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MAY 2019 Issue 43

HELLO. Some bands grab hold of a special place in your heart. It’s not just that they’re especially brilliant musically - they’ve also got another, almost more important quality. You want to root for them. You and them vs the world. PUP are one of those bands. Their most recent album ‘Morbid Stuff’ is predictably great, so we were cock-a-hoop to head over to their native Canada to hang out in some of their favourite haunts and chat all about it. 16-pages of chat, in fact. Oh yeah, it’s big. Elsewhere this month we’ve got other long term faves. Brutus’ second album already has five shiny Upset stars under its hefty belt, while Tacocat are one of those underground gems that deserve to go big. With the considerable star power of The Damned Things and the raw upstart energy of Fontaines D.C., plus some guy called Andy Black (us neither - Ed), there’s loads to get your teeth into. Enjoy!







S tephen

Editor / @stephenackroyd

Upset Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor Ali Shutler Scribblers Alex Bradley, Dillon Eastoe, Jack Press, Jamie MacMillan, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jessica Godman, Linsey Teggert, Martyn Young, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Snappers Amanda Fotes, Frances Beach, Sarah Louise Bennett, Vanessa Heins P U B L I S H E D F RO M

W E LCO M E TOT H E B U N K E R.CO M U N I T 10, 23 G RA N G E RO A D, H A S T I N G S, T N34 2R L

All material copyright (c). All rights reserved.

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With his new solo album, Andy Black lays himself bare like never before. Words: Steven Loftin

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Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell is gearing up for a new album with Aaron West and The Roaring 20s. p.14

Twenty One Pilots are at the peak of their power at Wembley Arena. p.18

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n his second solo outing, Andy Black is getting ready to come back into the world more confident in himself. ‘Ghost of Ohio’ is a fully-fledged triumphant return, not only in his passion for music but also in his roots. It’s a creative exploration the likes of which he’s never done before, but the most important element comes from his reckoning with his past self - or selves.

“I’ve been going through selfdiscovery, or whatever you want to call it, for the last three years especially,” he admits, reclining comfortably in a chair in a hotel lounge in West London. Andy Biersack, or Andy Black, or however you may know him (“People call me all kinds of shit!”) has been battling with himself since his career began in his tender teen years. Stemming from his formative band, Black Veil Brides, where he entirely played up to the part of disenfranchised frontman fighting against the world - even down to the accidental moniker of Andy Sixx (“It was my fucking MySpace name!”). All he was trying to do was support those who couldn’t do so themselves. Headlines followed him around the world targeting him as ‘the band you love to hate’, for Andy it was a push and pull of trying to find out just exactly who he is, which is how his solo endeavour came to be. “I feel like it’s my duty, as a person who’s been given this opportunity, to continue to find ways to give the audience that has allowed me to do this, something new or different. One of the things previously in my career I hadn’t done is really

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“EVERYTHING I WAS AFRAID OF ALL CAME AT ME AT ONCE IN THIS MENAGERIE OF ANXIETIES” examine myself personally,” he says. “For people who have continued to buy records and show up and support me, it would feel like a betrayal of their time if I didn’t say, ‘Well, now I’m going to try my hardest to delve into different areas’. It feels good to know that whether people agree with it or not, or like it or not, for me, personally I look at this record a certain way. This is very indicative of how I am as a person.” The personality that shines through on ‘Ghost Of Ohio’ is one that’s building Andy into the person he wants to be. He’s been sober for a few years now, which brought with it its own set of struggles. “Everything I was afraid [of] all came at me at once in this menagerie of anxieties, and I had to think about all this stuff that I had spent years trying to run from,” he admits with an air of disbelief. “It wasn’t until I got into the meat of writing the record that I wanted to make it about me. I didn’t know how much I was going to talk about stuff or what I was willing to say, so I think it pretty quickly became that it was about me. In a direct way. Every song is ‘about’ me.”

His thirst to reincarnate this world around his hometown of Cincinnati, came as all things have to Andy - as a reaction; to wanting to be acknowledged by it, being disenfranchised by it all, and to face up to what’s gotten him to this point. “For a long time, it wasn’t great. I wouldn’t even say I was from Ohio because I felt so much angst towards it,” he reveals. “I couldn’t wait to get out; I felt like everybody had wronged me. It was more of over the last couple of years.” Taking a tentative pause, he continues. “In 2014 my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. In the initial parts of her chemo treatment, I took some time off and stayed with her for a couple of weeks to help her out in any way I could. During the day when she’d be taking a nap or whatever, I’d be walking around my old neighbourhood, and it was just a whole different experience for me, not being there for a two-day trip to visit my parents, but essentially living there. “Going to the grocery store I used to go to as a kid, and seeing people I went to

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“I COULDN’T WAIT TO GET OUT. I FELT LIKE EVERYBODY HAD WRONGED ME” high school with, and all that kind of thing. It built up my interest in being there more; it just became about seeing the positive sides, and that’s really what the record is about. Where you’re from, for everyone, is both the home of the best memories, and the worst memories, and it’s a difficult thing to deal with if you don’t live in the place you’re from.” With the notion behind ‘Ghosts’ being rather implicit in Andy’s life, the musical aspect is where the real freedom for him comes into play. Mentioning Bruce Springsteen several times, the inspiration striking through from his use of street names as song titles and a euphoria to hammer home the realism of his lyrics, he proves the alternative American dream is alive and kicking. Enlisting the help of various engineers, some as far away as Australia, to experiment and dip his toe into various new musical addendums to his career, Andy is always on the push forward even when things didn’t entirely start that way, particularly the titular track. “It was written originally as just a straight ballad, one that

didn’t go anywhere. I played it for my wife and she said it was great, but I can always tell... because she’s a songwriter, there were clues [she didn’t like it], but she didn’t say anything. And inversely nobody was doing anything with the song. It was just sitting there.” Explaining further on the more exploratory side of ‘Ghosts’, he continues. “It’s reactionary admittedly. We live in a playlist world. I look at it and go, ‘Why am I so obsessed with the idea that we need everything to fit in the same box?’ If my writing isn’t going to change exponentially, what can we do to change these elements to kind of break it out of the mould of everything being essentially variations of one song?” Which is why this album fits as the most logical step forward for Andy; he’s been front and centre for so long, toying with identities and running from his past, being led by his own insecurities - but now, with it all laid out in front of him, the ghost of Ohio himself can finally be laid to rest. P Andy Black’s

album ‘The Ghost of Ohio’ is out now.

GRANDSON HAS ANNOUNCED TWO NEW HEADLINE SHOWS grandson is going to play a handful of European shows this spring. The dates surround Slam Dunk, and include two warm-up shows: London’s Underworld on 22nd May, and Glasgow’s Cathouse on 23rd May.

DINOSAUR PILE-UP’S NEW ALBUM IS COMING IN JUNE Dinosaur Pile-Up have announced their fourth album, ‘Celebrity Mansions’. The record will be released on 7th June, preceded by new single ‘Thrash Metal Cassette’.

FRANK IERO’S NEW ALBUM IS IMMINENT Frank Iero and the Future Violents’ new album ‘Barriers’ is out on 31st May. The band will be hitting the road this summer for a headline tour that arrives in the UK for 2000trees on 13th July. Upset 9 9 UPSETMAGAZINE.COM


Everything you need to know about...

Seaway’s The whole inception of ‘Fresh Produce’ stemmed from us sitting on a couple of unreleased songs that we liked. ‘Blur’ is a B

side from ‘Vacation’ that for one reason or another just didn’t make the record, so we decided to save it for something in the future. The other new song, ‘Pleasures’, was written and recorded over a couple of days in LA well after ‘Vacation’ was released. We felt this song was a step in a cool direction and wanted to release it right away but again decided to save it for later days. Originally, we were going to throw these new tracks in with a collection of acoustic versions of some old songs and call it a day with a nice little EP.

Once we got into the studio with our good friend and OG Seaway producer, Anton Delost, we started messing around with new tempos, synths, different tunings and then it turned into something entirely different. So instead of just doing simple acoustic versions, we decided to

Guitarist Andrew Eichinger runs us through the band’s new record full of b-sides and alternate versions of fan favourites.

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new b-sides album

‘Fresh Produce’

have some fun and put a new spin on each one. Love it or hate it, it was gratifying to step a little bit outside of the box and just have some fun experimenting with our songs to come up with something new and fresh for everybody.

For ‘Lula’ we wanted to see if we could turn it into one of those folk/pop songs that are all over the radio these days, so we channelled our inner Mumford and Sons, put in some tambourine, a bad sounding kick drum, some “Hey’s” and there you have it! My favourite part

is when we switch to the minor halfway through the bridge and let it ride for the rest of the song. This completely changes the mood of the song for the better, and it’s something I almost wish we had thought of for the original.

The original version of ‘40 Over’ is slow, dark and heavy, so we thought, why not turn it into an up-tempo synth-pop song? Then we did the exact opposite

with ‘Slam/Shy Guys’, tuning our guitars to an open tuning and turning two fun, pop punk songs into one strange, emo mashup. Pretty sick if you ask me. Something wonderful was slowed down a lot but somehow turned out more poppy than the original. We had a lot of fun messing around with new guitar parts, vocoder and massive bass synths on that one.

After all of this, we were sitting on a ton of material. We decided to make a full LP and include all the covers we’d done over the years cause they had never been released physically, as well as the ‘All In My Head’ EP, which is out of print. In the end, we’re

left with an eclectic grouping of songs that span back to almost the beginning of this band to the present day, and I think it’s a great representation of how we’ve grown and who we are as a band. P

Seaway’s album ‘Fresh Produce’ is out 19th May.








Words: Ali Shutler Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett

Rock? Pop? Erm? Don’t put a label on it,eh?

He’s already well on the way to becoming a genuine superstar. In London, he’s sealed to deal.

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t’s easy to dismiss Yungblud as brash, over the top and cocksure. He is all those things after all. But, as he proved onstage at London’s Electric Ballroom, he’s also so much more.

“For 21 years of my life, I felt different. For 21 years of my life I believed that what I had to say was so far from real. For 21 years of my life I was misunderstood. For 21 years of my life I felt alone,” comes the tape-deck confessional at the start of the show. “But now I know I’m not alone. Because we’re all alone together,” he admits, before the electro-rage of ‘21st Century Liability’. Instantly the packed room unites as one. Star-jumping

for the duration, Yungblud is the ultimate hype man for the people hanging on every word he says. Hands in his pocket, he strolls across the stage soaking in the applause and oozing rock star cool before his face breaks into the biggest grin. “How the fuck did we get here?” he asks in disbelief as he watches reckless dreams come to life. Moments later, during ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’, he crouches down, head in hands, as he tries to take in just how mad this scene is. Front to back, every voice echoes his. Constantly moving, Yungblud is a force of a nature. Whipping, twirling and gallivanting about the stage, he channels an unbelievable

energy, buoyed on by a room who feel the same. From the twitching, outsider anthem of ‘Anarchist’, through the political rage of ‘King Charles’ and the disgust of lad culture that drives ‘Polygraph Eyes’ to the uniting carnival of ‘Loner’, Yungblud has created a space for social and selfempowerment. This isn’t hype. This is a movement to live by. Join them or get out of their way. “We’re like a family,” Yungblud declares after the destructed slow dance of ‘Kill Somebody’. “I love each and every one of you so much. Nobody can touch us,” he promises. United they stand, Yungblud isn’t going anywhere but up. P

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Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell is gearing up for a massive year of playing live with The Wonder Years, a new album with Aaron West and The Roaring 20s, and impending fatherhood. Words: Alex Bradley Upset 15



an ‘Soupy’ Campbell is getting ready for his most exciting adventure yet with the birth of his son this spring. The Wonder Years’ frontman and his wife Alison are expecting their first child (named Wyatt James Campbell because “the pentameter works nicely”) in April and for Dan, it seems that there is no job that would suit him better than fatherhood. Add into the mix that a new Aaron West album is imminent, tour dates in support of that and more Wonder Year’s show too, it’s going to be a busy year for the Campbell household, but Dan couldn’t be more excited. How are you feeling with just a short time left until the baby arrives?

Nothing about it has gotten me shaken at all, but you never know until it actually happens. I always saw myself as a father, and I always wanted kids. With teaching elementary school for a while, and I was significantly older than all my cousins, so I always had these younger kids around me and babies everywhere, so I feel excited and prepared for it.

There were definitely songs from times where perhaps you weren’t as ready mentally for kids - ‘Passing Through The Screen Door’ in particular had a lot of references to you not be as ready as people your age at the time, are you glad you’ve gotten to place in your life where everything feels right?

That song is funny right now. In my head when I sing “all the kids names I ever liked are tied to tragedy” line, I think, “ahhh except Wyatt”. It’s funny to sing that song now, but it’s still an important song to me and a lot of people. It’s interesting now because I

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wrote that song when I was 26, a good seven years ago. A lot of our fans were 18/19, and now they’re rolling into that age, and it’s affecting them in a certain way. I like it because it can stand as a bastion of you can follow your own path and still get to the destination you want to get to.

With that in mind, are you feeling mentally prepared for the baby?

When you’re dealing with the kind of things that people like myself - and a lot of our fans, it turns out - end up dealing with, it’s a constant reality. I’m anxious about everything. I don’t know when the last time I felt any sustained joy was. That’s just what I know my brain will always have to deal with. You just do the work to be effective and a caring, giving, member of society. I don’t think I’m in a better position at all, but maybe I’ve gotten better putting the effort into dealing with it.

Not hiding from feelings has to be essential for a child’s development?

Yeah, and I am generally happier around children. That’s why I loved teaching; I love the energy, so I’m excited for what it will do. I’m looking forward to some semblance of normalcy. I like the idea the baby will need a schedule, and I will need to adhere to that schedule, and that will force me into more patterns. Touring takes a toll because you cant develop habits or patterns; every day is different, then you go home, and there are these “activity deserts”. You’re like, well I finished the tour, and there is no writing to be done. You go on these long periods of malaise.

Moving forward with the band and baby, will we see less of you around?

I don’t think you’ll see a lot less, but we will have to be very strategic. We are trying to be. The big thing for me, this is the big anxiety push-pull right now, I wanna be able to be home and be Dad. The plan is for my wife to go back to work after her maternity leave is up and for me to be home with Wyatt all day, every day as much as I can until I have to go and play shows because unfortunately, the only way we generate any income is by playing music in front of people. If we are not on tour, then I don’t earn anything to support the family, so it’s about finding a balance. We have a year planned that it a lot of staggered things rather than long blocks of time away. I’m releasing a new Aaron West record and planning to do twenty shows throughout the year, and probably another twenty Wonder Years shows. So that’s another forty shows, but we’ll find a way to space them out. It’s about walking a line. As much as I love to play music, I don’t want to be on tour onehundred days a year anymore. But at the same time, I do love playing so we want to be an active part of this community and out here playing songs every chance we can.

Do you think people will understand that you have to be more selective with the dates you play?

I think people are starting to worry that it would be the end of us playing shows, and I don’t think that is true; it’s going to be a little more thoughtful. Maybe we won’t do ten cities every time. Derek [Sanders] from Mayday [Parade] and I always talk about this, and he said, “I’m afraid that if we stop or slow down, then people will forget about us”, and that’s a fear every musician

“I’m releasing a new Aaron West record and planning to do twenty shows throughout the year, and probably another twenty Wonder Years shows”

has. There are so many people trying to make music that if you intentionally vacate your spot, then someone wants that spot, but that’s something we’re gonna have to do our best to deal with. If we slow down touring and people are tired of it, then I guess I will go drive for Uber or something! Rather than running back and making another record as quickly as we have over the years, we have been thinking of maybe doing singles and finding other ways to connect with people that aren’t always making full-length records and then forty-date tours.

In terms of writing music, what do you think will change?

The Aaron West story arc already exists, and that’s a

work of fiction so primarily [fatherhood] will end up reflected in The Wonder Years but, now that I think about it, there are some inadvertent echoes of where my headspace has been on this Aaron West record. I didn’t really think about it until you said it.

So if Wyatt wants to be in a band in a few years, you’ll say ‘no way’ right?

There is a joke because our friends had a baby about a month and a half ago, and named him Hank and everyone thinks that the names together sound like a country duo, so everyone said you have to start writing songs for them now, so they have something to play in a couple of years. So, watch out for Wyatt & Hank the country duo. P

Aaron West and The Roaring 20s’ album ‘Routine Maintenance’ is out 10th May. Upset 17



wenty One Pilots have never been ones to rest on their laurels. Everything about ‘Blurryface’ saw Tyler and Josh dream bigger, achieve more. From the record, to the live show, they practiced perfection at every turn and time away hasn’t dampened their search for pristine and polished. ‘Trench’ is deeper, more delicate and more deliberate. It only seems right that their Bandito Tour follows suit.

From Josh walking into the darkness of Wembley Arena with a lit torch to Tyler emerging from the floor atop a burnt out car, the world of Trench is slowly introduced. ‘We Don’t Believe What’s On TV’ hints at what’s to come, snapshots of the unfurling adventure shown on TVs on the video screen while the figures of Fame and Success burst onto the stage for ‘Lane Boy’, trying to distract with plumes of smoke. The city of DEMA is shown in all it’s ominous glory during ‘Nico and the Niners’, silence reigns as Tyler stares up at it before escaping across a floating bridges that’s descended across the audience. Later on ‘Leave The City’ sees them turning out Neon Gravestones as yellow confetti ascends. “In time I will leave the city, for now I will stay alive” sings the entire room. The camera pans back, revealing a world of yellow lit hope outside of DEMA as the crowd, united as one voice admits, “In Trench I’m not alone. These faces facing me, they know what I mean,” as the cinematic landscape reverts back to pencil-drawn sketches on

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a wall that was how this all started. Every moment of tonight’s show is rooted in story-telling, in adventure and escape and the everexpanded, highly detailed world that Twenty One Pilots have created with ‘Trench’. It never takes away from the very real connection they have with the room, and every person within it though. The band are confident, happily playing their two biggest hits within the first fifteen minutes, and know how to take ownership of a room this vast. They make the security at the front dance before ‘My Blood’, they try (and fail) to play The Quiet Game and there are deliberate glances down the barrel of the camera, making the show feel intimate. Tyler steps back and watches the crowd sing ‘Cut My Lip’ and the invitation to “lean on my pride” in awe. “I feel sensitive. I don’t want it to be the same show,” admits Tyler during the second of their three-night stay at the venue. “So I trimmed my fingernails. That’s dedication,” he grins. Despite their quest for perfection, the show never retreads its steps. Always facing forward, and always reacting to what’s going on around them, the Bandito tour is a living, breathing beast that every person in attendance has a hand in shaping. Just like the band, tonight is about so much more than two people. It’s about the worlds we can create together. Heartfelt, powerful, universal and intimate, Twenty One Pilots are at their peak. And they’re only going to get better. P

TĂ˜P Report.

Twenty One Pilots are at the peak of their power at Wembley Arena. Words: Ali Shutler Photos: Frances Beach

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Puppy tour the UK from 17th April. FEVER 333 HAVE TWO NEW ‘EUROPEAN DEMONSTRATIONS’ Fever 333 have two new headline shows. Billed as European Demonstrations, the gigs take place following their set at Download: Glasgow Cathouse (17th June), and London Electric Ballroom (18th).

IDKHOW HAVE CONFIRMED A FEW NEW HEADLINERS iDKHOW are touring the UK in May. The dates include shows in Glasgow (28th May), Birmingham (29th) and Bristol (30th), following on from their sets at Slam Dunk.

2000TREES HAS ANNOUNCED SOME MORE BANDS As It Is, YONAKA and Cancer Bats are among several new names for 2000trees (11th-13th July), along with The Skints, A, Pulled Apart By Horses, Culture Abuse, Free Throw and Le Butcherettes. 20 UPSETMAGAZINE.

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Ever had to pack for a tour? You’re gonna be spending weeks in a small, intimate space with several other smelly people and - for hours a day, not a lot to do. You’re gonna need to be prepared. That’s why we’ve asked our fave musicians for tips. Take it away, lads..

Magic Monkey Paw. Jock: Very handy (excuse the pun) to have with you on tour when you really want something immediately. Each finger coils up menacingly when you’ve made your request to it. Often cursed.

APRIL 17 Southampton Joiners 18 Bristol The Exchange 19 Birmingham The Flapper 20 Manchester Star and Garter 21 Glasgow Garage Attic 22 Newcastle Think Tank 23 Nottingham Bodega Social Club 24 Leeds Brundenell Social Club 25 London Underworld A Black Lotus Magic. The Gathering Card. Jock: This is probably the rarest MTG card ever created and is highly valuable. Also, it adds three black mana to your mana pool at no cost, which is really incredible.

Free Shavocadoos. Jock: As a vegan, these are always handy to have with you for snacks, especially when they’re free.

A good book. Billy: This isn’t to read or anything like that, but to pull out at key moments throughout the tour to make me feel superior to the other two guys in the band.

Instruments. Billy: Though many of our songs benefit greatly from a capella, Barber Shop style arrangements, we have in the past struggled to convey what Puppy is all about without the use of any musical equipment. On our upcoming tour of the UK, especially as it’s a headline run, we thought we’d bite the bullet and have invested in a six-string fretless bass guitar, a clarinet and a tin shoe. Rehearsals are already sounding great.










Riot_ Behind the scenes.


SWMRS play their biggest ever headline show. Words: Ali Shutler Photos: Frances Beach


onight feels like a Moment. It might be because this show at London’s Electric Ballroom is the biggest headline gig SWMRS have ever done. It might be because people have been queuing outside for hours to get a prime spot for the imminent, heartfelt chaos. Or it might be that every support act, Destroy Boys, Big Character and Zuzu, has been hand-picked for the party.

From the moment SWMRS walk onstage to their own song, the room singing ‘Steve Got Robbed’ in perfect, boisterous karaoke, the band bundle together all that fizzying, excitable anticipation, wrap it around their collective finger and use it to launch the zipping upthrust of ‘Trashbag Baby’. That song is SWMRS most united moment, dual vocals and aligned personalities shining bright. From here on out, differences are celebrated. Unique is champion. That belief is one of the driving forces behind new album ‘Berkeley’s On Fire’ and live, SWMRS breathe that mantra. “I just want to remind you, before we get this rock and roll psycho train moving again, we are a community in here,” Cole starts two songs in.

“We take care of each other. And that means we’re going to have a crazy moshpit, but if anyone’s getting creepy in the mosh pit, they’re getting the fuck out of here. We’ve got to work together to stop assault. This song is about how we take the community we’re building in here, and we use it to make the world a better place. For everyone,” he declares before the zig-zag riot of ‘Berkeley’s On Fire’. Through the raucous festival-ready twinkle of ‘Too Much Coffee’, the crowd singing the guitar line like they’ve believed in anything more, across the menacing self-destruction of ‘Lose, Lose, Lose’ and the dynamite finger-point of ‘Hellboy’ until the heart-burst reflect of ‘April In Houston’, SWMRS play fast, loose and loving. There are breakdowns, snippets of Sex Pistols, The Smiths and The Jam as well as a slow-burning cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘My Boy’. Always moving, always evolving, the band inspire growth and demand change. It doesn’t matter how far SWMRS stray though, the crowd backs their every move. It’s an unwavering bond and a united voice. “We are so far away from California,” starts Cole. “But you guys make us feel like family.” P

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DITZ Brighton five-piece DITZ make absurdly catchy noise-rock in a similar vein to Girl Band, or a less polished-for-radio Slaves. Find them at Best Kept Secret.

HOT MILK Incoming.

Ahead of playing Upset’s stages at The Great Escape and Live At Leeds this month, rock’s latest upstarts are here to shake things up. Words: Steven Loftin

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GURU Another band from Brighton, GURU have just finished up a tour with Lady Bird, and not long dropped their fuzzy, raucous punk tune ‘Suntrap’.


ancunian four-piece Hot Milk are a project born out of unbridled love for music. Just ask coconspirators, Han Mee and James Shaw.

“Music is so personal,” Han begins. “You listen to it on your own, in your headphones, in your head. That is so unique to any human kind of experience. If you’re listening to some words, you’re always going to try and apply it to yourself, especially if you’re sat on your own.” The pair’s journey before Hot Milk was one that saw them skirt industry edges with various jobs, before jumping right in - or as Han astutely says: “Hang on a second, all our mates were doing this, and they’re just as good as we are, so why don’t we have a little bash at it, and we did… so this is where we are!” They were also in a relationship; thankfully, they parted romantic ways on good terms - in case you couldn’t tell by them, you know, still being in a band together. “Throughout the process of writing the first record, we broke up - which actually doesn’t reflect in the music at all,” Han is quick to clarify. “He’s my best friend.” Gearing up to release their debut EP ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’, if the title didn’t give its motives away then Han’s happy to divulge a bit further. “It’s about not feeling very ‘alive’, or if you exist in the way that we want to exist. It’s like having an itch that’s not

SUNSHINE FRISBEE LASERBEAM From Live At Leeds to 2000trees, it’ll be hard to avoid SFL this summer. FFO cheeky, guitar-laden power-pop.

“WE WERE LIKE, LET’S WRITE SOME FUCKIN’ SONGS, SEND THEM OUT ANONYMOUSLY” scratched properly. So me and James were like, if we’re going to do this, let’s write some fuckin’ songs, send them out anonymously. We did, and luckily we had a load of people interested.” It takes a particular person, or people, to garner the courage to drop a safe job in pursuit of a dream. “My attitude to life might be a bit loose because I just think what will be, will be,” says Han. “There are no rules if you think about it. We’re all just a little bacteria on this earth, just floating in space, and we’re all walking around like, ‘What is music?’ You know what I mean?” Existentialism aside, Hot Milk are fresh. They’re an amalgamation of a lot of things, so much so that they’ve called themselves ‘emo-powerpop’, because “as we were writing it, we realised it didn’t make sense in a genre that already existed.” They have the heart-onsleeve tact of emo while barraging euphoric choruses lift you higher and higher. “I read something a while back about The 1975, and the way Matty Healy writes,” James begins. “It was on his

first album; he was talking about themes, and feelings and moments as opposed to being ‘this song is about this that happened then to this person’. It’s more like a way of being personable and absorbing the music and applying it to something that you feel, and you want. There’s no right or wrong answer; all our songs can be applied in multiple situations. If someone is having a breakup, then…” Han interjects: “‘Take Your Jacket’ might be really good for them…” “…that was more about telling people to fuck off…” “’EY! FOCK OFF MATE, SEE YA LATER, ‘AV’ A GOOD ONE!’” Han exclaims. “The bottom line is we wrote these for us,” Han continues. “These were written when we didn’t know what we were going to do with ‘em. We wrote them for us because we needed to. I couldn’t give a shit about whether this goes amazingly well, or doesn’t. All I need to know is that I’ve done what I need to… and it’s so freeing!” P

Hot Milk play Live At Leeds on 4th May, and The Great Escape from 9th-11th May.

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Cover story

They’ve just dropped their best and most honest - album so far. We head to PUP’s native Toronto to talk ‘Morbid Stuff’. Words: Jessica Goodman Photos: Vanessa Heins, Amanda Fotes

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’ve been navigating my way through the mindnumbing reality of a godless existence. Which, at this point in my hollow and vapid life, has erased what little ambition I’ve got left.” On paper, such a tirade comes across as hopelessly futile. There’s no rhyme. There’s no reason. There isn’t even any resistance to the sense of negativity that clouds what’s being said. But PUP have never been ones to let negativity stand in their way. Snarled on the lead single from the band’s new album these words practically twist in their bitterness, kicking and screaming to be heard with a determination that’s anything but hopeless. All it takes is a rallying cry of “I’ve embraced the calamity,” and that prior negativity starts to melt away, making way for one of PUP’s most heart-achingly wholesome and endearingly human sentiments yet. “Music for us, and this band for us, is a way to be productive with all the negative things that come with life. It’s supposed to be a positive experience,” Stefan Babcock proclaims. “It’s not supposed to validate our negative feelings. It’s supposed to kind of rage against them,” he explains, “to help lift us out of whatever shit we’re going through.” Punk can be many things – as its most stereotyped, it’s aggressive. But for PUP it’s never been about anger or aggression, rather the energy and the drive to escape those things. “If you’re trying to make meaningful music, or meaningful art, it’s important to probe the darkness,” Stefan conveys. “But at the same time, let’s not kid ourselves. This is pretty fun for us,” he beams. “There is this constant reminder to ourselves when we’re probing that darkness that at the end of the day, this is for fun. It should be fun. The people who listen to our band, we all want them to have fun.” “That’s why we play in this band: it’s fun,” the frontman continues. “We want people who listen to the record and come to the shows to have fun. We don’t want to be...” he pauses, rethinking his statement. “We are always miserable, but we don’t want to be,” he laughs. “So we’re trying hard not to be.” “And we’ve got dad jokes,” guitarist Steve Sladkowski interjects, “just in case you were wondering. Tonnes of dad jokes.” Gathered around a table in a busy ramen restaurant in Toronto, jokes are in high order. Whether it’s taking the mick

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“It’s important to probe the darkness, but let’s not kid ourselves this is pretty fun” Stefan Babcock out of drummer Zack Mykula for being the eldest (“I’m too old and stupid to understand lyrics,” he deadpans in response to his bandmates’ mocking), discussing the morning’s bowel movements (“you see what touring has done to us?” Steve chides, “we’re comfortable talking about this stuff anywhere”), or simply just spurring each other on (“Steve’s always wanted to write a concept album,” Stefan taunts, “but Steve doesn’t write the lyrics, so fuck you”), the group are completely at ease. And why wouldn’t they be? This is their hometown, the city streets where they cut their teeth, matured from a bunch of wayward punks, and started to create something they’re truly proud to be a part of. Walking around the city, dipping into music boutiques and vintage

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stores, they tell tales of begrudging clarinet lessons and favoured Caribbean takeout spots. This is where the band grew up, and there’s every sense that without this city they wouldn’t be the same band they are today. “Our lives are so informed by living here,” Stefan expresses, “and by the experiences that we’ve had on the road. Without those experiences, these songs wouldn’t exist.” From living in Toronto to their non-stop touring schedule, these are the places that make PUP, PUP. “I’m sure other songs would exist,” Stefan adds, “but it certainly would not be the same record if we lived anywhere else, or if we recorded the record somewhere else. It would be a different kind of thing.” “You still haven’t written a song about

that time we went to Wawa, and you couldn’t get pickles at the General Store,” Zach laughs. His statement prompts an outburst of (partly mock) outrage, as the group regale stories of extended drives through the Canadian wilds to closed tourist attractions, ridiculous larger than life monuments, and a London pub they fondly call the “Crab & Rabbit” (which is actually Stratford’s Cart & Horses, for anyone curious). “Travelling around small towns and seeing all the quirky specifically and absurdly local things that we can go explore,” Steve details, “that’s something that I think now we’re really so much more appreciative of. I value that so much, just as a way to feel like there’s more of a connection to the places that we’re in.” Stories like these – of the

The setting to countless songs, the shouting of street names… Toronto has always had a presence in PUP’s music. But what exactly are the places that make this city mean so much to the punk rock outfit? Vince’s House “Back when we were called Topanga, and nobody was coming to shows, Vince would come to shows,” Stefan laughs. “He pretty much gave us the keys to his house and said ‘anytime you want, whether I’m here or not, come over and jam and practice’. We quit our jobs and were in his basement literally five or six days a week. We spent a lot of time in that basement, hanging out and making plans for the future and routing tours.” Nestor’s Basement (and Pizza Pizza) “We practice now in my parents’ basement. They’ve been kind enough to let us do that there,” Nestor describes. “It’s where we rehearsed and wrote the last record. It’s where we shot the last music video, a bunch of photos and a bunch of nonsense. Just right around the corner, there’s a little pizza shop there called Pizza Pizza.” Mention of the establishment sends the group into a flurry of enthusiasm. “This little known pizza place - it’s family owned,” Stefan gushes. “We try to feature them in every music video we can,” Nestor adds. “They just make their pizza so nice.” The Horseshoe Tavern “It is a legendary venue in Toronto, and in Canada,” Stefan enthuses. “I think pretty much every band from here who’s come up has played there.” “The first time we played it, I was like ‘whoa, this is serious - we’re a real band.’” Steve recalls. “It’s kind of one of those. It has that historical reputation.” “If they ask you to headline a Thursday / Friday / Saturday night at The Horseshoe, you’re like ‘okay, things are going well.’” Stefan states. “In Toronto, that’s when you’re kind of like ‘alright, something’s happening here.’” Thirsty & Miserable “It’s a bar in Kensington Market named after a Black Flag song,” Zack describes. “The owner, Katie, was in a band called Brutal Nights. She’s just an expert on beer. It’s an awesome place.”

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Inspiration can be found in odd places. It can be found in a rundown basement, the world’s largest Easter egg, or a closed pickle store. It can even be found in a long forgotten song by child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. “It floats up the stairs; it floats down the hall, it floats into my bedroom, right through the wall.” So begins the haunting ‘The Ghost Song (No Such Thing)’, a song that makes its influence clearly felt (much as a ghost might) on ‘Morbid Stuff’ track ‘Bloody Mary, Kate And Ashley’. “That was the first tape that I ever owned,” Stefan recalls. I think my sister passed it down to me

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when I was five or something. I always listened to ‘The Ghost Song’. [‘Bloody Mary, Kate And Ashley’] is pretty much an adult reflection on that song,” he describes, before laughing. “Pretty stupid shit.” Stupid or stroke of genius, that’s for you to decide. None of this, however, answers the song’s enduring question: “do you prefer Ashley or Mary-Kate?” “Which one did we decide?” Stefan laughs. “We tried to figure out which one turned good.” “They’re both killing the high fashion game right now,” Steve adds.

attraction they saw in Alberta or the take-out they favour in Birmingham – are a dime a dozen for the band. This is the life PUP lead. Travelling the world and seeing the sights is one of the perks. The experiences they share, the people they meet… These are the stories that make up their day to day, and these are the stories that they tell on ‘Morbid Stuff’. “We’ve stayed in many a punk squat or dirt house, but the first time we ever toured in the States, Zack and I slept in the concrete basement of this house in Portland that was just kind of beyond anything,” Stefan recalls. “When we walked in there was a yellow shag carpet, toenail clippings all over it, and a rotting Subway sandwich in the corner that was green with mould.” “There was a giant stain on the bed, and no sheet,” Zack describes. “And the guy said,” Stefan continues, “not a joke - ‘if you’re going to blow up your inflatable mattresses, just check the carpet for needles first ‘cause they might puncture them.’” “We’ve had a lot of uncomfortable nights - which are fine, it’s all part of the deal,” he adds, “but this was particularly fucked. We woke up at 5am just to get out of there. Then as we were leaving, on the fridge there was a taped up picture of the guy’s kid.” This is the story that forms the backdrop to ‘Scorpion Hill’, raging against its own darkness and desperation with a self-destructive cry of “if the world is gonna burn, everyone should get a turn to light it up.” “We just happened to walk into something that was really dark,” Stefan mulls. “I was just trying to put myself in his shoes for that song, and trying to imagine what happened to get him to that point in his life.” It’s a harrowing tale, making for what the band describe as what “might be the only song on the record where there’s not a whole lot of humour.” If anything, that makes PUP’s ability to dispel the gloom in favour of blistering riffs and brightness feel all the more powerful. “My favourite part about recording the record was actually finishing the darkest song on the record,” Stefan states, “but it being the stupidest experience that we had in the studio.” “We put accordion on it,” the frontman explains. “Only, no one in this band knows how to play accordion,” he laughs. “So when we recorded it Nestor and I had to

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“We are always miserable, but we don’t want to be” Stefan Babcock

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play it together.” What sounds short, sweet, and easy, is actually something half the band spent hours trying to perfect. “He played the buttons, and I was squeezing,” Nestor laughs. “It’s such a simple part. It’s only like three notes!” Stefan exclaims, mimicking the sound of an accordion screeching when played wrong. “It took longer than we’d care to admit,” Nestor chuckles. Ask about any song on ‘Morbid Stuff’, or indeed any of the band’s records, and Stefan can tell you exactly what it’s written about. It’s an impressive attention to detail, no doubt, but perhaps more impressive is PUPs ability to bring these stories and these songs to life in a way that they can resonate with anyone – wherever or whoever they might be. “I write a lot about things that have happened to me, or to us, in Toronto,” Stefan portrays. “But when I’m talking about getting high in a van in St Catharines, you don’t have to know where St Catharines is. Everyone can relate that to their own experiences in their own way.” “Getting high in a van in Southampton,” Zack laughs. “I think that’s as close as it comes.” When they released ‘The Dream Is Over’ three years ago, PUP slammed to the forefront of music media consciousness with all the aplomb of a rock into a hard place. Rallying and raging against the mixed up, messed up world around them, theirs is a sound that rises above the despondency, screaming and freewheeling with a vitality that’s giddying. It’s an energy that’s seared the band into the hearts of audiences worldwide, and one that had ‘Morbid Stuff’, held in highly-anticipated regard ever since the group announced it was in the works. “It’s been pretty incredible,” Stefan reflects. “I think every time anything good happens to us - we get a big tour, or our fanbase increases, or whatever we’re almost in a state of disbelief,” he chuckles. “It always feels like it could collapse at any second, so we don’t really take any of it for granted.” Rewind to the night before this interview: gathered at The Horseshoe Tavern for Pkew Pkew Pkew’s sold out album launch show, the frontman grinned as he conversed with a fan who introduced themselves just to express how much they love this band.

It’s moments like those ones – seeing people enthuse about their music, or watching audiences sing, dance, mosh pit, crowd surf, and stage dive their way through their live sets – that make it all worthwhile for PUP. “Sometimes touring can be really rough,” Stefan details. “Sometimes we hate each other. Sometimes everything is uncomfortable, and we just want to go home to our own beds and to our partners or whatever.” The temptation to give it all in might be there every once in a while, but it’s quashed every time the band step out on stage. “When you get up there, and people are singing along? That’s when it’s fucking worth it,” he enthuses. “To see people singing along, having a fun time... That’s the whole reason that we do this band.” The live experience has always been important for PUP. Back when they first started out (in the early days when they went by Topanga), they were inspired to do so by local promoters encouraging kids to pick up instruments and become the next opening act they put on. “We’ve always kind of operated around everything being about the show,” bassist Nestor Chumak states. “Making records, we usually focus on that.” He pauses, and grins. “We got kind of carried away on this record.” “’Kind of’ is an understatement,” Zach laughs. A whirlwind of misadventures, misfortune, and, well, morbid stuff, PUP’s third record is a driving venture in escaping its own darkness. “It’s dark, but flippant about the darkness,” Zach describes, while Nestor agrees that “it sounds serious, but it’s kind of goofy.” “I feel like we all have tackled a lot of dark stuff on it,” Stefan details, “but we try to do it with some self-deprecating humour.” Expressing self-loathing like it’s going out of style, ‘Morbid Stuff’ endeavours to rise above all of the bullshit and fuel the fires of whatever makes you feel good – or at least burn the anger away. Diving headfirst into the darkness in order to find a way to channel it into creating something brighter does have its downsides. “It’s this kind of thing that I struggle with about us being a band who writes about shitty emotions and shitty experiences. It’s fucked up for me that in a roundabout way we happen to become

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“We make money because we’re angry or sad, and because people who like our band are angry or sad, and that’s a really fucked up thing” Stefan Babcock 36 Upset

the beneficiaries of people being pissed off,” Stefan states. “We make money because we’re angry or sad, and because people who like our band are angry or sad or whatever,” he explains, “and that’s a really fucked up thing to struggle with. It’s something that is often on my mind, about wanting to make sure that we’re actually a positive influence on those types of people and on those situations rather than part of the problem.” It’s a concern that reaches an explosive climax on ‘Full Blown Meltdown’ (a song they nearly titled ‘The Realest Song On This Record’), with a cynical and screeching refrain of “I’ll be sure to write it down when I hit rock bottom, for all the people who love to fetishize problems.” This is PUP at their most full throttle, their most lyrically biting and self-deprecating. “It’s almost the hardest song for me to talk about lyrically because it’s too real for some people,” Stefan conveys. But if it didn’t manage to find some hope within the chaos, it almost wouldn’t be a PUP song. “I feel like [‘Full Blown Meltdown’] is kind of us sneering at the problems by using them to our advantage, by making a song out of them, and taking control of the situation,” Zack conveys. “At least, that’s my interpretation,” he shrugs. “I’m just a drummer, so...” “You’re 32, so...” Nestor dismisses. “I’m too old,” Zack deadpans. “I’m too old and stupid.” Bitter but bright, angered but elated, self-loathing but laughing out loud… These are just some of the contrasts that make PUP who they are.

Packed together in a van, travelling for hours at a time… Touring has got to have its highs and lows (just take a look at the video for ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You…’). But these are the times that PUP enthuse about most, the stories they tell on ‘Morbid Stuff’. Wawa, Ontario “What, you don’t know where it is?” Stefan questions, laughing. “Don’t go there,” Zack advises. “There’s no pickles.” His statement sparks both laughter and outrage from his bandmates. “This place is supposed to be renowned for their pickles,” Stefan explains. “We drove for 16 hours, because there are no towns in between, and all we talked about were pickles. We got there, and the pickle store was closed. I was like ‘I quit this band.’” “This is all on the record,” Nestor laughs. “We wanted them to hear our outrage,” Zack affirms. Vegreville, Alberta “I’ve been trying to write a song about this experience we had on our last Canadian tour,” Stefan starts. “It was really exciting. We went to see the world’s largest Faberge egg,” he enthuses. “This is the Ukrainian egg, the Christmas egg,” Nestor corrects. “…Well, my song’s all fucked up now,” Stefan deadpans. “It’s just like a giant, patterned Easter egg,” Steve describes. “I don’t think it’s actually made out of egg, though,” Zack adds (at 9 meters long and three and a half stories high, it begs the question: ‘what animal could lay that?’). “No, I don’t think you could get an egg that big,” Steve laughs. “It looked pretty delicious,” Zack recalls, “but you might be in for a rude surprise if you try to bite it.”

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“You have to overcome a lot to do this job” Stefan Babcock “I feel like people learn a lot about us from the music,” Stefan states, “but there’s a lot more to be learned. We really want people to feel like they’re part of our world, and we’re all part of the same team.” Whether it’s something as simple as inviting their audiences up to stage dive at their live shows, or something as complicated as a retro style computer game as a music video, having their listeners feel involved in what they’re creating is something the band have always made an extra effort to do. So when they shared the lyrics and chords to an as-of-then unreleased song and asked fans to submit their own cover versions, was it really any surprise how readily the responses rolled in? “In a lot of ways we just gave up control of the song,” Steve states. “It was really cool to see what happened once we did that.” “Also, the song was shit,” Stefan interjects around a mouthful of ramen noodles. “We might as well just fuck with it,” he deadpans, to the amusement of his bandmates. “Publicise with that!” Zack laughs. “’Our music sucks!’” Self-deprecating humour is part of who PUP are (“there were a few [covers] that were maybe legitimately better than ours,” Stefan enthuses. “There were about 250 that were better,” Zack rebukes), but if this cover competition has shown anything, it’s how vast an audience hold this band in high esteem. The resulting music video for ‘Free At Last’ features 253 different interpretations of

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the song (254 if you include the band’s own). Everything from bedroom jams to studio covers, live renditions to trippy woodland video versions, out-and-out rock to cheesy piano ballads… The creativity the band bring out in their audience is seemingly endless. “We literally thought maybe two people would do it, and then we’d have to beg a couple of our friends to do it,” Nestor states. “We’re not being disingenuous there either,” Steve expresses. “We were like ‘okay, if we have to talk to people, who could we ask?’” “We made a list,” Zack affirms. “Just to see people putting effort into something like that,” Stefan expresses. “Like, why the fuck does anybody care about this?!” he marvels. “It’s been very rewarding for us,” Zack agrees. “I hope it’s rewarding for our fans.” And that’s what it’s all about: whether it’s listening to the songs, heading to the shows, recording covers, losing your cool (in a good way) in a mosh pit, or something else entirely, PUP’s music – their videos, their shows the whole experience – is geared towards having a good time. “It gets harder and harder to communicate well with your fans as things progress, but it’s always been something that’s pretty important to us,” Stefan describes. “It’s nice to have those people involved in this band, in this project, because they’re a big part of it for us.” “It’s making the world smaller, almost,” Zack agrees. “We can’t say we’re DIY, but we maintain that atmosphere around our songs

We’re gonna need a bigger boat... Putting their album up for pre-order with an annihilation preparedness kit (includes custom band-aids, a multi-tool set, and a full sized inflatable boat – with the added disclaimer that the boat “is intended for novelty purposes only’), PUP are weathering their fans for any storm. “I have definitely made the mistake of trying to use an inflatable boat in place of a real boat during camping trips, and it’s turned out very poorly for me,” Stefan states. “That’s just my advice to the world, if you bought a stupid PUP inflatable boat.” It’s a daft concept, and one the group revel in. But in the face of potential annihilation, what advice would they give to be prepared? “Ultimately, I think it’s most important to remember that we’re all fucked either way,” Stefan deadpans. “Anything you do that may help you in the short term; you’re just postponing the inevitable.” Cheers.

“I think within that, it’s a lot easier to be a decent, empathetic person,” Steve adds. “Much as we have examples in the world that are suggesting otherwise, it’s easier to be open minded and loving and caring, than it is to be closed and frightened and pointing fingers at other people and trying to control what other people do.” “That was nice,” Stefan interjects, “but what the fuck does that have to do with the pending apocalypse?!” “Listen,” Steve laughs, “if we’re all fucked, we might as well be nice to each other.” “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Stefan agrees. “Fucking dive headfirst into the void, man.” “Go for it. Cannonball!” Steve shouts. “Be done with it!” Stefan exclaims. We don’t know about the rest of you, but we think we’ll be sticking with Nestor’s advice. “It’s better to face it with a friend,” he grins. Upset 39

by keeping the world small by staying connected with people.” Connection is a huge part of PUP’s identity, and always has been. Just take a look at their music videos: ‘Guilt Trip’ from their debut sees a group of kids band together to protect one of their own (a ‘young Stefan Babcock’ portrayed by Finn Wolfhard), while ‘Morbid Stuff’ lead single ‘Kids’ sees a group of middle-aged bandmatesturned-strangers rally together to reach out to one of their own (an older version of Stefan Babcock portrayed by Stefan Babcock). None of these are true to life (as far as we know: we’re not psychic – ‘Kids’ could be the future), but there’s a closeness and a familiarity here that’s too heartfelt to be fiction. “If not for this band, I’m pretty sure we’d all still be friends, yeah?” Nestor teases. It’s a question that doesn’t even need answering, considering how far the four have all come together. “That family connection, or those familial style bonds, are kind of who we are,” Steve portrays. “We have all gone

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“If people feel a sense of community around the band, that’s really special” Stefan Babcock through a lot of those growing pains, and sacrifices that the four of us have made and that our partners have made, we’ve gone through, together. That has brought us all closer.” “You have to overcome a lot to do this job if you want to have any success. You can’t let little setbacks stand in your way,” Stefan distils. “If we gave up every time somebody said ‘you can’t do this,’ we would’ve given up ages ago.” The reason that hasn’t happened is simple: the band had each other. “It makes it a lot easier to face challenges or overcome things or deal with what you need to deal with, when you know there are three other people who are like family,” Steve expresses, Zack continuing: “who’re also going through identical stuff.” “This is our little family,” Stefan asserts. “That’s just what it is. When you tour this much and work together all the time, it really does start to feel like a family.” So that’s what they strive to offer their audience: a sense of connection, a sense of community even, a sense of getting through the bullshit together – simply put, a sense of not being alone. “Anywhere that people are able to find somewhere where they feel like they belong, and feel like there are other people who identify with the same things that they

do, or are able to make them feel like they can be themselves and be comfortable is really cool,” Steve enthuses. “I hope we’re able to do that with some of our fans. If people feel a sense of community around the band, that’s really special and really important.” “Was that a good answer? I can’t tell sometimes,” Stefan questions mid-interview. “You can just be like ‘...that’s dumb.’” “’We’re going to do a redo here!’” Steve mocks. “Basically, we don’t know how it works,” Zack explains over his bandmates. There might not be rhyme. There might not even be reason. But what PUP possess in spades is resilience: resilience to the demanding nature of life on the road, resilience to their own snarling diatribes, and a resilience to the the darkness of the world around them. Using that darkness as fuel to create music that burns bright, to create a connection that sears with meaning, to create from the chaos something that’s fun… That’s what makes PUP such a force to be reckoned with. As the chorus of ‘Kids’ resounds, “I guess it doesn’t matter anyway, I don’t care about nothing but you.” And sometimes, that’s all you need to hear. P PUP’s album ‘Morbid Stuff’ is out


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Brut Interview.

Belgian trio Brutus are one of rock’s best up-and-coming bands; following a crazy couple of years, their second album ‘Nest’ is a corker. Words: Linsey Teggert

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Since the release of their debut album ‘Burst’ in 2017, Belgian trio Brutus have found themselves caught in a whirlwind. From relentless touring with the likes of Thrice, Chelsea Wolfe and Russian Circles, to gaining an army of fans that includes Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, the band have found themselves propelled forward in ways that they thought they could only dream of. “Every person starts a band with a dream,” explains vocalist and drummer Stefanie Mannaerts. “You think maybe you could release music on a cool label, maybe you could tour, and you think you are so ready. Then when everything starts to happen, you don’t feel so ready anymore!” “When we recorded the first album, we didn’t even have a label,” adds bassist Peter Mulders. “We’d played a lot of shows and had saved some money, and we were just three friends making a record, at that point, it was the craziest thing we would ever do. It’s hard to imagine how it was before; the band takes up a lot more of our lives now.” The result of this rollercoaster ride is Brutus’ utterly triumphant second album, ‘Nest’. If ‘Burst’ marked them as ones to watch, ‘Nest’ sets them apart as a sheer force to be reckoned with, just as powerful as the hurricane they have found themselves in. Naturally, with triumph comes self-reflection, and ‘Nest’ was born of this introspection, as the three-piece tried to find a balance between their forward motion and the lives they left behind at home. “For us, calling this album ‘Nest’ was very logical,” says Stefanie. “You have your nest

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at home which is like your life partner and your family, but then you have your nest on the road, which for us is the band. We had so many difficult feelings - you feel like you’re choosing from one nest and maybe forgetting about the other nest and taking things for granted. It’s been very full on for the band, and maybe sometimes we forgot the other people who make us happy as well.” “That’s not to say the people in our home nests aren’t supportive,” continues Peter. “My girlfriend is a huge supporter of us, but when she’s alone, it’s not easy for her. She’s not happy, but she still supports us. It’s that double feeling we’ve all felt.” Rather than create discord, these conflicting feelings have

only strengthened Brutus’ dynamic as a band. “We’ve become a lot closer as people,” says Peter. “We were already close when we wrote ‘Burst’, but when there’s so much happening for all of us, we’re all in the same boat. You have to row the river to get there with three of us, but it makes the bond even stronger, and we understand each other better.” Though the three had played together previously in different bands (Stefanie and Peter were in Refused Party Programme, a tribute to Swedish hardcore legends Refused, while Stefanie and guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden played together in a band called Starfucker), with Brutus it seems they found some sort of telepathic, unspoken common ground. “Normally when you start a band, you’ll be in a bar and be like ‘we should start a thrash metal band!’ But we never had ‘the talk’ – we just tuned the guitars, and I set up my drum kit, and we just did whatever,” explains Stefanie. “We searched until we found something everybody liked without thinking of other bands or genres,” adds Peter. “When we’re asked what genre we class ourselves as, we just use the answer we’d say to your Nana, and that’s ‘rock music’,” Stefanie laughs. While ‘rock music’ is certainly the easiest answer, it almost does Brutus a

“We had so many difficult feelings; it’s been very full on for the band” Stefanie Mannaerts

“When we recorded the first album, we didn’t even have a label” Peter Mulders

disservice. There sound is so nuanced, so sweeping, and so very much ‘them’ that it’s impossible to assign it to a genre. ‘Burst’ was an incredibly powerful debut, but ‘Nest’ increases that power, ten-fold. Stefanie has fully embraced her role as vocalist and drummer (something she first did out of necessity), and her performance is nothing short of astonishing, her voice ranging from a velvety whisper to a guttural roar, soaring above primal drum beats. Peter and Stijn complete the circle with post-rock atmospherics and urgent riffs, adding texture to their incendiary sound. For ‘Nest’, Brutus travelled back to Rain City Recorders in Vancouver to work with Jesse Gander, the very place the whirlwind began with the recording of ‘Burst’. Perhaps it was a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’ but there’s also something ritualistic in the way they describe the process. No matter which it was, it

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certainly seems to have done the trick. “We got good vibes from the first time, and it gave us ‘Burst’ which gave us a lot. Stijn summed it up when he said it was almost like closure, we’d toured so much and written so much since that first recording, that it felt natural to end this period in the same place,” explains Peter. “We were in a little bubble where we sleep in the same house, take the same train to the studio, stop at the same coffee shop, eat at the same restaurants – it gives a really good connection.” “Plus, in a different time zone, it’s very easy to get isolated, but that’s perfect,” adds Stefanie. “It’s just the three of us and Jesse with no pressure from the outside, no distractions, trying to make the best sounding record we possibly could at the time. It’s a very unique feeling, and it all reflects in the recording.” P Brutus’ album

‘Nest’ is out now.

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Crime Watch Interview.

Supergroup The Damned Things are back after nearly a decade away with a renewed passion for collaboration; Fall Out Boy guitarist Joe Trohman tells us what’s what. Words: Jasleen Dhindsa


t’s been nearly ten years since supergroup The Damned Things’ debut album came out. Comprised of members of Fall Out Boy (Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley), Every Time I Die (Keith Buckley), Anthrax (Scott Ian), and Alkaline Trio (Dan Andriano), the band have returned with a second album that feels considerably more organic than their debut, ‘Ironiclast’.

“When we originally did the band, Scott, Andy and I were jamming in a warehouse based in Chicago,” Joe explains, “and then we ended up doing some demos with [producer] Joe Barresi in Pasadena that we never ended up making an album out of. It was very raw and loose, and even though it wasn’t the right thing, to a degree, we wanted to do it. “Then we had compiled the full band with Rob [Caggiano, The Damned Things’ former guitarist and Anthrax member], and we were forced to do it on a major label because of contractual reasons. All of these things started to happen, and it felt bigger, and I was thinking, ‘Oh shit, we should make sure this production is very slick’. “With all of our other bands and all of our other records,

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I should have felt more comfortable in the loose rawness, instead of the complete other direction. I’m proud of [‘Ironiclast’] don’t get me wrong, but I look back, and a lot of people look back on records and think oh I’d change this, this and that, [but] I would start over from the beginning, with the same songs but just do it differently maybe. “This time I was like, let’s just shoot from the hip. Let’s keep this record raw; let’s not worry about meeting some type of specific rock and roll standard. Also, I wasn’t listening to anything while writing it, so any influence that anyone hears, and people have mentioned some really cool stuff, that made me feel very humble, but it’s completely stuff that I’ve just taken over the years, stuff that exists in my brain, filtered and written through me interpreting from a million miles away.” The Damned Things have kicked off the album cycle for ‘High Crimes’ with lead single ‘Cells’. It’s energetic and ballsy hard rock, accompanied by a music video where comedic and gory freak accidents occur as the band are jamming in a studio. “[The video for ‘Cells’] was inspired by a combination of things, definitely a love for horror movies. It’s more in that regard a send off to everything we love about Grindhouse and B movie horror [like] Sleepaway Camp, Maniac... so I wanted to make a video that was comedy, but a comedy horror and lampooning something. The director Brendon Dermer and I came up with the idea of parodying the rock doc thing, so take Guns N Roses’ ‘Patience’ video, which is them jamming in the studio being

a rock band, and then turn it on its head genre-wise, at the halfway point so it completely shifts.” A decade is a long time for a band to have not put any music out, so how did The Damned Things regroup after all that time? “Jay Rustin, who is the producer of this Damned Things record, he got me to write a couple of songs for this artist, who then ended up not existing on our radar anymore,” Joe explains. The songs he had written sounded like they could be for The Damned Things, but he was unsure whether he wanted to do the band again. “I liked the songs a lot, so I went to Keith and Scott, and they were excited. “I went back and wrote two or three more songs, and asked if

“Our debut felt like standing naked in front of everyone” Joe Trohman

they wanted to do an EP. As I got more excited about those songs, I thought maybe we should do an album, so we recorded [the album] as the four of us: Keith, Scott, Andy and I, and I was playing bass. Keith had suggested through a recommendation his wife made, to ask Dan maybe if he wanted to do it. I thought he was going to say no, and then he said yes. “He happened to be coming to Southern California, so he came over

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to my studio and hung out. He’s the best; he’s a sick bass player. I can play bass, but he’s a bass player, so it’s different sonically. He had tonnes of room to do whatever he wanted, and added some cool shit to it and made it a better record. It just kind of happened, which is how all the best stuff in a band happens; it all happens by not forcing anything to exist.” As The Damned Things are a supergroup, comparisons to

the members’ other bands often crop up. “I think the first time around, on ‘Ironiclast’, it felt very much like let’s take one third Every Time I Die, and one third Fall Out Boy, put it in a blender, and that’s what it is. It felt a little more like that. [I’m not] disparaging that album, I want that to be very clear, I just felt that way. For a band’s first album, I’m pretty proud of it, but it does have its flaws.

“I don’t want to take another ten years in between this record and the next one” Joe Trohman

“With this album, there wasn’t any of that. ‘Invincible’ and ‘Omen’ were the first two songs that had been written for this record, and they both sounded like The Damned Things, but in a way would reminisce of the last record, but be completely its own. I think the last time was finding the band’s sound, [and] this time I know what this band should sound like at this point, so I’m just going to write that and not worry so much about trying to appeal to anyone except ourselves.” When the band first started, the only nerves Joe had about fans comparing The Damned Things to Fall Out Boy was about people comparing successes, because as he admits “there’s no way anything I’m ever going to do is going to be as successful as Fall Out Boy.” “To me, putting out [‘Ironiclast’]

was more like standing naked in front of everyone, and being like, ‘Do you guys like my naked body?’ That was what it was like to me. I don’t feel it as much this time, I really feel very confident regardless of how much people will hate it or don’t like it. “It’s not fun for people to not like a thing you make, but I really do like it. I am very proud of it; I think everyone else in the band is very proud of it. It would be nice for people to dig it and have success with this band to the point where we could do it more regularly. I don’t want to take another ten years in between this record and the next one; I would like to do more of this, especially as we’ve cracked a code sort of. [I’m] not nervous, I’m hopeful [and] cautiously optimistic.” Despite the atmosphere feeling more authentic this time around, Joe says that he

always saw The Damned Things as a serious band, rather than simply a side project. “I don’t think we’re all on the same page, to be honest. I think we hit this point where we sold out Irving Plaza in New York, it’s a nice sized theatre, and I was like, cool we can do that on our own, I know what this is now, we should keep doing this. Everyone else was like, ‘Oh we’re going to go!’ I’m like, don’t go! This isn’t the time to go! “When we started to do this again, I had a conversation with the guys. What happened last time, no love lost obviously because we’ve been friends despite not having done the band for ten years [and] that’s in the past, but I can’t put all this time in and have that happen again. So let’s do this, unless people have zero response to it, then we don’t do it. If people latch on to it and are excited, we have to do this. I don’t want to go fifty percent of the way and give up

when it’s going well. “I understand why. Why wouldn’t you go back to your band that you put so much more time into that’s more successful? It’s a lot of work to build a thing, but I think everyone is ready to do it this time around, especially since we are much more open communicatively.” Sonically and lyrically The Damned Things have created a more raw record with ‘High Crimes’. “Keith writes the lyrics, I wrote the majority of the music, so when it comes to lyrics, I can only interpret. I know from being close friends with him that he and I deal with similar types of issues, we both have little kids, travelling for a living and being away from our daughters and wives, it’s very difficult, and causes emotional distress. “We both deal with depression, severe depression, and both of us to different extents will deal with that through drinking. Not horribly, I

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haven’t talked to a doctor about that [laughs], and I don’t want to speak for Keith, but I know I do that. There are themes on this record that are reminiscent to me of trying to express isolation and express a longing, and how that isolation and longing can create some self-loathing.” A stand-out moment on ‘High Crimes’ for both Joe and the listener, is the first few seconds of ‘Something Good’, which kicks off with a slightly sadistic, but hilarious cheerleader chant. “I always wanted to do a cheerleader chant. I pitched those lyrics to Keith, and that was one of the few songs on the record where we were actually sitting in a room together. So I was like what about this: ‘Y-E-L-L / All my friends are going to hell!’?” He laughs, “I felt a bit creepy, and just went online and had to watch cheerleader chants. Oh my god, I’m in my mid-thirties... I’m just looking at this to get ideas! It’s just inspiration because I’m not a cheerleader and never was, I can’t even think of any [chants] right now. “So I heard one that said ‘Y-E-L-L’, and I was like, ‘Oh what about all my friends are going to hell?’ I mean they are, we’re all going to hell, we are in hell, you know? It wasn’t intentionally meant to be a commentary on socio-political times, but I can interpret it that way, everything kind of feels that way a little bit. “There’s going to be people reading this going, ‘What do you mean? Your life is great’. Of course my life is great, I’m also depressed and also things aren’t great around us, so don’t put this on me dickhead [laughs]. That’s one I feel close to.” As for live dates for the band, Joe says he’s not hiding anything. “We only have the US tour booked. I’ve been so busy on like eight hundred things, and I’m definitely doing stuff to tee up the release of the album. It’s

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“I don’t want to go fifty percent of the way and give up when it’s going well” Joe Trohman

slowly coming together. We want to [tour] the UK specifically, in Europe as well. Some of our first shows were in London, and they were great, so it makes sense that we should go back.” From an outside perspective, life in a supergroup sounds amazing. Creative freedom and an already achieved stratospheric platform at your disposal seems like a recipe for guaranteed success and happiness. However, the reality is that it’s not all perfect, and is a lot more complicated than you’d think. “When you’re in a known band, it’s really hard to start a new band. I just wanted to make this band and do this thing; there was nothing like - we’re going to be a supergroup, it’s going to be super and cool, everything’s going to be SUPER!

I never recommend anyone do a band. It’s very hard; it can be very unfulfilling. “If you love music, and want to play it, do it. If you want to start a band, go for it. If you’re already in a known band and you want to do another band with a bunch of other known people, go for it. The cards are going to be stacked up against you; there’s a relatively low chance that you’re going to make something that people are going to be like, well that’s good or as good as your other band. So just do it cause you want to do it, but just don’t

do it.” Despite the potential adverse aspects of being in a supergroup, Joe couldn’t be prouder of his one. “There are very few wasted moments on this record. I think we achieve sonically the sound and vibe and feel that we had intended. We said we were going to do it this way, and we did, and it came out right. I’m proud of the performances that everyone put into it, everyone’s a pro, not that they weren’t a pro before, but everyone somehow just keeps getting better. Everyone came in

and just nailed it. “It was quick and easy to make - people will make these statements that great art should be difficult. I don’t know if it’s great art, but it’s satisfying art. I’m not ever going to say anything I do is great, in the grand scheme of greatness, but it’s good art, and it’s a good record, and I’m proud entirely that we set out with an idea of what we wanted to make and we made it, instead of pivoting. We had a vision, and we materialised it.” If Joe could curate a new supergroup, who would feature?

“I’ll be honest, I would never want to do it. You know who does a lot of supergroups? Jack White, he had like five going. [He’s] a good guy to ask because he does a lot of them. I’d like to get a group of disgraced, one time big rappers. Let’s get MC Hammer, let’s get Coolio, let’s get Kriss and Kross into the group too. Call it ‘Da Disgraced’, you could spell disgraced in a misspelled way. I need to sit down with a pen and paper to write it out, but that’s my group.” P The Damned Things’

album ‘High Crimes’ is out 26th April.

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The Messy Place

Tacocat’s Emily Nokes talks politics, mental health and staying positive.


eattle band Tacocat are as down as the rest of us about ‘the state of things’, but they’re figuring out a way through with a new album filled with wit and charm. ‘This Mess Is a Place’ is their first for local heroes Sub Pop, too - they’re moving into the big leagues. Hey Emily, how did the label move come about?

We have loved being on Hardly Art so much, we grew up on that label, but it felt like the right time to migrate over to the bigkid table.

What was your state of mind like going into this record?

I was feeling pretty dismal if I’m being honest. I get seasonal depression, but this was much more acute, so I was trying to dig myself out of that hole, while at the same time just feeling the world, my friends, my community, absolutely reeling from the election. Processing

Words: Sam Taylor. that was so extreme. I was feeling bad for everyone, feeling bad for myself; it felt impossible to express anything that anyone would want to listen to. I knew I didn’t want an overly sad or angry album — even though those are such valid emotions — so there was anxiety around that as well. But after taking a lot of time and space to just think and thaw out, I started being able to write more. And, I think, write better. I just needed to find the fun and humour and power again!

Has your take on politics and the like changed over the course of your albums? I want to always be learning and growing, so there’s definitely been a lot of refining, calibrating, and self-education over the past 11 years. Being a radical or a liberal or identifying as a feminist just isn’t going to cut it these days unless you’re constantly learning, listening, and regularly examining your thoughts/ideas/understanding of the world.

Oooh, that’s a tough one. They’re our children, and it’s so hard to pick just one, but I think the single ‘Grains of Salt’ is the current fave.

Did you try out anything new in the studio?

My parts are sort of boring to talk about because it’s just different harmonies and layers of vocals and other voice dork stuff, but I did play a tiny bit of keyboards for the first time! I was a tipsy and very stoned, and it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that I then had to do IN FRONT OF PEOPLE without having practised anything — I’m really bad at being put on the spot, but it was fun and liberating and made me want to play keyboard again.

Anything else we should know?

I really, really hope so.

I’m reading this book about the metric system — did you know that France briefly had a 10-hour day? Each hour was 100 minutes and each minute was 100 seconds. It’s so nuts that there was this wacky time when a bunch of dudes were trying to figure out how everyone should measure time and distance and weight and stuff. There were so many bad ideas. P

Which song on ‘This Mess Is A Place’ are you most proud of?

Tacocat’s album ‘This Mess Is A Place’ is out 3rd May.

Do you think you’ll be writing your next record in a different political climate?

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Too Real


Post-punk newcomers Fontaines D.C. are breaking out of Dublin with starkly honest tales of everyday frustration. With their debut album having just landed, they’ve a huge year ahead. Words: Steven Loftin.

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ontaines D.C. have come storming across the Irish sea with their eyes set firmly on finding a voice for those in need. Things have been picking up fast for Ireland’s latest export - not two weeks ago the five upstarts were over in the States for the first time playing shows in New York, before heading to SXSW to play nine sets in a week. That’s not to mention gearing up for the release of their debut album, ‘Dogrel’. Understandably, they’re a bit knackered.

But all of this happy furore comes from the energy naturally surrounding Fontaines D.C. They’re a band who are channelling something real, stemming from a distaste for the scene around them in their homestead of Dublin. “The music scene specifically at the time was… I dunno if you had this in Britain, but it was a Neo-Soul thing?” bassist Conor Deegan ‘Deego’ III explains. “We had such a distaste for it because we just loved listening to bands like The Strokes, and then we finally got to live in Dublin as young adults, and to go to gigs and all the bands are these fockin’ shit like, you know? And just pretentious, overcomplicated. But then, they think that they’re not pretentious? That it’s all about feeling, but you couldn’t find a baby that could dance to that shit, like.” “So we were just reacting to that,” he continues. “We’re not going to have twelve chords in our songs; we’re going to have three chords in our songs, we’ll play them all down-stroke, and we’re

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just going to talk about shit.” The outfit - completed by Grian Chatten on vocals, Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley on guitar, and Tom Coll on drums are a band that you’ll feel swept away by. Drawing people into their world of stark realism, predominantly driven by the furiously hammered said downstrokes of guitar chords that stir something animalistic within it’s needed, in all honesty. They’re a band formed in the energy of reaction. “We looked around at Dublin. saw what was happening on the streets, opened our ears, and turned it into some music,” Deego says. “And then we read our favourite poets and got inspired by the romanticism of most of them and started trying to relay it in words; then the two things came together.” There’s something else you should know about Fontaines D.C.: they’re extremely hard working. In addition to cracking out support slots all over the shop, and jetting off to the States, they’re also already looking toward album number two - and the debut isn’t even out yet. “It is a weird feeling, but kind of an interesting one though, right?” Deego reasons. “We’re starting to define who we are on the second one, and the first one’s not even out! Crazy, isn’t it? But I suppose we already think that while our first album is great and we stand by it, I think bands are defined by the quality of their second album. And not that it comes in as a maturation process, it’s more the first album, is a posture? Is it a look? And if the second album is good too then, you’re like they’re really who they say they are.” This idea is something Fontaines D.C. have absolutely no issue in presenting. They’re precisely the kind of band you find that remind you of one of music’s real powers - its ability to document and give a voice to those who need it, and in times

of social discourse, a punk band doing what punk bands do, and, well - that’s very good indeed. “It’ll be a great compliment to be paid that we’re the voice for anything,” Deego offers on the idea of his band meaning something to someone. “But we’re just talking about the world that is around us, and people are relating to it because they live in that world. There are other bands here that are saying things about Dublin too, and the world too, which is great; that’s what we need, that’s what people want. That’s what I want from music, like.” On ‘Dogrel’, they had a simple plan in place. “We went into recording the album with the idea of it being as real as possible,” Deego explains. Capturing that with the well-crafted songs and a fury of guitars and drums, they recorded straight to tape, leaving little room for error - if any significant accidents happened then it was back to the beginning, whether it was the first song or the fifth. The rough edges that make it real are the moments that shine. With fans already falling in love with their loaded arsenal of despairing, yet victorious tunes, the world for Fontaines D.C. seems to be one of brighter colours. Thinking back to the whirlwind of the last few months, Deego is quick to highlight the Fontaines way of dealing. “It was almost overwhelming, but I think we managed to catch ourselves early on,” he admits. “And started practising mindfulness and just really cared for each other as friends and remembered that ultimately we are friends, and that made it always feel like it’s ‘ours’, whatever we do. That makes it easier to do whatever do. We’re very lucky for that.” P

Fontaines D.C.’s debut album ‘Dogrel’ is out now.

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ut of the darkest pain can sometimes come a glimmer of hope. So it is with ‘End Of Suffering’, Frank Carter’s third album as a Rattlesnake. This time round, nothing is concealed and everything is revealed, his heart not so much worn on his sleeve as it is presented on a platter for all the world to see. In a genre that has bathed in toxic masculinity too often in the past, this record steers completely in the opposite

direction and is infinitely more powerful for it. With clear resemblances throughout to another famously dark third album, this could well become ‘The Holy Bible’ for a whole new generation. When Frank sings “Head in the noose, this is where I lose it all” on the raw open wound of ‘Angel Wings’, there is a chilling glimpse of what to be at rock bottom truly means. Stripping away the usual rock star veneer, he reveals very human fragilities and anxieties.


Written as a soundtrack to Andy Black’s graphic novel of the same name, ‘The Ghost Of Ohio’ twists and turns like it’s emo’s answer to Meat Loaf. While the novel is a fictional characterisation of Andy’s alcohol abuse, anxiety, and passion for ghost stories, the album is a nostalgic reflection on the events of his personal life before he found fame. A concept that should be gothic and dark is instead painted in shades of bright, colourful synthpop (‘Ghost of Ohio’), alt-country (‘The Promise’) and folk-pop (‘Heroes We Were’) juxtaposed with sobering piano and string sections. It’s Andy Black at the peak of his creative powers. P

Jack Press


However if that symbolises the bleak darkness at the heart of the record, then it is surrounded by moments of purest optimism. Those two sentiments represent a neverending battle beginning from the opening ‘Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’ (“When I’m high, I’m in heaven/ When I’m in low, I’m in hell”) and echoes through it all. ‘Heartbreaker’ may find Carter being saved by love, but ‘Love Games’ finds him wallowing in self-misery. Given musical space by

the rest of the Rattlesnakes, Carter’s vocals stand out clear and true - a purity within them carrying an added weight and strength. But there is still plenty of room for mindless fun, ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ bringing in Tom Morello for the sonic equivalent of Godzilla stomping all over Tokyo. Overall though, it is the emotional pulse of a man fighting his way onwards and upwards to true enlightenment that will resound the loudest and for the longest time. P

Jamie MacMillan

Band Of Skulls have moved further down a new path for album number five. Opener ‘Carnivorous’ arrives wearing brand new threads, a newlydiscovered groove wrapped around a funky ‘Knights Of Cydonia’-style guitar rhythm. Alongside Russell Marsden’s chanted vocals, it soon collapses into a sea of riffs. Though the likes of ‘That’s My Trouble’ hint at the band that exploded onto the scene, much of ‘Love Is All You Love’ finds their rough edges well and truly sanded down. Moving to a more collaborative writing style has brought tantalising new moods; this is the album that the band needed to make right now. P Jamie MacMillan

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Rated_ Finn’s focus on small struggles and day-to-day problems. When paired with the interesting brass and vocal arrangements it makes for an affecting and uplifting album that’s wired into the breakneck pace of modern change. P Dillon Eastoe



It’s been a while since we last saw Cage The Elephant, and it’s been longer still since they’ve made waves anything like the ones from their early days. On ‘Social Cues’, there’s still an air of that snotty, rebellious attitude, but they’ve developed a new maturity, such as on surprising standout ‘Goodbye’, a tender moment that digs deep into their emotional depths. It’s on single ‘House Of Glass’ however that ‘Social Cues’ finds its snarl and offers up a reminder of what Cage The Elephant were once capable. P Steven Loftin

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Album title ‘I Need a New War’ could be interpreted as a weary sigh from a veteran songwriter, but Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn is far from defeated on this his fourth solo record. ‘I Need a New War’ is sprinkled with warbling fairground organ, 50s backing vocalists and a brass section that evokes a smoky New York jazz club. Anchoring it all is Finn’s distinctive vocal, somewhere between Lou Reed and Elvis Costello, and the 47-year old’s characteristic storytelling style. With the vitriol flying back and forth at an ever-increasing rate, there’s a humanising effect to

It’s been nearly ten years since rock supergroup The Damned Things released their debut album ‘Ironiclast’, and though a few changes have occurred - the lineup is currently Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, Scott Ian of Anthrax, and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio - the metalheads are as ballsy and brilliant as ever. Their debut was a solid heavy metal album, but on ‘High Crimes’ the scope is drawn further, reaching higher feats than being just the fun side-project of prolific rock stars. The craftsmanship here is what you’d expect from a line-up as acclaimed as this. The instrumentation soars (a highlight being the emotive solo on ‘Omen’), and apart from being partial to repetition, there are no gimmicks. You can’t complain with a line-up like this. P Jasleen Dhindsa


Having carved a niche writing punked-up heartland American rock for nearly two decades, Dave Hause can be relied upon to put out a solid record every few years. Having brought his younger brother Tim into the songwriting fold, ‘Kick’ is rooted in family, daily struggles and survival in a world of warp-speed change and crippling uncertainty.

Like his heroes Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Hause writes songs about ordinary people dealing with the fact that the United States government isn’t very sound. Rather than try to polarise or preach, Hause roots his songs in blue-collar sentiment and aims for big choruses rather than tirades. An album of hope and resistance, his songwriting has the well-worn familiarity of a comfortable pair of shoes, but there’s enough energy and anger on show to ensure ‘Kick’ is a worthwhile addition to Hause’s canon. P Dillon Eastoe


Field Medic (aka Kevin Patrick) is a man who wears his heart on sleeve, and you can feel that deeply and profoundly on the ten cracked and bruised acoustic folk songs that make up ‘fade into the dawn’. Patrick’s first full-length for Run For Cover Records, the album sees him pour all his emotion and careworn life experiences, riven with doubt, anxiety yet, ultimately, a triumphant hope into this affecting collection of songs. Ballads like ‘the bottle’s my lover; she’s just my friend’ are tender and touching while similarly soft tracks like the gentle ‘henna tattoo’ are sweet pop moments. Field Medic has confirmed his status as an emerging songwriter of heart and passion. P Martyn Young


It’s rare that a debut album from a band as heavily hyped as Fontaines D.C. still contains the power to excite and surprise, but ‘Dogrel’ is that record. Arriving across the Irish Sea on a wave of anticipation and expectation, the Dublin quintet have delivered something that doesn’t just

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resist pigeonholes and easy labels - it kicks them down the street and into the River Liffey. The poetry of Grian Chatten’s lyrics are striking instantly, their home described as a “pregnant city with a Catholic mind” on the opener ‘Big’. Casting his eye over Dublin with a keen, but non-judgemental, eye, he finds the detail and beauty in the mundane. Album highlight ‘The Lotts’ is an evocative description of life in the underbelly of a city that the weekenders don’t see, those parts of town familiar to all big city-dwellers that give a truth to the more famous picture postcard scenes. While everyone else is chasing the sound of the last big thing, Fontaines D.C. stand apart as a band who couldn’t care less. Believe the hype. P Jamie



Liverpool quartet Spinn make the kind of shimmering indie pop that will always feel timeless. Full of melody, enthusiasm and the infectious charm of youth, their debut sets its sights on the indie disco. The songs chime and jangle

pleasingly, like on the fleet-footed opening pair of ‘Believe It Or Not’ and ‘Is There Something That I Missed?’, while ‘Notice Me’ adds a gently funkier vibe. ‘Foundations’ is a soaring hit that shoots for the moon but despite all the sunny splendour the little cracks of insecurity that come with being young can’t help but seep through like on the affecting acoustic closing track ‘Heaven Sent’. There are few rough edges and little darkness here; Spinn don’t want your soul they just want to put a smile on your face. P Martyn



THIS MESS IS A PLACE eeee Sounding as bright and melodic as ever, the purity of Tacocat’s sound is the perfect proponent to their putting the world to rights ethos. The bright colours that adorn everything they touch come screaming through their sound - every track on ‘This Mess Is a Place’ is an immediate ear-worm, digging deep into your head. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a teeth-baring edge; the band’s punk bloodline runs through everything they sing and stand for. P Steven



this I was mesmerised by the way Travis played the drums. It ended up being my favourite album through high school. Just a really nostalgic, feel good, summer song.

NIRVANA Smells Like Teen Spirit Tom: Everyone in the

world probably picks this as one of their favourite tracks. My dad bought me this for Christmas one year, and it was the first album I owned. Again, I was mesmerised by the drums, and the way the whole band sounded when they play together. In my opinion, Nirvana were the best rock band around. It’s never got any better than that.

VANILLA POD L10 Lee: I must’ve been 14 when I first

started going to gigs in my local area. I remember buying their album ‘Surrounded By Idiots’ at the Blue & Gold in Kings Lynn! This song reminds me of all the good times my friends and I had going to shows and dancing in the pit. Vanilla Pod were one of the bands that introduced me to live music and made me want to play hot and sweaty shows!

LESS THAN JAKE All My Best Friends Are Metalheads Lee: One of my school friends 66 Upset

showed me this song and all I can remember was thinking I need to learn how to play this song on bass! This song made me want to start a band, just so I could play that bass line.

NINE INCH NAILS The Hand That Feeds Matthew: This song changed my

life in that it opened my eyes to my favourite band and made me excited to hear heavy music over dance beats and from then on Nine Inch Nails were the band that soundtracked me throughout my late teens.

JEFF BUCKLEY Lover, You Should’ve Come Over Matthew: Jeff Buckley was the

first artist that made me cry just from the sound of their voice, but the chord progressions in this song, in particular, are gorgeous and changed the way I thought about writing guitar parts. It’s a

beautiful song that has meant a lot to me since I first heard it aged 14.

YELLOWCARD Ocean Avenue James: I bought this record when I was on holiday in America! I remember putting it in the CD player for the first time and falling in love! I think I listened to it solidly for a good year. It just reminds me of being on Tampa beach in Florida!

LIMP BIZKIT My Generation James: This was the first album

I actually bought myself! My parents weren’t too happy about it because there is a decent amount of bad language on it. I just love how this sounds. Probably the first time I found myself listening to heavy music.

Deaf Havana headline 2000trees on 13th July.


Profile for Upset

Upset, May 2019  

Featuring PUP, Brutus, Andy Black, The Damned Things and loads more.

Upset, May 2019  

Featuring PUP, Brutus, Andy Black, The Damned Things and loads more.

Profile for upsetmag