There’s a club if you’d like to go…


Earlier this month, I headed up north to attend the Glossop Record Club Smiths night in deepest, darkest Derbyshire, where I spent an evening listening to albums by The Smiths and Morrissey – on vinyl – in full. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

In the lyric of The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? Morrissey sings, ‘There’s a club if you’d like to go – you could meet somebody who really loves you. So you go, and you stand on your own and you leave on your own and you go home, and you cry and you want to die…’

At this month’s Glossop Record Club Smiths night, I’m pleased to say that no one stood on their own, and plenty of people shared their love and mutual appreciation of The Smiths and Morrissey. A few people left on their own, but they weren’t harbouring any feelings of misery and despair – instead they were just happy that they’d spent an evening in the company of like-minded individuals, listening to classic albums by The Smiths and Morrissey on vinyl and hearing an eclectic playlist of music related to Manchester’s masters of melancholy.

Glossop Record Club describes itself as the musical equivalent of a book group or a film society. Once a month, music fans meet up at Glossop Labour Club in Derbyshire to listen to albums – on vinyl – in full. Mobile phones must be switched off and there’s no talking while the main albums are being played. But there’s also plenty of time to drink and have a chat about the music you’re listening to.

Organised by record collector Simon Galloway, Glossop Record Club has been running for over a year. Past sessions have included nights devoted to Bowie, Merseybeat, Sun Records and John Peel. Guest speakers are invited to talk about their specialist subjects and attendees are encouraged to bring their own records to play on the night.

My first visit to Glossop Record Club was for The Smiths special, featuring guest presenter and Smiths/Morrissey enthusiast Gavin Hogg. I made the long train journey up from London – ‘home of the brash, outrageous and free’ specially, clutching my carefully selected vinyl – a 2013 7in picture disc of Morrissey’s The Last of The Famous International Playboys and Johnny Marr’s recent single Easy Money – also on 7in.


Sean Hannam

Sean Hannam


Simon Galloway introduces the listening session and spins some Smiths and Morrissey-related sounds, including songs from his favourite Morrissey 12in Everyday Is Like Sunday (Sister I’m A Poet/Disappointed/Will Never Marry – 1988) and The The’s The Beat(en) Generation – from the 1989 album Mind Bomb and featuring Johnny Marr on guitar and harmonica. We are also treated to some Smiths rarities, including a reggae version of Girlfriend In A Coma. What was that Morrissey once said about reggae being vile?




Guest speaker Gavin Hogg then sets the scene by telling us how he fell in love with The Smiths more than 30 years ago: “I heard This Charming Man on the radio and saw The Smiths on Top of the Pops in November 1983 – the world changed from that point. It was Morrissey’s big quiff, his love beads, outsized ladies blouse and the gladioli he was swinging around his head and knocking all the Top of the Pops balloons out of the way. You also had Johnny Marr with his Rickenbacker and his cool Brian Jones hairdo.”

He adds: “I didn’t really know much about what The Smiths were singing about – it was something to do with a desolate hillside, a bicycle and returning a ring, but I instinctively knew there was something more nourishing about what The Smiths were doing than Marilyn or The Thompson Twins, who were also on the same edition of  Top of the Pops.

Those attending the night were asked to vote online in advance for The Smiths album that they wanted to hear played in its entirety. Gavin tells us that the winner of the poll is The Queen Is Dead – by 45 per cent – which is met with much enthusiasm by the – mostly male – crowd – myself included.

Released in 1986, The Queen Is Dead is my favourite album by The Smiths – in fact it’s one of my favourite albums of all time – and is arguably Morrissey and Marr’s masterpiece. An emotional rollercoaster of a record, it starts with the epic garage rock assault of the title track and takes the listener on a journey through music hall comedy (Frankly, Mr Shankly), funereal balladry (I Know It’s Over), sublime jangle-pop (Cemetry Gates) and doomed romanticism – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, which is quite simply one of the greatest songs ever written.



Before we settle in to listen to The Queen Is Dead, Gavin gives us the lowdown on the album: “It’s regarded as The Smiths’ finest moment – although I think there’s a case for all of the albums having classic status,” he says. “It was released in June ’86 – it was The Smiths’ third album. Their musical abilities had developed and progressed – they started doing different things.

“Morrissey’s lyrics on the first two Smiths albums were about his diaries and his life up to that point. By the time of The Queen Is Dead, he had started to expand the things he was writing about. It was recently voted the Greatest Record of All Time by the NME – I’m not sure that’s entirely true, but it shows you what high regard it’s still held in.”

He adds: “The title track is heavy and starts with some feedback – Johnny Marr was listening to a lot of Stooges and MC5 when he recorded it. Frankly, Mr Shankly is a music hall number, Bigmouth Strikes Again is like an early Rolling Stones song and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out is one of the most well known songs by The Smiths.

“When [music journalist] Nick Kent reviewed the album when it came out, he said it was the album that, in due course, history will denote as being the key work in forcing the group’s philistine opposition to down chisels and embrace the concept of The Smiths as the only truly vital voice of the ‘80s.”

Adds Gavin: “If you’re a Smiths hater – and there maybe one or two of you here tonight – then you should down your chisels, have a listen and see what you make of it.”

He then puts The Queen Is Dead on the hi-fi and all of us sit in silence, as the opening sample of Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty  – from the title track – gives way to a shriek of feedback, Mike Joyce’s thundering tribal drums and wild wah-wah from Johnny Marr.

As we sit and listen, it’s clear that The Queen Is Dead is an album that is designed to be listened to loud and on a great hi-fi system – it sounds fantastic when it’s cranked up. At certain points during the playback, some of my fellow listeners and I exchange knowing nods and smiles, as we hear specific musical references, instrumentation and lyrics that we know and love. There are several times when I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Gavin Hogg and Simon Galloway

Gavin Hogg and Simon Galloway

Speaking after the listening session, Simon says: “Who knew there were so many Smiths fans in Glossop? There was a special moment – Bigmouth Strikes Again (Side Two – Track One of The Queen Is Dead). As the acoustic guitar and drums blasted out, the Glossop Labour Club became a sea of nodding heads and tapping feet, with air guitar, air drums and lots of singing along. It was a wonderful sight and it was a reminder too of the old side one/side two dynamic. In the digital age we sometimes forget how important the sequencing of songs and sides were – and are – on vinyl. Both our featured albums were perfect examples of getting it right.”

Indeed, the second album we’re going to listen to is Morrissey’s Your Arsenal from 1992 – but more on that later… Before we sit down to concentrate on Mozzer’s glam rock/rockabilly-inspired classic, there’s a chance to grab another pint and hear some more records that have a connection with tonight’s featured artists.

Simon plays the superb Getting Away With It by Electronic – the supergroup that featured Johnny Marr, New Order’s Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys. There’s also an airing of Take Me by Adult Net, featuring fifth Smith Craig Gannon; while my friend – and regular Glossop Record Club goer – Matt Hill gets the opportunity to play Sandie Shaw’s version of The Smiths’ Hand In Glove – from her 1988 album Hello Angel. I’m pleased to say that my Morrissey picture disc is also chosen to be played – heaven knows, I’m miserable now…

Matt Hill

Matt Hill


We are also treated to a cover version of Ask by Gigolo Aunts and a rendition of Panic by The Sidebottoms, featuring Manchester cult hero Frank Sidebottom, whose music is a regular feature of Glossop Record Club.

As Simon tells me: “It seems we have quite a few Frank fanatics among our attendees. It all started quite innocently when Gavin brought one of his records along to the Cult Heroes session last November. The following month Brett [another regular visitor to Glossop Record Club] brought his Christmas record along, and then someone suggested that we should try a find a relevant Frank song for every session. He’s probably been featured more than he hasn’t. It’s a challenge people seem to enjoy. Daft sods!”

After the Sidebottom in-joke, Gavin then introduces the Your Arsenal listening session by giving us some background to the album: “There’s quite a different sound to this record – there are some elements of rockabilly, as it was Morrissey’s first album with Boz Boorer, who was in rockabilly band The Polecats. The other musicians on the album are also from the same rockabilly scene. Mick Ronson produced the album – so there’s a glam rock sound to it, as well.”

He highlights the influence of T Rex’s Ride A White Swan on the track Certain People I Know and the nod to Bowie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide on I’m Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday.

Says Gavin: “There was some controversy when this album came out. There are some darker elements in the lyrics, dealing with football hooliganism [We’ll Let You Know] and racism [The National Front Disco].”

Gavin finishes his presentation by reading a humorous extract from Morrissey’s autobiography, in which the singer talks about recording Your Arsenal with Mick Ronson. It ends with Morrissey recounting a bizarre telephone conversation he had with Bowie…

Gavin Hogg

Gavin Hogg

Next up is Your Arsenal – my second favourite Morrissey album (1994’s Vauxhall & I is top of my list), which blazes its way into the Glossop Labour Club with opening track You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side – a rockabilly riot of a song with a filthy guitar riff that sounds like it was half-inched from the theme tune to the ‘60s Batman TV series. Like The Queen Is Dead, Your Arsenal is another album that sounds great up loud – Mick Ronson’s superb, dynamic production work and the songs’ great arrangements really come into their own when played on the PA.

However, it’s clear that some of the Record Club attendees find songs such as The National Front Disco uncomfortable – there’s a definite sense of uneasy listening – and some people’s attention starts to waiver during the second side of the album. This is a shame as it means that we can’t fully enjoy the more subtle tracks, such as the wonderful, haunting acoustic ballad  Seasick, Yet Still Docked – surely one of Morrissey’s finest compositions.

After the final song on Your Arsenal has finished – the punchy arena rock of Tomorrow – there’s another chance to hear some of the records that tonight’s attendees have brought with them, as well as some of Simon’s weird and wonderful selections.

Highlights include Bowie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide, The Jam’s That’s Entertainment, which was covered by Morrissey, and For The Dead – the debut 7in from ‘90s Smiths sound-alikes Gene – one of my own personal favourites.

Glossop Record Club regular Brett plays us recent tracks from 2014 albums by Johnny Marr and Morrissey. He chooses Easy Money from Marr’s Playland and Staircase At The University from Morrissey’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business. Enthusing about the latter, he exclaims: “It sounds like Girlfriend In A Coma brought back to life.”



Later on, over a beer, Brett tells me that he has a huge collection of British comedy records. He points out some connections between vintage British comedy and Morrissey. Firstly, the school in the film Carry On Teacher is called Maudlin Street Secondary and Morrissey has a song called Late Night, Maudlin Street. Secondly, Carry On star Joan Sims appeared in the video for Morrissey’s single Ouija Board, Ouija Board.

It’s these kind of pub conversations about obscure pop facts that make me want to become a regular Glossop Record Club visitor. What better way to spend an evening than listening to albums – on vinyl – in full, with a bunch of people who are passionate about pop music.

This night has opened my eyes – and my ears.

Music played at Glossop Record Club - Smiths night

Music played at Glossop Record Club – Smiths night



Here’s the entire playlist from the night:

Morrissey – Sister I’m A Poet/Disappointed/Will Never Marry (Everyday Is Like Sunday 12″, HMV, 1988)

The The – The Beat(en) Generation (Mind Bomb, Epic, 1989)

The Smiths – Girlfriend In A Coma (reggae version)/Death Of A Disco Dancer (alt version)/Paint A Vulgar Picture (alt version) (Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals, bootleg)

The Smiths – Asleep/Unloveable/Half A Person/Stretch Out And Wait (The World Won’t Listen, Rough Trade, 1987)


THE SMITHS – The Queen Is Dead (Rough Trade, 1986)

SIDE ONE: The Queen Is Dead/Frankly, Mr. Shankly/I Know It’s Over/Never Had No One Ever/Cemetry Gates

SIDE TWO: Bigmouth Strikes Again/The Boy With The Thorn In His Side/Vicar In A Tutu/There Is A Light That Never Goes Out/Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others


Electronic – Getting Away With It (7″, Factory, 1989)

Adult Net – Take Me (10″ blue vinyl, Fontana, 1989)

Sandie Shaw – Hand In Glove (Hello Angel, Rough Trade, 1988)

Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys (7″ picture disc, Parlophone, 2013)

Julian Cope – Drive, She Said (Peggy Suicide, Island, 1991)

Gigolo Aunts – Ask (7″, Fire Records, 1993)

The Sidebottoms – Panic (cd single, 11:37, 1993)


MORRISSEY – Your Arsenal (HMV, 1992)

SIDE ONE: You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side/Glamorous Glue/We’ll Let You Know/The National Front Disco/Certain People I Know

SIDE TWO: We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful/You’re The One For Me, Fatty/Seasick, Yet Still Docked/I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday/Tomorrow


Mick Ronson – Billy Porter (7″, RCA, 1974)

David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (7″, RCA, 1974)

T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Ride A White Swan, Music For Pleasure, 1972)

Roxy Music – Street Life (7″, Island, 1973)

The Jam – That’s Entertainment (Sound Affects, Polydor, 1981)

Johnny Marr – Easy Money (Playland, Warner Bros, 2014)

Johnny Marr – Generate! Generate! (The Messenger, Warner Bros, 2013)

Morrissey – Staircase At The University (World Peace Is None Of Your Business, Harvest, 2014)

Vincent Gerard & Steven Patrick – I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong (7″, Factory, 1989)

Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards (7″, Virgin, 1980)

T.Rex – Metal Guru (7″, EMI, 1972)

Gene – For The Dead (7″, Costermonger, 1994)

Nancy Sinatra – Happy (7″, Reprise, 1968)

Sandie Shaw – Girl Don’t Come (7″, Pye, 1964)

Morrissey – Suedehead (7″, HMV, 1988)

Lou Reed – Satellite Of Love (Transformer, RCA, 1972)

Morrissey – Everyday Is Like Sunday (12″, HMV, 1988)

Sandie Shaw – Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness (Hello Angel, Rough Trade, 1988)

The Smiths – Rubber Ring (The World Won’t Listen, Rough Trade, 1987)



For more information on Glossop Record Club, please visit


“For Halloween, we dressed up in lipstick, sequins and gowns and did a covers set of Supremes songs!”

San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls are named after a phrase used on stage by Funkadelic’s George Clinton, when he walked out of a big mother ship and addressed the crowd: “Hey, all you cool ghouls.”

And if that’s not, er, cool enough for you, their latest album, A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye, is a great garage-psyche-surf-rock record that is steeped in ‘60s sounds, high on harmonies and full of fuzzed-up guitar and jangling riffs. Think Nuggets meets The Beachboys, The Byrds and The Beatles, with a nod to The Velvet Underground.

I spoke to bassist Pat Thomas about the San Francisco scene, classic ‘60s music, what Cool Ghouls got up to for Halloween this year and their plans for 2015…


Your new record is one of my favourite albums of 2014. Can you tell me about the writing and the recording process behind it?

Pat Thomas: Thanks. We recorded it with Sonny Smith [Sonny & The Sunsets] at his house in San Rafael, north of San Francisco. We tracked all the guitars and drums live. We wrote all the songs over the course of about a year. We’d been playing a few of the songs live at shows for a long time before going in to record them.

The title of the album is from a lyric in the song Reelin‘, which was written by Pat McDonald [guitarist]. It’s an image of destruction – an unstoppable, devastating force. He’s thinking about San Francisco and some of the cultural changes that have been happening there recently.

Your sound is steeped in ‘60s garage rock, freakbeat and psyche. Some of your songs, such as And It Grows and The Mile, sound like long-lost ‘60s tracks. Did you all grow up listening to ‘60s back catalogues?

PT: Kind of. Pat McDonald grew up with a Bay Area oldies station called KFRC constantly playing in his family’s garage. [Drummer] Alex’s dad weaned him on Dylan and Springsteen. My parents listened to more ‘80s stuff.

Why are you attracted to ‘60s sounds?

PT: When I was first learning guitar, I was drawn towards classic rock. Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones resonated with me more than the popular contemporary rock music at that time, like Blink 182, Green Day etc. So I spent high school digging into older shit from the ‘60s and ‘70s and old folk and blues. It was easy to get into music from any time, as it was around 2003 and there were sites like Napster and Limewire. Classic rock was a popular radio format.

With the end of the 20th century, I think there was a general ‘Best of the 20th century’ recap that led to a lot of greatest hits collections being released on CD. But I think my attention was pointed specifically towards garage and psyche by a group of bands who were popularising that sound here in San Francisco, starting around 2007 – bands like Thee Oh Sees, Fresh & Onlys, Sic Alps and The Mantles. There were bands outside of San Francisco, too – The Black Lips, Strange Boys, King Khan & BBQ Show… Garage was the hot new shit. This was right as we were starting college.

We definitely take some cues from ‘60s bands – The Great Society, The Byrds, The Creation, The Grateful Dead – those guys were some of the best to ever play psychedelia. But we’re primarily engaging with a musical conversation that’s currently taking place on the West Coast.


cool ghouls

What’s it like being in a band in San Francisco at the moment? Is there a scene? Where do you guys fit in? 

PT: It’s a good place to have a band. A pretty big chunk of the scene packed up and left for LA last year, so it’s kind of all over the place right now. But there’s definitely still a ton of music going on… You gotta ask someone else from San Francisco if we’re hip!

Can you recommend some San Francisco bands?

PT: Magic Trick, Sonny & The Sunsets, Useless Eaters, O, Scraper, Meat Market, Violent Change, Skygreen Leopards, Air Surgeon, Sandy’s.

Who are your main influences?

PT: Our main influences are probably the people and artists immediately around us – our friends, people we see around town and bands we play with at shows. I think these people are the people we’re thinking about when we make music.



Can you tell me some of your favourite albums?

PT: Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Person Pitch by Panda Bear, A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, Marquee Moon by Television, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’s self-titled album, Moondance by Van Morrison, Putrifiers II by Thee Oh Sees, Europe ’72 by The Grateful Dead…. There are so many more.

How are you feeling as we head into 2015 and what are your plans for next year?

PT: I feel young, but also like I’m getting older… We’re gonna do a national US tour in March. Between now and then we’re gonna keep it on the West Coast and write and record an LP. We hope to release a couple of 7 inches that we’ve been working on.

Can we expect any UK live dates soon?

PT: We want to get over there next year. There’s nothing in the works yet, though.

Finally, what did Cool Ghouls do for Halloween this year?

PT: We dressed up in lipstick, sequins and gowns and did a covers set of Supremes songs!


A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye by Cool Ghouls is out now on Empty Cellar Records .



“I feel like we’ve been through some dark times and 2015 is going to be a big year”

Darkest Before Dawn EP - The Dreaming Spires - Robin & Joe Portrait-1

Fans of classic, jangly, guitar pop rejoice – Oxford band The Dreaming Spires are back with a gorgeous, brand new three-track EP, Darkest Before The Dawn, which is a taster for their second album, Searching For The Supertruth, due out next year.

Opening song  Hype Bands Parts I & II is a seven minute tour-de-force – a big blast of country-soul with horns, chugging rock & roll guitars and an irresistible, sunshine melody. Its wry, amusing lyric is about on-the-road antics in the USA and pokes fun at hipster indie bands who are more concerned about wearing the right clothes than writing great songs…

Second tune, House On Elsinore, is luscious. A hypnotic, hazy heat wave of a song, it’s set in LA’s dark underbelly and is soundtracked by chiming, psychedelic, Byrds-like guitars, while the title track is a positive, spiritual hymn that was written as a message of hope to a friend of the band, Danny, who went through some tough times, but, thankfully, came out the other side. It’s moving and very uplifting.

I spoke to Robin Bennett – who, with his brother Joe – forms the nucleus of  The Dreaming Spires, about Americana, hanging out in LA and how their new album has been influenced by shoegazing…

Let’s talk about your brand new EP, Darkest Before The Dawn, which is a great record. Musically, it feels like a step on from your debut album Brothers in Brooklyn. It has a richer, more expansive, widescreen sound. Musically, you’ve taken the jangle-pop feel of  The Byrds, Big Star and Teenage Fanclub, but also thrown in some Americana influences and themes…

Robin Bennett: Thanks. I’m excited to get some new material out after what feels like an age. We’ve always felt part of that lineage of bands, not so much by intention, but in how things seem to end up sounding.

I often think we’ve gone on a radical departure, only to be told it still sounds like The Byrds. Maybe a different Byrds album… We’ve always been bracketed in with Americana acts in England too, which has never made much sense to me, unless you’re going to include The Kinks and The Beatles, etc. I read Ray Davies’ book Americana this year, which helped put it all in perspective for me.

I definitely share those ‘60s bands’ excitement at the exotic nature of many aspects of American culture, which is shaped by Beat books, cowboy films, rock & roll music, neon signage, cup holders, and all the other ephemera. Bands from The Byrds to Tom Petty to Big Star refracted the British beat music back again – so I see it as back and forth across the Atlantic. It’s tough on us British acts playing in that style, because it’s assumed we are trying to be American. To be British, you have to sound like Duran Duran, it seems. As a child of the ‘80s mostly, I never heard any music I liked until I discovered ‘50s rock & roll and soul via The Beatles. These songs [on our new EP] are mostly triggered by events that happened during visits to the US. In this case, mostly California – between 2003-2008.

The Dreaming Spires - Darkest Before Dawn EP Cover

So, what was the starting point for the new EP – musically and thematically? 

RB: The song Darkest Before The Dawn was written by me and a friend, Cat Martino, in Brooklyn. We were trying to write a letter to our friend Danny in the form of a song. I’d had the tune and the chorus line for a while, since our first ever band practice before the first album, but when it was expressed as a direct message it seemed to come together. We wanted it to have a positive message while acknowledging how bad things had got. Although we were talking to Danny about his life, the theme of darkness and redemption feels applicable to all of us. We worked hard to create the contrast between light and shade in the title song, while House on Elsinore has a paranoid air from the many drones and so on…

The songs are on the new EP are all thematically linked – based on real life experiences you had with your friend Danny. He sounds like quite a character! You’ve certainly got some good tales from your antics with him – he has been referenced in several of your songs.

RB: Danny certainly is a character. In fact, it’s him I’m talking about in Singing Sin City from our first album, “smoking cigarettes like a cowboy movie character”. On our first visit to the West Coast with [previous band] Goldrush and Mark Gardener [ex-Ride], he was officially our tour manager and collected us from LAX airport. The whole experience made a big impression on me and we formed a close friendship. At the time he had his own band, The And/Ors, and was working as a screen printer for the artist Shepard Fairey. You could say the music we were listening to on cassettes in his tour van – mostly Teenage Fanclub and The Byrds – set me off on the direction that ended up with The Dreaming Spires. Given that he also introduced me to Big Star and reintroduced me to Tom Petty, you could credit Danny with our whole sound.

Aside from the bands and tours, we unexpectedly struck up a songwriting partnership. In only a few sessions in LA and also on his visits to Oxford, we contrived to write over 50 songs together at a rate of two or three a day. Until then I’d been writing mostly alone and struggling with it. He taught me how to put method in the madness and to create almost on demand, which was an amazing change for me.

We wrote songs for Goldrush for the album The Heart is the Place, and a kind of solo album called Dusty Sound System, which was written in a week and recorded in a day, as well as numerous unreleased songs. Strength of Strings and Just Can’t Keep This Feeling In eventually made it onto the Brothers in Brooklyn LP [The Dreaming Spires’ first album].

How does Danny feel about having songs written about him? He sounds like he went through a bad patch, but, thankfully, is now in a much happier place…

RB: He did indeed hit a bad patch and it was no longer possible for us to write together. It was also a turbulent and busy time in my own life, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write again on my own – and for a year or so, there wasn’t much coming out. It was seeing him at such a low point, when we visited California for a friend’s wedding, that got me writing again – with him as the subject, instead of the writing partner. I don’t know why, but the ideas just kept coming, spilling out into numerous lyrics that I wrote at great speed. Some were finished in time for the first LP, some took longer and some form part of this new EP and the new album. I kept thinking, ‘now I should write about something else’, but I kept having more ideas from the same topic and often the lyrics would go off on tangents from a similar starting point.

I read something by Jay-Z, talking about writing lyrics by going back to the same point in your past for inspiration, so perhaps that’s what was happening. We spent a year recording these new songs, but I knew if Danny wasn’t happy with them, then I wouldn’t be able to release them, so I sent them to him before anyone else. His reaction was what I hoped it would be – he understood the intention of the songs, of course. I also didn’t feel right putting these songs out until I knew he was in good shape again, which he very much is now.

I like the wry, witty lyrics on your song Hype Bands Parts I & II. Are the words aimed at any bands in particular? I also like the rocky guitar sound on the track and the big brass arrangement. It has a soulful feel…

RB: I think we’ve ended up with a contrast between the brittle sound of the intro, which is a warm parody of any number of ‘hype bands’, and the looser feel of the second half, where music helps you to let go – which is what ‘soul’ music usually does. Because we’ve been playing in bands since the late ‘90s, we’ve come across many bands that have shot to fame before disappearing, but, in a way, it’s more of a comment on how the music industry has treated bands in the last 15 years. There’s a wave of hype to get them going, before a rapid tail-off into obscurity. Of course, if you’re a writer or an artist, this bears no relation to your development. The attributes to being a good ‘hype band’ are different to being a good writer, as your window of opportunity is so short. You have to chime with the trend of the moment.

When we did have a major label push for our old band, Goldrush, we coincided with the appearance of The Strokes, who must be the ultimate hype band. We didn’t stand a chance! Shortly afterwards we left Virgin Records, who replaced us with The Thrills – who, I should add, were a good band with some excellent songs. They did a similar thing, but in a much more presentable way. We crossed paths with them a few times during our LA visits, including an incident where we found out that a friend of Danny’s was acting as their stylist. When he asked Conor, the singer, about it, he denied everything. We really did play them at pool, too. We won!

Will any of the songs from the new EP end up on your next album – Searching For The Supertruth – which is out next year?

RB: We recorded 13 tracks in all – three of which form this EP and the other 10 make up the album. We tried to make it work as a double album, but, ultimately, it worked better separating these three songs as an EP – it’s too much to process at once. All 13 tracks will be on the vinyl release across two discs.

Is the EP representative of the new album? 

RB: I think the EP is a good pointer towards the album. We’ve finished the album. It’s been mastered by Tony Poole, a great musician and producer who played in the cult ‘70s band Starry Eyed & Laughing. We worked with our long time associate Rowland Prytherch to create as much detail in the sound as we can, so that further listening is rewarded. Something we’ve picked up more on since the first LP is trying to create an atmospheric undercurrent to the tracks, often using lap steel washes and string pads through numerous FX pedals. You could call it our shoegaze influence. I think it sounds positive and transcendent, overall.

So, what we can expect from the new album. Can you give us a few teasers? 

RB: We’ve been playing some songs live already. The autobiographical song Dusty in Memphis is already a crowd favourite, complete with a sing-along. We’ve also played the title song, with a backwards guitar part by Tony Poole, and the ballad We Used to Have Parties, which has a backing vocal from Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne.

Is it a concept album and  part of a trilogy? Where did the title  –  Searching For The Supertruth – come from?

RB: It definitely feels like a concept album, without being overbearing. It is the final part of the trilogy, where the narrative resolves, at least for now. The title came from a scientist friend called Rich Blundell. It’s to do with cosmic evolution and the universe becoming conscious of itself.

What music are you currently into and what are your favourite new albums of 2014? 

RB: This year I have enjoyed new stuff from The War on Drugs, Sturgill Simpson, and Arcade Fire, as well some great music by friends including Common Prayer, Sugar Magnolia and Paul McClure. I’m enjoying The Flaming Lips and friends’ take on Sgt Pepper more than I expected too! I’ve also been listening to lots of soul compilations, dreaming of being in Booker T & The MG’s, plenty of Jackson Browne and new and old Tom Petty albums. Getting a car with a tape-only stereo has meant I’ve listened to cassette versions of Tunnel of Love [Bruce Springsteen] and Emmylou Harris’ Luxury Liner more times than I care to mention.

So, how you do feel as we head into 2015?

RB: I feel like we’ve been through some dark times and 2015 is going to be a big year

Darkest Before The Dawn – the new EP from The Dreaming Spires – is released on November 24. It’s on ClubHouse Records.



‘There’s loads of good rock & roll bands around at the moment – if you dig for ‘em, they’re there’

Psychedelic garage-rockers The Black Delta Movement hail from Hull. Their new single The Trip is a heavy, heavy version of the 1965 cult classic by Kim Fowley. I spoke to Matt Burr [guitar and vocals] about his love of ‘60s counter-culture and the burgeoning music scene in his hometown

The BDM live 2014

The Trip, which is your take on the Kim Fowley song from 1965, is a heavy, garage-psyche record. Are you fans of the ‘60s underground scene and counter-culture?

Matt Burr: We’re all really big fans of that scene – it just clicks with us and, with the resurgence that seems to be happening at the moment, it’s making it exciting again. The Kim Fowley tribute came from us loving the song and deciding that we could put our own swing on it. We managed to get in touch with him and he replied: “Great, guys! Thank you so much!”

Your song The Messenger, which is on the B-side of your new single, is another psychedelic track that’s in a similar vein as The Trip. It reminds me of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club…

MB: They’re one of my favourite bands – ha! We’re all really big fans. The Messenger is a song that’s been around for a while, although, the first time we played it live, we made it up as we went along. We straightened it out a few months later and decided to record it, but we never thought it did the song justice, so we decided to re-do it as a B-side for the new single.

In my view, there aren’t a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll bands around at the moment. Why do you think that is?

MB: I don’t know, to be honest. I think there’s loads of good rock & roll bands around, but they’re not in the mainstream. If you dig for ‘em, they’re there. There are bands like The Black Angels, Parquet Courts, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Drenge and a whole lot more, who are making great albums and really turning things around. I think there’s a lot more to come – this is certainly the start of a new scene. There’s been a lot of uninspiring trash around over the last couple of years and I think it’s on the way out. At the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of newer music – Warpaint, Ty Segall and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – although Nick Cave, The Modern Lovers and Massive Attack have been in there a lot lately, too. We all like a lot of different music, so everyone brings their own thing to the table during the writing process.

Who was the last great rock and roll band to come out of the UK?

MB:  That’s a difficult one – there have been so many good bands. I think if we’re talking about true greatness though, it has to be Oasis. No other band, in my opinion, made such a huge impact on British music and culture since The Beatles. Whether you like them or not, nobody can deny that.

What’s the current music scene like in your hometown of Hull?

MB: The current scene is absolutely brilliant. There are a lot of truly great bands and it really does feel like there’s a proper scene going on. I think Hull gets overlooked a lot – I don’t think I’ve experienced a city with quite so many good bands coming out of it. Some really good friends of ours are MOTHER, Breeze, La Bete Blooms and Tom Skelly & The Salty Beards. I think the festivals we’ve had here over the last few years have helped by giving those bands a big platform to showcase their music. It certainly helped us.

bdm stage

Hull’s musical heritage includes Mick Ronson [guitarist with David Bowie in The Spiders From Mars] and The Housemartins. Could you be the next big thing to come out of Hull?

MB: Ha ha – I don’t know. We all hope so. We work really hard at what we do, so it would be nice. It’s an exciting time for us, so anything could happen.

It’s been a good year for The Black Delta Movement, hasn’t it?

MB: It’s been the best. Over the summer, we did our biggest ever gigs at various venues and festivals all over the country, playing to really great crowds. Supporting The Stranglers at Hull City Hall was a massive show for us, as were our slots with Kaiser Chiefs, Drenge and TOY. Releasing The Trip has been really good, too. We’d been sitting on it for months, but we had to wait for clearance from EMI.

You played at the Holy Trinity Church in Hull this year – how did that go? Were you the first rock and roll band to play there?

MB: The Holy Trinity Church show we curated was amazing. It’s such a fantastic building and we had visuals done for us by F Visuals in Oxford, so it looked incredible. It was definitely one of my highlights of the year. We were the first rock & roll band to play there since Cliff Richard, but we were definitely the loudest!

What are your plans for 2015? Can we expect your debut album to come out next year?

MB: In 2015, we’re looking at touring as much as we possibly can. We’ve been asked a lot lately about our debut album… We’ve got all the material for one, but we feel that we’ll be in a position to do it after we’ve built our profile a bit more and released a couple more singles.

What are your ambitions for The Black Delta Movement?

MB: I’m just happy to be playing music. I look up to bands like BRMC, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds & The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They have all the musical freedom they want and have a loyal following. That’s what I would like for us – to be able to release records and tour around the world.

Finally, where does your band name come from?

MB: It was so long ago now, that I often forget. Basically, it stemmed from me liking the idea of long band names. At the time everything was “The This”, “The That” or “The Other”, so I wanted to step away from that a little. I remember meeting Brent DeBoer from The Dandy Warhols after they played at KoKo in Camden and when I told him the name, he said he really liked it, so I suppose that was the decider.