Monday, 1 December 2014

Mission head out in disguise!

The Mission are heading out for a series of live dates in smaller venues under the guise of the Blood Brothers as part of some warm up dates booked around next years festival appearances. All dates are now on sale via the Mission store and tickets can be bought separately or as part of a bundle featuring an exclusive t-shirt.

The 5 dates are...

Monday, 10 November 2014

Bruce Foxton new album pledge starts

Bruce Foxton has announced his new album, which will be titled "Smash The Clock", will be released in October 2015 and will be crowd funded via Pledge Music. Currently the Pledge site has it listed as Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings (his From The Jam bandmate who also featured on 2012's "Back In The Room" album) but it is anticipated that Smiley will also feature following his involvement with From The Jam.

Rewards on offer range from the basic download for £8, the signed CD for £15 through to T-Shirt packages, Art work, Prints, Your Name In The Credits or even tickets for an Intimate Gig!

Full ranges of rewards & ordering details can be found HERE!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

James & Craig on charity album

James Stevenson & Craig Adams both feature (alongside a cast of 200 well known names) on the charity album "Sex Drugs and HIV" a project some 19 years in the making created by Mat Sargent (Chelsea, Sham 69, Splodgenessabounds).

The album will split it's fund raising efforts between the Terrence Higgins Trust, Release, Rape Crisis and Cancer Research UK and is available now from Amazon and the projects own website. For more details, videos and musician info click HERE!

To order from Amazon click HERE!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Q The Music Show album

Not strictly an Alarm related bit of news but for fans of Kerry Schultz, who unsurprisingly features on both of Smileys solo albums, you will be pleased to know you can hear Kerry fronting the Bond tastic Q The Music Show on their new album.

Celebrating 10 years of working together the double live "10 Years Of Bonding" comprises 37 tracks that will be instantly familiar to even the most casual Bond fan. To make it incredibly easy for fans to get hold of the CD is available as a buy now option through Ebay.


For more info on Q The Music Show including audio samples and video links you can reach their website HERE

Thursday, 30 October 2014

RT-Zed debut limited CD run!

The first RT-Zed album "Return To Zero" (released as RT-Zed Global) is to have a very limited CD run. Preorders will start at 9a.m. on November 14th with the CD shipping in early December.

Fans will need to keep a close eye on the RT-Zed Facebook page to snap up one of these Steve Grantley rarities so get signed up HERE

Smiley's Friends In Far Out Places available NOW!

It's finally that time boys & girls! Smiley's Friends in Far Out Places album is available now on both CD or as a digital's amazing, you need it!



More options.....

AMAZON (Download)


Read my review HERE

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Free Smiley download

Want a free track to download from the excellent new Smiley album "Friends In Far Out Places"? Sure you do!

You can get yourself a download of the albums closing track "13" but why choose that one?
Over to the albums co-writer Graham Turner "We're doing our bit to help raise awareness of missing children and teenagers this Christmas. We're writing about real stuff here, things we all take for granted, especially at Christmas and all."

Get your download HERE!

If you would like to know more about the charity Missing People or any of it's associate partners then you can reach their site HERE!

New American Farmers featuring "Twist"

I did report on this a while back but as the album is now available it seems a good time to remind folks!

"The Farmacology Sessions" by New American Farmers is now available to buy from Bandcamp in various physical or digital forms. The album features a guest spot by Twist on one track, a cover of "Rain In The Summertime".

Check it all out and grab yours HERE!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Archive new album & tour!

In a surprise announcement yesterday Archive revealed they are releasing a new album called "Restriction" which will be supported by a full European tour starting in February of next year.

"Restriction" will be released on 12th January on the bands own Dangervisit label but as a taster the band released three singles yesterday which are available on i-Tunes immediately either by purchasing individually or when you preorder the whole album.

The album features:

1.Feel It
3.Kid Corner
4.End Of Our Days
5.Third Quarter Storm
6.Half Built Houses
7.Riding In Squares
10.Black And Blue
11.Greater Goodbye
13.All The Time

The singles are highlighted in red. 

For full tour dates please check out the Archive site HERE!

Despite not featuring in the three videos on the site Smiley features on the album and the tour as normal but was unavailable for the video shoots due to commitments with From The Jam.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Fable "Parasite" EP released

Fable has released her début EP "Parasite" featuring various members of Archive including one Steve "Smiley" Barnard

The three track EP features "Stranger In My Head", "Fragile" and "I Speak Words". It is available to purchase for £2.49 from Bandcamp where you can also stream it as a preview before purchasing.

Grab yours HERE!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Smiley's Friends In Far Out Places Review

The countdown has well and truly started for those eager to get their grubby little mitts on the new Smiley album "Friends In Far Out Places" (the follow up to "Friends In High Places") which is due for release on the 1st of November. For those of you that description applies to I'd like to ensure you that your wait will not be in vain - this album delivers time and time again track after track!

Ok first of all for those familiar with "Friends In High Places" this will seem like a natural successor, the album artwork is again provided by the ever talented Karl Parsons and mirrors the style of the first album and that to an extent is true of the music too. There are still the obligitory nods to Britpop, Kerry again features on vocals and expands her presence here giving us more opportunity to hear her amazing voice ahead of the release of the début Q The Music album. The real difference with this album is that it is much more immediate, both the songs and music are richer and more fluid providing a collection of songs that flow in a way that the first album didn't at times.

So lets do some name checking. Smiley has friends, LOTS of friends! Here we have all of The Alarm minus Craig (next time Smiley ensures me!), From The Jam band mate Bruce Foxton, Hard Fi's Richard Archer (some fans will have seen him join The Alarm on stage in London on the Vinyl tour), former band mates Martin Coogan (Mock Turtles), Pablo Cook (Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros), Jonny Wiles (One Iota) who duets on the album closer with Dorie Jackson, Gary Nuttall (Robbie Williams) alongside Robin Foster who Smiley has toured with, Dale Davis (Amy Winehouse) and John James Newman who some may know from the BBC show The Voice.

So with a roster like that you would hope for something pretty special and that is exactly what you get! There are plenty of tracks that stand out even after only a few listens from opener "You Say" to the slow burning "Interstella Aliens", the Kerry tour de forces of "Hide & Seek" and "H2O" to the club anthem waiting to happen "Higher". "End Of The World" could be the next big Robbie Williams single such is the talent of the song writing and style, it's a song that will seem familiar on the first listen, like a track you've been singing along to on the radio for weeks! 

So mark the date in your diary, save the download link and make sure you get this one in your collection!

You will be able to buy the album direct from Smiley by clicking HERE from the 1st November.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

James Stevenson Interview

Back in July I caught up with James in an interview that was going to focus mainly around the International Swingers album and Pledge Music campaign. As the launch of the Pledge was delayed we held back on the interview...until now! 

The Cult stint is turning out to be longer than initially expected, what are the current plans and is it likely to extend beyond The Electric dates?
Hi Rob – well yeah it has done. The Electric 13 dates ended last December – and I’ve been doing all the gigs since then.

Has there been any talk to a follow up to 2012s “Choice Of Weapon” album?
Ian and Billy are working on new material as we speak I believe.

You’ve played some huge dates on this tour so far including the Coachella Festival, what are your stand out moments?
The two nights at The Roundhouse in London were fantastic. But its all good. I love playing with The Cult. Coachella has grown into something much bigger than it was. It sells out before the music line-up is announced – that tells me the music has become secondary which I think is a shame.

You managed to slip in the majority of the recent Chelsea tour baring a couple of dates that conflicted with your Cult commitments, are you likely to be able to appear on the upcoming album and when are the sessions planned to start?
In December. Yes – I’m sure I’ll be on it. I’m going to brighton to do some writing with Gene this weekend! Although most of it’s written already.

How has it been playing with The Rebelles recently?
Well to be honest the last thing I needed was another set going round in my head! But their guitarist couldn’t do two shows so I had to help them out.

Has Elizabeth managed to get any of her Westworld hits into the set yet?
LOL – no not yet.

3 quarters of the Swingers are to be on the new Rebelles single, will you be on the album too and how was recording in Mick Jones’ studio?
Yeah – there seems to be a lot of cross-interaction with all the band’s I’m in – just look at all the connections between Gene Loves Jezebel. The Cult, The Alarm and The Mission! Love working at Mick’s – Mick’s a genuine genius in my opinion – and he loves The Rebelles.

Given their style of reworking punk classics what tracks in your own catalogue do you think would suit that kind of makeover and arrangement?
I think they could do a great version of Living In The Urban UK by Chelsea

The pledge campaign for the debut International Swingers album starts at the beginning of August at one time you seemed opposed to going the crowd funding route, what changed your mind?
Actually we’re a couple of months late – just launching now. Someone said to me you have to view it as pre-sales. The music industry has changed out of all recognition – labels haven’t got the money to fund artists anymore. When I was just out with The Cult I really enjoyed some of the opening bands – then it dawned on me that because of how it’s all gone most people will never have a chance to see or hear those bands – it really is a shame.

You’ve been doing some sessions as and when you can all get together, how are things shaping up and how much more recording needs to be completed?
Quite a lot – everyone’s so busy doing other things all the time – the logistics can be a nightmare! But I feel we’ve got some great songs – can’t wait to get it finished.

Has the track listing been finalised yet and if so will the album include any of the live set and the tracks already previewed on the web site?
There’s quite a few new songs that were never on the site and that we’ve never played live. It’s more or less finalised – but things change all the time as you know – especially with bands.

Can you let us know what sort of rewards are planned for the pledge campaign or are you sworn to secrecy?
You can read all about it right here!

If all goes well what are your expectations for the campaign and what will it allow you to do?
Well really just to get our music out there – the stuff labels used to do in the old days.

Have you discussed stretch targets at all?
Erm – sorry to be ignorant – what are they? (LOL)

Were there any rewards that were suggested that got vetoed for being too outrageous?
No – outrageous is good.

Daniel Ash is offering a bike trip with him as part of his Pledge campaign where the bidder gets to keep his 1992 Heritage Softail HD (admittedly for $45,000!) - are you tempted to part with any of your bikes?

No. That's a lot of money for a Harley!
What’s the proposed date for the albums release?
Probably Jan 2015

Will it be possible to tour to support it and if so when would this likely to be?
Yes we really want to. As long as The Pistols, The Cult and Blondie stay quiet! We’d like to play live more. The Lexington show we did last year in London was one of my favourites.

Has there been any talk about The International Swingers appearing at next years Gathering or is that not something that would interest you?
I’m actually considering doing a James Stevenson set at The Gathering – although I’m very nervous about it. Jules Peters thinks when non-Alarm related bands play at The Gathering the fans don’t really like it – and I think she’s right on that one.

It’s been very quiet on The Alarm front this year so far with Mike out on the very successful “Declaration” tour. Has there been any discussions yet about when the band will come back together to either record or for live dates?
Not really. Looks like The gathering will be the next thing – so that’s a year between gigs! And now Mike’s doing a solo Strength outing too next year. I don’t blame him at all. But when we do some actual Alarm dates – hopefully sometime next year I’m sure because of our absence it will be a big bang.

Lastly with this being another whirlwind year have you had a chance to take in the reaction to your solo debut “Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over”?
Well it’s had amazing reviews. I’m very proud of it – hopefully it’s the beginning of something bigger.

Has it met your expectations and have you any plans to start on a follow up just yet?
Well I’d have liked more around it in the US – but that might be about to happen. There will definitely be another album – hopefully in 2015

Before we go it seems quiet on the Gene Loves Jezabel front currently with Jay & Peter both lining up the second Ugly Buggs release. Any news you can share on what we can expect next?

I thought their Summertime single, and the video, were fantastic. I’m hoping Jay will do my video for Suzi’s Problem from my album that I’m planning. Have you seen the one I did for Go Mister! on Youtube? As far as GLJ who knows. We’ve talked about a new album – and dates. But Jay moves around the world more than anyone I know……

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Be part of The International Swingers Pledge Music campaign

"Whatever Works Now" is the debut album by The International Swingers and you can help make it happen!

The band will be recording the album during November and as usual with crowd funded campaigns there are a load of rewards to suit all tastes and budgets from downloads, signed CDs, handwritten lyrics to a full band concert!

5% of sales will also be donated to LHS.

I've been waiting for this one for a long time now and have already put my money where my mouth is....check out what is on offer and get involved HERE!

Monday, 29 September 2014

LHS UK Store back up!

After an age offline the UK LHS Store is finally back up and running with all sorts of T-Shirts and hoodies for you to fly the flag and show your support!

Click HERE to view the store!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

30th September The Alarm Annual Lyric Social Media Takeover!

On September 30th 1981 The Alarm released their debut single "Unsafe Building".

This year the first of hopefully what will become an annual celebration will see social media users change their profile pics to that of their favourite Alarm album or single for just one day and to post a selection from or full lyric of their fave song (or fave lyric - there are no hard and fast rules!) as their status.

With a little over a week to go the focus is on spreading the word as quickly and as widely as please let all your Alarm friends know and point them to the Facebook page for more info!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Help Eddie on his memory walk!

Eddie Macdonald is asking fans if they would please donate £1 to support his fundraising for the upcoming Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk. The walk will take place this Sunday in Battersea Park.

The cause is very close to Eddies heart and as a thank you any fan that donates
will be put into a raffle to win the first pressing 001 of his new EP that is due to be released in January next year.

Details on how to donate can be found HERE

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

More Dead Men dates and site launch!

After the rapid selling out of the Dead Men Walking show at the Troubador two more dates have been added for this weekend with the band appearing at Alex's Bar in Long Beach on the 12th and L.A.s Viper Room on the 13th.

A dedicated DMW website has also opened it's doors at leading to speculation that more shows in more countries may be on the cards!

News as and when there is any....fingers crossed!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Fable announces debut EP"Parasite" the début EP from Fable will be released on October 13th. The track is the first of the "Archive" sessions to be released and was co written by Darius and Danny  it features Pollard on guitar and Smiley on drums.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dead Men Walk again!

After a lot of speculation (Mike hinting at The Gathering earlier in the year) the Dead Men Walking are officially back! 

For how long and many other questions remain to be answered but what we do know is that there will be a live show at The Troubadour, Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA on Sunday September 14th. 

The band will again be based around the core of Mike, Captain Sensible and Slim Jim Phantom with other guest appearances featured on the poster. 

Tickets are priced at $15 and will be available from Friday HERE

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Twist appears on New American Farmers album

Nigel "Twist" Phillips features on the upcoming New American Farmers album "The Farmacology Sessions" which will be released on October 14th. Twist appears on one track, a cover of "Rain In The Summertime".

New American Farmers are the duo of Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto and "the Farmacology Sessions" is their second album together under that name. Also appearing on the album is Kevin T.White who is bassist in Chuck Prophet's Mission Express while Prophet himself also guests on selected tracks. It is through Kevin that Nigel came to play on the album when the pair struck up a conversation on the street when Nigel saw Kevins gig bag. Upon returning to the studio Kevin told of the encounter he had just had which leading Paul to recall his time supporting The Alarm in Champaign, IL in the 80s and how much he loved the band.

Nigel came by, jammed and even did some shows. When asked about the idea of covering "Rain In The Summertime" he replied "Lets do it"! Paul says "he's a great as he ever was, an awesome guy to play shows and hang out with. Such a nice, warm personality."

The album will be available via BandCamp HERE

The band also has a Kickstarter campaign running to produce the album on vinyl as well as offering various other rewards such as signed CDs. View what's on offer HERE

Many thanks to Paul for the preview of the album...I've enjoyed listening to it tonight and "Rain In The Summertime" is so different yet so familiar I know you'll all love it! 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Spear Of Destiny Tour Dates

To coincide with the new album "31" Spear Of Destiny take to the road throughout September and October. The dates line up as....


18th STOCKTON-ON-TEES Georgian Theatre
19th WOKING Undercover Festival
25th MANCHESTER Ruby Lounge
26th YORK Fibbers
27th CARDIFF The Globe


1st NORWICH Waterfront Studios
3rd NUNEATON Queens Hall
4th HITCHIN Club 85
9th LEICESTER The Scholar
14th SHEFFIELD The Greystones
19th BRISTOL The Fleece

Theatre Of Hate are also doing some dates (Please note that the ALT-Fest appears to be no more) but I have no confirmation if Craig will feature on these so check back for updates....or go see them as they are awesome anyway!

Spear tickets are available HERE!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Smiley Interview....Friends In Far Out Places.

As Smiley prepares to release his second solo album "Smiley's Friends In Far Out Places" it seemed a good time to ask the man himself about what we can expect and also to ask him about his year so far and what lays ahead for The Alarm, From The Jam and more!


“Axiom” is another departure for Archive, how early in the development was the film project conceived?
Well lets put it this way, when I recorded it it was a new Archive album, the next thing I knew was when we were at the screening of the film at the O2.. I’m not sure at which point the film was conceived but I know its been very well received.. Theres another Archive album ready and coming out in January.

Why the decision to crowd fund via Pledge Music?
I dont really know what the deal is with Pledge.. A lot of acts do it these days as its a means to getting product out but for Archive I’m not really involved in that side of things.

Were you surprised at how quickly the fans supported the venture?
Its a great way of fans getting involved.. Its about supply and demand isnt it.. If the fans want more product and can esculate that process but helping financially everyones a winner.

Have you had any discussions with James about this success as The International Swingers prepare for their own campaign?
Not really.. The only contact Ive had with James was when he played some guitar on my album.. Hes a Friend in Far Out Places now

How were the various packages decided when creating the rewards for the Pledge campaign?
As I say I dont have any real say in that side of the Archive coin

Were there any outlandish suggestions that were voted down?
I heard some rumours of people trying to buy us for a night to go for dinner etc.. There are some strange people out there.

The recent Roundhouse gig was recorded, can we expect a live release or maybe the Montreux performance which was also filmed?
Well I havent heard of anything planned but as I say the new studio album is out in January.. To give you an idea of how things operate I played all the drums early on on the new record.. but I still havent heard the finished article.. Its tough being a drummer ha ha

How was it performing under the banner of the film images and projections, did it change the vibe for you?
At first it was a little strange.. I kept looking up and got told off.. I didnt get the film at first but I do now.. Its very powerful

One eye on the World Cup - about to take to the stage at Montreux
The imagery extended to band “uniforms” – were these chosen to convey the whole sense of theatre and to make the live experience more immersive with the story?
That and the fact that we were looking too scruffy and got a boot up the arse from management!

It was great seeing Maria Q after she was absent for the last tour but Steve Harris is still absent, is this the nature of the “collective” or just another clash with Steve’s commitments with Gary Numan?
Its great having Maria back.. Steve I believe is away with Numan at the mo.. The whole collective thing means the door is never permanantly shut for anyone.

There have been some European dates but the website still advises live dates to be announced, will this be festival dates again or can we expect a more standard tour?
We have one more Axiom show in Paris this year.. Then we are out from February 2015 on and off for 2 years


Backstage selfies!
It’s been a couple of years since the release of “Friends In High Places” what can we expect with “Far Out Places”?
Well the major difference is I used a co writer.. a lyricist called Graham Turner.. We worked really well together and I think the songs have an awful lot more depth and are far more interesting.

What instruments do you play on the album…any mandolin?
I've played drums, guitars, bass, piano, percussion, keyboards... sung a few and produced it.. I dont think there is any mandolin on it but I did play some on an EP I produced recently so its not getting too dusty.. I let all the Friends do the clever stuff!

Over what period was the album written and recorded?
Probably on and off over the last year.. I did exactly the same with the last one.. Suddenly realise I have 5 or 6 new songs and then develop them into an album.. I think I have an awful lot more know how in the studio now having produced quite a few acts over the last few years so the production is something I’m very proud of.

What guests can we expect to hear and will Kerry play a larger part than she did on the first album?
Ok well here is the list.. First time Ive announced this............... Mike Peters, Bruce Foxton, Richard Archer, John James Newman, Kerry Schultz, Robin Foster, James Stevenson, Mark Taylor, Dale Davis, David D’Andrade, Pablo Cook and a few more I cant remember off the top of my head.

Kerry Rocking The Onesie!

Was there a guest wish list and if so who were the ones that got away?
There was a wish list.. I couldnt  track Adams down so didn't get the full set of The Alarm, Mike took some nailing as did Bruce Foxton and I was made up to get Hard Fi Richard singing.. Weve been working together recently on new Hard Fi stuff so I grabbed him while I could.

Why the title?
Well The songs are a little more out there.. More expansive.. Both lyrically and musically.. and it was a nice next step up from Friends in High Places.

Karl Parsons again did the artwork, did you give him a brief to make it look in the same style as its predecessor?
That boy is an absolute genius.. We had a coffee when I was in Wales working with Mike, I told him the concept and by the time I got home he had done the most amazing artwork.. Genius.. It really inspired me to finish it too as it wasnt at that time.. Hes a genius

What are your hopes for the album?
Well I would like everyone who enjoyed Friends In High Places to hear it.. I was blown away with the positivity around that album and I really believe this one, especially working with Graham, is a step up.. and then who knows.. Sell one of the songs to One Direction and move to a bigger house ha ha.

Will this be similar to “High Places” and be available mail order and at gigs or will there also be a digital release?
Yeah it will be easier to get.. .All of the above..What with social media this time around and surrounding myself with clever people it will be far more accessable

Are there plans for any live dates?
Nope.. although one day you never know.. Would be a mega band wouldnt it


You seem to be having a busy year at Sunshine Corner Studios, have you ever thought about creating a label for some of the artists that record there and maybe an online store?
Not really.. I just love producing artists and getting the best out of them.. I love the creative side of music.. Not the other side

How personally invested do you get with the acts that you produce? 
It depends on the act... Ive been asked advice alot about various record business stuff and I always like to offer an opinion if I think its valid.. but I wouldnt do management. Not my cup of tea at all.

What have been your favourite sessions to produce this year at Sunshine?
Well Ive done a Ska band (The Skasouls) which was really interesting(with The Alarm sound man Dave White which was interesting .. getting a live sound mans take on the recording process.., also a young country singer (KT Hurt) who has immense potential, and a brilliant album with Billy Reeves who used to be in The Audience

How was it working again with your former Mescaleros bandmate Pablo Cook?
Ah that was so cool. The guy we were recording, Jonzip Mcneil was so similar to Strummer that it brought back loads of memories.. Great to play with Pabs again.


Tell us a bit more about Smiley’s Heroes, is it a just for fun occasional thing ?
It used to be something I did all the time but I’m so busy now I just do it occasionally...which makes it an awful lot more enjoyable

How do you find it being out from behind the drums?
Its alot of fun.. I can pretend to be other people .. Ive sat behind some of the greatest front men in music history so I know a few tricks

Any plans on becoming the next guitar hero?
Ha ha I am a guitar hero... but only in Smileys Heroes!


“Horizons Sing” seems to have come out of nowhere and has instantly become one of the benchmark events in the bands history, how was it for you?
It was great.. As you say it kind of came out of nothing.. I was actually surprised they asked for me too.. but I was flattered and I had a lovely time.

Is that the first time you’ve worked in that environment playing live with an orchestra and choir?
No I've done it with Archive on quite a few occasions.. It's an amazing feeling.. An orchestra and a choir really does take your breath away.

How much time did you have to prepare?
Ha ha this is Mike we are talking about.. Rehearsed with the orchestra on the Thursday afternoon, the choir on the Friday afternoon and did the show live at 7.30 that night.. Welcome to the wonderful world of Mike Peters!

Was this a natural extension of taking the new arrangements of the “Declaration” tracks and adapting them further?
It certainly made it easier having worked on the new Declaration record.. but I think even Mike was bowled over at how amazing the songs sounded that night.

Were you surprised at how well they worked in this environment?
Not at all. Mikes songs are brilliant so putting an orchestra and a choir behind it can only make them even better in my eyes.

What were the stand out tracks of the evening for you?
The Deceiver was the one that blew me away.

How was the recording  experience with the BBC?
A Total pleasure.

The presenter made an poorly thought out comment about your time with Robbie Williams which Mike jumped to your defence. Did you hear it at the time and what are your thoughts now?
First Ive heard.. ( I've stayed in touch with him so I’m sure he didn't mean any harm) I've got big shoulders.

There was some talk about the possible licensing of the recordings for an MPO release but there was some question on how expensive this would be to do. Is there any word on this yet?
I've not heard anything.

Mike has been very busy on the solo “Declaration” dates but was there any discussion to try and recreate this event in other locations or would that have been logistically unfeasible?
I think he would do it again .. when and where I don't know.


You continue to tour extensively with Russell and Bruce and look like you’re having a real blast. How have the “Setting Sons” dates differed from last years “All Mod Cons” dates?
We haven't started them yet.. They kick off in September so I’m learning them at the moment.

What would be your choice for the next From The Jam tour if it was themed around one album?
Well I know they are gonna do Sound Effects next year and The Gift the year after so I will go with those!

What are your favourite Jam tracks to play live?
I talked them into doing Funeral Pyre  recently which sounds amazing.. Man in the Corner Shop is my favourite.. Then probably Eton Rifles, Beat Surrender, Malice etc.. Every ones a winner!

Has there been any discussions regarding a possible studio album, either as FTJ or maybe under Bruce’s name?
That's already pencilled in for the autumn I believe at Wellers studio.

How easy is it to balance your commitments with the different bands you are in (Archive, The Alarm, From The Jam) and those artists such as Hero Fisher that you support when you can?
It can be hard.. I had to turn down dates in Australia with FTJ and Japan with Mike and Glastonbury with Hero as they clashed with Archive.. It can be tricky.


You are credited as associate producer on the  “Declaration 2014” album as well as playing on it, how much input did you have and did Mike have most of the arrangements already in mind or did they develop during the recording process?
I had quite a big say in it.. My point was.. “If you are going to do Declaration again, do it completely different.. No one wants a rehash.. So we tried some different things.. like Mike buying a mandolin and handing it to me and saying.. “learn to play this .. It’ll sound great.” So I did.. It took an afternoon and really shaped the sound of the album.

“Declaration” was fantastic and the success of the subsequent solo tour has been great to see but when will we hear new material from the band?
Mike has his fingers in so many pies.. There are some really exciting things ahead but I dont think I am allowed to spill the beans yet.

You were at the Islington gig alongside James Stevenson in the audience and Eddie MacDonald for that matter….and Steve Allan Jones! One thing I asked James at that show is when you are watching Mike perform like that do you find it hard not being up there too?
Nope.. Had a great night off... watching the chief at his best! (Funnily enough this was pretty similar to what James said too! -Rob)

What plans are there to mark the anniversary next year of “Strength”?
I do know but I dont think I’m allowed to say.

You’ve been back in the studio recently with Mike, can you shed any light on these sessions, were they related to the upcoming stage show being written with Steve Allan Jones?
We were working on 3 seperate projects.. I really don't think I’m allowed to say any more.. When I am you’ll be the first to know I promise!

How much can you share with us about the plans for next years Gathering?
Haven't got that far down the line yet.. We only got the mammoth 4 hour set list a week before last year so it's any ones guess what he will pull out of his hat next time!

Every year it seems to be just how can you top the previous year….4 hours on the Saturday, Mandolin interludes, the future guitarists on “One Guitar” and the amazing “Without A Fight” with Dave Spragg….so the question is….how do you top that?
I don't know... But I bet he does!!!!


The promotion around Fable is growing centred around her Facebook presence, who is she and how did Archive get to be involved in recording her album?
She is a female singer from Brighton.. Archive got asked to produce her album and I played drums on it.. She's brilliant.

What can you tell us about the album? 
It's very original and very cool'

Will you be involved with any live dates if they happen?
No, she has a live band.. I will just do the studio tracks.


How have you been spending what little time off you have this year?
Bit of golf, dog walks, hanging with my kids and when our schedules allow it spending time with my talented wife.. Shes busier than me bless her.

What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
A well earned family hoilday, the release of SMILEYS FRIENDS IN FAR OUT PLACES, 42 dates with From The Jam, recording with Hard Fi, Fable, Mike Peters, From The Jam & Archive.. and producing some acts at 

Have you been putting your Kindle to good use while on the road, if so have you got any titles you’d recommend?
I just read Mike Scotts book ..Tales of a Waterboy and now I’m on Keith Richards autobiography.. Thats the best thing about touring, you get lots of time to read which you don't at home!

Thank you Smiley!
Always a pleasure.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Smiley's "Friends In Far Out Places" Cover revealed!

The cover for the second Smiley solo album "Friends In Far Out Places" has been revealed. The cover was designed by the always great Karl Parsons and follows the feel of the previous album "Friends In High Places".

Expect more info soon as there is a new interview with Smiley in the pipeline right here at In The Poppy Fields!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Get On The Record!

I never know how much to cover news wise if it's been posted on The Alarm site or Facebook as I figure most of you have probably seen it! If you haven't seen todays "Get On The Record" announcement and Pledge Music campaign then check it out HERE 

There is a lot to take in and lots of choices of pledge options but this is your chance to contribute to a fantastic Mike Peters / Love Hope Strength project so take it all in then...PLEDGE!

New Spear Of Destiny album available to preorder

As promised yesterday "31 (Thirty One)" the new album from Spear Of Destiny is now available to order from the Kirk Brandon web site.

There are ten different "tiers" which allow you to preorder anything from just a digital copy of the album (plus updates) for a tenner right up to the £500 one off Ultimate tier! Thankfully most tiers aren't priced that high and I will probably plump for the £30 option with signed cd, bonus tracks and t-shirt!

Check out your options and order your album HERE

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

New SoD album previewed

Tonight Kirk Brandon streamed "Sputnik" from the upcoming Spear Of Destiny album which will be called "31 (Thirty One)". Full details about the album as well as how to pre-order it will be unveiled tomorrow night from 8pm at

Check out Kirks message here and hit the above link to hear the new track!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The International Swingers announce Pledge Campaign

The International Swingers will reveal details of their pledge campaign on August the first for their highly anticipated début album. No details of rewards have yet to be announced but I'll let you know the details once they are available!

In further James Stevenson news the video to "Go Mister!" is now available to view on YouTube featuring James and the Sexpistilletos check it out and if you haven't already....get his album!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Second Holy Holy date announced

Holy Holy have announced a second date for their "Man Who Sold The World" set and will play the O2 Academy in Sheffield on September 18th. Tickets will be available from this Monday (26th) from HERE

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

James to perform classic Bowie album....and new single!

James Stevenson will be performing the classic David Bowie album "The Man Who Sold The World" with Bowie alumni Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey and Holy Holy at The Garage in London on September the 17th.

The band who feature among others James, Steve Norman, Glenn Gregory and a trio of Ronsons in Maggi, Lisa & Hannah will also be releasing a single on the same day - the Steve Norman penned "We Are King" backed by a new cover version of Bowies "Holy Holy".

Tickets are available now from Ticket Web priced at £28.25...get yours HERE

 As always James' appearance is subject to other commitments and may change so please bear this in mind when considering purchasing tickets.              

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Behind the scenes of Horizons Sing - The View from the balcony!

Ellis Meredith-Owen is a tenor with the choir Acquire who appeared at the historic Horizons Sing concert earlier this month as well as contributing to the "Declaration 2014" album. This week he posted a great behind the scenes account of his recollections on the Facebook group Alarm30 The Fans The Stories...Ellis and the admins of the Facebook page have both given their permission for me to re-post it here....many many thanks.

Photo Nigel Adams
Hello all! As promised here's a small post taking you behind the scenes of the making of Horizons Sing. Just a few anecdotes and things because I know you like that sort of thing. Before I go on, I'm just a random tenor and these thoughts and feelings are my own, not Acquire's.

-We knew about Horizons Sing about a week before the press release, keeping it a secret was very, VERY tough!

-Rehearsing for the concert was more like rehearsing for one of our regular concerts, that is, we had music to learn. That said, our music only has our part on it, so apart from timings(more on that later), we had no idea what the orchestra would sound like until the day...

-Not everyone in Acquire reads music (I'm still learning myself) but we NEVER perform with music in front of us, which gave us 3 weeks to memorise everything...

...Apart from "A New South Wales" which we got last, and only had a week and a half to learn.

-As Mike was touring, we were given rehearsal tracks...these were edited versions of the "Declaration 2014" masters with inserts where Mike would sing extra bits. The discrepancy in volume and the shock of the new bits made me leap out of my seat in the library when I first downloaded it! During our one rehearsal with Mike, I remember his face when he heard these rehearsal tracks and him singing on them, recorded in a hotel room on a phone whilst on tour. "Don't worry, I'm not going to sing like THAT!" - the answer by the no. Sorry, no sharing of those!

-On the music it had where we would come in and on which bar, these had to be pretty strict as the orchestration was built around this, Leslie and John Quirke were our bosses in this respect, so remember the first run through of "Blaze Of Glory"? I've heard some of you say that we had to redo it because you were louder? Nope, in fact we EXPECTED you to be loud, it's because on the music there, there's a break for John to bring us back in, but you were going faster and's like figuring out where to jump on a fast moving train when you were supposed to get on at the station! The second run through we nailed it, and then kept up with you!
-The two songs I know I was most worried about was "A New South Wales" and "The Stand"...The former probably is obvious...but the latter? I won't say why...but I think we did ok there ;)

-During our one and only rehearsal with Mike before the day itself, he kept adding bits in, making suggestions and hand claps and of course giving us "permission" to join in with the cards on WWYH.

-Speaking of the Cards, we were ordered by John to throw them up and/or backwards...I remember my heart being in my mouth when I saw some flutter in front of us down on to the percussion section of the orchestra. She loved it though...thankfully. A lot of choir members wrote messages on their cards, we had to pick them up afterwards and my brother in law Mark Ward is working on a collage. They were things like "Acquire 2014, Marching On" on an ace and things.
-We were told to expect the unexpected on the day, and so a couple of hours before the start if the show, we were asked if we could sing in "Tell Me", so what you hear in the performance is what we'd memorised with very little rehearsal.

-Arriving in Cardiff in the afternoon, sitting down and hearing the strings start up for "The Stand" for the first time is something I'll never ever forget. I did secretly hope the Orchestra would mess up more during the rehearsals so we could hear more of them but they were amazing!

-One of my most memorable moments is just after the rehearsal/run through when we were given permission to sing our own songs in Hoddinott Hall, there were only a few technicians around as Huw Ellis-Williams, our Deputy MD sat at the massive Steinway piano, Leslie took the podium and we sang the first ever song that we had learned in Acquire with a couple of others. I ended the three songs as an emotional wreck as the enormity of what we had just done hit me...only to leave the room and bump into Leslie and John Quirke as I was in floods of tears, I wanted to have a chat with John, but had to excuse myself to get my head together.

-The BBC Orchestra and the crew were amazing and like everyone from MPO, they had made us feel completely at home, After the show I felt I need to see the front of the magnificent building to let it sink in, by complete coincidence, I bumped into my Mum, Sister and some of The Alarm fans from this very page. I missed out on seeing Mike, John, Smiley and Jules who had come to the choir's green room to say hello and thank us though. Next time Nigel and Roy, I'll have to join you in the pub ;)

-Getting on the coach was bitter sweet but our hearts were soaring as we drove past the front of the Millennium Centre...some members of Acquire seeing it for the first time..and we all sang "Blaze Of Glory" with our hands held high.

So there you little taster behind the scenes!

Ellis Meredith-Owen thank you very much!

Find out more about Acquire HERE
See behind the scenes pics of Horizons Sing HERE
Find out more about Alarm30 The Fans The Stories HERE

Thursday, 24 April 2014

James Stevenson album now on i-Tunes

For those of you who were waiting for a digital version of James' excellent album "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" the wait is over! You can download the album from i-Tunes for £7.90 or .79p per track if for any weird reason you don't want them all!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Gathering tickets info

Tickets for next years Gathering go on sale this THURSDAY (10th April) from 9 a.m. The 30th anniversary of Strength looks like it will feature and a full itinerary is available to view HERE

There is an extra incentive to order early as those doing so in the first 30 days  will receive a download code for a Mike Peters radio session from 2009 which features four previously unreleased tracks.

Got my hotel booked already.....can't wait!

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Hummingbirds Pledge Début Album.

The Hummingbirds who made many fans at The Gathering 21 have announced that their début album will be crowd funded via Pledge Music. As always there are a full range of options ranging from a digital copy of the album for £8 right the way up to £350 for Jays guitar!

Find out more and support The Hummingbirds HERE

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Westworld Weekend details....Dave Sharp added!

The details of this years Westworld Weekend have been announced with Dave Sharp appearing Saturday afternoon as well as Steve Allan Jones.

Day tickets are available for both days (£18.50 for the Friday and £24 for the Saturday) as well as the full weekend ticket which is priced at £39.

Get yours HERE

Sunday, 23 March 2014

James Stevenson - "Everything's Being Closer To Being Over" Track By Track

It had been a long time coming but the wait proved very worthwhile with James delivering an album of depth and charm with "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" wowing all those who hear it and gaining rave reviews in the main.

 I caught up with James to ask a few questions but mainly to get his own thoughts on the tracks that make up his solo outing.

It's been a year now since the release of the EP "Shapes Of Things To Come". Was it released to test the waters so to speak or as a means to satisfy fans until the album was released?

Just to give people a taste of the flavour of my record - so they'd know what to expect.

The album was released first at The Gathering and is now on general release, where can fans order it from?

The album is available through Absolute Marketing and my own website with iTunes and Amazon following soon.

The tracks for the album were written across a long period of time, were any of them destined for other projects first?

Yes, a long period. A couple go back nearly twenty years - a couple of the tracks were destined for GLJ but they never got finished. So I finished them myself!

With such a long and varied career what is it that defines the "James Stevenson sound"?

Fuck me - not sure really. Everyone plays in there own way. I like to create layers of different sonics - different guitars have different personalities and sounds. Discovering what any given guitar is good for important. At the end of the day I use the classic set up of Les Pauls and Marshalls, although all the clean guitar sounds on my record are a Strat through an old Fender amp.

The Sexpistilettos in action!
You stated before that to achieve what you wanted for this project in a live setting you would have to have a 9 piece band. I'm guessing this would limit your touring possibilities but is it something you are likely to do?

Yes - one day I will do it. I'm building up courage. I've worked out I could reduce it down to seven!

Have you given any thought to your next solo album yet?

Yes - Mark Taylor and I have already been working on a few ideas.

With that tantalising idea to think about what can you tell us about the tracks on the album?


I was in LA once listening to KROQ - a big station there, and they were having this problem phone in show. There was a priest and a shrink on the panel. This girl rang in with her problems and I couldn't believe she was baring her soul so publicly, that she found it preferable to go on the air and talk about her intimate problems rather than discuss them privately with her friends. The sad truth was all she was really doing was providing entertainment for the listeners. Horrible.


Kind of tongue in cheek, an indictment of modern inner city life. It's about the number of traffic cameras in London, and the rest of the UK for that matter - where it's all about making cash for the government with the pretence it's about traffic control. Would have played havoc, at the birth of the blues, with the 30s "crossroads" at the Mississippi Delta - you'd have had to go one way only or get a fine!


About some people I know, and one specifically, who are so deluded they're in the twilight zone! It's to do with Gene Loves Jezebel. To be specific we were served a cease and desist writ by Michael Aston's (Jay's twin brother) guitarist on stage at a gig we were doing in LA. He handed it to Pete Rizzo as we walked on stage. His "name" is Switch, I think his real name is Chris something or other. He plays my riffs every time he walks on stage with Michael - and he serves us a writ to cease and disist! Put up to it by Michael obviously. Unreal how the real world can be.


A song about people I know who are very talented but just can't seem to get their lives together - I'm trying to gee them up. They're dreamers - but there's some of that in all of us.


Shallowly disguised dig at Simon Cowell. Can you believe that twat compared himself to Malcolm McLaren? McLaren helped reinvent the music industry. Cowell helped destroy it.


A very personal song about the break up of my first marriage. We both found it very hard to let go. But sometimes in the end there's so much damage you just have to. They were very challenging times for us both, and our son too I'm sure. It's actually a very private and personal lyric but I wrote the song so I can't not share what it's about right? When I sing "so please don't tell me to find somebody, and anybody will do, cos I really need somebody" that's about the collapse of our sexual relationship and my ex-wife saying "well if you're that desperate go and find somebody else to fuck". I've spoken to a lot of friends about the collapse of relationships that they've experienced and the sexual side of a relationship becoming dysfunctional is a common thread. Happy days.


A song about reminiscing about an old relationship, how powerful it all was, how you shared each others dreams. Then it's over and you move on and it becomes just a memory, a figment of the past. I actually wrote it a long time ago about an old girlfriend, the actress Cindy Day.


This is a song about how our lives, no matter what we do, are really insignificant. All the pain, dreams, ambition, will mean nothing to anyone in three or four generations time - just as all the emotions people live through in their lives in the past were immensely important to them - but are all forgotten now. It's not negative - just an observation.


Another song about dysfunction - being in a relationship where the problems are so huge you can't even talk about it - you're so far apart not only have you got the answers to the questions wrong - the questions themselves are wrong!


This is a song about all my favourite guitar players - and how insignificant I feel next to them all.

Work out who they are for yourselves! (LOL)

Chris - James - Pete - PUB!

Thanks to James as always for his time and for the, at times very personal, insight into the inspiration behind the tracks that make up his superb solo debut. If you haven't already ordered your copy you can do so from you will not be disappointed!