Tuesday, 26 May 2009


For the final part in this trilogy on scrappy three pieces I had the pleasure of talking to Brighton superheroes and
Sex Is Disgusting creators Teen Sheikhs.

The band were playing a gig at the Chameleon for Nottingham promoters
New Weird Nottingham, as part of a bill with The Dissolutes , Spin Spin the Dogs and not-so-secret headliners Mika Miko (who completely killed it by the way)

To be honest, it was quite a lot to ask to get three people to stand still and talk coherently after such an inebriated and messy gig, but somehow at 3am I got Andy (guitar/vocals), James (drums) and Will (bass) together outside the venue. Though my alcohol consumption level was nowhere near close to anyone else's and my eyelids were just lead weights at that point in the night it was great to just to let them talk at will (and length) about anything they wanted.

TLL: Alright shall we start with the basics? like how you guys got together?

Andy: Yeah, I'll answer that. Basically, me and James run a label together called Sex Is Disgusting and we decided we wanted to start a band. We were a two piece, it was him on drums, me on guitar and vocals. It didn't really sound... it sounded really crap, so then Will lives with James and he's one of our best friends...
Will: I started to say no at the start though.
Andy: Yeah, he wasn't into it at first, we were like 'please play bass he was like 'naaaaaarghhhhh''
Will: Basically James said like 'we were going to ask someone else, but you're the only guy that understands how SHIT we are, will you come play bass for us?'

Andy: We did that, we asked him (Will) and it was...
Will: No no no, (to Andy) you fucked it over once I finally agreed to it was all 'oh no no no. No. Not if you're that shit'. Then I finally agreed to join, me and Andy got wasted, and he was just like 'I'm just not happy for you to be in a band with me'
Andy: Oh god, forgot about that
Will: ...and then there's this guy (points to james) 'fuck yeah, big brother... someone's telling fibbs, 'you said you wouldn't show' - 'you said you're not into it' what the fuck, come.on.man'.
Andy: It was me, I was too drunk to remember, but I said to Will 'I think we're better as a two piece, don't come to practise' ermm, but he did eventually come to A practise and since then, that's been it.

TLL: And how long ago was that?

Will: couple of months?
Andy: 6 months ago?
James: Noooo, no no no.
Andy: (to James) You and me started practising about 5 or 6 months ago.
Will: What was it March?
James: We started practising just after Christmas and then had about four practises so that was like one a week... so three months, pretty much.
Andy: that doesn't make any sense...
James: Three months. round it up,
Will: Round it down
Andy: Anyway basically, we started January, he joined in March,

TLL: How much of those months are spent practising, is it just once a week?

James: Once a week,
Will: Once a week
Andy: Pretty much
Will: Once a week, Wednesday afternoon 3-6
James: No no, actually, no, the only time we haven't done it once a week is when we've been playing - we've actually done like ONCE a week

TLL: Which makes gigs a bit of practise
James: A bit of a chore
Will: 'Hello, fuck this shit, why are we playing shows I'd rather be practising'

TLL: Gettin it really tight...
Andy: Yeah no, we generally practise our shows...
Will: TIGHT!? Tight has never been and never will be our shtick.
James: I do like that idea of hiding yourself away for, you know, six months and emerging as a fully formed band.
Will: Bullshit! Like we'll try so hard and still come out as just a bunch of sloppy bastards... there's nothing that can change that.
James: Will's been playing instruments for errr... since he was young. I've only been playing the drums for as long as I've been playing the drums, which is three years.
Will: James' other band, some hot shit.
Andy: I've only been playing guitar for about a year, but I don't know the names of any chords or strings.
Will: I don't know what the fuck I'm doing with this sloppy racket, I used to be a piano teacher, this inane knowledge of technical music's all up here's gone out.

At this point the tape stopped, and conveniently enough Henry from Lovvers stepped in and reminds me that I've been using his dictaphone - had genuinely always assumed it was mine.

-TLL: Can we talk about Sex is Disgusting?
Andy: We can talk about whatever you want.
TLL: Why did you form it?
Andy: What the label?
TLL: Yeah
Andy: Erm, basically because they're not enough promoters in Brighton - who are putting on small punk shows, paying bands well, keeping things low, just generally without being sort of cliche, doing something fun and like being D.I.Y. We try to put records out by like bands that we really like. It's all the same things that ever other label says, but we were really exciting when we heard Human Hair and Graffiti Island and just thought like 'yeah maybe someone else will put them out, but lets just kinda go for it and ask them and do it'. I just wanna put records out that I wanna hear, and go to shows, put on shows rather, that I wanna to go to. And that's how this kind of happened.
James: student loans coming up kinda helped.
Will: at the start of each term 'Ooo! A 7 inch'!
James: Yeah you can tell the release schedule is based around student loan payments

TLL: Are all three of you students then?
Andy: James does illustration at Brighton, but I do media and cultural studies at Sussex
Will: ...Fisher Price Degree
Andy: That's not a fisher price degree!
Will: I did do music and visual art at Brighton, now I work for a fucking Nathan Barley Advertising company... it sucks. Everyday at work 'oh you brought your pig in, oh you bought your N64,

TLL: What have you got coming up with SID, is there anything in the pipeline at all - have you been asking any bands
Andy: Yeah, like erm, we put out the Human Hair 7" and we were going to put out the Graffiti Island 7" next but erm, they've just kinda of been tinkering around, experimenting and kina being really slow coming up with stuff. Every time that they think that they're like 'yeah yeah, like it's almost ready' - they kinda just change their mind again. Conan's one of my friends, so I just said to him, could we maybe... wait a bit?
So instead, we'll do Mazes next, a band from Manchester sort of musically rock influenced
TLL: It's just one guy isn't it?
James: It was one guy
Andy: The guy who wrote the songs was one guy, Jack wrote the songs. They're a full band now, like a constant line up

Andy: Then after that the Graffitti Island 7", then Thee Fair Ohs from London, they're like a garage band if they played like 10 times faster and liked I dunno.. Swing Kids. They're super fast
James: And Eddies' obsessed with Ornette Cole and John Coltrane, and Matt just really wants to play 60's garage and...
Andy: The drummer just wants to be in a hardcore band
James: He's just playing blast beats
Andy: It all coalesced into a really insanely fast garage band
James: Then after that I don't know. we don't have an order for set list
Andy: No we do! We've got... those are the first four, we set those, and the next two after that are
James: Mazes
Andy: The Bitters, a Band called The Bitter from Canada. who are the first band we've signed from outside the UK. We're generally gonna focus on UK bands, but we really like them and they're nice people. It's like Ben (guitarist/vocalist) that plays in Fucked Up and used to be in a Hardcore band called No Warning.
James: Yeah
Andy: After that, the Pens and Mazes split
James: Yeah
Andy: Everything else is up for grabs
James: We'll do something with Trash Kit, we'll do something with La La Vasquez, probably release something on our own blah blah blah. I dunno, there's just too much good UK stuff at the moment
Andy: SID are gonna like, just stop doing shows over the summer and just concentrate on records until like Septemeber/October - our last show till then is Finally Punk (link for the event). We're just gonna take a break to concentrate on putting records out, cause we've got a bit of a back log and it needs being done basically.

TLL; With the whole Lo fi/UK thing it always seems like all these bands seem to know each other, all really incestuous- do you feel connected to a scene - playing the same kinda music and putting out records...

James: it's wierd like, cause we knew all those people long before their 'current bands' existed. like i've known John from Male Bonding long before Male Bonding or PRE existed. Similarly we've known plenty of other bands like Conan from Graffiti Island and now it seems to be all these...
Will: It's this really amazing happy accident, like oh shit, all these guys I know are making music that I thinks fucking great
James: Some of them have been in really bad bands, we've been in bad bands that they don't like and they've been in bands that I don't like. but suddenly, you're in a band that I like, we're in a band that you like and we're... there's some kind... there is some kind of common thread but i don't think you can sum it up in some certain terms
Andy: I think you put it perfectly by saying 'happy accident'
Will and James: Yeah
Andy: Everyone's friends and knows each other
Will: It's not like a 'Lo-fi' scene, its just like a four tracks a quick way to get music out
Andy: We're all broke and young
James: 'ohhh we need to record really fucking shitty'
Will: That's obviously no one's point of view, but lets start a band

James: It was almost like, it was almost a matter of time, it was a ticking time bomb, people were playing in bands that weren't getting anything released and like, yeah it was just a matter of time. They took it into their own hands, labels like Paradise Vendors start up and House Anxiety - it was only a matter of time before they were like 'lets put these fucking bands out, someone's got to do it, we'll do it ourselves'.

Talking to Teen Sheikhs really was a refreshing a experience and revisiting the tapes over the next few days really highlighted how much energy and positivity the three of them are carrying about and giving to the UK. Mind blowing stuff.

P.S oh yeah, one of the promoters of the show and bassist/drummer of Human Hair James Smith, was going to take photos of the band but was too busy on the night - take a look a
james' flickr though - it's very good.

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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Mi Ami

Mi Ami are Daniel Martin-Mcormick, Jacob Long and Damon Palermo from San Fransico. Something about Black Eyes, something about African Rythmns, they've just finished a tour of the UK and Europe, perhaps you saw them? Interview here

-Mi Ami seem to be like a Jam band, fleshing out ideas in the live environment - is this how you come up with songs or is the process more traditional?

We write the songs through jamming and leave ourselves room to do what we need to live. I read an interview with Slayer, and Dave Lombardo says that he "wings it" every night, which I think is as good a description as any. We have our parts and we have the songs, but we still just go for it as much as possible. It keeps things fresh.

-Your sound seems to be about molding together abrasive noises and danceable rhythms - was this the intention from the start?

No, there was no intention. Well, actually, I have always had this abstract idea that I want the band to sound like a rainforest, which to me means a lot of unique sounds happening at the same time, in parallel and also in harmony, each with its own unique character, and the sound creating a sonic space that you can explore. But I think the rhythmic and harsher aspects have for to do with making music that we literally and figuratively feel. With some exceptions, I don't really feel much from skronky, start-stop rhythms, or from smooth guitar playing.

-Daniel, your vocal style seems to push your vocal cords to extremes - how much of a strain is it on your voice?

Not much. I've had some training and I've been doing this for a while. I wouldn't do something that would hurt every night. It's more about expression.

-You've been touring Europe now for weeks, playing shows every other day it seems, can places and gigs sometimes blur into one? What cities have been memorable?

Well, first of all, we play shows every day, not every other day. But yes, it can be easy to forget where you were a night or two ago. At the same time, each place is unique and special, so being spaced out has more to do with a constant stream of new information coming your way, and dealing with the routine of change that is travel. All the cities are memorable in their ways, but I am especially fond of brutal cities, like New Orleans and Belfast, or very old cities like Rome.

Echononecho The Hideout in Chicago, IL - Video by Ben Chandler

-Live, Daniel, seems to try to kick start the audience - pushing, pulling and running into them to incite some movement - do people usually respond well to this stimulation?

Yeah they usually get excited. Sometimes I'm a little harsher; the other night in Copenhagen, there were about twelve people in the audience and I look out and this one tall guy is standing right in the middle, texting. So I ran out and tried to take his phone, but then he did the idiotic "Yeah Yeah!! I'm rocking out with you!" move and tried to bear-hug me so I grabbed him by the neck and got him off me. At least he wasn't texting anymore. But that's a special occasion. Usually it's more of a loving gesture, to get people out of their own world and into the psychic space of the show.

-You guys Dj quite a lot, don't you? What new tracks are Mi Ami enjoying?

There's this young guy from Detroit named Kyle Hall. I think he's only seventeen or eighteen years old, but he is incredible, especially his (corny and amazingly-named) song 'I Love Dr. Girlfriend.' I also really like this Black Cock edit called 'Give It Up'. Otherwise, just classic junk... In the van on this tour, we played some classic Crazy Horse era Neil Young, Pharoah Sanders 'Blind Deaf and Dumb', Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works 1....

-Apart from Metallica, what other great bands are from San Francisco?

Right now, all the good bands are really small and that's exciting. I think in the next year, you will be hearing from J.A.W.S., Psychic Reality, 0th, Inca Ore (well from Oakland) and a few other newly-formed combos that I don't yet know the names of. People seems psyched on Sic Alps and Thee Oh Sees and stuff like that.

-What do the three of you do when not playing music together?

Work, love, live, learn.

Mi Ami can be found online via their
Myspace and Record Label

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Sunday, 3 May 2009

Suburban bliss

Suburban Bliss is a London-based clothing line that specializes in intricately detailed, screen printed t-shirts. All of the items are made independantly and environmentally friendly with designs that take elements from African motifs to Black Metal theatrics whilst seemingly rejecting the urban landscape about them. I interviewed founder, Toby Shaull, about the company and it's output.

-You've been operating since 2007, how did the company begin? Is Suburban Bliss just yourself or a team of people?

Suburban Bliss has actually existed since 2000 but the first full line of designs came out in Summer 2006. Suburban Bliss is run by me, no one else does anything to do with SB, just me. My girlfriend and other friends help me a lot but I do everything myself.

-What does a typical day for you entail, is Suburban Bliss the only current project of yours?

It depends what is going on and how empty the bank account is. I do a lot of different shit every day some days are 100% dedicated to SB other days I work doing carpentry. Some days carpentry, art, SB, drinking, riding around, running away. Every day is different if every day were the same I would not be able to deal with life.

-The designs seem to be mostly done by yourself, but with additions from other artists here and there. Do you approach people to participate or are the artists friends of yours?

The collection's change every season but I only work with my friends. A lot of designs are not done by me actually it will always say somewhere who did what on the archive blog http://www.suburbanblissarchive.blogspot.com

-Some of the designs of Suburban Bliss mirror contemporaries such as Aurel Schmidt and the illustrations of Alexander Tucker, but where do you take your inspiration from?

I like art, raw art. That is the main inspiration behind the label. Music, art and the earth are the main things behind the imagery. Everyone who contributes makes art firstly and some are illustrators for a living. I make art that is what I am aiming to end up doing with my life I think. My art is very limited I would not describe myself as an illustrator my designs come from head my mind and my surroundings. The things I draw came to me when I was younger spending a lot of time on the tube and thinking. I have ideas that I cannot illustrate so a lot of time I suggest something to one of the people I work with. Not a brief as such but, for example I told Izzie that I would like her to do a graphic with a skull made from flowers so she went off and did and the end results were one of the best t-shirts I have run. I actually used to work for the same guy as Alexander Tucker doing Polish Plastering and he did specialist paint finishes I have never met him myself he left just as I started when he got signed to ATP.

-There are strong visual themes running through your t-shirts, turning away from the built environment around you embracing the natural one, for example the heavy use of animals and faces as well as the outdoor fashion shoots. Is this intentional? Why focus on this particular idea for your designs?

The untouched Earth is the real world - we live in the Human world, the fake world. We are animals who have forgotten what we are we have made a world we control or so we think I just don't like it that much. The Lostalots, the woods it's where I like it is true and beautiful. I am haunted by Nature, I am followed by my past, I live in the city I don't know why anymore one day I will flee. I will escape the entrapment that we have created for ourselves.

-It's entertaining here to see you talk about the processes of t-shirt making, something that I've never really given a moments thought - how hard can it be to get the designs you want onto a shirt?

Most people that make clothing especially printed clothing such as t-shirts make what ever art work and slap it it on a t-shirt. Most of the prints out there are screened in Plasticol which is a plastic based ink it is totally chemical/synthetic and sits on top of the fabric. You know when you get a t-shirt and feels like it has a piece of sand paper stuck on it, I hate this, so 90% of what I make now is using discharged water based ink. This is not to harmful to the environment when washed off the screen and it embedded into the fabric so you can't feel the print. Screen printing is an art like any creative method it can become as complicated as you you want it to become. We print everything in London by hand, every print is inspected and tested, Stuart who prints my stuff is in a place where other screen printers all work in the same premises they rent the space from an artist called Rob Ryan all of them have been screening for many years. So they are the dons of screening no one can touch them.

-DoBeDo.co.uk, seems like an incredibly help/useful website, how did your association with it come about?

DO BE DO is my friends Tyrone Lebon's web site, we have an arrangement, so he is my online shop he helps me out - he is an amazing human I love him. DO BE DO is trying to put creative stuff out there, helping creative people who are making/doing stuff show it. Ever since I met Tyrone he has always helped me and everyone around him, he is a good dude I am stoked we are both doing are own thing and trying to survive.

-Was your background in skateboarding a way of leading you into the work you do now: how you met contacts and creative people etc?

I used to be a professional skateboarder I was involved with the industry side of skateboarding since quite a young age so yeah definitely. I helped launch 2 skateboard companies. I grew up skating at Harrow Skate Park where this distributor used to be based. I remember doing work experience there when I was 15 and folding t-shirts.

-What are your plans for the rest of the year, are you working on a new collection already?

I have been working really hard finishing of summer 2010 line I am making shirts 100% inside the M25 everything has been made inside London's perimeters printed, sewn together and all components have been purchased inside the M25. Keep on going stay alive and I am going to Italy on a long planned Art sabbatical. I am so excited about that I am gonna work on my own art one day i will do show just need to finish all the work.

Suburban Bliss have a brand new website launched this week, of course it's incredible

And for all you London tykes out there's a sale on this weekend, with prices going from just £2.50

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