Monday, March 09, 2015

Lyca Sleep-Exit Calm and Two Skies . What a journey!

Two Skies video I did for their single FEEL

It's been 10 years since I saw the legendary cult band Lyca Sleep playing live at the Dry Bar in Manchester for the first time

Lyca Sleep @ Dry Bar

Sadly Lyca Sleep had a very short life and they did split a long time ago but two great new bands were born from their ashes: Exit Calm and Two Skies.

I had the immense pleasure to see both bands loads of times all over England and some of those great nights will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.

But back to Lyca Sleep the question is: living in Spain at the time, how did I ever find about this band?

Well the thing is that a good friend from Barnsley wrote a good review about them in the old (now gone) The Chameleons message board 'Wishville'. So due that my friend Sean McKernan (aka Manero) is rarely wrong with his music recommendations, out of curiosity I decided to give them a go.

I couldn't believe how good Lyca Sleep sounded. I was literally blown away! They were intense but yet relaxing. They weren't post Rock nor Shoegaze or indie either. Some people quoted early Verve.... I couldn't really tell to be honest.

I believe the first song I did listen to was their first single 'Sold me A Ride'. 
Boy, I was instantly trapped. That was the band I was waiting for. The amazing wall of sound from the guitar, the perfect bass line, the intense drums and incredible lyrics and vocals. Everything was out of this world. It was MAGIC!

Rob Marshall Lyca Sleep

I really had to see the lads playing live no matter what.

As a stubborn person I am, a  few months later I was told they were about to play in  Manchester on a bank holiday weekend, so I didn't hesitate for a second and booked a flight from Madrid (Where I was working at the time) to see them playing a show on a support slot.

Yes. Thats what you do when you love a band. For the sake of Rock N Roll!

A few obvious questions raised to my mind when I was travelling to see the show. Are Lyca Sleep as good live as they sound on a 7' vinyl? I mean, flying from Spain to England is quite a long way to see a band playing a set for barely 40 minutes. Not to mention the budget, hotels, trains, food, drinks...etc...

Simon Lindley-Lyca Sleep

I remember very clearly arriving at the venue in the Northern Quarter in Manchester city center (Dry bar is located next to another legendary venue: Night and Day). There was not much people gathered in the audience to be honest (lets say about 20 or 30 souls). It did also surprise me to spot a couple of professional photographers and also a guy with a pretty big video camera (I wonder what that footage is?)

That evening I couldn't tell what but something was going on, something kind of exciting was floating on the atmosphere, like a sense of big expectation. 

Lyca Sleep were the hottest band from Sheffield/Barnsley and they were about to play live!

I had my first contact with the band few minutes before they were due on stage. 
Rob came to me and asked -'Are you Pedro?'. That made me smile. Apparently somebody told them I was coming all the way from Spain and they seemed genuinely flattered about it.

At first I was quite surprised how young they looked. Cool haircuts, flares...They all had a very cool presence I have to say but they were pretty shy and humble at the same time.

But boy they were indeed very good! Lyca Sleep didn't disappoint me a tiny bit. My great expectations were filled. What a terrific night. Although a short set they blew the rough of the venue. The long journey was well worth.

Dan Cutts and Rob Marshall- Lyca Sleep

It wasn't the last time I saw Lyca Sleep live. One year later (sometime in May 2005) I did made the same route and flew again from Madrid to see them on the tour-promotion of the sophomore single 'Closer in' in the very same venue (but this time in the downstairs room). If i am not mistaken I think it was part of the Manchester music festival 'In the city'. 

For this gig there was a lot more people in the crowd I have to say. They band were more experienced and their reputation was getting bigger and bigger amongst the underground music circuits in the North England. And this time Lyca Sleep also blew the rough off as expected. 
During the night I bumped into Reg Smithies, former member of the seminal 80s band The Chameleons. What a nice surprise! After the show I had the honour to introduce Rob Marshall to the legendary guitarist. What a moment!

Unseen rare clip  'Sold Me a Ride' on my first ever Lyca Sleep show!

Lyca Sleep managed to release a couple of 7' vinyls  with tracks like : Inches of air, Closer in, Sold me  a Ride, South and Falling Cedars.

Then, a few months later (sometime in November 2005 If Im not mistaken), a bad rumour spread on the internet and we sadly found out that the news seemed to be true: Lyca Sleep split was announced with the departure of the singer Dan Cutts.

Everything was pretty mysterious and no explanation was given. 

Lyca Sleep Live in Mansfield (UK)

Boy I was gutted. I couldn't believe it. Not to this band. Another of my favourite bands and its happening again?!

I thought It was a real shame. The lads were starting to build up a loyal fan base as a result of a couple of extensive headlining tours and support slots all over England with the likes of The Warlocks, Sennen, Air Formation, iLikeTrains, Six By Seven, Oceansize, The Boxer Rebellion, Pure Reason Revolution and many many more. 

But now everything was over.

Dan Cutts/Rob Marshall

Sometime in 2006 we get the great news. The 3 remaining members of Lyca Sleep went on to form the band Exit Calm along with a new singer Nicky Smith. And that was fantastic news! (Some legendary Exit Calm shows are well documented in this blog). 

Exit Calm released two magnificent and now 'essential to have' shoegaze-indie albums which will stay with us forever. Rob Marshall meanwhile co-wrote and recorded an album with Mark Lanegan called Gargoyle (April 2017) . An amazing album with Rob Guitar signature...well worth a listen!   

But nothing on the news front from Dan Cutts for a while.

I did keep an eye on the internet to see if there was any information about any new releases or possible live performances from this amazing and very talented singer.

A couple of solo acoustic performances were uploaded in youtube from Dan first solo acoustic album (From 4am the silence sounds).
And and a few demos were also available from what it seemed to be Dan's new band Two Skies. 
Those were the last days of myspace.

But months were passing by and Dan new project Two Skies seemed to be pretty quiet. 

But thankfully  everything was about to change very soon.

I edited this video from bits of footage I ve got on Two Skies last gigs in Manchester and Sheffield.

Two Skies Live @ Plug Sheffield April 2014

Meanwhile the music scene in the north of England was starting to change (as it ever does) and a new bunch of psychedelic bands were emerging from Manchester, Liverpool and other northern cities. The first edition of Cosmosis festival in Manchester this year (which I had the pleasure to attend to) was a good example of it.

Finally in 2012 a new 500 limited edition single was released on physical format: Lucky/4am. 

It felt like an eternity but Two Skies were back.... and stronger than ever!

Dan Cutts sings and plays the lead electric guitar, James Cheetham the bass and Oliver Harrap the drums.

Two Skies have their own recording studio (Skylab studios) which gives them plenty of time to rehearse and make loads of new material. 

I was lucky enough to witness 2 fantastic Two Skies live sets showcased in Coalfields Festival in Barnsley on the next couple of years. They are regulars in the last editions of Tramlines festival and they also played a live outdoors gig in Weston Park in Sheffield amongst other local gigs.

Two Skies have a new ep out : 'The Red EP' and they will be touring England in 2015 to support the new releases. 

The last ep 'Red' comprises 4 tracks. The stunning psychedelic 'Hyperventilation' produced by the band's friend and also former member of Ultrasound Richard Green, 'Tonight', 'Motorway' and 'Slow train'.

They also released their last single 'Stay' and a new single launch its been announced in Sheffield for March 2015 plus a supporting slot for Johnny Marr the 20th March in the Leadmill. 
Excellent news!

Hyperventilation-Two Skies (with live audio)

More Two Skies gigs will be announced for spring and summer so we will wait with a great excitement. The same great excitement I had with any Exit calm release, and the same excitement I felt when I flew to Manchester 10 years ago to see Lyca sleep for the first time.

I am pretty happy to say that The South Yorkshire indie-psychedelic and alternative music scene is alive and kicking as ever. 

Bands like Exit Calm, Two Skies, Black Lamps or Pusher are a good prove of it.

I can never be grateful enough to my friend Sean-Manero to expose me me to such an amazing music and I also blame him for introduce me to so many nice people, good friends and fans of the band all over the country....and even all over the world! 
Thank you my friend.

The 9th of March it was announced officially that Exit Calm did split up. 

Its very sad news but whatever the lads do from now on I really hope they keep playing music and even better doing gigs. 
Because I will be there.

I am so happy its happening here....and this is not about Austin Scene, or the Seattle one, Berlin or the West Coast, they all had their day. Now its all about the Yorkshire Music Scene. 
And in 2015, Sheffield its the place to be! 

I really hope Exit Calm enjoyed the ride. This things happens once in a lifetime.

Two skies Spring-Summer 2014 tour

New single 'STAY' with footage I recorded in Manchester last November 2014

My Exit Calm Gigography (although I think Im missing one or two)

Lyca Sleep

1.Dry Bar Manchester 18th May 2004
2.Dry Bar [In The City] Manchester 29th April 2005

Exit Calm

1.Leadmill-Sheffield+ The Music 20th Jun 2008
2.Style Bar-Rugby+Dogfight Revolution +7:20s 26th Sept 2008 
3.The Castle-Oldham+No Tokio 27th Sept 2008
4.Moho-Manchester +Panama Kings ? Nov 2008
5.Polish Club-Barnsley+Mourning Becomes Electra 1st May 2009
6.Leadmill-Sheffield 21st Nov 2009
7.Civic Hall-Barnsley 26th Jun 2010
8.Club 60 Secret Gig-Sheffield 18th June 2011
9.O2 Academy-Islington London+ Marion Apr2012
10.Ruby Lounge-Manchester+Marion 7th Apr 2012
11.Indiependance-Wigan+No Tokyo 13th Jul 2012
12.Coalfields Fest-Barnsley 14th Jul 2012
13.The Macbeth-London+This Feeling 21st July 2012
14.Cockpit 2-Leeds 12th Sept 2013
15.Ruby Lounge-Manchester 19th Sept 2013
16.Electric Circus-Edinburgh 21st Sept 2013 
17.Queen Social Club-Sheffield 27th Sept 2013
18.The Bodega-Nottingham 29th Sept 2013
19.Carsons Bar-Middleton+Rise+Pusher 16th Nov 2013
20.Soundhouse-Leicester+Pusher+Institutes 27th Nov 2013
21.Sound Control-Manchester 29th Jan 2014
22.Polish Club-Barnsley 31st Jan 2014
23.The Bodega-Nottingham 1st Feb 2014
24.Royal Standard-Sheffield+Velcro Teddy Bears 19th Sept 2014
25.Sound Control-Manchester 20th September 2014
26.Bodega Social Club-Nottingham 23th September 2014
27.The Underground-Barnsley +Pusher 20th Dec 2014 (Last show ever)

*(Lyca Sleep and EC first 13 shows flying from Spain!)

This is so far my Two Skies gigography :

1.Coalfields Fest-Barnsley- 14th Jul 2012
2.Coalfields Fest-Barnsley- 27th July 2013
3.Water Rats -London +Goldray- 27th Feb 2014
4.Opium n 10- Barnsley- 22nd March 2014
5.The Plug- Sheffield- 28th March 2014
6.The Leadmill- Sheffield- 19th April 2014
7.Abandon (Secret gig) - Manchester 26th April 2014
8. O2 Academy- Sheffield- 17th May 2014
9.Gullivers- Manchester +Elephant Stone- 9th June 2014
10.The Hope & Anchor- London +Sterling Roswell- 11th July 2014
11.Vipers Room (Tramlines) - Sheffield 25th July 2014
12.Riverside (Tramlines) - Sheffield 26th July 2014
13.Coalfields - Barnsley- 26th July 2014
14.Maida Vale - Sheffield- 22nd August 2014
15.The Washington- Sheffield 25th September 2014
16.Opium n10- Barnsley- 25th October 2014
17-Jam Cafe- Nottingham + Psyence- 2nd November 2014
18-Jolly Brewer- Lincoln + Psyence- 3rd November 2014
19-West St. Live- Sheffield + Psyence- 4th November 2014
20-Castle- Manchester + Psyence- 7th November 2014
21-Plug-Sheffield + Pusher- 14th November 2014
22-Red house- Sheffield- 30th January 2015
23-The Leadmill + Johnny Marr- Sheffield -20th March 2015
24-The Washington+ Pusher - Sheffield -2nd April 2015
25-Fallow cafe - Manchester + Rhys Bloodjoy- 10th April 2015
26-Carsons Bar- Middleton (Manchester)- 21st May 2015
27-Two Skies + Blossoms. Opium n10- Barnsley 30th May 2015
28-Kraak Gallery – Manchester- 3rd July- 2015
29-The Viper Rooms (Tramlines)- Sheffield- 24th July 2015
30-Karma/Temple Of Boom + Black Delta Movement- Leeds 25th July 2015
31-West Street Live + Awooga + Kurokuma (Tramlines)- Sheffield 26th July 2015
32-2FlyStudios- Live session- Sheffield  9th October 2015
33-The Riverside- Sheffield- 22nd October 2015
34-Frog And the Parrot-Sheffield- 2nd Feb 2016
35-Coastival + Cast– Scarborough- 12th February 2016 
36-Milo Bar + {Retreat}- Leeds- 24th June 2016
37-Astral Elevator Gullivers - Manchester- 25th June 2016 
38- Coalfields Festival- Barnsley- 16th July 2016
39-Tramlines Festival- Viper Rooms- 22nd July 2016

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