Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire June 2012 Free
Live at Leeds
The Wind-Up Birds
20 22 28
Spirit of John
Adventures of Music trioVD
One for the Road
Editor Rob Wright - firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors Tom Martin, Rob Wright, Steve Walsh, Bart Pettman, Tim Hearson, Neil Dawson, Katie Finnegan, Benjamin Rutledge, Cactus, Greg Elliott, Danny Payne, Rochelle Massey, Nick Pritchard, Matt Brown, Pete Ellis, Kate Wellham, Ben Statham, Leigh Padley, Benjamin Maney, Tim Dawtry, Stacie Lloyd, Simon Lewis.
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 Web Editor Mike Price - firstname.lastname@example.org Web Design Sam Hainsworth - email@example.com Advertising Tony Wilby - firstname.lastname@example.org Founded and Published by Tony Wilby - email@example.com Jack Simpson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Photograph Spirit of John by Tom Martin The Search Vibrations is looking for Advertisers - 2000 magazines seen by music lovers across Leeds. Contact email@example.com Writers, Photographers, Artists and Sub editors - Come be a part of it, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Send demos in to: Steve Walsh Vibrations Magazine Eiger Studios New Craven Gate Industrial Estate Leeds LS11 5NF
Editorial Oh my sweet lord, what a couple of months.
But I cannot wallow in self pity as THINGS NEED TO BE DONE and THEY WON’T GET DONE BY THEMSELVES, so up I get, into the rain I head and... well, there was Live @ Leeds... and Pelican... and suddenly NME started calling Leeds ‘on fire right now’... In this weather? You must be fucking kidding. But thanks anyway. So May on the whole was a bit of a wash out... so much so that I renamed it dis-May... and there have been woeful mos throughout: the deaths of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb (the days that disco died); Dave Martin got chicken pox and I Like Trains touring schedule was thrown into complete disarray (whatever you do, don’t scratch it Dave...) and editing this mag has been akin to carrying out a circumcision on board a storm tossed dinghy; a delicate procedure that would probably be better doneat another time requiring nerves of steel and for everything to stay in THE SAME FUCKING PLACE for at least five seconds.
impromptu performance of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. The beast is back. And of course here we have a new issue of Vibrations, chock full of stuff that is good for you like The Wind-Up Birds, Lone Wolf, trioVD and Spirit of John. And yes, I have managed to fit in some EP and single reviews this time. Anyway, all’s well that ends well and here I sit, typing this and a few other words and listening to the old school computer game versions of Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ and ‘Paranoid Android’ and thinking yeah... things are pretty good... and I hope you think so too. Summer is here... let’s hope it stays and plays nice. 8bit Bert
Words by Robert Wright
The weather has resembled nothing short of a walk-in wet room on a world wide scale, with winter returning for a totally unnecessary and largely unwanted encore, and I am one of those fragile souls who are adversely affected by adverse weather, so for the most part I have been wanting to hide under a duvet snivelling slightly and refusing to talk to anyone.
But there have been high points – the Leeds Music Hub launched its physical presence at the Coach House on Wood Lane successfully as a place for like minded artists and musicians to meet, greet and plan world domination; all of us at Vibrations Towers wish her god speed and good luck. Black Moth have emerged as something of a phenomenon (you read it here first, folks) with my sister texting me from Brighton and saying ‘you have got to hear this band Black Moth’ only for her to realise that, being from Leeds and all that, I was totally ahead of the curve. For once. And I got up on a stage at an undisclosed location in a wood somewhere in Cornwall to do an
Yes, it’s show and tell time again: All your favourite Leeds bands share bills with some of the best upcoming national and international talent around in a city-wide festival of excellence. Rob Wright and Greg Elliott attempt to remain conscious enough to give us a few words about their L@L 2K12 IDST OMFGZZZ… and that. There’s a weird thing that happens to the city when you’re doing Live at Leeds. There’s the real world and the musical underworld, and you phase between both. It can be quite disorientating, and a bit like China Mieville’s The City and The City. So in a textbook demonstration of shoe-horning links, my first foray into the festival city is Leeds-based rockers China Rats at the newly re-opened The Well. The sound is good and they make a good sound – brash, rocky, punky noise with more than a hint of Libertines about them. These youngsters pull it off though, and give a spirited, likeable performance. Yes I think they’ll do nicely. It’s a fair hike to get to The Cockpit, but worth the journey to see the uber-heavy Black Moth perform to a capacity crowd. Opening with the pacey ‘Articulate Dead’ and ‘Chickenshit’ is a good call and gets the crowd sufficiently warmed up for the sludgier ‘Banished and Blameless’, which sounds surprisingly good in a venue notorious for its capricious dynamics. The band, looking half indie, half metal, continue to lay on the early afternoon onslaught, though Harriet looks a touch shell-shocked by it all. No matter; if they continue to garner this much attention she will soon learn to treat us all with loathing disdain; and we will love her for it. Following Black Moth, I make my way to the O2 (no chewing gum allowed!) to witness I Like Trains’ new direction. Eschewing the uniforms for simple black Ts and jeans and bringing keyboards to the fore (and live guitarist Ian Jerrold to the stage), this performance is principally about showcasing new album The Shallows, a poppier affair by far – the new stuff has definite hints of Vampire Weekend and Metronomy. Dave’s voice remains unremittingly sepulchral though. They only dip into their
back catalogue twice, but it is the new stuff’s time to shine and I must say it really is a refreshing departure. ‘Bring glow sticks next time’ says Dave. Not an entirely ridiculous prospect and the bigger stage suits them. Over the road to Nation of Shopkeepers for London’s Pale Seas. Not exactly designed for large volume audiences, I can just make out the band from the other end of the bar... I think the vocalist is male, but all bets are off. The sound is clear enough and pleasingly mellow, a gently lilting mix of Villagers’ tradition, Yeasayers’s echoing yodel and Warpaint’s laissez faire, but with the atmosphere that only a packed venue can give a band’s performance. I allow myself to drift and enjoy the moment. Back to the now and the noise that is Kleine Schweine. I must say I’m surprised at Neil Hanson’s experimentation with post-rock... nah, just kidding. It’s good old fashioned oyoy punk served to a heaving Milo’s, fast and in your face – this is the human face of socialism. Injuries are sustained but a good time is had by all. I’ve been looking forward to Hawk Eyes performance all day and am dismayed to find them delayed. Eventually they open with ‘Mindhammers’, which kicks off a pit immediately. Both the EP and album Ideas make up the rest of the set (with a brief musical tribute to MCA, RIP), making a brutally vital set for a brutally vital audience. ‘Witch-hunt’ and ‘Bears By the Head’ really benefit from the live treatment, but it is ‘I Hate This’ that steals the show and nearly kills me. If that wasn’t enough to finish me off, Bristol’s Turbowolf hit the stage in a flurry of hair and riffs, with Chris Georgiadis looking like Cheech gone evil and screaming like Seb Bach on brown acid whilst abusing a theremin. As musically erratic as a counter tenor being boiled alive, you just can’t work out where this band is going, so you just go with it. The pit resembles a zipless fuckfest at this point and all I can think of is Zodiac Mindwarp. Wish he was here to see this – not that he’s dead, just... not here. I know, I’ve seen Blacklisters too many times but it’s late and my feet hurt and Billy is on good form. As are the audience. It’s crowd surfing tastic, with even a few
6 Dave Vachon of Black Moth
Neil Hanson of Kleine Schweine
Rob Wright Leeds three-piece Bearfoot Beware throw themselves into the task of entertaining a mid-afternoon crowd at The Well with impressive gusto. Enthusiasm and self-deprecating humour can get you a long way with a roomful of people on the lash, but the bounding energy of the trio’s performance belies songs characterised by exuberantly creative flourishes and some very accomplished musicianship. Essentially it’s melodic post-hardcore in the mould of DC luminaries Q and Not U - from a cynical point of view that makes it a wee bit dated, but trying to inject artistry and brains into guitar music is surely as noble an endeavour now as it was a decade ago. Niki and the Dove’s set-up seems a bit too much for the poor sound people at the O2 Academy – persistent technical problems and the day’s strict scheduling shears ten minutes off their allotted half hour. With her strident emoting and otherworldly persona Malin Dahlström may take a lot of her stylistic and aesthetic cues from Kate Bush, but to focus too much on that comparison would ignore the strikingly original qualities of the Stockholm duo’s material. Joined by a live drummer they conjure unlikely anthems out of Gustaf Karlöf’s tumultuous electronics and Dahlström’s eerie, processed vocals it’s a testament to the power of their performance that the audience is so frustrated by what feels like a cruelly truncated set. Downstairs at Milo the punters are packed in tight around Serious Sam Barrett. A hometown crowd on a day like this will always be well-disposed towards an established local artist – especially one who celebrates Leeds and the West Riding so much in his lyrics – and admittedly it’s hard to know quite how much of my own enjoyment stems from the palpable goodwill towards him in the room. Far from being gimmicky, however, Barrett’s songs succeed precisely because of their sincerity – his love of home may shine through but more importantly so does his passion for traditional American music. This straightforward, heartfelt enthusiasm allows him to appropriate ostensibly ‘foreign’ cultural forms in a wonderfully unselfconscious way – singing the blues in a
Live at Leeds
Yorkshire accent as if it’s the most natural thing in the world - and it’s also made him into one hell of a guitar player. Stylus plays host to Brooklyn quintet Friends, who make a virtue of their somewhat one-dimensional approach simply by being fantastically good at it. Super-charismatic singer Samantha Urbani charms the room as her band-mates lay down one ludicrously insistent groove after another – it’s a performance that’s unexpectedly life-affirming; celebratory and inclusive whilst still being monumentally hip. Next onto the same stage are Los Campesinos!, who appear to have attracted quite a following with their lively, high-octane indie rock. Front man Gareth David has a great presence and it’s undeniable that the Cardiff seven-piece have written a hook or two, but on the basis of tonight’s set they still lack the ideas to establish a truly singular, lasting identity – indeed, quite how seven members can conspire to produce such a relatively nondescript sound is beyond me. The day’s goings on at the Brudenell are brought to a close by Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, who shuffles on somewhat despondently following the announcement that his hometown will be subjected to Boris Johnson’s leadership for another four years. Sounding such a note of civic angst at the start of his set is an apposite move for an artist whose songs deal so eloquently with the travails of city life, but what really impresses about Ghostpoet is the assurance with which he avoids the clichés that would permit the easily categorisation of his music. Tonight’s set draws heavily on last year’s Mercury-nominated Peanut Butter Blues and Melacholy Jam LP, reflecting that record’s thrillingly unpredictable shifts in style and tone, from the harrowing claustrophobia of ‘Garden Path’ to the graceful, down-tempo reflection of ‘Survive It’ and the euphoric release of ‘Liiines’. Ghostpoet’s music is dark, introspective and remarkably poetic, his over-enunciated sing-speaking reminiscent of Tricky and its instrumental backing evocative of the finest moments in mid-Nineties trip hop – albeit with a considerably clubbier feel. Indeed, he closes out the set and the festival with a pounding rendition of previous, Kano-featuring single ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’, prompting a stage invasion and frenzied partying on the basis of a song which is actually achingly sad. It’s a moment of contrarian genius. Greg Elliott
Images by Danny Payne
stage divers thrown in, as it were. Billy gets carried the length of the room, another writer nearly gets garrotted and I end up playing guitar (I can’t play guitar). All in all, ENTERTAINMENT. And there’s nothing weird about that.
David Martin of I Like Trains
RETURN OF THE PACK
The last time we featured Paul in this magazine, his friends collectively used the cover photo to pretend to be Paul Marshall at his birthday. He freaked. Hopefully this feature will not result in his freaking out this time. Greg Elliott keeps it real for him. Paul Marshall - aka Lone Wolf - has been noticeably quiet since wrapping up the promotion for his critically acclaimed 2010 LP The Devil and I. Released through Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie’s renowned Bella Union imprint, the album garnered Paul considerable attention and inaugurated a dizzying period in which he played the Royal Festival Hall as a personal guest of Richard Thompson, performed for Clive Anderson on Radio 4’s Loose Ends and toured the US with Wild Beasts. These are considerable achievements by anyone’s standards - but the man himself is surprisingly circumspect about them. ‘‘There were good things and bad things about [that time]’’ he tells me, nursing a pint in a Headingley drinking den. “The reviews were great, but I still felt like I was fighting for someone to listen, like I had to shout to be heard.” Paul’s modesty is striking; when I suggest that the success of the first manifestation of Lone Wolf - as a solo artist surrounded by an ensemble of noteworthy local musicians - established a template since followed by ex-This Et Al front man Wu (Stalking Horse) and former ¡Forward, Russia! guitarist Whiskas (Honour Before Glory), he’s quick to play down any possibility of a link. A phobia of complacency, of resting on his laurels, still drives him.
This determination not to get stuck in a creative rut underpinned his decision to approach his second album under the Lone Wolf moniker in a radically different way. In stark contrast to the recording process for The Devil and I, which had been so heavily demoed that very few if any alterations were required in the studio, he set about making its follow-up with only a couple of finished songs under his belt. One of these - a beautiful, soaring number aptly named ‘The Swan of Meander’ – is already available to listen to on his website; however with the exception of this and another tune called ‘Needles and Threads’, Paul had little more than a collection of musical fragments to work from. ‘‘I was really inspired by what Wu was doing with Stalking Horse, taking very small ideas and letting them bloom,’’ he explains. ‘‘So I started using my iPhone to record
things – I’d just sing into it or play something on the guitar for 20 seconds – and said to myself ‘I’m going to make an album out of this stuff.’’’ Paul soon decamped to a converted barn on the north east coast, with Duels alumni Jon Foulger and James Kenosha on production and mixing duties respectively. Apart from the odd idea former Grammatics front man Owen Brinley came up with the distinctive drum beat on ‘The Swan of Meander’ for instance – he wrote and played almost everything himself, calling only on Foulger and Laura Groves (aka Blue Roses) to provide backing vocals. Taking such a different tack with the creative process was evidently a thrill for Paul. ‘‘There’s no real drums on the record,’’ he tells me with relish, ‘‘we didn’t want it to sound electronic either, so it’s all performed by me hitting things, scraping sandpaper, banging petrol cans, jumping up and down, slamming doors, breathing heavily. I recorded pickle jars in my kitchen and they went into the rhythm track for ‘Ghosts of Holloway’. I was bored at work one day and I realised that when I beat on my desk it sounded really cool, so that ended up in ‘Butterfly.’’’ The change in approach extended beyond simply experimenting with different sounds. ‘‘The most important thing for me with this record was to be honest and true about the music I wanted to make,’’ says Paul, ‘‘with The Devil and I I felt like was I forcing myself to be a bit of a brand, trying to shape myself into something I wasn’t. With this record I just sat down and let my brain spill out. Rather than thinking ‘Oh, this needs to have a chorus’ or ‘Oh, this would sound better on the radio if I did this’, if it sounded good to me at the time it went in. I accepted what I thought sounded good rather than changing things because I was worried they wouldn’t be liked.’’ The album is called The Lovers, a reference to its lyrical motif of ‘‘the kinds of fight that happen between the different personalities in a brain, like a lovers’ argument or lovers’ tiff.’’ It’s mixed, it’s mastered and it’s ready to go – but for one small detail. By the time you read this Paul will be deep into a 60-day campaign on PledgeMusic to secure funding for the album’s release, for a promotional tour and potentially for a new independent record label to be set up by him. Is this decision to ‘go DIY’ a sign of hard times? ‘‘Not at all,’’ he insists, ‘‘it’s a misconception to think Pledge has anything to do with struggling – it’s more about approaching how to release a record in a different way.’’ ‘‘It’s no secret that the music industry is kind of walking on ice at the moment,’’ he continues, ‘‘it could go one way, it could go the other way – no one really knows. But there’ll always be artists and there’ll always be fans. Pledge lets you talk directly to the fans and say ‘look, if you pre-order this you can help ensure that it comes out’. More and
Words by Greg Elliott ~ Images by Bart Pettman
more artists are realising that you can do it all yourself if you can get the money together - why bother wasting your time trying to get a deal from someone who’s going to take so much for doing this and so much for doing that when you can raise the money from fans who are quite happy to pay? To be a self-sustaining musician, that’s the dream. I feel safer knowing that my funding is all in the hands of the fans who care about my record coming out.’’ I’m meeting Paul a couple of days into the campaign and he’s feeling cautiously optimistic, having already hit 32% of his target. ‘‘I was hoping for a little buzz at the beginning, just to show me that people were still interested,’’ he says, evidently relieved. The design of the campaign reflects Paul’s remarkable willingness to engage with his fans; as well as a straightforward pre-order of the album punters can also add ‘extras’ including one-to-one music lessons, a solo performance in their front room or a trip with Paul to his favourite local stargazing hangout for a spot of amateur astronomy. He’s already had people pledging for all three and seems to have no misgivings about inviting such face-to-face contact. ‘‘I want to shake the hand of all the people who’ve pledged,’’ he insists, ‘‘we’re in an age now when you can get pretty much any music for free all the time and I want to be able to show people just how much I appreciate what they’ve done.’’
Paul’s Pledge target is partly about helping him get back out on the road, and seeing as The Lovers is not a record he’ll be able to tour solo that means getting a band together. What about the super-group that helped him promote The Devil and I? Paul shakes his head. ‘‘I want to get some new blood involved, get out of my comfort
zone,’’ he says, ‘‘the thing about living in Leeds is you’re surrounded by these amazing musicians. It’s very easy to say ‘Oh, who plays guitar?’ and just instantly think of all these names because they’re the obvious choices. But you have to bear in mind that these people have lives - I love them dearly and I can’t expect them to take time off their full-time jobs to come out on tour with me for next to nothing. We might have the best time ever, but they shouldn’t feel any pressure to prioritise my project - which is ultimately what this is.’’ Paul Marshall is a man in the grip of contradictory emotions. On the one hand, the experience of making The Lovers has rejuvenated him creatively. ‘‘This record is the most honest and the most accomplished piece of work I’ve done,’’ he says proudly, ‘‘I feel that people are finally going to hear what goes on in my head. That’s probably why I chose the artwork [a simple, candid shot by his friend and long-time collaborator, renowned music photographer and stand-up bloke Danny North]. It’s almost like ‘what you see is what you get’. I used to get so hung up on what people had to say about me and how I come across, but I don’t worry about that now.’’ He pauses, suddenly self-conscious. ‘‘Well, musically at least!’’ On the other hand, if the Pledge campaign isn’t successful he’ll be stuck. ‘‘It’s frustrating beyond belief,’’ he says, sighing, ‘‘I’m dying for people to hear the album, to get out on tour and start being a musician again.’’ If you want to help make this happen go to http://www. pledgemusic.com/projects/lonewolf now.
Vauxhall Nova. C Reg, not Y Reg. After nine years and last year’s collection of singles tracks (Acting Thick for Money), The Wind-Up Birds have finally released their first proper album. Cactus asked them some questions. Here’s what they said – the names have been omitted to protect the guilty. On beginnings
in your mouth it tastes EXACTLY how a humbug should taste. That humbug is Paul.” “The band’s ethos is to look at what people enjoy about other bands and what makes them popular and then fail to do any of it in our music or presentation of ourselves.” On a sense of place
“Nothing is interesting about the formation of a band. Although this didn’t happen I imagine Mat, Ben and me sat behind a big desk auditioning hundreds of boring rock drummers and then Oli walking through the door and none of us are looking. Mat’s messing with his phone, Ben is dozing and I am reading Tony Hancock’s biography. Oli quietly sits down and starts to drum but then gets distracted looking at shapes in the warped woodwork behind him. He goes off-beat and can’t pull it back round so just gives up and starts laughing. We know the band is complete.”
“I hate the fact that being Northern or from Leeds gets mentioned in most things about the band. I might be being a bit disingenuous as that’s probably my fault more than anyone. One of the things we touch on lyrically is the trap of patriotism and I always see being proudly Northern or from Yorkshire or Leeds etc. as the same issue. It’s just really limiting to set perimeters on yourself like that. I don’t see us as a Leeds band (for one thing no one lives in Leeds) or a Yorkshire band. I suppose it is always going to be a thing people pick up on though cos of the ‘singing’. I think bands kind of play along with the Northern thing too. That’s one of the reasons we called one of our records Acting Thick for Money.”
On the band
On the album
“Ben (bass): if you had an imaginary ideal granddad and he had a tool shed, Ben would be the tool shed - a bit intimidating where everything had to be put back in the right place but full of loads of cool and interesting stuff with loads of half built bits and knick-knacks everywhere and your granddad in there talking you through what he was doing and making it sound really cool.”
“It has grand highs and deep lows as every interestingly good work should.”
“Mat (guitar) is like going to a country pub on a Sunday after a rubbish week at work. A nice relaxed drive through some picturesque scenery, turn into the car park, into the pub, a comfy old seat by the roaring fire and a read of the Observer whilst supping a rare and lovely ale.” “Oli (drums): if you were a kid in a really poor family and had never been on holiday but then one day it’s your birthday and as a treat you get taken to the seaside - Oli would be your day out. It would be really sunny, and you’d go on the beach and on the rides, and you’d be laughing all day.”
“Paul (aka Kroyd, vocals): Your whole street arranges a street party. One old man sits on the periphery, glancing over disapprovingly. He’s dressed in a huge coat, despite the blazing sun, and he’s making the most incredible origami animals. Not many people seem interested, but when they do wander over they’re captivated. Occasionally he pulls a humbug out of his pocket and hands it to an onlooker. The humbug has gone sticky in the heat, and it’s really awkward to get it out of the wrapper, it gets all over your fingers. But when you put it
“Ross at ghosttown has done an incredible job with the recording/mixing, even more than usual. Been a long process, but proud of it.” “It’s funny really because we have put out a lot of stuff before this but this is the first time we have tried to create a cohesive set of songs and I hope we have succeeded. I do think it stands up as a pretty varied album with some emotional depth to it and it highlights our strengths as a four-piece band. There is some subtlety on there that people might not expect but also the fury and abandon that comes across live.” On the sound “Some good, clever pop music fighting valiantly against a taut, spiky, rhythmic racket, often resulting in an angry heroic failure but occasionally in beautiful victory.” “Like a Vauxhall Nova over revving in 4th gear, bezzing it from the highest part of the M62, overtaking pedestrian motorists humming along to CDs bought from the supermarket.” On success “After 9 years, higher profile gigs and a continued genuine fan base that grows a little faster than 1 every 6 months.”
Wind Up Birds Words by Cactus ~ Images by Bart Pettman 13 From left to right; Ben Dawson, Mat Forrest, Oli Jefferson, Paul Ackroyd.
“…to make work that I am proud of and that keeps progressing and I think we are doing that. Success in the accepted way of being well known etc - is just never going to happen to us. We are the wrong sort of band for that, and even if we weren’t I’d sabotage it anyway.”
“Somewhere where we have more time to play and write while still being able to afford to eat.”
place or a massive Daily Mail created estate from Hell. I wanted to try and present another version somewhere off to the side of all that. So, in The Land people are decent but lost, kind of stumbling around, trying to reinvent themselves every five minutes, hiding their pasts and inventing a more interesting reality TV version of themselves to try and find themselves again. Problems are hidden and avoided whilst they look back at the past for some memory of happier times. Hmmm. Just rambling here. Forget all that!”
On the words
On big egos
“Sometimes a title will come or one line and I’ll expand on it. It’s rare that I’ll want to write about a specific thing. I like to just see what comes out. I don’t really edit or rewrite so if things come out awkward I like to leave it and make it part of the feel of the song. There will be a better line out there but this way feels more real and random. I think a lot of lyricists will really hone lines but sometimes the results feels a bit too pleased with themselves for me, and it takes me out of the emotion of the song. Hope that doesn’t all sound really pretentious!”
“People kind of misuse the word ‘ego’ don’t they? If you go back to Freud and the idea of the ego being the kind of self-control device for the id then probably Oli [is the ego]. He always seems really in control of his id! If you mean in the sort of “rock star ego” sense then it’s hard ‘cos we don’t really have that in the band and I don’t think we would allow it to develop in anyone. It would be too embarrassing. We always laugh at rock star ego people when we play live with them.”
“Confident that we will manage to avoid it.”
“I like the idea of everyday life rumbling on whilst tragic events take place nearby. Have tried to touch on that idea in a few songs like ‘Tyre Fire’.”
“The combined egos of The Wind-Up Birds could be fitted in a matchbox without taking the matches out first.” “We don’t allow that sort of thing.”
“I give them to Paul, who passes them off as his own work. I can’t be seen to write both incredible basslines AND the lyrics, that’s just showing off.”
“I don’t, I just say them then wish I’d wrote them down first.”
“Help out where you can.”
“I throw random clichés together with clumsy metaphors. This is why Kroyd writes the lyrics.”
“Try not to be a shit to people.”
“Punctual is good.” “Politeness is good.”
On writing songs
“You’ll probably get a proper answer off the others for this one. From my point of view I never really know what’s gonna happen when I open my mouth. Singing is not my natural state and it’s hard for me to get over my nerves and do it but I enjoy the feeling of a song in creation and like to play my part in that.”
“Be nice to people and it comes back to you. Like a boomerang.”
“I don’t. I just drum.”
“My instincts are always to be suspicious of anything I am told and to do the opposite of what people ask me to do. This isn’t always beneficial.”
“If I’m coming up with a part, I ask Kroyd to look at his lyrics and get inspiration from them. Kroyd then generally uses different lyrics so it’s entirely pointless.” On what it’s all about
“Marketing, and I fucking hate marketing….” “I’ll try explain what The Land album is about. I always feel that when people are writing about England now, it never feels like the place I live. It’s either this mythical lost Albion
“Don’t answer awkward questions.” “Honesty is the key.”
The Land is out now and available on Sturdy Records and Bandcamp. Though not from the back of a Vauxhall Nova. Although...
CHUCKABILLY BROTHERS This is, as they say, a long time coming, but I have it on good authority that the album is ready and it is mighty good. But in the meantime, they’re giving Pickfords a run for their money. Kate Wellham caught up with them to say ‘left hand down a bit.’ Josh and Adam of Spirit of John are ruthlessly ambitious. There isn’t a more career-minded, professional outfit on the Leeds scene right now than these guys. They’re going to make it in the industry, no matter what. Mark our words: the world of furniture haulage won’t know what’s hit it. “We’re going to start a two-man removal company called ‘To Me, To You’,” says Josh, who also doubles as the Spirit of John singer. “This is a true story,” urges Adam (potential removal man and actual double-bass player) sensing some doubt. “It was one of those dole dreams. I do labouring as a parttime job and he can drive. We were going to get overalls, yours was going to be ‘2 Me’ and mine was going to be ‘2 You’…” There then follows a debate between the two about the finer points of the logo, where it would sit on the overalls, and exactly how much like the Ghostbusters car their van should look. The van they don’t yet have but dream of owning some day. It’s evidently all been discussed at some length before, and they’re as excited with this idea as they are with their first album coming out. The fact that these two have been friends since school, are in a band together, and are still formulating their plan b as a joint enterprise is part of what’s so likeable about them. Spirit Of John may be working their way into our collective musical conscious as well as into the pages of various (lesser, obviously) national publications, but to Adam and Josh it’s still just another outlet for their natural tendency to muck about together. They’ve gone different ways professionally – Josh is an engineer, with a pretty great line in inventions that the Innovations Catalogue would go back into print for, and Adam does labouring – but you can tell their relationship hasn’t changed at all. It’s genuinely touching, in a very manly, very Yorkshire way.
“Don’t put this, it’s really cheesy,” says Adam (sorry), “but this guy’s the pure home grown talent, like, untainted. He bashes out a tune and I’m like ‘Wow, where’d that come from?’ One of the songs that we still play now is about ten years old. It’s still good, still catchy... well done.”
“I can write songs,” concedes Josh, songwriter, “but I need this idiot to do all the arranging, all the smart bit.” Adam modestly explains: “I’m half blind as well, my eyesight’s terrible so my hearing’s better, I like to put it to use.” They both attended what we can only assume was some sort of rock school which also spat out Morgan from Buen Chico and Tom Martin, music photographer to the stars. “We used to bring our guitars to the form room and one week we’d be Jimi Hendrix and the next week it’d be Black Sabbath, and then we had a hillbilly phase,” explains Adam, of their school days together. “It was just mucking around and then one day it just got serious. Well, it’s not even serious, it’s still mucking around.” Josh continues: “That’s where the Spirit of John stuff came from, because we had this teacher that we used to mock and I wrote this song about him and it was like a hillbilly thing, so I did all this finger picking. I was already into country a bit; my grandma used to look after me and she had a massive country collection. I knew I liked the sound of it, I wasn’t really into it as a genre but I liked that rustic, rural, scratchy side of it.” Adam describes the aforementioned teacher as “a sexist, racist bigot, a proper bad old school Yorkshireman. He used to lock the odd kid in his cupboard.” As if that weren’t traumatic enough, they were also both exposed to Tom Martin – Vibrations and NME photographer - responsible for a lot, reveals Josh: “Tom always denies this but he used to bully me, but then we ended up being mates. The first person I ever got drunk with was Tom, he lived out in the Halifax hills. We got absolutely wasted on his dad’s whisky. I woke up with this mysterious illness and I didn’t know what it was.” They’ve got a lot to say about the Vibrations photographer, most of which is unprintable, but to sum up: “Tom Martin will always be a berk and a gobshite, I don’t care who he works for.” An equally unsympathetic period gigging on the Halifax circuit is something Adam can’t praise highly enough: “It was so good for us cutting our teeth doing gigs in Halifax because you can’t bullshit anyone there. If someone doesn’t like you they’ll say it and if they do like you then you know they mean it. They don’t give a fuck what’s cool. “We’ve been in the NME a couple of times but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s good to show your mum and your mates.”
Words by Kate Wellham ~ Image by Tom Martin
Spirit of John
“We set a precedent at the start,” says Josh. “If some righteous old bloke came up to us at the end and went ‘I thought you were alright, the wife liked you’, we’d rather that happened than it was some manager A&R guy who might just be lying.” When learning the double-bass, Adam admits that he did “some awful gigs – out of tune, out of time, sounded rubbish, but you’ve got to do it, go through the embarrassment, that’s what teaches you to be good.” Goodness achieved, they suddenly had a new problem to deal with: “There’s the forbidden ‘R’ word we can get put under, because of the double bass.” Josh was devastated to hear, third-hand, Spirit of John described as “‘that band who think they’re rockabilly but they dress like JLS’, so I started rolling my sleeves down and brushing my hair forward.”
Adam adds: “This American guy came up to me once after a gig and went ‘what’s your name?’ and I said ‘Adam’, and he went ‘well I’ll tell you what. I think the band should be called Spirit of John AND Adam’. At first I went ‘no it’s...’ and then I went ‘yeah, yeah it should yeah’. I like the fact that people think he’s a right tool and I’m a doormat.” Josh remembers needing a name urgently for their first gig, a familiar story “We just sat down and went ‘what shall we call the band then?’ ‘Something to do with John, obviously’, and that was it. I’m not saying I Google our name all the time, but I usually put ‘Spirit of John’ and then ‘L’ for Leeds and if Leeds comes up I’m like ‘YES’.” Not that Josh gets to celebrate for long, before Adam points out: “Usually something will come up first like
Rockabilly nights haven’t always been kind to them, but strangely, hardcore nights often have. And acoustic nights, of course. Josh clears up a few things you might often have wondered as a member of the audience there: “If it’s dead quiet and someone walks out you feel like a lost child. You’re just watching people. You end up going ‘what’s he doing? Is he going to the bar? Why can he not just wait ‘til the song’s finished?’. So when you’re watching other bands you won’t want to move until a song’s finished because you know how bad it is.” We will never move midsong ever again, thank you. Now they’re based in Leeds, it’s no surprise which venue they’ve singled out as their favourite. As usual, the Brudenell gets high praise, but this time it’s for more than just the obligatory ‘amazing sound’ and ‘cheap beer’ that are mentioned now as always. Josh is particularly fond of Pat, the queen of the Brudenell: “I wouldn’t like to be told to do one by her,” says Josh, with genuine fear in his eyes. “You did once though,” says Adam. It turns out that Josh left their instruments there overnight and got a deserved earful the next day whilst ‘hanging out of my arse after a big night’. He never did it again.
Not that Adam has any less respect for the formidable Pat: “I once rang up for Nath and she answered and went ‘Who is it?’ and I said ‘It’s Adam, from Spirit of John’. She went: ‘NATHAN! ITS ADAM OUT OF SPIRIT OF JACK OR BILL OR WHATEVER - who are you?!’. And that’s why I love the Brudenell. It’s got its own mum and its own dog. That’s what a venue should be like.” Speaking of Jack or Bill or whatever, Josh says: “People do come up to me after gigs and say ‘it were good that, John’, and I’m like ‘erm, my name’s Joshua’.“
‘Conservative clubs around the country, keeping the spirit of John Major alive’.”Last but not least, now that it’s been firmly established that neither of these two are John, it seems less stupid to ask now exactly who John is. “It’s an in-joke from our school days,” says Josh. “People say ‘is it John Lennon? Is it John Lydon?’ and actually it’s a woodwork teacher - well actually he could teach anything. He always used to wear a pinstripe suit and he talked in riddles all the time. Once in an IT lesson, you know the little ball in the mouse, it had all worn away and I went ‘Sir, the little ball in the mouse doesn’t work?’ and he went ‘story of my life’.” “We were fascinated by this guy,” says Josh, somewhat unnecessarily. “So that’s him, that’s John.” Spirit of John’s debut album Rats will be out imminently – it’s what John would have wanted.
Steve Walsh Vs Broken Flag
Though he probably won’t thank me for saying it, Steve is a bit of a music pioneer, exploring the boundaries of all things melodic/nonmelodic, so when something is left field for Steve... I’ve been listening to music for a long time. Sometimes I wonder what it is that keeps me going, especially when you notice the latest hotly tipped band sounds almost exactly like some band you used to listen to in the 80’s. But then occasionally I come across something that really does sound new.
the Nightmare Before Christmas in 2006. Everything else on the line-up? Zip. I just couldn’t stand it. I had to know, so we bought tickets and went to find out. It almost felt like we were going on an expedition to meet a newly discovered community of reindeer herders in the snowy wastes of Northern Finland. Or something.
A few months ago, a friend pointed out that a newsletter from London’s ultra-weird Second Layer Records that we both subscribe to was advertising a three day festival, Never Say When, billed as a celebration of 30 years of Broken Flag records and its legacy, to take place at The Dome in Tufnel Park, North London. Maths never being my strong point, it took a while for it to sink in that 30 years meant that the label had been in existence since the early 1980’s AND I HAD NEVER HEARD OF IT! How could this have happened? How could I have missed a label that, according to Second Layer Records, was so essential that a three day festival needed to be organised in order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its inception?
As the festival approached, further research revealed that most of the line-up had actually got an early leg up from Munday and Broken Flag, and had been steadily toiling away ever since. Again, this meant that the majority of the acts and musicians playing had been at it for AT LEAST THIRTY YEARS AS WELL! Consumer Electronics, Esplendor Geometrico (playing their first ever UK show, no less!), JFK, M.T.T., Kleistwahr, Giancarlo Toniutti, Sigillum S, Putrefier, all sitting on 30 years of making noise as music and they were all new to me. I have a few noise CDs, and I’ve been to a few noise gigs, but I realise now that the likes of Merzbow and Keiji Haino are actually the high profile, accessible and (even) glamorous end of a noise culture that reaches deep and wide across/into the nether regions of musical culture and yet remains almost totally invisible. But I can tell you, after three days of having my ears, sinuses and root canals (what’s left of them anyway) royally reamed and pummelled by various shades of noise, power electronics and hard audio filth, I feel like I’ve had my musical horizons, not just widened but more turned upside down, shagged and put through a blender. And it feels good, I can tell you. One interesting side effect is that trioVD now sound like a pop band…
Part of the explanation is that Broken Flag specialised in providing an outlet for the nascent UK noise scene of the early to late 80’s that grew out of post-punk and earlier 70’s progenitors like Throbbing Gristle. Due to the dearth of outlets for this kind of stuff, word soon spread and the label ended up releasing stuff sent to them from all over Europe, Japan and the US. Now, the chances of noise attracting a large audience in the 2010’s are probably not much better than they were in the 80’s, but it still bothered me that I had no awareness of the label at all. Doing a bit more research I realised that I was at least dimly aware of some of the acts scheduled to play the festival: Ramleh rang a small bell (which is ironic because the band’s mainstay since its inception, Gary Mundy, set up and ran Broken Flag); I was pretty sure I’d seen Skullfower (somewhere? once?); and I’m sure I caught the last five minutes of a New Blockaders set at
This isn’t review as such but I feel obliged to point out the finer experiences of the festival as well as the less edifying ones. Finnish duo Grunt may have sported the somewhat clichéd rubber S&M balaclava’s but their abstract and slippery low end thunder was a thrilling if queasy ride; Sigillum S’s near orchestral, multi-faceted piece managed to sustain a disturbing feeling of malevolent dread for its entire 45 minutes; the guitar, two basses, drum machine and buckets of feedback set up of JFK pounded the hammer of primal rock like the Stooges to the power of ten; and Esplendor Geometrico actually manage the improbable feat of getting the entire festival dancing like loons to their weird amalgamation of 808 State-like off kilter dance rhythms and an Einsturzende Neubauten-like approach to clatter and noise. And while I ‘got’ Giancarlo Toniutti’s ‘standing under the shriek of an eternally taking off 747 with added mad machine noise
It’s not often, though, that a chance remark or encounter leads to the uncovering of a musical sub culture that’s so mind bogglingly vast, varied and populated with musicians that actually do sound like they really do mean it (motherfucker), and more importantly, a sub culture that I didn’t even know existed. So what happened?
And one final thought: don’t let anyone ever tell you that all noise music sounds the same. Most of it may be generated by the same kinds of effects boxes and machines, but watching a couple of dozen noise bands back to back, it’s remarkable how the sound differs between them. Although it would appear to be relatively easy to pick up some guitars and sound like a band from 30 years ago, making music with just a bunch of noise generating boxes as your instrument seems to require a bit more originality of thought to make it work.
Adventures in Music Words by Steve Walsh
Biggest disappointments were Consumer Electronics and The New Blockaders. Consumer Electronics was actually Phil Best’s original project before he joined the notorious Whitehouse as a teenager and consolidated his alleged reputation as a belligerent provocateur. Actually, these days Best looks like an out of condition bus driver and striding about the stage yanking his own nipples, massaging his cock through leather keks and screaming lyrics that seemed to be made up mostly of ‘FACK’ or ‘CANT’, with the odd ‘FACKING CANT’ thrown in for variety didn’t look or sound like much of a threat to anyone, really. Similarly, The New Blockaders, much lauded for their extreme noise and confrontational gigs, turned in a set that was part slapstick, part Benny Hill, although allegedly the band’s ethos has been diluted over the years as the original members have taken a back seat and ‘assistants’ have donned the anonymising black balaclava’s to play gigs. It would appear The New Blockaders are less of a band, more of a brand these days.
One other surprising effect of the longevity of these bands is that the members are mostly middle-aged and, given the scene’s suspicion of too much image, many are surprisingly ordinary looking. For example, Mark Durgan (aka Putrefier) looks like a pot bellied geography teacher, and Tommy Keranen looks like he’s just left his marketing job and pulled off his tie before doing his fifteen minutes of crunching noise. My mate points out the irony that the flamboyant posturing of many supposedly ‘dangerous’ rock stars is invariably accompanied by rather dull and conservative music, while many of the ‘stars’ of Never Say When play genuinely extreme and disturbing music and yet could easily disappear into a crowd. Discuss.
embellishments’, I didn’t ‘get’ Skullflower’s dense flailed guitars and feedback storm - but I can’t really explain either reaction.
Between Rock and a Jazz Place Take three Chris’s, add some improve, throw in some rock and bring the whole thing to the boil on Valentine’s Day and what do you get? Tim Hearson knows n shows... Those already acquainted with the unique sound of trioVD will understand when I say that to describe them accurately requires a great deal of ‘um’-ing and ‘ah’-ing as well as a hefty thesaurus and some dense similes. Essentially, they take the best and most ferocious elements of both Jazz and Rock and combine them in a way that conforms to neither: You certainly wouldn’t want to call it Jazz Rock, anyway. I caught up with guitarist Chris Sharkey after his improvised solo effort at Fusebox, the Fox & Newt’s regular Jazz improv night. “[The project] started off with me and Christophe (de Bezenac - sax) getting together after doing loads of free improv on the Leeds improv scene and playing with different people and we just got to the point where we wanted to start adding compositions into it,” Chris begins, “the idea was to write composed stuff that sounded improvised and improvised stuff that sounded written.” Not content with just two Chris’s, a third was addedlater in the form of drummer Chris Bussey. “The thing is that when Chris Bussey got involved he was coming from more of a Rock background, which is my background too, so progressively the band kept getting louder and louder and more and more written.” As for the name: “We got the name trioVD because the first time we played was on Valentine’s Day. I recorded the session and ‘trioVD’ was just the filename I saved it as. We all had a good laugh about that but it’s just stuck. I’m not sure whether that was a good idea or not as it comes back to haunt us sometimes.”
The band’s balance of Rock/Metal and Jazz Improv is something that makes trioVD weirdly accessible. By combining elements from two typically ‘difficult’ schools, the crossover is such that fans of both traditions can find common ground. It does, however, mean that trioVD fit in both everywhere and nowhere. “I think our agent finds it hard just trying to get us into venues. We are sometimes too rocky for Jazz venues and too jazzy for Rock venues. What we’ve done in the past is if we’re playing somewhere that’s more of a Rock place, we’ll do a gig that’s a bit more of a Rock gig. If we’re doing a Jazz gig we’ll write a set with a bit more exploration in it so everyone who’s sat down and stroking their beards has something to stoke their fires.” The ability to tailor a set to an occasion is a valuable skill for any band but trioVD’s loose format means that, in theory, no two shows will ever be alike. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not – some people have said that’s a bit like hedging bets – but it’s not that we’re doing it out of any sense of insecurity. It’s just that we like
all these different things. We trust the audience so if we’re doing gigs and we’re trying stuff and the audience respond well then that’s what we go on.” It’s certainly a format that works, placing them at the forefront of the contemporary avant-garde jazz movement. 2009’s LP Fill It Up With Ghosts won both MOJO Jazz Album of the Year and Jazzwise Album of the Year and in 2008 they were asked by the Guardian to cover Radiohead’s gorgeous track ‘Nude’ in their own inimitable style, along with four other contemporary Jazz luminaries Empirical, Liane Carroll, Jonathan Gee and Food. 2011 saw the release of anarchic four track EP X, a record conceptually driven by the inescapable X Factor juggernaut to which the media dedicated vast column inches. “It’s every year actually, leading up to Christmas and you just can’t get away from it so we just figured rather than trying to fight it or compete we’d try and comment on it. We did a bit of research on the judges and then picked a load of material that we could use to kind of make a song about them. It was a cool constraint because we had to think, ‘right, well what can we do with Tulisa’ then it was all about trying to make it into something that we would do.” Sharkey admits that the motivation behind X was simply because trioVD hadn’t released anything in a while, which is as good a reason for a release as any. By the time you read this though, the band’s second studio LP Mazes will have been released. I ask Chris if he thinks there’s a big difference in sound from Fill It Up With Ghosts: “I think there is – I would ‘cause I mixed the fucking thing – but I don’t know if anyone else’ll notice. It sounds very different to the first album. It still sounds like us but with the last album we recorded it in like, a week, in a posh studio.” “The first album doesn’t sound like a Jazz album and we didn’t want it to sound like a lot of the other loud Jazz stuff that was out there so we went another way with that just because it’s our style. What we didn’t like is that we had to do it really fast and we didn’t have the time to get what we wanted out of it. If we were another band who justhad a 45 minute set to record then that would have been fine but that’s not how we work. We need time to try things out and rearrange things then say ‘let’s go back in and do that again’.” A video for ‘Brick by Brick’ recorded live at Sela Bar is available on Youtube and hints of a rockier edge to their sound with shout-a-long hooks and some filthy synth bass lines that wouldn’t be out of place in a Dubstep track. Mazes is shaping up to be another varied genre-mash of the ballsiest Jazz-influenced music you’re ever likely to hear. “We decided with this record that rather than doing it in a studio we’d get some equipment out and try it our self and
Trio VD Words by Tim Hearson ~ Images by Ben Statham 23
Top Left - Chris Sharkey Above - Christophe de Bezenac Left - Chris Bussey
do it DIY style. That meant learning on the job, learning how to engineer, mix and everything. It was a bit of a huge task but we just wanted to have complete control over absolutely everything from the writing stage to the mixing desk. Because we had longer to do it, we had longer to spend choosing how what we wanted it to sound like so you’ll hear a lot more variety in sound on this album. You’ll also hear a lot more post-production things too to compensate for you not being able to see it. It’s still essentially three guys in a room but there are other layers there as well. That took a long time to figure out how we wanted to do that in a way that didn’t detract or add too much to our effect.” trioVD are marked by their intricate balance between improvised and written material which surely must have a huge impact on the recording process. Chris explains “The normal rules of recording don’t really apply. For this album we recorded everything in my basement which meant we had a very limited number of inputs so there are some elements that we had to record separately and there were things that were improvised that were inserted in later in an overdub kind of way. Then there were things with us all playing together in a room that would remain as we played them, in the traditional kind of way. The process is quite experimental but then it sort of has to be: We had to find new ways of getting things into the computer or new ways of blending sounds. The other thing is that once everything’s recorded and in the
machine, we can do a lot of things post-production in the mixing stage – things that we just didn’t have the time to do in the room that we can then fake. It’s cool because the band doesn’t really sound like anything else. It’s not like we’re a Rock trio or like a Jazz band so there’s no precedent for what it sounds like or how it should be recorded. We can just do whatever works.” So what are the plans for the future then? “We’ve got dates coming up around the album launch – the album’s out on May 21st and we’re playing a bunch of dates around that time. We’re playing Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle and Hebden Bridge so quite a few northern dates. We’ve got a London show at some point, can’t remember when it is. So that’s for the album.” “Then over the summer we’re going to Portugal to do some stuff there and a few bits and bobs then in the autumn there’ll be a proper tour. In the meantime though, while we’re here we’re carrying on recording and we’ve already recorded a load of new stuff. I mean, now that we know how to do it. Also, because we’ve recorded with some new sounds, electronics and samplers etc., we’re working on translating that live so we’re basically back in the basement.“ Mazes is out now from iTunes and all the usual suspects.
Albums I Like Trains - The Shallows (I Like Records) Less than two years after their second album, the Leeds four piece return with their third effort, The Shallows, named after a book by Nicholas Carr. The novel, much like this album, explores humankind’s ambivalent relationship with technology in the age of the World Wide Web and how it could affect our relationships. Subtitled ‘What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains’, Carr laments the decline in humankind’s cognitive abilities for tasks such as contemplation and sustaining concentration on one thing for a long period of time. It was for this reason that I couldn’t help but guffaw considering this is a review about a band whose entire lyrical oeuvre could be characterised as one lengthy brooding reflection. A departure from the band’s obsession with historical figures and past events, The Shallows is an album that is very much rooted in the present and future. ‘Mnemosyne’, named after the Greek goddess of memory, is a critique of how the arrival of search engines could be destroying our ability to retain information. The retrospect in the I Like Trains’ nihilistic rhetoric has apparently disintegrated in favour of a pessimistic rumination of the present.
Sonically, The Shallows follows suit in this change in direction. The motorik beat and repetitious synth driven stylings of album opener ‘Beacons’ set the tone for the successive eight tracks, pertinently relying very much on digital electronics. The band also accomplishes a more hollowed out, stripped down aesthetic with their latest effort; making sparse use of the swelling crescendos that once dominated their sound. This is perhaps partly due to Richard Formby (production duties for Wild Beasts), who’s presence strongly reverberates throughout the whole album. Dave Martin’s imposing baritone remains, albeit sounding slightly more menacing. I Like Trains latest work, whilst its parental origins remain unmistakeable, offers a welcome and refreshing new sense of maturity and depth. Benjamin Rutledge
Available to buy from http://www.iliketrains.co.uk
The Wind-up Birds - The Land (Sturdy Records) I love the: - sparkle of drums that opens the album. - bass intro to ‘Being Dramatic’. - lyrics exploring the grim side of life, telling stories of hopelessness and self-loathing. - breathless almost-hope of ‘Escape From New Yorkshire’. - heys, woos, oohs and la, la, las of the backing vocals. - rhyming “another absconder” with “she admired his candour” and “despite the family ties/I can’t get excited about dairy supplies”. - fact that I’m not sure if ‘The Land’ is almost a love song. - end to ‘Popman’ – “A man/In a van/Bringing pop/To the people”. - acerbic humour that grins and bears it. - awesome production – the bass swaggers, the drums propel, the guitar crackles and you can hear the words. - accusation of ‘Good Shop Shuts’. - guitar part for ‘Tyre Fire’ that glitters before coming over all dirty.
Cactus Black Moth - The Killing Jar (New Heavy Sounds) What’s in a name? Once upon a time, these guys used to be a band called The Bacchae and were all garage rock. Then they changed their name to Black Moth, got incredibly heavy and piqued Jim Sclavunos’ interest; so much so that he wanted to produce this, their debut album. So, in answer to my query: quite a lot actually. From the get go it is abundantly clear that this is an album with attitude: ‘The Articulate Dead’ sparks to life with a Dead Kennedy beat, joined by a crunchy guitar, thumping bass and Harriet Bevan’s anglo-american drawl – there’s aspects of Courtney Love in there, a sprinkling of Donita Sparks and maybe just a dab of Kim Deal. It’s all pretty effervescent and subdom dirty and, yes, I can honestly say that you will be up for it. What follows is a dip into the very heavy, with ‘Blackbirds Fall’ oozing Sabbath-esque minor chords and goth adolescent lyrical imagery. It’s heavy, but quite a stall after the intro. Once you accept that this is a very sludgy album with occasional hits of punky effervescence (take ‘Chicken Shit’, a lovely digitus impudicus of a song), you can appreciate the crash of the riffs and the bass, whilst the vocals curl and brood around the resulting wreckage. ‘Plague
Reviews of Our Age’ salutes the Pumpkins, ‘Blind Faith’ flicks the vs at QOTSA (in an affectionate way) and the whole thing worships at the shrine of Iommi. The lyrics are not the most literate or complex and not every song hits the mark (‘Land of the Sky’ feels barely sketched together), but Harriet’s seductive lilt more than makes up for the lyrical simplicity/naivety and... well, Jim Swainston, Dave Vachon and Dom Mcready’s three-pronged attack fills a big space. In all, an impressive debut that could benefit from just a touch of light... but with a name like Black Moth, what did I expect? Rob Wright The Rosie Taylor Project - Twin Beds (Odd Box Records) This is the second album from the Leeds born six-piece and boasts production by Richard Formby, best known for his genius work on the last two Wild Beasts albums. Consequently, the record sounds great: the arrangements are warm and spacious with judicious use of brass and reverberating guitar and Jonny Davies’ rich lead vocals sit beautifully in the mix like a less hungover sounding version of The National’s Matt Berninger. The third track ‘Every Morning (and for the rest of our lives)’ is an early highlight, boasting great female backing vocals and a guest appearance by Tom Fleming from the aforementioned Wild Beasts. Current single ‘Sleep’ is also excellent, sounding a bit like Iron & Wine with minimal indie-funk guitar lines which continue on the next track ‘Lovers or Something Like It’. If the record has a flaw, it’s perhaps that the overall
- way ‘Nostalgic For…’ draws you in, the way the vocal’s distance makes you concentrate on every word, weaving a tale of squalor, poverty and alienation that starts to crush my heart. - evidence that post-punk is so vibrant and alive. - tale of cross country runs at school, and its metaphors for an unfulfilled life. - knowledge that after two years ‘Tyre Fire’ still sends shivers down my spine. - changes in tempo, the slow build-ups, the not being afraid. - songs that I haven’t found space to mention. - way that the dour unforgiving stories contained in songs of power and melody are still uplifting. - Wind-up Birds. I love The Land – it’s fucking brilliant.
tone of a lot of the tracks is quite similar and the lyrics do have that tendency to try a bit too hard to make the everyday sound profound and meaningful. Twin Beds is the kind of record that I would absolutely love if I had just broken up with someone and would criticise in a really pedantic way if I was feeling particularly cynical. As I am in neither situation, I just think it’s a very good record that fans of Stars or Red House Painters would do well to check out. Matt Brown Richard Knox & Frederic D. Oberland - The Rustle of the Stars (Gizeh records) So, what do you want to get out of a review? You want some idea of what the music’s like, whether it’s any good in some objective sense? So what if it is uncommon music, something not easy to pin down? Richard Knox & Frederic D. Oberland produce music that doesn’t appear to fit into an established genre.
Richter. Johann Johannsonn. Sigur Ros. Angel. Maybe even Gavin Bryars… You know – really popular stuff. This is a wonderful album, one to disappear into, to let it drift over you and let you out in some other place 45 minutes later. But you might want to pack a jumper. Cactus
Spirit of John - Rats (Ginhouse) If you are thinking that acoustic instruments are purely the province of sensitive singer – songwriter types you might want to give Spirit of John’s album a listen. Here is a duo who play with rare abandon. The music they play is basically country. But don’t think middle of the road Nashville fodder to line dance to. Instead think of the darker rawer sounds of the likes of William Oldham or the Felice Brothers. However it’s played at a speed that you wouldn’t get from the aforementioned artists.
Spirit of John consists of Joshua Sheard on vocals and guitar; and Adam Richards on double bass and backing vocals. With such a sparse set up there is always a risk of making a ‘samey’ sounding album. However Spirit Much in the way that Richard Skelton’s music of John uses every trick in the book to avoid is rooted on the moors of North West England, falling into that trap. Although a lot of the songs The Rustle of the Stars places you in a nonare played at a fair old pace there is plenty of specific cold, wet and windy non-space – a variation of tempo – often within a single song. seascape, if you will. It does this with a mix of There is also some sparingly applied extra piano, guitars, field recordings, harmonium, instrumentation such as violin, banjo, accordion dulcimer, crystal glass, drones, slide, chimes, bowed glockenspiel, crackle, analog electronics, and even a bit of ‘mariachi’ style brass. screwdriver, bowed cymbal, viola, cello… The playing is really good and clean which is Crackle? Screwdriver? But does this tell you surprising given the frenetic pace. Sheard’s what it sounds like? No, not really. singing (it’s more of a growl really) is strong but a little limited and that’s the only criticism I I could use some descriptive words to give you a feel for it. Words like brittle, fragile, windswept, would make. watery, distance, mournful, limpid, liquid, cold, Overall a great album that manages to capture spacious, sparse, ethereal, beautiful. Most of the excitement of their live set. which are not descriptions of sounds. Maybe “who does it sound like?” Well, Richard Skelton. Hildur Gudnadottir. Hector Zazou. Max Pete Ellis
SINGLES / EPS
actual fact, shaped most of today’s electronic music. Glitch Click have put together a collection of sounds that fit together in a lovely, angsty wave of perfect pop music. Benjamin Maney
Nigel Passey - EP (Self release) ‘Change’, the opening track from Nigel Plassey’s new EP, reminds the listener of stadium-era Kings of Leon; with build-ups, break-downs, half-times and a classic pop structure it is clear to see what Nigel is going for here. Second track ‘Don’t Run’ opens with a mellow Blink 182 inspired riff which inevitably erupts into a Ryan Adams meets All-American Rejects hybrid. Final track ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ is the strongest effort on the EP. As he sings about holding hands, broken hearts, tears and whispering you barely notice the tight musicianship in the background; the song gets better with each passing second. Just you wait until you hear the screaming guitar at the end.
Available free at http://soundcloud.com/glitch-kick/ sets/glitch-kick-demos
Born with Stripes - You Stole the Laces from my Shoes (Self release) This slice of floppy haired, love lorn indie whimsy starts with a great melodic buzzsaw guitar motif and clocks in at an impressively succinct two minutes. It chugs along nicely enough with a melody half borrowed from the Cure’s ‘In-between Days’ and musically everything sounds like it’s in just the right place. But where it falls down is the refrain - at exactly the point where you need a great hook line that everyone can sing along to, you get the lame lyrical polyfilla of ‘Where do we go now?/Where do we go now?’ In short – great guitars, nice tune, crap chorus.
Though this is not the most inspired or original recording to come from Leeds in recent years; I am sure it will have its fans as it is decent, accomplished and honest.
The Raged - No Man’s Land/Demon
Glitch Click - 2012 Demos (Self release)
Developments in the latter half of the last decade, spawning what is now recognised en masse as the genre we call ‘Dubstep’, have
It would be both easy and unfair to define Glitch Click by comparing them to bands that they sound a tad like, as every new-wave synth band of the last thirty years are, by their own definition, slightly alike. Comparing them to Gary Numan or an early Human League wouldn’t be just, as their sound has gone somewhat deeper than other modern outfits that merely imitate the above artists and others of that ilk.
Available free from http://bornwithstripes. bandcamp.com
It seems to be a rather fresh take on old ideas which have stood the test of time and really, in
frequently drawn comparisons to metal; the traditional band setup abandoned in favour of an ensemble of chipboards and turntables. The Raged make this connection explicit, producing something which could be described as Atari Teenage Riot for the wobble bass generation. Benjamin Rutledge
Available at http://soundcloud.com/theraged
The Scandal - Karolina (Self release) I love a good funky bass line. It actually makes me want to go out and shake my little ass off, no matter what time of day it is. ‘Karolina’ is one of those and is, quite frankly, amazing. So many bands now will not push the boundaries or even develop their own sound but The Scandal has. It’s fresh, mind blowing and most of all fun. From first listen I was hooked, especially with these infectious beats, sweet guitar riffs and smooth vocals. This is definitely a song I will be playing loud to irritate the neighbours with (well if I had any). Rochelle Massey
Available at http://soundcloud.com/the-scandalleeds
Mountain Range - A Heart Upon Today, it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry with a laptop and a Soundcloud account is trying to push the mixes of their faceless monikers upon a disinterested and exhausted
demographic. And anyone using their home computing equipment as a medium for delving into their inward consciousness is nonchalantly dismissed as a ‘bedroom boffin’. For this reason it would be impossible to faithfully account for the staggering introspective and paradoxically danceable beauty of Mountain Range’s first EP in using the familiar overwrought epithets of ‘hypnagogic’, ‘hazy’, or even more interminably ‘chillwave’. Promptly download from the link below, turn up to eleven, run a bath and invest in somestrobe lighting. Benjamin Rutledge
Available as a free download from http:// mountainrange.bandcamp.com/
tenBennys - Built For This- EP (Self release) Recently Hip-Hop in the UK often makes its home within other genres such as electro, house and dance. On his latest release, Leeds born producer and rapper tenBennys doesn’t try to meld hip-hop with other genres – it’s just straight hip-hop. Because of this no time is really spent marvelling at various electronic grooves, they only help the music tick along rather than being the focus. tenBennys tells us ‘on the mic I produce magic’ - arrogant, yes but he does back it up, showing a true grasp of rhythmic power and the way he raps is music in itself. You can tell tenBennys has spent a lot of time in LA. His style is closer to the US hip-hop scene than the UK scene, it sounds quite clean with none of the dirty sound we’ve come to expect of UK hip-hop. And he does annoyingly sing in an American accent - come on mate, you’re from Leeds! Nick Pritchard
Available at http://www.tenbennys.com/
Richard Knox & Frederic D Oberland/Jasper TX/ Matthew Collings @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds Richard Knox and Frederic D Oberland’s recently released collaboration The Rustle of the Stars may be an exquisite, densely layered and deep listening experience, but there’s no denying that superficially it’s based on not much more than a series of drones augmented by subtle effects and the odd simple melodic phrase. Fine if you’re sat at home with the cans on perhaps, but quite how this would come across live was another matter. This was the first in a short series of UK gigs where the duo, accompanied by Angela Chan on viola and effects and French harpist Lidwine, also on effects and percussion, set about playing the album in its entirety and as such this gig could be considered the World Premiere of this near contemporary classical suite. The music takes its inspiration from polar explorations and arctic sea and landscapes and does a brilliant job of evoking the bleak and blasted nature of that environment, despite the fact that many of the subtle sound effects that appear on the album (creaking rigging, the deep groaning of pack ice) are absent from the live setting. Layers of electronic and acoustic drones, leavened with subtle feedback and effects, build up a mesmerising soundscape and despite its essentially static nature the whole thing made for an absorbing and oddly timeless listening experience. The quartet were clearly nervous, but it sounded like a triumph to me. Earlier, Matthew Collings opened the show using guitar driven effects and noise boxes to make a pleasantly juddering and spiky sound, while Swede, Dag Rosenqvist, as Jasper TX, used a more stripped down guitar and laptop set up to make a pretty conventional crescendo that, frankly, lacked any kind of spark or purpose. Steve Walsh Madehay, M’Aider, Mayday with The Wind-Up Birds/ Racketball/ Redgrass @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds This is another of Dave Proctor’s wonderful gigs. The man can safely be relied upon to put together an interesting and eclectic bill and tonight is no exception – three bands whose only similarity is a desire to celebrate Mayday (if slightly late).
First up are Redgrass who feature Mr Proctor himself. Their brand of folk and bluegrass isn’t really my cup of tea, but there’s nowt wrong with it. The melodies are pleasantly pulled out by guitar, banjo and mandolin and the vocals, albeit a little gruff, do have a political message. Worth a listen, if you like that sort of thing.
Racketball are up next, and they have moved on since I saw them last. They now have an additional keyboard player (“She stopped listening to music when Wham! split – years later she found herself playing with Racketball”) and a new album – Beyond Chutzpah. The set is drawn entirely from the new one and it is magnificent. Electropop of the highest calibre, referencing a range of ‘80s electronica but with a thoroughly modern sound (and some juicy, chunked-up bass – mmm…tasty). And topped off with a voice like a slightly softened Mark E Smith with bits of Phil Oakey thrown in. The songs are great, especially ‘Cue; E-panic’ and ‘This Time’. Catch them if you can… And lastly, The Wind-Up Birds. They sound, as usual, muscularly tight – their post-punk-pop balanced just right, loud and pumping, at the top of its game. But the vocals aren’t high enough and Kroyd has to force himself to be heard, leading to incoherency and a sore throat. The set does contain a stupendous ‘Some Slum Clearances’ (what a riff! what a guitar sound!) and the awesome ‘Tyre Fire’ but it’s a bit disappointing. When the mix is right, they are unbeatable, but tonight wasn’t one of those nights. Cactus Black Diamond Bay/Danny and the Lost Souls/ Backyards/The Indecision @ The Library, Leeds The Indecision kick off tonight’s 360 Club with some superb rocksteady Ska. Razor tight riffs from the sextet and immaculate feel keep this interesting and there are plenty of covers in there too – good because Ska definitely peaked by the late 80s. Not that this isn’t worth your dollar though: their stops and crescendos set an incredibly high musical bar for the rest of the acts. Backyards find themselves taking up the mantle and show every sign that their confidence is growing. This is violin tinged atmospheric indie which formerly had its roots in Post-Rock but has clearly moved towards a more vocal lead display finally ready to match their huge sound. Certainly, a band that has to be heard live to get the full effect and one deserving of their recent attention. Placing 3rd in tonight’s line up but smashing out a thoroughly professional show is Black Diamond Bay. Moody, grungy electro in no hurry to fulfil its course, fronted by the enigmatic Jessie O’Mahoney and with a consistent dark groove of the face-melting variety. BDB are a bit special really, something not quite reflected in tonight’s meagre crowd reaction. Not that it fazed them. Also a bit puzzling is the band’s uniform pristine white Nike trainers – either a sponsorship or a weird band obsession. Handkerchiefs out now for the final performance of Danny and the Lost Souls, formerly one of the most unique
Sam’s cleverly written songs and articulate story telling. He is definitely destined for greatness but perhaps he needs to perfect his stage presence in the same way he has perfected folk.
Formerly Beaver Creek Studios, Musiquarium is a brand new venue in Kirkstall that may be a bit off the beaten track but is worth the journey, especially if they continue to put on quality, edge-of-the-radar bands like D & B veterans Hayashi.
I’m on a bit of a Philophobia kick of late so when they decide to invade Nation of Shopkeepers, naturally I’m going to attend come hell or high water (or Vibs Editorial meeting, incidentally). Aforementioned meeting meant missing St Gregory’s Orange which is a shame but I arrive in time for Imp, an eccentric synth-laden 5-piece whacking out that some of that delightfully choppy indie/grunge that Philophobia is known for. An excellent set, if bit on the sloppy end, and the whole band have a real presence and exude a kind of carefree recklessness that’s bloody infectious.
Hayashi @ Musiquarium, Leeds
I hadn’t seen them for a while and, knowing that they’d lost at least two of their vocal line, wasn’t sure what to expect. On seeing that they had replaced the whole front line, I was further bemused, but when they started playing, bemusement turned to amazement.
From three female vocalists to two female vocalists (D3 and Fanny) and one male MC (Oova Matique) the dynamic has moved from sultry harmony to balls out brutal in your face grimey dubby infectious dance. D3 spits lyrics with aggressive sexy venom, Fanny adds just a dash of melodic temptation and Oova... just is. The Headliners Runaround Kids have had a good 5 years back line of Stefanos on keys, Ben on Bass and Gid on or so to hone their sound and look every bit the un-cool drums is still as strong as ever but stripped back and grungers their music paints them to be. Pleasingly, there’s streamlined to allow the vanguard to truly unleash. And a coach-load of Wakefieldians in the room, rallying around boy is the sound tight – makes your average scenesters one of small city’s finest musical exports. They’re tight, drainpipes look like baggy bell bottoms. gritty and passionate and smash out classics from 2011’s Linked Arms like ‘Can’t Lose Lover’ and ‘Won’t Fuck Her Every song sounds fresh and is like a shot of St Vitus Sober’ with gusto. Cynical beyond their years, there’s a into the vitals of the crowd, which nestles twitchily in the weird sophistication to the Kids’ breakneck youthfulness palm of D3’s hand – by the time it comes to the encore – like a band that grew up too quickly while not really she has them literally begging. Oova just watches growing up at all. There’s an unmistakable smack of events implacably through wrap around mirror shades, Blink-182 in their vocal delivery and airy sound. In any occasionally giving forth to the joy of the audience. case, Leeds Fest slots and the like have treated them They’re now more So Solid than Roni Size but this is no kindly as this is a hella good show. bad thing – they’ve hit cool by being effortless. You may want to check them out. Now, because I know it’ll make Tim Hearson them happy, after me: Hai! Yah! Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Sam Airey @ Holy Trinity, Leeds Rob Wright With a voice not unlike Marcus Mumford’s, Sam Airey captivated a packed Holy Trinity church with his Glasseye Diner/The Colours/The Draymin/Mountain own unique style of folk/country. What a spectacular Range @ Escobar, Leeds setting for a gig of this nature, the perfect venue for a launch party. Mountain Range, the Leeds based solo-act Stuart Thomas, clambered onto stage behind his laptop There is no doubt that A Marker and a Map is a beautiful and got to it. Immediately, the room started to fill with EP. The song entitled ‘The Unlocking’ was a particular summits of heady electronica and valleys of melancholy triumph. However, despite Sam’s faultless voice, I didn’t ambience. Kicking a fierce drumbeat and bass line, the feel fully engaged in his performance. Perhaps it was music of Mountain Range is much more suited to a halfdue to the fact I had already sat through 3 other acts forgotten club filled with dripping walls of people moving and staying quiet in a setting such as Holy Trinity is a rhythmically to the sound scapes he creates rather than hard task on a Friday night; or maybe it was because a half empty bar at 8.30 in the evening. His set went the energy was a bit flat. Either way my attention was largely unappreciated, which was a shame considering unfortunately never fully grasped. This isn’t to put down he was the most exciting act of the night.
Runaround Kids/ IMP @ Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds
Live LiveReviews Previews
funk/soul acts on the Leeds circuit. Fans are out in force and frontman Danny Toeman definitely comes over a bit sentimental tonight but they plow through their gritty soul set with panache. This is old school to the core, complete with smooth solos, schmaltzy lyrics and a fine cover of The Temptations’ ‘Treat Her Like A Lady’. As per usual, Toeman’s authentic voice steals the show but the whole band drips groove. They will be missed.
Next on stage were The Draymin, who successfully wove together The Manic Street Preachers, The Stereophonics and Bon Jovi into a leather jacket to be worn by middle-aged mums and dads who fancy a party. This is not an altogether bad thing; the band was tight, professional and got the (somewhat small) crowd moving. I just wonder where this music belongs now, a wedding reception perhaps? The Colours seemed frightfully young as they gathered up their instruments and tentatively played their first few chords. It wasn’t long however, until they started to infuse the room with Foals-esque drumbeats and vocals that could have been lifted off The Maccabees second album ‘Wall of Arms’. Though clearly in its infancy, The Colours is a band that has ‘math-rock’ down to a tee, getting heads bopping and feet tapping and their set was certainly enjoyable. The last band to enter the stage was Glasseye Diner, and I don’t know whether it was the odd assortment of musical genres or the lack of money to buy another beer that made this band sound confusing. Part Oasis, part Indie-Rock noise, Glasseye Diner’s songs just didn’t make sense. Katie Finnegan Born to Brew/Chris Sharkey @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds I’m not convinced there’s a sucker out there who thinks that a night of pure improvisation is going to be a particularly easy listen. The only people mad enough to perform it tend to have tastes so niche you could crowd their collected demographics in a single pub toilet. That said, you can rely on trioVD’s virtuosic guitarist Chris Sharkey, complete with ominous opening diatribe and an admirably minimalist stage setup, to give you a good education. A performance firmly rooted in hardcore jazz theory, Sharkey explores the guitar in a way that manages to bring out all the different comical, jarring, overwhelming and, at times, chronically beautiful tones that can be created from such order/chaos manipulation only to see them drowned in a haze of feedback.
Born to Brew, by contrast, are not a duo you can quite prepare for. A project devised by NY poet and Punk-jazz drummer Sean Noonan who endeavours to use the jazz aesthetic as a means of accompanying his dense storytelling. In practice this means Noonan’s floaty, pansy-esque voice over Leeds resident Matthew Bourne’s mysterious organ work interspersed with blast beats and devastating finger exercises. A performance that walks the line between the entirely whimsical and deadly serious without committing to either and it’s great
fun to watch (especially ‘Improv Bouts’ a game involving musical exchanges between the two open to absolutely anything). With poem titles like ‘Geriatric Wasteland’ and ‘The Drunken Landlady’ you know you’re in for something bizarre. Imagine Castrovalva gone jazz. Tim Hearson Swinefest IV: Bong/Wizard’s Beard/Gorean Slave Master/Yorkshire Bone/Die 7te Kwallerie @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds Having attended Swinefest before, I knew to expect a certain degree of sonic rape and an absurd assortment of oddball acts. Nevertheless, I was still surprised when I entered the gig to be confronted with a grown man dressed like a daily mail conception of a ‘hoodie’ hitting an oversized can of tomato soup with a whisk. This was Die 7te Kwallerie, a band that have evidently travelled all the way from Hamburg for the purpose of blasting anything conceivable as music into complete obscurity and aptly placing it on cassette for purchase (or lack of). The next act, Yorkshire Bone, opened with a similarly grating and feedback strewn crescendo of noise before a visceral percussive beat usurped the mix. Coupled with the jittering lights, this created a genuinely unsettling and unnerving atmosphere – a perfect backdrop for the front-man to wail indecipherably whilst writhing on the floor. Illuminated by a man in ear muffs following him with a flashing light, it was like a theatre of the absurd piece which would have appeared pretentious if it wasn’t so profoundly disturbing. Following this, the contorted arrangements of Leeds electronic producer, Gorean Slave Master, conjured something akin to Aphex Twin, though the shock and awe was lost in an anti-climax after the previous performance. The rest of the night was left in the hands of two ardent advocates of the riff and the spliff. Wizards Beard worked their green fingers through a set of THC induced riffs which fulfilled all expectations of a stoner metal band postElectric Wizard. Bong, however, were the real treat. After demanding that all the lights in the room be turned off, the cult of now invisible bearded disciples filled the ether with a behemoth of drones, chants and drums so slow they almost defied rhythm entirely. In thirty minutes or so Bong managed to turn habitual recreational drug use into something sublime, spiritual and ritualistic. Benjamin Rutledge
That Fucking Tank/All Eyes West @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds 17 June In latest album TFT, That Fucking Tank have quite simply produced one of the best albums of the year, not just in Leeds but anywhere. If you haven’t seen this band yet, you need to go here. Canaya/Secta Rouge/Himself @ The Packhorse, Leeds 22 June Canaya are quite heavy. Also, British Wildlife rarely put a foot wrong when it comes to this promoting business so I suggest you attend. A Grand Day Out @ The Courthouse, Otley 23 June After last year’s much more ambitious inaugural A Grand Day Out had to be cancelled due to poor ticket sales (read, the abject apathy of LS6 types too idle to get a fucking bus the other way) British Wildlife try again with a much scaled down event that still boasts the kind of excellent and varied line-up (Juffage, Post-War Glamour Girls, T.O.Y.S., Yugoslavian Boys and Moody Gowns) we’ve come to expect from them.
Anyone who’s been party to the Library’s regular unsigned music night will have undoubtedly come across these gentlemen at some point. Like a proggy Madness, their sound is, at times, very silly but so well performed its well worthy of your ears.
The ‘VD will be smashing out tunes from their exceptional Mazes LP wot haz been released and that. Like an enema for the mind…
The Arrogance of King Canute @ The Library, Leeds 29 June
65daysofstatic @ Cockpit, Leeds 12 July I remember first seeing these gents at the Cockpit some 6 years ago. 3 albums later their sound has changed immeasurably but they remain instrumental, cerebral and fucking cool. This will indeed be a belter. Hope & Social (and others, presumably) @ Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds 17 July A band who appear to have shunned the traditional gig venue entirely bring their unique orchestral, community oriented pop stylings to this year’s Kirkstall Festival, situated in the grounds of the picturesque Kirkstall Abbey.
Image by Bart Pettman
trioVD/Roller Trio @ Fox & Newt, Leeds 15 June
Hookworms/Bilge Pump/Kogumaza/Nope @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds 23 June What a gig! The mind bogglingly tremendous line-up includes the ecstatic mantra rock of Hookworms, the mad rock-jazz yelling of Bilge Pump, one of the finest bands Leeds has ever produced, the peerless super heavy drone rock riffage of Nottingham’s Kogumaza. Nope are pretty fucking brilliant too… Wilful Missing/Fran Smith @ All Hallows Church, Leeds 24 June
All Hallows is gradually building a reputation for sterling acoustic and folk performances and Wilful Missing will be no exception. Support from the delightful Fran Smith.
In the Leeds music scene, there are two kinds of people: friends of Dave Proctor and those who haven’t met him yet. As friendly a man as you could ever come across, he’s a writer, a promoter, a musician and a cosmologist. Oh no, wait a minute, that’s Brian Cox... no, no I was right the first time, it’s Dave Proctor. Vibrations wordsmith Ben Rutledge gleans some words of wisdom from Leeds’ answer to the man who really loves physics... Steal things: There’s no obsession with pigs. And pigs are amazing animals, there’s no doubt about that. But no - the name Legion of Swine came from a Radio 4 program about swine flu. It’s a direct rip off from a radio show. I’ve got about seven different pseudonyms. One’s called Man Tank. I was going to a gig in Manchester and as I was driving down the M62 I saw this fuel-tanker. It said ‘mantank.co.uk’ and I thought I’m gonna rip that name as well. It’s just about ‘talent imitates, genius steals’, isn’t it? Or laziness – probably laziness in my case. Don’t be a sociopath: At least 90% of the people I know in Leeds are known through music. Music became a very social thing for me and I met loads of people through it. So I got more involved in it – and then you meet more people and then they get involved in it and then you collaborate with other people. It just seems to be tenuous links here and there. That’s what happened with Swinefest. What I also like is about how bands are in Leeds. They’re very collaborative and cooperative. There’s no ‘my band’s better than your band’. It’s more ‘your band’s really good; can we do a split EP?’ That’s what I like and that’s why I’ve ended up being in so many bands. A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd:
My idea - my concept if you like - is to put bands on who I don’t think are gonna bring any people in – who I don’t think any other promoters in Leeds would touch. If the audience is open minded it won’t be difficult at all. But I know for a lot of people who go to gigs, some of the bands are gonna be hard work; especially some of the noise bands.
Sit on the fence: When I was a kid at school you were either a punk kid or a metal kid. It was very tribal. And I said ‘fuck that. I like both’. Then I also used to say I liked stuff like Soft Cell and Imagination. I know a lot of people at school just thought I was being a wind up merchant – which I was, partly. And when you’re the smallest kid in your class, you’re gonna get the shit kicked out of you at some stage. So I’d say ‘I like punk and metal. Why can’t you like both? What’s wrong with you, dickhead?’ I got away with it most of the time. ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ (William Shakespeare): I always like the argument that people say it’s just a racket, it’s not music. I think it’s just the process people go through where they decide what they think music is. A good example of that is Merzbow. When people tell him what he’s playing isn’t music. He’ll argue the case ‘Why is noise not music?’ For me, to ignore noise means you have to ignore people like Sonic Youth and Aphex Twin and Velvet Underground! Be your own boss: I’ve got a feeling that I don’t wanna be part of a party. I’m inherently suspicious of political parties, even the good ones. I don’t know what it is. But it got the stage where I knew the Green Party weren’t gonna stand in Leeds Central where I live. The choice was between the three main parties and the BNP. And I thought ‘that’s not a lot of choice’ and it means I’m not going to vote. So I thought fuck it I’m gonna stand. I’ll vote for myself. Then at least I’ll get one vote. Make an impact: Always – not in a Bono sort of way though. Jesus! Completely not in that sort of way. Of course Bono could feed the world if he wanted to, if he actually spent some of his money doing so. And after paying his taxes of course, which he skilfully avoids, putting everything through some Dutch tax agency (allegedly). These fuckers could quite easily feed the world if they wanted to but they don’t. But enough about Bono; this isn’t about Bono this about me [Laughs]. I’m really getting into this now.
One for the Road Words by Ben Rutledge ~ Image by Simon Lewis And so I wasn’t really a musician then as such. I was very – y’know I was a tryer – but I wasn’t a doer really. I was in a band but the band was shit basically – none of us could play. But we had ideas and at that stage I thought having ideas were more important than having technique. Sticks and stones... A quote that I’ve seen on Leeds music scene: ‘Nice bloke. Shit music.’ Now I thought that was perfect. I was reading Stewart Lee’s book. Throughout this book he’s
talking about things the media say about him. So The Sun said ‘the worst comic I’ve ever seen. Ever’. And he actually puts this stuff on his advertisements; ‘Sloth-like’, ‘Unfunny’, ‘Without Jokes’. That’s on his posters! Confidence is key: I hope I’ve said a few interesting things. I imagine I probably have but I don’t know these things are all subjective. So if you think this interview’s shit, you’re wrong. You’re allowed an opinion – but you’re wrong.
‘Passion, not pedigree, will win in the end’ (Jon Bon Jovi):
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Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Spirit of John, The Wind-up Birds and trioVD
Published on Jul 5, 2012
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Spirit of John, The Wind-up Birds and trioVD