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From Los Angeles to the Haçienda: The Ballad of Kickboy + Philomena

Philomena and Claude

There is no shortage of charisma (positive and negative) in Decline of Western Civilization — X, Alice Bag Band, the Germs, Black Flag Mach 1.0. But the segment where a certain Claude Bessy — Slash editor, raconteur extraordinaire, Catholic Discipline ringleader — holds court is different; even the hardcore punks look like poseurs next to Claude’s poetically splenetic rants.

Claude, whose poison pen reviews in Slash were signed with the unassailable pseudonym, “Kickboy Face,” is a profane French chain-smoker who is utterly contemptuous of any kind of hipster canonization of punk or any other music form. When “Decline” director Penelope Spheeris asks, “Does Kickboy have a lot of enemies?,” he practically spits out his reply: “I should hope so, otherwise I am wasting my fucking time.”

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‘Cut, Paste, Bleach, Tape + Love’: Designer Chris Bigg Shares His Inspiration for Piroshka

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When Lush called it quits after a brief but successful 2015-16 reunion, the big question was: Would vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi keep playing music? (She left music almost completely after Lush drummer Chris Acland’s unexpected suicide in 1997.)

The answer arrived late in September 2018, when the following message appeared on Lush’s Instagram page: “Miki has a new band! Follow @piroshkaband on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!”

The band’s first official Tweet included a photo of 4 familiar faces (provided one is well-versed in the history of 4AD, shoegaze and Britpop) and the text, “Welcome to Piroshka — Mick, Moose, Miki and Justin. We’ve all been in bands before, y’know.” (Roll call: Mick Conroy from Modern English, one of the first bands on Lush’s label 4AD — and a great friend of Acland’s; Moose, aka KJ McKillop from jagged psych-melancholists Moose; and Elastica drummer Justin Welch, who played drums for Lush’s reunion EP and gigs.)

Piroshka press photo (Bella Union)

Piroshka video still (artwork by Mali Andersen)

But don’t call them a supergroup. And don’t pull the inevitable band algebra to try to figure out the resulting sound — you know, “Piroshka equals Band X + Band Y squared – the square root of P…” Given the weight of their collective histories, the new band seems determined to keep the music relaxed, informal and not weighed down by previous critical responses.

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Finished artwork for Belly's DOVE LP and FEEL 10" EP, 2018.

Dove: Behind the Artwork for Belly’s New Album

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When Belly reunited in 2016 after 20+ years, they didn’t waste time hinting that they might have new material in the works.

Initially, the band floated the idea of an EP. But at some point, they clarified that the songs they were happily toiling away at in the Rock n’Roll Control Center (AKA bassist Gail Greenwood and partner-in-crime Chil Mott’s vintage bungalow) had actually blossomed into a PROPER LP.

Dove, the first new Belly recording since 1995’s King, arrived this spring, and the band are now on a multi-prong tour across the US that extends into early October.

Rather than talk about Dove, hailed by Pitchfork as a “fusion of grace and force” and covered pretty extensively elsewhere, I asked the band to discuss the creative process behind the creation of the album’s artwork.

Belly ca. 2018 is a staunchly DIY effort — everything from social media to tour booking is being handled by the band, with a few exceptions. Artwork duties were undertaken by drummer Chris Gorman, who contributed photos to all the Belly releases put out by 4AD/Sire in the 1990s, and Chil, who has for years been a design and production guru at Greenwood Associates. Take it away, Chris and Chil!

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