Monday, August 21, 2006

How Does It Feel To Be Misunderstood

The How Does It Feel To Be Loved messageboard has been having a go at us here over at FET Towers for our comments on the club.
I’d like to address a few of the points they raise.

Ian (the DJ/promoter) said: “Perhaps he asked for a specific Hobgoblins b-side and I didn't have it.”

I have no Hobgoblins, and I am confident that position won’t change. However, if I’m missing out on something, maybe someone could let me know.

Ian continued: “Anyway, my cover's blown, my secret's out. It's all been a sham. All of those Field Mice and Orchids and St Christopher reviews that were written by me in the late Eighties…”

C’mon, I said almost clueless. I’m not convinced that a thin slice of bands from one record label really gives us the best defence of having your ear to the (under)ground. It’s just that almost every time someone requests a record via your messageboard your stock response seems to be, “Don’t know that. I’ll see if I can download it.”

Dianne: “Am I completly stupid, or is that man confused. Or am I confused?”

You’re certainly confused; I don’t know about the stupid, but you can’t spell…

Ian: “I don't think he's slagging the club off - he's saying that attitude is a good thing too. He's just saying that I don't know much about pre-B&S indiepop. What he really means, of course, is that I don't play as much pre-B&S indiepop as he'd like.”

No, Ian, I’m not suggesting you don’t play enough of any certain thing. I’m just surprised at your general ignorance of music. I know you have a coterie of fans on your website, some who are clearly disturbed by the revelation that you are not the King of Indie, but I do find it surprising when I read the messageboard at how little you know about music generally. I mean, you’d never heard of R Dean Taylor for fuck’s sake.

Felters said: “Next time the reviewer comes to the club, Ian, you'd better play him the whole of Demonstration Tapes eh?”
Ian said: “What's that?”

I say, QED. And if I wanted to play the whole of Demonstration Tapes, I’d stay at home; the only song from it that I’d ever want to hear in a club is How Come You’re Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane?

Ash said: “A serious case of point-missery and inverted snobbery there I feel ..... The assumption that HDIF and your DJ policy is completely indie is 100% wrong..... its HALF indie... Unless soul has become indie all of a sudden ...
Oh well, I guess he can walk around with his Tufty Club T-shirt chest all puffed out because he knows more about indie than you...”

And I say, a serious case of you missing the point, sir. I made no such assumption about HDIF; the music policy is stated quite clearly on the website and I have been to the club enough times to be quite aware of its remit.

Sure, I probably know more about indie than Ian does. So do a lot of people who go to the club. But as I made clear, that’s why people go the club – it’s not a place where indie snobbery is encouraged. These clubs – and this is where I think you missed the point (or did you not, in fact, read the same article as other people?) – have much in spirit of the original indie scene from the mid-80s.

I was not having a go at the club or at anyone who attends. I merely professed my surprise that the promoter, to my mind, is ignorant about a lot of music. He is, though, helped by the people who go there about new and old music, who in turn introduce each other to good music new and old (whether it’s indie or soul). It’s a mutually beneficial process, with Ian, too, introducing people to music of which they were previously unaware. Do you see? Of course you do. That’s why you go there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Daniel Treacy and Jowe Head - mad as hatters, obviously

The Television Personalities’ history is shrouded in pop legend; what facts we do know, we treasure as one of the classic stories of punk’s influence on Britain’s unruly kids. However, what we had assumed as gospel – a bunch of youths from the wrong side of the tracks, or the poor bit of the King’s Road, Chelsea, led by a teenage 60s pop fan infected with punk’s enthusiasm, all claiming to be famous television personalities on the single they sent to John Peel – we can now reveal is a smokescreen to hide us from the real truth.

We now know that The TVPs were not inspired by London’s fire-in-the-belly punk scene, but by an eccentric Transylvanian conceptualist, Curt Replies, that the band included a failed child actor and jazz percussionist, and Melvyn Bragg was mutilated by a stray bazooka and retired to the Orkneys.

This press release for the TVPs' classic Smashing Time - did they ever make a better single? - from 1980 tells us the astonishing genesis of the band we've come to love as the smacked-out, maverick, genius, oddball survivors from 1977 (that describes Dan Treacy anyway).

click to enlarge

On a different note, I heard that Lawrence, these days of Go-Kart Mozart, had gone to ground and last night's gig wouldn't be happening. Does anyone know if this is the case? If it was cancelled, then you can bet he won't be turning up for his slot at How Does It Feel To Be (insert own old/twee/drunk/all of the above joke here) on Saturday. I'm reminded, though, of a nice link between the TVPs and Felt. I'll let Dan do the talking:

“We played a 14-mintue set supporting Felt in Greenock last year (1989), all covers…I was signing autographs backstage, everyone thought I was a member of Felt. All these tearful teenage girls getting souvenirs because Felt was splitting up. You know Lawrence hardly ever smiles? He was killing himself laughing, I was scrawling my name all over these girls’ Felt albums.”

I related this story to Lawrence at Water Rats a few years ago. He didn't remember Dan scrawling on girls' Felt albums, but he certainly found it funny second time around as well. He did ask where Dan was living at the time - to my knowledge then it was the hostel in Soho; for some time during his stay there, he had been frequently selling parts of his record collection to Reckless in Berwick St to fund his predeliction for drugs - and said that he knew the hostel well (I can't say Lawrence ever stayed there, but he might have had the odd acquaintance with the druggy milieu in his time...).

I've heard that Domino have given the TVPs a lot of money to secure them for a few more albums. Again, I will offer you Dan's words from 1990:

"Rough Trade gave me loads of money to distribute 'Privilege' and forgot to sign a contract. Fire offered me a deal, so I took that as well. Then Rough Trade wanted their money back. They didn't get it, it's their fault. Very naughty of me..."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MJ Hibbett steps in for John Lennon

Dear John
What about girls who have braces on their teeth, wear glasses, are very plump and have lots of freckles? Do they stand a chance?
Hopefully, Margaret K Pittsburgh

Dear Margaret K

Sorry for the long time it's
Taken me to reply
I was rather busy
Then suddenly I died

But as to your question
I also had wonky teeth
Imperfect skin and some weight gain
And couldn't hardly see

So I hope it's not detained you
In your later life
It didn't stop me and
Nor did it stop my wife.


MJ Hibbett - known to his mother as “Mark”, his muso fans as “Slowhand” and his legions of groupies as “The Master” - poet (“Go fetch my wizard hat, because you can’t look more like a twat/If you’re intellectually satisfied with the wankings of prog-rock”), philosopher (“And remember the lesson of The Smiths/Just because a bunch of wankers like it, doesn’t mean it’s shit”) radio star (he’s been on the Steve Lurpak show on Radio 1 actually in person more than once), strong-jawed, broad-shouldered love god (just look!) and East Midlands guitar hero (just listen!) continues our series in which we successfully persuade Contemporary Rock Stars Of Some Stature to answer fan letters that were sent to The Beatles in 1964 but have lain unanswered in the intervening years.

We thought “MJ” (we’re not his mum, so we can’t call him Mark) was being a bit slack in responding to our polite request for him to be John Lennon, so our publicity team cajoled, browbeat and then, desperately but decisively, bribed him with some candid pictures of John Jervis, to respond with his worldly wisdom to Margaret K of Pittsburgh’s enquiry about the fickle, superficial nature of boys in the game of love, when he was “On The Road with his rock’n’roll band”. Can we have the pictures of John back, please? They were our only ones.

MJ Hibbett & the Validators have a new album, We Validate! for purchase
If you would like to win one, then make up a song titled "My Mum Calls Me Mark", using some of the information herein, and waive your rights to MJ's considerable future royalty cheques, and the best one will win a free, SIGNED, copy!

Disclaimer: we can't guarantee that MJ will actually send the winner a copy of the album, or even sign it if he does, seeing as we haven't asked him about this competition, or even that he'll perform your song on whatever radio show it is Steve Lurpak does these days. But it's worth a shot, isn't it? Good luck!

Disclaimer the second: MJ does not claim to be the reincarnation of John Lennon or to be able to channel Mr Lennon, conversationally or musically, from the grave, so don't contact MJ if you want to ask Lennon about something.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are still looking for Contemporary Rock Stars Of Some Stature to answer Beatles fan mail. Please get in touch if you fit the bill, but especially if you are Paul or Ringo (either will do).

WIAIWYA - The Legend Explained

John Jervis before and after he started an indie record label and was on first-name terms with Greg Webster. Form an orderly queue, ladies.

John Jervis, CEO of Maidenhead’s - if not Berkshire’s – premiere independent record label, Where It’s At Is Where You Are, has brought you, the grateful listener, the sounds of Action Biker, Doug Shepherd, Miss Mary and Psapp, as well as diverse Grammy-winning country and western artistes*.

We’ve all seen John propping up the bar at the Water Rats, hands trembling under the weight of CDRs, disposable camera and pints of cider, but few outside his close circle of confidants has managed to penetrate his security cordon and discover the real John Jervis.

FireEscapeTalking managed just that. In the spirit of investigative journalism, we went armed with a tape recorder, a can-do attitude and the questions that you want asked – and we came back with some answers.

With your very big house in the country, heated swimming pool, chauffeured helicopter and prize collection of vintage 19th-century French lithographs, just how do you manage to stay in touch with the kids?
with warmed palms...

People are talking about Love Is All who are Quite Good, but they’d be nothing without you who nurtured them as Girlfrendo, would they?
oh, they bleedin ROCK... and they'd rock whatever... even lily allen LOVES them... and that's a GOOD thing...

Why did your board of directors reject the aggressive takeover attempt by Fortuna Pop?
AGGRESSIVE???... we're indies...

Which act would you most like to have signed that you haven’t?
jonathan richman, nick heyward, lou reed, huggy bear, riviera f, fort dax, or, failing that, anyone who sells more than 2 records to chelmsford postmen...

Which act have you signed that Fortuna Pop most wanted?

Matinee have dropped Airport Girl. Will you do the same?
REALLY??... Haha... Nope... I love carport girl... and what I’ve heard of the new record is fan-bleedin-tastic too...

Richard Branson – inspiration, annoying twat or slightly taller version of Noel Edmonds?
knob with an airline...tubular bells?... tubular bellends more like...

Are the rumours circulating about you and Billie Piper true?
what are they?... i'm sure they'll keep me warm in the coming cold winter months... aah... billie piper... sigh...

If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?
i would question your eyesight and judgement, but it depends how cold the coming winter months are, and whether you wore a billie piper mask......

Do you ever put out bands because you fancy one of them and think you might get a shag?
why else would you release sportique records?...

Visit to buy all of your WIAIWYA releases, but ignore the Maidenhead postal address there as John’s moving to London to take over the capital’s music business. Good luck, John!

*We made that bit up about the Grammies and the country and western (apart from The Smith Garrett Band, who are C+W, but so far Grammy-less), but the records are all really good. Obviously.