Webcore’s first offering, all the way from Cornwall, mainstays of Club Dog and many squat gigs and free festivals…
Loved the ‘Mick Karn’ bass sound on Webcore releases and live gigs.
What I can not find is too much information on the band anywhere on the internet so you will have to make do with an interview with the Webcore keyboardist Paul Chousmer on the aural-innovations.com site.
Roughly four or five years ago I was in England for both a vacation and to start collecting stock for a psychedelic mail order that I ran for a while. Most of what I bought was directly from the bands themselves or band members. This was still when you could write to an address off of a tape case or a compact disc insert and some one would respond to you. I don’t really remember how I had got Paul Chousmer’s number and address. But I did contact him before my vacation and he agreed to meet with me. He was even kind enough to drive into London so that I could buy a few items from him. It didn’t really hit me that the person I was going to meet had been there for all of the eighties U.K. Psych/Free Fest scene or that he was moving quite gracefully into the electronic and dance clubs. Musically his style has always been similar to ENO. His ability to create mind bending soundscapes is uncanny. They lift you and take you to places you’ve only dreamed of.
One of the first groups he was with was as big of a major attraction as the Ozric Tentacles. More than often they could be found playing the same gigs. Forming in 1982, Webcore’s music was more progressive then their contemporaries. Though still heavily psychedelic their sound is often mechanical and much more structured.
It was during the Webcore years that Paul developed his soundscapes. He and fellow Webcore member Dan Carpenter formed the chillout group Another Green World. Their title describes their music to a tee. They originally formed to play the early morning chillouts at a regular Ozric/Webcore venue Alice in Wonderland. This led to the all-too-common draw at Club Dog, the Deptford Crypt, and later Whirly-Gig and Return to the Source shows, one of which I attended at the Brixton Academy in 1996.
Shorty after Webcore faded in 1988 Paul focused his attention on Another Green World only taking time out to work with The Thunderdogs (the trippy house band for a traveling circus) and Spannerman (a spin off of the Thunderdogs). Then in 1993 he joined up with Phil Pickering and Mick West of Webcore to form Zuvuya. Mixing tribal and dance rhythms with the textured sound washes of Another Green World they became one of the earlier bands signed to the Delerium label. For these releases they collaborated with the psychedelic guru Terrence McKenna.
Though Paul is no longer with Zuvuya he has continued with Another Green World. He has released various compilation tracks with the Return to the Source group, and on Club Crusty Vol 1, Shamanarchy in the U.K., and the Dubmission label. He also has a full compact disc release on the Magick Eye label. I was lucky enough this last April to be in England when Paul had a gig in Exeter. The show was held at the Phoenix. Once I made it past the metal bird above the entrance that came alive every so often to open its glowing red eyes and spread its wings I witnessed a show that blew me away. Pure electronic psych, dub, dance bliss. Joining him on stage playing guitar, another of my favourite performers, was Russ of the Oroonies (another great festy psych band which spawned Joie of the Ozrics and later Eat Static ).
Paul recently performed as Another Green World for the Return to the Sources New Years Eve celebration at the Rocket.
DS: Can you give me an idea of your history musically?
PC: Webcore has some complicated roots. I’ll try to draw a family tree.
Vane – formed in Chelmsford, Essex 1981-3. We released two singles on Island.
James Vain – Vox
Phil Pickering – Bass – Webcore/Zuvuya
Clive Roberts – Guitar – later owned Trace Elliot
Colin Woolway – Drums
Paul Chousmer – Keys
Ring of Roses – formed in 1984. Signed to RCA Records for 100,000 Pounds though never released anything.
James Vain – Vox
Richard Havis – Guitar
Chris ??? – drums – later went on to play with Zodiac Mindwarp
??? – Bass
Dan “Spannerman” Carpenter – Sax
Paul Chousmer – Keys – left after four months
Webcore – formed in Cornwall in 1984 and lasted until 1987. Released several self-released cassettes, 2 LP’s and 2 12″s through Jungle Records.
Mick West – Vox
Phil Pickering – Bass
Paul Chousmer – Keys
Clive Goodwin – Guitar – later Ozrics sound engineer
Colin Woolway – Drums
Nick Van Gelder – Drums – had played with the Ozrics earlier-went on to Jamiroquai
Dan Carpenter – Sax occasionally
Mike ??? – left to join a monastery
Jackie Hannah – backing vox
Karen Kay – backing vox
Another Green World also started in 1984 when Dan and I left Ring of Roses. And it just keeps going…
Did you know about the Thunderdogs? The band played with Circus Archaos all over Europe and Scandinavia from 1990 to 1992.
Tony “Dog” D’Amico – Vox
Gavin Griffiths – Guitar – previously with the Ozrics and Ullulators
Dan Spannerman – Sax
Jonny Ellwood – Drums
Seaweed – Keys – now with Ozrics
Gabrielli – bass
Sound engineer and occasional pianist was me. And Stuart Zehnder and Generator John were along for the ride, sometimes tecking. You can see that these bands were fairly incestuous. Dan and Jackie have a son together, Jackie’s brother is Stuart Zehnder who played bass for Spannerman and then Jamiroquai also.
DS: I’ve never heard either Vane or Ring of Roses before. What was their music like?
PC: Oh it was such a long time ago… Vane was primarily psychedelic, but remember this was the early eighties so we had just come out of the punk revolution here and were fishing about with Goth and New Romantic styles. We were very much into electric sounds and effects. So imagine if you can: we were fronted by James Vain, 6’4″ tall, skinny as a rake, loads of make-up, electric coloured hair (he was influenced a lot by Bowie’s transformations – but dissolute as Lou Reed!), low lights, big bass, electronic noises all over the place – can you picture this? Very much a precursor to what Webcore got up to. A little less danceable, but much better looking! The band got fairly well known around the seedier underground scene in London. Great fun and fond memories.
DS: What about Ring of Roses?
PC: Ring of Roses was James Vane’s attempt to ‘get commercial’ (He had already blown the deal with Island Records after releasing two dreadful singles), so the songs were still vaguely psychedelic/new romantic, but very polished with definite ‘understandable’ lyrics and structures. With the help of a typical low-life manager the band signed to RCA for 100,000 Pounds, then fell to pieces – really RCA were impressed by the band’s appearance more than anything. The A&R man who signed the band left the company shortly after the signing. Always a bad sign. So the money got frittered away and nothing was ever released! What a sad story.
DS: How would you describe Webcore?
PC: Webcore were often described as way ahead of their time (at the time, if you can see what I mean.) I sort of took the roll of manager as nobody else would and we played everywhere. I (and Ed ‘Ozric’ Wynne) took the same view that the best way to publicize ourselves was to play wherever we could. So we often found ourselves at the same dodgy benefit gigs. All sorts of squats, free festivals, you name it. So we got a reputation for playing together all of the time. I’ve always thought our music was completely different. I felt there was a common psychedelic thread and we were always up for a party. Then Club Dog started (by Mike Dog, who later had the Ultimate Record label with groups like Eat Static and Senser) Webcore, the Ozric Tentacles and Another Green World all became regulars. And we grew with it.
DS: I agree that Webcore’s music was ahead of its time at the time. What would you say were the musical influences of the group?
PC: Our influences at the time inevitably included ENO, but also Psychic TV, Siouxsie and the Banshees, it’s difficult to say now from this distance in time. I would say we brought lots of different things together. Mick was a poet not a singer, so that was his approach. Trying to make his words fit. My idea was to create atmospheres behind the songs. Setting the scene. We were all experimenting. Just trying out ideas and if they felt good. It’s funny now that I’m teaching I see loads of young bands coming together. They all seem to want to sound like somebody else. The A&R mentality of copying whatever the last big hit was! We didn’t think that way at all back then!
DS: Webcore’s music also seems quite different from much of the other free fest bands like the Ozrics and Psi. How do you feel that Webcore fit into this scene?
PC: You’d have to ask this one of the audience really. I find it very hard to be objective. I would say that I was always surprised that Webcore’s audience danced a lot. I didn’t think of our music as dance music. This was fairly unusual in the free fest scene. Our music was also quite structured. Not totally, there was some room for improvisation. But there were definite maps to follow. The other bands seemed to be more into long wibble solos etc…
DS: How did Spannerman fit into the fold?
PC: Spannerman came together while we were all in the circus. We were getting bored, so we became the party band. When the circus finished we carried on. We played for a summer in 1992 with an offshoot circus “Matarank” at the Avignon Theater Festival in France. Clive Goodwin came along with his PA and looked after the sound. I left the band shortly after this as I was starting a family. The band then changed with Jonny Ellwood taking over on drums etc… We used to describe Spannerman as “psychedelic-punk-jazz.”
DS: If I remember right you played with the Fields of the Nephilim for a short while.
PC: The Fields of the Nephilim link came through Jungle Records. They had put out a couple of singles through Jungle before signing to Beggars Banquet. And the Field’s manager, Steve Brown, was a partner of Jungle. I was working at London University in 1988 or ’89 when they were looking for a keyboard player. They remembered me from some gigs when Webcore supported the Fields in the early days and tracked me down. That was great fun. I played on six tours in the U.K., Germany and France and also on their live LP. I really enjoyed myself.
DS: What became of Zuvuya? PC: Dunno the answer to this. I broke off contact with these people for reasons I’d rather not discuss. I made some music with them and it was put out through Delerium.
DS: What are your feelings on the festival scene of the eighties?
PC: You have to remember there was a right wing government ruling here at the time, with that bitch Thatcher at the helm. Lots of unemployment, kids on the dole, etc… Punk had run its course. We were all getting politicized. Stonehenge free festival was banned and suppressed by the police with a heavy hand. So free festivals were often a way to protest. We were all squatting, traveling. I have fond memories of that time. People were thinking of the world around them. I look at the kids now. They have no idea about politics. Nothing to protest about I suppose. The legacy of the Thatcher years is that everyone is out for themselves. Make as much money for yourself as you can and screw everyone else. I think that Reagan and his cronies did the same sort of thing over there.
DS: Through your music as Another Green World, you as an individual have moved quite easily from the scene in the eighties right into the club scene of the nineties and on. How do you feel about the club sound and what are you writing these days?
PC: I really like the music I hear in clubs these days. But it only sounds good in the clubs! In that atmosphere and loud. Most of it doesn’t seem to work when I put it on at home. However loud! In that sense I don’t really understand how I fit in. I actively try to make music that transports you from your armchair at home to some other place, without necessarily being really loud. This is important to me. So I keep in contact with these clubs, send them what I am doing. I just do what I do and they book me if they like it. This is probably quite old-fashioned these days. Everything is high sell, throwaway.
DS: Would you mind naming a few of the bands that you have supported or that have supported you in the past?
PC: Webcore supported on occasion:
Fields of the Nephilim
Doctor and the Medics
Another Green World has played with:
Banco de Gaia
DS: What are your influences?
PC: I have all sorts of influences. Holger Czukay, Erik Satie, Lee Scratch Perry, Thelonious Sphere Monk. These days I listen to a lot of early Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Albinoni and Klezmer music. Dub seems to be another common thread. I’ve taken a long time finding the nerve to play dub live. It certainly takes me to some of the places I want to go. I hope it does the same for the audience. Who knows where it will take me next.
DS: What are you teaching at University?
PC: I teach a variety of things musical at the colleges. Music Technology, Keyboard Skills, Music Theory and Music Business. All very time consuming. But it earns a living and is rewarding in other ways. It can also be very frustrating. Under-resourced equipment, unmotivated students etc…
DS: What equipment do you use live as Another Green World?
PC:Roland Jupitar 6
Roland s-550 sampler
DS: What do you feel the future holds for you musically?
PC: I’ll just polish the crystal ball!… I don’t know. I just carry on putting together music that appeals to me. And if other people like it great. I’ve never been terribly ambitious. I’ve always felt Music to be my vocation. I need to do it. And it’s nice when some money comes back from it. I have some vague ideas about getting into producing for other people or making film music. But it is high pressure work. And I prefer to work at my own (snail-like) pace. I have to have time to polish my work. I have been playing real instruments recently in a Klezmer band, with Russ and Jane of the Oroonies, and this is excellent exercise for the brain. In the very long term I suppose I will probably find myself playing piano jazz in my eighties. Though it is bound to be weirder than that!!!
Cassettes: Cinematography (A Real Kavoom ARK 4) 1984
The Great Unfolding (A Real Kavoom ARK 16) 1986
Consider The River (M.E.L.T. Music) 1987
12″: The Captians Table (Jungle/A Real Kavoom JUNG 30T/ARK23)
Running for the Precident (JUNG 34T/ARK25) Both 1987
Albums: Webcore (FREUD16/ARK27) 1987
WebcoreWebcore (FREUD22/ARK32) 1988
Cassettes: Leave it Mandy! 1992
12″: Grabbing Nandi by the Horns (Nation NR026T) 1993
Shaman I Am (Delerium DELEC EP 031) 1993
Albums: Dream Matrix Telemetry (DELEC CD 021) 1993
Shamania (DELEC CD 031) 1994
Another Green World
Cassettes: My Dreams in Your Hands (AGW 001) 1984
Boondocks (AGW 002) 1988
Adjusting the Mirror (AGW 003) 1993
Albums: Invisible Landscape (Magick Eye) 1997
Video: Ambiotic State 1994