Paul Pascoe has been a stalwart of the Brighton music scene since the 90s, featuring in a number of bands including Mudlow, Fire Eyes and Palm Springs, as well as working at Church Road Studios, recording, mixing and producing many artists who have come through their doors since it was set up back in 1996. Another band of his, Beat Hotel, has been recently resurrected again after a lengthy hiatus, and which also features Arash Torabi (The June Brides, The Granite Shore), Stephen Brett (Mojo Fins) and drummer Dave Morgan (The Loft, The Rockingbirds). They have a mini-album ready for release at the end of January, and a launch gig at The Hope & Ruin. Paul chatted to Brightonsfinests’ Jeff Hemmings about the studio, Beat Hotel, songwriting and music in general.
One of the most welcome comebacks of recent times has to be the return of London four-piece Bombay Bicycle Club. During a whirlwind opening phase of their musical lives they released four albums, the last one, So Long, See You Tomorrow, reaching number one in the album charts, in 2014. But soon after the wheels started to come off, and by January 2016 they had made the decision to call a halt. “Well, I think you have to look at why we stopped doing it,” says Ed, backstage at Concorde 2, before their ‘outstore’ show in celebration of their new album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong. “At the end of 2014 everyone was tired out and we really didn’t want to do it, and everyone wanted to do different things, and do the things that they had always wanted to do. Like, Jamie went to university, and me and Jack made our own albums. And I think in doing that, during those three or four year years we realised that what we had was incredibly special and perhaps we had taken it for granted before.”
It’s been a bizarre year. While Parliament, social media and the country-at-large have been tussling with Brexit and elections, the musical landscape has somewhat reflected that turmoil via a fragmented po-pourri of emotions, feelings and heightened surreality.
Formed in 2014, the London all female four-piece hit the big time when their stunning debut album Love in the 4th Dimension was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, a recognition that here was a good old fashioned indie rock and pop band who had the tunes to back up their enticing female gang imagery. Since then they have indulged in their various solo projects, played backing band to Marika Hackman on her I’m Not Your Man album, toured with The Pixies, and are about to release their second album, Walking Like We Do, followed by a tour with Bombay Bicycle Club and their own UK headline jaunt.
One of the few bands to outlast the indie guitar band explosion of the mid-2000s, Field Music’s un-selfconscious, anti-fashion stance has seen them compared to the likes of Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, Scritti Politti, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and XTC. They may not have achieved much in the way of commercial success, but for the last 15 years they have been pouring their hearts and souls into Field Music, as well as a number of side projects including Peter’s You Tell Me band – also featuring Admiral Fallow’s Sarah Hayes – and David’s School of Language project, whose third album, 45, was released last summer, a satirical take on the 45th Presidency, Donald Trump.
Cacophonous feedback informed the beginning, the guitarist and singer Theo Polyzoides bent over forwards next to his amp, before the band struck out on a stridently noisy punk rock beat, Theo hopping on to his amp, back facing the cameras, before jumping off and reaching the mic in time to yelp the words to ‘Speakerface’. This was my introduction to King Nun, filmed in lo-fi, recorded live, but released as an accompanying video. It was electrifying. I loved it from the first seconds.
For two decades the Brighton based record label Tru Thoughts has been a prolific force amidst electronic music, jazz and hip hop, with artists such as Bonobo, Rodney P, Ty, Quantic, and Alice Russell gracing their books. Still headed by founder Rob-Luis, they continue to find, and nurture new talent. Tiawa Blackhorse has just signed to the label, and is one of many acts performing at Tru Thoughts 20th birthday celebrations, along with Hidden Orchestra, Anchorsong, Wrongtom, J-Felix, and many more. Tiawa took some time out from touring to have a chat with Jeff Hemmings, about Brighton, music and her musical partner Jack-Chi (Jack Kingslake).
This legendary member of Genesis during their classic 70s heyday, and guitarist extraordinaire, is still making and playing music, even as he approaches 70. He joined Genesis in1971, and played on six of their studio albums, including Selling England by The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Hackett released his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, while still a member of Genesis in 1975. After a series of further solo albums beginning in 1978, Hackett co-founded the supergroup GTR with Yes’ Steve Howe in 1986, releasing one album. Hackett then resumed his solo career. He has released albums and toured worldwide on a regular basis since, his body of work encompassing many styles: progressive rock, pop, blues, world music and classical music. According to Guitar World: “Hackett’s early explorations of two-handed tapping and sweep picking were far ahead of their time and influenced Eddie Van Halen and Brian May.”
Who said guitar music is dying? Haven’t we heard this before? Yes, a million times and counting. When synth pop and the new romanticism hit the airwaves back in the early 80s, when dance music took the UK by storm at the turn of the 90s, when Britpop fizzled out in the late 90s and when the mid-noughties four-string revival hit the veritable brick wall. We’ve heard it time and time again. There are no new pastures, no exciting bands, the well is almost dry, and we’re all going to have to deal with the purgatory of computer driven music, soulless auto-tuned r’n’b and probably much worse. And yet, like the Phoenix from the flames, it refuses to die, instead re-inventing itself into new and exciting forms.
The Isle of Wight, it’s in a bit of a time warp, is it not? I ask Douglas Richards, who along with his older brother Jamie, and Chris Newnham, founded Plastic Mermaids earlier on this decade, with bassist Tom Farren, and drummer Chris Jones eventually completing the line up. “Yeah, definitely a little bit. There’s definitely some warped sides to it. There’s a lot of chavs, and then there’s a lot old people, and a lot of Brexit voters. And generally, anyone I went to school with who had half a brain, left the Isle of Wight,” he laughs. “Some people decide to come back, when they have kids and stuff. But, there’s also quite a creative community. I think there’s quite a few hippies from the 70s festival who ended up just staying in Ventnor (on the South Coast of the island) and breeding. There is a lot of really good music here, but not masses of people to go to gigs. It’s a slightly strange dynamic.”