In the pub with Pete Wiggs and David Best

Saint Etienne and Fujiya & Miyagi have both had new albums out this year, so it’s only right that we put together a feature for both bands. We did a proper interview with David Best around the release of EP2 last year though, and we did something fairly extensive with Pete Wiggs when Words and Music came out, so this time round we thought we’d try a different approach. What if we went to the pub and just had a chat? No more boring interview questions that they’ve been asked a thousand times already, and more of an insight into what they’re really like coming out through the topics that came up naturally. So a couple of weeks ago we sat down in The Urchin to chew the cud about being big in China, getting trick-or-treated by Gomez, rotting whales, Twin Peaks, Columbo, Bowie, Aphex Twin and gout:

IMG_0766eesOn Festivals:
David Best: We’ve just played Glastonbury
Pete Wiggs: We played last year – It was raining.
DB: It’s the first one I’ve been to where it wasn’t raining. In a few weeks we’re playing a Festival at the bottom of Mount Etna, alongside Air, which is quite nice, then another one the week after. Then we’re playing Liverpool Psych Fest, which I’ve never been to. The line up is nuts so I’m quite excited about that.
PW: We’re doing Port Eliot Festival, down in Cornwall. I’ve been going to it the last few years. The first couple of times I took the wife and kids, because I heard it’s a good family one, then last year I couldn’t make it and the wife took the kids without me because she liked it so much! We’re playing this year and we’re all going again. It’s really nice. We’re doing Green Man as well, I’ve not been to that before.
DB: We’re hopefully going to China in the New Year. This Chinese band wanted us to do a remix, and they’re really good – kind of post punk. I suggested doing a swap and it’s snowballed from there. I wanna be big in China! There’s a label based there who are interested in reissuing our stuff. I love going to places I’ve never been to, and I love the idea of going to China.

On fellow Brighton & Hove musicians and journalists:
DB: I saw Steve Mason once. There’s some really good conker trees on Pembroke Crescent, and it just so happened that I was looking for conkers with my sons and he just walked past us. When we started, one of the bands that we were into was the Beta Band.
PW: He’s really nice actually, we’ve made friends since we’ve moved down here. He DJs sometimes at the Coopers Cask. I met him at one of those.
Brighton Music Blog: Do you ever see Simon Price?
PW: Hardly ever, actually. I occasionally see him at gigs, he’s easy to spot. I was in Brighton once, and I couldn’t tell – I think it was him without his horns on and I didn’t want to say hello because he didn’t have any make up on. It probably wasn’t him at all! Do you know Tom from Gomez?
DB: We almost shared a studio with him, but I’ve never actually met him.
PW: He’s a lovely bloke – I met him through Steve Mason. I met him in the pub and then about two weeks later it was Halloween, and I’d been out trick or treating with the kids. I came back and they went off somewhere else so it was just me in the house on my own with vampire gear on and there was a knock at the door and I’d only got two sweets left, it looked really dodgy, and it was Tom and his kids!

On Hastings:
PW: A friend of mine who lives here is just about to move to Hastings.
DB: The old town of Hastings is really lovely. Me and my girlfriend were thinking of moving there years ago, when we first had our kid. It was really lovely. But the new part is just rubbish.
PW: It’s quite Brexit
DB: I didn’t really want to bring my kids up there. We’re spoiled because Hove’s so nice, with all the parks and beaches.
PW: When I was a kid in 1976, we were staying with my grandparents in Hastings and they had this sideshow on the beach that was a blue whale. It was a like a cross between something out of League of Gentlemen and David Lynch. There was these two characters who had decked this area off, you know down by the tall black fisherman’s huts, the very creepy old bit. And they fenced it off and they got this articulated truck, and they ushered you in, you paid money, and it was literally a whale on the back of a truck, covered in tar to stop it going mouldy. Just a dead whale, with flies on it. I’m still quite impressed by it though.

On Twin Peaks:
DB: Talking of David Lynch, have you been watching Twin Peaks?
PW: No, not yet.
BMB: I read that interview about you and Twin Peaks in the Quietus which was hilarious.
PW: We were kind of obsessed with it when it first came out in the nineties.
DB: I loved it at the time, but I was a bit worried – how was it going to work? But it’s AMAZING. It’s just staggering.
BMB: I got really, really excited about it coming back. We’ve got Virgin at home, with something like a thousand Sky channels. Brilliant – I’ll be able to watch Twin Peaks! But what’s the one Sky channel we haven’t got? Sky Atlantic.
PW: We’ve got Now TV for those things, cos you can watch it on that. But our kids are a bit older and we tend to watch telly with them, so we haven’t watched Twin Peaks yet.

On writing lyrics:
BMB: Do you still write in those between albums?
DB: I don’t really write music so much, but I always try and write words. So if someone says something I write it down there and then into a note on my phone. I have them by month so I have July words, then I print them off. I’ve got this folder. But also I went through the whole of Columbo and took things from that. I love Columbo – it’s so well written. So I’ve got a big folder of eleven seasons of Columbo. I’m quite interested in Kojak, but the box set is a bit too pricey. I’m waiting till it goes down to twenty quid.
PW: You know record lists, from record dealers? We used to get sent these soul ones, on paper in those days, and we’d bring them into the studio to go through the titles “Oh, that’ll do” and take lines from them
DB: I got bang into Northern Soul and a lot of old soul ballads about six or seven years ago, that’s all I used to listen to for two or three years, but the titles are great, it’s true. I’ve nicked some too.
PW: “Let me slightly rephrase that”
DB: Not even that!
PW: Lyrics are my least favourite bit. I normally leave them till last and hope the others do them. I only wrote lyrics to two of the songs on the new album, and the odd word here and there.

On Aphex Twin:
PW: He did a remix for us way back in 94, and we went around to his flat in London. It was great because he totally lived up to what you’d expect. You went in and there were keyboards all over the floor with wires hanging out, and circuit benders. I didn’t know what that was at the time, but he’d been doing it, and massive speakers which were ridiculously loud. I did actually think “poor neighbours”. We ended up going to watch the fireworks display with him round the corner.
DB: My mate Jordan, who was the Railway Raver on Rephlex, used to go around to his house and play Pong. Jordan’s lovely but he’s the loudest person ever so he’s the last person you’d want to lose to Pong to because you’d never hear the end of it. Apparently Richard James had had enough of him but couldn’t get out the front door because his flatmate had taken the keys so he climbed out the window to get away from Jordan’s gloating. He’s created his own mythology, with all these things he does or doesn’t do. He said he dreamt Ambient Works II, didn’t he?

On major world events:
PW: There’s normally a Saint Etienne gig or recording when any of these big events happen so we expect the worst. We’ve had a few – The day of the Brexit vote we were in Scotland doing a gig and in the morning we had a really sombre breakfast. We went in thinking it was going to be fine. Most elections it’s happened too.
DB: Remember when there was this craze for doing mash ups? Me and my mate did Pied Piper and Axel F on what turned out to be 9/11. I bunked off work – I was working at Amex at the time and I threw a sicky so we could do it. My mate’s flatmate was going “You’ve got to see what’s going on on telly. It’s insane”. And we were like “We’ve just got to finish this”.

On kids:
PW: Bob’s just had his first kid. Late starter. He’s about a year old I think. Bob’s eighteen months older than me, so he’s 52, 53. He’s going to be knackered, especially if he has any more. Now, me and Sarah are like “now you understand”
BMB: Are your kids at the age where you’re influencing their music tastes yet?
PW: I did used to put one of our own records on in my youngest’ s room because it made her go to sleep but they’re both doing piano lessons and that’s the only thing we make them do. They’re much better than me already. They’re both really good. My older boy doesn’t practice but my daughter will just do it. She’s got an amazing memory. She can’t necessarily read it but she’ll remember whole pieces. It’s lovely to hear as well. My son listens to music though – I don’t know what it is half the time. I know what he likes – the stuff we both like is Daft Punk and stuff with vocoders on.
DB: My youngest loves David Bowie. If we sing along to David Bowie and I sing, he’d be like “Daddy, I’m David Bowie”. And if my eldest sings along he says “Daddy, I’m David Bowie, aren’t I? He can’t be”, so I say “You’re both David Bowie – Have you not seen the Blue Jean video? There’s two of him”. And then today before I came out, we invented a game where we had to say the first line of a Bowie song and we all had to guess what it was. It was brilliant.
PW : I feel like I’ve failed in that respect. My son really likes Coldplay. Since he’s liked them I don’t dislike them as much now.
DB: It’s hard to dislike what your kids like.

On gout:
DB: I get gout sometimes. It came on after I went for a drink with Chris who runs Bleeding Hearts Recordings. Some people say it’s worse than childbirth. I haven’t said that – I don’t think it is, but it’s excruciating. I was drinking lots of fizzy pop at the time, so I just stopped all that and I haven’t had a problem in a year or so. Booze is the trigger. Everyone has different triggers – It can be things like asparagus and mushrooms and bacon. For me I always drank too much coca cola, and then if I went out for a drink, I don’t drink too much, often I would suffer. We did a show in Italy once and I had an attack the day before and I had to be wheeled through the airport, and I had to sit on the stage like I was John Lee Hooker. And it was the only show that my mum had come to so I couldn’t cancel it. The funny thing was that it was in an amphitheatre for Nike, and there was these runners, and the finish line was to the left of the stage where I was with my gout-y foot.
BMB: You did that track / mix for Nike – Different Blades from the Same Pair of Scissors.
DB: Yeah – it was tied in with that so it was around that time. And there was Carl Lewis backstage, and I was just there with my gout. It’s not a nice thing. You can control it by taking better care of yourself. But there’s also a correlation between your Uric acid levels and (this is so pretentious) your creativity. “I’ve got to not get gout but push it as far as I can so I can get my songs out”.
PW: Let’s hope it doesn’t come on when you’re on tour in China.
DB: Gout in China. That could be my autobiography.

Home Counties Fujiya

Home Counties by Saint Etienne and Fujiya & Miyagi by Fujiya & Miyagi are out now.

Sea Bed Interview

We’re big fans of Sea Bed here at Brighton Music Blog, and when we heard that they had a new single we thought that would be a good time to catch up with them. As with most things on the blog at the moment we’re not quite as up to speed as we’d like – the single was released as a digital download at the end of October – but we dropped them a line anyway…

Hi Sea Bed, how are you?

Busy, tired and looking forward to the new year now. We have a new live rig that we’ve been putting together the last few weeks and inbetween all of that have loads of exciting gigs to rehearse for and of course… Keep writing!

Back at the end of July you announced a new single which has only just got released. What can you tell us about it?

So the single Akira is a techno pop song we finished up earlier this year and released through indie label Four Thieves. It’s kind of our first real statement as Sea Bed emphasising our love for both the underground and more mainstream artists of the last few decades, but still carrying over an air of mystery as to what we will do next release wise. We have known each other for a while now and both writing and performing with very clear intentions compared to previous projects we were in has allowed our creative freedom to flow and make something we feel is unique on record and on stage.

akira-dvd-cover-artIs the song anything to do with the 80s manga film of the same name?

The lyrical content is about awakening and what road you choose to take with the important decisions in your life. With that in mind, there are strong parallels to the film. Realising that you have the power within you to positively alter your destiny is what the song was originally written around and in the manga, Tetsuo (the antagonist of the film for those who don’t know) has supernatural powers awakened in him but uses them for destruction and revenge.

The 12″ of the single sold out weeks before the release date. You must have been pretty chuffed with that?

Absolutely, It’s amazing to have support from a label like Four Thieves who believe in what you’re doing enough to get the music out there in whatever format possible. Most importantly it’s people like yourself who go out of their way to support and listen to new music that keeps the whole thing alive.

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You always have great visuals at your shows, and the band photography that you’ve had done is really strong. How important is the visual side of things for you?

100%! We take it as seriously as the music and try to have a hand in everything we do so that it doesn’t lose sight of what Sea Bed is about. We have found in the past Very quickly other people can steer your image down some very unimaginative routes. I think artists had a larger window of time pre and early internet age to really craft their identity visually and sound wise but now every minute detail that is posted can be clawed back through time by search engines so we have to be completely satisfied with whatever art forms we release under Sea Bed.

Talking of live shows, I see you’ve got a date in Shoreditch in for January. Are there any more Brighton dates lined up?

Yes that’s for the Ibiza Rocks festival, their equivalent of BBC introducing which is amazing! Brighton will see us playing the Green Door Store on the 19th November and Patterns on December 10th, hopefully beta testing our new chunky live setup.

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When you posted on Facebook about the new single coming out you hinted about an exciting new release coming in 2016. Is there any more that you can tell us?

Without giving away too too much it will be another vinyl and digital release through Four Thieves only we are doing a full EP with them! So all new tracks, a big remix for the A side and video to accompany it which will be early 2016 when everyone has recovered from the post Christmas and New Years hangovers.

You DJed last week at the launch party for Via Tirana’s new single. Are there any other local bands you think we should be listening to?

That was a great night, ended the party with a track by Clouds called Chained To A Dead Camel which for most of the people left in there made them lose their shit!

There are some really sick electronic acts around Brighton at the moment. We are vibing Troves, INWARDS, Karl Toon, Foreign Skin, Mount Bank and in the more traditional band world there is a mental new Soul act called Bathcat and the guys in Big Society. That and all the usual suspects like Demob Happy and our good mates in Black Honey which most people are raving about at the mo. Brighton’s got a good thing going on.

Clowwns / The Artful Execution of Macho Bimbo – The Interview

Clowwns have just released their album The Artful Execution of Macho Bimbo on Bleeding Hearts Recordings, and are holding the launch party this Friday at Latest Music Bar (a fiver to get in, support from Prince Vaseline). We dropped Brighton’s premier post punk / new wave quartet a line to find out about everything that’s gone on to get the album out there, and the missing lost cover version which didn’t make the final cut.

10291074_1594617410786678_4242904466216935550_n Continue reading

GAPS interview

Brighton Music Blog favourites GAPS have got a new four track collaborative release with multi award winning British-Japanese producer Maya Jane Coles. It’s some of the most exciting new music to come out of Brighton recently, and just the excuse we needed to catch up with the Rachel and Ed over a coffee:

GAPS

GAPS

Brighton Music Blog: So, you’ve got a new release out. Is it a single or an EP?

Rachel: It’s an EP.

Ed: <Puzzled look>

BMB: You don’t seem sure about that Ed?

E & R: <laughter>

E: I was wondering myself which it was! Yeah. It’s an EP.

BMB: How did the collaboration with Maya Jane Coles happen?

R: It’s sort of a long story but basically I met her years ago in Brighton at a party at my house and she was really sweet. She said she was a DJ, and we chatted about music and then that was that. Then a few years back before we’d even formed GAPS I saw her headlining a festival – it was so nice to see that someone you met randomly has done really well – so I sent her a message on Facebook and got back in touch. When we had our first single I cockily sent it to her to see if she’d be interested in doing a remix. There’s not that many people that I thought would be good for our sound, but she was always someone I’ve always had in mind. It was a bit out of our ballpark with us being totally unknown but she was really sweet and liked what we were doing but was too busy at the time, but was keen to hear more about GAPS and was interested to see if I wanted to do some vocal stuff with her. That was last summer.

BMB: What was the process for writing? To us they sound a lot like GAPS tracks that have been produced by someone else.

R: That’s exactly what they are. I didn’t do anything different to what I do with Ed. I sat in my bedsit and wrote and recorded it and then Ed took the stems, treated them, made them sparkle, and then we sent them onto Maya. So instead of Ed going to work on the production, they went to Maya instead.

BMB: So they’re basically written by you but produced by her?

R: Well, it’s half and half, a bit like me and Ed really. I wrote the initial idea, but obviously she has written all the production and the extra lines in it that you hear. So the guitar and the vocals are me and the rest is her.

BMB: How long has the writing process been going on? I saw she posted up your track Inside Your Head on her Soundcloud six months ago. And you haven’t had anything out this year and she hasn’t had any singles out this year.

R: It’s been really natural and organic really. We decided to do an EP together around Christmastime and I wrote my parts around February / March, then she was really, really busy so from then it was down to her having the time to work on them because she’s away every weekend and she has her own remixes to do. So it got written, then she did her bit, then it’s come out almost as soon as it was finished. It’s been quite fast moving in that sense.

BMB: And it’s out on Maya’s own record label I/AM/ME where your previous releases have been on Sexbeat on 7”s.

R: Sexbeat are friends of ours and they put our singles out to allow us to get music out there and still keep a lot of control over our music, which is what we wanted to do, but the EP was always going to be with Maya and down her routes.

BMB: Have you got any live dates coming up?

R: We haven’t got any in Brighton at the moment, but we’ve got a show at Servant Jazz Quarters on Tuesday 28th October so we’re looking forward to that.

E: It’s our first London headline.

R: Well, it’s our first paid London headline, so they’re advertising it as our first headline. So this is our first opportunity for Londoners to buy tickets and see us, which is cool for us. And we’ve got someone from Brighton supporting us who we both love called Lloyd Williams, who’s a brilliant folk musician.

BMB: Which leads nicely onto our last question which we ask everyone we interview. Are there any other Brighton bands you’d recommend?

R: Lloyd Williams is amazing. You should check him out.

E: We’re quite excited about bringing out the folk influence. It’ll be quite nice to get a folk guitarist play and then have us play afterwards. I think the two will fit together quite well, even though what we do is quite electronic there’s a folk influence there.

R: The scales that he uses are similar to ours, and he loves drone, I love drone, so we’re singing from the same hymn sheet.

E: Do you know Eagles for Hands? We’re big fans and good friends with him. He’s doing very well for himself. He’s played at a couple of gigs of ours before and we’re trying to work with him in the future.

R: Another band that I’ve seen twice this week is Thieves by the code, and they sound a bit like Megadeth, but they’re amazing, really tight. Beautiful riffs. They’re just putting an album out in October. You should look out for them.

In Dark, In Day is out now via Beatport and gets a general release across other digital platforms next week.

Black Rooster Black Shag – As Far As My Lead Will Take Me

Last week, Black Rooster Black Shag released their debut album As Far As My Lead Will Take Me. We were out of town for their launch gig at the Bees Mouth on thursday, but we caught up with Mirika, JJ and Dan last Sunday afternoon when they played a another gig at the Ranelagh.

BRBS s

Brighton Music Blog: So the album’s called…

JJ: As Far as My Lead Will Take Me

BMB: And where did the title come from?

JJ: Between us we came up with the title. I think it really reflected the journey of the record. We met in the Southern Hemisphere, moved to the UK and eventually settled in Brighton and I think it was that sort of journey that by the time we got to Brighton that really made up the record. That whole trajectory that we took and it kind of sums up the spirit of the record in terms of going a great distance and getting to a particular point and the fact that you can still go a little bit further.

BMB: So are some of the songs quite old and have taken this journey or are they all quite new?

JJ: Some of the songs I suppose were composed a while ago but we’ve got Dan into the band and come together as a three piece and the sound has changed, and every time we play we play it slightly differently, we never try and play the song the same way the same time twice. So in that way the songs always evolve and are always fresh and there’s always something different every time we play. The skeletons of the songs were written quite a while ago but every time we play them they’re a little bit different.

Mirika: The band club we sort of had to hold back to really be able to play in this band. J and I were touring other projects when we met so we wrote all these songs cross continentally for a little while we were touring the other projects then once we finished those records we could make this band happen. So we really willed it to happen, although we’ve only been playing shows now for nine months.

BMB: So you launched the album at the Bees Mouth last thursday. How did that go?

M: Oh man, so much fun.

BMB: Did you play in that little sweaty room downstairs?

Dan: I think we made it worse. It probably still stinks of us now.

JJ: Our audience have got a very good aroma! It was just a great night There was a lot of people that came down, a lot of friends. We had a really good time and everyone walked away having celebrated the fact that the album’s finally out really, because a lot of them were friends who played on the record and we did have a lot of people around us that helped so it was just really really nice to have everybody in the same room and celebrating not just the end of one journey but the start of another one.

M: We’ve already been demoing new stuff, so it was quite exciting.

BMB: You first visit to Brighton was to visit the Great Escape?

M: We just came to visit, we weren’t playing. SO many great venues and people were really friendly which was really nice.

BMB: Are you around for the Great Escape this year?

JJ: We’re actually playing the Alternative Escape at Marwoods Cafe, on the saturday afternoon about half past five so we’ll definitely be around.

R: Any tips of bands to go and see at the Great Escape?

JJ: I would just tip to go and check out the Brighton bands. I think there’s such a vibrant scene going on with bands here. Compared to what you see on the surface from other cities it’s unique. There’s a lot of exciting guitar bands happening. For me it’s more about seeing my friends and seeing those bands play in front of a bigger audience of people that wouldn’t normally come and see them play. Anything from Brighton go and check it out.

BMB: Where’s next for the album? You’ve played launches in Brighton, London and Barnsley.

JJ: We’re playing Eastbourne, then Nottingham, then London again, and then Manchester, Doncaster as well. We’d like to play a few smaller towns and some of the bigger cities as well. Our idea is not to have one huge tour, but to keep going out and visiting places. It’s a slower run with an independent band, you can’t throw all your eggs into one basket, you’ve got to work it a bit longer. So we just want to go out and see as much of the country as possible.

BMB: Are you doing any festivals this summer?

JJ: We’re playing Coalfields, up in Barnsley again, but that’s about it really. We’re a relatively new band, so we haven’t really hit the festivals hard at this point. We’re more into playing smaller venues for now, getting the intimate atmosphere going really. That’s where people are responding best to the music so we’re happy cultivating that at the moment.

M: It’s nice when you go to a town and you see people who saw you at your last show. That’s the best. I don’t need to play anywhere extravagant, I just want a good vibe, and to be able to relax a bit and have a bit of fun.

Black Rooster Black Shag’s album is out now, available from EOI productions. You can catch the band on Saturday at Marwoods Cafe around 5.30 as part of the Alternative Great Escape (so you won’t need a wristband).

Becky Becky video interview

In the way of the blogs, we sent Brighton’s electro-pop superstars Becky Becky some questions, thinking to celebrate the release of their new albumGood Morning, Midnight they might supply a few hesitant stuttering finger-typed words, about why House of the Black Madonna is the future of rock ‘n’ roll and how Jean Rhys could have rocked the middle-European disco had she been of a certain age.

Instead, they sent us this.

The album’s out May 1st and is available from their website at www.beckybecky.com

 

Who are… ?

Becky Becky is two people: Gemma L Williams and Peter J D Mason. Bandmates, friends, lovers, enemies. We´ve existed together in almost every possible permutation. We´ve loved each other, hated each other, walked together, walked out on each other. There is no pit of despair we haven´t pushed each other to, we struggle together… but we always remain together.

Where were Becky Becky… ?

…formed in Brighton, England, a long time ago. There have been casualties. We started making music by following a very loose manifesto. One rule that will always remain is: no “real” instruments. No drums, guitars… only electronic music.

By limiting your options, you free yourself.

Where does… ?

What´s in a name? It´s our name. A fifty-fifty partnership, making one complete whole: Becky Becky.

Why “Good Morning, Midnight”?

…from Jean Rhys´ 1939 novel, which took its name from an Emily Dickenson poem. We recommend both these texts.

And what does she mean to you?

Jean Rhys was an author often depicting mistreated, rootless women. To this day, her words are still relevant and easily identifiable. She is an inspiration and a favourite author of ours – a fact which helped bring us together.

Are you a European band now? 

We formed in Brighton and currently reside here, but we are not involved with the Brighton music scene or anything like that. We feel like outsiders here.  If ‘Good Morning, Midnight’ feels like a European record, then that makes sense. It was written in Prague and recorded up a mountain in a wooden chalet in Seythenex, a tiny French Alpine village.

Who are your musical influences?

Hot Chip and ´80s synth-pop. From Europe, the Knife and Legowelt. Eurotrash and Eurobeats too, if you put aside your pretensions. That kind of music is full of joy and is genuinely great.

Is this music to dance to… ?

When we created Becky Becky, we wanted to make danceable music with lyrics tackling serious themes. We hope you can sit and listen to it, to the stories. But we also want you to just switch off and dance. If you come to see us play live, you should definitely be dancing.

Do you have live… ?

We are not really a gigging band. We do not just play. We try and make every show unique. This requires a lot more effort these days as our ideas become increasingly more elaborate. So we do not play very often. We do not just turn up and plug in and play. We make shows.

Do you… ?

For the autumn, we are lining up some shows in Europe and we have one in New York City on the 26th September in the Pyramid Club. Our next show is our album launch in Brighton on Friday 23rd May. It will be an audio-visual show and probably the most elaborate we´ve ever attempted.

What comes next ?

Becky Becky is in a constant fragile state. Gemma is recovering from the unexpected death of her Woodpecker alter ego; and Peter is working on other projects.

Becky Becky tumblr_inline_mnmen1Xg2w1r1ougb

 

Who knows what comes next ?

The album Good Morning, Midnightis out on May 1st 2014 and available from the Becky Becky website at www.beckybecky.com