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Archive for October, 2009

Bomb Factory

Bomb Factory. To the casual eye this could be any bolshy punk band, with lots of shouting, angry lyrics … and some more shouting.

True, there’s some angry lyrics, some very angry lyrics in fact, and some shouting. But Bomb Factory are a few notches above the passionless punk-by-numbers brigade, the self-proclaimed political bands who put noise before content.

Bomb Factory are out of Cambridge, one half of that mythical Oxbridge colossus, but, outwith the centuries-old college area, a typical south of Birmingham town with plenty of working class estates for the students to avoid.

With an elitist educational system, the plush, Georgian buildings of the city centre, and all manner of plummy accents abounding during the university terms, this East Anglian town offers plenty of inspiration for an agit-punk band offering thoughtful insights into our society like Bomb Factory.

But then so does so much about the world. Religion, CCTV, the invasion of privacy, the consumer society, and on it goes. Rubbish, rubbish, everywhere. Not just in beautiful Cambridge but in every town in the UK and beyond.

So, Bomb Factory offer a bit of a push against the perpetual shove, an antidote to the poison we’re dealt with every day.

I first came across Bomb Factory while working on a newspaper in Suffolk, when a colleague mentioned a corrosive, explosive band from nearby Cambridge. They were still congealing at this time, and I moved out of the region before getting a chance to see them live, alas.

A demo EP was released in 2006, called White Noise! White Noise! White Noise! [In The Heads Of The Girls And The Boys], a cracking wee gem that resonates with anger and purpose but with a maturity that belies the, well, maturity of the band.

There’s been bugger all since, but on November 2, Bomb Factory have a new self-titled EP, issued on CD and as a download. It’s reviewed in Lowdown On The New 8, the previous column.

See their website for details of how to obtain it: http://bombfactory.blogspot.com/

Ahead of its release, I caught up with vocalist Ranting Jack to find out more.


Ranting Jack

Porky: Bomb Factory, sounds like a tabloid headline. I can imagine some shifty looks, and a long Cambridgeshire police file.

It is a tabloid headline. It’s an attention grabber; a big ‘fuck off’ to anyone who doesn’t like it. Some people might laugh and think it childish or maybe cartoon-like, but when we chose it there were bombs going off on tubes and buses and it wasn’t very funny. But when you turned on the radio all you got was Snow Patrol or some such vomit. So we wanted to talk about what was going on and we wanted to use the songs to reflect it back at people. This is happening outside your window; this is how we spend our time and money; this is what we look like, and It. Is. Fucked. Up.

Porky: If a radio one DJ, or similar moron, asked about Bomb Factory, what would you tell them, in one minute, the philosophy of the band is.

I’d say it was about trying to live, to really live for just a short while instead of going through the motions. The rest of the time what we call living is like a trip to Ikea – traipsing along, following the arrows painted on the fucking floor in case we see something we shouldn’t; gawping at all the shit in shiny wrappers they dangle in front of us to keep us quiet. Bomb Factory is about wanting to feel something. No self-pity, no bleeding hearts. Noise and truth. Love and hate. Blood and fire.

Porky: You’ve played a lot of gigs in Cambridge and East Anglia. Has this built up a fanbase that supports fanzines, webzines, and groupies?

*laughs at thought of groupies*. We do get people who like us though! At almost every gig there will be one or two people who come up at the end slightly breathless with an odd look in their eyes and tell us they really liked it. Really liked it. They tend to go out and do things like painting our demo covers on to the backs of their jackets and changing their Myspace names to our song titles and stuff.

Porky: The lead track of the new EP, Tapes is about “a descent into one man’s paranoia at surveillance society Britain as he sits at a kitchen table covered in nails and wires.” What inspired this track?

This started out with a guy from Cambridge called Miles Cooper who was driven over the brink into obscene acts of violence against randoms (people – ed) by his paranoia at ‘surveillance society’. The guy was sending letter bombs to people at the DVLA and other organs of oppression. As if blowing the hands off single mothers earning a crust in some shitty post room somewhere is going to change the world. Miles got caught and sent down, which is how we know his name, but he left us with a song idea. Just a little glimpse into the mind of a guy who can sit having a cup of Rosie while stuffing nails into a jiffy bag. You can empathise with the sentiment if not the actions. That feeling of total suffocation. The sense that there’s no escape from the electronic eyes stripping the skin off you – leaving your internal organs and all your crappy little secrets exposed to some fat bloke sat in front of a CCTV screen eating crisps and wanking.

TapesPorky: Explain the thinking behind the cover, which features a man that initially appears to be in a terrorist headgear – but is actually a Tesco supermarket carrier bag?

It’s about suffocation again. All of us slowly suffocating inside the carrier bags they stick over our heads when we’re born. All chained together in the funeral procession at the checkout while, inside your head, there’s all these emotions, all this love and hate and joy and rage waiting to burst out. What’s first? Do you let it all out or does your head explode inside the bag? Would anyone notice if it did? You’d still be stood there in the bag only there’d be nothing inside it, just a lifeless lump of flesh. Come to think of it, how many people do you know who that may have already happened to? There’s also something slightly sordid about that image isn’t there? I mean, what is he doing?! Look into his eye…

Porky: There’s been numerous politically-motivated bands over the years, the punk acts, Crass, Easterhouse, the Redskins, Nofx, Public Enemy and so forth, and countless others that, if not overtly political have been quite independent and forthright (Manic Street Preachers for example). Do you feel that pop has the ability to change minds or at the least to get people to think?

I don’t know if we are political. Maybe. It’s more about the personal as political I suppose. Aristotle said man was a ‘political animal’. Like I said before, it is personal for us. If it becomes personal for other people too then maybe that makes it political. Discuss. The point is the songs have to be about something not just how big your dick is or how girls/boys might like you if only they knew the real you. Boo hoo. Dry your eyes, mate, and then fuck off.

Porky: Is this tradition still alive in Britain?

I’m sure it is. People will always want to give vent to their frustrations. It might not be on the Chris Moyles show but ’twas ever thus. If you want something better then go and look under some rocks.

Porky: The first ‘proper’ Bomb Factory release was in 2004 and there’s been various releases in various formats since. But no album. When will that anomaly be rectified?

When we earn enough money from selling our organs for pet food to afford the studio time. This is the first recording we have been able to get professionally produced and mastered so it has raised the bar. But listen to it. Listen to how good it is! I tell you what; if I owned a record label I’d be throwing cash and bodily fluids at these guys to get them on it. How about you…?

Porky: Best moment on tour or at a local gig?

There are a few to choose from. Scaring about 30 Welsh bikers out of a boozer in darkest Norfolk maybe? Or the time we played with the Towers of London and the amps caught fire and their lead singer got nicked; that was good. Then there was the time our guitarist threw himself at the drum kit, missed, hit his head on the wall and knocked himself out. Every gig is good in its own way.

Porky: Who’s your biggest opponents?

Apathy, ignorance and the trash celebrity elite they set up on plastic pedestals for us to worship and aspire to.

Porky: God Loves Us and He Hates You is an obvious favourite of the band’s. It sounds like Ranting Jack, and the whole band, detest religion. Is this viewpoint from a personal experience or inspired by a particular event?

No event in particular. Pick an atrocity. The Siege of Jerusalem? 9/11? It’s about the bastards who think they can bomb the world into thinking like them or into not thinking at all. It’s about the people who strap explosive belts to children and the mentally ill. It’s about cretins who think being gay is evil or think they have some exclusive access to the VIP room at the afterlife party.

Porky: You once played with Half Man Half Biscuit, which sounds like a curious mix. What was that like?

As it turns out, that was a storming gig. The HMHB fans were well into the post punk guitar clatter. The band themselves were good people too.

Porky: Can Bomb Factory bring down the capitalist system and replace it with an economic system based on equality, peace, justice and cream cakes for all.

All we can hope to do is burst the apathy bubble. Everything you do, say or feel can be a revolutionary act if you live your life and don’t let other people live it for you. Stop getting your emotions in a multipack from the supermarket. Turn off ‘I’m a Celebrity… Shoot Me in the Face’, throw Jordan’s autobiography into the cleansing flames and step outside. Bomb Factory is waiting for you…

Bomb Factory 3

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Ian Brown

Who? Ian Brown

Title: My Way
Label:
Polydor

Tell me more: You wouldn’t think from listening to any of Brown’s six solo albums that he was once the front man of the Stone Roses, the fey indie pop and burgeoning dance rythms having been truly ditched.
Why the fek should I listen to this?
Brown was listening to a lot of Michael Jackson during the recording of My Way which was virtually completed before the alleged King Of Pop’s big goodbye. Strangely, the Jacko influences help drive this album, giving some ooomph to the typical Brown brand of psychedelia and pop. It takes a few listens, as do all Brown albums, but it’s worth the effort – Marathon Man and Just Like You are among Brown’s finest songs. There’s none of the angry world-weary observations as on 2007’s The World Is Yours, the Mancunian preferring to settle some scores and set the record straight, such as the apparent riposte to former Roses member John Squire on For The Glory.
Or should I take it a stick and beat the shit out of it?
Whatever possessed him to cover In the Year 2525? It may have a sensible futuristic view, but I cringe every time I hear it.
Trivia:
Brown’s songs have featured in a few episodes of the CSI franchise.

 


Verlaines

Who? The Verlaines

Title: Corporate Moronic
Label:
dunedinmusic.com
Tell me more:
The Verlaines formed in Dunedin in 1981 and soon became part of that unique city sound, given an audience by the local label, Flying Nun. Death and the Maiden was covered by Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Maybe it’s the isolation of the place, maybe it’s the creative student community, but Dunedin has always had some groundbreaking bands. The Verlaines continue to be one of those. Corporate Moronic (a poke in the eye to the way labels churn out happy-clappy tunes) namechecks people like General Lee and Socrates, wonders if there’s a concept called “post-acne anarchy” and generally screams “intellegentsia”. It’s also about many other things, often simple things. Above all, Corporate Moronic is beautifully written and performed.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it?
It isn’t without its faults, but they’re not really worth bothering with.
Trivia:
The title of their finest three minutes, Death and the Maiden, comes from a painting by Edvard Munch and references the 19th century French poets, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. The words, “Get shot by Verlaine” is about how Rimbaud was killed by his lover.

 


Tapes

 

Who? Bomb Factory

Title: Tapes
Label:
self-released
Tell me more:
The band will tell their story in an interview with Porky Prime Cuts, that will be posted in the new few days.
Why the fek should I listen to this?
The lead track, Tapes, is about how privacy is becoming a fading luxury. It feels like you’re in the mind of the person they describe, who becomes very unhinged at the society he lives in. The third track of the EP, God Loves Us and He Hates You, is about a subject very dear to their hearts. It may clock in at only 9 minutes 32 seconds, but you feel like you’ve had the musical equivalent of Socialist Worker lodged in your ears, in terms of the use of language, rather than the actual politics. Lack of privacy, organised religion and the repressive times we live in: it’s a tale of the times.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it?
Ranting Jack barks a little too much. You feel some subtelty would be more telling.
You can buy it here:
http://bombfactory.blogspot.com/

 


Tiki

Who? Tiki Taane

Title: Flux
Label:
self-released
Tell me more:
Taane’s well-received Past Present Future album (2007) remixed and padded out with new tracks.
Why the fek should I listen to this?
The advantage of listening to a remix album without having heard the original is that I have two fresh ears; therefore I can take Flux on its own merits. Taane uses various knob-twiddlers to create reggae, dub, electro etc mixes, some of which work, some of which don’t. A clear highlight is David Lange is Da Bomb, which takes considerably from the former prime minister of New Zealand’s famous Oxford Union address in 1985 in which he basically told the US bomb-loving leaders to piss off, as well as some nuclear bomb information messages. The ever-evolving nature of the tracks, sounds, beats and samples makes for an intriguing ride.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it?
A copy of Past Present Future is not necessarily needed to detect that a couple of the remixers aren’t quite sure of what they’re seeking to achieve.
Trivia:
Taane was in Salmonella Dub for 11 years, most of them as frontman.

 


 

Attic Dweller



Flowered Up

 

Who? Flowered Up

Title: A Life With Brian
Label:
Warners
Tell me more:
The actual title of the album released in 2005, is The Best Of … , but this contains all the tracks of their 1991 album, in their original order, with the same cover, with the addition of just one track, Weekender (12” version). They came out of the Baggy scene of the early 90s that fomented traditional indiepop with the developing rave sound.
Why the fek should I listen to this?
I re-discovered this in the bargain bin, tempted as much by the price than memories of a lost classic. At the time of its original release there were many similar bands, such as the Stone Roses but it was the dug-addled hedonism of the Happy Mondays that brought the biggest comparisons. The Mondays had a lunatic called Bez who danced about on stage with maracas; the Londoners had Barry Mooncult, who was dressed as a flower.

But it wasn’t that simple. I can hear an awful lot more than when I first heard A Life With Brian all those years ago. It took baggy or indie-dance to another level and they had a modicum of success. Debut single It’s On was piano driven and sounded fresh at the time.

As I had just about finished writing this I read the sad news that the lead singer, Liam Maher, had died aged 41. The Times online version included an obituary, a testament to the significance of the bands of that time.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it?
Their finest moment is often regarded as the hedonistic anthem Weekender, all 13 minutes of it and with an accompanying video that was more famous than the track. But it is repetitive and overlong. Reviews of A Life With Brian weren’t particularly complimentary at the time, and I’m wondering if my quality control is weaker now than it was in the early 90s when I gave this a cursory listen or if I have a finer ear for music now. I like to think the former.
Trivia:
Many of the online tributes to Maher are on football fan forums, such as an unofficial Crystal Palace one.

 

Special mention

BIrds of NZ

 

Various ‘artists’

Birds of NZ

The 37 artists here are New Zealand’s native birds, with only the moa being unable to make an appearance on account of it being extinct.

A quirky and popular spot on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme is about a minute of chirping from the likes of the Sooty Shearwater or Buller’s Mollymawk. Bird names are a little bit of contention as the traditional Maori names (Titi and Toroa for those two, respectively) have largely been supplanted by the colonial English names. Politics in birds, who’d have thought it. Sadly, available only on download (link below) so I can’t send it to everyone I know from Canada to Carlisle for Christmas. Do the birds get royalties?

http://www.amplifier.co.nz/default,52109.sm

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Words 2The fanzine is dead: long live the fanzine.

As a former fanzine editor I find it almost eerie that the self-produced, stapled-together publication, written with more love than skill, is largely passing into the anals of history, a footnote in the history of the counter-culture.

You can blame the electronic era, but, actually, we need to celebrate it because it’s the saviour of anyone with a few words to say.

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, I was avidly collecting zines, which would vary from 12-page dedications to Aztec Camera, to bulky, generic zines on indie music, most of them coming in the handy A5 format. The fun was in discovering these gems in the classified ad sections of the music mags, or in other zines. I would write a cheque (or postal order), enclose a stamped addressed envelope and about six weeks later it would pop through the letterbox.

There weren’t all good but most zines were written with enthusiasm, a knowledge of the subject and delivered in a readable manner. I still have several copies of a wonderful publication called Pure Joy, a paen to Julian Cope that had incisive and well-researched articles, good quality photographs and was brilliantly laid out. I also recall being impressed by a ska zine called Zoot; Shy Like Me, the only issue of which I ever saw contained THREE flexi-disks, and a wonderful zine all about fey English pop with with every page in flourescent green and oranges (I forget the title).

There was also a proliferation of football fanzines, established by diehard fans fed up with the club’s official mouthpieces and the media in general and sold outside the ground on match days. There are too many fantastic examples of club zines, but I have to single out a Celtic FC rag called Not The View, born out of the frustration of fans towards the awful pro-board mag The Celtic View, also known as Pravda. It’s still going (issue 177 just out) and looks as good as it ever did, though I don’t know what sales would be in comparison to its heyday.

NTVThese were labour of loves, cheap gifts (often the postage was more than the publication) from dedicated writers with more enthusiasm than sense.

I was one of them, producing from 1995 to 1998 five rags and contributing to a few others. One had Kenny Dalglish on the cover but had nothing to do with football; another was about a band called The House of Love, and the other two, Words Fail Me and Monkey With A Typewriter, included interviews with the likes of Travis (one of their first) and the Wedding Present, and went off on tangents about Scottish third division football and an American street novelist called Iceberg Slim. It took forever to arrange and conduct interviews, write the articles, sub it, lay out the pages, take it to the printer then try to sell the thing, which by that stage you just wanted to stick in a bin. Essentially, they were fun.

made-of-paper-issue-2

Every town in Tory Britain had at least one zine written on a typewriter or a second-hand PC, featuring bands who may well have split up by the time of publication.

I came across a great wee zine recently, called Ice Cream For Quo, free if postage included, which has pieces headlined Some fanzines I’ve written for, Some famous people I’ve seen and The Day I Met Kylie Minogue.

In New Zealand, where I now live, I found in a internet/ anarchist bookshop, now gone sadly, a zine devoted to the Auckland punk scene called Panik! that came out in 2005 and had some great pics and articles on North Island punk bands. That, alas, was the only issue but it showed that the art of the zine isn’t dead (unlike punk). The shop also had a mag about Christian Anarchism (surely an oxymoron) and a vegan zine featuring Maria Sharapova on the cover.

But the art of the printed publication is largely dying, as the numbers of printed zines have fallen considerably over the past decade or so and the outlets have narrowed.

The reason for this is the electronic age, which reduces costs and the laborious task of distributing the hard copy.

Sniffin glueHowever, the fanzine is enjoying a revival; it’s had to change format. The internet has created an army of people with a lot to get off their chest. Once there was a handful of printed zines dedicated to Morrissey, now he’s got hundreds of webzines singing his praises. Picture quality has improved, the material can be issued immediately and feedback can be left on forums. This is indeed a golden age for people with something to say. And, of course, I have my own cyber space. What you are reading now is basically a fanzine. Without the staples.

My city centre library has a small section dedicated to printed fanzines, and the wonderful staff there categorise each one as per their objective – music, personal, comics, art, general etc. Clearly, there’s an interest in zines, or at the very least the library feels a duty to stock examples of them.

On the right of this page are links to various websites and blogs and within these are links to hundreds, if not thousands more. That shows people still want to write about things they love.

If anyone is producing a printed zine, please send to PO Box 10904, The Terrace, Wellington 6143, NZ and I will review it. All links to webzines are also gratefully received.

somemightsayCity GentSlacker zine

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