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'So it’s been six years since their first album was unleashed! Has the wait been worth it? Yes it has, as 'Avalanche United' is (in our opinion) one of the best records of 2011! Catch them as they hit the UK later on this year!'

Interview with Vinnie Caruana What can you tell us about your newest record Avalanche United? Family, Death, Hope, Sickness, Brotherhood. We made this record to let people know how we write punk music and we are really proud of it.

How would you say this record compares to the first record? Lyrically, I have matured a bit. Almost everything I have ever written is a true story. So it’s the same (like our last record) as far as the lyrics being based on non-fiction scenarios. I am being very honest like I always have been.

What was the recording process like for this album, we read it was self produced right? Yes, our drummer The Ratt recorded and produced the record over the course of 5 months while we were all working normal jobs. We recorded when we could. I felt very comfortable singing with The Ratt and I think we got some of the best vocal takes we have ever gotten from my voice.

How come you guys wanted to self produce the record? We didn't want to wait around for someone to pay for us to go in the studio to record. We wanted to get back on the road this year so we had to start recording sooner and on our own. The Ratt brought it up to the band that he wanted to record the record. We had faith in him and it turned out better than any of us could have imagined.

How did you come up with the title Avalanche United, and what would you say it means to you? It means the brotherhood, sisterhood, family camaraderie that we have between our friends, family, fans and within the band itself.

How come it took you guys so long to do the second album? Was it because of the different projects each member had going on in between releases (The Movielife/Spirit Houses)? or was it just a matter of finding the right time to release it? We got very used to being at home and working jobs. We all live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and that became part of life (making money and living in the city). Throughout our time at home we wrote some of the best songs on the record and are very happy with the way things came out. It sucks that we had to take a few years out from the public eye but we have made a better record because of it.

With six years in between this record and the first record, how exciting has it been to have this record finished? We finally feel like ourselves again, we finally feel like life is what we wanted it to be and that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are going to go around the world and play music from now on until the foreseeable future. This is the best record that any of us has been a part of.

What song or songs of the new album would you say are your favorite at the moment? Either to play live, or just because maybe it really means something to you? The Gravedigger's Argument is currently my favorite song to play live. It is fun to play a character in the song that digs a grave and puts his wife in it. I’ll probably never get to dig a grave, so I get to be the character that does. The song is super fast and strong. Crowds have been loving it. Anthony Raneri from Bayside sings on that song on the record, so it’s a special treat when he is in the room and joins us onstage.

We know you released a demo version of Brooklyn Dodgers on your myspace a while back, but "Holy Fuck" seemed to be the first proper song you shared with the public on the build up to the release of "Avalanche United" why did you feel that this was one of the first songs to share with the fans? Lyrically it references looking back on my and the band's life over the last 5 years. It's a reintroduction to the band. Musically the song is structured as an introduction and works very well as the album opener.

So, what do you want this new record to do for the status of I Am the Avalanche? We plan to tour full-time and all around the world in exotic places. We plan to reach every corner of the globe and convince people that this record needs to be a part of their life. We love to travel together and are really excited about being back in business. We want to make an impact on punk music and push things forward.

How excited are you for your UK tour, and what should attending fans expect? We've missed England dearly. We have a strong connection with the country and the UK as a whole. We made sure to come back as soon we had the record out and we chose to do a headlining tour because we wanted to do longer sets which we couldn't do if we opened for another band. We are playing in some nice smaller clubs where we can headline and make up for some lost time.

What will 2012 hold for I Am the Avalanche? We will be back in the UK early on in 2012 then off to the Soundwave festival in Australia and then Japan. Afterwards we plan on doing a headline tour of North America and are hoping to be a part of the European summer festival season.

'They've just finished a tour with the incredible Rival Schools, and now, they are coming to the UK with Title Fight and Transit. This is going to be an incredible tour, so make sure you don't miss out!'

Can you tell us a bit about how the band got together? We all played in different bands growing up in high school and once those bands dissolved we all jammed together one day and here we are now.

So what are the themes and influences that run through your record 'Separation'? On the record there is a theme of separation scattered throughout. Separation is something everyone has to go through whether it is with relationships or physically being separated from the people you love and at this point in our lives it is very relevent. I grew up in a religious environment my whole life and i wanted to sing about my separation from that part of my life. It's a record about being confused and young and being unsure of your decisions and also unsure about life as a whole.

What would you say were the aims and goals for this album as a band? We wanted to make 12 new rock songs without forcing anything. Letting everything come natural was the most important part in writing these songs.

For fans that have been with you since your prior releases what have they thought of your record 'Separation'? Some like it and some don't which is always expected. We have had some really great feedback though for the most part which makes us happy.

How did you end up working with the awesome "Brian McTernan" (Thrice, The Movielife)? We were looking for people to work with us and our small budget. Thinking about asking Brian to to do it was out of the question because we simply didnt think there was a chance in a million years he would be into helping us out. Vinnie from I Am the Avalanche told us to at least ask him and see what he says. We emailed him and he seemed super excited so without question we decided to go with him. We are all huge fans of so many albums he has done. It was a no brainer.

Interview with Jon Simmons

With Brian McTernan on board, how did the recording process go for this album? We wrote it all in Erik's basement and went into the studio with the songs we had. The recording process was fairly easy because we came into the studio prepared and ready to go. Spent a few days in pre production and started recording. It took us 3 weeks to finish the record.

How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Title Fight & Transit and what should attending fans expect? We couldn't be more excited to get to Europe of our first time. We are going there with our best friends so we are pretty lucky. Fans should expect to bang their head harder than they ever have before.

You guys are on such a great record label, how has it been to see a ton of your label mates like The Wonder Years/Such Gold/This Time NextYear getting very well known in recent years? (you included) It's great to see your friends grow and succeed. It is one of the best feelings seeing your friend's hard work pay off. proud of everyone.

What tours have you enjoyed the most this year and why? Australia was amazing. It was our first time playing anywhere over seas so the whole trip was mindblowing. Also the tour we are on now (Clash Battle Guilt Pride tour) has been so fun so far. Everyone is best friends and every day is a great time.

'Daybreak is the conclusion to an epic three album trilogy, which included 'Sound The Alarm' and 'Under The Boards', it shows off how much talent this band still have to show the world, and it is also an introduction to something new. Saves The Day will be hitting the UK soon with Yellowcard and The Wonder Years, this tour is not to be missed!'

Interview with Chris Conley

So how did you come up with the idea of doing three albums with the same narrative running through them all? I started writing in 2005, which was a few years after the start of the war. It was a strange time to be a citizen of the U.S. with Bush urging us to protect freedom across the globe, while millions upon millions of us were uninsured and drifting due to the high costs of health care and living expenses. I was angry and cynical and who could blame me? But I had also just become a father and was in the presence of a miracle on a daily basis. So I was conflicted. I was furious at the state of the world, humanity fighting against itself instead of sharing and healing, but I was in awe of the beauty of Life. I needed to rise above the pain of the world so I could transcend the turmoil and hold onto what is precious. So I was pretty mixed up mentally when I started the trilogy, and the original idea was to pull myself out of that place and document the journey. It was time for me to pull my head out of the sand, stop fighting life, and get on with it.

What are the main themes and inspirations that run through your latest album 'Daybreak' ? We hear it's about acceptance right? Daybreak is about reflecting on our lives and understanding who we are and why we are what we are and learning to be at peace with our inner selves. Living in a complicated world, it's easy to lose ourselves in the drift, unsure of ourselves, falling to pieces trying to be accepted, pulling your hair out at the madness of it all. Once you've got your head put on straight, you notice the structure of society is a bit askew, with people literally having to pay to stay alive, working jobs they dislike, or worse. When you have a child who is facing the world, about to meet it head on, you start to worry about its stability. You get so angry you can almost tear the Earth apart. What are you to do? On Daybreak, I come to terms with my frustration, confusion, and anger by observing things as they are and recognizing that it's ok to feel sad about it, to feel frayed. You cry a few tears and you pick your head up. Life is hard. It's not supposed to be easy. We will all lose what we love, while living in an unbalanced world. The acceptance on Daybreak is about acknowledging the pain that is a natural part of Life, the pain that lies under the surface of our skin. When we turn toward it, we find that it only wants us to know that it cares.

How was the writing and recording process for this album? It was so much fun! I always start without thinking, playing an acoustic guitar, letting my hands wander about the fretboard, and listening for melodies echoing off the back of my mind. For Daybreak, once I had the basic skeleton of a song, I would begin working on the lyrics, tying together the themes from Sound The Alarm and Under The Boards. I had an enormous chart where I had posted all the lyrics from the trilogy, and I was highlighting important themes and making notes in the margins. When I had a good sense of where the idea wanted to evolve, I would get out the pen and work on the lyrics starting with one or two quality ideas as building blocks. After I had the basic structure of the album composed, I showed the songs to Arun, our guitar player, and we started to demo the ideas together. Arun had incredible ideas right off the bat, such as slowing down certain songs, or cutting out the drums for dramatic effect, and trimming the fat here and there. Hearing his guitar parts was wild, because his style is so strange, with the combination of his pedals, his use of the Bigsby, and his feel and tone, I was blown away. So we were in heaven right at the start. When we had the songs where we wanted them, we showed the rest of the band and then we headed to the studio to record in earnest. Once you're in the studio, you typically record the drums first, then bass, then guitars, then vocals, then extra background magic. And then it's done. I was thrilled to be in the studio with Arun and Rodrigo, because they have an inherent sense of how to approach the recording. Rodrigo knew exactly what to do to get the right backbeat flowing and Arun had the ears to pick out all the right tones for the guitars. It was a joy for me to watch the album come to life.

Also, With three different albums on the same concept how much did the recording process vary or stay the same between each? The recording process itself was more or less the same with each album of the trilogy. However, we went to a different studio to track Daybreak. We recorded the first two albums at our home studio in Chico, California, but for Daybreak, we went to Fenton, Michigan to record at our co-producer Marc Hudson's studio, Audiolux. Marc's space is enormous and he is an incredible engineer, so we thought it was a good fit. At Marc's place, you're stranded in the woods, with no distractions, and nothing but guitars, pianos, and drums everywhere you look. It was like being at camp for grownups. We all slept in bunk beds and had bonfires and barbecues. It was a blast.

How have fans reacted to your three album concept idea so far? Our fans absolutely love the trilogy. I think it was important for them to see me evolve in such a positive way. If you pay close enough attention to the lyrics on all the Saves The Day albums, you hear someone who is searching for peace, someone conflicted and confused. Finally, through the release of the inner turmoil on the trilogy, our fans get to see me turn around to face life again, to embrace what is happening inside and out, as opposed to running from life and fighting the pain. Daybreak gives in to the storm, puts its head in the mouth of the lion and says, "I have no fear."

How does it feel to finally have this album trilogy complete and out there in the world? It feels like a triumph. I worked hard for years to bring this album to life, and without Arun and Rodrigo, the trilogy would never have come together the way it did. So it's nice to share the feeling of accomplishment together. Daybreak is already a success in our minds, because it's everything we wanted it to be and more, and it brings the trilogy to a perfect conclusion.

With this three part album concept now complete, what do you plan on doing next as a band? Or is it maybe to early to think about the next release? In my opinion, it's never too early to start thinking about new material. I'm always writing songs. Always envisioning the next album. The music tends to change with my mood, so at the moment, it seems like the new music will be upbeat rock with strange chords, haunted melodies, bizarre lyrics, and a large helping of Weird with a capital W.

What can you tell us about the side project 'Two Tongues' ? Also will we be seeing anymore releases from this project? Yes, Arun and I were just in New York a couple weeks ago, and we met up with Max at a bar in Alphabet City and talked about the next Two Tongues project. We are definitely making another album, and I can't speak for Max, but I've already started writing songs for it. It's a lot of fun working together, and I feel like we get to release a lot of creative energy in Two Tongues which gets filtered out of our own bands. With a side project, you get to let loose a bit, so be on the lookout for a strange album from two delusional musicians.

How would you say your sound has progressed since you first started Saves The Day? When I first started writing songs for Saves, I was listening to punk and hardcore primarily, so the early music is a reflection of that. Once I discovered The Beatles, the songs became more musical. After a near-death experience in a van accident, the lyrics became more metaphorical, as I was searching for meaning in the midst of it all. In the early 2000s, I learned a few jazz chords, and the compositions started to expand past the spectrum of your average punk songs. Over the last few years, I've been interested in arrangements and structure, so the songs are more tightly compressed now. I just have fun with it really, and see where things go as my ears do the hunting.

This summer you got to tour with The Get Up Kids, how was this whole experience? It was an honor to be on tour with The Get Up Kids. We're old friends, so it was a bit of a reunion. Matt and I tour together playing acoustic shows, just the two of us in a van, camping in the woods on off-days, so it was fun to rock out with our bands. The Get Up Kids really know how to enjoy tour, making full-course meals backstage for the touring party, finding the right cheap bars with good well whiskey, and playing baseball in the parking lot. We didn't bring any opening bands on the tour, so we each played an hour and a half each night. It was one of the most fun tours in recent years.

Finally, how excited are you to be touring the UK with Yellowcard and The Wonder Years, and what should attending fans expect? We cannot wait to come overseas to play for you guys! Our last show in London earlier this year was the best show in the history of the band, so I can only imagine what the rest of the UK will look like. You can expect to hear a ton of songs old, new and in between. We like to do a cross-section of our catalogue, playing 4 or 5 songs from each album, throwing in a few B-Sides for fun. So come out and rock with us. We won't disappoint.

'Their album Good For Me has done nothing but amazing things for The Swellers! They've toured the world with bands like Anti-Flag and Paramore, and their single 'The Best I Ever Had' has over 1 million hits on youtube! These guys are taking over right now!'

Interview with Jonathan Diener

So what can you tell your UK fans about your upcoming album 'Good For Me' ? This record was many years in the making for us. The second we released "Ups and Downsizing" we started working on more songs. We ended up picking 10 big rock songs that we knew meant something to us, that people would dig, and had a big consistent flow from start to finish. It's obviously different compared to our earlier records as far as tempo, but we believe these are the best songs we've ever written. As far as themes and influences we just wanted to write a record that reminded us of buying records when we first got into punk rock. There's a big nostalgia theme to the album. We talk about getting your first CD as a kid and discovering music, then playing music and eventually getting to where we all are now. It seems the "refreshing" aspect has been missing from our scene for a while so we thought we'd take people back a bit and give them another dose of the 90s while keeping The Swellers sound.

Whats the meaning to your album title 'Good For Me' ? We want these songs and the title to be open to interpretation, but to me, 'Good For Me' means writing this album was a therapetic experience for us after going through a lot of things and making it through just fine. Lineup changes, living situation changes, and overall all the things life threw at us didn't slow us down. You take what you want from it, whatever is good for you works.

What bands influence you as musicians, and also have any had an effect on this latest record? Nick and I have always listened to punk bands from the Fat Wreck Chord and early Epitaph roster and mixed their sounds with our favorite bands like Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids, Weezer and Saves The Day. I think a big new element to our sound was just listening to Descendents nonstop. One of the best bands of all time. The way they write songs is just too cool. We also recalled some sounds from 90s radio bands like Third Eye Blind that a lot of people consider guilty pleasures, but their record "Out Of The Vein" is phenomenal and underrated.

What was it like to work with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore when recording this album? Well it leads back to the fact that Descendents, and specifically Bill Stevenson, created some of our favorite songs of all time. Bill and Jason being great drummers helped me as a drummer and all of us with great structural ideas for these songs. It was a very laid back environment because we were all comfortable with each other a few days in and knew what each other enjoyed as far as music. They knew we wanted to make a big record and that's how they treated us. No bullshit, just to the point. That's what we loved.

How would you say this album compares to your last release "Ups and Downsizing" ? I think this record is much more focused sonically. It has bigger choruses, some new elements thrown in, less double-time drumming and more melody/song based rather than showing off as individuals. We all contributed to making something unique that we feel confident playing live and sounding just like the record. We also stopped thinking what we thought people would like and actually saved the extra 4 songs for other releases instead of compromising the flow of the album. Those will be out within the next year we believe.

This album has been out since June in the states, so with this in mind how excited are youfor its release here in the UK? We played the UK three times in one year. The main reason we have been there so often is because we LOVE it there. We have so many great friends' bands that take us out and so many great fans that are genuinely excited to see us. It's our second home, so it's about damn time it's out! We want everyone to have this record already!

How does it feel to have your single "The Best I Ever Had" reach one million hits on YouTube? It's pretty incredible. We never thought we'd have the number 1,000,000 associated with our band in any way, and having YouTube be a huge factor in a band's growth these days, it's really flattering. Also, our friend Mike Berlucchi did a killer job on the video and we're glad it got the coverage it deserved!

What songs of the new album are you enjoying playing the most live at the moment and why? I think "The Best I Ever Had" is the band's favorite song to play right now. It's so solid, has so much energy and has the perfect amount of crowd participation where we can have the whole room singing along. Mainly the new songs are what we really dig playing live since they're fresh. "The Damage" is always a fun one to play because it hits so hard and everyone gets a little chance to shine.

You've played the UK a bunch of times now, with this in mind what is it you love so much about touring here? I think our team of people in the UK makes it the most enjoyable for us. Kirk Harrington is the best tour manager we've EVER had. Jordan Daniel is one of my best friends and a great merch guy. We all just have a blast together. All of the drives are short so you have more time to explore the towns, sleep in and take your time eating before and after the show. We're fatties.

How was your tour with Paramore this year? Any crazy stories from the road that you would like to share with us? The shows in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore were ridiculous. We couldn't fathom that people knew who we were, that we were staying in 5 star hotels... and that we were in countries we didn't think we'd even visit let alone TOUR in our lifetime. A standout moment was when we went to the Singapore Comic Convention and Hayley was being stalked/chased by fans. People thought we were in Paramore so I signed a few autographs. I then put together people got more pictures with her than they did the Storm Troopers from Star Wars. I've never witnessed that kind of thing, I felt like I was on TMZ or something. I'm just a sloppy lanky dude who farts, I don't think I'll ever get to that level haha.

How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour and what should attending fans expect? Well it'll be our fourth time playing the UK and doing our first proper headlining tour. People are familiar with us enough so we can play a wide-arrange of songs. We can play longer sets and include a good amount of new songs we've been wanting to play there forever. We also have 2 of our favorite bands supporting us, so for the first time we got to pick the whole tour worth of people to go out with us. It's going to be one big hang out session then great music at night.

You guys are getting much more well known every single day, with this rapid success now at your doorstep what do you guys plan on achieving next year? I think we just want to continue touring around the globe, including new and more distant places. We want to return to everywhere we've already been and spread the word of "Good For Me". I just want our band to keep growing and never stop or lose any momentum. We're very ambitious, grateful dudes and we just want to do what we love and spend our time with people who share that sentiment. We hope things continue the way they are because the more people we draw, the more money we make, etc. the more we'll put back into our live shows, our touring and releases to always make things new, interesting and exciting. It's a win-win situation!

Interview with Eron Bucciarelli

So what can you tell us about your latest EP Hate? This is just the beginning of a trilogy of EP's right? Hate is the first of three self-released EPs on our newly formed label, Cardboard Empire. Its about frustrations and anger over situations we've experienced in life and in our career.

Why did you choose 'Four White Walls' as the first song to release to fans of this EP? Its

an aggressive track. We wanted to hit people over the head both lyrically and musically to make them stand up and take notice.

How did you come up with the idea of releasing a music video for every song on the EP 'Hate'? People tend to only pay attention to songs that have videos. What's the point of writing and releasing a song if no one pays any attention to it? There are songs that we play off of Silence In Black And White (our biggest album) that people don't recognize to this day. Making a video for each track might be ambitious, but we'll certainly try to accomplish that goal.

Is this an idea that you will continue on your future EP's maybe? Time will tell.

So how would you say your EP 'Hate' compares lyrically to your last album 'Skeletons'? Hate is WAY darker and angrier than anything we've ever done.

How come you decided to put out an EP instead of a full album? Is this maybe a taster of the direction you are heading in? Or something else? If you give people too many songs to listen to, people get overwhelmed and the songs towards the end never get the attention that they deserve. Smaller releases focuses the listeners attention and it allows us to record and release music at a much more rapid pace, thereby fulfilling our fans desire for new music faster than ever!

'They've created their own record label and now their currently working on a series of EPs! Right now, is a very busy and exciting time for these guys, so read on to get yourselves updated with the incredible Hawthorne Heights!' What song are you enjoying playing live the most of 'Hate' and why? We've only played a few of the songs so far. Four White Walls is a lot of fun as is the title track, Hate.

How have fans reacted to the EP so far? They've actually been reacting great! Its a relief to see people this excited about new music!

You've been a band now since 2001, would you say since then your writing and influences as musicians have changed a lot or stayed the same? They've absolutely changed. Our musical tastes have evolved as has our ability to write music.

How has it been running your own recording label Cardboard Empire so far? So far so good. Its a little more work than before, but we've always been very hands-on with our career. The best part so far has been that we call all of the shots and there aren't crazy hoops to jump through any more.

How excited are you to be touring the UK with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and what should attending fans expect? We're very excited. Last year was the first year touring abroad for us in about five years and it was so amazing. We can't wait to get back and do it with our friends in RJA. Its going to be a lot of fun!

What does 2012 hold for Hawthorne Heights ? We're going to release lots of new music and do a lot of touring!

'Their new single 'Trip over the world excited f Adrenaline, and if you’re excited as




Interview with Andrea Ferro

p The Darkness' has got fans all for Lacuna Coils next album Dark e reading this, then you should be s well! Get involved'



What were your goals as a band when setting out to record "Dark Adrenaline" and would you say those goals and targets have been achieved? THE ONLY GOALS HAVE BEEN TO WRITE GOOD SONGS AND TO EXPRESS OUR FEELINGS. I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT WE FEEL GREAT ABOUT THE ALBUM.








Interview with Andrew Groves

'Their cover of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' blew us away, and then we took a listen to their other material, we were then, also very impressed, and that's why we have them here in this issue of Stencil Mag. So listen to these guys now, as they will be taking over the alternative music scene in 2012' Can you tell us a bit about how the band got together? Myself and Daryl (Drummer) met at college while studying music technology. We gradually formed a ton of bands before finally realising that it was always us two who drove and pushed the bands, and so formed Arcane Roots together. Adam joined when our previous bassist left the band in December 2008 and we dragged him over from the Isle of Wight in January 2009.

How would you describe your bands sound to an unfamiliar reader? We started the band because we felt there wasn't a band really bridging that gap between the excitement, energy and, let's face it, massive riffs of good rock music and the soaring grace and crafting of melody in pop music. We've best heard it described as beautifully jarring pop rock.

You probably get this question a lot, but can you tell us how you got to the name Arcane Roots, and maybe what it means to you as a band? Naming a band is one of those age old trials, it needs to sum up your entire ethos, sound and style in just a few short words that are memorable and stand out. For us, at the time, the name just seemed to sound how we wanted it to, after a lot of different names and versions, so we stuck with it. But now we seemed to have grown into the name, 'Roots' representing the many genres and influences that we draw from in our sound and 'Arcane' meaning known by only a few, although that seems to be changing these days!

We heard your cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, and it sounded incredible. Can you tell us about the recording process for this song, and how you went about transferring this classic song into a cover, as well as something that sounded like it had your staple on it? Thank you! Well, we were told at Sonisphere that we had been offered the track, so we immediately spoke to our producer Chris Coulter, who produces all of our material and we now live with, and he only had the following weekend free to record it. This left me only 3 evenings to completely rewrite the track. I was already bouncing off the walls with ideas as soon as we were told, so i just had to tame them and work on inverting/augmenting the chords to keep the melody in place, a decision we made to keep the thread of the song there and not attract ALL the death threats! We ended up recording it in Chris' (then) living room with his mobile rig due to time constraints and recorded guitar first, as opposed to drums, as i was prone to changing the arrangement at the last second. We're really happy with it and wanted to do something that showed how Nirvana had influenced us but at the same time where we had gone with that and what it now means to us. Kind of like a 4th dimension plant, from seed to tree, but all at the same time.

What can you tell us about your latest album Left Fire? We wrote Left Fire as if you were watching a concert and structured it around what we would want to see/hear from a band; Big first song with a catchy chorus, epic pop second song with big melody, heavier melodic song, riff-central-riffathon-smash-you-in-the-face and an epic singalong/send you home to finish with. I didn't want it to be just an Ep either, so we tied all the tracks together with little joining parts and songs, so that it simply picked you up and put you down when it was finished. We started the band because no one had bridged the gap between rock and pop well enough to satisfy us and so we wanted Left Fire to be our opening statement. We love bands like The Mars Volta, Fall Of Troy, Tesseract, 22 and Mesuggah but we also love the writing of KT Tunstall, Camille and Joanna Newsom. I wanted Left Fire to cover all of those areas but be it's own entity at the same time.

What were your targets and goals for this release and would you say they have been achieved? After making some smaller demos and ep's etc, we wanted to make something that represented us entirely, everything that we were about, and be of the highest quality so that anyone who heard it would instantly know. We also wanted the mini-album to be accessible to anyone, with the best parts of rock and pop music, high energy riffs and passion, coupled with melody and song craftmanship, it excites us to blur the line of what an audience will accept. So for us it has been a success and got us the recognition and regard that we wanted to have going into the industry, we work flat out for it and we're 100% proud of it. Now to do that for a full length album...

At this point how would you say Left Fire has been received by your fan base, and what do you think it has done for the status of Arcane Roots? So far, we've had an overwhelming response and received nothing but outstanding reviews, it's very humbling to meet press and fans that are so excited about a record we've put so much love into. With any luck as Left Fire spreads to the great seas of people and out of our lake, it will continue to be accepted and bring new people and opportunities with it. We're desperate to show what we can do and be more than a band. We want to work continually at being better and giving people more; doing our own videos, art, tour backdrops and setup etc. People seem to respect and appreciate that, which is very uplifting for a band in 2011. Our fans are great and they drive us and inspire us to push the envelope further and give more back to them, they seem to be open and willing to be challenged and we will always humbly oblige!

Can you tell us about the artwork on the front cover of Left Fire, and what it means to you as a band, as we've seen this triangle logo appear on some of your other releases as well? Well for any band it's important to identify an image or abbreviated logo etc, so for the three of us it seemed like a triangle made the most sense as it really stands out and is instantly identifiable. It links in with us being a three-piece but also the power and unity that each side provides, the band literally wouldn't work with one side missing. Daryl Atkins, (Drummer) creates all of our artwork and directs all of our videos, i think he's done an amazing job with the cover, it really draws your attention and shows all of the channels of energy and raw power of the world around the triangle. For us, it shows all the harmony and symmetry in place but also the delicate balancing act between forces and how fine the line is between destruction and beauty, which is mirrored by our own struggle to balance our own musical interests and endeavors.

What shows have stood out the most this summer and why? I mean you got some great slots at both Nass and Sonisphere! Sonisphere was incredible, it was our first glimpse and trial at playing big festivals. To be surrounded by the bands we've looked up to our whole lives and (meet some!) then be put up against them was a serious hurdle for us to leap. To have a full tent at that time of the morning on the Sunday, and find out Corey Taylor was watching just blew us all away, i don't think we could hide the shock on our faces as we came out. Our recent headline show at The Lexington and our show with Young Legionnaire also established a new high watermark for us in response from our fans, we're very thankful.

What will 2012 hold for Arcane Roots? Well, we tour the UK in November with a Norwegian band 22, we're big fans of each others bands so we wanted to make it the best tour for both of our fans. We've been skyping eachother and we've got some great surprises and collaborations planned for the tour. Our single from Left Fire 'You Are' comes out on the 21st November and that will be available on vinyl and download. THEN we head to Ireland to record our debut album with Chris Coulter in my families' house in the middle of nowhere in coldest December. January and February are looking like a lengthy support tour and European dates and THEN our album is released in April time, THEN festivals! Then the world!

Interview with Rick Jimenez

'This year has been incredible for music, and This Is Hell have just added themselves to the list of awesome releases with their latest album ‘Black Mass’ check it out!” What can you tell us about your latest album 'Black Mass' ? Themes... Injustice, both social and personal. Revenge. Inequality. Lack of opportunity. Persistence. Seeing through bullshit. Influences... Lyrically, life in my area and my immediate world. Musically, Metallica, megadeth, cromags, slayer, sick of it all

What was the recording process like for 'Black Mass' ? The perfect mix of "eye on the ball" focus and hard work, and let's really enjoy this and have fun experimenting and making the most out of the process and surroundings

Where did you get the title 'Black Mass' from, and what does it mean to you as a band? The metaphor is to relate something most view as pure and expose the darkness of it. Whether it be american life, hardcore, relationships, pursuit of happiness etc. What isn't evil nowadays? Who isn't selfish? Where is there any absolute truth not motivated by personal greed. Not personal satisfaction, personal greed. Everyone is an asshole.

When setting out to record 'Black Mass' as a band what were your aims and goals for this record? Only goals were to have a record with songs we were 100% siked on and sound like a tank driven by satan and fueled by the 4 winds.

Would you say these aims and goals have been achieved? We've currently been touring in a tank but it still runs on regular ass gasoline so were halfway there

What's been the most challenging process or moment maybe, in creating your new album 'Black Mass' ? I'm tempted to say stepping out of our comfort zone but that wasn't challenging really, we always do that. Plus it was more liberating. The challenging part comes later when every idiot thinks the demo or sundowning are the only good things we've ever done and bitches about new songs. I have no time for stagnation due to outside influence.

The album has only literally just come out, with this in mind how are fans reacting to the new material so far? Live the songs go over well but it's too early to see if it sticks. Well see in a week or two when everyone illegally downloads the record and complains about something or another.

What songs are you enjoying playing live the most of the new album at the moment and why? We've been playing salt the earth, the wars part I and acid rain live... All have been a lot of fun cause they're new and energetic. It's interesting to see what kids gravitate towards also. Sometimes I'm actually surprised.

How would you say this album compares to 'Weight of the World' ? It's comparable with the thrash elements but more extreme. To me it's the perfect follow up. It's way more fierce on all fronts. Sonically, vocally, lyrically, musically etc. Live the 2 albums make an awesome set to play

How did you come up with the front cover artwork for 'Black Mass' and what does it mean to you? Same metaphor as the title. Took some lyrics and got literal with them and gave the idea to our artist Will Blood and he nailed it.

How come you guys moved to Rise Records? Our deal was up with one label and we found a new one.

What will 2012 hold for 'This Is Hell' ? Shoving these new songs down everyone's throats like the mandible claw

Interview with Michael McGough

'They toured Europe with Hope Dies Last, They've been on Blank TV, and they also have an awesome record out. If you want an amazing band to start of your 2012 with a bang, then we highly recommend 'The Elijah' Can you tell us a little bit about the formation of The Elijah? other members are Dan Tomley - Vocals, Sam Jones - Bass, Sean Harrison - Guitar / Orchestration, Jakub Taylor - Drums. We've been a band for about 3 years, we had a 4 track EP before our latest release 'A Son : A Disease' - both of these were self released. We recently recorded and released a brand new single from our debut full length album, set for release in early 2012.

For unfamiliar readers, can you describe how your band sounds? We play atmospheric and melodic music, combining stunning chord progressions paralleled with a strong orchestrated backing track. We're both a listenable and visual band live and it's extremely difficult to compare us to any other UK band.

How did you get to the band name The Elijah? Also what meaning does it have to you? The name 'Elijah' can be seen as a religious aspect, but we use the name simply for its meaning and morals; strength, passion and energy. We see this in our music both on record and in our live performance. It's rare that a band will have a name with actual meaning these days so we pride ourselves on that.

What was it like to tour Europe with Hopes Die Last? It was incredible - we did a mini tour with Hopes Die Last back in January as a 'warm up' for their UK tour with Attack Attack!! so we kind of knew what to expect with some of the shows. We managed to play some places that we had never dreamed of playing and we were completely blown away by the response to this tour in each town.

In a kind of reference to the last question, what other shows have stood out to you this year and why? UK shows - we've had some great shows in Aberdeen, Birmingham, London, Leeds - to name a few. our UK response has been incredible. We had a great time at 'Crash Doubt' festival in Lincoln back in May when we were on tour with LIFERUINER also, so many awesome bands over 2 days. Over in Europe - we played Szczecin in Poland and that was one of our favorite shows so far as a band. We had most of the crowd singing along and going insane for us, and to be so far from home and have that in a Polish city was absolutely mind blowing. Same in most places in Europe actually, its overwhelming to have these people knowing who we are in different countries

What can you tell us about your release A SON: A DISEASE ? A Son : A Disease is a concept record - we get asked alot what the meaning behind the tracks/titles/lyrics are about - but there is no point explaining as we don't want to rid the mystery that surrounds it. There's never really any mystery behind artists anymore, so it's good to let the listener decide what they want to from hearing AS:AD and make their assumptions from there. We all have connections to the meanings, some listeners have told us they have taken their own meanings from it and thats awesome. If we don't tell anyone what it means, maybe they can help themselves with using it to deal with their own situations. We're a very 'giving' band, haha.

What can you tell us about you your song I, Destroyed ? Which was released on Blank TV! I Destroyed is our latest single, and the first single from an upcoming album. Some people have taken it as a new sound but i think we see it more as a step up from our 'familiar' style, everything is bigger and stronger. Blank TV were nice enough to release it for us through their YouTube account, they have debuted some incredible bands so it seemed right to do it through them.

Who came up with the video idea for the song, and what do you want it to mean to your fans? We all came up with the idea behind the video after we recorded the track.. We didn't want to have a performance video, we wanted something really simple, but represented the meaning behind the lyrics and song overall. Eve Carroll (the model in the video) did a great job with how we wanted her to look throughout the video, and the director Jordan Green has done an excellent job with making it flow exactly how we wanted it to. Kind of the same as AS:AD, we'd prefer fans to take whatever meaning they want from it but we wanted something to look exactly how it sounds....if that makes sense.

We read that this is part of an upcoming release next year, so with this in mind can you tell us how your new material is coming along and what fans should expect? We've been working on new material for the best part of about a year now, We're ready to begin pre-production over the next couple of weeks and have been lucky enough to book in our studio time already. Fans can expect a huge step up from AS:AD, a bigger soundscape and a much bigger atmosphere. We couldn't be happier with how the tracks are sounding right now so we're extremely excited for people to hear it finally. It's difficult to use I Destroyed as the launch pad for how the album will sound, because there's some much heavier sounding tracks on there.

What does 2012 hold for The Elijah? We're currently sorting out our touring schedule and the album release date, aswell as a release tour to go alongside it. We can't wait to get back out on the road and play the new material to everyone. Keep checking back on our Facebook and Tumblr pages for regular updates/news.

Interview with Ben

As some of you came from Boys With Xray Eyes did you already have a bunch of ideas as to what you wanted to do in the studio? Going back to my first answer - it was all one big natural progression. Towards the end of that band some idea's were knocking about, riffs were being laid down, but the vibe had changed. We were moving on to pastures new and we knew what needed to be done. Obviously, a lot of lessons were learned in BWXE. We knew exactly how we wanted to record the new stuff, it was time to push everything to a new level. It was a wake up call for us.

'Kevin Devine is one talented, and busy man! His just released his new album 'Between The Concrete and Clouds', and at the same time as this, he has put together a cover record to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the famous Nirvana record 'Nevermind', and it sounds amazing!'

So what can you tell us about your latest album 'Between the Concrete and Clouds' ? I think it's the most 'of a piece' record we've made. I wanted to consciously make something that had impact and depth but was concise and digestible, a blend of what characterizes my songwriting with a kind of pop consciousness. I wanted to make a record that moved well, one that surprised you when it was over, one you wanted to play again. Lyrically, it's about people figuring it out. Strugglers making sense of the complexities of modern living.

How did you get to the title 'Between the Concrete and Clouds' and what does it mean to you? It kind of fell out while writing that song, and seemed immediately to me to be not only the obvious name of the record but also a kind of catch-all thematically for most of what's going on in the songs. Maybe it's all the travel but a lot of my life has felt like that, between, and in a sense, we're all between the beginning and the end, trying to keep present and open in the face of the inevitable. To me, the title means present-mindedness. Here, now.

What was the recording process like for this album? I wrote and did acoustic demos for the record in our rehearsal space in Brooklyn between August 2010 and January 2011, wrote and recorded 15 songs. Throughout, I was sending the demos to Chris Bracco, who produced and played bass, and the rest of the band (Mike Fadem on drums, Mike Strandberg & Russell Smith on guitars, Brian Bonz on keyboards). We started doing band demos/rehearsals/arrangements in December, got things in blueprinted in loose shape, and went up to Chris' house in Stratford, CT to record the album in his studio there weekends in February. It was finished by the time we left for a 2 week tour to and from South By Southwest in March. Rob Schnapf mixed at his studio in LA in May, and Mark Chalecki mastered down the hall in early June. Amazing.

What would you say was the biggest challenge behind the creation of this record and why? Honestly, this was the most fluid and in many respects challenge-free process so far. It all felt very naturally arrived at, one foot in front of the other. Maybe getting out of the way of my own expectations of what the songs were 'supposed' to be based on the prior record. Once that was out of the way, it felt really loose and free.

How would you say this record compares to your last album 'Brothers Blood' ? I think it's tighter and more fluid; the goal was to build the depth and layering, the tonal shades of that record, but untie some of the knots and smooth things out a bit. I realized I didn't have to rewrite those songs that lean more towards grandeur in scale, because I had already. Turn the page.

What songs are you enjoying performing the most of the new record at the moment and why? I genuinely like playing them all right now, but with the full band, particularly "A Story, A Sneak," "I Used To Be Someone," and the title track. It's fun leaning into those ones, I love the dynamics. Solo, I really enjoy playing "Sleepwalking Through My Life" and "Off-Screen" - they feel really different that way.

You are now six albums in, with this in mind, how would you say you have progressed or developed as a musician since your first output? Well, at 31, I think I've gotten better, which you hope happens when you write your first record at 19 years old. I think the songs are‌more. More depth, more melody, the lyrics are sharper, the production and arrangement choices broadly improved, better sung. I think it's been gradual, the things you kind of pick up and hope to hone through a life doing something.

You recently covered the whole Nirvana album 'Nevermind' when and how did this idea come to light, and what was the recording process like for this record? (Such an awesome idea!) Nirvana is one of the few absolute consensus bands in our world. We all totally love them. Chris suggested we cover the record for the 20th anniversary, half-kidding, and we saw his bluff. We went up on a Sunday and did all the drums, Chris played bass over the span of a couple weeks, and I went up and did the guitars and vocals one night before we left for tour. Super fun, been playing those songs for years.

What would you say was the biggest challenge on this cover record? Probably generally singing the way he sang those songs. It's intense. The guitar solo for "In Bloom" was also a challenge. What was it like recording with The Manchester Orchestra on the Bad Books record? It was fun, pretty easy. We've known each other a while, have done tons of shows together, performed on each other's stuff, so this was the next logical step. I really liked working with those guys in that context.

When you created this record, did it have any effect on your commitments as a solo musician? No, I was pretty clear at that time, still touring "Brother's Blood" but not ready to write the new record yet. It was perfectly timed.

How weird was it jumping from doing the Bad Books record back into doing your own thing? Did you maybe carry anything you learnt from the Bad Books process into the studio when recording 'Between the Concrete and Clouds' ? I think I took aspects of that experience into making this record for sure. That record was quick, not overly thought out, real tight, melodic song structures. The best idea most quickly arrived at was the one we went with. I tried to bring that energy to this record too. It wasn't weird in the slightest transitioning between the two.

'In her home country of Canada, her new album 'Siberia' hit number three in the album charts! This factor alone has helped to accelerate her status all over the world! A new chapter has surely begun for Lights, and we for one are excited to see where this record takes her!' We know you are a comic book fan, so can you tell us about how you first fell in love with comics and why they have influenced you so much as a person? Probably the first comic that got me into the simple, frame by frame style of story telling was The Farside by Gary Larson, followed by Tin Tin books. I would read these over and over, just fascinated by entire stories told by pictures. I progressed to Calvin and Hobbes and Hermann, and then fell into DC land, and Wonder Woman. There's always a hint of darkness that makes comics so much more than just pictures and story telling. You can fantasize something outrageous and make it a reality, right in front of you. I used to invent my own characters, one was named Monty. He was an unfortunate little frog, there was a lot of darkness in the stories, but it's balanced out by how cute the drawings are. Cool dynamic.

So what can you tell us about your latest album 'Siberia' ? Siberia is the pop tunes I love but with a darker, grittier edge. There are some dubstep influences, some rapping, lyrics dig a little deeper, and every day that I was in the process of building this record I brought along a book of fantasy art by Clyde Caldwell for inspiration (D&D, Magic: the Gathering, Heavy Metal Magazine, etc).

How's the reception been so far for 'Siberia'? Because it is a bit of a departure from my previous record, I was prepared for a bit of adversity from fans, but the reception has blown me away. People seem to really get it, and seem totally on board with my evolution as an artist.

How would you say this album compares to The Listening? I love both dearly, and they both definitely represent where I was at the time of writing and creating. Siberia is obviously more "now" for me. It's darker, harder and gnarlier (word?). Ironically, it's also happier

What was the recording process like for this album? The record took from about January to May intensively. Most of the songs were written in a small shack out in Fort Erie, Ontario with Tawgs Salter (main producer on the album and a long time co-writer with me) save for a few that were written in Brian's (of Holy Fuck) dining room with him and Graham. Holy Fuck leant their stain to the record, while Shad, long distance from Vancouver, contributed some rapping, and Jay Parsons (from a group called USS) helped us build some beats. Dwave (another long time co-writer with me) and I wrote a few tunes out in Nashville (in his home studio which we dubbed the Canadian Embassy).

What was it like to have Holy Fuck and Shad guest feature on your record, and can you tell us a little bit about how each collaboration came together? It was a thrill to have these very different contributions on the record. What I've learned compliments my work best is the work of those that do something very different from me. They bring to the table what I can't. Holy Fuck basically came in and brought a degree of rawness to the potentially perfect sounds I was concocting. Shad leant vocals that I would never even have come close to inventing, so brilliant. Holy Fuck and I met at Reading/Leeds last year. It was the suggestion of my long time, trusted manager, Jian Ghomeshi, to work with them after I explained to him my desire to take the record to a grittier, dub-step infused place. Shad has been an acquaintence through dear friend Rob Dyer (of skate4cancer, a charity I'm involved with). I hit him up over email to see if he would be interested in contributing and we did the whole collab long distance, via email.

How did you go about deciding 'Toes' would be the first official single to release of your latest album? Toes seemed to be the song that was hitting everyone right off the top, first listen. It's those gut instincts that are the only indicator of direction in this industry. Gotta trust 'em!

What were your targets and goals when setting out to record this record, and would you say they have been achieved? I wanted to allow the music I was creating to catch up with me and my tastes, a bit heavier, a bit more raw. I achieved that and more, we made a record that I am extremely proud of.

What would you say for you was the biggest challenge on this new record, and why? The first major challenge in moving into this new place musically was shedding the expectations that you and your fans have of you to create the first record over again. People think they want the same thing from you, but if they really "want" the artist they will move with their changes. For the first little while, all the new songs were turning up sounding like the last record. I knew that is not what needed to happen, it wouldn't last that way. I want to show people they can always expect something new from me, that I will always stay on the cusp of my abilities.

How would you say you have developed as a musician since you first started 'Lights' ? Over the past years I've grown and improved in every single way, as a musician, performer, speaker, writer, and in myself personally, my confidence and my natural sense of who I am. It all follows. All of these things contribute to me as a musician, that's the catch with this line of work. Your career and your personal life are essentially drawing from the same place, they should be seamless.

Finally, have you had much time to play computer games recently, and if so can you tell us which ones you've been enjoying the most!? As predicted, I'm still on World of Warcraft, just getting into the Firelands patch. I've taken a recent dive into the new Ocarina of Time reinvented for Nintendo 3DS. On iPad I've found a great RPG Order and Chaos, as well as, on a much lighter note, a major addiction to Tiny Tower.

Interview with James Veck-Gilodi

What can you tell us about your latest album "Fools and Worthless Liars"? Well for a start its more honest than the last one, It is basically a collection of stories about my life. Influences are the places I've been, the people I've known and everything that has happened to me over the last 10 or so years.

How did you go about choosing "I'm A Bore, Mostly" as the first single to release of this album? Well I think it was partly down to other people involved in the band's decisions but mainly we just thought it was a great first single because it's not the strongest song on the album, it doesn't give away too much but it also sums up the whole record quite well. A good first impression for the public I think.

How did you come up with the album title "Fools and Worthless Liars" ? Well it is a lyric in the chorus of the opening track, but other than that is pretty sums up what I am, a foolish worthless liar. I think we all are deep down.

What was the recording process like for this album? The recording process was pretty enjoyable again as it was with our friend Matt O'grady at his studio in Woking. It took around 3 and a half weeks to complete I think, although I can't remember because I was pretty delusional from lack of sleep and too much booze when we recorded it.

How would you say this album compares to Meet Me Halfway, At Least? It really can't be compared, it's miles away from that album. I really think it has to be treated as a new band. The lyrics are more honest and genuine, the songs are more well structured and mature. Overall it is a much better and well rounded record.

‘Deaf Havana have been touring a lot this year, but at the same time they’ve also put together their new album Fools and Worthless Liars, we catch up with James to find out all about this incredible new release’

How come a bunch of songs like 'My Life is Average' and 'Smiles All Around' didn't make it on to the album? Well those songs were pretty much just transition periods between albums, they really aren't good enough to make the album in my opinion. They were what it took for us to find our sound.

Who came up with the front cover to the album, and what do you want this image to mean to your fans? Well that was a combination of us and Tom Barnes (the photographer). The front cover really just symbolises youth and a constant fear of growing older.

You guys covered the Nirvana classic Come As You Are for Kerrang! recently, how did this idea come about, and what was it like covering such a classic song? Well that was Kerrangs idea, we just tried to stay pretty true to the origional. There is always such a fear of murdering a song when you cover it, especially when it is someone like Nirvana.

How excited are you for your upcoming shows with Architects and what should attending fans expect? Architects will be great although I'm a little apprehensive of how their fans will take to us. I'm looking forward to it mind!

What will 2012 hold for Deaf Havana? I honestly don't know, I suppose that depends on how people take to our album. I'd like 2012 to surprise me...

'Four Year Strong hav a year, they've lost a done festival slots all they have their new alb public! As well as thi back to the UK next ye

ve had a roller coaster of band member, they've over the world, and now bum unleashed upon the s, the band are coming ear for a string of dates'

Interview with Alan Day Interview by Ramsey Marwen

It’s been an eventful year for Four Year Strong – in April you parted ways with Josh [Lyford], witnessed Blink-182 cancel their UK arena tour, but also recorded a whole new album (‘In Some Way Shape or Form’) due for release in November. How has it been for all of you? It’s been a huge year for us. We’ve done a lot of things, a lot of changes have happened and I mean it’s all about the music. We parted ways with Josh, that was mainly because we had creative differences and all that, a million reasons really – it seemed better for both parties. Then we got that Blink-182 tour, which we didn’t end up doing, cos’ it got cancelled, which was too bad, cos’ we were stoked about that.

How disappointed were you when Blink cancelled the UK tour? We were pretty disappointed. We kinda had a weird feeling that it would get cancelled, cos’ so many of our tours lately have been cancelled. So we were just like this is too good to be true, so it will probably get cancelled too, and it did.

Is there any chance that you’ll join them on the 2012 rescheduled tour? Well we want to, but nothing’s guaranteed right now.

Do you think the events of this year will show on the new record? I think a lot of these things will show their face on the new record; everything we’ve gone through as a band and personally appears on this record, I think. We’ve gone through so much and it all shows.

When you originally started recording the new record, you hinted that there would be quite a shift in sound; the new tracks sound amazing, but do you fear that some older fans may be alienated by the move towards a pure rock sound? I guess I feel like we are alienating them, but that wasn’t at all the intention. That wasn’t at all what we wanted, but I think for some reason that’s what people are taking from it– that alienation and that we’re abandoning them. That song in particular, ‘Fairweather Fan’, I think our fans weren’t getting it. That song isn’t to say “Fuck you” to all our fans, you know that’s what people were taking from it. But in reality, it was saying “thank you” to all of our fans, for actually appreciating us as a band. It was a “fuck you” to all of those people who maybe never even really heard us in the first place, the type of guy who saw a friend wear our bands t-shirt, and then went and downloaded our record and didn’t really listen to it and then all of a sudden saw people online say Four Year Strong are releasing a new record and jump on the bandwagon by saying “yeah, they suck now” and they weren’t even a fan in the first place, you know? So we’re saying thank you to all of those people that have been there, or even if you haven’t been there from the beginning, but you heard our record last week and then bought our entire catalogue and now we’re your favourite band, we appreciate those people and all the people that appreciate the music and who we are as a band. We want them to come along for the ride.

Is the shift in direction related at all to Josh’s departure? Or are there bigger factors at play here? No..Him leaving the band had nothing to do with the sound, cos’ I guess he never really had a hand in the creative side of the band, the writing process. He had nothing to do with it, so that definitely has nothing to do with how the record sounds.

So is this shift in sound just a natural progression? I think more than anything it was just a natural progression, it’s just what we wanted to do since the last record; doing things that we wanted to do on the last record, but weren’t able to tackle because we were afraid people wouldn’t get it.

What are the major themes addressed on the new record? I don’t think there’s really a theme throughout the record, but it touches on a number of things: we talk about the music industry, things we’ve gone through as a band, we talk about friends and family and the things they’ve gone through.

There seems to be a lot of focus on living for the moment – is this a new philosophy the guys are embracing or has this always been your ethos? It’s always how we’ve done it. We’ve always done this for fun and we don’t want to take for granted what we have in the moment right now, because it really could all just end. We’re just a bunch of kids playing music for fun, and everything we’ve ever done has far surpassed our expectations, so we could end right now and be happy and be proud of what we’ve done.

How excited are you for the release of the new record? Extremely excited. We’ve been in the studio making the record since January, and we were writing for it a year before that. It’s been such a long time coming and we’re so proud of the music that came out of it – we just want the world to see the whole package, not this song and this song, but the whole thing.

What can you tell us about the new single ‘Just Drive’ and the story behind the video? That song is all about living in the moment and saying “fuck it”. The scenario is that the world could end, so why not just do the things the way you want to do it and do it now, before it’s all over? The video was a ton of fun, it was awesome; we recorded it in one night in Toronto. We flew to Toronto for a day and it was awesome.

It would be fair to say Four Year Strong bring an entirely unique sound to the table, but you guys have helped sparked not only a revival in pop-punk, but also spawned ‘popcore’ – what do you think of the current music scene and labelling of music? I think this is the thing we’re trying to escape on the new record, all of the micro-genre labelling, every little change in style having its own unique name. At the end of the day it’s all just rock music, it all came from the same places, with the same aggression and energy. We’re just trying to capture it in its most solid form, rather than trying to micromanage what it’s called.

Were there any bands in particular that influenced the writing of the new record? We were listening to a lot of different stuff at that point – listening to a lot more of the music that got us into music in the first place, as opposed to the music that made us start this band. So we were listening to a lot of 90s music, and older stuff like the Beatles that my parents would listen to, that would play in my household the whole time I was growing up. We were listening to grunge like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, as well as Rage Against the Machine – music that gave us that special feeling when you were younger that made you realise music is what you want to do.

You’re currently out on the AP Tour – how is that going? It’s going great, we’re having a ton of fun, the bands are great, and that’s about it – we’re having a blast like we always do on tour.

You plan to be in the UK in January and February – what does the UK offer a touring band that the US doesn’t? Are the fans noticeably different? More than anything else, the kids there definitely don’t take it for granted that we’re playing shows there. We love feeling that appreciation and we feed off of that – that’s what makes a show great, by feeding off the crowds energy. Every time we go there, it’s amazing.

Four Year Strong already seem to be at the top of their game – what do you hope for ‘In Some Way Shape or Form’ to add to the already impressive legacy? We hope it’s the best, biggest thing we’ve ever done. Obviously that’s the main goal in every musician’s life. More than anything, we’re just happy with what we did and whatever the outcome is, that’s what it is. All we can ask for is that it keeps us afloat until we make another record – that’s what we do. That’s what we want to keep doing.

Interview with Jordan Dreyer

'Their new album Wildlife is incredible, it’s one of those albums that will still be new to the ear in ten to twenty years time, this excites us, and it should excite you as well! La Dispute are surely taking over!' What can you tell us about your latest release "Wildlife"? Hm, well, first thing is figuring out where to start, which is a bit tricky for me. The best way to put it is that the record is set up as a series of stories woven together by notes and annotations from the author who wrote them. As for themes, the broadest theme is just being a twenty-something and having to come to terms with the difficulties inherent in that. Leaving town, losing friends, suffering through loss of any sort, the urgency, etc. It's all there in some way or another, particularly in the stories, and the author's annotations and opinions regarding those themes and stories creates a more linear narrative that more thoroughly discusses the theme of loss and coping.

How did you get to the album title "Wildlife" and what does it mean to you? "Wildlife" stuck with me for a long while, for whatever reason, in the same way that the previous record title did. More than anything I just wanted something to title the stories that made a very general kind of ambiguous statement about life so that people could take their own thing from it. So, I guess it's saying something about what people have to go through, and how cruel and seemingly random it can be at times.

The artwork to this record is really cool, can you tell us who created the work, and maybe what you wanted it to mean to your fans? Our bass player Vass did all the artwork for the record with photography help from one of our best friends Dave Summers. The initial concept started through conversations between myself and Vass regarding the themes and structures I wanted to explore lyrically with this record and he kind of ran with it. In a way, I think it expands perfectly on the record title in that it kind of ties the themes together with that cruel and random almost animalistic natural "world" that the record takes place in, and that's I guess what we want it to be for anyone who buys the record or wants to get into it more: broader context for the record as a whole. We wanted everything about this record to be deliberate, artwork included, and Vass did an incredible job making it happen.

We've read that you guys recorded this album in two different locations, with this in mind can you tell us about the recording process for this album as it sounds pretty intense? It was a little intense at times, in that we had a pretty hectic and busy time frame in which to accomplish everything, but we're very measured people as a whole, and Joey and Andrew who engineered and coproduced the record with us have a really good feel of how we function so that helped immensely. The biggest difficulty was time because we didn't want to disappear from the face of the earth touring-wise to make it happen, so we had to find time to write while at home and then to record as well. Hence Chicago and New York. But we made it work and I think in the end being able to start, pause, and then start again helped out.

We also read you started recording this album in November of 2010, with this in mind, how does it feel to finally have this record out there? It feels incredible, honestly. We put a lot of time and effort into this record and to finally be able to rid ourselves of that is incredibly relieving. And we're immensely proud of it, so being able to put it out there for people to hear is amazing as well.

What goals did you have for the record, and looking back now, would you say these goals have been achieved? I don't think that we set goals for ourselves. More than anything we just wanted to capture this record as best we could for ourselves and there's no doubt in my mind that we did that. We had the concept so early on, and we had all these ideas for instrumentation and feel and arrangement, and we just wanted to make sure that did ourselves and our ideas justice. It was stressful and exhausting, but being able to look back without regret is a really rewarding feeling.

How would you say you have progressed as a band since your first album 'Somewhere At the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair' ? I mean, a lot of time has passed since then. When we wrote "Somewhere‌" we were really taking our first stab at putting a record together, doing our first substantial tours, and really getting a feel for being a band in general. On top of that, we were at a different time in our lives, both as individuals and as musicians, so it reflected that. This time around, there's a whole new set of experiences affecting us, and three years of touring, writing, and recording music, so "Wildlife" is just a wholly different snapshot of our lives.

What can you tell us about your "Here, Hear" EPs? The "Here, Hear" idea started a few years ago with a mini-CDr that came with a 7" we released. We wanted to do something creative and different to supplement the release and the idea was formulated over a few conversations between us. As we talked and started actually working on it, it continued to develop. In the end, it became a way for us to challenge ourselves creatively, but also to again give people a broader context for the rest of the material we were writing at the time if they're interested enough to look into it.

Are you guys working on a new EP, if so how is it coming along, and what should fans expect? Not presently, no. There will be a "Here, Hear “IV" someday, and we've bounced a few ideas around, but nothing even remotely concrete has taken place to this point.

How's your tour going with Thrice so far? Any stories from the road just yet? Tour has been amazing so far. O'Brother, Moving Mountains, Thrice--all three bands are full of both phenomenal musicians and phenomenal people. Every day is another story, but nothing that would be particularly noteworthy to anyone but all of us, I don't think. Just lots of hanging out and enjoying the company of some truly fantastic people.

You recently played the awesome Hevy Fest here in the UK, how was this whole experience? It was fun. We had some friends there, and people treated us very well. The whole T-shirt company commercialism of a festival like that always makes us a little uncomfortable, but the people in attendance make it really easy to block out. Other than some technical difficulties, playing was great, and we got to see some really great bands too. All in all, a pretty good time.

What will 2012 hold for La Dispute? Hard to say, exactly. We have some plans materializing right now, but nothing that I feel comfortable talking about right now. To be vague: A UK/EU trip sometime soon, an Australia trip sometime soon, and a headliner in the US at some point. We'll see.

Interview with Casey Roarty

What can you tell us about your upcoming album? I’d say this album is very diverse, but still sounds like an album from the same band. You will hear the rocky moments that you would expect from us, but we’ve also enjoyed exploring more reflective and vulnerable moods to create a real dynamic within the songs and therefore the album.

What was the recording process like for this album? We recorded with Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies, Feeder) - which was a massive deal for us. The guy’s a legend, so we knew we were in safe hands. He was a LOT of fun to work with, but also pushed us hard. We soon learnt the right time to buckle down and stay focused on the task at hand – making a great record.

What would you say was the biggest challenge for this record and why? The biggest challenge was choosing the 12 songs from a list of almost 60. We all agreed on a few standout tracks, which were definitely going to make the cut but also had our personal favourites. We had to sit down together and chat through these for hours. Some we felt were as strong as many of the tracks on this album but they just didn’t fit, so we have a few up our sleeves for album number 2! We took 18 tracks into the studio with Gil, and through pre-production he helped us whittle it down to 12.

Your first album 'The Holiday' was incredible, and it reached out to a lot of people thanks to Rock Sound, do you feel that this kind of exposure has created any pressure in the writing and recording process for this album? Thank you, much appreciated. Although we are aware that The Holiday went out to so many people it’s not something we ever stopped to think about whilst writing this album, which is definitely a good thing. We’ve written under pressure before and it was useless. We rented a house in the middle of nowhere and took our time on this album – it was great to get away from our usual surroundings and get completely stuck into the writing process.

How would you say this album compares to your first album The Holiday? Because the writing process was so thorough, we feel like these 12 songs are the strongest we’ve ever written. We had more time and more choice.

You guys released Islands in the Sea and Say My Name for free on your facebook fan page/website, with this in mind, why did you choose these songs to release first, and at this point how would you say the reception has been for these two tracks? We chose these two songs because we think they are in a great place sound-wise to pick up from where we left off with The Holiday and lead people to the new album. The songs have been received brilliantly, we’re so lucky to have such supportive fans making us feel confident about the release of this album. Our most daring songs are yet to come though, so we’ll answer the same question again soon!

‘With a new album on the horizon, and a shed load of touring already confirmed for 2012, it looks like Futures are heading for another eventful year. ‘The Holiday’ took the UK by storm, and we expect that this new album will help take the band to the next level....superstardom!’ What song/songs have stood out to you the most of your new album and why? There’s a track ‘Start a Fire’ which we’re all really excited about. This will be the next song people hear from us and some people could be surprised because it’s not really like anything people have heard from us before. Personally, my current favourite is a song called ‘Million Lights’. This song is a massive journey from start to finish and in my opinion the most moving on the album, I think anyone will be able to relate to the words of this song and stop to think for a moment.

So with this tour you guys decided to play a lot of interesting and unique venues, how did you guys go about deciding you wanted to play these kind of venues, and how has this whole process been? It was quite simple really – every tour we have done so far we have played all the major cities, which is great for the people who live in and around these places. However, we are constantly being asked by fans online to come and visit their towns, further afield. We posted online asking people where they’d want us to come and then compiled a list of places based on these requests. It’s going to be awesome to go and play to a lot of these people who will be seeing us for the first time.

In a kind of reference to the last question, you guys went out of your way to hand pick and listen to local supports for each show of the tour, how did this idea come about and how fun has this process been?

We all remember starting out and how important these sort of opportunities were to us, so we wanted to do our bit to support fresh UK music & also got to listen to loads of cool new bands we would have never heard about otherwise. We love discovering new music & made it all the more special being recommended by our fans.

How excited are you for your upcoming tour, and what should attending fans expect? We are very, very, very excited. It’s going to be great to hit places we have never been (or even heard of!) before and also play with bands we have chosen ourselves. We will be playing a good mixture of new and old songs on this tour – because like I said, this could be the first time a lot of people have seen us live since the band started. No one likes to go to a gig to see a band and not hear their favourites so we will be very much playing for the fans on this one.

So what can we expect to see from Futures in 2012? Lots more. This will be a big year for us. There will of course be singles, videos, the album, tours and the highlight – festivals! Not to mention our range of fragrances coming to a pharmacy near you!

Interview with Cmar

Can you tell us a little bit about the formation of Hostage Calm? We formed after a hardcore band some of us were in broke up. We got together to try to do something a little more creative. Tim and I grew up together, playing baseball and American football together since age 5. We met Tom and Nick through going to shows, and we all met John through worshipping his previous bands (With Honor, Ambitions).

For unfamiliar readers, can you describe how your band sounds? We play heartfelt punk with some technicality. Socially conscious, yet personally relatable. Songs for stage dives or listening in your room alone.

How did you get to the band name Hostage Calm? Also what meaning does it have to you? We named ourselves after an unreleased Quicksand song, because we were all big Quicksand fans. To me it just captures the anxiety that powers our band musically and lyrically.

What can you tell us about your Self Titled album? We just tried to write the most musically innovative and challenging record that we could write. It captures the anxiety of entering your early twenties, while mixing in some moments of hope and triumph. In life, there are moments when you're riding high and there are moments when you're wondering if anything you do in life is worthwhile. Our record tries to capture this range of emotion.

What was the recording process like for this record? It took forever, just because we were all in school at the time and wanted to make a really polished and impressive record. As our friend Greg who recorded us always said: "When you record, you're looking for three things. You want it to be great, you want it to be done fast, and you want to do it for cheap. And you can never have more than two of those things." That's the truth. We had no money, so we had to settle for taking a long time with the record. Also, I lived in Guatemala for a few months, which held up the completion of the record, but we ended up getting some great lyrics from that period. We also toured during the record, which further delayed it. But given the amount of auxiliary percussion and layers we put on the album, it was something that we needed to take our time with.

‘They’ve toured with some of the coolest bands in the world (Senses Fail/The Wonder Years) and soon they will be bringing their unique sound back to the UK! Check them out as they tour with the outstanding I Am The Avalanche this December’ So how come you guys wanted to do a self titled album? How did this idea come about? That is such a strangely difficult question to answer. We were just at a moment where we knew "this is the record' and we all just agreed. Maybe it's that we were so pissed off over how stagnant things were in the punk/hardcore scene that we just wanted to make a huge statement, and we thought that by naming it selftitled it made the album even more of a defining moment for our band.

What were the goals and targets for this record, and looking back now, would you say these have been achieved? We just wanted to blow people's minds and challenge them. I think we did that, although that's ultimately up to listeners, not to me.

What was it like to tour with Senses Fail and Make Do & Mend, any cool stories from the road you would like to share with us? It was awesome. We had a great time playing with both bands. The SF shows were very well attended and were at giant venues, while the MDAM shows were much more of a DIY vibe. It was cool to experience both in the same tour. We ended up hanging out with SF a bunch, and they were really nice. We've always known MDAM so we knew that would be fun. I remember us hanging out at some decrepit docks near Lake Erie at 4am talking about the old days in the Connecticut hardcore scene.

Also, how fun was it to play at The Wonder Years record release show? Unreal. It was to this day the biggest crowd we ever played to, and our best reaction in Philly for sure. It was a crazy show. And it was really an honor to be asked to play their release show. TWY killed it. We've all been itching to play with them again and can't wait for these UK shows.

How excited are you for your UK tour with I Am the Avalanche (as well as some shows with The Wonder Years), and what should attending fans expect? We are so pumped. IATA is a band we've all liked for a while. It's really special that we're doing such a longawaited tour. They haven't done UK/Europe in so long. And the Wonder Years are already great friends. Fans should expect some great shows.

How did you find the last time you came to the UK? We had fun and made some good friends. I think it was a good first foray into the UK punk sphere. Plus we just enjoyed seeing the UK, because none of us had ever been.

Do you guys have any new material in progress at the moment, and if so how is it coming along? Yeah, we've been writing for a while. I think we have a great record written. Can't wait to unleash it someday in the not-so-painfully-distant future. We love writing and always want to release stuff. I think we'll finally get our wish pretty soon.

Matt getting carried away... So when did you decide that producing/engineering was something that you really wanted to do with your life? I didn't have a choice really as i wasn't any good at anything else! I was in a band for 10 years and had the best time, and i can play Guitar, Bass and Drums, but when we stopped i was like……what am i gunna do? I already did 'Producing' so to speak on the records we did (for Fastlane), and i did all the demos for the band, and i guess its just something i thought id be good at.

In the early days of your career, was it ever hard to work with a band, if you maybe just did not get along, or see things differently? I mean maybe this would have an effect on the final product? It was hard to work with any bands at all at first. Luckily i knew a lot of decent bands from when i was in a band, so i just got in touch with the 'better' ones, and recorded them for free at first. I didn't really know what i was doing, but i had just enough equipment to make it work, and i had a good ear for stuff, and i'd spend i don't know a week on something that would now take me a few hours to do, just so other people and bands would hear it and want me to do their recordings. Then with every project i did that i charged for, i bought better equipment.

Can you tell us what a typical day involves for you as a producer/engineer? It depends on where i'm working. The the entire bottom floor of my house is a Studio which i work out of most the time, so it usually involves waking up and walking down 2 flights of stairs. As boring as that sounds…

What do you find the most satisfying about your job? Listening to the end product after I've done it all and thinking, yeah that sounds cool, I hope other people like it. Seeing/Hearing stuff i've done on TV and radio, or having stuff chart is still pretty cool…

What was it like to work with Deaf Havana on their latest album 'Fools and Worthless Liars'? Any cool stories from the studio? Shit. They are a bunch of Arseholes and i hate them all. Thats a total lie……yeah it was wicked, there's only a handful of bands I've recorded over the years where I've genuinely become great friends with every single member in the band and we hang out out-side of 'work' so to speak, and Deaf Havana are one of them. I love James, Oggy, Wil's and Pencils to bits and James is so fucking talented its ridiculous. He's almost as talented as me. Hahaha! so yeah, just loved it. I managed to sneak a cheeky guest backing-vocal appearance from me in one of the tracks too..…points if anyone can spot it!

How did you end up working with You Me At Six, and how were they to work with in the studio? I used to talk to Max on Msn back in the day like 6 years ago, and as the band I was in were stopping, his band were just starting, and we knew who each others bands were as both our bands from the same local scene. Anyway, they did a bunch of demos at a certain studio, and were looking to go somewhere else. I got a call from their manager at the time asking me to demo what would become 'Take Off Your Colours', but at the time I'd just moved into the house I'm in now and my studio wasn't ready. Fortunately I'd started working a lot of sessions at another studio which my good friend John Mitchell owns in Reading, so I suggested we try a single out there, which became 'If I Were In Your Shoes', and we've done stuff together ever since. How are they in the studio?, again like DH, Im great mates with every single member in that band, I love them all to bits, I love their music, and luckily they kind of 'let me in' to be part of the team so to speak, as far as producing and ideas go. We all respect each others opinions enormously and its basically best idea wins, whoever's it is, be it in Drums, Bass, Guitar or Vocals.

How happy are you with the success they are currently having with their new album Sinners Never Sleep? I mean is it maybe rewarding to see a band that you've helped so much, go so far? Very happy. Im annoyed they didn't get to number One (and i never thought I'd be saying that), but they had the number one in the midweeks for 5 days which was amazing so you can't not be happy with that. That record was literally the most stressful, drawn out process of any record I've ever been involved with. We did pre-pro on 4 songs way back last year, one of which being 'Loverboy', then I went to Hollywood for a month to record the vocals as me and Josh work so well together, and we've done vocals with just me and him for as long as I can remember. ..…We (The band and I) didn't get on too well with certain people involved on that record. To the point that Josh and I wanted to come back home to my place to do the vocals (Which I still wish we had but thats another story). Basically we were't allowed to. Major Labels. We did 6 songs together the way we do things back home, and not only from my own admission, but from Josh's, they turned out to be the strongest vocal performances on the record. The others are great but a big part of me wishes we could have done them differently. Anyway, when we were out there about to go home, and we got the final mixes through from a well respected and acclaimed Mixer, and they just didn't sound good at all. When we got home, I almost wanted to ignore them and just think 'it'll be ok don't worry and ignore it' but you can't with something you care about so much. Dan (Flint - Drummer) came to my house for a beer and had bought 6 new 'mixes' with him. I didn't say anything until I'd heard them all. When the last song finished I said basically, this is a fucking joke, if you release that the way it is, your band, and the band that I've worked with for years is going to literally flop. He agreed but said it was out of the bands hands. I sent Josh a message saying a similar thing, and the next night he called me saying basically, he'd told the label that they wanted me to mix the record, and he was laughed at, and it was never going to happen. Josh being Josh, put his foot down, and luckily we'd managed to get the sessions files for 'Jaws On The Floor' and 'Loverboy' from America. He called me late one night saying, 'I don't know what you have to do to do it, but you have to salvage this record, and this has to be the best fucking thing you've ever done, or It's going to make you look like a cunt, and me look like a cunt'. No Pressure!. So to cut an even longer story short in my dingy basement in Woking, Me and my good friend John Mitchell ended up mixing the whole record at my place in just over a week. And now i fucking love it. We ended up using half of the 'Demo' vocals from 'Loverboy' on the final album and single version, and all of the vocals from 'Little Death' were 'Demo' vocals done at my house too by the way...

In your career, what project has been the most rewarding for you, and why? I have no idea. I don't really like recording bands that are already established, its way more rewarding to work with a band that are just starting out and watching them grow, hopefully some of it due to some of the things I've offered.

“Just recently the fantastic Not Advised headed to LA to start work on their brand new album with the legend that is John Feldmann....we were lucky enough to get a five day blog from the band to find out all about this adventure. This blog involves the band hanging out with Benji Madden, meeting Ashlee Simpson and having a music session at Tommy Lee’s house!? Seriously....this is not to be missed!”

The day which is essentially the start of “the dream” started at 5:15am with mixed feelings of both excitement and tiredness Luckily excitement won the battle and I didnt find it difficult to get up and pack my final few things. Soon enough Andy, Jim and Greg arrive at my house and shortly after our taxi arrives. Here lies the first mare of the dayAsh isn’t here. Still he must just be running a little bit late we thought so we packed our bags into the taxi and waited. After waiting for a few minutes we think it’s best to give Ash a call just to check all is good. It is evident that he’s still asleep as he answers the phone “oh no!” BRILLIANT MATE probably the most important day of our “career” so far and you’ve overslept! We decide it’s quicker to head to Ash’s place on route and luckily by the time we arrive he’s ready. We give him a suitable amount of abuse and all is well. We arrive at Heathrow and check in, we manage to get seats together on the plane and the next few hours is spent eating the worlds most expensive fried breakfast and discussing which songs will be recorded in this session. (because of everyone’s schedule we’re recording the first part of the album this time and the rest at a later date). We board the plane and as I’m walking down the aisle to find our seats a face I’m sure I’m familiar with catches my eye. After a second glance I realise I’m staring at Patrick Stump! I turn to Jimbers who’s behind me and he confirms it is indeed the worlds greatest pop punk singer. Being quite the Fall Out Boy fan the idea of sitting a few rows behind Patrick Stump releases the real fan boy inside of me! After all the last time I met Patrick was outside a tiny venue in Portsmouth after waiting outside their tour bus till 3am! As far as the flight goes I was perfectly equipped with enough episodes of The Wire to keep me occupied for the 11 hours. The problem was that we didn’t want to arrive in LA shattered so we decided to sleep as much as possible on the plane, which for me didn’t exactly go to plan. I spent the whole 11 hours trying to get to sleep and NOTHING seemed to work. This was all made 100x more annoying by the fact that Andy and Greg (who I was sat next to) seemed to drop off to sleep every 5 minutes! The only other thing worth mentioning from the journey was this quite incredible statement made about Greg Day by a flight attendant. “the world is a difficult enough place without people like you around!” Once we land we nervously clear customs (police with guns make us feel uneasy) and meet Jeremy who works for John and is here to pick us up. As if we weren’t excited enough to finally be here in America Jeremy tells us that we’ll be recording drums AT TOMMY LEE’S HOUSE!! We (and in particular Andy) are amazed / excited / shocked by this. We are literally starting to live out a dream! We drive for about an hour and it strikes me how big a place LA is, it just goes on and on for what seems like forever. Jeremy serves as our tour guide and answers all of our silly “is this like this in the USA” questions! The next “wow” moments are linked closely together within about 5 minutes. We arrive at Johns house and it’s like something out of cribs. Huge gates, separate studio building, heated pool, jacuzzi, palm trees etc this house is incredible! Then as we walk into Johns living room there’s someone slightly familiar sat on his sofa… ASHLEE SIMPSON! This is quite simply almost too much for advised! We’re introduced and then nervously stand there and try not to stare! Once Ashlee has left we meet Johns wife and children. He then asks if we’d like to start work straight away and we’re not in the mood to refuse! We sit in Johns living room and play through most of our demos on acoustic guitars and talk about each song. We pick which couple we’re going to work on first and set to work analysing every bar, lyric and beat to make these songs as good as they possibly can be. It’s a great experience and John is a complete genius to be honest. After 5 hours or so of work the jet lag is catching up and we’re all struggling to stay awake and it’s only 6 o’clock local time! We grab some food from a local grill, gawp at the massive portions and fill ourselves up. Then John drops us at our hotel which brings us up to date, we fall asleep with no problem after one of if not the best day of being Not Advised.

When I went to sleep on Wedesday night I was worried I wouldn’t wake up in time for our early start (6am to start “work”). After all by this point I had been awake for over 2 days so I was fairly surprised when at 2am US time I felt wide awake in bed! I forced myself back to sleep and then awoke again at 5:30. I was definitely Jet Lagged! After laying in silence pissed off that I was the only one awake for about 30 mins I decided to whisper to Andy to see if he was awake by any chance. Everyone in the room responded that they were and had been for ages but thought everyone else was asleep. We had a good old chuckle to this (it’s the little things). Once up and day bags packed we headed out to the front of our hotel. The sun was shining and it definitely felt like we were in LA. We grabbed some American snacks which you can’t in the UK (I went for mountain dew and cheetos) and took a few snaps. John then arrived to pick us up. We were all excited to get on with a full days work together. The first couple of hours of the day were spent at Johns working on a song with the working title “time”. To be honest I wasn’t sure of this song before we got here but we re-arrange and change bits and within about an hour or so we’re all really feeling it. We take a walk mid morning and grab some lunch and some American sweets (Jolly Ranchers are the dream). It’s around midday when a 4x4 pulls into the drive and to our amazement Benji Madden of Good charlotte strolls out! We’re introduced and decide to grab a coffee. We head to Starbucks and chat to Benji about the band and where we want to be. It’s always great when you meet someone from a band who you looked up to when you were younger and they’re really nice and down to earth and Benji is exactly this. We sit in the sun and Benji tells us all whats been going on with him and Good Charlotte lately. This is not the first time on this trip that I have to remind myself that this is actually happening! We decide it would be cool to jam together and so head back to Johns and work on a song with Benji Madden!! I can’t actually believe I just typed that! It was one of those experiences that I don’t think will quite sink in until I’m home but it was definitely a good one. Later that afternoon Benji leaves and we move on to another song. By the end of the afternoon we’ve got 6 songs almost ready for recording, just a couple of middle 8’s and lyrics to tweak. We head back to John’s and work for a few more hours on some lyrics and then call it a night when we literally can’t keep our eyes open any more. At this point John tells us that a friend has lent us a car to use. We’re rather surprised that we’re being lent a Volvo s40 with blacked out windows but the way these days are going we’re just going with the flow. We nominate Ash to drive the car and all worry about the left hand drive. As we’re pulling out of his drive John’s last words are “don’t crash this car, it’s not insured” CHEERS MAN! This does not fill us with confidence! We’re still not sure what the laws out here are about us driving an un insured car but we tip toe back to our hotel and short of a nightmare trying to operate a US fuel pump we arrive back at the hotel mare free.

For the third day in a row we all wake up super early, I’m shocked how long it takes your body to get used to the time difference. We decide to make the most of the free time and after some google-mapping we head to a nearby “International House of Pancakes”. We drive to Johns and get right back to work on the songs. Today is our last day writing / pre production before we start tracking drums. John is out taking the kids to school so we crack straight on with it. Things go well and in the hour before Mr Feldmann gets back we finish up a second verse and two middle eights. At this stage since we have been in the US we have 7 completed demos ready for pre pro. Now comes the tough task of picking which few we’re going to record in these sessions. We spend an hour or two discussing and eventually choose which ones we think we should start with. Its not an easy thing choosing which songs are best, especially when we’ve worked so hard on all of them for the past year but we want to make the best album we possibly can and this is an important part of the process. Up until now we’ve been working on acoustic guitars in John’s living room. John’s new studio is being built at the moment so we’re using a few places to work on these songs. Today we’re heading out to Martin Johnson’s house where John and his engineer Brandon have a studio rig set up. Martin sings and plays guitar in Boys Like Girls and also cowrites with lots of bands and song-writers. He’s away in Nashville at the moment but has been kind enough to let us use his place for recording. We drive towards Beverly Hills anid take in some amazing views. Martins house is another cribs esq pad on top of a hill with an incredible view of LA. We head in and meet Brandon and start work on drum parts. We’ve already discussed ideas with John and start programming the beats so that when we go to the studio Andy has an idea of what to play, it also gives us an idea of how things will sound. It turns out Brandon is a Pro Tools master, I’ve never seen anyone faster than him and he writes drums parts like he’s casually typing out a letter! We’re trying lots of ideas and sounds that we’ve never used before on these songs which we’re really excited about. I can’t wait to show people these songs which we’ve been working on for so long. We make a quick stop off to grab some American sweets and head back to Martin’s place. The view here as the sun goes down is amazing and we’re reminded again how lucky we are to be here. We work really late on drum parts and lay down guide guitar and vocals for tomorrow’s session. It’s so good to start to hear the songs coming together. We head back to the motel and whilst Andy stays up longer to listen to his new drums parts so he’s prepared for tomorrow the rest of us fall straight to sleep.

We wake up in our Motel on the hottest day of our trip so far. I’m not sure what exact temperature it was but it’s safe to safe it was more than we are used to back in England! Everyone is hungry and we set off in search of food. We stop at a little known American joint known as “Mcdonalds”. Most of us go for Ronald’s version of the pancakes + fry up combo and to be honest it’s pretty disgusting. We leave quickly all feeling like we’re rotting inside! Not the best start to a day but things are about to get better. Today we’re off to Tommy Lee’s house to record drums, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written (in a good way). I’ll start by saying that you have to be on a guest list to even get into the community where Tommy lives. We drive up to the guard post and give our names and we’re let through. We then witness probably the nicest houses we’ll ever see. We arrive at Tommy’s address (which looks like the kind of house a James Bond villain would live in and nervously ring the bell. We’re let in by his friendly house staff and walk into a house which my feable words will never be able to do justice. None the less I shall try my best to paint a picture for your reading pleasure. You enter the house on what I think is the second of four floors. The centre piece to the whole house is what could be described as a small rainforest with tall tropical trees from the bottom floor to the roof. Each floor has an open square balcony surrounding the trees. The roof itself can be opened via a button so that you can let sunlight in for the plants. Outside is the pool, which is huge and has an accompanying jacuzzi and huge barbecue. The view from up here is probably the best I’ve ever seen, you can literally see the whole of Los Angeles and the mountains and there’s some giant sun beds and a few double beds dotted around the pool area. Downstairs and there’s a hallway filled with Motley Crue platinum and gold disks. Once through the hallway and past the shower with a wet room you reach the bar area which looks onto the cinema area filled with leather recliner chairs. Next to the cinema and bar area is the “rainforest” I mentioned earlier. Of course there’s also an indoor pond filled with coy carp too. All of this is the entrance way to one of the nicest recording studios I’ve ever seen. Above two huge wooden frame glass doors hangs a huge Motley Crüe gong! Inside is a huge analog desk, rack after rack unit of pre amps and two huge monitors. Through a multicoloured disco lit hallway you reach the live room, again its huge and leads onto an amp room the size of most UK studios. The “garage” is actually a full gym with a basketball hoop, pinball machine and a drum cupboard with maybe 10 full DW drum kits! It’s safe to say this is the most amazing house any of us have ever seen!

Today is all about drums and Andy and John get to work on parts. Id say these are some of the most complex and niche drum beats we’ve ever used and for the first time we’re also bringing electronic loops into our songs. It’s all very exciting stuff. Our manager requests we take a couple of photos of us and John for a feature in a UK magazine so we take a couple of shots in front of the huge mixing desk. John has brought his dog along to the studio today which keeps me amused for hours. Kuma (the dog) is an amazing black collie, german shepherd cross who is obidient, playful and doesn’t bark or smell. She is close to being the perfect dog. I’m a massive apple geek and after months of waiting for the new iPhone I can finally order one today. This is a nice treat to arrive home to as I’m expecting some serious post LA blues! The man on the other end of the phone at Orange HQ asks where in the world I am and it takes me a while to convince him i’m in Tommy Lee’s back garden! We finish drums early in the evening but Smiley (the studio’s in house engineer) says we’re more than welcome to stay into the night and track some guitars. We of course accept and me and Ash lay down guitars to a track. We order in pizza for dinner and eat in the dining room which is actually more like a gothic banquet hall! We finish up at about 11 and head back to the hotel. Laying in bed I wonder if it will ever sink in that we just spent a day recording at Tommy Lee’s house.

We wake up and for the first time on our little trip have the luxury of a lie in. Unfortunately for me my body still wont let me sleep but its nice to chill in bed for a while. Those of us who have been to America before all agree that the Sizzler restaurants are great and decide we want to head to one for breakfast. After some googling we find one in central Hollywood and decide to make the trip. We arrive and it’s 30 minutes till it’s open so we decide to take a walk around. It’s baking hot and it turns out we walk away from all the famous sites and end up on a street with literally nothing of interest on! Still it passes time and once we arrive back at the restaurant it’s open and we head in and order food. We’re served by the most enthusiastic waitress on Earth which gives us all a good laugh as she constantly arrives at the table to make sure everything is ok! The food is good and it’s nice to eat something other than fast food. After eating we head to Martins house to track guitars. We drive the opposite way to the walk earlier and drive down Hollywood Blvd which is awesome, we see the walk of fame and the Hollywood sign amongst other landmarks before reaching a fork in the road. Looking at the map it makes sense to head back to the freeway to Martins but there is also the option of the “canyon road”. We’re feeling adventurous and after a few minutes of chanting “CANYON CANYON” we drive into the hills. The views are spectacular, it’s one of those mountain roads which you see James Bond racing down or Jeremy Clarkson road testing a porsche on. We arrive at Martins and start to work on guitars with Brandon. We work fast and the songs start coming together quickly. The highlight of the afternoon for me is when we’re looking for an eerie sound for a verse and I end up playing guitar with a violin bow through a delay unit, it sounds awesome! We finish all of Ash’s parts and all but one song of mine before it’s time to go out. Feldy has arranged for us to go on the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride! Obviously back home in England Halloween isn’t a big deal at all, out here it’s a different story, Halloween is a HUGE deal! John tells us that these horror mazes are common but that this one is particularly good because it’s near Hollywood. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about this as I’m a fairly jumpy person but none the less am excited for the experience. I’m also excited as our friends from Florida, Versa Emerge are in LA writing and we’ve arranged to meet them at the hayride. We arrive on the site and instantly I realise that this is a big deal, there’s a full press area with local reporters talking to cameras and we spot a few “celebrities” (some girl from 90210, and the cast of Glee). Once we’ve got our tickets we meet the Versa guys and get in line for the hayride. There are various actors in full costume (axe through the head, dead baby hanging out of the womb etc) scaring people in the line. There’s also a really impressive witch running around on massive stilts and leaping out from behind trees in front of people. After a short wait it’s our turn on the hayride. About 25 of us sit on hay bails on a trailer on the back of a tractor all facing inwards. You’re then towed through various themed areas where actors scare you. Highlights include a Santa Claus running towards you with a chainsaw, a giant scarecrow / pumpkin man and a grand finale in a circus tent where it turns pitch black before crowds of clowns attack the trailer under strobe lighting. It’s both impressive and a little scary and definitely worth the $25 ticket price and we’re all made to jump more than a few times. We still have one song to track my guitar for and three for bass so we head back to Martins and continue working. We write some awesome bass lines and work long into the night but come 3am everyone is losing the battle to stay awake and we admit defeat and head back to the hotel.

Blink 182 - Neighbourhoods Eight years on, three Angels and Airwaves albums, one +44 record and one postponed UK tour, Blink-182 have returned with 'Neighborhoods,' a comeback record that is equally met with cynicism and excitement as the pop-punk legends pick up where they left off. For fans wanting an up to date 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket,' or 'Dude Ranch,' will probably be disappointed with 'Neighborhoods,' as Tom, Mark and Travis have more or less abandoned the genre they're known for, and instead have produced a mature yet enjoyable rock record. On first listen tracks like 'Ghost On The Dancefloor' and 'Snake Charmer' sound all too much like Tom Delonge's Angels and Airwaves, as there is a heavy use of synth keyboards. Nevertheless Travis Barker's distinctive drumming makes the difference throughout. From the thriving highlight that is 'Natives' to frantic and fast-paced 'Heart's All Gone,' Barker plays his role well and brings it all together. Whilst tracks like 'After Midnight' and 'Wishing Well' manage to show a band that are still willing to have fun, and perhaps more importantly, show they can still write catchy hooks that shamelessly win you over. For example 'Wishing Well' has a playful “La da da da da� hook that will easily get stuck in your head, and 'This Is Home' is a laid back yet upbeat closer. As a whole, 'Neighborhoods' doesn't quite flow seamlessly but isn't overall disjointed. On first impressions, it's not what you want from a Blink-182 record, but it is certainly a record that grows and you come to understand that this band have grown both musically and as a band. For a comeback record, it's better then expected but it is evident that Blink-182 v2.0 is still a work in progress, and 'Neighborhoods' is merely a step in the right direction for a band who finding their feet again. 4/5 SR

Man Overboard - Man Overboard Producing a worthy follow up to the brilliant 'Real Talk' was always going to be a difficult task for Man Overboard, but on this self-titled effort the New Jersey five-piece its clear that the band have found a winning formula that they're willing to stick with. If you want straight-up Pop-Punk, than Man Overboard will give you just that. From the opening moments of 'Rare,' fast-paced songs about relationships is the blueprint that sets the tone for the rest of the record. While for some it may not sound to appealing, but fans of the band and genre will surely eat this up, as tracks like 'Voted Most Likely' and 'Dead End Dreams' are brilliant cases of well-structured, energetic Pop-Punk. Whilst there is little change musically, at times the bands sound is thicker and is comparable to New Found Glory. For example 'Somethings Weird' is a fiery blast of pop-punk with driving guitars and suitable harmonies. However you can't help at times feel that the record lacks substance. Tracks like 'Punishment' and 'Headstone' come and go without little to no effect. Though they are structured and have the same energy and passion the band consistently put in, you just get the impression that they act as filler and purely there to keep up the tempo. Whilst 'Man Overboard' isn't quite 'Real Talk' part two, they have still managed to produce a favourable record that has longevity; if it's given a chance. Though musically and lyrically they haven't made any huge strides forward, their style and sound is easily approachable and easy to relate to, which helps the record move along from start to finish. For a Pop-Punk record, 'Man Overboard' serves its purpose brilliantly well; fast-paced throughout with bold and bright choruses that quickly win you over and harmonies to match, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn't attempt to alienate the listener, thus making a thorough album of thriving, feel-good collection PopPunk songs. 4/5 SR

Can you tell us when and how you first got into design/art? Many forms of art/design have surrounded inside my family home from an early age and still do. My mother used to place me,my brother and sister at the kitchen table. She would give us felt pens and crayons and let us draw away while she ran her business around the house. I beleive that is where it started, but I became more interested in the subject as I progressed into high school and started to pay more attention to things around me that usually became good subjects for my work.

What would you say has been your most challenging project (art/design) since you first started out, and why? Every project is a challenge to some degree. The challenging and most time consuming process is piecing it all together before starting a piece. I will choose a theme and start planning it all in my notepad. I will consider scales, shapes,contrast and value. If I use my own photographic reference I will like to mold it with other ideas for a surreal outcome that results with a visual metaphor for the particular theme.

Can you tell us a bit about any projects your working on at the moment, and what they mean to you as a designer (drawing wise/questions about tattoos come later!)? Nothing on the tattoo front just yet, but I am about to start a piece that has something do with letting yourself go and questioning existence.Thats enough spillage for now.

When your drawing, where do your ideas normally come from? I mean is there any things or events or just topics that have really influenced you? My ideas come from a range of things i see, hear or feel.I will read a magazine and see an image that stands out to me and i might use it in my own personal way or combine it with something I have found and picked up whilst walking. I have a bag of dead leaves in my room right now that in the next few days will be put to use. I am really fond of rough and strong textures such as rust or bark that provide good reference.

You are also an upcoming tattooist, so with this in mind how hard or easy would you say it is to get involved with this world? Tattoing is just another creative medium. A lot of brilliant tattooists have taught themselves, but that is not to say having an apprenticeship is the wrong way to go. As long as you have a strong portfolio with a variety of styles and techniques you should not find it hard to get your way into a studio. You just have to be persistent.

When your doing a tattoo, whats it like working with a client, do they tell you exactly what they want, or can it sometimes be a basic idea thrown at you which you have to elaborate and expand on? Clients are usually quite interesting. Talking breaks the awkwardness and getting to know them a little. I will usually say what will work and What will not, and then forward there idea to something i think will work better. Nine times out of ten they like the ideas i have pitched.

What tattoo would you maybe say your the most proud of since you started, and why? I am not proud of anything I have done yet. Maybe i am a perfectionist, but until I am at a level where I feel good about the result everything is pushing me to strive to a high point where i will be happy with my work.

In this day and age, there are are so many graphic designers/artists/tattooists out there! With this in mind can you tell us what makes you stand out above the rest, why should people check out your work? Well for a start there are many amazingly talented artists out there that I have seen. All different that stand out in there own way. We all have different styles and ways of working and I feel that my work stands out not because it is better or 'above the rest', but different and unique. There are many pencil realists out there, but because my work has a more surreal approach it might be looked upon more closely. Who knows...

When did you decide that drawing/graphic design is something that you really wanted to do with your life? I knew from the age of about 14 that I wanted to do something in art as it’s the only thing I really enjoyed in school. I trained as a graphic designer and got a job designing holiday brochures which wasn’t very fun so at the age of 24 I started really pushing my illustration and now it’s a all I do and I love it. When and how did you start up King Noir? I was working in an art shop in London and drawing in the evening, then on the way to work one day my bike frame snapped going over a pot-hole at some speed. This made me late for work so they fired me. It was then when I decided to start King Noir. I had always wanted to put out some t-shirts, although I wanted to do it properly. How did you get to the name King Noir, and what do you want it to mean to fans of your company? I actually came up with the logo first I had seen a crown tattooed on this gnarly dudes hand so I sketched up a few versions and it only made sense to put in an eye as I guess it’s my trademark. Then it was just a matter of coming up with a name that worked with the logo. I guess it simply reflects the style of the artwork and where the company is based. Most of the artwork is black and I’m based in London, thus King Noir. How hard or easy is it to maintain your own independent clothing company? I would say that the preparation before even launching is the most important part. If you work hard at first the company will not quite run itself but it will make things go forward smoothly. Although it’s a lot more work than many think. So, how do you come up with a design to put on a t-shirt, and how long does this kind of process normally take? I’m coming up with ideas all the time, so I sketch them all down in a black book. Then when putting out a new shirt I can look through all the concepts and decide on which one will work. Then I simply draw up the final version and send it to print.

As a designer, what project has been the most rewarding for you, and why? Probably working with Parkway Drive. I got to work with the band and not through any management. It also meant I got a lot of exposure and into some pretty amazing shows. Thanks Winston! We've also seen on your facebook page that you've done a new design called 'Death Eagle' it looks really cool, can you tell us a bit about how this idea came together? The design is based on a phrase that I had seen written on the bass drum of the Mars Volta’s drummer kit. It said “Liberte ou la mort” which means freedom is dead. The eagle in America is the sign of freedom, so I guess the having a black eagles head says freedom is dead. What was it like to do a design for Iron Fist clothing? I mean how did this collaboration come together? They got in touch after seeing my work online and I’ve established a solid relationship with them now. In fact I’ve designed roughly 14 shirts for them and a pair of boxer shorts! They are super cool guys to work with and give me a lot of creative freedom.

“I would say that the preparation before even launching is the most important part.” You've also just started a new project Black Line Collective, can you tell us a little bit about how this project came together and what the aim is behind the project? It’s a concept I came up with a few months back, it’s still in it’s early stages although in the new year we plan to put on a few exhibitions of black and white artwork. The reason I wanted everything black and white is simply because it’s the winning formula, everything works in black and white.

Since you started out as a designer, what has been your most challenging project and why? They are all a challenge in some way as I’m always trying to make any design I do better than the last one.

1What does 2012 hold for you? Is there any upcoming projects you would like to share with us? New projects for 2012 include Wood & Cloud, which is a publishing company I’m developing with long time friend and singer of tech metal masters the Arusha Accord Paul Green. We will be releasing limited edition art prints that will be closely linked with bands album artwork. I’m also going to be releasing a book. That will include roughly 115 new pieces of unseen art by yours truly.

Enter Shikari, October 18th, Bristol Academy Pretty much every alternative magazine and media outlet in the UK have been hyping this band up at the moment, it can of course only be Letlive. who open the show up tonight. So with all this hype expectations were extremely high, there was an extremely big turn out for these guys and considering they were first on, this can only mean that these guys are ones to watch for in 2012. With the lead singer jumping into the mosh pit at every chance, climbing around the venue, and generally just creating a crazy but fun environment to be in Letlive. were really proving that they were worthy to support Enter Shikari and with a sound similar to the legendary Glassjaw there really isn’t anything not to like here. Our highlight from the set had to be Renegade 86’ which made the crowd go mental! If you have not heard this song before, we strongly advise you go and check it out now! Your Demise were next, and with Letlive. creating such a high bracket to beat Your Demise were ready to give an outstanding show, and they did not let us down, from tunes like MMX, Shine On, The Kids We Used To Be Your Demise were proving to the crowd just how talented they were through each song. The lead singer did a great job at encouraging the crowd to move closer and to just generally get involved with the mosh pit. So in short, I would say Enter Shikari had two perfect opening bands who managed to really get the crowd heated up for what was coming.

Before the show started the audience also got given booklets that featured interviews from the bands playing the show. This was a really great idea, and something I had not seen before at an alternative show. Enter Shikari put everything into being a band, I mean lets not forget they pretty much run all of their tours and send out all of their music to fans themselves, that is really cool. So Enter Shikari hit the stage and the crowd go absolutely mental. Their first track Destabilise had everyone singing and jumping from the front to back whilst singing throughout the whole track. This atmosphere remained for the whole set throughout killer tracks such as Return To Energiser, No Sleep Tonight, Juggernauts. The new songs seemed to be just as well known as the older tracks, which really showed us that Enter Shikari are on fire right now as every track gets a epic crowd response. Their new album is out in January and to be honest, with shows like this, it looks like arenas are next for these guys! If you have a chance, go and check this guys out next year, as they will blow you away! AD

The Revival Tour, October 16th, Cardiff Solus The show kicks of tonight with all four solo musicians playing four tracks together. First, a Dave Hause track, then a Chuck Ragan track, then a Dan Andriano track, and finally a Brian Fallon track. I think this point was to instantly prove that The Revival Tour is something you have not seen before, and I couldn’t agree anymore wit h that (in a very good way of course!). First up we have Dave Hause (The Loved Ones) although many of the audience have never heard of this guy before he still manages to some how make it feel like this was his gig, he looked and seemed so comfortable on stage, and things instantly turn epic as Chuck Ragan decides to come out and sing on a track with Dave Hause. This is the thing I must really stress about The Revival Tour, it felt like anything could happen, there was no 100% planned set list, different band members would come out and collaborate on each others track, and that was really exciting and different to see at a gig. So with tracks like Come on kid, and an awesome stage attitude, it looks like further great times are around the corner for Dave Hause. Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music) takes to the stage next, and he sure did an outstanding job with his set. From killer tunes like Nomad of Fate, For Broken Ears and Valentine, he instantly proves that he has what it takes to be a solo musician. At one point Chuck even asked a member of the crowd to come up on stage and sing with him on a song. This is always really great to see at a gig, and references to what I stressing earlier about anything happening at The Revival Tour! Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio) is next, and again we see another outstanding performance. He treats us with tracks like Hurricane Season and It’s Gonna Rain All Day of his album ‘Hurricane Season’ whilst adding in the occasional Alkaline Trio old school track, to give his set a perfect balance. Just incase us UK folk hadn’t heard his solo music just yet, the idea of adding Alkaline Trio acoustic tracks worked perfectly. Dan Andriano seemed so excited to be on stage, I never really imagined him as a solo musician but tonight he proved to me and everyone there, that he has what it takes, and I for one am excited to hear what he does next.

Finally, Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) comes on, and he makes for a perfect end to the show, we see Chuck Ragan, Dave Hause and Dan Andriano all joining Fallon for a version of American Slang, which was in short, absolutely incredible! As well as this, Brian invited his guitar tech Ian Perkins on stage to play through some Horrible Crowes tracks, I Think I Witnessed A Crime was a highlight for me as it just seemed like such a perfect track for this time of year. So all in all The Revival Tour was epic, something that I’d never really seen before at an acoustic gig, but something I would really love to see again, bring on the next Revival Tour I say. AD

Manchester Orchestra / The Xcerts Bristol 02 Academy 2/10/11 Let’s start with the basics. Manchester Orchestra are a fantastic band. For anybody that has heard them they will know how good they are. Saying that, Manchester Orchestra will probably never get any bigger than they currently are right now. This is through no fault of their own but sometimes a band will reach a stage when it appears they will always be loved by their existing fan base and will never hit that higher plateau. Maybe its due to the fact that they will mix an album up with softly whispered acoustic tracks and immediately follow it with a song that will almost brake your speakers. Or maybe it’s because the bands lead singer Andy Hill is the spitting image of Zach Galifianakis. Arriving at the O2 academy (my favourite venue as it happens) shortly after doors open, you notice the lack of people queuing up outside. When entering the venue there are only about 200 people in the entire venue (this was meant to be an upgrade right?) So when The Xcerts enter the stage they set to play to a hand full of people in what now looks like a huge arena due to all the space. However five minutes into their blistering set you feel sorry for everyone who is going to turn up late and miss the young Scottish band tear the stage apart. Like their fellow country men Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic, It is impossible to look away from their front man (Murray Macleod) as he moves around the stage with confidence and determination of a veteran. As the venue starts to fill midway through their set the clapping and cheering progressively gets louder and louder until the last song. It will be very interesting to see where the young band goes next because like their American Headliners they already seem to have a cultish following. For tonight though it is job well done.

s By the time Manchester Orchestra come on the place is now crammed full. As they walk out the crowd are extremely receptive and you can tell straight away that everyone in the crowds’ favourite band is M.O. As soon as the first chords to “Deer” start, everybody falls into silence and remain in awe for the entire set. Most people who are unfamiliar with M.O would probably consider them an acoustic band which will leave them blown away by the energy keyboardest/2nd drummer (Yes they have two drummers in this band!) Chris Freeman, who doesn’t stay still for even half a second. The show was looking to turn into something really monumental until tragedy struck and the dreaded curse of guitar leads breaking, amps stop working, broken strings, actually if it could go wrong then it did. Despite all of these problems the band delivered a crunching version of “Shake It Out”, produced a mass sing-along for “I’ve got Friends” and reduced some members of the crowd to tears with their heartfelt version of “Colly Strings”. Even through all of the technical difficulties, the band played a perfect set of old songs and new and the crowd love every single second of it. During the first song Andy sung the words “Dear Everybody That Has Paid to See My Band, it's still confusing, we'll never understand[Soft Break]I acted like an asshole so my albums would never burn”. Never have truer words been spoken. BS

Bombay Bicycle Club, October 16th, Cardiff Great Hall Starting the night of we had Theme Park, these guys were great, in a world overcrowded with indie copy cat bands, these guys were something different. They sort of reminded me of bloc party combined with stone roses topped with a bit of friendly fires? Hopefully that description will paint a good picture in your mind as to what they sound like...Next up we had Dry The River these guys were also great, and a perfect support slot choice for Bombay Bicycle Club. These guys really gave all of their energy into their performance and well, what more can you ask for? Bombay Bicycle Club have come so far in such a short time. I mean since they have been together they’ve already supported The Pixies! Pretty cool right? So tonight the band are in the middle of one of their biggest headline tours to date. With their new album just recently released it was clear that a majority of the fans were there to hear the golden oldies! However, when they open with their new single ‘Shuffle’ it was great to see everyone sing a long, instantly proving that the new album has gone down a treat. The band keep talk to a low, and keep the hits coming. From Always Like This, Dust on the Ground, Ivy & Gold the band were showing fans what they were truly made of. With a UK tour already announced for next year this only proves that Bombay Bicycle Club are only going to get much bigger in a very short space of time, and from their live show tonight, I expect to see these guys headlining arenas shortly. AD

We begin our rollercoaster ride as the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne has been abducted by Hugo Strange and thrown into Arkham City a super prison made up of a walled up section of old Gotham, of course it doesn’t take long for us to find our cape and spandex and start beating the crap out of many an unskilled opponent. This ‘super prison’ controlled by Strange is divided up by different gangs, lead by a few familiar faces; Joker, Penguin and Two Face are certainly the main forces. However expect to see many recognisable characters such as Mr Freeze, Bane, Poison Ivy and many more. With the exception of Joker and Penguin I felt that many of the other characters were underused, and I hate to say wasted. Fans of Bane for example will jump for joy when they see his bulky frame waiting in a building, this joy however will be short lived as he only plays a very small part. I couldn’t help but feel ‘if you’re not going to use them much… why use them at all?’ the hours saved could’ve been spent better elsewhere like expanding the painfully short Catwomen bonus story. Anyone who played the first game may be right to think that the Joker being back is slightly odd, the thought ‘didn’t I punch his face off with Semtex’ did cross my mind… never the less Joker makes his glorious return. However after his unfortunate dose of the Titan Strain at the end of Arkham Asylum he is looking worse for wear and is… at least he claims, dieing… That is not to say he is any less dangerous, insane or indeed funny. Regardless of Hugo Strange bringing us to Arkham City, Joker inevitably ends up being the main problem. With near endless source material it is clear that Rocksteady have felt like a kid in a candy store, not just wanting sweets… but which sweets to have! The array of characters do play their part in creating a memorable, varied and truly enjoyable story (in varying degrees). So much so that I will not ruin any of it! all I will say is that it has one of the best endings I have seen in a long time. Arkham City is certainly a lot less of a maze than its predecessor, the city offers a fantastic playground for BATMAN to explore, its open world style has of course meant that Rocksteady has needed to supply us with tools to navigate our new found space. Firstly the map is quite detailed and marks points of interest well, allowing the addition of NAV points makes getting where you need to go easy. Now the issue of how to get to where we need to go… after-all ‘I’m BATMAN I am not walking!’ With the increase in size Rocksteady have had to severely overhaul Mobility, even though the map is sizable we can still get from one side to the other in 5minutes, using the divine combination of Grappling Hook and gliding we never have to touch the floor. That and the added ability of the Dive Bomb, which can either be used as a great way to land on an unsuspecting enemy, or as a way to drop down then glide back up on the lift created. It’s a brilliant use of physics, your skill will be tested in the Augmented Reality training, some of which will test your patience as much as your skill. Your utility belt is stocked up, in fact it’s so ‘stocked’ it’s surprising we are still in any way agile. Regardless gadgets still play a large part in all aspects of the game, especially exploration. As well as all of the gadgets seen in the previous game we have a few new toys, unlocked through the game we get the Electric Charge Gun a sort of taser that can be used to power up motors as well as shock enemies. My new favourite Freeze Grenades, which can create temporary platforms in water and be used to freeze enemies. You may be noticing a pattern emerging in the new gadgets, all gadgets in Arkham City have a combat and none combat use. To cater for this they have a button combination to use quickly in combat, this saves on switching through menus whilst an enemy punches you in the head.

Title. BATMAN Arkham City Developer. Rocksteady Studios Platform(s). PCWindows, PS3, 360 UK Release date: Out Now RATED: 15

Lets be honest, combat is a large part of the joy of BATMAN. With the added ease of gadget use and the overhauled combat system allowing us to fight more enemies than before and counter up to 3 at once. Being BATMAN never felt so good it’s responsive, challenging and enjoyable with a bit of practice that 50 hit Combo Achievement will be yours in no time. As well as the huge brawls there is of course the stealth aspect of the game, these sections feel much more like its predecessor, confined spaces we cant rely purely on our superior fighting skills, when weapons are involved we must take the sneaky sneaky approach… sure break their necks… just do it quietly. I, like many gamers love a good boss battle and thankfully Arkham City has some memorable encounters, None of which I shall ruin but all require tactics but never feel frustrating or ‘unfair’. Presentation is superb the atmospheric city is rich with textures and lighting bringing the city to life. Character animations are flamboyant and certainly nothing to complain about, but the real star of the show in Arkham City just like in its predecessor has to be the voice acting with standout performances from videogame superstar Nolan North as Penguin and of course the legend that is Mark Hamel as the Joker. Longevity in single player games is no easy thing but if there was ever a lesson in how to create it, Rocksteady could teach it. They have done everything you could think of to give players a reason to keep playing. Riddler trophies are found throughout Arkham City and with each one you find something is unlocked, be it a Character Trophy or new challenge map in Riddlers Revenge: through finding each of the 400… that’s right 400! You will open up more and more content. Challenge maps are where you compete for the top scores on levels. Prepare to have all aspects of your game tested from combat to stealth there’s always room for improvement and always someone online who is owning you… Once you have completed the story mode, all side missions are still open, so cleaning those up whilst the game is still manageable is advised. For the more competent player there is also the option of New Game+ a second play-through where by you start with all gadgets but are met by a lot tougher enemies. I would love to say ‘this is how they would make a multiplayer experience’ but beyond special co-op missions I am stumped. The game gets on well on its own without getting to bogged down with a multiplayer. Kudos to Rocksteady to sticking to what they know. The game, regardless of what a lot of my contemporaries have said, is not perfect. My primary issue is the inclusion of so many characters but beyond that and perhaps a more serious note; collecting 400 green question marks! Is really DULL!! The Catwomen storyline is way to short, I understand that it is a bonus but I was left wanting more. However I have to say she controlled really well and made a great break from the seriousness of BATMAN, the option to return to her when the game was finished was also great, so be sure to download it. The wealth of side missions while enjoyable, can sometimes feel like a distraction from the core narrative, my advice do them once you’ve finished the core story.


Title. Call of Duty MW3 Developer. Infinity ward Platform(s). PCWindows, PS3, 360 UK Release date: out now RATED: 18

Every now and then a game comes along that is so highly sought after it seems pointless reviewing it. No matter what myself or my contemporaries say, the world will go nuts for this, the latest instalment of Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise, the ingeniously named MW3. But enough of my aversion techniques… I’ve played it and I will as always, give you the low down. First off, in order to really understand the story of MW3, playing its predecessors certainly helps. I have mentioned in the past on more than one occasion, how complicated and confusing the plot can be. The prime suspect for this confusion comes from the fact that we play lots of different characters; Frost, Price and Yuri being the main three (I cant give too much away). Needless to say keeping track of who you are, where you are and what the hell your supposed to be doing can be tricky. So the story… the game opens up in New York and all out WAR, buildings crumble around us, the sound of gunfire and explosions is deafening. Players of MW2 will know that Makarov, that crazy Russian terrorist, has essentially started World War 3. The Russians are dominating America, cue heroics! and a lot of running around being serious. Makarov is so close to having his dream of nuclear war, thankfully he needs the launch codes for Russia’s Nuclear weapons. So he sets about kidnapping the Russian president… I shall not divulge further. Infinity Ward have certainly gone all out this time, with blockbuster sequences in every level, incredible visuals with film-esque camera work. Every level is every FPS fans dream, from cities to jungles the game is stunning! The mission Turbulence was truly something special, the name might give a suggestion as to why. Dialogue is top notch, as always, with just the right amount of emotion shown in our battle hardened soldiers. MW3 certainly has a very realistic presentation with radio orders and combat shouts it is atmospheric in every way. Ingame visuals are incredible, such high levels of detail and movement in every set piece is truly jaw dropping. I can honestly say all aspects of the presentation are top notch, the cut scenes between levels explaining the upcoming mission are beautiful. I found myself really looking forward to them, partly because I kept forgetting what I was doing and why.

I am really happy to see the inclusion of a few extra solo modes, after the 6 hour campaign mode I felt it was lacking in single player content. Spec Ops mode is back, split into two primary modes; Survival: a sort of horde mode where you take on wave after wave of enemies, levelling up on the way in the familiar multiplayer style. There is also a variety of Missions not included in the campaign, so be sure to check it out. So now we get to the meat of this Modern WarPie, 90% of people buying MW3 are getting it to play online FACT! Well at least I believe it’s about that… probably more. So you may ask ‘is it good?’ the answer is of course yes. It’s pretty much the same as its predecessor with slightly updated graphics and a couple of extra modes. My favourite of which is Kill Confirmed, a mode where upon killing your target you then must run over their corpse to collect their tags and score a point. Anyone who loves getting up close and personal will love this mode. I don’t know how they do it but it’s a very addictive game, you’ll find yourself saying ‘just one more match’ well into the early hours of the night. Expect a lot of DLC coming over the next 12 months, if you are interested, I advise picking up an Elite Package for 4200 Microsoft points or (£35 to normal people) to save money in the long run.

Shooting is Responsive but I couldn’t help but feel the AI is a bit dumb… like super dumb! And seem to appear from nowhere. On top of that I get very frustrated with linear games, especially when there are invisible borders; I hate only being able to go one way. This was made worse by having to follow someone all the time! The pace of the game - in my opinion - should be dictated by the player… at least for the most part. On more than one occasion I felt very unattached from the action but honestly all this can be forgiven: playing MW3 is like playing an action film. The campaign mode is only about 6hours MAX. It’s thrilling, completely ridiculous and really good fun. Take the game online and you wont find a more fast-paced competitive environment to show off your skills.


Stencil Mag Issue 10  

Four Year Strong, Saves The Day, Futures, Deaf Havana,