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Liverpool Sound City 2012: TGTF’s stage featuring the Temper Trap, Clock Opera and Dear Prudence – 18th May 2012

 
By on Monday, 11th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t really paying that close attention to the sessions I attended on the Friday of this year’s Liverpool Sound City. My mind, running a mile a minute, was worried about the stage we were running that night at the Academy of Arts. The day before, I’d really enjoyed the sessions and had a completely unplanned introduction to John Robb by a mutual friend that I somehow eked by without revealing that I was completely unnerved talking to one of the Northwest’s most enduring and well-known musician/journalists. However, during a particularly boring afternoon on Friday in which some major label folks showed the big companies don’t know how much is discovered, really, I was relieved to get a text from John saying he’d arrived. John ran our stage at Brighton Coalition at the Great Escape with his girlfriend last year, so he is more qualified than the rest of us to see that a TGTF stage runs smoothly. After a comedic meetup – John is way taller than me, so much that he completely walked passed me and I had to yell “John!” – we went to go have dinner in a pub and discussed our plan of attack for the evening before heading out to the Academy of Arts at 5.

It’s a good thing we got there early, as the production team had posted our banner in the wrong place, far, far away from our table. Enter giant John, who quickly moved it with the help of Tyler, the chap who was running all the logistics of the stage for us that night. It was a little nerve-wracking to make sure we had all the merchandise we were going to give away, but we got everything in time: 5 signed copies of Clock Opera’s new album ‘Ways to Forget’, a extra-large Temper Trap shirt (John convinced me that it was better to offer up a big one in case a bloke won it, or a girl could use it as a nightie) and a signed ‘Need Your Love’ vinyl single that even our friend Larry of The AU Review coveted. John pretty much manned the table himself (and swimmingly so), as I went to photograph the bands, take notes and do something I tried to psych myself up for, but was so nervous about: speaking on a mike to get people over to our table for the contests. I had envisioned standing on the stage as I’d seen people at Roskilde do for the smaller stages there, but for logistic and safety reasons, they said I had to do it from the mixing desk. Hearing my voice – and loud – was so scary! And probably I’m guessing all the locals were thinking, “what is an American doing, talking on the PA?” But the contests went well, and everyone who won went away very happy, so that’s all that’s important.

Let’s get to the bands. So first up was Dear Prudence from Brighton. Their debut single, ‘Valentine’, just came out in early May, so this was a good first ‘big’ show for them, one of their first outside of their hometown. I really like how they sound and they’re a synthy, electro rock band (right up my alley!) so they were the perfect support band for our stage. I’m going to keep an eye on them. You can watch the official video for ‘Valentine’ below; it’s got a great beat and it had me dancing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCI-9dSSvbI[/youtube]

After an intermission, it was time for Clock Opera. I thought it very sweet that Guy Connelly recognised and say hello to me before they went backstage to situate their gear. A punter named Paul declared on Twitter, “WOW!! Think @clockopera may have just taken the best band award @SoundCity with that! ‪#Incredible‬ ‪#SoundCity12”. Good observation.

Clock Opera have the energy and the goods – in super infectious rhythmic tunes that should get every molecule of your body dancing. If you don’t believe me, watch the video below of ‘A Piece of String’, the song Dan Armstrong pointed out to me in this pre-festival interview as the one they all break out pieces of crockery to bang on. Overall, their set was brilliant.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxqmxhjhixQ[/youtube]

During the day it had been announced Niki and the Dove had cancelled their appearance due to illness, which I think led to our stage getting rammed even further, since the times of their set and the Temper Trap’s overlapped. This was fine by us, as the space kept getting more and more crowded by the minute. In another bit of hilarity, I was refused entry into the photographer’s pit because every photographer in the Northwest and their nan had already taken their places there. Thanks to Tyler’s talking-to that “it’s her stage!” I finally got in. Now, this was my seventh time seeing them, and there is no denying they’re a great live band. I’m still not sold on all the new songs yet, but it was crystal clear after just minutes into their start and after Dougy said, “hello Liverpool, you doing all right?”, it was going to be a night to remember.

From the new love anthem of ‘Need Your Love’ to the gaiety of ‘Down River’, there was something for everyone. To prove their mettle, before the encore the band played a punishing trifecta of rock: ‘Science of Fear’, ‘Resurrection’ and ‘Drum Song’, all with so much raw power and passion, and the crowd loved every minute of it. It should come as no surprise that ‘Sweet Disposition’ closed out the night, cranking up the energy way up inside the venue for a song that so many people hold dear. And then it was over. After handing out the prizes, Toby and Lorenzo briefly stopped in the venue and Lorenzo said to me with a smile, “Mary! It’s been a long time!” I had been a long time since we’d talked; we had a completely unharried chat outside the House of Blues in Boston before their show there. One of the greatest things as a blogger is to watch a band you saw promise in just keep rising in stature in the music scene. If my intuition is correct, I said it before and I’ll say it again: the Temper Trap are well on their way to conquering stadiums. I feel honoured we had them – and the wonderful Clock Opera and Dear Prudence as well – on our first-ever stage at Liverpool Sound City. We’ll be back next year, so here’s to many more! Thank you everyone for making our stage such a success.

 

(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City TGTF stage 2012 flavoured!) Interview: Dan Armstrong of Clock Opera

 
By on Friday, 11th May 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Clock Opera will be appearing as part of the programming for the TGTF stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Friday 18 May, playing at 20.30, as well as performing at Brighton Dome tonight (Friday 11 May) at the Great Escape at 20.30. I got together a bunch of questions for the band, including asking the band how the band formed, how SXSW this year went for them (including an unfortunate run-in with an oil painting), about all those unusual percussion bits they use live and much. Also, I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask about Guy’s beard. Read on.

Tell us who each of you are and what instruments(s) you play.
Guy Connelly – Vocals, guitars, plethora of bizarre objects sampled
Andy West – Bass, guitars
Che Albrighton – Drums, glockenspiel
Dan Armstrong – Piano, vocals. I’m answering these questions, as Guy is busy remixing…may the rest of the band forgive me.

How did you guys find each other? School, mutual mates, etc.?
Guy started Clock Opera in his own warped mind. He’d already formed a close bond with his laptop (thanks to previous bands/production) and the two of them decided to take their relationship to the next level. Shortly afterwards, other humans were invited to join in the form of Andy West (bass/guitars/looks) and Che Albrighton (rampant rhythm/height). Andy and Guy had been part of the obligatory Shoreditch-warehouse-living scene and Che was in a band with Andy at that time. The two were handpicked for the bracketed reasons. I was subsequently brought in to complete the quadrangle (keys/vocals/availability).

Who came up with the wild name “Clock Opera”, and what does it mean to you now? Does it indicate a love of Thomas Cook timetables or Italian arias?
I’ve known Guy mention in interviews a piece of music once written as a symphony for clocks. Apparently it was never performed but he liked the idea. I’m not convinced the symphony story is true though. I have a feeling Guy dreamed all that. Anyway, to me it’s Clock Opera because of the infinite ticking rhythms and because we like to sing grandiose and emotive melodies.

Some of my blogging compadres have compared your sound to Friendly Fires, the first band I chased around the world as a blogger. Do you agree or contest this comparison? Explain.

I haven’t personally seen our style liked to Friendly Fires but I’d be happy enough with that. Our music is in many ways different to theirs but the attention and passion they put into their live performances is something I would tentatively compare with us. Plus we like euphoria, driving rhythms and hitting objects too.

Going along with that, if you had to explain to someone what you sounded like in 10 words or less, which words would you choose to describe yourselves?
I’ve never been able to answer this question. Many have tried. Music is music. It’s better to listen to it than describe.

Before I heard your music, the buzz around you seemed to be a product of all the remixing you’ve done of other people’s tracks (for example, a pretty high profile one was of Metronomy’s ‘The Bay’). Who in your band are the remix princes? How did you get into remixing, have you always been naturally drawn towards fiddling around with other people’s songs and making them your own?

All the remixes are done by Guy, the remix prince. I’m pretty sure he started by doing one for Marina and the Diamonds (free download of the ‘I Am Not a Robot’ remix below), which people went mad for. Mr. Connelly’s production techniques are definitely suited to the process; he chops everything up into tiny pieces and makes something completely new from it. The Metronomy [one] (stream it below) was high profile, so too his Feist creation (free download of the ‘How Come You Never Go’ remix below too). I still point people towards two others which I love….one for the Drums and another for The Phenomenal Handclap Band. Both are great tracks in my opinion.

Marina and the Diamonds – ‘I Am Not a Robot’ (Clock Opera remix)

Metronomy – ‘The Bay’ (Clock Opera remix)

Feist – ‘How Come You Never Go’ (Clock Opera remix)

How does your remix work come about? Do you hear something and say to yourself, “I really want to put my stamp on that one!” Or has it been more of a word of mouth thing, like “those Clock Opera blokes really know what they’re doing, let’s ask them to remix our single”?
The latter. People ask him. Plead. Beg. Demand. It would be pretty difficult to just remix whoever you choose using Guy’s methods because you need the stems of a track to do it…each part in a separate file. Without them it’s hard to do much more than just add a beat and other sounds….whereas Guy wants parts he can break down into tiny fragments.

When I saw you at SXSW this year, I forget which song it was, but at one point you all reached down on the floor to grab what appeared to be part of mum’s cookery set and then started banging on these pieces. Was this commandeering of kitchen supplies borne out of necessity for the live performance, or have you always been banging on pots since the recording process of ‘Ways to Forget’ (John’s review of the album here) and/or before?
The song is called ‘A Piece Of String’. People often call them pots and pans, but they’re actually extremely sophisticated commemorative tankards and ornate trays. There’s no necessity in it. We do it because we like to. I attended music and movement classes as a toddler, which makes me the crockery equivalent of Vanessa Mae. But yes, the way the samples on the album begin life is often from striking, dropping and pounding strange objects. A World War II amp case, a basketball, a hand fan, etc., etc.

What did you think of SXSW this year? Which of your performances stood out, and why?
SXSW this year was incredible. Truly. Hot, relentless, strange. The whole city is taken over by music in a way that’s hard to describe. Nothing compares. The average bar there takes 40% of its annual takings in those 2 weeks. Every day starts early and ends late. Some days we’d play three shows and for me that’s when the performances stand out. You develop a special momentum where the sweat from one show becomes the hair gel of the next. It’s liberating. Another memorable aspect for me was playing on the same bill with other quality British bands. Slow Club, Django Django, Breton, Dutch Uncles and many more….all different but all part of something (but don’t say ‘scene’).

Did you play any strange venues, and if so, where did you play and how was the reception? Compare/contrast with any weird places you’ve played in London/UK.
They’re nearly all strange venues in their own way. At one an oil painting fell on Andy mid set which isn’t exactly a standard gig scenario. The only recurring theme was a stage, an audience and us. The reception was brilliant. I’d rather not compare and contrast it with London though, because that becomes like a piece of homework and I’m not at school anymore. Unfortunately.

Did you think the largely American audience “got” what you do?
They did.

Did you see any other bands in Austin you particularly enjoyed and/or that impressed you? And if so, how so?
The British ones I’ve already mentioned. My personal favourite was Slow Club (pictured above). [Read about their appearance at the Huw Stephens showcase on 17 March here. Clock Opera also performed. – Ed.] I’d never seen them live before and their music sounds so good in that setting. As a singer of harmonies, I’ve got a lot of respect for how they do it with such energy, beauty and ease. Class, unique performers.

Bass player of Fanfarlo Justin Finch admitted on the Thursday night of SXSW at their show at Club de Ville that upon seeing one of their fans sporty a massive beard, he had beard envy. Guy has a pretty epic beard (see photo above). Any other famous beards out there he covets and/or aspires to develop one similar to?
Guy’s beard is unique. It elicits a lot of envy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Finch crumbled in awe too. Unfortunately some people think it’s all right to use that awe as fuel and just walk up and have a feel. You don’t touch people you don’t know without asking first**. But be prepared for a refusal. (**If someone starts touching you first that often means it’s ok to return the favour.)

You’ll be playing our stage at Liverpool Sound City on the Friday night. Have you played in Liverpool before? If yes, what’s the Liverpool crowd like?
When I go to a gig and enjoy it I tend to stand in silence and then applaud at the end of each song. So if you get a thousand mes at a show what you basically have is a pretty average crowd. With that in mind, I try not to judge. What I will say though is that Liverpool is without question my favourite city in England and the people are a big part of that.

“Advertise” / “plead your case” to our readers why they should come and see you play Friday at the Liverpool Academy of Arts.
Is there somewhere I can leave my dignity to collect later?

Be sure to catch Clock Opera live at the TGTF stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Friday 18 May. They play at 20.30.

 

(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City TGTF stage 2012 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #29: Dan Armstrong of Clock Opera

 
By on Thursday, 10th May 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Clock Opera will be busy the next two Fridays, playing Brighton Dome at the Great Escape this Friday (11 May) at 20.30, then playing the TGTF stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Friday 18 May, where they will go on at 20.30. We asked Dan Armstrong, sticksman for Clock Opera, to answer our Quickfire Questions. His answers follow.

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
The theme tune to the original Moomins. It’s beautiful. If you search for it, all you’ll find are later, inferior pieces. But here it is, starting annoyingly in the middle but still right enough to reach into my earliest synaptic pathways.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyTHKu8QUz0[/youtube]

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Say A Little Prayer’ – Aretha Franklin. It’s still right up there for me.

3. What song makes you laugh?
‘Jenny’ – Flight of the Conchords (live). There’s also a song in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace episode ‘Skipper The Eye Child’ which is hard to beat.

4. What song makes you cry?
Too many. It’s a form of emotional self-medication.

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)

‘No. 41’ – Dave Matthews Band. They’re not respected much in England but for me as a writer, a singer, a performer, a man and as a band they are phenomenal.

6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
When I was at secondary school a boy in the year below died when he fell onto a greenhouse while retrieving a football. It was a shocking tragedy. He was extremely charismatic and popular and the whole school was devastated. For some reason I was imprinted by Annie Lennox’s ‘No More I love Yous’ and ‘Just Another Day’ by John Secada which I assume were both being played on the radio at the time. If I ever hear them now, I only think of him.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Always On My Mind’ (Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson…whoever they were). Or ‘Lover You Should’ve Come Over’ – Jeff Buckley.

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Alan Watts. They were all thinkers as much as writers but each one was super human. No time spent listening to their words is wasted. Milan Kundera is my favourite novelist. Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan.

9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
No idea.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
One album in heaven is a hell.

 

TGTF to host stage at Liverpool Academy of Arts, Friday 18th May at Liverpool Sound City 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 1st May 2012 at 2:31 pm
 

This year Liverpool Sound City will take place from Thursday the 17th to Saturday the 19th of May. We are pleased to announce that TGTF will be hosting a stage at this year’s festival on Friday at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Seel Street.

The night’s headliner will be the Temper Trap, making their first appearance in the UK in 2 years this month. They are set to go on at 22.00 (10 PM). Pop rhythmic sensations Clock Opera, who have just released their debut album ‘Ways to Forget’ (read John’s review of the album here), have also been confirmed for our stage at 20.30 (8:30 PM). Additional bands will be announced soon. Watch this space!

To mark this down on your calendar and to keep up to date with the goings-on, join up at our Facebook event. We’ll be having some exclusive giveaways and of course there will be some extraordinary performances you won’t want to miss, so save the date and spend the evening with us. See you there!

 

(Great Escape 2011!) Live Review: TGTF Stage at Brighton Coalition – 14th May 2011

 
By on Wednesday, 25th May 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

All photos by Lexi Davey

Editor’s note: Our man in Brighton, John Fernandez, provides his unique perspective from the TGTF table at Coalition on Saturday the 14th of May at the Great Escape

Sali

Coalition over the past two days played host to a number of different acts, heavy metallers Black Lungs rocked the roof of the venue, and Frank Turner provided the singalongs. But wasn’t there something missing? Maybe some Bhangra influenced dubstep perhaps? That’s exactly what Sali brought to the equation on Saturday opening TGTF’s stage at Brighton Coalition on the seaside. Sali hit the underground rave scene with their (now questionable?) collaboration with M.I.A. and they brought a certain intriguing quality with them when they played in Brighton. I can’t lie and say it’s my thing – it’s not – but on sheer inventiveness and creativity in their performance they have to be applauded. Sounds that freaky are hard to come by and in a way, I found myself enjoying them to an extent. Who says dubstep isn’t the future of music?

K. Flay

K. Flay had already created enough of a buzz to be coming on at 8 o’clock and to have drawn an almost full venue. Alone she stood as the eyes of all the A and R’s and PR people in the room bared down on her as she tore into a short but seriously sweet set, dripping with hooks and lyrics icy enough to give global warming a run for its money. She bounced around the stage with as much energy as you would expect from an entire band and the crowd responded with the first real reaction of the night. In a way, she reminded me of a less commercialised Katy B. But such comparisons are weak, K. Flay relied on her lyrical perfection to really captivate the capacity crowd at the TGTF stage. Big things are in the future for this girl, that’s one thing we can be sure of.

Foster the People

The queue had grown since K. Flay left the TGTF stage at Coalition, so it was obvious that there was something seriously sought after about to emerge onto the stage. That came in the shape of American three-piece Foster the People who brought with them to the seaside venue a picnic basket full of catchy summer tunes. The best of these was, without a doubt, the slow building ‘Pumped up Kicks’ which rolled across the Brighton beach comfortably. Their sound was exactly what everyone needed after the frantic set from K.Flay to relax everyone and get everybody singing along to these delightfully subtle, warm weather tunes.

White Denim

South by Southwest last year announced them as the best new act at last year’s festival. So the fuss about White Denim was arguably the most that was created over the 3-day event. Coalition was to capacity and people were struggling to get to the front of the crowd even before the band had come on. Who can blame them? These guys came to the TGTF stage and did exactly what they do best: rock as hard and as fast as they can for their entire set.

Tunes like ‘All You Really Have to Do / Mess Your Hair Up’ and ‘I Start to Run’ pinpointed the chaotic nature of White Denim’s amazing songs. The crowd were worked into a frenzy as headbangers, bloggers (myself included) and anyone else around fought their way to the front to get a glimpse of their “new favourite band”. At the moment, White Denim are a band doing the right thing, the right way. If they keep the momentum they have gained in the last year and carry it on, there’s no telling how far these boys from Texas can do.

TGTF would like to take this opportunity to thank the Great Escape and Mean Fiddler for the opportunity to host this stage, and also the folks that represent K. Flay and White Denim for providing us merchandise to give away to fans like you. If you picked up one of our badges and are currently displaying it proudly on the bag of your choice, you can thank our writer Shari Fedak; she designed them.

And of course, if you stopped by Coalition Saturday night for some good tunes – cheers. We hope to be out in Brighton for the festival this time next year!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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