When ACL first started producing mixes, I knew that I didn’t just want to invite artists and labels. We’ve always imagined ACL as a part of a broader community. Before this recent crisis kicked off we invited a variety of individuals to contribute to our series. This mix arrives courtesy of Gareth Thomas, London-based musician and composer Gareth JS Thomas (USA Nails, ex-Silent Front and Sly and the Family Drone). Earlier this year, Gareth released The Incredible Years, a series of intimate atmospheric tones anchored by trance-inducing drum beats. For A Century of Love, Gareth has chosen some classic tracks and recent inspirations, check it out. (Joseph Sannicandro)
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Gareth Thomas, I call myself Gareth JS Thomas for the sake of my music work, as there are a lot of us about, and also I think it sounds cooler.
I started playing in punk bands as a teenager and have turned my hand to all sorts of instruments over the years. My main outlets at the moment are a post-punk outfit called USA Nails that I do guitar & vocals in, and a no-wavey synth band called The Eurosuite that I drum in.
In my solo work I used a mixture of field recordings, found electronics (my current pride and joy is an old yamaha synth I found fly-tipped on my estate), tape loops, echo machines, radio static, harmonisers, effects pedals, toys, vocals, drum machines and acoustic instruments. Some of it is free-form and ambient, but there are also more structured passages in there as well, which you might call “songs”. Folks have described my output as techno, cold-wave, ambient, noise and probably a bunch of other stuff too.
London’s underground music scenes are pretty well documented at this point, but are there any local artists, labels, venues etc you want to shout out? Since this record has its roots in the south coast, any artists or labels from there you want to mention?
The labels that I’ve worked with are great, they really are…you’d probably expect me to say that anyway but hey. Also these aren’t all strictly London based, sorry – but; Bezirk put out “The Incredible Years” and have been super great about it in every respect. Prior to that Aphelion Editions in Bristol did “Wandsworth Sports” and are lovely too. A friend of mine has also just started a label called “International Ephemera” who have already lined up a slew of great releases for 2020 (including potentially one of mine). Also – “Disintegration State” have been around for maybe a couple of years now too and are going from strength to strength, and have a huge amount of great releases under their belts already.
As for London artists, not that any of these need my help with a shout out, but folk who I admire currently include Sam Edwards, Loraine James, Mike Neaves (who I am fortunate enough to be in The Eurosuite with), UKAEA, Sly & The Family Drone, Bruxa Maria, X’ed Out, Regaler, Lowering, Bo Gritz…I’m sure there are loads more that I’ve forgotten but these are defo all mint.
Best venues for me in London at the moment are New River Studios (great folk running with cheap great pizza with great veggie and vegan options) and the DIY Space For London (a bit out of the way bit totally right on and worth travelling to).
Tell us about the mix… How was it made, what’s the theme, how’s it related to the new record?
The mix is a bunch of stuff I’ve been inspired by or enjoyed recently.
1 Daniel Loptian – The Ballad Of Howie Bling
I saw Uncut Gems and yeah it was amazing. Always liked Oneohtrix but yr man’s score on this flick just takes it to the next level. Obscenely glossy almost to the point of absurdity, and something in my wildest dreams that I could never hope to achieve.
2 Sly & The Family Drone – Jehovah’s Wetness
These lot are my boys. When the line-up was more fluid I would occasionally play drums with them, but they’ve since locked down a really strong line-up and do noise better than anyone else.
3 Algernon Cornelius – Wichita
I don’t understand why Marcus isn’t a megastar yet. Everything he’s put out is disgusting and amazing.
4 AJA – (live at Supersonic 2019)
Maybe the most intense electronic/noise/performance artist out there? Such a savage wall of sound, and such an uncompromising and massive stage presence. Completely absorbing stuff. Feels like yr inside her music.
5 Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
This is the soundtrack to the apocalypse. It’s essentially quite a sweet track, but feels so dark, but I’m not sure why. I’ve been listening to Suicide a lot recently, which is probably fairly obvious to anyone who has seen my current live set.
6 The Bugg ft. Miss Red – Diss Mi Army
Absolute filth. That snare could take your face off.
7 Mike Neaves – Blackpool Nights
Me and Mike did a short tour once and are now in a band together (see above). Man is so talented and so modest to boot. Hard to pick a stand out track from his most recent release but this one is strong contender.
8 Tullio De Piscopo – Medium Rock
You are alone. Maybe I can help you?
9 Aninoko – Anak Diaspora
In their own words “AninoKo is a fast hardcore punk band composed of 4 Filipino immigrants. Their songs are about the immigrant experience and the issues facing the Filipino community.” They are based in San Francisco and I managed to catch them when I was on tour playing drums for Action Beat last summer. My mum is from the Philippines, and I’ve had a keen eye on the punk scene there for a few years now. Seeing these in the flesh was incredible.
10 Organized Konfusion – Walk Into The Sun
Classic, underrated, brilliant.
11 UKAEA – Meth Gators
Dan used to play guitar in a band called Nitkowski, that my old band Silent Front used to do loads of shows with. Now he makes this totally nuts techno. Live, yr man is often accompanied by a massive mud ritual. Totally unique and bizarre and incredible.
12 No Fun – Gloss
Steven from USA Nails’ solo project. Probably better than USA Nails.
13 Yards – War Tourist
I’m currently doing a studio project with Tom from Yards called “Cower”. It sounds like Depeche Mode doing noise rock. Yards were a criminally under-appreciated band in my opinion.
Anything coming up on the horizon you want to plug, gigs or what not?
I’ve no shows booked currently but am tentatively planning a UK tour for later in the year, or in early 2021.
I’ve also been speaking to International Ephemera about doing a tape with them (as mentioned above) so, hopefully that’ll happen too.
Daniel Loptian – The Ballad Of Howie Bling
Sly & The Family Drone – Jehovah’s Wetness
Algernon Cornelius – Wichita
AJA – (live at Supersonic 2019)
Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
The Bugg ft. Miss Red – Diss Mi Army
Mike Neaves – Blackpool Nights
Tullio De Piscopo – Medium Rock
Aninoko – Anak Diaspora
Organized Konfusion – Walk Into The Sun
UKAEA – Meth Gators
No Fun – Gloss
Yards – War Tourist