All Time Low will be touring the UK in February including three straight nights at London's O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. Support comes from Lower Than Atlantis and The Summer Set.
The Ghost Inside will headline the 2013 Rock Sound/Impericon Clothing tour with support coming from Stray From The Path, Landscapes and very special guests to be announced soon. Due to popular demand, Finch’s UK reunion show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire has been upgraded to the O2 Brixton Academy. They will be performing their début album ‘What It Is To Burn’ in full in honour of it’s 10th anniversary.
Deftones have announced a UK headline tour which will take place in February. Sonic Boom Six and Proxies have been announced as support for The Blackout’s forthcoming UK tour, which takes place in January 2013.
All Time Low and Kaiser Chiefs have been announced as support for Green Day’s UK summer 2013 show at the Emirates Stadium in London.
Biffy Clyro have announced a headline UK arena tour which will begin in March. We Are The Ocean have announced a headline UK tour, which will take place early next year. The Gaslight Anthem have announced a UK tour and will take place in March 2013. Don Broco have announced their first headline UK tour, and will take place in February and March 2013. Frank Turner has been announced as support for The Pogues’ show at London’s O2 Arena on 20th December.
Jim Lockey & the Solemn Sun have announced a lengthy UK tour that will take place across 25 dates from late January to early March 2013. Portsmouth’s Housefires will head out on their first headline UK in November.
This Years Winner Is… will be touring the UK with The Famous Class and Disclosure in December. Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) and The Reptilian will head out on a tour of the UK and Ireland from 5th November.
Marmozets have been announced as support for Feed The Rhino’s February headline UK tour. Birds In Row will be touring the UK throughout December. Finnish rockers The 69 Eyes have announced a one-off show UK show on February 12th at Islington O2 Academy, London.
Morain will head out on a UK tour in December with In Gratitude,Big Sixes and Harbour. The Ghost Of A Thousand will be reuniting to support Alexisonfire in London on December 3rd and 4th.
Hildamay have announced a UK headline tour with support coming from Coastline. The Prodigy have announced that they will play two shows at London's Brixton Academy on December 18th and 19th.
Nine Black Alps have announced a December headline UK tour. The Elijah have announced a short run of UK shows that will take place in November. Yearbook and The Birthday Suit have been announced as support for The Xcerts forthcoming December UK tour.
The Story So Far will be returning to the UK in the Spring. Danish metal legend King Diamond has been announced as first headliner for Bloodstock 2013. Anthrax, Accept, Firewind and Fozzy have also been announced for Bloodstock 2013 which takes place from Thursday August 8th to Sunday August 11th at Catton Park, Derbyshire.
Exit Ten will be touring the UK in February.
Bring Me The Horizon have annunced their fourth album is titled 'Sempiternal' and will be released in 2013.
Bullet For My Valentine have announced details of their new album and a UK headline tour. The album is titled 'Temper Temper' and will be released on February 11th and will be followed by a UK tour in March featuring support from Halestorm.
Green Day have brought forward the release date of '¡Tré!' to December 11, 2012 from its original date of January 15, 2013.
Defeater will release 'Live on BBC Radio 1' on digital and vinyl formats on December 18th and January 15th, respectively through Bridge Nine.
Terrible Things (featuring ex-Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino) will release a new EP called 'Pre-Transmission' on vinyl on November 27th.
Angels & Airwaves will be releasing a double EP called ‘Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal’ on December 18th.
Green Day have brought forward the release date of ‘¡Tré!’ to December 11, 2012 from its original date of January 15th, 2013
Our Lost Infantry will release their new album 'The New Art History' on November 14th on Deep Elm. Blitz Kids's new mini-album 'Never Dies' is set to be released 26th November with a UK headline tour to follow in December.
Beans On Toast will release his new album 'Fishing For A Thank You' on 1st December through Xtra Mile. Harbour have announced they will release their début EP 'Morning' on 10th December through IStartedTheFire Records.
Buckcherry will release a new album, 'Confessions' through Century Media in early 2013. Merseyside band Guardians have announced they will release self titled mini-album 7th January.
Rat Attack will be releasing a self titled debut EP in February 2013. Sheffield metallers Immension have announced they will release their self-titled début EP on January 7th 2013.
Bleak Falls have announced they will unleash their début release 'Another Rainy Day' on Monday 10th December.
Such Gold have announced their new album 'Misadventures' will receive a UK release on 25th February through Razor & Tie.
H2O will be reissuing their second album 'Thicker Than Water' through Bridge Nine on November 20th.
Suicide Silence vocalist Mitch Tucker has passed away due to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident on Halloween night. Stencil Magazine and Already Heard would like to offer our condolences to his family, friends, band members and fans worldwide who are affected by this loss.
Blink-182 have left Interscope Records and will release a new EP entitled 'Dogs Eating Dogs' on December 18th
Underoath are splitting up and will be heading out on a US farewell tou with support from MewithoutYou, As Cities Burn and Letlive.
Every Avenue have announced an hiatus with vocalist David Strauchman stating "We are not breaking up and are not on bad terms. We have all reached a new chapter in our lives and we are excited about exploring new possibilities!"
This Time Next Year are splitting up and will be playing two final shows on December 2nd and 7th. Departures have signed a US record deal with No Sleep Records. Their new album 'Teenage Haze' will release a US release on November 27th with a UK release on November 12th through In At The Deep End Records. Drummer Mike Ambrose has left Set Your Goals. They will begin recording a new album in January.
Dave Grohl is to rejoin Queens of the Stone Age for their next studio album. The album is expected to be released in June 2013 Futures have announced they are to split up and will be playing a farewell show at The Garage, London on 12th December.
Senses Fail have begin recording their fifth album with producer Shaun Lopez. Guitarist Jake Langely has left US Pop-Punk band Handguns and formed a new band called Post Season.
Saves The Day are currently working on their new album and have launched a PledgeMusic campaign to help raise funds for the record.
SHARKS are currently demo'ing new material for their 2nd studio album, which is set for a release in March/April 2013. Transit will begin recording their new album with producer Ted Hutt. The album will be released in 2013 on Rise Records
A Wolf At Your Door Records have announced the signing of Reading Alt Rockers We Are Lost Boys. The Cape Race have completed work on their dĂŠbut full-length and will be released in early 2013. The Story So Far have completed the recording of their new album, and will be released in the new year. Yashin have announced they have split with guitarist Lewis Millen and has been replaced by Connor McCleod.
Dive Bella Dive are currently recording a full length album with producer Red One and is set to be released in early 2013.
What was it like to finally get up on stage and perform at London Wembley Arena back in April, and what are your memories from this performance? It felt great, it was the culmination of a lot of hard work. The actual gig was a little surreal, and it went by in a blur - six months of preparation versus ninety minutes on stage was a weird ratio. But the reception from the crowd was brilliant, and more than I could have imagined.
What was it like to have Beans On Toast, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and Billy Bragg support you at this show, and how did you go about deciding what bands you wanted to support you at this life changing show? I spent a long, long time working out the bill for the show. Billy was first on my list from the moment we started planning the gig, and I was nervous about asking him because I wasn't sure if he'd say yes. Of course, being the gent that he is, he did. Dan le Sac vs Scroob was cool, I wanted to have some variety in the bill; and then Jay (Beans) is an old friend of mine and was also one of the central inspirations for my solo career, so it was fitting to have him be part of the whole thing.
You recently just finished a tour in the USA, so with this in mind how was this experience for you? This tour was great, the shows were a little bigger, and we did two nights at Webster Hall in New York, which was amazing. We also had Larry & His Flask and Jenny Owen Youngs on the road with us, which was great, they're both amazing so it made the boys and I really step it up.
What was it like to be picked by Danny Boyle to perform at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London, and how was this whole experience for you? Being asked directly by Danny was weird, but cool. He is a genuine fan, which is pretty disarming, and when the offer to do the show came at me from that angle, it was hard to say anything other than yes. It was quite the event, something I'm glad I did and am proud to have been part of in a way. Parts of it were more than a little odd, but it was a great piece of exposure.
What can you tell us about your latest release 'Last Minutes and Lost Evenings'? The record is supposed to be an introductory piece of sorts for people outside the UK, where my latest studio album (England) has done way better than any of its predecessors. Of course people are still free (and indeed encouraged) to track down the first three records and associated rarities, but if people just want the Cliff notes, then here it is. The Wembley show is also included on DVD to give people an idea about the live show.
How did you end up forming Mรถngรถl Hรถrde and how has the response been from your fan base so far to this project? I've been thinking about doing a heavy side project for a long while - it's definitely the music I grew up with and that I still love, plus I wanted to play with Ben Dawson again, as we are old friends and musical collaborators. We finally found some time to rehearse properly and write some songs at the start of this year, which turned into a week of shows in the summer. It was a ton of fun, if not a little exhausting. I think some people have loved it, some people have hated it, and a lot of people have been indifferent. I can't say I care that much, it's for my benefit as much as anything else, and I had a blast.
You've performed at Reading/Leeds festival a handful of times as Frank Turner so what was it like to perform as Möngöl Hörde, and how happy were you with the response from the shows? It was cool to be there, I would have been sad to miss a year at Reading & Leeds. Being on the Lock Up stage was important as Mike D has been a great friend to me in my music career. We were happy, sure, we had a couple of thousand people each at our third and fourth ever shows! I guess we didn't pay our punk rock dues with this band haha.
Can you tell us about what Möngöl Hörde will get up to next, maybe a full record? Yeah, in theory; it's a question of finding downtime from what I do normally; of that there is precious little in the forseeable future. That said, we will make a record when we can, and hopefully tour it as well.
You recently created your own beer, so can you tell us how this idea came about, and a little bit more about what our British beer lovers can expect from this product? I spent an evening with a master brewer talking through beer as a concept - it's not something I know much about (other than liking it in general). We worked up some ideas about what I'd want from a beer with my name on it, and that's the finished product. The company who organise it are an independent brewery who work with musicians, so it was right up my street.
Have you started on your follow up to 'England Keep My Bones' yet, and if so can you tell us about what fans can expect from your next release? I'm actually in the studio in California right now working with producer Rich Costey on a new album. It's slow and hard work, although we are making steady progress. I'm excited about the new record, I have spent more time preparing for this one than anything else I've done, really. It's not a record about England, I guess it's more of a breakup record. I hope people like it; it should be out around April next year.
How did you guys end up signing to Xtra Mile Records, and how has this experience been for you guys so far? Barney - We've been friends with Dan from the label for a long time, we even talked to them about releasing our second album back in 2007 but we decided to stick with our own label at the time. Over the years, Xtra Mile has grown and grown in size and prominence and we've always respected what they've been doing. When we decided last year that we'd like to have a label put out "Sonic Boom Six" and not do it ourselves this time, there were several labels interested. In the end, there were even some bigger labels talking to us but we met up with Charlie, the boss of Xtra Mile and his take on the record and the plan to get it out there was so realistic and sounded so close to how I saw it that it was really attractive. Add that to their proven track record with Frank Turner and the fact that he was happy to work with us to make our own decisions and plans, rather than dictate to us, then that was our decision made. From the signing onwards, it’s been great to have that support behind us and a team that know what they are doing and can help us move onwards and upwards and realise the potential of this record. Little things, like they let us have the materials we wanted for the packaging of the record. They have helped with advertising, the video for ‘Virus’ and all sorts of aspects that go into the release of a record. It’s such a good feeling to be part of a label with a cool, diverse roster and to be in a significant place on there. So, up to now, we’re stoked with how everything’s going, and with the whole team around us.
What made you pick 'Virus' (awesome tune) as the first single to release from this record, and how happy have you been with the response from your fans so far? Laila - From the second we wrote 'Virus', it kind of became the blueprint for the album so for us it was already a big tune. Live, the reaction had been really strong. We wanted to drop a song that summed up the feel and sound of the album and was a talking point so 'Virus' totally made sense. The mish-mash of big chorus’s, rapped verses, socially-conscious lyrics, big rock riffs and beatdowns with dancey synths and reggae is definitely the blueprint for the whole album. It had to be a banger because it felt like we'd been away for a while so we needed a tune where people would go 'wow, SB6 are back!' The response from our fans has been pretty great, most of them have loved the video and have appreciated that we've honed our sound to reflect the SB6 we are in 2012. There's been the obvious, 'they've changed, etc' comments but that's inevitable with any new release which is different than the last. Whenever we release anything new it's a gamble because we've mixed it up so much in the past, the one thing that stays consistent is the messages that we deliver in our lyrics.
How did you go about deciding that this album would be a self titled record? Barney - In 2009, when Ben, our old guitarist and major contributor to the band left SB6 we were faced with the decision to give up and call it a day or carry on. We felt we had unfinished business, that we hadn't realised our potential, and made the decision to carry on. However, with such a major overhaul of members, it took a few years to rebuild everything. With the few years we've been away, we've really rebuilt the band from the ground up in terms of the writing, recording, instrumentation and stageshow so it really is a relaunch. We call it rebooting the franchise! So for it to be called 'Sonic Boom Six' makes complete sense. The challenge to the listener is 'if you thought you knew who Sonic Boom Six are, then think again'. I think making the record selftitled is another way of underlining that notion.
What would you say are the main themes and influences that run throughout your latest self-titled record? Barney - After writing so many albums and lyrics that were really meant directly for a certain kind of person preaching to the converted if you like - this time my challenge was to write lyrics that would make sense to anyone listening, no matter what scene they're into or where they're from or whatever. We don't really like the label of being a 'political' band, but being so influenced by punk and hip-hop, it's natural for me to write songs with a message. But the message of Sonic Boom Six isn't some firebrand political polemic, it's a lot more consciously on the fence than that. I guess it's politics for people that aren't into politics in a way. The best example on the album is ‘The High Cost of Living’. We're not about telling anyone how they should live but we’re politely suggesting that the world would be a better place if we all thought about and took responsibility for our own actions and realised our place in the world and our effect on other people. I call it conscientious consumerism. I hope the lyrics to this song are thought-provoking in the sense that they’re simply saying be thankful for what we have in the West and realise the implications of having it. I don’t think that’s a notion that many bands sing about at the moment in such a non-partisan way. The album discusses issues like climate change, multicultural Britain, the media's romanticism of soldiers, the riots of last year and the current government in a way that is hopefully interesting and engaging without being clichéd.
You worked with Peter Miles again on this record, so with that in mind what is it love so much about working with him, and what does he bring to the recording process? Barney - One thing that we've been totally happy with over the previous couple of records was the recording of them and therefore Pete. We've become so perfectly comfortable with him that we knew that all we needed was more time to complete the ideas we had together over the last few albums. There were so many times where we went halfway with ideas like speeding up the drums after recording them at a slower tempo to make them sound like loops on the previous albums. We wanted to take that to an extreme this time. This time we afforded ourselves more time in the studio by having more preparation completed outside of it so we could really go to town on the guitars, drums and vocals, layering on harmonies and getting that perfect take with Pete. Pete's got a great set of ears, he really contributes to the process and innovates with us and understands where we're coming from. He really has become the sixth member of the band in terms of the recording process.
What has the experience been like for you guys leading up to the release of this record? I mean is it maybe a manic process and you feel a bit of relief when you get the record out there, or is it something entirely different for you? Laila - Pre-release, this album has required a lot of patience! We've been sitting on it for a year now but we decided with this record we wanted new management, a label, press agent, the full shebang so it all took a lot of time. It's a huge relief to finally get it out and it's exciting to read the good reviews and hear ourselves on the radio and see ourselves on TV and all that. The build up over the last few months has been insane though! Barney and I have found ourselves frequently running around London/Manchester doing press, radio shows on a regular basis but it's great because as a band you want to be busy promoting the thing that is of most importance to you, and that's this album and of course us the band. Manic is good, it means people want to know!
How would you say your sound as a band has progressed or changed over the years? Barney - It's just been a very natural progression. If you listen to our early material it’s us in a garage playing as a punk band and literally simulating the beats and synths we heard in dance music with guitars, drums and bass. As we got older and more experienced with audio production, we learnt to incorporate different technology into our sound to make something truly original. If you listen to ‘Danger Danger’ off our first album, then ‘Arcade Perfect’ on our second, then ‘The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Inventions’ off our third and finally ‘Karma is a Bitch’ off our new album, you can literally hear us progressing across the years in our attempt to make that mix of rock and dance work for us. It's us starting off as a rock band struggling to emulate a drum n bass style and ending up with what we feel is the right blend of rock and dance for this band on the new album. It’s what we were always going for, but anything worth doing is worth doing right, and that took time!
How did you guys end up working with Reel Big Fish on the track 'Hiding In My Headphones' and how was this whole experience for you? Laila - We've been really good friends with Aaron since we toured with them a few years back. As soon as we met them at Slam Dunk in 2007 we totally hit it off. They asked me to sing 'She Has a Girlfriend Now' and it's kind of become a little tradition that I sing it every time I'm at one of their shows. We recorded an acoustic version of that and it really didn't work out too well, we really need to be on something geared towards Sonic Boom Six because our style is so unique. So, when they were recording a new album Aaron sent us literally just an idea for a reggae tune a few months back. We knew the speed and feel and the chords and chorus were there so we just had fun over it... Barney and I laid down some raps and a chorus but the song was nothing like it was now. It's the most organic and fun way we've done a tune, normally a band will tell you exactly what to do, here we just had a a couple of directions. A few months later we heard it and it had been completely fleshed out and the structure was totally different, all the parts were in different places and Coolie Ranx was on there too... it's almost like a dub remix of the tune we thought it was going to be. But, because of the theme of the song, that live dubby remix feel really works. It's like RBF are opening up their headphones to you. They're such a fun band and a band that I have total respect for.
What does 2013 hold for Sonic Boom Six? Laila - 2013 is going to be the year for us, I can totally feel it. We'll have a couple more singles and videos off the album coming out. We head out on tour with The Blackout around the UK at the end of January, there's talk of an American tour when the album comes out there in March and then world domination!
So you recently just finished your UK headline tour, so can you tell us a bit about how this whole experience was for you? The whole thing was a highlight as it was our biggest headline tour to date, the London show sold out before the tour started and it was amazing! All round generally, we were well received and the atmosphere was great every night - proof that things are going well.
It's safe to say that you had a pretty insane summer as you guys managed to hit a whole bunch of festivals, so how fun was this for you guys, and how do you feel it compares to your summer last year as a band? Obviously having the chance to play all the festivals was great and you play to much bigger audiences and people you wouldnâ€™t normally play too so you can pick up new fans. This year was way better as we played more festivals but the only downside was the festivals were at the weekend and we had time off during the week, so every weekend weâ€™d having an amazing time, and then during the week it would be back to our normal lives.
Over the summer we witnessed you guys performing a little Foo Fighters medley, so how did this come about, and how has it gone down live? We don’t do it anymore – we just did it during the festival season and when we went to the US as we’re huge Foos fans so we felt it was a way to help people who didn’t know us to relate to our band live.
How have the new songs been going over live, and what's it been like to finally play some of these new songs to your fans? A lot better than expected. The album came out the day the tour started. The songs all went down well and we even had sing alongs etc which were almost as loud as they were for the older songs.
Your new album 'Changing Tune' hit number 25 in the UK charts, so how was this whole experience for you, and how happy have you been with the support from your fans with this record? Thrilled. I rarely buy a CD – a band has to hit home with me to make me buy an album so we obviously did that with a lot of people. We see the chart position as a benchmark of what to beat next time. The support has been amazing.
For fans that for some crazy reason have not picked up your new record yet, can you tell them a bit about what to expect from the record? Lyrically, the same old shit, life – being a human being. Musically we had more time to experiment and also more money as we signed to island records. It sounds like a progression from the last record.
How did you end up recording the track 'Scared of The Dark' with Dear Prudence? Madi is a friend of mine and she has been for a few years. She signed to Universal just before us so we thought it would be a celebration of us both signing deals!
The artwork for 'Changing Tune' is really unique, can you tell us how it came together, and what you want it to mean to your fans? Rather than it being each item representing something, it’s a vibe, and a bit experimental which is like the music we think.
As one of the key bands in the alternative UK rock scene right now, what do you guys think of the scene all together, and how would you say it has changed or progressed since you first started out as Lower Than Atlantis? It’s nice to see a lot of our friends bands on the up. We don’t like to be lumped in with a “scene” as we think we’re all different but it’s great things are going well for a number of us. Our friends, Young Guns and Deaf Havana etc are doing well too.
What does 2013 hold for Lower Than Atlantis? Loads of touring to support this album and probably heading into the studio to record our next album.
For those that are still unaware, can you tell us a bit about the formation of Axewound? Basically I've known Matt for a few years and I also filled in for Bullet For My Valentine in 2010. We made friends, spoke about doing a metal project, and then we wrote songs together in just two weeks, after this we got Liam involved through touring. The other guys, Joe and Mike came together from friends of friends really so, you know it was all sort of a tight little circle of people that knew each other and wanted to make good music together.
How did you guys get to the band name Axewound, and what do you want it to mean to your fans? It was Matt's girlfriend actually that came up with the name..I think we just wanted a name that was no nonsense that just described the sound. We didnâ€™t want to go deep into some stupid long band name like, kings of infinite satan's arsehole or whatever..we just wanted a nice snappy short band name that would tag the music whilst also sounding aggressive.
What was it like when you played your first show in Tivoli, Utrecht and how happy were you with the crowd response? It was really bizarre to be honest with you, because obviously the album at that point had been finished and there was this huge build up of "oh my god, it’s the first gig we're all going to be together", and it was really good, it was a bit of a trial by fire because we we're supporting Killswitch Engage and obviously no one had heard of us and it wasn't our audience. So yeah it was a good little training ground so that we could bond together on stage and within about two or three gigs we'd locked in. I'm glad that we did it the proper way, instead of trying to large it by saying we're this big band and we're going to do big venues straight away, because it wouldn't have worked. We wanted to work the band like any other new band, it didn't matter about the profile (although people would talk about that) we just wanted to blood ourselves the same way a normal band would.
You guys also played Download Festival this year, so as you guys have played it before with your other bands, how exciting was it for you to play as Axewound? Download was incredible and I think it surpassed all of our expectations because by that point we had done a lot of other festivals in Europe and obviously the reception was reasonably good at them all considering no one had heard any of our music before. When we got to Download we kind of thought we are going to have a good atmosphere but people don't know the songs so people weren’t going to be raging. But it was raging..it was amazing, and considering we we're second from the top, we had devil horns in the air and circle pits, it was good..and it was a bit of a riot to be honest with you. So yeah, It was a really nice surprise...the weather was apocalyptic as well!
What's it been like so far to keep up with the schedule of your own bands as well as sticking to the commitments of Axewound? It’s been alright, I mean for Matt he's been doing the new Bullet album so that's slotted in nicely, Liam is the busiest man in the world, and somehow manages to sqeeze Axewound into his insane Cancer Bats touring schedule, but it's only because he really wants to as he's really passionate about it, just like we all are. I play for lots of different people so it's something I can squeeze in nicely. I think the bottom line is we all want to make this happen, it doesn't matter how busy we are, we will always try and make time for it...it's a special band.
As you guys all come from different types of bands, how did you go about agreeing on what kind of sound you would create for your first record when you went into record? Or was it just a process of turning up and seeing what happened whilst you were there? It literally was turning up and seeing what happened, we didn't want to have any preconceived, "oh yeah let's write it like this", we didn't want to talk about it, we just wanted to do it. There was no time to talk, because it took just two weeks to write and record all of the music, and it was great. It was just really writing by instinct..what is on that album is pure instinct and there’s nothing contrived or over thought, and I think that's what makes it sound so raw and believable, which is hopefully how the live shows will translate as well.
How did you guys end up working with Synster Gates on the first track 'Vultures' and what it was like to work with him on the track? He's friends with Matt as he knows him from touring with Bullet. He heard the song and immediately wanted to get involved and with technology nowdays we sent him a track and he just literally emailed his solo over..it's amazing isn't it. So yeah, he emailed it over and we dropped it in, it fitted like a glove.
Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process for this record, like who was it done with and where was it done? Well Matt and I booked a studio in Cardiff at The Atrium University and got our friend Ginger involved who engineered it and recorded it. Basically we didn't have any songs planned really, we went in and said okay let's try and write a song a day. Myself and Matt jammed and then formed a song, and by the end of the day I put the drums down and we carried on doing that for eleven days. So basically we had all the drums done in eleven days, as well as all of the songs written and then Matt recorded the bass and guitars in four days, and then we got Liam in to do the vocals, we got all of his vocals done with Matt in just five days. It wasn't recorded on a huge budget, it was done quite modestly, but we obviously wanted to put our musicianship into it, and make the playing as good as possible, whilst also being as real as possible.
What are the main themes and influences that run through your latest record 'Vultures' ? Well I can't really say because there's no sort of influences that we really drew upon that we purposely put in there, it was generally just stuff that I guess came out naturally. We're both Pantera fans and Slipknot fans and Liamâ€™s vocals have sort of got a rage against the machine punky tone to them. But yeah I think the thread that runs through the album has got a sort of spirit of rock 'n' roll metal. We don't take ourselves ultra seriously and we just do what we love. No one worships the devil in this band, I mean, we just laugh at the devil and sing about him occassionally...
What does the future have in store for Axewound? We're off to the states at the end of November for a few weeks, and then well that's obviously the end of 2012. Hopefully the world will still be around by the end of the year and then after that we're definitely going to be doing some more touring next year. Its going to be more difficult because Bullet and Cancer Bats will be more active obviously, but you know we have an album out, which we want to promote and it has an international release so we will be venturing into other corners of the planet to show people our Axewound sound.
Interview with Ben Witkowski
You guys just recently came off the 'Scream It Like You Mean It' tour, so how was this whole experience for you, and do you have any particular highlights from the tour that you could share with us? It was an interesting, yet fun run! We were fresh off of the plane from a tour we did in Southeast Asia and Australia, we had a few days at home in Pennsylvania, and then we made a fifty hour trek across the country to meet up with the tour in California. It was weird meeting a tour that was already underway, but the lineup consisted of many different bands, which is always neat. The shows went very well, and we had tons of friends on the tour with us, so that was also really nice. The Pittsburgh date of this tour was my favorite, it was one of the last shows, and the stage looked out over the Steelers stadium, so a good view, and a great day.
You've just unleashed your new self-titled record, so with this in mind, how happy have you been with the response so far from this record? We are all very happy that the time has come for our fans to hear our new music. The feedback thus far has been incredible, and we couldn't ask for more. We are also on a full US tour right now, so spreading the word of the new s/t record has been much easier then just sitting at home. We are trying to get the word out about it on all social networking outlets, as well as during and after the shows. So look out for us on The Unshakeable Tour as it comes to a city near you.
How did you go about deciding that the new album would be a self-titled record? The band made a ton of new preparations for this record, including taking in feedback from our previous release One Reality. We really wanted to do right by our fans and give them something they could sink their teeth into. While writing/recording this record there were a few titles being thrown around, but nothing that we all were ultimately satisfied with. The s/t idea seemed to really fill in all of the unexplainable unhappiness with everyones' opinion for the potential names discussed. As a band, this is the record we have been waiting to make for a long time, and we believe it is Texas In July.
How did you end up working with Will Putney on this record, and what is it you like so much about working with him? There were a few producers in mind for the record, and picking a producer is a big deal for a band as you have to know they will capture your sound. The vibes were looking good in The Machine Shop studios as Will has been putting out awesome record after awesome record so we knew he was a good choice. He let us write our own record, and was very patient during the process. I think that was the most important thing for us on this record, as we weren't pushed to be something that we are not.
Matt Greiner (August Burns Red), Dave Stephens (We Came As Romans), and Chadwick Johnson (Hundredth) all appeared as special guests on your new album, so with this in mind can you tell us how these collaborations came about, and what it was it like to work with these guys on your brand new record? Having Matt as a special appearance on the record was just an overall great idea, you don't see many if any guest drum duets. Will really wanted to make this happen along with Adam, and well, they made it happen! I didn't witness the recording but they had two kits set up in the same room to capture the duel drum solo. Dave Stephens is one of our great friends, we have been out on tour with We Came As Romans several times now and have grown very close to them. He recorded his part in LA while he was working with his band and sent it our way, it sounded amazing, so we were more than happy to have him be a part of our CD! Last, Chad from Hundredth has been an inspiration to me for a long time, he is an incredible vocalist and lyricist, and having him on the record with us was an honor, he also wrote and recorded his part on his own. We collaborated on the direction of the song and then put everything together!
The artwork for this record is really, really cool! So can you tell us how the artwork came together, and what you wanted it to mean to your fans? The idea of an x-ray shot of a brain came up in the studio. This quickly transformed into something greater once our designer Sam Kaufman got a hold of all our plans. He really nailed it, I think itâ€™s very unique and captures the idea behind the record very well.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Miss May I, and what should attending fans expect? Honestly, this is the most excited I have been for a tour in a long time. Miss May I are great friends of ours but we have only had the opportunity to tour with them once, and we haven't seen them in about eight months. They are one of our fellow metal bands, so it should be an awesome run - because if anyone loves metal, it's Europe. We have also rarely ever toured Europe with another American band, even though this will be our 4th European run. I've never been more stoked.
You've toured the UK before of course, so what memories do you have from touring here, and also, do you maybe have a favourite city that you like to visit? Rain, Big Ben, more rain, big red buses, rain, and good shows! Also, we had a driver from the UK, his name was David Buck and he was probably the funniest and nicest person I have ever met. People in the UK are so easy going, and it's always fun playing there, so It should be twice as fun when we tour with Miss May I. I didn't mean to call out the rain so much but itâ€™s only the truth haha... And what I will say is that the last time we toured Europe/UK we had four UK shows, and in the UK all we had was sunshine, so let's hope for this again!
What do you want 2013 to hold for Texas In July? I wish that we continue getting a good response in regards to our new record. Traveling is all we need to stay alive, so as long as we are getting good tours and meeting new people, then I think that we will be satisfied.
Can you tell us a bit about the formation of your band, and when you started officially recording albums as your own band? My first album was entitled "Without Warning" and it was recorded in 2008. That particular album was comprised of all star musicians, Dan Lavery (TONIC) Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction) Bruce Kulick (KISS). As soon as I started touring, it has been a revolving door of band members. Currently, TNB has been cherry picked from other groups: Matt Kennedy (the Graduate) Dylan Halacy (Bleu) and Clint Fowler (Automatic Loveletter).
Can you tell us about the bands that have influenced you whilst writing your material, and the sound you wanted to go for when you first started the band? I grew up listening to classic rock and 90's grunge. I've also strived to follow in the footsteps of Switchfoot and the Foo Fighters.
How did your recent tour go here in the UK, and how happy are you with the response you received from this experience? The shows have been amazing. I've really been humbled by the attention that the audiences have been giving us. It's always a nice feeling to have people actually listen and enjoy our original music that they've never heard before. I mean, it's not like our music is in heavy rotation on the radio... yet.
What can you tell us about your latest self-titled EP, and also, how do you think it compares to your releases prior to it? The latest EP was closer to the sound I was going for in the very beginning. It was produced by Damien Starkey (Puddle of Mudd). We must have listened to the Foo Fighters recent album "Wasting Light" about a hundred times. So much so that when we got writers block we would simply ask each other, "What would Grohl do?".
How did you end up working with Damien Starkey on your latest EP? Damien really wanted us to focus on simplicity and hooks. He really made sure that our chorus melodies were more anthemic than ever before.
How hard or easy is it to do something like this, as well as being an actor? The most challenging thing to coordinate is my schedule between the two careers. In the last five years I've shot eleven films, recorded four albums and played over 350 concerts. I've also been married and had a son that's almost a year old. So all in all, I'm doing pretty good at balancing everything.
So you recently filmed American Pie Reunion, what was it like to be back on the set after all these years with your co-stars, and how was this whole experience for you? It was great to work with everyone again. We had so much fun and even though I felt so much more mature in my own life, as soon as we all got together I soon realized that I was actually more immature than ever. We were all focused on making the best sequel possible. I'm so glad that people enjoyed the film.
Can you share with us one of your funniest moments from your time filming the American Pie franchise over the years? As a practical joke one day on the set of American Pie 2, I worked as a crew member called incognito. It took the rest of the cast and crew at least 3 hours to figure out who I was. It was sort of my Andy Kaufman moment.
Also, your song 'My Generation' actually featured on the soundtrack for American Pie Reunion, so how did this happen and what was it like to be part of the film and also have your music on the soundtrack? I've been writing music as long as I've been making American Pie movies. I've tried to get a song on the soundtrack of every one of these films. For American Reunion, it was the live show that put it over the top. I played a live acoustic set at the wrap party. After the set, I went to the bar to get a drink and the directors told me, "We have to put one of your songs on the soundtrack."
You've got a couple of UK dates lined up for March next year, so how excited are you for this, and what should attending fans expect? We'll be adding some more dates to our next UK tour in March. During our last tour in England we got signed by Ian Shaw to the TKO booking agency. Ian will be booking our March tour, we have nothing to announce yet but we're hoping to be on the road with some amazing UK bands along with recording a brand new EP for an exclusive UK release.
We've read that you feel rock music is more popular in the UK right now, so can you tell us why you feel this is, and maybe how USA audiences differ for you compared to the UK? After watching the kids jump, mosh and sing along at the Underground Festival that we played in Gloucester, I can honestly say that US audiences seem more interested in taking photos and texting during a concert than actually enjoying the concert experience itself. I know that this'll change if our music becomes more well known but for an independent rock band the UK and European audiences are more open to brand new music.
What else do you want 2013 to hold for your band? Outside of our upcoming EP being exclusively released in the UK, we hope that we can tour there many more times after March. Perhaps we'll even get to be a part of the festivals in 2013.
Interview with Chad Neptune
Your upcoming new album, â€˜Penny Blackâ€™ has now been released, so with this in mind, what can fans expect from it? They can expect a complete and utter onslaught of world altering melody. Seriously, I think they can expect a true and genuine album that was made from a great place. I believe we wrote a record that we were able to reach so many different places in ourselves. It is something I am very proud of.
How was the recording process for the album? It was amazing. There was no pressure and we had a lot of fun and late nights. We did it our way.
What is the meaning behind the title of your new album? Honestly, It means something a bit different to each of us. I like the idea of a guy finding a penny on the street who then ponders how it got so dirty and wonders about the road it traveled. Also it was the first prepaid postage stamp which made the world a bit smaller and started a new era in communication.
You have reunited with your original singer Chris Carrabba, how has it been having him back, especially for the recording of ‘Penny Black’? Nothing but amazing. He has so much to offer. It is the way this band was created and it will always be special in that way. I have learned more than I knew was possible from him, and watching him craft songs is very special.
As a band that has undergone a number of crucial line up changes, especially with lead vocalists, would you say this has had a big impact on your sound as a band? Of course. Each incarnation has it's own feel. We were never interested in trying to replicate what another singer has done.
The album is being released through Rise Records, who you recently signed with, how have they been treating you so far? I will give my life for those guys. It has been a real pleasure. Please support this label, as they are the real deal.
How has your new single, ‘So Cold’ been received so far? I think well. I try and not look at peoples reactions to much. I just can't wait for everyone out there to hear the new record.
How does your new album compare to your three previous studio albums? That’s a tough question. They are all individual to themselves. This however is the first time we have the same lineup as a previous record. I am sure it will draw comparisons to The Moon is down. Really we tried to get out of our comfort zone a bit whilst also staying true to what we love to play.
What can fans attending your shows expect? The same thing they always got. People having fun together!
What else is in store for Further Seems Forever? Have you ever seen "Bill & Ted's Excellent adventure"? Then it’ll be Something like that...
Interview with Will levy
So guys, how has this summer been for you as a band, and how would you say it compares to your last summer as The Story So Far? Our summer has been very busy for us. We took some time off from touring to hang out at home and start working on new songs. We spent the the year touring with fill-ins so we almost rebuilt our band musically this summer, it took us a while to find our groove again. We spent last summer on the road making new friends and going to Japan, while this summer was spent working day jobs and writing songs. Overall, it's been great for us.
We've heard that you are well on your way with bringing the world your next album, so can you tell us a bit about how this is coming along, and maybe what fans can expect from this record? The record is coming along great, we're all extremely proud and excited about these songs. We have spent a lot of time working on them and I think our fans will like it because it's still us.
How did you end up working with Steve Klein & Sam Pura on this record, and how has this process been for you guys so far? Our booking agent brought the idea to us of having Steve come in for a day or two and hang out with us and hear the songs. As we jammed, he offered to help on a song or two and we instantly clicked. The process has been very eye opening. We've learned a lot through the whole process with Steve and Sam working together. We're all new at this so it's been great going through it together.
It's safe to say that â€˜Under Soil and Dirtâ€™ has received a great response from both your fans and critics, but for you looking back now, what do you feel this record has accomplished for the band, and how happy are you with the response it has received so far? That record has accomplished more than we ever could have hoped for. We went into the last record thinking it'd be our last, and now we're back in the studio doing it again. We're very happy about how everything has worked out for us, and we're very fortunate for all the support we've gotten.
With the pretty big success of 'USAD', have you guys felt any pressure in the studio whilst creating your next release? There's always pressure for every release, it wouldn't be interesting if it wasn't challenging. We like to push ourselves to always write better music.
What would you say has been the hardest process for you guys behind creating your new album so far, and why? We set a bar for ourselves when writing music and writing our songs, so I think figuring out where that bar is set for us, and how we go about getting over the bar for ourselves.
Can you tell us how you ended up on Pure Noise Records, and a bit about what it's like to work with them? We met Jake (Pure Noise) when I was the only one in the band with a car, or who could drive for that matter. I handed him a demo at a show, and he mentioned he was thinking of starting a label. We did our first record with him and he's taken us under his wing ever since. Working with Jake is great, he's easy going, relaxed and doesn't ever stress, which in return, makes us feel at ease about everything. The label is a family and everyone treats it that way.
By the time this interview goes live, you would of toured with New Found Glory in the UK (the band you are named after)... but for the fans that read this, can you tell us about how excited you are to tour with these guys, and maybe a bit about what they mean to you as a band? We're very excited to tour with these guys, we've been fortunate enough to work with Steve on our record, but them taking us out on a couple tours is really cool. It's one of the nicest things anybody has done for our band.
You guys have toured the UK a handful of times now, so with this in mind, what is it you love so much about coming here, and how would you say the UK audiences compare to those back in the USA? We love Nando's! We also have some awesome friends out there who show us a good time. The kids in the audiences are just as awesome as they are back home, it's hard to play favorites!
What does 2013 hold for 'The Story So Far' ? 2013 holds a lot of touring, a lot of long plane rides and a lot of fun. We're excited to start playing new songs on the road and share our new record with everybody.
Interview with Andrew Fisher
For those cave dwellers who may not have heard of Basement, can you give them an idea of your sound and influences? I will never be able to answer this question without cringing. It seems like it should be really simple, but I find it incredibly hard. Leaving behind the sound of other records, at the moment Basement is basically an ‘alternative’ band. Our influences recently have included darker/weirder bands, like Radiohead or Swervedriver along with more obviously alternative bands like Pearl Jam or Smashing Pumpkins. There are also some pretty poppy influences like maybe The Cure and Dino Jr. It’s a whole bunch of stuff.
What can fans expect from your latest release ‘Colourmekindness’? It’s a lot different. There are tracks on it that don’t sound anything like the ones we recently put online and at the same time don’t sound anything like we’ve done before. I’m hoping to get people thinking about whether or not they’re into it. I think that’s a good thing. Different is good.
Your previous album ‘I Wish I Could Stay Here’ was your first full length, how have things moved on since then? So much. IWICSH is cool, but I guess it’s one kind of genre. It fits in with the scene that we are a part of, if I can say that? I feel CMIK isn’t constrained by anything like that. I’m not saying for one minute that we felt like before we needed to write a record that sounded a specific way, it’s just that at the time we were writing music that was being easily labeled and almost pigeon holed to one specific sound.
What was the writing and recording process like for the new record? It was super weird because Alex lived in America, but it was cool how he could send me over stuff and we could turn it into songs at a practice. Recording was great fun, we managed to squeeze it into ten days, which was mad. Panda was a fun place to be and Sam made us sound amazing, I really can’t thank him enough for that. He had a really great input with ideas and techniques that helped shape the record into something special. He really understood us with the music we were writing and it was such a relaxed and fun environment to write and record music. Sam was very hands on and helped us take the record somewhere special in terms of sound quality and production.
You announced that the new album will be the last thing that you guys will be putting out as a band. What has led to the decision to part ways? I started a pretty intensive teacher-training course in September. Knowing it was going to be full-time and that it would cause problems for the band I had no hesitation to suggest bringing things to an end. Everyone knows how important this is to me and that there really wasn’t a choice to be made. None of us ever wanted more from this band than an excuse to hang out with each other at the weekends. When serious opportunities arise, there’s no way we’re not going to explore them. James is in university, both Ronan and Duncan are full time employed and Alex is pursuing his career as a videographer in the USA.
There are not too many UK bands that are as well received in the US as you guys are, that must feel pretty special? It’s strange because that is something that has been said to me a few times, and my reaction is sort of ‘yeah…it’s funny isn’t it?’ I don’t really know what to say about it, because to acknowledge it is to suggest we are somehow better than other bands, but at the same time I can’t really ignore it. I can say however, that I feel very very lucky to have been given the chance to play all across America and have it turn out to be a positive experience. I don’t know why people out there like us but I am happy they do.
Basement are a very well travelled band, are there any countries which you have particularly enjoyed playing in? Apart from the UK of course! I think we would all answer this with Australia, because that was something else. The people were so nice and the country is beautful. Every show was amazing, we couldn't believe how far from home we were and that kids actually knew who we were! It was our first real headline tour and for it to be that much of a success was unbelievable to us all. I also really enjoy playing countries with great history. Getting to see places like Prague ,Barcelona, Berlin, and experience how their culture and architecture differs is really great. I am incredibly grateful for experiences like this.
What have been your fondest memories of being together as a band? I think probably how over the past year or so, how much closer we have become. The last couple of times we have been away I have felt truly happy and privileged to be given the chance to spend time with everyone else. In the real world I get caught up with everything going on and find it hard to see people as much as I’d like to. Going away would allow me as much time as I wanted. I will miss that.
You have a couple of farewell gigs listed for November, in Leeds and London, can we expect any more UK dates, or will these definitely be the last? That’s it. I found it hard to squeeze those shows in as it is. I seriously have so little free time. We tried to pick two venues that meant a lot to us, in towns that we had always felt comfortable playing. I think we chose the right ones. Not too big, not too small and far enough apart.
It’s clear listening to your previous works that your music is full of honesty, do you think perhaps that’s something which is starting to dissolve and disappear within the music industry? I can only speak for what I have immediate knowledge of and I have to say, I have been exposed to a lot of shit recently. People singing about promiscuity or being sexist, or promoting band personas and the idea that you are better than other people, or about ‘industry’ stuff. This was not only in alternative music in general, but also in hardcore and whether or not they were done with a pinch of salt, that kind of nonsense has no place here. I’ve never tried to appeal to anyone because I write for myself. In doing so, the things I say could not be any more genuine. It upsets me that people are buying into some of the ideas I have mentioned. On the whole though, people are pretty clued up. However, I am still shocked almost daily at some of the crap that comes out of people’s mouths.
Do you have anything else you would like to say to your fans out there? Do what you want to do.
For those who aren’t familiar with the band, can you describe the sound that is Handguns? I'll put it very literally: We are a pop punk band. We grew up on drive thru and fat wreck bands. We aren't really anything groundbreaking, however, I would like to think we put our own little touch on things.
You recently released your latest album, ‘Angst’. How was the writing and recording process for the album? Angst was written last year in a storage unit. We compiled all the songs and took them to webster lake studios and got to work. Chris Curran was very easy to work with and knew the direction we wanted the record to go.
When ‘Angst’ was released, what was the reaction from your fans? I would say it was definitely an assortment of mixed reactions. That's how it usually goes though as you can't please everybody and I can accept that.
What was the main inspiration for ‘Angst’? 2011 was quite the year and angst is a compilation of all the personal things that were affecting us last year.
You’ve been very busy this year! You embarked on a tour in February with The Story So Far; in October, you set out on the road with Set It Off and Sparks the Rescue; and in December, you’ll be touring Japan. How does it feel to have so many tours? It feels great. It's a very overwhelming feeling, but it's also a proud one. The fact that we have so many offers is nuts considering our first tour left us begging on street corners.
When Handguns gets some time off, what do you do to unwind and relax? Being on the road so often is tough, both physically and mentally. We usually return to our houses and spend time with our friends until we're recharged and ready to go again.
What do you hope to achieve in 2013? I couldn't tell you. I' feel like we've already accomplished so much. I just hope cool things keep happening!
Where do you hope Handguns will be in three years’ time? Doing the same thing we're doing right now!
You signed with Equal Vision Records in 2011, how did that feel and how are they treating you so far? Signing to Equal Vision has easily been one of the greatest things to happen to our band. It was the first sign that we had reached the next level. We couldn't be happier with our relationship. They are our family and they will always have our back.
How would you compare your previous releases to the new album? With our previous EP Horrible Kids, we were settling in to our new sound and figuring out what worked and what didn't. But with Cinematics we really found our niche. We feel like our sound has matured and blossomed into exactly what we wanted. We found our real Set It Off sound with this new record.
You are working with VH1 Save The Music Foundation to help raise money for music programs in schools, how's that all going and how does it feel knowing you are helping fellow musicians? We actually just finished our presale but we were able to raise a lot of money for music education! If it wasn't for music programs in schools we wouldn't even be a band, so it is a cause that we were more than happy to fight for. It's a dying program in schools and it's incredibly underrated. Being able to be surrounded by music, and other people that love music, creates an environment that allows a musician to flourish.
How does it feel to have shared the stage with the likes of My Chemical Romance, A Day To Remember and Say Anything to name a few? We are so honored to have shared the stage with so many of our favorite bands. It's almost surreal to play shows with bands that we grew up listening to. It's also a great learning experience to watch bands like that and see how they perform and act at shows.
Your currently on tour in America, how's it going and what can fans attending your upcoming shows expect? Right now we're on tour with There For Tomorrow and Divided By Friday and we're having a blast. The shows have been great and we've had a great time hanging out with our friends and playing music. As far as what to expect, we are playing a few new songs off Cinematics and going as crazy as possible on stage!
Early next year you are touring Europe and the UK, so how excited are you about this? I cannot explain in words how excited we are to go to Europe with Yellowcard. It doesn't even feel real yet. We've never been overseas before so this is a monumental step forward for us as a band. We're so honored to be sharing the stage with Yellowcard. On top of all that, we get to meet all our European fans! If I could scream with excitement via text I would right now.
Given that your album is titled 'Cinematics', what film soundtrack do you think your music would be most suited to? A mix between The Dark Knight and a Tim Burton movie.
As a band that used Youtube to help gain a wider audience, what advice can you offer to all the aspiring bands and musicians out there? Promote your band as much as possible and talk to every person that comes to your show. If you want to build a fan base you have to hustle and make people notice your band. There are so many artists out there so you have to stand out by working harder than all of them.
This year marks five years as Me Vs Hero, with that in mind, how happy are you with where you are now as a band as well as what you have achieved so far? Five years! That's a long time to do anything for! We started out just wanting to play shows and tour with a hope of one day being able to do this a career. I'm really happy with where we are right now, we have to put a lot of time and effort into what we do, but its so rewarding when things come together.
Over the summer you toured Japan on the Beyond [the] Blue tour, so how was this experience for you, and do you have any particular highlights that you could share with us? Touring Japan was huge for us, it's the furthest we've been away from the motherland. It opened our eyes to the way touring should be done. The kids are crazy over there, they really see you as their idols and cry when you leave, which is a bit surreal to a band of our size. We went to a big arcade with the boys from WTP and signed up for this gamer card. We played this mental game that took up the whole floor! The Japanese know how to do arcades.
So guys, you are currently working on your next album, can you tell us about how it sounds so far, and maybe a bit about what fans can expect from the record? Yeah, infact I'm just on a train to Sheffield to lay down my vocals for the next few days. The record sounds great. As with most bands, we didn't want to just rewrite our last album, we've all matured since then and your music tastes change somewhat. It's still a pop punk / easy core record but it’s a lot more dynamic than the last. Some songs have gang shouts, some have gang singing, and some have none. We've written some long songs and some short ones. It's quite diverse.
Can you tell us about the recording process for this record so far? We're recording at steel city studios with Phil Gornell (bmth TM and FOH). We've known him for years, and got talking to him about the new record and he really wanted to be a part of it. It's unlike any recording we've done before, it's so relaxed. We did pre pro for the first time, and Phil really helped us develop the songs we had. He's been like an extra member of the band, and his ideas for the songs are as valid as ours.
What has been the hardest part of the recording process for you guys so far, and why? The hardest part is the time it takes and the tole and stress that can develop with relationships you have. I think that's just an underlying issue that most bands never bring up. We've had a breeze with the actual recording and tracking, aside from having to go through five bass guitars and and then getting most of that part re-recorded.
How did Simon Smith end up as the new drummer for Me Vs Hero, and how is he adjusting to being in the band so far? We got Steve jones in to replace Oli when he left a while back, and after some tours and festivals Steve backed out as he had other stuff going on. We heard about Si through our tour manager; his current band had just split up. When we approached him at first, he turned us down! He was working as a session drummer for an x factor finalist. I think it took about three days for him to change his mind and join us.
It seems like you have spent a lot of 2012 putting together your upcoming record, so with this in mind, how excited are you to get this record out there, as well as playing some more new tracks live? So excited you wouldn't believe! I think the new stuff sounds so much better than anything we already have and I hope fans will think so too. I'm way to bored of playing the same songs for five years.
You guys recently did a Q&A on your Facebook page, so as a band how important is it for you to have this kind of connection with your fans, and do you maybe believe that this is something other bands can do a bit more of? I think it's definitely something bands can do. Especially bigger bands on tour as there's so much time spent at gigs waiting to go on stage so it's a great time to interact with your fans.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with 'With The Punches' and what should attending fans expect? I'm a big fan of WTP, they are great musicians and the nicest guys. I was skyping with Shane and Jesse last night talking about the tour and they are stoked too. last time they tried to come here, they got denied, so we've made sure we have their visas sorted. Also, people should be expecting to hear some new tunes from us.
As ‘With The Punches’ are coming from the USA to tour with you guys, do you think that this means you will head over there shortly to tour with them, or just to tour in general? Funny you should say that, we just got a list of dates through for an east coast tour in february. we're so eager to get over to the states, and it’s looking like it could be a great tour.
Interview with Kristian Richards
Just recently you guys had a line up change, can you tell us a bit about this, and how you ended up with your new band members? Adam left for his own reasons which we were told about in advance so we were prepared and already had a new guitarist, Dave Harries lined up. Our drummer, Bobby, left unsuspectedly and hit us hard at the time as we were writing for our new EP. We were already booked into the studio so we had to get a fill in for it. It wasn't until after we recorded that we found our new drummer and close friend Andrew Robinson (Kob).
As a band that has suffered a line up change before, how difficult was this process for you, and what do you think you learnt the most from it? It was very difficult but also really good to see that we all cared about this enough to get through it and overcome such a shitty time. If anything it made us stronger as a band because of the timing it happened, we put all our emotion into the new record and came out with a result we were really happy with.
We've seen some pretty great pictures from your European tour, so can you tell us about how it went and what your particular highlights were from the tour? This was our first European tour so we didn't know what to expect. Every show was insane and to see people singing our songs in a different country was amazing. We were lucky enough to have great weather so we hit a few beaches along the way to shows. we had a friend with us to film footage for our new video for 'maps' which is full of good times. We have met so many new friends from touring Europe and we will definitely be going back soon.
What was it like to tour properly for the first time with your new band members? It's just a real breath of fresh air to see that everyone has a smile on their face and are all 100% committed. we feel like we are better than ever and Europe brought that out in us.
Your new EP has just been unleashed, can you tell us what fans can expect from the EP and maybe tell us how it compares to your prior release 'Vices' ? Well compared to "Vices" it definitely has more emotion. Itâ€™s not as polished, but thatâ€™s exactly what we wanted, more grit. The lyrics are darker and also show what we've been through till now. It's a stepping stone to a new beginning.
What was it like to have some new band members involved in the writing and recording experience, and how was this whole process for you? Dave is a great guitarist and writer so to have him on board was great, as he inspired us a lot. Dave and I wrote a few songs and so did Tom which is different because before it never really happened like that. It was good to see us all writing together as a band as we got to bounce ideas across to each other rather than individually punishing our brains.
Your video for Maps is great, can you tell us about how it came together, and what you wanted it to show to your fans? Well we took our close friend Mike on the European tour and he basically filmed us all as we normally are, a bunch of idiots abroad. We had always had the idea to film a video like this at some point and we felt like it was the right time and right song to do it for. We wanted to show people that we are still here and happier than ever.
How did you end up doing a split 7" with Monuments and how exciting was this process for you guys? They just emailed us about it so we checked them out and we liked the idea. We released a split with fireworks a few years back when we started out and made a lot of friends and fans from it so we were more than happy to do the same with Monuments. Hopefully we will get to tour with them over here or Australia.
Just recently Le Pub had to organize a campaign to save it self from closing down, so with this in mind, how important is this venue to you, and how important is it do you think that the local scene and community should contribute to keep venues like this open? Ever since I can remember all my best memories are in this place. If it weren't for this place bands like Us, Kids in Glass Houses, The Blackout, Attack Attack, to name a few, wouldn't be the same, as it has inspired us all. All my friends drink at this bar so to see it go would be a real shame. The same as TJ's, It gave birth to us all and the least we could do is give a little back.
What do you want 2013 to hold for Save Your Breath? We are due to release a new album at the beginning of the year so tours/festivals are to follow and hopefully we will branch out to Europe/US/Australia. We hope to see you all there!
Interview with Angela Muir
Can you tell us about the formation of The Echo and The Always? Four out of five of us used to be in Sleepy Panda Club, which is a band that had run its course over a year ago. John and I met in uni, when Panda was first forming, and then we met Laura when we saw her perform with Shadow Theory and convinced her to front the band. Earlier this year Dean – the other half of Shadow Theory came on board as the bassist. In June the original Panda drummer left to pursue other things, and that’s when Matt joined us. He was working on a solo project remixing Jingle Cats in his parent’s garage, but we convinced him to take a bit of a break and join the band. That’s the point when it felt right to change the name from Sleepy Panda Club. I am the only original member left from that band, and for a long time now it hasn’t felt right wearing that name – that name was chosen by someone else, and represents a sound and an identity that didn’t really resonate with any of us. Once we settled into this line up, and recorded these most recent tracks we sat down together and came up with a name that we were all happy with.
How did you get to the band name The Echo and The Always and what does this name mean to you? It took us several months of discussion before we settled on the name. We considered hundreds of different names, and we were usually faced with a situation where one or two people would absolutely love a name, and someone else really wasn’t keen. We chose the name the day we finished recording ‘For the Ground’. We locked ourselves away in a pub on a sunny Sunday afternoon, refusing to re-emerge until we had a new name. We’re very democratic people, so it was a very civilized and logical process. The name captures an idea that when you create a sound and put it out there it lives on forever, and not just in a fluffy metaphysic way, but quite literally. You put a song online and it can spread all over the place finding new life in loads of different ways. Plus, the name has a fancy ring to it.
So how has this fresh new start been for you guys, and can you tell us about how you feel as a band compared to the later days of when you were under the title Sleepy Panda Club? Honestly, we couldn’t be happier. We finally feel like everything is in place and we’re all on the same page. Panda was pretty tumultuous for a while because of clashes in identity, process and ego. We hit what I suppose you’d call ‘rock bottom’ last year and those of us who stuck around were bound and determined to keep the band going. Looking back, it’s been a fantastic process because we’ve all grown as people and musicians. We’re now in a place where we can write as a collective without worrying about stepping on toes or crossing any boundaries. We all bring ideas in that we play around with, and as a band we turn them into songs, so not one individual is more responsible for song writing than another. We all have the same sense of ownership, and it works really well. It’s really a brilliant place to be in.
For readers that are unfamiliar with you guys, can you tell them what your influences are as a band, and maybe what type of music they can expect to hear from you? This is a tough one to answer, because collectively we have a massive range of influences. All of our songs are so completely different, which isn’t because we’re trying to find our sound but because we’re comfortable not having a defined sound that we have to adhere to. One day we might write a dark dance song, then we might write an ethereal acoustic song, then we might write a waltz. That being said, you can probably hear the influence of the Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Brand New, You Say Party!, Brian Fallon…and maybe a little bit of Jem and the Holograms. But as cheesy as it sounds, we’re more influenced by each other than by anyone else. The elements that seem to be consistent throughout are that we have layers of guitar, bass, vocal, synth and trumpet melodies playing off each other. It sounds a bit pretentious, but in many ways our songs are like mini-indie baroque symphonies. That’s not because they’re masterpieces (not by a long shot), but because of the way multi-instrumental melodies and motifs run throughout.
How did you end up working with Todd Campbell, and how was this whole experience for you guys? We had been working with Frank Naughton at Ty Drwg for a while, and we’re really happy with him, but we thought with a new band on the horizon it might be a good idea to branch out for a bit of a change. Friends of ours from Ocean Red (now Heists) had recorded with Todd and highly recommended him. We got in touch and next thing we knew we were in his studio in Llantrisant. He’s an absolute legend. He’s the perfect type of producer for us because he completely respects our vision for a song and what we’ve already set out to do, but he also offers loads of really good advice because he knows what he’s doing. He also has really high standards, and knows how to get the best from you just by pushing through. There’s no time for insecurity or BS – you just get on with it. He’s also just a really, really nice guy. We had a lot of fun in the studio, and somehow managed to finish recording our tracks early, which is a testament to Todd more than anything else.
You recently released your first single 'For The Ground' so with this in mind what can you tell us about this track, and how happy have you been with the response from your followers so far? This song started to take shape while we were still Panda, but it’s come into its own in the new band. Musically, it was built up from a riff that John had been working on. Lyrically, it’s quite a personal song for Laura. She wrote the words not long after losing her grandfather last year, who she was really close to. It’s a bit heavier, darker and less dream-pop than some of our other stuff, and it captures some of our heavier influences. We really weren’t sure what to expect, but the response has been fantastic. People really seem to like it, which of course makes us happy. It will be interesting to see what people think of the next few tracks we release, because they’ll be even more of a departure.
You guys recently performed at the Oxjam Takeover in Cardiff, so how was this whole experience for you, and what was it like to be involved with such a great line up? Oxjam was fantastic – to be in a line up with The People The Poet, Sen Segur and Boy Royals was pretty fantastic, and it was our first time playing a headline slot too. Unfortunately for us we were on at the same time as The People The Poet. We knew we’d miss their set, and assumed we wouldn’t have much of an audience given how new this incarnation is, and how popular they are, so we were pleasantly surprised when a decent crowd drifted in and stayed for our set. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
As you guys come from the heart of Cardiff, can you tell us a bit about the upcoming alternative Welsh music scene there, and what it is you love so much about it? There’s so much happening in Cardiff all the time. There’s always someone playing somewhere, and the calibre of musicians is incredibly high. It’s concentrated in Cardiff because it’s the cultural capital, but all across Wales there are some stunning new bands. Cut Ribbons and Paper Factory from West Wales, Masters in France from North Wales...and those are just some of the English language bands. There are loads of brilliant Welsh language bands too. Just look at all the contenders for the Welsh Music Prize this year (Well done Future of the Left), and look at how much Swn has grown. As for Cardiff-based bands, some new ones on our radar are Neotropics, who we’ll be playing with at the Buffalo Bar on November 28th along with Hullabaloo. Race Horses are a well-established Cardiff band – kind of like a quirkier, edgier Welsh Bombay Bicycle Club. That’s a crap comparison...but you should check them out. Big Colours are a really solid indie pop band that shimmer with a soft surf vibe – highly recommend them. Another really good band is Golden Fable, although I’m not sure if they’re Cardiff based. I caught them at Swn in 2009 when they went by the name Tim and Sam’s Tim and Sam Band with Tim and Sam. They’re really classy and refined, epic yet subtle; musically a band like that puts us to shame. They’re well worth checking out. I could go on and on...There’s loads going on here, so if you’re anywhere near Cardiff and have functioning ears you really don’t have an excuse not to treat them to some new music.
What can we expect from you guys in 2013? Definitely more Todd Campbell. We’ll be recording with him again in November, and hopefully we can book a few more sessions with him in the New Year. Our goals are to release an EP early in 2013, keep writing, recording and gigging, and hopefully build a bigger fan base while we’re at it. It would be fantastic to play Focus Wales again, and if we’re lucky, Swn too.
Interview with Mike Scott
Can you tell us about the formation of Lay It On The Line, and a bit about the sound our readers can expect from your band? Well from my end I heard that a couple of the guys were jamming for a beatdown band and I fancied a piece. One practice in and it was pretty obvious that it wasn't going to be a beatdown band, but it ended up being nice and abrasive. I guess if you like melodic hardcore played by fans of Dio, Machine Head and maybe a bit of Cattle Decapitation, then we are your band.
As you guys all come from different bands, what was it like to find your sound as Lay It On The Line? It was just completely organic. Matt plays drums like he's in an 80s thrash band, Tristan plays bass like he wishes he could be in a Nu-Metal band from a decade ago, Matt plays guitar like he was in The Effort and I just shout like what comes out naturally. I guess we play the kind of music we all agree on - which definitely isn't a lot.
How did you go about picking 'And They Stole The TV...' as a single, and what else can you tell us about this track? Well it's the lead track off our first EP - the EP is a concept record about the old head teacher of our school he was gay, but couldn't admit it due to the situation he was in. Noone found out until after he retired - when a rent boy he didn't pay trashed his house and beat him senseless. It's about his story. Poor guy.
Can you tell us about the themes and influences that run through your newest EP release ‘A Lesson In Personal Finance’? Well it's about the way that society dictated to that old head teacher guy - if he just was allowed to admit his natural urges, he could have just had normal relationships. It's more subtle politics than a lot of our friends' bands or our old bands, but it's there nonetheless.
What was the recording process like for your latest EP and what was it like to get back in the studio once more to record not just as a musician, but in a new band? Well we have settled on John Hannon. He's a good guy - recorded a lot of great bands. He’s a Really easy going guy, he has a great studio, he works quickly and knows the kind of sound we are after. It's pretty effortless recording with him - more like a fun few days than work. It's different from recording acoustic solo stuff, which is what I have been doing for the last couple of years - way more rewarding. It's the most amazing feeling hearing the drums and guitars coming back through £'000s worth of speakers. A feeling you don't get too often.
How did you end up working with John Hannon on this release, and what's he like to work with in the studio? John is a legend - Jon from the Filaments put us in touch actually, but his CV is amazing. He has recorded so many of my favourite UK artists from the last few years. He recorded Kids Near Water - which probably doesn't mean a lot to a lot of people, but I grew up on those guys. So yeah, awesome. And he get's the best out of you, no question.
What's it been like to perform live with bands like Ignite & Death By Stereo since you started out earlier this year, and what do you think you learnt the most from these performances? I'm not sure I learnt a lot. I mean it's an honour to play with bands like that, but I mean, those kind of bands are preaching to the converted - they are playing to their hard earned fans - it's different being a support act. Not even necessarily the tour support. Just a band on a show. I know how I want my band to sound and play, so watching a band as perfect onstage as Death By Stereo is an honour, but not necessarily a lesson.
So how happy are you with the response you have been getting so far, I mean we've seen that you've already got some support from Mike Davies!? Yeah it's been amazing and it feels really good. Mike has been really good to us - he played a demo track before we even played a show because he's been good to us in the past with our old bands. He's a man who properly has his ear to the ground. I just hope it keeps going you know? As we enjoy everything that gets thrown at us.
We've read that you guys are working on your first debut album already, so with this in mind, how is that coming along, and what can fans expect from this release? Well it's a mini album, but it will be surfacing at the start of 2013 I'd expect..8 or 9 tracks. It's a concept record about a guy who went mad whilst trying to sail around the world on his own. It's a true story. Nice and dark. A zine said we sound like Snapcase with elements of Maiden. I'd like to think that is EXACTLY how it will sound.
What else does 2013 hold for Lay It On The Line? The record, plenty of gigs and trying to get around as much as we can really! Nothing with genuine graft.
Interview with Sam Douglas
You released a single in August, called ‘Death Rattle’ along with a B-side called ‘Maps’. How has the reaction been so far from fans? Really good, i don't think we could have asked for much more. The reaction when we play that song live now gets better with every show, which is always a good sign!
How does it feel to receive airplay? ‘Death Rattle’ has had a fair few spins on-air, including Fearne Cotton’s Radio 1 show! It's a surreal experience to say the least when you're driving on your way back from Tesco and you turn on Radio 1 and you hear your song playing. I don't think i could ever get used to it!
How did your recent tour go with Reckless Love and how excited are you for your upcoming tour with Canterbury? I write this literally the day after we finished the Reckless Love tour! It was a cool experience, it was almost a challenge! Reckless obviously have the whole Motley/Kiss vibe about them, the long hair glam metal and then you get us playing pop rock songs. It was a laugh watching the audience look at you like "hey, what’s this, these dont look like bon jovi" but then as the set goes on the arms unfold and the dirty looks turned to nodding heads and in the end the audience actually quite liked our set. This is exactly why we did the tour, to play to people who would never give this band a look in the first place. I think this tour is the most fans we've gained on a tour to date! Saying all of that, i literally can't wait to get on the road with Canterbury. Collectively between us all their new album is our favorite UK album of this year, so the fact i'll get to watch them live night after night is going to be sweet for us all!
Your debut album is tentatively scheduled for release early next year. How come it’s taken so long to get it out in the open? It must be frustrating to sit on the album when you want it out there! Frustrating yes, but this has definitely been the best way we could have done it! The radio/tv stuff has helped us out no end, along with the extra tours/festivals we could squeeze in before the album drops. We've probably doubled the people interested in our band from that time. I can't wait to get it out there though, i just hope people will like it as much as we do!
What are you hoping will come out of the release of your album? Who knows, it's hard to say really! I just hope it pushes us onto the next step, whatever that may be! We've had a good ride in terms of time and progression in this band so far, and I hope this album can push us on even higher! Overall i just hope people like it!
What are you wishing to achieve in 2013? Who knows! I just hope we keep going in the right direction.
Interview with Tim Lawrence
How did your recent tour with Landscapes go, and do you have any particular highlights from the tour that you can share with us? We had a blast touring with our new friends in Landscapes. I'd say the highlights for us were the London homecoming show, the two days we held Mart (Landscapes guitarist) hostage in our van and mine and Ollie's rap battle in Manchester against 'Blizzard' of youtube 'Don't Flop' fame (We lost).
How did you go about picking 'Changing The Key' as the first single to release from 'Miles Away' and how happy have you been with the response to this track so far? In the studio as we were putting down all the vocals I think we watched the songs grow and change as they were being recorded. For all of us including our producer Oz 'Changing The Key' stood out as a good all round indication of where the album was going. We had never intended to use that song as a single but we were all so pleased with how it turned out it just seemed right to go with that as the lead single.
What are the themes and influences that run through your latest record 'Miles Away' ? Basically the record is about our lives over the last two years of touring, being away from home, loved ones. It is about the break down in relationships, the risks and gambles we took leaving full time employment to do what we love doing most, which is being out on the road and playing music.
How did you get to the record title 'Miles Away' ? There is a track on the record also called 'Miles Away' and with the themes that run throughout the record it just seemed to fit as a title for the whole album as well.
How would you say this record compares to 'We Loved, We Lost' ? We have certainly taken a step in a different direction with this new record. We wanted to make something different, and introduce new ideas into what we do as a band. We were all so proud of 'WLWL' and so we wanted/needed to make sure we upped our game on 'Miles Away'. You can definitely hear it is still us but there is definitely more of a diverse range of styles and song writing on the album.
How did you end up working with Oz Craggs (Feed The Rhino) on this record, and what did you enjoy the most about working with him? Oz has been a friend of ours for years. He has watched us develop as a band and he has come to countless shows. He understood exactly what we wanted to achieve. It was in fact him that approached us about recording the record and it just seemed right for us to go with him. I'd say the environment, attention to detail and input were what we all enjoyed the most. He has a very professional attitude in the studio and he pushed us hard to get the best out of each of us. It was a very constructive month for all parties.
What do you like so much about working with Wolf At Your Door Records and what's it been like to work with them leading up to the release of your new record? AWAYD have been great to us from the start. They have supported us all the way through the last two years and have been an extremely large part of everything we have achieved. The team at Wolfie HQ are amazing and we couldn't have done it without them
What was it like to headline the Islington Garage on October 22nd, and how have your new songs gone down live? It was amazing to see so many friendly faces at one show, people had travelled miles to come to the show, and that is an amazing feeling when you see those faces. The rest of the bands were all amazing as well (Landscapes, Tu Amore and Insurgents). The new songs have gone down brilliantly live so far, it is always a good indication when you see people getting into them, by nodding their heads and singing along.
This summer you got to perform on the Reading/Leeds introducing stage, so how was this whole experience for you guys, and what do you think you learnt the most from being a part of such a huge festival? The whole weekend was amazing, we were well looked after and played to two amazing crowds. We were blown away by the response we got and I think we just learnt to go out at events like that and enjoy them. You are living not only your own dream but that of most other music fans dreams as well. Thatâ€™s why it was important for us to go down in to the crowd at the end of our set and talk to the people that watched us.
How do you feel the upcoming alternative UK music scene has changed or progressed since you first started out? We all started being in bands and playing shows nearly ten years ago so the scene has changed a lot. It is definitely different now with social media sites. The competition is higher and it can be more difficult to get people to your shows because there are so many shows going on and so many bands. This can only be a positive thing for the music scene with such an influx of creativity but with the recession in full swing getting bums on seats can be difficult because people can't afford tickets. It is all about timing and hard work. Also promoters need to start promoting again as well, because creating a Facebook event is not all you need to do to make a show a success.
What does 2013 hold for Hildamay? Lots of exciting things, which we can't say too much about right now...
What was it like to play Warped Tour this year, and are there any particular highlights from the tour that you can share with us? Warped Tour was a different animal this year, and I mean that in the best way possible. The amount of camaraderie was unlike anything we had ever experienced. We became really good friends with bands that aren't quite in our genre, which is unusual because we never really have the chance to meet bands unless we are touring with them, in which case they are usually within our genre. Warped is so good for that reason, you meet so many new friends, it's like speed dating...but over the course of two months... So maybe not really speed dating at all.
As well as Warped Tour you got to hit this years Reading/Leeds festival in the UK, how was this whole experience for you, and what do you think you learnt the most from it? I don't think I'll ever get used to playing festivals such as Reading / Leeds, they always seem so surreal. It's such a rare opportunity because there are literally tens of thousands of people listening to your band, many of which have never heard or seen you live before. We try very hard to capture that audience and reel them in so that next time we come through the UK, they are in the crowd for us. Itâ€™s not the easiest process as many of them are too hammered to even listen, but damn it we try.
Can you tell us a bit about why you left Interscope Records, and then how you ended up back with Hopeless Records? To put it in the easiest terms, it was a relationship that just wasn't working. Interscope has supported many artists in a very positive, productive way, but that doesn't mean that it is the right home for everyone. By the time we decided to leave the label, almost everyone that had been interested in signing us and working with us had either been let go or reassigned. This left us in a position of limbo, where we really weren't on anyones radar, so when we asked to part ways it was an easy decision for both of us. Hopeless Records was always on our minds, so when we had a chance to resign with them, it took almost no thought on our end. We were just elated that they were as excited as we were to be back!
As you guys were actually briefly unsigned, what was this whole experience like for you? I mean were you ever worried about what the next step would be at the time? It was actually a refreshing experience for us, and it came at a perfect time. We were just about to record our new record, and we didn't have any distractions or pre-requisites that needed to be filled for the record. So it turned out to be a record that we made strictly for ourselves, no A&R's suggesting a direction, no label to show demos to, just our own expectations that we needed to meet. Throughout the process, it seemed like most people were worried all around us about if we would "bounce back" after Dirty Work, all along we were just so excited about the new music we were making.
As Hopeless Records put out some of your older releases, what's it been like so far to be back with them? It's been just like it was before, an extremely positive and gratifying experience. They expect us to work hard, and we expect the same from them. We snapped right back into our old groove, there was no memorizing names or job titles, we knew exactly who they were and they knew exactly who we were. More importantly though, they knew the record we needed to make, and agreed that we had made it.
How did you end up working with Mike Green on this record, and what's he like to work with? We had done a handful of songs with Mike on Dirty Work, and they ended up being our favorites on the record. So when it came time to pick a producer for the new record, we sat back and discussed our many options. The main objective was to find someone that had the same goal in mind for the record, no secret agenda or ideas of how we should sound. We knew exactly what sort of record we wanted to make, and Mike wanted that as much as we did. He pushes us all way past our comfort zones, whether creatively or fundamentally, we all grew as musicians in the studio because of him.
We've read that your new album is a mix between 'So Wrong, It's Right, Nothing Personal and Dirty Work' so when you entered the studio was this your aim to create this kind of sound, or was this mix of album influences more of a natural process? Generally speaking, when you make a new record you are influenced by a certain band or artist that you look up to. This time around, we looked at our favorite and least favorite parts of our previous records, and wrote songs based on the high points. We learned a lot about our own songwriting by doing that, and it helped us connect with our fans on a level that we hadn't in a while.
Can you tell us about the special guests on your new record? We sought out all of them, and are extremely thankful that they lent their talents for the record. Lyrically speaking, 'Outlines' is about leaving your mark on the music scene while you have the chance. Jason was in an incredible band, that permanently left their footprint on the genre while only releasing one record. His voice was perfect for the song, and it was amazing to hear him recorded again. Cassadee had always sung with us live whenever we toured with Hey Monday, and her voice meshes absolutely perfectly with Alex's. So for the higher harmonies on this record, she was our first pick and it turned out amazing. Anthony has one of the most recognizable voices I have ever heard, and there is a certain rasp that belongs in a song like So Long Solider. It is an unusual feature in that instead of singing a verse or a bridge like most featured artists, he sings the entire song with Alex.
What do you want â€˜Don't Panicâ€™ to do for the representation of All Time Low? Mostly, we want Don't Panic to represent All Time Low. We've had fans that have been listening to us since 2006 tell us that if Don't Panic was the first record they had heard by us, they would still be as big of a fan as they are currently. This is the ultimate compliment for a band that has been together for close to ten years, and it makes us feel like we've accomplished what we set out to do: make an All Time Low record that represents the best aspects of all our previous records, while setting a high bar for future ones.
What do you want 2013 to hold for All Time Low? Tour Tour Tour! We are so excited to play the new songs all across the world, and are going to spend the bulk of next year doing so. It is extremely gratifying seeing people singing along to our new record and telling us how much each song means to them. So hopefully we can get around the world next year, so that all of our fans get a taste of the new record live!
Interview with Tobin
So Jacoby Shaddix recently suffered from a nodule on his left vocal chord, can you tell us about how this whole harsh experience was for the band, and how great it now feels to have everything back to normal? Yeah he’s just had surgery and now he’s recovered 110%, so he’s all good. I talked to him last week and he sounded good. It was so bad and you could tell by just hearing his speaking voice that his vocal chords were damaged, as it sounded like fucking sandpaper. Now it’s smooth like butter, he actually told me that he’s been warming-up and singing and he said that his range has opened up even more, so that’s a good sign. It was basically one of those things from stress and overuse of the vocal chords. It caught up with him, because we went straight from the studio to touring and basically we noticed that when we got back out on the road that it wasn’t getting any better. We took a couple of weeks off, but it wasn’t getting any better and we were like “fuck, this is something that’s going to need surgery.”
Before this happened you were on the Uproar Festival with bands like Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind etc. How were these shows? It was a good tour and we were totally bummed out that we had to leave but it was basically getting to the point where he had no voice, we were having to cut songs and leave the set early. Instead of trying to get through the tour and damaging his voice anymore, we had to make the decision, because after the surgery you need six to eight weeks recovery, so we said “let’s do it now and when the record comes out we’ll go out and fucking slam it!”.
You decided to release 'Still Swingin' as the first single from ‘The Connection’, can you tell us why you wanted to showcase this song first from the record, and how happy you have been with the response so far? I don’t choose the singles really, I’m just thinking about all of the songs. I want a group of songs that represent the band, that I feel are strong. As far as ‘Still Swingin’ goes, it’s probably the most different song on the record. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but I think it was chosen as the single for the record because it’s probably the most energetic song on the record, and it has an uplifting, old-school hip-hop vibe to it. The lyrics are like “we’re back, we’re here, we’re still staying strong and we’re not going away”. Like one of those oldschool hip-hop records that’s like “I’m back!”. It just had a certain kind of style and swagger to it. We’re actually shooting two videos in the next couple of weeks for two more songs, so we got a couple more singles coming out soon.
The video for 'Still Swingin' is fantastic, can you tell us how it all came together, and a bit about the concept behind the video? There really wasn’t one. We were just taking a light-hearted approach to it. Jacoby’s son, who is seven, Jagger, was like “I have an idea for the video, it’s going to be zombies and we’re gonna beat them up and we’ll be the last one’s surviving and we’ll just be swingin’ bats at these zombies and killin’ them” and we were like “yeah, alright man, you got it”.
For fans that haven't picked up the record just yet, what can they expect from it, and can you tell us about how it compares to ‘Time for Annihilation’? Well I think five new songs we recorded Time for Annihilation were a good seg-way into where we were going for this new record, by introducing a little bit of those electronic elements we were adding to the sound and by also being more focused. The same thing we always do, hooks and anthems, that’s what we go for – sing-alongs – just a good song, we don’t try and play too many notes, and we don’t try and jerk-off musically, we just try and keep it focused and simple whilst writing good songs that keep the grove going.
Do you think it’s thematically different to any previous Papa Roach albums or in the same vein? I think it’s a very good representation of the band that we are now and the way we were in the past, just the energy, and the spit-fire vibe. We’re getting stronger melodically and lyrically, and really we just want a song to have a pulse to it. For me personally, I constantly want everything to be cohesive and flow, I want to know that you’re going to sing along to this part, and that you’re also going to jump up and down. That is really the whole point of the record, just to have a connection with the crowd and I think we did a pretty good job of that. We’re a touring band and we play live shows all over the world so we just wanted to make it fun and enjoyable. But we wanted our music to speak and connect at the same time and so we had to write that right on the record.
Papa Roach has been together since 1993, how do you keep motivated making music every year? What keeps you in the game? I think it’s just about maintaining the drive and that passion for what we do, whether it’s writing songs or performing live. Even before we get into the studio and we actually have an idea, we’re just thinking how it is when you play the songs live, for example when you perform at those festivals in the UK and there’s thousands of people there and they’re jumping up and down! We’re super stoked just to see people getting into it and we try and write a song that makes people want to do that – that in its self is inspiring. I think real life trials and tribulations, shit that just happens to you – like a lot of personal things that are going on in Jacoby’s life – I think that’s when the music and the lyrics, and the story and reality collide, you’ve got a recipe for a good song and it’s our job just to tell the story and be real with it. We have the opportunity to make music for a living, so if we’re going to be making a loud-ass noise, then we better be saying something. If we just did it for all the wrong reasons, it just wouldn’t be right.
How did you go about deciding to record 'The Connection' in your hometown studio? Was it a little distracting for you, or was it more natural? I wouldn’t say it was really distracting. I think it was really conducive to the whole creativity, because not only did we not have the pressures of being in a thousand-dollar studio in which everyday we were getting charged, we were using our own gear and could do whatever we wanted to. If we wanted to just hang out and listen to music, or hang out with our friends and drink or go out to a bar and watch a band play and be inspired by that, then it was cool. We did that a lot, because we weren’t forcing it. When these songs came to us we knew that we’d hit our stride and then go from there. It was pretty long, we wrote a lot of music where we were like “this is cool, but it’s not great” and I think lyrically Jacoby was trying to find his place. He was searching for the right thing to connect with, he had a lot of personal substance abuse and relationship issues that he was dealing with and I think it was inevitable that at first he didn’t know what to write about, but when all that shit started to happen he was like “this is just going to be my therapy, I’m sorry guys, I can’t just think of some mysterious shit to write I’ve just got to write about my life right now, it’s what I do and what people connect with and we were like “yeah, fucking do it!”.
What was it like to work with James Michael and John Feldmann on 'The Connection' and what influence did they have on the recording process? James Michael did most of the record, with the exception of one or two songs that were added at the very last minute. He was like the fifth member, because he was a friend of ours first of all and I think that helped a lot, as he believed in us. He was very into the idea of us making our own record, in our own studio and he was the one guy who was willing to go in there and make it happen. From the initial conversation two years ago when we said “we bought this studio in downtown Sacramento, we just need to put the right gear in it and we want to do our own record” and he said “yeah, you guys should totally do it, you’re at this place in your career where you know what to do, you know what you like, and you should have total control to do that whilst saving a ton of money.” We were like “cool, do you want to come down and help us out?” he said absolutely, he was serious, and he lived in that studio with us for four or five months, and stuck by us until the end. He knows the band, he’s a fan, he’s a friend and he’s a great musician, and I think he bought out the best of keeping Papa Roach as Papa Roach along with the essence of the band. He also understood how we were trying to branch out, and he bought the best out of us in that way. We didn’t need a producer who was going to tell us “hey, this is how I make records and I’m going to put you through the same machine I put every band through”. Feldmann, was great to work with. He’s so fast and hyper, and I’ve never worked with anyone like that before, it’s hilarious, he’s so energetic and we worked so fast. I came in with the idea for a song and we threw up a click-track, a tempo, and we were like “let’s make a song we can jump to,” and John and I were jumping up and down, and then boom the music was done! He was like “cool, let’s get it done, what’s the song going to be about? Where are the vocals?” and I was like “holy shit, we just wrote a song in like one minute” and it was cool to have that, because the whole record was very laxidasical and the fact that we took our time and then once we got in with John, we could do something different. He just worked so fast, but it was cool, and he was entertaining.
What do you want 2013 to do for Papa Roach? I just want to tour the world and have everyone singing along to our music. I just want to have that connection with everybody and I want to make a lot of new fans. I think we have a great rock record on our hands and I just want everyone to acknowledge it and of course, I just want to have a good time!
E L G N I S W E N ’ Y R U J ‘THE W O N T U O
AND N O Z A M A , N ITUNES O E L B A L I A AV
Your awesome new record ‘Fight or Flight’ has been out now for a little under a month – how has it been received? If I’m judging by audiences reactions to playing new music, it’s been great. I’ve been noticing even before the album got released, as we started playing a lot of new music live and I’m used to going to shows and when the band play new music that’s when the excitement dips a little bit, and having done that ourselves (we’ve played new music at shows plenty of times) you kind of want to drip feed the audience new music sometimes, this time around we were playing pretty large chunks of new music well before the record came out, partly because the reaction was really good. If we’re going by the audience reaction, it’s been great. I don’t really know how else to judge how it’s been going, but we’ve got Facebook and Twitter stuff, and of course that’s all your own fans anyway, but sure, they seem to love it!
We read an interview where you said you “no longer feel the need to satisfy others” – what made you have this realization and how is this reflected in the record? I don’t think it’s more this need to satisfy people, as much as the concern of whether they were satisfied or not.
Was it at all related to your departure from Island Records? Well there was always a little part of you that wants to make the record company smile and kind of be on your side. I think we’ve dropped a lot of that burden, that “what if people don’t like it? What if it’s too mellow? Or too heavy? Or what if they don’t get it?”. I think that’s more what it is, I think we said “fuck it”, honestly I think it just comes with age. Even if I was an accountant somewhere, I’d be going through the same type of maturation – thinking you know what, I don’t care if people don’t like my shoes, or whatever it is. You get to the point where you know who you are, you know what you’ve done and you’re confident in what you do, and you just don’t care anymore. I think that’s what I was trying to say.
Not to dwell too much on your departure from Island Records, but can you tell us how you came to this decision after over a decade with the label? It was two things really. When we signed in 2000, there was a certain group of people starting at the top and the whole team (including the A&R guy) that really believed in us and that was the company we signed onto. Then, the revolving door that is the music industry started, by mid-2004, L.A. Reid had taken over and had pretty much started to replace everyone on our team. It was a different team and they were all great people, but it wasn’t the same company. We could tell in the way they went about promoting things and the philosophy as far as artist development, it was a totally new thing that really wasn’t our cup of tea. Then, after the first two albums under what we originally signed with, and the two newer albums in which we were under this new model, we were really unsatisfied. Ironically the label came to us and said “alright, we’re up for album five, but before we do this album we want to totally restructure your deal,” and it was an insult to be honest. As far as we were concerned we weren’t asking for anything more, we just wanted them to go through with us what they had agreed to, but they just wanted to slash everything. We weren’t happy with everything that happened over the last five or six years and honestly we think we can do it better elsewhere.
What was it like to record the album after releasing your greatest hits, also do you think that maybe this mark a new chapter or rebirth for Hoobastank? I think purely on a band level, yeah in some sense, because we’ve been playing with our bass player Jesse for a little over three years and he’s a member now, and not a hired guy. There was this two-record span where all of the writing was done with me playing the bass and sure I can play, but I’m not a bass player so then we’d have a studio bass player come in and fill in the gaps during the recording. When you write a song you can play it from the start to finish and you can sing all the right lyrics and all the right melodies, but at that point the song is not done. You go out on tour and you start playing the song and it evolves, over the next few weeks or months, however long it is, that song that you can play from start to finish in January sounds like a completely different song by June and then it grows into what it really is. For two records we never got to do that because I was the bass player. With this record, it was a return to how we were used to writing, as an actual four piece, where we would write a song and then we would all let it evolve into its final state. Even though there were some songs that we’re really proud of from the last couple of records, I listen back and think “man, what if? What if we had had time to let these songs grow?”, it might have been better.
You recorded the new record with Gavin Brown, he’s worked with some big acts like Billy Talent, so do you think he left his influence on the record, and how was it to work with him? Yeah for sure, I think any producer you work with will put their finger-prints on it. It was interesting, and it was different, we’ve worked with Howard Benson for the last three records, so anyone would have been a different experience to what we’re used to. We wanted to make sure, first-and-foremost, before we even started to write for this record, that it was going to be different. We used a different producer, and we recorded in Toronto, which is the first time we’ve recorded anything outside of Los Angeles, and even in the writing process when we would write material and think “that’s great,” we’d think “maybe that sounds great because we’re so used to doing it that way? Let’s do some songs that don’t sound as great to us and see what happens from that point.” Gavin has a totally different approach than Howard Benson, as he has a much more hands-on approach with the band aspect. He was there pretty much the whole time for Dan’s guitar playing and the drumming, as well as the bass playing. Ironically, probably the least input was put into the vocals, which with Howard Benson it’s the exact opposite. So I would say that Howard Benson definitely focuses on the vocals and the lyrics, whereas Gavin is much more “let’s craft music stuff and you can sing whatever you want on it”.
Do you think the new record has a much more musical approach as well as some more freedom lyrically? Honestly, I think both. It gave the other three guys a little more space to explore, and on my end the leash was loosened up a little bit.
What was the inspiration behind the record title? Well originally it was just a working title for the song ‘No Destination’. But the more we get asked about it, to me it’s a point - if you’re saying that this album is kind of like a rebirth, then maybe it is? We came to the point where we thought “do we fight on or do we retreat?”. It’s not something that I sit around and think about, we were never going to end it all. But on a surface level, when I see the title I do actually think about that now, as in do we fight on or give up.
What does the future hold for Hoobastank? Well in a year’s time I see myself having played already a year’s plus worth of shows – we did take a lot of time in between the last two records and the music for Fight or Flight has been completed for quite a while, so we do have a substantial amount of new material already. I don’t want to say that it’s ready to go, but it is at least further along than in any other record cycle.
So, we can definitely expect more new material from Hoobastank? Yeah, you know what, I think that would be the easiest prediction. But, for the most part I’m kind of a guy who says “let’s see what happens,” I don’t know where we’re going to be in five years time or what’s going to happen, but hopefully it will be good things!
Interview with Sergio Vega
You recently finished a short tour with System of a Down, how was this experience for you, and do you have any particular highlights that you could share with us? That was a really cool run. It was too short though! A highlight for me was playing Jones Beach in New York. Rain started pouring down during our set in a way that made the experience seem even more magical.
You've been performing a couple of new tracks live, so with that in mind, what has this been like for you guys, and how happy have you been with the response from your audiences so far? At this point we're playing as many as four new songs on the current tour we're on with Scars on Broadway. The connectivity the internet can provide is pretty cool, because weâ€™ve noticed that a lot of people at the show are familiar with the tracks already and it also seems that they are stoked to see the tracks live.
How did you go about deciding that 'Tempest' would be the first official single to release from 'Koi No Yokan' and what's the response been like from your fans so far for this track? Basically it's a track that both we as a group and our label we're stoked on as a single so we went with it. It's also been a lot of fun to play live!
How did you get to the title 'Koi No Yokan' (We've read that it sort of means 'love at first sight') for your new record, and what do you want it to mean to your fans? It means, in short, a premonition of love which is somewhat different than the feeling of falling in love at first sight. Our friend Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan had it on a list of potential song titles, and then Chino saw it and sent it our way. It resonated with us because it sounds and looks cool and it also has a great meaning. As well as this we had been playing around with terms in other languages already so it was great to have it come our way via a good friend.
Can you tell us about the main themes and influences that run through your upcoming album 'Koi No Yokan'? There really aren't any! We all listen to so much music and get inspired from so many different things that we don't enter the studio writing with any palate to speak of. We just love playing and enjoy banging out ideas together. Our only criteria is that we're all stoked on the track.
Chino Moreno has stated that the new record has a resemblance of 'White Pony', so with that in mind, was that the direction you wanted to head in when you went into the studio, or did this just naturally happen? It's all about whatever happens organically, we obviously have tastes for certain subjects but we don't box ourselves in creatively.
How did you end up working with Nick Raskulinecz again on this record, and what is it you like so much about working with him? Well, he has an excitement that's contagious and he also has a very good ear. As well as this he's also a great dude to chill with!
How would you say the bands chemistry has progressed/evolved since you first became a part of the group? I can tell you that these guys have a lot of love and respect for each other. I first met them on the warped tour when i was with a band called quicksand, and Itâ€™s clear to see that they're as stoked on music now as they were then!
This is your second record as part of the Deftones line up, so how has the recording and writing process been for you this time compared to when you guys recorded 'Diamond Eyes' ? It's been fairly similar to Diamond Eyes really. We just wrote both albums from scratch in a room together. Basically, we just get together, kick it some and start banging out ideas, and whatever lives is whatever we are really hyped on.
We know you guys must be thinking about Chi Cheng every single day, but as a band what's it been like to do these last two records without him... I mean especially when you started to record 'Diamond Eyes' as it must of been a hard decision to start on a new record without him? Well, the vibe was to just put our best foot forward in his honor. Music is our passion and what we look to in good times as well as bad. So the one thing that wasn't going to be the move was to continue working on Eros without him.
In regards to your last release 'Diamond Eyes' It's safe to say that the record received a great response from both fans and critics, but for you looking back now, how do you feel about this record, and how happy have you been with the reception from it? I'm still super hyped on that record. It was and still is really cool to see how people dig on it like we do.
So, what do you want 'Koi No Yokan' to do for the representation of Deftones? Speaking for myself, I'd like it to be a record that people can dig on for a long time! As well as this I'd love to use it as an opportunity to have fun with my bandmates by performing rad shows, and Iâ€™d also like it to allow me to meet new people for the next couple of years!
What would you like 2013 to hold for Deftones? shows!!! Lots and lots of shows as well as good hangs with friends!
Their new album Koi No Yokan is out NOW! You can head to page 163 for a FULL page review which explains in more depth just exactly what else you can expect to hear from this breath taking new record!
So when did you decide that becoming a professional photographer is what you wanted to do with your life? I was always into taking pictures when I was a kid but it was film making that was my first love. I always had grand ideas of becoming a big Hollywood Director even as a young kid of about 10 years old. Photography wasn’t something I really thought about as a career. I remember writing a letter to Steven Spielberg when I was about 15 and was amazed when he actually wrote back. That cemented the idea in my mind that anything was possible and I still hold on to that idea today. I went on to study Film Making and photography in college and that’s when I really got into photography and started experimenting with different styles and loving other photographers work. I had always been in bands, playing guitar and singing etc so I started taking pictures of local bands, and I thought to myself “Hey I could do this” Living in the deepest darkest valleys of Wales didn’t offer much in the way of opportunities so when I came across an article in the local newspaper about a local man setting up a recording studio. I thought it would be perfect, so I marched on up there with my Canon SLR in hand and told him I was a photographer and that I wanted to take pictures of his bands. He looked at me for a second and said “Well I can’t really help with that, but seeing as you’re a musician you could train to be a studio engineer” So I said why not and I put my Idea’s of becoming the male Annie Leibovitz on the back burner and that was the beginning of my career in the music industry.
Can you tell us a bit more about what else you got up to before you started taking photography seriously, for example we read that you signed Funeral For A Friend to a record label? Well I started out engineering for a few local studios and I think the biggest act I recorded was Mal Pope which was pretty cool at the time, I mean come on the man wrote the theme for Fireman Sam! Around the same time I started working live sound with the BBC resources team with a great guy called Andy Rogers. He was a big influence and help to me and I got to work with some pretty huge bands like The Stereophonics, Idlewild and Coldplay. Then one day, once again I was looking through a local paper and I saw an article about a new studio opening called Mighty Atom. So I thought I would check them out. Once again off I went and introduced myself. They were literally just setting up and had just loaded in a huge mixing desk, bigger than I had worked on before, so I said I wanted to work with them and their bands. They liked the idea and I started engineering there full time. I really threw myself into that. I was there first thing in the morning and would often still be there at 2am. They also had an in house label with a few local bands on the roster that were doing some good things. I started working with the bands on the label as well as the studio work so it was pretty cool. One day a band came in to record, originally called January Thirst who had just changed their name to ‘Funeral for a Friend’. They were great fun and we got on really well. When they started to play I was completely blown away! I thought fuck me, they are so good. Shivers literally went up the back of my neck, I will never forget that moment. I had never felt like that before and I knew I was listening to something incredible.
As soon as they finished playing I told them that I really wanted to sign them, I ran to the office and said “I think we should sign them, they are amazing” The others listened but sadly were not convinced, so for the next few weeks I would nag everyday “sign them, sign them” and Johnny (ex Drummer) would ring me up “did they say yes” and I would say “they will say yes!” And thankfully eventually they did. So from that point on I threw myself into working with the band, I really believed in them and I wanted to do everything for them. I co-designed the artwork with Matt (yes that was me who misspelled conversations as conversions on the first run of the EP), designed the t-shirts, and ran the street team. I even sang backing vocals on the tracks. I literally lived and breathed it. It really was an awesome time. I had no idea they would become as huge as they did. I am still stoked to have been part of that. They were and still are an incredible band and and I met some amazing people along the way. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. It would have only been a matter of time before they were signed by someone else, I was just determined it was going to be me.
So what made you decide to quit the industry side of things and pursue photography again? As anyone working in the music industry will tell you it’s a hard game, it takes its toll on you and it took its toll on me. I felt I had gotten as far as I was going to get and after working for 5 years for literally no money I was ready for a break. Whilst working for the label I had completely neglected my photography. One day I was on a photoshoot with one of the labels other bands Liberty 37 and I got to work with Scarlet Page (daughter of Jimmy Page) for Kerrang magazine. I was blown away by the experience and I really wanted to get back to it. She was really cool and helpful and we emailed back and forth and talked photography. So that really opened me up to the idea of photographing again.
How much would you say that your past has helped you in the photography world? I’d say that it has helped immensely. I am very comfortable working with artists and it is where I feel the most relaxed and that definitely comes from my career in music. It just means I can concentrate on the job in hand. There is a common ground that I can relate to them on which really makes it so much easier. Coming from a label side of things and having to deal with marketing and promotion for bands it means I know exactly what the band needs to set themselves apart from all the other bands. It’s definitely about getting their personality out on the day too. I like to think that my shoots are a relaxed and fun experience. If the band/artists are bored or pissed off I don’t think they are going to look very good in a photograph. It’s not something I consciously do; I think I’m just lucky to work with awesome people. I always have a really good time on set. I think maybe a lot of people reading this will think that because of the people I have worked with in the past that it has been easy for me and I just called up old friends, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am not the kind of guy who likes to do anything the easy way. I have gotten to the position I am in now by hard graft and I never really mention my previous career. This is probably the first time I have talked about it publicly. In fact I run my photography business under my first name Richard as it’s easier for my clients to understand and pronounce. My middle name is Alwyn which is the name I go by and went by when I worked in the music industry. So in terms of getting work it has helped me very little. This also means my initials are RAD!! Haha
You recently completed a shoot with The People the Poet, so how fun was this experience for you, and how did you go about getting the best possible shots from the band? That was a really good shoot actually. Definitely one of my favorites, it was the first time I had met the band, we have a similar sense of humor so it wasn’t long before I was nick named ‘Dick’ with hundreds of dick jokes during the shoot. I think it’s safe to say that The People the Poet love Dick! It was pretty rushed and crazy to start with, we had arranged to do the shoot at an antique flea market in Cardiff which looked incredible. I spoke to the owner who said it was cool to shoot anywhere . We got in and set up in an area where they had these incredible red leather chairs. When we started shooting a guy came over and said “what are you doing then?” in all innocence I said doing a photo shoot for Rocksound, smiled then carried on. He stayed there watching, which I was cool with, it was a public place and I’m used to that sort of thing. Then he said “What’s in it for me then?” confused I said “err I don’t know, what do you want?” “I don’t want anything but it’s my shop!” Unknown to me each area in the building is run by individual sellers and we just hopped on all his expensive antique furniture without asking. As you can imagine he was pretty pissed off. I explained what the owner had said etc and he was he was still pretty miffed so we decided to move on to another area. We spoke to the owner this time, she was lovely and let us shoot there as long as we wanted. That was where we took the finished image. With that shoot, like most of my shoots I get the best out of people by just having fun and being natural and then finding the right image that suits the band just follows. After a while they relax, I relax and it leaves you open to ideas and opportunities to get the right shot.
Also just recently you headed to this years Merthyr Rock Festival, how was this festival for you, and do you have any particular photography highlights from this event that you can share with us? I really enjoyed Merthyr Rock it was the first time I had been there and I was blown away by how well it was organized and the incredible acts they had playing there. I had been booked by The People the Poet to do behind the scenes shots for them which is something I had done for The Joy Formidable when they supported The Manic Street Preachers. I am a big fan of the photography of Jim Marshall and that style is not really done anymore. I love the access all areas images that capture those special moments that people don’t usually get to see. As I was only booked to do those shots on the first day of the festival I chose not to shoot the other bands. I just hung out watched some incredible bands and chatted with old and new friends. It did feel really strange to not have my camera in hand but I really enjoyed the festival and I will definitely be going back next year. Whilst talking to Gavin Butler of The Blackout I did come to realize that I actually missed out on signing them as they had sent me a demo when I worked for MA. We laughed but I felt pretty embarrassed and gutted. They are a great band. It goes to show that if you work in A&R you have to listen to every single demo!!
The People the Poet captured live by Richard Davies
How did you end up directing The Dead Wretched music video for 'Ain't Through With You By A Damn Sight' and as this is different to your photography world, what do you think you learnt the most from this process? Having studied film years before I was very eager to get back into it and I had been looking for a band to work with on a video. I had been speaking to Dario (TDW) for a while and when he mentioned they were looking to do a video I jumped at the chance. To be honest it wasn’t a huge leap from my photography. I have always used cinema style lighting in my work so it was fairly simple to translate that across to film. It has the same principles as photography technically aperture, shutter speed etc and having a good eye for composition. It certainly helped having made short films and worked on productions in the past. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all plain sailing, last minute plot changes, locations falling through, asbestos on set!! I would say the biggest learning curve was the planning process. You had to be prepared for long shooting days and last minute changes.
You also set up a time lapse video for Bridgend Tattoo Studio, so how did this idea come about, and how fun was this process for you? I was asked to do this by Chris Harrison & Nipper so they could use it at a Tattoo Convention that was coming up to showcase their work. I had worked with Chris on his clothing line InkBred that he runs with Moose from Bullet from My Valentine so he thought it would be an awesome thing to try out. It certainly wasn’t the usual kind of time-lapse I do but it was a lot of fun and I am really happy how it turned out. I am looking forward to doing a lot more and working with Chris, Nipper & Ronnie again. They do such incredible work and it’s awesome to be a part of it.
So what band have been the most rewarding for you to shoot, and why? That is a really tough question, I guess I find every shoot as rewarding as the next. Each band I work with or shoot brings out something new creatively. I see my body of work as something that is evolving and as I evolve as a photographer and director my standard and style of work improves and that would not happen without the countless shoots before it. I guess two shoots that stood out for me this year would have to be The People the Poet and The Dead Wretched video, because they were shoots that took my work to another level. I had been waiting to get back into filming and directing and shooting the video with TDW was amazing and a turning point for me. I have a lot more film work in the pipeline. At the moment I am in pre production on a new music video for The Dirty Youth so I am stoked to be getting my teeth into that. It’s not separate to my photography it’s all part of the same creative outlet for me and I love it. It’s all about kicking it up a notch so there will be more of that to come for sure.
What would you say is the hardest part about being a professional photographer, and why? Without a doubt the hardest part about being a self employed professional photographer is finding the work. The work is not there waiting, you have to go and chase it every single day. I have bills to pay, a mortgage, petrol, equipment costs, I have to eat and so do my wife and two kids. Self employment is not for the faint hearted. But saying that, it is by far more rewarding than any job I have ever had. To be your own boss is something that is hard to put into words, it’s incredible. If you want to succeed, you get good, you work hard and you put everything into it and it’s all the sweeter when you know you have gotten to where you are by your own sweat and creativity. I know I work really hard at this. I want to be one of the best. The only way to do that is to keep pushing, keep getting better and to put in hard graft. I am up with my kids at 6 everyday and I get them to school then it’s down to business. My family and my work are my life and I will always work ridiculously hard for both. Sadly I have no rich parents funding my career it’s all by debt and by sweat!!
There are so many upcoming photographers out there, so with this in mind what advice can you give to them, and what do you think it takes to make it in this day and age? Well I guess the first piece of advice I would give is just keep shooting, get out there get experimenting with different techniques, don’t stick your camera on auto and take a zillion pictures and hope one of them comes out ok. Put it in manual mode, read the instructions and know how to work your equipment. If you are confident with your gear, your clients will feel confident that you know what you are doing and they will relax. Then get experimenting with light, natural and reflected, then pick up some cheap flash guns and triggers off eBay. Get that flash off camera! Secondly don’t be afraid to ask, if there is an event or gig you want to shoot get in touch and ask. People aren’t ogres and are usually very willing to help out young photographers. If there is a photographer you admire, drop them an email ask questions, ask to assist. Keep plugging away even when it seems too hard. Every single photographer started out where you are, just remember that! I guess what it takes to succeed is determination, confidence and talent. It’s all about trying to take it to the next level. Keep aiming high. I am nowhere near as good as I want to be. I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things I want to achieve and so I will keep aiming higher. I hope to one day get to the point where I feel content with my work and my career but there is a lot more work to do and I’m really looking forward to it.
What does 2013 hold for you as a professional photographer? 2013 will see a lot more personal work from me. I usually put my personal work on the back burner but this year I will be making time for it and hopefully if all goes well get a few exhibitions of my work set up. . I will be collaborating with some seriously incredible and talented artists, illustrators and sfx makeup artists as well which I am really looking forward to. There will be more press shots and music videos from me this year so expect to see a lot more of that coming at you. As well as this I have been working on a feature length documentary with a very good friend of mine which will also be released in 2013. I am stoked to be working on this and I’m really looking forward to showing you all. There is a long way to go so I’m not quite ready to spill the beans just yet but as soon as I can Stencil Mag readers will be the first to hear about it
"What's it like to film videos for huge bands like Don Broco, Deaf Havana, Futures as not just a hobbie but a full time job? Well, take a read below as Daniel tells us how he got to the level of awesomeness he is today!" When did you decide that creating film/music videos is something that you wanted to do with your life? I think my passion developed when I was about 13 years old and we used to make skate videos, at first it was mainly for vanity, being able to watch the tricks you do back was a blessing. This was much before the time of smart phones with cameras etc so we would always shoot on an old VHS camcorder and eventually a Mini-DV handy cam. It soon became apparent that certain techniques and angles made the videos look better which slowly began to propel me into the vague world of film-making. That is how I got into filming in general, music videos came from having music in my life, I was (and still am) in a band so I would always be watching music videos however my passion for making them didn't really fall into place until just after university when I was essentially forced into that creative field in desperate need of a money making scheme that didn't involve going for a job that wasn't relevant to what I'd studied. However I am extremely lucky to have fallen into something that I know have so much passion for.
Who was your first major client, and how exciting was this process for you at the time? I guess my first major client was a band called We Start Partys from Bristol, It was the first shoot I was ever paid for, all be it a very small price at the time, but it definitely pushed me in the right direction. Fortunately at the time DSLR's were still only creeping into the world of film-making with everyone holding back from getting one because of all the drawbacks they have. We put a lot of time and effort into making the video look to a standard that we deemed as professional yet organic and not caked in effects and transitions. I think the shoot was somewhere around the timescale of 15 hours but I had some great friends working with me who had graduated from college and even one guy (who now works for me all the time) called Alex Thornton who was still in his last year at college which allowed us to hire out the equipment they had for free adding a huge amount of production value to the shoot at no extra cost.
So you've just joined Kode Media as a brand new video director, so can you tell us how this opportunity came about, and how excited you are about this? I had been speaking to one of the managing directors (Alex Harman) for a little while and he briefly mentioned that he was thinking about turning KODE Media into an agency and essentially run as a production house with a broad roster of directors. In my mind it sounded like a great plan but I couldn't see it happening for a while, however in true KODE style (as I've now learned) things picked up very quickly and within a few weeks of our conversation he started sending me briefs from some major record labels. Eventually the pitch for Don Broco's video came through and ended up being the first video I shot with KODE. It's an exciting prospect as KODE are much further ahead than Daniel Broadley Films due to their networking skills and broader portfolio so when pitches from big clients come through they often have much larger budgets, which doesn't always mean more money for me to pocket but more money to play with and create something that I haven't always been able to do due to small budgets. I think what also makes it exciting is that KODE are still growing, so being around them and watching them learn helps me to learn, I absolutely love taking knowledge in from all aspects of the media industry and being around such great creative and business minded people is always a fantastic opportunity.
You've done a stack of video sessions for LAB Records, so can you tell us about your relationship with that label, and what's it like to set up such cool videos for these guys? LAB is a record label that I have always looked up to, their passion and drive to really push their artists is a great thing to see, It's rare to see such passion still in the industry. I worked a few jobs with LAB for a band called FutureProof who were excellent clients to work for, giving me complete creative control on all of their projects. Through this I ended up speaking the record label owner Mark Orr a lot and a small friendship formed over time, he's a very interesting and excitable person, much like myself which always makes the conversations high octane as we are so passionate in our particular fields. Eventually he approached me about management and whether I would like to be represented by LAB Records and helped to reach a bigger audience in the industry and public eye. We still skype fairly regularly and talk about different ways Daniel Broadley Films can go as a business, even with the jobs happening with KODE I'm very keen to keep Daniel Broadley Films going, it is something I have nurtured for almost two years now and something I would love to see take off in many years to come.
You recently shot a video for the Don Broco track 'Hold On' so how fun was this project for you, and can you tell us about the concept the band wanted their audience to get from watching this video? The Don Broco video was such a fast paced project, I returned from a short holiday away to a very urgent email from KODE asking if a treatment could be written in under 12 hours for a deadline the morning after. In my eyes it was probably impossible for me to conceptualise and write something viable in such a short space of time. However, with nothing really to lose I worked all night to write something that fitted to their brief. The brief they gave highlighted a few different videos they liked as well as a visual style they were into (which is where the split screens came from), I went on a whim and wrote something that was a little different to what they may have first imagined but written in a way that they could very easily visualise it too the song. It all happened very fast, they OK'd the treatment over dozens of other directors submissions and within in a week we had shot and edited it, the whole thing was a blur thinking back to it now. I think the band just wanted to show that they were still the same old band, that everything wasn't completely serious now they had signed to what is essentially a major label.
What was it like to work with Deaf Havana on their music video for 'Little White Lies' and what do you think you learnt the most from this experience? Deaf Havana were probably my first major clients, It was a very exciting project as the idea they wanted was something they hadn't really done before. It was also the first chance for me to make a video that was as funny as this, something that I could really stick my teeth into. I don't think I learned a huge amount from the project, for me this project was applying everything I had previously done into this particular piece. All the camera techniques were all done previously in other videos, for me it's sometimes what the camera does and shows that makes the video most interesting.
It looks like Deaf Havana had a particular idea in mind for that video, so with that in mind how hard or easy is it for you as a filmmaker to work with a band to bring these ideas to life? We toyed with loads of different ideas involving an 80's theme but eventually simplified it down to something that worked within the budget and that had a massive element of comedy inside it. James is a huge 80's fan so seeing him live as someone from the 80's for a few days was a very funny experience, something that will probably never leave me. In fact the band all brought something to the table in regards to their characters, they all adapted an alter ego personality and carried it through the video.
You also just did a documentary for Luke Concannon so how was this experience for you, and how does the process behind this kind of project differ from everything else you get up to film making wise? Documentaries can be a little less heavy than a music videos, with music videos their is a huge amount of expectation that is sometimes impossible to reach with such small budgets where as a documentary (as long as it contains the necessary information that the person wants to convey) can really allow you to put your own creative stamp on it. I was blessed to be able to work with someone who (to many people) is deemed so highly as a singer songwriter and in one day we managed to really highlight some of his past, present and future.
For acoustic music videos, some filmmakers limit themselves and simply turn on the camera and record, whereas we've noticed that with some of your videos you've actually gone out into the world and created some really good backdrops for an acoustic session (Futures for example) so with this in mind how do you go about setting up an atmosphere for an acoustic video, and how do you go about giving it your own personal stamp? Acoustic videos can be shot lazily and I guess it isn't always the film-makers fault, sometimes location is something that is heavily overlooked. For a long while before I really honed in on my directorial skills I over concentrated on location and setting, something that perhaps a DOP would be more known for worrying about, but from doing this it allowed to see what really worked as a back drop for a band/artist. I think I may have mentioned this earlier but location is one of the most important parts of a music video, it is going to fill up over 60% of the screen and therefore it needs to aesthetically please the audiences eyes, otherwise they will grow tiresome and bored of what they see. All the way through college our story telling was perhaps slightly weaker than other peoples, we would often not even use dialogue and relied on a soundtrack to carry a story with our friends "acting", however we still managed to really wow the audiences that attended the film festivals where our work was shown because of the camera techniques and locations that were used. For the Futures video a simple tracking shot and a vast backdrop with plenty of aesthetically pleasing features was all it needed to almost add a narrative to the simple and often over done acoustic video. Fortunately for me Ant (singer) was very open to ideas and wasn't afraid to go along with everything I had lined up for him. Bit of trivia as well, we actually got kicked off the boat by the owner who wasn't aware we were using it.
How rewarding is it for you when you see a music video that you created appear on a music channel? The sad thing is I have yet to actually see any of my own work on the television, we have recently got Sky installed so it will only be a matter of time. More often than none I am heavily over critical of my own work so it might be for the best that nothing has come past my eyes on the big screen. However, I did see the music video that we shot in Spain for We Start Partys played on the big screen in my home town center (Plymouth), that was quite a pleasant experience.
What project has stood out the most to you in 2012 and why? There have been a few that have really stood out for different reasons. The Don Broco video was probably the pinnacle, being the first time I was able to work with a larger budget than I had previously had access to and work with a full production crew. The Deaf Havana video felt like a huge step in the right direction with so much attention currently on the band. There were also two other great projects, one being the video I shot for Venice called 'Heart That Could Heal'. This was an absolutely amazing project to be a part of, having the opportunity to work with such a great track and producing a completely narrative based video was one thing but to base the entire video around the concept of kids as if they were adults was fantastic. The concept came from the band who actually produced the video themselves leaving me to write their ideas into something that would work in the allotted time of the song and direct the children to really portray adult characteristics. The other video was for These Reigning Days for a song called 'Living It Up'. This wasn't the most challenging project ever but something about it just felt great, we shot it in the earlier half of this year around the time one of our freak spring heat waves were upon us. Working with sun is such a joy as a film maker, it can instantly add production value to what you do so having it out completely for two days was great. The band were completely open to letting me run with my ideas which can often be vague and very visual based. The shoot itself was so relaxed, I'm so used to spending 10+ hours not eating and running around like a headless chicken getting everything done, this was different, we had plenty of time to spend getting every shot great and on the second day of the shoot we ended up shooting in a fantastic couples garden by their willow tree, with such a long gap between the first few shots and the sunset shots we ended up having a big barbeque with all the extras and drinking loads of home made Devon cider, it was pure bliss... and what's more the shots came out looking fantastic which made the entire experience even more flawless.
What does 2013 hold for you? 2013 will inevitably be a busy year for me, I'm excited to potentially make more videos for high profile clients as well as making my first short film since college. It's all very exciting and I am truly blessed to be able to do what I do.
Gareth VS THE SHARK
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So what made you decide to play guitar in the first place? A few things, initially it came from watching Transformers: The Movie (Circa 1986). That entire soundtrack by the very talented Vince DiCola was the catalyst of everything, my love for music, playing guitar, and now keys. Predominantly though it was just the want of being able to create music that others would enjoy, as I quite like the creative process, taking an idea and not knowing where it will end up. The journey of music is challenging and never ending. I like a challenge.
How long have you been playing guitar for now? Thirteen years. Still nowhere near Hendrix standard, got many more years of catching up to do.
Learning guitar is not exactly easy, I imagine your learning process must have been extremely difficult? Can you explain it for us? Well it all began with my pick, man made to suit the shape of my arm/elbow, from there it was just a matter of practicing for at least an hour or two every single day, keeping the discipline process in moderation, although admittedly sometimes overdoing it by an hour or five, learning songs from the likes of Hendrix, Nirvana, Sabbath, AC/DC and Oasis, among others. I felt it was a case of 'practice makes perfect', though there is no such thing as a 'perfect guitarist' as that's down to personal perception, I just want to be the best I can be, knowing my limitations but at the same time, trying to overcome them and better my technique, overall sound and personal style. Many great guitarists are distinctive with all of the above. They set the bar, all I need to do is keep practicing, playing and working hard and hopefully I'll be able to reach it someday.
You do alot of busking in London, how successful is it for you and what parts of London do you prefer playing? It varies, some days are good, some are bad, but that's the same with any job really, you just gotta make the best with what you can, but I do enjoy it. There's no one place in particular, I like playing all over the city. That's the beauty of London, the people make it the place to hear music.
As a solo musician, in the future would you like to form/join a band and play gigs as a group? If the right opportunity arose then I may consider getting a band together once again. I've been down that road in the past and found it to be quite the learning curve. When it's your own band, your music, as a solo artist you find yourself doing most, if not, all the work and as an unsigned artist trying to take your music to as many venues across town as possible on little to no budget, it's difficult and puts a strain on your faith in music that you're creating and wanting to get out to as many people as possible. The music industry isn't the same as it once was. Bands and Artists don't get the same standard of opportunities like they did a few years ago, which is a shame, but I would consider joining up with a band or other artists/musicians if I liked and appreciated the music. I've collaborated with a few singers in the past and would like to do that again for sure. The right voice can always make cool music awesome.
You have made television appearances worldwide, most notably the Google Chrome: Lady Gaga TV commercial showing a clip of you doing a Lady Gaga cover, how did it feel to appear in that? It was pretty cool. I made my original guitar cover video as soon as I heard her latest song and within a month or so of it's uploading I got contacted by the House of Gaga and was asked if I'd like to be featured in the video, as Lady Gaga herself had seen and approved my video for part of it's collective ensemble, I was like "Fuck yeah, I'd love to be featured!", I just made that video to put on YouTube, I didn't expect it to end up on Worldwide TV with over 9 million YouTube views. When it first aired during Saturday Night Live, my wife nearly fell out of bed with excitement and rang me and was like "YOU'RE ON TV!!!". My reaction was simply "No, Fucking, Way!". I didn't see it on TV for WEEKS, yet everyone else I knew had, so when I finally saw it on a TV in the ad break of a Family Guy episode, I recorded that thing straight away.
I read that you are scheduled to appear in a future Channel 4 documentary about disabled musicians around the UK, do you know when this will be filmed? And how excited are you to appear on this? From what I know, they're still filming it at present. It should be airing on Channel 4 within the next coming months. They're performing around the UK at festivals right now so it may not be long. Funnily enough I wasn't initially going to be featured as I told the organisers that due to conflicting schedules I wouldn't be able to play any of the festival dates, but Charles Hazelwood (Paracorchestra Composer) wanted to see me play anyway, so I accepted his kind offer and performed a couple of musical pieces for him. Hopefully it makes the final cut of the documentary.
Who inspires you most musically? My favourite Artists/Bands, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Tom Petty, Jack White, Noel Gallagher, Ayumi Hamasaki, The Police, Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush, U2, Coldplay, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Ritchie Blackmore, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Van Halen, Radiohead, Prince, Metallica, Michael Angelo Batio and Billy Sherwood.
How does it feel to be a very inspirational figure yourself? I feel honoured to inspire others, not just musicians. It's flattering in all honesty to hear from people that say my music and performances inspire them. Before the summer whilst playing around London I had a gentleman approach me and asked if he could take a picture of me playing guitar with one hand, so that he could show, and I quote, "his lazy fucking bastard children what hard work and dedication looks like without holding a fucking xbox controller". It was certainly one of the most random and notable moments regarding ever being able to inspire anyone. One I'll gladly remember well.
How would you describe your style? UltraViolet, Man!
What are you currently working on? I've just uploaded 'Spectrum', a five part song onto SoundCloud.com as a free download for a limited time. It's mainly keys and guitar, with a rather cosmic vibe. Spectrum will also be featured in full on my forthcoming EP, Lightning Of The Moon, which will contain both vocal and instrumental songs that have a 'soundtrack' feel to them. You can check out some of those songs on my YouTube Channel, UltraVioletMan1984.
What are your plans for the future? Finishing LOTM, continuing to produce music for potential TV programmes and commercials, along with independent movies, performing live and hopefully collaborating with some talented vocalists/musicians in the coming months.
Halestorm are an American rock band from Pennsylvania who formed in 1997. They released their self titled debut back in 2009 through Atlantic Records. Halestorm made history by becoming the first female-fronted band to top the active rock airplay chart with their song "Love Bites...(So Do I)" taken from their sophomore album, "The Strange Case Of.." which was released in April 2012. In the same month, Gibson Guitars created a signature series guitar for front woman, Lzzy Hale. The band also played the second stage at Download Festival 2012 in June. 2012 has been a brilliant year for big rock/metal albums in my opinion, so it was really a matter of thinking what stood out the most amongst all the incredible releases this year.. And "The Strange Case Of.." by Halestorm was at the top of the list! The reason being mainly for its diversity in terms of style and sound, and the calibre and power of each song, whether it be a soft ballad or a hard rock anthem! I know its been said, but Halestorm stand out in the female fronted bands category for their style and sound, offering something that's not been done before. You can't really compare them to other bands; they all have so much passion for what they do and this certainly shines through. Unlike some female fronted bands, its not just about Izzy, well in my opinion at least, the band are a tight unit, each helping define their sound, with guitarist Joe Hottinger coming up with huge riffs that get you headbanging and intricate slick solos seen in "Love Bites" as well as impressive acoustic work ("In Your Room", "Here's To Us"), while Izzy's brother, Arejay delivers his drums in an equally brilliant and crazy manner, and lastly bassist Josh Smith providing bad ass bass lines and mellow soft riffs, as well as all the boys backing up Izzy on gang vocals! Izzy herself has one of best vocal ranges and tones I have heard, from shouting ("Love Bites", "I Miss The Misery") to singing simultaneously and effortlessly. I for one can't get enough of this album, and each time I listen I discover my new favourite song. There's such as good combination of catchy, mainstream sound meets..well 'Mz Hyde'..I love the insanity captured in certain songs, such as the manic heavy "Love Bites", "I Miss The Misery", "Daughter Of Darkness" and of course "Mz Hyde". The concept of almost two personalities from the front woman works well, as you have these songs demonstrating an almost unstable insane evil side and then to contrast, we have the mellow softer side shown through songs such as, "Break In", "Beautiful With You" and "In Your Room" that truly show Izzy's fantastic range. The album offers something for everyone, and there is no denying this band has talent and fantastic musicianship. I think with this album the band really stepped into the limelight and marked their territory. All hail Halestorm!
As a pop-punk enthusiast, 2011 was one of the finest years in recent history, witnessing incredible punk-rock throw-back releases from The Story So Far, The Wonder Years and the Swellers, as well as the release of Blink-182's Neighborhoods. 2012 hasn't been quite as fruitful, with so many bands still riding the album cycle of 2011, this year has seen a dip in noteworthy releases. Without pigeon-holing myself into one genre, I was equally excited for releases from a variety of other bands, but unfortunately these just didn't quite live up to their expectations - Title Fight's 'Floral Green' was strong but couldn't quite top the hardcore melancholic awesomeness of 'Shed'; modern-spun folk-rock 'Handwritten' from The Gaslight Anthem failed to leave its mark in comparison to its predecessor 'American Slang'; and indiepop-electronica outfit Passion Pit fell-short with 'Gossamer', which proved bland when held against 2009's 'Manners'. In the baron wasteland of 2012, Motion City Soundtrack proved to be the only band capable of bettering anything that they have done before, with 'Go' adding another fine record to the Minnesotans backcatalogue. Justin Pierre's anxious vocals intertwine with an equally jumpy and nervous beat and erratic guitar whines, as 'Circuits and Wires' opens the record in fitting-style. The unsettling approach of Motion City Soundtrack is exactly what gives them an edge over their pop-punk competitors. The so-called nerd-rockers bring their insecurities to the musical table and it shows through in every note and chord. This isn't the polished and conceited 'pop-punk' of bands like All Time Low who sing about how many girls they can pull on a night-out. This is the emotional interiors of five aging guys who don't seem certain about anything they say or believe and it is this realness and authenticity which gives MCS their appeal to old and young listeners alike. 'Son of a Gun' is the best track on the record - simple but oh-so-effective, acoustic guitar buzzes over Pierre's poetry, which later breaks into the chorus hook "You're over dramatic/I'm aerodynamic/It's oh so romantic/That's why I'm a son of a gun." Instrumentally, this is everything that MCS is about: subtlety placed synths, whirling guitar lines and intricate rhythmic work. The record ends with an unusually optimistic sentiment. Pierre sings "I am attempting to change after years of destruction", leaving the listener with the feeling that maybe everything will work out for the gloomy five-piece. Let's just hope they don't change too much, because if they can continue to make records as captivating as 'Go', then Motion City Soundtrack will be more than fine.
As a hard rock fan at heart, it would have been a fair assumption that the 'best record of 2012' would have fallen to a metal band, or someone indulgent in classic rock 'n' roll sounds. But, that's not the case. Pioneering the latest wave of homegrown talent, Don Broco's new album 'Priorities' proved so truly addictive they've blown all others out of the water. This record isn't big - it's colossal. With most releases there'll be a few stand out hits amidst a slew of good tracks, yet this is packed to the brim with countless quality numbers. Alongside hitting a new level in their songwriting capabilities, the band have managed to focus on each member's talents in the process. From the tenacious guitar work of 'Priorities' to the drummed undertones of 'Yeah, Man', there's so many elements to sink your teeth into. Even on a first listen, so much stands out - quirky harmonics in verses, soaring choruses, even the stand out lyric of "I miss you pumpkin". No song slips by unnoticed. There may be some element of a formula in practice, but assuming that makes the record repetitive would be completely wrong. The verses are usually quieter and both the choruses and interludes prove to be explosiveit's a good formula, because they've created an album of absolute bangers. 'Fancy Dress' is a key example of this formula at work, lending the record one of the biggest choruses on offer. Hits galore though this record may be, there is one that surpasses the rest. 'Whole Truth' has got to be one o the tracks of the year. Speedy harmonics underpin the bouncy verse, the bridge discreetly soars towards the chorus and then - BAM! - the track leaps wholly into life. It's completely addictive, unashamedly bouncy and italone could sell this record as quality. This album is Don Broco 2.0. It has all the qualities synonymous with them previously, but cranked up a gear. They're bigger, better and tighter. The hooks are addictive, there's an ever-present swing, but this is completely and utterly infectious. 'Priorities' has to be one of the acclaimed albums of the year for British talent, and it's sure to open many doors for the band. Fantastic.
From the soaring soundscapes of 'End Of Days' to the Earth opening triumphs of 'Sorrow Plagues', it seems that Devil Sold His Soul have truly honed their unique craft of work with their latest full-length effort, 'Empire Of Light'. Though DSHS are still proudly sticking to their guns of post-hardcore which deviates from the norm to create emotions and atmospheres rarely explored by some of their contemporaries, this time things seem to stick to a path that seems even a casual listener can remain on. Simply put, this time around they've trimmed off some of the fat those with a little less patience would find as a clear means to avoid and have produced something solid yet intelligent.
Right from the get go with album opener and debut single, 'No Remorse No Regrets', there's still not let up. Album highlight 'Crusader' follows a much similar ethos, bearing an opening drum and guitar effort that sounds much like a welcomed battering ram to the ears that shakes down to your ribcage. There's still the more mellow moments. 'A New Legacy' sees screaming at a minimum, kept for the chorus which has full potential of looping in your head for days on end thanks to frontman Edward Gibbs' crisp vocal work. This is DSHS at their most pop, yet also at one of their most invigorating too. To summarise, 'Empire Of Light' is an album that encapsulates one of Britain's brightest and arguably most underappreciated acts of today. It would be far from justice if the London septet don't receive their long deserved break into the big leagues off the back of this. Truly exceptional in every aspect. Fact.
To be quite honest, it was difficult to choose my favourite album of 2012. This year has seen so many great releases: Young Guns, Architects and Lower Than Atlantis are just a few bands that have released incredible albums. But I looked across the pond, towards Australia, to find my favourite album. And it was ‘Chasing Ghosts’ by The Amity Affliction. I’d listened to them -before and heard their previous albums, but had never paid them much attention until I saw them perform with Funeral For a Friend in October 2011. After that, I realised just how incredible they were and listened to them far more avidly.
When they released their single ‘Chasing Ghosts’, it made me ridiculously excited for the album. And it’s safe to say that the wait was definitely worth it. There’s not one track that I wish to skip on the album – they’re all incredible songs. Shredding riffs teamed with guttural vocals just makes for brilliant listening. To be quite frank, The Amity Affliction have made a lot of other metalcore bands just look lazy now. With a solid work ethic and amazing music, I reckon it’ll only be a matter of time before they take over the world.
Every Time I Die occupy a unique space in the world of heavy music, whilst their influences remain clear they have managed to create a sound that is so truly their own that it’s instantly recognisable and instantly revered by so many. Each album sees the band expand that space by taking their core sound and, using influences both old and new, crafting another chunk of southern rock-tinged, technical hardcore that could only ever be Every Time I Die. And that’s exactly what they’ve done with this years opus Ex-Lives, kicking off with the fabulously titled Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space tongue-in-cheek lyricist and frontman Keith Buckley screams ‘I want to be dead with my friends’ before the instantly identifiable guitar sound hits you along with a suitable barrage of drums, from then on the tempos chop and change and the relentless riffs seem set to rip your head clean off as head banging feels compulsory. The next two tracks, Holy Book Of Dilemma and A Wild, Shameless Pain, clock in at under two-minutes each, frantic guitar work and face-ripping vocals may have you ready to throw in the towel. I Suck (Blood) and Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow sees the band’s rock n roll sensibilities come to the fore and a slight return to the style that suited them so well on 2007’s The Big Dirty, southern rock riffs, slick, clean vocals and lyrics, that once again establish Keith Buckley as one of the coolest lyric writers in the business, keep the immense quality of this album at a stratospheric high. The Low Road Has No Exits keeps up the pace with angular riffing and some stunning drum work, before album curve ball, Revival Mode, slows it and displays Every Time I Die’s ability to write a heavy slab of brooding hard rock. Normal business is resumed for Drag King and Touch Yourself, ‘I have declared a war on the silence before the storm’, Buckley screams on the former in his distinctive roar. Closer, Indian Giver, is without doubt a highlight and maybe one of the best songs the band has ever written, classic Every Time I Die riffs, an eerie chorus that lulls you into otherworldly territory and a spooky vocal style displays yet another string to the Every Time I Die bow. Every Time I Die’s influence on the modern hardcore scene is unquestionable, but with Ex-Lives it has become clear how far ahead of the game they are, never ones to rest on their laurels, they continue to find new ways to expand their sound without every compromising what makes them unique. In short,no one touches them.
It's fair to say that from this record Enter Shikari have had an insane year, from touring the world, to breaching the top ten UK album charts it seems that these guys are pretty much unstoppable. They've done an amazing job at keeping their fans interested daily throughout their career whether it be via a social media outlet, or even just by announcing a handful of signings whilst touring to be fully engrossed in their dedicated following. As well as this the group have worked extremely hard since day one to raise awareness on important issues with politics and global warming which we can only applaud, as this is something we need much more of right now. The opening two tracks System...meltdown instantly grab your attention and straight away you begin to imagine what the mosh pits to this scorcher of an opening sequence could be like (it's incredible by the way). The album then launches straight into Sssnakepit which in our eyes is one of the bands finest tracks when it comes to showing us how well they can fuse electronic with post-hardcore. The themes and influences that surround Search Party are simple yet so epic, and the gang vocals that cloud this song are also ideal contributions to it's structure that have directly helped in making it the success it is today. Their video for Arguing with Thermometers has now reached over a million views, and to us this is no surprise because this is one heck of a single that will be stuck in your head for months after you've heard it just once. The album takes a minor breather with the mighty Stalemate, but just because the music has gone slightly mellow does not mean that the messages they are trying to send through aren't as important, this track also adds a nice balance to the album that again compliments Enter Shikari as this record has seen them progress so much as musicians. "We're sick of this shit" basically blows your face off when Gandhi Mate, Gandhi takes over your stereo. This is a huge tune that does not stop twisting and turning throughout, it's raw, and the build up that features on the track will just knock you off your feet, if we had to pick one song that could define this album by itself, then for us, this would probably be it. Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here will have you banging/nodding your head from the start to the finish, and the catchy 'groove' that the band have developed for this piece is just genius. "Don't be fooled into thinking that a small group of friends Cannot change the world" is one of our favorite lines from this record, and it was one of the main reasons why Pack Of Thieves stood out to me on my first listen, this tune packs a punch. Even on my first listen, I found myself hitting the repeat option again and again to take in it all in. "Empires always fall" is what you will be screaming at your friend/computer/yourself once you've heard Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide, the riffs on this song combined with the electronic genre work so work so well and the end result is just fantastic. The album closer Constellations is a blinder, and just like Stalemate we again notice that the band do not slow down with the importance of their lyrics and give it everything they have to make another extremely memorable number.
A Flash Flood Of Colour is an absolute gem from the start to finish and this album is still just as exciting to listen to now as it was at the start of the year. II's a raw record that is refreshing and unpredictable at the same time. So if the album that follows this has as much effort poured into it as this one did, then my fellow lions, we are in for a treat!
I don’t think I’m the only one when I say that this year was full to the brim with albums of the highest quality, so understandably, it’s taken myself weeks to finally pick one from the bunch. For me it has to be Straight Lines’ album ‘Freaks Like Us’. I remember seeing these guys for the first time-prior to the release of the album- at Old Blue Last in Shoreditch and I was blown away by front man Tom Jenkins’ unique vocals. That gig sparked a subtle obsession of the band and once I found out that a new album was hitting us in months to come, well, I resembled an over-excited boy on Christmas eve. Since the release of the album it has been played non-stop, whether it’s on my phone, on my laptop, or even during desperate times at university, on Youtube. You generally find with a lot of albums that there will be one or two songs which don’t particularly tickle your ear drums, but ‘Freaks Like Us’ has not one week song.
Another thing I find is that I tend to like the songs which aren’t chosen by the band/record company as singles, but I have to say that the choices so far from this album- Half Gone, Commitments and Ring the Bells- are possibly the strongest tracks on the record. The thing that stands out most of all in Straight Lines’ album is the quality of the song writing, both lyrically and musically. There’s no generic rock lyrics which we seem to be seeing more and more of, it’s clear these lyrics are from the heart. I’m someone who tends to get bored of albums rapidly, whether that’s because I listen to them too much in a short period of time, I’m not really sure, but there seems to be no boredom creeping in so far and it’s been a good few months of solid listening. If you haven’t already, you really have to wrap your ears around this record. If it takes a bit of growing, let it grow you won’t regret it. We need to be supporting honest, hard-working bands like Straight Lines, especially if they are going to continue producing albums as good as ‘Freaks Like Us’
This was a very tough decision to make, similarly to last year there have been so many good full length releases in 2012. In the end, the album that spoke to me most and really got me singing along was The Menzingers’ On The Impossible Past. There were other albums released this year were very good, but almost all the songs from ‘On The Impossible Past’ stayed in my head day after day and really gripped me as a fan of melodic punk rock. ‘Good Things’ is the perfect opener to the album, perfect use of hooks. The aggressive vocals adds to the catchy nature of the song, the repeated lyrics encourages the listener to becomeaddicted and eventually start singing along. ‘Burn After Waiting’ has the same catchy effect as the first track, the chorus is highly addictive to create another number that is hard not to sing along too. The guitar riffs blend perfectly with the vocals to create a consistent sound throughout the song. ‘The Obituaries’ has an upbeat beginning with repeated drum patterns. Guitar riffs maintain an upbeat tempo throughout the beat. The best thing about this track is the brilliant use of hooks, “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it” proves to be utterly catchy throughout and is again hard not to sing along to.’Gates’ is much a slower number, the vocals and guitar riffs and drums flow so well to create a really consistent sound. The Menzingers lyrical skills are brilliant on this song, the words match the instrumentation beautifully to create a soft sound which again is pleasing to the ear. ‘Ava House’ has a similar sounding beginning to ‘Good Things’. The drum patterns maintain a steady beat throughout the track with consistent guitar riffs. Again, the repetitive lyrics makes this song very easy to listen to. ‘Sun Hotel’ is possibly my favourite on the album, perfect blend of clean and raw vocals mixed with a low guitar tone, perfect ingredients for a melodic punk number. Again the production deserves a massive thumbs up, both vocals and instruments sounding perfect. ‘Sculptors and ‘Vandals’ is a slower number but still maintains the catchy elements that are present in the rest of the album. ‘Mexican Guitars’ is another favourite of mine on this album, the most simple sound but so effective when trying to please my ears. Again the vocals and instrumentation are faultless like most of the album, and makes it so calming and easy to listen to. ‘On The Impossible Past’ is a much a darker number, and shows the versatility of the band. Echoey guitar tones and dreary vocals create a strange standstill to the album. The same echoey guitar tone is repeated in ‘Nice Things’ this time more upbeat with overlapping guitar riffs and more bold vocals, another favourite of mine because it’s upbeat tempo. ‘Casey’ starts similarly to a number of songs on the album, with soft pitches guitar tones and slow drum beats. The vocals in this track gives it a bit of bite which I thoroughly enjoy. ‘I Can’t Seem To Tell’ and ‘Freedom Bridge’ provide a calming ending to an extremely enjoyable and soulful album. Both songs has the elements which makes this album so enjoyable and such as consistent album. This is the best Menzingers release to date, and with much competition the best album of 2012. A superb reflection of soulful melodic punk rock at it’s best. An album I can enjoy listening to for an number of years.
There has been some great release’s this year and it was a hard decision to pick which album I would pick. But finally I came to the conclusion of, With The Punch’s’ new record. Seams and Stiches It was released on July 3rd via Doghouse Records and it's quite an improvement from their already successful catalog. Keep It Going and it’s Not The End Of The World, released in 2009 and 2011 respectively, displayed a lot of potential and provided fans with some impressive music, but With the Punches managed to refine their sound on Seams & Stitches and it is heaps better in every aspect. The album starts off with a pretty good song in "Riverside", but there is a great guitar solo near the end of the track to keep things interesting. The second track, "Bad Pennies", picks up the pace and from that point forth, both the riffing and drumming on Seams & Stitches is very fast-paced and tight. A few notable tracks that display this upbeat tempo very well are "Postcards", "Home in a Lighthouse", and "New York Minute". "Postcards" is one of my personal favorites because it is spectacular instrumentally and lyrically. My favorite lyric of the song is the entire chorus in which Jesse chimes out "Too many postcards only decorate your walls/I could have left them blank 'cause I doubt you read them anyway/I really wasn't that naive/I just wanted to believe that something was different here". In my opinion, the fifth track titled "Home in a Lighthouse" is the strongest track on the album and could very well be one of the best pop punk songs I have ever heard. The chorus is spectacular, featuring spellbinding guitar leads and the lyrics "I'm losing interest in all your promises/It's a matter of fact, I was all alone/You were only looking out for yourself", but that's not the best part of the song. The high point in "Home in a Lighthouse" is the little three second break before the final run-through of the chorus where only guitar can be heard and the occasional cymbal hit. Every time I hear it, I get chills sent up and down my spine. Despite clocking in at a mere 52 seconds, "New York Minute" is another one of the stronger tracks on Seams & Stitches. "New York Minute" has a bit of a skate punk/melodic hardcore vibe to it and With the Punches pulls it off better than most bands in that genre would. It's amazing how much perfection can be packed into such a small time slot and With the Punches proves that a song doesn't have to be a certain length for it to be good. The final track is the title track, "Seams And Stitches". The song opens with a nice guitar riff followed by the lyrics "I've lost another year debating if my time would ever come." Like the majority of the album, "Seams And Stitches" is very upbeat and catchy. There's not much else to say about this track other than the fact that the leads remain solid and the song closes out the album extremely well. I can almost guarantee that the release of Seams & Stitches is going to help catapult With the Punches into the 'elite' group of pop punk. There isn't a single flaw that I can pick out from this album. Seams & Stitches is an absolute pop punk masterpiece and some of the tracks are bound to be favorites of the genre for a long time to come to new and old fans alike. Even if you aren't a huge fan of pop punk, I strongly recommend giving With the Punches 38 minutes of your time because this is an album that you just cannot miss.
Axewound - Vultures AxeWound just encase you don't know is a British-Canadian supergroup formed in 2012 comprising Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats on lead vocals, Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine on guitar and backing vocals, Mike Kingswood of Glamour of the Kill on guitar, Joe Copcutt formerly of Rise to Remain playing bass and Jason Bowld of Pitchshifter on drums. Expectations are high for this debut offering from new supergroup, does it match up to the hype?!.. Title track, "Vultures" doesn't give you much to 'pick' at, as this is one heavy slab of metal, not to mention a extreme shred solo from Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold - as if it wasn't good enough already! From the off you can see how this project is going to be brilliant and that they love what they are doing! Most would have already been familiar with "Post Apocalyptic Party" as it was unveiled before the album was released. It's not hard to see why they chose this as their first song to air - as it sums up their sound well! Liam on vocals makes for an ferocious affair, making this a great anthem for the end of the world and one to go out on! "Cold" features more vocals from Matt Tuck, and has an extremely catchy chorus mainly down to melodic vocals. This song will get embedded in your mind! The sinister "Exorchrist" opens with a very melodic intro offered by Matt and then blasts into a great heavy riff. The chorus particularly stands out with contrasting dual vocals from lead vocalist Liam and backing from Matt. "Collide" offers something different by opening with a piano and synth sounds, then the instruments kick in for backup to create more depth. Liam and Matt share vocal performances equally in this track..I guess this would be perceived as their 'softer' side if you will!.. "Destroy" has no shortage of fast dark riffs and fantastic pounding drums from Jason, who shows off his exceptional skills throughout the album! This song has a more 80's thrash metal feel to it almost, especially in the form of the chorus. Closing song, "Church Of Nothing" opens with a superb guitar lick that is played throughout the song and some great dual guitars from Mike and Matt. This like all other tracks is a solid track, there is not a bad track to be seen in my opinion! But seeing as all members are professional experienced musicians you wouldn't expect anything less! Liam's ferocious and manic vocals really make this album with Matt Tuck providing backing for a change! You can tell that a lot of fun was had for this super group unleashing their debut release, especially for Liam and Matt, especially for Matt as this project is his doing and gives him the opportunity to explore his darker desires that he can't in Bullet For My Valentine! Axewound is definitely heavier balls out metal, but some may be disappointed still at the magnitude of heaviness or the prospect of more metal than Bullet, as although yes it is more manic than Bullet, they are no grind-core or death metal act. This is pure fun messing around metal, that whilst being musically technical and pitch perfect doesn't take itself to seriously, but it is still seriously excellent!! Especially with the feeling of intensity and urgency that you get throughout, although this may be down to the fact that the album was recorded in just 11 days! Impressive stuff! This is truly enjoyable head banging metal, which is for the most part relentless! CL
Stone Sour - House Of Gold & Bones Part 1 This is the fourth studio album from Stone Sour, the album is the first part of a double concept album, and is also set to have a comic book released for the stories behind the albums. The concept behind the two records is about a man at a crossroads in his life, having to choose whether to put the past behind him and move on or to let it consume him. Obviously a lot of thought and effort has gone into this album and concept, so you would hope that the initial piece, being the album songs itself would be a strong release to back up the big ideas ahead... First track, "Gone Sovereign" is a excellent opener, displaying both Corey's clean and aggressive vocals equally well and in a super catchy fashion that is typical of Stone Sour! As soon as I heard this song I couldn't get it out of my head! The guitar solo is a beast, guitarists Josh Rand and Jim Root have really let loose, add all this together and this make this track 'paramount'! "Absolute Zero" continues on from the first track, giving a great sense of fluency, and like "Gone Sovereign", this one will 'absolutely' stand out through its sheer memorable riffs, licks and characteristically cleverly written lyrics from the very talented front man that is Corey Taylor. "The Travelers, Pt. 1" is a short acoustic track, which could be because part 2 comes later in the journey through the album. Corey's flawless vocals make this track really stand out, as well as the strong touching lyrics. The accompanying chords and backing sounds add to the atmosphere of the song, especially at the very end, as it closes on a sinister dramatic sound, perhaps hinting at what is to come later. The interesting cryptic titled "RU486" is reminiscent of the bands 'Get Inside' sound and this is by far the heaviest offering to date by Stone Sour which shows Corey's Slipknot roots more..in fact this could almost be mistaken for a Slipknot track! This mental intriguing track with effective aggressive gang vocals, shouting 'going down alive' is a definite highlight! Acoustic track, "Taciturn" really highlights Corey's ever talented vocals. Half way through the song it builds more momentum and power. The composition is tremendous, and this album is brimming full of wonderful musicianship - but what else would you expect from the band?! "The Travelers, Pt. 2" is much heavier than the first part with grabbing dramatic instruments opening the song, and then they all die down and a haunting piano comes in to back up echoey vocal effects. The song overall has a much stronger feel than fist half, with the deliberate repeat of same lyrics, but this time with more strength and emphasis. Last track, "Last Of The Real" ends things on a heavier note and with a strong feeling of determination and a fighting attitude, helping to set up the next part of the concept I imagine. The fact that this has a concept behind it I think has made the song-writing and composition stronger and due to the nature of the story the music is darker mostly throughout and has a lot of depth to get the point across; the whole idea is very clever and the music matches the genius behind it. The guitar work from Josh Rand and Jim Root is exceptional with plenty of heavy riffs and intricate fast solos, and of course not to mention Corey's impressive vocals that have a way of always fitting to the occasion whatever it may be! This album may just be Stone Sour's best yet in terms of versatility and ambition, making this album simply stunning and thought provoking..I can't wait to see how the next instalment progresses and how the story ends! CL
Crowns – Stitches In the Flag Cornwall quartet Crowns have only been around since 2010, but have already caused quite a stir. They released their EP ‘Full Swing’ earlier in the year and are now preparing to release their debut album ‘Stitches In the Flag’ on 15 November. Opening with title track ‘Stitches In the Flag’, the quartet drag in listeners with their quirky and sweet acoustic punk; twisting consistently tight drumming with spiky riffs creates a kooky track that’s fun to listen to. They move swiftly onto tracks such as ‘My London’ and ‘Full Swing’. Husky and gritty vocals wrap around a melodic bass line, creating depth in a sea of harmony. With raw and heartfelt lyrics exploding forth during ‘China Clay’ and ‘Safe Train Home’, Crowns are doing everything in their power to further pull their listeners into a whirlwind of emotion and harmonious melody. As Crowns finish off with ‘Little Eyes’, a rousing end to a solid debut album, the quartet have proved that they’re definitely ones to watch. JT
Departures - Teenage Haze UK-based Departures have been capturing a lot of attention recently with their emotionally-driven music. And after releasing their debut album this five-piece are getting ready to unleash their second album 'Teenage Haze'. Opening track 'Drained Out' begins with consistently tight and lightning quick drumming; with an energetic bass drum and shredding riffs, Departures launch straight into a full-out assault. Guttural vocals are drenched in emotion, and really pack a punch. And title track 'Teenage Haze' almost seems foreboding upon starting; marching drum work and quieter riffs make for an almost poignant and melancholy interval. Tracks such as singles '21' and 'Those Miles Meant Everything' throw riproaring riffs and a deliciously brutal bass line in our face, whilst their energy continues to pulsate through our veins. The gritty and grinding vocals during closing track 'Small Steps' is the perfect way to sign off this phenomenal album. Our verdict? The moment it comes out, buy it. You need to have this in your life. JT
The Hickey Underworld - I'm Under the House, I'm Dying Hailing from Belgium, alternative indie quartet The Hickey Underworld have released their latest album 'I'm Under the House, I'm Dying' via PIAS. Playing shows all over Europe, it's time to see how they've fared on their second album. And, to be quite frank, it's poor from the start. 'Untitled' consists of weak vocals that make it sound as though their vocalist is either being strangled or having his balls cut off. Their drum work is solid, but it's nothing special and it falters in places. Discordant riffs are hastily slapped together during tracks such as 'Year of the Rat' and 'The Frog' - despite advertising themselves as indie, it seems as though The Hickey Underworld are trying to throw in elements of mathcore, with their hurriedly thrown together riffs. All in all, 'I'm Under the House, I'm Dying' seems to be an album that was carelessly thrown together, creating something rather slipshod. It doesn't strike the listener with anything new and once this album finishes playing, they're an easily forgotten band. JT
Papa Roach – The Connection Older generations will remember Papa Roach for their role in the short-lived rap-rock revolution of the 1990s and early 2000s. Once synonymous with bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Cyprus Hill, many would be surprised to hear that Papa Roach - who had appeared on MTV Cribs in days past - are still making music in 2012. With the release of the The Connection, Papa Roach have again dusted off their instruments for album number seven, proving that there is still space for their brand of rock music. ‘Still Swingin’ announces Papa Roach’s determination to stay relevant, combining raucous rock with out-dated and cheesy 90s electronica. Lead vocalist Jacoby Shaddix’s voice remains familiar - strained yet powerful, while his lyrics continue to lack in subtlety, screaming “We are a beacon in the dark/A lighthouse risen from the heart” in true Papa Roach style. ‘Where Did the Angels Go’, ‘Give Me Back My Life’, ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘Won’t Let Up’ all serve-up something pretty similar – heavily distorted guitars, churning drums and simple anthemic hooks. If you’re a Papa Roach fan then this will be just what you were expecting. If you’re new to the band, it’s unlikely that this lack of originality will leave you wanting more. ‘Before I Die’ and ‘Leader Of The Broken Hearts’ act as the emotional anchors of the record, these softer songs offering a clichéd but loveable break from the over-grown angst found elsewhere. However, Shaddix’s pause from yelling does sound a little bit like Benji Madden of Good Charlotte – a comparison that he probably wasn’t going for. ‘Silence Is The Enemy’ and ‘As Far As I Remember’ present Papa Roach’s best attempts at modernising, merging electronica with their hard-rock instrumentals, which results in something resembling a new spin on their old style. The Connection is an admirable attempt from Papa Roach. One can’t help but feel that they are still riding off of the success of Infest (released in 2000), but twelve years later this band is still making music with passion and while this may not translate perfectly onto the new record, Papa Roach is still flying a flag for a style of rock that they believe in. RM
Sonic Boom Six - Sonic Boom Six If you haven't heard of Sonic Boom Six, then you must have been living with your head in the sand for the last year or so. Combining explosive rock with ska punk, a dash of dubstep before mixing it with pop and grime, this Manchester quintet are an energetic, eclectic hybrid mix - and there's no holding them back. Having released their self-titled album earlier in the month, Sonic Boom Six are slowly taking over the world. Singles 'For the Kids of the Multiculture' and 'Virus' kicks off the album with gusto - gang vocals mixed with Laila K's incredible vocals slide over consistently tight drum work. The use of synths during 'S.O.S. (State of Shock)' along with in-your-face riffs mixes well, as Sonic Boom Six use their explosive energy to reel in their fans and potential recruits. Tracks such as 'Gary Got a Gun' and 'Karma Is a Bitch' display all the aggression and raw, gritty abrasiveness that's found in punk and rock, but somehow manage to channel their energy into delivering anthems that wouldn't look out of place on the dance floor. As the charged Sonic Boom Six turn things down with closing track 'Karma Is a Lady', it's obvious as to why this quintet have been taking the UK by storm. With energy levels that are through the roof and the delivery of perfectly executed tracks, Sonic Boom Six are merely seeing this album as a stepping stone to causing riots all over the world. JT
Hoobastank – Fight or Flight California based Hoobastank are best known for The Reason which set the charts alight in 2003, the heyday of pop-rock, when bands like Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman reigned supreme. In a new decade and their first fulllength since 2001 to be released without Island Records, Hoobastank’s Fight o Flight is a statement that they’re here to stay.
This is Gonna Hurt’ blows open the doors to this record, the hardest hitting and darkest track of the bunch setting the tone for the songs to come. Doug Robb’s vocals tear through the huge drum beat and buzzing guitars, with a rough-edge similar to that of Puddle of Mudd’s Wes Scantlin. ‘Slow Down’, ‘Sing What You Can’t Say’ and ‘Magnolia’ provide the poignant moments on the record, sitting somewhere between the emotion of Yellowcard and the country triteness of Daughtry. Can You Save Me’, ‘No Destination (Fight or Flight)’ and ‘A Thousand Words’ fall by the way-side with forgettable verses and instrumentals which fail to pack a punch. Meanwhile, ‘Incomplete’ illustrates just what Hoobastank is capable of – perfect for a summers day drive, it encapsulates the finer points of Robb’s vocal style complimented by the cool, sleek and simple guitar work of Dann Estrin.
Fight of Flight captures Hoobastank’s split sound – one side is out-and-out hard-rock, and the other is the soft chart-rock of the early 2000s. This Jekyll and Hyde sound isn’t monstrous, but rather suits what Hoobastank has been doing for almost twenty years – striking a balance on a tight-rope between genres and doing it in fine style. RM
Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension Concept-rockers Coheed and Cambria have built up quite the backcatalogue. Their epic story has already spanned five records and with the release of the prequel Year of the Black Rainbow in 2010, fans could be forgiven for starting to feel that Claudio Sanchez and Co. had exhausted what had clearly become a franchise. ‘The Hollow’ starts the record in classic Coheed fashion, eerie music-box keys setting the scene for the adventure on which the listener is about to embark. This is followed by ‘Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute’. The longest song (with the longest title) on this relatively short album, this epic characterises everything that Coheed and Cambria stand for – Sanchez’s voice hits every note and goes through every emotion. Meanwhile the return of ex-drummer Josh Eppard is made evident as the time signatures twist and turn through a world of chaos. The Afterman’ and ‘Goodnight, Fair Lady’ show-off Coheed’s softer side, one which turns off metal-heads but keeps fans of other genres coming back for more. In fact, it’s on these tracks that Coheed’s multiplicity of talents come to fruition and Sanchez’s lyrical mastery is at its finest. The next three instalments in the ‘Key Entity Extraction’ series never really get going, lacking both in hook or progressive-goodness, but ‘Vic The Butcher’ will no doubt please those who were looking for a bit of bite with their bark on this record. ‘Subtraction’ shows heavy influences from Sanchez’s side-project The Prize Fighter Inferno and ends the record in a dream-like haze, as beautiful vocals dance over a smooth electronic bed. When the double-album The Afterman was announced it raised concerns that these veterans of prog-metal were trying to milk their previous success. However, Coheed and Cambria have proved that they are the masters of their concept and are musicians first and story-tellers second. The Afterman: Ascension is a return to form and shows that there’s plenty left to come from Coheed and Cambria. RM
Bad Books - II
Bad Books, the indie rock super group that is Kevin Devine and Andy Hull and his Manchester Orchestra. The collaboration began when Kevin toured along with Manchester Orchestra in November–December 2008 in support of his EP I Could Be with Anyone, and followed by the release of the split EP entitled I Could Be the Only One in January 2010. Their self titled debut was released in 2010 and now their back with this second full length release. First track, "The After Party" opens with a nice memorable little riff, the overall sound is unusual and different..in a good way! The vocals are interesting placed in an atmospheric/ambient surrounding, which begins to pick up towards the end with the introduction of more instruments and a change in tempo.
Single track, "Forest Whitaker" displays a very different sound to the rest with synth sounds, electronic drums and pop vibes! Definitely stands out for its catchy sound, interesting unconventional lyrics and the memorable whistling featured - this one will stick with you! A brilliant choice for a single! "It Never Stops" opens with gentle vocals but the song picks up pace and becomes an upbeat number in terms of sound, not lyrically, with effective dual vocals. It contains a great strong chorus, which is the best bit of song..which is what you want really!
Strangely titled "Pyotr" is a soothing yet unsettling acoustic track, which shows off Hull's vocals well in this telling of the tale of a very messy love triangle, involving Peter The Great, The Tsar of Russia placing his eadulterous wife's lover's head in a jar! Not many songs about that!.. Mid tempo ballad "Petite Mort" has a great sound which again makes this another stand out track, as shows an obvious change in sound; has almost a folk vibe to it. Superb well thought out lyrics, which seem somewhat sombre and negative, matching the sound, making it overall downbeat but whilst maintaining some optimism through the instruments and vocals. Track "42" is the shortest track featured where Hull's vocals take centre stage which makes for a simple yet very powerful song! Last track, "Ambivalent Peaks" displays beautiful baring vocals from Devine with unusual and lovely tones. This is a very calming track to end on with thought provoking lyrics. This album is very interesting in terms of style, lyrics and sound, making it very intriguing and unique. The collaboration was a smart move, as it seems to work very well and blend together, complimenting each other perfectly whilst creating something quite different, inventive and diverse, which is always an achievement! I think this album would appeal to a lot of people with different musical tastes. CL
Murder Circuit If you are yet to become familiar with this Welsh bunch, Murder Circuit, we strongly advise you do so immediately. The band have just released a four track E.P. for all to download for the reasonable price of nothing. Each track demonstrates the band’s melodic approach on hardcore with clear influences being the likes of Comeback Kid and Dead Swans.The gang vocals in ‘Lost Forever’ prove to be a great kick-start for a track with hard hitting lyrics and crushing vocals ‘No Regrets’ is a slightly pacier number which will leave you headbanging in public potentially, so be warned. This is the strongest track on the E.P., concluding with a decimating breakdown. These guys are one to watch so keep your eye out and download the E.P. It’s free, no excuses. AG
Basement - 'Colourmeinkindness' This quartet from Ipswich deliver old school emo as it should be. This is the bands second release which shamefully looks to be their last, as they are going on an indefinite hiatus. So seeing as this is most likely their last album how do they go out?!... Opening song, "Whole" is melodic with great vocals that are diverse and flawless. Basically this track is brilliant..not really a 'whole' lot else to say! I can't find anything to complain about! A strong start to the album!..Second track, "Covert" opens with a downbeat gloomy intro and the song has elements of grunge and good ambience throughout. The unique and versatile vocals really stand out and seep into your mind..but you won't exactly resist it! Each member has their moment to shine, with great drumming and a stripped back section that highlights the bass. "Spoiled" has great lyrics, sound, riffs and stirs things up with its dynamism and tempo changes, making it more edgy than previous tracks and has almost an grunge like vibe again - this is a high light for me! "Breathe" opens on a calm note, and the rest of the song is filled with such compassion and emotive vocals you almost begin to 'wish' that the album could have been bad, just so you don't have to be upset when you realise that this is most likely their last release! Closing song, "Wish" uses fuzzy guitars, and a nice use of quiet almost whispered vocals and loud shouts, as with the instruments, which is something they master well in their overall sound..which is very effective! Its almost ironic that the final song..perhaps ever from the band is called wish, as when you reach the end of what has been a superb album you don't want it to end, we can only 'wish' that they decide to not call it a day for once and for all! This album is superb, you are both pleased and upset when you reach the end, as this band really sums up the proper true sense of how emo music should sound, but they are calling it a day perhaps too early, as they have a lot more to offer, this album marks a milestone for the bands career, in more ways than one! CL
I Call Fives - I Call Fives New Jersey pop-punks, I Call Fives, have been working tirelessly since their first EP release in 2008, touring relentlessly and releasing a second EP and also a split 7â€? with their good friends Rust Belt Lights. This has given them a sturdy platform from which to launch their self titled, debut, full length. Opener Late Nights makes it abundantly clear that I Call Fives worship at the alter of pop-punk pioneers such as New Found Glory and Fall Out Boy. Super catchy vocals, guitar hooks and an up-beat tempo that is tailor made for big live sing-alongs. Itâ€™s much of the same for the rest of the album with only Wrong Things slowing the pace slightly and letting you catch your breath. Highlights include the fast paced Regrets and Setbacks which will get crowds moving and The Fall Guy with its neat lead guitar work and a chorus that will surely have fans screaming back every word. I Call Fives are not breaking any boundaries but they have crafted a solid pop-punk album and one that should see them move closer to the top of the pack. GM
Deftones - Koi No Yokan This is the seventh album from the champions of alternative metal. The album title is Japanese for the sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love. Which is quite fitting. All the Deftones fans out there that have been following them from the start will know they will most likely love this new release (well hopefully!), but some bands that have a lot of years behind them sometimes over time sway from their core sound, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, so you begin to wonder, what next?! Can the band keep pulling out albums to appease old fans and new?!.. Opening song, "Swerve City" starts with nice dark groovy riff, with no shortage of massive powerful vocals and superb melodies that will grab you from the off! "Romantic Dreams" has a great intro, with fantastic rhythms throughout and dynamic vocals from Chino. It is unconventionally soothing and almost 'hypnotizing', with well constructed atmospheric sounds and great instrumental parts. Single, "Leathers" has a haunting intro that will give you the chills, and then it suddenly explodes to life with epic vocals! The big chorus and kick ass breakdown, is a great combo..it will loom with its almost eerie presence!.."Poltergeist" has a interesting opening of clapping followed by dirty dark guitar riffs, this will easily be a fan favourite that all can join in on! "Entombed" opens with a beautiful guitar riff, with a atmospheric feel throughout which is very serene and ethereal, making it quite relaxing, leaving Chino to really show of his stuff. This is such a soothing song, it feels like its reaching deep into your soul and will become 'trapped' there long after hearing it! "Graphic Nature" displays fantastic stand out drumming throughout, topped with an awesome dark riff and flawless vocals; again as seen previously, this is executed with intellect and precision! First official single, "Tempest" opens with stripped back effective soft vocals from Chino, making a great build up of atmosphere. I instantly fell in 'love' with this, due to the stand out distinctive chorus, striking and very dramatic vocals and sounds. "Gauze" offers a heavy opening, brilliant high notes from Chino, sick guitar tones and catchy brutal riffs, making for some great head-banging moments and goes out on a brilliant instrumental outro. "Rosemary" the longest song, is quite masterful! With soaring vocals and relentless instruments, especially towards the end; the song shows a great mix up of diversity, something seen in all songs throughout the album. The greatly titled "Goon Squad" has another very cool intro which makes way for the awesome downbeat riff and Chino's more aggressive vocals. This is one of the heaviest songs, which could be compared to the likes of, "Back To School". Closing track, "What Happened To You" shows great dynamism, especially through the different drum beat - this is a simply stunning and beautiful way to end this momentous release! With some albums you fear the start is so good that it might begin to deteriorate as it goes on...this is most certainly not the case with this album! Every song is fluid, dynamic and stunning in its own right, this is definitely their most dynamic and intelligible offering to date, with Chino Moreno on top form with his vocal capabilities! There is a big focus on the craft and construction of the songs, it is clear a lot of effort has gone into the distinct intricate intros and heavy outros. The title of the album seems very fitting as this is the case with the album - before you hear it you suspect you will love it, and then upon hearing it you know you love it!..in the majority of cases, instantly, however some may take longer to uncover its charm! CL
Rolo Tomassi - Astraea Eva Spence and co are back with their third full-length album and let it be said that these guys just seem to get better and better. ‘Astrea’ is the result of some recent line up changes but fear not, this record is heavier than ever. The exit of the band’s guitarist closely by the bassist due to ‘creative differences’ may have come as a shock to the fellow band members who they once seemed so closely knit with, but the remaining members have created an album which certainly voices their frustrations both vocally and instrumentally. As with Rolo Tomassi’s previous works, synths are ever-present in this record, with their use in the first track acting as the perfect build up to what is an overly solid album. Ex Luna Scienta is a prime example of Spence’s vocal range with the ferocious screams being separated and partnered with her pleasantly soothing singing. The remainder of the album is not as easy going and the band break into what they know best with larynx-shattering vocals mixed with breaks of melodic guitars. The album concludes in the best way with Illuminaire lasting for the best part of 8 minutes, satisfying to say the least.
It’s difficult to know which genre to place this Sheffield-based 5-piece in, but for the sake of this review lets just call it mathcore. Whatever it is, it’s the ideal album for a terrible day. Rolo Tomassi are doing it their own way and we’re digging it. AG
Parkway Drive - Atlas This is the fourth album from the Australian Metalcore act, will they show the 'world' what they are truly made of?!..
Opening track, "Sparks" sets an atmospheric beautiful yet ominous tone with growing tension, gaining more momentum as it goes on and immediately makes clear what the lyrical themes will consist of; a short yet concise opening to the album! "Old Ghost/ New Regrets" drives straight in with a furious melodic riff, with menacing vocals from Winston, the lyrics "We're born with nothing and we die alone!" will get etched into your skull! "Wild Eyes" is a stand out song - from the opening riff you know its going to be a top track! This is a definite fan favourite, you can imagine huge crowd participation for the memorable vocal chants! Single "Dark Days" opens on a dramatic note representing the time and count down to 'the funeral of the earth'. With impressive catchy riffage, a brilliant hard hitting chorus, and again great use of gang chants. This is metalcore at its best! "The River" may surprise you with the introduction of female vocals and gentle guitar riffs. Not that this takes the forefront of the song, as it soon breaks into heavy vocals and fast riffs. Whilst it still sounds like themselves, they show more diversity and more depth, and experiment, but not too much. "Swing" gets us back into full throttle metalcore with relentless drumming, sick shredding, and hard hitting breakdowns. Title track, "Atlas" demonstrates beautiful strings in a backdrop of heavy riffs adding great depth. The overall tone is very sorrowful, made more so by the very dramatic sounds and use of different instruments, which is excellently placed and Winston's vocals along with the sound is very expressive about their concerns of the planet.
With this album the band have taken on the 'weight of the world' just as Atlas the mythological greek god did, but through the issues we are plagued with on earth; the themes of equality and the environment 'sparks' what could be some of their best song writing and lyrical material yet! They delve into something a little different for them, but not to a huge degree, and thankfully never lose their old immense sound. I think this album quite deservedly marks them out as one of the world's best metalcore acts around! CL
Save Your Breath - Recover Save Your Breath return with their new EP ‘Recover’ released on Purgatory Records. The new EP comes after their first full length release in 2011 ‘Vices’ which struck a chord with pop-punk fans within the UK and internationally. ‘Recover’ is another reminder why Save Your Breath are one of the best at what they do, in the UK. The EP begins with the title track ‘Recover’ a fast paced track with consistent drum patterns balanced with the lyrics of the song which blend perfectly to create the ultimate start to a pop punk EP. The chorus is one so typical of Save Your Breath’s music, catchy hooks have been the success of tracks in the past such as ‘Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy’. ‘Recover’ follows this same pattern as previous Save Your Breath numbers with it’s catchy hooks, perfect for fans of the genre. ‘Maps’ has the same nature of the first track, with the drum beats and guitar riffs blending perfectly with the vocals of Kris Richards. ‘Maps’ is even more catchy than the opening track which allows the EP to keep flowing consistently, again a perfect representation of Save Your Breath’s music creating a polished pop punk sound using a perfect blend of catchy lyrics and instrumentation. ‘Skeleton Key’ begins with raw vocals and heavy drum beats. This track isn’t as flowing as the first tracks, but shows the more punchy side of the bands sound. This track is typical of the raw pop punk sound which has been so successful for the likes of The Wonder Years and The Story So Far in recent times. ‘2004’ starts fiercely with fast upbeat drum patterns, again the success of this number relies on the chorus. Although, it isn’t as robust as previous tracks, and the gang vocals are a little on the weak side towards to conclusion of the song, the first blip in a so far strong EP. The next track ‘Ceremony’ is a very dark number, and shows the band aren’t afraid of experimenting with different sounds. Distorted vocals and guitar riffs create an eery sound reminiscent of the sound of grunge and emo bands in the 1990’s. An interesting change of sound which works as an interlude in the EP.
The EP concludes with ‘Touchpaper’ it seems like they have saved the best for last with this track. Strong drum s beats and fast paced vocals are thrown into a blender to create the perfect ending track, gang vocals are much stronger in this track which works well with Kris’s ever consistent raw vocals which are perfect for the hooks. A very interesting EP containing the typical catchy sound that Save Your Breath have always brought to the table, some new sounds which could be used again in future releases. Hopefully now after the success of ‘Vices’ and a new EP released, they can finally push it to the next level on their 2nd full length release and take the worldwide pop punk scene by storm. JP
d Cold Summer – Wake
Wakefield’s Cold Summer come at you with a great blend of melody and aggression, for a band of this genre it is refreshing that they actually sound British in a sea of post-hardcore type bands who cannot help themselves but sing with American accents. Although this 5 track EP is not quite mind blowing the quality riffs, big atmospheres and great melodies juxtaposed against raw early Hopesfall-esque screaming is nothing to be sniffed at, time will no doubt be on these guys side, I’m already looking forward to hearing more from these guys judging by the potential shown here. Moments such as the main riff in Waiting definitely show this band like to groove, there are several times in this EP when I couldn’t resist the urge to bob my head along to the music. Although they label themselves as posthardcore and for the most part they are they have a much more straight up rock and roll type sound than I first expected, a blend that works far better here than it sounds like it might. Overall this is a cool start for a band with some nice ideas going on. JC
Less Than Jake - Greeting and Salutations American Ska Punk band release compilation album by combining two previous releases "Greetings from Less Than Jake" (2011) and "Seasons Greetings from Less Than Jake" (2012) due to the reactions of these releases they decided to join them together to make a full length album, "Greetings and Salutations" and for good measure chucked in two previously unreleased tracks, "Flag Holders Union" and "View From The Middle". To open the album we have the, "The New Auld Lang Syne" which is a great track for the new year and shows that the brass instruments are back and heavily in force! A positive optimistic song about not giving up, that 'starts' the album well! "Younger Lungs" opens with a strong riff. This is a fast paced one with good lyrics and vocals which work well together. Again the brass instruments are prominent, which really help add to the track, but regardless this is a well composed catchy track anyway! "A Return To Headphones" is a fun fast paced fun track, and as always its characteristically catchy, with good relatable lyrics! The comical "Harvey Wallbanger" about an alcoholic beverage/cocktail opens with a fun sing-along start! This is one infectious song about drinking! Previously unreleased "Flag Holders Union" offers a slightly more heavier sound, and takes the tempo up a notch and isn't quite as upbeat as previous tracks. "Can't Yell Any Louder" is the shortest song on this compilation, and is another upbeat optimistic ska infused song, which uses gang vocals to add the emphasis of 'louder'! The other unreleased track, "View From The Middle" again has a bit more of a downbeat sound and also like "Flag Holders Union" cranks up the tempo also making this one more of a meaner track, compared to the upbeat ska sounds shown on most of the album! A nice addition to the album, which stands out. "Oldest Trick In The Book" has a very reggae ska feel with a slower tempo than previous songs. This is a great track about reflecting on the future! "Done And Dusted" takes us in a different direction for a short period, nice fast paced riffs and melodies. Last track "Life Led Out Loud" opens with a great jangly riff and fires into fast instruments! Has good lyrics and one of the best choruses. This is a nice fast one to end on, especially given the title! Can see why they decided to combine these two great releases, as both brilliant typical Less Than Jake that perhaps displays a more ska infused sound than some of their previous material and a lot of emphasis on the brass instruments which is a good move in my opinion! All the songs fit well together, and the addition of the two new songs will please the fans, especially as they offer something a bit different, helping to break up the album and give a bit of diversity! Less Than Jake have been around for a long time, so the addition of a compilation fits well with their discography and will go down well with the fans! CL
Tonight Alive - What Are You so Scared Of? Since their highly acclaimed EP release earlier this year, fans have been eagerly waiting for Tonight Alive’s full length album; the wait is finally over. The songwriting and production on this album shows considerable progression for the band, due largely to the studio prowess of legendary producer Mark Trombino, who has worked with the likes of; Jimmy Eat World and Blink 182. It is a 14-track barrage of razor-sharp hooks, catchy riffs and soaring vocal melodies that raises the bar far above anything the band has done before. But, if I am going to be critical, after a couple of tracks, a pattern starts to emerge though that makes ’What Are You So Scared Of?’ feel slightly one dimensional. The majority of the tracks follow this structure: Explosive introduction that gives way to a clean verse building up to an energetic chorus and so on. It doesn’t kill the album entirely but it does make you wish that they would just stick with what they are best at and keep the tempo up. All in all, a refreshing take on a tried and tested method of pop punk. Fans of Mayday Parade and We Are The In Crowd prepare for a new addition to your collection. AJ
Muse - The 2nd law As a fan of previous Muse albums, I am really disappointed that Muse have taken this road with the new release. The problem with the 2nd law is it is less a cohesive album and more of a collection of diverse songs that just do not flow. But, itâ€™s not all doom and gloom, if I were going to look at this album from a â€œmuse virginâ€? fans point of view, there are many positives. From the epic Supremacy to the funky Panic Station, or the subdued guitar genius of Animals to the chilling isolated system, there are many highlights. The songs big freeze and liquid state may be weak links, but the rest of the album is strong. It's a much more diverse and interesting record than the resistance, with Muse showing the bombastic sound that made them famous ahead of the manufactured sound from their previous effort. You may not like the album, but you cannot complain of a lack of heavy songs-survival, Supremacy, Liquid state and possibly even Follow Me are all loud tracks. It's heavier than the resistance, and again features a wide range of genres, with influences coming not just from Queen, but also from INXS, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and even Stevie Wonder. The addition of two tracks by bassist Chris Wolstenholme is also a welcome addition, as he has a good voice and produced a great track in Save Me. Overall, the album is over the top. But I respect muse for trying to push the boundaries with their music. AJ
Conquer The Decade - Let's Hear It For The Vague Blur Upcoming Welsh Rock quintet have played alongside the likes of Young Guns, The King Blues and Exit Ten, been featured in Kerrang magazine and had airplay on BBC Radio 1, so clearly their doing something right! With their reputation spreading where will their second EP "Let's Hear It For The Vague Blur" take them... The title track has an interesting melody and rhythms all set at a fast tempo, with nice vocals which fit the music well. The guitar work is impressive, with lots going on in terms of style and technique, and the chorus is very memorable. This dynamic opener is top quality, and offers a good introduction to their style! "Silent Voice" contains some great rock riffs packed with attitude, brilliant well written unconventional lyrics, along side interesting beats. There is alot going on instrumentality, without becoming indistinguisable. Vocalist, Dean Koash has quite a unusual voice and great range, which layers the instruments well and flows nicely. "More Teeth Than Kind Words" is a more harder edgy track than previously. As screams are introduced with fast heavy riffs backing them. The chorus is particularly angry and fierce, but there is good contract between aggressive and clean vocals. Again some musical chaos is present in the greatest sense in parts - amongst the screams the instruments in the background are filled with articulate and superb riffs, with technical guitars and a slick solo. This is a definite highlight in my opinion, especially as it shows more of a different side to the other songs. "The Project" has clever well written lyrics, effortless vocals,and lots of glorious melodies and structures, making this a stand out track which is enjoyable throughout its ever changeable journey. Their sound is a fusion of many musical styles, from blues inspired riffs, rock 'n' roll to harder rock, but they still largely maintain their own individuality, and in doing so have created an exciting and fresh sound which is something that shouldn't be ignored! I think more attention will be coming their way! So 'let's hear it for'..Conquer The Decade! CL
Fell On Black Days - Talion Metal Thrash Quintet from South Wales unleash their debut album, having had the pleasure of sharing the stage with bands such as Beholder, Sacred Mother Tongue, Revoker and The Defiled now marks their time to shine in the spotlight... First track, "Ends With Me" certainly get things of to a good start, and should hook you in from the off.. "Mea Culpa" is a Latin phrase that translates as "my mistake" or "my fault" - this is one of best tracks..whatever they did, at least the outcome led to this menace! Great technical thrash with lots of melody and brilliant riffs throughout. "Some More Than Others" opens with a excellent guitar riff, and guitarists Mark Tranter and Matt Hall get to some off their skills, something which is executed well in the entirety of the album. Title track "Talion" is one of the heaviest tracks to grace our ears. Fast furious riffs, superb dark screaming, with great clean melodic vocals in the mix also. This is one solid seriously awesome track, and once again we are treated to more devilishly fast guitar licks that seep with talent! One should be 'punished' if they dislike this! "Tooth And Nail" is a superb thrash track..it certainly hits the 'nail' on the head' making this a definite stand out track that I think most will be able to mosh along too and sink their teeth into! "Bring Out Your Dead" is one belligerent song filled with brilliant deadly guitars and vocals from talented frontman, Gavin Robinson who has a great metal voice and range! Last track "Bone Of Contention" has the ferocity of two rabid dogs fighting over a bone! This is a very catchy track which is bone crunchingly good! A brilliant end to the album! And as with all the other tracks maintains its brutality without losing its melody and meaning. All members are brilliant at what they do, making this must hear melodic thrash metal! It should be an offence to not listen to this! This is impressive work for a debut, I for one can't wait to see what Fell On Black Days do next..I just hope others manage to stumble upon them. CL
Anberlin – Vital Floridian quintet Anberlin has been around for a fair few years now, and they’re currently gearing up to release ‘Vital’, their sixth studio release. With a decade of experience under their belt, they’re ready to show everyone just how good they truly are. Opening track ‘Self-Starter’ is deliciously dark from the start. Tough and unyielding drum work sets the pace, layering Stephen Christian’s smooth, mighty vocals on top. Slick and twisting riffs make tracks such as ‘Someone, Anyone’ and ‘Intentions’ roar to life. Anberlin show how much experience they truly have during ‘Vital’. During ‘Innocent’, they slow the tempo – a melodic bass underlies soothing vocals, lulling listeners into a false sense of security. Why is it false? It’s due to the fact that Anberlin launch another (excellent) assault on our ears with ‘Desires’, another rip roaring song that sets veins on fire. As Anberlin wind down with ‘God, Drugs & Sex’, this Floridian quintet have effortlessly proven why they have legions of fans; a dedicated quintet, Anberlin have produced a champion album that will cause people to be hitting the re-wind button for a very, very long time. JT
The Undivided – Safety When people think of Wales and its music scene, most automatically think of bands such as Funeral For a Friend, Lostprophets and The Blackout to name but a few such groups. However, one group that people should really start talking about is The Undivided, an indie-rock quartet that formed in 2009. Playing gigs with Ash and The Excerts, and releasing their EP ‘Machines’ in 2011, this young quartet have been creating waves within the music industry. Having released ‘Safety’ this October, it’s high time to see what the fuss is about with these boys. Kicking off with ‘7 Hours’, the quartet explodes with burning energy. A quiet bass line gives way to loud and big riffs, complimented with tightly tuned drumming. With a two-pronged vocal attack, courtesy of Joe and Lew, this South Wales group have already started to sweep us away. Tracks such as ‘Panic’ and ‘Open Eyes’ highlights their young talent; a whirlwind of harmonies, The Undivided use catchy hooks and bouncy choruses to swell the ranks of their fan base, relying on their blistering energy. But they also know when to slow things down a notch. Title-track ‘Safety’, which features Welsh singer Just Harrie, is a perfect example. Sweet, gut-wrenching vocals slide beautifully over a poignant piano score; delicate feminine vocals mix incredibly well with the rougher, male vocals. As they finish with ‘Together-Alone’, yet another rousing track that contains saucy guitar licks and a melodic bass line, The Undivided have definitely caught our undivided attention. And it’s time that you gave them your attention and time too. JT
Lower Than Atlantis - Southampton MO’Club - October 2nd Tonight we’re in Southampton’s Mo Club about to witness what looks set to be something special. With the rain pouring down outside the queue for the sold out show was rushing to get inside, ready for the fun to begin. Kicking off the night wass Gnarwolves, with them playing to a filtering in crowd it was clear they weren’t going to get the reaction they truly deserved. With a scattering of fans in the audience seeing a few audience members singing along to their tracks meant a huge deal to them. Performing every track from debut EP, Cru with such strength and confidence it’s clear these guys have a bright future ahead of them. Having made the journey across the ocean from Maryland, USA, The Dangerous Summer took no time in gracing the crowd with a flawless performance of tracks from both their albums Reach For The Sun and War Paint. With a large supply of fans already in the audience it was clear at this point that the night had truly started… Main support for tonight’s show were Don Broco, who having already gained a lot of media attention and an ever growing fanbase were sure to have a good time tonight. The Hertfordshire quartet performed tracks from their debut album Priorities including Whole Truth and new single Hold On along with old fan favourites such as Thug Workout causing chaos in the tiny venue. Every time we’ve seen Don Broco they’ve never failed to impress, and this was the same tonight when we were presented with a flawless set. Keep an eye on Don Broco as we’re predicting big things for them in the near future.
It was clear tonight wasn’t going to be Watford quartet’s best since vocalist Mike Duce was suffering from illness just one date in but that didn’t stop them playing their hearts out for their dedicated crowd. Bounded on stage to Love Someone Else it was clear that Duce needed as much crowd support as he could get tonight if he was to get through the eleven strong set. Tonight had allowed Guitarist Ben Sansom, Bassist Dec Hart and Drummer Eddy Thrower to shine above the rest and show their prominence in the band.
The only thing missing was a few more tracks from new album Changing Tune, since the album was released at the start of the tour, probably to promote it, you couldn’t help but feel just playing three tracks from it wasn’t really the right idea. PMA, Go On Strike and Love Someone Else however were strong additions to the set, with the crowd already being able to recite the lyrics back to the amazed quartet. Smiles never left Lower Than Atlantis’ faces and despite the crowd doing much of the singing they had truly pulled off an incredible and memorable set. With the final notes of Deadliest Catch ringing in the crowds ears it was all over and it’s safe to say they seemed pretty happy with what had just been presented to them from all four bands! Tonight it’s clear the odds weren’t in Lower Than Atlantis’ favour, but it didn’t stop them from giving it their all. With their latest album Changing Tune just being realised there’s exciting times ahead for this quartet, jump aboard this ship before you miss the chance! NC
The Revival Tour - Clwb Ifor Bach - October 16th The last time we went to the Revival Tour we experienced one hell of a line up which featured Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano, Brian Fallon, Dave Hause who all took to the stage to show us a night of acoustic goodness. This year, Chuck Ragan has taken the Revival Tour torch by taking to the road with a bunch of other extremely talented acoustic folk such as Jay Malinowski, Emily Barker, Cory Branan, Rocky Votolato. Now, I'm sure we said something similar last year, but we will indeed tell you this again, this tour is very different to anything you've seen before, you never know what songs are going to be played, audience requests are pretty much always accepted by the acts, and also you will always see the acts collaborating with each other live, which in short makes a very exciting atmosphere to be in for sure. Getting the night started in style is none other than Emily Barker who does a perfect job at reducing the audience talk to 0% because basically, everyone is hooked from the first track. Her echoing vocals bounce of the walls, and her unique style of folk music is really cool to check out. She even has a backing violinist to accompany her on stage which enhances an already brilliant set to show off exactly what Emily is capable of. Iif this act is in town again, then please make sure you don't miss out!
Rocky Votolato takes to the stage to share his incredible mix of punk/folk and acoustic awesomeness with the crowd. Every track he showcases is instantly memorable, as the set continues we even see Chuck Ragan take to the stage for a collaboration on the incredible track Fools Gold, which went down an absolute treat. Just like we said earlier, anything can happen, and when it does, it really is fantastic to witness, and collaborations like this, will keep us coming to the revival tour for well...as long as it goes on for!
Cory Branan is such an awesome act to see live, his confidence on stage is so impressive and every song
is completely mesmerising to watch. We must make another note towards the crowd on this performance, because with Cory on some of his tracks the music would be so stripped back that at times you could easily hear anything else in the venue, even the slightest movement! So to have an audience, that were totally silent throughout the whole of tonights performances was really awesome for us, and it really did add bucket loads e more to the already electric and respectable environment. As Branan continued his set he made a brilliant effort to make sure that the crowd was completely glued to what he was doing. It was a brilliant performance. I guess that most people will know Jay Malinowski for his lead role in the brilliant Bedouin Soundclash, but if you read his interview in the last issue of Stencil Mag then you would know that tonight Jay was here to showcase the solo side of career. He showcased a lot of music from his fantastic new album 'Bright Lights And Bruises' which was just fantastic to witness live. Our personal highlight from tonights set would be 'There's A Light' which simply just knocked us of our feet. Also to top an already epic performance Malinowski would occasionally take to the piano on some tracks to show off his extremely talented range as a musician, perfect. Just like Jay, Chuck Ragan was also in the last issue of Stencil Mag, and in that issue Chuck went into a lot of depth about everything that was going on with him right now, from Hot Water Music, to life at home, and also of course his solo career. If you managed to check out this interview then you will know that Chuck is so committed to what he does, and that music is something that will always be a part of his life. So when you see an act like Chuck Ragan live it's always inspiring to see not just how good he is as a musician, but to also see how much he actually loves what he does for a living. As always Chuck does his best at making sure the spectators are having the best time possible. We got spoilt to a back catalogue of delightful tracks such as Nomad By Fate, Meet Me In The Middle, Nothing Left To Prove which are all just simply epic to see live. To add to his solo performance we cannot forget that Chuck is also joined by Joe Ginsberg and Jon Gaunt who are both perfect additions to tonights set up, so with an incredible backing and the unique Ragan combined this was in short just incredible to watch. As the set came to a close the whole of tonights line up decided to come out to sing a couple of tracks live for us, which was just so powerful to see, and as they sang one of our personal highlights of the evening 'Take A Bow' we decided that this part of the set was sort of the icing to the cake, as tonight has just been full to brim with great tunes and sing alongs and with the addition of this outstanding collaboration it made tonight much more than just a 'perfect gig' and more of a night that we will never forget! So to conclude this show has easily achieved a 10 out of 10 rating from us...so whatever you do, if The Revival Tour comes back to the UK next year, and if you have not attended before, then please make sure you don't miss out! AD
Billy Talent - Cardiff Uni - November 18th Don Broco have had an incredible year, their brand new album has gone down extremely well with alternative music scene, and it's taken them up even further on festival line ups all over the country. As we write this, the band have announced their first fall headline tour for Priorities, and, we know that if you are reading this then you would know that their latest album has been chosen by one of our staff as their favourite album of 2012! So yeah, enough about the bands current achievements, and onto their performance tonight. The band kick straight into Priorities and get the crowd jumping from the first note. As the set continues we notice that the band have a new member on the stage, but they soon tell us that their drummers vocals have been suffering slightly, so they have brought in an extra member to make sure that they can still provide the audience with 110%, little facts like this make Don Broco such an awesome band for us, as they do everything they can to give their audience a killer show. As the set continues we get treated to some brilliant tunes like Beautiful Morning, Hold On which both get the mosh pits opening. As the band close with Actors it's clear to note that they have done a fantastic job at warming up the crowd for the rest of the bands tonight, and also maybe next year, the band could easily be headlining a venue of this size.
Awolnation take to the stage next, and provide us with a mix of alternative rock/indie/pop which gives a nice balance to tonights line up, as every act is so different from each other, but also so good at what they do. Tunes like It's Not Your Fault, Sail, and Burn It Down do a great job at getting the crowds attention, we see the crowd jumping up and down to pretty much every track whilst the band go absolutely nuts for every track. We've never had the privilege of seeing these guys live before, and from tonights performance we can certainly say that we would check these guys out again, as they were just simply outstanding. Next year Billy Talent will celebrate 20 years since their formation, and in that time it's clear to note that this band have achieved so much, that every upcoming band dreams off. Their latest record Dead Silence is just brilliant, it's their first record that has continued the number titled sequence and for us it sort of shows that the band have started a new chapter in their career. The album contains some scorching tunes that have elevated the bands success even further, so with a such a descriptive past behind them, and the future that really looks bright in front of them, it's clear to say that tonight was such an exciting time to see the band. They breach the stage and punch straight into their album opener Lonely Road To Absolution which of course leads into their first single Viking Death March which instantly sends the crowd into a frenzy with it's addictive riff that you really can't just stand stand still too. The band continue with huge tunes like Devil In A Midnight Mass, This Suffering, Line & Sinker which easily shows off from the first couple of songs that the band have one heck of a back catalogue of tracks, and that pretty much anything they play next, will keep the crowd going mental. The band slow it down now and then by mixing in classics like Surrender and Diamond on a Landmine which have the crowd singing extremely loudly to every note. New tracks like Man Alive!, Cure For The Enemy, Runnin' Across The Tracks all go down very, very well and with the response they received to these tunes we are certain that these tracks will stay in the bands setlist for the rest of their career. Just before the band leave for their encore call they treat us to Try Honesty and Devil On My Shoulder which is just insane to see live, I mean, for me Try Honesty was the tune that got me into Billy Talent so to still see it getting this kind of response nearly ten years later was just amazing. At this point we must also add that the talent this band has is very impressive, and tonight they were all on top form, Ben hit every single note with ease, Ian (covered from head to toe in sweat) simply melted our minds with his guitar solos, and as the band have only one guitar it really is insane to see that Ian can provide so much to the bands line up all by himself. Aaron and Jonathan are also much more than just a rhythm section that provide that back bone to the band, as they would constantly give everything they got, whilst also going out of their way to prove to the crowd how impressive they are on their individual instruments. The band take a quick breather, and then they head back to the stage to share with us three more tracks. Fallen Leaves is a huge tune, and it gets every single person going crazy with ease. Their brand new single Surprise, Surprise goes down next, and this was great to watch, because for a new tune, the crowd reaction on this song was epic, and we have no doubt that this song will easily be in the encore process for years and years to come as it just knocked us of our feet. As the band punch into their last anthem 'Red Flag' the circle pits get into full motion for the last time, but with the energy that the crowd have tonight, we are sure that if the band decided to continue for another hour (at least) then everyone would still be there! So as we end this review, we would just like to say that if Billy Talent continue with performances like this, then hopefully that 20th anniversary tour will be an arena tour, and if that is the case, then count us in, as this show was easily one of our gigs of the year. AD
Gallows - Camden Underwold - October 20th When it comes to venues to hold a punk gig, it doesn’t come much better than the Camden Underworld, and Saturday was round two of carnage as Gallows played their second consecutive gig at the North London club. The majority of the 500 capacity had already secured their moshing spot in time to catch Marmozets who had just finished touring with pop punkers Young Guns. Certainly a slightly ‘different’ audience to what they had become accustomed to, but the 5-piece succeeded in getting everyone limbered up in preparation for the headliners. If you get the chance, it’s well worth catching these guys. On to the highly anticipated Watford based punk headliners with their refreshed line up. The band walk on to the stage with an edge of confidence which wasn’t particularly present during the Frank Carter days. With deafening roars as Wade MacNeil strides towards the microphone, the band break into ‘Misery’ and the chaos begins. The 5-piece play through a set dominated by tracks from their most recent E.P. ‘Death is Birth’ and the selftitled album with no complaints from the crowd, and who can blame them? The setlist also features a rather fitting version of ‘London is the Reason’ from the band’s second album ‘Grey Britain’ which goes down a treat with the locals. The crazy antics never die down, with crowd surfing playing a fairly large part. A few of the fans even somehow manage to snatch the microphone from MacNeil’s grasp to have a go at fronting the band. It’s fair to say that that’s what comes with a band such as Gallows playing such as The Underworld and it’s clear that MacNeil isn’t phased by it, as he chuckles and shouts“It’s like Gallows fucking karaoke!” The band conclude the set with the classics ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ with the crowd screaming every lyric. MacNeil and co are aware that they will never headline Wembley Stadium, but would they want to? These are the shows that people will remember. AG Doors opened around 7.30pm for the fans buzzing for a night of pop punk legends and pop punk newcomers. On the bill were Californians The Story So Far, New Jersey’s very own Man Overboard and Florida legends New Found Glory and Less Than Jake.
The Road to Warped Tour - Cardiff University November 9th The Story So Far took to the stage at around ten to seven. A small cluster of fans gathered at the front, excited to see the band who have exploded worldwide in a very small period of time. As the first track of their setlist kicked in; a swarm of fans joined the cluster at the front ready to witness the band play most of the songs from their successful first full length ‘Under Soil And Dirt’. The crowd incredible enthusiasm throughout and sang along until their lungs give out. The reception The Story So Far received was fantastic to see. South Wales is a not a place renowned for pop punk fans but they were certainly out in numbers tonight. Tracks like ‘Mt Diablo’ ‘Daughters’ and ‘Quicksand’ were particular highlights and sent the crowd into an absolutely frenzy with constant crowd surfers. The band were on fantastic form with Parker Cannon’s vocals at the centre of the chaos created, his raw vocals perfect to blend in with the nature of the crowd. A fantastic start to the evening and it just shows how far this band have come in a space of a year. Next on stage were Man Overboard who like The Story So Far were touring for the 3rd time in the UK in 2012. Their sugar coated pop punk went down fairly well with the crowd, especially the younger girls at the front of the crowd who seem to know a lot of the more soppy songs that Man Overboard play. It was a varied set list featuring songs from all of their full length releases. The crowd were fairly quiet throughout, although tracks such as ‘Fantasy Girl’ and ‘Montrose’ did go down well with the fans of Man Overboard’s album ‘Real Talk’. Man Overboard are usually criticised for their live performances, but they remained energetic and strong throughout to deliver a good live performance, they concluded the set with ‘Love Your Friends, Die Laughing’ which seems to spark some vocals from the crowd, with it being one of the more popular Man Overboard songs. A good performance in front of a quiet, uninterested crowd with the exception of a few fans.
Road to Warped Tour Review continued... Probably unexpectedly New Found Glory came onto the stage next, although the stage banner was a bit of a give away. This was always going to be a special set with the band playing their ‘Sticks and Stones’ album in full to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of the album in 2002. As expected ‘Understatement’ and ‘My Friends Over You’ were perfect for creating chaos within the venue, gigantic circle pits opened up and there was large movement in the crowd. The noise of the crowd was deafening during ‘My Friends Over You’. Slower songs like ‘Sonny’ and ‘Head on Collision’ calmed the crowd slightly, but they were still singing away showing fantastic energy. The pace soon picked up again thanks to numbers like ‘Never Give Up’ and ‘The Story So Far’ the band and the crowd had given their all to make the one off very special. After they had performed ‘Sticks and Stones’ in full, New Found Glory had 15 minutes of their set remaining to squeeze in some more songs to the delight of the crowd who were extremely sweaty and exhausted at this point. New Found Glory have enough time to pull out ‘All Downhill From Here’, ‘Dressed To Kill’, ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘Hit Or Miss’ each song was well received as the crowd sang along. ‘Hit Or Miss’ was the perfect end to a very exciting and memorable set and it was great to be a part of it.
Lastly, Less Than Jake took to the stage. It was a special night for them too who were celebrating 20 years of being a band. The crowd seemed to find new energy as Less Than Jake teared up the venue with their brilliant ska punk classics. ‘Gainesville Rock City’ and ‘All My Friends Are Metalheads’ were essential in getting the crowd going, the crowd were singing loudly with huge circle pits, crowd surfing and even the odd couple of fans dancing... Less Than Jake are a very humourous band, and very funny moments in their set. They invited to the women security guard to crowd surf from the back of the venue to the stage. They also got three of the ‘stinkiest dudes’ in the room on stage to find out which one was the smelliest. The winner received a bottle of whisky. After the jokes it was back to the live music, Less Than Jake ended with ‘The Ghost of Me and You’ the crowd gathered for a circle pit around the sound and lighting area. The crowd had not had enough from the band, so they decide to chant ‘LESS THAN JAKE’ to encourage the band to do an encore. The band obliged and came back onto the stage to perform another three songs, they had been brilliantly consistent throughout and showed no sign of age after 20 years of being a band. They finished the encore with ‘Plastic cup Politics’ which encouraged the crowd to go crazy and create the perfect end to a very sweaty and enjoyable night at the Great Hall. The old legends showed the younger bands (Man Overboard and The Story So Far) that age doesn’t show on a band and both New Found Glory and Less Than Jake were vocally and instrumentally perfect throughout their sets. Very special night. JP
Fans were beginning to lose patience, but finally the latest addition to the spy series has been unleashed and lets just say, it’s up their with the best 007 films. Skyfall sees Daniel Craig become re-accustomed with his tuxedo and Martini as James Bond returns to fight evil with the help of Dame Judi Dench as ‘M’. Like all Bond movies, this one is not short of any cheesy oneliners, bad guys, or sexy accomplices, but what separates this from every other film from the secret agent series is it’s unique plot. Fear not, there won’t be any spoilers in this review, lets face it, you already know that Bond will survive, we all know that. What matters is how he does it and who is sacrificed as he goes about doing it. Director of the Oscar-winning American Beauty, Sam Mendes’ participation in the latest Bond film appears to be the key element as the film provides it’s fair share of twists and turns, especially regarding the film’s antagonist, Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem. As previously mentioned, this film does have its predictable moments, but the majority of this masterpiece will leave you balancing on the edge of your seat trying to anticipate the films next change in direction, along with it’s next piece of product placement. All in all, brilliantly British.
Who ever said that westerns aren’t cool anymore? Django Unchained sees a cast full to the brim with Hollywood A-listers come together to create what is looking to be one of the best films in the west, this year. Jamie Foxx stars alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and everyones favourite, Samuel L Jackson. How can this seem any cooler? Well taking the reigns of this one as director is the one and only Quentin Tarantino. We all know Tarantino can be hit or miss in terms of films he has directed, but this one looks certain to be a hit. The plot goes along the lines of Django (Foxx) living as a slave, but Waltz-who plays a bounty hunter-comes to his rescue and frees him. The pair then work together to hunt down the vicious Brittle gang and if successful Django can be freed from slavery completely and become reunited with his wife. Expected release is December 25th, what better way to spend the Christmas period. If you’re still unsure whether you want to catch this one, two trailers are available online so be sure to check them out!
You all knew this one was coming. December 13th see a return to Middle Earth in the first part of the Hobbit trilogy with Peter Jackson continuing to direct following the gigantic success of the Lord of the Rings movies. Martin Freeman steps in to the hairy feet of Bilbo Baggins as he ventures out of the homely Shire on the quest for the one ring, an adventure which will not be shy of any obstacles which need to be hurdled, naturally. What is hardest to take when it comes to this three-part series is the fact that we will be waiting a whole 12 months to see the next episode and then another yea to see the finale. Clearly this is a moneymaking ploy from those in charge of producing the movie, but it has to be said that it is not necessary to turn a single book into three separate films. As well as using the same director as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit will also one again feature Andy Serkis as Gollum and Sir Ian Mckellan as Gandalf in what promises to be one of this yearâ€™s cinema highlights. Make sure you book your tickets now to avoid any disappointment!
Title. HALO 4 Developer. 343 Industries Platform(s). 360 UK Release date: Out Now RATED: 16 In a world full of sequels it is hardly worth drawing attention to the fact that this is the 7th FPS in the series, however this is a sequel with a difference… This is HALO without Bungie… and with the recent changing hands of the Star Wars franchise, I am left wondering; has the world gone crazy! or is the hand over of an IP just the thing needed to capture the old magic? For many of us the arrival of HALO 4 is met with trepidation, our beloved franchise that kick started the XBOX era is in new hands, will it be handled with care? Will we get the game loyal HALO fans deserve? The message that greets us upon first loading the game is as follows. ‘thank you for your trust, community, engagement and interest’ 343 Industries is aware that we have trusted them with our baby. The game opens with a beautiful cinematic in which Dr Halsey is talking to an unidentifiable man, the key line being ‘do not underestimate him’, which suggests 343 saying ‘do not underestimate us’, I could be reading into it too much but then my view is reinforced once we come back to the Chief as he slots Cortana back into his helmet the line she says ‘seems like old times’ is a reassuring nod, this is still HALO! The Chief then says ‘ready to get back to work’ and at that point I said HELL YEAH! The narrative as always will not be spoilt by me, but to give you an important bit of backstory; HALO 4 marks a great shift in the franchises narrative direction. It marks the rise of the humans; ceasing to always be ‘on the run’ they are now on the attack and the UNSC is a force to be reckoned with. Humanity is the greatest threat in the galaxy. This shift in power of course needs to be addressed after-all Chief waking from cryo and being able to retire would not make a great game. So after a 4 years 7 months and 10days holiday courtesy of being lost in space after the events of HALO 3, the Chief is back! Cortana awakens us from stasis due to the Dawn being under attack, sure enough the Covenant show up, then it’s business as usual, until you end up on a new Forerunner world… then we set about finding out, why we’ve ended up there? what the Covenant are up too? and as always how we’re going to get out of this mess…? As a reaction to humanities rise to power we see the arrival of a new evil. The Prometheans (No spoilers as to who/what they are) lead by the Didact an awesome powerful antagonist who looks like he’s just stepped out of the classic manga Guyver. All this grandiose narrative is out performed by a rather busty AI, that’s right Cortana is without a doubt the star of the show, her deteriorating mind makes for some fantastic plot twists, ‘AI’s have a lifespan of 7years’ then they go CRAZY!
The story offers previously unprecedented scale you are impacting an entire world, each mission flows seamlessly into each-other, the backdrop to the story is one that pushes this generations visual expectations overwhelming views and life like textures make it very easy to fall into the story. HALO has always played out in blockbuster fashion and HALO 4 really does feel like playing a film action buttoned sequences keep you focused and in the moment, while full cinematic sequences allow for key plot points to be presented in memorable fashion. I did feel that the story got off to a rather slow start, in fact I felt the game only really made an impact in the third level ‘enemy of my enemy’ no spoilers as to why but you won’t be disappointed. The game comes to a more than satisfactory conclusion – scratch that – It is awesome. It will certainly leave you wanting more and more and more. My only gripe came right at the end action buttons are a cheap way to finish a boss and didn’t seem right after everything I’d been through. Its been 11 years since the release of HALO Combat Evolved, since then I would not say that the game has ‘evolved’ much at all, this much awaited addition to the series brings HALO to where I feel it should be. My first word on combat is that it is not easy, especially on the harder difficulty levels, I would definitely say 343 have set the balance right between really freakin hard and impossible. What I am saying is – you will die. Overall I felt the scale of combat did not match the scale of the narrative and rarely did I feel part of any ‘epic battles’, the game favours skirmishes above ‘battles’. Furthermore I felt the latter stages of the game seem very repetitive with similar set peaces and enemies I felt I was playing the same content on a loop. On the upside combat is as always very polished and responsive, guns look and feel amazing, shooting enemies is very satisfying due to great impact reactions. The AI is terrifying at times and will adapt to your play style on the higher difficulty levels. Making for some very (omg I am dumb moments) As with all the HALO games there is enough variation in combat to keep you interested, the usual flying, driving and sneakyish missions are all there. New vehicles such as the Mantis, which looks like it should have always been in the universe keep the game feeling fresh ‘a lot changes in 4 years’. Important to note the game feels like a HALO game, 343 are not trying to reinvent the wheel and given little time you’ll be popping grunts in the head with the pistol like it was 2001. Weapons are important to me and thankfully as Cortana says ‘a lot changes in 4 years…’ evidently A LOT! changes in 4 years. The addition of the Prometheans brings a whole new arsenal and both the Human and Covenant guns have been overhauled. All three sets have a similar range of weapons, all with unique looks and reloads. Some note worthy additions are the Sticky Detonator which shoots remote explosive darts and the SAW which is everything you could ever want from a machine gun.
HALO 4 builds further on the use of suit mods available in both the campaign and VS such as Decoy – which sees a projected version of yourself charge to where you point, perfect for distracting a group of foes. FF vision – the ability to see enemies through walls and fog etc… and of course my favourite Jet packs, there is a wide range to choose from and everyone will have their favourites. If you are still laughing through the campaign on legendary it may be worth looking at the ‘Skulls option’ offering the chance to make the game even harder enabling handicaps such as black eye ‘shields don’t recharge unless you melee enemies’… some of these options are not for the casual gamer… Visually the game is incredible - as in ‘I didn’t know games could look this good’ lighting is used like no game I have ever seen before. At times blinding you, it feels like ‘real’ light that reacts to the surroundings, reflecting, interacting and wrapping the game with beauty. Textures are incredibly detailed, this may just be the best looking game ever on consoles… not to be out done the sound team have clearly upped their game, meatier gun noises, amazing voice acting and superb music. It’s HALO turned up to 11! The new foe brings new Forerunner technology that isn’t similar to either Covenant or Human, meaning the game has a much more unique feel, although after spending what feels like forever in Forerunner structures you can end up feeling a strong desire for a change of scenery. However the environment serves it’s purpose as a backdrop to the rather epic narrative, it is atmospheric incredibly detailed and just feels grittier both in content and art style/texture. It simply feels more adult. I did miss the wildlife found in HALO Reach, it is elements like that which make a gaming world feel ‘real’ most of HALO 4 feels like a set piece I refer to the notion of ‘playing a film’.
So it would be silly to release a HALO game without taking advantage of the vast online player-base. The HALO franchise has always been synonymous with XBL and it is important for 343 to maintain this. Thankfully playing online is amazing it strikes the right balance between innovation and familiarity. There is a whole host of options options and more options. From different game types: ranging from traditional Team Slayer to Flood which allows each team to take it in turns to be the gruesome foe found in previous HALO games. In short online play is polished, balanced, enjoyable and lacks the frustration of so many other FPS’. There are also some great new maps to master. If playing against people is not your thing then you can always go through the campaign with a friend via off or online co-op. The lack of Firefight has caused some concern but I smell future DLC will remedy this need. Spartan Ops has been brought in to replace this mode, it offers players a chance to take part in missions separate from the main plot, at the moment these are a free feature to XBL gold members so be sure to check them out, as in the future they are likely to require additional cost. To bring this to a close HALO 4 is a game made with a care and consideration for the value of the property. It will leave you ‘wanting’ in a good way: Cut scenes that will leave you wondering if it live action (please o please let their be a HALO film) and a promised sequel for next the generation console, 343 have outdone themselves. I feel it is important to end on this, it may be 343’s first release but they have the best people working for them and one hell of a budget, So I ignore people that say ‘OMG they have like, never made a game before…’ this has no signs of a first attempt it is the evolution of the franchise.
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