Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire February 2012 Free
Pulled Apart By Horses Club Smith Black Moth
Editorial HCMF Club Smith Pulled Apart By Horses Passport Control Stage to Page Black Moth Matthew Bourne Reviews Live Reviews One for the Road
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Web Editor Mike Price - firstname.lastname@example.org Web Design Sam Hainsworth - email@example.com Advertising Tony Wilby - firstname.lastname@example.org Founded and Published by Tony Wilby - email@example.com Jack Simpson - firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Bart Pettman, Neil Dawson, Rob Wright, Ellie Treagust, Tim Hearson, Steve Walsh, Hannah Cordingley, Simon Lewis, Kate Wellham, Toby Hay, James Beattie, Mike Price, Danny Payne, Chris Ensell, Tom Bench, Alessandra Gritt, Rochelle Massey, Nick Pritchard, Emma Quinlan, Benjamin Maney, Pete Ellis, Greg Elliott Cover Photograph Pulled Apart by Horses By Bart Pettman
Happy 2012 everyone! By now, I am pretty sure that everyone has recovered from the celebration of the changing from one arbitrary number to another and that you are ready and raring to go and see what this here year has to offer, music wise and other wise. There’s the usual round of welcome nostalgic returns (already we have At The Drive In playing Coachella and Soundgarden playing Download – actually I am a bit excited about both of them) so that the completists out there can finally tick off those tricky entries in the I Spy Big Book of Influential Dick Kickers (sorry Tom, I had to nick that term); then there are the new darlings of the media that I will quite frankly not get at all – probably some dullard indie band that make Coldplay look like frigging Motley Crue (it might have already happened, but they were obviously so dull that they haven’t even registered... worryingly subliminal); then there are the bands that have risen so fast that the backlash has started even before their first album – I’m thinking specifically of Lana Del Ray here (whose debut ‘Video Games’ makes for great club singer mockery – you try it, it’s really fun) who has received such a mauling that she must think she’s Roy Horn. And then there are the bands that are getting what’s coming to them, the bands that are about to breakthrough in a big way, and we’ve certainly got our fair share in Leeds. Featured artist Pulled Apart By Horses are now so loved by the BBC that I feel my license fee is going directly to them (not that I mind – they’ve bought me drinks, so they are alright by me), Hawk Eyes are on the brink of setting 4
it off RIGHT NOW, Black Moth have been hanging with Jim Sclavunos for goodness sake.
Pulled Apart By Horses are now so loved by the BBC that I feel my license fee is going directly to them (not that I mind – they’ve bought me drinks, so they are alright by me)
So I guess you’re wondering where Clamp fit into this? Well, I can confirm that we have almost settled our differences (mainly the falling out Bart and I had during The Fight Before Christmas, which nearly resulted in bottlings, stranglings and gougings) and are almost ready to go back into the rehearsal room/studio to record some stuff. Either that or we’ll have another massive argument and have to record the whole thing over smart phones. Yeah, might be best. But amidst all this excitement, I’d like to take a sobering moment to remember Neal Addison, a mainstay of the Leeds music scene for as long as I can remember. He was a champion of local music, getting behind the likes of Middleman and Mother Vulpine right from the off, was a great writer, a sardonic wit and a
keen poker player. It was therefore an absolute shock to all who knew him when he took his life at the end of last year. Neal, you will be missed. I don’t mean to get all maudlin in what is usually me banging on about some stupid old bollocks for seven hundred odd words but please, look out for each other out there – it’s cold, it’s dark and often heart-breakingly miserable. Keep your friends close to you, say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done... just get through this, okay? Before you know it, it will be spring again, Live at Leeds, Leeds festival announcements, British Wildlife, all sorts of mad crap – and sorry, but the world is not going to end. At least, not until after I’ve seen Soundgarden. In late breaking news, I’d also like to thank Ollie and Tom, our designers, who have been absolute legends for the last fourteen or so months but are now passing on the keys to the kingdom – cheers guys, good luck and god speed! Oh, and thanks for finding all those semi- and not so semi-pornographic pictures of Bert and Ernie – Sesame Street will not be the same again... Ed Bert, hitting the ILT Earl Grey in a big way to steady his nerves after watching ‘two muppets, one cup’.
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Now in its 33rd year, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF) has managed to become that rarest of things, a marginal institution. Which is another way of saying it’s an internationally recognised showcase for the cutting edge of new music that barely registers on the cultural radar of the general public. We sent our own trio of chin strokers, Ellie Treagust, Tim Hearson and Steve Walsh, along to take a sample of what was on offer in 2011. Photos by Hannah Cordingley My only experience of Huddersfield previous to the music festival was of Oktoberfest the month before. That, combined with the fact that I am not a lover of contemporary classical meant things were looking a little hazy when I set out for my first HCMF experience. The first concert was Evan Parker’s Electroacoustic Ensemble at Bates Mill. This was also the first event that lied in its event description in the programme. I was not expecting improvised jazz-based noise from the phrase “electroacoustic” I tried so very hard to immerse myself in the piece, to appreciate it or find ANYTHING about it that I really liked but it was pretty thin. The piece begun with the ensemble tapping stones, then progressing onto their own instruments – sometimes not even playing them normally so as to obtain a different sound – but it seemed they did not develop the piece further than that. I found it exceptionally hard to relate to this piece, coming away feeling like I hadn’t seen anything and still not understanding contemporary music. Things improved with ‘from Scratch’, at the Town Hall, a surprisingly impressive venue despite the seats being too low to see the workings of the orchestra. We were treated to five UK premieres, some of which were brilliant, some bizarre and some lacklustre. The bizarre piece involved the Basel Orchestra sitting in the cheap seats behind the stage and performing an improvised piece with household objects. I feel it could have worked better had the orchestra been placed with everyone in the room (this was more an experience for the ears than the eyes), but it strayed pretty dramatically from the conventional orchestra.
The most enjoyable concert for me was with the Nieuw Ensemble, partly because it was in the fantastic venue of St Paul’s Hall. The group performed quite a few pieces, my favourite of which was a “lecture” a few movements towards the end; the conductor addressed the audience directly and began talking us through how the same piece played in many different styles can affect how we receive it. As this was not the end of the concert, we were able to apply this new knowledge to the rest of the music. Wonderfully engaging. Nerve Cell_O was one man (Anton Lukoszevieze), a cello and some insane electronics that sounded like all the souls in Hell when Satan turns up the flames. But it was so immersive! Most were experiencing this with their eyes closed. That said, five audience members walked out. The oldest member (who also refused the complimentary earplugs) was still there at the end, however, and I’m secretly hoping this might be a turning point for
me and contemporary music… Ellie Treagust Elision Ensemble kick off their St Paul’s Hall concert with Einar Torfi Einarsson’s (I love Icelandic names…) ‘Non-vanishing Vacuum State’, a 6 minute romp of clicks and barks and not a traditional ‘note’ in site. One of the most pleasing things about Elision is their selection of badass instruments such as the Bass Flute and Contrabass Clarinet, which, in David Brynjar Franzson’s ‘Types and Typographies’, could only really be described as downright filthy. The highlight though had to be the Salvatore Sciarrino’s ‘6 Capricci (for solo violin)’ which showcased some truly mesmerising violin techniques, especially the delicate harmonics of the 2nd movement. Mark Knoop’s Friday jaunt on the solo piano had some interesting ideas, a few of Xenakis’s more violent piano compositions sandwiched between the likes of Johannes Kreidler’s ‘Klavierstück 5’, a bitchin’
display of live piano and recorded samples pinging about the room - a continuation of where Stockhausen left off and a solid lesson in spacialisation. Especially prominent were the two ‘Piano Hero’ works by Stefan Prins, featuring footage of Prins raping a piano and all manner of noisy fashions hooked up to a keyboard midicontroller, the second occasionally giving us a Knoop eye view of the audience by triggering a camera. Inevitably, all modern piano works begin to resemble the music making of a certain Ross Geller, but the works on display give Knoop more than a fighting chance to prove his worth. Hooked in by the curiosity of the 10-string guitar, one might be disappointed that Anders Førisdal didn’t manage to whack out any hyperflamenco ridiculousness, but Klaus Lang’s ‘Der Blauaugige Fremde’ is apparently just not that kind of piece. What it was was a simple combination of 10-string guitar, E-bow over another acoustic and delay controlled by the man behind the curtain. One of the more soporific works on show, this 40-minute epic did leave plenty of time for the mind to wander and lacked the timbral contrast to drag you back in. The delay was a nice touch and kept you guessing but this seems very much a work in progress. Last up on my list was the Arditti Quartet providing us with a good few hours of Xenakis ‘Name That Tune’. An insanely talented quartet, mixed up with the odd assistance of pianist Ian Pace, they powered through the likes of ‘Tetora’, ‘ST 4’, ‘Tetras’ and a whole variety of pretentiously christened behemoths. What really becomes apparent, though, is what an ear Xenakis actually had – each chordal and microtonal movement of ‘Tetora’ sounded logical and almost natural. The quartet themselves exhibit exceptional glissando coordination where needed and Irvine Arditti’s duet with Pace was truly charismatically delivered. Good vibe from the ensemble, good vibe from the room and an experience you’ve not got a chance in hell of properly getting from a CD. Tim Hearson
At a music festival where just about every musical context could be described as at least being ‘interesting’, it is nevertheless ‘interesting’ to note the growing convergence between the ideas and methods of some modern composers and the more esoteric areas of ‘rock’ music. Take the Italian Icarus Ensemble for instance. With drums, electric guitars, effects pedals and a sampler in their arsenal, they look and sound like your average post-rock band. Their opening concert featured four pieces by young composers that sought to marry the usually conflicting demands of the discipline of composition and the feral looseness of rock music. Leeds based Irish composer Finola Merivale’s ‘Land Way Out of Place’ was perhaps the most successful, despite its clear proggy tendencies. The full Ensemble convened for its second concert the day after, playing a showcase for Italian composer Fausto Romitelli. The opening ‘Trash TV Trance’, a fifteen minute effects and feedback joyride for solo electric guitar, was pitched just right, but the extended ‘Professor Bad Trip’ fell well short of its stated aim to explore the experience of using hallucinogens, a state rock music has much more successfully dealt with. The other ‘interesting’ trend was the ubiquity of theatre and performance art techniques and styles. Pianist Mark Knoop in effect ‘staged’ the world premiere of Trond Reinholdsten’s ‘Opera for Solo Piano’, which utilises video projections, puppets, live sampling and balloons amongst other things to present an entertaining deconstruction of the act of composition and performance.
If this sort of novelty is considered questionable by the classical purists, then Jennifer Walshe’s more extreme musical theatre pieces, performed here by ensemble)h(iatus, must be beyond the pale. All the musicians double up as actors and liberally employ props and devices. The general theme of the performance cast communication almost as a kind of autism, the whole thing having as much to do with Beckettian, or Absurdist, theatre as music. Walshe has a very strong and singular approach to her art and the results are compelling, amusing and at times very moving. Of the more conventional contemporary music on show, musikFabrik’s performance of Rebecca Saunders’ long piece ‘Stasis’ fully exploited the magnificent surroundings of the Town Hall as the ensemble broke up and moved around the theatre to play, while and the final day was dominated by choral and vocal music mainly from featured composer Iannis Xenakis and this year’s Composer in Residence, Bent Sørensen. The Town Hall hosted a programme of Xenakis’s choral works culminating in the dramatic and driven ‘Medea-Senecae’ for full choir and small instrumental ensemble. By contrast, the final concert of the festival featured a much more subdued, even domestic vocal piece by Sørensen, ‘Saudades Inocentes’, with a soprano quartet drawn from the ranks of the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart providing an utterly riveting finale of spectral unaccompanied singing, Sarah Sun’s remarkable solo rendition of Luigi Nono’s ‘La fabbricca illuminata’ providing a fittingly intense climax to the whole festival Steve Walsh 7
Club Smith - Title Fighters Some actions are so brave they stray into the category of daft. Turning your back on a successful band to do something completely different might be one of these actions, but that’s exactly what Club Smith did, as Kate Wellham found out. She also found out a lot more than she bargained for... Photos by Bart Pettman “I started buying these Amazonian berries and colon cleanse. I had to stop the colon cleanse after two weeks because literally I’d be at work and suddenly I’d have to go and crap for about half an hour.” As a demonstration of Club Smith’s dedication to their art, there are more savoury examples to open with than frontman Sam Robson’s pre-video health regime. Sorry if you’re reading this over lunch.
A bit scatological, but we were in need of a bit of balance, because it’s all quite uplifting and inspirational from this point on - almost to the point where you might not believe it. In fact, frequently throughout our chat, Sam would say something deep and meaningful, only to recoil at his own sincerity, apologise, wonder what we must think of him, and then try to rephrase his point in a
“That video was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Sam of the Peep Show style, first-person perspective boxing match that accompanies the single ‘No Friend Of Mine’. “I was about 15 stone last Christmas, and Danny North [NME photographer] took us out for a curry and told us the idea for the video which involved me being in front of the camera as a boxer, and Lee [Clark, bassist] with a camera on his head. I thought ‘there’s no way I’m going to shoot this video when I’m basically a fat bastard’. We were training two times a week, this really intense training, and I was doing exercise between that as well. l lost a stone in five weeks.” Drummer Vijay Mistry was one of the lucky ones: “Danny said ‘there’s no way I’m going to shoot this video with you pretending to know how to box, I need you to know how to box’. These guys went through three months of continuously hard training three or four times a week, and a week before the shoot me and Neil [Clark, keyboards] watched Rocky IV and kind of got the idea.” Sam: “The next video we decided not to even have us in it. Every time there’s a music video I feel like I need to shit my pants.”
as possible, and give us a preview of a couple of songs. It’s beautiful, substantial and emotionally taxing, and there have almost been tears at playback - it’s a life away from how they began. As party band The Hair (2004-2008), they opened a Pandora’s Box of easy wins with their name on it to find a receptive audience, a Radio One Maida Vale session, and national tour supports coupled them firmly to the bandwagon they could potentially ride to commercial success. But, deciding it wouldn’t ultimately fulfil them, they handed it all back graciously before starting from scratch with a project that would. With a new addition in Vijay, doubts about their material, and ‘the worst encore of all time’ in York, by 2008 they didn’t feel The Hair should continue. “We did it at the one time a band wouldn’t be expected to do it,” explains Sam of their decision to call time on The Hair. “It was just after going on tour with the Kaiser Chiefs, which was the biggest thing we’d ever done, and at a time when the Kaiser Chiefs were probably the biggest band in the country.”
way that sounded more casual (“on the precursor that I’m going to be a twat...”), but there’s nothing casual about anything that Club Smith do. We meet them not in the pub but at Soundworks studio in Kirkstall, where they are deep into the recording of their first album with Will Jackson and James Kenosha, and tearing them away from it is a job wild horses wouldn’t even begin to attempt. It’s clearly an intense process but the band are keen to be as hospitable
The band are initially reluctant to talk about their previous incarnation, claiming it has little to do with Club Smith. Considering how tough it is out there trying to balance financial stability and career trajectory with maintaining artistic credibility, any band can justify anything short of lapdancing for Satan if it’ll keep them in the limelight, so their decision was unusual. “There were a lot of people saying ‘this is absolutely ridiculous’ [to quit],” says Vijay, “and we could have just
carried on with it, but it didn’t feel right. There was just such a huge mismatch between what we were writing by then and what we were still playing.” The mismatch was partly due to the band’s naturally growing out of their old material, along with the departure of the original drummer a mere two weeks before their Maida Vale session (at which point James Kenosha stepped in for a while). But one major catalyst for change was a tragedy they couldn’t have predicted. “In 2008 my mum died really suddenly, it was literally within hours” explains Sam. “I don’t mind talking about it now because she was like the best woman ever. With our family, my mum was always the one everyone talked to about everything, so it’s been very hard, still, to adapt but we couldn’t talk to each other about how we felt for quite a long time, so writing songs about it gives you a way of
expressing yourself without burdening anyone.” As you might expect, Sam’s loss impacted not only his personal life but it also impacted his ambitions and his music: “It’s not like you get over it but it becomes easier and it becomes more of who you are after a time. It made me realise that actually all the things that I wanted to do in the old band that I felt were important like playing to lots of people, being successful, having a bit of a status from it, weren’t actually why I started playing guitar. “I was in a band for so long it started to be more about whether we do well or not, and what’s been quite nice about this shift in focus is now I would want us to do really well but in a lot of ways it feels like the job’s done because we’ve put a lot of emotion down in this recording. I’m not going with the cliche that ‘yeah I don’t care whether we’re playing to ten thousand people or ten people’ because that’s
bullshit, every band says that.” Vijay: “Ok, I get to decide, you get to play to ten. Done.” Sam: “Could I not play to the ten thousand?” Vijay: “Nope. You said you didn’t mind, so you get to play to ten. The reason Sam thinks it might sound like bullshit is because whilst we’re familiar with uplifting tales of artists who’ve had their ‘integrity or die’ proclamations severely tested and proven solid - every success story claims to start this way - you just never meet a real one. And certainly not one who was yet to come out the other side with a self-serving retrospective about not being totally insane after all. But Vijay still remembers advertising their first gig as Club Smith: “I remember being very aware that the size of the venue had gone down. I don’t think there was any doubt that we’d done the right thing but it was just like starting again. I don’t think the carry over from The Hair was as big as we hoped.” Not that it mattered who else came along, because they’d each found the only other three people they really needed. “We all balance each other 9
out quite well,” says Sam. “Lee and Neil are brothers, I’m sort of bordering on emo ‘sensitive’, so all my songs sound quite sensitive.” Vijay: “Like Enya” Sam continues: “Lee’s quite into groove-based stuff, the way he plays bass he dominates the songs. I play quite basic guitar because I’m trying to sing and I’m not good enough to do both. And Neil’s quite hip hop, twee sort of sounds, and then Vijay’s quite groove-based.”
“I was in a band for so long it started to be more about whether we do well or not, and what’s been quite nice about this shift in focus is now I would want us to do really well” “It’s quite fun actually when they’re trying to get me to change my drum beat,” says Vijay,”because they’ll go ‘no if you could do BADABADINGBOW... no no BOW’, ‘what, BOW?’ ‘NO NOT BOW’, ‘What are you talking about?’, ‘Let me do it’. Lee’s not bad, you’re terrible, Sam.” With Sam writing all the lyrics (the only part of their song writing process that isn’t collaborative) Club Smith’s first album is heavy with references to his mum, albeit veiled. “There are a few songs on this album that lyrically are about her. There’s one called ‘I Didn’t Want To Show You That I Lost Faith’, about when my nan died and my mum was really affected by it. My mum found that my nan had kept this book that she’d written in every month about things that she was thankful for, things that she was looking forward to, and things that she was hoping for. My mum tried to carry on her tradition, 10
and I tried to do it but I didn’t have the attention span. When we first had it it wasn’t a very good song, but we were recording here and we ended up totally stripping it down and playing it on the piano and just making it up as we went along and it’s become this big swirling, emotional centre point in the album. “Then there’s another one called ‘Green Room’ which is one of the first songs we wrote as Club Smith, about nine months after my mum died, and that’s about understanding grief. The whole idea of a Green Room is a metaphor for a period of grief where you don’t really understand what’s happened and you don’t really understand whether your life is going
to carry on as normal ever again.” Vijay seems genuinely interested to learn exactly what some of the lyrics mean.“It’s good you’ve mentioned ‘Green Room’ because that was quite poignant in the Club Smith story; once we wrote that it almost formed the foundation,” says Vijay. “What I really like about this album - and it’s just really indicative of what we’ve done - there’s not one song on that album pencilled by one person, all of them have been written by us all in the practise room. That definitely makes it feel like it’s everybody’s band.” For more info, tunes, videos and releases, see www.clubsmith.co.uk
Pulled Apart By Horses Band of Brothers I hate the term ‘meteoric rise’ – for a start, it’s a contradiction in terms, but even worse it seems to point to a phenomena that is merely a flash in the pan. So I am not going to belittle Pulled Apart By Horses achievement as they are for life. Or live, as Rob Wright discovered... Photos by Bart Pettman It doesn’t seem long enough when you think about it, but a lot can happen in three years. That was the last time I had a sit down with these guys, in the beer garden of the Packhorse, when they were just starting out. Now Mark Radcliffe is name checking them, The Observer is calling them ‘the best live act in Britain’ and Huey Morgan is calling them up for interviews. “He was out cooled in about a second,” says Tom Hudson, lead singer, of Lee Vincent and his encounter with the Huey-meister. Robert Lee, ‘Horses bass player, points out that Huey is on a pet programme with Lisa Tarbuck, and all that that implies. “He’s still cool though,” insists Lee, drummer, collector of tattoos and incredibly sweet man, “he was like ‘hey Lee, how you doin’?’ and I was all
‘yeah, cheers mate!’” cracking his voice for effect. The four of us are sitting in the Reliance, post rehearsal on their part, having a chat before they hit the road to promote their second album, ‘Tough Love’. Yeah, things have changed... but not as much as you might expect and it’s still all a bit of a shock for them. “We never planned to do anything,” says Tom, quite candidly. “We’ve stepped up the game and made some
plans now because we’ve had a taste.” Lee nods sagely. “When we started, all we saw was doing what a lot of other bands were doing... hopefully get a couple of seven inchers out and do a couple of tours... just be a band - and it seems to have snowballed.” So what started out as a laugh... “Now it’s maniacal hysterical laughter that we can’t stop,” summarises Rob with a smile. The reception to first single ‘V.E.N.O.M.’ has been, to paraphrase Lee, ‘fucking mental’, but it has been the latest in what can be seen as a series of significant and successful steps for them. “The first time we got to play Leeds festival,” says Rob, “that was a real eye opener.” “As a moment I think that was THE turning point for this band,” continues
Lee, “because everything beyond that was different, it was actually ‘this could turn into something’.” Tom still has a sense of incredulity about the whole thing. “I mean you always have simple points like write a few songs, get out there, play a few gigs, then we should do some recording,” he says, “it’s just the steps, isn’t it? It’s all happened really naturally, we’ve only really seen the next step, not five steps ahead.”
“I think if we had done our album and then done Reading and Leeds and then done another tour... we’d have fucking killed each other,” I hate to use the word, but it all sounds very... organic... “And that’s the cool thing,” enthuses Lee, “it’s weird because of the way the industry changes; we probably make progress in the sense of profile that other bands would have made in ten years, but it does reflect adversely on other things like record sales because... nobody really buys records any more to the point they used to.” So it is definitely success, but a different kind of success for a different kind of industry. “15 year old me would have thought we were all rich and lived in mansions,” admits Lee, “The reality is... quite harsh, but I think that means that we’re in it for the right reasons because...” he
pauses, reluctantly, “we could all go and get better jobs tomorrow but we feel we’ve been given this opportunity and we’re doing it for ourselves.” “I think there’s been a direct correlation between how much we appreciate it,” clarifies Rob, “we’ve realised how difficult it is... it’s a privilege to carry on and be a band and being able to pay your rent from it and stuff like that... we never really had aspirations any loftier that that.” Though the myth of the rich rock star has been well and truly quashed, it is clear that the three of them are worried about the rise of a new generation of bands which see making music as nothing but a business proposition. Lee looks visibly saddened by this: “we come from the old school when it comes to attitudes to music – be in a fucking band, go on tour, get records out, do what you got to do – we know it’s a struggle, but we still want to do it – and you get all these 19 year olds going ‘how do you get in this scene?’... it’s almost as if they’ve all got this fucking career plan - just be in a band!” “We’re still struggling with the industry side of it,” says Tom laconically, “It was only last year we were sleeping on people’s floors and stuff... for us now our luxury is getting a Travelodge.” Other national hotel chains are, of course, available. “Another common misconception is that being in a band is constant fun and it’s an easy life... a doss.” Rob thinks about what he’s just said. “And in a lot of ways, it is, but in other ways it isn’t because it’s hard to do something because you care about it because of all the stress you put on yourself.” Tom couldn’t agree more. “Yeah, like playing a certain gig, doing the artwork for it, when you’ve got a video or recording or whatever... all the stress from it you just put on yourself anyway because you want to do the best that you can.” Tough love? Lee laughs. “It was literally two words that sounded good next to each other that Tom came up with and it started
taking on meaning after the fact.” “It suits the album,” says Tom. ‘Tough Love’ is the follow up to their eponymous debut, recorded in Monmouth and produced by Gil Norton, who has worked with all manner of artists from Echo and the Bunnymen to Terrorvision. It’s still as mad as a box of frogs, but shows a definite maturing, content wise. “You realise as you go on that you’ve got responsibilities towards each other in the band and to the people that like your band, who come to gigs or buy your albums,” says Rob of their changing attitude. So it’s more like a family thing? “You take on a new family [with the band],” says Lee, “the first year it was a fucking party, we couldn’t get enough of each other, but now we’ve become a functioning family.” “One big fucked up family,” says Tom. There is a definite feeling that not only is this an album that they are thoroughly proud of, but also that they’re making something for the ages – “Gives you a lot of stories to bore people about when you’re an old man,” says Tom, laughing. For Lee, the album is even more personal as his father plays Hammond Organ on one of the tracks: “the reason I started being in bands was because of the stories he told me. Now the circle is
complete when he came and played on the album because... he’s the reason I’m in a band.” But getting those stories to tell takes its toll, and ‘Horses have been ‘on holiday’ for the last couple of months, on the orders of their management. “I think if we had done our album and then done Reading and Leeds and then done another tour... we’d have fucking killed 13
each other,” admits Lee. Tom laughs uneasily. “I can see that highlighted!” “That’s another thing that’s important about this album,” says Rob, “we’ve got over that hurdle, we’ve proved to ourselves that we are bigger than these inevitable arguments, because we care so much about what we’re doing and not let that destroy us and carry on.” But if being on the road was a challenge, the comedown is no picnic either, as Tom reveals: “I had about two weeks where I didn’t socialise, didn’t go to the pub or see anyone – I just sat at home and watched films because I couldn’t do anything – even Lins I didn’t hang out with and she was at home – I was just numb...” “There’s some of the lyrics on the new album based on that kind of thing,” says Rob, “you kind of trap yourself, in a way, after coming off tour. You just retreat and you want to be on your own, on your own settee.” So it’s a tricky transition? “Two. Fucking. Worlds.” Says Lee, definitively. “I go from being in a band, playing music in different cities and then it’s I’m going to be a dad at home for six months now... it fucked with my head, it really did. You have to learn how to make it work, because that’s life. But it is a double life.” 14
And you’re ready to go back to the other life now? “I’m ready to kick some dicks in,” says Tom with complete sincerity. “We’re all enjoying being in each other’s company again and everybody’s really psyched about playing live again,” says Lee. Joining them on the road again will be the fifth horse (of which there are many), tour manager Dom Ord “He’s like the mother and father,” says Tom. “What’s great about Dom is that as a tour manager, because he was in The Grammatics, he’s seen it from both sides,” adds Rob, “we’ve seen Dom be a total rock star, getting absolutely wrecked because that’s his time, that’s his tour. But because he’d got that perspective he knows the other side of it as a tour manager, he knows exactly how to deal with us.” But don’t you have this new found respect? “We’ve talked a lot about respecting each other but,” Rob shrugs, “we haven’t been on tour for quite a long time so... I’m sure two gigs in we’ll turn into absolute bastards again.” “Speak to us in about a month and we’ll be making as many dick gags as we can,” says Tom. I may hold him to this. But for all of them, playing live is the pay off. “It’s the chemistry in this band and it’s what made us successful in the
first place,” says Tom, “not to make us fantastic or better than other bands, but to me when we play on stage it’s fucking magical. And that’s what makes all the other stuff worthwhile.” And with that we make our way into the freezing night, but I feel a little warmer for knowing that these face-melters are going to be out there, spreading a little insanity to the masses... ‘ Tough Love’ is available from all good record stores and Pulled Apart By Horses will be touring all over Europe in February and March. That’s a lot of face-melting to be getting on with.
The Beat Surrender Presents ... The Well — Chris Helme (Ex Seahorses) with full live band 30th March £8 adv / £10 door Empire — Spotlight Kid 21st February £6 adv / £8 Door — Among Brothers 5th June £6 adv / £8 door
The Northern Monkey — Mr Fogg 26th February £2 door — The Frank & Walters 16th March £4 adv / £5 door Milo — Bleech 24th February £4 adv / £5 door
All tickets available from Jumbo Records, See Tickets and Wegottickets
Passport Control King Creosote It had been rumoured that our illustrious Yorkshire border control had been discontinued due to public spending cuts – you should be so lucky! Not when such cheeky young Hibernian scamps like this fence-themed monarch are about! We sent agent Ellie Treagust to give him the old ‘latex glove welcome’…
What is the purpose of your visit? I’ve come here to play the City Varieties Music Hall with Jon Hopkins and Withered Hand. Are you travelling alone? No. Jon Hopkins and his butler Cherif are somewhere up ahead, Captain Geeko the Dead Aviator and Withered Hand are back there with the baggage and the car keys ... yes, I suppose I am.
and then there’s that one time I went to a comedy club whilst passing thru’ town with a friend whose rabbit George humps a small football. You can have that if ever you need inspiration for a new city slogan. Do you have any family here? None whatsoever. Whenever I’m in town I just play “football”, without the rabbits.
Did you pack your bags yourself? Of course. By this point in the tour there’s only dirty pants & socks to pack.
How long do you plan to stay in Yorkshire? 19 hours.
Have you been here before? More than thrice. Playing gigs mostly,
How long does the tour last? It ends right here in Leeds.
Any liquids or sharp objects? Yes please - I’ll have a lager shandy with a cocktail umbrella. Are you familiar with the local dialect? Is this an “a’raiyt doughk” town? No then. Anything else to declare? Whenever I’m in Yorkshire or Lancashire I always bring up the War of the Roses. I’m sorry, it’s just nerves. Thank you, your highness. You may now pass through passport control.
Stage to Page Tomorrow We Sail Never let it be said that Vibrations writers aren’t willing to go where no muso journo has gone before. The intrepid Tim Hearson braves ‘a house near Hyde Park’ to talk to Leeds based postrock folk (or post-folk rock) Tomorrow We Sail post gig at... a house near Hyde Park. Watch out for the glass-topped coffee table, Tim! Photo by Toby Hay and James Beattie
So whose idea was this whole shindig? This one in particular was Al and Angela from Tomorrow We Sail, but it really came about because of the last ones we’ve done. It started a few years ago in an old place we had up near the Uni which had a really big basement. There don’t seem to be that many people doing house shows, in the UK especially and certainly up in Leeds. Obviously it’s dependent on the kind of music you’re playing.
sound it’s stripped bare a bit more so obviously a bit more nerve-racking. Much more intimate than the usual pub gig. Was it difficult to strip back your sound? Not so much actually, it’s been nice with the kind of setup we have – we are a bit of a post-rock band, no denying it – that we can get the colours of all the stuff we write. Even though it might not be written as such, it can be taken down to the bare
How does Tim (Paper Beat Scissors, fellow house gig-ists that night) fit into all this? We played with Tim in winter last year when he came over for his last tour and he said it was one of his favourite shows so we decided when he next toured over here we’d definitely do it again. Any more handy connections? We’re really good friends with Rich from Gizeh Records who we were living with so we had lots of artists coming through from Europe and abroad and stuff so there were always good opportunities there for us to take that on. How many strangers have you let through your gates then? I don’t know everyone, but that’s still kind of nice – you still know it’s going to be a safe crowd. Obviously, Tim (an ex-Burnley resident) has some friends coming over from Lancashire and Manchester. It’s nice because there’s a lot of friends here I’ve not seen in a while. A room full of friends must make a nice change? I was way more nervous, I’m always more nervous playing to people I know really well, even though they’ve heard it loads of times before. I still really enjoyed it though. I think as well, in terms of our 18
bones either on a piano or equally on an acoustic guitar. So even if it’s not with the full sound, it’s good to strip it down to just the song then build it back up a little bit, jamming it around to see what fits. Any influences on that score? I’m a massive fan of Hernameiscalla, I’ve sound engineered for them once or twice and they’re a really interesting band, really talented. It’s great to hear what they’re doing at the minute with a more stripped back, acoustic sound. Best gig of 2011? I thoroughly enjoyed our gig supporting Vessels at The Library – always been a big fan, I used to work behind the bar at the Mixing Tin when they played their first ever gig. Aside from that we’ve always sort of struggled on the Leeds scene a bit – definitely something we’re going to try for this year is getting some
bigger support slots and trying to break in there a bit more. We’re a bit limited, what with all the instruments and trying to get everyone there, as to what venues we can play but then that’s why stripping it down is a really nice option. Where will you be sailing to soon, if not tomorrow? We’re hopefully going on tour in Europe which might make getting shows a bit easier, maybe a few house shows along the way. A couple of releases in the pipeline, we’re going to release another single, so to speak, of one of our new tracks but it’s clocking in at about 14 minutes at the moment so we’re going to see how that goes down. Then there’ll be another EP around summer time and then Europe in October for a couple of weeks. And a final token seasonal question – any New Years resolutions? Maybe to have a slightly bigger New Year than I had this year which involved a few glasses of whiskey and watching a DVD about Morris Dancing – and I’m not ashamed to say it. ‘The Way of the Morris’ it’s called, so if you fancy doing something a bit different... Tomorrow We Sail’s single ‘The White Rose’ is available to download from their website www.tomorrowwesail. co.uk, and as for Morris Dancing... well, I was always told that there are two things in life you shouldn’t try. One of them was Morris Dancing...
Leeds Fringe Year 3 August 2012
www.leedsfestivalfringe.org More news soon... 19
Black Moth Moths and Legends The New Year is upon us and it’s time to look forward and take 2012 by the scruff of the neck. So eternal optimist Mike Price tracks down two people who are also starting this year with grand plans, Harriet and Jim, singer and guitarist repectively in Leeds rock and roll quartet Black Moth. They’ve recently been signed to New Heavy Sounds and have a new album in the can that’s so fresh it’s still without a name. Fingers on buzzers... Photos by Danny Payne
MP: Black Moth have been labelled ‘The perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.’ Harriet: I like that one. MP: What was your recent Halloween Gig like here at Milo? Harriet: It was messy on all accounts, fantastic in fact, the perfect Halloween gig. We played in here (downstairs) and it was absolutely packed, with sweat dripping off the walls, the most fun kind of gig we can play really. We were a little bit rushed leading up to it and worried as we weren’t sure we’d have decent enough costumes or an act for the Halloween thing. Then our bassist in his infinite wisdom turned up on our doorstep with these incredible outfits for us to wear that he’d made himself - we had these amazing satanic monks’ robes to wear for the gig. Very good fun! Jim: Yeah it was brilliant. MP: When did you first start playing together? 20
H: James and I have known each other since we were thirteen and we were writing music together back then. We’ve always been in bands of some description ever since. We managed to properly get a band together (The Bacchae) when we started Uni and Dave joined us soon after that. MP: What were the first tunes you learned together?
Black Moth have been labelled ‘The perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.’
J: Our first gig we ever played was a charity gig in Harlow (which is where we were from) and we covered Nirvana’s ‘Blew’, ‘Opiate’ by Tool and ‘Sheela-nagig’ by PJ Harvey. H: Those songs we played then we still love now. Basically we always wanted to be in a band like The Stooges. J: That first gig also included one song we’d written; we were early songwriters. MP: What bands influenced you? H: Obviously metal bands helped shape who we were and we progressed from that and our psychedelic garage roots. J: I think of us as a hard rock band with loads of influences. The first songs I wanted to be able to play were by bands like Nirvana, but they led me to other bands including The Melvins. We’re also massive fans of The Smiths and early pioneers of the hard rock sound like the Stooges and Blue Cheer. H: PJ Harvey is just amazing,
incredible. She has a fierce attitude that’s always appealed, a really intelligent woman, an amazing songwriter, someone I really respect. MP: How did Black Moth come about? H: Whilst in the Bacchae, we started to write some heavier songs like ‘Howl at the Moon’ and ‘She Kissed a Gun’ and enjoyed playing them live much more, realising that’s where our interests were going. Also when Dom joined the band, his style complemented these songs and suddenly we realised that this was what we wanted to do, so it seemed like the right time to rein it all in and start again. That’s why we changed (to Black Moth). J: It began to feel like, we’re all down to earth people and we wanted to be in a rock and roll band and having a name like the Bacchae....... we didn’t want to be aloof. H: Black Moth is a (Tennessee Williams) poem I’ve always loved and if you knew nothing else about our band, the name sounds like us I think. MP: Do you still play Bacchae songs live? H: We sometimes play ‘Howl at the Moon’ which is loads of fun to play live. It’s kind of a crowd pleaser. MP: Being scattered around, does that hinder rehearsal time? H: I spend half the week in London and half the week in Leeds which is a bit nuts but it’s good to have a double life. J: We live permanently in Leeds so we get together regularly although December has been a bit of an off month. H: I personally can’t stand it if we’re not practising regularly. It’s really important
to be constantly talking about it (the band), keeping the dialogue going and staying excited. MP: How do you write and record? J: We kind of write individually. Harriet will have themes and lyrics she’s come up with herself and me or Dom might come up with a guitar riff or Dave might come up with a bass riff and we go from there. H: It’s a very open process. All of our songs seem to be written in different ways, someone will throw something into the melting pot and we’ll just thrash it out in practise. There’s not one song that one person comes up with on their own. Songs take shape with a bit of everyone in them.
MP: Breakdowns aside, what was last spring’s Germany tour like? H: It was absolutely brilliant. Even time spent on the side of the Autobahn is better than time at work. We met the most incredible people and there were some really brilliant places we played and they looked after us so well. The crowds were totally different in Germany. J: It’s a really good experience for a young band to just go on tour. These days it’s really difficult to survive just being a band and not work which makes if difficult sometimes to feel like you ARE in a band. So instead we get to go to Germany for two weeks and say this is us, this is what we do. MP: How did you end up signing to New Heavy Sounds? H: We played one of their monthly club night gigs they put on in London. J: Paul Cox (co-founder of New Heavy Sounds) saw our video of ‘Thirteen’ and invited us to play so we did our first gig for whilst still as The Bacchae. We then released our first Black Moth single on High Magick which Paul (Cox) heard and really liked. H: We went down and played a gig for them and they liked what we were doing, so we sent them some demos and then did a split single ‘Spit Out
Your Teeth’ with their own band XM-3a. Off the back of that they decided to do an album with us. It’s been a brilliant pairing because they really support what we’re doing and we’ve complete autonomy to do whatever we want. They’ve also got a lot of expertise to bring and they put us in touch with Jim Sclavunos. MP: How did you come to meet Jim Sclavunos? J: Paul is a bit of an industry veteran. His Too Pure label was the first to put out PJ Harvey. So Paul knew Jim’s wife from back in the day and he sent her our tracks. She was listening to them on her laptop when Jim overheard. H: We were so excited at the prospect of working with Jim because of his musical heritage, just to learn from him. The minute we started talking to him we knew that he was totally on it and totally with us. He spent so much time with us and made us question everything we were doing and brought a totally fresh look, from the arrangements to my lyrics and told us “You’ve got this opportunity, be as good as you can be”. He really cracked the whip but it was great, we all knuckled under and we all feel like better musicians for it. He really knew how to get the best out of us and made us question things that would inspire us to be more creative. Working with him has meant that we’ve got sounds on the album we wouldn’t have dared to do,
so we’ve made a fun and strange and interesting album and not just a typical heavy rock record. J: We just knew that he’d have the same kind of attitude and be on the same wavelength as us. He has been brilliant to work with and kind of has become part of the band. We had him up to our practise room in Armley He said we reminded him of the bands from his misspent youth. It was challenging but we feel we rose to that because of his wealth of experience. The album sounds like it could have been 21
influenced by Grinderman as we’ve got Jim playing fucked up cowbells and things like that. We’ve taken Black Moth’s hard rock sound and done some interesting things with it. MP: Do you get nervous before a gig? H: Not any more. Don’t get nervous, get drunk, that’s my motto. J: We’ve been doing it so long. MP: What advice would you give to other bands starting out? H: If you’re doing it to be rich or famous then quit now. I have so much respect for any band who put their all into it, whether I like the sort of music they’re making or not because I know it’s such hard work. The high of being on stage
live is enough to keep you going it because it’s brilliant and it’s what we’re all there for. J: It’s not easy but if you give a shit you’ve just got to do it. MP: Name a current band that excites you? H: The doom band ‘Sunn’ are incredible, just a big heavy drone noise. We saw them at ATP, probably the darkest thing I’ve ever seen. MP: What’s the next band you’re planning to see live? J: They’re doing a one off ATP gig in London with Slayer, Sleep and The Melvins. H: The Melvins are probably the best
live band I’ve ever seen.............maybe joint with The Stooges. MP: What are plans for 2012? J: More than anything we want to tour once the album’s out. Hit the road and take it to people. H: Now that we’re working with the label this will hopefully give us the opportunity to play some festival slots. We’ll be touring the UK and hopefully playing Europe again. Keep up with Black Moth on www. themothpit.co.uk where they may or may not announce the title of their new album soon...
Matthew Bourne Finding the Bourne Identity Improviser; jazzer; metalist – Matthew Bourne is a man of many hats and and has worked with many folk, but now he is going it alone, musically and (possibly) geographically. Steve Walsh coaxes some choice words out of him before he gets his motor running and heads out on the highway... Photos by Chris Ensell
Pianist and composer Matthew Bourne has a lot on his plate just now. His debut solo album, ‘Montauk Variations’, is released on Leedsbased label Leaf on 7th February, with an album launch gig to prepare for in London on 15th February; in March he takes up a six-week residency in the Chinese city of Xiamen as part of a British Council organised cultural exchange for innovative British musicians; the previous day he travelled to London and back to play a gig at London’s famous Vortex jazz club, getting back to Leeds at 3:00am. And to top it all, today he has a stinking cold and conjunctivitis, and he thought the interview was tomorrow.
Bourne is a serial collaborator so the new album represents quite a departure. How did it come about? “I’d broke up from a long term relationship in 2008 and spent that year being pretty lost, and I had a gig in New York with this guy, Franck Vigroux, who I’ve since worked with quite a lot. So I had some time there and wondered what I could do with my time and I was looking on a map and I saw that Montauk was the last point on Long Island. I’m always drawn to places that are a bit off the beaten track, a bit isolated. I find isolation quite addictive. So it took three hours to get there, and there’s nothing there! I ended up on this pebbly beach and I just sat for four, five hours in the same spot and, I dunno, something
happened, and I got back to this place I was staying in Brooklyn and got on the computer and I wrote it all out. I wrote ‘Montauk Variations’, I wrote how many tracks I wanted, what the vibe was, I knew I was going to do a cover of a Charlie Chaplin tune, I knew roughly how long I wanted it to be. But after that I had ideas about using samples and text and speech and I had these grand designs that is was going to embody the ‘pain’ and ‘solitude’ and ‘heartbreak’ and all the things I’d been through. But when it came to the recording it had nothing to do with these abstract concepts…that just seemed like bullshit. It had come to be more to do with Englishness, with teachers that had influenced me, people that had influenced me”.
So the album turned out to be how you originally wrote it out? “Bizarrely, yes! I couldn’t have imagined the exact music that’s on there now but certainly a sensibility, an atmosphere was what I wanted. And after all the ideas about text and speech, I think I’d worked out what I didn’t want and to end up with me just playing the piano was kind of what it was all about.” Originally from Avebury in Wiltshire, Bourne graduated from Leeds College of Music (LCM) in 2001 but stuck around to do some teaching there himself, eventually completing a PHD at Leeds University. Since then, he’s developed a wide range of stylistically diverse projects and bands that reflect his own mercurial and restless character. Many of these draw on the equally singular talents of other graduates of the LCM jazz course, including the fairly straight improvising jazz trio Bourne, Davis, Kane and the must-be-seen-and-heard-to-bebelieved pile-driving metal of The Bilbao Syndrome. Further afield, Bourne has developed strong links in the French jazz and improvised music scene, playing in an experimental electronics/ noise duo with Franck Vigroux and various projects with saxophonist and composer Laurent Dehors. Would you describe yourself as a classical, jazz or rock musician? “Well, I’m certainly not classically trained. My teacher, George Sidebottom, was really patient and could see that I was really hungry and had an appetite for it and he would just help me but he never made me do piano practice. He was more of a mentor and I certainly got a massive love of classical music from him. As far as jazz goes, when I went to college I loved Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans and I thought ‘Yeah, I’m going to be a jazz pianist’. But then I got side tracked by Joni Mitchell, the British free improv
scene and contemporary classical composers, so I never really perfected any of those traditional jazz skills. I think to an extent I could bluff it…”. So where does The Bilbao Syndrome fit in? “I got into bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah, or math rock stuff, Battles too. And I thought ‘I can do this!’ I love the energy and the precision. It was all about creating something with an edge to it. I believed that the energy we all had that we put into improv could be channelled into that kind of thing as well.” Do you think people are generally becoming more open to listening to different styles of music? “Yeah. Having inhabited a lot of situations in the jazz scene, there’s always this problem of identity and genre. Most of the people I know, no-one’s concerned with the style of music they’re making or playing. They just care about making music. I did a gig at Café Oto (in London) two years ago and I was really scared because it was a gig that a lot of DIY bands were playing at, bands like Kayo Dot and Defibrillator, I was supposed to play the memory moog, it was broken, so I did this solo gig using the sampler and they [the audience] really responded to it. And I got them all singing along to John Malkovitch singing ‘What the fuck’ from Burn After Reading. And I just came to the conclusion that I’d been playing to the wrong audience for years! I went there with preconceptions, I just thought they were going to hate this jazzer with his funny samples and stuff. It turned out to be amazing. And I think I had fallen into the trap of viewing what I did as only being able to be presented within the context of a jazz festival or a jazz
venue. And when I did that that’s when I realised I can do my thing in other situations, but I just needed to find a way to do that. And working with Leaf is one of the ways I can, not change my music, but the way it’s presented, you know, by putting it into the focus of another audience who might not know my work because they don’t go to jazz clubs.” The Bourne/Leaf link up is due to last for some time as the pianist plans a series of releases that document his development as a musician and composer. “The opportunity to work with Leaf turned out to be very important. The other year I thought ‘These guys over the hill, why aren’t I taking advantage of this?’ So, I had a few meetings with Tony (Morley, Leaf label founder) and discussed what I wanted to do. I just want to put a bit more thought into things. I’ve been doing so much work in France, I’ve been making a living, but I haven’t been doing anything of my own and I don’t want to look back in ten years time and think, ‘What have I been doing?’” Bourne has used a number of keyboard instruments extensively in the past (a Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, samplers) which have certainly helped to shape his music, but not in ways that some critics have found attractive. “Whenever I caught myself being a bit romantic or a bit melodic I’d destroy it immediately with a sample or say ‘No, no, I can’t do that!’ basically because I thought other people could do that so much better than me. I think I’d always used samples and hidden behind that and used it as a bit of a crutch.” 25
The epiphany that lead Bourne to address this tendency happened on a European tour. “There was a gig I did in Czech Republic where I’d reached the end of the line, like I was wheeling this thing [the sampler] out for the sake of it. I’d only played for forty minutes and my internal clock is usually very good, I can tell when I’ve done 50 minutes or an hour. For the first time I was lost and I really didn’t enjoy it at all. For me I felt like I was going through the motions and it was time to stop using the sampler. As I was saying before about when I play something melodic or a nice chord and then I just smash it up with something violent or something funny with the sampler or whatever. And I think it was, I didn’t want to show that side of my playing because of my insecurity, because I didn’t feel I was a good enough player to be doing any of that kind of stuff that’s on there [Montauk Variations]. If I caught myself doing it I would have to stop. Because I would think that’s not who I am. I’ve got to be this weird, avant garde thing. So out of insecurity I’ve stayed away from doing purely solo piano simply for the reason that I thought I wasn’t good enough.” It is 26
a bit of an exposed position. “Yeah, Yeah. But now I just don’t give a shit! I’m just going to go and do it…” As a product of LCM, what impact does Bourne think the college has had on music in the city? “It’s certainly produced loads of great players over the years, and people have been attracted to Leeds because of the teachers who were there. It’s where I met all of the people I now work with and play with, and it’s been a real melting pot for loads of people to get together and put on their own gigs. And we did the whole LIMA (Leeds Improvised Music Association) thing where we were putting on our own gigs and we thought ‘let’s pool it together and get some money and funding together’. We’re all now doing other things so far apart, but the LIMA banner is still floating about out there. And the younger guys there now are still doing that, putting on their own gigs. I just think that over the last ten years a lot of innovative music has come out of it, so I think in that respect it’s been very important.” Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Is that a question you can answer? “I don’t think I can! I’ve
still got ideas about doing a few projects and see how things go, and fucking off around the world on a motorbike! Honestly, that’s a very real possibility for me. My teacher George (Sidebottom) said a very profound thing, in the last lesson I had with him. He said that he ‘got satisfaction that I’ve helped….whatever number of people to learn an instrument, but it’s more than that. Whatever the reason is that people come to me to study music, even if they give it all up and never play again, even if I can’t teach them to be great players, I can teach them to be expert listeners, and they will have that in their lives, for all of their lives’. He said that was the most important thing that he did. And that is such a beautiful thing.” Steve Walsh Keep track of Matthew and his album’s progress on http:// matthewbourne.com, www. theleaflabel.com and www.lcm. ac.uk... Might be a bit trickier if he gets that bike...
Albums Honour Before Glory – This Is Broken Lines (Self release) Everyone’s heard of Whiskas, right? Good, then I’ll begin. This would be Whiskas’ first outing under the name Honour Before Glory, a project that has been a good two years in the making and features contributions from a number of pleasing Leeds stalwarts – Fran Rodgers, Sam Airey and James Kenosha to name but a few. Building on the Indie pedigree that Whiskas has accumulated over the past decade, ‘This Is Broken Lines’ sees him showing a bit of leg in the production/ composition department. Soundwise then, what are we dealing with?: A smashing blend of Editors-style lead lines, fleshy, pulsating synths and a couple of grunge-worthy guitar riffs. While very much a mid-tempo indie album, it draws on the post-rock/electronic bag o’ tricks to pull its punches. ‘Forever’ has subtle hints of almost Wild Beasts-ian beats trickling in the background but ‘Lions’ is really the productive pinnacle of what Whiskas seems to be going for with its vibrant tremolo intro and panned beats. ‘Truely’ has a thoroughly grungy feel and exemplifies the kind of variety we’re dealing with. 28
If I was to take issue with anything on the album, it would be the lyrics. This is schoolboy song writing, even with the carefully arranged vocals (there’s a gorgeous vocal harmony bit in ‘This Is Shattered Light’). I can’t help but feel that Whiskas has dragged out the cliché playbook and the vocal delivery never quite seems to match the lyrical content. That’s a side issue though, as for the casual listener there’s a shit-ton of enjoyment to get out of it. A worthy first outing with big sounds, beefy beats and a variety that takes you from Mogwai to Trent Reznor in a matter of seconds. Tim Hearson Available to buy from http:// honourbeforeglory.bandcamp.com/ — Cruyff – Cruyff (Self release) Aiming, as they have stated, to use krautrock and shoegaze as a starting platform, Cruyff have weaved numerous influences into their initial endeavour at this whole music thing. Although it is immediately digestible, this collection is also a slow-burner, as you begin to remember each track’s riff from play to play of the album. There are some vocals here not a million miles away from something Ian Curtis may have done, and this gives the music a sophisticated (and disenchanted) sense slightly beyond its current development, yet there is still very much a polished sound here that could very much become their own. Currently it is hitting the krautrock mark, though not quite achieving the original sound I believe they want, but tracks one through three definitely find the motorik beat so prevalent in the likes of Neu! and Electralane.
As their name suggests, they manage to make a complete Cruyff turn at track four, ‘Sunblast’, which fails to meet the decent level they had found earlier in the album, but they regain it with the last number, ‘Coming up for Air’, a ten-minute long piece that crescendos suitably towards the end, making the listener hear the music instead of it sinking into the background as this kind of music can so frequently do. Ellie Treagust — Love of the Brave – Love of the Brave (Ata Music) Essentially a vehicle for the song writing duo of singer and lyricists Fuzzy Jones and multi-instrumentalist Neil Innes (er…no, not that one), Love of the Brave appear, at least superficially, to be a rather eccentric attempt to recreate the sound and style of the kind of late 60’s psychedelic folk perpetrated by the likes of Fairport Convention or Dr Strangely Strange. They even go to great pains to make the CD case look like a grubby and well-thumbed reel to reel tape box (ask your granddad). So what’s the point? Well, initially there doesn’t seem to be much of one, outside of Jones and Innes realising some kind of fetishized retro tech fantasy. The first three tracks, ‘The Untold Story of The Love of the Brave’ (eh?), ‘Hey Girl’ and ‘Les Champs De L’amour’, seem to be hobbled by the duo’s desire to evoke their chosen era. However, it all starts to get rather interesting after that as nothing less than the spirit of late 60’s British jazz begins to ooze out of everything. ‘Dusted Off’ has a great folk/jazz hybrid swing and a really meaty, soaring tenor sax work out in
the coda from Tony Birkhill; ‘Infidel’’s sultry passages are punctuated by a huge rolling riff driven by a brass fanfare and massed choir; and best of all, ‘Heron’ is a dreamy, almost post coital ten minute bathe in music that effortlessly transcends any kind of limitations that jazz or folk may want to put on it. A real curates egg this one. There’s some utterly stunning music here but you have to weed out the dry 60’s tribute chaff to get to it. Steve Walsh
Matthew Bourne – Montauk Variations (Leaf Records) This release marks a significant departure for Bourne for several reasons. Key among them is that as his first solo album it marks a departure from his usual collaborative working methods and signals a growing self confidence in his abilities. Potentially more significant is the fact that the album is the first in a series of planned releases for Leaf that Bourne sees as being a vehicle for his own musical and artistic development, and totally separate from his work in collaborations. What this first instalment provides is a series of sixteen conceptually and thematically linked piano and cello improvisations that certainly allow space for Bourne to explore his otherwise largely hidden (or even deliberately sabotaged) contemplative lyricism, but which also manage to provide a showcase for the full
range of his hugely creative musical imagination. So, while ‘Infinitude’ is built on a beautiful and sublimely slow chord progression, ‘Within’ has Bourne vigorously exploring the guts of his piano and ‘Abrade’ is made of tuneful scraping and plucking of piano string. Whatever style is employed, the result is nothing less than beautiful.
The Air Was Thick – Prototype 1.0 (Self release) I can’t put my finger on it, but something about this record makes it really fucking great. First listens leave you under the impression that you’ve just endured another grunge record, then you listen a bit closer and realise that there’s actually a ton of innovative stuff in there.
It’s possible that Montauk Variations will be looked back on as key work in Bourne’s development, so now may be a good time to join him on his journey. Steve Walsh — Patsy Matheson – Stories of Angels and Guitars (Proper Music) Where are all these female singer songwriters coming from? Not that I’m complaining, they’ve given me too much listening pleasure for that. This time it’s Otley’s Patsy Matheson, one part of local folk quartet Waking the Witch, whose second solo effort is a proper DIY affair with almost all vocals and instrumentation undertaken by herself on these ten tracks, all self-penned too.
Firstly, the vocals largely sound like they’ve been recorded through a Tannoy system in a Cathedral. For anyone who’s a sucker for great lyrics, this is probably a blessing in disguise – ‘The Air Was Thick’ seem to be shooting for the more obscure end of Matt Bellamy’s lyrical back-catalogue but some of it reads like Japanese poetry or, you know, generic lyrics of any genre suffixed with ‘-core’. Melodically though, hooks from songs like ‘Null Dynamo’ and ‘System Gel’ are catchy as hell.
Sonically it’s pretty sparse and dreamy throughout as vocal and acoustic strings dominate proceedings. Embellishments are used sparingly but when extra hands are called to the pump, a second vocal, a smattering of double bass or a brief timbre of percussion, the results are usually favourable. The pace is unhurried rather than ponderous and the songs seems heartfelt without being twee or self-indulgent. This is someone who has clearly spent time honing her trade and the results here are accomplished and should stand up nicely when played live.
The first hint that you may be dealing with something a bit more interesting comes two thirds of the way through opener, ‘Cast Fracture’, when, cutting through the repetitive backdrop of fuzz-laden guitar lines, comes a juicy synth line. The occasionally saucy chord changes and masterful shifts in mood are not what you’d expect from a grunge/punk setup either. Soundwise, think of The Antlers gone punk with a bit of chillwave thrown in. I’d be loath to pigeonhole this one though, as variety abounds in the first track alone. Admittedly, it’s not without filler – last track ‘Mute City’ seems a
Highlights include the opener ‘Under Your Wing’ building nicely from a simple vocal to soaring harmonies. The more upbeat ‘Water Over the Weir’ is brought spectacularly to life by a lilting mandolin that properly gets under your skin, and closing number ‘Sylvia Jean’ tells a haunting story of love and loss. Mike Price — 29
bit dense and repetitive, but I’ve yet to mention the best part: The album is currently available free from their website. Tim Hearson Available as free download from http://theairwasthick.bandcamp.com/ — I Like Trains – This Skin Full of Bones (I Like Records) Odd one this. The press release admits this double CD and DVD package ‘marks the end of I Like Trains’ ‘He Who Saw the Deep’ album campaign’ and it does have the sound and feel of an ‘odds and ends’ release designed to mop up material left over from the Pledge campaign that enabled the band’s last album to see the light of day. So what do you get? Well, the CD features four ‘He Who…’ tracks recorded live at Leeds venue The Left Bank, plus the three non-album tracks from the ‘Sirens’ single release, plus the two remixes of ‘Sirens’ that were only made available on a limited basis when the single was released. The DVD features a visual record of The Left Bank recordings (although as far as I can tell it’s edited footage) along with the videos for ‘A Father’s Son’, ‘Sirens’ and ‘Sea of Regrets’. So is it worth your hard earned moolah? Well, the live recordings have a languid charm but lack the tension and drive of their recorded versions, and their video versions seem dry and oddly drained, and the existing videos of the ‘He Who…’ tracks can easily be obtained elsewhere. Which leaves you with the really quite wonderful remixes of ‘Sirens’ and the mystery of why they left the marvellous ‘A Kingdom You Deserve’ off the album in the first place. A release for uber fans only I reckon. Steve Walsh 30
Wednesday Club – So Claw/Sour Crow (Cath ‘n’ Dad’s records) This double album is the fourth and certainly the most ambitious long player from this Leeds based trio. This time, they’ve also brought the cavalry with them in the form of eight additional musicians. Messrs Perry, Broady and Miller are really trying to push the boat out here as So Claw and Sour Crow each contain ten short, sharp nuggets combining bright power pop, deranged post rock, kitchen sink indie and wistful folksiness, mostly to notable effect. However, ‘Wet’ opens the first half a little inauspiciously, perhaps a little over seriously, probably too much jangly guitar and not quite enough urgency leaving you trying to work out what’s missing. You needn’t worry though, as the much better ‘Fire Escape’, ‘Japanese Capillaries’, and ‘Rat Facts’ follow in quick succession, all strangely alluring, a little unhinged and with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Anne Marie Hurst – Day of All Days Call it intuition, call it ingrained cynicism, but something tells me this might be a bit goth... not cyber goth, baby goth or techno goth, just goth – black lace, red roses and low lighting. Which suggests that it might be a bit anachronistic and a tad indulgent. The off key scream and well worn riff that open ‘Set Me Free’ give me the sinking feeling of being right, painfully right. It’s a bit like listening to ‘Warriors of Genghis Khan’ without the laughs. ‘Lost in Munich’ follows suit, throwing some heavy handed rhymes into the mix, though ‘Hurricane Party’ lightens the mood a bit with some self affirming upbeat rocking. About then something weird happens.
I must confess that, though this is by no means a great piece of work, ‘Dollars Drip Blood’ is making me feel very nostalgic... it’s almost as if I’m buying All About Eve’s album from that little record shop off Princes Avenue in Hull, rushing home, putting it on and listening to ‘Every Angel’ over and over again and feeling Sour Crow continues the eccentricities moody... yes, a bit indulgent, but that’s with ‘She Eats Brains’ and there’s what I wanted. It makes me realise sadly a more up tempo feel to the inward that I might have grown up. ten songs, most markedly on ‘Plank’, where our trio exclaim in the closing There are rock clichés aplenty here and bars ‘We’re about as punk as a Anne Marie Hurst really needs to throw plank of wood!’. You get plenty more out the rhyming dictionary and STOP erudite lyrics throughout and with screaming but there are moments timely smatterings of retro keyboard, when she taps into that old goth vein fuzzy guitar, and brass to keep you that make me want to backcomb what interested, you begin to picture a Tom remains of my hair, dab on the patchouli Sharpe novel in a double album - very and do Le Phono two step one last English, drawing on many influences, time. Perhaps with a little more self but nevertheless managing to sound control and less indulgence... or the unique. A real grower. complete opposite... Mike Price Rob Wright Available as a free download from http://thewednesdayclub.org/ —
Singles & EP’s
trio VD – X (Naim Edge) Four tracks of the kind of wild, pulverising jazz/metal this outfit positively excel at. Opening track ‘Tulisa’ is a careering collage of clattering drums, grinding guitar and howling sax; ‘Walsh’ (no relation) is perhaps the most conventional thing here, being as it is a vehicle
for an extended Coltranesque tenor solo from saxophonist Christoph de Bezenac; ‘Barlow’ is frantic and jittery with an ecstatic, blazing metallic chorus (and bizarrely includes a nod to Take That); ‘Kelly’’s ambient crescendo is perhaps the most restrained thing here but still oozes tension. Bloody marvellous. Steve Walsh — Tiny Planets – The Trick Is To Keep Breathing (Philophobia) Wakefield seems to have developed and affinity with 90’s American indie that is almost frightening in its intensity. This is either a very good thing, in that it’s bound to provide a fertile base from which to build, or potentially a very bad thing in that you know exactly what to expect before the band has played a note. Fortunately Tiny Planets fall into the former category for most of this their debut EP. Opener ‘Jetstream’ has a fantastic languid drive about it, and ‘I Was Born’ has a great, punching the air chorus. On the down side ‘Hardly At All’ and ‘Islands’ trade in the kind of tired and clichéd riffs and tropes that give Wakey a bad name, and the title track’s bouncy opening is fatally undermined by a completely unnecessary three minute epic coda. Steve Walsh — The Asa Hawks – Roadkiller EP (Blind Preacher Records) Named after a supporting character in the Flannery O’ Connor novel ‘Wise Blood’, The Asa Hawks describe themselves as being ‘Country Noir’, which I suppose is fair enough, but for my money they side very Americana – the acceptable way to enjoy country music. Not that I am saying this is a bad thing, quite the opposite. A playfully twangy banjo sound runs obediently beside Mo Ellis’ sweetly sardonic vocals through songs that are strangely familiar to fans of Hope and Social or Low Anthem but different enough not to be old ground gone over one time too many. Well crafted but not over crafted, neither shallow nor fathomless and reassuringly melodic, this is a satisfying trio of tunes that is just...
pleasant. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. Rob Wright — imp – Sewerpop! (How the Castle Was Stormed) (Philophobia) Already on this their second EP, imp are developing a nice line in a style that bolts together post rocky soundscapes and quirky arrangements with spiky indie guitars. Opening track ‘The Timings All Wrong’ has an ambient intro that segues into a mid-paced tune with a pleasantly wonky, almost drunken rhythm. The similarly harmonically eccentric ‘Sharkbay Nevermore’ is littered with some great pop hooks. In fact, there’s a laid back feel to everything they do, even the more up tempo stuff like ‘Call of the Wild’, but would you expect anything less from a Wakefield band. There’s a languid confidence about imp that could take them along way. Steve Walsh — The Do’s – Quick Fix/Leave This All Behind (Self-release) Wakefield quite frankly seems to be puking grungey Americana at the minute. The Spills, Runaround Kids and The Bambinos, all associated with the scrappy Philophobia label, have caught the bug and now is the turn of two-piece The Do’s.
partnership, but fortunately that’s the only unimaginative thing about them. The duo embellish their stark and cleverly arranged folky songs with the help of a wide circle of friends who provide an extensive range of instrumentation that gives the sound and feel of an ensemble. Nothing is over used or dominant, even the words are pared down for maximum impact, and there’s plenty of space for the songs to breathe and develop naturally. The only down side for me is that Henshaw’s singing style is so mannered it almost renders some of the lyrics incomprehensible, but this is a minor quibble. The fact is, there are five exceptional songs on this EP and Henshaw and Lawrenson could well be major talents in the making. Steve Walsh — Blacklisters - I Can Confirm (Brew Records) This new single from Blacklisters bears a strong family resemblance to fellow Brew Records denizens Kong. Drums pound and basses lurch to produce a generally threatening and unclean sound, and the effect is substantially amplified by frontman Billy’s unique brand of moanshouting. And if “moan-shouting” sounds like something you want to hear, you’re sure to like Blacklisters! Tom Bench Available to buy from As a grunge/alt rock release it’s http://blacklisters.bandcamp.com/ fairly typical right down to the horrific — squawky vocal style, but not unlike DSDNT – DSDNT EP the above, they’ve produced a sterling Leeds-based DSDNT’s first self-titled live-sounding recording. It’s fuzzy and EP is a unique blend of rock, punk beefy with just the right amount of and hardcore that is a precursor to big imperfection. Could be one to watch things for the four-piece. if – like the rest of Wakefield – you never quite got over Nirvana. Opening with the slow-building but Tim Hearson heavy-hitting ‘Begin/Turn’, the EP is full Available from http://thedos. of heavy riffs - and plenty of shouting. bandcamp.com/ While it’s a little bit heavy for every day — listening for me, my Joseph & David favourite track on the – Rise Up the EP is ‘Break’ – perfect Sun EP (Hide & if you want something Seek Records) loud, fast and a little David Henshaw bit angry. It’s a great and Joseph EP, and I bet DSDNT Lawrenson are a band that are took the baldly even better live. unimaginative Alessandra Gritt approach when it Available as a free came to naming download from their songwriting dsdnt.bandcamp.com 31
Nature of the Beast– Dave White EP (Self release) This Leeds four piece have been bubbling under for a few months now, certainly holding their own when playing alongside some more established contemporaries. First up on this 2 track EP is ‘Cement Mixer’, a groovy hip-hop, hard rock crossover, these days sometimes known as Spliffcore. Pretty catchy if the truth be told as is ‘Let It Go’, the second and final track on this pint sized extended play, albeit with a slightly harder edge. I’ve heard a lot worse. Mike Price Available as a free download from http://natureofthebeast.bandcamp.com — Ross Day - Old White Shoes (Self release) The best thing about Leeds based Ross Day is that he has no need for anything other than his guitar, voice and sheer talent. What is incredible is that this stripped down sound allows an incredible openness that makes his music feel powerful and connective. His music feels like an honest reflection of a songwriters inner feelings. This is a far cry from mindless covers that simply plagiarise the feelings of another artist; the real showcase here is the power of the song as a link between songwriter and audience and a real sense that what he tells you is the truth. That being said, Day is hardly ground-breaking. It won’t sound new or refreshing to anyone but it’s difficult to argue that this genuine songwriter isn’t one to watch. Nick Pritchard Available as free download from rossday.bandcamp.com/album/ old-white-shoes — Silverlode - Four Short and Varied Songs Regarding Money, Effort, Worth and Self by (Self release) I trust when you started reading this review you happened to come across the title of this EP? Good, because it does half my job for me. So much so that it’s maybe a little one track minded – the term ‘Taxman’ comes up a lot, anyway. In terms of the sound, it’s probably exactly halfway between mid32
90s Radiohead and The Beatles, Radiohead playing a skiffle set if you like. There’s a pleasing amount of innovation as well for a band of their ilk, too. Very much a pastiche effort but the EP has a bouncy charm which makes for a pleasing listen. Tim Hearson Available as name your price from www.silverlodeonline.co.uk — The Barmines – Once Over Lightly (Self-Release) Formerly The Reign, this is a first release for The Barmines under their new moniker. On first listen the phrase ‘subtle as a brick’ comes to mind – truly there’s not much to this, another Arctic-Monkeys-without-the-intelligentlyrics type band. It even has the now cliché (surely?!) WW2 era cartoon woman in suggestive pose type cover, you know, ‘for the lads’… For what it is, it’s well put together and keeps the live energy nicely. The vocals, too, come across particularly strongly. ‘Once Over Lightly’ has bouncy cheekiness to it but it’s not enough to stop it sounding stale. Tim Hearson Available from http://thebarmines. bandcamp.com/ — Pulled Apart By Horses – V-E-N-O-M (Transgressive Records) I’m not sure that a Radio Edit of the leading single from the new PABH album is really necessary, the full length version checks in at just over 3 minutes. Why lop 20 seconds of a song as good as this? We’ve got screeching vocals, furious guitar riffery and an urgent rhythm section making the end result a breath of fresh air. More NWOHM than indie-rock and, and as I listen, I’m compelled beyond my will to wrap a tie around my forehead, roll my trousers up to my knees, grab the nearest tennis racket then prance around the room in full air guitar head-banger frenzy. Good job the curtains are drawn! Mike Price — Acid Drop – Full Deck? (Self release) This 7-track EP showcases a quartet seemingly wearing their rock and roll credentials on their sleeves. It’s certainly a no-frills
affair as the opening instrumental ‘The Drop In’ gives way to the opener ‘Soberphobia’. Take one part Yalla Yallas, a twist of Oi, and a liberal sprinkling of metal and you’re not a million miles away. But hang on a minute, bands like this aren’t supposed to sing about teenage alienation, rebellion and war. Shouldn’t it be sex, drugs and rock and roll? Granted, we have the aforementioned references to prodigious alcohol consumption but perhaps there’s more to the Acid Drop than than meets the eye. The last track featuring a welcome guest trumpet and a fade out to ‘We’ll Meet Again’ may suggest so, you’ll just have to judge for yourselves. Mike Price — Little Vegas Lies – Domino EP (Self release) Using the metaphor of a domino to symbolise that you will fall like one is nothing new in the music world, so I was not surprised when I heard the track by Little Vegas Lies. But it is something of a good track from them. So is the EP if I am going to be totally honest. I was not blown away by it on the first listen, so I played it a few more times. The overall verdict is good, but it does sound a little like the Arctic Monkeys in some places. They have big catchy choruses that will see them do well in the future, but they will need to pull something more out of the bag if they want to go further. Rochelle Massey Available from http://www. littlevegaslies.com/fr_home.cfm
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The Pigeon Detectives/The Chevin/ The Mexanines @ Leeds O2 Academy The last time I saw TPD live, it was a surprise teatime guest slot for the most recent Live @ Leeds and predictably they tore the Cockpit apart. This time, before tonight’s Academy gig, they’re lending their support to the 2012 Centre Stage competition, a battle of the bands affair with the winners getting to play on the BBC Introducing stage at both Reading and Leeds festivals. Add these aforementioned noble gestures to the band’s cover of ‘Tainted Love’ where all proceeds went to a local children’s charity, and you soon realise that Matt and co possess a strong altruistic streak It’s refreshing to see these local boys made good haven’t forgotten their roots whilst at the same time realise their good fortune to be where they are today and, it’s definitely a two way love affair as the people of Leeds have come out in droves to see their hometown heroes. First up we have the 2011 Centre Stage winners, Bradford’s The Mexanines and, after some early sound glitches, they hit their stride and crank out a handful of spiky blues tinged indie pop nuggets. The crowd, swelling by the minute, offer their appreciation. Another local outfit, The Chevin follow and are lively enough if a little similar sounding to a rather better known collection of their peers from Las Vegas. The place is full to bursting for the main event with the band joined tonight by Albert Ross on keyboards. What strikes me is the age range of the attendees tonight, far more over 35s than I’d expect to see, demonstrating the popularity of this band in their own backyard. Anyway you can guess the rest; the boys are on top form as they pile through a blistering set of favourites in front of their home crowd with Matt 34
Pigeon Detectives by Ed Fielding
even taking the time to ask some of the more boisterous at the front to calm it down a little when things get out of hand. He’s such a considerate chap. Mike Price — Hawk Eyes/Turbowolf/James Cleaver Quintet @ The Cockpit, Leeds Chaka Khan’s isn’t usually the most obvious music to signal a band’s arrival on stage, but for the James Cleaver Quintet, ‘I Feel For You’ is the walk-on tune of choice. Following their memorable arrival, this experimental 5-piece go on to make their performance just as notable. Shaking the Cockpit’s tiny room to its core, the JCQ thrashed out a mangled barrage of noise, which can only be described at
alt-rock with a twist. Next up, joint headliners Turbowolf bring their cards to the table and it’s the lead singer’s wonderful ‘porn moustache’ that we see first. Behind him the band execute their dirty rock and roll sound with amazing skill, making Turbowolf a very good live act to witness. A cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ goes down well with the crowd and last track ‘Lets Die’ comes with a mini-pit, a crowd surf from porno ‘tache himself and a well deserved, raucous send off. Leeds’ very own Hawk Eyes are last on the bill and they enter a room with slightly fewer bodies in it than before. Bringing with them their notoriously
boisterous live reputation, the band smash their way through a brutal back catalogue of alternative rock albeit to a slightly subdued audience. This doesn’t seem to faze lead singer Paul Astick as he leads the banter with the front of the crowd and breaks through the faces to jam in the middle of the floor. When it comes to the last track of the evening, Hawk Eyes finally get the response they deserve and the cheers roar out as one of Leeds’ finest bring their frenzied attack on the Cockpit to a halt. Emma Quinlan — Holy State/That Fucking Tank/ Hookworms/Double Muscle @ The Brudenell Social Club All I want for Christmas is Brew... yes, Leeds’ most outrageous four year old is throwing a Christmas party and is eschewing the turkey and Christmas pud for a four course banquet of hard as fuck rock mayhem. It won’t make you fat, but it might make you phat. I can’t believe I just typed that... I feel for the vegetarians in the audience, because three-piece Double Muscle go to work straight away, butchering huge glistening chunks of music with vocal drowning guitar and gut poking bass, with the drummer as pausarius to this
carnal, carnivorous interplay. If the Pixies had never existed, they would be gods. As it is, they are still bloody impressive. I am not sure about Hookworms when they occupy the space. The vocals are similarly drowned but this time by an insistent psychedelic drone of a Hawkwind cum Spiritualised group... not that there’s anything wrong with either of those. But then all of a sudden the vocals break through like a ray through the clouds and a whole extra electoJane’s Addiction element is added. If they can just nail the balance... That Fucking Tank. What is it about them? I think I’ve worked it out. They’ve taken the 100 best bits from every song ever and mashed them into one set. As a result, you can’t help but get on one and stay on one until the bitter end. Even the busted string and inevitable hiatus do not dampen the ardour of the crowd. They really should be one of the biggest bands in the world, but you know they never will be. And you know what? I don’t think they give a shit either way... they just love to play. I pity Holy State. They have to follow TFT. But they are by no means daunted. In fact, they put in double the effort. It’s a roaring tribute to the gods of rock and
Hookworms by Danny Payne
a ballsy slice of pudding ‘n all. All that’s missing is a touch more bass. Other than that, if you like your rock old school Cult/ Sonic Youth style, it’s all good. I may feel musically bloated, but there’s nothing flabby about tonight... Rob Wright — Ryan Spendlove @ The Adelphi, Leeds The irritation instilled by the bitter December winds was an old and distant memory the moment my chilled bones crossed the threshold of The Adelphi’s Roost, greeted by the special, warm buzz that only such intimate venues have the pleasure of providing. The Acoustic Revolution played host to Ryan Spendlove, Yorkshire’s witty reply to the gentlemen of Greenwich Village.
Holy State by Danny Payne
To play acoustic English folk and retain individuality is a feat often attempted, yet only occasionally achieved. To see it performed properly is a genuine delight and the Wakefield charmer delivered a heartfelt set, laden with raw energy to a capacity crowd, dotted heavily with his dedicated followers. Fresh from an American tour and back to the UK for Christmas to debut some new material, he storms through tunes from his first album ‘Fable’ before revealing his latest offerings. His signature single ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind’ is a cleverly worded and troubled confession, filling the room with the sound of simultaneously tapping heels. He then closed the night with the best version of the woefully over-covered ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ I’ve ever come across. Benjamin Maney — David Thomas Broughton/Maggie-8 @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Beginning the evening were Maggie-8, who, alas, ended what has been for me a particularly good run of support bands. It wasn’t that they were bad, it’s just I couldn’t find anything that wowed me. They have some good elements, like the song ‘Wedding Dress, and trying their hand at a folk-Bollywood fusion, but if they worked on the latter, they could have something really outstanding. After voting David Thomas Broughton first in the Fight Before Christmas, and living with people who idolise him enough to decorate their home with terrifying masks from a previous gig, the anticipation was high. With a tortured voice and the drummer from Bilge Pump, DTB managed to mesmerise the crowd despite his abandoned child look and single guitar. Using a looping system (which elevated him from “man and guitar” genre to “magic man with loops”) he added layer upon layer, initially giving a ghostly suggestion of the music, existing without him playing, to something a full band could muster. He is comical but doesn’t laugh, and looks awkward but it doesn’t affect his playing. I preferred to listen to his music (which was a mix of old and new, and it didn’t stop for ninety minutes) than to view his onstage antics, which involved mild undressing, walking into the crowd and rearranging people’s drinking vessels. 36
He taunted us with snatches of his songs and it was quite an experience to finally see him, yet I think I’ll stick to the pre-recorded. Ellie Treagust — Hope & Social @ The Georgian Theatre, Richmond As the band take to the stage Simon Wainwright, the lead singer, looks worried. “Why do we get ourselves into these situations?” he asks. The situation in question is ‘a winter acoustic extravaganza’. It nearly is acoustic, too, with the only signs of electricity on the stage being two keyboards and a variety of microphones. In one bit, the band decide that they will all play different instruments and swap between them. This is more difficult for the less versatile members of the band and a decision has been made to change the arrangements of nearly all the songs. To increase the pressure, performance statistics are displayed on the backdrop (a tally of mistakes per member). Ed Waring, the keyboardist, starts with 4 crosses for missing the final rehearsal. Despite the worry, the performance is fine with no disasters and plenty of minor triumphs. The new arrangements work well: my personal favourite is ‘Living a Lie’, converted from a brass and piano led romp into a percussion tour de force with Simon chanting the words over the three drummers. We also get an improvised piece with the audience nominating the song and the instrument each person should play. After 30 seconds of practice the band launch into the song which actually might have sounded good had it not been for guitarist Rich Huxley’s lack of trumpeting skills! So what did we learn? Hope & Social continue to challenge themselves all the while creating great entertainment; the venue is lovely and intimate; and it takes longer than 30 seconds to master the trumpet. Pete Ellis — Black Moth/Baby Godzilla/Bears Kill Bears/Curses @ The Cockpit, Leeds First band in our midst tonight is Curses. For them this gig is a special one, as it is the last time singer Paul
will be appearing with them and their performance is still as tight as ever. Hugs are all around for Paul tonight, as he and the boys execute their metal-core jams with blistering ease. Baby Godzilla are up next with only a slightly bigger crowd than Curses. Their name may be pretty awesome but their music is not quite so good. They play loud and fast and their energy is brilliant but their high-pitched screaming is not. These four Nottingham lads may not have the best songs in their arsenal, but they do have some potential. Having mistakenly called Bears Kill Bears, ‘Bears Kill Ears’ recently, my expectations for this band are low. This time things start well, though their set ends in another boring climax that sees some people leave. A cover version of ‘Get Low’ provides some entertainment but their metal-core tunes still fail to cause a major stir. Last, but certainly not least, are Black Moth whose heavy rock musings seem a little out of place in this line-up. Regardless of how unlikely the match, the band turn out to be very good live though their singer’s voice is quite muffled throughout – probably more a technical problem than a personal issue. Musically though, there are definitely no problems, especially for their guitarist, who plays with immense skill. Again, the crowd is not the largest, which is a shame as the band deserve more but for the people who did show, they have witnessed a great band in the making. Emma Quinlan — Shield Your Eyes/Blacklisters/Super Luxury @ Oporto, Leeds It’s a chill Wednesday night and Oporto is packed. Does this mean free gigs are the way to go? Or is it the line up? Discuss. Super Luxury are developing by leaps and bounds. Acquiring a drummer and (probably) oodles of rehearsal time is gradually turning them into the sledgehammer gonzo rock band they clearly aspire to be. Subtle? Nah! Just a smash-everything-to-bits kind of sound. Despite sporting a broken hand, black eye and split lip from a recent ‘unfortunate incident’, singer Adam Nodwell is still a congenial front man in
Hookworms by Bart Pettman
spite of his audience barging and all over the place (even outside) gymnastics. While the band are sorting out some technical problems, Blacklister’s singer Billy threatens the audience with all sorts of mayhem once they start playing. As it turns out, it takes half the set for the band to get into their stride, and the promised old style pile up consists merely of Billy grappling with Super Luxury’s drummer. Still, the music is fierce and hard, with its single minded precision the perfect foil to Billy’s screeching, eye rolling unpredictability. I suppose you could say Shield Your Eyes are promoting recent – and thoroughly excellent – new release ‘Volume 4’, but this band are perpetually, restlessly moving forward, seeking to develop their unique sound and style. The new album hints at what this gig makes explicit: that the band are in the process of opening up their sound to include more expansive and reflective music. So, while ‘Larkspur’ and ‘Tryna Lean A Ladder Up Against the Wind’ show they’ve lost none of their explosive energy, the proto blues of ‘Glad’ and the sinuous ‘Drill Your Heavy Heart’ are a much more nuanced showcase for the band’s inherent, if somewhat camouflaged, tunefulness, and include extended soloing from guitarist Stef Ketteringham. This, as well as prolonged bouts of retuning between songs, combines with Oporto’s curfew policy to terminate the set prematurely, which is
a great shame. Shield Your Eyes are an extremely important band. Steve Walsh
Previews Club Smith @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 10 February Leeds dark horses Club Smith make a home town stop off in extensive national tour ahead of (imminent?) debut album release. Runaround Kids/The Spills/Shark Teeth/The Do’s @ The Hop, Wakefield 10 February Strong line-up of Wakefield bands, with ex Blood Oranges Shark Teeth being out-of-town cuckoos in the nest. Runaround Kids and The Spills both produced cracking debut albums last year. Marius Neset Quartet @ The Wardrobe, Leeds 23 February Norwegian saxophonist and composer Neset plays inventive modern jazz and his 2011 debut album Golden Xplosion won Jazzwise magazine’s album of the year poll. British Wildlife Festival @ Brudenell
Social Club, Royal; Park Cellars and Oporto 2 – 4 March The kind of staggeringly good line up we’ve come to expect from Adam Nodwell’s at British Wildlife. Usual mixture of local talent old and new (That Fucking Tank, These Monsters, Hookworms, Bearfoot Beware) and out-of-towners (Divorce, Action Beat, Nitkowsi, Silent Front) make it the first utterly essential musical event of the year. Earth @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 9 March Low frequency slow motion godparents of sludge Dylan Carson, Adrienne Davies et al return to Leeds to open fault lines in Headingley with their heaviness. It is also the editor’s birthday, just in case you felt like buying someone a drink that night... Submotion Orchestra @ The Wardrobe, Leeds 14 March Sophisticated and seriously funky jazz/ dubstep ensemble led by award winning drummer and composer Tommy Evans. Dodgy/The Bazaars/handmadehands @ Eiger Studios, Leeds 25 February In the mid 90’s, Dodgy’s star burned incandescent for a short while, mostly because of insanely infectious single ‘Good Enough’. This is the original trio back together again and with a new album due this won’t be a one song gig. Get there early for handmadehands too, who released their rather excellent debut album last year. 37
One For The Road Nathan Clark Nathan Clark, proprietor of one of the best (if not the best) venues in the North of England, is without doubt a legend. He will deny it of course, but he is. What is more amazing is that we haven’t done a One For The Road with him. Greg Elliott rectifies this matter... Drawing by Simon Lewis
Like father, like son... The Brudenell was a typical working men’s club – my dad was on the committee and my parents eventually took over managing the place. I had been playing football in America for Portland Timbers in the late Nineties when my dad got ill, so I came back to take over. Mike Jolly from Cloth Cat had started putting on gigs a few years earlier and the Cops and Robbers people were starting to do more DIY-type things. People saw it was a great space for live music and it’s been growing ever since. If you love something, set it free... It’s been a natural evolution. I’ve been very careful not to guide it in any particular direction or target a specific audience. There’s no music policy, so anyone can put on whatever they like. Last year we had Black Lace and Thurston Moore a few days later – you don’t get that kind of diversity anywhere else. Anyone can come - whether they’re on a big sleeper bus or they’re three kids from Hessle Mount, they play on the same stage, use the same PA and get treated exactly the same. It takes different strokes... In the late Nineties there were people who were a bit like ‘What’s all that noise about?’, but this area has changed so much that a lot of them aren’t around anymore. The people who come who are into music and the people who come who aren’t into music get on fine. When Jonathan Richman played here I found him in a corner happily talking to two locals.
Never judge a book by its (seat) covers... My dad and I were never going to jeopardise its financial future just to make it look flashier. If the seating’s a bit ripped or the carpet’s smudged that’s less important to me than getting the sound right, or making sure that the sound engineer gets paid the right wage. The superficial things, if we do well they’ll come later. If people pull up outside and think ‘What the fuck is that?’ we’re not bothered, we’re not trying to be trendy. Also, not being in debt means we can charge less to hire the place out and pay the bands a little bit more, or get them a few extra beers – it’s a bit more recognition for them and a chance to play to more people. With the Brudenell you can hire out a 300-capacity venue for the same price as a 100-capacity venue somewhere else, and for that you get a professional PA and a real locus of control – you can design the posters, you can have a tea and cake stand, you can put up bunting if you want. Many a mickle makes a muckle... We’ve had brewery loans to pay back and money to raise for soundproofing and fire doors. We’ve managed thanks to people like Jonny Strangeways and Cops and Robbers doing fundraising for us, That Fucking Tank holding a raffle to play in somebody’s living room, that sort of thing. The Brudenell’s a social enterprise - any profits we make go back into the venue and have helped pay for a new PA and the room we’re sat in now [a newly refurbished additional space soon to be available for meetings, exhibitions and screenings].
I never knew there was so much in it... For me one of the best things about the Brudenell is that you can’t put a label on it – it’s not just a gig venue, or a social club. People are surprised to discover the games room. Pool tables are more profitable but we’ve got people who’ve played snooker here for years - it’s not about maximising profits, it’s about rewarding that loyalty.
“I always wanted it to be a community” Where everybody knows your name... I always wanted it to be a community – a place people can come, have a drink, meet and talk. Good beer at reasonable prices, an enjoyable atmosphere that isn’t intimidating to anyone, a place where people feel welcome. It’s the way I’ve been brought up and the environment I’ve grown up in. Bands find it really refreshing – when they get here my mum meets them and offers them a cup of tea, they can leave their gear overnight knowing it’s going to be safe. It’s just a little bit more personable. So many bands and labels have blossomed here. Hyde Park Unity Day, support for Royal Park School, the Canopy Housing Association – they all started at the Brudenell. Even Superman has to put his trousers on one leg at a time... I’m not bothered about egos. I’ve found people like it when you can talk to them about other things – obviously you appreciate the skill and the craft of what they do but you have to look at them on a level, as a person. I
remember talking to Mark Lanegan about basketball mainly.
them back in at 1am and made them wash the walls.
Sticks and stones may break my bones... I find the best thing is just to talk to people, ask them what’s what and if you can sort it, sort it. I remember Mystery Jets threw fresh orange juice all around the dressing room, but I had a word with their tour manager and he dragged
Don’t look back in anger... I’m always looking forward. This place has a personality – it’s a living, breathing thing now. I like to sit in the background, I’m not a face. It’s not about me and I like how your average punter probably won’t realise that I’m in charge. I just like to have my cup of tea
and do what I do – put on an ace band and see people enjoy it.