Peculiar Disco Moves are a bunch of NE waifs & strays who form highly addictive pop songs with off-the-wall lyrical tirades!
We happened upon Alix from the band, haggling with a street trader over the price of a pair of 'aftermarket' Rayban sunglasses, he went in low and the street urchin demanded he raise his price otherwise his family would be 'going hungry' again. The Law arrived on the scene to check the sellers credentials, whilst he was bumbling away in his thick Eastern European accent, I asked Alix some questions about Right Said Fred, Simon Cowell and Newcastle Brown Ale, here's how it went....
Peculiar Disco Moves, who what why where & when?
WHO? Alix, Proud, Pav, Danny and Meg.
WHAT? Newcastle’s finest weird pop pioneers, fusing our own unique brand of feelgood, fun, inspiring progressive-pop narratives, glorifying the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
WHY? In essence: we think we have stuff worth saying, about stuff that happens to normal people, and like to do interesting musical stuff to pull it all together.
WHERE? Costa del-Newcastle Upon Tyne
WHEN? We have had a long list of members since the first rumblings of the band began in earnest! We released our first EP 2 years ago so I guess that’s when we really started getting serious (ish) about things.
Give us three words that best describe you?
Outside the box
To celebrate the release of ‘Joining Fee’ you put on an in-store performance at HMV in Newcastle, how did this come about?
We were asked to play at HMV last Summer as part of a push on local music they were doing, but we had other commitments. We contacted them before ‘Joining Fee’ was released in November 2013 and they were happy to have us in then instead. We were afforded a nice little spot in between the Easy Listening and Christmas DVD sections!
Write a poem/quick song containing the words ‘Newcastle Brown Ale’, ‘Viz’, ‘Simon Cowell’ and ‘Costa Coffee’
‘I like broon ale on my toast and marmite in my tea
A Costa cup, that fills me up, got my Billy The fish to read
Saw Simon Cowell out on the prowl for bonny Geordie lasses,
Armed with X-Factor t-shirts and a couple of backstage passes’
Alix actually took the time out to record the song, check this bad boy out....
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
Probably Deeply Dippy by Right Said Fred. Or probably not. Though it is a guilty pleasure!
Talking Heads ‘Stop Making Sense’ is a great concept album and influence. Gomez’s ‘Bring It On’ is a diverse and raw record which really encapsulated a period of time. Saw them play it in its entirety a few years ago and it was one of the best gigs i’ve seen! ‘Revolver’ has to be up there, terrific melody writing and incorporates each Beatles member’s influence and the direction they were taking as individuals. ‘New Boots and Panties’ by Ian Dury and The Blockheads has some of the best hook-based songs and the musicality of the band is something which is often overlooked but displayed superbly well on this record. Anything by Squeeze in their formative years, and Elvis Costello’s first (‘My Aim Is True’) and third (‘Animal Forces’) albums really stand out for unbelievable songwriting capabilities. And for having a voice as thick as tar, Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ never gets old!
You recently experienced some strong temporal dislocation (that's time travel to you and I) at a local venue, did you plan on going into the future? If so, what would you have done whilst there?
Going to the future would have been handy but unfortunately our low budget time travelling device only allowed us to go back to visit eras from the 20th century gone by.
Had we been afforded the opportunity to go forward, we’d have introduced the three-day weekend, added a few more bank holidays, shut down a few banks, and sampled some of the yet-to-be invented real ale delights that await us further down the line.
Which act/band made you want to get a band together?
Ian Dury and The Blockheads – i) great writing intelligence and musical ability within the band, ii) gritty, clever, identifiable lyrical content, iii) absolute balls-out, play-it-like-you-mean-it live shows!
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it?
Booker T from Booker T and The MG’s on organ
Tom Waits on Piano (only if he’s had a drink)
Little Richard on Lead Vocals
Glenn Tilbrook as songwriter and rhythm guitarist/backing vocals
Peter Green on Lead Guitar
Pino Palladino on Bass
Charlie Watts on Drums
Please describe a typical (if there is such a thing) Peculiar Disco Moves live show?
Plenty of on stage antics, some planned, most not! Sparkly mirrorball dresses (and that’s just the blokes!), bow ties, handlebar moustaches, gold shirts, cowboy hats and a huge fake fur pimp coat - just some of the stage get-ups worn by the band. The odd change of clothes has also been known for any shows we have put on ourselves. There are high octane, energetic climaxes, mixed with softer, delicate moments – somewhat of a musical rollercoaster!
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
This could be one of about a million songs. As I heard it the other day, i’ll plump for ‘Beat Surrender’ by The Style Council. A great uplifting song from the ever-changing, ever-developing musical brain of Paul Weller. Very imaginative arrangement from a band that were in tune with the sound of the times, as well as their output being completely different from anything else Weller did before or after.
How has social media aided you and your music?
Social media has provided a great platform for us in terms of interaction with many different people, from fans, to other artists with similar creative ambitions and drive, to industry-specific types who have helped us with playing live, promotion, recording, design and image. We certainly do not underestimate the power of this medium and the enormous reach you can make by embracing it. I do, however, find it quite difficult to dedicate long periods of time trawling the internet, or social media sites, in search of opportunities and applying for things for the band. It seems that being in a band can at times be much less about the quality of music you produce and play, and can be more heavily weighted on the time/money you have at your disposal to build your hype. It has now become the norm and a necessity for any new act starting out and wanting to put material out.
First gig you ever went to? (honest answers please)
Mine was with my dad at Colne Municipal Hall in Lancashire watching Peter Green (ex-Fleetwood Mac) and his Splinter Group. It was a bit of an odd gig as he was back on tour for the first time in donkeys years after recovering from his alcohol/drug problems and wasn’t 100% back in the swing!
You recently released your new single Lost for Words (Please Don’t Tell Me Please Don’t Say) on May 9th, how was the show at the Newcastle Institute for Mining?
Cracking. We managed to fill it to capacity and good wholesome fun was had by all! The venue is very bespoke as it’s littered with local heritage, which we feel really adds a personal element to a local band putting on their own show…plus the bar is ridiculously cheap! We tried to make it unique and added little twists (both visually and musically) for the audience during the set, including a costume change. We had great support from young Sunderland singer/songwriter Ani Sandwith and angular pop stalwarts from the Newcastle scene So What Robot, both of which are really worth a listen. All in all it was a highly successful and diverse night, and people left with smiles on their alcohol-induced worse-for-wear faces!
Who is going to win the World Cup? Why this team?
Scotland maybe? Oh hang on...
In all honesty my head says one of the South American heavyweights (Brazil or Argentina), what with the climate and all. And if they didn’t have such a tough group Chile would be a decent outside bet, especially on the evidence of how easily they beat England in that friendly earlier this year. I have a bit of an inkling for Portugal this year, what with probably the world’s current best player in their ranks, and a fairly straightforward run to the semis if they can get out of their awkward group. I think England will get to the quarters all being well.
How do you approach your song-writing?
I come up with a fairly structured and solid arrangement on piano, usually with lead lines/riffs worked into a jazzy chord progression, with a lyrical rant of some description fitting a melody I have created on top. I sing a number of phrases until something sticks out in terms of being lyrically strong, and this forms the basis for the subject of the song. I then take this to Proud, and we set about devising a groove and feel for the song from the bare bones of my arrangement. Sometimes we stick fairly closely to my initial idea in terms of rhythm and band arrangement, and on other occasions we will break the piano part up and go in a completely different direction. We are always keen to include 3-part harmony with backing vocals to compliment the melody, and feel that along with the relationship of guitar and synth, as well as the interesting lyrical content and melody, these elements have become recognisable features of the band’s sound. Recently we have tried to work more democratically as a band and get everybody involved in the process as we don’t want to stand still and become stale, and feel that with the others’ input, fresh arrangements and ideas will keep the band improving and striding forward.
In your latest single, you compare current technology against the old methods (Social Networking vs Face to Face communication), what are your views on how we are going to be communicating 25 years from now?
I think we’re headed back for the halcyon days of the Nokia 33-10 and snake! I have had an iPhone for a few years now and it has generally been a right old pain in the derrière!
As far as social networking is concerned, I’m sick of the fact Facebook in particular has developed into a money-making ring of advertising and corporate offers. It has certainly changed since the early days and holds less appeal to the average person now, at least as far as I can gather from speaking to friends etc. They keep changing the interface too! I hope it goes full circle and people become less inclined to stay at home, and from a music point of view go to more gigs and support their local scene. Obviously the recession has had an effect on this but if bands and promoters make gigs more affordable then this could hold more appeal to the normal person. I think as a society we need to incorporate technology and use it to improve what we have, not completely change it.
Give us your 3 top tips for surviving at a music festival….
1. Take sun cream
2. Take more sun cream
3. Take plenty of socks if it’s chilly – my feet always end up feeling like breeze blocks in these conditions.
First guitar riff you heard that sent chills down your spine?
Probably the cheesiest Queen song ever but the opening guitar lick to Friends Will Be Friends from their Greatest Flix 2 when I was about 6 (so I ask for forgiveness). I used to mime to the whole video with a pestle from a pestle and mortar.
Aside form yourselves, there are tons of great acts out there at the moment, name some that you would encourage our readers to go check out?
Attempting to advocate our own scene in sunny Newcastle the bands that have impressed us the most recently have been Toxic Melons (off-the-wall power pop) So what Robot (angular pop/rock), The Shooting Of... (quirky, kitsch, alternative pop) and Yellow Creatures (Zappa meets Talking Heads). Check out the Tony Bengtsson Band (Americana Folk) which our bassist Proud plays in, and also our synth-ist Meghann Clancy’s solo stuff too. Also, four part female barbershop group The Shoeshop Quartet who supported us last year at our ‘Joining Fee’ launch.
What ‘gadget’ would you have liked to have invented?
The peeler. A house I used to live in had 5 but none of them worked properly. So there was a time I would have killed for a decent peeler. My mum once bought me some gloves that were supposed to peel potatoes by just moving them in your hands. They didn’t work though so I just used them for washing up.
What was the first song you lever learned?
Crikey. I remember having to learn Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procal Harum for a school concert. Before that i’d had classical piano lessons so something childish and harmless (I was 8 years old)! When I dabbled with guitar I remember trying to learn Paperback Writer having never seen or heard of tablature before. That was interesting!
Do you think CD and Vinyl will eventually die off, leaving just soulless, gutless MP3 files to take over the world?
Really hope not. We still make artwork and enable it for download when people buy our music digitally. I think it’s really important for a band’s identity that artwork, logo and CD design still exist. I used to love listening to my dad’s vinyl collection. I remember discovering Bonzo Dog Band that way! The crackle and hum provide such a human element to listening to music. When we shot the front cover of our latest single (taken upstairs in a record shop in Newcastle) we had to help the shop owner unload 1500 vinyl records from the back of a Volvo estate as a thank you! Hopefully these places will keep going until the economy picks up and then start to thrive again thereafter.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
David Hockney – always admired his work and he comes from the same neck of the woods as me (Alix) in Bradford, West Yorkshire. He has started to embrace using iPad for his art at 80-something years old too, so maybe he’d have some interesting views on the old vs new technological debate!
Hercule Poirot – just in case one of the other guests makes an attempt on my life or slips something nasty into the soup! I have had a strange obsession with Poirot having seen all the programmes. I suppose it’s my comfort telly viewing!
Tony Wright – I used to love Terrorvision (coming from Keighley/Bradford) and think both they, and Tony (lead singer) were highly underrated. He used to be a regular on Never Mind The Buzzcocks when I was growing up and always had me in stitches. I think he’d be good for a wild night out after David and Hercule retired to bed as well.
Imagine you’re setting up your own ‘dream’ festival, WHO are the 3 headline acts (dead/alive/reformed etc)
The Who indeed. They might actually be one! Probably just relegated to support though. I think i’d go for:
Little Richard: Great voice and piano skills. In fact ridiculously good voice! Saw Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry once in Bradford and was gutted as at the time all three sometimes played touring shows together. And for the fact he used to record all his material quicker than intended so none of the shit rip off singers from this country (Pat Boone, Cliff Richard) would re-record it!
Blur: Strange choice really but they remind me of being very young and they had a certain aura around them, and were pretty effortless, even though what they were producing was infectious, intelligent and extremely well crafted. Granted they were very middle class, and almost represented the south by default because of their rivalry with Oasis, but I always thought their songwriting stood out a mile from everything else in the Britpop era. I’d have loved to have seen them in their hay-day anyhow.
Madness: Seen them numerous times, once was a matinee on a Saturday which was a bit odd! Again, as with Blur, they stood head and shoulders above anything from their scene, and had so much energy and musicality in what they were producing. They were a bit anti-establishment too, which is always a bonus. Live they create a massive sound, and with so many recognisable tunes they would definitely get my vote for an all time festival headliner.
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
Undoubtedly. If zebras, pelicans and puffins can remain protected by society’s crossing patrol then surely we should be able to accept that chickens deserve equality and be unjudged in their road-hopping habits.
What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
We have a number of Festivals booked in over the Summer, some further afield (Manchester and Derbyshire) and 5 or 6 local ones, all of which details can be found on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are hopeful of recording a new single, or EP if finances allow, as we have really picked up the pace in adding new material to our set. As we had so much fun making the video for our latest single, there will definitely be another one to support this recording too. We have also had a few beer-induced chats with our chums So What Robot about an Autumn/Winter tour, taking in some places further afield where neither band has dared to venture before! That’s pretty top secret though...
'The Law' were not impressed with the traders paperwork and had ushered him away for further questioning, leaving a suitcase full of cheap plastic eye-ware that Alix and I rifled through to find something that suited our handsome faces, prior to parting company, we threw in a few quick fire questions....
Coffee or Tea? Green Tea (don’t judge please...)
Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke with spiced rum
Drum machine or the real deal? I’ll have to say real deal or Danny our drummer will cry
Mac or PC? Mac, even though I should say PC as they are older and our latest single is in support of older methods of technology!
Kebab or Burger? Veggie burger if you please
CD or Vinyl? Vinyl, though CD in the car
COSTA or Starbucks? Neither really. Green tea is far too expensive in coffee shops. Costa I suppose at a push.
The Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Wow. Er, depends when and in what context we’re talking. Gimme ‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt Pepper’ and ‘Rubber Soul’ (and half of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’) and then the pre-80s Stones and i’ll be a happy chap.
Car or Motorbike? Car. Don’t have the balance for a bike.
Camping or ‘Glamping’? Camping every time. Who ever invented Glamping should be ejected from society.
Acoustic or electric? Electric in an acoustic sense?
Jennifer or Angelina? Never been a fan of Jen or Angelina. I don’t think they’d care one iota or indeed give me the time of day to be fair.
Fender or Gibson? Fender. Though the Strat or Tele debate would be a heart-wrencher for our guitarist.
Tattoos or Piercings? I had a piercing when I was 9. I took it out two years later but the hole is still there. Regret.
De Niro or Pacino? De Niro just shades it.
God or Google? Google definitely has more information than God could only dream of. Could God tell you at an instant, all the winners of the BDO Darts World Championship since its inception in 1977? Of course not. But I suppose that’s more Wiki than Google. So maybe Google with Wiki as its right hand man.
Musicmuso would like to thank Alix for taking time out of his hectic schedule to answer our questions and also for putting together the amazing track that I am sure will go on to be a top ten hit....just a bridge and a catchy chorus required and we'll be living on royalties until we're pushing up daisies!
Interview by Steve Muscutt