WORLD EXCLUSIVE! Live review of ‘fake’ metal band THREATIN at Camden Underworld

In recent days, the metal blogosphere has been buzzing with the story of  ‘fake’ metal band THREATIN. What no one has managed is to file a report from any of their shows: no wonder when only three people showed up to the Camden Underworld…

threatin_underworld

Surely, this is of interest? We were there. “Three people show up and one of them’s a music journalist! Jammy bastard! What are the chances of that?” Quite high, actually. It’s what we do. As keen metal fans here at How NOT To Write About Music, we posted this report a couple of days ago – but no one paid attention. So here it is again: whether the band is ‘real’ or not is not of importance to us here at How NOT To Write About Music. To us, they were real when they played. What is far more important is the question: does the band rock? And trust us, like you’ve never trusted a music critic before: this band… well, read for yourselves.

ADDENDA: Apologies for the shortness of the review, but we did not realise that the show would become as notorious as it has. Also, if anyone wants to reprint this review, please can they send us money first?

THREATIN
Camden Underworld, November 1, 2018
Poodle rock and hair metal are two distinct genres, and ones not easy to master either. Singer and guitar god Jared Threatin smartly keeps a foot in both camps: the mysterious atmosphere of classic poodle rock bands such as Quiet Riot, The London Suede and Twisted Sister, and the more emotional nature of hair metal (Triumph, The Auteurs, Whitesnake), but without the self-pitying melodies of the latter. So it is of considerable disappointment to me that when i show up at the venue there are less punters than it costs to buy a pint of beer (in pounds). Surely, a band with this much of a YouTube following should be able to find fans, even in such a notoriously un-rockin’ spot as Camden? But no: when the band ask us “London, are you ready to rock” the only sound that can be heard is that of my colleague’s cellphone as he taps in “get me OUT of here!”. A shame, because it is the band’s ability to alternate in this way that keeps poodle rock delivered alive, with all the technique and structure that makes songs like the classic ‘Living Is Dying’ so distinctive and expressive.

A really good band, but not much atmosphere. 7/10

How NOT to write about music – 27. Television Personalities

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I am playing a show in London on Thursday, a benefit for Dan Treacy – the singer of Television Personalities. Dan is not well, has not been well for a long time.

I am feeling nervous about it. There are a lot of uncertainties involved. These days I prefer (wrong word) to sit in my house in Haywards Heath and mindlessly play basic computer games on my iPhone. I do not speak to people outside of my work, and my children. I do not go out to shows (although in recent months I have attempted to book myself into some speaking engagements and gigs, in an attempt to break this cycle). I do not go out to the cinema, to the pub, for meals. Sometimes I will watch old tv shows – Bewitched, The Simpsons, Sabrina The Teenage Witch – and the (very) occasional Jacques Tati film. Let the others who want to struggle, struggle. I would not say I am content or happy in my isolation, in my self-enforced loneliness – far from it – but I seem to be haunted by demons. Regret, perhaps. The state of not knowing. A near-suffocating sense of loss. Depression, if you want to call it that – although the past few months, teaching at BIMM London, have been both excellent and fun, if you can remove the ridiculous four hours daily travel. Tired, I cannot pity myself. I suffocate gently in my sleep.

I am feeling very nervous about it. Not because I feel I will be unable to perform…

That is not the reason. Far as that goes, I am performing as strongly as I have for years: crucially, I COULD NOT GIVE A FUCK whether anyone else thinks this music holds value or not. I know it does, and enough people I value (from Stephen Pastel and John Robb onwards) think that it does for me not to care. Indeed, I sometimes find myself humbled at the people who think my music holds value. Live, I understand the importance of space, of architecture, of the audience. I have been incorporating Television Personalities songs within my set for years, particularly ‘Happy All The Time’. Unpopular released a 7″ of two of my live renditions several years ago now. I contributed a song or two to Television Personalities tribute albums, one featuring my four-year-old son Isaac. I have enough confidence remaining as a performer (as The Legend!, as Everett True) to be able to fall back on silence, on spoken word, on old gospel or music hall songs, on improvised profanity, whatever it takes.

My performance is not the reason.

Here is the deal. I have  – both deliberately and undeliberately (alcohol blackouts) – engaged in a process of wiping the past from my mind throughout my life. I do not know when this process started. Perhaps it was a result of being bullied relentlessly at Junior School for four years, turning my innocence and hope and happiness into fear. Maybe it was a result of too many asshole drunken outings, or an overload of information and stimulus and good times: betraying my own ideals before I even knew what they were. Two weeks ago, I broke one of my great taboos. I got back in touch with an old friend – someone I haven’t spoken to for at least 30 years. I did so, partly because I am so fed up of not having friends, or at least friends I can speak to – I did so partly because I am fed up of friends dying before I get back in touch. I did so, partly because I am lonely. I do so, mainly because… Dan sang it best, with Television Personalities.

I am still looking for a sense of belonging.

I have been aware for as long as I can recall that music has provided me with a sense of belonging, a sense of community and sharing, give and take. And if that no longer exists then surely that is my fault and no more and no less than I deserve. Music scorns me like a former lover. Back when I knew Alan McGee and Dan Treacy in the early 1980s the music provided a palpable sense of belonging, clubs like (Alan’s) Living Room at the Adams Arms and (Dan and Emily’s) Room At The Top (Chalk Farm Enterprise) providing a living community of outsiders, bloaters, the braggarts and the bullies, the shy and the emotional, the Sixties obsessed guitar freaks and the psychedelic losers. Alan gave me Dan, Dan gave me Marine Girls and so much inspiration in his own personal, heart-torn songs – no separation between performance and performer, much as Dan attempted to insert some. Amazing fucking pop songs.

Songs that you can play with just the bare rudiments of musical knowledge, songs you can sing without even any backing at all.

I’m not sure I have ever paid the due respect I should have to Dan. I think this is mostly because I have been in hiding from my past for – what – 30, 40, 50 years now? This failed retreat didn’t just start when Kurt killed himself. Dan was the primary inspiration for all of us back then – and by that I mean Alan primarily, but everyone else just followed what Alan did. (Obviously, we had our own individual influences and inspirations, but I am talking about the community here.) We recorded the first Creation single at the old TVPs’ studio in West London, quite deliberately. I recall feeling angry that we only managed to record and mix 10 song in four hours; it felt like we’d been slacking. Dan, so clumsy and shy and beautiful and funny, mixing in wry humour with painful awareness with always the gorgeous poptones. The last time I ever saw him perform – Brighton, mid 2000s – I had to walk out, it was too painful. Everyone was laughing at the funny drunk fucked-up man. It wasn’t funny. It really wasn’t funny.

I can’t speak for Charlotte, but I know who I named our second son Daniel Thackray after – Dan Treacy and Daniel Johnston, the two greatest male poets it has been my privilege to know.

—————————————————-

Melody Maker 30th April 1994

SINGLE OF THE WEEK
TELEVISION PERSONALITIES
Far Away & Lost In Joy (Vinyl Japan)
Television Personalities have been England’s great forgotten band for too long. The four songs’ concerns here are more of the usual : loss of friends, embarrassment, betrayal, lack of desire for life, fear, observation of a loved one from afar – sung with weary resignation over an endearingly clumsy, slightly numb, sweetly sad and slow backing. Pop music, I guess, but this music is truly magical.

I love the way everything Dan does sounds so unfinished, so human. I empathise directly with his voice, his phrasing, the way he stumbles when he should run… and what does music come down to in the end, if it ain’t empathy?
Everett True

How NOT to write about music – 26. Kristin Hersh

Kristin

I want to write about the new Kristin Hersh album Possible Dust Clouds but I am not sure my words are equal to it. Hers are:

“Sometimes the most subversive thing I can do musically is adhere to standard song structure, sometimes the creepiest chords are the ones we’ve heard before, twisted into different shapes, and sometimes a story is lived a thousand times before we can ride it like a roller coaster. Nothing wholly unfamiliar is gonna make you look twice. When you can describe a record as being ‘deceptively’ anything, you’re hinting at the sociopathic nature of music. Something I love. Imagine truly buying your own sunshine and charm, but also your darkness and violence; the two sides of your psychology showing each other off in relief. Songs can do that…we can’t, really. Darkness we’ve seen. Dark sunshine? Still cool.”

I want to write about the new Kristin Hersh album Possible Dust Clouds but it’s late at night, I have two children sleeping upstairs, the washing has reached its final cycle and soon-come sleep is painting a mist across my eyes. If I was on my sofa I’d be fighting off unconsciousness by now – and unsuccessfully.

I want to write about Kristin’s new album but the music keeps intruding, in a way music rarely – if ever – does when I am attempting to write about it. Full immersion. The way the music and guitar lollops and loops and curves, and throws off sunshine and charm (NB: stolen from press release), the way her voice sounds wise beyond understanding, the way a pink birthing ball is resting over there by the torn-out fireplace, the shallowness of my breathing, the tears splattered across my car’s windscreen… I find myself unequal to the task. She’s not:

“I usually play all the instruments on my solo records – essentially the sound of having no friends – but sociopaths can’t realize their potential without people to work out their grievances on and this record is a freakin’ sociopath. So I invited my friends to the party I wanted to hear. Not a live record but an alive record.”

I think the reason I do not listen to Kristin Hersh as often as I might (and file her away under “to be admired” rather than “to be loved”) is that her music, not needlessly and certainly not callously, reminds me so poignantly of my own shortcomings, the same way this is one of the greatest lyrics I have ever encountered

My diplomacy, my security, my hope and my ice-cream
My tomorrow and my temperature, my lips and my selfishness
My cigarette, my uncertainty, my penetration
My notebook and my limit, my importance and my glycerine
My customer, my function, my lawlessness, my charm
My hunger, my refusal, my tissue and my vodka
My ommission, my ability, my telephone and my holler
My relaxing, my distress, my bedroom, my cassette
My dictation and my pulse, my fortune and my death
My flake and my restlessness, my headache and my dirt
My paper and my charity, my rose and my pallor
My guess and my closet, my light ‘n’ my time
My worry, my perversity, my transgression
My temptation and my polythene, my gunshot
My jealousy and my water
My demands ‘n’ my angels ‘n’ my waiting ‘n’ my distance
My death, my curtness, my insulin, my memory
My partner ‘n’ my sadness, my story, my wantonness
My wish, my despair, my erasure, my plantation
My white chocolate, my thoughtlessness, my gracelessness
My courage and my crying, my pockets ‘n’ my mistakes
My body and my sex, my gaze and my helplessness
My letter, my sugar, my homework, my walk
My records, my smile and my struggle
My reflection, my eyelid, my fragility, my discretion
My hair, my austerity, my tattoo, my demise
My fooling and my terror, My problem and my judgement
Oh my disguise, my tongue
My ownership, my formula, my property, my thought, my razor
My blessing and my silence, my lust and my practise
My sincerity, my penicillin, my window and my androgyny
My mother, my recorder, my pity and my posing
My light, my carelessness, my drummer, my drummer, my drummer, my drummer
My tenderness ‘n’ my car, my undoing and my history
My bottle and my drugs, my drugs, my drugs
Tomorrow, my temperature, my lips and my selfishness
My cigarette, my uncertainty, my penetration, my notebook

And so forth.

This new album – her 10th studio album, it says here – is so full. So fucking full I cannot begin to muster the energy required to equal it with words (thereby failing RULE NUMBER ONE OF MUSIC JOURNALISM: always be more entertaining than the music you write about). Everything claimed for her former 4AD soulmates The Breeders, obv – but without the cosy familiarity that helps so often when confronted with casual genius, the intimate stranger. Brooding. Broody. Squalling. Squalled. Mysterious like Lyra Belacqua. I am just pleased that I am not the only one unable to measure up here.

Exhibit number one: the press release

Feedback and phasing gyrate from simply strummed normality, imagine Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine cranking up a Dylan couplet.

I love the simply strummed normality bit, but… you what? So much wrong contained within these final dozen words: devaluing the very artist they set out to praise by throwing in random selected assortments from indie rock’s rich canon (a canon that should NEVER be taken for granted, ALWAYS be questioned). Why not throw in Joy Division, Nirvana and The Beatles and be done with it? It’s a bit like saying Joni Mitchell is almost as good as Bob Dylan, with implicit gender preference thrown in. Kristin Hersh is an artist in her own right, easily the equal if not superior (if we MUST turn music into a competition) to the aforementioned… the comparisons are the wrong way around. She’s not Courtney Barnett, you know.

Hell, though. I understand the PR’s problem though. How to put Kristin into words that she hasn’t written herself? Let the lady speak:

“Because a lot of live records don’t sound live, just poorly recorded. And self-conscious musicians can’t let fly. I wanted to recreate the impact of a show. Unpretentious, with a muscular song body running through the room. This entailed seriously messing with both extremes of the sonic spectrum: the fundamentals (basics, rhythm section, roots) but also with the detail (percussion, high end, effects). These two strata asked to sound eccentric: atonal and arrhythmic. So when the song body runs through the room, it’s not wholly unfamiliar, just dressed oddly enough to make you look twice. Dark sunshine, still cool. Hopefully, anyway.”

She reminds me most of… ha. You ain’t gonna catch me like that. Let the lady speak:

“My friends helped me make a nice party noise, a goofy sociopath. Everyone who stopped by the studio was asked to make some noise and they pretty much did. A party that lasted for a few years, it’s only now dying down. A friend called this morning asking when the bus was leaving. A rickety, squealy, squeaky bus…none of us want to miss it.”

Peerless.

She still sounds better because she leaves much to your own imagination.

How NOT to write about music – 25. Salad

Salad The Selfishness of Love

I have long noticed the debilitating effect time and distance have upon my critical facilities.

A few years back, my resistance to 1980s soft rock finally crumbled and  – freed of the encumbrance of tribal allegiances, Mod style and distaste towards the male form (this is a lie) – I spent many a happy month wallowing in the sounds of Foreigner, Rainbow, Boston and Ellen Foley. I say ‘happy’ but as these months coincided with the start of the divorce process, you will have to imagine the myriad emotions associated with the description. Some could argue that my fondness for Nirvana’s Nevermind was rooted in a similar musical love but I ain’t having that. My fondness for Nirvana in the early 1990s was absolutely rooted in a sense of identity. There has been a gradual shifting and erosion of my identity in recent years, from one rooted in a more belligerent defensive template – witness the way I would get up on stage to swear floridly at strangers in the 1980s at a time when I could not even look friends in the eye – to one which is… I wouldn’t say comfortable (I have never been comfortable in my own skin) and I hotly deny any charges of ‘given up’ (to such an extent that I start to worry)… not so eager to defend lines that to all intents and purposes were imaginary in the first place.

There again, life itself is a construct.

Last night, I found myself enjoying the rasped R.E.M. sounds of Minneapolis’ Soul Ayslum over the closing credits of Clerks (another media that has accrued emotional pull for me over time). The debut Soul Ayslum album was OK I recall, being in thrall to the same thrall Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth and pals were in thrall to, but not by this point – surely?

Whatever.

I will even listen to Supertramp and Kate Bush these days.

So, Salad then. A band that passed me by, back in the early 1990s. Don’t think I disliked them, just didn’t notice them. There was too much other stuff going on. (Alcohol and blagging and self-pity, mostly.) Perhaps if they’d grown to be as big as Echobelly I would have ended up interviewing them, but… they occupied a similar place as Sleeper and… duh. No idea. Dubstar? If they’d lived in Brighton maybe we’d have been mates but they didn’t so we weren’t. Probably preferred Frantic Spiders but then, old territorial me would say that, wouldn’t he?

Not anymore. These days, it is highly possible I do not expose myself to even 5% of the music I once did (this alters my perceptions) but damn this new song sounds great. Sparky and nervous and full of slightly restrained energy and belting harmonies and a BIG CHORUS… if I had heard it without knowing the name, I’d have gone for it sure. A little bit Pulp perhaps. A little bit Aussie. Some menace, some beautiful grating guitar, not old and cantankerous even though that’s the way many of us turn, but alive and alert to the possibilities of love… goddamn it, meant to type life there but love makes more sense anyhow.

Where are we now? This is silly-good catchy. This is Elastica good. Also, it reminds me of my long-term Worthing sweethearts La Mômo… and that makes me happy. Don’t know why the following is only a short preview, but why the fuck not. First new stuff since 1997 apparently, but … uh … not that I’d know it. So catchy I wanna go back and listen to the old shit, see if I did miss something first time round.

I’m just happy to be here.