THE SUNSHINE UNDERGROUND Leeds Roots Scene Henry Rollins HOPE & sOCIAL Brew Records
Leeds and West Yorkshire
Free March 2010
passport Control Headlies James Kenosha musicians union
Rob Paul Chapman email@example.com
Tim Metcalfe firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Martin email@example.com
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Simon Hollingworth www.vibrations.org.uk Charlotte Watkins www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine The Contributors Tom Martin, Nelson, Neil Dawson, Rob Paul Chapman, Sam Saunders, Kate Wellham, Rob Wright, Bart Pettman, Tom Bailey, Spencer Bayles, Justin Myers, Mike Price, Helen Skeet, Greg Elliott, Emma Stone, Simon Lewis
The Contents 5 10 13 14 18 19 20 24 28 30 30 30 34 36 38
Magazine Editorial The Sunshine Underground Musicians Union Leeds Roots Scene Passport Control Headlies - Henry Rollins Brew Records Hope & Social Album Reviews Single Reviews Preview Reviews Live Reviews The Leeds Festival Archive OFTR - James Kenosha Second Hearing - Your Demos!
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The Sunshine Underground
Cover shot The Sunshine Underground by Tom Martin vibrations 3
As the more observant and/or bothered may have noticed, it has been three rather than our normal two months since the last issue of Vibrations. I should stress that this was planned, but the trouble with surplus time, is that rather than use it to good effect by ploughing all of your creative energies into making the best edition ever, what you actually do is kick-back knowing that you have waaaaaaaaaay more time than usual so everything will be just fine. Inevitably in this scheduled diary gap, the mind turns to those existential philosophical questions that otherwise you wouldn’t have time to ask. Why are we here? What is our place in the world? Why is Piers Morgan still allowed on TV? I remain baffled by the last one, but something in the last two weeks bought the first two into some kind of focus:
from my first forays into the musical sphere, I felt part of the film, despite having not been part of it at all. Let’s call it community. It feels like it belongs to you personally, and yet at the same time accessible to anyone who wants to be a part of it.
I have lived in and around Leeds – a city I feel a fantastic passion for – most of my adult life, and bar one wedding, I’ve not been back to Southend for nearly 15 years. In fact, I wasn’t even born in 1976 when Dr. Feelgood were at their peak.
Ask the council, and they will probably point towards large scale city centre redevelopment. And that plays its part to an extent. However ask your average Joe what they associate with Leeds and they are unlikely to mention that we have a Harvey Nichols. But they may well mention The Kaiser Chiefs, or Corinne Bailey-Rae, or Opera North, or The Playhouse, or the Goth movement, or Wild Beasts, or even our very own
cover stars this month The Sunshine Underground. And perhaps some might mention shopping and a football team that nobody likes. But you can’t win them all. My point is that resurgence is often born from a sense of community first and foremost. And that community is normally brought together by those creative thinkers and inspirational people who are determined to build something of substance, not just shiny glass-fronted shops and apartments. As the unfortunate failure of the dock-side apartment developments is proving, you need to build your house on more than superficial sand. Create a sense of community, and then make it look pretty.
Politicians and social commentators like to talk about “Community Pride”, and it’s very easy to be sniffy about I was lucky enough to get a ticket to one it. I was watching the news yesterday of the simultaneous live screenings of and there was a woman standing Julian Temple’s film Oil City Confidential. outside a crumbling community centre I say lucky, but actually very little luck in Dewsbury. She explained that was involved. I bought my ticket, so less she was determined to do something luck, more commerce. extraordinary to change people’s perceptions about the town after seeing For those who have not seen it or it put through the news mangle of social even heard of it, Oil City Confidential snobbery in the press. Which must have is a documentary about the band Dr. been a remarkably dispiriting experience In general, we have an amazing sense Feelgood, from Canvey Island in Essex. to go through if you lived there. of community here in West Yorkshire. This is not the place to go into the detail Some amazing, passionate, driven about why this particular band’s place I have no idea how she was planning people who put the interests of their in the cultural cannon of consequence on addressing this, but I wish her all community before all else. Some of has, until this point, been criminally the luck in the world. When I lived whom we are privileged enough to have overlooked (you should really go and there I thought Canvey was a cesspit, writing for this very magazine. see the film for the compelling case and I would probably still think that if I for their significance, and in general, went back. But until then I shall always And long may they continue, because you should really just go and see the associate it with the rose-tinted romantic we are currently reaping rich rewards from their efforts. Last night The film). However, this film had a particular imagery of Julian Temple’s Thames personal resonance. Delta of bohemian blues musicians and Sunshine Underground played a homecoming show in Leeds, and I a kind of industrial beauty born out of I was not born in Leeds, I was in fact imagine it was spectacular. I would love decrepit and crumbling austerity. born in Southend-on-Sea, walking to have been there. But I was having distance from the mud flats of Canvey. It was not so long ago that Leeds had a an equally brilliant time watching Eureka In fact my Mum worked in Canvey similar reputation. A deprived, formerly Machines and DeLorean Drivers at The and as the sun set the fires from the thriving northern town, now falling into Brudenell, or I could have been catching monstrous sprawling refineries used a cultural wilderness; rife with crime, Jon Gomm in Bradford, or Rosie to light up the skyline to create our poverty and football team that nobody Doonan at Wakefield’s Escobar, or The own toxic spewing Vegas skyline. In liked. Now we have an exciting and Finnlys at The Elbow Rooms. Or any a perverse way, it was actually rather dynamic city with a global reputation for of a total or 21 gigs listed on the Leeds beautiful in a sort of Lowry way. innovation and creativity. Gig Guide.
And yet, it felt like a collective experience. Watching the film, and seeing all the places I remembered
How many other cities can lay claim to such cultural diversity and quality? Morrisey sang that ‘we hate it when our friends become successful’. Maybe in Manchester Moz, but round here nothing makes us more proud. ATB. RPC
Students just like other people shock We often read in the media, that the large student population is the secret to West Yorkshire’s buoyant music scene. This is rarely quantified, and therefore calls for some analytical and anecdotal observational reporting. Sam Saunders is the man with the clipboard. The University towns of Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield have a population of about 1.6 million, with over 108,000 students stopping over during term time. That’s 1 in 15 of the population. I have heard that students don’t have much contact with local music. That’s a big loss. In Leeds, about 76,000; in Bradford it’s 12,000; and in Huddersfield an amazing 20,000. Would the students have anything to say about this? I went to the bottom of our stairs (The Parkinson Steps) and I asked some of them. The first thing that struck me was how unstrange they were. Even when approached by a mad person with a clipboard they were polite, interested, full of ideas and keen to learn. Among them were male and female, students from Leeds Met, Leeds College of Music and from The University of Leeds. Languages, History, Science, Art, Music Technology, Sociology, Portuguese, Engineering and Philosophy were among their subjects, between first to fourth years. There were none at all who hadn’t been to at least one gig. That struck me as significant. But overall I would have to say that many were only dimly aware of the sheer range and number of live venues. Some quick stories: A girl at Leeds University in her second year of Philosophy goes to lots of music events, recently including Crazy Arm supporting Frank Turner, Nanas Revenge at Subculture, Pearl Jam at the MEN Arena and a full set of gigs at the O2 Academy, Joseph’s Well, The Fenton and The Faversham. She also confessed to seeing a lot of bands she didn’t like.
A Leeds male Sociology student in his 2nd year had done the Old Bar, Elbow Rooms, and the O2 Academy in pursuit of funk and soul, mostly with his mates from Leeds College of Music. He doesn’t find out much about what local gigs are on, but does see things on last.fm. He’s in touch with the Student Union Band Society and does think there are lots of separate cliques to be observed. He had found Leeds to be different to his native Manchester, where it seemed easier to get out of the student bubble. Two music students, one at Leeds College of Music and one at Leeds Met were carrying equipment away from a session they had just done for Leeds Student radio. They were always busy, but knew more about events they were involved in or had friends in - at LCM and The Wardrobe especially. They were interested to learn more and (up until then) hadn’t come across Vibrations or Leeds Music Scene website.
A first year Sport and Exercise Science student at Leeds told me his story. At home in the Liverpool area he was in the habit of going to a local band night near his home on a weekly basis. But at the end of his first term in Leeds he still hadn’t been to any gigs in Leeds. He had seen something about Mr Ben’s and has had his eye on the O2 Academy for a promising gig. He had wanted to go to Biffy Clyro but it had sold out by the time he got onto it. He didn’t know about Pulled Apart By Horses (who were supporting Biffy at that gig). Looking back, the things I drew from all the conversations were these: 1. Students do go to local live music 2. They know what they like 3. They can’t always find it 4. They like to be with friends, and they avoid stepping into what look like cliques
Two girls at Leeds, 2nd year History of Art and 3rd year English Literature seemed to have little knowledge of anything beyond the occasional club night. But starting with DJ Exodus who they did remember, we go to Jonny Flynn at the Brudenell, Milk White White Teeth at Nation of Shopkeepers and a friend doing a gig at the Faversham. They thought Seetickets stuff was too expensive. Facebook was a key source of information.
5. They are more likely to go to venues with a bit of commercial detachment or brand identity (a bit safer?)
A fourth year student of International Development and Portuguese at Leeds had just got back from a year in Brazil where he often went to live music events – mainly Reggae and African. In Leeds he goes to see live DJs, at venues like the Hi Fi Club and The Faversham. He doesn’t go to much band music, but is planning to see Alice Russell at ULU. He knew about New Bohemia and The Cockpit but didn’t know about LMS.
The first trick for Leeds promoters then, is to help students come through their doors without them feeling like they’re taking a leap in the dark. The second thing to spot is the fact that (see above) students are amazingly diverse in their tastes. So whatever your gig - it will appeal to some - maybe a lot - of students. If you can get two or three in, their more timid friends will follow.
6. They trust their friends for tip offs and they use Facebook and the web more generally 7. Given the right circumstances they are ready for just about anything. 8. Cheap is good.
Rainbow warrior How can a cynical hack with photophobophobia (look it up) be seduced by the camera? From running a mile, to running the tape, Vibrations’ Kate Wellham on how she turned continuous filmmaker for Wild West Yorkshire and became a rebel without a pause button. I’ve never got on with cameras, the lensy bastards with the little red on-light of death. When I was a kid, the video camera coming out was the time to leave the room, as my little brother turned into a Tasmanian Devil on cue and anyone close enough was likely to have a punch landed on them in the excitement. The camcorder was synonymous with very loud insincerity and, quite often, minor injuries. Added to that the fact that anything with more than one button looks like the dashboard of a spaceship to me, and I was always perfectly happy being a writer and having nothing more taxing than a biro to deal with. Web 2.0 was only half open to me – I wrote YouTube as two words, and spelled Flickr correctly. I was a mess. That changed a couple of years ago, when the sponsorship for a trip to a festival in Foreign relied on a video of the trip being produced in return. It was surprisingly painless, and even fun, to film a few days of adventure with friends, but the results were – how shall I put this so as not to offend? – utter
dogshit. We shot hours upon hours of rubbish, and having since acquired a bit of knowledge of the editing process, I’m now amazed that Roach didn’t send us packing when we handed them something like six hours of wobbly footage from train windows. But seeing a story emerging from the mess of tapes planted the seed of possibility. Maybe this was sort of like writing after all, maybe it didn’t need to be painful. And by the time good old Bradford was named the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, the people who pay my wages at Bradford Uni decided that it would be a good idea to start a video zine to capture whatever people really do in West Yorkshire on a weekend, rather than the tourist information they were previously pointing to. So they sent me on my way to put it together. I caught the bug for capturing things on camera that I’d normally only have written about, taking cameras to festivals, gigs, fairs and sometimes the pub. They always came back again, almost completely beer-free.
And what I found was that, providing the camera was unobtrusive enough, it didn’t necessarily induce cringeworthy artifice into subjects, or – at the other end of the scale – scare them off entirely. It wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying to write about Japanese Fighting Fish pulling each other’s pants down in public at Moorfest, or Middleman overdoing the laughing gas and falling into a pile of rubbish at Kendall Calling, or Adam Hills racing giant pink poodles from the front of the crowd to the back at Latitude, as it is to see those things happening on screen, again and again and again (yes, I watch the JFF clip quite a lot). Since starting to pay attention and actually seek out videos that other people are making, it’s like uncovering a parallel universe, living vicariously through people who’ve put cameras on the front of their bikes as they bomb through the dales, who have gone to festivals I thought sounded a bit shit and I can now see were brilliant, and who have been to places round the corner from my house that I didn’t even know existed. It’s made me into an armchair tourist around a place I thought I knew so well, but I now realise I haven’t even seen half of, and still the videos keep coming. I’ve added music videos by a load of Leeds bands too, a lot of which I’d never seen, even though I’ve got the songs. It makes me unfeasibly excited when that happens. I’d offer to get out more, but I don’t need to now that I know there are people getting out for me. If you’ve got anything you’d like to put on the site yourself, want to borrow a camera and film something, or you just want to have a nosy at it, it’s at www.wildwestyorkshire.com. JFF...always up to no good vibrations 8
the sunshine underground Photography by Tom Martin
From Burger King Skips to adorning the front page of Myspace Music, via Glastonbury, Europe, America and some unconventional close-surveillance in Japan. Now The Sunshine Underground return home to Yorkshire with a new album, a series of sell-out comeback shows and an Academy tour. â€œThe first record we entrusted to other people to read our minds, which is obviously impossible. This time we knew from start to finish what we wanted it to sound likeâ€? they tell Kate Wellham vibrations 10
backstage at recent NME Koko gig by Tom Martin “Do you know the Sunshine Underground?”, I ask the barman, cursing my short-sightedness. “Yeah”, he says resentfully, as though I've asked him whether he grew all of his beard himself. “Oh good, do you know where they are? I'm meant to be meeting them in here”. Now, like me, he's stumped, despite having served them already. Like anyone who's been to any indie night in the past four years, I can sing 'Put You In Your Place' in my sleep, but as they're resolutely unshowy, I couldn't spot the perpetrators in a crowd. I used to like that about them, but right now it's quite inconvenient. Eventually, they have to come and find me instead. Craig, with his Radio 4 voice, good posture and very nice manners, and Stuart - who is so laid back it's a good job there's a wall behind him – don't look like the jet-setting, dancefloorigniting envy of Leeds music at all. They don't look like people who are stalked around Japan by rabid girls, who haven't needed day jobs for quite some time, and who have just returned from a two-year hiatus to find that they're still beloved enough to sell out all their comeback gigs, and probably an Academy tour besides. They look, in all honesty, like they're just grateful to be in the pub.
Perhaps it's because they've started reliving the shittiest jobs they've ever had, and are finding it hard to be anything other than grateful for the present. It's not exactly image-enhancing stuff: “When I was about 16 one of my first jobs was in Burger King,” says frontman Craig. “The first thing I got asked to do was take the rubbish out and put it in a big skip, then when the bins got too full, they tried to make me jump in the bin and try and squash it down. I walked out on my first day.” “Why?”, asks Stuart, not entirely seriously. “I think I was just in a bin round the back of Burger King, and I went 'what the fuck am I doing?'” Not that Stuart, TSU's guitarist, was exactly James Bond in a former life either: “One of the first jobs I ever had was with Daley the bass player, we worked in a frozen food factory, but it was more what you had to put on full overalls, wellies, hairnets - I had sideburns so it was a beard net - about five pairs of rubber gloves; we used to come out stinking of chicken tikka. It was just rancid.” Then there were the cleaning jobs in a couple of Leeds nightspots that shall remain unnamed and best forgotten. Although these days they're fortunate enough to have left all that behind,
they're still counting their blessings. “It makes a big difference,” says Stuart appreciatively. “As soon as you get up you can just think about your songs rather than having to get eight hours of something else out of the way first before you can come home and clear your head and then think about your tunes.”
“I don’t think we’ve lost any of that determination, it’s just nice that you don’t have to squash bins behind Burger King.” “It's all character-building stuff though,” says Craig. “I don't think we've lost any of that determination, it's just nice that you don't have to squash bins behind Burger King.” We're so spoilt in this city that it's easy to forget that this band aren't simply big in Leeds. In fact, at the same time as they're sat across the table from us in Nation Of Shopkeepers, sipping pints and looking like every other quietly stylish 20-something in Leeds doing a bit of Sunday drinking, they're simultaneously shooting their best Blue Steels at hundreds of thousands of vibrations 11
people from a huge banner on the front page of MySpace Music, encouraging us all to listen to their new album ‘Nobody’s Coming To Save You’.
“If [drummer Matt had] gone to uni in Manchester or Glasgow we could quite easily not have come to Leeds, but Leeds has been good to us, I’ve never looked back.” Characteristically beat-heavy and widescreen, TSU's tunes hit exactly the same spot in 2006 that made us all fall for The Music, and their foundations are solid – a unit, concerned with tunes and performance. The joyfully confrontational first single 'Put You In Your Place' was a shot in the arm, and follow up 'Commercial Breakdown' only proved that the supply was plentiful. They’ve played The Other Stage at Glastonbury, toured the world on the back of ‘Raise The Alarm’ – Japan, Europe, America – and their sound has translated instantly wherever they are. To dislike The Sunshine Underground requires so much self discipline that it's difficult when sober and physically, medically, impossible when drunk, which is why they still rule the dancefloor and the festival, no matter how long they've been away. Tales of their treatment in Japan are interesting, if a little scary. From fans waving boxes of Yorkshire Tea in the crowd, to hanging around in hotel lobbies to hand over presents of miniature plastic food. And more… Stuart: “Me and Matt were out getting a bite to eat and we spotted that we were being followed, then we were paying for what we were buying, and this girl runs up behind us and gives us an envelope and disappears back into the crowd. We open it up and it's pictures of me and Matt from the last trip, and I've no doubt she was taking pictures of us that time before she gave us the envelope, so she's constantly giving us surveillance photos from the previous trip – me buying a jumper a year ago.” Craig: “What does that mean? Where does that end?” Undeterred, they’ll be back there at the end of February to collect their latest snaps.
Like so many other Leeds artists, they’re migrants from elsewhere in the UK (rock n roll Shropshire, to be precise), but unusually for such a band, they actually moved to Leeds together, following drummer Matt’s decision to up sticks and attend Leeds College of Music. Craig explains: “It was pretty much a month after we started getting together and writing songs, and he'd already planned to come to Leeds anyway, so he was up here for a year without us, but we just had a good thing going.” “We tried other drummers,” says Stuart, “but it wasn't the same.” Realising they’d found a winning team, they all uprooted to Leeds, and threw themselves into the scene at the time to begin what turned out to be a career of making music.
It could so easily have been some other city that both influenced and absorbed them, though, Craig points out: “If he'd gone to uni in Manchester or Glasgow we could quite easily not have come to Leeds, but Leeds has been good to us, I've never looked back.” Even the college course wasn’t a hindrance: “It was basically the most nonsense course you’ve ever heard but it really worked for us. We had access to recording equipment, and as much time as possible.” A blag, of course, but one which LCM would be daft not to show off about now. Their first gig as a band was at Carpe Diem, and their comrades at the time their first album, ‘Raise The Alarm’, came out in 2006 were bands like Forward Russia, This Et Al and Duels. Notably, only the latter are still together now. It was arguably a huge gamble to take such a long break after that album, but it looks like they got away with it. What was the hold-up though?
Craig: “It seems like a long time when you look back. The first time we came out was 2006, but we were touring 'Raise The Alarm' until 2007, then we gave ourselves until 2008 to write. We tried to make an album quite quickly, but halfway through 2008 the album wasn't ready, and we thought 'well we could just go and make a record now or we could properly think about it, not just do the first ten songs we've written'. In the end, it was ten out of 50 or 60. “It turned into a project that we didn't mind how long it took, it just had to be really good. A lot of bands can't do that, they get told 'you've got to have an album out now', but there's never been anyone telling us to do that. I think all the best stuff, the stuff that makes this album different to the last one happened in the last six months of writing.”
The test run of comeback gigs last year were their first in 14 months, and all sold out, with fans receptive to the 80% new set. It’s a break they’re insistent has paid off, and The Sunshine Underground of album two are, they say, more themselves than they’ve ever been. From co-producing the album, to thinking about videos, they are – says Craig – determined to take more control over everything this time around. “This time we knew from start to finish what we wanted it to sound like, and the first record we just entrusted in other people to read our minds almost, which is obviously impossible.” Featuring demo parts recorded, in some cases two years before the rest of the album, ‘Nobody’s Coming To Save You’ is a labour of love that has literally taken all this time to create, unlike the difficult and rushed stereotypical second album. And just in case you were wondering how long we might have to wait for album three, don’t worry, they’ve already started writing it. Kate Wellham vibrations 12
Union City View Regular readers of this magazine will know that Vibrations’ attitude towards X-Factor-style Showcase gigs is decidedly sceptical. But for a different perspective, Sam Saunders caught up with The Musicians’ Union’s Kelly Wood to get their take on this and a whole host of other issues Great gigs that give performers the facilities, the drama and the potential follow-ups that feed their dreams are rare. It’s not surprising that many new bands are tempted to sign up for showcase events with dubious business practices and impossibly enticing prizes. The Musicians’ Union North Regional Officer, Kelly Wood says “Our general advice is very simple. If you’re in any doubt as to the authenticity or ethos of the event, don’t do it. Often, things that look too-good-to-be-true, are”. One of the tell-tale signs is a progress through levels, at each of which the “successful” bands are asked to sell tickets at a higher price. I had arranged to meet Manchesterbased Kelly on one of her regular trips to Leeds. Tucked into a quiet corner of Carpe Diem we talked through some of the details. In the process we covered the ways in which the Musicians’ Union can help the sort of young artist who might be attracted to showcase events, and who might be on the verge of becoming a paid public performer. I had arrived with a bee in my bonnet about Jay Mitchell’s Surface Unsigned event, which started in Leeds in February. Kelly brought more productive things - personal experience of playing in a small band, and a good dollop of Union-informed wisdom. I was reminded that grand campaigning is all very well, in terms of raising awareness and encouraging people to think, but real benefits come from well-informed case work and from detailed individual help. I asked her about the point at which an average band member with a day job or a college course, and a gig now and then, should consider joining the Musicians’ Union. As a band member herself, she could see that some musicians might not yet understand how the MU is relevant to them. A proportion of the MU’s northern membership are full-time orchestral players but a larger proportion are singer-songwriters, bands and students who are paving their way towards a career in music.
Many musicians join the MU to take advantage of the insurance benefits (membership includes £2k instrument insurance and £10m public liability insurance), and, then, discover the advice and help that they can get with those niggling disputes over payments and gig bookings. Kelly explained that a lot of the work done at the regional office is administering small claims for unpaid fees (gigs, sessions, teaching etc), at no extra cost to the affected members. Crucial stuff. The general advice here is firm: “get something in writing that confirms the details of the booking and, if the promoter/agent/venue manager then messes you around, we can help.” Kelly finds that bands are often shy of asking for written confirmation, but urges everyone to formalise their engagements from an early stage: “Once an act becomes successful, it’s impossible to work without contracts/agreements without leaving yourself in a very vulnerable situation. It’s therefore beneficial to work professionally from day one, and start understanding how and why contracts work.” The MU offers its members template agreements to use when booking gigs or when teaching in schools or privately from home. Sadly, a bad contract can be as harmful as no contract, so MU members are invited to have their contracts vetted by solicitors - free of charge - for legal advice on suitability and terms. On a campaigning front, membership can also keep you up to date with what is currently happening with things like music licenses and the Form 696 issue. Last year the Metropolitan Police started asking venues and promoters for personal information about the performers expected to play at their events - ostensibly as a security measure. Many MU members objected to the inferred link between live music performance and criminal activity, and to the extra bureaucracy caused by this Form 696. So the MU worked with the Met throughout 2009 and as a result, the form now clearly states that it is not intended for use for live music events and musicians’ rights are protected.
Where promoters are doing the justabout-legal (but questionable) things associated with pay-to-play, showcase events and battle of the bands nights, the MU can be in difficult territory. Most of those who approach the Union with questions or complaints about such things are non-members. Almost by definition the people most affected are those who don’t yet feel they have had a chance to play what they would see as good gigs - the people who haven’t yet seen the value of organised mutual support in a difficult environment. Nevertheless, the Union can still offer general advice. The MU advocate approaching the venues where these things take place. The public don’t usually realise that promoters might simply be hiring a room. Kelly explains that the venue owner/manager might be more likely to listen to a well-argued case than the freelance promoter. The reasoning is simple. If a perceived rip-off takes place in venue X, then venue X tends to attract the negative feelings. Jon Gomm’s approach to The Hard Rock Café when the US-based Emeregenza planned to run their scheme in Leeds made the point very clearly. The local manager saw the potential in the situation, didn’t want to be associated with it, and cancelled the event. In the long run, no one thrives from shoddy business practices. As we wound up our meeting it struck me how much in common there was between this young Union Officer/ Manchester band member and the hundreds of similarly placed musicians in Leeds. One at a time, the small problems of not getting paid, contracts that go wrong, getting into low-level disputes or making bad moves are miserable and hard to resolve. Being able to ask a full time officer for help, or getting sent the guidance on taking your instruments on a plane is more than just “worth the money”. It’s a fuller expression of being a member of a wider community in what can be a lonely world. www.themu.org.uk
The Bands The Players The Venues Adam Richards | Spirit of John | Ben Pike | Rebel Yell | The SSSSS | Fox & Newt | Bellville | Boot Scraper | Mojo 57 | Serious Sam Barrett | David Broad | Mingus Mule Men | X-Ray Cat Trio | These Men | Emma McPartlan-Tate | Black Carousel | Jordan Senior | The Gary Stewart Band | Hayley Gaftarnick | The Hempen Jig | George Riley | Dan Beasley | Devil’s Jukebox | Hoogie Boogie | Mojo | Kieren O’Malley Sam Thornton | Troy Faid | Rob Lee | Morgan Tatchell-Evans | Chris Scott | Gaslight Club | Josh Sheard Acoustic Revolution | The Jimmy Knox | Pat Bannon
Three bands for the Rockabilly kings under the sky, Seven for the Folk-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men born to jive, One for the sideshow freak who likes to disrobe In the City of Leeds where the Shadows lie. One man, one double bass, to unite them all. Adam Richards - Leeds’ busiest musician - talks to Rob Paul Chapman
Jack Ashford. That name mean anything to you? Not exactly a household name perhaps. However, despite his relative obscurity, Ashford was a prominent, if not the most prominent musician in hundreds of records throughout the 60s and 70s, and arguably did more to define the sound of black America at that time than almost any musician of the generation. And despite the fact that his chosen instrument cost less than a round of drinks, every 2 minutes, somewhere in the world Jack Ashford is played on the radio. Jack Ashford was the tambourine player for Motown Records. The claim may sound lofty, but listen to virtually any Motown record (and Ashford played on practically all of them), and right at the top of the mix you’ll hear Ashford’s tambourine loudly going about its business of establishing the Motown blueprint. I mention him, because the Leeds Roots Scene (although musically poles apart) has its own Jack Ashford, although this one’s chosen instrument is rather more cumbersome, not to mention a lot more tricky to get to grips with.
I refer to double bassist Adam Richards. The self-confessed “bedroom jazz player” whose very presence in the lineup almost defines a band’s inclusion into the Roots Scene de facto (although Richards himself is far too modest to even consider the concept). Currently playing full-time in 13 different bands all loosely affiliated to the Roots scene, plus you can add to that 7 other bands he’s either jammed with or gigged alongside and you pretty much have the Roots scene covered. “It’s got to have a rustic do-it-yourself feel, something impromptu, just chuck it together and put everything into it” he explains, attempting to draw together some of the elements that would define a band as being part of the Roots scene. “And obviously it needs a double bass!” “The double bass doesn’t have the same saturated feel of an electric bass, if you want to get some volume out of it you’ve got to properly dig in. It’s all about acoustic instruments. That’s one of the things that differentiates it from the rock or the indie scene, it’s a lot more stripped down. You can hear everything a lot clearer.” It’s entirely possible that you did not really realise that Leeds had a Roots scene. In fact, if you’re anything like Vibrations, you may not be entirely
sure what a Roots scene actually is. Rockabilly? Hillbilly? Folk? Blues? Bluegrass? All of the above, but also quite possibly none of the above as it turns out. Not only does Leeds have an underground scene encompassing all these genres which on face value would seem to be more likely found in Kentucky than Kirkstall, but it’s pretty damn good too. “It’s entertaining drinking music” he continues. “Obviously drinking is not for everyone, but that’s what people do, and that’s what the music is there for. It’s all about live music. Some of these bands won’t even bother recording because they are all about being live.” With Vibrations pleading ignorance, Richards talks us through a band-byband, venue-by-venue and player-byplayer guide past the brill cream and polka dot dresses as to what lies behind this burgeoning movement. “It’s all dead accessible, in the way that you don’t have to be familiar with it” he assures. “You don’t have to be into the type of music like it’s biggest fans and followers. You can watch a band and think ‘this is a proper knees-up, a proper party”. Let’s get this party started…
The Bands The Players The Venues Adam Richards’ guide to the scene Devil’s Jukebox
“They are proper old school, like 20s, 30s and that. Voodoo, sleazy, sideshow smut! Last time I saw him [singer Dr Ezekiel Bordello] he was revealing nipple tassels!”
“An old friend who started Spirit of John. All-singing, all guitar picking, rowdy Americana folk. A bit of foot stomping, a bit of tambourine on the ankle, fantastic!”
Serious Sam Barrett
“One of the purists. Part of the scene with The Devil’s Jukebox and David Broad. All really good and similar to what we’re doing, but we don’t tend to cross paths as much.”
“He’s just started playing the tea chest bass with Devil’s Jukebox as well as his own thing. It sounds better than my double bass, I’m so jealous!”
“These are one of my favourites. This little gypsy jazz quartet. Django Reinhardt Parisian folk swing with an accordion player. Absolutely fantastic again. A real interesting one.”
“That’s a great place, they have great sessions on there.”
“He started off doing a solo blues act next to the bar at Milo’s. And we’ve all slowly crept in! Dan said it was designed for people who were sick of hearing indie landfill!”
“It’s bluesy-country-rockabilly with three brothers that have this brotherly instinct with these three harmonies that sound like the same person. The scene can sometimes be a bit loose and incestuous, but Rebel Yell have got a real tight little unit and are so busy doing really good gigs that they haven’t got time to slag it about joining other bands and that! I’m sure if they had time they would, ‘coz they’re proper good lads and that, but they’re just so busy!”
The first band I got involved with properly. An old friend Josh rang me up and said he’d started writing material, like Hillbilly stuff. I thought it was fantastic, so we started putting it together. Then we started meeting people similar to ourselves and realised what a really good thing there was.”
“She’s a solo singer songwriter, but in a sort of R&B style. She’s got a real passion for singing. Her own stuff is really flavoured by an old school Motown soul sound.”
Fox & Newt
Spirit of John
“He’s a solo lapslide guitar player. He’s got this proper delta blues deep south country blues style. Absolutely fantastic. I wouldn’t say I was in a band with him or owt, but I’ve done the odd festival with him. He’s got his own trio with George Riley on Bass. Plays with Jordon Senior too.”
Jordan Senior George Riley
“A fantastic friend, some really good country-feel singersongwriter with some fantastic tunes, with a bit folk. He also plays harmonica with Ben Pike and also with Gary Stewart.”
The Gary Stewart Band
“Used to be in 10,000 Things with Sam Riley the actor. He has got his own studio Cannonball, a label and his own radio show.”
“Drummer with Jordon who is also with the SSSSS. A little fella with white hair who’ll play for anyone who asks him, he’s always up for it! He’d play with four bands a night if you asked him to. Most of the time he only uses a snare and sometimes a cymbal. But there’s a hell of a lot you can do with that.”
“It’s a night run by Gary Stewart at Oporto every Monday.”
“Gary’s a fantastic folky signersongwriter. Melancholy, but melodious and energetic as well.”
“Sam Thornton’s blues duo that’s now a trio. Acoustic rhythm & blues with Sam playing sax.”
“He’s a sax and clarinet player that has his own rhythm and blues outfit and also clarinet in the SSSSS”.
“A fiddle player who plays with almost everyone. SSSSS, SofJ, The Finlays – an indie band that are doing OK at the moment – and The Lightstreams. Another hand-working guy!”
“It’s Dan Beasley’s night at Milo’s. It’s an absolutely fantastic Roots night with all of the best stuff from around here. It can be proper carnage. We’ve been wandering around the crowd with someone like Dan stood on the bar playing banjo and singing Leadbelly songs!”
“That’s quite a new thing, be good to see how it shapes up”.
or “The Seven Sons of the Setting Sun of Sacramento. Old-time country gospel blues. A bit of a hoedown. A knees-up party band. It’s a lot of fun, a kind of jam band that never rehearses.”
“The SSSSS have a Friday residency at Mojo. All traditional gospel, bluegrass and country. Right good rowdy stomp-along bar room pop music!”
“He’s the fastest guitar picker in the west… of Yorkshire! Absolutely ridiculous, he’s got that real Merle Travis thing going on, it sounds like three guitarists in one!”
This is pretty Rockabilly. Wailing vocals, loads of echo on the guitar, that sort of thing. Used to be in Aces & Eights. I really should know what his real name is, but I just know him as Nick X-Ray Cat! It’ll come to me…”
“The guy behind The Jimmy Knox. Will be like Pogues-type stuff.”
“I’ve nothing to do with them, I don’t play with them or owt, but they are absolutely amazing. Best band in the world right now. 7-piece, with three of them singing. And it’s the rowdiest pirate bluegrass you’ve heard! The banjo player has the most ridiculous aggressive growl. It good old hoedown knees-up music!”
The Hempen Jig
“Takes place on the first Wednesday of the month at the Dry Dock. Bootscraper have a residency there and it’s definitely another one worth mentioning.”
“He’s a percussionist that gets around a bit. Plays with Hayley Gaftarnick and the SSSSS a few times.”
Mingus Mule Men
Roots linchpin and double bassist who manages to be everywhere with everyone seemingly simultaneously. Is actually registered as blind, meaning that he is by necessity regularly seen braving West Yorkshire’s public transport system with a conspicuously large case. “I shove it on my back, on the bus, and I can walk for miles like that. The Chemic Tavern, down Burley Road, it’s the easiest way to get about.”.
X-Ray Cat Trio
“This is a bit different, it’s a Charlie Mingus tribute band that I’m putting together.”
The Jimmy Knox
“It’s going to be like a ten-piece Irish folk band.”
“It’s an a capella barbershop quartet. I mean, I can’t even sing, but I’ll give it a go! It sounded like a good fun thing to be involved with and I couldn’t think of anyone else doing anything like that, apart from like a church choir or something.”
“The bloke out of Buen Chico and a hell of a songwriter, he’s half French and half Welsh and is the guy who started These Men.”
Promoter of the Acoustic Revolution for the last few years, since it moved from Dr. Wu’s to The Adelphi.
“If you want to see something good, get yourself down The Adelphi on a Saturday afternoon. It’s as good as ever right now. There’s always something good and rootsy on”.
Passport Control because we can’t just let them all in… Black Flag frontman and master of the spoken word: Henry Rollins. But do we really want his type round these parts? Rob Wright nervously runs the rule over the paperwork
Reason for visit? Business or pleasure? The surfing, as usual. And as you know, surfing is my business, and business is good. Will you be staying with friends? My local coven affiliates, yes. Any fruit, vegetables or meat products? Yes, I am bringing a large family from Preston. They tend to act out, except for Fidencio, he’s very quiet for the most part but when he cuts loose, look out. Did you pack your own case? No dear, there’s captured Republicans for all that kind of thing.
Have you ever been a member of any political or cultural movements taking a contrary stance to the Yorkshire philosophy and if so can you tell us what that entails as I haven’t a clue? I was at one time part of a group that advocated the tear down of the Yorkshire Wall. “Free the Yorkshirians!” was our battle cry. There were only eight of us and it only lasted a weekend but it was a real thrill to be part of something. This was 1979, my hair was long, I had a girl named Aura and a score to settle. Now I have good lawyers and a dead cool pharmacist.
half price. What, you think this is my first time in Yorkshire?
Are you willing to change over from coffee to Yorkshire Tea for the duration of your stay? Absolutely, it’s how one gets into all the post show Yorkshire Tea Dances for
You may now proceed through passport control. Please enjoy your stay in West Yorkshire.
We’re on good terms with the local Van Halen fan community – I trust you will not disrupt this? You only prove yourself to be an ignorant juvenile. I am the one who brought the first Van Halen album to Yorkshire. Go down to the city hall and look it up. Never mind the photo, I was about to sneeze. You need to prepare your questions with a little more care. Anything else to declare? As a woman of colour, I am delighted to be coming back to the city of my birth.
In Touch, In Brief, Inaccurate
Influential website seeks actual bands to legitimise preagreed ‘Scene’
Influential trend-setting website Drowned In Fake Dead Tracksuits, has issued its list of vogues to watch out for in 2010. Among these sub-genres are Gunk, Drunk and Junk. These may not be particularly familiar to you, but as content editor Jack LarkinAbbaht explained, there is a reason for this: “Basically these scenes are entirely constructs of our imagination, but we like the concept of portmanteaus, so we figure if we keep using them, eventually some bands will turn up that actually sound vaguely similar to what we’ve been banging on about. “It’s actually really easy to do. Gunk is essentially Grunge + Punk = Gunk; Drunk is Drum n Bass + Punk = Drunk…” So Junk is… Jive and Punk? “Ha ha ha! That sounds bloody awful man! What kind of band would sound like that? Nah, it’s Jive and FUNK! “Once that gets a bit tired, like when someone outside of our editorial team actually cottons on that it might actually sound OK, then we like to really mess with people’s heads by subverting it with other influences. Like, with the non-existent Junk scene, we’ve started talking about hip-hop stars performing incidental pieces of humour between Junk tracks, which has created the sub genre of Hop, Skit & Junk. “However the really messed-up madeup scene I’m excited about this year is the collaboration of P Diddy, 50 Cent, Hasidic Jewish rap-mettler Matisyahu and an early 90s novelty Charlestonthemed europop act playing drum ‘n’ bass-flavoured doom metal on the warp label. It’s the Doom Warp Diddy Fiddy Drum Yiddy Doop scene. “We figure, if we name it, they will come.”
New Band Pisses Off Every Music Writer In Leeds
Although the former defender was the surprise choice, the board are optimistic that Charlton can bring success.
“We just wanted to be different,” said Flounce Jezebel, ambisexual lead singer of eighties electro throwback band , “we didn’t want to upset anyone.”
“We have identified the major issues that we are facing, and for us, Jack was the obvious choice as he has a demonstrable track record of achievement when faced with similar challenges” the statement continued.
Writers and commentators across Leeds have downed keyboards in protest against , or more specifically, their name. “It’s not that we don’t like them,” said Alan Mutchbile, “well, not much. They’re pleasingly bland in a retro sort of way... no, I am not giving a review... it’s their name. I can’t find it on my bloody keyboard – I don’t even know what font they’re using for god’s sake.”
“The main problem affecting music in Manchester is that most of the good bands are no longer from Manchester. When managing Ireland to World Cup Quarter Final Glory in 1990, we were impressed by Jack’s achievement with players who were not actually Irish, having convinced everyone that they were. We’re looking for him to repeat that here in Manchester”
Whiskas and Dave Martin, both being experienced in the forum of bloody awkward band names have been sent in as negotiators, but the parties have reached deadlock. “We had the decency to make our name more media friendly,” said Dave, darkly, “you’d be surprised how easily these things can be done.” Whiskas refused to comment, but was seen to roll his eyes and mutter, ‘always with the being surprised. Not everything’s a bloody surprise...” will be touring with arsemonkey... oh, this really is bloody annoying…
Jack Charlton announced as new boss of Manchester Music Scene A press release issued on behalf of the Manchester Music Scene today announced the controversial decision to appoint former Leeds United and England footballer Jack Charlton as its new boss. It read: “Since the last period of sustained success in the late 80s and early 90s, we are deeply concerned that we have not produced a decent home-grown band since Elbow. We had high hopes for Badly Drawn Boy, but, well, you know… And as for The Ting Tings… Christ, even Johnny Marr has defected to Yorkshire….”
It is believed that Charlton has already approached the representatives of Seasick Steve, Brian Wilson and the late Michael Jackson who it is believed all qualify as Mancunians through their grandmothers.
Scenester Suffers Nasal Amputation After Frostbite Snow Mistake It has been revealed by medical staff that an anonymous scenester was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary earlier this month with severe frostbite to the nostrils after confusing snow for blow. “His friends said that he was ecstatic when the snow started falling,” said Dr Andrew Andrews, stifling a chuckle, “dived out into the street and started shovelling handfuls of flakes into his face shouting, ‘this is so pure, man, it’s like snorting water.’” By the time his friends had stopped laughing at his antics, the anonymous snow fiend had a nose as black as Andrew Eldritch’s mood and was saying that he had ‘gone all Daniella’. Doctors worked for three hours but could not save his blighted conk. “I guess this is taking uncut up your nose to spite your face,” said Doctor Andrews, “but that doesn’t really work, does it?” By Rob Paul Chapman and Rob Wright vibrations 19
Loving Brew, is easy ‘cause they’re beautiful… Photography by Bart Pettman
As Brew records celebrates two years of bringing you the type of music your grandma wouldn’t like, Vibrations catches up with founders Si Glacken and Thomas Bellhouse to recount the story to date and the bands that have got them this far. “They’re like our babies” they tell Tom Bailey.
snatched attention online with the superb zombie carnage of the Danny North directed ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’ video.
playing in Europe next year. In relation to the others, they’re still working their way up, but they’ve come the furthest in the shortest space of time”,
“That video had something like 23,000 plays in a couple of months, it’s pretty incredible” Si responds after I enquire as to what they feel has been their biggest achievement of the year. Tom soon follows with, “The Kong album for me, just because it was our first proper album and because it’s a complete package. It’s been done really well, really nice to hold. The artwork is flawless”.
There’s also genuine excitement when discussing the first release of new signing These Monsters – their debut album ‘Call Me Dragon’. “1st March, it’s a split release,” Si informs me, “We’re doing the CD version and there’s a label in London, called Function; they’re doing the LP version. We want to do vinyl at some stage, but it’s kind of a luxury”. .
Whilst Kong and Chickenhawk are no doubt Brew’s biggest successes to date, the duo are quick to also sing the praises of their other acts, with Tom recalling how Castrovalva were signed up initially more for their own
Of course, their success has brought many benefits, as Si explains, “Just not having to pursue people for reviews as much as we have had to in the past. People are coming to us because they want our albums”. He continues, “It started just us and the bands but
Four bands, two lads, one label. It might not sound that impressive on paper, but when you consider those bands are the acclaimed quartet of Kong, Chickenhawk, Castrovalva and These Monsters, that counts for something. In two years, Brew Records have released nine records: starting with compilations and singles, before moving up to the dizzy heights of EPs and albums. They’ve had bands at both the 2008 & 2009 Reading and Leeds Festivals, and organised dozens of gigs both in and outside of Leeds. I first met Si and Thomas back in February 2009, at the ever-charming Brudenell Social Club. After celebrating their first year in business, they were gearing up for their first album release; Kong’s highly praised ‘Snake Magnet’. Questioning them about their experiences of starting their own label; the good, the bad, and the simply bizarre, I remember leaving feeling inspired; Si and Tom’s strong passion for the unusual, combined with their drive and determination being infectious. Fast-forward to December. Just before the seemingly endless snowstorm, there was enough time to catch up and see how the rest of 2009 has treated Brew. “Everything’s much busier” Si explains, “We were busy before, and now it’s just… we’re trying to prepare for next year. There’s always something to do”. It’s not surprising considering that since the last time we met, the then-new signings, Chickenhawk have since exploded onto the live circuit; recently supporting The Fall Of Troy, had their first Vibrations cover back in July, and
satisfaction than potential success, “I didn’t have many aspirations for them, I didn’t know if people would like them, it was just a case that I really did”, later stating, “It’s always been a case that Brew’s been representative of our music taste, and it just so happens that we like these bands. We want all our bands to sound completely different, but still have something in common. At the moment, all our four bands don’t sound anything alike. I think we do make to some degree a conscious effort to find bands that are relatively unique”. “They’re like our babies…” Si responds, “…the other bands like Kong and Chickenhawk were all up and running and established before we got involved, where as Castrovalva – I don’t think they’d even played outside of Leeds when we came along, and now they’re
now we’ve got contacts; booking agents, friends of the bands, promoters – networks. We’ve got people who we can go to for help and advice”. “Still no women though, I’ve got a girlfriend but other than that…” muses Si “…they’re all just for the guys in bands” “ That’s a lie!” exclaims Tom “there are chicks everywhere, we’re knee deep. I’ve got two carrier bags full!” Whatever benefits may or may not have come Brew’s way, the rise in profile appears to reflect the hard work put in throughout its two years in existence. But has this newfound attention changed them?
Tom responds, “I am now officially cool according to Leeds – and you can print that. Seriously though – we’re so busy. You find yourself not spending anytime in your house”. Si comments, “We still have a laugh and everything, but it is more serious; the bigger the bands get and the more money there is. There’s more at stake”. Upon mentioning the possibility of their bands outgrowing the label in the future, Si quickly quashes any doubts, “Yeah, it would be good for us if a band gets big, for us to be seen as a stepping stone”, he continues, “We’ve got good relationships with all our bands; even if they went off and became massive we’d always have contact with them, they’d always have a place for us. We’ll do merch for them; we’ll do merch for Chickenhawk”. “My dream, my aim, is to have one of our bands’ videos played on TV, like real TV” continues Si. “My mission this year was to get the bands agents and outside the UK. These Monsters have just done Europe, and Kong are doing Europe next year so that’s that aspiration done. So I want one of our bands to be played on MTV2”. “I want to meet The Saturdays just to get one over on Paul” jokes Tom. Yeah, I’ll meet The Saturdays”. “But yeah, we just want our bands to tour more and sell more records” he clarifies. “We’re looking into other outlets; trying to get our bands’ music into computer games, TV, trying to look in new areas” Si adds. There’s no question as to how committed Brew have been working towards 2010, having just announced that Kong will be supporting local favourites 65 Days Of Static in Europe throughout April. “The 65 Days tour is massive; I love that band, to have one of our bands touring with them is so surreal” Si enthuses, “The hardest
thing is getting your bands playing infront of new people. Once you get some decent support tours, with established bands, it becomes a lot easier”. Building on appearances at the 2008 and 2009 Reading and Leeds festivals’ BBC Introducing stage, with I Concur and Chickenhawk respectively, the lads also hope to get their acts at more festivals throughout 2010. Si states, “We got good feedback from the guy who runs Download and Sonisphere. Kong did Offset festival in London and got offered South By Southwest but they turned it down – think they’re going to do that next year instead. We had Castrovalva at Moorfest as well, that was pretty cool”. It’s also reassuring to hear that despite already hectic touring plans, Brew haven’t taken their eyes off of the physical product. “Next year we’ll be doing Kong’s next album, Chickenhawk’s, These Monsters debut album, and Castrovalva are doing an album as well. Think they’re all going to drop around March / April. So yeah, it’s going to be crazy”.
What about singles, will you ever go back to them? “With singles it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of work. It’s alright every now and again but it’s got to be a special release” Si explains, “When you’re working with new bands they’re still important, just to get them out there before an album release, make that initial contact with the world, and start building them up with a release, then a tour. So I think singles are still definitely valid. We wouldn’t want download only ones though, we like the physical element”. “I do like the idea of streaming and downloading” Tom responds, “but the physical product is still our first port of call”. Would Brew have preferred to have been around in the days pre-Internet when the physical product was still king and all communication was done with actual speech? “I don’t know how people did it in the old days” Si admits, with Tom adding, “I fucking hate telephones. We’d have to send pigeons out!”
Calling Social Services As former darlings of Radio One’s Chris Moyles and with one of the loyalist fan-bases in pop, Four Day Hombre looked odds-on to go stellar. But after their debut fizzled out, they faded away. Now they’re back, as Hope & Social, having swapped red wine and quiche for churches and kazoos. “We got involved in the race to be the next Coldplay or Keane” they reflect to Spencer Bayles Photography by Bart Pettman
Generally, it’s not good form when interviewing a band to tell them about the years you avoided them because you thought their name was rubbish. Fortunately it’s not so bad when the band themselves agree. Members of Hope & Social, formerly the hotly-tipped and questionably-monikered Four Day Hombre, are sat upstairs in the Adelphi contemplating the lunch menu; as perfect a moment as any to ask then, what exactly is a four day hombre?
“We realised we never make any money from CDs, and we’re never going to make money from CDs. We just want people to hear the music so that they will then become involved.” “We were getting posters printed,” recalls guitarist Rich Huxley, “and we needed a name. We tried putting a load of words together - we liked ‘four’, we liked ‘day’ and we liked ‘hombre’. Unfortunately we chose them all.” Fast forward a few years, and the very affable Hope & Social are here to play a stripped-down set at the reliably entertaining Acoustic Revolution session, before heading off to support the resurgent and bafflingly popular Shed Seven at a sold-out Manchester Academy later in the evening. The band ends 2009 having released an album, ‘Architect of This Church’, which has been lapped up by their hardcore following if not by the wider world. It could’ve been a very different story. Four Day Hombre were a leading light in the live pop scene in Leeds around 2002-2006, the city’s own contenders for Coldplay’s anthemic-indie-rock crown. “We do have a tendency to be somewhat populist in our writing,” says Rich. “We’ve always wanted to make music that people want to listen to rather than niche ourselves off.” Certainly, music writers in decades to come who hear, say, ‘Yellow’ back to back with FDH’s sensational ‘The First Word Is The Hardest’ would be hardpressed to say why – musically at least - one launched an international career and the other didn’t.
friends, family, and most notably, fans. “Some people put their life savings into it,” recalls Rich. “Literally on a daily basis, people would ring up and say, ‘I’ve got three grand in the bank you can have’ - they wanted to give us the opportunity. I can never be grateful enough to those people.” Such was the success of the funding, the band could afford to book a studio in France, with acclaimed producer Dave Odlum; as Rich says: “We recorded in our dream studio with our dream producer.” “It was like entering a dream world,” confirms keyboardist Ed Waring. “Being in an incredible studio, drinking red wine and coffee…” “…and you couldn’t move for quiche,” concludes Rich. Preceded by the single ‘1000 Bulbs’ – accompanied by a fantastically inventive one-shot video - the resulting album, ‘Experiments In Living’, was released in March 2006 with high expectations. Alas, history books will note that, while containing a fine set of tunes, it didn’t set the world on fire. “I don’t think it was a complete enough vision,” suggests Ed. “It was the best album we could’ve made but it wasn’t game-changing. For all their faults, Coldplay’s first album did feel different in some way - it felt complete. We made a lot of bad decisions in terms of who we had to help us; for example, we didn’t get a review in Q. We asked the PR guys, ‘how much did we pay you?’” “Thinking back,” he continues, “we were two years ahead of the game in terms of the old music way and the new music way. We used new music thinking to get the money and then we tried to apply it in an old music way.
We shouldn’t have done that. We should’ve used that money to be a selfsufficient thing, like we are now, outside of the traditional music industry.” None of Alamo’s initial stakeholders have seen any return on their investment, but there are no hard feelings. “They wanted it to do well,” says Rich, “but it was an emotional rather than a business decision.” ‘Experiments…’ would be the only studio album released by Four Day Hombre, as changes were afoot. The turning point came on returning from a tour of Canada and America. “When you tour,” explains Ed, “you’re in the same country as everyone else but you see it from a slightly different angle. You then come home and look around with different eyes. We saw this country in a really different way.” Good or bad? “Both,” he says. “For example, the US is a massively troubled country with massive divides of race and class etc, but wherever you go, there’s a real pride. Even though people may have opinions that you disagree with, their love for the country is honest. Here, people talk as though they’re proud of their country but they don’t act as though they are. People have flags, St George’s day, the England team etc, but they don’t look after their neighbours and there’s no sense of community. Where’s it gone? That’s what part of the new album’s about.” This change in outlook prompted the new name: Hope & Social. Rich explains that the ‘Hope &…’ was inspired by Wheat’s album ‘Hope & Adams’, the ‘Social’ being “to do with that idea of inclusiveness.”
Leading the march for independentlyfunded bands, they set up Alamo Music, funded by generous donations from vibrations 25
Songs on ‘Architect…’ are sonically and emotionally in a similar ballpark to those on ‘Experiments…’ – fans of the FDH sound can rest easy. “It’s just a bit more direct,” suggests lead singer Simon Wainwright. “FDH songs were always a bit fey, I thought - always gave the impression they were veiled in sadness when they weren’t actually veiled in sadness.”
but the result is a band that sounds in control.
The essence of community also informs the band’s choice of recording space – a 19th Century church. The band has to work around weddings and funerals: “Occasionally they don’t tell us, which isn’t so good,” says Ed.
The album was released using the pay-what-you-like model popularised by Radiohead. Simon explains: “We realised we never make any money from CDs, and we’re never going to make money from CDs. We just want people to hear the music so that they will then become involved.” Ed continues: “The music industry’s actions have actually devalued music to the point that people accept it’s free. We thought why not just go with that – if you want it for free, you can have it. We’d rather you have it because good things may come out of that for us. If you feel you want to give us something, here’s how you can do it – three clicks.”
The influence of the environment is apparent. ‘Do What You Must’ and the stunning ‘Looking For Answers’ are hoisted aloft by a choir, the natural reverb of the space resulting in something truly spine-tingling. They may have been working with a much smaller budget (“about £35,000 less”),
It’s been a successful exercise: “We’ve made more out of this record than anything we’ve ever done,” confirms Simon. And getting a much bigger percentage: “Comparing costs with income, we’re definitely better off now than when we were in the NME and on the radio,” laughs Rich.
“We’re still writing heartfelt songs,” he continues. “That’s the kind of people we are. But there’s a sense of trying to work out where home is, I guess. What’s wrong with it and what’s right with it. How to make something you can call home.” “With kazoos,” adds Ed.
Musical touchstones for the album were Bruce Springsteen and Arcade Fire. Some songs bear these influences more readily than others – opener ‘Living A Lie’ could confidently hold its head up in the company of songs from the latter’s ‘Neon Bible’.
The average person has been paying around £7 for the album, an occasional generous soul giving more, others being thriftier. Rich recalls: “There was a girl last night who paid 5p, but she was raving about how she was going to play it to her mates, and how she’d come to the next show. That’s another person who will go out of their way for you.” Starting again has been difficult; they admit they’ve lost some of their audience as a result. Has it been worth it? “It was for me personally,” says Simon. “We give a lot more to the people who come and see us and I don’t think we could’ve done that if we’d stayed as we were. A lot of that, as painful as it was, was changing the name.” The industry has changed completely since FDH were touted as the next big things, and as work begins on the next album, the benefit of hindsight is continuing to guide Hope & Social away from previous pitfalls. Simon sums up: “Previously, we weren’t quite together enough as a band. We thought we knew what we wanted to do - which is probably a bit more like we are now - and then we got involved in the race to be the next Coldplay or Keane or whoever, bands I personally despise now. We lost our way. Ultimately you need lots of money. And luck.”
REVIEWS albums The Sunshine Underground Nobody’s Coming to Save You
the Killers’ catchiest stuff – and show that three and half years have been well spent, because tunes this good are world class - even slow point ‘Any Minute Now’ is Snow Patrol anthemic. Essentially, if you don’t like them, prepare for an epiphany – this is the good news. Rob Wright
there, they should be heard. ‘Deaf Machine’ ends the audio ceremony with a remorseful sax and an angry guitar, a mix of black and white horror and New Orleans carnival. All in all, a sinister, playful, manic, relaxed, tripped out, mixed up album. Not quite as insane as expected, but still pretty mad.
These Monsters Call Me Dragon
These Monsters by Bart Pettman
It’s been three and a half years since TSU released ‘Raise the Alarm’, heralded as the ‘first great album of the new rave movement’. Ha, new rave. Fortunately, The Sunshine Underground have moved on and yet again I am forced to reconsider my opinions. Ha, opinions.
These Monsters have a reputation for being, let’s say, hedonistic, so for them to take time out of their busy partying schedule to record a whole album is a feat of keeping it together. Set your You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘here we go again’ as a guitar jangles into earsight time machines for prog – this could get on ‘Coming to Save You’ – upbeat indie indulgent... pop agogo – but lurking in the subtext Now there may only be seven tracks, of the second guitar’s Peter Gunn riff is but this isn’t about quantity, this is about an uneasy minor, a worm in the apple, quality riff action, which Sam Pryor is a knee in the balls. This grows into a more than happy to provide. Opening belligerent sludge core, countersigned title track, ‘Call Me Dragon’ goes for a by Craig Wellington’s sneering ‘no one’s quick sonic kill with a baritone arpeggio coming to save you’, a sentiment worthy that is weighty but not heavy – That of John Lyddon at his height, but then... Fucking Tank spliced with Humanfly. the chorus bursts forth like an electro You can vaguely hear him screaming, disco juggernaut. Very exhilarating and but Jonny Farrell’s mocking sax scolds playful, but epic like recent Kasabian him into submission. Unfortunately, this or Muse – no surprise considering leaves the song somewhat coreless, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys producer but a riff is a riff. More impressive is Barny is on the payroll. the massive ‘Dirty Messages’, a fearful musical tale told between the guitar With the scene thoroughly set, tracks and sax, with the bass and increasingly come thick (mostly four minutes plus), sporadic drums of Ian Thirkill and fast (Matthew Gwilt knows how to lay Tommy Davidson respectively adding down a dance beat) and proud of their a rumbling, grumbling audience. This is influences. ‘Spell It Out’ cheekily nods where These Monsters really excel, in towards Siouxsie’s ‘Spellbound’, first single ‘We’ve Always Been Your Friend’ these wordless tales, and ‘Harry Patton’ and ‘Space Ritual’ both follow this loose nuzzles up to Justice and Gossip and ‘In Your Arms’ out Friendly Fires Friendly form full of leitmotifs and expressive drums. It sounds post-rock, but feels Fires, with Craig pinning down an King Crimson. impressive falsetto and manic cowbell. But it’s the choruses and riffs that really draw blood – ‘Here It Comes’ has a riff and chorus from Stuart Jones and Daley Smith that belts the hell out of even
They do attempt a proper song of sorts in ‘Who Is The Tall Sick Man’, which even has lyrics if you listen really hard; the lyrics may not be great, but if they’re
Itch An Illusion of Grandeur From a One Trick Pony
I must confess that I was slightly worried about the ambitious title of this second full length recording from this unique sounding Leeds quartet. Hopefully, it means that they’ve a point to prove and, on hearing the opening gambit from guitar/ vocalist Mile Milner, as his town crier-esque vocals proclaim ‘You’re not so big and clever now’, I’m not about to disagree.
‘Grandeur’ clearly sees Mr Milner and his cohorts, guitarist Steven Banks, drummer Lee Strong and bassist John Drake in combative mood. That doesn’t really change much throughout the eleven songs on offer here, including ‘Here Comes The Cavalry,’ ‘Butterfingers,’ all the way to the closing number ‘Never In a Million Years’, the first line of which finally reveals the album’s title. Indeed the more I listen to this album, the less I understand it and perhaps that’s the point. However, despite being a bit of a challenge in places, each play adds to the strangely compelling feel... once you get used the voice, lots of unsettling time changes, little drumstick fills and more besides.
stutteringly sharp, confident and right on top of the sound; the verbal braggadocio in opening track ‘SM58s’ is utterly justified. Throughout the album, the ferocious pace and laser timing haul the range of themes and sounds together as tight as Jay5ive’s preposterously snappy drumming.
album a particularly memorable one. Rupert Stroud does have an undeniable talent, but it’s frankly too hard to convince myself his best work isn’t yet to come.
If there’s a downside for me, it’s in the uneasy feelings I get about social positioning and cultural commentary. ‘T’Urban’, ‘What We’re About’ and ‘British Blues’ make heroic efforts to make a case for serious recognition, but I’m not sure how much direct representation of authentic consciousness is coming through.
Watch This Fire Spread Dark Days And Dumb Nights
Nevertheless, if you love Middleman or Hayashi, but don’t know about Freyed Knot, this album is something you should not be without.
We’ve clearly got four talented guys really pushing the frontiers of the post rock envelope to make a truly unusual Sam Saunders but nonetheless very English sounding record. Imagine a bit of experimentalism from Radiohead, a tinge of pathos from Half Man Half Biscuit, throw in some Rupert Stroud Mark E Smith eccentricity and that may Rupert Road hopefully paint a fairly accurate but crazy picture of what’s going on here. Not for everyone but those who sample and like this very acquired taste will grow to love it while being confused by it.
We were big fans of the first Watch This Fire Spread album here at Vibrations Towers. After a virtual eternity in the creative recession of landfill indie, it was refreshing to have a band that was perfectly capable of playing to the mainstream, but without patronising its audience and continuing to maintain a completely identifiable sound.
Freyed Knot More Fire
This is echoed in the follow-up and is even more impressive when you factor in the band’s policy of rotating their singers. People talk about distinctiveness of sound, when often they mean distinctiveness of vocal. ‘Oh, So easily can a batch of songs from a you can tell a Muse song anywhere’ singer songwriter run the risk of coming and the like. Yes, of course you can, across as a bit bland and over done. because Matt Bellamy sounds like a It is music that we’ve all heard before wheezing asthmatic pensioner trying to from the likes of David Gray and Richard blow-up a hot air balloon. It takes brains Ashcroft, and this is exactly where, to create something with a unique voice influentially, this album picks up. without actually using a unique voice.
It’s all very late nineties, and each track is very similar to the next. ‘What I’ve The massive strength of this album Done’ kicks the album off with a host of is the music. Drums, bass, guitar, questionable lyrics, which provides the saxophones, beat box, backing vocals foundation for most of the album. A pity and decks do exceptional amounts of really, because Stroud’s voice shines work. Over 15 tracks the variety of funk through brilliantly on the songs, and the fusion, jazzist and hip hop sounds and album is produced to a high standard, styles are ear-poppingly prodigious. The for example, the added synths on ‘Just pace is blistering and the mix is faultless. Like We Used To’ add a nice warmth to Ben Wilson, Bruce Wood and Andy the songs and ‘Saturday Night’ brings in Illingworth have mixed, mastered and a slight country sound to the mix. engineered exceptional sound. The problem is that there just MCs ExP and JND work both solo aren’t enough hook-lines or clever or together with style and fluency instrumentation thrown in to make this
Key is Mark Roberts’ glorious cascading pop-gothic piano, which flows seamlessly between the restrained to the high-camp, with more than a hint of Broadway. It is the axis to which everything revolves around, and my lord is there a lot to revolve around it. Trumpets, vocals, saxes, kitchen sinks, and – it should be noted – some fantastically exciting drumming all fire off in different directions while Roberts tries to keep the whole thing from collapsing in a heap. If anything this works better as a whole than its the debut, it has a flow and vibrations 29
evenness that its more schizophrenic predecessor lacked. The worry is that perhaps the absence of a track with the immediacy of Lovers or the eponymous Watch This Fire Spread may prove a hindrance. I don’t imagine they will be overly fussed though. This is a band that seems ostensibly out of kilter with the disposable aspects of modern culture.
Holy Trinity Church is without doubt one of the most incredible performance spaces in Leeds and one with an acoustic so delicate that most bands crush it mercilessly underneath unnecessary amplification. One of the few bands to get it right were Her Name Is Calla and, joy of joys, they’re playing there again. With label mates Worriedaboutsatan laying down some grooves and hopefully some moves too, this night promises to be an emotional event. You may need to take your own liquid refreshment, but get down there and experience post-rock both raw and cooked.
Though this doesn’t sound like something consciously designed to offer something different, it seems to indicate that to create something that’s properly original, you’re better off just channelling what comes naturally. And to that effect, this is a qualified success. Rob Wright Rob Paul Chapman
SINGLES Pete Briley Semantics Pity the solo acoustic troubadour, peddling his new wares in an already overcrowded market. Pity especially those whose press releases claim them to be ‘one of the most exciting underground acoustic artists’ around and ‘the future of British songwriting’, no less. Hard to match those claims to what is a run-of-the-mill but nevertheless pretty acoustic guitar-led ditty with some nice touches of cello. Vocally he’s midway between Tom McRae and JJ72’s Mark Greaney; more upbeat than the former and less whiny than the latter. Nice enough, but needs to up his game or drop the hyperbole. Spencer Bayles
Amorist What Makes You So Special?
Haiti relief concert
An all-acoustic line-up headlined by Jon Gomm 7th March upstairs @ The Library Just as Vibrations was going to press, news reached us that Haydn Britland is putting together a fundraiser for the relief effort in Haiti following the tragic events there. A very strong acoustic line-up featuring Jon Gomm, Fran Rodgers, Eureka Machines (acoustic), Lee J Malcolm, Peasman, Peter Wright and My Pet Brick will take place upstairs at The Library on March the 7th. Rob Paul Chapman
LIVE Leeds Festival Chorus / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Simon Wright @ Leeds Town Hall
The Festival chorus took a breather while the splendid City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra rose to Simon Wright’s confident leadership of Mozart’s Symphony No 35. This was followed by the evening’s main event, Haydn’s terrifyingly grand B Minor Mass that has aptly come to signify the naval successes of Horatio Nelson. As a musical experience though, the piece is much broader. The Festival Chorus and The City of Birmingham Orchestra were huge, and the four soloists (coaxed attentively by Simon Wright) blended beautifully with great clarity and deep spiritual solemnity. As always with Wright the music is far more than just the notes. If you haven’t already experienced the physical richness of hearing the Leeds Festival Chorus in full voice, your deep pleasure buttons would thank you forever for a visit very soon. Sam Saunders
Eureka Machines / DeLorean Drivers / The Kiara Elles / Paul Morricone @ The Brudenell Social Club Paul Morricone begins proceedings a little uneasily. The granite-melting croon is not quite on top form, especially when tackling some of the distant back catalogue, which he rather quaintly describes as a couple of “songs by a band called The Scaramanga Six”, as if they were by some kind of distant third party. However, he gradually feels his way into the set finishing in glorious form. The duo of new songs The Spider and December are just wonderful. Before the arrival of The Kiara Elles, we are “treated” to some bleeps and bangs from live knob-twiddlers Wrongbot. I am assured that this is very difficult to do. But it is also very difficult to listen to. I’m sure that’s the point, but this is aural water-boarding.
This single is so Led Zeppelin that I can only applaud Amorist for pulling it off in half decent fashion. All the riffs are there with the trademark vocals thrown in for good measure. For a band playing a style that is forty years old which has been more than over done since then, they do a pretty good job of reeling you in and keeping your attention, even if the pace can get a little sluggish at times.
Kate Valentine - soprano / Victoria Simmonds mezzosoprano / Alan Clayton - tenor / Mark Stone - bass
They are not without their moments to engage and interest. However, there is The victory celebration of ‘Te Deum’ by also a knowingness to Chiara Lucchini’s Haydn blasted us out of our seats, with performance that smacks of theatre The Festival Chorus alive, articulate and school self-consciousness. Every leap, luxurious as ever. Mozart’s ‘Exultate pose and mic lead drape looks like it’s Jubilate’, with Kate Valentine’s beautiful been rehearsed in front of the mirror. soprano voice, continued the celebratory Hopefully they will find a more natural mood. and individual voice in time and there is
PREVIEWS Her Name Is Calla, Worriedaboutsatan 29th March @ Holy Trinity Church
Leeds Festival Chorus, with 150 voices and 150 years of gigs, is as important a musical phenomenon as any in the City. With their musical director Simon Wright they sing regularly with great orchestras from all over the world and are regularly recorded for Radio 3.
I had only seen Kiara Elles once, and was indifferent. However, I’ve never been so happy to see a band in my life as their appearance brought about the end of Wrongbot, at least for the time being.
enough here to be optimistic.
so reliant on sculpted noise - it feels as if a lot of their craft as musicians and Tim Hann’s lyrical flair in particular is swallowed up by distortion and overbearing percussion; good songs bludgeoned into submission by misjudgements in the performance.
DeLorean Drivers look likely to makegood on their early promise as they instantly establish a natural report with a sizable crowd who are (largely) not their own. Although slightly (and probably advisedly) toned down for the occasion, the set blossoms into glorious Greg Elliott ecstatic life with The Girl With Fire In Her Hands and maintains the euphoric high thereon. Wonderful stuff. Mishkin
leave a beaten ground for Bulletproof to collapse and demand ‘more power more power’ and push the absurdity/ magnificence of their performance to new levels. They could have been the British Faith No More. They still could be.
The crowd is at capacity when the medley of children’s themes dies away and a semi-naked Jimmy is alone on / The Butterfly / the stage with his guitar. Two seconds later and Mishkin unleash a depth Rebel Yell But this is Eureka Machines’ night, and charge of speed metal on the crowd. @ Rio’s if many bands would be intimidated Ben’s voice goes from soft sibilance by following such showmanship, Chris to screeching howl with unrivalled Sometimes you need reminding that Catalyst and friends thrive off it. Catalyst there’s more to life than indie rock, the confidence, guitarists Jimmy and Ali has always run a well-drilled machine scene and LS6. There’s some great stuff sling riffs, solos and lead singers at that pulls off the impressive trick of slipping under the radar as you read this. each other and new boys Dave and looking like it’s all being made up on the Bradie... cut it. The audience love it spot. But in the couple of years or so Take openers Rebel Yell. Never heard and express their love through the since they started this has matured into of them until tonight, but they’ve been medium of mosh, singalongs and devil a band that is really something. going for five years and they really horns – it’s like thrash pop panto, but do rock. Brothers Ray, Craig and Neil better than that sounds. Progressive The besuited ones career through a Mcgown play double bass, stand up electrothrashspeedpopfunkadelica, blistering, break-neck set of hugely drums and guitar respectively and Davro brimming with arena-filling confidence. entertaining pop-rock with punch. Oh, taking up the second guitar and kick out and they have fairy lights. And a gong. Rob Wright a mix of punk, rockabilly and country A gong damnit! How can you not love a with more energy than a fast breeder pop-rock band with a gong? A packed reactor. It’s tight and loose toe tapping Brudenell laps it up, pogoing, lurching, stuff with panache and flair. And Ray Propagandhi / Protest singing and affably interacting. spins his double bass – result! The Hero / Strike 300 people leave with a large grin and Anywhere / Final Crisis As their acapella Special Brew fuelled tired feet. What local gig-going should @ Rios intro suggests, The Butterfly are back. be all about. A triumph. Temporarily. Mixing melodrama and Leeds Rios hosts a metal/punk hardcore roaring riffs is not unusual, but it doesn’t gig tonight. Local lads Final Crisis open Rob Paul Chapman get heavier than this – until Jell’s guitar the evening, with their ‘own brand’ of has a critical fail. After a new guitar ambient hardcore metal. I can’t say that is obtained, ‘The Duke,’ ‘Eros and it sounds any different to the reams I Concur / Invisible Thanatos’ and ‘Arrogance (again)’
Cities / Maggie8 @ Leeds University Mine
The first of three local acts playing to raise money for the Refugee Council, Maggie8 tear into a raft of songs characterised by lush, upbeat melodies and sophisticated, compact arrangements. Theirs is a hook-laden sound in which banjo, keyboard and horn all feature prominently, as complete a break from the current grunge revivalism as one could hope for. Invisible Cities seek to marry the structural complexity of Battles with the emotional resonance achieved by instrumental rock trailblazers Do Make Say Think and Dirty Three. Their songs have a tendency to feel fragmented as if the four members were straining against one another in search of moments of individual brilliance – but when these efforts resolve into a cohesive whole the results are stunning. I Concur remain in search of ways to translate the nuances of their recorded output into an effective live show. Tonight – and perversely for a band
Propagandhi by Emma Stone vibrations 31
of heavy metal bands out there at the moment. That isn’t to say that they don’t do it well. The crowd responds well to tracks such as ‘What Matters Most’ and ‘River of Decades’. I think it’s fair to say that their set went well, and set the tone for the bands to come. The room is absolutely packed tight for Strike Anywhere - I can barely see them over the heads of the crowd. All the hype surrounding them is very well deserved; the fast, heavy tempo and catchy melodies, combined with the perfect balance between screaming and singing grasp the attention of everyone in the room. Dreadlocked singer Thomas Barnett doesn’t stop for a second, bouncing around the stage, getting everyone involved. Personally, I would have preferred to see them playing the main support slot.
primarily in fresh arrangements of traditional English folk songs. His rich, tremulous Banhart/Buckley warble deploys in potent combination with deft, inventive guitar playing tonight - if the performance is a little uncertain, he succeeds nonetheless in championing some beautiful, timeless tales. Newcastle sextet Lanterns On The Lake have all the trappings of worthy, intelligent rock music in the vein of Low or Sigur Rós. Harmonies, swapped instruments and earnest sentiments define swooning compositions played out at a glacial pace, but for all their loveliness never really add up to much.
Songs Of Green Pheasant seems the main draw tonight, but Sheffield resident Duncan Sumpner’s feted songs lack definition and his set doesn’t cohere into anything substantial. The Up next, Canadians Protest The Hero. Declining Winter end up fighting a strict I admit I wasn’t overly impressed with curfew and don’t waste a second of their recorded material. However, seeing their truncated set. Extensive touring them live is a different matter. I am has honed the live manifestation of amazed at Rody Walker’s vocal range. Hood co-founder Richard Adams’ solo He can switch from roaring down the project into a purposeful unit which mic to high pitched notes comparable brings a welcome muscularity to his to those of ex-Darkness singer, Justin distinctive music; rustic contemplation Hawkins. Bassist Arif’s finger tapping playing second fiddle to a heady brew of bass was even more impressive. The hypnotic drums and guitar. overall performance is let down however Greg Elliott by an onstage rant by Rody. As far as I‘m concerned, no-one pays in to a gig to hear a man whingeing about how if he killed himself, we might buy more Gaze, Kunt and the records. Gang, Granny’s 4 Skin, The last time I saw Propagandhi was earlier in the year in Sheffield. About seven songs in, we were evacuated due to an onstage fire. And if I‘m completely honest, I think I had more fun being evacuated than I did tonight. I was disappointed that they played too many songs off their most recent album “Supporting Caste”. I preferred them at their earlier punk rock best, rather than their current metal style. They did play a good set, but I must say I was a bit bored by them. It’s fair to comment that the majority of the people in the room loved the set tonight, but judging by tonight’s performance, I am finding it hard to understand why. Emma Stone
The Declining Winter / Songs Of Green Pheasant / Lanterns On The Lake / Michael Rossiter @ Holy Trinity Church Michael Rossiter is a locally-based musical preservationist who deals
Little Elvis @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
I was always told if you can’t say something good about someone, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Ummm. I’d better write something. You’ll be expecting something to read. Little Elvis. Once, I could accept. Twice? I almost committed murder. Granny’s 4 Skin are much more like it. Goldie Looking Chain meets the Moist Boys in a hot tub of filth, featuring Roger Tyers and Matt Powers in dresses, Liam Scannel in a fez and Jenny Cox as a bouncy clown playing songs about eye contact during fellatio, being mugged by kids and ‘Feed The World’. Very silly, very rude but surprisingly amiable; they do not outstay their welcome. Unlike Kunt. Shock value is unfortunately a weak currency and once you’ve seen a fake cock pop out of a day-glo jump suit, you’ve pretty much shot your bolt. Though he’s less
offensive than Kevin Bloody Wilson or The Macc Lads, he still gets pretty repetitive. Even introducing Little Kunt doesn’t really break the monotony. Nice guy, shit shtick. After the second dose of Little Elvis, I am borderline psychotic, but maybe Gaze will sort me out. Unfortunately, it’s a bit landfill punk. On the positive side, it is lively and anarchic – too anarchic, as they seem to break their instruments after every song – but so unforgettable that... I’ve forgotten. Still, at least I managed to escape before Little Elvis despoiled the corpse of the king further. Rob Wright
Micky P Kerr/Ryan Spendlove/Rodina/Nicky Phillips/Daimo Moore @ Royal Park Cellars I can count barely two dozen punters as I arrive at the RPC and unfortunately the crowd doesn’t really grow as the night wears on. Two reasons spring to mind. Firstly, it’s a miserable wet November evening and secondly, we have Christmas lights switch-on night down the road in Leeds city centre. Before Mr Kerr’s appearance, highlights include singer-songwriter Nicky Phillips singing wistful self-penned musings covering subjects ranging from lost love to cheap plonk. Rodina (aka Aoife Hearty) takes to the stage next, backed by acoustic guitar and double bass. Her 6-song set mixes folk, jazz, soul and latin as she delivers stripped down versions of tracks from her surprisingly good debut album ‘Over The Sun’. The penultimate act stands once more alone in front of the sparse but appreciative crowd. Ryan Spendlove combines growling vocals, bluesy riffs and harmonica to considerable effect, finishing his stint with the splendidly raucous ‘Change My Mind’. Another pleasant surprise. An apologetic Micky P Kerr takes to the stage by himself and announces that he is suffering from flu so, to warm up the vocal chords, the first three numbers are spoken, including the eagerly anticipated and highly amusing ‘Credit Crunch Christmas’. He finally picks up his guitar and follow with a further 5 songs, the pick of the bunch the infuriatingly catchy ‘Puppy Eyes’. Those that remain appreciate his sterling efforts in the face of adversity. Mike Price
The Leeds Festival Archive The city centre museum in Leeds is currently home to a new archive of Leeds Festival memorabilia, including the striking photography of Vibrations’ own Sam Saunders. Here, Assistant Curator of Community History at Leeds City Council Marek Romaniszyn explains the exhibition’s aims When I was asked to identify a contemporary collecting area for Leeds Museums & Galleries, the first thing I thought of was The Leeds Festival. The Leeds modern music scene is underrepresented in the museum collection but by its nature, ‘music’ does not sit easily in a museum setting. The music scene in a large city like Leeds is vast, where do you start? However Leeds, unlike its neighbouring northern cities, has a huge annual music festival, now over a decade old, which hosts some of the biggest acts on the planet and showcases new and emerging talent. Having said this, the Leeds Festival by no means encapsulates the entire city’s music scene or comprehensively covers it. What it does do is act as a point of entry for the museum service to annually document the vibe, culture, people, fashion and music of the city’s festival at that time. I believe music works best in a museum when it concentrates on a specific event, decade, band, movement and most specifically the people who were there.
while documenting the festival each coming year. The main ethos behind the project was that it was community driven, like music, it is for the people. The labels for the case display contain extracts from the narrative donors submitted to give a community voice to the archive and display. The Leeds Festival Archive case display, currently on show at the Leeds City Museum from now until April, contains objects and memories that were donated by people who attended it, volunteers who worked at it, bands who played at it, and its organisers. It showcases what we have collected so far but my aim this year is for the collecting and number of people involved to grow. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the project this year and if you are attending this year’s Leeds Festival or have attended any previous year and are interested in getting involved please contact me. email@example.com
The project began late last June, when my (then) colleague Leona Bowman and I began posting flyers to as many attending people, bands and organisations we could get hold of to attempt to take a snapshot of this year’s festival. We asked each person who took part to choose and donate an object that was both present at the festival and one they believed represented a part of it. Some donated more than one object and we received a variety of items including; drum sticks, plectrums, tickets, posters, wristbands, stage passes, photographs, t-shirts and beer cans. Each donor was also asked to submit a short piece of narrative about their experience of the festival and the objects. We also collected some retrospective objects from donors and this is something I want to continue vibrations 34
graphic design web design firstname.lastname@example.org / 07958 181 589
One for the road
James Kenosha Interview by Rob Wright Illustration by Simon Lewis
If you have bought, downloaded or borrowed any albums released by Leeds-based bands in the last year it is a racing certainty that you have a little bit of James Kenosha in your collection. And that is by no means a bad thing. Not only is he avariciously handsome and disarmingly amiable, but he is actually something of a whizz in the recording and production department. Though his band Duels went kaput last year, he’s been busy, busy, busy, recording and producing the Grammatics’ eponymous debut album, Dinosaur Pile-Up’s EP, I Concur’s debut album... oh, lots and lots. Not only that, but he’ll also be playing drums for Lone Wolf’s live set up. Amidst the wall to wall chaos, he has kindly taken time out to lend a little wisdom about getting the blood on the tracks. 1) If it’s your own and you’re happy with it, it doesn’t matter how little or how much it cost. I guess it started a few years ago when I started playing drums with a band called Kenosha (hence the name)... we recorded in a few different studios but never got the sound that we really wanted so we started doing our own recording. It started with a 4 track tape machine, the quality was rough, but it at least sounded more like the way we wanted. I loved the process of recording and the limitations of only having 4 tracks and a few cheap microphones only made it more fun.
2) When it comes to influences, you can’t go wrong with nineties rock legends. Weezer’s first two albums were a huge influence. The Pixies too... I pretty much learnt to play the drums just from listening to those two Weezer albums! When QOTSA released Songs For The Deaf that was a big deal for me too. I love Chris Goss’s work on that record and it was the first time I realised how awesome Dave Grohl is.
3) If you’re lucky enough to be offered the choice to do one of two things you love, you should be prepared to make some tough decisions. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, it just kind of happened... I started to acquire more equipment for recording Kenosha, (starting with an old 32 track ex-BBC desk which I still use today) but there were always certain limitations with recording yourself - you can’t be behind the drum kit and the studio monitors at the same time! So I wanted to try recording bands other than Kenosha. That started with This Et Al... the sessions went great and I just wanted to do more.
4) Relax, and those around you will be compelled to relax too. I’ve been lucky enough to only work with people I get along with... I’ve seen a few arguments between band members (sometimes totally unrelated to the recording session!) and a lot of my job is to manage the relationships within a band to make sure that things run smoothly. I try to encourage a relaxed attitude in the studio, because I really do think that benefits the session and comes out in the recording.
5) Like in cooking, good quality ingredients and enough time to prepare in, is the best recipe for recording success. Good quality instruments are extremely important. Having good source sounds makes everything so much easier. You can spend time thinking about the song and the arrangement rather than having to troubleshoot a nasty sounding guitar or weak drums. Good time management too - making sure you have enough time to record what you need without having to rush, but also not taking so long that energy and vibe is lost.
6) Experimenting is fun! I think the strangest sound is on a track called Time Capsules And The Greater Truth by Grammatics. There’s a sound which we made by strumming a plectrum across the strings of a grand piano, with the damper down it makes a really cool, eerie sound. I love to reverse things, so I took the sound, reversed it, joined it to the original and hard panned the two so that it sounds like the sound is sucking out of one speaker into the other. There’s also a really low level BOOM! at the tail end of the sound which we did by hitting a floor tom about as gently as is possible (hardly touching it in fact) and then compressing it so hard that all the resonance in the tom came out and just sounded massive. The tom and the piano strings were recorded at the same time in the same room so bleed between the mics really helped add an interesting character, especially after all the reversing and heavy compression. vibrations 36
7) Knowing when to stop fiddling about with something is essential. Sometimes it’s when you know every part of the record is as good as you can make it, or simply when the recording excites you and you don’t want to change anything. Sometimes you can overwork a record and start to lose perspective, in which case it’s always good just to step away from it and come back another day - unfortunately that’s not always possible!
8) Criticism shouldn’t put you down – it should push you on! I think I’m probably my own biggest critic so I don’t have any problem with others offering criticism. In fact, I probably encourage it, without criticism, there’s no motivation to improve.
9) If you enjoy doing something, why stop doing it? I love making records and working with different bands and that in itself keeps me going. I do have ambitions to work with more and more bands and artists and hopefully make as many great records as possible. A studio abroad would also be nice!
10) Get involved, get busy... and get a decent set of speakers. Experience is paramount. Record and work with as many people as possible - and buy yourself a good pair of monitors. I spent a lot of money on compressors, microphones and other fun pieces of equipment before investing in a good pair of monitors - which are the most important part of any studio set up. You need to be able to hear what you’re making accurately otherwise you’re just stabbing in the dark.
(- And finally... how’s the ghost? Ha ha, things have been quiet recently....)
Mopping-up the miscellaneous stuff we’ve been sent that doesn’t fit anywhere else in exactly 20 words from exactly 2 listens. Cats and Cats and Cats – Oh Boy! 1. A Boy Called Haunts:
A truly lovely slice of indie-folk which sounds like Mumford & Sons on a good day, or a vergingon-sober Pogues.
2. The Boy With The Beak:
Some great boy/girl vocal interplay: “I’m not a singer,” he sings. “Well we both know that,” she replies. Cracking tune.
3. A Boy Called Haunts (maybeshewill remix):
6. Haha, That’s Not Anarchy!:
4. Way I Feel:
Moody Gowns – Snakes & Horses
The Finnlys – Love Nor Money
1. Just Another Body In The Snake Pit:
1. Love Nor Money:
Rubbish title aside, a brilliantly perky piece of pop perfection. It’s like Maximo Park at their most jolly, in fact.
Mildly sinister creepiness, with increasingly annoying yelping comedy vocals. This band may possibly have watched too many Mighty Boosh DVDs.
Pointless and inferior remix, so a good time to express dissatisfaction with the annoying and annoying and annoying band name.
2. Misery Guts:
Mascot Fight – Losers Can’t Be Choosers
3. Drink Tea All Day:
The North-East vocal immediately summons the spirit of the Futureheads and Maximo Park; add some Buen Chico and you’re there.
2. Reunion Is A Laugh:
A fantastic, jaunty pop song reminiscing about youth is all good, but this lot sound like they’re only 18 anyway.
3. There’s Something I Ought To Tell You, Emily:
There’s some truly ace stuff on this EP, but this is landfill indie-rock by numbers and hugely forgettable. Boo! Next!
4. Shonan Bellmare:
Probably the only song recorded in the last 25 years for which the Flying Pickets appear to be primary influence.
5. Floodlight Failure:
Hugely lovely Belle & Sebastian detour, with lo-fi prettiness galore. I hope they do more of this, ‘cos it’s ace.
Sounds a bit like Dogs Die In Hot Cars. Isn’t moaning about miserable people just a bit of an oxymoron? Goes a bit Arctic Monkeys here. The title is a sentiment I can identify with – mine’s an Earl Grey, ta.
Spacey, in a Verve-y way. Is the orchestra really dead? Terrifying if so, but a unique selling point I guess.
Indie-boy exhorts us to touch him one last time. Not right now thanks. Has a fantastically dramatic stringladen ending though.
2. Behind Closed Doors:
Wants to be the Last Shadow Puppets, but comes across more like Shed Seven lost in the dressing up box.
3. Love Nor Money (acoustic): Track 1 without the drums and electric guitars, so its inclusion is utterly pointless. Can I go home yet? Please?
These Furrows – Masks
4. Grubby Gnome:
The Dead Orchestra – Force Of Habit EP
What is it with bands putting pointless remixes at the end of their EPs? Makes the opening track even worse.
1. Death Of Me:
Some great strings here, but the result is maybe too much melodrama and not enough substance. TV soundtracks surely beckon.
2. Not The Man:
Weepy tune about his girlfriend leaving him. Pleasant, and destined for success if Snow Patrol are after a spare b-side.
3. Trapped On The Outside: Has a big blustery chorus that would’ve been huge in the late 90s; think Embrace, Cast, Starsailor, Hurricane #1 etc.
A bit metal, a bit math. Mathtal? Not sure I can coin that one. Missing Forward Russia? One for you. More of the same, but with some added screaming. Very atmospheric on record, and probably immense in a live setting.
3. Ten Years:
Concentrating on the changing time signatures can make you forget the song, but this one’s stronger technically than melodically anyway.
“I’ve lost context, I can’t live without meaning.” Blimey… Still, better than a pasty indie-kid asking you to hold him.
W vibrations 38
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Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring The Sunshine Underground, Henry Rollins, Brew Rec...
Published on Mar 1, 2010
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring The Sunshine Underground, Henry Rollins, Brew Rec...