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interviews - mar/apr 2004

- Bearsuit
- Ian Watson (How Does It Feel)

Guess what? Bearsuit have just released an album called 'Cat Spectucular!'. How cool is that title, eh? Here, tasty has the briefest of chats with Bearsuit's Matt Hutchings. Don't go blinking, now...

How long did the album take to record? 
6 months of weekends and evenings (and a lot of faffing about!).
How please are you with it? What would you have done differently if you had more time and/or money?
Very, very, very pleased. Smug even!
Did you set out to create a specific sound with this album?
Yes - the sound of Joy.
How do you react to people who use the word 'twee' towards you as though it were some kind of insult?
If you ever mention that word again we'll throw our cardigans at you!
Where did you come up with the name of the album? It's great!
We all wanted to call it something else but mouse had a hissy fit, stamped his feet and threatened to throw his dolly out of the pram. So Cat Spectacular! it is.
How difficult is it for a band in your situation to get a record out these days?
If all record companies reject you put it out yourself!
Do you all have cats? If so, tell me about them.
Matt and Cerian have a cat called Henry (he's black and white and very cool), Lisa's not allowed to keep live animals but everyone else plans to get one soon. Jan has 'adopted' one, but not in a catnapping evil kind of way.. honestly!
Can you recommend some other bands to me please?
Check out Gwar.
Norwich then - centre of the universe and political hotbed of music excellence, or rural backwater full of prog rock fans?
Bit of both - backwards but with great music
What's your favourirte place to play live and why?
Sweden cos they're mad and Leeds cos it's like Sweden!
What would make you disband Bearsuit tomorrow?
A very big cheque
What should we expect of Bearsuit next?
We're gonna come back like Gwar. Only scarier.

Sam Metcalf


Ian Watson (How Does It Feel)
One of the finest nights Ive had over the last year came when Ian Watson came up and graced us with his presence in Nottingham playing some fist class tunes after one of our gigs. Founder of the How Does It Feel club night, Ian spoke to tasty about the expansion of How Does It Feel, and his love of pop music. 

What are you earliest memories of really getting interested in music?
The Exploited on Top Of The Pops. Changed my life. Possibly for the worse. I'd never seen anything like them before. They blew my tiny mind. It was all downhill from there...

How did you become involved in music journalism and who did you work for in the beginning?
I started writing reviews for free for a weekly magazine for Aussies in London that no longer exists. They were spotted by someone at Music Week and I started writing for them. Then I sent off reviews to NME, three of which were rejected and the last taken on. I was with them for a year and then jumped ship to Melody Maker. I was 19 when my first review was printed in NME, 20 by the time I got to MM.

What do you think of the current state of music journalism in this country and how does it compare with overseas writing?
It's pretty healthy. There are so many outlets now that if you're dissatisfied with the traditional publications you can turn to a myriad of alternatives, be it in print or on the net. When I was growing up there were three music papers and then fanzines. That was it. Nowadays, magazines are everywhere. That has to be a good thing.

Who has been your favourite interviewee so far?

Too many to list. Macy Gray is great because she's mad and a habitual liar, so she's always superb value. Spending an hour on the phone to Scarlett Johansson was fun. Very sharp and witty. Having a thirteen course meal with Johnny Vegas was everything you'd expect and much more. My head still hurts when I think about it. Loads of others.

And is there anyone you'd like to interview who you haven't had chance to?
Loads. Robin Williams. Smokey Robinson. Dolly Parton. Morrissey.

How did the idea for HDIF come about?
Myself, my girlfriend Adrienne and our friend Amanda were driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh. The girls, old friends for many years, were in the front, catching up on gossip. I was in the back leaving them to it. We were listening to a tape that Amanda's boyfriend Gary had done for her, Loads of old indie stuff, including 'Beginning To See The LIght' by the Velvets. When it got to the line, 'How does it feel to be loved?' the idea struck me.

What were the main obstacles in starting the night up?

None. I was doing a night at the Buffalo Bar in London called Club Beer, which had been slowly becoming less and less popular. To keep it alive we decided to go bi monthly and needed a new night to plug the empty month. So I did HDIF. I thought it would be a one off but people turned up from the off.

What was the response initially to HDIF, and how has this grown?
Surprisingly great. I don't think I've been doing anything particularly new or groundbreaking - Track And Field had been running something similar in London for ages - but for some reason it struck a chord. We had a steady crowd of between 50 and 100 for the first year and a bit, then moved from a Thursday to a Friday and now we average 100 to 190. We had 170 in January, which is ridiculous. The year before we'd had half that.

Do you have a strict playlist policy?
Yes, very. No punk. No rock. No garage rock. No grunge. No Britpop. No haircut indie. I'm not interested in playing the latest cool indie sounds, even if I happen to like them. I want to offer a real alternative.

Do you think the market for so-called 'indie nights' in London is saturated?
Not yet. After T&F closed, HDIF was the only regular night apart from Strange Fruit and that closed recently. There's been a bit of void in between HDIFs, but now quite a few new nights are springing up which is great. There's the Penelope Tree, Faded Glamour and Breaking Hearts For Fun.

You're about to go twice-monthly - why is this? Demand?
Partly demand, partly impatience on my part. I can't wait a whole month to DJ again. It's too much fun. Also I want to see if I can run a successful night where I live in London, which is Brixton. There aren't enough nights in south London and I want to contribute something to my area. The city is big enough for me to be able to establish two separate crowds for two clubs- it's almost like they're in different towns anyway. I know there are people who go to the Islington HDIF who would never travel south and there are tons of people in Brixton who would go to HDIF but don't want to leave the area. So I'm going to give it a go.

Do you hope to make money out of HDIF, and how big would you like it to grow?
I make a bit of money now, enough to buy me a few nights out in the weeks after. I'd love to be in a position where I could do a big one off in a seaside town somewhere. But I'd be equally as happy with it staying the same as it is. Some of the nights in Islington have been so full that it hasn't been so much fun - less room to dance, etc - so big isn't always beautiful. I'd just like to see the club grow naturally.

If you could pick a dream guest dj, who would it be?
Diana Ross. In a good mood.

What are you other favourite club nights?
The Penelope Tree is good fun. Offline at the Ritzy is great. I haven't been to Faded Glamour or Breaking Hearts For Fun yet, but I fully expect them to be great.