Thursday, June 23, 2005

Scenes from a three storey squat

Now that we're working on the Camden Town subject, here's some more: Christian Gibbs - a musician and a San Diego native who now lives in NY - recently mentioned his London years in some interviews. He used to share a squat with the God Machine for some time. Here's some excerpts from 2 interviews:

"By the end of his teens, Gibbs had left San Diego with only a vague interest in college to pursue music and a bit of the unknown. Before long, one may have encountered a young boho busker in the form of Christian Gibbs working the city's famed Underground. While honing his writing skills, he performed tirelessly throughout the platforms and local street corners. He lived in a squat during this period, working bonus retail jobs at the thriving Camden Market.

I lived with this band called The God Machine, friends of mine from San Diego, says Gibbs. There were times where eight people lived with us in this three-storey squat in Camden. Looking back, those were some of the most adventurous times. I mean, it was a real change from growing up in conservative San Diego. London really opened my eyes."

"When I was 20 I moved to England for about a year and a half. It was supposed to just be for six months because I was doing a transfer program for school. When I was in London, you know, I worked. After the school thing I lived in a squat, I bussed on the subways, I worked at a market, Camden Market, selling clothes for little flea market stores.

What is a squat?
This was 89. Basically you break into a place, a dwelling that's empty, that's not being used even though someone owns it, most of the time it's government owned buildings but sometimes it's private residences. And, you put a lock on it and no one can break into it, and you get to keep it. But a lot of these places are like three storeys, equivalent to what we would call brownstones here. And they have like 8 rooms and so the one I lived in was on a really nice street. And musicians lived there, people from all different parts of Europe lived there, we had a guy from Paris, a guy from Denmark, a guy from England, two of my friends from San Diego were in a band called The God Machine and they lived there so I got in via them. You don't pay any rent. You throw the trash out the back window, steal the furniture from whatever pubs closed down.

How did you find it?
Oh, they found it and I just kind of weaseled my way in. Everyone puts a lock on their door, and you share a room with someone."

C. Gibbs in Deli magazine
Official site
C Gibbs My Space

Electric Ballroom saved

When the God Machine members came to London, they were broke, had no instruments and lived in squats. Many of you know that they sold jeans in Camden Market to get some money together (hence 'Death of a salesman'). A lesser known fact is that besides selling jeans Robin had a second job selling drinks at the Electric Ballroom (what a great name for a venue!). The future of the Electric Ballroom has been in some doubt as the city council wanted to tear it down in order to expand Camden Town tube station. The NME just revealed that due to a media campaign the Electric Ballroom will now be saved from demolition.
If you're in London you can easily check out the Electric Ballroom on Sundays when the venue is used as a market place where they sell cd's and clothing. They're even selling clothes on stage. :-)

Here's the piece from the NME:

LONDON venue the ELECTRIC BALLROOM has escaped closure.

The future of the Camden hall fell into doubt after plans to extend the nearby tube station required its demolishment.

However following a public enquiry, plus stars including Bob Geldof and Nick Cave sticking up for the venue, the Electric Ballroom has been saved, The Evening Standard reports.

The tube extension scheme was deemed to have " devastating impact" on the character and appearance of the area, would be "detrimental to the viability and vitality of Camden Town" and would have "unfortunate far-reaching social and economic consequences", according to the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, whose department conducted the inquiry.

The Electric Ballroom has witnessed several legendary performances including the Sex Pistols, Oasis and Cave, who welcomed the venue’s reprieve saying: "The Electric Ballroom is part of the lifeblood of Camden Town, and long may it remain so."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spanish interview

I just added the first Sophia interview of 2005 to the site. The honour goes to the people behind . The interview was done at the Primavera Sound Festival last month and happens to be the very first Spanish interview Robin has ever done. When asked about the lack of publicity for Sophia's last album in Spain, Robin had a go at EMI. "City Slang es una buena compañía, pero EMI es una mierda. Lo eran al principio, y ahora también..." or "City Slang is a good company but EMI are shit. Always have been and still are..."
EMI used to distribute and (not) promote the City Slang releases outside Germany. As explained in a previous post, that deal recently ended.

If you wanna read the whole interview, get a rough translation of this URL: at >

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Golden Book

Den Atelier, a rock club in Luxembourg, has put all the entries from their Golden Book online. Sophia signed the golden book twice, in 1998 and 2004. Especially the entry from 2004 is great. Someone from the band had some time to kill and made a drawing of all the band members. Quite funny. Will the responsible artist please step forward? Oh, and don't you think we should use the drawing of Robin as the new site logo? ;-)
Check the scans here: 1998 and 2004

Monday, June 06, 2005

City Slang - V2 - Labels -

City Slang (who released Sophia's 'People are like seasons' album) have just announced a new licensing deal. They are parting company with Labels/EMI and will now work with V2 (Europe) and Wichita (UK). It has been rumoured that things haven't been very well between City Slang and EMI/Labels for quite a while now. Under these circumstances it seemed unlikely that Sophia would release another album on City Slang. Maybe this new licensing deal might change things again...

This news is probably also the final stab for the site which was hosted by EMI/Labels. The site had been commissioned by the record company without actual approval of the band. I had to point out to Robin myself that the site was online. :-)
As with most sites hosted by record companies the updates were far and between. Last (and now probably: final) update was July 2004! They managed to keep their website alive for exactly half a year. Well done guys.
However, the annoying thing is that still today loads of Sophia articles or features in magazines and websites point their readers to for further information (see Pukkelpop site). Thus guiding them to a very informational and up to date site! ;-)
If you're reading this, you now better.

Press release (in German)