Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Podrophenia - Show 15... Royalty!

Never shy to get in on a bandwagon, Mondo and I are back with a special 'royal' Podrophenia podcast. But don't worry, we won't be gushing on about how lovely the bride looks, and "didn't the Queen mum have a lovely smile?".... It's just an excuse for us to churn out 10 'noble' tunes about (or by) Kings, Queens, Dukes n Princes.

In amongst the usual non-scripted waffle, there's some vagely royal news in Piley's newsround, you'll hear about street parties, naff commemorative items and we pin point the exact moment when Mondo went off the royals!

And something that's the nation has been wondering for some time now, just how flat is Mondo's head these days?!  A live experiment take place....
well it has to be said, it's still a remarkably flat surface...

but the whole bloody thing's on the tilt!

Oh and this album cover gets a mention... who he? He's not Johnny Rotten that's for sure.... but which band from the mid to late 80's (who both Piley & Mondo were obsessed with) was he in?

This cover is also mentioned in dispatches...

You can listen to it here:

download it here:

or pick it up at iTunes here (along with all previous shows): Podrophenia on iTunes

Baron Piley

Royale With Cheese?

I know it sounds like a joke (I certainly thought it was one initially), but incredibly, long-time 'Start The Revolution Without Me' favourite, Richard Cheese has got the big wedding reception gig this Friday! Really! Who'd have imagined that Kate n' Wills were 'down with the Dickster'?

Apparently it all started with a tip off from a friend of Wills, and now Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine will perform a set of their swankified versions of Rap, Metal and other inappropriate tunes at Buckingham Palace! They go on at around 12.30pm, just after the happy (?) couple arrive from the ceremony. The band have even been invited to stay at Buck House overnight... in a suite used for visiting dignitaries!

Assume the BBC coverage won't extend to a hour of Dick 'effin and jeffin, but it may have actually made me tune in! Love to know what set list he has in store... I wonder if he'll throw in Candle in the Wind, as an inappropriate gesture?!

From the 10 albums he's released to date, this would be my hand-picked set-list for the newlyweds:

Welcome To The Jungle
Like A Virgin
Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Me So Horny
Smack My Bitch Up
She Hates Me
Insane In The Brain
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Die MF Die

Which all leads rather nicely to Podrophenia 15... which will be here in just a few hours time....

RC: Welcome to the Jungle

RC: People=Sh!t

Actually, you've got to give credit to someone who can make the below track vaguely listenable! Simply awful.... Slipknot: People=Sh!t


Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Piley Diary: April 1977

Bit of a cheek really, promoting this as my April 1977 diary, when in fact I lasted just 4 days into the month before I finally lost the Samuel Pepys buzz. The rest of this 5 year diary remains empty (can you e-Bay a blank 4 year and 8 month diary I wonder?)... although rather ambitiously I note I had at some point gone through in advance, adding the following years, to save time in the future!

We'll never know now my thoughts on the Jubilee celebrations and street party in June, the new smaller pound note being introduced in August, the release of 'Never Mind The Bollocks' in October, or the release of the first Star Wars film in December. Although having said that I clearly remember being allowed to see it with a friend, Barry Smith (whatever happened to him??!), and getting a Star Wars lolly before the main event that came with a free cardboard Chewbacca mask!

So for what it's worth, here's the last few days of my 1977 diary... good to see I betted on the Grand National anyway....


Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Millipede Engine - Exclusive Interview and Competition!

Last week I was all of a buzz about the discovery of a gem of an album, Bye Bye... We're Melting by The Millipede Engine. This week my excitement has been cranked up yet another notch, as one half of the band, singer Brill Nudie, has kindly granted me an exclusive interview. And that's not all... there's also a double competition with 3 copies of the album up for grabs, as well as an ultra-rare 12" Millipede Engine test pressing. But more on that later... Now it's over to Brill....

How did you and Honey meet?
Well, you can read the full version of this tale over at, but, in a nutshell, Honey and I were early teenage friends and did make music together on and off over the years, including as an early incarnation of The Millipede Engine. In fact, we got as far as test pressings of Angry Aeroplanes/Skyscraper (both re-recorded for Bye Bye... We're Melting) and we had artwork for the cover depicting all manner of aircraft buzzing around a couple of skyscrapers in the style of Gilbert and George's Flying Underpants painting...can't remember if that's the correct title.

original draft design for the cover
 of Angry Aeroplanes/Skyscraper

However, this was before 9/11 and in the light of that event it seemed inappropriate. We didn't want it to look like we were cashing in on the misery of it, or, perhaps worse, that we were just trying to be controversial...which would have been a bit we scrapped it. Then things just kind of fizzled out before we even started. I guess that's the opposite of serendipity, whatever that might be.

Anyway, it was definitely serendipity that reunited us three or four years ago when Honey and I were involved in a gentle head-on collision with each other.. There's more detail about that on the website too, but aside from the high improbability of the crash itself happening, the strangest thing was that we were both listening to Wire's 154 at the moment of impact. It would have been even spookier had we been listening to the same track, but I happened to be listening to 'A Mutual Friend' and Honey was listening to 'Two People In A Room', both songs somehow appropriate. Obviously it was a sign to reconnect, particularly as it happened on the A303 right by Stonehenge.

The Millipede Engine? What's all that about??!
Briefly, The Millipede Engine is a kind of heavy industrial tunnelling machine, like a gigantic metal worm, with a dual head part that controls the whole thing. The body is comprised of many different replaceable motor segments, which means the thing never breaks down and it can just keep on trundling along while faulty sections are replaced on the fly. It seemed somehow fitting for us with our nucleus of Honey and I and various other contributors that come and go along the journey... plus I like the underground connotations.

Sorry to keep referring you to the website, but again it's more fully explained by an entry reproduced there from the Industrial Machinery Digest.

What other possible names did you come up with?
Oh, there were a few... Diesel Fish, Cuckoo Spit, Majestic Giant and even The Radium Dazzlers spring to mind. Ha Ha Bonk was another, which you may remember is the sound of a man laughing his head off. Aside from the humour of Ha Ha Bonk, I liked the fact that the name could be reduced to a logo of 2HB, which you probably know is a great Roxy Music song. Anyway, in the event we didn't use any of those.

How would you describe your sound?
That's possibly a task best left to others, as our version of what we think the sound is might not tally with the reality of it. We do seem to confound expectations in that people have a hard time trying to pin us down... we've had the full gamut of comparisons, from rock to art rock and prog through to alternative, indie and noise pop.

Who knows, perhaps all of those labels are appropriate, but I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. What I can say is that, despite not having an easily identifiable sound, we don't intend to dumb down to a more uniform style throughout the next album just to make it easier to categorise The Millipede Engine. We have more faith in the listener as it's clear that people can handle a range of different flavours on one album quite easily.

Which artist(s) have inspired you along the way?
It's probably apparent listening to the album and all the comparisons we've had so far are certainly things we've enjoyed over the years. I pride myself on my good taste, which may come across as arrogant, but it's true. Much of the music I've liked from the off does seem to be made by bands with a certain longevity. In the song Killing Time, there's a line that goes: "We like our music with some razzmatazz, art-punk, noise-pop and all that jazz"... which I suppose is a bit of a clue.

Can you list your top ten albums and singles to give us a bit more of a clue?

Honey Lane: Albums
1. The Beatles – The White Album
2. The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
3. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
4. Blur – Thirteen
5. Iggy Pop – The Idiot
6. Wire – 154
7. Elvis Presley – The Sun Sessions
8. Bob Dylan – Desire
9. The Clash - London Calling
10. Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets

Honey Lane: Singles
1. The Beatles – Hey Jude
2. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
3. Flying Lizards - Hands 2 Take
4. David Bowie - Life On Mars
5. Rod Stewart - Maggie May
6. David Bowie - Heroes
7. The Clash - London Calling
8. T-Rex - Get It On
9. Jimi Hendrix - Cross Town Traffic
10. David Bowie - Fame

Brill Nudie: Albums
1. David Bowie - Low
2. Iggy Pop - The Idiot
3. Blur - Think Tank
4. Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure
5. Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets
6. The Divine Comedy - Promenade
7. The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
8. The Smiths - Strangeways Here We Come
9. Pixies - Doolittle
10. Wire - 154

Brill Nudie: Singles
1. Roxy Music - Pyjamarama
2. The Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK
3. The Flying Lizards - Hands 2 Take
4. The Sexual Objects - Here Come The Rubber Cops
5. John Lennon - #9 Dream
6. The Fire Engines - Candy Skin
7. Swell Maps - Let's Build A Car
8. Sparks - When Do I Get To Sing "My Way"
9. Suede - Trash
10. Ten Benson - The Claw

Your album 'Bye Bye... We're Melting' came out for 'download only' in December 2010, with the CD released in March 2011. Why did you chose not to release them at the same time and what reaction have you had to date on the album?
To be honest, it was only ever going to be a digital release, which saddened me because I'm a fan of decent packaging and I still can't get a thrill from an iTunes download. Also we started getting a few enquiries about a physical version, so thankfully HotSkull gave us the go-ahead to include the free EP and splash out a bit on the packaging...which we're really pleased with. It's very limited though, I think there are less than 500 copies and if we repress it won't be the same package.

It's early days regarding press feedback as we've only just sent the thing out, but so far we've been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm. Though we're obviously proud of the album, it's almost impossible to gauge how good it is until we start getting honest opinions from people who don't actually know us.

What's the weirdest\oddest instrument in your armoury that you have used on a recording?
Hmmm... In terms of traditional instruments we have things like a zither, a euphonium and a harmonium in there and I think a nose flute made it to the finished mix too. But I'm no Harry Partch or even Thomas Truax come to that. Life's hard enough. Having said that, I wouldn't mind having a bash on Truax's Mother Superior!

Do you stick to your own roles in the band or do you mix it up and experiment?
Simplified, I'm the singer and Honey is the guitarist. I pretty much stick to vocals but I like to contribute the occasional easy-to-play part on an easy-to-play instrument... I'm no musician. Honey contributes more to the overall soundscape and always manages to create some very interesting sounds with guitars and general wizardry... not to mention some wonderful chord changes for me to write my vocal melodies over.

Do you ever write songs with other artists in mind?
Not as of yet, but whenever we hit that first creative block, that may be a good device to move things along... thanks for the tip!

Who would do a great ME cover version?
Erm...I could spend a few hours answering this one. Robert Smith would most likely make a good fist of Angry Aeroplanes, if not only because The Cure are one of the more frequent comparisons we receive... alongside Bowie, Brian Eno's early albums. Blur and even Pink Floyd. All highly flattering comparisons, which we're obviously not worthy of.

The Man Who Gave Everything would benefit greatly from the Arcade Fire's magical touch. I bet MGMT could do something special to Planet Tasters and I would love to hear Bowie tackle Fifteen Forty Three. Killing Time by Johnny Cash would have been cool, if only to hear him say Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes!

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a song and why?
Lady Gaga, simply because we would generate enough sales with the association to pay for the next album! Artistically, too many to list here, but because of the weirdness of the crash Honey and I had, probably Wire. Still a great band, but for me they were The Velvet Underground of the 70s in that they were so influential but didn't sell so many records.

Is it possible to recreate the ME experience live?
Right now it's not a priority as it would be good to get the second album finished and have a stronger repertoire before people start noticing us. We have a notion to do one-off events as opposed to trawling the usual venues, etc... partly down to my mild agoraphobia. If that becomes an issue though, particularly as Honey is keen to play live, I might have to do a Brian Wilson and send somebody in my place.

What does a Millipede Engine run on?!
RP-1, Rocket Grade Kerosene... actually it's simply a desire to create something special and hope we can persuade a few people along the way that that's what we've done. One of the factors that has stopped me personally doing anything much over the years is my feeling that I can't possibly compete with the music I love and that we can't add any new colours to the palette. But when you look at the bigger picture you realise that everything is insignificant anyway, so we may as well throw a couple of little pebbles into the ocean along with everything else and if it's a nice calm day we may even create a momentary ripple or two.

You talk about Honey being a lady in your promotional blurb. But the photographic evidence doesn't really bear that out does it?!
She's not a woman in terms of her physicality... but to me she is female. I'm not even suggesting she's a woman trapped in a man's body, but you know how it is when a person's general outlook belies there actual gender. Honey is like that. I guess I see most people as either male or female and it often has no bearing on their birth sex.

You and Honey live some distance from each other, but you grew up in the same area. Has that distance changed the way you work?
You would think so, but not really. We do still get together now and again and we've had the kind of simpatico that often comes with long-term relationships since we were kids. The geography and my agoraphobic tendencies don't help matters, but obviously the internet has made things much easier generally.

On the occasions that we do see each other, Honey will usually travel to me, we'll plug in a couple of guitars and without even speaking we'll 'jam', for want of a better word, for hours at a time. Even though much of that stuff never makes it to tape, it can be magical. As I say, I'm no musician, but Honey is about the only person I can feel comfortable enough with to pretend I am one. She is very generous in that respect and seems to enjoy those moments as much as I do.

You are curating the ME Festival. Pick 10 artists (past or present) that you'd want to perform.
I've gone for the old cop out of bands doing whole albums... Again, this list could be endless so I've not included bands who I've seen since they reformed but missed when they were originally together, such as The Sex Pistols and The Velvet Underground... And obviously the reformed Pixies are keeping their flame alive with plenty of live work... Morrissey almost fills the gap left by The Smiths... so this list is made up of sets you're not likely to see anytime soon... in no particular line-up order as that would be an impossible task...

- The Fall - their yet-to-be-released double album compilation of singles.

- Grandaddy - the first three albums...with an encore of the best from the rest.

- The Clash - the whole of the first album and highlights from the rest...up to and including Sandinista.

- The Associates - The Fourth Drawer Down and Sulk.

- Adam & the Antz - Dirk Wears White Socks and pre-Dirk stuff... original band but with Marco supplying all the feedback.

- Wire - Chairs Missing and 154... (already saw them do Pink Flag at The Barbican).

- David Bowie doing whatever he wants as it's been so long since he did anything live...but with Ronno guesting on Moonage Daydream and Hendrix opening the show with a ten minute intro to Station To Station before Bowie even strolls on.

- Iggy Pop - The Idiot and Lust For Life with the line-up combined from both those original tours. Iggy would have to get his hair cut though!

- Brian Eno - All the songs... no instrumentals. Don't get me wrong, I love the ambient stuff, but after the teaser of a couple of songs from Before And After Science at Brighton last year it would be great to see him back up front... perhaps Roxy could join him for an encore of the entire For Your Pleasure album.

- The Beatles and The Stones share a set with The Beatles doing Beggars Banquet and The Stones doing Abbey Road.

Ten is nowhere near enough!

What next for The Millipede Engine?
We are about half way through the second album which we're very pleased with the progress of and really hope we can get it out there later in the year. The working title is 'You're Coming To London', which I thought was the phrase lucky contestants on the likes of X-Factor would hear if they had enjoyed a successful audition. So I thought it was nice and cheeky for a second album title. However, when I've mentioned it to people they've looked at me blankly so I may have that wrong.

Anyway, I'm a bigger fan of Britain's Got Talent and why James Boyd isn't a household name after consuming four Ferrero Rocher in a minute, I'll never understand.


So there you have it! Sincere thanks to Brill for taking the time out to answer my questions. And thanks also for kindly donating some cracking prizes for an exclusive Millipede Engine competition....

Yes, THREE copies of their storming debut album 'Bye Bye... We're Melting' are up for grabs. This is the full, glorious pack (as described in my review), complete with bonus 4 track EP, postcards, fridge magnets and more. But that's not all... In recognition of Record Store Day today, Brill has also kindly donated one of the last remaining 12" test pressings of Angry Aeroplanes/Skyscraper from his own collection (as mentioned in the first answer of the interview) as an extra special prize.

There were only around fifty of theses pressed, the majority of which were distributed to friends and family at the time. These are both completely different versions to ones that appear on the album, and unavailable anywhere else! Surely an instant collectors item that will exchange hands for a fair few quid in the not too distant future.

So what do you have to do??!!

1. To be in with a chance of winning a copy of the CD, send an e-mail with 'Millipede Engine CD Competition' in the subject line to: (or just click here and it'll do it all for you!). 3 e-mails will be drawn at random after the closing date to each receive a CD pack.

2. If you want to be in with a chance of winning the 12" test pressing of Angry Aeroplanes/Skyscraper, all you have to do is identify the three band names from the list below that weren't considered before The Millipede Engine was settled upon:

Diesel Fish
The Solar Flares
Cuckoo Spit
Majestic Giant
Sugar Glider
The Radium Dazzlers
Ha Ha Bonk
Blonde d'Aquitaine

Send the bogus names in an e-mail with 'Millipede Engine 12inch Competition' in the subject line to: (or click here and it'll do it for you). One lucky winner will be drawn at random to win the 12".

The closing date for both competitions is Saturday 30th April 2011. Good luck!!



Thanks to everyone who entered these 2 competitions, there was a very healthy number of entries for both. The closing date has now passed, so I have just added all the entrants for each competition into a 'random name selector' tool (which can be found here: I can now reveal the winners as follows:

CD's go to:
John Medd,
Just Jacqui and
Gary Fowles.

The 12" test pressing goes to:
Rob Banks.

Congratulations to you all!


Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Millipede Engine

Art Rock with Pop Sensibilities

There's a general rule of thumb that the older you get, the more jaded you become. No more so than in the world of music; where new bands try harder and harder to win your approval, but so many fall into the 'seen it all before' category. But every now and then, something drops on the mat to knock your cynical socks off, and make you realise once again just how great music is. The current ray of sunshine here at Piley Towers comes courtesy of The Millipede Engine, and their album 'Bye Bye... We're Melting', which I've been playing non stop for the last couple of weeks.

Initially released as a 'download only' album at the back-end of last year, it finally got its 'hard copy' release last month. Creating an album as accomplished as this would be a remarkable achievement for any artist, but as this is their debut album, it's even more so.

The diversity of each track is simply stunning, so much so, that you could be forgiven for initially thinking it's a compilation album. But rather cleverly, after you've heard it a few more times, themes and links start to build, and you soon realise that this is the work of two very versatile and contrasting musicians. Yes, it's clear that Brill Nudie and Honey Lane are serious music lovers, and their wide and varied influences can be spotted throughout. A journey through this album conjours up images of literally dozens of artists, but The Milepede Engine are no lazy 'cut n paste' machine, they are much too smart for that. Despite numerous bands dancing across your brain whilst you listen, you couldn't say that The Millipede Engine sound like any of them, and there is the real trick....

A snippet of bass brings Joy Division to mind, the wail of a guitar reminds you of Carlos Alomar period Bowie, a moment of dark ambient swish sees Eno, there's the faintest whiff of a 1980's Edge guitar solo, a burst of vocal has the smudged lipstick of Robert Smith all over it, and so it goes on.... Arcade Fire, Adam and the Ants, Blur, Ultravox, The Virgin Prunes, My Life Story, Syd Barrett, Killing Joke and many more are all fleetingly brought to mind. But apart from a very few exceptions (notably Bowie, The Cure and Eno) these influences are only ever really noticeable in one of the 12 tracks. Sparing use of piano, strings and brass all add to their ever-changing sound, and give this album a huge sweeping feel at times.

And as if this album isn't good enough on it's own, the limited edition physical release comes with a bonus 4 track EP ('The EP of Unconditional Love') that is every bit as good, containing 2 remixes and 2 non-album tracks. It's almost a crime to not include the 2 'new' songs on a proper full-blown album, but it certainly makes for an impressive collection of music.

Even the packaging of this release deserves a mention. Without doubt the best I've seen in decades, and reminiscent of those good old days when you'd buy a vinyl album with all sorts of nifty inserts, gifts and clever ideas inside. I can still vividly remember the excitement of repeatedly thumbing through the A4 size booklet that unexpectedly came with my early copy of Kings of the Wild Frontier! (anyone remember Elastica lifting the exact same design for their own debut album booklet some 15 years later?!).

The 2 CD's (which each come in their own separate packaging) are contained within a slightly over sized wraparound sleeve and PVC wallet. But that's not all you get.... There's an envelope containing a pre-printed 'thank you' note from the band, 5 glossy postcards (most of which are loaded with band info on the reverse), 2 postcard sized fridge magnets and a fold out containing all the lyrics. Even the cardboard mailer that it comes in has been thought out, and the nicest touch is an actual Royal Mail Millipede Engine Stamp! How cool is that?! All for just £9.99!

Art rock it certainly is, but it comes without any of the trappings that can often dog that label. It's not pretentious, over-blown or over-long (not a single track breaks the five minute barrier). Just 12 well written, multi-layered and extremely accessible songs. Pop songs for real music lovers if you will.

Like all the best albums, you get a little bit more out of 'Bye Bye... We're Melting' every time you play it. But I'm still no nearer putting this album into any category, genre or pigeon hole, and in these days of so much dumbed down, manufactured dross, I think that's a great compliment. If this isn't the 'Start the Revolution Without Me' album of the year come 31 December, I'll be shocked. Get one while you can.


The band have kindly allowed me to stream a track here for your listening pleasure: SKYSCRAPER:

Keep tuned for a Millipede Engine interview coming very shortly, and don't miss your chance to win a copy of the album right here in an exclusive competition!

You can visit the official Millipede Engine website HERE, where you can read more about the band, hear all 12 tracks streamed, and purchase a copy of the limited edition CD pack.


Friday, 1 April 2011

Podrophenia - Show 14... April Fools!

Can it really be that time again? Yes... with something alarmingly close to regularity, Mondo and I are taking the Podrophenia jalopy out for another spin. This time the theme is April Fools, so expect to find it jam packed with songs of comedy, novelty and, erm, potential abduction. Hmm, one of those doesn't sound quite right...

In these days of austerity we know that we're expected to give more for less, so we've crammed in 12 tracks this time around, and it's an extra 15 minutes or so longer than usual. All at no extra cost to you, dear listener. Chatwise, there's an update on the flatulence problems in Malawi, an Art Rock related April Fools gag, the pitfalls of record vouchers, plus all the very latest from Piley's Newsround desk....

You can listen to it here:

download it here: Podrophenia 14

or pick it up at iTunes here (along with all previous shows): Podrophenia on iTunes

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