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Hugh Dellar Of The Beatpack Chats With Musos Guide


It's been 28 years since imperishable RnB hipsters (in ye olde sense of the word) The Beatpack released their debut EP on Screaming Apple Records, recorded by Billy Childish no less. I caught up with front man Hugh Dellar on the eve of their Scottish dates.

D: Set the scene as it were, how / where and why did you get into this particular genre? 

H: I started out in a garage band Thee Wylde Things when I was 16 in the mid '80s. We morphed into The Beatpack by 1987. We were based initially in Hastings then moved to London. Simon had been in The Tyme Eliment in Huddersfield. We poached him in 1987 and started recording. We had a deal with Screaming Apple in Germany. Will the bass player joined in 1989.

D: Sounds like you all had a good knowledge of '60s garage/r'n'b?

H: Yeah. Totally. From when I was 15 or 16 I was obsessed with The Pretty Things, The Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds. American garage stuff. Dutch beat like The Outsiders. Totally evangelical about that music. Still am.

D: Fab. It was harder to hear/find the more obscure records back then, and of course we're talking pre-internet. I can relate to that obsession! How was the move to London? did the signing with Screaming Apple Records happen once you'd moved?

H: We moved to London to avoid getting into endless fights with locals. And to be nearer the scene. And record stores.

D: That makes sense.

H: Screaming Apple happened after Ritchie from the label saw us kill it at The White Horse in Belsize Park. He gave us some money and we recorded the EP Head On Home with Billy Childish, recorded in Red Studios in Borstal, near Chatham. That came out in '89, then the LP Could You Walk On Water, and a final 45, Not Tonight.

D: What was the scene like back then? 

H: The scene was ok. There were us and The Aardvarks. The Margin of Sanity. The Clique. But the US stuff was more where we were at. The Tell Tale Hearts, The Chesterfield Kings. We suffered from not being Mod enough for the Mod scene in London.

D: Yep. What is it with those pesky Mods?

H: Uptight types.

D: It must have been quite a whirlwind, being so young, obviously passionate about the music you were playing, putting out records, recording with Billy Childish. Why the split?

H: Long story. There was a lot of acid flying around. And E.

D: Okay ... kind of goes hand in hand with the music though doesn't it?

H: We were starting to open up to other music. Stuff we couldn't play ourselves. We played with acts who were in it to get famous and had our head turned. Grew up a bit, grew apart. Folks wanted to do other things with their lives. Girlfriends, the usual.

Our Drummer went off to travel and we all had to get proper jobs.

D: So in the interim, did you get involved with any other musical things?

H: Yeah. Will did Cee Bee Beaumont among other things. Simon was in bands. I became a teacher and lived in Asia for four years. Stopped playing music but wrote for Shindig magazine, and bought endless records. We didn't see each other much, for ages.

D: So how did you get it together again? 

H: We realised it was twenty years since the LP, agreed to meet to play a few songs from it. Realised it sounded great and went for it again. We realised how much we'd all missed it. Screaming Apple also reissued everything we'd done for them, and we did new 45's for State Records.

D: What are the differences playing now?

H: It's harder to get gigs these days as we're off the scene. We're older and uglier, but we reverted to basics. Hurt playing stuff we love.

D: Wow.

H: Now we make a record every year and hang out together. Write new songs.

D: Rewinding slightly, what would you say was the first record you heard that made it all happen for you?

H: Hard to answer. The Stones. Always. I guess. 'Get Off Of My Cloud'.

D: I was expecting something more obscure, but then I suppose that lead you to seek further.

H: Yep. Then The Pretty Things. The Outsiders. Q65 etc. Back From The Grave etc.

D: Natch! What do you think about the new generation of R&B/Garage bands such as Les Grys Grys?

H: Love them. But they love us more. They're good mates of ours. They're good people. Love the Greg Prevost solo stuff. Black Mambas. Detroit Cobras etc.

Not much in the UK though.

D: What about The Baron Four?

H: Like The Baron Four too.

D: Finally, please feel free to promote yourselves.. 

H: We've Got the new EP out. Back, Behind And In Front. It's rather good.

We can certainly vouch for that. A glowing review of their EP Back, Behind and In Front can be found here.

Catch The Beatpack at McChuills in Glasgow tonight. Support from Johnny & The Deadbeats and at thee prestigious Franklin Rock 'N' Roll Club tomorrow, supported by organ grinding commotion-ists The Sensation Seekers.    


In Profile : State Records

State Records are quickly becoming one of the hottest labels on the garage and beat scene right now. With releases from bands of high calibre such as Thee Jezebels, The Thanes, and Graham Day and The Forefathers to name but a few. I asked co-founder of State, Mole Tozer, how it all began...

Mole: Initially, the label was formed by myself and Marty from The Higher State (hence the label name and ‘THS’ catalogue prefixes) in 2007, specifically to release a Higher State single, because we didn't want to waste time and energy schlepping demos around to various labels, with the usual lukewarm (or non-existent) responses, so we pooled a little money we had between us, and got the 1st record out (The Higher State ‘And In Time’ b/w ‘If We Don’t Realise’) ...no sleeve, no distribution at that point, but it was out! 

Over time we started working with other groups, starting in 2009 with the 1st single from garage punk legend, Paul Messis (‘Stuck In Society’ b/w ‘The World Is Square’). We picked up decent distribution from Clear Spot in Holland and Get Hip in the US, branched out into mail order, stocking ace new titles from other hip labels around the globe, then in 2015, Marty dropped out, leaving me in charge of the whole operation.

Debbie: What do you get out running the label in terms of rewards? I'm guessing it's a passion rather than for financial gain?

There’s SOME financial gain—there has to be, it’s my only source of income! I do this for a living now, which is tough to say the least, but it’s just about viable. The real reward is unending positive feedback from people on each successive release, paired with repeat buyers and regular customers who basically buy everything I put out, which would seem to indicate that the label now has a good reputation for picking up interesting groups.

A massive reward for me is the sound of the records. Most of them we actually recorded ourselves, starting off on a cassette 8-track machine, graduating to a half-inch 8-track reel-to-reel about 5 years ago. I’ve got a home studio set up, crude and basic but effective. It also functions as a side-project to the label, if I record something I won’t (or can’t) put out....the label doesn’t really deal with LPs anymore (I just LOVE singles!!), so for instance, The Baron Four just tracked an LP’s worth of material with me, but someone other than State will put it out.

Releases selling out is also a buzz; although I wholeheartedly believe in EVERYTHING we’ve put out, it’s validated by people actually buying the things! 

The other huge positive for me is the packaging and presentation of the releases...little things like finding a company that will press 7” records with an old-style push-out centre...having a print firm that can accommodate laminated flipback sleeves and produce our wonderful Parlophone-style company bags...the heavyweight vinyl runs we did for a while...the rubber-stamped plain sleeves...the hand-numbered postcards...

Debbie: What can we look forward to from State in the very near future?

Next on the list is a killer 45 from French garage/soul band, The Missing Souls (‘Sweet, Sweet Sadie’ b/w ‘The Alligator), due out 18th July. After that is the “comeback” single from The Embrooks (‘Nightmare’ b/w ‘Helen’), which should be out late August... other things in the pipeline include further singles with Les Grys-Grys and The Beatpack, either later in the year or early 2017.

Debbie: In terms of the garage/beat (and associated genres) scene, how do you feel it's faring just now? 

Things seem like they’re in a good place right now, in terms of the ‘scene’ (not sure you can really call it that...) ...there are certainly some great groups doing the rounds now, alongside some older muckers (myself included!) who never lost faith. The ‘return’ of vinyl (I know—it never went away, but in mainstream terms) I think has had a positive effect on the smaller labels and groups, although everyone’s now fighting for pressing time/space with the majors, but we’re getting there. The various festivals in the UK and Europe (Hipsville, Franklin Fest, Funtastic, Purple Weekend etc etc) all seem to be flourishing, and there are plenty of younger people attending, hungry for something outside the narrow confines of media-fed listening.

Hoorah to that! A lot to look forward to. Thanks to Mole for taking the time out to chat. You can find State Records here... http://staterecs.com/

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