I could ever have been “Pop” enough for her vocal style, and as it transpired she forged a very successful “Disco” career for a while immediately after that, with a UK Number 1 that kept Posh Spice off the top! I often wonder what contacts and thumbs in pies I might have got out of it, but ultimately I didn’t want it enough, to be a puppet playing stuff I had no real interest in.

How do you spoil yourself?

I don’t really, by most people’s standards. I am teetotal these days and recently quit tobacco. After a long day of work I enjoy a nice meal and then a late night film or two whilst chuffing on my e-cig!

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

David Lynch. I’m not much at cooking so I would politely ask my wife to prepare one of her wonderful curries! Yes, probably cherry pie and coffee for dessert.

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David Lynch photo:Interview magazine

What is your favourite 90’s band(s)?

It really depends on my mood. Nirvana, MBV, Verve, Stone Roses, Slowdive, Boards of Canada. I have a penchant for the darker side of Blur.

What is your favourite current band(s)?

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Puna, Bloodhounds On My Trail, Strata Florida, Sounds of Sputnik. There would be more if I had time to check them!

What is your favourite journey?

The drive home back up to Suffolk, late at night after a catch-up with old mates in Colchester. No traffic, foot down. The only time I really enjoy driving.

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Who is your favourite hero(es) of fiction?

Chief Brody, Amity Island P.D.

What is your current mood?

Positive. The clocks here in the UK have changed back to normal for British Summer Time, which makes a big difference to me as someone who struggles a bit with S.A.D. in the winter months. Spring to Autumn is a very productive time of year. I might have to get some of those lights you strap on your head for next winter.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

After I finish the remix of Ummagma’s ‘River Town’, all my free time will be spent on Virgance 3. I say remix, it is essentially a brand new song with samples of Shauna’s vocal strategically scattered over it. It’s quite a traditional, downtempo shoegaze sound and I’m pleased that it is fairly emotional, more like parts of Lost Continent than Hiko Shrine. Then it will be back to Virgance 3, which so far feels like a mid-way point between the moods of the first two albums. I hope to have the bulk of it done by autumn.

What are your 3 favourite films?

Jaws, Dune, Withnail & I.

Jaws (1975) Roy Scheider Credit: Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
Jaws (1975)
Roy Scheider
Credit: Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Favourite TV shows/streaming shows?

Right now I’m enjoying the new Inside No.9 on BBC2, which for those who are unfamiliar is a series of dark comedy short stories written by and starring two thirds of the League of Gentlemen. I was excited about the prospect of Twin Peaks returning, until I heard that Lynch has recently pulled out. Disappointing. Watching the original series’ in my early teens back in the day is a fond memory. “How’s Annie?”

Who makes you laugh?

Sean Lock, Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Jo Brand…I tend to prefer the cynics. I suppose their confusion and disillusionment with the world we live in resonates with me! Nothing quite like putting the world to rights and being reduced to tears at the same time. To me they are like rock stars. Laughter is the best medicine.

What has been the most significant achievement you’ve had with your music so far?

To be honest I was made up just to be included in online end-of-year lists for 2014, as it had been many years since I was last an active musician. I find it pretty mad how drastically the music business has changed since I last had any kind of involvement with it. Internet radio, digital formats, social media, A&R being replaced by data, etc, etc. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been hibernating since the late ‘90s and have just woken up! As long as people are buying and downloading the music I will try my best to continue making it, but it is finite. I know the time will come when I have to stop or try my hand in other areas of composition altogether.

You can listen and buy The Virgance’s two albums at the Bandcamp page.

Thank you, Nathan for answering so many questions for us, and for all your insights on your favourites/musts and recommendations for bands of the 90’s and today. It’s been great to know more about the man behind so many great sounds.

By Step On Magazine Editors

27 Questions with Globetrotting DJ Jeff Kirkwood

Bali sunset photo via Jeff Kirkwood
Bali sunset photo via Jeff Kirkwood

Toronto-based / International DJ Jeff Kirkwood is currently gigging in Indonesia and Australia (and cleverly dodged some of our endless winter with a gigging trip to Mexico too – we sometimes travel vicariously through his facebook page). He’ll be back in North America in June. Jeff took time out from his busy schedule of spinning house (deep/ tech / bouncy/ vocal house) record shopping and soaking up a little sun here and there to answer our many nosey questions! You can hear Jeff’s stuff on Mixcloud and follow upcoming gigs here: Facebook page. Just announced: Jeff is playing May 29th at the Spice Cellar (in their brand new location- the basement of Erskineville’s Imperial Hotel) Sydney, Australia. This is sure to be a great party in one of Sydney’s most ace venues for Electronic music.

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What are your current fixations?

St. Lucia, who I heard at my first visit to Coachella this year, which was INSAAANE.

What are you listening to (on ipod, record, cd, bandcamp)?

I’m listening to my latest mix, Oh You Bouncy, Huh?, to make sure it’s perfect before I post it to Mixcloud. (ed note: This is now available on Mixcloud)

Why do you live where you do?

I’m a raging gypsy. I have an apartment in Toronto because it’s the greatest city in the world (in the summer), and I divide the rest of my year in Bali, Australia, Europe and the U.S.

What is your “must” read online or mags/newspapers?

The Huffington Post and livesoccertv.com for all my soccer news.

Name something you consider a mind altering work of art.

Caribou’s live set at Coachella altered my idea of music and how it can be created and performed.

What record/tape/cd/ inspired you to take up music?

A live set on tape cassette by Lee Burridge that I heard in 2001, which was the first time I heard house music, and is singlehandedly responsible for me becoming a DJ.

What advice should you have taken but did not?

Learn from other people’s mistakes.

What should everyone shut up about?

Everyone should shut up about the fact that I don’t have a cell phone.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Laying in the sun, on the beach, reading my book and drinking a cocktail, and then when the sun goes down, cuddling in bed with a handsome man and watching 3 movies.

What was the first LP/tape/CD  you bought with your own money?

Baby Blue Sound Crew’s reggae mixtape.

What was your most memorable day job?

My first one! Cleaning hotel rooms when I was 15.

How do you spoil yourself?

Massages and new pairs of sunglasses.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

Andy Warhol, and I would serve him my favorite Campbell’s soup: Beef Vegetable.

What is your favourite 90’s band?

Hmm. The Tragically Hip was the first one that came to mind so I’ll go with them.

What is your favourite current band?

St. Lucia

What is your favourite journey?

The first time I came to Bali, four years ago. I found out what part of the Earth was on the exact opposite side from Toronto, because I wanted to go as far away as possible from everything I was familiar with and have the grandest adventure I could, and it was Jakarta. Jakarta’s not great, so I chose the closest amazing place, and it was Bali. It was the most incredible journey ever.

Who is your favourite hero(es) of fiction?

Kvothe, from Patrick Rothfuss’ series of fantasy novels.

What is your current mood?

Slightly maudlin. Being back in Bali is amazing but a very dear friend of mine who used to live here passed away earlier this year so it’s a bit sad to be back without her being around.

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What person or thing do you most despise?

Flaky people. Time wasters.

What is your favourite occupation?

The one that I claim as my own! Djing.

What should people know about you?

Wow. What a question. There’s nothing people SHOULD know about me. I’m careful and picky about who I allow into my life, and they are the only ones who should know anything about me.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

I have another month traveling around Indonesia and Australia, and then back to Toronto for the summer with a trip planned to Provincetown for Bear Week, and a trip to Sitges, Spain in September for my birthday 🙂

What are your 3 favourite films?

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Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You

I just saw ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ which is a new all-time favorite. ‘Heaven’ with Cate Blanchet and Giovanni Ribisi. And I can’t believe I’m admitting this but ‘P.S. I love You’, lol. I’m a sucker for sad romantic flicks. And Gerard Butler.

Favourite TV shows/streaming shows?

Transparent, The Good Wife, House of Cards, the recently finished Parenthood (sigh), and the recently finished Justified (double sigh)

Who or what makes you laugh?

Smart people who tell brilliant jokes and my cat.

 

What is your dream vacation/trip if money was no object?

The Virgin Airlines space shuttle.

What has been the most significant achievement you’ve had with your music so far?

All the amazing places around the world I’ve been lucky enough to play in, and all the people who validate my path by loving what I share with them.

Thank you for letting us share your travels, musical inspirations, and favourite things with you via this interview, Jeff! 

 

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