Artist Spotlight with Seb of Jolly Bearded Promotions

Introducing us to a world where childhood toys, war reportage and photography meet happily in one project, Seb Akehurst takes us on a journey through some of his fascinating collection of work, including a diversion into music and culture…

‘Hello, I’m Sebastian K Akehurst, otherwise known as ‘Jolly Bearded’. I am currently based in Armagh, Northern Ireland (NI), having returned back from Glasgow after three years and am a graduate in Interactive Media Arts from the University of Ulster, Coleraine (2014). Picking up the camera in the final year after studying photography theory, I decided to focus on War Photography and Toy Photography for my dissertation. I created scenes in black and white of D-Day (WWII) and colour work of the Vietnam War and Middle East conflicts.

Now I can only assume you’re asking yourself, ‘Wait! war and toys? Seb, you are going to have to explain this!’ Don’t worry, I intend to explain my development into this world of toys. I will also detail some of my steps into music events photography.

Originally, I had depicted the NI conflict through toys, as part of another undergraduate project. I saw this concept had potential. I began to see it turn some heads in interest, which I saw as a good start!

During my research, I began to question the integrity of early war photographers and photographs taken by Roger Fenton (1819-69), Mathew Brady (1822-96) and Robert Capa (1913-54). As it came to be known, they were hired for one main duty, to capture ‘good war effort’. In turn, this was used as propaganda back home. This questioned, my thoughts came to how I would wish to restage this. The reasoning for the use of toys became more logical. Any logic in photography can be given reason by the quote by Robert Capa, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. Stated by Stanley Leary who posted on explaining this phrase, “He was telling us to physically get closer – to become more involved and intimate with our subjects”. Originally about capturing conflict, I used this approach in capturing my toy created conflicts. I came to realise this approach would have connections to play in childhood, in other words building a narrative in and about playtime.

Top: Incoming
Bottom: Suspicion

The criteria of this project – I had to show a few examples of the use of toys in photography. To my joy, Brian McCarty’s work captivated me, especially his ongoing project War-Toys. At the time, Brian used drawings constructed by children who had suffered traumas in Middle Eastern conflict zones: Israel, West Bank and The Gaza Strip to name a few. What amazed me was the use of real-time environments in his photographs, in which are these conflicts zones. I can highly recommend you check out his fantastic work over at

Obviously from writing and researching my projects, I took up other mediums to help my work. Taking my criteria to flow, this was in studying classic war movies: Platoon (1986), Black Hawk Down (2001), We Were Soldiers (2002) to one of my favourites, Apocalypse Now (1979). When watching these films I took note of environments and particular traits in the conflicts. When taking and editing these photographs, I also took to finding particular music and soundtracks that would assist the creative process. For the lead to my project, I found music was to be some of the first influence on my work. My project entitled Stray Bullets (2011) was taken from a song written by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman.

Breakdown of image – Wounds

In this instance, my image Wounds – based on the conflict of Vietnam. I took this image and it gave me an impression of the covers of the LIFE magazine. One cover in particular, dated back to November 26th 1965, carried the text ‘The Blunt Reality of War in Vietnam’ accompanied by an image of a Viet Cong held prisoner. Accompanied by text this image gives a feeling of remorse to the viewer, yet maybe at the time of this conflict a different feeling. The environment I saw as a monsoon flooded jungle when, in fact, it was a building site at the end of my road. In connecting this to childhood, the toy used is the popular ‘Action Man’ which is my own from the younger days, although for this he had been given a darker storyline.


I took to the camera again, but chose to follow an interest in live music photography. Realising my interest, why not document in the music sector? I used digital media to build an online presence and my ‘can-do attitude’ to just start meeting people to get my name out there. Using my connection in the media sphere I found someone to assist in the logo design and able to make a purchase within the industry, these pieces of merchandise can be found through my early posts on Facebook & Instagram.

I had managed to make a small name for myself, from working locally and further afield in NI, so taking this motto ‘support of artists’ to a whole new level, I decided to move to Glasgow, Scotland. Initially I was only planning on being out for around five months; safe to say this rapidly changed. Much like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, I found myself going down a rabbit hole. I found I would be moving through diverse genres of music and creative individuals. Yes, you are correct to assume I have a lot I could say, I had some memorable shows and places I ended up.

Awkward Family Portraits

Zenga the Titan

One of the major connections I had made was with the New Hellfire Club, Glasgow. Writers and creatives who had established themselves in the music scene of Glasgow built a broad fanbase within this scene. After introducing myself to the guys shortly after moving over, I had been adopted into their family, joining them at their record shop, gigs and other events. Now as time went on, they themselves grew into working towards creating a venue which became known locally as The Ice Box Arts And Music Centre, situated in the Southside of Glasgow. This new venture was exciting to have been a part of as, within the first few months of opening, I managed to see and photograph some fantastic shows (check their gofundmepage).

Left: Kim Khaos
Right: Trongate Rum Riots

I could not mention Glasgow without mentioning some of the amazing venues; from connecting with different bands and artists I found myself in some memorable places. Within the walls of these venues, I have managed to witness and photograph some very talented artists from Glasgow and afar! These venues were King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Cottiers, Nice N Sleazy, The Hug and Pint, Stereo, Broadcast and Cathouse.

Top: Calum Ingram
Bottom left: Keli of Painting Rockets
Bottom right: The Virginmarys

End of summer 2017, I found myself in Edinburgh, where I had the honour to be part of the Fringe festival with a well-known company called 21 Theatre Company. This was my first venture up at the Fringe; being a part of it was thrilling. Whilst in the midst of working to a tight window of two days, I got to see and meet many people who were involved in the creation of these wonderful shows. Shows captured: All The Kings Men, The Blue Brothers Tribute, DOUZE, Trill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story and The Rat Pack.

Top: Blues Brothers
Bottom: Douze

Back in 2014, when I began to dissect this genre of photography, Instagram wouldn’t have been on the radar as much as today, now allowing me to connect with other photographers and artists who also explore creative ways in toy photography. One example of this is NY based Jared Middleton who goes by the name ‘SirDork730’ and would use practical effects to build an atmosphere to his photography. In addition to connecting with him, I have also happily managed to share and connect with Brian McCarty, being able to express my joy in his work and being able to share the outcome of the project Stray Bullets, which to my delight he enjoyed.

I have had a surge of creativity in Toy Photography once again, this time currently developing the theme of playtime, working with multiple characters who are a part of different toy-boxes found in medium such as comics, cartoons and films. Yes, I’m still talking about toys, I’m no stranger to talking about my toys like they are people sometimes, as this assists me in making my photos, and also with my music taste being so wide it helps me create and edit once again. I guess that you could say I like to develop on what I have learnt and find new ways to capture, in hopes of provoking feeling in photographs. These can be from humour to even childhood nostalgia.’

Top: Deadpool vs TMNT
Bottom left: Jumper Trooper
Bottom right: Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

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All words and photos © Jolly Bearded Promotions

18th May 2020


Sleaford Mods – From Jobseeker to Rich List

By Ryan Bell

Today, Sleaford Mods release collection/compilation All That Glue, which pieces together some fan favourites as well as some unreleased tracks, as a retrospective of the previous decade. It’s a little tricky to write about Sleaford Mods, the social/political angle of their music has been written about so often and so well by so many music writers in the past, that avoiding repeating what has already been said is easier said than done.

With All That Glue in mind, I can only offer a personal account of how I came to be enthralled by one of Britain’s most vital groups of the 2010s.

In 2015, I had tickets to see Noel Gallagher in Manchester. Seeing him in his hometown, as an Oasis fan, it promised to be electric. But a few months before the gig, I was flicking through my phone, trawling the NME website and I came upon a headline that, to paraphrase, went a little something like ‘SLEAFORD MODS SAY NOEL GALLAGHER HAS BLOOD ON HIS HANDS’.

As I mentioned, I was geared up for this gig, I’d put my Adidas Gazelles and my best coat ready to one side and everything. So, feeling especially defensive my initial though was ‘Pfft, who the bloody hell are Sleaford Mods?’. Clicking the link at the bottom of the page sent me to their tune Tied Up In Nottz

‘The smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon / Kevin’s getting footloose on the overspill / under the piss station’

The opening lines.

I probably played it through about three times back to back, just to check my ears were working properly. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, whether it was brilliant, or it was rubbish, or even whether I liked it or not. This is who’s slagging off Noel Gallagher? Soon after what was probably my fourth or fifth listen, it all suddenly made complete sense, and then shortly after another four or five listens, nothing but Sleaford Mods made sense – especially Noel Gallagher.

I’m not writing this to slag off Noel, I’m still a fan. The gig in Manchester was great as expected (Johnny Marr turned up which was nice), and I’ve seen him again since (though Mods’ ally Baxter Dury upstaged him for my money). But Tied Up In Nottz, which features on the All That Glue compilation, wiped out pretty much everything else I was listening to at the time, it was blisteringly unpleasant yet darkly comical and seemed to accurately expose and unite a faction of the United Kingdom in the same way Anarchy in the UK, Ghost Town or even Live Forever did.

Strangely enough it happened that my first Sleaford Mods gig was exactly one week before the heralded Noel gig. Though Sleaford Mods weren’t playing to a sold-out Manchester Arena, they were performing in my hometown, Wakefield in West Yorkshire, in the upstairs space of city pub venue The Hop.

But that gig was electric.
(Despite accidentally wandering into a pre-gig meeting with management and Mods’ frontman Jason Williamson – once the manager realised I was nothing to do with anything, I was politely asked to wait downstairs with everyone else).

The documentary Bunch of Kunst followed the band around this time, and Jason described what I believe was the Wakefield gig, or at least a gig on the same tour run as “being a real release for people”.

It was true, it was packed full to the rafters by the time Sleaford Mods came on stage, the crowd mainly comprised of men of a similar age to the band themselves, whom were both in their early to mid-forties. It’s funny looking back, I didn’t realise then but I was perhaps a little nostalgic for something I was never even a part of, being so invested in Oasis, The Stone Roses etc., but the group which I used as a distancing tool from that was a band comprised of men of a similar age, of the same generation at least. A generation who likely spent the mid 1990s unified by Britpop, cheering on Gazza striding on goal, with the hope of New Labour and a shift in hope being welcomed in by Halliwell flying the flag; who could blame  millions for believing they would too would ‘Live Forever’? However, not everyone emerged from the millennium millionaire rockstars with a pad in Ibiza, and instead some of that generation were here, sweating out a rage on the top floor of a pub to the new street sound of clunking basslines and the spitfire sprechgesang gospel of everything being a bit shit.

‘Can of Strongbow I’m a mess /  Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression / supplied to me by the NHS / It’s anyone’s guess how I’ll go / I suck on a roll up – pull your jeans up / Fuck off, I’m going home’

Sleaford Mods most infamous moment is undoubtedly Jobseeker, thankfully included in All That Glue after being missing from streaming services for a good while, and its title alone raises eyebrows even before hearing Williamson’s expletive tirade against the ‘smelly bastards who need executing!’ and the crass confession that since his last signing on date, he’s done ‘fuck all, and sat about the house wanking’.

But like many Mods’ tunes, beneath the toilet grime and sniping verbals, it’s an honest reflection of an all too familiar reality to many, neither patronising nor sycophantic, it’s too tangible to be meticulously calculated, and its timing for me was paramount.

I’d not long left the job centre myself when Sleaford Mods entered my life, and the lyrics documenting the disillusionment of the experience struck me particularly strongly; no other band I was aware of chose to discuss the feeling of finding that your ‘signing on time is supposed to be ten past eleven, and it’s now twelve o’clock’.

I’d never seen anyone personify frustration as perfectly on stage as Williamson in my life, even when watching ‘punk’ bands you could sense an element of posturing about it; but this was the real deal, articulated frustration so strong it burned all five senses.

If punk did away with the guitar solo back in ’77, then Sleaford Mods made the guitar itself redundant for a while, after the gig it seemed like nothing more than a masturbatory prop that would dilute the primal rage that drove the music, and I say that as a guitarist myself.

Beatmaker Andrew Fearn stands at stage right, nodding along to every song, his laptop resting atop stacked empty beer crates which is next to a filled beer crate for himself, and any audience member brazen enough to ask. Williamson stands centre, but does not stay still, constantly gyrating, twitching, spasming, at times laugh out loud hilarious with barnyard animal grunts and silly walks and in the next minute genuinely threatening, the spit and sweat lashing from his beetroot face cropped by his ruler straight fringe; he’s part Benny Hill, part Iggy Pop, but always enthralling.

This is still the case today, or at least the last time I saw Sleaford Mods, on the 2019 tour at Holmfirth Picturedrome, and visually not much has changed in the four years between first and latest. Fearn still bops along in the background, bottle in hand, though Williamson’s knocked drinking on the head and taken up weightlifting, which has only added more energy, more humour and more athletic ability to his arsenal as a performer.

The tunes though, despite what some may have predicted, have developed album by album. The seething rage and grim description that made Austerity Dogs and Divide & Exit so exhilarating remains on recent releases English Tapas and Eton Alive, but it’s obvious that both halves of the group have progression in mind.

You can track it through their venture into the lyrically surreal such as Tarantula Deadly Cargo or their unique stab at a pop choruses TCR as well as the ingenious loop of an off-licence buzzer and an iPhone alarm on Drayton Manored and Discourse respectively, and the final track of All That Glue; When You Come Up to Me being probably the least Mods track the Mods have done yet. Built upon some synth blips sounding like a lost gem from the new-wave era, it’s a track that would have felt highly unlikely back in the top room of a Wakefield pub in 2015, as Williamson sings throughout, his voice miles away from his usual bark, here sounding somewhat earnest and a little vulnerable.

‘Maybe it’s the way we feel and / I wanna love the sky and the universe / But that don’t get the door round here and / It don’t even come close too”

All That Glue oversees a massively creative period for the group which saw five studio albums, two previous compilations, four EPs and a live album. Cynics could argue it’s a little unnecessary, but it’s testament to the band that personally, I would have a hard time swapping any of the previously released tracks out, though there’s many more I would want to add.

So if anything it’s a celebration, not a greatest hits as Williamson has stressed to make clear. And so cheers to Sleaford Mods, one of the most vital bands of the decade for my money, and here’s to the next decade of modernism.

More from Sleaford Mods and links to buy All That Glue here

Words and photos by Ryan Bell

15th May 2020

Artist Feature – Arthur Russell (1951 – 1992)

Arthur Russell was born by the sleepy cornfields of Oskaloosa, Iowa in 1951, where he studied both the cello and piano. He moved to New York age 22 (via a few years spent at a San Francisco Buddhist commune) and enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, at which time he began collaborating with his peers on an array of underground disco records. He released his only solo record World of Echo in 1986 to critical acclaim but commercial failure and died in musical obscurity aged just 40. His restless quest for musical perfection resulted in him leaving over a thousand tape recordings in various stages of completion. He also might be the most fascinating musician you’ve never heard.

Though he is certainly getting his dues now, Arthur Russell is still a figure who lurks largely in the underground, and it’s often easier to fall into his world (or worlds) through the advocacy of his name from more commercially established artists.

Dev Hynes, Sufjan Stevens and Hot Chip are all fans who contributed to an AIDS awareness album comprised of covers of Russell’s work, Frank Ocean featured him in his Apple Music BLONDED radio broadcasts, and perhaps his widest exposure to date comes due to Kanye West, who sampled him on the track 30 Hours from his 2016 record The Life of Pablo.

It was a sample of This is How We Walk on the Moon that first perked my ears up, and after tracing it back to Russell I was instantly enamoured by the full track, its peculiar use of tribal drums, rhythmic cello, and Arthur’s low, ethereal voice sounded like nothing I had ever heard.

This is How We Walk On The Moon isn’t explicitly avant-garde, you can hum the tune and sing along to the words, and much of what Russell did make was pop – his early disco work was made with the same intentions as mainstream disco; to dance to. But whilst Arthur would disdain at the snobbery towards pop and disco music, his disregard of genre and outsider inclination would both set him free artistically and deny him any real mainstream success. Rarely aggressive or arresting, his records don’t provoke or attack, rather they wash over like waves, more concerned with texture and atmosphere than narrative, as though they’ve been scoured from the bottom of the ocean. His fondness to sing in polysyllabic noises, hums and moans and mumbles, was never really going to put him on Top of the Pops, though his mix of cryptic imagery and sudden, blunt and honest emotion often results in moments where his words break through the echoing soundscapes and hit you like a ton of bricks.

“It takes my whole time / I’m on another thought now / My eyes searching the real face / Of an angel”

Perhaps equally as limiting to his success as his eclecticism and idiosyncratic musical style was his quest for perfection. Russell would tirelessly toy with and revise his work, resulting in there being numerous variations of his songs, contained usually in cassette tapes left scattered around his apartment in New York’s East Village, where he would remain until his death. It is there he would create early underground disco records under pseudonyms such as Loose Joints and Dinosaur L, curate proto-punk minimalist performances at hipster venue The Kitchen, and craft his otherworldly solo album World of Echo, his perfectionist qualities leading this to be the only one he would live to see released.

Though praised by some critics, the record was largely a commercial failure and struggled to find a wider audience, not wholly inconceivable considering the music; made up of unusual textures and tones, it’s a collection of kaleidoscopic tonal shifts built on skeletal, fractured melodies, pining vocals and void-like echo. In recent times it has been looked at much more affectionately, the 2000s saw it reissued by Audika and Rough Trade records and in 2013 FACT magazine named it their number one album of the 1980s.

Arthur died aged only 40, from an AIDS related illness in 1992, leaving the final chapter of his life a desperately sad one, developing throat cancer that hindered his singing ability, as well as cancerous lesions in his eye and dementia. His devoted long term partner Tom Lee remembers him leaving the house without his headphones, something previously thought impossible, as told in the excellent BBC Radio Four documentary Arthur Russell: Vanished into Music, which takes its name from a poignant quote from Kyle Gann writing for The Village Voice:
“His (Arthur’s) recent performances had been so infrequent due to illness, his songs were so personal, that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.”

Choosing where to begin with Arthur Russell is no easy task, the man’s music spans and often defies genre, so I have chosen eight tracks to try as an entry point into the work of the one of the most interesting yet under-appreciated composers of the 20th century.

1: Dinosaur – Kiss Me Again – 1978
An underground disco hit, thirteen minutes of dancefloor ecstasy featuring Myriam Valle on vocals and David Byrne of Talking Heads on guitar. It’s worth the run time for the array of colourful musical ideas that flow throughout, and the drum break from the nine minute mark sees Byrne’s shuddering guitar push towards a manic ending, making it a must listen for anyone with an interest in classic dance music. The somewhat sparser B-side version is worth checking out also – Kiss Me Again? More like Play it again! Sorry.

2: Loose Joints – Tell You Today – 1983
Loose Joints, an ensemble group of musicians and non-musicians formed by Russell, released three superb singles in the early 80s; the dark and minimal Pop Your Funk, the dancefloor strut of Is It All Over My Face? and the cheerful Tell You Today, which is made up of giddy piano runs, chirpy whistles and rousing Latin percussion.

3: Arthur Russell – Being It – 1986
Being It could be mistaken as something from The Jesus and Mary Chain in its shoegaze-like blur. Taken from his radical solo debut World of Echo, it’s a beautifully hazy combination of distorted cello, scratching and quivering like an overdriven guitar, and Russell’s infinite mumble echoing out into the ether.

4: Arthur Russell – A Little Lost – 1994
One of Russell’s sweetest and most easily accessible solo compositions, which sees him encapsulate heart fluttering infatuation in three and half minutes through his warm voice, cello and lovesick lyrics “’Cause I’m so busy, so busy / Thinking about kissing you / Now I want to do that / Without entertaining another thought”. As heard in Aziz Ansari’s hip Netflix show Master of None.

5: Arthur Russell – This is How We Walk on The Moon – 1994
Russell’s finest pop moment: a bouncy, playful song and nothing short of confirmation that Phillip Glass was right when he spoke of Arthur as a potential pop star. A few variations of this track exist, though the one taken from 1994’s Another Thought is essential listening and the album needs to hit streaming services asap.

6: Arthur Russell – That’s Us / Wild Combination – 2004
Russell’s fragile voice over some soft, plodding synths begin what might be his finest tune, namechecked by Foals frontman Yannis Phillipakis as one of his favourite songs of all time. It soon bounces into a beautiful dance ballad, with cryptic lyrics evoking a pure, dreamlike love “It’s a wild combination / It’s a wild, it’s a loving you baby / It’s a talk in the dark, it’s a walk in the morning”.

7: Arthur Russell – Love is Overtaking Me – 2008
And now for something completely different. His music often sounds as though it was created in a vacuum at the bottom of the ocean or in the vastness of space, but here Russell sounds completely rooted in Americana. Taking the role of singer-songwriter sees an acoustic guitar in place of his usual cello, and his youthful Iowa cornfields in place of the hedonistic dance clubs and trendy art spaces of New York City.

8: Arthur Russell – Barefoot in New York – 2019
Even the most recent Russell releases are continuing to expose how genre-dismissive he was. On Barefoot in New York from 2019’s Iowa Dream, he rambles in a stream of consciousness style over an array of jazz horns and hip-hop drums; relentless and busy, it’s New York in a nutshell, evocative of his time in the East Village and his delivery sounds in homage to his close relationship with beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

A selection of Arthur Russell’s music is available to listen to and purchase here.

Words by Ryan Bell
Photos – Arthur Russell record sleeves

19th February 2020

Local Heroes – The Cribs

Still rings in my ears – The Cribs through Wakefield eyes

As a young lad from Wakefield, yearning for a musical identity of my own, I felt forced to look away to the neighbouring sounds of Sheffield and Leeds, over the Pennines to Manchester and Liverpool and, more often than not, across the pond to the USA; for the Merrie City (Wakefield’s somewhat ironic moniker) seemingly had little to offer me besides Black Lace…. Agadoo… yikes.

This changed when I discovered The Cribs, a scrappy garage/punk rock band fronted by twins Ryan and Gary with their younger brother Ross on drums, hailing from my hometown.

This was during the mid-noughties ‘indie’ revival, where the initial shockwave of The Strokes and The Libertines had resulted in a toxic fallout spawning countless prodigies all clad in skinny jeans and knackered converse, staggering around Camden (wherever that was) with eyes, hungover, peeking out from beneath a tousled fringe. I pawed at the NME weekly, though too young to be out in the Skins style discos splashed on the pages, I felt a connection to something, and whilst the majority of those bands had vanished almost entirely by the end of the decade (probably for the best), there were some, such as The Cribs, that never left me.

The appeal of The Cribs initially for me revolved around the fact that they were from where I was from; seeing them in a CD inlay lounging about the Wakefield Trinity Stadiumstreets away from my house, was akin to seeing The Ramones on the bus home from school.

Yes, they wrote magnificently catchy and noisy punk bangers (more on that shortly), but hearing your town’s name in a song can be an electrifying experience when you’re 12. The geography seemed to always to be a contentious issue within The Cribs, on the one hand the band rallied against the “clued up arseholes” whose regionalism tried to put them at war with their hometown (see The Wrong Way To Be) and crowds early on would chant the city’s name in unison, whether it be in Leeds, London or Tokyo. However, it’s evident that it was their striving aim to break out of what seemed like a nowhere-town that led them to great success, that led them to be called the UK’s biggest cult bandby Q Magazine in 2008, to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award from the NME in 2013 or, in their own words, be the first band to headline Leeds Arena, in 2017, that turned up in a van.

Of course not everyone is from Wakefield, so the longevity of The Cribs has to be down to something else, and that is the aforementioned magnificently catchy and noisy punk bangers. As a literal band of brothers they were always a tight unit, built on singalong choruses, snarky lyrics and sharp guitar leads so infectious that they tended to be sung back by crowdas loudly as the words. Though they were unforgivably lumped alongside many of the dour ‘landfill indie’ bands of the mid-late 2000s, The Cribs opposed this newfound appropriation of ’indie’ by taking aim at the scene on Hey Scenesters!, Our Bovine Public and Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant and by joking that the attitude of some bands is a bigger threat than global warming at Glastonbury. This did, however, lead to remarks that the band were somewhat contradictory for criticising bands for acting like cliché rockstars one minute and, in the next, diving onto glass tables at the NME awards and announcing that they invented Live 8 on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Even with this in mind, The Cribs were a group I always felt proud of, their desire for authenticity and reluctance to do anything much other than their own thing has led them to often lurk below the radar, even with indie dancefloor classics Men’s Needs and Hey Scenesters! in their arsenal. Though existing on the fringes has allowed them to sidestep the pitfalls of fads, trends and cliques that have befallen many an indie band, their determination to stick to their guns has resulted in them making records with Steve Albini, Edwyn Collins and Ric Ocasek, and it would be absurd to write about The Cribs without mentioning the period when legendary guitarist Johnny Marr joined the band, something that the massive Smiths fan I have grown to become now regrets not understanding how big a deal it was back in 2009.

My hope to see the band live in my hometown came true in 2014, which was also my first time seeing The Cribs, at the then recently refurbished and now frustratingly repurposed Unity Hall. A gig I had imagined so vividly for so long, I can now only recall it in quick flashes; Ryan Jarman’s slavering mouth agape as he thrashed his guitar, Ross Jarman standing high up on his stool belting the kit below, and my arm crashing down in pain as I leapt too high at the cathartic first blast of the chorus of Be Safe. That feeling was matched last year when, feeling quite lost in myself, I attended an anniversary gig of a local record label to pass the time. I was heading for the exit when all three Jarman brothers wandered up to the bar and unknowingly almost caused me to suffer a small aneurysm. The opportunity wasn’t missed, and I got to embarrassingly gush to my heroes in person for a few minutes, thanking them for their music, for making the 12 year old me believe in the potential of my town, and then I left, feeling a little less lost.

I feel Wakefield is likely a much better place now than it was when The Cribs first dreamt of escaping it; it’s got a nationally renowned art gallery, a really good record store (read all about it!) and an infamous pie-shop, though best of all, it will always have The Cribs.

Essential listening 

Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever – 2007, Wichita

It might be the band’s most commercially successful work, but that doesn’t mean their formula of shouty, singalong punk infused power-pop crafted on their first two LPs is missing, if anything it is perfected. Beginning with the jolting Our Bovine Public (watch your headphone volume) and concluding with the acoustic ballad Shoot the Poets, it’s one of the few records that properly deserved its ‘10 year anniversary’ tour, the likes of which have become commonplace over the last couple of years. The indie disco classic Men’s Needs, the feverish My Life Flashed Before My Eyes and the conflicted ode to Wakefield I’ve Tried Everything all feature, but the monolithic Be Safe is the albums cornerstone; a six minute epic featuring a sprawling and emotive spoken word piece from Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo.

Other recommended listening 

Year of Hate
We Share the Same Skies
Hey Scenesters!
Back to the Bolthole
Another Number
Pink Snow

For more music and news from The Cribs click here

Words and photos by Ryan Bell

2nd September 2019



10 Years On – Viva Glasvegas

2008… amongst the throngs of indie guitars and X-Factor forgettables, Glasvegas released their much hyped, self-titled debut album. It was aptly described at the time by BBC Music as ‘like the east end of Glasgow that gave birth to it; rough, raw and epic, it is a stunning wall of sound that strains the rich rockabilly and doowop of the 50s through the raucous brooding rock of The Jesus and Mary Chain to create something timeless’.

For many, discovering the album and the music leading up to it was like the start of a beautiful friendship, only enhanced by the release at the end of the year of A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss) – a Christmas record not quite like any other. 10 years on and the reaction to the announcement that the band would play the album in full, initially in their home town at Stag & Dagger Festival and then touring the UK, made it clear just how important Glasvegas and their music have been, and still are.

It’s too big a story for one person to tell so huge thanks go to the following people for sharing their thoughts about the tour, their favourite tracks and their own personal stories:
Becky Jones, Carl Knott, Charlie Smith, Craig, Daniel Angelus, Daniel (Sweden), Daniela (Germany), Graham Stewart, Jean, Matt Clow, Stuart Blair and Tasha.

Stuart: Glasvegas were one of the very first bands I fell in love with. The music that I first heard them play in 2006 is what made me love them – something different from what was going on elsewhere. So much of my 20s was locked into following the band, meeting friends and making some great memories. The band has always treated all their fans with love and kindness. I love Glasvegas and I love the music they produce; this is only second to the amazing fans of the band I now call friends.

Glasgow o2 ABC, Stag & Dagger Festival, 6th May 2018

Daniel: And there I am with my arms in the sky. So happy! Flew from Stockholm as a 40 year present to myself… What a trip! What a night! What a crowd! What a gig! Glasvegas were amazing…

Daddy’s Gone

Charlie: When I first heard the song it hit me like a sledgehammer. My Dad left home when I was a kid, young enough to think it was somehow my fault, old enough to be angry. I didn’t understand it and it didn’t seem like something people talked about. I kept it at bay for years, pretending I didn’t care. When I heard the lyrics all those feelings came back and I cried my heart out. I was amazed that someone had said what I thought out loud and I listened to the song constantly. These days things are good, I see my Dad and we get along ok. I wish we’d worked things out sooner. I’ll always be grateful for feeling like I wasn’t the only one, always grateful for that song.

Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 9th October 2018

Carl: You could tell in the venue there was a build up of excitement from the fans, eagerly waiting to see Glasvegas perform. They did not disappoint! It was the first time I have seen James perform Stabbed, I felt like I was the only person in the room. It was like he was talking to me directly and had a story to tell, and I’m sure everyone else felt as captivated as I did. As usual, Glasvegas were amazing live, the  ending of Ice Cream Van reminding me how much this album means to me, even more so now than when it first got released.

Daniela: Being a big Glasvegas fan since 2008 I was happily surprised they played a full tour again after several years. That’s why I bought tickets for 5 of the shows and I can’t even say which one was my favourite. Being on this tour showed clearly how many people still love the first album and how much it affected them. All the venues were full, people singing along to the songs everywhere. The band played themselves back into their audiences’ hearts and minds and hopefully will continue with a new album next year. I also loved it that they signed the album after most of the gigs and took their time to talk with their fans. Over the years I met many great people through Glasvegas, and coming to Glasgow or coming to one of the shows now feels like coming home for me. My favourite track from the debut album is Flowers and Football Tops; I love how the song builds up, and the lyrics touch me deeply.

Polmont On My Mind

Matt: I  think it’s my favourite track on the album because it breathes the most and you can hear all 4 members playing their part. I always imagine what it would be like with a huge orchestra and choir playing on it. It sounds like it could soundtrack the main scene of a blockbuster film. Daddy’s Gone and Cheating Heart had been everywhere at this point and I’d binged on The Home Tapes as soon as they surfaced. I watched the band for the first time on Valentines Day at Gloucester Guildhall in 2008. The moment the first chord hit I knew it was going to be the track I couldn’t let go of. Rab’s guitar slowly builds through the opening verse, tambourine just low enough in the mix to warn you that something big is coming. 1 minute 12 seconds and those drums come pounding in. Paul’s bass is fuzzy and drives the song along, James’ melody perfectly complimented by the guitar line, the lyrics building those images only certain people can master. It’s one of those you only wish it carried on forever.

Liverpool Arts Club, 10th October 2018

Carl: Friends I have made from following the band travelled down from Glasgow. The goosebumps are still there everytime I hear the  intro of Flowers and Football Tops and I still wish I could help another in the way Geraldine portrays. Glasvegas are just as important now as they were when their first album was released. James’ vocals and lyrics need to be heard by the masses, Rab’s reverb and ability to tell the tale through his powerful guitar performance are mesmerising. Paul and his bass give me the chills in a way I find hard to describe, the deep and dark rain clouds behind every song. And last to mention is Jonna. Seriously, what a drummer!! She is just perfect for this band, her style, her energy, the way she brings the whole show to another level is a talent that the fans appreciate and it showed at the end of every show when she was so well received.


Tasha: I grew up moving from one foster home to another because my behaviour was out of control. Ignored and abused in equal measures, I felt like society didn’t care for me and the feeling was mutual. I’ve suffered with my mental health over the years and hit rock bottom in my late teens, no job, no proper home, no future (as the song goes). By chance, I went along to a drop-in centre with a friend and got talking to a support worker who didn’t seem phased by my hatred for the world and for myself. She let me talk (shout), didn’t judge me, made me feel like maybe my life was actually worth something. With a lot of persuasion and encouragement I went back to studying and for the last 4 years I’ve been mentoring kids in care, trying to turn a horrible experience into something positive. When things were dark, I listened to this song so much. It used to be something to cling on to; now it’s become a poignant reminder of how my life changed because just one person made me think that was possible. I have no doubt that without my ‘Geraldine’ I wouldn’t be here now to tell the tale.

The Old Market Brighton, 13th October 2018

Becky: After too many years I saw Glasvegas again at The Old Market in Brighton and hearing the debut album in full was every bit as good as I’d hoped for and more. Considering how sad some of the songs are they make so many people so happy. There was even a surprise proposal from the crowd and of course she said yes. I saw some old friends and I met some new friends, my face hurt from smiling, singing and crying all at once. Loved every second.

Go Square Go

Graham: It’s a blistering track full of energy that takes me back to the school gates and when school finished at 4pm. The idea that you had to fight when challenged is spot on, got to keep up your street credibility in Glasgow. James nails the whole idea of saving face during your school days here with the idea that win, lose or draw’s alright, if I don’t fight I can’t go home. The track takes on a whole new life live, it must be amazing for the band to watch the whole crowd chant the lines ‘Here we, here we, here we fucking go…’

Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 18th October 2018

Carl:  It still amazes me how well received anthems such as It’s My Own Cheating Heart and Go Square Go can make a room full of strangers join together as if we all had a part to play in these amazing stories told. Daddy’s Gone provoked emotion from all age ranges within the crowd, with fans crowd surfing and on shoulders to sing the band’s most famous track.

Daniel A: I saw Glasvegas on the 10 year anniversary tour in Nottingham. I was mesmerised by the set and it was a really emotional show. Glasvegas’ music has helped me to understand my inner struggles and matched my desire to be happier. I often believe that the songs that are written are aimed at me as they seem to understand my feelings and experiences. They put into magical words my emotions. Glasvegas will always be a band close to my core and their songs heavily in my heart.

A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss)

Graham: Favourite song from the Christmas EP has to be the title track, the way the song builds from being a song of despair and thoughts of death to one of looking forward to the future is quite uplifting. Just the idea and realisation that something so pure and beautiful as a snowflake can fill a person with hope that tomorrow can be better and life indeed has a meaning after all. I like the way the track goes from despair to hopeful in the fall of a snowflake that lands on the face of the character in the song, and feels like a kiss that perhaps signifies a sign from the heavens above that everyone is important,  and life is worth it after all.  A song of hope and new starts that could indeed be the best Christmas message ever.

Daniela: Just the perfect Christmas song for me.

Manchester Gorilla, 22nd October 2018

Jean: What a fab experience and a privilege it was to see Glasvegas on their GV10 tour. A band that never disappoints, that gives a brilliant experience to their fans and a night of raw emotion like no-one else. Also wonderful to meet all the band after, they really appreciate the support of everyone – and thanks for the beer Rab, only someone swiped it while I was looking adoringly at you lot! There’s really no other band like Glasvegas and I love them loads! My favourite track on the Glasvegas album is My Own Cheating Heart, a song of power, passion yet vulnerability which builds to a climax of emotion which washes over you and leaves you wrung out.

Carl: It still is hard to understand how a band who may not follow the normal protocol of others can sell out shows (without an album for 5 years) doing things their own way from the start to now (which I admire). Yet the crowd was like a sponge, absorbing every lyric, every drum beat, bass note and fuzzy guitar as if it was all that mattered, to be there in that moment of time. The album performed live is one of my greatest memories, I played this album repeatedly on a daily basis, until the release of ///Euphoric Heartbreak\\\ in 2011. It was noted that Alan McGee was in the audience, as well as a special mention to ‘Geraldine’ who I have been fortunate enough to meet. She is humble and the song portrays her and the service providers in the best possible light.

Cruel Moon

Daniel A: My favourite song from the Christmas EP is Cruel Moon. It is such a heartbreaking song to listen to that humbles me each and every time I hear it. The song used to be a stark reminder that homelessness could happen to any of us but then in 2012 I actually became homeless for 2 months and the song took on a really personal meaning. Ever since then I play it every year from November onwards.

Jean: Such a beautiful tune and insightful lyrics.

Carl: James sure knows how to evaluate and tell the other side of Christmas we all experience from time to time. The song provokes a reaction inside me that makes me realise how precious life can be.

Stuart: When I heard Cruel Moon it totally changed my mindset. The lyrics are the saddest Christmas song I have ever heard. This had a massive impact on me and made me look at the world differently. Every payday since I heard that I would go and sit and have lunch with someone who was living on the street and listen to them. I felt so lucky to have my family and think that it could be me one day that is living on the street. It’s something that happened due to a lot of things going on that made me think about life and how luck has a massive effect on people. I have been lucky enough to not fall from grace. That song was just right for me to make me change or enforce how I felt.

Glasgow Barrowland, 14th December 2018

Craig: I’ve no idea what the future looks like for Glasvegas but I do know that tonight in Glasgow Barrowlands they made me reflect on so many aspects of the 10 years that’s zipped by in a flash since they released an album that, when the dust settles, will surely be perceived as a seminal and iconic debut. It’s a beautiful record and when played live gets the goosebumps going like all the greats. They also look amazing – The Dalmarnock Velvet Underground. Context-wise they have been incredibly important and integral to certain events in my life that will never be forgotten (good and bad) culminating in why I was there today and how the day played out. Thank you James, Rab, Paul, Jonna and Caroline.

2018… a 10 year anniversary, many miles travelled, friendships made and lives turned around. The songs are still raw and epic and Glasvegas are most definitely still a force to be reckoned with.

Glasvegas website

Photos (from o2 ABC Glasgow – Stag & Dagger, The Old Market Brighton, Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth, Barrowland Glasgow) and additional words by Siobhan

21st December 2018