INTERVIEW: Help Stamp Out Loneliness

help stamp out loneliness

Manchester sextet Help Stamp Out Loneliness have just released the best indie pop album we’ve heard all year , with their self titled debut out just this Monday through WIAIWYA. Drawn in by striking front lady D.Lucille whose resonating tone that quivers some where in the regions of Nico and Patti Smith, but retaining a individuality, a warmer knowingness that elivates these meticulously crafted jangling pop songs toward bittersweet majesty, harking back to the best work of Saint Etienne and the cinematic swoon of Camera Obscura.

Their soaring recent single ‘Record Shop’ that told the tale of a rock star groupie in the clutches of a glorious tune was an apt celebratory release on Record Store day itself, a day where we all champion our local independent record shop. It’s a theme they return too again on the clicking ode to audio cassette wrapping on ‘Cellophane’. Sometimes it may look backwards to a time of dusty vinyl sleeves, and kisses behind the bike sheds, but this album is littered with paeans to female characters whether they’re metaphorical, living, dead or just lost and never to be seen again. From the dear John Letter of spangly opener ‘Cottonpolis+Promises’ that twinkles and twinges bizarrely mediating upon the domestic lives of Nico and John Cooper Clark. To the sublime lullabies and skipping rhythms of ‘Angelyne’ bristle with an exquisetly unrequited ‘I can’t get you out of my head’ lyric vingnette, concerning a girlfriend? Or a Hollywood star? Maybe both! Featuring the witty kiss off line. (‘Stuck a bannana up your exaust pipe and that I regret.’)

The aformentioned ‘Record Shop’ is a chanson inspired by Sandra Bernhard’s character from Scorsese‘s ‘King Of Comedy.’ These rub shoulders with takes that one suspects are much closer to HSOLs personal lives the divine casio beats, tumbling drum lines, elegant melody of ‘Palma Violence’ perfectly juxtaposes sinister violence with heartbreak of multiple female characters, the lingering refrains (‘I’m in trouble…..’) filtering through each note. ‘My Window’ is another standout it’s gliding fuzzy guitars, swirling keyboards swooshes and a lingering twitch of the curtains reveal a melancholic anthem to loneliness and neighbourhood watch. The glorious album center piece ‘A Ghost with a Hammer in his hands’ documents a metaphorical joust between ex-lovers, while ‘Tracy Tracy’ has more of a 60s feel, plucked out acoustic guitars house a gorgeous metaphorical motif that encapsulates that feeling of being able to take on the world when you find the one you love (‘When I’m with you there ain’t a thing I can’t do/ Solar power hasn’t got a thing on you’).

We caught up with Help Stamp Out Loneliness; main songwriter and guitarist Ben Cooke, just before Record Store day for a few moments of his time, to discuss his love of Records, record shops and to touch on his band’s debut album.

What was the first record you bought?
‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson.

Favourite memories of record shopping as a kid?
Peeling the “2.99!” stickers from albums in the budget bin of Stockport OurPrice and sticking them on the new releases like ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson.

Favourite pieces of vinyl artwork?

‘Universal Audio’ by the Delgados.

universal audio

Favourite record shop? And why?

Double Four Records, Stockport – it’s where I first discovered picture-disc vinyl and band t-shirts with long sleeves.

Which record(vinyl) do you still play to this day or are you more of a keep them in their jackets looking pretty in their sleeves kinda guy?

Any 7″ rock n roll, ska or soul – any recordings past ’83 don’t sound so good on my Co-Op record player. The only exception to that rule is ‘Gentlemen’ by Afghan Whigs.

Why do you think Record shops are so important?

They’re a really good place to pull and if they didn’t exist there’d be a lot smug, authoritarian hipsters out of work.

Did you ever form any bands through Record shop classified ads?

Yes – this one.

Which Record shops do you still frequent?Or are you all Itunes/Ipodded up these days?

Piccadilly Records (Manchester) for CDs; Beat n Rhythm (Manchester) for Vinyl.

Are you doing anything special for Record Store day?!

Sleeping off a hangover.

Why did you choose to write a song called ‘Record Shop’?

I needed to think of a building or place that rhymed with ‘cops’ and all I could think of was ‘shop’ but that was boring so I put ‘record’ on the front.

Help Stamp Out Loneliness – Record Shop by wiaiwya

Do your favourite Records transport you back to important memories?In that way are they like little emotional bookmarks?

Kind of – especially records that came out when I was alive … I think certain scents transport me to places in my memory far better than music do though.

Do you think there was more care taken over creating of an experience of an album in the past?Have you taken that into creating your own debut LP?

If you mean with the digital age are we less precious about how we make music? I’m not sure how much weight you can put behind that. Some classic bands threw together absolutely dire albums at the start of their career – I’m thinking of the Beatles and the Jam – I don’t think anything has changed, although as proven in this interview . . . what would I know?

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.