What you're about to read is a perfect journalistic example of everything going wrong, but turning out alright in the end. This could so easily have turned out to be a pretty non-existent interview. As you may have gathered if you have read some of my previous articles, I don't always have the best of luck when it comes to getting an interview underway, but this probably has to be the worst ey.

God bless those fantastic people who run the Kent trains and the London tube systems (I'm not going mention any company names), who made getting to the Betsey Trotwood an absolute nightmare for me. Train strikes at certain stations made it harder to get to London in the first place. That was easily overcome, however, and, as I went to get on the tube, I thought things might turn out alright after all (For people who don't know London very well, this next bit might be confusing, sorry).

The tube journey to Farringdon is quite a simple one, so I thought I'd get to the record release party for Jonson Family's 'Twominutemen 2' compilation in good time. As we got to Liverpool Street, however, the train stopped and everyone was told that the next four stops (including Farringdon) were closed and that everyone had to get off the train, but there would be Rail replacement buses outside the station. Fair enough, I thought, although it would have been be nice if they had mentioned that before I got on the tube.

Outside the station, there were no rail replacement buses. Instead, there was a little sign with an arrow on it telling people where to go. After following some more signs and talking to a few rail workers who were telling people which direction they were supposed to go, I got to the tube stop before Liverpool Street, where the buses were supposedly running from. I tried not to let it bother me.

After a while, it became apparent that there was no replacement buses stopping and taking people to where they needed to go, so I found a bunch of bus stops and jumped on every bus until one was going in vaguely the right direction. One driver told me that his bus was going to Kings Cross station,and that I could get a bus to Farringdon from there, so I got to Kings Cross. After about a half an hour's wait, a bus to Farringdon finally turned up. Finally, I thought to myself, things were looking up.

Getting to Farringdon though, I felt kind of unsure where anything was, because I'm used to finding the Betsey Trotwood from the tube station. After walking about 15 minutes in the wrong direction, I turned back and walked back to the bus stop, only to find that the Betsey Trotwood was about 20 minutes walk away in the other direction. Whoops. By the time I got there, I was exhausted, frustrated, and I had missed the first two bands on the bill.

The one that I was particularly gutted about missing was Lo-fi Sucks, who I was there to interview. Lo-fi Sucks are a very good band. Their latest release, 'Temporary Burn Out', on Italy's fantastic Suiteside label, is all post-rock with beautiful melodies and 60's folk-esque arrangements.

The band, Doc, Madtp, Monsieur Buzzi and Mauro (not actually their real names, with perhaps the exception of Mauro) were in high spirits after their short set in the cramped stage area downstairs. At all the shows they had played in this brief tour, they had gone down very well with the British audiences.

After two false starts, the interview commenced outside with Doc and Madtp. I would have been fine then if my Dictaphone hadn't chosen that precise moment to start playing up. Oh, well. The interview has seemed to come out okay in the end, by some small miracle. Enjoy.


PB : You've just recorded a track for the 'Two Minutemen' compilation. How did that come about?

Madtp : We had this melody written on an electric piano, and kept on playing it while we were rehearsing. It was all worked out from a specific melody. What we had made from it couldn't really become a very long song, so it has ended up being the shortest thing we've ever written.

Doc : I added the lyrics afterwards, just to try and make it seem more like a proper song.

Madtp : It ended up on the compilation because we're friends with Stanton and the people at Jonson Family (the record label for the compilation). They had an Italian band, Perturbazione, on the first compilation, and they wanted another Italian band on the new one, so they asked us!

PB : Was it difficult to keep the song at about two minutes long?

Madtp : Actually no, it just grew up into being about two minutes long from that original melody. We had a bass-line sampled from a while back that we used.

Doc : Yeah, we had this very old sample from about two or three years ago which we used for the intro and the outro of the track, and..

(We notice the tape is stopping and starting up again)

PB : Oh for fuck's sake! Whats wrong with this thing?!

Madtp : It seems to go for a little while and then stops and starts up again.

Doc : Yeah, it stops and starts. Kind of Steve Albini produced, this tape! Anyway, I have a daughter who was born in December, and I wrote some lyrics about her, and when we were mixing the track, we had a look at the time it stopped at. It was like 1:59 point something, so it was perfect for the compilation.

PB : Coming over here and doing these shows and appearing on a reasonably high profile compilation, has it got the band more attention here in Britain? Do you think your music will be more widely recognised once the compilation has been out for a bit?

Doc : Oh yeah !

Madtp : We're working on it!

Doc : We're definitely trying. Maybe we could've come over here and done this before, but with the last record we made, it has just become so much easier. Mainly because our label, Suiteside, has been so great to us, like a week after our record was released, just a week after, we were playing live on MTV (Italy), and that meant something to us. They took a chance with us when others wouldn't.

Madtp : I think it's stopped running again.

PB : (Sighs) I'll see if I can sort it out.

Doc : Looks like it's going now.

Madtp : Yeah, it seems a bit more lively.

PB : Where were we?

Madtp : Recognition and stuff like that.

PB : Oh yeah, recognition! Have you had much positive feedback while you've been over here so far?

Doc : Yeah, especially in Derby. The first night we were here we did a session for a radio station in Milton Keynes, on Wednesday, which was broadcast yesterday. We played in Derby the first night and got a really warm response, and we sold records, so we were like "yeah!". It made us feel a lot more confident for the next dates.

Madtpm : We were a bit scared at first because we're Italians singing in English, and it was like going somewhere where no-one really knows who you are, so it was worrying thinking that we'd come over here and people would hate us. We did have great responses from the audiences, so we're really happy about it.

Doc : I guess that English and American people can listen to us and hear their stuff, doing something that is like their music, which is partly true because we grew up listening to English and American music rather than Italian music.

There are a lot of bands in Italy who're like that. They have kind of specific role models from British and American music, so it seems better for us to sing in English rather than Italian, and I think it's easier for a band to appeal internationally if they sing in English. I mean, you do get some English people that come up to you and say "Why don't you sing in Italian?" but for me, it wouldn't be right, because rock n roll doesn't seem right without English singing. It is a part of what rock n roll music is supposed to be. You sing different things in Italian. But you're always a bit nervous when you come to a new place, but I think we've made an impact on people at these shows, and we've enjoyed it.

PB : You all seem to be multi-instrumentalists, all playing guitar, piano,bass, organ, accordion, and so on. How do you go about choosing what instruments you're going to use for different songs? Do you try things out on different instruments, or do you just pick up a nearby instrument and play?

Doc : Well the last one was planned over a long period of time (Laughs out loud).

Madtp : What?

PB : I just found out I've been sitting in chewing gum the whole time. Shit.

Doc : I'd better check, my seat, actually. No I'm okay.

PB : Just keep going while I try to get it off.

Doc : The album was planned over a long time. Me and Buzzi wrote all the songs over a period of about a year and a half. He had just joined the band when we started writing those songs.

There was a period of a few months around that time when I thought that Lo-fi Sucks was no more, but then he started doing a few songs at home and arranging them on his PC, and he came to me and said "Have a listen to this, see what you think" and, after listening to that I opened my eyes and started thinking 'Yeah! Lo-fi Sucks is still alive!' and gradually, we were coming up with more and more new songs until we had about 15-20 songs to choose from. I think it was 20, and so there was time to rehearse some of them and play them live, and to work out what instruments could be used on certain parts.

We had time to do that, and when he came in, he brought with him this little xylophone, and we used that live and got a good response from audiences, so we kept it, and he started playing organ and other things.

PB : Lo-fi Sucks is obviously an ironic name.

Doc : Yeah it is, and I'm sorry about it, it's my fault!

PB : How did you come up with that name?

Doc : When you're in Italy, it's just a name, but you come to Britain and people start thinking about it! I wrote it down on a note pad once. I think that was around '94, and then I found it about a year later and thought "This'll be the name of my new band!" and I started doing an album on my own, recording into a multi-track tape recorder. It probably had some kind of meaning back then, but I have no idea what it is now. It's like I'm not really accustomed to my own name. I don't like using it, but it's the name that my father and mother gave me, so I just go along with it.

PB : Speaking of names, obviously Doc isn't your real name. Everyone in the band has a pseudonym. Where did you get the idea to assume different names, and where did all your band names come from?

Doc : Well, my nickname is Doc because I'm a doctor, actually (Laughs) !

PB : Fair enough!

Madtp : The bass player's name is just a play on his surname, and my name's just a joke way of writing my name, Matteo, from years ago, using different letters to spell it. I used to use it when I played soccer. I had it on my soccer shirt, and, when I joined the band, I kept it.

Doc : It sounds silly, but it's a lot easier when you come to the UK to say "Hi, I'm Doc", rather than saying "Hi, I'm Pierpaolo" which is much more difficult to remember.

PB : The track 'Me and Nick Drake', is that supposed to be taken as a tribute to Nick Drake?

Doc : No, it wasn't really meant to be taken as a tribute. It's an old song, written about ten years ago. It was a dream that I had, and the next day I tried to remember the dream in my lyrics to this song, and probably the music was kind of Nick Drake influenced, because I'd only just started getting into his music.

At the time it was just guitar and noise, and when we were doing the record, I re-vamped it and "Why don't do this song for the record, with a noisy coda", and probably Nick Drake is one of our influences. I can hear his influence in 'Disappeared' more than I can on 'Me and Nick Drake', but name-checking isn't something that we set out to do intentionally, not just to let everyone know our influences. It's like the track, 'He Played Steve Shelley's Kit', the night before Buzzi wrote the song, he (madtp) played this gig.

Madtp : Yeah, I'm in this band called Cary Quant, and we played a gig with Two Dollar Guitar, Steve Shelley's other band (Steve Shelley is Sonic Youth's drummer, for those of you that didn't know) and we borrowed his drum kit, because the stage was too small to use ours, and he let us use everything, and it was such a great honour. He's such a great person, so it was like some kind of too good to be true. The LFS bass player, he was kind of jealous, because we'd played with one of our heroes, and we got to use all his gear.

Doc :And the next day, Buzzi came to me and said I called this one 'He played Steve Shelley's Kit' and I said "He? He who?" and he said "His Drummer", so I said, "Oh yeah. Nice title!". Sometimes things happen by chance and you re-connect things later.

PB : Suiteside seems to have kind of a community or a music scene kind of feel to it. I was talking to Giulio of the Candies, who are also on Suiteside about it. Is that true?

Madtp : Yeah, I mean me and Giulio have been friends for about 5 years now,and I think that Monica's (Messailino, Suiteside's manager) just so good to us that you kind of feel obliged to help her out in some way, so we all help each other out even though we all live in different parts of Italy, and so we are always helping out at gigs and other things.

I actually first met Monica as manager of Rollercoaster, the first band to be signed to Suiteside, and I knew when she offered to release an album. I knew straight away that she would do great things for the band, and she phoned me ten times a day to do the gigs so I was sure she'd do the same for us.

Doc : And she did.

Madtp : So we were very happy to join the label. And we don't have any kind of jealous thing going on with bands on the label> I mean we're all very different bands, we can all kind of be lumped into the post-rock/post-punk thing, but we're more song-writing, while the Candies are more punk rock, and the Juniper Band are more like Motorpsycho, and stuff like that.

Doc : There's a new band just joined the label too, called Laundrette. They' re a very good band.

Madtp : So, we're all in our place and there's no conflict between any of us. Wwhen we have the chance for all the bands to play together, it's like a group of friends meeting for a party, and that's the difference between Suiteside and other labels in Italy, not mentioning any names (Laughs).

PB : It is a great label. Everything I've heard has been absolutely brilliant.

Madtp : You'll love Laundrette and maybe the next one too. Laundrette for sure.

Doc : Yeah, we did a little A and R listening to different bands and Monica was going "Should I sign these ?" and we're going, 'Yeah, go for it!' so, Laundrette, you're in. Because of us.

Madtp : The Candies are in as well, because of us. Giulio, remember this every day of the rest of your life. Be thankful!

Doc : We were deciding the track order for their record while we were touring. Then of course, he did it his own way, which is the right way.

PB : When's Joeyfat on?

Madtp : Were they the second band on?

Doc : No, that was Grover.

Madtp : So they'd be the band after, so they'd be coming on about now.

PB : Think it's about time to wrap up this interview then! Thanks for your time.













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