2010 is finished. How does a year look in your mind? I see it as a circle, a clockface. It’s past midnight now, and the whole sorry state begins again – round and round we go, just a little bit faster than before.
Looking back at the physical issues we have created this year brings home how much RB has progressed. Issue zero – our ‘year zero’ - was released at the tail end of 2009 (and for completions sake will be included in this ‘end of year’ roundup) with our latest, Issue 1.4 being released at the start of Dec 2010. A huge amount of credit must go to Adam Hayward, our little design genius, for helping to give RB its own style and much more impact. From my perspective I have enjoyed the free reign of running a free fanzine; with no one to answer to and no profits to desperately raise, I am able to cover anything I want – the interesting stories, not the ones that will sell advertising space. And of course, I must thank our rotating stock of contributors who all add their own distinctive voice to the magazine. My special thanks to Melissa Greaves, David Cooper and Andrew Whittaker who have contributed to every single issue. Respect.
Highlight of the year for myself has to be interviewing Mark E Smith on the back steps of Balne Lane Working Mens club. Nervous doesn’t come close; I get nervous interviewing anyone I haven’t met before, let alone someone with a reputation of being a bit of a bastard to most people, especially journalists. Apprehensive – absolutely. People often quote to me the old one about meeting your heroes. I’m really not one for hero worship, but some have come pretty damn close this year. With Mark though, I wouldn’t quite go that far. It’s only this year that I’ve started buying Fall albums, so it was more of a developing interest. In fact I owned more Fall books than records. But I was aware of his ‘legend’ so to speak and I think my actual lack of wonder, but incredible curiosity and respect helped that interview work. He was high spirited, though also very forgetful. Essentially he had been drinking for a few hours and – brilliantly for me – was at the chatty, ‘matey’ stage and happy to talk about allsorts whilst being very prone to go off on a tangent. He was funny, and had an infectious, ‘evil’ cackle employed often whilst telling his stories. What struck me most was a comparison with a story Peter Hook had told in his live show about meeting Johnny Rotten. It was just the two of them in a room together and John was still ‘being’ Johnny, despite there being no audience to witness it; angry, twitchy, spitting everywhere. Hooky realised that’s who he was 24/7 – he lived it. And I had wondered that with Mark. I was sure the whole thing wasn’t an ‘act’ but I wondered if the live shows and the albums, the ‘Fall’ side of life was something he had to work himself up to, but I’m so happy to report that’s just the way he is. Confusing, contradictory, yes, but genuine to the end and very entertaining – it was a pleasure to meet him and that the interview felt more like an informal slightly drunken conversation in a pub, with plenty of laughs, made it even better.
Elsewhere, I’ve been really pleased with the sheer variety of people we have spoken to. Yes, they all fall somewhere around the word ‘Indie’, but as we’ve tried to push this year, it’s a tag that ties to many different people, not just a genre. The Cribs (my first ever interview) were passionate and forward looking, excited to be on the brink of releasing their first album with Johnny Marr. Malcolm Middleton was quiet but surprisingly open when talking about Arab Strap, also showing a dark, self-depreciating humour that was so dark I’m still not sure if it was humour or not. Richard Herring was inspirational in his dissection of his career, the heartening realisation that he was glad he’d not had a massive career in the spotlight because it had given him much greater freedom. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart name dropped a million bands that I’d never heard of but ended up broadening my musical horizons greatly. They also showed that though they are from New York, we’re all really not that different. Luke Haines was smart, talkative, insightful and surprisingly, after reading his book ‘Bad Vibes’, humble, though it was pleasing that he still refers to Damon Albarn as a ‘cunt’. Philophobia Music leader Rob Dee spoke to us way back at the end of 2009 and its particularly pleasing that not only have his plans actually come to fruition, but that Philophobia has continued to develop into a genuinely brilliant record label releasing consistently great records. Elizabeth of Allo Darlin’ was charming and a lovely mix of down to earth and rawly ambitious. In particular I found her descriptions of a international network of Indie folk exciting, giving hope to us all (especially in Wakefield). Slow Club were sweet and accommodating, especially since I cornered them back stage at Indietracks after a day on the booze. I’ve been so pleased that Rhubarb Bomb’s year of wider exposure has tied in with Standard Fare’s; they released one of our favourite albums of the year, whilst bookending 2010 with gigs in Wakefield – a small one for our launch night in Feb and a fantastic night supporting Allo Darlin at the end of the year, plus our favourite fest of the year – Indietracks – also hosting them. And they are genuinely lovely people, their quiet but defined ambition being especially infectious. It was great to speak to The Lodger, one of favourite bands from back in the day and I loved the desire there to try things new and different. Runaround Kids seemed to pop up in almost every issue, so it’s a good job they’ve warranted our support by turning out a brilliant year, with a great single backing up loads of fantastic gigs, including Leeds Festival. Piskie Sits, another Wakefield band turning up all over this year’s issues have also been flying the flag high for local music and equally have an exciting time ahead. Our interview with Greenmount Studios (i.e. Jamie Lockhart of Mi Mye and Lee Smith of Middleman) was a particular pleasure for me, those guys giving me a great insight into production with a mind bending mix of over the head technical know how and childlike excitement and wonder. Tim Metcalfe of St Gregory Orange inadvertently provided me with a whole interview when I asked him, during a podcast, ‘how’s the new album going’. The resulting answer was eventually cut down to two pages of text and we continue to wait for its arrival. We caught Tiny Planets incredibly early in their life. Since then they have built on their astounding live shows and we can’t wait for their EP next year. Pulled Apart By Horses rounded of a brilliant year with their first Wakefield gig; the humility, humour and passion they displayed showed how strongly they stuck to their routes, support slots with Muse not effecting them too much. Being 747 bounded in at the last minute to talk about their bonkers approach to music / filling peoples minds with facts which, as cross medium approached go, was pretty damn cool. Finally Shrag, a genius band, were happy, opinionated and passionate – just how it should be.
And then there were the near misses. We so nearly got to speak to Peter Hook when he came to Wakefield. And likewise with Howard Marks – literally until a few hours before his show. You wonder why they agree in the first place, but I always give them the benefit of the doubt and it makes me all the more thankful and excited when people do manage to speak to us. Perhaps most crushing of all however was the interview we had lined up with Russell Senior of Pulp. For a long time I’d dreamt of ‘tracking’ down all the members of Pulp who played on my favourite record, ‘The Sisters EP’ and interviewing each of them about it, issue by issue. No mention of ‘Common People’ of the Brit Awards, just that record, because it represented the Pulp I loved, and no one seemed to be bothered about Pulp anymore. Late summer I got myself into gear, getting contacts for all the band members and decided to approach Russell first. He replied swiftly and seemed interested in the idea. He said he was busy for a few weeks, but we could meet in Sheffield after that, and that it’d be ‘worth the wait’ for a face to face interview. A few weeks later I returned from my holiday to discover Pulp had reformed, unbelievably the very Pulp line up that recorded The Sisters EP. I was worried the interview wouldn’t happen any more, but equally excited I might have a massive scoop, especially given Russell’s slightly cryptic comment. Sadly, Russell got in touch to let me know it couldn’t go ahead. He had wanted to do a few interviews with purely fanzine size press, ignoring the mainstream, but as a band they had taken the decision to do no press whatsoever. I was gutted. I was so sure it would happen I had already spent a good deal of time daydreaming of meeting Jarvis in a small Parisian café, one year down the line, as I finished by epic 5 part journey, but it sadly wasn’t to be.
But those were just the interviews. Our semi regular ‘Indie Legends’ feature has covered Jimbob, Ange Doolittle, Captain Beefheart and Arab Strap, whilst our other regular feature ‘Lost bands’ looked at FMB, McCarthy, Sixto Rodriguez, Nosferatu D2 and Pylon. Roland X has provided some interesting vitriol in his Follow The Drum column. He’s ‘faced up’ to: ‘The Vacuum of Employment’, ‘Apocolypse II: The Return of Noel Rock’, ‘Rupert Murdoch Future’, ‘The Cost of Ideology’ and ‘Celebrity Prattle / Michael McIntyre’, whilst other one off features looking at things as diverse as Our most well received, or at least commented upon, article was ‘Escobar: An Obituary’ which documented the rise and fall of the most important and divisive music venue in Wakefield over the past decade. It certainly cause a stir and resulted in us being threatened with legal action by it’s well known former owner. We didn’t bow to the threat to remove it however, and though I resist the need to publish said email here, I can only presume I didn’t hear from the lawyers due to everything in the article being completely true.
It wasn’t all about Wakefield; we went to some fantastic festivals this year too, including Rough Beats, Indietracks, Truck Festival, Live @ Leeds, Fell Foot Sound and Constellations. We got involved ourselves too, joining up with some Wakefield Record labels to take a coach full of Wakey folk to Brixton for a fantastic gig in February. We also put on an art / music hybrid crossover mashup at The Art House in Wakefield, and held a fair few launch nights too as well as curating the opening night of Leeds Fringe Festival, appearing on Phoenix FM and starting to create our own Podcasts and VLOGs.
And 2011? Well, a bigger and better magazine with an even greater variation of features and opinion pieces, a fully functioning website featuring LOADS of things, including all our reviews, meaning you don’t have to wait 3 months to see what we’ve been listening to. Also, we’re going to be putting on our own festival in Wakefield in the summer. It’s going be MASSIVE, man.
So thank you for you support, we hope you will continue to stick with us. Here’s to an exciting and productive new year.
Thanks to all the contributors: Andy Whittaker, Melissa Greaves, David Cooper, Stacey Loren, Roger Green, Chris Cooper, Matt Singleton, Harry Rhodes, Jack Winn, Dan Hayes, Stephen Vigors, Paul Bateson, Jay Lawrence, Matt Hill, Jack Falcon, Jen Singleton and uber designer, Mr Adam Hayward.
Thanks to all the advertisers: The Hop, Trad Music, Mr Mickey Thompson esqe, On The Ride Promotions, Sticky Shoes, Pebble Records, Raise The Roof, Irene Studios, Truck Festival, Geek Pie Records, Rock N Roll Circus Rehearsal Rooms, Escobar and Horsforth Modern Art
Thanks to bands who played our launch nights / gigs: Standard Fare, Tiny Planets, The Fur Blend, St Gregory Orange, Candid Squash, Jeremiah, Piskie Sits, This Many Boyfriends, The Spills, Runaround Kids, Mi Mye, Salvage My Dream, Carrie Scott Huby and Bruce Rimell.
And the lovely people at Delta Design, Morley.
Editor, Rhubarb Bomb