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Pennyblackmusic - Writers' and Photographers Highlights

  by Admin

published: 25 / 10 / 2023

Pennyblackmusic - Writers' and Photographers Highlights


Some of our writers and photographers reflect on their Pennyblackmusic highlights.

KIMBERLY BRIGHT The best experience at Pennyblackmusic has been having the opportunity to interview artists like Crass's Penny Rimbaud and Mike Peters from The Alarm. There's something special about going into an interview with someone with whom you feel you already know. My first and favorite interviewee here was Rimbaud. My first impressions of him as a teenager were from punk zines and maybe Maximumrocknroll, where he came off as frighteningly well read and intelligent, although I was far more interested in reading about Crass's Eve Libertine. To prepare for my Pennyblackmusic interview, I spent weeks watching videos of his interviews and chat show appearances that were really sociopolitical debates. He is as intelligent as I had assumed he would be, but he is also a very warm, thoughtful, funny, and wildly imaginative person. We were supposed to have such a short chat that he had come inside at Dial House in Essex to take my call in the kitchen while taking a break from cutting down some brush outside. Our brief chat on the phone in pre-Zoom days turned into over three hours. It cost me a fortune! We had to finish the conversation after he changed into drier clothes and got a hot cup of tea. MALCOLM CARTER I haven’t contributed to Pennyblack for some months due to ill health but had to take advantage of the offer to mention a few of the artists I probably would not have heard had it not been for the website and whose music has meant so much to me. Steve Robinson ; a Yorkshire lad who hasn’t forgotten his roots although living in the States for some years. Not a day goes by when I don’t listen to his music. He blends unforgettable melodies with astute lyrics, many recalling an England no longer there. Chris Wade ; the multi-instrumentalist, author and film-maker who releases more music in one year than most artists do in a lifetime, every album has taken me on a journey, places I never want to return from. A remarkable talent. Perry Keyes and Sam Shinazzi, both hailing from Australia and both master storytellers. The UK’s Hattie Briggs and American Michelle Lewis, distinctive voices with an ability to reduce this grown-man to tears with their lyrics and beautiful melodies. I have to thank our Editor, John Clarkson, for bringing these exceptional artists to my attention ; I could have missed out on some of the best music I’ve ever heard. JOHN CLARKSON It is good that we have enough clout these days to interview acts of the calibre of Stewart Copeland, Rick Wakeman and Bruce Foxton. It has, however, always meant more for me to interview groups of more minority appeal, the indie type of bands who equally deserve a voice. During the last 25 years I have done plenty of that, and bands like Morton Valence, the black watch, Vinny Peculiar, HEIST and the truly brilliant Idiot Son, who disbanded last year after playing our Bands’ Nights for a seventh time, have proved time and time again that they have got just as much to offer and say as their theatre and arena-filling contemporaries. Beyond that, I have just really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with the other Pennyblack writers and photographers, these people from all over the globe, who share a similar addiction and obsession with musi, as the opportunity has arisen. Discovering a shared love of French new wave films over coffee with Richard Lewis, Lisa Torem’s several trips over here for Bands’ Nights, meeting Nick in Oxford and Maarten in Arnhem ,promoting gigs with Adrian, Mark and Denzil’s bands, putting on shows in Manchester with Dixie, and all the Writers’ NIghts in The Windsor Castle in London have all meant an enormous amount. NICKY CREWE I can’t choose one particular Pennyblackmusic experience for this feature. It’s been such an amazing opportunity to be part of the ‘family’. When I left university with an English degree in the mid nineteen seventies I had a dream to be a music journalist. Life intervened and that particular ambition stayed on the back burner. In the early 2000s I realised I had lots of stories to tell and memories to share relating to the music in my life. I started writing a blog called Historic Gig Guide to recall and record those experiences before the memories faded away. In 2013 I went to the first Louder Than Words festival in Manchester. I met Melanie Smith there. She was co-founder of another online magazine, Mudkiss, and was a photographer for Louder Than War. We joined forces to write and photograph reviews. She also suggested that I get in touch with John at Pennyblackmusic. I did and John’s appreciation, encouragement and support for my writing has been a highlight of my life. In turn I have been able to support and encourage musicians and venues I care about by reviewing and writing about their work. Thank you! ANTHONY DHANENDRAN In twenty years of writing for Pennyblackmusic I’ve had so many good memories that I wasn’t sure I could narrow it down to just one. Should I tell you about the time I tried to conduct a pre-arranged interview with one troubled post-punk legend who had to call me back because he was busy speaking to a squirrel in Kensington Gardens? Or the many, many Bands Nights when somehow John and the other promoters would pull out legends such as Jim Reid or Glen Matlock to play our humble night? But I think my greatest memory was that of interviewing the band Fonda 500 in the cold winter of 2004 at the much-missed Spitz venue in London’s Spitalfields where the band had missed their soundcheck by three hours thanks to gnarly motorway traffic. They were the epitome of friendliness but we couldn’t find anywhere in the venue where we could be heard. They suggest that I interview them during the gig, chucking questions onto the stage in-between songs. But they ended up writing their own answers to imagined interview questions into my little reporter’s notebook, passing it between them and giggling delightedly – and endearingly – to one another. A classic. DAVE GOODWIN Its hard to put onto words what this magazine and the people that involve themselves in it means and how valuable it is. I believe everyone has to have some sort of release or a way to express themselves and this is mine because I can combine my photos with the love for music. I didn’t think of doing any kind of writing until Mr Clarkson came along and he is the catalyst for my expressions. If I had to pick one or two moments I would cast my mind back to a Pennyblack music night in Islington where we could meet up and which involved a bar with an extraordinary large rum menu. I can vividly remember every part of the interview I did in a ‘smoke’ filled room upstairs at the Rescue Rooms with Huey Morgan and The Fun Lovin Criminals – I've not been the same man since. I will always the trips down to the Jazz Café in Camden, especially the one where I got to see the legend Bettye Lavette. I will never forget the Bloc Party gig at KOKO also in Camden which was just magical as was the Numan-god at the same venue. Most of all just being involved with this magazine. Special. TOMMY GUNARSSON As I have been a writer for Pennyblackmusic almost since the beginning, there are lots and lots of great memories to choose from here. But if I have to pick one, I guess it has to be something involving my big interview with Malcolm Eden, singer/guitarist/songwriter with legendary leftwing indiepopsters McCarthy. I had been a big fan of theirs for several years when I suddenly decided to see if I could track down Mr Eden, who had disappeared from the music business after McCarthy split up in 1990 (apart from a few singles as Herzfeld) – all I knew was that he allegedly moved to Paris in the early 90s. So, I googled his name, and found someone called Malcolm Eden on a French chess site. I sent an email asking if this was indeed THE Malcolm Eden, and his short reply was “Yes, it’s me”. I went on to ask if I could send him a few questions regarding McCarthy, and he was fine with that. That was the beginning of an email conversation between us that would last several years, and he even sent me a cassette with a live recording of a McCarthy gig. I’m glad I decided to send him that first email. FIONA HUTCHINGS This was a really difficult choice to make (and as most people know, I prefer top 5’s of anything minimum). Favourite piece is probably the 10 Songs That Made Me Love Sheffield because getting to write a love letter to the city and music I love was just joyful. Pennyblack has always celebrated good music and not sneered for the sake of it. I’d also pick the Human League gig I reviewed in December 2010. The band were on great form,. We know I love a hometown gig - but what I remember most is being able to get my very talented friend Mel her first experience of taking pictures from the press pit right at the front of the stage. When she re-joined me after the first three songs she just looked so happy That sort of memory is priceless. PHILAMONJARO Having the chance to cover The Who’s 2023 European Hits Back tour on opening night is my favorite PBM memory. Complete with a full orchestra, the production was superb. Tasked with both writing and photographing, this was the first time I was able to photograph them from the photo pit. Bonus! Requesting credentials had an ‘all or nothing’ consequence waiting for confirmation. I considered this might be their last tour. Or my last chance to see them. Everything worked out. It could not have been better. As a superfan, I’d seen them twenty three-times since 1979. This night was my peak. The publicist said she liked the PBM review and shared it with the band. This was the best encouragement, supplementary to John’s editorial coaching, kindness and feedback. In 2019, I photographed them for PBM with Lisa Torem writing. Lisa being my closest music co-conspirator. No surprise we met at a 2012 Simon Townshend club show. Eddie Vedder joined him on stage that night. But I digress. My Who experiences run deep. Yet my PBM Who memories standout. They encapsulated the best of my ten years contributing to PBM with Lisa Torem. Thanks for including me in your PBM family. LISA TOREM It's been an exuberant, wild ride. But I'm pleased to have a platform on which I can publish the thoughts of the great minds that sustain the ever-changing music business. My journalistic travel thrust me behind the scenes, in talks with astute arrangers Paul von Mertens, Robbie Robertson and John Philip Shenale. I chatted leisurely with songwriters Albert Hammond and Graham Gouldman. Synapses crackled when singer-songwriters Janis Ian and Suzanne Vega revealed their complex truths. Fellow authors, David Ritz and Joe Milliken, confidently answered my questions before I uttered one word. Dweezil Zappa navigated a city airport, while chronicling his latest tour. I crawled through a window to answer Jimmy Webb's call on the second ring. A 3 am call with Ian Anderson was a splash of cold water on my face, when my coffee pot took its final breath. I've made friends with Greenwich Village Time and a host of international accents and lifestyles. Witnessing the "fire and rain" of my celebrity/garage band heroes makes me admire them all the more. Thank you, Richard and John, for the fun, the satisfying work and "the eternal flame" of friendship. Here's to 25 more! DENZIL WATSON My Pennyblackmusic journey started back in early 2002. After sending my band’s debut EP to the site for review, a conversation was struck up with the Editor, John Clarkson. An invite to write for the site followed and the rest is just history. It’s been an amazing 21 years. The opportunities John has thrown my way and the confidence placed in me all deeply appreciated. The highlights are many, as demonstrated by my list of 20 favourite interviews, compiled for this celebratory edition. Gig and LP reviews are fun, but it’s the in-person interviews that give us the chance to pose those questions to our favourite bands we’d always wanted to ask. So, to the highlights. Interviewing Ray Gorman and Steve Mack from That Petrol Emotion, sat outside in Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms Beer Garden in 2009 was special. And interviewing Sleaford Mods in their shoebox dressing room in Doncaster back in 2015. Then there’s the surreal phone interviews with Peter Buck of REM fame and with a very, very chatty Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys). Pride of place, however, must go to the multiple interviews I’ve done with Jean-Jacques Burnell, Baz Warne and Hugh Cornwell from my favourite band of all time, The Stranglers. Thank you, John. Thank you, Pennyblackmusic. It’s been a blast!

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