Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Clive Continuum

(see also: "Festivals" "Demos" "Respect" "Side Projects"  "Lyrics"  "Touring")

Clive Smith Is The Savoir Of Rock & Roll.

So, I was on holiday recently. I went for a trip around one of my favourite parts of the country - the North East. Beautiful place. From the Blast Furnaces of Redcar to the long dead port-town of Sunderland, it is a trail of glorious decline, and a strong lesson in how quickly this crazy world can change.

I'll happily tell you the whole road trip story down the boozer some time, but something else happened on that trip which changed my life. No, actually, it reaffirmed what I already knew, but showed me a new way to know it, if you catch what old Clive is saying.

Like God coming down to visit a priest and saying "Hey Priest, all this stuff you are saying is dead good. You know it's true. But maybe you shouldn’t just be talking about it. You should be doing something too, pal."

Which could lead to missions to Africa or mass murder, but at least it gets him out of the Church.

The moment came to me in Washington Motorway Services, the most northerly in England. I'd been snowed in for four days. I'd setup camp in an easily defendable corner of WHSmiths (should my co-trappees turn cannibalistic) and had become fat on salty, pre-packaged sandwiches and family sized packs of 'Fiery' Doritos.

The biggest tragedy was that the KFC wasn't open; no staff had made it in that morning. The second day was mainly spent trying to master the intricacies of their cooking machines, which was harder than you'd think. And I just couldn't find the balance of spice combinations to make it worthwhile. My time at the Subway counter was equally fruitless. I made a sandwich but it just looked shit; I didn't want to touch it. I have a new appreciation for the calling of the 'Sandwich Artist'.

Anyway, four days in I was starting to go a bit loopy. I needed some mental stimulation. And have you been in a WHSmiths? It was like that proverb "Water, water all around but not a drop to drink". There was Zoo magazine and What Car? magazine and "Bake a Cake" magazine. There was nothing about Darts. So, I did something I didn't think I would ever do; I picked up a copy of NME.

Bono Is A Massive Idiot Face

It was everything I feared it would be, and worse. Like a Jennifer Anniston film. I'm with it enough to have learnt the word hipster and this 'rag' was full of what I had thought they would look like. All the hair, and makeup, and moodiness, and the empty headed daydreaming. I don't think there was a person in there over 50, except maybe Liam Gallagher whose craggy face and mind are given an unnatural gleam of youth due to the immaturity spouted by his mouth hole.

It dawned on me that the truth is obsolete. Things like the NME supposedly report on what is happening, the facts of the story, but instead are just chugging out their own polluted version of the world. I always thought they were plain stupid in the early '80s when they panned my albums. Now I see I didn't fit in with their world view, just as I don't fit in now with the world view of other publications, like Wakefield’s Rhubarb Bomb.

The fact they have a 'world view' is the first clue to the overarching arrogance of the tiny, insignificant magazine. But to someone like me, who has always strived to tell the whole truth, whether it be a declaration that "It's time to party like we're on drugs" (New Rave Sound from House Party, 1996) or "this government has some serious questions to answer" (City Centre Art Project from Public Money, Stupid!, 1986), it is a cruel ethos to swallow.

The NME revelation brought into focus something that had been a source of mire for me since New Year; Rhubarb Bomb's 'Best Of The Year' awards. As an artist who had released two impressive, sell-out records and a seminal best of collection, I was sure I'd be up for something. Short listings were announced and I was noticeable to all by my absence.

But then I noticed an extra award, the 'Tru DIY' trophy given out to a special, one-off performer. I did a quite smile on my face and thought "I bet that's me int it?"

It's not often I'm both shocked and wrong, but on this occasion I was. Runaround Kids won it, for releasing just seven tracks in an overly complicated way. Seems they were instead spending their time making their hair and makeup and moody faces fit the NME demographic. And for this they get an award and a big pat on the back.

Runaround Kids: Like The Beatles being buggered by the Bay City Rollers in the back of a big blue bus.

I read that copy of NME over and over again. I took in its hyperbole, its sibilance and its bathetic declension, halting only to occasionally consult a dictionary. I realised journalism isn't about truth. It's about making your own bed and then leeching off the genuine talent of others in order to make a quick bit of pounds.

I'm not that man. And I felt dirty that I had been involved with Rhubarb Bomb and its evil intentions. But I knew my intentions were pure. To educate. To inform. To share. Those dark January days, after the award snub, I questioned whether I should perhaps tone down the 'truth' aspect of my work. Maybe I should be more like they want me to be. If I started sucking up to people, doing favours for 'friends' and what not, perhaps I could work my way up to Assistant Editor at Rhubarb Bomb and get some real power.

But after Washington, I know I am right. At least, I know I was always right, like that Priest man thinks he is, but I was perhaps doing it the wrong way. I am still about the music. I couldn't stop it spurting out of me if I tried. But I now believe the word is mightier than the chord. My truth has reached an event horizon - can I pull through to the other side?

So here are my awards. People might not like them, but I'm sure Rhubarb Bomb will still print it, as they perceive themselves as some kind of alternative to the alternative. Yeah yeah yeah. Grow up.

Album Of The Year: Life Is A Motorway by Clive Smith
Telling It Like It Is Award: @jonezcrusher on Twitter
Best Session Musician: Bulky Thompson (from Pontefract)
Best New Band: The Pills
Best new Genre: JapRap
Best Gig: The Killers, in one of those big stadiums.
Most Overhyped Thing: Wakefield
Best Sax Solo - Schindler Cartwright
Best Solo Sax - Holly H Hindelburg
Best Metaphor - Gravity by Euphoria Audio
Best Motorway - M6
Best Dressed Man - Bob Dylan
Surprise Of The Year - Paul McCartney replaces Kurt Cobain and Nirvana actually become listenable.
Most Spherical Song - Nakkas by Retarded Fish
Lost Up its Own Bottom (Award) : Rhubarb Bomb
Big Hope for 2013: Long Division (a chance to redeem yourself)
Beacon Of Truth: You. (yes, you!)

So be warned; the truth in its ugliest, truest form is here and if the world can't deal with it, then the world can go away right now.

Oh, I got out of the services on day 10. It was quite fun in the end. I also recommend Sunderland Glass Museum if you are in that part of the country.

Clive Smith

Monday, 14 January 2013

Another Failed Festival Application

Playing a festival is often high up on any young band’s agenda. In fact, scratch that, it is high up on any band’s agenda, because festivals are great. Whether you are trying to break a new audience, take the step up from O2 Academies to arena tours, or just want to play in a field, in the rain alongside other bands you love, the festival slot is a great prize.

But it is so damn hard to get the bookings. Having seen this from both sides, as artist and promoter, I maybe have a little insight into both the expectations / misconceptions of the bands and the business vs. passion conflicts of the organisers.

As I am currently programming Long Division for the third year, I am receiving bucketloads of applications and a lot of people seem to make the same mistakes time and time again. Here, I am compiling what I feel are useful guidelines if you are applying to a festival. Some of it will sound harsh, unfair and cruel. But from my experience, it is all true.

Because the truth is that the application you spend an age perfecting will probably be not even read. One word or phrase in there will instantly turn off the promoter. I do it everyday: delete. Or send it to an applications folder to ‘read later’ but is never seen again because I’m out there booking bands I already know and love.

It may seem incredibly arrogant that I would delete an application without even reading the whole thing. As someone who was (and is) in a band, I find it quite disgusting.

But most festivals will, though I would like to note that I am referring to ‘cold’ applications i.e. ones that just appear in my inbox with no preamble or explanation. Specific application processes, with requirements made clear, have an obligation to read submissions carefully, if not listen.

So now we’ve made clear what a shit I am, and what a fucked up industry this is, let’s see what we can do to improve your chances.


To put your application in perspective, Long Division receives on average 5 – 10 applications a day to play the event. These start appearing when we announce our dates (so maybe 9 months prior to the event) and continue well into the summer – they are not the result of us requesting applications. These hit their peak around the January to March window. If a band applies to us in that busy period, they are going to be one of maybe 1000 applications. And we are pretty low down on the festival circuit, let’s be fair, so imagine what bigger ones have to deal with?

This stems mainly from places like EFestival and The Unsigned Guide. A lot of bands come across The Unsigned Guide at some point, when it suddenly feels like all your problems have been solved. Instead of endlessly Googling for record labels to send demos to, venues to play at, or festival to apply to, it’s all there, in one handy guide.

Unfortunately, it's not just you that has this information. It’s now just easier for you to spam people. It’s a result of our connection to this that we now get applications from all over the place, including:

-          The Only Way Is Essex ‘stars’
-          Bands who have ‘played alongside’ One Direction, Busted, Snoop Dogg etc
-          Tibetan Throat Singers
-          House DJ’s who are legends in Ibiza
-          Status Quo Cover Bands

So you see why I have got into the habit of hitting ‘delete’. Your genuinely interesting and relevant application could be lost amongst the spam. So the key is, how do you make it stand out and increase your chances of playing a festival?

It’s Who You Know

The niggling suspicion I had a bassist in an under achieving Wakefield band was true. The number one rule of playing festivals (and probably your entire musical career) is that it completely depends on who you know.

But that doesn’t mean festival promoters only give slots to their mates. It means you need to try and build a relationship with the organisers. Who is behind the festival? If, as with Long Division, they are run by a zine or website, have you sent them records to review in the past? Have they covered a live show of yours? Have you made any effort to get your name known by them, or is this application the first time they will have come across you?

If you are an active band, you should already be building contacts with other bands, zines and venues. A recommendation will go along way. Think about that wall of 1000 applications sat in Long Division’s email account. If there is someone we know and trust who can point a big finger at your name, it can only help. If you have played with a band we have had on before, if you have released a record with a label we celebrate, if you once worked at McDonalds with the drummer from the band that so-and-so from Kaiser Chiefs used to play in… any connection to what the festival is about and its circle of friends will help. It’s not about cliques – it’s about your name being more than just another on a list.

Success with this element can make the rest of this posting irrelevant. Because if they know you, they will read it all and give it the time it deserves. I know from reviewing records; it is much harder to rate a record poorly if it is someone you have had a pint with. Likewise with festival applications.

Don’t Spam

The most common email that arrives in my inbox is one that is clearly sent out to every festival in the country. If you think this is the way to get a slot at a festival, you are severely misinformed.

For one, it sticks out like a sore thumb (especially if you forget to change the name of the festival in the main text before sending). The main failing, however, is that there isn’t an application that will suit every festival, because every festival is different. By trying to please them all with this perfectly constructed email, you will likely please none of them.

You need to reduce your targets. There is no point applying for a festival that doesn’t suit who you are and what you want. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste mine. Spend more time on finding the right events and then personalise. When I open an email and it begins ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ I am already hovering over the delete button. Whereas, if the band has taken the time to figure out my name, or at least title with the festival's name, I am at least still interested.

It takes longer, but don’t spam. Maybe the best intro is to say you have actually attended the festival as a punter in previous years – assuming you have, don’t lie. We love to hear from people that took the effort to attend. Flattery goes miles. A personal opening that is clearly addressed to that one festival only will do wonders, and will at least get the reader to the second paragraph.

No Storytelling

Another big mistake is to make an application too long. The story of how your band formed is, to you, unique and endlessly interesting. No-one else gives a fuck. Simple as.

“My band formed in 2006 through a shared love of The Killers and Arctic Monkeys. We played at many local venues and developed a reputation for an exciting and energetic live show. We then recorded a demo at Blah Blah Blah Studios with a producer you don’t know and released it to wild acclaim (though we have no reviews to prove it). Sadly, in 2009 Jimmy left for university and after a long search we found Jonny who replaced him on guitar, giving the band a harder edge…”

That’ll make great copy in your autobiography one day, I’m sure, but this isn’t the time or place. I’ve done the very same thing when I was posting things out for my band. Now I know that organisers don’t have the time for it. Worse, they carry around the idea that they have seen it all before, and the above will only reinforce that idea.

You need to focus on what you are doing now. A chronological explanation of the band always means the interesting stuff is at the end. Maybe the above story ends with:

“Then, after completing the tour support with Sonic Youth, we signed to Wichita

But I probably wouldn’t even get that far. What have you achieved in the last six months (tops)? What are you doing right now, and what is coming up between now and the festival? Try and avoid what ‘might’ be happening or what you ‘plan’ to be doing. Give me facts, a snapshot of who the band is right now. The application as a whole should be no more than three paragraphs.

Do Your Research

What is the festival looking for in a band? For Long Division, I am looking for a shared understanding of what music is, the purpose it serves and how you operate as an artist. I want examples of a DIY ethos, connections to underground / alternative culture. Some festivals are looking for a specific genre. Others aren’t overly bothered if your brand of pub-rock is slightly predictable; it’s about how good you are at entertaining a crowd of people. Some are just interested in how many YouTube hits you’ve had.

There is no right or wrong thing. But you need to understand what the festival wants. It’s not about a great riff. It’s a bigger package than that. It’s the ethos. It’s like when I get an application and the main selling point is that Nissan used one of the band’s songs on an advert. Or that they were finalists for Live & Unsigned. I just feel like saying; don’t you read the zine? Which, of course, they don’t.

By doing your research and knowing what a festival wants, you can send different types of application to different festivals; some focussing on the great reviews you’ve had from Traditional English Folk Weekly whilst others focussing on how you recorded and released your debut record, whilst self funding a UK tour. Tailoring your applications will greatly increase the odds of being noticed. It will also inadvertently force you to assess yourself and your goals; a very positive thing.

Make It Scanable

So, thus far, you have managed to send your application to the right people, have personalised it to their requirements and kept it short and to the point. That may well have got you to the exciting point where the entire email will be read.

Harsh, but probably true. Any festival that claims to read then listen to every artist that sends an application is either a liar, suffering a severe crisis of identity, has too much time on it’s hands, which leads to the idea it is likely to not be a very good festival – unless they have a specific application process, as mentioned previously.

At this point, you need to once again think about what this specific festival is looking for. I will only scan through first of all. Especially now, with emails on phones, I may receive yours whilst I am at work. Or waiting for the bus. Will I still remember it when I log on to the laptop that evening?

Think of the application as the written part of a job application. You need to talk about your achievements. It’s about hard facts, as well as ideals and intentions. Only a good written application will get you through to the face to face interview, by which I mean download your music or watch a YouTube clip.

So when I am scanning, I want to see things that set off light bulbs in my head. Bands you have played with. Festivals you have performed at. Records you have released. Are we on the same wavelength?

As many little lighbulb moments as you can fit in. Press quotes are excellent, though I always scan over where the press quote has come from rather than the quote itself. If Steve Lamacq has been talking about you, it tells me something different to if it came from The Sun newspaper.

This scanning may seem unnecessarily unfair. If I had time to look at them all I would. But this method means I can chuck out stuff that is really obviously not what my festival is all about. And if your application isn’t hitting these points, it may get thrown out with the rest of the rubbish, despite you actually being pretty decent.


You’ve made it. You’ve not been deleted out of principal, they’ve not hated your band name and it sounds like you are up to some really interesting stuff.

It’s time to link to your music. This is, to be fair, pretty easy. Things to avoid are linking to videos of low quality live shows. Avoid out of date sites (I still get people linking to Myspace, for example) and choose your most immediate, accessible work.

I feel especially wrong about that last point because a lot of music that I love is quite slow burning. I don’t want knuckle dragging indie anthems at Long Division. If your music is less accessible, you really need to work on building those relationships before hand. Or getting some great quotes that will get the listener through that three minute organ drone that opens your masterpiece album.

But if you can, keep it to one music link, one video link. If you link to a Bandcamp or a YouTube channel, it gives us the opportunity to easily seek out more if we like what we see / hear.

Follow Ups

Don’t pester the promoter. But it isn’t a crime to follow up an application. It is incredibly difficult to judge because you don’t know the timescales they are working to. Before I began doing Long Division, I wouldn’t have dreamed of not replying to someone’s email, ever. The first year I tried to, and that’s when I gave up. I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to try and be polite and say why I don’t want your band to play at my festival.

But sometimes we forget things. There is so much going on that we might have forgotten to note your band down two months ago, even though we really loved what we heard.

I’d say you get one chance at a follow-up. Keep it brief. Don’t be upset if you hear nothing. Paying an interest to the festival through social media might give you that chance. We’ve had bands pull out relatively last minute, resulting in some local soul getting a shot. It can happen. But otherwise, you may have to accept defeat. And one more thing; don’t ask for feedback.

Is It Worth It?

There are a million bands out there. I could create a line-up in an afternoon if I wanted. Amazingly, some festivals run like this. They are clearly organised by people who want a big event, either for a quick buck (fools) or to make something happen in their local area, but have almost no understanding of how live music or events work. They have no connections. They just need noise to fill space.

Is that worth your time? Playing a festival, if you are an unsigned band, will cost you money. But will you get to play to a new, attentive audience? Will you get paid? Are free tickets to the event enough?

Your time as a band should be precious. Picking and choosing doesn’t just help the festivals, it helps you too. I know festivals that refuse to pay bands, even ones that have travelled from other countries. I question why those bands agreed to it. Is it to put the festival on their band CV? Because that isn’t the kind of festival you want on there.

Finally: You Are Not Special

I’m sorry, but that is likely to be true. You might be still finding your feet as a band. You aren’t the finished article, or the festival would be chasing you. The festival doesn’t need you as much as you need them. It is their livelihood on the line, so why should they take a risk on you?

Everyone has a Facebook and a Twitter and a Bandcamp and the rest. For unsigned bands, a YouTube video can help. High Quality photography, even if just live shots. Your own web domain, even if it just links back to the bandcamp. Anything to suggest that you are busy and active.

Promoters are an odd breed, in that they are incredibly enthusiastic and inquisitive, but also incredibly jaded and cynical. This festival is their baby; every element needs to be perfect and beautiful. You need to stand out, find that little thing that shows you are special and should be given a chance to prove it. The jaded side of the promoter, sick to death of ridiculous applications is waiting for that special band to pop up in their inbox that makes their heart jump, to reinvigorate their excitement.

Above all, the festival should simply be another part of your overall attitude of making friends and contacts, having confidence in what you do and enjoying it. It’s not something that needs special care or attention. If you are doing everything else right, it will all come together naturally.

Dean Freeman

Thursday, 10 January 2013

By Hook Or By Crook

By Hook Or By Crook
Various Artists
Sturdy Records

Sturdy Records are an independent record label from Leeds, and with their first ever compilation they have hit gold.

The compilation mixes big names such as Post War Glamour Girls and This Many Boyfriends with old and new from around Leeds. It is unbound by genre, making the most of a variety of wonderful bands from the area.

The Wind-up Birds post-punk track Two Ambulance Day is built around its catchy chorus and slow spoken verses, causing it to get stuck in your head for days. They’re addictive and easy to love within the first listen, creating one of the standout tracks of this compilation.

With a mysterious spoken word delivery over simplistic synth sounds, Racket Ball’s When They Walked In (Live) is one of the most unusual tracks. It seems to make no sense at first, before making use of it’s unique delivery to stand out and push boundaries that should encourage a cult following worthy of the band‘s music.

Loqui were the band that started it all off for Sturdy Records and this track, We Drown on Dry Land, shows why. Their lyrics are instantly relatable and with a genre that fits nowhere else they are perfect on this compilation of no restrictions.

Post War Glamour Girls show their delicate side off on Ghost In The Tape Recorder. It’s stripped down letting James’ vocals shine and proving themselves worthy of their slots at Reading and Leeds this summer. I along with many will be surprised if it’s a one off, especially after writing songs as good as this.

This compilation holds together genres and sounds of all kinds showing that Sturdy Records may not be big, but they definitely know what they’re doing. It’s clear that many bright things will be coming from this label, with so many bands of such a high calibre associated with them.

Kieran Lacy

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Wakefield Bands For Long Division 2013

Long Division 2013 will take place on June 7th, 8th and 9th, in Wakefield City Centre. The all day music event will once again take place on the Saturday, with bands performing from midday to midnight across a wide range of venues, wristbands allowing the audience to wander between venues at their leisure.

It is really important to us that we show off what Wakefield has to offer, no more so than by showcasing the artists that live here. In 2013 we are very keen to discover new (to us) performers in the city, people who have never played the festival before. There must be so many bands out there we know nothing about... so if you think that might be you, here is your chance to play at Long Division this year.


There are just three key things we are looking for.

- At least 50% of band members must live in a WF postcode
- All material must be original
- The band must not have played the main day (Saturday) of Long Division before.

And that is all. Any musical genre is happily considered. Any age bracket. Just send us an email to longdivisionfestival@gmail.com titled "WF Bands" with a short biography, photo if available, a list of all band members and their addresses (evidence of this will be required at a later date) and a link to your music. Please don't attach MP3s. Consider carefully the link you send us. A whole album may not be listened to. Does it start with your strongest track? What best represents what you are about?

Warm Up Gigs

We will collect together the applications and select a group of 16 bands that we want to see more of. There will then be a series of gigs in March at Wakefield venues to which we will invite you to perform, in order for us to experience your live show. There will be no audience voting slips or points given for 'crowd reaction' or any such nonsense. As the festival is programmed by a fanzine and a local promoter we want to find new Wakefield bands that haven't hit out radar before and we think this is a good way to do it.

We will give the bands the choice of making the gigs free entry, or a four pound door charge for four bands, with 100% of the money taken being shared by the bands. Whether the bands would like the chance to take some door money, or would prefer a gig open to all is their choice. The warm up gigs are not a money making exercise for the festival.

At least four bands will be selected to perform at the festival. There will not be a 'winner' from each gig. Theoretically all four bands from one gig could be selected, it just depends on what impresses us and what we feel would fit into the Long Division bill.

Under 18s

As has been the case in previous years, the main day of Long Division will be an 18+ event. Despite our efforts to make it accessible to a younger audience, this is simply not possible due to the requests of the West Yorkshire Police and the connected difficulties in policing a multi venue event such as ours. We accept their concerns are completely valid and sadly cannot make the Saturday open to U18's, whether audience or performer.

However, in 2013 we will be organising a special all ages show on June 9th as part of our vastly extended Sunday programme. As such, we invite bands that meet the above criteria, with members under the age of 18, to apply in the same manner with an email entitled "WF Bands U18". There will be no warm up events; we will contact everyone after the closing date.

Closing Date

Application closes on midnight on January 31st. Announcements will be made the following week. The warm up gigs will take place in March with confirmation of the artists playing at the festival made in April.

Thank you,


Tru DIY Award

Tru DIY Special Award
Runaround Kids
2012 Release Schedule

Congratulations to Runaround Kids for being crowned our first ever recipients of the Tru DIY accolade. It sounds pretty good doesn't it? But what exactly does it mean, and what have they done to deserve such praise?

When compiling Rhubarb Bomb's Stuff Of The Year I wanted an award that celebrated something more than a great record or gig. A truly special effort that epitomises the DIY ideals Rhubarb Bomb holds so dear. Tru DIY should be about doing something above and beyond the usual, about taking risks, doing what you love for fun of it but above all doing things your own way.

Runaround Kids did this, and more, in 2012. But, without wanting to deflate their elation in anyway; this isn't an award for the music. Sure, the way they have developed as a band since the success of their debut album (and the expectations that followed it) is admirable and wonderful in equal measure. Their sound - both on record and on stage - has progressed and they have undoubtedly become a better, more fully formed band. The music they have released in 2012 has perfectly illustrated the joy of this transition.

But even those people out there who don't rate them quite so highly must appreciate the brilliance of their 2012 release schedule and it is for this incredibly fan friendly - but also very shrewd - approach that they clinch this accolade. In case you missed it, this is how it ran.

At the start of 2012 you had the opportunity to sign up for their 2012 singles bundle for a ridiculously respectable £12. Those who had faith in the band were rewarded over the next 12 months with;

- A T-Shirt / CD Single
- A Split 12" Vinyl featuring three songs by them and three from We Are Losers
- Their own comic
- A split cassette with The Spills
- An end of year album compiling all the above tracks on CD, plus two new ones and another comic.

It was a move that harks back to a time when physical products were treasured. Each individual item was special in its own way, carefully thought out and constructed. It was a pleasure to have them arrive through the letterbox over the course of the year.

In this way, it was also a very smart move as a promotional campaign. If the band had just released the end of year compilation at some point over the last twelve months as an album, it would have received some very positive reviews and perhaps they would have followed it with a tour. And that would have been about it. Instead, this drip feeding of material kept the band fresh in everyone's minds throughout the year.

It was all backed up with creative and practical ways to build a fanbase. Fans who bought the bundle were encouraged to send a photo of themselves wearing the T-shirt. They put an exclusive track on our fifth birthday compilation. There were more interviews with blogs, tour diaries and some fantastic festival shows. The fact that one of their number has moved from Wakefield to Glasgow has been something of a blessing; their live appearances are now slightly less frequent making each one far more special.

The award is theirs because I think they have straddled the two key facets of being DIY. First of all, they have created an awesome series of releases completely on their own terms that showcase their passion, virtuosity and determination. Secondly - and this is the one that is often overlooked - they have created an imaginative and practical approach to releasing them, one that is as business smart as it is creative. DIY doesn't mean releasing songs you record in your bedroom to your friends. It means operating in the music industry, existing as an artist, but on your own terms. That is harder than ever to do these days, but Runaround Kids have done it with style.

I am sure the band would wholeheartedly agree that none of this would have been possible without the support and input of their record label Philophobia Music. I saw the sheer exhaustion and frustration on label boss Rob Dee's face as he attempted to print out all the comics on his home printer in time to post them out. But I also heard his tales of the band's Irish tour and it was clear these were the kind of things he'd long dreamed of for the label and its bands.

This singles bundle would not have been possible for either band or label without a lot of foundation building over a number of years. That kind of determination is essential in a place like Wakefield; it won’t happen over night, or after one EP. You can never rest, never stop pushing things forward. It probably takes three times the effort in Wakefield to cover the same ground elsewhere but this proves exciting things can be achieved and that a creative DIY approach is a viable method.

And the best part? When these guys do make it big time, I've got LOADS of their stuff to stick on eBay. I'm gonna make a fortune...

Dean Freeman

Best Of 2012 Winners

Thank you to all who took the time to vote in our Best of 2012 Poll. As I previously said, all the nominees released records, played gigs or wrote articles we would have been proud to have proclaimed as Rhubarb Bomb's best of 2012. But you, the vast public consciousness well known for your great taste, have made the final decision. Here are the winners

Album Of The Year
Midnight At The Sycamore Lounge
St Gregory Orange

A record that was the end result of numerous years of hard work, Midnight... is an outstandingly grand piece of work; ambitous, slow burning, affecting and hypnotic. It's not an easy record by any means; it requires time and patience. In that sense, it is an album created by music lovers for music lovers. There are no concessions, no playing to the audience, no easy decisions. That is why it is so unique and very deserving of the acolade of best album of 2012.

Runners up

This Many Boyfriends (This Many Boyfriends)
The Time And The Lonelyness (Mi Mye)
Kebanakese (Wot Gorilla?)
Thirteen Lost & Found (RM Hubbert)

EP Of The Year
Spectemur Agendo
Various Artists

This three band compilation is a fantastic little EP from Philophobia Music that reminds us all of the labels ultra DIY origins and it's commitment to new bands; two things it is all too easy to forget given the quality of it's releases these days, in regards to the popularity of it's bigger bands and the professional packaging. Instead, this EP featured two tracks each from Clandestines (from Malta), The Do's and Fur Blend. Each band's tracks came on a individual 3" Cd and the whole thing was packaged in a homemade, fold out sleeve; a reminder of the days when physical products were treasures / treasured.

Runners up

Runaround Kids vs We Are Losers (Runaround Kids / We Are Losers)
Honeymoon On Ice (Soulmates Never Die)
Day Three (jamiesaysmile)
Selfless (Himself)

Best Gig
Retarded Fish @ The Hop

The reappearance of Retarded Fish was, I am sure, of no greater surprise to anyone than it was to the band themselves. I was able to cast an eye back on Wakefield music in the '90s as part of The City Consumes Us project, but to actually see it brought to life before my eyes was something else. This was their farewell gig just months after their return, to support The Cribs in Wakefield. Also notable as the last live performance by Protectors, the show was a riot; just thirty minutes on stage. It was important because it connected the previous generation to the current and helped secure stronger ties in the local community. It also rocked and was a great reminder of how fun punk music can be. That members of Retarded Fish are now playing in current local bands shows it wasn't a goodbye, but a beginning.

Runners Up

Long Division Super Gig
The Do's EP Launch
Milloy's Last Gig

Making Wakefield Better
The Cribs Play Wakefield Theatre

From the list of nominees, this was probably the event that has the least effect on Wakefield in the long term, yet in terms of making Wakefield better, it was a huge morale boost. The Cribs have always drawn a spotlight to the city, but usually from afar. To have them back in Wakefield after a five years which felt like a lifetime (and was, for Rhubarb Bomb) was a very special moment and felt like the pinacle of all that was being achieved elsewhere in the city. The gig itself was spectacular, any fears that The Cribs in a fully seated theatre wouldn't work washed away within about six seconds. A career spanning and possibly career defiing set.

Runners Up

Unity Hall Begins
Jarvis Cocker Opens Wakefield Library
Wakefield Literature Festival
The Hepworth Zombie Walks

Best Festival

2012 saw Beacons return from the brink, the phoenix from the flames risen from the disasterous floods that wiped the festival off the map in 2011. It was worth every ounce of effort, and the faith that punters put in the organisers. The lineup was varied and felt full of personal touches. Genuine thought was put into the experience of the attendees, by which i mean plenty of room to swing a cat, plenty of good drink, a beautiful setting and some great stages. If we overlook a rather terrible toilet to people ratio, and the resulting carnage, it wasn't far off perfect.

Runners Up

Live @ Leeds
Leeds Festival

Best Article
Anatomy Of A Gig

Gosh, how embarassing. I best hand the trophy for best article to myself then. Did i mention this was the only catagory with a prize? The five nominees were essentially the articles that recieved the most feedback when they were published. This article, which is based around Rhubarb Bomb promoting a gig for Zoey Van Goey in November 2011 certainly struck a chord when it was first published on the blog, so much so that it was subsequently stuck in an actual issue too. Needless to say, little has changed, including the wider ignorance it exposes to the cost of live music for all involved.

Runners Up

Give Me A Beat To Dance To (Laura Thompson)
You Feet Have Got It Covered (Helen Rhodes)
Response To Guardian Article (Dean Freeman)
Ghost Of Wakefield Past (Stephen Vigors)

Best Thing Rhubarb Bomb Did
Long Division

It's not surprise that the biggest thing we did, in terms of preperation, time and money spent and people attending won out. Long Division 2012 was a proud moment for us. If LD2011 was a shot in the dark, 2012 was very important in proving it wasn't a fluke. Programming 75 bands across 9 venues was a huge challenge, yet it worked and proved people will come to Wakefield and enjoy live music, and that we have a lot to offer. The only thing is, we now need to top it in 2013...

The City Consumes Us Album & Book
Fifth Birthday Gig
The Blog
The Issues

Tru DIY Special Award
Runaround Kids for their 2012 Singles Bundle