Hailing from Portland, Oregon (via East Preston, in the case of 50% of the band), The Gutters have arrived from the US for a four date, five venue mini-tour of the South East.
Starting in Shoreham, at the Dark Star pub- The Duke Of Wellington, the tour continued to Bar 42-Worthing, heading to the capital on All Hallows’ Eve, at Dalston Victoria and then ending proceedings with two shows the same day in Brighton with a Matinee show at The Albert before rounding things at The Cowley Club in the evening.
I caught up with the guys for the first two shows.
The Duke Of Wellington is a new one for me. A great little traditional pub- with excellent ale, wooden floor and stage set in the corner.
First up tonight are Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion with their nuggets fuelled garage.Offering us classics from bands such as The Sonics, 13th Floor Elevators, Link Wray, ? And The Mysterians and Love- I really can’t believe this is the first time I’ve seen them! It wont be the last. Hi-Hat issues didn’t hinder this well-oiled machine as it chugged out tune after tune of essential 60’s gems. Go see ’em!
Subdued lighting, wiffs of incense and a bang of a hand held cymbal announce the arrival of Noisferatu! All Hail Thee Radish. The small red vegetable is handed out to the bemused audience as Noisferatu resurrect the tradition of Radish Worship at Samhain (probably). The vocals, chants and cymbal banging are warped with sonic precision via electronic doo-dads under the expert control of a Masked Noisferatu sound wizard. Confused? You will be.
“Buy The T-Shirt!”
Time for our Trans-Atlantic cousins to take the stage.
The drum and guitar duo proclaim to play traditional English music. Which they do. If Traditional English music to you is raw, stripped down punk being the backdrop to vignettes about love, life and whether you should make a 7” or not.
It is to me.
Swapping regularly between instruments, Sid and Danny crash through these mostly sub-2 minute stories, whether they are embracing the digital age (Laptop pro), venting their distrust in the media and the dystopian present (1984- with 1-9-8-4 count in!), cataloguing the uncertainties of the physical musical format (Should We Make A 7” ?) or describing the hum-drum life of dead-end towns (LA. In fact it wasn’t until the line ‘it never rains in LA’ that I realised they weren’t talking about Littlehampton!)- these White Noise Troubadours approach each subject with equal fervour, passion and violence. Most important of all, they are a lot of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Chatting to the pair afterwards it was soon clear that these were two honest, down to earth, decent chaps, and a pity that they’re only over here for a week or so. This also meant that I was definitely going to the Worthing Leg of this tour.
An up and coming place, Worthing. Tour manager Kev, has his shop there- Train Of Thought Emporium and Gallery, boasting an art space that has hosted a few artistes collections, as well as a Talk by Travis Elborough about the Long Playing Record. Hopefully this will be the ‘hub’ for events in the future- helping to wake up this sleepy seaside town.
Bar 42 regularly hosts live bands and has a dedicated music room ‘out the back’ with faux-fur lined walls(?), rock seems to be the dominant genre, with it being played through the venue as well as that age old favourite- black- being the common theme.
The Jem are the opening act tonight. Mid-twenties bassist is joined on stage by an older chap in velvet blazer, paisley tie, window pane slacks and brogues. A repetitive drum rhythm fills the room from a small drum machine, this is filled out with a simple but effective bassline. A dicta-phone is placed to the microphone, and a crackled voice emanates from it. The guitar starts with simple chords and snatched lines (hinting, unfinished) are repeated by the lead guy. With various props (hand shaped fly-swatter, ceramic gravy boat, head of a cuddly toy bear) they are like the bastard child of Frank Sidebottom and Suicide. A bottle is used to slide on the guitar- if there was anyone wondering what was in the bottle before emptying- it’s ok, sellotaped to it is a piece of paper with the word ‘Ketchup’ on. A small, hand held Casio keyboard is placed on the guitar pick up, making otherworldly noises- all the while the incessant beat drives forward and the cut-up vocals are said. Jem at times remind me of The Normal- but in reality they are anything but ‘normal’.
The sax fronted surf of The Squadron Leaders is the next band to perform. I’ve seen these plenty of times over the years, but this is the first time I’ve seen them with a bass player in the form of latest addition, Becky. Playing a few old favourites from their Greatest Hits 1939-1945 collection, as well as gracing us with a few newies, the familiar Dick Dale sounding guitar, film samples and Kerry’s sax entertaining the swelling masses in this room that is getting far too hot for October!
A familiar smell fills the air and along with it the tell-tale Klang! of a cymbal- yes, Noisferatu are here. Their ranks have been increased too with the presence of a bass player, giving an extra sonic-angle as well as a sped-up, backwards showing of the classic film ‘Nosferatu’. Radishes are again distributed and the spooky electronic sounds and drones fill the room. ALL HAIL THEE RADISH is written in chalk on the floor followed by characters of an unknown long forgotten language.
Noisferatu bow then leave.
The night is completed by our new favourite band- The Gutters. There is a different tracklist tonight, keeping things fresh by rotating their back catalogue, as well as keeping in a few old favourites. The drums sound better- no Hi-Hat troubles. Danny is sporting plasters on his fingers- wounds generated by strings or skins or both, as each instrument is hammered into submission by it’s player. There is good humour and banter- there are a lot of smiles in this room.
After the gig I bought their album (18 tracks!) and 7” (5!)- if you don’t manage to catch them in Brighton before they return home- you can get both from their Bandcamp page here.
I hope they return in the future for more of the same, as they bring a rawness, energy and honesty rarely seen in these over produced times.