Tag Archives: music

Distant Correspondent. Music for hangovers.

14 May

I’m sure a fair few of you will know the feeling… The early morning alarm wakes you up after the night before, your brain and tongue feel like a deflated football and there’s a fully fit team putting the proverbial boot in.

Hit the snooze button, even though you know another ten minutes in bed isn’t going to make any difference and only adds to the contemplation of the disastrous day ahead.

Jumping up, as you are now running late, the shower might put a positive dent in this feeling. Think again! 8 + pints of ‘something’ that you can still taste and feel isn’t going to be shifted by a stream of tepid water and cheap shower gel.

By the time you have arrived at your place of work, you wonder how the hell you even managed to crawl in and out of bed. A glance at the clock makes that the fact that you have another 7 hours of the working day left totally unbearable.

Right, it’s time for action, coffee and music. This is where Distant Correspondent came in.

On this particular day music was the only thing that could save me and this is where I searched for a cure for the previous night’s antics.

Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia were one of my favourite bands from the early 2000’s and were my band for lazy days of contemplation, (and were what I was listening to on this particularly painful day) after a night of heavy indulgence, MBICR mixed guitar, electronics and female spoken word and created something that was part Arab Strap part Life Without Buildings before both bands existed.

After searching online for what the guys and girl from MBICR were up to at present, the name Distant Correspondent kept popping up. I read a few bits about the band and knew from the write ups that this would be a project that I would like and needed on this day.

I nipped over to Spotify to see what was available by DC and was pleased to see that the band had release a self –titled album in 2013.

dc111111

The band consists of  David Obuchowski (Goes Cube), Michael Lengel, Edith Frost and  Emily Gray (Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia). The music is written via the internet as the musicians live on differing continents – You now know where the name comes from.

Anyway, where were we? OK I was about to hit play. ‘Listen’ the first track on the album took me where I needed to be. My hangover took a back seat and was no longer the focus of my previously jaded attention. Guitars drenched in reverb and delay, ice cool ethereal vocals and dreamy textures were the perfect start.

dist

Track three on the album ‘Cyclone’ blew me and my cobwebbed head away completely. Reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins and a slowed down version of DIf Juz, I could imagine Distant Correspondent being a perfect band for the 4AD label.

This self-titled release is music to get joyously lost in. It’s not the most diverse release I have ever heard but the album works wonderfully as a whole. Reverb and delay are the primary features but DC succinctly splash small nuances throughout the songs and the less is more approach fits perfectly here.

Emily Gray’s spoken word pieces float in and out of the songs and this is another area that DC has utilized to perfection. I had always adored her voice, it’s the sort of voice that whispered into your ear, sends shivers down your spine and makes headphones a must for this album.

Some of the songs do pick up the tempo; ’Summit’ is a prime example of this, Gray is on top form and so are the band. This is the musical equivalent of reading a secret diary and feeling waves of empathy for the author’s troubles. ‘Summit’ is a stunning track and one that I have had on repeat along with the whole album for days now

By the end of the first full play of the album, all my thoughts and feelings connect to my inebriation and its after effects were a thing of the past and the only way I could keep them at bay was to hit play and listen to this album again and again.

Trust me, the album sounds even better without the added hangover but in case of emergency it’s the CD cabinet and not the medicine cabinet I will be reaching for after one of those nights in the future, DC are the musical equivalent of pain killers and re-hydration – Very comforting and refreshing.

Here we have an interview with David and Michael from the band.

So, how are you?

David: Pretty good, pretty good.
Michael: Great!

What are the band up to currently?

David: Well, we’re doing a lot of recording right now. My wife and I recently had a baby girl, and so that put our live stuff on hold for a bit. But all this time at home has allowed me to put all my focus back into writing.

Michael: Yes, recording, recording, recording. We’re in the early stages on several new songs I think we’re all pretty excited about. After our fall tour and a bunch of Denver shows, there’s definitely a reflection of the live dynamics we’re drawing from in these new songs.

dcpic

Have you played or do you plan to play any gigs?

David: Ah well, we actually went on a national tour this past fall in support of our album. Emily even came over from the UK to be a part of it. It was a lot of fun playing nearly every night, drinking beer in a different town every night, and all of us Americans speaking to Emily in our best English accents. We played a slew of shows when we got home from that tour. But as I said, my wife and I just had a baby so we’re spending our time recording and writing right now. Though, I expect we’ll be back at it come summer.

Michael: It’s funny, when you’re in one stage of the process how you can yearn for the other… when you’re touring you start to get fidgety, wanting to write and record; when you’re recording, you can’t wait to play the songs live. We’ll have shows coming in the summer, but for now, speaking for myself at least, just trying to be present and enjoy developing these new songs.

How would you describe your sound?

David: We have a running joke in the band that we’re “trans-Atlantic dreamwave.” For some reason every piece of press that came out when we were on tour used that phrase. We couldn’t escape it. I guess I’d actually describe our sound as being a kind of dreamy, lush post-punk. We try to put tension and dynamics and hooks into all the songs (which is where the post-punk comes from), but then really try to fill it out as much as possible with layers and melody.

Michael: Yeah, “trans-Atlantic dreamwave” has kinda stuck…

dcvocals

What are your musical influences?

David: I mean, as the guy who plays and writes the guitar parts, I think I’m probably wearing a lot of my influences on my sleeve: Cocteau Twins, Smiths, Slowdive, One Last Wish, Kate Bush. But then, I’ve also been playing metal for a very long time, so that still factors into it. So there’s some Russian Circles, Pelican, Isis influences happening for me, too. I’ll let everyone else tell you what their influences are.

Michael: Rhythmically, I draw from Boards of Canada who for me, bring an impressive simplicity but intense groove to their beats. Liars, Fly Pan Am and some older stuff like Scott Walker’s huge sounds from Scott 1, 2, 3 and 4, Harumi which is Japanese psych from the 60s… These don’t really show in our sound per se, but what I love about each of these is that balance of relative simplicity with invention that adds a dimension of intrigue rhythmically.

What was the last album you listened to?

David: As I type this, the last album I listened to was Suzanne Vega’s first LP.

Michael: Echo Lake’s LP, Wild Peace. Absolutely delicious.

I noticed a love of delay and reverb on the album, where did this influence come from?

David: I think the obvious answer, again, is to look at the Cocteaus and Slowdive and Smiths. But from a practical perspective, the answer is probably just as much about the metal bands I’ve toured with (in my band Goes Cube). Goes Cube has always had a big Quicksand, Helmet post-hardcore influence mixed with more straight-up thrashy/grindy/driving stuff like Napalm Death. But between listening to Hydra Head bands (like Isis) and touring with bands like Dub Trio and East of the Wall, I was amazed at the textures that could be created with delay even in the heaviest, most brutal music. So with both Goes Cube and Distant Correspondent, I’ve been a little more interested in that. But with Distant Correspondent, I’m also adding chorus to the delay, which gives it that sort of shameless shoegazey/new wave British sound, which I love. There was a moment early in the record process where I played a chord and it sounded kind of like the guitars in “Headmaster’s Ritual,” and I decided “that’s it!”

If you had to chose one of your own songs for our listeners to hear, which would it be?

David: “Shatter” seems to be a big favorite. And I do love that song. I also love “Summit.” But then, I’ve always felt like “Forward” could be a real kind of “single.” I don’t recommend it as the ONE song everyone should hear, but I think “Department” is one of my favorite songs on the record, though I think it’s probably most people’s least favorite. I didn’t really give you a straight answer, did I? Oh well, I can’t decide.

Michael: “Say” and “Clay” I think are two songs that show a bit of our ability to create a dreamy soundscape that also has a driving element.

Anything else you would like to add.

David: Yes, we had a UK-only single come out on Static Caravan Recordings. It got really good press. We have an amazing British member (Emily Gray, who used to be the vocalist for Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia, a band I’ve been obsessed with for well over a decade now). Point is: We really want to come tour the UK. Aren’t there any booking agents and/or promoters who want to help us out? We practically ARE a UK band. I mean, you should hear our accents!

Michael: I think Emily would confirm our accents are immaculate.

https://www.facebook.com/distantcorr

https://twitter.com/distantcorr

http://oldflamerecords.bandcamp.com/album/distant-correspondent-distant-correspondent

 

 

More for 2013.

20 Mar

Cheers to you all for your continued support. We’ve been busy this month.

Firstly it was Vivid Riot Records putting out the two-sided single by Scotland’s finest The Banter Thiefs. ‘Levi Toi’ and ‘Civic Cafe’ are available for free download  on our Bandcamp label page HERE.

Secondly, number 8 in the football Casual Podcast series has been released and already has listeners into the hundreds. Pop over to our Mixcloud page HERE and make sure you follow as a new one will be published in April 2013 and is one not to miss.

Thirdly, we are going to streamline the way we feature bands on the blog. Rather than lengthy reviews, we are going down the route of showcasing the music we like but just putting on videos, page links and biographies. This way, we give your more music less waffle and as you will know, this is the Vivid Riot ethos.

Lastly, I will leave you with video that coincides with a release from Cass Pennant’s book company and I am sure will be of interest to plenty of you.

Barrington Renford Patterson is a former kickboxer and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. The champion ‘King of the Ring’ is well-known to cage fighting devotees and is notorious as one of Britain’s ‘hard men’ — as testified by a full episode of the TV series Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men. The former football hooligan from the Birmingham Zulus firm also cuts a powerful figure in clubland, with a hard-earned reputation gained by running some of the roughest doors in the Midlands.For all his ferocious reputation, ONE-EYED BAZ reveals a character of great warmth and loyalty, a charismatic figure strong enough to turn his back on street violence. ONE-EYED BAZ will surely be lauded as a classic of the hardman genre . . . You can order the book today online with John Blake Publishing or Amazon etc or from Waterstones bookshops. ISBN: 978-1843588115

Click picture below for video trailer.

one-eyed-baz

Vivid Riot and Cass Pennant Present Casuals Live Gig. The Garage, Highbury, London 10/11/2012

28 Sep
CASUALS LIVE! Featuring Section 60 + The Blue Collars + Violet Class + Plastic Youth + DJ Dan Nolan + MC Cass Pennant Tickets

CASUALS LIVE! Featuring Section 60 + The Blue Collars + Violet Class + Plastic Youth + DJ Dan Nolan + MC Cass Pennant Tickets Nov 10 2012 6:30 pm iCal

Upstairs at The Garage

Online music site VIVID RIOT presents a night celebrating the culture of Casuals with live music.  Sheffield’s Section 60 top a bill of great young guitar bands sporting the swagger of Oasis, the bombast of Kasabian and the melodic finesse of The Verve.  Cass Pennant, best-selling author and eponymous hero of the British feature film Cass, will compere.

The ticket price includes a copy of the award winning feature film DVD “Casuals”, a documentary exploring the early 80s fashion movement instigated by young football supporters from the terraces of British stadiums.

Age restrictions – 18+  (Photographic ID required for entry)

PRESENTED BY VIVID RIOT

Tickets with lower booking fee available – Click Buy Now

Also buy tickets here: http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=532838&referral_id=mamagroup&interface=garage1

The Broken Vinyl Club. 60’s inspired cool.

28 Aug

Sometimes I need music to wake me the fuck up. The sort of music that no matter how, bad I feel, it sets the early week cobwebs on fire. On this particular day, it’s the Tuesday after a Bank Holiday weekend. The excitement of football, drinking, music and overeating has long gone. There’s a taste in my mouth like the bottom of a birdcage and I don’t know how I am going to get through the next eight hours of work.

Luckily, I stumbled over The Broken Vinyl Club. TBVC are the musical equivalent of an ice cold glass of Resolve and a bacon sandwich. As the tunes flow, you feel your life force being replenished and any notion of a hangover is gone. The effervescent vibes ease your mind, body and soul into the working week and you know what? I feel alright!

‘All in Your Head’ is a song that could make the coldest winter morning feel like summer in the Bahamas. Its feel good factor spirals and spins as the lyrics promise that “The sun will shine again.” This is only track number two on the eponymous debut by TBVC and if this track is anything to go by, I will be overdosing on positivity by the end of it.

I can hear everything from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, and The Rolling Stones in TBVC’s music. There’s a massive Mod influence in the songs and the song crafting is second to none. Melodic, tight and interesting are three words that I would use to describe TBVC, they are clever chaps and do music with what seems like effortless cool.

‘She’s Tired’ is a stand out track for me. It has Guitars that twang and shuffle, drums that gently caress, a bass that drifts along and vocals that tell a story worth following until the end. The 60’s influence is there throughout but despite wearing the musical influences on their sleeves, TBVC are fresh and interesting enough to be considered for big things.

I relish the prospect of seeing TBVC live. Songs this good deserve the live stage and audience. Music that is clever and danceable doesn’t come along very often but when it does, it’s time to get the old dancing shoes out but be prepared to have them resoled when the gig has finished, because if you stand still, you are past musical saviour. Hallelujah!

I managed to ask Scott from the band a few questions and here’s what he had to say.

What releases have you put out and have you played many gigs?

“We put out our very first single ‘I Want you Girl’ / ‘In my mind’ on Cardiff based label See Monkey Do Monkey in 2010 which gained us alot of attention and we got asked to play at Liam Gallagher’s first Pretty Green Club night at The Garage. That’s where Acid Jazz saw us play and then 2011 we signed to them and put out ‘One Way Street’ August 2011 and then our debut album in October 2011 we then released a follow up single ‘Diamonds in her eyes’ in February this year. We have done lots of gigs as we have been a gigging band since 2009 and have had to build our fan-base by basically doing the toilet tour throughout the UK. We have also played some really cool places such as Stockholm Sweden, Borderline, 100 club London we have also played Bournemouth 02 academy and Shepherds Bush Empire supporting the Stereophonics. ”

I can hear a very distinct Mod 60’s vibe to your songs, would you say that is a good description of your sound?

“Yes collectively we are all influenced by some classic 60s bands and many of the songs were written with these influences in mind.”

Which bands and artists influenced you the most?

“The Beatles, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Kinks, Coral, The Byrds, Small Faces, Rolling Stones, The Las.”

Which current bands do you rate the most?

“Loving the new Michael Kiwanuka album, also think that Alabama Shakes and Jake Bugg are great too. There’s also great bands in Wales who are releasing music and gigging such as Houdini Dax, The Keys,The Boy Royals, El Goodo and Colorama.”

Is there one new band that you think we should look out for and why?

“Houdini Dax their like Cardiff’s answer to The Beatles, they have great songs, great energy live, a good sense of humor and are young and very talented go check them out! ”

If you had to pick one album that you had to solely play for a week, which would it be?

“Revolver The Beatles one of the best albums ever. Rubber Soul is a close 2nd, though. Its just has tune after tune and the sound and vibe of the album has never been bettered would of loved to have been a fly on the wall at these recording sessions.”

What influences/pastimes do you have outside of music?

“We all enjoy rummaging around for vinyls and buying new clothes. I also love cooking and think I’d probably be a chef if I didn’t have music. Meirion loves trawling e-bay to find vintage studio equipment to add to his collection.”

What is the funniest thing that has happened to the band since you formed?

“One thing that sticks in my mind is when we finished our set at the pretty green club night and came off stage and went back in to the dressing room then someone shouted someones playing your drum kit we all ran out and we realised that its Andy bell from Ride / Oasis / Beady Eye so we start filming it on our phones. Justin is over the other side of the stage and doesn’t realise who it is and starts making menacing faces at him and telling to get the f**k off the drum kit.”

How do you feel about the digital age. Do you think it helps or hinders bands these days?

“It helps bands to start off and get their music out there but I also think that it can hinder signed bands, as the internet has brought in the culture of not paying for music so from that point of view it has ruined the music industry. There are many points for and against to be honest.”

Also, how do you view the music press these days?

“I think alot of the main music magazines play it safe and don’t try to find new music it’s all a little corrupt to be honest. Whatever label pays the most gets the review or article. Many of the music press are quite lazy instead of writing what they actually think of you they just copy what you’ve written in your biog.”

http://www.facebook.com/thebrokenvinylclub

http://acidjazz.co.uk/artist/the-broken-vinyl-club.html

A ‘casual’ stroll through football, fashion and music.

24 Jan

There was one youth subculture that got up the noses of the establishment more than any other in history. They were clued up, dressed up and had an attitude that went beyond realms of any other movement before them.

When it came to shaking things up this lot knew how, where and when to be. It’s not Skinhead, it wasn’t Mod and wasn’t the ripped up anger of the punks. ‘Casual’ embraced everything that went before them but they weeded the shit out of the garden of England and grew into something that is still creating ripples to this day.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the moniker ‘Casuals’.  In the late 70’s, Everton and Liverpool football clubs were both taking part in European cup competitions. The fans from the Mersey travelled everywhere to follow their teams and on these travels the opportunity came to literally smash, grab and steal whatever goods were available on the continent. This usually meant exclusive designer clothing.

Steaming in. Old School.

The skinheads that attended football matches in the late 60’s and early 70’s started to get their steel toe-capped Doctor Martin boots taken away as a safety measure and at some grounds and the laces were removed by the Police at others. Skinhead fashion was always aggressively working class and the Police now had an easily recognizable target for trouble started at football. A movement to supersede the ‘boot boys’ was hiding just around the corner.

The police confiscating boots and laces.

English football casuals took every chance to watch the national team play, with every trip abroad becoming working holidays for some.  Stolen gear was sold as soon as the casuals were back in the UK. Labels started appearing that today sound familiar but in the 80’s, Lacoste, Sergio Tachinni, Ellesse, Gabichi and Fila held certain mysticism for lads that wanted to stay one step of their rivals in the fashion and fighting stakes.

Unlikely Style icons.

The casual look and attitude was just what the football lads needed to avoid the police detection that the skinheads suffered before them. The establishment didn’t expect anyone involved in football violence to be wearing a dearstalker hat, a Barbour jacket and Italian desinger tracksuits.

Footwear also played a huge part in the casual scene and Addidas were at the forefront of innovative trainer production during this period. Adidas have re-issued an Originals range that includes the casual classics Forest Hills and Trim Trabb. Fila and Sergio Tachinni have also released vintage  clothing ranges that use the original designs that were first produced in the 80’s. It just goes to show that there is still a market for these garments and the film industry has also helped with this resurgence. Never turn up at a football match with a bastard pair of trainers on – ask anyone who did, they won’t do it again!

Trim Trabb. Timeless.

As the labels started flooding the terraces, new streams of fashion appeared every week. Lads who once had cropped hair and thought long hair was for girls sported the much groomed wedge haircut. People that were looking like they had stepped off a tennis court or from an 80’s music video started travelling up and down the country on trains using cheap rail fare tokens torn from Persil washing powder boxes.

The inspiration for the wedge haircut. 

 Persil – All good clean fun.

For the football following youth of the 80’s, it was an adventurous and exciting time. Getting off a ‘Football Special’ train with all your mates, dressed to the nines and bowling about like you owned the place, was just the beginning of the buzz. Travelling to certain grounds for out of town supporters was becoming very risky business during the casual era but this was also part on the buzz. If there were just a few of you – you may have got the classic line, “ere mate, you got the time?” Always a tense moment for anyone in this situation, if your accent wasn’t regional, then your luck was up. This was a cue for it to “kick off.” For those that travelled in big numbers the thought in the back of the minds was one of anticipation. If you were confronted by another mob that were not going to let you stroll about like you owned the place it was game on in terms of the fighting. Week in week out, lads from all over the country got addicted to the buzz of football adrenaline and fashion changes. Just like youth cults before it, casual was new, exciting, and dangerous and people put a real effort and passion into it.

The early days of the “Football Special” trains.

The casual scene does exist to this day but not in the sense that it once did. Mass production has reduced the quality of a lot of goods and the ability to ship things from all over the world at a click of a button has taken away the one – upmanship that was once the essence of the casual culture.

“Dressers” still attend football matches, listen to decent music and look the part and if anything casual needs more dedication than ever. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen people wearing the same things at football, but I can memorize the amount of times that I have seen the way someone is dressed and football and thought, that person looks smart in every sense. It’s all about being clued up, as they say.

Stone Island – One of the most ubiquitous casual labels.

Casual was also a youth culture that had mass diversity when it came to the music that was in any discerning casual’s collection. I bet if you asked three people who were into the scene in the early 80’s about the music they listened to, you would get three different answers.

Ska, Reggae, Punk, Electro, Oi, Northern Soul, Madchester, Rave, all genres that attracted the casuals. Bands even had casual elements at gigs. The Cockney Rejects had a West Ham Following, The Farm had a huge following in Liverpool, Chelsea fans amongst others loved the early Ska and early Reggae, Cock Sparrer attracted football fans from many different clubs but there was one band that unified casuals more than any – The Jam.

The Jam had the lot. They looked sharp, had a style that set them apart and most importantly, they were brimming with vitriolic anger and were 100% working class. The Jam crossed paths with the Skins, Punks, Mods, Casuals and Soul Boys and to be honest, I can’t think of a band in history that had an audience as diverse as The Jam. The Jam are and were the ultimate casuals band. What was to follow would change it all.

The Jam. “Life is new and there’s things to be done”.

In the late 80’s, the rave scene came along and the casuals found a different reason to travel the length and breadth of the country. It wasn’t a new cup competition, it was dancing rather than fighting that was on the agenda. The ‘top boys’ from football firms all around the country started attending and putting on raves. People that were once fighting on the terraces were now hugging in fields.

From tooled up to loved up.

The drug ecstasy started a new wide-eyed revolution and the thought of getting up for a football match after dancing for ten hours or more was becoming less appealing for most. Dropping an’E’ and raving to acid house music became the craze of the 90’s and again the police got involved. 20,000 people dancing to thumping music in a field, whilst taking drugs was too much again for those in power. Add a sleepy farmer waking up to bass and bleeps at three in the morning, co-operation was thin on the ground. Middle England was up in arms, yet again.

The Criminal Justice bill was introduced in the early 90’s to quash any illegal events that were taking place in the UK and the rights of anyone meeting in groups for any public activity was becoming harder.

The Rave scene in its original state was put to bed and to anyone that was there at the start, it felt like it never recovered.

A common site at most grounds these days.

The Criminal Justice Bill included something that spelt trouble for anyone involved in football related violence going into the mid 90’s and beyond. The Section 60, which increased police powers of unsupervised “stop and search” was introduced. The police now had the power to take photographs of known football firms and banning orders and prison sentences were the final death knell for anyone involved in football related instances from the early 90’s onwards. Put a CCTV camera on every street corner and the risk for most now outweighed the buzz of the original football scene. For many the game is over but for others the adrenaline is as pure as it always was…

“We’re the stars of CCTV.”

In the next part of this feature, I decided to speak to some of the people that were involved in the casual scene in the 80’s

Starting with Cass Pennant, who was part of West Ham’s Inter City Firm and was in and around the subculture from the start. Cass has written numerous related football books, had a film about his life made and most recently released a DVD on casual culture itself, ‘Casuals.’

Looking back, how has the casual scene changed and personally do you think it is still alive and kicking today? 

“The original casual scene at its height and will always be the tennis wear heyday from 81-84, then came the rave era in 87, that started and was the blowing out of the casual scene until the Stone Island, Burberry and Aquascutum baseball cap wearing 90s which was finally for me when the entire North were all dressing and going to England games.

Not much changed, except the loss of hair and expanding waistbands until the vision of Neil Primet started a retro clothing company called ’80’s Casual Classics’ after noticing old skool casuals had used E-Bay to locate the finest gear we ever wore in the 80’s and now its all relevant today with all those 80’s brands back on our high streets. It should never be too mainstream for some of us, but the big difference is, nobody is following anyone as to what is in or out, it’s really personal choice and also the joy of getting gear in XL and XXL, which being a original fashion of youth is something of a big give-away as to who are the real authentic wearers. Another give-away is a white sole on your Diadora Borg Elite or Adidas Forest Hills trainers.

Cass Pennant with Peter Hooton from The Farm.

What music were you listening to at the time of the casual movement?

The early London football casual scene was sort of 78-80 and so diverse musically and because you had these different and rival subcultures driven by youth that used their UB40 cards to get into gigs cheaper, or they became of part of a band entourage by being roadies, or even forming their own bands. The transit hire van would stop off somewhere from an away match to catch a band on tour and depending who it was they’d be following that scene for next few games. The East End boys did them all, from Sham 69, The Jam, Cockney Rejects and the mod revival going on at the Bridge House in Canning Town – this was the Newham area lads, the Essex lads were far older, they were still Floyd, Zepp’ and pub venues that played classic rock, while the non-East London West Ham lads I knew were very much ‘soul boys’ that followed the Ilford, Canvey Island and Southend club scenes. The Lyceum ballroom I avoided, as much of the West End had North and South London football lads.

My stand alone memory of the time, was a transit drive to Madrid for Castilla v West Ham in the Cup Winners Cup. Everyone took their own cassette tapes and having won the FA Cup beating Arsenal, the Cockney Rejects tracks ‘Bubbles’ and ‘West Side Boys’ were all the rage. Then Grant Fleming forced on pirate tracks of an Irish band he said was U2 -total different sound to anything we had heard and continued plays had everyone blown away by time we drove into Madrid.

The East End was now turning to disco pubs from Stratford to Bethnal Green full of posers but wearing your MA jacket to football and then going to gigs was still all about being a tasty geezer. Then the pirate soul radio of JFM and Horizon etc exploded around the same time. The younger football lads I call the ‘Thatcher’s children’ started to put the colour into Casual, with the track tops, fraying the Lois cord bottoms and diamond Pringle jumpers. By the time I’d come out of doing remand and then a prison sentence from 81 and’82, that one-time geezer crew had firmly got into Jazz funk, Brit funk and into birds. Great days for the music of Southern Freez, Beggar & co, Shakatak, all them – never forget it. We all went to the same places but like as one now, with the black lads from Leytonstone and Canning town all properly on the firm.

The Cockney Rejects. The pride of the East End.

Why do you think casuals had such a diverse taste in music considering most youth movements stuck to one or two genres?

The football lads would often be the influential in crowd by nature but on the terraces it’s a gathering of various groups with the common ground being supporters of the same team. Travel had opened up to be affordable with firms now travelling to the game and for some of us it had become part of the day and adventure. Going to different towns taught you about different music scenes on a regular basis. Before that, youth sub-cultures remained regional and only ventured out on bank holidays, or to venues and gigs that entertained only their own sub-culture, while the football casual scene was a sub-culture born off the terraces and unlike every movement before it was not coming from music. Think about it, the teddy boys hit off from rock & roll, the original skins, it was from the reggae, mods from beat clubs, soul boys South and North came from the club scene and the punks from punk music. The casuals never came from any music link, so it was always going to out last the movements that created their scene from the music and die with it the moment it becomes mainstream.

Freez and their brand of funky dance.

What were your favourite items of clothing during the casual era and your worst?

The distinct black and white dog tooth patterned full length beltless Burberry mac that I wore in the Hooligan documentary about the ICF in the 1984-5 season. Same film that I bellowed out the now infamous quote of , “Kiddie Firm” to the Chelsea hordes on the train opposite us wearing a bright blue Burberry short Harrington style jacket. Both these items were unique and one-offs for their colour and pattern, because at the time the tin-tack macs were like FBI style coats in only navy or beige, same with their jackets. The bright blue Burberry I acquired from Spanish mainland while on a day trip shopping from the fighting going on in Magaluf between rival English football firms. The overcoat mac was from Burberry and sold as a one-off design they were not going to run with.

My film production ‘Casuals’ has everyone wanking over their trainers and what must my pair of size 12, all white Ellesse, long pointy nose shape that the lads called my “torpedoes” think? They had the Ellesse badge protruding out on the back of the heel. They were from Europe, from a thieving trip by the Under-Fives who could not find anyone in the pub that was a size 12. By the time they came to me, I knew the reason and would only part with a fiver to teach the thieves a lesson (rob a popular size next time). Never ever in all my travels saw another pair anywhere in the country, I got ribbed for their shape that made them look size a 15 but boy was they the softest leather trainer ever. If I knew the name (That’s the trouble when gear comes unboxed) I would have searched high and low on E-Bay today-they would be worth a mint.

Burberry was the order of the day.

Which songs would you choose to sum up the casual era of the 80’s?

The Whispers – And the Beat Goes On, because of a mental mad weekend in Blackpool with the young ICF. We had it with groups of Burnley, Man Utd, Leeds, Celtic and everywhere we went, one of us had to carry the portable double-decker tape player that everyone called, (totally politically incorrect to say now) ‘Ghetto Blasters’. Our escape was made from the guest-house when word came back to us that all these firms were now joining up looking for West Ham Cockneys. So after a mad dash, we enter the station running, where we came across Man City and Wigan having it. Decide now, wait for the train, or pick a side and join the fight? Wigan outnumbered, so we sided with them and saw City off. Wigan and West Ham on same train and buddies now, then as we approach near Crewe, the Wigan we had helped, they try turn on us… Which was a big mistake.

The same Whispers track (pre-release off pirate radio) was on continuous play on this massive silver double deck tape recorder and someone commented and we all nodded in agreement that the film ‘The Warriors’ had nothing on us as the Inter-City hurtled back South. That song and weekend summed up a dawn of the casual in West Ham ranks. A young crew of unknowns, dressed like London spivs and fought like gangsters, that had gone from Cockney Rejects into Jazz funk and soul overnight – like Jam to Style Council, plus this new attitude of have money and will travel together and with the Thatcher attitude that everything starts and ends at London. These boys emerging were like all mini guv’nors.

The Whispers – And the Beat Goes on.

The North’s liking for the electro beat bands never really did it for our lot but if it had a terrace anthem edge to it like ‘Don’t you Want Me Baby’ byThe Human League they would be in on the sing-along, but if I go back to Brit-Funk outfit Freez when in ’83 their video I.O.U was first seen. The casuals I knew were quick to notice the Sergio Tacchni wear, with the split frayed Lois jeans and cords worn by the kids body-popping in the video, wearing Nike Wimbledon’s and Adidas Samba.

An absolute classic. This was the future.

Cass’ casuals DVD is well worth a watch for anyone interested in this subject matter and is available on DVD now.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Casuals-DVD-Peter-Hooton-narration/dp/B005GKYNOI

The next person for the interview treatment was Garry Bushell. Garry wrote for the music paper Sounds in the 80’s and was one of few mainstream journalists aware of casual culture and the people and music involved.

When did you first become aware of the casual movement, as at the time I think you were writing for Sounds?

The Casuals were a terrace phenomenon, they incubated in and around football grounds, so it was predominantly a working class thing and I really became aware of it around 1980/81. The people who became those first Casuals had been Mods, and skinheads, and Glory Boys who I knew. It grew out of other working class cults

At football matches, the police were looking for crops and DMs not blokes in Farahs and trainers with wedge haircuts and too much jewellery; so Casual made sense

The papers were still going on about skinheads for years after the real terrace hooligans had moved on

You put the band Accent on the front cover, which at the time caused quite a stir. Basically, from what I know, seeing a group of smartly dressed lads on the front of a rock magazine was not in keeping with ethos of Sounds. What attracted you to the band?

Sounds had a Mod sensibility at its core, and there are huge parallels between Mod in the sixties and Casual in the early eighties. Think about it, the love of clothes, and looking good, the love of black music, fighting and the odd line of sulphate. They’re the same thing a generation apart. And both were driven by the need to be the best, to be the ace face.

I didn’t go out looking for a casual band, but I had my ear to the ground in those days and I was listening out for anything new and interesting.

Why do you think there were not that many bands that calling themselves “casual”?

When people talk about Mod bands they talk about rock bands like The Who, and the Small Faces, but the music Mods listened to was predominantly black soul music. With the first modernists it was jazz, but then it was Motown and Stax and early Ska. Mods had been going for years before the Who had their first hit. And it felt the same with the first Casuals who were in to black music to begin with. Knowing the roots of the cult, I would have expected a casual band to be a direct descendent of a band like The Jam – that combination of smartness, good tunes and lyrical sharpness. Although having said that, the first band who dressed like Casuals were the East End Badoes from Poplar who played fairly raucous Oi music. They were formed by Skully from West Ham and Terry Hayes who was Millwall, but their career went down the gurgler….

The EEB’s are back! 

Were you surprised at the diversity of the musical tastes of the football crowd?

No, even the people who followed the Cockney Rejects at the start had widely varied musical tastes; people are rarely as easily pigeon-holed as they’d appear to be on the surface

Casual wasn’t music based. I think Casuals were a movement based around fashion, which incubated around football terraces. Suddenly the West Side and The Shed became the cat walks! and the first Casuals valued the hottest new black music : jazz funk and early rap

Derek B. This track blew open the UK rap scene. 

Which three songs, sum up the casual era for you?

From a rock point of view, All Together Now by The Farm, We Are Lost by Accent, The Way It’s Gotta Be by the East End Badoes… although there are jazz-funk songs that touched many more people than the Badoes ever did! More Casuals had heard of Harvey Mason and Bobby Lyle than Terry Hayes, much as I love him.

The Farm – All Together Now

To sum it up. How would you describe the casual movement from a personal point of view?

Casual was about looking good, and being hard and sharp. It wasn’t set in time, it was an evolving look, that started with Lacoste, Slazenger and Pringle and developed into the most exclusive ski wear they could get their hands on. The problem for bands like Accent was by the time they’d come through, most of the actual casuals had moved away from designer labels.

http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/

Next up is self-proclaimed former casual and one time member of the casual band Accent, Mick Habenshaw Robinson.

How did you get into the casual scene?
Living in Fulham it was all around – local pubs/ clubs but primarily football. Chelsea was my team. Spotting diamond Pringles, deerstalkers etc.
The legendary Pringle.
Where were you buying your clothes from at the time and what clothes labels do you like these days.
Stuarts in Sheperds Bush mainly but also Aquasctum, Scotch House , Later on Gee2. Now it’s Ralp Lauren, Westwood, Lacoste and Billionaire Boys Club.
How did the band Accent form and what were your influences?
We were all friends and had been in different bands who kind of
grouped together. Brian (singer) and me were the  original and regular members and wrote the songs. Steve, on guitar, was an old mate from school days, Chris, the drummer, was through an advert in a music paper. Influences were The Jam, punk and post punk bands.
How many releases did the band have and how many gigs did you play and was the response to the band positive?  
One single, 50 odd gigs, built up a following and always had a positive/lively response. It got to the stage where we could fill the Fulham Greyhound.
Accent – We are lost.
What bands/artists were you listening to during that period?
The Jam, Clash, New Order I was also getting into soul (through the Jam b-sides initially) some electro as well.
What were your favourite items of clothing at the time and which ones do you think were the worst?
Deer stalkers, I still think that was an amazing sight, the early diamond Pringle jumpers and Trim Trabb trainers.
Personally, I never liked the Bennetton rugby shirts.
The Deerstalker. Yes, these were the rage.
Do you think the casual scene exits still, in any shape or form, or is it all just a re-hash of what went before?
In the ‘Casuals’ DVD it showed the kids who are currently  into the casual/ mod crossover which was nice. I think the knock on effect of casuals is still around, but as a movement, no. There is a cut off age for wearing tracksuits. Ha-ha.
What is your best memory of that Era?
Playing at Chelsea, appearing on the cover of Sounds, Gary Bushell
reviewing our gigs and deer stalker hats! The buzz at football too, it was exciting and also extremely passionate.

Accent’s gig at Stamford Bridge.

What was the reaction to the band after you appeared on the cover of Sounds?
In the Sounds it was awful, they were trad’ rock based. The readers couldn’t stand it all. They hated casuals and football. It did get more people at our gigs and led to an interest from big record labels, although we didn’t get signed.
Did Casual influence in you in any way as you got older and left the scene?

Yes, the attitude and confidence that looking smart can give you and the desire to dress up and wanting to improve yourself in appearance. I always head straight for the Lacoste Shop at the airport, even if I don’t buy anything – just looking in awe at all different colours you can get in a polo shirt.  Ditto with Ralph Lauren. If i’m ever in New York , seeing all the cheap Ralphie gear, I am literally in heaven.

The Lacoste polo shirt. Never out of fashion.

Next up I asked Danny Brown AKA  ‘Black Danny’ who was in Aston Villa’s C-Crew a few questions. Danny wrote a book on his exploits following Villa called ‘Villians’ and was in and around the casual scene as it took off.

When did you first notice the casual scene taking off and where?

I first noticed the casual scene in 1980 with lads kitted out at London clubs in Fred Perry shirts. The following years Manchester and Liverpool lads had a fusion of clothing that was second to none.

How deeply were you into the casual clothes and what were you wearing at the time?

Early 80s when Villa where playing in Europe, I would spend a good deal of time in France and Italy getting those sought after items of clothing such as Lacoste, Fila and Tacchini, which couldn’t be bought in the UK at the time.

What were your favourite items of clothing from that era and the ones you really didn’t like?

My favourite items of clothing; Adidas track suits, samba trainers and Slazenger jumpers. I didn’t like classic Kickers shoes or Ben Sherman shirts.

Adidas Samba. A terrace legend.

What music were you listening to at the time and did you go to a lot of gigs?

Mixed with the rave scene and street culture of the era, I was also into Reggae, Jazz Funk, Rap, R&B.  I went to many gigs all over the country; my favourite club was The Haçienda inManchester. The Haçienda was labelled the most famous club in the world by Newsweek magazine.

If one club defined the 80’s it was Manchester’s Haçienda.

Do you think the casual scene has survived or do you think it’s past its best?

The casual scene is still alive and kicking, though I’d say the format is watered down.

Give us three songs that sum up the era for you?

The Clash – Armagideon Time. Grandmaster Flash – The Message. Dennis Brown – Stop Your Fighting.

The streets of America came to the charts. A timeless 80’s classic.

Do you still go to football much these days and how do you view the modern game with all the SKY TV and multi-Millions of pounds spent on players?

Yes I still go to most home matches atVilla Park, and meet up with the same lads on a Saturday afternoon. Things have changed massively to the extent it’s a different place, with modern stands and building going up left right and centre. If you look at the rate of development within most football grounds, they are almost unrecognizable from the grounds I went to in the 80’s. In some way it’s a shame, but you can’t expect fans to watch Premiership football in an undeveloped ground in these modern times. As for the Sky Sports and the multi-millions of pounds spent on players, to be fair, I don’t blame the players. I hope the people who run the FA have a plan B if Sky Sports decides not to renew contracts.

Lastly, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in helping with this feature.  Without the help of Cass Pennant, Garry Bushell Mick Robinson and ‘Black Danny’ most of this would have have remained an idea. Cheers and thank you for your help and support.

Footnote: This was written out of a sheer a passion for football, music and clothing. I would never claim to be an ‘expert’ on any of these subjects but I have always loved all three and I hope this feature conveys those feelings and emotions that I have felt for the last three decades.

Here are some links relevant to all the subjects covered in this feature.

Clothing:

http://www.80scasualclassics.co.uk/index.php

http://www.stuartslondon.com/

http://www.trainerstation.com/

http://www.bbclothing.co.uk

http://www.peacefulhooligan.co.uk

Author websites:

http://www.casspennant.com/

http://www.blackdanny.co.uk/

http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/

Music:

http://www.radioreverb.com/index.php?id=169

The above is Mick Robinson’s radio show. Seriously, this is the best radio show there is!

General sites of interest:

http://www.terracelinks.info/

http://casualcoblog.blogspot.com/