DRAWSTRING, CITIZEN, BOSTON MANOR, KNUCKLE PUCK, AND MORE...
Drawstring are a three piece band from Kent, UK. They’ve toured all over the UK and EU, and are slowly working their way to the forefront of the UK scene. Here’s an interview with Ben Schulze (drummer and vocals).
So first of all how did drawstring all begin? It started in Sam’s old bedroom. Me and Sam began discovering a lot of America DIY emo/ indie rock bands when we were supposed to be doing our GCSEs. I think we both just wanted to do something different from our current band at the time. We figured it would be a lot easier to write better songs with just the two of us (which it was). We recorded our first ever demos on logic I think and then recorded our first EP with Ricky and not long after played our first show at Poco Loco in Rochester.
You guys have been on many tours in the UK and Europe could you name some of your favourite shows you’ve played and why? I think one of my favourite shows I’ve played to date was our third show in Berlin, where about 60 people turned up in this pretty small basement and it just surprised me that people had come just for us. Another good one would be our first show in Leipzig, again another packed out basement show where we were fed amazingly (European venues are always a lot more hospitable towards bands/show-goers than UK ones). We’ve played some really great shows in UK as well though. For example, we recently played in Dover with TTNG who are very well respected in the UK scene and for us to play with them was really humbling. We’ve played some great shows in Bristol, Leeds and Brighton. We’re lucky to have so many friends around the UK and EU who are always willing to put us on for a rock show.
Of course when listening to all of your EP’s all the way through you can definitely tell that there is a distinctive “drawstring sound” but how would you describe your development as a band? I would say the first EP is arguably one of our strongest releases because we still play songs off that one on all our tours. The second one was weird. I really like it but I think maybe the songs aren’t as fun to play live as the others. The third one was the really different one where we started making things a lot more ‘rockier’ but kept that light-heartedness with ‘clubhouse’ and I think we always seem to do that. We’ll have one or two songs that are a lot more happy than the others e.g. Melon and Cool off the album and Lovin’ off the latest EP. I think the album helped us understand how to write something slightly longer. I don’t think it’s our strongest release but I do know that it really helped us look at our songwriting a lot more for ‘Four’. I see Four as the follow-up to Three (obviously haha) but sonically it’s pretty different. It’s more story-based and the lyrics are definitely a lot more intense than anything I’ve written before. To sum up, I would say that our song writing has definitely developed as well as our musicianship over the past two years just from writing so many songs.
Drawstring have had the opportunity to go overseas on tour, unlike other bands within the scene. What was it like planning your first EU tour? And now in 2018 what’s it like to know you have fans outside of the UK? Did you ever think that was a possibility for drawstring?
Yeah we’re very lucky that our friends in Coloured in decided to take us out there when we’d only played 2 or 3 shows as a band at that point. Booking our first one was actually quite easy. We went out with Watching Tides and we booked half of the shows and they booked the other half. We had already made friends/contacts from our first tour and we were very grateful when old friends wanted to put us on again because they enjoy our music that much. I honestly had no idea that we would tour as much as we did last year and the year before. I thought it was possible we could go on tour (after we’d played quite a few shows) but I think because we’d already been playing a lot of shows with our old band we were used to how opportunities work. We just grabbed every opportunity we could and made an unbelievable amount of new friends by doing so. Definitely the best decision ever was saying yes to Coloured In when they asked us if we wanted to tour Europe with them. How would you describe the UK DIY scene today compared to when you first started, is there anything you would change? In the 4 years that I’ve been “a part” of it, a lot has changed. There’s been a huge shift where people have started caring a lot less about the music and a lot more about who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. I write songs about personal experiences, sex, relationships, partying etc.
And there’s other people in the scene that write songs about slightly more sensitive topics like gender-equality, feminism (just a couple of examples) and these bands raise awareness about these things....which is really great to hear and makes me feel positive when I listen to them. What doesn’t make me feel positive is when these bands start preaching about their ideologies. It just reminds me of going to church which bores me. If I was to compare it to religion, I would say that obviously anyone can believe what they want to believe but when you start throwing it in people’s faces and make them feel bad about their decisions...that’s when you’ve got a problem. And I would say that that’s a problem in the UK DIY scene at the moment. It used to just be a bit more chilled out.
Phew get a bit carried away sometimes! Okay last generic band interview question: where do you see drawstring as a band in the future? Hopefully doing some bigger tours. We’ve always been aiming for that and I think we just haven’t quite got the management/ label contacts yet. We’re pretty happy doing it DIY for a few more years as long as we can see that the shows are getting better and our music is (fingers crossed) getting better. We’re going to start writing again at some point, not sure which direction we’ll be going next but it should be fun.
BAND TATTOOS Band tattoos as much as your parents might hate them, are a huge part of the ‘pop punk culture’. Thousands of people have a tribute to their favourite band, song or album on their body and here’s some of the editors top picks for this weeks issue.
So, what do you think? Would you ever be brave enough to have a band tattoo? Is this the ultimate act of devotion to a band? Our favourite at Music Base is The Story So Far’s ‘What You Don’t See’ album cover on James Watkins.
CITIZEN AS YOU PLEASE GRANT RINDNER
On ‘As You Please’, Citizen continue to prove that they’re a group committed to tweaking and developing their sound. This third album is more about personal turmoil than political protest, but the quintet’s Midwestern origins do provide an additional level of grounding resonance to the record’s more open-ended, existential questions and scenes. Their brand of emotive rock has always excelled at capturing that ‘Where do we go from here?’ feeling of waywardness, and ‘As You Please’ manages to do that well throughout. Citizen don’t rely on the quintessential wall of sound approach, and in addition to a strong mix of dynamic variety there are some smart production flourishes, like the way the outro vocals on ‘In the Middle of It All’ grow choppier and more stilted as the songs winds to a close, or the fuzzy, spacious breakdown on the title track that’s punctured by high, whistling feedback. While there are a handful of sprawling, big picture songs like ‘World’ and ‘Jet’, one of the best moments here is the intimate, piano-centric ‘Discrete Routine’. While vocalist Mat Kerekes is capable of underscoring his more opaque lyrics with his soaring, full-throated delivery, he excels on this more demure track, stretching into his upper register atop kinetic drumming from Jake Duhaime; the song itself feels like a heavier, muddier version of ‘Hummingbird’-era Local Natives. Citizen haven’t mellowed per se, the emotion on ‘As You Please’ is as grand and raw as ever, but they have refined their delivery, and their latest album manages not to shortchange that underlying sentiment while expanding their sonic palette.
has always had a plucky likability to KNUCKLE PUCK it,Pop-punk but often finds itself unable to really shine. Whilst the underground is alive and well, there SHAPESHIFTER are few stand out bands that can draw others
to the genre, and amongst the few, KNUCKLE PUCK find themselves atop the pack. Taking in elements of emo and even post-hardcore, the Chicago troupe pack their second album with as much as they can to show they’ve moved on from their excellent debut.
Shapshifter starts off in a far more sombre and deliberate way as opposed to Copacetic. Nervous Passenger and Twist open the record, and whilst the latter has a good level of energy, it lacks the memorability that sets KNUCKLE PUCK‘s best songs apart from the rest. The punk rock drive of Double Helix kicks the record up a gear before the first highlight Gone swings for the rafters. The song is drenched in emotion tinged with optimism, whilst the massive chorus cements this as some of the bands best output. There is a clear progression from Copacetic to Shapeshifter, with a lot of the music this time round feeling more well realised. Taking a step back from writing bouncing, stereotypical pop-punk songs has allowed KNUCKLE PUCK to stretch their musical wings whilst utilising good structure to give their songs memorability. There is a sense of maturity on Shapeshifter that replaces the lovable naivety of Copacetic, with the final three songs this time round providing a gentle and moving finale to an album that modestly shows KNUCKLE PUCK to be a band with true potential. Shapeshifter does feel somewhat unbalanced, and the pacing of the record Is something that does come into play. With the opening two songs failing to live up to quality of the rest of the album, it takes some time before KNUCKLE PUCK begin to display what makes them such a promising young act. There are some truly exceptional moments on Shapeshifter, but it does lack the consistency that came with their debut. However, with the clear influences from a number of genres, the resulting and progressing sound is a moving and grabbing noise from a EDDIE SIMMS genre that often gets stuck in its own motions.
RECORD STORE DAY Record Store Day 2018 took place on the 21st April. Record Store Day is the one day of the year when over 200 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion. Thousands more shops celebrate the day around the globe in whatâ€™s become one of the biggest annual events on the music calendar. Although thereâ€™s only one Record Store Day a year, we also work throughout the year to celebrate our independent record stores by spotlighting exclusive releases, events and special news. Independent record shops like Banquet Records, Kingston UK have queues outside their shop from the night (or in some cases 2 nights) before the store opens for record store day. Record store day has limited releases and rare varients vinly form different artists. This is like chrostmas for record collectors across the UK. Banquet records have left over records go live on their webiste. This is still a major event as they post warnings on all of their social media about how slow the website will get and give advise to people attemtping to get themselves a record. https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2018/
BOSTON MANOR Boston Manor is a pop punk band from Blackpool, England, signed to Pure Noise Records. Established in early 2013, the band blend emo, hardcore and pop punk with brutally honest and sincere vocals. The band released their debut EP ‘Here/Now’ in 2013, followed by a split 7” with Throwing Stuff later in the same year. Their second EP ‘Driftwood’, was released through Failure By Design records in 2014. After signing to Pure Noise Records, the band released the ‘Saudade’ EP in November 2015, whilst their album ‘Be Nothing.’ will be released on the 30th September 2016. The band has toured with the likes of As It Is, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Forever Came Calling, Moose Blood, Seaway and This Wild Life Henry Cox - Vocals Dan Cunniff - Bass Mike Cunniff - Guitars Jordan Pugh - Drums Ash Wilson - Guitars
YEARS ACTIVE 2013 – present (5 years)
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS 1 in 4 people in the UK will have a mental illness in their lifetime. According to Samaritans the number of suicides in the UK has risen, and male suicide at a 14 year high. Suicide rates within young people is rising as well. More and more people are using music as a sense of escapism and no genres are helping more it seems than pop punk, metal and emo. Pop punk’s joyous roots in sunny days and pizza is still an important cornerstone of the genre, but its ability to connect with fans at a deeper level and actually help people is something that other genres should take note of. As a genre it sometimes gets ridiculed for being immature and novelty; yet give it a closer look and its songwriters tread where mainstream artists never go. The Wonder Years’ trio of albums ‘The Upsides’, ‘Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I Am Nothing’ and ‘The Greatest Generation’ are a soundtrack to those feeling isolated, scared, lonely and nervous. A holy trinity of albums that cemented The Wonder Years as one of the biggest bands in pop punk. However their latest release (2015’s ‘No Closer To Heaven’) touches on content far deeper. A homage to the hardship that lead singer, Dan Campbell, faced in between recording with a friend’s suicide that hit him particularly hard. ‘Cardinals’ mentions regret of ignoring friends when they need you most, ‘Cigarettes & Saints’ imagines putting yourself into the shoes of someone on the edge of taking their own lives in 5 minutes of “hairs-on-the-back-of-our neck-standing-up” vigour, ‘You In January’ reminisces of the lost people that made you great and ‘Stained Glass Ceiling’ speaks of annoyance to this unfair world with an angry crescendo from letlive’s Jason Butler.