The Skinny: November 2014 Editions
THURSTON MOORE, THE KNIFE, NOEL FIELDING, SCOTLAND RE:DESIGNED, DEERHOOF, UFFE, HOOKWORMS, PERC TRAX, THE SKELETON TWINS, BALLET SCHOOL, MICHEL FABER, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, AND MORE...
THE SKINNY northwest ISSUE 20
Editor of The Skinny Northwest, Lauren Strain introduces issue no. 20:
For many of our featured artists this issue, it’s a a time of change, of entering a new chapter not just in their career but also in their lives. For Edwyn Collins and his wife, Grace Maxwell, the stroke Collins suffered ten years ago has led to a long period of recovery, including the relearning of speech – now, he has written the score for Ed Lovelace and James Hall's portrait of the artist, The Possibilities Are Endless, a sensitive film documenting Collins' recuperation and return to music. For author Michel Faber, the loss of his partner has, he says, removed the meaning and purpose of continuing to work; The Book of Strange New Things, a tale of space travel and marriage, he has said to be his last. And with his new solo LP and band around him, Thurston Moore, emerging from his own well-documented personal turmoil, has taken a step in a new direction, charged with a never-lessening vim and vigour: “I want to take it away from more standard ground,” he says of where he'd like to go after The Best Day; “I want to jump off the map.” We can think of artists as unfailingly driven, of their creative energy as a constant force; perhaps this issue is a reminder of the turbulent relationship between art and life, of the capacity of each to give each other energy, but just as easily take it away.
One band who'd probably rubbish the idea of 'chapters' or 'eras', mind you, is Hookworms, who this month follow up their almost universally respected debut Pearl Mystic with second album, The Hum. (Their second humming, if you will. You won’t? OK.) To singer, guitarist, keyboardist and spokesman MJ, it's merely another instalment in what he hopes will be a good long stretch of records; “the best album we could have made at the time,” he concedes, “but as soon as it was finished that was it for me.” To him, perhaps, making work is like a purging, and once put out there, it can only ever live in the past; it's been, it's gone, move on. Elsewhere, The Knife are calling it a day altogether – the Swedish duo are in deep, deep interview with us on page 12 – while for Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods, things seem to be taking off, him having just quit his job full-time to focus on the band (not that their engagement with the day-to-day will dim: “It's just state fucking murder, really,” he says of the government's Universal Credit initiative). Finally in Music, we catch up with a boisterouly sunny Greg Saunier of Deerhoof on the eve of the release of their thirteenth album, the Madonna-inspired (not quite) La Isla Bonita; and a candid Rosie Blair of Berlin-based Bella Union young 'uns Ballet School relates the “Herculean” task of making a debut.
Film sees some fine comic actors switch their chops to the silver screen, with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins, and Jemaine Clement's vampire-flatshare LOLfest What We Do In the Shadows. More Comedy comes Noel Fielding-shaped (so: bouffy and lithe); Clubs' conveyor belt of smart young Europeans continues to roll, this issue bringing us Uffe and Motor City Drum Ensemble, and Manchester's Krystal Klear regaling us with adventures that'll find him on @DJsComplaining one day.
There's tons more, but – because there needs to be at least one uncomfortable segue from the relatively serious to the utterly frivolous somewhere in this column – I'll end on a call to action: to exercise your democratic right to vote in a local culinary survey, namely, The Skinny Food & Drink Survey 2015! No it's not 2015 yet, but it will be soon, and that's when the results are out, which means your long-agonised-over responses need to come in before we slam the ballot/responsibly sourced veg boxes shut on your dithering little fingers at the end of November. It genuinely took me eight days to fill out the form, but it could take you as little as 46 seconds, especially if you make use of the TINY URL WE CREATED!
And if you need further convincing of why you should offer up tidbits of your local wisdom for your friendly local Food and Drink Editor to then craft lists and little pie charts out of – beyond giving your favourite local eateries and drinking holes some love, of course – it's because he stood in a wet meadow hunting bog myrtle for you (see p. 35).
Pets safe inside and sparklers at arm's length, folks,
The Skinny x
THE SKINNY Scotland Issue 110
Editor-in-Chief Rosamund West introduces this month's Scotland edition.
We had a few strong contenders for our cover this month. As you can see, Thurston Moore won out with an insightful interview offering a glimpse of life with his new band, the legacy and possible future of Sonic Youth, and an assessment of creativity on the margins of commercial success. Also vying for supremacy were The Knife, who have given us probably-their-last-interview-but-maybe-not-for-who-knows-what-the-future-holds in which they scrutinise the current state of the music industry, from Spotify to advert soundtrack success. Finally, our Northwest edition’s cover stars Hookworms gave them all a run for their money, as mainman MJ introduces their sophomore effort The Hum and discusses the intimidation of knowing that there is an eager and expectant audience waiting for the new release.
Elsewhere in Music, Berlin’s Ballet School talk about the laser precision of a drive for success, and share the love for the Cocteaus and pop. Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier marks the release of new album La Isla Bonita with a discussion of the latter-day influence the group have found in the 80s pop queens. Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods provide some frank opinion on the state of British politics, the rubbishness of Jake Bugg and the lunacy of UKIP supporters.
Books this month offers up a touching interview with author Michel Faber, discussing his latest (and, he says, last) novel The Book of Strange New Things, in the immediate aftermath of bereavement. We also take a detour into the world of hard-boiled US crime fiction, with twin interviews with bestselling authors James Ellroy and Lawrence Block.
In Film, we’re most excited about a new vampire flatshare comedy from Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, set in Wellington, New Zealand. The man himself dropped by to elaborate on the making of What We Do in the Shadows. We also spend some time with director of The Skeleton Twins, Craig Johnston, who pays tribute to his SNL alumni stars and their dramatic capabilities.
Continuing a comedic tip, we’ve got an interview with Noel Fielding, who’s been punting his new live show all over town. He talks about returning to the reality of stand-up, ageing eccentrically and why he’ll happily be that weirdo in the cape that kids point at in the street. In Art, we look north to Aberdeenshire, where new gallery project Suttie Arts Space introduces a new approach to art in healthcare. We also look back at the Cuban Revolutionary Posters recently displayed in GSA, and bid a tearful farewell to our designer Maeve, whose recent portfolio you can peruse in our Showcase section.
THE SKINNY NORTHWEST Student handbook
Editor of The Skinny Northwest, Lauren Strain introduces The Northwest Student Handbook:
Welcome to The Skinny Student Handbook, which hasn't been put together by the characters above, but please imagine it was. We hope it'll prove an entertaining guide to the cities you have found yourselves in – and university life therein. University life! Where have all the years gone eh, said everyone older than you all summer, patting you on the head. What else was it they said? Oh yeah, that these are the best days of your life. “THEY'RE THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE!” they said, chasing you out of the countryside and quickly repainting your room.
It's perhaps more useful to observe that your uni days are the only ones in which you will live in a sort of human-sized hamster run where all your immediate needs and desires are located between one and four metres away. Friends! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you. Lovers! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you, though really you would be advised against the former. Parties! They are either in the same house or on the same street as you; sometimes it's more that the house is in the party. Intellectual stimulation! It is in the library.
Sure, you should probably work hard (and you will); but the real thrill is that you are in this specific place, with these particular people, at this exact time. Seize it. Join a society, run in an election, put on a show. Unless you're a medic. Medics will be hanging out with other medics, having medic sleepovers and running medic festivals, and generally just tearing things up in a way non-medics will never know how to and will forever envy, long and deep into adulthood.
But before all that: dive in! From tips on where to find free comedy to the tale of a gap-year trek; from the history of film to a 20-page venue directory, we hope we've got you covered. Now go explore. And best of luck.
THE SKINNY SCOTLAND student handbook
Editor Peter Simpson introduces The Scotland edition of the Student Handbook:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a time that everyone has secretly been waiting for since spring. While hilariously long summer breaks are nice, the start of the new university calendar is a time of excitement and joy - there are new facts to learn, new flatmates to alienate and annoy, and new things to see and do.
While we can’t really help with the first two parts of that sentence, other than to recommend you carry a notepad at all times and wrap your smellier food in cling film before putting it in the fridge, the third part is where we come in, with our annual Student Handbook.
Over these 84 pages, we’ll bring you up to speed on cultural life across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, allowing you to jump headfirst into that whole ‘being a student’ thing you have going on.
We’ve compiled a list of the 12 of the best cult Scottish albums over the years for you to get your ears around, while in Film we’ve gone even further back in time and charted the history of film from the very beginning.
We’ve also taken a look at the theatre, comedy and club scenes across Scotland, and highlighted some of the nights and events to watch out for.
If you’re keen to spread your wings and fly (culturally speaking), we’ve got guides to the spoken word and literary scenes in Scotland, an introduction to the burgeoning tech and hacker scene, and a run-down of some of the weird and wonderful student societies to fill your weekday evenings.
If you fancy travelling we have a tale from the depths of the Thai jungle that will both inspire and terrify you, and our resident agony uncle Fred Fletch has provided his advice for the year ahead, which will also inspire and terrify you.
On top of all that, we’ve also put together a guide to well over 100 of the best places to eat, drink, dance, watch and be otherwise culturally active in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. We’ve even provided maps, so you won’t get lost.
Consider this Handbook your indispensable introduction to cultural life in Scotland’s cities. Carry it with you at all times, along with that notepad from earlier. You might need to get a bag. And a coat.