TTNG have confirmed a UK tour for this April: April 23 Booking Hall, Dover 24 Borderline, London* 25 Temple Of Boom*, Leeds 26 The Classic Grand, Glasgow w/ Vasa + Adult Fun 27 The Cookie, Leicester 28 Bad Pond Festival, The Arch, Brighton 29 The Cavern, Exeter w/ Beverly Shrills 30 The Exchange, Bristol w/ Chiyoda Ku + Steve Strong * w/ Delta Sleep
The Winter Passing, WOAHNOWS and Fresh will be heading out on a tour of the UK and Ireland next month. February 23rd Old Blue Last, London 24th Chunk, Leeds 25th Sticky Mike’s, Brighton 26th Fighting Cocks, Kingston 27th Rough Trade, Nottingham* 28th Exchange, Bristol* March 1st Brewery Coffee, Maynooth (acoustic) 2nd Grand Social, Dublin 3rd American Bar, Belfast * The Winter Passing and Woahnows only.
Bellevue Days and PATRONS have announced they will be going out on a co-headline run in May. May 9th Green Door Store, Brighton 10th Lending Room, Leeds 11th Castle Hotel, Manchester 12th Frog & Fiddle, Cheltenham 13th Boileroom, Guildford
Deaf Havana have announced a special show as part of WarChild’s Brits Week 2018. They will be collaborating with the London Contemporary Voices and the Parallax Orchestra at London’s Union Chapel on Febraury 23rd, for a set of reworked songs. As they mark their 10th anniversary this year, Birmingham-based punks Templeton Pek will be releasing their fifth album, 'Watching The World Come Undone’ on 23rd February via Drakkar Records.
Metallica will release a remastered version of ‘The $5.98 EP - Garage Days Re-Revisited’ on April 13th. It is part of their ongoing remasters series via their own Blackened Recordings label. 1. Helpless (originally released by Diamond Head) 2. The Small Hours (originally released by Holocaust) 3. The Wait (originally released by Killing Joke) 4. Crash Course in Brain Surgery (originally released by Budgie) 5. Last Caress/Green Hell (originally released by The Misfits)
The Color Morale have announced they are going on a hiatus. Washington indie rock band Pedro
The Lion have joined Polyvinyl.
Legendary punk band, The Damned, will return with 'Evil Spirits’, their first album in nearly ten years. It’s set to be released April 13th on Search And Destroy/Spinefarm Records.
Midlands alt-rockers TrueHeights have announced they have signed with We Are Triumphant. A new EP, ‘Days We Found’, will be released on April 6th. The following 65 bands have been announced for this year’s Download Festival: Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, Thunder, Volbeat, You Me At Six, The Bronx, Marmozets, Jonathan Davis, The Temperance Movement, Thrice, Hatebreed, TesseracT, Baroness, Cancer Bats, L7, Dragonforce, The Struts, Monster Truck, Less Than Jake, Boston Manor, Milk Teeth, Greta Van Fleet, Whiskey Myers, Thy Art Is Murder, Cradle of Filth, Inglorious, Kreator, The Maine, Stray From The Path, Jamie Lenman, Employed To Serve, Puppy, Rolo Tomassi, Miss May I, SHVPES, Bury Tomorrow, Higher Power, Dead Cross, Stick To Your Guns, Blessthefall, The Bottom Line, Emmure, Plini, Myrkur, Knocked Loose, All Them Witches, Malevolence, Wayward Sons, Zeal & Ardor, No Hot Ashes, Gold Key, The Hyena Kill, Sun Arcana, Tigress, Death Blooms, The Faim, Turbonegro, Corrosion Of Conformity, Savage Messiah, Myke Gray, Von Hertzen Brothers, Woes, Powerflo, Sleep Token, and Koyo. The third wave of bands for this year’s Slam Dunk Festival has been announced. It sees Twin Atlantic, The Skints, Set Your Goals, Northlane, Comeback Kid, Counterparts, Capdown, Save Ferris, Broadside and Can’t Swim joining the late May Bank Holiday event.
At The Gates have been announced as the Ronnie James Dio special guest for the Sunday at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival. Other names announced recently are Exhorder, Weight of the Tide and Sangre. Turbowolf, Spook School, Weirds, Gender Roles, Indoor Pets, Strange Bones, and Nelson Can are amongst the latest names to be announced for Leicester’s Handmade Festival. The other new additions are Drenge, The Big Moon, Spector, Girl Ray, Findlay, Thought Forms, Anteros, Easy Life, Phobophones, Black Futures, Sports Team, Babe Punch and Soft Boys & Girls Club. With headliners coming in the form of Feeder and Ash, the Teddy Rocks Festival has added 14 more names to this year’s bill. Amongst the additions are Sonic Boom Six, Devil Sold His Soul, MC Lars, Nervus, Wallflower, Shields, The Hyena Kill and Home Wrecked.
The Cult have been announced as the first headliners for Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018. The other new additions are GUN, Chas & Dave, Me & That Man, Voyager and Goldray. The full lineup for the second WRONG Festival has been announced. Joining the likes of headliners Future of the Left will be Gnod, Conan, Spectres, Bilge Pump, Elevant, Spqr, Thank, Death And The Penguin, Table Scraps, Irk, Gravves, Kapil Seshasayee, Ohmns, Buried Sleeper, Black Pudding, Alpha Maid, Nasty Little Lonely, Tokyo Taboo, Sons, Lucy Leave, Bisch Nadar, Salt The Snail Vs Bleach Sweets, Lonesaw, Patchwork Guilt, Psyblings, Swearwolves, and Lewis O’Neill. WRONG Festival takes place at Liverpool Dockland on April 28th.
To coincide with the release of his debut solo record, 'Year Of The Tiger’, Myles Kennedy will be coming to the UK in March for a headline tour. March 17 O² Institute2, Birmingham 18 The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 20 The Garage, Glasgow 21 Gorilla, Manchester 24 Thekla, Bristol 26 Islington Assembly Hall, London Legendary British rock icons Def Leppard will be hitting up 11 cities in the UK and Ireland this December. They will be performing their 'Hysteria’ album in full alongside other DL classics. December 1st 3 Arena, Dublin 2nd The SSE Arena, Belfast 4th Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 6th The O2, London 8th Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham 9th Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle 11th The SSE Hydro Arena, Glasgow 12th Manchester Arena, Manchester 14th FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield 15th Echo Arena, Liverpool 17th Arena Birmingham, Birmingham As part of their trip to the UK, Iron Chic will play headline shows in Leeds and Brighton. April 17 The Haunt, Brighton 19 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds w/ Spoilers 20 Saint Luke’s, Glasgow* w/ Petrol Girls + Bratakus 21 Manchester Punk Festival, Manchester* 22 Swx, Bristol* w/ Jesus & His Judgemental Father 23 The Lexington, London w/ Mobina Galore * w/ Propagandhi
Our Hollow, Our Home have announced a UK headline tour. Support comes from InVisions and HighRise. March 22nd B2 Venue, Norwich 23rd The Joiners, Southampton 24th Cavern, Exeter 25th The Flapper, Birmingham 26th The Black Heart, London 27th The Key Club, Leeds 28th The Maze, Nottingham 29th The Booking Hal, Dover Reggae rockers Skindred have announced their seventh album will be called ‘Big Tings’. It’s set to be released on April 27th via Napalm Records.
Influential Swedish death metal band At The Gates will return on May 18th with a new album titled 'To Drink From The Night Itself’ via Century Media
Creeper have been announced as special guest for All Time Low’s March UK tour. March 12 SECC, Glasgow 14 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 15 Genting Arena, Birmingham 16 Arena, Manchester 17 Alexandra Palace, London
Casey have announced a UK headline tour in support of their new album, 'Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’. They’ll be joined by Endless Heights and Rarity. April 13 Boston Music Room, London 14 The Key Club, Leeds 15 Jumpin Jacks, Newcastle 16 Underground, Plymouth 17 Satan’s Hollow, Manchester 18 Asylum2, Birmingham 19 Rock City Basement, Nottingham
Alkaline Trio will be releasing a live collection called 'Past Live’. It documents their 2014 residency at the Metro in Chicago. The set will include live recordings of all eight studio albums and is available on CD and BluRay and in different bundles.
Marshall Records, the label started by legendary amp company Marshall Amplification, have announced Press to MECO have joined them. Their long-awaited second album, 'Here’s To The Fatigue’ will be released on March 3rd.
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Interview with Alex
Can you tell us about the formation of LEONTAS? Scott: Myself and Alex auditioned for bands in London around January 2015 and soon found we had more in common than the other people there. From that we continued to talk and actually formed a 4 piece band. We started practising and soon had a few songs together, that was until the bassist and 2nd guitarist decided they didn't want to carry on. Alex and I auditioned dozens of bassists and guitarists but eventually decided to go it alone as a two piece. Alex added to his pedal collection whilst I learnt to sing and play drums!
How did you get to the band name LEONTAS, and what does it mean to you? Alex: When Scott and I started looking for a band name we knew that we wanted to find a name that represented something big and fast. We loved the idea of LEONTAS (Ancient Greek word meaning lion/from a lion) because it represents our roaring guitars and big fat sound. Also I was raised in Greece, it’s my second home so naturally it’s got a very special meaning to me.
What is it like to be an upcoming band in London? Scott: Honestly, it's a double edged sword. You can play the most amazing venues but not have a crowd, there are plenty pay to play venues and you really have to look after the band out there. London is such a hub of music that we've made some great friends and been so lucky to play some famous venues that two years ago would have been just a dream. It's been amazing though and we are looking forward to 2018!
Can you tell us about some of your musical influences? Scott: I have a varied taste in music, I grew up playing drums along to a lot of American skater punk. I then played in the school jazz and big band so picked up some style points from this. These days I take a lot of influence from the classic drummers such as Bonham and Moon with a modern hip hop feel.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Alex: Touring wise we had a great year, we played regularly at all the top venues in London such as O2 Islington, The 100 Club, The Monarch, and many more. We also left town a fair few times and our biggest highlight would be the band competition in Chelmsford, where we won a festival slot and many new friends, we were really impressed by the warm welcome of the organisers and the crowd. We had an amazing time. We also managed to leave the country when we went to Hamburg, Germany. This trip must be our highlight of the year for a few reasons, a. Because that meant endless beer and great music everywhere we went. b. Because we managed to film both songs from our new single ‘Stand Out’’ in HD quality. We filmed everything live in the oldest theatre in Hamburg. Fantastic stage and incredible sound. The videos will be available very soon!
How did you end up working with Andrea Lepori, and how would you say he helped shape 'Stand Out'? Scott: We were lucky to find an advertisement of Andrea’s online and got in touch right away. It was such an amazing environment and we knew right away we wanted to record with him. We also came into the studio with an idea of what we wanted for ‘Stand Out’ - a recording that replicated our live roar sound. Andrea let us be free and record the track live with no click and he helped us add more to the track without taking away the rawness we wanted.
Can you tell us about the main themes and influences that run throughout the track? Alex: ‘Now’ is a song that’s talking about being able to appreciate the small things in life. It started from a very simple guitar riff and we felt like we didn’t want to make it too complicated. Our main influence among others on this one was Jack White because he is known for his big sound and incredible simplicity at the same time. ‘Stand Out’ on the other hand was written when the whole Brexit thing started. So we felt the need to express our anger and disappointment. It’s also talking about being able to voice your opinion and being yourself no matter what. Naturally we got inspired by more punk kind of sounds.
As a two piece, can you tell us how a song normally comes together for you? Scott: It completely depends on the song - normally Alex will come to me with a riff or lyrics and we'll start to build around this. On this single ‘Now’ is a song we've had for years and we've tweaked and tweaked to make this final version. With ‘Stand Out’ we wrote the lyrics by chance in about 10 minutes and it just grew and grew.
How would you say the sound of the band has grown/changed since you first started out? Alex: I cannot even compare the sound we used to have as a four piece with what we have now. As a two piece though we keep evolving all the time. Our goal is to maximise our potentials and use every possible way to sound like a lot more than two people, however we never use samples. Everything needs to be performed live.
What else can we expect to see from LEONTAS in 2018? Scott: We'll be back this year with plenty of treats for you all - promoting the single and a new EP on the cards, tour and possibly creating and putting on our own shows! 2018 is the year of the Lion!
Interview with Mark & Tony
How did you get to the band name Harker, and what does it mean to you? Tony: Vampires. League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Mina Harker. What bands influenced you the most when you first started out, and why? Mark: Early on I wanted to try and blend Jawbreaker and Lucero. I was a fan of a lot of singer/songwriter stuff like Chuck Ragan, Springsteen, Dan Andriano and wanted to blend that with my 90s/early 00s emo influence. When we got a whole band involved it naturally opened up new options for us, and it meant I could bring my love for indie pop/fuzz bands along too. I'm a huge fan of early Jimmy Eat World and The Wedding Present. Having two electrics mean now we can try some of that two guitar noise business I love to take from those bands!
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Brighton? Mark: We started around the same time as some heavyweights (Black Honey, As It Is, Creeper, Boston Manor) and were lucky to play some of their early shows and even promote the shows for them! That's always been at the core of us, keep the shows local, don't charge too much on the door and encourage interaction between the bands and audience. I wouldn't say the scene in Brighton now is competitive or divided, anyone who is playing music for that should just stop now. We've got small pockets of music everywhere, there's a thriving grunge/fuzz revival thing going on, you've got the new hardcore kids who are infused with the DIY culture, then there's groups like us in the middle, kind of trying to blend it into one and encourage a cross genre audience! I put on Unfun Fest, which when I chose the line up, I try to pick the best of everything we got and get the bands talking with each other. We're still passionate about trying to bridge everything together, and that won't change. You find community in common ground, and I hope to think we'll always be there with upcoming bands. You see bands like Against Me! still playing tiny cap venues after 10+ years of success with smaller bands, and that's what I'd want to do.
How did you end up working with Tim Greaves, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Tony: I’d known Tim for years, mainly from You Me & The Atom Bomb and New Architects. We did a live video with Tim when Southsea Sound opened, and really enjoyed working with him. For me, it was a few reasons – he has a lot of experience playing in bands, he understood a lot of the band reference points we used, and wasn’t scared of making the guitars loud and incorporating noise into the mix (I’ve struggled with this in the past). As for recording, he also knew when a take was a great take, and gave a few ideas along the way to tweak some elements.
Mark: I knew of Tim from a really old band, Jets vs Sharks! I used to listen to their mini album 'These Tired Monuments' a lot. We didn't actually meet until New Architects played a show I organised. Tony suggested to go record at Southsea Sound as we'd heard a few things recorded there, and didn't want to go to any of the places that were creating a signature “sound” for their recorded work. Also Tim is a guitarist at heart, anyone who has had a listen to the new record will hear that we wanted it to be loud and guitar driven. Tim knew straight off the bat what we were looking for, and pulled sounds from all our favourite bands (we love a lot of early 90s fuzz pop stuff like Wedding Present/Sugar/Pixies/Superchunk)
You've said that "You're not really the same band anymore", so what do you mean by that, and how do you think Harker has grown/changed since you first started out? Tony: When we started, it was Marks acoustic act with basically “a backing band” – however, from the outset, when I was asked to join, I expressed an interest into incorporating big, noisy guitars as part of the sound (I’m a big Pixies, Superchunk, Sugar fan!). Since Matt and Phoebe joined in 2016, we essentially became a new unit. We had a new set of songs, and a new rhythm section. Mark and I decided it felt right, and that he should switch to electric guitar. With writing and playing the brand new songs, we needed the two guitars. We can do far more within the band now we have two electric guitars, and it is something we probably should have done a lot sooner.
Hard question time! What band would you say you have learnt the most from on the road/performing with, and why? Tony: For me, playing with bands like Astpai, The Stayawakes and Miss Vincent helps us keep pushing our “A” game when we play live. When you play with a band that are tight, polished and play hard, you want to do the same and rise to the challenge. However, we will never be a great band with onstage banter, so we are learning to love and appreciate our between-song awkwardness!
Mark: Yeah, we're four weird people. It's pretty hard to talk to a crowd sometimes especially if there's no back and forth going on. What I've learnt from a lot of the bands we've played shows with who are a positive influence on us is to play your music first, and the presence will follow. And talk to as many people as possible when you're at the show, don't create a divide between the band and the audience.
What else can we expect to see from Harker in 2018? Tony: We missed playing Europe in 2017, so am looking forward to getting back over there to see everyone. Plus I’m excited about the album actually being released, of course. We are also slowly working on ideas for the next record!
Mark: Business as usual, gigs in support of the new record, a couple more releases in our 'cassette club' series including a super special reissue and we also have plans to go and record a new mini album. We never sleep.
Interview with Mikey Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? It was a weird year for us, live. We played a lot less shows than we did in 2016, partly because we had been preparing for the follow up to ‘The Hospital Party’, but also partly because it was a pretty difficult year for us all, personally. We played Download again, which was amazing - plus we started off the year with a couple of O2 Academy shows which were incredible. The highlight for me was coming back with a hometown show after a few months off during what was an awful summer for us all. We sold out The Exchange in Keighley and had some of our favourite bands supporting us, and we raised a fortune for Mind.
How did you end up working with Benji Webbe on the track 'In My Mind', and can you tell us a bit about what he was like to work with? We reached out to Benji once we decided we were going to put ‘In My Mind’ out. We’d always joked about having his voice on the song, and when it came to crunch time we decided to do something about it. Benji was incredible to work with. He’s very good at what he does and he’s an awesome personality.
Also, can you tell us about the meaning behind the track itself? It’s not just a song about not giving up, it’s a song about fighting back. It’s about an all-or-nothing, super aggressive attitude towards getting out of what was a really dark place.
Are you guys writing any new material just yet, if so, can you tell us about what we can expect from it? We’ve got something new ready. I can’t tell you much about it yet but I can say that it’s a huge step forward for us and that we’re all itching to see what people think of it.
How would you say the sound of the band has grown/changed since you first started out? I’d say that we’ve become more and more open to trying new things. We don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves to one genre, we just like to write. Whatever comes out of us sounds like us and that’s something I love about our band. I think over time we’ve just become more and more ambitious and open minded about the music that we make.
So, how does a song normally come together for As Sirens Fall? It normally starts with one person having an idea, be it a riff or a vocal line, or even just something like “Let’s try writing a song with this kind of feel to it” and then we just work together to build a vibe and eventually a song grows out of it. Sometimes it works really fast. We wrote ‘Smoke’ in about half an hour. Same for ‘Where You Are’. Other songs take longer, but it’s pretty much always that kind of process with us.
Looking back on 'The Hospital Party' EP, how happy are you with it still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of As Sirens Fall? I think we’re all hugely proud of it. It’s the best thing out there that any of us have ever been a part of making. It’s an honest and open snapshot of where I was mentally and emotionally at that time and I love looking back on it and thinking about how far we’ve come since.
This could be a hard question now, but what band do you think you've learnt the most from whilst on the road/performing, and why? Probably Ashestoangels. We’ve become very good friends and worked together on a lot of things. I think there are a lot of mistakes we could have made but didn’t because of our friendship with a band that’s been touring for longer.
What else can we expect to see from As Sirens Fall in 2018? Who knows? Stay tuned and find out what’s coming next. I promise it’s worth getting excited about.
Interview with Ben, Theo & Alex
How is your current tour going, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Ben: This is actually the first time we’ve toured Europe since ‘In Sickness & Health’ came out. We also have a new drummer, so it’s been really exciting to play all the new stuff live with him. It’s awesome to see the attachment people are beginning to have with the newer material, seeing people sing along to ‘In Sickness & Health’ is definitely a highlight!
Touring wise, what else did you get up to in 2017? Alex: We started the year on tour in the UK with a band called Hellions which was cool, then went out with He Is Legend a few months later. We’ve all listened to He Is Legend since we were teenagers so it was pretty surreal watching them play every night!
Ben: Both bands were also international (Australia and USA) so it was cool to get their perspective of life on the road.
Theo: Besides that we spent most of the year focusing on writing along a few shows and a festival appearance here and there!
Looking back on the 'In Sickness & Health' EP, how happy are you with this release still, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Acres? Theo: For me, ‘In Sickness & Health’ represents a place in time for the band. It was a period of experimentation (at points in the dark) whilst cementing a new creative process for the band. As it was both Ben and my first experience writing for a band of this (acres’) style, it led to a great deal of growth for us all I think. As a result I’ll always be fond of it for what it represents in our individual journeys as creative’s as well as for the band.
Also, what new songs have you been enjoying performing live the most right now, and why? Ben: ‘Unwelcome’ for sure! It’s been awesome to see the difference playing it since we released the video, it’s always a good one for us to move to and now the fans can appreciate it in the same light too!
So what can you tell us about the meaning behind the track 'Unwelcome'? Ben: ‘Unwelcome’ is a song about the struggles of addiction. It’s a personified account of dealing with the struggle of loving something that is hurting you and deciding to cut it out of your life. Everyone has dealt with something poisonous in their lives be it drugs, alcohol or a toxic relationship. We wanted to capture that feeling of realising that there is an issue and then doing something about it.
How did the music video come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? Ben: We wanted a visual representation of something you love, slowly but surely taking control of you in a negative way to the point where it leaves you lost and alone, detached from your surroundings.
We've read that your debut is due for some time in 2018. How is it coming along so far, and what do you think fans can expect from it? Theo: We couldn’t be happier with how the debut is coming along so far! The music is more energetic, charismatic and tells its stories with conviction and beauty. It is extreme in its loyalty to diversity as the band continues to evolve. We are all fans of many different types of music and I think there is a lot of joy to be found in creating a record that portrays that whilst maintaining the bands identity. To put it simply, we’re ridiculously proud of what exists of our debut so far and are really pushing to make it the best possible Acres record for this period in time.
As it's your debut, then have you felt much pressure behind the creative process for it? Theo: As a matter of fact, the pressure to surpass expectations has been a huge factor for us I think. Behind closed doors this is actually the second full-length record we will have written, in a sense. However it is the first that we are confident enough to release under the title of a debut album. Writing an album is something we’ve all dreamed of doing for a very long time and it only feels respectful to honour that dream by making it the best it can be and I truly believe it will be. The amount of sleepless nights and 4AM creative ruts that have formed the personality of the album so far is a little more than I’d like to admit but at the end of the day I think it’s worth it, even if a few strands of hair are lost along the way.
What's the best debut album for you, and why? Alex: Circa Survive – ‘Juturna’: for me it was completely different to anything I was aware of coming out of at the time and still inspires me to this day!
How does a song normally come together for Acres? Theo: The musical journey usually begins with me, in my room between the hours of 7pm and 5am where the foundations of the song come into fruition instrumentally. I usually begin by thinking of the mood I am trying to express. This could be a specific memory or simply an underlying emotion I’ve been feeling or have gained inspiration from. From there I try to work out some form of instrumental hook that represents the song as a whole, work out a structure and build from there. Once I am content with it, I layer it up with strings, ambience and piano if needs be, then send it over to a friend of ours who helps track Ben’s vocals over the top. We’ve actually been lucky enough to have our new drummer, Benji record live drums on the demos, which has really helped bring the new demos to life!
How would you say the sound of Acres has grown/progressed since you first started out? Theo: Over the years the band has evolved a huge amount I think. From my perspective, there was very much a feeling with ‘In Sickness & Health’ of wanting to respect the older Acres material. Funnily enough, I was actually a fan of the band before I joined. Having appreciated their music since their first show, I felt a great deal of responsibility when it came to writing new material. With 'In Sickness & Health' being the first creative output both Ben and I contributed to in Acres, a lot of it was about finding a happy medium between the bands’ old sound whilst pulling new influences in and bringing our own musical voices into the mix. With our debut, we’ve tried our best to eliminate as many boundaries as possible with the one rule being to make sure each musical moment is as intentional and poignant as it can be!
What else can we expect to see from Acres in 2018? Theo: Right now, we're keeping our heads down working on a few things behind the scenes and hope to head into 2018 with a record close to completion!
Interview with Leon
Can you tell us about the formation of The People The Poet? The line up for the last few years has been the 4 of us, Tyla Campbell on guitar, Lewis Rowsell on drums and Pete Mills on bass. Myself, Tyla and Lewis started writing music together probably a decade ago as we all went to the same school. From time to time we have our talented friends play alongside us live and on the album. In the past we’ve played many shows with Greta Isaac and Miriam Isaac singing backing vocals, as well as singing on our first album ‘The Narrator’ and mini album ‘Paradise Closed’. On the new album we have our old friends Danny Owen and Owain Williams playing keys and saxophone.
How did you get to the band name The People The Poet, and what does it mean to you? Our first album ‘The Narrator’ was a concept album written about fans life stories which we received on request. By the time we finished writing the album we felt we had grown up a lot as a band and felt we needed a name to represent our new identity. The People The Poet was originally an album name which I’d suggested and we decided it was a better band name to pay tribute to our fans who trusted us with their life stories to turn into songs.
How did you originally find your sound as The People The Poet? Years and years of musical differences. We changed our sound a lot of the time to tell the story or get our point across with the song. We are all big music fans so just like any other fan we are always looking for something new to discover and get excited about and when we do it normally helps influence and shape our sound at the time.
How did you end up signing to AntiFragile music, and what have they been like to work with so far? We have known Tom from AntiFragile for the last couple of years and we’ve always been fans of each others work so when the opportunity to work together at AntiFragile come about we snapped it up. There’s a big focus on a lot of new talented artists on the roster and they really want to succeed like us to turn the unknown into the faces of the music scene. There’s a great bunch of people there and we’ve been enjoying putting the release together to make the band have a big part to play in 2018.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout your upcoming (currently untitled) album? The whole album is almost a concept with it all revolving around time. We started writing it off the back of a few tracks which had a similar vibe and were about growing up. ‘Where The Dandelions Roar’ was one of the first set of lyrics I wrote after finishing our debut album ‘The Narrator’, it was written when I was trying to find my happy place. It made me think about childhood memories and friends, that careless and wild side that we sometimes lose along the years to trying to be an adult. I wanted to write about growing up and getting yourself wrapped in time and obsessing over it, that thought you get every New Year’s Eve when you think “Where did that year go?” You get excited and worried about the possibilities of the future and then you smile back at the good times you’ve had with the people you’re lucky to have in your life and the people that slipped through your fingers just like sand in an hourglass. I may have watched the film About Time too many times during the writing process of the album which definitely had a big influence on me.
What producer did you work with for this album, and how would you say they helped shape it? We worked once again with Todd Campbell. He’s a brother to Tyla, a close friend and the 5th member. He’s been there from the start of the band and for all the producers we’ve experimented with over the years, we always come back to Todd. He knows us so well and always makes sure he questions us enough so that we make an honest record we can all be proud of. With the album being about family, friends, our hometown and growing up it just made total sense to do it with Todd at stompbox just a short drive from our houses (conveniently a McDonald’s on the way to keep us in shape).
Was there a particular arrangement on the record that was extremely rewarding for you to put together? If so, can you elaborate on that? From start to finish we’re extremely proud of the record but personally I love the journey that the song ‘Love Will Find You In The End’ takes you on. It’s really dynamic and shows a lot of our ability as individuals as well as delivering a love story.
What was the hardest part about putting the album together, and why? The album took about a year or so on and off to get it all together. Many personal things in our lives got in the way of the album being a quick turn around but I think the process and journey has been so true to what the album is. Songs matured along the way and grew more meaning because of everything.
How would you say the sound of The People The Poet has grown/changed since you first started out? We are constantly trying to evolve and try new things as well as staying true to ourselves but with this album it was important to keep a solid sound throughout. We wanted to deliver some rock music with a punch of emotion and grit.
What else can we expect to see from The People The Poet in 2018? Hopefully plenty of live shows and opportunities for people to hear our new music.
Interview with Chris
Can you tell us about the formation of Harm's Way? In 2006, Harm’s Way began as a side project to another band we were doing at the time called Few And The Proud. The band consisted of Bo, James, and myself. John from Weekend Nachos also played bass for us for the first few years that Harm’s Way was a band. The band basically started because we wanted to play power violence and grind inspired hardcore. We wanted the sound and vibe to be violent and aggressive…and felt James would be the perfect frontman for that. We assigned him vocal duties and took it from there.
How did you get to the band name Harm's Way, and what does it mean to you? The band name came up during our first few practices when brainstorming band names. We thought it sounded cool and hard. During the early stages of the band, James was pretty violent and ruthless towards the crowd during our live shows. No one was safe. It especially felt right and fitting the more we played out after the demo and first few 7”s were released.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Chicago? In all honesty, still feels like an upcoming place for us. Chicago can be a hard place to garner a following. As the band progressed sound-wise with each release, we kind of shed certain groups of people who followed our band. Punk kids fell off, crust kids fell off, certain hardcore kids fell off. There were times where it felt we were playing to different subcultures of people with each local show. There was a string of years where Chicago didn’t even feel like home for us, it was one of the last places on our list of places we wanted to play. Playing shows in places like California felt more homelike than Chicago. I will say though, it has been improving for us as of late and we are finally feeling a sense of loyalty from people in this city. As the sound continues to refine itself into something of its own, so has our fan base in Chicago. We are finally building something of our own here.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you were going to be more than just an upcoming band? It was probably after the release of our 2011 LP, ‘Isolation’. The response that record received was something we were not expecting. It put us on a lot of people’s radar and we began getting some really awesome tour offers. We began to realize we could use the band as a vehicle to go to travel to places we never even imagined, and also as a medium to connect with people across the planet.
How did you end up signing to Metal Blade Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We first connected with Andy from Every Time I Die regarding their interest with the band. He was doing A&R for them at the time and we began conversation with the label through him. Apparently, Brian Slagel became a fan of us through his friend and famous chef Chris Santos. To this day, this still blows our mind. Anyway, in 2015, shortly after the release of ‘Rust’, we were on tour with The Black Dahlia Murder. Associates from the label ended up flying out to several shows on that tour, checking us out, and just hanging. We kept in communication with the label and when the time was right, began negotiating a deal to work together. So far the relationship has been really cool and supportive. We’re excited to see where ‘Posthuman’ can take us.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'Posthuman'? The album came to be from a general understanding of posthumanism and transhumanism. After assessing the album lyrics, general themes, and overall place the band was in during the writing process, the album title just fit. To us, posthumanism is about transcendence, progression, adaptation, and pushing beyond the confines of what it simply means to be human. Thematically, one can find critiques on human nature and the absurd state of reality that we currently find ourselves in. This is implied in many different contexts on the record, from simply the self to society as a whole, especially on a technoscientific level.
So what made you want to release 'Human Carrying Capacity' first, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? We felt the song hits hard, has high energy, some electronic components, and conveys elements that could appeal to your traditional Harm’s Way fans and new folks alike. The track doesn’t take as much of a departure from our previous releases as say other tracks on ‘Posthuman’ do, but it has elements that display the progressive nature of the record and what one may expect could follow. Lyrically the song looks at how humans, industrialized development, and overt resource consumption has altered and continues to alter the earth’s natural landscape at an alarming rate and impacts our planet negatively. It also looks at overpopulation and the limits to the life-sustaining resources we have here on earth that are continually exploited and wasted in the west. It questions whether or not we can continue in the direction we are heading and highlights the consequences we face in a pretty bleak way.
How did you end up working with Will Putney, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Will initially expressed interest in working with us after we signed to Metal Blade. We had a few other names in the mix as well and started opening up conversations with producers that we were interested in. After having conversations with Will about the ideas and vibe we were putting together for the record, we felt he was a good fit to record and produce it. He was very helpful in making our vision for the record come to light, all the way from pre-production to post-production. I feel he helped us get out of our comfort zones and brought out the best performances in us on an individual level.
This record marks the longest you have ever spent tracking. So why do you think that is, and how would you say the process compares to anything you have done before? Being in a space where we had a budget to travel outside of Chicago to record and essentially take a musical pilgrimage was huge. In the past, we recorded all of our records at Bricktop Studio in Chicago, IL. Because we were always balancing work and college with our band, we recorded late evenings and weekends. The recording process was very strenuous and brutal at times because there are only so many hours in each day. Now that the band has become more of a focal point and a part of our livelihood, it felt appropriate and necessary to pour every second we had into this record and create something we felt was special and above and beyond our previous releases. That meant putting all our emphasis on recording and maintaining a healthy mental headspace. Time was huge and it allowed us to dissect and push each song so they could reach their full potentials. It also gave us time to experiment and allow the record to come into its own without forcing anything.
How did the album artwork for 'Posthuman' come together, and what does it mean to you? The album artwork was constructed by Canadian sculptor David Altmejd. We had become fans of his work and felt this particular piece (titled Eye, 2015) helped convey many of the themes found throughout the record and fit the album title perfectly. We were able to get in contact with David through a friend of a friend sort of deal, and he was totally open to working with us on the record. Our close friend E. Aaron Ross did the layout for the record and also did a fantastic job working with us to bring the visual aesthetic together for the record. As a whole I feel the album art conveys beauty and gore in a very dichotomous way, especially in the context of human presentation and overall looks.
Looking back on 'Rust', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Harm's Way? Very happy. It essentially helped us to get to where we are today. I think ‘Rust’ shows we are fearless and always open to change. We’ve never been afraid to progress and think outside the box with our band, and that’s why ‘Rust’ was a polarizing record for some of the people who follow our band. Some people expected ‘Isolation’ part 2, but we could never follow up a record with more of the same. We do this band for us first and foremost and to not progress and practice vulnerability would essentially lead to the demise of this band.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Rust' at the moment, and why? I still love playing ‘Infestation’, from a drummers perspective it is a fun track to play. I think the song is also super high energy. ‘Cancerous Ways’ is another favorite for me. The dynamics of the song adds a lot of depth to our setlist when it is on it and I feel ties together songs cohesively. It has a lot of calm elements but also presents the listener to one of the heaviest endings on the record, in my opinion.
What else can we expect to see from Harm’s Way in 2018? ‘Posthuman’ will officially be out on February 9th. We’ll be releasing several songs and music videos along the way to help promote the record. We are also embarking on a record release tour in February/March 2018 for the record. This is the tour that we are incredibly excited for, it includes Ringworm, Vein, and Queensway. We also have a bunch of international plans in the works. Mexico, Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan. So people can expect to see us there for headline, support, and festival performances. Stay tuned.
Interview with Will
Can you tell us about the formation of Hell Is For Heroes? All of us knew each other from school, apart from Justin who we met later through mutual friends. We would get together in a rehearsal room on Saturday mornings, play some riffs before heading out for beers. The riffs came easily and the beer was flowing so I guess when we were offered the chance to do it for a living we took it more seriously.
How did you get to the band name Hell Is For Heroes, and what does it mean to you? The name comes from the war film Hell Is For Heroes. Tommy came up with the idea, but we liked the way the name sounded and the connotations it has.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Camden? There was (I'm not really sure if it's the same now) a circuit of venues in and around Camden that all of our old bands slogged through quite a bit, but when Hell Is For Heroes came about, we tried to play gigs away from there, trying to get tight before bringing it home! So by the time we were ready to play Camden, we were pretty tight, and we had a really good demo - which would become our first release. It was a Double A of ‘Sick Happy’ and ‘Cut Down’.
Was there a particular moment that you knew you were going to be more than just an upcoming band, if so, can you elaborate on that? When we had recorded those first demos, we knew that they had turned out well, and even though we saw ourselves as a rock band (certainly live), it was clear that some of our more "indie" influences came through too, and this in turn seemed to lead to a few different labels and journalists picking up and getting behind what we were doing. The demos opened everything up for us.
So, how did the idea for the 15th anniversary tour come together for 'The Neon Handshake' and how excited are you for it? We're all looking forward to it. We were just talking about doing a show or two - pretty much just to get together in a way that none of us can bail out of (like we do when we're meeting for a beer), and when we realised that it was going to coincide with the 15th anniversary it all became obvious that we should do it properly
So let's talk about 'The Neon Handshake'! How did you originally get to that title, and what does it mean to you guys? Joe our drummer came up with the title, and it just seemed to make sense to us all. We were rehearsing and recording the album in Los Angeles which became our home for almost 6 months. We LOVED it there, but there was a sense that some of that friendliness and the stuff that we enjoyed was surface level only. The title just seemed to sum up that feeling.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the other main themes and influences that run through it? Our musical influences are pretty wide, and some are more obvious than others, but I think the biggest influence on the way the album ended up and the "feel" of it came from us all being away from home, together at quite a formative time in our lives.
Who was the album produced by, and how would you say the helped shape it? Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lövström produced the record, and they very much became part of Hell is for Heroes while we made the record. Like us, and our close friend Tom McShane - who was there the whole time we rehearsed and recorded in Los Angeles working on the artwork and overall art direction - we were all far away from home. And we all threw ourselves into the album - if the album was recorded with anyone else under different circumstances I'm sure the album wouldn't feel as good as it still does to us all. I think they might be coming over from Sweden for one of the London shows, which will be great!
What was the hardest part about putting 'The Neon Handshake' together, and why? It wasn't hard to put together, although a lot of hard work went into it. We were lucky to have people at the label who were on the same page, and we were lucky that they signed off doing the album with Pelle and Eskil. There were lots of big name producers putting themselves forward to record the album, but we had a feeling that Pelle and Eskil would raise our game.
What has it been like for you personally to see the huge impact this record has made on alternative rock over the last decade? Honestly, I think we're all pretty oblivious to the album's influence, but it's nice to think bands might have formed and wanted to do things the way we did. We know it's a good record though, and we're proud of it.
As pioneers in the UK rock scene. What do you think of its current state right now, and how would you say it's changed since Hell Is For Heroes first started out? Everything has changed! I'm not sure whether it's for better or worse though. When we started, the internet wasn't the centre of a band's sales, self promotion or whatever, streaming wasn't really a thing. If it was I think our music may have found its way to more people listening....or not! Haha
When you look back, what gigs stand out to you the most from the touring cycle of 'The Neon Handshake', and why? London, Manchester and Paris were consistently great places to play. Good crowds, and nice places to hang before and after. Headlining the Astoria was a definite highlight!
What else can we expect to see from Hell Is For Heroes in 2018? Good question. We all like the idea of doing something, and if we can get our schedules aligned, we may try to record some new music, and maybe play a festival or two.
How did you first get into music? My Dad used to play Neil Young and Tracy Chapman records in the car when we were kids. He also played The Byrds, Dylan, Billy Bragg, John Otway and lots of others. I was interested in words and how they are put together from an early age and when I found out you could build songs out of them I was hooked.
What were your main influences as a musician when growing up? A lot of the above really. Then I got into some Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Rage Against The Machine and stuff when I was a teenager. For me though it was always about Dylan, I liked the sense of ambiguity and mystery in his songs.
When did you first realize that you had the potential to make a career out of music, and what was that like for you? I still don't see what I do as a career. For me it's perpetually exciting each year that goes by that I don't need to get a "proper job". I feel very lucky to be able to do this now for a living but in the back of my mind I'm always wondering when it might end...
So, how did you get to the album title 'Spirit Of Minnie', and what does it mean to you? I was in a taxi in Minneapolis in the middle of winter. It was so cold you couldn't stand outside for longer than a few seconds. The driver told me a lot of things, he gave me some pieces of advice and told me about his life. He was a a kind of apparition, he appeared in the midst of the night and took me from one bar to another. He told me he had danced with the Spirit Of Minnie. A female form taller than the Empire State Building who appears in between the skyscrapers of the city between 4 and 5 in the morning during a snow storm.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Spirit Of Minnie'? I never purposely put themes into albums - I just write the songs and they fall out however they fall out. Looking at it now though, it seems to be about time, our place in time, as a society. It feels like a record about new beginnings, nostalgia and being right on the cusp of the world changing.
How did you end up working with Cameron McVey, and how would you say he helped shape the album? He is a friend of my agents and we had a few long phone conversations before we started recording the album. He's a huge force. He sort of appeared in a storm in the same way the taxi driver did in Minneapolis. He's got an impeccable taste in music and a lot of experience but he's also great at letting the vibe dictate the direction of a session. The music â€œindustryâ€? can be a lonely place sometimes and I'm really glad we crossed paths when we did. He was crucial to discovering the sound of the new record.
One of the latest tracks to be released from 'Spirit of Minnie' was 'Statues'! Can you tell us a bit about how it came together, as well as the meaning behind it? I live in Kent and the last train home from London is at about midnight. I wrote that song at 4 in the morning when I'd missed the last train home and was waiting for the first train home at 5am. It's probably also about time. How we see it as a flowing river but maybe it's actually still, like a statue.
This album marks the first time you ever recorded with a full band. So how did that decision come about, and how did the recording process compare overall to anything else you'd done before? When I was writing these songs I could hear drums and pianos in my head so it felt like the right time to try recording with a band. The sessions were very quick. The boys are good friends of mine and have been playing together in various bands for years. It was a fairly easy process and it felt good to be out of my comfort zone. The problem is if you stay in the same place too long as an artist I think you can die very quickly.
Looking back on 'Kingsdown Sundown', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Will Varley? I don't really know about the representation of 'Will Varley'. I just write songs and play shows and people can make of it what they will. As for 'Kingsdown Sundown' it's a record for me that represents a certain time in my life. I feel the same about the new one. Albums can be like time machines sometimes.
Also, what songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Kingsdown Sundown' the most right now, and why? I like playing â€˜February Snowâ€™. It takes me to a place in my mind that I find it hard to visit otherwise.
So, how excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Yeah - I'm really looking forward to the tour. I'll be playing a lot of songs from the new album but I'll be doing a lot of old stuff too. People can hopefully expect a good night out. The supports, Ida May and Sean McGowan are both exceptional so it should be a good night of music.
What else can we expect to see from Will Varley in 2018? Well the new album comes out February 9th, the same day as my biggest ever headline show at Shephards Bush Empire. So that will be quite a day/night. I'll be doing a lot of touring in the first few months of 2018 and hopefully I'll be at a lot of festivals in the summer too. Basically I'll still be playing shows as long as people feel like coming to watch, so I'll do that for as long as I can. As for new songs, I'm enjoying the sense of completion at the moment from finishing the new record, but I'm already putting words together for the next one. As long as I can keep on moving I'll be happy enough, as the great Alex Higgins said after his last ever professional frame of snooker "I'm just trying to work out how it all works..."
Interview with Tyla
Can you tell us about the formation of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons? We held a birthday party for Todd’s birthday a few years ago and decided to jam a few songs with Neil. We thought we sounded pretty good, so we decided to do a few shows in Phil’s spare time between his time off with Motörhead! We called ourselves Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band, and we just played a few covers! As time progressed we started writing a few original songs and decided to change our name and announce ourselves as Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons at the famous Wacken festival in Germany.
How did you get to the band name Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, and what does it mean to you? We were just trying to think of different names in the WhatsApp group and Neil came up with Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons as a joke. We kind of ignored it at first but couldn’t think of anything else. We went with The Bastard Sons just because we thought it sounded cool but our mother wasn’t happy at all!
So how did you get to the album title 'The Age Of Absurdity', and what does it mean to you guys? We were in the middle of recording the album and we still didn’t have an album title. Then Todd thought of ‘The Age Of Absurdity’, which was a quote from a Frank Zappa book he was reading at the time. Neil looked at his current lyrics which he had probably only 75% complete and he thought “Yeah that’s great, that definitely fits in with my current lyrics” and we all agreed to keep it! It’s basically about how messed up the world is right now.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run through the record? I couldn’t tell you everything exactly, but I believe it’s all around the similar theme of how crazy the world is right now. Things happen in the world that don’t even make mainstream news these days as it just feels normal!
How did you end up working with Romesh Dodangoda, and how would you say he helped shape the album? I believe we have all worked with Romesh at some time over the years, with the exception of Dane. Phil recorded guitars for the Motörhead album ‘The World Is Yours’ with him. I recorded an EP with him 7 years ago with an old band, and Todd and Neil have recorded with him numerous times over the years. I think it just made sense as we wanted to keep it local. He definitely made us feel comfortable and we had a great laugh watching Only Fools and Horses on our lunch breaks! He was never afraid to give us any feedback or ideas he may have, too, so it was just a great fit all round.
What made you want to do the Hawkwind cover 'Silver Machine', and can you tell us a bit about what it was like to work on with Dave Brock himself? Well, we had been playing ‘Silver Machine’ live for quite some time and it always went down great. Phil asked Dave for his permission for us to record it and asked him to guest on it, thankfully he said yes! We didn’t actually have him in the studio, though, as he has his own studio so we just sent him the files so he could do his stuff in his own time. Apparently, he told Phil he decided to do it on the day in question because it was raining outside so he had nothing else to do! We were all very excited when he sent us what he had come up with and it sounded amazing! Only Dave could come up with the stuff he came up with and we can’t wait for people to hear our version.
What was the hardest part about putting 'The Age Of Absurdity' together for you, and why? To be honest with you, the entire process went quite smoothly so I think coming up with a suitable title was the most difficult. As it was our debut full length release we wanted to make sure we thought of a good title and I think we nailed it!
How did the cover art come together, and what was it like to work with Matt Riste for that process? I believe Todd came up with the Vaudeville idea, then it was Neil’s idea to come up with a different character and artwork for each song. So, Neil gave Matt some character ideas then we basically just left Matt to it. It’s all hand drawn, which is unbelievable! We are all so happy with how it came out, and Phil actually bought the original artwork off Matt! A few years ago I went to my friends art exhibition and Matt also had a stall up which looked great, so it’s funny how we ended up working with each other!
How excited are you for your upcoming touring schedule in 2018, and what can attending fans expect? I think we are going to be very busy this year! We are going out on a month-long European tour in February/March and we have a few festivals booked, so it’s all looking up! Fans can expect a lot of new songs from the upcoming album, plus your fair share of Motörhead classics and rarities, and the odd cover here or there. The best rock n’ roll show in town!
What else can we expect to see from Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons in 2018? Well, there’s one or two things unannounced so you’ll have to wait and find out!
â€œCrazy interviewâ€? with Chris
Who is answering the questions? That's a question I ask myself every day (pardon the pun). On a metaphysical level, we all know who *asks* the questions, but who is really answering them? Is it me? Or are you answering them yourself by the very quantum nature of asking? The duality of the question-answer closed system is a very fascinating subject.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We didn't really tour much in 2017, we decided to concentrate instead on listening deeply to our own record for extended periods of time. However, of the few shows we played, my favorite moment was at Sweden Rock festival this year, where our bass player Gazz's instrument kept malfunctioning, so we just muted him in the mix and replaced him with a backing track. He still doesn't know it happened to this day. Please don't tell him.
Looking back on 'No Grave But the Sea', how happy have you been with the response to the album so far, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Alestorm? I'd rate the response to the album as an 8/10. I know there were a lot of good responses to albums that were released this year, and responses to metal albums are evolving at an incredible pace, but I think there's still a place in this world for people who say â€œYeah this album rocked!â€?.
What songs are you still enjoying performing live from 'No Grave But the Sea' right now, and why? All the new songs have got to the point where we hate them all and only play them because we are contractually obliged to. It's like when you get a new girlfriend, at first you think she's amazing, but then you start pining for your old fat ugly ex-girfriend Betty. Our 3rd album was Betty. The 2nd album was more of a Melissa.
How would you say the sound of Alestorm has grown/changed since you first started out? I think I've actually shrunk by an inch or two. It's a well known fact that gravity has a stronger effect on people who are exposed to loud sounds (such as at our gigs), so all those shows we've played over the years have really had an effect on our vertical girth. Also our songs have got better.
You're doing a ten year anniversary edition of 'Captain Morgan's Revenge', so how did that idea come about, and what can fans expect from it? The idea came about when we realised that it was the 10 year anniversary of the album. I really wanted to release a 9 year anniversary album last year, but our record label convinced us to wait an extra year. They really know what they're doing in the music business!
Looking back on that album, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? I remember there was a bare concrete floor, a flea infested sleeping bag, several doner kebabs, and remoulade. Remoulade is sort of like a cross between mayonnaise and tartar sauce, and it's great on fries. These days we skip the remoulade, and thankfully the floor has been coated with wood.
What was it like to work with Lasse Lammert, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Lasse is a vile and condescending little man with an undiagnosed case of Munchausen by proxy. He's also pretty incapable of using the English language, so we have to communicate through pointing, grunting, and trying to guess what he is trying to say in his bizzare high pitched German accent. He's a great producer though, and really gets the best out of us.
How did the awesome artwork for 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' come together, and who did you work with for it? The artwork was originally a sketch by our original bass player Dani Evans. He was a talented artist (not much of a bassist though), and he drew this cool pirate thing. The final realisation of it was done by Mr Ingo â€œBingoâ€? Romling, of Germany. He worked with us for a few albums. He really liked drawing rats.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I'm more excited for the aeroplane ride to get there. That return trip is worth 8000 airmiles, plus 4 qualifying flight segments towards me retaining my frequent flyer status! I can't wait for all the complementary business class upgrades. If you are coming to a Piratefest show, don't expect a good view unless you've purchased priority boarding or have OneWorld Emerald status.
What do you like to do on down time when you're on the road? When I'm not on tour with Alestorm, I enjoy spending my days lying through my teeth to interviewers. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.
What else can we expect to see from Alestorm in 2018? We're working on our 7th album right now, expect it to come out sometime in late 2018.
Looking back on 'Mothership' how happy are you with the album still, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Dance Gavin Dance? I'm really happy with what we accomplished on ‘Mothership’. I think it was a natural evolution from what we did on ‘Instant Gratification’, and it served as a stepping stone to the styles we've explored on the upcoming album we've just finished recording.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Mothership', and why? Any of them really. We just finished doing a tour of shows just running through ‘Mothership’ in its entirety and the whole thing was a blast.
It's been ten years since the release of 'Downtown Battle Mountain', what do you remember the most about putting it together? I remember most of it. I'll never forget my first big recording session, the snow we dealt with traveling back and forth to the hotel, meeting our longtime producer Kris Crummett.... So many great memories.
Also, can you tell us what it was like to work with Kris Crummett, as well as how you think he helped shape the album? Love working with him. I like to have the music fully written before we go into the recording studio so we're not one of those bands that needs a producer who wants to change the songs. That would honestly drive me crazy. We have a great relationship with Crummet where we respect that he can make everything sound amazing, and he respects that we're going to bring good songs to him and not complete rubbish. And it usually works out.
How did the music video for 'Summertime Gladness' come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track if possible? We found an artist we loved and let them have free reign over the video. The song is about summer love and backseat business.
Have you started work on anymore new material just yet, if so, what can we expect from it? Interview with WIll New album this year. Watch out! How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We've been really looking forward to this one. It's been awhile since our last visit and we've been itching to have another go.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? The venues turn into clubs occasionally after we play, and that's when some of my most memorable dance moves come out.
What else can we expect to see from Dance Gavin Dance in 2018? Big tours, fine wine, monster trucks, rusty bassoons, and a new album!
Interview with Buddy
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We did a 15 year anniversary tour which I would say is in the top 5 of tours we have ever done. My number one memory from the tour was playing a sold out Webster Hall. All in all we only spent about 5 weeks on the road so most of the year I spent at home. However, that memory sticks out as one of the all time best.
So, how did you get to the album title 'There Is Light It Will Find You', and what does it mean to you? To me it means that in all our times of despair there is light that can and will find us. Ultimately it is a reference to death and how I hope that there is a salvation or connectedness or fullness that comes in death. Maybe a better way to put it is a reintegration into the universal whole, within the transformative experience of death.
We've read that one of the themes of the album is mortality, so can you elaborate on that, as well as maybe what else we can expect from the lyrical content on 'There Is Light It Will Find Youâ€™? Yes, mortality as a in my own, my family, my friends, my children. For me human connection is the one thing I have always longed for but it is also my biggest fear. As I grow more connected to my family there comes a contraction of fear that manifests as I hyper focus on death. Over the last two years my wife has been diagnosed with MS and hypothyroidism and had a miscarriage, as well as almost died in child birth. Having all these things happen shifted my focus to seeing mortality as a very up front and present experience. I also witnessed a very serious, near fatal climbing accident that I was a first responder to. The collection of experiences and my movement towards more connection has raised my awareness of the fragility of this life, my own and others. Most of the record is about my different experiences with that poignant moment of cherishing ones life and letting go of it. If you have ever been around death or illness, there is this fullness that is experienced in sharing one of lifeâ€™s biggest experiences. I would say it is close to the birthing experience and potentially can be as healing and positive. However, given my history of trauma, death causes a lot of fear and contraction and disregulation. So the topic is very changed for me, which leads me to investigate it and write about it. Overall the record is about hope and love and light. And finding a common way we can we live a life that is full and meaningful while we are faced with inevitable tragedies. That is the human condition. How do we function as human beings knowing our ultimate fate, and how does that inform the way we live?
So how did you end up working with Beau Burchell, and how would you say he helped shape the album? We’ve known each other for probably 15 years. We recorded an EP in 2016 as a precursor to the record and really hit it off as a writing team. He was basically as involved in the record as me. I wrote all of it brought it to Beau and then he made it better. Pointed out weaknesses, put forth ideas and helped navigate the process
We've read that the sound will be similar to what you did in the 'Let It Enfold You' era. So can you elaborate on that, and maybe how you think the sound of the band has progressed on this record? I would say it is a throwback but not entirely because it is a different writer. I wrote this record in full which is the first time I have done that as a member of Senses Fail. My goal was to examine what it is that made Senses Fail special and ultimately hone in on that and highlight it. I wanted to write a better record than the ones people cherish from years ago. I really wanted to see if I, as a writer, could top what the band has done in the style we were known for. I had taken the band in a different direction and felt like I fulfilled my need for expression and experimentation and now I wanted to out do what was done but with myself at the helm.
This is the first time you have written the whole of the album on your own, so how did that decision come about, and what was the experience like for you? There wasn’t much to be decided other than I was just going to write the songs. The process was simple but lengthy. It took about a year to write all the songs. A lot of stuff was written that never saw the light of day and was a process of learning how to write alone. Up until this point all my writing experiences had been in groups.
How did the front cover for 'If There Is Light It Will Find You' come together, and what does it mean to you? It is my daughter Penelope and myself dressed up. It was actually our managers idea. This skull character was made by an artist and designer that has done a bunch of work for us (Cassie Podish). We thought it would be cool to bring it to life and have it be the center piece of the record. The record is ultimately about death and birth so it was fitting to have “death” holding a newborn baby.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Seeing a ghost at the Colombia Hotel. Getting kicked out of the Globe Theater. Give It A Name at Earls Court 2006. Vagrant Tour 2004.
It will shortly be ten years since 'Life Is Not a Waiting Room' was released. Looking back on the album, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares still to anything else you've done? I love it. It was the record that followed up our biggest record so at the time we felt it was a let down. However, all these years later I think it might be out best record. It was hard for us at the time to like the record after we felt it was sort of a failure, so for many years I didn’t want to play the record. It was also really hard to make and difficult to record, so I needed a lot of time after that record to even feel normal again.
What else can we expect to see from Senses Fail in 2018? More music, more touring!
Interview with Greg
How did your last tour in the UK go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road in 2017? The last time we toured the UK was April 2017 and it was an unreal time. I think it’s safe to say my personal highlight was getting the opportunity to play one of the most beautiful venues we’ve ever played, which was in London at Koko. Kind of hard to top that one. Of course there’s the obvious, great whisky in Glasgow, great coffee in Bristol, great friends in Manchester, too much champagne in London. Pretty sure I shot a cork through the dressing room ceiling before the toast. Anyways, we toured a lot in 2017 and the UK leg was by far one of the most fun and successful parts of the year. I’m really excited to come back over.
Looking back at 'After The Party', what are your favourite things about it and what do you think it’s done for The Menzingers and your fans? Well first and foremost I’m extremely proud of the album that we made, so it’s been an incredible year getting to peform it for people around the world who seem to enthusiastically love it and connect to it as much as we do. The four of us were definitely at a crossroads in our lives while writing ‘After the Party’, and thankfully it put us on the right path to want to keep doing the damn thing.
What songs do you most enjoy performing live from 'After The Party' right now, and why? I love playing the title track. I think it’s one of the strongest songs we’ve ever written and the crowd usually gets pretty into it as well.
How did the music video for 'After The Party' come together, and how well do you think it reflects the theme of the track itself? We worked with a director that we were all really excited about, Kyle Thrash, who’s done a bunch of amazing stuff, especially his videos for Modern Baseball. We knew this guy went over the top with every detail and that’s what we wanted. Together we mapped out a rough outline of a tragically in love couple that felt uniquely Philadelphian and then let him run with it. He came up with a treatment we loved, and we all took a deep breath and trusted that Kyle would kill it. And he did! Holy shit he did. I’m pretty sure I can recall Brett Gurewitz saying it should win an Oscar.
How would you say the alternative rock scene has grown/changed since you first started out? Oh boy what a loaded question. Well it’s an obvious one, but holy hell the tools technology has given young artists to reach fans around the world has changed every genre of music. It’s changed the hierarchy of tastemakers and record labels as well. When we started out we thought the only way to play the game was to tour ALL THE TIME. So we did. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but in the end we were able to write songs that connected with people after the show was over. That will always be the most important thing, the songs! Good songs go a long long way.
Was there a particular moment that you realized The Menzingers would become a career for you guys? There wasn’t so much of a EUREKA! type moment for us but plenty of “Woah this is really happening” type moments: flying out to California to get courted by Epitaph, touring Australia for the first time as part of a major national festival, playing our first show after the release of ‘On the Impossible Past’ in Pittsburgh and watching an art gallery turn upside down to the songs for the first time, our first arena tour opening for Rise Against, getting to headline prestigious venues around the world, the list goes on. In all honesty we always saw this band as a “career”, or whatever you want to call it. We decided at our second or third practice all those years ago that we were going to do this professionally and no one was going to tell us differently.
How did the cool artwork for your UK/European tour poster come together, and does it mean or represent anything in particular to you as a band? Our good friend Bruno Guerreiro designed it for us. Find him on instagram and give him a follow, he does incredible work. He has done 99.9% of our tour posters for years now and we always just let him run with it design wise because he always kills it. He knows Tom loves aliens and space so sometimes he works that into the design. Very lucky to know someone as talented as him.
How excited are you to be returning to the UK once more, and what can those who have tickets expect? Like I said previously I’m very excited to get back to the UK. The shows are always amazing and I can’t wait to catch up with old friends. I’m putting some setlist ideas together now and we definitely have a few tricks up our sleeve.
What else is on the horizon for The Menzingers in 2018? Tons of touring and writing. We’re booked through till December which is a nice feeling. I’m very lucky and fortunate to get to spend another year around the sun playing and making music.
Interview with Jenna
The last time you were in the UK you took on Slam Dunk Festival, so how were those shows, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from the weekend? It had been 4 years since our first time at Slamdunk so we were really excited to be back and closing our stage! We arrived in England days after finishing the writing of ‘Underworld’ so it was a bit of a whirlwind time. For me I loved seeing Don Broco, Andrew McMahon and Citizen; then having a bit of a dance with Ocean Grove and Stray From The Path at the after party.
So, how did the album title 'Underworld' come together, and what does it mean to you? The ‘Underworld’ is an inner realm where we have shunned our darkness to. It's the place that our past pain and rejected parts of the self still exist. So that journey is really confronting and involves the cracking of the heart and deepening of compassion for oneself. That's what I was experiencing through the making of the record.
We read that "For the writing of the album, singer Jenna McDougall (you) artfully awoke the feelings that she had repressed and used them as a driving force", so can you elaborate on that, as well as how you think the lyrical content on this album compares to anything you have done before? In my experience, Ive seen myself and most people I know handle our pain like it's something to hide, apologise for and be embarrassed about. I was always too afraid that if I addressed everything beneath the surface it would be too overwhelming and that no one would know how to help me even if I had the courage to ask. Through the writing of ‘Underworld’ I could physically feel myself outgrowing my old beliefs, knowing they weren't serving me anymore. More recently I read that it's ok to have irrational fears as long as you realise they're irrational. That really sums up that rewiring process for me. The 3 months that we spent in Sydney writing ‘Underworld’ was an active daily therapy course for me and the lyrics are the transcription.
Who produced 'Underworld', and how would you say they helped shape it? We made ‘Underworld’ with Dave Petrovic. He was actually the first producer we ever recorded with on our first studio track ‘Closer’ in 2009 and later recorded our EP's, second record and singles ‘Breakdown’, ‘The Edge’ and ‘World Away’. We have a really special relationship with Dave and have always described him as the 6th member of Tonight Alive. I think it's our ability to communicate with each other and truly hear the other person that makes our creative bond so strong.
Also, what made you want to record in Thailand, and what did working out there contribute to the creative process for 'Underworld'? We really struggled making our last record in New Jersey. It was too cold and the area the studio was in was quite dead and industrial. As Australians we love the idea of a working holiday so Thailand gave us the perfect paradise. Krabi is a pretty rural place, there weren't many westerners and we just got to ride scooters everywhere. It put us in a healthier state of mind for such an important project.
How did the music video for 'Temple' come together, and if possible, can you tell us a bit about some of the intense lyrics that run through it? Actually I was walking my dog listening to the song to get ideas and I started doing this strange strut/dance and tweaking. My original idea for the video was to be handed a bunch of leashes as I walked down a street and just walk dogs the entire video but we developed it to have the two performance scenes in it too. I wrote the lyrics of ‘Temple’ when I was probably at one of my lowest points ever. I was really sick and desperate for answers. I've been into alternative therapy and eastern medicine and philosophy for years. So I'd learned how to eat according to my condition and do acupuncture and reiki on myself but eventually nothing was giving me relief. I would have allergic reactions to everything I ate so I developed an eating disorder where I'd just throw up, knowing it would save me from the condition worsening. It was truly hellish and this is the first Tonight Alive song that doesn't have a silver lining. It was quite freeing to not tailor the song like that.
What would you say was the hardest part about putting 'Underworld' together? To be honest I think bouncing back from our last record cycle was the most challenging part. We were so emotionally burnt out from the way things went with our labels and the reception of the record. We toured for less than a year on ‘Limitless’ and though we'd followed the direction our label had encouraged we were essentially dropped once the album was released because it didn't connect at radio. So having love and motivation to write again was hard but it also had us completely turn around and say we're doing this our way. We took the power back.
As a band that has a cool progression with each album, then how would you say the sound of Tonight Alive has grown/changed on 'Underworld'? I like to think the album has the grit and angst of earlier TA with the experience and musicality of our later music. So I'm not sure that it's anything completely new, but more just a blend and balance of our best qualities. Really it's the capturing of our musical freedom. Finally just coming from a place of non-judgement and non-expectation with our self expression. It's the most pure you've ever heard Tonight Alive.
How did the front cover for 'Underworld' come together, and what does it mean to you? I think the belly button is one of the most sacred parts of the body and of course for a woman below it is the womb. The womb represents creation and source. Having petals around the navel to me is symbolic of life and growth. Aesthetically I wanted to hint at nostalgia for the album art of the 90s.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We can't wait. I've said it a thousand times, the UK is honestly my favourite place to tour. We're looking forward to playing music from ‘Underworld’ and coming back refreshed and renewed.
Can you give us a couple of other personal highlights from performing in the UK? Some stand out memories are our double Koko shows on ‘The Other Side’ tour, Reading and Leeds 2014 & 2016, supporting All Time Low at Brixton and selling out Manchester Academy 1, our biggest headline show anywhere in the world.
What else can we expect to see from Tonight Alive as we head towards 2018? You can expect to see demons off their leashes.
Interview with Marc Can you tell us about the formation of Veil of Maya? Veil was a project I had started writing for in high school. It was hard to find people that were into similar music back then so I just wrote and recorded songs and showed them to my friends as I entered college. We got our first shows while I was in school and I began missing class to show up for shows. At the time this seemed very worth it and inevitably resulted in me leaving school to do the band.
How did you get to the band name Veil of Maya, and what does it mean to you? At the time we had 2 guitarists and the other guitarist had the idea of Veil of Maya. Also around then, the 3 word band names were very common and we had found one that we thought was very interesting and more long term.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Chicago? Our first few shows were actually in Milwaukee. We had a friend by the name of Andy Parmann that believed in us. Kids in that scene started gravitating towards us right away. It took awhile to gain that similar respect in Chicago. Our first shows at home were very awkward. At the time our scene was very divided between death metal and hardcore and we were somewhere lost in the middle. Nowadays Chicago is one of my favorite places to play but it is definitely a real hard scene to make it in.
Was there a particular moment when you knew that you were going to be more than just an upcoming band? I think the amount of love that the midwest had was overwhelming. Once we teamed up with After The Burial and Born of Osiris we felt like we were actually doing something right. Andy Parmann had a festival called Robot Mosh Fest which would have every big metal tour collide for the day. Our bands would get the craziest reactions from all the midwest pride and I think that turned a few heads internationally. Eventually Sumerian began taking interest in our scene and picked us all up together.
So, how did you get to the album title 'False Idol', and what does it mean to you? The album is a concept about a man that gets put into power and eventually ruins everything.
You've said that "The whole album is told from a first-person perspective", so can you elaborate on that, and maybe what else we can expect from the main themes and influences that run throughout the album? Yes. The songs are versed from within the main characters mind. You loosely hear about his upbringing and his goals and how it all changes for the worst. Musically I was very inspired by TV and movie soundtracks and also video games. So that combined with the conceptual lyrics kind of painted a cinematic experience.
How did you end up working with Max Schad & Brandon Paddock, and how would you say the helped shape the album? 100%. They were just as much a part of the album as I was. I got hooked up with them through our manager and the band Volumes. We hit it off right away and I can’t thank them enough. I hope we get to work together again. After we started jamming it all felt very natural and moved very quickly.
Also, you worked in two studios at the same time for 'False Idol'! So what was that process like for you guys, and how did it compare overall to anything you'd done before? It was kind of weird. There was a lot of trust involved. Luckily we picked very talented people to work with. In the end there were no problems.
You've said that there's a darker and heavier vibe on this record. So can you elaborate on that, as well as how you think you've grown/progressed since 'Matriarch'? We have embraced this new chapter of the band. We have a dude that can sing now and that’s just going to be a part of our vocabulary. We wrote this album knowing there would be singing and who we were dealing with. ‘Matriarch’ was more of a gamble. We didn’t know if what we were doing would work or not. This time we went with it. The songs are much less guitar based and much more vocal based.
Also, looking back on 'Matriarch', how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Veil of Maya? It’s very weird for me. That album for me represents a very low point in my life. Listening to those songs is like reading journal entrees. I feel like that was my rock bottom and the fact that I survived made me stronger. Now I feel like I can make it out of any situation and it is my own motivation that will make or break me.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I can’t wait. We will be playing a lot of songs for the first time and that is very exciting. I can’t wait to see how these new songs resonate with everyone.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? London has always been pretty amazing. The rest of the UK has really started warming up to us throughout the years. I think touring with Periphery was a huge eye opener to the UK and the rest of Europe. I would love to tour with them again.
What else can we expect to see from Veil of Maya in 2018? Touring and maybe some more surprises. I’ve got the itch to create again.
Interview with Aaran
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We had an absolutely hectic schedule. We went absolutely everywhere. But I think I can speak for the rest of us when I say that the South East Asia part of it was absolutely incredible and is always a highlight when we pass through there.
You've taken on Asia, Australia and many more places across the globe. So what has that actually been like for you guys, to play these places on the other side of the world, and have fans singing the lyrics straight back at you? It's amazing, you know, when we started this band we never thought that we would ever get to play places like that. We seem to have a really strong connection with people out there. I don't know if it's because they are deprived of a lot of touring music but the reaction we get out there is incredible. It's definitely our favourite place to play for a lot of reasons.
So, looking back on 'You Are We', how happy have you been with the response to the album, and what do you think it's done for the representation of While She Sleeps? I think While She Sleeps have always had a DIY ethic and this album is just another stepping stone in proving that conventional boundaries are meant to be broken. It's given us a stronger connection with our fans and a stronger sense of self belief that anything is possible if we put our minds to it.
What songs are you still enjoying performing live the most from 'You Are We' right now, and why? I'm still enjoying playing ‘You Are We’s’ title track because it has so much emotion and at the same time so much aggression. Plus it's the first song in the set, so I have plenty of energy right off the bat for that song. I just love it!
You guys went independent for this release, so how rewarding has that been for you over this last year, and what did you enjoy the most about this process? We enjoyed not being a part of the regular process of putting out an album. Putting our trust in the fans to successfully get this album out was a really rewarding feeling. ‘You Are We’ was definitely a risk that paid off.
Alternatively, what was the most challenging part about this process, and why? The challenge was having to do everything ourselves. The work hours put in went on months after finishing the recording for the album. Getting all the products ready and sent out etc. But it was all worth it. Hard work pays off and that was no exception in this process. I think a heavy music album sitting in at number 8 in the music charts speaks for itself.
How did the music video idea for 'Steal The Sun' come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? We were in need of a music video for that song to be released as a single. But had no time to shoot one as we were heading out to Asia. So we flew out our videographer friend, Ryan Chang, and basically put together a symbolic video for the state of the world that we would film in Asia, in which the shots reflect the lyrics of the song.
Looking back on the release of 'You Are We', how would you say the band's sound has grown/progressed since you first started out? We have always shown diversity within the music we create. But I think ‘You Are We’ really stepped that up a gear. We wrote an album with no boundaries and with open doors for where we could go next. I'm personally excited to see where we could go with album number 4!
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? They can expect a band going at it with everything they've got to work off the weight they gained over xmas! Ha.
What do you think you learnt the most overall as While She Sleeps in 2017? We have learnt that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!
What else can we expect to see from While She Sleeps in 2018? A lot of working on new music and lots of shows in places that we've never been before. The Sleeps family expands..
Interview with Jaz
The morning began with a picturesque wander to the intended rendezvous in a quiet suburb of Cheltenham on a bright December morning. Majestically aged leaves fell lightly from the surrounding trees, and the bright Winter sun hung low on the horizon but filled the air with light. I approached the humbly small house and had my questionable orientation skills confirmed, when seeing the iconic figure of Jaz Coleman - Killing Joke mastermind, and internationally renound composer standing in the window. He waved, and his face lit up with that infectious smile. The door swung open and I am greeted with the warmest of hugs and smiles, instantly accepted into the home. “How have you been mate?” Jaz enquires as he instantly fills two large mugs of English Breakfast tea. He seemed a little worse for wear after last night’s spoken word evening at the Cheltenham Town Hall.. “Oh it was brilliant [the gig]. Yeah it was like the Cheltenham of old. Everyone was out and the after party was fantastic. Faces of yesteryear, and there was plenty to drink too, so yeah, a fantastic evening” After a stroll through into the lounge, a room packed full of history and memories gave all manner of talking points. “Forgive the random nature of all the stuff in here, but this is the way things work in an Anglo Asian family. After my father passed, my brother seems to stand over where he used to stand. It’s funny how these things move in isn’t it?” “That stone hearth over there, that was my first stage. That’s where I used to perform as a child. My whole life is here. I was born in this house, and it’s almost overwhelming to come back. I try and pop back three or four times a year to come and see mum.” “The United Kingdom feels like an exotic country to me, because I’ve been away so long. I know it sounds crazy but it’s the little things, like everything is in English, and all the books are in English *Laughs*. The things you guys take for granted, I just LOVE going to Boots and places like that!” “It’s the same in London. I mean, every time I’m here, I stay in the same hotel I’ve stayed in since 1979. Back then, all the punks used to go to the Columbia Hotel. We all used to meet there at the bar, because it was the only late bar open around then. We all used to meet there because it was the last rock and roll hotel. Nowadays it’s because two of our band still smoke and it’s the last smoking hotel left in England! I remember meeting the staff at the hotel when I was 18, and now everyone has grown old together. It’s amazing still going there and I remember when [Paul] Raven was alive, we used to go to the pub around the corner, have Guinness and Whiskey chaser as is always part of the tradition of getting back to the Columbia. It’s a pub where people enjoyed their last pint before they were hung, drawn and quartered. These traditions are kind of still upheld, minus the alcohol and that’s why I love coming back here to the UK.”
“I do miss English Culture. That’s what I miss about the UK. I’m essentially European from my outlook, and from an Anglo-Asian perspective I miss English culture, and I think it’s being swamped by multiculturalism. There must be a (from the perspective of the arts) an English Renaissance again. It needs to define what modern English rhythm is, and what modern English culture is. It shouldn’t just be stuck in multiculturalism. There’s links to our Anglo-Saxon and Celtic past which are so precious. The way I remember in the early sixties, and the way of doing things and I’m just frightened of a final cultural genocide. It’s a cultural thing for me and I believe in that. That might sound funny, and I might get a lot of attacks from people which are very pro multi-culturalism, but how far do you dilute the host culture? I think it needs to be spoken about. The Cultural Genocide.” “It doesn’t matter what colour people are, everyone is equal in my opinion. I mean, not that you can believe that in this country. You look at the top 100 business people, and they’re all public-school boys or girls, and I’m worried about the opportunities for ordinary people here. In our family, our heroes were people like D.H Lawrence – the son of a coal miner who crawled his way out of poverty. His story is much greater than these snotty public-school kids. You know the [locally renowned posh village] Chipping Norton set… I’m not going to get personal *Laughs*.” “Mum used to put me in for all the scholarships at the private schools, and I used to get them all. But my father would say, ‘Absolutely not. He’s going through state education’. He used to say the only way we can improve state Education is through participation. But it didn’t work for me. I came out of school with no GCSE’s or O-Levels. I mean, my parents then wanted me to go to Rudolph Steiner’s school. But the only people I’ve met from that school are drug dealers! I’m not mentioning any names!” We talk about Jaz’s time away from the British Isles, and how long he’s lived abroad. From Switzerland to the Great Barrier Reef and everything in-between. I asked him where he’s settled now. “Well, I’ve been floating around a bit. A bit of a drifter really. Northern hemisphere base the Czech Republic, which has the Killing Joke central in Prague. That being said, I’m normally never there I am always on the move. You know what I can’t stay in one place long, I get itchy feet, and just go away. I might have some traveller blood in me, with everything in our family, haven’t we got everything else?” We finished our tea and Jaz is straight on his feet to ply me with more. The gracious host peers his head around one of the bedrooms to ask his mum if she’d like a cuppa. Before he saunters off back into the kitchen laughing at our reminiscing past. I asked him what of his composing orchestra career? “Yeah, I’m working for Mr Putin now!” Jaz erupts with laughter. “I’m working for the St Petersburg State Orchestra over the next five years, which I really love, but it’s a bit cold over there! The first piece of music I bought, was classical Russian music. So, when I think back to my childhood and listening to music, it’s such an honour to be working with one of the most successful Russian orchestras. To be at this stage of my life working with this great orchestra is great especially since I’ve taught myself everything, pretty much all the stuff I’ve learnt.” Jaz’s musicianship has extended to countless artists he’s collaborated with. We discuss his collaboration with New Zealand powerhouse Shihad, on their 2014 release ‘FVEY’. A fantastic and clear example of his infectious influence on music. “Shihad! HA! Those guys are brilliant. When we went into writing those songs, they barely had any music so I bullied them to write some. Two songs a day. That was the rule. it was a boot camp. Nah I’m not joking. You ask anyone in Killing Joke, we have a standard, and those standards are needed to get it done.” Next year will be the 40th Anniversary of Killing Joke. I ask him what they’ve got up their sleeve? “Yeah, it’s the beginning of our celebrations next year because I met Big Paul in 1978, but I suppose the formation of the band is ’79. So it’s the beginning of our two year celebration anyway! And it began last night here in Cheltenham. Yeah, so officially it starts next year. It’s amazing, and if there isn’t an Apocalypse over the next year, then it will hopefully be one of the all-time greats, because Killing Joke just keeps getting better and better. Whether that’s due to our decreasing financial situation… But you know, we can join you and the rest of the world in being poor.
We discuss the writing process and how that process has evolved over the years for Killing Joke. “So yeah, with the writing and how we go about that. I mean, the last album (’Pylons’) was great and we are on kind of a creative role. I mean, the longer you leave people like Geordie alone just to play with his guitar… That’s the answer. And the thing is, the secret to writing music, is to forget about music, just have a great time. Travel the world, fall in love, face ever-changing landscapes which see you in a complete state of cultural shock, and then fill your life with colour. Colour, literature, art, everything. Then pick your poison of choice, sit there and relax and loosen up, pick up your instrument and download. It works. Always” Jaz proclaims whilst laughing and smiling. And how have your influences changed? “Human beings, I just love them. People in their everything they are my inspiration. Between you and me, I don’t listen to too much music if I can because I don’t want to be influenced by it. So I like to listen to my inner musical voice when I can. When it comes to practising music, I play the piano every day and approach music like this so I try to listen to what’s going on inside me. External influences, I try and cut out. I don’t use television, I don’t use a computer and I don’t listen to radio. Personally, I don’t use social media, I don’t watch television, if anything, I’m in the last century. Well, maybe not the last century but the century before that”. “One part of the year, I like to go really feral. That time of the year just not having to care about everything. When I’m not in Europe, my real home is 120 miles off the coast of New Zealand. It’s a beautiful island with 400 people living there and it’s got 40 acres. I can go there, and no one needs to care about me. I can live in the property for five days. This place has got no cashpoint machines, nothing. I just go feral. I don’t wear shoes or anything like that, and I just go wild. I go to the bush, I have long periods of solitude, and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s going to be a Coleman foundation of sorts. I see so many people, stressed out about paying the rent in meeting the primary needs of shelter, food, clothing and existence. They can never get to the arts of the transcendent because of the struggling. So, my goal is to create a retreat, where they don’t have to have money but can find some peace in paradise. A place where I can start a different kind of school. One for all ages, and is passion based. We look at the four members of Killing Joke, none of us have any qualifications academically. I mean, the band was our university it was our education in a way. It holds an importance to self-education, and through killing joke I want to crystallise that. I really believe that the way my mother raised my brother and I, that adds to my experiences with Killing Joke, how we educate ourselves and other things we’ve accomplished is just a massive renaissance. I want this for everyone, and especially ordinary people who want to give their children really the best education ever. My mother got teacher of the year competition for this country. My brother is a fellow Vox to Oxford Cambridge and Princeton. He is a physic superstar.” Talking about further influences you’ve worked with Dave Grohl, influenced the Foo Fighters and Metallica to Faith No More and The Damned, just to name a couple. How do you feel when you see that Killing Joke have played such a crucial role in music? “Yeah it’s just amazing. we had a record come out, a couple years ago which was basically filled with famous people doing covers of Killing Joke songs. It had Metallica, Foo Fighters, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, it was incredible.” Are you humbled by the support and the influence you have had on these artists? “I am yes, it’s very humbling, and it strokes the ego! Ah, you can’t take it too seriously I don’t think. I think my view since the punk days still remain, in looking at people as icons in any way. I was very fortunate that by the age of 20 I had met all my heroes, and I was really disappointed. What that did, was it made me look at myself and think to myself I can do that better. It made me look at myself and think I can be part of the solution here instead, and that’s what Killing Joke means to me. To be part of a solution, in whatever context someone needs that to be. Be it creatively, politically, or to chance someone’s humanity. I closed the tape recorder down after ending on such a poignant point. To see an icon of the music we love sat surrounded by his loving family, in his humble beginnings just shows how far Jaz has come, and how little of his own integrity he has lost along the way. That’s a quality with which makes the Killing Joke mastermind so endearing, and still so important to the core mantra of music today.
Interview with Craig
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Actually, it was spent mostly on the new record, ‘I Am Human’, but the shows we did do were absolutely amazing. We traveled and performed in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for the first time and did an amazing tour through the U.S. and Canada with I Prevail, We Came As Romans and The Word Alive. As far as highlights, I'd say eating a scorpion in Bangkok would be the highlight of 2017.
Okay, so how did you get to the album title ‘I Am Human’, and what does it mean to you? I decided to name the album ‘I Am Human’ based around the subject matter that engulfs the majority of the record. The artwork explains this as well as we are always having a battle between our hearts and our brain, and that’s what makes us human. On top of that, the title track is the first song written entirely from my head in a voice memo sent to Thrasher [guitarist Kevin Gruft] who built amazing music to accompany the vocals.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout the album? Everything that makes us who we are as individuals; the heartbreak, the vices, the experiences, etc.
Can you tell us a bit about how the track 'Empire' came together, as well as what it means to you guys? This track came to be after a night of heavy, “screw everything” partying. Haha. The chorus is actually a cheers we say most nights we are drinking together.
How did you end up working with Howard Benson, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Well we worked with Benson on the ‘Hate Me’ album, and when we heard he was interested again it was kind of a no-brainer to return. Everyone enjoyed working with him.
You have said that you "Haven’t been this excited to release something since I first joined the band and we put out 'This War Is Ours'", so why do you think that is, and how would you say putting this release together, has compared to anything else you've done? When I say that it means I haven’t been this nervous to release an album since ‘This War Is Ours’. You got to remember I was coming from a heavier post-hardcore act when I joined Escape the Fate and saved that sinking ship, so to enter the studio and record a song like ‘Ashley’, for instance, I was extremely scared and skeptical at what my fans would think. Thankfully, everyone loved that record so in that sense we took chances again on ‘I Am Human’, and that’s what makes me excited.
Alternatively, what was the hardest part about putting ‘I Am Human’ together for you, and why? How time-consuming it was, hands down. Vacation here, vacation there, this guy isn’t available, I’m not available, etc. And I’d say a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen."
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Palisades & Set To Stun, and what can attending fans expect? Very excited. We love touring overseas and this is no exception - fans can expect to see us play brand new material for the first time.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Oh, man. There’s a bunch. I have to admit there is one memory that sticks out the most and this is because of the sheer size of the show. We had the opportunity to perform on the main stage at Download in 2010 and "WOW" is all I can say about it.
What else can we expect to see from Escape The Fate in 2018? Total world domination. Been saying that for a decade now. This band is Pinky and the Brain. Haha.
Can you tell us about some of your influences growing up? They varied throughout the years... Dylan, Springsteen, the Clash, and then more underground punk rock and post hardcore as I got into my late teens and 20s. Leatherface, Hot Water Music, Sunny Day Real Estate. Now, I listen to anything that feels good to me. Pop music, The Stones, The Beatles, Tom Waits.
Before you started on 'Painkillers', when did you realize that you wanted to start a full on solo career, and what was that whole process like for you at first? I didn’t set out on a full on solo career until the Gaslight Anthem decided to go on an extended break. The idea to do solo work here and there was something I’ve always done, but once there wasn’t a full time band anymore I still wanted to create music. At first, it’s like new shoes, you’re not sure if they fit. But I like being on my own, I like being in bands. Basically, I like making music and I’m pretty grateful I get to do it in any way as a job. I’m one of a few people who get to do this and that is not lost on me.
What was it like to adjust to life on the road and in the studio without your buddies in The Gaslight Anthem? Adjusting on the road wasn’t as weird as it might seem because we were all ready to stop the train and get off. So it wasn’t too strange for me. I try not to compare things. I don’t compare one life to another, or one band to solo. They live in two separate worlds inside my perception so it was just a new experience.
So how did you get to the album title 'Sleepwalkers', and what does it mean to you? To me, “Sleepwalkers” are the people we are in our dreams, the parts of ourselves we don’t show out to the whole world. Maybe only a few trusted souls. Maybe only to ourselves. It is about the dreams and fears we carry inside ourselves in the hours in-between.
You've opened up with some "Unguarded" lyrical content on this record. So can you tell us a bit about that, and maybe what we can expect from the themes that run through it? I wrote about where I’m at right now and I didn’t think about filtering it or trying to hide what I was talking about. It’s all right there in the lyrics to interpret and hopefully to become part of the meanings other people put into the songs from their experiences. That’s the whole point, to have music that can express what I need to express and at the same time become part of the listener’s story in their own lives. That’s the dream.
How did you end up working with Ted Hutt, and how did he shape the album? Ted called me at the end of last year and we just kept in touch and the idea came to me that with this record Ted was the exact right person to do this one. You have to take each record as its own thing and try to find the right partner for each project. Butch Walker was absolutely the best partner I could’ve had for ‘Painkillers’ and I think Ted Hutt was the best person for this record.
You got to record in New Orleans which is obviously known all across the world for its iconic music scene with places like the Preservation Hall. So what was it like to work there, and did that environment have any effect on the outcome of 'Sleepwalkers'? I would say New Orleans has a great effect on the record, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band appears on the song ‘Sleepwalkers’.
For the first time you've got a horn section feature, what was that like? They really brought that whole song right to life. So there’s always going to be a special part of New Orleans on this record for me.
You've said that “I haven’t had this feeling since ‘The ‘59 Sound’" so can you elaborate on that, and maybe how the creative process for this record compares to anything you've done before? The feeling I hadn’t had since ‘59 Sound’ was the feeling of writing only what I truly loved, music and words, without thinking about how it compared to other records I did or what people may or may not say about it. When I wrote ‘The 59 Sound’ there wasn’t really an audience yet so I was free to write without overly thinking about how it would be received because there weren’t many people to receive it. When you do that there’s a freedom to be yourself, which I believe is what people want anyway. So I put myself in that same mindset for this one. I just sat down and wrote songs that I loved about the things I wanted to sing about. So this is for the people who want to come along.
What made you want to take up piano, and what did that experience bring to the process for 'Sleepwalkers'? The piano was something I’ve always wanted to learn, I just decided now was the time. On the record I mostly played the Organs. I moved to proper piano lessons after I got back home from the record. I’m sure it’ll have much more to do with the next one.
For awhile you said that "I was really struggling to get songs", so what that like for you as a writer, and how did you overcome it for 'Sleepwalkers'? I think that happens to many writers, no, all writers. It mostly comes from second guessing and self doubt. It’s also part of the process. Songwriting and creativity still have the devine part that won’t be understood by human minds. We can’t take credit for the talents we have. We can nurture them and practice, and try to get better and develop our talents but the true source is not of ourselves. I really believe you have to be aware of how fragile this whole thing creativity is and not take it for granted. I got over my own struggle by looking at the places I was stuck like a puzzle. I trusted that I had been given a talent for songwriting and that it didn’t simply disappear one day so there must be more songs in there. So I went looking every day, I showed up. If you show up eventually it will all reveal itself.
Also, you've said that “I’m not the same kid that wrote ‘The ‘59 Sound’", so for you, how would you say you've grown/changed as a songwriter since that point? That’s a question better decided by people on the outside. It’s a hard thing to judge your own progress. I’m not sure I’m qualified to do it. I’m not the same kid because I’m 37 years old now and I have a different life. I’m a father now. No one stays the same, things change and shift. But like I said before, I don’t compare those people. I love the 27 year old who wrote ‘The 59 Sound’. I love that record. I also try to love the 37 year old who is trying to live a life my children can be proud of and set a good example for them. I want to encourage them to go out and chase their own dreams.
Looking back on 'Painkillers', how happy are you with this album, and what do you think it's done for the representation of you as a solo musician? I love ‘Painkillers’. That was a big first step for me and it was scary to put out the first record under my own name. I’m grateful I had Butch Walker to help me take it all in stride and help me see that music can just be a lot of fun. He did a great job and I’m happy to be a part of that record.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I’m always excited to go back to the UK. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. What can fans expect? Hopefully, just the right amount.
Interview with Aaron
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2017, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We've been hitting the road super hard. Definite highlights were playing the main stage at Download, and the main stage at Hell Fest, right after ADTR and right before Prophets of Rage. Both of those shows ruled.
How was the recording process for ‘Defy’? It was very smooth. Working with Howard Benson and his team was a dream come true – we've all been fans of his work for years.
How did you get to the album title ‘Defy’; and what does it mean to you? We settled on ‘Defy’ after much discussion and thought. That word encompasses where we are as a band and where we are as people.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout ‘Defy’? ‘Defy’ deals with change. Throughout the entire album, each song gives its own take on dealing with change and the feelings that come along with it.
How did you end up working with Howard Benson; and how would you say he helped shape the album? Howard and us were brought together through the label. We were super stoked when we found out. To describe Howard's style, he doesn't so much shape the album as much as he guides us through shaping the album ourselves. Very foreman like. And shaman like, haha.
How would you say the sound of the band compares on this record to anything you've done before? It's a nod to the past with a bomblast that we haven't explored over the last several releases. There was always a sense of necessity of depth and concept and collective imagery in our records in the past; this one was simply all about making songs that we want to play live.
How did the music video for ‘Warzone’ come together; and can you tell us more about the meaning behind the track? We filmed that the day before we left to go on tour last fall. The track deals with the feelings of having anxiety attacks. As someone who suffers from anxiety, music has always been a calming tool for me. When I was dealing with a 3.00am panic attack that floored me, working on music is what helped get me through it. That's where the lyrics to ‘Warzone’ came from.
What was the hardest part about putting ‘Defy’ together, and why? Well, maybe it was the artwork, haha. The music flowed and the hardest part of that was cutting so many great ideas. The artwork though, that stuff takes forever!
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? One of my favourite things to have done in the UK has been the Maida Vale sessions at the BBC. To have been invited to record live music in such a historic studio – it gets me every time.
Looking back on ‘Cold World’, how happy are you with this album still? And what do you think it did for the representation of the band? Absolutely happy with it. Every album is a snapshot in time. When we made ‘Cold World’, you could hear a lot of the hurt and the sadness that we were dealing with, as a band and as people. It definitely alienated some of our fans but, truth be told, that record needed to be made, and it needed to be made with the honestly and integrity that we made it with.
Finally, what else can we expect to see from Of Mice & Men in 2018? The one thing you can expect is to see us in a town near you. We'll be touring heavily next year in support of the new album. We can't wait to see our fans!
Interview with Danny
So for those that might have missed it, how did you end up becoming a part of the band once more? It’s a long-winding tale. The long story short is we spent some years apart figuring everything out within ourselves and I’d seen Ben spontaneously and hung out and didn’t think anything of it. Then a week later he called me asking if I would do a tour and at the time I agreed to do it, from that it turned into two tours, then it turned into an album and here we are!
What has it been like to write and tour together again then, with you back in the band? It’s been great, I think a break was needed because we have to grow as people to really be able to appreciate working together. Keeping in mind in the beginning we had gone from being homeless, living in a Walmart parking lot to being on stage on Jimmy Kimmel playing to like seven million people all in the space of two years. So it had gone to our heads, we were like newly famous and successful with a bunch of money. It was destructive. We were kept on the road by people so when we were going through traumatic things in our life’s (which we were and at the time) we weren’t open about it. We went through heart-breaking things, I lost a daughter and we had gone through all these things and we weren’t allowed to not be on tour to grieve or to get over these things because people wouldn’t let us. So we were breaking inside and nobody cared because they just wanted the pay cheques coming in and it destroyed us. So the time apart gave us a chance to heal and a chance to grow up and learn. To educate ourselves and come back to it with a “We are not going to tour all year” approach, we just aren’t going to do that. People have families, have other careers, other things to do. So mentally we can’t do that again. Being back together now is a completely different situation than it was before, a completely different environment and it’s a much better and healthier one!
So what made you want to do a self-titled album? Because it’s our first album, as far as we are concerned. It’s the new chapter, it’s the new beginning. So it’s our first album…again.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout the album? Well there is only one influence and that is life. With everything I write I always want it to be true to me and true to what I’m doing and going through. With writing this album I had just finished doing ‘The Long Road Home’, so I was already in this mind-set of facing these demons and uncovering everything about myself. Facing all of these things that had gone out of my life and then going into writing this album it was just a natural continuation. Lyrically and in terms of theme the two albums follow perfectly together where the Asking Alexandria comes right out of it. A lot of it is about writing the ‘The Long Road Home’ so it’s like a seamless thing and it goes into “Okay what happens after.” I don’t even know what it would be called, the epiphany!
So, how did you end up working with Matt Good, and how would you say he helped shape the album? We have known Matt for many years, he’s been a long-time friend and he knows how to work with us, I mean Ben and I are not the easiest people in the world to work with but we are if people know how to approach it. If a producer tries to come in and over produce me and point me in directions and push me into doing things, telling me not to do certain things then I’m going to walk out. I will go somewhere else and I will do it by myself. Matt knows how we work and he kinds of just puts us in a room together and lets us go and we will be bouncing off the walls. There will be stupid ideas, crazy ideas but eventually we will land on something and from there it’s like “Okay we have got something, let’s make that sound come out of the speakers!”
Leading on from this. How would you say you have grown musically as Asking Alexandria on this release? Exponentially, I mean when we released ‘From Death To Destiny’ I had written around 55-60 songs in my life already. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is! All of them have been released, between the release of ‘From Death To Destiny.’ Before going into write this album 94 songs had been done, so that’s a lot of growth time, it’s a lot of time to figure stuff out and learn and obviously we wrote another how many other for this album but I think that growth time, I mean Ben has written a lot between those records and I think us both going into the room together we were both floored by how much the other one had progressed and grown. I even approach writing in a different way now, like he had sent me all this instrumental stuff he had written and he was like “So what do you think?” and I said “I haven’t listened to any of it”, “What do you mean? We are in the studio next week, you need to have stuff.” I responded with “Nope, I’m not listening”, so we go into the studio and I’ll play this song. The first time I hear it is when I’m sat writing it and singing it because that way I can get the most honest and real sounding vocal takes and lyrics in the moment. I don’t want to have to pull myself back into a feeling that I had a month ago when I was writing the song, I don’t want to try and recreate that, I’d rather have the emotions that I’m having while I’m writing it and while I’m reliving it in my mind, I want it captured.
How did the music video for 'Into The Fire' come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? That was initially Ben’s idea, it was his concept but it changed a lot over time because Ben’s idea would have cost about half a million dollars. It didn’t end up costing much less than that but it did cost less. We changed it over time and it grew, it turned into something really cool and I’ve always been a huge fan of the Sin City series so it was a lot of fun and we got to create a cinematic piece. Ben and I were pretending to be actors, we’re basically trying to add stuff for our sizzle reels!
How did the artwork for your self-titled come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork was designed by Sam and the idea was, it’s five sides represented by the five of us and the emptiness of the box inside is a metaphor for the past. In the past, that box was so full of resentment and things of that nature that we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t move forward because we couldn’t see where we were supposed to be and as cleansing and overcoming a lot of the things gave us perspective, it emptied that box and gave us what we needed to continue.
What do you think it takes for a UK band to become successful in the states? We started in the states so it’s hard to say. Yes we were all born in England but we moved to America to start doing music, we didn’t play in the UK, we didn’t write in the UK, we did start in the US. It’s near impossible to answer without saying “Move to the US”. We are English but we are kind of an American band because that’s where we started and did everything. We were big in the States before we ever played in Europe or the UK but at the same time there are bands that have done it the other way round, there is no recipe in this industry, there isn’t something you can do that will make you successful and popular. You have to have great songs and the people have to connect with them. They have to connect with you and a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. I mean if you are in the right room playing in front of the right people that can make the biggest difference in the world.
What else can we expect to see from Asking Alexandria as we head toward 2018? We have got a month and a half tour coming up at the beginning of the year and then a month in the middle and a couple of months at the end and then probably the same again in 2019. More music videos, we are focusing on a lot of TV stuff, we are going to go on the late night shows in the UK/Europe and the US. Yeah just really trying to push and take this to the next level and see where this can go. We want to push this to be an enormous band where we get to play at Wembley. We want to headline Wembley Stadium one day and we are just slowly trying to figure out how to get there.
Interview with Bobby
For those who may just be starting to hear more about Don Broco as the band gets bigger, can you tell us how you originally got together? Yeah, we left school, we’re from a place called Bedford which, it’s alright. North London sort of near Cambridge. We say Cambridge because it sounds a bit better than Luton but yeah, four friends that started a school band who basically gave it a go. We Went to University, so we had a few years off then and when we’d done that we cracked on booking a lot of our own shows. A few UK tours up and down off the back of emailing promoters and playing for nothing. We wasted quite a few years doing that before we really knew what we were doing and how to progress, so it was all a big learning curve and honing our craft and playing a load of shows. That took us to probably about five years ago where we signed our first record deal and released our first album, ‘Priorities’. We then had our second, ‘Automatic’ and now we are about to release our third album, ‘Technology’.
Well with talking how you came up through the scene, was there a moment when you realised you were going to be more than just an upcoming band? It’s hard to pick out one moment, I think we’ve always had that belief in ourselves and that’s due to the fact we know we’re a band and we believe in each other which is the main thing. There’s no egos in this band, no egos at all really, we all know if any of us tried to steer the ship in a certain way it would go away because it’s all the different parts of this band that make it whole. When we write a song, we really are thorough in the band, everyone will have their ideas, and everyone will vet those ideas quite thoroughly. Nothing gets through unless it’s been through this really, brutal process which sometimes can make song writing particularly frustrating, but I do think you get the result off the back of it because you hopefully won’t let too much chaff get through the net. The quality shines through because of having that approach to song writing, no one is like, “Right this is my song and we’re going to go off in this weird direction and it may not make any sense but who cares as it’s my song.” Having that filter on it, hopefully people agree that our albums have that kind of contingency and quality to it so, we believe in ourselves as songwriters and I think it was maybe a year or two in that we realised we had, I guess the work ethic. That’s what it kind of comes down to. It’s three things really, it’s being able to write some good songs which is sometimes hard to come by as you must write a lot of songs and you might get one or two then that are good, it’s having that work ethic to work in a whole manner of disciplines within a band, it takes a lot of moving parts to make it work. Then the third, is the luck and the patience side of things where you’re prepared that not everything’s going to go your way but sometimes, if you’re in it for the long haul and you put the work in and have the patience, you have to trust that it might be the most random bit of luck that can take you to the next stage of your career or even take you to that next song. Songwriting is something we’ve found that again, you need a lot of patience and a bit of luck that takes that song from an okay song to an absolute banger. I guess when we sort of realised that which was probably a few years in, we went okay, “This could be something we can make a goer.”
How about gig wise? I’d say gig wise it was probably one of the festivals that we realised that people are getting us now and want to see us play. Reading festival, 2011 or 2012, we played the BBC Introducing stage and it was a kind of a moment for us, we didn’t expect anyone to come to our set and we had this massive crowd who seemed to know all our songs as well. I think that’s what is so cool about festivals, it brings people from all over the country to this one place, from playing a load of naff shows to 10-20 people, it’s hard to know if it’s going well or not but when they’re at one festival, in one place, all singing along. That energy is obviously infectious and it brings more people to watch the set. That’s when you think “Okay, this is actually working now.” There was a particularly cheesy moment in the set when we were very lucky to be playing at the time the sun was setting and it was a song we had on one of our E.Ps with a kind of chilled vibe. I remember looking at each other thinking “Wow, this is it, this is a cool moment.” So if you were to pin point one moment in our history, I’d say that was the gig that gave us the confidence to think this could really be something. It kicked off a lot of things in the sense of it was our first festival, our first kind of, glimpse at what it was like to be back stage at festivals. Meeting people, we met our management and label through those gigs. So it’s been a combination of all those things.
The album is on the way, so here’s a nice generic question, how did you get to the title ‘Technology’? That was really after I wrote the song ‘Technology’, which is more specifically about social media and how I find some of my friends in real life completely cool and they’re my best mates but on social media I find them the most annoying people in the world and me not being able to tell them that because I’m a bit of a pussy so, I wrote a song about it! Rather than airing my feelings in person I chose the cowards way out, I wrote a song. It’s about how, I guess, people can change and become, almost present a vapid, I’m sure not all of it is as narcissistic as it comes across but just constant selfies, showing off and the need to be noticed. I guess that’s the addictive nature of social media, I wish we could go back to a time before that all existed. ‘Technology’ has evolved itself in a way that it has become an essential part of modern life. It is part of the fabric of existence now. Social media is just part of the real world.
Do you think there is still a balance that can be struck between real life and social media? I’d like to think so, I was lucky enough to grow up without social media so it’s something I didn’t have, and I only remember it growing up as a teenager and I loved not having it. What scares me now is kids as young as four are given iPhone’s and iPad’s and it’s now part of life. I think there is a balance, I guess there’ll either be some sort of scientific, I don’t know, medical issue that will come up when I’m 70 or something, everyone will start going mental.
Or maybe they’ll get bored! Maybe, maybe that, I think there is something, there’s a chemical. These endorphins that get released is the other that makes it hard to see a world without it now. It releases this tiny amount of serotonin in your brain every time you get a like or favourite or thumbs up, it’s chemically proven that it gives you a real, good feeling. You have to distinguish that that isn’t really happiness and hopefully there is a balance that is going to be struck. Whether that’s just people themselves realising, “Right, I don’t need this in my life, I’m going to turn my phone off for a few hours and when I get home, my day is done.” That’s something I’d love to try because I never stop working. In a band you don’t have set hours, I could be on the phone as soon as I wake up until I go to sleep. My eyesight’s going so I need it to stop! As a general theme for the album, with the songs written, I realised that modern technology, social media advances within the modern use and every day uses with smart phones and computers, it was cropping up in a few of the songs without me even realising that I had a problem with it, I obviously did and yeah, I think there is the darker side of human nature that is something I was writing about. Technology was one of the themes that kept cropping up.
Where do you hope to see ‘Technology’ taking Don Broco in the next 12 months? We’d love for the simple want of more people hearing about our band, more people to hear the music, more people to come to shows and for us to get to play more places. That’s one of the things we love the most about being a band is playing gigs so the more people who know you then the more will want to see you and invite you to play in their towns. That’s really the simple desire of this album, to do what we love to do best, and that’s play live.
Interview with Robb
‘Catharsis’ means, purification or cleansing so how did you come up with that as the title for the new record? I think about half way through the record, there was a lot of emotions and a lot of different vibes. On the one hand it was social – political stuff, on the other hand it was ignorant, let’s get messed up kind of content. There were songs about depression, songs about historical stuff, songs about hope and empowerment, I don’t know if that’s any different from any other Machine Head record but I think there was a lot of different stuff being said. When we got to that line “The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins and if these words were my fists, this is my Catharsis”, it just summed up everything we were trying to say.
The album starts off with a bang with ‘Volatile’, can you talk through what that song is about? Musically, that was the last song we wrote for the record. We had been searching for a song like ‘Volatile’, it literally took a year to get it, we just couldn’t get to that kind of a vibe. We’d tried to write some thrash songs and they just didn’t really pan out. So I think when that one finally came we were really stoked. A year is a long time to wait for that vibe to start and when it happened, I wasn’t sure what the song was going to be about musically. You know we just wrote and a week later we went into the studio to record that track and after we recorded it, that was right around the same time as the Charlottesville murder where the white supremacists were marching and having a two day rally. They murdered a girl called Heather Meir. Over those two days, it wasn’t like, a new happening, we’d been having white nationalist marches every two to four weeks since the election and even before leading up to the election and it was shocking, just really, shocking. I was angry and frustrated and confused then I sat down in the studio and I just wrote lyrics for 25 minutes and if music is a snap shot of somebody’s mind space at the time? You’ve got an angry, confused, frustrated burst of rage.
How much has the process of making a Machine Head record evolved from ‘Burn My Eyes’ to where you’re at now? Well it’s definitely evolved, that’s for sure. ‘Burn My Eyes’ was still the analogue tape days but in some ways, things haven’t changed. The main consistency is, the four of us get in a room and we just jam, we all live in the same area, we get together three or four times a week and we just play. Sometimes when we get together everything we write is amazing and most of the time what we write kind of sucks but it’s about going on a journey, you don’t know where that journey is going to end but you just go on it. With this one the main thing we changed, the last few records we’ve done have gotten really long in the studio and I start losing my mind. I hate being in the studio, after two weeks, I’m toast, I can’t concentrate, I can’t focus and especially now adding all these string arrangements, symphonic stuff, a lot of it’s done midi but a lot of it’s done in real time with real instruments, it starts to wear on me. The thing I miss most about ‘Burn My Eyes’/pre-’Burn My Eyes’ days, is that before we were signed, we’d write a song in half the time and we’d play it live a week later. I remember playing ‘Davidian’, I had three lines and two of them weren’t “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!” I just said the same stuff over again and in a lot of ways you just got this instant feedback, an instant reaction and I’d change material on the fly. We played a song live one time and I’d be like, that sucked, we need to change that, it’s just not working. Then you get signed and the record company doesn’t want you to play the songs live, and that’s fine, but it changed the dynamic for me so the way we got around that was we started demoing a lot and I think with this record, that’s just how we looked at it. We looked at it like demos, we’d write three songs and then just go record them, do it really fast in not a lot of time, not even finish the song and get out. In doing so, I feel like we captured this really awesome energy that, I don’t know if we would have captured doing it how we used to and in one way it was kind of like how we used to do it back in the old days. Then in another it wasn’t because we’re doing everything on Q Base and have the ability to Frankenstein the best parts of these very spontaneous performances into one thing. That was awesome. We never really spent more than two weeks at a time then we’d just write. In-between sessions I’d go in and work on vocals, arrangements and other stuff so it was a fluid process and it was awesome. I don’t think we’ll do it the old way ever again.
Music technology today is incredible. So for a professional, touring, recording musician, what does it do for you in the studio process? For me personally, I love it. Before, if you messed up a take you had to replay it, if the guy punching in your take messed it up you had to do it over again now you just move the little cursor line and you’ve got it. That, I can’t even tell you, is invaluable, to me it’s about capturing an energy and when your engineer messes up, boy you’re not happy! It’s easier to make things perfect now and I think that’s part of the reason why metal has become a little static and a little safe. Every body makes their material sound perfect. Literally perfect. I grew up with a lot of punk rock and hardcore, Poison Idea, Dead Kennedys and early Slayer records which were far from perfect. It was all about energy and attitude and the messiness and sloppiness of it all was part of its charm. The first Celtic Frost record is a beautiful mess! I can imagine if it was pro tooled and sounded all perfect, it would suck! I think that is what gets lost along the way and you just have to be careful about it, you have to be aware of it, you have to know that you want to leave those flaws in, those human flaws need to stay. In some ways it really only applies to metal, as it’s important to keep those flaws in. In most modern pop music that dominates rock and dominates hip hop, it’s all electronic, everything, the beats, the bass, the music, the synths, there isn’t a real instrument on there and I don’t think people really care anymore. I care, maybe because I’m just an old fart but I don’t think most people do. When they listen to pop music or hip hop, I don’t know if you heard over there but over here in America, pop and hip hop just surpassed rock for the first time in history as the dominant music form. When they said what rock was I didn’t even recognise it. It was like Blink-182, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons and I was like “That isn’t rock!” I think the beauty of technology is that it allowed those kinds of artists to put out music that people really like and I don’t really care. However, I think it’s awesome, I don’t want to go back to not being able to skype and having to write letters to my fans. I love Facebook live, I love being able to have the ability to interact. I am all forward thinking with technology, I don’t buy CDs anymore, I was the dude that carried the giant cassette player, had the CD folder, I don’t miss that at all. My life is different, I travel every where I go so my life needs to be light and compact, I live out of a suit case on a bus. Technology to me? That is awesome.
After an album is done, you have the publicity period in the lead up to release. obviously it wasn’t there for ‘Burn My Eyes’/’More Things Change Days’ so what has social media done to aid a release and keep fans in touch with everything in general? In many ways, it’s really incredible, I mean it’s mind boggling, and in some ways it’s bad but I don’t think it’s necessarily one way or the other. Overall though I would say it’s better. We did an Instagram Live yesterday from our rehearsal and we played a couple of songs and somebody sent me a request to join the conversation, which I knew you could do on Facebook live but I didn’t know you could on Instagram. I was like “Oh, look at this”, so I hit the button and there’s a guy there and Jared and I were talking to some dude from Sweden, die hard head case Machine Head fan and we’re looking at each other face to face talking to each other. Every one who was watching the feed could see the conversation happening, comment on it and I was like “This is amazing!”, it’s incredible you can do this right now! It’s really cool that you utilise that now and I think it’s important to utilise that, more important than just posting something. Sometimes with social media people seem to leave the social part out and just use it as a megaphone and they don’t care what someone else says or here’s me eating food and posting food pictures. Not that I haven’t posted food pictures, I am guilty of that too but I think at that point, that’s when it becomes overwhelming and because there is so much of it coming down peoples feeds, they just blank. They get bored, they don’t know what’s cool or important or what to look at and then that is what becomes the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge in the ‘Burn My Eyes’ days was to get in the record store where everyone could see your release as soon as they walked in. There are no record stores anymore. Now it’s cutting through the endless feed with content. I’m affected by it too, I love Eminem, He had a new song out, it took me a month to listen to that new song and this is an artist I love but it took me a month to finally get to the song. When I did I was like “Wo, this is awesome”, I had to hear about it for so long, I think that is the biggest impact that it has.
Going back to the album, this is Jared’s second album since joining Machine Head, what has he brought to this album now he is firmly embedded that he may not have brought to ‘Bloodstone and Diamonds’ as a new member? The cool thing about Jared is he goes with the flow man, we write stuff and he’s just easy. I like easy, it’s good. We did it on the last record but really what we had a lot of on this record was the harmonies, the vocal harmonies, his and my voices really compliment each other and we are really trying to utilise that. He’s a bass players bass player, that dude rarely plays what the guitar is doing, he really locks in with the drums. That’s something that is easily lost in metal today, the drums and the bass are meant to be together and the guitars are over here doing something else and when you do it right, it’s awesome. There was a lot of that, a lot of the vocal harmonies and working on those, he writes and comes up with some cool vocal melodies and stuff so yeah, it’s great.
For a band that lives so much of their lives on the road, looking at this tour schedule and past tours, what’s it like when you get home and is it tough to adjust to being back? Oh yeah, I mean at this point I’ve been home for about a year and eight months which is about the longest break I’ve had at home in about 15 years, it’s nice. It’s awesome. I’ve got two boys so it’s cool hanging out with them, but I’m a dude who lives in the moment. When I’m on the road, I love being on the road, when I’m at home I love being at home. There’s that switch that needs to happen when you leave after the last day of tour to arriving at home where it’s like “Woah” and your life goes into a different mode. It’s a tricky mode for everyone. My family is used to me not being here and then I’m here and I’m loud, kind of a tornado so it’s an adjustment for them and for me as well. It takes about 10-14 days until every body is reacquainted to each other and sometimes that’s all I am back at home for then I’m right back out there, so it’s a little bit of a head trip. For them, the week before I go on tour, my wife and kids have a sort of defence mechanism and a wall goes up and I get it. It’s so they don’t miss me, they don’t want to miss me so they just kind of shut off and I hate it. I hate it because I’m like “Hey, I’m still here! Shut it off after I go just keep it down until I leave!” It’s just what it is, I can’t do anything about it, I’ve been touring for most of my kids entire lives so at this point they’re kind of used to it.
So it's been a year since we last spoke! How was 2017 for you? It was an extremely busy year. I wrote Artemis, worked on a TV pilot for CBS called “Mission Control” that was sadly not picked up, wrote a spec screenplay, and did a huge amount of promotional touring for Artemis. Also, my girlfriend and I bought a house and did some remodeling in it. Basically it’s been nonstop motion. Pretty exhausting, really. But a productive year.
Looking back on The Martian, how happy have you been with the response to it so far, and what do you think it has done for you as a writer? It’s been a dream come true. If anything, it’s made me extremely insecure – I don’t feel like I merit the praise I get for it. There’s a saying in literature: “Give a man a book and you entertain him for a night. Teach a man to write and you give him crippling self-doubt for life”.
Overall, what do you think you learnt the most from that experience? I learned all about how the publishing industry and film industries work. Getting all that information at once was kind of like drinking from a fire hose. But I kept up – usually.
So, where did the idea for Artemis come from? I wanted to tell a story about humanity’s first city that’s not on Earth. So I designed the whole place from the (lunar) ground up. Only once I’d finished defining the city did I come up with plot and characters.
For those that haven't checked it out just yet, then what do you think they can expect from it? It’s a good old fashioned heist/caper story that takes place on the moon.
With The Martian being as successful as it was, then did you feel any pressure when putting Artemis together? Yes. Massively so. I was ACUTELY aware that this book would be placed under a microscope. Also I had to set realistic goals. It’s likely that “The Martian” will be the most popular and successful book I ever write. There’s really no way for things to go better than they did on that project. So for Artemis I set my sights on simply being a good book. It doesn’t have to beat “The Martian”. If people read it and say “That was fun” then it’s a win.
You've said that you didn't want the book to feel the same as The Martian. So how did you go about doing this as a writer? Creating something fresh & different, without sticking to the foundations that made The Martian a hit? Well, Artemis is a crime novel and The Martian is a survival tale. The similarities come in the form of the snarky main character narration and the realistic science. But the “feel” really comes from the stories themselves, and they’re completely different.
What did you enjoy the most about initially creating a city on the moon, and can you tell us a bit about that experience? It was fun to work out how to maximize the use of local materials. The moon is littered with a mineral called anorthite. It’s about 85% of the rocks in the lunar highlands and you can just pick it up off the ground (you don’t have to mine it). Anorthite is made of (among other things) aluminum and oxygen. So once you refine it, you have aluminum to build your city with and oxygen to fill it. The moon is just begging us to colonize it.
What else did you find the most exciting about writing for a city on the moon? (Maybe the gravity?) The gravity was awesome, but it’s hard to convey to the reader. The coolest thing was the isolation. It’s a city, yes, but it’s completely alone. And the people there have to work together even when they don’t get along. It’s a frontier town. I really liked the feel of that.
What was the most rewarding part about writing for the character Jazz, and why? I wanted to make a character with depth, inner conflict, and flaws. I wanted to grow as a writer, and Jazz was an experiment in all of that stuff. She’s a good person who makes bad decisions sometimes. She breaks the law and engenders others by mistake, but at the same time, will run into a doomed building to rescue her worst enemy. I really wanted to show growth. And I’m happy with how it turned out.
What was the most challenging part about writing a story based on the moon, and why? The hardest part was justifying the economy. Why would you have people living on the moon in the first place? I ended up writing a 10-page paper on the topic that was published on Business Insider. I really needed the economic foundations of the city to work for my own suspension of disbelief to be satisfied.
Where would you like to see the story of Artemis go to next? I’d like to write more stories that take place in the same setting. Not necessarily direct serial continuations of the characters you’ve met – though they’ll be there, too. I’d like Artemis to become a sandbox I can play in and tell all kinds of different stories.
What heist stories/films/books have influenced you the most over the years, and why? I’d say the biggest influence for Artemis was the film “Chinatown”. Both stories are about the ugly things that have to happen under the hood for a city to grow.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2018? For the moment I’m not committing to anything. But I do plan to work on another Artemis book.
When did you first get into the art world? Well that depends on your definition of "first get into". If we're talking about when I first started drawing cartoons, that would be as soon as I got a hold of a pencil. But if we're talking when I got into art world, professionally speaking, I think that would have to be in 2009 when I created a poster based on the classic Nintendo game, "Contra" that caught the eyes of Gallery 1988. If you aren't familiar with Gallery 1988, they are a pop culture based gallery in Los Angeles, California who've worked in conjunction with some very high profile movie and television studios. They contacted me asking if they could release my Contra poster as a limited edition print. From there I started working pretty regularly with them in numerous shows and this basically opened the door to many other professional gigs.
Was there a particular moment when you realized that it was what you wanted to do with your life? I knew from a very young age that I wanted to have some sort of career in the art world. My parents were very supportive of this goal from the very beginning. While I knew I wanted to do something in the art field, the specific end game changed and transformed over the years. I originally went to college with the intention of being some type of graphic designer only to pivot to illustrating comics books. A few years after graduating I pivoted again to poster and character design. I'm continually changing and learning new skills to adapt to an ever growing market.
How is your Sunny In Philadelphia print coming along, and what do you enjoy the most about that crazy show? At this point all I can say is the piece is in the works. This would be my 3rd poster in the Always Sunny world and if this next one does well it could lead to many more. When I was asked to create something for Always Sunny I was blown away because I really love that show. The characters and the banter between the gang is so damn funny to me. They are so selfish, mean spirited and stupid it's just so much fun to watch. It's like a train wreck, you just can't look away.
What was your first major project, and what do you remember the most from that time? I would consider a Breaking Bad poster I did back in 2012 for Gallery 1988 and Sony/AMC to be my first major project. There were a few others before that but never this high profile and never one that received as much attention. Gallery 1988 and Sony/AMC teamed up to have an art show to celebrate the premiere of the 5th and final season of Breaking Bad. They asked each artist to create their own unique spin on the property. My poster sold out almost instantly and garnered some attention from the cast and crew who had purchased them for themselves including star Bryan Cranston and producer Peter Gould.
How did you originally find your style as an artist? My teacher in college; Walt Simonson noticed that when I went from a sketch to a finalized piece of art my work became much stiffer and lost a lot of its energy. He suggested trying to not lose that element when going to the final stage by keeping the illustration more loose and cartoony. Since then I have pretty much kept the same basic concept in mind while constantly refining and progressing as an artist. I like to call it my "French toast stick fingers" style because most of the time my characters have these rectangular shaped, flat looking fingers much like french toast sticks.
Looking back on 2017, what project was the most fun for you to work on, and why? That would have to be when I got a chance to create some original posters for the NHL team; the New Jersey Devils. Aside from being a huge hockey fan, I am also a huge New Jersey Devils fan so this was a dream come true project for me. In the 2016-17 the New Jersey Devils had a game day poster campaign in which they sold a unique poster for every home game (41) played. I ended up creating 4 different posters for them.
You just put out a series of Star Wars prints. So can you tell us about how they came together, and what it was like to work in that world? A representative from the company Acme Archives came to a show at Gallery 1988 that featured some of my work. Acme produces licensed limited edition artwork for several different intellectual properties including Star Wars and contacted me asking if I had any interest in creating some posters for the ultra popular Lucasfilm movies with my own unique style. Of course I enthusiastically agreed because who wouldn't want to do this!? We brainstormed a little bit and they really liked my idea of a series of vintage style travel/tourism posters. The series continues to this day and tends to be some of my most popular work. It's been a dream come true for me. I can tell you that the day my first poster (based on Endor) was approved, I literally cried. It was my "You made it" moment. It's still pretty surreal when I think about it now.
You put together a 'Temple of Doom' poster which sadly went unused. So let's talk about it! What did you enjoy the most about working on this iconic character? The Temple of Doom poster was a lot of fun and I love the Indy character/series. This was to be the 2nd in a series of 3 posters based on the 3 original films. So needless to say, when the poster went unused (and the series was ultimately cancelled) it was a big disappointment for me. With that being said, I'm thrilled I still got a chance to have a shot at the property and at least the Raiders poster released. The designs were kind of inspired by old serial comic books with the dynamic angles and copy. Each poster would be the same layout and format so they would look just as nice if displayed together or by themselves.
What does a typical day involve for you? I work from home so it means rolling right out of bed and right into my studio (which at the moment is the same room). I like to get up somewhat early to make sure I have a regular schedule but honestly, my hours are typically erratic and anything but a "regular schedule." I know, you guys must hate me for that but it really does take a certain type of discipline to do this and making sure I'm getting my work done and paying those bills. I have my list of projects I'm constantly working my way through. And when projects start to run low I sometimes will create work for myself, like screen prints, pins, etc.. I'm also constantly packing and shipping orders from my shop so frequent trips to the post office are very common.
What's the hardest part about what you do, and why? This would be a follow up answer to the previous question. While I wouldn't call it the hardest part, I would call it the worst part of how I spend my day. If you had to break it down, 50% of my job is creating art and the other 50% is running the business end of it. Chasing down clients for payment, chasing down clients for payment again (that isn't a typo, I have to do this twice because it's such a problem), checking on the status of projects (waiting for revisions, approval, seeing if a project is still active, etc.) and trying to generate new work by reaching out to new and existing clients. I don't mean to be a downer but I am absolutely shocked by how unorganized so many clients and companies are. You have this idea when you're younger that the adult world is this well oiled machine that runs perfectly. It's the total opposite and I'm almost astonished by how inefficiently it runs some times. It's almost unbelievable some days. Phew, rant over.
Alternatively, what's the most rewarding part about what you do, and why? When a project gets approved, there's nothing like that satisfaction for me. Especially when it's a property that is special to me. Specifically, this past year knowing my work was sought after and then approved by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Nickelodeon was absolutely huge for me. The Ninja Turtles are my favorite! Additionally, some times I get contacted by fans telling me how much they enjoy my work and that never gets old. I truly am nothing without fans, as a commercial artist I do not exist without them. Because someone chooses to buy my work is the reason I get to draw cartoons for a living.
For someone looking to get into the same field as you. What advice would give to them? Be polite, professional and patient. Once in college I was also told by someone very successful that there are 3 traits you can have as an artist but you really only need a combination of two of them to "make it" in some form. They are: Talent, Speed. Be a nice, professional person. So hypothetically, if you are talented and fast but kind of a jerk, you'll still probably get work. If you're talented and a nice person but slow, you'll still probably get work. If you're fast and nice but not the most talented, you'll still probably get work. Getting the idea yet? Me personally, I'm just kind of a nice person and I'm hoping the talent and speed catch up eventually!
What else can we expect to see from you in 2018? I'm hoping to continue my Star Wars poster series, maybe get a crack at a certain animated burger slinging family and even make the jump into some really fun children's dinosaur books. You guys can view my work at www.hasUnow.com, follow me on Twitter and Instgram at @hasUnow and on Facebook by searching for @artofian.
Interview with Alex
So when did you first realize that screen printing was what you wanted to do with your life? I sort of fell into it! I was playing in a band and we needed merch - wasn’t cheap so I thought I’d take a look and see how tees were made! That’s when I found screen printing on YouTube and fell in love with the process. It was never something I decided I wanted to do with my life as such.
What was it like to start Unbroken Print? Was it a hard process at all maybe? I started printing in my basement and washing out screens in the shower - just for our own merch, then people started to ask if I could print for them - so I said yes - so as far as growing it, it was’t hard, it just happened organically.... Learning how to screen print properly was the hard part - it’s all in the prep and knowing what you are doing. So there were some painful months for sure! I’m still learning every day even now - of course, we can produce some kick-ass prints now, but it didn’t come without putting in the hours to learn it!!!
When did you realize that you could potentially make a career out of screen printing? When I was printing more shirts than playing music!
So, how did the idea for Supreme Screen come together then, and can you tell us a bit about that? I only recently started Supreme Screen (September 2017) as we’d been running under the name ‘Unbroken Print’ since 2012 Unbroken Print grew so quickly and ended up moving into other markets as well as screen printing - paper based stuff, like flyers, bus cards, posters, banners etc - so before we knew it we were doing all sorts of stuff. I just missed focussing on screen printing, but rather than stopping it all, I thought I’d start a new company, move all textile work to it and allow Unbroken Print to grow in the more corporate market with my bro-in-law running it. This now means I’m back to doing what I love the most!
How did you get to to the name Supreme Screen, and what does it mean to you? I wanted a name that was based on the word ‘Screen’ - for obvious reasons. I’m such a perfectionist, and always want things to be the best they can be, so I went for Supreme! There are lots of great companies out there doing some amazing, detailed work, but it’s not for everyone. Some stand out more than others. You have to love it, you have to want to take an image and bring it to life. It’s not just about racking up the jobs and paying the bills. To reproduce some of the stuff we do, you have a to be good! If you do everything in house, as we do, you have to be the best at what you do!
And Unbroken Print will still run parallel to this then? Yes, but nothing to do with textiles - mainly paper based stuff and sign and display.
What's the hardest part about running a screen printing company, and why? Deadlines! We have never, ever missed a deadline. Some deadlines are so unrealistic, so the only way to hit them is to put in crazy hours - we don’t put other customers back if others place rush orders as I don’t think that's fair, so we make our days longer so everyone wins. It’s my fault for taking the work on of course, I could say no - but it’s not always easy when you have guys to pay!
Alternatively, what's the most rewarding part, and why? Setting up an intricate, muti colour job on press and seeing the first print - that’s the moment you realise you’ve either nailed it or have to go back to the drawing board! When you prep your jobs for print, you have to do your colour separations in photoshop - and only experience can help you judge ahead of time. You have to know what will happen when ink hits fabric, how colours blend, how different mesh counts affect the outcome. SO when you prep all of that, and you see the print and it’s right, you know that years of hard work and going back to the drawing board has paid off - it’s a great feeling. I can’t remember the last time I got it wrong.
What does a typical day involve for you as a screen printer? Come in, turn machines on. Check emails and reply/send quotes. Count garments that arrive in the shipments ready for print. Print jobs. Eat lunch if you're lucky! Race to get everything finished and boxed in time for the courier to arrive. Back to emails. Accounts, pay bills, zzzZZZZZ - the boring stuff. Go home to 5 kids and collapse!
What project was the most rewarding for you to work on in 2017, and why? Hmmm, there were quite a few great jobs we did. I just love anything that is a challenge or crazy colourful. We did a great glow in the dark job last year which was cool!
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make it in the screen printing world? Practise, practise, practise. Spend good money - don’t be cheap!
What else can we expect to see from Supreme Screen in 2018? Hopefully we can get back to focusing on growing on our already amazing customer base. We do have the best customers. We didn’t advertise in 2017 at all as we had a lot to figure out - so it was all returning custom and word of mouth. So this year, a bit more focus will hopefully grow the family!
Lizzy Farrall - All I Said Was Never Heard UK singer-songwriter Lizzy Farrall has released her debut EP titled ‘All I Said Was Never Heard’ via Pure Noise Records which offers something different to the scene with her alternative indie vibes. Opening song ‘Broken Toy’ does a good job of captivating you with pleasant and delicate vocals with sweet stripped back guitars to accompany, making for a striking and vulnerable start. Lizzy’s vocals are varied and her technique and style help it stand out further… ‘Pack Of Wolves’ has upbeat instrumentation but the vocals are moody and edgy at times and the whole song, especially the chorus is very alluring. Latest single ‘Better With’ has a more alt-rock vibe, being more guitar heavy and is angsty and compelling, this is one of the most dynamic and best tracks featured on the EP. Following on nicely is ‘Better Off’ well at least in terms of naming convention, as the sound we see hear is quite the contrast to the previous offering but does tie in well with the rest of the EP. Again as seen throughout this is another slower indie pop inspired number. Closing song ‘Hollow Friends’ is honest, emotive and organic with some of the best lyrics and it steadily builds up, giving room for all sections to shine, making for the perfect finale. This EP is raw, relatable, quirky and mesmerising, all good qualities for a debut release. All five songs are very appealing and showcase her talent well and set the scene and pave the way for a full-length release in the future. CL
Escape The Fate - I Am Human American rockers from Las Vegas who are known to incorporate different musical influences and styles within the rock and metal spectrum return with their sixth album ‘I Am Human’ which follows their 2015 ‘Hate Me’ release. The opening track ‘Beautifully Tragic’ grabs your attention with harmonious guitar work which is present throughout and gives it an edge. It has extremely catchy melodies and strong vocals, making it a brilliant one to kick off with and helping to demonstrate what lies ahead. The emotive ‘Broken Heart’ is passionate, strong and compelling, it will be hard to forget this with its nice melodies and backing vocals which help give it extra depth, whilst ‘Four Letter Word’ keeps the momentum going, again featuring some sonic and skilful stand out guitar work. This boasts a massive singalong chorus which will go down a treat in the live setting, much like all their songs. Changing the pace and tone is ‘I Will Make It Up To You’ which is fast and has a punk rock feel initially aided by fast guitars and short snappy vocals. As it nears the end it also features an epic guitar section, so this is a standout moment on the album. ‘Do You Love Me’ is a striking emotional heavy rock love offering and strangely is actually one of the heaviest moments seen so far with ambient far-reaching guitars and fierce vocals giving it some fire. The title track ‘I Am Human’ is sorrowful and powerful, and it is extremely relatable, it will be a great call to arms and a massive anthem for everyone to revel in. To shake things up a bit ‘Empire’ has more of a heavy electronic emphasis which gives it a dark ambient sound and is again one of the edgier offerings whilst ‘Digging My Own Grave’ ramps up the metal featuring some impressive screams. The final track ‘Let Me Be’ is not what you would expect as it is one of the most mainstream upbeat songs featured, so it ends on a high positive note which is extremely catchy and shows how dynamic they can be in this slower ballad type number which still makes a big impact and features more striking guitar work for good measure. This album may not be as heavy as some might like or expect but there is no denying that this is a wellcrafted album which is brimming with talent and infectiously catchy anthems. That being said there is enough of a mix of heavier and mainstream moments here, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. CL
Cane Hill - Too Far Gone Cane Hill are back with their sophomore album and follow up to their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Smile’ which follows two years later and again ‘Too Far Gone’ is released via Rise Records. They made quite an impact initially so does their second album match up? The opening and title track is immediately blistering and belligerent, especially with the vocals giving it a crazed vibe switching from shouts to talked parts. This is a gripping start. ‘Lord Of Flies’ keeps up the dysfunctional distressed sound and this time it features some powerful and memorable melodic vocals, making it infectiously catchy. ‘Singing In The Swamp’ offers an unconventional and very different intro from the band which is intriguing and shows they can offer variety. This song overall is very striking, whereas ‘Why?’ is the most commercial sounding, featuring strong clean vocals which are powerful and extremely melodic and show Elijah Witt’s well rounded vocal capabilities, the brilliant resonant guitar work throughout make this a stand out song which should appeal to the masses. The latest menacing single ‘It Follows’ is stomping, groovy and hard to get out of your head, it surely will follow you wherever you go especially with memorable lyrics such as “I'm a magnet, I attract it. Everywhere I go you know trouble follows. I'm just a magnet for pain”. ‘Hateful’ really captures the essence of hate and will get the calmest person riled up and ready to destroy stuff. This is also more of a nod to their sound on their debut album. To close up this brutal offering is the appropriately titled ‘The End’ which has a massive atmospheric sombre sound which is unexpected but acts as the perfect way to finish and again highlights how the band have evolved and expanded their musical style, not just delivering all out mental heavy tracks, this is a great transition as this embodies both sides of the band’s sound. This is, for the most part, an explosive and brutal album much like their hit debut album ‘Smile’ which is one to let loose to through their primal energy and madness. Fans of extreme metal, hard rock, nu-metal and well all heavy genres should revel in this, and yes although similarities can easily be heard the band still manage to create a sound and album that is exhilarating and in this sophomore they definitely put more of their own stamp on it, as you can hear an evolution of their sound already which should draw in more metal heads. This is already a serious contender for one of the best metal albums of 2018. CL
Will Varley - The Spirit of Minnie Already with a hefty reputation for his ancient folk infused style, the follow up to ‘Kinsdown Sunsdown’, continues to see Will Varley grow as a songwriter and performer, he also now is bringing something very new to his fifth album, bringing for the first time a backing band into the fold. It is a welcome addition as is obvious straight from opener ‘All Those Stars’ and allows his songs to evolve and be expanded upon by adding this new element and frankly he has taken to it like a duck to water. ‘Seven Days’ has all the lyrical brilliance of his previous efforts and the atmosphere generated in ‘Screenplay’ adds to the emotion of the voice which makes it hit home all the more. It gets stripped back a bit for ‘Breaking the Bread’ with some great melodies being performed with the guitars and what I’m pretty sure is a bit of pedal steel and the words that narrate will resonate with plenty, “if your heart is an ocean, I am a sinking ship”. Maybe it is my current mindset, but those words and the fiddle paint a distinct picture and it is hard not to feel the emotion of the song sinking deep down with the sinking ship it talked of. There is a wealth of great story telling artists out there, Frank Turner, Brian Fallon and Will Varley is firmly alongside them, he reminds me in some ways of the story telling abilities of Tom Waits as he keeps making the words meaningful with some not applying to someone but others cutting close to the bone. The title track is one that will in time be seen as one of the highlights of his career, it is a journey and it is a stunning one while closer ‘Insects’ is also something to behold with its mesh of different sounds and spacey wailing vocals. ‘The Spirit of Minnie’ is an album that will mark a big change for Varley, he will only get bigger and better. A collection of big moments, tender and caring ones and ones that can bring the emotions out of you very easily, there is an art to that which only comes from a story teller who has lived these songs. AN
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - The Age of Absurdity Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons is the creation of Motὂrhead guitarist Phil Campbell and joining him in his new musical endeavour is his sons Todd Campbell on guitar, Dane Campbell on drums, with Tyla Campbell on bass, and vocalist Neil Starr. ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ is the hard rock groups debut album which will be released via Nuclear Blast Records. The opening song ‘Ringleader’ gets things off to a fast and fun start which immediately grips you. Going on to feature great rhythms, melodies and strong vocals, this is a very solid kick off which leaves you eager to hear more. ‘Freak Show’ keeps the pace and standard high with an extremely catchy chorus with stomping riffs throughout, whilst ‘Skin and Bones’ features some solid chugging riffs and great pounding drums giving everyone their moment to shine. ‘Welcome To Hell’ is a great angsty pumping anthem to get you ready and set to go with its get energetic hard rock vibes that will get you moving. Whereas ‘Dark Days’ has a different feel with bluesy southern vibes aided by the addition of a harmonica against a dark sludge backing, adding some diversity which works really well. It also has brilliant lyrics and vocals throughout as well as more great solo guitar work which may be some of the best yet. ‘Dropping The Needle’ is a rampaging fast fuelled track with strong vocals, showing them doing what they do best with their straight up hard rock sound, making this a must hear and the perfect representation of the band and the album for that matter. ‘Get On Your Knees’ is packed with attitude and swagger and features some hard-hitting lyrics and is seriously melodic, another top-notch heavy anthem. We finish up this fast and fun adventure with an unexpected contrast with a balladesque number with ‘Into The Dark’ but although it is slower and stripped back the country hard swoon and rhythms make this just as powerful and striking as some of the all-out no-nonsense tracks, making this a pleasant and perfect surprise to end on. It is expertly crafted and shows off the talents of all members wonderfully. This exciting debut is full of hard rocking anthems, making it highly enjoyable and packs a hefty punch. This could already be a contender for one of the best hard rock albums of the year. CL
Harker - No Discordance Showing there is still life in indie/pop punk, Harker have a debut that will only take them further and further from their native Brighton with songs that are catchy, bouncy and just enjoyable. Combining melody with big riffs and thoughtful/at times hard hitting lyrics, there is confidence coming from this album that only comes with having confidence in the ability of yourself and of course, your band mates. ‘Station Approach’ does exactly what an opener should, it catches you and gives you a reason to listen and continue to find the other songs on an album and having done that, ‘Plague My Heart’ keeps it going strong with nice hooks. Lead single ‘300 Cigs’ was a fine choice as it also does the job it needs to, bringing people to listen in the first place, the words are heart felt and flowing, it’s short, sharp, catchy and a very good song to get people in. With elements of the Chicago/New Jersey sounds, particularly at points, to my ear at least The Loved Ones, they do well with the vocal harmonies adding more depth to the song. It is such a simple thing too, but it is often either over looked or simply done badly, once you have it right like Harker have done then it is as good as an extra instrument or solo. Harker have already shared stages with some big names and if they can keep up with new music as strong or of course, stronger than this then they are in with a good shout. AN
Senses Fail - If There Is Light, It Will Find You Post-hardcore act Senses Fail from New Jersey, US are still going strong with their seventh album titled ‘If There Is Light, It Will Find You’ which comes three years after their last release ‘Pull The Thorns From Your Heart’ and as before it will be released through Pure Noise Records. The first single ‘Double Cross’ opens the album and is upbeat, resonant and super catchy, featuring a dynamic mix of strong clean memorable vocals and fierce screams, making it a great fast fun start. ‘Elevator To The Gallows’ keeps things fast and striking with brilliant bouncy riffs throughout, whilst ‘Ancient Gods’ is a catchy stand out track which although instrumentally is quite positive sounding the lyrics are in contrast with lines such as “Everyone I love is always far away from me”. ‘Is It Gonna Be The Year’ is an honest and relatable one to reflect upon which is also infectiously melodic and vocalist James Nielsen makes use of his varied vocal abilities to help add emphasis and angst. There is also a stand out guitar section so there is a lot going for this track, making it a must hear in my opinion. ‘You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense’ has very fast and upbeat galloping instruments but the lyrics are a stark and shocking contrast with lines like “I used to want to kill myself, I used to want to die…” and “I used to want to blow my brains out in a crowded room” highlighting the pain and sorrow that exists heavily throughout the album. Musically this has a different tone and sound which helps adds more variety. Following on from the previous harsh truths of life’s struggles is the even more heartbreaking ‘Orlando And A Miscarriage’ which is raw, emotional and hard-hitting with lyrics like “I lost you before you were born”. This is a powerful and anguished song, which although is hard to hear is very brave of the band to write about as they bare their soul and personal tragedies for all to hear. The title track closes the album and is the most depthful and powerful moment on the album making for an epic and dramatic close. This is a stunning yet sorrowful album, it features so much pain and honesty throughout but that is what makes it such a genuine and must hear album. They manage to capture the emotions whilst also softening the blow with energetic positive instruments to contrast the context. Seven albums in and they still know how to make a high impact and melodic offering that existing fans and new fans alike can appreciate. CL
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Wrong Creatures Back with their first album in five years, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club mark their 20th year with ‘Wrong Creatures’, an album that sees them continue to evolve their sound and bring new elements in. There is of course nothing new for a band that have never been afraid to try new things and not rest on their laurels. ‘Wrong Creatures’ begins with a moody, almost African, gothic in nature intro track, slowly growing with throat vocal backing, the gradual introduction punches of the bass adds in an amount of menace which makes it hard to read how the rest of the album will progress. ‘Spook’ cuts in with a delay effect riff that broods with the punchy bass line and fuzz fused is punctuated by a catchy chorus and mid section that brings in melody and makes for a great way to start the album proper. The most recently released single ‘King of Bones’ continues the lower tone register of the music so far giving it a nice sludgy sound. There is a myriad of different sounds and influence through out the record, there are elements of goth rock and in moments I find myself thinking of Nine Inch Nails. Given the producing duties were handled by Nick Launay, famous for his work on many albums by big names, in this instance especially, Nick Cave. There are parts of the album that have that dark style, dripping with angst and gloom while keeping such a natural and dare I say, even a spirituality about it. Songs such as ‘Echo’ brings bundles of emotion, given how dark parts of the album sound, like life in general, there is always light somewhere to find no matter how bleak it may be. First single ‘Little Things Gone Wild’ chucks in some Americana into the mix with a groovy fist thumper that will be one that will always be a winner on stage. After the mass of sounds and infectious noise through out the album, the closer ‘All Rise’ throws out a little curve ball with only Peter Haye’s voice (which has vocally narrated this album to an immense extent) and a piano for much of it, building slowly it allows the music to conclude the journey of ‘Wrong Creatures’ in a stunning and atmospheric end, worthy of stadium shows. This album deserves to be huge, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have knocked it out of the park with an genre transcending album that has the potential to be timeless.
Marmozets - Knowing What You Know Now English alternative rockers Marmozets are back with their sophomore release ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ with Roadrunner Records, which comes four years after their debut ‘The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets’ so how far have they come since their original showcase…Well, they immediately show they have that same energy with the opening fun song ‘Play’ which is feisty, ambient and super catchy, making it the perfect choice for their first single release and kick off to the album. Their latest single ‘Habits’ follows and it features superb melodies, beautiful varied vocals and has the makings of a powerful anthemic hit. ‘Major System Error’ is peculiar but brilliant with erratic sounds and vocals which go well with the theme and context of the song. It has driven riffs, is very dynamic and is infectiously catchy so this is definitely a stand out moment. Another highlight is the fierce ‘Lost In Translation’ which comes across as a heavier rebellious offering and it is bound to translate well in the live setting and get everyone singing along with Becca Macintyre. This is one of her biggest vocal performances where she finally unleashes her fire more with harsher edgy vocals. ‘Suffocation’ again has a somewhat dysfunctional sound at times with an unstable brilliance and swagger which results in another massive and memorable tune to revel in, especially with its rock ‘n’ roll and hard rock vibes. To close this fun and crazy release is ‘Run With The Rhythm’ which is quite subdued initially but then it builds up in intensity and power making it striking and a high note to end on. This is a lively and vibrant album for the most part which still packs a punch with fiery moments seen in belters like ‘Lost In Translation’ so it offers something for everyone and it will be extremely difficult to forget these twelve creative and boisterous offerings. CL
Thuum - Through Smoke, Comes Fire Thuum have come a long way in just a few short years, with a name clearly inspired from popular video game Skyrim they’ve hit the road with their blend of insane sludge metal and have inspired the masses far and wide. Now their debut EP is here and it’s...different. Beginning with an instrumental Intro it begins with chanting to solidify that this is going to be a dark 25 minutes of your life. As the words continue to spill forth the guitar work kicks in and it’s beautiful, nothing intricate just delicate and inevitably the drums kick in and all hell breaks loose. This lasts for 5 minutes which feels a bit much. In all honesty the next songs ‘Worthless’ and ‘Hafgufa’ are dull. It just sounds as if someone’s thrashing a guitar while another is screaming into a microphone. Half the time it doesn’t sound like real words. I can appreciate a lot of work goes into making songs like this and it is impressive but for me it’s just something that’s been done before. However ‘Through the Fire, Comes Smoke’ is different, there’s more personality to it and it actually sounds like a song on its own rather than a continuation of the previous tracks. The guitar work feels a lot more involved and the drums invoke a reaction of menace. A mixed bag on this one, good intro and good closer but boring middle. Kind of like a filler episode of Game of Thrones. RO
Machine Head - Catharsis One of metals biggest bands of the past 20 years, Machine Head have been through their fair share of trials and tribulations. Nearly 25 years on from the classic ‘Burn My Eyes’, they are as strong as ever with a clenched fist and an if you don’t like it you can fuck off attitude. “Fuck the world” is the opening salvo with ‘Volatile’, a typical in your face Machine Head opener, the song, as you can read in the interview elsewhere in this issue, brings real world anger with it, packed with aggression and a clear desire to see some sort of change in the world, particularly America. Now, while the opener has that vintage Machine Head feel and the title track is more in line with modern Machine Head, this is an album that I suspect is going to split opinion. It shouldn’t but there are going to be those that will complain, this is an album that see’s them as a whole and Robb Flynn in particular using everything they have learned over the years of songwriting and relentless touring and they use it to great effect. The title track is one that will be a staple of Machine Head sets from here on out, “the one thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins, if these words are like fists, this is my catharsis” are words to live by, it’s also a far cry from letting freedom ring with a shotgun blast. The song also brings the first of the string elements and the superb partnership of vocal harmonies between Flynn and bassist Jared. It also continues to see Flynn grow as a clean vocalist. The followers such as ‘Beyond the Pale’ and ‘California Dreaming’ are what you may expect but then comes the rapped sections of ‘Triple Beam’ which isn’t too much new from Machine Head, there has often been a certain amount of words like it but this one is more blatant. Some will love it, some will hate it, but it will conjure plenty of conversation. The bigger talking point will come with ‘Bastards’ which when it first started surprised me but, I fucking loved it. I can remember on ‘Unto the Locust’, ‘Darkness Within’ causing lots of toy throwing from sections of the fan base. It was different, and it was great to see but I unfortunately just didn’t like the song. I think this one is superb. Another stand out is ‘Razorblade Smile’, the tribute to Lemmy which is cleverly constructed with pieces of ‘Overkill’ in particular, being thrown in before ‘Eulogy’ brings things down with a dark closer that slowly comes out of the dark tone to a brighter more upbeat ending. Perhaps a beacon of hope at the end of a tunnel. This album will definitely divide opinion, personally I love it. I love to see a band doing things differently, it would be so easy to write another ‘Burn My Eyes’ or ‘The Blackening’ but Machine Head have written ‘Catharsis’ and a very worthy addition to their catalogue it is. AN
Speak The Truth... Even If Your Voice Shakes - Everyone You Love Will Slip Away Pop-punk and myself have always been an odd relationship, they'll be times where I absolutely love the energy and joy that comes from the major scale. There are times where the sound of the subsequent happy overtones make me, to be honest, cringe, hard. Speak The Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes have been on my radar on and off for some time and they really know how to hit the nostalgia nail right on the head. It's easy to tell they are from the LA scene just from their sound but what they do particularly well is add a bit of flare to the pop-punk scene. They don't rely too hard on the tested and tried formula and are happy to change things up when the song needs it. Every now and then I can’t help but hear little bits of Royal Blood esc breaks and intensity. The guys know their instruments in and out and know their strengths. Production wise it sounds incredible and the album flows nicely from track to track, but alas, by the time I'm half way through the album my issues with pop-punk arise and I find myself starting to turn off. The guys do redeem themselves however with ‘At Least There's Always Lexapro’ which is a nice change of pace and shows the heavier side of things. Subsequently this became my favourite track on the album. Overall Speak The Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes have produced a really solid album. TR
The Dangerous Summer - Self-titled It seems as if this band have done what so many have done before them and turn their backs on the emo/alternative lifestyle in favour of melodic rock, in so many cases it doesn’t work out. Fanbases go one or two ways, love beyond all doubt and belief or hate beyond all comprehension with no way to change their minds. Ultimately this album is about a band growing and changing into something a lot more relevant in the music scene. It’s clear that the style of music is changing from singles ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Fire’, what we were given as a teaser was a changed band. One that was focusing more on melodic sounds rather than fast rock like their previous efforts. That being said there are still elements of where they came from in terms of genre and style. ‘Wild Again’ picks up with a faster pace, heavier drums and a lot more use of the electric guitars. Even the lead’s voice seems to revert back to a rougher version of what it is now. The defining moment on this album for me comes at the very beginning with the first track ‘Color’, the power of lead singer AJ Perdomo accompanied with an acoustic guitar is amazing. His voice is very unique and can be likened to that of Jesse Lacey, in the sense that it sounds easy but to reach the level he maintains would be a hard task. As the rest of the band join in the song turns into a huge anthem and even has a wonderful electric guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Although The Dangerous Summer have obviously taken some sharp turns in their career to have ended up with a new sound they do it with style and grace. This is not the beginning of the end for this band, merely a group stepping away from the young band they were and growing into something much more new and exciting. RO
Green Day - Greatest Hits: God’s Favourite Band 2017 was a big year for pop punk so what better way to finish the year than a greatest hits album from the pioneers themselves – Green Day. Controversially named God’s Favourite Band, Green Day’s compilation take us right back to the beginning with classics from the 1991 album Kerplunk all the way to recent album Revolution Radio. Once a band that was almost laughed at with their ridiculous hairstyles and raucous punk vocals, this album shows how far this trio have come with their extensive career - one that most bands would only dream of. Ever since the breakthrough of Dookie, Green Day have become global pioneers in the genre. Similarly to the International; Superhits! all of the expected tracks are included; ‘American Idiot’, ‘Welcome To Paradise’, ‘Basket Case’ and ‘When I Come Around’. But, since the release in 2001 there have been six studio albums - that’s a lot of new tracks to choose from. Popular hits, ‘Know Your Enemy ‘21 Guns, ‘Oh Love’, ‘Bang Bang’ ‘Still Breathing’ all rightfully earn a place in this time warp.
If a bunch of everyone’s favourite tracks back to back wasn’t enough, God’s Favourite Band also features two new tracks “Back in the USA” and “Ordinary World” with special guest American Superstar Miranda Lambert. So, welcome to paradise you basket case, we are not saying good riddance to America’s Grammy award winning legends just yet! SC
The Xcerts - Hold On To Your Heart Clearly The Xcerts are a hot ticket to watch at the moment, after selling out a few dates on their last UK tour and opening the main stage at the prestigious Reading and Leeds Festivals these guys have definitely got a formula for success. Their new album ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ is a masterpiece of ballads and pop anthems to wow a new generation of music lovers. The album opens with the hauntingly beautiful ‘The Dark’, a slow melodic piece comprising of a steady piano and lead singer Murray Macleod singing about a break up he’s gone through. Something a lot of people can relate to, you can be surrounded by all of your friends but all you can see is “the dark”. It’s an amazing way to open a very progressive album. However if slow depressing ballads aren’t your thing and you’d much prefer a light upbeat pop rock track then you can of course immerse yourself in the single ‘Daydream’ or perhaps the 80s esque ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ may be more up your alley. This is a band that know damn well what it takes to be noticed and that’s hooks so catchy that you can snag your favourite shirt on them. ‘First Kiss’ is an earworm of a track that will not leave your head after the first listen. Murray had high expectations for this album; “The mantra in the studio was we wanted it to feel classic but have a modern twist, which is not an easy feat to pull off. We wanted people to listen to the record and think anything’s possible.” To go from the upbeat fast tempo track ‘Crazy’ to the more sombre titular track ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ and then onto the saxophone driven ‘Drive Me Wild’ it does make me think anything is truly possible within the confines of this album. From the moment this album opened with ‘The Dark’ I knew they’d have to end with something just as poignant and amazing. ‘Cry’ satisfied that itch for me, the meloncholy almost Joy Division-esque tones along with the emotional vocals end it with style and finesse. The Xcerts are on their way to bigger and better things, every band has that one album that defines them and I believe ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ will someday be revered as being one of the classics of the modern era. RO
Asking Alexandria - Self-titled The name Asking Alexandria has rung around in my head since a fourteen year old me first saw them live at a festival and got a sweaty towel to the face. At the time, I wasn’t impressed. Unfortunately, their newest release of the self-titled album was better but not much better. At first, I was actually rather pleasantly surprised. It seemed to me that the album was well put together, heavy, and a quality sound overall however upon a second and third go around with the songs I found a couple problems. The lyrical content is not up to par. I felt like with how many tracks there were, there should be more diversity and more risk taking and the lyrics felt a little “seventh grade” to me. In addition, the release overall only had so many layers. Once you peeled back the layers, there was nothing left to discover or find and that unfortunately left nothing exciting about the release once the blush faded. For me, music should have an infinite amount of layers. That seems to be a steep challenge on paper, but really, when something touches you-- it touches you. This release simply didn’t touch me. The blush was there, and then poof, it was gone once I peeled back the minimal layers that I found. The guys played around with vocals and the rhythm and tempo of how they were laying down the lyrics, and in some ways it took a hip hop like beat which worked in some areas and definitely did not in others. I appreciate the risk for sure, but for me it just didn’t hit me the way they may have hoped it would. For some, I’m sure this release would strike a lot of chords and be the whole nine yards. However, for me, it fell pretty short. LD
Fall Out Boy - M A N I A Most FOB fans didn’t think they would ever see another full length album after 2008’s ‘Folie a Deux’. So fast forward 10 years and two more records, ‘M A N I A’ is unexpected for a few reasons. If you’re looking for Fall Out Boy to be back with some nostalgic grab at reviving mid 2000’s pop emo/punk then you clearly haven’t heard much of their discography since the reunion. ‘M A N I A’, the 7th studio album from the Chicago-native band, feels like the natural progression for them. Fall Out Boy has always strived for the cutting edge of pop music, an unheard of feat for most rock bands - especially those hailing from the punk and emo background, and they aren’t afraid to ditch tradition for an attempt at a pop hit. ‘M A N I A’ doesn’t employ nearly the same amount of guitar driven work that is shown across the rest of their discography, but it is balanced by staples of modern pop music like electronic vocal chops, synths, samples, and programmed drums. None of these elements are completely out of character for them as a band but the electronic-pop elements are very heavily embraced on tracks like ‘Young and Menace’ and ‘Church’. Across the record, there is a really unique exchange between the real drums and the electronic percussion that really sets it apart from the rest of their body of work. A track like ‘The Last Of The Real Ones’ could hold its own along the likes of SIA and Calvin Harris on a Top 40s station but still has lyrics like “Write our names in wet concrete/I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me” that sound like the same Fall Out Boy we’ve always known. ‘M A N I A’ may not be for those looking for another ‘From Under The Cork Tree’, but it certainly carries the same precise songwriting, out-of-genre elements, and teen angst lyrics that are at the core of Fall Out Boy.
MC Final Coil - Persistence of Memory Almost ten years after initially forming, UK based art metal band, Final Coil, have released their debut full length record with the support of WormHoldDeath record label no less. ‘Persistence of Memory’ is an 11 track record that contains the atmospheric qualities that have become commonplace among post and art metal bands and heavy guitar riffs similar to that of Tool and Mastodon. Some of the best examples of this are on tracks like ‘Moths to the Flames’ which transitions between dueling guitar riffs and melodic, atmospheric choruses! ‘Persistence of Memory’ closes with perhaps the most experimental track, ‘Alienation’, which begins very minimally and gradually builds into an epic crescendo that perfectly punctuates this record. MC
Deer - Portraits ‘Portraits’, the debut EP from Mexico-to-Hong-Kong transplants, Deer, tells the story of their travels through a mix of trip hop and industrial. The vocal melodies along with these eclectic genres forms into an entirely unique sound reminiscent of psychedelic rock but with the same ambitious hooks of bands like Muse and Florence and the Machine! Instrumentally, Deer calls back to Nine Inch Nails-like percussion under lush manipulated guitars, which is surprising given how often electronica-esque artists choose to leave the guitar out of the sound. As for lyrics, ‘Portraits’ displays various moods across the songs that take the listener across the journey experienced by the band themselves. MC
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. - Young Adult Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. made a triumphant return in 2017 and teased fans with the possibility of a new record. In January 2018, Get Cape. delivered the ultimate indie-pop prize, ‘Young Adult’. While still ticking all of the boxes of acoustic guitars, quirky lyrics, and a strong aesthetic, ‘Young Adult’ shines with full instrumentation that sets Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. apart from the usual indie-pop act. Utilizing synths, xylophones, pianos, percussion, electric and acoustic guitars, Get Cape. makes every song on ‘Young Adult’ individual. From drawing on jazz, new wave, and folk influences this one-man-band made a record that is hard to put into a box. The lyrics of ‘Young Adult’ also really tie all the genres together by discussing themes about coming of age, growing up, and needing stability as an adult. MC
Of Mice & Men - Defy After the second departure of Austin Carlile in late 2016, Of Mice & Men spent the better part of 2017 adjusting to bassist, Aaron Pauley, taking on the role of lead vocals as well as writing their next record. The result - ‘Defy’. Oddly, I can’t escape the feeling that they’re are trying to incorporate classic rock elements into their signature metalcore sound - and it’s not just because there is a cover of Pink Floyd’s song ‘Money’. Both the opening riffs on the title track and ‘Vertigo’ call back to the classic rock and old school metal vibe too. Perhaps it’s the new vocalist writing more melodically to his own style of singing, but the choruses of a few songs on this record sound like they could sit on a Linkin Park record, like the radio-effected vocals in the pre-chorus of ‘How Will You Live’ that drop into a lush, epic chorus. As for some of the heavier moments on this record, ‘Warzone,’ which was one of the lead singles for the record, takes the listener from racing nu-metal guitar riffs and harsh vocals to a melodic drop about halfway through the track! Overall this record is trying to reach for more pop sensible choruses and still maintain the band’s heavy factor, but the result is not a ton of differentiation across the whole album. ‘Warzone’ was certainly a daring choice for a single as its structure is fairly unique and ‘Sunflower’ felt like a more natural maturation for the band at this level, but the rest of the record didn’t appear to be any different from the title track. MC
Canadian Metal Variety Just For You Eh! Written by Sean Farias (Vocalist of Within Shadows). Hello fellow Stencil Magazine readers! We are Within Shadows; an independent Canadian Metal variety band from Harrow Ontario, Canada. Our band members consist of Sean Farias on vocals and Brad Tiessen on guitar. We both record all the musical parts for releases. We also have our good friend Josh Wright as a part-time bassist for live shows. Our band is here in this lovely magazine to tell you a little bit a-boot ourselves, what we’ve done as a band and what we have planned. We’ve been a band since 2014, starting off as a solo project and then evolving into what we have now. Some of our accomplishments to this day include creating a debut EP, full length LP, raising and donating money from our album profits to our local Food Banks, donating to other charitable organizations such as Suicide Awareness and also working with well-known and talented artists in the music industry like Lucas Mann of Rings of Saturn, Oshie Bichar of Beartooth, Derek Petricka of Inflict and many more. Shout out to Joe Farias for all his help with our music too from engineering to featuring. We created our band with the intent on having a project where we were never to be tied down to a single genre of metal. Everyone collectively in our band loves and was inspired by a various array of artists and musical genres. To this day our band has released songs incorporating a wide variety of metal genres such as djent, easy-core, hard-core, heavy metal and much more. When you listen to us, we’re like a box of random Tim-Bits. You never know what you’re going to get. That is one thing we pride ourselves on and have done as a band to create something unique sounding to you, the listener. We have so many more cool songs and sounds in the works to excite your little ears. In 2017, Within Shadows started playing live shows locally. We played many bars in the Windsor Region such as The Windsor Beer Exchange, The Backstage and more. We had the honor of playing alongside some really incredible bands like Adrian Pain and the Dead Sexy, Part of the Plan, Devilz by Definition and countless more amazing bands. We were able to meet new faces and create so many awesome new friendships. Playing live is truly what we love the most about this whole musical experience. It has also helped us grow as musicians and individuals. Our shows are very energetic and action packed so the feel in the room has always been a blast. Huge shout out to our Harrow crew and all our families for always supporting us the way they do. As I am writing this, we have our last show of 2017 booked at The Atria in Oshawa Ontario. It will be our first out of town show and we are extremely stoked. Over the years we have worked diligently on growing as musicians and developing more and more of a professional sound. We are honored to be recognized by many people in the community and our fan base as a band that has really progressed from our EP and LP sounds to what we are creating now. It has taken a lot of learning and practice, but being able to create our music from the comfort of our own home studio, produce and engineer it ourselves and create something for others to enjoy which means everything to us. The band is able to take its time through the whole process to give you all something genuine and truly special. We are currently working on three brand new projects in the coming year. The band collectively is working on a whole brand new album that we are very excited for. It will certainly be a huge maturing release for our band. It will be more of a turn to the super heavy side of Within Shadows. Also, I myself am working constantly on new tracks for a whole separate release which I am super stoked for you all to hear. By creating and releasing music this way we are able to put out more constantly than we normally could, due to us all having full time jobs and busy lives, it’s hard for us all to be together and consistently work at the moment. We can’t wait for you all to hear everything to come, there are a lot of surprises and things we think you will all really enjoy. Lastly, we just want to thank everyone that has supported us to this day. Some of you have from the start and some of you may have just started today. We love and appreciate every one of you and consider you all our family. It is amazing what music can do and we are all lucky to be able to enjoy it together as a community. If you want to keep up with what we are doing follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all that jazz. Our music is available on every platform as well. We have so much more content and lots planned for our band in the coming year and are excited to experience it with you all. Take care and rock on Shadows!
Tonight Alive - Underworld Unfortunately, up until this very moment, I have not been familiar with Tonight Alive. For whatever reason, they never managed to strike a chord with me and this album was no exception. For me, it was a bit plain and lack luster. Every song seemed to mesh together; there was no differentiation or way of telling apart the two and the ones that did seem to be different were not aurally pleasing. However, I do feel that the album made a good effort with thirteen tracks and guest appearances from Lynn Gunn and Corey Taylor. Both tracks they appeared on, ‘Disappear’ and ‘My Underworld’ (respectively) were highlights of the album for me as they brought in new perspectives and tones that were not otherwise offered. ‘My Underworld’ offered a quiet intro, and swelling chorus that led up to Taylor’s vocals well. Jenna McDougall (vocalist) is obviously a talented musician, as are the rest of the band however I felt like their talents were not exhibited to their full extent here. While ‘Underworl’d is a solid listen, I felt like it wasn’t pushing boundaries or brought to the full height that it could have been. LD
Saints of Sin - Welcome to the Circus Listening to this album was a pleasant surprise-- albeit a tad cheesy, these guys did a good job of keeping the energy up and making this a good album. While the lyrical content was not necessarily complex and actually rather simple, there were other elements that made this release. ‘Welcome to the Circus’ was a really strong opener after the lead song ‘The Ballad of the Big Top’. The whole release had a theme of fun filled, rock n roll style circus jams that did well to serve as pump up songs or just good tracks to bob your head to. ‘Wasted Nights’ made one of my favorites, for a slamming intro right out of the gate and a blistering solo.
The song tells a tale of drunken reverie and women, and who doesn’t enjoy one or both of those options. The vocal style adds a touch of tang and rough and tumble nostalgia, and while it doesn’t offer some of the more refined parts of a potential vocal style it does add authenticity and a touch of genuity from its punch. All the songs brought me back to a style that reminisces of classic rock and good ole drunk Friday nights. LD
Versus The Ghost - We Don't Belong Here (single review) To say this is a single is a bit skewed as it comes in at 16 minutes and two seconds but that is one of a very few amount of gripes that this song has. It is a very gentle song on the whole with soft piano, lead guitar that is defiantly lead but does not take over the song, very solid drumming though there may be a little too much ride cymbal in the earlier part. This track really does show that subtlety can be a great strength making a song as long as this one Verses the Ghost are now on my radar to dive into further and an early highlight for 2018. ‘We Don’t Belong Here’ is griping, haunting and is well worth 16:02 of your time as it was mine. EJ
Nerak Roth Patterson Band – Self-titled Right from the word go Nerak Roth Patterson Band (NRPD) self-titled album is enticing with their classic rock feel, fuelled with energy and passion. Previously NRPD has toured with the hugely successful Jethro Tull and I could only imagine the band went down a treat live. It’s almost impossible to feel negative listening to this album; they take you back to the summer of 69 with their captivating guitar solos in tracks like ‘What You Feel Inside’ and ‘Back in Love’. Yellow Springs, Ohio rockers are formed of Nerak Sr (guitar and lead vocals) Nerak Jr (bass guitar and background vocals), and Mark Day (drums). Not only are these tracks spot on with Nerak Sr bluesy vocals they are all written, produced and arranged by himself and Nerak Jr. The album features guest Doane Perry on tracks ‘Long Highway’, ‘Ericka Rose’ and ‘Trucking Mans Blue’. Doane Perry is an artist with an extremely impressive history being the drummer for Jethro Tull and has worked alongside some of the greats in music including Pat Benatar and Bette Midler. These guys deserve a lot more recognition for their faultless sound, this album has the ability to increase their popularity – needless to say they have gained a fan out of me. Whether it’s classic, blues or hippie rock you’re into, NRPD have a little something for everyone - definitely worth a listen on a chilled summer’s day! SC
LizZard - SHIFT French ‘Art-rockers’ LizZard return with their fourth album ‘SHIFT’ and it is successfully experimental to say the least. Music is art so despite the dodgy label “Art-rock” it is not to say these guys aren’t creative. Forming in 2006 the trio Katy Elwell (drums), William Knox (bass) and Mathieu Ricou (guitar & vocals) all shared a dream to create unique music. The uniqueness off this album is clear within the first ten seconds of pressing play, as an ambient almost creepy intro lures you in. As a somewhat novice to progressive rock music I can only compare LizZard to popular progressive bands like Tool or A Perfect Circle and after listening to ‘SHIFT’ it is up there with the successors in the genre.
‘SHIFT’ features the brand new single ‘Singularity’ which has a mix of in-your-face heavy riffs nicely balanced with Mathieus’s Deftones-like vocals. Whereas tracks like ‘Gemini’ intrigues you with its fast-paced djent chords opening the track making you anticipate a huge breakdown, unfortunately the end doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Being the first album since 2014, overall I think it was worth the wait for tracks like ‘Singularity’ which is by far the best track on the album but whether the entirety of the album has the ability to make progressive rock have a successful comeback is doubtful. Saying this, I admire LizZard’s integrity – sticking it to the man with their progressive routes. SC
Glassjaw - Material Control After a fifteen year wait since the ledgendary ‘Worship and Tribute’ in 2002. Post-hardcore legends Glassjaw returned with their new album ‘Material Control’, what’s clear is that the band has not lost of any of their magic. Each track telling its own story and with its unique sound, the band have delivered another masterful release. ‘new white extremity’ is a brave bold opener to the record, with its chaotic riffs and unique vocal style of Daryl Palumbo, the singer credited this song as sounding like vintage Glassjaw. ‘shira’ is a dark number, full of mystery – the timing of this song is impeccable, and the calmer vocal style creates a great anthemic feel with a superb chorus, it’s the best song on the album. ‘citizen’ produces a mid-90s sound, with its grungy bass line and elongated lyrics, it’s a shorter track but still delivers a punch to your eardrums. ‘golgotha’ explodes with an incredible series of instrumental skill with a scratchy riff, followed by the ultra-aggressive echoed vocals of Palumbo, if you were a fan of the band’s first record this will certainly please you, the chorus can feel a little repetitive, but the instrumental is the star on this number. ‘strange hours’ is a slower groovy track with a slick bass line and simple vocals, there is also some beautiful usage of guitar feedback creating a stormy atmosphere. ‘bastille day’ acts as an interlude on the record, with a combination of various instruments creating a jungle like beat. ‘pompeii’ is heavily influenced by hardcore punk with the inclusion of George Reynolds from Mind Over Matter. The combination of Reynolds and Palumbo creates cohesive chaos and forms a busy, noisy number. ‘bibleland 6’ is dominated by a heavy bass line and focuses on hypocrisy in the catholic church, this feeling is reflected by Palumbo in the lyric "gold in the womb” where he refers to children becoming an afterthought later in rather than something sacred. ‘Closer’ is a speedy number, Palumbo’s high-pitched effort in the chorus is undeniably catchy. The album comes to a fast close with the final three tracks spanning five minutes, ‘my conscience weighs a ton’ has been described as bening flamenco inspired, the verses are short and punchy, and the drums carry a lot of weight in the track. Title track ‘material control’ is the second interlude and acts as a release of energy, with a funky drum beat with the band ready to attack the final track. The album concludes with ‘cut and run’ where the quartet put all their efforts in and is very commanding with the lyric “cut and run, take what you paid for” - it’s a very commanding record and the band certainly seem to be back. It’s refreshing to hear a style which was so popular in the early 00s, it’s highly encouraging that the groups sound translates well in 2018 and hopefully Glassjaw can continue to influence up and coming hardcore bands in the states. JP
Stable Youth – Turmoil Stable Youth are a five-piece pop punk band from Southampton and have recently released their debut EP ‘Turmoil’ – the first track ‘Splinter’ is very polished with angsty emotional vocals, reminds me a little of Tom DeLonge of Blink-182, I can hear some other pop punk influences, it’s a bold track and a nice introduction to the bands sound. ‘Hard Way’ is a summery number with a super catchy drum beat, my only criticism would be the vocals sound almost American a difficult issue that faces a lot of UK pop punk bands when they are heavily influenced by the genre which was born in the US. Nevertheless, it’s a catchy song with a great hook “It’s hard to put the pieces back in order” the duration of the tracks is also a positive with both tracks delivering a punchy message. The EP closes with ‘If I Leave’ which is a nice track with another good hook and nice song writing in the chorus, the addition of Cameron Reeves vocals surprises you with his edgy energetic vocals. A raw, but promising EP with some good elements, the band have clearly identified a style that can work. It will be interesting to see what the band delivers going forward. JP
Clarity – Self-titled Clarity are a recently formed emo rock band from Newport, South Wales and have released their new self-titled EP, the band have been busy since forming including supporting The Wonder Years on a few of their UK shows, I was very keen to hear this release after an impressive performance in Swansea. The EP kicks off in style with ‘Slip’ an energetic, summery number – it reminds me a lot of The Early November, the vocals are very clean and create a very polished track, it’s a very pleasant opening. ‘Use Your Heart’ is another nicely written number but feels like it needs an ounce more of energy to make it a powerful anthem, the skilful riff is a nice touch and adds more variety to the track. ‘Soft Light’ reignites the EP with a bold opening and faster riff and silky bass line, the raise in tempo provides a much darker style in contrast to the opening tracks on the EP, the vocals are also impressive and added attitude reminds me of early Taking Back Sunday, it’s easily the best track on the EP and will bring a lot of energy to a live stage. This intriguing EP of varying styles concludes with ‘The Skeleton Key’ an incredibly emotional track with a roaring instrumental which beautifully compliments the desperation in the vocals, it’s another fascinating piece of music in a contrasting EP. The emotion and power in some of Clarity’s tracks should certainly attract an audience. JP
Black Emerald - Hell Can't Handle All of Us This album is testing as the musicianship is in the realm of good and comparable to other hard rock bands but what really is hard to get past are the vocals as they are just so grating. The reason for this to me is shown prominently in the otherwise strong second song on the album ‘Life of Anxiety’ it goes from the Lemmy influence to the line repeated in a “growly/harder” style that the vocalist really does struggle to pull off. Musically there is a riff that does remind me of Metallica then to end that segment a few awesome pinch harmonics, which are in my opinion always under used. A pro to this album is that the band do show that they are able to play a number of different styles though it does jump form one style to another a bit too often. There is not a very coherent listening experience going to heavier riffs, vocals to cleaner sounds, it is a bit of a mess at times and feels as if they want to show what they can do instead of what is best for the song. It idamages ‘Hell Can’t Handle All of Us’. With their take on the multiple styles of metal and hard rock Black Emerald are nothing to write home about but the decent playing, and the vocals sounding very similar to the late and great Lemmy may be of interest to any fans of Motrohead! However, there is the case of it sounding too similar to their influences. EJ
The Rocket Dolls - DeadHead There is something very primal about the straight up dirty approach The Rocket Dolls take to the music that they have laid down for ‘DeadHead’. It has a real crunch and all the songs have an explosive part in one way or another. ‘She Said’ has a melodic guitar solo or ‘None of This is Right’ really hammers on the crashing heavy distorted tones. The clean aspects to ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ is a nice break in the album as it quietens down and is backed by nice strings. After a break from that crunchy sound that is present in the first third comes back around in song nine, ‘Strain’, with a very effective and thick riff that is the main motor for pushing the song along. A catchy guitar hook around the 2:40 mark before the second chorus then after that a lighter melody is played to lead back into the hard ending. Vocally they improve as the album goes along. Once you get to ‘DeadHead’ a lead single and the fourth on the album it actually is better than it first seemed. As on ‘None of This is Right’s’ chorus is a bit on the cheesy side and the weakest part of that song. Fortunately as stated Rocket Dolls do not return to this style of vocals. ‘DeadHead’ gets stronger the further you get through it leading to a decent listen with some stand out moments from both heavier and clean elements. EJ
Under a different name in mid 2016, Ryan Brown was the first member to start a new music project. Jordan Williams, who once played in a band with Ryan, shortly joined in on this new music project. After July 2016 they both moved to Sacramento California to look for members that were as serious as they were at pursuing music as a career. While living in Sacramento, they shortly met up with a long time friend, Tyler Kelly, becoming the drummer. They created music as a 3 piece before officially naming themselves “The Last Titan” on February 19th, 2017. Immediately after, Hector Garcia was picked as bass player. The first run of merch was sold out within the month right before the bands first show.They played their first show on July 20th, 2017 with For The Likes of You and Dead Crown on their West Coast Tour. The band started getting recognition from the Music Scene quickly and caught the attention of John Horton. Tyler was good friends with John and was asked to try out for rhythm guitar to find the 5th and final member to complete the band. After a few more shows without John, he finally accepted when they started recording their first Self-Titled E.P ‘The Last Titan’. During the recording process John learned all the songs and even included his own rhythm parts and some leads in the end production. ‘The Last Titan’ was recorded, mixed and mastered by Cody Fuentes of his own recording studio Rapture Recordings. At the end of recording the E.P, due to personal obligations, Tyler amicably parted ways with the band, however as a final contribution, sat in to help film a music video for their first music video for the fan favorite song ‘Serenity’. The E.P was released on December 10th 2017. After the Christmas Holiday a week before their first show of the new year, Matthew Mason joined in as their new drummer. On January 1st 2018 ‘Serenity’ was released on YouTube for the whole world to see. With the first two shows of 2018 out of the way and a third around the corner they restocked with new merch designs that will soon be available early 2018. The future of The Last Titan for 2018 is pushing their writing style and extending their set list. Determined for a West Coast tour at the end of the year as well as a full length Album.
The Dead XIII - Dark Days Manchester Metal outfit The Dead XIII are here with their second album ‘Dark Days’. A high synth sets the scene for the opening number ‘Bloodlines’, from this instant you sort of know where it is going. A big sound is coming, massive metallic blasts, the dramatic elements that have become synonymous with this blend of power extreme metal. Keeping things on a similar with a synth again beginning the song but where they differ there is less clean vocals. Keeping with the traditions of metal albums there is a classical piano break, and in this case it comes in the form of a one minute and twenty second long vigil. It is brief and like every other comparable piece of music these interludes are on so many other familiar bands it is of high quality but could do with being a bit longer as a palette cleanser. Then as a palette cleanser it goes back to the harshness of ‘Angles’ a formula that the band go back to as growling, guttural singing where it can be hard to hear what the words are. In addition the name of this track ‘Angels’ is a contrast against the music/image The Dead XIII has given them, you have seen and heard this before. The Dead XIII and their second album is one large cliché that really does not attempt to do anything different which if that is what the band wants do then it is fine. It is in line with that style they are committed but the album treads the line of just another stereotypical metal album. EJ
The Final Clause of Tacitus - Not Like The Rest A societal outburst leads the way with an opening monologue calling out the connectionless society and the conditioning of the young by the adults in their lives have been conditioning them to keep in line. There is a middle section that is highly repetitive to a point where you would not be mistaken in thinking that it was stuck but fortunately it moves on to a really good outro mainly lead by bouncing guitars (ignore the odd grunts) before again going to the “And just like that I take it back” line for that makes up the highly repetitive section which is a mistake as it takes away from the enjoyment we were having. ‘Bad For Your Health’ plays around with a wahed, fuzzy rhythm guitar and more bopping bass which are the strongest elements to this whole album.
‘Walk on the Moon’ is the last track, and it ends on a strong note. The bass, drum and guitar playing is a lot of fun with a groove from all the instruments but also a groan inducing growl that simply should not be there. Funkadelic rap that makes a statement about the oppression of society to make sure nobody rebels and keeps being a part of the machine. Or how they are against societal norms, or they are the rebels who are helping others realise what is wrong with society is all a faux. \The swearing is not impactful and doesn’t add any weight to what the band are attempting to point out. Outside the funk side that is what this record is, it is not impactful. EJ
We Fall Slowly - My Turn Something like this is hard to review purely from the audio alone as it is meant to go hand in hand with a film produced to be played alongside it. The screenplay is written by author Wouter Bessels and produced by film maker Iris Sijbom. But if it is good enough then it should be able to stand up on its own as it should tell the story that the band want to tell through the music. Whilst the film to play should enhance and elaborate on the story as should the music to the film, it is somewhat a mutually beneficial relationship but ones that are able to stand separately. For this it is best to experience this as an album and sit or lie down put it on and listen to it in one sitting. This is an experimental recording that has a number of parts that have people speaking, audiences clapping. ‘Swoon’ explains the feelings of loneliness a successful woman is having, who is sick of her lifestyle. Then she disappears disconnecting herself from society by leaving her home with very few possessions, turning off her phone and driving away. This is all explained in a voice message recording in Interlude 1. The structure of this release is an interlude that explains a point about the film then a following song that further expresses the main characters actions/feelings/reasoning for being related to the previous interlude.. ‘Sense’ is about the reaction to this character leaving out of the blue and others trying to explain why “They say she’s broken baby” and when people in her life are trying to contact her, her “phone is on mute.” ‘Shift’ begins with the focal character being happy with the new lone life she has run to but part way through the narrator of this story explains that this is not what she wants either and misses ‘making plans’ and ‘contacting her long time friends’ the music is melodic and slow but a mid pace drum steadily plays a long outro with rousing vocals to end it. After the character has gone back home, walked back into town and reintroduced herself reborn the song that fits with this part of the album reflects on what actions the main figure took, seeing things through a new lens and being a different person and the interactions with the other people have changed. Musically after a nice solo rhythm and lead guitar play there is the short but heavy expansive thick guitars, hard hit drums and electronic imitating high note of the lead guitar which really stand out but are all too short. ‘Your Turn’ rounds off the album in a heavy way as those reverbed guitar lines in prior songs are swapped out for all out distortion, palm muting and tough strumming close this experience on a high. To conclude ‘My Turn’ does work on its own without the adapted film to with it. Furthermore the themes explored are relatable for a large majority of people who have to get by in the stressful performance based society. For those who have wanted to leave and go away for awhile this concept is articulated well trough both the interludes and the music played. EJ
Parkside - Whenever You're Ready Now straight off the bat you can hear Parkside's influences. The likes of Blink182, New Found Glory and any other pop-punk masters from the 00s. I've stated in another review that me and pop-punk don't always get along, however I do have exceptions to the matter. As a drummer myself, having a drum solo in the first track definitely ticked a box for me (it almost felt like a bribe designed specifically for myself.) Parkside really have an understanding of their genre and by keeping the tracks short it really allows each part to breath and feel less repetitive, unlike pop-punk bands that I have heard in the past. What they capture well is the emotion behind their music which again is something I feel that pop-punk fails to capture a lot just due to its nature. They aren't scared of using a minor scale to portray betrayal, grief or sorrow which is refreshing. Mix this with chucking in an odd time signature every now and then just keeps the listener interested. Production wise the sound is nigh on perfect so big props to the engineer for that. Everything is blended so nicely, you can really feel a labour of love and many evenings spent on this album. It's an incredible solid album which everyone involved should be really proud of and an album I'd happily pay for to support the band. Nicely done guys. TR
Thobbe Englund - The Draining Of Vergelmer ‘The Draining of Vergelmer’ isn’t breaking any new ground for Thobbe Englund; the album has its stand out moments where his known talents shine particularly brightly and from this album you can see why Sabaton want his talent in their ranks. Thobbe Englund, the guitarist who gained notoriety with Sabaton, has returned with another new album to continue his solo career. ‘The Draining of Vergelmer’, Thobbe’s fifth solo album, is the follow up to his 2016 release ‘Sold My Soul’. This marks a quite impressive feat, four new albums in four years. Once the instrumental opening track finishes, ‘Illuminati’ comes roaring in, with a fast tempo that stays pretty steady throughout. The vocals on this anti-capitalism track are solid, but not noteworthy, much the same as the guitar riff in the middle. For an opening track I would hope for something more memorable, something that gives a taste of what you can expect from the album, but ‘Illuminati’ is a little underwhelming. ‘Fingerspitzengefühl’ is the track that in my view should have opened the album. With its strong vocals, fantastic tempo, and chorus that will definitely get stuck in your head, this is an impressive track all round. It is a song with bite, with meaning and purpose behind every guttural lyric, it has everything that ‘Illuminati’ - with its powerful message that lacked conviction and emotion- didn’t have.
The tracks ‘Vikings’ and ‘Odin’s Hall’ are a mixed bag that certainly won’t be to everyone’s liking. ‘Vikings’ is sung in Thobbe’s native Swedish, and much like Rammstein, even if you only understand one word in a dozen it still sounds really cool. In contrast, ‘Odin’s Hall’ is a near five minute instrumental track where Thobbe shows off his guitar skills to their limit. After about three minutes though, the song starts to feel like it’s purely here for the sake of showing off. Thobbe was in Sabaton for four years, most of the people who will buy his albums already know just how good of a guitarist he is, making this lengthy track feel like nothing more than filler content there to pad out the minute count of the album. We move into its later stages with a welcome change of pace in ‘I Am Viking’. It’s much slower, but this seems to suit Thobbe, whose vocals are at their peak in this track. The pace also works well with the lengthy guitar solo in the middle, and it all comes together to make a song that is both the longest on the album, but is also the standout track! Everything works together perfectly, and Thobbe’s strong vocals and excellent guitar work leave you sad the song ended so soon. ‘Aim and Fire’ is short, sharp, and has a similar sound to’ Fingerspitzengefühl’, sharing its quick pace and high range vocals make a song that while not spectacular, does not leave you wanting. The album closes with ‘The Ghost & The Darkness’, another track that does nothing wrong, but nothing well enough to be noteworthy either. It does end the album on a solid, good song, but it likely isn’t going to become that song you can’t stop listening to for days after you hear it. ‘The Draining of Vergelmer’ isn’t breaking any new ground for Thobbe Englund; the album has its stand out moments where his known talents shine particularly brightly, and it is overall a solid mix of heavy metal, power metal, and some at times truly amazing vocals, but it’s not the peak of Thobbe’s potential. While it is certainly an album worth buying, It’s just another step forward in his still burgeoning solo career. I expect more and greater things from him in the future! ‘The Draining of Vergelmer’ is available across Europe on February 16th. LS
Don Broco - Technology It’s been an odd sort of road for rockers Don Broco of late, while they haven’t completely left the scene their future has been kind of up in the air. With track upon track being released it was only when new album ‘Technology’ was announced that it became obvious that they were still carrying on. However it seems as if this is the make or break album for the masters of groove themselves. It seems as if lead singer Rob went into this album with a motive “Technology is bad.” The titular track was a reaction to him going onto Instagram and unfollowing most of his friends. Stating: “In reality my friends are not vain, self obsessed, PDA loving show offs so I'm blaming social media and the habitual nature of sharing every waking moment of your life online” - this kind of attitude shines through on the lyrics to the fantastic track. Perfect for opening their live shows with. This band have always struck me as the happy go lucky guys, happy to go out and get drunk with friends. I think this image will always stick with Don Broco but they’re also trying to illicit change. Songs such as ‘Stay Ignorant’, ‘Porkies’ and ‘Something to Drink’ are riddled with undertones of world affairs and politics. While the funky bass-lines and dancy beats are still prominent, it’s clear these guys have something to say about the wider picture. It’s nice to see that they can still have fun with their music, the introduction of ‘Come Out to LA’ is with such a forced accent that it borders on ridiculous. I thought it was a new direction they were heading in until the massive drop happened and I realised they’re messing with us. Phew. The resulting track is a metal infused derby that pinpoints the main issues with the facade of Hollywood. It appears they’re really trying to out the fakers as it were with this album, as it’s the same context with single ‘Pretty’. This track being about the beautiful women you see at bars who turn out to be in Rob’s words: “The biggest piece of shit in the world.” A very dark brooding builds this track incredibly well and the lyrics of “Can’t believe these foreigners we should send them away” are so poignant and on point. It definitely creates one of the best tracks on the record. Lead single ‘Everybody’ was obviously going to be a talking point. Seen through the cowboy parody video, that was some weird stuff. The song actually encapsulates a time when the world was about to lose Don Broco. “Band morale was at an all time low and we couldn’t practice without basically breaking down.” Rob said. With that in mind looking back at the lyrics now I see that this is not a song that is as funky and happy as once thought. This was the moment that Don Broco were going to make it or break it and document when they nearly lost it all. “We were driving super-late to a festival and we almost died just from crashing the van just from being in a place, emotionally, where we shouldn’t have been on the road” Rob said. Thankfully from that near miss we were given ‘Everybody’ and the rest of ‘Technology’. I’ve always been impressed with how this band can mix up their genres, one minute they’ve got a sexy little rhythm that makes you shake your hips and the next they’ve got a wall of death heading your way. ‘Good Listener’ sounds like a Japanese fused pop rock and is about the depressing realisation that ‘Technology’ around us can probably hear everything we say. It is an amazingly fun track and definitely one of the best on the album. ‘Greatness’ as another example of their sound being totally ranged, sounds like it could be a Michael Jackson song. The high pitched “ooh’s” in the background and the equally brilliant guitar work accompanying make it the perfect setting for the subject matter. About the bands that throw out the same sounding song over and over. Rob stated: “People seem quite happy with mediocrity these days. There’s a lot of great music, but there’s so much shit out there - song after song that sound the same.” I’ve always been surprised when people say that Don Broco suit the rock/alternative genre. I’ve always found that they’re closer to pop rock rather than that. They’ve always struck me as wanting to stay on the cusp of their genre and fuse in and out of it rather than own it. Their brand of mix it up attitude has got them this far and ‘Technology’ seems to be their crowning glory. RO
Drones - Exiled At long last a female fronted punk band have come along that actually act and sound like a punk band. Straight from the first songs ‘For Those Who Care’ and ‘Inferno’ it’s clear that this band are more concerned with what’s going on within the world (burning down the jungles) rather than getting drunk or how many twitter followers they have. Single ‘Rorscach’ is about the “first world problems” that everyone seems to exhibit. A full on punch in the face to anyone who complains about the unhappy lives they lead when there is so much suffering in the world. Lead singer Lois McDougall said about it “We have freedoms that others spend their lives fighting for, and it's all too easy to forget that we live in a relatively protected and safe environment” I found myself falling more in love with this band as I continued listening to this album, their tenacity and passion was so resonant and it didn’t feel forced or exaggerated. They have the style of a female fronted Rise Against. The pissed off anarchist feel behind the music is portrayed so well. This is punk at its finest. “Why do we vote when everything stays the same” boasts McDougall on Territories. A catchy toe tapping, head banging, amazing anthem that will definitely cause a few pits at their live shows. The song climaxes with a rant about how bad the world is and it’s just enough to leave the listener thinking. ‘Anchors’ begins with an almost Shikari-esque lecture about how people should be able to get along with each other before the awesome guitar work kicks in with a heartfelt “HEY!” followed by a kick ass song that anyone would be jealous of. Acoustic songs are like a trademark of punk bands these days, like ‘Hero of War’ before it ‘Black Blood’ has the potential to take over small crowds and create an amazing sing song moment. The beautiful guitar work followed by the more clean vocals from the lead vocalist it provides a break from the craziness of this album. It’s welcome and it shows that this isn’t all about shouting as loud as you can about what you’re angry about. This is a song of passion and truth. After another rollercoaster of awesome tracks with ‘Covert Anarchy’ and ‘Meglomaniac’ we’re treated to ‘Tender’, a track that begins as a tender homage to metal bands before becoming a monster of a track that punches you in the face and demands you give it attention. Vocals from McDougall are once again dominant and show what she’s capable of. One thing I have noticed about this album is that at times the vocals can be drowned out by the instruments, however this merely adds to the DIY punk concept they’re clearly going for. If it were perfect all the way through it wouldn’t feel as big. Ending with the insane ‘Born and Erased’, this concoction of non stop drums combined with the amazing riffs make this the perfect track to end this incredible album. Drones are a band that care about the little guy, they’re happy to stand up and say “This isn’t okay” only that would be too mellow and polite for them. They’d much rather get in your face and shout “Wake up!” while their blend of punk craziness shakes your very foundations. RO
The Bad Somethings - Along For The Ride (single review) When you are already bobbing your head within the first bar of the track you know you're onto a winner. The Bad Somethings really capture that classic 80s rock sound. ‘Along For The Ride’ sounds like it's come straight from a ZZ-Top album and that is in no way a bad thing whatsoever. It just oozes coolness. The intro riff is very reminiscent of Reef and really gets you in the mood for them old classics. It grooves, it funks and is just generally very catchy! Once you hit the pre-chorus it sounds like Phill Collins has dropped into the room with his rig and has gone "Gents, I have an idea." Records a few bars and disappears back off into the night. Just when you think it can't get anymore more nostalgic, the drummer dusts off his cowbell. Mix that in with a wah pedal and you're in for a winning solo. It’s been produced perfectly for the sound The Bad Somethings require and really feels like you've found an old long lost record. TR
Stone Sour - Samsung Hall, Zurich - 14/12/18 Thanks to Goodnews I got to witness Stone Sour for the very first time on Thursday night and I was quite excited since I didn't know what to expect. Stone Sour brought a very special guest with them The Pretty Reckless. I was super intrigued to see them live also for the first time. Those of you who watched Gossip Girl then this might be very interesting for you. Remember Dan's little Sister Jenny? Yup, that's Taylor Momsen who is rocking out on stage! At 9.15 Stone Sour took the stage and played ‘Taipei Person/Allah Tea’. They lit up the Samsung Hall with golden Fireworks and an amazing light show. Stone Sour started like other bands finish! In the middle of the song Corey Taylor brought out a huge confetti gun and fired three times into the audience. The party started so he shouted: “Are you ready Motherf***ers?!” A low grunt was the response to that since 80% of the crowd were men. Which I got to say was quite refreshing especially down in the restrooms. Finally us women could just walk in while the queue for the men's toilet was huge! During ‘Knievel has Landed’ Corey Taylor showed his incredible talent for head banging or probably more spinning! I seriously cannot believe how fast he can turn his head around.Corey Taylor had the audience in his pocket from the minute he walked onto the stage. He asked us now: "Who here has seen us before?" A few people put their hands up and screamed. So he answered "Thank you for coming back and always supporting us. So who is seeing us for the first time?" Lots of hands went up including mine! "Thank you for coming out to see us. Let's play some older songs." ‘Made of Scars’ and ‘Reborn’ from their first album ‘Come What(ever) May’ made a lot of fans happy. They moved onto the next album ‘Audio Secrecy’ and played ‘Say You'll Haunt me’, ‘30/30-150’’ and ‘Hesitate’.
Josh's guitars changed for every song and all of them looked very special. They were neon yellow, neon pink with black dots or a deep red wine red. The drums played by Roy Mayorga were also very special since it had two bass drums and on it two eyes staring directly at you. I really loved that! Unfortunately I didn't see much of the other two members of the band Christian Martucci and Johny Chow since I had someone tall standing in front of me. On it went with the album ‘House of Gold & Bones, Part 1’ and ‘Tired’. Corey decided it was time to dance! Stone Sour played their longest title of the new reccord ‘Hydrograd’ and one of my favourites of the night ‘Rose Red Violent Blue (This song is dumb & So am I)’. ‘Do Me a Favour’ from the record ‘House of Gold & Bones, Part 2’ was next and it got really heavy now with ‘Cold Reader’ and ‘Get Inside’ from their self-titled album. Lots of devil signs went up! My absolute favourite song ‘Song #3’ came on. It is a classy rock song and it's probably too soft for some but I really really love it. Unfortunately it was already time for them to leave the stage only to come back a few mins later to play ‘Gone Sovereign’. I really liked that song because it has a cool beat and people even started clapping their hands until it went into the heavy s**t again. ‘Absolute Zero’ started. Corey split the audience in four parts: Back, front, right and left side. Like a conductor he let us sing ‘Eh Eh Eh’ and pointed his finger at the different parts of the audience. ‘Fabuless’ made a perfect finish to a very different (for me) but amazing gig. Believe me next time Stone Sour is coming to Switzerland I will be back! Until then I guess I have to train my neck for all that head banging! Nina Vuckovic
Paramore - Genting Arena, Birmingham - 14/01/18 Paramore have shown a reinvention of themselves over the last year with the release of their 5th studio album 'After Laughter'. Coming back to the UK on Tour Three, we went to check out how Paramore are living up to their new style. For the supports, Mewithoutyou, the lasting impression they should have left sadly lacked. It appeared that for most of the set the drummer had more stage presence than the rest of the band themselves. While lead vocalist Aaron Weiss had some energy during some aspects of their set, the overall lack of energy and stage presence from the majority of the band sadly did bring their set down. As expected, Paramore shot the start of their show through the roof with their hit single 'Hard Times', interestingly creating a crossover of Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass' at the same time showing their impeccable ability to bring something new to their songs at any given time. Even pre-’After Laughter’ tracks were given a little revamp with ‘Ignorance' being sung partially through a black and white striped megaphone which actually made the song sound more authentic than originally. Of course, one thing is clear through the newly inspired Paramore, they certainly love 'After Laughter' and rightly they should. Even mellower tracks such as 'Forgivness' and 'Fake Happy' were filled with a sense of ecstatic happiness, a sign they truly enjoyed their performance. Little surprises such as the live debut of 'Pool', singing older songs to other band members in 'Hate To See Your Heart Break' and a very cute dance from Hayley and drummer Zac Farro to Halfnoise's (Zac Farro) 'French Class'. Another impressive factor of the show wasn't just the groovy style of older hits such as 'Ain't It Fun' and 'Grow Up', but also the stylistic approach to the visual aspects of the show. While some may see the band as having a more basic setup, their colourful lighting rig and big side screens helped amplify the resonating colourful vibe the band brought. Interestingly, through the newer tracks such as 'Caught In The Middle', the live filmed screens took an 80s stylistic twist with colourful effects and filters to add a subtle stylistic choice to their show. Yet not only have the band grown musically, but mentally over the years. While their new album 'After Laughter' shows a musical transformation, before the bands most popular track 'Misery Business', front woman Hayley Williams gave an apologetic notion, explaining that they aren't the same band they were in 2007. Despite their less than positive attitude to the track, the band took full advantage of its popularity, picking two fans to join them onstage to help finish the angst filled belter. Even so, it seems that there are things in Paramore shows that do go unplanned. Be it Mewithoutyou's vocalist Aaron giving a rather random massage to Taylor York in ‘No Friend’ to Hayley falling over Taylor during 'Misery Business', leading Taylor to go on an energetic fuelled frenzy around the stage after losing his place in the track. Paramore may have grown up over the years, but the same energetic stance in their music still shines through, if not even further at this point. Caitlin - Euphoria Of Breakdown
Skinny Lister - SWX Bristol - 09/12/18 The last time they played here, it was in the Fleece, and since the exceptional response to their latest album 'The Devil The Heart & the Fight' then it was no surprise that they were taking on a much bigger venue tonight. As they launch through the set it was instantly clear to see just how well their latest album was doing in the live front. 'Beat It From The Chest', 'Geordie Lad', 'Tragedy in A Minor' and the emotional fueled 'Devil in Me' all had the the crowd launching every single word right back at them. However, my personal favourite from this album has to be 'Hamburg Drunk', as it is just a speedy song, that is simply unacceptable to not at least tap your feet too! Other highlights of the night include 'Trouble on Oxford Street', 'Rollin' Over' which are the foundations to the impressive career this band more than deserve. Skinny Lister are the ideal band to have a Christmas song, so it was awesome to witness 'Christmas Calls' with members of the other bands performing alongside them, and we hope that the song picks up traction over the years to come! Crowd interaction is kept at an all time high throughout the set, a prime example of this being when Lorna occasionally takes to the crowd to sing with every person she can (not forgetting the start of the show where she passed around a flagon of drink to the audience to have!). The band do everything they can to make sure that their shows are about community/interaction, instead of being detached, and that is always want I want to see at a show. It's clear that ‘The Devil The Heart & the Fight' has been a massive turning point for Skinny Lister, and I can’t wait to see what comes next! (also, my apologies to Beans on Toast! I managed to miss your act performing as we went to the wrong gig earlier on in the night on the other side of town, I'm sure it was fantastic though!).
Attack I remember my friend introducing me to an “awesome new band” that had come out years ago. It was the glorious days of no full time job, no responsibilities, just sitting in a common room thinking about the drunken weekend ahead and then I heard ‘Attack’ by the now world famous 30 Seconds to Mars. Instantly I was hooked, the initial synth moment at the beginning of the track reminded me of a retro game but there was no time for nostalgia with this runaway train. The song had kicked in and the vocals of Jared Leto were booming, having spent most of my time listening to Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco and the rest of the Decadance family I was bowled over. I found that it was not too heavy to make you go “ooh no thank you” but heavy enough to happily lose yourself to. The clean vocals were harmonious and complimented the speed of the song which felt like a feet on its own. This was a track that just had no stop button and was going at 110% all the time, the drums accompanied the synth and guitar amazingly and Leto’s voice didn’t let up once. This was a frontman who seemingly could do it all and that was just after one track! RO
This Is War Obviously the fact that Jared Leto is a world famous actor would come into his music eventually. Angel Face in Fight Club, the brilliant protagonist in the VERY DEPRESSING Requium For A Dream and of course the man who gets his head caved in with an axe in one of my favourite films American Pyscho. His career started in film so why wouldn’t it reach into his music, the man’s a rockstar he can do what he wants. ‘This is War’ got a lot more attention for the video than the actual song unfortunately, it was all about how the conflicts of battle can affect everyone and a lot of pretentious know it all people were quick to tell me this. This was highlighted so beautifully in the words behind the vocals and the instruments. ‘A warning to the people. The good and the evil. This is War’ such poignant and yet simple words. No one on either side in war believes they are the “evil” ones, this really got me thinking a lot about how people are perceived and why people fight for their rights. I found this a much more powerful undertone than the dramatic flair of the chorus. “We will fight to the death” although again Leto’s vocals are a massive appeal and they are sung with such ferocity it just felt as if the counterpart of the verse were a bigger tool of communication in terms of ‘This Is War’. RO
Was It A Dream ‘Was it a Dream’ is definitively a song that off the beaten path from most of their hard and aggressive tracks on ‘A Beautiful Lie’. A very soft and melodic song, Jared Leto’s voice once again in this track speaks volumes to the sort of talent and writing he has as an artist. There is also a nice emotional build from versus to choruses that make this song worth a listen. A haunting and heartbreaking song to listen to, it’s a song that doesn't really get that much credit on this album as much as it should. SA
The Kill As one of Thirty Second to Mars’ top streamed songs on Spotify (for a good reason), ‘The Kill’ exhibits only the tip of the iceberg on the talents of this act. With a swelling chorus, and triumphant anthem-like crescendo to the track, this track quickly became one of my favorites upon hearing it-- even several years after the release in 2005 off of ‘A Beautiful Lie’. This is a testament to 30 Seconds to Mars’ longstanding success. LD
Beautiful Lie It’s difficult to pick a favourite track from ‘A Beautiful Lie’ as it’s an album that made 30 Seconds to Mars stand out from all of the other bands at an age of so many alternative rock bands. I have chosen the track ‘Beautiful Lie’ as it was the first song that made me fall in love with the band with its focus on the struggles of humanity. Opening the track with the lyrics “Lie awake at night and think about your life, do you want to be different?” made every listeners mind explode. Asides from the track being a perfect mix of atmospheric tones and hard-hitting lyrics, the music video reveals the true devastating effects of Global Warming while the band casually perform on an iceberg. I mean how many bands pull off looking that cool and donate every video download to charity? SC
As I left the cinema carrying my empty cup and chocolate wrappers (no need to leave them behind, don’t be a dick) I was left happy, content and more than anything satisfied. I like many others had rushed to their social media pages when the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dropped. ‘Why is it a videogame?’ I and many other people cried out in horror. Well this was answered in the first 5 minutes and I was satisfied with the answer, what followed after was a thrillride of action, adventure and so many laughs. Let’s face It the original Jumanji is a gem, it’s embedded in the hearts of all 90’s kids and it still lives up to it’s greatness every time it’s replayed at Easter, Christmas, New Year and all over summer. What sets this one apart from the others is all the characters/players get sucked in and have to survive in the hazardous perils of the infamous jungle. This actually happens quite quickly so there isn’t as much filler as I expected. Of course we’re introduced to the main characters who are designed to annoy the shit out of you on first glance. It’s the typical roster of high schoolers, main man nerd Spencer, jock idiot Fridge, nerdy introvert Martha and of course the preppy always on her phone barbie look alike Bethany. Through various vices they’re all forced into manual labour as a means of punishment in detention – someone needs to look into the justice system in this school, it’s a bit messed up. This is where they plug in Jumanji (I know, it hurts, stick with me) and enter the game. The characters are all assembled and have become the famous faces we all know and love. Spencer has turned into a hulking bulk of muscle as Dwayne Johnson. Fridge has turned into mini man Kevin Hart who’s main weakness is strength, much to his annoyance. Martha has turned into Karen Gillan and Bethany has turned into Jack Black. Recently Black’s movie appearances have been lack luster but who would have ever thought that he could play the role of a teenage girl so well.
The movie has that annoying undertone of ‘what’s inside that counts’ but not from the beginning. It’s an amazing moment when the girls are swooning over Spencer but really he’s just turned away from them and is making sure he doesn’t cry in front of them all. Having gone from the big Jock to little Kevin Hart Fridge is not feeling the love as he battles his way through the jungle. He finds himself alienating his group and actually at one point killing one of his team. Oh no! Luckily they have 3 lives in which to survive with, oh video game rules. The aim of the movie is simplistic enough for a child to follow and it doesn’t feel as if an adult is being pandered to. Return the gem to a certain part of Jumanji and you win. Of course on their tail the whole time is the sick and evil Van Pelt played by Bobby Cannavale who’s creepiness exceeded even my expectations. The film in whole is actually awesome, the action sequences are next level including stampedes, fist fights, gun fights and motorbike chases. Each character growing in personality isn’t a shocking or quick process and it brings the film together in a fantastic fashion. The absolute best thing about this film however is Jack Black as Bethany. Everything that comes out of his mouth is hilarious, he encapsulates the idea of a teenage girl so well that it’s scary. Even a point where she’s flirting with a guy and is totally oblivious to the fact that she’s a middle aged heavy man. The ending itself could have probably had more of a sinister tone to it, perhaps a hint of ‘they’re not gonna make it’ especially with the whole 3 lives thing, someone could have died and perhaps maybe been given an extra life or something. I don’t know. There’s always going to be issues with films. Curiosity alone has fuelled the success of this reboot, the idea of big Hollywood stars getting involved knowing full well it could make or break them meant that it must be good. This film has taught me that some things are okay to have sequels or reboots or whatever you want to call them. However there are still the exceptions like Indiana Jones but that’s for a different rant.
People these days--especially American people--seem to thrive on conspiracy theories. Whether or not jet fuel can melt steel beams, or regardless of who was on the Grassy Knoll all those years ago, the fact remains: we're addicted to these odd horror-story renditions of tragedies and events that are becoming all too common; and much in the same way, heavy music enthusiasts will without a doubt find themselves hook on the melodic--yet murderously aggressive--music from Odessa-based melodic death metal-turned-deathcore outfit Crafting the Conspiracy. Combining harmonized, melodic riffs that ebb and flow into furious grooves and segments of spine-shredding speed, Crafting the Conspiracy are a crushing act that provide the listener with a comprehensive combination of metallic influences with traces of hardcore and deathcore to provide flair--allowing them to shine brightly in a time where many claim that melodic death metal's flame is fading fast. Founded in early 2014, Crafting the Conspiracy is the product of five like-minded musicians on a quest to provide masterful, mindful metal. While the band's first year was relatively silent, it was not without much work being done behind the scenes. The band quickly worked on writing enough material to develop a full, fun live set--which they then took to the road, playing several shows serving as regional support for some of heavy music's biggest names. 2015 saw them opening for Thy Art is Murder, Soulfly, Within the Ruins and many more--while also playing occasional headline shows, building their resume as a local powerhouse. As 2015 began to draw to a close, the act released their breakout EP ‘Human Error’. A collection of spine-shrinking death metal anthems with moments of serene melody and over-the-too aggression both, ‘Human Error’ saw the band's incredibly hard work and DIY ethic pay off, spreading their name throughout the heavy music community world-wide. With an acclaimed release under their belts and a bright new year ahead of them--one that sees them opening for downtempo deathcore giants Traitors and the equally mammoth Enterprise Earth--it's up to pure speculation to see where the future takes these Texan Titans of melodic death metal.
Published on Jan 30, 2018
Published on Jan 30, 2018
Features interviews from the following: Machine Head, Don Broco, Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, Brian Fallon, Escape The Fate, Killing Jo...