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Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom | SELF

Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Alternative Avant-garde


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Back From The Bins Review"

Stomping rhythms, distorted Waits-ian vocals, layer upon layer of noises, and an oddly melodic bent - once can easily see how these parts could be an unholy mess in the wrong hands, but Guessmen display the skills to pull it off.

By varying the tempos and sound sources (some Delta-styke horns here, some clattering kitchen-sink percussion there, some spare scree over in the left channel), the trio keep things from getting predictable while simultaneously deploying the secret pop hooks that may just be key to their whole sound.

Nothing is ever the same way twice, but Back From The Bins still manages to hang together with enough identifiable cohesion to keep things from being on the wrong side of random.

Near trick, that - it should be interesting to see if the can keep it up, or if they eventually settle into one direction and stick with it.

For the time being, however, Back From The Bins is chock-full of more than enought moments to prick up your ears.

Todd Hutlock - ROCK-A-ROLLA Magazine, Dec 07

"Back From The Bins Album Review"

The Guessmen are back with their second LP, Back From The Bins and upon hearing the album you’ll understand that the Newcastle, via Liverpool and Nottingham trio have really come back from the bins and taken everything they could find in it to produce a record littered with spectacularly assorted arty sounds.

The psychedelic synth sounds skilfully and intelligently pop, prick and buzz in a whirled and foggy mist of organs, trumpets, distorted guitars and vocals. However, unlike most electro-pop records, there has been great care taken in creating these odd sounds that provide the record’s ambience. Guessmen, despite only being a three-piece, use several instruments – Chinese Mandolin, Saxophone, Violin and a number of synthesizers to name just a few – and they have done very well not to make the record sound too cluttered.

There is a very obvious Captain Beefheart influence and it’s most clear when singer, Alan Edge – who sounds like a mix between a crazed crooner and Don Van Vliet – sings the incredibly psychedelic and imaginative lines of Black Balloons:

Pitbulls and poodles go toe to toe/EE’s coming with no known known’s/Rabbit got punched by an escalator/Lead balloons are fully blown.

Edge is a very charismatic frontman and it’s in his voice that the songs take their shape. Layered on top of mainly blues bass lines, it is difficult to classify Back From The Bins as a pop record. However, there is a typically pop method in the song writing that, for all the wild vocals and psychedelic lyrics, makes many of the songs easily accessible.

From the chilled out melodies of Warning and Weeping Willow to the heavy blues-inspired opener Animal Man Robot and the rather eerie love song, My Sugar – which sounds like a soundtrack for a seedy Gotham City alleyway rather than one for skipping and holding hands in the park – Guessmen have produced a wonderful mix of songs that effortlessly work together.

Whilst they do things differently from most electro-pop artists, there are very few songs that might frighten off casual pop listeners. Nonetheless, there is a whole lot of electro-psychedelic and jazz infused madness that give substance to the pop hooks and riffs that makes this record instantaneously catchy.

Jafar Hassan -

"Novocastrian Mystery Tour"

Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Novocastrian Mystery Tour

The more observant among you might recall my recent nervous disposition at the lack of NEW! and EXCITING! music I’d been coming across lately, that was happily assuaged by Teeth Mountain and their regimented lunacy. The truly intuitive among you might have picked up the undertone of desperation that showed through the cracks in my cheery demeanour – for I will only be satisfied for so long.

How pleasing for all involved then, that mere hours after that post went up the Guessmen should appear with a claim that they were just what was needed to help me make it though the cold, cold nights. ‘Very bold’ thought I, with the merest hint of colour rising to my cheek.

Now, I’m always happy when people get in touch to suggest we might want to feature their music - it’s the best thing about this entire malarkey probably - but alas it doesn’t always work out as we might hope. In our youth we might have been a little less choosey, a little more free with our affections, but experience has shown us it’s not always so simple, and so we pick our targets a little more carefully these days. Well, most of us anyway.

So – my blush of anticipation was tempered with the trepidation of past disappointment as I looked them up to see exactly what is was that they were offering - as it turns out, pretty much everything.

Their myspace has some full tracks from new album Back From The Bins, which they were kind enough to send me a copy of - at first, you might presume they’re a bunch of Beefheart-inspired-blues-filth-synth merchants, due to the bellowing fuzz of lead track Animal Man Robot and second track Troglodyte.

Once into the album though, about halfway through they start veering all over the place - Warning and it’s building, almost Aphexish ambient-twitch signals the start of a free for all.

A couple of nicely messy interludes could have probably progressed beyond their 90 seconds - but when they do push one a bit further, on future single Black Balloons, it gets scrubbed clean by a shiny 4:4 beat, and it loses a bit of it’s original intent. Towards the end, a couple of slower songs wander into view, one of which keeps making me thinking of a Faithless track, leaving me feeling a bit soiled.

For me, it’s when they bring on the dirt and noise and do something unexpected that they’re at their best, and fortunately that’s the random ground where most of the album sits.

They play in their homeland of Newcastle a fair bit (at The Cumberland Arms on the 20th of January and Newcastle University on the 9th of February), but for those of you elsewhere who want to be taken on the Guessmen mystery tour, you can pick up Back From The Bins from here when it comes out on the 28th of January.

Tiny Dancer


"Crack Magazine Interview"

The Newcastle-based band return with their outstanding new album, Back From The Bins, this month. Robert Meddes recently caught up with the band (John Ayres, Tommy Anderson and Alan Edge) to find out what cooks their goose.


Describe your sound to someone who's never heard your stuff before.
J: All the music you have ever loved spliced together in one malfunctioning genetic bass monster.
T: People say it’s impossible to produce genuinely original music now, well I’ve got a whole bunch of records and haven’t heard owt like us! We’re always trying to implement mad ideas within a rich tapestry of sound whilst still nailing the groove; that’s what we strive for, we’re certainly not one of those rip-off, sound-a-like dirge band that think they’re the Clash or Talking Heads, foolishly chanting their way through some lame jangly Karaoke drone that seems to be dominating the hit parade these days.

Would you describe your music as being accessible?
J: Yes. It is pure pop music. Compared to some of the stuff I've been working on (Fan Eater, My Little Pop Group) it’s easy listening, but if you have been living on a diet of saccharine stuffed Cowell-pop, the roughage might be a but much to start with. But it's definitely good for you.
T: If you’ve got ears you’ll love it… in fact it’s kind of like having a coin magically produced from behind your ear by a cheeky uncle for the first time… bafflement, then excitement, then laughter, and wanting more. It’s interesting without being too chin-strokey, and mad without being wacky.

You seem to baffle and beguile in equal measure. Do you agree with that?
J: There was a great instance at a festival when Alan's brother overheard someone in the crowd say that he didn't understand what was going on – his head said it sounded all wrong, but he couldn't stop his body from moving. This seems to happen quite a lot.

Your debut album, Animals in Suits, was voted album of the year by Coldcut. What did that feel like?
J: Coldcut are musicians that we all really respect, we met them at the Diesel U Music awards and got on with them having a really techy natter about software. Their other favourite records were by the Notwist, Cinematic Orchestra and best of all Pitman. It’s great to be mentioned in the same breath as these well-established artists with our debut.
T: It’s always good to receive positive feedback about what we do, and to hear it from those boys, the fact that they ‘got it’, was a real boost for us back then.

Your lyrical concerns take in all manner of topics. How do they come about?
A: The lyrics are born out of observations, daydreams, memories and wishful thinking, I'm a sucker for environments and atmospheres. I love how one word can say many things due to the expression behind it. I always keep a semi-ambiguous nature to songs so listeners can interpret meanings for themselves. I see them as little pockets escapism.

Would you describe BFTB as being a darker album than AIS?
J: Back From The Bins was developed and recorded over a longer timescale than AIS. We went through all manner of personal ups and downs and some of that might come out in the music - we certainly use music as a form of primal scream therapy. But the Guessmen sense of humour offsets any darkness. We're certainly no whiny Emo band. Although the album goes through a huge range of emotions, there is definitely optimism all the way through.
T: There’s a lot of mood and raw emotion in there, and perhaps if isolated some of the tracks could present quite a brooding image, but in context of the album everything takes on a completeness reflecting the good and bad, the ecstasy and despair, the mundane and surreal of human nature and the world around us.

You've collaborated with everyone from visual artists to comedy acts in the past - how did they go down?
J: We've had some really successful collaborations with comedy group Bellyrub, with performances at Northern Stage and the release of a CD. I'm really proud of the sound design work we did for The Brain (a short film based on Frankenstein by animator John Chadwick). It was ridiculously detailed and hard work, but our sound works really well with that style of animation. What other job lets you gaffer tape a cushion round your friend's head and then clobber him to make noises?

What are your aims? Is there a Guessmen manifesto?
J: Ummm. We've not got a manifesto as such - not like Matthew Herbert's Personal Contract for the Creation of Music, or the Futurists - but we try to keep doing new things. We try to challenge ourselves to make music with whatever is to hand. Allow creative accidents to happen and don’t put off recording just because we aren’t in the best studio environment - the background noises are just as important as the foreground.
T: I’d say taking our music to the next stage, to a wider audience is the aim now. We’re planning a UK tour for Spring/Summer 2008, and have plenty of tracks on the back burner that are currently filtering through the bedrock to produce pure essence of Guessmen.

Back From The Bins is released on January 28. More info:

- The Crack Magazine

"Coldcut's Records of the Year"

The Guessmen's extreme magpie mixture of found sounds was a strange brew indeed. It came on like John Cale meets Captain Beefheart with Joe Meek on the mix. I had the pleasure of watching this ultra-out-there three piece combo rinse out some heads at a media event in 2003. The joy of seeing these guys puzzle the assembled throng in to stunned silence was wonderful. Animals in Suits is a fine album that you'll continue to grow into, like a friendly pair of shoes, in our opinion.

Guessmen - Animals in Suits - UDB Magazine

"Spaceship 12"

To coin a phrase from an earlier TT release, this is a bit of a "tasty treat". Continuing the lineage of the left of centre 'pop' offerings that the 'Touch Tones' series has thrown up, Guessmen make their mark with a worthwhile ramshakle blend of electro blues and fuzzy junk yard funk. The joy to be found here is on the flip with the irrepressible 'Animals In Suits'. To drop lines like "I don't wear wellies when I'm in the jungle 'cos I'm an animal in suits", in some kind of ode to Beefheart and Dr John has got to be worth five minutes of anyone's time.

4 Stars

(FS) - DJ Magazine

"Hobo Disco EP"

There’s smoke in the air and beer by the laptops as Guessmen combine heavy stamping of the feet, cheap digital damage overload and much growling.

At just under eleven and a half minutes long this four-track release covers an area of musical no man’s land with both abandon and reflection in equal amounts. Where Guessmen’s musical soundclash instantly aurally succeeds while others flounder through musical patchworks is the fact that the messy bang and stutter sounds so animated and exciting.

There’s real skill and attention to detail in making the constantly scattering particles of “Average Fish”s glitchy stomping analogueness sound like the anthem of the most coherent drunk man to ever threaten a yard of ale. With more than enough remarkable debris in the background to thoroughly mangle a less solid tune there’s a coherent electronic junkyard aesthetic to much of the band’s repertoire that’s occasionally softened by more conventional but refreshing instrumentation like the clarinet.

Even though they ably prove that they bang like the highest heeled unshaven Warp signed glam band ever they’re wise enough to also advertise their more thoughtful side. The sequencing of the melancholic alcohol tinged regret-filled closer “Human Being Kind” brings the band a more mature perspective leaving the EP with the tinkling of the milkman’s delivery on the ‘morning after’. Its softer electronic musical droplets (tears?) and rain on grass FX give a sensible flipside to the megaphone barked freak show tales and after “Troglodyte”s asthmatic skank has battered the brain with its tree trunk arms it’s a welcome relief.

Scott Mckeating November 2005 -

"Narc Interview - If only they had tight trousers, you'd all fucking love them..."

I definitely went a bit mental when I was tour-man-aging Shitdisco last year. It wasn't the seven-in-one-room sleeping arrangements or the shitty, freezing carpet-cleaner's van we were travelling in that tipped me over the edge... it was the local support bands what done it in the end. I mean, imagine you're a promoter in a big city like Liverpool, and you're putting on this group playing high energy, wobbly rave-punk. Out of all the thousands of bands in the city you could choose from, you decide that the perfect supports for Shitdisco would be, firstly, an MOR rock band fronted by a Val Kilmer look-alike in a vest, playing an acoustic and muttering some shite about "the gallows pole calling me".

Then, follow that with a schoolboy funk-band heavily indebted to Level 42, with a bumptious singer who's just begging to be slapped with a claw hammer. And don't even get me started on the support band in Stoke, glam-rock hippies of the shitest order.
Two days later, I found out that they're called Tiny Dancers and (deep breath) they're signed to fucking Parlophone. The fact that silly old men in suits will be throwing big bucks at this squad of gimps in 2007 properly messes with my head, I'm telling you.

The last gig of the tour was at The Cluny. Some clever shite had the bright idea of getting Guessmen to play as well, and they totally fucking stormed it. Band of the tour, no contest. A few weeks later they came up with a dark, sinister remix of Shitdisco's Reactor Party single that gave me nightmares about a big gang of babies jamming with rattles and maracas in a busy train depot.

If you haven't seen or heard Guessmen before, here's a quick lesson. Distorted beats, fat bass-notes rumbling your guts, blasts of trumpet and bassoon, songs about mermaids and all-day breakfasts and one of the bestest frontmen that you'll ever see. Imagine a down-on-his-luck circus ringmaster who has been to the darkest places and still come back grinning and growling in a slightly un-nerving man-ner. Alan Edge AKA Edgeman AKA Alien Hedge (alright, I made that last one up) is the mad sounds of Guessmen made flesh.

If you'd prefer a more concise description, Darren from Shitdisco likens them to "a fun Underworld", and for once, I can't argue with the hairy lad. Beef-heart, Zappa and Tom Waits are definite influences as well, but it never becomes a tribute or a pastiche; they always sound indefinably Guessmen-like. You, the people, may have heard a lot about Guessmen back in 2003, when they won a Diesel U-music award. Other people who have won these include Mylo, Tom Vek and DJ Yoda and they are good things to win. They freaked the hell out of Isaac Hayes when they played live at the awards ceremony, causing him to rightly observe " you guys got some crazy shit!"

After they'd released their debut album, Animals In Suits, I for one felt certain that Edge and co. would soon be wiping their arses on swans' necks and mix-ing with the beautiful people, or whatever it is that you do when you're signed to one of them multi-national conglomerate major labels. Alas, it was not to be. Or rather, it has not yet come to pass. The fact that bands like Tiny bastard Dancers are getting a regular wage without having to say "do you want fries with that?" while the likes of Guessmen remain unsigned is a sorry state of affairs. Not that Edge is over-arsed, particularly. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't happen, he reasons. "Our time will come, there's no doubt", Edge prophesises, "We're constantly moving on and we'll keep on doing our own thing forever. We're not some fashionable haircut band, we're evolving organically."

I went to interview Mr Edge at Guessmen's lovably squalid studio-cum-rehearsal rooms in a secret location in that bit of town that the council invented not so long ago, the Ouseburn Valley. It turned into a proper comedy of errors, with me forgetting to tape the first attempt, then inadvertently wiping everything off the machine after we'd done the interview again. Cheers to Edge-man for not losing the plot when I texted to ask if we could go over the same old bollocks for a third time.

"So, Edgeman," I kept on saying, "Tell me all about your forthcoming album, the splendidly titled Back From The Bins." "Well, Ettrick," he replied, each time, "This is a big fat new album. We're getting more into the synthetic-stroke-organic sounds onstage now, as well. Getting more instruments in, stuff like pocket trumpets and bassoons, and a drum-kit made from bins and beer kegs and other bits of junk." (How Guessmen plan to fit more instruments on stage is anyone's guess, man. There's only three of them, but there's loads going on already. John plays synths, clarinet, guitars, programmes stuff and sings, Edgeman sings and plays trumpet, trombone, flute and harmonica, and Tommy does the percussion, more synths, sound processing and waxa turntable skills.)

"Sounds splendid, Edgeman," I said, thrice over, "Now tell me, is there anything else occurring in the world of Guessmen that we should know about?" "I'm glad you asked, Ettrick. We've started a new record label called Co-lab, planning all kinds of collaborations with different artists and producers, all sorts of different art forms and backgrounds. If anyone wants to get on board, get involved, get up and get into it, then the website address is

"We're also doing some work with Belly Rub comedy crew, we'll be performing with them at Northern Stage and some other places. It's live, surreal sketch shows interlaced with Guessmen effects and music performances. "In addition to all that, we'll be doing a full tour soon. We're also organising the Tripswitch events at the Cumberland, and there'll be more Hobo Disco's coming, too. Keep checking the website, keep watching the skies."

Guessmen. Tests conclusively prove that they're better than 99% of the crap that The Man keeps on sticking to The Kids. If only they had tight trousers, you'd all fucking love them...

Ettrick Scott

Narc Magzine, Febraury 2007 - Narc Magazine

"Plan B - Gig review"

Guessmen are Tynesides demons of skeewhiff beat-butchery. With two engineers transplanted behind a misfiring arsenal of creeping gadgets, and lead yelper Alan Edge pushed out before them, they conjure up an unholy riot of sight and sound. This is a mishmash of electronica, doo wap and jazz jostling for air in a bubble that threatens to splatter. Somehow, Guessmen merge Aphex-mangled mechanics, Herbet-like saxophone swells and Beefheart-y word weirdness into a storm that goes bump, blip and bang on the night.

They are fronted by an insane druid who barks tales of spaceships and animals in suits, lapping up the bewildered catcalls from the crowd while smugly wrapped up in his trademark top hat and straggly tales. Together, Guessmen don't so much perform as play act, slamming their buttons so hard that you can almost feel the walls tightening their hold around you.

The Guessmen

The Cluny, Newcastle

Ian Fletcher, Plan B Magazine, September 2005. - Plan B Magazine

"Like a homicidal Hot Chip, The Guessmen will fuck you up!"

Electro oddness from Jordi land…

The Guessmen! Who are they you ask. They are a bunch of electro jazz busters from the far stretches of Newcastle. Sounding somewhere between the messed up jazz of Mr Bungle, the noisey punk of No Means No, and a more disturbing Peeping Tom this band clearly aim to unsettle you with their brand of weirdo electro. Song titles like Animal Man Robot, Orangutango, and Average Fish aren’t meant for stimulating your political conscience or plucking your heart strings. This is fun, disturbing and twisted fun. Clearly this could have come from the kinky comedy brain of Mike Patton.

The amount of instruments on this record boggles the mind, strange ones at that too; the Chinese Mandolin, The Boing? (Whether that’s made up or not I don’t know), Drone Cone, The Bassoon, they’re all out on show. The music is all about atmosphere, and aside from the tongue in cheek nature of most of it, the music is pretty drilling. A highly cinematic backdrop makes the vocals sound all the more menacing on Black Balloons, the dark synths and beats working up into a banging electro tune. The fact that the weird atmospheres make this a quietly odd record makes it all the more sweet when a banging tune hits. But they are few and far between. My Sugar could find itself in the club. Thick bassline, nasty vocals, it’s made for the dancefloor.

If you like your music odd, you will appreciate this record. BFTB is slightly traumatic at times, but that is what makes it great. Music is a psychological experience. It SHOULD be fun, strange, dark and malevolent. Like a homicidal Hot Chip, The Guessmen will fuck you up! On the dancefloor! Aeow!

By: Marc Higgins -


Animals in Suits 12 Track CD Album (GM)

Spaceship 12" (Tummy Touch)
Touch Tones Vol. 2 CD Compilation (Tummy Touch)
No Thunder No Rain, No Rain, No Sun CDR EP (GM)
Diesel U Music CD Compilation (Stefano Checchi Records)

The Brain Original Film Soundtrack
Hobo Disco EP CD (GM)
Rude Girl: A Collection of Music For Drunks CD Compilation (Tummy Touch)

Apple Crush Original Film Soundtrack.
Monkey Do Bad Things CD collaboration with BellyRub Comedy (Co.Lab)

Never Leaves EP The Spanner and Edgeman with remix by Guessmen (Testin Out Records)
Touch Tones Vol. 3 CD Compilation (Tummy Touch)
Back From The Bins CD/Vinyl Album (Co-Lab)

Black Balloons/Death By A Thousand Lashes Ltd. Ed. 7" (Co-Lab)

For remixes see



Pioneers of the contra-pop sound, this Geordie trio’s off-kilter beats and bizarre woodwind and laptop-derived sounds combine with dark tales of mermaids, animals and robots to create a free music that is still recognisable as pop - but only just…
So extreme is their magpie mix that it prompted Isaac Hayes to exclaim “Hey, you guys got some crazy shit!”

In winning the Diesel-U-Music award in 2003, a new category had to be invented to encompass their sound. They have since gone on to worry the genre purists with every song they construct. “Somehow, Guessmen merge Aphex-mangled mechanics, Herbert-like saxophone swells and Beefheart-y word weirdness into a storm that goes bump, blip and bang on the night” said PLAN B Magazine, “a worthwhile ramshakle blend of electro blues and fuzzy junk yard funk” said DJ magazine. “delightfully woozy” said BBC 6Music's Gideon Coe.

Hooking up with Tim ‘Love Lee’s, Tummy Touch label – home of Groove Armada and Tom Vek - , in 2003 saw the release of their debut 12” Spaceship and a number of tracks on the Touch Tones series and Rude Girl compilations. Their debut album, Animals In Suits, was voted album of the year by Coldcut in UDB magazine’s end of year round up. DJ Magazine summed up their releases as “a bit of a tasty treat” and gave them 4 stars.

Over the last 4 years they have been developing their sound from the unashamedly upbeat Spaceship to the darker edged hues of the new album They have been baffling and blasting audiences in various venues around the UK, supporting artists as diverse as Isaac Hayes, Jimmy Carl Black, Shitdisco, Coldcut, Field Music, Robots in Disguise, Heartbreak, Radioactive Man, Maximo Park, Tom Vek and Altern-8.

The Guessmen live show is a shock and awe display of huge bass, junk percussion and slick electronic manipulation. The songs warp and stretch beyond the limits of the recorded versions to a mind-melting wall of sound with the trio linked on a level of pure groove.

“They ably prove that they bang like the highest heeled unshaven Warp signed glam band ever” –

“If you haven't seen or heard Guessmen before, here's a quick lesson. Distorted beats, fat bass-notes rumbling your guts, blasts of trumpet and bassoon, songs about mermaids and all-day breakfasts and one of the bestest front men that you'll ever see.” Narc magazine

They have been played on radio around the world including a BBC 6Music session an interview with BBC Radio 3’s sorely missed Mixing It, and a number of plays on Resonance FM, Coldcut’s Solid Steel and East Village Radio in New York.

On top of their pop music activities, they are equally happy working in improvised and experimental music. They have been commissioned for sound art pieces by the Royal Institute of British Architects, collaborated with visual artists Paul Moss and Topsy Qu’ret, and produced two soundtrack commissions for the UK Film Council, an animated version of Frankenstein called The Brain and a short twisted love story called Apple Crush.

Guessmen are:
Alan Edge – Vocals, Brass, Junk Percussion
Tommy Anderson – Decks and FX, Drums, Synths, Programming
John Ayers – Synths, Programming, Guitars, Woodwind

Guessmen will be touring the UK in February and March.

Back From The Bins will be available nationwide from 28th January.
Available on CD, vinyl and download, Back From The Bins is available to pre-order now from Fans who pre-order the album will receive an exclusive CD of previously unheard Guessmen creations.

The limited edition 7” Black Balloons will be available 28th February