Jun 11

Marcus Foster meets The Camden Store

We’ve waxed lyrical about Marcus Foster on numerous occasions since we first stumbled across his music late last year. Yesterday evening we had the chance to hear all about Marcus’ work in his own words ahead of his second performance in Camden this week… 

So, two gigs in two days at the Barfly…. We heard you’ve been mixing it up a bit?

Yeah – last night we wanted to have a go at something different so we went for a stripped-out trio show, which was a first for us. We focused more on the acoustic side of things just to mix it up a bit, which was great but hard work – there’s no safety net when you strip it down that way. Tonight we’ll be back to the full band with a chance to go a bit more nuts! 

We thought we could expect your album release (Nameless Path) to coincide with these shows – is that not the case anymore?

That’s right. We had planned the release for this month, but I’ve recently switched record companies so it’s now been delayed until September. We wanted to keep the gigs going anyway as we’d been looking forward to them, and now it’s all about celebrating the recently released single instead (Rushes and Reeds). We’re also thinking about recording a limited edition EP in the next couple of months too, just to keep it fun!

So I guess the album is ready and waiting to go now – how long was it in the making?

It’s my first album so it’s a mix really – I’ll be letting go of  old material with some songs that are up to six years old and combining them with others that are only six months old. Despite the period of time it covers the songs cover a similar theme and I think it all ties in to create one complete piece of work.

It’s also a bit of mixture between folk style and old school electric rock, and was recorded in a very live way. There are some weird stories in there – a lot of them are quite cinematic in the sense that I like to imagine a narrative and run with it.

Any tracks in there you’re particularly proud of?

I’m proud of them all really. I think it’s a good collection. A lot of the songs have existed in different forms previously and developed over time, so I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from it and have now got the momentum to keep moving on.

We saw the video of it being made out in Wales at Rockfield studios…

Yeah! It was amazing. We were out there for a month and had a great time, lots of cooking and drinking and playing games. The best experience.

It’s well known that you have an artistic background and exhibited a piece at the Saatchi gallery – how did you make the switch to music?

Well, I’ve been playing music for ages but I also studied at Chelsea College of Art and went on to do a masters in sculpture at the RCA. I’ve always done the two pretty much alongside each other, so for example a few years ago I was doing a bit of touring but was looking for ways to make art at the same time – so I got into photography and filming, which became quite important to my art practice.

Do you find that sometimes the two can fuel each other?

In a way, yes. It’s good to try and connect the two. We recently made a video in Iceland and we did a lot of the album’s artwork out there, which I was quite involved in, and the images from that follow along the same sort of lines that I might explore within a sculpture.

So this means that you follow in the long line of artists that have become professional musicians – is there anyone you particularly admire that has also trodden that path?

It’s interesting I guess. I did hear that Bryan Ferry went to the RCA too which is cool! I think it can sometimes be a tricky combination as it can be hard for musicians to be taken seriously when they turn to art, so I’m glad I’ve done it this way around.

Beyond the art world are there any musicians that have inspired you recently?

I really like the singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff who’s also played for Communion. He’s an amazing performer. He did a show in Camden at the Borderline recently that was just insane. I listen to a lot of old music too – sometimes it can be a slog to find brilliant performers these days that are willing to really go for it.

I guess that’s why it’s so great when you find something new that you do like – it makes the search worthwhile?

Yeah, totally. I think it can be like that with art too – there’s a lot of shit out there but when you see something really good it’s just the best feeling in the world – you kind of live for those special moments. That sounds very cheesy!

Confession time – do you have any guilty pleasures musically? Something a little bit naff you secretly can’t help listening to? 

Ummm, I listen to a lot of jazz.

Jazz can’t be labeled as naff!

Yeah ok, jazz is cool. Prince? But then he’s cool too.

Perhaps we’ll just have to chalk you down as a man with impeccable taste in music…

Hang on, I just remembered I might quite like a bit of Norah Jones – does that count?

It’ll have to do!

Moving on, you occasionally get linked back to the fact that you wrote a song performed by Robert Pattinson for the Twilight films – do you ever find any twi-hard fans popping up at your gigs?

Not so much! I’m really grateful for everything the film has done for me, but I’m also pleased I didn’t cash in on the experience and instead stayed over here, working with Communion and building up my fan base organically – that’s been really rewarding.

It looks like you have a crazy summer lined up festival-wise…

Yep we’re doing some really nice ones, like Greenman, Secret Garden Party and Bestival – plus anything basically with a barn or a farm involved! I’ve never really been to festivals before so it should be fun.

Blimey, are prepared? Have you got your festival survival kit ready?

Yeah I should do that, I’ll at least need to find some wellies…

So, after the summer your next major step is the album – then what? More touring?

Yup, album, touring, touring, touring. That includes a European tour in the autumn, then hopefully next year I’ll head over to America and maybe sort out getting on a label out there…and then see how it goes I guess.

Finally, what do you make of our beloved Camden?

Well I’m based in South London, but I think Camden is an amazing place with all its pubs and venues, especially on a sunny evening like this. I’d probably end up dead if I had all this on my doorstep every day of the week though!

True to his word, Marcus did go ‘a bit nuts’ at that evening’s show –launching into a rousing tune and promptly snapping a guitar string! Luckily Communion’s Kev Jones quickly came to the rescue so all was not lost, and the band went on to play a great set.

You can get a glimpse of what life on the road is like for Marcus Foster with this new little video:

The Camden Store Team X

Jun 11

Flying high with Treetop Flyers

Last week saw the launch of Glastonbury Emerging Talent victors Treetop Flyers debut single, released by hot Ben Lovett-backed label, Communion.

Ahead of the celebratory launch show at The Borderline, we caught up with Reid, Tomer, Sam, Laurie and  Matthew from the band…..

TCS: We’re here to celebrate the release of Things Will Change – your first single with Communion, is this your first record?
No – when the band started out we realised that we needed to make some recordings in order to get gigs. We recorded at Soup Studios on Brick Lane and it turned out that the songs sounded way better than just demos, so we decided to release them as an EP. We sold so many copies that we had to order a reprint! It’s still available on itunes too.

TCS: How long have you all been together?
It’s about two and half years now. Tomer and I (Reid) were in a band together (Morrison Steam Fayre), Sam was doing solo stuff, Laurie was in The Barker Band, and Matthew was in Rum Shebeen. All those came to an end and we were hanging out at a studio in Hounslow, and sort of found each other. We weren’t quite cool enough for the Jamie T scene so we established our own.

TCS: What do you do when you are not recording/playing/rehearsing?
Laurie’s a graphic designer. Me (Reid) and Tomer edit movies for hotel rooms (yes – including all small amount of porn), Sam records and Matthew works with kids.

TCS: Signed to Communion, do you grow tired of comparisons to Mumford and Sons?
We don’t get compared to them that much as we have a very different sound. That said, if someone’s out there who doesn’t have a clue who we are, but the comparison helps them to access us then that’s great. When they see us live they’ll probably realise that the comparison isn’t all that accurate.

Communion is a great label to be signed to, they’ve really opened doors for lots of musicians – particularly in America. We were in New York recently and it brought it home just how well they are doing over there.

TCS: Which artists do you look up to?
Paul Simon, Neil Young, The Coral, The Bees, Heads Hands and Feet (they squeal A LOT about HH&F, declaring that they are seriously underrated), Otis Reading, Bob Marley, Van Morrison, The Band. We like songs with soul and meaning behind them.

TCS: How do you write songs as a band?
It changes from song to song. Someone might write the chorus and melody and then one of us will pop the lyrics over the top. It never feels like a complete song until each of us have added something to it.

TCS: Are there any songs that you wished you’d been able to include on the single today?
Well, we have nearly a whole album of songs recorded and some definite festival hits which we really enjoy playing. The single is a good introduction to the band so hopefully if people like that, then they should like the rest of our stuff. Fingers crossed.

TCS: Caitlin Rose tour – fun?
Yeah! It was eight gigs in seven days. We played quite a stripped back set each night which was great as we like to experiment and hear our songs played in a different way.

TCS: Congratulations on winning your Glastonbury slot, have you heard which stage you’re going to be on?
We’re going to be second on the Other Stage on the Saturday. And we’re also playing five other times over the course of the weekend. Some of us haven’t even been to Glastonbury before so we’re pretty excited to go and see what it’s all about.

TCS: First single launched, Glastonbury slot confirmed – are you enjoying 2011?
We’re having a lot of fun. We don’t want to expect things to happen and then be disappointed when they don’t. We want to keep grounded. We’ve got a lot of things planned, lots of weekends that we know we’re going to enjoy. Looking beyond, we want to grow organically and let our music evolve. We want longevity and to love what we do and to have some fun. It has to be fun. End of story.

Treetop Flyers are playing at Bushstock this weekend. Tickets still available here. Having heard them play, we’d strongly recommend that you check them out. Lucky for them, they look destined for both sucess and longevity.

The Camden Store Team X

Apr 11

Glasto top pick Twin Brother play Camden

Today sees the grand final of Glastonbury festival’s Emerging Talent Competition, set to be streamed via their website early this evening. This spring Camden is lucky to be playing to host to many of the acts featured, including new kids on the Brighton block, Twin Brother.

The band played Club Spangle at the Bull & Gate on Monday (see more of our great shots below), and we got the chance to ask Alex from the band a few questions.

Tell us about Twin Brother – how did it all begin?

Strangely it started with me deciding that I wanted to make some country songs as an experiment. Having just ended a previous band and not having any specific ideas for starting a new one, I recorded them by myself in my bedroom studio.

The current material is written and recorded in the same way, and the live setup has been going only for a few months. The drummer and bassist Joe and Steve have been playing with me since the first record and in the past we have had up to seven live band members.

How does it feel to get through to the Glastonbury Emerging Talent final, and what do you think of the other bands you’re competing against?

I was somewhat surprised, as the new material had only just been put online and we didn’t know what kind of reception it would get being so different from the early country/folky stuff people were probably used to. It’s all been really encouraging. The other bands are brilliant and we’re looking forward to meeting them in Pilton.

You guys are based in Brighton – have you noticed any differences between the Brighton and London music scenes?

Brighton loves folk. We had a lot of great gigs with the older country/folky material. There’s definitely a challenge in sounding different or interesting when you play as a four piece electric band. London doesn’t seem particularly phased by it though, and we’ve had some really encouraging feedback there.

What are your plans for the band for the rest of the summer?

I’d quite like to lie on a Caribbean beach, but really I have far too much new material to get on with, as well as some re-recording of old tracks and a possible release to do. We’ve also got a few festivals lined up and some more gigging. The summer is looking excitingly busy for us!

You can download a free copy of their smashing track ‘Lungs’ right here.

Pictures: Dan Aitch


Mar 11

BAANEEX and the weird dance…

Tonight concept band Baaneex are playing at the Lock Tavern. If you run, you should just make it. Ahead of their St Patrick’s day jamboree, we caught up with young Rosie, drummer for the band to hear about the band, the plan and The Count….

So, Rosie, you’re the drummer, tell me about the rest of the band. Who are they? Where did they come from?

The rest of the band are Joel Shea on guitar. He is from a tiny island on the west coast of Canada which is apparently more beautiful than Cornwall. Owain Paciuszko on keyboard. He comes from Cornwall. Andy Hopwood adding fat grooves on the bass. He comes from Bermuda and grew up in a forest somewhere in Britain – I forget which one.

We all met through Joel really. He used to play in a very sensible band called Muerena Helena with Andy. They made intricate beautiful art rock. MH broke up and Andy and Joel wanted to do something different. Joel was my housemate at the time and I had mentioned to him I went to some drum lessons when I was 13. Though I insisted I really was not “a drummer” and was also shy he bought me a snare and some cymbals and suddenly I was in a practice space tapping almost inaudibly along to a Roland 606 drum machine.

We didn’t know what we were doing but we thought something along the lines of “dreamy desert crescendos” or something. We fiddled about, then Owain came along. He is an amateur like me but his head happens to be full of wondrous childish sounds and catchy tunes. We got louder, faster and sillier and then we were BAANEEX. There is nothing really dreamy about BAANEEX.

And, who writes the songs? Is it a collaboration?

Lots of the time we decide “Right, let’s make a song – it is time” and we all hit/pluck/poke our instruments until something comes out and we all nod and say “yes, that’s OK.” Sometimes something good comes out of our mucking around and it actually becomes a BAANEEX song.

Your sound is (and I am not just saying this!) unbelievably unique. I really have no point of reference. The sporadic use of vocals leaves me completely gripped, wondering where each track is going to wind up. Do you think that you are deliberately shunning song writing norms of verse, chorus, verse…?

Thank you that is very nice to hear! In all honestly I think it is less of a decision to be deconstructivist in our approach and more that we don’t really know what we are doing! We are all quite positive and if one of us does something the others tend to say “that sounds great!” so we’re not really cutting much out. The vocals are developing as we go. At first Joel and Owain did the voices then one day Andy showed up with a microphone and started yelping along so now we have three.

We all love a broad range of music and have all in our time come across experimental bands that really rip up traditional Western song writing norms. Joel loves old Jazz. Andy used to be a drum and bass DJ but listens to black metal and I have a thing for African pop and traditional music. We all love Michael Jackson and Black Flag. We all like dancing. We don’t really have a plan for a BAANEEX song, we know we’ll never be as good as the music we love we just play hard, have fun and do our best.

What inspires your songs do you think? With so few words, is it more about the images that the sound creates?

I could say noises, sounds and humour but actually it all comes down to Count Dracula. It may not be immediately – or at all – obvious but BAANEEX actually makes concept songs. We have a series of eight songs all called Weird Dance and each one is about our own version of The Count, a clueless loser who just cannot get it right. It all started with Weird Dance 1. The lyrics are ”I need ice! I need ice!” – this is about poor Count D wandering through a hotel corridor at night looking for the ice machine. All the weird dances are about the trials and tribulations of Count Dracula the social outsider who is niggled by his own failings. Weird Dance 3 (Lyric: “Avoid the light”) is a more conventional Dracula tale. Weird Dance 6 is about The Count’s attempt to have a holiday but he can’t help asking himself- “What is the point!” (Lyric: “What am I doing in Blackpool?”)

It seems like you’re really a band on the up, gigging all over the place, what are your ambitions for the year? More gigging? More writing? Any forthcoming releases? Should we expect to see you at Glastonbury?

We do love to play live and try and do a gig in London at least once a month. We like to give the audience a good time if we can! I think our ambitions our fairly simple – we would like all our shows to be full! That would be great. We have just had the first four Weird Dances released as an EP by Oddbox Records, a little independent London label. We’ll be recording the next four in June so hopefully we can get those into physical format too. We’ll be playing live on Resonance FM on Saturday April 16th….. Glastonbury! Wow, yeah why not!

The Camden Store Team X

Feb 11

5 minute chat with James Apollo

Following his Bull and Gate gig on Friday night, accompanied by a free download, James Apollo is giving away his peyote inspired secrets today in a rip roaring five minute catch up with the Camden Store Team…..

So, you used to live on a boat, how did it compare to living on land?

I thank god every sweet day I set foot on land. Living on a boat was a dream, a sad, wet, sinking dream. It was a 38 foot powerboat named the Gramma, which coincidentally is the exact same name and size boat that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara boarded to take over Cuba. Hell, maybe it was the same one. It was abandoned at Pier 39, San Francisco Bay when I found it.

Did you ever worry that you might sink?

Daily. But more importantly, nightly. And when the rains came it got worse. Water came in from the top and the bottom. I tried wrapping the entire thing in plastic but all it did was make my clothes moldy any time I was gone for more than a week…

What are your plans for the year?

I’ve been touring for most of the year so far. Tour is sort of a time warp, so I’m going to start the year when I have a little time off in a couple months. To avoid prosecution all I can say is its going to involve Big Bend Texas, Peyote, and mules.

What are you most excited about?

Once the peyote ring gets worked out, I’ve got a lot of little musical projects in the works. One is teaming up with a bunch of Canadians in a cabin in the mountains outside Vancouver. Another is a joint effort with this Cuban horn quartet in Philly. There’s a few more. You’re only as good as your best pool player right?

You’re over here for a few dates, how do you our UK audiences compared to the USA?

I always like saying that I “enjoy relative anonymity in my hometown,” but yeah, the point is, audiences in the UK have been really good to me. I stride a kind of line between rock’n'roll lounge show and pissing and moaning crooner. It’s hard to find a room full of folks that will really listen to the sweet stuff, and then move a bit when the band kicks in….

The Camden Store Team X