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Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire April 2012 Free
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06 12 15 17 19
20 24 28
British Wildlife Festival Sam Airey
Leeds Fest with Melvyn Benn Passport Control
New Pose - Old School Fanzine The Spills
Honour Before Glory Reviews
Wombeatz - This Womenâ€™s Work
Editor Rob Wright - firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors Tom Martin, Rob Wright, Steve Walsh, Bart Pettman, Tim Hearson, Neil Dawson, Mike Price, Benjamin Maney, Ellie Treagust, Aaron Jones, Carl Fleischer, Jade Till, Rochelle Massey, Sam Saunders, Emma Quinlan, Giles Smith, Greg Elliott, Chris Ensell, Benjamin Rutledge, Martin Haley, Jonathan Lees, Jenessa Williams, Stacie Lloyd, Hana Walker-Brown, Gary Wolstenholme, Kate Wellham.
Design Ben McKean & Niall Hargrave email@example.com Picture Editor Bart Pettman - bart @vibrations.org.uk Reviews Editor Steve Walsh - firstname.lastname@example.org Live Editor Tim Hearson - email@example.com
Cover Photograph Hawk Eyes by Tom Martin The Search
Web Editor Mike Price - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vibrations is looking for Advertisers - 2000 magazines seen by music lovers across Leeds. Contact email@example.com
Web Design Sam Hainsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
Writers, Photographers, Artists and Sub editors - Come be a part of it, contact 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
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Send demos in to: Steve Walsh Vibrations Magazine Eiger Studios New Craven Gate Industrial Estate Leeds
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Another reason for another bite at the cherry is that this issue is so choc full of quality writing, photography and design that I feel I would be insulting the efforts of all concerned by turning in a half arsed piece of work. It should be whole arsed or nothing. I mean, just look at this quality publication. Go on, close it up, ogle the fine looking gentlemen on the front, feel the quality of the paper, marvel at the suitability of the typeface, then search for the price. Still looking? That’s right, you won’t find one. Then once you’ve finished this go through the mag from start to finish – you don’t even have to stop to take a piss as the size of Vibrations is designed specifically to be held one handed, leaving the other hand to... no, stop that. That’s just not right. Oh, you dirty bugger. Are you finished? Good, then I shall continue. Our incumbent government is currently doing it’s level best to strip the joy from everyone’s life (look, I’m all for a price per unit approach to alcohol as long as it literally means just that – 40p a unit, so a pint of Abbot Ale would be £2.00 – a perfectly acceptable price. Jaipur IPA would be just under 2.40 and that I could definitely live with) and provide us with quite frankly shoddy value for money (I know my minimum wage will incur less tax, but I’m going to end up spending the difference made on overpriced under brewed beers – thanks a lot, Camel-leg) but we here at Vibrations towers are dedicated, yes DEDICATED to providing the same value that we always have.
Well, fuck my old boots. I hope you realise how lucky you are to be able to touch the infinite on a bimonthly basis, and here at Vibrations Towers we will endeavour to provide the same level of quality Every. Bloody. Time. Now before I let you off the hook, a few hello/goodbyes. First off, say ‘hello’ to our new designers, Ben and Niall – I think you’ll agree that they’ve done a stirling job – long may they reign! And goodbye to Leeds Guide, cruelly cut off in its prime by... venture capitalists, I shouldn’t wonder. Booooooooo! Nearly done. A couple of festivals to note for different reasons: Live at Leeds promises to be a fine affair again this year – I may venture out, but I am afraid I am too old to do the marathon dash around that is L@L – might just hole up in a venue and drink until they ask me politely to leave because I haven’t got an armband and a small puddle is gathering around my feet; and that Peter Waterman debacle, Shit Factory Live – Steps, 2untalented, Jason Pissing Donovan, Rick Cocking Astley? WTF? When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. Stay in Leeds and go and see some quality old school bands, like Human League, Heaven 17 and The Levellers (guilty pleasure – great live band) at M Fest – yes, Morrison’s; I know, hard to believe, but there’ll be some top scran too – very important for a man of my expanding girth.
Image by Carl Fleischer
This is my second, possibly third attempt at an editorial as the first two were shit. I’m not promising anything more for this one, but I’m hoping it has more gags and swearing in it than the last two, which were almost free of both. That, I think you’ll agree, just won’t do.
So off you go – enjoy the mag. If you really like it, think about getting involved – be part of the infinite... Rob Wright Ed with god-complex
Let me present you with a little equation. Stephen Hawkins said that you lose half your readership for every equation you include so... glad you stuck around, both of you, but I’m going to lose one of you now:
Well, all you mathematicians out there should know that if you divide any number (except zero) by zero you get infinity (actually, I’ve had a few arguments about this: if you divide zero by zero, do you get one? Think on that, if you will) so considering that you paid nothing, nip, zilch, nix, nish pence for this publication, you are holding in your hand... infinite value.
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Quality of product over price of product equals value.
Herein be a recollection of the sixth and final British Wildlife Festival. May she rest in peace. Feel free to reflect on these heart-warming and fitting testimonials from Benjamin Maney, Ellie Treagust and Steve Walsh. Oh well, there’s always Brainwash… Friday 2 March – Brudenell Social Club First up, Super Luxury, a lo-fi four piece that started their set with warm up screams and discordant guitar noise leading into a murky opening number. No tricks, frills, or melody. I suppose the pre-gig stretches should’ve forewarned the crowd that the front-man would spend the set in amongst them, wailing from table tops, with no regard for the microphone lead that got entangled around at least five throats. It’s all fun and games ‘til someone gets decapitated, boys. Bad Guys. Double-headed guitars, bright red jumpsuits, classic, clever metal. They manage to use droning interludes - often detrimental to a live show’s atmosphere - perfectly. So much so that one of their breaks led to a distinctly prog rock outro that must’ve lasted 17 minutes. Imagine if you will, the most painful headache of your life. Now, imagine really quite enjoying it... Ultimate Thrush, as I can best describe them. Three people shouldn’t be able to make such a huge sound, but with the help of a small clarinet and a chaos pad, they master short, gut-punching post-punk, not for the faint hearted or those prone to hyperventilation... Somewhere in rural Austria, Mozart turned in his grave as the clarinet was desecrated in such an innovative fashion. Three girls, one guy? Divorce’s music was even filthier than an adult film titled thus would undoubtedly be. The tone got lower and the crowd moved in when their home grown brand of captivating debauchery took hold. The inevitable brawl broke out in the crowd, mirroring the unharnessed adrenaline of the head thrashing alt-punkmetal-hardcore/indefinable-brashness. Finally, if ‘live via satellite’ is the future of live music, then it should ALWAYS be Disasteradio. Playing a set containing the most cheerful electronica ever made, headlining for the darkest metal bands on the planet. Because it’d ALWAYS be this hilarious. Benjamin Maney
Saturday 3 March – Brudenell Social Club/Royal Park Cellars Well, what a varied programme Saturday was. It was reassuring to experience a festival at the Brudenell/
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Royal Park where the acts didn’t all sound the same. That doesn’t mean they were all good, but any line-up that includes Yugoslavian Boys smacks of something reasonably radical. The programmed 6.30 start might have been a little early for their set (which involved the destruction of various food stuffs) but they were already running late. Their set included fish fingers, two salami batons, chips, a tuna sandwich, four drummers (two of which were wearing son-of-God themed robes), a cowboy, a mod, one assassin and a lot of pink hair. I’d be tempted to suggest their musical variation between songs is none too important to them or the crowd, but they were easily the most entertaining band of the day. They screamed and cavorted their way through the set and despite having doubled in size since I last saw them, it wasn’t to add diversity, just to add drums. Immense. Teeth of the Sea provided a very different slant on the playing of songs, both musically and practically. I do approve of their stage lay-out (all members in one line across the front) and although they threw their all into a typically electronic set, I couldn’t get as excited as they were. Their music did have a decent all-encompassing quality to it, but more in a physical sense than anything else; it felt a little like we were underwater. Unlike Yugoslavian Boys, this for me is one band that is best served recorded. The next band, Cold Pumas, I knew absolutely nothing about, but they turned out to be another of the night’s pleasant discoveries. They played motorik rhythms packaged up in an indie image (which did not do them justice) to a slightly unresponsive crowd (who also did not do them justice). There were some pretty soulless sounding vocals that echoed over the music, but as a set, it was far more absorbing than Teeth of the Sea. The only downside was that they could be viewed as a little dull compared to some of the other bands present, but for me the diversity was very much appreciated. Next were Hookworms, who brought an entire shipment of ‘60s psychadelic rock with them. And it was loud. Very, very loud. There was a lot of reverb. In my notes from the set I have written “Oh wow a song ended. Oh wait, no it didn’t.” I don’t remember any actual moments of silence. It was at this stage that I regretted not bringing any earplugs (but what’s rock and roll about that?). They got very into their music which is definitely a good thing, but unfortunately I did not. Resolutions were quickly dashed by Blacklisters, and I haven’t seen many worse bands at the Brudenell (apart from maybe Shining at 2010’s Brainwash). There was such an irritating wave of arrogant nonchalance that came from the singer and it was impossible to focus just on the music, and for a while I was wondering whether it was
Sunday 4 March - Oporto The last day of the last British Wildlife Festival? Say it ain’t so, Adam…. The jagged math rock of Magnapinna gets things underway. They play a dry, gnarly kind of funk that feels like you should be able to dance to it but in doing so would surely lead to multiple dislocations. Fortunately that leaves the synapses in your brain free to revel in the joys of band’s explosive, unpredictable music. Manchester sextet Stanger Son utilise a brace of keyboards and extensive percussion to open with a formless wash of noodling that threatens to disappear up its own jack plug, until everything morphs into a gigantic, driving kraut rocky groove that seems to stop prematurely before it blows the roof off. Thereafter the band take simple ideas and work each into a similarly epic but controlled frenzy. Lanky singer Gareth Smith stands like he should be holding a cigarette and reads rather than sings his songs in a deadpan, detached voice. The music and lyrics almost sound like they’re (partially at least) improvised and songs seems to stop after a nod from Smith rather than anything else. Jeff T Smith may have abandoned his truck load of instruments and effects pedals for this gig, but he’s still
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It’s difficult not to like the sound of Galaxians thumping instrumental disco funk, but this duo of Jed Skinner on synths and programming and Matt Woodward on drums don’t really develop what they do much beyond the opening bars of the first tune. On the other hand, Bearfoot Beware songs have so many ideas and so much energy crammed into them, they clearly find it difficult to contain themselves in their given form and sound like they’d be happy to throw themselves off a cliff just for the hell of it. Guitarist Tom Bradley and bassist Richard Vowden bounce all over the stage when they’re not yelling into their mic, and Michael Osbourne tries desperately to hold everything together from his drum stool. It’s a thrilling, riotous ride alright.
British Wildlife Festival Image by Giles Smith
And finally, the very late headliners Zun Zun Egui. With their usual bizarre mix of styles, languages and footwear, it’s hard to know which genre to define this band by. Of all the groups that performed this evening, they came across as the most sophisticated (though I suspect this is because they are). It’s reflected in their song writing ability, which has them building up songs out of a great many layers and elements. The songs are pretty unpredictable and half the time I have no idea what he is singing about (because it’s in a different language, not because he’s shouting). I’ve seen them create more atmosphere than this before, but it was the end of the night and running very late. Apart from Yugoslavian Boys, they were easily the most interesting band of the day. Ellie Treagust
trading as Juffage. So, apart from viola accompaniment from Jenna Isherwood on the first tune, it’s just Jeff, his uncharacteristically reined-in guitar and his fantastically quirky, idiosyncratic songs. And what a treat it turns out to be. There always seemed to be a mismatch between the live and recorded versions of Smith’s songs; it’s quite a sight watching Smith assembling his live sheets of noise but the racket does tend to detract from the actual songs. Here, without even the minimal musical backing used on debut album ‘Semicircle’, the songs sound almost free form and invested with a fragile tension, Smith modulating the volume and attack of his guitar and voice to create dramatic new readings of the songs.
Sheffield quartet Wooderson have been knocking around since 2008 but it’s hard to see how their derivative guitar driven rock songs have managed to sustain such a long career. The songs are built around musical and lyrical clichés and seem devoid of any real sense of dynamism. Dull. London trio Gum Takes Tooth are well established on the European noise rock circuit and provide afitting climax to the festival. Thomas Fuglesang and Jaxon Paine play two drum kits with one wired up and the sound fed through homemade electronic instruments to be manipulated and messed about with by Jussi Brightmore. The drums and treated noise produce a gigantic sound that’s part noise ritual and part ecstatic rave. Brightmore punches the air like a tripped out DJ, his mangled vocals barely heard over the thundering drums. Steve Walsh
performed in all sincerity. One begins to wonder what the point of writing lyrics is if you’re just going to shout them. Why not just shout? It would be easier. To quote John Betjeman, “I’m sure it’s all done with the best possible intentions,” but it did just throw me back to my Triviuminfused younger teenage years.
DREAMERS, NOT SCHEMERS...
Last time we met them, we covered them in mud and inadvertently showered them with glory. Now it looks as if they are about to take the world out for dinner and dancing and seduce the hell out of it. Rob Wright tried vainly to resist their charms in the name of quality journalism... I am not sure if ye olde man setting of The Victoria Hotel is the best place for meeting one of Leeds’ most intense, ultra tech yet softly spoken metals bands, especially seeing as it is a Saturday night and the place has suddenly filled with suit-wearing, bellowing twats, but it is handy for free parking on a Saturday night and serves Dandelion and Burdock. This are the sorts of things you start making decisions based on when you get old. Though I am sure that I will not be thanked for this, Hawk Eyes are no spring chickenhawks either – I have fond but vague memories of them as they were one of the first bands I ever wrote a review of, back in 2005. One of them wore a mask. That much I remember. I also remember that Paul used to drum as well as sing, but now Matt Reid is in the band... “Matt is no longer in Hawk Eyes,” announces Paul, whose birthday is tonight (so you can imagine how popular I will be as a result of keeping him from his irresponsibilities and festivities). Woah, let me just get my head around this. I’m surrounded on all sides by Hawk Eyes in this dark wood panelled booth and don’t have a beer in my hand, and if they keep laying announcements like that on me, I may need something a little stronger than Dandelion and Burdock. “It’s all totally sanctioned,” Paul reassures me, “he’s just decided he wants to do something else,” which seems entirely in keeping with Hawk Eyes’ ethos, if there were such a thing. Stepping into Matt’s shoes will be the absent Steve Wilson of Japanese Voyeurs fame. Interesting times...
For the more keen eyed readers among you, I should point out that this is not the first time Paul, Rob and Ryan have graced these pages. Back in 2009, they made the cover with a picture from Danny North. Jokingly I suggest this ‘made’ them. “I think if we hadn’t got that at that time,” confesses Paul quite sincerely, “after scurrying away for years and years for basically our own benefit and then all of a sudden people, in this town especially, were saying ‘this is quite
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good’... We’re really grateful for that. We genuinely are.” I feel fairly thrown by this and have a strong urge to shuffle my notes or something. To cover my embarrassment, I go on to say how, regardless of that, 2009 was a good year for them anyway: a signing to Brew, a lively slot at Leeds, the zombie video... and then an abrupt name change. Rob laughs at this. “We don’t like to make things easy for ourselves. The thing is...” he pauses almost dramatically, “we didn’t really like the name and moving forward we could see some... technical problems with it.” Chickenhawk was a military operation in Vietnam which is currently undergoing the celluloid treatment. It is also an American term for a predatory gay man who likes young guys. “That as well,” says Rob uncomfortably, “if we wanted to take our music over there... people talking about a band called ‘Chickenhawk’ and all that connotation...” he lets it hang for a moment, “but it wasn’t about pandering to what we needed to do... it’s what we had to do ourselves.” Hawk Eyes are very clear on this point – there is no grand scheme involved; in fact, Paul gets quite incensed about the implication: “There’s never been a plan,” he says firmly,” and we’ve been very lucky to get where we are – we’ve worked hard – but we’ve never had the structure and backing of... corporate music. We’ve got to where we’ve got by doing a bit of this, a bit of that... and there’ve been mistakes that we’ve made... yeah, it’s been pretty messy, but unless you’re actually geeky enough to go and read about it, you’re never going to know how messy it’s been... but that’s possibly why we still exist.” Even though they say there is/was no plan, the (almost) re-release of their debut album, ‘Chickenhawk’ as Modern Bodies did seem to have a certain... shape to it? “We got picked up by this management company,” says Paul, “they asked ‘what have you got?’ We played them the CD and they said ‘has anybody heard it?’ So they wanted to rerelease it... and we were totally against it.” So much so that they don’t actually count Modern Bodies as a separate studio album. Paul sighs. “It felt like... stalling, not going forward or backward, it didn’t make any sense to us to put it out... and someone showed us the reality – we’d sold 200 CDs but who’d actually heard it?” As a body of work, it acted as a calling card and a requiem, it seems. “Modern Bodies is Chickenhawk is dead, it won’t happen again... not that we knew that at the
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Words by Rob Wright ~ Images by Tom Martin
time...” Paul laughs freely, conscious of his own near slip into contradiction. But Modern Bodies is most definitely an ending, as much as ‘Ideas’ is a beginning, and in the spirit of the new, it is even being sold in a relatively new fashion. Though the album is essentially paid for already, the whole thing is being sold through Pledge. “It’s a way for us to give more back to the fans,” explains Paul, “the whole point of it is that people can choose to interact with us. People can say ‘I want that, I want that – it makes it easier for fans who really care about it to buy into it at the beginning.” A different approach to marketing in a different market? “In the last ten years there’s been a massive change in the dynamic of how the whole system works,” Paul continues, “you can’t just knock out a great album, put a lovely cover on it, get some good press and expect to shift loads of copies, people don’t want that anymore.”
guitars...’” says Ryan across the table, who has not been entirely silent, but has been almost entirely drowned out by the noisy clientele. “We can do different things on a guitar,” laughs Paul. And with a new style comes a different label – Fierce Panda. All told, Hawk Eyes have been on at least four labels. Paul shrugs. “I don’t think bands need to sign to one label for life,” he says, “whatever works at the time. It can be quite dangerous to sign to multi album deals with labels, because you’re then beholden to them.” It’s true; I’ve heard about local bands who’ve got locked into the wrong deal and suffered the consequences. But Hawk Eyes narrowly avoided making these mistakes, making them wise in the eyes of their peers and very thoughtful on the album. “A lot of the record is about that...” Paul scrabbles for a description, “that feeling of hopelessness... really not knowing where you’re going and more generally the world not knowing where it’s going. There’s a lot of stuff on there, certainly lyrically – I feel sorry for the other guys sometimes because they don’t know what I’m going to do lyrically... as long as the words fit and the melody suits the music I’m pretty much allowed to do what I like – I try to involve [the band] as much as I can – I try not to make my lyrics ‘the Paul Astick show’ because that’s not what the band is – the band is four people – so it’s reflective of the moods of the music and all the experiences that we’ve had together, our opinions and values.” But despite or as well as this, it is still fun, just... serious fun. They’ve also just released a final EP with Brew called Mindhammers as a kind of safety valve for their creative overflow. Considering what they’ve got on the go, it’s amazing they’ve found time to talk to me at all.
“I don’t think we should define ourselves as one thing.” “People download it for free,” says Rob brusquely, “that’s a generalisation, but people who use to buy music like teenagers or young adults download it. In the majority. So a release is more like a calling card to get you more tours and actually drive some revenue back into the band to keep it going.”
There are plenty of good reasons to buy this album though, one being Paul’s vocals, which have undergone a metamorphosis since Modern Bodies. I ask where this amazing voice has come from. His first answer is a yarn involving old women, fruit and magical powers. His second is a bit more coherent. “When I was eleven I joined the choral society at school... I had big braces and big ginger hair and I sang soprano,” he admits, “I did Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in its entirety. I’ve always been able to sing, but that wasn’t the point of the music we made. Then everyone was like ‘let’s try some singing now’, because we’d gained in confidence as a band... Again, it sounds like it’s planned, but it’s just a happy coincidence.” “We thought ‘let’s not do another album full of chugging
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Our time is nearly up and I can see that Paul is anxious to ‘enjoy his birthday’, so I don’t want to keep them, but I still feel like I’ve merely scratched the surface of Hawk Eyes; they’re almost too mercurial as a band. “I don’t think we should define ourselves as one thing – I think that’s very important for a band,” explains Rob, “not going over the same ground twice – let’s progress.” It’s all very grown up, very forward facing. Then one of the band members suggests I take all my clothes off. But that is another story... Ideas and Mindhammers are both available to purchase (just check out www.hawkeyesmusic.com), and Hawk Eyes will be supporting Andrew W K on the UK leg of his tour in April. Party Hawk.
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Sam Airey, mild mannered guitar slinger with a hint of folksiness, has been stamping like a butterfly of late. From being the house band at the recent Live at Leeds launch to a Radio 1 Maida Vale set, he has been making his quiet presence known in quite a loud way. Ellie Treagust cornered this timid yet feisty little performer and pelted him with questions which you, dear reader, might like to know the answers to… ET How would you like your music to be described? SA I never really know how to answer this question to be honest. I’d rather people just make their own minds up when they listen to it. I’d probably call it something along the lines of indie-folk storytelling; there’s a real folk element to a lot of the songs but it’s not always a defining feature, I think. Lyrically I try and write with a strong narrative most of the time, but it’s not always the case. With the latest things we’ve recorded there’s an emphasis on atmosphere, trying to create a mood that reflects the content of the songs, I guess. ET How do you go about the song-writing process? SA There’s no definitive method. Sometimes I’ll have pieces of lyrics or a melody in my head and it can take the shape of a song within minutes, other times it’s more forced and you have to work at it a little more. I usually write with a guitar but I’ve been sat at the piano a lot recently. However, I’ve written whole songs before without being anywhere near an instrument; I wrote ‘Endless Sea’ on a late-night ferry crossing from Ireland. It started with just a couple of words, but in my head I could hear everything - the chord progression, melody line, and soon I had a whole song, without actually making a sound. As soon as I got home I played it in full, it was pretty odd how it came out completely formed.
SA I like to think so. Lyrics are a big thing for me and I tend to spend a bit more time on them these days. Musically, I’m less afraid to let the songs take course and change, so I’m enjoying layering them and finding new sounds. You’d always hope you’re constantly developing - if your next song isn’t as good or better than your last, you probably need to sit back and question what you’re doing. ET What’s your favourite venue to play at in Leeds? I have a few. The Brudenell is an obvious choice these days for all the right reasons. The sound is always great, and Nathan does a brilliant job of running it - it’s not just a cherished venue but an integral part of the Leeds scene. In terms of other venues, I like playing in slightly more unusual spaces too. The new EP launch at Holy Trinity Church will be the third time I’ve played there. It’s a beautiful space and it lends itself really well to the type of music I play. We did a single launch last year curated by Anthologies, inside the chapter house in Kirkstall Abbey, with no PA or amplification at all - that felt like a risky decision but it turned out to be one of the best gigs. Finally, Oporto and Shopkeepers gigs are always fun. It’s brilliant they have a decent budget for live music and yet put on so many free shows. ET There’s been quite a surge of ‘one man and his guitar’ acts in recent years - what makes you stand out?
SA I’ve always said there’s an inherent flaw, or at least danger, with the term singer-songwriter, if that’s what you want to call this. The problem lies in the fact that the term attempts to denote a genre, when all it really suggests is that it concerns someone who both sings and writes songs. However, these days we mostly come to associate it with a great deal of bland/dross music. One of the big problems for me is that it’s quite easy to pick up a guitar and get your songs on the internet - this may seem like a ET Have you noticed much development in your good thing but it means you have to wade song-writing since you began, and if so, how? through quite a lot before you find something of worth. I’ve worked pretty hard the last couple of
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ET What’s your biggest musical achievement to date? SA There have been a few. Music for me has always just been something I’ve loved - I never really intended to get to this point, but with everything good that happens, it seems to spur you on to the next. At first it was a case of “I have these songs, I’ll write some more”, then it was “I’ll record and release an EP”, and now two years down the line I’ve released singles, played around the UK, and I’m currently writing an album. I think the most overwhelming thing has been the radio attention; the Radio 1 Maida Vale session was a huge highlight for me. ET Do your songs always turn out how you wanted them to or does the creative process change them? SA Sometimes you’ll have an idealistic sense of what you want the song to sound like, but you have to let the process run its course because you might end up with something that sounds better than whatever you anticipated.
ET A quick run-down of what’s in store musically for you this year? SA Firstly there’s the new EP – ‘A Marker & A Map’, released in March with accompanying full band gig in Holy Trinity Church, and we’re also doing a London EP launch. Then I’ll be doing some touring in April including my first gigs in Scotland, then of course Live at Leeds in May, and hopefully we’ll be playing a few festivals during the summer too. ET If you could host a fantasy dinner party of seven guests, who would they be? SA Sam Cooke and Joni Mitchell would come, and I’d also make them sing. Ernest Hemingway would be on drinks duty, Audrey Hepburn for some elegance and stories, Salvador Dali seemed pretty interesting too so he could probably come along. Then I’d invite Charles Darwin and God, and make them have an arm-wrestling duel. You can catch Sam Airey at Live at Leeds on Saturday 5th May. Be patient...
ET How much inspiration do you take from your surrounding area?
SA A varying degree. I’m from rural North Wales originally, and bits of the songs are partly inspired by my memories of it, and also by my move to Leeds and getting used to life in the city. But I’d say I take just as much inspiration from the people around me and the places I visit.
Words by Ellie Treagust ~ Images by Aaron Jones
years both on songwriting and learning how to hold a crowd on my own, which at first seemed like the most daunting thing in the world. But now that the recordings are increasingly layered and orchestrated, I’ll be doing more with a full band too.
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By the time you read this, the line up will be old news. There will be the usual accusations of ‘playing it safe’ and ‘soooo predictable’, but as for me... I still get excited by this. I’m loving the prospect of (hopefully) seeing The Cure, re-acquainting myself with the Gallic dance metal insanity of Justice, going bollocks-mental to Pulled Apart By Horses ON THE MAINSTAGE and... well... At The Drive In... It could only get better if Soundgarden made an appearance (crosses fingers). And we haven’t even got to the FR or Introducing stages yet... or the Lock Down/Dance line up... or the comedy stage... Yes, it is commercial, yes, it is full of pissed up teenagers but it is still Leeds festival, a massive festival in our back yard that bears our city’s name and I have it on good authority (from two guys who came all the way from Reading to go to Leeds, so...) that it is the preferred locality. And for that weekend, there will be that same buzz of anticipation, only grown several magnitudes larger – and I have a feeling this is going to be a mighty weekend.
Not only are PABH playing the mainstage, but Leeds own Kaiser Chiefs will be up there too. Has he gone for some local action specifically? “Some people have said to me ‘do you pick the local bands for Leeds?’ but the festival republic integrity wouldn’t allow that. We pick the bands because they deserve to be there.” As well as the big names, Leeds Festival will also be hosting the winners of the Martin House Hospice’s Centre Stage competition for a third year, demonstrating FR’s dedication to new music: “The fact that it benefits the hospice is a plus, but it’s a real opportunity for young musicians to be on stage and to learn about their contemporaries.” He’s also a champion of youth in general: “I’ve always had young people at my heart – I abhor the way that young people are given a hard time by the press. The young people in the audiences at Reading and Leeds are tomorrow’s leaders of the country - I’ve been at festivals where the future king of England has been excited by being stood at the side of the stage.”
Melvyn Benn & Leeds Fest.
As well as being a fanzine fan, it also transpires that he is a Pulled Apart By Horses fan, having been introduced to them by their manager. He had to buy his own copy of the new album, though. Opening on the Friday, I ask him if he sees them as a warm up band: “On the contrary actually – I think that world domination beckons - they’ve got a sound that will blow people apart in Germany, in America, in Japan.”
But more than that, he has vowed to put a beer and a burger in the belly of every individual who buys a weekend ticket: “In truth, nothing prompted me apart from philanthropy - I do what I can to make the sponsors help me – if they don’t do that, I’ll pay for it. I’m not naturally a person that just takes and takes, I always want to give things back and at festival republic we always work really hard on charity projects. I just felt I needed to do it.” And for that, I salute you. Will there be haggis there this year though? Can I get haggis...?
In a fug of free Gaymers, I am lucky enough to get a moment of time with Festival Republic honcho Melvyn Benn, a former Hullite and fan of fanzines. He is sipping a white wine, leaning against a spare stage and looking slightly relaxed but also slightly anxious about catching his train down to the big smoke.
Seeing as this is a Glasonbury-free year, I ask him if he feels like ‘a kid in a sweet shop’, literally having the pick of the bunch when it comes to bands this year. “I always feel like a kid in a sweet shop,” he fires back, “anyone in my position should feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Glastonbury’s a unique festival, entirely on its own. Reading and Leeds are music festivals, they have music running through their veins and essentially only music running through their veins – there’s no clowns, no fire eaters, no snake charmers.”
Interview by Rob Wright ~ Images by Carl Fleischer
Anticipation. Despite what the hacks will try and tell you i.e. that they know the line up for Leeds 2012 and have done for months blah blah blah, there is a very tangible sensation of anticipation in this room full of giggers, liggers, bloggers, sloggers, tweeters and the occasional writer. In ten minutes time there will be an electronic barrage comparable to the EMP kicked out by a small nuclear device departing from the cockpit, but for now... anticipation.
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Reason for Visit? Dan – Well once a year a plane comes by each of our houses, picks us up, and says you have to go dance like a monkey, over within the UK. Since we don’t really have a lot going on, we usually get on that plane. Business or pleasure? Dan – A bit of both. Between the hours of 9 and 10.30, it’s business and the rest of the time, it’s business. Derek – I am in the business of pleasure. Dan- Business is good. Derek – Business is a booming. How has touring changed for you over the years? We hope you won’t be all... rock and roll. Dan – On this tour we tend to be our PJs by 11pm. Johnny – He is very happy about that. Derek - Stage to PJs in ten minutes. Dan – Although last night there was a bit of partying. Johnny – In Glasgow. When you come to the UK what do you enjoy the most? Derek – Kebabs! Johnny – Yeah, kebabs here are awesome. We enjoy meeting all the people. The British fans are always so awesome. We really appreciate that. Matt – You guys do really good deli meat. I enjoy the deli meat. I do love some good deli meat.
Drummers are known for being troublemakers, bassists for being lazy – how does a trombone player behave? Dan – The trombone player is usually stoned, although not now, I must stress that. Matt – They love Doritos. They can eat an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting. Dan – That is not true. Matt – And they lie. Dan – I have not had a bag of Doritos on this entire tour. I was fine being insulted by myself, but if you want to join in, please do. Calm down, gentlemen. How have you kept the band relevant when ska is in and out of favour? Dan – It certainly is not by getting a sax player. Matt – Oooohhhhh, like that now is it. Dan – You bet it is. I think Aaron has written the soundtracks of most people’s lives from about 12 to the age of 25. So he is dealing with all the problems that you go through at that time. Matt – You are still going through them. What is next for Reel Big Fish? Dan – We are actually working on a new record. Johnny – Yeyyy finally. Dan – Now I know we have had said we have been working on a new record for what seems like years... Derek – It is years! Dan – ...But Aaron likes these songs, which is very rare. So this time it should happen. It will happen... (stern face) Anything else to declare? Johnny – Don’t eat space cake and try to come back to Britain. (shouts: blood test for Johnny...) Dan – I would like to declare, that I did wear these shoes in an agricultural situation, and brought mad cow into the country with the soil on my boots. Derek – Yeah! I have something to declare... I am not lazy!
Interview by Rochelle Massey ~ Image by Chris Ensell
Names? Dan, and I play the trombone. Derek, and I play Bass John, Johnny Christmas, and I play Trumpet Matt, I play saxophone and sing
When constantly touring do you ever get on each other’s nerves and want space to yourself? I think we have a free holding cell... Dan –I think we are old enough to know when someone wants space. Johnny – yeah, definitely, we have learnt how to stay out of each other’s way when we are feeling that way out. Then the next day they will be fine... Derek – Actually, you should have each of us in the room alone and ask the question again, and then see what answer you get.
Not ones to let the grass grow under our feet, we’ve had a bit of a recruitment drive here at WYPC, so please welcome Officer Rochelle Massey – she doesn’t take any, as Reel Big Fish found out when they got a proper grilling. Fish? Grilling? Oh, forget it...
REEL BIG FISH
Thank you, you may now proceed through passport control. Enjoy Leeds.
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In London, looking like a punk could mean hiding in Malcolm McLaren’s shop for safety, with teddy boy assailants locked outside, shouting for blood. In Leeds it was worse. Hanging around The Queen’s Hall on the night of a concert could lead to a kicking. No matter; the “Anarchy In The UK Tour” brought The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, and (Special Guests) The Clash to Leeds Polytechnic on Monday, December 6th 1976. Unlike other cities on the advertised tour, Leeds actually allowed the gig to proceed. Martin and his pals were there, with hearts pounding and a plan. By the spring of 1977, Martin, with typing by Jayne Cobbe and photos by Steve Dixon, had photocopied the first issue of a remarkable fanzine called New Pose. It was copied, one sided, onto 16 sheets of A4 stapled together and sold through outlets like Virgin Records (who quickly put Martin in charge of their punk-record purchasing). With art school still in his blood, he got contributions from cartoonists too: Mark Manning (founder of the band Zodiac Mindwarp), Ray Burns (aka Captain Sensible) and Jerzy Szostek of Knockabout Comics were active contributors. A lot of the text was handwritten by Martin. The photographs by Jayne Cobbe and Matt Dixon (Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Clash ...) are densely zeitgeist (with contact prints in one issue to save on processing costs). ‘Pin-up’ cartoons by Mark Manning (and Martin) are brilliant. The comic strip review of an Iggy Pop gig and a comic strip biography of The Damned (by
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The fanzine has had a good deal of national attention over the years. NME, championing punk at the time and fast becoming THE music weekly as Melody Maker lost its bearings, put it second only to Sniffin’ Glue as the nation’s best fanzine. (Sniffin’ Glue had started a bit earlier and Martin thought he could make something that looked better. He was right.) New Pose has since been featured in TV documentaries of the era: notably in BBC 2’s Arena series in 1990 and Channel 4’s ‘The Stiff Records Story’ in 2010. But after five issues Martin had run out of steam and the Leeds punk scene was turning into something a lot less exciting and a lot more commercial. New Pose stopped while it was still hot. Each issue had got stronger than the previous one, but things were shifting in Leeds. Martin told me that those descendants of the skin heads and football hooligans were starting to arrive at punk gigs, looking for trouble and going for the smell of bands like Skrewdriver who represented everything that punk had stood against. The cult of punk itself was morphing into goth and new wave. Record labels who had been fast asleep in 1976 were starting to throw chequebooks at people like Elvis Costello who could develop their music and make a series of big money albums. The fierce energy of the punk singles that Martin was selling in Virgin couldn’t maintain their impact on whole albums and something had been lost.
New Pose- Old School Fanzine
Over five spiky issues through the whole of 1977 writing, photographs, comic strips, cartoons, gig news and personal views poured out. Alongside the few Yorkshire artists like S.O.S., The Jerks, Cyanide, The Mirror Boys and The Neck Fuckers there were reviews and interviews with most of the best: The Ramones, The Stranglers, The Vibrators and The Sex Pistols and loads more.
Words by Sam Saunders
In the middle of the blandest musical decade in history, a young Martin Tindall was going about his wide-eyed life listening to New York Dolls and The Stooges, being expelled from Art College and visiting London.
Captain Sensible) are something else. Vibrations should adopt the format immediately (duly noted – any takers? Ed.).
He still remembers doing one DJ set at John Keenan’s first ‘Stars of Today’ series at Leeds Polytechnic but the pressures of his full-time job and putting out New Pose made him back out of a future as a DJ. The New Pose full-set reissue of five can be bought from Crash Records and Jumbo Records. If you have original copies, treasure them and buy these to read all over again.
Long before most Vibrations’ readers and writers were even born, the insanity of providing quality musical opinion, info, news and reviews for our fine city was under the auspices of a certain Martin Tindall. In 1977 he blazed a trail with his fanzine, ‘New Pose’, for such mags as ourselves, so we called on an old friend to big up his seminal publication, now reissued after 35 years. Vibrations own old schooler Sam Saunders was there, so he knows what he’s talking about!
Chills, Thrills and... The Spills!
Just outside of Leeds (I know, bear with me) there is a little star cradle of a town that has spawned the likes of The Cribs, The Research, Runaround Kids and now The Spills. Emma Quinlan managed to get some sense out of them between fits of laughing and breaks for South Park. YOU WILL RESPECT HER AUTHORITAH! They like chilli sauce on beans on toast, eating fish and chips whilst recording and watching South Park. They are The Spills, an indie rock quartet from Wakefield who in fact like watching South Park so much that we stop the interview halfway through, so they can pay attention to the TV in the room and watch a cartoon Rob Schneider make a tool of himself. “Sorry about that,” says Sam, “it’s the best bit of the whole episode.” We’re in the ‘living room’ area at Greenmount studios in Armley. A one-time place of worship, this converted church has ceased to open its doors to the religious and instead acts as a place for bands to record their music. The Spills, consisting of guitarist/singer Rob, bassist Sam, drummer Joe (who is sadly unable to attend) and guitarist/singer Chad, have recorded here a few times and don’t seem to be put off by the weird eeriness that surrounds the place. “We did our EP here and then we did our album here,” explains Rob, “Lee and Jamie, the guys who ran it then, did our EP and album and now I run the studio with them. We just always really liked this studio and we record to analogue tape and it’s got loads of vintage equipment.” Formed around six years ago, The Spills all met in secondary school and began playing together when Rob was in school and the others were in sixth form. “We started pretty young...I was 15 when I started writing some songs and then me and Sam bought a four-track tape recorder. It’s been the same line-up [ever since] but when you have been going from that young obviously it’s very different.”
“You don’t mean that of The Spills do you?”interjects Sam. “No,” laughs Rob, “It’s so different. It’s just that most bands split up…” “…They’re like school bands,” continues Chad, “and then they kind of break up and actually do something.”
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With this, they all begin laughing, which they continue to do throughout the interview, normally at the expense of one another. “Basically,” says Rob, “we carried on when we went to university [even though] we all went to university in different places. In the first year we took it a bit slower and then we kind of built it up again. Then we did an EP and then after university we did the album.” The album he is talking about is ‘Occam’s Razor,’ their fantastic debut that takes all the best bits of the indie genre and whacks them together in one glorious CD. Their work has gathered a respectable amount of praise from the music media (including this very fine publication), which came as a nice surprise for the makers. “We got a lot more reviews than we thought and they were all really nice so it was a pleasant surprise really,” smiles Rob. “Yeah,” chuckles Sam, “I thought we would get like three reviews or something...” Thankfully this has not been the case and instead ‘Occam’s Razor’ has ignited a flame in The Spills and shown the rest of Yorkshire how indie rock should be done. However, even though they regard themselves as an ‘indie band,’ they aren’t fully comfortable with the tagline. “It’s quite an indie band,” mulls Sam, “but I don’t like the word ‘indie’ because people always turn their nose up at it.” He’s got a point. If you say the word ‘indie’ to people, most of them will envisage a bunch of posh lads, touting guitars and flannel shirts but The Spills are definitely not one of these bands. “[Our sound] is noisy and I don’t know if it’s heavy but it’s noisy and a bit rough. [It’s] kind of indie in the sense of American indie…[like] Pixies and Pavement.” So did these bands inspire The Spills to pick up their instruments? “When I started playing guitar I was like 10,” remembers Rob, “So probably [someone] like Jimi Hendrix inspired [me] to start playing guitar.” Apparently this isn’t the first time Jimi Hendrix has been mentioned during an interview…“Do you remember that interview we did when you kept referring to the Jimi Hendrix tape in your dad’s car?” smirks Chad. He doesn’t, but according to Sam he mentioned it “over and over.”
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Words by Emma Quinlan ~ Images by Giles Smith
The band breaks into more smiles and more giggles, with Rob now the target for mockery. “Yeah, my dad had a Jimi Hendrix tape in his car…” jokes Rob, taking their mocks in his stride. Apparently he also had a few others including Bob Marley, but we don’t need to go into that. “I didn’t start playing until I was 15,” says Chad, “So it was mainly that I liked a lot of bands but [also] that everyone else played instruments and I just always wanted to…so I just did.” He makes it sound so easy and The Spills as a whole make being in a band look easier than it probably is. For these lads though, this isn’t exactly an easy life - they all have regular jobs as well as playing in The Spills. There’s no Bono-style private jets and full stadium tours for them, just small chapels with no bars and a bring-your-own-beer policy. “We did an album launch at Chantry Chapel, which is a chapel in Wakefield. The capacity is probably 50
people. It’s a really little place,” explains Rob. “There’s no bar so it was bring your own beer and no toilets so people [were] just having a piss in the open,” adds Sam, “I think [that was the] best gig of ours.”
Not exactly the venue dreams were made of, but it’s not all pissing on walls and cans of Red Stripe for The Spills – no, not all of their live appearances have been that classy. Last year however they were booked for the one-day extravaganza that is Live at Leeds and this year they are doing Long Division (which they also did in 2011), Wakefield’s answer to Live at Leeds and according to Sam, “the festival that is putting Wakefield on the map.”
“They sold it out last year,” adds Rob, “They had Darwin Deez come over, and The Wedding Present.” Is getting Darwin Deez to play really a thing to brag about? “It’s pretty cool that he came from New York to play in Wakefield,” answers Rob and when put like that, I suppose I have to agree… So that’s The Spills, past and future (there doing a split EP with Runaround Kids scheduled for later on in the year) but what about the present and more specifically what are you recording in this creepy old church anyway? “[We’re recording] a track for a compilation,” explains Sam. “Yeah,” adds Rob, “Do you know who Rhubarb Bomb are?” Queue the blank expression. “It’s a Wakefield zine thing and their doing a compilation with loads of Wakefield bands. It’s coming out with a big book on the Wakefield music scene. There’s us, Runaround Kids, The Cribs, Imp, The Research: its Wakefield bands past and present, so we’re recording for that.” Sounds good to us but whilst I wish I could talk to The Spills all night, we all have homes to go to and work to get up for. Before we say goodbye though, any last words? Not that I mean that to sound so terminal. “I’ll make a pledge for this Rhubarb Bomb compilation. [There’s] loads of memorabilia from gigs in Wakefield like big prints of…Artic Monkeys playing Wakefield for instance I think that’s one and there’s one of Kate Nash playing Wakefield. Basically you make a pledge, a certain amount of money for whatever item and obviously you get that item,” explains Rob. “That’s then funding the compilation and this big book on the Wakefield music scene [showing] the history of it and the history of the magazine. You can make a pledge for that online, so it would be good if everyone checks that out, it’s a good thing.” When is this out? “[The compilation] come’s out April 21st I think and it’s called ‘The City Consumes Us.’” “Is it not called ‘The Bomb-palation?” Unfortunately not Sam, but by God we wish it was. ‘The City Consumes Us’ will indeed be available at the end of April, complete with funky book. It is unclear as to whether Rob’s dad still has a Jimi Hendrix tape in his car...
This brings a little grin to all our faces, but apparently the claim is deserved. “It actually is,” says Chad, “it was amazing last year.”
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Not Back in The USSR It actually came as a shock to realise that iForward Russia! Have actually been on permanent Hiatus since 2008, but time flies and all that. Whiskas, not a man to let the grass grow under his feet but having to deal with the responsibilities of a young family, took time out of his busy schedule to speak to Greg Elliott about new honours, new glories... Musician, label owner, manager, producer, promoter - the man known as Whiskas has had many guises throughout his long association with the Leeds scene. He’s sat with me in a Headingley watering hole talking about Honour Before Glory, the solo alias under which he self-released the This Is Broken Lines LP in 2011 and its follow-up EP The Maison earlier this year. The origins of the project can be traced to the dying days of ¡Forward, Russia!, with whom Whiskas played guitar and rode the mid-Noughties ‘New Yorkshire’ wave to something approaching mainstream success. Breaking into the charts, however, came at a price. ‘‘We got swallowed up by the machine,’’ he tells me, ‘‘we were reacting to what other people were doing and we weren’t taking into account what we needed to be doing as individuals. Looking back it was mental that we were hanging around with bands like Editors and Dirty Pretty Things, thinking that we had the same kind of appeal! We wasted a lot of time, energy and money on promotion - it definitely got us bigger, but whether it was the right thing in the long term I don’t know’.” He pauses. ‘‘It’s a bit like Chelsea really.’’
In 2007 ¡Forward, Russia! decamped to Seattle to record their second album, Life Processes. The sessions were marked by a changing dynamic within the band. ‘‘I was coming up with things really quickly,’’ Whiskas recalls, ‘‘before, I would just write a guitar part and we’d build a song around that, but now I was turning up with fully-formed ideas. I would go in and say ‘you do this’ and ‘you do that’. I could hear in my head how the whole thing worked. ‘Some Buildings’ was the first song we’d recorded in such an un-collaborative way. It was awkward - it wasn’t how the band worked and it jarred with all of us I think. When there was downtime I would disappear and mess around with ideas, but they didn’t really fit with what we were doing.’’
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Whiskas had unknowingly planted a seed which would come to fruition with This Is Broken Lines – indeed, standout track ‘Broken Bottles, Empty Hearts’ was written in Seattle and could have been a ¡Forward, Russia! song. Upon his return to Leeds he tried to record some demos with friends Jamie Lockhart (Mi Mye) and Jon Foulger (Duels), but the project quickly stalled. ‘‘I didn’t really know what to do with it, why I was doing it or what it was for,’’ he admits, ‘‘I didn’t want it to be another band, but maybe a more coherent collective of people than it ended up being. In many ways it was a reaction to the experience of four people in a room trying to write songs together. When you’re in a band you don’t think of every detail - there’s always somebody adding their two cents and usually in a really good way. It was almost like an experiment, pulling all of the ideas together myself and seeing what happened. That’s probably why it took four years!’’ He laughs. It was the demise of ¡Forward, Russia! at the end of 2008 that started bringing things into focus. An interest in production, sparked by the more holistic approach to song-writing he had taken with Life Processes, led Whiskas to enrol on a postgraduate course at LMU. Freshly up-skilled, he entered the House of Mook recording studios in Meanwood to begin work on his debut solo album. It was a serious undertaking - as well as producing Whiskas played every instrument himself, with the exception of live drums performed by Simon Fogal of I LIKE TRAINS. Backing vocals came courtesy of a cast of Leeds musicians known to Whiskas from his famous association with local independent label Dance To The Radio, including Fran Rodgers, Sam Airey and I LIKE TRAINS frontman Dave Martin. ‘‘I would say to them ‘I want this to happen – I trust you to make it good’,’’ he explains. ‘‘I’d know I wanted a certain vocal range filling, or a transition on the drums to get us from a verse into the chorus, but people had the license to be creative and come up with their own ways of achieving what I’d asked for.”
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Words by Gregg Elliott ~ Images by Chris Ensell
Honour Before Glory
This was uncharted territory for Whiskas. For one thing, he was placing a much greater emphasis on the sound of the songs. ‘‘I already knew about arrangements,’’ he tells me, ‘‘like, in the second verse the guitar’s going to drop out or the vocals are going to change melody or whatever – but now it was more like, okay, the drums are going to pass through a filter, the kick drum’s going to bottom out, all these synth and percussion things are going to be happening. I was learning as I went. I enjoyed the process, but if I couldn’t get the sound the way I wanted there was no one I could turn to.” There were some advantages to working in isolation, however. ‘‘My experience with bands is that you have a thing, then you do another thing, then you do another thing,’’ he explains, ‘‘you can’t get into the detail too much. With Honour Before Glory the songs are mainly verse-chorusverse-chorus-end, but they’re interesting because of how they’re produced. I can’t imagine being in a room with people discussing why all these different things need to happen at these very specific times’’.
as well as upcoming releases by Soul Circus and Kleine Schweine, and organising the 2012 Unconference as part of Live At Leeds next month. That’s not to mention the day job, which sees Whiskas passing on his wisdom as a lecturer at LMU. He remains passionate about empowering musicians to take control of their art and keep their integrity, prompting me to ask if the name he’s chosen for his latest project is a reference to this continuing preoccupation. He nods. ‘‘It’s what ¡Forward, Russia! was about too - doing things in the right way and for the right reasons. It’s not about glory - I just want stuff to get the recognition it deserves.”
He remains passionate about empowering musicians to take control of their art and keep their integrity
This Is Broken Lines also represents Whiskas’ first experience of writing lyrics. Given that he became a husband and a father while the album was – if you’ll excuse the pun – gestating, did these upheavals in his personal life inform its lyrical content? ‘‘The album is musically rather than lyrically driven,’’ he insists, ‘‘the lyrics are quite insular – they mean a lot to me but probably not much to anybody else! The feel of the album is very mono-chrome; the ideas are all very black and white. Fran [Rodgers, also a talented illustrator if you ever wanted to type ‘Lazy Dane’ into Google] came up with some great artwork to represent that.”
It might have been taken off the road for the time being, but Whiskas is keen to stress that Honour Before Glory is still a going concern. There are plans to go back into the studio with some new songs this year, and there may well be a quite different live manifestation of his muse before too long. It can be whatever he wants it to be, after all. ‘‘The early songs were quite Americana-influenced, a bit more rock and roll,’’ he tells me, ‘‘things got more electro as I went on. I really like the sound of the later songs – they’re a lot more synthetic. None of the songs I recorded at the end had live drums and I didn’t miss them. So I have this idea that in the future I could do songs like ‘Shadow Into’ [a seven-minute epic of pensive ambience and perhaps the most experimental track on the album] on my own’’. He smiles wryly. ‘‘I wouldn’t expect it to be exciting to watch though!” We’ll see. This Is Broken Lines and The Maison are both available via Bandcamp and, though you may not see Honour Before Glory in a hurry, if you see Whiskas, buy him a beer...
So, he had a finished album he was pleased with – time to promote it with a fuck load of live shows, right? Not by the looks of the Honour Before Glory website, which proclaims no gigs for the foreseeable future. ‘‘It’s never been a live thing - hence its problem with being a live thing!’’ explains Whiskas. ‘‘With my previous bands the songs were written with gigs in mind and it was cool to be able to get away from that. The un-live parts have defined the directions the songs have gone in, rather than vice versa. I’ve been able to put two drum kits or ten guitars on a song because I haven’t been worrying about how I’m going to do it live. We’ve done some shows, but I’ve found them really unsatisfactory. I’m not a strong singer and I don’t feel confident or comfortable fronting a band. It’s a shame, but there are other things I enjoy more. I’m so busy – I have to prioritise.” These competing priorities – aside from the obvious responsibilities of home life - include playing guitar for Sam Airey and Monte Carlo, producing their new EPs
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Albums Stalking Horse – Specters (Role Model Corporate) For those of you who were disappointed with last year’s Radiohead curveball ‘King of Limbs’, this could be the album you were waiting for all along. To say that Stalking Horse has only a passing Yorke-ian vocal twinge would be a massive understatement. And by the time ‘The Creeps’ (oh, come on…) kicks in you’re starting to wonder if Stalking Horse is just a pseudonym for an RH side project. In actual fact, Specters is the debut LP from Ex-This Et Al frontman, Wu, under a new moniker. Comparisons to Radiohead should be received in the most complimentary sense too as this album is genuinely brilliant: warm, pulsing and dare I say it, catchy, this ticks all my hypothetical checklist entries. Other comparisons to the likes of Wild Beasts and Clinic hold their water well in tracks like ‘The Dawn Is Father To The Sun’ and ‘Waterhole’ and there’s a definite Vessels vibe about ’99 Stairs’. Plenty of variety too: ‘Mistress’ is a piano-led epic complete with quirky obscure lyrical hooks (“There’s no food on the table/and you’re laughing at his bedside manner”) while closer ‘Lament’ rounds things off in a suitably thoughtful manner.
Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS (Brew Records) Admittedly, never having heard Blacklisters before, I was a little daunted by the prospect of composing a review about a band that are generally held in a demi-god like status by other Vibrations writers. I was even more perturbed when I heard they’d been compared to Glassjaw. I had the distinct feeling that they were going to be one in a number of bands haunted by the irritating legacy of the aforementioned band and their 90s posthardcore contemporaries, and I had the distinct impression I was going to hate it. I expected something between overt, incessant machismo and the whiny verbal atrocities of teenage melodrama. What a relief then when I inserted the CD into my hi-fi and was confronted by some of the most visceral, unrelenting and superb ear candy I’ve ever encountered during my short acquaintance with the local music scene. Blacklisters manage to execute with intrepid precision the build and release dynamics required for music of this aggressive quality. But they manage to do it without resorting to derivative breakdowns or bravado. Instead, they combine audio savagery with a tongue in cheek ethos. I always feel a lack of critical prowess in using the idiom ‘good riffs’ to justify a piece of music, but in this case, it’s objective. Blacklisters have an ear for what makes a ‘good riff’. Check
I struggle to find fault with Specters: as an album it’s well-balanced (having been given the full James Kenosha treatment) and full of beautifully constructed tunes. There’s only a very thin resemblance to This Et Al, it feels like Neil ‘Wu’ Widdup is well on his way towards developing a truly idiosyncratic sound. In the meantime, he’s produced a stunning first record and with a live band of veritable Leeds all-stars is a project worth following, even if it does have you reaching for your copy of In Rainbows. Tim Hearson
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out album opener ‘Clubfoot by Kasabian’ to see what I mean. Whatever it is, sublime or otherwise, Blacklisters are masters of their own game and they’ve barely been out of my hi-fi ever since. Benjamin Rutledge Hawk Eyes – Ideas (Brew Records) There are some bands that you love because you can rely on them to produce a consistent quality of work every time – like AC/DC, for instance. Who am I kidding? You love them because they’ve been producing the same album for the last thirty years. In 2010, Hawk Eyes did that literally but grudgingly with Modern Bodies. In 2012 I can reassure you that they are not doing this again. Ideas is a completely different fish – in fact, I’d be tempted to say it was a completely different species. It is still a fast, riff heavy piece of work, but the emphasis has changed from cramming each song with as much punishing fret work as possible to creating mammoth melodies with Kyuss-deep bass, Mastodon-like complexity and Korn-ish beats; there are choruses to sing along to as well.
Hawk Eyes may not be as angry as before, but this considered approach is just as, if not more, striking – targets include herd mentality in ‘Bees’, desperate avarice in ‘You Deserve a Medal’, directionless existence in ‘Sky Spinners’. But despite the frustration felt by the band, the power of the music, rhythm and riff keep pushing it through. Evolution is a messy business, but by golly this is one beautiful mess. Rob Wright Holy State - Electric Picture Palace (Brew Records) This Leeds (via Norwich) four-piece ride the current wave of first generation indie-rock nostalgia on an LP abounding with tasteful references to Fugazi at their more languid (‘Age of ADHD’) and Sonic Youth at their most reined-in (‘Ride’). Holy State studiously replicate the stylistic quirks of their illustrious forebears to construct songs replete with nimble guitar lines, insistent melodies and dynamic twists; the lead singer even gives Thurston Moore’s distinctive drawl an East Anglian spin. Such relentless reverence could wear thin over the course of twelve songs, but the concision of the band’s approach - which rarely allows a track to pass the three minute mark - sends Electric Picture Palace rushing by in a kinetic haze which is undeniably fun. We’re not just talking superficial thrills either – there’s some real craft on display here, from the infectious stomp of ‘Lady Magika’ to hook-filled barroom delight ‘Medicine Hat’ and the verging-on-theanthemic ‘Solid State Messiah’. In short, it’s an album full of reasons to catch the band on their valedictory May tour and to lament their early passing. Admittedly your reviewer fits squarely into the post-grunge demographic at which they’re squarely aimed, but at least Holy State
It is however the revelation that Paul Astick can sing like Joey Belladonna or Mike Patton that really brings home how different this album is to anything that has gone before – yes, he can
bark ‘shot up up!’ furiously on ‘Sky Spinners’, but he’ll follow it up with the plaintive ‘to spin back down’, and by the time you reach ‘Bears By The Head’s vocal gymnastics the evidence is overwhelming – Hawk Eyes have gone way beyond the realm of the incoherent scream and voice as instrument.
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Living’; and the fear of not being cool/being too cool on ‘Degeneration Game’ and ‘Shake Off the Curse’. What Tom Hudson has managed to do here is a masterstroke of lyrical laconic understatement. Snappy and to the point. But despite this the album is a whole lot of fun, with its B Movie references both in the songs and the music and pillaging of the genres from thrash to glam and I kid you not you will play this over and over again just to sing or thrash or empathise along to. But this is not just a bit of fun; this is a long haul album for a long haul band. don’t sully the lineage to which they lay claim. Indeed, if their efforts turn younger listeners onto the genre trailblazers their sound so skilfully echoes, I’m all for it. Greg Elliott
Mature. There, I said it. Rob Wright Various Artists – The City Consumes Us (Rhubarb Bomb)
Wakefield music magazine Rhubarb Bomb is five years old this year and decided to celebrate the fact by not only putting together a CD of exclusive and rare tracks donated by the great Last year saw Pulled Apart By Horses and the good of the City’s music scene, but also eponymous debut unleashed on an unwary by writing a book about the whole thing. Hubris, public, and boy was it a full on tantrum of you may think, but as this mind bogglingly good stupid diatribes, shrieking, guitars and more CD demonstrates for a small city of only 75,000 nutpicks than you could shake a plectrum at. inhabitants, Wakefield has an embarrassment Now I wouldn’t say that ‘Tough Love’ is a more of musical excellence that per capita probably restrained offering; it’s still completely deranged. betters that of Leeds. No really. I would however say it is a more considered offering and... I don’t want to say it... more mat... There’s only a couple of weak tracks on this matu... look, this may take a while... 18 song compilation and although you’d hardly expect a hand-picked selection to include many Starting where we left off from the last album, duffers, the variety on offer is amazing and if ‘V.E.N.O.M’ is as unrelenting a face melter nothing else this CD should lay to rest the idea as you could get, joining the dots between that all Wakefield bands’ sound the same. The Motorhead and Gold Earring via Anthrax, with a best thing about it though is that all the really vocal intensity to match anything from the last strong tracks were recorded this year, some album. There is however more beneath the fury; specifically for the compilation, and suggest a frustration, venom in fact. The anger on the that superb music is set to flow from the city for last album was jokey, good humoured; this is the foreseeable future. potentially dangerous. There’s not enough space to mention all the There’s a lot of fear on this album too. The fear outstanding tracks here, but you should get the of ageing and not changing on ‘Wolf Hand’ CD at least for: Middleman’s ‘Hate Yourself’, – ‘When I was a kid I was a dick/But nothing a brilliant but uncharacteristically dark and changes’; the fear of people on ‘Night of The brooding rumination on betrayal and back Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love (Transgressive Records)
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The book will probably be a good read too. Steve Walsh
Rhubarb Bomb are funding the CD and book through a Pledge Music campaign – go here http:// www.pledgemusic.com/artists/rhubarbbomb
The Truth About Frank – Dandelion Radio Sessions (Self release) Readers may already be familiar with Leeds electronic duo The Truth About Frank (TTAF) and their full debut ‘Cannibal Work Ethic’ (CWE), voted one of Vibrations favourite albums of 2012. The 6 tracks on ‘Dandelion Radio Sessions’ are compiled from two separate sessions that predate CWE and to this extent seem less developed. However, what the lighter touch evident in these recordings does is offer listeners the opportunity to look beneath the surface and get a better feel for the core forces at play within TTAF.
opens with the Wire-esque ‘Harms Sweet Way’, its propulsive soft-top down sheet metal riff suggesting that TTAF may have hot-wired a Mustang in order to escape the post industrial landscape we keep trying to imprison them in. If they did where were they heading? The obvious clue is in the closer, ‘Someone Else’s Rainbow’ – TTAF unplugged, powered down and chilling in Laurel Canyon? Too radical a journey to contemplate? Perhaps you should join them and then decide. Martin Haley
stabbing; Protectors ‘Cauliflower’ a punchy, chunky song that boasts a chorus worthy of the Beatles at their very best; Lapels ‘How I Killed The Magnethead’, a fantastic example of the idea that all it takes is a battered, banged out acoustic guitar riff, imaginative, freewheeling lyrics and buckets of attitude to make a great song; One Day, After School….’s sparse and skeletal ‘Nova Scotia’, which deliberately pays homage to the great Arab Strap; and the frazzled punk of Runaround Kids ‘Undress’.
Available free from http://thetruthaboutfrank. bandcamp.com/releases
Arizona Bay – Refuse (Self Release) Too often do bands these days have mediocre lead vocals. Relying more on their dolled-up guitar riffs and their repetitive drum pulsations than on the man at the front. Thankfully, Arizona Bay subvert this shit ridden convention that so many bands seem to fall into. You want proof? Then check out their new album Refuse. If you were one of those who grew up in the midst of the grunge-dominated media phase in the 90’s, then you will recognise this album as having some potential. Maybe grunge is the wrong term here, as that insinuates a return to the 90’s, which isn’t the case. Post-grunge is more suiting, as the album is more of a cocktail-time machine of modern rock with traditional gritty grunge riffs that give birth to a musical hybrid, which sounds pretty damn good.
Or perhaps I am taking it all too seriously; maybe I should just put it on and dance, because essentially that’s what it makes me want to do. Not in a joyfully expressive way but more as the conscripted member of a synchronised blast furnace worker dance troupe, dropping Es and uberstrutting in an abandoned East German foundry. The searing industrial jazz opener ‘Oxygen Orgy’ establishes the tone in this respect acting as a viscous precursor to the more minimal trance of ’Section B’ and orchestral machine frenzy of ‘Headless Rentman’. Session two
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Vibrant indicators of the bands potential can be found; ‘Footsteps’, ‘Open Fire’ and ‘Letting Go’ where the refined grunge synchronicity shines through. The most striking element is undoubtedly Rhys Williams’ voice, which has to be said, is exactly how a grunge voice should sound. Hitting the high and low notes to produce an alternative melodic dimension to the band’s tracks, Williams’ voice makes the album with a paradox of rugged perfection. However, the Seattle scene tends to influence his singing accent at times. That’s a minor issue though, and focus should be placed on the band’s collective ability to produce an easy listening album that has great potential to become successful. Definitely one to look out for. Jonathan Lees Wilful Missing – Molehills out of Mountains (Little Attic) With a name like Wilful Missing, I expected this to be some sort of modern age folk. I was not far from wrong. The opening of ‘Cry for the City’ is a beautiful opener (I am a sucker for a little bit of modern classical choir). Half way through I can’t help but think they are jumping on this fad of folk music. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good song, an amazing song that is wonderfully produced and created with such enthusiasm, but it does not excite me. I feel like I have heard it before. ‘The Waltz’ has exciting parts that makes you want to raise a toast and sing along during the chorus, but then as soon as you get into it, it’s snatched away. ‘I Am Clay’ is a refreshing song to hear on this album. It is upbeat and makes you want to move. This is my highlight of the album. If there were a few more tracks like this I think that would rate the album a little higher.
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Overall it is a good album, it just lacks in certain aspects. If you’re into slow and peaceful, then you are going to love it. But for me it does get samey after a while. Rochelle Massey Available to buy from http://www. marchofdimesmusic.com/sleeping-giant/
Cable 35 – Louder (Self release) Another day, another alternative band from Yorkshire. Thankfully, however, like many of the bands from around this region, Cable 35 are not a big pile of conformist tripe. Instead they are loud, brash, exciting and uniquely brilliant. With a sound that meets somewhere in the middle of Pulled Apart By Horses, Hawk Eyes and Nirvana, Cable 35’s debut album ‘Louder’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Starting with one of the grungiest and best tracks on the album, ‘Cow Head,’ the album contains a mammoth 16 songs, which in this age of short attention spans and quick fixes could have proved a costly move. However, when every song is as good as this, why would you leave some out? From the distorted guitars and snarling vocals on ‘Can I’ to the slow and dark Pixies-like tones of ‘Lost City,’ the album packs a mean punch, both above and below the belt. Favourites on this debut include ‘House Of Fire,’ whose chorus sounds like a brutal homage to Madness’s ‘House Of Fun’; ‘Fact In Spain’ which plays host to a delicious guitar solo; ‘Come Down To Party,’ a melodic yet gritty affair and ‘Memories,’ a tempo-switching beast that you can’t help but bang your noggin to. They don’t have the most rock and roll name in music, nor do they have the luxury of big label money. What Cable 35 do have is more precious than that: talent, most of which seems to have gone into this blisteringly, fantastic debut. Emma Quinlan
Available to buy from http://www.cable35.co/ For more reviews, go to www.vibrations.org.uk – it’s been a big month!
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Bilge Pump/Two Minute Noodles/Cowtown @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds First up is Cowtown, whose bouncy quirk-rock has you smiling and nodding in the most positive senses of the words. The Devo t-shirt adorned by synth-maestress Hillary Knott gives a couple of ideas as to where one should look for influences, but for those unacquainted they’re like a grungier White Stripes with a less tokenistic drummer and far more frenetic sound. A little bit onedimensional perhaps – it’s all a tad ‘smash and grab’ - but still, by the end of their sharp set I’m so happy I could piss myself. Two Minute Noodles step up now to have their say and it’s another line-up that pleases me from the off. A duo of drums and electric organ, this is what I imagine an icecream van fighting its way through the zombie apocalypse would sound like. What amazes me is how well it all hangs together – the drumming is especially brilliant (and a pleasure to watch) with its frantic beats and its general pissing about with tempo. All-out stomper ‘Black Rod’ has to be the clincher though; these are some badass tunes. As if that wasn’t enough, scene patriarchs Bilge Pump line up for a dose of heavy riffing that has the heads going once again. Fans of That Fucking Tank will recognise the style of rock-riff mashups while the proggy lyrics assert Bilge Pump’s status as kings among nerds. Something about them reminds me of Rush. Not sure why, but I imagine that comparison might get me into trouble somewhere. A more ‘traditional’ rock sound to end the night, but no less ballsy and excellent. Tim Hearson Hawk Eyes/These Monsters/Hookworms/Shallows @ The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds To kick start this metal packed montage of mayhem, a worthy precursor for the headliners Shallows were the first band to take to the stage. Shallows’ talented female singer dominated the zone with an unforgiving display of strenuous vocal ability, which the crowd seemed to enjoy. Hookworms were up next and their psychedelic, cool style of rock was a pleasant change of pace in the venue. The band was visibly hyped – their elongated guitar riffs and thoughtful combinations of very impressive keyboard and drum vibes reinforced the unconscious journey that everyone was being taken on.
After Hookworms, These Monsters geared up. I didn’t know what to expect from this trio, but even after their first couple of songs I was blown away by how awesome they were. Fast, sharp and tasty metal/rock riffs that smashed everyone square in their faces! Suffice to say, everyone
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loved it. The front-man emitted a screaming voice that perfectly matched the speed of the composition, finishing in a barrage of claps and cheers… Definitely one to look out for! Finally… Hawk Eyes. Although the crowd had diminished slightly, the venue was still rammed and eager to absorb the new tracks from their upcoming LP, ‘Ideas’. No time wasted: they quickly showed the crowd why they are one of Leeds’ finest live acts. Hawk Eyes blew the lid off the Social Club, performing an explosive array of metal. Tracks played tonight included ‘Kiss This’, ‘NASA vs. ESA’ and ‘Headstrung’, each producing a wave of nodding heads that broke on each drum pulsation. Their new drummer is an animal, and the band as a whole are exceptional. An intriguing night. Jonathan Lees Pulled Apart By Horses @ The Leadmill, Sheffield Taking to the stage to the not-so-dulcet tones of ‘Requiem for a Tower’, it’s clear that Pulled Apart By Horses mean business. Big business. Two albums in and threatening to break the lock on the door of mainstream rock, they have a lot to prove and tonight, in Sheffield’s The Leadmill, they do so with aplomb. If the sonic assault of opener ‘I Punched a Lion in the Throat’ heralds the battle, then ‘Bromance Ain’t Dead’ and new single ‘V.E.N.O.M’ wage the war. Both tracks are from new album Tough Love and the heavy but remarkably tight riffs are recalled note perfectly, displaying just how far the band have come as a live unit. The notably tattooed-older-male dominated audience lends itself to some formidable circle pitting, even if frontman Tom does put the kibosh on one audience member’s drunken request for a wall of death. Pulled Apart By Horses are not pugnacious men: in fact, they come across as a humble and well-grounded four piece who profess themselves this evening to be ‘just a bunch of shitheads playing music.’ All humbleness aside, there is definitely something about their epic, chugging breakdowns and brilliantly ludicrous song titles that seem to demand a riotous crowd response more befitting of a Sunday derby between two Yorkshire teams, creating a jubilant atmosphere that lasts long into the night. Mission accomplished. Jenessa Williams Submotion Orchestra @ The Wardrobe, Leeds I was in the rare position of reviewing a band I had never listened to before, a rare but good position. Before going to the gig, I began to conjure up my own ideas about Submotion Orchestra. My thoughts were solely based
Live Reviews To witness such an array of extraordinary sounds was mind blowing; it was hard to tell whether I was at an indie gig or an underground rave. The best word I can use to describe the atmosphere in The Wardrobe was ‘buzzing’; there wasn’t one still body in the room. It was also interesting to see the mixture of people at the gig, proving that Submotion’s music reaches a wide audience. The voice of singer Ruby could easily rank high amongst some of the greatest dance music singers of our time: similar to Katy B, but with much more depth. This voice is complimented so perfectly by the unique dub-stepmeets-jazz sound created by the other multi-talented members of the band. All hailing from various different musical backgrounds, each member brings they own flavour to the exceptional Submotion Orchestra. Their new single It’s Not Me, It’s You is definitely one to add to your iPod. Stacie Lloyd Extra Curricular @ Hifi, Leeds It’s the start of the night; we’re all thinking about dancing, but no one is at that level where alcohol has replaced inhibition so we’re all awkwardly shuffling at the front of the stage. The hardcore fans might take it up a gear to a tentative two step in preparation for the band but the whole room is self consciously holding onto their drinks, savouring every sip, because otherwise we’re going to have to think about what to do with BOTH arms. However as soon as Extra Curricular take to the stage, drinks are thrown back, clothes are coming off and everyone, and I truly mean everyone, gets down. Strangers are dancing with strangers and everyone has forgotten whether their hair looks alright or if that guy from Friday is here yet. Soon enough the whole room
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It’s not just the music Extra Curricular creates - it’s the atmosphere. The set was perhaps a little too short (they could have played all night and it wouldn’t have been enough) but it did leave everyone wanting (and chanting) for more. Hana Walker-Brown Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles/Hunting Bears @ Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds Openers Hunting Bears have a lush, full sound which is impressive for a four piece and owes much to the double bass/violin combo. Battling hard against Shopkeepers’ punk-friendly acoustics, there’s a buzz of chatter that’s never quite quashed until gorgeous closer ‘Only in My Skin’, a tender 4-part harmony country chorale, leaves the majority’s collective jaw hanging. Personal favourite ‘Heavy Tree’ also packs a bit of a punch once it gets going but this gentle band could do with perfecting their crowd handling.
Image by Gary Wolstenholme
Entering a packed out venue was my first indication of Submotion’s popularity. For the first half of the set I couldn’t even see the stage. Perhaps this was a positive thing though, as I could make my judgments based solely on what I was hearing.
is sweating, the kind of sweat that no one is going to judge you for, the kind of sweat that makes passersby on the street jealous because you‘ve had a better time than they have.
Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles are next up with a massive pop sound and a booming baritone vocal delivery: I can’t help but feel like I’m being sung to by a 1920s aviator. That said, it’s the creative, vibrant brass arrangements that make this really special: fanfares, chorales and the occasional sweeping flute line have a pastoral charm and give the whole sound a massive mid-range boost. One particularly effective song has the rhythm section pounding out a low groove that showcases this band’s ear for the overall package. If I am to gripe, all the most energetic and best written songs seem to come at the start and I couldn’t help but feel like the performance seemed to settle down a bit too much. Also, the drummer’s sense of timing is liberal at best but to his credit I think it added a bit of extra energy to proceedings. These are very minor criticisms though as Arthur Rigby... are one of the most inventive bands I’ve seen in a long time. In a word: sterling. Tim Hearson
on their name but it turned out my predictions couldn’t have been further from the truth. They weren’t quite the orchestra I was expecting.
Pengilly’s/Garnets @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Opening up the night is Garnets who are mellow and spacey of the ilk of Hernameiscalla, Tomorrow We Sail et al. The slow moving compositions show a lot of promise but prove somewhat formulaic. This kind of music needs epic rises and falls to grab your attention but Garnets music by and large plateaus around the mid-range. Also, the laptop additions seem slightly tokenistic given the onstage keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, all the ingredients are in there – Garnets just needs the stones and the variety to shake things up a bit. Pengilly’s are a bit special. Frontman Ric Hollingberry has a face you’d love to punch and an unabashedly southern whine (think The Kooks dialled up a notch) but their sound is captivating. Stripped back, synth laden and cerebral, there’s a dark groove to these minimal tunes. Lead single ‘Toby’s Hill’ starts with Hollingberry layering up a looped chorale before dipping into a warm bath of electronica. Add in some Radiohead-worthy basslines – also a shameless rip off of the one from ‘The Immigrant Song’ – and drums that sizzle and shimmer and you’ve got a band who deserve every bit of the recent radio airplay they’ve been granted. A home crowd and fairly packed room give this gig a great atmosphere leaving me very little to quarrel with. Tim Hearson Asa Hawks/Round Window/Iona Dhrum @ Carpe Diem, Leeds Last time I was at Carpe Diem, someone came in and spat at the barmaid, followed by a pitchfork wielding mob shouting ‘burn the witch!’ I really should get down more. Actually, it’s not been that long (though the spitting part is true) but it has been rather remiss of me not to check out CD and Grain Division and to keep a weather eye on what’s going down in the town. Naughty Ed. I’ve always been a bit wary of ‘projects’ and when Jess Kershaw announces herself as the project Iona Dhrum, warning bells start to chime. She then strikes up an ethereal key on her Roland and sings about drifty stuff. The drifty stuff is not really her though and hardly a decent match for her voice, which is strong and warm. Fortunately she picks up a guitar and does herself justice with some more earthy tunes. This is the good stuff, stick with it – be loud, be proud, be Jess Kershaw.
I start doodling a bit of stick man porn during Round Window’s set, which is never a good sign. They are definitely proficient, but the music is interesting rather than exciting – a blend of prog, folk and good old fashioned rock. It’s a bit... indulgent and twiddly and can
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be summed up by the lead singer’s confession of ‘writing this one in a conservatory’. The last song really steps it up, though, in classic ‘Who’ style – this is really what everything else should sound like too. Get out of that conservatory. Despite coming on at 10.45, The Asa Hawks show no signs of fatigue and strike up a jaunty country... sorry, ‘Americana’, number that is chock full of joie de vivre. Katy, in a very sparkly top, comes across as a Yorkshire Kirsty McColl, vocally charming and approachable, while the rest of the band creates a Dick Dale/James Yorkston/ Johnny Cash groove. It’s funny, it’s enjoyable... it’s bloody cheeky in places (especially the lifting of a Cure riff and the casually dropped in homage to the Dueling Banjos) but more than that, the band are loving it. That makes them very likeable, for me and the rest of the audience. You might like them too. Rob Wright Kane-Hession-D’Silva/Swinepipe @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds This was the first in a (hopefully long running) series of jazz/improv gigs under the new Fusebox banner, actually a collaboration between a revived Leeds Jazz and a reactivated Leeds Improvised Music Association (LIMA). Don’t know about you but I’m excited already. Prior to this gig I hadn’t really appreciated the full range of instruments included in the clarinet family. Swinepipe, a trio consisting of Richard Ormrod, Helen Baines and Ollie Dover, come armed to the teeth with different versions of the instrument, and are here to educate anyone prepared to listen. They open with an Astor Piazzolla tango which highlights the traditional, warmly woody sound of the standard clarinet, but then move on to a piece with three bass clarinets to create a deep, hypnotic drone, and finish with their eponymous anthem which does a good job of creating an ear splitting storm of noise not unlike electric guitar feedback. No, really. Leeds born drummer Paul Hession and Leeds based double bassist Dave Kane are no strangers to the national and international jazz and improv scene, while saxophonist Karl D’Silva may only be familiar to Leeds audiences from his other band The Trumpets of Death. Hession and Kane dominate this trio with some typically furious playing from the former that cooks the music to boiling point repeatedly throughout the set, and Kane rises to the challenge with some raging playing that’s clearly utterly exhausting. D’Silva seems a bit unsure of what to do in the quieter passages, possibly prompting Hession and Kane to keep things loud and fast, an approach which seems to suit the saxophonist’s penchant for short, repeated phrases anyway. Steve Walsh
Born to Brew/Chris Sharkey @ Fox & Newt, Leeds 20 April Virtuosic, maniacal jazz keysmith Matthew Bourne brings his esoteric duo Born to Brew to the Fox & Newt, supported by Trio VD guitar demon, Chris Sharkey. Moist. Monmon/Round Window/Snakepot Fanny @ The Packhorse, Leeds 21 April The lowly showing of the headliners Garage Rock album in last year’s Vibrations Fight Before Christmas shouldn’t put you off going to this gig. The album just gets better with repeated listens and the songs have extra wallop when played live. Rhubarb Bomb 5th Birthday ‘The City Consumes Us’ Launch @ The Orangery, Wakefield 21 April Wakefield music fanzine, Rhubarb Bomb, is 5 years of age and it looks like they’re having a bit of a do. The lineup consists of a stellar bunch of Wakefield staples including The Spills, Piskie Sits, Runaround Kids, Mi Mye, Imp and St Gregory Orange. The launch is also in aid of release of a special book, The City Consumes Us, a pledge-funded biography of the Wakefield music scene.
Submotion Orchestra @ The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge 26 April Classy Leeds jazz/dubstep outfit featuring some of the top jazz musicians the city has produced in the last few years (including Tommy Evans, Simon Beddoe) and the seductive, smoky vocals of Ruby Wood. Last year’s excellent debut Finest Hour deserves a wider audience. From A Bad Girl @ Heart Community Centre, Headingley, Leeds 28 April This quintet features Norwegian vocalist Kari Bleivik, recently voted Vocalist of the Year in the Jazz Yorkshire Awards 2012, and the band use jazz, Scandinavian folk music, experimental and improvised music in settings of the words of Swedish poet Karin Boye. The venue is a recently opened community and arts centre in Headingley. Live at Leeds @ All over Leeds, 5 May Yes, it’s time for the annual day-long music slog that is Live at Leeds. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably need a nap half way through. Absolutely something for everyone with Los Campesinos! Marina and the Diamonds and The Enemy rubbing shoulders with the likes of Scroobius Pip, Ghostpoet and Blacklisters (though probably not actually, could you imagine..?).
Renegade Brass Band @ Hifi, Leeds 22 April A horn-based funktacular from Sheffield, these can hold their own against the likes of Hypnotic Brass, Youngblood and Horndog.
Sir Richard Bishop/Michael Flower Band/Herb Diamante @ Fox & Newt, Leeds 24 April The Fox & Newt is rapidly becoming THE place to catch the cream of avant garde and left field bands and musicians in Leeds. Guitarist Sir Richard Bishop founded Sun City Girls thirty years ago but is a prolific collaborator and, probably his modus operandi at this gig, solo performer. Michael Flower does magical things with noise and Herb Diamante does weird stuff in song.
Words by Tim Hearson / Steve Walsh
The Pigeon Detectives @ Elland Road Stadium, Leeds 18 April Leeds’ definitive beery lad’s band literally plays to the terraces in what is probably their spiritual home. This date precedes a 16 date UK tour in May of considerably smaller indoor venues.
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This Women’s Work
It is a sad fact that the music industry is not as groovy as everyone would like to think – there is still a lot of gender-based inequality out there… and it really needs to go the way of the dinosaur. Fortunately, music tends to attract the sort of people who want to do something about it, as Kate Wellham discovered at the inaugural Wombeatz Conference. Some of this may come as a shock to you… It’s International Women’s Day and we’re on our way to a man-hating, hairy-legged musical event so militant that it’s been organised exclusively for girls. I’m imagining it as a sort of training camp where we will learn such dark arts as how to render a man infertile with the flick of a single drumstick, and how to close the pay gap by taking our 17% from the removal and sale of his now unnecessary organs as maracas.
Sarah – who is in a band herself, Esper Scout - goes on to explain that today’s event is not about hating men and wanting them to go away and leave music to us, it is merely about giving women an environment where they can experiment with some new skills outside the typically testosterone-heavy music scene in which they will find themselves immersed if they dive straight in. And it’s the diving straight in that is the only way to learn, but which sadly seems to be the most intimidating part for women who want to try their hand at anything to do with music technology.
If you’re a man reading this, and you’re in any way involved in music, then you’ll probably have felt some trepidation at attempting something beyond your technical ability; maybe if you’re a musician you’ll have felt the nauseating nerves that come before a performance; or if you’ve promoted then you’ll have had to front up to The inconspicuous venue has been made slightly more someone at some point. But the chances are you won’t conspicuous by the sporadic hanging of pink and blue have felt on the back foot from the very start, because of balloons both inside and outside – the only indication that your gender; you won’t have felt all eyes in the audience anything sinister is going on. on you for the wrong reasons; you probably won’t have been referred to as a boy band; you won’t have been Yes, pink AND blue. AND there’s a boy here! And instead of blanked completely by a business contact who refuses plans to take over the world, there are biscuits. to talk to your sort; and you won’t have experienced – actually experienced, rather than imagined – the crushing What subversion is this? expectations from everyone around you that whatever you are about to do is probably going to be a little bit Sneaking a peek into the various rooms reveals many shit, with any mistake you make merely cementing perfectly friendly-looking women teaching and learning preconceptions of your inability, adding extra pressure the basics of sound engineering, DJing and recording – to everything you do. the technical sides of the business where females are undeniably underrepresented. Is it any wonder that fewer women than men are willing to venture into that world? And because they don’t, What is clear from the happy participants is that this they remain a rarity, and the whole cycle perpetuates. obviously feels to them like a safe place to ask any kind of Welcome to just some of the reasons that events like question no matter how silly it seems, to play, to get things this one are so important. Clearly it’s the initial lack wrong a few times, and to try something completely alien, of confidence that ALL newcomers of either gender without worrying about the consequences: a fundamental experience which is holding only the women back. need in order for many of these women to even begin to try some of these things, as they each later explain. And if you’re wondering why I think this is how women in music often feel, it’s because this is what they talk about “We’re not saying we’re better than guys or we want to be during today’s panel discussion. seen to be better than guys, it’s not about that, it’s about offering the opportunity and encouragement to get more The discussion begins tentatively, but quickly becomes women to try stuff like this,” says Sarah Statham from painfully candid, with audience members sharing their Leeds-based organisation, Wombeatz, who are responsible concerns – both real and imagined – with a panel who for the event. have all seen, heard and experienced similar things
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Women in Music Also on the panel are Jo Kira – a DJ who concedes (to the general agreement of all) that other women in the business don’t always have the most helpful attitudes either (“women can be bitches”), and who dresses up when she plays, but strictly for herself. In fact, all women in the room acknowledge that how they look is often made much of, which can lead to some
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Casting a glance at the piles of feedback forms piled on the desk at the end of the day, I can’t see a single one that hasn’t marked the event as a 10/10 experience, with comments highlighting how relaxed, fun and valuable the day has been.
Words by Kate Wellham ~ Images Bart Pettman
And it’s not just the performers who get it: “I always feel that a male sound technician starts with 100% credibility, and then anything he does wrong is taken away from that, whereas I start with 50% and have to work so hard to bring that up to a level where I’m respected as much as he is,” says Hazel Plummer, one of the best sound technicians of either gender in the country right now. She also reveals that she once worked for someone at a venue who would not talk to women at all, and to get around this she hired as many females as she could, to make sure he had to get damn well used to dealing with them.
confusion when wanting to express themselves, but without buying into the idea that it’s the most important thing about them. “I like to make an effort, but I don’t see why women should have to get their kit off or be sexy in a situation where a man wouldn’t”, says Kelii, who is also keen to point out “I don’t have a problem with men in music at all, I’m in a band with some of them and they’re brilliant.”
Clearly not everybody will be naturally skilled, dedicated or interested enough to continue to a professional level simply because they’ve been offered the opportunity to learn, but without the opportunity to learn, the music industry could be missing out on those who are that skilled, dedicated and interested. Wombeatz need funding to continue their brilliant work in events, equipment hire, training and networking aimed at women in music technology, and the more interest there is in their work the more likely they are to be able to get it. So if you think you can help them, would like to participate, or would like to learn, have a look at their website www.wombeatz.com. Also, I cannot end this piece without mentioning Immi Cardy aka DJ Immi Yeh, director of Wombeatz and without whom this event would not have taken place.
before. Although there is very little in the way of downright disrespect that has been shown to anyone in the room by men in the industry, it is the innocent assumptions that hurt them the most. The assumptions that they won’t be as good as they are: “I get ‘you’re loads better than I thought you’d be’ a lot, which is nice but when you think about it it’s really sad,” says Kelii Compulsive – front woman of Obsessive Compulsive, label owner, punk clothing entrepreneur and ‘zine editor - of the feedback she gets during gigs and sound checks, probably from people who don’t have a tenth of the experience she does.
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Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Hawk Eyes, British Wildlife Festival and Melvin B...
Published on May 2, 2012
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Hawk Eyes, British Wildlife Festival and Melvin B...