Friday, 19 June 2009

The streets are being taken back! - Capture The Flag III


Original Article

The streets are being taken back! There is an organisation that aims to challenge the perception of urban spaces as being purely commercial arenas. They encourage large groups of strangers to get out and play. Capture the flag is a military style game that involves two teams each with a base and a flag to protect. Each team aims to capture their rival’s flag and take it back to their base. On Friday 5th June drinkers and owners of local Bengali restaurants looked on in bewilderment as dozens of flag waving bandana wearing gamers charged about the streets. The event lasted for several hours and increased in size as more locals joined in. Organisers Tom and Jack are involved in political protest and anti-capitalist activities but maintain that the event is just about fun. “We do have political convictions but we don’t really want to force them onto other people, we just want to use this game as a platform for introducing people to stuff they might not have heard of before.”

He tells me this while both of us are held prisoner in the Yellow team’s prison. No sooner has he finished his sentence when a valiant red team member explodes through the yellow defences and frees us all from the Gaol. I continue the interview several hours later after the whole thing is winding down. “It’s about looking at areas of the city in different ways, going off the beaten track, doing different things and reinterpreting the city.” Tom explains, his face glowing from physical exertion. “It’s not just a place for passive consumption, it can also be used as a playground. It can be used for fun.”

But how did they get the idea to get adults to play a children’s game with complete strangers on a Friday night? Tom reveals that he got the idea after an evening spent dodging the old bill. “It was scary but I thought this is really fun. It would be cool to recreate it somehow in the city.” After reading an anarchist journal called Rolling Thunder, and discovering a report on a capture the flag game in America, they were inspired. “We thought it was a pretty slick way of getting people out on the streets, playing. We get to make different flags for the two teams and they develop this pseudo-nationalistic fervour. It’s really weird how you change just before the game.”

By far the most unexpected and significant event of the evening was the participation of the young Bengali community, a number of whom joined the red team after witnessing the screaming packs of lunatics racing about their neighbourhood. “They were conspiring with one another in Bengali to free the prisoners from the yellow team’s jail.” Tom burbles enthusiastically. “We had no idea what was going on when they smuggled in a member of our team, in a group of kids, who weren’t even in the game. They walked past with their hoods up and the guy from the red team just sprang out and gave us a jail break!”

Elise the flag maker.

How did you find out about this game tonight?

My friends Tom and Jack set it up.

Did you have fun?

Yeah, it’s really good because you can discover part of London in a way that you wouldn’t usually. It’s probably the most fun you can have on a weekend!

More fun than getting drunk?

Yeah, because bring lots of people together. We just don’t play games anymore and it’s great that people can have fun in the street with lots of other people. You get to meet a lot of people as well just by coming and all doing the same thing. You develop solidarity with your team mates even though you have no idea who they are, you’ve never met them before, then you see them and you’re like, “what’s the deal? Where’s the flag?” You immediately connect because you’re both wearing the same headbands.

What was the best thing about tonight?

I really liked how the little kids joined in.

Dimitri Cunningham

How did you find out about tonight?

Through some friends of mine

Did you have a good night?

Yes very good.

What do you think of capture the flag?

It is very fun. Haha look at this. (The assembled members of both teams torment a passing car) It was amazing just running around the streets of London in groups of five or more pretending to be all military, it’s really funny. I was on the offensive all the time, a bit selfish of me but I’m exhausted now.

Did you capture the flag?

Nah, but I was part of a group that did.

Richard the ghost man

Did you have fun tonight?

Yeah, it was a laugh. We heard it was happening, we were running a bit late, we decided we wanted to join in as a separate team in no mans land. We painted our faces white, we had our own flag and we decided we couldn’t tag people but could only haunt them and convert them to our team.

What was the name of your team?

Ghost town.

What was the weirdest thing tonight?

The conversations we had with people. We were dabbing people with white face paint, even if they weren’t involved. People’s faces, when we started running at them, with our white faces, the sheer confusion in their eyes, thinking “Who is this third team? Where did they get their flag?”

Published: Last Hours, 19th June 2009

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009


The unearthly rumbling of a didgeridoo demands your attention then gives way to the rhythmical soothing hiss of waves lapping the shore. The atmospheric acoustic intro of ‘Valiant Brave’ from Ganglians’ new album ‘Monster head room’, builds into a rousing ballad of jangling guitars and layers of wailing vocals that sound like whales and pixies shouting their sorrowful woes to the ocean. The echoes of saxophone and carefully constructed vocal harmonies provide a multi-textured unpredictable aspect to the psychedelic noise pop sound.

Ganglians of Sacramento, California are said to defy genre definition. Each song twists and turns in unexpected directions having a separate identity to the next. This year they have churned out a string of haunting lo-fi surf pop records. ‘Monster head room’, limited to only 500 copies on red vinyl, follows the recently released self titled 12" and the split 7" with their mates Eat Skull. “We wanted to make an honest pop album.” Explains bearded guitarist/vocalist Ryan Grubbs on the subject of the new record. “It’s acid-takers music, but without all the obvious droning psych trappings.” The record is packed with strange ‘60s style psychedelic pop tracks, drowned in reverb, conjuring an atmosphere that simultaneously brings to mind the care free headiness of youth in summer and the eerie otherness of an acid induced nightmare.

Grubbs is a self confessed space cadet, who dabbles with mind expanding substances such as ayuhuasca. “Monster Head Room was an attempt to replicate the angelic tones that drift just above our heads.” Grubbs explains, “I know what they sound like. I’ve been bathed in white light and have heard them.” The hairy hippy continues, going on to explain the unusual production techniques of the record. “It’s our version of a ‘60s studio album with no actual studio experience or knowledge of studio techniques.” He admits remorselessly. “We even dispersed little things that got recorded accidentally throughout the record, like Kyle’s stupid giddy laugh or the cat running around the house in heat. These idiosyncrasies form the foundations for many of the songs.” If you’re quick you can get a copy of the their self titled 12" or the newly released ‘Monster Head room’ from Woodsist

published: Dazed and Confused Vol II #76 August 2009

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Monday, 15 June 2009



In a dilapidated, North London studio, suffocated by almost complete darkness, Dalston based dance punk trio Teeth!!! are taking a break from recording their new 7” for Moshi Moshi records to munch Cheez-its and discuss the band.
“He’s gonna make us famous.” Boasts lead singer Veronica So, nodding toward Jacob Cooper of Californian label mates the Mae-Shi. Jacob is helping produce the new record. “I’m checking my facebook.” He responds disinterestedly while hunched over his laptop.

The band keep themselves busy with a frequent output of recorded material, this 7” isn’t the only project they’re working on. “We’ve done a split with Thee Fair Ohs, it hasn’t been released yet.” Veronica explains. “We’ve also done a split with Finally punk, Pens, the Vivian girls and Best Fwends on eat your hands records. All the songs are 30 seconds long and it will be released for free.”

Although the band play as far away as California and Veronica’s family live over the pond, they owe some of their style and inspiration to their base in East London. “We practice in a squat, for free. Dalston is nice because you can find that sort of thing,” Veronica enthuses, on the subject of her adopted home town.
“Totally,” adds keyboardist/songwriter Ximon Tayji. “And also the bands connected with the area have been really supportive.”

Despite their fondness for the trendy terraces of the East end, the band admit their favourite gigs have been out of town, including one at the Smell in Los Angeles.
“Those kids at the smell babes!” Ximon exclaims, delighted by the recollection. “They were waiting outside when we arrived and they were like, “Are you from Teeth!!!? AWESOME! YOU GUYS RULE!” The Hobgoblin in Brighton is another site of fond memories for the band. “It was a Sex Is Disgusting show. There were lots of fat old rockers there but they really liked us.” Veronica recalls while reaching for another handful of Cheez-its.

Teeth!!! are the kind of band that turn a room of disinterested half stoned hipsters into raving idiots, ready to dance until dawn. In short, a great party band, but their sound has taken a musical journey through more serious territory. “At first we wrote political songs, on sexuality and the war and stuff.” Ximon reveals. “We tried to do political disco but that didn’t work out.” Veronica admits remorsefully.
As a band they are more comfortable producing brighter and lighter music than their gothic contemporaries. “I couldn’t imagine being in a band that plays really boring slow wannabe goth music. I mean where’s the fun in that?” Raves Ximon on the subject of a London post-punk band he has developed a dislike for.
“It’s bullshit! Go and write some fun songs. I mean we don’t have the best equipment, our drum kit is fucked and Veronica obviously can’t sing but we have, like, the best time.” From hanging out with the band this afternoon, I am inclined to believe him.

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 34, July 2009


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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Betty and the werewolves

So..David Cassidy. What’s the attraction?

His blue, blue eyes. Some people might think they’re a bit shifty, but Betty is spellbound by David…he’s a dreamboat with his own cult.

What is the best werewolf movie ever?

Wolf Blood. It was made in 1925 and written by a man called Cliff. In your face, Teen Wolf!

Who are your favourite people amongst your contemporary musicians?

We have lots of favourites - Je Suis Animal, Vivian Girls, Hot Silk Pockets, Comet Gain, Kasms, Screaming Tea Party, WetDog, Male Bonding

You get put on some unlikely bills. Do audiences always react well to your playful approach to live music?

We love playing to different crowds. We mostly play to Twee crowds, which is mega fun – they pogo like it’s 1994 and snog all the way through our set. We’ve also played with bands like Fucked Up and the Shitty Limits where the audience goes crazy, breaking into moshpits and invading the stage after the first song. Either way, one of us usually ends up falling over, snapping a string or losing a shoe. There doesn’t need to be an audience for that to happen…

What was the deal with that movie you appeared in, 1234? Was it fun?

Definitely! It was so surreal re-enacting a gig - we had to mime to our own backing track and Doug had to be smeared with fake sweat. Actually, Doug’s acting impressed everyone in the end - move over Danny DeVito!

You’ve had your own jewellery made by Tatty Devine, what is next, your own brand of cupcakes?

Good question! We’ve already had David Cassidy ginger bread men at our last single launch. We’ve also got special Betty pencils which tend to rival the record sales at out gigs…maybe we need to branch into ring tones? Or maybe Doug could design a clothing range?

How did it feel being on Channel 4 news as the backing track to the decline of the music industry?

That was really funny, we had no idea channel 4 news had recorded us until our phones started melting with messages from our friends who were at home watching the news on a Saturday night. Also, the audio clip they use doesn’t match up to the images. So Laura looks like she’s singing really out of tune, when actually it’s me! Mwa ha haaa…...oh….

What does 2009 have in store for betty and the werewolves?

Snapping strings, jumping related injuries, sweating, more sweating, Casio tone explosions, an album with damaged goods, bass/face collisions, some new songs and some new picnic dresses.

Can you tell me your favourite werewolf related songs please?

Dunno but I really like 'Shoplifting' by the Slits

Published: P.i.X magazine: issue # 33, June 2009