Scathing and brutal in their sarcastic blur of scatty DIY enigma, False Heads have released the long awaited EP Less Is Better. The EP is made up of lead singles Retina and Yellow, as well as Help Yourself and Wrap Up. As a whole, the EP has a sharpness ingrained in it, the lyrics and riffs seeming to compliment each other in a rather structured, rounded manner, before the three piece inject a classic scatty aggression into it, ripping apart convention and cliches by tearing their tracks to shreds and rebuilding them into something enigmatically bold and hedonistic. Catchy and very riff heavy, Retina has been re-recorded, which gives the EP a feel of maturity; it’s not just thudding punk noise; it’s a disc’s worth of carefully crafted tracks, wittily meaningful lyrics comfortably sitting on top of glassy slabs of riffs

false heads jessie m
by Jessie Morgan

It’s vehement and cutting, a sharp slice of cynical off-handedness layered in Luke’s lyrics. Lyrically, Help Yourself is brutal, a mocking and blunt concoction of attitude…it emits a frustration of some sort, Luke snarling the line ‘and if you want you can stick around…you can’t help yourself

Similarly, Yellow is just as bold and staggering, the pop chorus an intriguing contrast to the garage rock sound infusing the verses. ‘Are his guess work?’ Luke ponders, before screeching effortlessly ‘my head hurts!‘ just before that thudding riff kicks in, amplified by the grungy mess of Barney’s drumming. The whole EP is a broody, sulky grudge, a more scathing bitterness giving the band a sound vaguely reminiscent of The Slits in terms of attitude, and Them Crooked Vultures in terms of sound.

Overall it’s not going to be a popular EP; it’s unconventional, it’s nasty, it’s cynical. The three piece don’t care about impressing people though, and if anything, that’s what makes fans crave this band even more

Listen to Less Is Better below

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sisteray 15 minutes EP
15 Minutes EP

Politically engaged, passionately vocal, and making a riot over the issues many bands tend to avoid, Sisteray have released new EP 15 Minutes. Based on the Andy Warhol quote “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” the EP is more an artistic project and means of social commentary rather than simply a collection of tracks. Lasting exactly 15 minutes, the EP embodies filthy rockn’roll, and proper DIY guitar rock. The band have been a unique, passionate force of rock for a long time now, and maintain this DIY politically riotous edge to their sound. Fierce and abrasive, the EP is a bold statement against the political elite, the royal family, Brexit, and the need in society for instant gratification and satisfaction. This tone and attitude really captures the raw traditional spirit of punk, with an archaic anti-establishment aura. There seems to be an underground revitalisation of this politically fuelled rock, and Sisteray are one of the most exciting bands currently leading this resurgence. From East London, Marco, Dan, Niall and Mick are bringing back the attitude and nostalgic meaning of punk which the music scene may have been lacking. This ‘no-shit’ approach the band have is shown through their countless DIY ventures, such as their monthly ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ club nights and being signed to underground label Vallance Records.

The EP itself is packed full of punk vibrancy, careless grit, and a raw attitude. Lasting exactly 15 minutes (which was an exciting and testing challenge in itself), the EP was recorded with Rory Attwell, who has worked with numerous well known bands including Palma Violets and The Vaccines. No doubt Sisteray will be the most exciting band he has worked with though. 15 Minutes is made up of five killer tracks; Queen’s EnglishNostalgia TripFaaast FoodFamous For Nothing, and White Knuckle Joyride. The entire EP is a brutally honest, hard-hitting refection of the political and social state of the UK, and this honesty and brash abrasiveness is what makes the EP such an outstanding 15 minutes worth of music. For me, the best track on the EP would have to be Queen’s English, which focuses of the clear gap between the rich elite and the working class, which has been becoming more bluntly obvious and shocking. Opening with the Queen herself speaking before that raw guitar kicks in, the track features lines like ‘we don’t speak the Queen’s English, just an accent you won’t be familiar with’ and ‘we use words that you’ve never heard, new slang.’ The guitar is distorted and blurred, which makes the track more layered and gritty. The whole EP embodies this sense of gravel and grit, and there’s nothing manufactured or fake about Sisteray. The band performed an EP launch secret set at The Victoria, Dalston on Saturday evening (15th April), and the live set brilliantly showcased the skill and finesse within the EP. White Knuckle Joyride is brilliant too, with heavy guitar and drumming throughout.

What makes 15 Minutes such an exciting and intriguing project is the meaning behind it. Focused on the issues of social gratification, political inequality, and nostalgia in the industry (predominantly in Nostalgia Trip) the EP is a huge ‘fuck you’ to the political establishment, and a massive statement piece. Breaking more and more boundaries as they go along, Sisteray’s fame is set to last a lot longer than 15 minutes- big things coming.

EP rating: ★★★★★

Sisteray feature on my Bands to Watch in 2017 list, and you can read my interview with guitarist Dan Connolly here

Listen to the EP here

EP three
“EP Three” from The Magic Gang

The Magic Gang are a flawless indie rock band who create the most effortlessly cool perfect indie tracks, and EP Three is no exception to this. Released yesterday (March 24th), EP Three is another instalment in the group’s amazing discography, setting the release of their debut album (which must be coming soon right?) to be one of the most exciting releases in a long time. The EP really showcases Jack’s stunning vocals, and the band use heavy backup vocals and harmonising to add these magical (pun intended) elements to the EP. This is done beautifully on Life Without You, which is a cleverly simple and understated track, giving it this purity and authentic indie excellence. The guitar strumming softly in the background merges with those heavy vocal harmonies perfectly, going from soft ‘ooh la la’s’ in the background to singing along with the lead vocal. This reminds me a lot of early music by The Beatles actually, with the really stunning vocals and melody giving the track a dream-like sound. The guitar is beautiful on the whole EP, notably on Hotel Apathy, which has Jack’s soft soothing vocal play over the meticulous guitar riffs which open the track. The track is very controlled, and has these wonderful foundations which make it really hazy and stunning to listen to. The simplicity and controlled nature of the EP shows how well produced it is, and this understatement gives it a more humbling aura.

magic gang
The Magic Gang

My favourite track on the EP would have to be How Can I Compete, which has a more groovy funk to it. The beat to it gives the track a feel good dance vibe, and I’m so excited to see it performed live! ‘How can I compete‘ Jack broodingly asks, following an intense build up of the guitar. ‘You’re saying there’s nothing I can do, I’m saying the things I’d like to‘ he cheekily sings, with a quirky attitude behind his vocal. No One Else is a stunning track too, which features the soft guitar strumming and soothing light vocal that you get on Life Without You. ‘I know I’m gonna be talking to myself, and not to anyone else. There’s something wrong with me, that no one else can see‘ Jack sings, with his vocal really beautiful on this track. Again it reminds me of early music from The Beatles, like the Please Please Me album, or even solo tracks by John Lennon such as (Just Like) Starting Over. EP Three overall is stunning, and just perfectly faultless. The band started releasing music a couple of years ago, releasing debut singles No Fun/ Alright back in 2015; this release kickstarted something very special in indie music, and the resonance of pure authentic indie with a fresh modern edge has The Magic Gang at the forefront.

EP rating: ★★★★★

Listen to the EP here

The Magic Gang are currently on tour with Circa Waves, and go on their own headline tour next month with support from the wonderful Abattoir Blues and Paris Youth Foundation, with tickets available here

The Black Roses have been one of my favourite bands for months now, with a brilliant pure indie rock edge to them. The four piece are made up of Anthony (lead vocals and guitar), Mike (drummer), Val (bassist) and Richard (lead guitarist), and have been around for about a year and a half now, having formed back in September 2015. Based in London, The Black Roses have a brilliant sense of classic indie rock to their music, with ridiculously catchy and enthralling tunes. I met the band last summer for an interview, and it’s crazy to see how much has been going on for them since; they’ve been gigging extensively in London, and released their debut EP Utopia last week. Utopia really embodies what’s so wonderful about indie rock music. It’s got this sense of classic nostalgia to it, taking you right back to that 2000s indie sound, similar to bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines. Utopia is composed of four tracks; Utopia, Bad Habits, Nobody Puts My Baby In The Corner, and She Makes The Rain Dance.

black-roses
The Black Roses

Opening up the EP, you get title track UtopiaUtopia is a more soothing indie track, definitely the least heavy and gritty on the EP. The guitar is really fun on this track, and it has this very chilled and calm aura to it. There’s a brilliant buildup to the chorus which features brilliant blaring guitar and soft drumming tying the track together. The foundations of the EP are really impressive, and the band have a very professional and polished sound to them. Anthony’s vocal on Utopia is fantastic too, especially on the line ‘she’s like golden beach sand, so hot should come with a warning,’ a gritty emphasis placed on this line in particular. Next is Bad Habits, which is the track that drew me to the band first time I heard of them last summer. The chorus has a really raw catchy riff, played over Val’s deep heavy bass line. The riffs throughout the track are explosive, with a really rough deep sound, taking the EP more towards heavier darker indie rock than the soft classic sound set out by the title track. It’s that heavy rich riff near the end of the track which gives it so much rigour; crashing down with Anthony’s rough proper rock vocals, the track maintains a controlled element throughout, with the bass and guitar intertwining perfectly to create that brilliantly catchy riff..

Nobody Puts My Baby In The Corner plays next, and there’s one word to define this track: heavy. It opens with the most enthralling bass riff, very groovy and funky with an upbeat feel good vibe. The guitar kicks in as a riff rather than sharp chords, before the chorus crashes down with the lyrics ‘nobody puts my baby in the corner, you should already know.’ Anthony’s vocals are extremely accented and raw, with that rough English bite which is so unique to the classic indie rock sound embodied in the EP. I love the focus on the guitar too, with the lead and bass being a central focus of the track; this just makes for a heavy build up of guitar rock, with this wonderfully authentic rock’n’roll sound. She Makes The Rain Dance is one of my favourite tracks in general, and it’s got that unique guitar sound which really defines this EP. ‘I lose my mind all the time‘ Anthony sings, ‘I lose my mind a thousand times over’ with the guitar playing brilliantly over this. The soft ‘oohs’ in the background add an extra dimension to the track, and that’s what I like so much about the EP; each track is so well written and cleverly created, with those meticulous riffs and soft drum riffs and loops building up to create an undeniably brilliant sound. It seems there’s been a rise in the view recently that guitar music is dead, but She Makes The Rain Dance as a single track alone defies this perception completely.

EP rating: ★★★★☆

You can follow The Black Roses on Facebook & Twitter

Listen to the EP on Spotify and iTunes

The Black Roses feature on my Bands to watch in 2017 list, and you can read my interview from last summer with the four piece here

Breaking all sorts of boundaries with their music, lyrics, and overall no-shit attitudes, False Heads have made yet another crack in the music industry with release of new EP Gutter Press. Luke, Jake and Barney have been one of the most exciting bands to emerge over the last year and a bit, and already have the support of Iggy Pop, This Feeling promoters, and are signed to the 25 Hour Convenience Store record label which is owned by The Libertines’ Gary Powell. Gutter Press is an explosive EP, featuring five unreal tracks; Twentynothing, Thick Skin, Weigh In, Slew and Comfort Consumption. The EP really is blinding; their tracks are electric, full of so much energy and power and frustration. The EP has a very anti-establishment edge to it, something practised by musicians Luke grew up listening to, such as Eminem and Nirvana. What I like so much about the band is how gritty and cutting edge their music is; it’s got this wild grunge quality, very intense and raw, with blunt cynicism cropping up in their lyrics. Thick Skin, Weigh In and Slew had already been released prior to the EP release, and it was seeing these tracks live last year which got me into False Heads in the fist place. Slew is undoubtedly one of the best rock tracks out there; the heavy catchiness of that raucous distorted riff is unbelievable, and it completely tears the track to pieces. Luke’s vocal throughout the EP is very blunt too, full of the attitude and cynical sarcasm which is so key in post punk and grunge music. His vocals are especially good on lead single Twentynothing, which again has this amazing guitar riff from the very start. The attitude behind the EP is very much a two fingers up to the establishment, a big ‘fuck you’ to what the music industry (and political establishment for that matter) delivers. From the aggression and powerful punk feel of tracks on the EP like Thick Skin, I can already see the hectic mad moshpits the band are going to draw when playing these tracks live.

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Up the fucking Gutter Press: False Heads 

The EP opens up with Twentynothing, which for some reason reminds me of Blur’s Song 2. The way Luke delivers his vocals are so cutting and harsh, with that gritty London punk undertone to his voice. ‘We will keep you in the dark’ he yells, with the chorus crashing down in the most aggressive powerful way. The EP’s name- Gutter Press– is taken out of the lyrics to Twentynothing with that gritty sharp chord progression playing in the background. The track builds up in intensity as it goes on, with the chorus being a proper rowdy, headbanger chorus. It’s abrasive and gutsy, full of the frustrated attitude that makes False Heads so unique and exciting (and a bit fucked up too). Next up is Thick Skin, which is a heavy piece of angry bluntness. ‘Spit, cough and pass it around’ Luke spits into the mic, with that heavy attitude loud and in your face. The track is one of my favourites on the EP, and it’s one fans are well aware of as the band released it as a single last year alongside Slew. It’s the build-up of the guitar, and that heavy abrasive riff which makes the track so ridiculously good. Similarly, Weigh In does this too with more of an emphasis on the bass which Jake plays with so much skill and energy. The lyrics are blunt and cutting too, one of my favourite lines in the track being ‘you are hung, drawn and quartered- that’s my idea of torture.’ The bass riff is really catchy and the drumming from Barney is especially hostile and dynamic too. The track features moments without the lead guitar playing too, which gives it this feel of a build-up, in terms of anticipating the heavy crashing drop of the chorus. Luke’s vocal is very accented too, with his East London accent helping give the EP a more nostalgic 70s punk feel. That drop before the last chorus is possibly one of the best on the EP, one which I always fucking love live (having seen the band twice live now).

Slew is the next track, and as already mentioned it’s my favourite on the EP. That riff is the most hectic, raucous piece of music I’ve heard in years, reminding me so much of bands like Nirvana in terms of meticulous skill (riff wise) and energy. The track picks up on nuances and social commentaries too, and that’s what is so brilliant about False Heads- there’s a bitterness and anger there which helps their tracks connect with each listener in a different way. Comfort Consumption is almost the dark horse track on the EP- it stands out a lot due to the more delicate riff and slower feel it has. It doesn’t lack punk aggression though, with the title itself being a piece of social commentary. ‘My insides are out’ Luke repeats throughout the track, as well as the line ‘these thoughts don’t belong to me.’ It’s a brilliant track, with the guitar more soft and calm as opposed to the rest of the EP. It then picks up in pace halfway through, before the drums and guitar crash down in sync rounding off the EP with that heaviness and blaring distortion which is so unique to False Heads.

On False Heads, rock icon Iggy Pop stated; ‘these kids make a lot of noise, I like it’- too fucking right they do. For the band’s debut EP, Gutter Press rips up the meaning of modern day punk, breaking all the established boundaries put in place for rock music.

EP rating: ★★★★★

False Heads also feature on my Bands to Watch in 2017 list (duh), and you can read my interview with Luke here, and my gig review from last year’s show at The Water Rats with This Feeling here

The band will be playing an EP launch show on Saturday (11/3/17) at Nambucca in London; you can purchase last minute tickets here.

You can listen to the EP via Spotify or iTunes, or buy the CD/ vinyl & other exclusive merch from the band’s Pledge Music site

The Empire Police are one of the coolest new rock bands, with a compelling, lively indie rock sound channelled on their EP The Empire Police which was released last month. Made up of Jordao (lead vocals and guitar), Tom (lead guitar), Fynley (drums) and George (bass), the group are based in Preston. In terms of their EP, it’s got quirky indie-pop/ Britpop elements, with the vocals and guitar raw enough to give it an edgy rock’n’roll grit. One of my favourite releases of the year, the EP contains a really exciting interesting bunch of tracks, with each track drawing on unique indie rock sounds. My favourite track on the EP would have to be Taxi Rank, a track I’ve been playing on repeat a lot recently. It’s got this brilliantly light quirky guitar paired by really raw, deep vocals. The track flows perfectly, building up in intensity halfway through with the guitar and drums crashing down in sync to create a heavy, head-banger beat. The guitar matches the rolling drum loops perfectly too, just adding to the immensity of the tune. It opens in the most beautiful way too, with a meticulous single riff being played alongside the bass which kicks in after a couple of lines. It starts off in this soft, light indie way before picking up in pace. Jordao’s voice is amazing too, very deep and dark with an accented edge giving the track a more interesting aura. I’d definitely compare their sound to that of groups like Courteeners, Peace or The Enemy, fusing indie rock with more post-punk and Britpop sounds. I also love Stop The Clocks, which features those same guitar sounds Taxi Rank does. The guitar is slightly blurred with little distortions going on to give it a more classical rock sound, all tied in perfectly by Fynley’s drumming which is especially good on Stop The Clocks. Jordao’s voice is powerful and deep with a really intense dark quality to it, almost like Ian Curtis. ‘Tell me darling, is this what you came for?‘ he broodingly asks, before the track suddenly changes in pace and tone. This is one of my favourite things about the band; they’re very unique and don’t abide by the typical way in which a song should be done- they change pace and beat throughout, making their music thoroughly interesting to listen to.

empire-police
The Empire Police

The other tracks on the EP are Out Of Nowhere, Just By Chance and The Final Crusade. These tracks possess that powerful indie rock sound, particularly Out Of Nowhere which features a fantastically heavy bass, making it seem like an ideal track to be performed live. It’s lyrically wonderful too; lines like ‘Christ’s sake I missed the bus‘ make it a humorous and give it a funny, more youthful edge, whilst other lines like ‘you’re the perfect inconvenience‘ and ‘love would only piss you off if you’re bothered‘ make the track hit you quite hard. I love the fast drum riff on this track too, with Fynley really showcasing how skilled a drummer he is. The crashing-down in the track of the line ‘came out of nowhere‘ (which is repeated a few times) gives the track a raucous indie rock bite, which is really powerful and abrasive. Just By Chance features that guitar sound again, with a blurred distorted riff kicking in from the off, adding to the rest of the track’s power. The vocals are raw and deep again, pairing brilliantly with the underlying heavy bass and those short sharp little riffs. Jordao almost spits the lyrics in this track, which give his voice a much rougher heavier sound which adds to the indie post-punk edge to the track. He reminds me a bit of vocalists like Adam from 485C, or Miles Kane. ‘Fuck it, let’s carry on pretending‘ he yells, accompanied by the blaring rowdiness of that guitar. Whilst this track showcases the heaviness of the band and Fynley’s skilled drumming, these elements are showcased perfectly on The Final Crusade. With its unusual, unorthodox guitar sound and that deeply intriguing drumming, the track is a lot more brooding and intriguing than the rest of the EP. ‘Intoxicated masquerade, a bullshit blockade‘ are amongst the deep lyrics in the track. The guitar is a lot heavier too, with powerful aggression from the band who all play in sync so well together. The guitar smashes with the drums, giving the track a heap of dirty energy and a raw post-punk sound. It’s not aggressive in a loud or messy sense however; it’s a very solid, carefully controlled track which leaves you wanting more and more.

The band played last year alongside bands like Cabbage and Trampolene, and given the increased amount of support and hype around the band following these shows and last month’s explosive EP release, the rest of the year hopefully promises big things for these lads. You can listen to the EP on Spotify, Apple Music, or iTunes.

EP rating: ★★★★☆

St Albans three piece Pages have been building up a reputation for a few months now as one of the most interesting and fun indie-synth rock bands to emerge in the local area and they have just released their new EP, Keep Your Love. The three-track long EP is a beautiful set of tracks, showcasing the variety of skills the band possess, both lyrically and musically. The band are made up of Matt on lead vocals and guitar, Danny on bass, and James on drums. The sound of their music is similar to bands like The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club or Foals, mixing indie rock with synth-pop brilliantly. But the usage of synth sounds doesn’t take away from the rawness and DIY bite their music has. It’s very chilled and relaxed indie pop, with the heaviness of the guitar and Matt’s blurred vocals giving it a more exciting and intriguing sound. The EP opens with Keep Your Love, which has a soothing indie rock sound to it. Matt’s vocals are quite harsh and cutting in this, with James’ steady drumming and Danny’s intricate bass riffs tying it together perfectly. The riff is quite heavy, and very catchy. The chorus is really great to listen to, with that deep bass line running throughout the whole track. There’s an element of distortion to Matt’s voice too, giving the track a retro indie rock sound, with the quirkiness of the guitar keeping it fresh and modern sounding. Despite there being similarities to bands like The 1975, Pages’ music is a lot grittier with really brilliant guitar riffs building up throughout the title track.

The second track is very similar to The 1975 (perhaps tracks like She Lays Down) in terms of the raw vocal and the softness of the guitar; Amber. The synth sound on Amber is exercised beautifully on this track, with the guitar delicate and intricate from the start. Danny’s bass is deep and vivid too; it’s not as loud or as cutting as it is on the rest of the EP, but is played well enough to give the track more structure and framework. The track reminds me a little bit of Pink Floyd’s Cluster One (from The Division Bell) through the rolling riffs played by Matt throughout. James’ drumming is soft and controlled on Amber too, with a synth pad being used to give the track extra momentum and impact. The track speeds up half way through with a more raw beat kicking in, giving Amber a sudden rock’n’roll shape up. The drumming becomes louder too, with the bass line becoming more complex. The synth sound continues, with a gorgeous synthetic overlay on the track which plays over Matt’s brilliant guitar solo. The guitar definitely becomes a lot more raucous, making the track a lot more intense and exciting (especially when performed live).

The final track on the EP is The Road, which opens with an unreal guitar riff; the bass is really powerful on this track, with the guitar’s rolling riffs cutting through the track. Matt’s voice also sounds a lot more pure and raw on this too, and it’s a bit deeper too which helps add to the intensity of the track. The riff cuts into short sharp chord-playing in the chorus, with James adding to this sound with his heavy, steady drumming. The best thing about the whole EP is how well the individual talents of James, Danny and Matt are tied together, and how well their playing showcase these individual elements. The construction of the tracks is blinding, with an extremely professional sound to them. The sound of the EP makes it seem like a professionally recorded EP from a well established band, not from such a small local band. The EP really promises a lot for Pages, and you can listen to the tracks on Bandcamp or SoundCloud.

Pages also feature on my Bands to Watch in 2017 post, and you can read my interview with them and live review of their Horn gig (7.01.2016)

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Pages: (L to R) James Burwell, Danny Cheeswright, & Matt Kersey

The Feckless are a new punk-garage rock band, who have recently released debut EP Empire. A blistering collection of gritty rock tracks, Empire opens with Take Back The Streets which is definitely my favourite track on the EP; the guitar is really raw and messy, with experimental riffs kicking in nearer the end of the track. I love how blunt and honest the track sounds, with heavy post-punk grit to Joe’s vocals. It’s a brilliantly heavy blast of punk, with a very pure DIY bite to it. Empire draws in those same guitar elements, with heavy riffs and a sharp set of chords to accompany the distortion of Joe’s voice and the drums providing a steady, solid beat throughout. Similarly, Transmission has that rough distorted guitar which makes the band’s tracks so unique and exciting to listen to; Joe’s voice throughout the whole EP is softly distorted, with a proper punk grittiness to it, sounding very raw and real. The blunt edge of The Feckless is reflected in Machinery, which is a slightly slower track. The hazily raw guitar on it though proves punk music doesn’t have to be loud and fast and in your face; it can be more subtle and vulnerable, whilst maintaining the intense rawness of typical punk. One Way Street is pure class too, rounding off the EP perfectly. It’s a really classic punk rock sound, bringing in elements of 70s punk and late 60s rock’n’roll. There seems to be an element of archaic frustration to the EP, giving it a retro old school punk sound, like something you’d hear under Thatcher back in the 80s. Punk is such a difficult genre to embody; but more so than embodying simply the sound of punk, The Feckless manage to embody the feeling behind it, something which can be so hard to do. A raw, exciting addition to the current punk/ alt-rock scene, The Feckless are a much needed new rock band, who deliver one million percent with the gritty filth of Empire.

You can listen to the EP via SoundCloud

empire
Empire

For more on The Feckless, you can read my interview with lead vocalist Joe below

Tell me about the band: who’s in it and how did you form?

The Feckless is Max Mortimer on lead guitar, Louis Wild on rhythm, Ollie Carney on drums, Ed Hoon on bass and me (Joe Lansley) on vocals. The band kind of just fell together by default to start with – me Ed and Max had nowt to do so Ed nicked a bass from the school we were at, I started ranting I’m Waiting For The Man over it, and we spent a while writing songs and firing drummers. Ollie and Louis came in earlier this year and we made a bid for some degree of legitimacy, then I got this email.

Where are you guys from and what’s the local music scene like?

We’re not really from anywhere to be honest, we’re trapped by birth in the cultural wasteland of outer Derbyshire, but we’ve adopted the Sheffield scene and there’s some pretty cool shit cracking off, Baba Naga and the Eccentric Research council and that, inclusive vibes all round and a lot’s happening.

Who’s the dream artist to collaborate with?

That’d have to be Lias and Saul from Fat White Family – they’re kind of band-wide idols for us. To be involved in something that compelling and constantly fluctuating, especially in these times major-label landfill “quirky” indie products is definitely a kind of fantasy.

 Which bands influenced you growing up, and who would you say are direct influences on the band’s overall sound?

In the beginning we were all about the archetypal proto-punk Stooges, MC5 sound, and that’s stuck with us because it’s how we learnt, but since then we’ve merged that intensity with more musically interesting influences like a massive obsession with The Fall and some more Radiohead type vibes on a chill track called Machinery from our upcoming EP.

Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?

There’s been a really exciting round of debut albums coming from the Trashmouth label in south London, Meatraffle and Bat Bike and that – they’re not really new bands but the label’s recent relative notoriety has recently given innovative music normally confined to empty pubs access to the nation. There’s also some very vibrant youth on the go in Sheffield, bands like Knife Man and In Sulks, cheerful sounds going all the way to the top.

What’s been your favourite album/ single to be released this year?

The Wytches knocked out one of those singles in C-Side that just makes you want to massacre a guitar til it sounds half that fucked, but nothing’s come close for me to FWF’s (Fat White Family) second album Songs For Our Mothers, jarring lyrical content hasn’t been so directly personal or entwined with such original music since Mark E Smith looked vaguely human.

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

To be honest I can’t really see it getting better than 200 cap warehouses with DIY vibes and people going skitz for it; we always used to say we’d get a generator and fill our local quarry when we made it though, so I’ll say that.

What influences your lyrics?

I was originally a writer and probably still would be if the novel hadn’t disappeared up the arse of the bourgeoisie, so literature’s pretty heavy in my lyrics – our new EP’s named Empire in reference not just to the short term fiasco but the backstory to it I got reading Things Fall Apart and 100 Years Of Solitude; post-colonial shit that puts Brexit in a long context of nationalist hypocrisy. As far as personal content it tackles intense moments of emotional clarity, I don’t bother with specifics because I don’t see the relevance to anyone else; it’s pretty nihilistic but it’s ok because I can’t enunciate to save my life.

What are the band’s plans in terms of recording and gigging?

We’re currently putting together a three or four way gig swap with young bands we love from other cities to mark our EP release, taking promoters out of the equation and getting a cheeky bite-size tour together for us all. Recording wise we tend to knock out a new track when we’re sick of the old ones and I’m still on honeymoon period with this new stuff but you never know when you might write Sweet Child O’ Mine or Don’t Stop Believing

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

Had a bit of a life changer at Reading festival 2015 back when I used to have money for stuff like that, Imagine Dragons were on the main stage so we dived in the nearest tent and ended up catching one of the last round of The Amazing Snakeheads shows – I remember seeing a clearly unhinged young man yelling at strangers and thought yeah, I could do that.

Introducing Thelma Ball, a new breezy indie rock band full of messy riffs, hazily distorted vocals, and a broodingly melancholy edge. The band have been together for a good few years now, and released the Self Help EP last year which is an outstanding collection of tracks; Healthy Pupil would have to be my favourite track, with really softly distorted guitar accompanying Mike’s vocals which have a hazy sound through the distortion of the microphone. The blurriness of Mike’s vocals are a main feature in the band’s music, giving their sound a very retro-vintage rock aura, drawing similarities to vocal effects used by Julian Casablancas in The Strokes. The band’s sound is quite experimental, but still draws on classic indie rock- there’s that breezy American rock feel to their music, as if it came straight out of a gritty New York studio. Confused is a brilliant track too, with really strong, solid guitar playing throughout. Thelma Ball’s music is very consistent and solid, keeping the heavy guitar and soft but cleverly intricate drum riffs, all tied in perfectly by that retro rock sound from the vocals. Their sound is very brooding and charming, with such fantastic old school rock elements in it that their tracks leave an undeniable impression on you. It’s very blunt and raw music too, with no pretence about it; what I particularly liked is how uncompromising it is, with little experimental riffs and sounds, especially on Start A Fight. The opening riff and that heaviness of the guitar on Start A Fight is immense too, with those classic raw vocals and soft drumming building it up into an immense burst of indie rock power. The name “Thelma Ball” is actually the name of Mike’s grandma, and the four piece are composed of Mike on guitar and vocals, Rob on guitar, Liam on bass, and Jamie on drums. The London based band have an unreal sound, which I’m hoping will help them take off properly in 2017; for fans of artists like The Strokes, they might just be your new favourite band.

You can read my interview with Thelma Ball below:

Tell me about your band; who’s in it and how did you form?

Michael: Liam and I have been playing music together for ages, this guy seems to be able to play anything so if I wanted to start a samba-punk-metal band, I’d probably still ask him. I met Monte and Jamie after leaving the flat lands of Lincolnshire and like an inevitable and predictable love story, we’ve ended up playing together

Liam: Mike and I are originally from a small town in Lincolnshire called Holbeach, and have known each other since we were 14-15. We went to college together, and were in a couple of bands before Thelma Ball, so we kind of know the ins and outs of each other’s playing. Mike met Monte and Jamie at Hertfordshire Uni; I think they were all on the same course. I moved down to London a few years ago into the same house that Mike and Monte lived in. We were a three piece for a while, Mike, Jamie and me, until we decided we needed a second guitar to give us a fuller sound, and that’s where Monte came in

How did you come up with the name ‘Thelma Ball’?

Michael: When we started out, we were using the name, SZYSLAK, a reference to the famous bartender from The Simpsons. The name change came about after one mispronunciation too many, aside from the fact that even the keenest spellers were struggling to find us. Thelma Ball is the name of my grandma, somehow it seemed like the right way to go and it sounds odd but it didn’t feel too much like a person’s name, like Stuart Robinson or Anne McCarthy does, not that I have anything against the use of those particular names, however

Liam: We’ve gone through many different names. We were called SZYSLAK for quite a while, after Moe Szyslak from The Simpsons. But we had to change it due to people being unable to spell it… it wasn’t fun having to spell the name out to people during gigs! Thelma Ball is the name of Mike’s Nan; it’s a cool name and it doesn’t really have a specific meaning behind it

Tell me a bit about where you’re from and the local music scene

Michael: We come from all over the land. Liam and I are from a small town in Lincolnshire whereas Jamie and Monte had London and Liverpool to keep them occupied. Growing up, there was a lot of travel in between gigs for the bands Liam and I played in and a lot of bands knew each other within what there was of a local music scene. London is almost the opposite, there are so many bands that you’re always playing with different people and we’ve swapped the long distances for traffic. In London, you’ll find us at most Joe Osborne & The Winter Moon gigs and vice versa, so there’s a ‘mini scene’ there maybe

Liam: Where me and Mike are from is one of the flattest places in the country, a lot of it is below sea level… there’s more hills there than what there is a music scene. It’s alright if you’re in cover bands playing in pubs and that, but it’s a vast sea of nothing if you want to get out there doing your own stuff. We’ve played at places all around London. I wouldn’t really say there’s that much of scene per se, there are little snippets of stuff here and there.  We’ve played with some really great bands, but most of the time they’re a complete different genre to what we are

Monte: I’m originally for Liverpool but recently moved to London. Liverpool music-wise is really thriving, I know a few decent venues have shut down in the city over the last few years but there are still some great bands around

You note some key influences being The Strokes, Nirvana and Mac DeMarco; which other artists have influenced you and who did you grow up listening to?

Michael: In the last few years, bands like Tigercub, The Growlers and Slaves have made an impression as well as a few classics like Pixies. I’m also a supporter of Rodrigo Amarante, otherwise known as the man who does the Narcos theme tune. I like the way he can put a song together. I remember the first music I put on my MP3 player was comedy music like Weird Al Yankovic. I’ve also listened to a lot of Arctic Monkeys and RHCP in my time, there’s a bus service in my hometown called the 505 that will forever provide imagery for the AM classic

Liam: Personally I’m a massive fan of The Beatles; McCartney’s written some of the most melodic, catchiest bass lines ever, and that’s definitely influenced the way that I play. When I was a kid I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be Liam Gallagher or Robbie Williams when I grew up

Monte: I’d say the Pixies, Pearl Jam, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine are my other influences. I grew up playing in heavier bands, so I’d also add bands like Trash Talk, Gallows, The Misfits and Ceremony to the list too

Jamie: I’ve always listened to a lot of hip-hop and punk rock. These styles may always sneak into the music

What’s your first memory of music?

Michael: I used to go and see my Dad play in bands around town when I was very young so probably that, although I have fond memories of listening to Hendrix in the car during trips to Scotland, Highway Chile is still one of the best things to hear on a car journey

Liam: I can always remember watching/listening to my dad play guitar at home. I must have been around three, or four years old; I think that’s where my real love for music began

Monte: Buying my first ever album – Enema of the State by Blink 182

Jamie: Long drives with my parents as they played Prince and Marvin Gaye

What influences your lyrics?

Michael: I remember the first song I wrote was a parody of the popular hymn that went, ‘I’m going to paint a perfect picture’, reworked into, ‘make a perfect pizza’. That song was largely influenced by my favourite toppings at the time. Nowadays, I’m drawn to the grey area we all seem to occupy, neither especially satisfied nor that unhappy and unsure if you’re being ambitious or delusional. I find it interesting to write about the niggling feelings at the back of people’s heads that have so much control over us

Given the state of politics currently, would you ever consider embodying that in your music?

Micahel: I think it’s inevitable that politics will influence our wider ‘grey areas’ and levels of satisfaction, so indirectly, we do and would. I think it’s important when people are political with their music and there are smart, effective ways to do it. I’d always feel slightly trepidatious about tackling a particular political issue in an explicit way because the song is then forever tied to it, but if it felt right then definitely

Monte: I’d like to, perfect time for it really – there’s a lot to say, and no one saying it right now (in a musical sense)

Jamie: If it is something that you feel hasn’t been said then nothing should be off limits in music

What’s been your favourite music release this year?

Michael: It could be City Club by The Growlers, I’ve got plenty of use out of it already and went to see them in Brixton recently, which was very, very good. Joe Osborne & The Winter Moon also offer a very nice Christmas time purchase with their EP, The Republic. They are a talented bunch and need checking out

Liam: It’d be a tossup between Everything You’ve Come to Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets,  the Future Present Past EP by The Strokes, We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest, or The Heavy Entertainment Show by Robbie Williams

Monte: Tough one, I’ve listened to the DMA’s, Skepta’s and Radiohead’s new records a lot. If I had to say one I’d say Skepta’s Konnichiwa for the cultural significance

Jamie: A Tribe Called Quest never fails to disappoint. Their new album We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is a definite recommend

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

Michael: It might have to be Mikhael Paskalev at Electrowerkz although seeing him at Sebright Arms was special because I didn’t know who he was, my good friend Jonnie asked if I wanted to go and it turned out to be a great decision. Paskalev told me I looked like Jeff Buckley at Electrowerkz though, which I can’t ignore

Liam: I was lucky enough to see Paul McCartney at The O2 a few years ago, that’s definitely top of the list for me

Monte: Probably Deftones at Leeds Festival back in 2009

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

Micahel: For me, the marker growing up was playing on Jools Holland. I find it hard to dismiss how great it would be to fulfil that fantasy, playing at Celtic Park would also be a treat though

Liam: Got to be either The Hollywood Bowl, or Glastonbury. I’ve always liked the idea of playing in an amphitheatre type venue.

Monte: Primavera on the beach

Jamie: Playing Glastonbury would be awesome. It’s such an iconic festival. Or Reading Festival for nostalgic childhood memories

Who’d be your favourite artist (living or dead) to collaborate with?

Michael: Jeff Buckley would be humbling. Johnny Cash would be fun, we could eat cake in a bush afterwards.

Liam: I think Josh Homme would be amazing to work with, both as a producer and a musician. Arctic Monkeys wouldn’t sound anything like they do without his producing on Humbug. Julian Casablancas would be another person who’d be great to work with. He produced the newest Growlers album, City Club, and you can really hear his influence on it.

Monte: Kurt Cobain

Jamie: There’s so many I would love to work with. Collaborating with Amy Winehouse would have been a great experience!

For more on the band, you can check them out on Spotify & Souncloud, or follow their Twitter & Facebook