April 3rd 2012

Eaux is a new band formed from the still pulsating remains of the amazing Sian Alice Group. My friend Ben is in the band and so I asked him some questions about the band and then put the answers up here on this blog. There are loads of great band recommendations for anyone old (34) like me who has no idea what music to listen to anymore.

So Ben, the Sian Alice Group is sadly no more. Tell us what happened, in full gory detail, and then tell us about your new band, Eaux.
Sorry, but there are no gory details – no blood, guts, gossip or nothing. It came down to ‘musical differences’ – we were working on a third SAG record and it was clear that Sian, Stephen and I were pulling in one direction and Rupert in another. That usually leads to something new and interesting … but better to get on with what makes you happy and remain friends rather than bash heads. So, Eaux was born.

Eaux is a nice and simple name for a band.
It was suggested by our friend Lydia. I like how it looks and sounds – O. I’ve always liked the bastardisation of French words without the ‘le’ or ‘la’, like the classic clothing label Oeuf, often seen on the chest of Thomas Rothwell. I always look at possible band name fonts, and Eaux is a good word to work with. Nice on badges and records and tees; artwork always goes hand in hand with the music for me.

Are you still working with Social Registry?
Not exactly – they are on a little hiatus in a way, but still releasing awesome records by Zs and Sleepy Doug. Jim from TSR is also running a label called Playbutton – the music is on a pin badge player that you plug your headphones into. Music you wear, that’s all about the artwork again.

Give us a good story from your tour with Florence and the Machine. Something controversial that will get people reading this blog. People who aren’t graphic designers.
No comment. There’s a lot, nothing crazy juicy though. Missed ferries, baltic sea frozen, all snow related incidents – it was two years ago [shows how much I keep up with these things] and the whole of Europe was frozen. Oh yeah, I nearly died in Oslo. I got flattened by a lump of snow and ice that fell from the roof seven storeys above me. I suffered constant migraines for six months after that and couldn’t work out why. Then I remembered the accident.

You shot a Sian Alice Group video (Dusk Line) on the same camera as was used to film the Cramps at Napa Valley. How important are The Cramps to you?
Yes, same camera as William Eggleston used on Stranded in Canton. The Cramps are one of the greatest ever bands. They sound like balloons of whippets. First time I heard and saw them, I thought they were from 1950s outer space. Which they sort of were I suppose …

What were your best records of 2011?
I really liked the About Group record, Oneohtrix’s Replica, the Blanck Mass record, both the Cass McCombs records. Eye Contact by Gang Gang Dance had some great jams. I got a soft spot for the Real Estate album. Let England Shake was pretty brilliant too, her ATP show was magical.

Who should we listen to in 2012 apart from you?
I’m interested to hear the Chris & Cosey & Nik Void record, new Beak> record, heard some demos of the next Fuck Buttons record and that sounds incredible. I just got the Mr Maxted record on Mordant, that’s killer. It’s a reissue though, does that count? Oh yeah, very excited for the new Black Dice record, of course.

Where are you playing next?
At the moment, we’re booked to play in Manchester on the 6th May, on the Drowned In Sound stage at the Sounds From The Other City festival. We’re hopefully announcing some other shows soon.

When did you stop wearing a Stone Roses T-shirt and are you going to go and see the resurrected band?
I made my own the week the first record came out as they were impossible to get. That didn’t last too long, so probably by ’91 it was well over for me. That Reading Festival show officially killed it for me. I’m not a huge fan of bands reforming in general. I’ve seen some amazing shows by reformed dudes. But they didn’t have Ian Brown singing.

Listen to Eaux’s demos here

POSTED BY: Patrick at 12:33 PM
Filed Under: Friends, Music

Jean Machine – The Devil is in the Details
April 2nd 2012

We asked Greg Eason to illustrate the most important elements of Jean Machine’s debut collection for the Details section of their website. What he delivered really knocked us out – stunning studies in exquisite detail that really added something special to the overall design.

We have recently completed another project with Jean Machine and Greg – more on that soon.

View this project

POSTED BY: nodaysoff at 13:32 PM
Filed Under: Work

Chas Says
February 20th 2012

This episode of Morph was written as a dramatisation of the dissolution of The Velvet Underground (citation needed). Morph plays Lou Reed, still trying to lock into that ol’ rock and roll groove. Chas takes on the part of John Cale, determined to experiment and push the boundaries of what music can be.

POSTED BY: nodaysoff at 14:53 PM
Filed Under: Music, Random

Where were you in ’58?
February 19th 2012

Found on Mark Leckey’s amazing YouTube channel.

Ron Hardy would have loved it.

And if you liked that, you’ll love this.

POSTED BY: Patrick at 17:31 PM
Filed Under: Found, Music

January 24th 2012

When we moved into our new studio, we saw it as a good opportunity to refresh our identity and get some new stationery printed. But we still had a load of our old stationery left, as well as some prints we had made that we wanted to get rid of. Being mindful of waste, we decided to pulp it all in order to make a new batch of paper, and then print our new stationery on that. We saw it as a more direct form of recycling – no middle man involved.

It all seemed pretty abvious to us, but like all seemingly simple ideas, it proved to be less than straightforward. Most of the people we approached said they couldn’t do it. But then Justin at Fenner put us on to Jim Patterson of Two Rivers Paper, and all our paper pulping prayers were answered. Here’s a film of all our old stuff being mashed up.

Adams of Rye completed the project in their usual fine style using traditional hand-set metal type.

Thanks to James Boughen for the factory footage.

Thanks also to Gavin at Creative Review for the write up.

POSTED BY: nodaysoff at 21:09 PM
Filed Under: Print, Work

It’s time to electrocute someone
December 16th 2011

Michael Holden has recently started writing another of his brilliantly funny columns, this time for Vice. You might also have read his All Ears musings in the Guardian Guide, and if you’re a wee bit older you may remember him as an integral part of the original Loaded magazine, back when it was actually interesting and funny and not just full of tits and morons.

Michael once blessed a fanzine I worked on, Full Moon Empty Sports Bag, with some incredible writing about an antisocial man and his struggle with life and the medical profession in particular. The first installment he wrote for us was called ‘Crisp Sucker’s Diary’, which gives a good flavour (boom boom) of the slightly unhinged and darkly hilarious content.

Anyway, it had been a while since we had spoken, and he’s a very interesting person, so I thought I would ask him a few questions and then put the questions and his answers to the questions on this blog. Enjoy!

Hi Michael. Can you give us a song for people to listen to while they read this?

Here – my elder brother had a copy of this, I would have been about ten years old when I heard it and it still sounds amazing to me now.

I remember being in The Griffin many years ago with Steve Cotton, and you told us a great story about when you met John Lydon in LA. Was that when he was doing his real estate thing?
It’s funny, I have no idea what he was actually doing with his time (that’s how focused I am as a journalist). We were just excited to meet up with him, and of course when you do, you have a conversation that, with drink in the equation, takes some strange turns. I’d rather do that than ask someone about their new album. There’s always a writer somewhere doing that. Better for the day and the anecdote if you go off the reservation sometimes.

Did he spit a lot?
He certainly did. Some loyal soul has actually typed out the whole piece and stuck it online. You can read it here. It started with a spit.

What was it like working with Downey Jr on Sherlock Holmes? He kind of messed with some basic historical facts, didn’t he?
It was great, I didn’t spend that much time with him but what I did was memorable, at least to me. It was great, after years of interviewing actors, to work with one on a script instead, and for a movie that actually got made. That was one of the first rewrites I ever did and it gave me a rather skewed perspective of the film business. That picture went from script to screen in no time, a year and a bit – partly because of RDJ’s schedule and also because when Hollywood throws the 100 million dollar plus lever they aren’t going to fuck about. Things get done. There’s a mad pragmatism to it at that level. The rest of the time it’s ‘let’s do lunch, no thanks, maybe next year’. A tremendous amount of time is spent discussing things that will never, ever happen. But when it moves, it moves.

As for messing with historical facts – that’s Hollywood’s job! God knows life’s hard enough. I don’t expect to go to big, tent pole movie and see a faithful rendering of anything. It’s a highlights package, and that’s as it should be. There was a point during development where we knew the big henchman had to be scared of something, have some weakness. Electricity came up. And being new to it all I’m on the Internet fretting about whether such and such an apparatus could have existed in 1891. It doesn’t matter. If it works on screen, if it’s a cinematic way of solving the problem and entertaining people then screw history. It’s time to electrocute someone.

Did you work on the sequel at all?
No. Which is a shame. I would have loved to. Writing dialogue for a character like Holmes is great. Conan Doyle has done all the hard work for you. There’s a few lines in that first movie that I’m very proud of. It’s a great thing to have added to that body of work. Holmes is one of the great creations and I feel very grateful to have had a shot at adding to that. Not unlike playing for England, in writing terms, I like to imagine.

I think a lot of people reading this will know you as the author of All Ears from The Guardian. But can you tell us about your time at Loaded instead? How did the whole thing start, and what was it like working there at the beginning?
James Brown and Tim Southwell were the men who dreamt it up. I was one of the first staff and the youngest, I’d have been 23 at the time. I worked on the dummy issue, and through the launch, then when it was out I stayed for four years. The thing is slightly reviled now, and indeed the whole era (mid 90’s) seems to be at the mercy of revisionists, or people who were unhappy with everything at the time and now feel justified in saying so. The idea of anything ‘meaning’ anything would have been totally alien to me at the time – largely because I was having so much fun. Most of the people that worked on and around the magazine were much more experienced than me, writers, photographers who I’d admired from afar for years in some cases – I was an avid reader of magazines even as a kid. I had done fanzines, and a bit of work for Dazed and Confused in its early days, things like that, but James and loaded were offering a job, wages, a budget. I was on the dole at the time. I grabbed it with both hands. And it was sensational to be in the middle of that. When something succeeds like that did it’s very intoxicating, and there was a lot of that going around to begin with. I learned to write there, went round the world and made strong abiding friendships with people I still see today. It was great.

Do you still keep in touch with My Gay Lamp?
The lamp it was based on, and which starred in the story fell by the wayside some years ago sadly. But its time had come, I’d had it since I was about 14 and there comes a time to set aside the lamps of youth, and walk into Heals like a man. That was where the idea came from, this bedside lamp had seen everything that had happened on and around my mattress for over a decade. I remember waking up one morning, embarrassed about something that had happened and imagining it judging me, and I thought it having this kind of disappointed and slightly disapproving persona, and then I thought it would be nice if it were gay. The rest is history of course. Sometimes I think you only get one, truly great notion in a lifetime, and I think My Gay Lamp may well have been mine. Again, a loyal enthusiast has put some of them online.  I think the one where we go on holiday is my favourite.

Loaded’s club editor, Rowan Chernin, used to run an amazing night called It’s On at Gossips in Soho. Top Tunes, Shit Mixing. Were you a regular?
God yeah. Once a month for seven years I think, give or take. Gossips was a key venue in the history of London clubbing, a tremendous place, now gone. It was chaos in there, and quite silly at times, and not in an ironic way. Just people being very daft. There was one evening when there were some false beards floating about, that’s not a sexual euphemism or a drug reference, I mean actual false beards – quite convincing ones as well. The music would get a bit liberal towards the end of the night and on this beard occasion someone played Zorba The Greek, and I recall dancing to that, in a false beard. And circle of people forming around me, like some sort of hellish wedding. I realise that on paper that might sound bloody awful, but it wasn’t. At that moment, it made sense.

You interviewed Mickey Rourke for Esquire. Have you ever read this Joe Queenan’s Mickey Rourke For A Day?
No, and I haven’t got time now. But I will. I had a curry with Joe Queenan once, he was a good laugh. Very resonant voice – stentorian is the word for it. I’ve always been keen to get to the origin of that word. Was there ever a man called Stentor? How loud was he?

I remember seeing you on one of those talking heads programmes, about the Mini Pops. Did you do any others? How do they work? Do they just ask you questions about lots of unrelated topics and then chop them up for different programmes?
They’re weird those things. I stopped doing them in the end. Obviously you have dominion over what comes out of your mouth, but there’s no telling who else is on before or after you. You run the risk of being surrounded by idiocy – though the same is true of having things in a newspaper to a degree. The experience of watching TV thinking ‘who are these pricks? What do they know about anything’ is even less edifying when you suddenly become one of them. They would very cunningly make a lot of them in the run up to new year, when you’re thinking about tax bills and so forth, a few hundred quid for talking about children’s television can seem like a harmless idea. Actually, if memory serves that was one of the better ones. There are no repeat fees either and they get repeated for years. You’ll get texts from people saying, ‘you’re on TV’, which is momentarily exciting, until you realise Channel 5 are repeating something you made in 2003 in which your hair and clothes now look ridiculous to you – one’s own voice is a constant source of torment, and TV does nothing to assuage that. It’s also a great way to watch yourself age. I would only talk about things I felt I had some knowledge of or sincere opinion about. I had rules. A lot of those shows are just sneering. People ring you up and say, can you say something negative about Jordan for us, we’ll give you £300? I’m proud to say I resisted that one.

You were kind enough to get involved with us when we were doing our zine, Full Moon Empty Sports Bag. Did you collect any ‘proper’ zines when you were younger?
Not really, but again the benefit of older siblings, there were copies of ID in the house back when that was essentially a fanzine. I would see the other fanzines though in record shops, and kind of be scared to admit that I liked them and then start doing my own weird stuff without any idea of where I was headed. In fact that was pretty much my approach to everything for years.

How often do you eat crisps these days?
All too often. I’m depressed by the way that, as with almost everything great about life, crisps have been re-branded and sold back to us at a price as some kind of artisan/rustic fantasy product. See also beer.

Can you recommend a few good books for us? Maybe something seasonal? I’ve been ill a few times lately – maybe some books that involve illness?
Your former Full Moon ally Ian Allison once gave me Journey To The End Of Night by Celine, there’s a tremendous amount of illness in that. Lanark, by Alasdair Gray has some fantastic new illnesses in it, there’s one called ‘Twittering Rigour’ another called ‘Mouths’ in which mouths appear on your body and begin to argue. (it’s set slightly in the future). The most amazing book I found this year was The Book Of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, it was assembled after his death, it’s the jumbled diary/internal monologues of a man who can’t reconcile what he perceives as the grandeur of his imagination to the tedium of the world around him, an issue for many writers I suspect, but conveyed with great poetic force. In times of trouble though I tend to reach for Vonnegut’s Breakfast Of Champions, something like that. Books that remind you of what words and people can really do.

Read Michael’s brilliant column for Vice here
Buy the All Ears book here

POSTED BY: nodaysoff at 16:20 PM
Filed Under: Friends, Interviews

December 6th 2011

Of all the millions of images I’ve ever seen in my life, I think this is my favourite. It’s been hanging on our studio wall for over three years now, and I never get tired of looking at it. Is Goofy on holiday or trapped on a desert island? It looks warm, but he’s trying to heat the sea up with a kettle. He’s dressed for the beach, but he’s got a scarf on. He doesn’t look like he’s on a happy holiday, but he also doesn’t look particularly worried either – just resigned to his sisyphean task.

Here’s a song to listen to while you ponder the meaning of this timeless image. It’s a cover of Neil Young’s Motion Pictures by Mercury Rev. I think Goofy could relate to it.


POSTED BY: Patrick at 20:03 PM
Filed Under: Random

Stanley Kubrick’s New York
November 29th 2011

With some of the most visually stunning movies ever made in his oeuvre, it’s no surprise that Stanley Kubrick was also a dab hand with a good old stills camera.

Kubrick started working as a photo-journalist at Look magazine aged only 16, and carried a camera with him at all times, sometimes shooting through a hole in a paper bag.

A limited run of prints is available to buy here.

POSTED BY: Patrick at 15:23 PM
Filed Under: Seen

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