Pennyblackmusic Presents: Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) - With Hector Gannet and Andy Thompson @The Water Rats, London, Saturday 25, May, 2024

Headlining are Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) With support from Hector Gannet And Andy Thompson
Hosted at the Water Rats London , Saturday 25th May, 2024. Doors open 7:30pm. First band on at 8:00pm; Admission £15 on the door or £12 in advance from We got Tickets
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Oldfield Youth Club - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Oldfield Youth Club - Interview

With his latest band Oldfield Youth Club , West London-based singer-songwriter and musician Simon Rivers has taken a partial step back in time, as it also includes both his wife Kim Rivers (born Ashford) on bass and Neil Palmer on drums, both of whom were also in Last Party, the group he fronted in the 1980s and 1990s for thirteen years. Rivers is one of our best but most under-rated musical talents. His music incorporates heart torn ballads, rollicking pub rock tunes, feisty punk numbers, and old-fashioned music hall songs and his compassionate but earthy lyrics reflect on life with all its sadness and occasional glories but also rich humour. After Last Party, with whom he self-released two albums, mutated into The Bitter Springs in 1996, Rivers recorded another eight albums with them in an increasingly sprawling line-up. With The Bitter Springs in hiatus, Simon Rivers has spent the last few years focusing on Oldfield Youth Club and his solo project The Poor Performer. Oldfield Youth Club, who have a noise rock, garage sound, released their five-years-in-the-making debut album. ‘The Hanworth Are Coming’ (which will be publishing an extensive ReView on next month), at the end of last year on vinyl on Tiny Global Productions. Many of the songs, as befits the band who take heir name from the youth club Rivers and Palmer attended as teenagers, finds Rivers reflecting on his 70’s upbringing,. We spoke to Simon Rivers about Oldfield Youth Club and ‘The Hanworth Are Coming’. PB: The Bitter Springs’ last gig and Oldfield Youth Club’s first central London show were both at our 20th Anniversary gig at The Water Rats in 2018. Have the Bitter Springs after what must have been thirty years finally disbanded or do you see them as simply being in hiatus? SIMON RIVERS: Crikey, that's ages ago. Time flies, doesn't it? With all of the music I've been involved in over the years, life and the living of it has gone hand in hand and often getting the way. Being self-financed down the years we lost a couple albums here and there - by that I mean we 've had lots of songs and couldn't afford to record them, and by the time we could afford to record we'd have another LP's worth that were newer, so we'd move on to those. That's something we did with Oldfield Youth Club - looking back at some old tunes that had only been recorded at home in the garage days and revamping them. Sometimes you have to try and survive rather than make music and often projects have been slowed by financial constraints, I've learned to just get on with it when I can. At the moment I can't afford to go to the studio even though I'm halfway through a second Poor Performer LP and itching to start on the new OYC one. As for the Springs, there will be quite possibly another LP or three sometime, but I am getting on a bit so iImight run out of time. PB: Some of the songs on this album and both these and other tracks on the LP – ‘A Kind of Loving in a Loveless Town’, ‘When Bob Grant Ruled the World’ and ‘The Glue’ – have come out as download singles. Why has it taken so long for this album to come out? Do you see it at one level as being a compilation of sorts and of where you have got to so far? SR: When Neil Palmer suggested we play together again, he came up with the name 'Oldfield Youth Club, which was the name of the youth club we frequented as teens in Hampton, it set my songwriting mind back to how things appeared back in the 70's and 80's and how I felt and saw things at that time. I've always considered my songs in part as some kind of alternative history that is overlooked - people and events that don't make the headlines. So a lot of the songs on the LP - 'A Kind of Loving', 'Theme from the OYC' and ‘When 'Bob Grant Ruled the World’ - almost wrote themselves and are firmly based in the deep dark past . Kim learned the bass guitar and joined me and Neil and we began recording in St Albans with the brilliant Dave Morgan, and then with another great engineer Kevin Harris at W11 studios - some of those versions were released as downloads, but when we had the chance from Tiny Global to make the LP we wanted to re-do everything at Jon Clayton's Studio In London to get a unified sound - we'd accumulated a lot more songs by then so we had to leave off some good uns, which you can get as downloads along with the LAST PARTY LP's at our Bandcamp site PB: There are two songs about the Oldfield Youth Club on the LP, which open up each 'We’re The OYC’ and ‘(Theme from) Oldfield Youth Club’ pay tribute to it. Why does that youth club continue to have such resonance with you 45 years on? SR: It still exists. I think someone spoke to me about it at a gig and asked if we'd do a benefit for it but I never heard anything more on that though. ‘ Theme from the OY’C is directly about the club disco nights, and the characters and songs and so on from those nights. Names have not been changed (Laughs). 'We're the OYC' is a kind of joke manifesto of the band - saying how through years of grafting in the success wilderness we now have earned the right to do what we like, which yeah we have. PB: Several of the tracks –‘We’re the OYC’,’ Good News I’m Afraid’, ‘Strange Family Dynamic’, ‘Lightbulb Moments’ and ‘The Glue’ – seem to be about finding your own way in the world, however unconventional that is and whether society approves or not. Do you see that as the main theme of ‘The Hanworth Are Coming’ along with trying to make sense of your youth? SR: Well, I think now that actually getting through your youth is achievement enough, let alone making sense of it. You had to wing it back then, humour being the best defence. But there were a lot of kids back then that, at the time, whowere considered mad and dangerous and a lot of them met early sticky ends .... but with the benefit of hindsight and of the changing years you realise they could have been helped if diagnosed properly and maybe still be around today. But every era has its own problems to deal with PB: The last track ‘Net Curtains’ features Neil Palmer on poetry – and he is brilliant. How did that come about? SR: I'd had that tune for ages and was never happy with the words, then I came up with the net curtains idea, which like a lot of these songs on the album are in fact based in and around Hampton. That's what I meant earlier by an alternative history, real events, real people. At the same time we started OYC Neil had been writing a lot of excellent poetry so I said, “Would you fancy doing one one the end of ‘Net Curtains’?" as there was an extended musical outro (because for once i didn't fill a song with a trillion verses). The poem he wrote, a heartfelt ode to his Mum fitted brilliantly, although I must say he had trouble doing it because he was very emotional but it's all the better for it. PB: The album features on some tracks Alison Targett from Heist on trumpet and backing vocals, and she’s now become a permanent member of the band. How did you know Alison and how did she become involved in making the album? SR: We met ages back when Heist and The Springs shared a bill and we got on well,and I thought, “Let's get Alison in the group and we'll be like a less divorced, indie version of Fleetwood Mac or Abba.” No, not really...we just love her Scottish accent and her trumpet playing, plus Heist are a lot like us in the fact that they exist outside of the music biz and address similar themes in the lyrics. The next OYC LP will be quite different I think now there's the four of us. PB: Why has the album been released on vinyl and not on CD? The cover of ‘The Hanworth Are Coming’ is beautiful, showing three shadows – presumably the three of you before Alison joined - on a woodland road. Why did you choose that as a cover and what does it imply to you? SR: John Henderson at the label plucked us out of the wilderness and his preference is vinyl, and I don't care really what format my music comes out on. I'm only interested in it being made and then hopefully heard and Tiny Global has been great for that. As far as the cover is concerned and I'm glad you like it, it's by the Great artist Leka Mladenovic and it's his interpretation of the record. We sent him the songs and that's what he came up with. We did have a picture that Jack Wild, who played the Artful Dodgeri ‘Oliver’, gave me of himself as a school kid but I'm not sure we could have used it as the quality was iffy. but Leka's is great and strange and I like strange. PB: How are you finding the experience of being back on a label after self-releasing records for years on your own imprint Harvey Records? SR: It's very good in some ways and not in others, Being a control freak like me, it’s hard to have to discuss what you release and when etc with someone else, but it's better that I can just concentrate on the music. When I controlled everything it wasn't much fun chasing up radio people and getting gigs - when talking about your own band it's too personal. Mind you in saying that, we haven't had much airplay for this record, which is hard for me to fathom. We sell lots anyway, but it'd be nice to reach more people In fact the song 'Good News I’m Afraid ' is about that very subject - my paranoia at not being played on 6 music, but the label helps out sometimes with studio fees so that's brilliant. PB: What other plans do you have for the future with both Oldfield Youth Club and The Poor Performer? SR: I'm halfway through 'Awash with the Poor Performer'. the second Poor Performer Lp which is sounding great. I'm doing it all with Jon Clayton at Crystal Palace again with some great additional music from the multi-talented Kirsten Morrison.. It features my tribute to Andy Williams song 'What Would Andy Say'. which Jim Bob from Carter USM is going to sing with me and my England football song 'The Beautiful Game' amongst others. Again time and money get in the way but we have a shed load of OYC tunes to get on with as well. We just played a hometown gig last week in Hampton which was a huge success and has spurred us on to do more. We are lucky enough to be supporting some of my musical heroes, The House of All, in Brighton at the Hope and Anchor in April. PB: Thank you.

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Oldfield Youth Club - Interview

Oldfield Youth Club - Interview

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Bitter Springs frontman Simon Rivers speaks to John Clarkson about his latest project Oldfield Youth Club and their debut album, ‘The Hanworth Are Coming’.


Interview (2018)
Oldfield Youth Club - Interview
Simon Rivers, the front man with the Bitter Springs, talks to John Clarkson about his decision to form also another band Oldfield Youth Club, and both groups’ forthcoming appearance at the Pennyblackmusic 20th Anniversary gig at the Water Rats in London.


A Kind of Loving in a Loveless Town (2019)
First-rate download single from Oldfield Youth Club, the new band of the Bitter Springs' Simon Rivers which finds him reunited with his old bandmates

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