This page is intended to get a bit of balance onto the site. Some interviews. Some e-mails from struggling musicians. Some comments from annoyed fans. And the inevitable editorial comment.
Here's news of Bob Cuba, punchy tunesmiths from the Glasgow area, who were back in London in February 2005 - keep an eye on A_to_H for the reviews. We were none of us sure if interviews by e-mail could work, but I am now convinced! Thanks to Sbob, Cbob and Jbob.
Next feature I have in mind is a "Where are they now" section, so I can try to discover what happened to budding musicians of the nineties that are not on the visible gig scene anymore.
There's people in charge of pens that shouldn't be in charge of brooms, they can sweep up a man's life in a paragraph or two (Graham Parker)
I’m seriously stuck on a song which you guys quoted on one of your reviews, but I can't find it anywhere! The lyrics include "I am the Prince of Wales… that decision was mine" and "Horses in the New Forest… are running in their Sunday best…”
You gotta help me! It’s killing me not knowing who does this song!!
by email, 10/11/05
OT responds: You're teasing, right? It's the Young Knives. They're becoming a bit famous. Probably on T4 as we speak.
Fake violins! I crammed 7 of the string section from the Catford Philharmonic Orchestra into my shed with a porta'studio to get that sample recorded!Shocked and stunned.
Ming the Mong c/o Andy at Bull_and_Gate 18 Jan 2005
[Context - Sun 27 June 2004 was the last date in an intensive list of postings described as Barnsbury Festival, intended to show that you could see dozens of bands in North London that weekend if you were one of the many who spent hours simultaneously failing to get tickets by phone and on the internet. Drums Over Heaven headlined at the Bull and Gate. The preamble to the review of Drums Over Heaven made a reference to the Glastonbury tradition of featuring Sunday headline performances by rumpled artists like Tom Jones and Rolf Harris. Something like "Sunday's joker in the pack... they do it for the oldies". Anyway, it's well worth a read, especially if you know who wrote it.]
Monday morning’s pain in the arse
(They do this for the bitter and twisted; sub-Sun material is obligatory on Monday)
Bull and Gate
Sun 27 June 2004 Carbon Plan / My Juliette / Drums Over Heaven
Utterly dull, predictable review once you realise the reviewer is talentless, bitter about life and aspiring to fame and fortune by trying to write like everyone else.
So he goes on about Carbon Plan and My Juliette, blah blah this and blah blah that, cos they’re inoffensive enough – but like a million other bands you’ve seen they’re never going to make it in a million years - but are suitably full of themselves. Extremely ordinary bands with instantly forgettable songs – skilfully rendered – get good reviews because, well, because that’s what the reviewer thinks he’s supposed to do.
Then onto Drums Over Heaven. No drums, they’re not dressed all in leather, they haven’t got unjustified amounts of attitude – the perfect opportunity for the disgruntled reviewer to get his claws into somebody. If only the writing was more interesting. “Lord only knows where their audience come from,” he says. Yes – curious, that. Lots of people to watch Drums Over Heaven – some of them dancing – and virtually nobody for the other two bands. Lord knows what the explanation might be... What a pity that somebody committed enough to north London Music to run a website and review gigs can rave about the ordinary and get his kicks taking a hatchet to a band playing music different from the norm – how dare they!
Still, you know what they say – those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones...
Sallynetlink, by e-mail
Bob Cuba play catchy rock 'n' roll with balls, brains and bounce. They are loved by Steve Lamacq.
The expression "Scotpop" was coined for Bob Cuba.
Bob Cuba attempted to play London - the Garage - on 07/07/2005. They flew from Glasgow to Stansted early in the morning, got a hire-car from Stansted (all trains having stopped) to find a note on the door "CLOSED TONIGHT". I met them in the Hope and Anchor, they were still smiling.
Bob Cuba reviews are available at: A to H
Bob Cuba songs and stories are available at: www.bobcuba.com
Bob Cuba are from around and about Glasgow and are threefold.
Lead vocal, guitar and keyboards are by Sbob, Stuart B Stevenson. Slightly serious bob.
Drums and some backing vocals are by brother Cbob, Colin Stevenson. Clever clever bob.
Bass and more backing vocals are by Jbob, John Watt. Jumpy jokey bob.
At their London gig in August 2004, the concept of the e-terview was born. An e-mailed questionnaire to each member of the band: same 20 questions, filled in independently; some contrary answers, some almost matching.
Q1. What does Bob Cuba mean?
Stuart Bad Ostriches Become Classic Underground Band Again!
John It means being a complete pop victim. That and being in a FUN band, which is something I see a lot of bands have missed out on.
Colin It was originally short for Robert McCuban, who is a Great Uncle of ours from The Outer Hebrides, but it now means the noise that we as a band create.
Q2. What's the best Bob Cuba song?
John Karaoke Tribe is the song that will sound most like us in five years time. The practise sessions are getting funkier and dancier, but we are total suckers for a catchy hook. Also, it’s kind of fitting that most of the bands we are slagging off in that song have gone the way of the dodo.
Stuart Million Eyes
Colin ‘In The Shower’ It has an underlying sinister darkness that nobody has yet picked up on as most people pass it off as a flippant joke about having a shower. How wrong can they be!
Q3. Name 3 of your biggest musical influences (songs, performers or writers)?
John Hearing the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for the first time when I was 16 really made me realise music was something that you could feel deep in your bones. I bought my first bass, an Encore Precision, not long after. They are the reason I am still a musician, by far my biggest inspiration musically. Flea got me into Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Gang of Four, Funkadelic, The Meters, Patti Smith, Robert Johnson and countless others. I also think John Frusciante is the greatest guitarist I’ve ever seen.
Stuart Song: Bigmouth Strikes Again, The Smiths
Performers: The Jesus & Mary Chain
Writers: U2 / The Smiths
Colin ‘There’s A Light and It Never Goes Out’ – The Smiths
Q4. Do you have a favourite Scottish musical influence - and if so, who?
John I was a big Teenage Fanclub fan when I was at Uni, along with Super Furry Animals they have written some of the best pop songs of the last ten years. But where would we be without the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream etc…? Nowhere I tell thee.
Colin Bobby Gillespie – Primal Scream
Stuart Primal Scream – the best Scottish band of all time. They have an edge, amazing songs and are cool without knowing it, plus Bobby Gillespie is the thinnest man of all time, which makes him very odd but strangely likeable.
Q5. What's the best show or gig you've ever been to?
John Spiritualized, Glastonbury Other Stage 1998. Jason Pierce’s finest lineup played a gig that quite literally knocked me off my feet, and nearly into a mud lake.
Stuart Primal Scream – live at Ayr Pavillion 1993.
U2 – every time I see them live.
Oh no – I canny count!
Colin The Jesus and Mary Chain – Glasgow Barrowlands 1987. It’s one of the earliest gigs I went to so it was fresh and raw on my adolescent emotions. It was also dangerous Rock and Roll the way it’s supposed to be with the crowd atmosphere on the edge of adulation and an impending riot!
Q6. Do you have a favourite musical venue (to play in or watch other bands) - and if so, where is it?
John Both Glasgow ones - I love watching bands at the Barrowlands, but since the Carling Academy opened it’s kind of stolen its thunder. As far as playing goes, our gigs at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut have always been special, plus we got to support some great acts like Fingathing.
Stuart Barrowlands in Glasgow. There is something magical about that place. The atmosphere is always amazing, the acoustics are fantastic, and it’s always sweaty, gritty and raw – AND the floor bounces!
Colin Glasgow Barrowlands still for me is the ultimate rock’n’roll experience for unadulterated atmosphere and quality of sound.
Q7 Who's the most rock 'n' roll person you've met?
John You know, I haven’t met anyone really famous yet. But some of the bands we play with are living the rock n roll dream, the guys from Sound Development Agency (Greenock band) are pretty hardcore.
Stuart Kylie, at an after show party on her 2001 tour in Glasgow. Cbob got the photo with her, while I held his jacket – the git!!
Colin ‘Big Eyeball On A Bus’ (the drummer from ‘The Sound Development Agency’). He’s off his trolley on a full time basis and his drumming is a combination of John Bonham and Animal from The Muppets!
Q8. Have you ever done anything outrageously rock 'n' roll in the "throwing the TV out the window" mode - if so what?
Colin I once kicked in Boots front window in Ayr High Street with an empty bottle of whiskey in my hand whilst the Police were parked beside me. I got arrested.
Another time I frisbeed a Policeman’s hat across the road and shouted ‘go and get that you evil pig!’ when he tried to arrest me which didn’t really help my case.
John I think the most rock n roll thing we did was playing the Queen’s Hall in this village called Dunoon. It’s a small town on the West coast of Scotland that you have to get a ferry to, we arrived and the place was the size of the Barrowlands (huge) filled with 500 steaming locals. We were getting showered with pint glasses, but they were still dancing like crazy. I chucked a can of beer at this guy, and he opened it and poured it all over his face gargling it. Sbob’s FX packed in that night and we did a Drum n’ Bass version of “In The Shower”. Bitchin’ after show party too, one of our finest nights!
Stuart Yes. I once threw a TV out of a hotel window. Luckily it was only 42 inch widescreen though.
Q9. What sort of work do you do when you're not being a third of Bob Cuba?
John I’m a researcher/lecturer at Glasgow University. I have a very understanding boss when we’re off on our London jaunts!
Stuart Spanish to German translator.
Colin I’m a Mechanical Engineer who has recently become a Medical Representative. I’ve sold my soul to the devil but it wasn’t deliberate! It’s a long story.
Q10. How do you relax?
Stuart Football and sword fighting (at the same time).
John Watching Kung-Fu movies, playing Age of Empires, trying to write songs. Sometimes all at the same time.
Colin I play the piano. or have a long wank to my favourite porno. [ed's note: erm, this last was supposed to appear with a line through it, the software took it away - Colin assures me this is not actually his favourite hobby]
Q11. What's your favourite meal, and can you cook it?
John After a hungover Sunday last weekend I will quite happily kneel at the alter of the full English fry-up, and I can make one that stands with the best I’ve ever had.
Stuart Mince. Yes.
Colin Pasta Bolognaise! And yes it’s my favourite meal precisely for the reason that it’s the only meal I can cook!
Q12. What's your biggest ambition?
John To play at Glastonbury would be a dream come true.
Stuart To play football for Scotland. Besides that, to become the best band in the world.
Colin To play to a packed Glasgow Barrowlands to an audience who all love our music. I would die happy.
Q13. Where do you call home?
John Glasgow West End is the place I’ve grown to call home.
Stuart Ayr, but I live in Kilmarnock and spend most of my time in Glasgow. Ayr United are rubbish though. I hate cutting the grass, but it has to be done.
Q14. What's the best thing about Glasgow, and what's the worst thing?
John Best thing: the nightlife and happenin’ live music scene man. Worst thing: the rain.
Stuart The best thing is the sense of humour and down-to-earth friendly people. The worst thing is Texas.
Colin Best thing: The people! Worst thing: The people!
Q15. What's the best thing about London, and what's the worst thing?
John Worst thing: people walking everywhere so damn FAST!!! Best thing: being able to play to a packed house on a Tuesday night to an appreciative crowd.
Stuart The best thing is the size – it’s huge! The worst thing is the size – it’s too big (and overcrowded, and expensive). We love London though.
Colin Best thing: You can get lost and meet the most diverse people + the music scene and crowds are more sophisticated.
Worst thing: Travelling across town.
Q16. Good thing or bad thing: The Darkness?
John A good thing. More spandex guys…
Stuart Good. Mind you, the lights will be turned back on soon I think.
Colin Bad. They are Queen/Spinal Tap comedians with an ok selection of songs.
Q17. Good thing or bad thing: Celtic-Rangers rivalry?
John Being a Partick Thistle fan I couldn’t give a f**k. Since the people who care about it are generally bigots, a bad thing.
Colin Good. Not for reasons of the bigoted bile that some supporters stand for but for reasons of extreme passion generated at their games making it an experience that can’t be found anywhere
Stuart Good. The biggest club rivalry in the world, and there’s nothing like it on a match day.
Q18. Good thing or bad thing: Scottish Nationalist Party?
Colin Bad. We already have a Scottish Parliament which is run in an amateurish and parochial fashion. Independence would make things even worse.
John Nationalism? Bad thing. One word people… Hitler.
Q19. Which is better: Mogwai or Travis?
Colin Travis for the fact that they stand for good songwriting, although their last effort was fuckin shite!
Stuart Travis. If I wanted to sound ‘cool’ I would say Mogwai, but Travis write better tunes, well used to until the latest moany efforts.
John Mogwai coz they have better stage names. Fran or Plasmatron. Says it all really.
Q20. Which is better: Sons and Daughters the band; or Sons and Daughters the TV soap?
Stuart Sons & Daughters the TV soap – without question!! Ooooh – I can hear that compelling theme tune now.. “Soooons and Dauuughters, Love and Laughter…. Tears of dum de dum….”
Colin The TV soap definitely! A brilliant lunchtime watch when I was at school!
John Sons and Daughters has that bit at the beginning where the girl pulls the guys hat over his head and he chases her. We won’t see the likes of those days again. Next.. Crown Court followed by Mr. & Mrs.*
*John later realises he has his mixed his childhood up with The Sullivans.
Q21. Who is the most vital member of Bob Cuba?
John Bob. In his three physical forms.
Stuart Bob Cuba.
Colin Me. I have a secret stash of songs that I will soon unleash on the world once Stuart and John have dried up. I’m going to save their lives!
Many many thanks to Stuart, Colin and John.
If you think it's cold, imagine being in sub-zero temperatures with young children and no shelter.
Media attention spans are short, and the Western economies care little for this part of the world, inaccessible to tourism and to global markets. The disinterest in this spiralling crisis is appalling. I grew up with kids from Pakistani families, they are friends. We are all human, it's about time we showed some humanity.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (Registered Charity Number: 1062638) is a coalition of many charities working together to tackle crises around the world. It includes Oxfam and Islamic Relief amongst others. OppositionT participated in a benefit for DEC on 5 Feb 2006.
The gig featured iDou, William D Drake with Stars in Battledress,
Sell the Lexus, Burn the Olive Tree, and Silver Rocket DJs.
A big thank you to all the organisers, performers and people who came. You can view some photos at: My_Space.
I am very happy to say that there are a few similar events appearing, Daddy Long Legs were involved with one Sunday 5 March 2006, if I hear of more You Will Be Told.
6 March 2006
In my view, the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, spoke some of the most powerful words:
"I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever."
If you strike at one Londoner, you strike at us all. London is older than Jihad.
Read Mayor's full statement at: London
11 July 2005
"That bloody man" took us to war despite the biggest popular demo against a Government measure since the poll-tax. And you - the electorate - didn't even black his eyes. Shame on you!
7 May 2005
5 May 2005: Labour shortage economy: Labour surplus Government
OT is based in a Cypriot part of London. It is fantastic place to be based in, but there's a whole world out there...
The European Union has grown, and given a new excuse for tired old immigration arguments. To some extent, people have always flooded to the UK, and our lives and our economy are all the richer for it. But what if we were to look outwards, and think of the possibilities for us to work or settle elsewhere? Auf Wiedersehen Pet?
TV Smith, who first came to fame in punk band The Adverts, captured the way we used to look at mainland Europe as a place to go rather than a place to come from. In honour of the expansion of, erm, "federality", I reproduce his words.
I go to the airport
And I watch the planes take off
Should I go, or stick with what I've got?
But don't leave home
They say there's a twin town
And inside a twin man
The journey's rough
I'll get there if I can
But don't leave home
You can change the future
And you can change the past
When you take one step
You don't leave behind the last
But don't leave home
(TV Smith, reproduced with very kind permission)