Thursday 17 December 2015

Toyah + The Tuesday Club at The Garage Islington London

Toyah - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
So, be honest now, what was your first gig? Mine wasn’t The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club Punk Festival, or The Who at Leeds University Refectory.  I didn’t see Iggy smear peanut butter all over himself while crowd surfing at the Cincinnati Pop Festival and I never saw The Clash at the Victoria Park Rock Against Racism Rally. Nope, my first ever gig was Toyah on June 06th 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon, the “Anthem Tour” in fact and I was 15 years old. Now, why I should feel a little bit guilty admitting this I’m not sure, but you know how snobby us music fans can be sometimes. But as Toyah herself might say, I should be “proud, loud and heard” and not try to cover up the facts just because it might not be thought of as very “cool”. However, your first gig is rather like your first kiss, buying your first 7” single or going to your first football match, it’s something that stays with you forever. Due to many and varied reasons it was impossible for me to get to many gigs in my teenage years so the whole experience of that first live show was magical.

Toyah - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
My first ever Gig ticket - Toyah Hammersmith Odeon 1981
I remember getting the ticket months in advance and counting down the days. I will never forget that feeling of anticipation when the house lights dimmed, the crowd stopped chatting and that spine-tingling moment when Toyah burst onto the stage in a blaze of colour and I got a glimpse of my first ever Rock Star in the flesh, one that I just happened to have an almighty crush on too! Looking back, I can say that was probably a defining moment in my life, a moment that signed, sealed and stamped my enduring passion for live music that persists to this day. I did see Toyah once more at The Reading Top Rank in December 1982 but in the meantime since that first Hammersmith Odeon gig, I had already moved on to much more noisier fare. I didn’t bother to buy “The Changeling” album, Toyah’s music was no longer my cup of tea and I was clocking up gigs by bands such as The Damned, The Meteors, Black Flag, Hanoi Rocks and The Adicts. Toyah was distancing herself from her Punk roots, which despite me thinking she was not “cool”, were actually pretty credible truth be told, starting up her band quite early on after having seen the Sex Pistols and appearing in Derek Jarman’s movie “Jubilee”. She also narrowly missed out on a role in the Pistols “Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle” but did have a live version of “Danced” featured in the brilliant concert movie “Urgh! A Music War” alongside The Cramps, X, The Go-Go’s, Devo and XTC amongst many other fashionable Punk and New Wave acts of the time.

Toyah - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Of course for many of us she will also be forever ingrained in our teenage memories for her role as “Monkey” in Quadrophenia. But after that second gig in ’82 that was it, apart from catching her in the occasional TV programme or hearing a single on the radio I could no longer claim to be a Toyah “fan”. So here I am at The Garage in Islington thirty five years after first seeing her at the Hammersmith Odeon and I must confess to feeling a bit of a fraud standing there at the front amongst her die-hard fans. I was after all, mainly there to see a mate’s band, The Tuesday Club, who were one of the support acts. However, my mind wandered back to that very first gig and a sudden rush of unadulterated nostalgia swept over me and a there’s a genuine shiver down my spine when Toyah bursts onto the stage to the strains of “Good Morning Universe” decked out in a sparkling silver/gold top and a bright shock of blonde hair. She looks absolutely amazing and I feel pretty proud of my fifteen year old self for having such good taste when it came to teenage crushes.

Toyah - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
I think how much I have changed in the thirty five years since that very first gig, but Toyah, well she hasn’t changed a bit! I know Toyah often appears on those Eighties music package tours so I was expecting the show to be a little bit cabaret and dated but I was totally wrong, the band she has assembled were excellent and it all sounded fresh and contemporary and pretty damn powerful too. The songs, stripped of some of that awful 80’s production, really shone and I found myself really getting into it. The highlights for me were the stunning triple hit of “Obsolete”, by far the best track from “Anthem”, and then “Race Through Space” and “Neon Womb”, which to me has always been hugely underrated and deserves to be placed up there amongst those other Post-Punk classics.

Toyah - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The set is pretty much a greatest hits collection mostly made up of some of those familiar early 80’s singles such as “Thunder In The Mountains”, “I Want To Be Free” and “It’s A Mystery” but there were some later tracks that I didn’t know which also stood out. “Little Tears of Love” and “Sensational”, despite being two of Toyah’s later period numbers, were both really great and prompted me to make a promise to investigate the more recent albums as soon as possible. Two cover versions made an appearance, a reasonable stab at Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and a pretty faithful run through of Martha & The Muffins’ “Echo Beach”. But it was two classic oldies that really hit the spot, a powerful “Ieya” and of course the stunning set closer “Danced”, which transported me right back to the Hammersmith Odeon on June 06th 1981 and the thrill of my very first live experience.            

The Tuesday Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The opening band of the night were The Tuesday Club, which just so happens to be the name of an Arsenal FC podcast too, ironic really as we couldn’t get into the pub near the venue as Arsenal were playing local rivals Spurs. I should have told the bouncer that the Tuesday Club’s keyboard player Roger is a die-hard Gooner and that might have gotten us in for a pre-gig pint a bit quicker. Roger also played keyboards in my Retrosonic Podcast colleague Adam’s band The Jetsonics and we were keen to check out the latest of his many and varied bands. The Tuesday Club are certainly different, to start with they describe themselves as “having a look and style that falls somewhere between The Rocky Horror Show, Oh Boy, Carry On Screaming, a BBC period drama and Dad’s Army”.

The Tuesday Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Indeed, there are no typical musical or style reference points on show here, the Rock & Roll hand-book is well and truly ripped up by The Tuesday Club. The six male band members are almost dwarfed by the commanding presence of The Minx, a stunning statuesque six foot goddess decked out in a Russian Army Cap and some impressive high heels. She has the cold, detached look of a somewhat glamorous Stasi Officer and she provides an excellent foil to Andreas Vanderbraindrain, the livewire lead vocalist. The band are all dressed in a selection of vintage military uniforms and they do look a rather seedy and dangerous platoon of the Home Guard. The Tuesday Club are literate and humorous, and Andreas throws himself around with total abandon, at one point somewhat bizarrely waving a book with a picture of Charles Hawtrey on the cover and later smearing himself with a chocolate bar.

The Tuesday Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
There’s a touch of Sparks in their songs which are stuffed full of slightly camp, arch humour and "My Consciousness" and "Lady Gargar" really stand out. It’s refreshing to see a band putting so much into the whole package, The Tuesday Club have their own on-line fanzine and Podcasts too along with themed E.P. covers, the uniforms and mysterious pseudonyms.  They know how to sell themselves too – they could be construed as an Anti-Hipster band as in their own words they “just play for the love and the joy, we set our phasers on FUN and go for it!”

The Tuesday Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
For more photos of both Toyah and The Tuesday Club then please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit “Like”, if you are not already following, to subscribe and get access to the photo album. Some videos of the gig can be found at the Retro Man YouTube Channel here.

My very first attempt at "Rock photography"...! Toyah at Reading Top Rank 1982
Please check out the Toyah "Dreamscape" web-site which has a quite stunning archive featuring photo galleries, press cuttings and even radio appearances that can be downloaded. You can also purchase issues of the Dreamscape fanzine here, including two brand new photo specials.

Monday 16 November 2015

My Ramones - Danny Fields: New Limited Edition Photo Book from First Third Books

Ramones - Copyright Danny Fields
Independent publishing company First Third Books Ltd announces its latest photo book, "My Ramones - Danny Fields" - a limited edition hardback of rare and never before-seen photographs of the Ramones compiled in collaboration with Danny Fields, the band’s first manager. Chosen from his extensive personal archive, all the images of the four founding members of the Ramones were taken between 1975 – 1977 when Fields co-managed them with Linda Stein and had unique access to the band. The photos are accompanied with commentary and captions by Fields adding new perspective and insight to one of the best-known bands in recent music history. We are pleased to be able to show you a selection of some of the superb photos that will feature in the book.

Ramones with The Damned & Chrissie Hynde - Copyright Danny Fields
Fields first saw the Ramones play at CBGBs in New York; after a 17 minute set, he met with the four founding members and told them that he wanted to be their manager. "I had to bribe them with $3,000 which they said they needed for a new set of drums. I went to Florida, asked my mother to lend me the money, came back with her cheque, and got the job. I photographed the band on tour, backstage, in the studio, walking around, meeting fans, seeing the sights and just checking things out" says Fields. Fields and his partner Linda Stein brought the band to London in July 1976, where their appearances at The Roundhouse and Dingwalls had an indelible influence on the emerging Punk scene in the UK.

Joey Ramone - Copyright Danny Fields
"My Ramones - Danny Fields" is a unique document of the band’s early career that will be published on April 3rd 2016 as a hardback limited edition of 1,000 numbered books. Two options are available to pre-order now – a standard version of 700 copies retailing at £40 and a special edition of 300 copies which will include a previously unpublished signed and numbered 10”x7.5” print from Fields’ archive retailing at £70, sold exclusively via the First Third Books website.

Johnny Ramone in France - Copyright Danny Fields
With offices in London and Paris, First Third Books is an independent publisher of quality photo books on alternative music and subcultural life. Previous collaborations include volumes on "Punk+" (Sheila Rock’s photos of the early London Punk scene), Felt, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Saint Etienne and Marc Almond. Future scheduled releases include books on Big Star, John Grant, the HBO series "Looking" and Siouxsie & The Banshees.

Johnny & Joey in the Studio - Copyright Danny Fields
All photographs copyright Danny Fields and used by courtesy of First Third Books. Check out the First Third web-site here for more information on this and previously released books. You can see our features on Sheila Rock's PUNK+ book in the Blog archive here.

Thursday 12 November 2015

The Galileo 7 & Bob Collins & The Full Nelson at The Betsey Trotwood London November 14th

Clerkenville East-West - an occasional excursion into the heart of acid rock, cosmic Americana, British psych, post-punk and art rock - presents "Out of The Unknown" at The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL. A very Kentish affair featuring three exceptional purveyors of Psych and Power Pop goodness from the Medway (via Sidcup...). This special event will see the London debut of BOB COLLINS & THE FULL NELSON - led by the guitarist of cult '80s janglers The Dentists. Also appearing will be former Prisoners, Solar Flares and JTQ bassist Allan Crockford stepping centre stage with THE GALILEO 7's Sunshine Pop & Freakbeat. And then there is the always extraordinary Glam/Psychedelic pop collective PAPERNUT CAMBRIDGE - imagine Lou Reed and Marc Bolan hijacking the BBC Radiophonic Workshop...Running order on the three-way headliner will be decided on the night with the first band starting at 8.30pm SHARP in the basement. 

Advance tickets at just £5.00 from

For more information on the bands please check out their web-sites at the links below:

Bob Collins & The Full Nelson:

The Galileo 7:

Papernut Cambridge:

Thursday 5 November 2015

The Senior Service - Debut Single Launch Party and First Live Appearance from Graham Day's Latest Venture at The Half Moon Putney on Saturday January 30th 2016

Retro Man Blog and Damaged Goods Records present the launch party for the debut single by The Senior Service at The Half Moon Putney on Saturday January 30th. The band will be making their first ever live appearance along with very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill. Advance Tickets are only £11.00 and are available directly from The Half Moon here or £13.00 on the door. Our last two gigs with Graham Day sold out way in advance so we would recommend booking up quickly to avoid missing out on this exciting new chapter in Graham's musical career.


 The Senior Service are the latest band to burst forth from the little clutch of towns known collectively as the Medway. However, they are no newcomers (as their name may suggest), for they have been in some of the biggest bands to have come from that area including The Prisoners, The James Taylor Quartet, The Mighty Caesars, Billy Childish & The CTMF, The Masonics, The Buff Medways and The SolarFlares amongst others. The Senior Service line-up consists of Jon Barker on the Hammond organ, Graham Day on the guitar, Darryl Hartley on the bass guitar and Wolf Howard on drums and percussion, close friends throughout they have always been into film themes and instrumental music. Amongst their influences are John Barry, Barry Grey, Booker T and the MG’s, Ennio Morricone and The Small Faces. “We got together to play instrumental covers because I happened to have bought a Hammond organ” says Jon, “but we dropped that idea before we played a note and quickly moved onto our own stuff.”

With a new single "Depth Charge" to be released on Damaged Goods records in January and an album to follow soon after, the recordings have an organic feel to them that only close, like-minded friends can achieve, so it feels like the time is just right for a fresh batch of exciting tunes played on antique instruments by young-minded lovers of Sixties instrumentals!

With touches of classic Motown, Burt Bacharach and Serge Gainsbourg, and of course those great French Sixties Yé-yé records, the Paris based French Boutik blend all of these influences together perfectly with their own up-to-date Modernist Pop twist.

Formed in London at the end of the 1990s by Singer Songwriter Adam Easterbrook, Of Arrowe Hill are an English Hauntological rock group with an eclectic musical output spanning psychedelia, acid folk, country blues and lo-fi. In the current line-up Adam is joined by the rhythm section of Ian O’Sullivan and Jason Hobart, both ex-members of The Aardvarks.

You can read an exclusive interview with Graham Day about The Senior Service in our Blog feature here. Don't forget our special edition Retrosonic Podcast with The Forefathers where Graham, Wolf and Allan Crockford talk about their illustrious musical careers from The Prisoners and The Daggermen to their involvement with such Medway luminaries as James Taylor Quartet, Billy Childish and many more.

Advance Tickets for the launch party can be ordered on-line from The Half Moon here. "Depth Charge" can be pre-ordered from Damaged Goods here. Don't forget to check out Damaged Goods store where you will find a great selection of releases from Graham Day and Billy Childish.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen: Photos from Garageprojektet Hammenhög, Sweden September 17th

Here are some photos of Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children from their gig at the excellent Garageprojektet venue in Hammenhög, Sweden on September 17th. Check out the Garageprojektet web-site here for news on their various projects and upcoming events. Previous gigs have included special appearances by Nina Persson from The Cardigans, Titiyo, Nicolai Dunger, Martin Hederos from The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Bob Hund amongst many others.

Ebbot & The Indigo Children - All Photos Copyright Retro Man Blog
Here's a video from the gig, you can check out some more videos at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here and some more photos at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here. Just click "Like", if you are not already following, for access to the exclusive photo album.

Don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast special with Ebbot who talks to us about The Indigo Children and his plans for two brand new albums to be released sometime in early 2016.

Friday 30 October 2015

The Fallen Leaves - New 7" Vinyl Single "Out In a Forest" Out Now on Market Square Recordings

The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair.

Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair, released on Paul Messis' Market Square Recordings, is the group's second 7" vinyl single and features two sides of vitriolic power based indie-pop from London's greatest celebrators of underachievement, The Fallen Leaves. Side A 'Out In A Forest' is rooted in a four-chord, power-pop tradition with trembling guitars, weaving bass and a consistent drum beat holding it all together, whilst Rob Green's lead vocal melodically croons on top. It resembles early Indie shambolic pop of the early 80s, think of those early Creation/Living Room bands like The Jasmine Minks, The June Brides and The McTells vis-a-vis The Who's power-pop influence, there is also a bit of a "Postcard Records" feel with this single too. The Flip side, 'The Inside Of A Chair' is a short but bittersweet instrumental highlighting Rob Symmons fantastic and shambolic guitar work. This track ties very closely to his work in the pioneering punk band Subway Sect and from this song alone, you can hear his influence upon that group.

The Fallen Leaves photographed at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street by Paul Slattery
The 45 is limited to 300 copies and comes housed in a Market Square company sleeve and features a hand-numbered postcard. If you order from the Market Square Bandcamp page your purchase includes unlimited streaming of The Fallen Leaves - Out In A Forest b/w The Inside Of A Chair via the free Bandcamp app, plus a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. The single is also being distributed by the fantastic State Records or you can order the single directly from Market Square Recordings here and for more news on future releases then please check out the Market Square Blog here. Here's a taster...

The Suburban Homes are having another E.P released in November, the aptly titled "Second E.P." will be released on In The Red and will be limited to 500 copies. The band are also working on a 12" single/mini album which will be out on Total Punk sometime in 2016. The Higher State have just completed their fifth full-length LP 'VOLUME 27', this is going to be out on 13 O'Clock Records in March/April 2016. NEXT YEAR, there are already plans afoot to release some great 45s on Market Square including 45s hopefully for Creation FactorySarah Bethe NelsonReal Numbers, Higher State & Paul Messis.

The Fallen Leaves photographed at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street by Paul Slattery
For more news on The Fallen Leaves upcoming live dates please check out their web-site here. Also, don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast special editions with The Fallen Leaves where Rob Symmons and Rob Green take us on their journey from the very early stirrings of the London Punk Rock scene with Vic Godard & Subway Sect. The two episodes are generously sound-tracked with lots of Fallen Leaves songs, and we also discuss and play some of the band's favourite tracks and influences from Ramones, Trini Lopez, Buff Medways, The Who, Roxy Music, Dr. Feelgood, John's Children. Along the way we will meet some of the characters the band have rubbed shoulders with over the years including Vic Godard, Billy Childish, Bernie Rhodes, Joe Strummer, Malcolm McLaren, Paul Cook, Pete Townshend and more...So slip on your smoking jacket, pour yourself a cup of tea, get yourself comfortable on your chaise longue and listen to some fine Punk Rock for Gentlemen!

Saturday 24 October 2015

The Duke Spirit at Wilton's Music Hall, October 22nd

The Duke Spirit at Wilton's Music Hall - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
Rolling Stone magazine described The Duke Spirit as “glamorous and sinister”, something that could also be said about Wilton’s Music Hall. There is a slightly spooky and otherworldly feel to the recently renovated and re-opened building with it’s exposed brickwork, labyrinth of corridors, small half hidden rooms and false stairways leading to nowhere but the ceiling. Spooky and otherworldly could also be used to describe The Duke Spirit so it seemed like a perfect choice of venue. Even more so as I remember reading an interview with the band and being really impressed by their concern and opposition to so many of London's great venues being destroyed by property developers so it was nice that they had chosen Wilton’s, a rare example of a venue being put back on the map rather than obliterated from it. The band also mentioned their distaste at “awful, beer sponsored TV studio style places” and my respect for The Duke Spirit went up a few notches. Tonight was my first time to see inside this historic East London venue which first opened as a Music Hall here on Graces Alley in the back room of an Ale House way back in 1839, and I was really pleased to discover such a superb job had been carried out to try and restore Wilton’s to its former glory. 

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
So, The Duke Spirit take to the impressive two level stage at Wilton’s standing underneath a huge arched ceiling covered with beautiful carvings and plasterwork and looked over by a balcony on which you can peer down on proceedings with uninterrupted sight lines. Drummer Olly Betts is on the top level along with a keyboard player and a new bassist and then below them singer Leila Moss is flanked by guitarists Luke Ford and Toby Butler. It’s hard to believe that it is eleven years since I first saw The Duke Spirit play live, a thought that suddenly hit me as they slammed straight into “Lassoo”, one of my favourite tracks from their superb second album “Neptune”. The band are playing dates to promote their forthcoming album “Kin” which is due for release very soon and tonight they play some brand new tracks from the record including the single "Blue and Yellow Light" which was on sale as a limited edition 7" single in, yes you guessed it, two versions with blue and yellow sleeves. They also played "Sonar" and "Here Comes The Vapour", these new songs are slower paced, atmospheric and darker and will probably need a few listens to get into. 

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
Unfortunately, and somewhat begrudgingly I have to admit that I thought the sound at Wilton’s didn’t help as it was a bit muffled, nothing too drastic but it slightly dampened the band’s songs on occasion. However, rather like those other beautiful and historic venues Bush Hall and Union Chapel, I don’t suppose when they originally planned the acoustics they took into consideration that full-on Rock ‘n’ Roll bands would be playing gigs there sometime in the future. A superb "The Step and The Walk" was followed by a stunning version of "Dog Roses" with Liela playing some great harmonica that brought to mind Ennio Morricone's haunting Spaghetti Western movie soundtracks. There is a slightly sinister undercurrent to a lot of The Duke Spirit's songs which are often based on a repetitive tribal drum beat with layers of sound built up around it. There is not much place for guitar solos in Duke Spirit songs; instead there is a glacial wall of sound where feedback and effects combine to provide humming and buzzing harmonies. I suppose the early Jesus & Mary Chain or even Curve spring to mind, the latter in particular on the new single, but one of the best things about The Duke Spirit is they don't fit easily into any particular category or musical genre.

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
I must admit I like it when the band cut loose and rock out as they do tonight on a storming "Into The Fold" and "Everybody's Under Your Spell" which flies past with a Punky energy. Liela prowls the stage swinging the microphone stand high above her head, one minute she is leaning into the crowd, foot on the monitors shaking her blonde hair and the next she is dancing around Luke screaming "Yeah!" off mic as he spins out a howl of a feedback laden riff. The end comes way too soon with a brilliantly scathing "Cuts Across The Land". Tonight’s set was very short, clocking in at an hour after the encores had all finished which was a bit of a shame as the band were just building up a head of steam and it was a sudden jolt back to reality when the house lights came on and you realised it was all over. I'm not sure if there is a strict curfew on live music at Wilton’s but I think having such a unique setting (and with another London date already booked) they could have done without the support act and used tonight as a new album "showcase", maybe played it in its entirety, or something a bit special like that. Apart from a quick "It’s good to be back", "thanks for coming tonight" and a nod to the venue, there is little in the way of between song banter throughout the night. But frankly, this kind of suits the band; you want them to be a little bit mysterious. Long may The Duke Spirit continue to be mysterious, glamorous and maybe just a little bit sinister!

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
While it makes a refreshing change to see the positive success story of Wilton’s Music Hall in action, there is still no getting away from the fact that the owners and trustees will have to raise around £250,000 per year through public donations and fund-raising to keep it up and running. So they really deserve a bit of support even if you can just pop in for a few beers in the beautiful Mahogany Bar every now and then, it will all help. Check out their web-site here for more information.

The Duke Spirit - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog 2015
For news on The Duke Spirit tour dates and the date for the album release please check out their official web-site. For more photos of the Duke Spirit at Wilton’s Music Hall please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit “Like”, if you are not already following, for access to the photo album. Videos from the show can be seen at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Graham Day: Exclusive Interview with The ex-Prisoners, Solarflares & Gaolers Frontman about his latest Project...The Senior Service

In our Retrosonic Podcast special with The Forefathers, Graham Day mentioned that he had always wanted to record an instrumental album. When The Prisoners split Allan Crockford and James Taylor went on to form The James Taylor Quartet, (“a kind of Punked-up Booker T” according to Allan), leaving a rueful Graham to reflect. “I remember being quite jealous at the time, I thought the James Taylor Quartet were brilliant at the start. I love instrumentals; I always wanted to be in an instrumental band so I didn't have to sing”.

In the Podcast Graham also expressed, not only an admiration for the work of well known names such as John Barry and Ennio Morricone, but also for composers like Barry Gray (“Thunderbirds”) and Lalo Schifrin (“Bullit”). In fact The Prisoners even tackled Gray’s “Joe 90” theme tune. Throughout his career, in particular with The Prisoners, The SolarFlares and The Gaolers, Graham had written and recorded many notable instrumentals such as “Sitar Spangled Banner”, “Night of The Nazgul”, “Girl In A Briefcase”, “Lunar Girl” and “Apollo a Go-Go”. Ian from Damaged Goods Records even picked out “South Avenue” from The Gaolers “Soundtrack To The Daily Grind” album as one of his favourite songs in our Damaged Goods Retrosonic Podcast special. 

So, now we have the next chapter in Graham’s musical career and the fulfilment of that long held ambition. The Senior Service.

Jonathan P. Barker - The Hammond Organ & The Piano
Q: Please tell us about the other members of The Senior Service, their musical background and how you got together for this new project.

GD: Jon Barker on Hammond. Jon was in the Daggermen, who used to support the Prisoners a lot in the mid 80s. He played bass in the Buff Medways and in the Gaolers. So, a bass player by trade, and a damned good songwriter, but he’s always fancied playing the Hammond so he bought one and decided to form an instrumental band. Darryl Hartley. Most people won’t have heard much from Darryl but he’s been in several low-key bands over the years. Darryl is a guitarist normally, but has moved to the bass for this outfit. He also brings a fantastic songwriting talent to the mix. Wolf Howard has played drums in the Daggermen, Prime Movers, SolarFlares, The Buff Medways and all of Billy Childish’s bands since then, and is also in the Forefathers. The band is Jon’s fault. He bought the Hammond and wanted a band to fit around it so asked us all to join in. The original idea was just to muck about at Jon’s house but it quickly turned into a monster and has produced some of the best material we’ve ever written between us.

Graham N. Day - The Guitar
Q: You have a new single “Depth Charge” coming out in January on Damaged Good Records and an album to follow, what is the album title and when is it due to be released?

GD: I don’t think we’ve got a title for the album yet! It’s bad enough trying to come up with a band name (which we’ve changed 3 times already) or a song title…. We’ve only got 2 songs left to record then it’ll be in the lap of the production Gods as to when it comes out. I would imagine early Spring.

Q: Are the songs on the album all original or will it feature any cover versions? Are there any particular tunes that you would like to have a go at covering?

GD: All the songs are original (or as original as they can be given the limited amount of notes and combinations thereof that already exist). Let’s say, to our knowledge they are all original. With 3 songwriters in the band there’s no room or desire to record any covers, what’s the point?

Q: Are the original songs all new and written specifically for the Senior Service or are they ideas that you have had kicking around for a while that maybe didn’t fit in with previous line-ups?

GD: I think Darryl’s and Jon’s are new. I’ve got six tracks on the album (if “Depth Charge” gets on it), two of which I wrote a few years ago for an intended Gaolers album, but the others are brand new.

Q: Did your interest in cinematic instrumentals first come from a love of movies or was it from hearing the music as a separate entity?

GD: It’s definitely the music I love as a separate thing. For instance the album “No Strings Attached” by Barry Gray is one of my favourite albums, but I’m not particularly into puppets!!

Darryl R. Hartley - The Bass
Q: Tell us some of your favourite movie scores and composers?

GD: My favourite composers are John Barry and Ennio Morricone, but I’ve always loved the bit in a 60s film where they walk into a club and an anonymous band is playing the most groovy tune ever, like “30-60-90” in “Get Carter”. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, just be in a faceless band in a party scene. I love “Adagio for Strings” in “Platoon” as well but that kind of genius is a bit ambitious for my limited talents.

Q: Have you ever fancied writing a score to a “real” movie such as The Len Price 3 did recently for “Pubmonkey”? Have any opportunities arisen for this over the years?

GD: No, not really. My thing is more along the lines of catchy theme tunes rather than full on orchestral scores. One day when I’ve got some time on my hands I’d like to have a go at writing more orchestral stuff but I’m really not into samples and synths and don’t have an orchestra to hand so it might be a bit tricky…

Q: You’ve mentioned you were influenced by composers such as Barry Gray who wrote some classic TV themes such as “Joe 90” and “Thunderbirds”. What was it about these that captured your imagination?

GD: I love a lot of 60s theme tunes. There’s something about that catchy hook squeezed into a couple of minutes of sheer pointless pleasure, you can’t beat it. The thing is, singing in a band has a lot of drawbacks. For one you never know if it’s going to work. You can’t just plug it in or hit it like the other instruments. Sometimes, particularly if you’re on tour it gets a bit croaky, or you can’t hear it ‘cos the monitors are shit, or if I get run down or have a cold it might go completely. Also, particularly as you get older it becomes a massive physical effort to sing. Having played drums, bass and guitar in different bands over the years I can say categorically that singing is by far the most exhausting. A couple of times on tour with the Gaolers in packed small clubs, boiling hot with stage lights burning your face off I’ve felt like I was close to having a heart attack. Once I had to come off stage and go outside and lay on the pavement just to get my breath, stop the room spinning and cool off. The other thing is you have to write lyrics, and that’s something I really struggle with. Apart from the last Gaolers album where I hit a streak of funny stories, what the hell are you supposed to sing about? So I’m much happier writing and playing instrumentals; they mean nothing, they can be whatever you want them to be and the most difficult thing to write is the poxy title of the thing.

Wolf D. Howard - The Drums
Q: I must admit to having my own play-list compilation of all your instrumentals and it works really well as an “album” on its own. Was there ever an option to release an official “instrumental only” anthology from your various line-ups?

GD: Yes I’ve wanted to do an instrumental compilation for years. Damaged Goods wanted to do it a few years ago, I put the tracklist together but the problem was most of the Prisoners and SolarFlares tracks are owned by Big-Beat. They were up for licensing them but it was too much money for Damaged Good to be viable. I did consider re-recording them but decided there was no point.

Q: I know you said that there were some songs that didn’t work live with The Forefathers because you didn’t have the organ, so will you be re-visiting any of the back catalogue? What can the audience expect at a Senior Service live show?

GD: Good question. We are a tiny bit concerned that an all instrumental set might be a bit boring for the audience and were considering chucking a few songs into the set live. But we’d rather stick to our guns, be ourselves and stick to instrumentals; the audience will know what to expect and can make their own words up if they want to sing along. We’ll keep the set relatively short...We haven’t really worked out a live set yet, but there are at least 3 tracks on the album that won’t work live. I think there may be a couple of Prisoners instrumentals up for discussion, as well as a few covers, but let’s wait and see...

We are extremely pleased to announce that the next Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon in Putney will in fact be the launch party for The Senior Service's debut single "Depth Charge" on Saturday January 30th. This will be in conjunction with Damaged Goods Records and also on the bill will be very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill. Please keep a check on The Senior Service official Facebook page, the Damaged Goods Records web-site or, of course here on the Retro Man Blog, and we will announce details of tickets as soon as possible.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney September 25th with The Len Price 3, Les Kitschenette's & The Galileo 7

I'd like to say a big "Thank you!" to all who came along to the last Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney on September 25th, it was a great turn-out and very much appreciated. I'm sure you'll agree that all three bands - The Galileo 7, Les Kitschenette's and The Len Price 3 were on top form, there just seems to be something about The Half Moon that brings out the best in all who play there. I hope you liked the State Records stall too. Here are some exclusive Paul Slattery photos of the evening...Paul has two books published "The Smiths: The Early Years" and "Oasis: A Year On The Road" both available from Amazon...and all good book shops!

The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Les Kitschenette's - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Thanks to all the bands and the staff at The Half Moon. Also thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. Great quality videos of the full sets from all three bands can be found on Steven Tagg-Randall's "London Archivist" YouTube channel which you can also follow on Facebook. For more photos please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and, if you are not already following, hit "Like" for access to the Photo Album.

Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney - Photo by Paul Slattery
We are extremely pleased to announce that the next Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon in Putney will in fact be the launch party for The Senior Service's debut single "Depth Charge" on Saturday January 30th. This will be in conjunction with Damaged Goods Records and also on the bill will be very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill. Please keep a check on The Senior Service official Facebook page, the Damaged Goods Records web-site or, of course here on the Retro Man Blog, and we will announce details of tickets as soon as possible.