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LOUDER THAN WAR STUDIO G12 REGENT HOUSE 1 THANE VILLAS LONDON N7 7PH
PRINT’S not dead!
LOUDERTHANWAR.COM FACEBOOK.COM/LOUDERTHANWARMAG EDITOR IN CHIEF JOHN ROBB Johnrobb@louderthanwar.com EDITOR JAMES SHARPLES Jim@bigcheesemagazine.com PUBLISHER EUGENE BUTCHER Eugene@vivelerock.net DEPUTY EDITOR DICK PORTER Dickfjp@yahoo.co.uk ASSOCIATE EDITOR SARAH LAY Sarahlay@louderthanwar.com REVIEWS EDITOR IAN CHADDOCK Ian@bigcheesemagazine.com DESIGN/PRODUCTION STEVE NEWMAN Steve@bigcheesemagazine.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAULA FROST ROBERT MAIR FERGAL KINNEY PAUL HAGEN JAMES BATTY MARTIN LEAY LOUISE BROWN ANDY PEART JOE WHYTE HUGH GULLAND JON FALCONE NICOLA GRIFFITHS SAM CUNNINGHAM TIM GRAYSON ROXY GILLESPIE ARIEL WIMFREY CRAIG CHALIGNE GED BABEY ABIGAIL GILLIBRAND KRISTEN GOODALL PHOTOGRAPHERS MARK LATHAM EMMA STONE DOD MORRISON CONTACT FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES EMAIL INFO@BIGCHEESEMAGAZINE.COM PUBLISHED BY BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD DISTRIBUTION COMAG SPECIALIST 01895433800 COMAGSPECIALIST.CO.UK
HILE everyone else is downscaling and shutting up we have decided to turn our highly successful Louderthanwar.com website into a magazine as well. Maintaining our coverage of the new and left of centre, we will also be in the middle of the action with the classic and the generational. Louder Than War magazine is about the future and the past and will dig in depth into the music that soundtracks our lives. We are interested in the cutting edge and the history and all the great music that has defied the mainstream on its own terms. Louder Than War will initially be published quarterly, brought to you by the great writers and bands who are in the eye of the hurricane. This month sees LTW revisiting the characteristically unique phenomenon that was the return of the Stone Roses, frontline despatches from the road and what the future might hold for one of the world’s most incandescent rock ‘n’ roll bands. Alongside that we bring you everything from Wirral up-and-comers Hooton Tennis Club and returning space rockers Zombi to the brute brilliance of Swans and the post-Smiths reinvention of Morrissey. That’s just a taster of things to come – wait until you see what we have planned for the second one. Until then, dig in and we’ll see you soon for another heaped helping of indie, alternative, post-punk and weird. Print’s not dead!
John Robb Editor In Chief Main image: Postcards from the edge: John Robb’s Instagram documentation of the Stone Roses reformation tour. Follow John on Instagram.com/Johnrobb77 Cover photo: Ian Brown of the Stone Roses as shot by Paul Slattery in Mainichi Hall, Osaka, Japan, 1989. Paul’s photos of Oasis and The Smiths can be found in the books ‘Oasis: A Year On The Road’ and ‘The Smiths: The Early Years’ via Omnibus Books.
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD 2015
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REGULAR 10. ON THE STRIP: NEWS & VIEWS
46. BACK CATALOGUE: SUB POP
The Charlatans, Rolo Tomassi, Birdland and more.
From Nirvana to the Postal Service, the story of Seattle’s finest label by the people behind it all.
20. POPSCENE: SWANS John Robb waxes lyrical on the brute force genius of Michael Gira and company.
22. NU-CLEAR SOUNDS: INTRODUCING... Grave Pleasures, Dexters and Hooton Tennis Club.
28. SOUNDS FROM THE STREET: FALMOUTH Dick Porter digs into the Cornish creatives that are making waves near the sea.
84. OUT OF THE VOID Albums, books, DVDs and gigs reviewed.
107. ACCELERATOR Upcoming gigs for the months ahead plus a conversation with The Woodentops.
114. THEN AND NOW: ASH Ian Chaddock chats to Tim Wheeler about the success of ‘1977’ and the band’s return with ‘Kablammo!’.
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academy events present
AUTUMN TOUR 2015
OCTOBER 02 BEXHILL DE LA WARR PAVILION 03 EXETER GREAT HALL 06 MILTON KEYNES THEATRE 08 GLASGOW O2 ABC 09 SUNDERLAND EMPIRE THEATRE 10 LEEDS O2 ACADEMY
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18 AYLESBURY WATERSIDE THEATRE 21 PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL 22 HATFIELD THE FORUM 23 WARWICK UNIVERSITY THE COPPER ROOMS 24 CARDIFF TRAMSHED
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27 READING SUB 89 29 BEXHILL DE LA WARR PAVILION 30 NORWICH UEA OCTOBER 02 LONDON O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE 03 FROME CHEESE & GRAIN 04 SOUTHAMPTON ENGINE ROOMS
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TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME!
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FEATURED 30. HAPPY MONDAYS
44. MAXIMO PARK
Dick Porter meets Sean Ryder in advance of the band’s November UK tour.
Celebrating ‘A Certain Trigger’’s anniversary, Paula Frost talks the meaning of indie with Paul Smith.
Liverpudlians are helping to spark a new psych revolution.
78. THE NEW PSYCHEDELIA ERA John Robb explores the new roots of the fast-emerging return of psychedelia.
34. SLEAFORD MODS
The Mods’ Jason Williamson talks feuds, family time and the prospect of a revolution.
Notts teens Kagoule make a gloriously unearthly racket. Rob Mair gets the lowdown.
80. PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
50. THE STONE ROSES
Edinburgh’s Honeyblood have been winning over festival crowds with their sublime noise. James Sharples found out more.
As ‘Second Coming’ turns 21, John Robb remembers the 2011 reformation and speculates on the future of the Roses.
Flipping the industry on its head thanks to their odd genius, James Sharples hits the lab.
40. SLAVES LTW chats to Slaves’ Isaac Holman about ‘Are You Satisfied?’’s success and the future.
64. MANSUN Martin Leay meets Paul Draper to find out about his long-awaited solo album.
82. ZOMBI Louise Brown talks to the enigmatic space rockers about new album ‘Shape Shift’ and more.
42. FLUFFER RECORDS
Fergal Kinney explains how, in three years, Moz ignited his solo career.
Promoting three-day parties, street gigs and releasing brand new vinyl, LTW gets into Fluffer.
76. STEALING SHEEP James Sharples finds out how three
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West Midlands indie rock veterans THE CHARLATANS have been riding high again in 2015, with their hit twelfth album, ‘Modern Nature’, and sold out tours and triumphant festival performances. Having recently announced another UK tour to round off the year in December, Louder Than War caught up with frontman Tim Burgess to get the full story.
T doesn’t really feel like a comeback to us but I can see why it maybe would to some people,” admits peroxide blonde mopped hair vocalist Tim Burgess. “We were still playing great venues and headlining festivals but ‘Modern Nature’ was the first time in a while that we’ve been on the radio in the daytime for a while – 6Music and Radio 2 playlisted a few of the songs, so maybe people who’d forgotten about us, heard us in their cars and wondered where we’d been. Like LL Cool J said, ‘Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years’.” Following their early days of finding their feet with their first three albums in the early ‘90s, The Charlatans found commercial success in the Britpop era with hit albums ‘The Charlatans’ (1995) and ‘Tellin’ Stories’ (1997), the latter of which featured top 10 singles ‘One to Another’, ‘North Country Boy’ and ‘How High’. Having spent the two decades since doing what they do best – recording music and touring the world, it’s with their new LP ‘Modern Nature’ that the four-piece – Tim Burgess (vocals/harmonica), Martin Blunt (bass), Mark Collins (guitar) and Tony Rogers (keyboards), have developed a more soulful sound and recaptured a lot of old fans’ attention. “More soulful? Yeah, we’ll take that. We didn’t have a particular plan for the sound when we met back up in the studio but we loved the songs and it seems a lot more people did too.” Following the loss of drummer Jon Brookes to brain cancer in 2013, the band have had a hard couple of years but recorded their twelfth album in his honour, featuring three temporary drummers – Pete Salisbury (formerly of The Verve), Stephen Morris (New Order) and Gabriel Gurnsey (Factory Floor). On its release in late January this year, it was greeted by rave reviews and the year has got better and better for them, with a sold out UK tour in March and festival headline slots at Isle Of Wight, Truck and Tramlines. They also played a magnificent secret opening set at Glastonbury. “The gigs have been the highlights for us as a band – there was a moment when we were playing to 8,000 people at Castlefield Bowl, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert had joined us to play ‘Sproston Green’, along with Big Jim and Sean from Dexys. That song on that night was really something special. We were the ‘surprise’ openers at Glastonbury too – we played at 11am to the biggest crowd I’ve seen all summer. Emily Eavis had been in touch to offer us the gig. Looking back there’s been quite a few highlights – the reviews of the album were a great start and it’s kind of carried on from there. “The [sold out March] tour was brilliant. Each gig had something special about it that made it the best show – from Bristol to Wolverhampton to two nights at The Albert Hall in Manchester and finishing off at The Roundhouse. We played for two hours a night and had some great bands supporting us. As soon as we’d finished them we were all eager to do some more before the end of the year.” And that’s exactly what they’re going to do, having announced another UK tour for December, rounding off a year that has seen The Charlatans reinvigorated. So how excited are the band for the December tour and what can fans expect? “We’re really excited. Before the UK dates in December we’re touring Europe, America and Mexico. What can people expect? Well, lots of people have seen The Charlatans over 50 times and they’ve all been saying that the recent gigs are up there with the best we’ve ever played so I’d say get yourselves ready for a big night of great songs.”
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“LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE SEEN THE CHARLATANS OVER 50 TIMES AND THEY’VE ALL BEEN SAYING THAT THE RECENT GIGS ARE UP THERE WITH THE BEST WE’VE EVER PLAYED.”
‘Modern Nature’ is out now on BMG Chrysalis. The Charlatans tour the UK in December. December 8 Nottingham Rock City 9 Cardiff Tramshed 11 Norwich UEA 12 Birmingham O2 Academy 14 Edinburgh Usher Hall 15 Dundee Caird Hall 17 Newcastle O2 Academy 18 Liverpool O2 Academy 19 London O2 Academy Brixton
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LOUDER THAN WRITERS Have your say, get Louder... LOUDERTHANWAR.COM
he Louder Than War website is going to be insanely busy in the autumn, keeping up with the gig season and all the releases that are crammed in before Christmas as well as keeping on top of all the great new bands and getting them written about first. Keep up to date by bookmarking Louderthanwar.com.
HEAVENLY RECORDS EXHIBITION
ondon indie label Heavenly Records launched back in 1990 and put out releases from the likes of Edwyn Collins and the Manics. However, in the last few years they’ve had a revival, especially within the psych genre. With the label celebrating its 25th birthday, they’ve put together the black and white portraits exhibition ‘Heavenly Portraits’ by photographer Brian David Stevens, featuring every artist signed to the label in their anniversary year. It runs from 1st to 30th September at Rough Trade East in London.
Hi Louder Than War! I can’t wait for the first issue. I’ve been a big fan of the site for years and I love indie and punk and I think LTW is sure to be the magazine that will get me excited about music again and introduce me to bands I love. Please cover PiL, Oasis and The Verve. All new bands with that kind of attitude (something I think is seriously lacking these days) would be great too. Here’s to LTW making it to a magazine. I can’t wait! John Powell A true indie music magazine! Yes! Come on Louder Than War. Please make sure you cover the amazing new band Blossoms from Stockport. They’re going to be huge and I can’t wait to see them in October. Lisa Turner Write to us or Facebook message/post us to tell us what you want to see in the pages of the next Louder Than War! Facebook.com/LouderThanWarMag
artin works as a Policy Specialist in Parliament but outside of working hours, spends most of his time and money on music. Martin started writing for Louderthanwar.com after a chance meeting on a boat with John Robb. They were docked alongside Millennium Pier at the time and had just witnessed a blistering set by the world’s only Parliamentary Rock Band, MP4. Martin has been a Mansun fan since 1998 and over the last couple of years has become LTW’s unofficial Mansun correspondent. It was Martin who exclusively revealed the title of Paul Draper’s long-lost solo album and last year, he addressed 500 Mansun fans at a convention in Chester. In addition to writing for LTW, Martin co-ordinates the Pop and Politics initiative alongside John Robb and Kerry McCarthy MP; writes for the Coronation Street Blog; and co-presents the ‘Happy Sundays’ show on croydonradio. com every other week. He can be found on Twitter: @mpleay.
MORRISEY PIC: MICHEAL MULLER
MORRISSEY DEBUT NOVEL
he Mancunian music legend and former Smiths frontman has announced that his debut novel, titled ‘List Of The Lost’, will be published in paperback by Penguin Books UK in September. The novel will come almost two years after the publication of his successful ‘Autobiography’ in October 2013.
DEZ CADENA CANCER BATTLE Former Black Flag frontman and Misfits guitarist Dez Cadena has confirmed he is still battling throat cancer. He had a malignant tumour removed from his larynx earlier this year and has recently “finished debilitating radiation treatments.” However, he is confident he will return to performance within a year, although he left the Misfits in June.
“I DIDN’T KNOW THAT SUCH MUSIC EXISTED IN THE WORLD”
AVANT GARDE ECLECTICISTS LAIBACH BECOME FIRST BAND OF THEIR KIND TO PERFORM IN NORTH KOREA.
didn’t know that such music existed in the World and now I know,” says Choe Jong Hwan, one of the attendees at Laibach’s historic Pyongyang concert. Playing two dates in Pyongyang under the banner of the ‘Liberation Day’ tour, it’s astounding that a nation known for its defiant resistance to Western popular culture. To celebrate this moment in history, Laibach recently unveiled a new video for ‘We Are Millions And Millions Are One’. Taken from their latest album, ‘SPECTRE’, it’s directed by RÁTNEEK and features animations taken from Vuk Jevremovic’s ‘La Isla De Los Muertos’. You can watch it on Youtube now.
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RYAN ADAMS COVERS TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM
t the time of going to press, much-loved American singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was at the mixing and mastering stage of his surprising cover project of pop star Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ album in its entirety. Having announced the album in early August, Adams has been keeping fans updated on social media.
“IT’S ABOUT MAINTAINING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ENERGY!” ROLO TOMASSI gear up for their first UK headline tour in support of ‘Grievances’.
eleased earlier this year, ‘Grievances’ is the sound of Rolo Tomassi sharpening their atmospheric mathcore to a keen edge. LTW talked to vocalist/synth player James Spence to find out more.
What’s changed for you guys in between 2012’s ‘Astraea’ and ‘Grievances’? DANZIG
GLENN DANZIG TO APPEAR ON ‘PORTLANDIA’
he dwarf of darkness and former Misfits frontman looks set to appear in an upcoming episode of hit TV show ‘Portlandia’. Actress Carrie Brownstein (also a member of Sleater-Kinney) posted a photo of herself, Danzig and Fred Armisen on her Twitter account, gothed up of course, with the caption “Summer Goths. With Danzig. Dreams (nightmares?) do come true. #Portlandia” We can’t wait to see this one.
CONVERGE ANNOUNCE LIVE DVD
he long-awaited sequel to their 2003 DVD, ‘The Long Road Home’, the Massachusetts metalcore veterans Converge will release a new live DVD, titled ‘Thousands of Miles Between Us’ on 27th November through Deathwish. It’ll be available in three configurations – HD-Digital (feature only), 3x Blu-ray set and Limited Deluxe Box set versions. The main 20 song set was filmed in Philadelphia on their ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ tour.
“To begin with, our personnel. We have a new drummer, Tom, who has been with us for almost two years now. His style and energy as a drummer brought a lot to the table when it came to writing and realising the ideas we had for ‘Grievances’.
As songwriters, how to you manage to throw all these different sections into your songs but have them remain coherent? “It depends from song to song. I would say we have a couple of primary songwriters who form the basis of ideas of skeletons of songs which are then developed by the group as a whole. We tend to demo as often as possible when writing so that ideas can be pushed to being the best they can be and we can all develop our own parts individually, as well as suggesting what can improve the music as a whole.”
Is it a change in performance discipline, coming off a festival run and transitioning into headline shows? Is there less or more pressure when playing festivals (in terms of festivals being almost like ‘sell yourself, play the big songs’ sets)? “For us, the festivals were a good chance to showcase where we’re at in terms of the new material. Festivals offer a chance to play to a new crowd and we want to show them where we’re at right now as a band. We’ll be drawing a little more from our back catalogue when it comes to the headline dates but only material that compliments the ‘Grievances’ tracks we’re going to play.”
When writing/recording an album, do you have one eye on how material will work in a live setting as well as on record? “With this album we went against that entirely. In the past we’ve maybe limited ourselves by worrying about the way songs will work in a live setting. On ‘Grievances’ we wanted to make a studio album that was all about the music. There are certain tracks that we might not ever be able to play live but I’m fine with that. They were written for the recorded album and not a live show. Getting into that mind space allowed a lot more freedom in the way we were able to write.”
Why the decision to do the first headlining tour for ‘Grievances’ in November rather than, say, around the release of the album?
THE NATIONAL WRITING NEW SONGS
hio indie rockers The National are working on roughly 30 ideas for songs for their seventh studio album and follow-up to 2013’s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. Frontman Matt Berninger is however also currently working on El Vy, a collaborative project with Brent Knopf (ex-Menomena). Their debut album, ‘Return to the Moon’ is out through 4AD in Autumn and they will play three UK dates in mid December.
DR MARTENS 1460 BOOT Looking as fresh in 2015 as they did when they first rolled out of the Dr Martens’ factory, the eight-eyed 1460 boot remains an absolute classic. With the signature aircushioned sole and signature DM tab, this season’s 1460 boot has been updated in Ajax coated leather and lined with a fine geometric design. Pick up a pair for £105 at Drmartens.com.
“We wanted to give people a few months to get their heads around the album and we already had some festivals booked. It’s been nice gradually re-introducing ourselves into touring and playing more regularly and we’ll be in a way better position to tour ‘Grievances’ in November because of this.”
How do you get the balance right in terms of set lists? “For us it’s all about pacing and being able to maintain the right amount of energy.” What can we expect from the upcoming dates? “There’s a lot we haven’t played from ‘Grievances’ yet so the live debut of new material as well as a selection of ‘Astraea’ material and a few older tracks. We have a couple of months free that we’re going to start writing in so if we have anything ready, maybe the first post-’Grievances’ material too!”
November: 6th Brighton Green Door Store, 7th Plymouth Tiki Bar, 8th Bristol Louisiana, 9th Manchester Soup Kitchen, 10th Glasgow Stereo, 11th Nottingham Bodega, 12th Norwich Owl Sanctuary, 13th London Oslo.
CHEAP MONDAY JEANS The perfect fit for all genders, Cheap Monday has been putting out high quality, reasonably priced denim since 2004. Take, for example, the ladies’ ‘Second Skin’ black jeans: high rise fitted skinny lightweight denim with antique silver finish on the rivets and button, or for the lads: ‘Him Spray’: low rise black super skinny fit jeans with an antique silver finish. Long-lasting and for a decent price (£49 each), you can order online at Cheapmonday.com.
EVAN WILLIAMS BLACK LABEL BOURBON Opening Kentucky’s first commercial distillery in 1783, Evan Williams clearly knew his onions. Still using the same methods that Williams originally used, Evan Williams is the second largest selling Kentucky straight bourbon in the world. 86 proof and aged “far longer that we are required to by law”, it’s rich, smooth and full of character. Available now from all good booze shops, you can find out more at Evanwilliams. com.
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MYRKUR SKOGEN SKULLE DO
THE STONE ROSES I WANNA BE ADORED
An icy blast of post-black metal from Danish musician Amalie Bruun, ‘Skogen Skulle Do’ is taken from Myrkur’s debut album ‘M’. Produced by Garm of sonic wizards Ulver, M is a compelling, cathartic listen.
To this day a fixtures on record players and Infinite Jukeboxes up and down the country, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ is an immovable anthem, the ultimate slow burner and a fitting encapsulation of this issue’s cover stars.
With Henry Rollins preparing to make his return to British soil in January, what better time to revisit one of his finest moments from 1981’s ‘Damaged’. A tortured, emotional vocal performance backed by one of the most incendiary bands of all time.
DO I HAVE TO LOOK FOR LOVE?
A pop-punk trio hailing from West London, the Tuts’ guitar driven electric mania blew John Robb away at Beautiful Days festival recently. Single ‘Do I Have To Look For Love’ is beautifully chaotic, hung together by melodic threads. BLOSSOMS
LET’S EAT GRANDMA DEMOS
Only sixteen years old, Rosa and Jenny’s youthful exuberance shines in their live performances (they’ve recently played the likes of Latitude), an organised chaos of keyboards, drums, sax, strings – even recorders – you’ll be hearing a lot more from the duo this year if their demos are anything to go by.
WROTE FOR LUCK
Hitting the UK on tour this November, we revisit one of Shaun Ryder and company’s finest hours with ‘Wrote For Luck’. Originally on 1988’s ‘Bummed’, it sees the band take their deep-fried reinterpretation of northern soul to sublime heights. WARDRUNA KAUNA
As we eagerly await the return of Norwegian dark folk lot Wardruna (their third album ‘Runajod-Ragnarok’ is rumoured to be released soon), this issue we’re revisiting 2009’s Runaljod-Gap Var Ginnunga’, an intense, overwhelming set of Nordic rituals.
BAD ART & WEIRDO IDEAS
Released the end of October, Philadelphia’s Beach Slang offer shades of the Replacements on their first full-length, ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’. ‘Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas’ is a cathartic, full-bore of yearning leads and destructive rhythms. DEAFHEAVEN BROUGHT TO THE WATER
Opening with a black metal pummel and some truly evil vocals, ‘Brought To The Water’ is the first taste of San Fran’s Deafheaven’s third album ‘New Bermuda’. Hammering in Pumpkins-esque melodies into their shoegaze metal, the contrast is startling.
LOUDER THAN WAR ILLUMINATES FORGOTTEN TRACKS.
ARTIST: MARINE GIRLS TRACK: DON’T COME BACK YEAR: 1983
ailing from Hatfield, Marine Girls featured the pre-Everything But The Girl Tracey Thorn. Mixing together post-punk and indie-pop, ‘Don’t Come Back’ received a reappraisal last year when it was featured on Cherry Red Records’ ‘Scared To Get Happy: A Story Of Indie-Pop ‘80-’89’. A slice of melodic understated genius.
A psychedelic proposition emerging from Stockport, Manchester, having built a rabid local following, Blossoms recently announced a deal with Virgin EMI and, on the strength of single ‘Blow’, could be stunning stadiums with their ‘60s-influenced sounds real soon. SEALINGS
LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY FIND THE LOVE
Originally released for Record Store Day this year, Secret Records have recently released the Upsetter’s ‘Holiness Righteousness’ on CD with an additional five bonus tracks. The subject of recent documentary ‘Vision Of Paradise’, if you don’t know ‘Scratch’, you should do.
Abrasive and confrontational, Brighton three-piece Sealings look to the likes of JAMC and A Place To Bury Strangers, wrapping it all up in a cold-wave sheath. Taken from debut album ‘I’m A Bastard’, ‘White Devil’ is all sorts of unsettling.
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD
Starting life as a garage rock band, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s latest opus ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon’ instead heads in an acoustic, wonky folk direction. Like the Super Furry Animals covering the Beach Boys after a pint of cough syrup.
IN DOG YEARS YOU’D BE DEAD
The flip side to latest single ‘Sockets’, ‘’In Dog Years You’d Be Dead’ sees the Slaves lads taking a leaf out of both The Cramps and Motorhead’s book, creating a dirty great monster of a track.
Offering a jarring contrast of melancholic lyricism and funk rhythms, ‘Snakeskin’ is the lead off track from the band’s seventh album, ‘Fading Frontier’. The first recorded music since frontman Bradford Cox’s serious car crash in 2014, it’s a strident return to form.
C H A RT H I T S BY NUMBERS JOY DIVISION Singles
Love Will Tear Us Apart 1980
The Peel Session 1986
The Peel Session Vol.II. 1987
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ndie darlings Birdland flew out of Birmingham in 1988 and were formed by brothers Robert and Lizzy Lee Vincent who had previously played in the glam Zodiac Motel. With their blonde image and buzzed-up pop rock they quickly topped the indie charts with debut single ‘Hollow Heart’ and followed it with a further three indie chart toppers and were all over the national music papers. Signing to a major and releasing debut album ‘Birdland ‘ in 1991 which hit number 44 in the national charts they split soon after due to management and internal problems. Now residing in New York, LTW spoke to singer Lizzy Lee Vincent about what happened and where they are now.
You had played with your brother Robbie as Zodiac Motel, but things seemed to happen incredibly fast when you formed Birdland... “Everything did happen fast in retrospect but it seemed forever at the time, which is how it is when you’re that young. I left school at fourteen, I walked out one day and never returned. For the next few years I locked myself in the bedroom and put together the Zodiac Motel with Robbie. W got a deal in Birmingham pretty fast, then it was a matter of being recognized in London after that, getting in the van and going to play pubs in London. Finally we started getting attention and some great live reviews. “We decided to change the name and stop wearing the retro psych shirts - Zodiac was great but it was never going to take us to where we wanted to go. Six months later we had our first NME cover. It seemed really new to everyone but we had been putting the same performances on in pubs around London for the previous three years.”
With all four of you sporting blonde hair you had a distinctive look. What sort of influences and sounds did you also want to bring to the 18
band? You must have had a pretty complete idea of what Birdland had to look and sound like... “We wanted all the New York influences to come through. I wanted the British guitar sounds of the Bunnymen, which had that Television vibe also. We loved playing really fast - it’s an incredible high to play that fast on stage - having a great drummer is key. Everyone mentioned the Stooges but they meant nothing to me and still don’t. I have never owned a Stooges LP. “The blonde thing was really more of a coincidence. We walked round together, we were a gang. Birmingham has always been a big glam rock kind of town, especially in mid ‘80s.”
All four of your first singles topped the indie charts which was an incredible feat back then. Did you feel you could do no wrong? “It was very exciting. The singles were all great, it was only when we were told to get serious and record an LP that we suddenly stopped the flow, which was a stupid mistake. The LP should have been eleven tracks, short three-minute blasts, but by that time our management had the the major labels move in and saw Birdland as being some kind of classic rock act.”
If you could do things over again what would you do differently? “Not a lot really. For the most part we did exactly what we set out to do. I would however make sure to stay on top of the contracts. We were always being made to sign stuff when we stepped off stage, obviously so we wouldn’t really look at what it was. All in all it was a great experience. With the Zodiac Motel back in the beginning we were the band most unlikely to succeed in Birmingham, but we were so different to everything else going on, and short sighted people don’t ever see the future.”
What are you up to now and do you hear from your brother Robert or the rest of the band? “I live in NYC and I record at my loft with a drummer and play everything else myself. It’s not ideal but for all my love of NYC I still ain’t found anyone I want to be in a band with. I think it has something to do with American musicians in New York, they are still listening to cock rock and wearing Kiss make up, not my cup of tea mate. “I see Robert when I go back to the UK. A few years ago Birdland had a decent offer to reform and do a show in London, but he decided not to go through with it and I don’t ever talk to the other two guys. “I have a new EP on Soundcloud (more at Facebook.com/ Lizzyleemusic)under my name Lizzy Lee, and I’d like to play some gigs soon...”
Was it a mistake signing to a major label? “I don’t think the band had a problem with anyone at MCA or EMI. The mistake was letting the management have so much control over the band when we signed initially. We never saw any of the advance monies and I remember all four of us back in the dole office just a week after our last American tour.”
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SWANS John Robb waxes lyrical on the brute force genius of Michael Gira and company.
UILT around frontman Michael Gira, Swans formed in the early ‘80s in near bankrupt New York - a city of no go areas far removed from the current glitz and glamour version. It was in these areas that Gira pitched up, a man on a mission to explore the hearts of darkness presented but rarely explored in rock culture. A youthful acid freak who did the hippie trail after moving to Europe with his parents in the dying days of the sixties ending up in jail in Israel after getting busted for dealing drugs. He wound his way back to the USA and did a stint back in California before moving in 1979 to the
post apocalyptic Gotham City of New York - a city then on its knees and even deserted by batman and most right mind people. It was here that he rented a shop floor in a broken down block - a cheap space where he started to construct his own music firstly in with the short lived Circus Mort and then Swans. Gira remembers this early period and his intense life consuming work method. “I had a 900 square foot storefront which I built myself. It was a shabby space when I moved in but I did a lot of construction on it. When I moved in it was a 100 dollars a month to rent but with a lot of hard work I made it into a space to work.”
Swans’ 1982 debut EP was more like Joy Division or the early releases of key German outfit Einstürzende Neubauten with its dark, bass-driven space with the skree of jazz than the heavy duty version of Swans that would make a full impact in the next couple of years. Swans were already fantastically against the grain - the early ‘80s post-punk fallout was a time of scrambling for careers and many of the former noiseniks were getting comfortable in the cosy Reaganomics of pop culture. There was a rearguard action in Europe were small fragmented scenes of tinny scratchy noise pioneers did their best but it was the release of Swans’ debut 1983 album ‘Filth’ that redrew the rulebook. With the added power of guitarist Norman Westerberg the band slowed everything down and delved into the opposite direction of just about everyone else out there. If American hardcore had taken the speed of punk and pumped it up into a gonzoid riffing,
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SWANS The follow up, key intensity. 1984’s ‘Cop’, was a Jarboe and Gira even continuation of this started another project grinding theme with called Skin which saw more added hints of melody exploration of melody and in the album’s vast other musical sources and a soundscapes - if cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love anything it was even Will Tear Us Apart’ which grindier and slower saw the whole of their and took the power of surrounding projects get metal and the space offered an unlikely major of post-punk/no wave deal which resulted on and created a whole 1989’s Swans album, ‘The new epic space. Live, Burning World’, which was the band explored produced by Bill Laswell this even further with and leant more towards confrontational, no the band’s folk and world mercy gigs that were music influences, It was a endurance tests of daring gamble by the label physicality. and the band but saw them PERSONNEL: “The main thing dropped after becoming one with early Swans of the MCA’s lowest selling Michael Gira (vocals/guitar) was that I was just albums in their history - a Christop Hahn (guitar) stripping down to the victory of sorts!The reaction Thor Harris (drums) essential elements of saw the release of 1991’s Christopher Pravdica (bass) what we consider to ‘White Light From The be rock music really. Mouth Of Infinity’ which Phil Puleo (drums) I was getting rid of saw a revisit to the band’s Norman Westberg (guitar) everything else and earlier harder style but Bull Rieflin (piano) pushing what you then with the added light and found to an extreme. shade of their more recent TRACKLISTING: That came through years. 1992’s ‘Love Of Life’ ‘Lunacy’ rehearsing and being continued this trip further properly severe about with one of the band’s ’Mother Of The World’ the choices that were most commercial releases ’The Wolf’ being made. I don’t before Gira spent the next ’The Seer’ like calling it the drone. few years on several other ’The Seer Returns’ I suppose, as you projects before what seemed ’93 Ave. B Blues’ notice with the records, one last hurrah with 1995’s nothing stays the ‘The Great Annihilator’ and ’The Daughter Brings The same, things are always 1996’s ‘Soundtracks For The Water’ growing and changing Blind’. The final full stop of ’Song For A Warrior’ within the chord and live compilation ‘Swans Are ’Avatar’ that interests me - the Dead’ seemed a fitting end ’A Piece Of The Sky’ possibilities that are to the band’s career. there in a single note, It was a surprise then, ’The Apostate’ that kind of aspect when the band reactivated which makes it more and released 2010’s ‘My than a drone. Sometimes it feels like cheating Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’. to change chords you know (laughs)?” The follow up was 2012’s ultimate statement, 1986’s ‘Greed’ saw the key addition of ‘The Seer’, which is an immense piece of work, Jarboe to the band - the superfan who had while ‘To Be Kind’ was Swans with subtle travelled from New Orleans to New York City textures added to their remarkable music and and ended up adding her musical training to yet another long sprawling and brilliant work. the band’s dense soup. These days, Gira’s role in Swans is clearly It was on 1986’s ‘Holy Money’ that Jarboe defined: a totemic presence on stage, the started to sing as well, breaking down the pivotal guru with his guitar and his crooned constant feature of Gira’s intense vocals and vocals around which all this revolves. adding a new palate to the band’s sound with “I’m a producer for lack of a better word. In elements of gospel and an almost traditional a way I’m like a film director. Not to be too musicality to the band’s workout. 1987’s grandiose by any means but I’m looking at ‘Children Of God’ was a major breakout by creating a piece of cinema and all the kinds of the band as the hints of this recent melody variation that implies. It’s not so much about to their fierce and intense sound were fully different musical styles but to create nuance explored and the album is a hint of the and different atmospheres. I’m trying to make remarkable albums of the recent years with a world where the listener can fall into it and a full range of musical influences that were lose themselves.” moving away from the claustrophobic power of the early releases without losing any of the The ‘Filth’ boxset is out now on Mute Records
Swans now went in the opposite direction. Few people had travelled this deep and dark into the cesspit of slow noise - there had been hints of it in the Stooges and certainly PIL had been there but no-one had examined the possibilities of this new kind of power quite like Swans and their album was a stunning and filthily beautiful shock to the system.
he band claimed they were mixing their stripped down visceral power with the blues but there was the late 20th century nervous breakdown of New York added in there as well. “New York was an incredibly different place then to what it is now. It was a very difficult place in those days. The city was in decay and decline. There was lots of violence and hardship and, in a way, that was a productive element because it weeded out the weaklings.”
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“IT’S ABOUT ACCEPTING THAT WE’RE FUCKED AND ENJOYING THE MOMENT WHILE IT LASTS.”
GRAVE PLEASURES Finnish metalheads create a doomy goth punk classic with debut album.
ROWING up, I was obsessed with rock ‘n’ roll and to me, the guitar was sort of the definition of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Grave Pleasures guitarist Linnéa Olsson: “When I got my first guitar it was like someone had just given me a magic wand or something.” Formed from the ashes of Beastmilk, a boundary smashing band that combined black metal intensity with body-moving grooves on the critically lauded ‘Climax’, Linnéa was “a latecomer in that band. I joined as second guitarist in the autumn of 2014. On my first tour with them, we went on the road supporting In Solitude. The guys in that band are good friends of mine since many years back, and all of us got along very well on the tour. It was one of those perfect marriages, where a lot of laughs were shared
and nerve-ends exposed. On my second tour it does with, say, Black Sabbath. with Beastmilk, we had Atomikylä supporting Says Linnéa: “I can say that people like us us. It was equally fun and probably even who have been into music our entire lives, more drunken. When Beastmilk’s guitarist primarily but not exclusively into heavy and co-founder Johan split with the rest music if you will, after a certain point you of the band in the beginning of 2015, Mat don’t really see the labels or the differences (‘Kvohst’ McNerney, vocals), Valtteri (Arino, in genre that much. You see the intent and bass) and myself decided to regroup, and the common denominators, rather than the with the chemistry from these past tours differences. We are into real, genuine, soulfresh in our minds, Uno (Bruniusson, drums) stripping, mind-bending, heart-shaking music from In Solitude and Juho (Vanhanen, that allows you to transcend the mundane guitar) from Atomikylä were two people we - whether it is Nick Cave or Morbid Angel really wanted with us. They are great people doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. and amazing players. Since then we’ve been “Since the band was so new, we were very making music as Grave Pleasures.” open-minded while writing, and we allowed And as for the band name? The things to progress in a natural way rather connotations are twofold according to than setting up rules for how things should Linnéa: “It’s this ‘love through death’ be done. This was extremely rewarding in concept that has been with our singer Mat a creative sense. It was a truly enjoyable and Beastmilk since the beginning and experience to write this album with the rest it’s also our way of looking at the world, of the guys. We recorded in bleak and cold accepting that we’re fucked and enjoying the Turku, lived in an equally bleak flat, and got moment while it lasts.” drunk every day. You could say it was the Moving further away from their heavy ultimate Finnish experience!” metal beginnings, the debut Grave Pleasures album, Sounds like: The Birthday Party / In Solitude / Beastmilk ‘Dreamcrash’ holds more in common with the likes of Joy Available: ‘Dreamcrash’ (Columbia) Division and the Banshees than
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More Stately Mansions
Matt Skiba & The Sekrets
Big Morbid Death Pop!
“a trickling rivulet that gathers emotional momentum, eventually leaving you gasping for breath without you even knowing why.” – The Line of Best Fit
The latest album from the Alkaline Trio frontman, featuring Hunter Burgan (AFI) & Jarrod Alexander (ex-My Chemical Romance)
UK Tour: 23/11 Bodega, Nottingham 24/11 Bush Hall, London · 25/11 Deaf Institute, Manchester · 26/11 King Tuts, Glasgow · 27/11 The Hop, Wakefield
– Out Now –
– Out Now –
– Out Now –
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The Demon Joke New solo album by former OCEANSIZE-singer and long-time Biffy Clyro live guitarist Mike Vennart
JOE JACKSON FAST FORWARD
HIS FIRST ALBUM OF ORIGINAL SONGS IN SEVEN YEARS! GLE INCL. THE SIN FOR YOU“ ‘T „ IF IT WASN RECORDED IN 4 DIFFERENT CITIES NEW YORK - AMSTERDAM - BERLIN - NEW ORLEANS
OUT OCTOBER 2nd CD | VINYL | DOWNLOAD
THE NEW ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW!
include “Cocoon”s “Free” an , d new singl the “Machine e ry”
CD | 2CD LTD. EDITION (INCL. 4 BONUS TRACKS) | VINYL | DOWNLOAD SEE ASH LIVE THIS DECEMBER IN THE UK - VISIT: WWW.ASH-OFFICIAL.COM WWW.EAR-MUSIC.NET · FACEBOOK: EARMUSICOFFICIAL · YOUTUBE: EARMUSICOFFICIAL · TWITTER @EARMUSICEDEL The Label Services Business
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Hoxton indie kids take aim.
Y first ever favourite song was the theme tune to that old Batman show, the one with Adam West. The story is I used to run around the house all day singing it.” Dexters’ vocalist Tom Rowlett had an eclectic bunch of musical influences in his early years, citing none other than his dad for opening his eyes to the exhilarating world of rock ‘n’ roll. “He played in a old R’n’B band and I’d go and watch him in the old east end boozers, sitting on the sidelines with my packet of crisps and just love it. He introduced me to all the bands he loved like The Kinks, The Who and Captain Beefheart. From that point on I was hooked, that’s when I started writing songs. Now the old man stands with his crisps watching me! From that point on Dexters was always going to happen. Our guitarist Ben Deboo and I were already friends from growing up in Hoxton and both wanted to be in a band, so we got it together.”
move on, but now it’s made it too expensive for the skint musician artist type to get a flat there. It’s nuts how things work out like that.” However, with the recording of second album ‘We Paid For Blood’ at the legendary Rockfield Studios firmly under their belts Dexters are firmly focused on what the future might bring, “When we were told we were going to Rockfield we just bounced off the walls. There’s so much history associated to that place, it makes you want to be a part of it. I can see it now, some young band will buzz off the fact we recorded ‘We Paid For Blood’ there like we did knowing Stones Roses recorded ‘Second Coming’ there.” So what can fans expect from Dexters this time around? “A step up - in sound, in showmanship, in delivery, you name it! Our last tour was immense and we want to better that so we’ve been working hard in the practice room, got some new gear and now know how we want people to leave our shows...I’m not sure we did before, I mean we knew what we were doing but now we know why we’re doing it. Do you know what I mean?”
With the line up completed by way of “divine intervention” with the addition of Chris Mardon on drums and Jamie Harris on bass, the Dexters boys were ready to start making a racket in earnest. But how did they settle on a name for themselves, there must be a tale to tell there? Rowlett elaborates, “It’s the name of a bouncer who worked at a club I used to go to. I was launched from the club one night and, as you do, I told him if he let me back in I’d name my new band after him...I always keep a promise.” Things haven’t always been as plain sailing as Dexters might have hoped though, watching their beloved East London landscape become almost unrecognisable in recent years, but they certainly can’t deny its influence, “It’s where I grew up, it helped form who I am; the experiences I’ve had there and the things I saw influenced the songs I write. It’s had a huge impact on the band, the biggest. Once upon a time all the young aspiring artists, musicians and film makers lived here but then the middle class Sounds like: The Libertines / The Clash / The Kaiser Chiefs hangers on arrived and now it’s Available: ‘We Paid For Blood’ (Acid Jazz) unrecognisable. I get it..Things
“IT’S THE NAME OF A BOUNCER WHO WORKED AT A CLUB I USED TO GO TO.”
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hooton tennis club
Photo: Mark Latham
“LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO GRAVITATE”
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB Slacker action straight out of the Wirral.
LOPPY and shiny” is how Hooton Tennis Club, when pressed, describe themselves. And it’s a pretty apt summation. Taking influence from the likes of Pavement and Supergrass, their sound is a unique mix of saggy-jeaned slacker and pop genius. Comprised of Ryan Murphy (guitar), James Madden (guitar), Callum McFadden (bass) and Harry Chalmers (drums), the foursome hail from the ‘Paradise Peninsula’, otherwise known as the Wirral and have “been friends ever since we met in high school”. Music, it turns out, “was always just a way to hang out with each other, trying to record as many songs as we could in the time we had. We’ve never really been influenced by anybody specifically. We’ve all been writing music together for ages, making up different bands, trying to copy others, rumbling
through our formative years. out. The whole recording process was loads “We all really love Supergrass; we used to of fun. The days spent in the studio were watch documentaries about a bloody dream! Hopefully people will like them and try to imitate the stuff they did it, too. If they don’t there’s always Martha - acting up, making ‘faux-rocumentaries’. Reeves, Bob Dylan, Ween, Randy Newman, We just wanted to enjoy what we were Nas, Supergrass, and the Backstreet Boys to doing, not to put any pressure on ourselves name a few.” and to pigeon hole it. We never thought Now based out of Liverpool, it appears that about it, we’d be like, ‘Let’s make some there’s a vibrant music scene blossoming in songs the land of the Beatles. and play them at Glastonbury!’, as if it was “Liverpool is great at the minute; most of that easy - you just up and do it. Then the bands seem to get along. It seems to be it turns out it is like that sort of...” like a diluted, multi-scene; just like any other With a band name chosen in a similar low city really, but it is going through a ‘purple pressure fashion (“We went to get some patch’. Most of the people we see in bands chips during a bedroom recording session around Liverpool are full of conviction and at Harry’s and we saw the road sign for really talented, so a bunch of like-minded ‘Hooton Tennis Club’. We thought ‘That people are always going to gravitate. It’s would be a funny song name,” and it just just a shame most of the places that they stuck”), it turns out that they approached gravitate to are closing down and turning the recording for their debut album, the into more new apartment blocks.” recently released ‘Highest Point In Cliff So there you have it land developers: less Town’, in pretty much the same way. new builds and more new bands please. “The way we record isn’t too strenuous, we don’t set out to write a single, it’s all just music that Sounds like: Pavement / Wire / Supergrass is bunched together to luckily make an album. We’re all really Available: ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’ (Heavenly) pleased with the way its come
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LOST DAWN 28
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The last two years have seen an explosion in exciting talent erupting from the Cornish town of Falmouth. As LTW’s southernmost extremity, Dick Porter is ideally placed to tell us more...
OCK ‘n’ roll happens in some unlikely places. Before Elvis woke up the 20th century, Tupelo, Mississippi was known as little more than a truck stop. Subsequent to Presley’s emergence as the first global rock superstar, it was mythologized as a place of cultural power that in reality owed more to what was going down one hundred miles away at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio in Memphis than it did to the creative fecundity of Tupelo’s dusty ground. Culturally and geographically, Falmouth is an awful long way from America’s southern states. A university town, it’s one of the last places capable of hosting any kind of nightlife before one runs out of land. You can travel all the way to Memphis and keep going – Here, there’s not many options for passing through. What modern day Falmouth has in common with the city where the likes of Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis made their earliest recordings is that it is home to a creative hub that has attracted a golden generation of uniquely talented musicians. This is Troubador, a studio and occasional venue that is tucked away within the kind of imposing wharfside structure that wouldn’t have looked entirely out of place in ‘On The Waterfront’. Climb the stairs and you’ll find a sprawling space festooned with carpets, sofas and general bric-a-brac, which also houses the mixing deck and Fostex tape machine that has been made good use of by many local bands. Much of the constantly rotating cast of musicians and technicians that frequent Troubador share history that goes back to when Dartington College of Arts merged with University College Falmouth to create a singular creative melting pot. “The Black Tambourines formed in 2009 –they were doing a course called the National Award in Rock Music at the college and were taught by a guy called Rob Carter. They already had some pretty well defined ideas of how they wanted to sound,” recalls Truro College Lecturer in Popular Music, Toby Seth. “Stan and Ben from Lost BLACK TAMBOURINES
more talent in this county than I could ever have imagined,” admits Sandercock.
s the Black Tambourines star continued to rise during 2014, they undertook a series of high profile gigs that included Dawn were studying at the same time – doing a supporting the Jesus and Mary National Diploma in Music Tech (along with the Chain and a slot on Glastonbury’s John Peel Tambourines’ sound man, Max Jacomb) – they stage. Toward the year’s end, NME caught on were in a dirty blues band at the time called to the buzz, running a two-page feature on The Rotten Gunslingers, and then formed Lost Falmouth’s bands. However, the idea of a ‘scene’ Dawn off their own backs whilst still at the in any contrived sense, does not apply here: college.” Although connected by location, shared history Along with hi-octane garage titans the Red and association with Troubador, Falmouth’s Cords, the Black Tambourines and Lost Dawn undertook the time honoured process of honing groups follow entirely singular paths. “If you ask chops and paying dues, intermittently appearing a wide range of us you’re likely to get some very divisive comments,” explains Tambourines’ bass at Troubador and other small local venues such behemoth and vocalist Jake Willbourne. “A genre as Bunters in Truro. A steady trickle of demo named after a location is uninspiring, and in tracks and EPs leaked out online, before things the larger view any pigeonholing of music with moved up a gear in 2013. Despite technical easy terminology is uncreative. I think a more hassles, the Tambourines comprehensively realistic interpretation outperformed The of what’s going on is a Fall at Falmouth’s decentralisation of the Princess Pavilions, music industry from then served further London. The music notice of their business itself has been coruscating potential in decline for some time with the release of now, so to move to the an eponymous debut big smoke to try and album on Bristol make it big is not a indie label Art Is realistic goal.” Hard. In December 2014, the Shortly after, a visit Tambourines, Dawns to a Troubador gig and Cords headlined a by Easy Action label The Tambourines’ Jake Willbourne unique show celebrating supremo Carlton the wealth of local talent Sandercock resulted that took place at Falmouth’s Beerwolf Books – a in ‘The Falmouth Sound Vol. 1’, a twelve-track bar-cum-bookshop that hosted an event that also live album that showcased the free-flowing celebrated Exeter-based promoters Wax Music’s interplay between the Black Tambourines, Red first birthday. The lengthy bill served to highlight Cords and Lost Dawn. Born in the county, several newer local bands, such as riotous Carlton had recently returned to Cornwall after enfants terribles the Spankees, the enigmatic many years operating in the London end of the Golden Dregs and the sparkling, genre-spanning music business. “Being closest to Falmouth I Isabelles. As the sweaty crowd emerged into the can see that bands can form and flourish in a frigid night after the gig, it was clear that those creative environment compared to the capital,” present had been fortunate enough to be in the he explains. “It’s a wonderful university town right place at exactly the most opportune time. bursting with young creative minds. It’s also Something special was happening. small enough for a scene to actually emerge That vibe has continued into the current year, and for the players to all know one another.” with the opening of MONO, a smart new venue Easy Action’s support of the Cornish scene that filled a void for local and visiting bands saw the label pick up alike, the release of Lost Dawn’s self-titled the rights to the Black full-length debut, and with the emergence of Tambourines’ debut the Black Tambourines’ transcendent second album and release album, ‘Freedom’. “I think it’s definitely great material from a string for bands outside of big cities when the media of local artists. This has finally pays attention,” observes Lost Dawn culminated in the recent guitarist and vocalist Stan Duke. “I wouldn’t ‘Cornwall Calling’ disc, want it to be choked to death but it’s good to which showcases twentyhave appreciation in a small town.” Falmouth, three cuts from some it seems, will continue to do its own thing. the county’s finest acts. Gloriously. “I thought co-compiling ‘Cornwall Calling’ would be a relatively easy job – it ‘The Falmouth Sound Vol. 1’ is out now on Easy Action Records wasn’t, there was so much
“The music business itself has been in decline for some time now, so to move to the big smoke to try and make it big is not a realistic goal.”
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With a 25th Anniversary ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills’ tour, a reality show that finds them living in huts deep in the Amazon rainforest and talk of a new studio album, the HAPPY MONDAYS are having it suitably large. Dick Porter catches up with Shaun Ryder to dig what he’s gotta say.
E’RE like some kind of wacky marriage or dysfunctional family,” observes Shaun Ryder as he’s asked to give his personal take on the internal dynamics of the Happy Mondays. At a time when the term ‘iconic’ is overused to vanishing point, they tick all the boxes that even the most rigorous application of the term would require. Having defined an era, transcended genres and fought for their right to party, the Mondays have achieved the rare feat of coming to stand for something within the popular consciousness. A potent and irresistible mix of defiance, hedonism and cultural nous, the Happy Mondays created their own legends. Emerging from the mists of countless hard-to-remember nights that ended the following day, innumerable sweaty, celebratory gigs and a fearsome stream of white hot studio releases, the group have seared their way into the hearts of a multitude. A quarter century on from the final stage of their ascension from urchins to superstars, Shaun Ryder spends an afternoon at the telephone, speaking to people with lists of questions about those days. “That’s alright,” he chuckles: “I just get to sit here and talk about drugs for fuckin’ ages.” The main thrust of media interest concerns the band’s forthcoming ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills ‘N’ Bellyaches’ 25th Anniversary UK Tour, which sees the album line-up revisiting their breakthrough LP in its entirety. “The thing is that we’re always doing Mondays gigs,” asserts Shaun: “We just got back from Hong Kong, China and Tokyo – I’ve never stopped doing Mondays gigs. It’s great doing the ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills’ album, that’s going to be brilliant. The last tour we did like this was the ‘Bummed’ tour about
eighteen months ago, that was great. I don’t like going out on massive tours. When I do shows now, even if I’m in London, I just get a driver and he brings me home. I don’t do the hotel thing, I don’t do the tour bus, so anywhere in the UK, unless we’ve got a show in Exeter and then Cornwall, then I’d stay over – but usually I come straight back. I just like doing the festivals and shows, and stick away from big, gruelling tours. That was bad enough for me last week – I flew into Tokyo, went and did Fuji Rock – that was about a six hour drive from Tokyo. Did that, got a couple of hours then went back to the airport, flew into Beijing, did a ten hour drive into China, did the show, got about two hours kip, got back to Beijing, flew to Hong Kong, did the show, and then got back on the plane. Now that to me is a fuckin’ young man’s watch. I’ll do short ones like that, but only every now and then. “We’re only doing the album, but obviously we’re going to stick a couple of encores in of other stuff,” explains Shaun when asked about the Anniversary Tour setlists. “There’s certain things that we can’t do in the exact same order, because it can be quite difficult to set up, but we are keeping it as near to how it runs on the album as possible.” Footage from gigs shot at British festivals earlier in the summer depict band and audience feeding off the mutual sense of joyous abandon. The passage of time brings inevitable change but with the Mondays, it seems evident that age and wisdom has not dimmed their appetite for a good time. “It’s great now. I mean, honestly – I’m not just saying that because I’ve gotta sell it – I’m enjoying it more now than ever,” insists Ryder: “The sex and drugs has gone, so it’s just about the rock ‘n’ roll – we’re just a bunch of old farts that really enjoy just going out and playing. The partying’s gone, which is fuckin’ great – I mean it’s great partying when you’re a young kid, don’t get me wrong – but at this stage of life all of us just really enjoy and appreciate the shows. “Back in the day, we didn’t really appreciate what we had because we were on the treadmill. So you don’t really appreciate it when you’ve just done a great album – I hadn’t listened to ‘Bummed’ since the day we got out of the studio in ’88, and then when we had to tour it a couple of years
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“The sex and drugs has gone, so it’s just about the rock ‘n’ roll. We’re just a bunch of old farts that really enjoy just going out and playing.”
ago, I listened to it and thought ‘Fucking hell, pat yourself on the back – you did a good album there.’ When you’re on the treadmill, you just don’t appreciate it. And now, you’re playing all these tracks and you’re thinking, ‘Well fuck me, these have stood the test of time – they’re great.’ I wish we’d had that confidence in us when we was making it. We knew we had something with ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills’ and ‘Bummed’, but we didn’t go ‘Wow, we’re fucking brilliant’, we were more, ‘Yeah, we’re alright’. You look back at it now and you think, ‘Fucking hell, we did some good work.’ We were never that dead confident about ourselves, and we
should have been, that just comes with age I suppose. “It’s like a marriage without sex. It’s the same with all of us, we’ve been together since we were kids. Gaz was fifteen, he was still at school, I was eighteen, we’ve been together for such a fucking long time. We were all pretty dysfunctional, fucked up kids – if we were at school today each one of us would have a label, and we’ve just stick it out. In the Mondays, a lot of the time, it’s been a labour of love, you just keep going at it and doing it. Now, because all of us have got rid of our bullshit, we’re really enjoying it.”
lthough many bands are idolised by their fanbases, the warmth that is evident flowing from dancefloor to stage at Mondays shows is palpable. In addition to digging the groove, it is evident from recent appearances that the group’s personnel have generated genuine and enduring affection from their public. “Well, obviously we’ve been a big part of their lives now,” answers Shaun in response to an enquiry about why he thinks the band are the subjects of such warmth. “I was really surprised to learn that our biggest fanbase is Guardian readers. If you’d have asked me, I’d have said Sun readers! I mean,
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HAPPY MONDAYS Guardian readers – all of our fans have been to university and now they’re all dentists or lawyers. Obviously it takes them back to their fantastic, carefree days at university, or just being young, partying and getting of your face. Then we’ve got loads of new fans as well, I look out into the audience and we’ve got fifteen year-olds up to sixty-odd yearolds. We’ve got a really brilliant across-theboard thing. A lot of that has got to do with mine and Bez’s reality TV, where we’ve picked up shitloads of people who’d not even heard of us, or maybe just heard the name but didn’t have a clue about it – So we’ve picked up a lot of new fans off that.” This dynamic is set to be extended – After Shaun’s ‘I’m A Celebrity’ exploits and Bez’s smiling subversion of ‘Big Brother’, the group are about to return to the reality arena en masse to take part in ‘Singing In The Rainforest’. The show, which also features the likes of presenter and model Mylene Klass, finds the band living among the Panamanian Embera Drua tribe. “The lot of us lived together in one hut. I don’t think we’d ever been that close. Apart from one argument with me and my brother, that was it, we all got on like a house on fire,” explains Shaun: “What we did was we went there and lived in the Amazon jungle, then we made a track – because they was a bunch of percussion playing natives. We made this tune with them, which when this show airs, you can download it on the night and all the proceeds go to the tribe, so it keeps them being able to carry on living their way of life.” The band’s rainforest sojourn ties in with the anniversary theme, by extending a relationship with the mainstream media that kicked into high gear with the release of ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills ‘N’ Bellyaches’ in November 1990. Perhaps the last great cultural broadside launched from Factory Records, the album came wrapped in a Warholesque Central Station Design sleeve that echoes the post-modern significance of the music within. “With ‘Bummed’ we were still sort of the darlings of the NME and the indie scene,” recalls Shaun: “Then, with ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills’, we went over to the red top mainstream newspapers, when you’ve got people sneaking you beers and all that kind of thing. Again, we played it, we really did play the press game and understood it and all that, but that was the big difference. You’re just in it and you deal with it. Obviously, the way I dealt with stuff was to shove shitloads more drugs down my neck. “It was a great time, we lived in Oakwood
I put a plug on once and ended up on the apartments with all the porno stars and that other side of the fucking room. All I did was quite funny and wacky,” remembers at school was make Shaun when asked to up mad poems about look back upon the people, I was the class making of the album. clown. We didn’t have “We bumped into Chris labels when we was kids Quentin who used to be – there was no special in ‘Coronation Street’, needs, or ADHD, it was that was weird. We had a just somebody who blast there. Again, it was fucked about and caused a bit of a party. It was trouble. I had a couple our first time properly in of learning difficulties, LA – we’d been before which now would be but it was in and out. picked up on – Then, you We lived there for three Shane Meadows and was just ‘difficult’. months or something, so “I was always around we got to become quite the Mondays do 'This Is music,” he adds: “I was LA. I was seven or eight England' brought up with the when the sixties ended, f you’ve not been living under a rock you might have noticed that Shane Meadows’ Beatles, Stones, Doors, and I can remember the latest instalment of ‘This Is England’ has there was instruments in sixties better than the hit the television. Focusing around Lol (Vicky our house – My dad had nineties.” McClure), Woody (Joe Gilgun) and Shaun’s keyboards and banjos, a (Thomas Turgoose) immersion into the Madbit like ‘The Royle Family’ s 1990 chester scene, the likes of the Charlatans, on the telly. There was ended Stone Roses (Meadows also directed ‘Made always music on, and with the Of Stone’ which, funnily enough, caused a for my early birthday Mondays delay to the release of ‘This Is England’) presents I can remember at the eye and the Mondays feature heavily in ‘This my dad getting me the of a pop-cultural storm, Is England ‘90’ amidst Italia 90, Thatcher resigning and much more. Talking to BBC Stones albums and ‘The the dynamic that drove Radio 4, Meadows said: People have fallen Beatles For Sale’ – given those fierce gales owed in love with the characters over the series,” to me, but obviously much to the group’s adding: “Separately we’re all potty, but for him. What got me right place/right time together we seem to work”. going ‘Hey, I want to do splicing of rock ‘n’ roll that’, was when I went to dance music. “That to watch David Essex in basically came from life,” ‘That’ll Be The Day’ and ‘Stardust’. I watched explains Ryder. “It came through what we that and went, ‘You know what? I want a bit grew up with as kids. Everything was going of that – the booze, the birds and the pills, on when I was an eleven year-old kid; we had but I don’t wanna die of a drug overdose’ northern soul going on, as well as Bowie, as and that’s what really got me wanting to be well as Mud and Sweet and all the glam rock in rock ‘n’ roll. Those films, even though they stuff. Sticking the radio on in the sixties and were made in 1973 and 1975, I still think seventies was just a blast. I still think that all they hold up today better than any of the the classic songs come from the sixties and modern day movies about the rock business.” the seventies, I don’t know whether that’s Back in the modern world, Shaun sees the because it’s my era. It’s what I did with music, anniversary shows as being the springboard because we were sort of young and naive, ‘I’ll for further Mondays manoeuvres next year. have that David Essex line, yeah!’ Now, if we “There’s definitely going to be another started again, I don’t think I’d be ripping lines out of ‘Daytripper’ and David Essex. You name Mondays album. We’ve been saying we’re doing one and there’s definitely one going to it, I’d have it. We’d probably be more cautious happen now. McGee wants it, we’re all game now, but then – with the naivety of it – I just for it, so we’ll do it. I’m doing the Black did it.” Grape album first as it’s just me and Kermit However, the irresistible, melon-twisting and some session guys. The Mondays, we’ve nature of Shaun’s whirlpool lyrics owed more all got a say in it, so Black Grape’s going to to his natural fecundity for language than initially be easier to do and quicker, but we it did to his well-developed eye for cultural are definitely doing a Mondays album.” appropriation. “I was shit at everything else! Today however, he’s being asked to look over his shoulder. I asked him what he’d say his younger self given that twenty five years’ worth of water has now passed under any number of burning bridges. “If I could do that, I’d probably just observe myself. He just wouldn’t have listened. Maybe I’d just say, ‘You know what kid – just chill out, because everything will turn out okay.”
STEP ON I
“We are definitely doing a Mondays album.”
The Happy Mondays tour the UK in November
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Uncompromising and unfiltered, SLEAFORD MODS have been a fresh breath of air in recent years, their unrelenting post-punk aggro sound as bracing as it is bizarrely beautiful. With latest album ‘Key Markets’ mounting a genuine assault on mainstream culture, Paula Frost sat down with vocalist Jason Williamson to talk feuds, family time and the prospect of a revolution. You’ve just hit a media frenzy over your recent performance at Glastonbury, but how was the Glastonbury ‘experience’ for you? “I didn’t enjoy it but the promotion we got from it was brilliant. We played well but I didn’t really enjoy the performance. It was weird because it’s Glastonbury, we were being filmed, I was nervous about that. I didn’t want people to write us off if we were crap because I don’t think we are. But it worked out! It was totally different, I don’t mind big stages but it’s the fact it was out on TV and we knew it would be big exposure. The fact we were a lot of people’s highlight of the festival was brilliant. I avoided everyone backstage because I didn’t want to fall out with anybody so I stayed with my family.”
Speaking of falling out with people, what happened between you and Slaves?
PHOTOS: DUNCAN STAFFORD
“I don’t like them. People think we’ve fallen out but I genuinely don’t know them. I don’t like their music and I don’t appreciate anything about it. There’s numerous bands we don’t like. I’m not going to sit there and just be polite, what’s the point? That encourages them! We’ve got our own release and that’s that.”
Give us some info on ‘Key Markets’. “It’s a good album. It’s the best so far. It’s our fifth album release with Andrew (Fearn, music). There was ‘Wank’, ‘Austerity Dogs’, ‘Divide and Exit’, then we did ‘Chubbed Up: The Singles Collection’ and then this one makes it five. But it’s a bit more mature, more song structure,
it’s a bit more polished but in a good way. The method of approaching it didn’t really differ greatly but it’s a great album and it’s moved on naturally. To be honest I think ‘Key Markets’ is the album of the year.”
approach that we have, the psychology behind it of having no limitations and just doing it because we love it. People have lost touch with that, especially in contemporary music. It’s just bollocks, absolute pap.”
What did you want to achieve with it? “It’s really got something about it and I want it to be some kind of a benchmark to... get bands thinking perhaps. I just want it to inspire people to be more original and to break away and reach out of this fucking mould, this stereotypical
“We have no limitations and just do it because we love it. People have lost touch with that, especially in contemporary music. It’s just bollocks, absolute pap.” Jason Williamson behaviour. Do something that means something and says something rather then treading the same old path. I’d like it to be known as an album that did that. Either way its going to sort us out - I probably won’t have to get back to work for another couple of years, fingers crossed. I just hope the public take to it. I think they will, the ones that like us will anyway, definitely. I’m really proud of it, it’s a good album. The mentality is different in the
‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’: what is that about? I just can’t work it out! “It’s just about touring really and being in a car with three other people and everyone stinks. It’s just a little bit abstract and a light hearted subject matter really. Observations of each city you go to...”
You’ve been on tour constantly over the past year. How do you make time for family? “We have struggled and it’s going to be a lot different this year. There’s going to be a lot more gaps in between gigs. We’d like to ease back a bit. We’ve put the hard work in and hopefully this album will cement the reputation for a good couple of years so we can afford to sit back a little bit.”
You’ve been gigging with Steve Ignorant of Crass and you’re signed to a punk record label. I love the fact a lot of your releases have been packaged with a very DIY fanzineesque approach. How do Sleaford Mods tie in with punk? “It’s the attitude of putting two fingers up and not worrying about it being pretty and packaged, not worrying about getting signed to a big label, not worrying about having money there to promote it. All that’s a load of bollocks. The music travels and it takes care of itself if it’s good.
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“I just want to inspire people to be more original and to break away and reach out of this fucking mould, this stereotypical behaviour. Do something that means something and says something.” 36
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You get a lot of bands who rely on promotion and a lot of money behind them. Some bands come across as being quite big when really they’re only selling about twenty five records a week. Promotion can make a band look like it’s successful and big. That’s what pulls people in. If someone thinks they can relate to an artist or something about them, they generally go out and buy the record. It’s an inquisitive thing. That’s what record labels do, they pick up a band and make them look really big and important when in actual fact they’re selling fuck all. We did it the proper way: organically.”
Did you get on with Steve Ignorant? “Yeah he’s a nice bloke. You just wouldn’t think in a million years that he is this important figure in music because he just downplays himself and he’s such a modest bloke. Obviously he is proud of what he’s done and he will stick up for that. Generally he’s just a bloke like anyone - you can sit and have a normal chat with him. He is what most musicians want to be but they become disconnected. Steve Ignorant never has. It is true what Crass said, ‘You can’t preach change from a swimming pool’. You can’t. You’ve got to say ‘No, I’m not going to do that’.”
Are actual physical records, such as vinyl, important to Sleaford Mods? “Any format is important because the music is important. I don’t give a shit about vinyl - I’ve got loads of it and never play the fucking stuff! The format is unimportant - it’s the music - so we release it on all formats, downloads, CDs and records. It just so happens at the minute, we started coming up in the ranks as vinyl started having a little renaissance. It doesn’t cost anything to throw in a couple of posters or use colour vinyl and it makes a difference to the people you’re selling to. If your momentum is building people are willing to help you out and we’re getting a fan base coming to gigs because it’s interesting music that’s saying something. Those kinds of people want to help you out and we want to give them something for their money as well.”
SLEAFORD DISCOGS Chub up your record collection with the Mods’ long-players
You’ve said before that politics is pointless. What would you like to see change?
“Probably the end of it. I think civilisation has got to change but I don’t think it will at the minute. It’s not looking good. We’re fucked really. I’m not going to make out that something can save the day when I don’t think it can. I just think we’re fucked, simple as that. You’ve just got to try and maintain yourself in a good way rather than running after money.”
What do you think of Russell Brand’s ideas of revolution?
“We’ve had countless revolutions. A revolution is just a valid dictatorship in a way. So no, I don’t really believe in them. I mean obviously it would be nice to get the Tories out and it would be nice to see some of these rich people reduced to the type of people they are persecuting but I can’t see that happening to be honest.”
(A52 Sounds) 2007
(A52 Sounds) 2007
(A52 Sounds) 2009
(Deadly Beefburger) 2011 ‘WANK’
(Deadly Beefburger) 2012 ‘AUSTERITY DOGS’
(Harbinger Sound) 2013 ‘DIVIDE & EXIT’
(Harbinger Sound) 2014
‘CHUBBED UP +’
Recently The Sun leaked footage of The Queen doing a Nazi salute. What did you think of that? “I don’t know. Fucking hell. It doesn’t bother me or surprise me that it’s kind of a whitewash because there are British bombs going off in Syria and it’s a smokescreen for that crap. It’s winding people up but so what. The Sun is one of the biggest right wing papers in the country. I really don’t understand it so it’s just bullshit.”
What do you think about The Libertines reform? “It’s a fine line. You can carry on forever if you’ve got the right single. I haven’t heard their new song but I’ve heard it’s bad. Some artists can do it. Pete Doherty has obviously gone through a massive trauma and that really does fuck your abilities for a long time. You see it with a lot of bands. Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie when he went sober, the work after that was just so changed and quite ineffective. When people give up drugs it causes massive disruptions with the creativity I think and probably The Libertines’ new stuff has suffered from that. I’ve not heard it yet though so I’ll reserve judgment.”
Have Sleaford Mods experienced anything like that causing creativity drops? ‘KEY MARKETS’
(Harbinger Sound) 2015
“Yeah, I’ve had issues with all of that and Andrew has. A lot of people I know have and it can really dampen the day so to speak and send you off on a course that isn’t the natural way you should be going. It can be a double edged sword.
Has your crowd changed since being featured in the likes of The Guardian?
So you’re off for six weeks and then on tour in September. What have you got planned?
“No, we had a crowd like that anyway. It’s quite an intellectual crowd. It started off with middle-aged blokes coming down, taking it in, listening to it and absorbing it and getting their heads around it. Any press is good press really. I’m not going to do an interview for The Guardian because it’s not a very nice paper. The same as most of them it’s tightly controlled by very rich people. But they’ve reviewed the album, which I don’t have a problem with.”
“We’ve got a full tour all over England, Wales and Scotland. Then we’re going over to Germany and we’re going to have Christmas off and then see what happens next year. Hopefully it will come off for us, fingers crossed.” ‘Key Markets’ is out now on Harbinger Sound Sleaford Mods tour the UK in September and October
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Currently starting work on their sophomore album, the summer has seen Edinburgh duo HONEYBLOOD winning over festival crowds with their sublime noise. James Sharples found out more.
like music that’s brutal and honest and sounds good, with massive riffs and catchy pop hooks,” states Honeyblood vocalist/guitarist Stina Tweeddale, sipping a Heineken next to drumming compatriot Cat Myers after an incandescent set at Kendal Calling; a set that literally had the crowd crying out for more, with the duo vocally encouraged to play past their curfew time (“We did an encore at a festival! That never happens!” laughs Cat). And it was warranted. Part Breeders and part Mary Chain, the duo’s lo-fi scuzz pop takes on a new energy in a live setting, the emotive pulse that runs through their recorded output (such as on last year’s self-titled debut album )pushed to the fore, snarling and passionate. Wrenching all manner of shronking lines from her six-string, Stina’s purring vocals create the perfect contrast between jarring sonic shocks and soothing melodies. At the back, Cat pounds on her kit like it owes her money. Explaining that her “favourite thing about music is drums, drums, drums and more drums. All of the drums!”, she goes on to add that “the best thing about drums is just being able to go absolutely mental and have it be socially acceptable to go absolutely crazy and have nobody bat an eyelid. If you did that in any other place you’d probably get taken away by someone. Onstage you can just lose your shit and everything’s cool.”
With a confidence and a coolness at odds with their relative short existence, Honeyblood “started about three years ago with me just writing tunes and thinking that I should maybe play some gigs,” remembers Stina: “Cat joined the band about a year ago and is actually the longest serving Honeyblood drummer, which is an honour...” “Do I get a certificate?” asks Cat, joking but not really joking. Talk turns to the future, with the duo clearly excited to be recording together for the first time (Cat didn’t play on 2014’s ‘Honeyblood’). “Recording the [debut] album was very much a case of ‘see how it goes’,” says Stina: “When you first do anything like that it’s a bit daunting and especially when you do it in a different country and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to do it, which is pretty much what happened – we only had ten days in the States to record it. We did it, and it was good, I think. Once it was done it was kind of like a whirlwind, like ‘Oh, there it is, we did a record’, but it was a good experience. I’m so glad it turned out alright! “We have actually started recording our second album now, which we’re doing in a completely different way. We’re kind of going to space it out over a longer period of time and obviously Cat’s going to be playing drums on this one, which is exciting. It’s going to be good!” With the critical acclaim that ‘Honeyblood’ garnered, are the duo feeling the pinch of pressure to surpass it? “For me, writing songs and recording, there’s no pressure except for the pressure I put on myself,” says Stina: “I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it because I don’t make it for anyone else. I don’t make it for anyone to listen to and tell me that they don’t think it’s good. I like it when people tell me that it is good as that’s kind of nice, but that’s not why I write the songs and record them. In a way, being a recording artist is a very selfish thing because you do it for yourself but you can only be true to yourself if you do it that way.” With “serious recording work” planned for later this year, expect to be hearing a lot more from Honeyblood. ‘Honeyblood’ is out now on Fatcat Records
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PHOTO: MARK LATHAM
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Currently readying up to play their biggest tour to date (including a headline show at the legendary Brixton Academy), PaulA Frost chats to SLAVES vocalist/drummer Isaac Holman about the success of debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ and what the future might hold... You’ve been busy Isaac! “Yeah very busy - flat out! We’ve got a week off now and then we’re off to Japan, which will be pretty crazy.”
When you guys played Margate you ended up at a boot fair with a pink umbrella at 5am. Did you buy anything nice? “Oh yeah! Fuckin’ hell yeah! I actually got a wash bag that was covered in dog faces for 20p and I still use it every time we go on tour now.”
A couple of years ago your rider had a bottle of Jack Daniels on it. What are the main things on your rider now? “I always ask for a toy car because my drum mat is a kid’s car mat so I like to get a little toy car on that. I ask for loads of water because I don’t tend to drink that much on the road so I want water and green tea.”
So how long before you go full Michael Jackson and ask for a monkey? “(Laughs) We wont be making any silly demands any time soon as long as we have a bit of food and a bit of drink.”
Are you surrounded by the same crew as you were when you began and is that important to you? “Ben Robinson’s been there from the start, he put on our first ever gig. He used to be our tour manager; he’s now our stage manager. We’ve got a new tour manager and I think our crew is just bigger now, we’ve got our own light man and sound man that we tour with but the bones of it are still the same: me, Laurie (Vincent, guitar/ vocals) and Ben. That is definitely important to me, you’ve always got to remember where you came from and people who have been there from the start should be there till the end.”
Do you get to play any gigs off of the mainstream circuit now you’re signed to a bigger label? “We’ve been talking about trying to do a tour where we just go to all the towns no one really goes to. It would be wicked to get back to Margate. I think it’s really important to hit places that are not necessarily key towns because everywhere deserves a gig.”
With your face on the cover of major magazines and newspapers alongside your top ten hit of your debut album, does the success ever go to your head? “No. I don’t think that will ever really happen to us. The road to where we are was gradual and if you’re surrounded by good friends and good families with good values, I don’t think we’ll ever
get ahead of ourselves. Its always really important to remember where you come from. Everything is half luck. Obviously you make your own success if you work hard but if we weren’t in the right place at the right time for a few moments everything could have gone so wrong as well. You’ve just got to really appreciate the position you’re in.”
What was that moment? “When we first started getting a bit of attention was when we played Reading and Leeds for the first time on the BBC Introducing stage. There was a few of the right people watching then. We got ourselves an agent then and there were some good promoters there too. The ball really started rolling from there and that was about two years ago now.”
Your EP was called ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ and the new album ends with a song of the same name. How come
that song wasn’t on the EP? “We wrote the song ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ around the same time we wrote the first EP. We liked the phrase so names the EP and a song it. Now we’ve put that song on the end of the new album because if people actually look into it, it kind of leads you back to the first EP where it all started and I like references like that.”
Your lyrics view the world in an objective way that provokes the listener to question the way they live, especially ‘Live Like An Animal’ and ‘Cheer Up London’. Did you always feel a contrast to the way society is structured? “Yes. I have always felt disjointed from it all and felt like I’ve been viewing it form an outsider’s perspective and that’s how I write, it’s all quite observational. It’s almost like a social documentation. I’m quite fascinated by the
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SLAVES anxious living in a flat in London and I had a really loud neighbour below me called Tim. I’ve never even met him but he was so fucking loud, always arguing with his girlfriend and slamming doors and I was just sitting there, pissed off at this decision I’d made to move into this flat. So the verses are quite serious and aggressive. We were in the studio writing it and we were playing the beat. I’d already recorded the verse and we were just talking about manta rays for some reason, I have no idea why! I don’t know where it came from and then just started singing ‘feed the manta ray’ over the beat and we were like ‘Fuck it, shall we just put it in?’ (laughs) I thought I’d leave it for anyone to make their own meaning out of. It’s pretty random but that’s what I like, because you can write songs which are really serious with a real subject matter but then there’s also no rules and you can just put anything into a song – it doesn’t matter.”
How many years have you and Laurie known each other and do you ever fight? “We’ve know each other probably about eight months before Slaves started. We became mates because he used to come and watch my old band and we got chatting. He said ‘If you ever need a bassist, hit me up.’ We got rid of our bassist so I called Laurie and he joined that band. Then we wrote a few songs with the band and Laurie but both of us weren’t really happy in that band and we realised we were driving it all, writing the songs and we had the most chemistry so when that band broke up we just decided to start something new and that was when Slaves started. We definitely have arguments but it’s brotherly. We have to get along because if we don’t it jeopardises everything. If we have little arguments we walk away from each other and within five minutes we’ve got our arms around each other again. We’ve got a very good relationship, me and Laurie. You’ve got no choice, you’ve got to get on and I love him very much.”
What was Jools Holland like and did you get on with U2?
world but people frustrate me and the world frustrates me – I’m just writing about it.”
Have you ever done a 9 to 5 job? “Yeah, we both have. It’s not like we’ve never worked those jobs and struggled ourselves. We’ve both worked shit jobs we didn’t want to do and that was around the time you last saw us that we were still working jobs and trying to squeeze in gigs. It was quite frustrating but everything is in contrast as well because there are certain people who can’t get jobs and to them a 9 to 5 would be brilliant.”
“I’m quite fascinated by the world but people frustrate me” Isaac Holman
Your album ends with “Do you ever feel you’re being cheated”, which is the same line that ended the Sex Pistols’ final show in America before they split. Is there an influence there?
What is ‘Feed The Mantaray’ about?
“Yes I think so. That was one of Laurie’s lines. I think that was a bit of a reference to be honest.
“(Laughs) Everyone asks that! I was in a bad way at the time and I was a bit depressed and
Good words. I don’t think it’s wrong to copy words. I watch films and take things word for word sometimes. There’s no shame in that.”
“The thing with Bono... This was the first thing we did that went a bit viral but it wasn’t meant to be! We’d just played and I was in the smoking area and as I walked back in I accidentally blocked Bono’s way in the hallway and so he had no choice but to talk to me! He said ‘You were great in there mate’ and without thinking I said ‘Oh cheers mate, U2’. Then our stage manager started laughing his head off and when I realised what I’d said I knew I was never going to beat that moment again in my life. Bono just walked off.”
Where do Slaves go from here? “I literally have no idea. I don’t know what we’ll be doing in six months. We’ll just keep doing what we feel is right because we didn’t expect it to even get half as far as it has. We want to just keep appreciating the position we’re in and see how far we can take it. We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain so let’s just keep going and keep having fun. When we don’t enjoy it anymore that’s when we’ll stop doing it. We’re just going with it and we’ll see what happens.” ‘Are You Satisfied?’ is out now on Virgin/EMI Slaves tour the UK in November/December
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For over 4 years, East London’s live music scene has been dominated by the ludicrously loud shows put on by FLUFFER RECORDS. Their bold ideas, and equally bold aesthetic provided by celebrated illustrator Russell Taysom, has seen them go from putting on the earliest gigs by the likes of Slaves and God Damn to promoting ambitious three-day parties, street gigs and releasing brand new vinyl. We caught up with Al Brown, Mike Dawson and Carrie Murray, the founding members of London’s most innovative DIY label.
“I’m quite fascinated by the world but people frustrate me” Isaac Holman
THE FLUFFER RECORDS CREW
L met Mike while attending Lancaster university together, though Carrie didn’t join the fold until she was found asleep under his desk and, as he’ll tell you, they’ve been friends ever since. Brought together by shared love of raw garage rock and ambition to create something new, their collaboration quickly gained momentum. Early shows were held at Dalston’s infamous basement venue, Powerlunches, which played host to some of the earliest appearances by God Damn and Slaves, both now breakaway success stories of their own. “Hats off to ‘em and good luck to ‘em,” says Al: “They’re both great bands and nice guys. We’re big fans and it’s nice to see them getting the recognition they deserve. Slaves actually played our label launch night back in the day and we thought we should sign these guys then and there but I think we hesitated ‘cause we were so fresh around the chops with it all back then. You live and learn! We never leave the house without a blank contract in our back pockets now. We just keep forgetting the pen.” Of course, the first release by Fluffer Records required no contract. Al’s own band Love Buzzard have always been at the heart of the label,
mutually beneficial to each other, and in 2013 they released their first record, the 7” single ‘Caught in the Deed’. When asked what their highlights were of those early days; “Every band was class. Everyone who has played for us has laid it down on stage. Highlights? The first Christmas party was pretty funny when a guy dressed as Santa Claus set off a football terrace smoke flare in the basement… The whole building got evacuated. During the Love
Buzzard set as well. We thought the bass amp was on fire but then realised we didn’t have a bassist! The Cerebral Ballzy night was pretty mad too. They incited a riot and the whole place got ripped to pieces. I jumped on two lads who were trying to pull a cable off the wall and Mike was holding up the PA system... The air conditioning unit never lived to tell the tale though.” It wasn’t long before the sheer noise attracted attention and Fluffer Records moved on to larger
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venues. With larger crowds feeding their ambition, the three would go on to host two massive summer festivals, the first of which, held at the Dalston Victoria, featured the likes of Skinny Girl Diet and Puffer. Flufferfest 2015, held at The Shacklewell Arms, was a huge three-day event, with almost forty bands, a host of different DJs, original artwork prizes and their own menu featuring a spicy ‘Fluffer Dog’. “The drive behind these events was mainly for
a laugh. And it was. Then it started growing and before we knew it we were Time Out London’s critics festival choice of the month and we’re like ‘Fuck! This shit’s getting serious!’ It felt like Wayne’s World 3. All we want Flufferfest to be is one big party, in our eyes, with the best new undiscovered bands playing from not just London but around the UK. This is really important to us, that’s it’s not just London bands. This ain’t no scenester party, and if people are into that
then cool. Good vibes were aplenty and every set absolute killer. The best thing being that a lot of people stayed for the whole weekend including the bands, which really made for a real community atmosphere. And that’s what we want.” More recently Love Buzzard have found success moving on to sign with visceral London label 1-23-4 Records for the release of their debut album, at the same time Fluffer signed their first new band – Sewer Rats. “We first came across them playing in a pub in Sheffield. Never seen energy like it and they were pretty out of control. They spray painted ‘Sewer Rats’ over the whole pub. So we invited them down to Flufferfest 2014 to play. They smashed out three sets in two days (although they were only down for one) and again the energy they played with was off the scale, playing like their lives depended on it. So we went up to Grimsby to listen to them in a disused fish factory and signed them straight after. On the fishing crates in the dock. It fucking stank. They’ve just been described as Motorhead modernised and reinvigorated for a new generation and I’d kind of agree with that. Exciting times for them and the label and the whole of the UK. Gonna punch ‘em through the crowds.” And now? What’s next for Fluffer Records? “Sewer Rats will be writing and playing live a lot over the next few months… Looking forward to a debut album that will blow everyone’s minds. We’ve got our eye on a lot of bands. We’ve spent most of the last week listening to bands that have sent in demos, trawling through festival line-ups listening to people, nipping down to gigs, chasing leads. We’re also going to be putting on a lot more nights with bands from around the country. We actually fancy going more DIY, getting our hands on an old PA system and start putting on gigs in fields and car parks. Who knows?! Flufferfest 2016 is gonna be a beast too. We’re definitely growing it for next year but we still want to retain the same house party feel…”
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Live shots: Keira Cullinane
epare ith as the band pr Sm ul Pa n a tm on MAXÏMO PARK fr igger’ to talk about their return, the PaulA Frost meets Tr ears of ‘A Certain e’ and his solo work. to celebrate ten y ord ‘indi definition of the w
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MAXIMO PARK APPLY SOME PRESSURE
MAXÏMO VS. SOLO
“It’s a big time management issue but it’s a good issue to have. Variety is the spice of life and if you do one thing enough, you get sick of it. One of our songs, ‘Girls Who Play Guitar’, is about that funnily enough. The path of excess leads to boredom. You can have too many nights out and forget what it’s like to be at home, be peaceful and read a book. On a simple level, variety is something I look for and I’m lucky to be able to do two different things because some people become stifled in their own bands. For us we’ve realised that the more we do outside of the band, coming back as a group reenergises us, we come back with new ideas and we don’t get sick of it. When I put my first solo album out in 2010, I could sense that eventually Maxïmo Park playing the same songs over and over again would get boring and tiring so rather than that I decided to record some new and different songs and go on tour with new people. You end up writing new songs on the tour bus, trying new stuff in sound checks and I realised that I was enjoying making new music THIS CHARMING MAN with these new people so we called it The “When I was growing up I loved The Inflammations and made a record but it Smiths. They were my favourite band took four years because Maxïmo Park takes when I was fourteen and through them up so much time and we were touring I ended up listening to Joy Division and Paul’s current around the world. But in the mean time listened to more bands by looking at playlist... I spent weekends catching the train up their influences. The idea that Morrissey to Manchester and recording guitar solos, took bits of literature and put them into “I buy records every backing vocals and piecing the new record his lyrics ends up being something that week and right now I’m with The Inflammations together over you feel influenced by and think it’s listening to Sleaford Mods’ time. I just had to find a way to manage it something that you can do whereas if ‘Key Markets’, Slow Dive and I’m lucky enough the rest of the guys you only listened to Oasis you wouldn’t and Holly Herndon. This don’t mind me doing my own thing and do that and you might view it as morning I was listening they have their own projects. pretentious. The things you grow up to The Tindersticks who I It’s good to collaborate with other people with have an effect on your life and for absolutely loved growing and keep your options open. It doesn’t me The Smiths were one of the leading up.” mean you cant do two things at once, lights of indie music. On my new solo although it is quite tight now that I realise album (Paul Smith & The Imitations’ I’ve got to write some new Maxïmo Park ‘Contradictions’) the music is jingly songs but I’m going on tour with The Inflammations as jangly and it has chiming guitar. It’s also influenced by well! I’ll fit it all in but it’s a nice problem to have!.” bands like The Go Betweens, an Australian band from the ‘80s and The Lemonheads - when I was growing THE FUTURE up I absolutely loved their album ‘It’s a Shame About “In an ideal world we (Maxïmo Park) would have Ray’. The guitar was jangly, grungy and the vocals were dreamy with lots of harmonies. My new record features something out next year. But obviously we’ve got other things on and we’ve got the 10th anniversary shows Wendy Smith from Prefab Sprout. I absolutely love as well so it will be tricky. But it can be done. It just their early stuff which was on Kitchenware Records. I depends if we can get our heads together on the tour suppose they became more of a glossy pop band but bus in November and December. We’ve already started their early stuff defined the word ‘indie’ and it had a writing and I think we can start writing a few extra different quality to it than mainstream music. Even songs soon. The key is to write as many songs as you now that sort of stuff still influences me.” possibly can and then you’ve got songs to pick from and you can choose the cream of the crop. I just want INDIE DEFINED to keep making good music and make music that’s “I’m aware that people have to try and describe important to me and to the other guys in the band and your sound so I never get too upset by the way we’re keep evolving and trying new things. Otherwise you’re described. Independent music is where the word ‘indie’ came from so definitely something I associate with and giving people the same thing over and over again which I don’t want to do, but it’s nice to try and stay true to we were on an independent label (Warp Records) when the things you do well and work from the core ideals we started and we felt independent to a lot of other you’ve got. I love making music and I don’t want to do bands. We always felt our sound was different from anything else really so I just keep trying to make good other peoples. Indie has come to mean ‘safe guitar music and each record to me is just another record – I music’, which we don’t allow ourselves to become. Its don’t prioritise Maxïmo Park or my solo stuff. I just become a byword for boring music and it’s funny how want to keep making records that I’m proud of.” the word has changed over the years. I suppose it’s because a lot of the bands shifted from indie labels to majors and as a result its all about selling records, commerce and not necessarily about the music and the ‘Contradictions’ is out now on Billinham Records feelings that go into music in the first place. ” Maxïmo Park tour the UK in November “It feels good! It’s nice to know that people are still looking out for us and they are excited by another tour after ten years. We’ve just come off the back of a top ten record so the tour is selling really well which gives you a warmth inside to know that people care about your music. As it’s the 10th anniversary we’re going to play quite a few singles and rarities so I think there will be quite a few parts of the crowd going crazy for some of the old B sides we haven’t played in a long time. But at the end of the show we’re going to play our first album ‘A Certain Trigger’ in full. We haven’t done that since we made the first album. We did it live at Brixton Academy as one of the last shows we did for that record and we played it in order and we wanted to do it again as a bit of a laugh and a celebration of ten years and still being here. Something like ‘Apply Some Pressure’ always goes down really well.”
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Louise Brown chats to SUB POP vice president Megan Jasper about how the label that launched the likes of Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Nirvana continues to blaze a trail of independence and individuality.
Is there an ethos or manifesto behind Sub Pop that exists still from those late-’80s early days?
Bruce. JP desperately wanted to work with Soundgarden and, in an effort to do so, talked Bruce into turning Sub Pop into starting a record label. Jonathan had a little bit of money that was supposed to go towards school and used it to press a 7”. He became buddies with Soundgarden and a label was born!”
It’s a tale you’ve told a thousand times, but for our readers, could you briefly tell us about the birth of Sub Pop? “Bruce Pavitt was writing for a local Seattle publication, The Rocket, in the 1980s. His column was called Subterranean Pop and it covered music scenes in various cities—what was happening, why it was exciting. He made a few cassettes, or mixtapes, under the name “Sub Pop”. Jonathan (Poneman) was a promoter at the time and became a huge fan of a local band, Soundgarden, who were friends with
Like many labels in the 80s (I’m thinking Metal Blade in particular), you L7 started off the back of a fanzine? How important was that underground, pre-Facebook form of communication to the scene you helped create? “It was crucial. Fanzines were the way that people marketed bands, cities and a lot of our favourite weirdos in those cities. They were the main link between music lovers and bands; the written word connected all of us. It was through a UK publication, Melody Maker, that Sub Pop really broke. JP and Bruce brought Everett True, a writer for Melody Maker, to Seattle to write a piece on the local bands and Sub Pop. It sparked huge interest and the rest is history.”
“Sub Pop has always worked to nurture artists’ creativity and careers while connecting people to music that is meaningful to them. And to have fun while we’re doing so! Both Sub Pop and Hardly Art are proud to be a part of Seattle’s vibrant music community and city.”
Do you look back on the grunge years fondly? It was the era that made you a household name but had its dark side. Was there anything about that time that, if you had a re-do, you would change? “We learned a lot of important lessons in our early years and we’re continuing to learn as we go. We wouldn’t change anything and we have more fun looking ahead than behind.”
After the grunge hype did you feel the pinch of the trend-makers turning their back on Seattle or were you happy to carry on as before the Nirvana boom? Were you perhaps secretly happy when the frenzy died down? “Although we loved the bands that we worked with, it was also exciting to move forward and to grow the label and its roster. It was during this time that we began working with Sebadoh, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Spinanes and so many more. Not all of these new bands at the time had names beginning with ‘S’.”
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SUBPOP THE POSTAL SERVICE
“We don’t really see it selling the same amount since music consumption has changed so much. We just try to make the music available in as many places and formats as possible. The more available it is to someone and the easier the music is to find, the better. We also try to make sure that the music is monetized so that we can pay our artists.”
seen as a possible “future ‘Bleach’”. You never know what’s around any corner. That’s why our jobs are so fun!”
Which records from your catalogue do you wish people would re-evaluate? Any that slipped under the radar that you think are on a level with ‘Bleach’, for example?
Which recipient of your famous ‘Dear Loser’ letter do you wish you’d signed, are there any acts that were perhaps the Beatles to your Decca? “Although we never sent out a ‘Dear Loser’ letter, we tried to sign The White Stripes. I think our offer was way too low at the time. That would have been pretty awesome…”
Is there a band, from any era, that you wish you could work with, and why? What would you have done to help launch them? “I always wish we had worked with Nick Cave. It would have been super fun to work The Birthday Party records as well as The Bad Seeds stuff. I’m not sure exactly what we would have done other than work our asses off and go to every show. He has always been one of the greats.”
Is ‘Bleach’ still your best-selling record? What could be your future ‘Bleach’? “‘Bleach’ remains our best selling album with The Postal Service’s ‘Give Up’ being a close second. Every new Sub Pop record is
“I wish that more people were turned onto the Love As Laughter records that we put out. And The Constantines. Those bands were so incredible!”
Do you have an A&R policy as such? What is it that you look for in a band that makes you want to work with them?
Do you think it’s possible that a band could reach Nirvana fever-pitch again in our lifetime? What does the music industry need to change in order to help a band reach that level of exposure? “It is always possible for bands to have success that is unfathomable. And it will definitely happen again in our lifetime. I don’t believe that changes within the music industry will make it happen any faster but I do believe that the industry will change quickly and significantly following an artist blowing up to that degree. Music makes that type of impact when the time is right and when people desperately need to hear the message or spirit that a band puts forth. It’s impossible to predict when it will happen but it always seems obvious when we look back.” For more information on Sub Pop Records,
visit Subpop.com “We typically look for artists who will be fun to work with (no jerks!) and will work hard. We don’t look for a SIDE A SIDE B particular style of music, just music that resonates with us SIDE A SIDE B for many different reasons. JP picks the his favourite The non-Sub Pop tracks There are so many bands Sub Pop tracks that influenced the label making great music but we Mudhoney You Got It (Keep It Wire - A Touching Display only have so much room so Out Of My Face) The Birthday Party - Mutiny these decisions are sometimes The Afghan Whigs - Miles Iz Ded In Heaven insanely difficult!”
Red Red Meat - Gauze
What has galvanised you as a label against the modern day difficulties in shifting the same level of units as you may have done in the ‘90s?
Zumpano - The Sylvia Hotel
Mission of Burma - Academy Fight Song
Flight Of The Conchords -
Protomartyr - Scum, Rise!
Courtney Barnett - Depreston
The Shins - Kissing the Lipless
La Luz - You Disappear
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Nottingham teens KAGOULE have made an unearthly racket on their debut full length. Rob Mair spoke with singer/lyricist Cai Burns to get the lowdown on ‘Urth’ and their signing with the predominantly heavy metal label Earache Records.
HEY [Earache] were having a picnic in a park, and we were playing around near them, doing some screams. They noticed how good we were at our grindcore vocals, and I think they thought they could help us reach our potential. So they signed us up then and there.” Burns is, of course joking. Or, at least I think he is. It’s difficult to tell with his wry, matter-offact delivery. He’s an entertaining and engaging subject, dropping in such flights of fancy alongside the more straightforward answers. The band – completed by bassist Lucy Hatter and drummer Laurence English – are in the van on their way to an XFM session. The signal’s a bit troublesome so Burns suggests arranging for when they stop “in about 30 minutes”. An hour later the phone rings. “Sorry,” Burns apologises: “I didn’t realise the next service station was Watford Gap. We hate Watford Gap.” When you’re travelling the highways of Great Britain, you get to know the good service stations from the bad. I can’t really complain as whenever we’ve approached Watford Gap and contemplated stopping we’ve always held on for Newport Pagnall or Northampton. Nice to know I’m with good company. It’s not always plain sailing with Kagoule, however. They’re a challenging band, sounding unlike anything out there at the moment. There’s all sorts of nods to 90s indie-rock and alt heroes, from the abrasive, don’t-give-a-fuck wigouts of Sonic Youth, or the playful pop of Pavement or the grunge-lite rock of Smashing Pumpkins, Kagoule are a kaleidoscope of noises and sounds. That they’re still teens is frankly absurd – but it only makes them more exciting at the thought of what they can achieve. Burns suggests this strong debut and identity comes from the fact they’ve already been working to this point for a
istening through ‘Urth’, you’d say there’s considerable period of time: nothing normal about Kagoule. The lyrics “We met kind of early – like, we were all are thematically dense, the group is scifourteen,” he says: “We got our heads working fi and fantasy obsessed and they have a together from the off. We all have similar tastes, really strong grasp on the visual side of and when you’ve got a group of people around you who all want to do a similar thing it’s quite the band, from artwork to videos. Indeed, the video for ‘Glue’ sees the band running around easy to have a strong idea or identity. And the East Sussex countryside like extras from that’s how we’ve looked on everything – the Game Of Thrones. It’s fun, bonkers and highly artwork, themes, the music.” entertaining. The result of this focused and productive “A lot of the music, and the artwork – even teenage years is ‘Urth’, an astonishing piece of the lyrics – is inspired my medieval fantasy kind work that belies their young age. It’s a cliché of thing, and it’s played a massive role. It’s an that you have a lifetime to write your first outside influence that has trickled into the band album and two years to write the follow-up, really. So we’ve just wanted to dress up. but Burns and his cohorts have been working “We just went to a field in Brighton, put on with some of these songs since the band’s some medieval fantasy inception. The result dress and danced around is an album that and roamed. And that’s spans the group’s all we cared about teenage years, doing. When we get explains Burns. £50,000 budgets we’re “The songwriting gonna re-enact massive come from doing it battles,” Burns laughs. I from such an early think he’s serious. age. Some of the first With the support of songs were written Earache in tow, there’s when I was fifteen, no saying they won’t and the last ones, the achieve that too. Which first time we played leads us to the most them was probably Cai Burns puzzling part of the the take that they conundrum that is were recorded. So the Kagoule. Just how did three teens with a love whole album has a really long range across it. It of sci-fi and somewhat obscure 90s alt-rock, captures pretty much our whole teenage life on end up on Earache, a label famed for noise and a record. But it was definitely a journey. grindcore? “I’d say we had relatively normal teenage lives “I think they wanted to try something new,” though. We stopped education as the band considers Burns: “We were also wary of every took off, but we haven’t done anything weird… single label in the whole world – not like in a We might be a bit odd, but I think deep down conspiracy theory/paranoia kind of way, we just everyone’s a weirdo.” weren’t sure if we really wanted to sign with anyone or what we wanted to do with it. “But Earache has put out all sorts of music that we’ve all been into in the past – we’ve all had thrash, heavy phases, so it’s not like it’s a world away. But I can take a lot of influence from the bands on it, like Fudge Tunnel. So I think it sort of makes sense when you look into it, but yeah on the face of it, it comes across as kind of odd. But that’s a good thing. “And their homepage has the most awesome metal logo gifs – it’s so much fun. In truth they’ve been really good though. We haven’t had to change anything and they’re really into supporting us through what we want to do. “And they’re in Nottingham so we can go and throw stones at their windows if they’re ignoring us. They can’t escape from us.” Terrifying…
“I think deep down everyone’s a weirdo.”
‘Urth’ is out now on Earache Records
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THE STONE ROSES
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THE STONE ROSES
HERE is a hail of green cushions flying through the air. The ancient Roman amphitheatre of Théâtre antique de Fourvière, high above the French city of Lyon, has staged many gigs in modern times but few like this. As the cushions hit the stage, film maker Shane Meadows, who is making the ‘Made Of Stone’ documentary, turns round and grins at the side stage crew of your author, Mick Jones, Eric Cantona and Pete Wylie, who grin back like lunatics. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll moment as the Stone Roses make their exit after one of the most perfect gigs of their comeback tour. It’s June 2012 and the band are on a European jaunt following their unexpected return. Having just stormed Lyon’s beautiful amphitheatre ably supported by Mick Jones and the Farm’s Justice Tonight Band (playing for the Justice for the 96 campaign) and featuring Eric Cantona singing a Clash song with Mick, it’s a motley punk rock Manc crew and the backstage is the stuff of legends. The eighth gig of the Stone Roses re-emergence from their sixteen-year slumber; the band that dealt in mystique had reappeared from the nowhere space that they had slipped into after the baggy wars. Having provided the template for so much that came after, the alpha band of a generation who promised so much, then just left it all hanging in the air. Even the soundcheck is solid gold; Mani running through Slaughter and the Dogs’ bass lines and the group coaxing their quicksilver magic from a clutch of songs that were the
SHANE MEADOWS CAPTURES THE ACTION
soundtrack of a million nights out. As the gig starts and the curtain of night comes down, we watch from the side as the band hit peak form. John Squire is fluid on guitar; Mani – with those loping melodic bass lines – grins with genuine pleasure, and Ian Brown is skanking to the frontman groove. But the most astonishing sight is ten feet in front of us: Reni is in his yellow top; arms covered in tape protecting his joints and is moving to the beat like pure liquid as his whole body slips and slides to those amazing drum patterns that defined an era. The greatest drummer of his generation is back where he belongs – a sight most people thought they would never see again. Eight gigs in and it’s been the most perfectly staged comeback in rock ‘n’ roll. The Stone Roses had been long gone, sleeping like King Arthur’s knights of old England in suspended animation, waiting to return. For many cold winters it had seemed like they would never return. But... Every now and then a rumour would surface, quietly insinuating that something was stirring. Mostly, it looked like permanent deep freeze for the most iconic band of their milieu. A band who had set the template for UK indie music in 1989 with their classic eponymous debut album; a record that slowly seeped into the UK consciousness – never climbing any higher than Number 19 in the charts, but changing every person that heard it with its perfect confection of music, attitude, style and tripping quicksilver melody. For two years the Roses had been unbeatable – the times are punctuated by their grand moments: Blackpool Empress Ballroom, Alexandra Palace, Spike Island and then the ‘Fools Gold’ single – a non-stop conveyer belt of solid gold moments. And then, nothing. For five long years the press sought them out. The band that had everything had fallen off the radar. No group had ever disappeared so perfectly and at such a key point in their career. When the Roses suddenly returned with ‘Second Coming’ the expectations were so high that it dashed a perfectly good record. They then lost the iconic Reni and toured the world before the last stand at Reading Festival, when even John Squire
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STONE ROSES CLASSIC SHOTS FROM THE ARCHIVE OF PAUL SLATTERY
As one of the most influential and individual bands of their generation, THE STONE ROSES’ reformation was a characteristically unique phenomenon. As the band’s sophomore album ‘Second Coming’ hits its 21st birthday Louder Than War founder John Robb shares his frontline despatches from the surprise return of 2011 and ruminates on the future of one of the world’s most incandescent rock ‘n’ roll bands.
THE STONE ROSES had jumped ship and left a rudderless band to flounder for one last gig before finally falling apart in 1996. For sixteen years there had been a solo career of warped brilliance from Ian Brown; a stop-startstop singular affair from John Squire; while Mani fucked off to play bass for fellow travellers Primal Scream, and Reni had briefly emerged in his own band The Rub to showcase his prodigious vocal and guitar skill before disappearing from view again. The Stone Roses seemed to be no more. Then, during October 2011, there were weird hints and knowing nods around town: “You’ve got to be in London in a couple of weeks,” said an insider. “I can’t tell you why…” he smiled before disappearing down the road. “There’s a press conference in London and you have to be there,” said someone else. And then you just knew. Three days later yet another internet rumour blew up, claiming that the Roses had reformed. I texted Ian Brown, he confirmed it and I Tweeted it out: The Stone Roses were back and the mystery press conference was going to be the announcement of their grand return. At this point in time, only the band and their small crew knew what was happening. Apart from your author no-one had yet been invited to the Soho press conference. This was the hottest rumour in town and the music media was scrambling. 18 OCTOBER 2011: STONE ROSES PRESS CONFERENCE, SOHO, LONDON The press conference is a strange beast; one of the great pieces of rock ‘n’ roll theatre, with its tension between musician and media. So few bands do them – So few bands can get away with them. They were once one of the classic publicity set piece; harking back to the Beatles or the Stones, with smoke-filled rooms and the Brylcreemed old boys’ club bamboozled by the shaggy-mopped youth. By 2012 they were a pop archive; recreating a time when hair and guitars and great melodies really mattered, evoking the point in the sixties when there had been a cultural war and you knew which side you were on. The Roses were one of the few bands to hook into this grand tradition, this museum of rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe they were the last band that really mattered. They had done these conferences before: There had been the famous one the night before Spike Island in the hotel in Manchester when the world’s press and the band got into a strange argument about attitude. That evening, the band faced the press unblinking and unimpressed. It was pure Sex Pistols vaudeville confrontation – a mini generation gap and a mini tear in the fabric of rock ‘n’ roll culture with another one of those northern bands arriving uninvited to the mainstream pop party and standing their ground. In 2011 things had mellowed somewhat – now the press were thrilled that the band was back and Twitter was on fire. This time, the Roses were setting stage and agenda for themselves. This press conference was going to a very different affair. God knows how the band had managed to rehearse in Manchester for months on end with only their management and a couple of other
THE ROSES’ PRESS CONFERENCE
people knowing what was going down. Despite mobile phones and social networking not one photo had leaked out, not one story had blasted around the Twitter-sphere. They had somehow reformed in a vacuum surrounded by a world full of chatter. Out of thin air the Roses were back, and Soho was going to be the venue for the announcement. That crisp Tuesday morning we paced its streets waiting for the press call. I sat in a cafe round the corner from the hotel and a familiar figure
sloped past the window. It was Ian Brown looking focussed and boxer ready. I tapped on the glass and he came in and we embraced, two old veterans from the punk rock and Manchester eras. Someone took a quick snap and we spoke of the Roses’ return. It was the pick up that people needed. Something exciting and innate to rock ‘n’ roll at a time when that was increasingly being marginalised by the corporate takeover of culture and the squeezing out of talented mavericks
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THE STONE ROSES band’s future. He was on great form and chatted at length after the press conference. It was good to have him back. He mentioned that there were plenty of musical ideas circulating, that John’s new stuff “sounded great” and that he had some things of his own. When asked when they had decided to come back, Ian revealed that the band had wanted to announce their reformation the day after the riots, while Reni bigged up the great young Manchester band Dirty North, and I shouted out “Fraser King” at them, referencing another great long lost local group. After the conference, Ian appeared genuinely thrilled by how good the band was sounding in rehearsals, telling us that, as the singer, he watches and buzzes on them playing. Even at this point, nothing felt definite. The Stone Roses always had that cordite whiff of band that could implode at any moment. Gigs had been announced and new songs were hinted at, but you still felt that the band permanently skated on the cusp of that implosion. The conference had highlighted their very different personalities: Mani’s Jack-the-lad quips, John Squire’s intelligent silence, Ian Brown’s gruff responses and Reni’s bigging up of U2. All the elements of the new few years’ roller coaster ride were in place.
like the Roses. They may have written brilliant commercial guitar classics but they were never having any truck with the system, making up the rules as they went along.
alf an hour later, I entered the Soho Hotel. It’s an expensive, upmarket joint in the heart of an area that had been taken over by the band for the day. The press and several wild eyed Manc swervers from the ecstasy days lurked around. As everyone assembled in one of the back rooms, the hotel staff looked exactly as nervous as they should when real edgy rock ‘n’ roll is in town. The band sloped in, looked at the press and the press looked back. It was very off the cuff, very Northern; with very straight answers and bits of piss-taking. The gist of it was that Ian and John, after meeting at Mani’s mother’s funeral, became friends again and apparently had started writing songs (“Everything changed when me and Ian started seeing each other again,” stated John: “It
was surreal, we went from crying laughing about the old days to writing songs in a heartbeat. In some ways it’s a friendship that defines us both and it needed fixing”). They remembered the magic – that chemistry that only a lucky few get – like The Doors’ ‘communal mind’: That unsaid knowing. They took the songs round to Reni’s after getting back in touch. The best drummer from his generation and the rhythm section was back on board. The new songs were “pure psychedelic pop” according to Ian as he circulated among us after the conference, adding that Reni’s drumming was, “Amazing, it’s like the kid has got eight arms!” With hindsight you have to wonder what happened to those songs… Reni was the most vocal member of the band, laughing as he explained that he had not been playing drums for six years. He also wore a ‘90’ badge – referencing his cryptic ‘Not until 9T” quote that confused onlookers into thinking that this was some kind of mysterious clue to the
2 DECEMBER 2011: JUSTICE TONIGHT GIG, MANCHESTER RITZ Four weeks later and I’m the compere on the Justice Tonight Tour. It was a truly exceptional experience built around The Clash’s iconic Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and heroic Liverpool band the Farm. The tour had sprung from a one off gig at Liverpool’s Olympia venue in September. Three thousand people crammed into a sold out show that centred upon the basic-yet-brilliant idea of Mick Jones playing Clash songs for the first time since he was dumped from the band in 1982, in support of the 96 Liverpool fans that had died at Hillsborough in 1989 and the subsequent Don’t Buy The Sun campaign. Pure old-school righteousness and passion. The atmosphere was, of course, electric. Set up by the Farm’s eloquent frontman Peter Hooton, it was a huge emotional and empowering success. The second date of the tour took place on a cold early December night at Manchester’s famous Ritz venue. It sold out quickly. One of the core features of the gigs was that the Justice Tonight Band would be joined by a special guest each night. The first show in Cardiff saw James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers turn up to play a Clash song with Jones – a dream moment for the Manics/Clash fan. After the gig, Mick told us a great tale from the famous night in Caerphilly during the Anarchy Tour that was captured on film; where the local choir sang outside the venue. Mick related that he had visited his Welsh aunt for tea and that she had told him about this evil band who were playing in town that night. He hadn’t got the heart to tell her he was in the support band. Backstage, there was a ripple of excitement when it was confirmed that Ian Brown and John Squire would be making their first appearance onstage together since Wembley Arena in 1996 at the Manchester Ritz show, a headline-creating act of
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solidarity with the Hillsborough campaign and the musicians that were putting it together. The two famous Mancs throwing their considerable cultural weight behind this then-very Liverpool cause and helping to make it into a national issue was key. It was to be kept secret.
No record collection is complete without...
he next night, I went down to the Ritz early for the soundcheck to be confronted by a unique sight: Original Roses drummer Si Wolstencroft (who had also been a key member of The Fall) behind the kit jamming ‘Bankrobber’ with John Squire on guitar, while Ian Brown felt his way around the vocals. This was not just a Roses reunion, but a reformation of the semi-mythical Patrol; their Clash-style school band that played five or six gigs in the South Manchester suburbs. After the soundcheck we shared a cup of tea and decided to ring Pete Garner, the original Roses bass player and school mate of the band who lived up the road from the venue, in the hope of getting him down to the show. It would be part of squaring a unique circle – One that had started in 1980 when Ian Brown and Peter Garner took the train into town on hearing that The Clash were hanging out in the city on a one-night break from tour, recording ‘Bankrobber’ in a local studio. The pair had sat on a wall opposite Pluto studio and were invited in by Mick Jones to witness the band record one of their greatest songs, as Joe Strummer lay on the floor scribbling down the lyrics in the small studio two hundred yards away from the Ritz stage where 32 years later, Mick would be playing the very same song with Ian on vocals. It was going to be the first encore, and as compere of the evening I was stood stage left as Ian Brown and John Squire lurked in the shadows, the band assembled behind them. The lights went up and there was a hum of expectation that within thirty seconds had turned into a roar of excitement, as the crowd realised that half of the Roses had materialised in front of them. ‘Bankrobber’ was dark dub brilliant and then Mick Jones got John Squire to jam with him. For the kid that loved The Clash so much when he was 14 that he had painted a mural of the band on his bedroom wall, this must have been a moment. An equally thrilled Mick also pointed out that John was one of the greatest guitarists he had ever played with.
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Tracklisting: ‘I Wanna Be Adored’/‘She Bangs The Drums’/‘Waterfall’/’Don’t Stop’/‘By Bye Badman’/‘Elizabeth My Dear’/‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’/‘Made Of Stone’/‘Shoot You Down’/‘This Is The One’/‘I Am The Resurrection’
THE STONE ROSES The band were always at their best with their event gigs: Blackpool Empress Ballroom had been the same as this – their August 1989 breakthrough at the vanguard of the biggest wave of groups since punk had taken place in this deeply unfashionable seaside town (I should know – I had grown up there). The Roses’ northernness was so much part of their spectacle; not a sneer at the south, but a celebration of their own heartland and its singular iconography. Warrington Parr Hall was one of those permanently damp Victorian spaces that had its own musical history, but tonight was going to see something extra special. The Roses announced the gig late in the afternoon and that entry would be by showing up with one of their records. The local HMV was in meltdown that afternoon, as fans rushed in buying Roses CDs, while battered old vinyl was pulled from under beds and retrieved from collections to take to the venue. Alerted to what was going on by a phone call from the band that morning, we arrived there just as the BBC had been locked outside and a scrum of thrilled locals and Manchester scene heads were cramming into the venue and hanging around the streets and pubs waiting for the moment. Inside, the expectant atmosphere was electric as the wait for the band’s re-emergence from the twilight zone counted down. Even at this point, many thought it would never happen and the famously combustible quartet would fall apart before their vaunted third coming. These fears were allayed as the band finally took the stage on a surge of emotional electricity; bouncing around, savouring the atmosphere, as Mani gurned like the Toby Jugs piled high on his amps. They soaked up their salute before the familiar bass rumble of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ played a step down echoed around the venue and the place went into meltdown. For years there had been endless speculation, and suddenly here it was: The Roses sounded tight and the avalanche of sound was reciprocated by an audience who seemed to be singing each constituent part to the song back at the band – sometimes drowning out those onstage.
he old hall could never have hosted a night as vital as this, as the North welcomed its electric warriors back home. The band sounded majestic (Geffen) 1994 and the drums were outrageous. Reni had not played Tracklisting: ‘Breaking Into a gig since Glasgow Green back in 1990, yet somehow Heaven’/‘Driving South’/‘Ten Storey sounded like the best drummer in the world, his Love Song’/‘Daybreak’/‘Your thundering polyrhythmic brilliance was staggering. Star Will Shine’/‘Straight To The The real tragedy at the heart of the band was his long Man’/‘Begging You’/‘Tightrope’/’Good absence from the stage. Times’/‘Tears’/‘How Do You The Roses’ comeback Sleep’/‘Love Spreads’ then continued into Europe, with the scene veterans piling onto planes to Barcelona and Amsterdam, two decades on from those 23 MAY 2012: WARRINGTON PARR HALL legendary coach trips across the channel. As winter melted away into spring and the worriers began to think the The vets may not have been the wild youth, Roses had disappeared yet again, the band pulled off another low-key gig in deprived of sleep and normal human their Northern heartland; playing Warrington, the town that Ian Brown had functions of their teenage years, but they been born in before moving to Manchester when he was six. were still going for it and coming back There was something very Roses about placing their comeback gig in with reports of the band’s flashes of magic, one of the least fashionable corners of the UK. Far from the maddening tightrope breakdowns and high tension crowd of hipsters and in one of the forgotten towns that are so often the moments that are part and parcel of the backdrop for great rock ‘n’ roll bands, Warrington had been battered by the volatile nature of perfect rock ‘n’ roll. recession. A town that had made its money out of canvas and sail cloth, it The greatest thing about the Roses and so was the usual mixture of damp terraces, battered estates and the decayed many fellow travellers from Manchester was Victorian grandeur of the real England. A town of dreams, mad eyed stoners their combustible nature: At any moment a in pubs, local legends, lunatics and people with music in their blood – the carefully plotted career plan could implode real backbone of the Roses. Whoever chose Warrington for the comeback before soaring into musical brilliance. just knew.
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THE STONE ROSES 25 JUNE 2012: LYON THEATRE ANTIQUE DE FOURVIERE Gig eight on the comeback tour was the aforementioned show in Lyon. As we sat in the hotel we could hear the Roses soundchecking, a mixture of their own songs and snippets from classics meshing together and shimmering across the city. Like high-decibel pied pipers they drew us up the hill and toward the venue. It was an astonishing site – a ruined Roman theatre brooding above the city. As we watched the Roses run through one of their legendary soundchecks, the sun hung in the sky and Mani grinned as he fired off classic punk basslines. Reni wandered over and we talked of old times and the Spirit rehearsal room in Manchester where they had rehearsed next door to my band the Membranes, thirty years before, when we were the bigger band and the Roses raw, hungry locals. The band bundled back to their hotel as a familiar figure loomed amid the broken pillars of the Roman relic. A heavily bearded, six foot plus form that oozed intense charisma – Eric Cantona was tonight’s special guest for the Justice Tonight Band, here because he supported the campaign and also loved the Roses and The Clash. Even the Liverpool-supporting Farm queued for Cantona’s signature – Eric was beyond partisan rivalry and his iconic presence was bigger than the usual football sectarianisms. His intelligence, his rebel spirit and scowling presence mirrored the Northern DNA. His brooding surliness encapsulated the era of baggy defiance pouring from North West’s music meltdown that soundtracked his time at
“THEY WOULD STONEWALL THE JOURNALISTS” John Robb on the Stone Roses’ relationship with the media... “The Stone Roses would stonewall the journalist[s]. With shy guffaws, muttered asides, dispassionate staring, foot-shuffling silences and complete mind-numbing gaps, punctuated by the odd piece of incisive homespun philosophy from Brown, who occasionally hinted at a well-read mind. There would be complete silence from John Squire, witty banter from Reni, and Mani spouting off if he let his guard drop. “One feature of the band’s career had been their ability to stay on the news pages of the rock press almost permanently for years on end, including the years when they did fuck all. And they did this by hardly saying anything at all.” John Robb’s ‘The Stone Roses And The Resurrection Of British Pop’ is available now via Random House
THE MADNESS OF LYON
Manchester United. The Roses came hurrying back from their hotel after being tipped off by text about Eric being at the gig and also joined the queue for his autograph. The humble Cantona was king for yet another day. As the evening unfolded, he played his song with the Justice Tonight Band and then watched the Stone Roses deliver what was arguably the landmark set of their comeback tour. After the gig, the band was in high spirits as Ian Brown and me kicked plastic glasses around the stage. Sprits were high and gruff Northern grins shone though the silver night. 29 JUNE – 1 JULY 2012: MANCHESTER HEATON PARK The weeks leading up to the Heaton Park gigs saw a rerun of the Roses-mania that encircled their halcyon, late eighties period. It took you right back to time when Manchester was a very different beast; the city in the 21st century was full of steel, glass and Northern powerhouse posturing. It was fast turning into the region’s capital, riding a gleaming rail of confidence that had started with Tony Wilson’s vision for a city rising like a post-punk phoenix from the grim post-industrial era. If punk rock had ever rebooted a city then this was it – not a carbon copy of the anarchy in the UK blueprint, but propelled by DIY self empowerment and the belief that you could create anything that was so key to punk’s real spirit. It wasn’t as if the city’s streets were paved with safety pins, but the lineage started by the Buzzcocks wonderful ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP had progressed through the Joy Division and Factory era that not only solidified into bricks and mortar via the Hacienda, but also saw a whole host of self made bands rising up in the post punk period like the workers at the Peterloo Massacre – only this time they were going to win. During the Roses’ first incarnation, Manchester was full of rotting warehouses – the same warehouses that they played a couple of landmark early gigs just behind Piccadilly station in 1984. Then, the night time economy revolved around rock ‘n’ roll, with music rats running round the deserted city centre buildings. If you wanted your culture with an edge, it was better then, before the modernising all but snuffed that out despite making it a more pleasant place to live in. The Roses weekend at Heaton Park was one last chance to savour those madcap days when the city glowed in a haze of pills and powders.
The night before the first show, photographer Ian Tilton (who had grown up on the same street in me in Manchester) hosted an exhibition of his classic early photo sessions with the band in an ad hoc city centre gallery. It was packed with old faces as well as hordes of Roses fans from all over the world determined to make a weekend of the jaunt. There was a tangible frisson of expectation for the Roses’ return to Manchester.
he Justice Tonight Band had again been booked to play as support on the Sunday, but why waste a good weekend waiting? The first night was a Friday, so we headed for North Manchester to catch the band in full flow playing to a fantastically leery and quite crazy crowd, drawn from Glasgow and other sprawling cities, drunkenly having the time of their lives. Crazed faces leered from the dark, their eyes standing on stalks, while skidding amid the chaos and piss drenched dirt that is part and parcel of rock ‘n’ roll at its most honest. The great thing about the Roses was that they brought artfulness and a complex range of
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emotional fragrances into the hurt and heart of rock ‘n’ roll and onto its stormy, lunatic waves. They had a small corpus of classic songs that everyone could sing along to – these were as anthemic as they were diverse; sensitive and intelligent. To hear the shivering brilliance of ‘Made Of Stone’ echoing across the huge crowd made perfect sense: The irony of a song about alienation, enjoyed by tens of thousands with their arms around each other – perfect. Saturday was the same story, while Sunday was thrilling. It’s not often that you get to sing ‘Rock The Casbah’ with Mick Jones to your left and 75 000 people in front of you. I ran off the stage and into the wild throng at the front, crushed up against the barriers. There was a veteran’s sense of mania down there and although it was still a few hours until the Roses came on, people were quite defiantly in the mood. A stage pass ensured that I was perfectly positioned to watch the Roses show and appreciate the sheer spectacle and scale of the event. Stood on some sort of ramp with
the legendary Dennis and Lois and footballer Joey Barton we watched the endless crowd stretching into the distance, as they bounced around to the classics. There was a fascinating dynamic between the band members: John Squire hunched over his guitar like a Jimmy Page acolyte; Reni an elastic octopus. Most drummers, especially in the UK, sit stiff-backed, whereas Reni seems to flow with his sticks, becoming part of the beat. He was lost in the music, still the most incredible drummer I’ve ever seen, totally at one with the sound and ebbing and flowing with its underlying dynamic. Mani looked one part classic cocky Manc and one part terrified as he laid down his perfect bass lines with that booming sound coming out of his curious, Toby Jug-laden amp. As the audience left the muddy fields of North Manchester on those three evenings, expectations were still high for a new album and a full third coming, but the Roses – in classic Roses style – were about to drift slowly away again. The band that was impossible to pin down was about to escape once more.
It wasn’t like they’d just played one smashand-grab gig in Heaton Park – It was part of a 46-date world tour that took in such unlikely locales as Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and Mexico City. Looking back, the writing was already on the wall – the set they played was all old songs – there had been no sign of the new material and the band were doing no interviews, allowing their own mystique to move ahead of them.
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U2’S NOTE TO MICK JONES
5 JULY 2012: DUBLIN PHOENIX PARK For the Dublin trip a few days later, the Justice Tonight Band had again been asked to back the Roses. This was going to be a big one; a huge sold out crowd in Ireland – where, like Scotland, they’d taken the Stone Roses to its Celtic heart. The backstage was covered in wood chippings that smelt of deep forest and we sat swinging in a hammock in the cool summer breeze as the day ticked towards show time. This is a big night – that means a big presence. As Ian Brown confides later, he is not only buzzing to be having the Justice Tonight Band on the bill, but he would have loved to have seen Mick Jones and the crew play all these gigs. The cause and cultural history were perfectly aligned for the atmosphere the Stone Roses are trying to create. There are some changes: the big difference tonight is that Pete Wylie has not made the show. He’d announced that he wasn’t coming a couple of days before, which was a shame as he is a very big presence and we love his crazy bones. If this was a regular band his absence would be a big problem, but Justice Tonight doesn’t work like a normal band. This is a loose collective that provides the soundtrack for a cause. People come and go; and even without the charismatic presence of Pete, that cause remains the prime objective. The backstage at Phoenix Park is laid out like a playground as me and Farm manager, Peasy, arrive early to soak up the big day. Various Stone Roses wander about as we take five minutes out in a couple of comfy chairs. We are shocked at this strange stuff called ‘sunshine’ that seems to be pouring out of the sky. In 2012 there is no such thing as a festival that doesn’t come with rain and mud, so we savour this rare moment. Returning from the Roses soundcheck, Reni notices a massive hole in my sock that annoyingly appeared this morning and offers me his spares. After some discussion over the colour he whips out a cream pair and I throw away my trusty (but with more holes than Blackpool’s defence) black ones and feel oddly comfortable without the grime of the damp field attaching itself to my fleshy foot. The Stone Roses are in high spirits, which is hardly surprising as they have just pulled off the most audacious comeback anyone can remember,
delighting thousands of fans and suffering only a couple of bad reviews from people who ‘don’t like to see the working classes have fun’, as one passing wag drily commented. There is some uncertainty over who the Justice Tonight special guest will be; Shane MacGowan has been contacted by Mick and is due to turn up in Shane time; John Power (of Cast/The Las) is the other guest and arrives with the rest of the Justice Tonight Band about an hour after we get there. He’s bouncing around with the jovial and slightly tripped out optimism that he has always oozed. John is one of nature’s upbeat people, his waifish charisma and sheer joy at singing ‘Bankrobber’ with the band tonight is infectious.
he band retires to their cabin and work out their version of ‘Bankrobber’. The stripped down, almost acoustic version, with strummed guitars, clattered bottles, and John’s vocals (backed by the always fab and gorgeous Babs and Bev) sound great. The song has hints of the Wingless Angels – the great Jamaican dread vocalists, who sang with Keith Richards backing them on their 1997 album – in its almost spiritual overtones. Listening to it makes you want to hear a fully acoustic version of these songs, a stripped down guerrilla gig played by the band. As show time approaches, there is much reading and re-reading of lyrics and strumming of the brown Les Paul Junior that has been left in the room for the band to warm up. It’s not Mick’s classic number, but it’s still a beautiful guitar. On the lyrics front, I’ve nailed ‘Rock The Casbah’ and also ‘Janie Jones’ just in case it makes a return. All is cushty until Mick asks me if I know ‘Brand New Cadillac’ in case Shane doesn’t turn up, which looks fairly likely at the moment. Now, like nearly everyone here of a certain leaning, I know ‘Brand New Cadillac’ like it was tattooed to my heart. It’s one of the great songs from ‘London Calling’ – the soundcheck in the studio being the cover of the Vince Taylor classic that the band rattled off to see if their gear was working. The band was stunned when it was announced as a take by the late, great Guy Stevens. “But it speeds up,” gasped Joe Strummer, before Guy rightly pointed out that “All great rock ‘n’ roll speeds up.” It’s a safe bet that Guy would have been shocked by the modern prevalence of click tracks and rock ‘n’ roll played by robots. I listen to ‘Brand New Cadillac’ on an iPhone
and brush it down fast. Mick tells me to ad lib the lyrics, but I’ve got most of them ready. I must have heard the song a thousand times, but can never decide which version I love the most; The Clash’s for its kinetic energy and prowling rockabilly nous, or Vince Taylor’s for its clattering genius. I always loved the British rock ‘n’ rollers from the fifties, and me and Mick have a conversation about the brilliant Johnny Kidd and The Pirates as well as Vince Taylor. We agree that Taylor was the great lost rock ‘n’ roll star, whose genius we celebrate and whose madness inspired the creation of Ziggy Stardust. In the early sixties, Taylor would take acid and proclaim himself the messiah at the front of Tottenham Court Road station to an almost non-existent audience that included the young David Jones, eight years before he reinvented himself as Ziggy. Taylor caused riots in France, where he would also receive his due acclaim. He brilliantly played out his psychoses on stage; a spindly, leather clad Gene Vincent clone, whose moves and jutting jawline bear a remarkable resemblance to another of his big fans; Morrissey (who once replied to an ad for a singer for a JOHN ‘N’ SHANE proto punk band called London SS – they never played any gigs but their guitarist is currently asking me to learn Taylor’s song – in Justice Tonight land everything ties together). I’m ready to deliver the song and prepared to do a slavering take on a number that has some of the best screams in rock ‘n’ roll when Shane turns up fashionably late. It’s minutes before the band are set to hit the stage when he walks in, the heroic wordsmith who wrote some of the greatest songs of the eighties. He joins the long walk from the dressing room log cabin to the stage. The song is Shane’s call now, but I’m gonna get up for the screams. Screaming has died out in rock ‘n’ roll, but I’m on a one man mission to bring it back, remembering that one of the great things about the Beatles was Lennon’s screams – those primal howls of pure delight at the electricity of the sixties unfolding in front of him. Does anyone still believe in pop music like that anymore? Shane sits just off the stage, patiently awaiting his moment with Irish gig promoter and manager of the great Blood and Whisky John Foley. The Pogues legend is looking cool in his pink shirt and with a pile of jewellery around his neck he looks like a Celtic shaman driven by drink instead of mescal, or maybe both or neither – it’s hard to tell, immersed as he is within his singular green and ghostly visions. He
“Everything changed when me and Ian started seeing each other again. It was surreal, we went from crying laughing about the old days to writing songs in a heartbeat.” John Squire
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ONSTAGE IN MANCHESTER
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THE STONE ROSES was one of the first Clash fans, making a name for himself when he was involved in an earlobe biting incident along with Jane Crockford (later of the Modettes) at an ICA gig in 1976. The resulting photo is one of the iconic shots of the era and I clearly remember seeing it in the music press at the time.
he band enters to the Farm’s ‘Groovy Train’, and then Cast man John Power totally nails ‘Bankrobber’. He sings it in his own vocal style, his plaintive Scouse holler suiting the tune, adding a different edge and emotion to the classic that is the real show piece of the set. It sounds great echoing around the huge arena. I get up for ‘Rock The Casbah’ and take the mic to the audience. It’s a long way down to the front row, and it’s packed tight down there. The youth of Ireland turn out to be huge Clash fans, grabbing my arms and the mic hard, as they sing back all the lyrics with a fervent passion. Shane appears for ‘Brand New Cadillac’ – It’s a moment for the rock ‘n’ roll connoisseurs to appreciate him and Mick sharing a stage. It’s another one of those long relationships that stretch back to the heart of punk. Shane croaks out the song with his distinctive cackle, another of the great rock ‘n’ roll voices. He also manages to pour a pint of beer over himself and another one over Peter Hooton – “I love my clothes and wouldn’t be happy with anyone else doing that,” he laughs, “but with Shane it’s different...” With Shane it’s always different. Mick delivers a great ‘Train In Vain’ – the plaintive love song that was the Clash’s first proper hit in America. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ sounds equally fantastic with its garage band riff zig-zagging across the stadium. Everyone sings along to this one, then they’re ready for the last song; the Farm’s ‘All Together Now’, which is starting to resemble Mott The Hoople’s ‘All The Young Dudes’ for its anthemic, arms around each other, celebratory nature. It’s a triumphant show and the band is in high spirits when they return to the backstage area to calm down. I get into a long talk with Mick, and he tells me more great tales from the Clash days. He is great company and full of the wisdom of someone who has really done it. You can listen to Mick talk about rock ‘n’ roll all night; his eyes sparkling with the joy and
“IT’S A TRIUMPHANT SHOW” humour of decades spent dealing the primal electricity to lifting people’s spirits. He is doing exactly this with Justice Tonight, invigorating veterans and newcomers alike with his great songs and his indomitable spirit. The Clash did this to us when we were young, and Justice Tonight retains that feeling, which is why these gigs are so crucial. Local hopefuls U2 send a huge red box full of bottles of Guinness and champagne with instructions on how to make Black Velvets. A nice touch – it would have been cooler if they had come and sung a song but they were probably out of town. As the Wailers rock the house with their renditions of reggae classics and the backstage gets ready for the Roses, the Justice Tonight room is bouncing with the emotion of playing a great show. We wander out front and there is a rush of thrilled Irish youth coming up to talk about the gig. The Clash is an international language and it’s an honour to be involved. These songs are the perfect vehicle to extend
the call for justice across the decades. Next up is Milan in a couple of weeks for another support show kindly provided by the Roses, another platform to get the message across, another space to party and more people to meet in this crazy rambling project. 17 JULY 2012: MILAN IPPODROMO DEL GALOPPO We are sat in the grandstand of the San Siro hippodrome. It’s late afternoon, the sun is beaming down, and in the distance the Stone Roses are finishing off a soundcheck that includes jams and classics by themselves and others. The grandstand is serving as the dressing room for tonight’s gig on the big festival stage at the other end of the hippodrome – about a mile away and only accessible by shuttle bus. These ornate wooden rooms house lockers full of silk jockey hats, which quickly get handed round to the Justice Tonight Band. It’s a very unlikely venue, with the iconic San Siro stadium serving
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THE STONE ROSES and mislabelling the band in their early days because their original bass player Pete Garner had long black hair. Pete was never a Goth; he was in love with the New York Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges, but the label somehow stuck. These days the Stone Roses are no longer a struggling local band, they are the biggest band in the UK, and getting reconnected with Europe after sixteen years. The rock ‘n’ roll is provided by the Brits – those northern sages, whose bands have taken Europe by storm throughout the decades. There’s huge posters of Morrissey all over town as the Mancunian legend is selling out another of his solo tours and the Roses are the big news this week, while the Clash remain still very much part of the region’s cultural DNA.
as the backdrop dominating the skyline. There is a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s giant horse statue outside, but no real horses today. The Justice Tonight Band is in town to play with the Stone Roses. Decades earlier, Benito Mussolini paced these very rooms and sat on the balcony like a surrogate Roman Emperor, watching the horses rush past. He must have felt unstoppable at the time, sat there all plump and shiny with the modern coliseum of the San Siro, the home of AC Milan standing imperious in the background. It must have felt like he was at the top of his game during the 1930s, the high water mark of fascism in Europe and there he was – top dog of a poisonous ideology – what could possibly go wrong? Yet 70 years later he and his politics are long gone from the mainstream and the club house is full of rock ‘n’ rollers – the ultimate revenge. Mick Jones is in a sharp pin stripe, the Farm, backing singers Babs and Bev, John Power and yours truly are all in one section of rooms, with the Stone Roses in another. A vociferous, freewheeling cast of rampaging ragamuffins that is a distant echo of the fall of Rome and the incursions into Europe by the Vandals and Visigoths back in the fifth century. Not that the Stone Roses are Vandals, nor were they Visigoths, or even Goths – that was dear old Tony Wilson mixing up his musical genres
he Stone Roses go on stage late because they bump into Mick and become lost in conversation. Then they deliver a great, stirring set that echoes up and down the hippodrome. Back at the grandstand, the bands mingle, there is talk of more dates together and a general bonding in the sticky evening heat. Mani is vociferous in his support of the whole idea of the Justice collective, he knows that it could have been any set of fans crushed to death against those barriers, those criminal fences built into the stands of the decaying eighties – stadiums that the Clash themselves had railed against in their classic ‘Groovy Times’. The talk turns to punk rock and all its hopes and fears as Mick Jones, the Farm and the Roses bond in the dressing rooms as the sun goes down after a celebration of British rock ‘n’ roll. Downstairs, we raid the jockeys’ cupboards and dig out their funny hats for photos. There are collective high jinks and lots of laughter. Even the mosquitoes have backed off for a moment as we pose for gonzoid photos – even on serious business, you have to smile. The party spreads across town, back to the Roses hotel, or local bars before everything winds up at five in the morning with a smashed glass and the realisation that the wake-up call is less than two hours away.
6 AUGUST 2012: LONDON VILLAGE UNDERGROUND Finally the Stones Roses play a gig in London town. Whereas Warrington was for the band’s hardcore northern fan base, tonight’s show was thrown by Adidas and includes a mixture of celebrities, alongside fans who had bought tickets for Heaton Park from a London address and had to email at the last minute to gain their free entry. The event combined the Roses gig with a party thrown by the sportswear corporation for Britain’s triumphant Olympic gold medal winners into the small, crammed venue. Jimmy Page brushes by to get to the front and watch John Squire, who the Zeppelin legend later told me was one of the greatest guitar players he had ever seen. Tonight is in the Roses tradition of throwing off the wall gigs that stretches back to those legendary warehouse parties in Manchester in 1984. Many members of Team GB arrive blinking in the spotlight, led by the immaculately suited Bradley Wiggins, beaming at meeting the silver fox mod, Paul Weller. It’s difficult to begrudge the British Olympic team their access to the gig, as many of them are big Roses fans and their recent medals haul made the country feel good about itself in the same way that the Roses themselves have done in this remarkable summer. It is beginning to have that golden glow of pop culture triumph like the summer of ‘67, albeit with a massive recession and global meltdown as its backdrop. In addition to the likes of Mick Jones and Jimmy Page, key rock ‘n’ rollers such as Bobby Gillespie and Little Barrie were in attendance, as well as many Mancunian faces like the legendary Andrew Berry whose own mid eighties band the Weeds should have made it, but left behind a great single. I also bump into Paul Cook, the Pistols powerhouse drummer and his daughter the great Hollie, who’d supported the Roses at Heaton Park, as well as Ray McVeigh – frontman of the Chiefs Of Relief, the tribal punk band that the Roses once supported on a mini tour before they broke out. The legendary Stephen English – the security man who looked after the Clash and the Pistols – is also in the house and regales me with some great stories of those days. None of these rockers can be begrudged their place here tonight – each one has been part of the Stone Roses story, and if you want to argue with Stephen’s right to be here, then feel free as the amiable cockney still looks like he could knock out a whole army. I go to the Hoxton Hotel to pick up my ticket and there are several fans there hoping to grab a last minute route into the concert. I can’t help them, but we have a great chat about music, the Roses, punk rock and life in England in general. I hope they all managed to get in – I
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THE STONE ROSES know Ian Brown popped out and distributed some passes and there was also someone from the event who let in the modern version of the Beatles’ superfans – Apple Scruffs waiting outside to get in. Inside, the Olympic athletes are the centre of attention, with mobile phones snapping their freshly famous faces. They must be the first celebrities outside rock ‘n’ roll for decades to have earned their fame and then looked a bit shocked by their sudden elevation. Introduced as the new King of England by Ian Brown, Bradley Wiggins stands tall in the crowd as the beautiful Jessica Ennis, who gets a similar introduction as the new Queen, gets caught in the flurry of fan photographers politely asking for a snap. It’s another massive difference from Warrington. At the first gig, being far from media central, there were no paparazzi or mainstream attention, just a BBC camera crew marooned outside the venue looking for a hopeful guest list place. Tonight, as you enter there are loads of photographers so desperate for any scrap of celebrity that they are even taking snaps of your humble scribe as I wander in with Andrew Berry. The band is milling about in the hotel and spirits are high. The Far East tour was a success, with 20,000 turning up in South Korea, and Japan retaining its enthusiasm for the Roses. Tonight is a different affair, the venue holds at most 500 people, and is probably the smallest place they have played since their 1989 pre Blackpool Empress ballroom breakthrough tour. It is also their first London show since the fateful Wembley Arena gig when John Squire left the band and the final meltdown started.
t’s a very different atmosphere now, and when Ian Brown takes the stage claiming that they are an hour late because of a “band shoot out, but they’ve reformed again” the audience know he is joking and tumble with a total joy into ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. They have tweaked tonight’s set, with many of the lesser known tracks from the first half of the touring list getting a rest. There are no new songs, but that was always unlikely as they would be kept back until nearer the album release. The Roses are super tight, with John Squire’s guitar sounding ultra sharp as he plays his skin off knowing that Jimmy Page and Mick Jones, the two guitar players who so inspired him, are here to acknowledge an equal. After the gig, I mention to John that he was playing guitar quotes to Jimmy Page in ‘Fools Gold’ and he laughs as I ask where Mick Jones guitar quote was. His guitar sound benefits from the more intimate surroundings, with the jam at the end of ‘Fools Gold’ one of the set’s high points. Ben, from the great band Cornershop, wanders up and says that that the Roses must be the only group he can think of where you want the jams to go on forever. The already high level of musicianship has now been honed by those months on the road. Post-gig, the dressing room is in aftermath mode, spirits are high and there’s an unusual selection of guests in the room. The Olympians are charming people, a whole new breed of
“We keep writing and if it fits our standards we’ll go with it.” Ian Brown
sports stars with a modesty that is amplified by their athletic perfection. Unlike whining Premiership footballers, they are very humble and are happy for us to have our photos taken with their already iconic medals. I speak to the canoeist David Florence and he shares his silver medal, it is heavy and looks like it’s made out of chocolate, but when you think of the sweat and toil that goes into earning it, it glows with far more power than silver. David is really sound and into his music. I also chat to Bradley Wiggins, another big Roses fan, in his super sharp mod suit; he’s the sportsman who looks most comfortable here. Ian Brown comes over and talks about the Bruce Lee toys which one of the road crew bought for him, and are usually dotted around the stage somewhere. They are either glued onto the drums or hiding behind the amps. In Tokyo, they fought each other to their ultimate death on Brown’s knees in front of a packed festival audience, while the rest of the band went into musical nirvana around him. Tonight’s prank
was the folding up of the set list into paper planes and throwing them into the crowd as ‘Resurrection’ finished proceedings. Outside the hotel, I get into a cool conversation with Mani on the subject of Slaughter and the Dogs; “The best band that ever came from Manchester,” claims the ever irrepressible bass man. The reason we were chatting about the band was that I had just conducted an in conversation with them at Rebellion Punk Festival and we had talked extensively about the Stone Roses who have always bigged up the Wythenshawe punk legends as being a key influence on them in the early days. We laugh about the fact that the Dogs’ guitar player Mike Rossi looks like he could be Mani’s brother, and salute a great band who are so key to not only the Roses story but also the Smiths and even for Billy Duffy from the Cult – another South Manchester musician who was inspired by the group that gave Morrissey his first audition.
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THE STONE ROSES
10 AUGUST 2012: BUDAPEST ÓBUDA ISLAND SZIGET FESTIVAL The night before this huge festival we are in a city centre hotel and Reni is holding court. The drummer is talking fast and tapping his fingers on the table with the same kind of rhythmic dexterity that typify his famous drumming skills. Later on he will play the hotel bar’s piano, pealing out tunes whilst talking – even his keyboard skills are exemplary. Talk continues deep into the night with Reni showing no interest in any sensible, early-to-bed discipline. We talk about what makes rock ‘n’ roll great, the dynamics of the Roses, and how the band clicks – it’s a fascinating conversation to share as the sun comes up.
he next night, the band takes the stage under the baking sun and dust clouds of a midsummer mid-European festival. Next to me stands Michael Eavis, setting tongues wagging about the possibility of the Roses appearing at Glastonbury. A big crowd welcomed the band onto the stage, with many Brits making the trip to Budapest for a festival that is like Glastonbury with hot weather on an island in the Danube about two miles outside the Hungarian capital. The warmth is a rare treat for the travelling UK contingent. As night descended, the Roses sounded better than ever. Ian Brown introduced some of the songs in Northern accented Hungarian, and played with his Bruce Lee and Princess Lea plastic toys for the camera during the instrumental to ‘Resurrection’, before throwing set lists out to the crowd. There were no surprises in the set, with the band sticking to the same numbers that they have taken around the world. By now, we all know the songs that get dusted down and the order of the set. Apart from ‘Elizabeth My Dear’, which has recently been replaced by one of Reni’s drum workouts, before the Tamla stomp that the drummer learned in his earliest of days drumming in a Moss Side soul band kicks in, everything remains in the same place. Not that the Roses do everything the same, the meltdown at the end of ‘Fools Gold’ is loose and molten – an area where anything can go. Many of the diehards who turn up tonight agree that this could be the greatest performance of the band they have seen in terms of musicality. In particular, Reni really shone, with a powerhouse drum display that demonstrated his remarkable stamina, especially when you consider the rigours of touring. John Squire was similarly sensational on guitar – every lick counting and the ‘Fools Gold’ workout sounding progressively mind blowing. The squelching noises he coaxes from his Watkins Copycat tape loop are great. It’s stunning to witness the amount of noise he gets out of the two Boogie combo amps he has wired together. The Roses also take full
advantage of their live sound mixer, Robbie McGrath, who is perhaps one of the best on the planet; bringing a crystal clarity to the band’s sound that is crucial to their assault. Jimmy Page looms large in the Stone Roses mythos like some kind of mystical guitar lord who sold his soul to the devil. His amazing talents have transcended the decades and his presence at the recent London gig was a tip of his hat to one big fan of his who has now got the skills to equal his former hero. As the sound pours out the PA you can sense that the band is hitting perfection, a perfection that emulates that achieved by their heroes such as Led Zep or the Beatles – classic rock that they have now matched in a way that many bands would be scared of, weighed down by the weight of history. The Roses can talk about these heavyweights and also be equally in love with Slaughter and the Dogs. It’s this take on the rock canon, filtered through punk and twisted by Ian Brown – whose musical path doesn’t travel through Zep country – that gives the band its own unique twist. The band may not be as massive in Europe as they are in the UK on account of their arrested development and resultant lack of years working this festival circuit, but they are catching up fast and displays like this will see them effortlessly move into the global big league. They possess the unique ability to make the past sound like the future – and that’s a tough trick to pull off. They understand the classic rock thing but are also prepared to fuck with it. Tonight, as they hit high gear, they are beginning to look as unbeatable as they were in 1989 before the whole thing began to fall apart. This time they are in much better hands, the future may just be theirs again. All they need to do now is deliver that new album…
sticking to the same set as a year earlier, and although it lacked the chaotic excitement of the earlier shows, the gig was still a grand affair. The impetus was dissipating and they were now in danger of becoming just another huge band. It’s not bad work if you can get it, but it came with the risk of their losing the mystique that has always made them intangibly magic. A smart band would step back at this point… And then… And then as quickly as they re-appeared, the Stone Roses vanished once more. King Arthur’s knights returning to their underground lair, leaving the internet twitching with rumour and hope. Rarely a day goes past without someone asking where the third album was. Occasionally bumping into band members around town, it seems that scraps of rumour and confusion are all that is left. Have the Stone Roses finally disappeared, or are they waiting in the wings for a final comeback – a last hurrah? Or will they fade away into the sunset without uttering a word or blinking, leaving just rumour and memories? This most idiosyncratic of the big rock ‘n’ roll bands; the group that could have had everything, but chose perfection instead are still making up their own rules. At the end of the day, that is how rock ‘n’ roll should be. There was talk early on of new material (at the press conference Ian announced that “we keep writing and if it fits our standards we’ll go with it”). It probably still exists, fragments of genius that are tantalisingly hanging in the air. There is probably a perfectionist streak running through the band as well. Some of them may want to just go in and record, make an album in a week, knowing that the innate genius of the whole group would be bound to turn out something brilliant. Some of the band may want to work on the details, to get this thing perfect melodically and musically. Neither method is wrong or right as people work in different ways. Maybe they will never find this perfection and surely no fan wants a half assed record. Timing in rock ‘n’ roll is everything. In some ways never releasing another album but never 7 JUNE 2013: LONDON FINSBURY PARK confirming it or denying it and riding off into A year on from Heaton Park, the Roses play the sunset is a great finish for this band. But the big London show. Finsbury Park was where the Roses don’t feel finished. We know there the Sex Pistols had staged their huge 1996 is still plenty in the motor but we respect their comeback, and the Roses gig provided a fitting artistic stubbornness and wait to see what the bookend to that landmark. Ian Brown must have years bring. They could be starting to rehearse thought about his youthful idols stepping out again soon and the whole thing may flow from and storming the capital again. The Roses were there…
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Louder Than War’s Martin Leay recently met up with ex-MANSUN singer & songwriter Paul Draper to find out about the solo album that fans have persuaded him to release. the underdog.” This is a band that topped the UK chart with a concept album about the dark, twisted inhabitants of a fictional English village and then released ‘Six’; a mindblowing follow-up drawing on influences as diverse as ‘60s cult TV series The Prisoner, the death of Brian Jones and the Taoism of Winnie The Pooh. Abstruse as this may sound, ‘Six’ spawned one Top 10 single and two further Top 20 hits. The third album, ‘Little Kix’, was made to measure against the backdrop of label interference from Parlophone and internal disputes that signposted the end of Mansun’s road. Understandably, Paul Draper does not regard ‘Little Kix’ particularly fondly. It all ended messily in 2003, in the midst of recording their fourth album, ‘Kleptomania’ HE last time I saw Paul Draper – which was issued posthumously as a result was in Chester, at an August of fan pressure. The mostly unfinished tracks 2014 convention for a band that suggested a return to Mansun’s early rock ‘n’ split up eleven years previously. roll sound and offered fans a tantalising taste That band – his band – was of what could have been. Mansun, one of the most interesting and After Mansun had imploded, Paul Draper original groups of the 1990s. went to America to record new material for Mixing seemingly disparate influences a solo album that he subsequently pulled (The Beatles, Prince, Bowie, Talk Talk) due to his increasing disillusionment with with their own creative impulses, Mansun the music industry. “It didn’t feel right to created something new – something that do any solo stuff after it all ended,” he says stood worlds apart from their Britpop now. Instead, he decided to concentrate contemporaries. They even dressed on writing and producing for other artists, differently; in tartan bondage trousers and including hard rockers Skin and indie combo, orange boiler suits with mascara running You Animals. Most recently he has co-written down their faces. and co-produced ‘The Mansun’s sound Anchoress’, an album was massive and recorded by Welsh their songs were multi-instrumentalist innovative, earning Catherine A.D. them chart success That project was and cult appeal. initiated two years During their ago, at which time lifetime, Mansun Paul Draper stated released two that he had no conceptual albums, intention of ever ‘Attack Of The fronting a musical Grey Lantern’ (a project ever again. number one record This was devastating Paul Draper that knocked Blur news for Mansun off the top spot devotees, who remain in March 1997) and ‘Six’, a challenging, among the most dedicated fanbases in British proggy masterpiece that frontman Paul popular culture and who share daily memories Draper described as “Commercial suicide, but on the ‘Mansun’s Only Love Song’ Facebook artistically satisfying.” This was followed by group. the more poppy, label-appeasing ‘Little Kix’, However, a lot can change in two years and which emerged in August 2000. in a great victory for people power, a petition Looking back now, Draper regards Mansun set up by that fervent army of fans for Paul as “An odd band to infiltrate the Britpop Draper’s long lost album to be released has world,” and the fact that they did being a proven successful. He is currently working representation of, “the ultimate victory for on finalising the disc, with a release date
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PHOTOS: DUNCAN STAFFORD
“We were an odd band to infiltrate the Britpop world”
PHOTOS: SUZI MERIDITH
provisionally set for Spring 2016. The original title; ‘Spooky Action (At A Distance)’ has been shortened to ‘Spooky Action’, for which Paul has recorded nineteen songs. These, he tells me, are likely to be whittled down to a final selection of ten tracks. In addition, he explains that there will be, “An EP first, with three tracks and one of the tracks on the album, then there’ll be a single into the album and maybe another EP”. The first EP is expected, “In November or the new year.” ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ is the only full song made public to date, having been played to 500 screaming fans at last summer’s Mansun convention, where I had the pleasure and privilege of introducing the track. Although he maintains that it is a certainty for inclusion on ‘Spooky Action’, Paul doesn’t yet know if he will release it as a single. “I’m going to get it mixed properly,” he asserts – his well-known perfectionist streak clearly still evident. Draper regards ‘Can’t Get Fairer Than That’ as a better choice for a single. It is a guitar track he describes as “Punchy lo-fi rock”, but his beloved synths feature at the end. “I’m a sucker for synthesisers,” enthuses Paul. Projected opening track ‘Grey House’ is the album’s one concession to progressive rock. “I veer into the realms of prog every now and again, I can’t help myself,” he laughs. At nine minutes long (with a four and a half minute intro), it is probably the nearest to ‘Six’ era Mansun on the record.
teve Hewitt (ex-Placebo) played drums on a few tracks, but for the most part ‘Spooky Action’ will feature Paul Draper backed by the band behind ‘The Anchoress’; Catherine A.D. provides keyboards, and other guest musicians include Leeds rockers James Brown from Pulled Apart By Horses and Ryan Needham of Menace Beach. ‘Spooky Action’ is still based on the songs Paul wrote over a decade ago but it is constantly evolving. It was originally envisioned as a rock record, but ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ has an electro feel, flowing from the acquisition of a Prophet 12 synthesiser. The arrangement may be new, but
“I just hate singing. I hate singers as well, although I never classed myself as a singer. I’m just someone who puts tracks together to try and avoid getting a job.” Paul Draper as Draper points out, “The guts of the song – the verse and the chorus, the melody and hook line were from a long time ago.” Paul maintains that he “Hasn’t got a clue what the final record will be until it’s finished – Bit by bit I’m putting it together, and the more bits and bobs that I put together then the more it all comes together as a project.” I sense that Paul is enjoying the process. Remarkably, he remains dismissive of his vocal talents, “I just hate singing. I hate singers as well, although I never classed myself as a singer.” He continues, “I’m just someone who puts tracks together to try and avoid getting a job.” But could Paul Draper now be considering a future as a solo artist? “I’m
just taking every day as it comes,” he demurs, “letting it unfold on its own.” Interestingly, Paul may play live again. He admits to considering, “Some very small shows – just a handful”. Fans will be delighted that any gigs will showcase, “The bulk of ‘Spooky Action’ with a couple of Mansun tracks.” On Mansun’s enduring appeal, Paul stresses that, “There was never a dip in interest – the fans have always been there.” He likens it to
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A MINI-GUIDE TO THE LEGACY OF MANSUN TAKE IT EASY CHICKEN
ansun’s debut single, released on their own Sci-Fi Hi-Fi Recordings label in September 1995, provided an urgent, visceral statement of intent. The demo impressed Louder Than War boss John Robb who subsequently conducted Mansun’s first ever interview. The single kicked off a bidding war between record labels for the band’s signature.
WIDE OPEN SPACE
lthough not their highest charting release, it is arguably Mansun’s best known song. It features Paul Draper’s signature falsetto and the video starred Martino Lazzeri from Hollyoaks, the fictional TV suburb based near Mansun’s hometown of Chester.
parody of The Beatles’ ‘Taxman’, ‘Taxloss’ appeared on Mansun’s first album, ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ and reached Number 15 in the UK singles chart in April 1997. Paul wrote the song after EMI had told him that Mansun weren’t going anywhere, advising him to break up the band so they could be written off as a tax loss. Draper refused to do so, composed the track as a riposte, and the album topped the chart. The video was directed by Roman Coppola and featured £25,000 in £5 notes (each with a ‘Taxlo$$’ sticker on it) being thrown from the balcony of Liverpool Street Station, causing chaos as commuters scrambled for the cash.
EVERYONE MUST WIN
-side to the 1997 stand alone single, ‘Closed For Business’, this is one of two tracks that Mansun wrote with Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks and Magazine, the latter being a particularly strong influence on Paul Draper on account of their groundbreaking mix of synths and guitars. This was a regular in Mansun’s blistering live set, and a seven-inch version recorded at Brixton Academy was given away to members of the group’s fan club at Christmas 1998.
M The Rocky Horror Picture Show; “Even though it was just a film from all those years ago, people still celebrate it and I think they will keep celebrating Mansun.” Indeed, fans are planning another convention in 2017, to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’. Paul jokes that he might do a Mick Fleetwood and “Get up with the tribute band.” Despite this, it remains unlikely that he’ll be getting up with the real Mansun; “I don’t have anything to do with [former lead guitarist Dominic] Chad,” he explains. “I don’t think Chad was into Mansun – I don’t think he liked the band – so he wouldn’t do it again.” For now, Paul is concentrating on his solo work, which he is working on full time. “I’ve just got to focus on doing my own thing,” he reasons. He adds that a label is interested in putting the album out, but there is also the possibility that he might, “Do what Thom Yorke did and put it out on BitTorrent or Bandcamp – and then maybe a vinyl release after that.” While ‘Spooky Action’ is still a way off completion, fans can be reassured that it is progressing well. The fact that it is progressing at all is reason enough to be cheerful. Bring on the spring!
ansun’s biggest hit single, ‘Legacy’ peaked at Number 7 in 1998 and was the first release from their majestic second album. With a gorgeous, catchy riff and poppy melody, this is the most accessible song on ‘Six’. Lyrically, Draper references the Marquis de Sade and writes contemplatively, reflecting a growing sense of disillusionment with life in the band.
WITNESS TO A MURDER (PART TWO)
his track was written by Mansun guitarist, Dominic Chad, and formed the interlude between parts One and Two of ‘Six’. It is a prime example of how out there this record is, with a monologue detailing the imagined murder of Stones guitarist Brian Jones set against operatic elements and lush instrumentation. Paul Draper’s childhood hero, former Doctor Who star Tom Baker, performs the monologue in a pre-Little Britain voiceover.
I CAN ONLY DISAPPOINT YOU
o-written by Draper and Chad, this was the lead single from ‘Little Kix’ and became the band’s fourth and final Top Ten hit. Poppy but brilliant, the lyrics are darker than the upbeat melody would suggest, referencing the ‘piggies’ that Charles Manson scrawled about in the blood of his victims. Mansun were originally known as ‘Manson’ before a threatened lawsuit from the convicted murderer’s representatives forced a name change.
SHOT BY BOTH SIDES
he only cover version that Mansun ever performed, their take on the Magazine track was recorded for John Peel’s Festive Fifty 25th anniversary special, broadcast in December 2000, and features Chad on lead vocals.
KEEP TELLING MYSELF
aul wrote this on 11 September 2001. It is one of the only fully finished tracks recorded for Mansun’s fourth album and Draper views it as one of the best songs he has ever written.
GOOD INTENTIONS HEAL THE SOUL
ntended as the final track on ‘Kleptomania’, this is one of Draper’s most personal and direct lyrics. The lines, ‘My good intentions heal my soul / The future is something precious’ provided a poignant valediction for Mansun’s fractious but fantastic career.
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Fergal Kinney digs into the past of MORRISSEY and explains how, in three short years and with three very different albums, he ignited his solo career.
HE Smiths, by the early-nineties, felt long dead. Morrissey had been quick to fire the starting gun on his own solo career – the chart-topping ‘Viva Hate’ was released some six months after the Smiths’ swansong ‘Strangeways Here We Come’ – a further four years would pass with no follow up. Though a great album in its own right, ‘Viva Hate’ only served to highlight the extent that Morrissey was still reliant on former Smiths personnel (the album was co-written with Smiths producer Stephen Street) and marking little exodus from Smiths’ sonic palette. By the beginning of 1991, Stephen Street had fallen out of Morrissey’s favour, and ideas were thin on the ground. The changing face of British music did little to help the erstwhile Smiths’ singer’s predicament – the scene over which Morrissey had once reigned supreme had undergone quite profound change in the years since ‘Viva Hate’. Introspective indie bands of the Smiths’ ilk like the Wedding Present had been duly shelved in the wake of the boom produced by the advent of ecstasy, acid house and the ensuing youth culture tidal wave. Adding salt to a particularly public wound, Johnny Marr had found himself blending seamlessly into this new shift whilst Morrissey was, in his own words, “the person outside the gates with arms folded”. Morrissey found the movement “tame”, “non-revolutionary” and at odds with the pop aesthetics he held close. And whilst ‘Viva Hate’ had indeed proved a triumph, the string of singles that followed came in for an undeserved panning by the press (these would make up the now acclaimed ‘Bona Drag’ compilation) and something of a consensus had former that Morrissey was offering something peculiarly lightweight compared to not just his Manchester contemporaries but his own back catalogue. Johnny Marr had provided not just a virtuoso songwriting partner but a muse and source of great energy; cut adrift, where was Morrissey now left? 1991 saw Morrissey five years on from ‘The Queen Is Dead’, and in dire need of re-asserting his powers. By anyone’s estimation, ‘Kill Uncle’ was not the record to do this. Around the time of recording, Morrissey was introduced for the first time to his childhood hero David Bowie, backstage at a concert in Manchester, who was forthright in his advice to Morrissey: “you have to jump back and attack”. Indeed, ‘Kill Uncle’ could be compared to one of Bowie’s own career curveballs, though perhaps more in the mould of ‘Tin Machine’ than any of his more successful reinventions. Esoteric and often experimental whilst simultaneously under-inspired and weary, ‘Kill Uncle’ could well have been the album that finally choked off Morrissey’s fledgling solo career. Co-written with Fairground Attraction’s Mark Nevin, who Morrissey confessed to know little about, and produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley – of Madness, Dexy’s and Elvis Costello fame – ‘Kill Uncle’ would scrape into the Top 10 and depart with urgency after much critical derision
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he album was damned as fragmented and disappointing; Morrissey too later joined the criticism of the record, describing it as “slightly pallid”, “substandard” and offering that he should be “rightly hanged on a hook through the tongue” if ever was he to release something similar. The genesis of how Morrissey would save his career, however, lies wholly in this record. Whilst large elements of the album justify the criticism with which ‘Kill Uncle’ was met – though perhaps not the vitriol – the record still contains unquestionable Morrissey gems. Lead single ‘Our Frank’ (at the time dubbed ‘Alf Wank’ by one Johnny Marr) is one such moment, balancing a playfulness of tone with genuine despair about the fate of the world and those who insist on talking about it. “Frankly vulgar red pullovers” are berated, drinks and cigarettes are ordered in characteristically un-Morrissey fashion and the track ends in a paranoid swell of Morrissey’s refrain “Won’t somebody stop me from thinking all the time?” – ‘Our Frank’ is one of the real successes of Langer and Winstanley’s ambitiously experimental production on this record. Equally, the rockabilly flavours of ‘Sing Your Life’ set the sonic template for future single ‘Pregnant for the Last Time’ whilst proving one of Morrissey’s most direct manifestos and professions of intent. A lasting bone of contention with the record for many is in the production, criticised in turns as lightweight, twee and – from co-writer Mark Nevin – “lacking middle”. Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley’s previous production duties had proved some of the 1980’s most acclaimed hits, from Dexy’s infamous ‘Come On Eileen’ to Elvis Costello’s sublime ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ and the Madness classic ‘Our House’. All sharp, intelligent pop tracks with huge crossover appeal and a fine commercial ear; a quality certainly lacking throughout much of ‘Kill Uncle’. Some have found the roots of ‘Kill Uncle’ in Morrissey’s love for the esoteric, dynamic pop of Sparks (indeed, Langer was formerly of much underrated Liverpool art rock outfit Deaf School who owed more than a little to Sparks), and some have compared the album to Sir John Betjeman’s fantastic albums of musicaccompanied poetry, ‘Varsity Rag’ and ‘Banana Blush’. Clive Langer has since suggested – not without justification – that the material given on ‘Kill Uncle’ was not as strong as the only work he and Winstanley had previously worked on with Morrissey, the fiercely Madnessesque ‘Piccadilly Palare’ and the seminal ‘November Spawned a Monster’. It can be argued that the critical panning of ‘Kill Uncle’ would encourage a certain hesitancy and conservatism in Morrissey’s output, though it must be THE SMITHS noted that 1995’s criminally
overlooked ‘Southpaw Grammar’ contains some of Morrissey’s inspired and successful experimentations that delve almost into the territory of prog rock.
eflecting on ‘Kill Uncle’, Morrissey would later confess that its recording was marred by what was privately a dark and difficult period for him. In the midst of darkness, Morrissey here retreats to the easy territory of the abstract and often pithy, but when the mask occasionally slips it provides some of the most painfully exposed moments of his back catalogue. Whilst deceptively superficial on the surface, ‘Found Found Found’ sees Morrissey becoming the subject of his own notoriously acerbic eye for criticism, a portrait of a person whose inability to receive affection being the only thing greater than their ability to find it. Closing track ‘There’s a Place In Hell For Me and My Friends’ is quite unlike anything else in the Morrissey canon. A haunting, understated torch song arranged with a naked sparseness, Morrissey’s vocal achieves maximum heartbreak without straying from an almost lilting, whisper. What often goes unrealised about Morrissey is that whilst he stands as one of pop’s most inventive and affecting lyricists, the measured idiosyncrasies and dynamics of his delivery are incredibly important. Forget ‘Viva Hate’, this is when Morrissey really puts the legacy of the Smiths to bed and is able to finally face forward. And face forward he would do. Since the Smiths’ final concert in Brixton, Morrissey had performed just one gig in the
Christmas of 1988, his band still comprising mostly of ex-Smiths and running through a brisk set list made up almost solely from ‘Viva Hate’ and ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ tracks. By 1991, Morrissey was aiming to put a new band together to tour ‘Kill Uncle’. It would be in this search that the course of Morrissey’s career would be changed irrevocably through one chance meeting. Guitarist Boz Boorer was invited to guest on ‘Pregnant for the Last Time’ with Mark Nevin to provide the authentic rockabilly touch he had brought to his former band the Polecats, and Morrissey was impressed. Soon after, Morrissey contacted the 29 year old Boz Boorer requesting he put a band together for an imminent tour. Amongst those drafted up by Boz for the ‘Kill Uncle’ tour was Alain Whyte, a fellow rockabilly gunslinger of more tender years who had also briefly guested on ‘Pregnant for the Last Time’, perhaps however with less success – his sole offering of a harmonica part was shelved from the release and Morrissey left apparently unimpressed by his constant nervous chatting. The ‘Kill Uncle’ touring band – consisting of Boorer, Whyte, bassist Gary Day and drummer Spencer Cobrin – would bring an energy, a look and a gang aesthetic that Morrissey had been craving since the split of the Smiths, and the tour would stretch from April 1991 to November almost without pause. Particularly in the US, the audience response would carry an almost Beatlemania air of hysteria as Morrissey would flail across the stage in what proved to be highly spirited affairs.
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specially in the US, the audience response would be of almost Beatlemania proportions, one member of the tour personnel would later comment that the intensity and spirit of these shows almost verged on the dangerous, explaining “it’s as though he was burning too brightly”. At the time – another symbol of his growing confidence in moving away from the cultural landscape of the Smiths – Morrissey was flirting with an image and sounds at odds from his previous fixations of 70’s New York punk and 1960’s British kitchen sink literature. Clad in Dr Martens, cropped jeans and Levi’s jackets, Morrissey was only half-joking when he would refer to himself in promotional material as ‘the British mod sophisticate’. Clearly enjoying the chance to challenge perceptions, Morrissey was becoming enamoured with the skinhead look and began covering songs by bands like the Jam and the shortlived Blackburn band Bradford, known for their sub-skinhead appearance. Though fresh from the weakest album of his back catalogue, there were finally reasons to be cheerful for Morrissey at the end of a year that had begun in such creative drought. Having finally broken his post-Smiths near exile from the stage, Morrissey found himself in possession of not just a thundering band of London rockabilly toughs but of two uniquely gifted songwriters in Boorer and Whyte. Co-written mostly with Whyte, Morrissey’s first album with this new band, 1992’s ‘Your Arsenal’ would become one of the most praised albums in the Morrissey canon and certainly the album that would mark Morrissey’s arrival as a fully formed solo artist outside of the Smiths’ long shadow. Defiant, stomping and not shy of controversy, the best moments of ‘Your Arsenal’ are amongst the best moments of Morrissey’s career.
Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson that would give the album the bite and depth that had so far been absent from Morrissey’s solo output. Northern, glamorous, a Spider from Mars and a bruiser from Hull; Ronson’s contributions as arranger and songwriter (often unaccredited) with Bowie and on Lou Reed’s seminal ‘Transformer’ album were the work of a virtuoso, and the expert flourishes of Ronson as a producer and arranger are as evident in ‘Your Arsenal’ as they are in any of his work, bringing out a guttural aggression in Morrissey’s band that would be a staple of much of his later solo work. “Mick had zero ego and cared only for the common good”, Morrissey explained to Uncut in 2013, “his only instinct was to save all of us from the snake pit. There wasn’t a single moment when Mick wasn’t patient and understanding”. From the first swell of guitars on album opener ‘You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side’, it’s obvious that business as usual for Morrissey this is not. The nine-parts- ‘Jean Genie’ stomp of ‘Glamorous Glue’ is complete with wailing feedback, guitar solos and a low in the mix spoken recital of the chorus of Frankie Valli’s ‘To Give (Is the Reason I Live)’. The Jam influence would become stark on the album’s two top twenty singles ‘We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful’ and ‘You’re the One For Me, Fatty’ (itself ‘Saturdays Kids’ by the Jam dipped in glam). The release of ‘Your Arsenal’ would be dogged by a controversy that Morrissey would find forever hard to shake off, regarding one of the album’s strongest tracks – ‘The National Front Disco’. Though the song itself raised a few eyebrows (when Morrissey presented the lyrics to Alain Whyte he warned, “you’re not going to like this one”), there was little in it to suggest the song promoted any racist ideology.
“It’s as though he was burning too brightly.”
tched into the run out groove of the Smiths’ single ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ was the maxim “talent borrows, genius steals”, an Oscar Wilde quip that goes some way to explaining the more light fingered moments on this album – indeed, ‘Certain People I Know’ is a wholesale cribbing of T-Rex’s ‘Ride a White Swan’, whilst ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ descends into the coda from Bowie’s ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ with heartbreaking effect. Though Morrissey’s newly formed band were assembled from the North London rockabilly circuit, glam rock would provide the key touchstone on ‘Your Arsenal’. By way of musical and lyrical inspiration, ‘Your Arsenal’ couldn’t have been more indebted to early seventies Britain if it was going out on strike in platform boots, and it would be one British seventies icon in the form of former
s a character study of a young working class male defecting to fascism, Morrissey’s quoting of the NF slogan ‘England for the English’ is sung in a markedly mocking tone, as too is his interrogation to the protagonist of whether ‘the thunder is ever really gonna begin’. Alas, Morrissey’s somewhat surprising appearance at Madness’ ‘Madstock’ festival in which he at one point flailed a union jack flag, and sang against a backdrop photograph of two skinheads, led to charges of ‘flirting with fascism’ from the same paper that was once dubbed ‘the New Morrissey Express’ for its once unfaltering support of the former Smiths singer. The allegations of racism, once aired, would never quite fade for the Smiths singer, despite the air of wilful misinterpretation that surrounded the NME’s reading of ‘The National Front Disco’. It would be over a decade before Morrissey would speak to the NME again. Morrissey’s affection for skinhead imagery at the time can be viewed as in much the same vein
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MORRISSEY as his fondness for English eccentrics like Edith Sitwell, or his fondness for the Carry Ons (from which the album’s double entendre title could quite easily have stemmed). Indeed, Morrissey’s observations on England are at their sharpest on ‘Your Arsenal’ – the tongue in cheek “we don’t vote Conservative because we never have, everyone lies” of ‘Glamorous Glue’ came months after the British electorate confounded consistent polling and gifted the Tories a surprise election win over Labour (sound familiar?). Likewise, on the same track Morrissey declares ‘London is dead’ – whilst increasingly (and especially on the album that would follow) his lyrics would reference London in much the same way they were rooted in Manchester during the Smiths, and shortly after the album’s release Morrissey was found to have moved to Camden. Though ‘Your Arsenal’ may have marked the point when Morrissey’s relationship with Britain (and its press) began to sever, ‘Your Arsenal’ would cement his increasing stature in the US and earn him a Grammy nomination as well as significant radio play. It isn’t all Chicory Tip and Dr Martens however, ‘Your Arsenal’ at times provides a sonically clever listen with shades of experimentation often ignored in assessment of Morrissey – not for nothing did David Bowie cover ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ on his 1993 album ‘Black Tie White Noise’. ‘We’ll Let You Know’ is ambitious, expansive and gets its best trick in last as Morrissey dulcetly intones about being ‘the last truly British people you’ll ever know’ amidst a fading taunt of penny whistles and distant military drums. Whilst crippling solitude and isolation may not be new lyrical terrain for Morrissey, on the ethereal late night waltz of ‘Seasick, Yet Still Docked’ they have never before had a musical accompaniment quite so intense and fitting.
hortly after the release of ‘Your Arsenal’, with his career finally on its most secure footing since the Smiths, and outperforming the success of the Smiths in the US, tragedy would strike. “Four people sat in the same room discussing exciting plans for the year ahead,” recounted Morrissey in his autobiography: “Only I remain alive one year on”. In April 1993 after a short battle with liver cancer, Mick Ronson died aged 49. Morrissey was too upset to attend Ronson’s funeral in May, and shortly after this his manager Nigel Thomas would die, as would his trusted longserving video director and friend Tim Broad. With his back against the wall once more, and severely bereft by the loss of so much of his devoted team, Morrissey spent June, July and August of 1993 at Hook End Manor studios in Oxfordshire, recording what would become his masterpiece. ‘Vauxhall and I’ isn’t Morrissey’s best solo album – it’s his best ever album. Forget ‘The Queen is Dead’ or ‘Viva Hate’– on ‘Vauxhall and I’ Morrissey did just that. Everything about the album is Morrissey defenestrating his past – even the album sleeve. Face unshaven and shirt unbuttoned, for the first time Morrissey looks his full thirty-five years, and older still. “There’s gonna be some trouble”, he gravely intones at the beginning of the album, and he’s
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not wrong. Like the best of opening tracks, ‘Now My Heart is Full’ continues to permeate every track that follows it, seeping a grand melancholy that refuses to cease until the final crashing drums of album closer ‘Speedway’. As the shimmering wooziness of ‘Now My Heart is Full’ soars into full-blown anthemia, Morrissey delivers the crucial line “I just can’t explain, so I won’t even try to”: after a decade as pop’s most articulate songsmith, this admission makes it known that business as usual this is not. ‘Vauxhall and I’ has its fair share of venom – the seething ‘Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself’ is a masterstroke in brutal beauty – but it’s resigned admissions such as this that so often anchor Morrissey emotionally in places other artists struggle to reach even once. Drenched in almost shoegaze levels of reverb, ‘Now My Heart is Full’ is a swift and stark departure from the guttural glam of ‘Your Arsenal’. Indeed, only ‘Spring-Heeled Jim’ and ‘Billy Budd’ act as a bridge between ‘Arsenal’ and ‘Vauxhall’, and even these are more sinister and unsettling than
‘Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning’ put paid to quite how apart ‘Vauxhall and I’ stands from Morrissey’s work before it, and the best of Morrissey’s post-’Vauxhall...’ work has directly channelled this. The album shares much with R.E.M’s ‘Automatic for the People’ – released two years before with a similar stylistic break from its more typically indie predecessors, and with a similar resigned, late night feel. This baton would itself be passed onto one Thom Yorke, who remarked that ‘Vauxhall and I’ was “all over ‘The Bends’”. In three short years, across three very different albums, Morrissey had re-established his reputation of one of British pop’s most crucial songwriters and enigmatic performers, forged the
“There’s gonna be some trouble...” anything seen previously. At the time, many critics observed an address in ‘Billy Budd’ to the song’s protagonist that “now it’s twelve years on” – a curious line given ‘Vauxhall and I’ came precisely twelve years since Morrissey met Johnny Marr and formed the Smiths. Much of ‘Vauxhall and I’, it seems, is the exorcising of demons – the enigmatic ‘Used to be a Sweet Boy’ offers glimpses of a past filled with regret and parental disappointment, whilst equally ambiguous are the coded confessions at the end of ‘Speedway’ – “All of the rumours keeping me grounded, I never said they were completely unfounded”. For some, this was read as a nod in the direction of Jake Walters, widely understood as the album’s muse. Vauxhall-born Walters, receiving a “very special thanks” in the album liner notes, was Morrissey’s assistant and housemate whilst ‘Vauxhall and I’ was being recorded, and only with last year’s autobiography did Morrissey offer some confirmation to the speculation.
orrissey’s brief to album producer Steve Lilywhite was that ‘Vauxhall and I’ was not to be ‘an indie album´ - the gorgeously layered ‘Hold Onto Your Friends’ and the whispering
kind of success in the US that had continually eluded the Smiths, and found two songwriters with whom he would go on to endure longer than his partnership with Johnny Marr – Alain Whyte continued to write for Morrissey until 2009’s ‘Years of Refusal’, whilst Boz Boorer continues to be Morrissey’s primary songwriter and guitarist. Morrissey’s observation that ‘Vauxhall and I’ was an “end-of-reign” album is notable; released in an exceptionally fertile summer for British music in the same summer as ‘Parklife’, ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘the Holy Bible’, ‘Vauxhall and I’ was a tacit farewell to Morrissey’s domination of British guitar music as a new generation (mostly Smiths disciples themselves) were to set alight the pages of NME and Melody Maker in much the same way as his younger self. ‘Vauxhall and I’ remains a staggeringly beautiful record; a man at the peak of his powers grappling with an uncertain future and an equally uncertain past. In 1985 Morrissey sang about “the fierce last stand of all I am”, but in 1994 he finally recorded it. ‘‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business’ is out now on Virgin EMI Morrissey tours the UK in September
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Liverpudlian trio STEALING SHEEP have created something extraordinary with new album ‘Not Real’. As they gear up to bring its psych folk zing to the masses throughout the year, James Sharples has a word with multi-instrumentalists Emily, Becky and Lucy at Beat-Herder festival.
E wanted to be millionaires and we wanted to fly to the moon!” laughs Emily, one third of Liverpoolbased psychedelic folk art collective Stealing Sheep when asked why, in the face of what some taste-makers will have you believe is the dying embers of the time of music as ‘a career’, she wants to ‘do’ music. It’s a surprisingly sunny evening at the BeatHerder festival, the Ribble Valley three-day jolly that sees the likes of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Basement Jaxx and Leftfield sharing a bill with up-and-comers like Only Real and Wyles & Simpson in the middle of a site that’s part church fete, part farm and part pop-up village. Rammed stages and good vibes. On a day like this, why not ‘do’ music? For a more serious answer, Becky offers: “We met each other and loved playing music together. What better way to spend your time than to be with lovely people and make tunes and videos and artwork?” Lucy adds: “Just doing loads of mad, creative stuff with all your mates is boss.” With the trio shivering slightly with pre-gig energy, talk turns to festivals, with the trio also recently playing at London’s Field Day. “You get loads of different vibes from loads of different people,” says Becky: “At each festival there’s a
beat and we’ll all jam on it or somebody will different atmosphere to absorb...” “It’s more bring in a fully-formed song and we just put likely that people are just going to stumble our own bits in it. We try and change it around into the tent and just discover you as well,” as much as possible so that it stays fresh and so interjects Lucy: “ It’s not like they’ve bought there’s no ‘formula’. Otherwise you just create the a ticket specifically because they’ve heard same thing again. We’re always trying to find a about you. I think it’s great being an audience different approach.” member as well and just getting to see loads With that in mind, how do Stealing Sheep tell of new bands that you wouldn’t normally see.” when a song is finished? “You get to show them your new thing,” adds “Because it’ll be when the deadline is and Emily: “You find things that you didn’t know existed and your eyes are opened to new things. we have to give it to the label,” laughs Lucy, I think you’re in a different kind of state when as Becky adds: “We make our own deadlines you’re at a festival and you’re just more open to as well because we want to nail it. Nothing’s absorbing information and good vibes. It’s like ever really finished until we’re like ‘Right, a big party that everybody can be involved in. we’ve got something else we want to do’. It’s It’s quite nice for that.” like accepting that the song is what it is and Releasing that each song is an sophomore album evolution to the next ‘Not Real’ in April, thing that you do.” the follow-up to With the interview 2012’s ‘Into The running full circle, Emily Diamond Sun’ is says: “I’ll tell you what a sonic revelation. keeps us doing this. Shards of elasticated We’re always thinking post-rock, strident of new things to do and indie rock and late new ways of showing ‘90s Polyvinyl Records our artwork and rather era emo splinter than just doing song, under a weight of song, song, we like to Emily offbeat percussion, try different ways of shimmering melodies playing, different ideas... and avant garde We did a recent project weirdness. Rather than sub-Dylan open mic called ‘Legs’ where we had loads of people night bothering, ‘Not Real’ is folk beamed down dancing to a rave set that we did... We’re always from space rather than unearthed in the hills trying new things so that we’re not getting and dales of merry olde England. bored of it. We’ve got a fruity cornucopia of “There’s always a different way of going things that we can crack on with.” about songwriting,” says Becky on the creation of the album and the modus operandi of the ‘Not Real’ is out now on Heavenly band: “Sometimes somebody will bring in a Stealing Sheep tour the UK in December
“WE’VE GOT A FRUITY CORNUCOPIA OF THINGS...”
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Psychedelic music spawned under drug-fuelled kaleidoscope in the ‘60s has evolved and mutated since to become a multi-headed tripping beast. John Robb takes a close look at how psych began and has since permeated into almost all facets of modern music.
LL great music is twisted with that strange groove that takes you somewhere else, the whiff of strangeness and charm that leads you astray. There have been many periods when the going’s got weird – notably in the late ‘60s when pop music went paisley and the Beatles made the most psychedelic records of all time. Of course the ‘60s is well documented, with the world’s biggest band seriously out of it and Syd Barrett’s brief few months at the top in 1967 with Pink Floyd taking pop to its limits, becoming the pied piper of the new wonderland before the chemicals pulled him back down again. The psychedelic era was brief – how could it not be? The chemicals take it out of you and border-free music is exhausting to create. However, its spirit carried on through prog rock, with stand out albums like the motorik grooves of krautrock, ‘Fragile’ by Yes, early Genesis and, of course, Hawkwind and Gong. Even T-Rex’s quirky pop saw Bolan carry the spirit of Syd to the top of the charts. Punk may have pretended to be anti-hippie but with both the Sex Pistols and The Damned attempting to get Syd Barrett to produce them and the Stranglers being dubbed ‘The Punk Floyd’, its spirit was still very much there. The
late ‘70s post-punk era saw similar explorations in sound that partly led to the neo-psychedelia of that era, like the brilliant Echo And The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and the wonky edges of the The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and even the Cramps at their best. Creation Records was one of the many labels to grasp the ‘60s and the ‘80s with a lysergic rattling guitar DIY SUNN O))) that spawned the Jesus And Mary Chain and laid the bedrock for first the explorations of Loop and Spacemen 3 and then the Stone Roses but in the last four years it has flowered into and the Happy Mondays. Late ‘80s acid house something quite remarkable. Led by the irascible was quite definitely a trip and the guitar bands Jeff Barrett, the label has a great ear for cutting followed suit. In the last few years there has edge bands and has picked up some varied music been a strange hue around a disparate bunch of in the past couple of years, with groups like Toy underground musics that makes it arguably yet and Temples as leading lights in the skinny youth another second age of psychedelia. making twisted music scenario. This is a 21st century trip: the The Horrors come from Southend and subvert twisted nuances of post-punk, leftfield their tatty seaside town background with their strangeness, the fringes of black metal, current stripped down, hypnotic grooves. Initially the whimsical shades at the edge of they were an angular garage band with a twist of nu-folk and indie and many other early Birthday Party, Gallon Drunk and mid ‘90s different strands getting strange in UK noisenik action to their short, sharp shocks strange times. of sound. This period has been edited from their Everywhere you look there is a lineage, which is a shame because it stands the colouring in of the monochrome test of time, but they found real success when narrative. they embraced riff repetition, their songs now Heavenly Records has been one of the sleek things of linear beauty that still trip out to leading UK indie labels for years now, the mantra of one-chord hypnosis.
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ECHO & THE BUNNY MEN
his melodic anthems before running aground when the boss went back to his everyman rock approach. Their own GRINDERMAN music is long mantras and collages of Liverpool’s legendary pysch festival perfectly brilliance and a perfect example of a very modern captures the new underground mood and has trip. Gonja Sufi manages to cram every type of been a key driver in the past few years, sparking strangeness into hi-dreadlocked post-apocalyptic many bands and also spawning many copycat hip hop whilst one of his producers, Flying Lotus, festivals or stages at bigger events. is beyond barriers with electronic genius. Even the old guard are getting weird – Nick or young bands it’s not only the future Cave on his recent Grinderman side-project took that is now but the past as well. It’s this the literate blues of his work and stained it with delving into the past that is so typical a fairground weirdness, like a 21st century version of the iPod generation. ‘60s psych, ‘70s of the Doors. krautrock and the much-maligned prog Modern psychedelia is not an obvious rock are all now being re-examined for sonic DNA psychedelia – Einsturzende Neubauten are not, of and influences. Add to this post-punk and the course, psychedelia but there is something quite adventures of dub and you have a very different fantastically strange about last year’s ‘Lament’ menu than that of old. album that went beyond any rules and told the Taking advantage of all this space to operate in, story of World War One. Dead Skeletons from Iceland appear at the other Australia’s Tame Impala are becoming huge end of the ether, with their pulsing neo-electronic festival favourites and their molten twisting and darklands music that sounds like Jesus And Mary turning music is now huge and the vanguard Chain jamming with Suicide. for the new guitar pop weird – their new album Italy’s Argonauta Records has been releasing an took their earlier explorations and has somehow endless list of fantastically strange local Italian morphed into day-glo dance pop. bands that come from all areas of the musical Everywhere you look on the underground these spectrum, from black metal to rock to indie, but days, the wood work squeaks and out come the add sitars and drone to their music to really move freaks. into trance-like mantras. For the past three years it’s been prevalent. Black metal has extended to some bizarre Beyond the fringe there is an engaging fringes, with the experimentation and wonderment, exploration and weirdness. The instrumentation of Wardruna, The Shining and mainstream gets more controlled and boring Ulver. Drone has been a key byword in the past whilst the underground goes quietly insane... few years and Sunn O))) and Earth are two bands would we want it any other way? who have rewritten the rulebook, their music stripping rock back to its bare bones. It now seems that everywhere you turn, all the best music has got that peppermint twist to it and that somehow we have entered a new trip era without even noticing. All manner of mavericks are lacing their music with a sulphuric acid, from the electronica-like Aphex Twin and other modulating pioneers like Autechre making the machines trip. Formerly The Future Sound Of London, The Amorphous Androgynous worked with Noel Gallagher on his THE HORRORS second solo album, deconstructing
NOW TRIP TO THIS! A tailor-made mixtape to flex your head.
APHEX TWIN – AVRIL 14TH GRINDERMAN – KITCHENETTE EARTH – ROOKS ACROSS THE GATE RICHARD DAWSON – THE VILE STUFF HOOKWORMS – FORM AND FUNCTION TAME IMPALA – PAST LIFE TEMPLES – SUN STRUCTURES TOY – COLOURS RUNNING OUT SUNN O))) – CANDLEGOAT DEAD SKELETONS – DEAD MANTRA WARDRUNA - FEHU ULVER – DRESSED IN BLACK NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – AKA... WHAT A LIFE! (TAA REMIX) MOON DUO – NIGHT BEAT THE HORRORS – CHANGING THE RAIN ZUN ZUN EGUI – RUBY PANDA BEAR – MR NOAH VALET – CLOUDS DOLDRUMS – INDUSTRY CITY
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PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
With the release of sophomore album ‘The Race For Space’, PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING have used John F Kennedy, celebratory funk, lush soundscapes and an “old school” way of working to flip the internet-guided music industry on its head. James Sharples finds out how it happened and where the duo go from here.
T was kind of a happy accident really,” remembers J. Willgoose Esq (guitar/banjo/sampling/electronics): I’d been mucking about with various styles and various genres of music, just recording bits and bobs at home for my own amusement. I just happened to come across a Radio 4 documentary which was talking about some BFI material which was being released online for the first time and I thought it might have some good samples that I could sprinkle over some otherwise instrumental tracks and give it a bit of character that it might not otherwise have had. It’s grown from there really – it’s remarkable to see how far it’s come.” And come far it has, with the duo’s (Public Service Broadcasting is completed by Wrigglesworth on drums and piano) progressive approach to music – working as if conducting a scientific experiment rather than the standard ‘album’ approach and learning from their material as they go – seeing them garnering awards nominations and festival spots as a result of their two albums, ‘Inform-Educate-Entertain’ (2013) and ‘The Race For Space’ (2015). And that’s not to mention chart performance, with ‘Inform...’ narrowly missing the Top 20 and ‘The Race For Space’ hitting no.11 in the UK charts. “I always say I’m genuinely surprised by it but I genuinely am,” says J: I remember in the very early days talking to my dad about it – he’s a very big fan of course because he’s my dad – he said ‘What would you do if this took off and you had to take it professional?’ and I said ‘That’s never ever going to happen! It’s so niche and so sort of eccentric and weird and those things are going to prevent it from reaching any sort of mass appeal that would mean you could do it as a going concern’. I was very happy to be wrong on that. In a way it was the oddness and difference of it that pricked people’s ears up when it started getting played on the radio. I think people have been drawn in by some of the charm of it and the odd way we present ourselves live.”
It’s interesting that, for all the conditioning that we’ve received in recent years from various talking heads on TV and opinion pieces in the papers on the dominance of downloads, the importance of the internet and the ‘fact’ that bands only make money from touring, Public Service Broadcasting seem to be doing pretty damn well for themselves by doing the opposite of that. “I think the internet is overestimated a bit.
There are ways of building things online and getting people in but we’ve seen that, wherever we’ve gone in the world, radio is still the number one thing. It’s massively important,” says J: “I think we’re quite old school anyway – and I don’t just mean because we use black and white footage. We sell more physical records, vinyl, compared to downloads, by a long way. We spend a lot of money on tour production, like building our own LED Sputniks that rise
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PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
going through it, the stuff that’s good jumps out at you. There is obviously a lot work behind it and a lot of thought but I think we’ve got it easier.”
over the stage. We’ve kind of done alright from selling records. It’s what you’re told nowadays and even my friends on Facebook say ‘Bands only make money from touring these days’ and I want to put my hand up and say ‘Well, not necessarily’.” It’s an attitude that, in a way, sits slightly at odds with the duo’s approach to writing and recording music, their way of working more futuristic than traditional. For an instrumental
band hunting down samples to layer over and drive the material, it’s far removed from the standard singer-adds-vocals approach. “I think in a way what we do (compared to more traditional bands) is a little easier,” says J: “If you know what you’re doing, it’s like being really good at searching the internet or something. It’s not as difficult as almost being a poet. I kind of go on what I find. Getting to what you want is the hardest. When you’re
ocusing on the battle between America and the-then Soviet Union to reach the stars first, ‘The Race For Space’ is a compelling recording, from the goosebumps-inducing of the opening title track (complete with JFK’s historic speech) to the astral funk of ‘Gagarin’ to the sense of wonder that ‘E.V.A.’ evokes (themed around the first spacewalk). Dig deeper than the surface and you’ll find an album that yields unexpected results with each listen. “I think it helped that it was basically written in the order of start to finish,” reveals J: “I knew where I wanted the ups and downs and the direction I wanted it to go in. It’s definitely not chronological, there’s big leaps in time and we’ve taken several liberties with history but that was important to me. It was never supposed to be a case of ‘Here’s a history of what happened in the space race’. It’s an interpretation of it. “There are a lot of things that people are perhaps picking up subconsciously, like reoccurring melodies. For example, there’s a part of ‘Gagarin’ that pops up in ‘Fire In The Cockpit’ and then again in the ending of ‘Tomorrow’. There’s all kinds of echoes running through it. These were all done deliberately in a pseudo John Williams kind of way.” Currently preparing for the biggest venues of their careers with their upcoming November run (plus a set at Rockaway Beach Festival on the 10th of October) of the Race For Space Autumn Tour (which also sees a headlining show at London’s Brixton Academy), J explains that it will more than likely serve as a fitting end to their current concept: “We’re probably putting together one B-side for towards the end of the year, just to have another song to throw into the live set to keep things interesting. It will probably be a bit of a full stop to the space period of what we’re doing. I think we’ve got to keep moving really. “I’ve already started the research for the next thing. I’ve got some pretty specific ideas. I want to change a few things about the way we work and there’s so many different strands in my head to pull together that it’s a bit daunting to even start to think about it. “At the moment I’m just reading loads of books and trying to get background information. We’ve done a lot of big stuff and it’d be nice to do something a bit more focused, more of a human story. It’s definitely going to be closely themed again as I like working that way. We’re going to keep it very much under our hats although we’ll maybe drop a couple of cheeky red herrings here and there...”
‘The Race For Space’ is out now on Test Card Recordings Public Service Broadcasting tour the UK in November
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The great names in experimental synthesizer soundtrack rock – Goblin, John Carpenter, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream – all evoke the visual, whether you’re thinking of those wonderfully shot scenes from ‘Blade Runner’, the gruesome horror of a zombie flick or just listening to their music on LP conjuring your own imagery inside your head. Now add to that list ZOMBI. Starting out as a homage to these film-scoring greats, the duo of Steve Moore and Antony Paterra are about to release their fifth album ‘Shape Shift’. Louise Brown found out more.
E began playing as Zombi in Pittsburgh around Summer of 2001,” bassist Moore tells us, taking us back to the band’s inception: “At the time Tony was playing drums for a band called The 1985 and I was playing bass and shouting in Microwaves – both sort of no-wave/postpunk bands. The first time Tony and I jammed together I played saxophone and we did a freeimprov freakout thing. It was not good. “We weren’t single-mindedly focused on the John Carpenter/Goblin sound, I always thought of us more as a math-rock band that grew up on pop-prog and Tangerine Dream film scores. Or like the band version of a Marvel ‘What If...’ comic in which David Lee Roth never joined Van Halen and Eddie only played synthesizers.” Fifteen years before bands like Van Halen, Styx and Toto were deemed as retro-cool, Zombi were already hailing their AOR heroes as inspiration beyond the soundtrack kings that informed both their name and compositional style. “At the time people weren’t really flying the flag for AOR prog rock or John Carpenter soundtracks,” Moore moans: “But back then a lot of the bands in the DIY/punk scene had this
physically confrontational vibe. I think in a way for Jan Hammer, Tangerine Dream and Harold I wanted to take this confrontational stance, but Faltermeyer could have lead the musical Moore to turn to the burgeoning electronic music scene, instead of trying to play a thousand notes per second I thought it would be more fun to make but it was punk rock that first turned his head. “I don’t necessarily dislike techno,” he admits: music heavily inspired by stuff like Mr. Mister – music that I genuinely loved but would, in most “I just don’t really listen to it. There are elements of techno and dance music that I really like, but cases, make the ultimately it’s crafted for a specific experience burgeoning hipster audiences cringe. “I think Sheila E’s ‘Glamorous Life’ was the first that I do not enjoy – dancing. In the ‘90s I was more interested in playing in abrasive rock/noise song I heard and thought ‘Man, I want to do that’,” he continues of his early music inspiration. bands. But even when I was doing that stuff I was always recording “It was the sax solo music on my own. I that did it. That song had a 4-track recorder came out right around and an Ensoniq VFXthe time I started SD and I have tapes taking saxophone and tapes of recordings lessons. At the same I made throughout the time I was obsessed ‘90s, but it was really with Herbie Hancock’s Steve Moore just for fun. The idea ‘Future Shock’ and Jan of making synthesizer Hammer’s ‘Miami Vice’ music on my own, soundtrack, and I had at that point, was a lot less appealing than a Casio SK-5 that I used to play endlessly, figuring out the melodies to stuff like drunkenly venting my frustrations in front ‘Axel F’.” of a bunch of drunk friends. Not classically trained (“My parents tried to “Before that my main project was a longget me to take piano lessons but I didn’t have running experimental noise band called Lumb, the attention span for it), his youthful adoration which I started in college. Sometimes it would
“We kind of lost the plot...”
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be a saxophone improv, sometimes it would just be me making shrieking microphone feedback through an old Peavey bass amp with my buddy Jeff Gretz [also of Zao, From Autumn To Ashes]. Our purpose was to ruin good times.” And so to Zombi, the band play sporadically, but when they do the auditoriums are heaving. Will ‘Shape Shift’ perhaps elicit a more active touring schedule? “We never wanted to be thought of as a ‘couple guys with synthesizers’ type band, which is why those early albums had such a heavy emphasis on Tony’s spectacular live drumming and my bass, but we kind of lost the plot,” says Moore: “We quit touring in the spring of 2007 and only did a dozen or so shows over the next five years. I don’t think we saw each other at all during the recording of our next two albums, ‘Spirit Animal’ and ‘Escape Velocity’, we just exchanged files via email. It wasn’t the ideal setup. We used it to our advantage though and wrote songs that we couldn’t if we were writing with live performance in mind. “Ironically, this is when a larger number of people started finding out about Zombi, and it was obvious to us that those just tuning in were maybe getting the wrong idea. We didn’t play any shows again until 2013 when we got the offer to tour as direct support for Goblin. This shocked us
back into life. It inspired us to go back to the way we used to do it. So instead of emailing ideas back and forth, Tony would come visit and we’d jam full volume in my basement and it was awesome. So the new album is a return to form. When you see us play it’ll make sense.” The buzzword in current musical criticism is retro-futurism – this could be the now ‘coolness’ of bands like the aforementioned Styx or simply the ‘80s fun throwback films like ‘Kung Fury’ or the lauded Kavinsky-scored ‘Drive’. There are certainly elements of ‘Shape Shift’ which have that nostalgic bent. It sounds at once both of the past and the future. Not wanting to agree to any genre-specific labelling (“As a Generation X-er I’m averse to buzzwords in general”) Moore does admit to liking the ‘Drive’ soundtrack, although “The fanfare was a little bittersweet for me though, I felt like I was watching a wave I’d been trying to catch for years crash.” While Zombi remains his main outlet, Moore has had the opportunity to write scores such as the recently applauded ‘The Guest’ and through his alter-ego Gianni Rossi which he describes as an “alias I used for a couple film scores I recorded for Canadian
filmmaker Ryan Nicholson, with a sound like a cross between Fabio Frizzi and The Cars.” Listening to ‘Shape Shift’ and the images it provokes makes you wonder if Moore perhaps wishes all his work could be attached to some form of visual art. “Saying you don’t want to listen to a Zombi record without visuals is like saying you don’t want to go fishing without a bowl of pasta,” he laughs. “Maybe the two go well together but what the fuck? We’re opposed to the idea of having visuals associated with our music, I don’t know how to explain why but the whole point is that we’re a band and there is no movie. “Writing for a film score is roughly infinity times more difficult than writing music just for fun because you’re getting a lot of input from the director and you have to realize that, no matter how much you think your ideas rule, this is not your movie and these folks are way more invested in this project than you are so you gotta know your damn role.” ‘Shape Shift’ is out October 16th on Relapse Records
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“Black metal barrages blend seamlessly into the kind of ethereal beauty that only the likes of Mono and Envy can create.”
DEAFHEAVEN NEW BERMUDA (Anti-)
Seconds out, round two… let the arguments commence.
his is actually the San Francisco quintet’s third album release but no one gave a shit until they started sounding (but not looking) like Mayhem. ‘Sunbather’ was their previous 2013 purist baiting release, full of imagination and courage it garnered them an incredible amount of critical acclaim, and it is easy to see why it is considered a modern classic by many. ‘New Bermuda’ is ostensibly not that different; black metal barrages blend seamlessly into the kind of ethereal beauty that only the likes of Mono and Envy can create. Far from being an album that merely swings between the two, it is the grey area in the middle where the work is at its most powerful. The second track, ‘Luna’, where the tortured and bucolic is mixed with the serene and the beautiful, creates a whole new context in which to enjoy both. The aforementioned Envy have always come close but even they can’t match Deafheaven for ferocity, even if they can for beauty. It doesn’t end there; ‘Baby Blue’ begins all floppy fringed and baggy shirted (a
recurring theme across their body of work) before it crescendos into a crushing and suffocating piece of blackened metal (then they drop in an extended solo just to wind up the non-believers even more). If you think that will get them riled, wait until you hear the indie rock band being fronted by Nattefrost of closing track ‘Gifts For The Earth’. George Clarke’s voice has never sounded so good and the same can be said for Kerry McCoy’s guitar, which chimes and crushes in equal measure. There are moments of much more traditional (if somewhat progressive) black metal, such as the track ‘Come Back’, which for my money are as good as anything that has come out of Scandinavia in the last two years. This being Deafheaven, of course it has to play out with a shoegazey dream pop ending. You can imagine the spikey gauntleted fists clenching in disbelief and fury; you have to laugh really. They seem to have succeeded where other American black metal bands have failed, in that they haven’t stagnated. Then it’s over and done with, no flaccid parts; kept concise with everything recorded live to tape (or so they would have us believe). It’s so good it’s almost perfect. James Batty
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23 LIVE SEX ACTS
Triumphant second live album from Laura Jane Grace and co.
Broadcasting resumes from Mark P and friends.
year and a half since the release of their sixth album, the landmark ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, Florida punk rockers Against Me! capture the energy and passion of their live set with this second, 23 track live album, recorded in Indiana on 29th February 2014. In terms of lyrics, line-up and sound, they’re a more confident and important band than they were when they released their first live album – 2005’s ‘Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!!’. Drawing from songs spanning their career, ‘New Wave’ and the mighty closing ‘We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules’ sound huge. However, the fact that the new songs, such as ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ and especially ‘Black Me Out’ get such a loud response from the crowd shows how much they mean to the fans. Sam Cunningham
hile remaining a prominent exemplar of the punk movement, Mark Perry has kept arm’s length from genre orthodoxies since ATV first stepped out in 1977. This latest line-up sees the on-off outfit operating as a twin-guitar set-up, courtesy of Lee McFadden and Clive Giblin, with former Loft man Dave Morgan handling drums/ production. ‘Opposing Forces’ breaks a fourteen year studio silence with a commendable level of bite, showcasing Perry’s well-honed SE8 sneer to sharp effect. This and a cut like ‘Hello New York’ will be enough to keep the most demanding pogo-pit happy, but it’s ATV’s ability to unsettle that truly distinguishes them – witness the ominous libidinal swell of ‘Bubble’ or the troubled currents of ‘The Rambling Of Madmen’ for proof. The piano ballad ‘Dream’ meanwhile is a surreal and unanticipated pleasure, and ‘Winterlied’ has to be Mark P as his starkly poetic best. Hugh Gulland
t’s been a long time since Ash’s last fulllength, 2007’s hit and miss ‘Twilight of the Innocents’. After that album they announced they would only be releasing singles from then on because of the way the industry had changed. Thankfully, they’ve come to their senses and this studio album is proof that Ash have always been more than just a singles band. The Downpatrick trio sound like they’re having fun again on the suitably titled ‘Kablammo!’, with direct, catchy single ‘Cocoon’ further proof. A glorious explosion of melody and raw, (still) youthful energy, with the likes of ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ and ‘Let’s Ride’, while ‘Moondust’ and the understated closer ‘Bring Back the Summer’ show their softer side. There’s some filler here though (‘Hedonism’) but it’s a decent return to studio albums. It’s good to have them back! Ariel Wimfrey
THE BLACK TAMBOURINES
NO NO NO
THE THINGS WE DO TO FIND PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE US
(Big Scary Monsters)
Highly-anticipated debut album from Philadelphia rock newcomers.
ollowing on from their recent EPs, ‘Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street’ and ‘Who Would Ever Want Something So Broken?,’ Beach Slang’s first album lives up to the promise of its predecessors. This lively, gritty modern emo album is full of punchy anthems and singer/guitarist James Snyder has crafted some fine, thoughtful lyrics. Starting the flawless ‘Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas’ with the lines, “the sound of your heart is wired to break/Too fucked up to love but too soft to hate” is indicative of some of the great writing found on here. That particular song is the longest track on this 10-song collection at just over three minutes and Beach Slang know how to hit hard and effectively with the minimum of excess. Paul Hagen
World music with fewer hats.
his is the fourth album of intercontinental music thievery that Zach Condon and his merry bunch of Brooklyn minstrels have released and despite knowing little or nothing of their earlier work I have always been vaguely aware that they existed. They are the kind of band someone whose music taste you don’t trust tells you about, so you instantly dismiss them because they are one of those bands that they like. Once you actually listen to them (or at least this latest effort) you find that they manage to combine their global outlook, Julian Casablanca’s drawn out vocal style and a dose of chirpy indie into some generally enjoyable tunes which, although difficult to take in one sitting, you can’t help but admire for inventiveness and originality. James Batty
Northern Irish alt-rockers’ sixth studio album.
SO THERE (New West)
US songsmith returns with a record that mixes classical and pop music.
o There’ is an album which has a structure that is reminiscent of numerous ‘60s records, where the first half was populated by songs and the second half by a musical suite. It displays two sides of Folds’ infatuation with classical music. The first half sees him collaborating with sextet Y Music. Lush harmonies that Brian Wilson would be proud of are married to exquisite instrumentation and excellent songs. Folds mixes the reflective (‘Capable Of Anything’, ‘Not A Man’) with more lightweight moments (‘F10-D-A’) and successfully merges classical instrumentation with pop songcraft. The three movements of The Concert For Piano And Orchestra are good but you feel that Folds’ strength lays more in gluing pop and classical music together than creating a straightforward classical piece. Craig Chaligne
Baltimore dream pop duo’s mesmerising ﬁfth album.
nspired by ‘80s indie and scaling down the drum sound, the new record from Beach House is sure to be one of the most lush, blissed out albums released this year. And that’s no bad thing. It quickly becomes obvious from opener ‘Levitation’ and lead single ‘Sparks’ that this is about creating a whispered, elevating soundscape rather than making each song stand out. Best listened to on headphones late at night, the nine tracks of ‘Depression Cherry’ take on a new life when you fully immerse yourself in them. Elsewhere the likes of the shimmering ‘Space Song’ and the lilting ‘Beyond Love’ are as enjoyable as Sigur Ros at their most magical. Victoria Legrand’s soothing vocals and Alex Scally’s impressive instrumentation make this Beach House’s finest album in years. Simply beautiful. Roxy Gillespie
FREEDOM (Easy Action)
How sound feels.
he second album from Falmouth quartet the Black Tambourines delivers the payload strongly suggested by their eponymous debut. From the moment live favourite ‘I Wanna Stay Away’ accelerates into the mesosphere, ‘Freedom’ draws the listener into irresistible sonic wells that beguile with prismatic psych charms and bludgeon with unstoppable energy. There is no filler here, just a succession of highlights that detail the minutiae of an all encompassing trip from a band that recognizes no boundaries. The four minds of Stacpoole, Willbourne, Spencer-Fletcher and Sibley crack with precision; by degrees refracting rays of Californis Sunshine across the dark globe of ‘Lost’, spraying blood on the walls of the Fun House with ‘Sister’ and forging a deceptively simple fragment of perfection with the mighty ‘Punk Simon’. Dick Porter LOUDER THAN WAR
THE BRITISH IBM
THE MAKING OF
PSYCHOPATHS DREAM IN BLACK AND WHITE
Quality debut album from the emerging London quartet.
(The British IBM)
Gentle folk-tinged indie lifted to splendour with lush production.
he Bohicas have a strong, slick sound – classy, with lyrics to die for. Singles ‘XXX’ and ‘Swarm’ make up a strong part of the track list, whilst numbers such as ‘Red Raw’ and ‘I Do It For Your Love’ show The Bohicas have plenty of excellent music to bring to the table. Although the band sit towards the mainstream end of rock, the lead guitar input really gets things going. Having seen the band live, I would’ve liked a few more rough edges, as ‘The Making Of’ is engineered to perfection, taking away some of the excitement. It’s a fine debut, but has the sound of a second album; a little too polished for my taste. It’s almost too good. Fans won’t mind that, though. Well played lads. Roxy Gillespie
ntrospective indie with a touch of Americana is easy to come by these days, but so very hard to do well. The British IBM, fortunately, have not just honed that folk-tinged alt-rock sound but done so wonderfully well, with an album of low key but sumptuously produced tracks. Tripping time signatures, deftly deployed string sections and husky self-deprecating lyrics all come together for a wistful and rewarding listen. From Matthew Sweet to Sparklehorse, to Lambchop via Camera Obscura, singer-songwriter Aidrien Killens brings in a wealth of influences while also stamping his own mark on the sound. Lush without being overblown, sensitive without being wet, orchestrated indie without being cliched; ‘Psychopaths Dream in Black and White’ is nothing less than a soul-soaring, special record. Sarah Lay
LOU BARLOW BRACE THE WAVE (Domino)
(Ex-)Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and Folk Implosion man’s latest solo album.
e’s a busy boy is Lou Barlow. I noticed Sebadoh will be supporting The Lemonheads at their show in London soon and it’s fair to say any fan of Sebadoh (and the ukulele) will find something to enjoy on this latest addition to his solo work. This is the third such release and takes things back in a distinctly pared down direction after previous more embellished efforts. Barlow (who is thought of by many as one of the godfathers of such lo-fi endeavours) has always had a penchant for the confessional and this release is no different. I was always rather partial to his work under the Folk Implosion moniker, perhaps best known for the contributions made to the ‘Kids’ film soundtrack, which Barlow compiled. There remains some of that laconic, almost lackadaisical and slightly eccentric style in this new material, but this time around he creates an otherworldly atmosphere using more analogue methods that echo the traditional music of the past. He has the ability to enchant the listener because the lyrical content is direct and heartfelt (an exercise in space folk jamming this is not) and it’s the combination of these two qualities that make it stand out in a packed (and largely mediocre) marketplace. It lacks the warmth of some of the music of his peers but this merely adds to the effect. Fans of indie heroes going solo and doing it well should check out Bob Mould’s last effort as well. James Batty
They are plane crazy.
anterbury based rockers and flight enthusiasts Broken Hands have created a record which is an amalgamation of the space rocky sounds of yore with a more contemporary sound, reflecting their clearly diverse, if somewhat obvious, influences. It’s a many headed riffing beast of a record which does a fairly good job bringing the sounds of the ‘70s kicking and screaming into the modern age, in the same way as a band like Queens of The Stone Age do. The John Power-esque vocals are probably a little too omnipotent (I am of the opinion they should be used sparingly when it comes to this kind if thing) and too high in the mix for my liking, but that’s merely a personal gripe. Overall, Broken Hands are bound to be ones to watch over the next year. James Batty
CLOWWNS THE ARTFUL EXECUTION OF MACHO BIMBO (Bleeding Heart)
Debut by strange and wonderful Brighton glam/art punks.
ith a big red cock on the cover, songs about idiots, fools and trousers, a sound reminiscent of oddball punk outsiders Punishment of Luxury and fetish-era Adam and the Ants, Clowwns “address gender roles, power politics and modern life in all its glory,” citing Graham Green and Dylan Thomas as influences. If literature is not your thing, there are plenty of rock ‘n’ roll spills and thrills to captivate too. The guitarist is amazing; getting great sounds with sustain, wavering tremelo, skidding slides and sheer brilliant noise. The singer is a bit Dave Bowie intonation-wise, but Clowwns really are a tantalising marriage of philosophical thought and trash punk-pop; with the immediacy of ‘She Says I’m A Clown’ and ‘Trousers’. Ged Babey
Dreamy sonic dissonance from multinational shoegaze mob.
ondon’s Cheatahs have been hugely prolific since their 2009 inception (this is their second full-length, and follows on from a handful of EPs), and this work ethic is evident through the sweeping ‘Mythologies’. The attention to detail is astonishing, with tracks like ‘Signs to Lorelei’ and the opener ‘Red Lakes (Sternstunden)’ incredibly layered and textured. Yet, although Cheatahs owe much to their shoegazing forefathers, there’s much more going on than noodling introspection, and this in large can be attributed to their myriad multi-national influences. While Cheatahs are intent on constructing hugely dense soundscapes, there’s an element of fun throughout. Melodies remain strong and engaging and there’s plenty of hooks on the more direct songs, such as ‘Hey, Sen’ and ‘Murasaki’. Rob Mair
CRAIG FINN FAITH IN THE FUTURE (Partisan)
Emotional second solo album from the Hold Steady frontman.
hen playing with his heartland/indie rock ‘n’ roll band the Hold Steady, New York based Craig Finn’s distinctive vocals and absorbing storytelling lyrics come alive. However, his solo work is a little harder to get to grips with. Written after the passing of Finn’s mother, this second solo album doesn’t directly address that but the themes of persevering and finding redemption in the future feature heavily. While the opener, ‘Maggie I’ve Been Searching For Our Son’, and ‘Roman Guitars’ seem a little forgettable, ‘Newmyer’s Roof’ is a brooding song about where Finn watched the Twin Towers collapse from, and the closing honesty and surprisingly upbeat sounding ‘I Was Doing Fine (Then a Few People Died)’ is another highlight. More personal yet less impressive than the Hold Steady, Finn’s vocal and lyrical genius shines. Ian Chaddock
LOUDER THAN WAR
THE DEAD WEATHER
DODGE AND BURN
Third album from Jack White’s blues/ garage rockers.
t’s been a bit of a wait for Dead Weather fans since 2010’s ‘Sea of Cowards’ (and 2009’s debut ‘Horehound’ before that) but finally the band featuring The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and ex-White Stripe Jack White, as well as Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence, are back with their highly anticipated third LP. Things open solidly with the riff-driven single ‘I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)’, with Mosshart’s passionate vocals, although previous single ‘Buzzkill(er)’ is a little plodding and uninspired. The weird, psychedelic-sounding ‘Three Dollar Hat’, with vocals from White, starts and ends strange, with a redeeming Mosshart-sung stomper in the middle part. Elsewhere, the likes of ‘Lose the Right’, ‘Open Up’ and the White and Mosshart-sung highlight ‘Rough Detective’ are rocking stand outs. Sam Cunningham
BLANK REALM ILLEGALS IN HEAVEN
Finding beauty in anger.
More frenzied psych-rock brilliance on third
o the untrained ear Defeater often sound like two different bands playing simultaneously. The Boston quintet create evocative soundscapes of shimmering denouement – soundtracking an imaginary film that ultimately ends in redemption, much like Isis or Explosions In The Sky. The beauty they craft is then crushed by the angsty screams of frontman Derek Archambault, however therein lies the rub. Because behind the shouty tantrums of this punky godzilla are some of the most poignant contemporary poems written by a modern rock band. The lyrics of Defeater follow the tragedy of the WWII era Glass family (note the nod there to J.D. Salinger) and on fourth album ‘Abandoned’ they deal specifically with the tale of a priest who finds and then ultimately loses his faith, in a marriage of raging composition and prose. Louise Brown
album from Australia’s Blank Realm.
ow on their third long player, Blank Realm are yet to tire of the frenzied, chiming, psych-pop they’ve been honing across previous releases. ‘Illegals in Heaven’ picks up the baton from last year’s ‘Grassed Inn’ and brings in even more catchy yet off-kilter garage pop sounds. From the punchy ‘Costume Drama’ to the more laid-back and tripping ‘Dream Date’, lyrically the album explores circumstance, love and life. With a wry, sardonic tone underpinning it all, there’s more than enough wah and wooze seeping in to bring a dreamy feel to the fore and keep the cynicism in check. Sharing vocal duties once more, siblings Daniel and Sarah Lucas compliment and contrast with way-out drawls and sweet sung harmonies across the album. The whole sound comes together on ‘Too Late Now’, which spins off into an ultra-outro of scuzzy synth bliss. Under all the tracks is a base of weird and wonderful experimental sounds; there is a fuzz and bubble pushing you upwards, ever upwards, but for all its exuberance this is a finely balanced record. It’s a big, wonderful mess of sound delivered with passion and precision. Far from being entrenched in a psychrock comfort zone, Blank Realm are a band who have very much found their sound but who are committed to finding exhilarating new ways in and around it. Sarah Lay
DOGS ON ACID
DOGS ON ACID
RETURN TO THE MOON
Philadelphian indie punk near perfection.
aving played a more technical emo sound in previous bands, including Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing, the four-piece Dogs On Acid are now looking more to ‘90s indie rock/ punk for inspiration and have unleashed a debut album that’s a total joy (musically, even if it’s not so jolly lyrically). Released on the reborn Jade Tree Records, it touches on the likes of Archers Of Loaf, Weezer and Superchunk, but still sounds fresh and more than just nostalgia, with infectious sing-alongs throughout. Put simply, ‘Flushed’, ‘The Prick’, ‘Sun Bleached’ and ‘5th of July’ are four of the best indie punk anthems you’ll hear all year, although there’s really not a weak track on here. There seems to be something pretty special happening in Philadelphia at the moment, with some of the best indie punk bands around. Dogs On Acid are one of the best. Ian Chaddock
No Synth-athy For The Devil.
’m a go-getter” Tom Smith drones in slowburning opener ‘No Harm’ from Staffordshire goth-indie darlings Editors’ fifth album. The Brit nominees pre-empted the release of ‘In Dream’ by telling fans to expect a marriage of “pop and experimental” music and the addition of Rachel Goswell of depressive showgazers Slowdive has given them a much-needed edge. Editors have always been beautifully morbid, but always walked toward the light rather than fully embrace the darkness. At their poppiest, as on ‘Ocean Of Night’, Goswell’s vocals turn a morose lullaby into a sunset in Ibiza anthem – not unlike an advert for ‘Made In Chelsea’ – but when they dig deep, as on ‘The Law’ they soar in the shadows. Congratulations to Smith for his best Jimmy Somerville impression on ‘Our Love’. Fans of Bronski Beat do not sleep on this album for this song alone. Louise Brown
Collaboration between Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (exMenomena, Ramona Falls).
Japanese post-hardcore/post-rock innovators return ﬁve years on from their last album.
ith a friendship that spans a decade from when the National and Menomena played small clubs together, Brooklyn based Berninger and Portland musician Knopf have been planning this debut album for years. The mix of Berninger’s darkly humorous storytelling vocals and lyrics with Knopf’s playful musicianship results in a varied and inventive record. Some tracks, such as ‘Paul is Alive’, are a little plodding, but this collaboration hits more than it misses. From the murky, stuttering ‘I’m the Man to Be’ and the almost Cure-like ‘Need A Friend’ to the haunting, piano-led ‘No Time to Crank the Sun’ and the understated pop of ‘Sleepin’ Light’ (featuring Ural Thomas) show that EL VY are a different band that draws on Nick Cave and the Minutemen. Sam Cunningham
nvy have always been an intriguing band in terms of how their music has developed over the years and their sixth album once again demonstrates the talent and passion they have. After the one-two aggressive post-hardcore assault of opening tracks ‘Blue Moonlight’ and ‘Ignorant Rain at the End of the World,’ Envy calm things down with the more noticeably post-rock style of ‘Shining Finger’ and ‘Ticking Time and String’ before going on to the sweetly melodic ‘Footsteps in the Distance.’ That Tetsuya Fukagawa is singing in Japanese and I have no idea what he’s going on about takes nothing away from the music’s impact. The majority of the songs on here focus more on the heavy postrock side of Envy’s sound and make for a solid, if not particularly revolutionary, listen. Paul Hagen LOUDER THAN WAR
MENACE BEACH SUPER TRANSPORTERREUM
(Memphis Industries) 8/10 ollowing on from the Leeds band’s critically acclaimed ‘Ratworld’ debut album, this new five track EP is full of fuzzy indie/rock that fans of the ‘90s revival sweeping music will lap up. The title track and ‘The Line’ indulges the poppy side, while ‘Hey Toupe’ rocks out more, in a grungey, psychedelic way. The scuzzy riffs of ‘Ghoul Power’ is majestic too. Like Pavement meets Mudhoney, you’ll be hearing a lot more about them. AW
JIM JONES & THE RIGHTEOUS MIND BOIL YER BLOOD
(Raygun) 7/10 ollowing the split of London rock ‘n’ roll wildcats The Jim Jones Revue last year, Jones is back with his new outfit the Righteous Mind and it’s a different approach. Although the title track shows the same energy and raw riffing that made TJJR so exciting, ‘1000 Miles from the Sure’ shows a new, brooding sound and a Nick Cave influence while ‘Hold Up’ has clapping and group, work song-style vocals. A promising debut EP. SC
EVERYBODY COME TO CHURCH
(Louder Than War)
FOALS WHAT WENT DOWN (Warner Bros)
Enigmatic masked quadro-bassist psych-
LA pop-infused garage rockers’ punchy
krautrock mash-up does the damage.
A soulful display of belligerence and vulnerability.
ollowing on from 2014’s debut album ‘The Dangers Of’, Preston’s Evil Blizzard have teamed up with Richard McNamara from late ‘90s indie rockers Embrace, who occupies the producers chair this time out. With four bassists (yes, you read that right!), drums, keys and several vocalists, this is pretty much all-out warfare from start to finish. Single (and opening track) ‘Are You Evil’ is indicative of what’s to come; thundering low-end, motorik, circuitous drumming and a selection of voices, ranging from nightmarish whispers to shrieking torment and almost everything in between. It’s not entirely deviant throughout and there is a strong melodic sense to ‘Laughing Gas’ amongst all of the controlled blitzkrieg. With space rock overtones and mind-melting levels of dissonance, it’s an intriguing listen. Joe Whyte
ecorded over just two weeks in Nashville, this record successfully captures spontaneity and live energy perfectly. From the boozed up, loose sing-along opener and first single ‘40z on Repeat’ and the crunching, unhinged ‘Punks’ through to the X-esque ‘Drone’ are infectious yet spiky. Elsewhere the likes of ‘Sober’ come across as more comedy song and is pretty annoying but overall this is an exuberant album. The production of Jay Joyce (Cage The Elephant) has perhaps added a little too much gloss to their melodic chaos and fuzzed out fun that made their self-titled, self-produced 2013 debut so special but there’s no denying the indie/garage punk perfection of ‘West Coast’ and the lyrc “checked out and waiting for the weekend”. Fans of the care-free delivery of Japandroids and Ramones should check out Fidlar right now. Ian Chaddock
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
HIGHEST POINT IN CLIFF TOWN
oals are back and their new album ‘What Went Down’ is bigger than ever. If you thought the Oxford indie rockers’ previous releases couldn’t be better, it’s safe to say that this tops them all. Showing two sides of the band, ‘What Went Down’ exposes Yannis Philippakis’ intimate yet soulful voice and crosses this with a belligerent crescendo of synthesisers and intense guitar riffs. There’s an underlying funk approach throughout the songs, giving the album an almost ‘70s vibe, especially on ‘Birch Tree’. Its vitality and groove is relentless and reflects that of their earlier album ‘Holy Fire’. New single ‘Mountain At My Gates’ holds an obsessive drum beat. ‘A Knife in the Ocean’ completes the album ending on an eerie yet blissful note. Abigail Gillibrand
THE ORDINARY BOYS THE ORDINARY BOYS
(Treat Yourself) 6/10 nfluenced by Britpop and ska, these Sussex indie rockers are probably remembered most for featuring Preston from ‘Celebrity Big Brother UK’ on vocals. With their most successful album to date being 2004’s top 20 ‘Over the Counter Culture’, this fourth album is a return to that sound, with elements of The Jam and The Smiths, such as on the rousing single ‘Four Letter Word’. Don’t write them off and give this comeback album – their first in almost ten years, a go. AW
THE SPOOK SCHOOL TRY TO BE HOPEFUL
(Fortuna Pop!) 8/10 his Edinburgh queer punk pop band’s powerful second album, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Dress Up’, is a confident and infectious record. Influenced by the likes of the Buzzcocks, T-Rex and the noisier end of C86, this album is about gender and identity, with anthemic queer pop songs like ‘Burn Masculinity’ and ‘Binary’ as inspiring as their good friends in the mighty Martha. Pick this up. IC
A woozy but lo-ﬁ collection of psychedelic pop.
orway’s Gold Celeste are full of the sort of hippy wonderment at the natural world that puts a lot of people off delving into the wonderful, woozy, psychedelia of yesteryear. But far from being a throwback to stoner-eyed stereotypes, ‘The Glow’ is a debut of beautifully spun-out melancholia, crisply tripping beats, lo-fi reverb and lyrical ennui. Sonically an album of contradictions, its discordant lo-fi sounds are built into lush layers that bring in influences far beyond the borders of psych. With a sense of vast empty space set against crushing introversion, we thematically get nice juxtaposition just as we do with the sound itself. The record comes together as an intricate weave of melodies but remains a laid-back listen that delivers some new gems with each repeat play. Sarah Lay
Wirral lo-ﬁ indie rockers serve up an ace with debut album.
f you like the messy, endearing sounds of ‘90s indie rock favourites like Supergrass, Gomez and Pavement then you need to check out Hooton Tennis Club. Hailing from the north west of the UK and now based in Liverpool, this debut full-length has an emphasis on having fun playing music together, the likes of single ‘Kathleen Sat on the Arm of Her Favourite Chair’ and ‘Jasper’ are kicked out in the kind of lazy, laid back style that make the aforementioned bands so well loved. They even invoke the Buzzcocks on the youthful, ramshackle ‘Fall in Luv’. Sounding every bit like a great debut album should, hopefully this is just the start for Hooton Tennis Club. ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ is the sound of four friends having fun. A winner in straight sets. Sam Cunningham
(One Little Indian)
What’s this for?
his, I can only presume, is the kind of album that appeals to a certain kind of muso. Technically adept, it features some outstanding musicianship and features a succession of songs that all sound like something you’ve heard before any number of times. Heavy on the ‘la la la’, the eponymous opener pitches itself somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and George Michael, setting the stage for a cavalcade of predictability that will sit comfortably on the anaemic end of the FM wavelength. There’s variety here; ‘Edward Hopper’ gives an indication of what it might sound like were the post-Godley and Creme version of 10cc to attempt some of Lou Reed’s grittier material. He also Art Garfunkels the life out of ‘Stay Free’, reducing it to saccharine mush, while having no idea what a ‘Streatham’ is or how you say it. Dick Porter
LOUDER THAN WAR
THE LEAF LIBRARY
Enigmatic, pastoral drone-pop debut from London quartet.
here is a dream-like quality to ‘Urth’, as it grinds from one vital, bass-heavy track to the next. Tempered by the male/female vocals, the rough, fuzziness of the music never feels too dark. Kagoule describe themselves as the ‘anomaly’ in the Earache fold. I see them as more of a logical progression, and ‘Urth’ as an up-to-date hybrid of influences: new music for a new age. Kagoule might not thank me, but I hear a tinge of labelmates Carcass on tracks like ‘Empty Mug’. The slightly unfocused feel of ‘Made of Concrete’ and the simple yet effective pairing of vocals and guitar made this my favourite. As a whole, the tracks exhibit an underlying sophistication and the ability to meld numerous influences into a coherent and accomplished body of work. An interesting and eminently enjoyable album. Roxy Gillespie
THE LIGHT IN YOU (Bella Union)
‘90s US indie/dream pop rockers return with ﬁrst album in seven years.
ith their 1998 album ‘Deserter’s Songs’ not only did Buffalo, New York’s Mercury Rev have their most success (thanks in no small part to the spellbinding single ‘Goddess on a Hiway’), it also brought them back from the brink of splitting after the commercial failure of previous album ‘See You on the Other Side’. This new album, ‘The Light In You’, is important for the same reason, bringing them back. Their first album since 2008’s ‘Snowflake Midnight’, it’s central theme is the long-time friendship between founding members Jonathan Donahue (vocals/guitar) and Grasshopper (guitar). Musically it ranges from sprawling, beautiful opener ‘The Queen of Swans’ and sad ‘Central Park East’ to the pop ‘Sunflower’. It doesn’t match their ‘Deserter’s Songs’ days but it’s a ray of hope. Sam Cunningham
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW (PiL Official)
Blistering debut album from the Nottingham alt-rock trio.
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD
here is a certain comfort in the lisp of the waves against the shore, the tumble of rocks as they are pulled against each other by the ebb of the tide. A reassuring constant in the uncertainty of the changeable weather; an endless sky of pale sunshine and low rolling cloud. And beneath that scudded slate canopy, England slides slowly into the sea. The Leaf Library explore this theme and represent it with a dazzlingly beautiful, generously layered sound on this, their impressive debut. Each track unfurls, full of warm instrumentals with guitar drones drowsily circling as woozy vocals conjure pastoral imagery. With touches of Yo La Tengo to the most melodious moments of REM, far from being a twee, sentimental album this is one of fascinating, bold and experimental drone-pop. Sarah Lay
Food for the faithful.
iven that Public Image’s long history ensures that any fresh material is accompanied by a whole reclaim’s worth of baggage, it can be difficult to judge the band’s new releases in any kind of own-merit isolation. Throughout the group’s initial incarnation, the towering, never-to-be-repeated majesty of ‘Metal Box’ has served to cast a shadow across everything that followed. Similarly, Lydon’s ongoing symbiotic relationship with the media has coloured perceptions of PiL’s founder, impressions being distorted by layers of public pantomime. When Lydon reconvened his quorum three years ago, ‘This Is PiL’ emerged as a self-evident statement of identity. Despite the titular positivism, it was an album that found his lyrical focus being directed as much toward his past as his future. In the light of his regularly stated commitment to moving forward and occasional dismissals of his past (in between Pistols reformation tours), this seemed incongruous. Whether this hinted at a degree of uncertainty within the most certain of personas can only be speculated upon. However, ‘This Is PiL’ was warmly received as were the live dates that followed. ‘What The World Needs Now’ puts ‘This Is PiL’ into context. To an extent, it can be viewed as delivering upon the promising elements of the previous album. The hectoring, hammering opening duo of trailing single ‘Double Trouble’ and ‘Know Now’ exemplify this at its most urgent, while imaginative production underpins the innovative ‘Corporate’ to provide the album’s standout track. Dick Porter
THE LIBERTINES ANTHEMS FOR DOOMED YOUTH
Classical forms from Bach underpin the stunning cross-genre debut from Air man.
ne half of Air, the classical pieces of Bach and legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould as a spirit guide; an eclectic but wondrous mix for the debut from Nicolas Godin. Seven albums in as half of celebrated French electronica duo Air, Godin found himself dissatisfied with the touring life and fascinated with Gould’s obsession with Bach. On his first solo album we get an darkly electro exploration of Bach’s key discipline, contrepoint, “the relationship between interdependent harmonies that remain independent in rhythm and contour.” Far from being an academic plunder of the past, it is an inventive mix of genres taking Bach’s pieces as a source but not a constraint. A dazzling debut that looks back in order to move a form forwards. Sarah Lay
Down the drainpipe.
he first album in eleven years from The Last Band Who Seemed To Matter should really matter more than this. Closely guarded against any pre-release leakage, and duly available in regular, deluxe and boxset formats, the release of ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ has all the trappings of an event. Except that it isn’t. The clue is there in the title – Pete, Carl, John and Gary are now comfortably into their thirties and any notions about doomed youth they harbour are based upon a mythologizing of their own adolescences. Today’s doomed youth are as removed from the Libertines’ perspectives as they were from their parents’. They are unlikely to take much inspiration from maudlin piano ballads studded with references to Tony Hancock and Judy Garland. Strip any pretence of “speaking to the kids (man)” away, and it is evident that the ‘Doomed Youth’ caught within the album’s titular crosshairs are those that considered themselves so in 2004, and are now in all probability preoccupied by house prices in Stoke Newington. This passage of time has made no impact on the Libertines; the subject matter is still the same, leaping between the insouciant swagger of their late-Blair era prime and the notional Edwardian London wot Pete Doherty’s flights of fancy often take him to, guv’nor. Infested with dreary, piano-led ‘Pity Poor Peter’ dirges, ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’s best moments are of the nostalgic variety – tracks such as opener ‘Barbarians’ and the shambolic ‘Belly Of The Beast’ recalling former glories. Dick Porter
LOUDER THAN WAR reviews.indd 6
PIC: MARK LATHAM
“‘That’s The Spirit’ is a bold, eclectic album markedly different from any other BMTH album.”
BRING ME THE HORIZON THAT’S THE SPIRIT (RCA)
A milder, more commercial BMTH sound to bring them into the mainstream.
ring Me The Horizon can be held up as one of the few ever-evolving bands in the world of heavy music. They’ve tweaked their sound with each album, with the enjoyably aggressive yet generic deathcore of debut album ‘Count Your Blessings’ far removed from the creative and ultimately influential metalcore of sophomore effort ‘Suicide Season.’ What was particular striking about the Sheffield band’s last album ‘Sempiternal’ was some of the softer, more melodic tracks and so it came as no surprise when they released the epic, radio-friendly single ‘Drown’ last year. The fact that a re-recorded version of that song serves as one of the heavier songs on their fifth album is an indication of the road that they travelled on with ‘That’s The Spirit.’ There’s a collection of styles and electronica is at the forefront but there’s also a broad range of rock, pop, and indie. Another thing to get used to is the almost total
lack of screaming from Oli Sykes, although he does prove to have a smooth, authoritative clean singing voice. The album begins with the atmospheric, synth-heavy ‘Doomed’, giving off a Deftones vibe. It serves as a perfect set-up to recent single ‘Happy Song,’ a hefty, catchy song that discusses the album’s main lyrical theme of depression. ‘That’s The Spirit’ is front-loaded, with following tracks ‘Throne’ and ‘True Friends’ among the record’s highlights. It’s hard to ignore the Linkin Park influence on ‘Throne’ though, while ‘Run’ also has a LP flavour to it. There’s electro indie in the form of ‘Follow You’ and ‘Oh No’ and melodic pop rock with ‘What You Need’ and ‘Avalanche.’ The one track on here that sounds slightly below standard is the mid-tempo ‘Blasphemy,’ which has some uninspired lyrics. So what we have with ‘That’s The Spirit’ is a bold, eclectic album markedly different from any other BMTH album. This risk-taking pays off on occasions but there are plenty of times when the finished product is less than stellar. It does feel like it’s lacking in depth compared to some of the band’s previous releases but that inevitably happens when you start making more straight-forward pop rock. It’s not easy to make this type of music well and BMTH deserve acclaim for trying something new, even if the results are varied. Paul Hagen
LOUDER THAN WAR
DEERHUNTER FADING FRONTIER (4AD)
Ambitious art-rockers reinvent themselves again.
F NIGHT BIRDS
MUTINY AT MUSCLE BEACH
Mancunian Britpop band’s ﬁfth album.
escribed accurately by Fat Wreck as “an ADD-addled, surf-influenced, punk rock adventure through [frontman Brian] Gorsegner and co.’s experiences dealing with the rampant assholery they encounter in their day-to-day lives in suburban New Jersey,” ‘Mutiny At Muscle Beach’ is a hyper, angry and infectious listen. Their first album for Fat, Night Birds always record analog and it helps to capture their chaotic live energy on songs such as the rampant opener ‘(I’m) Wired’, ‘Life is Not Amusement For Me’ and the ripping ‘Lapsed Catholics Need Discipline’ and ‘Golden Age of TV’. The suf style guitar lines and raw vocals make this new record, filled with references to ‘Seinfeld’, horror movies and professional wrestling. If you want a raw, thundering ‘90s-esque pop punk record with wild abandon, then join this mutiny right now! Ian Chaddock
Revival time (again).
he sixth album from Italian (via Berlin) combo the Offenders features a dozen cuts of generally fast paced, lightweight ska/punk that bounces along in an agreeable, if anodyne manner. Everything here sounds like a form of received wisdom – which possibly says something about the way popular culture disseminates itself across decades and national boundaries. There’s a wealth of stock anthemic guitars, all manner of nostalgic terrace anthemics and a general feeling of being on a jolly up, enabling the impression that the Offenders are best consumed in a sweaty bar with generous hydration. ‘X’ features some nice Hammond organ breaks, particularly on ‘Society’ and amid the footwear themed moonstompery of ‘Martens Style’. A precise, featherweight jab. Dick Porter
ew bands remain as wonderfully freewheeling as Atlanta, Georgia’s Deerhunter. Now onto their seventh album, the creative sonic warriors stick out on their own, wilfully reinventing themselves and their sound with every album. After the critical and relative commercial success of ‘Monomania’, it would be easy to just release a rehash and chase larger figures. But that’s not the Deerhunter way. Instead, ‘Fading Frontier’ is a majestic and confident about turn which is sure to please old fans and new. That ‘Fading Frontier’ ever got made at all though is an astonishing triumph. Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox was hospitalised in December last year, following a serious car accident. A sobering experience, emerging the other side colours ‘Fading Frontier’, making it a lighter, brighter effort than the “death rattle” of ‘Monomania’. There’s an emphasis on texture, melody and harmony that makes ‘Fading Frontier’ sounds like sunshine on a breezy spring day. ‘Living My Life’ is evidence of this new found optimism, while both ‘All The Same’ and ‘Breaker’ could both find themselves on The New Pornographers’ ‘Twin Cinema’ and not sound out of place. But Deerhunter don’t just rely on this trump card. Instead, ‘Leather and Wood’ is sparse and unsettling, relying on gentle percussion and effects to get going, while ‘Ad Astra’ is so beautifully arranged it could make you swoon. Both work brilliantly to add shade to an album which could have been a blinding kaleidoscope of sounds and harmonies. Rob Mair
New Jersey’s punks’ wild third album.
fter a couple of albums of moderate success in the mid ‘90s – ‘Northern Uprorar’ (1996) and ‘Yesterday Tomorrow Today’ (1997), Northern Uproar split in ‘99. Reuniting in 2006 and releasing harder sounding third album ‘Stand and Fight’ the following year, vocalist/bassist Leon Maya return to his life in Spain. However, a fourth album followed in 2013 (‘All That Was Has Gone’) before guitarist Jeff Fletcher was tragically killed in a road accident last year. With this fifth album Northern Uproar have embraced a new sound, with Maya’s Spanish roots shining through on the acoustic guitars and sun soaked mellowness of ‘Chasing Demons’, ‘Jackals’ and ‘Start It All Again’, while there’s a funk feel to ‘24 Hrs/24 Days’ and ‘Outlaws Robbing Trains’. Fans of their Britpop days will be left scratching their heads. Approach with caution. Roxy Gillespie
BOTTOM OF THE MORNING (Relapse)
More black than pink.
ontaining ex-members of The Great Tyrant and the rather wonderfully named Pointy Shoe Factory (me neither), Pinkish Black are a Texan two-piece specialising in dark electronica, with live drums that blend together all manner of good stuff. Careering from Goblin style horror soundtracks to doomy distortion and on into apocalyptic noise, they create a world that is rather unique in the world of heaviness. Coming across as Fuck Buttons’ scary but compelling older metalhead cousins, they layer dense and frequently surprising tones to create something really rather special. Slap on a hefty dose of post-industrial mourning some quieter (but no less creepy) chunks and you have a challenging, unsettling and yet surprisingly catchy body of work, which you will either like or loathe. Without doubt, I definitely fall into the former camp. James Batty
(Upset The Rhythm)
Swedish post-hardcore rockers invent noir-core.
Patchy effort from the London punkish indie/post-punk four-piece.
t might be 17 years since last album ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ but Swedish hardcore mob Refused know that their fanbase may have grown up but not grown less angry, and so comeback album ‘Freedom’ hurls straight into an angsty ‘New Noise’ throwback riot. But no one expects this game-changing group to carry on where ‘The Shape...’ left off. While the chorus to opener ‘Elektra’ screams “Nothing has changed”, of course it has. It’s been close to two decades and the band are older and wiser. Refused have become more arty, industrial and darker, adding nuances of ‘80s pop-noir a la Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and even INXS. There’s moments of ethereal calm and upbeat funk, but mostly there’s that Refused energy. Welcome back. Louise Brown
’ve seen Sauna Youth perform live before and I wasn’t terribly impressed but, to their credit, they do seem a tad more energetic and assured on this 30-minute record. It’s scrappy and rough around the edges, which is normally fine and works on tracks like ‘Monotony’, but the overall impact of their second album is slightly underwhelming. It’s rare to feel like an album as short as ‘Distractions’ is dragging but, despite the inclusion of spoken-word tracks, it’s a bit one-paced and, as such, it can comes across as repetitive and veers into unengaging territory. There are individual songs on here that are perfectly decent and the overall level of intensity for this type of music is admirable, but the whole thing does not seem to come together as a cohesive, rounded album. Paul Hagen LOUDER THAN WAR
B’LIEVE I’M GOIN (DEEP) DOWN... (Matador)
Former War On Drugs man takes to the road.
his is the soundtrack to the ultimate break-up road trip across America; a musical statement for getting off the sofa, putting down the cigarettes and bottle of Jack and just getting over it. Vile said of writing ‘B’lieve I’m Goin (Deep) Down’; “I wanted to get back into the habit of writing a sad song on my couch, with no one waiting on me. I really wanted it to sound like it’s on my couch – not in a lo-fi way, just more unguarded and vulnerable.”Well, sad songs have rarely sounded this chipper since Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’. Don’t mistake this for the former War On Drugs guitarist singing the blues; yes there is deep sorrow on this record, but it’s a trip of ultimate redemption and hope. From the alienation themes of ‘Pretty Pimpin’, the David-Byrne-ondowners tales of ‘Life Like This’ and ‘Lost My Head There’, the mournful post-rock meanderings of ‘Bad Omens’, the Americana of ‘Kidding Around’ to the, err, wild imagination
“Don’t mistake this for the former War On Drugs guitarist singing the blues; yes there is deep sorrow on this record, but it’s a trip of ultimate redemption and hope.” of ‘Wild Imagination’, with its disco-in-molasses beat and Dylan-esque drawl. Vile proves himself, again, to be a versatile songwriter, all the while creating a cohesive album that manages to at the same time sound both familiar and new. Taking Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young with him as navigators, as well as both Lous (Barlow and Reed), Vile takes a musical trip from his Philadelphia home (where it’s hard to escape the influence of The Boss) to the dusty canyons of California via Joshua Tree (where some of this album was recorded), through the rain-soaked streets of 1990s Seattle, down to those famous ol’ crossroads in Georgia, with a drugged-up stop off at The Chelsea Hotel in New York. He did warn us upon starting his sixth album that “Everything you can imagine, I’ve done. That’s where I’m at now, I can sort of tap into every world” and he wasn’t joking. With his banjo, rickety old stand up piano and acoustic guitar tied to the roof-rack, Vile evokes the outlaw spirit of American rock music and the poetry of some of its most poignant singer/songwriters, but remains, as ever, original and contemporary. Louise Brown
LOUDER THAN WAR
NEW ORDER MUSIC COMPLETE
HOPE FADING NIGHTLY
Australian psychedelic rock act take on a new direction.
urrents’ moves away from the guitar-led songs on previous albums to much more synth-pop based melodies and hypnotic ethereal beats. Kevin Parker executes this album impeccably and proves that he’s more than a singer in a band. How this will translate to a live performance is uncertain but for the moment this is an excellently mastered and produced synth album. ‘Let It Happen’ takes us through a full eight-minute Tame Impala journey, spiraling through a kinetic loop that meanders through a multitude of electro genres. Other stand out tracks include ‘Cause I’m a Man’ and ‘Reality in Motion’. Parker sings in ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ that he “feels like a brand new person,” which surmises the premise of this album impeccably. It’s not the same Tame Impala but a new, improved dance-orientated version. Kristen Goodall
Indie-pop stalwarts keep dreaming.
here’s something beautifully romantic about Tellison. In another dimension, they’re probably mega-selling superstars. Yet in this, much like their brethren in The Weakerthans, The Promise Ring, and our very own Northern heroes Pylon, they remain criminally under-appreciated. ‘Hope Fading Nightly’ is yet another wonderfully-constructed, literate and entertaining album, filled with heart and soul, but littered with self-doubt. It’s hard not to love Tellison and they’ve honed their craft to perfection, with songs such as ‘Letter To The Team’ decidedly bittersweet but never cloying. Others, such as the ‘Wrecker’ show the London quartet at their up-tempo best, while ‘Rookie of the Year’, a story of missed opportunities and being forever on the cusp of making it big, a parallel to Tellison’s own trajectory. Hopefully the London band will finally get their rewards. Rob Mair
Illinois-born, Toronto-based Meg Remy’s art pop.
ou certainly can’t accuse Meg Remy (who goes by the stage name of U.S. Girls) of being generic or straightforward. Having evolved from the rawness of early Siltbreeze released material to the art pop of recent albums ‘KRAAK’ (2011) and ‘Gem’ (2012), her fierce music is as uncompromising as it is catchy. Her mix of feminist themes (abuse, gender inequality) and challenging music with beats and loops (courtesy of collaborator Onakabazien) meshing with melody comes together impressively on the likes of opener ‘Sororal Feelings’, ‘Window Shades’ and ‘Woman’s Work’. Other guests include Slim Twig (DFA), Ben Cook (Fucked Up, Young Guv), Amanda Crist (Ice Cream) and Tony Price, but make no mistake, this is the mesmerising, weird and wonderful journey of Remy. Sam Cunningham
(In The Red)
Prog-stoner ethereal sounds from LA.
plicing together power chord-heavy guitar assaults with an otherworldly psychedelic inclination, California’s Wand inhabit the woozier plains of stoner rock. The Sabbath-informed riff action of guitarist Daniel Martens is twisted off its axis by Lee Landey’s synth whirls and Cory Hanson’s tantalisingly disembodied vocal delivery. This play-off of contrasting sensibilities makes for an agreeably contemporary strain of space rock; the undeniable gravitational pull of cuts such as ‘Melted Rope’, which perplexingly comes over like Freebird on premeds, or ‘Cave In’, equally unsettling with its vague redolence of Quo’s ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’, makes a pretty convincing case. An asteroid-impact hard rock battery and head trip wooziness, ‘Golem’ propels the listener into Wand’s particular zone of blissful detonation. Hugh Gulland
Tenth album from new wave/synth pop legends.
o matter which angle you approach the new New Order album from you can’t escape the rather large and grand elephant in the room. It’s there on every track. That elephant is of course Peter Hook and his absence casts a cloud over this release. Equally the bitterness and acrimony between Bernard Sumner and Hooky threatens to overshadow not only this album but the band as a whole. To be fair though, there’s a line of thinking that New Order haven’t made a really decent album since 1993’s ‘Republic’, so although it’s ten years since 2005’s ‘Waiting for the Siren’s Call’ (and two since ninth album ‘Lost Sirens’, produced from archival recordings from the ‘Waiting...’ sessions), this is hardly a record which the world has been holding its breath waiting for, though you wouldn’t guess that from the security and paranoia around its release. ‘Music Complete’ starts promisingly, both ‘Restless’ and ‘Singularity’ are full of trademark New Order riffs and sounds, along with Bernard’s plaintive vocals, but elsewhere, as they delve back into customised electronic dance beats, there’s an underlying feeling that this album was a struggle to deliver, to write new songs which come anywhere close to the massive bar that they set in the ‘80s. Yet, whilst ‘Music Complete’ often feels like New Order by numbers, there are still moments when they find that spark again. ‘Academic’ stands out as classic New Order, the one song here which could have been included in their repertoire at their peak where they sound hungry again. The worst criticism of ‘Music Complete’ is that, without Hooky, it’s nothing more than a Bernard Sumner solo album. In reality it’s just another New Order album which glimpses their massive highs but ultimately fails to live up to them. Andy Peart
WE HUNT BUFFALO LIVING GHOSTS (Fuzzorama)
Blistering Canadian fuzz rock tinged with psychedelia.
e Hunt Buffalo may not be out to save rock ‘n’ roll but they do have their aim focussed on a resurrection of that classic rock/metal sound for their second long player, ‘Living Ghosts’. Machine gun percussion breaks through the churning riffs, the vocals move to throat-shredding squalls. Someone, somewhere is probably thrusting a pelvis forward behind a proffered guitar. This is pretty full-on rock for the most part, but with just enough fuzz thrown into the mix, just enough chiming psychedelia, to keep it from being too firmly anchored to past styles. With layered, spun-out licks and pace changes to make your ears prick up, ‘Living Ghosts’ is a record which rewards as each successive listen reveals an intricate melodic core beneath layers of pounding rock and hard rhythm. Sarah Lay
THE WINTER PASSING A DIFFERENT SPACE OF MIND (FITA/6131)
Melodically discordant coming-of-age debut from Irish indie punks.
egulars on the Dublin DIY scene, indie punks The Winter Passing tackle survival and being your own saviour on their debut, ‘A Different Space of Mind’. With gutsy call and response vocals over exuberant rolls of sound, it references grunge and garage rock as much as it does American punk pop influences. This is an album full of gem-like moments and surprising yet subtle detail, but it is the brilliant pace-changing and loud/quiet/loud of ‘Nowhere Still’ which stands out. With chunk and scuzz riffs knocking up against clipped drums, it uses juxtaposition wonderfully throughout before a tumble of sound to the end. A discordantly melodic debut which holds as much promise for the future of these Irish indie punks as it does reward for the right now listens. Sarah Lay LOUDER THAN WAR
Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux)
“The weirdest Monster Magnet yet, and that’s a good thing!“ Dave Wyndorf
COBRAS AND FIRE: THE MASTERMIND REDUX
FEAT. RE-WRITTEN & NEWLY INTERPRETED TRACKS OF THE CLASSIC “MASTERMIND” ALBUM + ONE EXCLUSIVE COVER!
A re-imagining of the 2010 “Mastermind” material – re-written & re-recorded!
MONSTER MAGNET - Cobras and Fire
Available as LTD Digipak, LTD Vinyl and Download!
A WILD ROLLERCOASTER RIDE WITH STONER ATTITUDE, MÖTLEY CRÜE GLAM, CLASSIC ROCK & FEISTY GROOVES!
JACKSON FIREBIRD - Shake The Breakdown
Available as CD, LTD Vinyl and Download!
AN ALBUM FULL OF FUTURE CLASSICS STEEPED IN TIMELESS CHARM! LIVE! OUT
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END HITS: BACK CATALOGUE EXPLORED
MINOR THREAT One of the most important hardcore punk bands of all-time, Washington DC’s Minor Threat (formed from the ashes of The Teen Idles) burnt bright for only three years. But in that short time they redefined the parameters, with their incredibly focussed blasts, DIY ethics and accidental creation of the straight edge movement. Ian Chaddock looks at their back catalogue and how they evolved. FIRST DEMO TAPE (1981, released 2003) demo
This jagged release wasn’t released until over 20 years after it was recorded at Inner Ear Studios in Arlington, Virginia. Although there’s slightly rawer versions of classics like ‘Minor Threat’, ‘Straight Edge’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’, they were previously unreleased for a reason and don’t match up to the power and force of the finished songs, all of which appear on their proper releases. MINOR THREAT (June 1981) EP
This thundering 7” EP was eight tracks of socio-political rage and listeners’ introduction to the four-piece. Opening with the pointed ‘Filler’ and including anti-alcoholism anthems ‘Straight Edge’ – which would accidentally birth a movement – and ‘Bottled Violence’, as well as railing against mindless violence with ‘Small Man, Big Mouth’, it was a shockwave release. IN MY EYES (December 1981) EP
Hot on the heels of their self-titled EP came Minor Threat’s second 7” just six months later. This four song EP saw Ian MacKaye let rip again, with fan favourites such as ‘In My Eyes’, straight edge sing-along ‘Out of Step’ and anti-racism song ‘Guilty of Being White’. Again released on the band’s own Dischord Records, they were doing exactly what they wanted. OUT OF STEP (1983) studio album
After a short split the band came back together to release their sole studio album. With its iconic artwork and MacKaye turning his lyrics to being about problems between friends, such as ‘Betray’ and ‘Sob Story’, it was a slightly different angle lyrically and has been praised by many as a classic of American hardcore.
MINOR THREAT (1984) compilation
With tracks 1-8 from the first, self-titled ‘Minor Threat 7” and tracks 9-12 from the ‘In My Eyes’ 7”, plus ‘Stand Up’ from the mighty ‘Flex Your Head’ collection of DC hardcore’s finest, it’s a powerful compilation but is made somewhat redundant by the later release of ‘Complete Discography’. The iconic cover art, the same as their first 7”, depicts MacKaye’s younger brother Alec (Untouchables, The Faith). SALAD DAYS (1985) EP
The band’s final EP was released two years after their split, showing a departure from their hardcore punk sound on the three tracks. ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Good Guys’ (a cover of The Standells) are slower punk songs and feature acoustic guitars. MacKaye would go on to play in Embrace, Fugazi and The Evens where this slower, more considered style blossomed. COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY (1990) compilation
The definitive Minor Threat release, this does exactly what it says on the tin. 26 tracks of hardcore punk perfection collecting together the songs of all their other releases, it’s the essential purchase and starting point for anyone who wants the music of Minor Threat on one record. Play it loud. Out of step with the world!
LIVE (2003) DVD
If you want to witness the energy and passion that Minor Threat put into their performances then this is the place to look. With six songs from a very early performance at the Unheard Music Festival in Washington DC in late 1980 and 17 songs from each of their 1982 performance at Buff Hall, Camden, New Jersey and 1983 set at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, it’s carnage with a message and a brain. There’s also a July 1983 interview with Ian MacKaye, making this 92 minute DVD well worth your time.
LOUDER THAN WAR reissues issue 1.indd 1
“As a snapshot of just how brilliantly creative – and uniformly excellent – Pavement were, ‘The Secret History (Volume One)’ is peerless.”
THE SECRET HISTORY (VOLUME ONE) (Domino)
Inappropriately titled compilation from Californian slacker heroes.
’m not really sure what’s ‘secret’ about a collection of songs that have been in the public domain for over a decade. Largely culled from the expanded edition of ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ released in 2002, there’s almost nothing secret at all about the 30 songs on offer that die-hard fans wouldn’t have heard before, with perhaps the enticement of a vinyl release the only selling point. That said, I’m a firm believer that Pavement’s best work is still buried in boxes in the basement or Stephen Malkmus’ house, and as a snapshot of just how brilliantly creative – and uniformly
excellent – Pavement were, ‘The Secret History (Volume One)’ is peerless. Containing alternative versions, session tracks, songs recorded during the making of ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ and a live set recorded at Brixton Academy in December 1992, it’s a comprehensive retrospective of material, showing the band at the peak of their powers in a variety of settings. Alternative versions of ‘Here’ and ‘Summer Babe’ (titled ‘Summer Baby’) are every bit as wonderful as the originals, and remain two of the finest songs penned by the Californian indie heroes. Tracks culled from a John Peel session – ‘Kentucky Cocktail’ and ‘Secret Knowledge of Backroads’ – are both excellent; the former a lurching, train of consciousness ramble that is classic Pavement, the latter a sparse and haunting cut which highlights the depth and diversity of Pavement’s work – something they perhaps never get sufficient credit for. ‘Drunks with Guns’, which sounds like the group vomiting up the morning’s breakfast is an abomination, however – albeit oddly entertaining. Likewise, the live tracks fizz and crackle with energy, something else the group were rarely praised for (indeed, as excellent as their 2010 reunion shows were, Malkmus and Co. weren’t the most energetic of performers). Yet here, with the group buoyed with youthful exuberance, you can hear them bouncing off the walls. Songs such as ‘Fame Throwa’ and ‘Perfume-V’ bristle, with Malkmus raging and hugely expressive throughout. Elsewhere, ‘Summer Babe’ is a hazy, fuzzy, blast and considerably more tempestuous live than on record. Of the session tracks, ‘Baptist Blacktick’ is a stomping post-punk revelation with a great hook, while ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ is perhaps the slackest song the kings of slacker pop ever wrote. In short, it’s a hoot. Overall, ‘The Secret History’ is probably every bit as good as the album for which it is associated. It may, to some extent be a cash in, but the richness of material means it is an essential purchase for any self-respecting fan. Rob Mair
LOUDER THAN WAR
reissues issue 1.indd 2
AS FRIENDS RUST THE PORCH DAYS 1998 – 2000 (Demons Run Amok)
ost-hardcore heroes get their hits out.
I LOVE BIS
RETURN TO THE LAST CHANCE SALOON
(Do Yourself In)
Mid ‘90s EPs from Scottish indie pop
Fan favourites and Britpop classics on re-issue of
t’s a good time to be an As Friends Rust fan. An Indonesian label have just released a cassette version of their ‘Greatest Hits?’ (threw out your walkman? Fear not, it’s on Spotify), while German hardcore stable Demons Run Amok have pushed out this compilation charting what’s known as their ‘Coffee Black’ era. The Floridian post-hardcore band were active from 1996 until 2002, and featured members from Shai Hulud and Morning Again. While those bands had a metallic bent, As Friends Rust was all about punk with a positive message; but no less raging than their metalcore counterparts. AFR focussed on the cathartic, songs such as ‘Like Strings’ hammering home an over-arching theme that family is the four guys on stage with you, and the many friends in the crowd screaming those songs back at you. Louise Brown
London indie band’s sophomore album.
he Glaswegian trio of Bis – John Disco, Sci-Fi Steven and Manda Rin – were always a band full of youthful energy and exuberance that was nothing less than infectious. This set combines their hard-tofind EPs – from 1994’s debut ‘Transmissions On The Teen-C Tip!’ and ‘Disco Nation 45 (1995) through to ‘The Secret Vampire Soundtrack’ (1996) and ‘Bis Vs. The D.I.Y. Corps’ (1996). Influenced by the likes of Devo and Bikini Kill, their sound was a glorious collision of synth pop, new wave and riot grrrl that sounded pretty unique. The likes of the chart-bothering ‘Kandy Pop’, ‘Kill Yr Boyfriend’ and ‘Teen-C Power’ still stand up today as indie pop classics. Back making music again, ‘I Love Bis’ is a reminder how exhilarating, fun and fresh they were. Ariel Wimfrey
riginally released in 1998, the second album from The Bluetones was a top 10 charting record, including indie disco classic singles. Yet it has always seemed over-shadowed by their debut and the reissue gives a worthwhile chance to revisit it on its own terms for fans and band alike. Frontman Mark Morriss reflected: “I’m a different man now to the man that wrote those words. There was a strange period of feeling distance and re-aquainting myself. But that’s cool. That’s life.” A Western feel pervades the album with chunkier riffs and a more sultry tone than their debut. This album shows a band that can write sing-along anthems as well as catchy, playful riffs and lyrics with a literary feel. A double CD means the original album is joined by the wonderful ‘Marblehead Johnson’, the single released between albums, and each band member’s pick of a favourite b-side. A second disc includes previously unreleased live sessions. A vinyl version follows in October, a format close to Morriss’ heart: “To me vinyl still feels like king and I guess a lot of the audience feels that way too.” From chart-storming singles like ‘If’ to the swampy stomp of ‘Sleazy Bed Track’ and ‘Solomon Bites The Worm’, this is an album well worth revisiting and considering the band’s worth beyond their Britpop tag. Sarah Lay
ROYAL TRUX BOB THE SINGLES AND EPS (3 Loop)
HAND OF GLORY
WORKBOOK 25 / BLACK SHEETS OF RAIN
eissue of gloriously unhinged ﬁnal release from Royal Trux’s core duo.
s indie outﬁt gets a
have to admit that Bob pretty much entirely passed me by during their heyday as Peel-favoured indie-popsters. This remastered double CD collection compiles a selection of A and B sides in roughly chronological order, from their initial flexi-disc release ‘Prune (Your Tree)’, through their best known single, ‘Convenience’, to the 1990 EPs ‘Stride Up’ and ‘Tired’ – the latter of which saw them flirt briefly with the baggy bandwagon being led by the likes of Happy Mondays and The Farm. At times combining the jangling guitars and light-hearted pop sensibilities of the Housemartins (without the accompanying political subtext, sadly) along with the groove of the Mock Turtles or Flowered Up, they sound pretty generic to these ears. Russ Bestley
First two solo albums from ex-Hüsker Dü frontman reissued.
fter the implosion of seminal ‘80s Minnesotan punks Hüsker Dü in 1988, Bob Mould went it alone and kicked the drink and drugs. His resulting debut solo album, ‘Workbook’ (1989), was a shimmering, mostly acoustic record that fared well with single ‘See a Little Light’ and laid the path for R.E.M. and latter day Nirvana. This reissue has a bonus track (single b-side ‘All Those People Know’) and a second CD containing a 1989 live set. His second solo album, ‘Black Sheets of Rain’ (1990) gets the 25th anniversary treatment too, and has long been unavailable on CD. It sees Bob re-embrace some of the distortion of his former band and again Mould’s songwriting stands up remarkably well to the test of time, two and a half decades on. Ian Chaddock
he two-piece of Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty were indie rock’s most shambolic geniuses. Plagued by drug addiction, they relentlessly rocked through their cravings, making music that often confounded and sometimes blew their contemporaries away. ‘Hand Of Glory’ was a tough listen when it first came out in 2002, having been recorded in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and originally penned to have followed their ‘Hero/Zero/Love Is’ single. That didn’t happen and the tapes sat in Hegarty’s familial home for a decade. Sonically, this hasn’t mellowed with time. It’s still a tough listen, but it’s fun too. There’s no sleekness, a la their Virgin releases, or the balls out rock of ‘Veterans Of Disorder’; this is a noise collage. While cited as a six song album, it’s two. The first half is the 20 minute ‘Domo des Burros (Two Sticks)’, which is uniquely successful in that, with both Hagerty and Merrema singing completely independent melodies, what should be a mess of voices can actually be listened to in three ways. Firstly, listen to one vocal on its own and the other bobbles along in the background nicely, ditto if you choose to listen to the other vocal instead or, thirdly, listen to them both and enjoy the madness. The second half, called ‘The Boxing Story’, really is Hagerty and Herrema playing in the musical sand box. But in the distortion, tape reels, Dalek sounds and harmonica-squarks is a world that, for those fancying a trip to beyond, offers a great ride atop waves of sound. Jon Falcone
LOUDER THAN WAR reissues issue 1.indd 3
BIKINI KILL REVOLUTION GIRL STYLE NOW iot grrrl pioneers’
demo tape revisited and
he importance of Bikini Kill to alternative music can’t really be overstated, with the band fronted by the energetic and fierce feminist icon Kathleen Hanna (who would later front Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin) spearheading the early ‘90s riot grrrl movement to stand up to the “boy’s club” that punk rock had become. The first release by the Olympia, Washington four-piece was this 1991, eighttrack, self-released demo tape. With raw, hardcore/garage punk feminist anthems like ‘Suck My Left One’ and ‘Daddy’s L’il Girl’. Available for the first time on CD and vinyl (and also available on digital download and a limited cassette tape release), this reissue also features three unreleased and mostly unheard songs – ‘Ocean Song’, ‘Just Once’ and ‘Playground’ (the latter of which you hear the tape running out!), which have a much more grunge sound than the rest of Bikini Kill’s catalog, an interesting insight into the embryonic stage of the band which, although interesting, make you glad they chose the confrontational, punk direction they took, creating riot grrrl in the process. With Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto mixing and John Golden mastering, ‘Revolution Girl Style Now’ sounds punchier and crisper than ever. Following on from the 2012 reissues of their self-titled EP and their 1993 split release with Huggy Bear, ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’, we can’t wait for the reissues of their albums. Here’s to the ultimate rebel girl.
PREMIER HITS (Beggars Banquet)
hits package released on vinyl.
here can be very little doubt about the contribution Gary Numan made to music in the ‘80s and ‘90s. ‘Premier Hits’ charts the period with a twenty-five track package released on vinyl for the first time. Ironically, 1987’s Premier Mix of ‘Cars’ is axed, as is his No. 6 hit ‘Complex’, but in their place fall ‘Metal’, ‘We Are So Fragile’, ‘Film’ and ‘Me I Disconnect From You’. His recent change of direction into indie-metal, currently immortalised in the superb ‘Splinter’, seems an age away from his electronica exploits, and tracks like ‘We Are Glass’, ‘This Wreckage’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’, whilst ground-breaking at the time now sound dated. What the album does do is confirm Numan as the genius he was (is) and hard-fast Numanoids will adore the vinyl version. Paul Scott-Bates
JOY DIVISION STILL / SUBSTANCE (Rhino)
wo posthumous collections get vinyl reissue treatment.
he Manchester post-punk legends released the compilations ‘Still’ in 1981 and ‘Substance’ (1988), both following the suicide of frontman Ian Curtis and the end of the band in 1980. These collections filled in the missing pieces of the band’s short but inspired career, including non-album singles (‘Transmission’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’), unreleased studio tracks (‘Something Must Break’ and ‘Ice Age’) and well-chosen live cuts (‘Disorder’ and the only performance of ‘Ceremony’). Following the recent vinyl reissue of Joy Division’s two studio albums – ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (1979) and ‘Closer’ (1980) – the double LP sets of these compilations completes the sets and shows just how special a band they were. The gatefold covers look stunning and the music stands up, of course. Chris Tale
hirley Manson and co.’s debut gets
deluxe edition for 20th anniversary.
ne of Fire Records’ flagship bands from the early days, Close Lobsters has some success and indie chart singles but never the acclaim they deserved. Almost thirty years later, this revisiting of the Scottish band’s jangly indie pop looks set to redress the balance. Over 39 tracks and three CDs, this compilation brings together their two ‘80s albums – ‘Foxheads Stalk This Land’ (1987) and ‘Headache Rhetoric’ (1989), as well as ‘Forever, Until Victory! The Singles Collection’. Some of the stand outs here include the title track, which featured on NME’s classic cassette compilation ‘C86’, and ‘Let’s Make Some Plans’, later cover by the Wedding Present to make it one of their highest charting singles. Having reformed in 2012 and with this collection, maybe they’ll finally get the credit they deserve. Ariel Wimfrey
MCALMONT & BUTLER
THE SOUND OF MCALMONT & BUTLER
ORK RECORDS: NEW YORK, NEW YORK
GARY NUMAN/ TUBEWAY ARMY
FIRESTATION TOWERS: 1986 – 1989 Scottish indie pop band’s works
he precursory ﬁreball of Britpop’s ﬁnal fumes.
his is a damn fine album. Many of the elements of this album don’t make sense in isolation, but as a whole they soar. When it was originally released it signalled a successful step on from Bernard Butler’s time in Suede while David McAlmont was a relatively unknown, or under appreciated, singer. The opening track of this album, ‘Yes’, cannonballed McAlmont and the album into the critical spotlight. Listening back, this sounds of the time and the second bonus disc on this 20th anniversary edition highlights how closely Butler got to being derivative of Motown. For example, the ‘Oompah’ version of ‘Tonight’ reeks of the Dixie Cups’ ‘Going To The Chapel’. Throw away the bonuses and enjoy the most original soul album of the ‘90s for what it was, a time and a place that resulted in magic. Jon Falcone
hen Garbage released their self-titled debut album back in 1995 it exploded into the mainstream, going on to achieve double platinum in many countries and receiving three Grammy nominations including Best New Artist. Hit singles ‘Only Happy When It Rains’, ‘Queer’ and the anthemic ‘Stupid Girl’ still sound as big, bold and brilliant today as they did two decades ago and the album stands up as a true ‘90s rock classic. As well as the twelve track album, this double CD deluxe edition (although it’s available in a number of extravagant configurations of CD, vinyl and downloads) also includes a ‘G-Sides’ CD, featuring nine tracks such as ‘Girl Don’t Come’ and ‘Kick My Ass’. With Manson’s distinctive vocals, the experimental yet catchy rock songwriting and dark themes still rules. Craig Chaligne
(The Numero Group)
4 LP and double CD of seminal pre-punk ew ork record label’s back catalogue.
ou can almost touch and smell mid-’70s New York between the grooves of this compilation of songs released on Terry Ork’s record label. From the big hitters like Television’s ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ and Richard Hell’s ‘Blank Generation’ to the Db’s Chris Stamey’s quirky off beat pop classic ‘In The Summer Sun’, Ork’s quality control was, and remains, a joy to behold. That was helped of course by the vibrant and diverse NY music scene that was the precursor to punk and so inspirational to many of the original punk bands. Groups like the Erasers and the Idols epitomised New York punk cool, the latter who would eventually turn into the equally impressive London Cowboys. Both the CD and LP versions come with a comprehensive book/booklet of unpublished photos from the time. Andy Peart
LOUDER THAN WAR
reissues issue 1.indd 4
ALAN AND DAN TREACY JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
VARIOUS ARTISTS CREATION ARTIFACT:
THE DAWN OF CREATION RECORDS 1983 – 85 (Creation)
A wonderful document of a label’s embryonic years, with more hits than misses.
verett True, aka Jerry Thackray, aka The Legend! is known as a music critic and cited to have been instrumental to Nirvana’s success. He’s less known as the first act to be released on Alan McGee’s Creation Records back in 1983. Yet his debut release ‘73 in 83’ is a wonderful curiosity – a distinctly English interpretation of beat poetry over no-wave drums and random piano notes. It’s surprisingly funky. Creation Records burnt out in 1999, taking a similar trajectory to probably it’s most famous sons, the Gallagher brothers, but it’s amazing to see the calibre of bands that Creation worked with in their first two years alone. The Mekons, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Television Personalities and The Pastels all put out music or performed at McGee’s club night, and with many of the bands expressing a love of punk and the ‘60s, it’s no surprise to see Creation turn into the Britpop
monster of Oasis, The Super Furry Animals and Teenage Fanclub via the majesty of its shoegaze days with My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive. But is the music on this compilation any good? Yes, for the first half at least. Throughout, the Legend!’s singles and live performances are entertaining and genuinely different. The Pastels, from day one have that drippy, discordant sense of infantile ennui. ‘Surprise Me’ is sloppy, lazy and dreamy. It’s the sense of whimsy that defines the best bits of this compilation. The sheer Ramones meets white noise of The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Upside Down’ is worth this compilation alone, although the aggro-dance-punk stuff, while definitive of the label, is no way as good as the swoon bands. Even the early Primal Scream singles are incredibly fey, ‘All Fall Down’, and ‘It Happens’ sound raw, honest and a million miles away from the bombast and baggy groove they became famous for. Needing to fill five discs with material from two years alone is an ask for any label, so the quality is, understandably, patchy. There’s a disc of b-sides and rarities, which save a demo version of the Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’ and some great live Television Personalities live tracks (and of course, The Legend!) doesn’t warrant much attention unless you’re a true fanatic (admittedly, there will be plenty). A fourth disc consisting of demos and a fifth of BBC live sessions focus heavily on the Jasmine Minks, The Loft and Meat Whiplash, which are lesser though wellloved bands on the roster. Add to this the fact that there are even demos by The Legend! (surely every track is a demo, there’s no hi-fidelity here) and it starts to tire. Ultimately, this compilation is not meant to be a string of hits. It’s a warts-n-all walk through of a label that found its feet from day one, putting out music that was arguably one of the first explorations of retrospective revivalism, and certainly one of the most successful. Be it good or bad, without McGee and Creation we certainly wouldn’t have had Britpop. Jon Falcone
“It’s amazing to see the calibre of bands that Creation worked with in their ﬁrst two years alone.” LOUDER THAN WAR
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DAMON ALBARN: BLUR, GORILLAZ AND OTHER FABLES By Martin Roach and David Nolan (Music Press)
he only available dedicated biography of Damon Albarn, this 299 page book makes you realise just how versatile and talented a musician and songwriter Albarn is. It’s hard to believe that he started his career with a part-time music course in London and would go on to become one of the icons of Britpop. Co-founding the legendary Blur back in 1988, the band would go on to huge success, rivalled only by Oasis as kings of the genre. He survived the rise and fall of Britpop by completely reinventing himself as the mastermind behind virtual band Gorillaz, as well as playing with The Clash’s Paul Simonon in The Good, The Bad & The Queen, releasing his eclectic solo album ‘Everyday Robots’ and working with recently deceased soul titan Bobby Womack. Blur even returned last year for their first album in over a decade, the critically acclaimed ‘The Magic Whip’. A creative artist, all this is covered in this book. However, the fact there’s no new interviews with Albarn, only quotes and first-hand interviews interviews with those close to him in his formative years, means the book is lacking Albarn’s own voice. Sam Cunningham
THE DOORS: THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY By Gillian G. Gaar
o-author Robin Ryde says, “The philosophy of punk offers a way of doing things differently. It offers a route out of a system that persists in failing us. And the voices heard echoing through the pages of this book won’t be with us forever. If you are fascinated by punk, philosophy, popular culture, art or how to live now, then this book will have something profound to say to you.” Over 288 pages, 30 in-depth interviews and analysis mixed with striking illustration, intimate black and white photography and original art from several of the book’s interviewees, this is a unique and inspiring read. Interviewees include Jello Biafra (The Dead Kennedys), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), Steve Albini (Shellac/Big Black), Penny Rimbaud (Crass), Dunstan Bruce (Chumbawamba), Tim Smith (Adverts), Mark Stewart (The Pop Group) and Jon Gnarr (ex-mayor of Reykjavik), just to name a few. A compelling and important book to get you thinking about what’s important in life. Ian Chaddock
RIOT ON THE SUNSET STRIP By Domenic Priore (Jawbone Press)
his striking 196 page hardback book is an extensive year-by-year study of the LA ‘60s rock legends. Although their time with iconic frontman Jim Morrison was relatively short – the band formed in 1965 and Morrison tragically died, aged just 27, in 1971 – there’s plenty of stories from those six years, as well as the tales of surviving members Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger as a three-piece after Morrison’s death and their more recent work with the likes of Ian Astbury, Scott Weiland, Perry Farrell and Skrillex. With over 150 photos, LPs and singles images, gig posters, ticket stubs and more, this book is as visually stunning as it is in-depth – there’s an indepth analysis of each of The Doors’ studio releases by numerous respected music journalists. An impressive, chronological read that takes you on the fascinating journey of The Doors, with all their soaring highs and crushing lows. Craig Chaligne
By Lisa Sofianos, Robin Ryde and Charlie Waterhouse
THE TRUTH OF REVOLUTION, BROTHER
his revised edition of Priore’s book, subtitled “Rock ‘n’ roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood”, this 400+ page book is a detailed examination of the short-lived but vibrant music scene that arose out of nowhere in LA in the 1960s. Tracing this “artistic awakening” to when The Byrds debuted at Ciro’s on March 26th 1965 – with Bob Dylan joining them on stage – up to the demonstrations of November 1966, Sunset Strip was the epicentre of LA’s music scene and saw the launching of seminal bands/acts such as The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, The Turtles, The Standells and more! With rock ‘n’ roll displacing movies as the most important entertainment in Hollywood in the ‘60s, this book is a fascinating look at a time and place, complete with period maps and the magic of the Strip in its ‘60s prime. The definitive book on a scene that birthed the careers of numerous classic bands, ‘Riot on the Sunset Strip’ is, itself, a riot. Ariel Wimfrey
I NEED A DODGE! JOE STRUMMER ON THE RUN By Nick Hall (Cadiz)
n 1997, two years before his first album with his world music influenced new band the Mescaleros, former Clash frontman Joe Strummer was in his self-described “wilderness years” and was interviewed on Spanish radio. He tells the radio DJ about the Dodge car he bought in Madrid twelve years earlier but later lost and the DJ puts out a call to the Spanish people to look for the punk legend’s car. Joe says he left it in a carpark but can’t remember where and there the car has stayed. The resulting varying accounts of the colour of Strummer’s Dodge shows how it has sort of passed into punk folklore, much like Joe’s time in Spain in 1985 following the break-up of The Clash, with musicians working with their hero and sightings of the much-loved artist. Director Nick Hall even tries to track down the missing Dodge. An insight into Strummer’s troubled years, this film features emotional interviews with former Clash members and is a revealing look at a period of his life that’s previously not been detailed. The packaging of the limited deluxe edition of the DVD really makes it an essential purchase for Strummer fans, with a wide range of items and gifts. There’s a six panel digipak that folds out into a boombox design, a cassette tape with a copy of the original interview with Joe on Spanish radio, an eight page booklet with original artwork and notes from Chris Salewicz, Joe Strummer’s biographer, a screenprint postcard and Joe Strummer banknote. Also the 67 minute film is accompanied with 70 minutes of extras, including audio and visual interviews. Sam Cunningham
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academy events present academyevents presents
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LEEDS FESTIVAL LEEDS
Words: Tim Grayson Photos: Emma Stone
N 2015 Leeds festival (and its southern sister Reading) finds itself in a strange position. Many will tell you that it’s lost its knack for bringing together eclectic (yet with mass appeal line-ups), instead choosing to focus on the faithful standards (your LIBERTINES, your MUMFORD & SONS, your METALLICA), serving instead as a rite of passage for those who’ve passed their GCSEs that year. And it’s nonsense. The same could be argued for every festival in the history of festivals ever. Instead, you need to ignore the headliners and look further down the bill to see where the magic is actually happening. And hey, hats off to Leeds (and Reading) for having such a diverse range of acts such as FEED THE RHINO, AGAINST ME!, LONELY THE BRAVE, MARIACHI EL BRONX, NECK DEEP, DRENGE, FIDLAR and MODESTEP opening up the main stage! Where else do you get that?! Further down the festival bill for the weekend, THE STRUTS were a definite stand out, their brand of theatrical rock ‘n’ roll coming through like a breath of fresh air. Elsewhere, HIPPO CAMPUS showed us that not every American band has to worship at the altar of Joy Division et all, instead doing for a Bombay Bicycle Club vibe. RUN THE JEWELS did as only Run The Jewels can do, with El-P and Killer Mike blasting out tracks from both of their albums. Elsewhere ASH showed just why they’re essentially watching these days, completely reinvigorated, while KENDRICK LAMAR’s crushing beats and showmanship won out the weekend. JAMIE T’s rough ‘n’ tumble songwriting was in its element with the rowdy Leeds crowd while GOD DAMN took a sledgehammer (not literally of course) to the crowds at the Lock-Up stage’s faces. MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA proved themselves heir apparent to Brand New with a sit of bruising, heartfelt anthems, while multi-instrumentalist ELLE KING introduced the Festival Republic crowd to her alt. pop genius. QUEEN KWONG, a love collaboration between Carre Callaway and LIMP BIZKIT guitarist Wes Borland, evoked Patti Smith with their New York sound while YOUTH MAN and THE MENZINGERS both deserve all the praise being currently heaped on them, standing alongside SKINNY LISTER in the ‘Holy shit, did you see them?’ stakes. So to all those naysayers out there: no, Leeds (and Reading) isn’t on the way down – if you got yourself off of your computer and dummied up the money for a ticket you’d see a line-up straining at the seams when it comes to new, exciting and relevant bands. And long way it continue to do so.
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SLEAFORD LEEDS FESTIVAL MODS
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KENDAL CALLING PENRITH
WORDS: JAMES SHARPLES PHOTOS: MARK LATHAM
TO KILL A KING
O paraphrase the late, great Joe Strummer: “Kendal Calling to the faraway towns...” In this current economic climate and in an industry that can live or die by the weather forecast, the fact that Kendal Calling were celebrating their 10th anniversary in August just shows how much love and loyalty there is for the little festival that could. Set amongst the hills and valleys of Penrith, as a site location it’s astounding, spread out far enough that the grounds aren’t cramped but close enough together for you to leg it between stages. Set over four days with headliners including JAMES, THE VACCINES, ELBOW, KAISER CHIEFS and SNOOP DOGG, we veered away from the known and instead chose to focus on the lesser-known. Known faces on the Manchester gig circuit, LUCKY T. JACKSON got things off to a cracking start with their hybrid of debut era Arctic Monkeys and ‘Back To The Future’s Marty McFly at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance throwback rock ‘n’ roll sounds. Mixing old school Plan B acoustic grime with shining star quality, Random Impulse man JOVEL was the undeniable breakout success of the day, going from an empty dance floor to one full of bodies screaming for encores. Elsewhere LONELADY offered up a set of spiky, angular indie with an undercurrent of dance (definitely ones to watch in the future) before it was off for a spot of the always quality LEVELLERS, a band who really don’t get their due enough as far as this reviewer’s concerned. On to Saturday and, bringing together the best bits of British Sea Power and The Charlatans, NEON WALTZ certainly made a name for themselves, creating wonder-inducing soundscapes out of what originally sound like jam sessions. TO KILL A KING followed swiftly afterwards at the Jagerhaus stage, their muscular alternative sounds bruising the ears in the best possible way. Special mention also has to be made to LISBON and SEAFRET, who both smashed their respective sets. After an enchanting set from Elbow, it was on to the Sunday. Hailing from Glasgow, MONOGRAM sound what Robert Smith and The Cure would sound like if they’d gotten together this year, all heavy riffs and chilling vocals or, as one punter called it “alt. pop with nuts”. Leading the charge for new psych, ALL WE ARE bridged the gap between punk, post-punk, math rock and classic psychedelia, trading instruments, jumping into the crowd and blowing minds – often at the same time. HONEYBLOOD proved why they deserve to be in this very issue, inciting the crowd in the Jagerhaus to higher levels of energy with their Ramones/Vaselines mash-up of tones. Outstanding. Here’s to ten more years Kendal!
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KENDAL SLEAFORD CALLING MODS
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THE 1975 November: 9th Liverpool Guild Of Students, 10th Leicester De Montfort Hall, 11th Sheffield O2 Academy, 12th Doncaster Dome, 14th Nottingham Rock City, 15th Newcastle O2 Academy, 17th Edinburgh Corn Exchange, 18th Bridlington Spa, 19th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 20th Plymouth Pavilions, 21st Southampton O2 Guildhall, 23rd Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 24th London Eventim Apollo, 26th Brighton Centre, 27th Swindon Oasis Leisure Centre, 28th Manchester Academy. THE ALBUM LEAF November: 22nd Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 23rd Manchester Deaf Institute, 24th Bristol Colston Hall. ALL WE ARE October: 14th London Scala. ATP NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS W/BUILT TO SPILL, ICEAGE and more. November: 27th-29th Prestatyn Pontins Holiday Centre. BEACH HOUSE October: 24th Belfast Mandela Hall, 26th Glasgow O2 ABC, 27th Manchester Ritz, 30th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 31st London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. BEACH SLANG January: 19th Norwich Owl Sanctuary, 20th Birmingham Rainbow, 21st Manchester Star & Garter, 22nd Glasgow Hug & Pint, 23rd Newcastle Think Tank, 24th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 26th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 27th London Barfly, 28th Bristol Exchange, 29th Southampton Joiners, 30th Brighton Green Door Store. BEIRUT September: 24th London O2 Academy Brixton, 25th London St John At Hackney Church. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN June: 22nd London Royal Albert Hall, 23rd London Royal Albert Hall.
BEST COAST October: 29th London Electric Brixton. BITERS September: 25th London Camden Barfly, 26th Nottingham Rock City, 27th Southampton Joiners Arms, 28th Bristol Thekla, 29th Norwich Waterfront. October: 2nd Leeds Key Club, 3rd Glasgow Stereo, 5th Newcastle Think Tank, 6th London Borderline, 7th Wolverhampton Slade Rooms, 8th Manchester Ruby Lounge, 9th Sheffield Corporation. THE BLUETONES September: 23rd Portsmouth Pyramids, 24th London Forum, 26th Birmingham O2 Academy, 27th Bristol O2 Academy. BMX BANDITS January: 30th London 100 Club. BOY AND BEAR November: 5th London Dingwalls, 7th Glasgow King Tuts, 8th Manchester Deaf Institute. CAST October: 1st Brighton Komedia, 3rd Hastings St Mary In The Castle, 8th Wrexham Central Station, 9th Belfast Limelight, 17th Inverness Ironworks, 19th Dunfermline PJ Molloys, November: 7th Holmfirth Picturedrome, 8th York Duchess, 12th Stoke Sugarmill, 13th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 14th Wolverhampton Slade Rooms, 15th Bath Komedia, 21st Cleethorpes Beachcomber, December: 5th Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN October: 28th Exeter Great Hall, 29th Cardiff University Students Union, 31st Aberdeen Music Hall, November:
1st Edinburgh Corn Exchange, 3rd Manchester O2 Apollo, 4th Manchester O2 Apollo, 6th London O2 Academy Brixton, 7th London O2 Academy Brixton, 8th Birmingham O2 Academy, 10th Nottingham Rock City, 11th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 12th Southampton O2 Guildhall.
THE CRIBS October: 19th Newcastle O2 Academy, 20th Glasgow Barrowland, 21st Manchester Albert Hall, 24th Sheffield O2 Academy, 25th Bristol O2 Academy, 26 Nottingham Rock City, 28th London Roundhouse, 29th Oxford O2 Academy, 30th Portsmouth Pyramids.
CHELSEA WOLFE November: 22nd London Islington Assembly Hall, 24th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 29th Bristol Fleece.
CRISTOBAL AND THE SEA October: 2nd London Birthdays.
CLAY October: 1st Birmingham Alfie Birds, 2nd Southampton Lennons, 6th Bristol Louisiana, 7th Stoke Sugarmill, 8th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 9th Manchester Sound Control, 10th Glasgow Broadcast, 14th Brighton Green Door Store, 15th London Birthdays, 16th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 17th Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms. THE COMPUTERS October: 22nd Plymouth Hub, 23rd Bristol Thekla, 24th Birmingham Rainbow, 25th Leeds Key Club, 26th Glasgow King Tuts, 27th Edinburgh Electric Circus, 29th Newcastle Cluny, 30th Carlisle Brickyard, 31st Nottingham Bodega Social Club, November: 2nd Liverpool Kazimier, 3rd Southampton Joiners, December: 8th Manchester Deaf Institute, 9th London Oslo, 10th Brighton Haunt, 11th Exeter Phoenix. COURTNEY BARNETT November: 25th London Forum, 26th London Forum, 27th Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall, 30th Manchester Ritz, December: 1st Liverpool O2 Academy, 2nd Glasgow ABC, 4th Bristol O2 Academy. THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN October: 3rd London Borderline, 9th Aldershot West End Centre, 10th Nuneaton Queens Hall, 17th Buxton Opera House, 22nd Hull Fruit, 23rd Howden The Shire Hall, 30th Brighton Komedia.
DAN ANDRIANO November: 5th Stoke Sugarmill, 6th Leeds Key Club, 7th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 8th Southampton Joiners, 9th Bristol Exchange, 10th London Dingwalls, 11th Norwich Waterfront, 12th Birmingham Institute Temple, 13th Edinburgh Electric Circus, 15th Newcastle Cluny 2, 16th Manchester Deaf Institute.
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE November: 2nd Glasgow O2 Academy, 3rd Manchester Academy, 4th London O2 Academy Brixton, 5th Birmingham O2 Academy. DEERHUNTER October: 30th Brighton All Saints Church, 31st Liverpool Camp And Furnace, November: 3rd Glasgow SWG3, 4th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 6th Manchester Gorilla, 7th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. ECHOBELLY October: 6th London Scala. EDITORS October: 9th Belfast Limelight, 12th Bristol Colston Hall, 13th London Eventim Apollo, 15th Portsmouth Pyramids, 16th Birmingham O2 Academy, 17th Leeds O2
CHEATAHS November: 17th Sheffield Picture House Social, 18th Manchester Soup Kitchen, 19th Edinburgh Sneaky Petes, 20th Leeds Wharf Chambers, 21st Brighton Green Door Store.
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Academy, 18th Glasgow O2 ABC, 20th Newcastle O2 Academy, 21st Cambridge Junction, 22nd Manchester Academy.
Cambridge Corn Exchange, 6th Oxford O2 Academy, 9th Llandudno Venue Cymru. HENRY ROLLINS January 2016: 10th Bristol St George’s Hall, 11th Newcastle Tyne Theatre, 12th Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 14th London Barbican Centre, 15th Birmingham Town Hall, 16th London Barbican Centre, 17th Dublin Vicar Street, 18th Glasgow Academy.
FATHER JOHN MISTY October: 26th Sheffield Plug, 27th Cambridge Junction, 28th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 29th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. FOALS November: 5th Nottingham Rock City, 6th Liverpool Olympia, 7th Norwich UEA, 8th Cardiff University Great Hall, 10th Aberdeen Music Hall, 11th Newcastle O2 Academy, 13th Southampton O2 Guildhall, 14th Margate Dreamland, 15th Bristol Anson Rooms, 16th Cambridge Corn Exchange. FRANK TURNER November: 5th Llandudno Venue Cymru Arena, 6th Southampton Guildhall, 9th Falmouth Princess Pavillion, 13th Glasgow Barrowland, 14th Newcastle University, 15th Nottingham Rock City, 18th Birmingham Academy, 19th Sheffield Academy, 21st Bristol Colston Hall, 23rd Manchester Academy, 26th London Alexandra Palace. GARBAGE November: 8th & 9th London Brixton Academy, 13th Manchester Academy, 14th Edinburgh Usher Hall. GARY NUMAN October: 21st, 22nd, 23rd London The Forum, 24th Manchester Academy. GIRLS NAMES October: 15th Liverpool Shipping Forecast, 17th Leicester Musician, 19th London 100 Club. HAPPY MONDAYS November: 5th Southampton O2 Guildhall, 6th Birmingham O2 Academy, 12th Sheffield O2 Academy2, 13th Liverpool O2 Academy, 14th Newcastle O2 Academy, 15th Glasgow O2 Academy, 20th Manchester Academy, 21st Leeds O2 Academy, 26th Nottingham Rock City, 27th Norwich The Nick Rayns LCR, 28th Bristol O2 Academy, 29th Cardiff Uni The Great Hall. December: 3rd London O2 Academy Brixton, 4th Lincoln Engine Shed, 5th
HOT CHIP October: 13th Bristol O2 Academy, 14th Portsmouth Pyramids, 16th Glasgow Barrowland, 17th Manchester Albert Hall, 18th Leeds Beckett Students Union, 20th Nottingham Rock City, 21st Cambridge Corn Exchange, 22nd London O2 Academy Brixton, 23rd London O2 Academy Brixton. IDLEWILD November: 24th Perth Concert Hall, 25th Inverness Ironworks, 26th Aberdeen Music Hall, 27th Glasgow Barrowland. INDIE DAZE FESTIVAL W/ THE WONDER STUFF, THE WEDDING PRESENT, POP WILL EAT ITSELF, THE PRIMITIVES and more. October: 3rd London Forum. JIM JONES & THE RIGHT EOUS MIND September: 30th Derby The Venue. October: 1st Manchester Sound Control, 3rd Leeds Belgrave Music Hall, 4th Glasgow Broadcast, 6th Guildford The Boiler Room, 7th Birmingham The Rainbow, 8th Bristol Exchange, 9th Norwich The Waterfront, 10th Kent Ramsgate Music Hall, 11th Reading Sub 89, 12th London Oslo.
HEALTH October: 25th Liverpool Kazimier, 26th Glasgow Stereo, 27th Manchester Gorilla, 28th London Heaven.
W/SPIRITUALIZED, DENGE FEVER and more. September: 25th-26th Liverpool Blade Factory at Camp & Furnace. LONELADY September: 30th Glasgow CCA, October: 1st Manchester Gorilla, 3rd Leeds Headrow House, 6th Bristol Thekla, 7th London Heaven, 8th Birmingham Rainbow, 10th Brighton Patterns. MAXIMO PARK November: 17th London Roundhouse, 18th Manchester Albert Hall, 19th Newcastle City Hall, 20th Glasgow Barrowland, December: 15th Nottingham Rock City, 17th London Roundhouse, 18th Birmingham Institute, 19th Manchester Albert Hall. THE MELVINS October: 8th Reading Sub 89, 10th London Electric Ballroom. MONARCHY October: 14th London Fields Brewery, 15th Manchester Deaf Institute.
JOHNNY MARR October: 4th Oxford O2 Academy, 5th Birmingham Institute, 7th Manchester Albert Hall, 10th Bognor Regis Butlins (Rockaway Beach Festival), 11th Newcastle University, 13th Inverness Ironworks, 14th Edinburgh Liquid Rooms. THE JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION October: 20th London Camden Electric Ballroom, 21st Bristol The Fleece, 22nd Manchester Sound Control, 23rd Birmingham The Oobleck. KILLING JOKE October: 25th Cardiff Great Hall, 26th Brighton Concorde 2, 27th Exeter Lemon Grove, 28th Nottingham Rock City, 31st Birmingham Institute. November: 1st Manchester Ritz, 3rd Glasgow O2 ABC, 4th Leeds Beckett University, 6th London Roundhouse. LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS November: 12th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 13th Glasgow Art School, 15th Manchester Gorilla, 17th Bristol Trinity, 18th Brighton Komedia, 19th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. NEW ORDER November: 16th London O2 Brixton Academy, 19th Glasgow Academy, 21st Liverpool Olympia, 24th Wolverhampton Civic Hall. OM/LIGHTNING BOLT November: 26th London Electric Ballroom. OTHER LIVES November: 3rd London Islington Assembly Hall.
PJ HARVEY October: 9th London Royal Festival Hall, 10th London Royal Festival Hall. PUBLIC IMAGE LTD September: 18th Glasgow ABC, 19th Manchester Academy, 20th Newcastle Riverside, 22nd York Fibbers, 23rd Coventry Copper Rooms, 25th Bristol O2 Academy, 26th Buckley The Tivoli, 27th Reading Sub 89, 29th Bexhill On Sea De La Warr Pavilion, 30th Norwich UEA. October: 2nd London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 3rd Frome Cheese & Grain, 4th Southampton Engine Rooms. PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING November: 17th Edinburgh Queens Hall, 18th Leeds University, 19th Liverpool O2 Academy, 20th Nottingham Rock City, 21st Norwich Open, 26th Cardiff University Students Union, 27th Southampton O2 Guildhall, 29th London O2 Academy Brixton.
RADKEY September: 1st London The Old Blue Last. October: 26th Brighton Green Door Store, 27th Bristol Exchange, 28th Birmingham Hare & Hounds, 29th Sheffield Leadmill, 30th Nottingham Bodega, 31st Manchester Sound Control (basement). November: 2nd Glasgow King Tuts, 3rd Newcastle Academy 2, 4th Leeds Key Club, 5th London Tufnell Park The Dome. RIDE October: 11th Leeds O2 Academy, 12th Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA, 14th London O2 Academy Brixton, 15th Liverpool O2 Academy, 17th Bristol Anson Rooms, 18th Newcastle O2 Academy, 19th Edinburgh Corn Exchange, 21st Nottingham Rock City, 22nd Birmingham Institute.
LOUDER THAN WAR
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ROCKAWAY BEACH W/ JOHNNY MARR, SPIRITUALIZED, YOUNG FATHERS, THE FALL, THE MONO CHROME SET October: 9th - 12th Bognor Regis Butlins.
SONIC BOOM SIX November: 3rd Bristol Exchange, 4th Nottingham Rock City, 5th Leeds Key Club, 6th London Boston Music Room, 7th Norwich Owl Sanctuary, 8th Manchester Satan’s Hollow.
SHED SEVEN December: 3rd Newcastle O2 Academy, 4th Glasgow O2 Academy, 5th Bristol O2 Academy, 7th Portsmouth Pyramids, 8th Hatfield Forum, 9th Sheffield O2 Academy, 10th Sheffield O2 Academy, 11th Manchester Academy, 12th Manchester Academy, 14th Wrexham William Aston Hall, 15th Norwich UEA, 17th Nottingham Rock City, 18th Birmingham O2 Academy, 19th London Roundhouse, 21st Leeds O2 Academy, 22nd Leeds O2 Academy.
SPEAR OF DESTINY October: 8th Reading Bowery District, 9th Bedford Esquires, 10th Darwen Library Theatre, 15th Derby The Venue, 16th Dunfermline PJ Molloys, 18th Manchester Ruby Lounge, 21st York Fibbers, 22nd Liverpool Arts Club, 24th Hertford Corn Exchange, 25th Shrewsbury Theatre Severn, 27th Sheffield Greystones, 28th Bristol The Fleece, 29th Wolverhampton Slade Rooms, 30th Aberdeen The Moorings, 31st Whitby Goth Weekend.
SHEER MAG November: 8th Nottingham JT Soar, 9th Glasgow Old Hairdressers, 10th Sheffield Lughole, 12th Leeds Temple Of Boom, 13th London Lexington, 14th Brighton West Hill Hall.
SPEEDY ORTIZ October: 15th Brighton Haunt, 16th Manchester Sound Control, 18th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 21st London Tufnell Park Dome, 22nd Glasgow Stereo.
With daytime radio plays and indie chart success in the UK and gaining an early hit on the club scene in Ibiza, London alt/indie rockers The Woodentops were riding high in the mid ‘80s. With their debut album, ‘Giant’, almost 30 years old the band are celebrating by touring the UK in October and playing the album in its entirety for the first time live. Ian Chaddock caught up with vocalist/guitarist Rolo McGinty to talk their halcyon days and moving forward...
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA September: 22nd Brighton Concorde 2, 23rd London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 24th Birmingham Institute Library, 25th Manchester Ritz, 28th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 29th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 20th Glasgow Queen Margaret Union.
Why now to come back and tour ‘Giant’ in October?
SIMPLE MINDS W/ THE STRANGLERS November: 26th London The O2 Arena, 27th Leeds First Direct Arena, 28th Glasgow SSE Hydro, 29th Dublin Ireland 3 Arena. December: 1st Aberdeen AECC GE Oil & Gas Arena. THE SISTERS OF MERCY October: 12th Glasgow O2 ABC, 14th Leeds Beckett University, 15th Nottingham Rock City, 17th Manchester Ritz, 18th London Roundhouse. SLEAFORD MODS W/STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE September: 23rd Manchester Ritz, 24th Carlisle Brickyard, 25th Newcastle Northumbria Uni, 28th Leeds Irish Centre, 29th Birmingham Institute, October: 1st Cardiff Y Plas, 2nd London Forum, 4th Bristol Bierkeller, 5th Bournemouth Old Fire Station, 6th Brighton The Old Market, 8th Cambridge Junction, 9th Nottingham Rock City.
THE VACCINES November: 10th Blackpool Empress Ballroom, 12th Plymouth Pavilions, 13th Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, 15th Bournemouth BIC, 16th Bridlington Spa Theatre, 17th Wolverhampton Civic Hall, 19th Brighton Centre, 20th Nottingham Capital FM Arena, 22nd London O2 Academy Brixton, 23rd London O2 Academy Brixton, 25th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 26th London O2 Academy Brixton, 29th Leeds O2 Academy. YO LA TENGO October: 16th Glasgow Garage, 18th Bristol Colston Hall, 19th Coventry Warwick Arts Centre, 20th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.
“I think it’s about round numbers. 30 years ago we were in rehearsal, serious rehearsal, notepads and shizz to make the album. We had never done that before.”
What are your memories of 1986 when the album came out? “I remember hearing ‘Good Thing’ in Sainsburys and taxi cabs. We were a John Peel band and, you know, that was the radio we listened to. All of a sudden we were on daytime radio. We had that Beatles thing going down. We began immediately working on remixes and mashing it up, playing the songs harder and faster, the tempos felt tastier that way. I think we were more in tune with crowd gyration.”
What was the most memorable gig you played at that time? “I’m sure we all have different ones. For me it was the night we played an allnight disco in Valencia ‘86 and the crowd was less a mosh pit, more a dancing mass. A lot of mescaline was going round out there and our sound engineer, who had had a back injury and carried on the tour in a wheelchair against doctor’s advice, got out the chair and danced on the mixing desk.”
‘Giant’ has been credited by many artists, bands and DJs as an influence... “It was just a melting pot period where people who liked groovy shit like James Brown and afrobeat and go-go and electro and head-down cosmopolitan boogie all came together. Our thing is getting the whole joint moving so I think we got our certificate. Just the one track. ‘Why Why Why’, our big hit on the acid house club scene was the unfinished track on ‘Giant’. Kind of a Fela Kuti go-go Kraftwerk mash. We nearly got it on there. Imagine!”
You’re playing ‘Giant’ in its entirety for the first time ever. What else can fans expect from these shows? “It’s gonna be a challenge. Some songs we never played. Some we did for a short time only, new ones came in and pushed older ones out. Some we played as the 12” version. Also I think the ultra new ones, by luck, fit in with the ‘Giant’ tracks. So, you’ll get ‘Giant’, ‘Granular Tales’, the recent one and it will all work together as one big dose of UK funky rock pop that no one else can touch. That’s what we are about. Individuality in music with pips!”
What’s next for The Woodentops after this album? New material? “Oh yes, quite a lot of new noise ready to go. As usual, far from whatever anyone else is doing. That’s the point of music to my mind. If it falls into a scene, fine. If not, fine.”
UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS November: 18th Bristol Fleece, 19th Manchester Gorilla, 21st Belfast Limelight, 22nd Glasgow Cathouse, 24th Newcastle O2 Academy, 25th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 26th London Scala.
October: 12th Brighton Prince Albert, 13th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 14th Guildford Boileroom, 15th Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms, 18th Manchester Academy 3, 20th Newcastle The Cluny, 21st York Duchess, 22nd Norwich Waterfront Studios, 23rd London Garage. LOUDER THAN WAR
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Then & Now: Ash
Becoming huge with their huge first (proper) album ‘1977’ as teenagers back in ‘96 and having recently released their reinvigorated sixth studio album, ‘Kablammo!’, to be followed by a December UK and Ireland tour, Ian Chaddock talked to Northern Irish indie/alt-rockers ASH’s vocalist/guitarist Tim Wheeler about then and now...
How was your life growing up in Northern Ireland and how did that affect your music? “I grew up right in the Troubles in the ‘80s, I was born in ‘77 and the ‘80s was still a very violent time. I think when you’re a child you think that whatever you’re born into is normal. I lived in the countryside so I wasn’t in the centre of all the violence but there were some shootings and bombings in my town. It was on the news every night as well. Music was a big escape from it all and the place where religion didn’t matter. It offered a great way out of it all. I loved when we played in Belfast
and our crowd was a mix of Catholics and Protestants.”
a few years ago and played the album ‘Free All Angels’ live together.”
What are your memories of the huge success of ‘1977’?
After ‘Twilight of the Innocents’ in 2007 you announced you would only release singles, not albums. Why?
“It was quite tricky because we were teenagers and we definitely weren’t ready for it at all. But it was very exciting as well. It was a mix of loving doing the shows but having a hard time dealing with the attention that came with fame. Our schedules were crazy with touring but we really had some amazing shows at that time. I think we were the first Irish band to have a debut album go to no.1 in the UK. It was amazing. We started getting Radio One airplay before I even left school and I remember getting in the car to drive home from school and hearing us on the radio.”
Charlotte Hatherley played in Ash for nine years. Was it difficult to part ways? “Yeah, it was a hard decision. It was around the time she was starting to get a solo career going and we always like to make things difficult for ourselves. We knew we’d been successful as a three-piece before because the first five years of our band we’d been a three-piece and we’d had a no.1 album. We were looking for a new sound around that time and it just sort of made sense. We stayed good friends and we did some shows together
“The way people were buying music was changing and albums didn’t seem to be getting the same attention or were even listened to in the same way as they had been. People were a lot more into buying single tracks from iTunes and putting together playlists. We needed to shake things up creatively. We did 26 singles in a year.”
How was it writing and recording of an album after eight years? “It had to be special because we’d said we’d never make another album. It had to be a really killer one. Because of that we were looking back to find the essence of our best loved albums – ‘1977’ and ‘Free All Angels’. It was cool, it’s a very different discipline from putting out single because you have to get a coherent sound and some strong themes. It took more focus but we’re really happy with it.”
How would you describe your sound in 2015 as you’ve grown as people and musicians. Are you drawing on different influences? “We’ve definitely improved a lot as musicians. For this album we were looking back at our original influences and trying to bring a lot of simplicity back into our writing. We’re probably a slightly leaner, better oiled machine at this point.”
You’ve got the December UK and Ireland tour. How do the live shows compare now to when you first started out? “After over twenty years of music it’s sometimes hard to fit the new material in amongst the old classics. So with ‘Kablammo!’ we really wanted it to fit in and be able to play it all live. It’s fitting amazingly. I think the shows have got the same energy as they’ve always had and I think we’re killing it at the minute.”
‘Kablammo!’ is out now on earMUSIC Ash tour the UK in December
LOUDER THAN WAR
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The issue that kicked it all off! Out First ever Louder Than War Magazine! Featuring The Stone Roses - Their rebirth and the third coming....
Published on Dec 2, 2019
The issue that kicked it all off! Out First ever Louder Than War Magazine! Featuring The Stone Roses - Their rebirth and the third coming....