oh vashti, how I wish you would play a show in london without that little fella adem. he was there last year at the barbican, faffing around onstage while you did your delicately gorgeous thing. he was there at conway hall last summer. I understand that he has been a supportive pal during these days of your career revival, but every time you play with him he really starts to believe that he belongs on the stage with you, that people might have actually come to see him when in fact they are just enduring him until you get on the stage. during the show at the roundhouse in london, for example, he did his thing which makes no sense to me (can anyone explain it? can someone please explain to me why this domeheaded buffoon is on domino? why is he doing an in-store at other music?). he preciously cradles his toy instruments (and believe me, I have nothing against toy instruments); he sings in his over-the-top robbie williams-impersonating-bono style; he performs his own songs that are as dull as dishwater; he makes sentimental comments that hurt the ear; the music behind him might sound lovely but at the very core he and his songs are mediocre at best, unbearable at worst, but mostly I just want him to develop some self-awareness, to go away and leave you, vashti, so you could take to the stage without him there distracting the audience. these other allegedly folkie folk (juana molina, vetiver) at the roundhouse in january for this ‘nought degrees of separation’ event were neither as distracting nor as heinous as the little adem, but they don’t deserve to be your band either. please, vashti, consider playing on your own, with your own adorable guitarist, you don’t need this community behind you (if you do, have them over for dinner). sincerely, chickfactor
our saint etienne pals are staging a tribute to joe meek on 1 february 2007 at the south bank about 40 years after his death. he was a truly singular voice — a weird voice but we like it.
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
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