“Are you black
Are you Caucasian
Are you Chinese
Are you Asian
Or are you the start of an alien invasion
I always preferred you when
You wore a tank top
And sung Ben
But something happened
Now you’re not what I’d call a regular chap
But someone who has had a major mishap
With a tin of magnolia paint
Get it into your head: DIANA ROSS YOU AIN’T
You’re Michael Jackson
You brought us Thriller, Dangerous and Bad
Then you went completely mad
You are a sight
Were you being ironic when you sung
“It don’t matter if you’re black or white”
You look so shite
I bet you’re fully booked every Halloween night
A grown man
Living in Neverland
Playing games that should be banned
You and Gary Glitter use the same PC
How many noses have you had – 23?
Now you’ll have to dodge the flak son
Put away your dirty mack son
Quit your antics in the sack son
Get yourself on the right track son
Paparazzi’s on your back son
You will have to face the facts son
And stop acting like a prat son
You’re not white – you are black son
You are not an Anglo-Saxon”
You may well think, when listening to the increasingly irrelevant singles chart, that you can actually hear the death rattle in the hoarse wheezing throat of popular music. This view would be further enhanced, if you were to chance across “Pop Idol” on TV and subjected your ears to Simon Cowell’s favourite brand of overwrought, cruise ship, cabaret, balladeering, yes, it would appear that popular music as an art form, is dead. You would be forgiven if you considered that this style of “talent” show may have brainwashed the public into the belief that this was actually representative of what Pop music should be and reflective of what’s really happening in music at present. Indeed if you were to go into any office in the land it’s highly likely you would overhear a conversation with regard to last weeks” Pop Idol”, possibly about how Leona has grown, not only as a performer, but also as a person, or how Geoff the singing hod carrier from Bury has really embraced “Unchained Melody”, indeed Geoff actually “owned ” that song..…Yes we need help, “Hello ? Hello ? Operator Please ? “….
A browse on t’internt however should quickly remedy the perception that the only viable musical talent out there is discovered by The High Waisted Overlord, his gibbering Leprechaun friend and the pallid, surgically enhanced, self appointed “Best Mum In The World-Like, Ever” Because the truth is there are many new bands producing innovative, joyous music, music that moves people and is making a connection with fans around the world on a level Cowell could only dream about……… Australia’s Operator Please are one such band, their punk pop thrash is a joy to behold, they may only be youngsters but they produce a sound that would have you believe they’ve been playing together for years. From the punk pop novelty of “Just A Song About Ping Pong” to the adrenaline fueled romp of “Get What You Want”, and what can I say about Amandah’s voice ? it’s truly amazing ! These little monkeys have proved that age should never be a barrier to producing wonderful music, and their debut album “Yes Yes Vindictive” is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases within the walls of VP Towers. After high profile support spots with the likes of The Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse,We Are Scientists And The Go! Team , and a tour of Oz , OP are currently back playing dates in the UK. Surely this is a band who will take 2008 by the seat of the pants, give it a darn good kicking and put some energy and life back into the charts in the UK …… Mr VP was helped onto his pimped up mobility scooter and met up with Tim from Operator Please to discuss their meteoric rise from school band mates to riotous snarling rock n roll machine! (and the possibility of them recording his song, “Just A Ballad About Salad” ?)
VP: So the story goes you met at High school and got together to win a battle of the bands competition…and a buzz started to grow…how did you get from that point to where you are now?
Tim : We entered lots of competitions and ended up on a compilation CD for mess + noise. We had people contact us after hearing us and seeing us in the magazine.Fast forward half a year and we had managers, an agent and a record label. Since then, we have been working our asses off touring and doing promo so that people know who we are. Everything has been leading up to this first album which has just been released, so I guess we will see if all of our hard work has paid off.
VP: Operator Please? Who came up with the name and what’s it all about?
Tim : It was a joint thing, we all sat down and brainstormed words that we liked, wrote them down on a piece of paper and Operator + Please happened to end up next to each other. There is absolutely no meaning behind it, like the ping pong song, there is no hidden message or story behind the name!
VP :Your debut album’s to be released in Oz in November, is there a different release date for UK/Europe?
Tim : The album is being released on the 10/11/07 in Australia, so its already out. I believe we are releasing the album in the UK in January which will be exciting!It was cool releasing it in Australia and seeing the reaction and I think we are looking forward to seeing how the UK reacts to it because it is a totally different market over there.
VP: You’ve secured your selves some really high profile support slots have you met any heroes?
Tim : Yeah, we supported Arctic Monkeys which was a pretty amazing experience. They were personally one of my favourite bands at the time, and being able to see them 5 times was the biggest thrill! We’d Go out into the crowd (when we were aloud) and watch, it was so much fun. Otherwise some of us would stand side stage and just go crazy!!
VP: How’s the current tour going? Do you get nervous before going on stage?
Tim : We just completed our first national Australian tour after touring in the UK for almost 3 months. It was such a shock to come back after such a long time and see the reaction that we got, because when we left, Just a song about ping pong hadn’t been released, and when we came back everyone knew it, and other songs too! It was soooo much fun playing to an audience who knew our songs. It helps take away nerves, if we have any. For smaller shows, we don’t tend to get nervous, unless there is a family member or a good friend there sometimes some of us will get a light stomach, but its usually gone by the 2nd song anyway.
VP: Do you all like similar music or do each of you have different influences?
Tim :We all have different influences, i think that helps in bringing a different sound to the band. I grew up on alot of jazz stuff, but have grown to love more indie stuff now like Arctic Monkeys, Good Shoes etc. Some of my favourite song writers are John Mayer and Jamie Cullum.
VP: How do you spend your time when travelling on tour? Do you write songs/ read books/watch DVDs play PSP/ Xbox etc ?
Tim :We all tend to spend most of our time listening to music! were big music lovers. If were not needed for anything, well be listening to our ipod. Our other love are computers, Apple Macs. Always searching for the free wireless internet hotspots to check our email and myspaces.
VP: What have been the best things about being in a band so far?
Tim : For me, i absolutely love performing, and I get to travel around the world, doing what i love. I would have to say that is the best thing about being in a band!
VP: People have been surprised at how young you are, but as they say if you’re good enough you’re old enough. Does it bug you that people, even if they are well meaning go on about your age (like I just have ho ho)?
Tim :No, i think were used to it, let them get it out of their system. It is only bugging to us when they talk condescendingly towards us because we are young. I don’t think music should be limited to age, e.g Tiny Masters of Today are 10 and 12. One of Amandahs favourite bands!
VP: Using Australian slang sum yourselves up in five words
It’s a obviously a big decision for anybody to leave a successful group at the height of their fame, but it is said that music is the purest form of self expression and many artists feel the need to branch out away from their band mates and tread a different path. In the case of Charlotte Hatherley its certainly a decision that’s paid off. With two critically acclaimed albums behind her, an army of loyal fans, and her own record label she doesn’t appear to have broken stride since quitting as Ash’s guitarist in January 2006. She oozes pure rock n roll coolness, think Chrisse Hynde with supermodel looks, and your in the right ballpark, but with Charlotte it’s all about the music and the performance and she’s down to earth enough to write in her own myspace tour blogs about the dangers of eating curries before performing on stage ! Whilst Songs like “Kim Wilde” and “Bastardo” have earned her a cult following her latest album “The Deep Blue” will only enhance her reputation and new single “Again”, could well be her finest song to date, a tale of love regret and maybe the heart ruling the head? It’s a song which clearly demonstrates that Chazza has developed into a truly great songwriter, and “The Deep Blue” contains of collection of songs which any artist would be proud of.
We said “Guten Tag!” to Charlotte as her UK acoustic tour ended and her live dates in Germany where about to commence.
VP: Since leaving Ash you’ ve released two solo albums, received critical acclaim, gigged tirelessly and gathered a loyal army of fans. You must be delighted, how different does life as a solo artist differ from that of being a member of a band?
CH:I suppose it’s the difference between being a front-person and being a guitarist….i see myself mainly as a guitarist and playing in a band is just great fun, I never really have to worry about image or being sober. With Ash I would wear whatever felt comfortable and merrily get drunk on stage. Being a solo artist is a bit more serious and more thought goes into it. You have to present yourself in a much more assertive and convincing way, and I feel I have to always be on form. But I try to make the band I have with me as a solo artist feel like a band of friends, rather than just hired hands, so it’s still a lot of fun on the road.
VP ….And you’ve recently done an acoustic tour , what was the thinking behind this ? I’ve noticed quite a few bands recently whom seem keen to play more intimate gigs …
CH:Anyone can be a musician with a laptop and garage band, so the actual theatricality of a intimate stage show is becoming quite rare and I’ve been amazed by how much people prefer to see the acoustic shows, and really love to see up close the three of us playing quite intricate and delicate songs. Initially I was quite reluctant because I didn’t want it to be a boring ‘girls with acoustic guitars’ show, if I saw that advertised I would certainly be put off. I’ve made sure that it still remains interesting and exciting, despite being very stripped down.
VP: Songwriting ? would you consider your style observational, personal, poetically abstract ?? what’s the process , is it spontaneous or do you sit down and think “Ok I’m going to write two great songs today”
CH:I don’t think about my songwriting in any way, it happens and I record at home. Mostly it starts with a guitar riff, and usually the lyrics are the last thing that I write. Anything in between is a guess, it changes often. Some days there is a very definite drought, other days I can be very prolific. I am a dreadful procrastinater, I wish I could be more disciplined.
VP: Since of birth of what is referred to as ” rock n roll” what do you personally consider to be the most inspirational period/decade?
CH: I think music now is incredibly exciting and inspirational. Of course I am a huge fan of Bowie, Roxy Music, Kate Bush and Eno…so I guess the 70s really do it for me, but to experience this dramatic change in the music industry first hand, right now is very inspiring. So much is happening it’s hard to keep up. As everyone around loses their heads certain bands are seizing the moment and adapting to the climate and some seriously exciting times and music are ahead of us. It’s hard for me remain a completely independent artist as it’s virtually impossible to make any money from record sales, but I’m finding ways of surviving, and all these great and innovative new bands will too, so I am sure this era will be looked upon as very important in the future.
VP: What music are you listening to at the moment , and who are your all time musical heroes?
CH:I love the Battles album ‘Atlas’, it is incredible. I also love The Klaxons, and have been listening to a lot of classical music, Bernstein, Koechlin, Debussy and Morton Feldman. All time heroes would have to be Bowie and Kate Bush.
VP: Do you think there is a dearth of decent music shows on TV nowadays .In the past there were old established shows such as Ready Steady Go, Top Of The Pops., then more innovative shows such as The Old Grey Whistle Test , Revolver, The Tube and of course Cheggars Plays Pop ? Do you feel there’s still a niche in the market for a really great music show ( we Still have Jools Of Course)
CH: Jools Holland is hideous , although you occasionally get the odd interesting band and they really stand out as different and exciting. I guess YouTube has become a breeding ground for music videos and live performances. Touring is becoming so important for bands as people aren’t buying records anymore, so perhaps TV live performances are more important than ever as bands need people to go and see them…and lord knows there are so many fucking bands touring that you never know who to see. I bought the Battles album after seeing them on Jools Holland, and that stuff will never be played on the radio, so a whole programme full of bands like that would be really ace.
VP: When you look back at 2007 what do you think your highlights will be ?
CH: Releasing ‘The Deep Blue’ on my own label and getting through the year
VP: There seems to be quite a number of bands reforming recently. influential legends like The JAMC but also a clutch of what I can only term as “the less than leading lights of Brit pop brigade” . Even the Pistols are playing 50 quid a ticket shows. Are there any bands that you wish would reform and any you really wish hadn’t bothered?
CH: No, I don’t like any of the Britpop bands, except for The Bluetones. I don’t quite see the point in Britpop reformations, it wasn’t even that bloody long ago.
VP: There’s no denying you give off an aura of proper rock n roll cool, often people who are cool deny it, what do you think ? are you cool? .
CH:I’m from Chiswick, and that ain’t ever gonna be cool. (Denial = she’s cool! )
VP: That Bono fellows a funny wee man , clearly desperate for a Nobel peace prize or canonisation. But who do you consider to be real heroes of this confusing modern age in which we live …
CH: Alan McGee and all who follow his example in this VERY confusing modern age of the music business. He has a total belief in bands and music and is ready to change and adapt and dares to try new ways to make music available, whilst still protecting the bands that make it.
This month’s Uncut magazine has reviewed ’The Deep Blue’….4 out of 5 stars y’all. Check it: Hatherley always looked like having more about her than being someone else’s rhythm guitarist. She fullfills that promise on her second solo set, flowering into a serious talent. Having just taken off the stabilisers by leaving Ash, it’s even braver, largely abandoning the bubblegum punk of her debut in favour of a magic-realist fantasy forest reminiscent of classic 4AD indie girls. The elegant “Roll Over” and the spectral “Dawn Treader” prove Hatherley is a far deeper beast than her rock chick stylings have so far suggested.
Yes sometimes nice people send us music, sometimes we “randomly” discover it ..
So whats on the VPME I-pod this month ? (in no particular order)
Operator Please– “Get What You Want”
Pure incendiary, deep down and dirty rock n roll – This is where its at ! A classic. This is a band who really should be as enormous as John Prescott’s waistline. Ripper, as they say in Oz.
The Pipettes –“Your Love For Me” (a new song from the Japanese Import Of “We Are The Pipettes”) sounds a little bit like what The Sundays may have produced if they’d have adopted a 60’s girl group vibe, and stopped moping around (and had three Harriets)-which is a good thing! Hurrah!
Millburn –“Wolves At the Door”
Somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, Sean Bean and Reverend And The Makers, there is Millburn, I can’t pretend I don’t like it, so i wont, I like it!
Róisín Murphy–“Dear Miami “
Ah Ms Murphy is back with a lovely slice of Electro/Disco/Funk, cooler than a chriogenically preserved James Dean, in an ice cream parlour, with the door left open, in Alaska, in January….
The Phantom Lovers-“Heroes And Idols”
This is their first single apparently, due out at the end of the November. A dark menacing gothicy vibe, with a layered sound that swirls around like the presage to some great foreboding revelation …she’s got a great voice and repeated plays really make this track grow on you. But is it bland enough to get radio play ? No, it’s far more interesting and therefore will probably get no airplay…
The Blue Smarties – “I Feel Like Ian Beale”
Anyone remember these little pop pixies ? The Pipettes should cover this lost classic about the unluckiest man in Albert Square. Mind you he was and continues to be, a Tw*t !
The Hot Puppies – “Clarinet Town”
This band just get better and better , from the forthcoming “Blue Hands” album- which I’m very much looking forward to. I just wish their gigs where easier to attend 😉
Siouxsie– “Here Come That Day”
Blimey ! No it’s not about Darren Days ex’s waiting to beat up the philandering little shit, it’s a storming return to form from the High Priestess of Punk, the best shes done for many moons, this time she remembers that sometimes songs can sound better with a tune-Great Stuff !
Screaming Ballerinas –“Jessica” (demo)
They can argue all they like, but this is a song Blondie would have been proud of, more hooks than Peter Pans nemesis and a fantastic vocal, hard to believe the tracks on here are essentially demos -Amazing!
The Bordellos –“Blank Letter”(bass version)
What would have happened if The Jesus & Mary Chain’s Reid brothers had let Bobby Gillespie sing and not bullied him into playing the drums ?-Possibly this, its raw, and conjures up the bedroom sleaze of early JAMC demos. From The Album “Meet the Bordellos” which contains the frankly disturbing ” These Boots Are Made for Stalking” ….
Babyshambles–“French Dog Blues” – Oh dear, I almost thought this was going to be good, the melody strains to escape, almost succeeds and then Pete says “Chien bleu” and thus ruins the whole song, as he sounds a complete cock, he’s no Serge Gainsbourg that’s for sure… And what the F*ck does ” I model lacklustre panicky in vain search for the remedy, No words only melody come, so I take the day off “????- What a load of pretentious half baked w*nk in a Tupperware box ! If that’s what’s considered by many to be modern day poetry then my name’s TS Elliot. Rhyming panicky with remedy is almost in the same class as when the world of pop bowed down to the genius of Billy Ray Cyrus when he rhymed “achy” with breaky ” -time itself was almost torn asunder and Stephen Hawking’s head exploded, due the complexity of such a rhyme ….I was indeed humbled…….Anyway the guitars aren’t bad, problem is, just as it promises to deliver it becomes all limp, flaccid and ultimately deeply unsatisfying, rather like bad sex….
The Real Tuesday Weld – “Last Words“- Now this is good, imagine if Paddy McAloon and the ghost of Billy McKenzie sang lyrics penned by Jarvis Cocker – in Tin Pan Alley……It’s up on myspace for a free download too. I see there’s a penchant for pencil thin taches too 😉
The Duke Spirit-“Lassoo” (from the Ex Voto EP) . Magnificent, rollicking, epic sounding slice of blood and guts rock n roll . Its sheer quality transcends genre and in time it should rightly be regarded as a classic. Everybody should buy it !
“The opening track of The Royal We is a little misleading. ‘Back and Forth Forever’ doesn’t quite seem to fit the rest of the album, but when a band only has ten songs to their name (including two covers and one b-side on their first and only single), they probably can’t afford to be choosy about what goes on their album. Anyway, the song itself is an adorable, almost sickening, love song, and while the tone is slightly different from the rest of the album, it’s a lovely opener. The main part of the album then kicks off with ‘All The Rage’, that lone single. It’s also one of the highlights of the album, which, although it has a lot of potential, is held back by the fact that every single song on it was recorded as a demo. It’s a shame that potential will never be realised. Jihae Simmons’ twee and witty lyrics do however carry the album well enough to make you forget the recording issues, along with sweet ooh-ooh-aah backing vocals from the other band members.
‘That Ain’t My Sweet Love’ and ‘Three Is A Crowd’ at first seem a little underwhelming compared to some of the other songs on the album, but when you listen to them a few times, particularly some of the lyrics – ‘Three Is A Crowd’ seems to be about an accidental threesome – and the way the songs build to their own fab conclusions means you wouldn’t want them left off the album (not that they really could be, it’s barely out of EP territory as-is).
Another highlight of the album is the song I pegged as a single (and still think would have been a better choice), ‘I Hate Rock N Roll’. With an infectious chorus and such fantastic lyrics as “Ooh, you’re sexy like T-Rexy/Put that body away (hey hey hey)”, I defy anyone to not fall in love with it and find themselves singing it at all available opportunities. ‘Willy’ is a sweet song about a socially-awkward boy on New Year’s Eve, yet the singer seems to like him anyway (“Have a, have a, have a, have a, have a, have a happy new year, Willy…”), and a definite grower. The album ends with one of their covers, Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. The instrumentals are certainly fantastic, but Jihae’s vocals leave me feeling slightly disappointed after the brilliance of the previous track, ‘French Legality’, which features Jihae screeching her little heart out for no apparent reason – the best kind of screeching.
As it is, you can hear fully half of the album on the band’s Myspace. Standing at eight tracks and only twenty minutes and twenty-seven seconds, it feels as if you’re being let in on this fantastic secret and then having it snatched away from under your nose just when you really start enjoying it. The Royal We play their last gig, and the album launch gig, on November 5th in Glasgow.
R.I.P., the Royal We.
The Royal We is released by Geographic (distributed by Domino Records) on CD and LP from Monday 5th November, 2007. ‘All The Rage’ can be bought as a limited 7″ or download.”
“I’m Not Always So Stupid” (from the “George Best- Plus” Re-release) By The Wedding Present
The Wedding Present- George Best Anniversary Tour -Liverpool Academy 27/10/2007
It’s hard to believe its twenty years since the release of The Wedding Present’s seminal “George Best” album, listening to it nowadays you realise what a classic collection of songs it is. If anything, it sounds even better in the present than it did all those years ago,the buzzing hornets nest guitars, the lyrics, which are as sharp as they are witty, all played at a break neck pace…..…….Now I might not believe its 20 years ago, but tonight at a packed Academy the evidence is all around me, hardcore “Prezzie fans” wait in anticipation for their hero, they may be a little paunchier, have a little less hair, but they are as enthusiastic as ever. As I edge my way to the front, negotiating several “well fed” gentlemen, I look back at the packed crowd behind me- I cant help feeling I’ve just wandered through a spec savers promotional photoshoot-(god knows what crowds at Who concerts look like!) and I wonder if the years have been slightly kinder to David Gedge.
When he arrives on stage I’m pleasantly suprised to see he hasn’t changed at all and looks as fit as a fiddle ! “You’re a genius,” somebody shouts, at which he feigns false modesty, “Fat Bastard” laughs another . “Fat ? That’s a bit unfair” retorts Gedge grinning sardonically, “A few pounds over maybe, but surely not…. fat?? – Anyway It’s great to be back in Manchester “ he continues, which always goes down well in Liverpool, as the band launch into a brace of Cinerama (Gedges other band)songs. Then a chap dressed up as a white rabbit holding countdown cards,wanders on stage, eventually stopping the cards to huge cheers with one printed bearing the album sleeve image of the legendary Manchester United booze hound (the only time a Man U shirt appearing in Liverpool will ever get a cheer, I wager ! ), and its heads down as “George Best” is played in its entirety as part of the set . Every song is greeted like an old friend,“Everybody Thinks He looks Daft,” “What Did Your Last Servant Die Of”,“My Favourite Dress” and “Shatner” have the crowd moshing with delight. “Don’t play “Nowhere Fast “ one of the stouter more mature fans breathlessly shouts…. ” I need a rest!!” Gedge and his band are on fire and the songs that where the soundtracks to many of the audience’s youth sound as fresh and as vital as ever.
It really is a case of an old master showing the Indie kids how it should be done,“Let me know when Razorlight sound this good ” deadpans Gedge after playing a newer song “ Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk “ Of course,he’s right, the Wedding Presents buzz-saw guitars, and wry, intelligent lyrics make Mr Borrels insipid, inane warblings seem even more insignificant. Although Gedge has never been blessed with the sweetest of voices he is undoubtedly one of the countries best, yet most underrated lyricists. His beautifully observed bitter sweet songs explore love, loss and the complexities and misunderstandings within relationships that deftly manage to combine both the poetic and the down to earth. They are of course great to sing a long to after a few beers, which tonight’s audience do so with great gusto.
The biggest cheer of the night comes as the set ends ” See you again “ says Gedge “Maybe next year?” He doesn’t bother with ego massaging fripperies such as encores and the crowd go home happy, knowing that even if the lumbago plays up in he morning it was worth it. Gedge’s songs may often lament the fact that all too often he doesn’t “get the girl” but on this evidence he’s still got the charisma, the style and the talent that have made the Wedding Present such an influential act……and long may he continue…
“Everybody Thinks He Looks Daft” The Wedding Present -Liverpool 27/10/2007