Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Viva La Roses!

I did something strange last Friday. Something i haven't done for a long time. Something if i'm being honest, i thought i'd never do again.

I got genuinely excited about going to see a band play a gig. 

Not any old band though and certainly not any old gig. The band in question is The Stone Roses.

So after the best part of an hour refreshing web pages whilst holding on the phone i managed to secure a couple of tickets for the resurrection of my generations version of The Beatles at Heaton Park in Manchester next year.

Carl Stanley did similar....here's his take on the events of last week. 

Rob H

The Stone Roses - Back And All Soul'd Out
The great ticket rush of Friday 21st for Stone Roses concerts was like nothing ever seen before, 220,000 tickets, all 3 days sold out in 68 minutes, the quickest in history for any UK band.

Everyone & their uncle must have had a go at 9.30 am that Friday morning, two phones on the go while manning the PC getting wound up by the minute & hammering the redial button, dreams were made & lost in side the first fifteen minutes of the tickets going on line.

The sheer joy of those who so luckily got through on the phone or PC for the chance to spend about £220  on four tickets could be seen on Facebook with posts like..."got mine!" which would of obviously pissed off the many while staring at their monitor screens with the phone welded to their ear only to hear that dreaded Ticket-Line recorded message everyone probably knows off by heart now,..the voice of that monotone voiced woman who provides the very polite but annoying..."sorry, due to a high demand these lines are busy, please try again later" message that I'm sure many had ringing in their head for hours after.
To be honest Ticket Master & co should of knocked up another message that went  "you know its never going to happen you fool!......but please try again later"

Some great stories about like one lucky lad who got through twice on the phone & ended up with EIGHT tickets for the Friday night suddenly found his ex, who apparently swore she'd never look at him again & was now in another relationship, at his door three hours after he'd told his mates he'd got them with, or a lad I know who was trying to get tickets on the phone & on line listening to the radio that had some kid who'd just won four VIP tickets in a competition he entered by mistake saying he might go or give em away, because he "wasn't really into them" & would of preferred Take That tickets, this lad got so wound up hearing this ungrateful kid on the radio while getting nowhere trying to get his own tickets he stood up and kicked his living room door and put his foot straight through it!...Maybe the lad on the radio, with the VIP tickets that he's not bothered about, could take him?

And then there's the press conference itself, which was great for loads of reasons, listening to Mani's 'Bernard Manning' deliveries, Ian giving it to the guy from The Mail, Reni for saying more to the press than he did in all his years with the Roses & John for simply showing up.
But most of all it was the announcement of new material, well maybe, but by the sound of it there seems to be a good chance of it happening: a world tour, new tunes (and hopefully some Squire art work to accompany it all) amounts to a full on come-back - could this be the true second coming for the band? The one they went out to do sixteen long years ago.
They looked and sounded like they really want it and have that fire in their bellies still, despite Reni's claims of being 'rusty' and that 'drummers should quit in their late thirties.
I don't think he would be doing this if he thought he couldn't, in fact I'm really looking forward to hearing him do his thing again, remember the early 90's when bands on the scene unashamedly jumped his style, or tried to; like Blur's "There's No Other Way" & The Mock Turtles "Can You Dig it". As well as those magic backing vocals on tracks like " Going Down" its a very welcome return for this talented musician, Joe Strummer said "any band is only as good as it's drummer", in that case the signs are looking great because The Roses have probably the finest drummer of the past 25 years.

When the band were doing press around the late 80's early 90's They'd say "hopefully people who come to see us will get into it and'll go home and do something them selves" it could have been a sly dig at the bands of the time going through a Stone Roses make-over but I really believe the band believed that ethos themselves.......and probably still do.  
That spirit would be one of the biggest things that could come out of all this, inspiring 'The Kids' again - like Liam was inspired to go out and put Oasis together after watching The Roses fronted by Ian Brown at the International one night back in 88. He said it changed his life and if last Friday's ticket stampede is anything to go by......he wasn't alone.

Viva La Roses!
Carl Stanley  - October 2011

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The B-Team - Reviewed by Carl Stanley

The B Team

Think Bash Street Kids planning a riot that includes a Laurel & Hardy combo and PC/Media savvy nutters who struggle to earn their football hooligan stripes, they are The B Team.
Put together by jonny Owen (Shameless,Svengali) and Pete Jones (Rob Brydon's brother) with Eddie Piller as "Old Vic", a fila wearing football yob mod, The B Team will have you creasing up as they desperately try to make the top 5 in the "Hoolie League" so they can join the elite and follow England, but at joint 12th with Barnet things arn't looking to good.
From getting their fixtures mixed up and accidently bumping into Millwall to losing their signals on their phones and not realising Cardiff City are right behind them.
Follow Jay, Dog, Big Les, Justin and Old Vic as they plot and scheme from their London pub...you've seen the teaser.... Episode 1 coming soon...narration by The IT Crowds Matt Berry..

Absolutely hilarious...as someone who could always find a mysterious pie stall, and lurk in it's queue whenever there was a big off in the air, I doff my dearstalker to the B-Team...' Irvine Welsh....

'Brilliant...Dads Army for Casuals'...James Brown Sabotage Times..

© Carl Stanley - April 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Just Say No by Carl Stanley

Drugs are for mugs. Or so they say. Usually those people who have never sampled them shout that the loudest and in all honesty they've probably got a point. 

Let's get it out in the open, i reckon there are far more of us who have sampled drugs on a recreational basis than we realise. Keeping it locked away as a dirty little secret. I know when i was younger i dabbled in coke, ecstasy, acid, speed, spliff, mushrooms and even ketamine a couple of times (makes me feel wobbly just thinking about it) but never became addicted and was always strong enough to know when to stop and get up for work the next morning and certainly always steered clear of a few old mates who were into smack. Some users aren't quite as lucky. 

Their drug dependency becomes all encompassing and a lifestyle of dark, piss stained bedsits, dodgy geezers and ducking and diving just to score a few quid for some gear starts to become the norm. As does watching friends keel over and overdose and even succumbing yourself.

Carl Stanley is one of those people. 99% clean now (come on, none of us are angels are we?) and prepared to share his story. Beware, it's not a Trainspotting style 'Hey Hey We're The Junkies!' type romp.....it's a work in progress that hopefully he'll keep people updated with that is dark, sad, sometimes funny and always gripping.........


Its safe to say anyone who either likes a spliff now and again or has a nasty rock habit will have a catalog of drug taking, selling, and buying stories that went wrong, we don't go to Tesco's to buy a bag of weed, get a receipt from a nice smiling lady on the till and be safe in the knowledge that no one was used or abused in the making of our shopping, in the name of drug activity we jump through hoops some times in order to partake.
Anyone who visits their local run down council estate to score (unless your living in it) or makes a B-line for the pub toilet for a sniff will always be at risk of everything going tits-up, whether its getting ripped off, getting caught with them and even worse losing the plot or going over, sad to say I have had the experience of both.

So keeping this in mind I have recalled a few low drug moments of my own,


Whether its some one your with who is doing your head in with incessant talking about pointless crap because they are off their trolley to having a bad turn or reaction to some thing you or some one snorted, smoked or at worst injected to actually being caught in the act, being sprung while trying to sort your self out, taking drugs can be a mission in its self.

Being one of the many idiots to join the idiot club (Heroin addiction) I have my own experiences of drug taking going very wrong.
Going over, overdosing or what ever you call it are literally heart stopping moments, I have overdosed my self and have also had people overdose in my home.
Regarding my self and going over, I came back to my home town after spending 4 months in Borrow in Furness working on the building of a Battle Ship the HMS Bulwark, working for the Ministry of Defence and having to sign the official secrets act as part of your contract making sure no one talks about what they do at work down the pub, I was either withdrawing or high running around this Battle ship getting lost on the different levels on a daily basis.
But I was mostly withdrawing as it was a town I struggled to score in on a daily basis in but I needed the money so toughed it out for 4 months.
Coming back home my tolerance to the Heroin was down, meaning because my habit had decreased I would really feel the effects of a normal hit of gear, and thats exactly what happened.

Basically I met up with a couple of other user mates and scored like normal, but even my mate said       "you alright with this, the gear is good and you haven't been using much" but being greedy and a typical junkie wanting to nod out I said its fine and lets get it on.
I hadn't been using needles long so my mate sorted that out and with in seconds I was back on the sofa watching the TV, apparently one of the lads said to my mate "your mate alright" and with that my mate shoved me, I just slumped to one side.
I was dragged to the floor and slapped about ,water thrown on me and stood up and walked, or dragged about the room, my mate sent a lad for an ambulance as we didn't have any credit between us but this lad was called back about 4 times as I would come around with my mate shouting " its alright Steve, Ive got him back" to me going blue again, stopping breathing and nodding out.

Obviously I was out for the count so I have to take my mates account for what happened next, there was a girl at the flat and she started putting her hands down my boxer shorts with my mate totally gone out at what was going on, he said he thought she was kinky like that, she was actually a prostitute and the reason she was trying to pull me off was to try and get blood flowing,..now I still don't know whether it made any fkn difference to my recoverery but I woke up to me lying in my mates arms while this scruffy bird is gripping my nob and wanking me off like my life depended on it, in fact thats why she did it, I was that fkd that I really didn't realize what she was doing but when I saw her hands down there and me in my mates arms I thought I was being taken advantage of,.. to this day when I see my mate (who is still on the gear) he gives me the wanker sign but I found out yrs later reading a magazine article that Janis Joplin, or a friend of hers started blowing this guy off back stage one night because he went over and it was claimed it revived him, who knows, Who cares.

I've also had to deal with some one going over in my flat a few years after this, I was in the same position, still a junkie and still in the same neighborhood .
One day I was just popping out my grubby little flat leaving a couple at my flat while I nipped out to see a man about a dog when this lad I know turns up asking me to score some crack for him, this lad wasn't a junkie but a drinker and enjoyed a rock now and again so would come to mine for me to sort it for him,  I told my mate who was flat sitting to look after this lad while I was out and when I get back I would get this guy, called Dave, some crack.

Well getting back to my flat coming through the door I was just in time to see this typically selfish junkie bastard cooking up some gear and telling Dave to get his sleeve rolled up. He had talked Dave into spending his money on Heroin because he wanted a taste him self,..."What the fk do you think your doing, he don't use pins dick head, He'll go over"
This fell on deaf ears as this guy who I left to look after Dave slapped his arm scouting for a vein to use, I walked in the kitchen, where shooting and smoking took place and saw the needle in his arm with, lets call him Mr Selfish, pushing the crap we call Heroin into his thick and healthy arms, with no track marks and a healthy glow to Dave's skin it instantly indicated he was not even a recreational user and his arm was virgin territory to dirty junkies injecting his veins with shit, the signs did not look good.

Dave feels the hit, moves to the living room and I tell Mr Selfish to watch him, so I'm having a piss and trying to get my head together after watching some thing very wrong when I hear the shriek of the girl who was with MR selfish so I run to my living room to see Dave flat out on the floor with Mr Selfish stood over him like the useless twat that he was, I go into "Oh Shit mode" and put Dave into the recovery position which is on his side and making his breathing easy, while slapping and again throwing water over him with mad dashes to the kitchen to fill the cups with water.
I shout at Mr Selfish to go and ring a ambulance and he duely excepts and flys out my front door, so I'm thinking "the medics on the way, keep him breathing" but about 30 seconds later the girl who was still there said " he will do what he did last time when this happened" ...what the fk are you talking about , I ask her..." last time we were some where and some one went over he did a runner, he hasn't gone to ring anyone, hes fkd off".
This is getting better...., I'm shouting and slapping Dave while telling her to "go to the phone, you ring em" so like Mr Selfish she is out the door, but this time I know I'm going have to do this so I shout for my up stairs neighborer and he is down stairs real quick with a phone, he told me later he was listening to it all and was to scared to come down, poor bastard.

Pleased to say I saw Dave months later and he told me the medics said  he owed me one, though it could of been all so different.


Touch wood I have never been caught with drugs by the Police, and these days I'm not likely to but I have ridden my luck in the past.
I have been bumped off with the odd bag of shit gear, bash...but it was the purchase of a nine bar of fine Moroccan solid that got me and some of my mates right in the shit, though again it could of been worse.

I went to Magaluf at 17 on the promise of a job painting villas and some where cheap to stay, I was on the dole and scrounged the air fare from my Dad (he bought me a 1 way ticket) but with 5 of us altogether out there, and 1 of the lads more or less a local due to growing up there for a bit and having family there I assumed it would be easy street.

After 2 weeks painting villas hung-over the novelty wore off, this led to the suggestion from my mate who knew the island and some of the people to buy a "nine-bar of Moroccan" make loads of deals out of it and punt it to the holiday makers busting for a smoke, we really should of kept painting them villas while throwing up hung over because it was still a better option compared to the mess we made.

on the 5th night of going out, splitting up and getting rid of our really small, piss take £10 deals of resin we got collared by two plain clothes police, they made it quite clear they were happy with them selves gripping us, we were took behind the night club where we were hanging out side of and in that 10 meter walk God knows how but I managed to get my hands in my pockets and discard the 5-6 deals in my pocket (Id sold the rest).

So I was alright but one of my mates copped it when one officer found a couple of deals in his pocket, straight away this lad tried to eat the evidence and got a slap and cuffed to a lamppost for his efforts, and while we were being turned over so was our apartment in which they pulled to bits and found another of the lads stash ( we did say "don't keep ya shit in the flat") it was a couple of ounce and they found more deals cut up, but he payed the price along with the other lad who tried eating his draw.
They were summand to the local bobby station to find out what their fate would be,....when they got back they looked glum and said they tried to play it stupid when asked "where you score, who" they said  "some guy in a night club" in which they were told they would either go back to the night club with 2 undercover bobbies that night to point these men out, or they would take the charge and not see their passports again, what an option, well that night they went to the night club and pretended to spot the phantom dope dealer, obviously they wen'rt going to finger anyone but they needed to play for time.

After 2 nights of this ordeal they were getting visions of "Midnight Express", I was down the road drinking in a bar thinking what my options were when my 2 friends turned up and said "were off", so we fled to Palma City for two 1 day passports for these 2 newly formed on the run petty drug dealers from the British Consulate. With those two now sorted for departure it was the airport next, and I would like to finish on some thing like we got a flight and made an easy get away, but we actually got on a flight that late that we only found out which UK airport we were actually landing at while flying, while in the air we had a game of guess the airport with the lad who booked it while we sorted out the luggage, he couldn't quite remember which airport it was we were landing so I went through all these airports with my mate saying "nope, not that one" to every airport I suggested until he said "I think it starts with an E", basically he didn't give a shit because he had just dashed a Spanish drug charge and would of taken a flight to Guantanamo Bay just to see the back of Magaluf.

The letter E has been quite influential in the past and the basis of many great nights but this time it represented the only airport I knew which started with an E, Exeter, considering we had about £1:50 between us and a few Spanish coins we were stranded in Exeter needing to be in Humberside, and to cap it off when we landed the customs chap pulled me and had me for a random drug search, by the way I was looking I don't think it was that random, they rubbed a tissue in my pockets to see if I had carried anything, the tissue would turn blue if I had been carrying anything with the chemical they use on the tissue reacting to the smallest of traces, I was very nicely told by one customs chap that "if it turns blue Mr Stanley it means you have been carrying drugs, there fore you will be arrested".

We all stood there watching this piece of tissue with baited breath, or rather mine was,.I was shitting my self while receiving evil looks from the German Alsatian sniffer dog, the color stayed white and I was waved on and as I walked off I had 1 thought only, I had made sure I placed enough smooth Spanish draw  in my mouth for a post flight spliff, which set me up for the 2 days travelling and thumbing it home as 1 by 1 people made there own way home.

Taking the piss
I have to include this, and I hope a Yorkshire bobby never reads this, in fact any bobby.

I was once in the back of a car in Sheffield taking night club supplements and all of a sudden the little metro I'm in is surrounded by police, we all panic and start putting stuff away, necking and crushing things. 
To my luck I was stuck in the back and in the middle, there were 5 in the car and all of em could be got at easy as they were next to windows but I had that little window of time to slip things into my mouth, a wrap of this and 2 of them wrapped up, so i was already feeling quite cocky before I even got out the car while the other lads were having things being found on them, I could hear shouts coming from the drug squad officer saying "watch him in the back, watch his arms" I was gripped, yet again by the plod.
But again the patron saint of lucky bastards was looking down on me and all my little treats were tucked away in places where they wouldn't go, if it came on top I would should swallow the shit down. So it was off to the police station and again theres a seating situation because there is not enough room for everyone to sit down in the police van for the trip to the plod-shop so I was given the floor and was tucked away in the corner, the only one who could see me was a mate who glanced at me like he was fkd, and he knew it, so you can imagine he was well pissed off with me when I thought I would have a little laugh by moving the little wrap of pills with my tongue to show my mate while he was hand cuffed to a bobby, if looks could kill and I was already thinking what I was doing as soon as I was out of the grip of the plod.

The one thing I did have and didn't want in my mouth was a lump of resin, it wasn't even that big but by now I was buzzing of all this shit melting in my mouth so I think fk it and as we are led into the station I drop the small piece of resin on the floor out side the doors, actually thinking " I'll be back for that", and back for it I did.
When I came out I was proper flying and really feeling like no one could fk with me, not even in a police station, I'm also very nice and polite when I'm off my head so the bobbies thought I was an alright lad who liked a chat, about anything.

I got outside the station and its dark, instead of walking on I start looking at the floor for this piece of dope, I know I shouldn't and didn't particularly want it but I knew it was on the floor and I knew I would like a spliff before bouncing into the club so I keep looking more intensively until two police officers walk past and inquire " you alright lad, you lost some thing", as I said, I was really pushing it so I say "yeah, I cant find my house key, I'm sure I dropped it here" one of the officers takes out his tourch and shines it about, next I have the other bobby looking as well, asking "are you sure it was here" when I glance and see this little piece of dope and realize I am taking the piss having Starskey and Hutch stake out the front doors to the station to find this 2 joint nugget, I swoop for the draw and in one full move pull a key out my pocket and say" what an idiot, it was here all the time, but thanks lads for your help, you've been great"


© Carl Stanley - Feb 2011

Monday, 31 January 2011

You Are Awful......But I Like you.

All normal social conventions tell us there are certain things in life that you should never ever admit to doing if you're a bloke. Things like sitting down when you go for a wee, trying on your wife's lipstick when she goes out, liking Glee, wearing flip-flops in winter or heaven forbid.....supporting Spurs! (you sick sick bastards)

Yet, sometimes it's nice to throw off the cloak of conformity, stick two fingers up to the haters and declare an abiding love for the things that other people find 'shit' or what the kids today would call 'well gay blud'.

So, to blow the froth from the top of this pint of fizzy mass produced lager I'm gonna give a selection of my own cringeworthy likes. I'm willing to take one for the team on this one and shrug off the accusations of being a 'gaylord' or a 'fucking idiot' and get the ball well and truly rolling.

Brothers, sisters, lets join together hand in hand, puff our chests out and revel in the things that other people despise. Because haters gonna hate....

Russell Brand

Amongst many people this long haired, foppish, Oscar Wilde quoting, Katy Perry smashing (respect to my bredrin Richard Keys for making that fashionable again) dandy is about as popular as a a fart in a wetsuit. Well i reckon those people are wrong. Very wrong. His stand-up shows are as sharp as a carving knife and beautifully observed if you can get past his obscenely tight trousers and daft voluminous tramps hair. His Radio 2 show (before he got caught up in that media created storm) was equally as good too. Even his acting roles in the few big budget films, even though he's essentially playing himself, have been pretty engaging performances.

Yes it's easy to dismiss him as a cartoon character and a bit of a prick who 'talks funny' and he does look like an old wino but be honest now, how many of you blokes reading this would like to be him eh? Yeah.....thought so.


Yes, I've gone there.

'Surely it's only watched by angst ridden teenagers?'

Nope. It's watched by blokes in their mid thirties who dig the writing, the acting and most of all the soundtrack. Dark and funny in equal parts, it's probably the most subversive television programme of modern times and long may it continue to be so.


'sum ppl are bluddy bstards!!'

'wassup hun? u okay? stay strong! luv u xoxoxo'

'don't wanna talk abt it innit!'

Once you blank out the attention whores and idiots Facebook is actually fantastic. There's nothing better than cracking open the beer on a Friday evening and systematically clogging up people's news feeds with YouTube clips of rare Style Council tracks or Chelsea goals from the 80s. 


A gang of fellas pissing about while they do up  peoples houses? What's not to like?

Level 42

"I’m one of the leading exponents of the jazz-funk movement. I’m the slap bass president for God’s sake! Ohhh yeah, it used to be Mark King, but we had a thumb duel. And I smashed ‘im into the ground like a blonde tent peg. “Get back to Level 42, and go about your business!"

Star Child, Love Games, The Chinese Way, The Sun Goes Down, Something About You, Running In The Family.....the list goes on. 
Jazzfunk wasn't just for the Wayne's and Kevin's cruising round Basildon or Chelmsford in their RS Cosworth's. It was for all of us.......probably.

Big Brother

If ever there was a TV programme it was fashionable to hate it was Big Brother. Some people couldn't even tell you why they hated it....they just did.

Yet didn't watching the procession of idiots, performing seals, socially inept, semi retarded, feckless wannabe's make us ALL feel better about ourselves? Of course it did. For no matter how rubbish we felt about ourselves at least we weren't Preston from the fucking Ordinary Boys.

Kings Of Leon

"oh yah i like, seriously, hate Kings Of Leon these days!. They've like, totally sold out now they're mega rich from playing huge stadium gigs and having multi platinum selling albums. They were so much better when Caleb was a lank haired, bearded, gak addled mess when they released their first album."

We all know this person don't we? We all think this person is a tedious, self-righteous mug don't we? We don't mind a spot of balls out stadium rock now and again do we?

It's only rock n roll........but we like it.


There's nothing wrong with nice gentle comedy. It doesn't always have to be jokes about 'paedo's, rape, murder or abduction', unless you're Frankie Boyle of course.

I like a spot of knockabout clowning and Miranda Hart is absolutely superb at what she does. She reminds me of Norman Wisdom in the true sense of being a proper 'clown'. It's an art form.

What i enjoy most about 'Miranda' though is sitting watching my wife watch it. She's not bothered about subtlety in the writing or biting social comment when she watches comedy. She wants to laugh.........and Jesus Wept does she! Watching it through her eyes doubles the enjoyment.

Toby Carvery

Beloved eatery of the Irish Traveller, the single mum with the screaming kids 'ritalined' up to their eyeballs and doddery old couples nationwide, you could be mistaken for thinking this was a place to be avoided at all costs.

But no...

Plate in hand, the anticipation as you queue for a couple of slices of "all three please mate" is exquisite. Help yourself to a skip full of roast spuds, too much cauliflower cheese, a ton of carrots and brussels and one of those whopping great Yorkshire Puds and you've got yourself some good eating for less than the same ingredients to make your own roast dinner would cost at Sainsburys.

Take my advice and treat yourself.

(probably best to go on a Monday evening to avoid the Travellers though and also probably best not to go to the one in Langley, Berks......it smells funny)


So there you go. I've laid myself bare to the reader with an insight into all things supposedly 'shitty' that i quite like. I'm pretty sure there aren't many other thirty seven year old married men out there who would publicly declare their love for Russell Brand or Miranda Hart but i don't care. If something is good then it's good. You could call these guilty pleasures, but i don't feel any sense of guilt for liking them.

Stop worrying about being cool and start declaring your love for all things 'uncool', although i will still despise Glee with every fibre of my being.

I await the deluge of abuse that is inevitably coming my way.

Rob H

Monday, 24 January 2011

Sounds From The Seaside.

Amongst the faded Victorian grandeur of Brighton something is stirring....

Amongst the ear splitting noise of a hundred bands and their trademark ironic tinny electronica sound. Amongst the grey drudgery of yet another thrash metal band who wouldn't know a melody if it tapped them on the shoulder and introduced itself to them saying -  "hello, I'm a melody".
Amongst the clubs and bars playing The Who and The Jam to middle aged Mods who have parked their scooters outside for the day trippers to photograph and yearn for 1965 again.

Amongst all this there is a band emerging who grasp the concept of the 'song'. A band who understand how to hit the listener with melodies and hooks. A band who understand that the only way to become truly great is to play live. A band with a front man who is one part Liam Gallagher, one part Johnny Cash and two parts George Best and who brings a dash of West London style to proceedings. A band who pay no attention to what some spotty, fresh out of college journo from the NME says is this weeks 'must listen'. 

This band have Fire & Skill. This band is Sun Of Souls. 

I've known front man Pete Jones for a long while now. I even used to manage one of his old bands Model Citizens, who split mainly because of a smack head bass player, a lead guitarist with stage fright and a difference of opinion over whether they wanted to be The Libertines or Buffalo Springfield....but that's a different story for a different day.
I've always been a staunch believer in Pete. He's always had a passion in his belly for making music and even when various incarnations of bands he's been in have imploded he's never lost that fire in his gut. Band split up? Pete would say "fuck it I'll go and do some solo acoustic gigs." There are a million bands and artists out there today who would do well to summon up just an ounce of Pete's belief. If you've got a tale to tell, a message to share or a song to sing then get off your arse and do it!

Hard work kids.....it's the only way.

So, on hearing that Sun Of Souls had finally been signed i thought I'd speak to Pete and check out how the land lies for 2011....

Sun Of Souls then, can you give us a brief rundown on what you're all about?

Sun of souls are about making good music that don't just appeal to one audience, it's about turning someone on to something they can relate to. A voice for the Everyman..... 

Nice. Music for the people by the people. 

A bit of a history lesson for the reader, how did the four of you arrive at this point together? Previous bands etc?

Me & Nick are the founding members. We played in a band together here in Brighton called The Black Flowers, it was an average band but the songs weren't particularly strong, so we left it and started writing songs for six months on our own in my basement flat. Nick then brought his mate Gareth "George" down the studio to help out on bass until we found someone... we hunted high and low for a bassist, but no one wants to be just a bassist and sit in the corner with four strings. So Nick decided the best thing to do was to play it himself, which left the spot open for a lead guitarist which George fitted nicely into, which worked well as both of them are great guitarists. Sometimes it's like you've got two leads except one of them is playing it on a bass... All that was then left to do was to find a drummer, someone who could hold a beat, yet fill out the song when required... So we started calling all our old drummers we knew from different bands, auditioning new ones... But it just didn't feel right... Except for this one kid that just kept popping up, we played with him in The Black Flowers for a while, then he left only to return and leave a further THREE times before we finally nailed him down now he's in and in for good, The job was always his, enter Phil...

So seeing as you've just been signed by a decent indie label what is the plan of action for this year?

Gig, gig, gig and then gig some more. We've got shows lined up until May, with promo bits and bobs in between and radio shows and reviews coming up over this next month, which will be to plug the first single launch due for the 1st of March the track is called Given The Chance and then keeping up the buzz with a second shortly after at some point in April which is also being launched on an EP produced by the label.... By the end of summer we are looking to finalise dates for a UK tour.... And in between all of that writing and recording more songs...

And the grand masterplan? World domination and a complete escape from the day to day drudgery? Or just making music that you like and sod the world?

Its all about writing tunes for yourself to start with, because you never want to  write a tune that you think is shit. If you don't like it then no-one else will... All you can do is hope that what comes out at the end and played live is well received...

Lets go back in time. Early days, what first turned you onto music and wanting to make it yourself?

Oh God, what turned me on... Well my very first memory of music was sitting on the front room floor in front of a Hitachi three speed record player, you know the full stack with the double tape decks, the lot... It was mega... And putting on some big old bins on my ears and sticking on the old mans vinyls of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Leadbelly... It wasn't until around '97 though until I really worked out I wanted to be a musician... For me that was the best year for music. Oasis released Be Here Now, such an underrated album when it came out. The Verve had Urban Hymns, Prodigy had Fat Of The Land... I was just discovering life that summer going out getting pissed and what ever else and all I knew I wanted to do was to be in a band for the rest of my life, nothing else made sense to me back then.

So who would you say are your musical influences or icons either past or present. What music always flicks your switch?

If you said the name 'Gallagher' most people would answer, what Noel? But for me it's always been Liam... He's a fucking legend, he looks cool, he is cool... But keeping to my roots Johnny Cash is also an icon for me. The bloke is like gold to my ears, there's something hypnotic about his vocals... But others that I'd never leave off my iPod are... Bowie / The Stones / The Kinks / The Small Faces / Rod Stewart / The Doors / Pink Floyd / Stereophonics... And to obviously save the best until last... The Beatles, you can't top their work, no one can, they are almost God-like... Gotta say on that point though have you heard the new Beady Eye b-side to Four Letter word its called World Outside My Room and it's epic.... I'm digging that at the moment, I'm wearing the needle out on my record player at home on that one!

On the flipside of that musical coin, what bands / artists aren't you digging? 

I couldn't tell you band names because i don't pay enough attention to them but its the generic soulless, faceless indie pop... It's grates my teeth, kids in tight jeans pulled down below their arse, in bright coloured t-shirts and a cap jumping up and down, with spiky guitar sounds and loads of synths... Why the fuck have you got a synth player in your band??  It's a lazy fucking piano players job... Jog on. Enough said.

That sort of contrived shit is enough to almost make me hate music. So what are your views on the state of the music industry in general today?

Well I don't think it's screwed like most would have you believe, it's just different from ten or fifteen years ago. The sooner people realise technology has moved on and you have to start looking at selling records in other ways the better... For example give your CD away for free at gigs, I know I'd go to more gigs and pay the ticket price if I was getting the hard copy of the CD in your hand for free or a couple of quid or whatever, you know what I mean?

Anything that gives the paying punter value for his hard earned money has to be applauded. 

Any advice for kids starting out in bands nowadays?

Yeah, always make sure you have a laugh doing it and don't take yourself too seriously. Leave that to someone else to deal with... whatever way you look at it its all just luck of the draw anyway.

Absolutely, there are more decent bands that fail than make it. 

Would you like to leave a message for the masses? A Sun Of Souls manifesto if you like....

Cheers for all the support so far to new and old friends but keep on keeping on because the band is nothing without anyone to play to.

Peace & love.

From small acorns mighty oaks do grow. If anyone deserves to be fronting a 'mighty oak' of a band then it's Pete Jones. Catch this lot while you can.

Upcoming Gigs:

19/02/2011- Hoxton Cell, Hoxton

25/02/2011- The Hydrant, Brighton

18/03/2011- The Roadtrip, London

25/03/2011- Prince Albert, Brighton

08/04/2011-  229, London

24/04/2011- Purple Turtle, Camden, London

Pictures by The Brighton & Hove Studio Ltd/www.thebhstudio.com 07792308722

Friday, 21 January 2011

Carl Stanley Interviews Svengali's Jonathan Owen.

Just as music artists today are learning to create, self fund and release their material via the internet, so are TV and filmakers. One such person who has grasped this medium is Jonathan Owen who co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the excellent 'Svengali' series that was released via Youtube, Myspace and iTunes.

I suggest you all get on this if you haven't already because if you can get past Alan McGee's shocking headwear you'll find one of the wittiest and well written comedies of the past few years. 

Carl Stanley one of the sharpest writers around today interviewed Jonathan Owen recently and re-produced below is that interview in full.....

What's the score with you then Jonathan, how did you get the part of Dixie in "Svengali", what have we seen you in before...?

Well I co-created it with Dean Cavanagh one rainy night in Soho. We were in a bar chatting and Dean said we should do something about a Manager of a band. And I christened him Dixie (after the manager of my old band) who was a great guy...still is! and we decided it should be one man's journey in trying to get his band signed in the murky world of the Music business...which is currently in a complete state of flux as the internet destroys the traditional industry. The irony of course being that we are using this very medium to go out!! ha.

I've done a few things. Films like Little White Lies (Which is currently winning the Amazon International Film Competition) and 'A bit of Tom Jones' (That's the biggest grossing Welsh Indie Film ever and recently won the Welsh Bafta for best film). I was the lead in those..I've also done lots of TV from My Family to Being Human to Torchwood. I'm most well known though from 'Shameless' and I recently finished filming opposite Minnie Driver in 'Hunky Dory'.

What's the story behind "Svengali", there's some great names in their but who wrote it and put together, is the idea based on actual person, if so who...?

As I explained earlier it was Dean Cavanagh and myself. Dean is Irvine Welsh's writing partner. We also got our old mate and the Director Phil John on board. He'd done Ashes to Ashes and Wedding Belles among others so it was a good team. It's loosely based on Paul 'Dixie' Dixon, the old manager of my band 'The Pocket Devils'. A beautiful spirit who just never took no for an answer and was permanently positive. There ain't many people like that in the world so we thought it would be ripe for that kind of person in the Music World only this time we can make it want we want. That's the magic of Svengali..is we control it! ha. We can make them the biggest band in the world. 

You have just finished series 9 and I for one am looking forward to it,..who's in this series..?

I got Eddie Webber from 'The Firm'..Paul Gallgher, James Endecott, Lena Corner, Jamie Fullerton and Tim Lovejoy. It's all based on a true story...supplied again by the real Dixie. It's an hilarious ending and I wanted a real 'Cockney Villain' type and there's no one better than Eddie for that..he's the best out there. It all takes place in Acid Jazz offices with the wonderful and ever young Eddie Piller looking after us all. 

The story of Dixie, This Welsh boy from the valleys who goes to the big smoke looking for his fame and glory in the music industry is one that is played out on a daily basis in the Capital,...I suspect many in the industry identify with it, have you in real life been through the same situations as Dixie has, do you identify with the character....?

I do..it's an age old story isn't it. The modern day Dick Whittington. Even a touch of the Don Quixote in there too. I think it's fair to say that London is still the Worlds Capital of Rock and Roll. The 'set' is London itself...very much like LA is the set for Entourage. So I've been keen to use the streets of Soho and Shoreditch so that kids across the world can see London. The thing with Dixie is that he kind of kills them with kindness. Naturally, Svengali has been the most popular among the Music Industry..I dont think there's anyone from that world who hasnt mentioned it to me and they all love him, because we were all that guy who just was in it for the love of music once. He's that kid we all once were who would tape John Peel or the chart show or queue up for the NME...And god bless him for it too..

How has "Svengali", the series,.. been so successful in getting the likes of, Carl Baret, Boy George, and of course Alan Mcgee involved, was this a case of these people loving the project and wanting to be involved, plus its all filmed round the west end so its not like you have had to drag them to some mad location, I suppose that helps...?

I just asked them all to be honest and ever since we've had a 100% hit rate. Which is important..I didnt just want anyone, they had to be right. Some have actually approached us and that's great. Boy George for example was taking some photo's for a Charity, and they asked me and he was talking about Svengali and I just said...'Would you like to be in it George?' and he laughed and went...'I thought you'd never ask!' haha..He was great on set too. I'd never been with anyone of that level of fame too. Martin Freeman (who filmed that Episode and has become a close mate was on about it too)...George is so ridiculously recognisable...probably one of the most recognisable people on the planet and even in London literally EVERYONE stopped and shook his hand or gave him a kiss. This was while we were having a ciggie outside 'Fopp' in Cambridge Circus. And he'd be talking and practically every person either shouted hello or asked for a photo..and he took it all in his stride. And I thought after, he's been that famous for decades now. And it must be just like breathing, the way you react to people on the street. He was brilliant I have to say.

 I'm also guessing the out takes are quite funny, what's it like when Maggot or Bonehead struggle remembering their lines, was there plenty of "Tom foolery" going on..and which artist surprised you with there acting talents,..Alan Mcgee seemed really comfortable delivering his lines, has "Svengali" given any of them the wanting for more of the screen....?

Well it's very difficult to get those kinds of people to learn lines!! haha...so I just tell them there's going to be a certain situation (Like I'll try and give you a tape) and then I'll act off them. Some it is improvised, and I'm a huge fan of Curb so you've got to be on your toes and there's lots of takes. The best stuff is usually off the cuff although Dean does a great basic script. All of Ep 3 for instance is improved, where a Ep 1 is all script. So we can move it around how we want. The latest is about half and half. Broadcasters are obviously scared of this kind of work as they like it rehearsed to death (often over rehearsed) but the actors absolutely love it, I think because it's so different to what they usually do. Alan McGee is a joy to work with. The blokes a born natural. He's better than most actors I work with.

Plus names like Martin freeman, it must of been great to work with such actors...?

Martin Freeman is one of the coolest people I've ever got to know. His music and fashion sense it perfect and I was very very keen to get him involved. I was lucky enough to have a good mutual friend (Paolo Hewitt) and he got him the series and he loved it. We met in Wagamamma's in Soho and spoke for hours about music, film and fashion, it was pretty obvious we were kindred spirits in that world and of a similar age. I was delighted when he said he wanted to do it as I was a massive fan and he was great to have on set. He's also fiercely intelligent and really brought that to the part. I was delighted he got the Jackson film. Other actors like Matt Berry, Michelle Gomez and Ciaran Griffiths are close friends and I just asked them if they'd like to do it and they all said they'd love too. It was about creating a Svengali family really. Sally Phillips was another. Just great fun to have around and brought so much to the part. It's been my favourite thing about it all, seeing great actors really take on the part. Matt, South African, Ciaran Mancunian Jew and Michelle as the company boss. I also have to remember my co-star Roger Evans as Horsey, without whom there would be no Svengali, he's that important and many people's favourite character.

 I have to ask, since "Svengali" have you been hounded by any "Dixie's" looking to break into the industry, you do realise you will now be seen as the patron saint of " Industry lost causes" yet Dixie's grit and blind faith is quite commendable, Mcgee actually says in the last series about Dixie " He's relentless, I reckon he'll make it", and though it was in jest there are a lot of positives about Dixie's character, wouldn't you say...?

Haha! Well.........the honest answer is yes. Lots of people email, send tapes and often say...I'll keep nagging like Dixie...what can I say to that? In Soho especially people often shout 'Alright Dix?' which is quite funny. I think it's pretty big among the 'meejha!' as they say. I try to listen to everything people send and I reply to actors, photographers, bands all the people who get in touch. I wish I could employ them all!! But I cant alas...Otherwise I'd be like Beatles Apple..;)

So what little ditties have you got from filming "Svengali", what about trying to film as I can imagine plenty of by standers in the West End doing a "Dixie" half way through a scene to ask for an autograph while you were trying to film, what's the funniest thing that happened on set, off camera that is..?

There's a huge group on Facebook who are pretty fanatical. We do little comps offering the bag he carries and the t-shirt and stuff. We got lots coming along to shoots so it becomes like Theatre really. I also INSIST there's beer on set and a major party afterwards. I mean we're doing something about Rock and Roll so the least we can do is try. It tends to be a bit boisterous but that's the point isn't it? Svengali is meant to be something new and different, a child of a new medium 'the Internet'. So we're basically making this up as we go along..which is great but it means that sometimes you're thinking 'fuck me, we'd better strap ourselves in here' when we're filming in the street without any permission and with people flying around. But do you know what? I'll be old one day and I wont have the guts or energy to do it, so while I'm still young enough I'll take the chance.

Funny story? Yes, we were filming a scene with Boy George and Martin Freeman in Fopp and the store was open (we couldn't afford to ask them to shut it) and this guy goes..'Do you mind!! I'm trying to get to the Jazz section..so we had to wait while he picked his way through Miles Davies'...me, Martin Freeman and Boy George all standing there waiting for this grumpy fuckin Nick Hornby lookalike to finish browsing....wouldn't get that on anything else I can tell ya!! Ha.

Where next after this series for "Svengali", and what's next for your self, will we be seeing more of you now in new projects..?

I'm doing a Rachel Trezise play in Cardiff that starts next week..and then there'll be Svengali the movie...watch this space..;) 

Interview reproduced by Kind Permission of Carl Stanley 21/01/2011

Rob H

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Modernism: A New Decade?

mod·ern·ism -

a. Modern thought, character, or practice.
b. Sympathy with or conformity to modern ideas, practices, or standards

'often Modernism The deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression that distinguish many styles in the arts and literature of the 20th century.'

'Modernism. Clean living under difficult circumstances.' - The oft chanted mantra repeated monotonously by your friendly local Austin Powers lookalike as he minces down the street with his feather cut and winkle pickers looking like an overblown extra from Blow Up.

Yeah baby!

Well no actually. Let me explain.

'Mod' has always been a strange paradox to me. For a 'scene' (Jesus i hate that term) that likes to think of itself as cutting edge and forward looking it has always struck me as being firmly rooted in the past for it's inspirations and culture. From it's 'look', to its music, to it's heroes and icons and more or less its whole ethos.

Maybe it's time the movement took a look at itself in 2011 and decides where it goes from here.

Of course back in the late 50's into the mid 60's working class kids using their new found money to seek out the latest jazz and R&B records or hunting down the sharpest threads was quite obviously a new, forward looking phenomenon. It was continuously evolving and outsiders looked in on these kids with suspicion and probably no little fear because much of what made this movement tick was brand new to a lot of eyes. These newly unleashed teenagers living for cheap thrills on amphetamines whilst riding around on Italian scooters must have been a hell of a shock for the establishment to deal with in what was a pretty grey and drab post war Britain. These kids had money to burn and burn it they did and from it a proper working class cult was born.

Skip forward 50 years and where does 'Mod' find itself today? Well in essence no further evolved than it was during it's heyday or it's underrated revival in the late 70s - where incidentally the music was as sharp as anything that had preceded it back in the 60s - and that to me is a shame. The 'look' has barely moved on, with the classic parka / Fred Perry / desert boot / 501 / feather cut / sideburns / RayBan's being sported up and down the high streets and clubs the length and breadth of Britain. Yes, it's a completely 100% bonafide classic look (which even i thieve parts from like a greedy magpie) but it begs the question that if you have to look back fifty years for inspiration does it make you a 'mod' in the truest sense of the term? Surely for a 'scene' to be sharp and revolutionary and cutting edge it has to keep evolving, but as i see it 'mod' is firmly stuck in the past. "Oh no no no no! If you're a mod you can't listen to dubstep or house music! You have to listen to Green Onions or Itchycoo Park on repeat to be considered one of us!" Progressive, inclusive and evolving? Can't see it myself.

It's still a marketing mans dream though. Take Liam Gallagher and his Pretty Green label for instance. Nice looking clobber, very smart actually, but are Tootal style silk scarves (£95 by the way), a Clarke's desert boot copy (£90 by the way) and velvet pea coats (£480 by the way) 'mod'? Because that's the target demographic the range is aimed at surely? Would anyone call Liam a mod too? If it earned the fella a few extra quid then I'm pretty sure there's a team of executives and advisers alongside 'Team Liam' who are more than happy for him to be branded a mod because he's reinvented a fifty year old fashion and nabbed himself a Carnaby Street boutique. I remember going to Oasis gigs when i was younger and Liam looked cool as fuck in his Stone Island, Chipie and Gazelles and not a sign of wanting to look like the bastard offspring of Paul Weller and Long John Baldry. Yet have you ever heard him profess his love for Northern Soul, Reggae, Ska, Stax, Chess, Motown, Bluenote, Steve McQueen, Alfie, John Coltrane, American Preppy fashion, The Small Faces, The Yardbirds, Secret Affair, The Chords, Squire or a million and one other mod icons in any of his interviews? No. He likes The Beatles though. Which is nice.

Notable exceptions to the rule are the likes of Eddie Piller, Paul Weller, John Hellier, Keb Darge etc who always seem to be doing something fresh and exciting. Yes they keep a foot firmly planted in the past but have never been scared to innovate and try new things that would be seen as being outside the spectrum of being a mod. Try getting your local Austin Powers lookalike to listen to some Krautrock or Chicago House and see the reaction you get.

And now for the controversial bit....

Football casuals are the new mods. There I've said it.

A massive movement of people all bonded by a common love of football, fashion and music. They have and will always be on a constant quest for the sharpest and newest labels that they can sport on the terraces. It's a constant battle for one-upmanship over their peers. You turn up one week wearing a rare Fjall Raven jacket you can guarantee your mate will arrive the following week wearing the newest MA Strum coat to try and blow you out of the water. Yes, like the mod movement it has it's classic staple items like the Adidas trainer, the Stone Island patch, the Lacoste polo or the Aquascutum scarf but it also has strange stuff like Ellesse bodywarmers, deerstalker hats and waxed Barbour jackets.

Also the music is from a far broader palette. Soul, reggae, funk, mod revival, punk, new wave, pop, indie, two-tone, acid jazz and house music are all linked directly or indirectly to the casual movement. Instead of hunting down old 60s vinyl to reminisce over there are lads out there who actively seek out the latest, most cutting edge house records, which i find very impressive.

And.......they still manage to keep the Old Bill on their toes.

I never meant this article to be a hatchet job on a movement i hold very dear to my heart. I will always love the music and the look just as i always will the skinhead movement or the casual movement which i see as natural extensions of mod anyway. I just wanted to highlight that somewhere along the line 'mod' became corrupted by copyists, marketing men and Luddites and that putting a man in a Fred Perry and a pair of bowling shoes does not make him a mod.

Anyway, we all know that the 'Emo' is the only true youth cult out there today.

As ever Keep The Faith and massive respect to all those who still live the life they love.

Rob H