COUNTERPARTS COUNTERPARTS YOU’RE YOU’RENOT NOTYOU YOUANYMORE ANYMORE NEW NEWCD CD//LP LP//DIGITAL DIGITALOUT OUT NOW NOW
YOU’RE NOT YOU ANYMORE NEW CD / LP / DIGITAL OUT NOW
ON ON TOUR TOUR IN IN NOVEMBER NOVEMBER Nov Nov 11 11 -- Patterns Patterns -- Brighton Brighton -- U.K. U.K. Nov Nov 12 -- Clwb Clwb Ifor Bach Bach -- Cardiff Cardiff -- U.K. U.K. ON12 TOUR INIfor NOVEMBER Nov Nov 13 13 -- Vintage Vintage Bar Bar -- Doncaster Doncaster -- U.K. U.K. Nov Nov 14 Rescue Rooms Rooms -- Nottingham Nottingham U.K. Nov14 11-- -Rescue Patterns - Brighton - U.K. -- U.K. Nov 15 15 -- G2 G2 -- Glasgow Glasgow U.K. Nov 12 -Nov Clwb Ifor Bach - Cardiff---U.K. U.K. Nov 16 -- Rebellion Rebellion -- Manchester Manchester -- U.K. U.K. NovNov 13 - 16 Vintage Bar - Doncaster - U.K. Nov 17 17 -- Think Think Tank Tank -- Newcastle Newcastle---U.K. U.K. U.K. Nov 14Nov - Rescue Rooms - Nottingham Nov Nov15 18 18---G2 The The Dome -- London London U.K. Nov - Dome Glasgow - U.K. -- U.K. Nov- 19 19 -- Joners Joners - Southampton Southampton -- U.K. U.K. Nov Nov 16 Rebellion - -Manchester - U.K. Nov 17 - Think Tank - Newcastle - U.K. Nov 18 - The Dome - London - U.K. Nov 19 - Joners - Southampton - U.K. EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVEVINYL VINYL VINYLCOLOR COLOR COLORAVAILABLE AVAILABLE AVAILABLEAT AT AT
upsetmagazine.com Editor: Stephen Ackroyd (firstname.lastname@example.org) Deputy Editor: Victoria Sinden (email@example.com) Associate Editor: Ali Shutler (firstname.lastname@example.org) Writers: Alexander Bradley, Brad Thorne, Dan Harrison, Dillon Eastoe, Heather McDaid, Jake Richardson, Jasleen Dhindsa, Rob Mair, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Photographers: Brendan Walter, Mark Jaworski, Nick Karp, Nicole Guglielmo, Nolan Knight, Tim Easton Cover Photo: Brendan Walter 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 T H E US E D 8 PAC ES H I F T E RS 9 D I ET C I G 10 I RO N C H I C 12 D E A F H AVA N A 13 LO N E LY T H E B R AV E 14 P L AY L I ST
ABOUT TO BREAK
16 A L E X L A H EY 18 EC CA VA N DA L 19 M OV E M E N TS
20 W E EZ E R 28 BU L LY 30 JA M I E L E N M A N 34 K N U C K L E P U C K 36 J U L I E N BA K E R 40 T H E F RO N T BOT TO M S 42 ROA M
46 W E EZ E R 47 W H O I S S H E ? 48 JA M I E L E N M A N 50 J U L I E N BA K E R 52 B L AC K FOX X ES
When Weezer released their last full-length - the self-titled White Album - you’d be forgiven for expecting them to settle on a formula. Returning to their roots, they regained the critical acclaim they’d shunned, quieting up the ‘we preferred the earlier stuff’ crew in the process. But this is Weezer - expecting them to stand still is folly at best, plain stupid at worst. With their new album ‘Pacific Daydream’ they’re switching things up again, trying to connect with the masses. As Rivers and co. take this month’s cover you have to wonder, if they ever stopped, would they be the same band? Almost certainly not.
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
CANYON FROM SPILLING HIS HEART OUT ABOUT THE DEATH OF A FRIEND, TO REALLY DIGGING DEEP INTO HIS BELIEFS AND LITERARY INFLUENCES, CREATING THE USED’S NEW ALBUM WAS AN INTENSELY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FOR FRONTMAN BERT MCCRACKEN. WORDS: JASLEEN DHINDSA.
t’s been three years since The Used released ‘Imaginary Enemy’, and in that time the band have lost and gained a member, released the magical and cathartic Live & Acoustic at The Palace, and now, what is arguably the best album they have ever put out. ‘The Canyon’ is their seventh full-length, and a behemoth 17 tracks of pure heartwrenching honesty and celebration of peace and pain, recorded directly onto tape. It’s the most intimate The Used have ever been. Choosing to start this album’s cycle with ‘Over and Over Again’ might seem like a strange choice when looking at the album as a whole. Its blinding joyful pop beats are strikingly different from the sheer punk and rock angst that drives the first half of the record.
“The place the band is coming from [now], we’re proud of what we’ve done, but at the same time, we understand that inspiration and creative insight comes from what you digest. You can think [that] everyone I’ve ever loved and looked up to and devoured their art and worshipped, that’s where I came from. So in this bigger way, we’re paying as much attention to how important our words are reflected through our inspirations, and how we’ve gotten to the place.” The poetic lyricism of the record is unlike anything The Used have done before, partially inspired by the passing of Bert’s good friend Traegan a year ago. “‘The Canyon’ is a big metaphor,” he says. “It started as a literal double meaning. What it takes to make a canyon is hundreds and thousands, if not millions of years of water cutting into rock and stone like a knife - pretty heavy imagery.
“Also, it’s a great time of year for cowbell, and a reminder that songs are fun and they should allow you to feel everything and anything,” he says with a smile.
“It’s hard for humans to understand deep time. We live in these short mortal lives. Provo Canyon [in Utah] where I grew up was the place where my whole childhood developed all the systems of thought. I grew up very religious, and a big part of my religious fervour and my feeling of spirit was appeasing the parental securities of the confines of family as a kid. When you find out your parents don’t know everything, it’s hugely distressing, and that’s the moment that God is dead.
‘The Canyon’ is undeniably a rock record. It’s the truest punk and rock the band have been for years. “Starting from the last thing we did, which was ‘Live and Acoustic’, everything about that rang true to why The Used still exist, because we still make music and play it live in a way that connects to the bigger picture that has evolved beyond the individual.
“[With] this canyon, I not only found my own peace of mind as far as what I had been taught growing up and my beliefs, but I also discovered music there and other ways of freedom. I spent a lot of time with Traegan up there and a lot of other heavy moments. I’ve had really, really heavy moments there with my dad, maybe within a mile of where Traegan
“The reason we went with ‘Over and Over Again’ first,” frontman Bert McCracken explains, “was because of the underlying message of the importance of being yourself. That’s a really generalised, trueto-the-point-of The Used theme that has been persistent since the beginning.”
took his life, so it represents something that’s so tip-of-the-tongue.” “I drove a lot in LA while I was recording, and whenever I’d have a sentence come to mind, that I thought was important, I’d pull over. I think a big part of it has to do with the growth as humans. [Five years ago] I quit drinking, I replaced alcohol with books in a big, big way, and I wanted to think about this record more like a book, and I wanted the story to be cohesive; we needed to climax at the end.” “The greatest stories are always retold,” Bert says of his literary inspirations. “Homer’s a perfect example of some of the best retellings, [so are] Ulysses and [the band’s 2013 EP] ’The Ocean of the Sky’. We are what we eat, there’s a lot of reflection of the world as it is, and how that affects humans created boredom and mortality. I feel like if you have the time, take the time. “Some of my favourite books, they force me to, like a physical painting, sit and stare at them and take them in. [Then] art becomes something else. Infinite Jest [by American writer David Foster Wallac] is a book that I always go back to over and over, and when I read it, it’s hard work. “I wanted people to take a look at the talismanic numbers and The Book of Revelation, and why the Syrian civil war is like the Spanish civil war is like the war in the Bible in the battle of Armageddon. If you have the time, it’s worth it.” Recording the songs onto tape was a new experience for the band that contributed massively to the album’s feeling. The record’s opening seconds are a raw 5
experience of Bert crying for Traegan.
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“There’s this process of recording vocals that’s really special with [producer] Ross Robinson - we’ve called it psychic surgery in the past, it’s really on a psychic level of mental and emotional connection to the vibrations of music. It’s a special thing that it does special things, and usually the little “sessions” we’d have would be about an hour or longer before I’d end up singing any words or notes.
“Everybody was in the session that night [we recorded the opening on ‘For You’], the whole band was sitting on the floor, our good friend Ryan Muirhead was taking photos - you can hear the photos being taken. From when we first started to put the record together, when I was at Justin [Shetoski, guitarist]’s and mapping out vocals, the idea of this song came to us in a moment. It was very heavy at his house. He lost his dad ten years ago, and I never really thought about writing about Traegan until that night. “For me, it was so much of what the record felt like, but also why I fought for it to be on there, is my obsession with annular connections, and Hamlet’s peak of the ghost, that I think it sets the precedence for the record. At the beginning of the play, the ghost appears out of nowhere and then the play starts, it’s the same with Infinite Jest, the beginning is really, really telling, and I really wanted to encourage people to take the whole record in.” ‘The Canyon’ seems like a rebirth, especially considering the inspiration
“A LOT OF IT WAS REALLY PAINFUL…” BERT MCCRACKEN
Justin has brought to The Used since he joined in 2015. As this record is such a monumental point in the band’s career, was there any point where things felt like they were faltering? “Things always go in waves, and there are plateaus, and I think with art especially, you have your moments of what you’re into at the moment, and it reflects in what you create,” Bert ponders. “But as far as personal relationships, it’s always tough, and I’ve always wanted to keep all the love and respect in my heart for what The Used is, and every member being an important part. “The Used is bigger than the four people who started it, and the four that are in it now. I don’t know if losing the passion is ever something I would say because I’ve never taken a moment away from what I know I was born to do.” “In the last five years, not drinking has allowed me to have a really clear vision of myself,” Bert continues, “and the people around me, and “self” and what that means, having a daughter. Making this record, I’ve never worked on anything harder, and that’s when
I’ve felt closer to peace. I feel like maybe peace is this aggressive, passionate drive, endless hard work that’s selfless. I think The Used fans and anyone else who listens to this record would with an open heart, hear that music can portray things that maybe we can’t talk about that are so tip-of-the-tongue, hearing it is worth more than you can talk about. “Everything I’ve ever loved is in [the record]. Kurt Cobain is all over the place, it’s unavoidable for me, and with this record, I tried just to let it come out and not think about it and not think about what other people might think. As an artist, it’s always the correct path. A lot of it was really painful, so it’s impossible to think. For me, the idea is as honest as it could be, to not fix anything was portraying all my heroes, and that’s the fun part for me. There are shout-outs to everyone I love. It’s bigger and better live, and we did a little acoustic version of ‘About You (No Songs Left to Sing)’, and these songs are so emotionally connected to something bigger that it’s an overwhelming experience.” P The Used’s album ‘The Canyon’ is out 27th October.
5 T H I N G S YO U S H O U L D K N OW A BO U T
id you catch Paceshifters supporting their label buds Frank Iero and the Patience on tour over the past few weeks? Good, weren’t they? Here are five things you should know about the Dutch trio.
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
THEY RECORDED NEW ALBUM ‘WAITING TO DERAIL’ IN TEXAS “That was awesome!” says drummer Jesper Albers. “A few years ago we met this awesome band named Residual Kid from Austin. When we heard their song ‘Scentless Princess’ we really liked the sound of it so we hooked up with the producer who happened to be Chris ‘Frenchie’ Smith from Austin, Texas. “First we had some Skype sessions with Chris and talked about how we wanted to record our songs and in what way it would come out best. Chris knew exactly what we were looking for so we planned a trip to Austin.
NEED TO KNOW
“We recorded our songs at The Bubble Studio in four weeks. We tracked all the songs live, except for the vocals and some additional guitar. “And we were lucky we could stay with Residual Kid’s singer/guitarist Deven and his family for which we are still very thankful.”
THEIR NEW ALBUM TACKLES SOME HEAVY TOPICS, BUT IT’S NOT ALL MISERABLE “It’s about fucking things up so many times that after a while you start to lose grip and it all falls apart. It’s about scaremongering in the media. It’s about wondering what the world will look like in 20 years. It’s about people that are stuck in a downward spiral that they can’t get out of. But it’s also about love.” THEY WANT EVERYONE TO SEE THEM LIVE “With rock music nothing beats the live
AS IT IS HAVE ANNOUNCED A UK HEADLINE TOUR FOR 2018 As It Is will tour next spring. Their biggest UK headline run to date, the six date stint will kick off on 9th March in Nottingham and culminate at London’s KOKO. “These will be far and away our biggest, most ambitious headline shows to date,” says singer Patty, “and we’re so excited.” Support comes from Like Pacific and Grayscale.
experience. We like nothing more than playing live on stage and love to share that with as many people as possible.”
THEY LIKE TO TRAVEL IN STYLE “We’re making some bunk beds in our van so that we have a place to crash after our upcoming shows,” they explained just before hitting the road with Frank. “It looks like we’re sleeping with our backline instead of something more pleasant…” THEY’RE ALSO PALS WITH GLASWEGIAN TRIO, FATHERSON “We did some shows in Germany with a band from Glasgow called Fatherson, who turned out to be great guys. I’m hoping that they will come to our show in Glasgow [with Frank] to pay us a visit!” P Paceshifters’ album ‘Waiting To Derail’ is out now.
MARMOZETS’ NEW ALBUM IS OUT JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS Marmozets’ forthcoming full-length ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ is set to arrive on 26th January. “We created the album for ourselves,” says rhythm guitarist Sam. “It’s not that we don’t care about our fans – we absolutely love them – but the reason they like what we do is because of the way we are.” It’s preceded by single ‘Habits’.
DIET CIG CAS E ST U DY : A L E X LU C I A N O,
FIND OUT WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS TAKE ON THE ROAD!
“I literally cannot survive without my fanny pack, it’s always within 10 feet of me and the real reason I’m on a personal record-breaking 14-day streak of not losing my phone”
“A friend to encourage your wildest schemes, take selfies with, and tell you to go bigger with the eyeliner.”
“A fist full of confetti!!! It makes every day feel like a surprise party and is also a perfect sabotage weapon. Best of both worlds.”
“Food-related magazines!! I’m obsessed with Lucky Peach and Put A Egg On It. Reading about food is my ultimate secret pleasure. For when I’m stressing the heck out in the van.”
“My skincare essentials, I couldn’t live without these. It def takes a lot more than these three products to make me glow, BUT these are the tried and true ones I can’t live without. Yes To Tomatoes, Cloud Paint and Rosebud Salve forever.”
TONIGHT ALIVE’S FOURTH ALBUM ‘UNDERWORLD’ IS DUE IN JANUARY Tonight Alive have announced their new album, the follow up to 2016’s ‘Limitless’. ’Underworld’ will be released via the band’s new label Hopeless Records on 12th January, preceded by the single ‘Temple’. “I named it that because it reflects the ugly parts of me that I wasn’t ready to see until now,” Jenna explains.
THE BEST OF GREEN DAY IS COMING THIS NOVEMBER Green Day will release a new greatest hits compilation titled ‘God’s Favourite Band’ on 17th November. Two new songs are included, the as-yet unheard ‘Back In The USA’ and a new recording of ‘Revolution Radio’ closer ‘Ordinary World’ featuring country star Miranda Lambert. It marks the trio’s second ‘best-of’ after 2002’s ‘International Superhits’.
DEAD! ARE SET TO DROP THEIR DEBUT ALBUM IN THE NEW YEAR Dead! are set to hit the road early next year, with their debut album in tow. Titled ‘The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying’, the band’s first full-length will be released on 26th January. They’ll then kick off a run round the UK at Leeds’ Key Club, staying on the road through to the end of February. The tour also includes a night at London’s 100 Club. 9
THE LIFE OF
MUSINGS ON LIFE AND DEATH ARE NOTHING NEW FOR EXISTENTIAL PUNKS IRON CHIC. YET ON NEW ALBUM ‘YOU CAN’T STAY HERE’, THINGS JUST GOT PERSONAL…
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
ron Chic have always been fond of pop culture references. Whether it’s a nod to college rockers the Gin Blossoms (‘True Miserable Experience’) or Ghostbusters (‘Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good’), they possess the ability to bounce emotions and meaning through cultural touchstones. ‘You Can’t Stay Here’, the Long Island punk outfit’s third album is no exception. And it just might be their finest moment to date. It hasn’t been an easy ride to get here. In 2016, life in Iron Chic ground to a halt following the passing of founding guitarist Rob McAllister. With plans to produce an album that year, it’s taken the group 18 months to process their grief – much of which is worked through on ‘You Can’t Stay Here’. The result is an album that ruminates on mortality, but is, ironically, the most
WORDS: ROB MAIR. PHOTO: N ICOLE GUGLIELMO.
life-affirming listen of the year. It ends with ‘To Shreds, You Say’, a line culled from Futurama. Here, Professor Farnsworth receives a telephone call. He picks up the receiver to be told about the death of an old friend: “Did he at least die painlessly?” asks the professor. “To shreds, you say? Tsk tsk tsk. How’s the wife holding up?” A pause. “To shreds, you say…” Like much of ‘You Can’t Stay Here’, it’s a song that meditates on the notion of mortality, yet it possesses that same irreverent, existential viewpoint with which Iron Chic are synonymous. Any doubts about the subject matter dispelled by the telling – and crushing – title. Writing the album was, understandably, a challenge. “It was hard,” acknowledges vocalist Jason Lubrano. “I also had some other personal things going on too, and that
also informed the lyrical content. But it was also cathartic in a way. Some of the songs were written with Rob before he passed. It’s all really weird. In a way, we want to honour him, but at the same time, we want to let our feelings out.” Iron Chic have always excelled in these moments of opposition; the big, weighty, philosophical questions set to bouncy three-minute indie-punk anthems. This time, with the lyrics informed by events close to home, it has led to songs that question the meaning of life in a more personal way compared to the abstract, cosmic nature of ‘The Constant One’ or ‘Not Like This’. That said, the focus remains very much on the big picture. After all, Lubrano is a man who can take an intangible concept, such as that of ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ (ask your friendly neighbourhood quantum physicist) and make it relate to a punk song. For all
“WE CAN EITHER KILL EACH OTHER OR HELP EACH OTHER” JASON LUBRANO
NAME THAT TUNE…
10 OF THE BEST IRON CHIC SONG TITLES the sombre affectations, there’s still hope to be found in Iron Chic’s work; questions of, shouldn’t we be doing more? “I do wish more people would look beyond the petty day-to-day shit that people argue about all the time,” says Lubrano. “We can either kill each other or help each other. And people just seem to go for the shittier option a lot.”
A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH A Batman graphic novel. BOGUS JOURNEY Bill and Ted’s second excellent adventure. (CASTLE) NUMBSKULL Bastardisation of He-Man’s residence, Castle Grayskull.
And while you could get bogged down in the message – after all, Iron Chic’s lyrics are best digested with a PBR and 200 other singing, swaying patrons – it comes back to this idea of making everything relatable. Here, the group’s song titles help to centre proceedings. ‘You Can’t Stay Here’ is no exception. ‘Planes, Chest Pains and Automobiles’ riffs off Planes, Trains and Automobiles, while ‘Let’s. Get. Dangerous’ was the Darkwing Duck’s catchphrase. These all help to show the mindset of the group. It does kind of feel like cheating though – like taking a peek behind the wizard’s curtain.
DON’T DRIVE ANGRY A line from Groundhog Day.
“Picking song titles is hard sometimes,” considers Lubrano. “I don’t like picking a lyric or a line and making it from that. But, if something doesn’t pop into my head, I will just go down an internet rabbit hole myself. If there’s a particular theme, I’ll Google it, or go on Wikipedia and see if
TIMECOP Silly Jean Claude Van Damme action vehicle.
EVERY TOWN HAS AN ELM STREET Nightmare on Elm Street. L’ESPIRIT DE L’ESCALIER French phrase for when you think of the perfect reply too late. LANGOLIERS A Stephen King short story. SUBHUMANOID MELTDOWN The full title of ‘classic’ Troma horror Class of Nuke ‘Em High 2.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW? A Superman comic.
anything pops out. But it’s a lot of comic or movie references and stuff.” The titles represent playful and knowing breaks of light when set against the considered lyrics and sombre theme of the record. While ‘You Can’t Stay Here’ covers themes such as death and grief, it isn’t the first punk album to tackle this topic recently. Touché Amore’s ‘Stage Four’ was a similarly powerful rumination, as was Pianos Become The Teeth’s ‘Lack Long After’. Combined with The Menzingers’ midlife crises on ‘After The Party’, it feels like punk has grown into lyrical maturity. “I think it’s just the fact that so many of us have now grown up with punk music our whole lives – or at least since we were teenagers,” considers Lubrano. “You have a lot of older people still active in making music and enjoying music, and I think that comes across now. You have a lot of people thinking about their lives, and I think that means punk can be a little bit more emotionally vulnerable now.” Punk lifers in the truest sense (Iron Chic’s history dates back to the likes of Latterman and Small Arms Dealer), it feels like the group are on the cusp of something special, breaking out from the US underground into a wider arena. ‘You Can’t Stay Here’ is an album that resonates thanks to its depth and complexity, tackling big themes with candour. While the very essence of Iron Chic has always felt like a shared, communal experience, it feels like this community is going to get a little bigger rather soon… P Iron Chic’s album ‘You Can’t Stay Here’ is out now. 11
BOTH DEAF HAVANA AND LONELY THE BRAVE - TWO OF BRIT-ROCK’S FINEST - ARE SET TO REISSUE THEIR MOST RECENT ALBUMS IN EXTRA SPECIAL ‘REDUX’ PACKAGES. WE CAUGHT UP WITH THEM BOTH TO FIND OUT IF IT’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER...
DEAF DEAF HAVANA HAVANA
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
Album title: ‘All These Countless Nights - Reworked’ Release date: 27th October What’s new: It features the original album tracklisting on disc one, as well as a trio of bonus tracks, while disc two features the entire album reworked
HI JAMES! YOU GUYS HAVE HAD A BUSY YEAR FOLLOWING ‘ALL THESE COUNTLESS NIGHTS’ ANY PARTICULAR HIGHLIGHTS? We have indeed, which is pretty new for us, we haven’t been the busiest of bands in the past few years. I think the biggest highlight for me was our headline show in February this year at the Kentish Town Forum in London. It was potentially my favourite show of all time, I have never heard a crowd sing that loudly in my life and pretty much everyone I care about was in the room. It was just an overwhelming experience. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT REWORKING THE TRACKS? For some of the tracks we basically tried to get as far away from the original as possible. For instance, ‘L.O.V.E’ is the darkest and heaviest song
on the original record, so we decided to make it into a feel-good acoustic song. I always enjoy projects like this because I like to think of a song as just an idea that has multiple different potential ways in which it could turn out, the original versions are just one of those, so it’s nice to have another chance to let the song take a different path. DOES WORKING ON THE TRACKS IN THIS WAY CHANGE THE WAY YOU VIEW THE ORIGINALS? There are definitely some of the new versions that I prefer. I think we will be playing a few of the reworked versions on our tour in November.
DO YOU THINK YOUR TIME WORKING ON THIS RELEASE WILL IN ANY WAY INFORM WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR NEXT ALBUM? It definitely opens my mind up to completely different genres of music, but I tend to try and make each record sound different anyway, with or without working on these new versions.
THAT’LL BE FUN. Absolutely, I’ve always been a fan of switching up songs live anyway so we will 100% be doing this.
HOW DID YOU HOOK UP WITH THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA? THAT SOUNDS SUPER FANCY. It was actually our record label that hooked us up; I think they had played on some soundtrack stuff for them before, so that’s how they knew them. I’m incredibly glad that it was able to happen though because I think it sounds amazing.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE NEW VERSION? I think it has to be ‘Ashes, Ashes’ just because I’m very proud of the string arrangements that Adam Noble (producer) and I wrote for this, as neither of us play classical stringed instruments.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU GUYS? Well, I have to spend some time writing for our next record I suppose, don’t want to leave it three and a half years between albums again. But after that we have a tour in the UK and Germany in November so we will be rehearsing for that. P
LONELY LONELY THE THE BRAVE BRAVE
Album title: ‘Things Will Matter (Redux)’ Release date: 10th November What’s new: The album’s title-track (which didn’t appear on the original release) is subbed in for original opener ‘Wait In The Car’, before leading into redux versions of the remaining eleven tracks
HI MARK! IT’S BEEN A WHILE, HASN’T IT - HOW ARE YOU GUYS? HAVE YOU HAD A GOOD SUMMER? You know, it has been a while. How are we? I think we are okay thank you. How are you? Summer has been quite bizarre really as we made the conscious decision to take this year off from the perspective of playing live. We have hit it so hard for the last four years that it seemed like the right time to take a step back and take stock of what is going on, both in our personal lives and as a band. HOW ARE YOU GUYS FEELING NOW A YEAR OR SO ON FROM ‘THINGS WILL MATTER’? HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ALBUM EVOLVED OVER THAT TIME? That album is a rollercoaster for me. I’m
still very proud of it, but if I hear it on the off chance now, I would have done some things differently. I would have spent more time getting certain aspects closer to where I expected in my head. It was a very odd time for us when we recorded that record. We had just fallen out with our last label and were dealing with the turmoil that brings. The situation definitely affected the sound of the record. YOU DID A FEW REDUX VERSIONS OF TRACKS FROM YOUR DEBUT TOO DIDN’T YOU, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS STYLE OF RELEASE THAT APPEALS TO YOU? The idea that a song has no definitive form is appealing. We are into such different music, so it is really refreshing to approach some of our tracks with a different mindset and see where that takes them. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PUTTING SOMETHING LIKE THIS TOGETHER? Ross, Bush and I spend a large amount of time messing around with the arrangements and instrumentation of the tracks at my home studio, which we then transferred to the studio properly over several different sessions spanning a six month period from memory. The disjointed approach to time-scales and recording doesn’t suit me well though I have to say. You can lose the flow of what you’re doing. Maybe that could add to the overall sound as well, but it certainly doesn’t make for an easy working environment.
DOES THIS KIND OF RELEASE MAKE YOU WANT TO EXPERIMENT FURTHER, OR DOES IT HAVE THE OPPOSITE EFFECT OF GETTING THOSE IDEAS OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM? I think the two sides of our band (redux and full-on rock band mode) become ever more intertwined - maybe one day there will be no gap, and they will be one and the same, we shall see. I try not to think how it will pan out and just let it happen. ARE THERE ANY OF THE NEW VERSIONS THAT YOU’RE PARTICULARLY FOND OF? I’m glad that “Things Will Matter” will finally be getting a proper release. We have had that track for as long as I can remember. It’s actually hidden on one of the first EPs we ever did! DID YOU PRODUCE MUCH NEW MATERIAL DURING YOUR STUDIO TIME, OR WERE YOU FOCUSED ON THIS RELEASE? We solely focussed on the Redux record. The focus is now on album three. SO WHERE NEXT FOR YOU GUYS? That’s a really good question, and honestly, I’m not sure of the answer. We have some hurdles to overcome but that aside the focus will now be album three. It needs to be a record that steps up and pushes us forward as a band from where we have been. It can’t be rushed, it needs to be right, and it needs to be special. This will take time. P
PLAYLIST THERE’S A WHOLE UNIVERSE OF MUSIC OUT THERE TO LISTEN TO. HERE ARE TEN TRACKS YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO THIS MONTH.
This might just be their best single to date - ‘Habits’ is massive, completely infectious and sounds like a full on classic already. From new album ‘Knowing What You Know Now’, due 26th January.
Hurrah, No Age are back and making a racket. The duo haven’t released an album since 2013, but they haven’t lost their knack for the most delicious lo-fi noise-rock. From new album ‘Snares Like A Haircut’, due 26th January. LIS TE N TO TH I
TOO FAR GONE
‘Too Far Gone’ is probably the most aggressive song of this month’s bunch. Produced by Wzrd Bld, it’s about a “short and dangerously intense romance with LSD”. From… well, it’s not on 2016 album ‘Smile’, so you do the maths.
‘Stay Ignorant’ has crazy catchy verses - it’s packed with headbopping goodness, and some “woahs”, too. From new album ‘Technology’, due early 2018.
‘Temple’ is everything you’d want from Tonight Alive. Now a four-piece following the departure of Whakaio, it’s a track of heartfelt lyrics and soaring melodies. From new album ‘Underworld’, due 12th January.
Dallas pop-punkers Oh, Weatherly have signed to Hopeless Records for new EP, ‘Make You Bright’. It’s is all a bit emosh, with the lads wearing their hearts on their sleeve. From new EP ‘Make You Bright’, out now.
E V E RY T H I N G H A P P E N I N G I N RO C K
TONIGHT ALIVE TEMPLE
SOFT COLLAR FAD
Newcomers GLOO’s single ‘Force You’ is a sub-three minute slice of noise punk made to be played at window-rattling, piss-off-theneighbours volume. From… well, they have a debut album in the works.
MAKE YOU BRIGHT
HOODIE (FEAT. AYO & TEO)
Now featuring rap group Ayo & Teo, ‘Hoodie’ remains very much in its original glory until the duo break down the bridge with a verse of their own. It’s a track of fresh-faced goodness and juicy hooks. From… nowt?
Sad news, guys. VANT are going on hiatus. To help say goodbye, they’re heading off on tour, and have a new EP from which they’ve released super fun track ‘Jump’. From new mini-album ‘Talk Like Thunder’, coming soon.
The title-track of Turbowolf’s new album, ‘The Free Life’ finds them in fine form, with pounding drums and overdriven guitars propelling vocalist Chris’s trademark howl. From new album ‘The Free Life’, due March 2018.
THE FREE LIFE
OCEANS THE DEBUT SINGLE
OUT NOW via Silent Kid Records “Fuzzed-up Pavement-influenced” - Upset Magazine “An exciting new Durham-based melodic guitar band” - Narc Magazine “Fuzzy pop” - NE Volume Magazine
BREAK THE BEST NEW BANDS TH E H OT TEST NEW MUSIC
MELBOURNE’S ALEX LAHEY MAKES THE KIND OF SCUZZED-UP, HOOK-LADEN, TOTALLY RELATABLE TUNES IT’S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH. Hey Alex, how’s it going? Have you had a good summer? Hey! I’m well thank you. Funnily enough, it hasn’t been summer in Australia at all, it’s been winter but I managed to avoid most of it by going to New York for a month where I enjoyed actually being warm and getting outdoors! Congrats on your new album, ‘I Love You Like A Brother’. How long were you working on it and what sort of headspace were you in when you began? Thank you so much! The actual recording process didn’t take that long as it was recorded incrementally - it all took place between January and April of this year, between tours. The songs themselves were largely written in the last 12 months but one snuck in from a couple of years ago that didn’t go on the last EP but has since been revived. Initially, the prospect of making an album was pretty daunting, but once I got into it, I realised why people love making records and why how it can put you in an enjoyable, all-consuming headspace. Do you have a favourite spot to write your music? At home. I have a little writing room in my house - I live with my mum and my two cats. It’s at the point now there’s so much touring, there’s no point in me paying rent in a place I’m never at - so I’m lucky to have this spot at home and have a settled place to write, which I find much harder to do on the road. How did you find your time in the studio? I recorded this record with Oscar Dawson who produced my 16
previous EP - the relationship we had from that recording made sure it felt like a self-space and somewhere I felt comfortable I could be heard. Mostly I just found it fun, which is something that hasn’t been the case in the past… the pre-production has become part of my writing process so by the time I get to the studio I can hit the ground running, and that’s empowering. What’s the secret to making a good album, do you think? Giving it a red hot go and not thinking too hard about making a “good album”. But who am I to say what a good album is? Ha! Do you have a favourite moment on ‘I Love You Like A Brother’? My favourite song is probably ‘Backpack’ - I feel like I pushed myself in the arrangement and it’s one of the few times where being quite a lyrically driven writer that I allowed space from the words and let the music take over. Does ‘the state of the world’ impact your music, or are you able to shut it out? Fuckin’ hell - big question! I’m a firm believer that there’s an intrinsic link between art and life so of course there’s going to be some link - whether it’s the state of the world or my own world - that impacts on my writing. I think now more than ever; politics is impacting everyone on an individual basis, so the state of the world impacts me as a person, and therefore my music. I don’t actively try to shut it out though. You’ve loads of tour dates coming up, is there anywhere you’re
“WHO AM I TO SAY WHAT A GOOD ALBUM IS?” especially looking forward to visiting? I’m looking forward to coming back to the UK, having toured there earlier in the year with Tegan and Sara, to do my own shows and revisit some of the places we did on that tour. My band and I are also really excited about London Calling in Amsterdam at the iconic Paradiso. Do you have any tips for surviving weeks on the road? There’s this awesome natural cold remedy that my manager told me about called Sambucol which magically heals you if you take it the moment you start to feel a bit sick. It’s one of those things that works, and you just don’t ask any questions - it’s made of elderberry or something. It’s really good! P Alex Lahey’s album ‘I Love You Like A Brother’ is out now.
ECCA ECCA VANDAL VANDAL ECCA VANDAL’S DEBUT IS PACKED FULL OF ATTITUDE - AND YOU CAN SEE IT FOR YOURSELF WHEN SHE SUPPORTS FRANK CARTER ON TOUR THIS DECEMBER.
Hey Ecca, your new single ‘Broke Days, Party Nights’ is great - tell us about how it came together. Me and my co-writer/producer Rich “Kidnot” Buxton were at our home studio, and we were playing around with this synth, and this weird 16 note pattern came out. We were like, “Hey, that’s cool let’s drop a beat to that.” We never know where my tunes are going to end up, but I think we were initially thinking of going in a hectic electro direction but it ended up being a straight-up sort of punk tune instead. How did you develop your style as a musician? What were your early influences? When I was younger, I was all about Jazz. I loved Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miles, Coltrane, all the greats. My sisters who were older were listening to only R’n’B and hip-hop, so that started creeping into my psyche. I remember hearing, I think it might have been Nas’s ‘The World Is Yours’ and thinking, “Hey, these tunes sound like Jazz but kinda “new” and I really like that. As I got into my late teens, I guess my thoughts towards music shifted. Although I still loved Jazz, I didn’t want to write music in a style that’s already been executed perfectly 50 years ago.
So I started listening to more hip-hop that led to reggae, which led to ska, and that led to punk. How did you get yourself from those early days writing music, to supporting Queens of the Stone Age on tour and releasing your debut album through Island Records? Hard work. I think I’ve worked 12 to 16 hour days for the last three years straight on my music. When you live it you just believe in it and put it out to the world. I guess then it lands in the hands of people who dig it and want to work with you, which is awesome and I’m super grateful for that opportunity. So, your debut album - how did you find putting it together? It was a labour of love. Rich “Kidnot” and I recorded the majority of it from our small living room in our two bedroom apartment. We both played pretty much all the instruments on the songs, so it was a massive process. We did collab with a few people. Rich and I went to NYC and did a session with Darwin Deez. We took that track back to Melbourne where Rich and I worked it up some more and got an amazing MC, Sampa the Great to collab on it as well.
‘Future Heroine’ was another song that was a collab session outside my living room. I went over to New Zealand and did a writing session with Mike Elizondo, and ‘Future Heroine’ came from that. We also worked with Moonbase on a tune called ‘Dead Wait’, which was sick. There is another jam off the record that goes by the name ‘Price of Living’ which Rich and I wrote, but we wanted to get other players to put their vibe on it. Dennis Lyxzen (Refused) and Jason Aalon Butler (Letlive, The Fever 333) are featured vocalists. Are your tracks autobiographical? A lot of the tunes are autobiographical; some tunes are about experiences of very close friends of mine, who are cool with me telling their story. Other tunes have come about from watching the news or reading the paper and just seeing how backwards the world still is. Do you have any plans to come to the UK? December baby, I can hardly wait! Supporting Frank Carter and Basement! P Ecca Vandal’s self-titled debut album is out 20th October.
MOVEMENTS FOLLOW THEIR ‘OUTGROWN THINGS’ EP WITH EMO-TINGED POST-HARDCORE LP ‘FEEL SOMETHING’. “THIS IS THE STRONGEST COLLECTION OF SONGS WE’VE EVER MADE,” SAYS FRONTMAN PAT MIRANDA. Hey Pat, how’s summer been in California? I haven’t gotten to enjoy the California summer much because I’ve been on the road for most of it, but the time I’ve gotten to spend here is great. I love hot weather. How did you all meet and decide to form a band? Austin, our bass player, and I went to high school together and formed a horrible garage pop-punk band when we were like 14 years old. From playing in that band we met our drummer Spencer who was playing in another local band at the time. After both of those bands inevitably crashed and burned and we grew up a little bit more we formed Movements. Ira came along a little after Movements had started and he just seemed like the perfect fit. What’s your favourite thing about being a musician? I love being able to travel and do what I love every single day. I hate working jobs that are boring or monotonous and with touring every day is different. How did you go about putting together ‘Feel Something’? We started the writing process for ‘Feel Something’ almost immediately after we put out our first EP ‘Outgrown Things’.
Each song was written over the course of a year and a half. We spent a lot of time just jamming together in our practice studio. Sometimes we write on the road, sometimes I’d write a song myself and bring it to the guys to turn it into a full song. We even spent some time isolated in a cabin in the woods with no access to internet or cell reception so we could focus 100% of our efforts into our music. They all came about very organically and overall we feel like they’re the strongest collection of songs that we’ve ever made. Are there any songs on the album that are particularly important to you? This is a hard question for me to answer because every song is very important to me. All of my lyrics are based on very personal experiences and I put a lot of emotion and soul into them. Even now I don’t really have an answer for this question. I’ve been sitting on this for 15 minutes now and don’t think I can name just one that means the most. You’re playing some UK tour dates with Knuckle Puck soon, have you been over before? We’ve never been anywhere outside the US except for Canada! This will be my first time ever going overseas and the band’s first time touring in multiple countries. We’re very, very excited.
Is there anything you’re especially looking forward to doing while you’re here? Besides playing shows and experiencing what the shows are going to be like over there I’m excited to sightsee and do touristy things. Like I said before travel is a very important part of why I do what I do and I want to make the most of our trip. How do you prepare for long stints on the road? Is there anything you always pack? I don’t really do much to prepare - I’m a road dog! I could tour for three months at a time and not get sick of it. As far as packing essentials go I always need a pair of headphones, deodorant, a phone charger and a comfy pillow. What would make you sit back and think you’d ‘made it’ with Movements? I already think I made it with Movements. My goal from the beginning was to play local shows and have people singing along knowing the words. Movements has already completely surpassed all of my expectations and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given. P Movements’ debut album ‘Feel Something’ is out 20th October. 19
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: BRENDAN WALTER.
WITH THEIR LAST ALBUM, WEEZER WENT BACK TO THEIR ROOTS WITH GLORIOUS RESULTS. THEIR FOLLOW UP, ‘PACIFIC DAYDREAM’, PROVES THEY’RE A BAND WHO CAN’T STAND STILL.
EEZER HAVE SPENT THE PAST TWENTY-SOMETHING YEARS DEFINING AND REDEFINING THEIR WORLD OF BIG MELODIES AND BIG EMOTION. CONTINUALLY SEARCHING OUT THE NEW, EACH ALBUM CAPTURES A SNAPSHOT OF A BAND ALWAYS ON THE MOVE. ‘Pacific Daydream’ once again sees Rivers Cuomo (vocals, guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass) burning things down and starting again. “This is what, album eleven?” grins Rivers. “We’ve done so many 180s we’ve covered the whole circle,” he smiles. He feels “pretty damn good” about what’s to come. Chapter ten was the White Album, a critical darling and fan favourite, which saw Weezer recapture and distil their urgency. Born from the desire to do something entirely new and different while maintaining the allure of the classic, it was created by “going back and forth, trying to figure out the best way to move forward and press the most pleasure buttons for everyone.” Tracks like ‘Thank God For Girls’ saw the band write over samples for the first time. “It feels different, and it’s definitely a new sound for Weezer,” Rivers explained just after the record came out. “But it’s still definitely a Weezer song.” There’s something about this band that manages to maintain a musical identity even when trying to kickstart a revolution. “Everybody thinks they’re going to go into the studio and be super adventurous and throw out the rulebook, but sometimes you just sound like you,” Pat shared last summer. The White Album felt like “a minor victory” for Weezer, but it didn’t change things enough. “The positive reception only confirms the direction we were already going in,” Rivers said at the time. “It feels like our audience trusts us now and we have a little more leeway to be experimental on the next record. The audience is ready to be challenged more.” “That’s why we wanted to do something more radical this time around,” Rivers muses - and that’s where ‘Pacific Daydream’ comes from. “It’s the first time we’ve managed to change the guitar approach. Instead of just the distorted eighth note, downstroke, power chord thing, we’re trying a bunch of different sounds. There are cleaner sounds, echo and reverb.” Usually, there’s a crunch to Weezer, a grungy guitar hero in every track, but this album sways, twisting in the melancholy beauty. “We’ll slow dance, head on my shoulder,” sings ‘Happy Hour’ just before reminding us that everything is going to be alright. The something different wasn’t always going to be the luscious transportation of ‘Pacific Daydream’, all iconic sixties inspiration of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson cut with their rock band comfort, though. “We set out to do The Black Album, which was to be the opposite of The White Album - very dark and experimental and weird.” As always with Weezer, it didn’t quite turn out that way. “There’s just something about the beach and the sun. That’s very much a 22
RIVERS CUOMO part of who we are, and it’s hard to turn the other direction, especially when I live right here by the beach in LA.” With the want to sound “like a four-piece rock band” central to everything they do, ‘Pacific Daydream’ is “like a seventies British punk band like The Clash playing The Beach Boys.” It feels like new ground. It feels like home. “Right after touring with Panic! At The Disco last summer, we started writing with the intention of making The Black Album,” says Rivers. “[However] some of the songs I wrote didn’t fit that album, so I put them in this other folder off to the side. As I kept writing, that other folder filled up first and seemed like a strong album unto itself, and that’s what became ‘Pacific Daydream’.” It was one of those things that just happened. “It wasn’t totally conscious or intentional. Yeah, we had the idea for The Black Album, but it was mainly ‘cos the last one was White. It just seemed fun to have that contrast. Writing for a theme like that is always very loose and pencilled in. We started going towards that and then, very spontaneously, these other songs started coming out.” Weezer were always going to chase excitement and the new. “Rather than try and combine all the songs, we kept them separate. The same thing happened when I was writing for ‘Pinkerton’ in ‘95. At the same time I was writing those songs, I was writing these country-pop songs that were totally different, so I just decided, let’s keep these songs in two separate piles rather than try and combine them.” It’s an assertive decision that’s stuck and is something they all agree on. “We like to keep each record very unified, to keep the albums as individuals. They each have their own limited pallet and their own feeling. It
doesn’t feel like we’re just picking the ten best songs regardless of what they’re about or what style they are. We want the album and all the songs to fit together and work, so the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. “The cool thing about that is we’re able to keep making albums very quickly because once we finish one album, there are already a couple of other albums that are nearly done.” How many partially sketched out albums are currently sat in the Weezer vault? “I don’t want to talk about that too much because I want to keep the focus, as much as I can, on the album we’re putting out. We still have those Black Album songs...” But Rivers doesn’t know if they’ll ever be released. “I think they will, but I’ve been writing recently, and now something else is happening with some more piano-based songs.” HE WHITE ALBUM WAS A RECORD ABOUT THE EXCITEMENT OF A DAY AT THE BEACH, engulfed in the joy of making new connections and having experiences that would last through the ages. It bounded about the place, carefree and untethered. ‘Pacific Daydream’ finds the band still at the shore, but with the sun setting on the horizon. The day is drawing to a close under the very present danger that this won’t last forever, so there’s a desire to savour this feeling and make the most of every moment. It started with the idea of a daydream. “That was my original inspiration,” Rivers explains. “This idea of this world we could create at a bar by the beach, where you can go escape with your friends. There’s still lots of sadness, but you can transcend it with the music and the camaraderie. I wanted it to be 23
someone’s t-shirt, a line from a poem, a line from a movie - and then other times it’ll be the other way around. It’ll start out with a bit of text I saw somewhere else, a scene in a movie, then I’ll go from there and write my own story into it. It’s usually best if I have a bit of both in any one song.” “’Get Right’ is about really wanting to be more social and have a relationship,” Rivers explains. “It’s about feeling lonely but, for some reason, not being in the right mindstate to get out of the house and to connect to other people. I just had this image of myself hiding under the stairs.”
RIVERS CUOMO so vivid that it feels like you’re entering this world, this real world, and you start to question whether you’re the listener listening to the Weezer album or you’re one of these characters in the album that’s imagining the listener.” From the opening grab of ‘Mexican Fender’, through the twinkle of ‘QB Blitz’ and the melancholy sparkle of ‘Feels Like Summer’ until the bonfire skip of ‘Any Friend of Diane’s’, ‘Pacific Daydream’ is a record of wistful gazes and fullbodied immersion. There’s a universe to unravel, but it still feels personal. The record was initially called ‘Somebody’s Daydream’, but where’s the magic in someone else’s escape? “Pat thought the word ‘Somebody’s’ wasn’t all that attractive so he came up with the modification ‘Pacific’ and everyone liked that.” It’s a similar story with the artwork. Initially chosen because the band liked it - “Yeah, this feels amazing” - there’s a depth to their gut reactions. Deeper meanings lifted up in the excitement of the heartfelt. “When I start to pick that image apart, I can see a lot of themes in there that I relate to and can hear on ‘Pacific Daydream’. There’s that feeling of loneliness with this girl out in space, but then there’s the whole planet of six million people right there, and she can see them all, but she’s not really in the same space as them or connected to them in the way they’re connected to 24
each other.” Weezer blend the fantastic with the everyday. ‘Pacific Daydream’ feels otherworldy but is grounded in the earth between your toes, the things you can reach out and touch. Lyrically, some it is character play and storytelling, the rest is confessional. That mix is “about 50/50,” says Rivers. ‘Mexican Fender’ has its foundations in a day he spent with La Sera’s Katy Goodman, while ‘Beach Boys’ seems like a simple ode to a band who mean so much. Instead of simple retellings and straight arrow narrative, the winding reactionary emotions become the heroes of our story. “It seems like with each album I get more interested in character play and putting other people’s words in my mouth, and just being surprised and amused at how my character changes as I adapt different language. It is really fun but at the same time, there are still things I need to say from the depth of my psyche, and I just say those things in plain language or stream of conscious metaphors. I just make sure there are lots of different flavours on the albums.” Usually this blend happens within one song. “I need a bit of both,” he continues. “I need a little salt and pepper. Sometimes the first draft of a lyric will be my own personal rantings, and then I’ll go back and replace some of the lines with some lines I found somewhere else - maybe a slogan on
Elsewhere, ‘La Mancha Screwjob’, apart from being a brilliant phrase, is about somebody he once worked with and “having mixed feelings about them as a collaborator, but ultimately realising we’re much better than anything I can do on my own. Owning up to the mistakes I made in that relationship and reaffirming the value I see in that relationship. “‘QB Blitz’ is about another person in my creative life, a collaborator. That one’s ultimately about disappointment with decisions that had been made, and that feeling of, ‘Why did I trust other people when I should have just been going with my own creative instincts?’ I just need to get back in touch with my instincts and go for it, rather than relying on the advice of the experts.” It’s affirmative action that’s mirrored in ‘Beach Boys’. The track uses distorted vocal samples from the titular band’s ex-manager Murry Wilson - also Brian, Dennis and Carl’s father - recorded during the infamous ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ sessions. They see him criticising the Beach Boys’ shift from surf wax America to something more evocative, personal and intimate. Ignoring his advice, the song in question became the Beach Boys’ second Number One single, and a year later they released ‘Pet Sounds’, proving their own instincts right. The parallels burn neon bright. As Weezer move forward, they’ve started to trust each other more. “We’ve gone through so many different phases and so many different ways to make decisions, and it seems like keeping it pretty tight, the four of us, our manager and in this case, Butch Walker [who produced ‘Pacific Daydream’], works well. We pretty much keep it at that, then once it’s done, you can go off, play it to some other people and get some reactions. I guess we have to wait and see how the world reacts to this record, but it feels like we
did a good job this time.” In the loneliness, the isolation and the detachment, there’s a feeling of hope to ‘Pacific Daydream’. It turns out there are some things Weezer just won’t change. “Most of our records are pretty hopeful,” Rivers considers. “It’s my nature when I go to write a song; it never feels likes it’s done until it feels uplifting and no matter what I’m singing about, no matter how dark or angry, the music always makes it feel inspiring, uplifting. It’s hopeful. It’s just what makes me feel good, that’s the kind of music I gravitate
towards as a listener. But then as I’m writing I just keep playing and playing until I feel that way. That’s what I aim for.” Sitting on the edge, there’s also a reflective calm to the album. “Part of it might be the change in producer. Jake Sinclair, who produced The White Album was 29-years-old and was very much a fan of the nineties version of Weezer. He had a very useful, almost juvenile perspective. Butch Walker is our age, he didn’t grow up being a Weezer fan or playing in a Weezer cover band, so he has all these other points of reference
that maybe bring in that mature, reflective side. He’s very knowledgeable about the history of guitar rock, and it was great to have him as a sounding board.” LEVEN ALBUMS IN AND WEEZER ARE STILL EXPERIMENTING, still pushing things forward. Hip-hop flourishes, warped colours and blossoming conviction all add to the escape to Weezer’s new world. It feels like the band have accepted what Weezer is, and what they could be in
the future. “I think part of it is that some time has gone by and we’ve come to terms with the developments in technology and the way music is made,” says Rivers. “Of course, things are going to keep changing, but we’re now somewhat used to the idea of recording into a computer. “You now have infinite tracks available, you have autotune and time correction, we’ve adjusted to all these new techniques, and we’ve heard all the new sounds. We have a more graceful relationship with the current techniques. All the pieces of our lives are in place right now for maximum creativity.” The new turns might not force a mainstream spotlight, but they’re not hiding behind echoes of the past either. “I still have a very reactionary and extreme personality as an artist. I’m always the one to say, ‘No, we have to throw out all this stuff and do this other crazy thing’. But it’s very democratic; there are a lot of very smart, creative people in the room when we’re making the record. Between all of us, we’ve managed to make a subtle and beautifully evolved album.” Three great albums in four years, Weezer are currently full stride. “There are just so many ideas,” Rivers starts. “So many crazy, fun things to try every morning when I get up, I can’t wait to get back to work. I love Spotify; I just love listening to new music on there. “Maybe it’s ‘cos I’m not of the new generation that grew up with all this production and technology, but for me, it’s completely mind-boggling. ‘How the heck are they making these tracks?’ I have the same computer they have, but how do they get those sounds out of it?” he laughs. “It’s inspiring.” Rivers doesn’t know exactly why the band are so productive, or why that’s happening now. “It’s happened before in the past, and at times, it goes away, and then it’ll take us four or five years to put out a record,” he says. But he’s embracing it. “I don’t know what the future holds but I hope we can keep making great records like this.” At no point does ‘Pacific Daydream’ sound like a band going through the motions or running out of places to go. “It’s the joy of creativity, experimentation and exploration,” says Rivers of why he still does this. “And like, maybe hearing what other people are doing, catching a song on the radio and thinking, ‘Man, I want to try that’ or ‘I wonder what would happen if I combined this beat with that
RIVERS CUOMO chord progression and then put a Weezer melody over the top of it’. Then the wheels start turning and next thing you know, you’ve got a whole new album.” The thing is, it’s never just music for music’s sake. They’re entertainers, performers and they long to connect. “I’d like to bring in a lot of new people with this new record,” starts Rivers. “People are going to hear the single ‘Feels Like Summer’, then they’re going to come check out the whole album. It’s going to feel like this compelling world that they’ll want to be a part of. They’ll want to join Weezer World, come to a show, get into the other records and see us as one of those classic bands like the bands we grew up on. For me, that was Metallica. It was about more than just a record; it was a real culture and something I relied on in my life.” It doesn’t happen for most bands, but Weezer are still growing. The day after ‘Pacific Daydream’ is released, they’re playing Wembley Arena. It’s by far the biggest headline show they’ve played in London. “Oh man, it’s so exciting,” exclaims Rivers.
“It feels like for our entire career we’ve pretty much been at the same level in England, which is Brixton Academy. It’s an amazing venue, and it’s been incredible, but boy does it feel good to graduate to Wembley.” There are plans to return sooner rather than later, too. “We haven’t announced anything yet, so I’m not really supposed to say anything, but we plan to spend a lot more time in the UK and Europe now.” Rivers has a pencil drawn plan to do Weezer until he’s sixty, but he’s got his list of things to achieve before then written in permanent marker. “We want to build up our audience so we can play bigger and bigger shows,” he starts. “It’d be awesome to get to Coldplay size. And then, keep making experimental records. I don’t know exactly where that’s going to lead to, but it’ll continue to involve the four of us as players on our guitars, bass and drums. And keep pushing the boundaries as far as we can.” Weezer’s album ‘Pacific Daydream’ is out now. 27
FEELS THE SAME
BULLY MAKE A WELCOME RETURN WITH THEIR GRUNGE-INFLUENCED SLACKER-POP - AND THEYâ€™RE ALREADY THINKING ABOUT ALBUM NUMBER THREE. WORDS: HEATHER MCDAID. 28
ULLY’S DEBUT ALBUM WAS A BIT OF A WHIRLWIND. Since the Nashville quartet released ‘Feels Like’ in June 2015, it’s been a relentless circle of travelling with the likes of the Descendants and, bit-by-bit cultivating a following as the word of mouth buzz grew rapidly around them. And it was justified. Following it would be no mean feat, but there was at least one chance to glimpse new music before ‘Losing’ came to be. ‘Our First 100 Days’ is a compilation made up of “100 songs that inspire progress and benefit a cause for change”, one of which was Bully’s riotous ‘Right’. “None of us are Pro-Trump or have ever been,” says frontwoman Alicia Bognanno on their involvement. “With him being the President, he’s trying to dismantle a lot of people and communities that do good things for other people and so we wanted to help try to raise money for those companies that might be jeopardised in his presidency.” It can be a cliché that good and powerful art comes through tough political times, but with projects like this, raising awareness and money, it’s true. “It’s really important. I think it’s almost unavoidable with our political climate right now it’s hard just to pretend that it’s not something that’s in the back of your head at all times. It makes a lot of sense to me.” It was a short stopgap between albums, but the real turning point came with taking themselves off the touring circuit and holing up to get to work. “When you’re on the road constantly for a while then you just stop, it’s weird because you have an abrupt feeling,” explains Alicia. “I always feel like there’s a lot of emotions going on that you don’t know how to contain when you’re home. You have that outlet of being able to play every night, and you get used to it, then that just kind of shuts off. It can be a little jarring. I think all in all I have to take some time to cope and get used to being on a different schedule. “When I’m in town I don’t really go out much, when we get back we try and eat healthily and take advantage of being able to exercise and go to bed early and sleep and write. I don’t have anything that stands out other than trying to change my sleep schedule for the time that I’m at home. And exercising because I think that doesn’t take place with the same physical benefits of playing a show every night, but it does in a way that it releases negative energy.”
It felt the right time for the band to take the step back home and look forward with new music, piecing together bits and bobs that had been created over the past year or so with an abundance of new work they were soon to create. The result? ‘Losing’, an album that takes the hallmarks of their debut and pushes the band further – it spits at times, confesses at others; Bully put in the hard work to push what they’re capable of forward. “I just called off doing shows, and we did a hard stop. I sat in the music room of my house, started writing and just wrote for two or three months and got together a bunch of demos. I sent them off to the guys, and we worked them out for a couple of weeks, then went straight into the studio and recorded them. There were a couple of things that I had written or riffs that I was messing around with when I was on the road, but for the main part I honed in on everything in those few months at home.
“IT WAS A CLEAN SLATE” ALICIA BOGNANNO
“It was a clean slate. I wanted to challenge myself with writing, pick up a little bit more lead stuff than I had previously, so I steered away on certain songs from just writing a couple of chords and it being a really quick twominute song. I focused on giving more space throughout and taking more time with things. That was something that I definitely tried to do differently. ‘Kills to be Resistant’, ‘Running’, ‘Focused’, ‘Seeing It’, those would be some key examples. ‘Brained’, too – I reworked that song about four times before it became the song it ended up being on the record.” One of the real jewels of Bully’s work is Alicia’s experience in production. Having studied the form, she’s meticulous in knowing what she wants in music and capturing just that. Bully are a live band on audio; you get an incredible sense of how their shows feel, the genuine vibe of their performance. “I’m bummed out if I go see a band live and it sounds completely different to the record,”
she admits. “When you have a record, you love you play it on repeat, and you memorise every aspect of it and every element that goes through it and into it, so when you go live it’s different. It’s not necessarily wrong - just personally I like it to be a little bit closer. For this one, we didn’t limit ourselves as much as the last one as far as keeping it 100% representation of the live show because there’s definitely some vocal stuff on the second record that we’re not going to be able to execute live because there’s only one of me! “We weren’t as strict for the instrumentation - we like to just set everything up at the same time and hook everybody up and get everybody hitting together. There’s a certain feel that you get as opposed to starting with drums to a click-track, and everybody adding on top of it. When everybody gets in the room together and hashes it out, you can work on things. Maybe this should be a little bit slower; maybe this should be a little bit faster. Maybe this part needs to be a little bit different, or your notes sound weird here. There are so many important things that come with everybody playing together and keeps a consistency when you’re tracking.” ‘Losing’ is a natural progression for Bully, nudging the band into new territory in terms of writing but relating on a most basic level to the listener. Take ‘Feel the Same’ for one – it’s about being in a negative mindset and not being able to leave, no matter how much you change your routines and try to fight it. ‘Running’ is about shamelessly running away from situations that you should be dealing with and emotions you should be working through, but you distract yourself and procrastinate, to which Alicia notes, “I think everybody does that and it shouldn’t necessarily be looked down upon because it’s necessary sometimes.” As for what’s next, it’s pretty full on. There’s a lot of touring to be had right through 2018, and while ‘Losing’ is just making its way into the world, there are already plans for what’s to come. “[After touring] we’re going to start working on record three. I don’t think we want to wait or have as big of a gap as we did between the last two and the second one this time,” says Alicia. Bully keep looking forward, keep themselves busy and in ‘Losing’ have produced an album that more than lives up to the hype. P Bully’s album ‘Losing’ is out now. 29
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! A I N A M N E YING IS DEF
MAN IE LEN . E, JAM ID UT L E R H S S Y I A S: A L TH E W WORD Y . B D N R E O LL EC AVE FA NEW R EERS H GREAT F HIS P OODY O L B Y N A MA WITH WHILE AGAIN ONCE BACK
hile the likes of Hundred Reasons and Funeral For A Friend have gone to the big festival in the sky, and Biffy Clyro have relentlessly moved on and up stages around the world, Jamie Lenman, once the leader of underground heroes Reuben, has remained.
address, someone even posted a letter to my job in London.”
“You could say that was a little creepy, but they just wanted to get in touch however they could. It was two or three years since I played my last show and they just wanted to say, ‘Hey, we liked your band, and we hope we hear new music from you one day’. That low level of constant support from well-meaning people who just wanted to hear some more songs was very encouraging.”
“If someone said to me, ‘Lenman, what are you still doing here? You’re completely irrelevant. You belong to a dead scene. Why are you still pumping out these records?’ Well, fair enough. I sorta agree,” he laughs.
It resulted in 2013’s ‘Muscle Memory’, a double album split between folk and thrash which laid out the stall of everything he could do musically as a solo artist.
More last man standing than last one at the party, while others may be reforming and reliving the early noughties, Jamie has made sure that anything he has left to say, is going to be worth hearing.
“It was a complete fucktasm. I think I just made up that word, and I’m not going to find a better word for it. I was just trying every paint in the box without even thinking. That record wasn’t part of my evolution; it was a bizarre experiment.
“Pop music and rock’n’roll are all about youth. It’s quite absurd to have a 34-year-old man who is me, getting up on stage and rocking out. ‘Shit man, shouldn’t you be in a garden centre?’ And that’s where I’ve been today. I’m middle aged as fuck,” he grins. “Really my career should be over, but it still seems to be here.” After breaking up the band in 2008, Jamie walked away from making music, but fans had a hard time letting go. In the years that followed, “people would find my phone number, my email
“I hate it when people trash their previous album to talk up their new one, and it’s not at all what I’m doing, but I think, and I hope that ‘Devolver’ is a more satisfying, cohesive listening experience.” More restrained, streamlined and with a clearer focus, it brings together all the elements of his past and infuses them with something new. “I feel satisfied by it. I’m not sure that’s something I could say about ‘Muscle
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Memory’. It was such a weird shape, and you couldn’t really grab hold of it. This one is a nice chunky block. You can hold it and say, ‘Here’s my album’.”
‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Personal’ see him back on familiar ground - “they’re the two most similar songs to Reuben I’ve done since Reuben finished” - but they’re more than echoes of the past. Sandwiched between ‘Hard Beat’, a twitching introduction to a record that wants to mean something to somebody, and ‘Body Popping’, a warped disco in letting go, the whole of ‘Devolver’ fights against the expected. “I’ve never understood musicians or bands who can put out eleven of the same song on one album, let alone eleven of the same song again two years later. For me, it’s a natural part of the process to make something different to what has come before. ‘Devolver’ isn’t bizarrely different to anything else I’ve done.” But there’s enough new to keep it interesting. The title, like most of his album titles, is “a glib, tongue in cheek, poking fun at myself, title,” Lenman says. “I was devolving because I was going back to an earlier point but that only works if you take ‘Muscle Memory’ as an evolution of my musical style, but it’s a blind alley really. Ironically, I think this album has ended up being more of evolution than devolution. But ‘Devolver’ is a better title than ‘Evolver’, isn’t it?
“IT’S GOOD TO REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU’RE A RIDICULOUS NOTHING” JAMIE LENMAN
“Plus it’s a good pun on ‘Revolver’. I know I won’t get stacked next to The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ in record shops, I know that’s not how the alphabet works, but it’s a nod to my favourite Beatles’ album, and it just excites me to have a record that is spelt similarly.” There are personal touches like that across the record, excitement driving it forward. From the opening declaration on ‘Hard Beat’ (“Even if the message is for everyone, it’s also just for you alone”) through to the grit of ‘Bones’, ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Body Popping’, and across the reflection on ‘Fast Car’, ‘Bones’ and ‘I Don’t Know Anything’ - ‘Devolver’ is the sort of record you can feel beating away. “I did want to make it feel personal,” starts Jamie. “It’s always my aim to make my music feel personal. I really wanted it to be a like a big cuddle with me. I smell good, so that’s okay. I want them to feel like they know me as a person a little bit better.” With each new wave of bands, “making old fools irrelevant”, a lot of ‘Devolver’ sees Jamie dealing with his place in this world. “I’ve always tried to be self-aware. I would describe myself as self-aware and would put that forward as one of my positive personality traits. I might be pompous, ridiculous and arrogant, but at least I know I am.” ‘Fast Car’ repeats the message, “Rock’n’roll is all about the fresh and new, why would you do something someone else did do?”, while ‘I Don’t Know Anything’ gets straight to the 32
point, before the title track hoists the message of “I am irrelevant” from the flagpole. “It’s the perfect message, that’s my whole deal. It works well at the end because you’ve got this whole record of me telling you what I think. It’s Jamie time; it’s Jamie time, my big fucking stupid baldy face on the cover, listen to me blah blah blah, and then right at the end we have a bit where I say look, I don’t really know what the fuck I’m talking about. Don’t take me too seriously. Really, I’m irrelevant. “And I am. No matter how great you might think the record is, it doesn’t really matter. Even if you hate it, who cares? It’s just a rock record. I wrote that song to curb my moments of selfimportance that I’m not too shy to admit that I have. There are moments where I’m impressed with myself. I might write a really great song, and you have a swell of confidence. If I start patting myself on the back after a great gig, steady on Jack, you’re just a wanker from Ash Vale. It’s very easy to build up a complex, get above yourself and get too big for your boots and so, it’s good to remind yourself that you’re a ridiculous nothing.” As much as Jamie tries to keep his ego in check, the support is also why he’s still making music. He’s still pumping out these records, “because of the encouragement of generous people,” and the realisation that “maybe I do still have something to contribute.” He’s happy to play with the unexpected freedom of a solo career, eager to stay away from the weight of a reunion. “With Reuben, everyone’s got this wealth
of information. They’ve got this very fixed idea of what it is and should be. If that band or any old band that comes back are going to do a new album, their legion of fans already have a very solid idea of what they want, what they’re expecting, they can never live up to that or resemble it in any sense. If it did, if you came back with a carbon copy of what you did before to please said fans, that would be worse than doing nothing. So, going backwards, you’re going to lose it. Going forward, you can’t lose.” “I sell records, so that’s good enough for me to continue,” he explains. “As long as my label makes their money back and the promoters break even, that’s a good enough reason. I’m lucky anyone still buys my records. I’m privileged and ‘Fast Car’ is about that and how my main function is to inspire, instruct or inform the current generation of bands. I contributed to what’s happening now, thank you very much for the tip of the hat. I could climb into my grave now, but still, I’m walking about like the undead. “When an act like Black Peaks or Arcane Roots, who are both my very good friends, have been kind enough to say to me, ‘Your previous work with Reuben partly inspired our band’, it gives me that little swell of confidence. That’s really my end goal, to inspire. To make people want to pick up a guitar or sit at a piano and try something new. You can’t ask for anything more than that.” Jamie Lenman’s album ‘Devolver’ is out 27th October.
SHAPE SHIFTERS KNUCKLE PUCK ARE BREAKING THE RULES OF POP-PUNK FOR SECOND ALBUM, ‘SHAPESHIFTER’.
WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN. PHOTO: NICK KARP.
here’s a lot of pressure on bands to get their second record right. Having had pretty much a lifetime to write their debut, they’re then fast chased by a ticking clock for the followup. For Knuckle Puck, they knew this was their chance to build upon the hard work they’d put in the last seven years - granted it’s only been two since their debut, but they aren’t ones to rush into anything. In fact, they’d pretty much sealed the deal on second record ‘Shapeshifter’, until they went out on tour with Mayday Parade and found that certain moments didn’t quite fit the bill. “We didn’t scrap what we recorded the
first time, we just made it right, if that makes sense?” Frontman Nick Casasanto explains. “We just reached the conclusion that we weren’t totally happy with everything as a whole, so after the tour, we went back into the studio and just basically re-did anything that bothered us.” The fact that Knuckle Puck saw fit to put this much due care and attention into their second outing shows the devotion they have to the people who got them here in the first place. “At one point it felt like what we had would let our fans down,” Nick continues. “You know, the last thing that we were going to do is put something out that we weren’t happy with. “When it comes to our band, our ears are better than most in the sense that if we don’t like what we’re hearing, how could
the fans like what they’re hearing? “We had a whole two-year album cycle with [debut record] ‘Copacetic’. We were writing all along the way and talking about how we wanted the next record to sound, but I think we got a little caught up deciding the specifics of where we’re going to record and that kind of stuff.” Learning these lessons gives this next chapter of Knuckle Puck a far broader confidence; a much-needed attribute considering how restrictive pop-punk can be. “I feel like pop-punk, more than any other, is a very rigid genre,” Nick considers. “It’s hard to step outside the box. With [album track] ‘Want Me Around’ especially, that song almost wasn’t even on the record because you listen and you’re like, ‘Is this a Knuckle Puck song?’
“IT’S EASY FOR POP PUNK TO ALL SOUND THE SAME” N I C K CASASA N TO
“It’s important always to be pushing those walls out with every release. You have to do something that is one or two moments that come out of left field, like, ‘Woah, that’s different!’ “With bands like Paramore, their new record [‘After Laughter’], it just has a different groove to it. They’re still the same band, but they obviously found a way to make something new work with the old. “You can step outside your box as much as you want, but as soon as you alienate that core fan, you’ve done something wrong.” It’s easy to see now how Knuckle Puck could’ve felt trepidation, trying to keep most ardent listeners happy while forging ahead to new ground. “Lately it’s easy for pop-punk, as a genre, to be kind of-” he pauses tentatively, to find the right words. “It all sounds the same. We’re just trying to write good songs, rather than good pop-punk songs. “With bands, in general, these days, it doesn’t matter what genre you’re locked into, you’ve just got to write good music and not feel too constrained because you can be creative with any style of music.” Knuckle Puck have grown leaps and bounds since their early days performing covers; they’ve pushed themselves to new limits and worked tirelessly to make sure they only put the best of themselves out there - and it all stems from the cycle of
their debut. “After we did our first record we were so happy with how everything turned out it was kind of like, well what now?” remembers Nick. “What’s the next step, how do we get there?” The answer to all these questions was closer than they thought - it all boiled down to just being themselves, and creating what they wanted to hear. “You think that you need certain things, and not every band does. We have this newfound sense of confidence and identity, and that’s really exciting. “You have to be very self-aware - you have to know, what do people want from us? You have to do what you want, but you also have to do right by your fans, and I think that we will have achieved this with this record which I’m most happy about.” Only two albums in and Knuckle Puck are fast on their way to being staples of a genre that can be as biting as it can be welcoming - and ‘Shapeshifter’ holds the key to their next chapter. “It’s kind of like you’re on rails,” Nick laughs. “You’re in control, but for the most part you’re along for the ride. You’ve just got to grow with your fans and make the most out of it - and that’s really it, other than be grateful and do your thing.” P Knuckle Puck’s album ‘Shapeshifter’ is out now.
H U R T L E S S JULIEN BAKER’S NEW ALBUM
‘TURN OUT THE LIGHTS’ SEES HER EXPLORE SADNESS IN A WHOLE NEW WAY.
WORDS: HEATHER MCDAID.. PHOTOS: NOLAN KNIGHT.
ulien Baker is a revelation. The story of her quietly writing songs on her own at University and recording them with her friend Michael from the audio program has become almost legend by this point. That legend became her debut album ‘Sprained Ankle’, a beautiful, devastating collection of songs that unabashedly displays the Julien’s inside thoughts in unflinching detail and triggered an incredible rise that’s seen her share stages with the likes of Paramore, and shows no sign of slowing. Has she, two years on from its official release, had time to catch her breath and process it all just yet? “I don’t think I’m really adjusted to it,” admits Julien. “It happened really quickly. I was going to university, pursuing music as a longshot dream, a passion that would be a labour of love and something I worked on weekends. To transition to it being my job - successfully - is even more of a blessing. It’s been interesting to adjust to but has afforded me a lot of opportunities that have meant as much to me as [sharing a stage with Paramore]. I’ve gotten to partner with a whole bunch of different organisations, like Level Ground in the United States that reach out to people who are part of the LGBT community, who maybe grew up in military or in an evangelical setting and are working through that, trying to negotiate their identity in a realm where it’s so fervently imposed. “I’m getting to play a benefit for Amnesty International, and contribute to compilations and work with people that are utilising music as a tool for creating a better society, not just in a way that’s limited to the arts community. That’s the biggest thing I’m thankful for, and that this is a thing that I can pursue full time.” Gratitude comes up a lot, and in response to the opportunities afforded to her, she’s used her second album as a chance to get talented friends on board, from playing the violin, to engineering. And so ‘Turn Out The Lights’ sees Julien, and friends, push that almost startling sparsity further, shifting from being quite as introspective to considering the context and reasonings for what she poured into the previous record. It’s just as elegant and engulfing as its predecessor. ‘Appointments’ and ‘Happy to Be Here’ were two early songs in the process. “After ‘Sprained Ankle’ and touring the
songs, it made me want to explore the motivation behind why I was feeling the things I was feeling. On the first record, here are these songs that are honest admissions of how I feel but seem to be really bleak and I wanted to explore what are the motivations for me feeling that way? This record has a lot more to do with being aware and engaged with not only my own mental health and how I deal with anxiety or sadness or whatever traumas are occurring in my life but to measure those against other people’s stories. “’Claws in Your Back’ is a collective story just taken from conversations I’ve had with roommates and friends about the different traumas and struggles that they experience and trying to think, learning more about how to practice empathy and mercy with oneself through the vehicle of practising it from another person. ‘Hurt Less’ is like that too – it’s about one of my friends that I make music with – we’ve been friends for a very long time, just the idea of wanting to share space, drive around and listen to music. Even if you have nothing to say, just being with a person, being present with them, listening and understanding what it is that they’re trying to purge or that they need to vent about is such a great tool not only for helping them but for giving you perspective on your own self.” The exploration of sadness, or a need to vent, is powerful. It’s a comfort to have such open music. Similar to her own experiences of just being there with friends, sitting quietly together but both getting a great deal from the experience, so too does the album. Something that asks for nothing, but offers some time to process your own thoughts and feelings along with someone else’s. It’s helpful to explore these feelings in a way that doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’, but simply is, and can be understood. “You can’t air quote ‘fix sadness’,” she agrees. “I think sometimes it might be more comforting just to be candid about the reality of pain, that things are hard or difficult. ‘Claws’ was recorded as the last track on the record and was written much later than ‘Appointments’; it’s sort of the antitheses to the last track on the last record, ‘Go Home’. I went back and thought about when I sang the song, saying I’m so embarrassed with myself or displeased or have so much self-loathing that I just want to hurry up and move on to the next plane of existence where I believe where things will be better. That’s awful, and these songs are about recognising that in this life the fortunes that we encounter are
inevitable, but we can change how we interpret them, whether or not, or even how we let them define us. “Thinking that because I have panic attacks, or am an anxious person, that makes me broken because I have not been successful in ‘fixing’ it, then I am failing somehow rather than treating it as the mixed up combination of positive and negative traits is not that easy. It’s not that black and white. To say this is good and this is bad, and it’s a thing you need to fix – maybe it can’t be fixed, maybe I will never stop having panic attacks, maybe I’ll never stop feeling things in the way that I feel them, but feeling emotions intensely allows me not just to feel super lows, which is difficult – I feel extreme joy and appreciate of beauty and wonder. “Those things are maybe just the same composite process, and they don’t have to be demonised as awful negative blotches. Maybe there is no fixing sad; maybe sad is not such a bad thing. Maybe happiness is impossible to conserve constantly - we can shoot for appreciation and joy and know what it means to us.” That open capacity in which Julien speaks flows through her music, and it’s been worth every second of the wait to hear ‘Turn out the Lights’. The conversation ends as it began, with gratitude. A thank you to fans that allow her to continue making her music. “Not only that, but they participate in the dialogue by responding,” she concludes. “It’s a scary thing to put all of your feelings and stories about your life into a record and go out on stage, so when people are excited or derive any comfort or solace from it, it makes me feel like I’ve done my job. That’s the whole reason I need music. “For anyone that my music comforts or aids their healing process, it gives meaning to the stories that I tell and the experiences. I am participating in a dialogue that people answer; I am not shouting into a void.” From quietly writing songs on her own to a pair of albums that create conversations that consider all shades of being human, Julien has most certainly done her job these last few years, time and time again. P Julien Baker’s album ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is out 27th October.
“ M AY B E THERE IS NO FIXING SA D. M AY B E SAD IS N OT SUCH A BAD THING” JULIEN BAKER
THE FRONT BOTTOMS ARE CELEBRATING TEN YEARS TOGETHER BY SPENDING THE SUMMER ON THE ROAD WITH ONE OF ROCK’S MOST WELL-LOVED BANDS, BLINK 182, AND RELEASING A NEW ALBUM THAT MIGHT JUST BE THEIR MOST PERSONAL YET. WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN. PHOTO: MARK JAWORSKI.
rian Sella and Mat Uychich first started playing together as The Front Bottoms a decade ago, and every year since has seen them find new ways to stay fresh while sticking true to themselves. 2017 has seen them play some of the of the most celebrated stages around, particularly over here in the UK supporting one of the biggest bands in the world, Blink 182. “Oh, dude, I’m living the dream!” Brian enthuses. “The entire experience was a real trip, you know? It’s affected me very positively.” It’s the kind of opportunity that every band dreams of, learning up close with of the most successful bands in not just their genre, but the entirety of music. It offers the chance to take stock and encourages you to find that next level - something The Front Bottoms do consistently, thanks in part to the people they have around them. “I like to think of The Front Bottoms as a living thing,” Brian muses, “and so it’s constantly changing [with] who’s coming on tour.” He’s keen to emphasise the band’s organic nature and treats it almost like an art project - an attitude that allows the pair to evolve and adapt to however they see fit. It offers a freedom that has served them well. “If we released an album that’s like, a real rock ‘n’ roll album,” Brian explains, “and at that point, the listener doesn’t hit, that’s fine. We’re going to come out with another album, and within a couple of years you’ll be able to go back and listen to this project and be like, ‘I get this now, that’s cool!’.”
“I’M LIVING THE DREAM!”
BRIAN SELLA The Front Bottoms are no strangers to not always striking the right chord. Over the years, they’ve amassed a loyal, albeit at times overzealous fanbase - one that’s just as likely to complain about new cover art as they are to write rather, erm, questionable fan-fiction. “It does feel like a community,” says Brian, fondly, “and it does feel like everybody enjoys it together, but in their own individual way, and I think that’s important.” Connecting with fans is something the duo put a lot of thought into, he explains. “Like putting enough information into the music, into the videos and all the merch. People can be really, really excited about The Front Bottoms, even if you know, maybe their favourite song is on the last album. It’s like, there’s all this other stuff to look at, all these little details into the band. When I first started making these songs with Mat, it was about ten years ago, you know, and we have grown into who we are today, and we’ll continue to grow and continue to learn and stuff. It’s basically about that development.” That’s ultimately what it all comes down to for the band; through all their growth over the years, there’s still a thread
running through that could only be them. “We try to bring that Front Bottoms style into whatever type of music we’re making. When we’re jamming all out with the band, and everybody’s rocking and having a good time, my lyrics, my vocals, they’re going to define the sound because of my wacky voice and so we just kind of put it together like that. We keep it as our style. “We try not to force anything, whatever comes out is what we call The Front Bottoms, you know? It’s exciting to be able to have The Front Bottoms as a kind of blanket to cover all these different styles, and you know, just fucking keep it freaky.” In 2017 The Front Bottoms are more earnest than ever before. The fact that their sixth record is titled ‘Going Grey’ is a testament to that; tracks like ‘Raining’ focus on recovery and the fragility of life, while ‘Vacation Town’ dwells upon history with a post-chorus chant of “I miss the way things used to be”. It’s a glance back that helps shine a light on not only how far they’ve come, but how far there is to go. “It’s exciting to develop with the fans, and with the audience,” Brian reflects. “I didn’t think I’d still be able to make music in the way that I am ten years ago when I started doing it with Mat, and I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we would be making the music - but [here] we are. The ten-year thing, it’s just like another year, you know? Just another album, another piece of art to add to the catalogue.” P The Front Bottoms’ album ‘Going Grey’ is out now.
42 WORDS: JAKE RICHARDSON.
THE TRIALS OF LAST YEAR COULD HAVE SEEN POP PUNKS ROAM THROW IN THE TOWEL. INSTEAD, NEW ALBUM ‘GREAT HEIGHTS AND NOSEDIVES’ SEES THE BAND COMING OUT FIGHTING. CO-VOCALISTS ALEX ADAM AND ALEX COSTELLO TELL ALL…
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ast year was both the best and worst year in the history of ROAM. The Eastbourne pop-punkers released their much-hyped debut album, ‘Backbone’, played the entirety of Warped Tour and got to travel the world. But they also found themselves robbed three times in quick succession, with thousands of pounds’ worth of property stolen while they were on tour outside of the UK, forcing the five-piece to turn to their fans for financial help.
the opportunities such prominence is presenting to bands like ROAM is only furthering their rapid growth.
“Last year we had some really bad moments,” begins vocalist/guitarist Alex Adam. “As well as the robberies, we had different personal problems going on at the time, too. We got absolutely battered in 2016.”
“It’s made us way tighter as a unit,” he offers. “We’re a family, and this last year especially we’ve settled into a touring routine. Touring this much has helped us see loads of bands, and we’ve watched them and taken little bits from them to improve our live show. Once you’re confident in your ability to produce a great set, you feel a lot more comfortable on-stage and more confident in yourself. Doing so much foreign touring has helped in every aspect of our band.”
It would have been easy for Adam, vocalist Alex Costello, guitarist Sam Veness, bassist Matt Roskilly and drummer Miles Gill to throw in the towel – bands have cancelled tours for much less in the past – but for ROAM, giving up was out of the question. “We were never going to give up,” affirms Costello, before Adam adds that the experience “felt terrible, but quitting was never an option.” It might at first seem an odd thing to say, but the awful experiences ROAM encountered in 2016 can be read as a marker of the band’s success. After all, you don’t find many British bands embarking on global tours and playing Warped after just one album. But ROAM are part of a new wave garnering attention on a global scale. “When we were younger, we used to think that it was unrealistic for us to be a touring pop-punk band because we’re from England,” Costello remembers. “You didn’t hear about any pop-punk bands from the UK… apart from Busted! So we started out being inspired by acts from America, but it’s a great time for the scene now – UK pop-punk is so strong.” He’s not wrong: As It Is continue to dominate the alternative scene Stateside; Boston Manor made their Warped debut this year, and WSTR have seen their stock rise considerably over the past twelve months. Plus, there’s the small matter of The Gospel Youth – also Warped ‘17 alumni – who graced the cover of Upset earlier this summer. There’s no denying the strength of UK pop-punk in 2017, and
“We’ve been quite fortunate to have done some great US tours,” says Adam. “We’ve done Warped Tour, and the Glamour Kills tour with Set It Off, and this year we’ve mainly toured with As It Is in the US and Europe. The whole experience has been amazing!” It’s clear in the enthusiasm with which Adam speaks of the band’s foreign tours that such adventures have been massively beneficial to the band.
And now, with such experience behind them, ROAM are unleashing their ambitious second album, ‘Great Heights And Nosedives’. It’s a record that’ll strike a chord with existing fans of both the band and pop punk in general, but this album is one that could see ROAM garnering fans from outside the genre too. Like all good pop-punk albums, ‘Great Heights And Nosedives’ is packed with heaps of fun and more energy than a crate of Lucozade, but this time, the five-piece have upped the ‘pop’ stakes. However, as Adam and Costello explain, the finished product is almost the polar opposite of what they intended to make going into the recording process. “The poppy album just came out of nowhere!” Costello says. “When we were first jamming out ideas, it felt like we were going darker, more towards a [‘Backbone’ single] ‘Deadweight’ vibe. But then we just flipped it as we started getting into studio time – once we got in the studio, we were doing totally different things to what we had planned. We weren’t forcing out pop music; it just felt right to do it that way.” “It just came naturally,” adds Adam. “We didn’t intend on this album being a poppier record. We definitely wanted to go dark initially – we went in to do it and wanted to sound like Linkin Park, but it just didn’t – and this poppy record came out of us! We’re all really happy
with it, though – we love the album!” But why did this drastic change happen, and it would it be fair to suggest that, given the negative experiences of the previous year, ROAM were looking to channel the struggles of 2016 into a darker album? “The darker vibe we were thinking about was more to do with what we were listening to at the time,” counters Costello. “We were listening to a lot of Three Days Grace and ‘Does This Look Infected?’-era Sum 41, but once we got into the studio, going poppier just felt like the right move for ROAM.” “We’d only done two or three dark songs in the past, so trying to write a whole album of dark songs was like starting out as a new band again,” adds Adam. “We’d previously written a lot of catchy, happy songs, and then we were trying to write in a style that we had way less experience in. It ended up that the darker songs we were writing were the weakest ones, and they were overshadowed by the sick pop songs!” The journey ROAM have been on to get to ‘Great Heights And Nosedives’ is summed up by the album’s opening track, ‘Alive’. Chosen as a single and falling into the category of the ‘sick pop songs’ Adam speaks of, it’s a superpositive pop-punk gem, complete with a vocal refrain – “We made it out alive” – that is essentially the story of the band’s last two years. “It sums up the album, and it’s where the album title comes from,” agrees Alex. “It talks about the highs and lows of life, and how sometimes it seems like today is the worst possible day ever and it’s never going to get better. What we’ve tried to do with the album is show that, yes, sometimes it does feel like that, but you will get through it, and you’ll look back on it, and it’ll seem like absolutely nothing. It’s about taking those situations and making the best out of them.” “With this record, we want people to know that they will get past the difficult moments in their life, no matter how bad it feels at the time.” It’s a positive and reassuring message to their fans, and with a banger-packed album to match it, expect ROAM to continue to spread their good vibes far and wide. This is just the start of their story. P ROAM’s album ‘Great Heights and Nosedives’ is out now.
“QUITTING WAS NEVER AN OPTION”
(UK) POP PUNK’S NOT DEAD!
ROAM ARE ONE OF THE SHINING LIGHTS OF THE UK POP-PUNK SCENE, BUT AS WELL AS THE HEAVY HITTERS, THE GENRE’S UNDERGROUND BANDS ARE THRIVING RIGHT NOW. HERE ARE THREE OF THE BEST NEW UK POP-PUNK GROUPS.
A Welsh three-piece whose sound is akin to that of selftitled-era Blink-182, Junior look set to be UK pop-punk’s next break-out band. Fun fact: bassist Mark Andrews is a pro wrestler for NXT, while drummer Si Martin runs a mental health non-profit called Heads Above The Waves.
THE YOUNG HEARTS
Sitting at the more mature end of the pop-punk scale, Kent’s The Young Hearts deal in heartfelt, emotionally heavy tunes that more than leave their mark. Fans of Boston Manor, The Gospel Youth and The Gaslight Anthem should get on this lot.
(CHOSEN BY ALEX ADAM OF ROAM) Alex: “They’re from Eastbourne like us! They’ve just come out with a sick debut EP, and it sounds much better than you’d expect from a first try. I think they’re going to do well – I’m excited for their next release! People need to listen to them!” 45
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that other album, but honestly, that’s okay,’ but there’s a contented assurance to ‘Pacific Daydream’; it’s happy to take you on this journey. Still lonely, still uneasy, it keeps its distance but never shies away from contact.
And this little world of Weezer’s, a bar at the edge of the beach, does feel joyful and full of hope. Sure, you’ve run away from something to get here, but there’s safety in the escape. The new flavours that find a home on ‘Pacific Daydream’ aren’t jarring, precious stones set amongst the gold. Instead, there’s confidence to each step forward and a delighted power in sharing the spotlight.
‘Mexican Fender’ falls in love with summer, new experiences and new light before ‘Beach Boys’ finds new reasons to adore the familiar and sees the band taking control of their own march on. ‘Feels Like Summer’ has Weezer at their happy/sad best, all deceptive yet plain speaking, while ‘QB Blitz’ sees them on
Eleven albums in and it feels like Weezer are comfortable in their own skin. Rather than burning bridges and fleeing the past, they appreciate the journey, relishing the space to tell stories and embracing their legacy while still doing exactly what they want. Ali Shutler
ollowing on from the nineties-infused swing of The White Album, Weezer once again buck the expected with ‘Pacific Daydream’. Laying big harmonies on thick and fast before building a gentle and beautiful world around it, Weezer’s eleventh album sees the band at ease with their surroundings and wanting to enjoy the sunshine a little longer. Often, it feels like you need to defend new Weezer. ‘Yes, we know it’s not like
“an epic quest, pursuit of happiness.”
AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR
THE ENDLESS SHIMMERING
eee And So I Watch You From Afar’s new album sees crescendos make way for quiet moments, and clashes of sound come together to form enthralling spectacles. The progression through ‘The Endless Shimmering’ can occasionally feel a bit tedious, but thankfully it’s never long before a swift shake-up. Darting between maniacal and relentless focus is the hook that ASIWYFA have relied upon for so long, and it’s yet to fail them. Steven Loftin
THE DUSK IN US
Epitaph / Deathwish
eeee Having been players in the metalcore game for over a quarter of a century, Converge are still as brutal as ever. Their first release in five years, it feels like the time spent away has bred a completely new line of savagery. Kicking you in the face immediately with ‘A Single Tear’, ‘The Dusk In Us’ wastes no time in getting the flurries of riffs and barrage of drums going. Across the thirteen strong tracks, Converge constantly test their boundaries. The blood-thirsty screams of Jacob Bannon always try to push the chaos to the next level, be it a pained shout or an almost soundless roar; it’s all or nothing. Steven Loftin
Dove & Grenade Media/BMG
ee They’re back. Those five masked chaps
WHO IS SHE?
Who Is She’s debut LP ‘Seattle Gossip’, is a short but sweet encounter. With every track under three minutes long, there’s no room for boring and fun is at every corner. With nods to Jared Leto’s My SoCalled Life alter-ego Jordan Catalano, the relationship between Courteney Cox and David Arquette in Scream, and MySpace friendship rankings,
A SHORT Q&A WITH...
WHO WHO IS IS SHE? SHE? ROBIN EDWARDS (LISA PRANK), JULIA SHAPIRO (CHASTITY BELT, CHILDBIRTH), AND BREE MCKENNA (TACOCAT, CHILDBIRTH) HAVE TEAMED UP FOR ONE OF THE MOST FUN ALBUMS YOU’LL HEAR ALL YEAR
Hey guys, how are you all? Robin Edwards: To be honest I was feeling a little down today but I think it’s starting to turn around now. Julia Shapiro: I’m feeling pretty good but a little overwhelmed right now because I’m leaving for Europe tomorrow and I have a lot to do. Bree Mckenna: I’m doing super! I just had a little bit of a dramatic
‘Seattle Gossip’ talks about everything you would expect a Seattle girl-punk supergroup to talk about. It’s a 00s and 90s nostalgic trip, with relatable everyday-isms thrown into the mix. Channelling the raw surf pop-punk of Tacocat’s debut, most tracks are sugary delights with hooks at endless disposal, with the album’s closer ‘Angry Bitches’ is a grungy, feedback-ridden riot grrrl ode that the record would feel incomplete without. ‘Seattle Gossip’ will have you reaching for your butterfly clips in no time. Jasleen Dhindsa
week with a failed fling, but it’s all turning around now and I have a date with my ex tonight.
Whose idea was it for you guys to form a band? Bree: It was no one’s idea. It was an accident. Robin: I lived in the room next door to Bree and we started writing silly songs together in our spare time in our bedrooms. Julia: I was spending a lot of time with Bree and Robin at the time and wanted to get better at drumming, so I hopped on the drum stool and started hitting the skins. It must be a lot of fun, making music inspired by pop culture and the like - what have been your favourite subjects to write about? Bree: A lot of our songs were prompted by I Saw You ads, so that was a fun starting point. I think it goes without saying that My So-Called Life is a rich well to draw from. Robin: I’ve always been enchanted by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s magical on screen romance in Scream, so that one was really fun to write. Do you think you’ll do a second album? Bree: We have a handful of new songs written, so probably! P 47
in Hollywood Undead have returned with their fifth outing, aptly titled ‘Five’, and it’s just as you’d expect. Opener ‘California Dreamin’ is Hollywood Undead by the book. Crunching guitars amassed with rap and euphoric chorus vocals, and it’s admittedly a strong start. Things unravel slightly with ‘Whatever It Takes’, and they continue on this trajectory as you work through this fourteen track deep album. What ‘Five’ tries to do too much of is bringing different worlds together. Granted, their sound is one that marries hip-hop, metal, rock and electronic, but the dance sounds that break through, especially on ‘Nobody’s Watching’, cheapen the whole deal and reduces it all to a clumsy amalgamation of anything that might stick. Steven Loftin
WE ARE WHO WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN
Procrastinate Music Traitors
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he bang of the drum is my hard beat,” repeats Jamie Lenman as the opener to ‘Devolver’ climbs towards its peak and, in that hook, you get a picture for the whole album: huge riffs, massive choruses, a lot of focus on the percussion and music you can dance to. It’s been over nine years since ending his band Reuben and four years since his half-thrash / half-folk debut solo album; it’s fair to say Jamie plays by his own rules, and that’s no different when it comes to ‘Devolver’. The return of the Jamie Lenman we know and love in the screaming, white-knuckle, romps of ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Personal’ are a joy, but
the genius in ‘Devolver’ is when he goes against his instinct. As a result, this album bursts with ideas; some of them clashing wonderfully like the return single ‘Mississippi’ where Jamie depicts the loss of his father but, musically, it’s a stomping chant guaranteed to be a live favourite. As an album, this is all about Jamie being let loose to explore his ideas and influences (those influences do resemble a Jackson Pollock painting) and it somehow all ties together brilliantly. That freedom that flows through the album results in tracks to dance to, head bang to, laugh and cry to and from those first Reuben fans to those new to the party, ‘Devolver’ has something to love. Alexander Bradley
With a hiatus from recording on the horizon as he heads off on tour as a guitarist for Brand New, “Our Kev” bookends a successful phase with a companion piece that showcases re-workings of all 11 tracks from last year’s ‘Instigator’. Those familiar with Kev’s solo shows will recognise some of these arrangements from his summer tour, with ‘No Why’ and ‘Both Ways’ stripping back the rage of their original deliveries but allowing their visceral lyrics to occupy the spotlight. Many of those re-dos stand comfortably on their own merit, however, with ‘Magic Magnet’ morphing from a grungy rocker into a folksy singalong, complete with a warbling synthesiser in place of a guitar solo. While there are few truly radical or unexpected reinventions here, these versions succeed in closing a chapter of Kevin Devine’s career by reconciling his softer side. Dillon Eastoe
eeee Pop punkers Knuckle Puck encapsulate a genre that evokes every feeling from heartbreak to hope, while also offering a fresh take that only they can portray. ‘Shapeshifter’ feels like the next natural step for them, growing with the music that’s shaped their lives so far. With an angrier edge, Knuckle Puck have found a maturity that holds a wealth more relatability - twinned with their attacking melodies and rapturous choruses; it’s a formula that’s untouchable. Steven Loftin
GO AWAY EP
eeee After the paint pot brilliance of ‘Be Nice’, Milk Teeth’s ‘Go Away’ sees the band once again shuffle the deck. Dropping the Power Rangers colour of each song, happy, angry, angrier and unsure, the four tracks on ‘Go Away’ wriggle between the gaps. Fleeing from expectations and refusing to be boxed in, there’s a spirited adventure and defiant snarl to each side on show. Ali Shutler
eeee ‘Feel Something’ unfolds like a collection of short stories or poems, encapsulating a broad spectrum of life’s experiences. While tales of love and heartbreak are told throughout, the lyrical content is far removed from trite tales of boys that just can’t get the girl. For example, ‘Deadly Dull’ places the listener in the headspace of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, the unimaginable experience articulated in a track that is anything but dull. This song encapsulates the sound sculpted by Movements over the past two years, where quiet verses lead into explosive choruses, and spoken word passages lend thematic heft. Regardless of your experiences in life, with this record on you’d have to be made of stone not to
feel something. Brad Thorne
WAITING TO DERAIL
eeee There’s nothing better than a bit of grunge to clear the mind. At least, that’s what Paceshifters are offering up. A glorious, 90s haze descends from the first moments of ‘Waiting To Derail’, opener ‘Dead Eyes’ distorting in all the right places. It’s a trick we’ve heard a thousand times before, but where most turn paper thin, Paceshifters offer an authenticity that stands the test of time. Dan Harrison
PRESS TO MECO
HERE’S TO THE FATIGUE
eee Press To Meco’s second effort cements them firmly in a world of their own. With vocals that perfectly harmonise over blistering pop-punk sounds, when orchestrated right it feels like a dream. On occasion it can be a bit too much, but once you get swept up in the dancing guitars and intricate beats it all becomes a party that you never want to end. Steven Loftin
eeee Over the last two decades, numerous
bands have built on the foundations of post-hardcore, building a labyrinthine and seemingly undefinable genre in the process. Quicksand seem unperturbed by such changes, and this record brings the nineties straight back into the modern era. The riffs still hit hard, the drum beats still hit even harder, and Walter Schreifels’ vocals still float resiliently above the thick slabs of noise erupting from Sergio Vega’s bass. Things might have slowed down a tad since their first go around but the band’s playing has lost none of its intricacies, it’s impossible to predict when the next sonic curve-ball will be thrown. Brad Thorne
GREAT HEIGHTS & NOSEDIVES
eeee From the word go, ROAM’s ‘Great Heights and Nosedives’ is driven by a newfound lust for life. Following on the from the scrappy, nervous energy of debut album ‘Backbone’, the band’s second album is the sort of perfectly balanced record confident dreams are made of. There’s a power in overcoming. Strength found in still standing but never standing still. There are songs about hopeless dreaming (‘Playing Fiction’), wishing wells (‘The Rich Life of a Poor Man’), and wasted time (‘Left For Dead’). Despite the escape and storytelling on offer, it’s a record grounded in everyday reality. Banding together and enduring, there’s 49
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In a titular nod to what came before, Bully tear open with ‘Feel the Same’, marrying 90s slacker pop with Alicia Bognanno’s brutally honest lyrics with a callback to ‘Feels Like’ opener ‘I Remember’. If Bully don’t leap out of their comfort zone, things rarely feel stale, with energy permeating each squalling riff. Back behind the desk, Bognanno doesn’t reinvent the wheel on ‘Losing’, but the extra time afforded to the recording shows, with the band meshing together better than some of the more disparate recordings on their debut. ‘Running’ sees her skilfully dovetail a softly sung harmony underneath a bellowed chorus about the anxieties of being off-tour; a restlessness that’s returned to throughout the album, suggesting that the sooner they’re back on stage, the happier Bully will be. By album three we might expect a bit more evolution, but there’s plenty of time for Bully to explore their sound as they take ‘Losing’ out on the road in 2018. Dillon Eastoe
wisdom in the smiles and a hope in the broken shadows. Embracing the joy and championing the optimist in them, ‘Great Heights and Nosedives’ finds a reason to cheer regardless of the direction. Ali Shutler
SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG
Big Scary Monsters
eeee With Modern Baseball taking a welldeserved break, there’s still a creative itch to scratch for Jake Ewald. Step forward the introspective, storytelling charm of Slaughter Beach, Dog, and the delightful ‘Birdie’, a homespun masterclass in minimalism. What’s most noticeable is just how closely ‘Birdie’ treads to the recent output from John K. Samson. When everything’s just stripped back to an acoustic guitar and some simple percussion, you can see the two artists share a similar eye for detail, and both possess a comparable storytelling style. Crucially, however, while there are some amazingly-realised vignettes on ‘Birdie’, it never feels like a work of hero worship. ‘Birdie’ is a coming of age album for those who’ve grown up on a diet of Modern Baseball. It’s an album of depth and subtlety, yet still wears its heart, unashamedly, on its sleeve. Rob Mair
STICK TO YOUR GUNS
End Hits Records
eee California hardcore mob Stick To Your Guns’ sixth album, ‘True View’, sees the five-piece treading familiar territory. Crushingly heavy cuts (‘3 Feet From Peace’) give way to soaring choruses (‘Cave Canem’), and it’s all executed with a confidence befitting a band of their stature. Beneath said confidence and the pummelling riffs, however, lies a sense of fragility. Vocalist Jesse Barnett has said that this record follows the most challenging years of his life, and you can hear feelings of hopelessness and despair shine through his furious growls. For the most part, ‘True View’ finds a band that are (ahem) sticking to their guns; it’s a tried and tested formula, and one that Stick To Your Guns have once more accomplished with ease. Jake Richardson
eeee In 2016, Strange Ranger – then known as Sioux Falls – found themselves battling a torrent of emotions across their sprawling 16-track opus ‘Rot Forever’. Yet, if ‘Rot Forever’ was stiflingly intense, ‘Daymoon’ is an altogether different beast, even if it relies on many of the same tropes as its predecessor. It’s still elongated and unhurried, but time spent in the studio has softened
the raw and festering edges, making for a quieter, softer listen. As a result, there’s much more depth and variety, with tracks such as ‘Warm’ and ‘Sophie’ radiating calmness and meditative reflection, all packaged in a fuzzy, daydream haze. ‘Daymoon’ won’t be for everyone, but for those who like the unconventional – or strange – it’s a gem. Rob Mair
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
Fueled By Ramen
eeee Growing old with good grace is a challenge for any band that commits to a long career, especially one with a name like The Front Bottoms. But as ever they meet awkward situations with upfront honesty. If the title ‘Going Grey’ is the band acknowledging their more mature position, then the record itself is them asserting where they’re headed after three albums of staking their claim as pop-punk stalwarts. Some will baulk at the streamlined sound and more pensive lyrics, but the band never lose their sense of fun. Dillon Eastoe
THEORY OF A DEADMAN
WAKE UP CALL
ee Just in case you’d forgotten, Theory Of A Deadman are the band who wrote ‘Hate My Life’ – you know, that song where a guy sings about hating ‘hobos’, his wife and, well, everything. Basically, TOAD have never been a band to be taken too seriously, and new album ‘Wake Up Call’ follows suit. Opening track ‘Straight Jacket’ gets all tied up in trying to sound like something that’d be covered on Glee, while frontman Tyler Connolly – a man in his forties – singing about “Netflix chills” on ‘RX’ is just plain daft. If country-tinged arena-rock isn’t your thing, this is best avoided. Jake Richardson
eeee ’The Canyon’ is seventeen tracks of pure intricacy and honesty; stripping The Used back to their bare bones. Starting with an emotional intro of Bert crying on ‘For You’, the tone of the album is set. It’s a poignant journey that has led The Used back to their punk and rock roots. Its philosophical nature is an epic tale, a celebration of everything the band have ever been and have ever loved, and of life and death. Jasleen Dhindsa
TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
ulien Baker is at her most effective when occupying the extremes of emotion. Ruminating on broken hearts, tested faith and the strains of mental health, she embraces life’s darker moments knowing that the light will pull her through. The album’s message is perhaps best summed up in ‘Appointments’’ crescendo: “Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright, and I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is”. Melancholy is the bedrock of these songs, but hope isn’t far behind. From the outset Baker’s growth as a composer is apparent, with a sombre cello punctuating intro track ‘Over’ before delicate vocal harmonies drift into lead single ‘Appointments’. In the two years since ‘Sprained Ankle’ was released Baker has toured far and wide and was always bound to expand
her canvas. The intricate loops of her trademark Telecaster are still there, but there’s added emphasis on the possibilities afforded by the added time in the studio, with pianos and double-tracked vocals increasingly prominent. ‘Turn out the lights’ reaches a crescendo the likes of which Baker hasn’t delivered before. Where on ‘Sprained Ankle’ her heartfelt vocals lifted the songs up, here she brings the backing with her for the song’s finale making for a hair-raising moment. ‘Turn Out the Lights’ is above all driven by a sorrowful defiance in the face of life’s hardships, and in Julien Baker’s earnest delivery and parse songwriting these feelings have found a unique vessel. Still only 21 years old, Baker has crafted an album that flickers in the dark, but her own star is burning brighter than ever. Dillon Eastoe 51
BLACK BLACK FOXXES FOXXES COME COME INTO INTO FULL FULL FOCUS FOCUS AT AT THEIR THEIR BIGGEST BIGGEST HEADLINE HEADLINE SHOW SHOW THE DOME, TUFNELL PARK, LONDON
PHOTO: TIM EASTON
ark Holley definitely shouldn’t be on stage tonight. He should be in hospital, his Crohn’s disease flaired up a few nights ago, but here he is, leading Black Foxxes in their biggest ever headline show. And despite apologising if it feels rushed, tonight’s never hurried. Time is lost as the band bewitch. It’s the same sort of magic openers Brutus bring with them. Unrelenting and brutal but still overwhelmingly beautiful and full of joy, their music is powerful. Their presence known. ‘Burst’ is one of the most surprising records of the year, coming from the left and packing a punch and live, that mighty wallop hits you right in the heart. Closing with ‘Horde II’, all forked lightning and oncoming storms, the band pour everything and more into their scrawled wonder. A little over a year ago Black Foxxes released their debut album. ‘I’m Not Well’ was a flickering light in the dark, fully embracing the pain, isolation and detachment but finding a strength in taking ownership, an unwavering will to carry on. In the months that followed, their live show indulged the distortion. Heavy with feedback and fuzzy to the point of hiding, the band used their music to do the talking, uneasy with the spotlight. Tonight though, the band are in full focus. Mark is somehow channeling Jesse Lacey, Bruce Springsteen and one of the T-Birds from Grease, pained artist and delighted showman, there are at least half a dozen moments with an excitable “woo” before things kick off and every song sounds like a high-definition epic. Sharpened colour and razor edges, from the soft and gentle lament of ‘I’m Not Well’ that quickly bursts into something steely eyed and moving, through the warped terrace anthem of ‘Slow Jams Forever’ until the torrential close of ‘River’, Black Foxxes are masterful in their dance. Switching between light and dark, flirting with grandeur but keeping the heart pure, the band has taken the cinematic range of their debut and bought it to life. Face to face, the emotions are breathtaking, the conviction unquestioned. Four new songs also see the light, taking all that confidence, soul-baring honesty and connection to new places, the band are hungry for the next step. Snapping at the heels of bigger, hoping for something better, ‘Flowers’ sees them on the edge while ‘Manic In Me’ watches them letting go. Tonight was booked on a whim, a band trying something out just to see what would happen. As their last stop before they head into album two and the next chapter, it’s a firm reminder that Black Foxxes really could be one of those bands that change lives. In the front rows, they’re already there. Ali Shutler
EXCITING WE ASKED THE BANDS WHAT WAS FLOATING THEIR BOAT THIS MONTH.
“I’m really excited to see the film IT. That whole thing with the balloons belongs to ROAM – they’ve nicked that!” ALEX COSTELLO, ROAM
band we love X10, and we’re all pretty stoked on it. Then we’ll have to figure out how to get over to Europe and tour.” MIRANDA, MELKBELLY
“Touring! And then touring some more. We love getting to play shows outside of the city and in unfamiliar parts of the country. In September we’ll be on the road for a week with Protomartyr, a
“I’m excited to play paintball with my friends in a couple of weeks!” JESPER, PACESHIFTERS “Right now I’m excited that I’m out of the “writing the
You, ‘ The bands’? album cave”. I’m excited to play shows and excited to live life and enjoy new experiences. I’m excited to listen to other people’s music again and not just my own. See friends and family. Just be human and live life.” ECCA VANDAL “My girlfriend Alexis and I just adopted a puppy so he takes up a lot of our time! I live to spoil him.
I’m also looking forward to Christmas vacation with Alexis and her family and decorating our new apartment.” PAT, MOVEMENTS
The Spark The new album. Out now. On tour November 2017 w/ special guests
16 Liverpool. 17 Cardiff. 18 Nottingham. 19 Newcastle. 21 Manchester. 22 Brighton. 24 Birmingham. 25 London.
W W W .E N T E R S H I K A R I.C O M
Featuring Weezer, Julien Baker, Roam, Jamie Lenman, The Used, The Front Bottoms and loads more.