We're back again in the Dev for one of Flag Promotions' band-in-a-corner-of-the-pub gigs. To any band which has previously played in proper live music venues the Dev must seem like a right old lash-up: no real stage, no proper lighting, and a PA which looks like someone's Hi-Fi up on sticks. You certainly need to suspend your disbelief to accept this pub as a viable place for gigs. And yet, it can work. If the bands are prepared to treat the occasion as a bit of a party, an impromptu piss-up with guitars, then a Dev gig can be good, solid, unpretentious fun. No prima donnas, just rock 'n' roll. That's the way to play it.
Before the bands start up, there's time to avail myself of the refreshments on offer at the bar. Now, the Dev might have the most alternative clientele of any pub in London, but the alternative-ness does not, alas, extend to its range of drinks. It's just the usual big-brand lagers, alcopops, and soft drinks. If you want a pint of CorporateFizz beer-style drink from some multinational conglomerate, the Dev will happily sell you several. If you'd prefer something a little more interesting - a beer from one of the UK's small independent breweries, for example - you're out of luck. It's not that I necessarily want the Dev to offer Bishop's Finger by the bottle, or Theakston's Old Peculier by the hogshead (although that would undeniably be a fine thing) - but you'd at least expect them to be able to run to a pint of John Smith's. It's akin to discovering a really cool-looking alternative record store, and then browsing through the racks to find it only sells albums by Nickelback and Phil Collins. So, stuck for choice as I am, I opt for a pint of Kronenbourg (the beer equivalent to Nickelback), and, muttering petulantly between swigs, I make my way up to the band-corner.
Dead Heaven are a melodic punk outfit who - to my ears at least - draw upon all sorts of old-skool influences from The Clash to The Jam. They're a four piece: they must've warped the very fabric of spatial logistics to squeeze their drum kit on stage, but somehow it fits. The drums power everything along with a jackhammer thunder that sounds noticably more forceful than even the most belligerent backing track. It's probably all down to the air pressure coming out of the drum shells, or something. Over this fine racket two guitarists duel; one of them throwing some very Strummer-esque moves as he whacks away at his semi-acoustic. The vocalist churns away at the bass and fixes the audience with a basilisk glare while hollering out the lyrics. It's tight, no-frills stuff, fast-paced yet always controlled. I could imagine this band supporting The Jam in the '80s - they've got that same single-minded cut-the-crap-and-do-it approach (although, fortunately, not the suits or tasselled loafers). Quite where Dead Heaven might fit in to the current music scene is a bit of a mystery, given that 'punk' seems to be a synonym for airbrushed major-label American alternorock these days. But I'm glad they're out there doing their stuff, and their unpretentious straight-from-the-shoulder style works well tonight in the prosaic setting of the Dev.
Corrosion are usually introduced with the words 'stalwarts of the UK goth scene' or somesuch phrase, for although Corrosion itself is still a relatively new outfit, the two Corrosioneers, Matt and Paul, have plenty of past history in Matt's other band, All Living Fear. It's tempting to draw comparisons between Corrosion and All Living Fear, and certainly there are occasional similarities in the sound - particularly when sampled choirs break out on the backing track. That's a definite All Living Fear-ism. I remember Matt once telling me, 'When I write a song, I don't write a goth song - I write a rock song, and then I put a choir on it so the goths will like it!' However, by and large Corrosion are more rock than goth, and they kick up an impressively rockin' racket. Paul is suffering from a bad throat, but you'd hardly know it as he lets rip on the vocals and the guitar does that monster-riff thing. In fact, the riffs are so monster that I'm struck by the thought that Corrosion have, in truth, played themselves right out of the goth scene and into the rock pool. The band both looks and sounds like a classic rock outfit that's temporarily mislaid its bassist and drummer, and has decided to don a rather ill-fitting gothic cloak until they find them again. The covers give it away: a rather psychedelic 'Morning Dew' - hang on, isn't that a Grateful Dead song? - and, as an encore, Led Zep's 'Rock 'n' Roll', upon which Paul does a very fine take on Robert Plant's freaked-out caterwaul (and this with a sore throat!). These songs, I suspect, reveal where Corrosion are coming from...and perhaps where they'd like to go to. Whether they'll be able to take the goth scene along with them is a moot point, but I think the band are having too much fun just rockin' out to worry too much about their position in the scene. A good-time rock set from a good-time rock band, and again, just the sort of stuff that works well in the decidedly un-luxurious surroundings of the Devonshire Arms.
There's time for another pint of Nickelback-beer as the DJ starts up: for many of London's scene-people, the night is only just beginning. I'm off home to allow my hangover to develop. CorporateFizz always gives me a headache. It's been a good night, but I still wish the Dev would get the Bishop's Finger in. As the actress said to the...
see all the photos from this show here
Dead Heaven: http://www.deadheaven.co.uk
Flag Promotions: http://www.flagpromotions.com
Bishop's Finger: http://www.bottledbeer.co.uk/beer.asp?BeerID=17
Old Peculier: http://www.bottledbeer.co.uk/beer.asp?beerid=294
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
The Ghost Of Lemora
The Narcissus Pool
Devonshire Arms, London
Friday February 14 2003
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis
Let's start with some essential orientation. Over the years, many different enclaves of alternative culture have grown up in assorted areas of London, but from the hippy days to the present day the main drag for the sub-cultural population of the capital has arguably been Camden High Street. Close enough to central London to be convenient, yet far enough out of the centre for rents to be cheap, and with areas of derelict industrial land upon which Camden's famous markets could establish themselves, the area attracted the bohemians and the arty crowd, the alternative kids and the weirdos, the grebos, the crusties, and the goths - and the hole-in-the-wall businesses which catered for them.
Except that these days, Camden isn't quite as alternative as it seems. Sure, the independent shops selling the paraphernalia of alternoculture are still there, but now the world of corporate retail is moving in. Anxious to grab a slice of Camden's air of counter-culture cool, major international chains are shouldering their way into the area. You know the names: Tower Records. Gap. Camden even has a Starbucks now. McDonald's hasn't yet arrived, but I'm willing to bet it won't be long. Even Camden's pubs are being taken over by the major national chains, and are being given bijou make-overs and 'casual but smart' dress codes.
So let's raise a glass to one of Camden's last remaining spit-and-sawdust-without-the-sawdust boozers, the meeting point of choice for just about anyone with a funny hairstyle and a scruffy leather jacket: the Devonshire Arms. Quite how the Dev became adopted as Camden's 'goth pub' is a mystery lost in the mists of drinking time, but, on and off, that's the way its been for a good few years. And now it seems that Flag Promotions - currently London's only promoter working in the area of goth-to-EBM - has decided to turn the Dev into an entry-level live music venue. Although the pub doesn't have much in the way of proper venue facilities (the 'stage' is merely a raised section of floor in the corner by the bar, the PA is a gimcrack temporary affair, and the lights are minimal) it's possible for bands to make a reasonable fist of a Dev gig if they leave rock stardom at the door and play it with a certain gung-ho 'Let's do the show right here!' attitude. We shall see how tonight's bands shape up.
We last saw The Narcissus Pool do their stuff at the Whitby Gothic Weekend. It's odd to see the band go from being the toast of Whitby, commanding a large crowd from a big stage, to this corner-of-a-pub gig. And they aren't even headlining tonight! It's hard to escape the thought that the 'Pool have just taken one step forward and two steps back. But what the hell. We will do no career-analysis tonight. Let's just crank it up. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it seems, for the PA sounds like it's half-dead. The engineer, over in the corner, peers bemusedly at his mixing board and occasionally ventures to touch a fader. The sound does not improve. I'm tempted to stroll over and ask him if he's got a colleague in Chicago: he's got the same 'I don't really know how this stuff works...' air about him as the gormless techie who gave us all shredded nerves at Saturnalia. The band just blat on regardless, which is probably the best approach. And...they're good. Against all the odds, they rock. Phill's sardonic delivery rings out with magnificent disdain, and Polly's guitar crackles and crunches like sonic Rice Crispies. The Other Two lurk in the background, which is more or less all it's possible to do on the tiny Dev stagelet - rock 'n' roll showboating just isn't possible when you're hemmed in by two walls and the ladies' toilets. The set is a good old stomp through The Narcissus Pool's greatest hits: selected highlights from the new album 'Rehearsing For Dementia', with some old faves slung in there too. 'Narcissist' is, as ever, a splendidly bile-soaked strut. The set is a bit of a battle against the odds, but the band emerge the winners in the end.
After a certain amount of equipment-shifting and pint-drinking, The Ghost Of Lemora scramble up onto the raised-floor. A gig like this, where the audience is clustered right up to the front, is probably the ideal situation for Twinkle, the band's vocalist. He thrives on audience interaction - making eye-contact with the crowd, holding his gaze for a second and then glancing away with an arch of the eyebrow. The band as a whole play with an air of knockabout good humour, which fits in well with the informal nature of the gig. The great strength of The Ghost Of Lemora, of course, is the quality of their songs, which are as catchy as fish-hooks and have a certain Dickensian threadbare glamour about them. And then there are the wistful ones: 'Lady Lemora' and 'The Gallery Girls', which seem slightly incongruous in these good-time surroundings, but the band get away with it. Somehow they always do. Twinkle clambers up on the scaffolding which separates the stage from the audience (nope, I've never understood why it's there, either - maybe it's to act as a supporting framework in case there's ever a need to put up some chicken wire) and declaims dramatically from on high, while the audience reaches up to tickle him. It's a good rumbustious show, and even the PA seems to be making the right noises at last. Yep, it's another one to chalk up on the winners' list.
After the set, there's time to mill around and socialise over a few drinks, or indeed many drinks. The Dev DJ inserts himself behind the decks and churns out the goffick grooves. The Dev stays open late - it's one of the few London pubs that doesn't chuck out at eleven o'clock sharp - so there's no need to rush off home. It's hot and crowded and the atmosphere is authentic British Gothic Pub: heavy on the carbon monoxide with a highlight of hairspray. Bad for the health, of course: but given the Dev's status as a bastion of scruffy alternoculture holding out against the march of Corporate Camden, probably good for London's subcultural soul.
see all the photos from this concert here
The Ghost Of Lemora: http://www.theghostoflemora.co.uk (New website, although with much the same old content)
The Narcissus Pool: http://www.razorbladebeat.com
Flag Promotions: http://www.flagpromotions.com
A goth guide to Camden: http://www.camdenlock.net/goths/gothtour.html (Check elsewhere on this site for a general overview of alternative-ish Camden)
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
A Conversation with Patrick
~by Saint Petrol
(photo courtesy/property of Projekt Records)
The following is an interview
with Mr. Patrick Ogle of Thanatos and IllegalTeenageBikini. Mr. Ogle was
born on a day in a year in a town. Since then, he's been living, which
he continues to do to this day. Mr. Ogle also creates and participates
in some rathe amazing music, which I encourage you to seek out and make
your own, preferably from the Projekt webiste, which you can be magically
transported to by clicking http://www.projekt.com/.
Mr. Ogle and I hope you enjoy the interview. We did...
Saint Petrol: Have you never been mellow?
SP: Have you ever heard a song about this little blue man who loves this lady, and the words say, " 'I love you, I love you,' said the little blue man, 'and scared me right out of my wits." At the end, she won't love him, so he jumps off the top of a building and on the way down, he says, "I don't love you any mooooore." It was recorded in the 1960s or something. It's totally twisted. 'Ever heard it?
P: I think I heard that…oh wait…No.
SP: What are the lyrics to "Hebron"?
P: Ay yi yi! You want me to remember the lyrics to a song I haven’t heard or played or anything for 5 years…? I can tell you what it is about…a town in Israel where a Israeli settler of U.S. origin killed, I think, 39 Palestinians praying. There have also been murderous attacks on Jews there. In the 20s there was a massacre. I was taking those events and looking at them through the prism of Jesus walking the Via Dolorosa on the way to be crucified…All these religions, all this faith all these stupid senseless killings…over rocks and dust and ultimately nothing…Not many have heard that song. It is only on the limited edition Beast disc…We used to do it live a lot. My guess is it will never be played again.
SP: Are you aware that one of the fads sweeping state fairs and carnivals in the U.S. is deep-fried Twinkies? I think Elvis would have really appreciated that.
P: Yeah surprisingly I have heard of that. You really need to make Twinkies a little LESS healthy by deep frying them. I bet the fucker who came up with that weighs about 400 pounds if they haven’t had a stroke already and died…Their next culinary creation will probably be carbonated bacon drippings.
SP: I want lyrics, pictures, discography, musings. Website, website,website, website.
P: That requires someone to design the site…I am also not fond of being photographed…I have a cleft palate and a hunch back….and those are my good features…But a website will be up soon. It will likely be some sort of blog in addition to trying to hawk my records…Contests are also likely.
SP: What are some happy memories from your childhood?
P: I remember playing in the yard and my dad coming home from work and giving me a Eisenhower dollar…I loved coins and stuff like that. I still do actually. I still have that dollar somewhere. It was 1971….I actually have 2 because I got another one years later and I don’t know which is which so I kept both. I should try to find those.
SP: What do you see when you look out your bedroom window?
P: An ill-kept back yard.
SP: What sorts of things are you usually thinking when you look out?
P: Shit, do I have to get up already…
SP: Do you believe there really is a distant singularity?
P: Well ! That is a matter of, close to, scientific fact. There is most likely a fairly distant singularity at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy…If that is too close to qualify for “distant” most spiral galaxies are supposed to have one at their center (or so I am told).
SP: What words do you enjoy?
P: Excrement, somnambulist and blow-job (although this is technically 2 words).
SP: Why did you thank "spider monkeys everywhere" in the liner notes of "An Embassy To Gaius"?
P: At an old job of mine a fellow employee once commented that our somewhat crazy boss was going to come into the office with a bullwhip jammed up his ass screaming, “I’m a spider monkey.” It never in fact happened but the whole spider monkey thing had a life of its own…People who had no idea of its origins became wrapped up in it. It was sorta spooky. My business cards at Projekt had a spider monkey on them.
SP: Who do you miss?
P: A number of people but most of all my son, who lives too far from me. I miss other folks who’ve passed away too but I don’t want to get into that…
SP: Confess something.
P: I am an even worse musician now than 10 years ago because I took a hot sauce bottle thru my hand AND I never practice. Probably more the latter than the former. I am also way, way nicer than most people who’ve met me think.
SP: What's the last thing you remember dreaming?
P: OK I was trying to turn off the fucking TV but it kept coming back on. SO I look behind the damned thing and the prongs for the plug are kind of fucked and when I take the plug out one breaks off. Now this is my sister’s TV and I am thinking. Man I broke her TV she is going to be pissed.
SP: You have a lot of Biblical and Old Testament references in your lyrics. At least "quite a few" if not a lot. Why?
P: Religion interests me. Don’t mistake that for being particularly religious. I am not really, or at least I avoid talking about what I believe on such matters cause it is no one’s business, might drive them insane and is difficult to articulate. The stories in the Bible are pretty universal; they deal with the randomness of living. Are we being punished when bad shit happens? The Book of Job would seem to indicate no…God might just be settling a bet with the Devil. Read the Gospels sometime. Some of the stories in there seem simple but in fact are not. The Sermon on the Mount is one of those. I remember the Leonard Cohen song that has the lyric “The staggering account of the sermon on the mount, which I don’t pretend to understand at all.” I think “right on brother” every time I hear that. And anyway what should I write about? Satanism or Anton Lavey…yawn.
SP: When's the last time something took your breath away, and what was it?
P: My son being born was one. Sometimes when I see his mother after long absences is another. Keep in mind we are not together! But she still has that effect on me. As far as things go, looking down into the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua was pretty breathtaking. I had never seen a volcano before.
SP: Do you have any scars? Where, and from what?
P: I have a shit load. I have one on my forehead and on my cheek where a skin cancer was removed. Folks of Irish descent should live in caves any only come out at night. I have an inch an a half scar above my right eyebrow from stage diving at an Adrenalin O.D. show something like 17 years ago…I have another one on my face from when I was a kid and I ran down the hallway and into a dresser. It is just like one Harrison Ford has but mine is on the other side of my mouth.
And those are just the ones on my face. I have a fishhook shaped scar on the palm of my right hand and another on my right elbow where they took nerves out to do a graft so I could get feeling back in my hand (it didn’t work but it did cost a lot of money).
SP: Are you afraid of spiders? If so, why? If not, why not?
P: Not really. I rescue daddy
long legs all the time…I just rescued one tonight…I don’t like cockroaches
but spiders are ok…But I am jinxing myself and now will be stung to death
SP: I read in a previous interview you have a few songs already recorded for a possible new IllegalTeenageBikini album. Are you working on a new album right now? If not, are you planning on releasing those songs anytime soon?
P: I have an album written and three songs recorded. I am thinking about releasing the three as a maxi-cd if I cannot get the full length finished. I need to figure out who I want to record with and beg their help…like Greg Lucas from mnpltr who did most of the real work on the current Illegalteenagebikini disc. It is all one word by the way!
SP: What book, record, or CD is in your house that most people would probably never guess is there?
P: I have tons of reggae discs and latin disc….hmm…most surprising? Probably all the Shakira discs I have. I love her. She’s brilliant….
SP: How do you dress when you're happy? Sad?
P: Pretty much the same way. I pay little attention to such things. I do try to wear pants when I leave the house.
SP: Have you ever seen a planet through a telescope? If so, which one was it, and how did it make you feel to see it?
P: Nope…never have oddly enough. I have tried but I never saw anything.
SP: Do you think Joan of Arc would have still heard the voices if she'd been on anti-psychotics?
P: She probably wouldn’t have heard the voices if she lightened up a bit or if the English had voluntarily left her country. Then she could have gone back to being a country girl instead of being burned at the stake. Prozac might’ve forestalled that I guess.
SP: What's your favorite Beatles album?
P: Not a big Beatles fan I must say but if forced to pick a CD it would be “Sgt. Peppers.”
SP: Where the heck did "Oklahoma City Ballroom" come from?
P: Deep in my scarred psyche. I was out on tour with Ween as their Merchandiser…t-shirt selling guy. I found a t-shit that said “property of Jesus Christ”…I used to wear it until people who didn’t sense I was wearing it with a sense of irony started chatting with me. We also stopped in Oklahoma City, which is a pretty God-forsaken place. I was out in the lobby and couldn’t see the show but there were all these nitwits out there talking about how they drove 100 miles to be there YET while the band was playing they stood in the lobby drinking warm Budweiser. The next day they no doubt told all their friends the show ROCKED. 100 miles for warm Bud. Well that got me thinking about transvestites….and a song was born.
SP: What do most people miss about your music that you wish they'd get?
P: No one seems to ever get what the fuck I am writing about but in their defense it is not always clear. I am not necessarily making a sharp point all the time. I USED to be. But then on records like “An Embassy to Gaius” I don’t really expect people to get all the references which are pretty arcane in some cases. Actually people who GET it sometimes really surprise and cheer me up.
IN other cases I am not sure what the hell I was writing about. Almost like I am Shirley McLaine channeling Ramtha and telling my friends to invest in a horse farm. I like talking about what they mean. Sometimes people understand them better than I do…
SP: How's your heart?
P: Beating so it is better than some people (you know dead people). It has been broken more times than a Nashville songwriter so it has gotten pretty tough. I don’t whine about that though. IN fact I hate people who do whine about it (excepting immediately after the fact). Whining about a break up over a year in the past should garner a beating.
SP: Do you respect Job?
P: I respect faith. Even mindless faith but I am afraid of it. Job believed and that could not be shaken. Yet he was just being used as a guinea pig by God to show up Satan. But faith is a powerful thing. Even the power of God trying to undo him could not undo his faith. In a sense that made Job more powerful than the all powerful God. It is a book that is open to a number of interpretations. But one thing is certain Job was pragmatic and tough and that, even without faith is admirable.
SP: The cover of IllegalTeenageBikini; is that a massive, MASSIVE object?
P: Yes. That was the original title of the CD! But I changed it because I had a promotional idea that I never did…I was going to send out Job action figures to everyone. But it cost too much and most publications dealing with music are thick headed money grabbers and wouldn’t have gotten it anyway.
SP: Are you embarrassed of any bands you saw live in the 80s?
P: I am not embarrassed but some of the BANDS should be. Fuck I saw JOURNEY….that might have been in 1979 though. I saw Rush. My god were they horrible. But I never saw any sort of Hair Metal shit…I hated that stuff. I was a punk rocker….
SP: What's one of the hardest things you ever lived through in your life? What did you do to make it through that?
P: I have had a few hard things to deal with. How to deal with them? I think the best way, and it takes awhile, is to deal with hardship like alcoholics deal with booze. Hand it over to some higher power and then go day to day. People can deal with anything if they have the right attitude. A shit attitude makes bad things worse. I know because I have spent a lot of my life with a shit attitude. Fortunately nothing really bad happened to me until that started to change.
SP: Have you seen the movie Donnie Darko? If so, what'd you think of that rabbit? Totally freaky. "Why are you wearing that silly 'man suit'?" That rabbit gave me nightmares.
P: Never saw it
SP: Do you have pets? What are they?
P: Nope….I live with my sis and she has a goofy Blue Tick Hound….named, cleverly, “blue”. She howls every day at about 5 am….She is also not actually blue in color.
SP: What was on your mind when you wrote "Drop The Dime"?
P: Not anything nice I assure you. Tucker had that music together and was playing it and I said. “man I have some lyrics together that work for that” and we added them. That song was really unfinished when he died. It was a rough mix. Funny thing is it may be the best sounding track on the disc.
I am not avoiding the question. I just don’t remember writing it. It wasn’t anything too seriously dark tho! More angsty….
SP: What's your favorite old, weird, spooky, black and white movie?
P: OK there is this one with Dana Andrews about these demon worshipers…and this curse…I love that one…can’t remember the name. There is this demon thing chasing a train that looks really cool. It must have been an astounding special effect at the time. There is this creepy rich guy with a goatee that Dana pulls a switcheroo on and the demon gets him…Cool movie.
SP: Have you ever seen that one with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, where they both play some kind of Satanists or something, and Boris looks totally evil and elegant? It's called "The Black Cat" or something like that, but not Poe's black cat. It's such a twisted old movie. I wonder if MST3K ever got ahold of it?
P: Yeah. That is a great one…Thing is it is a really good movie and MST3K tended to used really brutally bad movies like “Giant Gila Monster.”
The Crawling Eye, now there's one for you.
That shit gave me nightmares when I was a kid.
SP: What usually are your last thoughts as you're going to sleep?
P: Why the FUCK can’t I fall asleep or why the FUCK isn’t there a naked person in this bed with me.
SP: The first when you wake up?
P: The already mentions “shit do I have to get up now?” is one. Or maybe “Who IS this naked person next to me…oh…wait…its inflatable.”
SP: I'm getting tired of
thinking up questions. Thank you for your music and the parts of
yourself you share with us through it. Thank you for enduring.
Uh buh dee uh buh dee uh buh dee, that's all folks.
Thanks Patrick. : )
Thanatos Projekt site: