Wordpress has a fancy new feature where you can use your cell phone to directly post audio content to your blog. I interviewed The Postelles last night at their debut San Francisco show. The following is the full, unedited (albeit questionable audio quality) interview: [audio http://amandavanwest.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/audio-post-2011-01-28-04-32-12.mp3|titles=Audio Post]
Two years ago, I interviewed a British band called The Voom Blooms for our music/culture show, "Visionz", on USFtv. I recently caught up with Craig, former guitarist/keyboardist, as part of an interview for my Arts and Entertainment Reporting class, to discuss what he's been up to since the band split up last year. Check out our episode of "Visionz" below, and the interview with Craig! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuGpOtIqtHw&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca]
With his tight black shirt, even tighter black trousers, and a shaggy mop of dark brown hair, 27-year old Craig Monk looks ready to strap on his guitar and step out onstage to a mass of adoring fans.
But it’s not the stage of the Royal Albert Hall he’s stepping onto, and there are no swarms of fans screaming his name. It’s the Defector’s Weld pub in Shepherd’s Bush, a pub he’s been managing since his former band, The Voom Blooms, split up nearly one year ago.
It’s a quiet afternoon at the Weld, with just a few people scattered around the heavy wooden tables, enjoying pints of lager and seeking shelter from the drizzly London weather. Mellow jazz music permeates through the air, blending together with the murmurings of deep conversations.
As he sits down with a fresh pint of Guinness in hand, Monk seems relaxed, despite this being his first interview in almost one year. Since 2005, he played guitar and keyboards for The Voom Blooms, a Loughborough-based indie rock band.
But after four years of living the rock star lifestyle, the band decided to split. “We were like a unit, a family, but it got to a point where we had enough and were tired of being poor,” explains Monk. “But I still have great memories from being in the band,” he recalls with a nostalgic grin.
Blooming Blossoms The Voom Blooms started gaining momentum in the summer of 2006, after getting over 12,000 fans on Myspace in just a couple of months. After recording their first single, ‘Politics & Cigarettes’, they spent many late nights adding friends on Myspace. “But that was back when Myspace counted for something,” explains Monk.
Their persistence paid off, though, garnering the attention of BBC Radio 1’s Steve Lamacq, who played their single on his show. A week later, after receiving a phone call from Babyshamble’s manager—who had heard their single on Lamacq’s show—The Voom Blooms went on their first tour and signed a one single deal with Fiction Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.
However, industry politics proved to be difficult for the band. “When our second single ‘Anna’ was released, our former manager decided that we needed a hook in order to get press. He came up with this story about me and George [lead singer] being secretly gay, and missing a gig in London because we were arrested in Paris after getting too drunk. We basically said, ‘Fuck off’, and so we didn’t get a story,” he recalls with a sense of disdain.
“Pressure comes from the top down. The record labels want a certain image, one that will sell. They try to tell you what to do and if you say no, they drop you,” he continues. “It got to a point where it stopped being fun.”
A New Label Eventually the band moved to an independent label, managed by Brandy Provenzano. Under new management, they were received better in the U.S. than they were in the U.K.—even gaining a residency at Hollywood’s infamous Viper Room.
“I think the U.S. is more open to different genres of music, and the people are friendlier,” explains Monk. “I remember playing one gig at Neumo’s [in Seattle], and I didn’t have the right converter for my plug. The bouncer drove all the way to his house to pick one up for me!” he reminisces in amazement.
“You don’t get that in the U.K.” Despite finding success—and friendliness--in the U.S, the combination of exhaustion and outside obligations led to The Voom Bloom’s split (“But we’re all still good friends”).
Although he didn’t pick up a guitar for six months after the band split up, music is still an integral part of Monk’s life. All of his staff members are in bands (“We have seven drummers, and we even have a drum kit in our basement!”), and The Defector’s Weld often hosts after-parties for his friend’s bands. So will he ever get back into playing music?
Finishing off his pint of Guinness, he replies, “Music is like a drug; of course I’d like to get back into it. But if I do, I’d just like to quietly release something, and not have to market it.” You can take away the tour buses, sound checks, and recording sessions, but Monk’s passion for music remains as strong as ever—band or no band.
Ten years ago, a cheeky-faced British man stole the heart of a young girl in Delhi. Enamoured by his charm and wit, 12 year-old Richa Yadav would spend hours glued in front of her television to watch Ian Wright host “Lonely Planet.” Discovery Channel had just made its way to India’s airwaves, and its factual entertainment documentaries fascinated Yadav. Watching that first program was the spark that set her on the path to journalism.
The now 22 year-old student laughs as she pulls out her mobile, which has the “Lonely Planet” theme tune on it.
“I was obsessed with this show! I loved that it was all about travelling and exploring cultures around the world. It’s what made me want to pursue this career.”
22 year-old student, Richa Yadav
Coming from a family of doctors, she was the first to pick a career path in the humanities.
“My dad was so mad when I first told him!” she recalls with a nostalgic smile.
“But now I’m the guinea pig for the family. They give me the freedom to do what I want, and they watch and see how I do.”
The support from her family has helped her achieve many milestones in her short career as a journalist.
Before the age of 20, she already had two documentaries under her belt, including an expose on public displays of affection.
“I would hide behind trees to film people kissing! My best shot was filming a couple making out in their car, from the view of their rear view window. They had no idea I was filming them!”
Discovering Her Path
Her documentaries, which appeared in an inter-college film festival in India, landed her a job as a bulletin producer at NDTV, a news station in Delhi.
“My boss had seen my documentaries and offered me a job that I hadn’t even applied for,” she says with the same shocked expression usually reserved to lottery winners.
Despite working for a television station, she felt that she needed to explore a new path in life.
“I’d always wanted to come to London, and I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere in my job so I decided to study here,” she says.
Since coming to London, she feels that it’s more important to experience life and culture outside of school, rather than sticking to the books.
“The course is good, but I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new,” she admits. “I think a big part of being a good journalist is to explore and meet new people.”
And how do her parents, who are funding her education, feel about her relaxed attitude?
With a cheeky grin of her own, she says, “My dad tells me to go out more! I’m just like, ‘what happened to you dad?’”