Suicide Helpline are the perfect band for the modern world. They are unapologetically honest and critical of society’s moral and social decay. This awareness is reflected in the quality of their lyrics and music. It’s a style that effortlessly blends the attitude of late 70’s punk by mixing it with post-punk sensibilities and coupling the flair of glam, but with the infectious pick up of two-tone ska. Other groups that are link minded are The Clash, The Stranglers and Newtown Neurotics.
Suicide Helpline released their latest album Re:Generation in June 2020. Much like their previous release Pink Jazz in 2016, this album continues their deceleration of punk-fueled rebellion against a world plagued by apathy and despair. Songs like “I’m So Sick Of This Generation,” “Don’t Really Want To Die,” and “Live In Poverty” brilliantly demonstrate these ideals.
Unfortunately, it would seem Re:Generation found itself ill-fated to be released during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Like many groups worldwide, Suicide Helpline has been affected by the collapse of musical entertainment and the subsequent health mandated restrictions. The result is Suicide Helpline has not performed since March 2020. To find out how they’ve been coping since Covid 19 spread across the world I caught up with Logan and Kevin. We chatted about their new album Re:Generation, playing shows and life during the Pandemic.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline started as a one band recording project. After releasing the debut album Ready To Die in 2013, the band took shape in 2015. What inspired the creation of Suicide Helpline?
Logan: It was part of a series of projects I was doing at the time, different bands doing different time periods of music. Suicide Helpline was obviously ’77 Punk, and it caught on the most with people I knew who were interested in live music.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline boasts various styles of 1970’s influenced punk with the glitter from glam rock, while adding some heavy post punk sensibilities. What are you all drawing from to create Suicide Helpline’s sound?
Logan: Well it was unintentional at first, the term “glam punk” didn’t come about until after our first album Pink Jazz was out. We were just trying to make honest original classic punk music, uninhibited by the ’90s. But we noticed some Bowie and things bleeding through though accidentally, which is my fault as a songwriter.
NixBeat: When I’ve messaged Suicide Helpline through Facebook, your automatic message advertises imalive.org. Can you elaborate on what that site is and why you are supporting it?
Logan: It’s 24 hours and always has someone to actually talk to. That seems essential for someone looking for an actual outlet. We wanted to make sure that anyone looking for live support in an actual crisis had it, that is very important to us.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline released Pink Jazz on April 25, 2017. The cover art of Pink Jazz invokes the image of a hand that has been recently sexually stimulating a vagina. Is that intentional and if so, what prompted this particular imagery?
Logan : The image was shot before the album title was chosen. I had the idea for the picture and then pitched it to the band as an album cover and we came up with the album title from there. Honestly though, it was only supposed to upset your parents like classic punk album covers always seemed to try to.
NixBeat: One of my favorite tracks from Pink Jazz is “Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life.” I found it to be a bit foreboding and describing a monotonous life of privilege. What are you drawing from for this track?
Logan: That was written in the middle of the White Guilt Crisis of the mid-2010s, which I think was a very important step for society. I wanted so badly to shut up, but that song is what happened instead. It ended up being a pretty honest and bleak portrait. I’m not proud of it.
Logan: Is it ok to say that war is ‘antiquated’? Is that acceptable to say in America?
NixBeat: On June 7, 2020 Suicide Helpline released Re:Generation. What was working on this album like and how has the reception been to it?
Logan: Releasing an album in the middle of the worst health crisis in modern history has been a terrible idea. We sold less than 10 copies of the album. Working on it was fun though, we recorded it before anything had happened and the sessions had a very ’70s feel to them, we recorded a lot of it live off the floor.
NixBeat: The track “I’m So Sick of This Generation” seems pretty straight forward song. It laments a certain frustration towards a specific generation. What inspired this song?
Logan: I’m really worried that this song brought ABOUT the health crisis. I think I wished the world away. I’m honestly really sorry if that’s the case. If I wrote this now, it would be called “I Really Miss My Generation”. Making this music video as four individual people trapped in their own houses was an adventure though.
NixBeat: The track “Live In Poverty” has a kind of definitive SKA pick up to it. It’s a song that seems oddly appropriate for many people dealing with the consequences of the Covid 19 Pandemic. What are you drawing from “Live In Poverty?”
Logan: Yeah maybe that is way more relevant now, but at the time it was merely about abandoning wealth and stability, in exchange for art.
NixBeat: A particular favorite track on Re:Generation is “Don’t Really Want To Die.” Despite the name of this track It’s got a kind of upbeat feel to it that comes heavily from its’ SKA infused with punk sound. What’s the background with this song?
Logan: This song seemed way too positive and upbeat almost, but I’m glad it’s included at the end of the album. It provides much needed levity to an otherwise very heavy downward spiral of subjects. And especially since we released this album during the health crisis, this seemed like a good choice.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline has played with numerous groups over the years. Who has been your favorite group to play with and why?
Kevin: Opening for Stiff Little Fingers was surreal. Those shows still feel like a dream to me. Playing with Laurice was an absolute riot, it was inspiring to see him in his 70s still being his strange and wonderful self. Mad Caddies were a ton of fun, and it was a trip hearing from 90s-punk dudes in the crowd about how much our tights and makeup threw them off. Teenage Bottlerocket, Fashionism and The Jolts were some other highlights … I feel like I’m just namedropping now, but it’s a hard question.
Honestly, some of the funnest shows were the Rockin’ 4 Dollars nights at Buckingham in Edmonton. They’d have a bunch of bands play short sets with covers, so we really got to let loose and the crowds were great. We did tribute sets as the New York Dolls and the Stooges, and also covered songs by NOFX, The Chemical Brothers, the Proclaimers, the Chats and Cyndi Lauper.
NixBeat: How has the members of Suicide Helpline dealt with the Covid 19 Pandemic?
Kevin: I moved to a farm in BC. I really miss practicing and performing, but we hadn’t jammed since March because of the restrictions, so I don’t know how much physical location matters anymore. I think, like all performers, we’re figuring out how to adjust to a world without sweaty clubs and sing-alongs. But we did the “I’m So Sick Of This Generation” video in total isolation as Logan mentioned, and he turned that into a really unique piece of art. So I have hope that we can work on more virtual projects in creative ways.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has affected artists and venues alike. With many closing and artists unable to preform. How has the pandemic affected the music community in Edmonton, Alberta?
Logan: It has disassembled our local music scene for the foreseeable future. All venues are closed and currently people are isolated to houses and unable to play music together. We’re hoping recorded music somehow keeps our small scene alive.
NixBeat: What’s coming up next for Suicide Helpline?
Logan: Well hopefully by the time this pandemic is over, music will have in some way restructured itself or be in the process of a brave new frontier, post-apocalypse. We’d love to be a part of the rebuilding, but right now, we have no idea what the future looks like.
Since 2018, The Speedways have serenaded rock n’ rollers blinded by the lure of hopeless romanticism. These anthems of youthful heartache are inspired by Matthew Julian’s experience with a “beautiful girl.” Subsequently, this music is brought to life by with the infectious nature of a late 1970’s punk sound twisting into the warm embrace of the forever longing and an ever personal power pop style. This masterful composition approach falls directly in line with groups like Protex, The Nerves, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and even The Ronettes.
The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. Their first record Just Another Regular Summer was written and recorded by Matthew Julian, with the help of Dec Burns. The definitive power pop sounds that came from Just Another Regular Summer (released May 27, 2018) quickly gained notoriety. Matt was soon asked by Mauro Venegas to perform for his Some Weird Sin’s special event Power Pop Weekender in 2018.
To make the performance a reality, Mauro, Adrian Savio and Kris Hood joined the band. Over the last couple years The Speedways have performed countless gigs, toured and recorded new material. They have released three singles and the highly anticipated follow up to Just Another Regular Summer, Radio Sounds, on June 29, 2020.
While Radio Sounds was well received critically, The Speedways were unfortunately unable to celebrate the release because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Despite the setback, The Speedways remain vigilant and have enjoyed popular attention to their records.
On October 17, 2020, The Speedways made a special appearance for Some Weird Sin’s 8th Anniversary Party at Paper Dress Vintage. However, after a lockdown order was put in place, that performance may be their last for 2020. To find more about how The Speedways are doing, I chatted with them about releasing a record during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the evolution from Just Another Regular Summer into Radio Sounds, playing their possible last performance of 2020 and more.
NixBeat: The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. In the bands bio on Facebook The Speedways sound is suggested to be a more personal take on Power Pop, blending elements of Tom Petty, Phil Spector and The Exploding Hearts. What inspired you to write, record and release Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: The entire Just Another Regular Summer album (and most of Radio Sounds) was inspired by a beautiful girl. If you take someone on a date to Joe Meeks flat it’s gonna end up in a song (even if “they wouldn’t let us go inside”) But then I got a bit carried away and wrote enough songs about her to make an album (well, two albums). My mate has a little home studio in Nottingham and I recorded it there with him. There were no plans to release it but after I put it on bandcamp I had a few labels contact me. The Diana Dors LP artwork (by my mate Josh) was the icing on the cake. I really love the album.
NixBeat: I understand that the Speedways first concert was to perform at the London club night Some Weird Sin. After accepting Some Weird Sin cofounder Mauro Venegas (The Godfathers, Johnny Cola and The A Grades, Miscalculations) along with Adrian Alfonso (Dead Meat) and Kris Hood (More Kicks, Los Pepes) joined the band. What has it been like to collaborate with this all star cast?
Matthew: It’s been brilliant. I think we’re really well suited and compliment one another in a way that a band should. Of course everyone can play but there’s also a great attitude towards it. We’re all on the same page with the music and presentation which is important. As Mauro once said, the line-up kinda picked itself really, the obvious choices all came onboard. We’ve done a lot in the relatively short time we’ve been going. I reckon we’re a great little band. And yep, the very first gig was for the ‘Some Weird Sin – Power Pop Weekender 2018’ .. off the back of one and a half rehearsals.
NixBeat: Matt, in an interview with Veglam.com published on July 7th 2020 you mentioned that years ago you frequently visited Some Weird Sin. While attending you had “found your people” after hearing groups like Protex, Hanoi Rocks and The Ronettes. Would you expand on why Some Weird Sin had that impact on you?
Matthew: Five years or so back I was feeling pretty stale and fed up so I began hopping on a train down to London on a regular basis. I’m a record collector and ended up making a few pals who worked in the record shops in Camden. I knew a bit about the scene and had seen the Ten O Sevens a couple of times but I didn’t really know anyone. Anyway, I ended up at Some Weird Sin one night and I met Mauro and Simon who I got on really well with. They were DJ’ing great tunes and the live bands were cool so I went again the following month, and then again the next etc.. Everyone seemed really sound and would get you a beer in. Some of the first people I got to know were Kris, Liam and Bobby from the band Scraps. Liam was at a Shannon & The Clams show in Hackney and he asked me “when are you next in town?” and I said, I’m gonna go to the Crazy Squeeze gig in Camden and he was like “mate, I’m putting that gig on. I’ll list you” ..and that ended up being the first time I met Adrian. The seeds of a power pop fairytale had been well and truly sown.
NixBeat: The Speedways have performed with many notable acts, such as The Briefs, Protex, Baby Shakes and Nikki Corvette. What has been your favorite band to play with and why?
Adrian: I’d personally say Baby Shakes as they’ve been there since day one and it’s always a party with them.
Mauro: Let’s not forget Giuda! Hard to pick from any of the ones you’ve mentioned though, as they’ve all become lasting friendships, which is fantastic.
Matthew: It was nice to play with them all! Baby Shakes have been mates since they first visited the UK and we just hit it off. They’re a great band and great pals. Protex are a big influence on everyone who plays this style of music, I listened to them a lot when I made the first album so it was so cool when Aiden contacted me to say how much he loved it. The Briefs are one of the best live bands around for sure, Pascal booked our first mini tour of Germany and has been extremely supportive of our music. Nikki is a legend and it was a thrill to play guitar for her. I like to think the Speedways are now her fulltime UK Corvettes! She was great. on top of that, Tommy & The Commies were a personal fave and we’ve opened for The Zeros too who were ace.
NixBeat: What are some of your favourite London bands to play with?
Matthew: I’d have to say The Kinks.
Mauro: Haha that one’s even harder! I guess we’ve played with Lucy & the Rats a couple of times and they’re cool.
NixBeat: My favourite track off Just Another Regular Summer is “Reunion In The Rain” What influenced you to write this song?
Matthew: It’s my favourite too. It’s about hoping the day comes that you get to see her again in real life instead of just in your dreams. It rains during the reunion, because it would wouldn’t it? ..but who’d care? It’s influenced by longing. Musically it’s a kinda Ronettes meets Ramones thing. I can hear Ronnie singing it. I’d love her to sing it.
Matthew: Mauro suggested it. We only had one album out at the time & we needed a cover for the live set to flesh things out a bit. We’d done “Back Of my Hand” by The Jags a couple of times and even though we did it really well it felt a bit obvious. “They Don’t Know” is a great choice because it’s a song we all love and it kinda fits with what we are as a band, but it’s also a little unexpected too. It ended up on the b-side because we needed one, and because we do a decent version. The plan was to do a video for the A and B side of the single, but Kris broke his wrist so we were unable to record the video for “Seen Better Days” ..hence why there’s a video for the B side and not the A side!
Mauro: I just thought it would suit us and be interesting to have it sung from a male perspective, as it’s a traditionally “female” song. I like how live it comes out a bit more Replacements-y.
NixBeat: What was the process like writing and recording Radio Sounds? How was it different than the work you did with Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: A fair few of the songs on Radio Sounds I’d already written around the time of Just Another Regular Summer. I also dug into my song book for older tunes like “This Aint A Radio Sound” and “Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts” ..then there were new songs that I wrote as a response to the first album – “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young..,” “Daydreaming,” “Brown Eyes Look So Blue..,” “This Is About Girl Who Loves The Sun” etc.. So the writing process was more varied than the first record. Obviously with it being a full band this time there was a collaborative effort in terms of arrangement and individual parts which definitely gave the songs more of a band vibe than before. It’s much more satisfying as a song writer to hear other musicians play and interpret your stuff than to do everything yourself. It makes such a difference. Everyone contributed brilliantly in the studio too (including Jez who produced the album). I enjoyed making it & working with everyone. It turned out really well. A step up in quality for sure.
NixBeat: Radio Sounds was released in June 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic. How has Radio Sounds been received?
Matthew: It’s been received really well, but of course it’s been tough. Like all bands at our level you have your online sales and your gig sales, but there have been no gig sales this year for obvious reasons. I’d say we’ve definitely gone up a level in terms of interest in the band though. Our biggest market in physical record sales has been America again, which is a killer for the buyer because postage costs are insanity, but it’s so great to have fans over there. We’ve done good business in Spain, Scandinavia, UK, Japan and Australia too. People seem to really like it. The pandemic has delayed a few overseas orders of course, so there has been the odd refund and late arrival, but overall it’s gone pretty smooth considering. We’ve had a lot of radio, blog and magazine support which we appreciate so much. It really does help get the word out, especially during this time.
NixBeat: What were you drawing from whilst writing “Kisses Are History?” Tell me about the song.
Matthew:I wrote an early version of it for Just Another Regular Summer ..I had the phrase “once you were a mystery but now your kisses are history” – but the verse lyrics were a bit too self pitying and I couldn’t get beyond that. I wanted it to build gradually to a crescendo like “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison, which I absolutely love (I might steal that technique in the future tbh). Also, I already had a song with the word kiss in the title (“One Kiss Can Lead To Another”) so I shelved it. A few years later when I was writing for Radio Sounds I thought I’d give it another go, so I made it a bit more self confident this time around – “I should have been the one.” I also added some bitterness at the end of the chorus – “if all this was meant to be then so much for love.” It ended up being the first single from the album. Mauro wrote a beautiful guitar solo for it. Never give up on songs that aren’t working out!
NixBeat: What’s the story behind the track “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young”?
Matthew: It’s partly fictional and partly real. The main ‘story’ in the song is wondering if the interesting new person you’ve met could be “something” but then you see her on the 29 bus with her significant other. It’s disappointing but it doesn’t really matter because you’re still in love with the girl in silver shoes in any case. “In a world without love it’s hard to stay young” means it’s hard to have the optimism and positivity of youth if you don’t have love and companionship. It was the last song I wrote for the album and it took ages to finish. The original chorus was really wordy “I fell in love with a girl that I used to know, I was Johnny Ramone and she was Brigitte Bardot, then they all lined up to steal her heart away, a kiss off the back of a few stolen words is a drop in the ocean for bees & for birds, now maybe the bad times will do me some good but in a world without love it’s hard to stay young” I changed it to “I fell in love with a girl wearing silver shoes” repeat x3! Much more impact and less corny! I find lyrics really tough but I’m better at self editing than I used to be. I really like this song. It’s great to play live and it’s the perfect album closer.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has seen much of the music world stop in it’s tracks. With bands halting tours and performances, and even many venues closing their doors, how has life been during this for The Speedways?
Mauro: I reckon we’ve taken the bull by the horns in some ways – we’ve kept busy in as much as we’ve been physically able to (even harder with Matt living in a different town to the rest of us), but we’ve been productive lately, shooting videos, recording sessions and even playing live, of course.
Matthew: Yeah, it’s tough in the sense I live up in the Midlands and the rest of the lads are down in London, but we’ve done as much as we possibly can under the circumstances. We went over five months without seeing each other or doing anything, but in August we had a rehearsal, then in September we filmed a couple of videos and recorded a live set for radio, in October we played a show and in November we’ve got a day booked in the studio.. so that’s a decent run. It’s been a fucking rotten year for everyone though of course.
NixBeat: During the Covid 19 Pandemic Bandcamp has had an all sales go directly to artists on the first Friday of the month. What do you think of Bandcamp’s event and has it benefited sales of Speedways records and merchandise?
Matthew: We’ve done ok from it. A few people have been kind enough to order stuff on those particular Fridays. We still need to get some more merchandise done actually. There isn’t any Radio Sounds stuff because obviously we haven’t been able to tour or anything.
NixBeat: On October 17th 2020 The Speedways performed their first show since the onset of Covid 19 in March 2020. The show was to celebrate Some Weird Sin’s 8th birthday party at Paper Dress Vintage. The show emphasized certain restrictions like social distancing and being seated.What was performing this show like in the era of Covid 19?
Mauro: It was GREAT to play live again! I think we’d all really missed that buzz. We only managed to get together to rehearse once, but it seems like we all know the songs still, so that’s something! I found I got used to the audience being seated pretty quick, to be honest they were still more lively than some of the London crowds we’d played to before all this anyway, haha!
Adrian: It was a bit stressful given the recent lockdown coming into place, but playing was fun. It was nerve racking to see the seats but once the stage lights go on and the drunk audience start hollering it’s pretty familiar.
Matthew: I really enjoyed it. I mean, obviously the restrictions and limitations were frustrating but after a few beers it didn’t really matter! It was cool to play with the guys again and great to see friends who we hadn’t seen since at least March ffs! We played “Empty Pages” for the first time live which was something I’d been looking forward to. I liked playing two sets in one night actually. Very old school!
NixBeat: What does the future hold for The Speedways?
Matthew: What does the future hold for anyone right now? It’s a tough one to answer. We plan to put one last single out from the Radio Sounds LP pretty soon. Long term of course it’s difficult to say, I mean in theory we’d wanna tour and gig as much as possible, but we’ll have to wait & see. I’ve struggled to write during Covid. Rather than being inspired by the dead time I’ve been stifled and disillusioned by it. My songs are about feelings and personal experiences. Those things have been in short supply during 2020. I probably shouldn’t end on a negative! ..so with my glass half full I’ll say 2021 will be our year and we’ll be able to get back to doing what we love.
As a record collector, Glyn Bowen has always had an ear for interesting ,and hard to get. He comes from comes from a rich musical history. This is largely thanks to the influences of his parents, broadcasts from pirate radio stations, and religiously attending gigs and music festivals. In recent years, Bowen took the next step to share his passion with the world, by founding Hyperloop Records.
Hyperloop Records has steadily become renowned for their reissues. It’s a label that places an emphasis on reissues of garage rock, surf and psych records. Through Hyperloop Records, these gems are given new life and made affordable. Pressed as 7” records, they are perfect for the DJ and collector alike. Among the growing catalogue of records includes songs by Ruperts People, The Quests and Art Guy.
The newest release to join this impressive catalogue is Sunshine Theatre’s“Mountain.” It was reissued on October 23,2020. To learn more about Hyperloop Records, I caught up with Bowen and chatted about his passion for record collecting, founding his label and what records we can expect to be given new life thanks to his label.
NixBeat: As record collector since the age of 11, you say that have not lost the love for the 7” record. What attracts you to this format?
Bowen: Probably as this was the first format I owned as a youngster. Whilst there were LP’s. In the house at the time they were likely easier to handle!
NixBeat: In a previous conversation we discussed that your parents influenced your music taste. They introduced you to the Beatles through the “For Sale” LP via Dansette Record player. What other groups did they introduce you to?
Bowen: My father was into most types of Jazz. He really liked Benny Goodman ,Count Basie, Duke Ellington. My mother liked female singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Dionne Warwick, Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughn, and Billie Halliday.
NixBeat: You have attained quite the collection of the Dansette record players. Why do have such the soft spot for them?
Bowen: Ahh yes the collection of old record players. I let a collection go some years ago, but I keep finding them. It is pure nostalgia really. I still like to play 60’s 45’s on them just to get an idea of how they would have sounded at the time. I am slowly getting better at repairing them now. I love the smell too!
NixBeat: Growing up, you were exposed to the Pirate Radio Radio Luxembourg. How did this experience shape your musical upbringing?
Bowen: My father was in the forces and I was shipped off to boarding school. Luckily I had a small pocket transistor radio with a single earpiece and you could just about pick up Luxembourg. I remember Rob Jones and Tony Prince DJ’s.
NixBeat: What do you find has changed about accessing music since the days of listening to Radio Luxembourg?
Bowen: Accessing music today is so easy compared to then. You can pretty much immerse yourself in every music style from all over the world in a couple of clicks. I think YouTube is one of the best inventions of the modern world.
NixBeat: You’ve mentioned you’ve spent time going to gigs and festivals. What has been your favorite gig to date?
Bowen: As regards gigs and festivals. I used to go and see lots of rock bands in my teenage years—UFOScorpions, Gillan, Girlschool Hawkwind and Thin Lizzy. Then into bands like U2, Big Country, Alarm, and Big Audio Dynamite. I missed out on lots of punk bands but did manage to see Joe Strummer and the Latino Rebel War. I have to say that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard on a boat called The Thekla in Bristol harbour was memorable. His was just before they were getting big so to see them in a small venue was great.
NixBeat: Hyperloop Records was formed in to coincide with the release of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s Polygondwanaland. How did this partnership come to be and what inspired the creation of Hyperloop Records?
Bowen: I was buying lots of King Gizzard albums from their Flightless Label in Australia and one night I thought I would check out if they had any new releases coming out. I found out they had a new LP but they were giving it away free to anyone who wanted to release it. I had recently seen an advert for a chap who had a lathe cutting machine 345.RPM in the UK. I got in touch with him and got 50 copies “Cut”. I got a printer to make me a small run of sleeves, had some posters/photos made .I had always wanted to write sleeve notes but my desktop publishing skill are terrible ,so I wrote all the lyrics and credits by hand. All my releases so far still owe a huge debt to the kindness of the Aussie boys by giving away this album to the masses . I was also buying Carlo Vivary King Gizzard Posters, who gave me permission to use one of his images for the centre label. For his assistance I commissioned him to do the cover for The Bit A Sweet 45.
NixBeat: Where did the name Hyperloop come from?
Bowen: The name Hyperloop came about when Phil Macy from the Lathe cutting service asked me what my label was called, it had not given much thought up until then. I was watching CNN and at that moment a film was being made about a new transport system called Hyperloop, I thought that sounded good so I borrowed it from Elon Musk!
NixBeat: Since Hyperloop reissues obscure releases of 1960’s music on a 7” format, what kind of clientele does Hyperloop Records attract?
Bowen: I think most of my customers seem to be DJ’s from all across the globe, then record collectors who like me just can’t afford the original versions and would like the chance to spin them at home.
NixBeat: Since 2016 Hyperloop Records has released several 45s since 2017. These include Ruperts People, The Quests and Art Guy. What criteria do you look for when choosing a record to reissue?
Bowen: My golden rule about choosing the songs is a simple one. I really have to love it, it has to be love and first listen, sometimes it is love within the first few notes. I then explore the availability and then access databases to try and find the rights owners etc.
Bowen: I was lucky enough to find the rights holders to Rupert’s People “Dream on My Mind”, a UK company called Angel Air. The chap who ran it was really helpful and full of great advice. A few signatures on a licensing agreement and a payment I was away.
NixBeat: Have you encountered any complications with reissuing records?
Bowen: I was pretty naive when it came to licensing before the Rupert’s People 45 and did run into some problems with my previous release The Paragons/Snapshots split 45. I did register the release with MCPS/PRS but should have made a bigger attempt to contact the owners of the “master” recordings. I did however make it clear on my sales adverts for the owners to contact me. I made my peace with Danny Huntley from the Paragons .He was kind enough to sign a few copies for me. I had to write a very apologetic letter to the Sony Corporation regarding The Snapshots .I have to say it was the best lesson I have learnt and serves as great reminder to do things more thoroughly in the future.
NixBeat: The Art Guy “Where You Gonna Go” reissue has a certain condition of agreement with Art Guy to not have “Teenage Millionaire” on the b-side. What prompted this decision?
Bowen: As regards the Art Guy “Where You Gonna Go” and the flipside “Teenage Millionaire.” I don’t think Art Guy ever liked the song and was not taken with his drumming on that track. It was also co penned by Dorinda Morgan ( Original Beach Boys Producer) which would have caused difficulties with licensing perhaps.
NixBeat: To date Hyperloop Records has released six records. What has been your most popular release so far and why do you think that is?
Bowen: “Where You Gonna Go” has been my most popular release by way of sales within the first few weeks, having said that The Quests “Shadows in the Night” is doing really well. I have not many copies left of either. I have unfinished business with The Quests, they have a song called “That’s My Dream” which was originally planned as a 45 but due to the Vietnam War and college commitments it never happened. I aim to put that right very soon.
NixBeat: What future records can readers expect to come from Hyperloop Records?
Bowen: Also in the pipeline is another love affair which I have been having for some time. The band were called Sunshine Theatre from Wales UK. The song is called “Mountain.” I owe a debt to Oscar Richt aka Oscarowski for putting some outstanding songs on You Tube, without him I would not have ever heard this. I come from a Welsh background so I am pleased to be able to release this one. Also in the pipeline is another garage fuzz song, Backgrounds“Day Breaks At Dawn.” I am also having a conversation with Ted Munda from The Enfields regarding a few of his songs. I have also got another iron in the fire but I am keeping that one close to my chest for now.
For over 30 years Reverend Beat-Man has practiced and preached the gospel of blues trash. His gospel is not limited by the decadence of sex and drugs; rather it’s a philosophy that celebrates rock n’ roll and how it bridges cultural divides to connect people in a worldwide community. For Beat-Man, rock n’ roll music provides the same power of belonging that helped break down walls for American black and white teenagers in the mid-20th century. Furthermore, he believes that rock n’ roll is not just for the fashion rockers or mods. It’s for people who see that rock n roll was and still is a relevant, worldwide music revolution. Beat-Man says, “It’s a music for old and young, for black and white, for everybody and it’s not polka or Mozart. It’s now music.”
Throughout his life, Beat-Man has been a lifelong devotee to the musical world. As a musician his relentless touring and out of this world performances leave a mark on all who witness them. Not only that, but he also runs his own label for like-minded music fanatics. Beat-Man founded Voodoo Rhythm Records in 1992 and has since then provided a home for the strange and risky music not likely to air on the pop-centric controlled radio stations of the world. Some impressive and unique acts to be found on Voodoo Rhythm Records include The Jackets,The Sex Organs, ET Explore Me, The Giant Robots,and The Devils.
His passion for the weird and obscure also fuels his record collecting. Armed with a storied library of records, Beat-Man occasionally DJ;s at bars and venues. His sets vary from Rhythm & Blues groovers to music more on the eclectic side. He hopes that his selections of music will introduce inspiring sounds to patrons looking to explore music through another dimension. “I know people want to party and they want to dance, drink and get wasted, fuck on the toilette.” Beat-Man says, ““I’ve had that so many times I want something different. So, I make strange music DJ sets.” During these DJ nights, one can hear bands such as The Shags, Yoko Ono, Free Jazz or even Talk records from the 1920’s. When not DJing venues, Beat-Man posts his sets on his Mixcloud.
Beat-Man’s talents for music really shines when he performs, such as playing as a solo artist, with the Monsters, collaborating with NicoleIsobel Garcia and more recently recording with the one-time project Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave. With The New Wave, Beat-Man released the one time album Blues Trash in 2018 through Voodoo Rhythm Records.
Blues Trash combines many different sounds and genres within its grooves. Some tracks betray recognizable notions of primitive garage punk. Other songs carry styles invoking a distinct layering of darkness with the emotional heaviness of the real folk-blues.
The process for recording the new record provided a challenge for the musicians involved. Prior to recording, Beat-Man had all the songs written and ready to go. All he needed to complete the project was a backing band. To complete this album, he assembled a group comprised of some of his favorite musicians. They were Mario Batkovic, a classically trained accordionist, the drummer Julian Sartrius, and the multi-instrumentalist Resli Burri.
The rest of the band were not privy to the material before recording. Beat-Man wanted them to feel it out as they went along. “I wanted to see what they do with what I give them,” Beat-Man says, “I gave ourselves two or three takes, but first I played it with my guitar only. I explained them what’s going on in this song and told them the feeling that you have to get if you hear that song.”
Songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “Then We All Gonna Die” stand out on the album. “I’ve Had Enough” is a kind of political song. Beat-Man was influenced by being fed up with the constant bombarded of ads from politicians and insurance companies trying to sell him something. Beat-Man says, “One day I just had enough. After over 53 years living in such a profit-oriented community as we are living in, one day you just see this is all a big lie.”
“Then We All Gonna Die” is a song Beat-Man spent 15 years writing and re-writing. It’s meant to be a kind of hymn sung from the perspective of Sensenmann. In the song, Sensenmann sings about what their victims did wrong in their lives. The mood of the song is heavy, with a kind of apocalyptic tone , mixing with a folk-blues trash feel.
To promote Blues Trash and Baile Bruja Muerto—an album he worked on with Nicole Isobel Garcia—Beat-Man embarked on several tours between 2018 and 2019. Beat-Man is no stranger to hitting the road to perform. His dedication to his music has taken him beyond the snowy mountains of Switzerland and all over the word. He says, “I want to explore, I want to see the world and the connections we all people have with each other.” Historically the Swiss are known for remaining isolated; however Beat-Man seeks to move past the limitations of national borders and meet others who are like-minded.
In April 2018, Beat-Man played Slovenly Recordings Debauch-A-Reno, as well as touring the United States. On April 22nd, 2018 Beat-Man and Isabel Nicole Garcia graced Salt Lake City, Utah. Beat-Man appreciated that Salt Lake City was kind of familiar to his home country. “I first thought, ‘I’m in Switzerland.’ It’s all very clean and people are pretty organized—even the homeless looked kinda healthy.” He says, “It’s small and probably everybody knows everybody. I like that. It opens your own horizon in your musical taste if you know people from the electro or hardcore or art scene.”
The show itself was a welcome surprise. The Garage On Beck had a pleasant feel of authenticity for Beat-Man. He says, “It was a club what the European American Fans try to rebuild in Europe but mostly fail.” However, what struck him most about the show was the opening acts, Jacob T. Skeen and Los YaYaz. “There were two opening bands. First there was a One Man band, that was fucking amazing— very unique sound and great songs” says Beat-Man. “Then the garage fuck ups from Los YaYaz . They were super cool. Just like garage punk has to be. They are terrible on the instruments and they love rock n’ roll.”
The remainder of 2018 was busy with gigs and touring. This constant playing extended into 2019 when Beat-Man found himself playing with psychobilly outfit The Monsters for another Slovenly Recordings event. This time for the We’re Loud Festival in Vietnam. The Monsters are bit different from the New Wave or his collaboration with Nicole Isobel Garcia. They are a trash rock n’ roll band, with a primitive-bluesy, yet with sonic-splitting abrasive sound. Think of them boasting a wild, caveman stomp psychobilly style, but with definitive blues trash flair.
The festival was a hit. Although rock n’ roll was admittedly not as popular in Vietnam, there were many local acts to play the festival. They included hardcore and metal bands from Vietnam and Indonesia. “This was a blast.” Beat-Man says, “Pete from Slovenly tried to attract as many local persons as possible.”
After a brief tour in Japan with The Cavemen, Beat-Man was back in Switzerland. Not long after, the Covid 19 pandemic began occurring worldwide and lockdowns began happening in cities all over. Keenly aware of the worsening pandemic in Italy, the Swiss government quickly acknowledged that without a cure for the virus, measures needed to be taken. On March 19, 2020, a lockdown order was issued for the Swiss population.
While the population was ordered to be sheltered, the Swiss National TV began reaching out to local musicians to participate in the Living Room Showcase series. Beat-Man says, “It was a job from the Swiss National TV, they told me and many other Pop Starlets and mainstream Artists in Switzerland to contribute 15-minute showcases from the living room.” What the Swiss National TV did not quite appreciate was that Beat-Man isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as his mainstream counterparts.
Prior to the Beat-Man man’s performance played on air, he caught the interviewer by surprise. He suggested that the lockdowns caused by a virus could give humanity a chance to slow down and think about its collective future. “I had a live interview in front of my clip and I said that the virus is more a blessing that a punishment,” says Beat-Man. “Anyway the interviewer —I heard he is very famous in Switzerland— was very upset and as well the guy who placed me in the show.”
Beat-Man’s clip was allowed to play on National TV, but was then stopped after two minutes. Not to be deterred, Beat-Man then released the full clip online. That way everyone could see it. In the clip, Beat-Man performs in his living room, changes into various outfits and plays unique renditions of his material, including “I’ve Had Enough.”
Beat-Man, being fully aware of the wider implications of the pandemic, sees that Covid 19 is an extreme virus that can severely affect the elderly and those with health conditions. Unfortunately, the economic consequences of the shelter in place means businesses ,like Voodoo Rhythm Records brick and mortar shop, have to temporarily close their doors and musicians like Beat-Man’s performances are currently on hold. Needing to pay rent, Beat-Man’s ability to bring income is challenged. He says, “For me its financially very bad. I play about 200 shows a year, 70% of my income is because of my shows, and 30% is from the label.”
During the lockdown, there are ways to support the label, which include ordering records and merchandise online, through the Voodoo Rhythm Records Facebook Page, or donating here: https://voodoorhythm.ch/. Speaking of the support he has experienced from the wider rock n’ roll community, Beat-Man says, “Everywhere I go on this planet I see those people. It’s a good virus and it’s that virus we need at the moment.”
Not to be deterred by the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beat-Man remains busy with his label. When things open up again, Voodoo Rhythm Records is expecting to release records by Bad Mojo’s, The Sex Organs and Trixie and The Trainwrecks. On May 14th, Voodoo Rhythm Records will cautiously open their doors. The idea is to start allowing a limited number of people at a time into to shop. For him, this is a hopeful sign that things will begin to return to a sense of normality.
Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers. He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.
After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.
Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accidentcompilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .
NixBeat: Tell us a
little about yourself. What inspired you
to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?
Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH). All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university. It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in. Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever. After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs. I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time. That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.
originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta,
Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and
Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s. I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music. I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly. I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting. First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly. Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different. If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice. New York City also got every show on every tour. When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot. It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people. In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here. But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.
NixBeat: I know you DJ
in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you
like to spin?
Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc. The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City. I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it. Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta. I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here. I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want. Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul. As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records. Just depends on my mood that night.
NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets? Dougherty : Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points. It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore. But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks. The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal. It’s great! If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul. It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans. Be sure to try a Grizz.
NixBeat: Spaghetty Town
Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records.
Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan
Jones. What prompted you start your label?
Dougherty: After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore. I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore. My boss once said “I’m into hits!” But I was really into music still. I didn’t want to be like those guys. Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me. I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label. Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release. Still can’t believe it.
NixBeat: How did you
get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?
Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album. Anything to avoid paying international shipping. When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me. I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records. As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries. I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me. They are usually looking for international partners for a release. It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping. After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America. There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.
NixBeat: What kind of
criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?” But it’s changed a bit over time. I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do. Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence. Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour? Are you part of the music community? Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship. I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me. I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.
NixBeat: In an
interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for
bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?
Dougherty: Big time! America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money. If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive. Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to be. Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows. I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?” A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break. Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely. Hopefully we’ll be around for it.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?
Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life. I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one. A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct. I’m always happy to help out if i can. So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part. We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available. It’s hard work. I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now. So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc. For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas. In the end, it was totally worth it. They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd. Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited. So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.
NixBeat: In 2019,
Spaghetty Town Records released the Down
South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like
Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like
putting this compilation together?
Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty Accident. Chase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”. He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music. When I saw the list I was pretty much sold. At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track. I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show. The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped. True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show. Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover. It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record. It was a great idea and totally saved us. Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen. With so many people it went by really fast.
NixBeat: What kind of
clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?
Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands. But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male. They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.
NixBeat: With the onset
of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing,
quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and
Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks. My wife is able to work from home luckily. As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales. I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now. There is no touring or live shows. We will be adjusting some release dates. I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.
NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?
Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with. We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases. Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music. I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.
NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands. I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year. I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”. There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.
NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years? Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money. I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again. Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop. As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.
The Jackets are arguably among of the most dynamic garage punk groups to come out of Bern, Switzerland. They are Jackie Brutsche aka Jack Torera (guitar vocals), Samuel Schmidiger (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Rosales (drums, backing vocals). Whether on stage or heard through their records, The Jackets revitalize the vital heartbeat needed to keep rock n’ roll alive. This is by their seemingly natural ability to effortlessly blend wild, primitive garage-punk with fuzzed out freakbeat influenced by notions of psychedelia. It’s the kind of music that not only shocks and awes, but also inspires.
Since 2008, The Jackets have released four albums, a single and have toured relentlessly throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums Shadows of Sound (2015) and Queen Of The Pill (2019) along with the Be Myself/Queen Of The Pill 7″ (2017) have come out via the infamous Voodoo Rhythm Records. Their latest album, Queen Of The Pill even included a collaboration with King Khan (King Khan and The Shrines and King Khan & the BBQ Show).
In February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Jackets did a brief West Coast Tour. This tour started in Portland, Oregon and ended in their first ever show in Mexico City for the Born To Be Cheap Fourth Anniversary Party. After catching The Jackets in Portland on February 19th , I later caught up with Chris Rosales. We chatted about The Jacket’s recent North American Tour, Queen Of The Pill, the European Garage Rock Renaissance and life in Switzerland during Coronavirus Lockdown.
NixBeat: The USA West Coast/Mexico Tour was partly booked with Ugly Things and Born To Be Cheap. How did you get involved with them?
Chris Rosales: I’ve known Mike Stax (Ugly Things) since I was a teenager. I was involved with the first Garage Revival in Los Angeles (Greg Shaw’s Cavern Club, etc.) in the ‘80s and Mike was an “ace face” and major player. I met Anja Stax when she lived in London in the ‘90s so they were both a natural as go-to people for our last three California tours. Anja Stax can book a tour in 10 minutes! It’s incredible! Mike and Anja are the best, I can’t say enough about those two they are amazing people. Matt and Daneep from Born to be Cheap got a hold of us last year and asked us if we wanted to come and play in CDMX! We jumped at the idea. We basically built the USA tour around the Mexico shows. We didn’t know Matt and Daneep before we got to Mexico. Two more amazing people! That’s what I love about this scene – meeting so many cool people and then they are your friends for life!!
NixBeat: This was the third North American Tour for the Jackets. How have you found the audiences reception to your gigs?
Chris Rosales: We are always blown away playing in the USA! I mean, this was the first time we did a tour exclusively on our own – not touring with another band. It was nice to see people know about us now and know our songs and come just for The Jackets. All the gigs were well attended and fun!
NixBeat: While traveling to Mexico, were you concerned about The United States strict immigration policies at its Southern Border?
Chris Rosales: No, not really. We were concerned more about the Mexican side. We were told that bringing guitars over might bring unwanted questions so we went over with nothing but our luggage and the promoter drove our guitars over. It was also relatively quiet at the border when we crossed over to Tijuana.
NixBeat: Seth Bovey’s book Five Years Ahead Of My Time: Garage Rock From The 1950’s To The Present suggests that Europe and particularly Switzerland are experiencing a kind of garage rock/underground music renaissance. Do think this is true and if so, why is there such a strong revival going on at the moment?
Chris Rosales: We were also surprised to see our name in that book! As far as a Garage Renaissance in Europe, it’s been going on for a while now. I, we have been asked this question many times and I really can’t put my finger on why this kind of music is more popular in Europe than in the USA. But it is. And particularly with younger people. It’s not a huge scene like the Metal scene or something but hundreds (Thousand?) of people go to festivals like Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Purple Weekend, Cosmic Trip, etc. Instead of wondering why, I am just enjoying it. It’s good for the bands – it’s what makes new bands form.
NixBeat: The Jackets tour started out in Portland where DJ Major Sean (Sean Cavanaugh) spun records for your show. Do you think having a DJ spinning set at gigs is important and what kind of difference does it make for you experience while performing at a venue?
Chris Rosales: It’s always better having a DJ spinning at gigs! It gets everyone in the mood for the live music and builds a great atmosphere in the club! It’s also great seeing what cool records the DJs have as well! A gig without a cool DJ is really missing something.
NixBeat: What kind of differences do you notice from your shows and experiences in the United States in comparison to when performing in Europe?
Chris Rosales: Like I said before, there are more people and younger people in Europe. In the States a Garage gig is filled with people around 50 years old (wink wink). In Europe it’s much more mixed and there are way more people.
NixBeat: Queen of the Pill was released in June of 2019. How would you describe the difference in sound and style between your previous album Shadows of Sound and Queen of the Pill?
Chris Rosales:Queen of the Pill is a more thought out album, in my opinion. We worked on the songs more, we worked on the mix longer. We cared more about what we wanted to say. Not to knock Shadows of Sound at all but we made that album in six months. Queen of the Pill was really a two-year project and that 7” that we released the year before was really a test of ideas about the direction we wanted to go with the full LP.
NixBeat: The video for “Losers Lullaby” features the Jackets performing in drag in a parking garage. What’s the inspiration behind this song and video?
Chris Rosales: The songwriting and the video idea are two separate things. The song is filled with the ultimate “put-downs”. Things you want to say to someone you hate! The video became a play on male and female roles in bands – Sam and I turn into girls and Jackie turns into a guy. At one point Jackie is the male singer of a girl band. That kind of thing.
NixBeat: The Jackets recently released the music video for Queen of the Pill track “Dreamer.” The video focuses on the perspective of a Gorilla and that of Jackie exploring the city of Bern, Switzerland. What’s the story behind this video?
Chris Rosales: The video for “Losers Lullaby” was professionally shot and we wanted the next video from the LP to be more DIY. On a sunny early Spring day, I got into a gorilla suit and Jackie and I set out into the countryside around the city of Bern to start filming something. The idea was wide open but there was a lyric from the song – “I had a meeting with my mind face to face, my evil half and little me, what a disgrace”. That gave us a thread of an idea. Jackie is the gorilla and the gorilla is Jackie. It’s a dream. The video took a long time to come to something that we were happy with. I think we shot it a year before it was released.
NixBeat: The track “What About You” features collaboration with King Khan doing guest vocals. What’s the story behind this track?
Chris Rosales: Well he produced the album and his personality is so strong that we wanted to get him to do something on it if at all possible. He arranged that bridge part of the song so we go him to do the vocal part himself and it’s great. He also sings on “Steam Queen” as well as playing the gong on “Floating Alice” and hand-clapping, etc. He was keen to do as much as we would let him!
NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “Be Myself?”
Chris Rosales: You mean what is the song about? Well that’s a text collaboration between me, Jackie and King Khan so it’s all over the place. I guess it’s about defiance. I don’t wanna do this and I won’t do that and I don’t wanna be myself! That kind of thing. But it’s quite silly really if you read all the lyrics together. But it’s one of my favorite new Jackets songs for sure.
NixBeat: I have to ask this. My introduction to The Jackets was coming across the the music video for “Freak Out,” released in 2012. In the video The Jackets play a house party and it’s attendees to spasm out of control as if under as spell. The theme suggests a kind of “warning” against the dangers of rock n’ roll. What’s the inspiration behind “Freak Out?”
Chris Rosales: The “Freak Out” video from 2012 is a remake of various scenes from the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” which was a morality tale attempting to teach young people about the dangers of marijuana. The original film from the thirties revolves around the melodramatic events that ensue when high-school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations, and descent into madness from marijuana addiction. We just changed marijuana to rock and roll! This video was our first. It was professionally shot by Decoy Collective, who also did our video “Keep Yourself Alive”.
NixBeat: Now that The Jackets are back in Switzerland, how are you all coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus?
Chris Rosales: We got really lucky with the tour. It started on the 15th of February so there were no lockdowns, curfews and cancellations until we got back to Europe. Well we are all confined to our apartments. Jackie and I are off work because our employers have closed during the lockdown (As of this writing Switzerland is on lockdown). It’s only been a week of this so I can’t really imagine how insane everything is going to get in the next weeks and months.
NixBeat: How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected life, and particularly the music scene in Switzerland?
Chris Rosales: There are no gigs. Lot’s of bands had their tours cancelled. This is really hard on Record Labels in particular! Voodoo Rhythm is going through a particularly hard time. If you all would like to help you can donate here.
Celebrating 40 years of roots-radical anthems, Stiff Little Fingers are still going strong. In 2014, they released their 10th studio album, No Going Back, through Pledge Music, and toured alongside Bad Religion and The Offspring, with a followup solo tour in 2015. According to vocalist and guitarist Jake Burns, being a career musician isn’t quite what he thought he’d doing in 2017. At a young age, Burns was attracted to bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin—but his tastes changed. “I grew tired of that once I realized the guitar wasn’t just for showing off,” Burns says. “The main reason I picked up a guitar in the first place was thanks to an Irish guitar player called Rory Gallagher, who at the time was spoken about in the same breath as Eric Clapton……”
2017 is the 40th anniversary of the punk movement. 1977 marked the year that the world bore witness to the emergence of bands like The Germs, Fear, The Bags, The Screamers, The Weirdos and, of course, X. These bands were pivotal in establishing this movement’s music and ideas, founded on a do-it-yourself ethic, individuality and honesty. Ahead of X’s Sept. 8 40th Anniversary Tour stop at The Complex, Exene Cervenka reflects, “I think punk was a really important movement socially because it was about individuality, freedom of choice and expression.”
(Left to Right) Jeff McCloy , Josh Nickel , Alex Angel and Robin Schroffel.
Fashionism are easily one of the most exciting bands to come out of Vancouver, British Columbia. For a little over 3 years, they have been blasting out infectiously hi-energy power pop meets glam punk songs with catchy lyricism commenting on the changing importance of subcultures, wondering where the rock n’ roll girls have gone and the need for an early morning espresso. This group boasts members from many celebrated bands including Tranzmitors, The Jolts, The Orange Kyte and Newtown Animals—as well as the newly formed Night People. They are Jeffrey McCloy (vox) Josh Nickel (guitar) Robin Schroffel (Bass) and Alex Angel (Drums). On July 18, Fashionism is set to play a stacked gig with Royal HeadacheandNeedles//Pins at The Colbalt in Vancouver. Before they kick off, I chatted with Fashionism frontman and former Tranzmitors McCloy. We discussed his anglophile inspired lifestyle, subcultural inspiration, Fashionism’s singles, playing in Calgary, Alberta with Suicide Helpline and world domination.
NixBeat: Hi Jeffrey. To kick things off, how did Fashionism form?
McCloy: Hi Nick… Joshy and I got it started together, it was conceived in between debating the cultural significance of records that nobody has ever heard. We had the name Fashionism before we had a band.
NixBeat: In a previous interview with beatroute.ca that was published on April 26, 2017, Josh stated “Subculture gave an identity and a space to people that were disenfranchised or looking for some sense of belonging. It had strict rules because it had to.” I was wondering if you could expand on the how identifying with a subculture is important and what rules Josh was referring to?
McCloy: I never saw my relationship to subculture as one limited by rules, however, I will say that I made aesthetic choices with intent. This is what I suspect Joshy is referring to in that you made choices on how you wished to be perceived by others. In a way it’s like a simplistic micro versions of orientalism, you understand what you are by knowing what you are not.
NixBeat: You have a striking Mod style. I was wondering (if you do) why you personally identify with this sub-culture and how does it influence your daily life?
McCloy: I am a shameless Anglophile and I am perfectly happy with this. I grew up in Canada in a one generation removed family who were all from England and Ireland. It’s not always good to have me answer these band related type interviews for it is very easy for me to derail into very un- rock ’n’ roll territory— like me collection of Brown Betty tea pots. I will say I am very influenced by a number of British subcultures and mod, especially the 79 revival incarnation was indeed one of them. My personal fashion choices without a question pull from a mix of mod, skinhead and I guess you could call it 80’s football fashion or casual. As for how things influence my daily life? The football fashion shockingly also dictates my weekend schedule to get up at a disgusting hour to watch the morning matches. However, the drink and pub culture that goes along with many British subcultures has very little effect on my daily life. I grew out of 80’s North American skateboard/punk culture, so I train-wrecked when I was really young then dropped everything and haven’t really drank or gotten wasted for over 25 years now… I take that back, I do spend a lot of my social time with friends in the pubs. I just don’t drink. Hmmm…I may want to re-evaluate this plan.
NixBeat: You have quite the record collection. How has collecting records influenced your musical direction?
McCloy: I don’t think collecting records has influenced my musical direction. Collecting records has mostly just impacted the wall space in my home and my personal financial stability. However collecting records has been the way by which I came to love and fully embrace music and everything that goes with it and without a doubt this has impacted my musical directions.
NixBeat: What about collecting records is important to you?
McCloy: I feel connected to things through records. I realize this kind of logic is sort of hippy dippy however I am not sure how else to explain it. The records bridge the gap between time and space. This is why someone in 2017 could hear a record like the Jam All Mod Cons and feel a connection to it the same way someone did when it first came out. The record exists without the limiters of time. Records are important to me because it’s a way for me to be part of the story of that record just from having it and being a fan. Ok, I just read that answer back and it’s totally ridiculous but I can’t be bothered to come up with a new answer.
NixBeat: Have you come across any new finds that you are pretty excited about?
McCloy: I get good records all the time, however, Joshy always makes me feel inadequate with my rarities because he deals in crazy KBD big money punk rarities. My money goes equally into my sewing studio, home recording studio, my obscene wardrobe and also record collecting. At the last record fair I found the Procession LP which is a cool psyche pop record from the late 60’s, I did get that Aces (post Menace) 45 recently, a really clean copy of the CrunchLet’s do it Again and the Boston BoppersDid you get what you Wanted. The new Jesus and Mary Chain records is getting a bunch of spins lately and I recently got Fear of a Punk Planet by the Vandals on LP which I had been wanting for years.
NixBeat: After spinning Fashionism records at my DJ nights, I can’t help but notice a theme of discontent with throwaway culture. I was wondering if you could tell me about what influenced the track “Subculture Suicide?”
McCloy: Glad to hear Fashionism tracks are getting spun at dj nights! As for Subculture Suicide it’s just pointing out that we are seeing the social shift where subculture (At least the way they existed over the past 50 years being intricately linked with music and art) are no longer the predominant way by which identity and community are established. This by no means suggests subcultures are dead or only limited to older generations. However, their social significance has changed. If you are coming of age today you have more options to create community especially in the virtual world. So in the first question when you quoted Joshy in saying “Subculture gave an identity and a space to people that were disenfranchised or looking for some sense of belonging” Subculture Suicide does tap into that sentiment but also observes that in some cases we are seeing these subcultures run their course.
NixBeat: Also what are you drawing from with the newest song “Back In The Day?”
McCloy: I am exactly of the age where you sit between the rise and fall of various social movements. Not quite old enough to have been part of the first wave of musical movements in the late 70’s and early 80’s while also being slightly older than the youth movements that took form in the early to mid 90’s. So if you are between 40 and 50 years old right now, you kind of got to be part of a string of musical movements all in stages of transition and evolution or decline. I find that people of this age group are the truest of fans and champions of the underground because they embraced these movements when they were really un-cool at least in relation to anything in the mainstream. You basically embraced punk and all of it’s offshoots after the major labels had bailed. The subcultures fractionalized and people were just part of the underground and were the weirdos before grunge and pop punk opened it up to the masses. Blah blah.. that didn’t really answer your question. This does though, by the later 2000’s you saw a lot of people from that first wave of punk start coming out of the woodworks and making claims about how things were better back in the day, give me break ok… blah blah blah….No one is denying that this musical movement wasn’t essential in setting the stage for the next 30 years of musical movements. However, we can all just bring it down a notch with all these people who all of sudden started decided they cared about going to shows again. It’s ok we can all do the math, you hooked up with someone got married in the early 80’s had a couple kids did that parent thing then the relationship fell apart after the kids left for collage, now you are single and in your mid 50’s early 60’s so you are going to show again. It’s great that you are older and going to rock’n’roll shows again just don’t bore me with stories of your youth and how important it was. I love hearing about rock ‘n’ roll debauchery and mythology but don’t try and sell someone on it’s importance. It should be said that things are not great just because they happened, they are great because of their relationship to other events or non-events in the context of history. The point is that “Back In The Day”… only means anything because of what followed.
The slightly lighter and more fun answer to the previous question would be that I love lyrics that tie themselves into other songs. The song was written to have no changes as such and just shift in key as the song progressed, kind of like something by The Fall. We absolutely did not accomplish this, but I do quite like the song.
NixBeat: Finally, what inspired “We Got It Wrong?” McCloy: The idea behind this song was to have something similar to Cast of Thousands by the Adverts and once again like our attempt at something like the Fall this was not achieved. The lyrics for this song for sure came out of the courses I was taking in school that semester. I was just pointing out that the social constructs which establish how we determine our social norms came from a place of ignorance. My favorite line in the song is “If faith can be turned on and off than it’s already lost”. I went to this lecture once and the delivery almost felt like a Python skit. The lecture was about the spread of Christianity to the new world and was referring specifically to the Spanish and the English showing up and planting flags! There is actually a great Eddy Izzard skit about Imperial expansion from one of his comedy shows in the mid 90’s I think it was called Dressed to Kill… Anyways I love the way he says “Flags” I always imagine that my face looks like his when he says “Flags” in a sort of Frankenfurter kind of way. Sorry I rambled a bit there… The lecture pointed out that if one can have a belief system and then be shown a different one and be able to switch belief systems just like that, the switching of beliefs could go both ways. What I mean by this is that the expansion of Christianity was based in the notion that these pagan(non-Christian) belief systems could just be substituted out and replaced by Christianity. This was actually a pretty big philosophical debate in the west during the time of Imperial expansion. The suggestion that there is just a place in the mind where “faith” resides and you could just swap one for another…well this creates a problem when the Christian world is trying to hold it’s own against the Ottoman’s, the Chinese and India. What if you could just swap out Christianity and stick in something else…Anyways the balance of power shifted after the Industrial revolution but there was a couple hundred years where it was anyone’s game. Just to be clear everything that I babbled about is not covered in that song, but it sort of is.
NixBeat: Fashionism just played Calgary with Suicide Helpline. How did that show go? McCloy: That band was something else, they were like a collision of 70’s glitter glam and ska, very odd but very fun to watch.
NixBeat: Are there plans to tour the United States soon? McCloy: I imagine we will make a couple trips up the west coast this year, assuming the political climate between our two countries doesn’t totally erode and the borders shut down. However we do have a trip planned to the other side of Canada and we are doing a Scandinavian tour next spring!
NixBeat: Fashionism has released a number of singles; can listeners expect a full length record soon? McCloy: There are actually a couple more singles coming out soon and all the records that are out of print will be released as a singles collection. However, we are in the process of getting a full record all sorted.
NixBeat: What does the future hold for Fashionism? McCloy: World domination! The only answer any band should ever give to this question.