Commuter Belt Forecast: November 2009

26 Nov 2009

 “we used to get too drunk, and had huge sessions of hatred” – reminisces fiona from love to make noise on the scene in suburbia before they started putting on awesome shows.  they’ve found an ally in our own bronya francis, who, in the first of a regular series of columns, details the collective’s various goings on in an interview, and introduces us to sarah macintosh’s the good natured outfit.


Crikey, it’s been a busy past month for us southern counties folk.  The totally magnificently fantastically brilliant Joy Formidable have played a secret gig at arguably Reading’s favourite gig venue, The Oakford Social Club.  Joining them this month on The Oakford’s billing have been Tubelord and O. Children, and a sack-full of BBC Introducing… gigs have also been put on at the station-side bar. 

Another show put on at The Oakford in October included the elusively elfish Good Natured, aka Sarah MacIntosh.  Here’s why she’s our pick of the bunch for November…

Commuter Belt Band Of The Month: The Good Natured

There have always been terrific little bands and solo artists playing their way around the Home Counties; now more than ever, these musicians are crawling out from the suburban woodwork, wheedling their way into the peripheral of the Capital, and are no doubt bound for commercial success.  The Good Natured is this month’s tip for the top. 

Sarah MacIntosh has been championed by the likes of Steve Lamaq and a load of other reputable music-bodies.  She is the spawn of the Kate Nash/Lily Allen generation of ballsy, realist singer-songwriter girlies, without the ‘mockney’ accent.  You wouldn’t think there was any room left in that female solo singer niche, and may be muttering to yourself ‘Christ, not another one’, but read on for a bit… at the age of seventeen, Sarah grabbed her granny’s organ keyboard before she threw it out, and doodled little drawings in marker pen all over the blighter.  She pursued to write personal, lyrical music, which she sings with some sort of difficulty, an almost passive passion; this makes the sound she creates pleasingly genuine.  When she embarked on her project, you could hear The Good Natured on MySpace singing with her lone organ (sometimes with bassist Hamish for live performances) sounding really quite raw; what a difference a couple of years makes- her musical progression is presumably a result of her curiosity in the production side of things, but it has also no doubt been influenced by tech-savvy chanteuse Little Boots.  Moreover, she is what La Roux should have been- less screechy and vulgar, more delicate and heartfelt.  She’s playing a few dates in London at the moment, so naturally we recommend you pop along to one of her gigs.


Commuter Belt Feature Of The Month: Love To Make Noise

In the deepest, darkest depths of Greater London’s environs lies the sleepy suburb of Egham, of which its greatest assets are the Tesco in the town centre, a few decent pubs and the station that provides young students who reside there with a relatively cheap half-hour train ride to the heart of The Big Smoke.  In fact, many would argue that the town wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Royal Holloway University stood unfittingly majestically, smack bang in the middle of its main road.  No nightlife (we’re not counting the Students’ Union), no music scene (unless you’re into church choirs), nothing… until Love To Make Noise founders, Seb and Fiona, showed up a couple of years ago. 

Love To Make Noise is essentially a couple of gig promoters, with help from a handful of their friends, bringing live music to what otherwise would be a very dull, scene-less settlement.  We caught up with them for a quick chat to find out how they have become the saviours of many students’ social lives!

“It’s desolate”.  Egham, that is.  Not my words, but those of Seb Wheeler, one half of gig promoters Love To Make Noise.  He, along with Fiona Allison, has arguably created a unique music scene, out of boredom and some desperation.  “It’s very isolated.  The entertainment and the social scene here isn’t so hot.  It’s not alternative in any sense.”  Fiona adds: “You feel a bit isolated because there is no where to meet like-minded people, who are into the arts.” 

 Seb:  “We both come from quite creative backgrounds”.  It is nigh on impossible to leave a place with its own music scene, in which you have grown up and discovered its venues, its local bands and people with whom you have interests in common, to enter a community with a very sparse cultural background.  Fiona explains: “I grew up with lots of friends in bands, and that’s your social [life]- you go out to see people play, and you meet people who play instruments and listen to the same music.  There didn’t seem to be that type of community vibe here… We did meet a lot of nice people but no one really got together, so we wanted to create something where people would all meet up at the same point and be able to share their interests.” 

There isn’t even a gig venue in the small Surrey town.  “It’s quite dead.  So we used to get too drunk, and had huge sessions of hatred.  We used to sit around the table in Halls and just get really annoyed!  I used to put on shows back at home, and when I came here I thought, ‘I’m not doing any more shows- it’s London’.  I came here and realised, oh f*ck’s sake, I have to start doing it again.  [Love to Make Noise] started out of boredom, a real restlessness.  I find when I’m not doing something, some kind of creative output; I can’t just sit around complaining all the time and not doing anything.  So I think what we’re trying to say is, there’s no scene here, not that we even wanted to create a clique-y scene, but we just wanted to do something…!”

Fiona: “We are just a group of friends”.  That is something that becomes quite clear when you go to their shows, which have a warm, fun, comfortable atmosphere, as opposed to some (not all!) of the gigs you will find in central London that are just too formal, almost clinical even.  Seb elaborates, “We don’t really see it as just the two of us- we see it as everyone from us putting up the posters, to our mate driving [stuff] around, to the people that will pay five pounds who come and dance.  We’re all just part of putting a bit of life into Egham, really.”

This friendly little clan’s hospitality doesn’t cease to end; they sacrifice the safety of their own homes in order to put on some cracking house gigs.  “There are a couple of guys [at uni]… who do illustrations, and we got a load of them printed and put them up on out walls as an exhibition for people to come and have a look at.”  Love to Make Noise! have also previously printed a ‘zine, fronted a radio show on Insanity (a local university radio station), released compilation CDs, “and do a little bit of schoolwork in between!”  This coming year, Seb, Fiona and co. are going to release an EP by a lovely little local indie pop band Tabloid Vivant. 

Seb concludes, “I think people realise that, due to Love To Make Noise!, there might actually be other people at University that think the same as them.”  Fiona: “Hopefully people will start some other things as well.”  Here’s hoping that, with a much needed kick in the backside from Love To Make Noise!, Egham’s exciting mini music scene will continue to grow.

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