Friday, 27 February 2009

Fighting With Wire Tour Diaries

The latest chapters in FWW's A/V log of thier recent UK tour went up on their dedicated YouTube channel yesterday. Here's #10 in the series.

Shark Versus Horses

STA's first American signing, the arithmetic Melvins meets Mclusky-inspired We Versus the Shark will be hitting the UK for the first time in support of their Dirty Versions record and playing with the blistering hot Pulled Apart By Horses in the second half of March. If you like your noise to come with a capital N these shows are not to be missed. Below are the details with some handy ticket links.

Asterixed shows also boast support from Castrovalva who are either named after the painting by Escher or a Peter Davison-era Doctor Who story. I like to think it's the latter but I will endeavour to find out.

Glasgow, Stereo, March 18th, Wednesday - TICKETS(18+)
Newcastle, The End Bar, March 19th, Thursday - TICKETS*
Barrow, The Canteen, March 20th, Friday
Leeds, The Fenton, March 21st, Saturday - TICKETS (18+)
Sheffield, The Harley, March 22nd, Sunday - *
York, Duchess, March 23rd, Monday - TICKETS * (14+)
Middlesbrough, Uncle Albert's, March 24th, Tuesday - TICKETS (18+)
Nottingham, Chameleon Arts Cafe, March 25th, Wednesday - TICKETS (14+)
Oxford, Cellar, March 26th, Thursday - TICKETS (18+)
Kingston, Fighting Cocks, March 27th, Friday
Guildford Boileroom, March 28th, Saturday - TICKETS (18+)
Brighton, Prince Albert, March 29th Sunday - TICKETS (16+)
Southampton, Hamptons, March 30th, Monday - TICKETS (14+)
London, Madame Jo Jo's, March 31st, Tuesday - TICKETS (18+)

For a full taste of Dirty Versions, the record can be previewed on our patented monkey jukebox and to hear WVTS discussing the record check out the blogcast takeover they did for us late last year.


It's Friday night, and I'm sitting at home so I can save money to spend at SXSW. FUN TIMES. On the plus side, I'm listening to an almost-finished version of the new Young Playthings album for the first time (if you want a sneak preview, check out the This Ain't No Picnic compilation, as 'Y Don't U Like Me' reappears here), so that's pretty nice.

Also, new Future of the Left video!

Where did Falco's hair go?!?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

ASIWYFA - Vice Album Review - 8/10

Just when the barrage of vacuous Pelicisis clones threatened to take the whole “instrumetal” ship down to the deepest depths of irrevocable mediocrity, this weirdly clothed beast from Northern Ireland turns up and reminds you that once upon a time it was all rather exciting to mix Mogwai, Neurosis and a dollop of not really caring what came out the other end.


Another STA Q&A for Dissertation Writers

Thanks to Anisa @ Bruised Fruit for posing the Qs. Feel free to take anything you need from this Q&A.

File-sharing could be considered damaging but on the other hand some say that more people are listening to music than ever before. Do you think there is a way to fight against file sharing or should it be embraced and used for positive effect?

I think the whole subject is done and dusted, it’s clear that file sharing (and its supercedents that we are yet to see) is with us and here to stay. The challenge for large corporations is how they can go about monetizing this. I predict that the only way that this will happen will be from a royalty derived from the consumers internet subscription. The ISPs have to have the responsibility of delivering cash to copyright holders.

I think file sharing is damaging tactile and digital sales – but I’m an advocate of people hearing music and being able to try before they buy. If the music is good and you want to support the artist, it’s down to you to purchase a show ticket, t-shirt, CD or legit download. If you don’t do that – the artist will wither and die, essentially you strangulate their creativity by not putting your money where your heart is.

How do you believe record companies could use file sharing for their own gain?

Since the mid-fifties advertisers and marketing departments have leveraged youth, sex and music to shift product. Marketing departments are already manipulating web technology to track and place other products beside the downloads we make.

There is no conspiracy here; it’s simply creative economics. Know that every step that you make online is digitised and analysed either in a macro sense or a (possibly more malevolent) micro sense.

Your face book profile, the websites you visit and the downloads you make all inform advertisers and their clients about your leisure/time patterns. This is what they can use to sell you the big ticket items they really want you to buy.

I am crediting the record industry with more deftness of thought than they actually have. It’s a cash-poor sector now and they are desperately trying to catch up with technologies that are quickly outpacing even the brightest of minds.

Obviously CD sales are declining rapidly and there is no current sign of recovery, how do you think this loss of revenue will be replaced?

Live income is crucial to any artist now wishing to have a career in the industry – this is a correction that I personally applaud. I think music will be for the better now that fat cat artists have to get off their arses and play gigs. I had the time of my life at Prince at the O2. Faith No More can no longer rely on their back catalogue sales to run vanity projects – out on tour with you! Jesus Lizard out of retirement – all good!

Artists need to think of other ways of other ways to generate income from their art. Solomon Burke was banned from the Apollo Theater in New York for trying to sell pork chop sandwiches and magic popcorn with his face on the box at his shows. He tried to sell his crown, scepter and “King of Rock & Soul” title for $10,000 to James Brown. That’s the sort of stuff they need to be thinking about.

Do you think that there is one particular stream of revenue that can replace the loss of CD sales such as touring or merchandise etc?

It depends on the size of artist. Kaiser Chiefs will generate 90% of their annual income from live as they’re stadium-sized. The lower down the food chain you descend, the more fractious and evenly spread the income streams become.

What do you think of multiple rights better known as 360 deals? Will this be a successful way of record companies surviving?

I think it’s the last gasp of a dying animal. Record labels are not merchandising companies, tour bookers, set designers or website engineers. 360 deals are a corporate strategy mistake of the highest magnitude. They will rue the day they decided to try to grab income share from industries they have no expertise in, instead of concentrating on the song and generating hits.

The days of the conglomerate are numbered.

Do you think 360 deals could be damaging for artists?

Completely, they no longer have control over the ancillary aspects of their career (live, merchandise, online etc). Ultimately, this stunts their growth; disincentivises management teams and reduces income flowing through the business.

The 360 deals highlight the trend of promoting artists as a brand, is branding important for an artist?

All bands are brands unless you decide to make a record and bury it in the garden. Then you’re a fucking maniac, but could call yourself an artist I suppose. Once you decide to place a product on a shelf, branding is crucial to the artist’s success. In general, people do not want to associate their hard-earned with non-aspirational purchases.

Unless the brand is managed tightly and coherently, generally the product fails to shift an interesting number of units.

Personally, at Smalltown America we don’t care if the artist sells 50 or 50,000 copies – so long as the music is authentic and the band are nice people we will work the record as hard as we possibly can.

Lil Wayne’s newest album the Carter III sold a respectable amount of CDs compared to how the industry is declining. Seven songs that Lil Wayne appeared on were in the charts at one time and some people believe it is this and radio play raising awareness that made the album a success. Do you think being able to sample the album is important in the modern climate and is it indicating the end of the one-hit-wonder?

Radio is a key sales driver in the industry, I don’t know too much about Lil Wayne’s record – but I think that if you get bludgeoned over the head enough times with something eventually you give in. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a good record or not. It’s a kind of record label water torture… drip… drip…

In one respect I think customers deserve the chance to listen to a whole record before they have to part with any cash. Sites like Spotify offer the chance to do that in a pleasant environment.

Do you think that this level of awareness of a whole album means the end of albums being sold if there are not ten solid tracks. Are people more likely to buy the singles instead of a whole album now?

I believe in the art of record making conceptually; I don’t think that a single track tells the story behind an artists. Personally we push all our artists to make full length albums and we don’t see that changing. It’s like putting a single chapter from a Terry Pratchett book on sale and asking people to understand how the story is going to end.

People do like singles though – it’s a short attention span thing, our lives are much busier now.

Now that distribution and the market have changed, promotion is changing with it. How do you think the music industry will decide to promote its artists next?

Soon everything will be done online, even relationship driven jobs like radio plugging will have an online engine backing it up.

Many artists are now teaming up with other companies such as drinks or mobile phones or lending their songs to advertisements. What do you think of this kind of cross-promotion?

Personally, it’s a turn off for me because I’m a indie snob and I like my favourite bands to be unavailable, undecipherable and sometimes unlistenable. I think that for the right artists synergy with other industries is perfectly acceptable and totally necessary. Put it this way I’m not going to be cueing up to buy Nadine Coyle’s biography – but I’m reminded of their music when I see Girls Aloud advertising Nintendogs.

The use of online promotions is rising, do you see this as the future of music industry promotions or should radio, television and press still be considered?

Television captures the mind of a nation in a very influential way. People still foolishly (I included) believe that if something is on television it’s good and valid. Clearly that’s bullshit and it just depends how much money you have to spend advertising The Seldom Seen Kid.

At least with press (although purchasing power does have a bearing on editorial positioning) there is a journalist interrogating the work and there is a dialogue between record, critic and consumer/fan.

A campaign without a strong TV, radio and offline print campaign has no gravitas in the modern world. People still view online as an ‘easy win’.

As the head of an independent label do you see grassroots promotion as important in keeping costs down?

We do as much as we can in-house to avoid going under. I think people quickly make their mind up about whether they like the artist or not – we’re working hard now to push our artists to the forefront rather than the label’s name or our history.

Do you think lower-cost campaigns are going to become more prevalent in the market now?

Not really, the hits still need marketing budgets well in excess of 1 million GBP to get them to flip over into a global market.

I think there will be more indie labels though doing their own thing and much more regional activity.

Is grassroots promotion effective or do the big budget campaigns on TV, Radio and press still play a part in the promotion of artists?

Grassroots support lends authenticity to a campaign, personally I like to know that a band works hard on the road building audience numbers. It makes me feel connected to fans that might have seen the band in Southampton or Glasgow. The sense of community around a band for me is really important – you need to have that community first before you bolt on all the extra marketing stuff.

How do you think the future looks for record companies and the music industry as a whole? Do you think it can survive?

Major record companies as we now know them will shift into a new space, they are copyright holders and content producers. They will task themselves with delivering content directly to your television set and work in league with broadcasters, ISPs and Media Player Manufacturers to ensure that their stars are placed on the first button of your remote control.

Indies will proliferate over the next 3-5 years and this will be the furnace of creativity. These labels will become more niche, bespoke and release smaller and smaller quantities of product by more and more specialised artists.

In the middle ground will be the aggregators, who will consume independently generated product (and some major stars) and digest this for us; they will mostly exist online and offer customers a subscription based service to watch, hear and own their particular brand of genre lead content.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Yes Way

I'm a well-known fan of hyperbole, but if believe me when I say that Upset The Rhythm are the best promoters in London. They push interesting music, release great records and put together consistently fun bills. I don't go to nearly enough of their shows, partly because I'm lazy and partly because THEY ALWAYS RUN LATE and nobody wants to be caught trying to get home from Bardens at midnight on a weeknight if you live somewhere other outside the People's Republic of Hackney. But that's a minor quibble, especially as over the past few years they've exposed my ears to Ponytail, YACHT, Numbers, Gentle Friendly, Parenthetical Girls, High Places... the list goes on.

Now they're running a festival on the weekend of March 28/29 - "hooray", says I, as I steal the following from their website:

"YES WAY is a two day festival celebrating the best and brightest of the UK's art and music underground.

The event is a collaboration between London-based promoter and label, Upset The Rhythm, and Auto-Italia - an artists' project space, currently residing in a former car showroom in Peckham.

Over the course of the weekend, 32 acts will perform from noon until midnight each day. There'll also be an array of artists' work on show (details coming soon), a temporary record store and no end of food and drink from independent, local producers.

It's also super cheap - £8 for the weekend, £5 for a day Check out their website or facebook or Last FM for more details. See you there?

Also, if you're not ATPing the weekend of May 9th, check out their Black Dice show in Tufnell Park - I saw them last October and they were so loud my stomach was vibrating. Nice.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Fighting With Radio Irish Radio Tour

You can check out Fighting With Wire 5 times in the next few days on Irish radio! Happy days! If you can't find the stations on your noise box, then you can find the shows online on the links below.



TIME - 8PM -10PM

TIME - 9:40PM


Any takers on what sort of sweets Cahir will have in his mouth while singing? I believe Fruit Pastilles were the confection of choice for last year's Radio 1 Maida Vale session.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Apres-Adventuring Septic Dip

The 26 track* bonus disc that accompanies Calories' debut album Adventuring for pre-order customers has officially been christened Swimming In The Septic Tank. To get your copy pre-order now and you'll be the recipient of limited edition double disc goodness in a matter of days.

*yes, you did read that right

Public Service Blogcast Episode 23

The best blogcast yet (I've said it before and I'll say it again); seriously, is there a radio station out there playing this many solid tunes in the space of under half an hour? Except when STA themselves are lording over the airwaves of course. All I need now is a cheesy jingle.

Public Service Blogcast Episode 23
28 minutes 6 seconds
Recorded 22/02/09

00.29 Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome (from forthcoming Photoshop Handsome single - Another Music = Another Kitchen Records)
03.45 Death Cigarettes - Total Fear (previously unreleased)
07.28 The Patio Set - Highgate Owl Nightmare (previously unreleased)
12.02 Elephant Vs Leopard - You Are Not (But I Might Be) (from Safariland album - Genin Records)
13.57 Boats!! - Dream Of A Dentist (from Intercontinental Champion album - self-released)
16.04 Shock Defeat! - Brute Economics (from forthcoming Olympic Village EP - self-released)
18.52 Asobi Seksu - Glacially (from Hush album - One Little Indian)
23.18 The Hysterical Injury - Etc (from self-titled EP - self-released)

If you have any feedback or want to get a track played, get in touch - email

Friday, 20 February 2009

Fruit Tap Tees from Calories

Pete Calories unveils the new T-shirt design after the first bunch of shirts have now pretty much all gone (and forever as each one is limited).

"So we've had some more done, new design, new flavour, new me, new you etc etc. This is the test pressing (it's an XL) hence why our model is wearing his shirt underneath it, hopefully next time the agency will send us a more voluptuous male, someone I wouldn't be embarrassed to take out for romantic evening after the shoot".

Fruit Tap Tee is available in YS/S/M/L as of Saturday on the Calories myspace.

And So I Watch You From Afar - Exclusive Premiere of Set Guitars To Kill!

Yes, you read that correctly, The video for Set Guitars to Kill is finally with us! Hats off to the marvelously talented Slaine Browne and the team at URMuzic, who pulled out all of the stops in making such a vibrant and dynamic video. We think that the video perfectly encapsulates the spirit and excitement of the music, and once you've seen it for yourself, we're pretty sure you'll feel the same way!

Tickets Now On Sale for And So I Watch You Album Launch

News worthy is the confirmation that And So I Watch You From Afar will launch their debut album in Belfast's Mandella Hall on April 4th. Tickets are sure to go quickly for this event if 'A Little Solidarity' is anything to go by.

Priced at £9.00 you can purchase now via WeGotTickets. Album will be available at the show 2 weeks ahead of street date.

You have been warned!

Smalltown America: DIY Label Of The Week on Radio 1

I was delighted to be asked by Rory McConnell to come into the studio in Belfast on Tuesday to do an interview about the label and our new releases. The results of said interview can now be heard on the (increasingly amazing) iPlayer.

We always bang on about the BBC particularly when we get good coverage from them - but genuinely, 'In New Music We Trust' is a brand I'm happy to fund through my license fee - it's so productive and creative; not just in the genre of music we deal with.

Thanks to Steven who made me sound human through editing out all the shit bits. Pure Terry Wogan beating out of me.

This package is particularly class as it encases the first national plays for And So I Watch You From Afar and Calories - those Fighting With Wire boys have been hammered to death on R1 in 2008/09. 'Set Guitars To Kill' (Kill Rory Kill!!) sounds so good on the radio - Harvey and Rocky did a brilliant job with engineering and mixing this record. I like it because it's not hugely loud (in volume) but sounds really dynamic.

Anti-loudness is a really big thing for me these days; the This Town Needs Guns record is beautifully cut as is the An Emergency one. Shellac records are the quietest in circulation today but easily the best recorded.


DIY Label of the Week – Smalltown America Records

Fighting With Wire – ‘Sugar’ 

Calories – ‘A Bear A Bison’

And So I Watch You From Afar – ‘Set Guitars to Kill’

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Public Service Blogcast Episode 22

More great submissions plus a specially recorded message from Alan MX announcing this week's release of his debut single Warpsichord - which is limited to only 100 gorgeous hand-finished 3" CD copies - plus the need-to-know on the superb video

Public Service Blogcast Episode 22
32 minutes 2 seconds
Recorded 19/02/09

00.29 run,WALK! - 3, 5, 10 (previously unreleased)
03.25 The Pocket Gods - Jombal Party (from Sandringtonsput EP - self-released)
08.41 Alright The Captain - Monster Surf Manual (previously unreleased)
12.43 Action And Action - Nineteen Twenty-Two (from Nineteen Twenty-Two/Reflective Clothing double A-side 7” single - 1922 Recordings)
15.57 Married To The Sea - Tomorrow I'll Do The Right Thing (from 2007 5 track promo CD – self-released)
18.34 The Siegfried Sassoon featuring Laura-Mary Carter - The Al Gore Rhythm (from forthcoming Muscle Beach/The Al Gore Rhythm double A-side single - self-released)
21.54 The Peppermint Hunting Lodge - On Switch (previously unreleased)
28.30 Swim Team - Forever AM (previously unreleased)

If you have any feedback or want to get a track played, get in touch - email

The Young Playthings Kick 'Em Out

We're pretty sure that you will remember the City Of Song festival which took place last September here in Derry on the same weekend as This Ain't No Picnic ran in London. You'll also remember that our very own Young Playthings played the festival as part of their whistle stop tour of Ireland. While the guys were over here, they filmed a session for NVTV's Kick Out The Jams program. NVTV is a Belfast-based community television service which does a great deal of work in promoting up and coming musical talent. You can check out the entire session below.

For more information on NVTV and Kick Out the Jams, point your rodent at the links below.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Public Service Blogcast Episode 21

In-between soundchecking for the London Barfly finale of the tour to promote their new single Sugar (out 2nd March) and taping a segment for Aaron's STA documentary, Fighting With Wire shared their thoughts on beards, when icons sell out and Seafood The Movie.

Public Service Blogcast Episode 21
28 minutes 28 seconds
Recorded 09/02/09

01.53 Fighting With Wire - Everyone Needs A Nemesis (from Man Vs Monster album - Smalltown America)
06.35 LaFaro - Leningrad (from EP2 - self released)
12.03 And So I Watch You From Afar - Set Guitars To Kill (from forthcoming A Little Solidarity Goes A Long Way / Set Guitars To Kill double A side single - Smalltown America)
24.48 Fighting With Wire - Last Love Song (from Everyone Needs A Nemesis single - Smalltown America)

If you have any ideas for future blogcast takeovers or want to get a track played on one of regular shows, get in touch - email

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Jim Gellatly's New Music - Northern Ireland Special

Following on from Unconvention a couple of weeks ago, BBC Radio Scotland's Jim Gellatly, who was present as a panellist on the Saturday, has recorded a live special from Unconvention for his weekly podcast. Focusing on Belfast and the Northern Irish music scene, the podcast features our very own Fighting With Wire and And So I Watch You From Afar. Jim's podcasts are essential listening, and also puts a rocket under me to complete our very own N.I-focused podcast, which I've been promising to Pocock since November of last year.

You can check it out by clicking here or if you prefer you can download directly to your iTunes by clicking here

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Public Service Blogcast Episode 20

The evening after their incredible set at the Lexington, we caught up with the Thermals as they prepared to play again in London, this time with the Cribs. Kathy, Hutch and (new drummer) Westin were kind enough to pick some of their favourite tracks as well as offering up some for-a-limited-time-only listens to demo versions of two tracks from their forthcoming album Now We Can See out on Kill Rock Stars on April 6th. More demos are also available on a limited 7” white vinyl single which leads with the highly infectious title track plus this record comes with a voucher entitling you to a free digitial download of the full album come April. A great idea which we will probably nick!

Apologies for the ropey sound quality of the speech parts which sound like they were recorded from the future – to cut a long story short, I need a new mike!

Public Service Blogcast Episode 20
29 minutes 06 seconds
Recorded 10/02/09

00.36 The Thermals - I Let It Go (demo version from forthcoming Now We Can See album - Kill Rock Stars)
04.33 Holly Golightly & Billy Childish - Upside Mine (from In Blood album - Wabana Records)
08.28 Julie Doiron - I Woke Myself Up (from Woke Myself Up album - Jagjaguwar Records)
11.53 These Arms Are Snakes - Lucifer (from Tail Swallower & Dove album - Suicide Squeeze)
14.51 The Velvet Teen - Building A Whale (from Cum Laude album - Slowdance Records)
18.47 Thao with The Get Down Stay Down - Bag Of Hammers (from We Brave Bee Stings and All album - Kill Rock Stars)
21.50 Arthur And Yu - Afterglow (from In Camera album - Hardly Art)
25.57 The Thermals - When I Was Afraid (demo version from forthcoming Now We Can See album - Kill Rock Stars)

If you have any ideas for future blogcast takeovers or want to get a track played on one of regular shows, get in touch - email

Friday, 13 February 2009

In Pictures - Set Guitars To Kill - Video Stills

By way of preview of what I think will be performance video of the year, here are some stills from the forthcoming And So I Watch You From Afar Video for 'Set Guitars To Kill':

Thanks to director Slaine Browne for sending these our way:

Blood Red News

Drowned In Sound today report the exciting news that Brighton-based duo Blood Red Shoes (who graced the main stage and poised some fun scheduling challenges - after Laura-Mary got stuck on the tube on the way to the venue - at our 3rd and my personal favourite charity all-dayer) have announced a short tour in March to experiment with material under consideration for their second album. The dates are...
March 10 - Southend Chinnerys
March 11 - Northampton Roadmenders
March 12 - Gloucester Guildhall

Well worth checking out for previews of LP2 which is sure to be as abundant with pop gems as the first album.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Fighting With Wire On Balcony TV - Dublin

I like this clip for many reasons - here are just three.

1. Craig's Hat
2. Cahir's incredibly wide mouth (what's that about)
3. The fact that the presenter makes Cahir completely squirm to the point where he can't even plug his own tour.


Attention All Dissertation Writers...

Seeing Andrew Griswold's face reminded me of the great interview he did with Jamie B. JPL regarding touring. It seems to be dissertation season at the moment at Uni (you poor buggers) - so in the spirit of bequeathing information; I'll try to tag any Q&As I complete over the next few weeks with 'Handy For Dissertations' - check back.

We like contributing to your projects at college and Uni, the easiest way for us to do it is in electronic Q&A form. Please check the press archive on the official site to find out more about the label and consult the FAQ when compiling your Qs as they may have been asked before. [By the way I didn't deliberately cut Cahir out of the photograph - Blogger did it, click on the image for the big guns.]

1. Cuckoo were signed to Geffen. Did this inspire you to take a more DIY approach with JPL?
The first Jetplane record was recorded on our own in my parents' garage. Andrew and I had been writing songs together and we wanted to record them. There was no way we could have afforded to get into any proper studio at the time. Also, I think that we felt that no record company would be at all interested in the two of us playing the kind of music that we were trying to make, looking the way that we did. We were pretty realistic about it. Maybe some of the Geffen stuff had wised us up to the real facts of how big record labels work. But I don't remember us ever having the conversation were we said let's do everything DIY.

Events just trickled forwards very slowly over the course of nearly two years from the point of being in my parents' garage to where Smalltown America started.

2. You've played most of the major festivals, had BBC and MTV airplay, been featured in Kerrang! etc. Did you always and do you still consider JPL to be a DIY band?

Jetplane Landing are a DIY band but not from an idealist stand point, more from a very practical position. That is to say: I don't think that we are DIY in the same vein as a band like Fugazi. A band like that chooses to work outside of the industry on a political and personal basis. Once you start appearing at festivals sponsored by huge beer companies, and on MTV, I don't think you are really working from the same stand point. You are now inside the corporate world anyway… only you're mainly there on your own. None of the big labels want you there because you are taking up space that one of their so called "signed" bands could have. Major labels still really run and feed the industry at a certain level; they still control most of the printed press for instance. Taking Jetplane into that world, sometimes, felt like we were completely out of our depth.

3. Do you feel there are any limits on what a DIY band can achieve without compromising its integrity?

As I said before, if you have a very clear personal agenda and you stick to it honestly then I don't think you will feel any loss of integrity at all. I guess the same goes if your only goal is to make loads of money and show off to the people you went to school with that you are now on the cover of the NME: if that happens, and that was what you wanted, how have you compromised any integrity? Ask Johnny Borrell, I bet he sleeps like a baby at night.

The biggest piece of advice I could give to any band starting out on the whole DIY route is that if you really want to make it work you will have to feed some of the money you make into the individual band memebers pockets, from the beginning. Even if the profits are small. For a band to function and stick together everyone has to be happy. And it's unrealistic to believe that your band are going to give up all of the time that is needed for touring etc, while not working, and to never make any money out of it. It puts too much strain on people and eventually they will drift away. So keep it small and share it out.
4. You completed a 60-date tour of the UK in 2003. How did that affect you mentally, physically and as a band unit? Any particularly memorable experiences, good or bad?

We were a shithot band but complete zombies by the time it was over. Our minds had turned into the inside of a Travelodge room... our eyes were two fried eggs from a motorway café... our hands were constantly frozen into the grip of a beer bottle - if we were drinking one or not. Every night, for weeks after the tour had finished, around stage time, say 10:30 p.m., our hearts would automatically start racing a little and we would start performing on our own in our front rooms.

5. Do you feel DIY touring is more or less feasible in 2008 than at previous times?

I booked our first tour. It wasn't too hard to do. I used the phone and sent out CDs.

But it worked in more or less the same way really as I imagine it would today: I approached it like a job; I just pestered the hell out of promoters and said we would take any slot, at any money, the first time around. I managed to string together ten or so shows. There you go: you're on tour.

6. Has the internet made it easier for bands to 'book their own lives'? Are there any downsides to this?

I can't see a downside at all. Bands aren't getting any worse because of it. More people are getting their stuff heard. It all seems like a much healthier way for people to find out about new music.

7. What do you remember of the dark days of band life before the internet?

Before the internet the big labels totally dominated. That was nuts because they could, or would, only sign very few new acts. It was like there was a door that swung open and when the room was full they said: "Thanks very much, that's all the good music we need right now." They were acting like there was a finite amount of talent and once they had bought their share of that then those left on the outside must not be deserving of their attention. It's great really how their elitist, close-minded approached has led to them heading to, what seems like, becoming defunct. I mean if you sign for a major these days you'd have to be kidding yourself that it was a good long-term move.

8. Do you feel the DIY 'revolution' has had a negative impact on quality control - i.e. too many bands, too many CDs?

Can you have too many bands? Too many CDs? You can press too many CD's and end up with them stored in a cupboard under the stairs, but I don't think you can have a limit on the number of bands. Everyone should be in one… even The Ting Tings.

9. In JPL's case, is the DIY approach purely out of necessity or a desire to maintain independence - or a combination of the two?

I feel like I am answering these questions with more or less the same answer every time. Sorry for my lack of imagination but when you do something like this people might just scan to one of your answers and judge everything you are saying by that answers… So, Jetplane's approach was more of a necessity. We have never been offered any money. We worked on our own because we wanted to make records and that seemed like the only way we could make them.

10. As JPL became busier and more successful in the early '00s did you find yourselves letting other people take over more responsibilities?
Yes. We eventually took on an agent for live bookings and our booking's became better and better. We paid people to plug our singles and videos and then people played our singles and videos more and more. We had help from a press agent and as a result all of our albums have been given reviews in the national press. The only real DIY element was that we controlled and worked with all of these people directly ourselves.

11. Are there any forerunners or current exponents of the DIY approach who you particularly admire?

Just before we made our second album I read a book about film maker John Cassavetes called, Cassavetes on Cassavetes. It is the clearest and truest explanation of why you can get more satisfaction from working on things yourself – even if they aren't so big-time because of it. I personally believe that DIY is the only real approach that anyone can honestly take right now to making music, films, books, anything artistic. But that is probably why I have never made any money.

12. What's next for JPL? Has FWW's success had a negative or positive impact on the band's functionality?

We hope to record another album. The FWW thing has had a slight negative on Jetplane. Cahir is very, very busy right now. You can't go on tour with two bands at the sametime. But to be honest, Jetplane are very much up in the air all ways round. Still, we haven't split up.

Griswold Gives Back

Good Friend of Smalltown America and Dangerfields stalwart, Andrew Griswold, has just sent us word on his next project. When Andrew isn't rocking it out behind the drum kit, He's a journalist for The Belfast Newsletter and an active supporter of various charities. We at Smalltown HQ urge you to dig deep to help Andrew out on something that is not only very brave and ambitious but also for a suitably deserving cause. We'll let Andrew take it from here...

On March 22, 2009, I will be flying from Belfast to Alta in the far north of Norway to raise money for Mencap by husky sledding across 200 kilometres of Arctic wilderness.

Call me crazy, but I believe life is too short not to be! I'm halfway through my fundraising. I need to raise a total of £4,500 for Mencap. I'm paying for my own airport taxes and insurance, and of course the gym hours it has taken to whip me into some sort of shape. But I still need to raise around £2,000.This, hopefully, is where you come in! I am appealing to you, as a friend, colleague, bandmate or someone whose event I have covered, to pledge any amount of money you can afford. From one quid to 100 – it all helps. Here are the ways to pay:

• Cheque or postal order Payable to Mencap Promotions Ltd

Please email me at a[dot]johnston1973[at]gmail[dot]com for my postal address

• Cash Phone me on 077 3823 9653 to arrange a meet-up

• PayPal Send to a[dot]johnston1973[at]gmail[dot]com

• Bank transfer Please email me for my bank account details

Every penny is forwarded directly to Mencap. However, you should be aware that a minor percentage of the money raised is taken by them to cover the costs of the trip. But the majority goes to funding Mencap's essential campaigns.

Mencap, established in 1946, is the UK's leading learning disability charity, working with people with a learning disability and their families and caregivers. Mencap fights for equal rights, campaigns for greater opportunities and challenges attitudes and prejudice. More information on Mencap can be found here.

The Husky Sled Challenge takes in the forests of Souluvombi, the mountainous terrain of Mollisjock and the frozen Jiesavri Lake, as well as stop-offs at a 'Viking sauna' in Maze and the Gargia Ice Hotel, all the while feeding and caring for our own team of dogs. A full itinerary of the trip can be found here.

The event is billed as physically demanding, and for those with a thirst for adventure. Now that the Dangerfields are on hiatus I definitely fit the bill!

One of last year's participants, Clare O'Shea, has described the experience as "the closest [she] will ever come to walking on the moon". Clare spoke of "snow as far as the eye can see, rolling over humps and hollows with not a tree in sight".

Even Richard Hammond has tried husky sledding – not for charity, but for the Top Gear Polar Special, in which he raced a team of dogs to the North Pole against Jeremy Clarkson and James May in a Toyota Hilux. The Hamster lost, but he had a lot of fun and the dogs did exceptionally well.

For me, this is a true challenge. I hope to push the boundaries of what I am capable of, and perhaps gain some insight into the daily trials faced by people with disabilities.
I'll be writing about the experience upon my return, for the Belfast News Letter and on my MySpace and Facebook blogs. Everyone who pledges money will receive a namecheck and my thanks in print.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

Kind regards,

Pipettes Announce New Member

Old school STAers who remember The Pipettes' memorable before-they-were-famous headline set at our 2nd charity all-dayer in 2005 may be interested to know that they've announced the arrival of new member Beth on thier impressively-animated website.

Discussions are afoot to subject the new Pipettes line-up to blogcast takeover treatment in the next few weeks.

Oh and 'On The Stereo', where'd they get that idea from?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Occasionally things happen that bring a little tear to my post-emo eye; sincerely though - it's touching when someone thinks enough of your stuff to ink it on their body. 'Small Differences Combine And Propel' is from Jetplane's Brave Gravity fact checkers.

I heard that someone in Belfast got 'FWW' tattooed on their knuckles in the Foo Fighters font; your writer has no public opinion on that matter.

I can't take credit for this particular couplet - I think this is a Mr. Burchellism. I remember when I first saw the video for Brave Gravity that Raife and Gary made - it was class, I couldn't believe all those people put all that effort into it.

I've never had a tattoo - if I did it would be of my own face printed on my chest. Maybe. Good Night.

Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever are super totally my favourite band right now and I can't stop listening to their debut album because listening to them makes me want to write super enthuastic things about them and LOTS OF OTHER THINGS in an annoyingly chirpy way and also not use pub(*) proper punctuation when doing such chirpy writing.

(*comedy slip in my first draft there, looking forward to the weekend much am I?)

I'm going to get them signed to STA one way or another, even if it means brutally killing everyone else at the label who doesn't like them. Which may be everyone.

Look, it's been a long day, ok?

OF COURSE THEY HAVE A MYSPACE AS WELL. Don't worry, I'ma go listen to the Butthole Surfers or something similarly noisy now. Really.

Calories Bonus Disc Madness

The tracklisting has been confirmed for the bonus disc that comes free when you pre-order Calories' debut album Adventuring through the STA online store (and nowhere else) and frankly it's mental - 26 slices of demos, alternate versions and new songs. Deep breathe...

1. Zoological Frontrunners^
2. Artefact*
3. Sell The Sun*
4. Eat Rabbit*
5. Human Handkerchiefs#
6. Shrill^
7. A Little Atlantisy#
8. The Slow Heat Of Summer#
9. Solace#
10. What Do I Get?#
11. A Bear A Bison#
12. Caught In The In-between#
13. To Encounter A Deer#
14. Drugged#
15. Worlds Worst Vulture#
16. Fragile Numbers#
17. Same Ideals#
18. See You On The Expedition#
19. Shirley Heath Is A Happy Place#
20. Child Boy/ Flanked By Rabbits#
21. The Love Will Find Us#
22. Face To Water#
23. Blustery Districts#
24. Late Eruptions#
25. C.E.O#
26. Computer Snake#

^ Recorded by Tom Livemore: Redbox studios.* Recorded by Andy McKim Peer Studios: Featuring Steven Ingram on Synthesizer.# 4-track / 8-track Recordings.

This baby will be very limited. You know what to do.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Customer Services

Recent customer email to the MD: "I would like to MOAN that you do not release albums on vinyl. I would love to buy the Fighting With Wire album however you seem to only be doing it on CD - just like the Seafood album a while back. Whilst I am familiar with the concept of a 'CD Player' I much prefer vinyl, and hope you'll consider future releases in that fine format. Let's face it, you can charge double the price of the CD (ok, maybe 150%) and people who want vinyl will pay it."

I hadn't realised we had released the Seafood album - I thought that was Infectious.

Anyways - if you agree please do drop me a line. I'm off to bed now to finish me book.

Night Night.

I Want One Of These

At STA we've always been very lucky to work with designers who donate incredible numbers of hours and even more creativity to the artists' cause - Tim F. is no exception to the rule and has come up with one of the most striking campaigns yet for the new And So I Watch You From Afar record.

Here is the tour poster for April's Barfly run and I want one already. I'm currently investigating where we can get these printed nicely for a reasonable amount of money, so we can sell them reasonably on the site (posters are a bit of a pain for you guys because the P&P is so high).

Speaking of ASIWYFA (or as-ee-why-fah as they now seem to be known) the UK tour kicks off tonight with LaFaro supporting.

a sneaky wee treat...

Hello there. I feel like a house guest here, so best behaviour and all that... Yesterday i went along to Barfly in Camden to catch up with Fighting With Wire as they near the end of their last UK tour for the forseeable. I had a laugh hanging out with them around their soundcheck and managed to get them in front of camera for a wee chat about the band, Smalltown America and the state of music today. Some of what they said was actually suitable for sharing with the civilised world and will be a valuable contribution to the documentary about sta that I've been working on for nearly a year now. as a snealy wee treat, here's some footage of the mavericks during soundcheck. just one verse - wouldn't want you getting spoiled now, would we?!


Monday, 9 February 2009

Brought to you by the word 'Collectivism' and the number '150'

So I've finally recovered from the two days that made up Unconvention Belfast. It was a very productive and enjoyable couple of days, and something that I would recommend you attending if you ever get the chance, or indeed setting up for yourself in your own town/city/region to promote collectivism and to showcase your scene. I know that the lovely people behind the Belfast UnCon would be happy to help you get started. 

On the Friday, I was part of a panel discussion along with Kev Douche from Big Scary Monsters, Mick Roe from The Richter Collective, Matt Minford from We Collect Records and Michael Fuller from AIM. The topic up for discussion was 'Record Label: Revival or Relic?' The ideas and banter were flowing and everyone had interesting, valid and constructive points to make. It would be terribly naive to suggest life is peachy and that we can all rest on our laurels, which made the panel a good place to share our collective vision of how we see ourselves operating and adapting in the future.

It was a positive and exciting discussion. 360 models were discussed. Greater levels of cooperation and proactivity from artists was presented as an essential component for the modern independent record label succeeding. New and innovative schemes such as co-operative online stores, in-house press, marketing and artist development were suggested and discussed with enthusiasm.  

Some pundits interpreted the whole thing as a band of desperadoes trying to convince not only themselves but the audience that they were still relevant, which I thought to be an unfair opinion when you consider the fact that everyone was realistic about physical sales v illegal downloads, while offering up new and innovative ways of helping your artists develop while continuing the growth of your own brand. 

Friday's participation was rounded off by a speed networking session between various companies and individuals that work on the infrastructural side of the scene. It was great to make the contacts, however five minutes for both parties to put their ideas across just isn't long enough - further contact to be via email this week.

Friday evening was a bit crazy. It all started off relatively civilised with tapas and relaxed networking, but began to spiral out of control quite quickly after the food was consumed. Kev is a maverick who loves whiskey, although I'm a maverick who loves beer and neither of us took much encouragement to buy the other their weapon of choice - we're quite the combination. The Black Box, Duke of York and finally the Premier Inn hotel bar all got hit pretty hard on Friday night/Saturday morning. 

The speed networking session on Saturday morning was interesting to say the least. Not only due to the epic hangover from which I was suffering, but also due to the sheer amount of talent that Northern Ireland is currently producing. I look forward to going through the demos this week. If I spoke with you, I hope what I had to say was of some use to you.

I was also involved in the last panel of the day on Saturday, discussing the subject of 'What's working?' within the scene. I was pretty blunt in my assessment of the task facing artists if they want to be as successful as they possibly can within our little indie world. At least 150 shows over the span of a year to push your record is essential. Pro-activity and clear lines of communication are a must. I raised the point that we signed  And So I Watch You From Afar not only on the strength of their material, but because of their unwavering work ethic and their proactive approach to how they are perceived and marketed. This caused a bit of a debate, but in my experience I'm yet to see anything contrary to this method working. I now fully expect to be proven wrong before the end of the year and for the number 150 to follow me around like my own personal rain cloud.

Next up is Unconvention Manchester - if it's anything like the Belfast leg, it will be essential attendance for any artist or music industry professional. 

no culture icons

Thermals (+ Calories + 4 or 5 Magicians!) at the Lexington (96-98 Pentonville Road, N1) tonight. I'm VERY VERY EXCITED. VERY VERY VERY VERY EXCITED.

If you're coming down and don't have a ticket, we'll have about twenty for sale, which will be first come, first served. Doors are at 8pm, I advise you to get down before this.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

How To Make Alan MX CDs, With Photos: Part One

Prepare the needed supplies.

Print the sleeves, using your friendly neighbourhood HP Photosmart C5280 inkjet printer.

Engage your Ryman A4 Creative Craft Paper Trimmer, and cut the sleeves down to the required size.

Fold the sleeves. I found using a Metal Ruler made this job far easier and the folds far neater.

Attach double sided sticky tape to the flaps, remove the top layer and sticky them down to the main part of the sleeve.



This is actually far, far harder than looks. I also have no idea why my thumb appears to be diseased in the last photo. DIY 4 LIFE!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Calories Tour Dates With Dananananaykroyd Announced

Our Birminghamshire trio take to the road at the end of March to promote debut album 'Adventuring'. Here be the dates, all shows are with Dananananaykroyd (thank fuck I have that as a hot key now) apart from Tuesday 31st March which is a one-off RockSound gig.

If you can't wait that long - Calories support The Thermals on Monday, 9th February at The Lexington in Kilburn:

Thur 26 Mar Hull - Adelphi
Fri 27 Mar Coventry - Tin House
Sat 28 Mar Oxford - The Bullingdon
Sun 29 Mar Cardiff - Ifor Bach
Mon 30 Mar Brighton - Engine Rooms
Tue 31 Mar London - Dublin Castle (Rocksound Show)
Wed 1 Apr Sheffield - Harley

Isn't that a lovely picture - aren't all the bands on STA desperately handsome?>

Smalltown America Presents @ Ulster Hall - March 9th, 2009

As part of the re-opening of the Ulster Hall, Smalltown America in collaboration with Belfast Waterfront & Ulster Halls Anti Series of Events proudly present:

March 9th, 11PM - Late: Ulster Hall Bar - Andy Henry (Clone Quartet), Not Squares, Halves (HL), STA DJs

Andy Henry, Clone Quartet

Since Clone Quartet's Andy Henry relocated to London, the full live band have played only a handful of shows culminating in a Radio 1 live session in January of last year. Determined to keep Clone Quartet's sound moving forward while live outings are on ice, Andy has moved into darker electropop territories. Building and developing the original sounds of CQ's debut LP 'Well-Oiled Machine' (released on Smalltown America /Tigertrap Records), Andy will perform his new electronic material live and solo.

Not Squares

Not Squares are four people from Belfast who combine language, sound and non-habitual movement in order to dance, shout and sing with you. Not Squares is nothing without you!

"In all, an inspiring set that displays creativity and ability rarely found on these shores, and even at this early stage shows promise of a truly exciting record." - AU Magazine


One of Ireland's most intriguing acts, Halves blend a vast range of instruments, acoustic and electronic, creating an evocative, cinematic live experience. To date they have released two highly acclaimed EPs, performed at Oxegen, Electric Picnic & the Eurosonic (Holland) and London Calling (UK) festivals.

2009 will see the band heading to Canadian Music Week, releasing their new single 'Blood Branches' and completing their debut album, due for release in early 2010.

"...cosmic beauty that few others can reach" Hot Press

"…an example of the rise in quality of Irish electronic, unafraid to be intense, engaging and dark." - Sunday Tribune

Tickets and further information available from the Ulster Hall Official Website

Count The Calories

Not one, not two, but three doses of Calories in this month's Rock Sound magazine - a live review, a feature (see below) and best of all Forrests Of Varg the closing track to the upcoming debut album can be found on the ace covermount CD.

From Distophia to Antlers to Calories, this trio are finally releasing an album, hurrah!

"For me, I guess my ambitions are the same as they've always been: to release records and hope that people are into what we do," says Calories guitarist / vocalist John Briggs. "Ultimately, fame and fortune is the real reason I'm in this business. I'd like a mountain retreat in the Swiss Alps." Given the uncertain nature of the music industry and the economic shit storm in which we are currently embroiled, fame and fortune will probably be giving most bands a miss for some time - but you wouldn't begrudge these Birmingham indie-rockers enjoying such success. Formed from the ashes of under-appreciated but often-aped quartet Distophia, they've endured some rotten luck. After five years together, the boys decided to ditch their former band in late 07, having toured the frustratingly unreleased album 'Beat Dyslexia' for about two years too many, but what doesn't kill ya...

"I think we learned a lot from our time in Distophia, we made almost every mistake possible and had almost every misfortune befall us, but we had a lot of fun at the same time," says bassist / vocalist Pete Dixon. "I think I've learnt that if you behave like you're the underdog, then that's what you'll be. Life's too short." After a brief time playing under a new name (Antlers) and with a new bassist, the boys called the whole thing off. Fortunately, thier passion for playing music meant it wasn't long before they'd regrouped as a trio, to write and record ace debut album 'Adventuring', which features 10 genius songs played out in 20 minutes. Check it out - even in these hard times, you can't afford not to.

Souns like: inventive but frequently poppy indie-rock, veering between sub-two-minutes bursts and longer, equally ace songs

Patrick Wolf had better watch out

Alan MX features in Gay Times' five bands who are changing the face and sound of queer music in the UK - here's the feature from the Feb issue.

Patrick Wolf had better watch out; experimental melodic Electro Pop star coming through. Say hello to Alan MX. Here’s his take on this crazy-queers-in-music lark: “People still make such a huge deal when someone in the public eye comes out, and it’s strange, really. It's worrying to a certain extent that people can still raise eyebrows, like Katy Perry has. I think sexuality is still a weapon in this industry as much as it ever was.” Girl, don’t even get us started on KP.

It would be an insult to compare Alan’s take on sexual experimentation against Perry’s ham-fisted attempt, so we’ll let him explain. “If I want to write a song about falling in love with a boy then I want to be able to do it as cleanly and cliché-free as possible. One of the songs on my album is about a gay boy who falls for a girl and then feels he can't do anything about it because he has established himself as gay.” His lyrics meander around the subtler nuances of relationships, through everyday narratives about things such as Captain America Videos. There’s something of Thom Yorke about our Alan’s music, though it’s more like playful, fun versions of songs from Kid A.

“When I think about it, most music is an expression of love. Or songs, anyway. The most common subject of a song is love or lust. If someone was to renounce or ignore their sexuality as a musician, I think it limits their accessibility.” With that kind of openness and some tunes to match, it won’t be long before you’re into Alan. Oh… did we mention he’s quite cute?

Alan MX’s single Warpsichord comes out on Feb 16th on Smalltown America Records, and is limited to just 1000 handmade copies. Check out

Thursday, 5 February 2009

A Little Pre-Order Goes A Long Way

And So I Watch You From Afar's double A-side single "SET GUITARS TO KILL / A LITTLE SOLIDARITY GOES A LONG WAY" is being released through Smalltown America on 16th March, but you can preorder a copy now and get it on 2nd March - two whole weeks early! Bag yourself a copy before it hits the shops.

It'll be available through the band's Myspace, online through Smalltown America and all good online stores and at ASIWYFA shows (if there's any left!).

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Go To Hull

Here's what ladyshoe lovin' Fighting With Wire got up into Hull in thier latest tour diary posting.

For all the diaries in one handy place head to FightingWithWireTV

LIfe is...Going Online

With the release of Alan MX's debut single 'Warpsichord' just under two weeks away, we're very proud to present the video for the track. Designed, directed and produced by the very talented Emma Fitzgerald, we're buzzing off it and we're pretty sure you will be too.

On the subject of Alan's single, please note that the physical run is limited to 100 copies and the pre-orders are at an unprecedented level. Get in quick to make sure you nab one before they are all gone!

'Warpsichord' is available as a handmade 3" Cd and will also be available as a digital download. You can secure your copy by visiting the store here

And now for the video...drum roll please, maestro!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

And Snow I Watch You From Afar (PART II)

So the guys in post-punk hardcore heroes And So I Watch You From Afar are pretty darn busy in the lead-up to the release of their forthcoming single and album, as you can read two posts down from this one.

Well, to prove that the hard work is paying off for our friends from the north coast, people are beginning to sit up and notice. John Kennedy over at XFM, is once such enlightened fellow.

'Set Guitars To Kill' one of the tracks that makes up the double a-side of the forthcoming single, was John Kennedy's X-Posure Hot One on Thursday last week on his XFM X-Posure show. The 'Hot One' is essentially John's record of the day. John Kennedy's X-Posure show goes out Mon - Thurs 22:00 - 02:00 on XFM London and Manchester. No doubt being the bastions of good taste that you all so clearly are, we know we don't have to suggest you get in touch with the man to make sure he keeps playing it.

In case you missed the tidy link in the first paragraph, you can preorder the forthcoming 'ASIWYFA' Double-A sided single 'Set Guitars To Kill / A Little Solidarity Goes A Long Way' by clicking here

Monday, 2 February 2009

Fighting With Wire Tour Diary

Fighting With Wire are once again taking on the UK one city at a time and will be documenting thier audio-visual misadventures. Here's the first installment.


Hey everyone!

That moment you have all be waiting for... or dreading has arrived, FWW have a camera and know how to use it!

We will be putting a tour diary up on the blog as often as possible so you can all keep up to date and enjoy the company of 3 pale Irishmen!

So, whether you want to keep up to date, get to know FWW a little better, or are a voyeur who is just hoping for a sneaky glimpse of a nipple here and there, this is definitely for you!

Welcome to PART 1 featuring Jamie looking massively confused by the camera...links to further episodes appear at the end