Ah, Croydon. It’s a place that holds many special memories in the ongoing story of Joyzine – from the multitude of excellent record shops which fuelled my burgeoning obsession with music in the ’90s (one of which, the sadly missed Shake Some Action Records was the source of the first CD we were ever asked to review), through to a decade in which we called the town our home, The Joyzine Radio Show being created on Croyon Radio (also sadly missed) and most recently DJing at the first instalment of the excellent CroCroLand Festival.
It was also where we first came across local duo Frauds, whose combination of immature playground insults, biting political satire and savage post-hardcore immediately pushed all of our buttons. We eventually ended up co-promoting a night at local venue Hoodoo’s which, due to our shared love of Mclusky, bore the name To Hell With Good Intentions and over the year or so that it ran featured the likes of JOHN and HMLTD who’ve since gone on to nation-wide acclaim, along with plenty of others who should have done and may well still.
Frauds’ second album Long Spoons is out now on the ever-excellent Alcopop! Records later this week – a truly outstanding record that takes everything we loved about their 2019 debut With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice, and adds a wealth of new influences from world music, hip hop and grime (CASisDEAD, Ghetts and Dave all get a name-check) to tell tales of greed, misinformation and a Belgian car rental employee called Martha, all filtered through their surreal sense of humour.
Having moved to new South London environs eight years ago, we’re a bit out of the Croydon loop these days, so we caught up with Chris and Mikey for a guide to what’s going on in our former home town.
Croydon is not generally a town that gets much good press and is often used as a byword for urban decay – how does the public perception match up with the reality?
As much as I love Croydon it’s probably quite accurate! Growing up in the town in the late ’90s my memories are of a bustling high street with every single shop you could dream of and a sense of excitement in the air on the weekends. Fast forward twenty years to now and I think the town is a real reflection of the decline of the high street just like most towns across the UK.
Over the past decade or so the town has become a focal point of the UK hip hop and dance scenes, with the likes of Stormzy, Benga, Konan, Nadia Rose and Skream calling it home. What difference has their rise made to the area?
When I was 17/18 at college the council banned a lot of the above music from being played in the clubs due to worries about “violence”. This closed a lot of places down and the ones that did survive moved into having generic pop nights to survive (no problem with that btw) it was at the very least baffling but most definitely discrimatory. It’s only in recent years with the rise of Stormzy and Krept & Konan that’s shone a light on the amazing art being made in the borough but aside from the occasional Boxpark night I still don’t see an embrace of this culture by the council.
The council’s biggest and most transparent act was the the graffiti funded by them that started popping up in 2014/15. It was/is a desperate attempt to give the place a bit of “hip” vibe in order to sell the 1000’s of new build flats to people who can’t afford to live in Dalston. Some of the pieces are brilliant but it has a sinister undertone to it (especially when you a see Winston Churchill mural proudly on the display) Out of touch? Or just a big fuck you to a diverse town? Among all of this were these poignant posters that were put up annonymously which really spelt out the truth of what is and was going on. Vice ran an article a few years ago about this, which you can read here.
What makes Croydon a special place for music?
After being fortunate enough to travel around the UK to places like Bristol or Leeds it’s annoying that Croydon is still dragging its heels when it comes to arts and culture. Croydon is a working class town thats been blessed with diversity for a long time. In my mind this should add up to some pretty incredible art at quite a consistent level and dare I say a “scene”. I believe the music is here but as above we do not have the facillities to nuture creativity and turn that into a blossoming cultural hub. It is a special place for music thats not been understood and I would love that to change.
Aside from the aforementioned well documented grime and dubstep artists, is there a scene or a sound that you’d describe as being specific or special to Croydon?
I could insert the obvious and outdated answers but probably not at the moment to be honest, it’s a bit stagnant in regards to “guitar music” but that’s not say there’s nothing happening because of course there is, there just isn’t the platform. I think Croydon “guitar music” got stuck in a musical and quite masculine rut where all the bands were dead serious and sang kinda like Layne Stayley or even at the worst of times Chad Kroeger. Someone once said to me that they wanted to turn Croydon into “Croyattle” and I don’t think that worked out. But I’m 100% certain there’s some pretty radical stuff happening and I’m off to find it and share it. I do love Croydon FYI it just makes me a bit sad.
Give us a quick history lesson – who are some of your favourite bands and artists from Croydon over the years?
Five The Hierophant
Gowns, saxophone, grooves, sense of unease and some big ol’ roffs.
This is a proper CR0 deep cut featuring members of Wonk Unit. It was a sadly too shortly lived hardcore band from back in the mid-noughties who wore Mexican wrestling masks onstage and mixed in a lot of sarcastic humour. We also recorded our first few EPs and album with Gav the drummer. My fave lyric was “drink a pint of warrrtaa before ya go ta bed” but this was “the hit” absolute pure joy.
Do Me Bad Things
Again another short lived band from Croydon but these guys were I think an 8/9 piece and even opened Reading main stage one year. They rehearsed at Rock Bottom where I worked as teenager and they were so tight and professional compared to everyone else who showed up. I still love the riff of “What’s Hideous”, I would be listening secretly through the walls all wide eyed. Chantal who takes the lead on this song is now the singer on Vodun and she is incredible!
Legit one of the best doom bands around FFO outrageous tone and brutal riffage. I briefly played drums in a band with Yusuf the bassist another sick musician and all round lovely person.
One of the most enduring and hard working acts around. Love the humour and the general sense of positivity they never fail to give.
Lovely lovely people and they played one of our nights we had on in Croydon many moons ago. Now they are doing loads for music in Croydon namely CroCroLand festival which we were lucky enough to be a part of in 2019, thoroughly good eggs!
The Jonbarr Hinge
The best band that hardly ever play, I really hope they are still going. This is a video from now of the nights that ourselves and Paul from the Joyzine parish put on quite a few years ago.
And who should we be looking out for right now?
I cannot look past WU-LU at the moment. I went to go see them at a weird basement in the middle of an estate in West London a few months back. It was sensational and I must emphasise to see them live. Incredible musicians with a 100% original flavour that mashes up genres effortlessly and don’t listen in advance just buy a ticket the next time they’re playing near you and enjoy the ride. I’m even gonna hint at what they sound like FFO: good shit.
Where are your favourite local places to play or see live music?
I do love The Oval its a gem of a pub and I’d really like to see the upstairs of The Green Dragon turned into more of a venue as I think it’s nice spot. But the best venue in London is a 30-40min bus ride up to Brixton and that venue is The Windmill.
Long Spoons is out now on Alcopop Records – order on vinyl or stream on all the usual services here
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