SOUND ADVICE Posted 11 Oct 2019

SOUND ADVICE with Erica Freas!

A new column for Liner Notes! Erica answers three different punk conundrums submitted to us anonymously. Submit yours here or by emailing erica@specialistsubjectrecords.co.uk

What is the biggest threat to the current DIY/Punk community/'scene'?

We’re no longer in the streets! We’ve made progress (unfinished!) toward inclusivity of diverse gender / sexuality within punk and now we’re in an eddy. We’re overwhelmed by the state of the world. We’ve gravitated towards “people like us” and feel safer in our pockets of like-mindedness. All of this leads to apathy. Is that punk?! As a community, punk / DIY has the capacity and energy to confront and join more outward facing societal movements like class war, the impacts of globalism, smashing capitalism. That’s where we sharpen our teeth, write more interesting songs and learn how to work together across our differences. That’s the good stuff.


I think my band is really good but no-one seems to care. We don't have time to tour lots. What can we do?

Don’t underestimate the power of doing shows on the weekend or a cheeky two week tour once or twice a year. That still leaves you 50 weeks a year of not touring. Nothing beats the in-person connection that can happen through playing gigs. It’s that experience that builds into caring about a band; it’s contagious and if you’re not out there putting on a rad show, making friends, getting sweaty and weird, then people aren’t going to catch what you’ve got. Think of how much love you feel for your friends’ bands - you’re totally biased and it’s awesome. Within punk / DIY the bands that we cherish most are the ones that we connect with somehow, that may be through an unforgettable live show or a meaningful conversation with someone in the band as much or more than the album in our headphones. How are people connecting with your music?


I’m getting more confident in my playing and believing that my music isn’t shit, but I feel imposter syndrome when listening to mixes. I find it hard to have an opinion and unable to distinguish what changes would benefit the song so I let other band mates take the lead. I wanna know what the heck I’m supposed to be hearing when going over mixes to lead to the final KAPOW of the song!

Hear ye, hear ye! I relate to this. Ah! The feeling of listening with owl-like intensity and still feeling like a poseur in the mixing room. Most people who do audio engineering (well) have spent an obsessive amount of time learning how to hear musical nuances and how to work with them to make a balanced mix. (It’s like learning a language and there are loads of resources online for honing your ears, etc.) Any time you spend engaged in a recording / mixing environment is accumulating toward your comfort and understanding of how to use that space to make and record the sounds you want. The key here is “engaged”, it’s easy to feel shut down and like you can’t take up space amongst people who know what they’re doing. Be patient with yourself, take up that space, ask questions and share your instincts so that you can take full advantage of that learning opportunity. You’ll get better at hearing, I’m sure of it!


I moved house 6 months ago and started a new job. I used to write a song pretty much every week, but lately I just haven’t been able to finish one. Do you have any advice for a fellow songwriter? I’m finding it disheartening playing the same old songs whenever I want to pick up my guitar.

You’re already ahead of the game by the fact that you’re writing at all, even if your songs are unfinished. In my experience the best way to blast past writer’s block is to just keep writing. If a song isn’t taking shape and concluding, move on, write another one, and come back to the original one in the future (or not at all!). Your songs don’t have to be good, keeper material and you don’t have to show anyone, but knocking some of the dust off by writing and finishing a few bad songs can really grease the gears and remind you (or show you for the first time) that you can write and finish a song. If you’re in practice, the good ones will come back. Here are some other songwriting tricks:

Write from someone else’s perspective • Take a chord progression from a song you’ve written that you like and change the key / tempo / chord order. • Take chords from a song someone else wrote and see how they change under your hands, with your lyrics. • Take words from somewhere, anywhere (your old journal, the book you’re reading, something you overheard on the bus) and sing them as lyrics. • 10 Minute Free Write: Pick three random words (Silver, Table, Songbird) and write for ten minutes without stopping, use a timer. Use all three words, they’ll serve as prompts to weave your thoughts around. If you get stuck, write, “I have writer’s block, this is so annoying, I’ve had it for weeks. What if it never goes away?...” until you’re able to pick the random free-flow back up. The end will be garble (probably) but read it over, preferably out-loud, and see if you can find a sentence or a paragraph or a theme from the midst of that flow. Repeat if desired. (When I’m disciplined, I do this daily) • Learn new cover songs just to add juice to your routine. • Give yourself a timeframe (1 week, 1 month) and write a song every single day. • Write boringly direct lyrics to get the feelings / experiences out then go back and change them to be poetic or obscure when the song feels more solid. • Your lyrics don’t have to rhyme. • Keep a recording going while you’re writing / playing so that if you stumble across some inspiration you don’t have to stop your process to capture it.

These are all tricks that work (or have worked) for me. I’d love to hear your methods and anybody else’s!


ZINE OF THE WEEK 8/10/2019

Wanderer, Issue #5: A Perzine About Home, Mental Health, Self Care & DIY Music

"This is a perzine we've been getting from Antiquated Future distro in Portland, Oregon for a while now and as well as being really pretty (bound in pink string and an off-white card cover), it's got a real wholesomeness to it. There's snippets about zines, coming out as non-binary, mental health, changing jobs, platonic intimacy, moving to a new city, and music. This is the perfect zine to read on a sleepy afternoon with a cup of tea." Kay



ERICA - Nirvana 'Bleach' LP (Sub Pop Remaster, 2009)

"I've got home on my mind and 'Bleach' takes me to those bleak, Pacific Coastal rainforests. These songs are bizarre and wild, unhinged, and stand up through time as a brilliant moment in punk. Plus grunge is back so let's just get on with enjoying it."

RORY - Pinocchio s/t 7" (Toxic State Records, 2019)

"One of my very favourite records this year. 8 brilliant, succinct punk bangers on a 7". Featuring Mary Jane from Vexx and CC DUST on vocals."

ANDREW - Tony Molina 'Songs from San Mateo County' LP (Smoking Room Records, 2019)

"Recent collection of Tony Molina tracks. More awesome minute long songs, a mix of folk, classical guitar, and classic rock riffage."

KAY - Dilly Dally 'Sore' LP (Buzz Records, 2015)

"This record turns four this week and I still love the weirdness of it all. Think indie rock and grungey guitars punctuated with raspy vocals and etheral screams. Nicola from Doe is also a fan!"


INTERVIEW Posted 05 Oct 2019


'A Moon For Digging' out 1st Nov on Specialist Subject Records (UK) and Kanine Records (US)


Max: Hiya. I'm on the train right now.

Kay: Where are you on the train to?

Todmorden! It's where I live and is a pretty good and weird place.

Hah, how is it weird?

It is a hub of alien activity. And more importantly, a hub of people that love aliens activity.

Woah! I didn’t know there were places like that in the UK. Did you know about that when you moved there?

I did. It is one of the main reasons I moved. I'm desperate to be abducted by friendly or at least inquisitive space fellers.

And here I was thinking it was to start a Masters! Are your studies connected to aliens?

No, but my movements and thoughts are.

Haha! I guess your album is pretty moon-influenced. Have you always been interested in the supernatural?

Absolutely. I think people give away some of their more intimate and complicated hopes and fears when they talk about the supernatural.

Ahh how so? It’s not something I really give any thought to.

Well, I think the idea that there are truths not entrusted to us by established custodians (alien abductions, criptoid monsters, the vengeful undead) says lots about individual people's specific discomforts about what they don't know. There is always a hidden truth that explains everything - nullifying the horrid powerless feelings we all harbour. I think embracing the unknown and mysterious supernatural can really act as a salve to the complex and nasty and small world.

I guess it’s different to say, turning to religion. The more we find out about the world the worse it is so why not leave mystery. Apart from where you’re living now have you visited any other alien-heavy sites in your quest to be abducted?

No, but I am hoping that there are enough critters in the sky interested in abductions that when they throw shit at the wall sometimes I'm the guy that sticks.

You’re playing the long game.

My day has GOT to come.

How would you rate A Moon For Digging in terms of other worldliness?

I would say that it is the most worldly music I have ever made. It really remains on earth, sadly.

Do your band mates share your interest? Do you think Garden Centre could be up for a gig on the moon?

I think they would all be very keen to experience 6G during the ascent, and where they went after that would really be unimportant. It’s thrills, thrills that drive them. They also run a very good mission control type operation, it would go without a hitch undoubtedly.

It’d be hard to play in a space suit, maybe you’d need a pod. Would you lead the mission? What skill set do you & your band mates bring?

Well I would certainly not lead the mission. I think Georgie would play a pioneering, scouting role. Will would attempt to learn any lunar languages and Laurie would design our pod village. I would take a purely ambassadorial job on our trip. You know, go to the cocktail parties etc, eat round chocolates.

Sounds good! Would you dig a hole?

The answer is yes, a deep one.

I was going to ask about the diorama you made for the front cover of the album, and where you got the idea to make it from.

I really wanted to photograph a scene in which 'digging' and 'moonlight' were completely isolated, and have always loved making miniatures. Sitting down and sculpting pointless little models of treasure and tiny spades helped when I was going through a hard and stagnant time. Max Warren took the photos, and I just toyed happily with the clay and mud.

Do you find songwriting as cathartic as making things? How did writing songs for the album come about- were they written over a long time or specifically to build an album more recently?

Writing songs can be pretty cathartic, but my feelings around writing songs change all the time. At the moment it feels more stressful. Making models is something I take less seriously, so it always feels cathartic to turn to. I also do it less, which helps. Once my life starts to revolve around something like I think it is meant to revolve around songs, it tends to get stressful and unhelpful every now and again. Having said that, I do love writing songs. When something clicks for me it really makes me feel glad to be exactly where I AM.

You’ve been writing songs and performing under different names & line ups (sometimes solo, sometimes full band) for yeeeaaarrrs, (for people who have only just heard of Garden Centre recently) can you give a little run down of what you’ve done previously, how Garden Centre came about, and how this album came about?

Yeah. I started writing and playing as King of Cats when I was about 16, it was largely tuneless. I wrote lots and lots of songs without knowing how to play instruments, which was extremely satisfying and frustrating in equal measure. I also played in the sludge rock band Lower Slaughter. They still play and have released two great albums with a new singer, Sinead. I started Garden Centre because I had written an album about forgotten zones and wanted to have a clean sheet to ruin in a relatively focused way. These days I also play in the snot rock band The Snivellers, although we all live very far apart.

Interview by our own Kay Stanley of Specialist Subject Records



RORY - The Fix 'At The Speed Of Twisted Thought' LP (Touch and Go Records, 2006)

"Awesome compilation album collecting both EPs from this legendary American hardcore band as well as a load of live tracks."

KAY - Kaputt 'Carnage Hall' LP (Upset The Rhythm, 2019)

"A favourite at Specialist Subject, brilliant post punk with additional percussion and sax that gets everyone dancing. This record really captures the energy of their live shows."

ANDREW - Wilco 'Ode To Joy' LP (dBpm Records, 2019)

"New Wilco album out on Friday! One of my faves, more alt country / dad rock goodness."

ERICA - Rakta 'Falha Comum' LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2019)

"Newest release from Sao Paolo dark wave, goth / synth punk band. Loads of emotion written into these songs that edge on ambient noise. Real nice."


NEW SINGLE Posted 25 Sep 2019






(Photo by Taylor Clark)



18 Oct - Austin, TX @ Barracuda ^
19 Oct - Dallas, TX @ Ruins +
23 Oct - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa ^ #
25 Oct - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle (Back Room) ^ #
26 Oct - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church ^ #
27 Oct - Allston, MA @ Great Scott ^ #
29 Oct - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade ^ #
30 Oct - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd ^ #
31 Oct - Richmond, VA @ The Camel ^ #
1 Nov - Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor ^ #
2 Nov - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl ^ #
3 Nov - Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone Cafe ^ #
14 Nov - San Diego, CA @ SPACE ^ ~
15 Nov - Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge ^ ~
16 Nov - San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord ^ ~
18 Nov - Seattle, WA @ Barboza ^ ~
19 Nov - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Ballroom ^ ~
21 Nov - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios ^ ~
23 Nov - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court ^ ~
24 Nov - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge ^ ~

^ w/ Caroline Says
+ w/ Christelle Bofale
# w/ Kevin Krauter
~ w/ Nick Dorian

hovvdy.com | facebook.com/hovvdy

Twitter @hovvdy2000 | Instagram @hovvdy



Occupation: Legend - Queens of Noise

By Claire O'Brien

"Really love how this zine highlights so many brilliant women within rock, pop and punk in a really accessible way- it even gives you pointers for which songs to check out if they're unfamiliar to you. A really great celebration of bands who paved the way like Patti Smith & Blondie, changed the rules (Bikini Kill, X-Ray Spex) or like Paramore & Against Me- are influencing a new generation of angst-filled grrrls." Kay



'The Boys Are Back In Town' Edition

KAY - Queen Of Jeans 'If You're Not Afraid, I'm Not Afraid" LP (Topshelf Records, 2019)

"Our friend, Lou Hanman, (from Caves) has been playing bass for Queen of Jeans on tour. She totally sold me with their dreamy jangly guitars and harmonies.""

ERICA - Stu Daly & The Dram 'Marrow From The Bone' 7" (Chewy Records, 2019)

"Had the absolute joy of playing with Stu over the weekend. The bass player of Dublin's Chewing On Tinfoil, Daly's solo stuff pulls back the curtain on these smart and soulful songs. Great guitar, super rich vocals made even lusher by that Dublin accent."

RORY - Comfort 'Not Passing' LP (Anxious Music, 2019)

"Brand new debut LP from this Glaswegian lo-fi post punk band. I’d recommend every release on Anxious Music - one of the most interesting current UK punk labels in my opinion."

ANDREW - Torche 'Restarter' LP (Relapse Records, 2015)

"Super excited that Torche are playing here at the Exchange in December. Not my favourite record by them but it’s still better than most! ...and it's the only one we have in stock right now!"




Featuring members of the excellent Camp Cope

On tour with Witching Waves from 16 - 29 Sep!

THOMO - Martha 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart' LP (Fortuna Pop, 2016)

"It's a perfect pop record, isn't it. I'd like Jimmy to continue considering me as his fav member of Camp Cope, so..."

KELLY - Proper 'I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better' LP (Big Scary Monsters, 2019)

"Proper have embodied all your favourite emo bands from the past 30 years. For people who are sad lonely and horny. It's really cool."

ANDREW - Pijn & Conjurer 'Curse These Metal Hands' LP (Holy Roar, 2019)

"Great collaborative record. Reminds me of early Baroness."

ERICA - Mere Women 'Big Skies' LP (Poison City Records, 2017)

"Post-punk, goth from the Sydney, Australia DIY scene. Driving rhythm section, tactful synth, catchy haunting vocals. V Souixsie & The Banshees. Plus beautiful cover art."




Featuring Culinary Wizard from the Exchange Kitchen, Eadie McCarthy!

EADIE - Uranium Club 'Human Exploration' LP (Static Shock Records , 2015)

"I heard Uranium Club playing in the shop and had to turn it on in the kitchen. It's fast and shouty, dancy and jump around-y, motivational music."

ERICA - She Shreds Magazine

"I like She Shreds for many reasons. The print mag is reminiscent of mainstream magazines I cherished as a teen like Rolling Stone, Sassy, Seventeen and I love how this medium has evolved to be more clever and conscientious of it's cultural reach; even as print has become threatened by lack of demand and the rise of digital media. I especially appreciate She Shreds for carving out room within guitar-culture for other, more diverse ways of being. They're doing great work."

ANDREW - Kitty Kat Fan Club 'Dreamy Little You' LP (Asian Man Records, 2019)

"Sweet, poppy, indie punk from Mike Park and folks from Hard Girls / Just Friends!"

KAY - Parsnip 'When The Tree Bears Fruit' LP (Trouble In Mind Records, 2019)

"A toyshop of sweet sounds, whimsical indie pop unlike anything I've heard not on a 50s Disney Soundtrack."


NEW SINGLE Posted 06 Sep 2019


Another taste of the brilliant new album 'A Moon For Digging' from Brighton indie punks out 1st Nov on Specialist Subject Records (UK) and Kanine Records (US)

Written over the last three years, this is the first Garden Centre album to be recorded with a full band (with songwriter Max Levy backed up by members of Porridge Radio). While there’s plenty of pop hooks and tender lyricism, the structures show that Garden Centre can be both sparse and sporadic. It’s this unexpected, modest attitude that highlight the ethos of the band – making songs for the sake of art, making art so you can make sense of the world and making that art with your friends, so you can make sense of the world, together.

"Naked Ape was written immediately after hearing my flat-mate fall over in the middle of the night. Hearing the thump of their body hit the wood of the loft floor I awoke but did not investigate further. Instead I planned on how I might curry favor with their relatives whilst attending their funeral. The more I thought about it, the more guilty I felt. Would my inaction be the cause of their death? Was my life an ascending spiral of events caused by my failure to act, culminating in the death of my housemate? Would I deserve a space in the earth when I died, which might only fully accept the blameless and good?

He was fine, by the way. I saw him making a cup of tea the next afternoon.

Naked Ape is a song about the realization that inaction can be damning. Placidly taking the scenic route around a problem or a fear typically leads somewhere strange; a dark and guilt ridden place devoid of petrol stations or snack joints. It is important to do the right thing." - Max Levy of Garden Centre

10th Oct London - Sister Midnight
Watch for their November UK Tour!!

Facebook / playinginthegardencentre
Instagram / @garden_centre
Twitter / @Max_of_cats

NEW SINGLE Posted 05 Sep 2019


'Ruin (my ride)' will make you feel good.

From 'Heavy Lifter' out 18 Oct 2019 on Specialist Subject (UK) and Double Double Whammy (US).

Ruin (my ride)," the latest from their new album, Heavy Lifter. Of the song, the band says "'Ruin (my ride)' explores the often complicated nature of social and professional rejection, and aims to celebrate the power in genuine connection."

Last month the band announced Heavy Lifter with its lead single "Cathedral," which The FADER hailed as "a sleepy anthem for late-summer nostalgia" that "perfectly demonstrates that shift in the way they play and sound on Heavy Lifter," and Stereogum said "sharpens their familiar fuzz, finding a crisp warmth."


10/18 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda ^

10/19 - Dallas, TX @ Ruins +

10/23 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa ^ #

10/25 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle (Back Room) ^ #

10/26 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church ^ #

10/27 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott ^ #

10/29 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade ^ #

10/30 - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd ^ #

10/31 - Richmond, VA @ The Camel ^ #

11/1 - Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor ^ #

11/2 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl ^ #

11/3 - Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone Cafe ^ #
11/14 - San Diego, CA @ SPACE ^ ~

11/15 - Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge ^ ~

11/16 - San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord ^ ~

11/18 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza ^ ~

11/19 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Ballroom ^ ~

11/21 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios ^ ~

11/23 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court ^ ~

11/24 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge ^ ~

^ w/ Caroline Says

+ w/ Christelle Bofale

# w/ Kevin Krauter

~ w/ Nick Dorian

hovvdy.com | facebook.com/hovvdy

Twitter @hovvdy2000 | Instagram @hovvdy