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I’m probably the biggest Sleeper fan you’ll ever meet... and I’m super excited to see them reform to play a few dates for the upcoming Star Shaped Festivals.
Personally speaking, the rumors of them reforming started in 2015, on the 20th anniversary of the release of their ‘Inbetweener’ single, which is the band’s signature song (although not my personal favorite single from them). The rumors were actually pretty solid, as I even got word from the rarely heard (or seen) original bassist, Diid Osman in 2015. We talked over email and I learned that he was still keeping in contact with guitarist Jon Stewart, so it felt like the time was right.
Anyway, it’ll be good to have Louise Wener and company back. I wish I was going!
P.S., Other Britpopsters The BLuetones, Space, and Salad will be joining Sleeper.
Birmingham, O2 Institute (July 29)
London, O2 Forum (August 5)
Glasgow, O2 ABC (August 12)
Manchester, O2 Ritz (August 19)
You’ve been on my mind, like a tumor, eating away at my every thought...
Before Britpop, there was a New Wave of New Wave (NWONW) and S*M*A*S*H was part of this movement... Unfortunately, the quick shot to fame left the band crashing and burning and died in January 1996. As a big fan of S*M*A*S*H, I’ve been following their movement post-long hiatus.
S*M*A*S*H recently released their new album, Goodbye W.G.C., with album title logo and cover artwork inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.. As of this writing, I do not believe the record is available to buy in the U.S.A., but you can always import it.
The trio (Ed, Salv, and Rob) just headlined The Green Room earlier this week (February 11th) and their next gig is at Banquet Records on February 26th - it’s £11 but includes CD. No excuse if you live in the area. Go take some photos for me.
Goodbye W.G.C. Tracklisting:
I'd work very hard but I'm lazy, I've got a lot of songs but they're all in my head. I'll get a guitar and a lover who pays me, if I can't be a star I won't get out of bed.
In mid/late January 2017, Abbey Roads Studios mastering engineer Sean Magee wrote on his twitter that he “cut a record for Elastica today.”
Hold the phone. What?
A photo of Donna, Justin, and Annie, appearing at Abbey Roads came online via @Britpopmemories with singer Justine Frischmann obviously missing. She wasn’t at the studio with them, but the band promised that Justine is involved and that we should not worry. Justine has been a U.S.A. resident for a long time now, so it made sense that she couldn’t easily make it to the British studio.
There probably won’t be a tour, as I know Annie notoriously hated being on the road, but I will settle for a new Elastica record!
NOTE: The inside scoop I was given is that Elastica met in the studio to remaster their old albums, so I’m told there will not be any new songs from them.
I had no rock n roll credentials. So when I went to Manchester (University, where Wener studied politics and English) and suddenly there was an ad for a singer or a guitarist on every notice board, it was all a bit of a revelation. Id come from a sleepy little suburb, brought up mostly on pop music. I just wanted to be famous, like Blondie or Bananarama. Of course, once Sleeper got big, I had to pretend to be all indie and earnest but, in truth, everything I learnt about bands was done on the job.
There was no camaraderie among the women of Britpop. In fact, the competition was fierce. It definitely felt like there was only room for a few of us, and that made for a very bitchy atmosphere. If there was any sense of shared experience during that era, it was around drugs. You hung out with the drunkards, or the cokey ones, or the heroiney ones or all of the above.
People still recognise me in the street, which feels bizarre now Im 44. I also get a few people on Twitter saying, Wow, I was in love with you in 1995. Im not sure how to respond to that other than to point out that its 2011 and possibly time to move on.
Im very grateful that Andy (Sleeper drummer turned music lecturer and Louises partner of 16 years) and I made it through the Britpop years unscathed. Because everything youve been told about the moral bankruptcy of that time is sadly true: two men having sex with one groupie on the tour bus, or female fans lining up after gigs offering blow jobs. Some people did lose themselves in it all. Luckily, I've always had a good bullshit detector and I was aware that although fame was exciting, it was also fragile and would end one day.
Britpop didn't make me rich. We got about £12,000 for a six-album deal! This fact still makes me want to weep.
I've heard some great rumours about myself. It's true that Graham Coxon [Blurs guitarist] proposed to me repeatedly when we toured together, although, he proposed to just about everybody. Sadly, it's not true that I play one of the ZingZillas on CBeebies. I havent countered that myth before because I wish I did.
I came to motherhood late. I had Iris (now five) when I was 39 and Frank two years later. Iris birth was very traumatic. An inexperienced midwife made some very bad mistakes and it ended up with me having a blood transfusion. Despite that, it never affected my bond with Iris. It felt to me from the start as though it was the two of us versus the rest of the world.
Being a parent means a constant sense of incompletion. When youre with them, theres always that little bit of the old you, nagging about what youre missing, and yet, when youre away from them, you dont feel whole.
It also makes you examine your own childhood. Looking back, I think my dad had a depressive illness, although he would never have described it like that. His lack of fulfilment was certainly the elephant in the room for me and my brother and sister when we were growing up. The sad thing is he finally started studying law his great passion after retiring, but died soon afterwards. I think my willingness to throw myself into things that attract me is probably a reaction to his missed opportunities.
Writing my first novel was about regaining some autonomy. While I was in Sleeper, there were always people to please the rest of the band and the record label. Once I was alone with my little electric typewriter, it just felt the right thing to do. I wrote two half-novels and junked them before I started to understand structure, pacing, timing and character. I was about 10 chapters into what would become my first novel, Goodnight Steve McQueen, when I knew it was good enough to send to a publisher.
I draw on people I know when Im writing. But I dont think friends would recognise themselves in any of my novels. Its more facets of people I use, rather than faithful copies. The trick is to embellish your own experience to bring a character to life.
Sometimes the work/life balance thing doesn't work at all. Find me any mum who doesn't say that. At the moment, Iris is at school and Frank goes to nursery two days a week. Even without Andy and me having to do massive London commutes, there are days when the jigsaw just will not fit together.
I worry about role models for Iris. There is something deeply unsettling about whats passing for female empowerment at the moment. Dont get me wrong, there was a lot wrong for women back when I was considered a role model, but, back then, nobody was getting their boobs out not in the music business, anyway. I dont, for example, get why Cheryl Cole is such an idol for women. We have taken a step backwards as far as feminism is concerned and not many people appear to be questioning that. As the mother of a daughter, thats worrying.
I've suddenly got a yen to get married. Having had no particular inclination for it before Im not religious and I certainly dont need the government to approve my relationship I now have a little germ of a fantasy to do it. Maybe in a year or so when the kids are both old enough to join in and to remember it. Im not interested in the frock or any of that stuff, but the idea of a big old knees-up for my friends and everyone I love is getting more and more attractive.
Letting go is good to do. When Sleeper broke up, I felt like Id been demobbed but, at the same time, knew that I would never start up a solo career. I accepted that that phase of my life was over (my mum helpfully told me that I could always go and work in a shop). If I could go back now and talk to that younger me who was leaving the band, I would tell her, Dont regret it. Youve done something hardly anybody else gets to do. You've lived the dream, it was fun, and now its time to move on. Its all right and its going to get better.
Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop, by Louise Wener (Ebury Press, £7.99), is published on June 9th
Thanks to Troy for sending this in.
Story, character and truth: Louise Wener’s writing tips
by Louise Wener / 07 July 2016
creative-writing class, the first thing I do is ask students to tell me their endings. This may sound counter-intuitive but if you know where your novel ends, there’s a good chance you know how to get there. With an end point there’s a journey. With journey comes story. And story is everything.
We aim to sharpen your dialogue on this course. We aim to light up your powers of description. To take a scythe to your adverbs, make you tight and precise, help you edit and structure, and find voice. But story is king. If we can turn out storytellers by the end of six months, I feel as though we’re getting it right.
Before you set out on your novel, see if you can summarise your plot in a sentence. Keep in mind that good stories need conflict. Very often there is something at stake for your central character. Ask yourself three questions. What does my character want? What are the obstacles in his/her way? What are the consequences for my character if he/she doesn’t succeed? If you have good answers to these questions, the chances are you’re on your way to a story that people will want to read.
To plot we’ll ask you to add character. To character I want you to add truth. A common problem for new writers is creating believable characters. How do we make them live and breathe? How do we make them sing from the page? First attempts can be generic. Characters read like something out of central casting. The bland wife. The ordinary husband. The identikit detective who drinks too much.
Consider this. Think about the moment you first became close to someone. The moment they crossed over from acquaintance to friend. Chances are it happened when the other person told you something. They opened up. They let you see the ‘real’ them. That’s what you need to do with characters. Fast-forward the acquaintance stage; in fact skip it altogether. Take us straight to the heart of who they are. What they feel. What their secrets might be.
In the office, on the school run, people you see every day can merge into archetypes. And then you talk. You speak to them at a moment of crisis or hope; fear or elation and you see who they really are. They surprise you. They tell you stories about their lives you never imagined. They expose insecurities that make you connect with them because you’ve felt that way too.
Human beings are complex. If you want your characters to live, let us see them. In all their vivid imperfection.
Story. Character. Truth. The three pillars that will make you a better writer. And while you’re at it, cut 50 per cent of your adverbs. It will generally, probably, help.
For more information or to apply for other Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing courses, please click here.
I've started scanning my Sleeper Archive into Tumblr about a 3rd of the way through, though you might like to see.
When I first heard the news that Lush reformed in September 2015, I was super excited. I had heard the rumors as far as 2013 or 2014 when singer Miki Berenyi granted interviews with Under the Radar and other magazines, so I can’t say I was completely surprised.
Just for the record, in case you aren’t a Lush fan or keep track of these things, but the Shoegazing-turned-Britpop band broke up after their drummer Chris Acland’s suicide in 1996. We caught the band in 1994 and noted, “vivid memories of watching drummer Chris Acland with his mouth wide open throughout the set (and I thought that was really strange).”
I’ve said this before, but these shows are very special because not only are we getting Lush again with the original members (Miki, Emma Anderson, and Phillip King... and filling in for Acland will be Justin Welch, formerly of Elastica), but this will also be a nice reunion for the fans. Trust me, you’ll see plenty of people you haven’t seen in the last twenty years... and it’ll be great!
Lush tour dates are:
4/14/16 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
4/16/16 Indio, CA @ Coachella
4/17/16 San Francisco, CA @ Warfield
4/19/16 Portland, OR @ Crystal Room
4/20/16 Seattle, WA @ Showbox
4/21/16 Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
4/23/16 Indio, CA @ Coachella
9/14/16 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
9/15/16 Boston, MA @ Royale
9/18/16 Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
9/21/16 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
9/22/16 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Guitarist Jon Stewart (not to be confused with actor/comedian/show host Jon Stewart), was on The StageLeft Podcast last month. As a big Sleeper fan, obviously I wanted to bring this to your attention.
Head over to Soundcloud.com, or click on the right.
Recorded at The Brighton Dome, The StageLeft Podcast is joined by our great influence, Senior Lecturer in Music Business Studies & Sleeper Guitarist - Jon Stewart.
Jon talks us through being centric to the whirlwind of Britpop, his role as Music Director on Kevin Spacey's Telstar: The Joe Meek Story and appearing on the Trainspotting soundtrack. Jon tells us the advice he gives the many musicians he's worked with in relation to dealing with the pressures of the public eye, the difficulties that arise when being in a band with a complex set of personal relationships and current projects Jon is embarking on in relation to helping recovering alcoholics.
- "The 'Fame' experience is a mental health condition... it's a form of mental illness"
- "The way I dealt with it was to drink and to take lots of drugs"
- "This feels like a bit of a therapy session..."
Jon also tells us about being on Richey Edwards final tour with the Manic Street Preachers, supporting REM & Radiohead, playing with KD Lang, and having his music covered by Elvis Costello.
Look, I love Space, okay? They are a silly little band from Liverpool with silly songs like “Female of the Species” and “Me & You Vs the World”, etc. If you listen to Spiders, it’s clear that these guys love cinema, particularly American cinema. I think for their first US tour, we caught the band in Los Angeles in 1997 (?). It’s been a long time, but it was their first LA gig from what I can recall.
The band broke up for a while, but came back to the music scene in 2011. Last year, the band announced a new single “Strange World” (read all about it on news.weheartmusic.com, taken from their fifth studio album Give Me Your Future (Mulu Records).
7th April 2016 The Brook, Southampton
8th April 2016 Academy, Bournemouth
15th April 2016 Academy, Oxford
16th April 2016 The Haunt, Brighton
23rd April 2016 Bellfield Tavern, Kilmarnock
29th April 2016 Academy Newcastle
30th April 2016 Arc, Stockton
6th May 2016 Empire Music Hall, Belfast
7th May 2016 The Grand Social, Dublin
13th May 2016 Fruit, Hull
14th May 2016 Waterside Arts Centre, Manchester
21st May 2016 Academy Birmingham
28th May 2016 Academy, Leicester
29th May 2016 100 Club, London
3rd June 2016 Fox & Goose, Southport
June 9th 2016 The Box, Crewe
10th June 2016 The Citadel, St. Helens
11th June 2016 The Exchange, Stoke-on-Trent
9th-10th July 2016 Frodsham Summer Festival 16
23rd July 2016 PKD Festival, Fife
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS
I have seen Super Furry Animals at Coachella before... the only thing I can remember was that they were on early on the bill and that they dedicated “Mountain People” to the mountains.
They’ve been around for a long time, but, of course, every time they play in Minneapolis, either with the full band or as solo Gruff Rhys, I have been busy with another show or not available. Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think they’re coming back here as a full band. I see that demands for them in Los Angeles is go good, they’ve added an additional date.
SFA is currently in the US again, but not promoting a new album. Oddly enough their 15-year-old album Welsh-only Mwng album got reissued by Domino Records recently... so expect some of those classic songs to make their way to their setlist.
2/09 San Francisco, CA @ Great American
2/10 San Jose, CA @ The Ritz
2/11 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
2/12 Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
4/29 Austin, TX @ Levitation
4/30 Austin, TX @ Levitation
5/01 Austin, TX @ Levitation
5/03 Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
5/04 Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall
5/05 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
5/06 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
5/07 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
GIGANTIC INDIE ALL DAYER VOL 3
The lineup for Gigantic Indie All Dayer Vol 3: A Big, Big Love looks incredible. The music festival is taking place at Manchester Academy on 28 May 2016 and will feature headliner The Wonder Stuff... but personally, I am more interested in Bentley Rhythm Ace (aka “BRA”), S*M*A*S*H, and Frank and Walters.... oh and may Menswe@r (yes, they are still around!)
The after show will feature Mike Joyce (The Smiths), MCs & DJs Marc & Jason Jones (Indiecation & Planet X, Liverpool), and Andy Woods (Smile / Unknown Pleasures).
You know that I'm a massive Sleeper fan. The second time I saw Sleeper, they had signed on to open up for Elvis Costello on an eight US tour. According to my ticket stub, with taxes and fees, it was slightly over $30 to see about a 30-minute set from my then-favorite British band.
From my poor memory, there were only about ten or so Sleeper fans and some fans got back in line to get more items signed. Louise, Jon, Andy, and Diid, they were more than happy to signed everything though (in fact, if I had known, I would have brought my entire discography for them to sign). The look on their faces, it felt like they were surprised anyone showed up at all. I know the band was big in the UK (appearing on various magazines and weeklies), but in America, it was a struggle for them to crack the US market.
Anyway, according to various flyers, the meet & greet was at 3:30pm, and their stage appearance was 9pm.
I might have also mentioned that I've regretted the fact that we left Costello's set mid-way. I was with friends, and they wanted to leave... so I blame them!
What's interesting to note is that by 1995-1996, Costello was a huge Britpop fan. He had various artists like Lush and Sleeper covering his songs (and in fact, Costello returned the favor to Sleeper by covering their song "What Do I Do Now?")
While obviously many Britpop bands failed to transition to the modern age, Costello proved that he's more than just a fad. He's still actively recording music and playing live shows... with an upcoming US tour. Pump it up, when you don't even need it!
03/01/15 Boulder, CO Boulder TheaterHere is a review of the Sleeper set, originally published by Consumeable. The website is no longer online, so this is for archival purpose. It is written by one of my friends, and having re-read it, I had forgotten that Louise Wener was barefoot on stage! We had pretty bad seats, that's all I can remember.
03/03/15 Lincoln, NE Rococo Theatre
03/05/15 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theater
03/06/15 Tulsa, OK Cain's Ballroom
03/07/15 Springfield, MO Gillioz Theatre
03/09/15 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
03/10/15 Memphis, TN Minglewood Hall
03/12/15 New Orleans, LA The Civic Theatre
03/13/15 Mobile, AL Saenger Theatre
03/14/15 Jacksonville, FL Florida Theatre
03/16/15 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
03/17/15 Orlando, FL Dr. Phillips Center
03/18/15 Fort Lauderdale, FL Broward Center
04/26/15 Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre
Sleeper, Greek Theatre, U.C.Berkeley - Robin Lapid
originally published on Consumeable
It's a shame that the British press continues to slag off Sleeper for music that's often described as rehashed and banal. The truth is, the British quartet's female-fronted pop group does not make innovative or even original music - but with acts like Bush and Hootie and the Blowfish on the American airwaves, this isn't necessarily the most heinous crime). However, Sleeper does put out tuneful songs with enough good hooks and catchy refrains to warrant them consideration as a fun listen and a potentially enlivening night out. And in an era where male-dominated groups still domineer the music charts, singer-guitarist Louise Wener's sexually potent and politically incisive lyrics add zest to the scene. As the opening act for Elvis Costello and the Attractions' current U.S. tour, however, some of the band's more appealing live qualities may have gotten lost in obscurity. The largely thirtysomething crowd filtering in throughout the set seemed more in need of a fix to get off their high of seeing Sting a couple of weeks ago than to test drive the latest indie music hopefuls.
Sleeper do not necessarily make easy-listening music. Sure, there are some by-the-book pop riffs and the occasional backing horns which lend a respectable gravitas to their repertoire. But underneath the bouncy, grooving sounds lurk spiky rhythms and a sardonic sense of musical self-control. During a half-hour set to an anxious crowd of Elvis followers, Sleeper delivered songs from their debut release Smart as well as their recent domestic release The It Girl. Backed by the laudable musicianship of lead guitarist Jon Stewart, bassist Diid Osman, and drummer Andy MaClure, Wener pens songs which find their own niche within the female-fronted indie scene. Edgier than Velocity Girl yet more refined than Elastica's bare-bones pop, raspy-voiced Wener sings the lives and loves of modern life a la Blur lyricist Damon Albarn. But this time it's from the perspective of a clever woman who makes no bones about the state of female sexuality rather than from a clever man who obsesses over the fears of a numbing patriarchy gone awry.
Barefoot and clad in figure-hugging jeans and t-shirt, Wener bounced around a bit and delivered the band's friendlier pop numbers but managed to sprinkle in the odd tune that bespoke their more sinister side, not just in the lyrics but in the music itself. The closing song, "Alice In Vain," demonstrates this perfectly. It's a hard-driving tune which languishes in the rhythmic stupor of the displaced heroine ("Oh ah, such a pity/ She's not even pretty").
This is the type of music best suited for the typical "indie" scene, with an intimate mass huddled together, jumping about within the dim confines of a dingy club. As an opening band at an outdoor ampitheatre filled with couples and families huddled under blankets and packed dinners, it's an entirely different mood. Elvis Costello fans clapped graciously while waiting for a musician who certainly excels in his own right. Though satisfying, Sleeper's set was a deceptive one, providing pleasant pop but with some of its fangs removed.
Louise Wener on Sleeper
Louise Wener talks to Jo and Steve Lamacq about her time in Britpop band, Sleeper.
Available since: Today (04/11/2014)
Britpop Style File: Louise Wener of Sleeper
March 13, 2013 Kayley Kravitz
Sleeper’s Louise Wener was one of the reigning queens of Britpop. She fronted the Sleeperblokes with her Telecaster and sang Britpop anthems like “Inbetweener” and “Sale Of the Century.” Louise’s style was softer than that of fellow Britpop girl Justine Frischmann. Louise favored the current ’90s trends and donned a lot of sporty, stripped mini dresses and crop tops. Some of her looks are pretty dated so I found it a bit of a challenge to find Louise-worthy duds on ModCloth but I did my best. Add these items to your wardrobe for a bit of “it girl” flair: