Archive | December 2012

soundCHECK 181 – December 20th 2012

The most memorable statement I’ve ever read about live performance came from Thom Yorke, singer of Radiohead. His opinion was that when his band play live, they’re not Radiohead. They’re a Radiohead covers band.

That’s a brilliant attitude. Why should a band be shackled to performing a song a certain way, every time they play it, just because of the way they recorded it? Why not keep things more interesting by breaking songs down to their constituent elements before reconstructing them again a little differently? Be your own covers band. Reinvent. Like Thom says.

It’s a sentiment that’s even more salient for actual cover bands. If you’re going to play covers of someone else’s songs, try and make them your own. Change them. Do something differently. There’s nothing worse than some ailing pub band affecting a poor rendition of a classic, slavishly deferential to each bar, beat and melody of the original. Come on. If you’ve got the talent to play the song, you have the talent to leave your own mark on it. Besides, no matter who they are, most artists are generally inimitable. (Morrissey is an exception. Just swallow a bugle.)

So it’s not without shedding a small tear that soundCHECK announces that Maybe Naked are splitting up. Yes, the local gadabouts were a covers band. But at least they tried to innovate during their ten year tenure. Their last gig is at The Palladium in Bideford tomorrow night. It’s testament to their decade of hard work that the gig sold out almost immediately.

“The band members still get on well together,” explained Maybe Naked’s Richard Fay, offering up his last Rolo to his bandmates. “There are no hard feelings, it’s just time for [us] all to move onto new things.” New things? More cover bands. Mo Slade has joined a new mod and new-wave covers band called The Rivals, while the remaining members play in funk covers band iFunk. Good luck to them. Just can’t help thinking that a preference to shy away from their own material might be something of a waste. Maybe we’ll never know.

In other news, earthy rockers Captal ( have just returned from a whistle-stop tour of London, where they played a number of gigs in support of Lark and Kill The Dandies. “The stages were brilliant,” fist-pumps Phil Saunders, Captal’s frontman. “Excellent on-stage sound and lighting made it a pleasure to play. But nothing could quite top playing at the Bull & Gate, on the same stage that most of our favourite bands have played.”

And it would seem Captal are smitten with the big smoke. “We have been offered more gigs already. We’re going to get some recording done before going on the road again.” You can catch Captal’s last gig of the year on Saturday (22nd December) at The Old Bus Station in Barnstaple. The Verbals ( and The Silk Offenders are on the bill too – two of the most exciting bands to come out of North Devon in 2012. Entry is free, with a small charity donation gratefully received. ‘Tis the season.

CONTACT: Got local music news? Want to email me a mince pie? Do this: jharper[at] or tweet @testforpulse. Happy Christmas.

soundCHECK 180 – December 13th 2012

We are currently baubles-deep in Christmas party territory.

Chances are there’s at least one festive knees-up lurking ominously in your diary, primed to steal your dignity and ruin your waistline. But hey, it’s Christmas. ‘Over-indulgence’ is on annual leave from common parlance. So here’s another party to add to that crowded diary of yours.

Your host for this festive soiree is Black Hole Promotions, the promotions arm of local noiseniks The Dead Betas ( It takes place tomorrow evening (December 14th) at The Palladium in Bideford. But don’t expect a crown of turkey, nor prudish pecks below mistletoe. This will be a night defined by pints held aloft to performances from some of the region’s most promising musical talent.

The line-up includes the thoughtfully constructed art-rock of The Silk Offenders and the irresistibly melodic, pistol-whip post-punk of Oh Captive (listen to ‘Abandon And Fold’ at Dick Narnia and Ritalin-dodging, synth-fuelled maniacs The Dead Betas complete the line-up. Entry is a festive snip at just £4. Doors are at 7.30pm, first band at 8pm.

Like most Christmas parties, someone will inevitably be in tears by the end of the night – not least because this particular event doubles as a farewell party. Black Hole Promotions are bowing out due to financial restrictions. (Despite this, all profits from the evening are going to help local girl Jess Gatford’s fundraising efforts to bankroll three weeks in Ghana working on development projects for the charity Thrive Africa.)

The man behind Black Hole Promotions, Tobias Kennedy-Matthews, has donated incredible time and industry to putting on gigs in North Devon. He’s routinely put his wallet on the line too. By and large, those efforts go unthanked. Yet it’s hard to imagine a local music scene that’s even a tenth as rich without his contribution. Buy him a pint. Tobias is a hero.

Despite this end of days, all is not lost. Tobias will continue to host shows under the guise of The Dead Betas Presents, albeit far less frequently. And the beautifully chaotic three-day carnival of live music that is Beta Fest will continue, albeit annually rather than semi-annually. Speaking of which, Tobias has announced Beta Fest sponsorship opportunities. If you know some forward-thinking business type who would like to attach their brand to North Devon’s best-ever underground music festival, get them to post some words to betafest[at]

Finally, Jax & Trudi’s final open mic night of 2012 is a Christmas special. They have called for original Christmas covers and that’s likely to be exactly what they get from their usual crop of acoustic guitar-toting prodigies. Get creative with a remake of ‘Feed The World’ or just go and have a listen to versions of Christmas classics that won’t make you want to scoop out your memories with a dessert spoon for having heard the same chorus 10,000 times in five days. The revelry unravels at Shintori in Barnstaple from 9pm next Wednesday evening (19th December).

CONTACT: Got local music news on your lips? Let’s pretend the internet is mistletoe and this email address is my mouth: jharper[at] It’s time you and I did a little kissy. You can also feed me your news @testforpulse.