tasty 18 - interviews
Diskant - Care in the Community
some compendium of all that is good in the world, diskant remains
one of the UK’s, nay the world’s!, best websites for information, news,
views and all round general goodness on this thing we call ‘music’. Host
to a myriad of different underground concerns, diskant remains in
the cool grip of its founder, Marceline Smith, part overlord, part mother
to the rest of the diskant cast. To found out just how sexy
diskant is, turn to page
www.diskant.net and read aloud to the rest of the class. But for now,
here’s Marceline’s version of things..
made you get into fanzines...and eventually start up diskant?
It would be Riot Girl. Being stuck in a tiny Scottish fishing village, the
only way I was able to participate in Riot Girl was by writing letters and
buying records and zines by mail order. The first fanzines I made myself
were on a completely different subject though. I started off doing a
fanzine about smartie top collecting of all things, then an infamous Gene
fanzine with my sister and then various other zines with different people.
came about when I was offered some free webspace and thought it might be
fun to put up some of the interviews from my fanzines since they were
mostly out of print. And then I helped Gringo Records and a couple of
friends' fanzines and bands get themselves online and it just grew and
grew and took on a life of its own.
think there was a golden era for fanzines? Can you name some of your
Up until a few months ago I probably would have said there was a golden
era of fanzines or even just an era of fanzines that pretty much ended but
things seem to be picking up again. I've been sent a bunch of really good
new UK fanzines lately and it's becoming a lot easier to buy fanzines from
all over the world. So I have a favourite era of fanzines which is
inevitably the era in which I was buying a lot of fanzines and making a
lot of fanzines. The first fanzine I bought was Ablaze! which pretty much
set the standard for me. Since then other greats have been SunZoomSpark,
Damn You!, No Pictures, Fast Connection and Robots and Electronic Brains.
I like fanzines with a lot of personality, a dose of stupidity and,
obviously, intelligent, interesting writing.
Can you explain the main ethos behind diskant?
Well, my aims when I started diskant were that it would be a friendly
community spirited place where people could find out information about
independent music online and find their way to other independent music
websites. We try and do everything we can to help independent bands,
fanzines and labels get their stuff online as cheaply and easily as
possible. We've also made great efforts to avoid any kind of corporate
advertising or sponsorship and to highlight the new and unsigned bands
that need the attention.
How do you fit diskant around your 'proper' job?
It's more like the other way round really. At the moment it's easy as I
don't have a job and my last couple of jobs have been part time. Basically
diskant has made it impossible for me to work a full time job. The last
time I worked full time I ended up spending my entire evenings and
weekends working on diskant stuff and consequently not being the happiest
or healthiest of people. In my last job I spent a fair amount of work time
working on diskant stuff, using it as my 'project' for learning aspects of
ASP and database integration and ended up with my line manager joining
diskant as a consultant! I'm not imagining things will be so easy in
Do you pick and choose who'll become part of the diskant community?
The community aspect has always been the most important part of diskant so
we take it very seriously. But we're happy to host websites by any bands,
fanzines or labels that have an independent DIY ethic and a community
sprit. Our affiliate sites, which are websites we don't host but feel are
some of the best sites around, the diskant staff visit each submitted site
and vote on how much we like them and how much they've got to offer
diskant and vice versa. We're happy to include almost any website in our
links database though providing it's of some relevance and doesn't offend
our eyes or sanity.
What's the best thing about being involved in diskant?
Without a doubt it's all the lovely people I've met over the years
[including both my current housemates...] and all the fantastic bands I
probably wouldn't have heard otherwise.
How much do you rely on other people involved in diskant?
I've got ten volunteer staff and I couldn't manage without them really. We
wouldn't be able to run a monthly magazine section or the Weblog or get
even half the records we get sent reviewed. When any of them go on holiday
it's immediately obvious to me when I'm struggling to deal with their work
on top of mine. And that they do it all for free is almost enough to bring
me to tears.
Would you like to run diskant as a full-time concern one day?
Part of me would like to but I know that's it's impossible. The amount of
money it would have to earn to keep running and pay my wages would make it
into something that wasn't diskant. Same as if it involved selling
diskant to someone else and then working for them. It would become a
business and if I work for a business [which I generally do when
employed], I want to be able to complain about the boss and switch off at
the end of the day and abuse my photocopier privileges, not be there all
weekend worrying about advertising revenue and, god forbid, making people
redundant. The only way it would work would be if someone was to give me a
million pounds and then I'd happily spend that sitting in my nice
purpose-built office running diskant all day and buying laptops for my
What would make you give up diskant?
If it took up even more of my time and finances than it does now. If it
stopped being fun.
There seems to be an underlying political current to diskant - are you
a member of the SSP?
I am indeed. I was a very active member of the Socialist Workers Party in
Aberdeen for about five years and there's always been political bits and
pieces in my fanzines. The SWP are now merged with the Scottish Socialist
Party and I'm ashamed to say I'm not nearly so active these days although
I keep up my membership and my reading. The electoral side of things isn't
half as interesting to me as occupying council chambers over student fees
and suchlike. I'm finding things like Indy Media are beginning to bring
back my enthusiasm though.
Could diskant exist anywhere else apart from
- could you move to another part of Britain and carry on?
I started diskant in Aberdeen and ran it pretty successfully from there
for a couple of years before I moved to Glasgow. I imagine I could run it
from anywhere in the UK although I don't think I personally could exist
outside of a major city again. diskant does have a strong Glasgow/Scotland
edge to it at the moment so it would certainly evolve towards something
else if I was to move to England, Europe or further.
Where do you hope to end up with diskant?
Well, I hope not to end up on the streets. Other than that, I'm
surprisingly short of ambition. My head's constantly bursting with ideas
of how to make diskant bigger and better and more exciting but I'm not
sure what the final aim is. Having a vivid imagination, it's probably best
I don't think too far into the future.
Power ...ermm...power on. 18 months after tasty last interviewed these
psych-pop maestros, they have a stunning new album out. ‘Creatures’
signposts a further change in the band’s sound, as they turn tail of
pyschedelia for a while and hit the highway called POP! We had a quick
chat with mainstay Andrew Reiger.
give me a bit of background about the album. Does it have a central
concept, or is it more a collection of separate recordings?
There is a central thread running through the songs . There are many
references to "creatures" hence the album title. Not to get too hokey, but
it is vaguely about humanity's relationship to natural and spiritual
things being diluted by modernization.
Do you think the recent change in personnel has changed the band's
sound at all?
No, not really. we've had between 10-20 people in and out of the band
over the last 8 years. There's always been a core of people who are more
permanent members and others who come and go. We like it that way, because
it's always nice to collaborate with different people.
To me, the album seems more pure pop than your others. is this the
reason it only lasts half an hour? Did you want to make something
Yeah , we were kind of interested in making a really direct rock/pop
album, and not going off on quite as many tangents as we have in the past!
Looking back over the band's history, do you think
you've matured 'organically' or have there been definite attempts to
change direction at certain points?
No, it's kind of been a natural thing. I think because I sing and write
most of the songs, we've maintained a fairly consistent sound, though
styles and arrangements have varied.
How would you describe your music when you started the band - and how
would you describe it now?
The first album was recorded on a 4 track cassette machine mostly by
myself, so it was very trashy sounding. Now of course we have a full band
and record in a regular studio, so of course it sounds more like a rock
the band prefer - recording or playing live? Why?
We see them as two separate things. When recording we can add many layers
which we don't try to play live necessarily. Playing live is more of loud,
What of Elefant 6? Is it dead?
None of the people involved are dead, so I suppose it's alive!...the
only time we ever think of elephant 6 is when journalists ask us about it,
so maybe it is dead!
In your opinion, who are Elf Power's peers at present? And who would
you like to be compared to eventually, past or present?
Current bands we have toured with and like their music include Neutral
Milk Hotel, Wilco, Guided by Voices, Olivia Tremor Control....as far as
who we're compared to, I think bands that we admire sonically include
Brian Eno, Neil Young, Velvet Underground, Robert Wyatt, Sonic Youth ,
Could Elf Power ever become dull to you? Or has it in the past?
No, if it did I'd stop doing it.
We are touring the US/Canada in September. Europe in October/November, and
releasing an album of cover songs in oct including songs by Chris Knox,
Buzzcocks, Bad Brains, Gary Numan, T-rex, Sonic Youth, Robyn Hitchcock,
Roky Erickson, and the Jesus and Mary Chain, amongst others.
‘Creatures’ is out now on Shifty Disco Records
- Farming Incident
worry, you haven’t picked up a copy of Goat Worrier Weekly by mistake
readers. You are merely here to listen to how good Leeds noiseniks,
Farming Incident. Looking for Spacemen 3 having a fight with the
Fall? Then you’ve come to the right place, as tasty talked to the band about
its love of furry things....
name of the band, tell all?
Ieuan Jones (guitar bass keyboards) - Wasn't my idea. It looks scarier
than it sounds, if you know what I mean.
Dave Mays (drums, bass, keyboards) My Dad's cousin (Frank) was a pig farmer
in North Essex, and so farming and a love of pork products is in my blood. I
seem to remember we (the band) were chatting about these issues around the
time when that farmer chap who sliced his arm clean off in a threshing
machine and carried it over the fields to the nearest A&E department to be
stitched back on hit the headlines, and we all chorused, "What a great name
for our band!".
Dave Proctor (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals) - Pretty much as DM
explains above - Farming Accident sounded too dull and not as scary
Jon Watson (guitar, bass, keyboards) - Agricultural death, wasn't it? I mean
physical, actual death rather than
the "death of the countryside" which is regularly touted by the pro-bloodsports
lobby. Have they been to the countryside lately? It's lush and verdant, and
far from dead.
What do you make of the Leeds scene?
IJ - Lots of great bands (and a few bad ones) with nowhere decent to
play. And why do all the bigger bands play Sheffield instead? (Rhetorical
question - I refer you to my previous answer)
DM - Errr... which one?! I preferred Leeds when the students were scruffier
and poorer than the locals, who had 'taches and tucked-in sweatshirts, and
when all the best clubs were rock and goth ones... and a pint of Tetley in
the University Union cost only 79p. Those were the days. You should *see*
some of the rabble we get at our gigs (when anyone turns up).
DP - some excellent bands, sadly with few really good places to play.
Fortunately the DIY scene has good experimental ideas for events and gigs
for those of us who like to avoid shit holes like Majestyx
JW - I've got to agree with Dave M, I have to say. There's some good bands
out there, and there's also a lot who seem to be playing the same song. I
tend to keep away from town cos it scares me. It's a lot easier to get
punched these days than it used to be.
you say that you were a political band? If so, where do your sympathies
IJ - I don't write the lyrics, but regarding my political beliefs, I'd
say that although I used to be a Marxist firebrand, now I'm older I'm aware
that the world's a lot more complex than I once thought, so as a result my
politics change every day. If there's one thing I'm consistently angry
about, tho', it's how the Welsh are still (after 1500 years, mind) being
made to feel like second-class citizens in their own country. And another
thing... Hey, come back!
DM - Yes. And my sympathies lie firmly with our parents and our audience.
DP - I think we are, but it never is that obvious in the songs, and that's
the way I want it and like it. Giving too much away renders things pointless
and also means your audience is likely to be fickle as fuck. I like mystery
and not knowing what things are about in music, otherwise what's the point?
I still feel that i'm a Marxist in principle, the practical side these days
is the tricky part
JW - I think that because we don't - as a rule - do songs about girls
,people assume that our rehearsals are like Maoist "speak bitterness"
meetings. They aren't. Some of our songs observe the world's strangeness,
and therefore may seem political. To me, for example, paying BNFL and the
UKAEA to poison people is stupid. Saying so isn't necessarily a political
act. I'm essentially a humanist who's constantly amazed by the stupidity of
those in charge.
the point of the Farming Incident?
IJ - What, indeed, is the point of the Farming Incident? Does that
answer your question?
DM - For me it's a hobby which will distract me from death and hopefully get
me laid, one day.
DP - It helps me to give my brain lots to work on. I don't sleep very well
generally, so working on music, which inevitably takes time, helps the time
to pass. And we can make a bloody row, without having to justify ourselves
JW - To make a quasi-musical racket, for a start. I'll not go on, as I'll
start ranting. Again.
talking veterans of the indie-pop scene then we’re talking Richard Preece.
As his latest band Lovejoy prepare to release their new album ‘Who Wants to
be a Millionnaire’, tasty talks to Dick about lots of really heavy stuff
that makes both our heads hurt...
happened in the beginning? How did Lovejoy appear?
Well, prior to doing Lovejoy, I'd been playing in bands for a while, and
prior to that I'd done another 'solo' type band thing 'The Spinning Wheels',
who released the last single on Bristol's Tea Time records. I'd kind of lost
the plot after that for a while, due to personal things and also getting
completely strung along and messed about by a couple of indie labels. So I
kind of gave up for a while and then gradually got into playing in bands
again, not writing much, just sort of helping out...About four years ago I
had a little fit of songwriting, and begun to record some demos at home,
just for fun really.
About that time I'd met and become good friends with Keith (Girdler -
Blueboy, Beaumont etc...) who was really encouraging. He made me go to a
'proper' studio (where Blueboy had been recording for some time) and record
a few songs to send to some labels to see what happened. I got quite a lot
of interest, and Matinee seemed to be the best bet of the lot, being new,
releasing some good records, and having quite a good sense of coherence,
which for an indie fan like me, was really important.
You seem to be steeped in indie-pop/twee/C86 history. Is this the kind of
music that you hold dearest?
If anyone's ever read any of our Snowbound fanzines, they'll know how
important it is to me. I mean, the first gig I ever went to was a Razorcuts
/ Chesterfields show in Bristol. It still excites me, thinking about how
brilliant both of those bands were. I have to be honest and say 'yes' to
your question, but like everyone else, I'm rather ashamed to admit it...and
you know, there's loads of great music that I love that isn't even close to
The diatribe on the inner sleeve of your new album displays a contempt
for the way in which modern society is controlled and run. Why do you think
this state of affairs has come about, and how can we begin to change?
Firstly I have to say that the reason I wrote that was that I was trying to
explain why the album has its title. I'd like to see it as a bit of a
concept album, in that the songs are very similar in theme, although they
look at that theme from different angles and perspectives. In short I think
the sleevenotes are describing disappointment in people's (myself included)
motivations. I think that perhaps there's a lack of something in the lives
of modern (western) people. We're like kids in a sweetshop, devouring all,
consuming as much as we can, wanting more and still not being satisfied.
There's not many people asking questions about the consequences of this.
How can we
change? I don't know, try doing something 'good' or ‘positive'? You know,
Keith and I were talking about Malcolm MaClaren and how a few years ago an
interviewer asked him what kids of today could do to be rebellious, and kick
against the system. He just said 'Don't buy anything', which seems like a
good idea to me.
Are you involved in any kind of left wing politics, or otherwise? Or do
you feel the same apathy as most people under a certain age?
I was always more involved in left wing politics in my youth, I was quite
active...but things always stemmed much more black and white then. I
wouldn't say i feel apathetic, it's just the politics of 'new' labour are
rather disturbing, so you do begin to wonder what it was all for...all those
years of tory hating and baiting... I do take pride in the fact that the
work I do is important and socially beneficial, but apart from writing down
certain ideas...I don't know. Its definitely not apathy, it’s more
like...isolation or detachment.
Do you think its human nature to be greedy?
Oh God! We're doing all the big themes here aren't we?! Well, I do think
that a basic flaw in our make up is that we need a sense of purpose and
direction to begin to feel satisfied, and maybe as a society we sometimes
lack a common sense of purpose and direction. Greed is more of a symptom
than anything else... a response to emptiness? Oh, I don't know...this is
really serious stuff and I can't begin to answer it in a few words...But if
you really push me I'd say 'Yes...maybe'.
What is the significance of the cover of your album? Is it a mods vs
rockers scene from
It's just a great image...its 1975 or 1976, so its punks and mods and all
sorts...Brighton is a really important place to me, but the image looks like
confusion and you just don't really know what's happening, which is why it
makes sense for this album.
Why did you decide to cover songs by Biff Bang Pow? (Lovejoy recently
released an up of BBP songs) Where they your favourite Creation band?
And, indeed, was Creation your favourite label?
The Biff Bang Pow single came about because I wanted to do a cover version
(The Beat Hotel) just for fun, then Keith said he'd love to sing 'Hug Me
Honey' so we recorded that as well. I gave the tape to Jimmy (Tassos,
Matinee Records) with the master for the 'Christmas Wish' single, and then
we talked about releasing it. Yeah I think for a while they were my
favourite creation band, but there were so many great Creation bands - and
some real suckers as well- but for a while, Creation was the most important
label in the world to me, and Biff Bang Pow! were the archetypal Creation
band. But as Jimmy from Matinee said to you in his interview, that early run
of Creation singles could never really be topped, for a while there were
many amazing bands releasing records and being about as cool as you can get.
Could Lovejoy, with your music, see to be celebrating the past, rather
than look forward? Do you feel any sense of responsibility towards the type
of music you play?
Hmm...I think celebrating the past is one way of looking at it, but this
really comes again from that BBP! single...the point was to highlight how
few great indie records there are these days...it's celebrating the past and
making a point about the current climate. I try to approach each record by
wanting to make it the best record I can make, so although many influences
are from the past, I want to look forward and make a record that also sounds
contemporary. But if you go too far down that road, you just end up making
records that you think other people want to hear and that are somehow
'fashionable', and I can't seem to do that, I just don't get it. The
responsibility I feel most is to Jimmy, who has made Matinee a real labour
of love. It's partly because he's been so supportive over the last few
years, but also because, as Greg from Sportique describes it, it's one of
the last bastions of indie music: It's a label that is as well known as the
bands on it, like Creation, El, Subway, Factory, Sarah and all the greats.
So you have to try and keep raising the standards of the music coming out of
Who do you think is making equally excellent music as Lovejoy?
Well, I'm not sure that many people would agree that Lovejoy music is
excellent, though I hope people like the new album, but every time I say
that there's no great music being released, someone crops up to prove you
wrong. I like a couple of local bands : Fujiya and Miyaki, Polak are a
great live band... I really like the new aberdeen cd, Bent are brilliant,
The Montgolfier Brothers make lovely sounds, the list goes on...
What part can Lovejoy play in ensuring that the alienation of people by
advertising/tv/huge corporations/ western governments etc is overcome?
If you think how absolutely tiny the worldwide interest is in indiepop, then
reduce that by about a million, you're probably left with a few thousand
people worldwide who follow matinee, and in particular who like Lovejoy
records...so whatever part we play, it will only ever be a bit-part. But,
that said, I'd like to think that lyrics, sleevenotes, fanzines etc..aren't
JUST preaching to the converted, but do make one or to people stop and
think...maybe that's just naive and idealistic. No, I know that's just naive
and idealistic. Really, we need to be showing people alternatives, giving
them opportunities to overcome that alienation and quite frankly I don't
know how lovejoy music could ever do anything of the sort. I mean, who
could? Maybe that's what Lovejoy songs are about, knowing, deep down, that
really there's not that much that you can do, in the big scheme of things.
God that’s depressing. Sorry.