Limited Edition of CD Version of States of Mind now available

A very limited edition run of 25 copies of the CD version of The Mind Sweepers debut album “States of Mind” is now available to purchase via our Bandcamp page. With stunning artwork by drummer Bryn Thorburn this CD is well worth adding to your collection. Grab your copy now before they run out.

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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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Second Statman Release coming soon

We are extremely pleased to announce we are releasing a second EP with Jesse “Cannonball” Statman. After the mercurial New Yorker performed a stunning set at the Eagle in Salford recently, which had audience members describing his show as “pure genius”, we have agreed to release some of his recent recordings made in Germany. Watch this space for more details which will be coming soon.

 

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photograph by John Montague

 

 

Previewing Forthcoming Releases

We have now pre-released the three albums we are bringing out next week – 17th March.

You can stream two tracks from each album now.

Keltrix launch their album at the Portland Arms in Cambridge on March 10th

Moff launches his album at The Castle, Oldham Street, Manchester on March 17th.

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A Whole Lotta Screaming Love coming your way

We are extremely pleased announced that we will be releasing a serious amount of music from The Screaming Love Collective in the next few months.

24th March will see an album teaser EP called “Orbital” featuring three new tracks. This will be followed by the debut album “Spirit Radio” which features singles to date, the EP and other new tracks. Later in the year the sophomore album “Thought it would have been better by now” will emerge.

The music is a powerful mix of hypnotic dance rhythms and psychedelic interventions, we think it’s rather special and cannot wait to share it with you.

Bryn has recently completed both albums and feels they are linked with the first taking an optimistic look at the world whereas the latter looks at modern times from a “where the hell is my jetpack”. The basic message is where is all the cool stuff we were promised as kids?.

Here’s teaser with the lead track from the EP.

 

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Cambridge Calling

We are pleased to announce the first in a series of compilations of emerging artists from Cambridge which has been curated by Dave Hammond whose fortnightly show on Cambridge 105 Radio, The Smelly Flowerpot, is a mainstay of the cities music scene. Such is the current scene in the Cambridge area, there are already enough tracks donated for a second compilation.

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German Shepherd’s very own Bouquet of Dead Crows have submitted a track for the compilation

Aside from putting some superb music out there, the aim is also to raise money for deserving charities. For volume 1, the participating bands have nominated the Arthur Rank Hospice, which is dedicated to providing specialist palliative care and support to adult patients and their family, friends and carers.

What started out as a vague idea to pull a few tracks together soon snowballed into the current multi genre epic, fired by the enthusiasm of the artists involved. The more the perpetrator scratched at the surface of the local music scene, the more it became apparent how much excellent music was out there.

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Album artwork by Stewart Harris

The diversity of the music is impressive, covering rock, hip hop, folk, indie, punk, psychedelia, pop, jazz, Americana, garage and electronica with nods to all eras of popular and contemporary music. Artists range from those in the first flush of youth and already developing sounds that bode well for the future to more experienced souls continually developing their craft.

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Highly regarded band The Scissors appear on this compilation

For around the price of a couple of pints you can have a lasting legacy of the flourishing scene in a City as diverse and thrilling as the music it has inspired, while at the same time providing some much needed funds for a very deserving local charity.

Artists featured on this first compilation are:

  • Trick Bird
  • All We Earthlings
  • Broadway Danny Rose
  • I Strip for Couples
  • Black Buttercups
  • The Seven Twenty
  • Garuda
  • Motor Tapes
  • Keltrix
  • 3 Screaming Popes
  • Bouquet of Dead Crows
  • Eil Marchini
  • Datum Plane
  • Pete Newman Clarinet Project
  • Lizard Brain
  • The Scissors
  • Model Village
  • Umbrella Assassins
  • Gavin Chappell Bates

The compilation will be released digitally on 17th March via Bandcamp,Spotify, I Tunes, Amazon, Google Play and other well known digital outlets.

Dave’s excellent radio show can be heard on Cambridge 105 every alternate Monday.

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Universe is Woman receives world wide digital distribution

The stunning debut EP from Rose and the Diamond Hand  finally receives world wide digital distribution on Friday 10th February 2017. This is perhaps timely in the light in the recent impact of the Women’s Marches and future plans to combat misogynistic rumblings from Le Casa Blanca.

Originally released in Autumn 2016 the four track collection brings together the incandescent vocal style of Rose Niland in a trip-hop/dub soundscape,  which is gaining increased interest. Rose’s stunning vocals are well known across the Manchester music scene, it’s time for her to gain wider recognition and her talents to be shared with a much bigger audience.

Live Rose and  the Diamond Hand create atmospheric, downtempo songs with a gothic tinge. Intense bass, subdued electronica and primal beats provide a frayed canvas for Rose Niland’s expressive vocals, earning the band comparisons to Portishead, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cocteau Tiwns.

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The EP will be available on I-Tunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and many more digital outlets.  A video to accompany the release will be coming soon.

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Rose and the Diamond Hand are (left to right) Rose Niland, Bob Clowrey, Mark Corrin and Leonie Fox

Reviews :

Rocknerd

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Long lost music from The Waterfoot Dandy to be released

We are pleased to announce the release, on 15th February, of an album by The Waterfoot Dandy called Waiting For Titan.

The Waterfoot Dandy was better known to friends and family as Gary Lomax.

Gary was a teacher, from Waterfoot, who was well known across the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, for his photography and music.

The dad-of-five studied photography at London’s prestigious Royal College of Arts, but shunned the offer of a job at Vogue to start a family in Rossendale.

Born in Rawtenstall, Gary played for Bolton Wanderers’ youth team as a young man before deciding to train as an artist.

While studying art at Manchester University, he trained under Rossendale’s most famous artist, Dave Pearson.

He then took up a Masters degree at aforementioned Royal College of Art, where he studied under renowned photographers Michael Langford and John Hedgecoe. He went on to work as a teacher at Harper Green School, in Bolton, and at Burnley College but always maintained a keen interest in music.

He was a well known figure at legendary Manchester club The Hacienda during its heyday as a member of post-punk band Victor Drago, The band comprised Paul Cairns – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar & Keyboards, James Hargreaves – Vocals, Bass & Trumpet, Gary on Vocals & Lead Guitar, Steve Davies – Congas (notably a member of The Fall for a short period in 1980 when Paul Hanley was doing his exams), and Pete Mulvihill – Drums who was replaced by Tom Winstanley. Music from Victor Drago is available from Detour records and I Tunes.

Described by his family as a ‘creative genius’, Gary’s “Get To Grips With Terror!!!” release as The Waterfoot Dandy was a favourite of Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who often played it on his show.

Gary sadly died of a heart attack on Sunday, February 15. 2015.

Gary’s music was released by In Tape records, which was started in 1983, and included such bands as ; Asphalt Ribbons (who became Tindersticks), The Creepers, Eva, Frank Sidebottom, The Heart Throbs, Gaye Bykers on Acid, Implied Consent, Janitors, June Brides, Life with Patrick, Membranes, Robert Lloyd and the New Four Seasons, Rote Kapelle, Stitch, Terry & Gerry, The Weeds, Whipcrackaway (which featured German Shepherd label co-owner Ian Moss), Yeah Yeah Noh and Zor Gabor.

Eddie Fenn, former Creeper and In Tape guru has uncovered a set of Gary’s recordings for this release on the anniversary of his passing.

These are lo-fi recordings with occasional drop-outs, and varying sound quality but they capture the raw genius of Gary Lomax.

As Eddie says (in his guise as The Honourable Ted):

This is the first of The Waterfoot Dandy’s recording all performed live in his 4 foot waterlogged coal cellar of a studio approximately mid to late nineteen seventies. Bass guitar played with his bare feet and equipment all resurrected from skips. Gary lived the dream and now he’s dead. But he’s no Solomon Grundy and won’t be back on Monday but his presence lingers on in the fabric of the nth number of time, space continuums that permeate our cosmos. This is his first release since 14 days to live (In Tape). Originally designed to be released on his and his fellow collaborator The Honourable Ted’s label (NOB Records. That’s Naughty Old Boys) and after much consultation with his wife and soulmate Christine has kindly agreed for it to be released on German Shepherd records as they are good old boys and like minded chaps.

The music is uniquely Northern and reflects the trends of the time. In hindsight the nearest comparison we can give you is The Residents, albeit with a very broad Lancashire accent.

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El Topo arrives

In the fifth of a series of releases featuring Ian Moss we are pleased to announce the arrival of El Topo and “The Lone Gypsy”.  Described as “Inspiration drawn from the walk your own way lifestyle of Francesco Zappa” Ian provides an astute commentary against a rich musical background from brother Neil.

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