Clanger muso Richard Smith caught up with Rebecca as she, Charles and the crew traveled to the Birmingham date on the first half of their two-part Christmas tour extravaganza. The first set of dates feature SlowClub as an acoustic duo, and the second batch, which includes Bedford, will be played as a full band.
R: It’s been really lovely. We’ve just been touring as a two-piece, so it’s very easy and the gigs have been quiet and we get to sing how we want to sing, we’re not battling to be heard.
Is the first part of the tour like a warm up for the second part ?
The two are different, because they (the songs) are different arrangements, but I suppose so. We don’t really practice so this has been a good exercise in singing and getting our phrasing right together again. Also touring in a car is very nice, less stuff to carry, things like that. Very important.
What car have you got ?
We had a nice Zafira, and now we’re in a Zafira-something-else and it’s not as good. It’s inferior and we’re furious about it !.
Any accidents or incidents on this tour so far ? Slipping on banana skins, falling off stage….
(Asks rest of people in the inferior Zafira) ‘Any accidents or incidents on this tour so far ?…..’ No, don’t think so. We have done a fun game where we’re in the service station and if someone is late out of the service station, move the car and then watch them look for the car, which is much funnier than you’d think. But the person who is the victim; it’s not very nice for them.
No, but I’m sure they get over it fairly quickly
Ah, I don’t know. Are you over it yet, Dave ? Dave’s saying no. It was about an hour ago.
Is he talking to you yet ?
No. He also hates being called Dave.
You’ve been asking fans to bring presents to the gigs (Becky asked for ‘silk pyjamas and high grade Manuka honey’ to be brought to the Glasgow show)
Yeah, I do it every night, and usually it doesn’t work but it did last night. Someone brought me some silk and honey.
Do you always specify ?
It can be any kind of present, but I gave a couple of guidelines in case people were worried about what to bring. It hadn’t worked until last night and the honey I got came from the cupboard, and the silk that I got was from a shirt that was ripped. One day we won’t be able to move for all the gifts I’m sure !.
What got you started playing drums ?
I danced for years and my parents always thought I had rhythm, and when your parents think that of you, you kind of take it as definite and then when I got to high school I didn’t really want to play clarinet or anything anymore. The guy who came to teach the drums went to church with my grandparents so I already knew him, so I just wanted to do it. I think I also felt none of the other girls did it and that made me feel cool.
It’s still fairly unusual
It shouldn’t be though, should it really. I want to go back into lessons ‘cos I’m not anywhere near as good as I could have been. I’m very late. I’m a very lazy drummer. I might be the world’s laziest.
So, Christmas is a big deal for SlowClub ?
It started as a Christmas gig every year and then it became a little tour. It’s just a nice time of year to tour actually and we did that Christmas album a long time ago and people still listen to it so it’s nice to play songs from that. This is the 5th year of doing it, so we’re not as Christmas jumper and mince pie-esque as we were
Is it like Groundhog day now. Like every day in December is Christmas ?
No, the tour is always great. I just feel a bit bad ‘cos everyone assumes we love Christmas, but we only love it as much as anyone else.
But you have an advent calendar, right ?
No, sorry. Unnecessary calories (laughs). We should just stop lying and say ‘Yeah, we love Christmas everyday’
Are you working on the third album at the moment ?
We’ve pretty much finished it.
Do you have a release date yet ?
No, we’re just starting all the phaffing round that you have to do before it comes out. We’re hoping early Summer, late Spring. Very exciting.
What’s the weirdest instrument on the new record ?
There’s isn’t actually anything weird on the new record. What’s the weirdest album on the new album ? It’s really drums, bass, guitar, strings, brass. There’s nothing weird on it !. There’s loads of weird stuff on the last album. No, we kept it (the new album) very simple. I slept a lot. It’s good though, honest.
What was the last band you saw live ?
On the tour we have our friend C.A. Smith supporting. So we watched him all this week and he’s brilliant, you should check him out.
Is he supporting at the Bedford gig ?
No, he’s just on the 2-piece tour, but he is forever in our hearts, wherever we may be. Before that I saw the Katy Perry show and that was amazing. I went to the itunes festival and after the show I walked backstage, no one stopped me and I stood next to her in the communal bar and then I suddenly realised I didn’t know what to do, and I just took a picture and walked away and felt very silly.
So, you asked her for a photo ?
No, I just stood next to her and took a photo on my phone like a weirdo would, like a massive weirdo would. I just panicked and couldn’t think. I am obsessed with her. I’m in a car full of people who don’t like me talking about her. Call me back next week when I can give an intimate essay of how I feel about her.
Phaff somehow got to talk to Henry (vocals/guitar) & House of Lords (Bass/keyboard/hitting stuff) from Young Knives, pre gig, at the back of a bar of a rock den in a market town they call Bedford. Here we rambled about stereo marble sounds & freezer puddings.
Mixed emotions backstage: House of Lords, Henry & Oliver
P: You're from Ashby de la Zouch, any tales of Lineker or Kasabian?
A couple of weeks ago we went to see them play at The Lamplighter in Northampton.
They played in a tiny room upstairs. There was no stage. There were no lights. It was rammed, and they proceeded to try and rip our spines out with organised noise.
To steal a phrase from Ms Austen; it is a truth universally acknowledged that children these days spend far too little time outside. Losing touch with nature and what it means to play outside is a massive problem for lots of children, and it was something that Hannah Catmur wanted to address.
Having had plenty of opportunities to play outside when she was growing up, and with fond memories of long days running about in her grandparents’ garden and the surrounding countryside of Harrold, she has come up with a very modern way to help solve the problem: she has designed an app to encourage children to interact with the outside world. She designed Get Out! Explorers , with support from The National Trust, the RSPB, and The Wildlife Trusts.
Children are more digitally aware than ever – so Hannah’s app is designed to be a way of engaging kids in nature and the outside world through a medium that children are already very comfortable with accessing. The app allows you to track and record your trails, suggests activities like kite flying, raft building, bug hunting and other, secret missions which you can complete and earn points for reward. It encourages you to record your journeys and adventures outdoors, to share photos and videos on your profile, and offers a leaderboard function so you can track your progress, and unleash your competitive side! It’s a way of using the indoors technology to get kids outdoors, and enjoying their natural surroundings.
Check out the website for a proper look at the great things kids can do with this app, but excitingly, Hannah is now looking for 200 parents to sign their kids up to test the app over a six week period. Testers will receive exclusive access (via download) to the app and website with activities, trails and missions. There is also an option to trial the ‘membership’ option, this comprises of premium content and a Get Out! box that will include fun stuff for children to do and make: worksheets, bug nets, seeds etc. This is optional and will cost a one-off £5.
If you’d like to get involved in the trial, please enter your email on www.getoutexplorers.com .
If you’d like to read more about Hannah and her exciting app-designing journey, you can do so here:
Ahead of The Pad Presents… Ocean Colour Scene gig at the Corn Exchange on 26th November, (tickets available here) Clanger muso Richard Smith caught up with lead singer Simon Fowler:
Ocean Colour Scene and Bedford go way back. According to singer, Simon Fowler they first played Esquires in 1990. Now, this is where it gets a little weird because I definitely saw them at the Corn Exchange the same year. I asked promoter Kev Bailey: the Esquires gig definitely happened. Kev remembers it well; it was the first gig he promoted. A follow-up show at Esquires in December had to be moved to the Corn Exchange because the band were snow-bound in Brum. So I hadn’t dreamt it.
In the years following they played Esquires (at least twice, possibly thrice); legendary pub The Angel (Elstow Road) and Bedford Festival, Lazy Sunday (Bring back Lazy Sunday !) The acquaintance is renewed at the Corn Exchange on 26th November, courtesy of Pad Presents, when OCS will run through ‘Marchin’ Already’ in its entirety. I asked Simon Fowler a few questions, in a sort of ‘Hello, you must be Simon Fowler. How do you do ?’ kind of way. Here’s what the swimming singer said….
(To be fair, he’s not alone in that. We all like a good swim and sing, right ? Apart from those of us who can’t swim. And the tone-deaf.)
Clanger : How’s it going ? What have you been up to today ?
Simon : All good here, and been swimming.
C: What inspired you to join/form a band ?
S: The Beatles.
C: How did you come up with the name ‘Ocean Colour Scene’ ?
S: Putting 3 words we liked together.
C: Growing up, what were the best clubs you went to in Brum ?
S: Sweat Club at Birmingham Institute.
C: When you formed OCS, was there a masterplan ?
S: Just to stay together as a band through thick and thin.
C: What would you say is your greatest achievement as a band ?
S: Staying together for 25 years.
C: Bedford first date on the tour. Do you remember the last time you played Bedford ?
S: Bedford “Esquires Club”, was the beginning of our success in the early 90’s. We literally brought the roof down.
C: Who’s playing the bass ?
S: Andy .
C: Any musical ambitions unfulfilled ?
S: The forthcoming release of a second “Merrymouth” album.
C: What do you do with your spare time ? Got any hobbies not related to music ?
S: Reading, drinking and swimming, and not necessarily in that order.
C: Any websites you check daily ?
C: What’s on the OCS stereo at the moment ?
S: Linda Thompson’s new album “Won’t Be Long Now”.
C: Can you describe the OCS sound ?
S: No, that’s your job.
C: What’s your favourite piece of rock memorabilia ?
S: The Jam guitar Paul gave to Steve for his birthday.
C: Any ridiculous OCS merchandise which you have had to veto ?
S: OCS dolls.
So, there you have it. Tidy. Like the band themselves. Thanks to Kevin Bailey for his help.
Crafty Jo of the School of Craft is running a Christmas Crafternoon (is there a more pleasing word?) on Saturday 23rd Nov at The Embankment 10am -1pm.
If you’ve not heard of a crafternoon, then Jo explains it as this:
“Tea/Coffee delicious cakes and one of my Christmas craft kits to make on the day. It’s dead chilled out – sew, chat and eat cakes. Perfect before the mayhem of Xmas kicks in!”
Jo has got just TWO tickets left – £25. email email@example.com right this minute if Christmas crafting, tea, coffee and cakes with an added sprinkling of nattering with likeminded people is on your pre-Christmas list!
We should add that the fabric Jo sells is irresistible. Seriously. You have been warned.