Very Friendly

Here’s some photographs I took of my friends’ band Very Friendly (an EP and hopefully album coming later this year) For a while we had intended to take some promo shots with a miserable day at the beach theme, and then the beach was suddenly covered in thick snow, so this happened over a lunch break. Harry eventually got warm again. Eventually.

Editing the photos was actually quite tricky. I took around a hundred, but with the snow flying around there were a lot with closed eyes or grimaces, and colour correction took a light hand. You have snow, water and skin, and you have to balance atmosphere with realistic skin tones.

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So I recently did some artwork for an album cover- Human Ruins by Dawnwalker (featuring Dane Cross from Sacred Son, who caused an incredible fuss last with the Black Metal fanboys with his choice of album artwork) . I did the moons and runes, and someone else did the photograph and logo. Photos courtesy of Mark from the band.

Hear a track:

January Playlist

The second half of January has been a bad time for me, with a lot of very difficult things to deal with. I’ve been low on energy for doing anything much creative. Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been listening to lately though.


1) Queen of Borrowed Light- Wolves in the Throne Room

I was really disappointed with the most recent Wolves in the Throne Room album. I mean I guess it’s nice that they stopped trying to be a pale copy of Brian Eno, but the new stuff was really generic. Enjoy this instead.

2) Mouth Breather- Jesus Lizard

This song is about Britt Walford from Slint. He might be great at drums and songwriting, but don’t let him mind your house. There will be plumbing incidents.

3) I Am Living Death- Institute

Great new punk/post-punk from Texas.

4) Real World- Hüsker Dü

Great old punk from Minnesota. RIP Grant Hart.

5) Cross the Breeze- Sonic Youth

6) Закрой за мной дверь (Zakroy za mnoy dver’ / Close the door behind me) – Kino

This song from the 80s is incredibly well-known in Russia. Viktor Tsoi is kind of their Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain rolled into one. In the early 80s he was repressed for his music- they had stopped sending people to the Gulag or falsely imprisoning them in mental institutions, but if you did anything to displease the authorities suddenly you would lose your university place and your job applications would always be unsuccessful. Tsoi was kicked out of art school and given a job as janitor of his own block of flats for lyrics like “well this train isn’t going anywhere anyone wants to go” and continually pushing the very tight limits of what was allowed in public performance. By the late 80s under Gorbachev he was allowed to get away with lyrics demanding outright political change and became hugely successful in the USSR, but then died in a road accident less than a year after the Berlin Wall came down. You can see the lyrics in Russian & English here.

7) Abschied (farewell)- Nico

Nico on the other hand was a deeply unpleasant person, even if I enjoy her music. I’ve never really understood why people call the Marble Index “unlistenable” or an “ordeal”. It’s quite a soothing album really. I like the baroque style of this song- which extends to the lyrics, full of old-fashioned literary words like harren and verzehren. The words and translation are here.

8) Master Song- Leonard Cohen

I listened to Leonard Cohen non-stop when I lived in Budapest, and it fits the city and its atmosphere pretty well. I miss Hungary a lot, but no way could I live there under the current far-right (and increasingly actually fascist) government. The sooner Viktor Orbán is out the better.

9) Translate- Suuns

The soundtrack to walking over frozen rivers in the Czech Republic last year

10) Oh Yeah- Can

11) Pig- Sparklehorse

It’s still sad what happened to Mark Linkous.

12) Corpse Pose- Unwound

13) Night Goat- Melvins

14) Chromakey Dreamcoat- Boards of Canada

15) Etna- Sunn O)) & Boris

Around the Winter Solstice I always seem to want to listen to nothing but Sunn O)) and Earth. Let your ears take a soothing bath.

16) I Troldskog Faren Vild- Ulver

I like Ulver but am also aware that they are in some (many?) ways cheesy. The lyrics on this album are in Ye Olde Fairy Tale Norwegian and are actually pretty ridiculous (but let’s let them off, they were teenagers when they did this album). Enjoy them here.

Domestic Abuse Support All-dayer fundraising gig

(Tuli from Gang)

I recently went to a local gig put on by Art’s Cool raising money for the local domestic abuse support charity. It was an all-dayer, with half the lineup being local Kent bands, and the other half being from Leeds. The next day they did it all again, but in Leeds, and raising money for an education charity there. I missed the first band, but they were kind of a supergroup made up of members from the different Leeds bands. The promoter also handily made this Spotify playlist of all the bands.


The lighting was a bit difficult, being mostly magenta and strongly focused on one side of the stage. How easy it was to photograph the band members depended strongly on how much they moved and where they happened to be standing, and varied dramatically from act to act. When I take gig photos I like to try to have at least one photo of each band member (which can be hard with drummers positioned far back), and as flattering as possible, especially when it’s smaller bands who may not have many nice live photos of themselves. So I took, and deleted a lot of photos (and didn’t get as many usable photos of some of the bands such as Chest Pains as I would have liked). Here they are, in order of running on the day. There are links to each band’s facebook fan page in each title.

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They only want you when you’re seventeen

(My ID photo from 2003, the following year)

I made this playlist a while back, and the post has been languishing in the drafts for a while, so I thought I’d finish it off for the end of the year. It’s all songs I liked when I was 17, which was in 2002. It’s a fairly roughly put together playlist, because it’s an attempt to make a jumble of songs fit together rather than to create a flow of songs (my usual way of creating playlists). I can’t remember why I made the playlist in the first place, but I think it was sparked by reading some article or the other. It was a while back, as I said.


The dominant music at the time was Nu Metal. The Strokes et al had just started to come in. I wasn’t particularly enthused by either. I used to go to a really shit alternative night in Chatham because it was something to do and they didn’t care about legal drinking ages (and was the only place open after 11 where my friends wouldn’t get beaten up). One room played indie, the other metal. Whatever song you asked for was too heavy for the indie room, and not metal enough for the metal room. So I rarely heard anything I liked there. Some of my (male) friends were in post-rock or post-hardcore bands, and that was more fun. (Some of them later set up a piss-taking night they dubbed post-core and claimed it was a legitimate genre).

There’s a big mix of stuff on here I guess, but nothing too embarrassing. Most of it is probably typical of people of roughly the same age. When I lived in Brighton however I seemed to be surrounded by crust-punk types, and in London more straight up HxC types. These weren’t the people I seek out, but they just seem to be there, surrounding you. They are also people with incredibly narrow and restrictive tastes in well, everything. They are certainly people who would judge this choice of songs embarrassing. I’ve leave the verdict up to you.

Brief comments about each song under the cut.

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Zilinski album launch

So here are some much more recent gig pictures- from this week in fact. Local label M8s Records held an album launch party for Canterbury band Zilinski. With Lazy Pilgrims and Trash Mammoth in support.

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Cloudrat & Moloch

Sometimes I’m incredibly slow at editing photos- especially from gigs where I may take several hundred photos and whittle them down to less than ten. A couple of years ago my friend Steve Larder‘s band Moloch did a split LP and tour with American grindcore band Cloudrat. I found the unedited photos the other day, and finally sorted them out. Enjoy.

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I’m Curious To Know Exactly How You Are

I had to put a Hüsker Dü song in this list, as they are one of my all-time favourite bands, but it was hard to decide which one. In the end I went for a really obvious choice- the first song of theirs I got into.

Hüsker Dü started out as a straight-up hardcore band in 1980, and became more and more melodic as the years passed until they split up in 1987, I think hitting the point of perfect contrast between the two around 1983/4. Both guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart sang and wrote songs- this being one of Grant Hart’s.

As well as the pure momentum and harsh joy of their music, I’m also very appreciative of the fact that Hüsker Dü were a band with two semi-out gay/bi men in, which was a pretty difficult situation to be in, in the ultra-macho world of American punk in the early 80s. (When Grant Hart sadly died recently I was however overjoyed to find out that Grant was short for Grantzberg. Grantzberg).

Candy Apple Grey was the first album I ever bought on vinyl around 99/2000, when I was fourteen to fifteen. I was a big Nirvana fan, and used to read old interviews and reviews and follow up on the references from them, discovering bands like the Pixies, Wipers and the Vaselines in that way. I had the internet at home, but it was essentially useless for actually listening to music as it was so slow and there was hardly any audio actually available, so often you could hear a lot about a band before ever hearing their music.

This was the case for me with Hüsker Dü. I had dusted off an old record player found in a cupboard at my dad’s house (contrary to many dads he has no interest in music), and started going to the excellent local second hand record shop near me- the much-missed Magic Discs in Gillingham, where I spotted Candy Apple Grey. I had already picked up the idea that Hüsker Dü and SST were important, so I had to get it. (This was before Our Band Could Be Your Life came out- a book very much worth reading, about some of my all-time favourite music)

I immediately loved it, and tried to get other people into it too. Unfortunately at that time the majority of my school friends were into Nu Metal, and they weren’t that fussed (the same story for the Pixies). You win some, you lose some. I just kind of ploughed my own furrow of loving Hüsker Dü alone. I couldn’t get hold of an actual Hüsker Dü t-shirt locally, so I made a really bad home-made one in Textiles class (see also bad handmade NIN patches made at the same time). About ten years ago I got a real Hüsker Dü shirt off of eBay, and it remains one of my most worn items. I’m feeling sad lately though as I seem to have misplaced it while moving house. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere. The only disadvantage of it however is that it makes strange men come up to you and fire Hüsker Dü trivia questions at you, like they suspect you of having bought a t-shirt of some 80s punk band you’ve never heard of because you are just so desperate to impress them. Hey guys, you ain’t that interesting. Even worse when I like to wear it with a flowery dress. This is against the rules of early 80s punk apparently and will incense them worse.

Here’s a photo of me on my 26th birthday in 2011 wearing it (and also drenched from a hailstorm- the joy of a January birthday). Yes, that is a banana fritter with a candle in it.

As a bonus, here’s a short Spotify playlist of some personal Hüsker Dü highlights. They’re just in chronological order as they appear on the albums. Metal Circus/Zen Arcade-era Hüsker Dü is probably my high-point.

Croatia Playlist

So here’s my playlist from Croatia- it goes with the zine I wrote about the trip. I just seemed to want to listen to nothing but David Lynch type music and the Deftones the whole time I was there. Also features an honorable mention for Iron Maiden, this time not playing simultaneously with Bieber.