Post-Rocktoberfest 2009: The Delightfully Confusing World of Papa Sprain

October 1, 2009 at 9:00 am 153 comments

Papa Sprain

Papa Sprain

Papa Sprain was perhaps the most mysterious of all the first-generation UK post-rock bands. Memorably, a poster on the I Love Music forum once voiced an opinion that the band was merely a figment of some Pitchfork’s writer’s imagination.

But Papa Sprain existed and some of the recorded evidence is scattered throughout this post. The band was based in London  but – as far as one can tell – all the members originally came from Belfast. They were proteges of dreampop legends A.R. Kane and released two E.P.s on their mentors’ H.ark! label. Additionally, they were very closely linked to Butterfly Child – also from Belfast, also involved with A.R. Kane.

Papa Sprain didn’t necessarily make the most original, eclectic or experimental  music to emerge from the early post-rock scene. But the Papa Sprain sound certainly was eccentric and confounding – a peculiar mix of literate singer-songwriter pop with experimental noise-rock, feedback drones and primitive electronics. And it was very much centred around the fragile voice and self-consciously modernist lyrics of the group’s leader Gary McKendry.

During its short life, the band only had three official releases. However, since McKendry’s disappearance from the world of music, a few additional tracks have found their way onto the Internet and Papa Sprain’s small (but international) band of admirers lives in hope that more is yet to come.

Early Demos (recorded around 1991)
These lo-fi home recording recently emerged when a mysterious source passed some MP3s onto Joe Morris of The Blackened Air. Tracks like “Shake Your Foot” and “Toppled King of the World” are clearly the work of a band in the earliest stages of its development.

Still, McKendry’s stream-of-consciousness lyrical style is in place and the guitars are already being mangled by all manner of effects-pedal excess (not to mention the low-technology recording equipment).

You can download the whole thing via The Blackened Air.

Papa Sprain - Flying to Vegas

Papa Sprain - Flying to Vegas

Flying to Vegas 12″ (H.ark!, 1991)
The only song from the demo to make it onto an official release was “Flying to Vegas”, the title track from the band’s debut E.P. for H.ark! This tune is an odd mix of semi-spoken vocals and electronically altered guitar melodies – coming off like Lloyd Cole produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins.

The rest of the tracks point more clearly towards Papa Sprain’s future development. “Spout”, in particular, is a limpid grotto of sound worthy of Sixty-Nine era A.R. Kane. Here, an anthemic chord sequence is gradually swallowed by guitar feedback and dub effects.

Papa Sprain - May

Papa Sprain - May

May 12″ (H.ark!, 1992)
The band’s second (and most immediately appealing) official release marked a slight step back from the slide into abstraction hinted at on tracks like “Spout”. May has a starker, more electronic sound. It also features some of the band’s finest and oddest pieces of song-writing, notably “I Got Stop” and “U Swell”.

Again, you can download the whole thing via The Blackened Air.

The Peel Session (recorded 1992)
By the time of Papa Sprain’s one-and-only session for the John Peel Show, the band was pretty much a solo concern for McKendry. For the session, he was backed up by Joe Cassidy of Butterfly Child and Rudy Tambala of A.R. Kane (a Butterfly Child session from around the same time featured an identical line-up).

The session drew half its material from May and the BBC versions were not noticeably different from the ones that appeared on the 12″. However, the two new songs suggested that McKendry was taking a sharp creative left turn. The gorgeous “Cliff Tune” may represent his most impressive attempt to balance melody and abstraction.

“You Are Ten Million Needles Pierce” (aka “You Are Ten Million Needless People”), meanwhile, represents a huge leap into the void – a wild cascade of free-form guitars and vocals, disrupted by Tambala’s stuttering drum machine noise. This bizarre track forms a real cornerstone of the Papa Sprain mythology – particularly as there is some disagreement over its correct title (perhaps due to Peel stumbling over said title when he announced it on air). “You Are.. ” was also a vital foreshadowing of what little future Papa Sprain had.

And, once again, you can download the whole session via The Blackened Air.

Papa Sprain - Tech Yes

Papa Sprain - Tech Yes

Tech Yes 7″ (Rough Trade, 1993)
Somewhere along the line, McKendry had entered into a relationship with Rough Trade – a label that had also released albums by A.R. Kane. The only official fruit borne by this relationship was Tech Yes, a three-track 7″ released as part of the Rough Trade Singles Club series.

“Tech Yes” itself is like nothing else the band had previously recorded – a glitchy drum machine pattern overlaid with rumbling feedback and detuned spoken word vocals. The MP3 presented here was ripped at 45RPM, as specified on the record. So it really is supposed to sound like that!

On the B-side “See Sons Bring Some More Out Tomb We Enter” is rather more accessible – basically a droney, tonal organ improvisation, featuring McKendry’s looped voice intoning the title phrase – presumably a phonetic reconfiguring of “seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter”. This simple linguistic game hinted at McKendry’s growing interest in modernist literature (particularly the work of James Joyce), something which was to be a significant part of his undoing.

The Mysterious Full-Length Album (unreleased)
There are those who claim to have heard the full-length album that Papa Sprain allegedly recorded for Rough Trade. But these claims are hard to verify.

The story is that an increasingly eccentric McKendry was taking his sweet time recording Papa Sprain’s full-length debut when the folks at Rough Trade demanded to hear some work in progress. McKendry brought them a cassette of freeform guitar feedback and the irritated label people demanded that he produce something a bit more substantial – and soon. A week later, McKendry returned with the same recording, to which he had added his voice intoning the first word from every page of Ulysses.

That’s the story anyhow. And that was pretty much the end of Papa Sprain. McKendry returned to Belfast, where he started a short-lived band called Roo Nation, before dropping off the musical map for good.

The only Gary McKendry from Belfast to have made any noticeable waves since then is a director of American TV ads, as well as one Academy Award-nominated feature film. Could they possibly be the same person? Apparently, he’s currently working on an action flick that will star Jason Statham.

Weird.

Entry filed under: MP3s, post-rock, Post-Rocktoberfest 2009, UK post-rock. Tags: , , , .

Intermission: A Correction Post-Rocktoberfest 2009: Papa Sprain Post(-rock)script

153 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  October 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Nice, thorough history of an artist that doesn’t seem to have one. It’s cool to have the links to basically everything they’ve ever done in one place, posts like this help prove that music blogs can be more than a tool for hyping the latest fads.

    Reply
  • 2. Biggie Samuels  |  October 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Cheers. I suppose a big part of Papa Sprain’s appeal is that there isn’t much information about the band’s history. Somehow, the mystery really enhances one’s appreciation of the oblique, tricky music.

    Still it would be nice to get some of the questions raised by this post answered. It would also be cool if someone had the guts to remaster and re-issue the band’s complete discography on CD and/or vinyl.

    Reply
  • 3. joe  |  October 1, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Great stuff. Part of me would like to have the mystery of the “lost” album solved, and part of me hopes it remains a mystery – I expect the truth is probably a lot more banal!

    And I expect the biggest obstacle to a complete re-issue is tracking down the masters.

    Oh, and I’ll be putting up Vegas pretty soon, along with an Insides promo 12″ version of Clear Skin that’s pretty nifty.

    Reply
  • 4. Biggie Samuels  |  October 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Of course, the other thing about liking Papa Sprain is that it really leaves you wanting more. They produced hardly any stuff – which, again, seems fitting because the music is so oddly insubstantial, so… rickety!

    But right now, I’ll take anything I can get. So, if anyone can hit me with an MP3 of the “Flying to Vegas” remix or the Donovan cover they did with Butterfly Child…

    Reply
  • 5. amymillard  |  October 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Interesting band, I love the Peel Session and the May EP. Do you know where I might find a download of the whole Flying to Vegas EP?

    Reply
  • 6. Biggie Samuels  |  October 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Judging by his comment right here, Joe is planning to post Flying to Vegas on The Blackened Air pretty soon. Watch that space.

    Reply
  • 7. millimetre  |  October 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    i used to know someone in belfast who was pally with mckendry and may have in fact been working with him in the studio where PS was recording the full album, and i distinctly remember my acquaintance at the time explaining that the album consisted largely of “programming and whispering”.
    belfast in the late 80s/early 90s was a rotten, depressing place, so if mckendry really was making an album that sounded like that, you could hardly blame him. belfast does that to sensitive people..!

    Reply
  • 8. Biggie Samuels  |  October 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    So, McKendry was already back in Belfast by the time he was working on the full-length? Or is it maybe Roo Nation you’re thinking of?

    I’ve searched in vein for Roo Nation MP3s, so I’d be extremely grateful if anyone could hook me up!

    Reply
  • […] 4, 2009 That Papa Sprain post has proved to be quite popular! Blogging heavywieghts Simon Reynolds and Matt Woebot have both […]

    Reply
  • 10. Richard Reynolds  |  October 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Where on earth did you get those old 4 tracks from? (shake your foot and toppled). Cregan, Gary nor I have copies of them, and we were in the band!

    Reply
  • 11. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Bloody hell! This is almost as embarrassing as when I got into a conversation with Ian Crause in someone else’s comments box!

    Anyway, don’t look at me! I got those tracks from The Blackened Air and Joe insists that the person who passed the link to him kept things utterly anonymous. I always assumed it was someone in the band.

    Erm… You wouldn’t happen to have a copy of the full-length would you Richard?

    Reply
  • 12. Richard Reynolds  |  October 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Oh, I’m afraid the world just isn’t ready for that album yet, never let the truth spoil a good myth!

    You never know, I did grab the “papa sprain” myspace page a while ago just to make sure no-one else did, maybe I’ll talk Gary into putting some of his crazy ramblings on it someday – on your own head be it …

    Reply
  • 13. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Oh yeah, here it is:

    http://www.myspace.com/papasprain

    This leaves me wondering if Richard would be willing to clear up the mystery about what Gary McKendry is up to these days. Oscar-nominated film director or what?

    Reply
  • 14. Richard Reynolds  |  October 5, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    No, that’s an imposter, the real Gary’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – he’s planning an escape though after which, while he’s on the run from the law, you’ll be able to hire him and his sporty van to sort out any nefarious villiains who are opressing the little man.

    Or maybe he mostly watches daytime T.V.

    Reply
  • 15. Richard Reynolds  |  October 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Just looked up a picture of that director bloke, the real Gary’s much more handsome.

    Reply
    • 16. cregan  |  October 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm

      oh……can of worms……..can of worms……..

      i think what Richie is TRYING to say is that as far as Papa Sprain goes, you need to have a sense of humour. or else you’ll go insane. or listen to Bark Psychosis instead. (aha!)

      anyway. 5 fascinating facts and then i shut up.

      1. Roo Nation has nothing to do with Gary McKendry or Papa Sprain. this is a misunderstanding filtered through a series of chinese whispers.

      2 .the lyrics of Techyes can be found on the page before last of “Finnegans Wake” beginning “i done me best when i was let, thinking if i go all goes…………” (written by McKendry).

      3. the lost album’s title is “Finglas Since The Flood”. its terrible. in every sense of the word. if you like Lou Reeds “Metal Machine Music” you might like it and i know of at least one person who says its their favourite “Drugs Music”. but even if you DID like Lou Reeds “Metal Machine Music” would you not still rather listen to “Velvet Underground and Nico”? or “Marble Index”?

      ive got it somewhere and im tempted to upload it even if only for the fact that I bloody well HAD TO LISTEN TO IT ABOUT 15 BILLION TIMES!!

      4. either Gary isnt an Oscar winning film director or he’s been keeping that one very quiet. but then again it can be months between seeing him. if he is though im gonna take it personally the fact that he hasnt shown me any of these films yet keeps giving me cd’s of incomprehensible noise.

      5. “You Are Ten Million Needles Pierce” is right. it wasnt new at the time of the peel session so i wouldnt infer anything from it. originally it had the working title of “Noise”. but by the time of the peel session i think everything did!

      6. (yes i know). Papa Sprain werent “Post Rock”. that was a term coined by Simon Reynolds which has nothing to do with us. we were going berfore ther term existed so we can have been “Post Rock”.

      what we WERE was “Heavy Metal”. this was decided fully by the “Im not gettig back into the van until Gary says we’re Heavy Metal” debate of 1990.

      oh, fuck it……………….here he is…………

      Ladies and Gentlemen…………i give you Gary Fuckin McKendry!!!

      make of it what you will. over and out.

      http://www.myspace.com/garymartinjames

      Reply
      • 17. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

        This just keeps getting weirder, doesn’t it readers? I can’t wait for the day when someone from an early ’90s post-rock band says: “Oh yeah, we were TOTALLY post-rock”.

      • 18. Richard Reynolds  |  October 6, 2009 at 5:08 am

        What Cregan is TRYING to say is that he has loads of time to do really longs posts whereas I have to go feed the dog.
        But, if he’s going to give 5 fascinating facts then I damn well am too.

        1. It wasn’t drugs and daytime T.V. that was Gary’s downfall, it was tea, that much tea will destroy anybody.

        2. Gary’s the only person I can beat at chess but only because I move all the pieces around while he’s making tea.

        3. Injecting tea is difficult.

        4. A frascinating fact specifically for Cregan – That big box might fit in my boot, we could drop it over in that and come back for your car.

        5. Even “Metal Machine Music” has “Metal” in the title. You know what I’m saying.

        6. I once surreptitiously swapped the envelopes for Gary’s DHSS application form with an item of fan mail and let me tell you, Japanese HEAVY METAL fans are even more inept at processing fresh claims than our own Department of Health and Social Services.

  • 19. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Well, I guess we all stand to benefit from adding grist to this particular mystery mill. If we can get enough momentum behind the whole “reclusive mad genius” thing, we might fool some record label into issuing a “Complete Works Remastered” CD or something.

    For what it’s worth, I vaguely remember reading an interview with McKendry back in the day, where he claimed to spend most of the time sitting in his bedsit, smoking weed and playing with a four-track. So, this whole “daytime T.V.” thing sounds pretty plausible.

    Reply
  • 20. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT! There’s a bunch of stream-able, unreleased Papa Sprain tracks on McKendry’s Myspace page!! And they totally sound like what would have come next after “Tech Yes”!!!

    Does anyone have the technology to capture these and turn them into MP3s?

    http://www.myspace.com/garymartinjames

    Reply
    • 21. cregan  |  October 5, 2009 at 3:44 pm

      these tracks are recent.

      Reply
  • 22. Biggie Samuels  |  October 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Ha! I thought they sounded too computer-y to be from the early ’90s but I didn’t think there was a chance McKendry was still recording as Papa Sprain (whatever “Recording as” means). These tracks are GREAT. They make perfect sense given my current listening habits and I love the way he’s looping and processing spoken-word vocals. Someone sign this ageing post-rocker up!

    Reply
  • […] 5, 2009 Those of you who’ve been following the comments on the original Papa Sprain post have probably noticed the existence of nine (9) new songs on Gary McKendry’s Myspace page. […]

    Reply
  • […] present the first of two sessions that Joe Cassidy’s band recorded for the John Peel show. As previously mentioned, these 1992 recordings feature a line-up identical to the one that appeared on Papa Sprain’s […]

    Reply
  • 25. FortDax  |  October 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    this is just bloody brilliant! collectively you’ve managed to both shed some light on and simultaneously deepen the enigma of P.S.

    i’m glad that i braved the wardrobe and excavated the Peel session (although it’s Sam who really merits all of our applause). given the things i realise i’ve been sitting on for far too long, i’ve sketched a loose plan – come early 2011, by which time i’ll have moved house (allowing for a full exploration of the various boxes containing the tapes) and, crucially, gotten my technics deck out of storage, i’d like to start a blog to put the sessions back out into the air & ears. possibly by request, as i’d have no notion of where to begin otherwise. there are 175+ 90-minute cassettes and a bunch of MiniDiscs, each with around 4 sessions on, all taken from the period spanning 1986-1996 or thereabouts. and no, this post isn’t intended as a kind of self-aggrandising ‘ooh-look-at-what-I’VE-got’, but rather as the realisation that there are a huge number of sessions which simply haven’t surfaced elsewhere netside, and are thoroughly deserving of preservation and dissemination. if there’s anything anyone would like to hear, email me and i’ll begin some kind of list in preparation.

    the bottom line? PS made some wonderful music, and the more who recognise that fact, the wider the smile on my face.

    dx

    Reply
  • 27. cregan  |  October 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    ok folks….before the buzz dies down……….

    unless i come across a cache of forgotten tapes or find the now suddenly elusive to me, as well as everyone on the net Great Work Of Aaaart that is “Finglas since the Flood”, this is all i have. im not much of an archivist. things tend to get taped over, have coke spilled on them and be left in taxi’s by reclusive mad genius’s who borrowed them from you.

    http://rapidshare.com/files/290055079/Papa_Sprain_Live.zip.html

    2 gigs. one each from 91 and 92 respectively. theyre both pretty different. partly cos theyre completely different sets of musicians and partly cos of Gary McKendry’s Ever Changing Moods. the first is a soundboard recording so its relatively decent quatlity the second isnt so its not.

    track listing of the 92 gig 1.Ginsberg/2.Radio/3.U Swell/4.Piano Song/5.E/6.Noise(1)/7.Noise(2)8.I Got Stop – provided by Tony McKeown ( http://www.myspace.com/mckeowntony ) who’s the guitarist at this point.

    Reply
    • 28. cregan  |  October 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm

      oh, and by the way………ahem………..”We were Totally Post Rock!!”

      To the Max!!

      Reply
      • 29. Biggie Samuels  |  October 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm

        Obviously, you just made my day.

      • 30. Richard Reynolds  |  October 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm

        There’s a demo of “Rich” on here: http://www.myspace.com/jasalmon – surprisingly it’s the one called “Rich Demo”.

  • 31. FortDax  |  October 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Sam, i’m 85% sure this one’s in THE WARDROBE (the second of four sessions – who’dathunkit?)

    Push!
    Voice Of Reason
    Kicking The Corpse Around
    Splintered
    TX – 05/07/1988
    Producer – Dale Griffin
    Engineer – Nick Gomm/Mike Engles/Phil Stannard
    Studio – Unknown

    I’ll add it to the top of the list. hope to be sharing this with you by 2011! ;0) dx

    Reply
    • 32. Biggie Samuels  |  October 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      Are we talking about Dub Sex again now? The only songs I know by that band are “Swerve” and “Time of Your Life” but that’s enough to make me want more.

      Reply
      • 33. FortDax  |  October 11, 2009 at 4:42 am

        we are indeed. it’s worth pointing out that ‘Swerve’ and ‘Time Of Life’ were the pinnacle of DS’s achievements, but there’s a fairly comprehensive collection of material (which doesn’t manage to stretch to the latter 12″) on the ‘Splintered Faith’ cd comp from the late 90’s. of which i’ve just tried to find you a download link and failed spectacularly!

  • 34. Jon Dale  |  October 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    That’s all well and good but what we really want to know – speaking of H.ark! – is who the hell were Celestial Tribes and what happened to ’em?

    Reply
    • 35. Biggie Samuels  |  January 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      I just heard a Celestial Tribes song actually. It was terrible.

      Reply
  • 36. Biggie Samuels  |  October 10, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    It seems there was some kind of promo tape that H.ark! was giving out in the early ’90s, featuring tracks from a bunch of the label’s then upcoming releases that never came to be. With a little luck, somebody may be able to unearth a copy.

    Reply
    • 37. FortDax  |  October 11, 2009 at 4:44 am

      myself and a couple of others established a thread featuring as many of the ‘Volume’s as we collectively owned on the Skafunkrastapunk forum, and I know #2 *is* there, which contains the only known release from Celestial Tribes (‘Gold’). the site’s down for maintainance at present, but I’ll send you the link as soon as I can.

      Reply
  • […] “Cliff Tune” For what little information exists on Papa Sprain, please refer back to this previous post. “Cliff Tune” comes from Gary McKendry and co’s Peel session and probably […]

    Reply
  • 40. Biggie Samuels  |  October 18, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    What is this instrumental demo version of “Rich”, credited to one Ja Salmon, doing on MySpace? My confusion deepens. http://www.myspace.com/jasalmon

    Reply
    • 41. Richard Reynolds  |  October 19, 2009 at 9:54 am

      Have a load of really early tracks on cassette and thought you lot of nutcases might be interested in this one.
      Most were recorded on 4 tracks in Belfast and some (including this one) was sent over to Gary who’d moved to the big smoke, where apparently the tea was cheaper and stronger, to see if he could get us a record deal.
      I’ve a load more but they’re mostly rubbish, couple of local studio recordings though so might stick those up sometime.
      Ja Salmon’s just the name of a band I was in after Papa Sprain so I used that myspace site.

      Reply
  • 42. cregan  |  October 19, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    do you have the demo of Spout as well?

    i really should get your email so that we’re not ruining this guys blog trying to make each other laugh with childish in-jokes.

    have you still got that drum fill of Darren’s? that deserves a website of its own.

    Reply
    • 43. Darren.  |  June 20, 2013 at 6:17 am

      I’m still trying to perfect that drumfill…..

      Reply
  • 44. Richard Reynolds  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I probably do have spout you know, will look.

    And I’m pretty sure we found that fill a while back, will ask Jack, he’s been laughing his way through all those tapes over the last few years.
    I also have about 9 versions of Shangri La, each one worse than the last.

    All praise to Alan Sugar for the marvellous Amstrad 4 track stroke record player!

    Reply
  • 45. joe  |  October 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

    clearly i’m too late for this particular party – the PS live link has elapsed. any chance of a re-up anyone? anyone?

    and sam, here’s a dub sex album:http://www.mediafire.com/?izlndwztngl

    Reply
  • 46. Biggie Samuels  |  October 21, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Joe. I will endeavour to re-upload the more hi-fi of those two live sets, which is absolutely storming. Might take a little while because I’m quite busy now (as I believe are you).

    Reply
  • 47. Tony McKeown  |  October 22, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Well, having watched the Chinese whispers get passed on over the years, I’ve resisted commenting on them until now… As a newspaperman says in a famous old Western, when it comes to choosing between between the truth and the legend, ‘print the legend.’ Presumably because the truth is more pedestrian…

    However, here are a few corrections to/comments on the main piece about Papa Sprain:

    1) ‘Finglas since the Flood’, was not a reading through Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, but rather through his ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’

    (Incidentally, the speaking voice on ‘Tech Yes’ is one of the few extant gramophone recordings of Joyce reading from ‘Finnegan’s Wake,’ albeit heavily detuned.)

    There were various versions of Finglas. It’s not true that McKendry added vocals as an attempt to sugarcoat a guitar feedback album for Rough Trade. That album was always intended as a spoken word album initially (at least in his mind, if not RT’s), but unlike one you’ve ever heard – basically using the voice as the only instrument and treating it. He did add other instruments later, mainly beats, in order to make it more ‘accessible’ (though I don’t think that album was ever going to be accessible!)

    2) It’s not true that Rough Trade wouldn’t release the album – as Gary McKendry told me a few years ago, RT were going to release it as a limited release but for some crazy reason McKendry insisted at a meeting in 1993 that it had to be released on ‘Bloomsday’, the 16th June (the day on which the events of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ take place.) As this was only a few weeks from the date of the meeting, Rough Trade said they couldn’t possibly get it out in such a short space of time. So McKendry took the mastertape back and went off in an artistic huff, it would seem. And so it was never released. That’s the short story.

    McKendry kept adding to the album so there were various versions of it. I used to have a copy of it but once while he was staying with me in London around the time of that RT meeting, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him in my room ‘making a gangster rap compilation’ for me. What he didn’t say was that he was taping this compilation over my only copy of the album – effectively, removing any trace of it (or at least earlier versions of it) from the world. I know someone else who thinks he probably still has a copy of Finglas, but it’s in storage a few thousand miles away from where he lives now. One day, maybe… But then perhaps some mysteries are more satisfying left unsolved?

    3) There was a myth that Papa Sprain never really existed or that Papa Sprain and Butterfly Child were in fact the same band. This started because we played a gig in the Autumn of 1991 at the Camden Falcon in London to promote the first Hark! eps, where Gary McKendry on guitar, Joe Cassidy on guitar and myself on bass played one set as Butterfly Child (with Joe on vocals) and one set as Papa Sprain (with Gary on vocals.) And although the music was quite different for each set, we didn’t leave the stage between the sets. As a result of an inordinate number of journalists in that small venue on that night, it was later written about as if we’d kind of conned people into thinking there were 2 separate bands, and releasing 2 records, when in fact there was only 1. If only we were that devious – it was more a matter of expediency – Gary and Joe didn’t know any other kindred musicians in London to do separate gigs with, so we did it as a three piece (I travelled over from Dublin where I was living at the time and had been playing guitar in Butterfly Child for a while.) The Peel sessions were similarly a matter of expediency. I moved permanently to London just after the Peel sessions to play as part of Papa Sprain.

    4) Whether Gary is posting music now as Papa Sprain or not, as far as I’m concerned, Papa Sprain, like everything else, was a child of a certain time period. It evolved out of a small group of people (including Richie and Cregan), almost entirely from Belfast, who made music in various configurations with Gary McKendry from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s – in the case of myself, over a period of 7 years on and off. That none of us has done anything substantial musically since 1993 says something to me about how dependent we were on each other to make things happen. Also I think Rudy Tambala, as producer, probably deserves a lot more credit for the sound of the 2 Hark! Eps.

    5) It’s great to hear those live recordings. It’s a pity that the 1992 one, which I am playing guitar on, is such a poor bootleg recording. Although it’s kind of miraculous that anything exists at all. Though we did a lot of gigs that year, touring with the likes of the Boo Radleys & Pale Saints, and Godmachine & the Hair and Skin Trading Company, I don’t remember us ever making a sounddesk recording of any gig. Partly because, being in our early 20s, we probably didn’t have a sense of recording things for posterity, and also because we didn’t imagine at the time that the whole PS venture would be over so soon. But also, as our live sets at that time were mostly improvised, it wasn’t as if we needed to record a definitive live version of a song, because largely there weren’t any song structures.

    6) Were we post-rock? Was Jesus a Christian, the Buddha a Buddhist…? All of these are terms applied after the fact. Well, if post-rock means using conventional rock instruments whilst attempting to get beyond the clichés of rock, then you can say we were. We all started out in post-punk bands, went through Indie and conventional song structures, and ended up in some freeform place, close to free jazz, where form was being more or less deconstructed, and which looked at the time like a vast space of possibilities. But too few boundaries can be just as much an artistic cul-de-sac as the constriction of too many. Sometimes it was magic, but as Zidane is quoted as saying in ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’: ‘Magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all.’

    Reply
    • 48. Richard Reynolds  |  October 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      Hiya Tony! Long time …

      I remember the first live recording, pretty sure it’s as support to “The Cranes” at the Marquee in London. Think the sound guy, who came with the Cranes, just decided to do it off his own bat as he took a bit of a liking to the naive Irish boys 🙂

      I vaguely remember listening to it in the car on the way back to Gary’s and him complaining about being able to hear my Belfast accent on the backing vocals, though I’m not sure there were any backing vocals …

      Reply
    • 49. cregan  |  October 25, 2009 at 6:50 am

      are you comparing Gary McKendry to Jesus, Tony?

      he’s not the Messiah. he’s a Very Naughty Boy.

      Reply
      • 50. Tony McKeown  |  October 26, 2009 at 3:48 am

        Most certainly not.

        If he’s the Messiah, we’re all f*cked !

  • 51. Biggie Samuels  |  October 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

    The main thing I take away from this is that, even if I do get to hear the bloody album, I’ll never be sure that I’ve heard the finished version – if indeed there is one.

    Reply
  • 52. Biggie Samuels  |  October 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    “I vaguely remember listening to it in the car on the way back to Gary’s and him complaining about being able to hear my Belfast accent on the backing vocals, though I’m not sure there were any backing vocals …”

    Eccentric genius ahoy!

    I used to see the Cranes around town when I lived in Portsmouth. You could spot them a mile off because one of them would always be wearing a huge furry Russian army hat. I have a 12″ by them called “Tomorrow’s Tears”, which I remember being really good. Funny how none of my post-rock/shoegaze/new age post-punk-loving contacts seem to be into them.

    Reply
  • 53. Richard Reynolds  |  October 22, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I just remember their horrendously long sound checks, bass drum, snare drum, bass drum again …
    They were a friendly bunch though. Prawn sandwiches in their rider, and a lot of Garlic.

    Added another couple of tracks on http://www.myspace.com/jasalmon
    A local studio recorded version of toppled and another 4 track one that I can’t remember the name of so I called it “bump, Bump …” you’ll know why when you hear it.

    The amount of cassettes I’ve found, could probably add a song a night until Christmas!

    Reply
    • 54. Biggie Samuels  |  October 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      All I really want at this stage is some kinda copy of Finglas After the Flood or whatever it was called.

      This is the 50th comment on this post!

      Reply
  • 55. Tony McKeown  |  October 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    All you really want for Christmas is some kinda copy of ‘Finglas Since the Flood’… I’ll have a word with Santa 😉

    (Hi Richie, a lifetime later… 🙂 ‘Bump bump’ was actually called ‘Sun, Sin, Sand’. I probably have all the ‘Arsonists’ stuff by the way.)

    Reply
  • 56. Richard Reynolds  |  October 23, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Oh yeah! SSS, it’s all coming back to me now! I’d even forgotten “Arsonists”!
    The Catherine Wheel – now there was a band 🙂

    Reply
  • 57. Tony McKeown  |  October 23, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Richie, if you find any Catherine Wheel demos let me know!

    (This was a post-punk band me and Gary McKendry were in in 1987 – not to be confused with the English shoegaze band from the 1990s.)

    Reply
    • 58. Richard Reynolds  |  November 1, 2009 at 6:40 am

      Gary’s bound to have some, if he hasn’t taped over them with recordings of his vacuum cleaner. Next time I’m at his I’ll see if I can nick them while he’s making the tea.

      Reply
  • 59. Biggie Samuels  |  October 27, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Weird that I said May represents a step back from abstractions as – listening to it again – I realise that one of the tracks is beat-less instrumental drone piece.

    Reply
  • 60. grahamparker  |  October 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I seem to remember a compilation of 9 Belfast bands around that time called, er, “9” with a couple of Ja Salmon tracks on it. Was one of them called ‘Three Four’? Remember loving it at the time…

    Reply
  • 61. Biggie Samuels  |  October 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Yeah, I listened to a couple of Ja Salmon tracks on Myspace and they seemed really good.

    Reply
    • 62. cregan  |  October 29, 2009 at 9:42 pm

      haha! Ja Salmon revival!! now where did i put that live recording?

      Reply
      • 63. Richard Reynolds  |  November 1, 2009 at 6:42 am

        There’s a live recording? God help us all.

  • 64. Gareth  |  November 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Hi,

    Sorry to barge into this discussion, really interesting stuff.

    I’ve uploaded the long lost Papa Sprain & Butterfly Child version of Donovan’s Lalena here – (hope this works, never uploaded to rapidshare before).

    http://rapidshare.com/files/301558317/lalena.zip

    Took me a long time to track this beauty down. Hoorah for Ebay.

    I also have the remix of Flying to Vegas if anyone is interested?

    Oh, and I have some real audio files of Roo Nation too, but after reading this page I’m not sure it’s anything to do with Papa Sprain or not. I found them about 10 years ago on some new media site. They were claiming it was “former Rough Trade star who used to be Papa Sprain” (or something like that!) Quality isn’t great, but I can share them if anyone would like to hear them?

    Reply
    • 65. cregan  |  November 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

      Roo Nations stuff was on the same site as some of garys at one time. right beside each other. thats where the confusion comes from. they were an indie band from Belfast and nothing to do with gary.

      Reply
  • 66. rudy  |  November 4, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Do y’all remember “My Bus”?
    This was the band name on the original 4-track demo tape that gary brought over – to H.Ark! studio -from Belfast, first time we met. It sent goosebumps all over – took 30 seconds to know I had to work with Gary. JoeC was the icing on the cake.
    I have heaps of tapes stored away – but where?

    This is a fine blog, sirs

    Rudy

    Reply
  • 67. cregan  |  November 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    wow, its Rudy. My Bus was Gary and Joe. i dont think the bus was big enough for both of them.

    but anyway. forget about PSprain. what about that ARKane reunion?

    Reply
  • 68. Biggie Samuels  |  November 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Wow is right! Any chance of Rudy getting involved with Not Me (https://bubblegumcage3.com/2009/11/02/not-me-presents-the-acid-folk-remix-project/)? Didn’t think so. ;]

    Hmm… Judging by the credits on the cover of Ghetto Speak, it’s actually a My Bus E.P., which might explain why I like it so much better than anything else by Butterfly Child.

    Reply
  • 69. cregan  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    ..which is why B Childs “Onomatopoeia” is credited as “Produced by My Bus”.

    i cant imagine what would have been on that tape though unless Gary was toying with the name My Bus for the essentially nameless at that point Papa Sprain. or else he and joe had done stuff that the rest of us never heard.

    My Bus was supposed to be the name of the McKendry/Cassidy supergroup that he ostensibly sacked us in order to form after Flying To Vegas.

    anyway…do AR Kane need a bass player for this reunion? i can play Crazy Blue backwards. im sure if i practiced lots i could learn to play it forwards too.

    Reply
    • 70. cregan  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm

      are you trying to form a supergroup of your own Samuel?

      Reply
      • 71. cregan  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm

        Gary isnt playing anything on either Ghetto Speak or Onomatopoeia, as far as im aware. they were both recorded in his house though with equipment they bought together from the advances from Rough Trade.

  • 72. Biggie Samuels  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Not Me is supposed to be a kind of supergroup, I guess but I’ve never had that much luck getting people to participate. The album is just sitting there waiting for vocals.

    Reply
  • 73. cregan  |  November 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    the only stuff i remember from this time of Gary and Joe together was a tape with loads of repeating arpeggio keyboards pretty much exactly like the track “Minimal” from the 2nd B Child ep.

    Reply
  • 74. Tony McKeown  |  November 5, 2009 at 4:49 am

    As Cregan says ‘My Bus’ was Gary and Joe, but it was more of a name (morphed from the word ‘amoebas’) than a body of material, and as far as I remember, it pre-dated the name Papa Sprain, although Joe already had a band under the name Butterfly Child for a year or two before that. Specifically, the ‘My Bus’ moniker was to represent collaborations between Joe and Gary, although when they released records separately under the names Papa Sprain and Butterfly Child, nothing more really came of it apart from the joint engineering/production work on Onomatopeia and Ghetto Speak (and yes, as far as they both told me, Gary didn’t play on either of those.)

    The material you mention Cregan was about 4-5 tracks that they recorded much earlier over Christmas 88/89, the most significant of which was a track called ‘Goosepimples Forever’ which is probably the best thing that either of them never released, and is the only track that they both sing on. You’ll probably remember that, Rudy? I know I have a tape of it somewhere…

    Reply
    • 75. rudy  |  December 6, 2009 at 6:55 am

      I do remember goosepimples- it was the reason I started the record label. Would love to hear it again – share, please.

      Reply
  • 76. Rudy  |  November 10, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Hi

    No reunions planned.
    Goobumps – yes, that become our standard for measuring the ‘signability’ of a band.
    I sorted through stuff yesterday and found heaps of tapes, dats, pictures, vinyl – quite a nostalgia trip.
    I plan to create a H.ark! records site pretty soon – the usual suspects and a bunch of lesser-know output, too.
    You guys inspired me!

    Take it easy

    Rudy

    Reply
    • 77. Richard Reynolds  |  November 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

      Inspire you? not sure. Drop a guitar amp on your hand in the back of your fiesta? Certainly did. Cregan still hasn’t forgiven me.

      Reply
      • 78. rudy  |  December 6, 2009 at 6:53 am

        I will never heal – I never played guitar again – to the relief of many.

  • 79. joe  |  November 10, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    can i just say on behalf of all record geeks everywhere, thank you for this comment thread. and please for the love of god someone do the decent thing and put together a major h.ark box set retrospective type thing. you warm the cockles of my heart.

    Reply
  • 80. rudy  |  December 6, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Hey Joe

    This is in the works.
    I plan to launch a retro site in january – details will be posted on the ARKane myspaz page (myspace.com/arkaneuk).
    I have a couple boxes of the original vinyl releases – probably give away as competition prizes – and a whole bunch of un-released stuff, pics, etc.
    It has been quite a trip rediscovering all the old music – I still love it loads.
    I’ll be looking into re-releasing vinyl, possibly CD, and definitely digital downloads – all will depend on demand – Oh, and an absence of FREE downloads 😉

    Take it easy

    Rudy

    Reply
  • 81. Cybore / UK Post-Rock Shows Its Roots!  |  February 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    […] Sam discusses Papa Sprain. He’s mad about UK Post-Rock that geezer! He even has his own UK Post-Rock Forum, what a trooper! I have that “May” one on H.Ark! and also the Butterfly Child one, which is like a toothless MBV, reminds me a bit of Huey Lewis and The News, and which disc in the “flesh” has almost exactly the same sleeve as the Papa Sprain’s. Same colours/designers/lithography – kind of like Russell Mills on a shoestring. The Papa Sprain disc is infinitely superior though. Actually I can confess with some embarrassment that I didn’t know H.Ark! was Rudy and Alex’s label until now. […]

    Reply
  • 82. MY MONOCLE HAS COME FLYING OFF  |  February 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    DON’T ALL YOU COOL MUSIC GUYS HAVE SOMETHING BETTER TO DO?

    Reply
  • […] After what seems like months of coaxing and cajoling, CSAF Records has (sorta) managed to persuade Papa Sprain to (somewhat) come out of retirement.  r3vR3nd R-50n15X5 is a strictly temporary, one-off improv […]

    Reply
  • […] bonus feature is Papa Sprain’s Live at the Marquee 91 bootleg, which sees history’s most tragically under-appreciated avant rock band on absolutely storming form and surpasses anything the band ever actually released. Click here to […]

    Reply
  • 85. Frank  |  October 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    This song ‘Goosepimples Forever’….where does one find such a thingy? Thanks for the Butterfly Child ’92 Peel Sessions – great. he was great when he had the high voice going. Did anyone upload the 2nd set of BC sessions?

    Reply
  • 86. onoman  |  February 21, 2011 at 3:13 am

    damn it. damn it damn it. Just found this thread abotu one of my favourties bands ever with some interesting stuff from the participants and too late for the live gig links…any chance of reupping. I have a record label in my spare time and would be overjoyed to help in reissuing the Papa Sprain material in any way.

    Reply
  • 88. Neil Sheppard  |  March 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    My what a blast from the past, I met Gary at uni over cups of tea and was enlisted as their lighting guy for the Boo Radleys, Pale Saints UK tour in ’91.
    Vaguely remember the first gig in Middlesrough asking Gary what sort of lighting he wanted and he replied “pretty dark really”
    Our van got stolen outside the gig at Newcastle Riverside, remember carrying the amps out to where it should have been and looking around in a now where did that go kinda way!

    Lost track of Gary a year (and many cups of tea) later when we both dropped out of uni (I think, alot was being smoked back then)
    Tony, hows things? Be good to catch up…

    Reply
  • 89. Biggie Samuels  |  March 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Blimey, this post is becoming Friends Reunited for 40-year-old Belfast indie rockers. Now, can somebody please clear up this controversy?..

    https://bubblegumcage3.com/2011/02/24/dream-rock-noise-pop-in-videos-a-r-kane-baby-milk-snatcher/

    Reply
  • 90. Tony McKeown  |  March 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Neil,

    By some weird coincidence, you popped into my brain on my way home tonight – must be psychic or something. Send me a message with your email address to my Myspace page:
    http://www.myspace.com/mckeowntony

    I can remember getting all our stuff nicked outside the Newcastle Riverside – about 10 years later I met a guy by chance who was one of the people running that venue at the time – he was appalled and embarrassed to discover our vehicle had been nicked while we were performing in there. As we were on tour and as I’d not long arrived over from Ireland, I think the only clothes I owned at that point were the ones on my back!

    Reply
  • 91. bobby cairns  |  June 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry to bump this thread again, but for some reason i was thinking of Ja Salmon tonight and their version of “walking on sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves!! so i find myself here after a few google searches and seeing a few names from the past. I’ve still got a poster of a gig i promoted in Belfast with Ja Salmon supporting Cornershop in the back room of a pub near the art college. Fantastic….that’s all….

    Reply
  • 92. Biggie Samuels  |  June 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    It never ends does it?

    I really should listen to some more Ja Salmon. The bits I heard sounded great.

    Let’s keep it going people. A hundred comments or bust!

    Reply
  • 93. cregan  |  August 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    youre not Bobby. youre Iain.

    Reply
    • 94. richie  |  April 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      He’s a very naughty boy

      Reply
      • 95. Biggie Samuels  |  April 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

        Hey, I’ve heard that album – he’s definitely not the messiah.

  • 96. biggles  |  November 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I was talking to Gary last week, he said he has put new stuff up on myspace

    Reply
  • 97. Albums of the Year 2012 « Bubblegum Cage III  |  December 15, 2012 at 2:46 am

    […] – I Had a Dream (Not Not Fun) cassette Best indie rock band in Vancouver? Sounds a bit like Papa Sprain! Worth breaking the Not Not Fun boycott […]

    Reply
  • 98. onomatopoiea records  |  November 14, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Anyone out there got Finglas After The Flood. I would release it.

    Reply
    • 99. Biggie Samuels  |  November 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Dare I say you might change your mind if you actually heard it? I’d rather see someone do a double LP with both EPs, the Rough Trade 7″ and the Peel Session all in one place.

      Reply
  • 100. onomatopoiea records  |  November 17, 2014 at 2:39 am

    I’d do a ‘complete Papa Sprain’ like a shot. I like See Sons Bring Some More Out Tomb We Enter and imagine that Finglas is exactly that sound. Would happily hear alot more of that.

    Reply
    • 101. rudy  |  November 17, 2014 at 5:49 am

      Hi
      I have/own (a spurious concept in these modern times)the masters to PS EP’s,, Lalena, an a sprinkling of alt takes. I’d happily let them be re-released but the question to ask is, who will buy them? It’s not cheap putting tracks out – I have been ‘discussing’with OLI for months over the ARKane catalog and they bemoan the expense of vinyl releases.
      Maybe they should be mp3 only and have no cost associated. But does one value that which has no cost?

      Reply
      • 102. onomatopoiea records  |  May 27, 2015 at 4:53 am

        Costly yes but worth it. For me it’s not about the cash.

  • 103. onomatopoiea records  |  November 17, 2014 at 6:40 am

    A fair question Rudy. It’s all available all the time on ebay for people who want physical copies. PS is a band that has a very small but very intense following. I’m a lifer for sure. My label is done for love as which is for the best from a financial point of view. 😉

    Reply
  • 104. Biggie Samuels  |  November 20, 2014 at 12:29 am

    My attitude to releasing records has always been: the amount of money it costs is the amount you’re going to lose. Any money you get back is a bonus. I’d love to see some crazy person press up 300 copies of something Papa Sprain related, though I’m probably not feeling quite that crazy right now.

    And Rudy: Tell the folks at One Little Indian that I – for one – would snap up a vinyl re-issue of the second AR Kane album. Oh and they should reissue DI Go Pop on vinyl, so people don’t have to pay $100 for it on eBay anymore. They’d definitely make their money back on that one.

    Reply
  • 105. Joe  |  May 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    There are actually two versions of Finglas Since the Flood, The original which was delivered to Rough Trade in 1993 and a later version from 1996. I have both but until Gary changes his mind they will have to stay up in the attic.

    Reply
  • 106. Biggie Samuels  |  May 11, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    The version I’ve heard (can’t see the point in continuing to be coy about the fact that I’ve heard it) is presumably the 1993 version and I assume the 1996 mix is the one where Gary added drums to make it “more commercial”. Didn’t realise there was such a big gap between versions. Honestly, I think there’s a great “Tech Yes”-style EP hidden in Finglas but – on the whole – the world at large is not missing out on too much.

    Reply
  • 107. Biggie Samuels  |  May 12, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Oh wait, Joe is Joe Cassidy of Butterfly Child? I suppose that had to happen, didn’t it?

    Knowing how good Geoff Travis was to Arthur Russell and Ian Crause during tough times, I fully believe that the non-appearance of Finglas was not his fault.

    Now, while I have Joe’s attention, maybe I can get him to explain Gary’s role in BC’s Ghetto Speak EP. Somehow, I have developed the hunch that record was a Joe/Gary collab.

    Reply
    • 108. Joe  |  May 12, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      There was no collaboration on Ghetto Speak. The BC album got delivered and Geoff asked for an EP immediately. It was written/ recorded over a weekend. Gary pressed the record button a few times. That is all.

      Reply
      • 109. Biggie Samuels  |  May 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm

        Funny that Ghetto Speak was a rush job. Sounds so nicely crafted! Definitely my favourite BC release, FWIW.

  • 110. Joe  |  May 12, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    It wasn’t a rush job. We just recorded the newest songs back then. And i liked that keyboard.

    Reply
  • 111. gary martin mckendry  |  May 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Spike Milligan’s silent walk on…..one one one….how do these things work….press this??????

    Reply
    • 112. Biggie Samuels  |  May 16, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Don’t know if this is for real but it certainly sounds like the kind of thing Gary would post on the Internet, doesn’t it?

      Reply
      • 113. gary martin mckendry  |  May 17, 2015 at 2:41 am

        I am truly humbled by all your…,.mis-information!!!!!

      • 114. Joe  |  May 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm

        Gary, great to see you here btw xo. If you feel like it, tell your own version of events. Mis-information is what happens when people try to recall facts from 22 years ago. Or…say nothing (maybe the best option).

  • 115. gary martin mckendry  |  May 17, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Well, what to say? I suppose it figures as a document of my nervous illness (a la judge shreber) except my version ended up “in process”.

    At the time 92-93 I was trying to figure out what my album for rough trade was gonna be. Touring had really knackered me and my voice was wrecked from “smokin” and I hadn’t written any new songs for while. The only material I had was noise guitar recorded on 4 track and I didn’t think that would be good enough quality for a release even tho I used some for “techyes”. I think at the time overall I was becoming more disillusioned with music business in general et al…so I returned to Belfast – I thought this is where I wrote before so maybe…anyway I was thinking about an album and I didn’t have any songs I wanted to put on it and I was also thinking of all the music that was out there in the “world” constantly released so much still baffles me so I figured better do something different….

    I had been improvising mostly on stage and I was thinking “how could the voice be improvised?” – that is “systematically” and I figured automatic writing!!!! then that turned into “how could thoughts be improvised?”…I had been reading finnegans wake for a year or so and I opted to use that to create new words I think I chose something like the first three letters or maybe first syllable from every eighth line that is at the start of the line and voila I had all my lyrics for an album. The next part was “how do I sing them” and someone had lent me Burroughs cut-up films and thinking about cut ups I could record snippets of the text onto 4 track and divide it up into phrases and maybe…also I wanted to emotionally charge the voice so meaning would come out of the phrases and I was thinking of sort of jazz noise as if the voice was John Coltrane’s saxophone or something….

    So I started and to my surprise delight horror it started to make sense, to me anyway and I was literally over the moon but alas I lost it. It was too too much I ended up like Nietzsche in triest. The nonsense made sense phenomenologically that is interpretatively and I ended up with a broken mind and a broken record and eventually a broken career….aaahhh.

    So anyway I couldn’t release it because it was never really finished with….it wasn’t Geoff travis who refused to release it it was I…and I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything new I was never happy with anything…so there ended papa sprain’s career.

    Looking back on it was an ok idea but just badly attempted…if any of it can be seen salvageable it would have been Part III cos that was the only one was a second take so the “meaning” was sort of familiar to me – it’s the one with the breathing – the version with music was just a charade and defeated what purpose was in the original idea.

    I think rough trade let me do two masters (maybe maybe not) but when I said I wasn’t happy with either then neither were they. Geoff travis put me in a studio for a couple of hours to see if I could come up with something but by this stage I was toooo mad and uninspired at the same time. They finally lost it when I asked for more money and let me go!,,was I a tax loss (ha I guess we’ll never know)

    So, that was that….hope some questions have been put to bed and you can all well whatever you want to I suppose however forthwith etc et al London Jerusalem the way the unconscious weather the greetings when the eyes roll back in the head heart hearth art…..

    You should check out my sound cloud site!!!

    What I really want to know is “where did tony mckeown get a piano from” ahem????

    Have I brought you all down???? Never mind the sea shall bring forth new toys for you all to play with

    Reply
    • 116. Tony McKeown  |  May 18, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Hi Gary,

      Glad to see you are still alive and kicking.

      Where did I get a piano from? Why, from a piano shop, of course. 😉 (Are you referring to my recent piano pieces on Soundcloud? https://soundcloud.com/tony-mckeown-1 )

      Or perhaps you are referring to that old kids’ Casio keyboard you left behind along with other assorted tat at the old homestead in Hounslow when you left for Belfast in ’92 (Hounslow, you hotbed of musical experimentation!) You know, assorted tat like an old hot water bottle, alarm clock, Papa Sprain acetate…

      I gave the keyboard away to a charity shop, but not before I recorded the odd noise piece on it (cf. my old Myspace page: https://myspace.com/mckeowntony/music/songs)

      That’s all for now,

      Tony

      Reply
      • 117. gary martin mckendry  |  May 21, 2015 at 8:49 am

        Hi tony !!! Vadrajana mahamudra kalachakra !!!

        Well I suppose if you bought it that’s different…..or did you record those sound cloud pieces in the actual shop???

        I thought that Casio keyboard got nicked in Newcastle , that was a cool keyboard…..

      • 118. Tony McKeown  |  May 21, 2015 at 9:46 am

        Gary,

        Well, you mentioning Newcastle has reminded me that, by a strange coincidence, when assisting the teaching of a meditation class in London in the late 1990s, I found myself talking with a guy who happened to have been the manager of that venue in Newcastle at the time. He was mortified when I informed him that I had lost everything I possessed, except the clothes on my back and my guitar, whilst inside playing our gig at his venue. Not that it should have been a surprise, given a statistic that vehicles were nicked every 4 minutes in that city at the time.

        By the way, pianos aren’t that expensive… Or where there’s a will, there’s a way…

      • 119. gary martin mckendry  |  May 21, 2015 at 10:28 am

        Tony

        Emm m…I’m beginning to feel like the wizard of oz….

        where are you living now, is it Brighton or London or ???

        Did Neil get in touch?? Do you ever bump into Peter Morris ???

        And the rest……

      • 120. Tony McKeown  |  May 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

        Gary,

        Well, somewhere over the rainbow, way up high – North London, to be exact. I’ve been here 23 years, but I’m hoping to get parole for good behaviour soon…

        Haven’t been in touch with Neil (my bad.) Me and Joe bumped into Peter Morris at a Cindytalk gig in 1994, I think – that’s the last time I’ve seen him. I’ve seen Joe a number of times in the past few years and am in regular contact, across the Atlantic. Check out his soon-to-be released new BC album…

        Tony

      • 121. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 7:35 am

        Yeah maybe he’ll send me a freebie….”pushed a few buttons” (shhhhhh!!!

        Anyway you’re now officially on you tube – I posted May and tech yes with Peter Morris footage and your shoulder and feet are on see sons …..Hollywood should be in touch very soon!??!

      • 122. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

        Gary,

        Well, my feet always were one of my most attractive features…
        Actually, my face appears towards the end of Noise Lessons. I’m the one smiling… I must still have a VHS somewhere of that video me, you and Joe did for ‘Love 2 Drum’ that was on BBC NI – or perhaps that should be kept for the 30th anniversary rarities and multimedia package retrospective… 😉

      • 123. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

        That’s if your big sister hasn’t thrown it away….

        Yes – strange we called it celestial plain drifters and that band on/off H.ark! Celestial tribe or was it …I always thought they were called celestial drifters or maybe not… Can’t remember…should really have done better edit on noise lessons you tube video but as with everything else creatively: let it slide!!!

        My homage to tony mckeown’s fragmented body

        Celestial tribe took endless hours to find the right sound honed particular,,,,Rudy wasn’t too pleased….I remember we caught the tube with them and I asked the guy about finding esoteric schools and he motioned his hand and qualified ‘school’s are all around” …..so that was useful pay – I owe him!?!?!

      • 124. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        No, I definitely have it… but many house moves later, I’m not quite sure which box it is in.

        My fragmented body is holding together quite well…

        They were called Celestial Tribes – I think they only released one track on a Volume cd and Hark! never released anything by them in the end, though I could be wrong. I think Rudy wasn’t too pleased about them discussing esoteric woo woo in interviews. Yes, I remember that tube trip with the guy – I think we ended up in Watkins bookshop (which Yeats used to frequent) browsing Ouspensky (you, not me.)

        celestial plain drifters was a play on ‘high plains drifter’… I’m to blame for that particular name… though destiny rather saved me from myself…

      • 125. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm

        Yes bigger and saved and do you have 49th night in Memphis or three little oysters or veer or newer than new shoes or can’t think of anymore because I probably don’t …I think I do have a demo of a breath of fresh air and I think I might have…hold on ill just go and check….yes definitely do now who has this—-the falcon gig line up tony mckeown, joe Cassidy and gary mckendry recorded by Georgina cajic but actually only the butterfly child set because the tape recorder went wonky after / during cliff tune I think but still who has that—that’s got to be the tops–/also drop kick rain tune also maybe no longer living in your shadow demo maybe !!!quite topical that

    • 126. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Fragmented body??!? Mine isn’t….moan moan

      How much of that old stuff do you actually have. Cregan told me names of songs I don’t even remember. I had a tape of your stuff “autumn” (short and long version ) , “knee deep”, but like what seems to happen to things like that it got lost…ie thrown out…..we could always go to the landfill sites and search for them…when tape was king, phhhhhhhh

      Reply
      • 127. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        Fragmented body was your phrase…

        Gary, there’s not much that I don’t still have. I digitised my old stuff a couple of years ago, right after I digitised Joe’s old stuff for him as he didn’t have some of it – I might even have stuff of yours that you don’t have… I also have a lot of PS clippings, though not all of it and I haven’t digitised it. Just about the only thing I don’t have is a couple of songs that we recorded together straight after the Catherine Wheel – my sister did throw that tape out.

        Re. ‘celestial plain drifters’, i was just reminiscing about coming home from school one day and my mother telling me that some letter had arrived addressed to ‘celestial plain drifters,’ a week after I sent my 1st demo out (Knee deep, Autumn etc.). Some A&R person from Rough Trade asking for us to give them a call if we were playing live in London & did we have any more material? Judging by a recent documentary on that period of Rough Trade’s history, I doubt that that person was still in a job by the time I sent through my 2nd demo. The suits took over…

        Contact me through Soundcloud with your email & I’ll try and send you my old stuff. The hiss is free…

      • 128. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 4:17 pm

        I still have a bunch of the old stuff somewhere here. You remember “Bigger” etc?

      • 129. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        I replied in the wrong place I was saying I have the butterfly child set from the falcon…carnt hear for all the bats!?!?,?!

      • 130. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

        Gary. Yes. I still have Bigger, Saved, 49th etc. Some amazing songs there. (And there are other treasures…)
        And yes, No Longer…originally i was asked to work on a film called Warriors directed by Gavin O’Connor. They played me a track by The National (live) and i thought it sounded like No Longer (albeit 20 odd years late) so i decided to actually record it properly. Ended up not giving it to the film and they used The National. Which worked well in the end for all concerned 😉

      • 131. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm

        Ahh, would love to hear the BC set at the Falcon gig – it’s a pity there’s no copy of the PS set from that gig. That would have been interesting. You could probably hear the sweat dripping down those black walls…

      • 132. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        Remember David McAlmont was in the support band wearing a spangly gold jacket? I dont think the Falcon had seen too many spangly gold jackets…

      • 133. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:24 pm

        Yes David mcalmont—and where??? Is HE now???eh???

        I recall he told joe he loved Jacqueline frost because it was “a beautiful song”….he never said he loved flying to Vegas

        Disappointment…yeah I think the falcon gig has crowd conversation all through whoever was standing close to Georgina commentary on gig as it happens in situ. Actually might be Peter Morris –talking at gigs again…should give it a listen see what’s what

      • 134. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        David is doing great. Still has a beautiful voice. Last ran into him around 2000 in London. But we are friends on FB so i get his updates etc. I guess he is doing a few shows with Bernard Butler for their anniversary. Not sure whether it is the 100th or the 20th 😉

      • 135. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm

        Right, that’s Morris banned from any future PS shows – hahaha…

      • 136. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm

        There is papa sprain recording on same tape side 2 but after hum noise cliff tune (d) and during e the tape starts going wyowrwynowar at regular millisecond intervals for the remains twenty minutes of the set…maybe if I sent it to Jeff Lynn he could sort it out for us.

      • 137. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

        There was a tune we did that night that i don’t remember us ever playing again – I think it was based on a Duke Ellington bassline, that we, er, borrowed for the evening… Is that on the tape?

      • 138. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm

        I mean there must be some sort of ad/da algorithm that can deal with wonky tapes or batteries running out or maybe maybe not….my mind is going

      • 139. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        Yeah that was e, song was on money jungle–duke Ellington max roach Charlie Mingus might have been title track maybe not…

      • 140. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm

        Ha. Clearly e morphed into something unrecognisable for me after that…

      • 141. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        By that song that’s when the wnyorwnyour starts…

      • 142. Tony McKeown  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

        That’s a pity…
        Think I have to go to bed now. Save your brains. T

      • 143. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

        Do you think there’s any chance Jeff Lynn (almost said Jeff mills) will be reading this blog?

      • 144. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 7:16 pm

        Night

  • 145. Biggie Samuels  |  May 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Reply
  • 146. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Hey you lovely man,

    Don’t take anything too seriously that is said here. We were thick as thieves and stoned 23 hours a day back then. I could barely remember what day it was half the time let alone who did what to whom.
    And regardless, this is a place to discuss PS 🙂
    Would love to send you the album. You are thanked in the credits for obvious reasons.
    Do you have my email?

    Reply
    • 147. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Hi stranger!!!

      Contact me thru sound cloud

      I told him Hollywood would get in touch!!!

      Reply
  • 148. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Ha! Sounds good xo

    Reply
  • 149. Joe Cassidy  |  May 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I actually still have the Celestial Tribes 12″ white label with adorable doodles by Rudy on the label. I remember the lady in that band being quite peculiar. But i guess we all seemed a little peculiar back then.

    Reply
    • 150. gary martin mckendry  |  May 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      Astrology ?!?! It’s under-rated…..

      Reply
  • 151. Mixtape - British Post Rock - I Heart Noise  |  June 5, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    […] Read more on Bubblegum Cage ||| blog […]

    Reply
  • 152. STATE OF THE NATION, 1993 | The Blackpool Sentinel  |  July 22, 2016 at 12:15 am

    […] now, bands like BUTTERFLY CHILD, PAPA SPRAIN, THE DIVINE COMEDY and ROLLERSKATE SKINNY are better known in exile than they are at home, where […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


RSS An incomplete account of vinyl listening

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

An incomplete account of digital listening

My Old Blog

Feeds


%d bloggers like this: