The best live band around now, no doubt of that, False Heads are an insanely riotous raucous three piece heading up a revolution in what DIY post punk guitar rock really is. Luke’s snarly spitting vocals are harsh and raw, and his riffs are insane, particularly the solo riffs in Retina and Slew. The thrashing aggression from Jake’s bass guitar and Barney’s drumming sets the tone for a rough, gritty punk edge, and all their tracks are packed with this abrasive grit. Lyrically punchy and focused on nuances, Luke Griffiths is genius in his lyricism. Witnessing the three piece live is always an experience and a half, and if you crave a dose of real punk then look no further than East London’s finest.
“Fuck it, we’re gonna be the biggest band in the world”
Made up of Luke (lead vocals and guitar), Barney (drums) and Jake (bass guitar), False Heads are a force and a half to be reckoned with, taking this year by storm and striding into 2018 with an impeccable reputation. The last twelve months have seen the three piece perform at the UK’s top festivals, play a series of sold out gigs and tours, work with the biggest names in the rock industry (like This Feeling, Radio X, Pirate Studios and more), as well as release the Gutter Press EP and formulate a selection of killer new tracks like Yellow, Fall Around, and Retina. Striding into 2018 with nothing to lose and a domination of the underground post punk rock scene to gain, I caught up with the band last week in Hoxton, a drunk interview at its best.
So tell me about this year so far
Barney: It started in January…shortly after that came February
Jake: It was a good start to the year, we played a gig at the Tooting Tram & Social where our now manager saw us for the first time, so that was the start of a beautiful relationship, and then after that we went back into the studio, recorded Retina and Remedy and around that time we released Gutter Press…this is very dry, very chronological
Luke: We put Gutter Press out which was well received, it was great it was brilliant
Jake: You know that feeling on the first day of spring, after winter, it was a feeling like that, our bones were a bit lighter
Luke: well we were embroiled in some legal complications… Gary was a good bloke and we appreciated what he did for us but the other two people involved were weasels, and were slimy and shouldn’t even be in the music industry- but now we’re free and talking to some big record labels, Retina’s coming out soon so yay
Barney: We now have a soon to be limited company too, it’s called Riff Factory Limited. We are also the Riff Factory Unlimited…
Jake: No we’re limited
Barney: But we have unlimited riffs
One thing that would stand out for me would be the festivals you played, Y Not, Reading, Isle of Wight and so on. Tell me about that
Barney: So started with Isle of Wight that was really good fun, it was a good vibe we enjoyed it. Reading was weird though, we got chucked out
Luke: Isle of Wight was my favourite, I thought that was definitely the best festival
Barney: Most of them were good fun though
Jake: Yeah they were all really good fun
And what’s been your favourite gig that you’ve played this year?
Luke: Isle of Wight festival, or Nambucca on our This Feeling tour. Oh no shit sorry, ULU, completely forgot about that, yeah ULU Peaceful Noise any day of the week
Jake: Isle of Wight for the festivals, Peaceful Noise was amazing, but 229 supporting Trampolene was a really good gig
Barney: ULU by a mile- (upon interruption by Luke) fucks sake I’m doing an interview
Luke: Yeah I’m taking over, so what did you like about it?
Barney: You know what, I feel we should never play a venue different to that, like now we’ve done that I don’t wanna look back from that, I’m sick of playing small venues, fuck it we’re gonna be the biggest band in the world
Luke: Well said
Who’s been your favourite discovery of the year?
Luke: Strange Bones
Jake: Strange Bones and We Are Parkas
And moving on from that, who’d be your top bands to watch in 2018?
Barney: False Heads, False Heads…
Luke: Heads of False
Jake: Calva Louise
Barney: In terms of bands to watch is this to watch ‘cause they’re gonna be big or just go and see this band?
Luke: Ohh God this is excruciating I’m moving on
Jake: I’d say Calva Louise, Strange Bones, The Americas, me and Luke’s untitled acoustic spin away from this cretin over here that’s gonna be really good, Griffiths and Elliott, it’s gonna be beautiful
Luke: The “No Nashes”
Jake: (laughs) yeah the No Nashes
Luke: Mine is Strange Bones, The Blinders, Calva Louise, BREED and We Are Parkas
What’s been your favourite release this year, so album, EP, single etc?
Luke: that’s a good question actually
Jake: The National, Sleep Well Beast is fucking great I really like that
Barney: LCD Sound System
Jake: ooh that’s fucking brilliant as well
Barney: thank you, Thundercat Drunk is really good
Luke: I don’t really know, what’s come out this year? It’s all good stuff
Gig wise, what’s on your setlist right now?
Jake: Starts with Fall Around, then Twentynothing then Yellow– not the Coldplay song…sometimes the Coldplay song- then Remedy…
Luke: then Slew, Retina, Weigh In and Wrap Up. And there’ll be a new one in there
Barney: Yeah we’ve got new tracks on the rise
And what’s your favourite track to play live?
Barney: I kind of don’t like playing any of them to an extent
Me: yeah that wasn’t really the question
Barney: nah I don’t know why though, why is that?
Luke: ‘cause you’re a freak of nature that’s why
Barney: we’ve played them so many times I dunno
Luke: at the moment it’s Yellow for me
Ok so tell me about your upcoming single Retina
“It was kind of about manoeuvring your way through your own mind”
Barney: it was initially called the ‘Slaves-y one’ ‘cause the riff is a complete rip off of Slaves
Luke: but so much better
Barney: it kind of just developed, Luke was playing it and we got a riff, and I jammed a bit with Jake and it was like ‘shit we’ve got the verse, all it needs now is like a pre-chorus,’ and that was really easy to play ‘cause I just did what was being implied by the chorus and yeah that was it
Jake: Yeah, what Barney said pretty much
Luke: the lyrics are sort of trippy weird mental stuff
Me: what inspired it?
Luke: an acid trip, it was kinda like an acid trip to be fair that inspired the lyrics and it went from there. Which is a really shit answer but yeah that was kind of the start of it, it was kind of about manoeuvring your way through your own mind
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Jake: I’ve been on a Leonard Cohen hype for about six months,
Me: ahh yeah You Want It Darker, it’s so good
Jake: so fucking good man yeah that album is brilliant, Treaty on that, and Steer Your Way when the violins come in in that chorus, beautiful. But I’ve recently moved into a new place and we’ve got a record player in the living room now, and Anna my housemate’s got all the old Beatles records and I’ve just been listening to like classic Beatles, like you forget how good the stuff before Revolver and Rubber Soul is, just like the pop stuff
Barney: Slint Spiderland was the last record I bought, fucking really amazing record, been spinning the Flying Lotus record a lot too, the one with the fucking thing on the front, and Jon Hopkins as well is getting a lot of spin time
Luke: Dylan, been listening to a bit more Bob Dylan recently, yeah to be honest I haven’t really sat down and listened to much recently though
What’s the best gig you’ve been to this year?
Luke: to be honest it’s probably a Peaceful Noise, watching it, seeing Josh Homme in that environment was pretty special, and it was a great event
Jake: we were at Manchester Off The Record and we got recommended a band called Queen Zee & The Sasstones, they were fucking brilliant
Barney: on record, it’s a bit sketchy but live they’re fucking sick
Jake: it’s punky as fuck, it’s loud, aggressive, energetic
And finally, what can your fans look forward to in 2018?
Luke: Retina’s coming out, tour, European tour (thank fuck finally), festivals. All good in the hood
Jake: World dominationnnnn
Barney: We’ve got our show on the 23rd at Nambucca, classic Christmas party, everyone down Nambucca getting really fucked up, a white Christmas everyone loves snow, so yeah come down
You heard him; False Heads play 229 tomorrow (22nd) & Nambucca Saturday night (23rd). 2018 is going to go OFF for these lads, so get them on your radar now
False Heads feature on the cover of Some Might Say Zine Issue Two; buy a limited edition print copy here
Raw riffs and uncompromising impassioned rock hits you round the face full force with BIGG, a scrawly indie rock post punk band from Reading. The band use deep bass lines and catchy elegantly written riffs with dark screwed up gritty vocals. The gravel and DIY harshness of the band’s music gives them this undeniable edge, and the uncaring attitude to them builds up this post punk aura. How Do You Sleep is an insane track, proper blaring rock with rough old school rock’n’roll embedded in it. Their debut EP Lock Up Your Daughtersmay be one of the most impressive debuts I’ve come across recently. The band amp up the usage of drum loops and heavy rich bass lines, which are killer overlays in their tracks. The grit and gravel of their music is dirty, exciting rock, with these nasty snarls of punk ever so slightly tearing through this meticulous sound. I love how unpredictable their tracks are too; the riffs and lyrics flicker throughout, giving the music something intriguing and exciting. A band I can’t wait to see live next week (with The Scruffat Nambucca), the raw openness of that guitar and manic cutting intensity of the riffs promises something very special for BIGG. The band are building up a new style of rock, carving a route in the industry I’d be thrilled to see more bands go down. This grimy untasted flavour of rock is much needed, and are BIGG the band leading this resurgence? Quite possibly.
I recently interviewed James from the band, talking all things DIY, politics, and the music scene in Reading. Have a read of that below
Tell me about the band; how did you form and how long have you been together?
We’ve been playing together for around 6 years, but BIGG as a project has been going about 3, we’ve learnt a lot together and have honed our sound and the way we write songs down to something we’re really happy with. We initially met online after Big G and his brother James moved to Reading for Uni. We started jamming and everything just seemed to click, we all work in a similar way and this allows us to craft our songs as a group with us all having an input at every stage
Where are you from and what’s the local music scene like?
We’re based in Reading although we only actually play there once a month if that, the scene is a bit of a strange one, there’s not a huge number of venues and the town struggles with any form of solid identity as it’s so close to London. With the rise of bands like the Amazons and Sundara Karma (who we played one of our first ever Reading shows with waaaaay back in another band), Reading is starting to see an uptick in musical investment and we’ve got a couple of decent dedicated promoters trying to put on decent shows and make Reading a place for up and coming bands to hit on their tours
How would you describe your sound?
We always have trouble with this one. It’s dark and heavily riff lead, we love a good groove and to make peoples teeth rattle in their heads from the moment our show kicks off. Mostly it’s loud.
Who did you grow up listening to, and who are the biggest musical influences on the band?
We all come from very different musical backgrounds Big G (Vocals & Rhythm Guitar) is a Fan of UK Grime and Sheffield Indie Pop, which you can hear in his at once conversational and staccato lyrical delivery. Smithy (Drums) Grew up on Pop Punk and that comes through in his enormously performative and technical playing style. James (Lead Guitar) loves anything with a chunky lead riff and has been massively influenced by QOTSA, DFA 1979 and The Dead Pirates, evidenced in his style which utilises a traditional lead sound mixed with an octave down pedal through a separate amp. Pearce (Vocals & Bass) Has the widest musical pool, everything from 90s Grunge to 80s Pop from Blues to Metal is distilled down through him into the huge bass lines that are the beating heart of BIGG’s songs
What do your lyrics tend to focus on?
Our first EP Lock up your Daughters focuses a lot on murder, Big G had recently finished his degree in chemistry and forensics and had been studying murder scenes for some time. The motives and minds of the killers proved a deep well for lyrics and musical themes. As time has gone on we’ve written more and more about misspent youth, mistakes made or not made and the general state of our lives. There’s a sort of juxtaposition in our songs where we want people to dance and have a good time at our shows but all the lyrics tend to be about pretty depressing or dark shit
Given the state of current day politics and its effects, would you ever consider embodying that in your lyrics?
There are people who have already come away from some of our songs with a political message in their heads, most notably our EP Track How Do You Sleep seems to come across to everyone differently and very often with a political tilt. With the current state of politics and how hard it is to get by even as a responsibly employed young person let alone a bunch of youths in a van playing rock music, we think it’s impossible to be creating art and music without a little of that seeping in. We’re writing about what we know what we see and what we can imagine and if the world around us is slowly sinking us all into poverty under a borderline tyrant then that’s bound to be reflected
With so many venues shutting down and parts of the industry suffering, what are your thoughts on DIY grassroots venues and promoters?
We’re big champions of DIY and taking back control of our own scene, the music industry is an archaic beast and is struggling against modernity and we feel the only way to succeed is to take our destiny in our own hands. We self organise a large proportion of our shows, and work with other bands to set up weekenders where we can reach new audiences and cross pollinate our fan bases. Coming up in October and November we have 3 weekenders planned with our good friends Radiosaurus and The Dirty Dead where we will play Berkshire, Hampshire and Devon supporting each other and making a big racket in each others home towns
Tell me about your writing and recording process
Our writing all takes place in rehearsal, we form each song a bit like a clay pot, starting with a riff or a beat or a lyric that we can’t get out of our heads and building on it and modifying it until it’s perfect. All our songs are written with live performance in mind, we think it’s really important that the show be as good as possible and that every song hits the audience hard and makes them move. The recording process is about trying to capture that live energy. We record all together to lay down drums and guide tracks and then re-record the guitars, bass and vocals over the top of the live drums amping and re-amping to get the sound as big and as true to life as possible. We steer clear of adding too much to the records that we can’t do live, there’s a little tambourine action or some extra guitar layering to fill out the sounds but generally we want the experience to be as real as possible. We also have lyrics and other bits and bobs that are “live only” or “record only” so that there’s something new for people who have seen us live when they hear the record and vice versa
What plans do you have for the future in terms of gigging and recording?
This year we’re on track to play 50 live shows before Christmas and next year we want to make it to 100. We love to gig and in order to make our dreams of being able to live in the van and play full time a reality we’re drumming up support by playing as many places and reaching out to as many people as possible. We’re putting the finishing touches on a set of singles that will be coming out on digital release over the next year and we’re beginning work on an album of all new material which is going to take some time so release dates are … whenever it’s done! We’d love to break our way onto the festival circuit next year and make some noise on a big stage
Introducing The Scruff, a band I literally fell in love with over the weekend. So I saw them ages back, supporting The Bohicas at The Horn in 2015, and again playing This Feeling at Nambucca a few months back. The lads are definitely the funniest band I know, and this interview genuinely is my favourite I’ve ever done. They’re a ridiculously funny group of guys, with a fantastic Britpop/ post indie punk sound to their music too. Last weekend, The Scruff played the main stage at Wilkestock festival, and between Judah Gayle and Carl Barât’s sets (big up), I found myself in the back of the band van carrying out one of the weirdest and funniest interviews I’ve done. We got to talk about loads of stuff, including Adam’s moustache, The Sherlocks, the band’s love of xanax (and the occasional mention of Charlie), religion & spirituality, and how old Adam really is (spoiler, it’s younger than 33).
Line-up wise, The Scruff have undergone a recent change, with new guitarist Jack joining Adam (lead vocals and guitar), Sam (bass), and Omar (drums). “So what happened to Robby, your old guitarist?” I ask the band.
“What happened to Robby? We killed him, he’s dead now. Nah he moved to America, we knew he was moving to America and we were gonna get a new guitarist, and unfortunately we ended up with Jack…but he’ll do until we find the next guy.” “Everything was in place and then Omar’s mum died” they tell me, “we had a new guitarist and it was all gonna be a nice quick turnaround, and then that happened and life just got in the way, and everything sort of changed to like ‘ok these aren’t really the important things’…So we didn’t have a guitarist in place, then Robby’s last ever gig we did a hometown show and there was this blond twat there interfering cause Monarchs played before us and Sam’s pedals broke, and so we were like ‘fucking oh my god the show’s running so behind,’ and there was this blond twat at the front literally just chucking his oar in, and we were like ‘who’s that blond at the front of the stage?’ and I liked the look of him so I added him and it turned out he was in a band and they’d just broken up and he needed a new band.”
“I wasn’t even gonna go” Jack tells me, “and for some reason I had this feeling and I was like ‘I’ve gotta go to this’ and I made my brother drive me and he weren’t gonna he was like ‘nah nah nah’ so I racked my amp up as loud as I could in my room until he was just like ‘fucks sake if you shut up I’ll take ya’ and I went on my own and ended up in the fucking Scruff.” “Well…” the band pause, “he said he ended up in The Scruff he’s not quite in The Scruff, he’s nearly. He’s a session musician (“oi don’t say that in front of people” Jack exclaims) he plays alongside The Scruff he’s not quite a full member yet.”
“He’s changed the sound though, the sound’s got a little bit, I dunno it’s not as complex” I’m told. “I suppose ‘cause Jack’s younger” Sam muses (“and more handsome” Jack intervenes); “I dunno about handsome… but young” he laughs.
“Can we interview you for like a minute?” Omar asks, which I of course reply with “yeah go for it,” bearing in mind we’re all fucked at this point.
Adam: Ok guys so I’m going to be the mediator, welcome to the show Omar, and you’re gonna do a brief talk with Sahera and just ask her about her spiritual beliefs.
Omar: No problem at all. So Sahera, do you have any spiritual beliefs at all, ones you can tell us about, I mean what sort of thing are you into?
Me: So I believe in reincarnation and stuff
Omar: Reincarnation, amazing. I mean where does the soul go after?
“Be careful how you answer” they joke, “if you answer the next question right he’s gonna ask you to marry him.”
Me: But I don’t believe in a God
Omar: No, but there must be something out there perhaps a universal conscience of some sort, I dunno not a God as such
“Not like a bearded man in the sky that’s just weird” Adam laughs, “like it’s so funny how if you go ‘there’s no God’ people are like *exclaims* but if you go ‘Father Christmas isn’t real’ they go ‘well yeah we know duh’, It’s so odd like you can say one thing but not the other, but really there’s like the same amount of proof for either’s existence, like Father Christmas and God are in the same category but if you say you don’t believe in one it’s really offensive and the other it’s just ‘shh don’t tell the kids’.”
“There’s probably more chance of a big fat geezer riding around in a sleigh dropping presents off than there is of another geezer spreading the sea so he can walk down the middle”
“Oi that’s Moses”
“That’s Jesus bruv!”
“As if Moses spread the fucking sea”
“Moses split the red sea, Moses did that bruv”
Me: He is right
Sam: Ah ok ok I apologise, Moses, there’s more chance of Santa Clause delivering presents than there is Moses splitting the sea
“Nah you ain’t delivering presents in 24 hours”
“You ain’t splitting no sea man!”
“There we go they’re both as daft as each other”
Jack: What’s more likely, spread the sea or God did the sky?
“Jack, shut the fuck up”
“This is the weirdest interview I’ve ever done” I laugh
“But Sahera shall we actually talk about the gig and shit like that?”, which we go on to talk about. “So first of all how do you think the gig went?” they ask me, to which I (of course) reply “well I thought it was really fucking good, but I’m like an awkward Scruff fangirl so I would say that.” “Oi so’s Jack!” they laugh”, Jack responding “I’m like a fangirl on tour.” Set wise, the band tell me “it would have been better but about five songs in Omar put the kick pedal through the drum skin so we lost the kick pedal, it just died and we were sitting there like ‘what the fuck do we do’ so we just jammed which we never normally do.” “To be fair it ended up quite well though.”
A couple hours before this interview I had a quick chat with The Wholls (keep an eye out for that), and tell the band “When I interviewed The Wholls I was like ‘who are your favourite bands right now’ and they were like ‘The Scruff’” to which they respond “Yesss we love The Wholls man.” On bands The Scruff saw live at the festival,“tonight we saw BlackWaters for the first time and they are fucking insane man, I’d heard the buzz and thought they must be quite good to get this buzz and when I saw them I was like woahhh they’re so fucking good man.” I then tell them I’ve been to every BlackWaters London gig, the band asking “so why don’t you come to all of our gigs?” I genuinely would have done too, but their last scheduled gig in London was cancelled. “We didn’t cancel the gig, some promoter cancelled the gig, little dig at a promoter there you know who you are” they laugh. Two fingers to the promoter (whoever you are) also cause I was mad excited for that gig- The Scruff are one of those live bands where there’s that fun dance vibe, with a very bold quirky indie sound, full of enticing licks and riffs. They have a raucous feel good aura, and the talent behind the riffs and vocals to pull off a fantastic audience reaction.
So the band offer me Xanax and Charlie at this point, where I reply “I’ve never done drugs before” (100% true), to which Sam responds “good, good girl!”, laughing “neither has Jack, there are two women in this van who have never done drugs before *pauses* would either of you perhaps might be up for some drugs?” “No, we’re not encouraging people to do drugs, we’re not peer pressuring Sahera into drugs there’s no peer pressure here (but do some drugs, no pressure but do some drugs)” they laugh. “I tried to interview The Scruff and all they wanted to do was push drugs on me” they mimic; “In the back of a van, oi we sound like the seediest band” Adam exclaims. “Are you still recording? You are! Ohh you’re in trouble now Sam.” “You know my voice?” Sam asks, “can you like change the tone?… so this interview you’re doing with The Wholls is going real good” he laughs.
“To be fair there’s so many places you could be right now rather than sat in a van with us”
Me: Yeah but I think you guys are cool
“Yeah that’s a good answer man, definitely put that bit in your blog”
“Oi just to clarify to everyone on the blog, Jack Brown is still not a full member of The Scruff he has to wait until, what is it, January 2nd 2021 day after Sam’s birthday, and that is still up for dispute as well, if he fucks up in any way like he did tonight then…”
“Any guitarists out there hit us up, yeah just inbox us” they laugh “if you can do an A, a G and a C then they’re in, if you can do three chords and sing every now and then…”
Jack: oi you heard me sing last night it was good.
“Jack, Jack do your opera singing now for the camera”
For the pleasure of all my lovely readers I thought I’d attach Jack’s rather impressive opera singing below
“This isn’t really much of an interview it’s just chatting shit” they joke, “have you got any questions for us?”
Me: Yeah I have a lot of questions
“Go on then, hit us”
Me: So how did The Scruff come about?
Sam: Well originally when Adam and Omar were about, I’d say what 13/14, let’s say school times, they started a band called High On Kites, which is a sick name for a band by the way, and they played all through school, this that and the other blah blah blah and then they broke up, people went to university, and then a few years later obviously we met through various paths I can’t remember how-
Adam: Me and Omar saw Sam dancing at a party and we were like ‘he’ll definitely be a good bass player’ just because he was dancing well, and we were like ‘do you play bass?’ and he was like ‘I’ve never played an instrument in my life’ so we were like ‘buy a bass and we’ll start a band’ and six months later he just turned up and was like ‘I’ve bought a bass lads’ and that was it we didn’t have a choice
Me: Where’s the name from as well, The Scruff, it’s quite a cool name
Adam: Dunno if it was you Omar?
Omar: Yeah not to push the boat out but anything good that happens in the band is normally down to me so, there were a few other suggestions there was The Jeffries, Shit Finger…
Slight interval in the interview also, as we could hear The Sherlocks (or Shitlocks?) playing on stage, bearing in mind the artist car park was directly behind main stage. “Question for you” Adam asks, “what do you think about The Sherlocks? I mean you’ve not been vocal about how you feel about them on Facebook ever, ever before, so I feel like people are curious about how you feel about the band.” It’s funny because The Sherlocks made a comment recently about being pioneers of guitar music, which prompted me to write an article about the top 25 bands who are genuinely pioneering guitar rock. The Scruff, of course, feature on my list, which you lot can check out here. “It was rather scathing” Adam laughs about that article, “you did slate them.” “Fair play for giving it though” they laugh, fucking fair play indeed. So this is halfway through the interview, where there’s a dramatic cut off on my recording because the one and only legend that is Mr Carl Barât was hanging outside, and we all went off to meet him. He’s one of the nicest guys in the industry (despite admitting to being fucked when we first met and not remembering it), and even promised The Scruff he’d give their new track a listen and share it online. Such a fangirl moment for everyone, but what a valid reason for interrupting the interview. What a legend.
So back in the van (not dodgy at all), we got on with our interview
Me: Ok so what plans are there for the band?
Jack: We’ve got our single, then September/ October/ November we’re going on tour so we’re going round the country, got some Northern dates booked in so we’re gonna go round the country spread the word a bit. Adam, Adam- so we’ve got Her coming out then we’re going on tour ain’t we?
Jack: We’re just gonna fucking slam that song as far as we can go, get it out to as many people as we can. If people get it as much as we do, like we’ve had a lot of people watching the video, a lot of tears, like from people not even just mums but anyone, like everyone’s got a mum, everyone’s had a mum like people love it so if people get it as much as we do then…
Adam: I mean you can write songs all day about doing drugs and how fucking rock’n’roll you are like heavy nights out etc, but every now and then it’s nice to do something about like being nice to people, it’s not a bad thing like it’s cool to be nice to people, I don’t think people are just dicks all the time
Me: Ok tell me about the single
Omar: It’s called Her and it was written shortly after I lost my Mum at the beginning of the year, and it’s quite fucking hard hitting to be honest, it’s not really like anything we’ve done before
Jack: I don’t think many rock’n’roll bands expose themselves like we’ve done in this one, like people are quite happy to go out there and talk about drugs and hit it hard in loud and lairy songs but it’s nice like we put our heart into that, genuinely like completely into this song which I don’t think anyone does anymore like people are too quick to go ‘look how cool we are, we’re the best band in the world we’ll play loud we’ll play fast’
Adam: On the radio it needs to be two and a half minutes, chorus within the first ten seconds, smash smash smash, in and out, and everybody’s so fucking stuck to that mould they find it difficult to go beyond four minutes like, and sometimes you just have to
“We’ve laid ourselves so bare in this, and I think people get that”
Omar: I know it’s part of life but it’s fucking shit because they’re no longer there anymore
Me: Yeah it’s like hard to adjust to
“Fully, and we’ve all found it hard to adjust like you have these people around you 24/7 that you can talk to and confide in, and then when they’re gone life changes man, it fucking changes
Yeah but you could get lost in the amount of unsaid things couldn’t you like if you really sat down and thought about it, all the things you want to say and people don’t say them enough because they think ‘ah I’ll tell them tomorrow’ and then someday, one day, tomorrow doesn’t come and it’s like ‘fuck, all the things I should have said’
I think writing this song, it’s definitely made me, obviously I appreciated my mum before, but it’s definitely made me think like every second counts, everything you say like even when you go to walk out the door like when you leave your mum just saw ‘ah I love you’
Even if you’re having a little tiff with your mum over something really petty, it’s like hold on it’s not worth it like it’s really not worth it”
Me: So who are you listening to at the moment?
“Now, BlackWaters they were unreal, Judah Gayle they were unbelievable, Tom Grennan, HAUS, you know HAUS?”
Me: yeah yeah
“Oi bruv they are so sick! Ash from HAUS, honestly he’s one of the loveliest men, he’s fucking sick man”
Sam: Oi what’s the Beatles cover, about a chick? Er fucking hell, Eleanor Rigby, oi have you ever heard Ash from HAUS’ cover of Eleanor Rigby?
Me: Nah I don’t really like it when people cover The Beatles
Sam: No, Sahera, Sahera, Sahera. I’m throwing it out there
Adam: No don’t say it, don’t say it!
Sam: Ash from HAUS’ version is better, I’m throwing it out there. I prefer it, it’s better, oi put that on your fucking blog, oi put it down
(This is just Sam’s opinion by the way, the rest of the band and myself whole heartedly disagree)
“So,” the band conclude, “we’re listening to BlackWaters, we’re listening to HAUS, we’re listening to Grenners, we’re listening to The Wholls”
“Ok next! Oi we’re smashing this, look at us getting questions out. Go on”
Me: Who did you guys grow up listening to?
Jack: The Libertines man, and meeting Carl Barât ahhh that’s gotta be it
Sam:Oi Jack tell her the truth what you grew up listening to, Robbie Williams, Jack grew up listening to Robbie Williams, Jack listened to Robbie Williams, biggest fan of Robbie Williams
Jack: Have you ever sat down and listened to the actual tunes of Robbie Williams?
Me: I haven’t, no
Jack: Honestly if you listen to Robbie Williams’ songs they are sick
Sam: Shut the fuck up Jack, you like Robbie Williams
Jack: There’s nothing wrong with Robbie Williams
Sam: Fuck Robbie Williams man!
Jack: Oi influences though, obviously The Libertines
Me: Right ok, favourite band ever?
Omar: I’m going The Streets
Sam: Rage Against The Machine
Adam: Oi how did we not say DMA’s with bands we’re listening to, we love DMA’s
Adam: Has anyone claimed The Libertines ‘cause obviously I’ll take that
Jack: Mate I love The Libertines
Adam: Fuck off I’m older
Jack: You are old
So Adam gets me to guess his age, and I went with 33 to which he exclaims “aw rude I’m not that old! I’m 26 nah I’m 30, I’m not 33 you’ve just wasted three years of my life!” So Jack looks older than 23 right, “the beard makes you look older” I told him. “Oi, wait repeat that, repeat that cause I get stick for this all the time. Adam, Adam listen, Sahera I love you, I love you. Adam listen to this- why do I look older?” “Cause of the beard,” “yeahhh you’re the best I like that, I love this I look older cause I’ve got a beard” Jack laughs.
“I’m shaving my moustache tomorrow” Adam tells me- his moustache is sick by the way, look at that- “how do you get your moustache like that, like do you use gel?” I ask, his response simply being “nah it just grows like this after a while.”
Back to the music though, Jack goes to Adam “if you’ve gone Libertines then I’m gonna go Oasis, but we’re not allowed two of the same are we?”
Me: Right, next question. What’s your ideal venue to play, or festival?
Jack: Glastonbury. Why would you not want to headline Glastonbury, like surely everyone wants to headline Glastonbury? That’s the pinnacle, oi Adam headlining Glastonbury’s a pinnacle innit?
Adam: I’d rather headline Reading
Omar: Sahera what are your favourite venues like not festivals, what would you like to see us play at?
Me: My favourite venue is probably, small venue wise Brixton Windmill maybe?
“Oi what’s the one in Texas, Coachella? Nah, I’m going Coachella. Wait Austin City Limits, that’s it”
“So festivals, Glastonbury, Reading…”
Sam: Oi I wanna do something abroad like Glastonbury’s cool, Reading’s sick but what I’m saying is I wanna do something like, Tomorrowland’s a bit more dancey for us and it’s not really our thing, but I want to do like a European once, like Benicassim in Spain
Me: When I’m on my blog and describe you guys in a sentence, how would you describe your sound, like ‘The Scruff, a ___ band’?
Jack: *shouts* Adam, how would you describe our sound when you finished having a wee (Adam had nipped out by this point for a piss)
Adam: Erm that’s a really strange question, how would you describe our sound when you finished your wee
Adam: I think your (Jack) guitar are shades of DMA’s that’s the kind of stuff you’re influenced by, your (Sam) bass parts have got that kind of Streets hip hop edge without even realising that’s just engrained in you – Sam: I do love The fucking Streets– you’re a bit of an urban head, whereas I’m more retro indie Subways/ early Kings of Leon, I like Queens Of The Stone Age stuff like that, Libertines obviously, Babyshambles
Jack: Ah mate early Babyshambles it’s raw, it’s like raw but it’s not raw as in really really simple like you think it’s raw but you get like the little undertones and the licks and Sammy’s bass lines and like- you know what we’ll flip this, what do you think it’s reminiscent of?
“Ohhh pressure’s on… when you hear ‘The Scruff’ who do you think of?”
Me: Sound wise maybe like Libertines/ Oasis, it’s like Britpop/ post indie-rock punky
“I will give you that Sahera”
Adam: It is Britpop but it is quite punky though, like a bit punky with Britpop little riffs and licks
“I quite like to think we’d throw a modern twist in there as well, like we’re not like a dad band where it’s like all the oldies fucking came to sing. We’re not trying to be like that whole Britpop revival like ‘look at us, in our mod suits,’ we’re just trying to be- “oi I would rock a mod suit though”; mate I’d rock a mod suit all day long but we’re not trying to recreate anything, but if you get those influences through, like we said we love The Libertines, we love Oasis, like those sorts of bands, if that comes through that’s sick. We like turning up, giving it big, like if I make three mistakes in a show and the vibe’s real cool and everyone’s jumping about and everyone’s diving about I’m cool, but if we play the same show and I’ve made three/ four mistakes and it’s a bit like the crowd’s a bit dead they’re not really feeling it, I could play better and still feel like it was less of a show”
“Mate, we want to make people jump around to indie music again, not drum and bass, we want to make people jump around to indie again. It’s been ten years since the last wave of that whole group, you know Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines, that whole indie wave it’s been ten years. In the words of This Feeling, you’ve got to create a zone, and he’s nailed it, Mikey’s nailed it. If you create a zone like, granted you’ve got to have good tunes and you’ve got to play well, but if you create a zone then you’re in. Indie music’s on the way back round again, it’s coming, it’s coming”
Me: Ok one more question before we go see Carl, favourite album ever?
Adam: OK Computer, Radiohead
Sam: A Grand Don’t Come For Free, The Streets
Jack: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, The Beatles
At this point Omar’s disappeared to see Carl Barât, so until next time
The Scruff released Her today, the video premiering over at It’s All Indie. Honestly both the song and video are stunning, with a really raw emotional feel to them. I can honestly say The Scruff are the only band that can have me laughing shit loads at our interview recording one minute, then crying with emotion at their video the next. Big love for these lads and everything they’re doing. The band will be releasing tour dates soon, but for now you can catch them live at Nambucca on September 20th, and The Finsbury Pub on October 25th.
The scene right now is unbelievably good, I think anyone based in London at least would agree with me. One band I’ve recently become really excited by is Dirty Orange, a blinding post grunge punk band from London. I bloody love these guys, everything from their image to their tight sound is meticulous and there’s a vivid rock’n’roll feel to them.
Dirty Orange embody filthy gritty rock with so much passion and emotion, and this grit and power makes their music wicked. I personally love I Don’t Mind and Would You Rather…there’s something really exciting about how the band write and play, and the raw openness of that guitar sound is mega. Gig wise, Dirty Orange will be playing what is set to be a killer show in a couple of weeks for This Feeling. They will play Nambucca alongside Sheafs, Himalayas, The Americas, and Kid Luna (the lineup on that!!) on September 9th, with tickets available for £6 here (or £7 on the door). I’m really excited for this gig, simply because the bands playing are stellar; Dirty Orange slot into the lineup perfectly, but have that added grit which makes them stand out as a unique band in their own right.
To find out more on Dirty Orange, you can read my interview with the band below, and check them out on Facebook and Twitter
Tell me a bit about your band; who’s in it and how/ when did you form?
George, guitar and vocal, Scott, bass and Connor drums and backing vocal. We formed just over a year and half ago, had 2 rehearsals which were testing to say the least, and then we were offered a gig in London, which was to be our first at ‘The Social’ Little Portland St.. so we got it together and haven’t looked back. That first gig was actually packed out, at capacity which probably gave us too higher expectations. We spent most of the next few months playing to no one..
What’s your local music scene like, any good local bands and venues?
We love London and love playing at venues across the capital, there is a great music scene on the right occasion or night.. but we’re working to make this happen a lot more often. And we’ve played with some great bands, some local and some not so local, a band called ‘Chambers’ from Leicester are a mega live band. We went up to Leicester earlier this year and they were on the same bill. We got ‘em down a few months later to play in London with us. Loads of good bands out there, and always good to work together to progress. We’re based around South West London so do a local Kingston show every so often down at The Fighting Cocks. Wicked little place.
What’s the best gig you’ve played?
Manchester earlier this year at Academy3, packed out crowd who were very welcoming and really got behind us. A real buzz being up there and we can’t wait to go back to play Manchester Indie Week this October.
Where’s the name Dirty Orange from?
We’re dirty (George and Connor) and he’s orange (Scott).. And it sounds fucking cool as
What’s the writing process like for the band, and what track are you most proud of?
It has varied for a few songs, but mostly I (George) write the lyrics and guitar, bring it to the boys and we develop it into a Dirty Orange song, and it’ll chop and change until it’s there. We’re so proud with all our songs. Every song is something that’s happened in real life and tells a story, they’ve all had completely different processes to getting where they are today, and all three of us have our own input into each. But also we can never fucking agree on our best song, let alone what we are most proud of
What’s your favourite track to play live?
Julie You Ain’t No Clara, I Don’t Mind and Would You Rather. All three are full of energy and really come across as they should live… Filthy
As a small band, what do you think of protecting grassroots venues and working with upcoming promoters?
We think it’s so important, especially at London gigs it’s rare to have punters coming through the door to watch unknown bands these days, so working with upcoming promoters, you both make a real effort to get people along to gigs as they are as passionate as seeing packed out venues as we are. We’re buzzing to be involved with This Feeling for our next show at Nambucca on Sept 9th, it’s mega what they’re doing for up-and-coming bands and loads of the grassroots venues around the country. Protecting these venues is so so important! You only have to look at the great venues in West London that have closed down over the years.. Like Nashville rooms, Hammersmith Palais and Lyceum.
Is the impact of politics something you’d ever want to embed in your music?
Social issues, but not politics
What musicians are you listening to right now?
We’re always listening to a huge variety of music, new stuff from Kasabian, Joey Badass, Stormzy, The Killers and a top reggae artist called Chronixx. But also all our favourites like, Nirvana, The Clash, Johnny Thunders, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, The Strokes, Bowie, Elvis Costello, old Motown and blues records etc. Can’t go wrong
How did you get into music, which bands influenced you growing up as a musician?
Between the three of us, growing up our influences really vary but some we share our love for are Nirvana, The Libertines, The Clash, Kings of Leon (early stuff mainly), Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, and Amy Winehouse to name a few
How would you describe Dirty Orange’s sound?
Raw rock, plenty of energy and vitality and meaningful lyrics.
What plans have the band got in terms of future recording and gigging?
We are recording our upcoming EP, which will be our first studio produced. Everything we’ve recorded thus far has been bedroom recordings. We haven’t announced it yet but it’ll be out mid-October all going well. So we are buzzing for that, we will put on a launch show in London, autumn time and a few dates around the country. Also mega excited to play Nambucca with This Feeling on September 9th. It’s our first show with them so buzzing to be involved with some wicked bands. The line-up is fucking mega! And as we said earlier Manchester Indie Week in October. We’re playing Factory on Saturday 14th Oct.
What’s the dream festival/ venue to play?
Playing great venues and festivals all over the world is the dream, but main stage at Glastonbury wouldn’t be bad!
If you could play or collaborate with any musician, who would it be?
There’s so many, if I (George) could pick any one from over the years it’d be easy, Joe Strummer.
What’s been your favourite musical release this year?
Kasabian new album For Crying Out Loud, and Chronixx’ new album Chronology, totally different music but both cracking albums. Also great to hear Liam Gallagher back with two belting singles, looking forward to his new album. What a boy!
Introducing The Violet Shakes, a new re-branded version of St Albans three piece Pages. The Violet Shakes are made up of Matt on vocals and lead guitar, Danny on bass and drummer James, and the band have been playing together for around two years now. The band used to play under the name Pages, and are certain to carry on their brilliant local reputation under their new formation. Having interviewed them last October and being really into their music, both new and old, I was keen to catch up with the band under their new name and image.
The Violet Shakes essentially are a new band; new, fresh music, and a more defined new image. Name wise, ‘it came from a night out’ Matt tells me. ‘We went to watch Concrete Caverns’ Danny explains, ‘and we were just standing there and Matt turned to me and went The Violet Shakes.’ ‘I was just mesmerised by the lights, the name just kinda came to me’ Matt grins, James laughing ‘it was meant to be.’ With the new name and image, new music is something the band are working on. ‘We’re finally getting round to properly recording in a studio with a producer. Our debut single will be called Fresh, with a release date to be confirmed’ Matt tells me. ‘We’re doing a few more tracks’ James explains, ‘hopefully a couple live sessions, a live EP.’ The band won’t be recording to tape with their new music, instead they’ll be ‘recording it normally then exporting that to tape, so more vintage sounding’ Matt explains.
‘Over the next year we plan to do a couple of EPs’ I’m told, with 2018 being the year the band want to focus on, as James will be back from uni by this point. ‘We’re always writing aren’t we’ Danny muses; ‘Matt will be writing lyrics and riffs, then me and Matt get together.’ ‘We just jam it out really’ Matt explains, ‘like we’re leaning more to the side of on the day we just get together and find some really cool chords and sounds.’ ‘We’ve been through the covers phase’ Danny tells me, ‘and we just wanna be doing our own stuff now, we have cool fresh material of our own.’ ‘The new sound uses a lot of delays and chorus’ Matt tells me, ‘it’s got that openness to it too.’ Regarding the band’s technical set up, James currently plays a Mapex kit, Zildjian K cymbals, and an SPD-SX drum pad, Danny a jazz bass, and Matt a Fender duo sonic guitar with a custom built pedal and Memory Man delay pedal.
‘I don’t want us to be an indie band’ Matt argues, ‘I don’t think our new sound is going to be very indie.’ ‘It’s all getting a bit the same now’ James agrees, referring to the current music scene. ‘We’re getting a bit more punky, I try not to listen to much indie anymore’ Matt tells me, but he also expresses a love for the 80s; ‘they’re ironically really good feel-good songs to listen to!’ We talk about upcoming gigs for the band too, which includes a set this weekend at Wilkestock festival. ‘It’s gonna be sick’ Matt tells me, Danny agreeing ‘I can’t wait to play that one.’ ‘I’m looking forward to Concrete Caverns, Arcadian, Artisans, Vant and October Drift’ Matt tells me, with Danny picking out his highlights as Yak, Vant, Concrete Caverns and J.W. Paris, James mentioning Vant and Artisans. I ask the band about artists they’re currently listening to, to which James tells me ‘I like female pop stuff like Pale Waves.’ For Danny, ‘I’m listening to bands like JAWS and Sundara Karma, a lot more uplifting music at the moment. There’s some heavier stuff as well, I like to listen to a bit of a variety. You know Bring Me The Horizon are a great band live, I like a bit of everything.’ The band all agree on Yonaka as a favourite new band of theirs too; ‘they’ve got a really different sound’ Danny tells me, ‘there’s something really interesting in their sound, something no one’s really heard.’ ‘She uses her voice really well too’ Matt adds, James laughing ‘it’s an almost scary stage presence!’ ‘Yeah we all really like them.’ As mentioned before, with regards to upcoming releases The Violet Shakes are working on new single Fresh which will hopefully be ready very soon. ‘The idea of it lyrically is that the government’s shit’ James grins, Matt intervening ‘we are talking about that, but the idea is more that things are looking new but just staying the same.’ ‘Like back in the 80s people were worried about war and shit, and look we’re still worried about war now.’
‘It’s important to write politically’ Matt tells me, to which Danny disagrees at the exact same time that ‘it’s not important.’ James leans to a more politically neutral side, telling me ‘when I think ‘political band’ I think of shout-y stuff.’ ‘Nah,’ Matt disagrees, ‘I think it’s important to be socially aware. But I like songs that are cleverly disguised, have clever lyrics. It’s good to touch on a lot of subjects really. Like I want the band to be accessible to people.’ With politics, ‘I don’t think that should matter in music’ James insists, ‘if someone likes it they’ll listen.’ ‘Politics shouldn’t take control of absolutely everything’ Danny agrees. ‘I guess we’re really about bringing people together’ Matt tells me, ‘mostly it’s about having fun.
Production wise, the band’s music is being produced by Ian Flynn and recorded at Haggerston Music studios in Dalston. With regards to upcoming single Fresh, ‘it’s quite an upbeat single’ Matt explains. ‘We wrote it about three months ago in my bedroom, me and Danny’ I’m told, James adding ‘the sounds are going to be quite chorus-y, quite chant-y.’ ‘Like it works really well’ Matt adds, ‘hopefully there’ll be people that can sing along.’ Back in July, The Violet Shakes launched their new sound at The Horn, a gig James describes as ‘the best gig we’ve ever played.’ ‘When the crowd are singing along it gives you such a buzz’ Danny tells me, ‘jumping around gives you a lot of energy!’ With James about to go back at uni for his final year, ‘we’re just getting ourselves completely ready for summer 2018’ Matt tells me. Watch this space.
The Violet Shakes play Wilkestock festival at Stevenage this weekend; you can purchase tickets here, or pick up a ticket on the day.
Read my festival preview piece here featuring The Violet Shakes
Whilst my blog tends to focus on bands, I was keen to do a feature on London’s Oliver Shaw, an incredibly talented musician who is building a reputation up for himself as one of the city’s best acoustic musicians. The ex-bassist for the Garage Flowers, Ollie has played a variety of solo acoustic gigs and open mics, gigging mainly around the Camden circuit and building up a solid fan base there. Bands like Paves, The Skinner Brothers, J.W. Paris and Adrenaline Animals make up a lovely circle in London, and Ollie’s solo music has slotted into this scene perfectly. Recently Ollie performed a stunning set at the iconic Dublin Castle, and before he played we had a catch up over a quick coffee for an interview. One thing I can’t stress enough about Ollie is how lovely and genuine he is; I’ve been good mates with him for months now, and was so proud to see him perform such a fantastic set. Ollie performs regular open mic nights at Nambucca and Dublin Castle, and you can keep an eye on his live dates here.
First up we spoke about Ollie’s recent transition from being the Garage Flowers bass guitarist to a solo performer, to which he replies ‘I’m actually loving it. I feel like I’ve got something for the first time, like I’ve had a moment of clarity.’ ‘I do an open mic every two weeks at Dublin Castle’ he tells me, ‘and I’m going to start doing Nambucca every Sunday.’ Ollie then goes on to tell me how much be loves Dublin Castle as a venue; ‘Madness to the Libertines, like all the bands I love have played there’ he exclaims, ‘all my favourite musicians have been hanging out there.’ We talk about the local music scene around Camden/ Holloway (where Ollie is based- ‘I live in the outskirts of Camden, can play a gig at Dublin Castle then walk home’ he laughs), which he describes as having ‘always been very supportive.’ But in terms of being a solo artist, ‘there is an element of you against the world…first time I can appreciate it’s only me to blame, it’s so stripped back but lovely sometimes.’ We talk a bit about venues around London too, Ollie telling me ‘I used to like Denmark Street, particularly the old 12 Bar Club.’
I ask Ollie a bit about his writing process, to which he simply explains ‘it’s songwriter style, some people get it, some people don’t.’ ‘It’s just songs’ he explains, likening this style to artists like Pete Doherty, John Lennon, Elton John and Noel Gallagher. ‘It’s quite prolific’ my writing, he muses, ‘I’m happy self reflecting.’ ‘Sometime you sit there with a glass of wine and think “what am I doing?” It’s like these ideas, how am I going to put them in one chain of thought?’ ‘I don’t care if I’m unsuccessful, I just don’t want to be unhappy. I am a hippie at heart!’ he laughs. ‘So I played bass with the Garage Flowers for eight months, and they were lovely gigs, they’re good mates of mine. But then I went to Amsterdam and took my acoustic guitar, there was lots of listening to And I Love Her actually. I saw my friend for a bit and had two days alone, and just learned to play it by ear. He [McCartney] was, what, 18 when he wrote it and is in his 70s now, and I’m like 33. It’s so timeless.’ ‘There’s something so lovely about songwriting’ he insists, coming back to my initial question about his writing process; ‘something so lovely, I missed it in all shapes and forms.’ ‘I love the Garage Flowers guys, but it’s like a relationship, it’s full on, you’re trying to get a deal…like what’s the final final straw?’ ‘It’s been a year of extreme extremities’ he tells me, ‘I stopped drinking in Amsterdam, and there was the comedown of not drinking, I was almost depressed!’ But this weakness isn’t a bad thing for Ollie, as with Lennon for example ‘his weaknesses were his strengths- he was a classic, normal guy, well not normal he was a genius!’ But like Lennon, Ollie ‘learned to write songs, learned to play guitar and learned to write poetry.’ ‘I started at 14’ he explains, ‘for my 14th birthday I got a guitar.’ ‘My first guitar was a Fender’ he tells me, and ‘I currently play a Fender square electric and a Gretsch acoustic.’
I then go on to ask Ollie about his favourite new bands, to which he immediately replies False Heads; ‘they have the whole package’ he insists, ‘their lyrics are so good.’ Discovering new bands, ‘it’s like falling in love’ he laughs.’ ‘I like The Tramadolls, and of course I like the Garage Flowers, they’re lovely guys and have got really good songs.’ In terms of what Ollie likes in music, ‘it’s gotta have a catchy bass line and riff’ he tells me, ‘but again it’s the lyrics.’ ‘It’s like This Charming Man‘ he laughs; ‘it’s an ambiguous anthem that butch men were singing in the 80s, it’s very English.’ Coming back to lyricism, we get on to the subject of The Beatles, a mutual favourite band between myself and Ollie. ‘As a 33 year old, I can connect to lyrics written by an 18 year old 50 years ago. There’s something very human about them, Lennon and McCartney.’ ‘It’s the same with Kurt,’ he mentions, as well as bands like The Doors and The Smiths; ‘there’s something special about the lyrical content of the band.’ ‘The Doors were at the height of the Vietnam war’ he explains, ‘and their lyrics were just a big up yours to society’ he grins, picking out “well I woke up this morning, got myself a beer” as a personal favourite from The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues; ‘it was how every US man would’ve wanted to be.’ Another favourite he picks out is “Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for” from Oasis’ Cigarettes & Alcohol; ‘Gallagher really summed up a generation.’ The Smiths he describes as ‘very accidental, he was such an ambiguous character in every way Morrissey.’ ‘He was a great social documenter himself’ Ollie tells me; ‘he always wrote as a more social thing, I write as a release.’ ‘My brain just comes out with something creative’ he tells me, ‘as songs are about you- you write them and live them. You remember a song then you live through that; it would somehow have my stamp on it’ he insists, ‘because it comes from you.’ Lennon went through four stages Ollie muses, ‘psychedelic, sad, political, and I ‘love you’…it’s a weird moment of reflection.’ That’s the whole beauty of music though he insists; ‘like Noel didn’t realise the whole country would be singing Don’t Look Back In Anger 15/20 years later.’ ‘My style of writing is very English’ he muses, ‘but I don’t know what people are going to connect with.’ ‘I have a track called Holes In The Sky’ he tells me, which effected a friend completely differently. ‘“This song reminds me of my mum” my mate said, and he just sat there in tears.’ ‘Trying to understand the mathematics of everything people write is boring, lyrics approach me as I’m living it, that’s what lyrics are about.’ With Holes In The Sky, Ollie tells me that ‘I sat in the moonlight hour playing to myself aged 14, then started playing it in my 20s.’ ‘It’s fairly… I mean… that’s art! Good writing is ambiguous.’
Catch Ollie live at Nambucca on 7/09, and at The Monarch on 12/09 playing Musicians Against Homelessness with 485C and Adrenaline Animals
A couple days back I published an interview with BlackWaters, a band who I fucking adore live. The first time I saw them was back at The Horn in January for Independent Venue Week, but it wasn’t just their set which made that gig a standout highlight for me; it was the fact that they were co-headlining the gig with the immense Strange Bones. A screwy, raucous punk band, Strange Bones are one of the most abrasive and uncaring bands out there. Packed with politicised intensity, Strange Bones manage to blur the attitude of old school punk with a more fresh, unique edge.
Live too, they are something else. I’ve never been in better mosh pits than at a Strange Bones gig; they always get this hectic thrashing from the crowd, full of borderline violent circle pits, crowd surfing and just the craziest rowdiest atmosphere. Bobby always jumps in the crowd too, often standing in the crowd as he sings, or getting fans to scream lyrics into the mic for him (which I’ve unashamedly done quite a few times). So I’ve seen the band four times now; headlining The Horn in January, supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes at Koko, headlining The Victoria in London (best 18th birthday ever), and supporting Cabbage alongside The Blinders a couple months back at Scala. It was before the Scala gig that their lovely manager Martin sorted me out with my press pass, and I got to chat with lead vocalist Bobby and bassist Will.
So first up we spoke about how crazy 2017 has been so far; ‘this year’s been amazing’ Bobby tells me, a specific highlight being the band playing as the official support for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes on their sold out UK tour. ‘I was pretty scared’ Bobby admits, telling me how ‘I grew up listening to The Gallows.’ ‘It was a dream’ that tour, Will tells me, putting emphasis on it being a ‘dreaaaaam.’ ‘Yonaka are an amazing band’ too I’m told, with Yonaka being the other support act alongside Strange Bones. ‘Frank Carter messaged us on Instagram which was pretty cool’ Bobby grins, as I ask about how the support slot fell into place. ‘That Koko gig was the best gig we’ve ever played’ Bobby tells me, Will agreeing ‘it was fucking carnage.’
Too fucking right it was. One of the best gigs I’ve been to this year, Strange Bones’ set was an absolute riot, full of the most hectic moshing and thrashing circle pits I’ve ever seen at one of their shows. I asked the band about their January tour with BlackWaters too, which they laugh about as being ‘pretty messy,’ describing BlackWaters as ‘good lads.’ All Strange Bones gigs are messy and pretty fucked up though- it just comes with the territory. At one gig ‘we had to give a public service announcement mid set’ they laugh, as they tell me how one venue had a huge open window they feared fans moshing were going to fall out of!
We then go on to talk about style, and genre in the band’s music. Tracks like God Save The Teen, Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus and Dead are undoubtedly punk, but new track Energy is a fusion of grime and punk, with Strange Bones playing on it alongside Stormzy and Skepta (as well as Avelino). ‘It’s bringing two worlds together’ Bobby tells me, explaining how ‘we like all types of music.’ ‘I listen to a bit of everything really’ he explains, mentioning The Clash and The Cramps as big influences.’ ‘I like old bands, UK subculture’ he tells me. ‘I listen to every style of music’ Will agrees. ‘Not like space techno’ he laughs, but basically ‘every style.’
Both Will and Bobby go on a whim talking about new bands they’re into, mentioning some fucking good ones. Yonaka and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are mentioned as good live ones, with Bobby bringing up Ho99o9, who are ‘probably my favourite band at the moment.’ They also mention IDLES, Blinders, Yonaka, False Heads and Cabbage, having ‘played with Cabbage at Leeds fest.’ On the topic of festivals I ask the band about Isle of Wight which they had just recently returned from when I interviewed them. ‘That was a messy weekend’ they laugh, ‘just getting on it with the Blinders really!’ ‘Got burnt from head to toe’ Will adds. The band have done a shitload of festivals this summer too, including Y Not, TRNSMT, Tramlines and 2000 Trees. ‘Sometimes you get dead crowds’ they tell me, but from what I’ve seen with the band this is rare. ‘Sometimes people just look like they wanna fight you’ Will laughs. The band are based in Blackpool, and I ask if there’s a good local music scene there, to which Will immediately replies ‘no.’ ‘I mean there is’ Bobby says, ‘there’s bands that play and that, but it’s not thriving.’ Blackpool is a pretty cool theme in their music, mainly as the city is where they filmed the incredible We The Rats music video. The band also wear these sick rat masks, giving the track and video a more gritty, grimy punk bite.
We then get on to the topic I’ve been looking forward to asking the band about: politics. Their music has this blunt, abrasively left wing edge, with tracks like Big Sister Is Watching an intimidating dig at issues like social justice, privacy, and rights. ‘I feel people are starting to become more aware about the injustices in the world’ Bobby (whose shirt says ‘the scum’ in the style of The Sun logo) argues.
‘The toxic press, it’s pretty fucked up, and half the population just sit their mindlessly. Half the population listens mindlessly to a right wing press working for the establishment.’ The state of politics isn’t too bad though Bobby argues, as it’s ‘given birth to a wave of political artists and musicians.’ So in terms of band set up, you have Bobby as vocalist, Will on bass guitar, Jack on lead guitar and Stuart on drums. ‘Me, Will and Jack are brothers’ Bobby tells me, ‘and we used to play in bands when we was kids.’ ‘Our mum and dad have been in music’ Bobby explains, ‘and they managed punk bands so brought us up around that.’ ‘Jack went to play drums in Darlia for a bit,’ so ‘we used to be a three piece but we added Jack when he became available.’ The band have been around for two and a half years I’m told, ‘and we haven’t had any time off’ Bobby explains. The hard graft and work of the band though really is clear by a) how sick they are live, and b) how incredible their recorded music is. The name Strange Bones is pretty bloody cool too, so I wanted to find out how the band came up with it. ‘There’s no like deep meaning’ they laugh, Bobby grinning ‘I was just watching loads of dinosaur documentaries and was quite stoned.’
I ask them about This Feeling too, who as promoters have worked closely with the band. ‘They’re really good’ they tell me, as they’re ‘creating a platform for bands.’ ‘They’re a platform to so many young artists’ Will agrees. I ask the two what plans Strange Bones have for the future. ‘We haven’t really got plans for an album’ I’m told, mainly ‘we want more tours,’ Will agreeing that playing live is ‘all we wanna do.’ I ask the band what their favourite tracks to do live are, both Will and Bobby agreeing on Spitfire and Big Sister Is Watching You. ‘Pussy Galore, I like that one too’ Bobby exclaims. We talk about possible venues/ festivals they’d like to play one day, Bobby immediately telling me ‘I wanna play Glasto,’ Will agreeing ‘I think every band in the world wants to.’
It was so cool to hang out with the band before their KILLER set after. It’s funny cause they came across a bit reserved and shy almost, but on stage put on the most manic hectic show (as per). The killer aura of Strange Bones which makes them so good is the blinding sense of genuine punk they have. It’s an attitude they embody, and this paired with snarling over the top rock makes them one of the coolest, most exciting bands around right now.
Strange Bones will be touring extensively throughout late September and all of October, and if you’re gonna do anything then you need to see this band. You can purchase tickets here. Bobby’s The Scum shirt has since been made into official band merch, which will hopefully be added to the band’s official site soon. For now you can head to their online store and pick up a banging Strange Bones logo shirt here (which is fifteen quid well fucking spent).