Friday, 27 July 2012

The Do's Interview

We speak to Elliot of up and coming Wakefield band The Do’s about the recording of their first EP, set to be released on Philophobia Music in the Autumn.

After releasing a demo, and then appearing on the excellent PHOP split, what are your hopes for your first proper solo release?

If the EP sells anywhere near as well as the Spectemur Agendo EP that we were featured on we will be chuffed to bits. Rather than sitting back and leaving it all up to Rob Dee (Philophobia Music) we're going to promote it as much as possible ourselves by taking it to gigs and that. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of self promotion so long as you’re not shoving it down peoples throats.

You are recording at Greenmount Studios - known for a pretty stripped back but upfront sound. What are your hopes for the sound of the EP? Will it be a live sounding beast or will you be experimenting?

I think me and Matty would pay to go to Greenmount just to watch the vintage tape machines go round and round. Its a great place to record especially as Lee, Rob and Jamie get what we're about, The first thing Jamie ever said to me when he first did the sound for us at The Hop was "Do you want it sounding massive?" and i just thought "I like him already." We're kinda keeping the sound the same as our other releases but we have been experimenting with song structures. We had some constructive criticism about the length of some of the songs and I think we had the new band thing where we were slightly too in love with our own riffs but we've been concentrating on that and now we think if the song don't need it then leave it out. No middle eights for the sake of it.

What format will the record be released in, how many tracks are we talking?

It's going to be on CD and download and available through Philophobia Music. I think we're aiming for four tracks

You have a pretty big sound for a two piece, have the reactions to your live show being positive?

Yeah we've had some great feedback. I kind of think it's funny that some people might look at the two of us on stage before we play and think the bass player hasn't turned up. I think the best show we've had so far and the most fun was at Long Division, We had a really good crowd and really enjoyed it. It's always nice when someone comes up to you after the gig and says that they enjoyed it too.

How have the songs come together for the EP? How is the songwriting / arranging split between the two of you?

I usually bring a riff or song idea to rehearsal but they're never really finished. I’ll show it to Matty and we just work on it and try to give it a structure. Matty is good at that side of things, he comes up with good ideas for structures. I'm enjoying been in this band more than any other that I’ve been in before because of him. He's not just the drummer in our band, he's my best mate.

Words: Dean Freeman
Photo: John Jowett

Thursday, 26 July 2012

How Retarded Fish supported The Cribs...

By Dan Stringer

My phone vibrates and makes the familiar 3-tone melody that indicates a message from someone via Twitter. Its 11:14 am on Sunday 26th February 2012, and the message I’m about to read will instigate one of the greatest nights of my life. It’s from Andrew Jarvis - Jarv.

@ADMJMonsson to @disgustindesign: The Cribs are looking at getting RF to support them in WF. Need to borrow any recordings you have x

I read the message. Then read it again out loud. My wife looks at me with a puzzled expression, and I read it again. The Cribs are looking at getting RF to support them in WF.  I start typing.....

@disgustindesign to @ADMJMonsson: Really?

I then follow this up with.....

@disgustindesign to @ADMJMonsson: I’m well up for it like!

Well, you would be wouldn’t you? I mean, playing in your home town with the biggest credible musical export the place has ever known, people who just happen to be your mates, and proper nice guys. Why wouldn’t you want to play a gig like that?

Later that day we went to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner as usual. I hadn’t had a reply from Jarv so after mentioning it briefly to the family I thought no more of it. Funnily enough, that night I was going to meet my mate Neil Laird at the Flanshaw rehearsal room his band Clown (and a few other Wakefield bands – Imp, Runaround Kids Piskie Sits etc) rent with a view to using it the week after for a bit of a musical session with Jarv and Sam Smyth. I text Jarv to let him know I’d been and we were sorted for the next Sunday, and couldn’t resist ending the text with “.....were you serious about the Cribs support?” and a reply came back almost instantly. “They seemed serious, yeah. Greg (Greg Jones – formerly of Wakefield bands Homegroan and Cone) wants to play bass and I’ve demanded loads of cash. We’ll see x”.

It turns out that the previous night Jarv and Greg were out and about in town and while in the Inns bumped into Gary and Ryan - Gary was over from Portland for the mini-UK tour. After a few drinks and a bit of talk about the old days, the subject of a Retarded Fish reunion arose, and there was talk of a support slot at the home town gig.

I knew the Cribs were looking into a home town gig. Their 10 year anniversary was creeping up, and the idea had been discussed a couple of times over a drink in the Inns with Ryan and Jamie Lockhart in January. The Theatre Royal had been mentioned, and we’d joked about how it could be a proper theatrical performance, with ushers showing the audience to their seats, and ice cream vendors between bands. Unity Hall was also mentioned as a venue, but having later attended one of the tours to promote the share issue, it soon became apparent that the state of the building would make this a difficult proposition.

Ryan often asked “ Stringer, when are Retarded Fish gonna get back together?” but to be honest it’s not something I’d really considered, and something I doubted the other band members would have considered either.

So, Retarded Fish. Well it all started in 1994 in and around the music scene based mostly at the now closed Players, and involving mostly students from Wakefield College. The smoker’s room in the refectory was the hangout for the people in bands as well as the people who came to the gigs. There was always a great atmosphere in that room, people playing cards, talking about music, and just doing what 16 and 17 year olds do.

I’d known Andrew Jarvis, Sam Smyth, Damian Ellis, and Scott Ward from St. Thomas a Beckett School. We weren’t really close to be honest and ours paths didn’t cross that often, only having the occasional conversation about Iron Maiden, and metal, buts that’s about it.

One Friday night we were all in Players, there were some bands on and after the last band finished I thought – in my inebriated state – that it would be a great idea to get on stage and treat the remaining audience to a 5 minute drum solo. This went swimmingly, and in effect was my audition for Retarded Fish. The other guys had been discussing forming a band back at school and had already come up with the name Retarded Fish and my solo performance came just at the right time. To coin a football phrase, I’d put myself in the shop window.

The line up was as follows. Andrew Jarvis – Vocals, Sam Smyth – Lead Guitar, Scott Ward – Rhythm Guitar, Damian Ellis – Bass, and yours truly, Dan Stringer – Drums.

We rehearsed in my bedroom. I was fortunate enough to have a good sized room, and as my drums were there it made sense. My parents were very supportive and enjoyed having the guys round, feeding and watering us all.

The songs were - as you might expect for a bunch of 16 and 17 year old kids – quite basic. Song titles such as Kill the Fish, Sacrificial Chickens, and Biblical Custard give a fair impression of our output.

Although I’d been playing drums for 3 or 4 years by this point, I wasn’t that great. I don’t think the other guys in the band would dispute that they were in a similar position, but playing together helped us all develop together.

After a few months writing and practising, we played our first gig at the Post Haste (now the Snooty Fox) on Thursday 3rd November 1994. The set consisted of 5 or 6 of our own songs, plus a couple of Nirvana covers and a cover of the theme tune to the legendary Australian late-night series Prisoner Cell Block H. This song remained a mainstay of the set right until the end.

The next gig was the following day. At Players.

I remember the atmosphere being amazing, mainly because all the same people that graced the smokers room at college were in the band room upstairs. My first run-in with Dave Carney was on this night. I’d taken a few of my own cans of Woodpecker Cider in while setting up the drums, and when questioned as to where I had got them from I said I’d bought them downstairs at the bar. “We don’t fucking sell Woodpecker” he replied, before instructing me to get rid. I never crossed Dave again. I didn’t dare!

Over the next few months we gigged quite a bit around Wakefield, and entered the Wakefield Battle of the Bands competition in May 1995. This was held at Unity Hall, and was the first time we played a gig with a proper stage, lights, a drum riser, and a room backstage! It was a good do. We didn’t win, some metal band with a proper poser guitarist who reminded me of Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme won.

As we later found out an NME interview with Gary from October 2009 that this was also Gary and Ryan’s first gig, or it was supposed to be! They were politely kicked out by a nice old fella in a jumper. They didn’t miss much.

This was also the last gig we played with Ellis on bass. It was a tough decision to sack him, but he wasn’t turning up to practice (girlfriend issues!) and wasn’t quite developing as a musician like the rest of us. That sounds harsh, we weren’t by any means aficionados, but it just seemed the right time for a change. It was down to me to break the news. I’ve no idea how that was decided but during a fag break in rehearsal I sat him down on my bed and told him he was out. He took it so well, which made it worse.

We had a big gig only a few weeks later at Clarence Park, playing on the back of an HGV trailer, so at short notice we recruited the aforementioned Neil Laird (Homegroan, Clown) to fill in. We already had a replacement in mind for Ellis, so shortly after that Daniel Jennings joined the band on bass.

By this time, we had a fairly decent set of songs, and in June we were asked to record a demo by Phil Greenwood – Guitarist in Homegroan. We’d gigged a lot with Homegroan over the past 6 months and got to know them pretty well. Phil was doing a music technology course in Huddersfield, and somehow managed to get us into the studios for free.

So on Tuesday 27th June 1995, we spent a day recording our 3 best songs – King Frank, ’95, and Don’t. It was a great day out. The weather was amazing and we pretty much nailed the 3 songs one after the other. Tim Bradley (Homegroan, Dugong, Protectors) was also there to help Phil out. We got the name of the demo that day too.

During breaks in the recording, we went to this tiny little shop across the road run by an old guy. He sold a small selection of sweets, papers, cigs, and also cups of tea and coffee. Phil had told us earlier in the day that if you ask for a coffee, the guy repeated “a coffee” in a really deep voice.  A coffee was duly ordered, and sure enough the guy replies “a coffee”. This proved to be so memorable that our demo ended up being called A Coffee.

We released the demo on cassette (CD’s weren’t an option for small bands at that point, and vinyl was too expensive and seemed outdated – how ironic!) at a special 1 year anniversary gig at the Red Shed on Saturday 4th November 1995. It was a great bill, with Cone (the band that evolved into Milloy) opening, then our regular gigging buddies Homegroan. We played our longest ever set, mainly due to a blown fuse and a broken guitar string! It was a great night, and I still sometimes put the old VHS recording of that gig on and have a good laugh.

The gigs continue and in April/May 1996 we went into the studio at the Thorne’s Park campus of Wakefield College (another freebie?) and started recording the next batch of songs we were playing – Peach Flannel, Popping Crease, and Pop Bastard. If I recall correctly, we got the drum and bass tracks down and some of the guitar, but that was about it. Where these recordings are now I don’t know, they sounded pretty good too, a really heavy sound.

The main reason for the slowdown in activity was my departure to university. We were a bright bunch, but for some reason I was the only member to make it straight to university from college. I can’t remember a last rehearsal, a last gig. I can’t remember us sitting down and talking about splitting up. It just seemed to happen.

On a positive note, my departure lead the way for the formation of Dugong. Jarv switched to bass, Scott to drums (replaced shortly after by Tim Bradley), Sam stuck to guitar, and they were joined by Matt Broadbent on vocals.

For me, that was the main reason I didn’t think Jarv and Sam would consider a reunion. For me Retarded Fish was the pinnacle of my time in bands. I’d dabbled here and there while at university in Middlesbrough, and again while living in Manchester but nothing ever got off the ground. It just didn’t feel right. Dugong had gone on to achieve great things releasing some amazing stuff on Bombed Out Records, touring in Germany etc. and were a big part of the next wave of Wakefield bands that also included Pylon and the Cribs.
Jarv then got involved with Nathaniel Green again on bass, and again gaining a solid following. Sam had moved to Leeds during the Dugong days, and has been involved with a number of bands since Dugong split.
Would they want to take a step backwards to Retarded Fish? Would Jarv sing? COULD Jarv sing?

A week had passed since my Twitter message from Jarv, and we were on our way to Leeds to see the Cribs play at the Metropolitan University. I’m ashamed to say this would be the first time seeing the Cribs live. I’d tried and had tickets a couple of times before but events conspired against me and I never made the shows so I was determined to enjoy this.

The gig was amazing, and afterwards I got talking to Mrs Jarman. It’s easy to see how these boys turned out so nice as she’s a lovely woman, and after being given her AAA pass I headed backstage to try to get a pass for Jarv too. I opened the door to the dressing room, and was slightly taken a back. Not due to the debauched behaviour of the band. No. Retarded Fish were blasting out from the bands MP3 player!
Ryan had tweeted earlier in the week that they were listening to Retarded Fish in the van, but this was a real shock, a pleasant shock. I got Jarv a pass and headed back to get him. It was great to have a few rum and cokes with the guys post gig and I couldn’t resist asking about the support offer. I wasn’t sure if Jarv was winding me up, so I asked Gary. Sure enough he confirmed it. If the night hadn’t been good enough already, well that was the cherry on the cake. I went to bed a happy chap.

The day after the gig, I met up with Sam and Jarv for our session in the Flanshaw rehearsal room. We were getting together under the moniker Badgekisser, something we dabbled with around 2000, originally with me on bass, Jarv on drums, and Sam on guitar. We played our only gig at Players, a mainly instrumental set and nothing to write home about.

We had a great time, coming out of the 3 hour rehearsal with 3 songs - moderately heavy, no lyrics. It did however give us an opportunity to have a chat about the offer from the Cribs though, and although I was eager Jarv wasn’t that keen, and I think Sam thought we were just taking the piss but he said he’d do it.
A few weeks passed and nothing more had been said, other than a bit of banter in the pub with Jarv and Greg. If I’m being honest, I was having doubts as to whether this was going to happen. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe that the Cribs boys wanted us to do it, just that it seemed to be something way above anything we’d done before, and a long long time after we’d split.

Then out of the blue on Saturday 17th March I had text off Ryan.

“Alright man, I know Gaz asked you if RF wanted to play at the Opera House with us on May 16th, was this something you wanted to/could do?”

I replied back straight away.

“Of course mate, I’d do it in a heartbeat! All the RF boys are up for it”

This wasn’t exactly true. As I said Greg was keen, Sam had agreed to do it, but Jarv was another story. I thought back to the original message on Twitter, how he’d asked for copies of recordings. That was surely an indication that he’d do it right?

Ryan replied: “Cool, will get back to you about it when it’s sorted”

This was great, proper confirmation that it was happening. I text Sam, but I still got the feeling he didn’t believe me!

I was meeting Jarv and Greg later that night at the Inns so I planned to sell it to Jarv then. I got there a bit early, and was chatting to Rob Dee about my text from Ryan when I got a text off Jarv saying he wasn’t well and was crying off, and just as I read it Greg arrived. I updated Greg with the news from Ryan straight away, he was pretty excited about it. I had someone to help me persuade Jarv.

Later that night Ross came into the Inns, we chatted for a bit, and again the gig came up.

“It’s definitely gonna happen” he said.

Right, this was getting serious now.

A few days later, I tweeted Jarv, Sam and Greg about getting together for a bit of a meeting, suggesting the Kings Arms at Heath. We could have some food, bring the wives, partners and kids and just have a bit of a laugh.

So the band meeting happened on Saturday 31st March at the Kings Arms at Heath. It was a nice informal gathering, with my wife and little boy, Greg and his partner and kids, Sam and Jarv (whose better halves were unable to make it) and we arranged 3 practice dates, and made sure we all had the full back-line gear needed for the night (earlier that week Ryan had text to let us know what equipment was needed). Having the wives/partners and kids there really made it sink in how long ago it was since we’d played together as Retarded Fish. We worked back from the 16th May, and organised 3 3-hour practices on Sunday evenings, the first being the 29th April.

Just before the band meeting Jack Daniels sponsorship was announced as part of the JD Roots gigs, and it was announced that the Black Belles were to be supporting all the bands involved. This was a bit of a shock, and at this point I again questioned if this was actually gonna happen. Greg also mentioned he’d thought the same as this band were the protégé of Jack White, over from the US. A big deal really.

Later that week, Ross messaged me on Facebook while he was in the US, and said there was another band on the bill but that we were still playing. He must be telepathic! It put my mind at rest, but another issue had crossed my mind.

On the 5th December 2009, the Cribs played at gig at the Doncaster Dome as part of a 5 date UK tour. A local gig in the festive period sounded like a great thing. The support bands on the tour were Sky Larkin and Los Campesinos! but at the Doncaster gig the Slits were announced as special guests. Sky Larkin and Los Campesinos! probably weren’t a surprise in terms of being support acts, but the Slits were old school punks, there with a personal invitation from the Cribs. I’m sure most of you will know what happened during their set. The fact it was near Christmas, and that most of the people involved were pissed up is no excuse, and the Slits were treated like shit by a section of the Cribs fans. The band nearly didn’t play that night as they were, and I quote "disgusted by the way that a certain minority treated The Slits during their set. The night was marred… by a handful of people throwing coins, beer and generally putting on a disgustingly chauvinistic display of small-mindedness".

The Cribs fans are known for being ultra loyal, which is great, but in my mind I was drawing parallels to the Slits and us. There as special guests personally invited by the band, both with a more punk sound. Even worse though is that the Slits were a professional band, with a real history. If they were treated so badly, how would the Cribs fans treat us? Would we be putting the Cribs in the same position, possibly having to call off their first home-town gig in 5 years?

I didn’t let on to the rest of the band. I didn’t let on to anyone, but this did trouble me for a while. The only thing that put my mind at ease was the reaction from friends old and new about us playing. Everyone seemed genuinely excited, and this triggered a good few weeks of nostalgia talk on Facebook and Twitter, with a Homegroan demo compilation CD doing the rounds and being particularly well received. I figured if enough of our friends were there we’d be fine.

So the first practice came around. Sunday 29th April. The week before we’d swapped recordings and videos of us playing back in the day, so we had something to revise from. Greg had written down what he thought were the correct notes, which weren’t far off. We detuned to accommodate Jarvs slightly lower voice (that’s what smoking a million fags does to you) and cracked on.

The practises progressed well, nervy at first, but gradually we started to get the old songs right. We also started having a really good time, combining practises with trips to the Inns.

A few weeks before I’d suggested putting a Homegroan cover into the set, which everyone seemed to be in to although we all had different ideas as to which song to do. During the first practice, Sam played the first few notes of Yes No Maybe So, and then the rest of us just joined in. Totally natural. We managed to get through most of the song on the first playing, and with that the decision was made.

Our final practice was the night before the gig, a late one. We got there for 9pm and kicked off, running through the set 3 times, then left. By the time I got home it was gone 12 and I was knackered. I headed straight to bed and had no trouble getting to sleep.

So it was the morning of the gig and I woke feeling good, excited rather than nervous. I’d kept my morning free and just chilled with my wife and little boy. We had some breakfast, had a walk into town and did some shopping, and after dropping the practice room keys back with Neil Laird, I packed my drums and the bass amp into my car…

...the conclusion of this story - the actual gig - will appear in Issue 3.2 of Rhubarb Bomb, available from August 2012. Retarded Fish will play a one off headlining show at The Hop on September 7th with That Fucking Tank, Protectors and Imp.

Batman: Death By Design

Batman: Death By Design
Chip Kidd / Dave Taylor
DC Comics

Currently my life is in risk of Batman overload. I’ve just checked out The Dark Knight Rises, have played through Batman: Arkham City and have been working my way through the straight up Batman of DC’s new 52 (I’m also following Justice League, in which he is naturally a main feature). So what possessed me to get another piece of caped crusader related story telling? Well, in what felt like a good old fashioned type of decision making; because of the front cover.

And I’m glad I took the punt because Death By Design is rather different to all the above. I’ll come to the story based differences in a second, because it is Dave Taylor’s design work that really stands out for me. The Gotham of DbD is a mix of grand Fritz Lang ambition and a 1940s New York. That title stems from the themes of architecture around which the story is woven and that shines through in the wonderful panoramas and details of the buildings – not to mention the scale displayed in some of the panels. It’s an intriguing mix, similar to a Tarrantino trick, where we have what seems to be an olde world setting; women are glamorous like Hollywood starlets and men work in the offices of down and out private detectives, whatever their profession. Yet the Bat-man fits into this, despite his batcave and advanced weaponry.

In fact the only weaponry we see from any adversary is a pistol. Nothing overblown or ridiculous. There are some great action sequences, but they make a show out of the setting, the buildings once more taking centre stage. One section is set in a new nightclub; turns out to be a humongous sheet of glass stationed between the heights of Gotham’s skyscrapers, covered in tables and chairs, waiters and Gotham’s elite. What could go wrong?!

This feeds the story which stands in pleasing contrast to those I mentioned in the first paragraph. It’s refreshing to read a story that doesn’t involve saving the entire world, or the whole city from some unthinkable threat. This is a story about the demolition of Gotham’s central station. There are a few of villains in the piece – one classic – and others classical archetypes but given different spins. The smaller scale of the overall story helps the focus stay on the characters and having them live out their lives in such a beautiful setting I found very rewarding.

It’s perhaps because of reading a fair bit of DCs New 52 that I found this so enjoyable. It’s the detail here that wins through. I have very much enjoyed the recent Night Of The Owls storyline, but reading a few of the different lines at once and seeing the constant ads for other up and coming events can be a bit tiring. It’s an industry at the end of the day and they are churning that stuff out. Death By Design is clearly a labour of love; you can see it in every pencil mark, every carefully constructed detail. If you front cover doesn’t immediately win you over like it did me, just flick through a couple of pages and you’ll get the idea. It feels special, its feels like Art. Excellent.

Dean Freeman

Friday, 20 July 2012

Rhubarb Bomb Issue 3.2 Launch

Right on – it’s time to celebrate the launch of our brand new issue. What’s inside? Well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise too much, but we got some interesting bits and pieces revolving around various Wakey folk heading out into the wider world; Runaround Kids Irish Tour Diary, Protectors heading for Japan, Rob Fisher on his journeys around America and Louise Distras on the importance of touring and spreading your message. We take a look at how you go about getting paid for being an artist, the importance of music helping us find meaning in life and the story of how Retarded Fish ended up supporting The Cribs at their 10th anniversary homecoming gig.


But how to launch it? Ok, we invite you to join us at The Orangery on August 4th. We’ll be spinning some vinyl, there’ll be a bar, I might read from the Arnie novelisation I’ve been enjoying recently. There will be a raffle, including the chance to win tickets for Leeds Fest. And there will be a pretty diverse range of bands too:



Wakefield's finest Doom-Pop mavericks, fresh from the release of their astounding 'Midnight In The Sycamore Lounge' album

'A work of wonder and endlessly collapsing beauty from one of the country’s most unique and engaging bands' - Rhubarb Bomb



Having recently being picked up by BBC 6 Music Soulmates Never Die, aka Josh Lewis have been spreading their / his ultra DIY fuzz folk to many a crowd across the land.

'I saw Soulmates Never Die at Long Division and he put on a great show there, confident and quirky but not intimidated by the awesome surroundings of Wakefield’s Old Court Room, this kind of sums up what I enjoyed most; the outsider on the inside sort of vibe that he created there is evident in each of these tracks.' Matt Rhodie for Rhubarb Bomb



In demand contempory folk duo, having recently toured with Fairport Convention and completed their own UK tour. A star studded second album is imminent!

'Not only do they get folk, they have the talent and vision to move it forward.' - Fatea

7:45 Rob Slater (The Spills)


A solo set (or maybe a duo if Chad turns up) from The Spills' frontman. He is amazing and has a lovely beard too

It’s FOUR POUNDS to get into the gig. It’s only TWO POUNDS if you happen to be wearing an official Rhubarb Bomb T-Shirt. And it is FREE if you are under 18 years old. Come and support local music and get talking to some equally passionate people.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ten Reasons To Go See Emma Pollock & RM Hubbert (In Wakefield)

Rhubarb Bomb is incredibly proud to welcome Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert to Wakefield for their joint UK Tour. They will play at The Hop on September 11th. You can get tickets from TicketWeb, Jumbo Records, Crash Records, or The Hop in person. If you are undecided, let me give you ten reasons why you should come along.


Emma Pollock is the co-creator of Chemikal Underground, Rhubarb Bomb’s favourite record label in the world. So not only is she extremely talented, she also has excellent taste. They released the first records by Arab Strap, Mogwai, Interpol, Aereogramme, The Unwinding Hours, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Malcolm Middleton and, of course, The Delgados and are going stronger than ever after nearly twenty years. WOW.


Forever keen to offer value for money in the Merrie City, the Wakefield date of their UK tour (and the only in West Yorkshire) is the cheapest at a mere £8. Why do we insist on this insane policy of putting Wakefield music lovers before our own meagre finances? Because this is a gig you HAVE to see, and we don’t want any excuses.


RM Hubbert is one of the most mesmerizing and unique live artists we’ve seen in a very long time. If you thought you’d seen everything a guy and a guitar had to offer – like I did – then you couldn’t be more wrong. Technically marvellous but not even slightly showy or overblown, he is a master of subtlety, minimalistic suggestion but hugely emotional. And that’s before he even takes to the mic. Very special indeed.


Emma Pollock visited Wakefield for the first time in 2011 (see above) to play Long Division Festival and the gig she played was absolutely rammed. I didn’t even get to see the show myself and it was my festival! But from what I could hear around the door frame and from all the reports that came back, it was exceptional. Her return will be equally impressive (and I’m saving myself a spot this time).


Emma and Hubby will be releasing a limited edition EP available exclusively on this tour. It will feature three new or previously unreleased tracks from each of them.


If you are still not quite believing us in the absolute qualities of Mr RM Hubbert then perhaps the news that his recent album First and Last featured contributions from a plethora of widely acclaimed artists such as Aidan Moffat, Alasdair Roberts and Alex Kapranos will persuade you? And if not, perhaps the fact that he has supported Aidan Moffat, Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor will? Come on, what more do you want?!


Support for the Wakefield show comes from the city’s own St Gregory Orange who have just released their outstanding second album on Philophobia Music. Getting rapturous reviews and 4/5 scorings across the board it is truly one of the best albums we’ve heard in a very long time. And, of course, the last time they played for Rhubarb Bomb was at our fifth birthday celebration, by candle light under a railway arch. In similar fashion, in support of Emma and Hubby they will be leaving the Mac at home and stripping things back to pure acoustics.


Emma Pollock is responsible for creating some of the best albums ever. Ever? Yes, ever. She was a member of The Delgados. Or: Peel Favourites, The Delgados. Or: Mercury Prize Nominees, The Delgados. Or: just go listen to the albums. Some of the best serious guitar pop records ever made, with a beautiful sense of drama and space and longing, came from the band before their split. Since then Emma Pollock has released two solo albums. The first Watch The Fireworks was a continuation of the guitar pop of Delgados but here most recent The Law Of Large Numbers really established her as an artist in her own right.


The Hop is a great place for this gig. Intimate, with a great sound up on the stage. Properly nice beer. Rare tours from widely acclaimed cult artists; those are the kinds of things that usually end up in Leeds. But this one is here in Wakefield. So, if you live in Wakefield; easy. If you’ve never ventured over before; give us a chance and have a lovely evening with Rhubarb Bomb, Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert.


One final reason: this tour will give them a chance to play their duet Half Light from RM Hubbert's recent album. Follow this link to a news story about the tour. Scroll on down and there is a wee music player. Take a listen and enjoy. See you at the gig.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Glitter By Dead Mellotron

Dead Mellotron

It’ll say a lot about how long Dead Mellotron have been on my radar when I say I first came across em on MySpace. It sticks in the memory because they felt like one of the only bands I ever discovered through it – most of it was just rubbish as we all know. But over the course of a couple of free EPs they experimented with various sounds and ideas and approaches. It was always vaguely around an updated My Bloody Valentine esqe thing – closer to the dreamier end of that spectrum, mixed with some interesting beat ideas, whether electronic or kit work.

It’d be fair to say that isn’t a million miles from where we are here, just a hell of a lot more honed and carefully constructed.

For a start we have the mandatory nothing songtitles like Can’t See and Bye but that aside this EP / mini album mixes the classic shoegaze / post rock moves with something a little different, something unseen and hidden in shadow, whilst simultaneously managing to work in some pop grooves too.

The seven tracks all lead into one another forming a large, beautiful, self referencing whole. We have ghostly, indistinct and dreamy vocals, cuts of backwards guitar, euphoric highs and subtle Wurlitzer type lines underneath the whole racket. Somehow, despite hitting every MBV type touchstone, it manages to maintain a character all of its own, a void to get lost in. It’s a trick that was honed over their experimental self releases but arrives perfectly formed for this, their first release proper.

It’s only weaknesses lie in personal taste really. Songs are hard to distinguish from one another because of the structure of the album. I love that personally. There are plenty of little touches that get lost in the first few listens, partly because they sit in the middle of ‘songs’ that already don’t have a start and end. It won’t work so well on yr iPod basically. Personally, I’d rather bang on a whole album at a time anyway.

The record really comes into it’s own over the last few songs, building layers of skyraising epicness, shifting em away, then coming back twice as strong. It’s a work of great detail and very much worth searching out. Don’t be put off by the old MBV comparison; its something I know gets thrown about too much and most who try ape them fail miserably. This is actually rather excellent.

Dean Freeman

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Game-Players Of Titan by Philip K Dick

 Philip K Dick
The Game-Players Of Titan

The quality and / or success of a Philip K Dick novel could well be measured in how many of its ideas have worked their way into popular culture, or have simply been stolen by other writers. That is especially true for TV (the more I read, the more is see what a PKD fan Stephen Moffat must be). The Game-Players Of Titan is interesting in that it now feels like a development in progress that Dick himself pilfered from later in his career.

Structurally it bares some resemblance to earlier works, in particular Vulcan’s Hammer in that a vast, sinister plot is slowly revealed in fairly pedestrian, human terms. As ever with Dick’s work, these events happen to seemingly normal people (though with severe paranoiac issues, naturally) but the looser style of his later years has not yet developed. The narrative is held pretty tight throughout, bar later scenes that do resemble the unsettling, beyond reality experiences encountered by characters in stories like A Scanner Darkly or even VALIS, but they are merely hints. It is in this sense that it works as an interesting prelude to his later, greater work.

The plot itself revolves around a decimated post-intergalactic war torn Earth, in which certain parts of society play The Game, a board game of sorts that requires players to bluff one another. The stakes, that we witness, are large stretches of a derelict America, now overseen by the victorious, but oddly unobtrusive Titan race. Sounds a little B-Movie esqe, admittedly, but a lot of PKD stories do, when laid out. This idea of bluffing is played out nicely across the narrative as various sci-fi traits - people with telepathic and pre cognitive skills and an alien race able to take human form – are added to the mix, drawing out the typically Dickensian paranoia and mistrust centrally to many of his plots.

The Pre-cogs in particular tie this book closely to the superior Ubik released six years later. In that, various combinations of PSI people are used to a similarly disconcerting effect and the general sense of a world not seeming to be exactly what it is – as with almost every PKD book – is completely evident. The only real difference here is that the central idea is not as complete as something like Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?. The plotting is sharper, with more distinct beginning, middle and end sections but it loses some of the wild abandon of later works. So, whilst being interesting in its own right, it also feels transitionary.

The most striking images from the book are of the empty American landscapes. Very much a book of The Cold War, part of the narrative has it that the ‘Red Chinese’ released a biological agent that rendered the majority of Earth’s population sterile, meaning it only holds about 2 million people in total. So we get lots of scenes of characters flying over empty cities and states, whilst trading Salt Lake City for Las Vegas in The Game like they were bottle caps. It reminded me most of the affective scenes from 28 Days / Weeks Later of a disserted London. It is very different from other PKD works, which rely on a claustrophobia of space or technology.

It’s odd to say it, but perhaps the only problem with The Game-Players Of Titan is that it isn’t crazy enough. Or perhaps not human enough. The central conceit doesn’t quite tilt your perspective of the world the way his best works do. But, with all the hallmarks of a typical PKD book, and his easily flowing style intact, it is engaging all the same and is recommended to fans, though not a classic; more a sign of things to come.

Dean Freeman

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wake By Cold Summer

Cold Summer

Cold Summer are a new band on the Wakefield scene, relatively speaking, with some extremely impressive credentials. Their press release details support slots in the region for the recent End of a Year/Self Defence Family and Aficionado tour, a one off show with Nai Harvest and an upcoming slot supporting Lemuria. Couple that with influences such as Thursday and La Dispute and understandably I’m pretty excited about giving this a listen. 

Of the five tracks, opener Waiting and third and fourth tracks A is for Arson and Car Crash (In Progress) are the core “proper” tracks. These stick to a pretty standard quiet loud format shifting back and forth between twiddly picking guitar lines with a bit of a groove feel in places, building to a thicker modern hardcore sound. Think early Lostprophets or Full Collapse era Thursday for the intricate bits, building to heavy guitar and strained/shouted vocals ala Defeater or Touche Amore. Add into the mix plenty of heavy rock riffs throughout (some of which made me think Queens of the Stoneage?) to tie it all together. The two additional tracks are Mistakes, a kind of Sensefield meets Kids in Glass Houses poppy emo piano driven number to close out the record, and title track Wake an ambient brooding filler track after the opener. Wake is for me the highlight of the EP. It’s got that haunting, desperate, Ian Curtis influenced UK hardcore sound perfected by the likes of More Than Life, Hospitals and Dead Swans.

Overall the EP is a well executed and well polished package and the guys should take pride in what they’ve created. But the loud quite format at times lacks cohesion and as a whole it just doesn’t always seem to fit together. There’s a lot of potential here and I’m really keen to see the live show but it does feel like as a new band they’re still finding their feet and their sound.

Who cares what I think anyway this is the digital age check them out for yourself!

The EP is self released through their Bigcartelon 6th August with some nice T’s on offer or check out the Lemuria show at Leeds Cockpit on 4th August.

Martin Bott

7 Days In Havana

Seven Days In Havana
Various Directors

Spanish is one of many languages I have tried and failed to learn. I simply don’t have the knack, time or patience. But mainly the knack. I attempted the learn some basics a few years back when I went to a festival in Spain and visited Cuba within a few months of each other. Nice to know the lingo isn’t it?

Seven Days In Havana is a series of seven short films by seven international film makers, all in Spanish, all set in Havana. As a big lover of Havana and Cuba in general I was interested to see how accurately they would be represented on screen and how deep it would delve into a city and culture full of contradictions.

The first four directly or indirectly show us the city through the eyes of an outsider. Benicio Del Toro directs the opener El Yuma which works at the perfect introduction with its tale of an American acting student’s first day and night in the capital. Many recurring images are brought in; those of Rum and girls and cigars and prostitutes. Mainly it is the sense of confusion, curiosity and mild fear that is expressed effectively through his experiences of home-cooked food, the omni-present Cuban rhythms and evenings in dark seedy bars.

A lot of the first half of Seven Days… revolves around the legendary Hotel Nacional around which a lot of the debauched activities centre for westerners. Having been, it the antithesis of what you would want to find in ‘socialist’ Cuba and is fairly revolting. Pleasingly, the film (s) seem to revel in this, not flinching from Cuba as a destination for men of a certain age.

Jam Session has a Serbian Film Director visiting Cuba to pick up an award and continues a vague running theme of the arts. Perpetually drunk, he forms a friendship with a Cuban driver / trumpet player which is sweet, but ultimately empty – but only the Cuban realises this. The Temptation Of Cecilia has a Westerner in town looking for talent to fly out to Madrid – another imperialist taking what he wants. There is no tone of judgement though, and a definite dilemma is presented for Cecilia, though is not examined in too much detail. Disappointing, through has the strongest narrative of the seven.

Structurally the 4th and 5th shorts change things. Diary Of A Beginner adds in elements of existential comedy in its silent portrayal of a diplomat waiting for an appointment. At first the change of pace is welcome; all Napoleon Dynamite type framings of a mute, expressionless character bemused at the world. But it tires quickly. The Ritual is perhaps significant as a turning point thematically (it sees a white girl kiss a Cuban girl. The parents of the Cuban girl then perform a ritual to ‘cleanse’ her) but it is incredibly boring, which is a shame given Gaspar Noe’s previous work. Together, although different in style from the rest of the package, they kill the piece dead in the middle, letting the pace drag hopelessly.

The last pair finally focus on the Cuban people themselves, whilst also tying up a couple of loose ends. They are oddly domestic tails; one of baking some cakes, the other of building a fountain in someone’s front room. Both celebrate strong communities and the strong women at the centre of them; a pleasing progression.

We see a Cuba of contradictions. Often the outsider or the Westerner is the protagonist, someone breaking the status quo. I can say from experience that you are eyed with a certain suspicion as you walk the streets. It’s no wonder with fifty plus years of anti-imperialist propaganda. But the west is also portrayed as something exciting and something to escape to; we also see a prostitute more interested in earning a New York Yankees baseball cap than getting paid. It’s surprisingly unpatriotic: we see major league baseball stars living in squalor and dreaming of escape to Miami by raft, qualified doctors having to bake cakes on days off (which is illegal) to raise enough cash to buy shoes. It even pokes fun at some of the acknowledged nonsense aspects of Cuban life, with recurring gags about cars breaking down and even has one character returning repeatedly to his hotel room over the course of a whole day to find Fidel Castro giving one of his literally endless speeches on TV.

The scenery is wonderful, all worn down buildings, with the opulent Hotel Nacional or ‘The White House’ lingering in the background. To view the majority of the action through the eyes of outsiders is clearly a thought out decision, but as a result I don’t feel we get close enough to the Cuban people themselves – we only ever see them from the perspective of the westerner; a taxi driver, a cleaner, a prostitute, a barman. We never see much beyond that, at least not until the end and when we do, I don’t really know what to make of it all.

Maybe that is the truth in all this. Still, I found the pacing far too slow. Aside from The Temptation Of Cecilia there is little tension or momentum. But then that is the nature of the film. There’s no great narrative or lesson; it’s just seven days in Havana.

Dean Freeman

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Milloy @ The Hop, 29th June

The Hop
29th June 2012

Go back 10 or 12 years, and there were three big players on the Wakefield music scene - Dugong, Pylon, and Milloy. Dugong and Pylon both unplugged their guitars four or five years ago, and tonight we witness the Wakefield stop on Milloy’s farewell tour. The last of the big three are calling it a day, and I for one am gutted.

Of these three bands, Milloy were my personal favourite. Even though Dugong had two of my old band mates in (two of my best mates!) and Pylon were the undoubted kings of catchy pop-punk, Milloy just had this power that you just couldn’t ignore. It was something that was obvious in their live performances, but also something they managed to capture on the numerous times they entered the studio. They leave behind a truly amazing back catalogue on Crackle! and Household Names Records labels.

The crowd at The Hop could have been pulled straight out of Players from 15 years ago, and for this reason I see very little of the support bands as I catch up with old friends. I see a bit of Matadors who I saw for the first time last year supporting Pylon at their reunion shows, and am again impressed. Really smart post-punk, the band always look like they’re having a right time and leave everyone in the crowd wishing they were in the band.

I miss Beverley Kills completely – sorry – but catch the end of the Leif Ericsson who are no strangers to Milloy. As well as releasing a split EP on Crackle! in 2003, they toured and gigged together on numerous occasions. It’s no surprise as these two bands are like peas in a pod, they also have the power of Milloy but turned down a notch or two. There’s a big contingent in from the Leeds punk scene - the biggest I’ve seen in Wakefield for years - and they are treated to a vintage display.

And so on to Milloy, and the current lineup of Jim McManus, Beefy, Bedi, Jimmy Islip and Wes take to the stage. Jim starts up the banter with the sound/light man, and demands the lights be turned to blue. The man in control duly obliges and we’re straight into the first song Breach. Duelling, driving guitars with a wondering bass line, all topped off with Jim’s powerful vocals, always the right side of a shout and with a definite Yorkshire twang.

The Hop is packed and getting hotter by the minute. The lights are changed from blue to red, and Milloy keep the songs coming at a blistering pace, there’s a lot to get through. Blank from the bands first EP Autodrivel seems to take the crowd up a notch, this was a song from the Players days, and The Hop has that atmosphere tonight. Something I’ve never felt in there before. Goodfellas is next up and the crowd finally erupts into more than a nodding head and a tapping foot, a bunch of sweaty men are jumping about, pushing each other about in a totally friendly manner. The age range is noticeable, 18 and 19 year olds next to men in their mid-30s, a tribute to the appeal of the band and their decade-plus career.

Jim – now with microphone lead noose-like round his neck – gives thanks to those present, and not present, to the Belly Crew, which then prompts the immediate disrobing of the aforementioned sweaty men. Beer is now dripping from the ceiling, from the lights (which are now green) and there is broken glass on the floor!
The last song is Blackjack, capping a proper ‘best of’ set, taking tracks from each of their releases, and the band leave the stage to huge applause and chants of ‘more’.

A minute later they return to the stage only this time with a new rhythm section. Brigga and Ian were the original drummer and bassist respectively, and left the band a couple of years ago. Pretty much everything the band recorded was done with Brigga and Ian and they are still held in high regard with the Milloy faithful here tonight, none more so than me. Brigga is a good mate of mine, and for me is one of the best drummers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.

The snare drum intro to Propofol kicks the second part of the set off. The crowd resume the jumping about (I’m trying not to use the word ‘moshing’) as the end of Milloy in Wakefield is now in sight. There is a renewed energy in the crowd, as if they sense they must squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of these last few songs.

Milloy play four songs in total with the original line-up, a real treat. Brigga and Ian don’t seem to stop smiling at all throughout these songs, and its as if they never left! They finally finish with Astro Zero, one of the bands slower songs that builds to a great crescendo. A perfect song to finish with and the band depart the stage once again. Brigga is lifted from the stage by the Belly Crew and passed above the crowds heads, catching his pint on the lighting rig as he goes. More beer and glass falls to the floor, and that’s that. Wakefield loses another great band.

Dan Stringer