Generation – Steve Lamacq BBC 6 Music ‘Single of the Week’

Steve Lamacq has made Generation his Single of the Week, and will be playing the track each day on his BBC 6Music show. You can order now from the Optional Wallace shop. Steve also wrote the following about the song in his online blog:


4 November 2011 by Steve Lamacq

We don’t get in to watch ZULU WINTER. Instead I stand like a sap outside the door of an apparently rammed Camp Basement, until one of the security men starts getting fussy about his pavement and moves us on.

Across the road in the pub, where Arsenal are delicately wandering to a draw on at least three TV screens, we speculate on whether this will guarantee ZW inclusion in this year’s BBC Sound Of…Poll.

Has this upped the ante? Or are they, even now, blowing it big style in front of the east end guestlist massive? I hope not.

The more I listen to this Zulu Winter single the more I like it. Both sides. There is a gentleness of touch at work here, beneath the swooning vocals. ‘Let’s Go Back To Front’ is really sly; it’s sleek and effortless, but has a real drive to it, while ‘Never Leave’ is coyly ‘80s, almost Japan-like musically, with a ghostly David Sylvian-style presence.

Not even the realisation that they have form (they were once The Molotovs, who had a feisty mini-LP released by Fierce Panda) can dull the anticipation of what’s to come.

And that’s rare these days, as I’m sure the Pollsters will be thinking (actually they’re probably not, they’re too busy agonising over where the consensus of cool currently resides). There were more than 150 tipsters contributing to last year’s Sound Of… survey and the larger it gets the lower its common denominator becomes.

The operation is now so big that the voting forms were sent out a fortnight ago – amid mutterings from some quarters of the industry that it is becoming a curse (as a reminder the Top 5 from last year were: Jessie J, James Blake, The Vaccines, Jamie Woon and Claire McGuire).

Given the current state of play, I imagine this year’s list will be full of pop again (surrounded by a couple of female singers, a tortuous blog sensation and a cursory guitar band….and where’s the fun it that?).

Given half a chance I’d force anyone taking part this year to listen to the new OPTIONALWALLACE single before they go about buggering up music for another three months.

‘Generation’ is the song that says out loud, what a lot of people are thinking about pop these days. It doesn’t care. It stands on a table and berates its audience. It is almost embarrassingly trad-rock (or at least post Britpop) and thus – in these days of keyboard frippery – sounds brilliant.

It is old school but angry; cheaply poetic and agitated.

Listen to it.

And when they get to the lines “no revolution, no cause to fight, so just give up and let this slide/so plagiarise ‘cos after all, all that’s said has been said before,” turn on Radio 1 and shout out loud at it: THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

I thank you.

Posted in Press | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Evening News Feature: Just Busk it at The Garratt

Feature by Manchester Evening News‘ Paul Taylor on BUSK – the monthly acoustic night hosted by Optional Wallace.


THERE is only one rule for the have-a-go musicians who take the stage at Manchester’s Busk night… play something familiar.

It’s a common sense ethic which has sustained the monthly event for almost two years at the Garratt pub, in Princess Street, Manchester.

Organisers Danny Foster and Neil Meehan, of local band Optional Wallace – formerly known as Groucho – wanted to do something which gave a different twist to the usual acoustic night, and took inspiration from Foster’s travels around Europe with a guitar.

“We play a lot of other open mic nights and there are some really intimate ones which are great, where people are listening to every word intently,” says Meehan, aged 23, from Withington.

“The crowd sit and listen and are not allowed to talk. We wanted the total opposite, where people could get up and sing along and join in.”

Entry is free, no-one gets paid for performing, and sets are restricted to three songs a piece, with an emphasis on covers – songs the crowd will know off by heart.

The performers may not necessarily have had experience of singing for their suppers on the streets of Manchester, but they are nevertheless celebrating the art of busking.


“A lot of people do seem precious about their own songs – which is fine, and we are exactly the same about our songs – you put all your time and effort into it,” says Meehan, who still holds down a day job in a call centre.

“But the way we see it is that music is entertainment for people, and playing covers is what entertains the crowd a lot of the time, especially at this sort of venue.”

Song selections often draw from the songbooks of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Smiths and Oasis, though no-one has yet deployed that buskers’ fave Wonderwall yet. But variety is the spice of life.

“We have an act who have been coming down recently which is just a guy and a girl with a backing track on a minidisc player, and they sing along Mark E Smith style. They did a cover of Madonna – I think it was Like A Virgin – which was really great. Totally different,” says Meehan.

“We’ve had another guy who comes along with just a mouth organ and stamps his foot. We have had folk acts down, people with violins and double basses, and we encourage variety, but mostly it’s singer-songwriters with a guitar.


“We’ve also had people who have had a few too many drinks and just want to get up and play, and they don’t look like they are going to add anything to the night but noise.”

ONE graduate of the Busk night is Liam Frost, a Mancunian singer-songwriter touted to follow Badly Drawn Boy and Stephen Fretwell to acclaim.

Despite his devotion to Busk, Meehan is not enormously impressed with some of the buskers he has seen so far on the streets of Manchester.

“I like to hear buskers in the Underground in London,” he says. “You can hear a flute playing from miles away. The people who play there always seem to fit the mood of the Underground, with the trains in the background.”

Busk is held at The Garratt, 127 Princess Street, Manchester, on the final Wednesday of every month. Last year’s Best of Busk CD raised over é300 for the Tsunami appeal, and this year, a CD of the Busk “family” greatest hits is being sold at the venue to raise money for the British Epilepsy Foundation.

Posted in Press | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment