Friday, 13 November 2015

The Guitaraculas.....New LP 'Two Bottles Of Blood'

Available here :
The amazingly awesome GUITARACULAS have an LP out at last and it's on our very own Trash Wax label....for those of you who may not be familiar with The Guitaraculas or Messer Chups (the over talented Oleg Gitarkin plays in both) they're a Russian band taking Rockabilly and Surf into some pretty damned interesting places ! It's not easy for these guys to get together very often as Oleg is based in St Petersburg, Sasha in London and Rockin' Eugene is in Moscow and the Sax player is in The Netherlands somewhere so any chance of catching them live really shouldn't be missed !
This album very nearly didn't happen at all as Oleg explains it developed out of what was more or less a jam session....The CD release of the album was released in Russia on Oleg's label 'Gitaracula Records' with completely different mixes than the tracks on this lovely vinyl release. Here's what Oleg had to say in a recent interview for Mad Music For Bad People magazine (highly recommended incidently). I just think that these guys are the dog's bollox and if you need any more convincing just checkout the video below of 'Vampira's Curse'....Pure Magic !

Video for 'Love's Secret Domain' :

- Who are The Guitaraculas and where are they based ?
Initially we started off as a duo – myself, Oleg Guitaracula of Messer Chups on guitar and my friend Sasha Bassferatu of an old Russian 80’s goth band on bass and vocals (he also appeared as The Voxter on Messer Chups’ Heretic Channel album). I live in St. Petersburg, Russia and Sasha lives in the UK, in Manchester. Later, Ir  Vendermeulen ( who incidentally lives in Amsterdam), became our saxophone player. Recently, we grew into a four piece – we got Rockin’ Eugen from Moscow on drums. So, as you can see, we are an international outfit really.

Different artwork for the Russian CD (rear).
- When did The Guitaraculas first start and why ?
About a year ago, in November of 2013 to be precise, Sasha was visiting St. Petersburg and we decided to do a cover of Coil – just the two of us you know? We got ourselves into a studio and ended up doing an albums worth of tracks. I had some riffs and half-finished pieces, plus a few complete songs. Sasha added some lyrics where they were needed, and we kinda “kept the tape rolling” – know what I mean? I asked Ir to add some sax, theremin vox  and I also played the drums on the original recording. Then I spent ages mixing the thing – between other work and touring with Messer Chups etc. 

The Linkster !
- Describe The Guitaraculas sound and what are their influences ? Where does the inspiration come from ?
Its basically the 60’s surf with some hot-rod, rockabilly, horror and any other retro psychotronic trash thrown into – you name it. We are influenced by many - From Link Wray and The Cramps to Ministry and Coil, from Henry Mancini and John Barry to Bauhaus and Nick Cave. 
- Are The Guitaraculas and The Bonecollectors related ?
Not at all, these are two very different projects.

I just like this poster !
- What is the 'Scene' like in Russia for bands such as The Guitaraculas ?
There isn’t such a thing as “retro” scene in Russia, not in the terms as it is in Europe. In big towns like Moscow and St. Petersburg there is a reasonable niche for this sort music, although it’s admittedly a far narrower gap than say in Spain. But it’s always been like this – in “retro cultural” aspects Russia is quite behind such countries. We do have some rockabilly and psychobilly bands and some surf and garage bands (they are all decent musicians, to extend) – but the situation with clubs is dire. That is probably why initially, The Guitaraculas didn’t plan to play live, but with addition of a drummer I think we just might. I reckon we may prove a good draw, purely on the connection with Messer Chups if anything else.    

Video For 'Vampira's Curse' :
- What are the plans for future Guitaraculas releases ? More albums ? singles ?
I think we are slowly gearing up for a second album. We did some video shooting this summer – there will be two new videos of us on You-tube pretty soon. One is a full blown trash overtake of the Coil number – Love’s Secret Domain. The other is going to be an upgraded version of Vampira’s Curse. So look out. 

- Apart from playing in Russia are there any plans to take The Guitaraculas on tour to Europe ?
Anything is possible. The trouble is we all live so far apart, we don’t even rehearse regularly, but if there are offers we might do it – why not?

- Can you tell us or recommend other bands which are similar to The Guitaraculas ?
Why, of course, the Messer Chups, haha ))))

- Anything you would like to say or add in closing?
There will be a double cd release in Australia soon – one disc will be a Messer Chups album and the other The Guitaraculas.  I have remixed it for the occasion – asked our drummer to overdub my original drumming (I was never happy with it). The album seems to be doing seriously well, considering we basically recorded it to amuse ourselves. But then, this is quite a common thing with many interesting objects d’art isn’t it?

Big thanks to Oleg & Sasha.

BUY THE ALBUM HERE :   or just email me at the address above.

Stay Sick Kiddies !

Sunday, 8 November 2015

THE SHOCKWAVES.....Trash blast from the past ! By Dan Whaley.

Now here's a thing, this whole 80's, UK 'Trash' scene thing has started throwing up some remarkable material since we've been digging past the more obvious suspects such as The Sting Rays, Tall Boys, Milkshakes, The Vibes, Surfadelics & even The Cannibals. And by far one of the most interesting to have come crawling out from some dark and dingey garage are The Shockwaves, not only is their sound fair amazing and deserving of a far greater audience but they all went on to significantly contribute to the various burgeoning scenes that came in the wake of the late 80's.
Dan Whaley, upside down, left handed Bassist extraordinaire, late of The Diaboliks and sometime Bassmeister for The Dustophonics gives us the inside tale of The Shockwaves of which he was a founding on and enjoy !


(New?!? Album due out on Trash Wax Records late 2015!!!)
The Shockwaves were :

Mark Ashdown - Vocals, Guitar 84-88
Dave "Stick" Carroll - Guitar 84-86
Clive Pearman - Guitar 86-88
Dan Whaley - Bass 84-88
Jon Delafons - Drums 84-88

But first of all, back to the mid 80s.

(l-r: Me, Stick, Jon, Mark)
It all started in leafy West Kent sometime back in 1984: a bunch of teenagers with little or no interest in the mainstream music of their generation, and brought up instead on a diet of punk, rock'n'roll, garage and noise decided to pick up instruments and give it a bash themselves. Following a few personnel changes (hello and indeed goodbye Al Cormack and Andy Crane), and bandname changes (by summer 84 we'd settled on The Untold), the line-up coalesced around Mark on vocals and guitar, Stick on other guitar, me on bass and Jon on drums.
With the addition of Stick (2nd right), now definitely a Garage(door) Band
Rehearsal tapes from the time (usually recorded round at a parents' house with guitars, bass and vocal and drum mics all going through a hifi system or home organ, with the unsurprising detrimental effects on said "amplification" equipment) suggest we were quite heavily influenced by The Fall around then.

By late 1985 a final name change meant we were now The Shockwaves, and the influences had shifted more towards the 80s trash scene, especially The Vibes & The Purple Things, whose vocal stylings, filthy guitar tone, jazz-inflected rhythms and high-rise barnets we joyfully appropriated.

By early 86, we had amassed a set, roughly half of which were originals and the other half covers, and were ready to play out first gig. The top local venue of the time was The Cavern, beneath Sevenoaks cinema, where we were booked to play supporting local public school rockabilly combo The Memphis Rockets. This being my first ever time on stage, I was nervous as hell, and things looked far from rosy when I slung my bass over my shoulder and the strap promptly broke. This was followed up by me picking up a can of beer with trembling hands, popping it open, and getting a jet of foam square in the mush.

However, it all got better from that point on, no doubt helped by the fact that all our mates were there to cheer us on for our first gig. What also helped was the 2 narcissistic guitarists from the Memphis Rockets decided to engage in onstage fisticuffs as each thought the other was trying to upstage him. The entire audience, and for that matter the Rockets' bass player (top chap Gav Smith, nowadays with The Urban Voodoo Machine) and drummer quite rightly derided these two preening buffoons, and totally unprompted by us, starting chanting "Shockwaves! Shockwaves!" which succeeded in making them even more irate.

Following another gig at Kemsing's St Edith's Hall (bizarrely I've been back there recently to the folk club there...), we decided we could do with beefing up the guitar sound, so we drafted in Clive from pals The Dangerman, and Mark concentrated on singing. A recently unearthed bootleg of the first gig as a 5 piece from 23rd May, 1986, back at the Cavern, gives a good, and frankly quite surprising idea of how tight we were by that point. It also helped to remind me which covers were in the set around then (Courageous Cat, Joe 90, Brand New Cadillac (played twice, once fast and once slow, I Hear Noises and Scratch My Back from the Vibes' Inner Wardrobes... ep).
Clockwise from front: Me, Mark, Clive, Stick, Jon
After a few more gigs that summer (one of which was supporting mod combo Contrast featuring future Clique guitarist Jon Paul Harper) we went into a tiny recording studio in East Peckham and recorded 4 tracks: 3 originals and another Vibes cover, this time Looking in a Mirror from their Peel Session. Naive kiddies that we were, we didn't even come away with a 1/4" mixdown - all we had was a cassette copy of the mixdown, which amazingly sounds not bad (and has now been backed up digitally for posterity).

Me, before I worked out that if you don't pull a face when you hit a bum note everyone just assumes it's jazz. Either that or I've stubbed my toe.
Following a particularly raucous gig at the Green Hut in Tonbridge that autumn (by the end of the set both Jon and Mark had jumped off stage and were getting busy with the punters down the front), Stick decided he'd had enough and so hung up his guitar. (Actually, he left it round my house, and after 18 months with him showing no interest in having it back, I flogged it).

Stick's last stand, at the Green Hut Nov 86

Stick, Mark & Clive, and in orange shirt a very bored looking Paul Hartnoll, a year before he'd play keyboards on a Shockwaves recording session (see below), and a couple of years before he'd conquer the dance music world with Orbital.

The first gig back as a 4 piece was supporting The Guana Batz at the Angel Centre, on 7th March, 1987. I was still at school in Tonbridge then, so had the slightly bizarre experience of playing a set of hi-octane rock'n'roll on the Saturday, then having a PE lesson in the same place 3 days later. This gig was recorded, although the tape appears to be lost, but I do remember in a moment of silence between songs one of the Batz fans, hollering "Ffffaaahhhrrrkkk Orrrffff!", displaying that broad minded attitude for which psychobillies are so well known.

Also around this time we started venturing up into London, playing at some of Mike Spenser's legendary trash nights downstairs at The Clarendon. As well as playing with some great bands, like Folkestone's mighty Green Hornets (not to be confused with the equally excellent Portsmouth combo with the same name), this led to Mike offering to put out a Shockwaves record. We'd recently been back into the studio in East Peckham and recorded 4 new songs, all originals (and had remembered to come away from this session with a 1/4" tape) which gave an indication of how the sound was getting tighter and dirtier. Following a summer of gigs at the sadly long gone Clarendon and another much missed London garage venue, Finsbury Park's Sir George Robey, we were booked into Cherry Studios in Croydon with Mike's mate, the legendary pistols soundman Dave Goodman.

A snap from the Clarendon, 1987
On 3rd and 4th December, 1987 (I had to bunk off school...) we went into the studio to lay down the tracks for the album on Mike's Hit Records. Dave Goodman was a joy to work with; professional, talented, patient (he may have sighed inwardly when we asked him if we could put the whole of one track through a flanger) and slightly bemused when rather than asking about the Pistols, we bombarded him with questions about the recordings he did with The Sid Presley Experience and The Unholy Trinity. Paul Hartnoll, of orange shirt and bored expression above, came in to lay down some keyboard overdubs on a couple of tracks. I bumped into him a couple of years ago, and whilst reminiscing about the session, he gave a whole spin on the tale that I hadn't really appreciated at the time...

Paul was playing at that time in Noddy & The Satellites with Jon, and had agreed to come and play keys with Jon's other band i.e. us. Both Paul & Jon were warmly embracing the emerging dance music scene; the rest of the band less so (I still fucking hate it), so Paul's recollection was that he wandered into the studio with a bunch of synths, effects and other electronic gizmos to be greeted by the slightly intimidating sight of three large bequiffed and bemused blokes staring at him like he'd walked in with a box full of turds.

Anyway, the end result was a collection of 8 expertly recorded songs that we looked forward to seeing released on vinyl. Alas Mike's label was undergoing a cashflow problem at the time, so the record was temporarily shelved. What we didn't immediately appreciate is that shelving period would be slightly longer than expected (28 years so far, although read on for an unexpected turn of events...)

Clive & Mark at the Cavern
1988 started with a flurry of gig activity; The Robey again, supporting a band containing ex members of the very excellent Margin of Sanity, Folkestone with The aforementioned Green Hornets, and a hometown gig back at the Cavern in Sevenoaks. Not that we knew it at the time, but that was to be our last gig, as a combination of the usual elements; disappointment at the record shelving, teenage boredom, diverging musical tastes, me moving to Blackpool(!) meant that the band just sort of ground to a halt. However, there was no animosity - circumstances had just changed in our lives, and we are all still good friends now.

Fast forward 19 years to 2007, during which time Jon has had a stint drumming for The Shamen, and then spent many years with Alabama 3 and Clive and I have carried on down the rock'n'roll path, both together (The Charles Napiers, The McDeath trio/DC3) and separately (Clive with the Gene Drayton Unit and JB & The Wolfmen, me with all the other stuff). In fact it was due to the mention I'd made of The Shockwaves on my website that Charlie Spliff, regular Clarendon gig goer and 80s trash fan, got in touch saying he remembered seeing us down there and how much he'd enjoyed our stuff. A man of exquisite taste, clearly, and pressing on the fast forward button once more to 2015, and Charlie S. is launching Trash Wax records with Darren Ross, a label dedicated to releasing lost and forgotten trash obscurities from that golden age. In the pipeline for a Trash Wax release is none other than those Croydon recordings from late 87! Watch this space for further details...

UPDATE : The Shockwaves recordings are being released on CD in late Nov/early Dec 2015.         (to be followed later by a limited vinyl release)

(with thanks to Jez Nixon for unearthing many of the photos above)

Check the website     for updates and availability.

Dan's website :