Wednesday, 13 September 2023
Wednesday, 30 August 2023
The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Second Life Reunion: The long awaited return of the Swedish legends, Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg - Photos by Daniel Eriksson
It feels pretty surreal to find myself here at the Way Out West Festival in the middle of the huge Slottsskogen Park in Gothenburg, eagerly awaiting the return of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, some eleven long years since they bowed out with a six-night stand at Stockholm’s prestigious Södra Teatern. By coincidence, twenty years ago I was in this very same park visiting the Natural History Museum for some TSOOL related sightseeing with friends that I’d met through the band. We were hunting down the ‘pickled’ babies and stuffed lion that featured on the cover of their debut album “Welcome To The Infant Freebase” – yes, I’d already been lured into that kind of obsession by this unpredictable, non-conformist Swedish Psychedelic Rock outfit comprising six individual yet equally vital characters who, it’s no understatement to say, would put my life on an unexpected course. It’s understandable to be obsessed by a band when you’re a teenager - but as an adult, well that's not what I was expecting. As a kid I was heavily inspired by The Clash and Joe Strummer’s positive message, The Jam and Paul Weller’s socially aware lyrics, The Beat, The Specials and 2-Tone Records multi-cultural outlook, The Undertones and Buzzcocks for their unashamed melodic Pop Punk classics and The Stranglers - or most importantly, JJ Burnel’s snarling bass sound - that made me pick up a bass and start my very first band.
“I feel like a fan and not a fellow musician around TSOOL, ever since I first saw them at the original Concorde in Brighton in early ’97 when they were one of the support bands, that was my ‘Eureka’ moment. I was hooked. I must admit the song that did it that night was “Firmament Vacation” and when they played it at Way Out West, it was quite emotional. Helen dragged me to the front (which I never usually do) and when they played it, I immediately thought ‘I’ve made it’ as at one time, health wise I didn’t think I would be there. It was a great set but not long enough, and as Ebbot said, the guys should have headlined the show on one of the days. What a trip, it was great meeting up with the band (well 50%) again after all this time, I had an emotional meet up with Mattias, Ian and Ebbot. Although I keep in touch on and off with them via messages, it really meant so much seeing them all again, the band has been a big part of my life for 26 years, from the early days when I saw them support Kula Shaker, Gene and a few others before they started to get their own shows. We are all getting older, but the love is still there. Amazing band and people, even seeing people like Chicago, who I recognised, not forgetting all the Soundtrack followers in the VIP bar, what a great bunch of people” - Andy Ruff (Andy’s band Psychobabble supported TSOOL during their 2005 UK tour)
“About TSOOL, I honestly have no idea! I think they were probably great, but this gig was so unique in the way I personally experienced it. The (secret warm-up) show at Pustervik in June I enjoyed for myself, and greatly so. It was mega, a hell of a show, and it felt like everything had finally come together in the most perfect way, an "I can die happy now" feeling. But this time at Way Out West, I was just so happy for them to get such a homecoming, and also for all the fans to have the opportunity again. A friend from Barcelona came to see them just like you, other friends I'd got into the band tagged along, many acquaintances were looking forward to it... I was just hoping everything went well and everyone, band and audience, would thoroughly enjoy it. Which I'd like to think is what happened. Musically, yeah of course I can't not be biased, and I was ecstatic, but nothing compared to seeing Ebbot put his arm around Ian as I had my arm around friends in the crowd. The experience overshadowed the music, in my case” – Albert Lorenz
“So, let’s start, this was my third time in Gothenburg after 10 years, after the COVID restrictions and so on and this was my second TSOOL concert in total, the first time was in Bern in 2011. Then I had a couple of meetings with Ebbot in Gothenburg, thanks to Marcel Tuores and then a couple of Ebbot solo gigs with Indigo Children, first at Liseberg and then in a small and (sadly) almost empty club in Frankfurt. And in between, there was a Free Fall gig also at Liseberg during my first Swedish trip. I’ve never been to Way Out West before, this was my first time ever, and I experienced a good mood in general, a huge space and a really good festival. The band seemed in very good shape, especially Mattias, and he rocked like no other, just like in the good old days, he even threw a guitar in mid-air like a real rocker. It was such an emotional journey to listen to them live and be there in the front row, to hear songs like “Instant Repeater ‘99” and I got tears in my eyes and became emotional during “Second Life Replay”, a song that really means something to me. Hoping this was not the only gig after this unexpected and surprising reunion” - Gianluca Torelli, Abruzzo region of Italy
“It was good to finally see TSOOL again after all these years of abstinence. They had great energy and sounded really good throughout a greatest hits set that didn’t leave anyone disappointed. As a huge fan since the ‘90’s I would have loved to have heard one or two unexpected gems, but I guess a large festival as Way out West isn’t the time and place for that. Hopefully, they’ll return soon to bring that sweat soaked, guitar throwing Rock ’n’ Roll goodness to smaller venues!” - Andreas Åhs
“I’d waited so long to see the guys back again… and on their home turf was spectacular. The Soundtrack of Our Lives were the first band I was ever ‘into’ as an adult… the lyrics and the melodies resonate so deeply it gives me goosebumps whenever I hear them. Seeing them live after such a long hiatus was amazing. They don’t sound like they have aged at all! Ebbot’s voice was on point! And Ian’s guitar work was sublime. I just hope they will tour…. Their sound, their lyrics, their vibe needs to be heard. I hope the band will give us more. Meeting TSOOL stalwart fans was epic! The band need to know that their faithful are with them. Always” – Helen Ruff
During Sweden’s alternative national anthem, “Instant Repeater ‘99”, the crowd are going wild all around me, arms aloft and this fervour only increases with the incendiary Glam Rock stomp of “Confrontation Camp”. The set draws to a close sadly all too quickly with the emotional singalong “The Passover” and feel a lump in my throat as I look around and see the crowd joining in – there are all ages too, families, couples, friends all caught in the moment. Liselott Selander also felt the same…
“They delivered exactly as I expected, and it was fun to see that many who were probably not even born when the band were at their peak knew the lyrics" - Liselott Selander
“The first time I saw TSOOL live was, I believe, in 1997, about a year after I’d been listening to their knockout debut album over and over again. Since then, I must have enjoyed around 30-40 gigs, perhaps ten were at Slussens Pensionat and others at various venues. Most of the time, the band were amazing and beyond, so with this history and a true love for the band, I had quite mixed emotions as I walked through the entrance to Way Out West. How would it be to see them back together once again? Do they still have the mojo...? Well, T-minus 30 minutes, standing in the front row and just watching them do the soundcheck, I knew this was going to be an unforgettable and awesome evening. And so, they went on stage… Fredrik started the drumstick intro of "Mantra Slider," and I just screamed out loud! They opened with one of my absolute favourites and totally nailed it, just like back in the day! Next up was "Firmament Vacation", followed by "Galaxy Gramophone" and I felt like I had been sent back in time. The rest is history. The lucky souls who attended got to witness the best band in the world back on stage! Looking forward to the next 30-40 gigs!” - Per Kristiansson
“A present from the past… Everyone was there... The whole of Soundtrack of course, but also families, friends, stage workers and hang-arounds from the past. The fans that were there from the beginning, but also a whole new generation... It was like they’re bigger than they’ve ever been before?! The desire for this Rock and Roll machine is a fact. They sound at least as good as they always did. 11 years have passed, but it’s as if time has stood still. Everyone just got a little bit older. With all dignity intact, they delivered eleven explosions, a ballad and finished with a sing-along. In hindsight it feels a bit surreal, did all this happen? They came, they won... But what happens now? Everyone wonders, not least themselves. At least one thing is certain, if there is more, there is a great embrace of love from the outside world that wants to embrace the magic that these six gentlemen can create together. We hope for more because this is Second Life Replay ‘Yeah, I feel alive. Cause I came back stronger than I’ve ever been before…’ " – Daniel Eriksson
Daniel Eriksson is also the official Way Out West photographer so I have him to thank for contributing the superb photos you can see in this feature. With sincere thanks to Hasse and Liselott, Mattias Bärjed, Georgios at Livenation and of course all the fans who kindly contributed their experiences and words to this feature. The offcial TSOOL Facebook page is here. For news on all the band member’s solo music, collaborations, other bands and side projects, TV and soundtrack scores, upcoming gigs and record releases please follow, like, subscribe to Retro Man Blog here or at Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, Soundcloud or iTunes/Apple Podcasts as we have lots of interview specials with various TSOOL band members and other Swedish bands and musicians that may be of interest, all still available in the archives. We also have a YouTube channel with loads of related live videos. You can also join the TSOOL fan’s Facebook group here to communicate with other fans around the world, to share your own memories, experiences, photos and videos and to be kept up to date with all that is happening with the various band members music. Plus, you never know, one day there might well be news of more Soundtrack of Our Lives activities… we can but hope!
All photos copyright Daniel Eriksson at Rock My Lens.
All photos copyright Daniel Eriksson at Rock My Lens.
Friday, 28 July 2023
Retrosonic Podcast with Music Photographer Paul Slattery - Part 2 with Link Wray, The Yardbirds, The Byrds, Stevie Wonder, The Grateful Dead, The Others, Tim Staffell and Paul Stewart
The Yardbirds "Shapes of Things"
Paul's original 1966 US copy of "Shapes of Things"
The Byrds "Eight Miles High"
The Others "Oh Yeah!"
"The Others, Geoff Coxon, Paul Stewart and Tim Staffell playing at the Crawdaddy Club, Richmond March 2022." Click here for Paul's report and feature on The Others reunion shows.
Tim Staffell & Paul Stewart "Wrong Place Wrong Time"
Stevie Wonder "Uptight"
"Stevie Wonder playing a few songs during our photo session at his Hotel Room in London 1991"
Link Wray "Rumble"
Link Wray "Beans & Fatback/I'm So Glad"
"The great Link Wray, Soho, London, Spring of 1979."
The Grateful Dead "Cream Puff War"
"My photo of Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead in the booklet accompanying the Grammy award winning CD box set "In and Out of the Garden" with amazing surrealistic artwork by Dave Van Patten."
Thanks to Paul, all photos copyright Paul Slattery.
Wednesday, 19 July 2023
Retrosonic Podcast Episode 52 "It's Clappin' Time" with The Courettes, Sensation Seekers, Jack Cades, Vannas Kasino, Jim Jones All Stars, Ian Person, The Priscillas, The Masonics and much more...
|Cover Star: Elsa of The Jack Cades. Photo by Jeff Pitcher|
Tracklisting & Links
The Sensation Seekers "It's Clappin' Time"
Ian Kay "Love Wasn't Built In A Year"
The Jack Cades "Chasing You"
Jim Jones All Stars "I Want You (Anyway I Can)"
The Jukeez "Too Late"
Vännäs Kasino "Savage"
Gatuplan "Kidsen Från Provinsen"
Per Svensson Psychedelic Sounds "Born To Go"
Ian Person "Waltz of Love & War"
Stupidity "Fortune Teller"
Råttanson "My Head Is A Troubled Region"
The Priscillas "Angela"
The Routes "No Good"
French Boutik "Devant Moi"
Popincourt "Love On The Barricades"
Chris Casey "A Bit Better"
The Courettes "Night Time (The Boy of Mine)"
The Jackal IV "Live It"
The Voo-Dooms "Don't Drag Me Down"
The Sleazoids "VHS Death"
The Masonics "Somebody Stole The Heat From My Fire"
The Guy Hamper Trio "All The Poisons In The Mud"
Featured Record Labels
Thanks to all featured bands and record labels. This episode's cover star is Elsa from The Jack Cades, photo by Jeff Pitcher, please check out more of Jeff's excellent photos here. Please subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at SoundCloud, iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify - all for free - so you don't miss an episode.
Saturday, 8 July 2023
Retrosonic Podcast with Music Photographer Paul Slattery on The Smiths, Joy Division, Thee Headcoats, Penetration, KaS Product and more...
Welcome to this special edition of Retrosonic Podcast where we talk to the legendary music photographer Paul Slattery about some of the recent books and records to use some of his iconic pictures. There's Johnny Marr's new book "Marr's Guitars" and Paul pays tribute to The Smiths' bassist Andy Rourke who sadly passed away recently. There's news of Paul's recent meeting with Mona Soyoc from KaS Product in France and their new compilation album. Penetration and Invisible Girls frontwoman Pauline Murray has included some of Paul's photos in her promisong forthcoming autobiography "Life's A Gamble". Then there's the comprehensive Subhumans book "Silence Is No Reaction" by Ian Glasper. The shortlived but influential band Empire featuring Bob Derwood Andrews and Mark Laff of Generation X used Paul's pics for their "Expensive Sound" album which was a favourite of Johnny Marr and John Squire and was an inspiration on Fugazi and the Washington DC Hardcore scene. Damaged Goods Records will reissue Thee Headcoats' classic album "Heavens To Murgatroyd" with new cover photography by Paul. Then we discuss the upcoming Joy Division walking tour and talk in Stockport which coincodes with Paul's book "Joy Division at Strawberry Studios". Paul also picks his favourite Joy Division track which also happens to feature on the most expensive record in his collection. Then Paul discusses his love of the German Electronic and New Wave 'Neue Deutsche Welle' scene and looks back on a special night in Blois in France with The Flamin' Groovies and local Pub Rock heroes Sharpers. Please kindly support the Bands, Artists and Authors by clicking on the highlighted links or images below to find out further information and details on how to buy the books, records and tickets to events discussed in this episode. Thanks! Listen in below...
Tracklisting and Links
1. Penetration "Stone Heroes"
2. Penetration "Beat Goes On"
|Penetration, Pauline, Robert, Neale, Willesden Cavern, 27 March 1978|
Pauline Murray "Life's a Gamble" (Omnibus Press)
3. KaS Product "Fever Lust"
|Kas Product, Spatsz and Mona Soyoc, 18th Arondissement Paris, France 7 August 1982|
4. Sharpers "Nobody Knows"
5. Empire "All These Things"
6. The Smiths "Girl Afraid"
Johnny Marr "Marr's Guitars" (Thames & Hudson)
Paul Slattery "The Smiths: The Early Years" (Omnibus Press)
7. Joy Division "Dead Souls"
Paul Slattery "Joy Division at Strawberry Studios" (Legends Publishing)
8. Fehlfarben "Gott Sei Dank Nicht In England"
9. Subhumans "Terrorist In Waiting"
|Subhumans, Dick, Trotsky, Grant, Bruce, Warminster, 1 May 1982|
Ian Glasper "Silence Is No Reaction - 40 Years of Subhumans" (PM Press/Earth Island Books)
10. Thee Headcoats "We're Gone" (Damaged Goods Records)
Sunday, 11 June 2023
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band at Shangri-La Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, May 30th - This Is Where The Magic Happens
There’s a neon sign above the bar in the Shangri-La venue in Tokyo that proclaims “This is where the magic happens”. There have been numerous books published on the Japanese misuse of English in their signage and advertising – indeed on this trip I’ve seen ‘are you excited stretch hero’ outside a gym, ‘do not flash your sanitary goods’ on a toilet door and ‘no dropping thing out of window’ on the Tokyo monorail. These signs can be confusing, bizarre and often downright hilarious but this time, there’s no sniggering at any poor translation as the Shangri-La nailed it perfectly. For tonight was certainly magical – one of those special happenings when live music truly transcends huge cultural differences, time zones and language barriers. Mick Head first came to Japan in 1985 with The Pale Fountains and it made a big impact on the Anglophile Indie scene at the time, leaving a lasting legacy that was apparent in the number of people in the crowd tonight that were there back in ’85. In fact, one of my friends even bought along her original gig ticket for Mick to sign. Now Mick is back and we were at the second of two nights with The Red Elastic Band at the Shangri-La in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo’s less commercial and less tacky version of Camden – it’s a lively area that’s crammed full of live venues, bars, record stores, vintage clothes shops and you see countless musicians wandering about carrying guitars, trying to look as cool as possible. It’s also home to probably the best ever Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll bar ever, the Poor Cow, run by Fi-Fi of the brilliant Japanese band Teengenerate. It’s the go-to place for touring bands to pop into to relax after a show, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, The Courettes have all visited and Baby Shakes told me about their love of the place in our Retrosonic Podcast. It’s an area that’s also personally very important to me as on my first trip to Japan in 1989, I was taken along to a superb Indie nightclub called Zoo which was an unforgettable experience that’s stayed with me to this day. So, to be able to see Mick in Japan was special enough but the fact it happened to be in Shimokitazawa, made it even better.
Opening up the night was Red Elastic Band guitarist Nathaniel Laurence with his second only solo live performance, the debut being the night before. Apparently, he wasn’t quite as nervous to be alone under the spotlight as the first show and he told me later, he found the experience quite daunting and if he’s going to try out new material then the other side of the world, far away from familiar, possibly more expectant or judgemental faces, is probably the best way to do it. Nat, seemed rather unsure but he needn’t have been, he did brilliantly. It was an emotionally charged performance which kind of took me by surprise, and I could understand his concerns as when you lay your soul on the line with such an intimate performance, it can be very precious. Opening with “Zombie Girl” by Adrianne Lenker he also included excellent covers of songs by Townes van Zandt and Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie but it was his own songs that really shined. Nat was visibly moved on a couple of occasions, particularly when he dedicated a song to Bill Ryder-Jones for his support and friendship through some tough times and also before the wonderful original song “Jaime” as he denounced the recent laws in Florida that will suppress minority groups even more. The sadly all too short set is received really well by the appreciative crowd. Nat has a great voice and if he can capture that raw intensity he showed tonight in (hopefully) future recordings, he could easily carve out a spot for himself in the somewhat overcrowded solo singer-songwriter market.
Mick looks in great shape and seems visibly touched by the reaction of the Japanese fans (not forgetting us visitors and ex-pats in the crowd of course…), he’s wearing a Love T-shirt so it’s no surprise that we get a rollicking version of “A House Is Not a Motel” which goes down a storm. But the audience really goes wild during the two Pale Fountains songs “Reach” and “Jean’s Not Happening” which are absolutely superb and spark off much singing along and audience participation. At one point, Mick gently coerces daughter Alice on stage to join him on “Broken Beauty”, a song they co-wrote and there’s a touching scene when they hug as the song finishes. I think one of the key aspects of Mick’s resurgence is the support that he is getting from Alice and his sister Joanne, who is also present tonight, it’s a tight knit family unit and is so refreshing to see. Of course, the Red Elastic Band concept was always meant to be flexible with a revolving cast of musicians and collaborators but the current, more settled, line-up seems to be an extension of the family and the freedom Mick gives each of the band members to express themselves creates a wonderful chemistry, particularly on stage. Too many frontmen and women from successful bands embark on solo careers and surround themselves with faceless session musicians – but I think fans and audiences really respond to that ‘band as a gang’ atmosphere.
It’s a five-piece line-up tonight, second guitarist Danny Murphy missing out on the trip due to other touring commitments. Martin Smith on trumpet also shows off some nifty dance moves, there’s bassist Tom Powell’s smile as he loses himself in the music, long hair swaying (Tom's a popular guy, Mick superfan Ana once dubbed him ‘Jesus’ and another friend commented ‘he looks like Keanu Reeves’). Then of course there’s Nat’s brilliant guitar work and when you think he has to cover for the absent Danny and also follow on from the guitar genius that is John Head, it’s mightily impressive. He does such an amazing job and also adds his very own charismatic stage presence to proceedings. Phil Murphy on drums is another key component in the success of the Red Elastic Band as he nails the various styles and genres that snake through Mick’s music – tonight, I’m particularly struck by his work on “Stranger” with its Bossa Nova and Tropicalia feel and it kind of reminds me of The Doors’ John Densmore Jazzy style of accentuating the vocals and feel of the song. Having a supportive and empathetic record label also helps and Modern Sky have certainly delivered with “Dear Scott”, building on the great work that Violette did in establishing the Red Elastic Band with their stunning graphics and beautifully designed releases. Having Nathaniel involved in the recording process along with Bill Ryder-Jones superb production and orchestration is also a vital cog in the wheel that also includes the stunning photography of John Johnson – another important element that should not be overlooked and all the pieces of the jig-saw seem to be perfectly in place right now.
There’s an acoustic interlude when just Nat and Mick play “As Long as I’ve Got You” and “Freedom” and then Joanne joins them to deliver a stunning performance of “Daniella” from Shack’s “HMS Fable”. There’s something so emotional in Mick’s music – the tough looking Scouser who has battled trials, tribulation and addiction as documented in tonight’s superb performance of the “Streets of Kenny”, he just has this knack of gnawing at your heartstrings and often at his shows, I find myself with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye – it must be the dry ice eh? I think it’s the way he wears his heart on his sleeve, allied to a totally down-to-earth attitude that endears Mick to his fans. I’ve seen some great shows by Mick over the years, but this was something else, another Shimokitazawa experience I’ll always treasure. The band were buzzing after the show, happy to meet and chat with fans, signing memorabilia and gushing about the fact that they were in Japan. They seemed as happy as we were and in these often cynical and jaded musical days, that’s a very refreshing thing. Super fan Hiro, proprietor of the unofficial Mick Head Museum (his apartment in Tokyo!) and his lovely wife Rie had made some Red Elastic Band Japanese tour souvenir wristbands which he generously handed over to us and it was nice to see Mick and the band all wearing them onstage. It was so great to be there to witness Hiro get his wish of Mick’s return to Japan and he made the most of every minute. He also stocked up on more merchandise to add to his huge collection and to paraphrase Chief Brody’s famous line in Jaws, “Hiro, you’re gonna need a bigger apartment…!” The only thing that could make the evening any better was a nightcap or two at the Poor Cow so a gang of us headed off to marvel and talk excitedly about the wonderful night that we’d all been lucky enough to have experienced.
For Mayumi, Kaz, Kurt, Hiro, Rie, all the Mick fans we met on the night, the Red Elastic Wristband Gang, Fi-Fi and all at the Poor Cow. For more videos from the show please subscribe (for free) to the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here. For our features on previous Mick Head & The Red Elastic Band, check out the Index/Archive. For more information on Mick & The Red Elastic Band, check out their official web-site here.