Tombstones In Their Eyes – Maybe Someday

When listening to a record for the first time, I can usually tell within the first thirty seconds of song one if I’ll want to hear it through, skip to song two (or deeper) in search of the chords and vocals that will connect with me, or stop it and never look back. There are also occasions when song one gets repeat playback because it’s so good. And then the same happens with song two. And song three. Music lovers understand this “Eureka!” moment.

Maybe Someday by Tombstones In Their Eyes was my 2019 “Eureka!” moment.

Comprised of John Treanor (vocals/guitar), Josh Drew (guitar), Mike Mason (bass) and Stephen Striegel (drums), Tombstones In Their Eyes is a band from Los Angeles that appeals to fans of psych, noise, shoegaze, alternative, and even sludgy doom metal. James Cooper, an old school friend of Treanor’s now living in New York, is also considered a member as he helped start the band and works with him on song creation. The band released a number of EPs, including 2017’s Fear which was my first introduction to their signature melodic yet crunchy sound, and 2018’s Nothing Here.

On November 15th, 2019, Somewherecold Records released Maybe Someday, and what could be described as a well-polished, cohesive collection of gritty psych-infused noise rock songs.

There is an immediate feeling of immensity on album opener “Open Skies” and the tangibility of this “bigness” caries throughout the title-track and “I Want You”, amplified by the swirl of guitars and the drone of Treanor’s ethereal vocals.  Bass lines and drums are clean and not overstated, effectively complimenting and driving forward the wash of sound enveloping them.

“Down In The Dirt” has a decidedly sludgier feel to it that fans of Philadelphia’s Nothing will appreciate and is a personal favourite, of many favourites, on the album.  Coming in at just shy of six minutes, it’s best played loud, with eyes closed and head bopping.

When listening to the “The One”, it’s not at all surprising that Treanor listed Electric Wizard as one of his favourite bands in our 21 Disarming Questions interview. It’s a dark and heavy stoner rock song, yet feels not at all out of place on Maybe Someday. Like “Down In The Dirt”, it pushes the six minute mark, but I’d welcome an extra long extended version of this one.  It’s that good.

Another shift in direction happens on “I Believe”, the most upbeat song on the album and closest to a “traditional” alternative/psych song before we slow down and slide back into the fog of “I Can’t Feel It Anymore” and “Up And Down” that fans of The Black Angels will surely enjoy.  We leave Maybe Someday with “Dreams”, an aptly-named soundscape of surreal fuzzed-out guitars, vapory vocals and keys.

Tombstones In Their Eyes manages to interlace so many sounds into Maybe Someday without defining the album as any one genre nor lose the mood set out from the album’s opening notes.  It’s a perfect balance and pace and warrants repeated play through from start to finish.

You can get Maybe Someday from the Somewherecold Records Bandcamp page on CD and digital.  Coming soon to vinyl.

Dave MacIntyre

21 DISARMING Questions for John Treanor of Tombstones In Their Eyes

Easily one of the best albums released in 2019 was Maybe Someday by Los Angeles psych shoegazers Tombstones In Their Eyes released by Somewhere Cold Records.  We’ve been fans of the band since they first caught our attention back in early 2018 with their release of their Nothing Here EP, and the new record delivers more of the noisy droning melodies we loved from the start.  Fans of The Black Angels and Nothing will definitely dig this band.

We asked vocalist and guitar player John Treanor our 21 Disarming questions about music, art and life in general.  This is what he told us.

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

John: Soundtrack of our Lives – Broken Imaginary Time

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

The Kinks (can’t remember which record, but it was from the mid-60’s with some of the great stuff on it).  Bought it at a garage sale and thought I was buying The Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour because that’s the sleeve the record was in, haha.  The 7-year-old me was very confused.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

The cool answer would be vinyl, but I am on board with digital.  I get to play my favorite music from my laptop (or the cloud, really) through a great pair of Sonos speakers via Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Pandora and my own music collection online.  So I sit and listen in the living room all day while I work. And this brings up a point about me as a music listener.  I’m really a song person; there were days when I listened to whole albums but mostly I look for the song or songs that really do it for me and then put them in a playlist (remember mix tapes? – god I loved making mix tapes).

Editors: Mix tapes were everything!

What are your favourite bands?

A lot to list.  Old Rolling Stones, Spacemen 3, Pussy Galore, Butthole Surfers, The Cramps, Black Flag, GBH, Elton John (early stuff), Aerosmith (same – early), Germs, Devo, Beach Boys, Interpol, Turbonegro, Built to Spill, The Byrds, Ministry, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Rammstein, EyeHateGod, Dandy Warhols, Metallica (early) Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co. “Newer” bands that are faves: Jesus on Heroine, Guitaro, Frankie Teardrop Dead, Power Trip, Electric Wizard, The Black Angels, Magic Shoppe, Film School (only their first ep, though), Rev Rev Rev, Chatham Rise.   I could go on and on.

Editors: The latest from Rev Rev Rev is a favourite of 2019 too!

Why do you live where you do?

Good weather, although I complain about the heat sometimes. Friends. Good music scene. Work.  Nice little house with a nice wife and 4 dogs/4 cats.

What is your favourite journey?

New York. I go at least once a year by myself to visit my friend James (who founded the band with me) and just soak it in.  I get my own place and just dig the city.  No plans, no tourist junkets, just whatever I want to do each day. Oh yeah, and comedy shows.  New York is great for comedy. 

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

No work. Time to go down to the basement and try to write a song/riff or two. A nap in the afternoon with the 4 dogs all around me. Hanging out with my wife, Karin, in the evening and watching something good.

Photo by: Cathryn Farnsworth

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

Kindle. Music. Toothbrush/toothpaste, haha.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

It was Hong Kong, but I don’t know about that now.  Maybe Japan.

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

Good coffee. People watch. Read the local papers, if I can understand the language.  Walk around and do more people watching.  Find an interesting part of town or maybe a museum.

What inspired you to take up music

Music has been critically important to me since I was very young. My father took me to see the Rolling Stones in 1975 when I was 10 and was very into music himself. Punk rock changed my life musically and opened me up to so much new music (not just punk rock, whatever that means now). I had to be around music and started little bands, managed a friends band on some tours and finally got around to learning to write songs of my own. I came into it later because I had some “substance abuse issues” standing in the way, but once I got it together enough to keep a guitar out of the pawnshop I just kept doing bands.

What was your most memorable day job?

Working at my uncle’s auto wrecking yard when I was in my late teens.  It was a crazy, lawless scene down by the border of San Diego and Baja Mexico. Full of speed freaks and weirdness.  Crazy time.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Tell my mom I wanted guitar lessons instead of piano lessons.  I still can’t play guitar worth a shit, but enough to write songs.

What should everyone shut up about?

I’m a live and let live type, just keep it out of my face, haha.

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

James Ellroy, steak at the Pacific Dining Car in downtown Los Angeles.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

I like spies, but not the James Bond type, so I’ll say George Smiley from the LeCarre novels.

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

Rolling Stones 1975, Capitol Centre, Maryland – changed my life.  Last year, Power Trip at the Regent in downtown LA. Those guys are on fire.

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

I read the NY Post and Daily News every day, haha, for my taste of NY city life, and the NY Times, LA Times, Guardian., Please Kill Me Online. Brooklyn Vegan. Slate, especially Dear Prudence. A little Daily Beast and Buzzfeed.  Digg is a good source of some excellent reads from around the web. And one of my most relaxing reads is Ask A Manager ( – I can’t explain that one. 

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

For me it’s all the music I listed earlier and the shows I saw as a kid.  Going to see the Cramps in a small hall in San Diego when I was 16, The Gun Club, Stranglers, Christian Death, Black Flag and many more shows that I can’t remember now. That stuff literally altered my mind.  And the most mind blowing day of all was when I went down to Licorice Pizza in Pacific Beach (San Diego) and picked out two records based on their covers – The Germs (GI) and Devo’s Duty Now For The Future.  My mind was blown when I played those records at home in my bedroom. The Germs were so dark and harsh and Devo just did what they do and it really opened me up to a whole new world.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

We are currently rehearsing for our first show in a while – a vinyl release show. The vinyl is coming in soon and it looks fantastic. Then, once we’re up to speed and I know the songs, haha, probably some more shows.  And at the same time, we want to record 4 more songs to put on Side 4 of our planned vinyl compilation – we’re going to take all the earlier EP’s and singles and put them together on a double record set.  Those songs deserve vinyl.  Then there is a possible rumor of a European tour but that’s more than 6 months away.

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

I would say always meet your heroes.  It’s okay if they’re dicks sometimes.

Thanks John!  Go get Maybe Someday on CD or digital download from Bandcamp today, and coming soon to vinyl.

Dave MacIntyre

Rev Rev Rev – Kykeon

Italian Shoegazers, Rev Rev Rev, have released Kykeon via Fuzz Club, a crunchy 10-track album that is as much a marriage of doomy metal and psych as it is a reverb drenched Shoegaze album.

Kykeon moves along slowly, but threateningly giving it a lava-like quality; sludgy, thick, deadly and unstoppable.  Tracks “3 not 3” and “Sealand” are great examples of this.

There are a few lighter moments. Mid-way track, “One Illusion Is Very Much Like Another” dials back the abrasive fuzz in favour of crisp guitars and unsuppressed vocals, as does “Summer Clouds”, but the menace is still there, barely hidden beneath the surface.

More “metal” moments include “Gate Of The Dark Female” that could pass for a Black Angels/Sleep collaboration, which is never a bad thing and album single “Clutching The Blade”, the fastest of Kykeon’s songs that has an early Smashing Pumpkins vibe that will guarantee repeat listens.

Kykeon is a perfect record for those that enjoy a band that can mix genres without losing cohesiveness.  Psych, Doom, Shoegaze and Alternative all play their part to keep the record fresh and interesting throughout all 10 tracks.

Buy Kykeon on CD and vinyl from Fuzz Club HERE or digital download on Bandcamp.

Dave MacIntyre

15 DISARMing Questions for Richard Millang of Bethany Curve

After a 15-year hiatus, Santa Cruz Shoegazers, Bethany Curve, have released Murder! on Kitchen Whore Records. The new record is described as “a visceral experience that draws the listener in deep towards the beating heart of the band and showcases the dynamic vocal styles of Richard Millang and Lisa Dewey”.

Bethany Curve formed in 1994. Although some members have come and gone over the years, Richard Millang and David MacWha have been there since the beginning. The band currently consists of Richard Millang (songs, vocals, guitars), Nathan Guevara (guitars), David MacWha (drums) and Lisa Dewey (vocals).

We asked Richard Millang about music, art, travel, and what’s on the near horizon for the band and this is what they told us.

What are you listening to right now?

John Maus. Specifically his last record Addendum and more specifically, the song “Dumpster Baby” and “Figured it Out”. I’m also listening to the latest Residents record, Intruders, which I like because it reminds me of my favorite Residents record, Demons Dance Alone. Other than that, David Lynch, Tame Impala, Exploded View, Odd Nosdam, Caretaker, HTRK…

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

We played a lot of Beach Boys, Doors, Mamas & Papas, at home when I was a kid but the first record I ever purchased myself was U2 Rattle and Hum in 1988. That was my prize possession until I then quickly discovered PiL, Jane’s, Siouxsie, Joy Division, Love & Rockets, etc.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

All things being equal, probably vinyl. But it also depends on the record you want to listen to. Some records just sound better on vinyl and others on CD. For example, I LOVE listening to records like Bowery Electric, Boards of Canada, Pygmalion, Black Moth on vinyl. 

What are your favourite bands?

Are you kidding me? Way too many to possibly list. Even my top of the top of the top is an impossible list. But, I’ll narrow it to the bands that had a direct impact on my music and songwriting. Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Pixies. Probably no surprises here. 

Why do you live where you do?

I live in Santa Cruz, California. It’s the Garden of Eden if you ask me. We have the ocean and beaches, giant redwood forests, more agriculture, vineyards, wineries and breweries than you can imagine. Hiking, biking, surfing. SF is about an hour away and so is Big Sur. Not a bad existence living here. 

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

An all day hike with my wife and our puppy, then an early dinner in Davenport overlooking the cliffs and ocean while sipping on Gin and Tonics. 

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

I had an amazing time in both Capri, Italy and San Sabastian, Spain last year. It ruined me! All I want to do is visit more places like that for many months at a time. Once the stress of life and work lifts off your shoulders and you just immerse yourself into the culture of these beautiful places, it’s euphoric. 

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

Immediately find the finer bars and restaurants within reasonable distance. That, and also record stores. 

What inspired you to take up music?

My parents had me in piano lessons at 4 years old. I hated it. Too much structure. Quit piano around 10. Starting really getting into bands at 12. Started playing piano again but on my terms. Songwriting on piano by ear. At 14, I realized I needed to teach myself guitar. My dad had an old Guitar Standards book by Mel Bay. I taught myself from that book. By 16 or 17, I started playing leads from the Cure, Pixies, etc by ear. Wore out a lot of cassettes. Starting writing my own songs on guitar. By 18, there was nothing that would stop me from finding or starting a band. Then started Bethany Curve with the other members at age 19. I was 20 years old when we wrote and released Skies on CD. I felt so grown up then. 

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

David Lynch. I have so…many…questions. He apparently loves quinoa and my wife makes this insane quinoa with warm apples and caramelized onion that is both sweet and savory. I’d probably pair that with a 2010 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. I hear he loves Bordeaux!

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Three come to mind. 1) Special Agent Dale Cooper, 2) Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood and 3) Captain Hawkeye Pierce from MASH. 

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

Slowdive 1994 at the Roxy in LA and Cocteau Twins 1994 at Warfield in San Francisco. Those 2 shows literally motivated me to start a band. 

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

I was at the MoMA in New York in 2017. We were on the 3rd floor or something. Installation pieces all over the place. Can’t recall the theme. I see this museum staffer, standing in the middle of the room just staring forward with no expression. I approached her wondering if maybe she’s part of the exhibit. When I got within just a few feet, I noticed a clear nylon looking string or wire that was connected to a steel disc on the floor and went all the way up to the ceiling and connected to a steel disc on the ceiling. The staffer was standing there because otherwise people would be walking into this thing. It’s invisible from 10 feet away. Once I realized this was the art piece, I had a visceral reaction. How could someone connect a clear string from the floor to ceiling and make it into MoMA as a legit piece of art? Are you kidding me??? That altered my mind you could say. 

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Basking in the glow of a record that took too many years to complete. Birthing this thing was more emotional and painful for me than any record in my past. I will say that I’m so glad it finally happened because it’s by far my favorite BC record. I’m very proud of Murder!

Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Meet. Because it humanizes them. And you could probably learn even more from what they have to say to you.

Thanks Richard!

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!

Nothing’s Transcendent Bleakness

At Lee’s Palace, NOTHING’s music erupts; it doesn’t wait to be asked, and yet it’s the antidote to what ails us and what still feels hopeless tomorrow. Because there is always a new strain, a pop musical pandemic spreading like the one we are exposed to right now. Once in a great while, once in a generation, music may upend the balance and let authenticity, rage, grief, and pure, uncut art blast through to the masses. This time is here and now. There is nowhere to go from here. Pop music’s stars with their dead eyes are more than ever, cynical, manufactured monsters. There’s no fun in pop left: it’s fascism, it’s death. It’s child abuse. Kids need to hear those minor keys and feel the vibrations from the floor of the rock club and be present. Luckily for us, in plain view of the suits, a generation of kids with moms who listened to college radio to get through the longest nights have picked up the guitars and have the sly, innate talent to B & E this rigged musical game.

Only once every few years, something comes along that vibrates the body at a primal level with the feeling of imminent danger one minute, and the flicker of impossible to believe happiness the next minute. Impossibly, this music understands you, speaks to you, slaps you in the face; turns things cinematic for a little while in your little apartment, in your little head, in your little life. For us, love’s gotta be like that: something that has those perfect layered harmonies, that revels in its human fragility, a voice or an instrument that has risen because of need and will, not because they heard they should be up on stage all their life. Maybe, sometimes, like the greatest the game has ever known, too many lost to us now, because they heard no encouragement at all. Maybe they heard nothing, except how to somehow survive, just like they did as kids. Like too many of us kids. Music like this comes from outsiders, from the self-made, from nihilists who are really brokenhearted romantics.

It spills from somewhere tough and genuinely rough, whether the poorest parts of so many American towns, The Ramones’ gritty world view of the Five Boroughs; the decaying English city so far north of the center that London cab drivers stop and ask you why you’d ever want to go there, a place the rags call “STAB CITY”, a place that feels as homey & safe as your own misunderstood rough one. Great music comes screaming out of rainy, starkly beautiful drug-addled hubs that have hidden depths of so many scarred, beautiful souls. It comes, too, from normal looking families that are secret battlegrounds for a hundred different private family reasons.

When things are dark, we each have our own private darkness. Yet, the dark nothingness is today’s shared cultural touchstone: we’ve all been sad and anxious for a really long time. It’s dark out here in the anti-social media world. Every click, every feed, contains semi-random snapshots that hold potential to delight, astound, cause a belly laugh, anger, disgust, repulse. Baby animals; kids saying the darndest things; Mommy making a Vine instead of reacting humanely to a child’s embarrassment, shame or pain; disgraceful news media showing ISIS pictures before we can agree to look; people who are shamefully wealthy and famous for nothing at all any good. But dat ass… These things all scroll by as if they are all one neutral thing, while we wonder why we can’t sleep anymore.

Music fans are either old enough to remember that new music was an event and trips to the record store a sacred ritual,  or were were born just in time to miss all that; when the last great true organic moment happened in music. For a while, the game board was smashed and 90’s Alternative music ruled, only to have it die too young, leaving a gaping shotgun hole and shoved off screen before the body was even cold, in time for the widow’s makeover for Hollywood, when punk died again and capped its teeth, to our horror. In the void left by Kurt, oppuetunistic wolves chomped down on the scraps and chaos, opening the door to worse, pop music than ever before. Hole’s kinderwhore and the Riot Grrrls, too, were gone and Britney’s glossy porn schoolgirl was the shape the world’s grief took.

But music, even then, was not yet devalued, compressed and made only to be shoved into our ear holes, enjoyed alone on our phones, stolen from digital space, an ineffective tool to survive the daily grind. In the last great Alternative wave of the 90’s, the idea that all the record stores, most of the dive bars, rock clubs and their peripheries- the shared public cigarettes at the side doors of these spaces in all the cities would disappear because of file compression technology was still dystopian Science Fiction. Its become our dull reality. It needs to be burned down. Internet and social media channels are almost all we have. Likes and shares are really less than nothing and invite both indifferent pats on the head and offer a whistling void of indifference if we don’t share a hive mind or have a cute kid or kitten to flaunt, but they’re what we have-and for now, but not forever, have replaced the real tour posters that used to flourish in a city before we were told to see them as wasted dead trees and knew them instead, as necessary, vital fuel, art actually worth buying and stealing and the only news that mattered to us in the street.

Nothing, in May 2014, were unknown to us, and this magazine did not yet exist (was just a title floating on a webpage with a couple of disjointed articles and photos). Dave was shooting a late night showcase for CMW (Canadian Music Week) and was there to see another band. CMW is a really mixed bag and tries every last nerve for devoted fans, naturally overstuffed with all the windbags of the jaded local & visiting media, who are there to gossip and bitch like old women, loudly, arms folded, in small venues while indie musicians work before a wall of indifference.  Bands gig at insane times like 3 a.m. or worse, 2 p.m. Waiting for the headliner, Dave’s expectations were upended with this strange combination of rough looking indie dudes in Depeche Mode t-shirts with Morrissey tattoos. As the wall of noise hit him, he turned, gobsmacked, to a couple of Ride or Die fans who were freaking the fuck out, up from Philly. “They’re Nothing. They’re from Philly!” And that was it, the week was over, the night was over, the schedule was over. It was the moment a photographer who became that to pursue his drug of choice, music, found The One.

NOTHING’s music, with its roots in hardcore, authentic music love and natural, raw talent, makes for a tight and exciting live show that infuses the rock club with stadium-sized energy. It knows just when to quit, leaving you wanting another hit. It hooks the listener who knows what it means to be Guilty of Everything and Who is Tired of Tomorrow. This music acknowledges it all, brings it out into the light, and transcends all of that ugly. It comes from dark places and hits us where we live. It takes the bleakness of now and makes it tolerable, even beautiful.

Real rock critics in the old days and biblical power of print could love wildly as well as pan mercilessly, but wielded their power with a deep, uncorruptable knowledge and argument for why they were doing either thing. The media is dead. Everyone’s a rock critic now. So be one. Buy into the Alternative bands you love. Spread the word. Ignore the pop vacuum, even the easy joke. Screw ironic detachment. Break something. Start a riot. Remember what it was the first time you heard The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cure, Nirvana, or Slowdive. NOTHING in 2015 is transcendent, a light flickering in its own darkness. It’s a long awaited answer to Jane’s Addiction when Summertime Fucking Rolled; the The Cure who’ve always remade genre to their own orbit and are still as dark and rich as your best ever dream despite their subversive pop hits, who bent the world.  Nothing’s music, across two albums now, still new, you can still say you were there, is an illegal fire, an uncontrolled burn to fight our endless winter chill.

Just listen.

Jacqueline Howell

Beliefs Live at The Garrison

The 16th installation of Wavelength festival featured must-see Toronto band Beliefs on Saturday night at The Garrison.  Josh Korody and Jesse Crowe formed the Dream Pop duo after meeting at a party and discovering a shared love for My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and other bands of the ’90s that still matter to so many.  They have since released a self-titled album and 2015’s brilliant follow-up Leaper, which is making great impact with friends of Step On’s in the UK.

The bitter-cold of Saturday night (the first really cold snap Toronto has had this winter) did not prevent fans from filling The Garrison, and Beliefs did not disappoint.  Accompanied by supporting musicians, the set was short but sweet including a highlight performance of wall-of-sound “Ghosts” from the Leaper release.

Listen to “Ghosts” below.  Get the rest of Beliefs releases from Hand Drawn Dracula.

Photo by Dave MacIntyre

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.

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

Dave Dupuis Talks About Life, Leisure and Nightmare Air’s Forthcoming LP



We first heard L.A. noise rockers Nightmare Air back in 2010 when they absolutely crushed the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto with a vocal and guitar assault that left our ears blissfully ringing and wanting more. In a week-long citywide festival that boasts and hosts hundreds of talented bands (Canadian Music Week) Dave Dupuis, Swaan Miller and Jimmy Lucido were the easy stand-outs.

Singer/guitarist Dave Dupuis, previously of Shoegazer greats Film School, shared with us his thoughts on music, inspirations, leisure time, and the upcoming release of the band’s newest LP with Step On Magazine.

What are your current fixations?

The speed of passing time, synths, people, sounds, trees, strangers, mountains, air, songs, green and orange, hiding eyes.

Why do you live where you do?

I live in Los Angeles. Been here for about 8 years now transplanted from Oakland by way of Seattle by ways of New Hampshire. As much as a cliché as it is, the weather is pretty amazing and the reason we are still here in L.A.  It’s very fitting for someone like myself that tours most of the year. Coming back to L.A. after a tour is always just “nice”. If you don’t get stuck in a hole, L.A. can be a great city to be in a band too. You’re surrounded by great and new talent popping up all around. L.A. is very much a choose your own adventure city. You can hide away in your house and tuck into the hills for weeks at a time and be totally happy, or you can go out and do crazy drugs with rock stars and actors…it’s all here.

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

Inspiration to actually start a band came back in the days of high school and early college.  It came from the punk and indie bands that were getting popular at the time. Seeing them as the raw/ terrible musicians they were with their raw/terrible sounding instruments, I thought if they can do it with the same crappy gear I have, I can do it too!  After a few years of making bad noise it worked out pretty well.

What advice should you have taken but did not?

I should have bought all the vintage Space Echos, vintage guitars, and synths when they were basically giving them away in Boston Music stores when I started getting into this game. They were everywhere and pennies on the dollar to what you see you now. I remember buying a sweet Korg Poly 800 synth in the early 90s for next to nothing and having these dickhead guitar dudes behind the counter laughing at me for buying it. Who’s laughing now mofo? They were too busy collecting rack gear and processors for their bullshit guitar rigs. Oh shit…now I’m starting to collect those same processors now….oh jeez, guess I’m a dickhead too?

What should everyone shut up about?

Gay marriage and smoking weed. They are both awesome.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Sun, friends, tacos, tunes, stiff cocktails, weed and maybe a cool movie before the sun goes down.

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

Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers. I got straight A’s on my report card and my mom gave me 10 bucks…I was just entranced by that damn “Karma Chameleon”. Funny full-circle to coincide with Culture Club, as I am writing this in our studio, I’m sitting under a 4 x 4 foot painted portrait of Boy George.  Jimmy Lucido (greatest drummer of all time), acquired it from a roommate who left it at a shared apartment a handful of years ago. That Boy George has been staring at us the past couple months as we’ve been making this current record. I wonder what that has done subliminally to these new tunes.

What was your most memorable day job?

It’s a toss up between painting fire hydrants in a small beach town in New Hampshire when I was 19 or in high school when I worked at Chuck E Cheese’s and wore the mouse costume. The costume job was pretty fun actually. I was a big skateboarder at the time and because of that they sent me around to local fairs and events with the sole purpose to just cruise around on my board in a 6 foot mouse costume.

How do you spoil yourself?

I buy way too many things that make noises. I for sure have a gear acquisition problem, especially when it’s record making time. If I think I may be able to use it I just buy it….the credit card companies’ love me.

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

Street tacos w/ Hendrix.

What is your favourite 90’s band(s)?

Tough one…but probably Swervedriver, Jane’s Addiction, Archers of Loaf, Quicksand, Superchunk…

What is your favourite journey?

To new unknown places with friends and guitars.

What is your current mood?

Amped for the new record/tunes. We spent most of this past July recording in Ireland at a really cool destination studio called Grouse Lodge. We came back in August with a good framework for the record, but had to leave almost immediately for another tour. Back in L.A. now buckling down, getting settled with some wild sounds and taking the remainder to the finish line. I’m looking forward to sharing our new children with the world next year.

What person or thing do you most despise?

Right wing bigots and closed-minded bible thumping fucktards.

What is your favourite occupation?

Being a musician.

What should people know about you?

I shattered my skull in a mosh pit when I was 19 and still have wires in my head.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Finishing the album and all that goes along with that, getting the live show together and earning money in the middle. I have a few work tours with Gary Numan coming up in the New Year that I’m beginning to focus on now. As well as play and tour with Nightmare Air, I tour manage and do front of house sound for different bands/artists.  I’ve been on tour with Gary Numan a lot in the past couple years or so, a truly amazing person to work with. A lot of his new music leans to full on industrial, full range sounds which has been really fun and inspiring to mix live and loud…perhaps why I’ve been buying up a bunch of random synths lately!?

Favourite TV shows/streaming shows?

Today…Game of Thrones, True Detective…and I just finished Mad Men. Was in and out of Mad Men over the years but thought the ending was great.

Who or what makes you laugh?

When I decide I won’t wear all black one day and immediately spill coffee down the front of my white shirt….and of course when you see a person walk full stride into glass doors not knowing there was a door there. I’ve done it too many times to mention so I can laugh without apology to the people that do it.

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

A month long boat trip in the Mediterranean on a large catamaran.  Love that sea. We were lucky enough to do that last summer for a couple of weeks with some friends after Nightmare Air played a festival in Greece. Greece has some of the best food, people and beaches out there.  I want more Greek island time in my life.

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

I’ve had the chance to play some of the coolest and most iconic stages in rock history alongside some of my heroes. That in itself is a win and I hope it continues. But really, just being able to live off rock and roll after all these years is an achievement. Definitely feel like I’m winning this round.

By Dave MacIntyre

Lend An Ear: Shoegazers we’re listening to – Part 15

LendAnEarWe’ve got a new Shoegazer playlist up featuring some pretty amazing songs.  A few of these have been on a looping repeat in the Step On household.  That is when we haven’t been playing Suede songs!

This playlist features Valet, Forsaken Autumn, SeaDance, No Climate, GrowHouse, The Snowy Owls, The Ambient Light, Softt, Eerie Glue, and Rancho Relaxo.


Dave MacIntyre

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