they get no respect in this town, their hometown of london, but we still think they’re one of the best local bands around. they debuted some new songs from their forthcoming album at st giles church smack in center of london last weekend, that’s the album that’s out 8 may with a tour sure to follow, strings by louis philippe, recorded in nashville TN by mark nevers, mixed at bark studio with brian o’shaughnessy. alasdair “al” maclean is practically a member of our family so we forced him to answer some questions for a silly mini-interview. do read on please…
what was it like recording in nashville?
we flew there from new york at the end of a 6-week tour, which had culminated in everyone going on the rampage in an almost unprecedented way, to the point of me getting the horrors and swearing never to leave my front door again, so it was good to recuperate mentally and physically. the main thing I remember from the sessions is watching a lot of watching ‘touche turtle’ in the back room and living in a little travel tavern, where however banal and hungover we were the staff considered us the most charming and intelligent people they had ever met, just because of our accents. I had comparatively little to do with the way this record was arranged and recorded and I think it worked out better as a result.
what’s it like working with louis philippe? Is he like a headmaster? I imagine he makes you do takes over and over.
on the contrary he’s very laid back and pleasant. If it isn’t working he’ll just move on, come back to it later. when you try to sing in key and you can’t, a headmasterly approach only makes things worse. and he’s full of ideas, it’s great just to watch him spin.
what’s the album called? what does the cover look like?
it’s called god save the clientele and the cover is a collage of painted, coloured card that I made over the course of three days lying on the floor with a paintbrush, it depicts owls, rabbits, leaves etc. all coming together in a mysterious sort of conflagration under a moon made of gold leaf.
how does it fit in with your other albums? is this your tribute to the monkees? or what?
everything we’ve ever released is a tribute to the monkees. I don’t understand why people sneer at the monkees, for me they’re the greatest band of all time. if I could be a tenth of what the monkees were I’d die happy. does that answer your question? probably not, so i’ll add that this album is happier, poppier, funnier, faster and slower, simpler and yet infinitely more complex and recorded with a sound that is truly magical. and yet there’s a strange undertow, this feeling of total failure.
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photograph: gail o’hara
button sculpture + photo by pam berry.
thanks to saint etienne for having a holly-jolly turntable café xmas party at the queen elizabeth hall this year. the highlight was surely sitting with my pals travis and peter while we watched the dave cawley jazz trio play vince guaraldi’s amazing xmas music from the charlie brown christmas show. they even had the show playing on the big screen! there was also some bad tv and a festive holiday set from the band itself. it is so nice to see the massive queen elizabeth hall lobby being put to such good use.
smart chickfactor readers surely know the name pam berry since she is the cofounding editor of this pop zine, but more importantly she is an angel-voiced legend in the world of indie. her london-based folk duo the pines that she plays in with the purple-jumper-sporting lloyd cole enthusiast/james joyce lecturer joe brooker has just released a collection of material that it would be very hard to collect in their original format. available from cali indie label matinee, it’s been a while is a joy to hear, so get one already!
we were very sad to hear about the murder of the actress, director and writer adrienne shelly, who of course starred in all those early hal hartley films (which were also the best hal hartley films). the late 80s / early 90s gulf war era was pretty grim but those films were like a magical elixir. I especially liked her as maria in trust.
why you lucky europeans! pipas starts their eurotour tomorrow!
wish I could be there but I gotta work, sadly.
15 november tokyo vs osaka @ street sweden stockholm tokyo vs oaska web site
16 november teatervallen sweden kalmar
17 november retro sweden malmö a you can’t hide your love forever night!
18 november cosy den sweden gothenburg w/ sibiria and bromander
22 november semifinal finland helsinki w/ harry hunks
23 november von krahl estonia tallinn www.vonkrahl.ee w/ pia fraus & harry hunks
24 november rock n’ roll estonia tartu www.rocknroll.ee w/ pia fraus & harry hunks.
25 november dynamo finland turku les yper sound club night w/ action biker. dynamo web site.
26 november prinzenbar germany hamburg
27 november schaubude germany kiel
28 november magnet club germany berlin
29 november distillery germany leipzig
01 december barbarella spain madrid w/ alasdair from the clientele!
02 december bar latino spain utrera (sevilla) w/ alasdair from the clientele!
04 december sala castello spain barcelona w/ amy linton from aisler set (+ a bit of gary from ladybug transistor!)
our longtime pal and fellow zinemaking and photography lady liz clayton will be exhibiting some of her stunning work in her hometown of toronto: head over to the mercury espresso bar, 915 queen street east (between logan and carlaw) to see the show, which is called ‘orders of magnitude: photographs from north america’s large and unlikely abandonments,’ anytime during the entire month of november. says liz: “I’ll be exhibiting photographs from an urban exploration series featuring pretty pictures of very large, very forgotten things.”
photograph: liz clayton
in honour of lemony snicket being the best-selling author in america, may we present our Y2K interview with the larger-than-life, cocktail-huffing author himself. that’s right, we used to live in the same NYC neighborhood and toss back boilermakers and play the style council on the jukebox at the 19th hole. ah, those were the days. the pre-GWB era.
photograph: gail o’hara
….fashion are sporting the marlon brando in the wild one look, set to be hugely popular on the streets of london judging by the number of chapeaux in topshop (that is, if it ever gets cold enough to wear a hat in this heinous age of climate change). miss fontaine toups has been working this look for years!
big excitement hit london this week when os mutantes came to town. this article in the guardian is informative (explains why rita lee won’t be onstage). however, I was really annoyed that it gave full credit to david byrne and his luaka bop label for any sort of renewed interest in mutantes. surely he played a part in it but it was the new york-based omplatten label (run by ex-matadork johan kugelberg and other music founding owner jeff gibson) that reissued three of its albums at the same time as the luaka comp, if not earlier (and many of us were just buying the imports!). so yeah! (also a certain chickfactor staffer handed off the pictured LP to one stevie jackson of belle & sebastian at the bowlie weekender in april 99, prompting his own band to head off to brazil at some point and perform a cover of ‘baby’!).so naturally we were at the barbican on 22 may 2006 for the first mutantes show since 1973 or something. clearly insane (and I’m not just talking about their sartorial choices here, but oh. my. god.), the brothers sergio and arnaldo baptista and drummer ronaldo “dinho” leme turned up for the reunion, as well as lia duncan, a lacklustre singer standing in for rita lee. also onstage were pretty much anyone else they met on the street, dressed in black and white, the backing singers were fun to watch but the white girl with dreadlocks drummer was a percussionist of the worst (“look at me!”) kind, ugh. I guess we should be thankful they only had as few percussionists as they did as brazilian bands seem to think quality music begins with having 18 drummers on one very crowded stage. so the lows: making the audience wait a superlong time to begin the show; where was opening act devendra banhart? he only appeared during an encore to dance like a loon with the vetiver dude, and yes, they do look like the rhythm section from hot tuna; the metal posturing; the over-the-top-ness of it all, which was just too too much much of the time (rufus wainwright comes to mind in trying to layer on the over-the-pop-ness); really, really missing rita lee on “baby” (duncan’s voice just too low), though even gal costa couldn’t quite please us with her version a few weeks ago (yes, let’s not forget that caetano veloso wrote some of mutantes’ best tunes). the highs: an audience heavy with ultra-enthusiastic brazilians and even mildly excited londoners, to hear the noise in there you would have thought it was the greatest concert in history, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a happy audience in london; amid the noodly, the metal and the ugly moments were moments of genius, moments to remind us why we’d paid £30 a ticket, to remind us that we were locked in a historical moment, such as hearing “panis et circensis”, for me the first mutantes song I’d ever popped into my cd player. so yeah, put on your rose coloured shades, your fur vest, your velvet trousers, chemically enhance yourself if that’s your bag, and get a ticket now — we’re aware of at least three mutantes shows this summer in new york, chicago, and los angeles. let’s hope the summer festival bookers wise up and snag these guys for tons more shows…