Under the influence: Girls in Synthesis

“There is no time for sentimental nostalgia .. we might not make tomorrow,” say Girls in Synthesis on their last single, and you can’t help thinking that they might have a point.

This is a band who sincerely believe in just battering the shit out of their instruments and, by extension, any audience lucky enough to be in their vicinity at the time. In many ways, this is the only rational response to a world that currently seems to be on as long, extended, slow-mo nosedive into a cesspit of lies, hatred and bullshit of its own making.

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Gad Whip Euro promo mix

IT’S a couple of days before I embark on a week of gigs as the actual tour DJ for my very good friends Gad Whip, promoting their Post-Internet Blues long playing-record around Germany and Switzerland, and I’m so excited I could spit.

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Shop Assistants

THE SHOP ASSISTANTS tend to get lumped in with all the jingly-jangly stuff that made up most of the NME’s C86 cassette, but they just sound very punk rock to me. All of my Shop Assistants records went west a long time ago but we do have this short Q&A from 1986. Singer Alex answered the questions.

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The Ex

EVERYONE was on tour in the States and I was staying at Southview House on my own. Alice and Dan were playing stadiums gigs for MTV with Aerosmith and I was working in Belle Isle. But at least I got to hang out with Derek the dog.

IMG_1596One morning, hungover as hell, I stumble out of my basement bedroom and head upstairs.

I discover the Ex cheerfully bouncing around the kitchen with what I have come to understand is their customary enthusiasm and vigour, laughing and joking with each other in high-volume Dutch while frying cheese and mushrooms with abandon.

The people in Chumbawamba and the Ex had been friends for years – in fact Coby did the live sound for the Ex before she moved to Leeds and began working with the Chumbas – and they’d let themselves in after playing a local gig somewhere the night before. It was that kind of house.

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Five x Ministry of Shite dancefloor classics

A LOAD of us went down to the Ministry at some point in the mid 90s and, despite hearing some great music, we were not particularly impressed by the distinct lack of atmosphere compared to clubs such as Kaos, Basics and Hard Times in Leeds. There just wasn’t the same kind of energy and enthusiasm.

A few weeks later, me and Earnshaw DJed at a party at a mate’s house and someone did some jokey flyers saying we were residents at the Ministry of Shite. We ended up keeping the name when we started putting on parties ourselves.

It was all a bit rough and ready, but we had a run of great parties over three or four years at an old mansion house at the Weetwood end of Headingley in Leeds, with perhaps two or three hundred people coming through the door during the night, generally ending around 6am with no bother from the cops.

We played a lot of new US garage and vocal house but we also threw in old acid, techno, hardcore and hip house at key moments to ensure everything remained suitably blurry and twisted out of shape.

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Damo Suzuki meets Imperial Wax at the White Hotel

LOCATED in one of those patches of bleak post-industrial wasteland that Manchester used to do so well before all the foreign money arrived, the White Hotel is sort of white but it’s certainly not a hotel. The bar, with staff serving drinks from a sunken inspection pit, seems to indicate a former life as a garage. A dodgy garage, knocking out fake MOTs, no doubt.

It’s just over the other side of Bury New Road from HMP Manchester, in the area of Manchester that once gave the prison its name. They like their evocative place names in Manchester, and this is about as Manchester as it gets. Even if we are in Salford.

Strangeways indeed.

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UV Pop

I MET John White aka UV Pop when I bunked off sixth form and went over to Doncaster with some girl I was seeing at the time to interview Marcus Featherby about his label, Pax. I’d come into contact with Marcus through the punk gigs he promoted at the Marples in Sheffield. I’d never met anyone quite like either of them before.

At the time, Marcus was staying at John’s two-up-two-down in Bentley. My most vivid memory is the heating not being on, despite it being a very cold Yorkshire winter, but then again, I was still living with my parents, and didn’t have to worry about paying for leccy. And I think my girlfriend was much more impressed with both John and Marcus than she was with me.

Marcus gave me a copy of the debut, Cabs-produced UV Pop single, and I was impressed enough to interview John for my fanzine. I have no clue whether we did the interview in person or through the post.

People being vegetarian seemed to be really important to me at the time (I’d gone veggie about six months earlier, so I had the conviction of the convert), and I had yet to work out the world was coloured in various shades of grey rather than the black and white certainty I so clearly craved.

I’d like to say my interview technique is more subtle and nuanced these days but it really isn’t.

I can’t find any activity for UV Pop (who eventually became a proper band despite John’s reservations), beyond 2012, but I hope John is still making music.

***

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