1. First and foremost let us have an introduction to the B-Leaguers and Hooligan Crooners detailing where it all started and how you ended up working together?
Jim - B-Leaguers are an original punk rock and roll band, from Lincoln, UK. Our debut album, 'Death of a Western Heart' came out early last year, and picked up some great reviews. We're constantly writing new songs, and we knew that a follow-up would be due at some point. We began talking with Hooligan Crooners online, we loved their sound and their approach to things and we share a number of influences. Both bands knocked a few ideas around, and a split mini-album was suggested. 'Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip' is the result.
Bools - Hooligan Crooners “formed” in late 2014 in the Jura, France. Nan (vocalist) had made a miraculous recovery from a very serious illness and decided to make the most of life. He’d long been involved in punk and had fronted bands in the past. He already had along some great young punks - drummer Clement Passant and guitarist Kouett. Nan and I 'met' through a Punk Facebook page I ran. When I moved from the UK to the Netherlands we met up at a gig in Paris, got on really well and I said I’d give it a shot as bassist – I had 'retired' from music 25 years before and hadn’t played bass for longer than that (I’d previously been in late 70’s/early 80’s punk bands Demob and The Blitz Boys…amongst several others). Kouett left early this year and the guitar genius that is Patrick Walker who I knew from Sheffield, UK but who now lives in Zagreb) is joining us. We live 750km apart so getting together was not easy but we soon played some gigs and released two EPs (“Hell Yeah” and “From Paradise to Hafway” which got quite a lot of radio airplay from some great independent radio stations). Mid 2016 we heard B-Leaguers through a great indie radio station and blog. We made contact and since the bands seemed to complement each other so well we came up with the idea of a “split” mini-LP.
2. So what about this latest split single,, what are we, the humble punters, likely to expect?
Jim - 'Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip' is good, honest punk rock and roll. Songs that get in your head and refuse to leave! There's two new B-Leaguers songs on there, 'World Famous (in a little town)' and 'Voting For The Neighbours' We've also put 'Rock and Roller Toons' on there, from our first record. It's a song that opened a few doors for us, so we thought we'd give it another chance to be heard.
Bools - As I said, the bands complement each other…but they are also distinct from each other. You’ll get 7 tracks high on energy…and tunes. I’d say they are all songs which could be performed with just an acoustic guitar and vocals…proper 'songs' then in a quite traditional way. Which is probably why most reviewers comment that there is a spirit of ’77-’82 about the stuff. But I wouldn’t want people to think that we are stuck in that period. It’s just that it was a time which liberated youngsters like we were then, inspired us to pick up guitars, write songs and get out there to perform them.
3. Are there any joint gigs planned, further releases and perhaps something extra - a video, full on tour, other merch?
Jim - Yes, both bands play the album's official launch night, at the Mulberry Tavern, Sheffield, Friday March 31st. It promises to be a great night! The guys from Hooligan Crooners aren't over in the UK for very long, but they're playing a couple of their own gigs too, while they're here. There's no reason why we wouldn't do something together again at some point in the future, if people like this record! They're due back later in the year, so it's a possibility we could play a few gigs together then, watch this space... And there'll be a new B-Leaguers video for one of the new tracks coming soon.
Bools - Well, the immediate future includes the joint dates in the UK to launch and promote the split album…Mulberry Tavern in Sheffield on March 31st and Treaty Of Commerce, Lincoln on April 1st (also with Suburban Toys). Hooligan Crooners have one other UK gig that week, March 29th at the Doghouse in Nottingham and then we head down to France for a couple of dates. We are certainly looking at the logistics around doing some more joint dates – whether that’s in the UK or on mainland Europe remains to be seen. Hopefully both! Having bands in different countries is an advantage because the band which is travelling can (in theory) travel without a backline and just borrow that from their hosts. That should be a big help in keeping down costs.
4. If you had a chance to play a joint gig inside a semi-roasted Marshmallow would you do it and if so what flavour would it be and would you ban all people who claim that toffee apples are racist?
Jim - Of course! A gig's a gig. Might get a bit warm and sticky, but that's how we like it! Would have to be Strawberry, though the lads might disagree. I would sit one of these people and a toffee apple down together, and encourage conversation and a meeting of minds. Perhaps it's just a misunderstanding? I never had the toffee apple down as racist. A loud mouth, yes, but racist...?
Bools - No, no, no. I never could stand Marshmallows. Not sure about my French comrades though. Anyone who says “toffee apples are racist” has probably been on the mushrooms so they’ll be fine in a short while.
5. Back on the track of sanity and can we have an insight into the ethics of both bands, their attitude to the DIY drive and what, at the end of the long and sonic soaked say, you hope to achieve with your blastings?
Jim - You've got to do it DIY these days. The industry has changed, don't sit and wait for something to happen, make it happen! The internet has certainly made things easier in some respects, you can get your music out there so much faster. Gone are the days of sending out tape cassettes and waiting months for a reply. It's instant. And you can now be your own boss. There's no middle-man sitting there taking a cut, it goes straight to the bands (who are the ones doing all the work). It's one of the main reasons we bonded so well with Hooligan Crooners. They work tirelessly to make things happen, create a scene. They run their own punk label, PWVA, aimed at finding and promoting new bands who share the same ethics and ideas. What do we hope to achieve? We just hope that people enjoy the songs and make the effort to come out and support the gigs. And not just ours. Any band that works hard and deserves to be heard.
Bools - DIY? Well, firstly there is not a lot of money out there to pay for bands like us to record and release material. Secondly, there is the major issue of having total control. Clichéd perhaps but having had some dreadful experiences with “proper record labels” there is a lot to be said for retaining control. I don’t think we want to achieve anything much other than make some records we enjoy and hope other people enjoy them too, have a laugh and provide a laugh when we gig. And stay true to what we believe in and not act like a bunch of pretentious Billy Big Balls’!!
6. What are the bests gigs you have played to date and what are your thoughts on the current scene?
Jim - I've said this before, but it's not always about where the gig is. It's far more important that everyone is having a good time. That's what it's all about. We're all in it together, no barriers. We may be the ones on stage, but the audience is equally important, if not more so. They make any scene and keep it alive. There would be little point if no one showed up. We're always very aware of this, and very grateful when folks come down to the gigs.
Bools - The next gig is always the 'best' gig. The best thing about doing this thing – and particularly the gigs – is making new friends. That’s something facilitated by social media because you make contact before gigs, meet at gigs and stay in touch. There are lots of downsides to omnipresent technologies but in this way it has really helped remove barriers between band and the people they are trying to reach. We’ve made some really great friends through this thing – across several countries. That’s great…we often get to meet up away from the band. The current scene? I sound like a broken record but things are really difficult today. The cost of touring seems to be creeping up on a weekly basis and the number of bands competing is also creeping up (it’s a good thing in a way)…old bands no longer go away, if they do the old buggers like us get back in new bands, and then (thankfully) there are all the new young bands.
7. A few bands at the moment are using gimmicks, regular tick box riffs are going through the same old motions that seems to be still in demand? How do you hope to rise and get due note - it ain't easy, I am always interested if bands have any plan of attack?
Jim - All you can really do is write the best songs you can. It really all comes down to the songs. Everything else will fall into place, if you have those. I've seen and heard bands, that on paper, should be the next big thing (whatever that is) But they just lack that one vital thing, a memorable song. No hooks, no chorus, no nothing. If you can write a bunch of what you consider to be decent tunes, just get out there and play them. Like I said, doesn't matter where at first, you just need to get heard. Get people talking about you. Pick up a few positive reviews and things tend to start happening. It snowballs.
Bools - We have no 'plan of attack' as such. Surviving is one way of raising your profile!! We just work to still be here next year and still making what we think is great music. That way the people who liked and helped last year will do so again this year and we’ll pick up some new people along the way. Other than that, working together with other bands is absolutely essential. The collaboration with B-Leaguers is a good foundation for both bands.
8. Claptrap Conker Chunks the Third has recently created a bike out of soap bubbles, various insect wings and the used underpants of Charles Aznavour and plans to ride to the planet Anal Wasp with only 3 Jam Tarts and a tube of Bubble Wrap as supply. Explain what hazards you foresee, do you think he needs any extra items to help him on the journey and should he flyer your forthcoming gigs whilst on the journey?
Jim - Good question. I'll answer the last part first, if I may? We would welcome any extra help with the flyers, if he was happy to help and wouldn't charge us too much. I'm guessing he should take a copy of our new split mini album, 'Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip' with him for company (see what I did there?) He'd have to make sure the bubble wrap stayed clear of his wheels, wouldn't be a pretty sight if things became tangled. He could quite easily come a cropper on to his jam tarts.
Bools - I go back to the mushrooms. CCC clearly needs to keep the levels-up. It’s reality which kills you.
9. Split singles are a method I always encourage, a great way for bands to help each other and get the word spread? What do you reckon the chances of you guys hooking up with different bands in the future and dispersing the din?
Jim - We're always open to new ideas. Never say never. Anything that helps to get the music heard, must be a good thing. I think more bands should work together - it can only be positive for both the bands and followers. And it helps concrete the scene. No competition, everyone helping everyone.
Bools - Our label PWVA has been approached by some great bands with a view to releasing material. If we can see our way clear to putting out more bands I am sure that “splits” will feature high on the list. The trick is to put together two bands which complement each other and have some chance of being able to support each other with a view to marketing and putting on joint shows.
10. Are there any gaps on your current cacophonic CV that you wish to fill - ambitions, desires, needs - give the nudge here dudes!
Jim - We'd love a tour support, with a bigger band. The opportunity to play a different city each night would be great. But we're happy to work our way up there. If it happens, it happens. We love what we do and are passionate about our music, so that's its own reward. Anything else that comes our way is a bonus.
Bools - A full album of 'punk rock road-trip' tunes where we get to bring in some guest musicians – a boogie-woogie pianist, an accordion player, some Mariachi and perhaps even some punked-up rembetika/rebetico. I’m serious.
11. Now then - I want you to provide me with 5 words to describe the current world, 5 words to describe your band mates and a brief 5 word statement to sum up the idiocy of being 'prejudice'?
Jim - Current world - Anxiety. Ignorance. Division. Uncertainty. Fear.
Band mates - Loud. Punk. Rock. Guitars. Drums
Prejudice - opinion not based on reason.
Bools - Too many men in suits. Cheese. Bread. Wine. Beer. Tobacco. 'Who’s gonna build your wall?' (courtesy of Tom Russell).
12. Finally give yourselves one last heave ho, push down the walls of resistance, get the doubters in to on-side shouters?
Jim - I would ask that people check out both B-Leaguers and Hooligan Crooners (both on Facebook) and that you seriously consider buying a copy of the new record (and coming along to Sheffield on March 31st) We can't do this without you!
Bools - Know right from wrong. Sing your own song. Laugh your life before it’s gone.