Pubcrawling With The Kids
As well as all this activity with Stormclouds Steve was also involved in a few side projects. The Pubcrawlers, a duo with Steve and Dave Scott recorded a bunch of drinking songs. Meeting every Saturday afternoon and getting stuck into bourbon and beer they finally produced a tape of five drinking songs with such unlikely titles as Lost In Woolworths, The Home Brew Song, Get It Down Yer and CAMRA Men. Another tape features Steve working with his nephew, Danny and his son, Matthew as The Kids. They were 11 and 12 respectively at the time and sang, while Steve played instruments. They wrote such songs as I Hate School, I Don't Wanna Go To Bed, I'm Bored, and Video Kids together. Steve also contributed a couple of songs to various Acid Tapes compilations under various disguises such as The Youthful Wards and Professor X. These were all recording projects, but he was also involved in live side projects as well such as The Wicked Messengers who played every year at a local gig organised to celebrate Bob Dylan's birthday; The Clampetts, whom Steve would occasionally join on bass and John Boy & the Jim Bobs, a country & western cover band.
I don't know much about art, but I know what I like
Steve has also co-written a couple of songs with Swedish space-rock band Darxtar. Contributing the lyrics to The Fireclown (based on the Moorcock book and released on the Darker album), and 10,000 Light Years From Home which remains un-recorded, although it has been played live apparently. He also painted the impressive Bruce Pennington inspired cover to their third album Daybreak. Other album covers Steve has produced include Wake Up Sometime! by The Chemistry Set, So Far...So What! by The Boys From County Hell, "Mellifluous Confluence" by Ethereal Counterbalance and "Lonely Teardrops" by The Unheard Of (as well as the various Stormclouds releases of course). Steve was also the resident artist for influential Belgian psychedelic magazine Crohinga Well and has been producing artwork for countless music/ horror/fantasy & science fiction mags for over twenty years as well as producing his own fanzines and comic books.
Lost in The House On The Borderland
December '92 saw the release of The House On The Borderland album , again on Acid Tapes. Unhinged: "A collection of acoustic demos, which catches the sound that Stormclouds most often produce when they do play gigs. They seem to have got tired of making the backing tracks necessary to play songs as recorded and the backwater area they live in has yet to reveal anything approaching a drummer and lead guitarist to make live gigs likely. Gigs more often than not now are at parties. Steve strumming, Louise's voice ringing and soaring, with a cool purity of tone. This is a 10 song journey into the myth seas of dreams and dreaming with its starting harbour the same that Tyrannosaurus Rex sailed from to reach Once Upon The Seas Of Abyssinia, the wind in the sails like the furry edged zephyrs that blew Clay Allison towards camp fires and star skies on the seeming shores of the Sargasso Sea. Songs of the sea and the edges of the world, like the title track, Ocean Jewel and Sailors On The Seas, or songs about the edge of reality like Looking Glass World. The only known song is a re-recording of Look At Her Eyes from Raindrops, though Baby Moonlight has been around even longer un-recorded. On these songs the joking mask is dropped and what comes across is a sense of wonder in living in such a magic world, Steve writing like he's already followed Coleridge halfway down the road to Xanadu, Louise singing that some romance in a more personal way, on We Believe confirming the passion, but especially on the closing tracks Midnight Sun and Shooting Star you get the feeling she most definitely has love on her mind rather than just being a singer going through the words."
Steve: "Following The House On The Borderland tape things slowed down a lot. Gigs were infrequent and when we played live I didn't enjoy it at all. Problems with the backing tape and audiences that just wanted 'pub rock' made them dismal affairs for me. Also recording was minimal - Lou and I would argue a lot. My songwriting had nearly dried up and in the space of a year we recorded perhaps five or six songs. I think I had taken Stormclouds as far as I could go like this. I decided it was time to record more of the folk/psych material that I'd always been writing and playing at gigs but never recorded. So we enlisted Ken Flynn (as engineer and musician) and began recording material for a projected album to be titled Nightmares In The Sky. Slowly work began on what was to be Stormclouds' debut album. Recording sessions were at weekends at Ken Flynn's 8 Track Thunderhead Studios in Calne and slowly the songs began coming together. The band had put aside their fuzz/trash/sci-fi pop to concentrate on a more psychedelic/folk approach. But fate was to take a hand and this album was to remain unfinished for a considerable time until it was finally released as The Darkest Hour in 2007
After The Storm
Steve and Lou split up in October '93 for "personal reasons", which actually involved Lou running off with a local drummer. However she did complete a few remaining songs at recording sessions after this date.. "When Lou and I split up I'd decided that there was no way I could work with her again, (even though, incredibly, she still wanted to stay in the band). I think she thought she was indispensable, but I made the decision to find a new vocalist, which took a lot of courage as I had no one in mind when I sacked Lou. She completed a couple of vocal tracks which appeared on the Not Of This Earth album and went on to join a local soul cover band."
While Lou was in the studio completing those final songs Steve was auditioning her replacement, Melanie Townsend. Steve: "Christine Cotter rang me up because she knew that I was looking for a singer and she said she knew somebody who might be interested., somebody called Melanie. Rod then played Mel tapes of Stormclouds stuff plus various songs by Mazzy Star, Jesus and Mary Chain, Kendra Smith etc to give her an idea what the band was all about. Then, I got in touch with Mel to arrange an audition. I'd never auditioned anyone before and I never thought I'd have to find a new Stormclouds vocalist so I wasn't sure what to do but when I rang Mel the first thing she said was she wanted to sing Halah by Mazzy Star at the audition. As far as I was concerned that was it, she was in! So, on November 10th we did the audition, both as nervous as hell, and that was it, Stormclouds were up and running with only a two week gap between singers. Still having the band together helped me get through a lot of other shit that was going down at the time." Steve began writing songs straight away (the first being November Rain) and they began putting down rough demos of new songs as well as re-recording older material with Mel's vocals. "When Lou was sacked we were halfway through our long awaited Nightmares in the Sky album. Of the 12 songs we were working on six were finished, and Lou completed the vocals on the remaining six. These songs will probably be released in some form or another in the future." Mel's first recording work included a cover version of Ride A White Swan for the Old School Records Bolan tribute album The Resurrection Of The Warlock which was released in December 1985. Tony Visconti had this to say about the song in his liner notes: "I had the most eerie feeling listening to "Ride A White Swan" as rendered by Stormclouds. The backing is uncannily like the original recording with the only difference being a synth string patch playing the original string part played by four violins (no it wasn't a mellotron, just a bad recording). The shock was the angelic voice of Melanie Townsend singing the song. It's as if Marc graciously stepped aside and let an angel sing lead." Another early studio recording was Galaxie 500's Hearing Voices for Elefant Records forthcoming tribute album.
Nightmares In The Sky
Work began again on Nightmares In The Sky, starting from scratch. Some of the old songs were re-recorded and new songs were included as well. The album was completed in August '95. Steve also managed to achieve a small ambition and get some violin playing on a couple of the songs. "Paul Ricketts put me in touch with Emily Drake who he thought might be interested in playing violin on some songs, so I wrote to her, sent a tape of Stormclouds songs and some stuff by Mazzy Star. Emily was interested and studio time was arranged. When me and Ken went to pick Emily up, we had a bit of trouble finding the right house, but there was one with music playing loud, which as I got nearer I recognised as Halah by Mazzy Star. Then I knew that Emily was going to be fine, which indeed she was. She put some beautiful violin on November Rain and some wonderfully strange violin on Hearing Voices (our cover of the Galaxie 500 song.) Since these sessions her own band Pagan Fringe has been doing very well and she hasn't been able to contribute to any more of our recordings, which is a shame". Nightmares In The Sky was released on 3rd March 1996 on Stormclouds' own label Rainfall Records, (run by Steve, Paul Ricketts and Clive Jones). This was a limited vinyl pressing of 500 (released on Stormclouds' tenth anniversary) and was almost sold out by June. A CD version of the album was released on 15th November 1996 with extra songs and different versions of several other songs which appeared on the vinyl release. In March '96 Maljugin Music released Nightmares & Daydreams a collection of outtakes, demos and rough mixes from Nightmares In The Sky and in July '96 Acid Tapes put out the cassette version of Nightmares In The Sky with two extra tracks that don't appear on the vinyl.
Stormclouds At Spiros' Bar
To celebrate the completion of their album Stormclouds played at a private party in Calne at "Spiros' Bar" on 22nd July 1995. Steve: "Playing live is a lot of effort for very little reward. We haven't got a drummer, a PA or a practice place - I prefer to get on with recording and put out records (despite the amount of time it seems to take). We may do gigs in the future - it depends on the demand." As it turned out the band didn't do any more gigs and this low-key affair was the only Stormclouds gig with Melanie Townsend on vocals.
Sleep No More
Stormclouds’ "difficult third album" Sleep No More was finally released by Rainfall Records on September 18th, 2000. Just before the release of the album, Paul Ricketts (a third of the Rainfall Records crew) pulled out of the label; Rainfall Records now consisted of the partnership of Steve Lines and Clive Jones. Sleep No More was available on vinyl and CD (with the CD having three extra tracks). Guests on the album included Childe Roland who contributed his excellent guitar work to most of the tracks on the album and also had a song of his, Sacrifice included as well. The ever elusive Reefus Moons played almost all of the instruments on his arrangement of The Sleepy Tree (Sleepy Version) and Mark Angell provided guest vocals on The Strange Inventor. and Gray. The vinyl album came with a free 16 page A4 lyric book which was lavishly illustrated. The album cover was designed and painted by Lorretta Mansell and Steve Lines. The vinyl format was a limited edition, numbered release of 1,000 copies and will not be re-pressed on vinyl
Strange Aeons was released on August 6th 2001. It was a double CD album of music and poetry inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft and the ever expanding ‘Cthulhu Mythos’. It is a various artists compilation and bands featured include Stormclouds, Childe Roland, Rod Goodway, The Petals, Astral Weeks, Fireaxe, The Zoogs, The Gugsand Spawn of Chaos. The album also features a number of Lovecraftian poets and authors reading their own work, including Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, Simon Clark, Robert M. Price, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., John B. Ford, Tim Lebon, Joel Lane, Susan McAdam, Michael Cisco, Kevin Broxton, Lorretta Mansell and many more. It also includes the works of Thomas Ligotti, Richard L. Tierney and Ann K. Schwader. The second CD is a bonus collection of outtakes, alternate versions, demos and extra tracks and overall there is more than two hours of music. Steve: "This was a big project for me. I'm involved in some way with almost every track, either performing or on the writing side. Many of the characters and bands on the album are really me under assumed names - I won't spoil the fun by saying which ones though! It was great to get such a stunning line up of Mythos writers in on the project and to work with some of my favourite bands."
The Darkest Hour
When Louise Allen left the band in they were working on what would have been their debut album Nightmares In The Sky. With her departure the project was shelved and Stormclouds, with new vocalist Melanie Townsend, began work on the album anew. However before Lou left she did complete the vocal tracks on all 13 songs for the album. In January 2003 Steve and Ken decided to dust off Lou's Nightmares In The Sky and complete the unfinished songs. The result was The Darkest Hour.
Having just completed The Darkest Hour Steve and Ken then completed all the unfinished material that Mel left behind when she went. Steve: "While we were recording Sleep No More we did several acoustic versions of some songs as demos. We also did a slow Opal-esque version of Shadowqueen which didn't make it onto Sleep No More, Then there's a new recording of When The Dream Fades which originally appeared on our first cassette album It's Raining Still. There are also alternate versions of some of the material from Nightmares In The Sky. Several songs on this album differ on the vinyl and CD formats, and here they'll differ again. Also included is the version of"November Rain which was supposed to appear as a free vinyl 7" (with The Marshmallow Overcoat) and given away free with the first issue of Paul Ricketts' new magazine WOW! This never saw publication though. Finally it includes all the Stormclouds songs that appeared on Strange Aeons, but again in slightly different versions. The album was Shadowqueen.
The King In Yellow
In August 2007 Rainfall Records released the follow up to "Strange Aeons" titled The King In Yellow. The King in Yellow was a limited edition (CD only) album based on Robert Chamber's King in Yellow stories and the mythos which has grown up around them.
The Doctor's Pond
In March 2006 Steve revived The Doctor’s Pond with his partner in crime from The Chaos Brothers, Mike Humphreys. Their debut album was released on Rainfall Records in May 2009 and also featured Ken Flynn on backing vocals, lead guitar and keyboards. For an acoustic gig in Bath on 25th November 2009 they drafted in one-time member Dave Young on acoustic guitar. At the moment they are working on new material for an album titled Swamp Sickness. Steve is also working on a solo Doctor’s Pond album titled Swampadelic as he’s frustrated with waiting for Mike to contribute his vocal
Just When You Thought It Was Safe . . .
And finally, just when you thought it was safe to assume that the Legendary Chaos Brothers were no more, they return in mighty triumph. Guitarist Dave Young now runs The Victoria pub in Swindon, a major venue for up and coming bands. The Chaos Brothers got together had a few rehearsals and a few beers and played a support slot at The Victoria to the even more legendary Vibrators on March 11th 2005. Not known for their gruelling schedule though, the next gig by these "hardworking boys" was at the same venue in December, supporting punk old timers 999.
. . . It was!
And finally, just when you thought it was safe to assume that the Legendary Chaos Brothers were no more, you were right. Drummer Simon Bewley left these shores in November 2007 for climes antipodean, (Perth) and, charistically the band didn't even mange to put together a farewell gig, so their last gig was in fact supporting 999 at The Victoria in Swindon on 9th December 2005. God bless The Chaos Brothers
No it wasn't!
Just when they thought it was safe, Dave Young found a new drummer, in the shape of Terry Chaos and the band played at the John Peel Memorial gig at The Vic on after only three rehearsals. So The Legendary Chaos Brothers are back (sort of). They had a gig supporting The Vibrators in April 2011 but Mike Chaos pulled out due to lack of rehearsal time. Not really true to the Chaos Brothers ethic but there you go. They did another acoustic gig at the Vic on August 19th 2011 with the addition of Rich Chaos (from Nobody's Heroes) on double bass.
Waiting For Oblivion
In November 2009 the Stormclouds were revived by Steve when he asked Heather Carmen and Oliver St John to join the band. They agreed and began working on new material. Their first recording was a re-working of To Sleep, Perchance to Dream. Strangely enough, Heather also began singing in Childe Roland at this time. Steve wrote some new songs and Childe Roland began to perform some of them with Heather on vocals as well as playing older Stormclouds material such as White Horse. Two new songs were recorded, Twilight Eyes and I Hear Bells. Steve had also written Waiting For Oblivion which Childe Roland began to play at every gig. In April 2011 the couple moved to St Ives and straight away began playing gigs there, performing Oblivion in their set. They were offered a slot on a CD of local bands and were asked to record Oblivion. The first Steve heard of this was when they’d actually recorded it – a bit miffed that he hadn't been asked beforehand and also a bit miffed that the video of the band recording it didn’t include a songwriting credit. He made a comment on Facebook. The video was pulled and the song pulled from the CD. Heather and Oliver were annoyed that Steve showed a lack of trust, Steve was annoyed that they’d seemingly hijacked his Stormclouds song for Childe Roland and were being vague about its origins. This incarnation of Stormclouds proved to be short-lived, leaving a legacy of three recordings as Stormclouds and a couple of version of Waiting For Oblivion by Childe Roland.
Heading For A Brainstorm
Steve is currently working on new Stormclouds and Doctor’s Pond material. He’s also started a couple of new recording projects. One is with his old mucker Jerry Johnson. Together they will be recording material for a proposed album of space-rock material featuring songs by the pair of them both old and new. Steve is also working on material with his son Matt Woodward (who is also contributing to the Jerry Johnson project) . Both bands are as yet unnamed