You may remember that the penultimate Creature Lab show of last year was headlined by Tenebrous Liar in the boardroom of the from Coventry Evening Telegraph Offices. This was easily the most unusual show we have ever put on, and we're really pleased that the band captured the gig in this video shot by Curtis Gullick.
2017 was quite a year for Creature Lab when you look at it all together. Here's a quick month by month write up of the main events of the year.
Gunther Prague's album "Wax Mask" is mixed, and they immediately start work on new songs.
CLR takes over The Tin for the Friday and Saturday of Independent Venue Week... Resurrection Men, Thoria, Gunther Prague, Infinite Three and Futumche are the lineup over the two days. Sadly The Courtesy Group had to pull out, but its ok, we've since booked them for IVW 2018.
"Wax Mask" is mastered in Edinburgh by Reuben Taylor
Resurrection Men begin work on their second album "No" at The Moonbase.
CLR and Futumche arrange for the band's first EP to be released via the label.
Recording dates in late October are set for Gunther Prague's second album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago.
"Wax Mask" audio goes off to the pressing plant for checking, and the project goes into "production". Vinyl artwork is finalised by the CLR's in-house design team (read: Steve).
Resurrection Men complete the recording of "No"
Gunther Prague record and mix their Covers EP in under eight hours, and also find time play their last gigs before the release of "Wax Mask"
Futumche complete work on their debut EP, now titled "Gazing into Misery", and early drafts of the artwork are completed.
The CD sleeve for "Wax Mask" is completed.
Our in-house design team also finds to do the sleeve for Superhooch's Majike Bottle EP (a self release by the band).
Posters for a joint record Launch - Gunther Prague's "Wax Mask" album, and Futumche's "Gazing into Misery EP" start to go up around the city. The show will be at The Box, FarGo Village.
"Wax Mask" arrives on vinyl, and artwork is finalised for "Gazing into Misery"
Both "Wax Mask" and "Gazing into Misery" arrive on CD, meaning that all stock is ready in plenty of time for the dual launch gig.
The show at The Box goes ahead with Gunther Prague, Futumche and Television Screens. In terms of the production, its our biggest DIY show to date... We rig up large projector screens in the room showing live footage from cameras around the venue as well as the band's visuals. "It's like a DIY Wembley Arena" Just to be awkward, Gunther Prague play at least three songs itended for their second album. It's also the hottest day of the year.
Another one of our series "Secret Gigs", this time with Gunther Prague and Ravens. "You put on gigs in mad places!" says one punter, which has remained one our highlights of the year.
Gunther Prague head into the Moonbase to record demos for their second album. "Demos are a thing of the past really, but we will be recording this album onto analogue tape and it'll be mostly live. We won't have much slack in the recording time so we'll make sure we've heard all the songs back in the Moonbase before we go."
"Stalin wasn't Stallin" and "Imma Read" from the Gunther Prague Covers EP is released via YouTube.
Resurrection Men gather for a photo-shoot for the inner sleeve of "No", shot by the CLR house photographer Antony Weir of course. The release date, and launch gig for the album are announced.
Gunther Prague play their last gig before heading off to Chicago, roadtesting the material from the new record.
Gunther Prague record another set of demos for their second album at the Moonbase, before heading off at the end of the month to Chicago to record the real thing with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio.
Resurrection Men's second album "No" is released on 12" vinyl and CD. The release is marked with the biggest CLR show yet at the West Indian Centre, with support from Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers, and Blackcar - former Headswim frontman Dan Glendining.
Gunther Prague make it back through to the UK with the 10Kg of audio tape that is the only copy of their second album in existence... US customs are understandably interested and unpack the back that its being carried in, but it makes it back unscathed.
Tenebrous Liar, Black Helium and Futumche play the first ever show in the former Coventry Evening Telegraph offices. The 1950s, wood panelled board rooms are easily the most unusual place we've ever run a show, and ever inch of the walls is covered with projections during Tenebrous Liar's set. This was a really special show which we will not forget for a long time.
Finally, we round the year off at The Tin with a our fourth end of year party and a proper old-fashioned Cov lineup: Resurrection Men, Thoria and Moonbears.
That's quite a year when you look at it all together. Thanks for reading this far if you made it to the end. We are looking forward to more of the same in 2018.
Our penultimate show of the year was possibly the best example of what CLR set out to achieve with our live promotions... putting bands into unusual locations that make for what we hope are gigs that are a bit different, and hopefully a bit more thought-provoking than your average.
Please allow us to indulge ourselves for just a little bit longer... a lot of energy is expended complaining about the lack of music venues generally, and specifically here in Coventry, but shows like this prove that there's much more to life than waiting for slots at established venues.
Our venue for this one was the CET Building, the former offices of the Coventry Evening Telegraph. Purpose built in the 1950s, and added to at various points until the staff moved out about 5 years ago, its a sprawling place that includes the wood-panelled board rooms which we took over for this show, a huge echoing industrial print works and load in between. It is currently being run by volunteers and is hosting various art installations. It is well worth a visit, and more information is available here.
Tenebrous Liar used the gig as the hometown launch of their album "The Cut", and we exhibited Steve Gullicks photos from the album artwork on the night. The band performed through a thick wall of smoke and covered every inch of the room with projections, and this was our favourite Tenebrous show of all time. (Though, of course, we must admit to being biased).
We were also very pleased to bring Black Helium to the city. Seeing (and feeling) such grinding, primitive rock in such a gentile setting was something pretty special. We'd been getting progressively more excited about their show with us since Steve Gullick played us "Primitive Fuck" a couple of months ago and were not disappointed when it was duly dispatched as a set closer.
Our boys Fütumche opened the show, and played us some songs that we hadn't heard before... we keep hearing rumours that their album is finished.. when we know more, you'll know more.
We're very proud of our upcoming events to finish off this year and start off next:
Tenebrous Liar, Black Helium, Fütumche
A unique gig in the board rooms of the former Coventry Evening Telegraph Offices on December 2nd, featuring Steve Gullick's photos and projections of Tenebrous Liar's moving images. Support from the superb Black Helium and our own mighty Fütumche!
Resurrection Men, Thoria, Moonbears
For our fourth year running we celebrate Christmas with an end of year blowout on December 16th... Resurrection Men return for the first time since the release of their second album "No", with support from Thoria and long time friends of the label Moonbears. A cov classic lineup! We are predicting some pretty serious hangovers the following day.
IVW: Gunther Prague, The Courtesy Group, Fun Sponge
The Tin has kindly offered us the plum Saturday night (Feb 3rd 2018) of Independent Venue Week for the second year running. We will bring you Gunther Prague, fresh from recording their second album with the legendary Steve Albini, The Courtesy Group who we've been stalking for two years now - amazing poetic post punk from Birmingham, and our new favourite band Fun Sponge who will be no strangers to close follower of CLR's live shows. "FUCK YOU CORNELIA!"
We have another Feb 18 show to announce soon, and you can also see Gunther Prague supporting Yawning Man on December 8th for our mates at The Phoenix for Rawk/Fargo.
Hope to see you at some or all of these.
This month, we celebrated the release of Resurrection Men's second album "No" by taking over the Coventry West Indian Centre. This was easily our favourite Creature Lab show of all time... the "Windian" is a big, bare ballroom in a community that makes a superb DIY venue even if we do say so ourselves. Its been on our target list for a long time, and we were very pleased to finally make our mark on it with our biggest show and crowd to date.
Resurrection Men turned up in terrifying form, walking out onto stage to Paul Robeson's English language version of the Soviet anthem (yep) before tearing into a version of Threes that shook the Windian from front to back.
We extended an invitation to the band that Resurrection Men have perhaps gigged with more than any other over their nearly ten years together, Charles Dexter Ward and The Imagineers. You know what you're getting with CDW, "demented blues garage boogie" according to one reviewer, and we got certainly got it!
We had a very special guest to open the show- BlackCar, the performing alias of former Headswim frontman Dan Glendining. We're not usually big fans of the one man and guitar format., but Dan's songs - helped along by one of the best guitar sounds we've come across in the wild - worked perfectly in this setting and we were made up that he chose to spend his Saturday night with us.
Last month we invited people to Gunther Prague's rehearsal space for one of our "secret" gigs... Having so many people squeezed into such a small space always makes for a incredibly sweaty and loud show, and these are always really special nights.
Support on the night came from Ravens, who must have played for CLR more times over the years than any other band not directly involved with the label.
Of course, the Lieutenant was in attendance...
...and Steve offered the traditional salute during "Wax Mask".
The venue was kept secret until 24 hours before the show, and then this map was used to let people know where they needed to go.
The double header of Gunther Prague's Wax Mask album launch and Fütumche's Gazing into Misery EP was easily our biggest show to date. On the hottest day of the year we took an empty concrete and wood shell and turned it into a very special one-off gig venue.
We were very pleased when Native Magazine named it as their favourite gig of 2017 so far. The full review is here.
As well as a full scale PA, we also dropped two large video screens into the venue so that we could show visuals and live footage with live vision mixing from our long-time collaborator Antony Weir who somehow managed to find time to take stills as well.
Fütumche! announced the arrival of their release with a powerful set, most of which will end up on their forthcoming album. They are still Creature Lab's favourite new band and will be for some time.
Television Screens opened the show with their noisy art-pop and Cold War era visuals. Beautiful.
We will be returning to The Box. There's nothing that we enjoy more than taking an empty space and turning it into a gig venue for the night, and this one was really special.
Gunther Prague set from the night was filmed and recorded in multi-track audio, so expect to see and hear more of that soon.
As close followers of the label will know, we will be doing two simultaneous releases on June 17th. Gunther Prague's album "Wax Mask" and Fütumche's double A-side "Gazing into Misery" will both be available for the first time at The Box, FarGo Village where we will be holding the launch gig. Of course, the two bands will be performing live, and the lineup will be completed by the excellent Television Screens.
We're using two variations of the gig poster to promote each release. We'd love to see you all there... tickets are £5 in advance and £8 on the night.
We are very pleased to announce that Fütumche! will be working with Creature Lab to release "Gazing into Misery", a double A-side from their forthcoming album, which will also feature bonus B-sides that won't appear on any other release.
Fütumche! are our new favourite band... we had them down as ones to watch since we first heard about their formation just over a year ago. They did not disappoint when they finally appeared on the live circuit... think Fugazi, Tuxedomoon, Killing Joke, Primus, Jay Reatard, Magazine, The Residents, with a hint in Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure.
Gazing into Misery will be released on CD in a card slipcase, featuring beautiful collage artwork by Ben Thompson commissioned especially for the release. As usual it will also appear on the all major digital services.
We'll confirm the release date and details of the launch gig tomorrow evening.
Our year started with two hugely successful shows at The Tin in support of Independent Venue Week 2017. We took over the venue on the last Friday and Saturday of January for what we are calling a "noise-rock weekender" - a format we will may well use again.
We were very pleased to bring The Infinite Three up from London, who Gunther Prague met on their travels last year.
Friday night was opened by Thoria, who have more than twenty years of history including a Kerrang single of the week in 2004, and a music video banned in the US in 2007. There live appearances are increasingly rare, and there was real anticipation before their set consisting of entirely new songs which did not disappoint.
Friday headliners were Resurrection Men, playing their first gig in a year the night before going into the studio to record their second album (which should be finished by the time you read this). The new record will appear on Creature Lab later in 2017.
We've had Futumche down as ones to watch since we first heard rumours of their formation over a year ago, and they did not disappoint. They are our new favourite Cov band and we are very much hoping to be working with them soon.
The Creature Lab "shop" did brisk business all weekend, and several releases - particularly Resurrection Men Must Die and Gunther Prague's Blue EP are now as good as sold out. Over the two nights we had over 100 people through the doors, and special credit is due to the people who made the effort come to both show. We'll certainly be doing this again, so watch this space.
For our first shows of the year will join forces with The Tin to put on two nights of noise-rock in support of Independent Venue Week. Headliners for both nights come from the Creature Lab roster, with the rest of the bill made up of the very best DIY alternative bands from the City of Coventry and friends we've made from further afield.
Friday 27th January
A three-pronged guitar attack producing gloomy atmospherics and hypnotic waves of noise, the band puts on a live show that is felt as much as it is heard, and is not easily forgotten. Often too quickly categorised as "stoner rock", they threw genres aside with their long-awaited full length album "Resurrection Men Must Die" in 2014 and are now preparing to record a follow up.
Distorted misunderstanding faces of music, "we don't know where we're going but we know where we are" they chant as they close their massive iron gates to the rehearsal room. Today music is very hard to understand, mostly it's hard to understand where this crap is unearthed from. But there is one thing I know true....THORIA have a shovel and it's got four handles.... shovel away lads...SHOVEL AWAY.
Saturday 28th of January
Deliberately awkward, louder than necessary. Influenced by Shellac, Mclusky, Harvey Milk, Killing Joke, Black Eyes, and King Crimson... Expect twenty songs in barely more than half an hour and an appearance from the mysterious "lieutenant". Gunther Prague are currently finishing an album which will be their third release in eighteen months.
The Infinite Three
Taking cues from noise-rock, dub effects, drone and metal, The Infinite Three's songs are warped constructions grounded in heavy repetition and clattering dissonance. “If you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for ’90s noise rock like Cop Shoot Cop or the post-punk sound of Killing Joke, then you’ll be interested in hearing UK band The Infinite Three… psychedelic, droning, and hypnotic.” – Metal Insider
The city's newest alternative rock/post punk band, who use thick jangley tones, and furious rhythms to tell tales of strange places and dark things. A must see.
Our penultimate show of year is with long time friends of the label Storm The Palace.
StP will be coming to us all the way Edinburgh as part of their Winter tour, and they will be bringing Virgin of the Birds with them. VotB is singer-songwriter John Rooney' solo project, founded in San Francisco and now based in Seattle. John is also the founder of Abandoned Love Records, which includes Storm The Palace it its roster. Finally, we will have Coventry's own Invitation to Love who will whisk you away with their synthesiser swoon-pop.
Come and join us, this will not be your average show!
Our next promotion will be back at the Tin on November 19th when we will be bring you two of the city's finest alternative rock bands on the same bill for the first time.
If you follow goings on at Creature Lab closely you will know all about Gunther Prague: Deliberately awkward, louder than necessary. Influenced by Shellac, Mclusky, Harvey Milk, Black Eyes, and King Crimson... Expect twenty songs in barely more than half an hour and an appearance from the mysterious "lieutenant". Gunther Prague are currently finishing an album which will be their third release in 18 months.
Superhooch: Two guitars, drums and bass, a singer's voice that'll melt your face, fuzz, feedback and almighty riffs! Fusing blues, garage rock, stoner and psychadelia, Superhooch are ready to convert you!
Last week we took over Shopfront Theatre for Duck Thieves' "In Liverpool We'll Barn Dance" EP launch. Here are some of Antony Weir's shots from the night.
How does it feel to be British Born Chinese and line dance in Liverpool? How does it feel be pummelled into submission in the boxing ring by a movie director? How does it feel to fail gloriously with your very best friends?
Creature Lab's tenth release will be Duck Thieves' new EP which will help you to answer these burning questions! It will appear on all major streaming services on October 22nd.
The record's release will be marked by a spectacular party at a special venue. The UK's only professional shopfront theatre, home to Theatre Absolute, will play host to four of the most creative and unique musical acts that the local DIY scene has to offer:
Delightful Young Mothers will perform a full band set of their beautifully written, accordion driven, punk-influenced songs with a lineup that includes members of Batsch and Marker Starling.
Nim Chimpsky describe their music as "by chimps, for champs" and have quickly become cult favourites on the local scene since they first appeared less than a year ago. A noisy, technicolour monster.
Invitation to Love are named after the trashy television romance from Twin Peaks... after that, describing them gets tricky. Surrounded in mystery, ITL shows are rare and never fail to be worth seeing.
Of course, topping the show will be Duck Thieves themselves, telling their tales in a style a bit like pantomime soundtracked by Queen. Expect chaos, dance routine, barely believable numbers of props and costume changes, and expect to smile and dance for forty minutes solid.
Steve's presentation about the DIY music scene in Coventry is now available to watch and listen to. This was part of the "My City of Culture" event in July hosted by Coventry Artspace, which part of Coventry's bid to become the City of Culture in 2021.
Steve was really pleased to be asked to speak at the recent Pecha Kucha Coventry event "My City of Culture". Coventry is bidding to be the UK City of Culture in 2021, and this one of a number of events planned in the run up to the submission of the bid itself in 2018. Steve spoke about the importance of DIY gigs, and why Coventry is perfect for musicians who are brave enough to take responsibility and put on their own shows. The slides and audio will eventually be uploaded in the Pecha Kucha Coventry website and we'll provide a link when they go up.
The show at Inspire at the end of May was easily one of our favourites of all time... a real reminder why DIY gigs are so much fun and worth the hard work. We'd like to record our thanks to everybody that came out (the venue estimated 120+), the bands for putting on such good shows and particularly Mick Leape and his staff at Inspire for hosting us.
This was our first even "Pay What You Want" gig, and we're pleased to report that people gave generously when prompted by The Lieutenant and we were able to split a decent pot between the acts. DIY!