The Return of The Parish Church Fire

The Parish Church Fire are an Alternative Rock band from Manchester, UK fronted by Sam Smith. As loud as they are soft, the band have carved a unique dynamic with elements of heavy metal, trip hop, punk, jazz and blues. Comparable to Afghan Whigs, Radiohead & Pearl Jam. They have a new single out on May 10th called “Hunger” followed by two high profile gigs at Strummercamp and The Eagle, Salford in May and June.

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Here is a recent interview with band front man Sam Smith carried out by German Shepherd co-owner Bob Osborne.

Hi Sam, can you give us a brief history of The Parish Church Fire?

I put together the band in July 2014 after the disbanding my previous outfit ‘Sam Smith & Company’. Although The Parish Church Fire has solely been a studio project for the last 5 years an original live band was assembled upon formation but were only together for just 21 days. The line-up was myself, Chris Gilman & Rick Jarvis (and also Dave Wooley, Jack Farnworth and Peter Toner briefly). In that time Chris, Rick and I rehearsed relentlessly almost every day to get the wealth of material I had written up to standard for a busy gig schedule which had been booked for autumn of 2014. We had even managed to complete a studio session, recording 5 songs. Unfortunately, shortly after the sessions, the band split very abruptly due to the sudden departure of Rick Jarvis and my own ongoing health problems.

What have you been up to since 2014?

In 2015, I signed to German Shepherd Records and adopted the moniker ‘Franco Bandini’ as a result of increasing discomfort using my birth name due to the global rise of Universal Music Group artist Sam Smith. I released a solo EP as Bandini, entitled  ‘2014 Was a Bad Year’ and supported Australian rock legend Dave Graney at The Eagle Inn, Salford. I also did a radio session with Stephen Doyle at Salford City Radio and that was also released by German Shepherd. The ‘The Parish Church Fire EP’ which contained 3 of the 5 songs recorded with the original Parish Church Fire line up was self released at around the same time.

You pursued your vision of the Parish Church Fire band though?

The idea of assembling a band of musicians to represent the vision of The Parish Church Fire and also the desire to perform the songs written specifically for that band never went away. Whilst continuing to work as Franco Bandini, I met drummer Joe Roberts when we both rehearsed with a metal band which sadly never quite got off the ground. We stayed in touch after that band disbanded and we would occasionally meet to discuss the downfall of Manchester United, brewing methods and music production whilst sometimes exchanging demos via email. In 2016, we released the first Parish Church Fire single ‘Locamente’ on German Shepherd Records which was largely well received and we discussed putting together a live band, however as a result of personal circumstances for both of us getting in the way, this would not happen for another 2 and a half years.


Things picked up a little in 2017 though?

Yes! I returned to using my birth name in early 2017, releasing two singles and a live album along the way whilst performing live as a solo artist across the UK with just a guitar and piano. However I always felt that the Parish Church Fire band would come together as a live entity when the time was right. I was booked to appear at Strummercamp Festival in 2019 on the strength of my solo material and the time seemed right to assemble a band.  I contacted former Sam Smith & Company bassist John Bardsley, who is currently one of the key forces behind The Ombudsmen, and asked him if he would be interested in joining the band in its early stages of rebirth. Joe contacted friend and former Confucius Saint guitarist Timothy Hughes to see if he was interested and an initial rehearsal was soon set up.

So where are we up to now?

From the get go, due to various difficulties each of the four of us was dealing with in our personal lives, the rehearsals took place on the provision that they would always remain light hearted, humour would be at the forefront, and ,that a large amount of beer would be drank during each session!  Building on this foundation, a bond was carved between the four of us and despite the alcohol, professionalism ensued and a set of new material I had written was soon ready to perform, leading to a second gig being added for summer 2019 at The Eagle Inn in Salford.

On Initial listening to the new release we found a newly reborn Sam Smith, an artist with the potential we always knew was there, bursting through  With this new band drawing on the strengths of each individual member whilst always respecting the composition of Sam’s songs, there is a unique dynamic sound, emerging through this rebirth, which can be as heavy as it can be soft.  We took the view that there was a perfect marriage of the rock and punk ethos, exciting!

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German Shepherd Records Newsletter #35 – Moff Skellington, Weimar Single Launch, Award for Dominic Carlton Jones, New Single from Crab Dance GI’s and Gigs!

Hello and welcome to the regular newsletter from German Shepherd Records, this week:

  • We reissue Moff Skellington’s “The Corduroy Bridge” album
  • We report on the successful single launch from Weimar
  • We celebrate an award for Dominic Carlton Jones
  • We tell you about a new single from Crab Dance GI’s
  • We let you know about some gigs

MOFF SKELLINGTON – THE CORDUROY BRIDGE

If you have not heard the work of Moff Skellington before then you are in for a fascinating experience.

Moff, whose given name is Andy Quayle, is an iconoclast blessed with a unique talent with words and music that defies convention and operates in a separate and quite distinct time continuum to the rest of the world of entertainment. His prolific and prodigious output, over twenty five albums/EP’s and one DVD since 1999, offers some of the most exciting and challenging work you are ever likely to hear. Aside from his musical endeavours he is also a gifted and talented visual artist who has exhibited his unique painting and drawings in many different locations. He has recently moved into the world of video to create a fascinating marriage of his paintings and music.

The music is described as Eddodi – a kind of mutant folk music which incorporates elements of post-punk, rock and blues. Imagine Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and Harry Partch thrown into a blender and mixed with the English Folk Tradition and you are getting somewhere near the sound.

The album “The Corduroy Tongue” was originally released in 2015 and we are reissuing it on 15th February in digital format as part of our plan to eventually release all of Moff’s back catalogue.

Moff is a “Marmite” artist you either are 1000% committed to his work or you are left scratching your head and wondering what you have just listened to. We understand if you don’t “get it” we are used to the mixed reaction.

As a taster of his work here is Moff defining entertainment

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WEIMAR ENJOY TRIUMPHANT SINGLE LAUNCH

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Photo courtesy Victoria Egan

Weimar packed out The Eagle Inn in Salford on February 1st for the launch of their single “John Doe/Curse The Songs”. With an hour long set and a rapturous audience the band played both sides of the new single, were joined on stage by a very soulful Rose Niland for a couple of songs, featured new material, and, blew the roof off with a stunning version of “Nights In Spanish Harlem”. The set concluded with a couple of old tunes from Aidan Cross’s previous band The Bacillus (album still available on the German Shepherd bandcamp page). Press reports were effusive in their praise of the evening with Louder Than War and the Salford Star writing positive articles,. The single has gained airplay throughout the UK and the States and a series of very positive blogs have reviewed it also. Aidan will be appearing on Dave Hammond’s Smelly Flowerpot show on Cambridge 105 on Monday 11th February from 9pm where he will be chatting about the band and the plans for the forthcoming album.

DOMINIC CARLTON JONES

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As well as receiving praise for his opening set at the Weimar gig mentioned above Dominic Carlton Jones has won the Salford Star Best Band/Act 2018 Award for his album “Salford Punk Poetry Sadness Death New Life”, which judges hailed  as “inspired and original”. Salford Star Live Editor Ian Leslie presented the award to Dominic at the end of his set last Friday. A full report from the Salford Star can be found here. Many congratulations to Dominic from everyone in The Kennel. Thanks to Michelle Leslie for the photograph.

CRAB DANCE GI’S INTRODUCE DAYGLO DAVE

Danny Cusick (KIT B, The Hidden Gem) side project Crab Dance GI’s have a new single out on March 15th called “Dayglo Dave”. The first of two forthcoming singles from this project the song is the tale of a regressive music fan who “only listens to New Wave” and will countenance any other forms of music. Watch this space for more details!

 

 

GIGS

Details of forthcoming gigs featuring German Shepherd Artists:

February
9th – Scissors play NCI Club Cambridge (Cambridge Central Aid charity fundraiser, Scissors headlining, other acts TBC)
10th – Pearl Divers play Fab Cafe, Manchester
15th – Bouquet of Dead Crows play Bury Sound at Hunter Club, Bury St Edmunds
23rd – Electric Cheese and Four Candles play The Railway, Chorley
24th – Positronik play Fab Cafe, Manchester

March
2nd – Four Candles, Johann Kloos and Rose Niland play the Peer Hat, Manchester, a benefit for Macmillan nurses as a memorial for Modal Roberts
2nd – Pearl Divers play Malaga Drift, Eccles Town Centre (Near the station and not far from German Shepherd HQ!)
2nd – Electric Cheese play The Village Inn, Skelmersdale
2nd – The Mind Sweepers play The Normandy, Dumfries
13th – Bouquet of Dead Crows play West Street Live Sheffield
15th – Adventures of Salvador play The Deaf Centre, Chester
16th – Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Umbrella Assassins play The Smokehouse Ipswich.
16th – The Mind Sweepers play Midnight Breakfast Club at Bathgate.
23rd – Electric Cheese play The Ferret, Preston
29th – Bouquet of Dead Crows play The Blue Moon Cambridge + Burning Codes, Basement Strippers & Matt Hammond

April
20th – Toska Wilde plays The Venue, Southend On Sea

His mother called him Phil

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Modal (Phil) Roberts yesterday. He was one of the earliest collaborators to the German Shepherd  experiment and released two EPs and a joint project with Ian Moss (in his Ion-Morph phase)  before leaving us to form his own label “Altitude Records” as well as embark on a range of projects including “Alt. Karaoke” and “Polymatherapy”.  Always an entertaining and rule breaking DJ his radio shows often supported and promoted our early releases

Probably best known for his work with the latter versions of Marc Riley’s Creepers and the remarkable and memorable track “Derbyshire”  Modal was a talented multi-instrumentalist, artist, and film-maker.

We have set all Modals releases to pay what you want but and anyone does contribute to the music  we will donate the money to Cancer Research.

Modal

 

 

Mesmer Disciples in search for new singer

Leeds Based Psychedelic band, Mesmer Disciples are looking for a new singer.

In a recent statement the band say:

“We are not seeking someone to try and replicate our previous singer as we are open to a new approach . We have our own rehearsal space where we meet to jam, improvise, write and rehearse . Over the last year we’ve played with the likes on The Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind, The Fleshtones, Thee Hypnotics ,Snapped Ankles. Currently signed up with German Shepherd Records.”

Prospective vocals are asked to check us out the band on Facebook and through this recent interview with Backseat Mafia.

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Press…..
“Leaps out at you as an unctuous mix of Arthur Brown and Tex-Mex imbibing something mind expanding in an opium den in a Bill Burroughs tract. Moody, brooding and sensuous” – Aural Delights Blog

” creating an all-enveloping throbbing and entrancing psychedelic rock experience of two guitars, vocals, drums, and the occasional tamboura. Like a stoned early Cramps jamming with the Buffalo Springfield. Indeed – menacing, experimental and at times unhinged. Gorgeous, subversive, and completely mesmeric!” Micheal Canning, Music research Uk

“Musically they are moody, psychedelic, and gritty with tracks building in layers creating a truly menacing atmosphere” – Counterfeit magazine

“Their double guitar attack was brilliantly executed creating a blues-infused wall of sound, , the guitars and drums were rhythmically very tight and they all played brilliantly, one of the guitarists at hyper-speed. Mesmer Disciples are definitely a band to watch out for “- Leeds Music Scene

Interested vocalists should contact the band at :  Mesmerdisciples@hotmail.com

Four Candles get huge praise for Spiritual Rapture

The new Four Candles album has been getting loads of praise and some very positive reviews. Spiritual Rapture was released as a CD on 22nd June via our Bandcamp Page and will also be released digitally as three separate two-track singles in June, July and August.

Lead track “Strange Things Are Happening” has a video which has had over a 1,000 streams and is now available on You Tube….

 

The bands gig at Manchester Meltdown on 23rd June, which was also the album launch was caught on video by Paul Forshaw….and reviewed by Emily Oldfield

 

Reviews of the album have come from Ged Babey via Louder Than War and also via Aural Delights.

The available stock CD is very low, although some copies have been held over for sale at gigs. Grab your CD now at our Bandcamp Page before they sell out.

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Keltrix to release stripped back acoustic album

Keltrix return with a new release on 8th June. In a change from the recent electronic approach of the band they have stripped back the sound to acoustic and the new album is appositely titled “Naked”.

Violin and acoustic guitar dominate the soundscape and Keri’s voice is brought to the fore. Sharon’s playing on the album is exquisite with melody being the watchword.

The album consists of two new songs and a selection of re-imagined material from Beneath and Beyond Storms and Bobby Says.

The band will return to the more electronic side of things however with the album that follows “Naked”, which is planned for early 2019.

Keltrix

Mesmer Disciples to release debut EP

Leeds based Mesmer Disciples release their debut EP “The Big O” via German Shepherd Records on 20th April.

Mesmer Disciples formed relatively recently and they have had many comparisons suggested to them by their audience members, including Can, Captain Beefheart, Butthole Surfers and Edgar Broughton band.

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Not wishing to be constrained by genres, Mesmer Disciples have no intention of recreating a sound from a by-gone era, or a desire to sound like anybody else.
With a constantly evolving sound, and set-list they will continue to jam, play and record for as long as it seems appealing.

The band is

Stewart Kinloch – vocals lap guitar percussion and Tanpura simulator
Dave Royston – guitar
Mike Smith – drums
Mark Stainton – guitar

Check out their full biography elsewhere on the site.

Here is a taster from the EP the mesmerising Preetam Bobo…….

 

 

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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

 

Poppycock return with new line-up

After a short break Manchester collective Poppycock are back with a new line-up which debuts at Fred’s Ale House on 6th October supporting Dave Graney and Clare Moore.

The band now comprises – Paula Darwish -Guitar Vocals,  Stuart Quinn-Harvie – Drums ,Matt Crawford -Bass , Jane Goetzee and Lucy Nyland – Vocals , Lucy Power – Flute/Guitar and Una Baines – keyboards/guitar

Lucy, Stuart and Una remain from the previous line-up, the rest of the band having been brought together over the last few months.

This will be a welcome return for a band that has been building a huge reputation as a much see live act.

Tickets are available from our Merch Page priced at £5 plus booking fee. Interested music lovers are advised to book early as tickets are selling quickly.

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Una Baines