upsetmagazine.com Editor: Stephen Ackroyd (email@example.com) Deputy Editor: Victoria Sinden (firstname.lastname@example.org) Associate Editor: Ali Shutler (email@example.com) Writers: Alex Bradley, Danny Randon, Jake Richardson, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jessica Goodman, Martyn Young, Rob Mair, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Photographers: Mac Praed, Phil Smithies, Ryan Johnston, Sarah Louise Bennett Cover Photo: Mac Praed All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Upset or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally. P U B L I S H E D F RO M
THE BUNKER W E LCO M E TOT H E B U N K E R.CO M
IN THIS ISSUE... RIOT!
6 D OW N LOA D 2017
42 T H E G OS P E L YO U T H
14 T H E XC E RTS
52 M A N C H EST E R
16 C RE E P E R
O RC H EST R A
17 CAS E ST U DY
54 S H E E R M AG
18 WA X A H ATC H E E
56 FA N G C LU B
19 RO C K DJ 20 B EST E X
22 P L AY L I ST
60 T H E G OS P E L YO U T H 61 S I LV E RST E I N
ABOUT TO BREAK
62 G O L D F I N G E R
24 EST RO N S
63 US & US O N LY
26 DAS H E R
64 M I L K T E ET H
28 P I L LOW Q U E E N S
65 L I N K I N PA RK
EDITOR’S NOTE Truth is, the UK rock scene has been throwing up great bands for years now. From Creeper to Milk Teeth to Boston Manor, they’ve got to their debut album and smashed it out of the park. You can add The Gospel Youth to that pack now. Their first fulllength ‘Always Lose’ is - spoiler alert - a five star instant classic, which is why we’ve taken them straight to the cover. And to think they once complained we weren’t covering them much. We remember lads. We always remember. x
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
D A O L DOWN
MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY
espite everything Biffy Clyro have achieved, they’re still the underdogs tonight as they headline the main stage of Download. There are whispering doubts about their ability to pull it off and the opening moments of ‘Wolves of Winter’ feel apprehensive, despite the pointed finger cry of “We have achieved so much more than you possibly thought we could” and the tongue in cheek spell-check of brilliance. Taking their own words to heart, from the stuttering cinema of ‘Living Is A Problem’, Biffy Clyro are simply magnificent. We’ve seen the band on the biggest of stages but fuelled by a need to prove themselves once more, they find a higher gear.
NGERS AS FUCK BA NDS, HEAVY BRILLIANT BA HERE NEAR YW AN T ULLY, NO OAD AND, THANKF - IT’S DOWNL IN AS IN 2016 E E’R W S AS MUCH RA GE W PA THE NEXT FE 2017. OVER EVERYTHING U THROUGH YO N RU A GONN . AR YE IS DOWN TH THAT WENT ON. DANNY RAND I SHUTLER, UISE WORDS: AL , SARAH LO ON ST HN AN JO PHOTOS: RY BENNETT.
Everything Biffy have done, has been done their own way. Weird, wacky and unashamedly bizarre, even in their most poignant moments, there’s a quirk to the way they dance forward. As the hammering intro of ‘Who’s Got A Match?’ rings out, Simon Neil staggers down the catwalk, playful and over the top. Later on he stands tall over everything and name-checks the likes of AC/DC and Black Sabbath. He sings a bit of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ that accidentally leads to something more. “That’s the biggest singalong we’ll get tonight,” he laughs. There’s a ceremony that comes with tonight’s set but the band never let it get in the way of their twisted grins and wicked desire for a good time. Leaning more towards the heavier end of things, ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake’ gets a rare airing alongside the more modern rampage of ‘That Golden Rule’, ‘Animal Style’ and ‘Stingin’ Belle’. Biffy have never bowed to anyone’s weight though and they’re not going to start tonight. The ghostly threat of ‘9/15ths’ sits alongside the agile ‘In The Name Of The Wee Man’ and the acoustic, heartfelt powerhouse of ‘Many Of Horror’. Tonight wasn’t about proving anyone wrong. It was about proving those who believed in the biff, right. There are streamers at the start and fireworks upon fireworks at the end. This was always a celebration of the road less travelled. Biffy Clyro have always done things their own wonderfully weird way and tonight is no different. P
If you’re still sneering at claims that grime is the new punk, then look no further than Astroid Boys. During their set on the Avalanche Stage, the Cardiff crew dish out fun and fury in equal measures: the antiracist tirade of ‘Foreigners’ feels all the more vital in the current climate, before MC Traxx leaps into the crowd for the party-starting ‘Giggs’. “It’s the year of the dragon”, as the lethal partnership of Traxx and Benji Wild so boldly declare in the knock-out closer ‘Dusted’, and their time at Donington feels like the culmination of what feels like years of hype-building. Generation Grime has finally landed at Download, and Astroid Boys couldn’t be closer to home here.
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When a series of low-end pulses ripple through the crowd, it feels like Northlane are about to blast a huge crater in front of the main stage before the day’s even begun. Ordained to represent their futuristic metal scene on the grandest of platforms, the Australian quintet are both punctual and punchy, with frontman Marcus Bridge’s charisma and intrigue shining through the intensely calculated space-age hooks.
Bridge reaches his thunderous peak on the more subdued ‘Solar’ before bouncing the crowd skyward with the groove-laden ‘Dispossession’. Northlane should rightfully chalk up this “absolute honour” of opening Download’s Main Stage as a triumph, and it feels like it won’t be the band’s only victory this year. As little as five years ago, The Devil Wears Prada felt like a bomb-blast amongst countless metalcore bands, but as they trudge through their set on the Avalanche Stage, they feel like a fashion that’s fading fast. Frontman Mike Hranica’s recent ill health leaves him struggling between blasts of icy screaming, while each barrage of double-kick drum and crunching guitar that comes from the Ohio six-piece – and believe us, there were a lot – felt unfairly one-dimensional and borderline unidentifiable. It would not be totally inconceivable to think that TDWP could still walk the walk after the pummelling closer of ‘To The Key of Evergreen’ ends their set on a high, but it may be that this outfit needs to, in the wise words of RuPaul,
‘sashay away’ for a while to recover. The atmosphere that thickens the air under the Avalanche Stage tent is almost as tense as the aural onslaught that comes from Code Orange. Unpredictable from the minute that WWE wrestler Aleister Black introduces them onstage, the Pennsylvanian quintet’s entrance is as spine-chilling as that of The Undertaker’s. They set the bar sky-high with the crushing ‘Forever’, but somehow they continue to leap over the benchmark as their set progresses from the stomp of ‘My World’ to the anthemic ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, and all of Eric Balderose’s
SYSTEM OF A DOWN MAIN STAGE, FRIDAY
It’s been six years since System of a Down last headlined Download and not much has changed. They’ve got the same back catalogue to draw from, and the whispers around new music haven’t got any louder. But they’re still a whirlwind force to experience. Each and every one of the thirty songs the band play feels vital. There are slow builds, atmospheric climbs and wicked grins that make the big moments even bigger. There’s nothing overblown and no grandiose show-boating. They don’t need it. It’s a set of the greatest as System lean between big political statements and big ridiculous fun. They’re the same movements the band has always made, but they’ve lost none of their shock or awe. Most bands shine under change, but for System, it’s their sure-footed stance that seems them glitter.
W E W N EW E NE T H EN T HE TH G N G P NG E PIIIN E S EP EE S SLLLE S N S E N S IIIR E N S R E H S R T I H S T W I H T W I W S S M U M IIIS B A UM BU A ALLLB Y E Y T ELLLY E TE ET P M PLLLE O “““C MP C OM CO D E D””” H ED S HE FFFIIIN N SH NIIIS SLEEPING WITH SIRENS AVALANCHE STAGE, FRIDAY
Sleeping With Sirens’ promotion to headline status has been a long time coming. The star potential in Floridian post-hardcore darlings shines blindingly bright as soon as they kick off their bill-topping show on the Avalanche Stage with the intensely melodic ‘If You Can’t Hang’. There’s no doubt that Kellin Quinn has burrowed his way to the centres of millions of hearts with his honey-smooth voice. His pipes are shipshape and shinier than ever, even if they’re sometimes misplaced (beatboxing over ‘Roger Rabbit’ isn’t really needed). It’s a small chink in their armour though. ‘If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn’ justifies Sleeping With Sirens’ place here alone, while a warming cover of Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris’ attracts what could stake a claim to the Award for Biggest Singalong of The Weekend. Should they inject the same amount of spirit in future appearances at Download, the greatest of things await Sleeping With Sirens…
unsettling electronic interludes in between. In what feels like something between a blistering hardcore set and an obscure performance art piece, Code Orange are nothing short of spectacular as they live up and exceed their title of most anticipated band of the weekend.
he new Sleeping With Sirens album is “completely finished.” We’ll give you a minute to take that in. “There’s always the typical feeling of, ‘this is the best body of work we’ve ever done’,” starts Nick Martin but “I’m not going to serve that stupid fucking answer.” This time around, the band are letting things be. “What I’ve been wanting to focus on with this record is not to hype it.” Spending time away from the road for most of 2017, the band have spent the past few months finishing up their fifth album and now it’s just a case of getting back into the routine of playing shows and travelling again. ”It feels good to be into this right now,” adds Nick, backstage at Download Festival. “There’s always a back and forth. ‘I can’t wait to be back in the studio and writing’ and then a few months into that, ‘fuck, I just want to get back to touring.’ It’s one of the worst feelings knowing it’s all done and wanting to just present it to the world but we’ve got to sit on it,” he continues before Kellin Quinn grins. “It’s probably better we rehearse it first.” Without Hype, Kellin just wanted this record to “focus on the songs”. Inspired by “going through the
Shortly before State Champs hit the Avalanche Stage, an unusually-summery Download Festival becomes shrouded by overcast skies. Whether it has something to do with the New York pop-punks stealing the sunshine and blasting it out of their amps remains a mystery…
growing pains of my thirties,” it explores, “Not being a kid anymore and accepting the fact I’m an adult. I’ve got to be an adult.” There’s been some anxiety that came alongside it and Kellin is, “Just trying to come into my own as a thirty-one-year-old man. I’m not a little child anymore. There are so many bands that keep trying to cater to that younger fan forever. For me, music has always been about evolving, growing up and wanting to be where my heroes are. That’s what this record is for me.” With September currently pencilled in as a possible release date, new music is coming, “soonish. That makes me nervous,” starts Nick before Kellin interrupts. “I’m not. We’re just excited to mature and be who we are now. That’s the most exciting thing. It’s scary to put out new music and to go somewhere different to where we’ve gone before but it’s exciting at the same time. We can finally be who we want to be.” There are always plans to hit the road hard in support of s new record but with this one, “I want to tour our asses off until we can’t fucking walk anymore. I just want to go hard or not do it at all. We’re happy about it and that’s all I want to say about it. It’s perfect for the time we are in our lives, and we’re just excited to put it out.”
“We have 40 minutes of your time, and I don’t wanna waste any of it,” says fresh-faced Derek DiScanio to a crowd of newcomers and devotees in equal measure. The likes of ‘All You Are Is History’ and ‘Elevated’ hit like an instant sugar rush: sharp and saccharine but still packing a hearty throwback to the glory
MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY Since the release of ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, Creeper have been allowed to exist in their own glorious world. They’ve invited people in at every turn. Today though, they’ve got to live in someone else’s. There are a lot of ideas the band draw from that sit perfectly on the Main Stage, but they’re cut with plenty of the strange, the unusual and the bizarre. Rather than limit them though, it’s this cocktail that sees them transfix. Creeper are a band with plenty of ideas. Each one is given an outing during their biggest challenge yet, from the punk bounce of ‘VCR’ to the swing of ‘Black Mass’, but as we’ve come to expect they embrace it, amplify it and make it their own.
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Creeper continue to do exactly what they want without compromise or fear. They’re all made-up, and they’ve got everywhere to go.
days of Drive-Thru Records. Derek and co’s inoffensive and almost irritating catchiness proves divisive with the Download crowd, but if nothing else, State Champs score high for bringing good-time festival vibes by the trophy-load. “It’s not raining today, so everybody’s in a fucking good mood!” yells Joel Madden. It’s probably more to do with the fact that Good Charlotte air tracks almost exclusively from their seminal
debut, ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ in their long-awaited debut at Download Festival. Kicking off with ‘The Anthem’ before diving early into ‘The Story of My Old Man’, ‘Riot Girl’ and ‘Girls & Boys’, the Maryland quintet sets the tone for a glorious retrospective. The inevitable plug of their latest record ‘Youth Authority’ could not fall off a cliff with harsher velocity, and The Brothers Madden flesh out proceedings far too often with their stage patter. Good Charlotte are hardly spring chickens, and an occasionally sketchy over-indulgence can be forgiven as they send everyone back to the beach trips and BBQs of 2002. When they, as the old saying goes, shut up and play the hits, Good Charlotte are practically unstoppable. Before they’ve even finished their set opener ‘The Hell Song’, Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley is pulling crowd members onstage to enjoy an experience that some have waited years for. As they headline the Zippo Encore Stage, the Canadian veterans set their stall out early with bombastic bursts of big, dumb pop-punk fun. A triple treat of covers of ‘The Trooper’, ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ kicks up a storm in the crowd, while cuts from their latest record ’13 Voices’ stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the classics. ‘Still Waiting’ sounds beefed-up but
still scrappy, and needless to say, the twin attack of ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ closes the show victoriously. For a man who just three years ago was knocking on death’s door, Whibley is on frantic form as he declares that “the time is here, the time is now” for his grand comeback. Every bit as vibrant and voracious as they were when they first became a band 21 years ago, Sum 41 are a band in the midst of the most sensational of rebirths. There’s still no filler here.
Taking to the stage at Download before midday is no small feat, but Greywind don’t half give it some welly in facing the challenge head-on. The Irish duo’s dark and impassioned alternative rock is taken to skyscraper heights thanks to Steph O’Sullivan’s call-to-arms voice, which you could probably hear from the campsite farthest away. A hint of the showstopping performance that’s unfolding.
When Steph pairs up with guitarist Paul’s melodies on the soaring likes of ‘Forest Ablaze’ and ‘Safe Haven’, the stage can barely contain them. Abrasive and beautiful, the band are demanding in their want. Bigger platforms stand before them and based on this; it’ll be an easy step up. Bounding onto the Avalanche Stage with all the enthusiasm you would expect from a band in their infancy; Trash Boat are a constant source of stomping, spinkicking energy. With singer Tobi Duncan upping his aggression in the live arena, the St Albans five-piece’s leaning on the latter half of pop-punk is a hearty gust of fresh air. They tear through ‘Eleven’ at an unbelievable pace and bounce the tent until its foundations quiver on ‘Strangers’, with the help of As It Is’ Patty Walters. Fresh off an eight-week US tour with New Found Glory, this is a homecoming that steers Trash Boat clear of stormy waters. And with the announcement of a September UK tour, you can bet your right foot that the rest of their year will be far from rubbish.
There are few bands right now who can stand toe-to-toe with As It Is. Nobody does it better, and because of that, it feels like they’re on the brink of greatness as they leap onto the Avalanche Stage to deliver all the fizzy goods. Twinkly-eyed singer Patty Walters, with his high-kicks down to a tee and his ability to draw a sea of screaming without uttering a word, is a born star. Their music isn’t made for Download and some may find the syrupy sweetness of Patty’s voice a step too far but say what you like, he makes for an unstoppable frontman. It’s when he teams up with guitarist/vocalist Ben Biss on ‘Cheap Shots and Setbacks’ that the band really start elevating. There are flickers of doubt but when they put that aside and come roaring out of their shells with ‘Soap’ and ‘No Way Out’, there’s no denying that some of the anthems they’re packing are laying the foundations for the band’s ascension towards pop-rock royalty.
OF MICE & MEN MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY
Of Mice & Men have always been at their most potent when they’re presented with a struggle. Taking adversity, pushing back and twisting it into something worth celebrating, the band have always dealt in silver linings and fighting back. Recently they suffered another blow with the departure of vocalist Austin Carlile, but you know how their story goes by now. Of Mice & Men never back down. Taking to Download’s Main Stage, there’s not a whisper of turbulence, discomfort or struggle as they come out swinging. They sound incredible.
The formula for an Every Time I Die show is simple: turn up, plug in, and crack some skulls. Even after being awake since 4:30am with not a wink of sleep, the New York mob somehow manage to make such a straightforward procedure so unpredictable. Playing at ear-bleeding volume and eyewatering pace on the Avalanche Stage, it takes a matter of seconds for Jordan Buckley to start climbing on heads during ‘No Son Of Mine’ and ‘Glitches’. On the flipside, the loose, stoner riffs of ‘It Remembers’ and ‘The New Black’ are pulled off with all the rock star attitude that characterises stadium-filling bands. Of course, Keith Buckley fits that bill, but what sets Every Time I Die apart from their peers is that every member of the five-piece brings their own personality of this smorgasbord of sheer chaos. Unabashed, unrelenting and, above all, unashamed, Every Time I Die waltz off stage leaving only a trail of beer, sweat and possibly even detached limbs behind them. AFI’s first ever appearance at Download Festival has been a long time coming. Quite why it’s taken so long for a band of such staggering influence to reach a platform like Download’s Main Stage is baffling. As Davey Havok strides onto the runway for a sonorous belting-out of ‘I Hope You Suffer’, he has a majestic air about him which is so powerfully magnetic, while Adam Carson’s drums are thunderous
enough to send a shockwave to the far corner of the site. While arguably some of the finest material that the band have put out in the last decade, the likes of ‘Aurelia and ‘So Beneath You’ from their still-fresh self-titled record are patchy, especially when up against ’17 Crimes’ and ‘The Lost Souls’ – the latter of which somehow still sounds frantic after 17 years. For the most part, this is a theatrical display worth the agonising wait, and a delightfully sinister reminder of why AFI are so important.
Touché Amoré’s first time at Download was always going to be intensely personal, coming off the back of a record as poignant as Stage Four. But even as the Los Angeles quintet dive head first into the frenetic ‘Amends’, it’s damn near unsettling. Jeremy Bolm is the writhing embodiment of pure catharsis; listening to him bawl his way through the likes of ‘Just Exist’ and ‘Benediction’ is like watching someone slowly pry open their ribcage and pull out their still-beating heart, all to the backdrop of some of the most visceral and yet eloquent post-hardcore noise you’ll ever hear. Elliot Babin is a powerhouse of a drummer, dishing out icy blastbeats while Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens pluck out graceful melodies almost effortlessly.
A DAY TO REMEMBER
MAIN STAGE, SATURDAY
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By the time Bolm approaches the barrier for a despairing final bow of ‘Honest Sleep’, everyone’s jaws are feeling as heavy as their hearts, dropping to the floor in the wake of such a perfect encounter.
Three years on from bouncing back out of their hiatus, it feels like the only place left in the world for Basement to prove their worth is Download. With their third album ‘Promise Everything’, the Ipswich five-piece have crafted anthems that would have filled arenas in the 90s, and judging by how massive ‘Aquasun’ and ‘For You The Moon’ sound on the Avalanche Stage, who’s to say that they couldn’t do it now? The likes of ‘Bad Apple’ and ‘Covet’ attract some of the most victorious singalongs of the whole weekend, but the person having the best time of his life here is singer Andrew Fisher, who bounds about the stage grinning ear-to-ear while leading contemplative alternative rock anthems, played with
the gusto of a hardcore band. Basement are no longer on the cusp of something magnificent; this is that something, and it has the potential to take them all the way to the top. For 20 years, The Dillinger Escape Plan have been like a nuclear blast in every conceivable environment. It only makes sense that, for their final dalliance with Download and the UK as a whole, the mathcore pioneers charge in on their most merciless form yet. Perpetually shrouded in strobing white light and dry ice from the get-go of ‘Prancer’, the New Jersey quintet play with a staggering amount of animosity. Founding member Ben Weinman is a sick genius of his craft, pulling off blistering guitar licks with inhumanely technical timing, and yet still darting around the Avalanche Stage like he’s possessed. ‘Can we just turn everything up and punish the shit out of everyone in here?’ frontman Greg Puciato teases before annihilating everyone’s ears with his banshee scream on ‘Sugar Coated Sour’.
Despite everything Biffy A Day To Remember are here to make a claim for that top spot. Years of appearing towards the end of festival bills have given the band plenty of chances to lock down their ferocious party throwing, and today, all those life lessons are put to vicious effect. From the opening ‘All I Want’, ADTR are in fine form. Stomping from abrasive and defiant to reflective and tranquil, the band proudly boast each one of their stripes. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon is a sheer force of nature, determined to incite a reaction, and his role as fearsome master of ceremonies sees the band reach the highest of heights.
There are no pleasantries, no lump-inthroat speech, no pause for breath, let alone to consider that this truly is the last time that The Dillinger Escape Plan will lay waste to a British audience. Just a brief thank you and another menacing phrase from Puciato (‘I’m playing until they fucking turn us off’) before a backto-back blast of ‘Sunshine the Werewolf’ and ‘43% Burnt’ leaves everything before it sounding pedestrian. Forget orchestrated chaos; this is a fully blown orchestrated apocalypse. As the UK bids farewell to one of the world’s most influential and incendiary bands, at least we can say that this plan was perfectly executed. P
he last time we heard from The Xcerts, Murray McLeod and co. were in the midst of touring their outstanding 2014 album, ‘There Is Only You’. It was a record that arrived to critical acclaim and saw the band playing bigger stages than they ever had before, but as Murray explains, the reception to the album – particularly in relation to the frontman’s emotional wellbeing – got rather personal. “Stuff started to get a bit odd,” he remembers. “We’re so grateful that people connect with that record, but then people started asking me really personal questions, and they’d shout out people’s names that are mentioned on the record! We were playing in Glasgow, and people were shouting out, ‘Who’s Emily?’ [in reference to a person name-checked on the album]. At that point, I thought things had maybe gone a bit too far. The story got a bit mixed up with ‘There Is Only You’ – it wasn’t quite the break-up record people thought it was. The songs were actually written while I was still with my ex, and they were more about going through rough times together, as opposed to my feelings after the relationship ended.”
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It might seem like The Xcerts disappeared for a while – a threeyear gap between albums would certainly suggest so – but Murray is quick to point out that the success of their last album meant he, bassist Jordan Smith and drummer Tom Heron had to spend much of the two years following its release on tour. Not that the Aberdeen native is complaining, mind.
“We’ve had no time off!” he declares. “‘There Is Only You’ came out in Autumn 2014, and then we were on tour for pretty much the whole of 2015. The aim was to do 18-months of touring, following which we’d go into the studio to get a new album out much quicker. But we kept getting offered tours that we couldn’t turn down, and the album seemed to gain real momentum about half-waythrough the campaign. So, our new album ended up being recorded in December 2016.” About time, lad. But while one might expect The Xcerts’ new
material to sonically pick-up where ‘There Is Only You’ left off, their new tunes, particularly new-single-come-mega-banger ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ see the three-piece reaching for the stars. It remains heartfelt, honest emorock at its core, but these songs are bigger, brasher, and… poppier. It’s a transition not too dissimilar from fellow Scotsmen Twin Atlantic’s development between 2012’s ‘Free’ and 2015’s ‘Great Divide’, and it’s a step forward which should see Murray, Jordan and Tom finally take their place atop the Brit-rock pile. “We thought we’d written a blockbuster chorus!” gushes Murray when speaking of the single. “It’s a slightly different flavour for our band – it introduces the 80s inspiration that’s across the record. We really believe in it – it’s a fucking great pop song! ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ sums up the album nicely. This song will take us up a few levels and allow us to compete with the big boys!” But while there are sonic changes when it comes to these new tunes, Murray still recounts the creative process of this new album as one of catharsis. “‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ is about falling back in love with your life,” he explains. “For a good spell from the making of ‘There Is Only You’ to making this record, I spent a lot of time in total darkness; I was going through a lot of stuff, and while that was happening I realised that I was falling in love with the notion that I was a tortured artist. I was relishing being this wounded person. But my friends and loved ones pulled me out of that, and I started falling in love with the good stuff again. I fell back in love with life, basically. That’s what this record is about.” Hope. That’s the word that comes to mind upon hearing Murray tell the story of the last few years of his life. The Xcerts and their frontman have always been the underdogs, always touted for success but not quite reaching the dizzy heights their talents deserve. But this new record breathes new hope, new life and new love into the band. It’s time to fall head over heels for The Xcerts all over again. P The Xcerts’ new album is due later this year.
THE XCERTS ARE BACK. WITH NEW BANGER ‘FEELS LIKE FALLING IN LOVE’ AND AN ALBUM TO FOLLOW, THEY’RE STAKING THEIR CLAIM TO BE 2017’S MOST REVITALISED BAND. FRONTMAN MURRAY MCLEOD EXPLAINS HOW… WORDS: JAKE RICHARDSON.
“WE’RE “WE’RE READY” READY”
THE CURTAIN CALLS. CREEPER INVITE YOU TO THEIR THEATRE OF FEAR. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER.
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ownload. Tick. Warped Tour. Tick. Debut album. Tick. Their March headline tour. Tick. Obviously, things aren’t going to stop just yet for The Callous Heart. “The band’s grown so phenomenally over the past year, so it’s hard to see a time where it’ll calm down, at this point,” grins Will Gould.
“The things we’ve been offered lately have been absolutely mad,” continues Will. “And we haven’t been able to do most of them because we wanted to do this tour at the end of the year. We were desperate to do our own thing.” Of course the band like recruiting new members to the cause through support tours and festival appearances but, “when you do your own thing, you’re in complete control of it. The things that people like about Creeper and the things that I like about Creeper, are the things that are a little bit different or are handled a little bit differently. With your own tour, you can get away with doing more.”
“The idea about this one at the end of the year, everyone seems very confident about doing it. We felt like we were ready to do this. I had a million ideas for production, but we all settled on one we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes. We’ve got this really, really cool idea for it. It’s a bit ridiculous. The production we have for it is really silly, but if we can pull it off, it’ll be something really special. It’s right near Christmas as well, maybe we can have a snow machine at the end,” he adds with a laugh. Of course, the best-laid plans never quite work out. The tour dates for December were leaked a day early, much to the band’s annoyance. “I would never, ever announce a tour by putting an advert in a magazine that’s being given out at Download. It’s not our style at all,” Will insists. “The problem is, when you’re trying to do something creative with touring, with every little thing aspect of it, there’s a formal way of doing of touring. But if it were up to us, we’d probably hide tickets in the forest and have people find them. You can’t do that though. “We’ve got such a good creative for this tour, and I’m so excited. There are so many unorthodox things we’re trying out here, and it’s just so fun,” he
continues. “When we first started out, we wanted to handle things a little differently, be it a t-shirt or a gig at a toilet venue. Now we’ve got bigger; we can handle touring in much bigger venues differently. The canvas has expanded. We can get away with asking for more and building bigger production for these bigger stages. All that’s really changed for the band, at the heart of it, is that the venues are bigger. What we can do is bigger. The walls fall away a little bit.” There’s the realisation that “’Omg, all the things we’ve been doing in these smaller venues, let’s do a bigger version of that.’ It’s mad, but I’m not sure I’d be interested in being in a band if all we had to do was turn up at a venue, plug in, and play. I like the idea of taking over. I like the idea of knowing that when you come and see our band, you come with a high level of expectation that it’s going to be different to what everyone else is doing. I hope that people look at it and think, ‘What the hell is this band going to do? I have to buy a ticket because last time, they built a church onstage’. I hope people see it and are excited about the prospect of what we could do in this sort of room. We’ve got some cool plans that I haven’t really seen done before. Hopefully, everything will be alright.” P
Rock’s most purple band taking over a bunch of old theatres with loads of ideas, a bucket load of confidence and heaps of debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ still to be shown off live. They’re the heroes of our story, and you won’t want to miss ‘em. FFO: Scooby Doo, drama, black hair dye
CASE CASE STUDY STUDY FIND OUT WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS TAKE ON THE ROAD!
Fresh from releasing debut album ‘Fail You Again’, Can’t Swim make the sort of music that would make Jimmy Eat World feel powerful and bring Brand New to tears. It’s larger than life but seeped in reality’s romance. FFO: Armbands, goosebumps, song lyrics as Instagram captions
Microwave recently released their second album ‘Much Love’, a record about experiencing every aspect of life and then trying to handle the fallout. It weaves, winds and wistfully wraps itself around your heart, while sending shivers down your spine. FFO: 0-to-tasty in 90 seconds, swaying, hashtag emotion
I always take my headphones with me because being surrounded by people shouting constantly eventually takes its toll, and it’s pretty essential for sleeping on tour busses. I recommend Marc Maron podcasts!
I always take some form of throat tea, Dr Vox is my current favourite. I’m pretty sure I sing with a terrible technique, so soothing throat teas are a very welcome addition to my backpack.
‘Permanent Rainbow’ is the sort of attention-grabbing, soul-bothering debut album that every great band should make. All heart, hope and let down, it’s pretty and powerful. There’s a second album on the way, it’s being released by our pals in Big Scary Monsters, and we are stoked. Join in the excitement. FFO: Vaping, people who tweet a lot, punk credentials
My iPad is where I do all of my demos, so I always bring it along and record various bits and pieces when I get bored.
CREEPER UK TOUR DATES
DECEMBER 03 GLASGOW ABC 04 BIRMINGHAM INSTITUTE 05 BRISTOL TRINITY 07 LONDON SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE 09 MANCHESTER ALBERT HALL 10 SOUTHAMPTON GUILDHALL
Most importantly of all, is this, the Yankee Candle Fragrance Spheres. Now, this is only really essential when travelling on a tour bus; people seem to think it’s rock n roll to not wash and spend weeks wallowing in their own filth. Well, this is not something I adhere to, hygiene is cool, I always have one of these in my bunk so at VERY least, my bunk smells of clean cotton or woodland pines.
This rather suspicious looking thing is a life saver on tour, I use it when I wake up feeling as if a hedgehog has fallen asleep on my vocal chords (every day). The only problem is it’s made out of china, and this is my third one, not very practical for touring... Deaf Havana tour the UK from 9th November. 17
WA X A H A T C H E E
OUT THE OUT INININTHE THE STORM STORM
KATIE CRUTCHFIELD IS SWITCHING THINGS UP FOR HER NEW WAXAHATCHEE ALBUM, ‘OUT IN THE STORM’ - WITH A BIT OF HELP FROM PAL KATIE HARKIN. WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG.
t’s a landmark year for Katie Crutchfield: the tenth anniversary of when she formed her first pop punk band, P.S. Eliot with her sister Allison. It also sees the release of her fourth album under the Waxahatchee name. She’s become one of US rock’s most vital voices, and ‘Out In The Storm’ is her strongest expression of that voice yet.
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“Four albums finally feels like I’m established creatively,” says Katie. “It’s something that’s been happening for quite a few years. I feel more comfortable going in a lot of different directions now. I’ve got a body of work at this point.”
Her body of work is certainly impressive, building from the quiet lo-fi acoustic charms of ‘American Weekend’ to the vivid songwriting of breakthrough ‘Cerulean Salt’ in 2013, and 2015’s follow up ‘Ivy Tripp’. This time things are a bit different though - Katie wanted to shake things up. “It was a total 180 from ‘Ivy Tripp’,” she begins. “It was important to me to work with different people. This time I wanted a deadline, and I wanted to have to be prepared. I wanted to give direction. I’d always been at the head of the table, but I was working casually with friends rather than in a structured
environment. I wanted to be the assertive force in the room.” Working alongside acclaimed producer John Agnello, Katie gradually introduced a new approach to Waxahatchee: one built around her formidable live band of Allison, Katherine Simonetti and Ashley Arnwine: “We have a stronger, bigger and heavier sound live,” she explains. “They all have distinct styles; I wanted to draw inspiration from that.” It was one further collaborator though who brought ‘Out In The Storm’ to the next level. “Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin played lead guitar,” she says. “We’ve known each other a long time as both our bands were on Wichita Recordings. We met through that years ago the first time I came to the UK. We really clicked and stayed in touch. When she toured the US with Sleater-Kinney, Allison and I went to see her play. She messaged me and said if you ever want to play music together, I would love that.” There was a talent that Katie Harkin had that was particularly beneficial to ‘Out In The Storm: “I knew I wanted this to be a guitar record and I needed a shredder, and she was the first person I thought of,” laughs Katie. It’s not just the sound that’s different this time. Lyrically, the album sees Katie writing about a specific theme. “The
songs are all about the same thing, which was the first time I’ve done that,” she explains. “I don’t like calling it a break up record, but to a certain degree, it is. It’s about the self-reflection that goes with the end of a relationship.” Following such a pivotal emotional event it felt right for Katie to return to her most natural way of writing. “While writing ‘Ivy Tripp’, I cloaked a lot of those songs in metaphor and tried to be abstract. That was a stretch for me because everything I’d written before was really literal and based on my own experiences. I wanted to get back to that because that kind of songwriting is most cathartic for me.” With the release of ‘Out In The Storm’ everything has come full circle for Katie Crutchfield. There’s a lot of history for new fans to explore. “It’s great as a music fan when you find an artist and discover there are seven whole records to listen to,” she says. “I think it’s cool because a lot of stuff on my new record is a lot of rock songs and it’s more upbeat than my last two records. Fans of my old band P.S. Eliot will like that. The roller coaster has been interesting. In 2017, ten years after we started P.S. Eliot to come back to that style of music is cool.” P Waxahatchee’s album ‘Out In The Storm’ is out now.
ROCK BOSTO N M A N O R V S S E AWAY
PUNK GOES POP SPECIAL!
veryone thinks they could be a superstar DJ. Everyone. Even your nan reckons she’s in with a chance of having it large behind the wheels of steel. But not everyone has what it takes. We’re putting some of your favourite bands to the test. We’ve given two musicians five categories. They pick a song for each, we decide who wins each round, and who takes home the trophy overall. There can only be one victor. This month, it’s a Punk Goes Pop Vol. 7 special as two acts from the latest edition of the compilation of rock bands taking on pop bangers face off. It’s Henry from Boston Manor vs Ryan from Seaway. Let battle commence... ROUND ONE T H E S O N G Y O U ’ D P L AY I F
Seaway: Billy Idol ‘Dancing With Myself’. The world is a fucked up place, if the world was about to end, I’d throw on some Billy Idol and dance the world away.
W I N N E R Sorry Billy, but Pixies are as close to an instant win as you’re ever going to find in this game. 1-0 to Boston Manor.
Boston Manor: Pixies - Where Is My Mind. If you’ve ever seen the end of Fight Club, you’ll know what a banging closer that song is. Hopefully, everything would be in super slow motion as well.
ROUND FOUR THE SONG
ROUND TWO T H E S O N G Y O U ’ D P L AY A T A S U M M E R B BQ.
Boston Manor: What’s that Nickleback song about having a BBQ? I’d pick that one because the song would be about a BBQ while I was actually having. A BBQ. Seaway: Gob - ‘Soda’. If I were at a summer BBQ cracking a few cold ones with the boys, ‘Soda’ would be the song to get everyone fired up to crack open another cold one (and seven more). W I N N E R On one hand, Nickleback. On the other hand, BBQ squared is surely a meta treat to die for. But then, so is a song about drink. This is too hard to call. Draw. 2-1.
T H E W O R L D WA S A B O U T T O E N D.
W I N N E R We don’t have to explain ourselves, apparently, so Seaway take this one. 2-2.
ROUND THREE T H E S O N G Y O U ’ D P L AY TO M A KE PEO PL E TH I N K YO U ’ R E S U P E R C O O L .
Boston Manor: Minnesota by Lil Yachty. Because the song’s cool, Lil Yachty is cool, and it’s about being ‘Cold Like Minnesota’. Also, the video is set in an ice rink, and there’s a bust of him in it made entirely out of ice. If I played that song, people would definitely think I’m cool. Seaway: The Killers ‘Joy Ride’. Cool people don’t have to explain why they’re cool. The song speaks for itself.
Y O U ’ D P L AY T O WOO SOMEONE.
Boston Manor: I’d play ‘Died In Your Arms’ by Cutting Crew. I feel like that song was written solely to be the soundtrack for seeing someone you like from across the room turning around in slow motion and smiling at you. Seaway: The Calling - ‘Wherever You Will Go’. Super sappy, amazingly corny. This will go over great, right? W I N N E R The Calling? The Calling?! Mate. Just... mate. 3-2 to Boston Manor. ROUND FIVE T H E S O N G Y O U ’ D P L AY T O W A L K O N S TA G E T O .
Boston Manor: Wu-Tang Clan - ‘Ain’t Nothing To Fuck With’. We actually tried this once; I think it was the first and last time we tried walking on to music. It was at the Cathouse in Glasgow; it definitely didn’t go down well. The trick is to walk on as soon as the bass kicks in. Bonus points if you’re wearing sunglasses. Seaway: Drake - ‘Worst Behaviour’. The boys and I are always on our worst behaviour when we get on stage. Sometimes we like to play this walking out so that crowd will get wild with us. W I N N E R Sticking by a song even if it didn’t go down well is commendable. Plus, Wu-Tang... AND THE WINNER IS... B O S T O N M A N O R TA K E I T 4 - 2 !
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
Hey Mariel, you’ve recently signed a new record deal for an EP, and a publishing deal too - it sounds like everything’s pretty full on at the mo? It’s been pretty go, go, go lately. I always feel like there’s more I could be doing, though. The publishing deal was really the icing on the cake. I’ve always wanted to be a songwriter, even before I ever started playing in front of other people and going on tour. I actually started playing in front of people and going on tour because I wasn’t sure how to just be a songwriter otherwise. If someone wants to forward that information, I’d really like to be the next Sia or something. Just saying!
So you’ve switched names, from Candy Hearts to Best Ex - is this a continuation of what you were doing before, or a whole new thing? Can it be a little bit of both? Candy Hearts was so much of myself, packing up and pretending Best Ex is this brand new thing would be really weird to me. It’d be like taking on a brand new identity, moving to a new city and pretending I was this entirely different person who had an entirely different life all along. It’d feel like a con. I’m still the same person who wrote those Candy Hearts song. They’re still about my life and still what the inside of my brain sounded like at the time. Best Ex is that same voice, but the sounds in my head changed a bit. I’m older. I feel different now, and I just don’t identify with what Candy Hearts was. To be honest, Candy Hearts felt really confining and was tainted with anxiety. It got to the point where I was terrified to really do anything, including going on tour, release a song or really just reading the YouTube comments section (which by the way, one should never do when they’re already feeling sorry for themselves). I really like our old catalog though, so I still want to play it. I just want to move past those negative, anxiety-led feelings. Anxiety will not be the front-woman of Best Ex, even if she was an unofficial member Candy Hearts. You already seem to be trying out new ideas, do you have a set plan for what Best Ex is, or are you going with the flow a bit? I’d be lying if I said I had plan for anything I do creatively. I have a business plan, yes, but creatively, I don’t want to box myself in. I’d hate to think that this record would have sounded different if it was a “Candy Hearts” record, like there’s this sound I am married to and forced to play even if I’m not into it anymore. I love the music we’re making now. I love heavy synth bass, and I love fuzzy guitars. I also love that sparkly, 90s Gin Blossoms
type guitar we had on our first LP and I think maybe it’d be cool to bring that back on the next record. I can say that some of the next record already sounds similar to this EP (we currently have enough for a full length just sitting around) but with more of a rock edge. At the same time, I want to be able to do what I want to do. I reserve the right to scrap everything and start over if I wake up one morning and the inside of my head sounds different. For example, I’ve been listening to a lot of Pinegrove and The Weakerthans. I’ve thought so much about adding some pedal steel to the next record or a slide guitar if I can come up with a really nice ballad. This would feel totally out of place on Ice Cream Anti Social, but we did that years ago in our demos, and I loved it, but the idea somehow got lost. It’s better to reinvent yourself than to keep making the same record again and again. What made you settle on the name Best Ex, and where did it come from? I’m not exactly sure how I thought of it. I think I said it in conversation talking about one of my ex-boyfriends who I’m still friends with, but when I stumbled upon it, it just sort of felt right. I really like the idea of being the best of something someone threw away or didn’t want. To me, Best Ex is the best thing you gave up on. It’s the underdog who really shouldn’t be an underdog at all. It feels empowering. You’ve just started touring again after a bit of a break - how’s it going? Well, we hit our first city tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well! We’ve definitely experimented with some new things in rehearsal so I’m so excited to show everyone. I feel like as I get older and become more experienced as a musician, I’m getting a bit better at planning our stage show and being prepared. I think there was a turning point before we went to the UK two years ago where I really just felt like I was flailing around with a malfunctioning GPS, but I started feeling really in my rhythm on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour. It continued that way on Warped, and now I hope it carries over to this, though it’s been about two years! It’s like riding a bike though, right? What can you tell us about your new EP, ‘Ice Cream Anti Social’? What’s it about? I think the EP covers a lot of topics in my life! A good chunk of it is about learning to deal with how life is full of things you can’t control and also full of things that sort of suck. It’s also full of great people who make it sting a little less, or at least laugh about when it
does sting. The other half of the record is about romantic relationships, about uncertain futures and people having wishy-washy feelings. I hold a lot of the record close to my heart because most of the songs are autobiographical and pretty specific. For example the computer I talk about in “Lonely Life” is the one I’m typing on right now (which literally may fall apart before I finish this). When I talk about the sky in Salt Lake City in “See You Again” it’s this gorgeous sunset I saw on Warped Tour. I still have the photo on my phone, but I never really much-appreciated stuff like that until the person the song is about showed me. You’ve said before that the EP touches on the idea that we’ll “always be sort of alone” - are those feelings that particularly resonate with you? Yeah, they really do. It’s unfortunate. I don’t want to spread negativity, and I’m begging anyone to prove me wrong, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. People are a selfish species – not all of them, but a lot of them. It’s not even always malicious. Your best friends can lose touch without a second thought just because they’ve got a new job or a new boyfriend. They just don’t need you around anymore, they stop answering your texts and stop asking how you are. Maybe they move to a different state or have a baby. Whatever it is, you are probably not someone else’s first priority (and not for nothing but if my pal has a baby then I certainly would hope that baby is their first priority!). I’m not saying I’m mad at it. The truth is that you are the only real person who will always be there for you. You are your own best friend. Once I was finally able to admit this to myself, it made me a lot tougher and more able to handle what I’ve got to handle on my own. The truth is that most people just look out for themselves, and you can count on a very small handful, but I do think you should make every effort to look out for other people. Don’t be the selfish one. Be the good in the world you want to see. Maybe I’m wrong though, and I just haven’t found that type of mutual love or friendship. Maybe it is just me who’s always sort of alone, and I hope for the sake of everyone else, that’s the case because I can handle it. So after this EP, where next? What are your plans? I’d like to release another EP! These songs were originally a full length, that I cut in half. There are some things I want to add. There’s a lot more I feel like I need to say. P Best Ex’s EP ‘Ice Cream Anti Social’ is out now.
BEST IN SHOW
MARIEL LOVELAND IS DITCHING HER CANDY HEARTS BAGGAGE AND EMBRACING A FRESH NEW START AS BEST EX. IT JUST FEELS RIGHT, SHE EXPLAINS.
PLAYLIST THERE’S A WHOLE UNIVERSE OF MUSIC OUT THERE TO LISTEN TO. HERE ARE TEN TRACKS YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO THIS MONTH.
A giant pop banger in the same vein as Twinny and Biffy, The Xcerts have really pushed the boat out with their new ‘un. From that new album they have due later this year, probably.
“Mercy done lost her mind,” says frontman Vinnie Caruana. “All we can do is hold on tight and fight for love and the human spirit.” From The Movielife’s new album ’Cities In Search Of A Heart’ out 22nd September. LIS TE N TO T
FEELS LIKE FALLING IN LOVE
FUCK MY LIFE
Prepare to fall in love with something Fresh. With ‘Fuck My Life’, they offer up a glimpse into the glistening brilliance of their upcoming debut. From Fresh’s self-titled debut album out 18th August.
THE ALLAMERICAN REJECTS
MEMPHIS MAY FIRE VIRUS
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
Another blinding taster from PVRIS’ second album. We’ll have more on this one next month - watch this space. Well, not this space... From PVRIS’ album ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell‘ out 4th August.
FUTURELIVES EX MARKS
The awesome debut track from FutureLives, the solo project of Lonely The Brave’s Ross Smithwick - premiered on upsetmagazine.com, obvs. From FutureLive’s new EP ‘This Is Living’ out 1st September.
Wolf Alice are back with a brand new album - the follow up to ‘My Love Is Cool’ - and a track that’s likely to rip your face right off. From Wolf Alice’s album ‘Visions of a Life’ is out 29th September.
According to frontman Matty Mullins, the track represents a “whole new flavor” for the band. “We couldn’t be more excited about it,” he says. From nowt, they released a new album last year.
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
SWEAT / CLOSE YOUR EYES
Their first new ‘uns since ‘15. From, well, they’ve not announced a new album yet, but there’s probably one on the way, right?
MERCY IS ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
“It’s hard to be a musician today and ignore everything that is going on,” the band explain. “‘Get Numb’ was born from that frustration.” From a fundraising effort for Make The Road New Jersey.
FIELDS OF WHEAT
The band’s first new material in quite a while - you don’t have to guess what this one’s about. “It felt like the song should go out now,” they explain. From nowt, yet.
BREAK THE BEST NEW BANDS TH E H OT TEST NEW MUSIC
THEY MIGHT HAVE STARTED OFF AS A BUNCH OF MISFITS, BUT ESTRONS HAVE QUICKLY FOUND A PLACE THEY BELONG. WELCOME TO THE CLUB. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. hey spit, snarl and rage but Estrons aren’t a punk band. Their name means either misfit, stranger or alien in Welsh but there’s nothing about them that screams outsider. Their music lurches forward with a confrontational rage, but Estrons are all about connection. At The Great Escape earlier this year, the band packed out their early afternoon show (“Doesn’t everyone have a job? If they’re queueing outside to see you, and it’s 3pm, you’re winning.”) and conjured a community magic that’s tough to find at festivals. It was the same on their headline tour. This isn’t just a band with strong songs; this is a band with a stronger belief.
Sat in a Brighton beer garden, there’s an audible buzz around Estrons. It feels like there’s always a ruckus about to erupt from the group, but that just draws you in further. They’re a band you want to be a part of. Everyone’s welcome. “It is a celebration,” starts instigator slash vocalist Tali Källström. “I don’t know what I’m celebrating exactly,” she adds. “But in this current age, there’s a lot more ideal stuff about how we should come across, and how we should be perceived. We’re all very self-conscious now. You go on Instagram, and there are a million people who look a million times better than you, doing a million times better than you, who are a million times cooler than you and more talented than you, and there’s so much competition. Estrons’ music, it’s a lot about just being proud of whatever it is that you do.”
Take ‘Drop’, all hyperactive shakes, excited whispers, bursting energy and written in a police cell, with its insistence that “if you are a pile of shit and you aren’t really winning at life, if you’re just doing a job you don’t feel particularly proud of, just enjoy what you’re doing now. Because the future doesn’t exist. For Estrons, it’s about being a bit shameless and enjoying that.” The band aren’t ones for polish and sterile environments. They like grit, dirt and fuck the consequences. Sure, “it makes for a better connection, and we have these nice interviews, and we all look perfect,” but the truth is, “I don’t look perfect. I’m always sweaty or disgusting, and I haven’t brushed my hair, and that’s better.” That’s real. “It’s about happiness. Even though it’s direct and seems dark, it’s about being completely shameless.”
From the twisted firestarter of ‘Make A Man’, dripping in sarcasm and honesty, through the scuzzy clarity of ‘Belfast’ and on to the pounding beckon of ‘I’m Not Your Girl’, Estrons are powerfully unapologetic. “It’s fun to play with perspective,” they grin. A desire for fierceness reigns, in both love and frustration. Latest wall-breaker ‘Strobe Lights’ is “about a turbulent time last year where I was going through a relationship where jealousy overcame everything. And I went through a situation where I questioned everything I was doing. I was going through this massive battle where I was trying to appreciate someone but at the same time, fight my own emotions. ‘Strobe Lights’ was just admitting that you might adore this person, this relationship, this situation and you might have wonderful ideals, but maybe you are just human. And all the feelings that you’re feeling have completely ruined you, and you have to accept those.” “You made me lose my mind,” sings the chorus and “I lost my mind. There’s not a lot more you can do for me,” reasons Tali. “It’s all about acceptance.” With every release, the world of Estrons
becomes a little clearer. A little brighter. A little more complete. That’s not down to a sweeping pencil idea that needs filling in though. It’s all accidental. All good fortune and great belief. “It’s all down to luck. We didn’t realise ‘Strobe Lights’ would be the next single. It was meant to be another song but it was brand new, and it didn’t come out exactly the way we had it in our minds.” The song has to make sense to each of the four members, who might have very different ideas about how it should feel. A support slot with Slaves came about after the band walked past their set at SXSW and fell in love. There’s nobody pulling any strings. “It feels really nice that this has happened so naturally and so serendipitously at times. ‘Hey, I just saw you by accident because I was taking my dog for a walk and I really like you. I want you to do this.’ We’re really lucky.” The band have been touring and touring (and touring) “to the point where we’ve become addicted to playing shows. Hang on; we’ve got a million songs that we’re sat on that aren’t completed, so Summer time is for completing and creating.” As for what’s next, “you never know with us. I don’t know. Otherwise, I’d tell you. I have no
idea what’s going to come next. We have three options, but we might go record something in two weeks, and release that first. That’s where we are. It’s exciting. I’m enjoying it. It’s about what feels right at the time and sounds right at the time.” Every decision Estrons make is backed by that same belief. “We don’t just do anything and everything. Maybe sometimes it’s better to not do everything. Maybe don’t do that show, maybe go somewhere where you’re needed. We have kept our heads on our shoulders, so maybe we haven’t been on a million tours, but at the same time, it feels like we’ve been on a million tours.” It’s about “trying to keep it down, keep it real, hashtag. Making sure it’s us and not getting caught up in too many things.” There was a point where Tali started questioning, “maybe I should be playing different music, maybe the music I’m playing isn’t connecting to people? I started asking myself some ridiculous questions,” she admits but soon found a peace and a clarity with her band and with herself. “I realised how ridiculously insane that was. Why am I thinking that? I just want to be myself. If I don’t win being myself, then I don’t want to win.” P
SOMETIMES IF YOU JUST PRETEND YOU CAN PLAY THE DRUMS, EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT. KYLEE KIMBROUGH IS A TESTAMENT TO THROWING YOURSELF IN AT THE DEEP END - AND HER DEBUT ALBUM WITH DASHER IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPASSIONED YOU’LL HEAR ALL SUMMER. Hey Kylee, you’ve not long finished your first UK tour, supporting Japandroids - how was it? Did you have fun? Yes, we had a blast! I’ve been touring the States for a while. A lot was much the same but felt exciting because several times I ‘d catch myself realising I’m far from home. Aside from obvious things like language/accent variations and different landscapes, there were many little things that stood out. The sandwiches at random rest stops were phenomenal! I like to order dirty Chai Lattes at coffee shops which is Chai tea with a couple of shots of espresso. It’s pretty common in the States but when I asked for one anywhere in Europe people thought I was insane.
of punk shows. Many of which were composed of really close friends. Somewhere around age 24 I just felt frustrated with my life. I went to shows, but something was missing. I wanted more. I felt I had a lot to “say” but had no idea how. I got drunk at a house show and lied to a guy that was going around asking if anyone knew of a drummer that would want to play in his band. I told him I was a drummer and that I would totally do it. The truth was I had never played drums in my life. I just always wanted to, so I bluffed. He called me the next day, and I soberly regretted agreeing to meet up. I tried to make up excuses to dodge getting together to jam, but he insisted. So I did it... and to my utter and complete shock, I killed it.
Have you done much international touring with Dasher? That tour was my first time out of the country ever. It was all my bandmates as well.
What does being a musician mean to you? I don’t think there is one easy answer to what being a musician is about for me. It’s something that I fell into almost by accident. I have gone through my life from phase to phase to phase. When I started playing drums, I felt excited, but I also worried that like many other things in my life I’d wake up one day and lose interest. Since the first time I played in 2008 that day has not come. I have though, often wished that I would have found something a bit more practical to feel so driven by. I struggle with many of the aspects and stresses that come with the job. Touring can be emotionally taxing and painful. Being dedicated to a band can also mean gambling with your future, and that can keep you up at night. I do know that despite the complications that being a musician has added to my life; it has also provided me with more personal satisfaction and esteem than I could have gotten anywhere else. I feel like if anyone is perfect for this line of work it has got to be me. I would write and play Dasher songs till the end of time even if I was the only person living on earth. I do it because I have to get my wiggles out. None of it is for you and never will be. I laugh when I meet someone in a band who gets caught up with notoriety, validation or getting paid. I know some of that has to come in at some point to sustain the project... but when it becomes the motive, it’s completely
What’s the best place you’ve visited? It’s hard to say what the best place was but I think for that tour Manchester was my favourite show with Japandroids. Overall, I would have to pick Atlanta, Ga. I’m from there, and Dasher was born there. I moved almost two years ago, but when we go back on tour through Atlanta, it is almost guaranteed to be epic. How long have you guys been in a band together? Where did you meet? I started writing for Dasher in 2010. I got a few buddies together and turned it into a band. I’ve cycled through several different line-ups for the band over the past seven years. I wound up having to move to Indiana almost two years ago. I found my new bass player Gary through some mutual friends. Gary introduced me to his buddy Steve, and we reformed the band with Steve on guitar. I added my new bud Derek to the mix to play guitar about six months ago. Steve already resigned because he is in school. So now it’s me, Gary and Derek. What first inspired you to create music? I grew up in Atlanta, Ga and spent my teenage/early 20s going to a LOT 26
hysterical and self-sabotaging. So you’re about to release your album, ‘Sodium’. What’s the record about? I have never really thought about what the record as a whole is about. I guess it’s a snapshot of where I was in my life the year I wrote those songs. I can say that ‘Sodium’, the title track is about my best friend, Aaron. I have always struggled to keep close friends. I have autism so socially I don’t get on too well with many people for long when they get to know the real me. I mask how I’m feeling and mimic other people to blend. It works great with acquaintances, but when I spend a long time around someone, it’s usually only a matter of time until I slip up and they get a glimpse of what’s really going on in my head. Aaron was my first friend who saw not only a glimpse, but countless complete meltdowns and insanity. For reasons I still don’t understand, he still loves me, and I was so taken aback by his loyalty that I wrote that song based on that and the feelings that experience gave me. It’s called ‘Sodium’ because the first year we met, we spent every day together. We were broke, so we lived off a diet of ramen noodles and tostinos pizza or potatoes covered in garlic salt. We also perfected our own dish which we call “third world hamburger helper”. Everything we ate that year was really high in sodium, but It was the happiest I had been at that point in a long time. Do you have a favourite track on it? As much as I just rambled about ‘Sodium’ AND picked it for the title track, my personal favourite is probably ‘Get So Low’. It’s the first song I ever wrote, and I wrote it the first day I ever played a bass. That day I never imagined anyone would hear it outside my bedroom. I prefer the stuff I’m working on now better, and there are probably “cooler” songs on the record than Get So Low but for sentimental reasons, I think I’m pretty stoked that my first try at banging out a song on the fly worked out so well. It’s been seven years, and it’s stood the test of time. P Dasher’s debut album ‘Sodium’ is out now.
ou should never judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you just know. From the firm insistence of ‘Rats’, all space, swells and impossible melody, it’s painfully and perfectly clear that Pillow Queens share something very special. The three tracks that make up their ‘Calm Girls’ EP might show off different sides, but there’s a wondrous spark to every angle. Say hello to your New Favourite Band. Hey Sarah. How did you get from Sarah, Pamela, Cathy and Rachel to becoming Pillow Queens? We met through an all-girls basketball team. People think we’re making that up, but it’s genuinely how it happened.
There’s a lot of frustration on the record, but there’s also a lot of power and defiance. Was that a deliberate inclusion? We definitely had a sound we were aiming for when making the record. We wanted it to be strong and heavy which counterbalances some of the writing in the songs. ‘Wonderboys’ in particular is intentionally defiant because it’s just a giant fuck you (pardon me) to capital B Blokes. Whereas ‘Rats’ is a lot more personal and just ended up evolving to become quite chanty and aggressive.
Your debut EP ‘Calm Girls’ is getting a Specialist Subject Records release. What’s that record about? The record started to be written in the summer of 2016 while Pamela and I briefly lived together. We had a pipe dream of making music and forming a lovely little band. I suppose the record itself was inspired by how overwhelmed we both coincidentally felt at the time, and the record feels to us like it’s a cathartic release of a
What inspires you to write songs, and then what inspires you to share them? Do they come from different places? It’s usually a lot of sore hearts and discontent that gets our songwriting engines revving. Pamela and I are both Virgos, so we keep a vat of secret feelings deep inside of us that’s always fully stocked for another song. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to share those sensitive tracks, but we really trust each other when it comes
DUBLIN FOURSOME PILLOW QUEENS HAVE JUST RELEASED A NEW EP THAT WILL BOFF YOU IN THE FACE, AND NOW THEY’RE TAKING IT ON THE ROAD. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER.
lot of pent up emotions. Calm girls is exactly what we weren’t at the time and still fail to be. I might add that none of those frustrations were due to us living together. We were both delightful roommates.
to putting forward ideas. Plus our overwhelming urge to show off will always win over being embarrassed about our feelings. What do you want people to take away from your music? It’d be cool if people were able to take exactly what they needed from the songs at any particular time. It’s funny, some people have come to us and asked if the songs were about x, y or z - and usually, they’re totally missing the mark - but it’s great that there’s a familiarity there and a sense of being able to relate to the songs. We also really like the idea of people seeing us or hearing us and feeling like being in a band is something they could do and eventually starting projects of their own. What’s next? Tell us secrets. We’re about the embark on a UK tour this July which is so daunting but also really cool. We’re playing a handful of Irish shows before we head off and we’ve a few more unannounced shows for later on in the year, but when we get back off tour, we’re going to be a bit quiet for a while and polish off some new songs and get back in the studio. P Pillow Queens’ EP ‘Calm Girls’ is out now. The band tour the UK this July.
PH OTO: SAR AH LOUISE BENNET T
PH OTO: SARAH LOUI SE B E NNET T
PH OTO: PH I L SM ITH I ES
PHOTO : SAR AH LOUI SE BENNETT
PH OTO: PH I L SM ITH I ES
PHOTO: RYAN JOHNSTON
PH OTO: SARAH LOUI SE B E NNET T
PHOTO : SARAH LOUISE B E NNET T
L E P GOS
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ANDON DA N N Y R WORDS:
: . PH OTOS
E D. M AC PR A
A REALLY HARD PATCH LOST EVERYTHING
t’s a balmy 38 degrees in California. The air is dense, the heat stifling, so much so that it makes the UK - even on some of its hottest days in more than 40 years - look more like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. What better temperatures for The Gospel Youth to endure a 1,379-mile drive in? “We stood outside of the van earlier, and I think I instantly got sunburnt,” laughs Sam Little, the lead singer for the Brighton pop-rockers, stood at a truck stop in an unknown part of the Golden State. “I’m absolutely boiling!” “This morning, we woke up and went diving off some waterfalls,” grins drummer Kurtis Maiden, shamelessly confessing to going full tourist during his first ever trip stateside, let alone the band’s first American tour. “That was an awesome start to the day.” Despite piling into a stuffy van, which they had to sleep in the back of before self-driving for 12 hours a day to stick to their schedule, the band - Sam, Kurtis, and guitarists Julian Bowen and Kev Deverick, plus live bassist James Dixon - wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s because, on the end of that particularly arduous journey from Eugene, Oregon to Albuquerque, New Mexico lay the second leg of the Vans Warped Tour. For 22 years, landing your first stint on the travelling festival has been a rite of passage for bands like The Gospel Youth, but to fly over from the other side of the Atlantic without so much as releasing a debut album at that point - by the time you read this, their astonishing first full-length ‘Always Lose’ will be in the public domain - seems absurd even to the band themselves. “I still get shivers whenever
anyone mentions it,” Sam admits in the weeks before celebrating ‘Always Lose’’s release with a show in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. “I thought we’d maybe be playing to a couple of friends who would tell us that our album’s not completely terrible.” “For as long as I can remember, it’s been the dream to travel around for two months and see stuff that people would never see in their lifetimes,” Kurtis adds. “Most Americans won’t even see this much, you know? I can’t think of anything that would be better than this…” or those who have followed The Gospel Youth since their genesis in November 2014, ‘Always Lose’ is an album which has been a long time coming. However, there’s nobody who has waited longer for a full body of work to be put out than Sam. “I’d just finished recording a solo record,” he says, having already made a name for himself performing at local gigs and uploading videos of himself performing covers and original songs to YouTube. “Julian said that, while he hated to say it, he didn’t think the solo thing was working and that I should either give up, or that we could start a band.” “It wasn’t even tough love,” Sam chuckles. “He was just trying to get me to be in a band with him!” The first song born from that collaboration, simply titled ‘Kids’, was a golden nugget of shiny power-pop, clearly unearthed on an adolescent diet of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Bleed American’, ‘Something To
Write Home About’ by The Get Up Kids, and ‘Everything In Transit’, the debut album by one of Sam’s biggest influences, Andrew McMahon (AKA Jack’s Mannequin). Heading up a three-song EP of the same name, ‘Kids’ turned many heads in unison in Brighton’s burgeoning pop-punk scene and beyond. Amongst those with interests piqued was Kurtis - at the time drumming for the band Midday Committee just along the south coast in Portsmouth before jumping behind the kit for The Gospel Youth in 2016 - who claims that he “fell in love with the band that day” he first heard the single. It looked like following Julian’s advice, sacking off his solo album and forming The Gospel
Youth was the start of a fruitful chapter in Sam’s career as a musician - even if he wasn’t so convinced… “There were 100% points in the early stages of the band where I didn’t think it was going to last. We wanted to just do it because we loved it, but there were points where we thought that it wasn’t working out or sitting right. “As time’s gone on, we’ve been so fucking lucky. Everything’s just kind of fallen into place; we’re now seeing that this is what we
SING ACTUALLY MATTERED
were meant to do.” t the start of 2015, the doubts that Sam showed towards his own musical project were the last thing on his mind. Admitting his struggles with “various forms of depression” throughout his life, in the new year he found himself under the eye of a particularly gloomy storm which not only threatened to derail The Gospel Youth, but also posed a severe risk to his personal wellbeing. “Compared to where I was three or four months before, [life] had just done a complete nosedive into what ended up being one of the darkest times I’ve ever been in,” Sam sighs. “I was going through a really hard patch. I’d essentially lost everything, I hated my job, I hated myself, I hated every situation I was in, and I was
pretty much homeless at the time. “I would wake up every morning and go, ‘What’s the point?’ I felt like I was a bother to everyone, and everything I was doing was just pointless. I was defeated completely.” Despite his continued attempts to overcome these debilitating thoughts, Sam remembers walking into work one morning, and once he “received a bit of bad news”, felt like he was past the point of no return. Walking out of his workplace, Sam stopped only once on the way back to his current lodgings to buy a litre of vodka. The next thing he knew, he was waking up in a hospital bed. “I ended up basically doing something really stupid,” Sam explains. “It’s a really strange thing [to talk about now] because at the time I was so blinded by that being it - the demise of me. It was me
saying goodbye to everything, calling it a day and, in my opinion, making everyone’s lives a better place and escaping everything that was bringing me down and constantly getting to me. “When I woke up in the hospital a day or so later, so many things went through my head. I hated that I couldn’t even [commit suicide] right, and I hated that I had done it to myself. There were just so many emotions.” This fresh bout of emotions gave Sam, barely into his mid-20s at this point, a relentless kicking while he was still down. However, it was when he was paid a visit by a friend and fellow musician - Jimmy Broomfield, who performs under the name Heart of Oak - that Sam realised there was still one thing left in his life that gave
him a sense of worth. “Jimmy was one of the few people who came to see me in hospital, and when I was chatting with him I just realised that, as bad as everything had got, I could have literally died, but I got this second chance to make the changes that I needed to make so that something like that didn’t happen again.” nce Sam recovered, he reunited with Julian and revived The Gospel Youth. Building the band up from playing acoustic gigs to full band shows - with a few lineup changes along the way - they followed the course set by ‘Kids’ in writing chorus-laden summer anthems on two more stellar EPs, ‘Empires’ and ‘The True Lost Boys’, in less than a year. But for the heavily tattooed frontman, that’s where the similarities to The Gospel Youth v1.0
came to a halt. “As opposed to earlier in my musical career where I was singing about girls and things that just didn’t hold as much value, I decided to sing about things that actually mattered to me. I wanted to do this for me instead of writing a pop song just because it’s got a catchy chorus, as I know some people do. “We got such a response from the songs that were, to me, essentially like cries for help and just me telling my story. It was at that moment that it hit me how powerful music is and can be, and the good that we can do through it.” As that turbulent year drew to a close, The Gospel Youth decided to dive into even choppier waters with
a crowdfunded endeavour that, while admirable, was creatively comparable to hopping out of a frying pan and into a fire. In what Kurtis coins as “the best and worst idea ever”, the band tasked themselves with writing, recording and releasing one single per month for the entirety of 2016. “[The singles series] was great but it was also awful because it was a lot of hard work,” Sam says with a tone that suggests still being shell-shocked from the experience. “I don’t think we realised how much would go into it.” Nevertheless, they made it out the other side with not an ounce of fat on any of the 12 singles that resulted, and that’s exactly what they were: singles. Fleeting moments
RAIN ON YOUR PARADE The Gospel Youth’s debut album grabs your attention before you’ve even pressed play, thanks to its snappy title and striking cover art. Frontman Sam Little talks about how what ‘Always Lose’ and its front cover represents...
“The artwork and the title, to me, are both like that symphony of bad luck, that feeling of not being able to do anything, and those thoughts of everything being my fault and everything going wrong. Then when you listen to the album, and you realise that actually, things aren’t that bad and that you’re going to get through it. “I guess it’s no different than picking up something and realising that it’s the complete opposite. The whole thing of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ applies to life in general: the people that are the happiest on the internet are not always the most outgoing people in public, they’re sometimes the ones with the most demons. “I wanted something that said ‘this record is bad luck’, so when people go in thinking that the record’s going to be sad, they’ll actually come out going, ‘You know what? It’s not that bad’.”
that define a band in that period of their career and, when played in sequence, they made a stunning case for The Gospel Youth to record a debut album. It seemed that this case didn’t fall on deaf ears, either, as the band announced with the release of the concluding single, ‘The Miles We Are Apart’, that they had joined the likes of PVRIS, The Movielife and Issues on Rise Records’ roster. “When the whole thing with Rise happened, they asked us to give them an album, and there was definitely a part of me that went, ‘Oh, crap…’,” says Sam in his consistently self-deprecating manner. “I think the signing has made us realise that we’re not as terrible as we maybe think we are, but it just made us sit up and think: maybe we’re doing something right, maybe this is it.” hen The Gospel Youth started putting pen to paper for ‘Always Lose’, Sam explains how he faced a sharp emotional incline finding the right words to preach alongside the band’s searing melodies. “It was difficult because I’ve been through a lot of things in my life that I want to write about, and I had to sort of confine that within 10 tracks. “There were songs on the record that I knew I wanted to write, but I couldn’t physically get the lyrics out until literally the day before we went to record it, and then it just clicked.” Such cathartic art demands impulsiveness in its creation, and so Sam’s writer’s block eventually inspired a sense of urgency which only bolsters the record. “I think Sam nails it lyrically,” Kurtis reassures. “You can listen to him and really relate to it, so on the musical side
of things we’ve also got to match what he’s singing about. If you listen to an instrumental track, it’s almost like a journey as well, and I definitely got that vibe from a couple of the songs that we wrote for the album.” Despite producing all of the records preceding ‘Always Lose’, Julian handed desk duties over to Romesh Dodangoda - a man who’s not only been credited with capturing the post-hardcore crunch of Funeral For A Friend and Trash Boat, but also with buffing up the super poppy sheen of Emma Blackery, Don Broco and Kids In Glass Houses. With Romesh on board, the band have been able to balance on the border between those sonic territories more stably than ever before. “Romesh is just a genius,” Sam gushes. “He helped a lot with saying how he didn’t think certain ideas worked and that we should try something else.” From the magnificent opening of ‘I Will Deliver You To The Fireflies’ to the poignant final serenade of ‘Bloodlines // Love Stopped Me Coming Home’, ‘Always Lose’ gives you a feeling of giddiness not far off the way you felt when you first fell in love with music. For all the bitterness, regret and longing that it details, there’s one overarching theme to the record which dominates any negative energies. “I’d like to think that [the record] brings a lot of hope,” believes Kurtis. “The collection of songs on it is definitely happier than a lot of the stuff that we previously released. “It’s great that we can all listen to this album, feel the same things and then talk about them. We just try to be as honest with each other as we can, and I think that kind of shows in the music.” Sam agrees. “There are a lot of people who listen to what
A REAL COMMUNITY VIBE
we do who I know deal with things, and sometimes they don’t feel like they’re brave enough to talk about it or to do anything about it. They feel weak, and I feel like the record, when people hear it, they’re going to realise that they’re not alone and that they can get through it.’ Sam and Kurtis explain how they had read two letters from fans, explaining how The Gospel Youth’s music had helped them through periods of ill mental health. “There seems to just be a real community vibe around us and the people that listen to what we do,” Sam says in the cheeriest of tones. “With the people that follow us around and pay attention to what we do, it’s more like a family.” But are The Gospel Youth
emotionally prepared to take on the mammoth responsibility that is offering counsel to fans through their music? Even some of the biggest bands in the world have buckled under such pressure before... “We all go through the same things whether it’s dealing with the loss of a loved one or having sadness consuming us or being incredibly ecstatic about something,” says Sam. “With all these new things like celebrities and social media and make-up and clothing, we’ve kind of created this universe for ourselves that is our own worst nightmare. “I think it’s sometimes just so easy to get overwhelmed by everything, and to think that you’re not good enough or not pretty enough or you’re
not doing a good enough job because you’re 29 with no real job and no real direction, but everyone’s different, and to be different is to be human. We’re all human, we all have bad days and good days, and we want everyone that listens and exists within this band to be a part of this.’ ast forward to the eighth track on ‘Always Lose’, and you’ll hear a line from Sam that will be only too familiar amongst fans: “I know that we’re just kids, we made some bad mistakes.” It is, of course, the opening line to ‘Kids’, the first song that Sam and Julian wrote under the Gospel Youth moniker no less than three years ago, but on this record, the song serves a very different purpose.
In the context of ‘Always Lose’, not only is ‘Kids’ a reflection of three years mired in growing pains, anxiety and depression, as well as Sam’s dalliance with death and his inspiring recovery, but it’s also a doff of the cap to the growth of The Gospel Youth, and a look ahead at the glorious path which has been lit for them. “When we first started the band we had no expectations,” the frontman reflects. “We had no idea what was going to happen, Julian and I just wanted to do it because we wanted to make music. “From then until now, there’s been so many ups and downs, and having ‘Kids’ on the record is just a nice little nod to all of the things that we’ve been through, and a reminder
that we do still make music because it’s what we love and it’s what we want to do. “I’ve got a reason to exist,” he insists. “Even though things can be a bit overwhelming at times and life can get in the way, [the album] is basically like a massive ‘fuck you’ to it.” wo and a half years have passed since that fateful day pushed him to the brink of suicide, and Sam looks happy, healthy, optimistic even. Instead of wallowing in his past, the 27-year-old is beaming ear-to-ear about being on the tour of a lifetime with his best friends, and trying not to fanboy over his hero Andrew McMahon when they share a festival bill.
“I think life is very confusing,” he pauses. “Looking back at where I was and comparing it to where I am now, I’m incredibly blessed and thankful to be where I am, but I still don’t take anything for granted because tomorrow is a completely new day. Life keeps you on your toes all the time, so I never get too comfortable.” Although Sam says that there are some days where - like a lot of other people crippled by anxiety and depression - he doesn’t “want to leave the bed or do anything”, his acknowledgement of the fact that making mistakes is just part of the human experience has made him a stronger person, and a stronger leader of The Gospel Youth. “I still deal with a lot of
mental health issues and a lot of thoughts that maybe I shouldn’t have, but now I know that doing something like [committing suicide] is not my decision to make. My decision should be either letting it get to me or fixing it, and I decided that the way I should look at things is to fix them. “I know I’m not the strongest person in the world.” There’s
far less of an intentionally self-critical tone to his voice this time. “But if I can get through some of the stuff I’ve been through then hopefully other people can too. If they find that solidarity through our music, then that’s even better.” P The Gospel Youth’s debut album ‘Always Lose’ is out now.
THE BRITISH INVASION The Gospel Youth aren’t the only band flying the union jack on the Vans Warped Tour this year. Frontman Sam Little reviews his fellow Brits making waves across the Atlantic this summer:
“I’m tempted to start a beef with them, but I won’t!” Sam laughs. “We played our first ever show as The Gospel Youth with Boston Manor, when it was just me and Julian acoustically. It’s great to see American kids digging them as much as British kids do, and seeing them get the same response over here as they would at somewhere like Slam Dunk is insane.”
“They’re an amazing band. America is a whole different music scene, so it’s really cool to see Americans respond to the whole Creeper experience. Oliver [Burdett, Creeper guitarist] actually played bass for us for one gig, when we did a Jimmy Eat World covers show in Brighton, so we’ve got a lot of history with them. I’m super grateful to not be in that band because wearing all black all summer must definitely suck!”
“They’re great, and I’ve heard loads about them live, but I didn’t actually realise they were on Warped Tour until we got out here. Seeing them live is definitely on my to-do list!”
SONIC BOOM SIX
“Laila [K, singer]’s my girl! We’ve been in this scene for a long time together, but they’re doing Warped Tour in an RV, and we’re doing it in a van, so they’ve got a bit more luxury than us. They’re killing it every day and having a lot of fun, but they’re also appreciative to be out here when there are so many good British bands out here.”
“THERE ARE NO RULES.” M A N C H E S T E R O R C H E S T R A’ S N E W A L B U M S E E S T H E B A N D
T R AV E R S E N E W T E R R I T O R Y A N D P U S H T H E M S E LV E S T O T H E I R L I M I T S - I N S P I R E D , I N PA R T, BY DA N I E L R A D C L I F F E ’ S FA R T I N G CORPSE. WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN.
eeling comfortable often hinders progress. Four albums in and Manchester Orchestra found themselves itching to get to the next level. After being tasked with creating the score for 2016 film, Swiss Army Man (in which Paul Dano is marooned on an island with Daniel Radcliffe’s flatulent corpse) using only founding members Andy Hull and Rob McDowell’s voices, stripping away everything that got them there made perfect sense. Fifth album ‘A Black Mile to The Surface’ was always going to be a challenge. “[It’s] like, what’s the point?” muses Andy. “How do we prove to ourselves that this is worth it, you know? Because we don’t want to make something that sucks.” “And we’re the first people who will admit if our own stuff sucks!” Rob adds. The two of them are in London for a pair of intimate shows; just their voices and guitars. This is where the journey of ‘A Black Mile...’ began, skeletons of songs that had crept into Andy’s head but had never quite found their place. “I thought, I should like go back and investigate,” he explains. “When we went up to the cabin to write the record, I played everybody the songs for the first time. Rob had been hearing them for a while because we were travelling and working together, and I just challenged the band to go against your instincts because ultimately these songs, at their core, are very simple folk songs.” Rob reiterates the importance that this held: “That was the mission statement for the record... it’s finding that thing in your brain that you don’t know is there.” Andy continues: “And how do you get out of your comfort zone? It’s very comfortable for us to turn on a distortion pedal and then fucking blow this roof off, how do we get the sane feeling of emotion and drive to it without that?” Having decided to turn everything on its head, what exactly the album would convey, and how, was a different story. “I’ve always tried to look at out records like they’re movies,” says Andy. “In a way, ‘Cope’ was the fast thriller, action packed movie. I wanted this to be as wide open in scope as we could go, and I hate the term cinematic, but you know we really wanted to create a world that you’re in and kind of travelling, and that was a big thing with Catherine [Marks, producer]. When we first started talking to her
about doing a record, she said I really want each one of these songs to feel like a different room in a house.” Of the eleven rooms that make up ‘A Black Mile...’, each one feels like a journey undertaken. The album itself takes place in Lead, South Dakota, which is also the title of the album’s third track. After initially writing a song based there, Andy set about looking for further inspiration in the form of photographs and found one that suddenly allowed these voices and stories to come to fruition. On what this new found style of writing meant for Andy, and his outlet, he offers: “Ultimately it is me. It’s like anybody who writes; there are elements of the author in a fictional book because it’s coming from that person’s brain and it’s coming from their life experiences. I’m a happy guy, and I really love my life and my family, but that’s not very compelling! So what I found was that I needed to create something where I could dive in. You can really go deeper and say certain things that I might not be okay with saying. ‘Lead’ is a great example. That’s a character talking about something, [who] says ‘I don’t think I wanna be a dad’. That’s surely a thought I’d have had before my daughter was born, but I’m not sure I ever would’ve had the guts to say that... It’s important because it’s a real emotion and it’s something that people go through.” All of this development is thanks to Swiss Army Man and the aforementioned soundtrack. Without the restrictions that Robert and Andy had imposed upon them, they know things would’ve have gone differently, and potentially not for the better. “It would’ve been an entirely different record,” Andy reflects. “That proved to us that there are no rules, basically. After ‘Cope’ and ‘Hope’, we felt like we’d exhausted our resources for what we knew how to do. [They were] the heaviest and the most pretty and delicate, so then what next?” Rob emphasises the extent to which they were trying to avoid past ideas: “I would say, every single song, we take this blueprint and see the skeleton of it. ‘How is this song not a ‘Mean Everything’ 2.0, or a ‘Simple Math’ 2.0, etc.?’” The band were hyper aware of not falling into their own complacency, an easy trap for established bands. A name brought up in relation to this is Foo Fighters: a band who are so revered and such a staple that the formula they use is neither new nor old, it’s simply them doing what they do. “We always
look at bands like that, and chances are, we’re not going to get to Foo Fighters level in our career, who knows?!” Andy says through laughter. “But we try and look at stuff like that and go, ‘Alright, how do we not do this?’” That’s not to say they aren’t fans. Quite the opposite, in fact. Foo Fighters’ second album, which has reached its 20th anniversary this year, was a record that inspired Manchester Orchestra’s 2009 release, ‘Mean Everything To Nothing’. “We wanted that record to be ‘The Colour And The Shape’, I even say ‘colour and the shape’ on the first track! That’s like the idea of that record, that’s record two, but how do you do it? Five’s tough, what the hell do you do?” “There’s a hunger there for sure. It’s like, we not only want to make our best record, we feel like we have to, and that’s very stressful, but ultimately it works. I was reading about guys like Thom Yorke, who say when you make a record you should never have fun, and it should never be easy, because if it’s either of those things, then you’re not doing the right thing. It’s like… true!”, Andy exclaims. Putting themselves through the mill was a journey that ultimately paid off, even if it meant scrutinising everything they’d built up before this; turning the Manchester Orchestra they’d known for over a decade on its head. “It can’t be healthy to do, I know it wasn’t healthy to do. We were obsessed with this record, and it got to a point where our families were like, ‘Alright, you guys have to stop now, please come home!’ So that was tough, to stay in totally and keep pushing. I mean, guys like Simon from Biffy were also really helpful. Smarter dudes that I could call and say, ‘What do you do when you’re having a nervous breakdown in the studio?’ and ‘How did you push forward?’ And stuff like that, we were lucky to have some strong advisors around us.” Walking away from their next chapter and letting it play out in all its cinematic glory is the hardest part of all. Eventually, Andy and Rob, along with drummer Tim Very and Andy Price, knew they had to call it a day on ‘A Black Mile…’. “It’s just good for you to step away,” confirms Andy, “but you want to uphold your convictions and make sure you give it everything you have.” Manchester Orchestra have certainly done that, and with it comes a whole new realm of possibility. P Manchester Orchestra’s album ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’ is out 28th July.
PICK A SIDE S H E E R M A G A R E M A K I N G M U S I C T O B E L I E V E I N ; A R A L LY I N G C R Y T O E V E R Y O N E W H O
CA RES A BO U T T H E W E L L- B E I N G O F OT H E RS .
or anyone in pursuit of a band capable of forging strength, there’s none rawer or more engaging than Sheer Mag. “Everybody has the experience of listening to music that makes you feel cooler than you are, or that maybe helps you get through a particular time,” Matt Palmer describes. “I think that’s the greatest thing that we as a band aspire to, to be the lonely voice in the dark that encourages you to go on.” With stadium-sized refrains and blistering vocals, the Philadelphia outfit have been kicking out at the world and
WO RDS : J ESS I CA G O O D M A N .
commanding attentions one garage rock show at a time. Over the course of three EPs (re-released as a compilation earlier this year) their characteristic sound – an embodiment of the most thrilling parts of punk rock and power pop – has seen them earn the admiration and appreciation of fans worldwide.
just too much going on in the world right now to turn a blind eye.” Resolute in their own beliefs, Sheer Mag are determined to make their voices heard. “If you are conscious of these issues, you have a responsibility to talk about it,” the guitarist continues. “Apathy is violence in a sense. You have to pick a side.”
Their ever-growing popularity should come as little surprise, really. Creating music with riffs this huge and vocals this raw, attention seems almost mandatory. The group themselves shy away from the spotlight, preferring to let their music do the talking. Politically charged and innately empowered, this is a band with a lot to say.
The band’s fighting spirit took a resounding lease of life on EP ‘III’ opening track ‘Can’t Stop Fighting’. “It’s about sexism on the street,” Matt describes. “You have sexism on the street where women are catcalled. That’s psychic oppression, and it takes its toll.”
“Not all art has to be political, but most of my art does,” Matt considers. “There’s
“The second verse is about my sister’s friend in college,” he continues. “She was a feminist and LGBTQ+ activist on campus. Going from a feminist rally to a
queer organisation she stopped in her apartment, and she was murdered by her roommate, this weird drifter dude.” Using their voice to shine a light and make a difference the best way they can, drawing together the personal and political with electrifying refrains, Sheer Mag are both intimate and unafraid. “Sometimes those tragic stories need to be told, and they need to be confronted,” Matt explains. “It’s important for allies white, male, and otherwise - to stand in solidarity and show support for people who are in more difficult situations than you are.” So that’s exactly what the band do. Releasing what they describe as “a hard rock soundtrack to our latecapitalist, neo-liberal nightmare that is 2017” in the form of their debut album, Sheer Mag are about to take the world by storm. The record certainly doesn’t disappoint. Made up from twelve songs of blistering rock and roll, ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ presents the band at their most enraged and empowered. “The themes that we touch on are probably familiar to anyone who’s read the lyrics of a previous Sheer Mag record,” Matt illustrates. “Generally it’s lovesickness, or a mistrust of the state, trying to shine a spotlight on
issues of marginalised people...” he lists. A lot of their songs might be born out of confusion or chaos, but throughout it all, the band present a sense of determination and an energised conviction that’s second to none. “There’s a particular sort of righteous, pissed off, chip on your shoulder perspective that fuels the songwriting of the band,” Matt details. “I don’t want the songs to be wallowing in misery. I want these songs to be encouraging.” This is music with meaning, expression with a purpose as vital as the electric refrains that enliven it. Drawing in elements of folk, disco, funk, and R&B, ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ is Sheer Mag at their most dynamic. “I hope that when people put it on, it plays front to end,” Matt laughs, before enthusing: “I hope that they can become familiar with it maybe in the way that you are familiar with the records your parents put on when you were a child.” “I hope that if there’s one lyric or a line that stands out for you, and you go and dive into the lyric sheet, you won’t be disappointed,” he adds, “and that you’ll find there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface.” Drawing from history as
much as their own experiences, Sheer Mag are powering forwards towards the world they want to see, and inviting everyone listening to do the same. “Maybe through the record, you can learn about the Stonewall Riots or the White Rose collective,” Matt indicates. “Maybe you can take a moment and think about the privileges that most of society benefits from, and think about your role in that one way or another.” A breath of fresh air as much as a pause for thought, with the release of their debut album, Sheer Mag are breaking out of the mould and raging turbo charged to a bold new horizon. “Think about whether you are complicit in the systems of oppression that are ruining this country and ruining the world,” Matt urges, “or whether you’re going to be compelled to stand up and organise, to fight for labour, or fight discrimination, or fight for the ones you love when you see them being harassed or discriminated against.” Whatever happens from here it seems that one thing is certain: Sheer Mag won’t stop fighting anytime soon. P Sheer Mag’s debut album ‘Need To Feel Your Love’ is out now.
H O W E V E R P R E PA R E D YO U T H I N K YO U A R E F O R T H O U S A N D S O F A D O R I N G FA N S , N OT H I N G Q U I T E C O M PA R E S T O B E I N G O N S TA G E W I T H H O A R D S O F G I G - G O E R S S C R E A M I N G B A C K AT Y O U . I T â€™ S A P R O B L E M F A N G C L U B A R E J U S T G O I N G T O H AV E T O G E T U S E D T O . WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN.
angclub’s frontman, Steven King, like the music he and his bandmates create, doesn’t beat around the bush. “As far as making a statement, we don’t really care,” he exclaims. They’re here to do what they do and enjoy every minute of it. Since springing seemingly out of nowhere last year, they’ve been moving fast with two well-received EPs and support slots the likes of Twin Atlantic. How the Irish trio got here, all the way from their small hometown, Rush, is still a bit of a blur. They were just three guys who found each other at school, bonded over their mutual love of The Offspring and NOFX, and set about making whatever noise felt right to them. “We just want to write and record the songs that we like and have it loud as fuck because we like it loud, that’s it!” That’s an integral part of Fangclub’s sound: it’s a raw, vicious take on bands like their teen heroes, and with further comparisons to both Nirvana and early-years Green Day. Their debut album, finally making an appearance after being finished for over two years, is a planned continuation of everything you’ve heard from them before. “We wanted to tease out the album from the first EP,” Steven explains. “That was always a conscious decision to see what songs people gravitate towards.” People have certainly gravitated towards Fangclub, and Steven’s finding a new awareness in his writing that can only come from amassing new fans. “We were talking about this the other day. The more honest you put things, you could put it as clearly as possible, but people will still read into [it]. They’ll still want it to be something. It’s whatever they have in their head.”
Having your words become a helping hand for someone is part and parcel of being a successful songwriter, even when your songs are inherently punk and loud. “It’s funny to see some of the songs take on a life of their own. Like, there’ll be a song like ‘Dreamcatcher’, and we always knew we really liked
a while ago,” he continues, “and there are people singing back some of the songs I wrote in my apartment, by myself, with an acoustic guitar, and now there are loads of fucking young people screaming the song back at me with their eyes closed, it’s fucking crazy!” Trying to process listeners’
“IT’S QUITE AN ADDICTIVE THING PLAYING SHOWS TO PEOPLE LOSING THEIR SHIT.” that song, but we didn’t know how big it was going to be for people at the gigs,” he says with genuine disbelief. “And we’ve got messages from some people saying like, thanks for writing that song and it means a lot to me, and that’s fucking mental.” “We were playing in London
interpretations of his songs has been a bit of a learning curve. “Some of the stuff that they come up with is quite interesting, [it’s] pretty funny. It causes a lot of selfreflection as well, you’re like, am I like that?! And when they [also] throw around words like death and all that stuff, I’m like, ‘Oh shit I have
to stop saying that!’” The bond they’re forming with their fans lends itself to their rather apt name. “It’s kind of just our own little club,” he laughs, “our own little private gang.” Their support tour with Twin Atlantic saw the trio playing some of their biggest shows to date - though the upcoming Muse and Pixies gigs should soon take care of that. “It was incredible,” Steven says of playing with Sam McTrusty and co., “it was like a dream tour. It was Pulled Apart By Horses, Twin Atlantic, and every night was packed out big shows, and it was just fucking incredible. There were just so many people coming out for those bands, and that music, and it was incredible to see Twin Atlantic do what they do. We learned a lot from their live show, they were just the nicest guys in the world. We learned a lot from those guys, offstage as well as what you do on the stage. Just fucking being the nicest dudes ever.” “It’s quite an addictive thing - playing shows to people losing their shit,” he adds. So, as their debut is prepared for its place in the world, Steven’s not feeling any pressure - after all, why should he? Fangclub are gaining fans at an incredible rate, and everything they’ve put out so far has been rapturously received. “Everybody out there has got their own shit going on, you just do what you know, and stick to your guns,” Steven muses. “There are gonna be people out there who connect to it, but you can’t control that, you just have to let it go and let the people find it.” “We could just be really fucking dumb or something,” he laughs. “It could be the confidence, or we’re just really blind and deaf to what’s actually going on!” P Fangclub’s self-titled debut album is out 4th August.
D E T A R THE OFFICIA
ING. N EVERYTH L VERDICT O
LOS E RS B EC O M E W I N N E RS W I T H A B RI L L I A N T D E BU T.
THE GOSPEL YOUTH
TH E O F F I C I A L VE RD I CT
here’s something special about a band who can write songs that, when you’re singing them back with all your might, can bring you to shed tears of catharsis, tears of joy and maybe even tears of sheer euphoria. With that sentiment in mind, you might want a jumbo box of Kleenex within arm’s reach when you first hit ‘play’ on what can only be described as a remarkable debut album from The Gospel Youth. Rather than phoning in half-baked
‘carpe diem’ bullshit, the Brightonians have ironically found confidence and superhuman strength in bearing all of their crippling insecurities on ‘Always Lose’. As frontman Sam Little declares ever so poignantly on the anthemic chorus on ‘Wildfire’, “I am meant for something more...” It’s a lesson that’s taken a while for Sam to learn, but as he indicates with the abundance of soulful flourishes, he’s become a beacon of a singer. For an album that’s rooted in a gloomy past of depression, heartbreak and pure misery at times, it’s incredible to hear burst after burst of colourful
pop-rock that glistens with hope and enthusiasm. The eloquent guitar work of Julian Bowen and Kev Deverick makes for a killer pairing with Kurtis Maiden’s frantic drums when the likes of ‘I Will Deliver You To The Fireflies’ and ‘Tired Eyes & Heavy Hearts’ spring into life. Meanwhile, on ‘Gin & Black Coffee’ and ‘Your Love Was A Cancer’, Little goes full-on Patrick Stump in his bombastic prime to blinding effect. There’s meaning to their melodies, conviction to their choruses and sincerity to their singalongs, the majority of which are just too damn infectious to ignore. Vibrant and vital, ‘Always Lose’ is an astounding achievement for this generation of British rock. Forget about always losing, The Gospel Youth have clasped an unmitigated victory here. Danny Randon
LIVE & LEARN
Amidst the surge in popularity of technically-minded rock bands, Bad Sign have been bubbling under the surface while their peers are riding the crest of a tsunami-sized wave. But with a debut like ‘Live & Learn’, all of that is about to change. The Croydon trio have made a collection of songs which are as intricate as they are simple, and as refined as they are raging. The complexity of their riffs makes it a challenging listen, but at the same time there’s enough cut-the-crap attitude on songs like ‘Square One’ and ‘Liars & Lovers’ to whet the appetites of the uninitiated masses. An addictive earworm of a record, ‘Live & Learn’ is a gargantuan bid for greatness. Danny Randon
eeee If there were any doubts Bellevue Days are one of the UK’s best new bands, then their latest EP should put them firmly to bed. A product of a scene that’s turning out uncut gems at an impressive rate, there’s every chance they could be one of the most sparkling for all. From the shifting tempos of ‘Black Sheep Baby’ - a skulking, smart opener that twists and turns between soaring highs, shimmering gold and crunching bone to the final crescendo of ‘Dead Summer’, Bellevue Days are a band who refuse to be pinned down to a single definable trait. In a way, that’s what makes them so special. They’re deceptive in their ability to deliver an earworm hook, never opting for the most direct route but ending up at the right place all the same. Expect them to show up at the very top before long. Stephen Ackroyd
SILVERSTEIN DEAD REFLECTION
By nine albums in, you’d have the marker of any band. Not that that’s something Silverstein need to worry about. Fourteen years on from their debut full-length, they’ve still refusing to sit back and take it easy. By their own admission, making records doesn’t get easier, but while most bands get lazy, Silverstein couldn’t be further from
SILVERSTEIN SILVERSTEIN A SHORT Q&A WITH...
SHANE TOLD TAKES A BREAK FROM SLAYING THE WARPED TOUR TO FILL US IN ON HIS BAND’S NEW ALBUM.
Tell us about ‘Dead Reflection’ - did you set out to try anything new with this one? Here’s the thing man, records get harder and harder to make. We realise this, and we know we have to work harder and put in the time to continually “one up” ourselves on each record. Most bands get lazier and put in less time, which is why their records often get worse as they go. With this one, we put in time experimenting with different tunings, different sounds, and trying to write some of the heaviest yet catchiest stuff we’d ever come across. We worked with different, fresher people; we had a guy mix the record who works on a lot of electronic music. Just to switch up the vibe and keep it fresh.
getting out the pipe and slippers. And seriously, why should they? ‘Retrograde’ roars and soars in the same breath, while ‘Ghost’ sounds positively anthemic. Still full of fire, Silverstein sound as fresh and exciting as ever before. Dan Harrison.
What frame of mind were you guys in when you first started work on it? We booked 11 days of preproduction with producer Derek Hoffman. That’s a lot. We knew we needed a real clear picture of what exactly was going to happen on this record. So those 11 days were brutal - 12 hours days, a lot of writing and re-writing, opinions being expressed and shot down and ultimately changed, and a couple of shouting matches but luckily no fist fights. But our frame of mind was very serious. These songs meant a lot to us, and we knew this record needed to be the best it could be. How would you like the record to make listeners feel? It’s a dark record. It’s an angry record too - definitely the most pissed off I’ve ever been. But I think ultimately the record tells the story that sometimes you have to go through hell to find what makes you happy. To end up in that good place. And I think sometimes you need to talk about the darkness to have the listener relate, but then ultimately make the record be about hope. How did you come to sign with Rise Records? Back in 2004, Craig from Rise contacted me asking if we wanted to release our old demos on Rise. At this point, we were exclusively on Victory so I told Craig we couldn’t, but we kept in touch and over the years stayed friends. I had some solo stuff, which is now called River Oaks - check it out - and pitched it to him. He said, I love this and want to sign it, but I want to sign Silverstein too. So he did! P
ICE CREAM ANTI SOCIAL
eeeee When a band ‘changes direction’, most of the time you expect it to be something subtle. That’s not the case with Candy Hearts. Shifting name to Best Ex is just one of the signs that Mariel Loveland is stepping to a different beat. That’s not to say the world of ‘Ice Cream Anti Social’ is a million miles from the highlights of ‘All The Ways That You Let Me Down’, the last full-length under that previous tag. Embracing her DIY brilliance, Loveland has found her inner strength. Taking a world of self-doubt and anxiety and wrapping it up in a package of hook lines and pop sensibilities, the results are remarkable. ‘Girlfriend’ is a stone cold banger, all sparkle and sass, while ‘Someday’ - and its refrain that eventually we’ll get it right - feels the perfect marker. ‘Ice Cream Anti Social’ is the sound of an artist finding their mark in the best way possible. This is one Best Ex everyone will want to look up. Stephen Ackroyd
CAPTAIN, WE’RE SINKING
THE KING OF NO MAN
Run For Cover
eee LU D I C RO US LY F U N .
TH E O F F I C I A L VE RD I CT
uch has been John Feldmann’s success as a producer in recent years, overseeing albums from the likes on Andy Black, Blink-182 and 5 Seconds Of Summer, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that he actually rose to fame as the frontman of Goldfinger. More or less the only full-time member of the band, Feldmann’s infectious personality shines through on latest album, ‘The Knife’. This is a ludicrously fun record. For the most part, ‘The Knife’ deals in bouncy pop/skate-punk, but Feldmann makes a couple of enjoyable nods to his ska roots
on the calypso-infused ‘Tijuana Sunrise’ and the joyous ‘Liftoff’. Still, it’s when Goldfinger go for broke and channel their punkier side that ‘The Knife’ impresses most. Opener ‘A Million Miles’ is frenetic and bombastic, complete with a brilliant “I just can’t hold it back no more” vocal hook; lead single ‘Put The Knife Way’ is a bona fide poppunk banger; and somehow, a song called ‘Orthodontist Girl’ isn’t total garbage, and is actually one of the highest points of this superb album. When it comes to pop-punk, John Feldmann might well be the elder statesman of the scene, but ‘The Knife’ is proof that there’s plenty of life in this old dog yet. Jake Richardson
From the first vibrant note of ‘The King Of No Man’, it’s clear that this album is not the heartbreak that we’ve come to expect from Captain, We’re Sinking. While still tackling the same difficulties as before, following the passionate and emotional narrative of their debut ‘The Future Is Cancelled’, disposable lyrics such as “Everything will be fine / You’ll be alright / Keep your head up high,” in ‘Dance Of Joy’, and “It’s been a really really really hard year” in opener ‘Trying Year’ ring hollow. But that’s not to say the simpler style doesn’t have its positives. The more measured approach of tracks like ‘Cannonless’ and the title track shimmer with mellow guitar lilts. Ultimately, it’s far from smooth sailing for Captain, We’re Sinking. Alex Bradley
Can post-punk be catchy? It shouldn’t be, really. But in the case of US fourpiece Dasher and their new album, ‘Sodium’, it most certainly is. Taking post-punk experimentation and chucking indie and noise-rock into the pot, Dasher have produced an album that is challenging enough to leave the
US & US ONLY FULL FLOWER
There’s a bleary-eyed sleepiness to ‘Full Flower’, the debut full-length from Us And Us Only, which drifts through every one of the 12 tracks on offer. Yet ‘Full Flower’ is far from soporific. Instead, it shimmers like a dreamy reflection of the moon on a lake; crystal clear and bright
snobs satisfied, while being accessible to your average indie or rock fan. ‘Sodium’ is also an album that highlights frontwoman Kylee Kimbrough’s star potential; her cry of “You can’t save me” on ‘Teeth’ is devastatingly affecting. There’s a bit of fine-tuning to be done here, but as a debut full-length, ‘Sodium’ is an impressive statement indeed. Jake Richardson
eee There’s a familiarity to Fangclub’s debut album: they’re building on that raucous, attitude bursting, but still poppy as hell energy that British rock bands like Feeder pioneered. New age grunge, pop punk and indie fuse into something that sonically makes you want to party, with punchy guitar solos and a gritty heaviness. The only let down is that it can be a bit flat lyrically: while there’s an obvious attempt to delve into some deeper emotion, things get a bit repetitive. The chance for ingenuity was there, but they didn’t quite grab it, resulting in something that is simply safe and decent, rather than exhilarating and amazing. Jasleen Dhindsa
but tantalisingly elusive and delicately ethereal. Fittingly, sleep, and tiredness is a theme Us And Us Only return to time again. It’s an album that shines in periods of quiet, majestic beauty, but boils when it shows its devilish teeth. The result is one of the most interesting – and progressive – indie-rock albums of the year. Rob Mair
TOPSHELF RECORDS SIGNEES US AND US ONLY TAKE THE MUNDANE AND MAKE IT SPECTACULAR. Hey Kinsey, you guys have been together for a while now, but you’re only just releasing your debut album - what took so long? Has life been getting in the way? Life is always in the way. Just kidding, but for real. With this being our first proper full length, we made an effort to take our time. We started this album when we had our old guitarist, and still good friend, Dan Windsor in the band. He helped us find our voice for the album in a lot of ways. Dan went off to film school in the great and vast land of Canada, and John Toohey came in soon after. This album was the first opportunity we had to work with a bunch of songs and parse down with what we were proud of from there. We’ve gone from some weird bastardised version of folk to where we are now, so it was important for what we
were putting out to be cohesive. Beyond that, I think it can be prohibitive to depend on full-length albums, especially as we’ve spent so much of our time as a band without the support of a label like Topshelf Records. It’s been rewarding to stay playing shows frequently, put out some EPs or songs here and there, and make an impression that way. How did you come to decide what ‘Full Flower’ would sound like? Was it an easy process? In part, it was decided in how Sean produced and arranged some of the songs. There were songs that I had brought to the group as skeletons, but once Sean had worked his actual magic like the “ooo’s” in ‘kno’ or the 808’s in ‘way2loud’, we knew that we had to go deeper with that. When I write songs, I work in a pretty bare-bones manner. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by immensely talented and creative people who know when and how to push something into a different territory. Do you have any favourite moments or songs across the release? I view the record through two different lenses - the really atmospheric, sort of dramatic quiet songs like ‘Veiled/Forming’ and ‘way2loud’. Then we have the louder, “rock” songs. I have an immense love for how ‘Veiled/Forming’ came out. It started with me demoing the song on an organ in my dining room; Sean suggested that we bring it to the studio and it sort of bloomed from there. To me, between Suica’s violin and Lindsey’s vocals, I was floored at how lush it all sounded. It’s on some real Disney shit. P
A BLACK MILE TO THE SURFACE
Loma Vista Recordings
The influence of vocalist Andy Hull and guitarist Robert McDowell’s film work is evident as early as the opener on ‘A Black Mile to the Surface’. ‘The Maze’ is a pulsating love song for Hull’s daughter that takes off as a yearning multi-tracked vocal declares “there’s nothing I
A SHORT Q&A WITH...
US US & & US US ONLY ONLY
MILK TEETH BE NICE EP
TH E O F F I C I A L VE RD I CT
In 2016, Milk Teeth laid down a marker with their debut album ‘Vile Child’. A solid gold set of absolute bangers, they’ve spent the year and a half since taking solid sonic foundations and building something even more remarkable on top. Because, let’s be clear, for all the five start brilliance of their first moves, ‘Be Nice’ is the nod and a wink that Milk Teeth are only just getting started. Not that they’re only offering the subtle signs - opener ‘Owning Your Okayness’ is an intercontinental ballistic missile, exploding with white hot heat. A catchy hip check, dripping with sassy energy its got more spark than the national grid. Add to that the thumping, growling ‘Fight Skirt’ and the achingly vulnerable ‘Hibernate’ and the twin peaks of Milk Teeth’s sonic spectrum are laid bare. No one trick pony, ‘Be Nice’ is confirmation - as if it was needed - that Milk Teeth are something truly special, and they’re just getting started. Stephen Ackroyd
have when I die that I keep.” Part of Manchester Orchestra’s journey has been Hull’s struggles with his place in the world, and here he has found a new sense of purpose. Where before the band combined to create a sledgehammer of sound, here they find the spaces between the instruments and let them breathe. After some time away and a change of scene, they’ve shown us there’s another way. Dillon Eastoe
SMILE, AND WAVE EP
Tay Jardine’s first release as SAINTE may be tagged as an EP, but with seven tracks it’s something more. And that’s not just a question of volume. With day glo ambition and soaring possibilities, it’s a record riding towards wide horizons. With a sassy shuffle and inner confidence, it’s a sonic shift dip died in brilliance, opener ‘Eyes Are Open’ raising a defiant fist to boring expectation. “We’re dreaming in technicolor,” Tay exclaims. She doesn’t have to say it twice. A vibrant triumph. Stephen Ackroyd
NEED TO FEEL YOUR LOVE
Static Shock Records
From the get go, Tina Halladay propels vocals with a fight that perfectly encapsulates the Sheer Mag vibe. Lines
such as “We get our kicks, with bottles and bricks” in opener ‘Meet Me In The Street’, when backed with lightning sharp riffs which dominate throughout, proves to be an untouchable formula. It isn’t all straightforward, balls to the wall rock though; there’s stomping, funk influences such as the titular ‘Need To Feel Your Love’. Even the softer moment that comes with ‘Until You Find The One’ has a rough ’n’ ready feel that doesn’t deter from the overall aesthetic. A sub-conscious air guitar or five, Sheer Mag will command your full attention throughout, and you won’t regret a single second. Steven Loftin
OUT IN THE STORM Merge Records
Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as Waxahatchee is her biggest and boldest yet as she continues to develop an indie rock voice that becomes louder with every release. ‘Out In The Storm’ immediately barges the door down with rousing opener ‘Never Been Wrong’ and proceeds to run through every shade of her impressive songwriting palette. Everything is stepped up to another level with Crutchfield’s writing returning to the intensely personal style of her earlier records. Waxahatchee has grown into something bigger than just Katie Crutchfield and with a new band behind her ‘Out In The Storm’ marks a significant turning point. Martyn Young
’S POTENT SENSE OF ADVENTURE POPS AND SHINES AT LONDON’S O2
PHOTOS: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
ne More Light’ has reignited the conversation about where Linkin Park fit in 2017. Don’t get too close, this is a fierce blaze. Tonight at London’s O2 the answer is vibrantly obvious; they’re the same band they’ve always been. ‘Numb’ into ‘Heavy’ shows a band weighted with the same rapidly beating heart that’s always taken centre stage, it’s just that the perspective has changed and a peace now reigns. Elsewhere an acoustic ‘Crawling’ is the only shift the band makes to tie past to present. The rest of the canvas is left for Linkin Park to do with as they please. And they take great delight in sharpening the edges until they glisten with excited danger. ‘One Step Closer’ is ferocious, still managing to quake the earth beneath us while ‘Castle Of Glass’ topples over, cascading down into a disco rave of euphoria and excess. An a capella chunk of ‘Hands Held High’ is just as damning and powerful as it was a decade ago and a grinning tease of Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor track ‘Remember My Name’ still bubbles with a wicked sense of rebellious arrogance. None of the new tracks jar or stick out
from the shattered landscape. ‘Battle Symphony’ swells with a sense of longing, a stripped back ‘Sharp Edges’ shows a surprising vulnerability and who needs rallying cries when the title track is delivered face-to-face, arm-in-arm, with the audience. Turns out, the band aren’t afraid to get close. ‘Good Goodbye’ sees them loosen up, readying themselves for the comfort and ease that accompanies Stormzy’ jump onstage and the opening ‘Talking To Myself’ sees Linkin Park fully embrace their rock star status, only to toss it aside and play outside. It’s carefree and elegant as their rage is dwarfed by the community celebration that found a home within this band long ago. Linkin Park have never just been the band behind the genre-redefining anthems of ‘Numb’, ‘Faint’ and ‘In The End’ (though all three are played tonight with a stubborn, hyperactive fierceness) and live, their depth in evolution shines. Each of their records is a snapshot, but viewed as one, it’s a masterpiece that’s still growing. With ‘One More Light’, the band refused to stand back and admire their work. Tonight, their desire for new, for fun, for playful adventure, rages more passionately, and more determined than ever before. Ali Shutler
Wha t ’s
EXCITING WE ASKED THE BANDS WHAT WAS FLOATING THEIR BOAT THIS MONTH.
“I have been listening to a LOT of Etta James and Kleenex. As far as current bands go I’m really digging Lumpy and the Dumpers (St Louis), Nurse (ATL),and a really new band from Bloomington, In called Skull Cult. They only have a tape out so far but their first record is getting pressed right now and should be in soon. I can’t wait to snag one!” Kylee, Dasher “Rock and roll music is always exciting, there’s a band called White Reaper who have just put out a record called The World’s Best American Band and it’s fucking sweet. What else? Huey Lewis and the News are always a good listen, I would recommend [them]. That’s what’s getting me going right now.” Caleb, Beartooth “We’ve got a day off during Warped Tour so we’re going to Disney World. I’m the biggest Disney fan in the world even though I look like I steal tyres off of cars, and I’m gonna go and high-five Mickey Mouse and it’s gonna be the best thing in the world.” Samuel, The Gospel Youth “Most of my spare time that doesn’t go into this band goes into making best friends with my cat. I’m excited to be going away for Warped Tour and then coming back to her, that’s a love you can’t buy.” Kurtis, The Gospel Youth “I’m gonna say season three of Rick and Morty. I’m not too excited about what’s
going on in the political climate at the moment, so it’s nice to kind of zone out of that and watch something silly.” Mike, Boston Manor “I’m just excited about kicking [Waterparks drummer] Otto’s ass on Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. I made a [customisable character] Mii of myself and I look a lot cooler as an avatar.” Geoff, Waterparks “Jeremy Corbyn and Arsene Wenger.” Billy, Puppy “I’m really into a podcast called Rabbits, I’d highly recommend that. I’ve been trying to get all the other guys to listen to it.” Jock, Puppy “I got a Nintendo Switch with the new Zelda game and the new Mario Kart game. I’m pretty stoked to play The Elder Scrolls for the 100th time if that ever comes out again. It’s the best fucking game ever, I can’t wait to play it on the bus.” Will Michael, Puppy “My life is really bleak, it’s pretty boring. I’m really into watching people play the new Friday The 13th game on YouTube, and I’ll end up watching six hours of people just playing a game. It doesn’t even look like a particularly great game but I’m so into it.” Ant, Black Foxxes “I’m really into video games at the moment, I’ve only just bought a PlayStation 4 so I’m doing the ‘greatest hits’ of PS4 games. I’ve just
You, ‘ The b and s’? finished The Last Of Us and started Uncharted 4.” Mark, Black Foxxes “Warped Tour! Yes it’s hot and going to be a long brutal summer, but we have some great friends out here. And my Sangria recipe is on point!” Shane, Silverstein “I find the show Glow
riveting. I’m living for Kate Nash as an 80s female wrestler. I also find myself totally wrapped up Donald Trump’s Twitter. It’s exciting in the way a horror film is “exciting.” It makes my head spin that some dude could get caught in so many lies but no one seems to care. It feels like we’re in an episode of Black Mirror, and the only way out is if someone in charge croaks and a new person gets put in their place, which will probably be a heck of a lot faster than we originally thought since we’re going to basically be radioactive in a few years without the Paris Agreement or the EPA. Why hasn’t anyone stepped in yet and done something? Why don’t the people in charge care?” Mariel, Best Ex
Featuring The Gospel Youth, Manchester Orchestra, Creeper, The Xcerts, Estrons, Sheer Mag, Fangclub, Waxahatchee and loads more.