Phil Wilson/The June Brides

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Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Wed Aug 27, 2008 23:42

I was at home, and thought it could be fun to have a play with the video camera. Thank heavens I only made a shambling pop video..could have been much worse :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL3S3anG0Gs" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Here's a video for my new single...hope it makes you smile..

Post by postalblue » Fri Aug 29, 2008 01:51

Kraftwerk! Yeah.

That's pretty much in the same vein as the new version of Every Conversation. Quality.
New Postal Blue single out now on Cloudberry Records.
There are still copies of our Road to Happiness CD-EP here.
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by linus » Fri Aug 29, 2008 09:24

I hope Phil and a layer of chips don't mind but this is an interview I did with Phil at the beginning of this year for 'a layer of chips' #2:
Phil Wilson, previously of the legendary June Brides, is set to embark on a number of eagerly-anticipated solo gigs, here he talks to Andy Hart about his musical past... all the way up to right now!

What was the period like when you first formed The June Brides and why did you get together? What were your influences?


It feels, in retrospect, that it was an odd period. The punk/post-punk times had made it feel almost like, if you had any sort of interest in music, you almost had a duty to get up and give it a go. There were so many small bands releasing records in the late 70s and early 80s, that you felt as if you too had been empowered to do so. It felt like you didn't have to have a career plan, didn't have to be any sort of musician, you just had to have something to say and the gumption to form a band. In a way, it was an easier time. Less pressure.

The first incarnation of the June Brides (International Rescue) formed completely as a punk rock riposte to all the dreadful jazz funk/rock/progressive bands at the LSE that took themselves seriously. Our attitude was that it was easy, it should be fun, let's just do it. We taught the bass player to play in two days before our first gig (a talent contest), and had one rehearsal before doing it. We won :-)

That spirit carried on a year later when I decided to put a band together properly . There was no intention to have any sort of career, or to make money from it: just the joy of getting up and doing it. Our first few gigs were arranged completely by ourselves. We simply booked the venues and did the advertising and all the arranging ourselves. The DIY spirit was very musch alive in us! As we played a few more gigs, particularly Alan McGee's Living Room club in London, we got to know a few more like-minded people in bands.

The bands became a sort of underground alternative to the normal rock circuit. We put on bands like the Close Lobsters, Age of Chance, Yeah Yeah Noh and Big Flame in small pubs/squats in London, and they arranged similar nights in Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester.

As for influences, we very much enjoyed the likes of the TVPs and Subway Sect, with the Velvet Underground as another older influence. But the biggest driver/motivation at the time was the Postcard scene. We'd seen and absolutely loved Josef K and Orange Juice, in particular, and felt that we could do something different, but that reflected the same kind of anti-macho, un "rock'n'roll" feeling. I remember Edwyn Collins smiling and laughing throughout a very early Orange Juice gig I saw in London. I thought that to smile at the audience was somehow cheeky and subversive, but also inclusive and welcoming. It was REALLY unusual for a rock band to convey happiness...and I wanted to do some of that myself.

So was there a sense of a (dread word) 'network' forming... whenever I've read stuff on the Living Room or the Splash One club in Glasgow I've got the sense that every other person attending was in a band and the rest were writing fanzines and starting to put out records- and some were doing all three- was it all goodwill and driven by a need to 'do' (I can't remember the old Legend! motto, something like 'participate! create! get involved!')?

In the early days, helping one-another out just seemed like completely the natural thing to do. It didn't at all feel like we were forming some sort of network: we felt that it was simply small scale DIY stuff that was unlikely to have any sort of affect on the wider mainstream. The truth of the matter was that, in the early days, the June Brides had no chance of doing concerts outside of London without the help of another band. And similarly, bands like the Close Lobsters or the Wedding Present couldn't get a London gig (other than, maybe, the Living Room) without us putting them on. But it was certainly a happy time: everybody was very much into the other bands, and into the idea of supporting each other.

I was really pleased to find these other people, all around the country, who had similar ideals and tastes. It was quite inspiring to see things start to blossom.

Was there much competition?

As things grew, a weird competitive edge did begin to creep into things. I'd loved the Jasmine Minks, for instance, when I first saw them. And they'd been keen on, and good to, the Junies. But as we began to get more successful, petty jealousies did begin to creep in a bit. With them, and later The Loft, it got to the stupid stage where we'd not talk to each other any more. It was ridiculous! It took a couple of years perspective down the road to realise we should have been fighting the damned record companies, media and lazy "rock" fans instead of wasting time fighting each other. Young men with their competitive edges can be truly stupid...Thanks God we're friends again now.

I suppose, though, there was the good side to the competition: seeing one of the bands you'd fallen out with doing something good just made you want to raise the bar on your own work!

What level of ambition did the band have?

As I said, we'd formed basically for fun, and to express ourselves. Initially just with the idea of playing locally and maybe aspiring, one day, to get a 7" independent single out. That was the level of our ambition: definitely no higher! But things seemed to happen very quickly, indeed, for us. We started to get good write-ups in the music press very, very quickly. And records followed and got into the indie charts. Things happened so fast, that it felt we had no control over what was going on, or idea where we were going. We were on the front cover of the NME, with a number 1 indie album, and touring abroad before we'd even woken up to the idea that we might be getting anywhere at all....

The June Brides were, it seemed at the time (or perhaps with hindsight), a rather glaring omission from the NME C86 compilation... C86 seems to have become this totemic thing certainly amongst many of today's indiepop kids... were the june brides a C86 or a C81 band? did either tape matter to you?

First off, I absolutely adored the C81 tape. I thought it was a magnificent mix of different styles, but all connected, somehow, by their distance from what was the mainstream at the time. When I heard the NME were going to do another, I was initially very keen for the June Brides to be on C86. But I then heard what was to be included, and I was really disappointed. I liked many of the bands on there, but it felt like a really narrow view of what was happening: it was jangly guitars, or quirk-out noise with very little else. At that point, we decided that the Junies shouldn't be involved. I, for one, didn't want to be catagorised within the narrow genres on display.

In retrospect, of course, it now probably looks like a very dumb thing to have done. It would have allowed many more people to hear us, and would probably mean the Junies being better remembered than they are. Even worse, we now tend to get mentioned whenever C86 comes up, so we failed to avoid the typecasting anyway!! But, what the heck, I'm proud of at least making a principled, idealistic decision in the first place....

The band were courted (so I understand it) by labels such as Stiff and Go-Discs...

Labels such as Parlophone, Stiff and Go-Discs were all interested in the June Brides. But we didn't end up on them for idealistic reasons. I was personally offered a 6 figure deal, with Pete Shelley to produce the first single by Parlophone - but I turned it down (without even consulting the rest of the band....Sorry, chaps!). We were all anarchistic minded and didn't want to be part of any large company - and even Stiff and Go-Discs felt big from our perspective (and, I think, were both being distributed by major labels at the time). We preferred the purely independent ideal. Again, almost certainly a mistake in terms of any sort of "career" - but it felt right morally at the time.

How do you feel now looking back at the June Brides; are you and the rest of the band proud of what you achieved?

I look back at the June Brides with immense pride. We moved from "In the Rain" to the complexity of "This Town" in only about 18 months. I believe that the songs still sound good, and are still important to a lot of people all over the world (quite a large number numerically if not percentage wise!). And it's always mattered greatly to me that we tend to be name checked and remembered by many more musicians than some of the bands who are perhaps better known to the public. What's not to be proud of ?!!!

This might be quite a good point to ask what your take is on this thing called 'Indiepop'- what ever that might mean- what does it mean to you? does the term have good or bad connotations?

"Indiepop" has a meaning for me. But it's darned hard to describe! I know it when I hear it...
I guess that it's what could be described as "Pop" music: upbeat, tuneful and full of hooks. But it's pop music created by people who are less interested in the idea of "popularity" per se, and so pursue their own path. Whether the music is released on a major or independent label doesn't matter to me in the slightest any more. The Buzzcocks and the Undertones are, to me, as indiepop as the Field Mice.

The term "Indiepop" sounds fine in my head: but I feel distinctly uncomfortable using it out loud! Speaking to my older brother, for instance - who is a huge Faust/Throbbing Gristle fan with all the seriousness that entails - it sounds so frivolous, somehow! I guess that's a bad thing.

I much prefer it as a term than I do the word "Indie": that's a word that how now become almost meaningless. At least "Indiepop" gives you an idea of what it means!

What happened at 'the end of' The June Brides? How did that come to pass?

I think we were all a bit tired of it. We felt that the last two singles ("No Place Called Home" and "This Town") were a real step forward. But it seemed that the audiences and the press were less interested in them than in us banging out "In the Rain" and "Every Conversation" for the 1000th time. Audiences for gigs seemed to be getting smaller, and the sense of excitement had gone a bit. I think we all felt that we should just stop dead. So we did...It's arguable that we should just have stepped back, had a break and regrouped. But we had a punk attitude: "if they don't want it, sod 'em".

Dare I ask about, the Pink record label: loads of key bands of that period on the label- yourselves, That Petrol Emotion, McCarthy, The Wolfhounds- but I get the sense that it wasn't all roses in that particular, um, garden- is that fair or entirely wide of the mark?

The June Brides did really like a load of the stuff on Pink. And we were great friends with the Wolfhounds and That Petrol Emotion. I have to hand it to the label for the quality of the bands they released...or at least, in Jamie Wednesday's case, recognising that there was a potential big band there (even if Carter were dreadful).

We had issues with the label at the time, in that we thought we didn't get paid properly for the success of the 8 Million Stories LP: it did get to number 1 in the indie charts, and was in the charts for 38 weeks, I think. We got paid enough to get the group decent instruments, but no more than that. I recall being told at the time that a lot of the money was invested in good studios and expensive packaging for the Jamie Wednesday and McCarthy records - and that that money was lost as the records didn't sell. However, it's a can of worms that I don't want to delve into too much after all these years (but if Stereolab or Carter want to repay me, I'd be delighted...).

And talking of labels... Creation, was that a happy time? what was that period- with you as a solo artist- like?

Creation was a great label to be on when I joined it. McGee was dead keen, and there was a real sort of family atmosphere at the Creation offices. I'd often just go there in the afternoon to see who would come in, and then just go to the pub and chat with whoever turned up (be it Pete Astor, Edwyn Collins, Bobby Gillespie or even Peter Hook). It was a lot more fun hanging around and getting drunk with interesting people than my recording career on Creation! Alan spent a small fortune recording my first single ("Waiting for a Change"), and it bombed...it absolutely died. No-one was even slightly interested. Although the follow up (10 Miles) was a return to a sound more akin with that of the June Brides, that absolutely died too. And I think that after those two failures, Alan lost interest. I can't say I blame him. The music press and fans had no interest in what I was doing either...I was damned angry about it, though. Which is why I stopped doing music for about 20 years...

Did 20 years of no music follow? Had music outside of performing lost interest for you?

Well, I suppose it is a bit of an exaggeration to say I gave music up for 20 years! But there is some truth there. I certainly gave up on the idea of writing songs again. And I certainly stopped listening to new "indiepop" records - which is why Sarah records totally passed me by, for instance. I barely touched the guitar - several months could pass without me even picking a guitar up. Often, the only reason for me to pick up a guitar would be my dad: he was in a country and western band in the North East, and if I visited him, he'd always expect me to join in with the band for any gigs they might have when up there. No rehearsal, just told what key the song is in and take it from there.That was fun - if a bit scary. I'm really glad he made me do it - it just kept my interest going enough - on a very low burner so to speak.

Were you down about it or was it 'just' a step on to another part of your life?

I wasn't depressed about not being a performer any more. I'd got a job, and just thought I'd do that for a few years before having a re-think. I possibly expected to be re-discovered, or something, and maybe offered a new record contract. Of course, nothing happened!

What motivated you to play again? The June Brides reformed for a a couple of concerts, how did they come about?

In 1995, I was approached by Overground Records about the possibility of a June Brides re-issue. By that time, I was at a sufficient distance from it all to have pretty much cast aside my former irritation at the whole record business, so agreed. I thought it would be nice for another generation to have the chance of hearing some of the recordings, of which I was still very proud. It seemed a good idea, too, to play one concert to celebrate it. We played, and it was immense fun. About 500 people came from all over the country to see it. We even had coaches come from Glasgow and Brighton! We did one more concert in 2002 at the Spitz in London. That was for everybody in the bands 40th birthday, and to mark 20 years since we'd formed in 1982. We also did one further, tiny, concert at a pub in South London in 2006 to celebrate the re-issue of all the June Brides and my solo records on Cherry Red.
I wanted each concert to be discreet and celebratory. And to have a purpose. They had to be one-offs, too, as I didn't want nasty remarks from journalists about us making a pathetic attempt to re-launch the band!

I'd like to ask about the split single with Bunnygrunt and how that occurred?

Well, I'll have to back-pedal a bit to explain that. On holiday in Greece in October 2006, my wife and I decided we'd had enough. Enough of grimy South London, enough of commuting to work, enough of policeman with machine guns in the Tube station when we got off at Westminster, enough of flogging ourselves in jobs we didn't particularly like. So we decided there and then to sell our house and resign from our jobs. By January 2007 we were in Devon. I'd given up work, but my wife had stayed on with hers...she was keen on them taking an age to sack her! But they quickly offered her the chance of continuing her job, but working from home in Devon. This meant we'd have enough money so that I wouldn't have to get a job for a while. All this coincided with renewed interest in the June Brides (the tribute album, C86 concert at the ICA and Cherry Red re-release had recently happened). So, it felt like I had one last opportunity to maybe get back into music.

I know that it's not particularly going anywhere, but I feel that I'm actually pretty good at it..So why not release a few tunes and play a few concerts?

So I started tentatively recording at home again. And being a bit more active on the web, reminding people of the Junies. Which is how Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records found out I was working again and asked me to contribute something for their singles club - which ended up being a split single with the lovely Bunnygrunt.
Bunnygrunt are ace folks. They've offered to be my band if I ever manage to tour the Southern USA. It's very tempting....

So, when you go out to play now... will it be solo? with a band?

I'll be playing solo. I've re-recorded the best of my songs at home, and will be using these as backing tracks, and playing guitar and singing live. I considered doing it acoustically, but I've not got the confidence -and I do like a bit of rocking noise. There's also the distinct possibility of Big Jon, The trumpet player from the June Brides, joining me for some of the gigs....

Are you writing and performing new material?

I've only written a couple of new tunes (one of which, called "I Own it" will be coming out in the USA on Slumberland as a spilt single with Pants Yell). When I started playing again, I concentrated on recording cover versions as a way of rediscovering how to write songs again. I'm only just beginning to feel the creative juices flowing. Funnily enough, I was smitten last night, and was actually writing a new song when you contacted. Sounds good, too!

Are you excited to be performing again? Any sense of trepidation?

I do really like playing live - even though it is absolutely terrifying (particularly without a band around me to share it!). There is some trepidation - what if nobody comes, or people really don't like it? But you've got to take that risk, and try to have some faith in your own ability.

Your description of the early days of The June Brides and bands helping one another out, supporting one another, putting on gigs, etc, seems to have certain parallels with the current 'indiepop' scene what are your thoughts on that?

Mark Hibbett tells me that there is a great supportive scene out there. But I've yet to get out into it and experience it, so can't really comment. Would be lovely to think that there was support out there...

Who are you listening to now? Of the current crop who's taking your fancy?

I still listen to the classic music I grew up with (the Velvets, Orange Juice, Buzzcocks, Jonathan Richman, Undertones, Lee Perry etc). That music is forever fresh to me. But I've gotten into a few new bands recently. Some current faves are Bunnygrunt, Sarandon, MJ Hibbett, Pants Yell!!, The Starlets, Lets Wrestle and the Just Joans. And I urge anyone with any interest in music, and independent pop in particular, to please get into Davy Henderson's stuff! The Nectarine No. 9 and the Sexual Objects are fab.

And finally which one song (not by you) do you wish you'd written and why?

'Falling and Laughing' would be a great one to have under your belt...it's the sound of happiness.

Look out for Phil playing across the UK (and possibly elsewhere) during 2008 and go see him!

The essential 'Every Conversation: The Story of The June Brides and Phil Wilson' 2 disc CD compilation is available from Cherry Red records.
Phil is playing at the- for want of a better title- 'Indiepop Alldayer' at Lee Rosy's in Nottingham in November, with... the Bobby McGees, Gregory Webster, Mark Hibbett, Milky Wimpshake, Pocketbooks, Pete Green, Frankie Machine and Lardpony

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Sat Aug 30, 2008 20:17

And I'm playing with a proper bassist and drummer, not backing tapes. It should rock :-)

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by ian » Sat Aug 30, 2008 22:55

That's an excellent interview!
-----------
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Mon Sep 15, 2008 23:11

I'll add this again!

I will be debuting my new band (the first in 22 years!) in Oxford on October 3rd.

On Bass, introducing Arash Tarobi, also known as The Painted Word: http://www.myspace.com/thepaintedword" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

On Drums, Andy Fonda, also known as Some Beans: http://www.myspace.com/somebeansuk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and as the singer in the Fondas: http://www.myspace.com/thefondasrock" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You can get advance tickets for only £3 : http://www.wegottickets.com/event/36534" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


So, please come!

Phil

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by richpassivity » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:28

Great interview Phil!
it still irks me that I missed both JUNE BRIDES Southampton gigs. I believe I was on holiday for one & another was so badly advertised I (living in a small town 6 miles away) didn't find out about it until after the fact!
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:34

richpassivity wrote: it still irks me that I missed both JUNE BRIDES Southampton gigs.
I think just about EVERYBODY in Southampton missed those gigs! There was hardly anybody at either :-)

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by Swiss Concrete » Wed Sep 17, 2008 13:21

philjunebride wrote:
richpassivity wrote: it still irks me that I missed both JUNE BRIDES Southampton gigs.
I think just about EVERYBODY in Southampton missed those gigs! There was hardly anybody at either :-)
you should definitely come to Oxford then..it's not *that* far!

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by richpassivity » Wed Sep 17, 2008 13:58

I did check out the train times but unfortunately I don't have my own transport & I have to come back the same night as I have a wedding to go to on the 4th.
Last train back leaves Oxford at 22:34 sadly.
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by richpassivity » Wed Sep 17, 2008 14:06

philjunebride wrote:
richpassivity wrote: it still irks me that I missed both JUNE BRIDES Southampton gigs.
I think just about EVERYBODY in Southampton missed those gigs! There was hardly anybody at either :-)
:)
Did I read once that you broke down on the way back to London after one of these Southampton debacles?
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Wed Sep 17, 2008 14:16

Yeah! Miserable night, 8 people in the audience (and 4 of them were in the support band!), no money and we broke down on the way home! I haven't been back to Southampton since :-)

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by postalblue » Thu Sep 18, 2008 01:14

philjunebride wrote:Yeah! Miserable night, 8 people in the audience (and 4 of them were in the support band!), no money and we broke down on the way home! I haven't been back to Southampton since :-)
Jesus, you need to be a hero to keep on going. I've never had any experiences nearly as bad, and I still tossed aside the idea of playing live.
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by richpassivity » Thu Sep 18, 2008 08:56

philjunebride wrote:Yeah! Miserable night, 8 people in the audience (and 4 of them were in the support band!), no money and we broke down on the way home! I haven't been back to Southampton since :-)
It was probably about a year too early as by 1986 there was a decent indie-pop crowd in Southampton, as I mentioned on THE MAYFIELDS thread.

Favourite JUNE BRIDES song? Mine has always been 'Comfort'. That opening guitar line still gives me goosebumps!
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Thu Sep 18, 2008 09:33

richpassivity wrote:
Favourite JUNE BRIDES song? Mine has always been 'Comfort'.
Funny that, I haven't played "Comfort" live in 20 years, but we had a go at rehearsing it lat week. Sounded good! It may creep back into the set.

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by alexie » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:34

I recently bought a copy of the 2CD June Brides & Phil Wilson set, and I love love love it. It's my Saturday morning stereo fixture now :)

I believe there was a June Brides tribute album released, I don't know how long ago. Is it still available anywhere? Does anybody have a copy?
you're just too obscure for me

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by richpassivity » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:48

Yes there was a tribute album on http://www.yesboyicecream.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by alexie » Thu Sep 18, 2008 13:00

Sold! The Legend! lives in Brisbane now so I can tell him I bought it the next time I see him out and about.
you're just too obscure for me

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by philjunebride » Thu Sep 18, 2008 15:55

alexie wrote:
I believe there was a June Brides tribute album released, I don't know how long ago. Is it still available anywhere? Does anybody have a copy?
The tribute album is really good (...I may be biased!). Although the Television Personalities drum'n'bass version of "I Fall" is...."interesting" is the best word I can think of. And the Manics track is a bit dull. Otherwise, fabby!

Cheers!

Phil

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Re: Phil Wilson/The June Brides

Post by postalblue » Thu Sep 18, 2008 23:39

Yay for yesboyicecream for releasing the comp, and for Phil for writing the songs in the first place. I'm honoured to be in that comp. Don't let that stop you from buying it, though.;)
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