EP Review: “Keep Your Love” by Pages

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
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“I remember seeing a clearly unhinged young man yelling at strangers and thought yeah, I could do that”… my interview with The Feckless’ Joe, plus new EP review

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

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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.

Old school indie rock at its best: Introducing Thelma Ball

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

 

 

Introducing the lyrical beauty and light indie quirkiness of Manchester five piece TAMSYN

TAMSYN are an exciting new indie band from Manchester, brilliantly blending indie rock with pop which they showcase beautifully on their debut EP, TAMSYN. The five piece are made up of Alex on lead vocals, Michael on rhythm guitar, Phil on lead guitar, Joel on drums, and Zach on bass. Their EP came out this year, and is genuinely one of my favourite releases of 2016; it features the most sunning, beautifully melodic guitar, creating this lovely soft sound. The guitar on Abi Jones is softly distorted, accompanied by a light breezy bass throughout. The band’s music is so easy to get lost in; it’s very transfixing and has a dizzy, hazy sound to it. Drum loops and rich deep vocals enhance the tracks so much too, especially on Abi Jones which I love. The guitar rolls lightly in the back, with soft but intricately meticulous riffs playing throughout the entire EP. Want You To Care also features this wonderful guitar, a recurring sound in TAMSYN’s music; it’s a more lively bouncy track, one which I can imagine would be crazily fun at a gig. There’s nothing synthetic about the band’s music; it’s very raw and honest, with this great open sound to it. It’s soft and breezy, similar to me to bands such as Moonlight Zoo, The Fratellis (especially their early music), Circa Waves, and JAWS.
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My favourite track on the EP would have to be Things Change, with that loosely distorted riff kicking in from the start, matched by a lovely acoustic guitar. Alex is such a great vocalist too; he doesn’t over-sing or overstretch his voice, helping keep a soft melodic indie sound to the band. His voice is deep though as well, with the richness matching that hypnotic guitar. The lovely quirky riffs tie in so well with the rest of the elements the band use; a five piece is quite big, but all the individual elements in the band work really well together, creating this wonderful feel-good indie sound. Just Need You is another track on the EP, and could be the track to accompany late summer nights; it’s hazy and soft and vague, with a stunning melody that just takes over. Normally I listen to heavier indie rock, with most of my bands being gritty rock bands; quite the opposite, TAMSYN are a soft indie group, but I adore their sound even so. Lyrically, Michael’s writing is poetic; lines like “I’m heartless ’cause I gave you mine” and “I don’t know why I keep letting you down, sometimes you have to get lost to be found” resonate particularly hauntingly. The overall sound TAMSYN have is simply captivating; it’s melodically and lyrically beautiful, with hazy almost trippy elements to it. The softness of their music with raw indie undertones gives them an exciting sound, with the light indie rock sound pairing with pop and even folk music in the loveliest way possible. As mentioned earlier, the band are based in Manchester, and given the blistering sound and hypnotic beauty of their EP, following in the steps of Manchester legends such as The Smiths and The Stone Roses will be a breeze.
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TAMSYN
For more on TAMSYN, you can read my interview with them below
 
Tell me about your band; who’s in it, and how and when did you form?
Hey! So we’re TAMSYN, a captivating new rock band from Manchester. We have Michael (guitar/lyrics) Phil (lead guitar) Zach (bass) Joel (drums) and Alex (vocals). We started three years ago. Joel and Michael met by chance working in Manchester. Joel was meant to have landed a job in a bar but was transferred to the restaurant next door where he saw Michael and immediately asked if he liked music. Michael said he did and Joel informed him that he had a friend called Phil who played guitar. Michael, Joel and Phil started writing songs together and decided to eventually look for a singer. We put an advert out and luckily Alex had just arrived in Manchester from Greece looking for a band to join. After recording our EP and getting booked for some gigs we knew had to get a permanent bassist and fortunately Zach got in touch to complete the line up!
 
Where are you from and what’s the local music scene like?
Whilst none of us were born in Manchester, we all live here now and have adopted it as our home! It was actually Manchester’s famous music scene that attracted us here. We’re massive fans of the city’s legendary bands, The Smiths, Stone Roses and Oasis. The scene today is still very strong. There are so many superb acts playing regularly in iconic local venues. Recently we were part of Sonder Fest, a brand new festival held in the city’s bohemian Northern Quarter. The event took place over three days across several bars and was a roaring success. It really highlighted how much interest and support there is here for new bands. Alex also had the pleasure of bumping into the inspirational Johnny Marr recently who was more than happy to chat for a few minutes. It definitely helps create a buzz around the place meeting your heroes like that and knowing you’re playing in the same pubs and clubs that they used to once upon a time!
 
Tell me about the recording of your self-titled EP?
The recording of our debut self titled EP was a fantastic experience. Luckily for us our good friend and mentor Andrian Sharples was able to produce the project at Liverpool’s iconic Motor Museum studio. We had the brilliant James Mellor sound engineering and the whole process was a dream. The studio itself is incredible and with James and Andrian on board the sessions ran superbly. We loved that some of our favourite artists, like the Arctic Monkeys, had also been recorded there. Hearing our songs come to life like they did was an unbelievable feeling. We worked so hard on getting all the aspects right and we are beyond proud of how everything turned out. We just can’t wait to get started on our next one!
 
Which bands influenced you growing up, and who are your favourite current musicians?
We all grew up loving bands like the Beatles, Oasis and The Smiths. We diversify slightly with some of our more personal favourites such as the Eagles for Phil, Radiohead for Alex and Bruce Springsteen for Michael. Zach cites his old music teacher Frank White as having the greatest influence on him. What all these artists have in common is how they use rock’n’roll to write honest, intelligent and moving music that is personal to them but also accessible to all of us.
There are so many current bands we love too. Michael, Phil and Joel saw Cage The Elephant at Leeds Festival a couple of years ago and were blown away by their incredible presence on stage. They have a real genuine rock’n’roll sound and attitude. Other bands like the National and Arcade Fire we love as well because they are thoughtful and poetic.
What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?
For all of us Glastonbury is the ultimate gig! It’s like the musicians World Cup final. On a personal level it would be a pleasure to play Reading and Leeds as these were the festivals we went to as teenagers. It would be a dream to stand on that stage and look out on to the sea of people knowing we were once amongst them! Zach says it would just be a dream to play a gig where we don’t have to carry around and set up own equipment for once!
 
Which artist, living or dead, would you like to collaborate with?
Phil’s favourite guitarist of all time is that mad genius Joe Walsh (Eagles) He tears through solos with ease and sings with such emotion you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Zach would love to write more pop style songs one day and sees Swedish song writer Max Martin as the perfect man to team up with. Michael considers John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) as the most mellifluous guitar player of all time and would love to write lyrics to one of his compositions. If David Bowie were still alive Alex would love to collaborate with him as he was truly one of the greatest artists ever, managing to reinvent himself and write exceptional songs in many different genres.
 
What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
We’ve been to some crazy gigs in our time! The Libertines is always a riot and the reunion at Reading a few years ago was incredible! Joel and Alex both saw Morrissey live not too long ago and agree he was magnificent. Phil remembers being part of the crowd at Blur in Hyde Park with 65,000 people singing along to ‘Tender’ as  Damon Albarn was moved to tears. Michael maintains Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was the greatest gig he’s ever seen (who else has the power to rock out for three hours and bring Sir Paul McCartney on for an encore than The Boss!) Zach remembers seeing the Frank White band live and being invited on stage to play with him! It’s still one of his favourite gigs despite the amp blowing up as Richard Hawley was on hand to offer some advice and consolation!
 
What’s the most influential album of all time to you?
For Alex OK Computer by Radiohead is the most influential album. It was an album that moved rock forward and dared to experiment. Phil was inspired at an early age by The Clash’s London Calling. The gritty riffs and licks alongside provocative, thoughtful lyrics proved that punk could aspire to more. Michael remembers buying the first Arctic Monkeys album (from a Woolworth’s if anyone remembers them!). It was the first time he’d heard an album by a contemporary artist where the lyrics just articulated everything around him so accurately. Jazz album Getz/Gilberto has had a strong influence on Zach’s musical playing style.
 
What inspires your lyrics?
The lyrics are woven together from personal experiences and literature. They’re usually trying to make sense of a situation by telling a story to reach a conclusion. All four songs on the EP have similar themes about love and relationships but approach the matter in different ways. On the surface Things Change, Want You To Care, Just Need You and Abi Jones may seem like superficial love songs but there’s plenty of darker material going on underneath if people want to delve. I think it’s important for writers to leave enough room for people to take the story and adapt it for themselves. The best authors don’t just describe a scene to you, they invite you up see it for yourself. We’re mindful of the fact that writing catchy or moving music is what most people will pay attention to but we like that we have some thoughtful and poetic lyrics to accompany them if people want to find that.
 
Given the current state of politics, is it something you’d ever want to write about?
Maybe, politics is such a minefield but with Brexit and Trump all our lives are going to be affected massively and it’s hard to see how we’re going to progress as a society or solve the issues that we have. If we were to get involved in that debate though we would like to write something that offered a solution not just opinion, which we don’t have right now but would possibly like to develop in the future.
 
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Introducing new gritty indie-rock band, MONO 01

Embodying the raw grittiness of DIY indie rock music perfectly, MONO 01 are an edgy, exciting new addition to the rock scene from the Bedfordshire area. Having formed during their A-levels, MONO 01 are made up of Nathan, Will, Tyler, and Sam. Something about their music is incredibly powerful and rough, with these brilliant undertones of indie rock and post-punk garage music to their sound. Fresh off the release of their self-titled debut EP, the band’s sound is really interesting and unique. The vocals have a definitive grit to them too, really reminiscent of vocalists like Pete Doherty or Alex Turner. To me, the really stand out element of their music is the quirkiness of the guitar, with really intricate riffs accompanying blurry, distorted vocals. The sound’s quite experimental too, with this hazily unique vibe to it; it’s really hard to put them in the same box as another band or music genre, as they manage to encompass and embody so many different things in their music perfectly. There’s a really sick sound which lies within all their tracks, which is that of roughness, DIY rawness, and just pure indie rock bite. This concept of DIY rock is one which punk band Wonk Unit introduced me to, and basically embodies all the factors which make rock bands proper rock bands; the struggle and emotion and power you can hear in the music, the aggression in the drumming and the longing and pain in the lyrics. To me, my favourite tracks on the EP are The Narcissist, with its brilliantly catchy mesmerising guitar and softly distorted vocals, as well as What I Want, featuring a funky beat, with really exciting guitar running throughout. Girl on the Other Side of Town is a fantastic track too, with the solid guitar throughout pairing with the grittiness of those really raw, real lyrics. I love the chorus where the guitar just lifts to hit that note, in such an unexpected, uncompromising way. And that’s my favourite thing about MONO 01; they’re so different and stand out as a nonconformist, alternative band. Lost Dreams is a class track too, with really great guitar from the off; what I love about the group is just how well composed their music is. All the elements tie in together so brilliantly, creating this messy rock sound, yet retaining a meticulous indie edge. The band have a gig coming up at Proud Camden on 2nd December, and you can purchase tickets here…for more on the band, you can read my interview with them below.

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MONO 01 live

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

Nathan: Before we started MONO 01 I had been doing some little bits of guitar and recording for some of Sam’s projects. We realised we worked pretty well together so decided to make an album in our free time at school, recording all the parts and mixing the album together using what equipment our school had. It ended up working quite well and we decided to do some gigs, recruiting Tyler on guitar and Will on bass. It’s all just evolved from there really. To be completely honest when we first started I didn’t even think we’d finish the album haha but I’m glad to see that we’re still going

Will: I was a latecomer to the group and that came about by chance! The bass player they had dropped out before the first proper performance Mono 01 had played, so Sam rang me up one evening and said they desperately needed someone to play for them. I jumped on the opportunity because I love playing, the problem was, I had to learn 9 original songs in a week during which time, I was revising for A levels which were getting closer. Long story short, we managed to get a couple of practices in before the gig and there we were: MONO 01

Tyler: 4-piece band formed through mutual connections at school

Sam: The band was formed when I approached Nathan about making an album together. It then became apparent that we would need to form a band for live performances and so we therefore asked Tyler and Will to join in our project

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

Nathan: We’re from Shefford in Bedfordshire. There’s a few great venues around like Esquires in Bedford, Club 85 in Hitchin and The Horn in St Albans where we played our first gig. It’s also pretty close to London by train so that opens up a lot of opportunities

Will: So we are from small villages in one area of Bedfordshire. Being from small villages, the music scene is very quiet! It has proven to be extremely difficult getting gigs near where we live because there really aren’t very many venues

Tyler: Bedfordshire, not as great as other areas but does a job

Sam: We are based in Hertfordshire where the local music scene is relatively quiet and mostly consists of gigs in local pubs

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MONO 01 live at The Horn, St Albans 

You’ve noted some of your influences as Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, and Johnny Marr- all class acts! Which other musicians have influenced you, and who did you grow up listening to?

Nathan: Well for me personally Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA would by far be my main influences. I’ve always loved the energy of Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not and that album in particular has influenced my writing and lyric style quite a lot since I first started writing. Queens of the Stone Age on the other hand are in my opinion probably the greatest rock band in history. They have such an immense sound that makes all of their riffs just epic. Another band I love is the Killers. Sam’s Town is one of my favourite albums and the song writing on that has definitely inspired my own

Will: I grew up listening to a lot of old music, car journeys with my dad and his CDs has impacted me more than I thought it would. I love David Bowie, The Human League and Simple Minds, but artists which have influenced me most would have to be The Stranglers. They influenced the punk movement heavily, inspiring bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash and I admire that. My playing style is very similar to that of their bass player – JJ Burnel, one of my idols. I think their mindset has rubbed off on me too and I really enjoy studying their lyrics and finding the meaning

Tyler: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Guthrie Govan are all notable influences of mine, outside of instrumental acts, my style is influenced by Circa Waves, Catfish, Dorje, and many more

Sam: The musicians that have influenced me most include bands such as Switchfoot, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band as well as solo acts such as John Mayer

Who’s the dream artists to collaborate with?

Nathan: Queens of the Stone Age definitely. Everything Josh Homme touches turns to gold and he’s basically just the Jesus of rock

Will: I think Royal Blood would be an awesome artist to colab with! We have a different sound to them, but I think that by working with them we could come up with something a little bit different and very interesting!

Tyler: Skepta

Sam: Switchfoot have always been my favourite band growing up. I would most like to collaborate with them

Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?

Nathan: I know he’s probably now not considered upcoming but I love Rat Boy I think he does some great stuff. His songs are so relatable to growing up British, he’s basically like if The Inbetweeners was an indie band

Will: I’m quite liking listening to Counterfeit, a punk rock band from London! Lead singer Jamie Campbell Bower knows how to get an audience going!

Sam: My favourite upcoming band is “Sam Gifford and The Innocent” and “MONO01”. This is a completely unbiased opinion…..

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

Nathan: Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression. Such a good combination of some awesome musicians, with great psychedelic sounds and lyrics. Not to mention when you combine Iggy Pop, QOTSA and Arctic Monkeys members it’s not exactly gonna be shit is it?

Will: I think my favourite single to be released is Enough by Counterfeit! The tone of the drums makes that song stand out, I’d love to go see them play that song live

Tyler: The Life of Pablo

Sam: Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

Nathan: Simple. Reading.  Although to be honest my dream is to be playing anywhere where you’ve got a sold out crowd singing every last word of your songs. Also Red Rocks is pretty cool

Will: Glastonbury main stage has got to be the dream! It’s a long way off but a closer goal is the BBC Radio 1 introducing stage!! That would be a great way to get our name out there!

Tyler: Coachella/ T in the park

Sam: To headline Glastonbury alongside Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t be too bad

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What influences your lyrics?

Nathan: I’m influenced by a range of things to be honest. We’ve got some tracks like Scaled Hands and Get Out Of My Face with your typical schoolboy romance and hopelessness but I also love to write lyrics that are a bit more unique or story based. Lost Dreams for example is about a friend I had who was always wanting to be a big star in musical theatre but I wasn’t too sure if they’d be able to make it. That got me thinking about what would happen to someone like her if they didn’t make it, inspiring me to write about a girl failing to succeed, turning to prostitution, having the child of a client and dying in the street from an overdose with the child crying next to her. A bit of an over-exaggeration you could say but I quite enjoy writing songs like that, where you imagine what might have happened in a certain situation (FYI she is doing quite well for herself phew so nothing to worry about)

Will: In terms of this album, I haven’t had an input on the lyrics that’s all Nathan. But if I’m writing songs I’d draw on things I find important! I hate love songs, so I’d never write about that. I’d also never write a song with empty lyrics; too many songs today are just like hypnotic beats brainwashing people. I was talking to one of my flat mates the other day and she was listening to some grime/house/I don’t even know, and she told me that the music I listen to was crap. I asked her if she thought that the music that she was listening to right then was better than Bowie… She said it was, and I was astounded. She said you can’t twerk to Bowie….. And I really had no words

Sam: Nathan is the lyricist for MONO 01’s tracks. However, in my own projects I am most inspired by real experiences and situations which are applicable and relevant to anyone listening

Given our current political climate, is politics something you’d ever consider writing about?

Nathan: Yeah definitely! I’m a massive fan of bands like Rage Against The Machine and the Dead Kennedys. I’ve written more political stuff for other projects but it’s yet to come into MONO 01 stuff. I’d love to write more obscure sort of political lyrics, like something satirical from the perspective of a dictator or something. That could create some really interesting songs, although the good old “FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME” is still good

Will: I would write about politics yes! I’d much rather be getting a message across about actual problems in this world than just write meaningless shit because it would be popular. If you can make people think as well as enjoy the music – that’s the real goal!

Sam: Won’t be writing a love song for Donald Trump anytime soon…

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

Nathan: As for gigging, we’ve got a gig at Proud Camden on the 2nd December and some others lined up in the new-year. We want to get a lot of festival slots in the summer hopefully and also play at the Unis of all the members. As for recording, we’ve started writing new songs for a second album and might start recording in the Summer, probably using equipment at Sam’s Uni. The second one’s looking to be a lot heavier than the first, and a bit darker

Will: Being scattered across the country in different universities makes it pretty difficult for us. We are working on a new album, ideas come from each of us whether it be some lyrics or a riff, and these are put together usually by Nathan and Sam; a second album is on its way!! In terms of gigging, we are going to do all that we can! Travelling is expensive for us students so we are trying to arrange gigs in times where we are all back together in the same place!

Sam: We next gig in Camden on the 2nd of December. I’m sure we will gig as much as possible. I think we are all also thinking about the possibility of a second album

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

Nathan: To be perfectly honest I’ve never actually been to a gig where we weren’t playing haha, but at our first gig we played alongside Scholars who were honestly amazing, such a mental live band! I was completely deaf by the time they finished but they really were on another level and their frontman was mad

Will: Has to be when I saw Simple Minds ft the Strangers in Glasgow 2015! My two favourite bands in one concert, you can’t beat it! We also got right down the front in the mosh, which I love! Could never sit down for a gig, always got to be jumping around!

Tyler: Joe Satriani at Hammersmith Odeon

Sam: Seeing Switchfoot in Edinburgh was well worth the 800 mile day trip

For more on the band, check out their Facebook & Instagram pages, or give their music a listen via YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Bandcamp.

Introducing new indie rock four piece from Preston, Three Day Weekend

It’s rare for new indie bands to come up who are genuinely talented and good at what they do but four piece rock band Three Day Weekend are a clear exception. I’ve actually followed the band for a while now, and was lucky enough to interview them recently. Hailing from Preston just outside of Manchester, the group are made up of Tom on lead vocals and guitar, Rhys on lead guitar, Liam on bass, and Adam on drums. Their music really sounds like an explosion of pure feel good indie music. You can tell there are clear influences from Britpop-indie bands, like Arctic Monkeys, with the band’s sound drawing similarities with acts like Babyshambles and Jake Bugg. There’s a very 2006 sound to it, with Bugg-esque vocals and Turner style lyrics. They’re such a quirky interesting band, definitely different to the current indie rock bands out there. They define fun indie-rock perfectly. I really love the quirkiness of the guitar, and light drumming which ties all their tracks together perfectly. Around a week ago, on September 30th, the band released their debut EP, entitled ‘Oh Well.’

The EP opens with killer track ‘Oh Well’ which is a great Babyshambles style track. It really reminds me of ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ by Babyshambles, as well as ‘Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts’ by Arctic Monkeys. There’s a great sense of authenticity to Tom’s vocals, with a fantastic indie drum riff to bring the track together. The music has a great feel-good aura, one that I can imagine filling out huge venues one day; it’s a proper Noughties rock piece. The second track on it is ‘Dreams’ which is my favourite by far. The vocals on it are reminiscent of Liam Gallagher or Alex Turner, with a pure sense of indie rock vibrancy. These brilliantly raw vocals are accompanied by fantastic guitar; the general strumming overall is a bit heavier than their other music, and accompanied with a brilliantly memorable, catchy riff throughout. There’s also a sense of build up and momentum in the track, with really excitingly promising elements to it. The opening riff reminds me a lot of ‘Fell In Love With a Girl’ by The White Stripes, before the vocals and bass kick in, bringing a more Franz Ferdinand style element to the track. The final track on the EP is ‘Nothing’ which opens with a beautiful, delicate riff. It picks up in pace slightly, but stays slower than their other tracks which helps the band showcase their individual talents as musicians perfectly. Adam’s drumming on this track is especially impressive as well! Each riff played matches Tom’s vocals really well, and you can tell the band have practiced a lot and worked really hard at creating the EP, which they recorded at White Bear Studios. From the brilliance of the EP, the prospect of more recorded tracks from the band is really exciting! A lot of bands coming into the spotlight now are a bit heavy, with something different about them- but four piece indie rock bands will never lose their brilliance. And Three Day Weekend’s exciting and unique qualities certainly make them one to watch.

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For more on the band, you can read my interview with Tom, Liam, and Rhys below

Tell me about your band: who’s in it, and how did you get into music?

Liam: In the band there’s Tom Kellock our lead singer and lead guitarist, Rhys Eccles our rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist, Adam Chapman our drummer, and me playing bass and being backing vocalist. We started out properly about a year ago with me, Tom and Adam in the band playing way too many Arctic Monkeys covers and one original song, then Rhys joined us and we started to write more original songs and expanded our sound and range of cover songs. We started gigging properly once Rhys joined us and recently recorded our debut EP at a local studio called White Bear Studios

Tom: I’ve always been into music but I kind of started developing much more of an interest when I was about 12 or something like that, a friend of my dad’s gave me his bass guitar when I was 13 and I used to play that. Picked it up surprisingly quickly, and the first bands I learned the music of were like Nirvana and Arctic Monkeys, couldn’t really do anything else. I got a guitar for my 14th birthday and got half decent by 15. Started writing songs at 15 but they were all shite so we’ll just count the ones from this year, it’s probably for the best

Where are you from, and what’s your local music scene like?

Liam: I was born in Nottingham but brought up in Chorley which is a little town in between Preston and Bolton, near Manchester for the people who don’t know where Bolton and Preston are. Preston is the closest city to us so that’s where the music scene is, there’s lots of pubs around there and a few good venues that have had some big artists play there, but they are tiny compared to places like Manchester and Liverpool. We’ve played a few of the pubs there but haven’t got to the venues yet. There are a few good bands that are starting to get a following around the Preston area but they are a bit older than us. It’s good to see them doing well because I feel like we are at a similar level, talent wise, so hopefully we can be bigger than they are now by the time we have been playing as long as them

Rhys: Preston, it’s banging

Tom: We’re from Preston, think Rhys rates the scene a lot more than the rest of us but I mean we seem to have become one of the more noticeable bands there pretty quickly, rate the Empire Police, sound guys and have been a big help with getting us known around the area. There’s a couple other decent bands as well but so I don’t miss anybody out I’ll just stick with them and Fugios

Tell me about your EP ‘Oh Well’ and recording at White Bear Studios

Liam: We decided to record our debut EP as early as we have done in our ‘career’, I guess you could call it, because we didn’t have a body of work for people to listen to apart from what we were playing live. This made it hard for us to show off what we could do to people who hadn’t come to watch us. For me personally, I wanted something that I could play to my friends and play to people who I was talking about the band to, so they could get a better idea of how we sounded rather than having to describe it to people. We picked the three songs based on how well we could play them together rather than the quality of the songs. I think it was because we weren’t bothered about having the best songs we’ve done on an EP that only a few people would hear to begin with. I disagreed with that at first because I thought first impressions would be so important, but looking at other bands, their best records always came later and I think that our best records are still to come for sure. I wasn’t really involved in picking the studio, I left it down to Rhys and Tom to decide as they were in talks with a few studios. We had to pick a place that was cheap enough but would give us the quality we wanted. It was the first time I’d recorded in a studio and I knew after the first few hours that I wanted to do this for a living. You can’t really beat putting your ideas down and hearing them come together that way you imagined them

Rhys: It was a ball-ache to be honest

Tom: We basically rushed the EP thing so it’d be done before Adam moved to Leeds, so we put what we thought was our best song ‘Oh Well’ on it, think that probably means more to us than the other tunes we have, just because of the buzz we had when we first put it together. ‘Dreams’ wasn’t initially going to be on the EP I don’t think, we just put it on because it’s a solid tune and goes down well at gigs and stuff. We spent about half our day recording ‘Nothing’ and I’m insanely proud of that, Rhys sings it so I think I probably prefer it purely because I don’t like listening to my own voice. Other people like it, so happy days. Not really anything too exciting to talk about from being in the studio if I’m being honest. The bloke who produced it, Tom Brindle, was a massive help though- probably got bored out of his tree putting up with me moaning about my guitar all day but to be honest we were just having a laugh…and ran out of time before we could add a fourth song, we just couldn’t afford to record another one

What’s the best gig/ festival you’ve been to?

Liam: The best gig I’ve been to I think would have to be Slaves at the Hairy Dog in Derby, I entered Doc Martens’ competition on Twitter to win two tickets to watch Slaves play there to celebrate the opening of their new Derby store. The venue was absolutely tiny and there was no barrier so me and my girlfriend, Grace, were stood directly in front of Laurie the entire gig. We also got a setlist and Laurie’s pick that night. The best festival I’ve been to was Leeds 2015, I got 4 free tickets for the Sunday so I got to be front row for Slaves and Foals and three rows from the front for Royal Blood.

Rhys: Morrissey in Manchester and Leeds, with The Stone Roses in Carlisle being a close 3rd

Tom: Pretty hard question this for me, I always said the best I’ve been to was Reverend And The Makers in Liverpool last year with Adam because it was honestly the best atmosphere there’s ever been at a gig I’ve been to- love seeing The Sherlocks, they’re always quality and are probabaly my favourite band. But thinking about it, The Last Shadow Puppets was pretty special, felt like a kind of once in a lifetime thing, only about twice as good as The Stone Roses were- I’m probably going to get slated for that

What venue/ festival would you like to headline one day?

Liam: I think a lot of bands would go for the biggest venues like Wembley and the biggest festivals like Glastonbury, but for me I think I’d like to play somewhere like Heaton Park and headline Reading and Leeds. As weird as it sounds, I like the idea of everyone in the crowd being a genuine fan of our music. I think a lot of the time, people go to see people at arenas for the sheer ‘I’ve seen them live’ status rather than actually being a fan. I think Reading and Leeds tops it for me, festival wise, because it focuses on the bands above all other acts. I guess that might be a bit selfish but the crowd is always going to be better if people like the genre that you’re playing even if they don’t like your band in particular. Recently it’s all been based on DJs and rappers so I’d like to headline pre-2015 Reading and Leeds.

Rhys: This church in Preston across from Tesco, it’d be biblical

Tom: Glastonbury’s the dream innit? Surely

The name ‘Three Day Weekend’- tell me how you came up with it

Liam: The name was already thought of when I joined the band and was based on Tom’s college timetable, with him having Fridays off college as a study day. I didn’t like it or dislike it and it seemed easier than picking a new name, so I went with it

Rhys: Fuck knows, I wasn’t in the band at this point so just stuck with it

Tom: Everyone seems to think it’s a pretty cool name and the other lads might try and make it sound a bit more cool, but the honest answer is me and Adam used to be in a band with this other lad and we had an absolutely shit name, we both just went with that because it’d stop him moaning, but we changed our name once we’d kicked him out and met Liam (Rhys didn’t join until February, met him at The Sherlocks in Liverpool.) The name actually came from my college timetable, we were knocking about with hundreds of ideas and I had Fridays off and thought Three Day Weekend was a decent name, so we went with that and it stuck- probably the most boring reason behind a band name ever

Which bands influenced you growing up, and who are your favourite current musicians?

Liam: My musical influences started with Northern Soul. My mum is a huge soul fan and still, at the age of 54, goes to all nighters dancing to soul music. She has an amazing old Pioneer record player that is like a big sound system with a tape deck built in and she used to open all the windows on sunny weekends and play ‘The big wheels of Motown’ on vinyl as loud as she could whilst cleaning the house. After soul, as a young kid, I loved Elvis and after that I bought my first CD which was Gorillaz- Demon Days so they were like my first musical influences. My dad had a collection of old rap CDs which I stole when I started high school so I was listening to Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent and G-Unit for a while, and I’ve always liked rap music. I went through phases of being into house music, dubstep, grime, and still listen to anything and everything. My main influences for the past two years have been Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Slaves, Royal Blood, Jake Bugg, and Catfish and The Bottlemen. I want the songs that I write to reflect the music I listen to, but by being in a band I’ve started to listen to a lot more new music and so I hope that I can incorporate the new music I’m listening to into original songs as well as the core influences. My favourite current artists are Slaves, Rat Boy, Pretty Vicious, Mura Masa, The Last Shadow Puppets, Disclosure and Skepta

Rhys: Mainly influenced by The Beatles, The Smiths and The Streets with Kanye and Adele being two of my favourite current artists

Tom: Growing up it was your standard ‘indie’ music for me, but I also loved Nirvana. My favourite band will always be Arctic Monkeys, I’ve been listening to them since my dad bought back a demo CD early 2005, had stuff like ‘Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ etc, also listened to a lot of Oasis, Stone Roses, nothing unlike anybody else in a band like ours really I suppose, but I mean now I’m into all sorts, current favourite band is The Sherlocks but I go from listening to one extreme to answer, so it’s kind of hard to answer. Come to our gigs and listen to the playlist before we come on, sums it up really. Just a bit of shameless self promotion there

What’s your writing/ recording process like, and what influences your lyrics?

Liam: When we write original songs usually one of us writes the lyrics and chords and does a demo on an acoustic guitar, and then the rest of us will write our own individual parts for the song. Rhys has wrote the most originals I think, so Tom will write the guitar riff and solo and I will write the bass line. Adam usually comes up with the drumming part when we practice the song together. The lyrics I write are usually influenced by things I experience day to day, or how I feel a lot of the time. When I wrote ‘Dreams’ it was one of the first full songs I’d ever written and it was basically based on dreams of what I wanted to be when I was younger and then in the chorus where it says ‘Am I ever gonna reach my dreams? Or am I better off staying asleep’ it’s basically saying, as a teenager, am I actually going to reach the dreams I had when I was younger or should I stay asleep, which is playing on the stereotype that all teenagers are lazy and are always sleeping

Rhys: One of us writes the song and we all add our own parts to it, and then we just practice it until it sounds good. I usually get my lyrics by writing the first line of the song and then coming up with lyrics to go with that

Tom: Our lyrics are influenced by day-to-day stuff, but also stuff we’ve seen and then just random shit that’s completely unintended- think one of our songs is about some bloke Rhys saw outside Tesco or something, don’t really try and write songs because when that happens it just doesn’t feel quite right. There’s not really any process other than write a tune, send a demo to our group chat and develop your own part ready for practicing, then we’ll finish it in practice

What’s your opinion on modern day politics- is it something you’d ever consider writing about?

Liam: To me, politics is something that I follow loosely just so I’m not left completely in the dark. I want to know what’s going on but I don’t support any politicians or parties because they’re all greedy rich liars who want to make as much money for themselves as possible. The day that we have a Prime Minister who walks in and starts making real change to help the people who need it and stops helping the rich get richer is when I’ll support a politician or political party. I think I’ll probably write about exactly that at some point, how politicians are all for themselves, then again I don’t think we’re into that stuff as a band and will probably stay out of the politics argument

Rhys: Politics is a bit fucked. I like Jeremy Corbyn though, my man takes pictures of man hole covers

Tom: I have a lot of views on modern day politics and so on, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I can’t be arsed with these people who have read The Guardian once and think they’re like some sort of genius when in reality they’re just arguing for the sake of it. Wouldn’t write about it though I don’t think, although there are a few lines here and there

If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

Liam: I think for me personally I’d love to collaborate with Slaves on something; the energy they bring is incredible and I’d love to be a part of that. I think as a band though, we could do something cool with John Squire, Johnny Marr, Miles Kane, Amy Winehouse, Rat Boy or Alex Turner.

Rhys: Would have to be David Bowie

Tom: Alex Turner. Any day of the week, the man is my hero

For more on the band, check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud

Heavy grunge rock at its best: Introducing The Vitrines

Introducing punk rockers Alex Donovan and Morgan Haynes; The Vitrines are an absolute explosion of messy, gritty grunge music and I recently interviewed the duo about their boundary-breaking tracks. Two pieces have always been popular in rock music, just look at bands like Slaves, Royal Blood and The White Stripes; and The Vitrines are certainly on their way to being up there at the top. With Alex on lead vocals and guitar, and Morgan on drums, their music is pure filth, with really heavy, intense riffs full of power and vibrancy. They’re such a skilled band, and you can tell from their EP how much effort and practice has gone into their music. It’s proper grunge rock, with a fantastically edgy bite to it. Their 5 track EP was released at the end of August this year, and recorded at Neosikon studios. The amazing thing as well about the Southampton-based two piece is they’re both still teenagers; it’s unreal that they’re still school students yet are able to create such a fierce cutting-edge sound. My favourite tracks from the EP would have to be ‘Mindgames’ and ‘Bad Lucy.’ The duo are an exciting burst of energy and pure rock talent, and are a much needed addition to the heavier, grungier edge of the music industry. The band have a gripping DIY sound, and are so blunt and unrefined; their music is really messy and embodies punk-grunge perfectly. They have a really exciting aura about them too, reminiscent, in my eyes, of bands like The Sex Pistols, Marmozets and Foo Fighters, certainly in terms of heaviness and pure grunge authenticity. Their tracks are intricate too- the guitar riffs Alex plays are incredibly detailed and deep, and Morgan’s heavy ferocity on the drums brings their music together really well. As a fan of grunge bands like Nirvana, and punk bands like The Clash and Blondie, the heaviness and grittiness the two piece have is extremely refreshing and exciting. For any fan of Jack White or Slaves, you’ll genuinely be blown away by Alex and Morgan. They posses a really intriguing quality too; they’re somewhat mature in their age, as in their tracks could have come straight out of a 90s grunge album, or 70s punk EP. They’re a truly promising band with heaps of talent and energy- and I’m definitely a fan.

For more on the two piece, you can read my interview with Alex and Morgan below

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Tell me about your band- who’s in it, where did you form and how did you meet?

Alex: It’s just me and Morgan, and we formed early this year around June time. It all started in science lesson when I was talking about starting a band. No one was really too fussed until I heard Morgan played drums and it just evolved from there

Morgan: We were mates at school. I heard he needed a drummer and I didn’t straight away take the offer, but he dropped me round a demo he’d recorded and I liked what was on it

You mention being from Southampton. What’s you local music scene like?

Alex: Surprisingly there’s a lot more to it than we first thought. I mean The Joiners is definitely a home base to many local musicians and it’s a crucial venue to the scene. We have loads of different bands and artists who are frequently gigging and it’s great to now be part of it

Morgan: Yeah our local music scene is very strong and experienced. We get a lot of influence and inspiration from many bands who are in the same situation as us

For a band you’re both quite young, do you see this as a disadvantage in any way? 

Morgan: Being young is a very large disadvantage at the moment. Because we aren’t financially stable due to our age, funding the band is difficult at some points. However, it’s unique to to find a band with members our age meaning our music catches the attention of many people

Alex: In some ways it’s good, we both get loads of  free time and it’s easy to arrange rehearsals. We can practice four times a week for three hours at a time if we have a show coming up. Money can be an issue- but so far we’ve managed to cope pretty well

How did you come up with the name ‘The Vitrines’?

Alex: I saw the word once in French and I just thought it sounded cool. Because there was two of us it made sense to make it plural

What bands have influenced you growing up, and who are your favourite current musicians?

Alex: I’ve always admired the work of Jack White from the White Stripes, especially the early stuff, but my favourite current musician would have to be Laurie from Slaves

Morgan: My approach to drumming is inspired by bands like The White Stripes, Nirvana and Royal Blood

What’s the best gig/ festival you’ve been to and what venue/ festival would you like to headline one day?

Alex: Slaves at the Portsmouth Pyramids, supported by Wonk Unit (who are now friends of ours) and Spring King. And I’ve always wanted to play the O2- so not big expectations, obviously

Morgan: To answer the second part, I think our best gig was headlining the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth. It was the biggest stage we had played on and it was a great experience

I’m assuming you’re both still at school- what’s it like balancing that with the band? 

Alex: It’s easy, the band comes first, then school. What’s the point of spending hours doing something I don’t enjoy doing when I could be writing a new song or gigging? I do sometimes have to put school first, but it’s a rare occasion

Morgan: At some points, for me it’s very hard to separate school and the band. I have to stay dedicated to the band as well as prioritising school, and mixing them two together is a real challenge

What are your plans for the future in terms of gigging and recording?

Alex: We’re just about to do some gigs away from home, but until we’ve confirmed anything I don’t want to announce anything just yet. And as for recording, we’ve got studio time booked for mid October and some other stuff planned, but again, I wouldn’t want to give away any surprises

Morgan: We’re looking to release something towards the beginning of the New Year, but you’ll have to just wait and see

Your single [‘Bad Lucy’] sounds incredible, as does the rest of the EP- what was the writing and recording process like?

Alex: For the EP, we recorded it in four days, the arrangements, lyrics and everything was done by me. I find having people around me when I write really distracts the process and I can’t focus fully. It was mixed, mastered, and recorded at Neosikon studios

Two pieces are becoming increasingly popular, just look at bands like Royal Blood and Slaves. Which two piece bands, if any, have influenced you?

Morgan: Slaves by far are the most influential two piece on the band. Their music is unique and powerful and that’s what we aim to do on stage

What inspires your lyrics?

Alex: Whatever is going on in my head, if I’m all over the place at a certain time, my lyrics will reflect that. I don’t think I have a certain overall inspiration apart from what’s on my mind

For more on the Vitrines, you can check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp

Photo one © LJR photography