Mind Games

March 2nd sees the release of the debut album by The Mind Sweepers.

Based in Dumfries the four piece band has undergone a number of line-up changes over the last few years built around the core of singer/songwriter Paul Winter and drummer Bryn Thorburn. The current band also comprises John Mcinally- Guitar and Backing Vocals and Mark Jardine – Bass and Backing Vocals.

As well as the core members of the band other musicians appear – Win Liv Shak provides vocals and keyboards, Owen Fielding provides keyboards and harmonium and Al Price plays harmonica. The allbum was recorded and produced at Unit 7 studio Bladnoch , Wigtown , Dumfries and Galloway.

“States of Mind” offers a broad palette of styles moving from psychedelic grooves, via folk-rock into blues rock and should gain the band more followers.

We asked the band a few questions in preparation for the release of the album although bassist Jardine was extraordinarily reticent….

What bands were you in previously?

Bryn : The Garden Shed (mid 80s) ……..Dumfries based post-punk…Roger and Caz went on to form AC Acoustics in Glasgow. Lung….Manchester late 80s with Vicky MIddles on bass. Spacehopper….. 1991- 1998 Glasgow based Art Noise Terrorists( self proclaimed)…Signed to the Newly Formed Creeping Bent Records. Gram Solo……2002- 2005 Edinburgh psychedelic groovers. Currently also the main man behind The Screaming Love Collective…..A Psychedelic Post-Punk Dark Disco Groove Sensation.

Paul :  I got a band together in the mid-90s, The Comedown, we rehearsed for 6 months, played one gig, then disbanded. I then sang blues with a loose collective for a while, before moving into the singer/songwriter role for about a decade.

John : No past bands only jamming with some lads playing indie/madchester covers in 1990/91.

Influences?

Bryn : My biggest influence as a drummer is John Densmore of The Doors.
Musically…..PIL, The Fall, Joy Division, Crass, Northern Soul, Neu, Can, Krautrock in general, KLF, Scars, Josef K, NomeansNo, US Hardcore, Long Fin Killie.  (Glasgow early 90s). I could go on and on.

Paul : My influences are right across the board. Anywhere from early Elton John, to John Martyn, Pink Floyd to Bob Dylan. I’ve never had the money to buy a digital radio, so I’ve kinda missed the Radio 6 vibe. I’ve always found listening to other music kind of dilutes originality, and rarely hear anything ‘new’ that blows me away, with the exception of Doves, I love Doves.

John : The Byrds.. Hendrix.. Stone Roses.. 60’s psychedelia and soul.. The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Current album listening?

Bryn : Snapped Ankles – Come Play The Trees.

Paul : Well I just moved into a new flat and got my turntable in operation for the first time in over 10 years, so i’m currently reliving old vinyl. ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’ by Elton.

John : The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

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Photograph – Brad Cain

The mix of styles on the album?

Bryn : Yeah a very mixed bunch of styles……as you can see from the answers above we are all into different styles of music and don’t want to tied down to a particular type, but we like to think that we can put our own sound on whatever style we are playing , so you’d know it was The Mind Sweepers.

Paul : Variance? Why not? I’ve found throughout my years of listening to albums that some bands end-up sounding ‘samey’, and you’re hard-pressed to even know the difference between certain tracks. In my view the vocals, and lead guitar, are what put the stamp on a band’s sound, obviously the rhythm section add to this, but to me it doesn’t matter what ‘type’ of song we’ve written, if it’s us playing it then it’s the Sweeper’s sound. I don’t think an album should be staid and stuck in a groove that repeats for an hour, with only tempo and lyrics changing. The Mind Sweepers are a sum total of all our parts. We can all play, and we’re all capable of original input, so why not go with that and see where it takes us. ‘States of Mind’ is the result of that ethos, and we’re quite proud of it.

John : The changes in line-up have definitely evoked a more psychedelic sound to the band

On the face of it, just the looking at some of the song titles there appears to be a nautical theme across the album?

Paul : My auld man was a sailor in the Royal Navy, and ended-up being a diver on cruisers. As a wee boy it was always my intention to join up and follow in his footsteps, but these hopes were dashed when I found out I was colourblind. Fast forward 20-odd years and it’s a motif that’s stuck with me. ‘Any Port in a Storm’ isn’t really about the sea, it’s about the beer-goggle ‘honey’ ye pull at midnight. ‘Taken by the Tide’ was an address to a female in my life as to whether I was actually any good to be around in the long run. (I wasn’t!) ‘Cast Away’ is a play on words , and not really nautical in all honesty. Had it been spelled as one word it would have taken on another meaning, and that’s why I named it as two separate words, to avoid that. ‘Nose Deep in the Sand’? ‘Sand’, in this instance, is what I thought a friend of mine called cocaine when he was on the phone, and it summed-up the getting ‘on it’ even when you were broke on the dole. Turns out I was completely wrong however, ‘sand’ was his toe-rag code for ‘cash’, but it’s interchangeable with regard to the rest of the lyrics, so it stayed, and it’s a good title too!

Ambitions? What’s next for the band? The making of the album?

Bryn : As a band we’d like to be able to make a living out of this….when me and Paul got together the plan was that it was self funding , and so far we have been able to keep to that, we have been able to fund the album through gigs . Of course we’d like to be a successful recording band touring the world but we are realists and will enjoy it while it lasts.

The album has taken 3 years and several line up changes to get to a position of recording our debut. This album is mostly a collection of songs written by Paul over the years that we’ve taken from being acoustic open mic songs that he would perform on his own , to them being full band multi-layered songs with honest lyrics about our everyday lives….I think that’s a very big part of the songs , that they are honest and raw, emotions laid bare for all to see….songs about one night stands , drinking too much, nights out on the town, broken dreams and life being unemployed.

Paul : All the lads in the Sweepers do ‘normal’ work, and I know for one that I’d be lying if I said I was happy at my age grafting my bollocks off emptying bins! It would be paradise to actually be able to jack the day job and be able to sit in my flat writing new material, but I’m a realist, and getting picked-up by a major record label isn’t something that generally happens to middle-aged men from market towns in south west Scotland. Nah, we just wanna build on our first album, keep getting gigs, and write the follow-up for ‘States of Mind’. Not too tall an order in all honesty, we’re just taking it one step at a time and keeping it realistic.

MS Dumfries
Photograph – Brad Cain

‘States of Mind’ is basically a collection of older material, all songs written by myself, except ‘Threesome’, which was written in 20 minutes at rehearsals by myself, John, and Bryn, hence why it’s called ‘Threesome’. Obviously we’re hoping it’s well-received, because that would give us the impetus to do another, but we’re all fully aware that ‘making it’ in the music business is as much about luck as it is artistic ability. We’ll see how it goes, and hope for the best. We’ve got a good producer, we’ve got a good band, we’ve got a cracking wee label to put it out on, and we’re all good mates. It’s a good mix, and there’s no reason we can’t keep at it.

John :  To write new material and record it. Keep on having fun and enjoy it.

Recording the album was a fantastic experience. Great fun working and recording with Hughie in a very chilled out relaxed environment

Mind Sweepers SOM Cover

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It’s A Dog Life – Dog Year 5

As they approach the fifth year of their existence we sat down with Ian Moss and Bob Osborne of German Shepherd Records to discuss progress so far, the business of running a small record label in a world dominated by streaming and obsessed with vinyl, and their plans for the future……

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After four years of doing this what have you learned from the experience…..

Ian: I’ve learned that there are a lot of very talented artists with little or no opportunity to earn a living from that talent and that they deserve a platform to be heard and deserve great respect for their refusal to be silent

Bob: To keep on top of things you need to be at it 24/7. There is so much competition out there, even just in Manchester, that you are always fighting for limited time in peoples listening or watching space. Also to ignore the nay-sayers who said we were wasting our time at the outset.

You have remained mostly digital, with very limited sales of CDs and Vinyl, why is this?

Ian: Sheer practicality , to release as much as we do in physical formats would cost far more money than we have.

Bob: As Ian says, practically speaking it’s the only way we can remain not for profit. The upfront costs of producing CD and Vinyl and then finding a place to store it means we would soon be losing cash. We know we have a limited/niche audience and our sales are always going to be within a range that makes producing physical product costly. Personally I think vinyl has been the biggest con the record business has foisted on the public in years, I much prefer CDs as my main source of music although more and more I am listening digitally via I Pod or direct from the laptop. Someone will invent something in a few years which will replace all this any way.

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How easy has it been to get people listening to what you do?

Ian: It isn’t easy to get people to listen to music that hasn’t been hyped and sold as the new thing by outlets with a vested interest , therefore we owe a debt of gratitude to the people who are not taken in and seduced but have based their judgements on the evidence of their ears and  who have supported the label and our releases

Bob : The first two years were tough, we were still learning the ropes, and still trying to find a distribution deal that worked for us. We went through two companies before settling on our current partner Ditto. Social media has been a huge help, and we have slowly built up a contact list of DJs, Bloggers, and Journalists, with a hard core of around 30 people who regularly feature what we do and understand what we are about. Last year we saw a slow and steady rise in interest and a broadening of the fan base. The hardest nut to crack has been national radio, and specifically the BBC. We just don’t have the resources to pay a promo company to hammer on the door of the Beeb. Which is ironic really given that Media City and 6 Music is not far from here. I’m not sure however that the eclectic nature of our releases is just too much of a stretch for “Aunties” taste. Our biggest support has come from Community and Local Radio with people like Dave Hammond (Cambridge 105) Brad Cain (Nevis FM/Radio Kaos) Stephen Doyle, Ian Rothwell and John Montague (Salford City Radio) Garry Lee (Starship Overflow) and Graeme Walker (Container Drivers) and many others giving us lots of support. We also have had support from writers like Mike Middles, Emily Oldfield and Ged Babey.

You have occasionally run gig promotions for the label – how has that gone?

Ian: The live performances we have promoted have tended to be artistic triumphs though attendances are erratic, I find the pressure of promoting painful because I can’t bear the guilt I feel if attendance is low and consequently their is only a meagre amount of money that doesn’t even cover expenses for the performers , it leaves me very reluctant to promote events

Bob: Despite his comments the Manchester Meltdown residency Ian has just curated has been successful with decent crowds for a Wednesday night in dire weather , well I enjoyed it anyway, and it was great to see the local music community supporting us. Dom and Nick at the Peer Hat have been excellent and their venue is a model place for small bands and labels. Before that gigs were either a few towering successes or mostly abject failures in terms of attendance. The main problem is a lack of small venues in the city centre, and the whole “pay to play” culture which still exists. Also it is a source of constant puzzlement to me that people will pay between £10 and £20 to see a covers/tribute band but won’t shell out £3 to see an act doing original material. The other key issue in Manchester is that there is just so much going on and people are spoiled for choice. We made the mistake of double booking two gigs involving our acts last year which split the crowd. Ironically one of the best nights we had was at the Salford Music Festival in 2016 where it was free entry – that says it all really, people are used to getting music for free or next to nothing these days. I’ve personally stopped doing gigs more or less completely, but I will make an exceptions for when our Australian friends like  Dave Graney & Clare Moore and Harry Howard come over for a tour. We have Australian Charlie Marshall coming over in September for a gig and we have helped him with gigs in other places. Stephen Doyle is our go to guy for gig promotion these days. Favourite Venues are The Peer Hat, The Eagle and Fred’s Ale House.

What is different about German Shepherd compared to other labels?

Ian: We are what we are as other labels are what they are , I know that we are honest and ethical and am proud of that , others are too of course, but not all of them

Bob : We are not for profit, anything we don’t make for the artists goes to charity. The main reason for setting the label up was to find a way for people who traditional record labels wouldn’t countenance to help them get their music out there. We aren’t doing that much different from what an individual who self-releases would do but by doing it collectively we can cut down on overheads and fees. Also we don’t “sign” people, there are no legal contracts etc which makes life easier. We agree with artists from the outset either side can walk away with a months notice. So if you see a press report that says such and such has “signed” to German Shepherd Records that’s nonsense.

How Many People Work for the label?

Ian : There are two of us though my role is largely ambassadorial, Bob works tirelessly putting in many hard hours ensuring our releases reach people’s ears , writing press releases and keeping the website up to date and lines of communication open, so in terms of work Bob carries the load , the label couldn’t function without him.

Bob :  We have also had much appreciated help from Vicky Egan and Stephen Doyle as well which has helped,  but as he says the core of the business is Ian and myself. We have also worked with Dave Hammond on two charity albums for Cambridge musicians.  And we have to thank, amongst others,  Ciaran Humphries, Michael T. Scott, Bryn Thornburn and Stewart Harris for their excellent artwork and designs for the label.

Any Regrets?

Ian : Probably the act we released with the most potential to cross over into the mainstream was Alana Bondi whose music and presence were magical , tragically she passed away , I’d love it if her music were to find an audience belatedly,

Bob: We released an album with Stuart Estell under the Lachenalia brand early days which was absolutely superb, however because we were still on a steep learning curve, and a combination of ill health and other distractions we weren’t able to get it the attention it deserved. Stuart decided to leave us which was understandable. I think I learned a lot from that experience and it helped shape our future direction but I still regret not being able to do more for him.

Biggest success to date?

Ian : There’s always something new , something exciting , something to look forward to , that’s the beauty of being in it for the music rather than it being a shop selling product to consumers

Bob : Our two front runners in terms of sales/streams are Drink & Drive and Issac Navaro.  Both totally different but equally successful but it’s all relative given the price per play returns from the likes of Spotify. However success for me is the joy of sharing the work of the works of the bands and artists we work with. Mind you we could do with a few more of the 655 people who follow us on Facebook buying a few things every now and again! If they did that we might be able to do a bit more.

What can we look forward to in the future?

Bob : A new partnership between Ian and Simon “Ding” Archer, a new West Coast Sick Line album, the debut album from The Mind Sweepers,  three new EPs from Moff Skellington, an EP from Drink and Drive, and a new single and a greatest hits from the mighty Staggs!! We will be releasing something every week more or less so there is a lot come including Ian doing some excellent new tunes with his brother, Neil, and also working with me on our “The Parasite” project.

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The Mind Sweepers to release debut album “States of Mind”

We are pleased to announce the release of the debut album from The Mind Sweepers. Entitled “States of Mind” it will be released on March 2nd.  Recorded and produced at Unit 7 studio Bladnoch , Wigtown , Dumfries and Galloway, the album features ten tracks including a revised version of the groups debut single “The Mating Game”.

The line-up of the band for this release is…

Paul Winter – Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
John Mcinally- Guitar and Backing Vocals
Mark Jardine – Bass and Backing Vocals.
Bryn Thorburn – Drums.

…and there are guest appearances from Owen Fielding on keyboards, Win Liv Shak on keyboards and backing vocals, and Al Price on harmonica.

Here is the lead track from the album “Threesome”

Watch this space for more news

Mind Sweepers SOM Cover

 

Two Strays EPs released

We have now released the two EPs by The Strays to date. The first EP Explicit Content includes a previously unreleased track “Be Seen Not Heard”.  There is also a chance to purchase a CD version of the original version of that EP.

The two EPs are available via all the usual digital outlets as well as our Bandcamp page.

The duo have a number of dates planned to support these releases…..

  • 26th January – The Mulberry Tavern, Sheffield
  • 3rd February – The Globe, Glossop
  • 4th February – Fab Cafe, Manchester
  • 11th February –The Bunny Hop, Heanor
  • 16th February – The Mulberry Tavern, Sheffield
  • 24th March – The Crown Inn, Heanor
  • 15th April – Dublin Castle, London
  • 19th April – The Peer Hat Manchester
  • 2nd June – The Station Hotel, Ashton U Lyne

Strays

 

Drink and Drive Album Launch

Our most popular  release to date “This Is What Happens When A Fly Lands On Your Food” by Drink and Drive  gets its long awaited launch at The Peer Hat, Faraday Street, Manchester on Wednesday 24th January.

Doors are at 8pm and the entry price is only £3 and the event is not ticketed.  The launch is part of the Manchester Meltdown residency.

Also playing on the night are Four Candles, Bobbie Peru and Cynthia’s Periscope.

After last weeks packed show at the venue we are anticipating a big crowd so we recommend arriving on time to see all four bands. Four Candles will start the night at 8:15 prompt. Drink and Drive will be playing last and will be on stage around 10pm.

The new album has received multiple airplay around the UK and has proved to be our most popular release on Spotify. A sample of the band can be found in the video for the track “Adult Pig Suit”……

 

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New Issac Navaro album “#Forensics” released

Two new tracks in #Forensics and Velvet Transmission and the remaining demo type things from the last 5 years. 22 tracks in all.

ANY AND ALL PROCEEDS ACCRUED FROM THE SALE OF THIS ALBUM ARE BEING DONATED DIRECTLY TO WATER AID SO THE POOREST KIDS ON EARTH AIN’T QUENCHING THEIR THIRST WITH PISS AND SHIT ON TOP OF EVERY OTHER MISERY THEY ENDURE,

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