Heavenly + Swansea Sound Share Their Best Coast Faves, Add West Coast Dates

We are here to inform you that—OH HELL YEAH!—legendary UK indiepop band Heavenly and indie supergroup Swansea Sound are coming to play shows in the USA! So we asked the band members to come up with lists of their favorite West Coast things and memories. (Photos courtesy of the bands)

Heavenly + Swansea Sound in NYC: 
May 31-June 1 in Brooklyn: shows are sold out
June 1: Heavenly daytime event

Swansea Sound East Coast: 
June 2: Queens, NYC, TransPecos
June 5: Washington DC, Quarry House Tavern
June 6: Providence, RI, Alchemy
June 7: Boston, MA, O’Brien’s
June 8: New York, NY, Knitting Factory
June 9: Philadelphia, PA, Johnny Brenda’s

Heavenly + Swansea Sound West Coast: 
Oct. 15: Seattle, Tractor Tavern (with Tullycraft)
Oct. 16: Portland, Mississippi Studios (with All Girl Summer Fun Band)
Oct. 18: San Francisco, Rickshaw Stop
Oct. 22-23: Los Angeles, Zebulon.

What Heavenly and Swansea Sound Love About the West Coast


Cathy Rogers (Heavenly, Marine Research, Gilroy)
1.
Driving through trees for hours and hours between Portland and SF or is it Oly and Portland? America does everything on a scale so big for us Brits
2. The Original Pantry in LA, my first experience of a cafe open 365 and 24/7, the door constantly swinging
3. The unbelievable smell of Gilroy. Everyone says oh you’ll smell it miles before you get there and you think they’re exaggerating then you smell that they’re not
4. Monterey aquarium and the whole feeling of Monterey and canning and those pummelling words
5. Swap meets in San Luis Obispo, getting up in the middle of the night to rummage around in other people’s drawers of kitchen utensils to find just the right shaped thing you don’t know what to do with
6. Lovely Olympia people. The indie punk memories of the US all centre around or connect in some way with Olympia
7. Snorkelling in kelp off Catalina island. A 90degree change in the angle of your head is all it takes to enter a parallel universe
8. Staying in an airstream by the river in Kernville. I co-owned an airstream when I lived in LA and went up to stay in it at weekends and float in giant tractor tyres down the river
9. Jumping kangaroo rats and cactuses in Joshua Tree National Park. Shame U2 appropriated its name.
10. Pie. The whole west coast. And east coast, and middle. Whole shops, whole restaurants, whole lives committed to pie.

Amelia and Hue, image courtesy of the artists

Hue Williams (Swansea Sound, the Pooh Sticks)
1. City Lights bookstore
2. Meeting Johnny Guitar Watson the first time I visited LA who invited me to swim in his guitar shaped pool
3. Sky Saxon and the Seeds
4. The Griffith Observatory
5. Meeting Brian May at Universal Studios
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Arthur Lee and Love
8. Linda Perhacs
9. Attending the world premiere of the Beavis and Butthead movie at the Chinese theatre and the aftershow party with Tarantino where Issac Hayes was the star guest
10. The Six Million Dollar Man

Amelia Fletcher (Heavenly, Swansea Sound, the Catenary Wires, Marine Research, Tender Trap, Talulah Gosh, Skep Wax Records)
1. Olympia: Our US home from home.
2. Riot grrrl: A global phenomenon but Olympia was where it started and also where we first discovered it. Heavenly weren’t exactly a riot grrrl band, but it had a big influence on us.
3. Heavenly’s show with Tiger Trap in Sacramento: One of my all time favourite shows. I seem to remember it was in someone’s basement without their parents’ knowing. Tiger Trap were on roller skates. It was everything a show should be.
4. The competition between K Records and Kill Rock Stars to be the best label in Olympia/the world at that time. They both won.
5. Slumberland Records: So good for such a prolonged period. Current faves include The Umbrellas and Lightheaded.
6. Gidget: Both the book and the film. I have no idea why I love this, as I have zero interest in surfing; it just got to me.
7. The long-time liberal attitudes to sexuality and gender on the West Coast. Yep, had to say it. Important.
8. Silicon Valley: For giving Swansea Sound so much lyrical source material.
9. The Aislers Set: Such an amazing way with a tune. Linton = ❤️.
10. Beat Happening: The music I want played at my funeral. The music we did play at my brother’s.

Ian recording with Thrashing Doves at Rumbo Recorders in LA ‘86

Ian Button (Heavenly, Swansea Sound, Death In Vegas)
1. Little Richard winding down his limo window to say hello in the car park of the Hyatt.
2. Anthony Perkins stepping out of the lift at The Hollywood Roosevelt.
3. Seeing The Replacements at Santa Barbara ’87.
4. Waking up from an earth tremor.
5. A strawberry next to your eggs and bacon.
6. “What are grits, please?” “You English? You won’t like ’em!”
7. Death In Vegas @ Bimbos 365 SF ’97.
8. Surplus store near Ripley’s Odditorium – proper raw denim Levi’s
9. Hearing Todd R. ‘Hello It’s Me’ for the first time, on the radio, driving along Sunset Blvd., top down.
10. Hot apple cider in Seattle in November.

Peter in the Capitol Theatre, Olympia

Peter Momtchiloff (Heavenly, the Would-Be-Goods, Tufthunter, Marine Research, Talulah Gosh, many more)
North to South:
1. Sylvia Hotel, Stanley Park, Vancouver
2. Bellingham summer philosophy conference
3. Anacortes IPA
4. Roasted Olympia oysters
5. All Freakin’ Night at Olympia film fest
6. Olympia pet parade
7. The decor at the Brotherhood Lounge, Oly
8. Dumpster Values, Oly
9. Sprung dance floor at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland
10. Chez Panisse
11. Hummingbirds in Golden Gate Park
12. Midnight tour of historic downtown LA

Rob and Calvin (“P.U.N.K. Girl” video shoot)

Rob Pursey (Heavenly, Swansea Sound, The Catenary Wires, Skep Wax Records, Talulah Gosh, Marine Research)
1. Filming a video for “P.U.N.K. Girl” in the Capitol Theatre, Olympia
2. ‘Would you like that covered and smothered?’
3. Cinnamon-scented garbage
4. ‘That sounded totally SWEDISH’ (San Diego promoter, of our soundcheck, approvingly)
5. Vaginal Davis hosting the Marine Research show in LA
6. Tiger Trap
7. Hanging with Candice and Calvin at K Records HQ
8. Visiting Kill Rock Stars HQ, just down the street from K. (I just realised that this list is very Olympia-centric)
9. The Microphones
10. Driving for 8 hours and nothing happening

Swansea Sound (Bob in center)

Bob Collins (Swansea Sound, the Treasures of Mexico, the Dentists)
1. Monterey Pop
2. Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass
3. Laurel and Hardy driving in LA with a record player under the hood
4. Ray Manzarek’s almost certainly made-up story about meeting Jim Morrison on Venice Beach and forming the Doors
5. The geographical absurdity of Point Roberts
6. The fact that the members of Love all lived in a house called The Castle.
7. The day that Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark went to the movies in LA to see A Hard Day’s Night
8. Mulholland Drive

READ: Hue and Amelia Interview Each Other (Swansea Sound)
READ: Heavenly in the USA 
READ: The Catenary Wires Interview
READ: Our All Girl Summer Fun Band Interview

LA show is October 23, 2024!!!
From the archive
Eddie Vedder and Cathy Heavenly (she didn’t know who he was!)
“P.U.N.K. Girl” video shoot
Cathy watching Lois in San Jose

Heavenly in the U.S.A.

In honor of the forthcoming Heavenly reissues (Skep Wax will rerelease all the Heavenly LPs on vinyl soon: Heavenly vs Satan is available on pre-order now; Le Jardin de Heavenly will follow next April and the other two will come along at six month intervals)—in addition to the John Peel Sessions on Precious Recordings and the announcement of the band’s forthcoming gigs at Bush Hall in London in May 2023—we asked the band to think back to 30 years ago and tell us about their impressions of the U.S. in the olden days! The very first issue of chickfactor was handed out at a Heavenly / Lois gig in Sept. 1992; I reviewed their second album in SPIN around the same time, and we interviewed them in chickfactor zine (Amelia is on the cover of issue 2).

Heavenly: Peter, Amelia, Rob, Mathew, and Cathy. Photo by Alison Wonderland

ROB PURSEY
Going to America was overwhelming, partly because we were going to meet loads of people for the first time—people whose records we’d heard, but from a distance of 3500 miles. Two of the encounters I remember most vividly from that first Heavenly trip are Phoebe Summersquash (Small Factory) and Jeffrey Underhill (Honeybunch).  Phoebe is one of the select band of people known as ‘girl drummers’. She was the most diminutive person in the band, she wore glasses and she smiled all the time, even while she beating the hell out of a drumkit. I loved that combination of effortless glee and thunderous noise. She was the living antidote to those theatrical drummers (and guitarists) who pretend to be working out in the gym, or summoning Satan, as if that was crucial to making a great sound. 

Heavenly. Photo by Alison Wonderland

Jeffrey Underhill, we met, I think, in Rhode Island. I don’t really remember the gig very well, but I was a big fan of Honeybunch. Their song ‘Mine Your Own Business’ was in my head all the time, and it still provides the soundtrack for my memories of our first trip to the US. Anyway, what I remember about Jeffrey was the fact that he showed up in a back alley in a really great old blue/green semi-beater of a car. I am a bit of a nut about old cars, and liked this one a lot. Me and Jeffrey didn’t talk much, I imagine we were both somewhat shy, but I do remember sitting on the bonnet thinking ‘this is the best car, and it belongs to the person who played the best song’.

Image courtesy of Heavenly

The encounters with all these new people came to a head at the Chickfactor Party, where there was a whole community was assembling. I didn’t really know anyone there, of course, but I somehow felt like I could get to know and like all of them. We were a long way from the UK, but we felt at home. Part of the reason for this was that women were running the Chickfactor show, and these were wry, witty women.  There was a lot of intellect behind Chickfactor, and a definite attitude, but there was a lot of humour too. The humour was a sign of confidence—there was nothing apologetic about it. That’s what being in Heavenly felt like. The women in our band were obviously in charge, but they wore it lightly. So New York, or at least this little indie corner of New York, felt more amenable to our band than a lot of places back in the UK. It was a good feeling.

Amelia: Image courtesy of Heavenly

CATHY ROGERS
I’m not sure any of my memories are really separable. The synapses which connect Heavenly to America all sit in a viscous bath of coffee and the new kind of cool of the straight edge punks and the smell of wet trees driving through Oregon and Massachusetts and the swooning delight of being in the same venn diagram overlap as the really rioting riot grrrls and gigs not being gigs any more but shows and the sheer heat of new experiences and new loves. America just felt so great. It was like finding a version of us that was just so sure of itself. So certain. Walk around the town like you own it…everyone, all the time.

Cathy: Image courtesy of Heavenly

Compared with that overpowering sense of it all, specific memories feel a bit humble. The drive down from Olympia to play a show with a band who turned out to be Tiger Trap, Calvin saying, classic understatement, ‘I guess you might kinda like this band.’ Meeting them to play a show together in this kind of basement garage, them all wearing roller skates, us being powerless to resist charms on that level. For some reason, having a conversation with a bunch of people about our favourite foods and everyone out-doing each other for eccentricity, then Molly from Bratmobile saying ‘I just want to eat rice’ and that becoming one of those weird things that I think of literally every time I cook rice. The novelty, playing at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, of being fed really well before a show. Laughing over-hearing an old guy in the audience, saying – after a whole raft of indie bands – about Lois, ‘Finally someone who can actually sing’. Meeting Ted and Jodi for the first time and being so jealous that Pete was somehow already friends with them, then seeing Jodi’s band (with another girl with a rad American name like Brooklyn or Maddison, I’m pretty sure the band was called The Runways) and thinking these were the most sensational people I’d ever met. Being interviewed for this magazine called Chickfactor and hearing of another wait what cool girls are somehow allowed to be mainstream now magazine called Sassy and realising that culture was an actual thing and the world changes and feeling that we lived in some small backwater but we were so lucky because we were here, for now. 

Amelia. Image courtesy of Heavenly

AMELIA FLETCHER
– On our first US tour, Pete and I being dropped off by Small Factory in Hartford, Connecticut, in the middle of the night. We were near the place we were all staying with my parents, and figured we’d call a taxi to get us home. But it turned out that the place we stopped at had been robbed the week before, and we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by police cars. We were freaked out. It felt like an episode of Starsky and Hutch. Then, when asked where we were heading, we realised we couldn’t remember the address. Not at all suspicious! In the end, though, the police believed the daft English people and gave us a lift home in the police car.

– Meeting Claudia Gonson from Magnetic Fields at Chet’s Last Call in Boston. She asked if I had time to come and record a song for her and Stephin Merritt’s side project, the 6ths, the next day. I said why not. I had heard ‘100,000 Fireflies’ on the ‘One Last Kiss’ compilation and liked it a lot. I remember I sang ‘Hall of Mirrors’ in an especially breathy way, and Stephin commented that I came complete with my own reverb!

Image courtesy of Heavenly

– Playing at the Fantagraphics Comics Warehouse in Seattle with Beat Happening and another band who I just remember as being very smelly! It was a great space, and I was excited because I was a big fan of ‘Love and Rockets’. Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl both came, which seemed pretty thrilling too. We were easily thrilled!

The Heavenly option. Photo by Alison Wonderland

– Arriving in Olympia at the start of a West Coast tour, meeting Bratmobile and Bikini Kill and discovering Riot Grrrl. There was a visceral buzz around the whole place, and we quickly got very excited about it too. We had always been a feminist band, but in a quiet sort of way. We didn’t really feel part of the UK feminist movement at the time. It was fighting for stuff that was no doubt important but didn’t seem relevant to our concerns. So it was thrilling and empowering to find people discussing the issues that really had affected us. And to discover a whole set of new bands who had found a way of being outspoken and angry but also huge fun. It had a big impact on us, musically and personally.

Heavenly. Image courtesy of the band

PETER MOMTCHILOFF
I have opened the drawer in which I left my old memories of Heavenly in the USA. There is a lot there, but I can’t fit it together into any kind of story. My colleagues’ reminiscences do what I seem not to be able to. As a kind of coda, I do remember that we were brought down to earth by our first gig back in England after a West Coast tour, feeling rather pleased with ourselves. It was in a pub in Gillingham, to about five men and a dog. I don’t think they even turned the pub TV off while we played.

The late Mathew Fletcher. Image courtesy of Heavenly