Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bell Pepper Hop...An Interview with The Bell Peppers & Show # 419


When you hear the word Manchester, Surf music isn’t usually the first thing that you think of, however The Bell Peppers who come from Manchester having been quickly picking up interest via their retro reverb drenched Surf and Rock and Roll sound. Starting out in mid 2011, The Bell Peppers are “a couple of Left handed guys from Manchester who dig Left Handed Guitars, Analogue Recording Equipment and Music from the 1950's and 60's” as stated on their website. Having released two EP’s in 2011 their debut Cooking With Bell Peppers and their three song EP “B Each” which contained Surf versions of Nirvana songs, interest in the band has been well received through their online fan base and locally. Currently all of their music has been made available for free download. Being a two piece band, Dominic Oliver and Miyk Topping would record live drum loops and play guitar over them on stage, more recently they’ve been playing with a variety of drummers evolving to a three piece band.

In August of 2012, The Bell Peppers released their third EP Saved By The Bell Peppers via their bandcamp page online. This four song EP builds on their previous Cooking With Bell Peppers EP adding more range and diversity to their already established sound. The EP starts off with the ramshackle reverb drenched Garage sounds of “Drapes N’ Squares”, the song even features distorted vocals, “Hoofstomp” follows with it’s Duane Eddy and Country influenced dynamics, while “Moonlight Heartache” slows things down a bit with its 50’s Rock and Roll sounds, sounding like a song that you might hear in film Back To The Future when Marty McFly goes back in time to 1955 at his parents high school dance. The final song on the EP “Golf Shack” twists and bends with its Link Wray meets The Ventures riffs leaving us wanting to hear more. Saved By The Bell Peppers displays a familiar yet fresh take on the Surf music and the instrumental Rock and Roll genres, although it doesn't always follow that format.

Check out and download the EP for free:

The following interview was done between myself (Dave Konstantino host of Revolution Rock) and Dom and Miyk of The Bell Peppers. We talk of cooking, Nirvana, Vinyl and Detroit.

RR: What would you describe the sound of your band The Bell Peppers as and when did you start playing as a band?

The sound?

Dom: Raw sassy rhythm & blues with twangy surf guitar and smooth haunted diner doo-wop.

Miyk: Melodic, then what you said.

Dom: Yup melody is key.

Miyk: We started about 18 months ago, innit? Put 1st EP out last May.

Dom: is it? Yeah... and recorded them about a month before that.

RR: How did you come up with the band name The Bell Peppers?

Miyk: I got it from the Simpsons. It's when Homer goes on the bell pepper diet.

Dom: what about the concept cookery album?

Miyk: Oh yeah, haha!

Dom: Explain...

Miyk: 'Cooking With Bell Peppers' was originally meant to be a concept album, where each song would be either a recipe or ingredients to make a meal involving bell peppers and the artwork to the record would be a cookery book, each song would be the length of time required for each stage of the recipe, so you could cook along while listening to the album.....

Miyk: But then I realised that would have been far too time consuming.

Dom: Still, would have been interesting...

Miyk: Also I’m a lousy cook!

Dom: It would have to have massive instrumental breaks where the potatoes are boiling and that... 'Now cook that pasta!' (Into 15 min long guitar solo)

Miyk: Haha! Yeah, would have been at least 4 discs.

RR: What would you say your main influences are musically?

Miyk: The Stooges (even though that doesn't show too much in the music) Link Wray, Bo Diddley, The Beatles, James Brown.

Dom: Duane Eddy, Chuck Berry.

Miyk: Eddie Cochran, pre army Elvis, Ventures, Phil Spector, Dick Dale...

Dom: I also like current underground indie/garage, [Thee] Oh Sees, The Mallard, Sonny and the Sunsets, Triptides, Kitty Daisy and Lewis, we both like them.

Miyk: Yeah, your into new stuff I’m stuck in the past.

Dom: And I love the sleazy Las Vegas grind stuff that they used play in strip clubs in the 50s.

RR: You just released the Saved By The Bell Peppers EP. When and where was this EP recorded and by who?

Miyk: 1956, sun studios, Sam Phillips.

RR: How would you compare the sound of your previous EP Cooking With The Bell Peppers to Saved By The Bell Peppers?

Miyk: One of em is like do do do do do, and t'other is like da da da da do do da da

Dom: First one not got any da. Second one, bit o da in it.


Miyk: Only 2 songs were written before recording for 1st EP. The rest we just were jamming.

Dom: Both EPs show diversity within a specific era, exploring micro-genres, the second EP just separates a bit more.

Separates the specific styles.

Miyk: 1st EP was like '58 to '62, this one is like '56 - '65.

Dom: Going further forward but also further back. Next one will have some late 20s blues and late 60s psych (maybe).

Miyk: I'm down with that.

RR: What inspired the “B EACH” EP? The Nirvana songs translate so well into your style – was that something you planned or did it just happen?

Miyk: We both started out playing Nirvana songs when we was kids.

Dom: Both of us are huge Nirvana geeks.

Miyk: And cack handed like kurdt, I've got his signature guitars.

Dom: We always have ended up jamming out their tunes when we jam, can't help it.

Miyk: It shows how great a songwriter Cobain was that his music can be interpreted into almost any style and it sounds good e.g.: the battle for Seattle reggae Nirvana covers.

Miyk: The night n day charity gig gave us the idea then peeps said we should record them.

Dom: So the N&D gig was a night where people were getting up doing a set of covers of one particular band, we chose Nirvana.

Miyk: When the greatest hits and complete works box set come out there'll be previously unreleased versions of Neg[ative] Creep and T[erritorial] Pissings.

Dom: 'Bell Peppers from the back of the freezer'

Miyk: Haha! B-sides and rarities.

RR: What are your plans for The Bell Peppers in the future? Do you plan on putting out a full length release?

Dom: Another EP recorded with a 3rd member within the next month and another one after that before the end of the year, that’s the plan.




fast cars

private jets

Dom: UK tour, yeah.

Miyk: Nervous breakdown.

Dom: Nice trainers, gold watches. Want it all.

Miyk: Cowboy hats, new boots and suits.

Dom: A 7 inch if we can find the money/backing, full length maybe next year if we pull our finger out.

Miyk: Or more better than that a 10" 78 rpm.

Dom: Are they made of shellac? Shellac breaks easy doesn't it? Be rattling about in the back of the tour van.

Dom: Reet need go and sign on, are we done here?

Miyk: Pretty much, gotta mention how much I bum Detroit music as well. Stooges, MC5, Destroy All Monsters, Motown n shit.

Dom: You mentioned Stooges.

Miyk: I just wanna go to Detroit, find the funhouse in Ann Arbor and soak up some magic.

This Weeks Play List:

1. What Seas What Shores – Siren Radio
2. Papermaps – Reaction Formation
3. Sebadoh - License To Confuse
4. Tame Impala – Elephant
5. Blonds – Magic
6. Dundas – You Can’t Hear Me
7. Jaill – House With Haunting
8. Vic Godard & The Subway Sect – Double Negative
9. Twin Library – Phantoms Run The Factory
10. Wax Mannequin – Black Bells (Reprise)
11. The Cramps – Voodoo Idol
12. Indian Wars – Commanche Killer
13. Atomic 7 - She's Got Haggar Party Slacks
14. Bell Peppers – Drapes N’ Squares
15. Bell Peppers – Moonlight Heartache
16. Thee Oh Sees – Tidal Wave
17. The Standells – Rari
18. The Stooges – Trollin’
19. Lost Patrol – Ghost In The Night
20. Young Rival – Black Is Good
21. John Spencer Blues Explosion – Soul Typecast
22. The Clash – Know Your Rights

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Users Sick of You & Show # 418

Released in 1977, Sick of You by the UK band The Users was the first of two singles that this band released before splitting up. Coming from Cambridge, their debut single starts with the raw Stooges/New York Dolls sound of “Sick of You”, while the song treads along with this obvious influence it also features a groove not unlike that of early Brian James-era Damned recordings. Lyrically, the song featured plenty of attitude, adhering to the ethos of Punk Rock, this song was also the debut single on the Raw Records label. When it was initially pressed the first 2,500 copies were mastered poorly, as a result there was a second pressing of the single made. The second pressings featured number picture sleeves as opposed to the first pressings, which did not. At the time of this recording, The Users had only played two gigs, the songs were recorded with producer Mike Kemp in March of 1977 along with two other songs “Louie, Louie” and “Message”, both of which wouldn’t be released for sometime until a compilation album of the bands material was released.

The B-side to the single was “I’m In Love With Today”, the song addressed living for the day and not worrying about anything else, with lyrics such as “People always talk about money saved away/ I just wanna spend it I’m in love with today”, the song attacked the standard view of suburban life, it true Rock and Roll style, these lyrics emphasized the live fast lifestyle. Musically the band also had a Garage Punk element featuring the same rawness of a band such as The Troggs, while the bands output may have been short lived it was like the late 70s Punk scene, brief but explosive. What set this band out from many of the other bands at the time was that the band simply did not just apply the same Ramones aesthetic to their music, but added a bit of Proto-Punk/Garage to the music. The Users second single was the Kicks in Style single, which had a little bit better production to the songs, but it did not have the same reckless abandon as their first single.

The Play List:

1. Mach Kung-Fu – Jungle Bandstand
2. Phono-Comb - Grip n' Grin
3. This Machine Kills Robots – Mineshaft
4. Frontiers – Years
5. Modern Superstitions – School Days
6. Rah Rah – Little Poems
7. Flamin’ Grooves – High Flyin’ Baby
8. Lew Lewis – Boogie On The Street
9. Little Junior’s Blue Flames – Mystery Train
10. Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup – My Baby Left Me
11. Lou Reed – Merry Go Round
12. The Yardbirds – Got To Hurry
13. Drums Along The Gardener – Fish
14. The Beaumonts – She Treats Me Right
15. The Dynamics – I’ll Be Standing There
16. The Mokkers - This Boy
17. The Vores – Stress
18. Colleen Green – I Wanna Be Degraded
19. Forgotten Rebels – This Ain’t Hollywood
20. Cellos – Mass Production Scheme
21. The Users – Sick of You
22. The Users – (I’m) In Love With Today
23. Cold Warps – Dream Creepin'

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 21. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dan Sartain Too Tough To Live & Show # 417

Dan Sartain released the thirteen track album Too Tough To Live in January of 2012, despite being a full length album it clocks in at just over 18 and a half minutes, each song lasting about a minute and a half. Normally known for his Rockabilly, Blues and Garage based offerings, Too Tough To Live offers us something different from Sartain, an album of short, fast and catchy 70s Punk influenced gems.

Recorded in San Francisco, California at Lucky Cat Studios, the album starts off with the song “Nam Vet” which combines Catchy Ramones styled riffs with Sartain’s own blues licks for a track that is part Punk, Part Blues and before you get a change to make up your mind the track ends, something that you will find on this album, brevity of the catchiest variety. “Now Now Now” follows with Jane Wieldlin of The Go Go’s on dual vocals and guitar, “Swap Meet” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Ramones first self titled album, the album also contains Sartain’s own Punk anthem, a track entitled “Fuck Friday”. The song clearly emphasizes an attack on the generic suburban weekend, the song is offensive, catchy and short, complete with distorted Surf styled guitar solo. The album ends with the song “In Death” a song that has more of a groove, reminiscent of songs we’ve come to know from Dan Sartain, featuring predominate handclaps and slow, but Punk like guitar chords in the chorus. Other stand out tracks on this album include “I’m Aware”, “I Wanna Join The Army” and “I Can’t Go Home Now”. Lyrically, the album addresses the monotony of day to day life, the army, Vietnam, getting insurance and more.

While some critics have been quick to jump on this album as another so called “Punk” album that sounds like a Ramones album, it is incorrect to write it off so easily. While on the album Sartain is definitely wearing his Ramones influences on his sleeve the albums title is even a play on Ramones Too Tough To Die album, there is also an underlying Hot Rod Rock style that filters in and out as the album progresses whether it is musically or in the lyrics.  Too Tough To Live is a short energetic adrenaline rush from start to finish, Sartain has always a Punk element in his music and on Too Tough To Live he brings it to the forefront of the music, while his Rockabilly and Blues elements sit in the background, popping up briefly to let us know that they are still there. From looking at the artwork (done by Kelly Keith), which displays a retro 50s Sci-fi look with its Cadillac and flying saucers we know that this album is a little bit different. It may not be what we would have expected from Sartain next, but like his other albums, Too Tough To Live is a great Rock and Roll album.

The Play List:

1. The Polymorphines – Anna Lee
2. Ghost Bikini – Summerheat
3. Actual Water - Pale Ways
4. Cousins – Jules
5. Dik Van Dykes – Lazlo
6. Los Straitjackets – Crime Scene
7. Cartoons – Radio Days
8. Dave Dubois – Death of Trotsky
9. Johnny West – A Puppet playing Possum
10. James OL & The Villains – City of Cards
11. The Doors – Queen of the Highway
12. Long Weekends - At Long Last
13. Wet Hair – Visit The Mirror
14. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
15. Nickel Eye – Another Sunny Afternoon
16. Shonen Knife – Welcome To The Rock Club
17. Dan Sartain – I’m Aware
18. Dan Sartain – I Can’t Go Home Now
19. The Love Me Nots – Make Up Your Mind
20. The Lurkers – Ain’t Got A clue
21. The Damned – See Her Tonight
22. The Rezillos - (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
22. Buzzcocks – Sixteen
23. Modern Lovers – I’m Straight

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 14. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

One Chord Wonders & Show # 416

On April 28th, 1977 The Adverts released their first single One Chord Wonders. The band which was composed of TV Smith who was the vocalist and songwriter in the group, Gaye Advert on bass, Howard Pickup on guitar, and Laurie Driver on drums, had just recently started playing as a band when they formed in 1976, many of them still learning their instruments as they were going along. Playing into the DIY ethic that was birthed in the late 70s Punk scene in the UK, the band caught the attention of Brian James guitarist in The Damned, which resulted in them securing a record deal with Stiff Records and touring dates with The Damned.

The cover art for the single is worth noting. Done in a photocopied/grainy style, not unlike some forms of Pop Art, the cover features Gaye Advert, the groups female bassist who is often viewed as one of the first female Punk icons. It is a simple concept, yet striking, something that is an indication of what you will find when you listen to the songs found on the One Chord Wonders single. Lyrically the song not only addressed the band's limitations in a self deprecating, yet satirical way, but also in a way expressing the opinions of many people at the time, that so called “Punk Rock” bands couldn’t play. While it may have been true that several of the band members couldn’t really play, they had TV Smith with his song writing capabilities to help them stand out from the rest. The song itself did feature more than one chord, but it also contained lyrics such as “I wonder what we’ll play for you tonight, I wonder how you’ll answer when we say we don’t like you go away, come back when you’ve learned to play”, which further emphasized the band and other Punk bands at that period in time. They also re-enforced their and the attitude of Punk with the closing lyrics “We don’t give a damn”. “One Chord Wonders” can be viewed as, and is often viewed as a culturally significant anthem of the times.

The B-side to One Chord Wonders was the song “Quick Step”, a song that was not included on the band's first full length album Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts when released in 1978, “One Chord Wonders” did however appear on the album. “Quick Step” was a song that along with its buzz saw sounding guitar tones, re-established the band's work ethic. Lyrically, as opposed to being self deprecating like "One Chord Wonders", it was a statement of the band's intentions with lyrics such as “I’ll sing the words until I can’t keep the band together no more”, and “Now you see me, now you don’t, pretty soon you’re going to see what Punks can do”. The lyrics to “Quick Step” couldn’t have rung more true. Following this single and the band's full length album Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, the band released one more full length album Cast of Thousands, then split up. The band lasted from 1976 to 1979, they had a total of seven singles and two full length albums. Their first single is a document of the times, and the two songs combined emphasized TV Smiths intentions as an artist of the past and future because following his Adverts days TV Smith went onto TV Smiths Explorers, The Cheap and to be a solo artist in his own right. Lyrically and musically One Chord Wonders proves that you don't necessarily need to be a technically inclined musician to make a song good.

The Play List:

1. Crystal Swells - P.C.S
3. Monomyth – Transmissions
4. Cream – Rumblin’ and Tumblin’
5. Willie C. Echois – Satellite Stroll
6. Origami Ghosts – Shooting Stars
7. Ramblin’ Ambassadors – Clambake
8. Chad Vangaalen – Can You Believe It?
9. 3 Seconds – Future Shock
10. Gordie Uranus & The Universe – It’s Only Urgent
11. The Libertines – Time For Heroes
12. Papermaps – There Are Wolves
13. Crocodiles – My Surfing Lucifer
14. Wavves – No Hope Kids
15. Hellaluya - Midknives
16. The Spys – Underground
17. Harlem – Mood Ring
18. The Sonics – Psycho (Live)
19. The Hives – Midnight Shifter
20. Sonic's Rendezvous Band – City Slang (Original 1978 Mix)
21. Ramones – I Wanted Everything
22. The Adverts – One Chord Wonders
23. The Adverts – Quick Step

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 7. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.