Sunday, 20 July 2014

Q & A with John Bentley

John Bentley is best known for being a member of Squeeze. John played bass on all the classic Squeeze albums (ArgyBargy, East Side Story, and Sweets From A Stranger) then left the band for a bit and then came back in 2007 to play sell out shows around the world. He has just released a splendid new record. Find out more by visiting here: http://www.planegroovy.com/planegroovystore.html and here: www.johnbentley.tv but before that why not read this funsize interview...
The Rebel Magazine: Based on a True Story is your 3rd solo album. Are you proud of it, do you think it's your best record yet? John Bentley: "As you can imagine - its a quite a challenge to put out an album of songs that has to stand alongside people like Difford & Tilbrook.(not Difford & Tilbrook but people like them)Now I know how Bill Wyman and Ringo must have felt! ...Based on a True Story is a labor of love, and I am very proud of it."
The Rebel: A lot of the lyrics seem dark - you talk about sinking into quicksand, hangmen wanting to be free, nurses telling you it's going to get worse etc. Are these dark times for John Bentley - or is it that when you're feeling happy you tend not to want to write a song about it? "Yes - some of the lyrics are bitter-sweet. The track 'Things could only get worse' attempts to expose the fragility of the human condition (pretentious moi?) - but it's all tongue in cheek. But I must admit - I always look at the darker side for inspiration. I recently went on holiday with my daughter, and our chosen destination was Transylvania! It was a lot of fun in a creepy kinda way!"
The Rebel: Chris Difford writes sleeve notes for the record. Do you go to his songwriter group sessions, does he ever suggest changes to your lyrics? "I've been on a couple of Chris Diffords song-writer workshops. One was in Italy which was an emotional rolla-coaster and would've made a riveting Reality TV Show. The other was on the Queen Mary II where I managed to get arrested and then interrogated by an armed security guard on suspicion of terrorism. CD's workshops are never boring - I dont think Chris would suggest a lyric change to anyone - but he does inspire and encourage song writers to step out of their comfort zones."
What's the story behind your song Elvis & Me? Do you remember when Elvis Presley died? "I'm talking about the other Elvis! And (more significantly) I do remember where I was when John Lennon was tragically shot in 1980 - in the studio recording East Side Story which was produced by Elvis Costello. Later that same year Squeeze were touring America with the Attractions, and Glenn Me Elvis and his bodyguard all went on a break to Las Vegas. No, I'm not making this up. So the song Elvis & Me is about that 'nefarious crew'."
The Rebel: Bill Wyman has said there are a few Stones songs like Satisfaction where he felt his contribution was such that he felt he deserved a share of the royalties. Did that ever happen with Squeeze? Were there songs like Someone Else's Heart where you felt your contribution deserved a writing credit? "Wow! Nobody's ever asked me that one before. The details are a secret between Me / Chris / Glenn and my accountant. But I will tell you that Glenn & Chris acknowledge my creative contribution to Squeeze and reward me very generously. My situation as far as I am aware, is totally unique - just like Glenn and Chris I suppose! Bill Wyman keeps cropping up then!"
The Rebel: Elvis Costello co produced East Side Story. What are your memories of him and do you think it would work if he produced a Squeeze album in the future? "I appear to be answering your questions before you're asking them. It's a bit like The Two Ronnies on Mastermind Sketch. Well assuming you've read my answer to question 5, then you already know that I was inspired to write a song called Elvis & Me - I will continue... There are lots of 'East Side' Stories - here's another one of them: One day I marched into the studio with some newly purchased singles (those were the days!) and Elvis Costello who is continuously and hugely interested in records wanted to see what I had bought. Amongst the 45's was a cover version of Billie Holidays Strange Fruit recorded by Robert Wyatt. EC was intrigued - surprisingly he had never heard of Robert Wyatt. We played the record through the studio speakers. It's a great great record - so emotional. I could see that EC was really impressed with the record. I thought no more about it until a few months later I heard 'Ship Building' on the radio, which EC had written especially for Robert Wyatt. Imagine my surprise!! Well... thats Showbusiness!"
The Rebel: I've interviewed a few bass players for The Rebel (Horace Panter, Bruce Thomas, Fernando Saunders) do you have many bass player chums? When you meet one do you talk about guitars and techniques? "I hope not. When Bass-players collide there's bound to be a bit of banter - but that doesn't include: "do you boil your own strings?" As Nick Lowe famously said " a Bass is just a piece of wood with some bits of wire attached" ...and I'm sure that's as true then as it was now."
The Rebel: When you're playing live with Squeeze are there many songs like Hourglass where you play differently to how Keith Wilkinson did on the record. Do you rate his style of playing? "I never thought anybody would have the balls to ask me that! But its an insightful question... And here's the answer... Glenn Tilbrook has very sharp ears. He hears EVERYTHING every musician in Squeeze plays ALL the time. - and during rehearsals in 2007 he turned to me saying that he noticed I had changed the Bass line to Hourglass. I replied that this was true but my bass line was in fact much better than the original. There was some eye contact, then he just turned away and didn't say another word about it. I've been playing it my way ever since. In the battle of the Squeeze Bass Players Harry Kakoulli comes out on top in my book. 'nuff said..."
The Rebel: Glenn and Chris both say in interviews that Some Fantastic Place is their best song. Do you have a favourite Squeeze song or a top 5? "My Squeeze top 5 in reverse order... No.5 the apocalyptic - There's No Tomorrow No.4 with Biblical proportions - Tempted No.3 the adolescent pubescent - Touching Me Touching You No.2 it's Non-PC - it's sexist - it's got the best guitar solo ever! - It's So Dirty No.1 Earth Shattering - The Knack (please note that this list goes down to zero) No.0 from the album 'Live at the Filmore' - Hope Fell Down."
The Rebel: I've always been a fan of Steve Nieve - what's he like to go on the road with? Is he a decent fellow? "I once had the honour of interviewing Mr. Nieve for Bentleys Blog. Here's a section from that exclusive/intrusive interview:
JB "Hi Steve .. and welcome to Bentleys Blog! Now I'm sure there are lots of things Squeeze fans will want to know about you... so I hope you dont mind if I ask you some rather personal questions about your childhood?"
SN "No no no .... fire away!" (Bang Bang - Bang Bang) JB "It must have been very difficult for you growing up with the name 'Nieve' .... how did you cope with all the cruel jibes you must have had at school?" SN ("?") JB "As a young boy - was your mother very strict with you?" SN "Let me make one thing very clear to you John - my mother was NEVER a young boy!" JB "It must have been amazing working with Elvis .... what was it really like playing in the Jordanaires?" SN "You mean the Attractions?" JB "I vill ask ze qvestions" hmmm? an interview within an interview! Is that a first?"
The Rebel: You offer your services as an engineer, producer and arranger to other bands and singers. Where is your studio based and who have you had in there recently? "I had my wife in there the other night.. Well most recently Tony Smith came over from France to record in my studio. He is the Singer/Composer/Frontman from French based group - Gone Dead Train www.gonedeadtrain.bandcamp.com Together we recorded 6 backing-tracks for their 2nd album. I played a bit of bass and drums on the tracks - or should I say Drum & Bass Innit And we wrote a song together called 'Running Outa Beatles' - which is FAB! Inde Band the Picardy popped in the other day in to record a few tracks - then they had to get back to work at Currys. Lord Craig Dacey is omni present in my studio recording music for his new musical 'TOWBAR'. The studio is located at the top of my house in East Preston which is on the South Coast of West Sussex. For more details go to: http://www.johnbentley.tv/production.html
The Rebel: What are your hopes for "True Story"? What next? "Putting out my record ...based on a true story on Vinyl is a dream come true. Having a record deal with Plane Groovy is just ... plane groovy. Anything else that happens with this record will be a bonus. We'd like to hear it played on the radio wouldn't we? And we'd like to play some of the songs from the album live with our beat combo - Officer Bentley. What's Next? I would love to get Bentleys Blog published... as a semi-autobiographical surreal coffee table graphic novel http://www.johnbentley.tv/bentleys%2Dblog%2D46.html

Monday, 23 June 2014

Art Below's Summer Show at Notting Hill's West Bank Gallery

My "The Warmth of The Sun" Beach Boys painting is included in a show curated by Ben Moore in Notting Hill and there's also a poster of the painting being displayed in Westbourne Park Tube Station. Here are some photos from the private view.
(Above: Outside)
(Above Mr Duggie Fields)
(Above: Mini Warhol Statue)
(Above: Pretty In Pink)
(Above: )
(Above: Faces)
(Above: Me and my masterpiece)
(Above: )
(Above:)

Ritchie Lamy Live at Tate Britain

Kind hearted Richard Lamy treated staff at Tate Britain to a free concert last week.
Highlights of his set included a fantastic cover version of "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart". Lamby was joined on stage by several guests including the lovely Adrian R. Shaw (who sang a very sweet and tender "Leaving On A Jet Plane")
Other numbers in the set included a frantic version of "Big Mouth Strikes Again", "Lola", and "Tequila". I had a great time.
Gary the warm up man deserves a special mention for his highly entertaining Tommy Cooper tribute.
And Important Tate Person Piers Warner gave a nice speech thanking Ritchie for being a splendid chap.
Hooray for Ritchie Lamy A man you don't meet everyday !

Friday, 20 June 2014

Jolie Laide

Plans are afoot to stage a 3 day exhibition at the start of October. The venue will hopefully be "Hotel Elephant" which is (opposite the Law Courts), 40 Newington Causeway SE1 6DR. The title of the show "Jolie Laide" is a compliment of sorts. It roughly translates as "Ugly Beautiful". The idea is to exhibit works that are unconventionally appealing or, work that walks that thin line between beautiful and ugly. The image above is a sculpture called La Grosse made by Craig Crosbie. Other artists penciled in for this show are Gordon Beswick, Sir Peter Blake, Mel Cole, Marcus Cope, Rose Gibbs, Gavin Nolan, Peter Harris & Ray Davies, Edward Todd, Sandra Turnbull, and Julian Wakeling. The Jolie Laide exhibition will be part of Elefest. Rob Wray, the founder and director of Elefest, says: "the festival celebrates one of the most maligned and misunderstood areas of London". More news soon...

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Q & A with Simon Love

Simon Love is great. I saw his band play live in Shoreditch a few months back and was really impressed.
REBEL: Do you think there are any good new bands out there? Have all the good songs been sung? LOVE: "There are a few bands around that I like such as The Fireworks, Cosines & I Like The Go-Go. As to whether all the good songs have been sung? I think it all depends on the conviction of the person singing them."
REBEL: How many instruments can you play, which ones are you best at? LOVE:"I can get by on any of the main ones, but I'm probably best at the guitar. In a fashion."
REBEL: Is Mike Love your fave member of The Beach Boys? LOVE: "He seems like an egotistical, back-stabbing, no good, money-grabbing shit. So yes, of course he is."
REBEL: I love the Heroine song by Mikey Georgeson & Civilized Scene - what's it like collaborating and touring with Mikey? Is it difficult being in two bands? LOVE: "It's amazing being in a band with Mikey. His songs are always interesting & it's inspiring to be around such creativity. I loved the 1st David Devant & His Spirit Wife LP & used to watch them on Asylum in the mid-90s & marvel at their theatricality. The 1st time I met him he wasn't wearing the Vessel's wig so I didn't recognise him. It was only after the show I put 2 & 2 together & then a few months later he contacted me to join his new group."
REBEL: Are you proud of your Cardiff roots? Who are your fave Welsh people? LOVE: "I'm sort of proud. I've been living in London for 5 years now & there's something about this place that gets into you & dislodges your past. Whenever I go back to Cardiff it does feel a bit like you're doing everything in slow-motion. Which can sometimes be good of course. Amongst my favourite Welsh people are Shakin' Stevens (a childhood hero), Gruff Rhys & my Grampy- Eloy Rodrigues (not the most Welsh sounding name I know)."
REBEL: How important are record labels and managers in this day and age - can everyone do everything themselves these days? LOVE: "I'd say it depends on what you want to achieve. I've got an LP coming out later this year on Fortuna Pop who are an independent label who've had some success over the past couple of years with bands like Allo Darlin, Joanna Gruesome & September Girls but they're still a one-man operation. I think to have a manager is to announce that you're taking everything seriously which for me at my age seems a bit stupid. I treat music as a very expensive hobby that I can't give up. I've tried a few times but then get all itchy & realise there's a reason I've wasted the past 15 years of my life & probably thousands of pounds doing this."
REBEL: Where do you buy your clothes? LOVE: "Mostly from charity shops. I'm attempting to lose some weight at the moment though so I'm trying to not shell out on anything to swish until I'm slimmed down a bit."
REBEL: What's the best song you've released so far? LOVE: "I think I've got 3 songs that I can stand by & say "These are the best" "Xs & Os", "My Sweet Drunken Blues (For You)" & "Motherfuckers" The 1st 2 were released on an EP in 2006 by The Loves & the 3rd I've recorded 2 versions of that. The 1st was for a Xmas single my friend needed another song for & the other will be on my new LP. An early mix can be found on my bandcamp page- http://simonlove.bandcamp.com There's a song I've got called "Elton John" that'll be a single later this year that is quite good too. It's written from the perspective of Renate, the woman who married Elton John."
REBEL: Can you quote a line from a favourite poem? LOVE: "But she didn't do it & now it's too late" from "Too Many Daves" by Dr Seuss. It's such a funny & gently sad poem.
REBEL: Who was your fave member of The Velvets, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles? LOVE: a) The Velvet Underground- Sterling Morrison b) The Stones- Charlie Watts c) The Beatles- George Harrison "All 3 of them have a mysterious quiet dignity that I would love to be able to have."
REBEL: What is your idea of beauty in nature? LOVE: "I never really cared for nature til I moved to London. Someone introduced me to just going for a walk in the park which is something I'd never done til then. For me walking was a means of getting somewhere not just something to do (that's what telly's for)."
REBEL: What is your motto? LOVE: "Wanna be a gun-slinger, don't be a rock singer"
REBEL: What is your present state of mind? LOVE: "A bit miserable, a bit hopeful. Same old, same old..."

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Q & A with Louise Aldridge

Louise Aldridge (pictured above)is a bright young thing whose paintings are selling and whose reputation is growing. You can find out more about her by visiting her website (www.louisealdridge.com)or reading the mini interview below...
The Rebel:How much time do you get to spend painting or drawing each week? Louise: "I was likely enough to register as a self-employed artist shortly after graduating in the summer 2013 from my Fine art Degree. I had amazing response to my work after exhibiting in both my degree show and then soon after a London show. I now work full time partly on my own work that I sell mainly on Saatchi Online as a ‘One to Watch artist’ and commission pieces for businesses and home spaces. I am also currently collaborating with two designers on different projects, so I guess the answer is all day every day!" The Rebel: What's your studio like? Do you tend to work at night or during the day? Louise: "I am most productive in the day; I usually wake up 7am and am working in the studio by 8am, My studio is currently in my home - a large garage that looks a state but for an artist surprisingly tidy, it is only when I am painting that I create a load of mess, I work very freely with paint so you can imagine everything get covered, including myself. But I always like to end a day with a tidy studio so that nothing clouds my head for the following day."
The Rebel: I like your paintings of Norman. Can you tell me about your relationship to him - is he a friend, relative or someone you just liked the look of? Louise: "Norman is my grandfather and we have an amazing relationship. He is far from the serious, blank expression in these studies. People miss interpret his character from these works. I think that’s why I had such an urge to paint him. His relaxed face is an open book; every line has a story.
The Rebel:Francis Bacon is listed as one of your influences. Would period of his work do you like most - do you think he continued making interesting work right up to the end? Louise: "Francis Bacon’s work is powerful to me in ways that are both unexplainable and obvious. Bacon has the same fascination as I do; an unexplainable urge to constantly try to interpret or represent the figure. For me, he transformed the way in which we view the figure today." The Rebel:Can you work from old postcards and scraps of paper and film stills like Bacon did or do your best results come from working from a model? Louise:"Before studying Fine art I had never painted or drawn from a model, so found the process of drawing from life daunting thing, it look me two years to really free up when in the life room but now for the last year and a bit I do nothing other than paint and draw from life. It is only very recently that I am starting to use past drawings, cut outs from magazines, and photography. I feel as if this grounding of life drawing has opened up another door for me in my practise by using secondary sources again.
The Rebel:Are there any key movies in your life? Or films that always make you cry? Louise: "I don’t have to look too far to stimulate enough emotion to make me tearful, whether that’s got to do with being a woman or genetics… but one film that makes me cry every time is ‘The Little Princess’ it’s an old kids film now ,but even thinking about it wells me up! Think it’s got to do with the recurring nightmares I used to have as a child being separated from my parents through death or a kidnapping…
The Rebel: Are there any artists in your family and do your parents take an interest in what you do? Louise: "I am from a very creative family, no artists as such, but my mum is very musically talented and my dad has an amazing eye for detail and can copy a picture beautifully – I think our creative streak is from my Nan (dads mum). She paints stunning watercolour work but always copies from a picture.. so feels she isn't creative but that isn't true I think that’s just fear. My Brother and sister are also very artistic my brother is an incredible drawer and uses these skills in his landscape architecture business and my sister is an actress!"
The Rebel: What do you consider to be your best painting so far? Louise: "It’s strange; I have an odd relationship with my work. As soon as I've finished a new piece I think it’s the best work I have ever completed. Then in a few days I can’t bear to look at it… It then takes a few weeks or sometimes months until I re address the work and my feelings change again – usually fondness. I can’t really say what my ‘Favourite’ piece is … I paint what I want to paint because I enjoy it - otherwise I wouldn't do it, so what I ‘like’ the most always changes really. I know a big part of it comes when you release works its always really interesting to see how your opinion can change to a work once other people’s opinions are heard."
The Rebel:What are your ambitions? Louise: "My ambition is to get my work seen by as many people as I can… The feeling when a complete stranger emails you to say they really appreciate what you are doing or you hear your name is mentioned on another continent drives me on.But generally? To be happy, and travel as much as possible and to always be positive.
The Rebel: What's the most inspiring exhibition you've ever seen? Louise: "This is a hard question for me as I have found so many exhibitions inspiring, but one that really sticks in my mind is the The Picasso exhibition in Malaga. I don’t know whether it’s because we hear so much about Picasso’s work whether you’re an artist or not but I almost became numb to the constant study at university and the constant reference to his work, that it wasn't until I visited this beautiful space with some of his most famous works right down to some mindless scribbles that I really built a deep appreciation and what he did, How he changed art single handily inspired and influenced every artist’s work today , whether they know it or not.
The Rebel: What's the best thing about being you? Louise: "I think the people around me.. I am lucky, I have an amazing fiancé, family and friends and these are the people who drive me on and keep me sane."