cf interview: travis elborough, vinyl fetishist and author

travis elborough is famous for a few things: dressing snappily, writing very funny and entertaining text and being able to talk about pretty much anything. his 2005 book, the bus we loved, about london’s routemaster buses (the kind you could jump out the back of), did phenomenally well. people still hate the bendy buses that replaced them, or the airless double deckers that you cannot exit in terrible traffic unless you have a sympathetic driver. his brand-new book, the long-player goodbye, pays tribute to our most treasured musical format. the book will be available for purchase in the united kingdom on july 10, while soft skull will publish it in the U.S. in 2009. bob stanley recently mentioned it in the london times in an article about vinyl fetishists. we caught up with our man travis via email. of course, if I were still living in london, I would be able to ask him these things in person…
chickfactor: what ebay find are you most proud of?
travis elborough: Too many to list but a phrenology head, an olive green olivetti typewriter and a signed photograph of Jo, one of the Doctor Who assistants from the 1970s, posing in the nude with a dalek would have to be up there somewhere.
what shopping experience do you miss the most?
As I am sure you remember, there used to be a fantastic, if admittedly rather overpriced, vintage clothing shop in Covent Garden in London called Cenci. It closed down probably five years ago now. It was chock full of old Italian deadstock suits from the 1950s and 1960s, and similarly period ski jumpers and golfing caps, none of which were ever in my size. Even the hats seemed to have been crafted for a special race of human beings, very possibly rendered extinct since by substantial changes in diet, whose heads were either vast or tiny. But while I bought very little from there (one of those striped yachting jumpers and a single suit, at the most, I think) I loved visiting it simply to witness its manager, Massimo, in action. He didn’t so much practise the hardsell, as look heartbroken if you chose not to purchase whatever garment he was convinced you should buy. ‘It’s a tad on the snug size’, you might say, while struggling to do up the buttons on a pea coat whose arms were a foot shorter than your own. ‘Nonsense, it fits you like a glove, feel the weave. You don’t get that kind of quality today’, he’d reply, shaking his head in a motion intended to convey a certain dispair with the modern world, and you in particular. ‘Well, I was really looking for a slightly narrow cut of trouser’, you could venture, having found yourself in a pair of strides that could easily have provided the sails for the Mayflower. ‘Honestly’, Massimo would respond, clutching, demonstratively, the leg of his own — and infinitely narrower — trousers, ‘once you get used to them, you’ll never wear anything else.’

describe a typical day of you researching this book.
I suppose, the most typical day consisted of hitting the British Library, and then idling away about seven hours flicking through ancient issues of Gramophone, Billboard, High Fidelity, Downbeat, Disc and the NME, and raiding their excellent sound archives. I spent some days, some weeks, actually, just listening to albums. And I did buy a small battery-operated turntable specifically to perch on the corner of the desk in my office so that I could spin discs while tapping away.
any tragic loss of an LP that’s still breaking your heart?
For purely sentimental reasons, I mourn the loss of, what was most likely a terrible, sound-not-alike Beach Boys LP, I had as a child. It was one of those session musician jobs that were sold in wire racks in Woolworths and local newsagents, something like The Surf Men Pay Tribute to the Beach Boys By Playing Their Hits Quite Badly. I think I bought it with a voucher I’d received for my sixth birthday. It had “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” etc. on it and, from what I can only dimly recall, an image of a suitably sun-drenched beach on the cover. The LP vanished years ago, and the original versions of the songs, which I didn’t know then, have long since supplanted any real memory of it but I seem to miss it all the same. And, as I have no idea what it was really called, ebay, Gemm and so on are no use. Which might be just as well.
will there be a turntable at the launch?
Oh yes. Two I think. And prizes for the most amazing, interesting and awful album anyone brings along.
your last book, the bus we loved, turned you into the “bus man” at parties. you got really sick of talking about those damn phased-out routemasters. any chance you’ll ever tire of LP chatter? are you already?
I am still talking about the Routemaster, it’s the Bela Lugosi of buses — blood red and undead! The LP book, came in a way, out of responses to The Bus We Loved. I did genuinely love the Routemaster. For anyone who doesn’t know, they were the last London buses to be built with open platform at the back and were staffed by a conductor as well as a driver and were taken off the streets after nearly fifty years in December 2005. I used to catch them every day, and when I first moved to London and was living in bus-bound Dalston, their routes really shaped my impressions of the city as a resident. I liked them enormously, aesthetically, and when I learned they were being phased out, I just started taking photographs of them with my Lomo camera and I gradually began to dig into their history. The book grew out of that. I wasn’t a bus fan as such, I was a writer who happened to be fond of this particular bus. While I was researching the book, I did, however, meet people who were absolutely fanatical about the Routemaster and buses in general. These people tend to get a raw deal, they are mocked as anoraks and the like. But I have to say, though some were a touch odd, I thought there was something rather admirable about their enthusiasm. Meeting them made me wonder, why it was that certain hobbies, bus-spotting for example, are deemed less socially acceptable than others, record collecting, say. Which in turn, led me to think about all the hours I’d personally wasted in record shops… and you can see where this is heading… Will I tire of talking about LPs? I hope not. But ask me again in six months…
are there any movie scenes featuring vinyl fetishists like the likes of our gang?
Well, I am excited about a new documentary by Emma Pettit about independent record shops. I think it’s still in production at the moment, but Emma’s also edited an accompanying book just out called Old Rare New, that has some great pieces by Byron Coley and Bob Stanley and interviews with Billy Childish, Rob Da Bank, Simon Reynolds and Joe Boyd, that’s magnificent so… buy that and look out for the film in due course.
is there any real evidence that it will come back?
There is some. Wandering about shops in central London, I do find myself thinking, God I can remember when all of this was CDs. Certainly shops like Mister CD have gone. And last October even Amazon.com began selling LPs and a range of players. So sales of vinyl are up, but they still represent a small percentage — and it tends to be a niche interest. Singles have taken off again among the hip and young, apparently. Hayes, the plant in Middlesex immortalised on the Beatles sleeves and mothballed by EMI in 2000, and now in private hands, currently turns out something like 20,000 records a week. A far cry from the 250,000 a day it produced in the early 1970s, but not bad for a format supposedly consigned to the dustbin by its digital successors over a quarter of a century ago.
click here to buy the book

photographs: travis elborough, london, 2005; and some vinyl in a paris shop window, 2004; both by gail o’hara.

special poll: should you die before you get old?

the fact that this poll only has five answers per Q means I didn’t circulate it very well, but I do want your answers so please put them in the comment box below (and please don’t be anonymous, it’s no fun). today’s questions are all about whether you can be too old to rock.

1 is there a particular age when someone should stop playing pop music?
lupe pipas: probably between the age of reason and l’age d’or – ie, 40 and 60. take chantal goya as an example.
gerard matador: shortly after conception
stephen the real tuesday weld: 18
daniel handler: no. I wish there were folks in their 80s and 90s playing pop.
gail cf: I don’t think they should be allowed to start playing until they’re 25.
2 who is an example of someone who should really stop because they are too old to, uh, rock?
lupe pipas: johnny marr. he may not be old looking but I think he’s old in a deeper sense. elton john. he should just be sampled into a piano and let the kids make their own elton.
gerard matador: jascha heifetz
stephen the real tuesday weld: joss stone
daniel handler: sting, I guess. he mortifies me. I’m not sure that has anything to do with age, but he didn’t mortify me when he was young.
gail cf: anyone who signs a record deal with starbucks is clearly too out of it to rock.
3 who has flourished in “old age”? who is your “old” idol?
lupe pipas: morrissey, who will never be too old, saggy as he may get. bjork, considering she was a child star, she’s aged pretty well. vashti!
gerard matador: I’m hesistant to say. regardless of how well adjusted they might be, I don’t know anyone, old or young, who likes being called old.
stephen the real tuesday weld: john cale
daniel handler: tom waits.
gail cf: vashti.
4 which towns/artists/scenes have “old” indie audiences and which ones have “young” audiences?
lupe pipas: old: london. where are the youngsters? don’t tell me, they’re in myspace. stockholm/gothenburg young towns par excellence. they’re born with an earmarked encyclopedia of pop under both arms.
gerard matador: I really have no idea. I mean, I see young people and old people all over the place. I’m sure there’s a more interesting demographic breakdown, but I’ve never really thought about it.
stephen the real tuesday weld: guildford/the fall. dunno
daniel handler: I was just at a metric show in my hometown of san francisco and was told very sternly by two women in their 20s that my friend andy and I should stop dancing because they couldn’t see. we pointed out it was dance music and a rock club. they scowled. this made me feel old and young at the same time.
5 who is the best looking oldster in pop? the least attractive?
lupe pipas: ok, here I go repeating myself: vashti/morrissey/nana mouskouri/celia cruz (to some the ugliest woman in music, but getting to 80 is beautiful!)/john cale/bob marley. ugly: mick jagger. needs more beef, blubber would actually be nice for a change. he looks like he doesn’t eat enough. mick makes keith look like a cherub.
gerard matador: ha! see my answer to number 3. being called the best looking oldster in pop is the kinda faint praise I’m not gonna lavish on anyone I actually like.
stephen the real tuesday weld: roger waters / van morrison
gail cf: ira kaplan = pretty cute. lou reed = not. (people so full of themselves they may burst tend to look unattractive)
6 can you think of any “aging” popstars who are not mentally ill and yet are still relevant / interesting?
lupe pipas: many – let’s just think of cher for a moment…
gerard matador: depends on how you define popstar, I guess. does bob dylan count?
stephen the real tuesday weld: beck, bjork, damon albarn, cher.
daniel handler: tom waits, john fahey (oh – he’s dead), peter jefferies (is he old? I’m not sure.)
gail cf: graeme downes, where are you hiding? I know loads of relevant old people but like me they are in denial that they are old. wearing converse sneakers shaves off about a decade!
7 should 42 year olds be allowed on american idol?
lupe pipas: yeah!
gerard matador: I don’t see why not, though I’m not sure why they’d want to be.
stephen the real tuesday weld: definitely not
daniel handler: american idol should be strictly 90 and older.
gail cf: only if they’re in the aluminum group!
8 should 16 year olds be allowed inside venues?
lupe pipas: all ages!
gerard matador: as long as they promise not to fuck shit up, I don’t see why not.
stephen the real tuesday weld: I thought they were – but if they aren’t, they shouldn’t be
daniel handler: sure, but they should be required to stand in line at the bar for any 35 year old who requests it.
gail cf: only if they keep quiet!
9 how old are the youngest people with vinyl records these days?
lupe pipas: like i said above, they are swedish kids just beginning to teeth.
gerard matador: I have no idea. you might well ask how old are the youngest people who actually buy CDs.
stephen the real tuesday weld: my neice is 6 – she has a ‘pinky and perky’ record – I gave it to her
daniel handler: I believe the youth of america have switched to reel-to-reel tapes.
gail cf: toddlers whose parents ran indie labels.
10 why can’t the young write their own new songs?
lupe pipas: they’re effin lazy! and they don’t teach them how to write any more, just curse.
gerard matador: who says they can’t?
stephen the real tuesday weld: there is nothing left to say
daniel handler: who’s writing these questions, andy rooney?
gail cf: the girls from magnolia can certainly rock.
post your own answers in the comment box please!

the very long-overdue debsey wykes interview.



debsey wykes is one of the coolest pop girls on earth. when she was a mere teen, she formed the dolly mixture with her mates hester and rachel and they recorded some of the acest songs ever. later she formed birdie with her now-hubby paul kelly, who is a great photographer and makes films with the saint etienne gang. debs has also been singing with saint etienne since 1993; that is her voice you hear on “who do you think you are?“ along with the lovely sarah cracknell. we tried to interview debs back in nyc after a way-too-short birdie gig at fez, but it didn’t seem to work out. but when we got to see the dolly mixture documentary a couple summers ago, we were re-inspired. we caught up with the lady somewhat recently at the phoenix theatre bar in london…

chickfactor: I’ve wanted to interview you for a long tme. I don’t know if you remember this. we had a plan in new york once but it didn’t happen for some reason. after the dolly mixture documentary screening, I realized that it’s only a matter of time before the world discovers the dolly mixture.
debsey wykes: I wonder! it’s taking an awfully long time gail.
cf: when is the dvd coming out?
debs: it might come out at some point in the future. we haven’t been able to get in touch with the person who made it [the dolly mixture documentary]. he’s in hollywood I guess.
cf: would you like to see it come out?
debs: in a way because it makes me squirm a bit and makes me laugh but it’s also quite an unusual record of something that was going on. when you see things that were filmed over 20 years, well, it’s over 25 years ago, it’s amazing to see yourself and what you looked like because you sort of think you look the same and you don’t and also just the surroundings — what the other people looked like and all the cars! the clothes and the gig places and who was around, that’s sort of fascinating. there weren’t that many female bands.
cf: were there any that you were aware of at the time?
debs: we were aware of the slits and the modettes and the raincoats and there were other names whose music we’d never heard. we used to play a lot with a band called the gymslips and they became really good friends of ours. they were a three-piece. we just sort of gigged a lot together. of course there were the go-gos, who were terribly successful as far as we could see.
cf: they were a teenybopper band. they were kind of like the spice girls in the u.s.
debs: you’re kidding!
cf: they had top 40 songs and they did come from that l.a. hipster scene but they were like a mainstream band.
debs: they seemed very hip when we first knew them.
cf: they were hipper than the spice girls.
debs: when they first played in london they were supporting madness for a tour…
cf: what about the bangles? were they on your radar?
debs: not until we finished playing really.
cf: they were really good in their early days.
debs: they were brilliant. I remember hearing “going down to liverpool” on john peel’s show in ’85 or ’86, and I thought it was gorgeous. we had stopped playing by then, as dolly mixture, but there was more to come!
cf: what about the marine girls?
debs: a little bit. they got a lot more press coverage than us. I liked the marine girls, I thought they were really good. of course there was bananarama, but they were a different thing. more like a girl band now.


cf: you formed the dolly mixture when you were teenagers…
debs: yeah, we were at school.
cf: in the old photos you look like you were about 12.
debs: what happened was hester and I had a pretend band. this was before punk. we just play acted it at home and wrote fake newspaper articles and things. and just made up hilarious lyrics and stuff. at school suddenly everybody was forming bands. we were at a sixth form college. everybody was doing it. this girl we knew said “oh I’m singing at the school concert,” and we said “you lucky thing, you’re in a band?” and she said “yeah yeah yeah, you should come along, you can do backing vocals.” so we did backing vocals and it was so appalling that we split up immediately afterwards. and we said, let’s form our own band and we’ll play instruments. so we got rachel in, she was from the road that I lived in, and luckily she had a brother who was in cambridge’s big punk band the users, and they had equipment around their house. so we just went round and played on the equipment at her house and formed. and then somebody said “play at my party” and we said “yeah!” two months after we formed we had a set, and we could barely play but we did it. when we started, everyone loved it — they were just so impressed! probably just so surprised. it was hilarious.
cf: the word ‘indie’ hadn’t been invented yet in those days but that’s kind of what you guys were. what indie is now.
debs: we were sort of what it turned into.
cf: bob said he went to see you and that you guys were having so much fun onstage and just laughing a lot.
debs: we did laugh a lot onstage.
cf: other bands didn’t really do that. other girls in bands were trying to be really cool or something.
debs: yeah.
cf: what were your fans like?
debs: a real collection of…
cf: all boys?
debs: they weren’t all boys. there were so many different types. mods and punks and just people in sort of straight trousers and winkle pickers, all sorts of people.
cf: rock critics?
debs: a few…
cf: john peel?
debs: he didn’t come and see us but we played where he was djing so he saw us there. we did a road show with him and he was djing. and bless him he gave us half his money from the night and gently advised us to do fewer cover versions and more of our own stuff, cause we were doing half and half a set at the time. he was so wonderful and so brilliant. we were totally shy of him cause he just seemed so important to everyone’s existence. and then we were invited to do another one of his nights and then we did the session and then we never heard from him again. we did one in norwich and one in northampton somewhere.
cf: were you excitable fangirls about other groups?
debs: at the time we started, we’d been to gigs. we liked x-ray spex and the damned and blondie. blondie were a huge influence on us. when we listened to the first blondie tracks it was as if our band almost materialized. there were always certain songs that made you think, our band really exists. we could have a really good band. we were absolutely mad about the undertones for about three albums. we were obsessed and we supported them. we were keen on the jam too. I think we wanted to be the undertones. we were always listening and we were always being given stuff actually. the minute we started a band and did a gig, people would come up and say “i’ve got this record, maybe you’d like it?” and just give it to us. and say maybe you should listen to such-and-such. it was amazing what it generated with people around us. we were introduced to motown and velvet underground and all sorts of things. it was brilliant. punk was sort of happening alongside.
cf: were your parents worried about you going to gigs?
debs: oh yeah, terribly.
cf: did you go out on the road when you were teenagers?
debs: we did when we were 19 or so. we didn’t tour until a couple of years in, when we had left school and everything. it was when we sort of moved up to london. that’s when they started to get a bit worried! they always thought we were going to take drugs all the time.
cf: so what was the dolly mixture’s flat like?
debs: it was our manager’s flat and it was absolutely dire. he lived in these flats on charing cross road, they’ve been knocked down now, which overlooked soho market and chinatown. there were about two flats left that were occupied because they were gearing up to knock them down and he had one of them and it was basically two rooms and a toilet. there were junkies on the roof and on the stairs, it was a complete shock for us from our comfortable homes and our cats and our pianos.

(photo by gail o)
cf: there’s a thing called the rock & roll camp for girls. have you heard of it?
debs: wow, no.
cf: they’re starting one over here. in portland, oregon, they had one for 8 to 18 year old girls. they get there, they form bands and at the end of a week they have a gig.
debs: that’s crazy. it seems so normal — parents encourage it now. when we did it, it was a bit… not disgusting but there was still an edge of disapproval.
cf: you guys look so young and wholesome and innocent in those old photos, especially the other two, not that you don’t! it’s hard to imagine you in this punk scene where everyone was spitting…
debs: we were always in dirty places and we were always sort of grubby ourselves. we’d stayed in this dirty flat and we’d go home filthy. but we never got that enticed by…
cf: …debauchery?
debs: not really. we didn’t really have that much opportunity I suppose. but you see everyone we knew took drugs. it was all around us. but we hardly even drank. and it wasn’t even a conscious decision. I think we were very tunnel-visioned in a way, and a bit self-obsessed. we wanted to have a nice time but not realizing that some people had a nice time by getting completely out of it. I mean, obviously we probably tried the odd thing but it wasn’t what we were there for. we really were into our music, and also we just wanted to be loved.
cf: I wish I had known about bands like yours at the time. I didn’t really find out about any music like that until I went to college. I knew about blondie and patti smith.
debs: I used to love patti smith. it was before punk that I was really into patti smith. I used to listen to lots of heavy music as well — led zeppelin, black sabbath and deep purple and things. patti smith was slightly cooler.
cf: that was the funny thing about music at the time. you were only supposed to be into one or the other, you weren’t supposed to be into both. what’s wrong with liking everything that you like?
debs: it was definitely our sort of thing. it was always the song’s the thing. we didn’t care where it came from. we definitely started with the 60s thing and just got obsessed with anything that sounded like 60s music. it was all so undiscovered as well, there was so much to discover. which isn’t the same nowadays. then things were like gold dust — you hear something for the first time it was magical.
cf: nowadays it’s covers of things that we heard on the radio growing up.
debs: and everything’s an advert as well. paul’s and my favourite song — it was almost like ‘our song’— suddenly was in this advert. really disappointing! I didn’t think anybody had that.
cf: I guess it’s a real money-making temptation for a lot of bands.
debs: oh, I’d do it, especially now. I’ve never made any money out of music, apart from birdie, we got a bit of money from it records.
cf: growing up, was your family musical?
debs: my dad’s a musician. by night. he worked in an office in the daytime. he used to go and play music hall. he grew up playing classical piano. I used to play on my own when I was young, and then when I was 12 I started learning the piano. so they were really keen for me to do classical music. rachel’s parents were classical musicians — they were both violinists — so they were really quite surprised by their children who both went into bands. our ears were open.
cf: when did you decide, I want to write a song?
debs: when we started. once we had the band and we had to do something, we were so enthusiastic. it was accidental and then you start to get really serious about it. it’s funny, that transition from where you’re playing other people’s songs, which you love, and then your little stumbling efforts — two chords, three chords — and you’re really pleased you actually wrote a song. then you start to feel you’ve got a knack for it. then we became really, really serious about it.
cf: obviously you’ve been in a band [birdie] with your husband too, what was that like?
debs: kind of the same as not being in a band. we got together after we formed a band together. we’d already started writing things together.
cf: so you must have liked each other enough to form a band in the first place?
debs: oh yes. terribly keen. we’d spent a lot of time together on the road with saint etienne in the live band. we’d spent long hours together, we used to drink together and chat together. then saint etienne took a break, and we decided to form birdie. we had a few names before that. he used to come around and we’d play together and go to the pub. finally we decided to do a recording and jason [reynolds, summershine] put our first single out. I think it’s our best! that encouraged us. then we got signed on the promise that music would be good. so it records put out our first record.
cf: what about your own kids: are they musical at all?
debs: actually they are! sadie [nearly 10] won’t do any formal lessons but she loves picking out tunes. and I think donovan, who’s only just 2, is singing already.
cf: with a name like donovan…
debs: there’s some spirit in there!
cf: sadie will be ready for the girls rock! camp soon.
debs: she’d love it. she loves school of rock.
cf: the u.s. camps teach kids about body image and they learn self-defense as well.
debs: that’s quite good. it is really hard when you don’t have other people doing the same thing as you and people to identify with. I think it’s wonderful. it’s interesting to see what makes them different.
cf: what about rachel and hester? are you pals? do you see them?
debs: they both live in brighton. hester lives in brighton. I don’t see her. rachel I see every few months and we speak every now and then. she’s got a big family. she’s very busy in her village. I don’t know what she does all the time! I just know she’s very busy. she took her cello out again. she and her husband have been playing together a bit, in fields and at little festivals near brighton. we keep in touch and have a laugh about the old days.
cf: are you writing music these days?
debs: I try. I try. I don’t get much time. I’m quite exhausted really with the boy, family life in a cramped flat, it wears me out. I’ve got few little songs that I play on the guitar that are quite folky. three string songs they are, that I’d like to record one day because they’re different to what I’ve done before.
cf: how long have you been in saint etienne?
debs: I met them in 1992. in 1993, we did a duet, “who do you think you are?”, and I toured with them. it was great fun to do. I toured with them for a couple of years, and then it all stopped for years and years and years.
cf: and now you’re married into the same family.
debs: oh, I know I know. we all love each other so much.
cf: those crazy kelly brothers.
debs: it’s wonderful, it’s great. it’s a very close circle. they were going to do a greatest hits show at the palladium and they said “come and do ‘who do you think you are?’” and I said, “fantastic, I’d love to.” and they said, “would you like to do backing vocals for the rest of the set?” and it was great fun. and every time they’ve played since, I’ve been involved. I love it — it’s such fun.
cf: what’s it like going on tour with them? really sedate?
debs: no, it’s not sedate. especially the early gigs, that wasn’t sedate at all! we managed to stay up a lot. we did a lot of drinking. the best thing about it is that everyone is so hilarious. well, you know how funny they are.
cf: you and sarah both have two kids but you haven’t gained a pound. how do you do it?
debs: oh, I have!
cf: where?
debs: I can hide it under my cardigan and smock top. sarah actually is really skinny. after her kids, she’s just gotten skinny.
cf: have you ever had a day job?
debs: unfortunately, yeah. I’m not very well equipped at day jobs. the longest time I’ve ever worked at a day job was 10 months at a china and glass department in this big department store.
cf: sounds scary. did you knock things over?
debs: oh I did. so many near misses! I just looked at things and they fell down. I couldn’t bear it — I was so bored.
cf: so now the filmmaking supports you, is that it?
debs: something supports me, I certainly don’t know.
cf: is there a lot of unreleased dolly mixture stuff laying around?
debs: well, unfortunately, most of it’s been played on the internet. this really nice person in america took it off because we were thinking of re-releasing it ourselves. we said “keep the live gigs.” there are songs we did that I wish we had copies of, really peculiar things, more experimental things or stupid things. I’ve lost our first demo. none of us have it. I’ve lost rehearsal tapes. there’s loads I haven’t got.
cf: what about coming up roses?
debs: hmmm. the best thing about coming up roses was I met one of my best friends through that. that’s about it. we kept thinking we were going to be successful. we almost got signed to creation. we actually really weren’t that good. it was a bit of a mess. on the rebound from being in dolly mixture, a bit lost. I don’t like coming up roses.
cf: did you ever have to put up with hecklers?
debs: yes, we did, a lot, as dolly mixture.
cf: did you have comebacks ready for them?
debs: we never had any comebacks. we always did on the hoof and it was always either meaningless or luckily hit the spot. the one I remember hitting the spot most was when this boy was waving a condom at me and I was convinced he was saying “it’s too small! it’s too small!” or something — no, it was “it’s too big! it’s too big!” so I said, “oh, is it too big?” so everyone thought I was so brilliant saying is it too big. but in fact he’d given me the line already. the worst time was actually getting spat at.
cf: that is just so wrong.
debs: we did this tour supporting bad manners and they had a huge skinhead following who really hated us. we did over 20 dates on this tour and every night we got showered with spit. one night there was this foot-long thing hanging from the end of my bass for the entire gig, which we just found hilarious by then. they were so horrible, really nasty. we were just really determined to get to the end of the set. you don’t like us but we’re here! my parents came to see us in leicester and they just watched us get spattered. not pleasant. we supported the damned once as well and we got spat at as well but that was a sort of habit because it was a damned gig. that’s what we do.
cf: did you meet some appalling music biz people in those days?
debs: we met loads of appalling people! just about everybody who was in a record company at that point was vile. they were so big-headed!
cf: you say that as though things have changed…
debs: well, I don’t know. I imagine that people are more imaginative now. but there still must be some assholes. the guys were totally out of touch but they sort of assumed that they were in touch. they knew everything and they were sure that girls can’t play. almost everyone who ever wanted to sign us said, “we’ll sign you but you’ve got to have people playing on your record.” we were so angry about that. there were loads of bands who probably couldn’t play much better than us but because they weren’t female it was different. they just couldn’t sort of work out what we were. I suppose we couldn’t really work out what we were either. it was just weird.
cf: you were postpunk.
debs: we were postpunk but we didn’t sound postpunk. to me postpunk was something that certainly didn’t sound like us.
cf: another meaningless genre name, but I love that the term still exists.
debs: I remember reading one of those music magazines that did a whole issue about postpunk and apparently there was this whole ethic about it and they were doing some serious experimenting with sound. I couldn’t bear it!
cf: they couldn’t think of what to call music then.
debs: it’s like “punk” and “new wave.”
cf: who were you swooning over in those days?
debs: well, eventually one of the undertones. we swooned over the captain a bit, captain sensible. we were all a bit taken with him. he was wonderful. so interesting and funny. people like that really.
cf: what about now?
debs: there’s no one I swoon over now! the only band I’ve seen recently are the magic numbers, I love them. I don’t swoon over them, but I do like their music. the first time I saw them I was pregnant with my last child, and I was trembling with tears the whole time. I was blown over. they were doing things that I love, like playing the glockenspiel and singing girl-group harmonies, lovely pauses in the songs, and they just take their time. I love harmonies. that’s what I want to do, I just want to sing harmonies with people.
cf: are you being deprived of that?
debs: totally!
cf: is it because your filmmaker husband doesn’t have time for that?
debs: it’s because he’s never home! and because saint etienne don’t do enough. yeah. they’re not busy in a live sense at all. I have no time.
cf: what have you been listening to?
debs: northern soul. I keep harking back to old-school house music. I hear little bits on adverts and I want to have the record, the “I can’t wait for the weekend” sort of thing. some folk compilations that bob made for us that are absolutely magical. I don’t get much chance to hear music. I’m even going back into my past now. I’m addicted to christmas carols. [we go on and on about the ultra-fab phil spector christmas album] sometimes when you don’t get the chance to listen to music that much, especially your favorite songs, you realize how powerful they are. one song that always gets me is “lay lady lay” — every time I hear it I just collapse. I love hearing choral things this time of year.
cf: bob said you guys used to apologise between every song.
debs: we did do a lot of apologizing actually.
cf: thanks debs.
• listen to and learn about the dolly mixture here and here
• it’s easy to find footage of the dolly mixture’s “been teen”, a video for birdie’s “folk singer” and saint etienne performing “who do you think you are?” on youtube.com

the button-down mind of gaylord fields.

gaylord fields has been in chickfactor-land for many years. we once gave him our old job at spin magazine in the grunge era (lucky him!), we share a great deal of good taste in music with the guy, and we forced him to write for timeout new york and of course chickfactor. he has been DJing at the fantastic freeform new jersey radio station wfmu for ages and he does this thing every year with yo la tengo — well, let him tell you about it… (interview by gail o)

chickfactor: what exactly is this whole yo la thing you do every year on wfmu?
gaylord: wfmu is a noncommercial radio station in the new york/new jersey area that derives its income, with rare exceptions, entirely from our listening audience. every year without fail since 1996, yo la tengo, with guitarist bruce bennett on hand as the honorary “fourth tengo,” has appeared on my show (or, when there’s been a scheduling conflict, we’ve taken over some other poor soul’s show) and performed requests suggested by the listeners in order to raise cash during our annual fundraising drive. the idea is that for a particular dollar amount, they will do a request of the caller, with the stipulation that it not be an actual yo la tengo song. the uncanny results of several of these sessions have been released as yo la tengo is murdering the classics, on their own egon label.
what is the point?
maybe the point for them is to atone for atrocties performed by the band members in their previous lives. but they also prostrate themselves for wfmu‘s audience to help raise funds for the station, which they have supported in so many ways throughout the years and for which we are eternally grateful.
is the record any good?
despite what ira has said in the press (and in the record’s liner notes and every other opportunity he gets), it really is — just be mindful that in no way does it resemble the yo la tengo we all know and love. keeping in mind they’re playing songs they’ve literally never attempted before and that they had maybe two, three minutes to devise arrangements for, the yo la tengoness shines though in even the most shambolic renditions. besides, they perform “meet the mets” (the theme song of my favorite baseball team) and “don’t worry, kyoko” (my second favorite yoko song). and if you’re still not sold on it, the three of them are beautifully drawn by graphic novelist adrian tomine on the cover, as am I — which fulfilled my lifelong goal of being rendered as a comic-strip character.
how long have you known them?
I’ve known ira and georgia for 20 years, when I moved into the house where they and hoboken musical impresario todd abramson (maxwells, telstar records) resided, at todd’s invitation. I was their housemate for six or seven years. I’ve known james since he joined the band a few years hence.
which one is the meanest?
I’ve witnessed georgia taking a hammer to a beauty parlor chair, which is the meanest act I’ve seen any of them perpetrate.
the humblest?
they’re all exceedingly humble without any right to be in my musical opinion, especially considering they now tour in a big bus that has not one but two videogame systems in it.
the sexiest?
I’ve seen both ira and georgia in their pajamas, so they’re tied for the sexy prize. (sorry, james — but maybe this will be incentive to finally have that pj party where you show brigitte bardot clips and episodes of the magic johnson talk show.)
have you ever performed with yo la tengo? details please.
I can recall a few instances: the first was when todd and I did an on-the-air radio (wfmu, natch — before I was a dj there) phone-in duet on “farmer john” with them. the purpose was to test the setup for daniel johnston, who later gave his legendary phoned-in “speeding motorcycle” performance. I feel like I’m part of rock history for my contribution. another time, I sang a song during their encore at a knitting factory show — I don’t recall what it was. a third instance was when I sang the dictators’ “next big thing” with them at a show at maxwells in hoboken. I also participated in two of their world-renowned hanukkah shows. the first time, I sang two kiss songs — “strutter” and “calling doctor love” while standup comic todd barry banged on a drum in full peter criss makeup. the second was a dream come true — I performed a duet with lois, whose music I’ve admired for ages, on “je t’aime (moi non plus)” that was especially fun considering neither of us speaks a word of french! oh, have I mentioned that I can’t really sing?
are you a performer in your own right?
no, but people often confuse me with this guy called “the great gaylord” — he “sings” fifties-style screaming r&b. I hate his stupid grandiose name.
how long have you been a “mr dj man”?
while I’ve been doing radio at wfmu since 1992, I’ve only held the (purely honorary) title “mr dj man” since I was dubbed thusly by bob guccione jr circa 1996. radio is a great creative outlet for me, or at least doing freeform sets on wfmu is. if I had to cease doing it there, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. no, wait — I could envision myself doing one specific kind of formatted program somewhere else: I’ve on occasion played some easy listening/lounge/exotica/beautiful music sets on luxuriamusic.com and could see myself doing that on an irregular basis. as for discothèque dj gigs, from time to time I spin 45s at sixties soul dance nights.
what’s on heavy rotation right now?
as for old stuff — japanese gagaku (imperial court music), the lovin’ spoonful, ennio morricone and los shakers (because I dig fake beatles the utmost). way too much music from brazil, both old (like jorge ben) and new (such as marisa monte), is always part of my life’s soundtrack as well. I’ve recently emerged from a 1930s male crooners (gene austin, russ columbo, bing crosby, al bowlly) phase. also, I’ve just pulled out all my kirsty maccoll records, because I wish she were still alive to make music, so that’s what I’m reacquainting myself with next. as for what’s happening now, I listen to way too many swedish groups and can’t wait for the new concretes album after hearing their new post-victoria bergsman single “oh no.” and there’s a bossa nova song on the great new mary weiss record that was pretty much made for me!
you’re very snappily dressed for an indie rock dude. do you have any style advice for the gents?
fellas, iron those shirts! every ladyfriend I’ve ever had (including my wife) has given me extra credit for a) wearing pressed shirts, and b) ironing them myself. I’m strictly a button-down shirt wearer, because I like the timelessness of that look, but I sport the occasional steve mcqueen-inspired turtleneck for variety. I pretty much steer clear of the vintage gear or anything that evokes a particular era (my wife runs a vintage clothing shop — sorry, kathleen), with the exception of 1960s suits, which I prefer for some reason that’s most likely deep-seated and atavistic — probably a catholic school holdover.
any flirting tips, since you are known to be a huge flirt?
am I, really? that’s news to me! have you gals been comparing notes? well, eye of the beholder, I suppose. perhaps it’s that I really enjoy the company of women, and I think of myself as a good listener (as clichéd as that is), so take conversation seriously but have fun with it too. show off your sense of playfulness and humor, but don’t be a joke steamroller. also, always steer the conversation to how you like to iron your own shirts.

the broadcast is this friday march 16 at 8-11pm east coast us time — and yes, it’s streamed live at wfmu.org

photograph: kathleen o’malley

all dressed up in dreams.

stephen coates is the real tuesday weld. since we discovered him in the grim year of 2001, we have found much escapism and comfort in his whispery croons, crackly old-fashioned melodies and his fine pop platters. he is the sort who needs a theme to get the tunes moving — and a recent theme is dreams. together with the band he has written, performed and recorded a score for the surrealist film dreams that money can buy with david piper and cibelle narrating. I witnessed it at the nft but it all really came into place at the grand-scale turbine hall in the tate modern last year, where listeners sat on pillows and sipped champagne whilst watching the film and hearing the score. the real tuesday weld is playing a few dates soon in london, russia, edinburgh and some summer festivals. they’re nearly finished with their third album. stephen is collaborating with alex budovsky, who is doing the animations to teach kids to read — see lilipip.com. he just did a track for the rothko room at the tate modern as part of their tate tracks series. stephen’s best mate glen duncan wrote a novel called I, lucifer, which is now filming on the streets of london and starring terence stamp and ewan mcgregor so if they have any sense the filmmakers will use the real tuesday weld’s soundtrack which was created years ago. we caught up with stephen to find out what he was dreaming about…

chickfactor: why did you choose dreams that money can buy to score? was it your idea? what was it like playing it at the tate modern? will you collaborate with cibelle again?
stephen: I was introduced to it by marek pytel of reality film — it was that or the amazing f for fake by orson welles — but the look and subject matter (dreams. art. psychotherapy. loss) of the richter film seemed perfect. the tate show was amazing — I never imagined we would do something like that — and I love that building. it was immense and it felt like a unique experience — can’t imagine playing somewhere that tall again. I hope to do something else with cibelle — we keep talking about it. we are still doing the dreams show — belfast film festival this month.
it seems like dreams play a big part in your waking life. apart from that one about waking up in bed with the proclaimers (I love that one), what dreams have you had that you still remember today? do you ever hear music in your dreams and try to remember it when waking up?
the proclaimers one was worse than you remember — I dreamt that I was asleep and woke up between them — it was awful. they were both just staring at me through their glasses. I still keep my dream diary and I think that something from the dreams infiltrates the work but my attempts to write songs about dreams haven’t been particularly successful except in a couple of cases — and they were really more like songs about dreaming. to catch a dream needs quite a lot of words and subtlety — maybe not best suited to the song structure —- it just sounds like bad poetry. I have very beautiful music in dreams and usually it leaves you on waking but the tune from that song ‘dreaming of you’ I heard in a dream — or maybe the vibe of it at least. the other night I dreamt of a horse with a woman’s head down by the thames again — that’s a repeating one. I dreamt that the fleet river flowed again — in the valley down behind gray’s inn road. I have been having apocalyptic london dreams — walking through the city in darkness with all sorts of people from all different times crowding around.
you seem to spend a lot of time travelling all over england/wales/scotland etc. what are your favourite places to see?
I had some very peculiar experiences in the cambrian mountains west wales a few years ago and like to go back there. I did a kind of archaeological survey of a particular valley and identified all the prehistoric sites there. it’s very beautiful and strange. we have been going to skye a bit — most recently for a funeral. nix’s uncle died and her cousin hugh became the new clan chief of the macleods — like in highlander your favourite film. the west coast of scotland is mind-blowing — the perfect antidote to (and appetiser for) london.
how has the internet changed the way you find out about music and the way people find out about you? do you sell any records? or is it all from mp3 purchases? and what about this podcasting stuff and blogging? do you do that? is it fun?
I rarely use it to find out about music myself — because I seem to have plenty to listen to already but I think it’s been very empowering for musicians — you can bypass the normal distribution channels blah, blah, blah… I hate the way myspace looks but it’s an amazing thing and there is no doubt that many more people have heard what I have been doing because of all that. the records seem to sell fairly steadily in small quantities. I’ve got no idea about how many downloads there have been. I can only assume from your question that you haven’t been keeping up with my podcasting and blogsite — shame on you gail… but I love that — I think that was the most enjoyable thing last year and I am gearing up for another series now.
how many commercials have you done (don’t be ashamed)? are there any products you would refuse to give your music to? do you make a living off music?
maybe 10-15? most of the ones you see on tv which sound like the real tuesday weld aren’t. I have turned down several — including something very lucrative – much to the chagrin of certain people. I won’t do meat — or guns. I have mostly made a living from music for the last three / four years.
which artists are you keen to collaborate with? did you ever hear back from jane birkin?
you know, I never tried jane b — but I loved her latest — that was really great. I am doing a few collaborations for this next record — shirley bassey would be my fantasy.

photograph: the real tuesday weld live in berlin, 2004, gail o’hara

mini interview: joan as police woman!


joan wasser has been around chickfactor’s world for many years. she played at our second ever live gig with mary timony — they used to make an amazing sound together with just violin and guitar and singing, and of course she played in dambuilders, black beetle, etc. these days I see her solo project posters (she’s called joan as police woman) all over london and she’s getting raved about everywhere we look. her real life album is coming out in the states on cheap lullaby records on 12 june, and before that you can find her playing sxsw, headlining her way across the EU and then touring the US and australia (see her website for dates) — joan is busy! — before she starts making another record in autumn for a 2008 release. we checked in with the foxy lady for to see what’s going on…

chickfactor: are the other members of your band scared of you, or are you scared of them?
joan: I think everyone in the band has moods that the others would not exactly beg to experience. but scared? not yet.
which member of your band is the one who gets picked on by the others? it’s got to be the drummer guy, right?
I guess so ben looks like he’s asking for it, doesn’t he? he’s also the most gullible at times, so we can all get him a little riled up. but really he’s also the sweetest.
what’s it like being in a band with rainy?
it’s like getting to the top of mount everest.
do you plan any other identities — joan as astronaut, joan as paramedic?
oh god. I think being a police woman is enough. it’s funny now when I see cops I have a completely different feeling about them. I feel like madonna co-opting all the faggotry for her own uses except I am just using the police dept. sometimes I think they are the biggest bottoms and are somewhere begging to be used. you are certainly welcome to disagree.
you’ve always had fabulous (and at times BIG) hair. do you have any beauty secrets?
ummm, I try to walk in a straight line nowadays it’s easier now that I stopped drinking. also, I know that it’s been touted as a bonus for hair, but I found that beer does NOT help voluminous hair stay voluminous. so stay away from that PBR girls!
got any crushes? what is the secret to getting what you want in love and sex?
I think that loving yourself is the greatest way to get whatever it is you need, in love and sex and in life in general. when you are honestly happy with yourself and the way you carry yourself in the world, it is then that you attract the kind of person you want to be with and you naturally develop the ability to ask for what you want and need. this concept has taken me until NOW to figure out. and I have finally fallen in love. for the first time. because I can now look myself in the eye without flinching. previously, I was just running. I finally got tired enough to face myself. here’s to exhaustion!

thanks to peter momtchiloff for question help!
photograph: courtesy joan as police woman

sidelady to the stars.

margaret white: the chickfactor interview


above: margaret while touring with belle and sebastian (nice sideburns!)

margaret white is an all-around great gal who happens to be an extremely talented violinist and singer. we met as bandmates on a sparklehorse tour in 2001. it was a zany year, and bonded us forever. since then she’s moved from chapel hill to brooklyn and has become an in-demand multi-instrumentalist, touring the world and recording with some pretty fabulous bands: the comas, cat power, belle and sebastian, portastatic, calexico and many, many others. recently she’s done a record with a band called ghosts I’ve met, singing beautiful boy-girl country duets that are so pretty that her dog likes to sing along. interview: kendall meade

chickfactor: who are you playing with now? all the a-listers, no doubt…
margaret: oh, but of course! I guess the ones that are kind of the constants right now are portastatic, kevin devine, jennifer o’connor, ghosts I’ve met, and of course mascott. and then there are always the random shows I get called in for – a few weeks ago I played with calexico at lincoln center and had a blast – and I’m hoping that there will be many more of those kind of things. they keep me on my toes! makes my life a bit crazy and scheduling can be a bit tricky at times. especially when you factor in the day job as well…but luckily all the people I play with are extremely understanding so if I have to miss shows I don’t get in too much trouble!
what are your favorite cities to play in/visit?
hmm, that’s a tough one because there are so many that have their individual good memories or friends or places, ones that are walking-friendly are definitely a plus since I usually don’t have any other transportation on tour! the ones that immediately jump to mind are portland and seattle (probably mainly because I was there last week). I have friends in both of those so it always makes it fun, and the cities themselves just feel really comfortable and friendly. chapel hill is a given because I lived there for 11 years so I have tons of friends and I still think of it as home since I can walk anyplace and probably know at least half the people there. and athens feels like home since it’s the nice southern college town and I know where to go for the good veggie food options. oh, and london and dublin are filled with friends and there have been some great shows in both, plus I’ve gotten to actually spend more time in those places! I always smile when I think of edinburgh because of that carousel you and scott and I discovered on the sparklehorse tour, best pound spend on that tour!
please tell the world about your singing dog.
he’s the best! he’s so talented. I think I’m going to have to bring him on tour with me and we can sing duets. maybe when ghosts I’ve met goes on tour. samson loves singing to those songs… I got him last january from one of the shelters in new york and he was somewhere around 2 1/2 or 3 years old. the first time I heard him sing I thought I was imagining it because it was just really briefly when I was getting ready for work one day. I think he was feeling shy since we didn’t know each other well so once I noticed he stopped. it was probably another month or so before it happened again. the first song he really got into singing was sloop john b from the beach boys pet sounds (of course) album. now he’ll sing to tons of stuff. not everything – he’s selective – but a lot. countryish songs, or really anything with harmonies. and the other morning he was singing along to opera on npr. it sometimes makes it difficult when I’m trying to learn songs (like for the calexico show the other week) because, though he doesn’t sing all that loud, he blends in well so it’s harder to pick out the parts I need to learn… he’s just amazing because he actually has really good phrasing and sings pretty much in tune! I took a little video on my phone a couple weeks ago and played it to musician friends, in part so they would believe me, and everyone was duly impressed with his talent!
north carolina vs brooklyn?
right now I’d have to say brooklyn. I really love north carolina and am so happy that I have reason to go back pretty regularly since portastatic is based there and pretty much any tours through the south go to the triangle area (raleigh, durham, chapel hill). it’s great to see everyone and I have so many amazing friends down there, and I do still think it feels like home a little more than brooklyn. but I love it up here and really have no desire to move back south, at least right now. plus so many friends are moving here from north carolina and other places that sometimes it feels like chapel hill here, and of course there are way more of the random recording and show opportunities here for me. with touring it never really mattered where I was living since it’s all traveling anyway, but for one-off gigs and whatnot it definitely helps to be in the big city!


margaret and kendall playing a chickfactor gig (mon gala papillons) in london, 2004.


margaret and interviewer kendall out on the town.

photographs: courtesy of margaret white; alistair fitchett

baby where art thou?


the legendary jim ruiz is one of the classic chickfactor singer-songwriters. his swoon-worthy songs, his gentle jazzy guitar moves, his humble ways, we love the guy. the only thing to complain about is how little music he has generated over the years! that is all going to change now that his fans have a way of contacting him (via, you know, the internet). I gave a copy of sniff to a handsome man in 2006 and it didn’t do much good, but if I were handing out valentines tomorrow I’d be sure to put the lovely legendary jim ruiz tune “be my valentine” in there too. pam interviewed the legendary jim ruiz group for cf back in 1995 or something, so we figured it was time for an update…

chickfactor: hi jim, what happened to the legendary jim ruiz group?
jim ruiz: I wasn’t sure myself, but then I was hitchhiking in glacier national park with my girlfriend laura and this older couple picked us up. I noticed a guitar and started talking gear with him. his wife asked if I was in a band and I told her I used to be. when she asked me why I quit, I blurted out “I guess I ran out of songs!”
where are the members?
they have gone on to find success in their various fields. allison is in the owls and they are about to release their second album. chris is still going strong at the minneapolis public library. he found love, he’s been with his boyfriend jeff for over a year now. stephanie has released a couple of cds and I hear she’s thinking of moving to england. danny sigelman is working for the current, a public radio station devoted to playing non-commercial modern music and he also DJs events. charlotte is married and has had two baby girls, sally and jane.
what are you doing?
I’m still working at the public library and I am also the president of my neighborhood association, the west bank community coalition.
where is the next album?
after a couple of years doing practically no music, I bought a 16-track digital recording thing. that really became my band and I’ve been working songs out on that. I’ve been fortunate enough to get help from friends and people who I would call “old jazz guys.” so my goal is to have 10 songs that I’m really happy with, I’m recording #9 now and writing #10, although I have some options for #10.
do you have a website? blog? etc.
it’s funny you should ask, I’m in the process of getting my new myspace page up and running. although it’s not even finished, I just shattered the 100 hit mark yesterday! I’m using a picture you took as my signature picture.
is minneapolis still a great pop town?
if it’s not at the moment it certainly has the potential to be. okay, we took a hit when grimsey left town but minneapolis is a musical place, it’s part of its culture. there are a lot of really great musicians around here. I think it’s only a matter of time before something happens, and now we have a radio station that will play local music that goes to the whole state; the conditions are favorable for a pop explosion.
didn’t prince leave town recently?
I would be surprised if he didn’t live here at least part of the year. his house is in minnetonka anyway, I think that’s mentioned in his movie.
what music still resonates?
I can now say with a great deal of certainty that my favorite jazz vocalist of all time is lee wiley and that the album that is the pinnacle of that genre is her west of the moon album with ralph burns. with the exception of the track “limehouse blues,” it is perfection. in fact at this very moment I am listening to her night in manhattan album that I just received in the mail today. it’s amazing, what an amazing voice, buy, buy, buy! everybody should own the mose allison sings album. he’s like an undiscovered ray charles; he should be a thousand times more famous than he is. the first two françoise hardy albums, yeah, yeah girl from paris and in vogue are still magical. I’m more and more impressed by the maturity of the would-be-goods songwriting, I just put the morning after on the other day and I think that the album has high points that haven’t been reached since the 80s. bossa nova as a genre, particularly as more brazilian stuff becomes available – an ongoing project. 60s soul music, now I’m cheating I suppose. georgie fame playing “yeah, yeah” live on ready, steady, go (1965) on youtube gives me heart palpitations. the smiths were in retrospect much better than people gave them credit for at the time, myself included. live at the star club 1962 continues to be my favorite beatles album. I have to acknowledge that in retrospect the jazz butcher/max eider alliance at a pivotal moment made me think “hey, I could write songs like that,” causing me to throw away my life on a useless dream.
what is the news on max eider?
coincidentally, I’ve been in touch with max eider and he is about to release a new album that he is self-producing. he is considering playing a couple of shows in the u.s. and let’s just say I feel like we’re in the running for a chance of warming up for him. in any case I’m putting a band together for the first time in 6 years – just in case.
do you feel like writing songs?
I always feel like writing songs, finishing them is the real problem.
when are you coming to london?
once I get this next cd done, invite me and I’ll do my best. cf

photograph: gail o’hara

it’s a dump.

jm-dump
dump is a lazy band from brooklyn. they never do enough music for the kids. they go on the road with some other band, which is really annoying! get to work, dump. for chrissakes, we need a new dump box set. we tracked down the dump guy for an exclusive interview.

cf: where is my new dump album?
dump: it’s not done yet.
cf: what has dump been watching on tv? now that dump is a tv star who has starred on the gilmore girls and the simpsons, what other shows does he want to be on?
dump: I’ve been watching heroes, the wire, lucky louie, pitagora suichi and talk sex with sue johanson. I wouldn’t mind being in the audience of a judge judy.
cf: what is dump eating on the road with his other band?
dump: I’ve been eating cuban food in miami, somewhere near the corner of stab whitey and kill whitey. bbq from dreamland (the tuscaloosa branch, but delivered to us in birmingham) was stout and soulful. I couldn’t find anything to eat in orlando so instead I bought records (eddie bo, skull snaps, chubb rock, beach boys “breakway” 45, released the day I was born!). fried chicken in tallahassee. very good cheeseburger at pete’s in knoxville. jonathan marx brought me cookies from nashville’s best bakery, becker’s.
cf: what does dump download, listen to, watch, whatever, on the innernet?
dump: recipes, sports scores, directions, occasionally music, “can’t stop the bleeding,” hardcore pornography, flipper videos on youtube, and streaming wfmu.
cf: where is my dump box set? badges? promotional vinyl carrying case?
dump: I don’t know where your dump box set is. same goes for the badges. I don’t even know how to address the matter of the promotional vinyl carrying case. those would all be pretty cool, because the first two things could fit inside the third thing, and you could carry them all around like that, and then it’d be really easy to know exactly where they all were. but I haven’t made any of those things yet.
cf: why is dump ignoring the fans? when will he deliver the goods?
dump: I’m not ignoring dump fans, quite the contrary. I finally started a dump myspace spage, where I am conversing freely, practically like a normal person. I’m posting new, unreleased and hard-to-find songs there from time to time, as well as original artwork.
cf: normal, hmm? ha ha, keep trying.

dump is on myspace apparently, but we would prefer a new vinyl product

pipas are people.

just like dead can dance, pipas have become one of those bands that reside in various locales, currently lupe is in london and mark’s in brooklyn. we caught up with the big-haired chanteuse/songcrafter/multi-tasker lupe nunez-fernandez and she was kind enough to answer our mini-interview questions. she says that they plan to record a new album in march, “might play some shows after that,” have cds for sale and t-shirts (the sorry tour design) and maybe a bag or two via pipasforthepeople.com…..

what is the weirdest thing someone has said about your new album sorry love?
that it’s too long. no just kidding, I think I dreamt that. the weirdest thing anyone’s said is that they thought we’d broken up! you go quiet for a while… no people, we’re here to stay, at least for a while.
what do the pipas fans look like?
many different ways. too tall too short too skinny and too fat all rolled into one, and let me tell you, they always look damn good. they always look like they’re high on caffeine. generally they look happy. they usually go for the natural cruelty free look. big hair and glasses. you dig what I’m saying? can’t complain.
we hear that mark powell is the pipas fashion stylist. what does he tell you to wear?
he tells me all sorts of stuff but it’s pearls before swine, I never listen. I used to try to cleverly mis-match t-shirt slogans, like he’d wear his ‘I’m an army wife’ shirt and I’d obviously reach for my ‘sweet burger’ number (my other band. I mean my other-other-other band gail!). in general the plaid button down look never fails. I won’t include my mariachi shirt in that category, that’s not such a popular number in our dressing room. I wanna dress like pidg [mark’s nickname] and one day I will.
where have you received the best vegan food and or hospitality on tour?
well many places! our recent show in leipzig was unexpectedly preceded by our friend’s delicious vegetable gratin — so decadent, total stick to the ribs sort of half, double, and quadruple soy cream involved. we were practically licking the dishes. everyone treats us too nicely. germany in general fantastic for vegans — it’s the land that produced among other things green peppercorn streich, now a staple in our tour bag. if you’ve never had this… gothenburg was extraordinary this past time, we stayed with our heroic friend who is a vegan chef in his free hours… so it was a long and delicious 4 course meal, including the biggest artichokes we’ve ever seen and homemade swedish waffles with lots of sauces. genoa for the farinata (deliciously unctuous savory chickpea crepe bought at a bakery at 3 in the morning). finland, finland, what did we eat in finland? great coffee across the street from kiasma in helsinki. barcelona for annika’s gorgeous toy kitchen stocked with all kinds of friendly delights. madrid for, um, churros. utrera outside seville gave us ajoblanco, that vinegary white garlic soup otherwise known as the nectar of life. athens was good to us — good beans eating in, good beans eating out, and ecstatically good olives all around. if we look back over the last few years, it would be hard to overlook australia and california as wholes — best tofu scrambles, flat whites, homemade baked beans, waffles, etc etc. in new york I find there is too much fake meat, too much tofu, too much salt. not complaining! but things don’t have to be the same always. we also enjoyed the humble diet-like vegetables in tomato sauce and garlic rye croutons in estonia. as long as there’s something to put in our stomach — preferably involving bread, olive oil and coffee — we ok.
for more details on the dyn-o-mite duo, head to pipas blog and pipas site

photograph: gail o’hara