The Soft Boys

Full Discography

LPs
  • Nextdoorland - ole-553 - 2002-09-24
  • Underwater Moonlight ... And How It Got There - - 2001-03-13

Biography

 

Underwater Moonlight 
... And How It Got There

March 13, 2001

Underwater Moonlight Liner notes by David Fricke

These are the things I remember most clearly about the first time I saw the Soft Boys, in December, 1978 at the Hope and Anchor in north London: basement walls painted blood-red and glistening with advanced humidity; the long lean figure of singer/guitarist Robyn Hitchcock standing at the head of the stage like a sea captain on the bow of an 18th Century warship; the band’s valiant jangle and glassy vocal harmonies, blowing through the room with cleansing force; a version of "Mystery Train" that sounded nothing like The Sun Sessions - and like nothing else in London that season. 

I knew nothing about the Soft Boys when I walked into the Hope that evening. I left dizzy with the need to know everything. Robyn Hitchcock, guitarist Kimberley Rew, drummer Morris Windsor and, on that night, bassist Andy Metcalfe played a truly magic racket, an original union of verse and clang flecked with the starshine of 1960s acid classicism but limber with confidence and a vigorous impatience with punk orthodoxy. Hatched in the academic calm of Cambridge, the birthplace of Pink Floyd and a safe distance from London’s record-company shark race, the Soft Boys were clearly on a road of their own to greatness. 

I did not realize how close they were. Six months later, Hitchcock, Rew, Windsor and a new bass player, Matthew Seligman, would begin writing, rehearsing and recording the album that would crisply define and forever preserve the Soft Boys’ special genius: 

Underwater Moonlight. 

We can listen to these songs now - the ten on the initial vinyl release in June, 1980; the ten more beauties also committed to tape during the sprawl of sessions; and the horde of orphans, many of them finished Hitchcock jewels, left behind on the band’s rehearsal tapes - and wonder why the world did not freeze in astonishment. The audacious opening of "I Wanna Destroy You," a sunlit whirl of guitars coated in Beach Boys vocal chrome; "Kingdom of Love," a sweet slap of sexual tension and exploding-Byrds chorales; the way Hitchcock wired the emotional electricity and metaphor play of Syd Barrett and ’66 Bob Dylan into his own rich language of love and self-examination: 

These are only a few of the reasons why Underwater Moonlight still startles with its invention and sparkle. 

But in the Britain of 1980, Underwater Moonlight was more than great. It was a subversive document in which the Soft Boys dared to ask: Did punk rock and the end of the 1970s - of prog-rock ham and arena-god corn - also have to mean the end of joy, literacy and bright voices? Hitchcock recalls a Soft Boys show in Manchester around that time: "We played to the usual reaction of two people clapping and two people yelling ’Fuck off!’ Later, some bloke came up to me at the bar and said, ’I like your band, but we haven’t had a harmony up here in six months.’ And there we were, dutifully cranking out our beautifully arranged harmonies. 

"British punk was embarrassed to be smart - and this is something that has persisted there," Hitchcock contends. "To be smart is a very un-rock & roll thing. It’s like being a teacher’s pet. At that time, you had a music business full of middle-class people frantically trying to cover their traces. So when pathetically middle class people like us came along, especially with a name like the Soft Boys, we got absolutely hammered. 

"We were," Hitchcock states in summation, "the wrong ship on the wrong planet." But they made the right album - for all time. The American underground in the 1980s would have been a far darker beast without the seeping, word-of-mouth influence of Underwater Moonlight; R.E.M. and Yo La Tengo are just two of the college-radio institutions who thoroughly digested, then spread the forward-pop gospel of the Soft Boys. Play Underwater Moonlight now - and another twenty years from now, if you’re here - and you still hear an album of ingenious radiance and honesty. You also wish they could have made more. 

"We had made records already," Hitchcock points out. "But I wanted to make an album. I thought my problems would be solved if I made an album. ’Think how happy Rod Stewart must be - he’s made ten!’ It was my way of looking at the world. 

"And yes, I was very happy with it. I remember playing the album for some friends at the time, younger kids who had been in a punk band called the Users. I heard it through their ears - and it sounded lame. It wasn’t hitting any of their reference points; it owed so little to the New Wave way of doing things. But when I heard it again with my own ears, I knew it was great." 

"To me, music doesn’t depend on what appears to be the music world - the business of music," says Rew, a Kinks and Beatles devotee who freely admits that he stopped "following the new" back in 1972. "It is about what is going on in the heads of the people making the music. And we did not fit or belong in any category. We were plugged into the origins of rock & roll. And that was a nice place to be." 

"The fact that the record was made so cheaply - that was out of necessity, not choice," Windsor points out. "And it was very satisfying to me that we had produced something so special out of so little. It was quite a surprise in a way, that it was such a coherent whole after all we’d been through making it." Seligman says that he was glad just to be on Underwater Moonlight: "It was the first album I had ever made. As long as I had made that record, it didn’t matter if I died." You can tell, in the grateful way he says it, that he is not kidding. In fact, Seligman was arguably the most professionally experienced of all the Soft Boys. He had worked as a session and touring bassist before joining the group in June, 1979. "I had been on other records," he explains, "but this was a real record, and I was in a band with a singer and songwriter that I really admired. 

"But you have to remember," Seligman goes on, "we were just this tiny little band. That is the thing that can be most misunderstood at this remove of time. We were a tiny band with a little indie album. Everything that happened afterwards with the record is thoroughly deserved. I just wish I could go back and show you - it wasn’t in the cards for us. Our band seemed to be the most ephemeral thing, so much promise but nothing delivered at all." Underwater Moonlight, Seligman says, "is a lovely piece of history. But I don’t know how it happened." 

* * * * * * 

In April, 1978, the Soft Boys received one of their few major stories in the British press - a Melody Maker feature by Ian Birch trumpeting the release of the band’s then-new Radar Records single, "(I Want to be an) Anglepoise Lamp"/"Fatman’s Son." "They are unquestionably a force to be reckoned with," Birch wrote. "It may take years," he added prophetically, "but in one form or another something defiantly original will emerge." 

Birch made the inevitable and perfectly appropriate comparisons to errant Pink Floyd genius Syd Barrett, a Cambridge native, and American dadaist Captain Beefheart. Hitchcock, in the interview, seconded the motion, then noted that his two favorite albums of the decade - at that time, anyway - were Please to See the King by the English folk-rock group Steeleye Span and Beefheart’s 1972 avant-R&B classic, Clear Spot. "Therefore [our] sound will lie somewhere between the two." 

When I interviewed Hitchcock for Rolling Stone in 1987, on the eighty-sixth-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building, he was more specific about his original dream for the Soft Boys: "To cross [the Beatles’] Abbey Road with [Beefheart’s] Trout Mask Replica, to have those harmonies and choruses but also that jumping sound." 

"But it was quite an ugly hybrid," Hitchcock claims now, at least in the Soft Boys’ formative years, 1976-79. "When you saw us in 1978, we were at our most fragmented - a kind of heavy metal/barbershop doo-wop/country and western/psychedelic/folk blues band. We would play something like ’Mystery Train,’ then do these gothic pieces in 9/8 time. We were painting ourselves into a corner with cleverness. I didn’t have an identity as a songwriter either. What we tried to do was make an identity out of not ruling out any possibility. 

"It was a beast," Hitchcock insists, "that couldn’t survive." 

But survive it does, on three remarkable records that the Soft Boys released during their march to Underwater Moonlight: the 1977 Raw Records EP, Give It to the Soft Boys (featuring guitarist Alan Davies a/k/a "Wang Bo"); the "Anglepoise Lamp" 45; and the 1979 album, A Can of Bees, recorded by the great Rew/Metcalfe/Windsor lineup and issued on Hitchcock’s own Two Crabs label after the group was dropped by Radar. 

"By the time we recorded A Can of Bees," Hitchcock says, "most of the songs had been recorded at Radar’s expense in three or four studios up and down the land. The songs were overworked. The technique was there, but there was no love in it." 

Yet the effervescent mischief in "Leppo and the Jooves," "The Pigworker" and "Sandra’s Having Her Brain Out" showed the Soft Boys on the precipice of a fresh perfection, within equal reach of the complexity and clarity that Hitchcock loved in the four B’s: Barrett, Beefheart, the Beatles and the Byrds. When Metcalfe left the group a week before a previously scheduled recording session at Spaceward Studios, the sixteen-track basement facility in Cambridge where A Can of Bees had been made, "we had to do something," Windsor says. "It was either stop - or do something different." 

Seligman arrived with the right combination of expertise and, by his own admission, limitations. "I couldn’t cope with all the chord changes," he confesses. Seligman’s big hero was Andy Fraser, the teenaged bassist in the British blues band Free, and Seligman says his bass intro to the title song on Underwater Moonlight, "that weird chuckling-tuba line," was his "pathetic" attempt to imitate Fraser’s spongy melodic funk. 

"But Matthew had a tremendous feel for his instrument," says Rew. "He had a lot of bounce and swing, a natural groove, and that had its effect on the overall sound of the group." 

Hitchcock agrees. "Matthew was extremely intuitive," he says, "and melodic, although he didn’t think he could sing in tune." It was Seligman, Hitchcock points out, who devised the punchy bass riffs that powered "Kingdom of Love" and "Insanely Jealous" on Underwater Moonlight. 

At Spaceward with Seligman, the Soft Boys recorded a bracing preview of their immediate future, a new Hitchcock song called "He’s a Reptile." "It was our attempt to make a hit single," Seligman claims, laughing. "We didn’t realize that people weren’t going to sit around, in football crowds, singing ’He’s a Reptile’ together." They might have if the song had been released as a single at the time, instead of in 1983, two years after the group had split up. The chorus is a gas, a splash of the Crystals’ "He’s a Revel" dusted with ’73 glam. Other juicy touches: Rew’s hearty guitar arpeggios in the bridge and the flash of the Rolling Stones’ "19th Nervous Breakdown" in Seligman’s downhill-bass run. 

The group also taped "I Got the Hots," a seedy barrage of grunting guitars and devilish obsession ("Said the dentures to the peach/Said the tide of filth to the bleach/Said the spike to the tomato/Said the curry to the corpse/I got the hots for you"), closer in spirit and architecture to the previous lineup. But in "Reptile" and the dozens of songs that would swarm out of him over the next months, Hitchcock finally confronted, and resolved, his crisis of direction. "I was wrestling with this problem," he says. "Should we be an experimental band or a pop band? Which is more fun? Somewhere along the line you have to decide who you are, what you want to be. Or are you just your record collection? 

"I decided that instead of teaching Matthew what we had done before, I would write new songs. Suddenly, within two weeks, we had an utterly different Soft Boys." (Not quite - technically, Seligman had been in the very first lineup of the band, then called Dennis and the Experts. He played bass, for one night only, with Hitchcock, Windsor and guitarist Rob Lamb, the brother of British DJ and producer Charlie Gillett, at the Experts’ Cambridge debut in 1976 before moving to London to seek his fortune in music publishing.) 

Hitchcock, Rew, Seligman and Windsor rehearsed in Cambridge at the Boathouse, the vacant second floor of a rowing-team clubhouse on the river Cam. Hitchcock remembers oars on the walls, long eight-man boats downstairs and a view of the chestnut trees on Midsummer Common. The group paid five pounds a session for the space and typically worked there three days a week. Money was tight. The Soft Boys had no manager and no record deal. Rew, who had come to the Soft Boys from his own band, the Waves, and was recognized as the best guitarist in town, periodically filled in at a local bookshop to make ends meet. A highlight of each rehearsal day was the Soft Boys’ lunch break at a nearby cafe; egg and chips were a mere forty pence. "We rehearsed so much," says Windsor, "because we had nothing else to do. And Robyn recorded just about everything we did." 

The second disk in this collection represents a mere pinch of the music the Soft Boys made at the Boathouse. The performances largely come from what Hitchcock remembers as "a special rush of energy" in September and October, 1979. The sound is lo-fi. A handful of tracks here were taped on a boom box; most were engineered by Rew on a two-track machine with Hitchcock’s voice in one channel and the rest of the group, playing into a single room mike, on the other. 

But the momentum in the room is unmistakable. "One thing you can say about Robyn is he is very dependable," says Rew. "You could always rely on him to come in with a good song. And he was never stuck for a lyric. Quite often, he would improvise the words as we rehearsed." Indeed, Hitchcock was writing at such a furious pace that nine of the titles here, including the Dylanesque epic "She Wears My Hair" and the bright fast "Goodbye Maurice or Steve," never made it out of the Boathouse. And the songs that did, like "Insanely Jealous" and "Underwater Moonlight," were so polished that the Soft Boys later recorded nearly all of the album’s basic tracks live in the studio. 

Seligman remains amazed by the telepathy caught, however crudely, on the Boathouse tapes. "I never saw anyone ’arrange’ anything," he declares. "Things would fall into place, without anybody saying anything." Guitar parts and vocal harmonies - Windsor on top, Rew in the middle, Hitchcock down below - were rarely mapped out. Windsor’s dramatic Brian Wilson-style trick in the chorus of "I Wanna Destroy You," entering a half step behind and an octave above Hitchcock and Rew, was mere instinct, the drummer claims: "Some harmonies come to you. I was following Robyn, and that became the arrangement." "That’s what I like about this incarnation of the Soft Boys," Hitchcock says proudly. "I was writing from a pretty dark frame of mind at the time. And somehow the blues I had was translated into this upbeat music by Morris, Matthew and Kimberley." 

"Robyn didn’t really understand what pop music was about," Windsor contends. "He was headed in that direction; he wanted to go there. But it is not, at his core, what he is about." Underwater Moonlight, Windsor suggests, "was his misinterpretation of pop music. "That was the great thing about the Soft Boys," he adds. "We got everything wrong - in all the right ways." 

* * * * * * 

During that 1987 interview atop the Empire State Building, I asked Hitchcock about the lyrics to one of my favorite Moonlight songs, "Kingdom of Love." I was particularly taken with the bug life in the first verse: "You’ve been laying eggs under my skin/Now they’re hatching out under my chin/Now there’s tiny insects showing through/And all them tiny insects look like you." "Someone took that song to a psychologist and he said it was a classic paranoid delusion," Hitchcock said, oblivious to the tourists within earshot. "But I think it describes the way people have an effect on each other and sometimes have kids. That’s describing mating pretty accurately - ’All them tiny insects look like you.’ If two people split up, the kid still reminds them of the ex-wife or ex-husband. 

"My stuff is pretty sincere," he insisted, "but I have a sense of humor. People feel because I have a sense of humor that what I have to say as a writer is worthless. But it’s not true."

Born in London in 1953, Hitchcock was, as he puts it, "chatty in the cradle. I was a talkative baby. Then, when I was sixteen, I got hit by Shakespeare, Beefheart and William Burroughs, all at once. I had an orgasm of words. I developed a facility to say a lot." While in art school, Hitchcock knocked about unhappily in bands on the fringes of London’s pub scene. ("I was in a group called the Beatles in London," he told Melody Maker, tongue deeply in cheek. "It didn’t get very far.") In 1974, Hitchcock moved to Cambridge specifically to find musicians more sympathetic to his rapier surrealism. He was the dominant writer in the Soft Boys from the start. But Hitchcock admits that it was not until Underwater Moonlight that he found something meaningful to write about: himself. "I was reacting to relationships, ones I had that were over," he explains. "They were absent relationships, people who I wasn’t with anymore, so I could project anything on to them that I wanted. Listening back now, including the outtakes, the whole thing strikes me as a kind of meditation on sexual doubt - ’He’s a Reptile,’ ’Old Pervert.’ I had a deep mistrust of the male’s role as a sexual and emotional partner. "But I have always been a believer in the honesty of the unconscious. People have accused me of muzzling what I say in metaphors and similes. But I find it very dangerous to oversimplify what one is saying. I think there is a lot of truth in the Freudian slip." 

Underwater Moonlight is a triumph of cheerful subversion. "I Wanna Destroy You" shoots out of the gate like a peppermint torpedo, packed with vengeful candor. My favorite lines: "A pox upon the media/And everything you read/They tell you your opinions/And they’re very good indeed." ("Robyn’s songs all had lines in them," Seligman says, chuckling, "that were not going to find favor with reviewers.") Set to a racing tempo, glazed with sheets of harmony, "Positive Vibrations" was a song of "anti-joy," says Hitchcock, who wrote it in early 1980. "I wanted to invert the way I was feeling. The Russians had invaded Afghanistan, my girlfriend took the dog to be put down. I thought, okay, let’s turn this upside down. I flipped myself over." 

Hitchcock reveals that "Insanely Jealous," "Kingdom of Love," "Tonight" and "Queen of Eyes" ("The one that got us all the Byrds comparisons") were all inspired by the same real-life figure, "someone who was an absent love whom I had elevated on a pedestal." But the album ends not in despair but deliverance. Hitchcock wrote "Underwater Moonlight" early in the Boathouse era, in the late summer of 1979, and he knew that it was something special. "It’s the story," he explains, "of two people who go out to sea and drown. I had read a science fiction story where the sea had actually been somebody’s lover. The sea is a she, it wants this man, this diver, so it drowns him. She wins him - she has his body in her embrace." 

In his song, Hitchcock’s ill-fated couple sink to their end in luminous peace: "Underwater Moonlight/Sets the body free." "The expression ’Underwater Moonlight’ just popped into my head one day," he says. "I remember walking into the cafe at lunch and telling the band, ’Well, the next Soft Boys album will be called Underwater Moonlight.’ 

"They looked up and said, ’Oh. Yeah. Are you having a roll or just coffee?’" 

* * * * * * 

Underwater Moonlight was ultimately recorded in three different studios, for next to nothing. Hitchcock estimates that the entire album cost six hundred pounds, with another two hundred for the outtakes and a few quid for cassettes used at the Boathouse. Three songs were pulled from 1979 sessions at Spaceward: "Old Pervert," "I Got the Hots" and the instrumental "You’ll Have to Go Sideways," a rolling-guitar riff played by Hitchcock and Rew in skewed harmony. Everything else on the original ten-track LP was done in London between January and March, 1980 and produced with astute economy by Pat Collier, once a bassist in the Vibrators. 

The sessions started at Alaska, Collier’s own four-track operation, located under Waterloo Bridge. "He was very good at bouncing tracks down," Hitchcock says of Collier. "He did that classic George Martin thing. And Pat was prepared to do it even though we had no money. I remember when we did ’I Wanna Destroy You’ - I wrote him a check for thirty pounds, which was a pretty good investment." You can also hear Collier’s four-track sorcery in the mad jangle of "Only the Stones Remain," a Hitchcock essay on the vanished people of Stonehenge, and two songs stuffed on to the B-side of the 1980 EP, Near the Soft Boys: Syd Barrett’s "Vegetable Man," an explosive, near-exact cover of the Floyd’s unreleased early-’68 original, and "Strange," a spooky beauty draped in medieval harmonies. 

Desperate for funds, Hitchcock signed a publishing deal he now deeply regrets. He received five hundred pounds in return for thirty percent of the songs on both Underwater Moonlight and A Can of Bees - in perpetuity. With that money, however, the Soft Boys moved with Collier into an eight-track studio run by an engineer named James Morgan. Mattresses were strapped to the walls for soundproofing; the place was overrun with Morgan’s cats. But it was at Morgan’s where the Soft Boys recorded the gleaming heart of Moonlight: "Kingdom of Love," "Positive Vibrations," "Insanely Jealous," the title track. Hitchcock remembers a powerful feeling of optimism, one that ran through the entire band. 

"Matthew and I would walk around London, talking endlessly about what we thought the record should be," Hitchcock says. "We were watching Reagan get into the White House and thinking, ’The world might end by Christmas, but we will have made a bloody good album.’ Kimberley didn’t say much - he expresses himself through his guitar. But there was a determination in him, and in Morris too. It was that feeling you get in music - you know something special will happen when you start playing." 

Underwater Moonlight was released in June, 1980 on a brand new label, Armageddon, essentially created for the occasion by Richard Bishop, who worked for a subsidiary of Virgin Records. (Armageddon would later issue records by such American eccentrics as the Method Actors and 1/2 Japanese.) Bishop, now an artist manager in Los Angeles, also booked an unusual eight-show U.S. tour for the band; the dates were all in metropolitan New York. The visit was a pleasant shock to the Soft Boys. "People were probably just as non-plussed by us as they were in England," Windsor suggests. "But they were a lot friendlier." 

It was not enough. Critical and commercial reaction to Underwater Moonlight in the U.K. ranged from fair to none. There was no formal notice of cessation. The band, in Rew’s words, "just went a bit quiet." By February, 1981, the Soft Boys were gone. 

But not done. The Soft Boys have proved to be a stubborn entity, an enduring organism of song and fraternity. Seligman played on and helped produce Hitchcock’s solo debut, Black Snake Diamond Role, released in the late spring of ’81; Rew went on to restart the Waves, as Katrina and the Waves, but not before recording a nifty solo EP, The Bible of Bop, with assorted Soft Boys. In 1985, Hitchcock formed a new backing band, the Egyptians, that was the Soft Boys in all but name - Windsor on drums and Andy Metcalfe on bass - recording and touring with them for the next eight years. More recently, Rew contributed guitar to Hitchcock’s twin 1999 albums, Jewels for Sophia and A Star for Bram, and Hitchcock appeared on Rew’s own record, Tunnel Into Summer. The two also toured together that year. Now, as I write this, Hitchcock, Rew, Windsor and Seligman are rehearsing for their second-ever U.S. tour, this time covering a lot more of the country, to celebrate this deluxe reissue of Underwater Moonlight, the first comprehensive treatment of the songs, recordings and high hopes of the Soft Boys’ golden era. 

"It will probably set the world alight - just in a post-dated way," Hitchcock says of the album with stubborn assurance. "Maybe in a hundred years time, people will think it was a big hit in the 1960s. Even when we made these recordings and the Soft Boys were going, people accused us of being hopeless revivalists: Why weren’t we looking to the future? But people keep coming back to that form of music. They obviously can’t leave it alone. "Maybe we were the first people to look backwards," Hitchcock suggests. "People are still trying to do it, by the shovelful. "But it has never been done like this." 

David Fricke 
New York City 
January, 2001

Pre-blog News

News
10/15/02 — If you want to check out the band's recent live broadcast on WFMU, here's the link to the archived broadcast.

There's also a new Soft Boys 7-song CD EP of outtakes from the recent 'Nextdoorland' album ; 'Side Three'. You can purchase your copy at http://www.thesoftboys.com.

Soft Boys guitarist Kimberley Rew is making a rare solo appearance at London's Spitz on November 29.

10/15/02 — 'Nextdoorland' US tour about to start / WFMU webcast
For once our snappy advertising slogans don't work --- 'Nextdoorland' is no longer "closer then [sic Robyn] you think", it is genuinely right here, right now and available on CD and 150 gram LP. The latter version comes with a bonus 7" featuring live versions of "Only The Stones Remain" and "Underwater Moonlight", recorded in LA during the Soft Boys' 2001 tour.

though the new US tour is about to start, we are aware that some of you suffer from that "I-can't-go-out-of-the-house" disease (or in my case, I've lost the keys again). Since we're always catering to shut-ins, misanthropes and agoraphobes, the Soft Boys will be playing live on WFMU, Tuesday, October 29 between 3 and 6pm (EST) on Brian Turner's program. [Stream now available here.]

Soft Boys guitarist Kimberley Rew has a new solo album, 'Grand Central Revisited'. available from Bongo Beat. Kimberley will be making a rare solo appearance supporting Matador alumni Spoon at London's Spitz on 29 November.

07/03/02
 — Album Title Announced
Fresh from winter/spring 2002 recording, the reformed Soft Boys lineup of Robyn Hitchcock, Kimberley Rew, Matthew Seligman and Morris Windsor are the men behind 'Nextdoorland' (OLE 553-1,2), coming September 24 on CD and limited edition LP (with bonus 7"). The band will be touring North America this coming October.

In related news,'Robyn Sings' (Editions PAF) is a new double CD collection of Bob Dylan covers, electric and acoustic, performed by Robyn Hitchcock. You can purchase yours via The Museum Of Robyn Hitchcock.

06/07/02 — New Album, And New Hitchcock double CD
September will see the release of the a new, as yet untitled Soft Boys album on Matador, recorded this past winter and spring with Pat Collier. Just out in the UK is Robyn Hitchock's 'Robyn Sings' (Editions PAF!), a double CD collection of Bob Dylan covers. Robyn has dates forthcoming in Canada, Scandinavia and the UK and you can read all about it at The Museum Of Robyn Hitchcock.

01/22/01
 — Matador & Music Industry Conventions — A Match Made In Biz Heaven — Are there 2 words more despicable in the english language than “label showcase?” This could be a good contest (no SM tickets this time). Anyway, the following artists will be playing at Matador’s officially approved evening during South By Southwest 2001:

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Mogwai
The Soft Boys

(Possibly one additional artist, but we’re not saying who today. Not because it is a big secret, but because we haven’t figured it out yet). The venue is the Austin Music Hall. The date to remember is Saturday, March 17. Austin is the capitol of Texas, the largest state in the Union. We would never in a million years seriously suggest that this great state be handed over to Mexico and would sincerely like to apologize for any confusion or offense that might’ve resulted from an ill-fated promotion that took place during our last visit. The person responsible for that promotion, no longer works for us, but can be reached in care of Warp. 

12/06/00 — The Soft Boys — Resurfacing in 2001 
If we didn’t have enough huge already this week, check this out: on March 13, Matador will be reissuing ‘Underwater Moonlight,’ the classic 1980 album from The Soft Boys. While the band are still shifting through old photos and memorabilia, we can tell you that this package will differ significantly from Rykodisc’s last version of Underwater Moonlight (ie. Additional art, liner notes, etc.), as well as a bonus CD of previously unreleased rehearsal recordings. We’re also planning a vinyl version (though god knows how all of it will fit). 

The Soft Boys’ ‘Underwater Moonlight’ lineup of Robyn Hitchcock, Kimberly Rew, Matthew Seligman and Morris Windsor are currently rehearsing for a U.S. tour in early 2001, followed by European dates.