It does seem a little strange to be a solo project at this moment in time. Since I began making a noise back in 1979, this is the first time I have been a "solo artiste". OK, I did start making cassettes of rudimentary sound by myself, back in the day...flushing toilets, silly rhymes, violent wind etc....we all did, but I have never been "solo".
(With the encouragement and assistance from close family and friends at this moment in time Dieter Muh doesn't seem like a "one-man show", but I hopefully know what I mean)?
I have always been in part of a duo, or a trio, and in some part in control of these projects. One of the times it did not happen was the time I was the drummer of Wallpaper Paris.
1982. September 1982.
Wallpaper Paris were a five piece ensemble - later to become a six piece, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The group, the idea (as Adam Ant would say) was one of Simon Jarvis. (see elsewhere on this blog). In September 1982 he visited me with the offer of being the drummer in the band he was forming. At the time I was one of those rare commodities - a drummer with a drum kit and I had just finished a spell as drummer for Lincoln's finest power-pop-punk trio Total Strangers. I was a drum stool for hire. My only condition was for Dave Uden to be the bass player. Simon did have a couple of names / possibilities for the bass player role but as I was a drummer (with a drum kit) I forced the hand of chance and Simon agreed......
September 1982. Five of us gathered in a garage, just outside of Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire. Myself and Dave (drums and bass), Simon (guitar), Tim Bayes (voice and saxophone) and Andrjez "Crabby". (synthesizers and sequencers). we used to rehearse on a Monday night, set up our equipment and "jam". We used to record everything. Everything. And then sit in Simon's parents kitchen drinking coffee and/or cup-a-soup and discuss what we should concentrate on. It was real rock n' roll.
As a rule, all Wallpaper Paris songs would start with the drums. A drum pattern. Followed by bass line followed by guitar part, followed by either sax blurt or vocal with an underlying Korg Synth warble somewhere in the distance.... These were good times, we came out with some great songs. Tim wrote and sang lyrics that to this day (28 years later) I can remember "off by heart" - why? - because they were/are great lyrics. Only today I was talking about a synopsis of a book and as soon as I said "synopsis" my mind went:
"Wayward synopsis of a crazed embittered life"
From the Wallpaper Paris song "A Preview Of Death".
Wallpaper Paris were good...OK we had a shite name. The name was Dave's idea and was a follow on to his Active EG theme (or so he told me). It comes from a quote or a line in a book that goes "give me a day and I'll wallpaper Paris. Art in action type of stuff.
What did we sound like? We were post-punk. Goth before the term was invented. Elements of TG, Clock DVA, The Pop Group, Au Pairs, Bauhaus and Virgin Prunes, as guys in our late teens / early twenties this was the kind of stuff we were listening to and wanted to be part of. We got ourselves a gig in November 1982 at Alexandre's in Lincoln.
Alexandre's used to be called The New Penny Club and was situated at the top of Lincoln High Street. Alex Jackson - local entrepreneur and part time gangster took it over after his club "AJ's" folded after folk were shot at a Comic Romance gig. Great days. As a teenager I loved "AJ's".
Anyway. On the night we were support to a Heavy Rock band from Swinderby called Exit Stance. You have to take the gigs as they come - especially in Lincoln! We played, we were shit hot, we even got an encore but certain elements of the band did not want to play live again. So it was a case of "we came, we played, we conquered" as shortly afterwards we split.
On the night we were seen by a local violin player called Martin who wanted to get involved, Dave and I were keen but Simon just gave the poor bugger a hard time at rehearsals that he just lost interest, shame as he was a nice lad (from Swanpool).
At the start of 1983 we changed rehearsal space to an outhouse in Skellingthorpe Woods. OK, not an outhouse but a self contained one bedroomed bungalow with swimming pool attached. Monday nights became luxurious...too cold to swim but Crabby brought drugs in to the arena. Home grown grass. As strange as it may seem reading this but at the time I was quite "anti" drugs being brought in to the rehearsal room....but drugs won out. We became lazy.
January 1983 - 5 months later, and we had split. Dave and I went to form Diet Of Worms, which Crabby was later to join....we needed his home grown y'fuckers. Simon formed Peking Trees with a guy who later joined Slum Turkeys and Tim went in to IBF with myself and a chap called Sean - and then it gets a bit all incestuous!
Sat here in 2010, I truly believe Wallpaper Paris could have got somewhere better than a Sunday night in 1982 in "Alexandre's". I have a CDr of a C90 cassette that proves so - I wish I had the technology to put some download on this blog. I don't. I am sorry.
Picture is a copy of a cassette tape I compiled for Drew Cormack back in 1983. (I make no apologies for the title).
WALLPAPER PARIS - L-R: Crabby, Tim Bayes, Dave Uden, Simon Jarvis and Steve Cammack.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest Burial Hex LP " Bagirwa Hymn". This is my first exposure to Burial Hex on vinyl - or any format come to think of it!
I saw Burial Hex (a.k.a. Clay Ruby) at last year's "Equinox Festival" in London and liked what I saw and heard, unfortunately I forgot to pick up any merchandise, and dropping heavy hints to Andrew Hartwell over the past 12 months haven't come to any fruition so I thought I would part with hard earned cash and start listening to Burial Hex.
"Bagirwa Hymn" (Bagirwa, a shamanistic Priestess of Rwanda) is made up of two side long pieces. Side A starts with prepared guitars and prepared piano, looping and drifting and very reminiscent of the works of Psychic TV and T.A.G.C. before switching to a messy murky swill of tonal feedback, noise that was very similar to what Clay was producing at The Equinox. Side B reminded me of the sound of Nekrophile Records.....(remember them)? I think Clay does... I recently got an LP by Swedish group Attestupa on the Release the Bats label. This album is very similar. Lo-Fi, organic, analog, beautiful. Whilst side B was playing I picked up a book by Barry Hale and started reading it. Excellent soundtrack.
My Burial Hex collection starts here.
1: Sleeve to "Bagirwa Hymn" Lp.
2: Burial Hex live at The Conway Hall, June 2009.
3: Clay and me at the Festival. Photo by Carl Abrahamsson.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Just spent a pleasant while listening to Architects Office. Namely the cassette "AO 353" on Audiofile Tapes. I managed to pick it up from the Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim "merch" stall last week.
Architects Office are from the 1980's. I was introduced to them by Dan Plunkett. I was put in touch with Dan (from Austin, Texas) by my good friend Tim back in 1982. Can't remember why? Probably trading live cassettes or some such, but in 1982 we set up a correspondence that lasted ... well to this day. Dan was a mail artist and founder of ND Magazine (New Dachau). Every few months Dan would mail a package with stamps and xeroxes and cards and tapes. Tapes (copies - not originals) by the likes of Croiners, Paul Thomas, If Bwana, Joseph K. Noyce and Architects Office. Stuff that was just unavailable to my ears in Lincoln circa 1982. It was Dan that first sent me a cassette of Soviet France and Paul McCarthy - and NKVD/Heute "Proir To Intercourse" (I still have this beauty)! For opening wide my audio receptors and providing me with free copies of ND Magazine, I cannot thank Dan enough! I met Dan in 1993 when he paid a flying visit to Nottingham to visit Tim. (He was on his way to interview Chris + Cosey in Norfolk). We went record shopping and he kindly bought me a Psychic TV "Live At The Ritz" test pressing LP. (I still have this beauty).
So, with the pile of "have to plays" piling up, I went for Architects Office. The cassette - no markings, just a plain old Sony UX C60 Type 2 - starts of with an American woman explaining that she's going to sing some songs on this cassette, and she's really happy that somebody's going to listen.....I thought....eh up.....My mind went back to 1997 and to when Mick McDaid bought the Fiene Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim CDr "Papagoyenboom" on the Greek Absurd label. Initial copies came with a "free CD". Excellent - so Mick made sure he was one of the first in the queue. When the package came the free CD was some Greek generic pop a la Kylie Minogue or Sonia. Ever had the feeling you've been cheated? My immediate thoughts now were, has Jurgen swapped the AO tape for some found cassette?? Bastard, and all that.....
Soon the tape falls in to experimental soundscapes and tinkering piano, found sound, bowed strings etc. phew. It is excellent stuff and really does take me back 25 or so years to my bedroom at my parents' place. This tape also features the piece "Variete" that was on the Audiofile/ND tape collaboration. Tangerine Dream synth noodles to a man. The second side has this announcement from Southend train station that simply blew me away. Just a simple "The train now approaching platform 3" etc type of announcement, looped. Simple but after 25 years STILL AFFECTIVE.
It is very hard to find material by Architects Office nowadays. I will leap on it like a hungry okapi on the Savannah. It is also difficult to find out about the main protagonists. Googling Architects Office is a nightmare. Joel Haertling seems to be a film curator in Boulder, Colorado (home of "Mork and Mindy"), and still doing soundtrack work for Stan Brakhage.
Stan Brakhage was another one of Dan's recommendations. I have seen a few of his short films and always sat there mouth agape with my head spinning with wonderment. Joel even starred in Brakhage's "Faust" films - non of which I have seen. Others seem to have disappeared. Rick Corrigan plays accordion for The Pickpockets Ensemble, based in California....but that's about it. 21st Century comeback. I hope not. Architects Office is not laptop music!
1: Sleeve to Architects Office "AO 353" cassette. Audiofile Tapes. 1986.
2: Joel Haertling.
3: Dan Plunkett and myself outside Selectadisc, Nottingham. 1993. (PTV LP in bag)!
Acting in the capacity of tourist information - Torbay Branch (unpaid).
If ever in the South West on a camping trip may I recommend Daccombe. It's not a village but a road that runs between the Barton area of Torquay and Coffinswell. (Always liked that name). It is only a matter of minutes from the arterial route into the English Riviera, but it is like being on the wilds of Dartmoor.
In Daccombe you will find the wonderful campsite of "Manor Farm". Showers, toilets, running hot water and a "No Radio" ruling. Excellent. From the field Haytor is visible, as are the rolling hills of Milber and beyond. It is beautiful country.
Manor Farm is cheap (around a tenner per evening depending on size of tent) and has a play park for the kids, and a shop that opens in the morning for bread and milk. Lovely. They even have BBQ equipment you can use (all inclusive). As you can tell I have nought but praise for the place.
1: Entrance to Daccombe. (A village so small it is not even twinned).
2: Exit from Daccombe.
3: Tamsin and I this morning.
4: Isabel tucking in to her Linda Mccartney's!
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
This will annoy some folk, but I have no idea how to insert accents or umlauts on to letters whilst typing this. I am sorry but Fashion will be Fashion.
Followers and passing chancers will realise that I like reading about music. Biogs, Autobiogs, and sometimes critiques - I like reading about music. As a rule of thumb it is stuff between 1975 - 1985 or bands/artistes that started around that time. I do have a copy of "Hammer Of The Gods" on the bookshelf so it is only a rule of thumb. I have just finished reading "Stairway To Nowhere" by Luke James of Fashion. It has been an unputdownable book for the past couple of weeks.
I never owned a record by Fashion. Still don't. A friend E Mailed me to let me know that this book was out and I thought "yeah - that's a must read". Like a book by Spizz or "Boring Bob Grover" or Eric Random it was "Yeah, I must read that". Fashion were my friend Mark Collin's band. He bought their stuff and played it whenever I visited, and that was fair enough. They weren't too brilliant to share like Stiff Little Fingers, ATV or The Cure but OK for Mark to have, like Cockney Rejects, The Chords and Toyah. They played Lincoln AJ's in 1979, but I never went along.
This is a fascinating book of how it was back in the days, to be playing toilets, to be high on ego and amphetamine. The characters - band members - shift between likable cads and all out cunts, and no apologies are made. From the off Fashion existed to escape the Birmingham factory life (British Leyland) and to travel the world taking as many drugs and fucking as many groupies as possible. Same kind of M.O. as Devo, but they hid behind an arty manifesto instead of a bucket of eyeliner.
The story is fascinating. A rise towards a record contract with Miles Copeland and IRS to a tour with the Police around America and odd dates with Squeeze, The Cramps, The B52's and The Stranglers in between. Then being dropped by their management and record company and having to support Duran Duran and tour with U2 in 1980. Excellent story, excellent read. One downwards point is that I would have liked a where are they now bit at the end. I guessed that the Fashion sound guy and driver Miki was dead. The book is dedicated to him and Luke always describes him in a cloud of B+H, but to read (on Wikipedia) that Mulligan also has died was a surprise and has some what upset me.....
Anyway, the book is fascinating, very humourous and deserves a read. After reading bland books by the likes of Hugh Cornwell and the book on XTC of late, this is a breath of fresh air. Luke really gives the feel and emotion of what it was like to be in a band in the UK in the late 1970's and the senselessness of it all and still with the "I can't fucking believe this is happening - this is my dream come true" to the "Where the fuck did it all go wrong"? attitude. Brilliant.
Available through LULU. Or Google Luke James...
1: "Stairway To Nowher" Cover.
2: Fashion LP Cover. 1979.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
My good friend Tim sent me a couple of video stills through the inbox the other day. Made me smile. Mainly it is my outfit. My choice of attire. Did I really dress like that? The stills were from a "travelogue" that Tim was making in 1993, he was heading for India + Japan and did some precautionary footage (check all was OK with the camera etc) in York.
Mainly it's the jacket. the LA Raiders jacket. I used to wear it all the time back then - still got it, I think it is in the attic somewhere. I cannot stand American Football - never could...so why the bloody jacket?
Early 1990's were a strange time for me. 1989 I was living in Manchester, Hulme, the Hulme Crescents, I had been there since 1986. I first moved there in 1983, but had to take a year off in 1985/86 to plot and plan the rise of IBF in Sheffield + Lincoln and also prepare my body for the immense amount of drugs it was to absorb for the next 5 years.
By the end of 1989 I was living alone in a squat in Charles Barry Crescent, Hulme. Manchester. (Now deceased). The hip-hop, techno, drum n' bass craze had taken over our lives...well not my life, but those who were living around me. Where before half a dozen of us had got out of our heads by heating knives on a one bar electric fire and inhaling the collective ounce, then listening to some Sonic Youth or Throbbing Gristle or Tibetan Red we were now a family throng and going out every night to strange places and inhaling powder. Not only that - we were listening to Dance Music. There was a place called The Kitchen on Charles Barry Crescent, that was above us. We would go there of a Friday night/morning and listen to A Guy Called Gerald DJ the night away. 808 State and the crew from Eastern Bloc were our friends. We would meet in strange clubs in Salford, Moss-Side and Central Manchester. I used to have this little mini mono portable tape machine where I would play tapes by Public Enemy and Hardhouse.
I escaped in mid 1990 to York, then to a little village in The Vale Of York called Thorganby, but I still had this hangover of techno, drum n' bass, hardhouse, dub, rappy, hip-hop going around in my brain.
At this point I had no record collection, but a secure house I could build from. I bought records by Ice T. ("Let's Get Butt Naked And Fuck" for fucks' sake), by Digital Underground, by Paris and (yes) A Homeboy, A Hippie And A Funky Dread. I have never been so lost in all my life. My friend in Manchester had an LA Raiders "anorak" - it was his pride and joy, in 1991 a new shop opened in York selling American NFL clothing. The LA Raiders jacket was there for £100, my wife (the 1st Mrs. Cammack) offered to buy me it. How could I say no?
I wore it religiously. I soon went from buying shite mind......but I carried on wearing the jacket. It was comfortable and then with starting up Dieter Muh it appealed to my sense of humour. I wore it whilst supporting Ramleh in Nottingham - with a Sutcliffe Jugend badge on the right breast. The last time I put it on was around 1996/97 when I was walking down Holgate Road in York one afternoon and this car pulled up beside me and a guy from the passenger seat told me that he was going to kill me - if he ever saw me again, he was going to kill me. There were other words spoken, although I must admit I didn't hear a reason but he made it cock definite to me that I was to be killed...... I mentioned the episode later on amongst friends in a York pub when one of the crowd said that I was the spitting image for a speed dealer who (incidentally) went round York in a LA Raiders jacket. Never worn it since!
I was at a gig in 1991 or 1992 in Manchester - African Head Charge and First Offence. I had travelled from East to West of the British Isles to see First Offence support African Head Charge. What bloody drugs was I on? Anyway, whilst at this gig some bugger tried to set fire to my jacket so the "id" of LA Raiders on the back is burnt.
The jacket was more bother than it's worth.
In the pictures I am exiting Depth Charge Records on Goodramgate in York. A fine shop opened up by "Fat Gary" who used to help out at Red Rhino Records. Because of the time it was tecnocentric. Lots of Dance, Trance, EBM, Rap type of stuff, but there was good stuff on offer. I bought a lot of the Dying Earth catalogue from, there and Mossey behind the counter used to give me stuff. He'd say "'Ere 'ave this, it'll never sell" and give me some release on Ash International or Touch. Nice guy. I did gain some semi cult status for a month or so by being the guy who brought Jimi Tenor and the Sahko Crew to play live in York - for this I got GPR releases free and stuff by Beaumont Hannent. Yeah, I know....WOW.....
I shall wear the jacket again before I give it to Oscar.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Back in London again. Two gigs in 6 days, two gigs in London in 6 days...what is this - the 1970's! I have now used up my 2010 quotient for London giggery.
This time it was to watch the excellent Fiene Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim. (It translates as good drinkers in a piss house...I think....the computer translator didn't like it)! I am really glad I went to see the show as the previous Friday nights Nurse With Wound / Current 93 gig left me feeling a little bit cheated. The show at the HMV Kentish Town Forum was OK, but nothing more than that. Simply OK I have commented to friends that it was like watching somebody do painting by numbers, and at the moment I am sticking to that. But now 6 days later I am in a sweltering hot London again to see Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim do their first gig in the UK in a room above a snooker hall in Stoke Newington....or Stamford Hill...depending on which direction you came from. The evening was hosted by London Internet streamers ILL FM. (www.illfm.net) and free!
I became aware of Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim about 12 years ago when I shared a house in Lincoln with Outsider Records boss Mick McDaid. He had some CDrs and cassettes and a Drone Records 7", and the sound was fresh and interesting....Also hard to come by. I have only 1 Feine Trinkers release in Hartop Towers and that was got on the evening. So I travel to London to see a band of whom I own nought but love dearly. There was also other reasons for having to be there. I wanted to meet Till of Gerechtigkeits Liga who was guesting with Feine Trinkers, I also wanted to check out the venue, and meet the folk / person behind ILL FM and I wanted to see if the venue was decent enough for putting on an IBF gig in 2011. But Feine Trinkers were top o' the list....
The venue, The Others, is a true find. A tad remote, with travellers having to know the London bus system or walk from some overground stations as it is not on a tube line. But it is not as remote as The Ivy House in Nunhead. Like I said it is above a snooker hall and next to a Hasidic hat shop (that was doing a roaring trade at 10 in the evening) and is just one big room. Small makeshift bar in the corner - bottled beer - a DJ booth, and a large performance area at one end. Floor was scattered with leather armchairs and sofas found in skips or squats. Excellent feel, and slightly European. It reminded me of The Zoro in Leipzig. After the "corporate" feel of the HMV Forum with its' heavy stewards and slightly over priced Tuborg it was a breath of fresh air and great to be in a "real" venue again.
I caught a little of the first two performances. Momento Mori (I think) kicked off the evening a guy with an Eighties synth did stuff whilst a guy rubbed a bowed saw over an oil drum. Interesting, but I was in meet and greet mode....next came a duo whose name would have been German, but I was told were from England. (What a crazy idea, eh)? Huge cinema size pojections of East German Post War Propaganda played behind them whilst they stared at a single laptop. Interesting sound (They were like a Tesco Org. house band) but I soon lost interest. Laptoppery, that is the problem.
Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim is one chap, I think called Jurgen. Could be wrong, and tonight he was being assisted by Till Bruggemann of Gerechtigkeits Liga whom are one of my all time favourites. Luckily, no laptop in sight. They created this landscape of sonic majesty from looping and manipulating sound created through contact mic's. It all began with a contact mic' (or 2) stuck to a 3 inch roll of sellotape, the tape was stretched and torn - and there we had the spine to begin with....Contact mic's were then sruck to "wind-up" toys, items of clothing, balloons, inside a jug in to which water was poured. It was a magickal sound and a great spectacle. Genius at work time. Till manipulated the sounds that were being created and added some voice. Like seeing Aaron Dilloway for the first time - this re-affirmed my faith in LIVE performances. I now want to see Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim live again.
The "merch'" stall was OK too. Jurgen (could be wrong) had brought some old cassettes to sell (probably for beer money? This was a free gig) so I managed to get tapes by Para Noise Terminal, Architects Office and "i" by Contrastate (on Direction Music) before they were snaffled and the stunningly beautiful "Toads And Bugs" package by Feine Trinkers......
The evening probably went on, but I had to leave - the problems of such an "out of town" venue.
The following day I had to head back to Devon + Hartop Towers. I walked to Paddington Station in the same sweltering heat, stopping by Hyde Park to have a sunbathe sandwich. On the train I found myself seated next to a lady who (after chatting about London) turned out to be Nanette Greenblatt of ...& The Native Hipsters. Why did I have lager for lunch??? I then bored the poor lady with my recollections of her band, and I was getting the song titles wrong, and forgetting names etc (I would be no good on "Mastermind" - I crack under pressure y'know - anyone remember my appearance on "15 To 1" quiz show on TV back in 1993? No? Good). But I spent three hours chatting to the woman from ....& The Native Hipsters. Apparently still active and recording with Andy Allen (of The Professionals fame - the band not the TV series from the 1970's) and Tony Visconti (of Thin Lizzy fame). William, the other member is a stand-up comedian called Woody Bop Muddy and Tom Fawcett is running a club in London. Fascinating stuff....although I may have come across as a tired, slightly "stella'ed", old fan boy.....but never mind. It's not every day you meet one of your "heroes" is it?
Give Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim your attention, and stay sober ... you never know who'll you meet on a train to Devon!
1: Andrew Trail (of Knifeladder) enjoying F.T.B.P.D.
2: Momento Mori.
3 & 4: Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim live at The Others.
5: My copy of the ....& The Native Hipsters EP (1980).
5: Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim live (poor digital camera footage).