On my holibobs last week, local Geordie Britpop/mod musician Bill Green of trio Billy Green 3, (not to be confused with the British-Upper Canadian scout who saw victory at the Battle of Stoney Creek, naturally) messaged a YouTube link to his debut single, “I Should be Moved.” Promised to get on it this week, finally made it; procrastination rules, but glad I did.
Impartial towards Britpop, it’s not Marmite, I take it or leave it. In my defence, during the era rave was the thing, Madchester just a slice and not a principally progressive slice when compared with breakbeat. To shock horror of Oasis fans, I sauntered past them on the NME Stage at Glasto 94; never heard of them, never cared to; I was hunting hi-tech party vibes, not a Beatles tribute.
I try to decipher if my appreciation of the genre has matured, or if it’s the forceful sixties-mod element which, while present in Britpop generally, seems particularly prominent in Billy Green 3’s style. The words and riff echo a Britpop classic for catchiness, studio noise and tambourine intro and, especially, the chorus though, rings the simplicity of sixties mod. With the modern component of a perfectly placed sample, the circle is complete, Samuel L Jackson’s one-liner as Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield completes it. “Sounds great, Bill,” I replied after a tinny listen on my phone’s speaker, because it does. Grown on me more, now I’ve got it on loud.
If anything, the magnitude of this slick three-minute ride spurs me bookmark Billy Green’s next local gig, though none listed yet; watch this space. Meanwhile I wanted to gage Billy about what the recording side equates to. “I assume it’s an original song,” I asked, “written by you?” and fired several other minor questions all at once, at least England was one-nil up…. at that point.
“First recording with the new project, me and a young lad called Harvey Schorah on drums, backing Vox and all-round vibes,” Bill replied. “I wrote the words and music, played guitar, bass and sang lead and backing vocals. Martin Spencer [The Badger Set, Potterne] produced. He’s a magician, essentially, he took the song in my head and made it come out of the speakers; just love this creative process in addition to the recent live shows.”
On what this will spur, Billy explained, “second song in mixing as we speak, and then hopefully will work out how to put them out as a mini EP.” Posted on their Facebook page today, we may get a listen to it, Lose Our Way, at 7pm.
Drafting my next question, for the review lead us onto football, I mouthed my thoughts that England are sitting back on a 1-0 and then, oh dear (or words to that effect!)
“Brilliant,” Billy added, “the review, not the football, they were poor on the first half apart from the penalty, still time though; being a Newcastle fan sometimes optimism is all you have!”
This fell appropriately onto my last question; does Bill think Newcastle had a scene during the Britpop era to rival Manchester?
“Prior to Britpop I think,” He suggested, “later 80s, there was a label called Woosh, my mate’s band, the Nivens were on there and ran on Flexi discs. There’s a retrospective out called C87 which was named after the NMEs C86, but a couple of decades later, they’re on there, so jangly guitar pop; the Nivens actually opened for the Smiths. Club nights at the Broken Doll and the Riverside, basically was my musical apprenticeship, introduced me to so many great bands. Moving into the 90s, there was more of a grunge scene with Cranes etc, now there is a resurgent drone scene with a hotel in Byker putting on Japanese noise artists, it’s a bit bonkers.”
“Bonkers could describe any current pop scene in the UK though,” I scoffed.
“Fair point,” Bill nodded, “Alan McGee doing his bit for guitar bands with the Creation23 label, and This Feeling are putting on some good nights. I work in London a bit, so have been to a few of their club nights. Met up with the now defunct the Shimmer Band from Bristol, who I thought were destined for great things. DMAs came out of that scene, from Australia, and are now heading festivals, think Shame came up through there, my mate’s band Free Money are booked in, they even did the last Lexus ad, which is a bit mad. I guess I’ll always be a fan of the get a group of mates together and play in a garage until someone notices you route.”
Well, that’s been the ethos for many a decade and never did the garage scene of the sixties any harm. Stuff the Simon Cowell karaoke TV show fiasco, Billy Green 3 is archaic in fashion, just enough to know the score, yet fledgling to fit into the burgeoning music scene here; I think “I Should be Moved,” puts a stamp on that; take a listen and decide for yourself.
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