Haroshi – Monster Children interview

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Hiroshi’s woodworkings are masterpieces and to see them up close and personal last year when his exhibition ran at Stolen Space in London was a treat to say the least.

Monster Children visited his studio in Kosuge, Japan to speak with him on his fascination with recyling skateboard decks into modern works of art.

Chronicles with Gengahr

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“I’m pretty sure the label were ready to drop us when we told them the fourth time that it still wasn’t right and we’d have to give it another going over,” reveals Felix Bushe, guitarist and main man of London’s Gengahr, as he racks his brains over the trials and tribulations of their decision to co-produce their fast approaching debut, A Dream Outside.

Heralded as the finest purveyors of hazy, psychedelic pop right now, Gengahr have risen fast and high above their contemporaries, with tracks like ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’, ‘Powder’ and ‘She’s A Witch’ raining from the stereo in here on loop.

When asked about the band’s most personal lyric on the album, before we dive into his own musical psyche below, Felix cites ‘Lonely As A Shark’s verse of, “All I ask is just one more chance. If I grew horns and fins, at least I’d get to start again. And speak in tongues just like it all began. Somewhere underneath the sea are teeth the size of you and me.

Going on to explain, “I normally try to disguise myself in the songs with fictional narrative but ‘Lonely As A Shark’ in particular is a song full of my own emotions. I wrote this at a time when I had moved to the suburbs of London and rarely saw any of my friends. I was working full time and I had tried to go back to university because I felt my life lacked direction. The song is basically about my isolation and solitude at that time.

Check out Felix’s nine most personal albums below, but first hear their eerie new cover rendition of Fugazi’s ‘I’m So Tired’. Not many have managed to pull off covering one of the finest band’s in history.

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My gateway album is…

The Argument – Fugazi

Whenever you put on a Fugazi record it just makes you feel cool, and that’s a big part of being at college and school.

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The album my fans might not expect me to like is…

Mechanical Animals – Marylin Manson

I love this album, I swapped it for a Slipknot album with a friend at school and even now if I put it on it still sounds great. Some dope tunes on this one.

around_the_fur

When I’m angry at the world, this album fires me up!

Around The Fur – Deftones

If it wasn’t Fugazi then I was probably listening to Deftones as the backing music to my school days.

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A record I absolutely despise is…

Any album by Ed Sheeran.

He has no soul!

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An album for Sunday chilling is…

Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter

These guys are maybe my favorite band and I could have named any of their albums really but this is one I’ve been listening to most recently.

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An album to dance your ass off to is…

Hello Nasty – Beastie Boys

These guys bridge the gap between rock, hip hop and dance so effortlessly. I was blown away by the Beastie Boys during the whole MTV2 years.

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The album I’d like to see live, in its entirety, back to back is…

3 Feet High and Rising – De La Soul

I feel like I don’t get to see enough Hip Hop music when we are playing festivals or whatever but this album would be amazing to see in it’s entirety.

devotion

The album that evokes a specific memory is…

Devotion – Beach House

This record reminds me of my first flat after moving out from mum and dad. My flat mate used to play it all the time and its a really beautiful record.

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If the world was ending, the last album I’d want to hear is…

Transformer – Lou Reed

One of my all time favourite albums. Featuring two of my all time favourite guys, Lou Reed and David Bowie. This is maybe the closet thing to a perfect record in my eyes so it’s fitting that it would be the last thing I ever hear.

Gengahr’s ‘A Dream Outside’ is due June 15th via Transgressive.

Gilbert Crockett interview

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One of the best parts of being involved in skateboarding is appreciating someone else’s natural ability to ride one, especially when they are straight-forward rolling like Gilbert Crockett. The Virginian may have been left in Alien Workshop limbo with the rest of the team exactly a year ago, but it didn’t slow down his ability to progress whatsoever. He just pushed faster.

With a killer new part under his wing in the new Vans Propeller movie and launching a new skate company, Mother Collective, he’s had his work cut out, but Crockett’s attitude on and off a board comes across as nothing but refreshing. Chris Pulman spoke with him the week before Propeller hit screens to speak about the good things that have gone down of late:

Looks like you have a busy year ahead. You must be pretty excited?

Yes, I am. I can’t wait to see this video.

I guess filming for the Vans video is pretty much wrapped up by now. Are you happy with what you have for it?

Yeah, we’re all done. I am happy with what I have, it’s been a long time coming.

It’s gonna be pretty epic purely from the list of riders Vans has. Is there anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing a part from?

I’m really looking forward to AVE’s and Daniel’s parts, but also just the whole thing. I can’t wait to see what Greg does.

Greg Hunt has some formidable projects under his belt and a real ability for communicating skateboarding in a genuine way. Do you get any direction from him? Do you have a strong vision of how you’d like to be portrayed or is more a case of ‘just get on with it’ and do what you do as best and as interestingly as you can?

I think Greg and I see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I think what you said is true about him doing things in a genuine way, and that is definitely a goal of mine when trying to put something together. So, I think I’m definitely just inspired by Greg, and working with him motivates me because I feel like we have a mutual respect about both of us wanting to do our job well and be happy with what we make.

The feeling I get from watching the Cellout and Bust Crew videos is that you use your talent to skate everything you come across. There’s a real genuine excitement from the act of skateboarding that comes across from these. It reminds me of being younger and street skating and trying to do everything on anything. Do you still get that excitement of real challenges in real surroundings?

Yes of course. Skateboarding for me at this point is sort of an intimate, emotional thing for me. If I’m skating the shittiest ledge you’ve ever seen with my friends and everyone is excited and having fun and trying to do whatever we can on it, I’m going to skate better than when I’m on a more serious session and I can feel everything around me like, “Wow, I called this session out and I’m wasting everyone’s time if I don’t get this”. But even then, I want to try to get a clip or a photo that my friends will be siked on.

Do you think that’s a reflection of growing up in Virginia? I’ve never been there, but I’m guessing, like a lot of us that didn’t grow up in major cities, you have to make do with the architecture that’s directly in front of you.

Yeah. It definitely has to do with that, and also, I think getting older and after you’ve been skating for 10-15 years, you start to want to just fuck around with spots that you’ve driven by your whole life, and just learn how to skate different shit, or shittier shit.

At a time when a lot of media is digested in disposable web-clips and instagram posts, what do you feel is the purpose of a full-length skate film?

I think the full length video is just the real deal. It’s just doing it, really doing it. And when you do it right, it’s unmistakable. You can’t just pump these things out like you can a fucking web edit, they take YEARS to make, and you can see it. Videos that are made like this have an impact for a reason; they live in real skate shops and on skateboarders’ bookshelves — they’re not just taking up space.

Apart from the easily accessible nature of instagram clips, I also think that they’re inherently genuine. In a world where kids are hammered by a lot of shallow marketing, do you think that this genuineness is what really appeals to the skaters?

I don’t know, everything is so clouded. It’s hard to tell who is keeping it real anymore. But I try really hard to not hate and just pay attention to the people I like.

gilbert_crockett_switchflipI’ve heard that you’re very details-orientated when it comes to footwear especially. Do you have any reasons for this that you’d like to share or do you suffer from the same level of OCD that most skateboarders have when it comes to their gear?

I mean, I can’t just wear whatever. It’s got to be tested and approved to be a part of “the uniform” which is what AVE calls it. A lot of skateboarders work like this: you find a pair of jeans, a couple shirts, and usually some sort of hat that works for you, and you just run it into the ground until it falls apart or until you have your next gear crisis.

I’ve also heard that you like to look at authentic things and processes, be it footwear or tattoos. Personally, I love to know how everything works from making skateboards, footwear construction, leather-working and carpentry. Do you have any other skills or interests that you pursue as doggedly?

Yeah, I definitely pay a lot of attention to detail and how things are made. I paint flash and have messed around with making some clothes recently, but I don’t really pursue any of it. Hopefully one day.

Ph: Anthony Acosta / Vans

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Your first Vans pro shoe is looking great. The Wafflecup seems like a perfect way to bring a little more consistency to a vulc-style shoe without losing any of the qualities that make that construction perfect for skateboarding. Have you had a lot of say in the development of that construction? There look to have been some subtle developments since the earlier Vans Stage IV shoes.

Yeah, it’s great. I really love it. My shoe is just the next generation of the waffle cup sole, we just found ways to improve it. I can’t say enough good things about the shoe and about Vans for letting me design a shoe that I love.

You’ve also included a mid-top version, which looks to be based on one of Vans’ longest running shoes, the Half Cab, do you wear either style in preference for any kind of terrain or do they both feel equally as good to you?

I usually skate the lows, but I always get into a mid phase like once a year or so where I’ll wear them for a while. I love both.

Ph: Greg Hunt / Vans

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Now that Mother Collective has launched, it must be a relief to end all the speculation after the AWS sabbatical. Is that how it feels?

What happened with Workshop was inevitable. AVE and Dill knew that, but here we are, and I’m happy that it did.

Lastly, I spied your Vans team page quickly before I started these questions and noticed that you mention ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a good philosophy for making the most of one’s lifetime. Is philosophy something that interests you a lot?

I don’t really pay much attention to it, but I do love that book, a lot of things inspire me, that was one of them.

Any philosophy on skateboarding that you’d like to end this with?

Have fun with your friends, stay up late and eat pie.

Interview by Chris Pulman.
Illustration by George Yarnton.
Gifs by Henry Calvert.
Download Vans’ Propeller skate video here.

Follow @crossfirezine on FB, Insta, Twitter and Tumblr for daily skate shit: *SINCE 2001*

Joe Howard interview

Joe Howard, Melon to Rock, Stockwell, 2014

Joe Howard is one of those people whose skateboarding makes you sit up and take notice. An angry and powerful style which makes everything he does look like he is acting out a personal vendetta against coping; grinds as long as you like, and any air to truck or tail smack at will.

Joe specializes in skateboarding that looks like a bar fight!

Coming from someone as chilled out as he is just makes it seem even gnarlier (ignoring the time he tried to fight the whole of Hastings town centre, that’s another story), and his brand of transition destruction is fuelled as much by roots reggae and dancehall as it is by hardcore punk.

Jono Coote caught up with Joe to talk about The Ripped, Yorkshire, Copenhagen and badly timed ankle injuries but before you get stuck in, enjoy his fast-as-fuck footage put together by Ross Brunton shot down at the HOV and Brixton Beach.

Ph above: Melon to rock at Stockwell’s crack house. All photos courtesy of Paul Graham.

When did you start skating, and what was your first set up?

Coming up to 10 years strong I reckon now. As far as I remember I got my first board from the local car boot – some fishtail biscuit with pink rails. I remember learning my first trick on that number, dead stop shuv-it’s in the pub car park because it wouldn’t roll right! Good you know it had probably been melting away in some bloke’s damp cellar since 1989. After that short lived introduction to the useless wooden toy I can’t really remember being stoked on a particular set up for a long time. I had a few no branders for a while, you know, I couldn’t afford a ‘pro’ deck for a long time, I was just happy to be skating. I guess I just used to buy what was cheapest at the time, saving up all my paper round money and heading over to Wisdom skate shop at the time; usually something British like Blueprint, Death or Heroin – mostly Death. They had the best team growing up. I think the first video I bought was Escape from Boredom, that got me hyped.

I first met you skating the legendary Ripped skatepark (RIP) in Dewsbury – explain that spot for those who didn’t manage to get to skate there?

It was the real crust, heart and soul of northern skateboarding growing up for me and my pals. Situated on the outskirts of one of West Yorkshire’s finest shite’ole towns, Dewsbury. The ‘crete coping was loud, Sex Pistols played on repeat, the bonfires were high and the death matches went all night! Everything that was edible was deep fat fried, no one knew who paid in and all nine cats that lived there were addicted to cali. Skinnyman played there once wearing nowt but denim, rapping away in the middle of the park, that was pretty raw. You would leave sleepless with graffiti in your lungs covered in cat shit but they were always nights to remember, hands down, every time. Snoz is the business!

Fakie thruster in Tottenham’s scum hole.

Joe Howard, Fakie Thruster, Tottenham, 2014

Do you have any good stories from those times? The Listerine moonshine night always stands out for me…

The moonshine was gnarly. Instant headache gear and you aren’t tasting shit for days, that stuff was battery acid for sure. I remember when place first opened, it was a right dust fest. The transition was a real slip n’ slide, so Mad Snoz decided to mix up a portion of paint and sand giving the ramps a real good seeing to! You can only imagine the scabby aftermath.

It seems like once the Ripped closed and all you guys got older, most people moved to Leeds – who still skates in the area now?

I think I’m the last man standing to be honest, I’ve been a lone rider for some time in this town now. But like you said, most of the fam live in Leeds now so I spend a lot of time over there. You know it’s pretty sweet to know there’s always a couch to crash on when you’re rolling with the boys, holla for the hospitality fellas!

I spent the last 3 years traveling up and down from London too, as my piece of fluff moved there for uni. It would be rad to move to London or some city with a strong scene one day but got too much love for Yorkshire still. RWTB!

If in doubt just throw yourself at it…

Throw on Wallride, Gateshead, 2015

As someone who appreciates a good transition, give us a top 5 list of skate parks you’ve been too?

1) Brixton Beach, (Stockwell) UK
2) Faelledparken, the Hullet, Christiana bowl: can’t beat Copenhagen turf.
3) La Cantera, Bilbao
4) Mechelen DIY, Belgium
5) Tottenham DIY, UK

How about the top five destinations you’d like to visit to skate?

1) SF
2) Oregon
3) Scotland
4) West Indies
5) Germany

Staying with the travel hype, you’ve done Copenhagen a few times now – how would you describe it for those who haven’t been?

A comfortable hell ride every time. Everyone should go there and get a slice.

You’ve recently got hooked up with Anti-Hero, Independent and Spitfire through Shiner..

Yeah, I feel blessed to be getting flowed my all-time favourite companies off them, so stoked! 18 has been my fuel since I was younger watching all the old videos round Lee Rozee’s house, there ain’t no other company that emits so much energy and never will be.

You can add this photo to that Tumblr of skaters not wearing Nike’s.

joe fs wallride

Did you manage to skate at all after fucking your ankle on the first day of the most recent trip?

The Indy trip was a total wipe out for me on the first stop. I was just getting into the session and I just chicken footed down the tranny and my trotter bust; you know I snapped it before when I was young, so it’s real weak and that. It’s been a few months now tip-toeing about. Luckily I didn’t break it this time, just messed up the ligaments real good and that, but I am back on my board now. Besides from that shit all the guys smashed it! Seeing Colin Adam skate up there was rad. I remember seeing him do eggs in Faelledparken deep a few years ago all pissed up, they don’t call him a cannibal for nothing!

I know you’re into vinyl, especially reggae and dancehall, have you picked up anything good recently or is there any good shit you want posted up with this interview?

Yer for sure. I get bits now and again but wax is expensive especially with riddim there’s not that many record shops around west Yorkshire for that kind of stuff. I like to go rooting in London sometimes and I guess a lot of the new stuff is digital nowadays but you can’t beat that reggae turntable sound. I like lots of music, it all depends what mood I’m in to what I buy or listen to like I’m sure most folk do. At the moment I’ve been digging this new album my good friend Sam Barrett just brought out. Check it! These are my homies and my inspiration.

How did you get into reggae? I know Huddersfield has a legendary background in reggae sound systems, but you’re also into punk music which is what got me into reggae?

Yeah I guess when I was younger I used to listen to a lot of old British punk which got me well into the roots and early skinhead stuff, like all the Trojan releases and that which got me hyped. I guess everything I’ve listened to stems from rooting through my dad’s music pulling stuff out like Killing Joke, Bauhaus, Yellowman and even N.W.A when I was younger lived through all the genres. I remember him telling me to get hold of a Burning Spear album when he knew I was into that stuff telling that reggae don’t get better than that so I guess he has always introduced good music to me growing up. Huddersfield still has a little reggae scene going on, I used to go to the carnival there as a young whipper snapper to stand as close as I could get to the sound systems until my bones rattled and my ear drums burst.

Let’s sign this off with your top five Yorkshire skaters?

Let’s have a couple extra:

-Lee Rozee
-Doug Mclaughlan
-Lois Pendlebury
-Paul Graham
-Jordan Kaye
-Ben Lister (AKA Bruce)
-Felix Owuso-Kwarteng

Joe rides the lightning for Anti Hero, Spitfire, Independent, Hoax MFG and Rip Ride Skateshop.

He loves Madonna too… to fakie.

Joe - Madonna Fakie

Purling Hiss interview

Interview by Nick Hutchings
Photography by Aaron Biscoe (portrait) and Tiffany Yoon

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The Replacements are back! But if they weren’t it wouldn’t have mattered because they had a ready-made replacement and that was the band Purling Hiss. Boasting a delicious Spooner-ism for a name, Purling Hiss is the alter ego of Mike Polizze. As KRS One might have said “it’s the sound of the Polizze!” As James Naughtie on the Radio 4 Today programme may have announced them “Hurling Piss”.

This is a band chock full of tunes, and attitude. Polizze has been making music as Purling Hiss for a good while, starting off in his bedroom recording spiky four-four four tracks full of hiss and piss, but since 2013’s “Water on Mars” he’s become a full band mostly so he can (fuzz) peddle (sic) his enthralling brand of weirdo punk pop on the road proper.

At the tail end of last year he snuck out the amusingly titled “Weirdon” on Drag City Records and like a F117A Stealth bomber it buzzed under the radar but laid a string of cluster-banging garage rockers in my head and made my cerebral cortex caustic. He counts Kurt Vile and War on Drugs Adam Granduciel as fans but he’d certainly made a new one in me.

With songs like “Forcefield of Solitude” that are part Pavement, part Petty, and pure pop nuggets like “Learning Slowly” that feel like J Mascis was sticking a rocket up Real Estate’s winsome posterior, it’s fair to say that “Weirdon” has been on repeat play. If you like the Meat Puppets or the Minutemen then this band could be your life. I spoke to Mike about his, on the eve of their European tour…

How would you describe Purling Hiss to the uninitiated?

We’re just a rock band simple. It didn’t start out that way. I didn’t have a band, I was just documenting recording ideas on my 4-track recorder and I just wanted to make some really fuzzed out psychedelic harsh sort of punk songs. Then I passed them around to WMFU the radio station in Jersey City near New York and I remember hand-assembling CDs and it became a thing. Small labels picked it up and put it on vinyl before I even I had a band. For people who don’t know who we are it started off as a side project of mine that turned into a band. It picked up when Kurt Vile asked me if I wanted to go on tour and I formed a band because of that. It’s just electric guitar music inspired by rock, pop, punk, psych sort of stuff.

So the previous album “Water on Mars” was that the first one as a band?

Yeah, that was the first one to have other people on it, and the first Drag City record.

How did it change having a band, was it still you writing or do others chip in?

It was still me writing but the difference was I brought the ideas to the practice where we hashed them out and rehearsed. You can really hear the difference. For one we’re in a studio so it’s better quality and you can hear it more clearly. It’s weird; you just document and keep going.

I love that record, I love all the albums but I’m so used to making my own recordings and having complete control so it’s a learn as you go sort of a thing. “Water on Mars” was like a band-rehearsed album that we cut in the studio.

Did you have a producer in the studio?

We went with our local favourite best friend Jeff Zeigler and also Adam Granduciel from War on Drugs was involved and helped out too. He was a great guiding light. Him and Jeff were together a lot so it was putting more heads together and Adam knew how we played and he could communicate with Jeff who’s got a great ear and a great studio. That was a good experience for us.

It must be weird going from bedroom where it’s all you to a studio with a producer…

The weirdest part about it is people on the receiving end, the listeners – I understand they want to identify the artists a certain way and before they saw the band, those old recordings to me are almost like sketches or drawings or paintings. They’re sort of in the distance, they sound older. And the way you’re hearing it that way – those old lo fi recordings there’s no way you’re going to hear it live like that.

There’s some bands that pull it off but I did it sort of ass backwards, because all I was doing was just making recordings for myself. I didn’t know it was going to turn into a band or else I might have done it differently.

So I sort of started over again and you just keep moving forward. Sometimes you alienate people and sometimes you gain new fans. I have no idea. I’ve heard mixed reviews and it’s just my honest trajectory forwards. This is the timeline, this is the narrative that’s happening. I didn’t have a band and then I did and then the band mates changed and we did the last record (“Weirdon”) with someone differently. There are a couple of change ups but in the end it’s still me and it’s still guitar music.

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How is it taking direction in the studio?

I admittedly had a bit of a hard time with the first record even though I loved all the people, it was my own responsibility, and it was hard to adjust because I felt naked. I could layer things on my own but it was mirroring back exactly what I was putting out. It was hard getting with band mates and working with other people’s ideas and so I kind of used that album as a measuring stick. After it came out I was like how do I want to move forward from here because that was my first experience.

After “Water On Mars” we went to Europe, that was two years ago, and I remember coming back and in Spring/Summer of 2013 I wrote “Weirdo” and I demo-end it on my own in the Fall, and then a year ago I went up to New York and recorded with Jason Meagher who recorded Steve Gunn, Jack Rose, Blues Control. It was less of a band album, I had different band mates – I had my drummer Jason from Birds of Maya play drums on it, and sometimes I did songs by myself. It felt back to a solo album in a way, that’s not to say the guys didn’t bring a band vibe.

The album was really written on my own and the band that we’ve had lately has sort of turned into a band on the last few tours. Working with Jason was great; it had that more homespun feel to it. Kind of ramshackle. There’s some highlights of heavy guitar stuff but it’s sonically almost lo-fi feeling even though it’s hi-fi at the same time.

It’s super poppy, has that always been there, trying to get out?

It’s kind of funny I’ve always loved pop and hooks and song structure and I definitely wanted to display some songwriting in the last couple of albums because I’ve always got the shredder sort of moniker, and that’s cool. When I was putting out the two Purling Hiss records they’re very guitar heavy and that was supposed to be sort of experimental and heavy on the guitar and less about songs structure, but if you listen to some of the poppy stuff like the album I did on the label Mexican Summer (“Lounge Lizards”) they had pop elements too but they were so lo-fi they came off as experimental but this latest album is definitely poppy.

My next step is to take a step back and just chill and combine some of the guitar work and the pop and see where I can take it from here. But I love pop music, I really do.

PurlingHiss_WEIRDON_MINI

What is a “Weirdon”?

I like things whether they’re songs or lyrics where you might not get a clear picture but you might get a couple of ideas what something is. It makes things interactive, like Purling Hiss – people think it means Hurling Piss, but it actually doesn’t mean that. But I realized that at the end and it’s a great icing on the cake. I was like cool – leave them hanging, and also it shows I do have a sense of humour but that’s not why I named the band that.

“Weirdon” sounds like “hard on” but also like a planet “I’m from the Planet Weirdon”. It can be anything you want as long as it conjures some imagery. Some of the drawings on there are gonzo-y and weird. Maybe it’s just me but a couple of people have said, “Well your album’s not that weird”. It doesn’t have to be, but some of the songs are weird. They’re silly and fun, some are serious. I wanted it to be trippy in a wide-eyed kind of a way. Gonzo-y or exaggerated in a pop way rather than in a psych guitar way like I’ve done in the past.

“Purling Hiss” is a great Spoonerism like when Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary was mixed on Radio 4’s Today programme…I’m amazed that wasn’t the reason.

When I first came up with it, it was an experiment I was doing on the guitar. I didn’t know if it was the band name or the name of the recording. I was really into weird guitar tones and fuzz and white noise. I looked up white noise and it occurs in nature too in streams and water “sssh” sound. I looked up some words I could think of and Purling means stitching and also the swirling effect in a stream or river so I thought that was cool imagery to complement the music. And “Hiss” is an obvious word; it has a ring to it.

I was thinking about calling it Hissing Purl at first but then I thought Purling Hiss sounds better and then I didn’t even realize until later it was a Spoonerism too but that was just funny. There’s a little bit more depth to the meaning of the name.

PurlingHiss_WEIRDON_TiffanyYoon_01

You obviously have a sense of humour – what’s the lyric in one of your songs about 6pm?

“It’s the end of time, it’s about 6pm”. It’s nonsense. To just combine the elements of a song, the way the music sounds you choose a couple of words, and certain inflexions and it comes off in a peculiar way but it doesn’t have to mean anything.

It’s hard to be a Bob Dylan type and tell a story that’s a clear picture. “Sundance Saloon” is an interesting bar full of characters but maybe it was a drunken guy lamenting about the end of the world. He could be right, or he could be crazy. It’s not really clear.

The other thing about the lyrics there seem to be a lot of female names crop up – for instance Sadie…

All that song really is, is images of me driving and listening to the Beatles even though it doesn’t make sense because I said “Revolver”’s on and “Sexy Sadie” is not on that album but it doesn’t matter. I’m driving and listening, and instead of “Fortress of Solititude” I say “Forcefield” but sometimes that’s my favourite place to be in the van, because it’s your think tank – just talking about things. And going down 95, the main highway.

It was supposed to be about after the last tour I did and getting back and we were touring in that same vehicle and it is home sometimes. It’s crazy because it’s so small.

What is your vehicle?

It’s a Mini Van, and the back seat’s out and it’s really on its last legs, but it’s sentimental in a lot of ways because I’ve been all over the country with it a bunch of times and been through a lot of crazy situations and it’s got many miles on it.

Have you given it a name?

Yeah, Silverwing because I hit a wall and we did a bodywork job on it and it’s grey, just the primer on it. I never painted it. It’s a red mini van with a silver wing. In actual fact that’s a lyric in the song too.

How many people do you cram in that?

There are 3 of us.

Is that why the band members have changed around since the two albums?

Yeah, you know it’s just opportunities to join other bands have come up.

They’re not sick of you in the Silver Wing?

Sick of the van – four years of doing the same thing. Jobs keep you home that sort of thing.

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When you come over on the tour are you going to use that as an opportunity for writing?

Sometimes touring is busy enough where I don’t really get to be creative but sometimes you get a couple of hours to yourself to play guitar and it all comes out. I imagine I’ll come up with some ideas. I think last time I was in Europe with the band, towards the end of the tour I started using voice memos on my phone to record ideas and it was a new phone for me then. It was the first iPhone I got and I just have hundreds and hundreds of voice memos now cos it’s just so easy to hit record and throw down a 20s idea so I don’t forget about it.

With the tour, what can people expect to see? Lots of between song chat?

Usually not too much banter in between. I talk a little bit and we’ll play a lot of stuff off “Weirdon”, we’ll play a couple of songs from “Water On Mars” and a couple of old ones. It’ll be a three piece. We’ve even got a few new songs. We played a benefit in Philly last weekend and we played some new songs that went over pretty well so that was nice.

Do you throw any shapes?

More just dropping to the knees and making feedback into the amp and rolling around on the floor, all that stuff.

What’s your favourite song to play live?

I like “Learning Slowly” a lot. That’s one of the singles off the album for new stuff. “Six Ways To Sunday” is a fun one to play, we do a little jam at the end. “Airwaves” is fun, that quick pop song. We do a Minutemen jam at the end, meets the Meat Puppets stuff, that’s fun to play. Those three songs for newer stuff. But also “Mercury Retrograde” is fun, “Run From The City” is an old one we still play.

Weirdon is out now on Drag City Records.

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät interview

Photos and thanks to: Kalle Pajamaa

Pertti_Kurikan_Nimipäivät_KALLE_Eurovision1

When we announced the news that Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät were chosen to participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the news spread like wildfire. Why? Because PKN are one of the hardest working bands out there, living a dream playing punk rock to underground crowds, whilst also living with their own learning disabilities. The support for them is massive.

On February 7th a national vote will take place on Finnish TV to find the artist their country wants to front the competition. It’s a very different place from playing punk rock venues with the likes of their UK mates Hard Skin who we saw play in London last October, but they need your vote to get through.

Regardless of our British ties, we would love to see Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät go all the way, so if you are reading this, get right behind them and spread the word as far as you can!

If PKN are new to your radar, some of the band knew each other from when they were younger, some of them met in working in the same culture workshop. Together they work daily with radio shows, making music and other culture following the success of their amazing film ‘The Punk Syndrome’ – it’s a phenomenal story, go scout it out.

Who would have thought that the journey would take you to Eurovision! Are you excited or dreading it?

Toni: Yes I am excited.

Kari: I am excited because it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

How did you become involved in it? It was definitely the biggest surprise of all time.

Kari: Pertti is a Eurovision fan. He likes them and knows who have previously won the contest.

Pertti: Yeah, I’ve always been a great fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. I wanted to play there, so we had to take part in the UMK contest first! And PKN was chosen!

Do you have to prepare many tracks for the competition in advance?

Toni: We had three new songs that were not released yet. We recorded them and sent them to the “jury”. They chose the song “Aina mun pitää” and took the band in. We also made a music video for it.

Knowing it’s Eurovision, will you compromise and write any poppier material for this competition?

Toni: No, only punk rock.

Kari: No way!

Have you worked any funny dance routines yet for your set to blend in with everyone else?

Toni: No. But I will dance if the television is filming me.

Knowing that Lordi from your home country won it in 2006, are you planning to wear similar costumes?!

Toni: Of course!

Kari: No. I will use my own clothing. My motorcycle vest!

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Has Lordi been in touch yet, or are they still stuck in those costumes unable to communicate with other bands since?!

Toni: We were playing with him in Rovaniemi. He came along and sang our song Pyhäpäivä with us.

Kari: He’s also been singing with us. We met and traded phone numbers. He sent our manager a text message a few weeks ago, cheered us on and wished us good luck!

Is there a communal desire to spread the good message that others with learning difficulties can achieve the things they want with some well earnt support within this competition?

Toni: That’s right.

Kari: I hope so!!!

Knowing that TV and social media can be a cruel place to be when it comes to the general public having opinions on people’s music, are you ready for the potential backlash?

Toni: I am ready.

Kari: I know and I’m ready.

What message to you have for the haters?

Kari: You don’t have to insult us for a reason like this. If you want to achieve something in your own life, you have to do it. And this is something I want to do.

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From seeing you at previous shows, Kari sometimes gets excited and rocks out with an erection in his pants, have you thought of ways of keeping it down if you reach the final so you are not disqualified?!

Toni: We will not win.

Kari: I will not take my penis out at the Eurovision, but other gigs, it’s alright!

Our mutual friend Sean from Hard Skin is famously a big fan of previous winners Abba, as he seems to always DJ their music at punk shows, in an ideal world would you prefer to see him front:

A) Puppet on a String in 1967 (video)
B) Ding A Dong in 1975 – (video)
C) or…Making Your Mind Up in 1981 (video)

Kari: Making Your Mind Up! Sean is an Abba fan. I like that 70s music too even though I sing different kind of music. If Sean will leave Hard Skin and start singing this kind of music, he would have fun and nice time. He could jump and swing and sing those kind of songs!

Ha! We will try and fix that for you, I’m sure he will be up for it. So finally, are you in it to win it?

Toni: We are going to win. If we win.

Kari: It’ll feel very great, good and awesome. If you’re in for something, you must enjoy it. Full heart.

Good luck from all of us out here, we will be right behind you!

Kari: Wonderful!! Very good! Very yes!

Introducing: Babysitter

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Canada’s output of musical talent has always been class A, with a thriving underground scene and a tight live circuit it’s one of the best places to be right now for a new band.

A perfect consequence of this ever developing scene comes in the form of Babysitter, who caught out attention back in May when Lindsay from Fist City tipped us off about their garage filled punk tones. We caught up with singer/guitarist Kristian North to find out where the trio’s headed next, and how they make their psychedelic concoction sound so damn good.

Please run us through how Babysitter all started.

Me and Andy started jamming in summer of 2010, Babysitter was just a name suggested by a friend that stuck, some different people were in the band, we made some tapes and played a bunch of shows and now it’s 2013!

By the looks of it, you guys have produced quite a few releases since you got together, how do you manage to put that much input into the band, are you all doing it full time?

We’ve been doing it as often as possible, we all like playing music so it’s easy because we all make an effort, we make no money though, we’ve been on tour, unemployed a good chunk of the year and I’m sure we’ll have to go get jobs somewhere soon. Just getting together as much as possible and recording on some of the earlier tapes got gears turning and new songs coming out and we just work with that momentum. In 2013 though we’ve really focused on just touring the album.

There’s a real gritty punk aspect to your sound but you can also grunge that shit deep. How has your sound changed over the time you have been together as this band?

We’re all interested in different types of music and we don’t think of the band as having a sound or style necessarily. We use improvisation in our shows and on our albums as well so the creative process is more organic i think, we’re just sorta playing what we can and what sounds good and it changes on it’s own.

Babysitter – Whole Hole from morgan rhys tams on Vimeo.

You sound like the kind of band that likes to either put on a riot of a show, or cook up some acoustic smoke around an open fire under the stars. Do you spend any time outdoors crafting your wares acoustically before the rehearsal space jams take place?

We all camp on tour when we have days with no shows or whatever. Usually we just make noise wherever we are jamming, songs are introduced and just slowly learned over time. I guess we’ve had some acoustic guitar jams on the tapes and record but i don’t remember ever showing the dudes a song on acoustic guitar, i do like some acoustic though. Usually the song writing process is pretty collaborative, if i write a song it’s pretty skeletal and it gets fleshed out a lot in the jam space or on stage.

What did you all grow up listening to? I kind of guess you have a record collection that has a bunch of different stuff in it from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Devo to Mudhoney, Minor Threat and The Men, would I be close?

That’s such a broad, unanswerable question man but we definitely all love Neil Young, can’t say as much for Crosby, Stills and Nash. These days we just listen to the tapes we come across at thrift stores on our vans’ shitty sound system. In Kingston, Ontario we picked up a reggae greatest hits album that’s getting pretty heavy rotation right now.

It’s rare these days to see bands going down the analogue route to record, how did you end up choosing this route over home based pro-tools and computer programs?

We are just interested in it, particularly Andy – he records a lot of our stuff. It just sounds better to our ears and the simplicity puts focus back into the playing of our instruments and writing of our songs. We have digital recordings released as well.

The fact that you have captured such a raw, live sound from this process should be a lesson for most bands that struggle with releasing records that feel static, how important is that live to you guys, I hear you change your sets on a dime?

We’ve been playing some different types of sets on the road, we had our friend JLK join us on stage in Montreal and Toronto for a few psychedelic sets together which were all improv and turned out awesome. We’ve been touring a lot and not introducing many new songs into the sets this year so we do some more jamming in between songs to keep it fresh. Spontaneity is important to us.

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What’s the most random situation you have been in whilst in the middle of a live show?

Nothing’s really coming to mind, it’s all a blur really. Back in may in Decatur, which is sort of on the outskirts of Atlanta, we played a show in a house where the power had been cut that day and they had gotten a generator so the show could go on, when it got dark everyone was walking around with their cellphones as flashlights and the house was all lit by candles. We got on maybe around 11 and by about our second or third song the cops arrived so we stopped playing assuming our set was done. We’ve had our fair share of sets cut short by pigs now, strangely though they just told them they were having a show or whatever and the cops just said to close the door and carry on. Sorta reasonable, but I thought that was pretty weird.

What other labels other than Psychic Handshake are doing the business?

We’ve done releases with Dub Ditch Picnic, Planet of the Tapes, Electric Voice, Totally Disconnected, Student Loan, and Onec.

Likening your process to black and white photographs is a pretty good way of processing the thought behind the making of your music, if you were to cast a flash on one of the most insane times throughout the history of the band to date, what would be printed?

Again everything sort of melts together in my memory, right now we are really doing it out on the highway and everything so I’m going to say that the present and the future are looking pretty good. What we’ve done is cool and i have fond memories and everything but what we are going to do soon is what I’m excited about.

The Canadian music scene has always delivered amazing bands from D.O.A to Fist City, Black Mountain and Fucked Up. How is the underground scene moving forwards out there, how tight knit is the live circuit, and what bands should we look out for who are new and on the up?

Canada is doing great these days, but Weird Canada has really helped strengthen the music community across the country. There’s consistently good music on there, all Canadian content, they have been getting grants and putting on shows and they are starting a Canadian distribution system and all this cool stuff.

There’s lots of rad bands, some favorites include JLK, Mormon Crosses, Shearing Pinx, Pink Noise, Cleopatra and the Nile, Cindy Lee, Iceberg Ferg, Krang, The Slabs, Mourning Coup, White Poppy, and Bash Bros…. but I’m probably forgetting some. There’s lots of strange and good new bands popping up all over the place.

So finally, when will Babysitter be working their magic on UK crowds?

We’re ready now or anytime! Someone help us!!

EYE is out now and available for download now, go here for the LP.

Baby Godzilla

Baby Godzilla
‘A Good Idea Realised’
Free Download

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If you have not witnessed Baby Godzilla yet and are a hardcore fan then prepare for a taste of pure quality that is out there within the British scene right now. This monstrously tight Nottingham four-piece are delivering one of the best live shows you will see out there right now, and to support this onslaught, they are also releasing various tracks from their brand new EP, ‘Knockout Machine’ for free throughout June.

Their first of four freebies is ‘A Good Idea Realised‘. Coming in at just 1.43 on the clock, this surging explosion of ferocious hardcore is served with a stabbing set of riffs, absolutely pounding drums and twin dose of serial screaming; so be mentally prepared for a relentless frenzy from the first note.

It will not be long until this band are filling venues countrywide, which is not a problem, as BG have a tendency to ply their trade in the audience as opposed to on stage. This band are absolutely awe-inspiring to see face to face but get a taster of the chaos that is spawning out there right now and download this free track today from here. If you nearby to London, note their residency shows at the Black Heart in Camden on 6th and 20th of June and 4th July. Miss these and you will kick yourself in the future.

Read more about Baby Godzilla in their Crossfire interview here.