A visit to ‘The Seaside’ again with Cardiacs

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I was once a Little Man aged 11 looking out of my Little House through my parents Whole World Window. It was a beautifully innocent time hanging out in the burbs of Surrey, riding my BMX after homework through wet leaves and spiky conkers, not giving a hoot about anything. The stereo in my bedroom played 7″ records from Adam Ant, The Jam, The Specials and Madness, slabs of vinyl bought on a Saturday afternoon in the little independent record shop in our hometown of Sutton. Chick-a-Boom, was owned by an overweight biker who sat behind the counter with a huge beard. Aside from his overwhelming presence I loved the smell of the vinyl there, as opposed to the big store on the high street they called Woolworth’s, where my Mum preferred visiting for her records. Collecting music weekly became something special but as you know, the Whole World Window is a very special and endless space – where discovery, is everything.

Somewhere hidden in the suburbs of the same county in 1984, Cardiacs were preparing the release of their original cassette of The Seaside. They were only a few miles down the road. Their off-the-wall, psychedelic punk rock was being distributed to the ears of the chosen few throughout Kingston Uni and the suburban alternative pubs like The Mill and in other small towns nearby in Surbiton, Teddington and beyond. Little did I know that a few years later just one sniff of Cardiacs’ musical drug would change my entire life, forever.

Trying to explain Cardiacs’ sound to those who have never heard them before was always difficult. Like Victorian funfair music in a knife fight with John Carpenter; an horrific, terrifyingly exciting sound that should be used for torture purposes, they said. It wasn’t for everyone, but I wasn’t everyone, I fell in love on first play and made it the soundtrack to my life. We had a crew of us at school who worshipped the band but most people thought we were weirdos. This was a local band, one that our brothers had past down the line to us and we totally enjoyed being those weirdos. It was an honour to wear that badge…with the flower on it.

Cardiacs’ live shows were like anti-theatrical minefields that detonated every single explosive part of your brain. They left you in tiny pieces, excelling you to the verge of heart attack with excitement whilst every breath of air around you (and a huge fan) pushed tiny pieces of confetti into the air creating a dream-like scenario – kinda like the best acid trip of all time but without the strychnine come-down. And so it began, my Cardiacs virginity was taken at NESCOT college on February 10th, 1989 and it left me turned completely inside out. I remember leaving that room feeling like a lost dog, confused, horny and wreckless, with my lipstick hanging out. Only Cardiacs fans are going to read these words so you know exactly what I’m talking about. The question is: Where did you lose yours? Tell us in the comments at the end of this waffle.

Ph: Steve Payne

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William D. Drake’s keyboard prowess, Dominic’s incredible precision drumming, percussionist Tim Quy’s vital inclusion, Sarah’s huge smile and her mighty presence on sax all made the shows shine like nothing else. Jim Smith’s bass playing, down trodden persona and incessant bullying, dished out by brother Tim, made the show the most unnerving experience I’d ever seen. Tim’s ranting, swinging of his guitar and insane facial expressions was pure madness, but oh so controlled and delivered like a pro. All other bands playing live at that time in Ewell seemed boring and pointless, so finally I had found Armageddon in music form and it became an instant obsession. I hit the road to as many Cardiacs shows that I could get to with my new driving license and crappy brown Ford Fiesta. It made for a decent bed after the gigs finished too.

The biggest problem with my new found addiction was that their Seaside album, released on cassette, seemed to be some sort of myth. Kind of like what Animal Chin was for skateboarders; you couldn’t find it anywhere but it left inspiration with everyone who came in contact with it. The internet and mobile phones didn’t exist of course – just fanzines, the fan club and record fairs, so I searched far and wide for The Seaside (The Obvious Identity and Toy World) until a friend’s friend of a friend came good with a blank TDK D60 copy. All I ever wanted were the originals though and to this day they still evade me. The CD re-issue in 1995 (and 1990) were must-haves but a few of my favourite tracks from the live shows didn’t make the pressings.

Hearing ‘Dinner Time’ on the new re-issue today made me bounce off the walls. It was like discovering Cardiacs for the very first time again. Similarly, the mesmerising riff of ‘Nurses Whispering Verses’ was always a favourite live (alongside the chaotic punk rock assault of To Go Off and Things). These were rare gems in between the epic singles, ‘Is This the Life?’ and ‘A Little Man and a House’ – both legendary works from the amazing songwriting and production skills of Tim Smith. It’s very rare to find talent like this man was blessed with. Tim created another planet through his own World Window that we could all see, feel and touch – like nothing we had ever discovered before, or have been close to discovering since.

It breaks my heart to be reminiscing all of this right now knowing that Tim is unwell and has suffered through illness. Even though Cardiacs’ music is played weekly in these parts it always leaves me praying for his health – and I’m no religious man. He changed people’s lives forever and we are here right now to give it all back. I doff my hat to Tim Smith. Sir, you are a true musical legend.

Ph: Sarah Maher

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These words were written ten minutes after the album finished from hitting my email account today. The fingers did not stop, the memories came too fast and I just had to spit everything out. The re-issued record will be coming out via the Alphabet Business Concern on November 30th this year with those 4 tracks mentioned above and the original running order on CD, double gate-fold vinyl – both cut from the original 1984 1/4″ master reel. There’s also a tasty boxset coming, with the inclusion of replica newsletters, (YOUsletters) a cassette, poster, Walker prints, lyric booklet and a beautiful photo book containing previously unseen photography.

Prepare space in your wonderful record collection next month to re-own some magical musical history and enjoy listening to ‘Dinner Time’ from this release that we have been lucky enough to unleash for you today. It’s a marvellous tune that has been missing from the Cardiacs catalogue since the cassette release of The Seaside. Pre-order the box set here.

Big love to all Cardiacs followers worldwide.

Zac

Sound and Vision – Shepard Fairey Obey Exhibition

‘Sound and Vision’ by Shepard Fairey
Until November 4th, 2012
Stolenspace Gallery
E1 6QL, London

Words and photos by Phil Procter

shepardfairey_sound_vision_exhibitionIt’s been 5 years since Shepard Fairey’s OBEY camp invaded London with Nineteeneightyfouria and this time they are back for total Sound and Vision domination.

His brand new show hosted in London’s Brick Lane has been nothing short of a main attraction. Queues of onlookers have graced the pavements outside for the first few days to witness Shepard’s latest work, showcased alongside legendary sound commander, Z-Trip on the turntables. Z-Trip and Fairey have been collaborating together for years, and both attack their art with a punk mentality that is mixed with the cut and paste ethos of the classic late 80s Hip Hop sound.

Those who adore collecting mixtapes will no doubt be rushing to download his new mixtape which oozes a mash-up of classic Hip Hop and propoganda-inspired beats from the likes of Public Enemy and many more.

The emphasis of this show features the music that inspired Shepard to become an iconic figure in the art world. The installation of an old-skool record store enables you to delve into his collection of Fugazi, Public Enemy, the Sex Pistols and many more acts that influenced his desire to create. The art itself is spread over two spaces. The Stolenspace Gallery is dedicated to album art, while around the corner on Dray Walk, there’s a pop-up store hosting Obey Clothing and the main gallery space for his art which spans across 3 floors. The main building concentrates on influences, with a wall of fame dedicated to album art and portraits of leading members of different genres and subcultures. On display here are artists like Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as musicians that include the likes of Joe Strummer to John Lennon.. All who were chosen have one thing in common: They were pioneers in their own genres.

This is a huge body of work, exhibited in a fantastic warehouse setting. If you can make it down to the show there’s no doubt that you will be blown away by the scale of this project. With that in mind, it will no doubt be another 5 years until we see work like this again in the UK, but fear not, Fairey has been out and about in East London on this trip and more than left his indelible mark on the city. Get out there and find it.

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Sonisphere Festival 2011 preview

Yep, it’s that time of the year again! (Although it seems to have come along a little earlier this year). Sonisphere 2011 is upon us, and is currently doing the rounds in mainland Europe with blistering performances from the likes of Judas Priest and Mastodon. This year, however, it’s the UK’s turn to witness the Big Four of thrash – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax – together on these shores for the first time in history, and it’s arguably this which has made Sonisphere one of the most eagerly anticipated festivals of 2011.

Crossfire will be in attendance, so watch out for our review of the festival afterwards. In the meantime, here’s a list of bands that we’re looking forward to; from the huge Apollo Stage big guns to the up and coming talent that will be gracing the smaller stage. There’s something for everyone here, so get involved!

Slayer (Apollo Stage, Friday)

Arguably the most respected of the Big Four (as well as the only one to still boast all four original members), Slayer celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, but 2009’s ‘World Painted Blood’ album is proof enough that these thrash veterans haven’t mellowed with age. If there was a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, they’d probably still be rocking out amongst the cockroaches, but for now, the smart money’s on them inciting the craziest pits at Sonisphere.

Mastodon (Apollo Stage, Sunday)

What we can we say about this lot? Well, all you need to do is watch thier spankling brand new video here and decide for yourself if this is not one of the raddest bands that will play this festival. Get in there.

Motorhead (Apollo Stage, Sunday)

Some people (mainly fools) complain that Motorhead’s songs all sound the same – and whilst it’s true that Lemmy and co. have never given much thought to musical evolution, neither would you if you could play filthy, gut-level rock n’ roll as well as the ‘Head do. Nearly 40 years in the game, and they’re still delivering the musical equivalent of a gigantic one-finger salute. Expect to hear the classics (‘Bomber’, ‘Ace Of Spades’, ‘Overkill’, etc.) plus maybe a track or two from their surprisingly good recent album, ‘The World Is Yours’.

Gallows (Saturn Stage, Saturday)

The beauty of a Gallows show is that you never know exactly what you’re going to get. With a suitably livewire stage presence, a penchant for audience participation, and rumours of new songs nearing completion, theirs is not going to be the most predictable of sets. That said, the likes of ‘London Is The Reason’ and ‘Abandon Ship’ are arguably the finest marriage of hardcore fury and rock n’ roll awagger that you’ll hear all weekend.

Revoker (Red Bull Bedroom Jam, Saturday)

Coming across rather like a evil hybrid of Stone Temple Pilots, Machine Head and early 90’s Metallica, these upstarts are cut from a more abrasive cloth than the majority of their South Wales musical brethren. It’s still early days for Revoker, but they have determination and vigour on their side, and are sure to give it 100% at Sonisphere.

Cancer Bats (Bohemia Stage, Sunday)

Brace yourselves for this lot, because they’re gonna hit the festival like a sonic wrecking-ball of a band. The Canadian hardcore quartet seem to be getting better (and heavier) with time, and with the indefatigable presence of Liam Cormier on vocals (seriously, this man has no ‘off’ button), they could well be the Bohemia stage’s crowning glory.

Cerebral Ballzy (Red Bull Bedroom Jam, Friday)

Long week at work/school? Well, remove your brain, pop it in its spongebag, and then get yourself down the front for Cerebral Ballzy; five guys from Brooklyn who deal in short, sharp bursts of wonderfully sloppy hardcore punk, and who aren’t afraid to revel in their own idiocy. Full video interview coming from them very soon from their date at Camden Crawl, watch this space.

Turbowolf (Bohemia Stage, Sunday)

There’s something slightly unhinged about Turbowolf. Maybe it’s the way that vocalist Chris prowls the stage, seemingly more hungry for the audience’s blood than their approval. Maybe it’s the way ‘Bite Me Like A Dog’ kicks its way into your subconscious in a mass of skewed electronics and thunderous riff action. Or maybe it’s the band’s ability to whip a room into a writhing, slamming, sweaty mass of bodies wherever they go. Either way…go see.

Young Legionnaire (Red Bull Bedroom Jam, Friday)

The brainchild of former yourcodenameis:milo singer/guitarist Paul Mullen and Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes, you might not expect them to be the most hard-rocking of bands, but you’d be wrong. Debut album ‘Crisis Works’ is a mix of scratchy post-hardcore guitars and bowel-loosening grooves, with Mullen roaring himself hoarse over the top of it all. Essential stuff.

Head to www.sonispherefestivals.com for tickets and more info and we will see you there.

Alex Gosman