The Ponderosa Glee Boys sprang out of the late 70’s Eric’s crowd and have since achieved a cult status as one of Liverpool’s great lost bands.
Encouraged to start a band by none other than Jayne Casey, Ponderosa Glee Boys emerged as purveyors of fine post punk. Rooted more in the Public Image Ltd school rather than the New York/Velvet Underground influences of much of the Liverpool scene bands at the time, the Glee Boys stood out.
For a while, all was going well. Managed by the inestimable Doreen Allen, gigs at Eric’s, Brady’s and the Royal Court gave people a chance to catch them live and they signed to Inevitable Records, home of fellow scenesters Wah! Heat.
But there the good luck stopped and the band petered out. Unfortunately, Inevitable went bust before any records could be released, their singer left and the Glee Boys soon split up.
However, some high profile gigs and a lack of recorded material proved to be a potent mix for creating a mystique that kept the band in the minds of those involved in Liverpool’s music scene at the time.
Then, out of the blue, The Ponderosa Glee Boys reappeared in 2018, to play a series of gigs in December of that year. This was made considerably more complicated by the fact that singer Carl Eaton now lives in Australia. The logistics involved here are enough to make most bands throw in the towel, but as we have seen, the Glee Boys are made of sterner stuff.
Having got back together, they decided against rehashing their old set, which was now over 40 years old, and instead bravely elected to write and rehearse a completely new set of songs. In three weeks. And then play it live to a crowd of discerning old Eric’s punks.
And, to their eternal credit, they made a stunning job of it. Those songs, once road-tested and worked on were then recorded for their long overdue debut album, Awake.
There is a common enough story that sees bands taking a far too long gap between recording albums; Stone Roses and Stereo MCs can claim five and eight years respectively between debut and their follow-ups, while Guns n’ RosesChinese Democracy famously came 15 years after its predecessor.
But Ponderosa Glee Boys had to wait a colossal 42 years before their debut album was released. The joy, vindication and hunger was evident in their gigs. They had waited a long time for this and their gigs were a release of pent up kinetic and creative energy the likes of which I have witnessed few times in my life.
Guitarist Mike Mooney is incredible, as his pedigree (Spiritualized, Massive Attack, Echo and the Bunnymen) would lead you to believe. He is able to sound like three guitarists at once and give PGB an enviable wall of sound.
Bass monster Phil Hartley and drummer Mark Robson provide a superb rhythm section, tight and with just the right amount of groove and attack.
2019 saw the band back for another visit to District in what was fast becoming a festive tradition, before the COVID-19 pandemic sadly put paid to this year’s Glee Boys spectacular.
But, all has not ground to a halt for The Ponderosa Glee Boys. Carl has been busy down under creating a set of new songs, meaning we won’t have such a long wait for Awake’s follow up.
After taking such a long time to get their debut out into the world and after starting to again build up some momentum, second album Demigods of Bedlam will be with us as soon as pandemics permit.
In the meantime, Sun 13 can present the fruits of Carl’s labour so far in the form of five demos for album number 2.
The songs are a progression from Awake and differ in tone and ambition.
Carl says that “They sound a little different than if the band were playing on them, and I’m no Mike Mooney but I’m happy with what I’ve played and the overall direction the songs have and where they sit. The second album should see us move forward and keep trying to create a sound that our current environment represents, so I wasn’t scared to try a different approach with them in the studio.”
It looks like the brave attitude that saw Awake take shape is also the driving force behind Demigods of Bedlam, and that can only be a good thing.
Here at Sun 13 we are awaiting this with barely contained hunger. The Ponderosa Glee Boys have come back from the brink to become one of Liverpool’s best bands and we have our fingers firmly crossed that 2021 will be their year.
There are a few rules of life that we should always observe. Never eat anything bigger than your head, never play cards with a tattooed lady and never pick a fight with anyone called Duane.
To these wise words, we can add a fourth rule of life; always listen to what Doreen Allen tells you.
Doreen has been a mainstay on the Liverpool music scene since it first gained fame on the world stage, being directly involved with The Stadium, Eric’s and Planet X, as well as countless other roles.
Some time ago, Doreen started to champion a then unknown band called Queen Zee and the Sasstones, later abbreviated to just Queen Zee and who became, for a brief moment, the best band in the world.
Following Queen Zee’s split, Doreen then started telling us of a new passion, a band called LibraLibra. And, following our life rules, we should listen and take LibraLibra to our hearts.
It is not hard to see why Doreen should now champion LibraLibra, they are an explosion of colour in a world that is too often filled with grey.
Their music is a collision of styles and influences, fed through a spiralizer and coated with glitter. Single Animali mixes conga rhythms with glam sensibilities, while Skin and Bone sounds like what would happen if Bikini Kill took The Slits out for a messy night on the tiles.
It is hard to stick a pin in a musical map and say “LibraLibra live here”, they have a congenital inability to conform to the rules. And thank god they do. Given that a lot of the music that gets out there is becoming more and more homogenous and dull, bands like LibraLibra remind us that individuality and commitment are more important than marketing and auotune when it comes to making music.
Sun-13 asked singer Beth to answer 13 questions. Read on to find out more about hangover remedies, boys in bands and arguing with yourself in the mirror.
1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“I’m currently up in Lincolnshire at my parents house, ended up here for lockdown but Ive been ‘chosen’ by my parents dog Betty who literally never leaves my side and has become my best friend, we do everything together, are inseparable, she’s snoring right next to me now.”
2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“I had an operation 2 weeks before lockdown, came home to my parents to recover and then bam was here up in Lincolnshire… on top of that during lockdown I started a 6 month treatment of zoladex and gone into early menopause, as this treatment shuts down your ovaries, so not guna lie with my health I’ve been up and down and I bit all over the place.
I think I’m coming out the other side now especially with the help of HRT and this sounds unbelievably cheesy, so I apologise but the band and our music have been my saviour through all of this.
I try and escape through creating, but trying to navigate the music industry right now is a mine field and I think for anyone in creative industry’s there is a lot of anxiety and fear surrounding its future.”
3. When was the last time you did something you shouldn’t have while drunk?
“My drunk food demon came out the other night after one bottle of wine too many and I think I may have eaten around 8 brioche burger buns… she’s a cruel mistress my demon.”
“I argued with myself in the mirror, I try to avoid full length mirrors at all cost because I hate looking back at myself, it’s a challenge and when I do it’s a battle and me myself and I can be pretty cruel to one another.”
5. When did you last shout at the TV?
“I just watched the channel 4 news with my mum and we both shouted at Matt Hancock, I think Charlie Brooker summed him up nicely ‘ Your sister’s first boyfriend with a car’
I feel like we have entered the twilight zone the morning I woke up to the news we were leaving the EU I feel we entered a parallel universe, we entered another dimension, the dimension where The Thick of It became reality, I keep expecting to see Chris Morris appear on the news and we have all been punned and this has been the longest running episode of Brass Eye EVER… alas it’s not and idiots like Matt Hancock are in the driving seat.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“Approximately 20 minutes ago. It’s a catch 22 situation, I contemplate quitting several times a day. I fantasise about what it must have been like to be in band back in the day without the internet, social media, having that ability to switch off, to shut the door and just disappear.
On one hand the closeness it gives us, the accessibility and reach you have at the touch of a button is amazing, but I see it as a double edged sword, now it’s like you can never sleep, never switch off.
I have an extremely addictive personality so I need to give myself breaks… and I’m not guna lie, the anxiety it can cause can be all consuming, it is a love hate relationship, and I just need to remember to be kind with myself and not quit, although I think I’ll quit… shall I quit? Haha.”
7. Did you have any hobbies as a kid?
“Haha shocker – I loved to sing, dance and act. Now when I say dance it was literally in my bedroom from the age of 5 I would just dance for hours, making up I guess musicals with songs from my parents CD collection, Tears for Fears, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Enya, anything I could get my hands on and I would spin and loose myself in these imaginary worlds.
I loved to act, so I did Speech and Drama lessons. But when I discovered Steven Berkoff those lessons with came to an end haha, and as soon as I started secondary school my mum asked if I’d like to have singing lessons and I jumped at the chance and my love affair with singing began, it really was my only escape during school.”
8. What was the first gig you went to?
“Now I have two answers my 1st one is my babysitters took me and my little sister to see Steps, I think I was 9 years old and I just remember a lot of lights, a lot of screaming and being excited cos we got McDonald’s after as we had a long drive home and I got to stay up super late. Trust I wish I could remember more! Now the first gig I bought tickets too and persuaded my mum to let me go to was Supergrass in Cambridge, I was 14 and they had a new band which I never heard of supporting, called The Libertines haha. Oh how I used to love boys in bands until I realised I could be the boy in a band.”
9. What’s your hangover remedy?
“1. If I have to get on with life, Boxing, it honestly sorts me right out IF I can motivate myself to do that!
2. If it’s a weekend of fun.. a hot and spicy Bloody Mary, loads of horseradish and some celery
3. Failing that if I’m bed ridden or head in the toilet bowl… sleep, thrillers & scifi, try and keep down water, then when it’s safe try and keep down a coke and then most likely by evening a pizza.. it’s not a cure just the only way I can get through it.”
10. What’s your first memory?
“ET, when I was 2 years old I watched ET with my cousins and it scared the living shit out of me. Apparently every night for a year I was convinced ET was in my closet, I screamed and screamed and it was a nightmare getting me to bed. But yes I just have this image of of ET in my head, it’s not cute, it’s not cuddly, it’s sinister and incites panic haha.”
11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
“Madonna’s Ray of light album start to finish, but to be honest I think it’s a banger. I think I wear all my music pleasures on my sleeve. ‘Rhythm of The Night’.. Tune, Haddaway ‘what is love’ TUNE…”
12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
“I love physical copies, artwork on albums and album sleeves so in a perfect world Vinyl. I used to love saving up my pocket money and going to spend it in HMV or Virgin on CDs. I was obsessed and its how I discovered the music that shaped me, I remember I was drawn to buying The Velvet Underground ‘Loaded’ album based on the artwork, naturally I fell in love with Lou Reed, Nico & John Cale.
I miss discovering an album bringing it home and just falling onto my bed and getting lost in the music, like I was high, like the first time I heard Pink Floyd, my mumgave me the Echoes album and my world turned upside down.
I’m not guna pretend like I don’t, I do stream and it’s amazing to have the worlds music catalogue at your finger tips but I do feel like its more clinical and there isn’t the magic that comes with physically buying a record and the ritual that comes with it. It’s just a lot easier with streaming to switch on and off and lose attention.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?