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diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #5

Posted: August 1st, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted August 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

Anyone who knows me will agree. I am a guitar geek. Plain and simple. 3 of the columnists on Diskant tote axes that used to belong to me and I’ve lost count of the guitars I have owned in the past. The cool brown Telecaster I bought from a USAF pilot and then sold to Luke Younger to pay my rent? Don’t mention it unless you want to see a grown man cry. The weird all black Rickenbacker I traded some stuff for and sold to Ian Scanlon who then sold it to his own drummer? There’s a story. The white Stratocaster I split in 2 and glued together, filling the cracks with Tipp-Ex and then sold to a guitar shop? That was nice. My first guitar, loved and cared for then sold to some Scottish wannabe punk rock chick. Damn. The SG I bought last week for next to nothing. Love it.

I actually own a guitar built the week I was born and sold to me by a weird man in a house with no furniture near Newcastle. Less said the better I think. I also own a guitar worth more than my Dad’s car that was sold to me for fuck all by a lovely man purely because he realised I wanted it more than him and I’d never sell it. That lesson in karma restored my faith in humanity and got me a guitar for life, or at least until someone steals it. And I’m not even getting on to the tale of my friend Tony and the £10,000 guitar he found in a skip in Los Angeles or my housemate’s guitar he bought from Dave Pajo of Slint. Straight up. Anyway. I finally accepted my position in life and from now on I am officially a guitar dealer. That’s right. You name what you want and I will get it. Guaranteed. E-mail me. I have a few bargains as we speak (nice Fender Musicmaster bass from the 70s…mmmm…).

So! To celebrate, my column this month is all about the Gods Of Guitar. My axe heroes and heroines. Let’s not be bashful. Let’s reclaim the guitar from the cock rockers and celebrate it. Written in the format of a rock magazine review. Pete Townsend does NOT feature. The twat.

Continue reading »

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #4

Posted: July 29th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted July 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

SHIT. New column time comes steaming around again and here I am under intense pressure from Marceline to deliver.

Sorry no column last time so it’s a double ended dong of an effort this time round.

After last months “I hate punk rock” columns all round (where Luke Y revealed he hates all his records which is cool because I hate all his records too) I see no reason to change a winning formula, except fuck it, I’m not in such a bad mood.

I’ll start with a whinge but it’ll get better so read on…

I was in the pub the other day and a good friend I was chatting to said she wasn’t going to see Fugazi because they’d sold out by playing Rock City (since postponed). Knowing a little about the organisation that went into booking the gig I know that’s total bullshit. Jimmy Eat World played there recently (more of which later) and it was nearly 14 quid to get in. Fugazi was £7.50. Add to that the fact it would have been the first gig at Rock City where over 14s can get in and I’m sure you can imagine how hard the set up of this gig was.

There is a far more eloquent response to this kind of criticism on the message board at www.nightwithnoname.com by the way.

The choice of supports for Fugazi was a weird one. The guy putting the show on in Nottingham is a very good friend of mine (not to mention the best independent promoter in the UK) and he mentioned some of the bands that would be playing on the tour. This is not a gripe and neither is it a big deal but it just got me thinking. The Fugazi support slot is something of an institution for smaller bands in that Fugazi occupy the unique position of being the only band big enough to pack out Rock City or Brixton Academy while remaining unaffected by managers, agents, label favours, tour packages etc. This means supporting Fugazi is the one opportunity for smaller bands to play to a packed house while remaining small, or put more crudely – without sucking anyone off to get there.

I think this is Fugazi’s intention and why, in the past, you’ve had bands like Marine Research or Pram playing on the bill or relatively small bands like The Tone or Hernandez opening up. Some of the bands mentioned this time around were odd though. One in particular got me thinking. I’m not going to go into details or even say the band’s name because this isn’t a criticism of them as a band (because they’re damn fine) or even a criticism of the way they handle themselves or Fugazi’s choice of support bands but more to do with some sort of mistaken identity.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #3

Posted: July 25th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted May 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

So anyway.

My intention was to write loads on why the notion of punk rock is bullshit but Luke Younger told me he was writing a column on why hardcore sucks so the appeal seems to have gone all of a sudden.

To be honest being so fucking miserable all the time has its downsides. My job is perhaps the worst it’s ever been in my life to the point where my bosses told me they thought my commitment was unacceptable because I flat refused to cancel my (pre booked!) holiday to go to ATP because the work load had doubled and I should put the job first.

I considered dropping my pants and placing my cock and balls on a gold tray and asking them to take a long run up and do their best.

I won’t bore you with the details. It’s all relative in the sense that even the very finest parts of my job can be equalled by a really good shit, or cheese on toast in terms of satisfaction in an unpaid environment.

But just to fill you in, I work for the northern branch of a large company. There is/was a southern branch that does/did the same job but used a totally different system to do it. The bosses decided our system was better so began a process of transferring all data from the south to our system in the north. The good bit is it hasn’t worked. But they sacked everyone in the south before realising this so all of a sudden (with just a weekend’s warning) the goalposts of my job have changed dramatically as I am doing the job previously done by our southern colleagues.

I have heard my role in all this referred to as a “challenge”. I prefer the less Record Breakers style terminology of “getting done in the ass”.

Fuck them.

Needless to say I went to ATP (though thoughts of my job tried their best to invade my mind during most of the bands) so in a break from moaning here’s my round up kinda thing.

First weekend was cool though the bands didn’t make much of an impression with notable exceptions such as Blonde Redhead who were in another league. It looked almost choreographed it was so cool. Some people found this unappealing, I just couldn’t take my eyes off them. It was telling that they kept songs from the last record to a minimum and just hit us with the rock. The social side on the first weekend was awesome though. Second weekend was the exact opposite, the place was like a morgue but the bands all blew me away.

Shellac especially.

I guess if you know me this is not much of a surprise but what blew me away was the amount of genuine heart in their performance, especially coming from a band whose reputation is founded on being blunt, to-the-point, economical, machines, emotionless.

I saw a lot of people from bands I knew watching Shellac and it struck me that loads of bands get compared to Shellac in the sense that they are an economical way of a music journo saying a band is angular, angry and sparse (in the same way as a band playing sparse, spooky music can be likened to Slint to save column space). But how many bands are as genuinely rich or deep as the real thing? None of them.

How many bands have the ability to come up with something as concise and affecting as Billiard Player Song lyrically (or as rocking musically) without feeling the need to trumpet the reasons? But Shellac call it the Billiard Player Song. How many bands would be able to write something like Prayer To God without a 2 page press release detailing (or at least hinting at) the object of the song’s venom?

Seeing Albini cradling his guitar in his arms and slow dancing round the stage with it was incredible. People laugh a lot when he introduces songs. I remember once I saw Shellac and he introduced the Billiard Player Song as being about “a sense of immense loss” and people laughed. They should have been listening. That Shellac could care less that they weren’t only makes them more appealing to me. It’s rare that a band so loud and grand can have the good sense to be subtle too.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #2

Posted: July 22nd, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted April 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

First ups, thank you for all the kind things people said about the first column and for the people kind enough to request I force my own shitty music tastes on them in the way of copying the comp tape.

I help put on gigs in my current hometown of Nottingham. We do a wide range of stuff. I won’t bore you with details. Last night we put on a show in Nottingham for the band Mates Of State. It ruled. I had a lot of fun and I grinned for about 3 hours throughout. It was one of my favourite shows we’ve done. I danced. I called in sick the day after. It raised a few questions in my mind though and got me a subject matter for a few of these columns too…

It was weird to see so many of the punk rock/emo/hardcore crowd at this show. I don’t think it’s surprising because MOS are on Polyvinyl and that label deals mainly with emo stuff for want of a slightly more adequate piece of terminology. To me MOS fit in with a lot of the stuff on Matador more than they do their label contemporaries.

So why do certain folk come to this show but if we were to put on Quasi for example (a band not entirely dissimilar in sound) they would stay at home?

This got me thinking.

The simple reason to the above question is that MOS are punk rock whereas Quasi are not. This was a punk rock show, or in some way connected to punk and hardcore and Quasi would be an indie rock show. Same reason the backpack brigade will go and see some shower of shit emo band playing verse chorus verse college rock with bad lyrics about their girlfriends but are at home watching Hollyoaks on video when Superchunk are playing at Rock City.

(Understand the column name now? I once went to a gig with a friend called Paul Warren and we decided to get to the bottom of what hardcore kids keep in their backpacks. We sneakily undid the bag of the guy in front of us and peered in. It contained nothing but a skate spanner and a bag of Quavers. I’m not sure what this means but I bet it means something).*

So!

I reckon there must be a process of analysis or an equation by which we can determine the punk rock or “backpack” factor of any given band. Imagine if such a mathematical/scientific equation could be developed! I could churn out band after band and with each one add the secret X+Y+Z formula and clean up! Deep Elm Records wouldn’t know what had hit them. I could make a fortune and employ publicists, stylists, graphic designers but never lose my punk rock cred!

Man. I could MAKE A LIVING off this.

Cogs turn…

I bet Isaac Newton thought the same thing you know. He didn’t do too bad.

So I have spent the last month deep in research to develop the Rule Of The Backpack. And, with little fanfare but much excitement I present my findings:

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #1

Posted: July 18th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted February 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

– Insignificance by Jim O’Rourke.
– Smog playing live in Leicester.
– Whatever, Mortal by Papa M and going all the way to Scotland to watch him play.
– Melt Banana.
– Screaming, “I’M A ROMAAAAAAAANNNNNNN” to The Lapse’s In Truth Loved LP.
– The Art Of Self Defense by High On Fire.
– The British rock 3 piece Gorilla playing live in Nottingham.

These are a few of my favourite things, or at least what’s bowled me over of late. Take a look.

Smell the connection.

O’Rourke’s hardly a new cat on the block and the album is defiantly retro (although hilariously fresh at the same time), same can be said for Bill Callahan and Smog. And Papa M. Melt Banana push their own sound on and on from an already space age starting point of inception but are as ingrained in the fabric of modern left- of-mainstream rock music as to almost be taken for granted.

Chris Leo has been making fine fine music for the better part of nearly 10 years now.

Finally High On Fire’s album that I love so much was released 2 years ago now and Gorilla, while amazing, are total retro 70s rock filling a void created by Sabbath and AC/DCs constant refusal to play UK pub venues. Bastards.

All this worries me. There are two explanations for it. First is that at the old age of 24 now (though I am and always will be younger than Tim Wheeler which is something that gets me out of bed in the morning – that and incontinence) maybe my current tastes mark the beginning of a decline in my interest in new music that will eventually end in me owning a £10,000 stereo and just one album to play on it.

It will be Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits. On all formats.

Maybe in 15 years I will be buried deep within the demographic that the big labels love so much: people (let’s be honest – men) who are too scared of looking “unhip” to seek out new music and with their thirst to consume still unquenched, they simply repurchase all their old albums on new and improved formats. Sure, I may be cynical about this now but when I’m 35…

Like I said – worrying.

But not as worrying as the possibility that there is no genuinely good music being created by new bands. Perhaps music has stood still?

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EBay

Posted: June 6th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

Amazing!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160246683389&fromMakeTrack=true

Plus, strange nudity trend:

http://www.snopes.com/photos/risque/kettle.asp

RE-PRINT

Posted: May 9th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

I reprinted all my posters:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin/sets/72157594212951999/

and did some limited prints of some of the illustrations I’ve done for Plan B.

Slight price increase to £5 each for the posters or any 3 for £12 (Plus postage)

 PISSED JEANSSCORCES

MONOTONIXLICHENS

TIMES NEW VIKINGMAGIK MARKERS

RED EYED & BLUE - APRILRED EYED & BLUE - MAY

TRIGGER 7PLAN B JUNE 2007

GUITARMAGEDDON

New Muxtape

Posted: April 29th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

I like this Muxtape lark. Here’s a new one I did for knuckling down to work to with some obvious choices and even some Eric Clapton: http://sumlin.muxtape.com

Toots & The Maytals – Pressure Drop

Althea & Donna – Uptown Top Ranking

Dave & Ansel Collins – Double Barrel

The Meters – Cissy Strut

Talking Heads –  Once In A Lifetime

ZZ Top – Snappy Kakkie

Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy (Electric Mud version)

John Lee Hooker – I’m Leaving

Bo Diddley – Hey! Bo Diddley (live)

Koko Taylor – Wang Dang Doodle

Blind Faith – Had To Cry Today

Dr John – Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya

 

 

Oh God no

Posted: April 28th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tommm_sykes/2436782237/

http://www.myspace.com/summerlin 

Nudity, bravery, rock & roll

Posted: April 15th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

Last 6 mins or so of Bilge Pump in Bletchley. Unbelievable.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAOkyCyKVbA[/youtube]