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tasty 15 - interviews
- The Lollies
- Matinee Records
- Six by Seven
- Solomon
- Starlets

 

The Lollies
Quite how two Canadians and an American find themselves holed up in London playing some of the most glorious pop-music since Heavenly went their separate ways is a matter for some thought. And quite why more British bands aren’t like the Lollies is another.
Y’see, whereas most of our youth want to sound like the grandpa turd that is Travis, or they’re so fixated by silly people in masks that they overlook the finer things in life, like pop music and The Lollies.
Take that name for a start, it’s genius....we don’t need no education to tell that, by band name alone, this North American three-piece can make us laugh, cry, dance, open an extra packet of cup-a-soup and laugh again..all at the same time.
With their last single, ‘Channel Heaven’ making a welcome stay in the indie charts tasty caught up with Jane and Kate to ask after their well-being....

Your image - natural or somewhat pre-determined? Are you slaves to fashion or does it come naturally?
J: 100% natural. We never sit around planning which stripey trousers to wear or putting each other's hair in pigtails. Nope. Not. Ever.
K: I'd be lying if I said that we *didn't* think about our image,
about how we present ourselves. I'm an ex art student, and the
presentation is part of the package. Visuals, like our album artwork, are very important to us! I think we actually spent more money on the 8-page colour booklet that accompanied our first EP than we did on recording the music! But we're not a fashion band in the slightest, our visual presentation is an expression of our own aesthetic sense, not any vagaries of the Arbiters Of Fashion. Certainly, we're girls, we compare notes about what we're going to wear before gigs or photo shoots. Though to be honest, I spend more time worrying about what guitar pedals I'm going to use than what shoes I'm going to wear.

Is pop music dead, or merely waiting for the lollies to kiss it back to life?
J: Pop music never died, it just lost all its attitude. We'll kick its arse until it's the gigantic formidable daunting force it once was. Pop music is never dead, that's an oxymoron, as pop is an expression of popular culture, and popular culture will last as long
as there is a population! But yes, popular tastes change, and I've generally noticed that they change in cycles. There will be a cycle of manufactured pre-fab bubblegum pop, and then an explosion of "genuine" music as a backlash, and then round again. I think the Lollies are perfectly balanced in that we combine the aesthetic of pre-fab bubblegum pop with the ideals of "genuine" indie. (Or is it the other way around?) Pop music doesn't have to be unintelligent, and indie music doesn't have to have no sense of fun, and I hope The Lollies are proof of that.

Will you be celebrating the
Queen's Jubilee this year? How long has the Queen Mother been dead?
J: I never liked Queen. They were far too bombastic. That 5ive cover was great though. Pure comedy. Oh, I think I've missed the point...
K: Oh yes, of course. Anything for a party. I'd go to the opening of an envelope. I personally think the monarchy are great, they're a 1000-year old soap opera! Better than Eastenders!

Are the band politically aware/active? What do you see as your manifesto?
J: Meat Beat Manifesto were brilliant. . . Oh no, I'm doing it again. Focus, focus...Alright. Our manifesto. To make smart music fun and pop music smart again. And to never ever, ever have sponsored hair.
K: I don't believe in speaking about your political beliefs, I believe in *living* your political beliefs, otherwise it's just hollow posturing. We are not an overtly political band, because I don't like it when other people force their beliefs in my face, so I'd never do it to others. I am a feminist, a liberal, a pacifist, a vegetarian, and I live my life according to those beliefs, but I prefer actions to empty words or manifestos. If The Lollies have a manifesto, it's probably along the lines of not taking life too seriously. Be serious about what you do, believe in yourself, but when bad things happen, it's better to laugh at them than to let them drag you down. That's what we try to do, and that's what this whole band was founded for.

You lot have originated from so far apart..but what one thing brings you together, apart from the lollies?
J: Eating. It's all about the food.
K: Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the Powerpuff Girls!

Do you get dispirited by the British attitude at all?
J; I've not even figured out what the British attitude is yet, and I've been here for years. There seems to be a bit of a can-do spirit here that I haven't experienced elsewhere. Plus, Brits love their popstars, so how can we complain?
K: I love Britain, and I have chosen to live here, because I find that the British music scene, especially living in London, is so vibrant, so energetic, and there is so much going on. But there are certain things I find very frustrating about the English attitude, yes. The thing that I find most frustrating is the British "Fear of Success". I find it really funny that the biggest insult you can give
a musician seems to be to call them "middle class". In America, everyone *aspires* to be Middle Class. Here, you're not supposed to *want* to be successful, and you're not supposed to toot your own horn, and if you *do* achieve any kind of success, no matter how small, there are always going to be people trying to tear you down and knock you off your pedestal and discount what you've done. I don't know if it's jealousy or fear of success, or even if it's a British thing or just human nature, but it makes me sad.

What say you to future world domination? Can the lollies 'lick'... ho,ho, the opposition, or are you merely content with your lowly, yet significant position in the musical Nationwide league?
J: Lowly? Who are you calling lowly. Why I oughta...Bring 'em on, baby. We'll knock 'em down. Whiney, MOR, safe, dull, derivative musicians of the world, you better run and hide your skinny arses!
K: Oh no, it's all about the music for me, man. I'd be happy making records in my bedroom, and if even one person outside the band likes it, then that's a bonus and... fuck off! Of course we want world domination, don't be ridiculous. I make music that I fucking love because I love it, *and* I want it to be successful. Anyone who claims they don't is either a liar or a saint, and I'm neither. 

Who holds the band record for eating the most lollies?
J: Actually, we hold a joint world record for sucking the most lollies at one sitting. We managed to eat 9,822. Really. It's in the Guinness book. Man, our tongues were sore for days..
K: Most, I don't know. But as for being the biggest lollies fiend, that would probably be me. I once picked up a Chuppa-Chup I'd dropped in a gutter on the Lower East Side, brushed it off and carried on eating it. Gross enough for ya?

www.thelollies.co.uk/

 
Matinee Records

In the latest of tasty’s trawl around the best indie labels in the world, we speak to Jimmy, head, and indeed, only honcho at the ever-wonderful Matinee Records.

Tell me more about how Matinée came about?
In 1996 I was running a pop mail order called Roundabout Records and it was growing out of control. so I did what any responsible adult would do and killed it off. Before it died I was planning a cassette compilation with songs from many of the labels I distributed but in the course of contacting folks I got in touch with an Australian band called Sweet William and changed the plan to a 7" single instead. Six months later the "Dutch Mother" EP was born under the newly monikered Matinée Recordings and I never looked back.

Had you always wanted your own label?
Not particularly. I was happy being the ultimate consumer-buying loads and loads of records and sometimes not even listening to them at first or for awhile or ever. I went to college for architecture and then received a masters degree in city planning which led me to a very serious job on Capitol Hill working on tax legislation for affordable housing. Starting the label was a creative outlet for me and happily it has been a great run so far.

What is/was your favourite label and why? Do you think that the indie-pop genre is overlooked far too much these days?
The best label of our lifetime is hands down Creation Records. As a kid I knew I was cooler than anyone because I was listening to records from the Revolving Paint Dream or Primal Scream or Biff Bang Pow! and thinking now, this is different. I dare you to name a better run of singles than Creation's twenties: Bodines, Pastels, Felt, Primal Scream, Biff Bang Pow!, Jasmine Minks, Weather Prophets...
Today, indiepop does not receive significant mainstream press so I guess you could consider it overlooked. The entire concept of media has changed in the last five years though, as magazines and other traditional media struggle to keep up with the ever-changing (and more exciting) world of e-zines and online music sites. When we were kids (in America) you had to read magazines or hang out in record shops to hear about new music but now you can type a few words into a search engine, listen to some soundclips and buy your music online from a place halfway around the world in a matter of minutes.

It seems there are hundreds of indie pop labels throughout the world...why are these successful? Especially when we see bigger 'indies' struggling every day?
Success is all relative. If you start something with absolutely no expectation of what you might achieve or how far it might go then everything that happens is a success. First single. first review. first radio play. first album. first release to sell 500, 1000, etc. The thing that makes running an independent record label exciting is that a cycle repeats for each release-you always start with a blank sheet of paper when planning a record and there are countless people to reach. I am satisfied when I release a record that still makes me shout six months or a year after its release, but also when I secure a review in a new magazine or receive an email from somebody new who claims to be the biggest Matinée fan of all time or have a record played on a new radio station. Compared to the so-called "bigger indies" Matinée is still quite small, but then again we don't have an army of people to pay every week to keep things moving or get us reviewed in the papers or strong-arm radio deejays to play our records. Perhaps this is part of the reason the bigger indies are struggling?

Name your dream Matinée roster, excluding current acts.
The Smiths, The Bodines, Brighter, Razorcuts, Orange Juice, Biff Bang Pow!, Brilliant Corners circa "Fruit Machine" , Jesus and Mary Chain circa "Happy When It Rains", early Aztec Camera, Adorable, the Colourfield, House of Love. yes, all old bands. but then again I work with all the good current ones already don't I?

How would you feel if a bigger label offered you thousands of dollars to buy Matinée out?
Delighted, assuming they afforded me complete creative control over everything I am doing now, gave the bands loads of cash, hired me a full time accountant and built a back catalogue warehouse somewhere far from my house.

Do you think that the development of Matinée has been organic, or have you steered the direction of the label in one way or another?
I'd like to think the label has grown in an organic fashion, but having a one-person label makes it pretty difficult NOT to steer it. That said, I have the honour of working with some of the most creative minds in the industry and these artists are as responsible for the direction Matinée has taken over the past five years as much as I am. I suppose the outside world may perceive a typical Matinée "sound" but to me and my merry band of misfits we think of ourselves as a rather diverse bunch.

How would not having Matinée around affect your life?
I'd have a whole lot of free time on my hands and would probably drive my wife crazy with my hyperactivity.


What's next?
Next week sees release of new albums from The Lucksmiths  and Would-Be-Goods, followed by debut 7" singles by The Snowdrops and The Liberty Ship. The near future promises new releases from Lovejoy, The Windmills (including another Matinée first: a video!), Airport Girl, The Fairways, Harper Lee, the long delayed Razorcuts compilation and the first of two label comps. We're also working on Matinée debuts from new bands The Pines, Kosmonaut and The Guild League, and there is a threat of new recordings from Johnny Johnson of the Siddeleys. Stay tuned to Tasty for the latest.

www.indiepages.com/matinee

 

Six by Seven
Nottingham’s Six by Seven are a breed apart. Dismissed by the mainstream for not following fads, yet not yet feted by enough to guarantee a true cult following, the band continue to produce some of the most thrilling guitar music.
It’s been a long way from the band played Nottingham slums as the oddly monickered Friends Of.....to their current status, however limited that may be. As they release their third and most brilliant album yet, tasty had a brief chat to towering frontman Chris Olley, and reviews ‘The Way I Feel Today’....

What is the general mood within the band at the moment? Still angry?
More miffed than angered this time around.....controlled anger but very content-ish.

Do you think that you've become stronger since Sam (ex-guitarist and founder member) left, personally and as a band?
Yes, I think that's why the anger is manageable now.....things are definitely easier and more fun but it's hard not to miss him when you bump into him in town

And how has the band changed musically during this time?
I think we have become more focused and tighter both in the studio and live and that makes things more stress free on a personal level.

Would you say that the 'So Close' single was the stepping stone between the old and new 6x7?
It probably was.

The new single (IOU Love) seems a lot mellower? Are 6x7 at ease with the world?
We've always done mellow songs, but no, it's still the same world out there.

Are the new songs still as personal as the old ones? Do you ever tire of  'bearing your soul', so to speak?
The new songs are more personal than ever before...but I don't see it as soul bearing, more of an exorcism, not tiring at all.

Are you still as excited about being in the band as you were three or four years ago?
I'm enjoying it more now that I know the ropes....the sad thing is that parts of the press don't seem as excited because its our third album and they really need an angle or a scene or mass popularity to show that they want to get fully behind it.

Is there any pressure on the new single to chart?
Only for the above reasons, it would move the press along...a hit would be great but we can't force that sort of thing can we?

Are you frustrated by the British press' knack of jumping on what seems to be an annual bandwagon?
Yes, in a way it's all a bit dumb really....I've just come back from doing European Press trips and quite frankly people just think the British press is a joke, which I think is a real shame.

And do you think that 6x7 have missed the boat at all? Does this worry you?
The boat sailed off before our first album....we just smiled and waved it good bye, we often felt there was a party and no one invited us....really, nothing to be worried about so long as the music keeps coming and we can enjoy it.

What's the response like from the rest of Europe compared to the UK?
Pretty much the same, everybody likes the new album, we just have to wait and see what's going to happen....this time around though radio seems a lot more keen to get involved.

Do you think its possible to ever be truly content with life?
Yes, I think you should try, it's all about learning

What's the 6x7 manifesto from here on in?
Get back to your shoeshine

www.sixbyseven.co.uk/

 
 

Solomon
Formed just over 12 months ago, Solomon have just released their debut single ‘Being the Devil’/Piano 1’ on  their own Black Car White Cat label. Reminiscent of Nick Cave and Galaxie 500 in equal measures....tasty talked to vocalist Leila.....

Can you give a little history lesson - how did you meet etc...
We met in Cheltenham - a quaint Spa town - but dark stuff goes on there. There's definitely something not quite right about the place. We all ended  up in London at different points, and started the band about two years ago,  after we all moved in to a house together in South London. It's a challenge - can you make rock n roll, after you have seen each other in a bath robe, or a pair of tight briefs (no names mentioned).

Your sound is taken from all over the place. Give me three equally diverse influences.
Velvet Underground, Roberta Flack, The Pixies.

On your new single, 'Being the Devil' seems to owe a lot to old blues stars.....are you fans of blues music, and what do you think of the way the genre is portrayed and played today?
Yes, definitely. We like old Blues stuff - Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Nina Simone, TheStones. As for now, there are people playing the blues with a great raw and exciting energy, and more importantly with the true sense of humour that great blues can have- like John Spencer, R.L. Burnside, Royal Trux and White Stripes. Also, people like Polly Harvey's and Nick Cave's moaning gutteral blues is great.

What is the aim of Solomon?
Not to get too feminist on your ass, but there is a definite absence, or lack of recognition, from labels of female British singers and bands.
Where are the front women to inspire the next generation of rock and roll ladies?....Their invisibility is shameful...someone is ignoring them in this country and it stinks.

Your sound is very 'classy'...was this intentional, and do you think there is a certain lack of style in music today?
There's been a lot of averageness in music in recent years. I can't think of anything more disgusting than Toploader or Embrace (ugh)....bands should always be classy; stylish and intense but not self-indulgent. That doesn't mean polished - but SEXY.

 

Starlets
Glasgow’s Starlets are most mysterious....seemingly unable to reveal their true identity to tasty, the band have just released the most tender, heartfelt, all round beautiful little album you’re likely to hear this year in ‘Surely Tomorrow You’ll Feel Blue’. Vocalist Biff nearly answered some questions.....

You're from Scotland - you say your songs are all about living on the edge of society - as Scotland has always been 'experimented on' first by the government (poll tax etc)...would you say being Scottish has helped form your opinions, your sound and your song-writing?
Oh Yes, all that porridge has made a man of me.

The album seems to me to be very much a 'cherished' thing....has it been made lovingly, or do you have a more haphazard approach?
Both, we're lovingly haphazard.

Name me three equally diverse heroes/influences?
Judy Garland, Muhammad Ali, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

How important is image to you?
Monochrome is the way forward. Many long hours are spent debating over which tutu to wear - the white or the black (or perhaps my personal favourite: the Bishop Desmond tutu).

What if you never get heard outside of your own confines? Will you become disenchanted?
Our own confines are our bedrooms. I made it outside this morning to go to the shops. I shan't look back.

What do you make of the current state of music? Has this inspired or disillusioned the starlets?
It's the usual deal - the good stuff has to be searched for; the obvious is served up to you on a plate.

www.starlets.co.uk/