What’s the best thing about Brighton?
The best thing about living in Brighton and Hove has to be the sea. I’m from Plymouth originally and although that city definitely doesn’t have any kind of cheery seaside vibe, it is close to all the amazing beaches of South Devon and Cornwall. When I reached my early 20s and decided to make good my escape, I couldn’t imagine living very far from the sea. That may be the only reason I’m here, now I think about it?! Peace Statue to the Lagoon is my happy place. The uncool Hove bit.
Who are the your favourite local bands?
Right now I’m a little out of touch with the local gig scene. I’ve just been listening to Scare Taxi (Tara Hartley and Alexander Boag out of These Animal Men, self-styled “trash rock”) and they are well worth checking out. I’m lucky that I get to work with a lot of incredibly talented local bands and artists as producer/engineer at Church Road Recording Company. Jetstream Pony, The Perfect English Weather and The Popguns if you like old-school indie power pop. Caaw are an idiosyncratic blend of dive bar blues and East European folk. Nick Hudson and his “gothic dystopian post-punk ensemble” The Academy Of Sun are doing great things. Look out for The Quiet Earth (LP) this spring. Representing the younger generation, I’d recommend checking out Koala Club, feel-good indie rock with a strong nod to The Strokes. I have mainly just name-checked my recent clients. That’s the first of several shameless plugs! Also, I’m going to mention SJ Brett (Stephen ex-Mojo Fins) even though I co-produce and play bass but his songs, voice and guitar playing are seriously top notch. Will be making waves this year, you mark my words. See also The Also-Ran, the new solo fuzzy pop project of DC Cane from Palm Springs/Random Acts Of Vinyl.
What’s the best venue?
My favourite venue to play is The Prince Albert in Trafalgar Street. There’s no bullshit to it. It always sounds great and everybody involved there seems to be having a good time. Apologies if I’m wrong about that! I always feel very comfortable. I’ll be back there in May (date TBC) with Mudlow to launch our new 6 track EP, Blood On Your Hands Volume 1. Shameless plug no. 2! To see bigger touring bands I like The Dome but the sound is sometimes a bit dicey. I used to love the old Pavilion Theatre next door and I’m looking forward to seeing how the new development there turns out. I wish more cool stuff would happen at The Old Market. I’ve had some great times there. Mudlow supported the Detroit Cobras there many years ago and it was one of our finest hours. Lovely venue.
What’s the best rehearsal space / studio?
Obviously the best studio in town is Church Road Studio! Julian Tardo (Earwig, Insides) and Grant Lyons (La Di Da Records) opened the studio in the old Barclays Bank vault on the corner of Sackville Road in Hove in1996. It’s still the best place for independent music production with a real vintage vibe. We’ve retained our links to analogue recording with an impressive array of classic gear, combined with cutting edge digital technology. I’ve worked there for 20 years and I’m still hungry to get local artists in and work with them to get the high end results they deserve. Shameless plug no. 3! With the bands I play in, Mudlow, Beat Hotel, SJ Brett, we normally use the studio live room for rehearsals as well and it’s a great environment to practice in. As engineers and producers I’d say both Julian and I are very focussed on getting the best performances out of our clients. It’s not all about the technical trickery, it’s much more important that people feel relaxed and confident to express themselves.
What’s the best pub?
I gave up booze a couple of years ago so I don’t really go to pubs very often these days. I considered myself to be a pro-drinker up to that point and I used to love the Lord Nelson on Trafalgar Street. It’s all very different now though. I might still go and sit in the Colonnade Bar, attached to the Theatre Royal on New Road. That’s another place that feels like a time capsule. My tolerance for drunk people is virtually non-existent now though, so I prefer a café that does proper, good, strong, no-nonesense, Americano. Preferably Italian. Controversially, I’m a big fan of Caffe Nero! If I’m feeling like I want to patronise a more independent outlet, whilst out and about in Brighton, I’ll try Pelicano on Sydney Street.
What’s the best club?
I’ve never really been into clubs. I know that’s what a lot of people think Brighton is about but even when I used to go to clubs it was really just somewhere you’d end up to carry on drinking! I flirted with acid house when I was a teenager of course and I remember nights at the Zap Club in the early 90s but it was more about the drugs than the music for me!I’m a rock’n’roller and I’ve made peace with that. We used to go the Catfish Club at The Volks 20 years ago. That was quite good! Nowadays, Stay Sick and Whiskey Preachin’ play the kind of music I’d want to drink to. The only club that I’ve ever really felt truly at home in was The Bleeding Hearts Club. It was run by Chris Davies and Davey Pinnington and had homes in various venues over a 15 year period, most recently at The Rialto Theatre. First Monday of every month. I used to genuinely look forward to it’s unique blend of music, poetry, theatre and even dance. Chris was a brilliant host. It could be quite challenging at times. Pleasure and pain! But the acts all performed 10-20 minute slots so you would always be looking forward to the next thing! I miss it.
What’s the best record shop?
The Record Album opposite Brighton station is just a wonderful place. The original owner, George Ginn, has retired now but it seems to be in safe hands and continues to specialise in soundtrack albums. I always loved the fact you could tell what films were on the telly that week cos George would arrange them in the window display. It was better than any TV guide! It was the range of brilliant record shops that impressed me when I first came to Brighton and Waxfactor on Trafalgar Street is another one that’s still going from those days. Long may they all continue. I still prefer to own music on vinyl where possible and I’m trying to buy more regularly to support the industry. If we don’t actively participate in the things we say we enjoy then they will be lost in time. I’m as guilty as anyone on that score but it’s something I’m trying to address.
Where are the best places to eat?
As a non-drinker, food has become much more of a focus in recent years. I was never all that bothered before! My favourite place to go is Marroccos down by Hove beach. It’s a traditional Italian cafe bar that’s been going since the 60s and probably hasn’t changed that much. My 4 year old daughter loves it there and we always go for ice cream after a swim at the King Alfred leisure centre. They do great pizza but as everybody knows THE best pizza in town can be had at any of the 3 Fatto a Mano restaurants. My favourite is the original London Road one but they are all amazing. I also try not to leave it too long between visits to Casa Don Carlos in The Lanes. Fantastic Spanish tapas and the most jaw-droopingly incredible banoffee pie you will ever encounter. Trust me.
Who’s your favourite Brighton celebrity?
My favourite Brighton celebrities don’t live in Brighton anymore. Nick Cave and Chris Eubank! Actually, I remember Chris Ellison, aka The Bill’s D.I. Burnside, once shared a Mudlow post on Facebook! I can’t think of anyone else? I saw Cate Blanchett in Bread & Milk on Trafalgar Street once! Actually I was there at the time with Barry Adamson (ex Magazine, Bad Seed) and he’s also an ex-Brighton celebrity resident! There’s a shameless name-drop to round things off.
When was the last time you had any Brighton Rock?
I’ve had quite a lot of expensive dental work done over the years and I’m in no hurry to jeopardise that. Great book and film though!
Beat Hotel by Beat Hotel (is it a mini album? Is it an EP? I probably should have asked that) is out now: