CONTENTS CONTENTS FE BRUA RY 2017
Editor: Stephen Ackroyd (email@example.com) Deputy Editor: Victoria Sinden (firstname.lastname@example.org) Assistant Editor: Ali Shutler (email@example.com) Contributors: Alma Roda-Gil, Ben Kitto, Danny Payne, Danny Randon, Heather McDaid, Jake Richardson, Jessica Goodman, Kathryn Black, Kristy Diaz, Phil Smithies, Rob Mair, Rosie Ramsden, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin 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!
4 AV E N G E D
22 D E A F H AVA N A 30 F R A N K CA RT E R & T H E R AT T L ES N A K ES 34 C LO U D N OT H I N G S 36 YO U M E AT S I X 40 G REY W I N D 42 AS I T I S 44 A F I 46 A L L I SO N C RU TC H F I E L D
S EV E N FO L D 8 PA L I SA D ES 10 JA PA N D RO I DS 12 M E N AC E B E AC H 14 WST R 16 T H E M E N Z I N G E RS
ABOUT TO BREAK 18 B RU T US 20 WA RS 21 PA E RI S H
RATED 49 G O N E I S G O N E 52 TA L L S H I PS
When most bands talk about comebacks, they’re not working on the same scale as this month’s cover stars. At the end of their last album, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d probably seen the last of Deaf Havana. How wrong we would have been. Working through their problems, they’re reborn, back with what’s almost certainly their greatest triumph to date. They’re returning into a scene that’s packed with excitement. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have a stormer of a record in the bag, You Me At Six continue to drive towards the very top, As It Is have dropped a pop punk album to believe in - and that’s just scraping the surface. 2017 isn’t holding back for anyone. x
RIOT ING IN ROCK E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N
ALL THE WORLDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S A STAGE
A S U RP RI S E A L BU M RE L E AS E , A L I V E 3 60 V I RT UA L RE A L I T Y G I G O N T H E RO O F O F
CA P I TO L REC O RDS , A C O L L A BO R AT I O N W I T H AST RO P H YS I C I ST N E I L D EG R ASS E T YSO N YO U N EV E R K N OW W H AT AV E N G E D S EV E N FO L D A RE G O I N G TO D O N E XT. WO RDS : H E AT H E R M C DA I D.
irst. In the internet age, speed is The Thing. Being the first to comment on a post, reply to a tweet, to have an opinion. It’s a word you can easily tire of. For Avenged Sevenfold, however, it’s a word that peppers many of their sentences - a reclamation of sorts - and one they’re proud of. Repeatedly proud of. ‘The Stage’ is a triumph in many respects. Since the passing of Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, the band have been on a journey of grief and finding their feet again through ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Hail To The King’. This is the album where they found them. Tackling artificial intelligence and the breadth of mankind, they’re
the first rock band to drop a surprise physical release, the first to do so with a groundbreaking virtual reality gig and they’re (you’d imagine) the first band to get astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson to wax lyrical about space and humanity on a metal record. But the real question is, why? “For us, something’s been missing in how albums are released nowadays,” explains guitarist Zacky Vengeance. “It’s become so boring and mundane, because when we were growing up, there was a very special, almost magical moment of going into a record store having saved up money. You finally get the album that you want, look at the artwork, check the tracklistings, and decide which album to buy, and then you get to take
it home and be the first to decide what you think about it. You get to listen to it in its entirety, and it’s an investment. “Nowadays, you have 500 reviews before an album comes out, everyone’s got an opinion, albums leak a month in advance, bands release four singles, literally almost half of an album before it gets released and then people have already made an opinion before they get it. We wanted to let fans have their own opinion once and for all, just like how we used to growing up, that could give people something special in this day and age.” That something special included hundreds of thousands of albums being sent to stores weeks in advance under strict secrecy, pals like Chris Jericho posting dud announcements to throw
people off the scent and creating their own artificial intelligence, the Deathbot. “The world’s moving in a different direction and we wanted to give our fans the opportunity to visit our live experience in a different manner,” says Zacky, on their virtual gig. “Ultimately fans from all over the world will be able to tune in one day and feel like they’re standing on stage with us, and we just want to be one of the first bands to help pioneer that. It still has a long way to go, but if you never take the first step, you’ll never get on with your journey.” On this current journey, they have a new member in tow, with Brooks Wackerman holding the fort on drums. “When Jimmy passed away it was a huge void in the band. The way that we’ve traditionally written music incorporating that
“ W E WA N T E D TO L E T FA N S H AV E T H E I R OWN OPINION ONCE AND FOR ALL.”
certain style of drumming - amongst obviously many, many other voids that were left - we had been searching for that. Mike Portnoy [Dream Theater] helped us get back on our feet, Arin [Ilejay] was a fantastic touring drummer and able to play everything and we adored him, but we were still missing the elements that we felt made us unique to our genre. “Drums are such an important part, the backbone of what we do, and having Brooks – his style is just so embedded in Southern Californian punk rock, which is what we grew up with and grew up into. He’s played with bands from Suicidal Tendencies to Bad Religion to Infectious Grooves, and that’s what we were missing. The Rev had a unique style that was influenced by Southern Californian punk rock, Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies, and to get one of the guys that comes from where we come from and grew up with what we grew up with, and played on albums that inspired us was a natural fit.” It really is a natural fit, and one that plays the 6 upsetmagazine.com
perfect backdrop to their scientific exploration. “We have a lot of time to have conversations, and we’re always talking about stuff that’s exciting, what’s happening in the world, what’s happening outside of the world, current events, history. I was sent a really interesting article about artificial intelligence and what some of the most brilliant minds on the planet think about it. “I sent it to Matt [Shadows, vocalist] purely out of natural curiosity to see what he thought and it really resonated with him, and inspired him lyrically. So we’ve covered a lot of topics and in the pursuit of knowledge, falling down different rabbit holes and learning about all sorts of things in the making and it’s really, really interesting. “We have been diving into all sorts of books when we’re travelling. Matt was reading a book – Undeniable by Bill Nye – that explores our planet, evolution and scientific facts proving the idea, and I got the copy of and read it, and it really opens your eyes to a new way of thinking. When reading about any space
endeavours or scientific books, it will always lead you back to Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. None of us are scientists by any means, but it puts it into human perspective just how we fit into this universe and how small we really are, but how much we can effect. “The natural choice was then reaching out to Neil and asking if he would contribute something based off of the things that we’re discussing on the album. It adds a whole new level of maturity to it and takes it to a serious, hopeful tone at the end of the album. For us, it was purely about just doing something that we thought was cool in the hope that our fans would agree.” It’s all fair and well to be trying to revolutionise things and do cool things for fans, but – they have to admit – it was also a bit of a lark to mess with people in the build up. “It was awesome,” laughs Zacky. “It was us having a chance to have fun with our fans knowing that the result was going to benefit them more than anyone.” Their fans are always on their mind, and it’s no
surprise that the tour is something they’re equally careful in planning. “I’d like to keep it a surprise, but I will say it’s unbelievably ambitious. It’s something that’s certainly not to be missed. I know every band says that, but when it comes to our fans, we’re always looking to set the bar extremely high by anyone’s standards.” “We’ve been really fortunate to share our story with the UK from our humble beginnings,” muses Zacky. “Playing in front of clubs, in front of nobody, to headlining Download all without the help of any mainstream radio or television, which is a pretty incredible feat. I think our fans recognise and appreciate that and they can take a lot of responsibility in helping us take a style of music that’s often overlooked in the mainstream and giving it recognition. To come here first of anywhere in the world and showcase our new album and new production, it’s an honour.” P Avenged Sevenfold’s album ‘The Stage’ is out now. They’re currently touring the UK.
“THE WORLD IS SUCH A CRAZY PLACE” F RO M TAC K L I N G TO P I CS OT H E RS A RE A F R A I D TO S P E A K A BO U T, TO
C H A L L E N G I N G T H E M S E LV ES A N D C O N F RO N T I N G D E M O N S H E A D O N , N E W J E RS EY ’S PA L I SA D ES A RE A BA N D T H AT D O N ’ T M ESS A BO U T - AS D RU M M E R A A RO N ROSA E X P L A I N S .
How are you guys at the moment? Is the band in a good place? We are fantastic! Our new album ‘Palisades’ comes out on 20th January and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We’re headlining in the US right now playing for our wonderful fans and the shows have been amazing. So right now there’s nothing to complain about. There’s been a lot of noise about ‘the state of 2016’ of late - what’s your take on current events? Will 2017 be better? We try to stay out of politics as a band. The world is such a crazy place, in both great and horrific ways. Culturally, we try to spread positivity, hope and selfempowerment. Tomorrow can be better on individual and collective levels if every human does the right thing
by other human beings and the world we live in. Has the social climate impacted upon the band at all? It would be hard to deny that it has. Media coverage of the US Presidential elections was so intense this time around. Social media has become a fast-moving source of all news. Good and bad. All of those things have an impact on us as individuals and as a band. As a band we are very aware of certain issues such as ethnicity and race. So much of this was happening while we were writing and recording the new record. That is why we are so passionate about it. It is our way of, hopefully, creating change. Why go self-titled for this one? What does it bring that
your previous two didn’t? Each one of our albums was the best representation of Palisades at that time. With our self-titled however, we feel that over the course of time and experimenting with music we have finally come into our own and really defined what Palisades means to us. We talk about real things that happen in the world. Musically we have been pushed outside of our comfort zone and the result is an album that tested our musicianship as well as our songwriting. I honestly feel like we created a really strong and well written album that people will enjoy ten years from now. Where did you primarily draw inspiration from when writing? With this record we dug deep. We asked ourselves
what in the world needed to be said. What are people too afraid to talk about? ‘Aggression’ is a song about the Orlando Club Pulse shooting, as well as the state of our world. Our singer Lou [Miceli Jr.], would go off from time to time and soul search. He wrote down what he liked about himself, as well as what he did not like and then proceeded to write about how to deal with those negatives. There’s a lot of battling demons on this album. Are there any songs or moments on the record that particularly mean a lot to you? For me the songs ‘Let Down’ and ‘Personal’ mean a great deal. Musically I really enjoy the last epic part in ‘Through Hell’. When the full band kicks in after the chants, it never fails to make the hairs
on my body stand up. You’ve said before that you feel you’ve matured as a band - how is that reflected within your music? Does it change your approach at all? Within each record there are stories and messages that we try to communicate. In comparison to our last album, ‘Mind Games’, the music has just come together on a stronger level while the lyrics have become more self-aware and selfless at the same time. Personal experiences have impacted the writing and our approach to it as a band. If anything our approach has grown as we grow. The more we play and write, the further we will push
ourselves to do more than the last time. For this album we really took a step back from the electronic elements of the band and focused on the band side of things. How important do you feel it is for a band to evolve and take risks throughout their career? It is really important to evolve and take risks. And that’s a really hard thing to do sometimes. There are always going to be fans that want more of the same. I would also like to think that there are more fans out there that want to be part of the evolution of the band. If we don’t push ourselves and take risks, then we would not be being true to ourselves and would
become complacent with ourselves as artists. That would be a boring place to be and suck the passion out of this for us. We are 100% at peace with living with the results of our best efforts at any given point. Are there any bands you particularly admire for doing so? Bring Me The Horizon has done a damn fine job of being who they are and not giving a damn. They broke down walls along the way to allow other bands within the scene to have greater opportunities than existed before. They did it right. P Palisades’ self-titled album is out 20th January.
AGAINST ME!, BEARTOOTH, TONIGHT ALIVE + MORE FOR SLAM DUNK ‘17 Slam Dunk has announced another huge batch of line-up additions.
Beartooth, Tonight Alive, Against Me!, The Bronx, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies, The Movielife, Trophy Eyes and Like Pacific will all play the three-legged festival this coming May Bank Holiday weekend. “It’s been four long years,” exclaims Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall. “We can’t wait to reunite and play for you this May. The UK always brings some of the best shows and we know this time won’t be any different!” Previously announced acts include Enter Shikari, Don Broco, Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Cute Is What We Aim For and We The Kings. Kicking off in Birmingham on Saturday 27th May, the festival will travel to Leeds on Sunday 28th May before finishing up in Hatfield on Monday 29th May.
RIOT “WE DECIDED TO THROW OUT ALL OUR OWN RULES.”
JAPANDROIDS - WITHOUT LIMITS
G ET RE A DY, JA PA N D RO I DS A RE BAC K W I T H A T Y P I CA L LY E X P LOS I V E N E W REC O RD. WO RDS : ST EV E N LO F T I N .
ith 2009 debut ‘PostNothing’ and 2012 follow-up ‘Celebration Rock’, Japandroids captured an elusive resonance; that rawness that makes raucous rock music a passion for so many. Then, in 2013, the band announced they were going to take a break. The world was unsure if it would ever see another album from them again. Which brings us to now: a surprise new tour, and a new album to boot. Their unexpected live stint at the end of 2016 included their first European date in three years, at London’s Birthdays; a show which, judging by the footprints on the ceiling, perfectly summed up the excitement felt by fans. During their set, they introduce the crowd to several new cuts. Each starts its own fire - but it’s lead single and album title track ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ that causes everything to erupt. It’s the perfect comeback track: personal, and in essence summarising the journey of
Japandroids up to this point. “The idea behind the song is leaving home, going somewhere else out into the world,” explains singer/ guitarist Brian King. “To do something else, and being fearful or unsure about it but at the same time very excited. I think that’s a concept that’s pretty universal, the idea behind it is something that I feel a lot of people can identify with.” The album itself is filled with earnest and rousing tracks. “Hopefully it’s the record they don’t know they want,” laughs Brian. The band’s core fans have an almost religious devotion. “We feel a real sense of duty and loyalty to those fans,” he continues. “It’s pretty special to have people who identify with your music, so there’s a lot of expectations for this record.” The connection they feel with fans is apparent in ‘Near To The Wild...’. “You called out to me / I sang back to you / and all I remember was the sound baby / of all hell breaking
loose,” Brian sings. It’s a supremely personal relationship. “Trying to create the sense that you’re at a show and that energy and vibe, when we started the band, that’s all we were really trying to achieve,” he explains. “To some extent, I felt we achieved that with our last record.” ‘Celebration Rock’ left the band at something of an impasse, not wanting to run the risk of sticking to that same formula. “Previously, we just had a way of doing things that was trying to achieve the record that we were always trying to make,” says Brian. “We decided to throw out all our own rules this time… once we removed all those limitations we had placed on ourselves, it was an infinite path to walk down.” Taking a break to record the new album was inevitable; the band had found themselves at the point of burning out. “Things never really stopped between ‘Post Nothing’ and ‘Celebration Rock’,” drummer David Prowse recalls. “It kind of kept rolling and rolling and we kept touring,
so that was part of the reason we had a break; to stop, decompress and think about where we’re going to go from here.” “One thing that a break allows you to do is become excited again,” continues Brian, “which transfers through everything you do.” It’s certainly prevalent in ‘Near To The Wild Heart…’. “It was time to write about something that occurred in the past,” he continues on the album’s influences, particularly its namesake. “There’s something about that song that also seemed to sum up the spirit of the record as a whole, which is why we named the album after it.” This is Japandroids’ comeback, the moment they strike to resurrect what was built back in 2012 and take it further, as Brian asserts: “I think of it like the start of the next chapter; that’s a very cliché way of saying it, but it’s like the next phase.” P Japandroids’ album ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ is out 27th January.
THE DEBUT ALBUM OUT NOW FEATURING "STUPID FOR YOU" & “ROYAL”
ON TOUR IN UK WITH ALL TIME LOW AND SWMRS 10 TH - 30 TH MARCH
LEMON FRESH L E E DS D U O M E N AC E B E AC H M A K E WO N D E RF U L LY SC U Z Z Y A LT- RO C K . FO L LOW I N G T H E I R W H I RLW I N D D E BU T, S EC O N D A L BU M ‘ L E M O N M E M O RY ’ S E ES T H E M M O RE ASS U RE D T H A N EV E R B E FO RE . WO RDS : SA M TAY LO R . P H OTO : DA N N Y PAY N E .
Hey Ryan, what’ve you guys been up to since your debut? Are you the same band now as you were when you made ‘Ratworld’? In some ways yes, but in most ways no. The time around recording this album is the first chance we’ve had to stop and think about what we want to do creatively now that we’ve accepted that this is more of a full-time prospect than we first imagined. The first couple of years of Menace Beach was a bit like learning the shot-put in the stadium at the Olympic games; we recorded the first songs I’d ever written just for a laugh, or like a thing to do when we moved to Leeds. A week after that it had been passed on to Too Pure and we had a release, then maybe three weeks after that we’d got booked to do a BBC 6music session, and maybe another three weeks after that we signed a record deal. That was before we’d even done a show together, so we felt on the back foot from the get-go. I’m obviously really grateful for all that stuff, but it’s been really important to have nearly a year just doing nothing but resetting. I feel like I get it all now. When did you start working on ‘Lemon Memory’, and where did you find yourself writing for this one? ‘Give Blood’ was in Ibiza, wasn’t it? Yeah, Liza [Violet] and I found a girl out there with an apartment that had a few instruments included, so we took a laptop and did some
writing and super basic recordings. We wrote the bulk of the record in Formentera which is a tiny island just below Ibiza that was a regular stop on a 60s hippy trail. Bob Dylan lived in a windmill there in the late sixties and Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin were there around the same time. We only found all this stuff out while we were there from an English couple that had moved there in 1963 for similar reasons to those guys, and after that I got well stuck into the history of the place. There are still a fair few creative communities out there and the place has somehow retained that open and relaxed spirit.
“I FEEL LIKE I GET IT ALL N O W. ”
Did you learn anything new during the record’s creation? I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot about the industrial, social and musical history of Sheffield from Ross [Orton, producer] he loves that place. I learnt that it’s really good when you just give shit up to people and let them run with it when they have a strong idea that maybe you just don’t get at first. I learnt that it’s hard when you are doing creative stuff and you want people to understand your ideas and get it, but sometimes it’s
okay when people go ‘Yeah I get this, but don’t like it’. I learnt that you just have to show yourself and then if they don’t like it then maybe just doing the process and the work is the destination, and then next time it’s different. A lot of bands say they want their music to be “honest”, what’s your take on that? I have a constant back and forth with this, but for me, I think people can tell when it’s for real, or coming from a real place. But then I hate orthodoxy and I don’t necessarily only like that ‘honest’ stuff - some of my favourite songs are the most contrived things ever created. I mean most people start out just straight up copying their heroes, both musically and aesthetically, and then gradually you start just borrowing little tricks, and introducing your own ideas and then it hopefully just becomes a new thing. Fear is the main thing. You can tell when an artist has let the fear go; the fear of needing to seem cool and relevant and current, and they are just writing and creating whatever they feel, like “I’ve done my bit and now it’s up to you”. That fearlessness is always clear. 2016 felt quite bleak at times - did you find current or social events seeping into the record? Yes of course. I looked and I found no real answers apart from “I know this is a shitty time and I have a basic understanding of that, and this is where we are”. The record has
a lot of self-reflection and a strong sense of compassion for others, which was more important to me than ever this year. Writing and recording this record in 2016 threw out moments that stretched my imagination and made me look at things differently, and I hope that in turn, it could give others a similar sensation. Do you get more from listening to or creating music? I get the most from listening to it. I got a walkman for my seventh birthday and since then I’ve just had headphones on at every possible moment. I’ve listened to this record a lot since it’s been finished and I think because I wrote less of it I can enjoy it more just as a record that I feel less attached to, in a good way. Liza is the exact opposite, though, she enjoys the process of writing and recording with an almost workman-like approach, and then when it’s done she never ever listens to it, she just starts the next thing. Does the ‘Lemon Memory’ vinyl sleeve really smell of lemons? Whose idea was that? I think it was Ollie from our label [Memphis Industries] actually. He always says we veto all his great ideas so we gotta let him have a couple. I love it, but I just really hope it doesn’t smell like toilet cleaner. P Menace Beach’s album ‘Lemon Memory’ is out 20th January. 13
“IT’S GREAT THAT POP PUNK’S MAKING A COMEBACK.” How’s Liverpool treating you guys? Is it a good place to be a band? It’s been a bit quiet over the years but it’s getting better recently. We’re feeling a lot of love and we’re proud to based here - I think Liverpool are happy to have a new pop punk band. Hometown shows are our fave. You’ve been on the road a lot this year - do you have any particular highlights? Are there any anecdotes you can share? So, so many. Swifty has eaten just about everything under the sun, from cat food to mouldy bananas. The Neck Deep, Creeper tour was a special one as it was our first time out of the country and our first
time touring on a bus. It got messy. You’ve said much of the album is about a break up - do you think that’ll come back to haunt you when you’re having to sing these songs night after night? I’m pretty hard faced about it now. I think knowing that it means something different to the people singing back makes it easier. Do you find it easier to write about your own failings than other topics? Is that something you think will always inform your music? Yes 100% for now anyway. I don’t know what the future holds but so far that’s all I’ve felt, so it’s just what
comes out. Do you feel as though you have something to prove with your debut? Yes definitely, we’re obviously keen to make a good first impression and we’ve sat on it for so long to make sure that it’s right for everyone - we would definitely be disappointed if we don’t impress. What is it about pop punk that you love so much? I love how it’s honest and snotty, but it’s catchy at the same time. We know it’s not ground-breaking what we do, and that pop punk can come across as ‘generic’, but it’s relatable. Quite a few of the classic pop punk bands are back
with new albums at the moment - what do you make of the new Blink, Green Day and Sum 41 records? Have you checked them out? Yeah I’ve checked out Blink and Sum, not checked out Green Day yet, but it’s deffo on my list. I think it’s great that it’s making a comeback for nostalgia purposes and I think bands like Neck Deep will help new kids listen to the older bands too, so it’s all looking pretty healthy at the moment. How do you think the genre’s doing right now in terms of new talent? Who could still be around in ten or twenty years time? I think Neck Deep will probably stand the test of time. Creeper, if you want to count them under the banner at all, will also do big things with this album and probably have great careers. I think we’ll see it continue to evolve and blend in new styles. P WSTR’s debut album ‘Red, Green or Inbetween’ is out 20th January.
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“WE WANTED TO HAVE A FUN RECORD...”
h yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible,” Greg Barnett cries at the start of The Menzingers’ new album. Looking back on 2016, it’s hard to dispute this opening statement. But delivered in the middle of stadium-sized drum fills and gargantuan guitar riffs with no uncertain amount of melodrama, it feels less like a grievance and more like the long-awaited spark for something new. “It’s definitely a hyperbolic line,” singer and guitarist Tom May laughs. “That song is telling the story of what it’s like to grow up in this crazy life,” he describes. “It’s the track where we decided that we wanted to have a fun record, and just do whatever we wanted.” With the creation of their fifth album, the band have done exactly that. Throughout their decade-long existence, The Menzingers have carved out a niche that sits perfectly between heartfelt nostalgia and an excitement for the future. On their new album everything they have always excelled at hits overdrive, resulting in a record that offers as much catalyst for change as it does catharsis.
“At lot of the time it can kind of seem like using the theme of nostalgia as a piece of art is kind of a cheap way to draw deep emotions out of someone,” Tom carefully deliberates. “I think that through certain nostalgic emotions, and through contemplating your own past, is really the only way to understand who you are now and how to get forward.” “One of the ways for people to become more comfortable with themselves, and to become a better person in the future,” he continues, “is to deal with those things, to experience them with music, and to contemplate on them a bit.” With their music The Menzingers have created a vehicle for this contemplation, presented along addictive punk refrains to offer the most brazen form of release. For the band, through their long history they’ve come to view their music as “less of a commiseration and less of a push towards revelling or wallowing in the past, and more of a way to be hopeful and a way to push forwards to the present and the future.” As such, ‘After The Party’ makes no bones about addressing the doubts, uncertainties, and fears encountered in life, but instead uses an acknowledgement of them to power forward with an abundance of good will.
“Usually when we finish recording we’re relieved to be finally done, then we get to go home and watch something on Netflix or something,” Tom mocks. “This time we felt really invigorated to keep on working and moving forwards, in the band and in our lives.” This driving incentive towards the future is what’s made The Menzingers such a beloved band, and it’s never felt more prevalent than on their latest release. “We’re older now,” Tom chuckles of their evolving perspective. “It seems like the wisdom that comes with age is being able to look at time and the past, and start to learn things from it.” Pulling from everything experience has taught them, with ‘After The Party’ the group have created a world of their own making. Rooted in familiar places, incorporating familiar characters, that world is at once insular and universally accessible. “There are definitely some cheeky lines that only the person who was directly involved in real life will pick up on,” the guitarist grins. “We draw from our personal lives. We also draw from the art of others, from books, and from the experiences as humans in general. Hopefully, it’s a good balance of both.”
C U LT F AV O U R I T E S T H E M E N Z I N G E R S A R E B R E A K I N G T H R O U G H . WO RDS : J ESS I CA G O O D M A N .
Referencing the work of Jack Kerouac, and name-checking the likes of “Julie from The Wonder Bar” the record is laced with an innately recognisable sense of character. “The familiarity of the idea that the person singing is using a name or using something specific brings a reliability to anybody who’s listening to it,” Tom explains. “Personifying it to that point cuts a little deeper than just ‘oh, I met a girl...’ or ‘oh, I met a guy...’ or whatever. I think you get a much better story told when you go that way.”
relatable and accessible, more people of varying demographics have started to like our music,” he conveys. “It’s a huge and interesting change,” he comments. “It never gets old.”
It’s an upwards momentum that’s showing no signs of slowing. The group’s “WRITING focus, however, remains fully on their creativity. IS A “Our motivations have always circled wanting W AY O F to write music,” Tom describes. “It’s one of the LIVING.” only things that’s felt good for our whole lives. But now writing is a way of living. It’s been an interesting evolving process.”
Built from the blocks of their life learnings, ‘After The Party’ looks set to be the album that projects The Menzingers from cult heroes. “It used to just be sweaty, angry, twenty-year-old men – those were pretty much the only people who listened to our music for quite some time,” Tom laughs. “Now that we’ve gotten older and the songs have changed, becoming more
With ‘After The Party’, The Menzingers are feeding off their resolution to create music brighter and bolder than ever before. The excitement they share is so vivid it’s tangible. “We haven’t been able to play all of the songs live yet, so we haven’t been able to see everyone’s reactions,” Tom divulges. “It’s sort of egotistical at this point to want the affirmation of your peers, but you want to prove to yourself that what you’re
doing is valued and worth something. It validates your life.” With a headline tour of the US alongside Jeff Rosenstock and Rozwell Kid, as well as a headline tour across the UK and Europe with The Flatliners ahead of them, that validation is right around the corner. “We’re excited and interested to see what other perspectives people are going to have on these songs that we don’t have already,” the musician enthuses. “That’s going to be the most exciting part.” It’s not just the anticipation of a new release that’s got the band brimming with excitement. “After that, we just want to consume music and art, and change ours, and just keep putting out more records,” Tom affirms. “I’m so excited after making this record I just want to write and record a new one.” Inspired to continue with their evolution, all The Menzingers really hope is that their music can offer that same conviction to others, along with “the sense of self and self-worth that they want to change their life for the better.” What’s holding you back? P The Menzingers’ album ‘After The Party’ is out 3rd February.
B R EAK
TH E H OT TEST
BANDS WITH SINGING DRUMMERS ARE GREAT, AREN’T THEY? MEET STEFANIE MANNAERTS FROM YOUR NEW FAVES, BRUTUS. WORDS: SAM TAYLOR.
“WE DECIDED TO TH ROW OUT ALL OUR OWN RULES.”
You guys recently signed with Hassle Records - how did that come about? We started to send out some early unproduced rough songs to several labels. Hassle were the ones who we instantly had a warm connection with. We came to London to play a show and we started to talk and work things out. We’re really blessed that there are people like Hassle, who believe in Brutus as much as we do. You were originally a Refused covers band, weren’t you? In fact, that’s not completely true. Only Peter [Mulders] and I met in this band. We wanted to honour [Refused’s] ’The Shape of Punk to Come’, one of the best punk albums ever made. And when the real Refused reunited we stopped the project, and Peter and I started a new band with Stijn [Vanhoegaerden]. We started from scratch as Brutus. What’s the dynamic like between the three of you? In our “official biography” we gently say that I love Slayer, Stijn loves Bruce Springsteen and Peter loves The Weeknd. That is true. But also, the fact is: I hate Bruce Springsteen and The Weeknd, Peter has never checked Slayer and Stijn loves everything. Building songs, lyrics, tracklists with the three of us being so different… it’s a struggle. We don’t do one “style” or “genre” or it’s not like one person is the boss in the band. We try to mix everything we like and what we are. I think that’s also the most honest thing to do when writing music as a band. But it’s not all fun and games that way. We all love each other and this thing called Brutus, but mixing all these things brings us to the edges of our friendship and even the band. Friendship has a dark side when you can’t detach, but is beautiful when you are able to create a song or an album, good enough to show the world. What do you most enjoy writing about? Are lyrics important to you? The first priority is the music. I believe that with music, you can reach and dig deeper into the skin and soul then any word. Words can confirm a feeling but the music reaches where words fall short. There are also bands where the lyrics are their most powerful feature, but for us it’s definitely the music. Creating our own songs, that is hard work. It takes a lot and absorbs all of our energy to make it work. It always has to be the best version of anything. It always has to be your best song so far. That’s not easy.
What’s it like to be an upcoming band in Belgium? Is it a good community to be part of? For a band, Belgium is great! It’s almost like one big city, one big community. There are a lot of opportunities in the bigger cities like Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven, Liege... but there are also a lot of cool bands coming from the countryside. In our first two years, we played 100 shows, only in Belgium, almost all different venues and places! For an upcoming band, it’s pretty good here. There is also a lot of friendship and respect between bands, one big family! The band decamped to Vancouver, Canada to record ‘Burst’ - that’s quite a trek. How long did you spend over there? We wanted to get out of Belgium to record our first album, just the three of us. And when we did the math, it wasn’t even that much more expensive. We also used it as a little bit of a holiday. We were there for a month. Two weeks of recording and mixing the album and ten days of absolute chilling and quality time with each other and Jesse Gander, who recorded the album. Great guy. He is pure gold. He works really hard and fast, he laughed along with all of our jokes, and he made us sound the best we have ever sounded! It was great! What was the best thing you learnt during your sessions there? That we are pretty strong as a threesome. I mean, we’ve survived this album and we lived together for a month, just the three of us. Now we know: we can go on tour with just us and it would be great. We also learned a lot about our sound and how to bring it to record. With Brutus, we had never worked on a professional level like we did in Rain City Recorders. Did you get to go sightseeing at all? Yes. The ocean is close and we even walked through snow in the mountains. Good times! And about Vancouver: What. A. Great. City! That city can teach a lot of other cities a huge lesson about multiculturalism and living together with a lot of different people, in peace and harmony. Oh, and all the food is super cheap and super nice. We had the best trip - and food-guide
JULIEN BAKER TO PLAY UK SHOWS Julien Baker returns to the UK in June for two shows: London’s Bush Hall (5th), and Manchester’s Deaf Institute (6th). The announcement comes alongside her signing to Matador Records who rerelease her debut ‘Sprained Ankle’ on 17th March.
SHEER MAG TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM Rejoice, Sheer Mag will definitely, 100% be releasing their long-awaited debut album later this year. To play catch-up, ‘Compilation’ - a collection of three EPs - will be released in March.
ever: Jesse Gander himself. This guy is hilarious. He is this great sound engineer and mixer and at the same time he totally missed his call as the best trip advisor ever. When he comes to Belgium next year, I am sure he will know more about our hometown than we do. Maybe we can teach him a little bit about drinking beer? What are you guys up to after the album’s release? You’ve a few dates in the UK next year? Yes, we end our tour in the UK and we are really stoked to play there. For me the UK means Hassle Records. I don’t know why. It is just a country where a few people believed in this crazy little Belgium band called Brutus. So every time we play there, it is a bit like coming home. Besides that, I hope we could play as much as possible. The way I live my life is all for music. I have part time jobs just to sustain this musician life. It is hard sometimes but I think it is harder to live without a passion. P Brutus’ debut album ‘Burst’ is out 24th February.
IT’S TIME FOR THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM RUGBY-BASED HARDCORE NEWCOMERS, WARS. WORDS: SAM TAYLOR
Hello wars vocalist Rob Vicars, when did you first know you wanted to make music? It almost feels inherent; I think after a certain amount of time you can’t imagine ever not having wanted to make music. But I’d say the school environment probably nurtured that obsession more than anything, as it was such an important part of the subculture; it was a passion that really set you apart in some ways, something that, perhaps more so than today, defined you. And how did you get together with the other guys from wars? Did you all know what you wanted the band to be right from the beginning? Yeah actually, there was a real sense of purpose when we started wars. Having played in different bands prior to coming together to start this, we had the time to think about what we wanted to create and what we wanted to say. Fortunately playing in bands puts you in touch with lots of other people playing bands, but some of us have grown up together as well. When was your first break? What made you think, ‘We can do this’? I don’t think you can ever really not think that. If you don’t have a bit of 20 upsetmagazine.com
constant, uncompromising belief, at least in your music itself, that you can take this as far as you want it to go, then you’ll never get there. The reaction to our first EP was really amazing, though, and being so proud of what we’d made as well pushed us on to do the album. Has it been a tough road to your debut? In some ways entirely; it’s one of those processes we’ve never been through before as individuals, so there was a big learning curve going from recording smaller releases to a full-blown chunky ten track. Financially too it was tricky, as one EP straight into an album is a big jump, and we’re a young band trying to get out on the road, hold down jobs so we can live, and are tackling all the money strains that come with those things as well. But our want and need to do it was always pretty clear; the EP felt like the prologue to this body of work, so I’m still indescribably excited that we managed to get it done. What can you tell us about ‘We Are Islands, After All’? The record covers a lot of personal philosophies and ideas and concepts that we really wanted to start writing and talking about as soon as we became a band. In some ways, the
band was formed on these ideas, and they’re touched upon in the EP and expanded on on the album. It’s a bit existential in places, quite bleak and introspective, and really contains this kind of culmination of a lot of thinking. It’s a cathartic record. Did you achieve everything with the record that you wanted to? Musically and lyrically? Absolutely. As I said, it really is a culmination of everything we have been thinking and writing about so far, something that will lead us straight onto the next one too. As far as our ambitions and careers and hopes and dreams go, we’ll have to wait and see. What else are you guys up to this year? Do you have big plans? There’ll be more music. The album drops on the 27th, then it’s hit the road and tour ’til our knuckles bleed. Is there anything else you’d like to have done come the end of 2017? There are lots things we’d love to have done by the end of 2017, many we just might do, and many more that we’ll keep working our way toward. P wars’ debut album ‘We Are Islands, After All’ is out 27th January.
PARIS-BASED AND JUMANJI-INSPIRED PÆRISH HAVE JUST RELEASED THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, ‘SEMI FINALISTS’.
hey say good things come to those who wait. For French quartet Pærish, that’s certainly true. Their debut album ‘Semi Finalists’ may be new to the world, but for everyone involved, it’s been a long time coming. After successfully crowdfunding with French platform KissKissBankBank, it took another few years for the album to finally be released. “We recorded these songs two years ago, but most of them are way older than that. It’s strange, because we played them live for years, and now people are finally hearing the studio versions years later - we didn’t really know what to expect anymore,” relates frontman Mathias Court. “We went into this completely unsure, and we’re really surprised the album got such a warm welcome.” Prior to the album, Pærish were known
WORDS: ALMA RODA-GIL
by their peers as Crackity Flynn, and started recording under that same name; however, as Mathias recalls, it wasn’t meant to happen that way. “We asked Vince Ratti, who did the mixing on our album, to send it around to his contacts and when they got back to him, they all had the same feedback: they loved the songs, but they were unanimous that the name wasn’t cutting it.” So in reference to Jumanji character Alan Parrish, they became Pærish, and ‘Semi Finalists’ was ready. At the core of their grunge-tinted indie rock is a deeply personal relationship with these songs. “We’ve got friends who knew these songs under their old names and listened to them here and there over the years,” says Mathias. “For me, this album is a flashback of sorts spanning years; the closing track is a song we played at our first show ever, which would be about six years ago! It’s kind of a mix between old and new: the three or four singles we’re in
the process of releasing are the most recent songs, but the album looks back on who we were as students when we met in film school, and it sees us come of age too.” And despite the fact that some of these songs are among the first the band ever wrote, they don’t lack substance and potential; their sound gets onto a whole new level as their songs explode into anthem-like choruses. Pærish have something more. Like Biffy Clyro at their best, imagining their songs with a big live set up isn’t hard at all. “I think what we’ll write in the future and what I’m already writing will be much quicker for us,” outlines Mathias, “and will reflect who we are now.” Overall, things are looking good. It’d be foolish to sleep on this lot. P Pærish’s debut album ‘Semi Finalists’ is out now.
‘A L L T H ES E E W A L BU M ITH THEIR N W . K D. C RL O BA W D EDGE AN D OW N T H E E E N TO T H E C K TO FA C E N A H AV E B T H EY ’ RE BA D E A F H AVA S N I G H TS ’, ES L . T N U O C I L S M I T H I ES P H OT OS : P H I SHUTLER. W O RD S . A L
ll These Countless Nights’ ends with James Veck-Gilodi wondering if his name is still written on a wall in a bar in Pensacola. It’s a small question in the grand scheme of things, but it’s very human. With Deaf Havana, the little things matter the most. The band have had a long time to reflect on all the things they’ve done, to try and make sense of it all and to get wistful. They have been gone for a long time, after all. And as much as album number four, part comeback, part next-step, wallows in their past, it’s a record that lays it to rest. Or at least tries to. ‘All These Countless Nights’ is “basically a long list of things I’ve done wrong and want to make amends for,” explains James. Opening track ‘Ashes, Ashes’ is out the door with one last look back, all driving determination and hopeful escape, as the band “lay to rest that previous chapter. As basic as it sounds, it’s the end of a period that wasn’t particularly great and the start of probably the best one yet,” explains James, standing somewhere between hope and knowing. He’s quick to criticise himself, calling his songs simple or saying that certain lyrics aren’t the best. He’s honest about the process, happy to explain he doesn’t know why certain things have ended up the way they have and is reluctant to look too closely at what’s yet to happen. He figures fans have stuck around for his band because they’re “nice people who enjoy our music”, and is very appreciative of that fact. Deaf Havana have been a part of the fabric of bands who have defined the past decade of British rock, but they’ve always been on the outside. While others have played with hyperbole, evolution and swagger, James et al have stood back and let their music do the talking. It almost cost them everything but now the band are back from the brink, and they’re not simply waiting for things to happen anymore.
eaf Havana ended their previous chapter at the end of 2014 with main stage performances at Reading & Leeds alongside a lengthy headline run across the UK. It should have been a victory lap for a band who’ve never
invested in anything but their own music and let it speak accordingly, but things rarely work out how you plan them. Behind the scenes, Deaf Havana were at the end of their tether. They were done. “I wasn’t even remotely thinking about writing a new Deaf Havana album at the end of 2014,” admits James. “I was sick of it. I didn’t think there was going to be another one. It went weird for a bit; we didn’t lose contact, but we went through a period where we didn’t do anything. We didn’t play shows; we didn’t write music, and we didn’t hang out.” For a band who’ve been playing together since they left school and have known each for even longer, it was a bizarre situation. “We never actually officially said we weren’t going to stay together or we were going to get back together, we just drifted apart.” Weeks turned into months before James wrote a couple of songs that were too heavy for his solo project. He sent one through to the rest of the band, Lee Wilson, Tom Ogden, Matthew Veck-Gilodi and Max Britton, and “didn’t expect any replies. ‘I’ve written this song, see what you think. It probably sounds shit’,” he explained. “But they all emailed back immediately, ‘Let’s get back together, let’s play’. It snowballed from there and ended up here, which I’m really happy about.” There was no catch-up after the break, no exploration or explanation about what they’d been up to or who they’d become in their months apart. Ask James what the rest of the band got up to, and he doesn’t know. He doesn’t need to. Deaf Havana know who they are around each other. They find sense in one another. ‘All These Countless Nights’ makes the same discovery. “What kept us together was probably the fact we spent time apart and realised that we enjoyed hanging out with each other. I released a solo album and toured [alongside Max]; it was fun and easy, but I missed having the band there. Not only to talk to and have a laugh with, but I missed having that musical foundation behind me. I missed the guitar; I missed the drums, it all stemmed from that. I think we needed to fall apart to come back together because now it’s stronger than ever, which is weird.” Dealing with beginnings and ends, ‘All These Countless Nights’ seeks out a sort of closure and Deaf Havana live it.
Announced during their set at Reading last year - not just because it was one of the few gigs the band would play that summer, and it was in front of the biggest audience - but because “it was sorta the anniversary of when we almost broke up.” Deaf Havana find poetry in the everyday. “We wanted to announce it, but we didn’t want to be boring and do what we normally do and post on Facebook or whatever,” explains James. Taking inspiration from the front cover of comeback stormer ‘Sing’, the band joked about playing in front of a blank canvas before someone came and graffitied the title onto the backdrop. Jokes quickly turned into plans and “it actually worked out way better than we thought it would. It’s weird for us when stuff like that goes well because normally it goes wrong.” Luckily there were no missing ‘o’s. “That was my biggest fear. Can this person actually spell? Because that would have been horrendous.” “We were playing around with a bunch of titles for a while and ‘All These Countless Nights’ [taken from ‘Happiness’] is one of the ones that probably had the least thought put into it. In the vaguest, lamest way ‘All These Countless Nights’ sums up every single song on this record. As vague and basic as it sounds, they were all written about countless nights I can barely remember. Inspiring both hope for the future and a resignation of the inevitable, the title and the record tells both sides of the story in lush, horrid and rainbow-drenched detail. From the self-disgust of ‘L.O.V.E’ and the destructive misery of ‘Happiness’ that both deal in the opposite of what they promise, to the endurance of ‘Like A Ghost’ and the fight back of ‘Sing’, all swagger and curled lips, Deaf Havana don’t hold anything back. Nervous before showing anything off and still a bit anxious before giving it over to the world outside, James doesn’t let that stop his pride. “I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” After debating his nerves for a few moments, he comes back with: “No, I’m quietly confident, to be honest.” More diverse and taking in more stops than anything the band have previously put their name to, their fourth album sees Deaf Havana stretch like never before. Everyone likes to mix their drinks, but it’s not a deliberate move. The band have never
been ones to try and please other people. Instead, they write what they write and let it happen. It’s how ‘Old Souls’ and ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ came to be, and ‘All These Countless Nights’ is no different. They’ve never followed trends. “We probably should have done,” laughs James. “We are outsiders in a way, but we have been from the start.” The breadth is “purely because it was written so naturally over a period of three years. I was in a different head space and a different geographical location. All the songs have different influences. That’s where the diversity comes from, and it’s a much better record for it. “The danger in that is that none of the songs will fit together and it won’t sound like an album but somehow, it does flow. I’m really happy about that. It could have gone differently.” That’s the Deaf Havana story, really. And while the spirit of doing their own thing and not paying attention to trends is the same as always, getting to ‘All These Countless Nights’ was completely different. “Normally the studio time is booked before I’ve even written a record, or it has been for the past two albums, so I have to rush and write songs in a month-long period. For ‘Old Souls’ we had exactly twelve songs, which isn’t particularly good. This time, because it was such a long time and such a natural writing process and I didn’t even know if we were going to use them, I ended up with this whole bank of songs, which is a nice problem to have. You can just pick the best ones. We spent a lot of time working out which ones fit together.” Flirting with politics and religion against a backdrop of James’ life, ‘All These Countless Nights’ is a more aware, eyes-open record. “I was going to say I ran out of things to write about, but I guess I’ve just grown up a lot. I think differently now; I’m not as obsessed with depressing stuff. I realised there are bigger things. The songs on this record just came out naturally, I didn’t sit down and think, right, I’m going to write a song about blah blah blah. It was an organic process. Obviously, the songs are quite different because I wrote them in different states and different periods, but the overriding theme is trying to be a better person and acknowledging the things I’ve done wrong and the mistakes I’ve made in the past. When I listen to a record, I want to hear the
highest highs and the lowest points of someone’s life. I like to hear that vulnerability, and I want people to be able to relate to it as much as they can. I hope this record does that job. It should have been released two years ago, but it’s definitely the one. It’s the one,” James repeats before pausing. “If we hadn’t taken that time away, I don’t think it would have sounded like this. It probably would have been another rush to get ready and not end up sounding so diverse. I’m actually glad everything panned out the way it did.”
eaf Havana have always been a band for everyone. Open and to the point, they talk to people on the level and never try to raise their platform above yours. They’ve always dealt in honesty, but this time around, songs like ‘Fever’ or ‘L.O.V.E.’ have an almost voyeuristic intrusion to them. “Sometimes I just have to write a song. That sounds like a pretentious thing to say, but sometimes it just comes out. ‘Happiness’ and ‘L.O.V.E.’ just came out of nowhere. I want to share them with people for the same reason that I listen to music when I feel like shit, or when I feel amazing. You want to, especially in those low points, you want to know that you’re not the only person that’s ever felt like that or the only person who’s ever done something. I want to connect with other people. I do write very openly, so it’s not that open to interpretation because it’s pretty direct with what it says, but I want this album to do everything. I want it to make people laugh, cry, and let them know that as an overall thing, we’re not going anywhere. We feel this is our strongest thing yet.” Finding the romance in every day, they’re not ones to glamorise or hype their own world. While others try to maintain the mystery of being in a band, Deaf Havana hold open the door so you can see inside. “It’s nowhere near as glamorous as you think it is. You realise very quickly that backstage is just a bunch of dudes sat around on computers drinking Red Bull. It’s not as cool as it should be.” That open door admission goes for everything, and there’s no sugar coating or chaser with ‘All These Countless Nights’. ”I think it’s the only way I know how to write, to be honest. I would never write that it’s all glamour because it’s not. It’s almost
the opposite of that, but you do want to romanticise it a bit because that’s what makes good storytelling. I only really know how to write about myself. I don’t consciously think about the audience when I write because that would take my train of thought too far away from writing songs, and we’d end up with something that wasn’t as sincere. I guess I always thought that there’d be someone who feels the same way I do. So as long as I keep writing about that, I think people will be able to latch onto it and relate.” From falling in love with strangers on trains to struggling to keep flames alive, ‘All These Countless Nights’ offers a comforting reflection. “I constantly need reassurance that I’m not alone and not really weird, so that’s what I want people to take away.” Despite their tendency to shy away from vocal self-belief, there’s a confidence to ‘All These Countless Nights’. From the “good for fucking you” shrug of ‘Sing’ to the brazen and unashamed honesty that rages throughout, you can feel Deaf Havana’s self-assurance at every turn. “I’m glad that comes through,” shares James. “I wasn’t sure it would, but it’s the most confident we’ve ever been. It was the most prepared we’ve ever been; it’s the most together we’ve ever been. The experience was totally different to any record we’ve done before.” These flashes of confidence outside of the music are still cut with an uneasy reluctance. “Arrogance gets in the way,” reasons James. “I’ve just seen a lot of people that I wouldn’t want to be like. And also I want to tell it like it is, I’m not proclaiming to be a genius songwriter. It’s simple stuff; it just seems to work somehow.” The line between arrogance and confidence is a fine one. “When you’ve got people around you whispering in your ear that you’re going to be big and good things are coming, it’s very easy to cross over that line.” It’s not a concern for the band anymore, though. “We’ve had all that already. Luckily most things that can happen to a band have happened to us, so we’re very aware of everything now. Plus we all loathe ourselves too much to ever become arrogant.” James has always wanted to play music. “I never really wanted to be a singer but since I picked up a guitar when I was eleven or twelve, I’ve always wanted to write music, and I always have. The songs were terrible back then,” he grins. “We first started taking Deaf Havana seriously
probably as late as ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’. That was the moment I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I’m going to do now’. Even before that, when we had Ryan [Mellor, ex-vocalist] in the band and I was just the guitarist, I was only doing it because you got free beer, you could hang out with your mates, and it was a laugh. I didn’t care about the songs; they didn’t mean anything. They were just fun riffs to play, but when we wrote that album that turned it around really. It became a new band when Ryan left. We should have changed our name really because people still associate it with that old screamy stuff, but oh well.” It’s been a long time coming, with plenty of highs. “For me, recording this album because it’s this massive stepping stone, but there’s probably something more exciting than that. The weirdest thing is when we went to Australia, and there were 400 people there that knew all the words to all of our songs. That was a moment where I was like, what the hell is going on? That was pretty bizarre. That’s one of those things that turns it around. Even thinking back on it, it makes you realise that there things that are worth it. I don’t even know if it was real, I might have dreamt it. It’s that kinda strange.” There have been a few lows, too - and regrets. “We toured around America at the very start of 2014 and it was freezing cold, we did it in a van, we were driving twelve hours a day and we were playing to no one. We were there for five weeks, and it was so grim. We had no money, we couldn’t sleep, I lost my mind. I went insane. That was the lowest point. We should have changed our name,” he adds. “That’s been detrimental a bit; we should have changed it ages ago before we released ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’. There
are a lot of stupid decisions and things I’ve done, like being rude to certain people years ago. There’s a lot of things I feel bad about but nothing that’s affected us too much.” Enduring, Deaf Havana have finally made sense of it all. For now, anyway. “It’s taken this long to work it out, and even now, I’m not 100% sure. It’ll probably evolve into something different, but this is the surest I’ve ever been. It’s the most on-board I’ve ever been as well. I’ve always had one foot in, one foot out and I’ve always had something else on the backburner and thought this was something, not a stop-gap, but I always thought that I’d do something else as well. This is the first time I’ve been 100% committed to this. We have a plan, a direction for the first time. It’s pretty weird, but I like it.” It’s been a struggle. A real struggle. But against all the odds, Deaf Havana are somehow still here and still battling forward. Why? “Because I still love it. In truth, there are probably more lows than highs, but you can go through a year of shit, and this one amazing thing happens, and you forget about all the shit. I still do it because I love it more than anything and I’m terrible at everything else. “In the immediate future, we’re just going to make sure we do everything for this record properly. We’ll tour properly and do it like we should have done with the other records, and not just leave it to other people. Musically, though, I’m honestly not sure what’s next. We’re all in much more mature mental states now, so it’s a lot easier for us to think about things in a more logical way, and it’s a refreshing thing. I almost feel like when I first started this band again, which is weird. I never thought it would happen. It was
getting stale for a while. “It’s so bizarre because even a year ago I wasn’t sure we were going to do anything. I’m so proud of this record, and hopefully, it’ll do what it needs to do, but who am I to say? This is make or break because it was so close to ending. We worked so hard on this record, and we put all our energy and creativity we had into it. It’s a big thing for us. It’s kind of a comeback album, but it’s also if this one doesn’t work I’m not sure what we’re going to do after this. This album means almost everything to us right now.” Maybe their names have disappeared from bar walls, but Deaf Havana are back to make sure it’s not for long. It’s the little things that matter most, but that isn’t stopping them from flirting with big. After all those countless fights, Deaf Havana might finally have a victory on their hands. P Deaf Havana’s album ‘All These Countless Nights’ is out 27th January.
O N E O F T H E M OST RE V E RE D M E N I N RO C K I S BAC K : P RE PA RE YO U RS E L F FO R F R A N K CA RT E R’S L AT EST RI OT, ‘ M O D E RN RU I N ’. WO RDS : DA N N Y R A N D O N
ggression is an energy that Frank Carter has channelled unrelentingly for the best part of 12 years. Whether you loved or loathed his post-Gallows stab at ballsy rock’n’roll that was Pure Love, there’s no denying Frank’s rebirth under the Rattlesnakes moniker took a red-hot poker and branded the words ‘I’m still fucking angry’ into the backs of his critics. But just when you thought Frank couldn’t get more personal than 2015’s ‘Blossom’ – the incendiary soundtrack to a man ripping himself apart limb-by-limb before reconstructing himself into a more formidable being – its follow-up, ‘Modern Ruin’, is more like the soundtrack to emptying a
salt shaker on his still-fresh wounds. “I’m incredibly proud of the record,” Frank gushes of the band’s second full-length, which they’ve been sat on for the entirety of 2016. “I think it’s the natural progression and the perfect next step for the Rattlesnakes, and I’m now just really eager and quite desperate for people to hear it. “It’s a very considered record,” he continues. “It’s got a lot of layers, it’s very complicated in parts, and it’s got a depth and vibrancy to it like nothing I’ve ever made before.
unexpectedly tore through their ears, it’s the swaggering, stadium rock potential of ‘Real Life’ and the Radiohead-esque synthetic twang of album closer ‘Neon Rust’ that will really throw Frank’s fans off-balance. “The plan with the Rattlesnakes was always to make an immediate platform that was big enough to hold my fucking wild, reckless dreams,” says Frank, who wrote ‘Modern Ruin’ just weeks after the release of its predecessor.
“If I was going to compare it to anything...” He pauses for a rare moment of hesitation. “You know what, I’m not going to even do that because it’s completely different, and I think it’s definitively my best work.”
“We wanted to make an instant platform that was like a moment captured in time but was also believable and relatable to our fans. When they hear the record, it is a change in direction; it’s not as aggressive in sound, but if you read the lyrics, it’s still very aggressive.
The infusions of greasy desert-rock and pulsating post-punk into the first teasings of ‘Modern Ruin’ – ‘Snake Eyes’, ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Wild Flowers’ – are simply that: teasings. Even after the vitriolic carnage of ‘Blossom’
“Life is about ebb and flow, it’s about being up one day and being down the next, and I wanted a record that could convey the complexity and the intricacies of modern relationships. It’s not easy, it’s a lot of work, but 31
they’re incredibly satisfying when they’re right, and they can be utterly devastating when they go wrong. For me, it was important to start talking about that.”
the record and said that it needs to sound like fucking midnight and black velvet and that it needs to be deep and sexy, and she was like ‘…Okay, I’ve got it, say no more’.”
None of Frank’s previous works – not even Pure Love’s polarising sole record, ‘Anthems’ – have shown nearly as many dimensions to the red-headed bastion of British punk rock as ‘Modern Ruin’ does.
So did the younger artists in Catherine’s roster set a precedent for ‘Modern Ruin’ to strive for success at a commercial level? “I think Catherine added just enough of what was missing, but she didn’t run away with it. The album is still raw, and it still has power to it, but it’s refined, and it’s just the perfect musical presentation of how I’m feeling right now.”
That said, there’s still plenty of moments throughout the record where Frank – backed by guitarist Dean Richardson, bassist Tom Barclay and drummer Gareth Grover – will grab anyone that thinks this is ‘Pure Love Vol. II’ by the collar, and slap them around the chops. The blink-andyou’ll-miss-it flurry of ‘Jackals’ clocks in at barely a minute long, while Frank hails the title track as “one of the best hardcore songs I’ve ever written” – and rightly so with its suspenseful, swelling build-up to a devastating finale. “It’s important for people to know that this record doesn’t erase anything in my past, it just adds to it,” Frank explains when asked about what apprehensions he had about ‘Modern Ruin’’s sonic expansion (Read: ‘none whatsoever’). “I am a complicated man, I like a lot of fucking things, and I want the freedom to be able to do all of them. If people can give that to me, then they’re going to get a very honest, passionate, fierce fucking artist who will work for them until I’m fucking dead.” Hitting the studio just four months after unleashing ‘Blossom’, the Rattlesnakes turned to now exbass player Thomas Mitchener to immortalise their torrents of emotion in the studio. After feeling a “little bit burned out and too close” to the record, however, Frank felt it necessary to bring in a third party for the mixing process. This prompted an unlikely – but ultimately rewarding – collaboration with Catherine Marks, who has previously taken a seat behind the desk for the likes of PJ Harvey, Wolf Alice, Foals, and even The Killers. “I’m very visual in my descriptions, I can’t talk technically about music,” Frank admits, without a scrap of shame in his tone as ever. “I gave Catherine
Frank’s ongoing reinvention stretches far beyond what has been captured on ‘Modern Ruin’, from arty, borderline avant-garde music videos to the frontman’s dapper attire. The latter is something which is only going to increase in its intrigue and outright volume – upon giving a sneak peek of his wardrobe, even Frank confesses that he’s ‘getting a bit fucking carried away’ with his colourful suits. “I’m smarter now, and I’m enjoying performing in a different way,” he grins. “It’s a lot more exuberant and a lot more flamboyant, and it’s really fucking fun.” For a lot of people, seeing Frank back in their faces was a welcoming sign of reconciliation, but there’s only so much he can do in the notorious snake-pit before risking treading old ground and hindering progression. Calling his current onstage persona more ‘mature’ would undermine the urgent, chaotic vibes that are still integral to his razor-sharp delivery, but as the stages grow, so does Frank’s confidence as a performer beyond just diving head-first into the crowd and giving it both barrels. “I loved getting in the crowd so much, but what I never thought about was other people. I was only ever concerned about how I felt about it, and as soon as I get in the crowd it’s great for the fifty people in my immediate vicinity, but for everyone else, they can’t see me. “If I feel like I need to get down there and be among the people, I’ll be down there before you can say ‘mic lead’,” Frank chuckles. “But I think the music is good enough now, and because I’ve got fucking great musicians behind me, I love being up on stage.
“There’s a lot more of a performance on stage so that everybody is involved, not just those fifty people getting to touch me. That way you can connect with a lot more people, and within three songs you’ve got the whole room with you. “Put it this way: I’m letting the music do the talking now, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do my whole fucking life.” Proving his worth on Reading & Leeds’ main stages was one thing, but the challenges that 2017 brings – the release of ‘Modern Ruin’, the Rattlesnakes’ first foray into arenas with Biffy Clyro, and then the UK headline tour which is colossal in its own right – are what Frank’s metamorphosis into the most sensational showman in rock music really rests on. “It’s about embracing all of the sides of me that I was really insecure about and scared of, and giving people what I want to give them, not what they want,” Frank says, once again with that unfettered tone of sincerity. “I’ve spent my whole life giving people what they want, and what they actually want is to see my bleed. Frankly, I can’t do that for very long without getting burned out, so what I’m doing now is giving the people exactly what I want and what they’re getting in return is the most authentic version of me, which is fucking great.” P Frank Carter’s album ‘Modern Ruin’ is out 20th January.
“THIS “THIS RECORD RECORD DOESN’T DOESN’T ERASE ERASE ANYTHING ANYTHING IN IN MY MY PAST, PAST, IT IT JUST JUST ADDS ADDS TO TO IT.” IT.”
NOTHING TO HIDE N O I SY I N D I E RO C K E RS C LO U D N OT H I N G S A RE BAC K W I T H T H E I R M OST L I T E R AT E A L BU M Y ET – A N D VO CA L I ST DY L A N BA L D I I S A L RE A DY E X P ECT I N G A BAC K L AS H . SO RT O F… WO RDS : RO B M A I R
very time we make a record, usually the first song comes out and the response is ‘fuck this band’. There’s probably been some of that,” laughs Cloud Nothing’s deadpan vocalist Dylan Baldi. He is, of course, being somewhat disingenuous. ‘Modern Act’, the lead single off ‘Life Without Sound’, Cloud Nothings’ most ambitious album to date, is perhaps the most arresting song Baldi has put his name to. It’s certainly the most immediate, eschewing the raw and fuzzy guitars and half mumbled vocals of their early output in favour of a crisp indie rock sound that is as open and vast as the Midwest prairie they call home. Yet while it represents another positive step for a band on a constant upward trajectory, it’s the sort of song that might, initially, alienate long-time fans. “I like it when people are confused when we put out a record,” laughs Dylan. “All of our records sound pretty different from each other, and I feel this is continuing with that tradition. “It’s not like it’s a different band – it’s still us – but something is different each time, be it the lyrics, the songwriting or the production. When people hear that first single, their initial reaction isn’t always ‘yeah, I love this’.” This time around, the difference is more pronounced, with a stronger focus on more literal songwriting and a more considered sound to go with a serious tone. It’s a common trend – few bands shred the same four albums into their career as they did at the outset, especially if formed during the wild teenage years. Few have managed such transition as gracefully as Cloud Nothings, now completed by bassist TJ Duke, drummer Jayson Gerycz and newly-joined guitarist Chris Brown. Written over an 18 month period, and coming off the back of the collaborative ‘No Life For Me’ with Californian indie rockers Wavves, ‘Life Without Sound’ is the product of a tumultuous year in which Dylan relocated to Massachusetts in April 2015, and then returned to Cleveland when things didn’t work out.
“I found out I was completely alone there for a long time,” says Dylan. “I didn’t meet anyone the way I thought I would, so I was kinda lonely, writing this record about being lonely.” And this isolation is reflected in ‘Modern Act’. “I am alive, but I’m alone,” sings Dylan, putting his challenges into perspective. There’s much more to ‘Life Without Sound’ than Dylan complaining about poor choices or bad decisions. There’s an openness and appreciation of wider issues. “With the lyrics on this record, I say ‘I’ – and although it applies to all of our records, I especially mean it on this one even more so – all of the songs are pretty clearly autobiographical. The whole record is about coming out of my selfish, myopic shell and realising there’s a bigger world out there beyond my immediate problems. “This record isn’t so much about those problems, but it’s about that realisation.” It means ‘Life Without Sound’ feels much more settled and reflective, thanks in part to Dylan’s new-found confidence and desire to express himself, but also due to having little pressure on the group to put out an album to a set deadline. Although it was met with critical acclaim, the frantic ‘Here and Nowhere Else’ was very much the product of its circumstances, as is ‘Life Without Sound’. “We had more time, and when there’s more time there’s more time to make sure every song sounds like its own thing,” says Dylan. “On the record before this one [‘Here and Nowhere Else’], every song is similar in a way, and they all have one tempo, and the whole record goes by quickly. With this one, I wanted to make each song its own individual world. As a band we had a year and a half to get these songs sounding right, so we could let them naturally develop.” The group’s early output is also symptomatic of Dylan’s headspace; a representation of the whirlwind thoughts of a teenager and young adult processing the world around him. “I think the first half of my twenties – maybe even as long as this band has been going – I felt that I was freaking out a little bit,” he says. “I’d
be constantly wondering, ‘What am I doing? I don’t know if I can do this forever.’ “But at some point, I realised that things have been going for so long – and going fairly well – that I’m a little bit more comfortable in saying ‘This is what I do – I’m a musician’. So I think this record might be a response to that. I’m getting more comfortable with the path that I have chosen. “I mean, when the band started, I was studying saxophone, so my other path was probably working in Starbucks,” he laughs. “When you start this sort of thing, you don’t think ‘I’m gonna do this forever’. It’s insane even to think that. This was just a fun thing to do at the time because I didn’t want to go to college.” Now back in Cleveland, and after a further unsettled period - “I lived on my drummer’s couch for a month while I was figuring out what to do, then at another friend’s house for a bit” - it allowed Dylan to indulge in a little tradition of driving ‘round the neighbourhood and listening to records – including the mixes of ‘Life Without Sound’. “I listened to it once,” he laughs, a little sheepishly. “I like to drive around the city I grew up in, Cleveland, and this little suburb called Westlake, and I just listened to the record. “When I was growing up, and I got my driving licence, I’d buy all sorts of records – loads of CDs, all the time – and I’d just buy a bunch of them and drive around for hours and hours. I’d use my parents’ gas. “It was something I used to do all the time, so it was fun to do for this record – like some weird nostalgic thing.” What would he have done if he didn’t like the record, or decided he wanted to change something? “I guess it would have been weird if I didn’t like the record,” he considers. “I mean, by the point the record is mixed and that, and if I was driving around with it, I’d say it would probably be hard to change something. But so far it’s been okay. “I guess if I didn’t like it, I’d just drive the car off a cliff,” he laughs. P Cloud Nothings’ album ‘Life Without Sound’ is out 27th January.
hen it comes to delving into his band, Josh Franceschi has no problem opening up. You Me At Six have taken a year and a half to create what they consider “the record we had to make.” ‘Night People’ marks a natural evolution, he says, to avoid becoming “a pop-punk nostalgia thing.” “Now, I like to think we can get away with calling ourselves ‘artists’ or ‘songwriters’,” Josh continues, “because we’ve done five records, you know?” With laughter, he divulges: “We’ve needed the records and songs we’ve made in the past for us to be where we are today, for it all to make sense.
“I would not be naive enough to think that nobody’s written melodic rock music before and done a great job at it, but I don’t know if there’s a band right now who is doing what we’re doing with rock music.” It’s a bold statement, but there’s definitely some weight to this thought. “There are people doing interpretations of rock music across the board, but I don’t think there is anybody who’s challenging us. That leaves me to say that I don’t think there’s anybody who is doing just straight up melodic rock in the way that we are, and better than us. If they were, we wouldn’t have a place, and at the moment, we still have a place.” Occasionally labelled as “just” a poppunk band, You Me At Six are doing
everything they can to prove this isn’t the case. They know there’s a whole other world out there. From modest beginnings in small clubs, they’ve worked up to being able to tour arenas and support their friends’ bands at sold-out nights at the O2 Arena. Josh is keen to break through. “If I’m going to have one career in music, and it’s through You Me At Six, I don’t really want to taste one bit of the menu. There’s this whole other side of music that we don’t know anything about, be it the Mercury Award or Brit Awards or fucking Ivor Novellos; things that feel unattainable and unreachable.” While these prospects keep the fight going, where it all started, and why, is still the backbone behind it
NIGHT YO U M E AT S I X H AV E T H E I R S I G H TS F I RM LY S ET O N B RE A K I N G T H RO U G H TO T H E B I G G EST STAG ES O F A L L . W I L L ‘ N I G H T P EO P L E ’ B E T H E I R T I M E ? WO RDS . ST E V E N LO F T I N . P H OTOS : DA N K E N DA L L .
all. “Some people look back at their previous work with ‘oh I’d change that’ or ‘I regret this’ or whatever, but ultimately I think, everything you do as a musician… at the end of the day, I’ve never made it a secret that I want to be in my favourite band, and that’s kind of always been what You Me At Six has been a representation of.” Discussing the band’s new material, Josh talks about the tracks that are the backbone within ‘Night People’, the ones that fans are yet to hear. “I must’ve listened to ‘Brand New’ close to 4-500 times, it’s my favourite song that we’ve done in a long, long time. ‘Give’, ‘Brand New’, ‘Take On The World’, ‘Heavy Soul’, ‘Spell It Out’, those are the songs where I look at the record and go, ‘This is a way people haven’t heard You Me At Six before’. “I don’t believe we’ve got to the absolute pinnacle of what we can achieve, so we can’t rest on our laurels. There are five of us in You Me At Six, and we all write. In some bands, there’s one songwriter or two songwriters, and everyone else is passengers. With You Me At Six, everybody can write a fucking song, and everybody can play different instruments. We have a unique set up where we’re one of the bands who spilt everything five-ways, we always have, we always will.” The brotherhood of You Me At Six is as solid as the day they began, though this isn’t to say they haven’t had their fair share of issues. “I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been moments where there have been cracks in the foundation in difficult periods, but 38 upsetmagazine.com
there’s always been a mutual respect and love for one another that we’ve always wanted to make it work and we always have done.” Continuing with this revelation, Josh says: “A song like ‘Bite My Tongue’ doesn’t come from a place of bliss or harmony, it comes from a place of frustration, for lots of reasons. It’s not purely about my relationship with other people in the band, it’s about my relationship with, yes that, but also, people in general, people we were making the record with. I feel like that song has become one of the biggest reactions of when we play live. I think people do gravitate toward the songs that do have the most substance.” This substance is no doubt what has given You Me At Six their draw, which has lasted well over ten years now. “People know we’re not trying to fool them, we’re not trying to trick them into liking us, they’ll either like us or they won’t. We’ve always been quite happy with that idea, we’ve never tried to be something we’re not. We’ve never tried to be the cool kids or the dickheads or the fucking arseholes to the media, we’ve just been ourselves.” “I remember the moment we felt like we were driving forward, it was unexpected,” Josh says, referencing their earlier years. “We were actually coming through to prominence at the same time as Kids In Glass Houses. They were the ones who got signed to the major, a record deal with Roadrunner, they were the one dressed to the nines in their Fred Perry and their leather. On paper it was a done
deal. We were the scraggly, weird looking dudes with shit haircuts, Vans and wearing our mates’ bands t-shirts on stage, and just sort of did our thing and people came towards it. “‘Smart Casual’, their first record, against [You Me At Six debut] ‘Take Off Your Colours’ - it’s a no-brainer which one is the better record; it’s theirs by a country mile, but for whatever reason, people got us and they got the songs. Maybe ‘Smart Casual’ was too clever for people, I don’t know. I don’t understand why it wasn’t bigger than it was.” The fact that You Me At Six are not only survivors but also thriving, shows they are both in demand and also have their long fought for place. “The scene battled for years to try and be a part of something like Radio One,” Josh recalls. “They wouldn’t play music like ours and then suddenly they took a gamble, I think it was ‘Finders Keepers’, and it worked. Since then we’ve never had to look back thankfully.” With their strongest record to date about to land, Josh is optimistic about the future. “We haven’t made our masterpiece yet, and whether or not it’s this one as a whole, or there’ll be one in the future... Arctic Monkey’s had to make ‘Humbug’ so they could make ‘AM’,” he laughs. “I wouldn’t even know what the next You Me At Six record would begin to sound like.” P You Me At Six’s album ‘Night People’ is out now.
reywind seem like a fairy tale. After years of dreaming, looking up at others and trying to find their way, the brother and sister duo from Killarney, Ireland uploaded their first finished song to SoundCloud one evening. The track, still very much a demo, got played on BBC Radio One courtesy of Zane Lowe and the offers started rolling in. The pair didn’t expect anything - “we were just posting the song for ourselves” - but next thing they knew, they were in Texas with Jason Perry working on their debut album.
Eventually, we just decided to do it ourselves.”
Taking just ten songs with them, Greywind don’t waste time. “We’re not a band who’ll write sixty songs and narrow it down, if we like something, we stick with it.” With the finished record in their back pocket, 2016 saw them hit the stage for the first time. By the end of it, they’d played sixteen full band shows with every single one, from Slam Dunk to supporting Moose Blood, Young Guns and Thrice, mattering. “It doesn’t make sense that our thirteenth and fourteenth shows were at Reading & Leeds. I think about that every day, and it doesn’t make sense to me,” admits Steph. “But I’ll take it.”
It still works like that today, but My Chemical Romance, that was all Steph. “I remember watching TV, and the ‘Famous Last
Debut album ‘Afterthoughts’ is every bit as fantastical as the band’s story so far. Bold colours, wide eyes taking everything in and a sense of glorious escape underpin the vibrant positivity and constant sense of marvel that Greywind dance under. Today Steph O’ Sullivan isn’t speaking from a picturesque cottage in the clearing of a wood, but home is surrounded by mountains, lakes and, down the road, a castle. “It does look a bit like a Disney movie here,” she beams. Despite the abundance of picturesque surroundings, for two kids who grew up idolising the likes of My Chemical Romance and Thrice, it wasn’t ideal. “We struggled for so long to find other band members.
With their mum a singing teacher and their dad playing Ozzy Osbourne and Thin Lizzy in the house, Greywind grew up surrounded by music. Paul, the older brother, discovered the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World for himself before introducing them to his sister. “We’ve always got on, we have fought over stupid things, but he’s always been my best friend. We’ve always had the same interests and taste in music growing up, so we’d go to shows together.”
Words’ video came on, and I lost my mind. It was so amazing; that guy is so cool and dramatic, and I became
obsessed.” One play of ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ later and it was settled. “I want to do this. That’s what I want to be.” From that moment on, music and performing were all the pair wanted to do. ‘Afterthoughts’ represents that. It’s about “wanting escapism and just getting out and doing what you want, no matter the situation. The stuff we’ve done, I still can’t believe it.” The band may be all sunshine and
smiles, but ‘Afterthoughts’ is more Grimm. ‘Desolate’ is inspired by The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Today’, cutting tragic lyrics with musical pops while ‘Forest Ablaze’ lights the gasoline. “That’s our anthem. That one is full-on ‘I don’t care what people think, just do it.’ Do what you want and don’t care about whoever judges you. Get rid of all the demons that haunt your mind, just do what you love.” As detached and idealistic as the landscape of ‘Afterthoughts’ seems, its stories are grounded in reality. It’s an album that allows Paul and Steph to make sense of the world. “Our uncle committed suicide in 2010, and that woke us up. It made us realise that you need to do what you
want because you only live once. That’s what inspired ‘Afterthoughts’, and ‘In Autumn’ is about that. ‘We swore in autumn’s wake; we carry ourselves out’.” Elsewhere, ‘The Lake’ is a true story about someone who drowned near their house and their friend couldn’t save him. “He was with him at the time; he turned around, but he was gone.” The night the pair found out, they wrote the chorus to the song as a way of dealing with it. Each song on ‘Afterthoughts’ comes with its own piece of artwork. “When you listen to the songs, we want you to escape into our world.” The band’s logo, a flaming rose as a fuse into a can of gasoline, captures the dark but beautiful potency. It’s a fully realised world, but Greywind aren’t staying in one place for long. Sat on the record for two years, the band already have rough ideas for album two. “We know the theme of it; we know what we want to do. It’ll be Greywind, but obviously, we’ve grown up a lot more now. One of our favourite Greywind songs is on album two, so I’m excited for that.” Determined and with a constantly growing vision, Greywind are the heroes of their story. “Don’t wait for other people. You can only save yourself. People will always have opinions on what you do and judge you but don’t focus on that, just believe in yourself. You’re in charge of your own destiny, as cheesy as it sounds, that’s what life is. That’s what I found; that’s what Paul found. If you want something, do it. Instead of regret, just do what you love. That’s what ‘Afterthoughts’ is about. Bad things happen, but you can escape. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.” P Greywind’s debut album ‘Afterthoughts’ is out 27th January.
TOU RING WITH FARRO AND MO OSE B LOOD, PL AY ING REA D I N G & L EEDS, A N D N OW A D E BUT ALBU M - B ROTHER-SISTER DUO G REYW IND ARE A FO RCE TO BE RECKO N ED W ITH.
WORDS. ALI SHUTLE R.
Patty, r u okay?
A S I T I S H AV E C O M E T O A N I M P O R TA N T R E A L I S A T I O N - I T ’ S O K AY N O T T O B E O K AY .
s It Is are okay. It’s been twelve months of exploring, reevaluating who they want to be, and what they want to achieve and, at the end of it all, they are doing just fine. “It’s been a year of self-discovery as a band,” says singer Patty Walters. So what exactly, did they discover? “We were just coming up naturally with these ideas that were so different from anything we were used to writing, that there was more. Early on in the writing process, we banned the phrase, ‘Oh that doesn’t sound like As It Is’. We wanted to write without regulations or boundaries, so we
W O R D S : H E AT H E R M C D A I D .
liberated ourselves; we could write as dark or as poppy or as eclectic as we wanted to.” That freedom flourished alongside Mike Green (All Time Low, Sum 41, 5 Seconds of Summer, the list does go on...) who teamed their thirst for self-discovery with an opportunity to learn. “It was a totally different studio experience to what we faced the first time. Mike was heavily involved with the majority if not all of the songs on this record. There are three or four songs that were co-written by Mike, which we’d never done. We’d never co-written a song with anybody; it was an amazing experience. Mike’s a guy that we have looked up to for a very long time, admired his work for a long time, so it was a real privilege
and a real learning experience for all of us working with him.” Part of the process, call it discovery, healing or even self-confrontation, was to get more personal. “Lyrically, we did make a conscious choice to be more transparent and write outside our comfort zones a little bit more,” he explains. “I don’t want to say that we got comfortable on the first record, we, of course, pushed ourselves and made a record ; we’re proud of, but with this one we tried to write just beyond ourselves. “‘Never Happy’ was a very introverted record. This one is much more about our lives, our families and ourselves in a much broader sense. It becomes more nuanced and more personal, it
has more depth. That’s what we were trying to achieve – it was a struggle to write about our families, to say these things and to commit to them being public information. It’s one thing to write about yourself and be okay with the world knowing certain things about you, but to be okay with the world knowing certain things about your family life, that was a difficult hurdle to overcome.” Patty put himself more into the songs, tackling some of his toughest times in recent years. “Certainly with ‘Okay’ and ‘No Way Out’, those songs are about myself,” he notes. “In 2015, I was really struggling just to be me and be confident and comfortable being me. I dealt with it really badly, and I withheld a lot of the emotions and the suffering I was going through. I chose to deal with it as independently as possible, and that backfired hugely writing this record. I broke down. I decided to see a therapist, and I decided just to be honest with everybody around me for a change.” It’s led to a notable step up in As It Is, where their music has not only been tackled without restriction but their lives, in turn, have seeped heavily back into the music. The nuance of being personal is striking, and it makes the lone word of the album
name all the more meaningful. “Firstly, it felt like a logical progression from ‘Never Happy’ to be ‘Okay’,” he laughs. “But secondly and more importantly, so many of these songs are glued together by a theme that has something to do with mental health awareness and everything that we’ve experienced and struggled with. The simplicity of the title alone stood out to us – making a statement rather than just being a title that doesn’t mean anything.” And from this sense of contentment, they look forward to excitement, energy, nerves and plenty more. “We’re all so excited for everybody to hear this record,” beams Patty. “It’s been in that very bizarre limbo period where we’re the only people who know it inside and out. The experience that everyone who listens to us will get to hear this record is so exciting, but more so, we’re very proud of this record, and we can’t wait to share it with everybody. We can’t wait to start hearing what people think about it, what these songs to mean to them – is that different from what they mean to us? All that kind of stuff. So surreal and fun to experience.” That fun hits the road without an end destination in sight, or, as Patty puts it, “a crapload of touring! Way too
much touring. We’re touring non-stop from the start of 2017. I think less than a week after this record comes out, we’re flying to Japan, then to Australia, then the UK and Europe with State Champs, and then all kinds of very cool things that we’re still figuring out or haven’t announced just yet. It’s going to be a very busy year of travelling and playing shows. No stopping.” No matter how fast the journey, no matter where they take it, ‘okay’ captures a sense of comfort for the band, and one to pass along far and wide. “Our message with this record is that it’s okay not to be okay. If anybody reading this interview or listening to our album is feeling like they aren’t okay, just to remember that nobody is 100% of the time. “We all have ups and downs; we’re all vulnerable, imperfect people. It’s going to get better, then it will get worse, then it will get better again.” It’s definitely not an album that doesn’t mean anything, and it’s more than a statement in some senses – it’s reassurance that music can be a help, a friend, and that it can be damn catchy and enjoyable at the same time. P As It Is’s album ‘okay’ is out now.
wenty-five years. Ten albums. A constant process of laying themselves bare in the music, where you can track the inner workings and feelings of a band who hold nothing back. AFI have outlived many in music, and their self-titled album is their latest whack of sonic brilliance that takes their darkness to new climes. Eponymous albums can be chosen for a number of reasons, but rather than representing the band more aptly than any other of their albums or being indicative of a shift, this was a mark of celebration. “For us, we felt this would be ceremonious to self-title the record being that it’s our tenth,” explains Davey Havok. “Every record is a look into who we are in that period, especially lyrically speaking. Look at those, and that is looking at who I am and what I am experiencing and my perspective, and that’s the case with the ‘Blood’ record. The self-titling was that: a nod to 25 years and ten records of AFI.” Their ‘Blood’ album sprung to public consciousness with a blackout. Their socials were dark, mysterious. Something was afoot. But for AFI, they wouldn’t tease without reason or talk without something to say. “Historically, we go and record things in private. We don’t have people around us talking about us when we are writing and recording. We’ll usually wait until we are finished with the work to start letting people know that it is coming and it exists. The main reason for that being that even we don’t know what it’s going to be just yet.” The album process overlapped partially with Blaqk Audio’s ‘Material’, which gives Davey the chance to flex more creative muscles. “I’m so lucky to have so many different projects to work on because I have so many different influences that I get to touch on in each project. Those influences are such a part of who I am. It’s thrilling for me to be able to express myself in those ways. That’s
the case with Blaqk Audio, and most certainly it was fun for me to have that opportunity to do so many different things.” Fans got their first look at what their tenth album held in the form of ‘Snow Cats’ and ‘White Offerings’. “It’s been a great reaction,” he says. “We are very lucky to be this far into our career and have so many people paying attention to what we are doing. When we put out the tracks, people are very excited to hear them. We have played a few of them live so far, and the live response was very strong as well, which was gratifying because we enjoy the record ourselves, so our hope is that people will enjoy it too. So far so good!” 2013’s ‘Burials’ was a dark album of personal pain, and while the self-titled
“IT’S LESS WA R L I K E AND MORE FEARLESS.”
retains that almost brutally personal approach, musically, there’s some more light on the horizon. “People refer to the music itself feeling joyous, and I think I’ve been hard pressed to find anything joyous in the lyrics,” he laughs. “So for me personally, it’s not that stark a divide between what’s going on lyrically in this and ‘Burials’, although there is absolutely a difference. There is a darkness to this record, though not as bleak and despondent. It’s less warlike and more fearless. “It was just a natural progression for us to lean in a different direction. Anytime we touch on something that we feel we’ve done before; it’s less interesting than new territory.”
That new territory saw some songs come to life with startling speed. “’Aurelia’ is one of my favourite songs on the record,” says Davey, “though I have many favourite songs on the record! I’m very much looking forward to playing that song in particular, which I’m sure we will be doing when we begin playing shows. It’s one of the songs that was written much later in the period that we were writing and it was one of the songs that we built from nothing. It came very, very quickly. We’d play a couple of chords, that melody came immediately, and the lyrics came shortly after that. The song, the basic structure of it, was put together very quickly. When we heard what we were doing it felt very exciting, and at that moment I was so happy that we were still writing and hopeful that it would make the record. You never really know what’s going to make a record because we write so many songs, but it did. “We got the opportunity to shoot a video for it with our friend Adam Mason who shot two of my favourite videos that I’ve ever been a part of, which are the two Blaqk Audio videos for the ‘Material’ record,” he sighs. “Adam did a great job. He was drawn to the song and was inspired to create this video. He makes great videos, so combining his work with that song is something I’m very happy to have happened.” It’s these little things that build up the band’s legacy and bring them to the next big moment. Now they’ve surpassed twenty-five years, but there’s always more to come. “I’m grateful,” he beams. “We’re lucky to be able to do what we do. To do what we enjoy, create music and still doing it after all this time, and have people still be interested in it, to pay attention and be excited about it – it’s a luxury that most people don’t get to enjoy.” So here’s a cheers to their next moment, album number ten. It’s a mighty fine one and the latest in a long line of successes and milestones from one of the greats. P AFI’s album ‘AFI (The Blood Album)’ is out 20th January.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
2017 I S G O I N G TO B E A B I G Y E A R FO R RO C K L EG E N DS A F I ; DAV E Y H AVO C A N D C O. A RE BAC K W I T H A N E W A L BU M , A N D T H E I R F I RST U K S H OWS I N OV E R E I G H T Y E A RS . WO RDS : H E AT H E R M C DA I D.
“I’ve never done something like this.” W I T H H E R D E BU T SO LO A L BU M , A L L I SO N C RU TC H F I E L D I S BA RI N G H E R SO U L L I K E N EV E R B E FO RE . WO RDS : ST EV E N LO F T I N .
llison Crutchfield has spent the last two years not only dealing with major life changes but committing them all to music. From the dissolution of her previous band, Philadelphia-based rockers Swearin’, to the break up of a relationship, her debut album ‘Tourist In This Town’ is a personal project in all aspects. “I am so ready for the record to come out,” she enthuses. “It’s been completed for what feels a really long time at this point.” “It’s extremely autobiographical in a way that I haven’t really done before,” Allison continues. “All of my songs are autobiographical at the core because they’re coming from me, but I was obsessive about it on this record. I was keeping intricate notes while I was touring last year and just really focused on it, so I made a point to make this especially real. It was such a cathartic writing process for me.” It’s a record that was largely born on the road. “I was going through a pretty major break up and subsequent break up of Swearin’,” she remembers. “Dealing with all these major shifts in my life made every city that I went to, every show that I played, every interaction with my bandmates, felt much bigger than they were or much heavier. Taking these notes and referring to them when I was home was really on my mind. Remembering every detail closely and using that as something to make this record extremely real.” “Playing in bands since I was 14, I’ve never been the person who’s at the front of it all,” Allison reminisces,
opening up about coming to the forefront after being in groups for so long. “Well, I was at the front of it all for Swearin’. From a writing standpoint, I’ve never done something like this, where I am the only person sitting with the song from start to finish, and it’s one hundred percent my point of view.” This new way of working certainly appears to suit Allison. “It can get tricky to do that when you’re dealing with four different people, and I’m speaking personally of bands I’ve been in, with four different personalities, four viewpoints, four ideas of what they want out of a rock band.” The catharsis of songwriting has helped Allison take stock of her past and accept it. “I was able to compartmentalise and just write in the moment, write exactly what I was feeling and where I was feeling it and how I was feeling it, and not completely think about the consequences of releasing a record like that would maybe be like or the feelings that it would make me have.” There can be fallout from releasing such an autobiographical record, referencing real people and real moments. “I think that is one of the benefits of putting it out almost two years after it was written, and not even written, just two years after this major shift in my life was happening. I think I’m far enough away from some of the events that it makes it a little easier to sing about, and it doesn’t drudge up any of those feelings anymore. It’s more me just singing songs that I wrote, it’s less emotionally taxing because there is so much space than when I wrote it.” Elaborating on those she references, Allison says: “There are people who I was nervous about [hearing it], to a point. Those who I respect, and there are some people that I reached out to
to send them the record and talk about it, and I feel good about it. And then there are some people that I haven’t, and I’m like, ‘Eh, whatever’. Those people, I don’t care. If you hear it, you’ll know it’s about you.” When it comes to the musical content, there’s a change from the output that her previous incarnations. The use of synthesisers and more pop crafting offers a lighter edge while tackling major issues, such as feeling lost somewhere you should belong. “As a music fan, I’m really drawn to pop music, and drawn to narrative lyricists. Something that’s always hit me hard is when a lyricist is extremely specific about a feeling or a place that they’re at. It’s like I’m reading a story, I’m envisioning this person in this place, thinking this thing.” “Someone I admire and is my favourite lyricist of all time is John Darnielle, from The Mountain Goats,” Allison says of a particular favourite. “I think he’s able to write in the point of view of characters; he has a beautiful sense of personal development and character development in his songwriting, which is something I’d love to do better. I love the theatricality; it’s inspiring to me.” Looking back to her prior output, she ponders: “Sometimes it can be embarrassing when you look back, there are records that I’ve done where I’m like, ‘Ugh, oh my god, I hate myself’.” She carries on through laughter. “You look from the other side, and you’re like ‘What was I thinking?’ Kind of like looking at an old yearbook, and that’s just what happens the longer that you do something. You look back and think, ‘Why did I do that?’ But also you look back with new eyes.” P Allison Crutchfield’s album ‘Tourist In This Town’ is out 3rd February. 47
RATED FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES MODERN RUIN
hile not overtly reminiscent of his last offering, the catchier, pop-punkier accessibility of ‘Modern Ruin’ helps to keep Frank Carter standing defiantly separate from the rest of the pack in this walloping joy-ride of an album. ‘Bluebelle’ leads us in gently, with understated, echoing guitar accompanying Carter in a surprisingly sombre opening that should throw connoisseurs of 2015’s ‘Blossom’ off balance. This short prelude acts as the band holding their breath before the plunge, however, as from ‘Lullaby’ onwards, the record becomes a thrashing, pounding, pulsating reminder of why Frank Carter gigs are some of the most exciting (and sweaty) places to be. The refined swagger of ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Snake Eyes’ demonstrate how effortlessly Carter and co. can control a song, peaking and troughing expertly with headbanging bass lines and squealing guitars. Meanwhile the relentless ‘Vampires’ and ‘Wild Flowers’ provide the pop-punk that’s so in vogue right now, with harmony-laden choruses evocative of (dare I say it) Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt in all their ‘American
Idiot’ glory, while still bearing their teeth in classic Carter fashion. ‘Acid Veins’ and ‘God Is My Friend’ are restless, and buzzing with enough energy and attitude to make sure the rage that Carter can muster with the Rattlesnakes and first band Gallows isn’t forgotten - but this fully breaks through in the eponymous ‘Modern Ruin’, which comes screaming and careening onto the scene to signal the beginning of the end of what is a rip-roaring collection of songs. Carter’s melodies have a more controlled, cleaner feel of this outing are the surprise features here. What’s not surprising however is that it all sounds unequivocally Frank Carter. All the different echoes of punk groups from past or present work, and they never lose the aggression that’s become a staple of the Rattlesnakes. All of this proves that Frank Carter is ever-capable of pulling out the unexpected. And he sounds bloody good doing it. Ben Kitto
LESS THAN JAKE
SOUND THE ALARM
RED, GREEN OR INBETWEEN
No Sleep Records
Fresh off an impressive stint on the road, Floridian ska-punk stalwarts Less Than Jake are back. Unfortunately, despite their recent showstopping live performances, the songs on this EP are less ‘Sound The Alarm’ and more puff on a whistle. Opener ‘Call To Arms’ begins with a rumbling bass line which promises much but develops into an unoriginal punk ditty. ‘Whatever The Weather’ is a similarly middle of the road affair. There are some solid moments here; ‘Welcome To My Life’ possesses plenty of funk, while ‘Things Change’ has easily the strongest chorus on the record, but these moments are too few and far between. Jake Richardson
The comparisons with Neck Deep are always going to be there for WSTR, but they’re no copycats. Not ones to mince their words, happy to swear more regularly than most, and brutally self-deprecating (‘Featherweight’), WSTR’s energetic pop punk is raucous and messy. Thankfully their debut been worth the wait. America’s pop punk stalwarts sing about suburbia, so what about the UK’s equivalent? Nightclubs and cracked phone screens, of course. Veiled by the everyday lyrics, however, is an underlying longing for something better; a dissection of personal life choices and mistakes. Made for packed venues and energy-packed shows. Kathryn Black
GONE IS GONE
Featuring members of Mastodon, QOTSA and At The Drive-In, the scale of Gone is Gone’s debut ’Echolocation’ is too large for an A5 page. Born from the minds of some of rock’s biggest titans, this was always destined to be a behemoth of a record. If you aren’t into soundscapes and overbearing instrumentation, then this album may not be for you, but it’s a great representation of what can happen when great minds collide. Steven Loftin
Switching from huge choruses to aggressive roars, Palisades’ selftitled third album knows how to mix the rough with the smooth. It may have a darkness deep inside - one that frequently finds itself bubbling to the surface - but it matches that with a delivery that sends even the most despairing of emotional landslides sliding down with ease. “Somebody stop the spark before it gets worse,” frontman Lou Miceli pleads. It’s only gonna light up from here on in. Stephen Ackroyd
NEAR TO THE WILD HEART OF LIFE
eeee Japandroids write anthems. Some instant and huge, some a slow burn. Opener and titletrack ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ is absolutely the former. Sounding like it fell straight from 2012’s ‘Celebration Rock’, it delivers. With each record, Japandroids have become progressively more stadium than punk rock. They’re one of the few bands that can pull it off. An album that stirs up a hopeful energy that’ll make you want to quit your job and head for the open road. Kristy Diaz
A SHORT Q&A WITH...
GONE IS GONE
M I K E Z A R I N O N T E A M I N G U P W I T H T ROY SA N D E RS , T ROY VA N L E E U W E N A N D T O N Y H A J J A R F O R G O N E I S G O N E ’ S D E B U T .
How did you all get together to create ‘Echolation’? It must’ve been tough to find time, when did you write / record? Tony [Van Leeuwen] and I were writing music together for Film Trailers, and we stumbled on a style that we thought could be an interesting band. So, we called Troy Van Leeuwen up to see if he’d be down with this filmcentric approach to a band, and fortunately, he was! When the time came to find a singer, Troy Sanders was the first name mentioned, and thankfully was also down for the cause! What’s the dynamic like between you guys? The dynamic between the four of us is one of total mutual respect. Everybody has an equal say in what happens with our music. Each person does not have a designated instrument, and we each write for all instruments, sometimes guiding each other along until the vision is realised. Did you all agree on how Gone is Gone were going to sound from the off? Were you on the same page? From day one, the four of us have been on the same page regarding the general concept and approach to Gone Is Gone. And as all collaborations go, the resulting sound did not take shape until we spent a lot of time together jamming and composing. What topics do you touch on
throughout the record? The social and political agenda has been crazy lately, did that impact what you were making? Gone is Gone is not a political band. Life is too vast to focus on distractions such as politics and headlines. We released an animated teaser video on our Instagram to emphasise that all you see is a distraction to what is truly important to your life, and the world as a whole. Have you learnt anything new from your time in Gone is Gone? We learn something new every day. I’ve learned that Troy has an amazing collection of music gear, only half of which works… the fun is that we never know what works until we plug it in! I’ve learned that Troy Sanders is a deep thinking man with a heart of gold and a willingness to push his musical limits. I’ve learned that Tony will play with the energy of a 15-year-old boy, even if he is sick as a dog. And I’ve learned that I have really bad OCD when it comes to our music. Will the band be an ongoing concern for you all, or do you think it will at some point succumb to your busy schedules? There is no plan to succumb to challenges created by schedules. We’re busy people, but we’re all busy creating music that we love. Time is always made for things we love, and we all love Gone Is Gone. P
ALL THESE COUNTLESS NIGHTS
Deaf Havana have returned from the abyss with the album they’ve always threatened to make. Gone are the band who looked like they’d given up at the end of ‘Old Souls and in their place stand a group with stories they’re desperate to tell. Eager eyes, loose lips and a warm welcome, ‘All These Countless Nights’ might have been three years in the making but there’s an instant connection pulling you in. Leaving the past behind with ‘Ashes, Ashes’, ‘All These Countless Nights’ is a vehicle of escape. Hungry for distance and pastures new the record, from the pull of ‘Trigger’ to the cry of ‘Sing’, sets about putting the world of Deaf Havana to rights. James Veck-Gilodi has a history of being more honest than most and time away hasn’t held his tongue. Assembling a list of all the terrible things he’s done, ‘All These Countless Nights’ is the search for acceptance. The past is reflected on with a heavy heart, break ups, downs and the fear of moving on all
fall into the line of fire, but despite the very personal nature of the record, Deaf Havana write for everyone. Sure, at times the bedroom confession of ‘L.O.V.E.’ or the bottom of the glass stare of ‘Like A Ghost’ teeter on the edge of voyeurism but there’s a rope of relatability threaded throughout. Hangovers, fall-outs and moments of self-doubt litter the record as the band sing of falling in love with strangers and the moment. Make no mistake though, Deaf Havana mean business. There’s a new confidence to the band. In the past they’ve always been present, part of the crowd, but this record sees them striding out on their own. Broader, more sure of itself and willing to throw everything on red, ‘All These Countless Nights’ sees the band take their stupid heart into the spotlight. Ali Shutler
AFTER THE PARTY
eeeee Those troublesome thirtysomethings. You’ve got lifeexperience, but you’re still learning. You like new music, but you’re targeted by endless reunion tours, and you’ve got a disposable income. Mortgages and DIY just aren’t sexy when you’ve spent a decade being sold the lie about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll. Which brings us rather nicely to The Menzingers’ latest collection of blue-collar, working class anthems. Now the other side of 30, nostalgia colours ‘After The Party’, even down to the hungover title and knowing opening track ‘20’s (Telling Lies)’. Yet it’s not the rose-tinted reminiscence of someone selling a dream – this is the story of a decade of poor decisions and empty wallets. Throw in failed relationships and a battle to find a place
in the world; it’s a warts and all examination of the human spirit; a triumphant return for a band that can make a wistful whiskey-soaked anthem warm you like a comfort blanket. It’s all delivered with that streetsmart charm with which The Menzingers are synonymous. Vocalists Greg Barnett and Tom May take turns to deliver punchy punk-rock anthems, perfect for mosh-pit singalongs but better digested as vignettes of the underbelly of American life. May’s ‘Boy Blue’, with its chorus of “The Boy Blue with the silver spoon, they found him dying in the living room,” feels like a punch to the gut, but sits snugly next to Barnett’s witty ‘Bad Catholics’, a song that’s as bitingly personal as ‘Boy Blue’ is shocking. Having fully transitioned from punk upstarts into storytelling street poets, ‘After The Party’ could well be the album to catapult The Menzingers far beyond the pubs and clubs they’re used to. An album blessed with a heart as big as its choruses – it hits the sweet spot between longing melancholia and nervous optimism like a jackhammer. Rob Mair
Menace Beach’s debut album ‘Ratworld’ marked them out as one of the country’s most promising purveyors of scuzzy guitar pop. The follow up, ‘Lemon Memory’ only sees that reputation enhanced. While their first offering was, largely, the domain of Ryan Needham - one-half of the core duo at the heart of the band - this is the Menace Beach universe through the prism of Liza Violet. Whatever angles of reflection their work takes, though, there’s a high bar so lofty, other bands shouldn’t even try. Truly one of the very best. Stephen Ackroyd
Fun is underrated. While the forces of cynicism like to drag us towards more boring concerns, there’s a lot to be said for a band who understand the pure hit of pop punk can deliver us from all evils. On their second album, As It Is have not only stepped up to the plate; they’ve knocked it into orbit. Opener ‘Pretty Little Distance’ already feels sort-of-like a classic in waiting, while ‘Hey Rachel’ showcases that this is a band fully able to play in the big leagues. Far, far better than okay. Stephen Ackroyd
YOU ME AT SIX
eeee The You Me At Six hit machine might have stopped churning out the likes of ‘Bite My Tongue’ and ‘Underdog’ when 2014’s ‘Cavalier Youth’ came along, but ‘Night People’ has it’s own tricks up its sleeve. ‘Heavy Soul’ ticks the box for a brooding, slow burner, while ‘Take On The World’ adds to the band’s list of emotional ballads – something they do better than most. Lead single ‘Night People’ is builds to a crowd-pleasing crescendo, while ‘Brand New’ is an upbeat singalong a gateway to rock for radio listeners. Bring Me The Horizon may have taken their crown as Britain’s most successful rock band, but ‘Night People’ could see You Me At Six fight for the title again. Kathryn Black
AFI (THE BLOOD ALBUM)
After more than two decades and nine albums together, it wouldn’t be surprising if number ten saw AFI retread old ground. No such disappointment, though. From the crunch of opener ‘Dark Snow’ it’s painfully obvious the band still have (wait for it - Ed) a fire inside. Energetic, ever-shifting and agile, the fourteen tracks are constantly engaging with instant hits but come with plenty to unpack. Decadent and romantic, AFI wear their well-worn hearts on sleeves throughout ‘The Blood Album’. The band are still looking inwards and asking questions, but AFI have never sounded more sure of where they are or what they’re doing. Twenty-five years old and they’ve got it all figured out. Ali Shutler
AS IT IS
TOURIST IN THIS TOWN
Search And Destory / Spinefarm
What is most striking about ‘Tourist in this Town’, the latest offering from Swearin’ and P.S Eliot musician Allison Crutchfield, is the fast-moving pace of her contemporaneity. Indeed, what becomes clear from album highlights ‘Dean’s Room’ and ‘The Marriage’ is Crutchfield’s growth as a songwriter; The music of a lyricist in bloom, though it may be a step away from the what we know and love, it is an evolution that allows her music to exist in a way that it always should have. It feels right. Rosie Ramsden
Recorded without ever playing a live show, Greywind’s debut album is running on one hundred per cent ambition. ‘Afterthoughts’ carries an emotional depth below it’s shiny exterior that’s easy to get lost in. Bouncing from hope to hopelessness and back again on a knife-edge. ‘Circle’ and the moody shudder of ‘Car Spin’ tumble with endless abandon, while the likes of ‘Safe Haven’ and ‘Wander’s twinkling daybreak lead the way in a daring, determined escape. Cut off from a scene and forced to believe in themselves, Greywind have captured a daydreamers spark and used it to light something grand. Ali Shutler
A SHORT C H AT W I T H . . .
“Life is fucking tough, and horrible things happen, and the only real way of dealing and coping with that is either laughing about it or facing it head on and embracing the absurdity,” explains Ric Phethean. “You have to make the most of the moment you live in and the people you’re surrounded by. There are so many positives to be taken from simply being here.” Tall Ships’ second album ‘Impressions’ beams with that idea. From the fearless red glow of ‘Will To Life’ to the everyday victory of ‘Day By Day’, the record basks in a sunny-side up outlook. ‘Road Not Taken’ breaks cover on not living a life of regrets or uncertainty while ‘Meditations On Loss’ questions belief. The glass is definitely half full but the band, after a turbulent and uncertain few years, are aware it could spill at any moment. Because of that, cheers to the day. Following financial and personal exhaustion after the hectic touring for 2012’s ‘Everything Touching’ and a frustrating back and forth with record labels over its release, ‘Impressions’ is a record that refuses to stay down. Following the knockbacks, Tall Ships turned inwards.
“Fuck you, we’re just going to do it ourselves and make the record. We got tired of waiting for it, so we just self-recorded it.” It took a lot of pressure off. In the two years they’ve been sat on ‘Impressions’, “there have been various points where we almost called it a day. We were just doing emails, admin and talking about plans rather than playing shows or writing music. There were moments where we thought about chucking it all in, but we were so confident in these songs and we believe in what we’ve done; we just stuck at it. We’ve got these songs, we’ve got this album that we believe in and we just wanted to finish it.” And on ‘Impressions’, their voice runs riot. Following the sparseness of their debut, album two sees Tall Ships lean in. “There are a huge amount of lyrics on this album. There’s a real switch there, which came out of the desire of having more to say. With all the serious themes and heaviness in the lyrics, it is essentially the four of us having a laugh and writing big rock songs that we enjoy playing. It is fun for us to make the music and that hopefully comes through.” P
L I F E I S A RO L L E R C OAST E R . TA L L S H I P S A R E F I G U R I N G O U T H O W T O R I D E I T. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER.
Fat Cat Records
Tall Ships have stopped looking to the universe for answers. Instead ‘Impressions’ sees the band turn inwards and explore what surrounds them. From the daybreak of ‘Road Not Taken’, all stretching horizons and calm beauty, their second album sees them choose life and all the absurdity that comes with it. From the twinkling climb of that opening track that falls into the lit flames of ‘Will To Life’, through the reflective and self-acknowledgement of ‘Petrichor’, ‘Impressions’ matches reality’s quirks blow for blow. Death, depression, destruction, anxiety and self-doubt; Tall Ships aren’t holding anything back this time around. Every avenue is explored in frank, unabashed detail. With years to reflect and discover, the band have returned with plenty to share. The record makes the most of every breath. Each musical build is to support a question, offer an answer or share a fear. Holding hands, every moment is married for eternity. The words are considered and their impact, powerful. Tall Ships almost tore themselves apart making this record and the cracks are still visible. Patched up, light leaking through, ‘Impressions’ is a document of the very edge of nothing. Ali Shutler
TRACKS OF THE MONTH
SORORITY NOISE NO HALO
Sorority Noise broke hearts and stitched them back together with debut album ‘Joy, Departed’, but the first taste of follow up ‘You’re Not As ____ As You Think’ is very different. Fierce and fearless, ‘No Halo’ is an unrelenting rager. From the opening twitch of battling guitars and heartbeat drums, it’s every bit a stand-up-andtake-notice anthem that can really change things but it never skimps on the soul. Furious but still baring all, the bedroom confessional, “if there’s no rest for the wicked, I’m as evil as they get,” still asks questions. This time though, the answers are found en masse.
JULIEN BAKER FUNERAL PYRE
Beautiful, cathartic and moving might have quickly become Julien Baker’s stock and trade on debut album ‘Sprained Ankle’ but that doesn’t take away from just how powerful ‘Funeral Pyre’ burns. Masterfully twisting simple guitar and diary admissions into so much more, Julien narrates a story of loss, heartbreak and eventual acceptance. Not bothering to shut the door, the truth pours out and it’s one we all immerse ourselves in. From waking up “with the same pain every night,” to the reluctant crack of “it’s true, there’s nothing that we could do,” ‘Funeral Pyre’ plots a course of blood, embers and peace.
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
SAFE IN SOUND
eeee CLOUD NOTHINGS
LIFE WITHOUT SOUND
eeee Four albums in a little over seven years has seen Cloud Nothings develop at the same speed as their thrashy early efforts. ‘Life Without Sound’ represents Dylan Baldi’s most confident and striking release to date, combining the frazzled nervous energy of their early material and new lyrical depths that would have seemed a world away just three years ago. It’s in these lighter, more reflective, moments that ‘Life Without Sound’ excels. Lead single ‘Modern Act’ sits proudly alongside any emotive torch song penned by Ben Gibbard or Jim Adkins. Naturally, there are some growing pains – but there’s also unbelievable promise about what the future holds. Rob Mair
Lower Than Atlantis have always had a cowboy confidence. Cocky, quick to draw and happy to ask questions later, they’ve always had more bark than bite. Until they found themselves ‘Safe In Sound’. From the rattling hands up surrender of ‘Had Enough’, this is a more self-aware Lower Than Atlantis. Building on the direct aims of their self-titled record which fully embraced the band’s ability to write a banger, ‘Safe In Sound’ gets straight to the point. Written with huge moments in mind, album five sees Lower Than Atlantis reach higher than they’ve ever dared to dream before. As grand as ‘Safe In Sound’ sounds though, it finds space to focus on the small, seemingly insignificant moments of day-to-day life. From tea-stains and problems with the ol’ cash flow to falling in love and questioning the person you’ve become, Lower Than Atlantis tear themselves apart throughout. ‘Long Time Coming’ sees the band ask both themselves and their doubters “Who are ya?”, ‘Work For It’ demands action
while ‘Could Be Worse’ rallies with a glass-halffull optimism. Elsewhere the reflective abandon of ‘I Would’ is all grand romantic gestures that make Meatloaf look like he’s not making much of an effort before the voyeuristic confession of ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ allows for a frank look beyond the band’s bolshie swagger. Laying it all on the table, there’s a scattergun charm to the way ‘Safe In Sound’ flips from the relentless electro-bounce of ‘Boomerang’ to the hammering fury of ‘Work For It’. Stepping it up again and again, Lower Than Atlantis finally have the soundtrack to their ascension. Backing up every claim with passion and a knowing grin, it’s a record that makes the smallest detail shine. As the unashamed pop finale of ‘A Night To Forget’ brings things to a close with open windows and a taste for freedom, Lower Than Atlantis stand proud, having found a comfort in sound. Ali Shutler
What’s exciting you right now? “I’m really into Hotel Books at the moment. I love spoken word and combining that with heavy music is excellent. They’re over in the UK in Jan so looking forward to checking those guys out. Every Time I Die’s latest record is incredible, obviously, and I really like Childish Gambino’s (pictured) new one too. Keeping it loose.” ROB, WARS “Planet Earth 2, new South Park, our debut album coming out!” SAMMY WSTR “Lunch! No, just kidding. To be on the road with these crazy idiots again; that my stomach hurts so much from Stijn’s jokes. That me or Peter skip a note and then blame each other for playing a mistake. Our sound engineer,
still thinking he’s the strongest man in the world and that my nephew and roadie Leo, who is one meter and a half, kicks his ass. Just playing as much as possible and going on the road with our crew, those are the things I look forward to.” STEFANIE, BRUTUS “The line-up for the 2017 edition of Download in France is crazy, and I think I speak for everyone in the band when I say this - I’ve wanted to go to Groezrock, which isn’t that far, for years, and our bass player Martin told me ‘dude, no, look at the line up for Download here’. It’s only their second year and you can tell they mean business. I’ll be there for sure!” MATHIAS, PÆRISH “I bought my three year old niece a
purple drum kit for Christmas, and I’m really excited to see if she becomes the next Ashley Arnwine (her biggest hero).” ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD “I just saw Star Wars Rogue One last night. I absolutely love Star Wars – I’m playing a Star Wars video game right now. Technically, I’d say it’s my least favourite Star Wars movie, but it’s still Star Wars. I’d see it again.” DYLAN, CLOUD NOTHINGS “It seems every year that technology spikes exponentially. It gets crazier and crazier. This year  has seen virtual reality devices and headsets start to become more commercially available, and more educated. I can’t wait to see the wacky shit that’s next to come out of that. I think technology and its applications in 2017 is going to be totally... There are going to be some mind blowing developments, I think. I’m really excited to see what happens, and how those technologies are going to be used to bring about positive social change.” TOM, THE MENZINGERS “Our forthcoming album release. I cannot wait for the world to hear it, judge it, shred it, play it loud, sing along, throw it out, etc. The unknown is so exciting and we know what record we made. The rest is up to the fans of music. Hopefully they feel how we feel about it. Oh, and Rogue One.” AARON, PALISADES “I’m just feeling super positive about 2017, on a ton of levels. I’ve been listening to so much new music the last few weeks ‘cause we’ve been searching out bands to play with us on this album tour and there is so much good new stuff around. I’m excited to go to USA and as always I just want to do every single festival ‘cause I’m already thinking about the hot sun and wandering around with a beer and catching up with pals.” RYAN, MENACE BEACH
FRANK CARTER & The Rattlesnakes
MODERN RUIN 20.01.17