Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An interview with Davey Woodward from The Experimental Pop Band

It’s sometime in the early hours of the morning. I hear thunder and the machine gun splatter of rain on double glazing.  I am asleep but I am dreaming too. I dream very lucidly. Often when I am awake I talk to people about stuff we did or said and they tell me we did no such thing! That’s when I know I  have had a lucid dream and thought it was real. I know I am dreaming this because the guy interviewing me looks like me, well he is me!  Except he has a smug sureness about him and  looks cold and aloof. Put it this way I do not warm to him in any way whatsoever
Q )So your album ‘Vertigo ‘ came out last year. It was not in anyone’s end of year top ten.
A) No I don’t think many people knew it was released.
Q)How frustrating is this?  
A) Very , extremely frustrating. I spend an age putting an album full of songs together and no one notices!
Q)Which is more disappointing, that you spent an age or that no one knew the  record was out? 
A) The time thing is not so important but I would have thought the album would have got some attention. Actually the single ‘ Little Things’ had a lot of positive stuff on the web but something went amiss with the album.
Q)Well it did get reviewed in Q magazine , they compared the band to Stereolab meets the Go Betweens?
A)Oh that review, I don’t mind that comparison, you can’t escape comparisons but generally the review said little about the record and focussed on my past.
Q) The Brilliant Corners?
A) Yeah, I just thought it was lazy Journalism, you know the experimental pop band have been around a long time. The jist of it was I should give up and go away kind of thing.
Q) The experimental pop band gets criticised for being around a long time. What do you say to that?
A) No one criticises writers and painters for being around a long time. Hey Miro put yer brush down and fuck off , you paint too much!
Q) So you are comparing the EPB to Miro?
A) No , no , not at all.
Q) Which artist would you compare the EPB too?
A)Er I don’t know, that’s hard, that would require a lot of thought.
Q) Well are you, Pop art, Surrealists, Dadaist, what genre?
A) Er I really don’t know. We spent a lot of time genre hoping with our first releases. These days it’s more conventional pop songs really.
Q) Conventional. So the EPB are like those shit watercolours of country scenes by local artists that you can never escape from when you are on a family holiday in Cornwall.  It fucking rains, and rains and rains so you have to look around those cramped fucking local art galleries stuffed with shitty local artists shit! There’s always bloody pottery and glass that the  kids knock over and you end up having to pay the whispering lady a fortune for. That’s how they make their money no one buys the shit art but you have to pay for the breakages don’t you!
A) What?

To be continued

The brilliant corners 4

Gigs in Bristol in the late 70s and early 80s were secured by dropping in a cassette tape into a  disinterested landlord. Few pubs put bands on that were playing original music. The landlords would always ask if you had a ‘ following’ and make a joke about the bands ‘groupies’. The Plume of Feathers on Hotwells Road was one of the first pubs I ever gave a tape too. However they favoured Metal through the week and jazz on Sunday lunchtimes. I remember gingerly giving a tape to the landlord when Iron Maiden were doing a gig. Pretty sure it was them. Naturally the landlord never contacted us.

The Wheatchief was a pub that put us ( The Hybrids) on with a band called ‘Gus Bus’. This pub was where the magistrate’s courts are, bang in the centre of Bristol. If I remember rightly we got the gig because one of the female bar staff thought me and Chris were funny and cute  and we were coming a long way to play. (Avonmouth was about 8 miles out of the town centre.) I remember the gig well. Phil Wilmot who plays bass in the experimental pop band played guitar in Gus Bus. They were terrific; they had a Mark E Smith type singer who kept shouting ‘Bastard Panzas!’
Burgundy leather was big that year , 81’ bum fluff moustaches too, sleeves on jackets rolled up, pretty sure mullets were also in vogue. So in this pub there is that kind of crowd versus  the oddball post punk people that we had around us. So it was like do a gig,  get insulted, try not to get ones head kicked in when going for a piss and try and not take the piss too much with the in between song banter. Pretty exciting.
I may have mentioned Mistys night club in another post, there was also The Ace of Spades nightclub. The idea these places had was to make money from beer sales out of the post punks and oddballs, who were into the bands. Get the bands off by 9 thirty and get the proper disco crowd in. Again this was fraught with tension but excitement too. After one particular gig I remember   this woman taking an interest in me, she was probably only a few years older than myself ,  but she seemed really grown up. She was definitely a woman, not a girl. I am not quite sure what my definition of a woman was back then but I can remember having a distinct coming of age kind thrilling feeling. She was there for the disco and dressed for it. Lots of spangled shit , may have even had leg warmers on. I do remember her having heavy eyeliner and glitter on her eyelids that was sort of Glam rock but not.  She had a black bob hair cut which was  Immaculate and shiny, remember this was before hair products were invented! So this woman had taken amazing care of her hair, it was not fluffy and frzzy but straight and slick perfect! She was speaking to me in Swedish or Russian, very exotic. I could feel my heart beat speeding up like some out of control snare beat.Whatever she was saying it was pretty obvious she was very interested in me. Very. We kissed once, twice, the third time we kissed she threw up into my mouth.

At that instant I could hear Chris shouting ‘leg it Dave’   (Chris shouting ‘leg it’ was a constant phrase I would hear for many years to come). Next I could see a lot of burgundy and a very angry face swearing at me in a broad Bristolian accent. The angry man pulled at the exotic woman who un-exotically shouted at him ‘Get yer fucking ands of me Gary yer prick.’ Whilst Gary was momentarily occupied by this I fled the Ace of Spades with sick running down my jacket.
A few years later when The Brilliant Corners were looking for gigs things were a bit easier. The whole Clifton band art scene helped a lot. One could play the Lansdown pub  without fear of a kicking. The students union bar also put on bands. I saw some really good bands play in that bar, the Electric guitars, Essential Bop, The Art Objects (they later morphed into the Blue Aeroplanes)and we played there  too. Once actually then we got banned . Because of us they stopped putting on bands in the bar, I did feel pretty guilty about that.
Let me explain. The cheapest place to drink in Bristol was the Epicurean bar in the students Union building.The snag was how would all of us get in there when only me and Chris had student  passes ( I was at Filton Tech, Chris at Brunel,  both of us doing Art) , easy really you just forge a whole lot of passes. The problem was none of us looked like students. For some strange reason and I do not know if this was a Bristol thing only but a lot of university students still wore flares ,trench coats and had long hair, the ones that didn’t dressed really straight, straight back then was a v neck jumper , shirt or a T shirt tucked into unflattering jeans,  yeah like Simon Cowell. Those guys were usually the rugby team boys and we were always getting into trouble with the rugby team boys.
To be truthful we should have got banned before we even played, the bar manager was  sick of us buying several snake bites when they called last orders and never drinking up on time. Sick of Bob calling him a fat arse, sick of Winston telling him and several bar staff that they were picking on him and us because they were racists. Chris and me saying we would call the Evening Post and tell them about all these racists at the university!
So on a Friday or Saturday for about 6 months there would be a collective sigh from behind the bar when we showed up. There was also a fare few disgusted looks from students  but there was also a another group of students we got on with .  We got on but argued about politics, music, anything really, there was also this rather tricky element of one of us lot usually trying to steal one of their girlfriends too.  However there was this pretty cool alternative thing going on and for the first time in our lives I think we felt that we were actually pretty hip, an outsider kind of hip, dare I say it sort of cool, well that’s what the students who talked to us made us feel like, made us feel so good that we agreed to play a gig in the bar.
It went like this. The amps were on ten. We channeled a lot of our anger and frustration into rock n roll songs, that sounded like The Cramps , a terrible sounding Cramps.  We refused to turn it down and played for maybe 20 minutes. The union bar received loads of complaints and we got our ban and they never put another band on in that bar again.

Friday, 27 January 2012

the experimental pop band

the experimental pop band

Hi. If you want to hear some new songs go to the link below. They a rough mixes of songs due out on our next album 'Vertigo'

Saturday, 14 January 2012

experimental pop band put out new record, shock!

Not written anything on here for ages, reason being that I have been really busy writing and recording a new experimental pop band album and life in general seems pretty hectic. With a new album comes all the things one has to do to let people know that one still exists and that they should check the band out etc. I have avoided having a facebook account very successfuly for the past few years, but everyone and I mean everyone tells me I need one. So a few weeks I set one up and it seems to me that it really is the way everyone talks to each other and in some respects makes bogs a bit redundant . I also find it perplexing as to how many sites bands and individuals have to update checkout , have a presence on. Apart from facebook, theres myspace then theres other things like spotify, soundcloud, ping, not forgetting ones own site, the list is endless, too much too much! but this is social network world I am told I have to occupy if I want people to know I have music out. I really need to employ someone to do this!

Anyway enough of my moans, why am I typing this?  mmm yes  an experimental pop band release, its a rare thing! In 17 years of our existence no regular tours or releases. However this year we have a download single called 'Little Things' which is available on itunes and such like from 12 February. You can probably see a video of the song on Youtube if you wish. The album 'Vertigo' will be released in April via Cargo distribution. You can get pre release copies in February from the wearitwell records website
Hey I might still do some blogs about my early musical years with the brilliant corners as I quite enjoyed writing them, so maybe blogs aint totally redundant!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Brilliant Corners Part 3

So we get this review of our first single in the NME and the next thing that happens is I hear it on John Peel. Men and some women of a certain age (You have to be over 40 ) who listened to John Peel in their youth will know what this means. In essence it is the equivalent of the Apollo moon landings. I do not exaggerate. It is something that one dreams and has fantasies about but never actually believes can come true. Soon if not already there will be teen, youth, twenty something’s buying alternative rock, indie something’s into today’s cutting edge music, a non mainstream generation who will never really know what listening to John Peel meant. Sure Peel will have a certain iconic reverential status to today’s kids, bit like England winning the world cup in 66 I suppose, but to know to really know you had to be there in a certain time a certain place. Perhaps the kids have their DJ equivalents out there, somewhere? As I am no longer a youth I can’t connect or reconnect. Perhaps someone can tell me who, where I should be listening and if it is the same as landing on the moon? But in the same way that we no longer live in the age of going to the moon maybe the age of Peel has gone. So what a write below is a glimpse, a crumb of that time.
The reason hearing my song on Peel was more important than Neil Armstrong taking one small step for mankind was for these reasons:
After some close brushes with arson, mindless fights and a lot of my friends entering the borstal system I wised up. In a place like Avonmouth it always meant I would never have any real local friends because to wise up meant you would be ostracised . Not to be part of the gang meant you were a freak, weird and snobby. I no longer went out and created havoc. My exile coincided with an increasing interest in music, hairstyles, clothes and thinking I was different and cool. I was 11 and the next few years saw me slip away from what was in front of my nose. It also coincided in going to St Bedes Roman Catholic secondary school. I met kids from different backgrounds. To my surprise I got on with some of the snobby kids who liked to talk about music, clothes and hair. It was a strange time because part of me wanted to let rip and a voice in my head was telling me now is the time to embrace culture. When I say culture that’s with a small c, an invisible c, a miserable pathetic c, Ah but Peel! Let’s get back to Peel! Stop this retro self analysis!
No music on telly except the Old Grey Whistle test and there is zero chance that my dad is going to let me watch that as he hates long hair whispering and anyone called Bob. So I’m stuck in my bedroom with my glam rock records ( Sweet, Bowie Slade and the unmentionable, the man written out of musical history, the one we used to call the leader) wearing them out each night. When I am told to turn the noisy shit off and get to sleep, under my blanket I listen to the sound of audio waves, floating in and out of range, beautiful waves that I recorded on a mono cassette tape machine . This is how my musical education begins.
Peel plays old stuff, new stuff, stuff that don’t even sound like music to my ears (it took me a decade to get Captain Beefheart) but it makes me feel like Peel knows, he just knows! He knows that music is the most important thrilling magnificent addiction that a dysfunctional boy can have. It is entirely possible that without listening to John Peel I may never have heard. (In no particular order) Captain Beefheart, Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground, Television, The Ramones, Talking Heads, The Damned, Clash, Gang of Four, Joy Division, Echo and The Bunnymen, Elvis Costello, Can, Viv Stanshall, The Jam, to name but a few.

I met John Peel the once. Chris comes around to my house and says ‘you won’t believe this John Peel rang me mum, he says he’s coming to Bristol tomorrow and do we fancy meeting up for a pint. ‘ I says bollocks he repeats story again. Claims Peel telephoned his mum. ‘Why would he phone your mum Chris? Is she like his hotline to what’s hip and happening in youth culture?’ ‘No because we left her telephone number on the biog we sent to him with the record’. I still didn’t believe him. Even when we were on the 28 bus heading into town and Chris was telling me Peel was doing a ‘Disco’ at Redland Poly I still didn’t believe him. Even when Chris uttered those words for the very first time’ I’m on the guest list’ I did not believe him. Even when we were both drinking pints and starting to get drunk because there was no way we could meet Peel without having a few pints, I still didn’t believe him. At no point did I believe him. Even as I was talking to John Peel about toothpaste ( yes we talked about toothpaste. Peel had forgot his and for some odd reason he shared this with us and a conversation about toothpaste ensued) I still did not believe him. What are the things that stick with me about Peel? It’s so difficult to remember I was so star stuck! What I do remember is that he seemed a bit shy but then again we were so inarticulate he could have just been talking to us like we had learning difficulties; you know pausing a lot so we would remember each word. He was actually quite easy to talk too, toothpaste for Christ’s sake! He didn’t slag anyone off, he was staying at a nice hotel in Clifton. We laughed a lot, in fact I was laughing my fucking nitrous oxide head off.
That meeting was so giddy that I can’t remember most of it and I might be getting confused but I think that his disco was as support to U2 playing Redland Poly around the time U2 put out that album ‘Boy’ So if I could be bothered I could look up the year and get some accuracy here, but I can’t be bothered. I do remember me and Chris watching Bono and thinking what a showman, there was only about 50 people watching them and he was still giving it some, that was impressive. We agreed the music was awful, they were pretty fucking awful really, they were lucky we were giving them 10 minutes of our time, they were major label dross that no one would remember in 3 years. Ho hum.

A strange thing just happened. The Radio is on 6 music, Steve lamacq is a running a trailer for Tom Ravenscrofts radio show. That voice, ghostly, familiar and comforting but different, It’s been raining all day and now bright sunlight is coming through the widows, warm and strange.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Its been a while, santa has come and gone and the political landscape of europe seems to be changing everyday. So music! Where was I last time? Yes my solo album came out. I sent it to lots of magazines and no one gave it any coverage. Some of the webzines were more alert and there were a handful of very good reviews. Did anything get played on the radio? I dont know! Maybe I should have put out a promo single, maybe I just will. The copies the label have sold have been to people in Greenland, USA, Germany and France but only a few in England and none in my hometown of Bristol. This is a scandle!

I played some more dates on my own in Bristol because James stopped drumming live as it made him too sick and ill with nerves. Which is a shame as I now have to re-think all those songs I was rehearsing with him. Actually it was too difficult to re-think everything so I wrote an experimental pop band album instead. The band have been recording it and thus far I am really excited by the recordings. A description? well some are upbeat summer pop and others are tinkling winter piano. The Lyrics are very 1640 with a sprinkling of nutmeg and sliced chorizo.

So on the artistic creative side I would say its a 9 out of 10. But will anyone ever hear it? So the next few months will be spent finishing it, looking at ways of getting it out there, maybe the band will play in Bristol somewhere around late April /May. Maybe we will play further afield, maybe I will get a publicist and you will be reading this because you read an excellent review in Mojo or the NME . Maybe I will get a plugger and you will have heared the songs on the radio, maybe I will move to Greenland. Maybe I will get my old job back deputising for crash test dummies, (the real thing not that horrible group)
I am already thinking about sleeves, design, what should it all look like? I am thinking of putting a detailed list of where and when it was recorded, what instruments and microphones were used, which take was used. Now I find all that stuff interesting, I hate minimal sleeves with no information or lyrics, I even like reading the thank you lists that bands write down, but maybe all the recording stuff is a bit over the top? maybe? Im in a maybe mood today so maybe I should just shut up. But before I do I hear the monochrome Set are playing in a pub near me( The Thunderbolt) you would be crazy to miss it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Brilliant Corners Part 2

Bob sported a Mohican, drove a motorbike , did stunts and thought he was Steve McQueen ( This is actually why our label became McQueen after SS20. Also we had got tired of the Russian chic thing by then) Bob played the drums and scared a lot of people because he was from Southmead. A district in Bristol known for its psychopaths gangs and violence. He didn’t scare me and Chris because we were from Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston and those were tough places too. Ah but I race ahead! Prior to meeting Bob, me and Chris had been rehearsing with Dan (Pacini) who was a few years below us at school. Dan played trumpet, so we were playing with Dan then met Bob. Bob wanted to drum in a punk band and I told him that’s what we were. We sounded more like a garage band that sometimes strayed into arty dance pop territory, particularly when Dan was playing. This was not a lot as Dan went to university at the time we decided to put our own discs out, which was around 83. At this time I had enrolled at Filton Tech to get some A levels so I could go to Art College, where i could spend all my days writing songs and maybe paint something from time to time.
At Filton Tech I immediately made good use of use of their facilities to screen print the sleeves to ‘She’s Got Fever’ . In the back of the Melody Maker we saw an advert for a company that mastered and pressed records for a hundred quid. The place was in Folkstone. I have no idea where we got the money to do this.
Me and Chris took a box of ten records to an alternative record store in Bristol called Revolver Records ( Revolver later became a huge business for independent releases. Sadly the shop closed many many years ago) The two guys who ran the shop, Lloyd and Mike actually agreed to stock the record. But said we needed to get some press if it was going to sell. Now I just looked at the back sleeve of ‘She’s Got Fever’ and it says that we were distributed by the Cartel, and that was Revolver and a whole load of other indie labels. So what this means is that Mike and Lloyd agreed to put the record out on the strength of a tape of the songs? Surely not, maybe we took the record in without any sleeves and they agreed to put it out and i printed the sleeve later. Yeah that sounds about right. Sleeves, yes the perils of DIY sleeves, I did the red sleeves then I foolishly let Winstone (Forbes) who was working for a screen printer, do the second single pressing. His red ended up pink, and both he and Bob managed to glue the sleeves to the record. Mike went berserk because we gave Revolver a hundred records that got sent back. Mike was always going mad with me and Chris. I’m sure I will remember more instances the further I get into this. So at an early stage I knew the business side of things were well kept away from Winston and Bob
We got press like this; We bought the NME , Sounds and Melody Maker every week, we wrote down the address of their offices, bought a return ticket on the National Express to London and an A to Z. After going around the circle line for what seemed ages we found ourselves staring at an intercom. I think it was on Wardour Street. Above the intercom was the letters N.M.E written in ball point pen ’ You press it’ said Chris ‘ No why don’t you press it’ ‘ You’re the singer so you should press it’ ‘ What’s that got to do with it, it was your idea to come here so you press it. Yeah and that’s why you should press it, because it was my idea now you should do your bit!’ said Chris. This went on for ages until we bottle it. We decided to go to the pub and make a plan as to who would press the intercom. We got drunk instead. Sometime later I pressed the button and a bored London accent drawled ‘who is it ?’ I said ‘The brilliant corners ‘ ‘What the fucks that? ‘ said the London voice’ ‘erm were a band and we got a record to give you’ A pause then the door made a buzzing sound, we pushed it open. Who had I spoken to? Nick Kent? Charles Sharr Murray? Paul Morely? no not Paul Morley he was the Manchester guy, this was a Londoner. Maybe it was that brainy guy Ian Penman, after reading a review of his he got me looking in the dictionary to figure out what he meant by Hegemony and Niallism.
We went up some floors pushed another door open and we were inside the offices of the NME. The place smelt of vinegar and fags. Sat at a desk beyond piles of records, paper and a broken typewriter a huge un cool looking guy in a stripy shirt and thick glasses stared at us. We edged closer, I moved my hands towards his out stretched hands .His enormous hand that was bigger than my body, butchers hands, hands that had probably killed off the dreams of naive bands from the provinces, He crushed our poofy little fingers and said ‘Danny Kelly what you got?’ In silence we gave him the record. I was thinking wow Danny Kelly! Ive read reviews by this guy, mmm does not look like how I imagined him, he looks normal. He stared at us, we did not look normal, we were emaciated, quiffs, dressed all in black and totally tongue tied. ‘ We get hundreds of records every week , can’t promise it will be reviewed, gigging?’
No, no we were not gigging. ‘ Yeah doing loads of gigs’ we lied. Let us know when your in town we like to see bands before we review. He said. With that our audience with Danny Kelly seemed to end, a phone rang , he chatted and ignored us we stood around for a while. He gave us a look ‘like what the fuck are you two still doing here’. We went back to the pub and got pissed. We had given our record to Danny Kelly! Unbelievable! A few weeks later I was reading the NME ,Charles Sharr Murray was reviewing the singles. Under the heading Great Unknowns , he reviewed our single. I could write a million words that would never adequately describe the rush of blood I felt going to my head, a giddy panic, confused excitement, hell I may have even ejaculated. I wonder if Liam Gallagher felt like that the first time Oasis were reviewed? I suspect he yawned and picked his nose.