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Now I’m officialy a Uni student and have settled into my room, and everything’s back to full working order (except BF1942, fucking uni firewalls), it’s time for some new Crimea news. Woohoo. :o \
Owen’s been interviewed by SoundsXP and it’s a good read with loads of new info. Can you believe that your favourite band could have been called Fat Camp Heroes? Yes? Ok then… Either click here for the online article or [More] for inaudible’s version.
There’s a review of the Kerrang! Weekender festival at CMUonline’s site. The festival happened so long ago I can’t remember if I’ve even posted a link to that review before. But by all means read it again by clicking here or [More].
And the band are out on tour again. [Cue cheers of excitement and women bearing their breasts outside the bands flat] Yey. The details have already been posted on the gigs page but I’ve been ordered to make the dates more public so here you go…
More fun and frolics on the third Crimea tour.October 8 – Pop Factory, Porth (Part of the pop factory awards’ run-up)
November 8 – Manchester Night And Day Cafe
Nov 9 – Glasgow King Tuts
Nov 10 – Derby Victoria Inn
Nov 11 – Cardiff Barfly
Nov 12 – London Metro

Right, I’m off to learn stuff now. Good morning.

The Crimea: Owen Hopkin
interviewed by Graham S

The Crimea are, from left to right: Julia Parker (lead guitar), Owen Hopkin (drums/deputy editor of The Fly), Andy Stafford (keyboards), Joe Udwin (bass) and Davey MacManus (guitar & vocals).

They emerged last year, producing nifty pop-rock with a heady blend of Pixies, folk and a punky attitude. They?ve released two singles; last November?s ridiculously catchy Lottery Winners on Acid and this summer?s White Russian Galaxy, reviewed on Soundsxp as ?gorgeously melodic and breathtakingly simple?. With some prestigious support slots already under their belts, last month they bagged the highly anticipated Dashboard Confessional Astoria show. I recently caught up with Owen Hopkin for the lowdown from Crimea-land.

SXP: Can we have a short history of the band?

Owen: Well, Davey and I were in a band called The Crocketts. We officially split up at the end of 2001 – our bass player had left, we were out of a deal and our guitarist was losing enthusiasm for the new project.

The Crimea officialy came into being when Davey and I decided to properly give it a good stab at the start of 2002. We recruited a bassist soon after. He moved in with us, proceeded to nick all our food and piss us off so much that he got the boot at the end of last year. In the meantime, we found Andy (Stafford) who joined us on keyboards. Our new bassist, Joe Udwin, was also a housemate which made our relationship with our old bass player a bit
weird. But what the fuck. As a four piece we did a bit of touring, released Lottery Winners On Acid last November and generally set things up quite nicely.

It soon became apparent we couldn’t really pull off the live thing as a four piece – our demos were stacked with tracks and, basically, we just weren’t doing the songs justice. We put an advert in the NME for a new guitarist, auditioned tens of people and found Julia Parker who was head and shoulders above the rest. She officially joined the band in February and, since then, we’ve toured more, released White Russian Galaxy and continued to keep it all building.

SXP: Julia is a real find; what difference has she made?

Owen: We needed an extra guitarist, we always felt this even when we were muddling through as a four piece. Davey’s a good guitarist, but it’s unfair to expect him to concentrate on intricate guitar lines and sing. Julia (or Julz) was able to free him up and has the ability to do anything the songs need her to.

SXP: What significance is there in the name The Crimea?

Owen: No significance, it was the only name no one had a violent reaction to. Other names we were considering at the time included: Fat Camp Heroes, Damn Injuns, Siegfried Lines and, incredibly, even more ridiculous monikers.

SXP: You’ve been busy recording Fred Flinstone; how did it go?

Owen: It went well. We did it in Lincolnshire with a friend of ours producing, Tristin Norwell. It was fun. It was the first time the five of us had been into a commercial studio and it kicked ass. Hard work, obviously, but there was plenty of time for trips into nearby villages, Minority Report on PS2 and pissed-up games of pool.

The recording turned out really well, too. I think we’ll probably release it early next year, but don’t quote me. It might well come out before the end of the year.

SXP: What other recording plans do you have, and can we be hopeful for an album?

Owen: Be hopeful, by all means. We’re going in to record a couple of songs at a friend?s house next week sometime. The studio is a bit rough around the edges, so we’ll see how good the results are. Basically, the scope of the demos are so big we really could do with a cash injection/sizeable budget to do the songs justice. This idea/belief, however, could easily change.

SXP: What was it like playing with Kings of Leon and Travis?

Owen: Brilliant. The four Kings shows were awesome. They were made even more special by the fact that they had personally asked us to do them. Loads of people wanted those support slots, but they’d knocked them all back on the grounds that they didn’t like anyone’s music. They got sent a couple of our MP3s and hooked us up. We owe them loads. They were also great people and a good laugh. Great band, too.

Getting the gig with Travis was the same. Playing in front of 2,000 people in Blackburn was great, Travis were super cool and we hope to get on a bill with them sometime soon.

We love playing with bigger bands, it gives you a chance to play to a fresh audience. Converting the masses is what it’s all about.

SXP: You’ve been nominated in the ‘Best New Talent’ category at the Pop Factory’s annual awards; when do they take place and who are you up against?

Owen: They take place on October 24. I’ve no idea who we’re up against but we’re enormously flattered and look forward to getting absolutely plastered at the ceremony and making complete twats of ourselves.

SXP: I saw a recent piece from you in NME; how are you balancing the writing and the band these days?

Owen: Skilfully, thanks. I’ve always written, even when The Crocketts were busy and enjoying a modicum of success after our second album. It’s something I enjoy. It’s a way of maintaining the grey matter while I’m busy killing it off doing other, more dangerous things.

SXP: Any chance of some headlining shows in London soon?

Owen: Yes indeed, we’re down to play The Metro on Oxford Street on November 12. And that’s an exclusive.

SXP: What’s next for The Crimea?

Owen: Recording, a few gigs, despairing about the future – the usual.

From SoundXP’s interview page here.

Kerrang Festival 11 Apr – 13 Apr 2003
Chalet We Rock?

Spring has sprung, and festival season is upon us once again; might as well throw ourselves in at the deep end with three days of raucous rockulidge, courtesy of Kerrang! magazine. Taking incongruity to new heights, the rockfest takes place at the same seaside holiday camp as All Tomorrow?s Parties, and frankly the luxury of enjoying home-cooked meals in our chalet and being able to actually get some sleep in a real bed with an actual mattress and no-one screaming ?BOLLOCKS? all night long leads to a damn satisfying festival. Can we pave Glastonbury please?

The Weekender is an odd and sometimes disorganised affair. There are two stages, and they constantly clash; the line-up keeps changing, even over the course of the weekend; most of the advertised activities are nowhere to be found; the final day boasts only five bands, with headliners InMe finishing at 5:45pm prompt; the halls often seem woefully empty; the crowd is 99 per cent white kids; and we count just three bands with female members. But it?s also really, really fun, and feels as though the event has been designed from the ground up and from a ticket-holder?s perspective: There?s hardly any trouble to be found; security is superb (if a little overbearing), there?s a real feeling of community, with the organisers and bands wandering around the same space as the fans; food is reasonably priced, and the available activities are mostly free; there are no expensive programmes and stage schedules are free; there are toilets, and there?s nothing wrong with them; and rather fittingly, the on-site shop sells sticks of rock.

Obviously, Kerrang! and EMAP are new to this whole game and a few teething problems are par for the course. It seems odd that, given its massive circulation, the magazine doesn?t attract the name acts that NME musters for its yearly London shows, but then Kerrang!?s less corporate approach and lack of sponsorship is actually rather refreshing. Of course, as a festival organiser Kerrang! is perfectly placed to choose a line-up that reflects its readership, and as such the bands are as diverse as possible within the metal mag?s remit.

Anyway, let?s cut the waffle, talk turkey and step on some brass tacks.

Given that it?s the final day of the Weekender, Sunday is a massive anticlimax. The second stage has been replaced by a cinema showing that stupid Eminem movie, and the main stage features only a handful of bands. Most of the activities have been packed away. Worse still, while bands play until 5:45pm, check-out from the chalets is at 1pm. So everywhere we go, kids wander around with all of their luggage or simply leave early.

Anyway, we tear ourselves away from Hollyoaks to witness THE DONOTS, and then instantly wish that we hadn?t. Although they bounce off the walls with an obscene amount of energy for a Sunday lunchtime, their clich?-ridden summerpunk cheesiness does little for these ears.

THE CRIMEA are a different kettle of chips. Yep, Davey Crockett?s back and, along with his trademark lunacy, he brings with him a new collection of warped but pretty songs of life and love. While mellower than his previous band The Crocketts, The Crimea?s enchanting songs run the full passion spectrum.

Come check-out time (yep, the guests get to check out some hours later than the punters), we?re sorry to say goodbye to our homely chalet and the fun of the festival. It?s the only place we?ll ever see a tattoo parlour with animals and balloons painted onto the walls, for one. With a little ironing on the operations front, a few bigger bands and some stern praying to good ol? Satan, the Kerrang! Weekender could become a fantastic and unmissable event. Here?s hoping.

Words: Tomoko Miyake and Daniel Robson

From CMUonline’s festival review here.

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