British Sea Power- most eccentric merchandise award winners!

British Sea Power – most eccentric merchandise award winners

British Sea Power online shop

Reading the article on band merchandise, I reckon there’s definitely call for a follow-up – because the list, great though it is, is missing the astonishing work of one band. BRITISH SEA POWER have, over the years,, as well as ensuring nobody goes without, courtesy of regular sidelines of free official collectables. Meanwhile for those with more money than sense (and some of the people I know who bought this nonsense genuinely didn’t have that much money going spare) the band occasionally sell one-off T-shirts hand-painted by band members (main singer Yan’s usually involve characters having a piss, for some reason) or just flog off their old stuff car-boot-style from the merch table. The most memorable of these being guitarist Martin Noble’s “collection of vintage cheese labels” – and yes, someone bought it.

Personally I don’t think I have ever liked a band in such a way as to want their old cheese labels (it’s basically one step away from going through their bins, isn’t it?) but I do have a little shelf between two rows of my CD collection containing various “objets” bought or in some cases just received from the band over the years. There are enough button badges in enough colors and designs to accessorise pretty much anything; a small collection of sew-on patches bearing words like “Avance!” and dates from the French Revolutionary Calendar; a stash of beautiful one-off flyers and postcards. There are the weird items that the Shopkeepers sometimes include when posting out T-shirts and records – a bag of seeds (heavens only knows what sort of seeds, if I had a garden I might have had something pretty in it by now) and (also little use for someone who lives in a fifth-floor city centre flat, but it’s the thought that counts) a vial of Butterfly Attractant. These, meanwhile, are all standard items which are or have been readily available, and many of them reside on my aforementioned shelf…

10. Mugs (2003 onwards) and tea (2011). Yes, every band does mugs these days, but these are great: there’s one with tie-in artwork released alongside each album, plus a couple of special editions – including one which is heat-sensitive such that the pictures change when you put a hot drink in it. Yes, Coldplay, it makes yours look as boring as you music. Oh, and British Sea Power have also latterly considered the mug’s contents, and recent gigs have seen boxes of their own-brand teabags on sale.

9. Temporary Tattoos (2008). Depicting various details from the band’s artwork over the years. I have no need for such things as I have a real one. Although I’m pretty sure I bought some anyway, just for souvenir purposes. Probably stuffed in a record sleeve somewhere.

8. Beermats (various editions, 2006 onwards) – Free, and plentiful at various gigs. In case you spill your official BSP beverages from your mug, I suppose.

7. Kendal Mint Cake (2003). Ah, the legendary confection of the first album tour. Given away free at the merch stand, you didn’t even have to buy anything else, just ask for it. Still, some dates found them struggling to give the stuff away. Its traditional purpose of providing energy was pretty useful though for those of us travelling around going to as many of the gigs as possible in between holding down full-time jobs; I think it was actually my staple diet for a good week or two and very useful when we got lost somewhere over the Pennines about 2am after taking the “scenic route” home from Northampton. Was finding bits of it stuck to things in my car for weeks afterwards – and ate so much I couldn’t actually face going near the stuff for a good five years. Even now it makes me shudder a little.

6. “Cultural First Aid” sticking plaster kit (2008). I have absolutely no memory of acquiring this item which I found in my collection of British Sea Power related crap (the date given relates to the “Do You Like Rock Music?” album whose artwork it carries) – were these sold or freebies? When? Where? And indeed why? Disappointingly the plasters themselves are not logo-ed, but still…

5. Beer (2008 / 2010). So far there’s been a bitter and a lager. Don’t think the merch table has ever been as busy as the night they played in an unlicensed library…

4. Pencils (2005). Yep – just pencils, beautifully finished with just a neutral glaze over wood etched with the words “Exceeding The National Average”. Free as well. One night on that particular tour the band played a university venue in Glasgow and in attendance was a young BBC journalist (now found in the 6Music newsroom) Callum May, who had in his pocket some tools of his trade; one small and rather blunt pencil and one spiral-bound notebook. As we entered the building, Callum’s pencil was confiscated by the security staff on the grounds that “it could be used as a weapon”. Bewildering as we found this claim, we soon realised that if Callum wanted to actually get in to see the gig, he would have to surrender this dangerous item. How fortunate, then, that not ten feet away at the merch stand he was able to acquire three or four replacements; free of charge, twice as long, and sharpened to a much more potentially lethal point…

3. Clotted Cream Fudge (2010). Mmm, a massive box of it for a fiver with a nice picture postcard of the band on the front of the box. No, I didn’t buy this one. Still available from the band’s online shop, if you’re tempted…

2. Soap, set of four handmade (2006). Handmade by the (at the time) four band members, that is, the most deranged of which was Noble’s “Bouquet Garni Soup Soap”, although the other three weren’t far behind. Largely known for having mostly disintegrated into a squidgy oily mess and ruined other merchandise or items kept nearby, I seem to have been lucky and unusual among purchasers to still have a full set intact, although I’m actually a bit scared of what might be inside those wrappers.

…and the most ridiculous merchandise item award goes to…

1. “BRILLIANTINE”. Circa 2005 (I think). What even is this stuff? It looks like slightly blue-green Vaseline. It smells faintly of citrus. It says something about giving you “lustrous hair” but would probably also work on that squeaky door-hinge. “This product doubles up as a wonderful lip balm, moisturiser and is great at preventing wetsuit chaffing around the neck when sea swimming. Let us know if you find further uses”, apparently – and it’s also good to know that “This product is not tested on animals. Just members of British Sea Power.”

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Cath Aubergine grew up in Cheshire near a chemical factory which sometimes turned the river orange; this may or may not have had lasting effects. It was however usefully close to Manchester where she published her first fanzine “Bobstonkin\' Aubergines” with a school friend in 1989. After spending most of the 90s trying to grow up, she admitted defeat in 2001 and started going to too many gigs instead. Cath started writing about music again for in 2003, and now co-manages the site as well helping out with local bands, campaigning against pay-to-play promoters and holding down a proper job to fund her excessive music habits. Cath is obsessed with ten inch vinyl and aspires to have one day stayed at every Travelodge in Britain apart from the shit ones on motorway junctions.



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