albums | articles | contact | events | gig reviews | interviews | links | mp3s | singles/EPs | search

 

tasty 23 - interviews

- Pam Berry (The Pines)

- Jimmy Christmas & Dion Palmer (The D4)
- Kaito
 

 

An interview with Pam Berry of The Pines. 

Tell me about your previous and present bands - when did you realise you were in love with music?
I realised music was the best thing since iced raisin bread long before I had any kind of involvement with making it myself. My parents had a big beautiful cabinet stereo that finally bit the dust only about a decade ago, the kind with the stack-o-vinyl spindle on the turntable. I've got an old Christmas polaroid from when I was three of me and my younger brother standing next to what must've been our first record player, with seven-inches without sleeves strewn about the place. Old record filing habits die hard!

The first band I sang in that put a record out was Black Tambourine. I couldn't sing very well but it didn't matter, writing songs and playing with friends was the best time ever. Every band I've been in since then has been the same ace situation of playing with friends and if I still lived in the US I'd hope to be playing music with the same people, I miss them! Speaking of those folks, lemme just say how many times a day I'm compelled to play When You Come Around by The Saturday People, can I get a witness?
I'm presently playing in The Pines with my friend and guitar wonder Joe. These days we record everything at home in my South London flat on a digital 16-track portastudio with my husband at the controls. Joe and I stay pretty busy with our jobs and don't see each other as much as we'd like, but we record more than we play out - we just played our first and last show of the year at what is turning into our annual live gig at the Bush Hall in London. I also join in when I can for Snowdrops recordings with Keith and Dick, who live in Brighton.

Which would you consider your 'day-job' band?
Don't make me laugh! Playing and recording is great but at the rate we do things, I'd be wiser to work on one of the ten gazillion other things that are more appealing than working 9 to 5, like world craft domination or starting London's foremost homemade pie delivery service.

Tell me a little bit more about the process of releasing Pines records - you've recorded for various labels - what is your relationship with them all?
The first Pines release was a song on a comp CD that came with an issue of Papercuts magazine that our friend Stevie put out in 2000. Our first seven-inch came out on the label Long Lost Cousin, which is run by Mark who currently plays in the fantastic Pipas. Mark used to record us on his Mac before Mike and I got the Akai, he wanted to start a label, I was keen to make some sleeves, and it was done. In the earlier days Joe and I didn't really work much on recording until someone asked us for songs, having some kind of deadline would kick our butts into recording action. We've been lucky because the labels who have asked us for songs like Becalmed, Annika, Foxyboy and Matinee have committed to putting out a Pines release and trusted that they'll like the songs without hearing them first! I've known Jimmy from Matinee for ages but still couldn't bring myself to tell him after we recorded that True Love Waits Volume 2's first song was a capella and the last song clocked in at 9 minutes, I just sent along the finished songs and hoped for the best. Only recently have we started recording songs that don't have a home yet.

How many volumes of the 'True Love Waits' eps will there be?
Volumes 1 and 2 are the whole shebang, Joe wrote the songs as a group, though we didn't record them all at once. A long time ago we got asked to release some songs on a new indie mini-CD label and decided to start recording the first half of the True Love Waits bunch of ten. When the label crashed and the record wasn't going to happen after all, Ara from Foxyboy offered to release the songs. Matinee then kindly offered to put out the second batch of five, which mirrored the first five nicely and completed the TLW set.

How do you think labels such as Matinee are helping smaller bands in the UK, and US...and throughout the world?
I don't know that anybody would've ever heard the songs on True Love Waits Volume 2 if not for Matinee, and though I think it's some of the best stuff we've ever done, Joe and I would never have been in a position to put it out ourselves! Jimmy must be the most enthusiastic label mogul I've ever met! His excitement about his own releases as well as pop music on lots of other labels is infectious - combine that with great distribution and it means Matinee and pop labels like it are getting songs out to the kids that it would be impossible to hear otherwise, a fact which I hope I'm never too jaded to appreciate.

Does living in London make being in the Pines easier or harder - as far as gigging, rehearsing and recording are concerned?

The Pines wouldn't exist without London, since we both live here! I'm not sure how easy it would be to continue if either of us moved away from London. Gigging isn't really an issue since we only play out about once a year (not counting late-night drunken sets at house parties) and recording is easy enough once we can find the same days/evenings free, which isn't very often!

Did you welcome Bush's visit to London? If so, why? If not, why?
Who could welcome him to London unless it was the driver of the bus he should go under? It's bad enough to see his stupid mug all over the news at any given time but that only increased with his trip over here. The man's a menace, he makes my blood boil. 

Did you start 'Chickfactor' with Gail O'Hara - or just work on it for a while? How did they come about?
I started Chickfactor with Gail in 1992 and though she did take on more of the reviewing burden and was a friend to the deadline in a way I never was, we were right there together transcribing, putting on shows, pasting candies and hair thingies on the covers and stapling pages together until I left after issue 11 in 1995. All told, Gail did put much more work into Chickfactor than I did (she hit people up for ads for instance, something I could never do) and though I miss doing a fanzine I really think of it as her mag. Good thing, then, that she carried on doing it after I left and now has a wonderful webspace devoted to it! Check it out for a complete history of Chickfactor, fab pictures by Gail and awesome web-only CF articles (like Peter Paphides waxing excited about choc!).

Do you and Joe have different ideas about how The Pines should sound? Is there any element of compromise when you're working together?
Joe and I have very similar ideas about how The Pines should sound, which is why recording is something I look forward to. We also have very similar ideas about how much lazing about should be done during any day of recording and how much cheese should go on top of the pasta bake made on the day of recording. Doing any kind of creative activity with someone else will always involve elements of compromise but we've yet to have fisticuffs over where the melodica fades out or anything like that, and since we have all our recording gear at home we have the luxury of trying things out different ways, without the pressure of time or expense that recording in a studio would have.

Would you like to be more prolific?
Yes, and not just in music. In music, I'd love to be recording more frequently and getting more Pines records out. In everything else, I'd love to finish even half of the projects I start and get my small biz up and running this year. More music, more bags, more gocco fabric stamping, more mass pierogi-producing and more hat-making in 2004!

Sam Metcalf

 

The D4 Get Loose
The refreshing Kiwi quartet The D4, take time out from recording their second album as well as playing gigs in Japan and their native land, to let us inside the party machine that is their band. The Enigmatic and fun loving front men Jimmy Christmas and Dion Palmer openly discuss life on the road, the different array of personalities which makes up their group and give an insight into their amazing live shows.  

Jimmy and Dion can be summed up by recourse to the name of the first track on their ‘6twenty’ album; ‘ROCKNROLL MOTHERFUCKER’. It is their spirit and openness that The D4’S ever growing fan base hope is going to catapult them above the ranks of The Datsuns’ poor relations. This is how some quarters of the music press seem to have harshly placed them in their estimations.

Before heading into the studio to record your second album, did you take time to reflect upon the success of your debut album (6twenty) and the impact your music has had on its audience, if so what are views in this?
6TWENTY was damn good to us. I am thankful for that record and the places from whence it was spawned. It’s amazing to think something you made can transport you around the world. I like to think of the first album as a large cruise liner with a never ending bar tab, and all the peanuts you can eat. I’m not sure what other people think of it.

You have been touring incessantly for the past few years. Most bands find touring draining, but you are renowned for the energy and effort you put into your life shows on each leg of the tour, do you suffer from fatigue or does the party drive you on?
Fatigue is definitely a factor, especially on big runs. I think we discovered that around 6 weeks on the road things start to get pretty crazy…you end up running a really short awake cycle. Sleep until soundcheck, sleep until showtime, hang out for a while then back to bed to get whatever rest you can. For a while there the 1 hour show was the peak of my 5 hour days. And the best fun I have ever had.


With yourselves and The Datsuns back in the studio bands such as The Kings Of Leon and The Darkness are being more hyped up then Muhammad Ali over here. Do you think the nation is losing it's taste?
You’re asking me to comment on the tastes of a nation where Mr Blobby once held the number one spot on the singles chart?

Hah..well, I think people should get off on whatever takes their fancy. After all, everybody is someone else’s weirdo…

Describe the mood of the new album. Is it more of the same frenetic party inducing garage rock numbers? Or is it more reflective? Are you still Rock N Roll Motherfuckers???
On the second album, while we are still using chords that everyone will be familiar and comfortable with, we have changed around the order in which we play them. There has been a bit of work on tempo, and of course a whole new bunch of words about different stuff.

If questioned on the matter, I would still consider the other guys in the band to be Rock N Roll Motherfuckers, more so now than ever before. I would like to think they feel the same way about me.

There is seldom an article written about you without a reference to you being to you being The Datsuns' poor relations, with Dion selling an Amp to them early on in your career. Do you find this annoying and do you plan with your next album to grapple the New Zealand rock crown from Dolf and his army?

With our next album we plan to grapple the hearts of all the worlds’ nations and bind them together in an orgy of love & understanding. We have no current agenda in regards to the armies of General de Borst but we have heard that they offer 3 square meals a day, a roof over your head and all the motherfuckingrocknrolling your sister can handle. 

Many indie & alternative bands are  hypocritical in their criticism of manufactured boy and girl bands, as they are manufactured themselves with the use of drum machines, pre-recorded vocals and guitars. However, this cannot be said of you, so go nuts?
It is not common knowledge but Beaver is in fact manufactured from old spitfire parts, crushed motorhead cassettes, diesel oil, cornflower, and wood. So it would be best for us not to comment.

You seem such fun loving guys, do you have a darker side? Who or what makes you angry?
I have a drunker side. Its not that much darker but it looks a bit that way because it’s closer to the ground. It doesn’t get angry much but has a long list of whom or what makes it horny.

What sort of music are listening to currently?
Really really good stuff. Fucking unbelievable. You should hear it.


You rate your live performances on a scale of 1-10, but added that if you ever did reach a ten then there would be carnage the place would never be the same again. Throughout the whole of your touring in support of the album 6twenty, which one show achieved the highest score? Where was it and what happened?
Hard to say, as the top three shows all crossed the 8.5 mark which as you know can involve seizures and long term memory loss. So while we know they were fucking incredible nights we can’t remember where they were. Or who was there. Or why Jimmy woke up underneath the bus in a leather apron and a welder’s helmet. These nights, like many before them, are lost to us now. However there may be pictures.

What do you want people to take out of your gigs and how do you want to leave them feeling?
If someone comes to a D4 show and over the course of the night has as much fun as we do then it’s a good chance that they would be left feeling exactly the way we planned. The formula is simple and the symptoms worth the entry fee on their own.  

There seems to be a split in personalities in the band. With Jimmy and Dion be livelier than a stallion with a jet powered engine stuck up its backside, with Beaver and Vaughan appearing sombre and reflective at gigs. Does this cause conflict or do you all rub along together nicely???
Strangely enough, behind the scenes Vaughan is the most extroverted of the group and Beaver is a complete maniac. When Dion is not on stage he can be found at the helm of his 1:72 scale model railway with a piping hot cup of chamomile tea, while Jimmy will most likely be asleep or working on his Dungeons and Dragons character sheets.
So it goes to show you never can tell, but some unexplained reason the combination of dangerous energy and complete inertia fuses together perfectly to create the fire in the rock and rock reactor that is the D4.

Dave Adair (Adairneil@aol.com)

   
Kaito
Kaito...from Norwich they come to take your pop cherry...or cherry pop, one of the two. We speak to Gemma, Dave and Nikki, who is sadly unaware of the fascinating world of plant machinery.....
 
First up, tell me a bit about how you all met please...
Gemma - Dave and Nikki knew each other through mutual friends, and got together in`96. I was in another band in which I played the guitar, and knew of Kaito through the local Norwich music scene. I found out that they needed a new bass player, and bought a bass and volunteered. I really liked them 'cos they sounded like exactly the kind of band I really wanted to be in. So I joined, then about a year later we needed a new drummer. I knew Dee through friends from a few years back, and suggested that he joined, cos I remembered he was a good drummer. So he joined in '97. The rest is history.
 
Dave - I met Gemster's gaze across a soft spring meadow of primrose and bluebells. The sun warmed our souls, and as we skipped through the flowers towards each other the air was sent into a rapture of visual and olfactory beauty.  As the birds sang their requiem we realised that rhythm was our medium and that we would always have a special bond.  She introduced me to the other two chancers some time later, can't say I remember it too well.  It was probably raining though.....
 
Nikki - Dave and I met at a Menswear gig. Gemma and I worked in the same Bar. Gemma went on one date with D when she was about 16 (she stood him up so it kinda didn't happen), but she knew he was a good drummer so.... sorted!

What or who does the band model itself on?
Gemma - We don't model ourselves on anything. The way I see it is that the way we formed was just how it was - y'know, 4 people who could play instruments who got together and wrote and played songs. I know the industry wants bands to be in a certain `category` or whatever - and I hate that - it's based too much on looks rather than the actual music sometimes. We had problems
getting signed, 'cos labels would say, "We don't know what category you'd go under", which was real annoying. I guess on stage we wear dark colours, but that's so that we feel kind of more united on stage as a band, and it makes us feel more into what we're doing. almost like a costume - we get into a band mode` when we wear dark colours on stage. We probably all feel a bit different about this kinda thing.
 
Dave - Nothing consciously.  I don't feel the need to imitate people in order to admire them.
 
Nikki - Ha! We don't model ourselves on anyone. Independent of each other; we're all too anally into our own thing to agree on whom to aspire to. HOWEVER!!!, the type of bands we can agree on- the bands where each individual has an integral part of piecing together that band's sound. I know what ya thinking!!! Doh! ya just figured that out Miss- well done!! Nah, I mean each member has something unique to offer like Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Jim Sclavunos and Lee nutbar Renaldo. Bands like Sonic youth, The Velvet Underground, Gang of Four, Liars have and are still pushing musical boundaries; occasionally reinventing their sound, not being afraid to experiment. That's encouraging! Bands that don't plan to fit into any particular scene, but do music for the sake of themselves- if a scene develops from this then so be it, good on 'em!  But their reason for being in a band together is to go their own ways first. That's POWER!

Is the plan to break through to the mainstream or to remain underground and cool?
Gemma - We can't plan that kind of thing. But I don't think we'd ever get into the mainstream. I like where we're at right now. But we can't plan to be in either scene. We'll just do what we do and see what happens I guess.
 
Dave - I understand what you're saying, but if we should find ourselves facing mainstream success, we will still be the same people making the music that we make.  It will just mean that we have had the good fortune to have a lot of people hear it and like it.
 
Nikki - We have no plan- have we ever had a plan????? If we'd gone out to seek commercial success we would have died of frustration a long time ago. Different underground bands tend to look for new fields to explore and we intend to carry this on. If the masses catch up on us then good for them. We are however in a band to give people a good time, regardless if they're underground or not so we could go either way.

Can you name five things that you think about whilst playing live?

Gemma - "Oh god, they're pointing a camera at me", "am I singing in key?", and I generally have a lot of conversations going on in my head. Especially on old songs that I know really well. I am a bit of a day dreamer. And I'm always worrying about stuff. Either that or thinking about really weird things. Generally I feel a bit stupid. But it is good fun too.
 
Dave - Being in a boyband, so I could just dance and smile and not sweat so much. Why did I drink so much before we went on? Glad I don't have periods. Ouch! Did I leave the oven on?
 
Nikki - I fancy him! (ref. To my gorgeous boyfriend). Dave, get outta my goddamn space! We sound frickin' cool! Hey, I like her dancing! Take ya fingers out of ya ears Mr!

What's the best thing about being in Kaito?
Gemma - When people like the songs we play that I've helped to write. I like playing gigs where the audience are really getting into it. Also when we write a new song and I think it's good, I'm really happy that I feel as though we can still do it, that we've still got it, and I look forward to hearing it on record. And getting to travel and meet lots of people is a real good thing.
 
Dave - We've travelled to so many places that I may never have got to, and played with so many inspirational bands. Plus, being the one who sits at the back, I get to avoid recognition and therefore the screaming crowds of obsessive fans that the others are constantly having to deal with.
 
Nikki - Ha- easy...touring with some of the most inspiring and influential bands of today! Our pop appeals to all sorts but we're still able to keep our artistic dignity- cos we sooo good! We've been together sooo long we're sorted. We know our musical direction, we have a mass of musical chemistry, we respect each other, we are like a family- ha! And we're on a cool label! Hey! And D's ginger- this keeps us amused!
 
And what's the worst?
Gemma - Having my photo taken and then looking at said photos! And other people looking at the photo's.
 
Dave - The terrible feeling of rejection at never having anyone say, "Hey, you're in Kaito!"
 
Nikki - There ain't nothin'!
 
Which football teams do you support?
Gemma - I'm not into football at all, but I used to support Arsenal a few years ago, just cos they win a lot. When I was little I was well into football - Man United, but only cos my brother liked them and he was impressionable on me. Now I have a Norwich City wristband. So that's a good enough reason to like them, yeah?
 
Dave - Any that score goals
 
Nikki - Spurs.

How sick are you of the Elastica comparisons?
Gemma - We're not compared to them as much as you'd think. We're compared to a lot of bands with girl singers. It's too easy isn't it? But to be compared to Elastica is a big compliment!
 
Dave - There are far worse bands to be compared to.  But ours is a cake of many ingredients, and they are only one of the raisins.
 
Nikki - Not sick of em. They're a cool band. I love Wire too! Hee!

Invent a new fad for NME to write about in 2004.
Gemma - A Norwich scene. I  think they should. There are some good bands here you know! Can't be much more inventive than that I'm afraid. No imagination, me!
 
Dave - Music.
 
Nikki - Bands that sound like Elastica, that sound like Wire.

Which bands are nearly as good as Kaito at the moment?
Gemma - There are bands that are as good if not better than us.  If I think bands aren't as good as us then I don't like them, so I'll just say bands I like, and who aren't as big as they should be. Neals Children are great. Magoo, The Walkmen, The Rogers Sisters, Mahjongg, Liars (obviously), Erase Errata, and The Pastolas are a great Norwich band.
 
Dave - It's not something I give any thought to.  I don't like to make those kind of comparisons.
 
Nikki - 80's Matchbox B-line Disaster. Whirlwind Heat. Numbers. Mommy and Daddy
 
And, finally, your favourite pieces of plant machinery please?
Gemma - Hmm, well I saw this JCB thing once and it smelt of bacon. Good enough reason for me to be a favourite! Strange question!
 
Dave - The combine harvester, it is an ambition of mine to own one, with seats and windows put in the back bit so I can drive it around like a bus.
 
Nikki - What the frick is plant machinery ?????

Sam Metcalf