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4 T H E M AC CA B E ES 7 C I T Y G U I D ES … M AT T M A LT ES E 8 CHILDHOOD 10 C H LO E H OW L 11 WA X A H ATC H E E 12 G L ASTO N BU RY 2017 20 BA D SO U N DS 22 T H U M P E RS 23 A DAY I N T H E L I F E O F… M I L K T E ET H 24 D O RK L I V E 25 BA N G E RS 26 CA L E N DA R 28 C O N N ECT I O N HYPE 30 F R A N C O BO L LO 31 SW I M M I N G G I RLS F E AT U RES 32 D EC L A N M C K E N N A 38 LU CY ROS E 40 B RO K E N SO C I A L SC E N E 42 M U R A M ASA 46 M R J U K ES 48 T H E AVA L A N C H ES REV I E WS 52 A RCA D E F I RE 53 DA N C RO L L 5 4 T H E D I ST RI CTS 5 6 D EC L A N M C K E N N A 58 HAIM 59 RO C K W E RC H T E R 6 0 PA R A M O RE 6 2 A LT-J A N Y OT H E R Q U EST I O N S ? 6 6 W I L L J OS E P H C O O K
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UPDATE IF IT’S NOT IN HERE, IT’S NOT HAPPENING. OR WE FORGOT ABOUT IT. ONE OR THE OTHER.
et’s take a millennial testwhat do The Maccabees mean to you? Maybe you had your heart broken to ‘No Kind Words’, patched it back up with ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ or simply had an amazing summer pissing about with your mates to the sound of ‘About Your Dress’. Whatever the sentiment, something about the group’s wide-eyed depiction of youth captured hearts with a kindness and vulnerability most bands are afraid to express. Even while the music matured, the sentiment was always the same; this was a gang who’d make sure that you’d grow up alright. 14 years into their career, tonight’s final ever Maccabees show takes place at the fittingly epic Alexandra Palace, just shy of a year since they first announced the decision to pull things to a close. Whether it’s the time that has passed or the overwhelming turnout to the tour, the evening has an air of the all-or-nothing about it – there is simply no other option for both band and fan than to put every ounce of what they have into this final dance. As a result, The Maccabees have never sounded better. Opening with fan favourite ‘Wall Of Arms’, Brothers White thrash their guitars with ecstasy while Orlando lets every word linger in his delicate delivery, hanging onto the notes as if savouring how they taste in his mouth for one last time. Punctuated by only small murmurs of thanks and the roar of the crowd, it feels surreal to bid such familiar songs adieu one by one – ‘Latchmere’, ‘X-Ray’, ‘Precious Time’…even a spine-tinglingly rare outing of ‘Lego’ that sees Weeks’ jaw tremble during a particularly cruel lyric; ‘Cross the road and say goodbye/there wasn’t a dry eye’.
FAREWELL SWEET PRINCES AND SO, BRITISH INDIE ROYALTY THE MACCABEES REACH THE END OF THE ROAD. JENESSA WILLIAMS TOOK TO LONDON’S ALEXANDRA PALACE FOR THEIR FINAL STAND. PHOTOS: TOM PULLEN.
We all have to grow up eventually, and as the evening draws to its unfortunate close, Felix takes upon the necessary speech, thanking ‘everybody who’s ever looked after us’ before beckoning some ‘special people who’ve joined us on this journey’ to the stage. Cue a trip right back to 2007 – Mystery Jets and Jack Peñate crowd on stage to bellow along to ‘Something Like Happiness’, a newer track but one that beautifully summarises tonight’s understanding that all good things must come to an end. It’s a euphoric closer to the main set, confetti cannons streaming as they visibly struggle to keep it together for the final stretch. The last leg is a thriller. A riotous take on ‘Marks To Prove It’ (featuring old pal Jamie T), an emotional double-header of ‘First Love’/’Toothpaste Kisses’ and the head rush of ‘Pelican’, and it’s suddenly all over. A thank you beams wide across the stage, bows are taken and then they are gone, the only remnant a sweat-drenched floor and the refrain of ‘Something Like Happiness’ picking up again for it’s final chorus, carried like a football chant across the city by the leaving hordes; ‘You just know when you know, you just know’. All in attendance have been gifted the fondest of farewells – Maccabees, you will be missed. P
BLAENAVON One of the biggest venues in London is no trouble for our Blaeners, as they support Alt-J at The O2. See more on readdork.com now.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett
THE O2, LONDON
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SW E ET TO U RE R Lovely Will Joseph Cook will head out on a tour of the UK later this year, with a run that kicks off on 17th October in Brighton. He’s also at a bunch of festivals over the summer, including Secret Garden Party, Truck and Reading & Leeds. Will’s excellent debut album, ‘Sweet Dreamer’ is out now.
10/ 10 Queens of the Stone Age have made their own trading cards, featuring both artwork and facts about each member of the band. In case you were wondering, Josh Homme’s favourite colour is “plaid”. Check them out on readdork.com. Seventh album, ‘Villains’ is out on 25th August.
O N SO U T H E AST LO N D O N MATT MALTESE HAS A LOT OF GOOD MATES IN A LOT OF GOOD BANDS, ALL IN HIS ADOPTED HOME OF SOUTH EAST LONDON.
’ve only lived in South East a few years, so in reality, I am a fraud, but here are some things about South East London that keep me wanting to inhabit the big bad city.
The surf jelly rock of Jerkcurb, an amazing illustrator artist who lives a few streets down from me.
GO DEEPER Remember Friends? No, not that Friends. The buzztastic band of the same name. Course you do. Samantha Urbani’s been providing us with a slow drip of solo material since their split. Now, we’re getting a new EP, ‘Policies Of Power’, due later this year. But you don’t have to wait that long – you can hear a track from it now. The six minute ‘Go Deeper’ is an absolute bop; check it out on readdork.com.
A very special musician/producer, who I met at a gig in Peckham and who ended up producing my first EP. A fuggingenie. I’ve also discovered bands through nights I’ve played with the promoters Black Cat White Cat. They’ve been there with me since the dawn of time, and are an invaluable part of all the music going on here. They put on strange, amazing line-ups, and they’ve personally made a huge difference to what kind of musician I’ve become.
SMASHING The Smashing Pumpkins’ original line-up may be getting back together in 2018. Speaking to WGN Radio, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin seems to be suggesting plans are afoot for something big: “We were talking about playing next year with the band,” he reveals. The original line-up hasn’t performed together since 1999. HMLTD
Most importantly, they’ve introduced me to many formidable bands.
I met these guys at a Black Cat White Cat gig I played a year ago. After many stained (sorry) Shame nights I’ve since become friends with them. James, their brilliant guitarist, played on my song ‘As The World Caves In’ too. They are very (very) good.
My dear friends making twisted, angry, sad songs. We’ve played many shows together, and I am always in awe watching them. RIP fish long live SORRY.
Brilliant rock’n’roll band I played a show at Montague Arms with in December. Lyrics with wit, and kooky melodies. FYI I’m force fed porridge in this very good video of theirs by Holly Whitaker. Top dollar stuff!
Five great smart dudes I cross paths with amongst the beloved SE. I recently saw them play in Reading. It was damn brilliant. + Dead Pretties, Hotel Lux, Milk Disco, Cosmo Pyke... I could go on and on. Publications like So Young have also made a huge difference to chronicling and promoting good music in this whole area. And venues like The Windmill are a huge reason good bands that stray off the beaten path have places to play too. Without them, the musical landscape would be far worse off - mark my puny words. Besides music, the South East has many fine ‘Spoons pubs. The Kentish Drovers in Peckham, Fox on the Hill in Camberwell and The Rockingham Arms in Elephant and Castle. All perfect locations to be pathetic and waste away a Tuesday. P 7
MUM’S THE WORD CHILDHOOD’S SECOND ALBUM WASN’T EASY: “I WAS SO OVERWHELMED I ALMOST STOPPED CHALLENGING MYSELF,” FRONTMAN BEN ROMANS-HOPCRAFT EXPLAINS. THANKFULLY HE PUSHED THROUGH TO CREATE THEIR MOST HONEST RECORD YET - WITH A BIT OF HELP FROM HIS MUM.
Hey Ben, how’s life? Yeah, life is pretty alright. Definitely doing more musical things than at any other point in my life, so can’t complain. It’s been three years since ‘Lacuna’ how did you find releasing Childhood’s debut? What did you learn from it all? Yeah, it’s been a while. I found it to be a unique experience. First time I ever put out a record for public consumption, so it was both nerveracking and thrilling. I learnt to not rest on your laurels. When we finished our first record, I was so relieved and overwhelmed I almost stopped challenging myself musically. I find it’s better to be unsatisfied than satisfied by yourself. What have you been up to since that album’s release? A lot of normal and abnormal things. I spent a good amount of time at home, living with my mum which was nice. I began listening to a lot of the records that inspired ‘Universal High’ there, which was great. I established a system where if I felt my mum was satisfied, so was I. Been working on some adventurous stuff with one of my band’s named Warmduscher over last summer, and recorded an album with my pal Saul from Fat Whites under the name Insecure Men. At what point did you start working on ‘Universal High’? Where did you
begin? I can’t remember exactly when we started. It took me a while to work out what direction the record should go in. There was a lot of writing for writing’s sake. However, none of the real early stuff represented what the album sounds like. I guess I began being brutally honest about what turned me on musically and what music I was seriously getting into. Since most of ‘Lacuna’ was made years before it was released, by LP2, we had changed so much. However much I love ‘Lacuna’, I knew there was no way we could fake continuing the vibe on that record as it wouldn’t have felt honest. To me, our first record represented a formative time for us as musicians growing up in the world. I’m grateful as it took me where I wanted to get to, which is a solid understanding of what this band should be now. You’ve said your new album signifies change - what’s changed for you guys? What’s changed is that we have an acute understanding of what music should represent us as people. I guess we’ve always enjoyed the psychedelic side of guitar music, yet we’ve also been mad fans of pop songwriting and the soul behind what makes such music so special. Rather than mask emotions, with this record, we wanted to be more honest and transparent with what is truly behind the song.
Where did you look for inspiration while writing the album? A lot of it was back to basics stuff. Plenty of days I’d just look out my window in my mum’s flat and see the same old people I’ve seen all my life. I’d see kids getting up to no good, grannys hobbling to garbage bins, shifty characters doing the same shit they always have. Sounds a bit corny, but I felt like this landscape reflected my true existence, and started thinking a soundtrack to this monotony feels right. Big swirling guitars didn’t seem the right fit. However, the more soulful music that was blasting out my mum’s radio and always has been, seemed appropriate both socially and contextually. So I started digging around, listening to the likes of Gil Scott, Al Green or the Jones Girls and actually began finding similarities between that sound and some of the stuff we’ve kind of attempted in the past. Was there anything specific you set out the achieve with ‘Universal High’? I think we wanted to have a specific sound that was more cohesive and honest. A lot of the songs on the last record had great sentiments but sometimes were mystified by our intentions as a band. We had clear pop moments, sometimes huge psychedelic outpours and other times dreamy reverb songs. It was great tending to all these elements we enjoyed in guitar music. However,
it lacked a true identity. I think ‘Universal High’ shows intent and suggests we have a bit more emotion than a blazing guitar riff. You’ve spent time co-producing and co-writing with other musicians, does that influence seep its way into your own work? Writing with Saul helped me. He’s got a serious dedication to all kinds of music. It gave me the confidence to realise that a raw emotion you’re looking for can be wrapped up inside of seemingly opposing genres of music. I guess not having any fear and embracing what you like regardless, was key for me. What’s your favourite thing about being a musician? Has it changed over the years? Yeah, it has. My favourite thing used to be playing live and partying in the early days. Now I’m solely interested in songwriting. It fascinates me constantly, and there’s always stuff to learn. However, I still love playing live. What do you have planned for over the summer? You’re back here for Latitude, right? Yeah, we’re doing our fair share of festivals and, yes, coming back to Latitude which we’re all really looking forward too. P Childhood’s new album ‘Universal High’ is out 21st July.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF...
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YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS WANT AN END TO AUSTERITY. QUITE RIGHT TOO. PHOTOS: JENNIFER MCCORD
arlier this month (1st July) a mass demonstration took place across London, protesting austerity and Conservative leader Theresa May’s coalition with the pro-life and antiLGBT rights Democratic Unionist Party.
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To kick things off, Dork faves Peace, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., The Rhythm Method and Wolf Alice all performed sets on the back of a truck at Broadcasting House before the march headed off to Parliament Square. And of course, Wolf Alice got involved in a few “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” chants. There was also a cover of Carole King‘s ‘Way Over Yonder‘, because “all of our songs are too miserable and angry, we need to play something positive,” Ellie explained, “if the people are united, they will never be divided.” “Theresa May can find an extra £1Billion for the DUP but can’t find the money to properly fund our NHS, or for decent housing, education and secure jobs for the rest of us,” she added. “What’s become blatantly clear is austerity is an idealogical choice, not a necessity. It’s time for a change and this demonstration is just the start of a huge campaign that won’t stop until the greedy Tories are out of office.” P
NEW YORK NEW YORK We’ve been waiting for new material from St Vincent for ages now – but we need wait no more! It’s here! ‘New York’ is the first taster of new material as we wait patiently for her next album. We say patiently – the jumping up and down with excitement is entirely involuntary. We just can’t help it. Annie’s also recently announced the Fear the Future Tour, which kicks off in London at the O2 Academy Brixton on 17th October.
SOUND TH E ALARMS!
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ack in 2013, Chlöe Howl was the next big thing. With 10/10 bangers like ‘Rumour’ and ‘No Strings’, she had more buzz than a bag full of bees at a Toy Story convention, and was nominated for both the BBC Sound of 2014 and shortlisted for the 2014 BRIT Awards: Critics’ Choice Award (both won by Sam Smith). Stardom seemed an inevitability. Then she parted with her label, and pretty much disappeared. The debut album that was at one point imminent, vanished. Two years of hard graft later and she’s back with a new single, and big plans for the future. ‘Magnetic’ is your first in bloody ages – where have you been? I’ve been hiding away in the studio. My last project got out of my hands a little bit, and I decided I needed time to step away, regroup and really focus on getting something new, that I felt represented who I was. I wrote a lot of the tracks before when I was 16, and I was starting not to recognise the stories within them – I’d outgrown them! So the last few years have been all about creating a body of work that I am really truly at home with. Does this comeback involve binning off your previous singles, or will we still hear them live? I still love the old songs; I had some of the most amazing, fun times of
CHLÖE HOWL IS MAKING A COMEBACK.
my life with them! But I do believe in letting the past stay in the past, so primarily I’ll be focused on my new stuff. However, some of my fans have stuck by me for SO LONG now, and they still listen to and love those songs, so I don’t see anything wrong with whipping out an old crowd pleaser when I eventually play a show! You’ve said ‘Magnetic’ is about toxic relationships – did you have a specific one in mind when you wrote it, or is it more general? I did. I got my heart broken for the first time, by an older guy. I was a teenager, and I was in awe of him, and he knew it. So after we broke up, he would pick me up and put me down whenever was convenient for him, knowing that I was young and naive and would fall for it. When I look back now I’m like, “You fucking idiot, Chlo”, but I knew nothing about relationships, and he was, in my eyes, a “grown up” so I followed his lead. I wrote ‘Magnetic’ around the fourth time we almost got back together. I was basically trying to justify it to myself by saying, “Maybe the reason we keep getting back together is because we’re actually meant to be. It must be fate!” Instead of facing the truth of the matter – that I was being completely foolish and we were terrible together. ‘Magnetic’ was me dissecting those thoughts and feelings at the time.
In what ways does ‘Magnetic’ represent the kind of artist you want to be going forwards? I think it sounds a little bit more mature. It’s a departure from the bratty teen pop I dipped my toes into before. I also wanted to focus on my voice more this time round. I kind of let it guide me when I was writing, because I wanted the melodies to complement it. I’m not afraid to embrace my vulnerable side these days, and you can definitely hear that in the new music, especially magnetic. I would’ve never admitted I loved anyone a few years back! Have you started to think about putting together an album? Is it on the agenda? That’s the whole plan! I’ve been working pretty much exclusively with a producer called Chris Zane who I’ve known for five years now. I really have always wanted to record with just one producer, so the music sounds as cohesive as possible at the end. I think often artists get sent to work with so many different people that the album at the end can sound quite disjointed – I wanted to avoid that. So that’s what I’ve done! And so far there’s a collection of songs that I’m really pleased with so, it’s definitely on the horizon. Is there anything you learnt from your time releasing music back in 2013/4 that’s informed the way you approach
being a musician now? I learnt a lot! Mostly that no one else knows how to be you, better than you do, so don’t let anyone take the control of your journey out of your hands. I’m independent right now, and I am in the driving seat of every single decision – no matter how small. It’s so important to trust yourself, and your gut, and not to let anyone – no matter how successful, big, or powerful they are – steer you away from what you believe is right. I was so young, and I had a lot of old rich men making me feel like I was stupid or didn’t know what was best for me – fuck that. Do you. It happens a lot when you’re signed as young as I was. It can be very intimidating. But I feel like I have an edge now because I’ve been through it all once before, so I know how everything works and what is right or wrong, so there’s no pulling the wool over my eyes. Finally – are there any bands or musicians around at the mo who maybe weren’t last time you were in the spotlight, that you particularly like? I really like Tove Styrke’s new song, ‘Say My Name’. That’s a great pop song! And I’m obsessed with Dolores Haze – ‘White House’. I’ve just realised they’re both Swedish. I guess I have a type? P Chlöe Howl’s new single ‘Magnetic’ is out now.
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T E N P O I N TS TO P E RF U M E G E N I US Harry Potter turns 20 this year, but no celebration tops Perfume Genius’ activities. Taking to Twitter, he’s been ‘sorting’ indie musicians into their correct Howarts house, and it’s basically the best thing you’ll see all month. “I’m the indie sorting hat,” he wrote. “Send me your indie musicians and I will place them in their house.” So, we have Morrissey and Lana Del Rey in Slytherin, Joanna Newsom in Ravenclaw, Mitski and Lorde in Gryffindor, and loads more. Oh, Perfume Genius also has a new tour - he’ll be in the UK this November with a run that includes a night at London’s Roundhouse. Tickets are on sale now. Lovely.
FO O’S U K DAT E Foo Fighters have announced a special London show this September. The Glastonbury headliners, who are set to release new album ‘Concrete and Gold’ on 15th September, will play The O2 on 19th September in celebration of the venue’s 10th birthday.
SO N Y G ETS ST U C K I N TO V I N Y L Sony is set to start pressing its own vinyl for the first time since 1989. The major label is set to open a new pressing plant in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture in March 2018, marking the first time in three decades they’ve produced their own wax. It’s just the latest step in the so-calledvinyl-revival, which is all very well until some boring old man tries to tell you it’s ‘the only real way to listen to music’.
BABY STRANGE ARE BACK WITH A NEW EP, WHICH HAS SEEN THEM TEAM UP WITH LAURIE FROM SLAVES FOR A FEW CHOICE WORDS ABOUT MUSIC INDUSTRY EXECS WHO “CHASE THE BUZZ”.
ANGER + F RU ST R AT I O N WAXAHATCHEE’S NEW ALBUM SEES KATIE CRUTCHFIELD DOCUMENT THE END OF A RELATIONSHIP, AND ALL THE UNCERTAINTY THAT COMES WITH IT.
Hey Katie, how’s it going? Is life treating you well? Life is good. I’m in the Poconos rehearsing the new songs with my band. That sounds fun. So your new album, ‘Out in the Storm’ - what did you set out wanting it to be about, and did that evolve much during the writing process? I think I always wanted the record to be about the dissolution of a relationship, snapshots of different phases of that. I knew I wanted anger and frustration to come through. I really wanted it to have more energy than the other records. I don’t think that vision changed much throughout writing. I established the tone early on, and I really honed in on it. You’ve said the album’s in part about accepting your own imperfections - do you think low self-confidence is a prevalent problem in 2017? It’s not really about confidence; I think that’s too vague. I think it’s more about accepting imperfections when you’ve been a part of a social dynamic in which you were walking on eggshells, working hard to be everything and then setting yourself free of that responsibility. I think that can be as individual as a one on one relationship and as broad as any woman just surviving in the world, trying to do and be everything. And that’s just one facet of what the record is about. Have you found creating the album cathartic, do you feel better about yourself for having made it? Feeling better about myself by making an album like this feels like
a strange idea. I definitely don’t feel better or worse about myself having made it. It was certainly cathartic, though. Songwriting always is for me, and I imagine it is for most people who do it. How did you find your time in the studio? Was it an easy process? It was amazing. I tracked a lot of it live with my band and brought in Katie Harkin to play all the lead guitars and some keys. Working with John Agnello was a dream too. It was a really positive environment, and everything ran smoothly. What other themes do you cover across the album? It’s a pretty uncomplicated concept, and it’s all very literal and close to my experiences. I think they can apply to a lot of broad topics, though. I think that the record is really about reacting to injustice, which I think is something that anyone can relate to in some way. What’s your favourite thing about ‘Out in the Storm’? I like that it has atmosphere and sounds really big and full. I think that a new thing for me. I also am really proud of the lyrics. They’re some of my favourite I’ve ever written. You’ve loads of tour dates over the summer, are you ready for three months on the road? Definitely. I think I feel the most normal on the road. P Waxahatchee’s album ‘Out in the Storm’ is out now.
Hey Johnny, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from you guys how’re things? Are you all okay? We’re all good. We were locked away in the recording studio for the first few months of the year doing our EP, but now we’re out, re-energised and ready to go. Your new EP is due this July, are they all brand new tracks, or have they been ideas you’ve had kicking about for a while? Most of them are brand new songs. There’s a song called ‘Mess’ that we’ve had for a while. It’s a hidden gem really, a lot of people we’ve played it to have spoken highly of it. The EP will be out on red transparent vinyl, on my own label, Public. I’m very excited. How did Laurie from Slaves come to feature on ‘Play Me’? We were looking for someone with an accent to do the line so I texted him to see if he’d be into it and he was right up for it. If I could pick a band to cover that song, it’d be Slaves. I think it’d sound great. The song takes a few pot shots at record label suits - what prompted your choice of topic? We’ve met so many of them; we quickly realised that most of them had the same shit chat. They’d hit us with the most boring comparisons, talk about themselves all day and show no real interest in us, just chasing the buzz. I thought it’d be a good topic for a song and here we are. What else are you guys up to over the summer? We’re doing some festivals and getting things ready for our tour in September. We’ve started writing our second album as well. P Baby Strange’s EP ‘Extended Play’ is out in July.
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RADIOHEAD Radiohead, eh? More a box of chocolates than a jar of Marmite, the band are notorious at bucking tradition and doing whatever they want. Consequences be damned. Love it, loathe it or just think that a handful of their songs are alright, they’re both the most comfortable and the most outlandish headliner of the year. Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran never stray far from the centre of their own lanes, but Radiohead go their own way. Tonight is no different. Rather than changing opinion or pleasing crowds, this is a set of reinforcement and solidification. At times it’s genius. At others it feels like they might just be making it up as they go along, but it’s consistently evoking. Moments of blissful escape sweep into jarring crashes of electronics and guitar while Thom Yorke’s daydream vocals inspire beauty and crashing truths. There’s little interaction, but Radiohead have always been about creating little worlds to get lost in. Trying to inspire mass participation would shatter that fragile reality. The hits are delivered without ceremony, there are barbed comments about The Real World (“See you later Theresa. Just shut the door on the way out”) celebrations of the temporary reprieve from it, and self-aware laughter at how ridiculous this all is. How did we get here? The closing one-two of ‘Creep’ and ‘Karma Police’ is a fleeting glimpse into how glorious tonight could have been if they’d played to the mainstream, but they aren’t that band. Radiohead are one of a kind. Headlining Glastonbury for the third time, they light that fact up in neon blue, red and gold.
HEY BEN FROM BLAENAVON. HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT YOUR GLASTONBURY SET? Yeah, it’ll be awesome. Our set here last year was one of our best performances of all time. This is the first festival we’ve done for a second time since the record, so we’ll see if it’s any different, but to be honest, it can’t be better than last year. Last year it was raining outside, and the tent was completely packed, and people were going mad. But this’ll be nice too. Last year was actually perfect. So, I’m just hoping to have a nice time. Often we’ll do gigs, and it’s all about the crowd and what’s going on, but the main thing is us having a nice time. ‘Have fun up there boys’, that’s what someone will say before we go onstage. ‘Stay hydrated!’ We should tell the audience that. ‘Audience stay hydrated’. But not too much, because otherwise, they’ll all leave. Do you think there’s a way we
FRANK CARTER Playing with actual fire, Frank
Carter is presented with an audience who, by large, don’t give a damn about his history (Gallows what?) but his evolution from hardcore revolutionary to something more fully-rounded takes another mighty leap forward today. Entertaining both the kids desperate for a most pit, and those waiting for ‘Mr. Brightside’, Frank’s ability to entertain is miraculous. All eyes on him, he dances, sings and talks of love, respect and new perspectives. There’s closing track ‘I Hate You’ that’s vicious with more than a hint of venom. There’s new album ‘Modern Ruin’ which is surprisingly observant and sweeping, And then there’s Frank’s hunger for more. “This weekend, I’ve seen some incredible bands. I’ve seen some incredible things. Now, it’s my turn.” Try and stand in his way, he dares. This is his time.
could ask everyone to leave right at the end and then come back in?
AND YOU’VE GOT A MASSIVE TOUR AT THE END OF THE YEAR. ANY WORRIES ABOUT THOSE BIG VENUES? No, I don’t even care. When they’re big, it’s fine. When they’re big, you can’t really see or get much reaction from the crowd because they’re so small and far away, and it doesn’t feel like people it just feels like an audience. When it’s a really tiny show, and it’s really personal, that’s when it could go either way. The gig I was most nervous about in my entire life, was playing guitar for Marika [Hackman]. I was playing like Christmas songs at St John’s, and it’s so quiet and intimate that if you slip up, you’re fucked. But big gigs, we know what we’re fucking doing. People are screaming along, and I’m not worried about playing guitar because everyone’s singing it for me as well. Shepherd’s Bush, I will be nervous, but not worried. P
e wanted to go to the kids area this morning, but we never made it,” starts Jules The Big Moon. “We got lost around some mimes. Damn, I just wanted to go to the play area, but this mime was so interesting.” Anywhere else in the world, this would be an outlandish tale, but at Glastonbury, it’s just what happens. There’s a magic to the festival that’s tough to explain. Most people who try, end up encouraging others to just experience it for themselves. “Yeah, you’ll never know,” grins Ben Blaenavon. It seems arrogant, but really it’s the only way to properly get what Glastonbury is about. It’s not about what you see, what you do, it’s about the feeling that floats underneath it all. “It’s a strange place,” admits Marika Hackman. “It’s not something I think I would like if someone explained it to me. ‘This sounds like my idea of absolute hell.’” And she’s got a point. The festival “isn’t about the music”, tickets sell out long before any acts are announced, and you could happily spend all five days lost in its wilderness, avoiding the main stages, and still not see it all. It’s full name, The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, sounds like the middle ground between a self-important village fete and an outlandish art installation that’s meant to seem smarter than you. On paper, 13
Q&A: THE MAGIC GANG HI THE MAGIC GANG. ANOTHER BRILLIANT FESTIVAL SET. ARE YOU STARTING TO NOTICE THE CROWD REACTING MORE? Jack: I think when you do a year of touring, you kind of notice it at festivals the most, when you pack out a tent. It’s like, oh these are all people from different parts of the country who’ve seen us, it’s nice to see everyone at once.
THE MAGIC GANG Festivals are intense. Bands
stomp through their set, hard decisions are around every corner, and there’s always something else on. Time is of the essence, and there’s never quite enough. Luckily for Glastonbury, The Magic Gang are here to bring some much-needed serenity. Glorious harmony reigns as the band, who’ve slowly evolved into something truly miraculous, cooly and calmly drift through 30 minutes of bliss. The Magic Gang haven’t lost any of their urgency, they still inspire grimy excitement, but they’ve topped it all up with a knowing confidence. ‘How Can I Compete’ is, of course, a highlight in a field of many but there’s fairy dust throughout. The good times don’t just roll, they soar.
the whimsy and the majesty all sounds a little try hard, the festival equivalent of ‘being random’, and surely so much eclecticism means nothing properly fits together? Well, no. “Actually, I really enjoyed it last time I was here, and I’m having a really great time this time,” continues Marika. “It’s kind of a strange energy, it’s just so massive, and there’s so much to do.” While Glastonbury might not be a music festival in the traditional sense, music underpins everything that goes on at Worthy Farm. From the silent disco that sees every secret set and dream reunion come to life and play all the hits to the abandoned tube carriage that plays host to the chaotic rampage of Ho99o9 and the crushing beauty of Puppy. There’s power ballad yoga, madcap yet oddly calming, a showing of the nuclearweapon documentary ‘The Bomb’ on the inside of giant gas towers, scored live by The Acid and surrounded by 14
AND WHAT’S NEXT? Jack: We’ve got to start making an album. We’re just getting the last bits done before cracking on with that. We’re just trying to work out what’s going to go on there now, because we have to be a little bit brutal. giant towers of waste. There’s the women-only area of The Sisterhood, the legendary Metamorphosis show, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying About Being A Giant Spider, and Breathed Fire and Danced Instead and the Greenpeace fields which pair activism with DJ sets from the likes of Jarvis Cocker. There’s Elbow’s immersive party experience of ‘Nomads, The New World’ which takes stilt walkers, Avatar-explorers, madmax adventurers, a giant chicken and mountain confetti and places them in the centre of a rave. It sounds like lunacy written down but belongs in the getaway of Glastonbury. “Everyone tells you how huge it is, but you still underestimate how massive it is,” explains Jack The Magic Gang. “It’s like loads of festivals glued together.” It’s their first time at the festival, but they’re not the only ones with wide eyes. Dua Lipa has been here four years in a row now and, “Oh my God, it’s been the best day of my life. Glastonbury’s my favourite place in the world, and I’m just having the best time ever.” “It’s just bloody massive. It’s very genuine, which seems like a weird thing to say about a festival,” starts Soph TBM, before Cee adds: “It’s huge, and I think because it’s such a big deal people make more of an effort. All the other ones, we
ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’VE GOT THREE EPS ALREADY IN THE BACK POCKET. Paeris: The aim it to try to do as little of that as possible really. Jack: I think we’re all obsessed with having as many new songs as possible. Paeris: You try to leave a big gap before your first album, so when
don’t really ‘go’ to them, but you go to Glastonbury. Also the fact you can take your own alcohol and stuff like that, little things like that make you feel like they’re not just trying to make a shit ton of money out of you. Most festivals are like, okay now you’re in, now you have to buy all these things that we’ve hiked up the price for.” “The way they run it too, it’s so hot,” continues Fern TBM. “They just make it really safe, and they make it flow.
it comes out it’s going to be something that people enjoy, you know? So you feel like you owe it to them to have new material rather than rehashing songs. When I used to like bands and they’d do a new version of tunes, I’d be like, ‘Oh it’s not as good as the old one’. We just don’t really want to do that to our fans, because they’ve been really great. Jack: We’re going to try to keep it to a minimum of old songs on the album maybe, there’ll be a couple. WHAT SORT OF TIMEFRAME, CAN PEOPLE START GETTING EXCITED NOW? Jack: What are we now, in June? It’ll be out in January or February. Paeris: It’s going to be next year. Jack: So maybe not too excited… THAT’S STILL SOON - ISH, ISN’T IT? Paeris: Relatively, yeah. Jack: It takes so long to do them and get them out, with all the bullshit you have to do, that’s the nearest it can be now. Paeris: It’s a lot of faffing. P
They’ve obviously had a lot of practice but the crew here, we’re quite low down, but they’ve got some pros. It’s wicked. Big fan. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how it’s so special. Maybe a tiny part of it is, there’s no advertising, there’s none of that. It’s just remained itself. Everything here is so unique and selected to be here; it’s not here because it’s the highest price, you know what I mean? It’s got this weird thing; I don’t really know how to explain it. Every type of person comes
LIAM GALLAGHER Thousands are gathered at the
Other Stage to witness Liam Gallagher’s Glastonbury return. As ‘Fuckin In The Bushes’ bares out, and rkid takes the stage, he already has the crowd in his hand. Quoting The Beatles’ ‘I Am The Walrus’ before launching into ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Star’, LG is ready to prove the doubters wrong. He rips through ‘Morning Glory’ like it’s still the 90s, but that soon subsides. “Now we’ve got your attention, we’re gonna get stuck into some new songs,” he asserts. This may be a solo set with a debut solo album to follow, but that’s not how festivals like this really work. Maybe once that album lands, sets like this will make more sense - but right now, it’s a mixed bag. As you were.
LORDE Standing to the side of stage,
Q&A: MARIKA HACKMAN HEY MARIKA HACKMAN. HOW’S IT BEEN SINCE THE NEW RECORD CAME OUT? Just ticking along, it’s nice that it’s out there. Everyone’s saying really nice things about it, which is cool. I’m kind of just thinking about the next one really, and what I’m going to do, and when I’m going to do it, how I’m going to write it and the time I have. But also just excited about touring, I really love playing these shows with this music. I just find it so enjoyable. WHAT’S THE REACTION BEEN LIKE? It’s been really positive, actually. It’s nice because a few of the themes I’m talking about, I was really nervous about being that open and frank, and exploring ideas that I hadn’t put out there before. People have been like, ‘No one’s written a song about this, and it’s a thing I relate to’, like a song like ‘Boyfriend,’ and ‘It’s so nice to hear someone use female pronouns in songs’, and that’s been really cool because it feels like I’ve done something vaguely important for once, rather than just making music. It feels like people really actually give a shit. YOU WANTED IT TO BE MORE FUN LIVE. WE SAW YOU AT THE GREAT ESCAPE AND IT WAS SMILES FOR MILES. That was our second show ever as a band as well, so it’s come on a
bit since then. I think it’s a lot more relaxed; we were all quite nervous for that because we hadn’t quite played enough together. But now we’ve got a mini-tour under our belt, and a few festivals and stuff like that, it feels really comfortable, and we’re all enjoying ourselves so much onstage.
looking directly at camera, Lorde’s intention is clear. Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up The Hill’ has just finished. The softly spoken introduction to ‘Green Light’ silences a very busy Other Stage as people watch, expectant. First with a smirk, a snarl and finally a strut, Lorde takes the spotlight. It’s not just those great whites with teeth to show. Fangs out, ‘Homemade Dynamite’ hypnotises and bewitches before the vocalwith-a-touch-of-the-ridiculous “boom” lets everyone know this is something else entirely. And Lorde just keeps on giving. The weight of expectation is nowhere to be seen as she greets the crowd like best friends she just hasn’t met yet while a living art exhibition rises and falls behind her. Walls are made for breaking and Lorde quickly starts tearing them down and arranging the pieces into something bold, colourful and intimate. ‘Pure Heroine’ showed off the voice, ‘Melodrama’ brings the vision. Stand back to get it all in and behold. Those who pegged Lorde as the voice of a generation got it wrong. This is bigger than that. The music, the scope, the marvel is timeless, and tonight’s set is one for the ages. With a grin and a playful want for adventure, if she wasn’t already the brightest star around…
to Glastonbury.” Glastonbury is the Wild West. Anything can happen, and it usually does. With over 60 proper stages and 2,000 official acts, there’s a lot to take in. No matter how well-planned your travels, you won’t see it all. After Radiohead, The Magic Gang met up with some friends and “can’t really remember what we did after that. We had a hazy night,” admits Paeris. “You go, ‘oh mate, we’ll take it easy’ and then it’s 4am, and you’ve got to play in five hours. Considering the night, I think we played ok.” It’s the same story with Blaenavon. “My memory’s not so good, but it’s been a fun time. I love Glastonbury, it’s nice,” grins Jack. “It’s kind of a bit overwhelming,” continues Marika. “I usually just end up not doing anything. But if you’ve had a nice time, it’s fine. I saw Radiohead and Katy Perry. I just saw Real Estate too; they were quite cool.” But festival highlight goes to Warpaint. “I was in the front row. We got there, and it was 15 minutes before they were due to play, and it was a straight up easy walk straight up to the front, and then ten minutes later it was really full. It was just like, jackpot, we just got in there. That was really cool to see them that close up too. Last time that happened I was 18 and living in Brighton. So yeah, on Friday night we just watch Radiohead, and then I can’t remember what happened. I was at the Crows Nest, and I danced for a while and stayed on that hill till like six. My bassist Jenny was like, let’s stay up to watch the sunrise, and then it was cloudy, so we didn’t see the sunrise, it just got
AND YOU’VE GOT THAT TOUR WITH THE BIG MOON COMING UP WHICH THEY DESCRIBED YESTERDAY AS A “TOUR OF BABES”. I’ll take that. Yeah, it’s going to be great. It’s end of July, so a month away. That’s going to be really fun, really hot though. I hate hot weather, I’ve been struggling recently, and I know it’s going to be boiling, so I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I promise The Big Moon right now that I won’t get irritable. Promise. I’ll try. WHAT ABOUT WRITING, HOW ARE YOU FIT TING THAT IN? I can’t really write on tour, I find it really tricky. But maybe the stuff on this album it’s a different vibe, different people, I might be able to do it this time around. But I need quiet and privacy to do that, there’s no way I’m going to do it when I’ve got three of my best mates being, ‘Oh let’s go get some beers’. Hopefully over the summer I can try to work really hard. I’ll try my best. P
THE BIG MOON From the word go, The Big Moon
have been an electrified bundle of inspiring fun. Fizzing, whirring and giggling, it’s always more party than performance but today, with debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ now out and showing people the way, there’s more chaos, more control and more joy. Kicking off with the glittering ‘Silent Movie Susie’, the room is bundled together as one. It’s on. The band are thick as thieves: they steal hearts, minds and voices as twirling songs and anthems of wondrous romance are cut with their huge personalities. Never overbearing or even really trying that hard, it’s the sort of ridiculously great set that sees Jules wearing a colander on her head (part of her spacesuit, honest) and hoping “none of my housemates are making pasta this weekend.” It’s big, bold and brilliant. And it’s only getting better. The Great Big Moon shines.
light. It was like, ‘Okay, let’s go home’. Then we set out to find our tent.” Glastonbury might not be solely about the music, but that doesn’t mean people don’t care. Some of the biggest reactions are saved for Worthy Farm. Last year, The Big Moon’s set was quite the moment for the band.
“We all came off stage on top of the world, and all our friends were standing in a line crying,” offers Jules TBM. “We had a lot of little cries,” adds Cee TBM. “It was a mixture of an emotional moment, and everyone was really hungover. I like to think it was our sweet, sweet melodious sounds that brought everyone to their knees
though.” This year that hunger is still there. “I saw Shame. We wanted to get here in time to pitch our tents and go see Shame, but we didn’t have enough time, so we went straight there and put our tents under the sound desk and jammed out. They’re fucking
great; I love them.” “Our set here last year was one of our best performances of all time. We were stoked because it was our first Glastonbury, we were expecting very little. It was William’s Green on like Friday lunchtime last time, and it was fucking crazy,” adds Ben Blaenavon. “I was so confident on stage today, just because the audience made me feel so at home,” explains Dua Lipa. “It was my favourite performance I’ve ever done, I think. I get really nervous before I get onstage, I love being onstage. Sometimes I’m also very vulnerable onstage, but it’s moments like this that I’m so pumped that I’m just like, I’m ready. I felt invincible. It happens occasionally, but I felt like today was definitely one of those days. I was blown away by the crowd. It really struck me. I went out into the audience, and I stood on the barrier, and they were holding my hand, and we were singing together, and I was like, ‘This is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life’. It was just my favourite thing ever; I loved it. Loved it, loved it.” The booking on the Pyramid stage might make no sense but all the bands playing know they’re just one attraction in a field of countless offerings. “There’s nothing else like it in the world,” offers Thom Yorke from the Pyramid stage as he closes the Friday, and he’s right. Glastonbury isn’t just a music festival; it’s the greatest show on earth. P
KATY PERRY Katy Perry is a rock star. She
crowdsurfs (and gets pretty far), headbangs, sails on guitar and storms about the place like it’s her own, but more than that – there are tongues-in-cheeks, glints in eyes and a powerful self-awareness. “We know why you’re here,” she promises. “We’re going to give you everything you want. And more.” True to her word, the set is jam-packed with absolutely massive hits alongside torrential downpours of confetti (star shaped, obviously), actual fireworks and the sort of captivating personality that you just can’t fake. When she tells you she’ll be partying with you later, you believe her. “This makes me feel cool. I never really felt cool,” she admits. Katy Perry might be one of the biggest stars in the world, but that hasn’t dwarfed her love of music: it’s only made it roar louder. Sincere and eager to please, it’s everything the greatest festival sets are, with a little bit of Katy Perry magic.
HUNDREDS - PROBABLY THOUSANDS OF BANDS PLAYED GLASTONBURY 2017, ACROSS COUNTLESS STAGES, SECRET HIDEAWAYS AND POP UP VENUES. WE COULDN’T CATCH ALL OF THEM, OBVIOUSLY, BUT HERE’S A FEW WE DID...
Arriving on stage 10 minutes late, Hamilton Leithauser apologises, blaming immigration asking questions about Donald Trump. Almost immediately he launches into ‘Rough Going’ and weaves his way through a set consisting of mostly of last year’s ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’. There’s no sign of collaborator Rostam, but that doesn’t matter – Leithauser plays the role of frontman to a tee with a brilliant rendition of ‘A 1000 Times’. ‘In A Black Out’ makes the field feel like a living room with its intimacy, and while at times it feels like Leithauser is rushing through the set, he delivers with each song. Leaving the stage after ‘Peaceful Morning’, Leithauser delivers a memorable set full of tender and intimate moments, even if he was late. Blame Trump. You know Black Honey – pink flamingo, edge-of-seat chaos, ramshackle brilliance – yeah? Well, that’s not the band who show up to the John Peel stage today. Instead, this Black Honey have no time for messing around or flirting with danger. They want something, so they’re taking it. They’ve got thirty minutes to make it count and from the curtain-rise tease of ‘Madonna’, drenched in longing and wide-eyed hope, every single moment is phenomenal. See, Black Honey have so many great songs now; they don’t have room for anything else. Jam-packed, bursting at the seams and electrifyingly versatile, they’ve slowly shifted into a force to be reckoned with, but today it shows off its true, terrifyingly huge, potential. ‘All My Pride’ rolls through with heavy grit. ‘Hello Today’ is euphoric. ‘Somebody Better’ yearns for everything and gets it. Sure, someone pulls out the guitar lead during a quiet moment of acoustic beauty between Izzy, Chris and a more than a few hundred new mates, but just because they’re new to this platform doesn’t mean there’s a learning curve to climb. From the title card to the credits roll of ‘Spinning Wheel’ – vicious, blood-soaked (literally in Izzy’s case) and defiantly wonderful – Black Honey are unstoppable. It’s tough to work out where Halsey fits in all this. Collaborations with Bieber and The Chainsmokers have made her voice a household occurrence, but the worlds she creates on record are still a secret to be told.
Today, people are listening. There’s a swagger and a bubbling excitement from the moment she runs onto the stage, and it only gets fiercer, more intense, as things unfold. ‘Badlands’ is presented with broken glass, desolation rows and the imminent danger of the chase while ‘hopeless fountain kingdom’ is more heart and human desire. Side by side, it’s a wonderful trip. Arms up, Halsey leads the way. The sheen of that big radio voice still shines (“this one’s for all the rain we didn’t get”) but there’s a playful wonderment that cuts through. Empowering (“this is a reminder you do not belong to anyone else but yourself”) vulnerable and with more than a sprinkle of magic, Halsey kicks the door wide open. You’ll find no better soundtrack to will a sunny Worthy Farm afternoon than Glass Animals. Exotic and poppy in all the right ways, the moment they take to the stage the clouds feel a million miles away. Opening with ‘Life Itself’, frontman Dave Bayley wastes no time in setting the pace by jumping and dancing around the stage with zero abandon. A set rife with feel good tracks that are impossible to not dance to, the majority stem from last years ‘How To Be A Human Being’. Standing alongside this new arsenal of tracks are older releases ‘Agnes’ and ‘Gooey’, the latter of which sees Dave talk about how he and his bandmates were regular visitors to the fest and how it feels different being on the other side of the barrier – something he swiftly takes care of by making his way into the middle of the crowd. One thing you can’t miss is the sea of pineapple related inflatables, from beds to comically sized versions, including the glittery, gold centrepiece the band have. They’re all present and correct for the chorus of ‘Pork Soda’, a track which is also met with the largest applause, that sends the crowd into a fruit waving frenzy – albeit a
groove-driven one where the desire to dance outweighs the need to get chaotic. Glass Animals have it all. Unstoppable and infectious, they’re a band who will in no doubt be a mainstay of this years festival season. Two of country-stroke-indie-folk’s brightest players, First Aid Kit are at Worthy Farm for the third time – and they seem more at home than ever. They take us on a walk through of their back catalogue, including a brand new stomper that’ll be on their new album, recorded back in January. One of the stand out moments comes from their contribution to the ‘100 Days’ project – ‘You’re The Problem Here’. The furious, fast paced rocker soars. Ending with breakout songs ‘Emmylou’ and ‘My Silver Lining’, their set is one filled with celebration, determination and proof the duo are easily going to be invited back for more Worthy Farm fun. Declan McKenna is a superstar. Not a superstar in waiting – superstars in waiting don’t have spangly jackets. Superstars in waiting don’t have sets full of absolute bangers before even dropping their debut album. Superstars don’t wait. They just are. That’s the beauty of our young hero. There’s no kicking heels or tired musing. He’s all energy, all the time. Though set bookends ’Brazil’ and ‘Isombard’ – as well as the bangerrific ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ – cut through from familiarity, even the new stuff sounds, well, ‘Humungous’, actually. He’s paid his dues at Glastonbury to get here, sure, but this isn’t a gradual progression – it’s an explosion of pure talent. As that trademark final blast of raw adrenaline hits home, and he goes floating over the heads of the assembled masses, he’s got nothing to prove. Shining brightly, he’s got them eating out of the palm of his hand. Dec waits for nobody.
If you’ve heard anything about Glastonbury over the past few days, it’s that it’s warm. *Really* warm. Sun’s out, guns out (alongside burnt noses, weird hats and the desire to soak it all in) but it still doesn’t quite feel like summer. That is, until Charli XCX tumbles onto the Other Stage, fully loaded. Riding a mirror clad carnival float, sky-scraped flowers and more shimmering choruses than you can shake a stick of rock at, it’s a glorious sight. Charli’s always been a bit unconventional, a pop-star with way more than one-side, and today she shows that off. There’s the experimental dance of ‘Roll With Me’, ‘3am’ and ‘Dreamer’, all shuddering beats, fierce attitude and glittering centre before the still-absolutelybloody-massive hit if ‘I Love It’ sees Charli lean into superstar status. From up high, she’s surrounded by a group of silver wacky-waving-arm-men (you know the ones). It looks like she’s fighting to defend mankind. Windswept and streaming with cinema, the reality is that Charli’s bolshy, do-whatever-you-fancy attitude has never felt more effortless. It’s by no means a greatest hits set, but that would be too easy. Where’s the fun in the expected? Instead, Charli rolls the dice, shows people what she can really do, and every side lands on greatness.
Circa Waves want to be playing the biggest stages. Granted, there’s one bigger at Glastonbury – but the Other Stage is still a huge deal for a band who intend to headline this kind of thing one day. And let’s face it, they’ve packed the 17
bangers for the occasion. Even though they’re only two albums deep, they’ve measured their arsenal for maximum impact. ‘Wake Up’ shouldn’t be needed in mid afternoon, but that doesn’t stop it doing the job written on the tin regardless, while ‘Fire That Burns’ is equally descriptive in it’s impact. It’s ’T-Shirt Weather’ that’s the real arms aloft anthem though. That heatwave may have passed, but with the temperature turned up a notch, it’s the sort of song other bands dream of having, all fizzy energy and unrelenting fun. But that’s Circa Waves for you. This isn’t a band for beard scratching. They’re for letting the hair down and going for a good time. That’s one mission that’s already firmly in the bag. Striding onto the Pyramid Stage, Blossoms look lost. Is it too big for them? At first, it seems like it might be, as they break into ‘At Most A Kiss’. Giving the usual thanks and pleasantries, the band weave their way through a set that takes time to fill its surroundings, but once it does it works well. By the time ‘Honey Sweet’ rolls round, Blossoms have the command of the stage, and are living up to the occasion. Singer Tom Ogden quips “this is mad” before launching into ‘Blown Rose’, with the chorus of “the stately homes of England” echoed back to him by the crowd. Ogden stops the band before ‘My Favourite Room’ to ask the crowd if one of them had recently been dumped. It’s a trick he was doing as far back as last year’s festivals, but it works, dedicating the song to a Beth (it turns out both her and her ex were in the crowd). Morphing into a rendition of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’, which quickly turns into ‘Last Christmas’, it’s clear the band have stepped up to stake a claim. Closing with ‘Charlemagne’, Ogden takes the opportunity to thank Michael and Emily Eavis for putting them on “this massive stage”. As they finish their set, it’s easy to see why.
Though it may be windy and cloudy, Wild Beasts are unstoppable in their Saturday afternoon slot. Jam-packed with exotic sounds, they not only bring out all their big hitters but there feels to be a hidden level to their set as sound radiates from them. The intricacies of the Wild Beasts sound aren’t lost on The Other Stage, with everything coming together perfectly – including frontman Hayden Thorpe and Tom’s opposing falsetto and tenor vocals. During finale ‘Celestial Creatures’, Hayden steps out beyond the stage to repeat the outro refrain of: “These are blessed times that we’re living in / Down here on earth all is forgiven”, in a moment that is both captivating and memorable. With the entire festival centred around making the world a better 18
place, Wild Beasts make sure to give it a soundtrack that’s incredibly powerful – and impossible not to dance to. In some ways, current Dork’s former cover stars Alt-J aren’t your average headline act. They don’t conform to your usual standards of huge, arms aloft, anthemic moments. They don’t work by other people’s rules to keep everything nice and easy. They follow their own path, wherever it takes them. And yet the night before, a band who have been doing that for the last couple of decades of their career topped the bill on the Pyramid Stage, so who has time for rules anymore? What Alt-J do better than almost any other band on the planet right now is weave their own magical spell. Kicking off with the winding, twinkling ‘3WW’, backlit with pure light, it’s the exact opposite of what Foo Fighters are doing elsewhere right now, but that’s precisely why it works. That’s not to say they don’t have their own bangers, though. It doesn’t mean the crowd don’t sing them back, either. ‘Something Good’ proves that early doors. It’s the encore they leave the real heavy artillery for, though. ‘Left Hand Free’ and its southern shuffle, followed by a communal rendition of ’Breezeblocks’ proves it once and for all. Alt-J may have their own way of doing things, but at the end of the day, it’s just as effective as any other. Glastonbury was always going to be an important show for Run The Jewels, who bring a fire to the topics that are currently dominating our day to day
lives. But today it comes with extra weight; when it hits, it hits hard. This isn’t just a musical follow-up to Jeremy Corbyn’s introduction of the band: relying more on spotlights and questions than insistence, RTJ’s blend of humour and humanity has never felt more powerful. And neither has the crowd. They make sure to elevate and find space for anyone without a platform – inclusion and invitation are high on the agenda – but perhaps more importantly, it’s fun. The future is hopeful, but it doesn’t have to stop the party in the present. Emotionally charged and larger than life, the band’s underground jokes and sofa conversations fill Glastonbury’s biggest stage with surprising ease as El-P and Killer Mike embrace what makes them strong, and laugh and how it’s even happened. With a band like Radiohead headlining the opening evening at Glastonbury, the way has been paved for slow, elongated tracks that opt more for atmosphere than immediacy. Day two sees The National take second from top billing on the Pyramid Stage, below Foo Fighters and above Katy Perry, putting them in a tight spot. Do they stick to their guns, or do they go for the populist approach and try and garner as many new fans as possible? Rather cleverly, they decide to opt for a little bit of both. Starting things slowly with ‘Sea Of Love’ and ‘Fake Empire’, you sense the crowd are probably on the come down after Katy Perry, but the draw of The National comes from a deep understanding
“I’m about two years too late,” starts Dave Grohl. “Traffic was a bitch.” Kicking off with ‘Times Like These’, Dave dedicates the track to Florence + the Machine, who covered the track when they stepped in for the Foo Fighters in 2015. That’s those Nicest Guy In Rock credentials confirmed, then, with a side helping of humble for good measure. Foo Fighters know what tonight means, and they’ve been waiting a long time for it to happen, but there’s not a whole bunch of making up for lost time. They promise they can play all night – and we definitely believe them. Glastonbury is one of the few festivals they haven’t headlined, and instead of bells, whistles and greatest hits, you can almost smell the petrol from the garage. There are rarities for the die hards and plenty of bangers for the rest, but there’s no urgency. Foo Fighters take their time. The brutality of ‘Monkey Wrench’ and the beauty of ‘Best Of You’ are drawn out so far, they lose some their impact. Sure, with a legacy like theirs, Foo Fighters are never really going to be less than good, but tonight could, and should, have been so much more. Maybe all that traffic is why they never hit a higher gear. rather than an immediate blur of choruses and big sounds. Filling the set with an equal selection from across the board, including a few new tracks, singer Matt Berninger even uses the platform to talk about politics, albeit in the states, before heading into ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’. It’s the last three songs of the set that sees The National prove why the belong near top billing, though. ‘Mr November’, ‘Terrible Love’ and new track ‘Turtleneck’, each more fast paced and erratic than the last, results in a sea of fists flying into the air. The National have reached a point where they’re now playing headline slots and arenas. The magic is still all there, though. Be it in the form of delicate or aggressive songs; each flavour has something special. That’s why they’ve finally reached the place they belong.
Sunday morning at Worthy Farm is always a slow one. It’s day five of five, and it takes something with extreme power and guts to get the crowd going. Enter, Slaves. With the Kent duo making enough racket to be heard all around the festival site, from the moment they
THE KILLERS Their appearance on Worthy
Farm has been whispered for a while now, but the closer we get, the more certain it becomes. Still, it can’t really be happening, can it? The Killers – a band who can headline festivals this size, playing midway through the day in the John Peel tent? If any band claims to have more indie bangers in the last fifteen years than The Killers, they’re lying. Not just a little bit, either. Kicking off with ‘When You Were Young’, they follow it up with ‘Somebody Told Me’. Not long later there’s ‘Human’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, before unleashing new single ‘The Man’ – a track with so much disco fever it’s a surprise Barry Gibb isn’t summoned from his main stage Pyramid Legends slot. ‘Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll’ recalls an era where, even on their debut album, the Las Vegas troupe felt like they had stardust running through their veins. And then there’s ‘Mr Brightside’. There’s quite probably not a song in the last fifteen years that can touch The Killers’ iconic calling card, and Glastonbury knows it. The Pyramid Stage would tremble in the face of this reaction. There may be a few hours of 2017’s left festival yet, but the results are in. The Killers are back, and boy, do they mean business. step foot on the stage the crowd are wide awake and ready to kick start the final day. Isaac plays the frontman well, telling stories to introduce ‘Fuck The Hi-Hat’ (about a dog who mocks the band’s lack of percussion), and fan favourite ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’ (literally about looking for a car with Debbie). Meanwhile the other half of Slaves, Laurie, careers and bounds about the stage, at times inciting the crowd. Rattling through their catalogue, each song filled with more power and anger than the last, it’s the moments between songs where the interaction between the duo and the crowd that really make the performance. While the rain may have begun to pour – which Isaac points out with a smirk – nothing could dampen the atmosphere that Slaves managed to fire into the Sunday morning. Or as Isaac renamed it, “the Sunday morning legends slot”.
At the far edge of Glastonbury is the famed John Peel stage, a tent that’s so revered it houses the brightest upcoming names, and even a few potential big hitters with surprise sets (wink, The Killers, wink). It’s also where Sundara Karma – who have already begun making dreamy waves with the release of their debut ‘Youth Is Only Fun In Retrospect’ – are about to solidify their ascent. Frontman Oscar Pollock is the encapsulation of what Glastonbury is about – that feeling that there’s something more to life than simplicity and not getting bogged down in the
mud. Every word he sings feels like a masterclass in how to enjoy your time, even when the bad comes around. With a huge crowd considering the location and time, Sundara Karma already have a plethora of songs that flirt with the mainstream, leaving no stone unturned. ‘Flames’ sees fists pumping in the air during its stomping chorus, while ‘Vivienne’ has the crowd swaying and dancing on the spot in unison. Oscar and co are well on their way to becoming the ultimate festival band – the sound, the ideas, the look. Give it a few years, and they’ll be propelled up the listings.
Fresh from headlining Download and showing Donington Park they hadn’t lost any of their bite, Biffy Clyro find themselves on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage, between Ed Sheeran and Chic. It might be one more trip into the unknown, but Biffy are at their best when they’re uncomfortable. From the opening flourish of ‘Wolves of Winter’, still ridiculous, still defiant, the band set about showing Worthy Farm just how hard they can hit. ‘Living Is A Problem…’, ‘Sounds Like Balloons’, ‘Biblical’, the setlist is a firm reminder just how many crossover anthems Biffy Clyro have penned. There are streamers, bangers and a whole load of sing-alongs but there’s also a healthy dollop of silly fun. The group have never been ones for seriousness and while the start of the ‘Ellipsis’ cycle saw some of their inherent silliness smoothed out, today seems them back at their outlandish best.
ED SHEERAN Radiohead and Foo Fighters
have been closing festivals since before Ed Sheeran went to school. It might be his first time headlining, but he’s been here before, playing one of the festivals littlest stages way back when, and he knows what Glastonbury’s about. There have been rumours circulating all day that he’s been busking in Pilton, or popping up and doing surprise sets in far-flung corners of the farm, and none of these whispers feel silly. Despite how big he’s become (and let’s face it, he’s fucking massive now) he’s lost none of that down-toearth connection. Sure, latest album ‘Divide’ is smug in places but tonight’s set is humble and horribly brilliant. Without bluster or bloat, he careens through every single Ed Sheeran song you want to hear with a fire in his belly, a glint in the eye and the simple wish that everyone present has a nice time. He holds the attention of the Pyramid stage single-handedly (Taylor Swift doesn’t turn up) and the way he captivates is sheer showmanship. ‘Sing’ and ‘Shape of You’ see the most vocal reaction of the weekend while a closing foray into ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ sees Ed bounce between all his influences, colour and shape with impressive confidence and total self-awareness. “I wrote this song when I was 15 years old. I probably should have stopped playing it a long time ago,” he admits. “but I want to give it a chance tonight.” It’s the occasional risk bundled with plenty of crowd pleasers that see Ed Sheeran close Glastonbury in triumphant, glorious fashion.
DS N U O S D A B
BA D SOU N DS WHO LIKES THE BEST TUNES, HMM? BAD SOUNDS DUO EWAN AND CALLUM HAVE A SHOWDOWN OF EPIC PROPORTIONS.
EWAN’S PLAYLIST AMINÉ - CAROLINE I love all the aminé stuff I’ve heard so far. I can’t wait for the album! It’s awesome to hear someone doing fun hip-hop again, and it’s done so well! Without a doubt my favourite I’ve come across this year. LAURYN HILL - EVERY GHETTO EVERY CITY That Kung-fu sound effect is just the best thing ever. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I kind of have this romantic idea about what it would have been like to grow up in the city, so I feel this song is kind of window into that life for me. Plus it just feels so positive it’s hard to listen to it and not smile. JVC FORCE - STRONG ISLAND A hip-hop classic. This is one of those tracks that it’s hard to describe what’s so magic about it, but it just feels amazing and grooves like nothing else. I love tracks from this era where you can hear the beats aren’t looping up 100% perfectly and you can kind of hear the limitations in the equipment in the final recording, but it adds to the final vibe of the track. MASSIVE ATTACK - BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU’VE GOT This is my favourite song and also my favourite version of this song. Massive 20
Attack were one of the first groups that got me into production.
still stay totally interesting and cool. It’s a big deal.
YOUNG MC - KNOW HOW The Dust Brothers are a huge influence on us. They have really bold and unique production ideas. I love how they will pick samples and loops based on how cool they feel rather than how well they’re played; it makes a huge difference to the overall groove.
THE ROOTS - THE NEXT MOVEMENT I’m obsessed with Questlove. OBSEEESSSSSED. I’ve read his book a bunch of times, watched every interview with him I can find on YouTube, stalk him on Instagram. Obsessed. I think he’s the ultimate music nerd and I want to be him.
MISSY ELLIOTT - BRING THE PAIN Missy Elliott is my hero, and I think she’s insanely underrated. No one has had a bigger impact on me lyrically. The way she makes sound effects in her tracks in the middle of a sentence is the coolest thing ever, and she’s hilarious! Can’t get enough of her.
BEASTIE BOYS - ROOT DOWN This is such an underrated Beastie Boys track. I really dig the sound of the sample and... that drum fill... oh the drum fill... dribbles. There’s a sort of naive simplicity about this track that just makes it feel like they wrote it on the fly, recorded it the first time and nailed it. They’re the coolest.
JACKIE MITTOO - SUMMER BREEZE Obviously a banger, It’s rare to hear a Jackie Mittoo track with vocals, but I’m so glad he put vocals on this.
OUTKAST - SO FRESH SO CLEAN Andre 3000... I’m sorta obsessed with him too. Fearless genius. Big boi’s rhymes are dope, Andre’s rhymes are dope (obvs), the beat is dope. It’s a brave move to write a track like this.
CALLUM ‘S PLAYLIST JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SEÑORITA NEPCHOOOOooooonnnzzz. Both me and Ewan are digging golden era of Pharrell and Chad right now. In a big way. We’re fascinated about how they manage to write songs that don’t really change very much but somehow
MICHAEL JACKSON - ROCK WITH YOU I’m all over some smoochy shit right now, and this is my fav smoochy MJ song. I had the HIStory VHS when I was a little kid, and I remember being hypnotised by the way the studio lights would reflect of that incredible
outfit in the video for this song. Head to toe in a silvery glittery number? I’ve been known to rock something similar... The guy’s a style icon. BILL WITHERS - LOVELY DAY This is pretty much one of my favourite songs ever. For real. People laugh at me for that, but I just think it’s so great. Whenever I hear it, it reminds me of this time when Ewan, Olivia and myself were on this super long drive to a show, and we were all trying to “out Bill Withers” each other, competing how long we could say “daa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy yyyy” and just creasing up laughing. OLIVER CHEATHAM - GET DOWN SATURDAY NIGHT I used to work in a suit shop, and this song was on the in-store playlist. Absolute jam. Before I worked there, I was only aware of it because Room 5 sampled it/based their song “make luv” around it, and that was on the radio all the time when it came out. But when I eventually heard the original I was like “Gaaaaad daaaamn this is dope af!” HERBIE HANCOCK CHAMELEON Just a heads up: this track ain’t for everyone (soz not soz). I don’t really understand how this track has so much groove... it just does, okay? From the opening three notes to the end. The drums sound super seventies and dry as a bone. I just love it sonically. P
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BOYS LONDON DUO MARCUS PEPPERELL AND JOHN HAMSON JR ARE BACK WITH A SECOND THUMPERS ALBUM, ‘WHIPPED & GLAZED’ - IT’S A RECORD PARTLY BORN FROM ANXIETY AND THE FALLOUT FROM A POORLY HANDLED BREAK UP.
Hey Marcus, how’s it going? We’ve just ended about five months of super intense work getting the record finished and everything else (artwork, photos, videos, etc. ahh!) so having a brief moment of switching off now we’ve told everyone about the record. Today’s been alright, but the heat in London is intense, and everyone’s a bit fight-y. So what’ve you guys been up to since your debut, apart from recording new music? Can’t speak for all of that time, but one thing was I made a big fuss of moving one mile down the road in London. In my defence, though, I had lived in Bethnal Green for ten years, and holy shit has it changed in that time. Sometimes it’s easy to feel very left behind by that. How arrogant, in a way! Like everything is a personal vendetta. Anyway, since we turned the anxiety about that into the inspiration for ‘Boundary Loves’ it all worked out okay. I mean, obviously, this record has taken a long time to get realised, and we did a lot of soul-searching after ‘Galore’ before we really made headway with what we wanted to do with it. We felt a bit conflicted with how things turned out on that run, so we had to make quite a few changes and make some big decisions to get where we are today.
Your new album’s called ‘Whipped & Glazed’, which sounds a bit rude. What does it mean? Yeah, I guess we hope it does sound rude. If it seems like it’s a bit about food, a bit about sex and a bit about some very uneven and unstable relationships, then that feeling is pretty on the money.
I think it probably set out the furthest point on this new record from our previous sound, which is what we wanted. It’s more stripped back and darker in tone. But some of the pop elements are still there from the music we’d made before. And the rhythms are still driving it all. We wanted to shock you.
The press release we have sat here says you guys are returning with “a darker worldview” - is the album a bit sad too? The overall change from what we’ve done before is probably that this album is more self-aware. We let our insecurities take over after touring the first album - I think a lot of musicians do - and that could have crushed us. Instead, we used them and worked them into what we were writing. In fact, we let being bothered by various anxieties become amusing and sad at the same time. Having a meltdown because you don’t know why you can’t stop following your ex-girlfriend on her ice cream date with her new boyfriend? Funny/sad. Being in awe of gargantuan men and also finding them ridiculous? Similar. An outlook like that picked us up when we needed it most.
You’ve said ‘Gargantua’ is about hypermasculinity, and second new track ‘Boundary Loves’ is about other male insecurities - is gender of particular interest to you? Our thinking about it for this album came from an accusation during a break-up - “you’re such a man.” And that was a painful surprise. It wasn’t exactly a stereotype I thought I fit and I guess the resulting theme on the album was exploring what that person could’ve meant by that. I mean, is it all bad?! I hope not. But the insult still stings because this is a fucked up, unequal world when it comes to gender and I don’t want to be any part of that. So the words come from a self-flagellating place for sure, even the ones which seem more lighthearted have their demons. It’s not the only focus of the album, but it was definitely a new question to address.
Is ‘Gargantua’, your comeback track from last year on the record? Why was that one chosen to lead with?
In what ways do you think ‘Whipped & Glazed’ is a step up from your debut? Well, first of all, it’s more direct -
lyrically yeah, but also in terms of sounds. We wanted to make this an album that had one eye on how we would play it live, and we knew from the beginning we wanted to focus on drums, samples and guitar more as a core starting point. For better or worse, that means there’s no hiding here, and so far that’s made for wilder gigs, no question, because there’s no choice but to channel the songs somewhere. The instrument parts can’t be played without conviction because they wouldn’t work that way. Similarly, with the words - they want a reaction. How would you like the album to make listeners feel? Enjoyably conflicted. I think that’s where we finally got to. Being torn is a feeling that anyone can recognise. It’s a painful place to be sometimes, but when you’re not alone in it, then it’s something that’s greater to share and maybe even wallow in. What else have you got going on this year? Can we expect lots of touring? Finishing more music... lots of shows, yes... reconnecting with everyone too. We’ve got a lot of the world to reintroduce ourselves to. P Thumpers’ album ‘Whipped & Glazed’ is out 1st September.
THIS THIS IS THIS IS THIS IS THISIS IS HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF...
PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA PANCAKES, WORKING OUT TO FEEL BETTER, AND… BRAS AS HATS?
G EO F F ’S BAC K The boy is back in town. And by the boy, we mean George ‘Geoff’ Ezra. After a first album ‘Wanted On Voyage’ that saw him become one of the biggest selling acts in the country, our George is returning with a brand new single. If you’re in need of a bit of positively positioned chill without ending up nodding off along the way, ‘Don’t Matter Now’ has you sorted. Watch the video, starring Mary the dog, on readdork.com.
BY T H E S E A Loads of top-notch acts have joined the line up for By The Sea in Margate. Running from 29th September - 1st October, the festival will host sets from Marika Hackman, Dream Wife, HMLTD, Girl Ray, British Sea Power, Flamingods and more. They join headliners Everything Everything, Metronomy and The Libertines.
A M E RI CA N D RE A M Titled ‘American Dream’, LCD Soundsystem’s new fulllength will be released on 1st September. The album precedes UK dates in Manchester, Glasgow and London the same month.
RAG’N’BONE TOUR Rag’n’Bone Man has announced a huge UK tour for this winter, including two nights at London’s Brixton Academy. The run will kick off on 15th November in Dublin, going on to visit Glasgow, Manchester, London, Wolverhampton and Brighton. He’s playing in support of his debut album ‘Human’.
7:30. So I’m not the best morning person, but I’ve got better at getting up since we hit 2017. The latest I’ll sleep in now is 9:30 tops, but I’m usually up beforehand for work. I always have the best intentions to workout in the morning, but I’ve got into the habit of doing it in the evening. When we are on the road and touring, I tend to workout either before or after we play a show and that habit has crossed over to my time spent back home. Breakfast varies, I’ve gotten into pancakes recently with banana and peanut butter, but I’m also a big fan of a full English. It sets you up for whatever life decides to throw at you! I tend to have two coffees in the morning then try to dial it back a bit more over the course of the day. This is usually a large-scale failure. 8-8:30 is a lot of procrastinating. I tend to get distracted and start singing or playing piano or something that isn’t getting ready for my shift. I’m the last minute tooth brusher, I rarely do my hair and catching the bus is always a case of one of those extreme makeover before and afters as I usually do any makeup (if I can be arsed) on my journey. 8:30-10:00. Get on a bus (or two) and travel to work. I listen to a lot of music and try to take time to stay on top of current releases as much as indulging my all time favourites. I feel super at home on a bus it reminds me of being in the van on tour. Again, there’s a crossover, and when we are away I often do my makeup while we move, listen to music, read and catch up with the internet a little. This has now been adapted to my many journeys on a Stagecoach. Lately, I’ve been big into travel and revisiting Bill Bryson’s writing; I’m trying to read a little more here and there - no pressure. 10:00-16:00. I’ve worked the same job for five years now. I cover three stores in our area plus pick up extra shifts with a temp agency. Travel time is anywhere between 45 minutes to 60 minutes-plus, so it’s always nice to get a little bit of space to relax before I start a shift. Work’s best when it’s busy, and I like being rushed off my feet, it’s always a long day when you’re searching out things to do. 17:00. I enjoy cooking, though I don’t do anything particularly fancy day to day. I cook and sing with the radio on
while simultaneously catching up with all the boring jobs. Life maintenance 101. 18:30 is often spent interchangeably sitting with a guitar learning a song I’ve been listening to a lot or writing and messing around with song ideas on my acoustic. If anything sticks I record it super basic on my phone for future reference and come back to things when I get struck with inspiration. I don’t write every day, and I don’t force it too much if it’s not happening. Some days you’re out of ideas, and that’s normal. There has to be some level of acceptance there. I recently got back into Alanis Morrissette and have spent time playing ‘One Hand in My Pocket’ and admiring how well it’s written. After a tour, if we have a break from shows I give myself a little down time but I’m much better at sticking to a rehearsal schedule now than I have been before. I know if there’s a tour coming up I need to practice singing and playing guitar, strengthen my voice with warmups and prep to do the best I can while we are performing. It sounds boring, but it’s super important to me.
the same place. If I’m not at home I’m usually out with friends, or they’re here, we always cook something nice or hit up spoons for cheap drinks and food. We are all super supportive of each other and just pick up where we left off. Laughter is medicine, and I’m lucky to have such good friends especially when the band can be away / busy for varying periods of time. 23:30. I’m usually on my own at this point as my body clock runs a little later than the people I live with. Before bed, I tend to wind down with an episode of Parks and Recreation or The Office - long series that are easy to watch. Nothing too intense as I get way too hooked and stay up the entire night binge watching - this happened with both Orange is the New Black and Making a Murderer. Work was a slog the next day! P
20:00. I usually workout anywhere between 8 and 10pm and aim for four times a week though occasionally life gets in the way. I don’t have a gym membership, and I’m fortunate working in a warehouse that I walk and lift delivery totes, so I get somewhat regular exercise regardless. I walk in Stroud daily whether I’m working or have time off. I’m a country girl at heart and make the most of the scenery and English countryside. Workout wise, I choose a workout on an app on my phone and complete anywhere between 2-4 circuits. Some days I really can’t be bothered but force through as it helps considerably with my mental state (I suffer with long-term depression). The structure and focus on something that isn’t destructive helps keep me on track and better able to cope and manage with day to day life and activities. 21:00. I’m pretty social and organise to see friends when I’m home a minimum of two times a week alongside figuring out opportunities to see my partner who lives in a different part of the country. I spend a good hour or so each day on the phone to him and make time to keep our relationship strong even when we can’t be physically in
AUGUST 10TH - 12TH
THEY’RE OFF ON TOUR WITH DORK LIVE! THIS MONTH, ‘FYI’.
here’s a lot going on with Husky Loops. Debut single ‘Dead’ is a jarring tumble down the rabbit hole while ‘Fighting Myself’ is claustrophobic and pushing against the walls that surround it. They’re technical but human, cutting but full of heart. Taking a little bit of everything they fancy, it builds and destroys worlds in a heartbeat but as far-reaching as it goes, it comes from a very simple idea. “I just make the music I like,” explains Pietro. “We love music, we listen to it all the time and we make music we would like to listen to, that’s the
UPCOMING SHOWS + FESTIVALS
broad definition of what we try to make,” adds Danio before Tommaso continues, “We don’t write songs thinking how people are going to react, we just do what we like. Releasing their first song a year ago, the band spent five months working on their self-titled debut EP. It’s a four-track nightmare of dark tunnels, neon descent and rainbow enlightenment. It shows off what the band can do. “I can’t say we belong to a specific sub-genre,” continues Danio. “Some bands will say they belong to a scene but the things we like are so all over the place. This EP is quite heavy, its dark and I’m sure the stuff that will come after will be a shock because we’re going in other directions, because that’s the idea.” “We don’t see
ourselves as underground,” reasons Tommaso. ”We have many different faces.” With only four songs Out There, Husky Loops have already opened doors, windows, fire exits and secret entrances behind wardrobes. Where they go next is anyone’s guess. “I get bored very easily,” says Pietro. “We get bored very easily. We do what we like, so we can do anything. We’re free to do whatever we like.” Writing music sees the band bring ideas into the room, before the others kill the idea, and use the parts to build something new. It’s then passed from person to person, being destroyed, rebuilt, sampled and twisted, “until you get to a stage where you ask, what is this?” They’re not precious about their music, with their own enjoyment above everything else but really, the idea is simple. “Keep it bold.” P
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U K TO U R G RE E N D O O R STO RE , B RI G H TO N ( 10) , ACT RESS & B I S H O P, B I RM I N G H A M ( 1 1 ), ESQ U I RES , B E D FO RD (12 ) 24
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There’s no denying it - it’s properly summer now. The sun is out, the temperature is rising, and every weekend brings a new dusty festival field to camp up in. At times like this, there’s only one banger that will hit the spot. No. Not Will Smith. They say love at first sight isn’t a thing, but Vampire Weekend’s debut proved that’s a load of old bollocks. Its standout moment, ‘A-Punk’, may only be a little over two minutes long, but it packs more vitamin D in its limited lifespan than a whole shelf of Sunny Delight. In the summer banger league table, it reigns supreme.
FIND MORE ON OUR CONSTANTLY UPDATED BRAND NEW BANGERS SPOTIFY PLAYLIST AT READDORK.COM
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
THE WAY YOU USED TO DO
Josh Homme has a mark of quality that means something, and with ‘The Way You Used To Do’, it’s not losing any of its lustre. Led by a guitar line that sounds both trademark Queens and yet more swaggeriffic than ever before, this isn’t one of those brooding moments. It’s a high noon funk off, all hand claps and ding-a-lings. A line dance at the gates of hell, it could be no other band. And that’s the beauty of Queens of the Stone Age. When consistency reaches a certain level, it’s just raw brilliance.
YEAR OF HATE
There’s value in the unpolished gem. That’s something The Cribs know well. They’ve always had an ear for a killer hook or a sing-a-long verse. It doesn’t matter how much fuzz and grunge it’s packed under, it’ll still sparkle in the limelight. That’s why their long-term dalliance with Steve Albini has been such an exciting concept. Now we’re finally starting to see the fruits of their endeavour, those theories of a dream team combination are holding true. Like ‘In Your Palace’, ‘Year of Hate’ is as scrappy as The Cribs have ever felt –
but in the best possible way.
Everything Everything’s brand of pop music is a mad scientist’s creation. Every time they return, they feel like a band fresh enough to reinvent the wheel. Turn it square, it’ll make it more exciting! ‘Can’t Do’ is no different. Going from oddball to arms aloft in the space of seconds, it’s all falsetto and unconventional beats. It’s smarter than it seems, and yet happy to play gloriously dumb if required – all the time with a sparkle in its eye. Everything Everything know what they’re doing. It’s an art form they’ve perfected. 2017 is when weird becomes wonderful.
We don’t know where Friendly Fires are. Calvin is off being popular with the cool kids in the mainstream lanes. We need someone to deliver us an endless stream of sunny day bops. Thank fuck for Fickle Friends. To call ‘Glue’ just the latest in a line of fantastic pop songs would be to do it a disservice, but when keeping such exceptional company even the brightest of
Splat. That’s the sound of their tiny brains – the cranial matter of the boring bastards who drone on and on – blown out against the back wall. It’s dripping down like putrid red and pink custard. They’re done. They’re finished. Wolf Alice are back, and they’ve no time for any of their shite. We thought we knew them already. Conjurers of real world magic that fused together the organic to make music that sparkled as much as it raged. While ‘Yuk Foo’ may fundamentally be the same band, it’s also something impossibly exciting and new. Lights strobe. Noise grates like
moments takes its place in the pack. Through hazy hype and sun drenched vibes, it’s the latest sign that Fickle Friends are a band able to shoot for the stars. From what we’ve seen, they’ll probably find a universe all of their own to rule.
DON’T MATTER NOW
George Ezra had a great 2014. Ending up with the third biggest selling album of the year – he was only beaten by Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith – to call it a breakthrough debut would be an understatement. Yet, while his peers felt to be making huge, sweeping statements on a global scale, George did it by simply being himself. So when it comes to the big comeback, when the pressure should be on, in reality there’s nothing to worry about. Just like before, it’s just your man George Ezra, doing what he does best. And it works. If posi-chill was a genre, that’s what ‘Don’t Matter Now’ would
raw flesh against hard steel. Something, somewhere, is pulsing – a stress-driven migraine amidst a wall of distortion. Ellie Rowsell is growling, screaming even, her voice straining at the edges as it rips itself apart – equal parts unrelenting attitude and red hot fury. The spite is as good as another instrument as she calls out the world in increasingly vicious terms. One thread of bile is followed by an off-hand laugh, as chilling as it is unhinged. The sepia-filtered bonhomie of ‘Bros’ this isn’t. Gloriously trashy and yet razor sharp, ‘Yuk Foo’ is the all the sass of a militant wing of the Spice Girls inducted into a Nine Inch Nails inspired death cult. Its eyes are set firm, its grin unnervingly fixed. It’s absolutely fucking glorious. Down with boring.
be. Cruising under its own momentum, it’s a rejection of the modern condition. It can’t help but raise a smile and a glowing heart. While other acts may feel more of a statement, there’s a reason everyone loves George Ezra. You’d have to be broken not to.
The Killers’ return isn’t just another stadium-ready banger, it’s a filthy strut down Sunset Boulevard – wrapped in blinding technicolour that finds Brandon Flowers morphing himself into a shaman of success and swagger. It’s the moment The Killers submerge themselves in the synth-laden heaven they first carved back with ‘Hot Fuss’. They’re no longer the band who knock at the door, they’re booting it in. ‘The Man’ has an ego the size of any pop superstar and with good reason – whether it’s the take-off synth opening or the funky flavours, it’s nothing short of staggering. 25
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. Two Door Cinema Club, Grace Jones and Bonobo lead the charge in Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire this weekend, with First Aid Kit, Michael Kiwanuka, Sigrid, Ten Fe, Ray Blk and more also on the bill. The festival also has a reputation for top-notch food - no soggy chips here - and workshops covering nutrition, tai chi, archery, lots of yoga, and something called ‘pimp your pineapple’.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHARLI XCX. No one can throw a party like our Chazza - staying up until 4am, ice all up in a plastic cup, gonna rip it up, the neighbours might complain... Sorry, got sidetracked there. Our invite is in the post, yeah?
TIME FOR LEEFEST. Lakes, workshops, beach parties, hot tubs, glitter wrestling, cinema, drag shows, cabaret, circus, retro game arcades, Fickle Friends, Pumarosa, Shame, Wild Beasts, Superfood and loads more to boot. It’s all-go at LeeFest this year.
ALL WE KNOW OF HEAVEN. We already know quite a lot about this album, as PVRIS have been nattering about ‘All We Know Of Heaven...’ for a while now. It’s “not hopeful or optimistic”, and they’ve been recording in a “haunted” church. Gloomy pop bangers it is, then.
POP POP POP. Pukkelpop in Belgium is probably one of the most fun international festivals going, just for its name alone. This year’s bill includes headliners Mumford and Sons, The xx and Bastille, as well as George Ezra, At The Drive In, The Flaming Lips, Mura Masa, Forest Swords, Death Grips, PVRIS, Tove Lo, First Aid Kit, London Grammar, Stormzy, Sigrid, Shame, Mac DeMarco and more.
WELCOME TO MY WORLD. Rat Boy’s debut is FINALLY here. It’s been a long old wait, hasn’t it? Originally due last year, ‘SCUM’ has had all sorts of bells and whistles added, including guest spots from none other than Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon.
FANCY A BIT OF NOISE? BEST HEAD TO BRISTOL, THEN... Partial to a bit of math-rock? Fan of post-rock, noise-rock, or anything-else-rock? You’ll be after ArcTanGent, then - a festival that owns its little corner of the musical landscape like no other. Located 10 miles south of Bristol, it’s packing the likes of Explosions In The Sky, Tesseract, Converge, Defeater, Future of the Left, Ho99o9 and more.
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE ARE BACK! BACK!!
BACK!!! The follow up to 2013’s ‘…Like Clockwork’, Josh Homme and co. are back with a new album. It’s been a long time coming.
COLDPLAY’S ‘RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD’ IS FIFTEEN YEARS OLD. It’s that one with ‘Clocks’ on it, ‘FYI’, and has sold around about 3 million copies, making it one of the best selling albums of this millennium. Shut up. You love it really.
DREAM ANOTHER DREAM. Everything Everything drop their new album ‘A Fever Dream’ today. If you’re a fan of oddball pop with a smart-as-fuck edge, you’re on to a winner. Be sure to check out Grizzly Bear’s new album ‘Painted Ruins’ too.
MUSE ARE PLAYING A CHARITY SHOW. Muse are playing an intimate live show at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in aid of The Passage. A ‘by request’ show, ticket holders can choose up to ten of their favourite Muse tracks, with votes dictating the set.
IT’S THE END OF THE ROAD. Father John Misty and Mac DeMarco head up a bill of some of the most critically well-loved acts around: Perfume Genius, Car Seat Headrest, Parquet Courts, Ty Segall, Marika Hackman, Alvvays, The Lemon Twigs, Pixx and loads more. If you’re going to End of the Road, you’re likely already one of those people who’d find it hard to imagine settling for anything less.
Three acts you must see at Reading & Leeds... Charli XCX
By tradition, Reading & Leeds is a rock festival, but those preconceptions went out the window years ago. And anyway, there’s no stage on the planet HRH Queen of All Pop Charli XCX couldn’t make her own. She’s punk as fuck, after all.
We’ve put our Dec on the cover for a reason. If Reading & Leeds are good for anything, it’s a good old sing-a-long. With his debut album out, expect one for the ages when he shows up over the bank holiday weekend.
Get Inuit are one of the hottest indie pop talents in the country right now. So, if you’re booking them for a huge festival, where do you put them? Yep. The Dance Stage. If anyone is going to step up to the challenge, though, it’s this lot.
INCOMING THE ALBUMS YOU SHOULD BE EXPECTING.
T H E K I L L E RS Title: Wonderful Wonderful Due: September We don’t have a specific date for the new album from The Killers just yet, but frontman Brandon Flowers confirmed ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ would be out in September when debuting new disco dancer ‘The Man’. Can’t wait, mate.
T H E H O RRO RS
BANK HOLIDAY BANGERS
One of the last big festivals of the UK summer, Reading & Leeds is already on the horizon. Get ready for a bank holiday weekend packed with brilliant bands. here are certain rules to festival season in the UK. You kick off properly with the May Bank Holiday, and a bunch of exciting, new band focused inner city festivals. You really get into gear with The Great Escape - and by the time you’ve shaken that hedonistic weekend by the sea you’re ready for Glastonbury. At the other end of the scale comes our other great festival tent pole, Reading & Leeds. If Glastonbury is the point where we start getting dusty in fields, the close of summer extravaganza is the beginning of
the end. There’s no need to get down about it though. If we’re going out, we’re going out in style. From headliners like the bonkers Kasabian, the star power of Eminem and the proven force of Muse, the names are in attendance. Add to that the likes of Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club, Circa Waves, Liam Gallagher, Haim, Everything Everything and Charli XCX and we’re really cooking. But the established stars aren’t the only place Reading & Leeds can bring it. Elsewhere, the festival is packed to the rafters with the new names that dominate Dork’s favourite lists.
Title: V Due: 22nd September The Horrors’ fifth album ‘V’ was produced by Paul Epworth. “It is a risk,” says Faris Badwan of the band’s evolution. “But life isn’t much fun without risk. It’s the antithesis of being creative if you know what you’re going to be doing every time.”
We’ve got cover star Declan McKenna, alongside previous alumni VANT, Marika Hackman, Glass Animals Sundara Karma, Blaenavon, The Big Moon, Will Joseph Cook, Black Honey and The Japanese House. And if that’s not enough, even more of the squad are showing up too, with Rat Boy, The Magic Gang, INHEAVEN, Get Inuit, Mura Masa, Pumarosa, King Nun and Fickle Friends all set to show up this August bank holiday weekend. As usual, we’ll have our crack team of reporters on the ground, bringing you all the news, photos, reports and more. Keep ‘em peeled at readdork.com for loads more. P
WO L F A L I C E Title: Visions Of A Life Due: 29th September The follow-up to wildly successful debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’, Wolf Alice describe their new effort as “fundamentally a personal album”. They tour the record in November, with a run that includes a massive night at London’s Ally Pally.
CONNECTION STUFF YOU SAID. STUFF THEY SAID.
@littlemix: sober me left drunk me a snack in my clutch bag for when I got hungry on my night out and I couldn’t be prouder of sober me. xjadex
GET IN TOUCH! TWITTER: @READDORK FACEBOOK: DORKMAGAZINE INSTAGRAM: @READDORK EMAIL: CONNECTION@READDORK.COM
Jade, Little Mix 1. YES. This is the kind of forward thinking pop star genius we can get behind. 2. WE’VE FINALLY GOT LITTLE MIX INTO DORK!
CONNECTION DORK PO BOX 390 HASTINGS TN34 9JP
LETTER OF THE MONTH YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!
Hey there, Dork, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs just announced they’re coming back off hiatus. This is very exciting. Aren’t Yeah Yeah Yeahs the best? Andrew, Glasgow Is that a question that even needs asking, Andy? Of course Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the best. Heck, they’re probably The Best - capital letters, official status, with a proper not printed off your computer certificate
Dear Dork, Have Foo Fighters finished their Glastonbury set yet? Amy, Nottingham Good question, Amy. People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff. When we think about it, that’s almost certainly what was going on with Dave Grohl’s hair, and as such, he’s probably locked in some kind of time-loop for eternity, doomed to make ‘Monkey Wrench’ last until the universe collapses in on itself. Or Ed Sheeran comes on. One or the other.
PRAISE THE LORDE
Dear Dork After watching her Glastonbury set on the telly, is Lorde the best pop star on the planet right now? She is, isn’t she? Shelly, Liverpool It’s a complex equation, Shelly. 28
to boot. See, we have all kinds of amazing not-quite-pop-but-lets-call-thempop-stars about right now. Queen Annie of Clark just dropped a brilliant new St. Vincent track, for one. But there’s only one high priestess of angular, brilliant indie rock, and that’s Karen O. While she’s done a bit of ‘solo stuff’ while YYYs have been on their ‘hiatus’, you’ll forgive us for craving the full on visceral joy of her fronting one of the
WI N A WI ‘DOW ! T H
B best bands on T-S ORIN HIR G’ the planet. T! Granted, they’ve not announced much yet - one festival show at the time of press, but there’s something special about Yeah Yeah Yeahs that makes them just being ‘about’ again feel impossibly exciting. Like anything could happen, as long as anything is A Bloody Good Time with Really Brilliant Music.
But what makes a pop star 14/10 amazing has definitely changed over the last few years, and that’s in part down to Lorde. With ‘Melodrama’ she’s changed up the game again, too. Insincerity has become poison in the world of pop, because our Ella has shown us another way. Running the numbers, we’re happy to call it. Yes, Lorde is the best.
POSTCARD FROM THE FRONT LINE THOSE BANDS. THEY GO OFF ON TOUR, THEY NEVER RING. WE’RE WORRIED ABOUT THEM. TO PUT OUR MINDS AT REST, WE’RE INSISTING THEY CHECK IN AND KEEP US UPDATED. THIS MONTH...
@GetInuit: wth...... umm how can she get away with this?
Get Inuit IDK, Kendall. Ripping off these musical legends like, erm, y’know. This lot.
PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT
E P Y H . W BANDS E N L A I T ESSEN
O L L O B O C N FRA LI V E LI FE ’, U M ‘L O N G D EB U T A LB R EI TH H W IT N TH E TO TA K E O RE RE A DY A O LL BO FR A N C O MAN. IC A G O O D RD S: JE SS O W D. RL WO
e’re going to have a record on our merch stand!” frontman Simon Nilsson enthuses. “Up until now it’s only been crackers and glasses of water,” he laughs. “And some homemade cheese,” guitarist Petter Grevelius adds. Taking a break from shooting the video for recent single ‘Worried Times’ ahead of their debut album release this summer, Francobollo are in high spirits. They’ve every reason to be. Fresh from a tour with Marika Hackman and Our Girl, with their first album about to drop and a headline tour on the horizon, the future’s looking bright for the Sweden-via-London quartet. Seven years in the build-up, ‘Long Live Life’ is a chronicle of the ever-evolving cosmic energy that band and fans alike relish in. “One thing leads to another: you musically fall in love, then you start making music together,” Petter describes of what drew them to form the band. “It’s like making babies.” Relocating from Lund to London as they set about making a name for themselves, it wasn’t long before their music started to catch on further afield.
ING V A H F O D A STE “IT’S LIKE IN TH E G N I N N I W O N E SPERM HEM!” T F O E V L E ’S TW CONTEST, IT
“We played in London for ages,” Petter recalls. “You start noticing that the crowds are quite different in certain places,” Simon adds. “In Scandinavia for example, and in Norway, no one wants to be the first one to clap in the room. “No one’s ever excited to the point of them not caring about social rules and structures,” he laughs. It’s through these live shows that Francobollo sparked their reputation. Armed with a galactic sonic pallet, a whirlwind of energy, and an engaging sense of humour, the outfit have taken their time to build up something spectacular. Now, with an album made up from twelve of their strongest songs about to see release, the group couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s kind of like instead of having one sperm winning the contest, it’s twelve of them,” Simon describes of the record. “Like if you had twelve kids at the same time.” Rather them than us, but the group are quick to roll with the analogy. “They all came out at the same time, but were made in different times,” Simon illustrates. “That’s kind of the ‘Long Live Life’ concept,” he laughs. “It’s got a really naive sense to it,” Petter offers of the title. “’Long Live Life’ sounds like ‘YAY! We’re musketeers! We’re fighting dragons!’” he cheers. “Life is long, and you live it, and you walk it,” Simon counters. “It’s weird – kind of like Francobollo’s music. You can’t really decide what it is that you’re feeling.” Described by the group as being “kind of like a greatest hits up until now,” ‘Long Live Life’ incorporates everything from thunderous garage rock through cruising synth pop and stripped back harmonies to indie at its most anthemic – sometimes all within the space of one song. Evading description by being a little bit of everything they want to be, with their debut record Francobollo present a world that’s thrillingly freewheeling in its chaos. “The album is all over the place,” the frontman describes. “Every second it changes. It’s just an explosion! And life is kind of like an explosion. That’s
why ‘Long Live Life’ feels good.” With a title that sounds celebratory and melancholy in equal measure, on their debut album, Francobollo offer a condensed and ever dynamic taste of everything they’ve grown to be. “It seems like the better we get as musicians, the more the songs change into different things,” Petter expresses. “The way we recorded was very much to capture the moment in time that we were playing, so the songs were all kind of fresh and new to us as well.” Addictively raw at the same time as being deliciously smooth, the album seems to live and breathe, thriving and flourishing as if by instinct alone. “I saw this interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park,” Petter states. “They never thought that they would be able to continue doing what they were doing so they were always trying to outdo everything.” Such a process isn’t too dissimilar from what has driven Francobollo this far. “We just want it to work so we can do it again but in different ways,” Petter expands. “We’ve been doing it for so long now that we want to be able to continue doing it because we really love doing it.” “And do another one, and do another one, and do another one…” Simon adds. “We’re actually working on our second album already,” he enthuses. “Jamming, coming up with ideas, recording it on our phones,
and then dreaming about it. That’s kind of almost done.” Having spent seven years building up to a debut record, and now with a second album almost ready before the first is even released, Francobollo have their foot on the pedal ready to speed wherever the future may take them. “What I’m most looking forward to is looking at everyone else in the band and seeing how they react to it,” Petter enthuses of their upcoming headline shows. “It’s going to be really funny to see the excitement.” “It would be really good to be able to make music and then through that explore other kinds of art and other kinds of expression and just get completely free hand to do that,” he adds, looking forwards. “We want to be realistic too, but that would be the dream for me.” “I think our dream is to have our own studio somewhere on a big piece of land, with a river flowing behind it, and a little boat, and you grow your own tomatoes,” Simon counters. “Somewhere we can sit on the porch and record our country album, playing the banjo, and smoking a pipe,” he laughs. “That’s kind of the dream: just living an easy life through music,” while Petter affirms, “as long as there’s a wheat straw in my mouth when I come home, I’m happy.” P Francobollo’s album ‘Long Live Life’ is out now.
ON ON THE THE GRAPEVINE GRAPEVINE
INHEAVEN have announced the supports for their upcoming UK tour. Joining the band on the autumn run, which kicks off on 30th September in Newcastle, are King Nun, Bloxx, Otherkin and Paris Youth Foundation. M O RE O F M U N A
MUNA have announced a London show later this year. The trio, who released their debut album ‘About U’ earlier this year, will play Heaven on Halloween, 31st October. They’re fitting the date into their support run with Harry Styles, ‘FYI’.
SWIMMING GIRLS Introduce your band - who’s in it, and what do you all do? How did you get together? So we have Vanessa on lead vocals, Jay on electric guitar, Roo on synths and Max on drums! We met at uni in Bath - drawn to each other from day one. We were all obsessed with sounds/visuals from the same eras (80s and 90s pop culture). I think we all have an inner darkness as well… You’ve just launched your first track, ‘Tastes Like Money’ - how did you go about creating it? ‘Tastes Like Money’ is a funny one, because the truth is none of us can really remember how the process went. We do know it started with Jay bringing the raw instrumental guitar track and the lyrics: “sweetness drips from your lips in a kiss”. The rest simply happened, lol. Instrumentally the song suggests alternative 80s bands such as The Cure or Cocteau Twins, while melodically and vocally, poppier
VANESSA, JAY, ROO AN D MAX TE AM U P TO SPILL THE BEANS ON EVERYTH IN G YOU N E E D TO KNOW ABOUT SWI MMIN G G IRLS AN D TH E IR SMASHI NG RETRO POP.
acts of the same era come to mind. Lyrically the song explores the idea that all love comes at a price (no, not prostitution). What is it about 80s and 90s pop culture that you find so alluring? Nostalgia? Escapism? 80s and 90s pop culture is alluring because it feels like a different world
now. Artistically these last eras before digital feel so stylistically defined in their very being that any image or sound from them feels like art. A lot of people, ourselves included, look to the pop culture of these times as escapism from the ever-blurring genre-saturated digital culture of today. Also, there are so many bangerzz!
What do you guys like doing outside of band life? Outside of band life, we’re all film fans, especially work that pushes boundaries. David Lynch is someone we’re constantly fascinated with. Overwhelmed that Twin Peaks is back baby!! Photography’s also a particular interest to us. P 31
UT DEB HIS ING. G R I N WA I T LIVE IN Y D E S TA R L L F I N A S U P E R T. S I T A A RRI O ENN K OF M C K E WO R P PY M A AN H O L T P C I K E OTO S : , DE DS L H C KS TRA T SOUN UNG. P T N I O A Y I T L U N RI L Y, B RT Y O F B U I ETL : MA R I N G E R I T Q WO R D S T S ER A WHISP AFT
eclan McKenna always knew he was going to make something of himself. Back when he was a little kid, he had his whole pop star future pegged. “Dec, what do you think about the car, d’you like it?’ asks his sister in the home video snippet that opens his debut fulllength, to which our future indie icon replies: “I think it’s really good and now I’m going to sing my new album.” From there Declan’s path was set. Sitting in a dressing room in Glasgow’s famous King Tuts on his latest sold-out tour, Dec is enjoying every minute of his rise. “Meteoric!” he jokingly cries when asked to describe the last couple of years. In a room adorned with gifts from fans, it’s clear that a lot of people are interested in Declan. He’s now officially A Very Big Deal. “Perhaps they can start again, and replace the names with mine when I become Bowie mk 2,” he laughs, talking about the venue’s famous staircase listing all the illustrious names that have graced their stage. He’s not there yet, but give him time. Just as easily able to laugh at himself as he is write whip-smart indie pop songs, Declan is on the cusp of something big.
vital young voice. With that, though, comes a greater responsibility. In the middle of the storm, it’s important to keep perspective. “You see so much written that you have to distance yourself a little bit,” he says. “You have to form your own opinion about yourself and ignore any other. The written word can be toxic whether it’s positive or negative. I look at that stuff less and less. Recently on social media, I’ve tried to ignore any opinion on me because you either end up with an ego or just feeling like shit.” Declan’s switched on enough to recognise the pitfalls of being active online, as well as the opportunity to connect with fans. “It’s so silly; people can just be so mean and horrible.” He laughs as he recalls an incident of some abuse prompted by a typical Declan on stage prank. “The other day at a Manchester gig I wrote Marry Me on my shirt as a Morrissey tribute and people were like, ‘Oh, you’re just a rubbish Morrissey! Who are you!
to be, ‘THIS is the Declan McKenna album’. Now, I’ve experimented a lot, and there’s a mixture of sounds. I’m not too fussed to say – this is what a Declan McKenna song sounds like. It’s an album, but it’s not the be all and end all of what sonically makes Declan McKenna.” Declan refers to himself in the third person a lot. Not because he’s got an inflated opinion of himself, but more because he’s aware of Declan McKenna, the creative personality. Declan McKenna, the performer. One of the best things about his growth has been the emergence of a genuine character with a reluctance to conform to expectations. He’ll always do things his way. This confidence in his own skin, though, is at odds with some of the songs on the album. While knocking it out of the park on the banger scale, they’re cloaked in uncertainty and doubt - a doubt that matches these uncertain times.
that I loved, and it never appeared on an album, I’d be annoyed cos it was difficult to get. It’s important to have them on there, even if my voice is different on the later songs.” The songs Declan has been writing more recently highlight the different elements of his personality. “The album is about me being playful and positive about not necessarily happy topics,” he says. “That’s what I’m like as a character. I try not to be too distant from serious topics as well. The two go together.” “I’ve talked about loads of things in songs,” he expands. “When you’re in a world surrounded by mad shit happening, it’s hard to ignore if you’re an artist. A lot of art is inherently political. It’s hard to avoid when you’re looking at the world around you, and you see injustice. It’s easy to let it out into art. It’s even more important now I’ve got a platform to talk about certain subjects and get people engaged in making their own art and doing things themselves. It’s always been a part of what I’ve wanted to do as an artist.
“WHEN YOU’RE IN A WORLD SURROUNDED BY MAD SHIT HAPPENING, IT’S HARD TO IGNORE.”
“It’s happened really quickly compared to artists who have been doing things for years and years,” he explains, recalling that the journey began with him releasing his debut single ‘Brazil’ to almost instant global recognition. “I got signed when I was 16. Things picked up relatively quickly. The rise of my career is like when you haven’t seen your aunt for a while, and she’s like, ‘Oh, haven’t you grown! That was quick!’ You see yourself grow every day, so you maybe don’t notice it as much as everyone else.” With each new release, Declan has established an identity as an artist unafraid to deal with big themes. From ‘Paracetamol’’s examination of transgender misrepresentation in the media to ‘Isombard’’s lamenting of police brutality and right-wing news, a strong theme of social responsibility runs through his work. A key part of Declan McKenna’s rise has been establishing himself as a
You’re shit!’ It was just a joke! If you talk about something people are quite passionate about like politics, it’s much more than just ‘You’re a shit Morrissey’ - people actually hate you.” Still, if Declan is winding up grumpy old Morrissey fans, then he’s almost certainly doing something right. That sort of playfulness is at the heart of everything Declan does. He’s an artist who has a gift for being socially engaged but silly and playful at the same time. Take the album title for example. There was no way Declan was going to go for the tired old self-titled debut. ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ is a very Declan title. Add in the striking artwork (either a homage to Mark Owen circa 1993 or the Monster Energy logo, if you believe Declan), and you have an altogether distinctive package. “I like interesting album names, and I wanted to do something that had a story behind it,” he begins. “If I were to self-title an album, it would have
“There’s a lot of questions on the album,” he explains. “Two of the song titles are questions. There aren’t many considered themes. It wasn’t going to be a concept album in any way. What I have noticed is that the more I look at the songs, there are more questions than answers, especially to a lot of the stuff regarding my personal life and the stuff based on politics. A lot of confusion, questioning and a lack of certainty. It’s encompassed within the two or three years that I put these songs together.” All the songs on the album were written over a three-year period. Despite his songwriting development though, it’s still important for him to have those older songs on the album. “I prefer the songs I write now compared to ‘Brazil’ that I wrote when I was 15,” he says. “But it’s my biggest song and loads of people found me through it. If I was a fan of a band and they had a massive song
A key song on the album is ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’. It’s one that defines Declan, influenced by the light-hearted and the dark and heavy. Ending on a recording of his manager’s kids running riot in the studio, blowing raspberries into producer James Ford’s fancy eight grand mics, it’s a song that took Declan to the next level. “I thought, why don’t I write a song like Pulp?” he chuckles. Lofty heights indeed. The song went through a few stages, beginning when he was ill at a festival in Somerset, but finally coming together while Declan was in Paris on the night of the Bataclan attacks. “I was in Paris the day of the attacks, and I was very close. It was pretty scary. On the train home, I was trying to distract myself. I was confused and shook up. All that confusion and fear went into ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ and I ended up finishing it that day. It all came together to finish the song. “It was a statement against a lot of preconceptions about young people, trying to stand up against things that are happening in the world. It’s a serious song but is tackled in ways that are quite childish. Like, you don’t wanna come home if you’re playing outside after school. That’s what it
sounds like to me, but at the same time, it’s quite powerful. It’s one of my favourites on the album. It’s fun and anthemic and feels like a big statement. I wanted to stand against misrepresentations of youth.” Of course, we’ve just been through a period where there have been lots of misconceptions about young people that have just been shattered by Jeremy Corbyn’s staggering general election performance. Someone like Declan McKenna is a lightning rod for the kind of engaged youth who proved so vital in standing up against the government and making their voice heard. It’s a movement that’s close to Declan’s heart. He’s long been a campaigner for extending the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds. He’s still one of the kids that he’s singing about. We’re all in this together. “The main thing is to think about who the politicians are as people and whether you can agree with them in what you believe in,” he begins. “It could be harmful to your future or really good for your future. That’s the main thing. People might think it’s too confusing or doesn’t have an impact, but it really really does. You have to be somewhat selfish and somewhat selfless in who you vote for, and think who is genuinely going to do the best for the most people in this country.”
There’s an assurance about everything Declan does right now. He knows who he is as an artist and knows what he wants to do in the future. Every new experience is an adventure. See, for example, his blinding debut appearance on Later with Jools Holland last year with his newly formed killer band, or even going back to performing on
to be quite poignant. On the first St Vincent album, the last line is ‘I’m out of here’, that’s the perfect end of the album. The last line on my album is ‘Trust in me’. It’s like, it’s a confusing time, but I’m holding it together. It’s a double meaning. I think it’s cute.” With a lot of the songs being a few years old now, Declan is already looking to the future, and the album’s opening track is the song that suggests what comes next. “‘Humongous’ is the last song I wrote for the album,” he reveals. “It’s a good word. It encapsulates a lot of the stuff that’s happened to me. It came from laughing about pieces saying, ‘Declan McKenna is going to be massive’. It’s looking at how people see Declan McKenna the artist, compared to actually being a human being. In that sense, it sums everything up.”
“I’M AN EASY PERSON TO CALL A VOICE OF A GENERATION, BUT I’M JUST DOING MY BIT.”
Declan feels part of a movement of more engaged voices, leading the charge against an out of touch government who don’t really care about young people and their concerns. “The Tory government we have doesn’t really want young people to vote, and doesn’t encourage it the way it should,” he muses. “I never heard about voting at school. All the education I’ve had has been through family or friends or researching online. In school, there’s barely anything. It doesn’t happen because of the government we have. It’s down to artists to try to encourage fans to get out there and make their voices heard.” Despite his platform, Declan is wary about being seen more than just someone speaking his mind. “The voice of a generation is a flattering thing for someone to say, but at the same time I just don’t think it’s true,”
he laughs. “The generation I’m in is so complex, and there are so many different types of people from all over the place. I think because I’m vocal about politics, I’m an easy person to call a voice of a generation, but I’m kind of just doing my bit. I’m just a cog in a generational wheel. There’s so much going on and so many intelligent people that don’t have the same platform or opportunities that I’ve had.”
American late night telly barely five minutes after he was signed. “I’ve always wanted a band,” he says. “We’re getting better and better all the time. It’s important to have a great show and enjoy it yourself. You do get tired on the road, especially if you don’t enjoy playing the set. You don’t want to put all your energy into repetition. Having a high energy live show is quite rewarding. It’s taken a lot of effort, but we want to make it more of a show.” One of the most exciting experiences was working with ex-Vampire Weekend whiz kid Rostam. “He was really fun and helpful. It was awesome considering I was a fan since I was young,” he says. The song they co-wrote was the last song on the record, ‘Listen To Your Friends’. “The last line on the album I wanted
There are few other artists as switched on as Declan and, despite the hype surrounding him, he’s aware of the darker side of fan culture. “I’ve been thinking about modern fan culture. It’s helped me get to where I am today, but at the same time, I find it kind of scary. If you want to love an artist, then do it, but don’t trust them. Don’t think I’m perfect.” As he sticks on the green cap that a fan gave him Declan embarks on one of his little anecdotes that make him such an endearing character. He tells a tale of a friend who knew someone receiving some odd fan mail. “Bob Plant was an old geezer, who might be dead now, and lived on my friend’s nan’s road. He always got sent loads of fan mail for Robert Plant. He’d get loads of people’s bras and stuff sent to him when really it was just this old geezer who lives in Shoreditch.” Perhaps there’s a Declan McKenna somewhere in Essex receiving a big sack of baseball caps and fan mail
DECLAN AND PIZZA SQUIRREL: PART II A lot of crazy things have happened to Declan McKenna over the past few years, but one event was particularly nuts. In April, Declan was just idly strolling past a park in London when he came across a plucky squirrel defending a slice of pizza it found from an intimidating flock of pigeons. Capturing the stand-off in a series of tweets Declan was stunned to find the story published in actual newspaper the Daily Mirror. “I just thought it would be fun to take a picture of a squirrel! When I saw it in the news, I was like no way, that’s not real. Journalism is funny,” he laughs. “It’s nice that everything doesn’t have to be doom and gloom though and someone can publish an article about a squirrel eating a pizza. This is a good scoop.” There was even more to the squirrel tale than first published though. “After I took the picture of the squirrel eating the pizza, I found the pizza box, and I swear to god all the pineapple had been picked off. The squirrel has confirmed that pineapple does not go on a pizza. That is an ultra-meme. I didn’t think about it until after I left the park. It’s a metaphor for life. When life gives you pineapples pick them off a pizza.” Declan McKenna and the squirrel, 2017’s greatest duo.
every week. There’s a lot on the horizon for Declan. In the immediate future, his ambitions are a bit simpler, though, as he drops a big dollop of chilli on his trousers. “I’m getting a new pair of trackies! That’s ruined my day,” he laughs. “My ambitions are I want to keep creating and come up with something completely different to do next. I’m trying to think ahead beyond this album. It’s going to be a hectic year. There are no songs on the album from when I was 18. There’s so much I want to say now.” There’s no doubt that, once he gets it down, it’ll be worth listening to. P Declan McKenna’s debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ is out 21st July.
LUCY ROSE’S NEW ALBUM AND ACCOMPANYING DOCUMENTARY HAVE SEEN HER HEAD OUT ON AN ADVENTURE FEW GET TO EXPERIENCE. WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN.
ast year, Lucy Rose spent the best part of two months in South America. Playing thirty-three shows across the continent, it may sound like your average tour, but this was slightly different. Okay, it was very different. Having found out that next to London, her second largest fanbase is in South America, Lucy shared a post on her website saying that she’d tour anywhere there that fans suggested, but on two conditions: one, they book the gig; and two, she could stay with them while there. Lucy soon found herself thrust deep into the lives of so many people, all due to songs she wrote many years ago on her own. “I’m always a bit sceptical of what it sounds like, that I just went travelling and ‘found myself’,” she laughs. “That’s not really what it’s about. Even when I’m like, ‘Oh I went and lived with my fans’, I worry people are going to be like, ‘Oh what’s she trying to be a saint or something?’” The way Lucy discusses the last year of her life is with a sincerity that can only come from a good place; her feelings are also more than evident in the short film that captured this life-changing journey. ‘Something’s Changing’, both the title of said film and her upcoming third album is the most open Lucy has been yet. Having found herself at a bit of a loose end after her last album, ‘Work It Out’, which was supposed to be her “breakthrough”, it didn’t quite fit into Lucy’s plan. Now doing things sans label and by her own rules, Lucy is in a stronger position ever - she’s even managing herself, though that does come with its own problems, such as answering emails at 6am. “Making that decision was hard because I feel
like I can do it, and I think it’s better for me, for my own enjoyment, but then there’s the odd moment where I just don’t want to let anyone down.” Lucy is far from letting anyone down; few artists have gone so far for their fans. While her impact on their lives is evident from the testimonial she’s received from speaking to friends of said fans (such as, “she’s a changed person since the trip because she was so lacking in confidence”), what Lucy got from the trip is something she never imagined. “I got so much out of the experience. I could never repay the people who asked me to go there;
[How it is] to be a girl living there, or what it’s like if someone’s gay, how that wasn’t within their society and how that made them feel, or how a song has helped them. You could go a lot deeper, and I guess that’s made the connections with the people that we stayed with so intense.” She even heard about first-hand experiences of protesting in South America. “In Brazil, we were hanging out with this young boy, and we talked about politics and how frustrated they were. I said, ‘Why aren’t you guys going and protesting about it?’, and he said he did and pulled his trousers up and he had
“I GOT SO MUCH OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE.” I’ll never be able to fully explain to them how amazing it was. The whole experience, and how their kindness and their encouragement to carry on writing music, it’s made a huge difference to me.” One way the trip has helped her is the bond formed by spending every single second with the very people who went out of their way to help create this journey. Small talk would find itself worn out pretty sharpish, replaced by more meaningful conversations that would show Lucy how much more to life there is. “I could ask much deeper questions.
three rubber bullet holes in his legs where he’d been shot, and it’s just like, what the hell?!” “I absorbed all of that from all of these people and all of their stories and all of their feelings because they all opened up to me,” she continues. “It gave my songs this intensity that they hadn’t had before. It gave me perspective on things, on what’s really important in life, I’d never really had that before.” Lucy uses the word “intense” a lot while talking about everything from the trip to the documentary and her
album, but once you’ve experienced the latter two, you fully understand why. Throughout the film she shares everything, beginning to end. There’s the elation from realising that the idea that popped into her head a few months before is now a tangible thing, through to the exhaustion that comes from such extensive and gruelling travelling - not to mention playing fifteen shows in a row at one point. It’s all about being open and honest with everything that happens because ultimately, that’s life. Describing this process, she laments: “It’d be so much easier for me if I just pretended I was going through these feelings if I became a different character and didn’t feel it. I keep thinking, why don’t I do that? But I think my imagination isn’t very good. I think that if I haven’t felt it, then I don’t know how to describe it.” Which is where the idea for the trip and Lucy’s disillusion with music came to a head, she explains. “The way for me to write my best stuff is to like dig deep within myself and what’s going on and why I feel a certain way and try and understand it, like I’m going through my own little therapy all the time, trying to work stuff out.” Truthfully, it all boils down to the essence of being a singer/songwriter - someone who tells stories for others to enjoy. “Music has been the most important [thing] to me in my life so I thought, wow if I could have that impact on even one person, and make a record that really means something to somebody, then that’s worth something. That’s where my priority was, that’s what I wanted to do.” It turns out she had that impact on an entire continent no one expected, which is a true testament to the spirit and draw of honest, heartfelt music. P Lucy Rose’s album ‘Something’s Changing’ is out now.
E K A A M
E N E C S BRO KE
F R POW ER O LF TH E STA ET HE R. BAC K TO G ’T HAV E HA N G O N D A Y G E BL O BA G TH N PR TI EY ET G TH E S, ’, TH EY ’R PE RG RO UP O F TH UN D ER A BO UT SU PL E G O O N A LB UM ‘H UG EV EN LO FT IN . EW N R EI W HE N PE O TH WO RD S: ST EN E. W IT H N SO C IA L SC
he idea of community is particularly prevalent at the moment, with the kindness of friends and neighbours blooming in an otherwise bleak landscape. It’s with a similar mentality that Broken Social Scene are returning after a seven-year break, minus a few festival shows, with fifth album ‘Hug Of Thunder’. What makes the record especially apt for these times is its beginnings: the 2015 Bataclan attacks in Paris prompting the band to bring their own brand of positivity back into the world. But that’s not the only link: arriving in the UK earlier this year for two shows to mark Broken Social Scene’s resurrection, the first date
was Manchester’s beloved son, Johnny Marr. “The fact that he came,” Kevin beams. “I said, ‘Johnny, we’ll never forget that, forever’. He was going to come originally, but then everything happened, and he didn’t want to do it. He was too emotional, but then near the end of the day, about an hour before the show, he came.” Breaking the story with laughter, he continues: “He was like, ‘Sorry to be dramatic!’ [I said], you be however you need to be.” This pair of UK shows were originally supposed to align with the album release. However, plans changed and it shifted to July - one of the few downsides to having such a vast number of members. “Putting the record together took some time,” Kevin explains, “just to select the songs because so many people had these loves and attachments, and you had to work through them.”
you’re dragging a fucking cavalcade, a travelling circus,” Brendan laughs. “But some days, the phone rings it’s like, ‘Hey, you wanna play with Morrissey at this castle in Malaga?’ You’re like, well I’ve never been to Malaga, let’s do it!” Each band member brings something different to the table, and since their 2001 debut, ‘Feel Good Lost’, Broken Social Scene have consistently tried new things. “I grew up in the suburbs, so I was into pro wrestling and heavy metal,” says Brendan, a self-confessed metal head, who’s a fan of bands like Slayer and Celtic Frost, “but I always liked pop music.” It’s his role to bring “the energy, the angst of it, I think that’s more my job in this band. I inject a bit of angst.” “At the end of the day, you’re just trying to do something new and fresh together,” Kevin continues, “and be who you are and sound
“IT’S A MIRACLE THAT WE EVER GET ANYTHING DONE.” was to take place in Manchester - the day after Ariana Grande performed at Manchester Arena. Their comeback show was thrown into a spotlight they hadn’t anticipated as one of the first in the city after a devastating terror attack that killed twenty-three adults and children. The following day, Kevin Drew and co-founder Brendan Canning are in London and feeling a little worse for wear. “Kevin was a little bit apprehensive,” Brendan explains, “but we just felt... you know, the bombing, and Ariana Grande - you felt a little bit nervous, but I was ready to get back at it.” “It’s good to be with your friends,” Kevin continues, “and yesterday was a very intense and beautiful day. It was the way we started; we were all with friends.” One of the friends in attendance
It’s difficult to pin down the band’s sprawling and ever-changing cast, which can include as few as five or as many as twenty people. “[We’re all] very strong-minded individuals,” Brendan says of their membership. “It’s a miracle that we ever get anything done. And that’s just the core members! Whether it’s Feist or Emily Haines, everyone’s strong, they can all produce their own record. They can all steer their own ships quite successfully.” Broken Social Scene are an organic beast, swelling and decreasing in number dependant on circumstance, but its core always remains. Touring can present an issue though - how do you bring a collective on tour? “We always try and get everybody out, but first it’s unaffordable and two it’s difficult scheduling wise,” Kevin offers. “It’s gotta be worth it because
like who you are and keep to the values of what got you there. It’s the muscle memory that keeps you going because you know the heartbeats of the people around you. It creates a comfort that makes it easier to be out there doing it, you are a team.” Broken Social Scene hold a special place in many a music fan’s heart - and their new album is both a world away from their early beginnings, yet somehow, much the same. ”You’re thinking, yeah, there’s twelve of us on stage, or the next show there’s five of us or the next there’s nine of us,” Brendan laughs. “You’re writing different songs, that’s the beauty when first starting out - you’re not thinking about the ‘industry’. I was more thinking, this feels good.” P Broken Social Scene’s album ‘Hug of Thunder’ is out now.
CAST OF THOUSANDS WHILE BRENDAN AND KEVIN ARE TWO OF THE CONCRETE CORE OF BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE, THERE ARE LOADS OF OTHER FACES YOU MAY RECOGNISE FROM ELSEWHERE.
LESLIE FEIST, AKA FEIST She’s appeared on every release since 2001’s ‘Feel Good Lost’, touring with them until 2005 when her solo career started to take off (‘1,2,3,4’, anyone?). JAMES SHAW The other half of the Metric founding duo, James was integral to during the band’s early days. In fact, so much so, Kevin was even once quoted as saying he considers James his husband to this day. Isn’t that lovely?
EMILY HAINES Emily, who also fronts Metric, is one of the busiest members going. She’s appeared on all five Broken Social Scene albums, provided vocals for MSTRKRFT and The Stills tracks, and has a new solo album due in September. ELIZABETH POWELL, AKA LAND OF TALK Having ‘officially’ joined the collective back in 2009, when not Land of Talk-ing, Elizabeth occasionally pops up on stage with them. TORQUIL CAMPBELL The co-lead singer and a songwriter for Montreal-based indie-poppers, Stars. He’s also a prolific actor, with credits both on stage and on screen - including a guest spot in Sex and the City, no less.
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O N E F RO M T H E V E RY I S O W N . I W D E K R WO F H N I F E S TO O R S , W H O ’S ND-COME IS HERE WITH A MA -A P U D N A IN-DEM A M ASA P ’S M O S T A R N , M U R Words: Ben Jolley O N E O F P OX C X T O D A M O N A L B CHARLI
efore introducing Mura Masa to the world, Alex Crossan would thrash it out in punk and metal bands from the age of 14. It’s not the kind of musical background you would expect from a producer who fuses trappy electronic beats with infectious pop hooks and counts Charli XCX, A$AP Rocky and Christine and the Queens among his collaborators. “I just liked the energy,” Alex enthuses, expanding on his love for punk music. “The energy is just so open and free and sort of expressive. I’d say it shares that with hip-hop in a lot of ways,” the now 21-year-old considers.
samples “from everywhere to try and teach myself how to produce music on my own and make an original sound”.
Inspired by his dad, a bassist in an 80s rock band, joining forces with other local musicians was the easiest way into music. “I was listening to a lot of hardcore at the same time as a lot of rap records and, other than that, it was the closest thing to me,” he says. Growing up in Guernsey, live music wasn’t one of the island’s main selling points. “There wasn’t really an electronic scene or a DJ scene at all so being in bands was the easiest way for me to get into music, learn how to play different instruments and how to play live.”
“It started to feel less like internet popularity and more like a real world
Having grown up on an isolated island, Alex didn’t get to experience music in the same way a lot of aspiring musicians his age might have. “Obviously it’s very isolated and closed off, so there wasn’t any vibrant music scene in the same way there is in London… there weren’t really any bands coming over to Guernsey to play,” he laughs. “But I do remember going to see Jools Holland play with his brass band, and watching Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 gigging in a local pub.” The lack of live music in his hometown was soon made up for, though, thanks to his mum’s taste in more traditional songwriters. “She got me into Joni Mitchell, and I’d listen to a lot of The Beatles growing up,” Alex remembers. “Other than that, bands like Gorillaz as well… it was quite a mixed bag.” But it was electronic music - discovered through the lens of the internet - that ignited his passion for producing. “It’s the energy, and I just liked that far off idea of clubbing and the electronic scene,” he says. Artists like Lunice, the LuckyMe Records crew and Hudson Mohawke “formed my first exposure to electronic music that I found really interesting,” he recalls. “From there, I discovered people like James Blake, SBTRKT and Cashmere Cat. It was quite a UK-centric way of discovering electronic music.” After finding his influences, Alex began pirating music software and downloading music
Having crafted his own early productions - all pitch-shifted vocals, light yet danceable beats and emotive, infectious lyrics - Alex began uploading them to SoundCloud under the name Mura Masa, gathering hundreds and then thousands of likes and plays - all while studying for his A-Levels. “I got my management sorted, and my SoundCloud following started to pick up quickly. I guess when I started playing live shows, the record deals started coming in and it all felt a bit more real and tangible,” he remembers of juggling education with a potential career in music.
wanted to get it done,” he recalls, “but I’m glad I waited because some of the people I’ve been able to collaborate with now would not have happened a year ago,” Alex says. “I’m glad I waited it out and made sure it was right.” Fusing the trap-heavy hip-hop of ‘All Around The World’, ‘1 Night’s infectious pop hooks and the Prince-esque funk of ‘Helpline’, ‘Mura Masa’ mixes multiple worlds. Rather than defining himself by a genre, Alex sets out his main goal: “My only real aim is to make good music that is interesting, translates well and is envelope-pushing in some way. I don’t try too hard to stick to one sound…” he continues, “and that probably shows.” Alex certainly isn’t wrong. “I guess it’s just a snapshot of what’s going on in music culture in the UK at the moment and a kind of
“IT’S A SNAPSHOT OF WHAT'S GOING ON IN MUSIC CULTURE.” crossover,” Alex considers, adding that his bubbling popularity didn’t feel entirely real, having started studying at university soon after. “I felt like it was this private thing, like I had built up this little following and didn’t really know who I was or where I was…” As his online popularity grew faster than he could have imagined, Alex left university “to take it a bit more seriously. I was focused on the music more than I was on my studies anyway,” he remembers. “That kind of took over and distracted me a lot. In the long term, it did me good, though.” It turned out to be a clever decision because Alex is just about to release his debut album, which is essentially a genre-crossing reflection of everything pop music should be in 2017: diverse, interesting and surprising. After two-and-a-half-years worth of writing and recording - almost entirely on his laptop and a lot of it in his bedroom - Alex is happy to draw a line under it. A year in, though, he started feeling the pressure. “I really
manifesto for all types of pop music,” he replies, when asked about what the record represents to him. “The cultures that are being cultivated and happening in London right now. I’m just excited for people to hear it finally and hope they enjoy the direction that it’s gone in.” Enlisting a massive roll call of collaborators, as well as working with artists signed to his Anchor Point Records imprint, Alex’s debut showcases the talents of some of the UK’s fastest-rising talents alongside international megastars. Recording ‘Love$ick’ with Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky at London’s iconic Abbey Road studios, for example, was particularly surreal. “It was a really special experience and kind of mad! He’s in London a lot and treats it as his second home, so he was really comfortable”. Working with Christine and the Queens, too, on the heartfelt ‘Second 2 None’, was an obvious highlight for Alex. “She recorded the whole song in two takes, straight off the bat - no warm-up. She’s just phe-
nomenal - one of the sweetest people I have ever met.” But arguably the most unexpected guest appearance on the record comes from Brooklyn rapper Desiigner. “I like that’s it’s an unexpected collab, and he brings a different flavour to the album,” Alex says, adding that he wanted the album to be as diverse as possible “in terms of the people on it and their backgrounds and what they have to say…” Collaborating with Desiigner was a back and forth process, via email and phone calls, crafting ‘All Around The World’ into “a traditional song structure, which he doesn’t really tend to do,” Alex continues. “So, I’m really happy I managed to get that out of him in a cool way. It’s a very 21st-century collaboration.” Then there’s ‘1 Night’, a playlist-friendly pop banger featuring the always-brilliant Charli XCX. “She was in LA at the time when we wrote that, and we spoke on the phone. The first time I met her was at the video shoot; she was super lovely, and I’m just very lucky to be able to collaborate with people like her,” Alex gushes. Meanwhile promoting newer, possibly unheard talents, he welcomes Tom Tripp, Bonzai and A. K. Paul. “I just like having that juxtaposition: names that people won’t necessarily have heard but their music is just as good. I think it’s important to cultivate new artists as well as collaborating with the bigger names. With all of them, though, it’s because I think their music is amazing and they’re super talented. It’s almost nothing to do with how big they are…” But Alex’s most memorable experience was working with his lifelong hero: Damon Albarn. “That was crazy,” he enthuses, still sounding shocked. “I’m not a very excitable person… I tend to stay very low key about stuff, but he originally got in touch about me working on the new Gorillaz album, and that was the craziest phone call I’ve ever received,” he laughs. “We went back and forth on some Gorillaz stuff, and I don’t think he used anything that I sent him, but I also sent him a couple of ideas for my own album.” Alex’s pluckiness paid off in the form of album closer ‘Blue’, which sees him duet with Damon to close out the record. “I think it’s just super important that he’s on there because he is a bastion of UK music. It’s really special to have him close out the album, and I love how it’s a duet as well. For me to sing on the same record as him and have him sing words that I wrote and melodies that I wrote, it’s a crazy thing to have happened to me. It doesn’t get much better than that, really.” P Mura Masa’s self-titled album is out now.
GOD COMPLEX BO M BAY B I CYC L E C LU Bâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S JAC K ST E A D M A N H AS A DV E N T U RE D TO A M E RI CA TO E X P E RI M E N T W I T H JA Z Z A N D C O L L A BO R AT E W I T H A D I V E RS E CAST FO R T H E D E BU T A L BU M U N D E R H I S M R J U K ES M O N I K E R .
Words: Ben Jolley
or Jack Steadman, his new solo project has been a long time coming. Before finding fame as the frontman of indie favourites Bombay Bicycle Club, he had a huge passion for jazz, funk and soul: three styles of music that combine perfectly on his debut album as Mr Jukes. Having just arrived at his studio in north London, where he has spent much of the last two years, Jack describes his surroundings as “very chilled. I’ve actually got one of those essential oil things that fills the room with nice smells,” he reveals, setting the scene. “There’s fairy lights and a bit of greenery, too. It’s very relaxing.” It was about two years ago that Jack “went away for a bit” - soon after Bombay Bicycle Club decided to take a break from being a band. “I just spent some time decompressing and thinking about what I wanted to do,” he remembers. “I was already writing but also collecting a lot of records.” Inspired by his new discoveries – mainly funk, soul and world music “rather than just going and buying the latest alt-J album” - Jack thinks ‘God First’ is defined by the records he’s been buying over the last four or five years, even while on tour with Bombay. Ever since picking up his first instrument though, jazz, funk and soul have been instrumental in Jack’s musical upbringing. “I started learning the bass guitar when I was about 13 or 14 at school, and my teacher was heavily into classic soul music and jazz,” he says of one of his major inspirations. “That’s kind of the direction that he put me on...” Taking part in “little lunchtime jam sessions” with friends at school every day also fuelled his passion for instrument-led music and “schooled” him in live performance. “We’d get together, hang out and just play. It was very informal but a lot of fun; and you do actually learn an incredible amount by doing that rather than just taking lessons all the time.” Though over the years, and especially since he was at school, Jack thinks the idea of jazz music seems to have changed. “It’s a very broad term actually,” he considers, before giving his take on how it is sometimes misunderstood. “I think when a lot of people hear the word ‘jazz’ they think elevator music. But, for me, it was more deep and spiritual jazz, artists like John and Alice Coltrane – it’s very extended, inward-looking and reflective jazz.” But the one element that stood out
most to him growing up: improvisation. “I suppose that’s what appealed to me,” he considers. “Especially more recently, having been in a band that would rehearse every note perfectly for their show, and the shows were very slick. If you made a mistake you would feel bad about it, and that was great, I thought the shows were brilliant, but I was interested in another type of making music where mistakes are okay, and you don’t plan ahead…” While jazz is an inspiration on the record, Jack feels that it’s mostly funk and soul influenced. “Jazz is still something that I listen to as time away from what I’m doing,” he says, “but I don’t necessarily play it anymore. If you put me on stage at Ronnie Scott’s tonight, I’d be freaking out, to be honest.” Rather than a reinvention of musical styles, Mr Jukes is more an extension of what he was trying to “subtly inject” into Bombay. “Like when we would do radio sessions, we’d play Afro-beat versions of
as corny as it sounds, I have learnt a lot from doing this record; about working with other people and the beauty of collaboration.” After crafting the songs with a “definite vision” for what he wanted each vocal to sound like, Jack started getting into the ears of his hopeful collaborators, taking several trips to the States. At the top of his list was American funk and soul legend Charles Bradley, a singer whose joyful vocal makes ‘Grant Green’ the album’s standout track. “It was incredible, really,” Jack begins. “Charles was like no-one I have ever met before: full of energy and just a really beautiful human being, very humble.” The one thing that struck him most was how much Charles wanted to “get it right: he really was so respectful, asking me, ‘Are you happy? Is that cool?’” The amount of energy he put into their studio session left Jack stunned, too. “I’ve never seen someone give so much in such a short amount of time. The session was about
“WHEN A LOT OF PEOPLE HEAR THE WORD ‘JAZZ’, THEY THINK ELEVATOR MUSIC.” songs,” he recalls, “and we would tour with a brass section.” Sticking to the band’s ethos of “if it feels good, let’s do it”, it’s something that Jack has carried on with the new record: “even if it’s cheesy as fuck!” “They’re really into it, as am I of what they’re doing,” he says of the support from the rest of Bombay, adding that it wasn’t a dramatic break-up at all. “It was very positive. We all just made a decision that there were all these other things that we’ve dreamed of doing, and why don’t we just take some time off and explore them?” Recording the album, Jack says, has been a process of two halves. “The first half was very solitary and introspective in my studio, just digging through samples and writing the tracks,” he says. “And then the second half – collaboration - was a new thing for me that was very exciting and interesting... and sometimes scary. “It’s very different to what I had been used to - making music by myself. But,
60 minutes long, and then he was exhausted and just left. For those 60 minutes, though, it was full throttle. He was singing his heart out, and the engineer and I were left there thinking, ‘Woah, what just happened?’ and we went through all the takes and just had to try and make sense of everything. It was incredibly surreal.” Working with Chance the Rapper-collaborator BJ The Chicago Kid was another memorable experience. “It was the first session I did for this record, so it was quite nerve-racking, thinking ‘what’s this going to be like?’ But he was super friendly and really open,” Jack enthuses of the young soul sensation who mainly improvised his vocals on the euphoric, brass horn-led lead single ‘Angels/ Your Love’. “I respect that so much,” he considers, “because as much as I can talk about jazz, I still get nervous doing it in front of people - whereas he wasn’t self-conscious at all. He just went into the booth and started trying out in-front of me. I thought that’s something I should do more.”
One of the more unexpected collaborations on the album, though, sees Jack enlist the flawless vocal of trap-R&B starlet and one of Awful Record’s most buzz-worthy signings, Alexandria. “She’s based in Atlanta, so I went over there,” Jack begins, gushing that he loves the ultra-cool US label before revealing his first encounter with the taste-making collective. “I turned up at their HQ in Atlanta looking like this white, nerdy, bald guy… I didn’t know what to expect,” he laughs. After spending the day with “sweetheart” Alexandria, Jack was floored by her vocal on ‘Tears’, a modern-sounding electronic-led lovesick soul ballad. “I’d heard all her records and this one sound of hers, but then after hanging out with her, I realised she’s got this whole other side of her; like she could be a Minnie Riperton or a Mariah Carey with an amazing highpitched voice.” Their encounter became even more memorable when Alexandria let out one of the most impressive high notes Jack has heard. “There is a part of the song where she does this really high octave note, I stopped the track and ran into the booth and said, ‘Where did that come from? That completely surprised me’, and she said her mum had called her that morning and said, ‘You know this guy has flown all the way from London, so you better get out that high note’. I thought that was really sweet.” Back in the UK, Jack teamed up with friend and collaborator Lianne La Havas. “I knew her fairly well from before, and she came over to the studio,” he recalls, adding that the setting was a complete parallel of his trip to Atlanta. “It was really chilled and relaxed - kind of the opposite of going to America. But I felt really comfortable with her.” Working with reggae icon Horace Andy was “an interesting one,” Jack says. “I went to Paris, and he was there for the day. It was very last minute, and I literally hopped on the train and was waiting in a hotel lobby for him, which I couldn’t believe because I’ve been a big fan of his for a very long time.” Such a range of collaborators reflects the idea behind ‘God First’. “It was just listening to each track and deciding what would suit it. For me, I’ve made a record of the music that I’ve been listening to. And rather than having the architecture of it set in stone because of being in a band, this record is what happens when it’s completely out in the open and whatever crazy idea you have, you can just do it. That’s what it represents to me: freedom.” P Mr Jukes’ album ‘God First’ is out now.
SINCE THEY LEFT US... FAV E S I N K YO U R I F YO U T H N G T I M E TA K E A L O R E C O R D S , BETWEEN FUL THEY B E T H A N K E AS LO N G D O N â&#x20AC;&#x2122; T TA K A L A N C H E S . A S T H E AVT S E C O N D W I T H T H A A L LY H E R E , A L B U M F I NU T I F T H E Y W E F I N D OO D O I N G I T A L L FEEL UP T IN. OV E R AG A Muir Words: Jamie Cumming Photos: Corinne
o, is this normal?” asks Tony Di Blasi, pointing towards the scorching hot summer’s day currently falling across West London. It’s one of those days where no matter what direction you turn to face, the heat continues to shine in, coating you in a glaze of sun-kissed emotion that brings out the stunning sights you’d only see come those sort of days. Those are the days that are sewn into the very fabric of The Avalanches, and their arrival into town is surely no coincidence. It’s been almost a year to the day since the now-duo of Tony Di Blasi and Robbie Chater burst back into frame with ‘Wildflower’, an album that many thought would never come across an almost 16-year wait. It’s an album that came at the end of an extensive period where band members changed; personal health rose to the forefront and the simple fact of following up such a defining debut statement that is ‘Since I Left You’ with another bold and undeniable collection. Yet all of that feels like a distant memory, as Tony and Robbie sit and soak in the breezes of a glorious day in the city - and it’s a position they’re loving being in. “It’s nice to be an active band again,” notes Robbie, “because for a long time we weren’t, aside from what we had going on in our heads. It’s been amazing like meeting so many people who love ‘Since I Left You’ and ‘Wildflower’ at the shows we’re doing, and connecting with people through the music because it’s like… In a lot of ways we don’t feel like The Avalanches music is us really, it’s sort of a celebration in the room. We’re there; people are there - it’s just so much fun.” They’ve got every right to be basking in the love and adoration that’s been flying their way. The Avalanches are a band like no other, like a capsule from another planet bursting and shimmering with joyous vibes and handpicked blooming moments - their legend only growing bigger in the years spent away from the spotlight, and now emerging into a brave new world. Morphing out of the Melbourne punk rock scene in Australia towards the tail end of the last millennium, The Avalanches were focused on creating something out of the rich tapestry music has laid out for generations and in the cocktail formed from their blending of samples, The Avalanches tap onto a sensation undeniably pure in music. It’s all about a feeling, a capturing of a time and a place - and in ‘Wildflower’, their grand return has been nothing short of dazzling. Over a year later, it remains a go-to play for those longing for an escape. “I mean, I still haven’t really listened to it, to be honest,” confesses Tony. “It seems, even as time passes that people are really finding a lot in it, and there’s a lot there. There’s been a lot of love for it over the past year, and it’s been great getting it out”. “The thing is when making a record,” elaborates Robbie, sitting back in his chair as he reflects back on a process that spanned over 16 years. “Is that you know when it’s right and when a record has found itself. When that happens, it really is undeniable. You can’t put
it out and compromise before then, because ‘Wildflower’ simply wasn’t ‘Wildflower’ for years. We knew when that was.” “And we’ve never thought about things like, ‘We need to have something done by here’,” comments Tony. “We took our liberties a bit far didn’t we?” smiles Robbie. For any other band or musician, having 16 years sit between your records might be damaging, but The Avalanches hold a special place in hearts around the globe. When they first crisscrossed their way into stereos back in 2000, that intoxicating blend of beats and cuts oozed with an aura unseen from any other act. ‘Since I Left You’, a debut album that has gone on to become one of those truly iconic records that helped template an entire generation, was a larger than life culmination of The Avalanches’ unfaltering commitment to creativity. Tracks like ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ and the title track itself moved with an insatiable sense of groove, and set the trail for The Avalanches to head around the globe before they could even stop to think.
for it. The nicest thing about time passing is that I can now listen to that record as if somebody else made it, so I can appreciate it and see why other people would like it too. It’s quite separate now.”
into a sound that’s infectious and tangible. Coming with the samples and sounds that fill The Avalanches every move, it’s a process that needed time, but began to play on the creators’ minds.
With a worldwide success that found the band travelling for over four years as ‘Since I Left You’ was released in different territories, few would have predicted the length of time it would take to see its followup. For a band who had been swept up in a gust of adoration, learning to live as an entity thousands were looking to while recovering from the intense schedule that came with it paved the groundwork for what was to come.
“I can’t even remember the time when everything started to click together,” notes Tony, “like remembering that time - three year periods felt like they were really close together. But there were definitely times where we were working on it that we just thought that the album wasn’t going to come together, and that’s serious too. Whenever there was a road bump, you’d always think, ‘Well, told you it was never going to happen’.”
“Like, I didn’t get back from everything till 2004 really,” remembers Robbie. “This is an album that came out in late-2000 in Australia, but the world was so different then when it came to releases. I was really burnt out and
Robbie remembers the period as just as much of a mental journey as the record was in physical form. “That negative side of you, which I’m sure everyone has, every now and again it would get loud. It was a really interesting mental journey actually to observe the mind and how it works.”
W H AT ARE THE AVA L A N C H E S LISTENING TO ? Robbie: I’m always going through phases, but I constantly need to be inspired by new music, even just on an energetic level of hearing fresh ideas and approaches, hearing people push themselves and break new ground - it’s nourishing as an artist. I need to feed myself constantly, not just in music, but art or anything. But I really like Drake, that’s a good example. Tony: That last Drake record is amazing. Robbie: I love the Kaytranada record [’99.9%’], that really inspired me.
It finds The Avalanches in 2017 as a band reborn, coming out of the other side not just with the one defining album in their catalogue, but a shimmering follow-up that places them squarely at the forefront once again. An all-encompassing journey, they’ve come out on the other side with a new lease of life and that energy can be felt rippling through the room in the smiles stretched across Robbie and Tony’s faces.
TIMES WHERE WE THOUGHT THE
A L B U M WA S N ’ T
G O I N G TO C O M E
“There wasn’t really a masterplan behind it all,” recalls Robbie. “‘Since I Left You’ just happened and kinda caught us by surprise too, so we didn’t have a good plan for what to do next because we didn’t have a plan going into it. We were playing in a pub in Melbourne at one moment and then we’re at Big Day Out walking out on stage to people just everywhere. Those moments really stand out, those massive moments where all of a sudden we were the…”
TO G ETH E R.”
“We were the band everyone wanted to see,” finishes Tony. “Yeah,” agrees Robbie. “But ‘Since I Left You’ really grew over time, so I remember years later that my partner at the time said to me, ‘That album means a lot to a lot of people’. I think it might have been five years after it came out or something, and that was the first time that I really stopped and reflected after it all, and saw that it had taken on a life of its own. I think we’ve always been detached from that kind of stuff anyway, like not really aware of people’s love
unwell for a few years afterwards so by the time we even got up and running again it was 2005 or something. So it was never a conscious decision to wait for that length of time. I dunno, we just weren’t really career-minded.” “There wasn’t an urgent need to release another album,” interjects Tony. In the years that followed, as the legend of ‘Since I Left You’ continued to be discovered by a whole new generation of listeners, the foundations of ‘Wildflower’ began to take shape. Moving into a more songladen approach, the years in-between may have seen band members come and go, but at its core remained the key principles of everything that makes The Avalanches truly unique. Coating in lush harmonies and rich textures, ‘Wildflower’ is a record indebted to the warm glow of Motown, 70s psychedelia and classic hip-hop that brings decades together
“There was definitely a weight on our shoulders for a long time, that just got heavier and heavier during the making of ‘Wildflower’” explains Tony. “Even when we had finished it and it had come out - that weight still took a while to come off. We always thought it would be this thing that would be quite instantaneous but it really took about six months for that experience to get off our shoulders. It’s only now that I feel that weight is gone, and I think that’s the big difference for us a year on.” “Though it’s not really a weight of expectation,” defines Robbie, “but it’s more like your life is paused in a way. It’s more that kind of thing, and we’re freed up now. It’s one of those things you just have to see through.” “To give up during that time, it just wasn’t an option.”
There’s something indisputably essential about The Avalanches now. They’re a band continuing to embrace and digest music culture around them, all while maintaining that personalised seal that could get any dancefloor rocking in a matter of moments. Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi are looking forwards, with a new outlook on being a ‘band’ and a creative force, and this time they’re not waiting around. “It’s funny,” starts Robbie. “We recently had some business meetings in New York, and people were casually tossing around the line, ‘Oh, and when you do your next record’ and for a second I just thought oh fuck - like it’s going to be the same experience we had this time around with ‘Wildflower’. Then I had to remember, that it’s a completely new chapter, much in the same way that ‘Wildflower’ was nothing like ‘Since I Left You’ and this will be its own thing again, but my initial response was ‘I can’t do that again’. There feels like there’s a full stop to that part of our lives now, and in lots of ways, we’ll be moving forward.” Always different but guaranteed, The Avalanches are only just getting started. Best get that sun-cream out then, the sunshine isn’t going anywhere. P The Avalanches’ album ‘Wildflower’ is out now.
ARCADE FIRE ARE SOMETHING ALL TOGETHER MORE IMPORTANT
f someone was making a list of sexy topics to base an album around, content probably wouldn’t make the list. A passionless, beige word that defines the majority of modern life, over the last decade it’s become the standard diet - consumed constantly through a plethora of beeping, glowing, chirping devices, all demanding attention immediately. But beneath the weary surface of total content immersion comes a strand of thought that’s dominating more and more of our world. Content isn’t a thing, anymore - in so much as everything
is content. Art, music, politics, even what we have for dinner - it’s all being farmed into shareable, likeable, retweetable digital snippets, glanced at once before moving on to the next. That’s the juxtaposition that sits at the heart of Arcade Fire’s fifth album. Even the most ostrich-like fans can’t have helped but notice their overarching ‘Everything Now Co’ construct - a running dramatisation of a band selling out completely to a corporate entity exploiting them for every dollar. From videos packed with ‘ads’ to forced Twitter banter, they’ve definitely gone all in. But actually, when it comes down to it, Arcade Fire are the huge band it’s hard to ever feel are totally at the
trough. Even though, let’s face it, they’ve done their fair share of cashing in, this soulless world of forced interaction and constant contact feels the complete opposite to Win and co’s organic, textured world. Maybe that’s the point. So while they touch upon the subject matter at hand - the constant demands of title track ‘Everything Now’, the fame hungry ‘Creature Comfort’ and the ohso-pertinent ‘Infinite Content’ - they do it in a way which feels a world apart from the filtered viewpoint they look to spike. And that’s no bad thing. Previous album ‘Reflektor’ had its high points, but it felt like it probably needed a good edit to bring it into line. There’s no such problem with ‘Everything Now’. Across 13 tracks - three of which are
effectively added value extras to the album’s cornerstone moments - each one is there for a reason. The fat is trimmed, the formula refined. That doesn’t mean they always reach for the epic though. ‘Chemistry’ is a horn led stomp that could probably start its own ministry of silly walks, while ‘Electric Blue’ is content to shimmer and shine, dripping with Regine’s pitch perfect falsetto. If anything, that attitude to stripping back the excess has run through to Arcade Fire’s base sound itself. More ‘of the night’, the disco stabs and neon edges makes ‘Everything Now’ a more claustrophobic, concentrated affair. For all of it’s titletracks sky high thinking, ‘Put Your Money On Me’ is a basement club strut with chest hair on show. Though they may be living in a world where every living moment is concentrated down into an easily consumed nugget, the truth is emotion is virtually impossible to contain within a digital realm. Some things can’t be defined by algorithm alone. If content is king, Arcade Fire are something all together more important. Stephen Ackroyd
Dan Croll Emerging Adulthood Communion
e e ee The follow-up to his 2014 debut ‘Sweet Disarray’, ‘Emerging Adulthood’ sees just that, Dan Croll breaking through in a mature fashion yet not forgetting the youthful pop edge that drew us to him to begin with. Soft Beach Boys vibes immediately come in on ‘One of Us’, with layered vocals that sing out “Heard you can’t beat the rush, give in and be one of us”, a calling card for an album that doesn’t quite live up to the introduction it gives itself. Starting off incredibly strong with the one-two of ‘One of Us’ and ‘Bad Boy’, ‘January’ has a hidden power in its chorus, while ‘Educate’ brings a sporadic glow with its pulsating attack. The gems are littered deep throughout which makes ‘Emerging Adulthood’ a listen-through kind of album. You hear Croll’s emergence into his own adulthood, taking stock of the little things that make the bigger picture more interesting. Steven Loftin
Dan Croll A NEW ALBUM AND A NEW PLANT, IT’S ALL GOING ON FOR DAN CROLL. What’ve you been up to since ‘Sweet Disarray’? Had any big life changes since then? After the ‘Sweet Disarray’ campaign had come to an end, it all went a bit mad, so I had to take quite a bit of time out to sort myself out. Thankfully I managed to bounce back and get myself together to record another album. Now I’m here, and it all feels like yesterday. Apart from that, I bought a plant for my living room. Your new album’s called ‘Emerging Adulthood’ what’s it about? Do you feel as though you’re a grown up now? I bought a plant for my living room; I feel very grown up. The album is me reflecting on where I’ve been, what I’m doing, and what I’m heading for. Since the first album, there’s been an overwhelming amount of opportunities and possibilities, so much so that I crumbled a bit and didn’t really know what do to. So I guess this album was a way of coping and expressing myself, trying to see the light through the trees and all of that.
It’s quite a varied album, were there any new things you tried that you’re especially pleased about? The whole approach to this album was quite a new thing for me, I had gone from doing the first album in a school gym with friends, and quite a DIY feel, to flying over to Atlanta and playing all of the instruments in quite a clinical studio atmosphere. If you had to fill out your own ‘for fans of’ for this album, what would you put? Who’s going to enjoy it most? It’s still definitely for fans of the previous album; there have been no drastic changes, I just think the whole thing has become a lot more immediate. For fans of music that is straight to the point. Where do you most enjoy writing music, and what does it bring to the process? Writing here at home in my studio is my ideal place, there’s a certain comfort to knowing your surroundings and makes the process a lot smoother. Plus you are your own boss, no one else around to impress or sway, just you making music you enjoy. You recently launched your own agony uncle line, Dial Dan - what’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever given someone? To be honest, it’s less advice and more reassurance, a lot of people who ring me just want a bit of reassurance that everything is going to be fine from someone other than their mum, dad, or teacher. Music aside, what else are you really enjoying at the moment? Boxing, keeps you fit and lets you vent all of those music industry frustrations, win win! P
Static Shock Records
Broken Social Scene
Need To Feel Your Love
If Sheer Mag’s first few 7”s appeared to have been recorded on an ancient tape machine, possibly in someone’s house, it’s probably because they were. But there was more to this fivepiece than raw, gritty production and passionate, charged messages. Here were punks who loved Fleetwood Mac; hard rockers who dug disco. And all those things that made the EPs so vital are here; sharpened, refined even, but losing little of their DIY ethos or rough edges. Selfrespect, righteous anger and getting organised can all be part of Sheer Mag’s message of love. Rob Mesure
Mura Masa Mura Masa
Polydor / Interscope
eeee e Picture this. Latenight inner-city life, where the bustling clubs are swarmed with a community of people engulfed in a melting pot of culture, beats and styles. That exact image is the one painted across Mura Masa’s self-titled debut - an infectious voyage through jubilation that lays itself out as a jukebox for which thousands will fall in love and dance together to. Varied, diverse and never sitting in one place for too long, it’s a defining statement for who Mura Musa wants to be, and in turn, marks itself as an album that we’ll look back on as one that not only soundtracks 2017 but defines it as a snapshot of a fresh sound.
Hug Of Thunder
eeee The return of Broken Social Scene has been more than worth the wait. Celebrated by the band as a way of bringing their positivity into the world, you can’t argue with the result. The idea that over nineteen (!!) people came together to create this album may give you the idea that it might sound bloated or convoluted, but it instead lends itself to the intricacies, each layer reveals something new, and you find yourself picking up new moments with each listen. Steven Loftin
The roll-call of names and voices involved all had their own unique twist to proceedings - whether it’s the hands-in-the-air pop bounce of Charli XCX on ‘One Night’, the visceral kicks of Desiigner on ‘All Around The World’, the hypnotic chimes and flicks of Christine & The Queens on ‘Second 2 None’ or the overflowing chills of Damon Albarn on closer ‘Blu’. Yet the star attraction above all of them is Mura Masa’s captivating corners and backdrops - managing to tow that line between sweet pop hooks and daring electronica in effortless fashion. It’s the type of record that in five years time, other artists will be pointing to as a direct influence on what they do. Until then, get yourself ready and prepare to step out - the dancefloors are a-waiting, and Mura Masa is only just getting the party started. Jamie Muir 53
Popular Manipulations Fat Possum
eee There was a time when The Districts’ calling card was just how good they were for a group so young. Time waits for no band, though. That’s not where their third full-length ‘Popular Manipulations’ finds them. And they’re more than up to that challenge. With that sheen of commanding authenticity American indie bands find so effortless, The Districts feel like a band able to take on a grand scale. Opener ‘If Before I Wake’ rumbles beneath it’s winning melody, while ‘Ordinary Day’ mixes lilting beauty with a robust backbone crippled with self-doubt, but still managing to sound wide eyed with possibility in the same moment. There’s no need for a calling card anymore. Dan Harrison
The Districts ANXIETY, FRUSTRATION AND “A LOT OF REAL LIFE” - THE DISTRICTS’ NEW ALBUM IS BORN FROM AN UNSETTLED TIME. Hey Rob, how’s life? Hello! Life’s quite good right now, our album is all wrapped up, and we’re about to head out on tour until it’s released, and more touring after that. Looking forward to it. Home life has been really nice as well. What was your frame of mind like when you started work on this latest album? Pretty scattered, to be honest. We had toured for a long time, and it was weird adjusting to being home. I ended a pretty long-term relationship and was in an unsettled mental place aside from that as well. But we were all also very excited about making music and being unrestricted creatively, and a lot of good things happened as well. Writing and recording all took place while a lot of real life was happening to us all I guess you could say. It was a good and maddening process. Do you find yourselves tonally or thematically influenced by the state of the world? What do you make of the recent election nonsense? Yeah most definitely, that contributed a whole lot of anxiety and frustration personally and in our whole social circle really. I personally feel very ashamed of our country right now, and guilty devoting so much time to music, when ultimately, the social and political issues concerning a lot of people right now are more dire. But the hope is always that music will connect people, and ideally, that has a positive social influence in and of itself. So ‘Popular Manipulations’ - is it a hopeful record? I’d consider it more observant tonally. Lyrically takes a bit of a detached, narrative stance on many of the songs. But there’s definitely the hopeful element of trying to find some personal triumph within oneself. You’re back in the UK later this year - is there anything you’re especially looking forward to doing while here? Linda McCartney vegetarian breakfast sausages. P 54
Mister Mellow Stones Throw Records
eeeee There’s a lot going on in Washed Out’s music. ‘Mister Mellow’ is a good indication of the fevered creative mind of Ernest Greene and he fills his latest album with all manner of experimental sonic explorations. The result is a sometimes exhilarating sometimes disorientating journey through chopped up samples, jazzy beats and songs that flutter in and out of your consciousness. The best moments are when Ernest puts a little bit of oomph and substance behind things though resulting in the blissful house of ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ and ‘Get Lost’s’ acid daydream. Never settling for the straightforward, Washed Out is carrying on his own merry way. Martyn Young
B-Sides and Rarities Bella Union
eeeee There’s often a reason why B-sides are given second billing, and other tracks are thrown to the wayside. But when they happen to be as good, if not better, than the A-side, then it’s something truly magical. Think David Bowie’s ‘Suffragette City’, Radiohead’s ‘Talk Show Host’, practically everything off Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Emotion: Side B’ or Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered. Unfortunately, Beach House’s ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ does not quite fit into this esteemed selection. Listening to the 14 tracks featured here, you almost wonder why they thought there was a need for it. Chris Taylor
recommend us some stuff.
Last good record you heard: Chris Cohen - ‘As If Apart’. CC has a unique approach to both songwriting and production. And he played every instrument on the record! Favourite ever book: Absolute favourite is too hard to say. But just read a great nonfiction book called Rebels on the Backlot that was really good about the maverick indie film directors of the 90s and how they shook up the movie business.
Bellevue Days Rosehill EP Kobalt
e e e ee Most British rock bands are comfortable sticking to the beaten path. Generic, bombast filled moments designed to trigger the same old people, in the same old scenes. Most, but not all. When a band with rare ambition comes forward, they stand out a mile. Bellevue Days are aiming for the stars. The brooding build of ‘Black Sheep Baby’ signals a band with different horizons. Echoes of Brand New shine through the breakdown, as tempos change and guitar lines soar in a way that feels like a minor revelation. Making do with the same tired tricks as their peers just isn’t Bellevue Days’ style. Stephen Ackroyd
TV show you couldn’t live without: “Westworld” is probably my favourite in recent memory. I loved how the convoluted narratives were like a puzzle you had to solve as the viewer. Also gets better after repeat viewings. Best purchase of this year: Subscription to Headspace app. I like having constant reminders to enforce positive outlook and thinking throughout the day. Anything else you’d recommend? Documentary: Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film. I was really inspired by avant-garde cinema - particularly experimental animation. This documentary covers a lot of greats like Hans Richter and Len Lye. P
ONE OF THE SHARPEST, MOST ENGAGING ALBUMS OF 2017
What Do You Think About The Car?
alents like Declan McKenna don’t come along that often. Signed at an impossibly young age, the bullet point list of achievements would have you believe we’re dealing with some precocious enfant terrible. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What you actually get with our Dec is one of the most engaged, fascinating voices of a generation. Not that he’d thank you for branding him with such lofty tags. While most - even his more experienced peers - would turn an ear for social responsibility into a world of overwrought, over-sincere ‘authentic’ drones, McKenna would pale at the thought. Instead, he conjures
up technicolour worlds with playful thoughts and sincere meaning. That’s what makes ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ one of the sharpest, most engaging debut albums of 2017. It’s not showy - not really - but rather an extended hand into a world where anything feels possible. Of course, Dec has his calling cards. ‘Brazil’ remains a bewitching spell - a Velcro hook snagging attention no matter what the occasion. ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Go Home’ - a track finished on the way home from Paris
after the Bataclan attacks - still feels like a raised fist for a Centennial generation disillusioned with the world around them. A refusal to admit defeat, an insistence that we can still change the world, if we want to. But it’s not just the already familiar singles that shine. ‘Make Me Your Queen’ has an ear for melody that defies the faddish passing of time, while opener ‘Humongous’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s closing track ‘Listen To Your Friends’ that really shines, though. Recorded with former Vampire Weekend man Rostam Batmanglij, it chimes with Declan’s trademark energy. Not your usual slow song finish, it’s a promise that this is a story just beginning, not one coming to a close. Stephen Ackroyd
You need these albums... The best albums from the last few months.
Delivering bangers and soaring hooks while jumping into a world of big, bold colours, is a goal Dua Lipa has had from the beginning- and that wide-eyed aim at the biggest stages can be heard searing through her self-titled debut.
Full of attitude, personality and a ramshackle sound that permeates every big dream and niggling fear, ‘Guppy’ is dark, it’s light, it’s weird, it’s wonderful - but the tie-dye puzzle fits together perfectly. This is Charly Bliss.
The Paramore of old were out to take on the world and their war cry was about feeling unstoppable. This time around, there’s victory to be found in still standing. Hearts, souls and unspeakable truths, the band have given their all.
Jack has always been the guy knocking on the doors of something special. Dipped in exciting twists and heavyweight pop hooks, ‘Gone Now’ could be a record that influences an entire generation of pop superstars, and rightfully so.
‘Soft Sounds From Another Planet’ is Michelle Zauner’s second album as Japanese Breakfast, and it’s really, really good. From the atmospheric opening notes of ‘Diving Woman’, this is an album that knows exactly what it wants to do, and the best response is just to buckle up and enjoy the ride because it won’t be like anything else you hear this year. Tracks like the driving ‘12 Steps’ and self-reflective heartbreak anthem ‘Boyish’ stand out on first listen as the obvious singles from the album, with ‘Boyish’ sticking in mind because of the sheer feeling Zauner puts into the lyrics. “I can’t get you off of my
mind / You can’t get yours off the Hostess” may seem almost comical written down, but on record, it’s heartbreaking in its intensity. Alongside these highlights, it’s as much the spaces in between as the few sucker punch tracks that make ‘Soft Sounds From Another Planet’ such a pleasure to listen to. ‘Planetary Ambience’, a minute-long oasis of (who would have guessed it) ambient tranquillity, feels exactly as well-crafted and indispensable to the overall album as any of the fulllength tracks, and just as worthwhile. The overwhelming feeling with the album is that it’s exactly the right length, with no time wasted and nothing added for the hell of it, every second feels worth paying attention to. It’s the stand-out tracks that make ‘Soft Sounds From Another Planet’ a good album, but it’s the way that everything links together in such a perfect way that makes it a great one. Jake Hawkes
Square Leg Records
e e e ee
From Sweden to London via stints as session musicians, Francobollo definitely took the long way round to their debut album ‘Long Live Life’. Whether or not it was a conscious path, it seems to have worked like a charm, with their wonky indie rock sounding like nothing else around. ‘Long Live Life’ opens with ‘Worried Times’, a crashing combination of space and raucous riffs that serve as a starter course in everything Francobollo do well. If there’s one criticism, it’s that there’s a feeling that the album is made up of twelve songs written at different times and bolted together, but this isn’t a major problem - and the songs are still by and large absolute bangers. Jake Hawkes
Childhood have big ideas and big ambitions. That much is obvious from their second album, ‘Universal High’. It finds band leader Ben-Romans-Hopscraft and co celebrating their classic soul influences while filtering them through a contemporary dreamy prism. The sound works well and the fluttering grooves of opener ‘AMD’ and the golden single ‘California Light’ highlight how carefree summer jams are a good look for Childhood. It’s obvious that they have a deep love for the sort of deep, melodic seventies soul pop of artists like Curtis Mayfield and they do a good job of faithfully paying homage to those sounds while having fun sat the same time. Martyn Young
If ‘Vile Child’ was a small step on Milk Teeth’s mission to become the noisiest pop band on the planet, then ‘Be Nice’ is a giant leap. Opening this concise burst of four tracks with ‘Owning Your Okayness’, they stake a worthy claim for anthem of the summer. ‘Fight Skirt’ stands toe-to-toe with the opening number in the battle to be the best track Milk Teeth have ever written. When ‘Hibernate’ changes the pace with a contemplative and devastating climax, Becky Blomfield is truly sensational in baring her fragility. If you’re one of the few who ‘Vile Child’ passed by, this is your golden opportunity to make nice with Britain’s next superstars. Danny Randon
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Soft Sounds From Another Planet Dead Oceans
e e e ee
Japanese Breakfast, recommend us some stuff.
Last good record you heard: ‘Drool’ Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. It’s a very rich album, melodically and harmonically. It’s also very fun and even funny. Favourite ever book: Life of Pi - Yann Martel. Journey books are my favourite, and this one is so psychological and interesting. TV show you couldn’t live without: Sopranos. Never found a better one. Complex characters and situations and even though it’s not a world that the average person could relate to, you find yourself completely touched and attached to those characters. Best purchase of this year: Custom-made in-ear monitor headphones. They were so out of my budget, but the best thing I could get to aid the live shows. Anything else you’d recommend? Check out this Instagram page by the amazing animator ‘Cult_of_dang’. P
Long Live Life
Something’s Changing Communion
eeee After touring second album ‘Work It Out’, Lucy Rose was at a crossroads. That record marked a shift from the folksy acoustic of her debut to guitars and indie riffs familiar to anyone who knew her during her stint with Bombay Bicycle Club. Since then she has embarked on a DIY solo tour of South America, promising to play wherever fans can put her up. As such, there’s a freedom on ‘Something’s Changing’ that was missing from ‘Work It Out’; by ninth track ‘No Good At All’ it’s clear that Rose is on a home run. These new songs carry a confidence and conviction that wasn’t as obvious earlier in her career. Lucy Rose has changed and is sounding all the better for it. Dillon Eastoe
The Echo Of Pleasure Painbow
e e ee Certainly not void of melody or the craft of power pop, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have always been deft, and ‘The Echo of Pleasure’ sees them holding their ground. There are moments of development: ‘When I Dance With You’ brings out more elements of, well, dance. Fluttering synths and a straight forward pounding beat create the perfect environment to do as the track says, while ‘The Garret’ has a funk edge to its build. A little further progress couldn’t hurt, but as long as they keep doing what they do, there’s no real harm done. Steven Loftin
Be Nice EP
e e e ee A change is as good as a rest, so the saying goes. In truth, former Bombay Bicycle Club main man Jack Steadman has decided a bit of R&R followed by a switch up is an even better recipe. On the strength of his debut album as Mr Jukes, it’s hard to disagree. In the strangest of ways, the odd hallmark of Steadman’s life as an indie prince remains. A trick here, a texture there - ‘God First’ is an organic beast. But instead of taking the obvious route, our Jack has dipped his feet into new waters. Working with a cast of varied yet brilliant names, it sounds as if he’s found his true calling. The soulful slice of ‘Grant Green’, lit up by Charles Bradley’s stunning vocal, sells it best. A different kind of fix. Stephen Ackroyd 57
Why are we waiting?
Both Lorde and Haim’s new albums felt to take Quite A While to show up. Here’s four more records we’re waiting to arrive.
Vampy Weekend are one of the few bands who pen nowt but 10/10 bangers - but sadly it’s been a while since we’ve had any. Latest album ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ was released in 2013.
After 2013 album ‘AM’, the band went on hiatus while Alex Turner did a new album with The Last Shadow Puppets. That came to an end last year though, with the band apparently working on new music in LA.
Second album ‘Everything Is New’ came out all the way back in 2009. Where are you, Jack? What have you been doing? How have you been? There are a few posts on Twitter teasing a new record, so watch this space.
Sky’s an artist of many talents - since ’Night Time, My Time’ (released, you guessed it, in 2013) she’s started acting more, most recently appearing in Edgar Wright flick Baby Driver, as Baby’s late mum. Great film, go see it.
Something To Tell You
t’s fine, Haim. We don’t mind waiting. The sisterly trio’s second album ‘Something To Tell You’ taken the phrase ‘much anticipated’ and pushes it to extremes. With their debut released back in 2012, it’s taken five years for its follow up to arrive. We even had the false dawn of last summer, where the band were booked in for Reading & Leeds before pulling out because it wasn’t done. They’ve been toying with us for too long now. But this is Haim. Even drawn out expectation isn’t enough to sour something so peppy and packed with joy. Despite those long months of dashed hope, now they’re back it’s as if they’ve never been gone. From the opening blasts of the hip swinging ‘Little Of Your Love, every strand of Haim’s infectious personality comes streaming through. There’s no
lightspeed jump from ‘Days Are Gone’, sure, but then to start messing with that magic formula would be to disrupt a winning recipe. This is summer, there’s a new Haim album - no matter where we find ourselves, those two things go together perfectly. And actually, that timeless ear for the sun-kissed banger is a skill few others can perfect. Lead single ‘Want You Back’ shows it best - dry ice, hot nights, strong stance - its sleek, effortless cool with a knowing grin. In fact, it’s the track they chose to tease ‘Something To Tell You’ with that feels the greatest departure. By rights, you’d expect ‘Right Now’ to open or close a record. Here, it does neither. A slow building, goosebump inducing showstopper, it’s an icy stare down the barrel of anyone who doubts Haim are the real deal. Some things are worth the wait. Stephen Ackroyd
t may only be a few months old, but already ‘Green Light’ feels like one of those songs. The kind of exclamation mark banger that instantly recalls the first time you heard it. And the second, because it was probably immediately after. And the third too. That’s the power of Lorde in 2017. After a period away from the limelight, what felt like potential on debut ‘Pure Heroine’ is more than realised with a song that feels both achingly now and yet wildly unconventional. Where most artists would put a cacophony of noise, Lorde leaves space. And yet the sheer joy that crashes forth is like an avalanche overwhelming euphoria seeping out of every pore. And it’s not a one off, either. ‘Melodrama’ is quite probably the album of the year. There are other contenders, sure, but they’re all playing
by someone else’s rules. Lorde has no time for the beaten path - and yet she’s not going to career off into a leftfield forest of oddity and refusal to connect, either. It’s hard to remember an artist that feels so able to mind meld with her audience. ‘Sober’ feeds on primal instinct, ‘Homemade Dynamite’ explodes. Every track feels like The Moment. Every one adds something new to its bedfellows. This is pop operating on its highest plane. But it’s ‘The Louvre’ that really stops the show. Lyrically fascinating (“They’ll hang us in the Louvre / Down the back, but who cares — still the Louvre”), its hook is a hard left dummy when the entire planet is heading right. It’s not a chorus. It couldn’t be a chorus. And yet, despite all intentions, it’s the most infectious pop moment in recent memory. That’s Lorde. Different, but better. Stephen Ackroyd
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Kil e rth Th wo g it’s invitin And ‘Daydreaming’, g, playing a guitar on stage for a son Shaped Pool’ track f to ing go ays d throwing himsel alw an re s, signed by fan Radiohead we t. no ’s tha ere nd Th yo ys. be pla es go he into every refrain impress – but this d r song set spanning it wastes time”) an encore (“because With a twenty-fou the rock and roll, eer, up car ht ir aig the str t oss jus acr no frills, from all welcomed as they a good time. P solid bangers, and stadium giants are s. roe he as : always have been
eck. Stadium Rock and roll? Ch of le check. Day one ub Do s? sensation tival off to a fes the s set ter Rock Werch flying start.
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“We know who you are. You’re the same as us.”
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
Told You So That’s What Yo u Get Brick by Borin g Brick Still Into You Caught in the Middle Turn It Off Decode I Caught Mysel f Hate to See Yo ur Heart Break Fake Happy Everywhere (F leetwood Mac cover) Rose-Colored Boy Playing God Ain’t It Fun Misery Busines s Encore: Forgiveness Scooby’s in th e Back (HalfN oise cover) Hard Times 61
Alt-J lead the celebrations at
onight is all about celebrations. There’s the fact that Blaenavon are playing to one of the biggest crowds they’ve ever played to. There’s the fact that alt-J are returning to an arena they once capped off their last run in, but now are stepping into as they unveil their fresh new and invigorating era. And there’s the fact that The O2 itself is marking 10 years of defining arena shows and Snapchat memories that thousands still replay day in day out. Across it all, there’s something undeniably unique about the evening that lays itself out. alt-J are a band you would never of put a bet on when it comes to headlining the vast stage they now stand proud on, never mind their position as one of (if not the) mainstream-infiltrating escapists of 2017 – yet their return to The O2 stage is nothing short of a confirmation. Confirmation of a band in 10 years time we’ll be writing about as the floodgate to the exciting and enthralling scene we’ll see in front of our eyes. That feat, is echoed in every moment at The O2 tonight. It’s echoed through every move Blaenavon make as they step onto the arena field. We’ve seen them deliver a gripping modern-day masterpiece with debut album ‘Take Care’ and tonight is nothing short of a staggering confirmation of how big this band could truly become. Unfazed by the occasion, they rip through a set of dazzling heights as if they’re playing the landmark shows they’ve already tucked under their belt – full of
London’s O2 Arena confidence, knowing nods and an unfiltered commitment to leaving it all on the stage. ‘Orthodox Man’ reverbs with an immediate urgency, ‘My Bark Is Your Bite’ cuts into the masses gathered and ‘I Will Be The World’ unravels with an insatiable urgency that stuns the thousands gathered into one overflowing mass of devotion. Frontman Ben Gregory leads the procession, in a set that would convert anyone who’d stumble onto the show they’d witness in front of them – with every twitch, motion and figure entirely rich in depth and style. The O2 is a huge stage, and Blaenavon make that stage look like any other night in their faultless schedule – and as ‘Prague 99’ closes out their set, one statement is clear. Blaenavon will be back to soundtrack those universal moments, and no matter what the stage – it’ll soon be made theirs. alt-J should never have been here. When experimental beats and sounds emanated from the Uni dorms they gathered around, The O2 must of seem like a ridiculous daydream that would never fit the flicks and motions they wanted to explore. Yet, it says it all that they’ve returned not only with a new album, but with the confidence of a band leading the way in forward-thinking creative hooks. With album number three, alt-J can boast the pedigree of an outfit that have soundtracked a generation
of lovers, thinkers and dreamers – and at The O2 their full power is blistered on display in emphatic fashion. With a jaw-dropping light show in tow, their spell reaches every corner of the arena in front of them right from the chilling opening pulls of ‘3WW’, and it continues through a set that simply doesn’t sit still. Daring, bold and brave, it’s a set that picks through three albums that constantly look to reinvention. ‘Left Hand Free’ elicits hand in the air devotion, ‘In Cold Blood’ already pulses like a favourite you’ve known for years, ’Taro’ shimmers just as bright as it did the first time you locked your ears around it and ‘Matilda’ triggers a choir of voices to emerge across the stalls and standing gathered. It’s a catalogue that can jump between time and album, and always sound so undeniably fresh and exciting. Above it all, alt-J look comfortable in the position they now find themselves, a band embracing their standing whilst remaining fearless in the paths they lead down. “Fuck you, I’ll do what I want to do” echoes out of frontman Joe Newman’s mouth during ‘Hit Me With The Snare’. On tonight’s evidence, doing what they want to do is exactly what makes Alt-J so special. An experience that no other band could deliver. Now that’s worth celebrating. P
Setlist... 3WW Something Good Ripe & Ruin Tessellate Deadcrush Nara In Cold Blood Dissolve Me The Gospel of John Hurt Bloodflood Every Other Freckle Matilda Hit Me Like That Snare Taro Breezeblocks Pleader Encore: Intro (An Awesome Wave) Left Hand Free Fitzpleasure
WORDS: JAMIE MUIR. PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
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WILL JOSEPH COOK THIS MONTH, WILL JOSEPH COOK RUNS THE GAUNTLET OF OUR RANDOM, STUPID QUERIES. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO TODAY? I have been writing songs. DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING DID YOU????? WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING A MUSICIAN? I get to say things in songs that would be weird af to say in conversation. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Writing my album. WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? I was buying loads of gifts for someone who doesn’t like me. WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMBER OF ONE DIRECTION? Zayn. WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? It was a bunch of five. Vampire Weekend’s debut, MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and Calvin Harris’ ‘I Created Disco’, Florence and The Machine’s ‘Lungs’ and the Darwin Deez debut. WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE POP STAR? I have a lot of time for Bruno Mars, liked the second album a lot. I think he’s a great writer. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL? Rain on really dry, hot ground. WHICH OF YOUR SONGS DOES YOUR FAMILY LIKE MOST? I don’t think we’ve ever agreed on that.
WHAT STRENGTH NANDOS SAUCE DO YOU ORDER? Hot. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECT AT SCHOOL? Geography was a big hitter with me. WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE NEW BAND? Okudaxij. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? A promise to my girlfriend that I would go vegan for a month. WHAT’S THE MOST IMPRESSIVE THING YOU CAN COOK? I can make hollandaise sauce. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Being in a pram while it rained. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? If 0 is Theresa May running through fields of wheat, and ten is Mark E Smith punching through his parents’ drywall... I’d say I was about a 6.4. WHAT’S THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE? Acid. DO YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS? Yes, of course. HAVE YOU GOT ANY SECRET TATTOOS? Nope, I’m a clean sheet. IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND THE CASH ON? I’d buy an obscene amount of fields all over the country and plant loads of mad forests. P