Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Now my moogs are in the loft (again)

After a flurry of activity when I re-launched the Saloon website as this blog, it has been fairly quiet on here for a while. The reason has really been because of too much musical activity in our lives rather than too little.

Matt and Alison’s projects go from strength to strength. Matt’s band The Leaf Library have released three albums in two years and Alison and her husband mark, as well as a flood of activity with The Left Outsides, have also a new band The Trimdon Grange Explosion. Make sure to look them up on social media.

I am going to talk about myself now though (Matt, Alison – as ever, do send me stuff and I will post it up).

It has been just over two years since I released the Rodney Cromwell album ‘Age of Anxiety’ on Happy Robots Records. When I last posted about it in April 2015, I was pretty downhearted. Although at that stage it had received some radio play I was struggling to get anyone to write about it. But, following its very slow start, with barely a tweet from anyone on the day it came out, the album ended up being surprisingly well received.

In the end I took on a press agent Shameless Promotion (PR) from Canada and between us we were able to get great coverage in NME, Huffington Post, the Electricity Club, Electronic Sounds Magazine, Record Collector, Louder Thank War, Impose Magazine, SoundsXP, Overblown and loads more. It also had a lot of ‘grassroots’ coverage and I ended up doing more interviews than I had ever done in my career. It was particularly great to get positive feedback from a few synth ‘legends’ with Mal Holmes from OMD saying nice words and Rusty Egan from Visage / Rich Kids saying great things and playing the record loads on his shows.

I also got a load of terrific radio play from the likes of Gideon Coe and Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music and on several shows on RNE3 in Spain. And it hasn’t stopped; the album and its singles are still getting constant play on specialist indie and synthpop shows and stations. I did a few radio sessions too – the highlight perhaps being a session with Julio Ruiz on RNE3 in Madrid. Julio previously interviewed Saloon back in 2002 when we played in Contempopranea Festival, so it was lovely to meet him again and play some songs on the show. 

If I posted links to all the radio sessions, interviews and reviews is would take me all day, but – if you care – all the links are available on the Happy Robots Records website

I also never thought I would play live again – in fact I sold much of my gear in 2014 at a boot fair. But by Summer 2015 I was playing my first shows for five years. Almost every gig we played was great. There were almost too many highlights to mention but clearly playing with the bands Marsheaux, Death and Vanilla, and Snookerstar DJ Steve Davis, plus the festivals Indietracks and Madrid Popfest, have to be near top of the list.  It was great organising another Happy Robots gig in November 2016 and really great that some of the old faces who used to come and watch Saloon came out to show their support.  The call of the Travelodge, terrible service stations and tiny back room venues will always be there for me. I can’t ever see that going away. 

It is impossible to thank everyone who has helped me out, but many thanks must go out to those who played in the heavily rotating Rodney Cromwell band over the last year and half – Adrian Taylor (from Controllers), Andrew Maley (from Real Experts) and Matt Saloon / Leaf Library all deserve a massive thank you! A slightly bigger thank you should also go out to Alice (Martha of Arthur & Martha fame plus Cosines, Mass Datura and more) and Richard Salt (also Controllers) who played the lion's-share of gigs. We spent many enjoyable hours in our rehearsal rooms talking about guitar pedals, synths and how shit Brexit is, as well as practicing occasionally. 

And to the point of this lengthy post, well after a most enjoyable trip to Spain, where Matt from Saloon joined us on guitar, I feel things have come full circle and I’ve achieved  all I wanted to accomplish in terms of promoting ‘Age of Anxiety’. It's time to put the synths back in the metaphorical loft and let my ears recover. It feels like a good time to think about future projects but also to spend a bit more time with my incredibly supportive wife Alison and our two kids, who have had to endure me being away for many weekends.

This is not to say there won’t be any gigs or releases in the future. Rod Cromwell will be appearing on a couple of great compilations soon, and in terms of gigs I am always up for offers. I just won’t be actively looking for opportunities. I do hope to play at least one more London gig in 2017 (and you know where I am if you need me.)

But I want to spend a bit more time with the family while concentrating on the label, probably arguing with strangers about politics on twitter and, maybe even, writing some new songs.  I also have a couple of great new releases out this year on Happy Robots Records, so do stick with us, follow us on Facebook and sign up to the Happy Robots Mailng List if you haven’t done so already.

Right – off to write that new album I keep promising you.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Rodney Cromwell's Post Truth Pop Party

Up at the moment on Stereo Embers website, Rodney Cromwell (aka Adam Saloon) lists his top 48 songs of the year as his 'Post-Truth Pop Party.

For your audio delight, here is a link to the Spotify playlist and what Adam has to say about the mix...

Despite it having being a miserable year for many in terms of the global political arena with the ascendancy of post-truth politics, there have still been some decent records released in 2016 to cheer us up. This mix is my attempt to soundtrack the spirit of 2016 through those new releases – it is no coincidence that it includes songs with titles such as ‘Play with Lies’ and ‘The Dictator Decides’ and that the mix is 48 tracks long.

There have been some decent synthpop and electronica songs from the likes of Computer Magic, Train to Spain, Hannah Peel, Porches, Hologram Teen to name a few, with also the release of my favourite Pet Shop Boys album in years. Many of my most-loved tracks of 2016 have though come from the psychedelic and krautrock tradition: my three favourite gigs being by Vanishing Twin, Camera and Cavern of Anti-Matter, all of whom feature here in one way or another. There have been a load of great re-issues this year too, my favourite being ‘Venezuela 70: Cosmic Visions of a Latin American Earth’ an album of Venezuelan experimental rock from the 1970s. Admittedly, it is probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

In this age of anxiety and political hypertension, the dark electronica of Pye Corner Audio, Vile Electrodes, Essaie Pas, the Stranger Things soundtrack and the epic ‘Sphynx’ by La Femme seem the perfect soundtrack. However, to stop the party getting too dark, I try to pull it back with some lighter and more uplifting pop by the likes of RĂ©mi Parson, Belbury Poly and a certain Mr Rodney Cromwell.

It wouldn’t be 2016 without a bit of narcissism thrown into the post-factual bubbling pot now, would it!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Somewhere in Europe

The world seems to be in a pretty miserable place right now. Here is something that may cheer up some of you Saloon fans.

Found it on a video tape labelled simply 'Somewhere in Europe' and now uploaded to YouTube, a full Saloon live set. It's the band playing in Paris at The Guinette Pirate. Not entirely sure when as we played there at least three times,  I think this was probably us playing on 14/04/02 where with Satan’s Fingers (who featured members of Herman Dune). Pretty sure we headlined. The video and the sound are a bit out of synch, and I think two of the songs I've posted onto YouTube before, but hey, it gives a great flavour of the band at the time. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

New album by The Leaf Library: Versions

Matt's band The Leaf Library have a new album out soon, made up of remixes of tracks from 'Daylight Versions' by some absolutely terrific artists. I probably won't be able to do the description justice, so here is the press release in full...

The Leaf Library are pleased to announce Versions, an album of remixes by various artists including Cavern of Anti-Matter (Tim Gane from Stereolab), Isnaj Dui (Katie English of Littlebow), Greeen Linez, Far Rainbow (Robert Barry), and A New Line(Related) and The Declining Winter (Hood alumni Andrew Johnson and Richard Adams, respectively) amongst many others.

The remixes are all based on tracks taken from The Leaf Library’s acclaimed 2015 album Daylight Versions and will be released as a download and a limited edition CD. Each CD will feature handmade artwork by a different artist or writer, acting as a remix of the original artwork.

The ten tracks twist the original’s melancholy seaside drones into new and further out-there shapes. Cavern of Anti-Matter turn the droning flood epic Acre into a skipping, bright trip along the autobahn towards Harmonia’s forest retreat, whilst Greeen Linez (Matt ‘A Taut Line’ Line, and Chris Greenberg from Hong Kong in the 60s) shift Slow Spring into a Balearic, two stepping gem.

Two ex-members of cult Domino band Hood provide their own takes, with A New Line (Related) bringing a gauzy club throb to Evening Gather’s shimmering drift, and The Declining Winter (with Chris Tenz) adding speaker-busting dub weight to Slow Spring. Far Rainbow and Isnaj Dui both bring the droning and textured best out of Evening Gathers and Acre, respectively.

Other remixers include Deerful, Firestations, Bit Cloudy and Pilgrm.

Pre-order the album here:

Definitely worth a trip to bandcamp methinks. Loon fans, make sure to pick you your copy soon!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Interview for Hybrid Magazine (October 2000)

While clearing out my computer I found this Saloon interview with Hybrid Magazine from the States from way-back in October 2000 before we recorded the first album. It doesn't seem to be on the web any more so I thought I would post it here. Enjoy, as they say.

1. How long has saloon been around?

Amanda: We’ve been together for about two and a half years now, which is quite a long time for five people to stay together when you think about it. We've known each other for so long it seems weird looking back on the early days when we were all so different (some of us were a lot shier then!). Yet, as a band we haven't really changed that much at all. Although our musical tastes and influences have developed, our jobs, hobbies, friends and where we live have changed; we have never lost the reason why we are in the band or why we enjoy making- music together. That's my excuse for making an absolute racket anyway!

Ubiquitous Moog

2. How did you guys form, meet up, start the band?

Amanda: The idea for the band was born in late 1997, but the line up wasn't officially completed until early 1998. Originally, Adam and Mike had the idea to start a band. They knew of Alison who was playing viola in another band and did a bit of what Adam calls "inspired poaching"! They advertised for a female singer (having as many girls in the band as possible was definitely their main priority!), And this is how I met them. Matt joined a couple of months later, similarly through an advert. We did our first gig a month or so after Matt joined and we haven't stopped since.

Adam: One of the things I’m most proud of is that our sound arrived fully formed and we’ve literally just been nurturing and feeding it. I’d written a handful of songs that were too good to play in my old band, so Mike and myself put together a group that could do them justice. Some of those songs like “Spacer” and “I am the cheese” we still play now.

Matt: I stumbled in one day with my guitar, unable to play a note, but pretty handy with a bit of feedback. I got the job.

3. I hear Stereolab, Velvet Underground and Tindersticks in your singles, what are the actual influences that produced your sound?

Adam: Well we like all three of those bands, we’ve played with Stereolab which was great because we definitely share the same sort of audience. In fact live we must even look quite a bit like them (girls, guitars, moogs) although according to one magazine we look like The Corrs!

I have a really fond memories of us in our first year sitting around the kitchen table with a bottle of red wine listening to the likes of Etienne deCrecy, Spiritualized, Fairport Convention, Graham Coxon while stuffing envelopes. I think evenings like that, listening to loads of different music, really helped to give us our voice.

Matt: All of the above and more. Adam’s choice proves that we’re influenced in equal parts by electronic and guitar music. Most of it resides in the leftfield, my influences at the moment include stuff like Tarwater, Plaid, Yo La Tengo, DJ Shadow and Broadcast.

4. What's a typical audience at one of your shows?

Adam: Sad old men, weedy indie boys, shy indie girls with plastic hair-clips. People like us really.

Mike: A few of my mates who’ve come straight from work propping up the bar and heckling.

Matt: People on the fringes of music (and good taste).

5. How helpful is it to be played on John Peel's show?

Amanda: We've been very lucky because John has now played three (or is it four?) of our singles. It's a dream come true actually. It really gives me confidence that all the hard work does eventually pay off sometimes and that people are finally able to hear our records. It is a brilliant way of getting your music heard by people who are on the same wavelength as us. It's a great way of attracting attention and gaining fans (we have had lovely responses from people all over, even in America who heard the songs via the Internet). Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have the same effect on the industry as it has on the fans.

Matt: It’s really fantastic and it gives us loads of confidence. When I was at college I used to tape the John Peel show each night and listen to each tape for weeks after. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of bands that I’ve got into through his show, and if someone gets into Saloon in the same way then that’s amazing.

6. Has the Internet benefited the band at all?

Mike: We set up virtually all of our tour with Mahogany and Curtis Newton on e-mail, we met Alan (Bearos) through the web, and we’ve been visited in the UK by Dan from Germany who met me on the Broadcast website, and has recently set up a Saloon chatroom for other fans.

Matt: It’s easier to have an argument via email than on the telephone. There are generally less recriminations.

Adam: Email is a godsend. It means I don’t have to talk to anyone all day. Fantastic!

7. Is Saloon destined for stardom?

Adam: It’s strange because occasionally now we get recognised, people shouting at us on the tube or coming up to us at gigs. I think our music has got quite a crossover appeal; indie kids like it, some dance fans like it (probably because it’s electronic with no pretence at being indie-dance urgh!) Because 90% of the stuff has got a good pop tune that you can sing in the shower, I’m sure there is more appeal for the man on the street than say Add N to (X) or Spiritualized (i.e. the stuff we listen to when we go home.

But stardom is not our aim, we’re too proud of our integrity. At the moment we’re into making pop music but if the urge arises to make something in another form – say a double album of feedback and ringing power-drill noises- then we will and we could still call it a Saloon record. Despite how hard-working and reliable we are, it would have to be a brave record label to sign us but I know we’ve more than enough faith and ambition to make it worth their while.

8. Are there any plans for a debut album?

Amanda: Plans for the album are currently in the pipeline. I think that we are hoping to have a finished recording in about six months time. We are negotiating with Andrew from Mahogany about helping to produce it with us, which would be great fun. But we are very eager and very inspired to get something done, it is merely a matter of sorting out studios etc

Mike: It’s going to happen.

9. Are you a better live band or studio band?

Amanda: I think that our music has developed so that it does work very well live. We do have the usual and occasional problems that every band experiences, such as bad sound, bad engineers, quiet vocals and loud guitars, but as far as performance goes we gel a lot better when we are on stage together. We are getting better, but in the past we have found the studio more of a challenge, probably because we have more experience on the stage than in the studio. That is not to say that we have given up on recording though. It is very important to us. Playing live is great fun, but the best way of getting yourself heard is getting your records out there. The album is definitely of precedence to us all and we are all determined to crack the recording process.

Mike: I think we’re a better rehearsing band.

10. Any last thoughts for the interview

Mike: Look after yourselves, and each other.

Matt: If you see a new band, or hear a new band then buy one of their records, email them, let them know that you’re into them. This is the way that unique and individual music survives.

Adam: You only live once, so make it worth your while. It’s human nature for someone to fuck you over for their own gain, just keep your head down, stay resolute, keep pushing at it and your time will come. Most importantly, get an alarm clock.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Winter Light

It has been many months since I last posted on here, not because of how quiet things have been, but because we have all been so busy. 2015 has been a great year for ex-members of Saloon, with Alison, Matt and myself all having released well received records this year.

But any success is always tempered by a degree of sadness, as we think about the friends and family we have loved and lost on our travels; none more so than at this time in November, when we remember Mike and his wife Sara who are no longer with us.

A few weeks ago Paul from Track and Field sent me a copy of a letter from his archives. It was the letter that Mike sent to Track and Field as an introduction to Saloon; at the time we badly wanted to play their club because it was so damned cool and we were sick of playing terrible gigs every time we came to London. Little did we know that Track and Field had already seen us when we supported Stereolab and couldn’t really see the point in Saloon. Still, the letter must have made a difference, as within the next few years we went on to play countless Track and Field shows and release three albums with them. Anyway here is the letter for you to enjoy. 

Missing you Smoughts!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Recording Artist Rod Cromwell

 Other Projects

It has been a busy few weeks. My new album has been out for over a month now and I have still not officially announced the release on here. I tried writing a lengthy blog post about it, but just can't find the time to finish it, so here is the quick version.

So you know, the album is out in the shops, called RODNEY CROMWELL 'Age of Anxiety' released on the Happy Robots label on CD and digitally:

The limited CD is distributed by Cargo Records
Also download on iTunes
Buy direct and receive bonus goodies:

It has been favourably compared to early-OMD, Giorgio Moroder and Krafwerk (I think in terms of its sound rather than its cultural impact). The record has had really good airplay, with plays on the Gideon Coe show on BBC 6 Music, multiple plays on several Radio 3 in Spain and on loads of synthpop shows and other radio shows (all of whom I will thank again properly at a later date). Oh and somehow two songs are on heavy rotation on Croydon FM. So muchos respect there.  

Thanks to everyone who has played, bought and said nice things about it. It has been very much appreciated! I will write some more about it I'm sure. Oh and feel free to follow Happy Robots on the Facebook. You can hear it on Spotify too, although obviously we would prefer you to buy it.

What else to report:

Alison's band 'The Left Outsides' have a new album 'The Shape of Things to Come' out on 8th May which itself is getting some great airplay. Follow all their news too on Facebook. I've not heard it yet but I'm sure it will be really good.

Indietracks 2015
Matt I know is in the studio at the moment with The Leaf Library working on their new album. And both The Leaf Library and Rodney Cromwell will be appearing at the Indietracks festival this 24-26th

July.  It's the first announced gig for Rodney Cromwell so many thanks in advance to Indietracks for taking a punt and booking me.

On the Saloon front, I've renewed the Soundcloud subscription so all the old stuff is available again. Gideon Coe played two songs from the first Peel Session last night (that is the 16th April 2015). Gideon has played that session several times so many thanks for that Gid.

Lastly I've been emailing a chap James who was in the band Postalowa who we played with once in Norwich. As well as having a great Mixcloud show Tall Ships Radio Club, he has a band Broads who Saloon fans may be interested in. Our chat also enabled me to find the details on the 2003 gig in Norfolk which I've added to the Saloon timeline. As keeper of the archives and master of the data this stuff matters OK.