Monday, 26 September 2011

Zine Culture: The Inner Swine Interview

Issue 2.2 of Rhubarb Bomb features an article about 'The Inner Swine', a Zine created by Jeff Somers based in New York City. Here is the full interview, minus my attempts to twist his words to fit my own blinkered view of the world. For more info on TIS go HERE

Where are you / is TIS based?

Hoboken, NJ, the unofficial sixth boro of New York City. Also, the New Jersey City with the most bars per city block, birthplace of Frank Sinatra who escaped as a kid and never came back not once, and home of the Cake Boss.

When did you start up TIS and has it run since relatively consistently since that date?

TIS was originally conceived by me and three other people in 1993. My friend Rob Gala and I were talking one night and I expressed impatience with the whole publishing thing, how long it takes. So we both sort of said, hey, let's start our own magazine! We got 2 friends and had a planning meeting, and then did a lot of wheel-spinning for 2 years. The other 2 guys dropped off, me and Rob tried to put it together as a duo but we were too different in outlook and politics and vision. Eventually Rob gave up. This was 1995 and I just took all the material I'd created, the cover our artist friend (Jeof Vita) had created in 1993, and put out issue one with no fanfare or production values.

At that point, I just wanted the first issue out. Little did I know that "no fanfare or production values" would become the general philosophy of the zine.

Tell me a little bit about yourself i.e. the neighbourhood you live in, do you have a full time job, do you have an ‘office’ where you ‘work’. Just a little bit of a picture.

Born and raised in northern New Jersey (Jersey City, where I was mugged several times as a kid). I live in Hoboken. Married, 4 cats instead of kids. Day job, sadly, but I work from home. I drink scotch, don't smoke, play guitar and post songs on my blog until someone pays me not to, and sometimes humiliate myself by playing chess.

Thinking WAY back… what inspired / motivated you to start up a Zine?

It's above - I'd never heard of zines at the time. We just suddenly thought, why spend all this effort trying to convince folks to publish us, why not just do it ourselves? It was only years later, when I started putting out the issues, that I realized there was this thing called zines, and I'd started one.

My whole life is like that. Ignorance, smug self-certainty, half-assed execution.

As a fanzine editor / writer I often experience the crushing ‘what is the point of this again?’ lows and the amazing ‘I can do whatever I like!’ highs. Is there a practical method of keeping yourself moving forwards? Or does it take a specific kind of person to do what we do?

Personally, we're talking about endless wells of self-centeredness. I don't actually care much if anyone else likes or enjoys the zine. It's for me, really. I enjoy doing it, and I entertain the hell out of myself while writing it. The fact that a few dozen/hundred/thousand people around the world enjoy it is just icing on the cake, really.

So, I've never had much trouble with motivation. The zine itself has gone from almost total obscurity to having a pretty wide distribution (back in its heyday when both Tower Magazines and Desert Moon Periodicals carried TIS) to its kind of semi-obscurity today, where a lot of people know of the zine but the actual paper readership is modest.

I think if I ever hit a point where absolutely *no one* is reading the zine, I might fold the tent up. But as long as I have some folks interested, I'll likely continue. Maybe as a digital-only kind of thing.

Your tenure at TIS has seen the arrival and dominance of the internet. How easy was it to accept the changes and what importance do you give to the physical format and why is it still relevant?

I never thought too hard about the changes. The Internet was always exciting and interesting to me, and I was super eager to get a web page up, and I remain excited to post old issues on the web page and allow anyone, from anywhere, to read the zine in some form.

The paper format is still the best. This might change. I like e-readers and I like the idea of eBooks, as long as they are DRM free and once they get into a standard format (in other words, fuck proprietary file formats). For the moment, paper still rules. It's the only way to guarantee 100% accessibility (b/c not everyone has an e-reader but everyone has eyes, natch) and the only way to guarantee that the zine you bought at Quimbys in 1998 is still usable, because your paper copy will never run out of battery life or crash and wipe your hard drive or any shit like that.

It could, of course, fall in the tub or catch on fire. This I stipulate.

Some folks wax on poetically about the hand-crafting of a zine, but I don't. Making a zine was always and remains a fucking chore. If I could hire some neighborhood kids to collate, fold, staple, and stuff these motherfuckers for pennies, I would. I would lock them in a room with unsafe working conditions and put on a sash that says EVIL CAPITALIST OPPRESSOR and laugh and laugh as they begged me for food and water.

"Keeping folding!" I'd shout. "If you get 500 done by midnight you each get to look at a glass of cool water."

And the children would cheer.

I’ve noticed a lot of (music) fanzines nowadays really taking hold of the ‘DIY’ tag and bending it to their corporate means i.e. Fake DIY. They are magazines disguising themselves as Fanzines. Although your perspective is a little different, is the line, morally, for you? (example; receiving advertising monies to cover certain issues)

That's been going on forever; advertising/marketing folks are always sniffing out trends and co-opting them. Back in the mid-1990's there was a moment when zines were "cool" and you saw a bit of marketing using the zine/DIY aesthetic.

I shrug at that stuff. I never messed with advertising precisely because I didn't want to have to worry over anything like that. For me, the zine was always meant to be a fun way to get writing out into the world. But then this is why I will die poor and miserable, because I've been losing money on the zine since day one. It never paid for itself. And who cares?

As for a moral line, eh, I don't worry about shit like that. Fake stuff gets found out and left behind. I let the universe sort stuff like that out. More and more these days I think people feel that as long as they are entertained, they don't care about issues like whether you're getting paid to write something with a certain slant. Used to be people got up in arms when artists "sold out" etc, but today advertising is seen as a vector to promote yourself. The culture has changed.

Where does Fanzine writing sit in relation to ‘Art’ and ‘Journalism’?

That's a trick question. "Art" is totally subjective. You can call a zine art, and who can argue? "Journalism" has guidelines and techniques. You can be trained as a journalist. Most zine writers are not trained as journalists, but that doesn't mean their writing can't approach the standards of journalism - and sometimes do.

But, of course, I've used this trick my whole life: My zine is a personal project meant for fun, so if I get anything wrong, if I am woefully misinformed or just plain stupid on a subject, I just laugh and say "Zine!" and I am excused. This allows me to say the most fantastic things and get away with it.

If you want your zine or DIY project to be taken seriously as journalism, you have to be up front about it and adhere to some basic principles. You have to own your ignorance and mistakes. If a zine does that, sure, it can be journalism.

What weight do you give to the aesthetic of a fanzine, as opposed to the content?

None, as a rule. Have you *seen* my zine? It's hideous. And when I come across zines in the wild, the ones I like are the ones filled with text.

That's personal, though. I am a word guy, not an image guy. I have seen some gloriously beautiful zines, visually speaking, in my time. It's just I value words over images and design. Part of this is my inability to create something visually beautiful. Since I can't do it, I don't value it.

Do you feel that The Inner Swine is tied geographically to where you live? By that I mean, if you lived elsewhere, would it be radically different; could it only come from the mind of someone who lies in Hoboken?

No, but of course it *is* a product of a man who has lived his whole life in this area, so of course there are cultural things in there. They're largely invisible to me, of course.

Where else has the fact you produce TIS taken you in life?

Anywhere you would otherwise have never got to? Nope, but that's a product of me being generally antisocial. I always rejected the idea of "community". When I started putting out TIS and I connected with other DIY publishers, there was some sentiment that I had joined a "community" and had resultant privileges and duties, which I always ignored. As a result I don't go to any gatherings or get involved with any zine-related things. I am a rock. I am an island.

I do get quite a lot of letters from prisoners as a result of giving TIS away free to prisoners. This has been universally entertaining, I have to admit. And I wouldn't have done it otherwise.

What has been your proudest achievement since TIS began?

You mean zine-related? Probably a tie between keeping it going for 15+ years and putting out the collection, "The Freaks are Winning". Getting that collection out (with the help of the awesome clint johns at Tower Magazines) was pretty cool!

Dean Freeman

2011 Summer Festival Roundup PT2

(Part 1)

Indietracks - 29-31st July

An Indiepop festival at a Railway Museum in rural Derbyshire

Last year’s festival of the year obviously had a lot to live up to. And what it provided was simply more of the same. Indietracks is what it is. Due to where it takes place, it cant grow any larger or expand. It just does what it does, which is provide obscure and brilliant Indiepop in a lovely setting (9). The site is small, but the fields in the distance and the trains in the foreground offer a vibrant yet quaint place to spend a weekend. Value for money (7) is a different issue. The weekend ticket is a fair £70 and prices within the festival itself are acceptable. It does suffer from the lack of on site camping, meaning the only real option is to go to the private one next door at £25 a night. As this is integral to the festival I’m deducting points under VFM instead of camping. It heaps the price up massively.

The range of bands this year was, to my uneducated Indiepop mind, a little lacking. There were what I presume were great bookings from bands all over Europe, mixed in with local up and coming and various legends (7). What was lacking was a genre straddling ‘big name’. Edwin Collins and Herman Dune were interesting, and quality, but I needed something more. It’s designed as a niche festival, I accept, but after the brilliance of the lineup last year, the score had to come down. However the stages (8), exactly the same as last year were still pleasingly variant.

The facilities (8) were great (I’ve never seen so many decent toilets at a festival) and there was plenty of parking and all that. Food & Drink options seemed a little more limited than last year, but what was there was fine and fairly priced (7). The inclusion of local ales was a big plus.

Excluding the actual price of camping, as mentioned, the quality of the campsite was the best at any festival this year (9). There was plenty of room for a start. Millions of water taps and often cleaned toilets. Very good showers, if you are into that kind of thing. And an onsite shop for forgotten items. They also put on an after party in a marquee if you want to party into the early hours. I guess the only downside is the 10 minute walk to the actual site, prohibiting the old ‘nipping back to the tent for a beer’ thing.

The organisation was well put together, with plenty of helpful staff directing cars and sorting out any problems (7). Kind of runs itself in many ways. The vibe (9) is hugely laid back, more like a gathering of friends. Because of that, perhaps, there isn’t often a rush of excitement when a band hits the stage. But it is very appreciative and inclusive and celebratory and the general atmosphere is what makes the festival the success it is. I had a great time at this years Indietracks (8). It scores lower because the sense of something new wasn’t there and I realised I wasn’t as big a fan of Indiepop as I thought (last year I was deceived by a more Indie…rock? Lineup). I still love Indietracks and it is a festival to be proud of. The lack of a hook for me personally altered the scorings but overall the festival continues to provide for its fans, which seems to be enough.

Score: 79%

Clarence Park

A Free festival in a park, Wakefield

Bar a break for a couple of years, Clarence Park Festival has been running since the early 90’s and is organised by the ‘Wakefield Music Collective’. That is to say, a group that calls itself the Wakefield Music Collective, not a collective of Wakefield musicians / promoters etc.

The value for money is unarguable (10) since it is free. The setup seems to change from year to year, but 2011 saw one main stage, the bandstand, with some bands also in the beer tent. It’s a nice location (8), especially on a sunny day, with a large grassy hillside rising up from the front of the decent sized stage. Parkland surrounds if you want to go for a wander and Wakefield Town Centre is just a 10/15 minute walk away.

The bands and artists were traditionally a mix of local acts and travelling ones. This year we had a pretty lacklustre collection of bands (3). We had diversity, but quality? The thing that really winds me up about Clarence is that it makes no effort whatsoever to represent what is happening in Wakefield. The scene Rhubarb Bomb knows and supports was represented by Piskie Sits alone who had the honour of playing in the beer tent at midday. This band has been part of Wakefields live music scene for nearly ten years.

I don’t know what the criteria is but the only audience it seems to be catering to are people who just need a bit of background music to their mid afternoon beer drinking. Or ‘families‘. Which is fine, but it could be so much better. The stage itself is a great focal point (7), it’s just a shame that there aren’t two stages, as there used to be, as change overs are slow and disrupt the flow of the day.

Facilities (5) are basic as can be, as is the food and drink options (6). Thankfully Ossett Brewery were supplying the booze which added much needed local flavour. Elsewhere, the absolute bare minimum. Just the same lack of imagination evident in the lineup. Where are the local producers? Farm shops, cake shops, RHUBARB! Something to give it some character. As for accommodation, you aren’t really expected to camp so the general score is 5, but I’ll give it one more (6) since it finishes nice and early, in time to get the bus home.

Organisation (3).Again, I’m coming from the perspective of someone who spends a lot of time trying to promote Wakefield and culture within it.. Turnaround times were mammoth and a general sense of chaos and lack of direction prevailed. In short not very professional. Is that important? Well, as ‘Wakefield’s longest running festival’, yes, it is. Because to be going this long and be this inept sends out a message to the audience, to the bands playing, to Wakefield in general. To be this half-arsed is OK. Perhaps ‘professional’ is not the word. It should have been ‘Is this inspirational?’ That IS important. And the lack of cohesion and vision in the organisation brings the whole thing crashing down. Hence a poor score for the general atmosphere (5), though people just out for a sit on a hill enjoyed themselves.

Clarence is a frustrating experience (4) for anyone artistically driven. The opportunities for improvement scream out to anyone with half a brain. If this were the festivals first year, I would be right behind it. The knowledge that this is the result of so many years work is simply depressing.

Score 57%

Leeds Festival - Sunday 28th August

1 Day at the massive festival in Bramham Park.

As detailed in the review at the time, Leeds Fest was a refreshing change from the rest of the festivals this year and despite reservations, a decent conclusion to the summer festival season that gave me something to think about. But here at the fest of the year awards (please note there is no physical award) we about cold, hard scoring. So here we go.

Value you for money is always tricky (6). But £90 for a day (placing it as more expensive than most whole weekends in these reviews) is pretty massive. I want a lot for that. All in, food and booze if you are really going for it, you are probably near £200 for the day out. But it can still be good value. In terms of amount of bands, you do pretty well. And variety too. But by my reckoning you have 11 hours of music over the day. With going to the bar and eating, I reckon you will do well to see 9 full sets. At a tenner a pop, it’s ok if you see all the biggies. But only just. If you pop to the Introducing stage, maybe not. I still think it is over priced as, aside from the bands, there is little else going on.

The setting (6) is non descript, a big festival plonked randomly in the countryside. The only engagement with nature is the churning of grass into mud. The drive in was great though, I hadn’t realised how beautiful the surroundings were. I wish they could find a way to make better use of the park. Couldn’t they open up a few other fields, just wide open fields with hay bales to sit on and acoustic acts and NO FENCES OR BURGER VANS? It would be nice to escape in to the country for when it all gets too much.

Band wise, well, nothing much took my fancy in terms of big names, but the variety is there big time. I saw some new things I liked, some I didn’t but I was grateful for the choice (8) and the amount of stages and the quality (9) meant there was always something going on somewhere, contributing to a bustling, energetic atmosphere.

The toilets! Yes, no problems this year, no horror stories as previously, which is good considering I was there on Sunday. But I only went once, so maybe I got lucky. Still a shortage of them though (6). The quality of the food outlets is alright, the quantity overwhelming. I think it’s just a sign of festivals improving generally that the old cliché of the dodgy burger van has all but vanished. Still, would have liked to have seen stalls selling more local stuff, something to tie it in to, y’know Leeds and Yorkshire and that. And some cheaper options.

Probably the biggest reason I haven’t returned to Leeds is the camping. I didn’t mind it when I was younger but I couldn’t deal with it now. I didn’t stay over this time, but I make my judgements from the condititions in the GUEST camping section, which were pretty terrible. The main issue is overcrowding. So many tents are squashed together, I find it awful. I like the camping aspect of it, the social thing. I like making my tea there and having a mid afternoon can back at base. I found it all very uninviting and rather unsafe. God knows what it would be like at night (5).

Organisation was impressive I thought, with everything running smoothly from arrival to departure with one massive exception. There were no timetables available. Anywhere. I saw one guy selling programmes for a £10 outside. I didn’t get one and never saw anyone again. Not that I’d want a weekend programme anyway. But I didn’t know what time any bands were on. Bar staff couldn’t help. I found a tiny A4 timetable on the outside of the Alternative tent but had to rely on asking passers by for the rest of the stage times. I really enjoy looking at the schedule and planning my day, instead I was left wondering aimlessly. Terrible (but overall, pretty good – 7)

And so, the vibe. Well, go to my Leeds Fest review for more detail here. There was a positive, excited, frantic vibe; part 18-30 holiday, part musical exploration. You kind of need to be outside yourself to enjoy which I think means being a combination of a) young b) drunk c) REALLY into music. If you start thinking too much it doesn’t work. But if you are out for a good time and/or really want to see lots of music it works. It’s just tiring amongst the crowds and doesn’t often feel inclusive, bar great moments on the main stage (7).

But I enjoyed it (7), more than I expected. It does its job. But it’s far from being the best of the year because it lacks something very important; personality.


2011 Summer Festival Roundup PT1

Live@Leeds - 30th April

A Multi Venue All Day trip around the city of Leeds

For the third year running, the Rhubarb Bomb festival season begins with Live@Leeds. The scale of the event works to its advantage for me. I never get a feeling of fatigue when considering Live@Leeds, because I always end up somewhere different. I don’t dread sitting in the same soggy field that I was in last year; it’s something I very much look forward to.

This year saw a price increase on the ticket. It’s still £17.50 for a massive amount of bands and as such value for money is a definite plus (9). That the festival takes place in a city is a plus point too (8). I’ve actually rated that one higher than last year – though I assure you, it is the same city. The difference is that I appreciate the city festival more now. It has so much to offer and it is so easy to make a brilliant day out of it. The only negative would be if you happen to go there a lot anyway. I don’t as much as I used to, so I enjoy it.

The selection of bands this year almost matched the standards of previous years (8). A big negative for me was the scheduling, in that every big band seemed to hit the stage at the same time, which was likely a ploy to enable them to run at a larger capacity. Although not the organisers fault, I also found myself only visiting 3 venues, due to scheduling. I missed the element of walking around the entire city from previous years, but the lineup didn’t draw me enough. I had to decide my final band out of a range of 3 or 4 and reverse engineer the day, which means I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked.

However, for pure levels of choice, Live@Leeds is pretty unbeatable. The range of venues (9) is colossal, meaning you can be lazy and hang around your favourites, or head out and explore. With events taking place in spaces as different as the uni and tiny Milo’s it’s a great experience.

The fact it all takes place in venues that already run and exist means to facilities all round are above your general festival standard (8) and the range of food and drink options is staggering (10). None of them are officially connected to the festival, but you have the choice of anything from a quick Subway to a full sit down meal and, aside from the range of venues included, you can always sneak off for a cheeky Sammy Smiths pint, or for an overpriced cocktail. Totally down to you, and I enjoy building my day around a top quality meal.

Accomodation (5) does lose Live@Leeds some points. Obviously, camping is not included, or an option. I would like to see some kind of discount service set up with a hotel chain, or some other options explored. A taxi home is a good £25 for me, so some form of accommodation might offer another option.

There was some good organisation (8) on display this year – ticket exchange was brisk, staff were very helpful, through to the doormen and the bar staff. Areas for improvement would be the placing of bands in venues. The Well was a problem again, with their room being rammed full and no one managing punters trying to squeeze in. Are they booking bands too big for that venue? Or is it just fluke they get the cult favourites? It’s two years running I’ve not been able to get in there now.

The overall vibe of the festival (8) is a positive one; music lovers wandering the streets on the lookout for something amazing. I marked it down slightly last year for lacking a sense of community due to the way it is spread thinly across the city. I would say the festival lacks an overriding ‘personalilty’ or atmosphere; you are largely left to create your own buzz and you don’t especially feel part of something, unless you make the effort. But the tools are given to you to do that, so ultimately it is down to you.

This year I thoroughly enjoyed myself, DESPITE not getting to see or do much. I wasn’t too pleased with the scheduling and I have a suspicion the festival is really starting to spread itself too thin. For this reason, it has ended up with a slightly lower score than last year. But, though having some reservations, I had a fantastic day (8) out for very little money and will still massively look forward to it next year.

SCORE: 80%

Wireless Festival - 3rd July

3 Day Festival in Hyde Park, London.

A newbie for Rhubarb Bomb, Wireless was a three day festival that I attended on its final day only. For this there was one reason, and one reason only; Pulp. It had been the first date announced when their reunion was confirmed and my eager friend gobbled up some tickets whilst I was in Japan. As a massive Pulp fan, he knew I’d be chuffed to see them.

So initially the £50 entry fee had seemed a bit of a rip off, until I realised it wasn’t a Pulp gig, but a whole day of music. There were numerous stages with bands on all day, and although some were the kind you would have seen at a festival 10 years ago, overall the value was pretty decent (8). The setting itself was rudimentary. Though the idea of a festival in a park in London sounds good, and the excitement walking through the park towards the site, seeing people play cricket and sunbathe really brought on the summer atmosphere, once you were inside, it was like any other corporate festival. And once you were in, you weren’t allowed back out, so in theory it could have been held anywhere (6).

There was a decent range of bands; from The Horrors, to The Hives; from Roky Erikson to Yuck. But in fairness nothing that really excited me as I was there for Pulp only. I didn’t feel encouraged to go seek out new bands as I already had an impression (whether correct or not) of those on the lineup. It would only take a couple more bands to have swayed it (for fans of Grace Jones for example, the score would be much higher). As it was, the bands I saw were good background music whilst waiting for the main act (7). The stages themselves were typical big festival set ups. Absolutely fine, but nothing interesting or unique, though the sound was decent throughout (7)

The facilities (7) were above average, with stewards managing toilet queues. The range of Food stalls was great and the prices not too steep. Drinks wise, prices were impressively low, with a pint under £4 – cheaper than the pubs just outside the festival. Course, as a northerner I was always going to feel scandalised (7).

Accomodation issues (5) as this wasn’t a camping festival. Again, no effort to help out financially with overnight stays – perhaps more crucial in London than anywhere else. We were lucky in that we found a very reasonable hostel. But no thanks to the organisers.

The organisation was standard throughout (7). As mentioned, good work with the toilets, though there were problems with huge queues getting into the site. The tickets had barcodes on, so surely it should have been a doddle? I think it was the very security conscious security guards holding things up, which is hard to complain about, but I will because we missed two bands waiting to get in. And it’s not like they were thorough as I sneaked in 3 cans of Strongbow upon my person.

The general vibes were good, in that the sun was out and there were plenty of places to sit and chat whilst taking in the tunes. The image the festival was trying to project (as mentioned in my review) was confused – it wasn’t some ultra cool youth orientated event; it was a pleasant but ultimately bland festival. The relaxed vibes were appreciated, it should try build on that instead (7).

My overall enjoyment was massive – but thanks to Pulp. If this were judged as a Pulp gig with ‘extras’ it would score a lot higher. But as an actual festival? Doesn’t make the grade. It is COMPLETELY dependent on the line-up. You wouldn’t go to just hang out and check out some new bands. It doesn’t have the personality or the bands for that. All said, I had an amazing time watching Pulp, who were fantastic and the rest of the day was a build up to that, in a safe and steady environment (7). If there were someone brilliant playing next year, I’d be happy to go but otherwise I wouldn’t even consider it.


Latitude - 15th – 17th July

Massive Arts Festival in a forest in Suffolk

Latitude was the first ‘big’ festival RB had encountered for a few years. As such there was a mix of excitement and serious doubts. Could I really be bothered with the crowds and the mess and the hassle? Thankfully, Latitude turned my expectations on their head and it lived up to the 2nd hand hype I’d received from various friends.

As it’s a large festival, it has a large price, in the region of £170. But for that you get an AMAZING array of entertainment. If you approach it as a music festival you may be disappointed; compared to something like Leeds Festival it doesn’t have the biggest names or the sheer amount of bands. But the ones it has are great. Quality not quantity. The attraction for me though was the other things, which are given equal billing; the comedy, the theatre, literature, film. The kind of thing I wouldn’t go out of my way to see usually, but it’s all there for you and you end up places you wouldn’t expect. It IS a lot of money, but in terms of what you get, brilliant (8).

As for the setting, well I loved it (10). It was a big site, bit it wasn’t crushed at all. Some elements were typical corporate festival, meaning lots of stalls and open spaces. But there wasn’t advertising everywhere. Even the big screens by the stage, between bands, weren’t showing ads. Just the logo. So it has the advantages of the large festival, but then also exploits the landscape to genius effect. There are stages hidden in the woods. Performances take place on and in the lake. It feels like every nook and cranny has something going on, yet you still feel like you are in the countryside and away from ‘life’. A perfect balance.

As mentioned the range and quality of the artists is exceptional (9). I don’t know much about theatre but my friend did and he assured me some of the stuff there was a major coup for Latitude. Some performances were Latitude exclusives, never to be repeated. Perhaps the only downside for me was the lack of an AMAZING headliner, but fuck it, they had The Cribs; they were headliners for me.

The range and number of stages was excellent but one major downside for me was that some were far too small. Perhaps it’s more a ticket / organisation issue, but I missed a lot of things I wanted to see because I couldn’t get into the tent. Fair enough, some were just really busy, but I question the logic of putting a Q&A with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in the tiny Film Tent. Still, it’s likely me and my lack of recent big festival experience (7)

Range and quality of food and drink was good. The choice of food was endless and these days, with a tiny budget I tend to cook at the tent. So it was really hard to decide which stall to visit with for our one allotted ‘bought meal’. Beer was pleasingly cheap for a festival too, around £3.50 for a pint and bars were plentiful and we rarely had to queue. (8)

I heard mixed reports on the camping. There were issues with water supply at some campsites. Ours was fine and there was plenty of space, but then again, it was ‘guest’ camping. From what I saw of the main camping areas, they were slightly squashed in but totally manageable and close to the main site (8).

Organisation was good (8) and I felt like everything was under control. From people managing toilet queues (and explaing how the female urinals worked) to the masses of ‘helpers’ stood around waiting for questions and offering directions, it seemed well managed. It was good to see so many staff around. The bar system with the recyleable cups was a great idea too, and worked without a hitch.

The vibe around site was spot on (9) with no scenes of idiotic inebriation witnessed, instead a polite and engaged crowd. I accept that my tastes may have changed and younger crowds may find it a little too steady, but I felt very much at home there. It was certainly one of the best festivals I’ve been to (8) and perhaps my actual enjoyment was only brought down by the weather, which is well beyond the fault of the organisers, but it did make life a little more difficult. With an improvement there and a couple more bands I REALLY want to see, plus being able to get in the tents and we would have something close to a perfect outdoor festival experience. Im just hoping I can afford to go next year.

SCORE: 83%

Issue 2.2 Released

Issue 2.2 of Rhubarb Bomb is here! There's allsorts in there, which i am not going to spoil by listing here. But there are some great comment articles about things as varied as First Wedding Dances, Swimming in North Yorkshire and The Riots. And some music bits too, including our festival of the year round up. Just go get one really, and have a read.

RB is available for free from a variety of places. Distribution begins today, so keep an eye on our TWITTER or FACEBOOK to find out where.

As ever, thanks to all the writers, photographers and the uber designer Copy Paste Repeat for making it all possible. Enjoy x

Friday, 16 September 2011

Johnny Foreigner / Runaround Kids Video

We apologise for the lack of Vlogs recently. We really enjoyed doing them but unfortunately we had two cameras die on us and just didnt have the pennies to fix em. However, we might have the capabilities to produce more - we're gonna give it a go at Richmond Fontaine next week. As it goes, we have managed to retrieve some footage from back in April when Johnny Foreigner and Runaround Kids played a free gig at The Hop. It was the day Runaround Kids finished recording their debut album 'Linked Arms' which of course is awesome. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Elks release Live @ Long Division EP

As you may recall, Rhubarb Bomb put on a festival back in June called Long Division. Did we mention that? Well, turns out that Elks, who played what i reckon to be the noisiest set of the day, recorded their efforts and have now released it FOR FREE on bandcamp. How good is that? Fans of hard rocking, gigantic grinding riffs should head HERE for a look. If you aren't sure, check out this video of part of the set

Friday, 2 September 2011

Podcast - Episode 7

The new Rhubarb Bomb Podcast is available to download for free through iTunes. Just click HERE.

It's a quick blast through the things that have caught RB's ear over the last month, with tracks from Labyrinth Ear, Tiny Fireflies, The Spills, Red Riding Quartet, Post War Glamour Girls and Richmond Fontaine, as well as information on upcoming gigs and the new issue of RB, which will be out at the end of September. We hope you enjoy it, and spread the word!