Gunther Prague / Capital Rats / CLR18

Gunther Prague’s second full length album has now been released as CLR18. Recorded in three days with Steve Albini at his studio Electrical Audio in Chicago, “Capital Rats” is now available on bandcamp and on all the usual streaming services.

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We asked the band to tell us a bit about making a record with one of the world’s most respected engineers.

It took us about a year to get dates agreed with Steve’s studio manager, and in fact the whole thing got put back by about six weeks for the 2017 Shellac European tour, and to be honest we were grateful for the extra preparation time. Electrical is a very impressive place to make a record behind an unassuming door in a very normal area about five miles from downtown Chicago. Steve arrives on his bike every morning and he’ll work just about as long into the evening as you want him to, although he does have strong ideas about the point at which people’s ears and concentration have done as much as they can do in a day. He’s very, very funny and easy to work with and particularly enjoys making grandiose announcements to his staff over the intercom system.

 Brendan’s drum setup in Kentucky

Brendan’s drum setup in Kentucky

As you may expect if you’ve read anything about the way that he works, most of the first day was taken up with mic placements in the two live rooms we used - Kentucky for drums and Centre Field for the rest of the band. Albini fans will also be pleased to hear that while we where auditioning guitar sounds he got very excited at one point and said to (our) Steve “I’ve got something I want you to try!” before handing him an aluminium body guitar. It didn’t make it onto the record but it was great to be given one of the famous metal guitars to try out by the man himself. The range of drum shells, amps and guitar pedals we were given to choose from was barely believable, and Steve spend at least an hour with each of us asking about how our setups at home worked and what we wanted from the sound of record. He particularly approved of Brendan’s “no toms” drum setup.

 Ligs in Centre Field (as viewed from Kentucky)

Ligs in Centre Field (as viewed from Kentucky)

Recording onto tape requires a lot more discipline than digital recording, but with Steve you are in the hands of someone who knows what can and can’t be done on tape. The speed with which we can make edits even on the 2 inch master tape is incredible, and he has an ear for things that most would miss. Making a record in three days is a lot of work, but he actually got really excited about that aspect of it “It’s like working on a session in the 80s!” he said at the point that we realised we needed to record twelve vocals and mix the entire record on day three. By the end of that day we were ruined, but Steve is made of sterner stuff and really seemed to relish the need to get the record finished in a very limited time. “Too many bands record stuff and then fuck around with in on their laptops for two years afterwards” he told us.

Fütumche! To the Withered Deity

Fütumche! have finally released their long anticipated debut album "To the Withered Deity" which is now available on all major digital streaming services and on Bandcamp.

TTWD Digital Artwork.jpg

Following on from last year's "Gazing into Misery EP" - which was released as a teaser for the album itself, this is a deeply strange record, a collection of songs reflecting the unnatural nature of human beings, their behaviours and psyche. Like the preceding EP, TTWD features artwork from Ben Thompson, and this is certainly one of the prettiest releases we've ever worked on at CLR.

We'll be putting on a headline show for Fütumche! in a couple of months. Details to follow.


CLR

Slowbro Nothings

"It is here... the dark one"

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Last weekend, the faithful gathered at Backhaus and Co to celebrate the release of Slowbro's debut album "Nothings". Despite the relatively gentile surroundings, we are pretty sure that this is the loudest show that CLR has ever put on... Slowbro's dual 8-string guitars make this record, and the live show that goes with it, heavier that the burden of existence itself.

We were also very pleased to welcome Fütumche! back, who have recently completed the recording of their own debut "To the Withered Deity" which will be released via CLR later this year. 

Opening the show were Trees and Queens, who have an EP of their own in the making, which was at least partially recorded in Backhaus, so we are sure they felt at home! 

Gunther Prague and Duke at the CET

At the end of April, Creature Lab took over the Old Press Hall at the CET Building for a really special one off show.  This one  really sums up the way that we like to do things - take a place that isn't a gig venue and it turn it into one.

 Duke - photo by Antony Weir

Duke - photo by Antony Weir

That doesn't happen without a great deal of hard work! We had volunteers in the building from 10.30am getting the place ready for a show. Thanks to everyone that gave up their time to work on this one including the team at the CET and Urban.

 Gunther Prague - photo by Antony Weir

Gunther Prague - photo by Antony Weir

The CET Building is a very special location, and everyone should take the chance to make the most of it for the next month or so that it will be available for events.

 The Infinite Three - photo by Antony Weir

The Infinite Three - photo by Antony Weir

Ehcmutuf, The Infinite Three, Duke, and Gunther Prague all put on superb (and very different) shows in a unique setting, and we should also thank them for being open minded enough to play in a disused industrial basement!

February Gigs

Here's a quick report on our two February shows:

IVW: Gunther Prague, Courtesy Group, Fun Sponge

This was our second year promoting Independent Venue Week at The Tin, and again we were really pleased by the number of people that took the trouble to turn out and support a venue which survives as a charity, and hear new music which isn't always that immediate or accessible. We've had The Courtesy Group on our list for a trip over to Coventry for a couple of years, and we were not disappointed. "In the Rock, on the rock" was particularly powerful, and we are very much hoping that it is on their forthcoming album. We will be having TCG back  when the album is released over the summer.

 Al Hutchins of The Courtesy Group. Photo by Antony Weir

Al Hutchins of The Courtesy Group. Photo by Antony Weir

We're not going to waste any more time writing about Gunther Prague here - if you're reading this you will have long made up your mind about them. Similarly you all know already how highly we rate Fun Sponge. We particularly enjoyed TCG's description of them as "like a deranged Buddy Holly". 

Piano Wire, Tenebrous Liar, Horseflies

Last March. the Creature Lab gang went to watch this same bill as punters on their night off, and it was pretty much our favourite show of the year. Since then we've worked with Tenebrous Liar on a few things including a very special show at the CET building last year. When we found out that the three bands were playing some gig together again, we offered to host the show this time around. 

 Piano Wire. Photo by Tenebrous Liar

Piano Wire. Photo by Tenebrous Liar

This was just as much fun second time round - particularly Piano Wire's new new three-piece lineup and set of grinding "Jesus Lizard meets Shellac meets Birthday Party" songs. 

2017 in words

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.

January
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.

February
"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.

March
"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"

April
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).

May
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"

June
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.

July
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.

August
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.

September
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.

October
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. 

November
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.

December
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.

CLR.


 

Tenebrous Liar at the CET Building

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.

 Steve Gullick of Tenebrous Liar. Photo by Antony Weir

Steve Gullick of Tenebrous Liar. Photo by Antony Weir

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.

 The Dining Room, CET Building (before)

The Dining Room, CET Building (before)

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.

 The Dining Room, CET Building (after), Photo by Antony Weir

The Dining Room, CET Building (after), Photo by Antony Weir

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).

 Black Helium. Photo By Curtis Gullick

Black Helium. Photo By Curtis Gullick

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.

 Jaz Rai of Fütumche! Picture by Antony Weir

Jaz Rai of Fütumche! Picture by Antony Weir

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.

2017 into 2018

We're very proud of our upcoming events to finish off this year and start off next:

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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!
 

Res Men Moonbears, Thoria Dec 16 2017 WEB SMALL.jpg

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.

GP, TCG, FS IVW Feb 3 2018 web 500.jpg

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.


CLR.

Resurrection Men "No"

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.

 He feels fine

He feels fine

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.

 Resurrection Men

Resurrection Men

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! 

 BlackCar

BlackCar

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.

Resurrection Men - No - Album Launch Poster WEB.jpg

Gunther Prague + Ravens

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.

 Gunther Prague

Gunther Prague

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.

 Ravens

Ravens

Of course, the Lieutenant was in attendance...

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...and Steve offered the traditional salute during "Wax Mask".

 Gunther Prague

Gunther Prague

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.

Map.PNG

Gunther Prague at The Box

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.

 Photo: Antony Weir

Photo: Antony Weir

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.

 Photo: Tom Godwin / Native Magazine

Photo: Tom Godwin / Native Magazine

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.

 Photo: Tom Godwin

Photo: Tom Godwin

Television Screens opened the show with their noisy art-pop and Cold War era visuals. Beautiful.

 Photo: Tom Godwin / Native Magazine

Photo: Tom Godwin / Native Magazine

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.

 

 

Wax Mask / Gazing into Misery - The Box, June 17th

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. 

CLR13 - Fütumche! - Gazing into Misery

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.

Independent Venue Week 2017

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.

 "The Lieutenant" keeps a close eye on Gunther Prague's set

"The Lieutenant" keeps a close eye on Gunther Prague's set

We were very pleased to bring The Infinite Three up from London, who Gunther Prague met on their travels last year.

 THE INFINITE THREE

THE INFINITE THREE

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.

 RESURRECTION MEN and MIKE FROM THE TIN BACKSTAGE

RESURRECTION MEN and MIKE FROM THE TIN BACKSTAGE

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.

 FUTUMCHE!

FUTUMCHE!

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.

 STEVE MANNING THE CREATURE LAB SHOP

STEVE MANNING THE CREATURE LAB SHOP

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.

Independent Venue Week at The Tin

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

Resurrection Men
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.

Thoria
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

Gunther Prague
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

Fütumche!
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.