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Liverpool Sound City 2012: Initial impressions and festival launch party

By on Wednesday, 6th June 2012 at 2:00 pm

You might be surprised to hear it after sunny Brighton, but I was really looking forward to heading oop North and on to Liverpool for Sound City. It really is like being in a different country, going from as far south as possible on English land up to the Northwest’s biggest port city. It’d been 5 years since my last visit to ‘pool and I was quite excited. A security man in the Lime Street station helped me with my bag, said he enjoyed my accent (which seems to be a running theme whenever I visit blighty?) and directed me to help his coworker figure out a honeymooning place for he and his future wife in America. Do I look like a travel agent? Maybe it is my disarming American nature. Or my bashful grin. Who knows!

I had a “pinch me I’m in Liverpool” moment realising that indeed, the place I’d chosen to hang my hat for 4 days and nights was within sight of the Liver Building. Upon arriving at my hotel, an old but kindly old man helped me carry my bag up the steep stairs into the lobby and all he wanted was a hug. I couldn’t say no. Besides, the man was wearing a red Liverpool F.C. jacket and then unzipped it to reveal further LFC kit. Yep, I was definitely in Liverpool! (Unfortunately, while I was having lunch next to a tv tuned to Sky a couple hours later, I learned that they’d given the boot to Kenny Daglish. I decided then it was probably not the week to visit either Anfield or Melwood. Next time. Instead, I spent the sunny day taking some snaps of the Albert Dock.

That evening, I was pleased to be asked to join an invite-only party at the Town Hall, the official launch to this year’s Sound City festival, the night before things officially got underway. The Lord Mayor, dressed in all his medals and finery, gave a speech welcoming everyone to the city, as did David Pichilingi, the festival director, explaining that the festival was merely “5 years young” and getting bigger and better every year. Besides bigwigs making big speeches, nice hors d’oeuvres and free alcohol, there was also a performance courtesy of local sons the Hummingbirds.

If you’re a regular TGTF reader you probably could tell from reading the Bands to Watch piece I did on them in January that I really dig them. This night was just the start of their busy gigging schedule for the next couple of days, which included an appearance for the Queen the next morning when she made a visit to Albert Dock and an appearance on CALM’s stage at Bumper on Thursday night. I’m glad that I made it to this launch party, as I missed the show for the Queen (too many people, though you can see in the video below, people get very excited to see her car go by) and the timing was just too tight for me to run down to Bumper and back between the last two acts I planned to catch. It also appeared that their interview schedule was busy because I never managed to get them in one place so I could chat with them for a TGTF feature, but I believe our friends at the AU Review cornered them, so I’ll keep an eye out for a link.

Let’s face it, playing for a bunch of industry types who are there more to mingle than to actually pay attention to the band performing on stage is a bit rough going. Despite this, I thought the Hummingbirds sounded great and the upstairs reception room in the Town Hall had good acoustics for their skiffle-y setup. Rather appropriately, they ended their short set with ‘Back in Liverpool’. Aww. I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about that song. That was a definite coulda shoulda woulda videotape moment that I did not take advantage of. Sniffle. (Yes, I can be a big softy…sometimes.)

The night ended on a sad note, when I realised the next day after turning over everything in my hotel room, confirming I’d a favourite pink scarf I’d had practically forever somewhere between the Town Hall and walking back from an Irish pub in the centre of town to my hotel. End of an era. Hope a nice lady found it and gets as many years of use as I did with it.


(Liverpool Sound City 2012 flavoured!) MP3 of the Day #544: The Temper Trap

By on Thursday, 17th May 2012 at 10:00 am

The Temper Trap‘s single ‘Need Your Love’ has been remixed by Fort Romeau. This one is for the more dance inclined readers.

Don’t forget, the Aussies appear at Liverpool Sound City tomorrow on TGTF’s own stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts; find all the details of set times for the stage here.


(Liverpool Sound City 2012 TGTF stage flavoured!) Interview: Lorenzo Sillitto of the Temper Trap

By on Tuesday, 15th May 2012 at 11:00 am

Ahead of their appearance at TGTF’s stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts this Friday night (18/5), the man behind the lead guitar for the Temper Trap, Lorenzo Sillitto, was kind enough to answer my questions about their hotly anticipated second album ‘The Temper Trap’, which will be released in the UK on the 4th of June on Infectious Records. We also talk about the interesting production team they used on this go-around and how they feel about playing in the city of the Beatles.

The phrase “difficult second album” comes up a lot when bands with really outstanding debut albums with related outstanding sales and touring success try and come out with their second efforts. How did you approach writing ‘The Temper Trap’? And why did you choose to self title it?
I guess the approach was to go in and just start to write what came naturally. It had been a long time since we had been in that type of environment and with the inclusion of Joseph the dynamic was obviously going to be a little different since the last writing process. It was pretty amazing after the first week we had a few songs written and everything just seem natural and that pretty much set up the rest of our time writing. We tried not over think what we were doing and treated the writing process as a new chapter and think about what had happened with the last record. The name basically came from us not being able to agree on one. There where a few ideas floating around but none that we could all agree on. It’s funny because some people have asked if its making the statement that we have arrived as a band but really it was us not arriving on a name.

I’ve read that ‘The Temper Trap’ was produced by Beck, as well as Phoenix collaborator Tony Hoffer (Phoenix being your American labelmates on Glassnote). How did this partnering up come about? When I think of the Temper Trap, I don’t immediately associate your music with the anti-folk of Beck. Had you been fans of his for years?
Tony’s name had been appearing over the years in conversations and it wasn’t until the very end of the process that it appeared again. He had been to our one our first SXSW shows way back in 2009 and we had met him at our last L.A. show. He was a fan of the band and when we had the conversation about recording he said some things that just resonated with us. We were fans of things that he had done in the past but it was really just some of the things he said to us that made it clear that he would be the right person to record with. He has a love of music and is also a musician, which was very helpful once we were in the studio. Not only that he is a big kid and likes to joke around, which was a great attribute. The recording process can sometimes be quite stressful and it’s good to inject some humour.

Going on with the album, you recorded ‘The Temper Trap’ in America. Do you think it has an obvious “American sound” and has been affected by the surroundings and recording conditions? Arctic Monkeys and Noah and the Whale were much maligned last year for making albums that sounded too “American”.
I don’t think that it is obvious, but having been recorded in America by an American you can’t help but think that it is going to have that kind of vibe. I like to think that there is a little bit of sunshine that was sprinkled over top of the record. The songs were predominately written in a dark cold environment (the London winter) and some of them needed a little light. As for the Monkeys and the Whale, music is so universal thee days with the internet that I don’t think we can really say that there is as bigger distinction in sound like there was in the ’60s and ’70s.

You’ve added on Joseph Greer, known to those of us who have been seeing you live the last couple years as your fab touring keyboardist and guitarist, as a full member of the band. How did his input as the fifth member of Temper Trap influence the new album? It was really great having another person to come with ideas and a different kind of writing style. I think that one of the unique things with our band is that all five of us have very varying taste and influences and when we come together that is how we create our sound. By adding Joseph, we where able to explore more keyboard driven songs which is a path that we all have been keen to explore and he has the skill that enabled us to venture down that path. He also is a very quirky person and is probably the funniest person in the band, which makes for some great interband banter.

Similarly, is there a different ethos to the band now that you’ve expanded to a five-piece? Do you approach songwriting any differently? Dougy was quoted in an Rolling Stone article as saying: “Joseph is our secret weapon. He’s a really good piano player, so any sappy piano ballad that we may potentially write from this point on will totally be his fault.” Yep, this is true as I mentioned previously, he has the skills that we don’t possess. Well, yet that is! LOL. The song writing process has basically stayed the same as it always has. we may try some different approaches on the next record but as they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

In this NME interview, Lorenzo talked about the conscious decision to add more synths to this record compared to the amount present on ‘Conditions’, and how you used ‘80s synths on ‘The Temper Trap’. Were you fans of ‘80s new wave, of certain bands? And if so, which would you say have influenced this album the most?
The main influences for the record was the acquiring of some synths and not necessarily the music. We used them as substitutes, for maybe once we would try and play them on the guitar or what not, we either tried the same idea on the synths or used them to reinforce the sound and add another dimension to say the guitar to make it sound fresh.

What do you think about this new album will be most surprising to your fans? Which song(s) are your favourite(s) and why?
I think one of the most exciting things about this record is Dougy’s vocals. The record shows off a lot more of his range and ability and has I think a more soul vibe to it. My stand out tracks are ‘Trembling Hands’ (new single stream below), ‘Miracle’, and ‘Leaving Heartbreak Hotel’.

Flipping through the SXSW schedule, I noticed your city of origin was listed as London and not Melbourne. Do you consider yourself full Londoners now? What are the pros and cons of living in London Town? What does Melbourne offer that London doesn’t / that you miss most?
Well, that must have been a typo and probably why I could find us in the program. In terms of being Londoners, I think I am personally still a Melbournian at heart, but I have really embraced living in London, and at this point in my life, it is nice to live in a different environment to the one that you grew up in and had all your formative experiances in. Melbourne’s pros is that it is a very artistic city and it is very accommodating to the artistic community. From music to architecture, there is a lot of outlets for creative expression. Another advantage is food and coffee, it is quite amazing the standard that they have and is probably the main thing that I miss the most. And AFL of course.

What did you think of SXSW this year? Which of your performances stood out (Stubb’s, the Parish, etc.), and why? Were you apprehensive “returning to the stage” in America?
In terms of SXSW, I think that it has become to big for the town and it seems to have turned into a festival where labels showcase their new acts rather than new bands being found. That being said, playing Stubb’s would have to be the highlight, I remember the first time we went to SX the band went to Stubb’s to watch Metalica, and that was followed by a DJ Shadow greatest hits set, which was ace. So playing there and the second show back from a lengthy break was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time.

Did you see any other bands in Austin you particularly enjoyed and/or that impressed you? And if so, how so?
I saw Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) for the first time, and that was on the first day we got there. He is an amazing performer and guitarist, so was a great way to be welcomed. I saw another Melbourne band called Twerps whose album I am obsessed with, and they are old friends. Toby [their drummer] saw Chet Faker who I missed and said he was really great.

You’ll be playing our stage at Liverpool Sound City on the Friday night. Have you played in Liverpool before? If yes, what has been your experience with Liverpool crowds?
I think we have played Liverpool. I believe it was on our last UK tour at an 02 but to be honest I can’t remember. It was at time where all the shows moulded into one for me. but I am excited to go back to the home of the Beatles.

“Advertise” / “plead your case” to our readers why they should come and see you play Friday at the Arts Academy.
If you want to see thee most amazing laser light show and a bass player who plays it like it owes him money, then come down to our show because it will have one of the two.

The Temper Trap headline the TGTF stage at this year’s Liverpool Sound City this Friday night (18 May) at the Liverpool Academy of Arts. They are scheduled to appear at 22.00.


(Liverpool Sound City TGTF stage 2012 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #30: Lorenzo Sillitto of the Temper Trap

By on Monday, 14th May 2012 at 11:00 am

Ahead of the Temper Trap‘s headline appearance TGTF’s stage at Liverpool Sound City this Friday, we asked guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto to answer our Quickfire Questions. I didn’t mean to trouble him about what album he’d choose to bring to heaven, honest!

The Temper Trap are set to go on at 22.00 (10 PM). Pop rhythmic sensations Clock Opera will play at 20.30 (8:30 PM). But come early to see Spanish band Dear Prudence will be playing at 19.30 (7:30 PM).

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Beat it’ – Michael Jackson

3. What song makes you laugh?
You Make My Dreams Come True’ – Hall and Oates. Mainly because of the montage in Set Brothers.

4. What song makes you cry?
I’ve Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good – Nina Simone

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Push the Little Daisies’ – Ween.

6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.) Darondo – ‘Didn’t I’. Calms me down when I am in a unpleasant place angry or sad.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself? ‘Maggot Brain’ by Funkadelic, with probably one of the most emotional guitar solos ever written.

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.) Hunter S. Thompson.

9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would probably be working at the family restaurant.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? So you’re telling me I could bring ‘All Things Must Pass’. Fuck. ‘Since I Left You’, by the Avalanches. Man, the hardest question.


(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City TGTF stage 2012 flavoured!) Interview: Dan Armstrong of Clock Opera

By on Friday, 11th May 2012 at 11:00 am

Clock Opera will be appearing as part of the programming for the TGTF stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Friday 18 May, playing at 20.30, as well as performing at Brighton Dome tonight (Friday 11 May) at the Great Escape at 20.30. I got together a bunch of questions for the band, including asking the band how the band formed, how SXSW this year went for them (including an unfortunate run-in with an oil painting), about all those unusual percussion bits they use live and much. Also, I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask about Guy’s beard. Read on.

Tell us who each of you are and what instruments(s) you play.
Guy Connelly – Vocals, guitars, plethora of bizarre objects sampled
Andy West – Bass, guitars
Che Albrighton – Drums, glockenspiel
Dan Armstrong – Piano, vocals. I’m answering these questions, as Guy is busy remixing…may the rest of the band forgive me.

How did you guys find each other? School, mutual mates, etc.?
Guy started Clock Opera in his own warped mind. He’d already formed a close bond with his laptop (thanks to previous bands/production) and the two of them decided to take their relationship to the next level. Shortly afterwards, other humans were invited to join in the form of Andy West (bass/guitars/looks) and Che Albrighton (rampant rhythm/height). Andy and Guy had been part of the obligatory Shoreditch-warehouse-living scene and Che was in a band with Andy at that time. The two were handpicked for the bracketed reasons. I was subsequently brought in to complete the quadrangle (keys/vocals/availability).

Who came up with the wild name “Clock Opera”, and what does it mean to you now? Does it indicate a love of Thomas Cook timetables or Italian arias?
I’ve known Guy mention in interviews a piece of music once written as a symphony for clocks. Apparently it was never performed but he liked the idea. I’m not convinced the symphony story is true though. I have a feeling Guy dreamed all that. Anyway, to me it’s Clock Opera because of the infinite ticking rhythms and because we like to sing grandiose and emotive melodies.

Some of my blogging compadres have compared your sound to Friendly Fires, the first band I chased around the world as a blogger. Do you agree or contest this comparison? Explain.

I haven’t personally seen our style liked to Friendly Fires but I’d be happy enough with that. Our music is in many ways different to theirs but the attention and passion they put into their live performances is something I would tentatively compare with us. Plus we like euphoria, driving rhythms and hitting objects too.

Going along with that, if you had to explain to someone what you sounded like in 10 words or less, which words would you choose to describe yourselves?
I’ve never been able to answer this question. Many have tried. Music is music. It’s better to listen to it than describe.

Before I heard your music, the buzz around you seemed to be a product of all the remixing you’ve done of other people’s tracks (for example, a pretty high profile one was of Metronomy’s ‘The Bay’). Who in your band are the remix princes? How did you get into remixing, have you always been naturally drawn towards fiddling around with other people’s songs and making them your own?

All the remixes are done by Guy, the remix prince. I’m pretty sure he started by doing one for Marina and the Diamonds (free download of the ‘I Am Not a Robot’ remix below), which people went mad for. Mr. Connelly’s production techniques are definitely suited to the process; he chops everything up into tiny pieces and makes something completely new from it. The Metronomy [one] (stream it below) was high profile, so too his Feist creation (free download of the ‘How Come You Never Go’ remix below too). I still point people towards two others which I love….one for the Drums and another for The Phenomenal Handclap Band. Both are great tracks in my opinion.

Marina and the Diamonds – ‘I Am Not a Robot’ (Clock Opera remix)

Metronomy – ‘The Bay’ (Clock Opera remix)

Feist – ‘How Come You Never Go’ (Clock Opera remix)

How does your remix work come about? Do you hear something and say to yourself, “I really want to put my stamp on that one!” Or has it been more of a word of mouth thing, like “those Clock Opera blokes really know what they’re doing, let’s ask them to remix our single”?
The latter. People ask him. Plead. Beg. Demand. It would be pretty difficult to just remix whoever you choose using Guy’s methods because you need the stems of a track to do it…each part in a separate file. Without them it’s hard to do much more than just add a beat and other sounds….whereas Guy wants parts he can break down into tiny fragments.

When I saw you at SXSW this year, I forget which song it was, but at one point you all reached down on the floor to grab what appeared to be part of mum’s cookery set and then started banging on these pieces. Was this commandeering of kitchen supplies borne out of necessity for the live performance, or have you always been banging on pots since the recording process of ‘Ways to Forget’ (John’s review of the album here) and/or before?
The song is called ‘A Piece Of String’. People often call them pots and pans, but they’re actually extremely sophisticated commemorative tankards and ornate trays. There’s no necessity in it. We do it because we like to. I attended music and movement classes as a toddler, which makes me the crockery equivalent of Vanessa Mae. But yes, the way the samples on the album begin life is often from striking, dropping and pounding strange objects. A World War II amp case, a basketball, a hand fan, etc., etc.

What did you think of SXSW this year? Which of your performances stood out, and why?
SXSW this year was incredible. Truly. Hot, relentless, strange. The whole city is taken over by music in a way that’s hard to describe. Nothing compares. The average bar there takes 40% of its annual takings in those 2 weeks. Every day starts early and ends late. Some days we’d play three shows and for me that’s when the performances stand out. You develop a special momentum where the sweat from one show becomes the hair gel of the next. It’s liberating. Another memorable aspect for me was playing on the same bill with other quality British bands. Slow Club, Django Django, Breton, Dutch Uncles and many more….all different but all part of something (but don’t say ‘scene’).

Did you play any strange venues, and if so, where did you play and how was the reception? Compare/contrast with any weird places you’ve played in London/UK.
They’re nearly all strange venues in their own way. At one an oil painting fell on Andy mid set which isn’t exactly a standard gig scenario. The only recurring theme was a stage, an audience and us. The reception was brilliant. I’d rather not compare and contrast it with London though, because that becomes like a piece of homework and I’m not at school anymore. Unfortunately.

Did you think the largely American audience “got” what you do?
They did.

Did you see any other bands in Austin you particularly enjoyed and/or that impressed you? And if so, how so?
The British ones I’ve already mentioned. My personal favourite was Slow Club (pictured above). [Read about their appearance at the Huw Stephens showcase on 17 March here. Clock Opera also performed. – Ed.] I’d never seen them live before and their music sounds so good in that setting. As a singer of harmonies, I’ve got a lot of respect for how they do it with such energy, beauty and ease. Class, unique performers.

Bass player of Fanfarlo Justin Finch admitted on the Thursday night of SXSW at their show at Club de Ville that upon seeing one of their fans sporty a massive beard, he had beard envy. Guy has a pretty epic beard (see photo above). Any other famous beards out there he covets and/or aspires to develop one similar to?
Guy’s beard is unique. It elicits a lot of envy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Finch crumbled in awe too. Unfortunately some people think it’s all right to use that awe as fuel and just walk up and have a feel. You don’t touch people you don’t know without asking first**. But be prepared for a refusal. (**If someone starts touching you first that often means it’s ok to return the favour.)

You’ll be playing our stage at Liverpool Sound City on the Friday night. Have you played in Liverpool before? If yes, what’s the Liverpool crowd like?
When I go to a gig and enjoy it I tend to stand in silence and then applaud at the end of each song. So if you get a thousand mes at a show what you basically have is a pretty average crowd. With that in mind, I try not to judge. What I will say though is that Liverpool is without question my favourite city in England and the people are a big part of that.

“Advertise” / “plead your case” to our readers why they should come and see you play Friday at the Liverpool Academy of Arts.
Is there somewhere I can leave my dignity to collect later?

Be sure to catch Clock Opera live at the TGTF stage at the Liverpool Academy of Arts on Friday 18 May. They play at 20.30.


(Alternative Escape and Liverpool Sound City flavoured!) Video of the Moment #791: Stealing Sheep

By on Thursday, 10th May 2012 at 6:00 pm

Stealing Sheep‘s new charming DIY video below is for ‘Shut Eye’, a single taken from their forthcoming debut album ” to be released in August in Heavenly Recordings. The single will be released on the 28th of May in 7″ and digital formats and will be backed with exclusive track ‘We Like The Dark’.

The trio will be performing at the free Something Nothing and Republic of Music showcase at Marwood Coffee House this Saturday (12 May; read more about it here), as well as in their hometown of Liverpool at Sound City from 21.00-21.30 on Thursday the 17th of May at the Red Bull Studios Live at the Garage. For a taste of their live performance, read Martin’s write-up of their support slot for Field Music back in February here.



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