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

catching up with daily song generator jessica griffin from the would-be-goods

Jessica Griffin from the Would-Be-Goods in London, 2001. Taken by Gail O’Hara

chickfactor 13 (2000) published an interview with Jessica Griffin from the Would-Be-Goods 21 years ago conducted by Peter Momtchiloff, who ended up joining her band, which also features Deborah Greensmith and Andy Warren. I took a lot of photographs of them while I lived in London (2001 and 2004) that have ended up on their album covers, and the WBGs have played at many chickfactor parties. While some of us haven’t been able to focus or achieve our creative potential during COVIDtime, Jessica has become rather prolific. We checked in with her about how it’s going. Interview by Gail O’Hara

chickfactor: how are you holding up? 
jessica griffin: Fairly well, although my dreams are much more vivid than usual which must mean I’m more stressed out than I think. 

How different is your life under lockdown than it was before?
In some ways, very different. Peter (my partner and fellow Would-be-good) has been staying with me since it all began, and I’ve got into a different routine, cooking twice a day (except at weekends) and writing and recording songs daily.

What has been getting you through this time? Books, food, etc. 
Peter’s company, Zoom chats with friends and songwriting. I’m too restless to read much these days, although when I’m feeling anxious I devour 20th-century detective fiction. We’ve been watching the short Cocktails with a Curator talks from the Frick Collection and old black-and-white British films, e.g. Spring In Park Lane, Cast A Dark Shadow. I’ve always cooked regularly but food seems much more important now. We have a proper lunch every day which is quite old-fashioned (and French!) and I’ve expanded my repertoire quite a bit.
I find cooking very calming.

Jessica performing at the Luminaire; photo courtesy of Jessica

What do you miss most about beforetimes? 
Friends and family. I haven’t seen my (grown-up) daughter for over a year as she lives in another city. She’s very Victorian and doesn’t do FaceTime/Zoom. And I really miss my almost-daily lunches at a wonderful local cookery bookshop/café run by an eccentric Frenchman. 

How has London changed since this happened? For better or worse.
I haven’t been further than a mile from home since March 2020 so I can only talk about my own part of west London. In the first lockdown, with almost no traffic and very few people around, you could smell the grass and flowers in the gardens and parks. 

Seeing so many local shops, restaurants and cafés go out of business is heartbreaking, though. 

Can Brexit be reversed? 
Probably not in our generation. I think it’s a huge mistake.

Let’s talk about your new songs! When did you start writing one song per day? And how many are you up to now?
2 October 2020. I thought it would be good to have a creative project as I was slowly turning into my grandmother. I’ve written 157 songs so far. 

How has Peter been involved in the process if at all? 
My idea was to treat songwriting like a game or challenge, so I asked Peter to give me a title every evening. I would write and record the song the following day and play him the result. It’s worked for me in the way nothing else has. Sitting around waiting for the muse never got me anywhere. I should say that Peter doesn’t have any preconception of what the song should be about, or how it should sound. He just gives me a title and that’s it. Sometimes I will change the title retrospectively if I think it suits the song better.

Otherwise it’s a solo project — I do all the singing, play all the instruments (apart from bass on a few songs) and recording.  

What have you learned about yourself as a songwriter, a musician and a home-recorder since you started doing this? 
I’ve learned not to be so precious about songwriting and to treat it like a job that I have to get on with every day, whether I feel like it or not. It’s helped me to override my perfectionist tendencies as I have to finish the song by the end of the day and play it to Peter even if I’m not happy with it. And I’ve learned that I can’t trust my own judgement, at least my first impressions. Sometimes I’ll think a song I’ve just written is rubbish but when I listen to it again a few days later I like it. And vice versa. My singing, guitar and keyboard playing were quite rusty at the beginning but they’re improving. And being in charge of the recording process means I can do as many retakes as I want, which has helped me to sort out some things I didn’t like about my singing. 

Jessica and Peter in London, 2001. Photo by Gail O’Hara

Can you give us some details about some of the songs? Titles/subject/etc. 
“Ouija Board Romance” is set in a provincial English town in the 1920s and is about a housemaid being invited to join a séance hosted by her employer, and the unexpected result. “The Magic Hour” is about a suicide pact between a spoiled young man and an older courtesan in a hotel in Khartoum in the siege of 1884. “The Wind Will Change” is about a drifter in 1940s America, written from the perspective of a woman or girl who loves him but knows he’s not going to be around for very long. “Demon Lover” is the story of the ‘damsel with the dulcimer’ in Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan,” who is outraged that she’s been spirited away from her loom in rural Devon and abandoned in the dark cavern of the poet’s imagination. And finally, “Cavanagh, Cody and Byrne” is about a mysterious vaudeville act that might actually be something much bigger.

I don’t know where these ideas and characters come from. I always wanted to be a writer or film director so maybe these are the novels I would have written or the films I’d have made, compressed into song form. I can picture the characters and their settings in detail and I know who would play the couple in “The Magic Hour” – Omar Sharif and Jeanne Moreau. I’ve also written some songs about universal experiences and situations with quite simple lyrics which aren’t like anything I’ve written before. 

And some songs in recognisable styles but from a female perspective, like “In The Mirror” which sounds like an angsty early Who song but is about being a young woman, having to be what other people want you to be and being able to be yourself only when you’re alone.

Do you have any rituals or unusual holidays that you celebrate? 
My daughter said at age six that she thought it was unfair that we had Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but no Daughter’s Day so we instituted it and I send her a hand-made card and a little present every year.

What are you reading? 
I started reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Rachel Cusk’s Transit but am finding I can’t concentrate for long.

What is in your fridge? What is your specialty to make?
The usual stuff, plus Thai green curry paste, tahini, fresh ginger, kefir. We’re eating very healthily—everything cooked from scratch, lots of vegetables, etc., but possibly a little too much of everything. Irish soda bread (Darina Allen’s recipe) is my lockdown speciality. I make it with spelt flour which gives it a kind of soft sweetness like English scones.   

If you were running the country (or the world), what would you do first?
I would absolutely hate to be in a position of power and can’t even imagine it. Being the mother of a small child was challenging enough.

What is your sign? 
Cancer.

What is your spirit animal?
A rather small and motheaten bear. 

When we’re allowed total freedom, what will you do first?
Meet up with my sister and take her for the birthday lunch we had to cancel last year because of lockdown.

Any other future plans? Where and when will you release some tunes? 
I’ve just set up a page on Bandcamp where I’ll release some of my new songs very soon. Beyond that, I hope to finish the Would-be-goods album we were working on before lockdown and to start doing live shows again (if there are any venues left).

Thank you, Jessica

chickfactor international travelogue: notting hill/bayswater, london!

honey-kennedy-gail-ohara-london-8-jessica-from-the-would-be-goods

notting hill/bayswater, london (part two)

by jessica griffin, the leader of fantastic london pop group the would-be-goods, mum to an oxford student, foodie and psychology enthusiast, among many other things. she has lived in the neighborhood for 23 years! chickfactor can attest to the super-greatness of al waha as mentioned below…

best venues: the tabernacle, powis square.

best record stores: rough trade, 130 talbot road.

best thriftstore: fara, 10 elgin crescent.

cheap eats: books for cooks (great cookery book shop with test kitchen and café at the back), 4 blenheim crescent. taqueria, 139 westbourne grove. royal china (daytime only, for dim sum). tawana (authentic, friendly thai), 3 westbourne grove.

not so cheap eats: al waha (best lebanese in london), 75 westbourne grove. hereford road, 3 hereford road.

vegetarian-friendly eats: ottolenghi, 63 ledbury road; al waha (see above).

best drinking holes: cock and bottle (splendid traditional pub), 17 artesian road.

best coffee or tea houses: during the summer and early autumn, the temporary pavilion next to the serpentine gallery, kensington gardens. a different architect or artist designs the pavilion each year.

cool cinemas: gate picturehouse, 87 notting hill gate.

best used bookstores: notting hill books, 32 palace gardens terrace.

best local bands, artists, writers, designers: simon fisher turner (film music composer and erstwhile king of luxembourg).

parks and green spaces: kensington gardens, bayswater road (or kensington gore).

unmissable highlights: artisan du chocolat (best chocolates — and hot chocolate — in london, or maybe anywhere), 81 westbourne grove. leighton house museum, 12 holland park road, kensington.

photo of jessica by gail o’hara.