If you were part of the mid-2000s fertile indie scene you’ve most likely heard the politically charged indie-folk of The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s seminal debut LP was so wonderfully unique that it hit me like a ton of bricks when it was released back in 2006 – despite being only 11 years of age and with no interest in politics. It remains truly beautiful. This Independent Venue Week, the man behind the Get Cape, Wear Cape Fly name, Sam Duckworth – now performing under his Recreations guise – is embarking on a series of shows performing the album in it’s entirety.
“Independents are able to express the personality of the alternative community in towns better than anything else.”
This isn’t the first time the 2006 record has been played in full; to celebrate its 10th birthday, Sam put on two shows in his hometown of Southend, once at music venue Chinnerys and then again on Southend Pier.
“The shows were a lot of fun and a good chance to re-work and re-imagine things from the past. I think it was a good balance of nostalgia and being able to look at who we are now, ten years later.
“That balance, coupled with how much fun it was, meant that when John (Helps – promoter) ‘twisted’ my arm into the rolling on the 10 year celebrations, he didn’t have to twist too hard!”
The show is part of an annual celebration of independent venues; and will be the last of Firebug’s shows dedicated to it for 2017. Sam believes they shape the way that artists and fans think, and have a distinct personality that non-independents don’t possess.
“They are the pillars of counter culture in our towns. They are where the ‘weird’ folk go to hang out, discuss ideas, breed and make formative memories. They are the place where people find their favourite friend and favourite band on the same weekend. Independents are able to express the personality of the alternative community in towns better than anything else.”
The importance of independent venues is vital to new artists, but just as important to artists like Sam who want to speak out and interact with their audience.
“For an industry that loves wild risks, the music industry tends not to take risks on acts that exist outside of the status quo. It’s an odd situation and one that would fall apart without the independent sector.
“They allow me to be political and personal in an environment that allows both the audience and me to express ourselves.”
Playing a show in which an album is performed in its entirety could potentially leave fans feeling sentimental but not necessarily wowed. So how will Sam shake things up and keep us intrigued?
“Because we’re an 11 piece – two drums, bass, electric guitar, synth, violin, flute, sax, acoustic guitar and two horns – there’s a lot of room for instrumental sections to morph. As a result the album, albeit in sequence, should feel very different every night.
“The only song that has had a total revamp is Glasshouses, which has a lot more of a highlife feel now. 10 years on and with the current political climate, it feels important for this song to feel more triumphant than the slightly defeatist version on the LP.”
So why Leicester? The band have no links to the city, so why agree to this, other than for his love of independent venues?
“Leicester will always have a special place in my heart. It really feels like a bigger Southend to me. People work hard, they play hard and the artistic community does everything it can, for everyone it can. I love Firebug. It’s a great pub and a great venue, not many are both. My memories of Leicester are mostly focused there, but The Cookie is always a lovely place for a cuppa and a great venue to play.
“Sadly Blunts Hoes is no more, so I will have to do my Instagramming further afield.”
On January 29, Sam Duckworth will perform The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager in full at Firebug as part of Independent Venue Week.