Indieterria meets Karl Hildebrandt

Dear Readers,

There is nothing better than to interview a poet. They are the people who understand life, who know their scene and who quietly put into words what we cannot even express. In a way, they are chroniclers of victories and struggles of life. It was Czesław Miłosz who said that the poet remembers and it is very true. So it was a true pleasure and privilege to speak to Manchester`s finest spoken word artist and poet – Karl Hildebrandt ahead of Musicians Against Homelessness gig on 21st August at The Night People.

Karl is known not only for his extraordinary poems but also for his active involvement in music and his charity work on a local level. Proper stuff as they say in Mancunia.

Mosh Pit Poet Laureate – Karl bringing poetry to the gigs.

You are a man of many talents: multi – instrumentalist, spoken word artist, poet, roadie and a stage hand. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Karl Hildebrandt: I’ve had a love of music and words since an early age. Bother listening and eventually playing. I’ve always written words. Just never had the nerve to do it live till about 5 years ago. “Mancunian Gobshite” sums me up to be honest.

Dark and witty poetry has won you many notable fans: Denise Johnson, Dave Haslam, MC Tunes to mention a few. You take daily conversations, occurrences and fleeting moments and turn them into heart wrenching observations.  What inspires you?

Karl Hildebrandt: Life inspires me. I tend to brain dump either on paper or my phone. I see the good and the shitty bits and write it down. In the last 8 months or so, my prose has become a lot lighter than previously. I am happy and in love.

You have been performing at concerts, open mic nights and  jam sessions earning yourself a nick name “Mosh Pit Poet Laureate”.  Do you see spoken word as a part of a regular gig? There are still many people out there who think poetry belongs in libraries, not concert halls.

Karl Hildebrandt: I think poetry and spoken word is becoming a bit more popular. A pot of acts are putting words over music. I am, but I prefer the purity of just getting up to “shout at the traffic”. If people hear you, they’re listening.

Looking out for inspiration.

For a while you have been in a band The G-O-D with Chris Bridgett (Dub Sex) and Simon Wolstencroft (Ian Brown, The Fall) as a bassist. Do you think this project will make a come back?

Karl Hildebrandt: No. Chris has a new project called Cold Water Swimmers, who are amazing. And Simon is busy doing what Simon does, being Funky Si. In the San Pedro Collective.

Please tell us about your involvement in San Pedro Collective – another musical project that you are a part of. San Pedro just released an EP that gathered rave reviews in the music press. Is that true that one of the songs was inspired by your mother?

Karl Hildebrandt: The San Pedro Collective is the brainchild of Manchester’s finest maverick, Rikki Turner. His vision to bring artists and musicians together to create something unique for the eyes and ears is genius. The Demon Sessions EP is being rehearsed for live work. Gigs are coming up. And the next single will be dropping soon. And yes, inspired by me losing my mum, but it’s a paean to loss of any kind.

If you had to chose one particular poetry movement to identify  with, which one would it be? Beatniks, Modernists or maybe something more old school like The Cavaliers?

Karl Hildebrandt: The Beats. I hate structure within any art form. Be it music, poetry, art or whatever. I feel hemmed in by conformity. Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg helped me understand you can be honest about writing and not worry about what you’ve written. Never be afraid to create.

You are also known for your charity work, often contributing to incentives as Musicians Against Homelessness. Can you tell us about this charity and its work?

Karl Hildebrandt: MAH was set up by Alan McGee and Emma Rule to create a platform for musicians and creatives to raise both funds and awareness for homelessness. In the North West we have Andy White and Angela Moore, co-coordinating gigs and events. Both top people as well. I’m also doing some spoken word for Action Against Hunger at Moovin Festival for Deborah Faulkner-Moscrop and I’ve done stuff for various other charities. Give it – you get it back.

If you don`t have a pen and paper, mobile phone is a great tool to record poems!

On 21st August you will appear at Night People as part of a fundraiser to fight homelessness.  Who is on the bill and what can we expect from your set?

Karl Hildebrandt: The gig is on at Night People on Princess Street in Manchester. Top line up including acoustic sets from Thomas from The Blinders, Scuttlers, Afghan Sound Gang and Maddy Storm amongst others. And me, of course. I found a poem, a poem I couldn’t remember writing which will fit the bill. I supported Dave Johns (Daniel Blake) at Moston Miners and recorded it on the bus on the way home. It’s very, very sweary.

Imagine that one of your works is to appear in anthologies or school syllabuses, like John Cooper Clarke`s “I Wanna Be Yours”. Do you have a poem that you consider your major or most significant piece?

Karl Hildebrandt: I honestly don’t know. My stuff contains far too many swear words, but if I had to choose one, “Another Bastard List Poem About Manchester”. I’ve done a Liverpool version and have been asked for a London version as well.

We can`t pass this opportunity. Do you think we can get a haiku out of you about Indieterria?

Karl Hildebrandt:  Sorry, I struggle with haiku. I’ll get my mate Dave Norman to do one for you. Here’s one of my favourites though:

“The taste of rain
Why kneel?” –

Jack Kerouac

Proper.

You can follow Karl on the socials (you know those pesky online pages), but he is often found at the nearest Social or other boozer/venue in the neighbourhood.

https://mitherdimps.wordpress.com/
https://soundcloud.com/mither
https://www.facebook.com/karl.hildebrandt1
https://twitter.com/RTransmissions

Essential reading:

http://essentiallypop.com/epop/2016/02/holy-trinity-new-punk-trio-the-g-o-d-features-members-of-dub-sex-the-fall-and-ian-browns-band
http://www.soundspheremag.com/spherecast/listen-spoken-word-karl-hildebrandt-will-it-be-forever/

 

Poster for MAH gig on 21st August 2019

You can see Karl (and many others) doing their thing for Musicians Against Homelessness on 21st August 2019 at The Night People in Manchester. Tickets are £5.

Event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/703946873388361/

Tickets page:
https://www.fatsoma.com/night-people/cvr968u0/musicians-against-homelessness-night-people

The full line up is as follows:

Thomas Haywood (The Blinders)
Afghan Sand Gang
Scuttlers (acoustic set)
Ellysse Mason
Maddy Storm
Karl Hildebrandt
Shot by a Shotgun Slug

We are proud to say that we will be attending MAH gig at The Night People so there will be a lot to report back! We are hoping to see some of you down the front.

M/R

Indieterria meets The Humdrum Express

Dear Readers,

We continue  our series of interviews with musicians we think shape music scenes and sonic landscapes around us this year.  They don`t have to be spring chickens leading revolutions and tearing roofs off the venues. They can be experienced artists, wiser in their business ways and accompanied by a trusty guitar. And they are still relevant, on point and powerful in their expression. Today, we present you Ian Passey, who is the force behind The Humdrum Express. Ian will be one of the artists that will rock Worcester for Musicians Against Homelessness.  Read on, dear friends. This is as we say: banger of an interview and an artist you have to know.

A thousand things to worry about

An esteemed artist, Ian Passey, has built a solid fan base in the West Midlands under his moniker, The Humdrum Express. Championed by BB6 Music and sharing stages with the rock and roll greatest, Ian is returning to his home turf this September to support Worcester Music Festival and play a charitable show for the national campaign, Musicians Against Homelessness. We have met Ian to discuss his many achievements, stardom and new music he is currently working on.


BBC describes you as “One man, a few instruments and a thousand things to worry about”. Who exactly is Ian Passey?

Ian Passey:  I’m a singer/songwriter based in Kidderminster. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember, firstly as a member of various bands (Smedley, Jackpot, Swagger). After a bit of a break, I decided to do my own thing, initially bedroom recordings, before taking the plunge back into gigging. Ten years later, I’m still here – writing and performing with as much enthusiasm as I’ve ever had. I suppose the “thousand things to worry about” tag came from the underdog slant of the lyrics, attempting to fear the worst in a humorous way. Either that or it’s a good guess!

The Humdrum Express is your solo project. You write your own music, produce your albums and play all instruments – you are a one man band. Do you prefer to work alone?

Ian Passey:  Although that was the case a few years ago, in more recent times, I’ve really enjoyed working with other people. My last couple of albums and most recent EP has been produced by Mick Lown. Not only is he fun to work with, but also has a great knack of suggesting ideas and instrumentation to suit a particular song. It’s a refreshing way to work which helps to prevent getting stuck in a rut. As far as videos go, I’ve been teaming up with Nick J. Townsend pretty regularly. Again, he’s someone I really enjoy working with to help expand on some of my ideas. I love to get as many people involved as possible with the videos and I’m always amazed by how many love being a part of them. I’ve also got several musician friends, who have enhanced some of the recordings for which I’m extremely grateful. Long may these collaborations continue! I’m always on the lookout for new ones if anyone’s interested…

Ian Passey performing – photo by Arthur Passey

It is hard to categorize your music. Some journalists put you into spoken word or singer/songwriter category; others consider you to be a prime example of what experimental music should sound like. How do you feel about the constant need of squeezing artist into existing genres? Is there any style that could comfortably describe what you are doing or do you avoid being labelled at all?

Ian Passey:  The need for genres is something that has bugged me for years! I always put lyrics ahead of any particular musical style and I’m quite happy to change it when the need arises. I love the spoken word style as much as the classic verse/chorus/middle eight structures. It all about getting the maximum impact from a phrase, I suppose.

Your lyrics, an important part of your music, are complex and straightforward. They’ve earned you a reputation of a “bespectacled observationist, casting a cynical eye over exasperating times”. Where do you look for inspiration?

Ian Passey:   I don’t really look anywhere for it, but always seem to stumble across something. That being said, this is proving to be my leanest year, writing wise, for some time. Perhaps I should start looking?! Like most artists, I work better when there’s a deadline looming so maybe I should start thinking about album number six…

The Humdrum Express album “(Failed Escapes from the) Clones Town Blues” received great reviews from leading music journalists such as Steve Lamacq. Your newest release “The Day My Career Died” has been championed on BB6 Music. Has the exposure helped you to advance your career outside of West Midlands?

Ian Passey:   It’s been fantastic in so many ways. Being pitched alongside artists I admire has helped improve and focus my writing. The thought of being found out as an impostor drives me on to write stuff worthy of the airplay! The knock-on effect is obviously the new people all over the world who suddenly have access to your music.

You have shared stages with many legends: performance poet John Cooper Clarke, Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü), Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), The Wombats, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Wedding Present, Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers) and Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) to name just a few. If you could choose another person to perform with, who would that be?

Ian Passey:  Tricky question! Billy Childish would be nice as it would mean he was back playing live again. I did three dates with John Cooper Clarke around 2010 and I’d love the opportunity again, although the venues he’s packing out these days are much bigger than back then. I was due to support the Sleaford Mods a couple of years ago until the promoter in Leamington opted for a more local act instead. That would have been great, but it wasn’t to be.

You are probably the only person from Kidderminster to ever play at Glastonbury festival. How do you remember this experience?

Ian Passey:  Hazily! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one from Kidderminster either! It was hardly the Pyramid stage but it was great fun. I seem to recall the act on before me end with a cover of “Take on me” by A-ha which the crowd lapped up. I’m not sure why, but I thought I’d end my own set in similar fashion… by tearing through “Gather in the mushrooms” by Benny Hill! Unless my memory is playing tricks, I received a standing ovation!

We have to ask you – was “Worcester Woman (Forgate Me Not)” written about a real person linked to the city or is it licentia poetica?

Ian Passey:  I’ve always viewed that one as a bit of general daftness! It’s a fictional tale that attempts to mix romance with political terminology. It doesn’t get played too often but I’m tempted to give it an airing on 22nd September, particularly as The Marr’s Bar gets a mention.

The Humdrum Express has many faithful supporters on the local scene. You have played Worcester Music Festival several times, always coming back by popular demand. This year you will also support Crisis charity by performing at Musicians Against Homelessness event on 22nd of September. You will appear on the acoustic stage.

Ian Passey:  I’ve been lucky enough to play at every Worcester Music Festival apart from the very first one. As it happens,  I’m not playing this time but will be promoting an evening as I have done for the past three years. My event will take place at The Firefly on the Sunday, featuring several of my favourite grass roots discoveries.

What are your plans for the autumn? Any upcoming tours?

Ian Passey:   I’ve got some great gigs on the horizon… I’m playing my biggest headline show to date at The Rose Theatre in Kidderminster on 7th October (tickets available from their website!) It’s a near 200 capacity all seater venue and, without giving too much away, will be much more than the usual gig format. I’ve also got dates with the likes of CUD, Mark Morriss and Half Man Half Biscuit to look forward to, so it should be a fun few months. I’m releasing a brand new single early in November with an accompanying video, so I’m pretty busy until the end of the year.

You can follow Ian and The Humdrum Express

www.thehumdrumexpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHumdrumExpress/
https://soundcloud.com/thehumdrumexpress

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Ian Passey play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

Indieterria meets Vinny Peculiar

Dear Readers,

This edition of Indieterria will profile an artist who is not a new starter. To be honest, he is well established and enjoys cult status among music fans. However, discovering new music doesn’t mean only cheeking out musicians on their first demo. There is a lot to learn from artists of all ages and all periods. As John Peel would say – you cannot limit yourself to one genre or one decade. It was a pleasure and privilege (to quote a classic) to sit down with Vinny Peculiar and talk about his art and music. And we will admit, we learned few things. Now, we wait in anticipation to see Vinny perform at Marr`s Bar on September 22 for Musicians Against Homelessness. Read on!

Man of many talents

Alan Wilkes, better known as Vinny Peculiar, is one of the most respected and original artists in the music business today. Splitting his time between his native Worcestershire and adopted home in Manchester, he has established himself as a poet, musician and writer. Finding a spare second in his busy schedule, Alan sat down with us to talk about receiving his own blue plague, new album inspired by growing up in West Midlands and charitable efforts to support local events.

You are a man of many talents – a performer, musician, poet, writer and educator. What is the difference between Alan Wilkes and Vinny Peculiar? Are you one and the same or is Vinny simply your artistic alter ego?

Vinny Peculiar: Thank you, I try and dabble in a few different things. Sometimes they work out but I’m most comfortable as a musician/songwriter. The Vinny Peculiar alter ego has been around for a while now but deep down, I’m one and the same person. The real difference is, I get to elaborate and take more risks as Vinny – perhaps the function of the alter ego is a permission to lose yourself. You’ve got me over thinking this one!

So far you have released 13 albums and EP’s to great critical acclaim, with genre-defying releases such as “Other people like me” or “Non Compliance” among them.  If you could choose one record from your catalogue that you value the most, what would it be and why?

Vinny Peculiar: I’d go for “Ironing the Soul”.  This record has got me a lot of breakthrough press and I made it with a band of mates in Liverpool, during stolen overnight studio time whilst trying to hold down a proper job! There’s certain urgency about it and some of those 4am vocal takes seem suitably desperate for the songs. Nowadays, I’m spending weeks editing acoustic guitar parts on a Mac which is not quite the same buzz. “Ironing the Soul” is kind of an oldschool.

cover of Silver Meadows

Vinny Peculiar is independent music press darling. Uncut magazine called you “an under sung national treasure” and “Tony Hancock of pop”; Q Magazine heralded you to be “a warm-hearted Morrissey” and The Irish Times convinced their readers you are the missing link between Jarvis Cocker and Roger McGough. How do you feel about those comparisons? Are they something you personally agree with? 

Vinny Peculiar: Music press darling you say? Hmm, I’m not sure about that but yes; I have had some great press from the major glossy UK magazines. I think this is partly because my stuff is easy to write about. There is usually a narrative story and some quotable lyrics. UNCUT named one of my songs the fourth best song title of 2004 with “We Tried to Drown Our Music Teacher in 1974”, you can see what I mean.

Your musical style escapes every attempt at classification, forcing reviewers to come up with pretty interesting suggestions such as poetry punk, urban lyricists or even “a beautiful blend of Americana, poetry, indie-pop and busker-punk”. It must be satisfying to see them grind their teeth in frustration every time you release new material. Do you still consider yourself to be part of outside pop movement? 

Vinny Peculiar: Yes, I don’t see music as a defined genre thing; often the most incongruous elements can make a song work or not. I try to be driven by what particular song needs. It doesn’t always work, mind! My Outsider status is probably always going to be a given. I’ve never been the new EMI Darling, or even the New Old Man on the Block. I was rather a late starter in the songwriter game! What I try is to follow the Ray Davies model and just “keep on working”.  There comes a time when you write and perform because that’s what you do and over analysis is futile, so I tell myself…

Photo by David Bailey

Many of your songs are autobiographical. You grew up in north Worcestershire village of Cathill, in a strict Methodist home. Your childhood experiences, vocational training as a nurse and a serious illness in the family are recurring themes in your lyrics. Mental well-being and finding hope against the odds seems to be very important to you. 

Vinny Peculiar: Autobiographical, yes. I think most songwriters write about themselves under some disguise; some do it better [or worse] than others. And yes again, for me personally, holding your head up is everything. We are such a marginalized society and we need hope more than ever. I have found that sharing experiences, often everyday ones, in songs and poems really helps. I try and bring this model to the workshops – people have so much to express, much more than they realise and it can aid their self-esteem and mental well-being. That’s my plug for the workshops done!

 You have strong ties not only with Worcester but also with Manchester to the point of Manchester Evening News claiming you as the city’s own. For many years you have collaborated with the Mancunian finest – Andy Rourke of the Smiths, Bonehead of Oasis or the members of the punk group, The Fall. You also supported the renovation of the iconic Salford Lads Club with frequent gigs. Do you feel at home in the north? 

Vinny Peculiar: It’s been fascinating to be back home and closer to family. I’ve ended up writing songs based on local events and issues. At the same time, I love The North.  I’m still working on the “Silver Meadows” stage play in Liverpool. It’s taking forever to refine, get the right actors, but we are still hopeful it will come off. I was at Salford Lads Club recently and got awarded a blue plaque; other recipients included Wayne Rooney and Maxine Peake. It was a great promo idea for the club, and I was stupidly happy to receive it. I’m planning another Lads Club Fundraiser before Christmas, date to be confirmed shortly.

Your artistic escapades link you closely to the eccentric genius of Bill Drummond (KLF, SOUP ART) – master of anarchistic and thought provoking happenings and art installations. Can you tell us more about your co-operation?

Vinny Peculiar: I was the Artist in Residence [Musical] opposite Bills Artist In Residence [Visual] at The Cathedral Arts Festival In Belfast in 2005. Bill and I shared a flat for 10 days and I went on to do many house concerts with him as part of The Soup Line Project. Bill would make soup and deliver a lecture and I would play a forty minute set of songs. I still keep in touch and look forward to the all new singing, dancing and thought provoking KLF! I also have the dubious honour of being auctioned song by song by Bill in Kensington, Liverpool at the demolition of a high rise block – he managed to sell a one to one version of “Confessions of a Sperm Donor” to a local business woman for £200.  It was quite a night…

Recently your album “Silver Meadows (Fables from the Institution)” has been turned into a stage play by Liverpool writer Ian Salmon. The initial reviews are fantastic. Where did the idea come from and where can we see it?

Vinny Peculiar: The Silver Meadows songs came from my time working in long stay Learning Disability and Psychiatric Hospitals. The album is set in the mid-1980s at the dawn of Community Care. The songs are character driven, they tell little stories of big changes. We’ve had an initial full run through before an invited audience and I’m still working on the fine details of the production. These things take a long time as they involve so many different people, including funder.  It is never straightforward, but we are determined it should be seen…

On 22nd of September, you will return to Marrs Bar in Worcester to perform an acoustic set during Musicians Against Homelessness concert in support of Crisis, an nationwide charity helping homeless people to find a stable and permanent accommodation. Are you planning something special for the night?

Vinny Peculiar: I’ll be doing the Mars Bar show with Rob Steadman, my regular piano player. Rob was in Parlour Flames with me (the band I formed with Bonehead). We’ll be playing songs from the new locally themed album including “The Malvern Winter Gardener” and “Droitwich”. It is scandalous that we still have such a housing homeless crisis in the UK and we fully support the work of Crisis. I’m really pleased to have been asked to play this gig.

We know you are currently working on a new album inspired by Worcestershire and your childhood in Bromsgrove. Several demos have already been posted on Sound cloud website. What else is planned for the nearest future?

Vinny Peculiar: My forthcoming gig highlights include playing The 100 Club in London with Chris Difford, the date has not been confirmed yet.  I’m excited about that, we recently supported him in Malvern and he is a very decent chap, too. The new album will take some time to finish, it is due early next year and we will be touring to support it. I have formed a new band with local Worcester musicians: Dan Bramhall (drums), Wes Dance (guitars) and Rooney Wooster (bass) and we are recording a new live EP soon too – I will let you know when it is ready!
You can follow Vinny at the links below:

www.vinnypeculiar.com
www.facebook.com/vinny.peculiar
https://soundcloud.com/vinnypeculiarmusic

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Vinny Peculiar  play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

Hoping to see you soon,

Mal+Rita