Saturday, 29 June 2013
I've always been a big fan of post-apocalypse fiction since reading Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley (1967) when I was a kid. In that book a prisoner, Hell Tanner, is offered a full pardon if he agrees to drive a plague vaccine across the radioactive wasteland between Los Angeles and Boston. He is terrorized by various gangs of bikers and marauders in his attempt to deliver the vaccine, and picks up a girl, Cordelia on the way. Things don't turn out well for Hell Tanner.
In many ways The Last Of Us revisits this plot, via contemporary influences such as The Road, The Walking Dead and Children Of Men. Our hero, Joel, embarks on a journey through a devastated United States, charged with delivering a young girl, Ellie, to a medical unit in Salt Lake City. Ellie, we find out, is immune to a fungal plague that has transformed the infected into flesh eating zombies and can provide a vaccine that will save millions of lives.
For me, The Last Of Us is the perfect game, with incredible graphics, the most brutal combat sequences since Manhunt, and most of all an incredibly well thought-out story arc that show the characters really developing throughout the 15 or so hours of gameplay. Naughty Dog have created a masterpiece in The Last Of Us, and it really is the most immersive and emotional game I've ever played.
Saturday, 11 May 2013
Going through my office I found some videos and photos of my first band SIRENS, who formed in Exeter in 1986. The indie scene was pretty sparse in those days, with the only other band I can remember being THE VISITORS who put out a flexi disc for the brilliant Bristol fanzine of the time Are you Scared To Get Happy? We had our on single out The End, My Dear which was financed by Dave Henderson who ran Henderson's Records in an arcade called Mr Bumblebees Bazaar, on Fore Street (later he moved the shop to the Real McCoy Arcade).
Sirens first guitarist was Emma Mitchell (in the photo). The guitarist in the video below is Lisa Cole who also played in her own band Southside.
A few promoters were doing indie nights in Exeter at the time; The Big Chill put on bands like The Wolfhounds and Mighty Mighty, who we supported, and there were other notable shows such as Primal Scream, Loop, the Charlatans, The Flatmates and Spacemen 3. Our first show was actually supporting The Shamen in a club on Union Street in Plymouth, called Aliens!
James from Timepiece did a night called Aural Hexen and Ben Ballin put on the Wedding Present in Boxes (posters below)
Here's video of Sirens live at The Exeter Arts Centre in 1987 or 1988...
I did an interview for an Indie Fanzine called Cloudberry about the Exeter scene a couple of years ago. You can find it here...
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Before we opened the Cavern - around 1988/89 - a group of us formed a collective called Hometown Atrocities, with the loose aim of bringing a load of punk and hardcore bands to Exeter.
I was in a band at the time with Martin Edmunds called Mad At The Sun, and we put on a bunch of shows including, Fugazi, Verbal Assault, Sink, Victim's Family, Cowboy Killers and Senseless Things. The first hometown Atrocities show was at The Art College, with skate ramps put up in the bar (it was before the days of health & safety!)
There were no real venues so we set up in various pubs around town, usually for only one show, sometimes only half a show if the pub landlord managed to pull the plug on it, like they did at The Printers Pie (now called The Monkey Suit) when the irate landlady walked in halfway through a Cowboy Killers set. One show that did go ahead there featured a band called Headless Chickens who had Thom Yorke from Radiohead on guitar. (Thom was at the art college and was also part of the Hometown Atrocities collective). You can see a photo of that show below - the other guys in the pic are John Matthias and Shack who now DJs under the name Elite Force.
Recently, IAN GLASPER featured Mad At The Sun, Wordbug and Annalise in his quadrilogy of books about the Eighties/Nineties Uk Punk Scene - Burning Britain, The Day The Country Died, Trapped In A Scene and Armed With Anger. Those books contain everything you need to know about the underground scene from 1980-1999.
In December 2012 we drove over to Berlin to film a video for THE COMPUTER's single DISCO SUCKS. What an amazing place Berlin is. Filming there was hassle free... the band set up along the Berlin wall, on the Tube, and even managed to do a shoot in front of the Brandenburg Gate, without once being told to move on. (Imagine how quickly you'd be shut down if you started filming in Princesshay!)
Carl Shanahan shot the video on a Canon 7D with a crew of just one - me! It was bitterly cold and the poor bastard forgot his gloves. I think he did a pretty good job though....
There were a few shots that didn't make the cut including some in the amazing Ramones Museum which is situated on Krausnickstrase 23. You've got to pay the place a visit if you ever go there -it was set up by a guy called Flo Hayler in 2005. www.ramonesmuseum.com