Thursday 29 December 2011

Introducing The Values

The story of The Values began in 2010 with "Trojan Horse" - a protest song about the Nazi BNP leader Nick Griffin being given the red carpet treatment by the organisers of the BBC's Question Time show.
The lyrics for Trojan Horse were half inspired by a speech made by Jerry Dammers (who was one of the many people protesting outside the BBC building while the interview with the former Holocaust denier Nick Griffin was taking place). And half inspired by a Richard Herring comedy routine which compaired the apathy of young people today who don’t even bother to leave their house and vote with British people of the past who were willing to leave their country and join The International Brigade fighting against Franco's fascists.
Julian Wakeling, who is both the musical director of The Values and the producer of Trojan Horse previoulsy collaborated with Diane Charlemagne on dance tracks such as Under One Sky on the Drifting Soul label.
Trojan Horse was sung by newcomer Marie Smith and featured a brilliant sax solo by Paul Speare (a former member of both Dexys and the TKO Horns).
(Above: Singer Marie Smith with Mick Jones, who makes a cameo in the Values video)
David Sheppard (who was has written well received biographies of both Elvis Costello and Brian Eno) heard the song and said:
"Noble lyrical sentiments and delicious backing track. Whoever wrote the organ line/hook deserves a hearty handshake."
Another fan of the song was Jon Wilde who has written for numerous magazines including Melody Maker, Loaded, The Guardian and Uncut. Wilde’s response couldn't have been much more enthusiastic…
“This is really, really, really fucking good. Best thing I've heard in ages, in fact. It's rootsy to the core and it's as real as thunder.
She might not know it as yet but the female vocalist is a natural. Her phrasing is impeccable. The interplay between her and the male vocalist, I could do with more of that. Great sax too... My simple gauge of a great song is that you want it to go on for another five minutes. I could do with another five minutes of this...When the "rap" comes in at the end, I want it to extend for a good while. Consider me a convert. More please.”
(Image Above: Paul Speare, Harry Pye, Gordon Beswick, Juilan Wakeling)
In September 2010 a special edition of The Rebel was launched at The Sartorial Gallery in Kings Cross. Each copy of The Rebel magazine came with a free 4 track e.p by The Values.

Tracks on the e.p were
1) Gez Richmond's Disgrace Remake of Trojan Horse
2) "No Justice" sung by Josiah Steadman
3) Somebody's Fool (feat. Vic Godard)
4) Me, Me, Me (with music written and produced by Andrew Petrie)

Videos for several Values tracks (made by Team Beswick & Pye) were screened on the night. Below is a clip from the Trojan Horse video featuring Ritchie Lamby, Andrew Petrie and Marcus Cope.

The Values are recording a cover of the ska classic "You're Wondering Now" for a compilation CD that will raise much needed funds for young people suffering with cancer.
The track which was produced by Wakeling and Pye features all the usual suspects like Mikey Georgeson on piano, Andrew Petrie on organ, Ritchie Lamby on guitars PLUS: Rob Jones on drums and trumpet.
Yolanda Speare on baritone sax and Paul Speare on tenor sax. As well as very special guest singer: Roland Gift.

Monday 26 December 2011

Hits of the Year

Vic Godard with Irvine Welsh - Blackpool E.P
Harry Pye: "This is the new CD I have the listened to the most over the last 12 months. The songs on this e.p. are both funny and sad. They remind me of classic tracks like Dead End Street The Kinks."
Euros Childs - Spin Tht Girl Around (Label: National Elf)
Liam Curtin: "This is quite simply the best new song I've heard this year. I first heard this performed live in August at 'NatNight' in Cardiff and subsequently as part of a 6Music Session and then finally in it's released form on former Gorky's Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros' latest album 'Ends'.
It's a beautiful track with just Euros' unique voice and piano. It amazes me how Euros seems to efortlessly come up with such gems, as he has released 7 solo studio albums since 2006. Another musical highlight of 2011 was his collaboration with Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, Jonny, whose
excellent debut lp was released at the end of January. You can download much of Euros' music for free from his website, including the 'Ends' lp:

You can hear a great live BBC radio session version of 'Spin That Girl Around' here:

Tom Waits: Pay Me (Label: Anti/Epitaph)
Harry Pye: "(You're the same kind as) Bad As Me" rasps old Tom on the daft title track of his 17th studio album. My two favourite guitarists: Marc Ribot and Keith Richards are featured on several tracks which makes me happy. The best song on the album is quite a sad one. I don't know what type of music "Pay Me" is - it sounds kind of Irish and kind of French - anyway whatever it is I like it.

Y Niwl - Undegsaith (Label: Aderyn Papur)
Liam Curtin: "One of the best 7" singles I bought this year was 'Undegsaith' from North Walian instrumental surf-rock band Y Niwl. At 1 minute and 8 seconds long, it sounds to me like a long forgotten 60s tv theme. The first time I played this single I though 'is that it?' but that's the point I suppose.
Y Niwl (which translates as The Fog) have recently supported )and backed) Gruff Rhys on his 'Hotel Shampoo' tour and have been attracting some great reviews."
You can listen to Undegaith here:
Elvis Costello feat. Elmo: A Monster Went And Ate My Big Red Two (Label: D.N.A)
Robin Warren: "Wheeling in famous musicians to collaborate with the muppets of Sesame Street has produced some classic moments over the years, from Cab Calloway serenading the Two-Headed Monster, Harry Belafonte assisting The Count in his coconut counting duties and Stevie Wonder teaching Grover how to scat. Frankly, for kids in the 70s and 80s it was a one-way ticket to awesome. How could our current stars even hope to compare? Recent cameos have ranged from the sublime (Feist's version of her own '1,2,3,4' had her dancing with chickens) to the rather sloppy (James Blunt's 'My Triangle'). But this effort from the second most famous Elvis in history really isn't too bad at all, a song about a broken man grieving for his number 2, which has been eaten by a certain boggle-eyed monster. His friend (and apparent exact twin) Elmo has a temporary solution in the form of a replacement digit, but of course that soon gets eaten as well. The video ends with the issue unresolved but Elvis seemingly accepting his loss. Doesn't quite match up to REM's classic 'Happy Furry Monsters' or Feist's chicken-dancing routine, but a fine effort nonetheless, and a good introduction to the Costello Canon. Particularly for me, as I'd never heard the song it's based on."

Saturday 24 December 2011

Q & A with Clare Price

The image above is a painting made by Clare Price in 2011 called "See The Sunlight" (153 x 178cm Oil, Acrylic gouache, spray paint and household lacquers on canvas.)I first came across her work in the show Fresh Air Machine in London's Calvert 22 Gallery. For a full bio and more images visit here:
The Rebel: What have been the highs and lows of 2011?
Clare: "It has been a year of the most extreme highs and lows, the lows were my husband being very ill and my son not getting a secondary school place. The highs were my husband getting better and having success with his painting and my son getting into a school where he’s really happy.
Art wise the high points: I had my first solo show that some people who I really admire seemed to like (or at least that's what theysaid). Low points: a run of shocking paintings in the studio earlierin the year."
The Rebel: Next year you're exhibiting at Studio 1:1 in Redchurch street - what kind of work will be in the show?
Clare: "Thats something I will find out probably not long before everyoneelse. I have been working on pieces that aim to be more spare andreductive (although this is not always the outcome in fact sometimesthe opposite occurs). I have been experimenting with a more classicalpalette and oil paint and have just returned to my original landscape format but with reconsidered digital drawings that form the basis forthe paintings. There is a lot of shifting in my thoughts about the paintings and how I want them to be. I will just have to wait to seehow these manifest themselves in formal terms."
The Rebel: The titles of your paintings often sound like song titles. Do you like to have music on when you work?
Clare: "It depends, often I do as the sense of immersion in the music mirrors the sense of immersion in painting. I also like to listen out for snippets of lyrics and words poignant/pertinent to the work to stealfor titles. At present, however the paintings are using every bit ofmy brain and so I am working in silence. It also depends if anyone’s in in the studio next door."
(Above: Clare on her residency at Cortijada Los Gazquez in Andalucia in Spain.)
The Rebel:Do you think Spain is more sexy or romantic than England?
Clare:" No England is the sexiest and most romantic but I like the weather in Spain."
The Rebel:Does your mother like the work you make?
Clare: "No."
The Rebel: Are there any old masters or art legends that you just don't get? Is there anyone that just leaves you cold but that everyone else seems to rave about?
Clare:"Damien Hirst."
The Rebel:If you could have a lost weekend with any comedian who would it be? Is there anyone from showbiz that you've always had a crush on?
Clare: "Peter Cook. A girl crush on Patti Smith, the ultimate poster girl for the unconventional woman."
(Above: The bedazzling Peter Cook)

The Rebel: Does your mood change your work? Have your best paintings come about when your a bit lost and heartbroken or when your feeling strong and confident?
Clare: "Lost and heartbroken does seem to have the advantage of enhancing thework, it’s good there’s an upside to that. My work is pretty emotional and raw at times which is probably dreadfully unfashionable,although I have learned over time not to worry about these things toomuch. I’m not sure if strong and confident are feelings I am familiar with in the studio but I’ll let you know how it goes if that happens."
The Rebel: Are there any bus routes you know like the back of your hand? Which bus do you think you've been on the most?
Clare: "Loads I am a bit of a geek about these kind of things, the 37 and 38and 37A Lymm to Altrincham and Lymm to Warrington gave me my escape routes to Manchester and Liverpool as a youth so these I will always hold dear. I think the number 12 from Peckham to the west end has to win theprize of most often travelled on, a deep mental groove has been worn through repetition of that route in my life (especially when it was aroutemaster the bendy bus was less alluring). I also know the 171 the36 the N12 the 345 ,78, 68, 159,73, 343 I could go on but I’m starting to scare myself."
The Rebel: Whose the best tutor you've had?
Clare:"David Moulson a painting tutor on my foundation at London RoadStudios, Mid Cheshire College in Northwich. He was incredibly inspirational and lit the touch-paper for my already smouldering love of painting. He was energised, painting incessantly himself, its no coincidence that I have met many amazing artists over the years who also were under his tutelage. He was mad about 1950s abstract painting and there was a lot of throwing buckets of paint at canvases going on amongst his students. He ruled over a wonderful victorian purpose built painting studio with stained glass windows and amazing speed life drawing, he was great. (Berndt Koberling at the Academy in Berlin comes in at number two hemade quite an impression on me when I was 20 in a heavyweight German painting professor kind of a way. He said it like it was and it was not always comfortable but it was always right. I remember a lot of what he said to this day)."
(Above: A painting of Clare's mum)
The Rebel:Describe what it was like making a painting that represented your mother?
Clare:"Quite intense and weird.
The Rebel: Are you getting more driven and ambitious as you get older?
Clare: "It seems that way."
The Rebel: If we were to go for an Indian meal together what kind of curry would you most likely order?
Clare:"Chicken Shashlik and tarka Dhal and maybe sag aloo (I’m pretty greedy)oh and pilau rice."
The Rebel:What is your idea of beauty in nature?
Clare: "The things that spring to mind are a Cornish seascape on the Lizard,forget-me-nots and English wild flowers. Any kind of a dramaticlandscape with a sense of purity gets me every time, especially ifthere are mountains involved."
The Rebel:When are you at your most relaxed?
Clare:"When watching Coronation Street."

Thursday 15 December 2011

Q & A with Sean O'Connor

Sean O'Connor is a great painter. He also collaborates with Rob Dennis on videos that have been screened in venues across London including Hoxton hall, Crimes Town, and Tate Britain.
The Rebel: What is the Sean O'Connor story?
Sean O'Connor:"I was born on a Friday morning 33 years ago in Wrexham infirmary, just next to the Wrexham lager brewery that sadly is no more. My first memory was the smell of hops drifting into the delivery room. I am the only child to local girl Babs and Yorkshire man Mick. I am considered to be their pride and joy. Before I went to study painting at the local college (which was situated in both the morgue of the old hospital and a panel beaters garage), I dreamt of a steady football career playing for my beloved Wrexham F.C. It is well known that as a footbal club they are not very good, so I thought that it would be easy to play for them. However, when I started to play for the school team I realised that football is quite hard, well it was for me anyway, so I gave it up rather sharpish. I have now realised that art is an equally hard venture to master or at least to make something good that others appreciate just a bit. I hope to rectify this and try harder next year. Since Wrexham I have lived in Coventry, London and now Stockholm, where I live with my lovely girlfriend Sanna, my 6 month old son Dag, and our 11 year old cat Duster."
The Rebel: Do you wish it could be Christmas everyday?
Sean: "We will be staying with Mum and Dad in Wrexham. Me, Sanna and Dag will be sleeping in their bed and Mum and Dad are sleeping in my old room, with Dad on a blow up mattress. Dad got rid of all our Christmas decorations a few years back, but Mum tries to make it festive by sticking all her Christmas cards up around the house. She receives about 200, she is very popular in the North Wales area. No, I don't wish it was Christmas every day, maybe Easter every day would be better."
(Above: On the far right you can see Sean's painting of Carlos the footballer. The name of the exhibition was Night on Earth and it took place at The Oh Art Gallery at Bethnal Green's Oxford House.)

The Rebel: Do you think paying for art education is wrong? Was your education worth getting into debt for?
Sean: "I have been in debt for a long time now, and it is starting to get a little irritating. I have spent a lot on art education and sometimes I doubt my decision to embark on the treacherous journey. But, my art college days will probably go down in the O'Connor history books as the fondest of memories. It's a shame that it is becoming more and more expensive to study but I don't think it will put budding artists off the idea, student debt will always feel like monopoly money, well until you get a kid and have to apply for a mortgage! I think free art education could be a little chaotic and too bohemian, it might get messy."
The Rebel: What art things did you get up to in 2011? What were the highlights?
Sean: "Sadly there where not that many art highlghts, I had an MA show which was ok, I ran a bar in my space and showed some clips from Boy's from the Black Stuff. The cultural divide was evident immediately. The main highlight of 2011 has to be the birth of my son Dag in June. I love him to bits and I am really enjoying being his Dad. I just hope I am better at parenting than football, I think I might be.He looks exactly like his mum did when she was a baby, and he's blonde! He is the first blonde O'Connor in O'Connor history!"
The Rebel: What do you want to happen in 2012?
Sean: "Well, we are moving to a small cottage in the Swedish countryside it has a barn that I will start to paint in. I haven't painted in years so I am really excited about this. However it is situated next to an old slaughterhouse and mink farm, so I won't be able to spend late nights in there as I will probably get scared. It also has a river running through it so I will do a lot of fishing, which I love."
The Rebel: Do you miss being in London?
Sean: "Sometimes. I miss my friends more than London itself. I also miss the Hermits Cave in Camberwell. Next time I'm back I have to go there and hopefully bump into the scallywag that stole my favourite suede jacket on my leaving do."
(Above: Sean's painting of his Mother)
The Rebel:What's your mum like?
Sean: "Mum is lovely, others realise this too and it is apparent when you walk down the Wrexham high street with her. It takes about an hour to get from Boots to Poundstretcher, which aren't that far apart."
The Rebel: Name a few tracks that would definately be included if you were to compile me an old school 90 minute compilation tape of music you like?
Sean: "Unfortunately I have to include Hush by Kula Shaker because it came on the radio just after me and my friends had a small car crash and when it kicked in I realised I was still alive, it was a nice feeling. Tell Me When My Light Turns Green By Dexy's. Stay Up Late, Talking Heads. Killing Moon, Bunnymen. Dancing in the Moonlight, Thin Lizzy not Toploader. There is a light...Smiths. Under my Thumb, Stones. Hangin'Round, Lou Reed. Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac."
The Rebel: Tell me an artist that you think is over looked. I just want their name so I can google it.
Sean: "Oskar Korsár."

Sunday 11 December 2011

Q & A with Mark Wigan

Mark Wigan is one of Britain's most influential graphic artists. In the 1980s his work was always in mags like I-D. I used to find flyers he had designed and decorate my bedroom walls with them. Over the last 25 years he's had success as an author, a muralist and an animator and he's even painted on a gigantic toad. To witness examples of his greatness visit here:

Harry: You were one of my art heroes who were yours?
Mark: "Vladimir Mayakovsky, James Gillray, William Hogarth, Honore Daumier, Tristan Tzara, Jack Kirby, Jim Flora, Lowry, Luis Bunuel, Phizz Hablot Browne, Henry Darger, Edward Bawden, Paul Hogarth, Jules Phiffer, George Grosz, Robert Crumb, Otto Dix, John Heartfield to name a few."
Harry: What do you remember about the club scene in New York? How did Andy Warhol discover your work?
Mark: "I first spent time in NYC in 1986 going to clubs such as Area and Palladium and Save the Robots taking polaroid portraits for i-D Magazine
Warhol saw the Urbanites mural by myself and Yuval Zommer at Limelight London described it as HOT! and recommended we paint limelight on 6th ave NYC which we did.he also introduced us to Keith Haring while in NYC in 86."

Harry: Were you ever into the work of Jenny Holzer, do you see any links between her work and yours?
Mark: "I was familiar with her work, an interesting critical dialogue use of letterforms."
Harry: How long did you work for the NME - were they golden years?
Mark: "Working as a freelance illustrator 1983-7 I illustrated for NME and i-D amongst many other mags, (NME was very popular back then.)"
Harry: Is it acurate to describe you as being "big in Japan"?
Mark: "My work has been popular in Japan in the past e.g.-public art commissions, set designs and title sequences for popular tv shows and my own chain of illustrated merchandise shops in the 1990s and lots of live painting performances and interiors and murals for nightclubs across japan, I have spent a lot of time in Japan working on a wide variety of projects."
Harry: Do you own any artworks by other people, have you ever bought a painting?
Mark: "I have bought paintings by artist friends including a portrait by Mike Silva I also own a John Lennon print."
Harry: Do you think Philip Larkin would have enjoyed your toad artwork?
Mark: "It was a colourful toad it may have cheered him up a bit."
Harry: What would you like to do in the future? What are your art ambitions?
Mark: "I'm working on a pHd at the moment and 10 large pen and ink drawings for an exhibition in NYC next year, also continuing to lecture on undergraduate and post graduate programmes in Illustration and Design."
Harry: Tell me about the books you've published - which one is your favourite?
Mark: "I've authored five books on Illustration published by ava publishing (info online) translated into a number of languages and key texts at schools of art and design worldwide."
Harry: Do you see your work as always being positive and uplifting? Do you think you have a role to play?
Mark: "As an educator I nurture creativity and try to build up students confidence in their work, my own creative output - there is a sense of humour in the black and white ink drawings which are a form of reportage and social commentary and the colour work -paintings and murals is vibrant and uplifting."
Harry: Who are your favourite bands and singers?
Mark: "Raw uptempo 60s Northern Soul, Motown,40s big band swing,Blues, Punk Rock, Electro -Hip Hop, House, Ska, Rock n Roll, Lounge, Country so pretty eclectic tastes. Artists: Cab Calloway, Jackie Wilson, Linda Jones, Howlin Wolf, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Frank Sinatra, Sex Pistols, Clash, Prince Buster, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Afrika Bambaartaa."
Harry: What is your favourite album cover?
Mark: "Anything illustrated by Jim Flora, Jamie Reids never mind the bollocks sex pistols, the clash the clash, Funkadelic album covers, Peter Savilles work for Joy Division and any bluenote record covers by David Stone Martin."
Harry: How are you going to spend the rest of the day?
Mark: "Lecturing with final year students of BA (Hons) Illustration at Hull School of Art and Design."