The heart of the music scene:
Track Rambler W E S T
M I D L A N D S
EXCLUSIVE Behind The Scenes
The lowdown on talent scouts . Farewell to the flapper . Woah, a female?! . Peaky blinders made me! . What's on guide!
Hey there, So this shiny, brand sp
anking new magazine
caught your eye did it ? Wel l it should do. This debut edit ion of Tr ac k R am bl er : West Mid lands will keeping you up to da be yo matters that impactte with al l the best events, freshest local ur go-t o music guide for the month of M you. artists, and in the kn ay ow about the music , O h, and see those aw might be a little bit obkward mug shots plastered al l over the bo working super hard to sessed with memes and Fanta Orange, (w ard? Wel l yeah, that’s us, your edit ors. most tragic puns int br ing you the greatest mid lands music ho isn’t?) but we’re totally obsessed wi We o any article we poss th news, and br ightening ibly can. your day by sl ipping the This debut edit ion ha s has gone int o making been al most a year in the making, and ou tr ibut ors, the inter vi this. We can’t thank ever yone enough th r bl ood, sweat, and a ton of Java Lounge ewees, and of course, at the readers, this is fo ’s helped us on this journey, so to the cocoffee nr you, and we trul y ho ‘Till next time, pe you enjoy ever y wo rd. BJ and Meggy.
T O DO : ce 1) Get lett u
fr idge in l l e m s e t a ig t 2) Inves r 3) B uy plungeBaby shower 4) Maddie’s atan 5) Summon S wesome A 6) Be Total ly
p.2: Artist of the Mont h p.3: What’s the Point? A cynical man will tell you on page three! p.4-5: Sexual Abuse in industryIs that really still a thing? Jeez! p.6: Tom Fitch: How music inspires art! p.7: What’s on guide - May p.8: Talent Scouts - like what do they actually do? p.9: Overheard at gigs - you lot are weird. p.10-11: Let’s chat about busking! p.12-16: Tommy and Mary are feeling kinda peaky, wonder why.
C ONT ENT S C ONT.
we pr omised you! ive us cl ex e th t ric ist D : p.17-21 er gap in B irmingham? find out on page 24 p.22&23: Is there a gend n ca u yo t bu , re su ot N ? e they ony Orchestra! ph ym p.24&25: Nonsuch: who ar S ay G ’s am gh in irm rt hday to B p.26&27: Happy tent h bi C! p.28&29: Introducing:MAR ic Industry e Mus p.30&31: Disability in th t stage fr ight! ou ab g in lk ta ’re we h nt mo this p.32: Musician’s choice , we’ve got ‘t ill June ys gu y cr to t no y tr er p.33: Farewell the f lapp e? p.34: W hat’s your horosc op th a little quiz! wi y da e th nd E ? re A u Yo p.35: W ho Do You Think
Track Rambler’s Artist of the month:
Bad Girlfriend With their sound being described as ‘brain explosive’, Connor, Richie and Billy are certainly not a trio to look past. Squished around a table in Connor’s “Mecca,” (A.K.A The Sunflower Lounge), he tells the inspiringly simplistic story of how the band formed, saying: “We met while we were all rolling around in a pub,” casually referencing Richie with a brisk head tilt, before saying “I just ran into a bar and grabbed Billy and said do you wanna be in our band?” Three yars later and they’ve found their feet, growing along side their music with the release of their third EP. “I think the song writing’s developed a bit this time,” Richie says,
Words by Beth Judge
“The songs are different… they’re not as dumb…there’s more thought behind them, but they’re more natural, more organic” Connor agrees. It’s a unanimous decision that the favourite track on the list is Idiot, a convention shattering frenzy of Pop Punk and Country (Pop Punktry, if you will.) “It’s a little bit different than what we usually go for,” Billy says. “It’s like ten of your favourite songs of all put into one.” Call them the Hansel and Grettel’s of the music scene as they scatter a trail of the EP’s tracks across the summer, releasing a brand new song at each gig. After starting at The Sun-
flower Lounge on the 4th of May 2018, the guys will be performing at different independent venues across the city, and getting a bunch of other local bands to get in on it too. In a genius twist though, it’s completely exclusive. You don’t go to the gigs, you don’t get the EP. Simple. “I think we’re just trying to stand out at a time where everything is released online so fast” Connor says. With plans to release another track from the EP every two months, aka drag the party out as long as physically possible. you can expect to hear track No. two released at a TBC independent venue near you during July. Search @BadGirlfriendBrum on Facebook for more!
It’s hardly contentious to say that gig tickets are a rip off, that’s something we can all agree on. But, as the only way artists can make money in an industry over saturated with pittance paying streaming services, the high prices to see them in the flesh aren’t surprising. So once you’ve sold a kidney to reside snugly in the back corner of a 15,000- capacity arena, nothing is more infuriating than the fart-masquerading-as-a-human in front of you whipping out his iPhone only to film the entire show. Doesn’t he know he’s invading your already frankly cack view? What is it people actually do with the footage they spent fifty quid to acquire? Show it to their friends? Why? The results regularly resemble a performance by a bunch of
ants with a decent lighting technician, with the sound quality of a phone’s microphone making Adele sound like Slayer. Or do these idiots short of a village reminisce about the show they could have seen if they weren’t viewing the whole thing through the lens of a five-inch rectangle?
“Herd them like cattle, and let them fight over the filming space” This seems like a new phenomenon with it being a rarity that some committed soul would have lugged a camcorder to a Nirvana show circa 1992.
On top of this it only really seems to be exclusive to gigs. You don’t see spectators in the theatre thrusting their Samsung Galaxys high into the air in a vain attempt to capture their favourite Shakespeare play. No post to their Instagram of a blurry video complete with distorted delivery of “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo” in-
cluding accompanying caption “#romeoandjuliet #Shakespeare #culture”. That said the tides are changng: comedian Chris Rock recently enforced a strict no phones policy at a string of UK shows. Audience members must lock their precious touch screen monstrosities in Velcro containers with the penalty of being ejected from the venue. As far as I’m concerned this still isn’t good enough: I propose specific pens at gigs for individuals who see fit to film the entire thing, herd them in like cattle and let them fight over filming space. Maybe then and only then will they understand the plight of the average concert-goer who just wants to enjoy the show instead of making a low budget documentary. Put your phones down people and remember, just because you didn’t film it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Matt Barnard ‘s
What’s the point in Filming at gigs? 5
Sexual Abuse i
For the latter of 2017, news outlets across the globe were filled with stories of stars standing up and exposing their abusers. But what’s happening now? Just because we’re more aware, doesn’t mean its stopped. Just because our voices are finally being heard doesn’t mean it’s stopped. And just because 2018’s newspapers are now overflowing with Kardashian babies, doesn’t mean it’s stopped.
Of course, we have to be grateful to the huge names that paved the way into this new world of naming and shaming but realising its mammoth effect on the music industry, a little closer to home, is where really needs the exposure right now. Matt Grimes, Music Industries lecturer at Birmingham City University, reinforces that the industry in Birmingham is stuck on cultural hamster wheel, saying, “It’s an industry that’s still riding a bit on history… the music industry was very male dominated…I
would say it still is a very male dominated industry”. “you hear women talk about this glass ceiling, to break through that you’ve got to be twice as good as your male counterparts” When scratching the surface, though, Grimes seems that the pandemic starts with power, saying “It’s a human condition for most that handling power can be quite difficult. It can manifest itself in very positive ways, but also very negative ways and do terrible
“It Manif Self in nega wa and terr thin 6
n the Midlands Words by Beth Judge
can est it very tive ys do ible gs.”
things with it.”
Nevertheless, Grimes agrees that, despite our small, local, scale, we need to be looking at the picture, saying:
Erin Grace, of Birmingham based band, The Cosmics, speaks from her experience of being a in the Midlands music industry, and how the allegations have impacted her, as a budding artist, saying:
“I don’t think this is just an industry based issue, I think the news of Harvey Weinstein and historically things that have happened in the music industry have highlighted a much bigger problem, that society has an issue with gender.” “Unfortunately, there are still levels of discrimination in employment. But that change has to come within how society views
“It’s made me more skeptical of people… the more stories I hear the more angry it makes me knowing how many horrible people are out there ” Despite Erin’s anxieties, she refuses to let them interfere with her passion, saying,
“We need to fight against it, not shy away from it… We need to be encouraged to call out sexual abuse when we see it or experience it, and know that it’s not okay for it to happen.” A universal problem that we have to remember is happening on our doorstep too, Faye Maxtad OBE, CEO of the Survivors Trust is hopeful for the future: “Maybe this is society finally waking up and having to accept that sexual abuse and rape are so prevalent and that we need to do something to stop the epidemic.” 7
It’s no revelation that art imitates life, so when your life is music there’s bound to be some arton-art crossover. Tom Fitch is living, breathing proof of that; a fine art illustrator from the West Midlands, he combines the chaos of grime music with a sophisticated yet colourful style. Growing up in Evesham, just south of Birmingham, the 24-year-old has had an intense interest in bright art throughout his life – from an infectiously happy kid drawing dinosaurs and cartoons to the graduate that he is now. “I’ve always been interested
in art for as long as I can remember.” Tom says, his fingers drumming on the table in front of him, the grains of wood flecked with the neon-like paint that stains his nails. “Then when I was a teenager I was heavily involved in Street Art and Graffiti, my mom obviously loved that. That was around the same time as I was introduced to hip hop and grime, and so that then played a part in my style of work today.” Tom’s paintings have evolved from Velociraptors to Lions, rappers and Tigers. He works on fierce creations that channel his enthusiasm and confidence, with the occasional almost-pop art-in-style
portrait of Connor McGregor - but only when he’s feeling particularly cocky. “With most of my paintings I could tell you what I was listening to as I painted, I’m attracted to the attitude and energy of the music, and that changes what I create. “At the moment I love musicians with confidence, aggression and swagger. That sort of music rubs off on me and gives me a boost.” “Sometimes it can be draining but you have to battle through it. Just like most things you have your ups and downs. But music is something I love. I couldn’t give it up, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. This is all I know.”
“I’m attracted to the attitude and energy of the music”
Tom Fitch: Music Inspires Me Words By Megan Louise Matthews
Birmingham Pride For many, Birmingham Pride is about change, celebrating, and embracing everything LGBT.
For some, it’s to show support for everyone within the community and for everyone else it’s a great excuse to party! Birmingham’s Pride will be held on Saturday 26th May until Sunday 27th May 2018. While a little short, you’ll see performances from artists such as MNEK, Louisa Johnson and Jax Jones on Saturday, and Rudimental, DJ Zinc and Gorgon City on Sunday. Last year’s pride event saw a staggering 50,000 people turn up to enjoy the sights, the stalls and the sheer magic that is Pride. If you’re
looking for a weekend of partying and loving yourself, as well ad everybody else, then this is the event for you! Join the crowds and bring your brightest of underwear (see example above, if unsure). It’s time, and we’re very excited. All of us over here at the Track Rambler HQ will be heading over, shall we carpool?
Miss out on your ticket to Glastonbury this summer? If so, then never fear, because GlastonBudget is here! Coming to the Midlands from the 25th- 27th of May 2018, GlastonBudget, is bringing the biggest and best tribute acts in the business, including MJUK, one of the UK’s best Michael Jackson tributes. Tickets are still on sale, so grab them while you can to see over 100 tribute artists perform across 5 stages.
Just Can’t Get Enough 80’s Dig out those leg warmers from the back of your wardrobe, Sara Cox is treating us to a night full of favourite classics. Prepare to hear the likes of Bowie, Phil Collins and Duran Duran. 80’s gear isn’t compulsory, but definitely encouraged (go on, you know you want to). Buy tickets at Birmingham’s O2 Institute for the 19th May 2018.
Solid Grooves Birmingham with Green Velvet
Slam Dunk Festival returns to the Midlands this summer, treating us to an insane line up. Acts include Twin Atlantic, Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World as well as many more performing at the Genting Arena on the 28th of May 2018. If you’ve never been before, check out their website for tickets. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
If 80’s isn’t quite your style then perhaps try this. Solid. Grooves has teamed up with Portal to bring the groovers to Birmingham as part of #Solid6 UK tour. Visit Boxxed on the 25th of May 2018 to hear the best of House and Techno, including Dennis Cruz, Eddy M, and Paradox City.
5 EVENTS Words By Tom Hall
Who Even Are You? What Talent Scouts Are Lo oking Fo r Words By Andy Smith
You may not see them, you may not hear them, but the music scouts are out, lurking in the corners of your favourite bars, hunting down their prey. The funny thing is though, they’re definitely not the Simon Cowell-esque, serious looking stiffs they’re made out to be. As long as you know what they’re looking for, then your helping hand in the industry might be just around the corner. Luckily, Kevan Tidy, of Birmingham’s Iron Man Records fills us in on the do’s and don’ts of getting yourself snapped up by a record label. The company,devised of both Kevan and the founder of Iron Man Records, Mark Badger, aims to help creatives get their music heared by a wider audience, and enhance their creativity while doing it. Kevan says that the Midlands is the perfect place to get you music heard,
“Mark actually moved here because he said he thought all the best music was from Birmingham and the West Midlands” Kevan says. But what are the guys really looking for? Kevan begins “We’ve never really set out to work with a specific type of band or artist, but we reckon we can help guitar based bands a bit more…we have worked with poets too which has been cool…but we’d never rule any genre out” If you’re looking to catch their eye though, its all about being passionate, talking about what really matters, and not shying from the taboo. “We especially like musicians who have really innovative
lyrics that will attract attention…anything that makes us excited and energized or thinking much more deeply about a subject really grabs our interest” Although, if politics arent your thing, then the more bonkers the better in Kevan’s eyes. “In a weird way, kooky things I don’t understand always gets my attention, the kind of music that challenges the world gets me” he adds. The guys top tip though, although sadly the glaringly obvious, Kevan encourages us to remember to not overthink things or try too hard, as he says “Above all else, you’ve just got to be good at what you do y’know?”
They Said What?! Overheard at gigs “If I swipe right to everyone, maybe one of them will be a groupie and I can meet the band.”
“How often do you think Gene Simmons brushes his hair?”
“I think if you tried hard enough, you could definitely jump over the drummer!”
“Do you think Dwayne The Rock Johnson calls himself The Rock in day to day life?”
“Is the plural of Waitrose Waitroses or Waitri?”
“No, this song is written about me. I swear, I emailed the singer and then a week later, they released this!”
“Not sure if I left the oven on, suppose it’s too late now though, isn’t it - OH, I love this song!”
If you heard something crazy, email it to TRwestmidlands@gmail.com to feature in the next issue! 11
Busking around the world The sluggish sky hangs a woeful shade of grey over the local high street. Rain pelts laboriously, as its droplets settle sadly in the folds of passers by’s knackered umbrellas.
It’s a standard afternoon in the way of our classically miserable British weather, yet amongst
the sharp spatters of chaos, you can still make out the merry melodies of the resident busker, putting a spring in your step and etching a subtle smile of satisfaction underneath your brolly. Despite your gratitude, you still can’t help but spare some pity as their frozen fingers shiver amongst their guitar strings, and some
drunk twonk hurls them another insult. Once again you think to yourself, why do they put up with this shit?
With 175 million global users getting their music heard via Soundcloud, and some of the planets most successful artists to come straight outta YouTube (Ed Sheeran, James Bay, the Biebs, to name but a few) you’d think
Words by Beth Judge musicians would trade in the elements for the comfort of the great indoors. Kidderminster born busker, James Chatfield’s story, though, flips the sympathy to jealousy as he shares how busking has taken him and his music across the world. Getting the itch for music as a child after goofing around on his dad’s guitar, at sixteen James started to get serious after receiving his firstever Bass guitar, and
immediately started teaching himself to play, he says. Just like the rest of us, it didn’t occur to James that busking could provide such potential. Yet after using the streets as a platform to play music with friends, and make new busking
informed him of a busking band, called The Wishing Well, who were searching for a bassist to tour across Europe with them. James landed the job almost immediately. He recalls with excitement, “We busked 80% of the
concert, because of the size of the set-up, the loudness and the view of the band is like being at a concert hall…most of the times we would have an audience of about 100/200 surrounding us.” Once scratching the surface of the
still waiting behind the laptop to be discovered by Usher on YouTube, James warrants that social media and busking walk hand in hand, telling us “It really helps benefit busking as a lot of people ask “where can I find you online?”… I have
“Busking is prof itable” buddies too, he soon realised that there is a way to make a living out of it.
Once keeping up with the likes of ‘Dub FX’ on YouTube for inspiration, James became a full time busker in 2016, saying “I felt naturally drawn to it because I enjoy creating soundscapes that relax people”
tour and did concerts the rest. We were performing everyday...we explored every town and City in Germany, busking in a new place everyday… a very cool lifestyle”“It isn’t your conventional busking, it is a street
busking lifestyle, James agrees it is a financially feasible way of life, arguing “Busking is profitable. You can sell a lot of CDs on the streets… online donations are a thing now too.” If you’re still not convinced, and
multiple friends who also busk full-time, they all travel a lot … they use ‘Facebook Live’ a lot, as an additional platform to perform to people, using it whilst they’re out busking…they’ll be playing to people in the streets and people in the comfort of their own homes how cool is that?”
Making a bunch of busking friends certainly has its perks, after a pal of James’
Musicians t hat started out busking! 1. BB King 2. Rod Stewart 3. Passenger 4.Sheryl C row 5. Janis Jo pl in 13
feelin' peaky with Tommy and Mary! Words by Beth Judge
The coolest couple in the industry, Tommy and Mary will be lingering on your lips this next year. After their big break came from landing a spot to feature their music on one of the BBC’s most popular television shows to date, based on our home town, the West Midlands in the 1920’s. Tommy filled us in on the extraordinary story of working on the Peaky Blinders. After an unlikely friendship spiraled off the back of some flirty small talk about bike stores (of all things??) Tommy bravely invited Mary to
wasting his time: “I felt like my life was just fading away”. Now the exciting thrill of performing to new people day in day out kept the dream afloat, with Tommy laughing “Mary even started wearing a panda costume to try sell the album, to put a smile on peoples faces and break the ice.” “It was a lot of fun, so for about 2 years, we kept on doing it…that’s how we met Antony who put our music through to the Peaky Blinders” Tommy said.
"I actually hadn't heard of the peaky blinders before"
join his band as their new drummer, the band later broke up – but that’s not the point. What matter’s here is that Tommy and Mary decided to stick together and move forward as a duo. As Tommy said, “It’s not really rock music without a drummer, is it?” Fast forward to 2014 and in a fairytale-like turn of events, the couple tied the knot – what better excuse for their first gig; “We got married and had our first show on our wedding night.” Maybe that chat up line about bikes wheeley wasn’t so bad after all. With the dream of making music for a living, the pair opted to escape their mundane 9-5’s and sell their music whilst making an honest living, busking on the streets full time. Before quitting his job, Tommy was sick of
Antony Genn, composer for Peaky Blinders, got the wheels moving for their fast track to fame. Tommy said, “He wanted to help us out because he said you guys are really tight… He kept saying I really like your vibe.” After giving him a bell to confirm how thrilled they’d be to work on their next album with him, Antony posed the idea that one of their tracks appear on a show he was working on for the BBC. “That sounds cool, I said, but I actually hadn’t heard of the Peaky Blinders before” Tommy admits. “It wasn’t until we went to the studio to record the track he picked from us that we realised how exciting it all was…that’s when things really started getting exciting for us” The track finally chosen to feature in series four of Peaky Blinders was ‘Lost’: 14
“It’s got quite a suspense dynamic, it’s kinda got that mission impossible kinda vibe.” It appeared to fit the show perfectly, as Tommy recalls, “He said there was a ‘Peaky vibe’ to it- and I kinda get that now” Shedding some light on the techniques of how TV shows, like Peaky Blinders, go about choosing music, award winning film and television producer Oliver Clark, says “The choice of music is vital… the music has to communicate the right thing to the audience, ultimately the music is there to serve a purpose”
just trying to write a guitar melody that would fit the kind of vibe, the feeling of being a bit lost
says “Music is used as a shortcut to audience emotions and the exact same scene can be
"there was a pe
As the duo consistently interweave meaning through their music, Tommy said: “I wrote it when a couple of my friends were going through a very dark time in their lives, and they just seemed lost. There was nothing I could do about it. It’s kinda saying ‘give me a reason to feel’ its kinda like tell me how to feel, tell me how to behave, tell me what I should do to get out of this hell hole that I’m in. “I wasn’t going to write any lyrics to begin with, but then Mary suggested I should. I didn’t want to write them because there was no kind of conversation, no way of understanding of them and what they were going through…I was
and not really knowing where its going, but also thinking maybe there is a way to break free from whatever it as they were suffering from.” ‘Lost’s’ exceptional reflection of emotion through both sound and sincerity is exactly why the song fit the Peaky Blinder bill, as Oliver
totally different with different music”. Ensuring it was extra Peaky Blinder-y though, a couple of tweaks were made in recording stages, as Tommy said “they asked me if I could slow it down a little bit at times and maybe mute the melody a little bit more just to make it 16
a bit more dynamic- so we worked on that for a little while too” Once the tweaks were complete,
family, although I don’t think it would’ve been picked for that reason… there is an element of
aky vibe to it"
Since then, Tommy and Mary’s life has been a frantic whirlwind, with more listeners than they’ve ever had before on Spotify, tonns more gigs, and E4 wanting to get in on the action too - but that’s top secret for now. Not only have the Midlands have helped put them on the map, but it appears the show has also inspired their upcoming music, as Tommy says “ We started writing a song, due to come out in a couple of months time, and it has got that kind of marching through the streets, things about to go bang type of sound, So unconsciously, maybe the show has influenced us a little bit.” Exciting stuff, but what’s next? After an electric year of excitement, Tommy simply says “We’re very VERY exhausted”.
Despite the songs initial intentions, Tommy is sure the message of the song resonates with the show: “It definitely fits because of the characters, the value of friendship and
rawness and fits in with the show quite well” After the song’s release on the show, the duo were full of emotion “It was all a bit scary at first… but just to be on the same playlist as some of the artists I’ve heard on the show, it’s just amazing, it’s such an honor”
Check out Tommy And Mary's latest music and news on their website: tommyandmary.co.uk
the job was a good’un, as Thomas Shelby would say.
The guys aren’t letting that stop them though, with promises of lots more gigs, lots more music videos, and a brand new album dropping later this year, Tommy and Mary have a blinder of a year ahead (excuse the pun).
Behind The Scenes at
Approaching The Sunflower Lounge, the street slightly run down and otherwise quiet, a jovial conversation is being carried through the air with laughter quickly following. Following the noise, I find myself in the smoking area of the venue, where the sun is setting, leaving a soft beam of light dancing across the inhabitant’s faces – cut through by the blaze on the end of their cigarettes.
“We all love music, it’s a bonding thing”
Meet District, a sixpiece jazz band that plays by their own rules – and also The Sunflower Lounge’s, apparently. No smoking signs litter the venue, and so do we, as we sit outside in the deceivingly cold March weather while
they make their way through a packet. Calming their nerves, I believe – though they disagree. They never get nervous, they say. Saxophonist, and the band’s lead, Lee Griffiths is the first to deny it; “playing our music brings us to life,” he says, “it isn’t scary – it’s as natural as breathing to us.” A team composed of Alex Astbury on trumpet, David Sear on trombone, Olly Chalk on piano, Aram Bahmie on bass and Dave Sugden on
Words by Megan Matthews
drums alongside Lee, the band met during their stint studying jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire. “We all kind of ended up together, in everything. Except for Sugden, he just sort of tagged along” Aram says laughing, dodging the drummer’s playful punch as he does. The group are best friends, and they move almost as one entity; weird inside jokes
We all kind of ended up together, in everything
and vaguely insulting banter fill the air with only slight room to breathe in between. The time moved smoothly, fingers numb and cigarettes balancing precariously between them until Lee’s alarm rings out– it’s 7pm. “Let’s go, grab your things lads.” Swiftly stubbing out their cigarettes, it’s time to take to the stage and suddenly they change – from strolling back into the venue, laughing
and joking, the boys were a far cry from the focused men that dominated the stage. Some weighed down by their instruments, and all of their faces stern with concentration, the gang’s eyes gave away their happiness.
preciated, the audience cheer tirelessly.
The stage is their home, and they’ve brought furniture.
“We all love music, it’s a bonding thing. Being out there with each other is the honestly just us hanging out, plus that way I don’t have to talk to these losers!”
An hour and a half of a musical hug later, the boys stumble off stage with beads of sweat glistening in the lights, their arms aching and lungs burning.Tired but ap-
“It’s so worth it even with the sore throats,” Alex croaks, pausing only to drown himself in a pint glass of water before chasing it with scotch – inexplicably sourced.
The boys’ laughter – albeit slightly breathless – roaringly takes place of
the jazz fusion that they played so well as they all walk. Wandering through the old building and along old hallways, over to their staging room to dump their instruments and regain their composure and relax. They’ve ran out of cigarettes, anyway. First to make their way into the room, Olly throws himself down on the sagging, stained couch in the corner. “Right boys,” he says, a mischievous glint in his eye “who’s for a pint?”
Is there a
gende in the Bi
Gender is one hell of a debate – it could go on for decades, probably a millennia, really but Dee Melhado is one badass bitch that is taking on that commitment. She’s angry, determined and full of estrogen and the Wolverhampton musician wants to bring awareness to the gender gap in the West Midlands.
An aim of shining a light on a topic that’s undeniably been in remission since the #MeToo movement, she – alongside her bandmates, of Birmingham based Kill Shade – is calling out the negative reputation that ‘being a girl can carry’. “Obviously with the 70s to 90s being dominated by like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, etcetera, it was and still
is a very male dominated industry,” she said, as she flicked a guitar pick back and forth between her fingers. “It’s now kind of like a unique selling point or a gimmick almost to have female guitarist who ‘plays like a man’ or a ‘girl drummer’. A lot of people tend to lose sight of the fact that literally anybody can play well and having tits doesn’t mean you should be au-
r gap rmingham Words by Megan Matthews
Scene tomatically expected to be bad at it.” Elizabeth Anne, a guitar teacher from Moseley, sees this stigma in her students:
anybody “ who attempts
to deny that “My female students there is a always end up second guessing themselves, de f inite they hide their talent because a lot of peo- gender gap is ple think they’re not going to be as good a liar as the guys.
“In reality, they’re often better.” To combat this anti-feminist movement, Dee is hosting a monthly open mic night for female bands and musicians to show off their skills. The event, ‘Tits for Tips’ is to have its debut at Hare & Hounds in Birmingham, May 20th. Be there, or be square.
Words by Megan Matthews
With hooks that bleed like psychedelic water colours, and a mindset that follows, Nonsuch are the latest to grace the West Midland’s music scene. Straight out of Moseley, the experimental foursome pioneer the alternative rock-psychedelic scene that, honestly, we didn’t know existed. “Whenever we talk to venues, it’s such a hassle. They’re like ‘wait, what do you play?’ It’s so hard because mate, we don’t know either!” said frontman Harry Jesse Charles, through his circular green-tinted glasses.
and Edward Sadowski on bass, coming together to form the thunder storm that they’ve become known for.
Think the pogues but with less drugs
The four met in college, filling their days skipping class and practicing in, drummer, Jacob Hall’s bedroom; “our parent’s hated getting the constant attendance letters from the school but it was totally an investment into our futures,” he said, his tone optimistic - though, a little sarcastic. The two are joined by Lewis Belcher on guitar
Follow up: The trance-inducing band will be at Shankra in Switzerland this July, so catch them there! Before that, a little birdy told us that the boys will be announcing a Midlands tour soon, to welcome the new album!
What once was a group of teenagers trying their hand at folk music quickly turned into a sound none of them had heard before. Lewis captured it best, when he said; “Think The Pogues but with less drugs and more really, really late nights. That’s us.” The accidentally 60’s inspired gang is set to release their first album come June, before going across to Shankra to absolutely demolish any residue of folk music. “Man,” Jacob laughed,looking around at the boys’ tie-dye shirts and floral jackets, “when we first started, we just wanted to be Snow Patrol. How’d we get here?”
What’s the d Pride is coming, oh boy, it is coming – and with it, the ten year anniversary of Birmingham’s Gay Symphony Orchestra. Ranging from a 30 to 60 piece extraordinaire, the revolutionists are the only Birmingham-based classical release for the LGBT community. “The LGBT scene in Birmingham and the West Midlands is an immensely diverse community, which isn’t always evident from the outside looking in,” said Kat Galbraith, the Chair of the volunteer run charity. “When people think of LGBT social scenes they tend to think of the bars and clubs, but not everyone who identifies as LGBT+ connects with that kind of scene.” The second chapter of the LGBT orchestra, after a successful conception in London, Kat explains that the group is more like a family than anything. Orchestra in residence at St Paul’s Church, the creative lot celebrate each other’s differences: “from a conservatoire-trained member spending an extra hour with someone quite new to their instrument to a vast organisation opening its doors to us, BGSO is a community orchestra in the very best possible sense.”
Ten years of spreading love and music, the self-funded charity had humble beginnings, with the founding members turning up to a cramped office space in Birmingham’s own Custard Factory. Deckchairs and a will to succeed, tempting melodies drifted through the industrial courtyard. “For the musicians involved it gave them a place to come together, play together and
have fun,” said Kat, grinning. “People who hadn’t played their instrument in years sat next to music students and professional players.” “We occasionally receive the odd comment on social media from those who say ‘why do you need a “gay” orchestra’ but we are open to all, and we are an orchestra that has a home in one community but serves everyone
"We are a gay orchestra as we are a Birmingham orchestra - we don’t mind who you are or where you come from.” 26
LGBT Music? who we encounter. “We have members who identify as straight, lesbian, gay, pansexual, queer, trans and more, we don’t ask how you identify when you join, we only ask that you embrace our values and outlook.
“We are a gay orchestra as we are a Birmingham orchestra - we don’t mind who you are or where you come from.” A place to call home, the orchestra is fully inclusive and has plans to grow over the next ten years. For
Words by Megan Matthews
now though, they invite you to join them on June 16th at The Royal Conservatoire to celebrate their birthday. Details both of their anniversary concert and of joining the team can be found on their website BGSO.org.uk. What’re you waiting for?
In the Eagle and Tun, the pints are flowing just as freely as the mischievous chuckles from the sticky round table in the corner. Sitting elbow to elbow, sardonic insults and sharp witted innuendos dart from victim to victim. They’re a cutthroat bunch, causing the odd rosy cheek or two. But despite their boisterous bubble, the guys from MARC are completely and utterly harmless. With their friendship bound tight, and united affinity to making relatable and catchy music for the West Midlands audience and beyond, MARC are ones to keep an eye on this summer.
Robin, as Marc describes “I couldn’t have a band without Lewis being the drummer… he’s insane.”
with the band, giggling, “I’m a bit of a bloke anyway, so I don’t mind… I’m used to it by now”.
Beginning as a two-piece, it took performing at some open mic nights to remember that sometimes, the more the merrier. Constructing the team, they recruited: the charmingly timid, flame haired guitarist, Alex, the less flamey but equally as curly bassist, Jaren, and the radiant social butterfly of a backing singer, Molly, the band was complete. “The aim,” Marc jibes “was basically to get as many people around us so we didn’t sound as bad as we did that open mic night”.
One thing the band is yet to get used to though is the band’s name MARC, named, of course, after Marc himself. “I thought it was a joke at first” laughed Molly, shortly followed by Lewis explaining “When he’s not around you think ‘oh that’s a shit name’
Despite the severe influx of testosterone, Molly promises that she feels right at home
With such a low maintenance, yet incredibly dynamic relationship between the guys, it’s difficult to believe that some of them were only introduced to each other at the beginning of 2018. The band is built on some pretty strong foundations though, with both Lewis and Marc being besties since Paul’s Boutique was a thing. Marc poses as leader of the pack, the frontman, the guy with all the jokes, and all the eccentricity that goes with it (cue that fluffy leopard print coat.) Luckily, right hand man Lewis keeps him and the others well grounded, and most importantly, keeps that jacket well at the back of the wardrobe. They’re the Batman and 28
but then when you ask him to change it, he reminds you why it’s called Marc and you think ‘oh ok, that’s not bad’”. When asked to expand, Marc simply replied, “you’re always on the clock”. Reflecting on how band members come and go, Marc wants to ensure his music always has a place, no matter what. You could liken
Words by Beth Judge
the scenario to the Sugababes, I guess. Against the potential to rock the boat a little with the name, the band is remarkably settled as Lewis reinforces “I think we all get on really well, and we’re all on the same wave length”. They describe their commitment and drive to be successful, but also how their sense of fun keeps it fresh, as Marc explains “We’ll go for a band meeting at Weatherspoons, which is basically an excuse for a breakfast and a beer”.
When describing their influencers though, Alex discusses that they’re a pretty mixe bag. From Catfish and the Bottlemen to Muse, and from Kasabian to Led Zeplen, Marc describes the importance to make timeless music, he says:
My Parents Will Be Living With Me For The Next 30 years
“You start to realise that people play music to satisfy their own needs, but no one else can relate to that….we’re trying to write songs people relate to and feel good about singing, because they’re catchy and they relate to being a teenager growing up in somewhere like Birmingham or Wolverhampton.” The band’s prime principles are undoubtedly mirrored within their very first single ‘She’s a Ten’. It’s an indie rock track, yet pays homage to the Motley Crew and 80’s Glam Rock, with infectious lyrics and a funky come and go cowbell. Moving forward from producing their first track though, MARC’s main focus for the now is just to keep busy, says Lewis. This month they’ve gigs lined up across the West Midlands, including their debut single release at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham on the 18th. It might just be the beginning for MARC, but the band strive for a successful career in music, as Marc bluntly scoffs “It’s either this, or my parents are going to be living with me for the next 30 years”. 29
A Birmingham based charity has opened 12-year-old Cian Boyle’s eyes to music. A charity that aims to give those with upper limb disabilities the chance to play standard musical instruments, OHMI adjusts the instruments for their individual needs. “In terms of organisations that work with standard instruments, we’re it, in the whole world” says Rachel Wolffsohn, the general manager at OHMI. Inclusion is at the heart of OHMI’s aspirations, eliminating the stigma around disability, and ensuring that everybody can enjoy music, just as it should be enjoyed, as Rachel continues
for is if you can create an instrument that can do everything then you don’t need different repertoire, you don’t need different exam route, or different assessment or material.”
ham City Centre, and immediately fell in love with playing the trumpet
Cian is a prime example of how organisations like this, prioritising the accessibility of the arts to the disabled, can make a massive impact.
Cian’s trumpet is
“The music hooked me in,” he said, excited to talk about his hobby.
wishes, as Rachel says “Where we’re working with children in Birmingham at the moment, they’re having lessons through the normal process, and now in standard music ensembles… If you give a child the opportunity to be just like its peers and friends, it can do wonders for their self esteem…just being able to do a normal thing with everybody else…that is a huge thing”
“Don’t be scared about getting involved”
Cian, from Winston Green, has Cerebral Palsy which affects his movements and co-ordination. After his primary school put his mum in touch with OHMI, he attended one of the practice sessions in Birming-
exactly the same as any other trumpet yet a stand cleverly attached to the bottom takes some of the trumpet’s weight, making it easier for Cian to play. Because the trumpet is standardised, Cian has the freedom to play with any orchestra he
Sharon Morby, Cian’s mum, captioned her delight over her son’s new- found passion and confidence: “Now I get to see what Cian can actually do… as soon as the children go play
“What we’re aiming
IN THE MUSIC
INDUSTRY Beginning to learn an instrument can be scary enough without not being able to use the instrument easily. A brave 12 year old boy is conquering the trumpet now, with the help of a Birmingham based charity.
a concert, they’re exactly the same as everybody else… because he can do this, he’s now much more confident in other things too.” Cian agrees with his mum, he said: “I have problem with the co-ordination of my hands leaving me isolated…I have played my trumpet in front of my whole primary school which amazed my school friends and made me feel so proud.” No doubt is Cian a success story, with his new-found talent taking him to new heights, performing at the likes of The House of Lords, these stories are sadly fewer and further between. Wiith the huge cost price and low
accessibility of these instruments causing a massive impact on aspiring musicians.
though that the need for disability specific instruments is misunderstood
“The new recorder designed is about £340 a pop… so [the accessability] is a massive problem right now” Rachel admits.
“Because music isn’t something you need to survive, people turn a blind eye to it… but it gives people confidence to believe that they can do things”
With emerging technologies like 3D printing, though, specialist musical instruments could become much more common, especially within the West Midlands. With Birmingham City University working on creating a much cheaper recorder, which is estimated to be roughly £60-£100. “It’s better than £340, but sadly still not as good as the £5 one you can get from anywhere” says Rachel. Sharon agrees
Moving forward into the future, Rachel is hopeful that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and able to give more people like Cian the opportunity to get involved in music. “In five years time, I’d hope that people become aware that there are options and less happy to settle for a solution that isn’t going to give that child fair access” “We’re a long way off, but if we can make
them more affordable, gradually those with disabilities playing instruments will increase, and gradually the message gets out there, it needn’t stop you.” Luckily, Cian is working on raising the exposure of disability in the music industry too, saying: “I’d like to push forward with the trumpet in the future, not just use it as a hobby… my disability doesn’t matter as much now.” Cian has some advice for other children with a disability wanting to learn to play an instrument? Simply: “Don’t be scared about getting involved, because although it might be difficult at first it will all become clear in the end.” 31
Musician’s Choice: How to get over stage fright
Stage fright is something that many a musician deals with, Motörhead even released a DVD concert named it - but how do you get over it? Well, some of Birmingham’s best are here to help!
“Get all of the nervous energy out of you in the first five minutes, then you can enjoy the rest of the set”
“Embrace the nerves, they give you a bit of a sweaty glow, which in the right light looks absolutely bang on.”
- Marc Bradley
- Veronica Torkes
“Don’t picture them in their underwear, whatever you do. The best bet is to find a spot on the wall behind them all”
- Felicity Evans
“Imagine they’re all your mum, how’s your mum gonna judge you? She won’t, she’ll make you brew and tell ya she loves you.” - Harry Charles
“Honestly, nothing really works except practice but what I tend to do is just get outrageously drunk.”
- Dee Melhado
“Find somewhere you feel your best, whether it’s a particular venue, a particular song or even a specific outfit, and you’ll feel better.” “Just pretend that you’re not scared, it’s what - Molly Seabream works for me. Fake it until you make it honey, y’know?”
- Jack Cattell 32
On the 30th of June 2018, our beloved Flapper is set to open its doors for the final time, leaving both a hole in our hearts, and the Birmingham music scene. Here’s some of the venues biggest fan’s contributions to Track Ramblers very own Flapper Obituary.
“…Shame t hey’r “Saying good bye to e knocking it down . It’s a The Flapper one last great venue.” time.,. let’s have a -@liamhenr ymu blast. X” sic -@mikeylordasf “Why are more venues like The Flapper in Birmingham closing, its always a sad sight to see. We need to protect our live music venues!” - @bethwelshwonder
t o Biru o y k c u “A big f y C ouncil is C it mingham ht on behal f onig in order t ho l oves The ew of ever yon er <3” F lapp NailsUK d n A d o o - @W 33
It 's written in the stars... It’s probably not, but worth a read anyway.
According to Jupiter, you’re impulsive anyway so you might as well accept it and follow your intense impulse to play the twelve neck guitar.
May is the month your stars are aligned most accurately. Now is the time to be bold, independent, and push your boundaries. Now is the time, to play the recorder.
Your worst trait is that you’re indecisive so let the stars take control and guide you towards your destiny of being a one man band.
gLibra It’s a stressful month for you, and important that you relieve that stress. Perhaps join forces with your favourite Sagittarius and listen to some sweet country music.
According to the stars, you’re well sexual. How’s about you give the sax ago, first song to learn: Careless Whisper.
b Taurus Your stars are aligning with Jupiter this month, meaning there’s not much else to do but to give the kazoo a go.
e Leo Scorpio, you’re fierce, sassy, and everything in between. Channel your inner seniorita and play those castanets, bitch.
h Scorpio Some might say you’re a chatterbox, others might say you just need to shut up. Either way, you should channel all that extra breath into playing the bagpipes.
Mercury is in retrograde again, causing a complexity in your stars. You’re tense AF. Use this time to push your creativity to a new level. Perhaps take up the accordian!
Being deemed the most intelligent of the signs, its obvious everyone’s jealous of you. But imagine how cool and popular you’d be if you played the keytar?!?!
As a Sagittarius, you love to travel and are incredibly curious, a match made in heaven really, since the perfect instrument for you is the didgery doo.
i Sagittarius You’re feeling totes emosh right now, you can blame Pluto for that. Maybe you should channel your misery into the violin. You sad, sad oaf.
l Pisces 34
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??
Take the quiz to find out which Brummie band you’re most like
Big hair and a seductive stare You’re going to Snobs, right?
It’s a BIG night out on the town, and you’re out to impress. What are you wearing?
Pina-Colada or an ice cold beer?
It’s 5am, ready for bed yet?
Back out again next weekend?
Watch your Snapchat in horror Cool, but what’s your favourite animal?
Heading off to Uprawr then? Nah
It’s the morning after the night before, what’s the first thing you do?
Burger and bed pls
You say no but you mean yes
All black everythaaang
Pity yourself Back out again next weekend? You say no but you mean yes
BLACK SABBATH (The Ozzy days, Oz course)
You’re fit but you knew that. Honey, even that Brummie accent cant stop you *inserts sassy painted nail emoji here*.
Is your name Rio? And do you dance on the sand? No? Well that’s a shame, because we think you would’ve fit right in with these guys.
Wanna be just like Ozzy? We’ll book you in for your Tetnus jab now then shall we? We heard the bats taste great this time of year. 35
FIND OUT WHAT’S CHANGING IN JACK CATTEL’S LIFE - IT’S A BIG us a secret! ld o t e H ‘UN! hhh!
A third-year project for two BCU students. Written, designed and compiled by Bethany Judge and Megan Matthews