Phil and I are now very good friends once again. I went to see his bands and was inspired by both. In fact I was so inspired, I have been making a documentary film about his Berlin based band Fatal Shore for three years now. I am in the process of going through all of the footage on tapes for editing. I have over 50 tapes, which means over 50 hours of looking for the best bits for editing. My eyes are tired, but I am looking forward to completing this film. It was because of meeting Phil on that fateful day in Prague I got to know so many inspiring people. I hope to do justice with the Fatal Shore film for Phil, Chris Hughes and in respect and Honor for the incredibly talented Bruno Adams, who passed away in 2009. I filmed Phil´s band and interviewed him for Richard Lowenstein´s documentary about Rowland S. Howard. I would write Phil´s bio information, (I always do the writing about people, but I make an exception in this case) but fussy Phil would find some objection to it I am sure, so I will let write Phil Shoenfelt introduce himself in his own words. Click on any highlighted names above and below for information, it will take you to the specific site.
Phil Shoenfelt is an English musician/singer/songwriter/author who has lived in Prague since 1995. He is a veteran of the UK and New York punk and post-punk scenes, and during the early 1980’s was the front man and principle songwriter for the New York-based band Khmer Rouge. In the five years the band was together, Khmer Rouge was a favorite on the NY club scene, and toured in the USA supporting such acts as The Clash, Tom Verlaine, Alan Vega, Nico and Billy Idol. Returning to the UK in 1984, the band did two UK tours with The Fall before finally splitting in 1986.
Phil then began his solo career. His first single was released on Mark E. Smith’s Cog Sinister label in 1989. A support slot with The Fall followed, as well as several concerts supporting Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds on UK tours in 1990 and 1991. Two solo CDs were released on UK independent labels in 1990 and 1993. After a Czech tour in 1994, Phil decided to move to Prague on a full time basis. Since moving here, he has recorded several more CDs, both with his Prague-based band PHIL SHOENFELT & SOUTHERN CROSS and with the Berlin-based Australian band FATAL SHORE. Although Fatal Shore ended with the death in 2009 of founder member Bruno Adams, Phil continues to play regularly with Southern Cross at venues across Europe. To date, he has had a total of 13 CDs of his music released on various labels in the UK, USA, Czech Republic, Germany and Greece. The latest is Golden Vanity, a collaboration with the late Nikki Sudden, which was released in 2009 on the UK label Easy Action. At the moment Phil is mixing the new PS & Southern Cross CD, which will be released in October 2010 by Easy Action.
As well as these musical activities, Phil has had two books published to date: Junkie Love (a fictionalized autobiography) and The Green Hotel (poetry and song lyrics). Junkie Love was first published in Czech translation in 1997 (as Feťácká Láska) by Maťa Books of Prague, and has become something of a cult book for young Czech readers. The book was published for the first time in English in 2001 by Twisted Spoon Press, and went on to win the Firecracker Alternative Book Award (NYC, 2002) for best book in the Drugs Books section. Since then it has it has been translated and published in Italian by Fazi Editions of Rome. A Greek translation is being prepared for publication by Electra Books of Athens, and an extract has appeared in Erotika – Drogen und Sexualitat by German philosopher Wolfgang Sterneck. In 2006 Junkie Love was licensed to Ebury Press/Random House for UK and Commonwealth distribution, and this new edition was published in July 2007. Phil’s writing has also appeared in literary magazines such as Gargoyle (USA/UK), Garageland(UK), the Prague Literary Review, Optimism (Czech Republic), Hele (Czech Republic), Blatt (Czech Republic), Apple Of The Eye, (Greece), Morgana (Germany) and Vlna (Slovakia). He is also included in the The Return of Král Majeles, a recently published anthology of post 1989 Prague writing put together by the Philosophic Faculty of Charles University. At the moment Phil is working on a new book (Stripped), an autobiographical novel set in downtown New York in the years 1979-84.
I first met Pavel Cingl through Phil Shoenfelt. I had not seen Phil in ages and he told me to see his band Phil Shoenfelt and Southern Cross. The band was really good and the violin player really grabbed my attention. He would occasionally switch over to playing mandolin. A rock and roll violin player... I have heard of violin in bands from the Velvet Underground and... well, there are others, but a rock and roll mandolin player? Unique, but then again, Pavel is unique with his style of playing. He puts his heart into it. Pavel was born in Teplice, Czech Republic. He started playing violin when he was six. He was expected to go into classical music, but formed a rock band in high school playing guitar and singing. This evolved into a punk band called Ineptus. They were very popular and played at lots of clubs and festivals, but they were not too popular with the Czechoslovakia Communist Party. The communist party said they were too negative and anti-social and were swiftly banned and when you were banned, you were banned. You could not play.
Pavel was a member of the popular Czech band band Nahlas with Ivan Hlas. He met American singer/guitarist/songwriter Brad Stratton, and together with Australian Grahame Ryan they formed a band called Snake Eaters in 1992. Pavel still continues to play in this band with Brad Stratton, Vladimír Vytiska and Jaroslav Kvasnička. In 1997, Pavel met Phil and became a member of Phil Shoenfelt's group Southern Cross along with members Pavel Krtouš and Jaroslav Kvasnička. He now plays rhythm guitar and mandolin in the band, as well as violin. Since 2005, he plays also in duo with Phil Shoenfelt, which is promoted as "Phil Shoenfelt & Pavel Cingl". Pavel has played with many other bands. I saw him last playing with Mark Steiner and his Problems. He was one of the Problems on violin. Pavel plays on film soundtracks, for theatre performances and on Czech TV. Pavel played in the Rowland S. Howard tribute concert which I filmed for Richard Lowenstein´s documentary. Pavel will continue to play throughout the world hypnotizing people with the melodies from his violin and mandolin.
It was a warm summer day when I met Sonja and Hank to do the photo session. They were both nervous about playing at a festival in London. They had no idea how they were going to get there with all of their instruments. I told them that they have enough loyal fans here in the Czech Republic that would probably be more than happy to drive them there and back. Sonja and Hank play in a band called Kill The Dandies! I first saw Sonja and Hank playing on stage with their former band Moimir Papalescu & The Nihilsts in 2003. Sonja was singing wildly in the mic with her hair going all over the place and Hank played guitar while making deep low guttural sounds in the mic. The band was quite special. They were one of the few Czech bands that broke away and developed a sort of international fame, but sometimes when a band starts to get famous they break up. Why? I don´t know, but it sure seems to go that way sometimes! The band broke up in 2007.
Sonja and Hank being the creative resourceful couple that they are, did not take this lying down. They regathered their energies and formed Kill The Dandies! with Richard Fischer on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Wratislav Placheta on drums, Martin Horejsi on bass (Martin Růžička used to play with band. He played bass and steel guitar on the band´s new album) and of course La Petite Sonja - vocal, keyboard, synthesizer and Hank J. Manchini - vocal, guitar, maracas, lap steel, and synthesizer. The band has been together for three years now. They have been playing lots in Czech Republic and touring Europe. They have surprised quite a lot of people with their unique sound. It is a mix of sixties garage rock with a Cramps style of psychotic rock and roll, mixed with a lot of rawness of Hanks voice that reminds one of Lux Interior, but then Sonja starts to sing and her voice is a cross between a Japanese pop singer ala Shogun Knife and some unworldly alien. Steve Morell best described them as psychedelic western rock and roll. They have just released their first album "I saw White Fields" (featuring Steve Morell) produced by legendary Flying Dutch Bert Neven on Berlin‘s BLASS Music / FREIBANK, distributed by Pale Music Int.
Kill The Dandies have developed quite a following. I last saw them play at the tribute concert for Rowland S. Howard. I filmed the concert and interviewed Sonja and Hank for Richard Lowenstein´s documentary about Rowland S. Howard. They put on a great show. We did the above photo after a lot of walking around and deciding it best to take a relaxed photo of both them on a nice sunny day along the Vltava River rather than in a dark damp practice studio room. Sonja, Hank and band did get to London and they played at the festival. As a result of playing in London their album is now being distributed by Rough Trade.They are happy Kill The Dandies! If they are playing near you, do yourself a favor and see them! Click on any highlighted names above to get further information about them.
I met Steve Morell many times and he has always impressed me. Steve has a great presence and a true talent. I met him in the process of going back and forth between Prague and Berlin. I would meet him in one city or the other. Like me, Steve is also connected with both Berlin and Prague. He is engaged to an amazing czech woman & performer Monika Pokorna (They also are creative partners doing many collaborations together such as the recent video for Paula Immich. It is a video of Steve´s music.Steve and Monika sing on it) and has the strong connection between both of these cities. I am still trying to understand the connection between these two cities. I first saw him DJing, perhaps at White Trash in Berlin, but then again Steve is so much part of the night cultural scene in Berlin I must have met him and experienced his creativity and music many times. I have featured him in the earlier Einsturzende Neubauten photos and writing.
I wrote earlier that John Murphy was the last person that I last interviewed for the Richard Lowenstein documentary about Rowland S. Howard. It was not true. Steve was the last person and we were frazzled and frenzied. Everything was going wrong, we were late, Chris Hughes and I met Steve at the Dead Chicken bar otherwise known as Eschaloraque.in Mitte, Berlin. After being far too late, Steve had enough and was not the happiest. We managed to do the interviews and I took this photo in the toilet at this wonderful sweet Berlin bar. It is the result of this mayhem. It is a frazzled and frenzied photo.
Steve is an incredible Berlin producer, musician & DJ. He has just released 12” single of a haunting song called Loneliness. It is a release from Steve´s forthcoming album “The Life and Death of Jimmy Pheres and his Rise from the Underworld” There are two versions from Steve and refined by the backing vocals of Johanna Sadonis as well as one Remix by Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten) and England's best electro producers Punx Soundcheck who just finished a remix for Bloc Party. Steve is the head of Pale Music International. It is a music production company that produces and works with very special musicians. Steve does wonderful remixes with people he enjoys. One of a kind.... Steve Morell. Some times the least amount of words capture a person. Please click on the highlighted names above to find out further information.
John Murphy was the first and last filmed interview that I did for Richard Lowenstein´s Rowland S.Howard documentary. At the time John was living with Chris Hughes. (Chris as usual helped doing the interview) There were a lot of jokes that John was Chrisˇpermanent flatmate. He kind of just moved in when he was exiled from the UK and never left. John has since left and went onto something much better and actually got married somewhere in Finland or the shamanic lapland regions. I have to say John is one of a kind. He is very mild mannered. He is a very private, quiet and mysterious person until you enter his world..., if he allows you to. One would not automatically think of him being in bands such as Death in June and Knifeladder with their reputations of violence and aggression . I should emphasize that reputations and myths are very similar and sometimes is not in fact a true reality, but that is what creates hype and gets attention. I can easily go off on a tangent about Death in June and the sensitivity about symbolism and imagery, but there is not enough space.
John is a drummer and is originally from Australia. Unlike a lot of people involved in the industrial music scene, John has had quite a bit of musical training in all music forms from classical, jazz, soul/funk, military/Scottish pipe band to rock 60s garage music, 70s punk to metal and Prog. He has played in numerous Australian and British post-punk, ambient and industrial music bands over the years. John first joined forces with guitarist Ollie Olsen to form the post-punk band Whirlywirld in Melbourne in the late 70s. Olsen went on to form The Young Charlatans along with Rowland S. Howard. Jonh was very much in involved in the Melbourne music scene and that is one of the many reasons why his interview for the Rowland S. Howard documentary was so important. John went onto play with so many bands after that. There are so many, but to name a few, he was involved quite a lot with SPK and The Associates and playing on sessions with Nico, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel and Shriekback. Jonh had played for quite awhile with Death In June. John enjoyed the challenge of Death In June performances. It gave him lots of musical flexibility and creativity from the use of hand percussion in the more acoustic-orientated pieces and to the more extreme martial/military rudiment type of drumming and using classical innovative percussion such as typan, tubular bells and oriental gongs. After 35 years of experience, John still has an intense interest in exploring and bettering himself musically.
He presently plays in the industrial electronic trio Knifeladder. Knifeladder is a three industrial piece act. John plays drums/percussion ,voice, found sounds, some electronics, drones and loops. ANDREW TRAIL on samplers ,electronics ,synthesizers, loops, vocals and arabic, moroccan horn, and HUNTER BARR ,on bass guitar ,treatments and loops ,engineering and production. Knifeladder has been in existence since towards the end of 1997. Their sound has been at many times over the last few years referred to as Voodoo Industrial Power Electronics. A successful Knifeladder performance is meant to be a emotionally draining and cathartic. A friend of John´s once described their sound and overall performance approach as sort of "like being confronted by the ancient Scythian hordes rampaging over the Eurasian steppes at the end of the Bronze age ..1200 BC.
John also plays in the folk-noise group Foresta Di Ferro and records solo under the name Shining Vril. When John plays in Knifeladder he often does three things at once, playing drums, contributing dronish, hypnotic-orientated vocals and various forms of electronics, samples and live looping. It is extremely difficult to do, but somehow he manages to come out alive after each performance. Shining Vril is for the most part a recording experience. There have been only a few live performances. Shining Vril gives John freedom to do whatever he feels like. There is no sound-shape to the project. How to describe it? In John´s own words, "It tends to be in-between very dark ambient, industrial, some power electronics and Ritualistic, with a little dry Anglo-colonial humor thrown in."
Jonh was refused re-entry to the UK due to visa issues and he moved to Berlin. John is now exiled in Berlin and certainly makes the most out of it. I could think of worst places being exiled. To find out more about John and the bands, click on the highlighted names and it will bring you to their sites or pages with information.