PUNK ISSUE: JOANNA GRUESOME BABY STRANGE MISTY MILLER COMMUNIONS THE FAIRWEATHER BAND & MORE
DELINQUENT From various experiences I can say that it can be notoriously difficult to be 19 years of age and pursue an interest in punk. I suppose it would be better worded: I find it notoriously difficult to pursue an interest in punk and be only 19 years of age. It’s known to be met with a slightly condescending actual first-hand experience, an acknowledgement of my youthful ignorance. All I hear is this: Punk, for it’s short burst of a life, can never happen again. Can’t it? Does that even matter? The ever-growing sub-genre of post-punk regarding the ab-
stracts: art, music, fashion, ethic, can surely reassure any doubt as to whether punk stuck around past its peak from 1974-76. Although it’s perfectly evident that punk will never rise to said peak again in all it’s glorious, rebellious originality, how can nineties and noughties brats emulate such a significant period in a society that are yet to be genuinely shocked? Again, does that matter? The foundations of punk are still relevant to so many things today, the DIY ethic being the most obvious. Anybody can start a band. Anybody can start a blog.
Anybody can share an opinion, regardless of how controversial it may be, and for this, I believe that we delinquents, born decades later, can preserve the remaining dregs of the punk movement. Jean Pavitt Nineties delinquent
REVIEWS PAGE 16 FEATURING EAGULLS
CONTENT JOANNA GRUESOME 7 RIOT GRRRL: RELEVANT AND INFLUENTIAL IN 21ST CENTURY? 8 MISTY MILLER 10 COMMUNIONS 13 THE FAIRWEATHER BAND 14 REVIEWS 16 BABY STRANGE 18 JAKEâ€™S QUEST TO BE PUNK IN 2016 20 SPEEDY WUNDERGROUND 22 BONES 24 THE JUSTIFICATION OF SCREAMO 26 PUNK ROCK: A HISTORY 28
CONTRIBUTORS (as appeared) JEAN PAVITT OLIVIA MORGAN BEN SARGENT JAKE CROSSLAND WILL COOK (+ARTWORK) JIM CLEMOES ALFIE AL-SADOON TANITH PRICE (ARTWORK)
OTHER EDITED AND COMPILED BY JEAN PAVITT
Illustration by Will Cook Featured on page 26
GRUESOME A slight ripple occurred in the fearsome five that was Joanna Gruesome after the recent departure of front-woman, Alanna McArdle, recognised for the jolt between voicing soft, mellifluous melodies to riotous, almost indistinguishable vocals screaming down her microphone. Intentional or not, Joanna Gruesome wholly embraced the post-punk etiquette in their debut, Weird Sister, released almost this time in 2013 on Fortuna Pop! Tracks such as ‘Secret Surprise’ and ‘Graveyard’, brimful with rampant energy, are superbly placed, surrounding the band’s more delicate songs such as ‘Candy’ and ‘Satan’. This approach was mirrored in Jo Gru’s sophomore record Peanut Butter, where the instrumental takes more of a front seat; more
distortion, more distinguished guitar melodies, but still maintaining the audacious foundations of Joanna Gruesome. What would become of frontwoman-less Joanna Gruesome? Who could possibly emulate the brilliantly erratic nature of McArdle’s vocals? July 1st marked the first single since the newly fourpiece became six. ‘Pretty Fucking Sick (Of It All)’ features Roxy Brennan (also from Two White Cranes, Grubs, Towel) and Kate Stonestreet (of Pennycress), and from listening both live and on record, I can’t imagine anybody having more of a great time. Kate’s eruptive screams interrupt Roxy’s euphonic melodies, and together they’ve done an impeccable job of preserving the punk in Joanna Gruesome.
It can’t exactly go unacknowledged that Jo Gru can seem quite cryptic regarding live shows. Admittedly, I have probably nearly seen them perform more than I have actually seen them. Perhaps that’s why this band are particularly exciting to see live. That, and their notoriously riotous gigs. You’ll able to catch them at a handful of dates in September and October (including Rockaway Beach Festival and Nottingham Pop All-Dayer), and I highly, highly, recommend you do. Jean Pavitt
Riot Grrrl: Relevant and Influential in the 21st Century?
Due to social media giving everyone and anyone a platform to express something they deem important, it could be said that the current generation of young people have the opportunity to be more socially and politically aware than older generations. You only need to be connected to one form of social media to know that many young people are creating art and forming opinions on long standing social justice issues. Art has always been a useful and beautiful way to present images and ideas, but increasingly, it is clear that many emerging artists are taking on the topic of injustice, environmentalism, feminism and world issues. The Riot Grrrl movement, fronted by bands such Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and co, shaped and continues to shape how people view western feminism.
Riot Grrrl was initially seen as a movement in which women could express themselves in the same way men had been doing for years. However, it quickly developed into a subculture involving zines, art and political activism. Kathleen Hanna and Tobi Vail (Bikini Kill) created a ‘Riot Grrrl’ zine sharing punk and powerful points of view in the 90s. These have now become very highly sought after, since so few were available. The first zine addresses “the general lack of girl power in society as a whole, and in the punk underground specifically”. Zines and artwork are still being created sharing the same girl power that was evident in the days of feminist punk and they are more common than you think. In fact, in many states across the USA there are annual ‘feminist zinefests’ where eager young readers can gather. Of course, not all of us
live in the Riot Grrrl goldmine that is the USA, so you can also discover zines online such as ‘Zola’ who describe themselves as “anti-oppressive” in all senses, sharing empowering images and drawings of women from various backgrounds. Many feminist-inspired zines created today are sharing artwork depicting women, often created by young women, such as instagram artists @ filthyratbag, @frances_cannon and @pollynor. These simple digital pieces highlight complex issues that each artist believes to be important. A topic that is currently of interest in popular media is the tax on tampons, which has been debated and discussed for a while now. Many young artists are taking the issue into their own work in order to ‘normalise’ menstruation. After all, every woman experiences it. Photographer Rupi
Kaur has a series of images perfectly depicting the normality of menstruation. I spoke to artist Becca Anderson (@becanders0n) about the work she creates, which she quietly passed off as “just a quick doodle in order to experiment with new colouring software. It’s definitely not fully developed!” However, Becca said that even her doodles have been thought through with regards to message: “I was thinking of exploring ‘acceptable ways for women to sit after the recent attention brought to the social phenomenon that is ‘manspreading’”. “My main influences in art are the things that affect me on a day to day basis. These can
range from being catcalled in the street, seeing close friends fall apart due to rape…” and of course there are artistic influences from artists on social media such as Octoplum, Tuesday Bassen and Kaethe Butcher. Lots of recent art also explores female sexuality and sexualisation, a topic oh too often mentioned in Riot Grrrl songs, for example L7’s ‘Wargasm’ and ‘I Like Fucking’ by Bikini Kill; the intention being, again, to normalise women’s bodies and sexuality whilst confronting the inherent sexualisation surrounding them. This has developed in 2016 into the infamous ‘free the nipple’ movement, where women are trying to reclaim their bodies. Anderson’s art toys with images of relaxed women without tops reiterating
that women’s bodies are not just sexual but also everyday. However, Becca said that she’d like to “expand and develop [her] art in ways that express my feelings towards equality for all - ethnic minorities, LGBT people, those with disabilities, mental health issues, the list goes on!” Finally I asked Becca the all important question: IS RIOT GRRRL STILL RELEVANT??? “Absolutely! Any feminist movement will be relevant until the day men and women are entirely equal! That day gets closer and closer as more people become educated on things like the RIOT GRRRL movement, which I plan to integrate more fully into my art.” Olivia Morgan By Becca Anderson (via @becanders0n)
MISTY 2016 saw the arrival of grungy, anguish fuelled LP, The Whole Family is Worried. I was lucky enough to ask Miller a handful of questions about the future of punk, DIY and girl bands. Jean Pavitt: Growing up with parents in the music industry, did you find that the idea of ‘punk’ resonated much with you? Misty Miller: Punk has always been more of an ethos to me rather than a style or genre of music. My dad being a musician didn’t really affect me when it comes to that. It was more the people I started hanging out with when I left school. But I reckon my mum’s open and free attitude to the direction I went in musically (which was pretty punk around that time) helped. J: Would you identify yourself as ‘punk’ regarding sound or ethos etc? MM: Like I said before when it comes to my ethos, yes. But it seems nowadays everyone has their own idea of what ‘punk’ is
and to be honest I think a lot of people take it too seriously. J: It’s evident that you (rightfully!) care a lot about the representation of girls in the music industry. How do you feel about the future of female and female fronted bands? MM: I think it’s great that there are more girls fronting bands and more people accepting it and supporting them, but I do fear that there are some who are getting press or success or even just talked about purely because they are girls and the music itself isn’t actually that good. It defeats the point, in my opinion. I won’t name names but I can think of particular bands who are getting somewhere because they’re riding the wave of ‘girls playing music/feminism’ without actually having much talent. I still feel that there are plenty of talented women in music who aren’t getting their music heard or given the opportunity it deserves because they are not ‘cool’ or dressed right or part of a scene. It’s a shame that that is still present in the industry. Yes, there are more women in music, but I feel
that there is still a form it has to be in, even if that form is ‘DIY/punk/ feminism’. Something which came from a pure and very real punk place is already being conformed. J: Do you think that an audacious punk ethic will help girl bands thrive today? MM: I don’t think girl bands should need something like that to thrive. It kind of goes on from my point in my previous answer. But yes, being out spoken and having that ethic is healthy and good if it’s genuine. Girl bands shouldn’t have to be audacious to be heard and/ or respected. J: ‘The Whole Family is Worried’ was released on Relentless. How’s the collaboration? How does it differ from self-releasing? MM: I am not with that label any more. We parted ways after the release. In all honesty (and I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise) the relationship wasn’t great. They didn’t get the musician I was and the direction I wanted to go in, so it held me back a lot. I am
much happier now without a label and look forward to seeing what happens and where I end up in the future. J: Do you think that there’s a future for completely disciplined DIY bands with a growing number of independent labels? MM: There is already success from bands that are doing it themselves. The future is now! The internet came almost 20 years ago and that is when the reign of the major labels started to dissolve. Some independent labels are great, but I know of many bands doing just fine without anyone. Major labels still hold a function, but not for bands who have a genuine DIY/punk ethos. J: London must be chocker with independent venues,‘The Windmill’ being a favourite of yours. Were independent venues important to
you while you were starting out? MM: To be honest, I started out playing festivals and venues more accustomed to folk music (which I didn’t enjoy) so it wasn’t until I was around 17/18 and I was playing the much punkier and heavier stuff, with my mate Olivia on drums, that I entered South London’s scene of venues. The Windmill is one of them and is still my favourite venue and often just a favourite place to be. Recently I have seen a handful of new young bands start out there so it obviously still has that characteristic about it. J: Finally, could you possibly give us a handful of new bands we should be listening to? MM: Yeah, there are a lot of new bands at the moment, lots of kids! Dead Pretties, Shark Dentist, The Honey Hahs, Mummy... And my new venture, Bad Parents.
C OM MU N I ONS Post-punk four piece from Copenhagen, Denmark. Buy their EP’s ‘Communions’ and ‘Cobblestones’ and try to wait patiently for a rumoured forethcoming debut album. For fans of: Iceage, Eagulls, Joy Division, The Drums, Stone Roses, The Verve, The Jesus and Mary Chain. Photos by Lasse Dearman
It’s peculiar that in these early days of the Danish four-piece, during the extremely extensive and desperate wait for a debut album, Communions have managed to create a somewhat diverse sound for themselves. There’s the introduction of heavy, rhythmic drumming alongside very anthemic, melodic chanting in earliest EP Cobblestones, which is juxtaposed with the sunny nostalgia of the following EP So Long Sun / Love Stands Still. Their post-punk sound, is undoubtedly established in all their material, brimming with woozy melodies and jangly guitars. Assuredly purposeful in their postpunk sound, the Cobblestones EP was self-recorded, allowing that distinctively raw, live noise to oscillate in each track.
Copenhagen is a strange city to pin down for its punk scene. We know it’s there, and we all somehow admire it, but it exists enigmatically until the conception of a new punk band. It’s not too difficult to observe broader influences such as Stones Roses or The Jesus and Mary Chain, but it is also quite easy to notice influences from fellow Dane punks, such as Iceage. Fortunately, these four punks will be touring most of the UK in September with America’s Sunflower Bean, which will be starting up North in Glasgow and eventually back down South to Bristol, Brighton and finishing up in London. I strongly recommend that you catch them while you can. Jean Pavitt
THE FAIRWEATHER BAND Ben Sargent: Who are The Fairweather Band and what’s the story so far?
BS: What was the writing and recording process like making the album?
Rory Matthews: We’re a punk band based in Exeter. The current lineup is me, Corey and Lande. Lande is our third bassist, and we used to have a second guitarist, so we’ve chopped and changed a bit. We put out an EP with Specialist Subject Records almost two years ago, and our album is coming out with them at the start of September.
RM: I wrote the songs over a lot of years, some of them were written before our first record in fact. It’s really nice to get a sense of closure on those songs and feel like I can start working on new stuff. We did a lot of regular practising before recording too, which is unusual for us, but very nice. In fact we haven’t practiced once since! Recording it was a lot of fun, we did the whole thing in four days on a diet of bread, beer and avocados. We slept in the studio too, so it was very intense. We stayed up all night writing one of the songs and then recorded it the next morning. That ended up being my favourite track on the album. Make of that what you will.
BS: We’ve heard two singles from the new album now and they’re sounding great! Do you just want to get the album out now or are you enjoying the build-up? RM: Thank you! I’m definitely ready for it to be released. When nobody’s heard it you change your mind every day as to whether you love it or it’s a spectacular failure, so I’m looking forward to people reassuring me either way.
BS: How do you feel about the punk scene in Exeter? Has it influenced you and your music? RM: It’s constantly in flux, but
at the moment I think there are a lot of great bands. Muncie Girls, Shit Present and The Cut Ups have all made incredible records recently. Splitsville and Fall Children are both relatively new bands that I’ve been really enjoying live. Human Cull are excellent too, at the heavier end of the punk spectrum. We’re truly blessed to have a space like the Cavern that really nurtures punk rock bands. It’s had a massive influence on not just our music, but our lives! Without the people we’ve met there and the bands we’ve seen there, we’d be completely clueless. Not to mention the fact that me and Lande both work there, and they let us practice there when it’s closed! We heart the Cavern. BS: And how about punk in general as an influence? RM: The influence punk has had on my life is so embarrassingly huge that I don’t even know where to start. Bands like Fugazi,
Propagandhi and Bikini Kill were so influential in my politicisation that I struggle not to quote them in conversation on a daily basis. And again, the people that I’ve met through playing punk rock have had an immeasurable influence on my life. Not just because they helped me establish who I am and where I stand socially, but on a personal level. These people are my best friends! Reading punk zines like Last Hours or Maximumrocknroll when I was 15 completely blew my mind, and it still does now. As much as it has its flaws, the international punk community is an incredible, positive force for promoting progressive ideas and giving outsiders a place to belong.
RORY MATTHEWS’ TOP 5 PUNK ALBUMS OF ALL TIME:
BS: If you could listen to the new album with any punk great who would it be?
PROPAGANDHI LESS TALK, MORE ROCK “Animal-friendly, anti-fascist, gay-positive, pro-feminist” is written four times around the border of the album cover. Without going over the top, this record introduced lots of ideas that have gone on to be core values in my life.
RM: Haha, I don’t know about that. I can’t really bear the thought of Ian MacKaye or Glenn Danzig listening to my crap band! BS: Do you think punk is still relevant in 2016 and if so in what form? RM: It may not be the same movement that it was 40 years ago, but it will always be relevant wherever punk scenes, music and aesthetic help people feel free to express themselves.
THE MISFITS EARTH AD / WOLFS BLOOD The Misfits were the first band that I really loved when I got into punk rock. This record has the perfect balance of melody, speed, and aggression, and I still listen to it all the time. LEATHERFACE MUSH One of the most underrated bands of all time, in my opinion. In their prime they sounded like Motörhead on speed and acid with incredibly menacing yet somehow still beautiful guitar lines almost drowning out Frankie Stubbs’ furious ranting.
was pretty radical to me. When I started going to The Cavern I used to listen to this CD every day, and it was completely influential in helping me establish a voice for writing songs which were true to myself. AGAINST ME! REINVENTING AXL ROSE This album sounds like it was recorded inside a bag of crisps, but that doesn’t do anything to subdue the rage and the passion contained within the music. I’ve had some of the best times of my life singing along to these songs.
THE CUT UPS PARIS STREET IN RUINS Time for some blatant localism. I always assumed you had to be (or pretend to be) from exotic London or New York to be in a punk band, so to first hear people singing about Exeter
TOWEL WIPE ME DRY
When Eagulls exploded into life in 2010 they were about as punk a band as you could find in the country. The early Eagulls EP and and debut album, Eagulls where a mass of flailing guitars and earsplitting vocals. Ullages, the band’s second album, seems different, more refined but still very much Eagulls. Shimmering guitars accompany the driving rhythms of the earlier work. ‘Velvet’ perfectly showcases George Mitchell’s melodic shouts of melancholy. Every song on this album seems to build into an epic cacophony of brilliant post-punk noise. I can’t wait to hear it live.
“What crawled through that?!” shriek Towel, one of the UK DIY scene’s most unusual new bands, as ‘Silent Salad’ (track one of their debut album Wipe Me Dry) crashes to a halt. This is a strange kind of punk that you’d struggle to find anywhere else, flickering from melodic synth sparkles to rough, fuzzy guitar noise in just a couple of seconds. The fiery trio’s witty lyrics cover a range of subjects from feminism to hair cuts. Towel are probably not for everyone, I doubt you’ll see them on Top of the Pops any time soon, but Wipe Me Dry is powerful, raw and a very exciting listen.
Reviews by Ben Sargent
PARQUET COURTS HUMAN PERFORMANCE
THE FAIRWEATHER BAND NOSEBLEED SONG #1
SAVAGES ADORE LIFE
Human Performance marks the triumphant return of Parquet Courts after 2014’s Content Nausea as ‘Parkay Quarts’ seemed to pass a lot of fans by. Despite being more refined than 2012’s breakthrough album Light Up Gold, this is without question the Parquet Courts we all know and love. The album kicks off with opener ‘Dust’ which has the kind of trudging repetitive rhythm that the New Yorkers do so well, while ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ is awash with exciting guitar flurries and bouncing baselines. ‘It’s Gonna Happen’ summons the spirit of Lou Reed to slowly lull the album to a peaceful but emotive end.
To those familiar with the Exeter music scene, The Fairweather Band seem to have been around for ages. Now finally they are preparing to release their debut album Meow, via Specialist Subject records. ‘Nosebleed Song #1’ is the second track from the new record to surface online, accompanied by a bloodstained new video. In contrast to the messy gore of the video, the song showcases how perfectly this band fit together. The guitars are sharp and precise and singer Rory Matthews’ voice is brilliantly supported by Lande Hekt’s soft backing vocals. It’s only a minute and a half but it’s left me waiting in desperate anticipation for forthcoming album Meow to be released.
It’s been a long wait since Savages released the epic Silence Yourself in 2013. It probably takes that long for the band to tame their furious songs enough to get them into the studio. Having seen them live late 2015, I knew the new songs were good. The question was whether they could convert the intensity of their incredible live show into a successful album. Adore Life does not disappoint. From the heavy thrashing of ‘The Answer’ to Jenny Beth’s strutting, sassy vocals on ‘Sad Person’; the album is brilliant throughout and well worth the wait.
Baby Strange are one of Glasgow’s most exciting bands, and I was lucky enough to chat with them about their affinity with punk and their local music scene. Debut Want It Need It out 02 Sept 2016. Jean Pavitt: Did the whole idea of punk mean much to you when you first got into music? Baby Strange: Yeah totally. I didn’t really label it and I still don’t but I’ve always loved bands with energy and attitude, even from a young age. J: Do you feel that it influenced your sound or ethos when writing your album? BS: To some extent, yeah. It just so happens that the three of us have a similar outlook when it comes to creating music so it just happened. There wasn’t much thought behind it. J: You say you produce your own artwork and record your own songs. Do you feel you still have the same control after signing with Ignition Records? BS: We recorded a lot of the earlier stuff but we took a step back when it came to doing the album.
It felt good knowing we had people we trusted recording us. We still make all of the artwork/posters and the majority of the videos so I wouldn’t say things have changed since singing with Ignition. It’s the same as it was before but they’ve given us the opportunity to get into a real studio to take things to the next level.
get together with a bunch of other creative people at White’s studio in the south side and hang out. It’s a cool way for people to get to know each other. Dead Beet Records are putting out some amazing releases in Glasgow too.
J: With an increase in independent record labels, how do you see the future of proper DIY bands?
BS: Putting on a club night is something we’ve always chatted about. We always put a band on at midnight, then after that we get into the DJ sets and it usually gets a bit crazy. We’ve always been on the look out for a club night that has that mix but we never really found anything that we liked, so starting our own night made sense. We jumped at the opportunity when we were asked and it’s been great watching it grow. It’s been getting busier every month and there seems to be a real buzz around it. We’ve got some great bands lined up for the next few. We’re excited about it.
BS: It’s amazing to see more bands doing it for themselves and not relying on major labels to get them heard. It’s inspiring. J: Could you tell us a bit about the music scene in Glasgow? Do you feel that independent venues are important for the music scene? BS: There are so many good artists in Glasgow at the moment: Rascalton, The Cut, Declan Welsh, Anxiety & Lucia Fontaine to name a few. The independent venues are very important. We’ve played some great shows in Broadcast, 13th Note, The Priory & Stereo over the past few years. Something else that’s happening in Glasgow is Rainbowcaine usually before Club Sabbath we
J: What made you want to put on Club Sabbath?
J: Could you give us a handful of bands we should be listening to? You should see the following live: Happy Meal LTD, The Ninth Wave, Mark McGowan, Ho99o9, The Lapelles, White & Shogun.
MY QUEST TO BE PUNK IN 2016 BY JAKE CROSSLAND
2016. Look around and take it all in: Donald Trump is a presidential nominee, we’ve left the EU, war runs rife in Syria, the Americas are plagued by mass shootings in the North, the zika virus in the South, and we’ve lost Bowie and Prince. This is the world we’ve built and the one we have to live in. We’ve made our bed and now we have to sleep in it. Except, no, we don’t. Punk says it’s time to stop making apathetic comments and empty commitments: let’s flip it all over on its head and start making a noise, says punk. Which is exactly what I did. A friend and I have put together a small tape compilation of local bands (mainly our mates) that we think deserve more recognition. When people don’t listen, make a racket and force them to. Or write an article and shamelessly plug that racket you’ve made in the hope you’ll get your money back, and make a little extra to give to the racket. Extended metaphors aside, I can hardly claim to be a punk, and I’m well aware how overly dramatic that opening was for an article that ultimately boils down to me screaming ‘Look at me!
I AM a punk and I have a tape to prove it!’, but I can at least pretend to myself that I’ve taken some of the attitude forward in our DIY release. You can hear punk’s fingerprints all over the tracks. Upcoming local band, Meals open Side A, warning you to “run for cover” under a veil of punk scuzz – from then on you’re under constant attack from droning vocals and a catchy chorus to boot. Fuzz Lightyear’s debut track calls out modern culture on its vapid laziness, screaming “there’s nothing on TV” into a post-punk echo chamber. ‘Bluebirds’ from Utterness yields the ultimate confession of a teenager in South Devon against a backdrop of psych pop, soaring guitars and bouncing synths getting lost in a hazy cloud of almost shoegazey euphoria. They “just waste all their time” but they wouldn’t change it for the world. Flip the tape over and you’ll find The Mammals waiting for you, jangly bedroom pop destined for summer BBQ cookouts, slowly shunted into life by a gentle, lilting, reverb-drenched riff and further blessed with deadpan delivery and a certified classic guitar solo. The night slowly stalks in with Daniel Lloyd’s 6-minute
odyssey ‘Where Do Bygones Go?’, and we finally meet Sour Coast after dark. Come-to-bed vocals croon over a string-laden, doom-crying soundscape. Acoustic guitar peeks in, with Lloyd reminiscing on old relationships through beautifully surreal imagery. We finish with ‘Headaches’ by Leah Barron-Stevens, a sobering collage of ideas exploring incomplete existence which finally triumphs in a glorious climax of guitars and vocals, and brings the tape to a magnificent ending. Thanks to the internet, no other era has seen artists take back control and experiment with releases, or cut out labels all together and do things their own way on such a scale as now. Down on Sour Coast (a semi-fictional scene from which we’ve gathered all of these gems), it’s only just beginning. Sour Coast Volume 1 is released on red translucent cassette and digital download via Major Leagues on 2/9/16. It is available for preorder now at majorleaguesrecs.bandcamp.com Presented in collaboration with Sour Coast Tourism Office. Artwork by Josie King and Majour Leagues.
This article was originally published on hellojeanos. wordpress.com (February 18, 2015) by Jean Pavitt. Pavitt, J. (2015) Interview | Speedy Wunderground (Records). Available at: https:// hellojeanos.wordpress. com/2015/02/18/interview-speedy-wunderground-records-2/ (Accessed: 25 July 2016).
Dan Carey, Speedy Wunderground producer This time in 2013, producer Dan Carey had very recently assembled a brand new record label, and attached to it a raucous and rapid ethos. Constructing a fully recorded song in only 24 hours (with no lunch break) does sound daunting yet brilliant, as the work of Speedy Wunderground manages to capture that raw edginess in songs that haven’t been excessively polished. I was lucky enough to ask Speedy Wunderground founder, Dan Carey, a handful of questions, to which he, fittingly, responded with impressive speed. The initial inspiration behind the creation of Speedy Wunderground is ultimately due to the inconvenience of “waiting around for stuff to get released”. Dan Carey says, “I get tired of labouring over things for ages and going back and forth on tracks, trying to finish them off. I find that tweaking things doesn’t generally make them much better.” He states that Speedy Wunderground was formed to eliminate the nuisance of waiting and tweaking, and to “just keep the fun bits of making a record, i.e recording it and hearing it on the radio five
days later.” Speedy Wunderground have so far released 17 singles through this recording procedure, and all completed in Carey’s very own studio. “It makes for a consistent sound, and it helps with the speedy aspect. I am very familiar with this room”. Equipment such as lasers and smoke machines are frequently used during recordings, but not in a pretentious, Beach Boys-esque fashion; they’re merely to keep this speedy recording process fun. In these singles, you’ll discover that Speedy Wunderground have recorded with the likes of TOY, Childhood, Kate Tempest, Telegram; all of which work stunningly with this intense yet raw sound in their music. I asked Dan Carey whether he chooses the artists he wishes to work with predominately on the basis of their music suiting his edgy, unprocessed sound, to which he responded, “It’s more of a personality thing, really. I think as long as everyone involved is able to relax, and not worry too much about the idea that the record isn’t going to be
all that ‘polished’ sounding, then it works. I think it’s quite liberating for musicians who are used to doing lots and lots of takes, to be forced to use their first or second. Several people have told me they want to do all future recordings in this way.” Artists usually only bring along a “skeleton for a song”, which Carey prefers “because it’s all a bit more on-edge.” I tried to nab some information regarding who we can expect brilliant new singles from via Speedy Wunderground, but Carey says “We only tend to plan them a couple of days before.” – which really just highlights that naturally rough ethos they stand by. However, he reveals, “I want to do ones with Kelly Stoltz, and maybe Bunnybrains? Palma Violets would be great too, they’re friends of ours. Julian Cope is the dream!” With the speed they’re working at, I shouldn’t been surprised if they manage to collaborate with the likes of whoever they fancy. What a fantastic insight into a somewhat intense, yet charmingly rough and organic recording process.
To me, being punk is simply being true to yourself, only doing what you want to do, and doing it well. This formula appears to describe Bones, who writes hundreds of great songs in whatever genre he feels like doing at that moment in time, performs them with effortless skill and records them in the DIY spirit: over bootleg beats in his home studio. With angelic singing over an icy interpolation of Ready for the World’s ‘Love You Down’, rapping about swerving cars in a storm over a beat made from the soundtrack of Bladerunner, even screaming about a suicidal breakup over a gloomy guitar loop, his song-writing always represents his emotions and tastes. However, when it comes to ‘being true to yourself’, establishing the punk credentials of Bones becomes more complicated. The first thing many people notice about Bones is the confusing variety of personas whom he adopts for his work. The diverse styles of his songs are accompanied by him acting out a wide set of characters to enhance their appeal – the emotional involvement heightens the drama, and adds a touch of humour through absurd contradictions like a ‘Goth Cowboy’. When I first started listening to Bones a few years ago, this was really captivating. Here was a guy who was at once a ‘Graveyard God’, a ‘Heartbreak Kid’, a white-trash gangster, a WWE wrestler, a
vampire, a boyband heartthrob, a country singer and many more. His own freedom to be whatever he wanted seemed so fun to me; a normal teenager boxed into the OK but fairly dull identity of middle-class suburban kid. This strange collection of personas created an aura of mystery, and the more I listened, the more I felt I had to uncover who the true Bones was. For a while there were only his lyrics to give clues, hinting at some kind of tragic family estrangement here and there, lost loves, drug addiction and reckless living, and so the mystery only deepened. Later, however, articles began to appear featuring interviews with the real Bones, really named Elmo Kennedy, and I was somewhat disappointed to find out from these that he is actually quite a normal guy. Elmo grew up in rural Michigan and he now lives with his brother in Los Angeles, having dropped out of school at 16 and left home to pursue a rap career. He was a troubled student and he smokes lots of weed, but the suggestions of a life of tragedy and dangerous excess in his songs are mostly false, they’re for effect rather than for faithful self-expression. Given this discrepancy between his real life and his art, a problem emerges – is Bones true to himself in his work? He has been criticised as insincere and lazy for his constant flights between opposite emotions,
styles and genres, and some claim that this variety reflects a lack of substance. Others dismiss him as merely a ‘meme’ rapper, supposedly using only the surface images and tropes of other genres, making for hollow reinterpretations. These criticisms are understandable, but the argument that his fickleness reveals inauthenticity can be flipped on its head to reveal how Bones is actually authentic in a new and interesting way. With such an abundance of music available as a result of the internet, and the barriers to producing particular genres lowered through cheap technology, the playful variety of Bones’ music is a natural response. He uses his music as a blank-slate upon which to create music in the styles that he is personally fond of, which are numerous and sometimes contradictory as a result of this abundance and erosion of genre boundaries. His music represents his personality through its expression of his varied individual tastes, and represents his context as a modern internet dweller through its fast-paced output and change. As a result, Bones is true to himself in his music, indirectly expressing himself and his life by choosing personas and styles that alone are apart from himself but that ultimately come together to create a rich tapestry of the real Elmo Kennedy. Jim Clemoes
lllustration by Will Cook
SCREAMO: A JUSTIFICATION BY WILL COOK: Like most modern sub-genres of punk, Screamo has changed, like really, really changed; distorted into the cringe-inducing trainwreck that the genre is heavily associated with. However, there were simpler times, times before the over-the-top hair dos, tumblr fandoms and uncanny amounts of black eye make up, times when some actually high quality, interesting music was being made. It was new, exciting and loud as fuck. The Screamo movement began in the early 90’s as a sort of natural progression from the post-hardcore (particularly bands like Fugazi) and emo movements. While the instrumentation remained relatively similar, the vocals continued to blossom, getting more and more intense, eventually becoming the ‘screaming’ style that’s synonymous to the genre. The genre at the time encompassed the true nature of the DIY scene. It was an entirely new, self-made style, being distributed in a low-key
manner through house shows and small venues, channeling the punk ethos that helped birth the genre. A majority of the bands who shaped the movement seemed to be a tight-knit groups of friends, producing music purely just for the love of it. The music wasn’t “good” or objectively “well produced”, but it had a powerful naivety which seems to suit the subject of adolescent woe that seems to be such a common theme within the genre. Outside of the hair-metal, mainstream (I fucking hate using that word but I can’t seem to think of anything better) bands, it still remains a pretty active genre, its influence spreading into other slightly less aggressive, but pretty big bands such as Tiny Moving Parts and TWIABP. So here’s a short list of Screamo albums that I think are really worth listening to. Obviously it’s not definitive and there’s a world of other incredible albums out there, but here are a few that have really
MERCHANT SHIPS FOR CAMERON (2011) To me, this album is the album that set the tone for the second wave of screamo/emo revival. Although this is a relatively recent album, it still retains a lot of the stylistic features of 90s skramz. It features minimal, simplistic, math-rock influenced instrumentation, juxtaposed with raw and heavily emotive vocals. The production on this album is far from perfect, but it only goes to solidify the contextual factors. The tragic narrative of the album sets the tone, telling stories of families falling apart, death, love, everything, all into a neat little sub-20 minute record. The interlude ‘Sleep Patterns’ is an excellent piece of spoken word, slowing the pace of the album back down. ‘Sleep Patterns’ could be one of the most powerful tracks on the album. The vocals seem genuine and humble, which only goes to intensify the emotive quality of the story.
WILLIAM BONNEY GOOD VIBES (2011)
I HATE MYSELF 10 SONGS (1997)
OLD GREY AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (2013)
William Bonney was comprised partially with former members of Merchant Ships and Midwest-Penpals. This really comes across in the style of Good Vibes; math-rock and emo influenced instrumentation, juxtaposed with the harsh, pained vocals. The pace is lightly slower in comparison to similar albums, but this only goes to strengthen the notion of melancholy within the album. Good Vibes remains introspective and generally pessimistic lyrically, touching on the running theme of teenage angst and relatable themes like love, loss, and loneliness. The album gradually gets darker and heavier as it progresses, getting faster paced, more intense and the vocals get even more stressed, pained and raspy. Like most DIY punk bands, the tracks on this album are on the shorter side, mostly around the 3 minute mark. The tracks are short, powerful and full of life.
10 Songs approaches the more hardcore, rather than emo, side of the screamo spectrum, making it a crusty, angsty, dark explosion of emotion. At points in this album, such as in the track ‘This Isn’t The Tenka-Ichi-Budokai’, the guitars sound almost Burzum-esque, mirroring the raspy, crusty vocals. The album takes a very mixed pace in relation to most emotional-hardcore albums. The pace raises and slows, going from near ambient to sludgy-melancholy to faster pace, borderline hardcore. It’s a rollercoaster of teenage angstiness. At 36 minutes long, it’s a little more drawn out than other punk albums. However, there’s no point at which the album seems to drop off. The effort, emotion and energy is maintained throughout the 11 songs (yes, 10 songs actually 11 songs long). If you’re a fan of Minor Threat, Fugazi or just hardcore in general, this album is definitely worth a listen.
Old Grey were the newcomers to the screamo revival, pioneered by William Bonney and Merchant Ships around the 2010 mark. However, they had a major impact on the scene after refining their style to produce their critically acclaimed album An Autobiography. Again, this album is short and sweet at only around the 25 minute mark. Starting explosively and filled with energy, it eventually moves more towards the downbeat and woeful conclusion. This album, once again, features spoken word and poetry, such as the track ‘Show Me How You Self Destruct’. This breaks up the album nicely, adding some context while also balancing the pace. The instrumentation on this album isn’t as clean and math-rocky as some comparative screamo albums; the guitars are heavier and the melodies, simpler. However, this isn’t a bad thing as the simpler melodies resonate well with the song-writing and vocal style.
PUNK PUNK THE HISTORY OF PUNKROCK AS A SUBULTURE:
When one thinks about punk, one sees the designs of Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren and the Bromley contingent; leather jackets, questionable and offensive tees and classic footwear such as Converse All-Stars or Doc Martens. Punk rock was, however, more than just a fashion statement. The lifestyle centred on the music, which in turn took influence from politics and cultural influences from across the globe (especially in the UK). Punk as a subculture began in the mid to late 1970s. However, how and when it actually began is debatable. The term ‘punk’, applying to rock music, was first used in the late 1960s to describe the garage musicians of the USA. Bands, such as The Sonics were writing and playing music without any prior musical training. In this case ‘Punk’ describes the fact that these musicians would break the long established ‘rules’ of music, simply because they had no concept of such rules in the first place. Fast forward to the mid 1970s and the first recognised punk scene had emerged. Bands like Blondie, Ramones and Talking Heads played regu-
larly in the CBGB, a famous club in the Bowery District of NYC. Although not normally associated with the Punk movement seen in the United Kingdom, these bands pioneered a new sound that built upon and diversified Punk’s predecessor, Rock and Roll. These bands eventually developed their own styles and moved away from Punk, but nonetheless, played an important role in bringing Punk Rock into the mainstream. Punk Rock, as most people know it, appeared in the UK in the mid 1970s. Punk Rock in the UK was more tied to the political and economic situation of the country. At this time, due to recession, the economic shape of the UK was poor, and youth unemployment was extremely high. Young people were angry, opinionated and had a large amount of time on their hands. At this time, the punk fashion style also came into existence. Punk fashion centred around SEX, a clothing shop owned by Malcolm McClaren, whom had recently returned from the US, where he had attempted and failed to sell his clothes through reinvention of the New York Dolls. Determined to succeed, McClaren tried again to reinvent a band in order to advertise his ‘anti-fashion’ clothing line. In
this case, he was very successful in selling his clothing and more importantly selling the music, for his new project was the Sex Pistols – probably the most influential British Punk band of all time. Although not the first Punk Rock band, they certainly had the greatest impact on the public in their short reign as lords of Punk. Engineered to offend, the Sex Pistols challenged the stagnating rock and roll scene of the mid-‘70s, as well as echoing the frustrations of the younger generation in their music. The Pistols challenged societal norms, a classic example seen in the lyrics of ‘God Save the Queen’, “God Save the Queen, The Fascist Regime”, where discontent for the establishment is highlighted and propagated. Young people in Britain flocked to see this musical phenomenon, as the musical messages rang true with their experiences of unemployment and uncertainty. To them there truly was, as the Pistols sang brashly: There is no future in England’s dreaming. As a result of the Sex Pistols, many bands sprung up, inspired and influenced by the music of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious. The Clash, Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and numerous oth-
Illustration by Tanith Price
ers took up the mantle of championing Punk Rock well into the late seventies and early eighties. Punk rock has been cited as the first subculture to open up relations with immigrant cultures that had settled in the UK. In this case, this was predominately with the black West Indian culture that had experienced severe hate crime and racial prejudice in the form of the Notting Hill Riots, amongst other events only 20 years earlier. This is a stark contrast to other youth subcultures, such as the
Teddy Boys of the 50s, whom tended to share a nationalistic and xenophobic outlook to life. Punk rock was fused with music from all around the world, most notably Ska music that originated in the Caribbean in the 1950s. This changed the music from a slow, relaxed beat to a somewhat aggressive, jumpy fusion of the exotic and new. Like punk rock, Ska utilised lyrics that highlighted social injustices â€“ primarily racism that unfortunately still existed in society. Punk was and still is a
highly influential subculture that continues to serve as inspiration for many new musical styles, and without Punk, we would not enjoy such a diverse and interesting myriad of musical genres today. Alfie Al-Sadoon
Delinquent is a new, non-profit contemporary art and music magazine based in Exeter, Devon. We like to focus on the new, the local and the i...
Published on Aug 15, 2016
Delinquent is a new, non-profit contemporary art and music magazine based in Exeter, Devon. We like to focus on the new, the local and the i...