On the face of it, So This Is Goodbye by Ben Goulder of Snöar Press is a book about a particular tour that Sheffield bands Nai Harvest and Best Friends embarked upon a couple of years back. Birthed within a large and fairly fluid group of friends who, for the most part, met through studying in the steel city, both bands played a significant part in the cities music scene. Today, while nearly all members of either band still contribute to what’s happening in Sheffield in some form, Nai Harvest are no more and Best Friends have been quiet for some time, making the release of So This Is Goodbye an interesting and intimate look back into the not-so-distant past.
For bands like Nai Harvest and Best Friends, playing with friends, collaborating with like-minded individuals and making things happen with people who would eventually become friends was–and still is–of high importance, which I think says a lot about the music scene at the time and the creative community within the city of Sheffield.
It’s kind of how this tour–and this book– came about. All images for this release were shot and curated by Ben Goulder, a Sheffield native who went along on tour for the ride, who is co-releasing So This Is Goodbye through his art book imprint Snöar Press alongside fellow independent publishers Meanwhile Press.
The book offers a candid insight into the tour and a brotherly connection between the bands and our wider circle of friends during that strange stage of growing up after university where I don’t think anyone quite knows what they’re supposed to be doing. While all of the 35mm shots were taken on tour, So This Is Goodbye isn’t necessarily about music, more about the other 22 or so hours when Nai Harvest and Best Friends weren’t playing sets. Filled with Big smiles, in-jokes and empty cans, the book kind of sums up why you start playing music in the first place; to have fun with your friends.
Ahead of the book’s release at the L.A. Art Book Fair, that’s taking place between the 23-26 February, I caught up with my old pal Ben Goulder to chat about the book, the bands and what it all means when he looks back at things today.
OD: Can you start off by telling me a little bit about the book.
BG: So, the book is mainly, well actually it’s only, pictures from when I went on tour with Nai Harvest and Best Friends. I was supposed to do a zine as soon as that tour finished of those photos, but then certain events lead up to me not really wanting to do that haha. Then I was looking through all of the pictures in October-ish… and I was like, I might as well do something with it. So I photocopied the pictures loads and scanned them just so they’re kind of distorted.
OD: And you’re releasing it in L.A.?
BG: Yeah so it officially launches on Saturday on the second day of the fair (L.A. Art Book Fair) which is like the ‘big’ day where there will be other launches and stuff. The fair is on from Friday to Sunday and I’m buzzing for it, it’s going to be so sick.
OD: What makes that tour in particular worth a book?
BG: I think, for me, it represents a time that just doesn’t exist now. It’s just pictures of all my friends from Sheffield, and now pretty much none of us live in Sheffield, we don’t really hang out anymore because we don’t live in the same city. Everyone’s got new stuff going now too – Nai Harvest aren’t a band, Ed (Best Friends) is busy doing Delicious Clam stuff now, Sharman (Best Friends) has got a new band, Roper (Best Friends) has got a new band, so… no one is in the same place, no one is doing the same thing.
OD: Is there one picture from the book that stands out for you as like, representative of that time?
BG: I think one that I always think is funny is one from Brighton where everyone is just drinking Dragon Soop haha. It sort of just is that time, really. You know, we’d go to Dev Green, drink Dragon Soop…
OD: How would you explain Sheffield and this tour to someone who doesn’t know the backstory of the bands and the people?
BG: It’s going to be different now, but it’s like a city–and scene–which has a very strong, I guess, DIY ethic, so people would just do their own shit. There was always parties in strange places and stuff like that. I guess, because–it’s what everyone says but–because of the industrial heritage, there’s lots of shitty, abandoned buildings and lots of space to actually make things there. Which is sick, like you couldn’t do that in London. For me, that time was just a bit of a mad one I think.
OD: It definitely seems the scene as we know it has changed, but when I went back to Sheffield recently, there is still loads of stuff, just not that stuff.
Yeah, it might not be our friends doing it. There’s still like The Lughole and stuff, which I think is like the best punk place… in the world ever, it’s so sick.
OD: Do you think the end of them bands is a sign of growing up but not wanting to?
BG: Maybe… I think everything has a timeframe. Things have to pass and progress, and all that type of shit. It’s a good thing we’re not all just doing the things we were doing four years ago.
OD: From times of playing in bands and being around bands in Sheffield, can you recall some memorable times from that uni/ post uni period this book kind of documents?
BG: I think stuff at Cowlishaw Road was always the one really, always the best time.
I remember one time when there was a gig on, and Behan wouldn’t come out of his room. But obviously, his room looked onto the back garden. I went outside and he had his curtains wide open, and he was just sat on his bed meditating, haha.
You can pick up So This Is Goodbye from the Meanwhile Press website or if you happen to be in L.A., from Ben himself at the Snöar Press table of the L.A. Art Book Fair.