You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Friday, 13 July 2012


Hate To Say I Told You So

After playing The HivesHate To Say I Told You So yesterday (12 June), Radcliffe and Maconie on 6 Music discussed how the band were never likely to make it big, because bands with gimmicks never do.

Stuart said they were never likely to achieve the five-star reviews Jack White is currently enjoying, comparing them as The Hives and The White Stripes came onto the scene around the same time.

In reply to Stuart’s assertion, I tweeted him to point out that The White Stripes clearly had gimmicks of their own, with both the sibling ‘story’ and the red, white and black uniform outfits.

You can hear Mark and Stuart acknowledging my tweet on air below (apologies for the strange beach noises Mark chooses to play in the middle) and it got me thinking, do bands with gimmicks ever make it big?

The brother/sister White Stripes tale is still brought up, even now that Jack White is an all-conquering solo artist, but how important has that story and the subsequent reaction to the truth been to his career?

It seems to be a trade off. While some bands can become huge directly through their gimmick, they will likely never been taken seriously, as Stuart said. However, would they swap that for the possible obscurity that having no gimmick could have left them with? I doubt it.

The Hives’ gimmick wasn’t a particularly strong or unusual one. Wearing matching, often smart, outfits has been done by hundred of bands. I wouldn’t say it did The Hives any good or any harm. The reason they didn’t become as big as The White Stripes is that they are simply not as talented.

So which gimmicks have worked, or at least been the most infamous?

One band Mark and Stuart discussed, and perhaps the most famous gimmick in music history, is Kiss’ make up. Their made up faces have inspired a line of merchandise that far outweighs their musical output and, while they are considered a joke by many, they managed to set themselves apart in a genre as expansive as a pair of leather trousers.

Likewise, Gorillaz are at then end of the day a fairly average alternative band (except for On Melancholy Hill, which is extraordinary). But, by being the world’s first mainstream virtual band, they were at once distinctive and attention grabbing. But have they ever been any more?

OK Go revived their career somewhat with their clever, but gimmicky, homemade videos, winning a Grammy and a load more fans in the process. The attention soon faded though.

My favourite band Radiohead have also demonstrated a few gimmicks in recent times, with the name your own price scheme for the In Rainbows release and The Universal Sigh newspaper that coincided with The King of Limbs. Whether they are gimmicks or genuine attempts to be innovative and interesting is up for debate. Either way, when you have a back catalogue like theirs, you can pretty much do what you want, and both were considered a success.

And maybe that’s the point, if you’re music is good, you can do what you want. If it isn’t, while you can do things to get more attention, you will never be a better band.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Autoheart - The Sailor Song

My 60th, and current, Jam is The Sailor Song, which has a rather strange history. Originally released as the debut single of The Gadsdens in 2009, it received rave reviews, being championed by Q, The Guardian and The Telegraph, as well as airplay on Radio 2 and 6 Music. In 2011, having released no further music, The Gadsdens became Autoheart, and still the wait for more music as blindingly beautiful as this song goes on. I heard this recently through its ongoing exposure on 6 Music, and it has quickly cemented itself as one of my favourite songs. While half of me is thankful for such a song, the other half desperately longs for more from this clearly talented band. Still, it won't be easy to top this.


After posting a link to this blog on Twitter yesterday, I received the following lovely response from Autoheart, and it's good news, with an album completed and on the way soon. The guys were even nice enough to give me a RT :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Tom Williams and The Boat

I was admittedly late to get on board with Tom Williams and The Boat, when excellent single and title track of their second album Teenage Blood landed earlier in 2012.

Their new single Too Young recently made the A list on 6 Music and is a perfectly pacey and perky three minutes of angsty pop-rock, despite its realistic subject matter. Containing Tom’s compelling vocals and buoyant guitar lines throughout, the song is also perfectly complemented by an excellent animated video.

After making Too Young my latest jam, effectively my favourite song of the moment, Tom tweeted me to say thanks, and even graciously agreed to a quick interview for Something for the CV.

CV: So Tom, this interview came about after you contacted a fan, and you’ve said before the more bands can interact with their fans the better, so where do you draw the line?

TW: It doesn't have to be a constant, 'Just sat down on the loo' approach, it's just that there are some bands that obviously have their labels running their Facebook and Twitter feeds. I find that pretty unacceptable, kind of abhorrent, I mean how much do you care about what you do?

CV: Does it remove the elusive mysticism and folklore that many of your own musical idols (Dylan, Springsteen) have? Is that even possible to have in the digital age?

TW: I think you can still muster that if your material is strong enough, but I know what you mean, it's a trade off. Springsteen was always the Blue Collar storyteller and so did trade off his 'accessibility' to an extent, but obviously this was way before the age of social media. Dylan, Zeppelin, all the opposite... Mustering an air of mystique is one thing, and being so absent from your own work that people forget you're there, is potentially a different part of the same side of the coin.

CV: You used PledgeMusic to fund your album, was that the best way for you to keep your fans involved as much as possible? Do you think Bob or Bruce would have used it in their early days?

TW: I think Dylan wouldn't but I think Bruce might have, or at least I think fans would presume he would, whichever is more important. I loved the experience, and the guys at Pledge are really genuinely enthused and excited about what they do. I think it massively benefited us, and made the whole album campaign very special indeed.

"There are some bands that obviously have their labels running their Facebook and Twitter feeds. I find that pretty unacceptable, kind of abhorrent."

CV: On to the new single Too Young, which contains the line 'I think we're too young, to really know what's going on', do you think that applies to bands, including your own?

TW: Not so much for bands no, often I think the younger the better! There's a certain disregard for influences when you're younger which is so refreshing. I think nowadays, and it's something central to Pledge, bands need to really know how to do everything themselves and that includes booking gigs, designing websites, making t-shirts, duplicating CDs, recording music, syncing mailing lists, communicating with fans and a million other things. It requires an entrepreneurial and intuitive spirit to drag yourself above the rest.

CV: Finally, you’re from Tunbridge Wells, recently chosen for the Grayson Perry C4 documentary as the best place to learn about the middle classes, do fans and critics have a preconceived notion about you based on where you come from?

TW: I'm not sure, and if they do I certainly don't take much notice! Tunbridge Wells has the fantastic Tunbridge Wells Forum, which actually just won the NME Best UK Small Venue award. The venue has always struggled for the sake of local bands having somewhere to play a loud rock show. There are plenty of loungey, acoustic type venues about but the Forum is one of a kind, and having toured the UK in similarly sized venues, we're very lucky indeed to have it.

I played my first gig at the Forum and the guys there put me in the studio for the first time aged 19, so they've helped massively. They also helped fund the vinyl run for the first album 'Too Slow', so I really can't thank them enough.

Tom Williams and The Boat are playing a number of festival dates over the summer, and album Teenage Blood is available now.