Tag Archives: single

Where are they now? Exclusive interview with band Cassie

IT MAY have taken 38 years, but a band is belatedly enjoying the fruits of an ode to rebellious youth first released in 1982.

The amazing story of four-piece Cassie, whose single Change My Image was re-released earlier this year by New York label Reminder Records, offers hope to aspiring artists persevering in difficult times.

Almost four decades ago, London based A.K.A Records released the single to little fanfare. The label’s demise shortly afterwards appearing to extinguish lingering hopes of widespread acclaim.

Guitarist Nigel Hayles died in 2002, but the three remaining band members — Barnet based singer/songwriter Debbie Coles, bassist Eric Biggs who lives in Ryde and drummer Hugh Kim Lewis who divides his time between Southsea and Köycegiz, Turkey —  shared their thoughts regarding the recent release and what the future may hold.

How did Cassie form?

Hugh: Cassie were known as Flirt at the time and I was in another band, I left to join the guys in around 1980.

Debbie: I met Nigel via his pirate radio station, Radio Cathy, around 1976. I started as a backing singer with the band — then known as Blackdog — and progressed to lead vocals and writing songs.

Hugh Kim Lewis, who played drums in Cassie.

When A.K.A Records went bust, did you think that was the beginning of the end for Cassie?

Debbie: Not really. We didn’t have any input into the release of the single or what happened afterwards, so we carried on. There were no big bust ups either, things just sort of fizzled out.

Hugh: We did write other stuff and featured on the IW compilation album Feet on the Street in 1984.

Do you look back on that period from 1978 to 1985 with fond memories?

Eric: Yes, there are so many stories, and I remember the buzz of hearing one of our songs on the radio for the first time.

Hugh: I remember us signing our first recording contract with Video Records in an office in Portsmouth. Another standout moment was meeting Lulu in De Lane Lea Recording studios in Wembley.

Then there was the time I got so drunk playing a gig at the Royal Sandrock Inn in Niton that I needed to run to the loo in between songs — hopefully nobody noticed!

Debbie: The first time our demo was played on Radio Victory in Portsmouth and the band getting so much interest were amazing moments.

There were regular gigs at the Buddle Inn in Niton, where we built up a local following with a combination of covers and original material. The crowd chanting requests for our original tracks and singing along to them was really special and has stayed with me.

Cassie rehearsing in the 1980s.

Nigel is sadly no longer with us. Would he have enjoyed the belated acclaim the band is receiving?

Hugh: Nigel would have loved what’s going on now. He was a key member whose enthusiasm for what we did was always fantastic — he was the heart and soul of the band.

Debbie: Nigel was a really talented musician with a wicked sense of humour. He was the founder and beating heart of the band, and was the one who kept the peace when things got heated —which was fairly often.

It’s sad he isn’t here to share in this, he would have loved it, but he lives on through his distinctive guitar riffs that make up the Cassie sound and will always be a key part of the band.

Who wrote the song Change My Image?

Eric: Debbie, but we all played our part.

Hugh: Debbie usually wrote the lyrics, the rest of us would work on the music.

Debbie: I came up with the tune and lyrics, with the band working out their own parts.

Singer Debbie Barker during a 1980s gig.

When/how did you first get wind of the single being re-released by Reminder Records?

Hugh: In December last year the record company phoned me and expressed an interest in re-releasing the single.

Debbie: Hugh then called me at work and asked if I was sitting down — I was worried it was bad news! In actual fact, it was the best and most surprising news ever. I couldn’t believe it at first, I still can’t really.

Did the song stand out for you at the time as one the best you’d written as a band?

Eric: Yes, but not necessarily the best we ever wrote.

Hugh: I agree, it was a good song but we wrote other good songs as well.

Debbie: It is a great song and still very relevant, but just one of many equally great power pop tracks we produced.

Cassie bass guitarist Eric Biggs.

Have you all remained in contact since the band split in 1985?

Eric: I only reconnected after seeing an article online last week.

Hugh: I never lost contact with Debbie, and our families have spent time together over the years. We like visiting them in London, and they have been out for a holiday to our house in Turkey. I hadn’t seen Eric for ten years, and it’s great to be in contact with him again.

Debbie: I last saw Eric at Nigel’s funeral. It is great to be back in touch with him.

Is there a chance of a reunion for Cassie?

Eric: Maybe.

Hugh: I’d be up for it, it would be great fun to play together again.

Debbie: You never know!

Jeremy Thompson of record label Reminder Records said Change My Image is proving popular, with orders from all over the world, including Japan and Europe.

Limited edition heavyweight import pressings may still be available by contacting AAA Records through Facebook or phoning them on 07530 690442.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

wet leg earmarked for mainstream success after debut single

 

Wet Leg’s debut single, Chaise Longue, already has more than 35,000 views on YouTube.

A newly formed band has released its cheeky debut single after signing with Domino Records.

Musicians Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers — regularly spotted among Plastic Mermaid alumni — have teamed up to form Wet Leg.

The irreverent duo’s new track, Chaise Longue, dabs at the inner-ear in a manner fit for the love-child of Billy No Mates and a youthful Bob Dylan.

Rejecting the all-singing, all-smiling etiquette synonymous with weekend TV talent shows, Rhian remains virtually deadpan throughout the music video, while Hester’s visage is obscured entirely by an oversized straw hat.

Chaise Longue is the first of a string of releases planned by the band this year, and a promising platform from which to launch.

Hooking, uncluttered and dripping with ironic undertones, Wet Leg’s debut single offers welcome contrast to a glut of painstakingly manicured musos lurking around the mainstream.

The song has been produced by the prolific Jon McMullen and mixed by Alan Moulder — he of Arctic Monkeys, Beach House and Foals fame — while the music video was directed by the band themselves.

Wet Leg, an appealingly peculiar double act, have captured lightning in a bottle. If they can remain authentic, the apex of their ascension is boundless.

The first of a number of live performances is scheduled for Margate on July 10, with a hometown celebration set for the Isle of Wight Festival in September. 

Dates and further information are available online at www.wetlegband.com

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Lana Del Rey: West Coast (single review)

Jonathan O’Shea gives his verdict on sultry trip-hop singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey’s newest single, West Coast, set for UK release on May 18th.

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Worthless, tuneless scenester junk? That’s the predetermined tag many cynical pop pundits have readied for Lana Del Rey’s return to the fold. In truth, expectations are divided – some imagine the release of forthcoming album ‘Ultraviolence’ will herald a genuine and concerted push at establishing Ms Del Rey as a credible pop queen for the foreseeable future. Others confidently predict the unravelling of sumptuous style over sonic substance.

It doesn’t help to refute the naysayers when a generic-sounding song title such as ‘West Coast’ pops its head above the parapet. And, naturally, the track was written by previous collaborator Rick Nowels (whose past clients include: Stevie Nicks, Dido, Lykke Li, Belinda Carlisle, and, erm, Ronan Keating) rather than by Lana herself. So far, so what?

Yet the stir created by ‘Born To Die’s release and subsequent mega-success left open the latent possibility that the idyllic package of style and substance could be within her command. And as the first single from the imminent second album (recorded in Nashville; produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach), radio-waves have long been primed for the opening tumbling drum intro of Lana’s latest ‘joint’.

Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' is set for UK release this summer
Upcoming album: Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’ is set for UK release this summer

There are faint echoes of both Tori Amos and Feist in the delivery of Nowels’ languid lyrics. She’s even brazenly nicked a bit of The Beatles’ masterful ‘And I Love Her’ riff. And the intermittent ‘You got the music in you’ refrain unfortunately brings to mind the New Radicals late-90s slagging of Courtney Love, Beck and Hanson.

Fortunately for the pouting princess of murk-pop, it all hangs together quite wonderfully. Typically atmospheric, with Del Rey’s trademark breathy vocals, ‘West Coast’ is capable of woozily insinuating itself with even the most jaded listener. ‘Ooh baby’s are ten-a-penny across the vast and all-encompassing tides of music history, but can still sweetly enrapture when delivered with such lushness. Mentions for west coast movies and rock ‘n’ roll groupies inevitably ensue, before curious cadence changes and swooning guitar solos bring the track to a crescendo, with Del Rey crooning devotion to her ‘boy blue’.

Derivative? Naturally. A mind-blowing musical metamorphosis? No. Still, the essence of what intrigues and entices listeners into Lana Del Rey’s harmonious honey-trap remains intact. An air of mysterious otherworldliness underpins a perfect pop sensibility, honed by years of vain endeavour as plain old Lizzie Grant. The release of ‘West Coast’ only intensifies the intrigue.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.