Mono is 'non-profit with minimal advertising to pay for the cost of printing only each month. Everyone who contributes to Mono does so on a voluntary basis'
Mono's FREE and out on the first of every month 'from all good vendors in and around Bradford'
Neesh says: "I never wanted Mono to be solely about music. I also see the 'zine as a forum for local news, politics, social issues, history and the future. In fact anything which is relevant to the everyday lives of Bradfordians!"
Anthony Kneeshaw, better known as Neesh, is starting off 2007 in positive mood. As editor of Bradford's free music fanzine Mono he's got good reason to, after all he feels that the city's music scene is in rude health and likely to stay so for some time to come: "There seems to be a change. In the last year or so you've been able to feel it...I've heard a lot of people say that there's something going on in Bradford!" The only problem is, though, that beyond those already 'in the know', it's not easy to get across the message that Bradford's booming - at least when it comes to its eclectic mix of bands and a growing list of live venues.
With that in mind, Neesh is at the forefront of what might be called a 'consciousness raising exercise'. In other words, he's doing his bit - with a little help from Mono - to shout the Good News from Bradford's rooftops. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it...
Bradford's music scene appears to have been enjoying some very deep slumbers for a number of years now both in terms of the bands out there and the venues available to put 'em on. A shame really, considering Bradford's often punched above its weight when it comes to the big names which have emerged from here in the past such as The Cult, New Model Army and Terrorvision to name but three. But, according to Neesh, the city's finally emerging from its Big Sleep!
|CD stars: This Et Al|
To celebrate that, as well as complementing the work of Mono, Neesh and his collaborators have put together a brand new shiny CD featuring some of Bradford's top tunesmiths. The compilation, Escape From Monotony, showcases just what musical gems are on offer in Bradford and its aim, says Neesh, is simple: "It's to raise awareness. To show people that while there's a lot of things going on in Leeds and other big cities in the North, there are a lot of things going on in Bradford, too. Right under people's noses! There's good music, new venues and a lot of people involved in various projects."
The eighteen-track compilation features a bit of everything, from This Et Al to Wilful Missing, from BBC West Yorkshire webteam faves The Loved Ones and their weird and wonderful 'Self Destruction For Beginners' to Falconetti's fantastically HUGE and strangely moving 'Kino' - not to mention some of Neesh's very own shimmering acoustic guitar work too! As he says, it's "the whole plethora of music in there, from solo acoustic ballads to heavy rock and everything in between!" And, says Neesh, it was no easy job. Those 18 tracks are the result of many hours of hard work and no little heartsearching to boil it down from 150 possibles to the final tracklisting.
In the end, says Neesh, the challenge was to show just what Bradford has to offer: "We're all a bit leftfield, we don't like the mainstream and we do like originality. So, if someone's doing something a bit original, a bit exciting it'll trigger things off in our minds. There were a lot of pop and rock songs and things we didn't really think were appropriate [for the CD] - stuff you can hear on Radio One all day. It was easy to step away from that, but from then it was hard to decide - especially when we got down to the last thirty tracks and we had to 'bin' the last ten." The hard work was worth it, though, with Escape From Monotony a truly satisfying and sometimes exciting listen. The aim, says Neesh, wasn't necessarily to include the 'best' bands or even the best-recorded tracks, just to reflect what's out there in Bradford today in all its glory: "This isn't about just one type of music, one style or genre. It isn't about age either. It's about all the different areas of music."
|"Come forward and get involved! You don't have to be a musician, you just need to like music. We want people to come forward and write for us..."|
Part One of the grand plan to put Bradford back on the musical map is obviously shaping up, as happily and extensively revealed in the pages of Mono and by the aural pleasures on offer throughout Escape From Monotony. But what of Part Two? After all, once the bands exist then they need to be seen as well as heard - it's rock'n'roll law! The venues, says Neesh, are there - but it's down to people to get motivated and drag themselves away from Celebrity Big Icon Show Off Dancing (or whatever) on the box and down to their local pub or club: "One of the main reasons for Mono is to show people that there is stuff going on...It's always been difficult to get people to go and see new bands, hasn't it? We're not kidding ourselves. We're not living in Camden or some funky place with lots of bars. But I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd go out and see new bands if they knew they were on!"
And, as a true champion of Bradford's musical rebirth, Neesh says that from the Gasworks to the Delius bar, Bradford is showing signs of developing a 'scene' once again: "Take The Love Apple for instance. It's a really good club, they're putting a lot of effort in. There's a realisation that one way to get good bands on is to allow promoters who are motivated to take over a club - like with Granadaland and other nights. They're bringing in some really good bands. That's giving a lot of exposure to new music from outside the city which helps to create the scene...Bradford will gain more of a reputation, more venues will open up. Bradford does seem to be on the up now, with the [city centre] regeneration." But, Neesh admits there's still some way to go before Bradford in 2007 can challenge the glories of yesteryear: "Maybe there'll be an opportunity for a new venue right in the city centre...I know that a lot of bands have played in Bradford in the past, massive iconic artists like Bowie and Queen; The Clash played St George's Hall twice; Joy Division played here. These sort of bands aren't coming anymore. There are a lot of problems, but problems are there to be solved!"
|The Loved Ones: Theatrical!|
So, Bradford has its bands, its venues, its own fanzine, and a growing number of people who have faith in the future of the city and its music. Yes, it has its heritage to look back on but after years of what have sometimes seemed like a musical famine, Neesh believes the feast could be just around the corner. All it takes, he says, is people with commitment - and that means YOU, whether you're in a band, want to write about music or just love those darned catchy sounds emanating from a venue near you: "Come forward and get involved! You don't have to be a musician, you just need to like music. There's lots to do! We want people to come forward and write for us even if you've never written for a 'zine before, have a go! The main thing is, though, get out and see a band. Get to the Delius, the Love Apple, the University, the Gasworks. Just get out, see bands and get involved!"
And let Neesh's enthusiasm for all things musical in Bradford serve as a warning to all those bands who are most decidedly from Bradford (or even Wakefield, Huddersfield or Halifax) but who have joined in with the ever so trendy 'we're-from-Leeds-really' mantra. When the dust settles and Bradford once again gains its rightful position as the true holders of West Yorkshire's rock'n'roll crown, you'll have made your bed and you'd better prepare to lie in it while others take the glory. In the meantime, as Neesh so rightly says, it's time to put words into action and 'get involved!'
To find out more about Mono magazine and how to get involved, click on the links on the top right of this page!
To get hold of a copy of the Escape From Monotony compilation, contact Mono and Neesh by the wonders of modern technology, ie e-mail!
That Escape From Monotony tracklisting in full:
Laboratory Noise: You Created A Storm/Laika Dog: Daddy, What's Your Soul?/Laura Groves: Coast/Le Tournoi: Christmas Eve/The Loved Ones: Self Destruction For Beginners/worriedaboutsatan: Morwenna/The Somatics: Ghosts/This Et Al: Can You Speak European/Threads: In Search Of The Holy Riff/Wilful Missing: Ghosts/Monty Casino: Getting Old/neesh: Camden Town Cowboy/Jon Jones + The Beatniks Movement: Scum/Abi Lovelle: Just Like Lovers/Falconetti: Kino/Fourteencorners: Small Northern Town/Harmacy: On The Waves/James Dey: Landing Lights