Exclusive interview with new rock band The Harlyns

Tell me about the band; how did you form and how long have you been together?

The band started of originally with Stephen on the drums and myself (Zac) on guitar. We began at 15 years old covering Arctic Monkeys tunes at Stephen’s house. And one day we both decided to have a go at making our own tune. It sounded shite but since then we’ve got better and better. We then recruited Ashley Kirk on bass and Joe Leak on guitar. Now we’re all 17 and we’ve been together as a foursome for around 4 months

Why did you choose to be in a band?

The whole lifestyle of being in a band fucking attracted us all. It sucked us in. Seeing the likes of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys performing with the crowds going fucking nuts, we wanted to create that feeling for others as well. I love rock’n’roll music and what it does to people. For us it’s all about playing live and seeing people lose their shit to your music, I’m obsessed with the whole lifestyle. The thought of sitting behind a desk all my life getting on the same shit train every day drives me nuts. I want to see the world you know, experience different things

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

We’re from Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire. There’s a few young bands around the area and some decent music venues, but we’re aiming to venture away from Bishops Stortford and gig around other areas such as Cambridge and London. But at the end of the day we just want as many people as possible to hear our music

Who did you grow up listening to, and who are the biggest musical influences on the band?

I never really got into music till I was about 13/14. I remember as a kid my dad playing bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian and Muse. But I found music at around 13/14. We listen to Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Kasabian, The Beatles etc.

As the songwriter, the biggest influences on my music are writers such as Noel Gallagher, Alex Turner, John Lennon. They’re all fucking geniuses and I adore their music

The Harlyns
The Harlyns

What do your lyrics tend to focus on?

I couldn’t tell you what our lyrics are about as I don’t have a fucking clue. I write what comes into my head and if it fits and sounds good I’ll use it. A few songs here and there are personal but on most occasions they’re just a load of shite. I find it easier to write about random things as that way I’m not trying to point at things and talk about specific events or whatever

Given the state of current day politics and its effects, would you ever consider embodying that in lyrics?

I’d try to keep political opinions and current world affairs out of my music to be honest. Music should be a positive thing at the end of the day, and people should be able to forget the current state of the world and just lose themselves in the songs, plus a song about Trump and Brexit probably wouldn’t sound too good anyway

Tell me about your writing and recording process

Creating a song is easy for us. I’d be in my room playing about on the guitar and all of a sudden I’ll create a riff or chord pattern. I’ll then film it on my phone send it to our drummer,  he’ll then create a drum routine for it. We’d get together in the practise room and make a scratchy recording of it and then just work on it from there. About 2 weeks ago we went into a proper studio for the first time to record one of our songs. It took around 5 hours to finish everything and make it perfect but it sounds the bollocks. We’re aiming to be in the recording studio once a month so by the time we’re gigging regularly we’ll be able to hand out CDs or whatever and build up a following.

What plans do you have for the future in terms of gigging and recording?

Currently we’re just trying to get enough songs fully completed so we can gig properly. We’ve got a few things lined up for the future in terms of gigs and shows. But we’re not rushing anything, we don’t want to rush into performing too early and have people go ‘don’t go and see The Harlyns they’re fucking awful’. In terms of recording we’re aiming to have an EP recorded by the end of the year which will be released.

To keep up to date with The Harlyns, you can follow them on Twitter

Introducing new indie four piece VITO: exclusive interview with guitarist Andy & debut single review

Fresh of their release of stellar debut single Masquerade, new indie rock band VITO are creating a brilliantly raucous, captivating indie sound, filling an obvious gap in the music industry. Made up of Tom Conway (guitar and lead vocals), Andy Bell (guitar and vocals), Jasper Watson (bass guitar and vocals), and Dom Willis (drums), the band have elements of classic indie rock to their music with a more modernised alternative edge. They have a very pure, catchy indie sound, which is enthralling and a lot of fun to listen to. What I  love about the band is how they embody all the elements of traditional indie rock, yet maintain a unique edge which makes them slightly different to other bands out there currently, whilst keeping a strong, solid indie sound. Like bands such as Catfish and The Bottlemen or The Strokes, VITO have brilliant guitar riffs and blaring rock choruses, giving their tracks that indie rock anthem feel. The band released debut single Masquerade earlier on this year in January, and it’s safe to say the debut single alone promises a lot for the band. The track has this fantastic guitar sound to it with the meticulous riff playing throughout the track, with a deep rich bass line and short sharp chords layered over it. The drumming has a fantastically steady, rhythmic beat to it too which helps tie the track together. It’s very polished and professional, which is exciting to hear in a band’s debut single. Tom’s vocals remind me a lot of Van McCann or Liam Gallagher; there’s that classic pure indie rock/ Brit-pop sound to them. The band have quite an atmospheric aura too, one which I can see being moulded into something much bigger than it already is. The catchy explosive riffs tie in garage and alt-rock sounds too, which just adds to the immensity of Masquerade. There’s a lot of dynamism to the band, which makes VITO an extremely exciting new force of indie infused rock’n’roll.

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VITO live

For more on VITO you can read my exclusive interview with Andy below

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

I’ve been playing in different bands with Tom (our singer) for close to ten years now but they fell apart because of people going to uni and pursuing other interests. Tom knew Dom (drums) from going to college, and we went through a few bass players before finding Jasper on Facebook – he looked good so had to be in the band.

How did you come up with the name VITO?

We couldn’t settle on a name as everything’s taken these days. Tom just said VITO and it sort of stuck. It’s got connotations with life and power so it reflects our music well – loud, fun and big choruses.

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

Me and Tom are from Gateshead and Dom and Jasper are from Sunderland. It’s pretty cool being from both places because there’s bands who’ve done well like The Futureheads and Maximo Park. Most people just talk about ‘The Newcastle Scene’ but for us it’s more of a ‘North East Scene’ and it seems to be there’s never been a better time for music making up here. There’s some bands doing really well for themselves and we’re seeing more and more people showing up to shows so we’re really excited about the future.

Who would you say are key musical influences on the band?

Probably Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Strokes and Gaslight Anthem. We also listen to loads of Classic Rock like Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen – anything with guitars really.

What’s your first memory of music?

I used to have this music teacher that would come in primary school and just play guitar and sing to us. He used to play The Beatles and that and I completely adored him. I picked up the guitar around then and started getting lessons off him too.

What influences your lyrics?

I can’t really speak for Tom but we always write songs about being young and wanting to do big things. I guess it’s sort of escapism.

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

Yeah, I think with our songs it depends how you read it – they can either seem really political or not political at all, which I like. Like I said, we tend to write about being young and the problems that our generation faces as a result of what the older generations have done, so it’s only natural that it’d become political at parts. It’d be cool to actually write a protest song though, we really like what VANT are doing with how political they are so it’d be cool to follow in their footsteps a little.

Tell me about your debut single Masquerade

It actually came out a while back and we’ve been overwhelmed with the reaction so far. We really didn’t expect it to be as well received as it has been! It’s class to see a song that must have gone through about 5 different iterations over two years come out to people loving it and singing it back to us at shows. We wrote it about Newcastle and how much we love the city but also want to get out and do big things that would hopefully gain some attention for the city.

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

My first show was Green Day in Manchester Arena in 2009 – we were right at the back and they were just tiny specs on stage but to have that as the first show was really memorable. I love their energy and that it’s more of a show than just playing a few tunes to a crowd.

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

It’s really cliché with what I’ve just been talking about but I’d actually love to headline St James’ Park in Newcastle. We saw Kings of Leon play there a while back and would be amazing to come out to a home crowd there. As for festivals, probably Reading and Leeds to be honest. I’ve never actually been, but have grown up following the bands that come from the smaller stages to headlining and would be class to be part of that.

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

Personally I’d love to do something with any of The Beach Boys – just sit and write a proper pop tune with loads of parts and go crazy in the studio.

What plans do you have for the future in terms of gigging and recording?

I’m not too sure what I can say but we have quite a lot of festivals coming up this summer. We’ll be gigging up and down the country in between anyway, we want to play every where, doesn’t matter how big or small the venue is. We’re putting finishing touches on a second single as we speak and will have one more single before we start an EP for release towards the end of the year. It’s going to be busy!

You can follow VITO on Facebook or Twitter, and listen to their music on SoundCloud

SPLURGE: new single review & exclusive interview with lead vocalist and guitarist Joe

Described as ‘troubled two piece noise makers moaning about growing up,’ Splurge are a punk rock duo made up of Rob and Joe. The band recently released new single Lunatic, a heavy messy burst of hectic madness. The guitar is really heavy, drawing in alternative rock, post punk, and classic rock sounds. Joe’s vocals remind me a lot of IDLES or The Clash, with a very classic punk accented vocal. The line ‘I’m a lunatic’ is shouted throughout, with Rob’s heavy rolling drums adding to the thrashing aggression of the track. It’s a proper punk rock head banger, with really fantastically raw DIY punk elements to it. It’s blunt and abrasive, with the intensity of Joe’s guitar building up the power and forceful nature the track possesses. What I like about Lunatic is the attitude behind it- it’s a very open and blunt track, with a load of confidence and attitude behind the heaviness of the guitar and drums which crash in sync with each other. The band remind me a lot of those rough DIY punk bands such as Mummy or Pizzatramp, with a blunt punk rock sound. Recently I caught up with vocalist and guitarist Joe to chat about the new single, as well as the fluoride in our taps, worshipping shape shifting lizards, and the continuous inflation of freddo bars.

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Splurge

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

Rob plays the drums and does the ‘ohhhs’ and I (Joe) play guitar and do the ‘ahhhs.’ We formed from a very drunken evening after being best mates since 2003 when I moved next door to him. We switched up instruments as I’m usually a drummer and Rob used to play bass so we thought we’d challenge ourselves. It’s punk though right?

Why did you want to be in a band?

We both played in the first ever band we were in. We were called ‘Last Minute Love,’ and back then we were the epitome of middle class punk rock. We thought we’d do SPLURGE because there ain’t no feelin’ like being on stage and playing to 10 people all with their arms crossed who are having full blown conversations in-between songs; I like to ruin their evening

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

We’re originally from a small town in Hertfordshire called Berkhamsted. The scene used to be amazing. Ska punk was massive when we grew up so we used to go to local shows every month. We used to play a few of them as well. Rob moved to Brighton to continue his career in the circular meat foundation industry- he one day hopes to open his own place called ‘Bobs Burgers.’ I currently still live in Berkhamsted and work as a high end estate agent in Soho. Quite the contrast

You mention stress and mental health issues being detailed in single Lunatic. Can you elaborate on the meaning behind the track and the process of writing it?

I dreamt the melody. Woke up and played it and there was all these banger alerts going off in my head, I thought it would be the song of the year. The chorus goes “I’m a lunatic/ I’m alright” which I originally begged Rob to do in his best Axl Rose impression. Then we played it live a bit and I made up lyrics on the spot for ages because I couldn’t think of a good story and then just thought about what I hate- social situations where you’re out of your head. All the lyrics are conversations I would be having in my brain in these situations. We stopped doing all that silly shit ages ago. Glugs over drugs, keep off the grass kids. But seriously, that stuff is proper bad for you

What else influences your lyrics?

Work related issues, ex lovers, fascists, mostly I just scream about consistent inflation of freddo bars. I did actually write a post punk song about mars bar once but Rob told me it was stupid

Given the current political climate we’re in, would that be something you’d ever consider writing about/ embodying in your lyrics?

Listen, there’s fluoride in our tap water. We’ve all been brainwashed into this current state of affairs. Turn off your TV, get down a museum and learn what happened before all this bollocks. Earth is a repeating cycle. 2000 BC, the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, we worship shape shifting lizards. We’re all gonna die so just do what you fuckin want

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Which musicians have influenced you growing up, and are there any key musicians who influence your music?

From a writing side, SPLURGE is influenced by grunge, punk and hardcore. Bands we would call influences are Ceremony, Melvins, Misfits, Nirvana, The Clash, Ramones and so on. From a lyrical side I love hip hop, so a lot of our verses won’t have rhyming couplets like traditional punk, I like to write verses where every line rhymes with the one before- like rappers. I also like for verses to have the exact same amount of syllables in every line when I can do it.

For example we have song called Bullfight;

“Woah

Excruciating pain

Woah

It’s going in my brain”

What’s your earliest memory of music?

My mum used to play me a lot of hip hop and 60s mod as a kid. But my earliest memory of music is probably singing Hark The Herald Angel Sing in assembly in school

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

Just before Rob moved to Brighton we were going to attend a Nirvana tribute band who have an Elvis impersonator as their front man- called Elvana. I bought the tickets, we booked it off work. That same night I contacted Elvana and asked them if they wanted a support band and the rest is history. That was the best gig I’ve ever played and been to

Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?

PINTS, Drawstring, Middle Distance, Mummy, Revenue, Who Cares?, WACO, Brunch, Consuumer, Cruelty, Chain Of Flowers- rock and roll

Tell me about SPLURGE’s upcoming plans in terms of gigging and recording 

We’re releasing our new EP Mood Swings through Honeypot Records on 21st April. We want to do loads of tours and make another records. Come say hello at a show, we’re really friendly to people who say they like us

You can listen to SPLURGE on SoundCloud and Bandcamp, or follow them on Facebook

Exclusive Interview with new rock band Elephant Bay

Introducing Elephant Bay, a quirky and unique five piece from Lancashire. The band are made up of Emily on guitar and lead vocals, Bella on guitar and backing vocals, George on lead guitar, John on bass, and James on drums. The alternative rock-grunge infused sound the guitar has matches the delicate softness of Emily’s vocals beautifully in their music, making their sound very reminiscent of acts like Wolf Alice or Kill Moon (early Black Honey). The lyrics are soft and melancholy, especially on Everest which features a heavy guitar sound and soft intricate riffs throughout. Their music is very delicate and poised, rather than the typical messy sound you get from grunge bands. As Everest draws to an end, it slows down with Emily’s light vocal matching the meticulous guitar riff beautifully. Safehouse is a stunning track too, with the blaring riffs backing up the intricate riff played on lead guitar; the drumming is steady too, keeping the track very controlled and showcasing how well written and constructed it is. Wasted Paper Days is a favourite of mine (video further down in the article), with that heavy guitar giving their music a really powerful gritty feel. As well as this heaviness though, the band are beautifully delicate and soft too. They have a variety of stunning acoustic covers available to listen to online, a favourite of mine being their cover of Catfish and The Bottlemen’s Glasgow.

The soft blurred vocals from Emily and Bella remind me a lot of bands like Wolf Alice, Fat White Family, and INHEAVEN. The soft delicacy of the guitar reminds me too of bands like Blaenavon or Pulled Apart By Horses, giving the band a very interesting alternative rock sound. They’ve been together as a five piece since July last year, with Emily and Bella starting out as an acoustic duo back in 2014. Yet despite being such a small new band, there’s definitely a unique stand out quality to them which sets them up as an exciting band to watch this year.

For more on the band, you can read my exclusive interview with them below

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Tell me about Elephant Bay; who’s in the band, where’s the name from, and how did you form?

Bella: Elephant Bay is a 5 piece alternative rock band, made up of Bella Casson, Emily Jackson, George Barnes, John Taylor and James Robson. Originally it was just two of us (Bella and Emily) who started as an acoustic duo doing covers on YouTube to gain a small following, but we soon realised that we wanted to make more out of it and start gigging at bigger shows and creating bigger songs which is how we came about the idea of starting a band. We spent a while coming up with our name and it’s actually an anagram, but what it’s for is a secret.

George: We formed through college and friends and through looking for the best musical teens in the ribble valley. As for the name, Bella went on holiday to Canada and was looking at all the restaurants names and she saw the “elephant” and the “bay” and various other restaurants, then she put the two together and it sounded great.

Emily: Elephant Bay is a 5 piece alternative rock band based in Lancashire. Me and Bella started out as an acoustic duo in 2014 covering songs on our YouTube channel and performing at various open mic nights around the North West. After a couple years of that we decided we wanted to progress, to start writing our own music and get some proper gigs so we decided to start looking for a band. It took a while to find people on the same wavelength as us and with the same aspirations, however by July 2016 we finally formed a 5 piece and began gigging. Since then we have lost and gained a drummer, so are currently working on getting back up to scratch on original songs whilst writing new ones so that we can start gigging again very soon! In terms of the name, it came about during a game of scrabble…

John: We’re an alternative 5 piece rock band from Clitheroe near Manchester featuring Emily Jackson singing and on guitar, James Robson on drums, George Barnes and Bella Casson also on guitar and myself, John Taylor on bass. I joined a couple of months ago after leaving my prior band Fret:64, a friend introduced me saying they were looking for a bassist and it’s been good times since then. We thought of the name ’cause I had a vision that told me to call my band elephant bay.

James: I’m not sure where the name’s from but I recently joined the band after the old drummer left.

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

Bella: We’re based in Lancashire and around 40 minutes away from Manchester. In our area there isn’t many bands or venues so it’s difficult for a small bands like us to get gigs, so we usually have to travel to Manchester in order to get the opportunity to play to a crowd.

George: We’re mainly based in Clitheroe where the music scene is average so we’ve not done that many local gigs, the other half of us live near Blackburn, where of recent the music scene is slowly growing and we have recently played at the Napier which is a really good venue for small bands.  The pub music scene in Darwen is very good and with ease you can find a good pub with good live music in it.

Emily: We’re based in the Ribble Valley, Clitheroe to be specific, which unfortunately doesn’t have the most exciting music scene; a few pubs and one larger venue (which doesn’t really cater for up and coming bands). I think our biggest struggle as a band is finding the right venues to play at in the right area since there is so little around where we live. We’ve travelled to Manchester a number of times to gig there which we love, however it would be so much easier if there were decent venues a little closer to home.

John: We’re based in Clitheroe where there isn’t much of a music scene really, there’s an upcoming band called Good Foxy who recently went on a tour round Europe and a few small teenage bands but as far as bands go that’s about it.

James: We’re mostly from around Clitheroe, I’m just getting started so I’m quite new to the music scene and I haven’t got an idea of what it’s like yet.

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How did you get into music?

Bella: Music plays a massive part in our lives, we’ve been brought up listening to so many different bands by our families and we’ve always loved music produced by people who have a real passion for their instruments and writing their own material. We really want to be that band writing that song people can’t stop listening to which is why we wanted to pursue careers in music.

George: I’ve been into music for a very long time and am doing my grade 8 this term in both piano and trumpet.  My dad was in a band and was always taking me to gigs around Lancashire and he taught and inspired me to play guitar.

Emily: As cliche as it sounds, I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember and I’m fairly sure my family have played a huge part in that. I’ve grown up surrounded by musicians and lovers of music, my grandma was a jazz singer and later formed a band, my uncle played in a rock band and 2 of my cousins write/produce their own music, so I guess it was pretty inevitable. I started learning the keyboard at school age 8 then stopped that to teach myself piano, then about 3 years later my uncle bought me my first guitar and the rest is history.

John: I got into music when friends started a band and needed a bassist. I always wanted to play guitar but never really considered bass until then.

James: I first started playing piano at primary school, but I got bored of that and moved on to clarinet, I also found this too boring and I stopped playing music for a while until Christmas one year when my younger brother got a drum kit. He didn’t play it much but I took an interest in it and started getting lessons on it when I was 11. I have now been playing drums for just over 6 years and I have no intention to stop now.

What influences your lyrics?

Bella: We place importance on not overthinking our lyrics or making them sound pretentious and like we’re trying too hard to say something influential or inspiring. A lot of real life events that we’ve experienced have a big part into what we write in our songs, most times it’s when we are feeling strong emotions towards someone or something – relationships, friendships, arguments etc. We are naturally quite poetic so more often than not, we’ll mean one thing and write something completely random or metaphorical to reflect that – just to make it sound more interesting to a listener, so most of the time, we are the only ones who can understand our lyrics.

Emily: I’d say I’m quite an emotional person so most of my lyrics are driven by a particular emotion. Most of the time it’s a particular situation that will spark an idea for lyrics, other times I’ll just overhear phrases/conversations and if something catches my attention I’ll make a note of it and write a set of lyrics around it. The one thing I’d say about my lyrics though is that I always have a connection with them, I could never write a song about an experience I’ve never had unless it was metaphorical or symbolic of something I could relate to.

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Is the impact of politics something you’d ever consider embodying in your music?

Emily: As it stands at the moment, I could not possibly have any less of a grasp on politics than I have now. I know that sounds really ignorant of me given what’s going on in the world, but the more I try to understand it all, the less I do. Even if I did have some sort of understanding on it, I can’t say I’d definitely let it influence my music, I know it’s extremely important but personally, I prefer listening to music as a means of escaping the real world and forgetting about reality without getting too caught up on concentrating on political issues. Maybe I’m just not very intellectually-minded.

Which musicians would you say have had the biggest impact on your music?

Bella: We’d say bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen and Nothing But Thieves have had a big impact on the way we write and act onstage, they have had a big influence on our stage presence and the way we look. We also like to compare ourselves to female fronted bands like Wolf Alice, as we can relate to them and get ideas from the way they style female vocals with much heavier rock music so everything balances really nicely.

George: On me myself, I am heavy influenced by Jimmy Page and George Harrison, as a band I’m not sure, I would say we are very unique as we spread across a few genres.

Emily: In terms of inspiring me to be in a band, it has to be Catfish and the Bottlemen. During mine and Bella’s acoustic days we came across Catfish just as they were starting out and followed them on their journey which was incredible to be a part of. We fell in love with them instantly and from then on all we wanted to do was be in a band. Since then I’ve always looked out for smaller bands to support and watch grow, such as Nothing But Thieves, Wolf Alice and Circa Waves (who have all ended up being massively successful). I think it’s important, when you’re in a band, to follow other bands that you can relate to and learn from, which is exactly what we’ve done.

John: There aren’t many bassists who influence my playing but generally I listen to Earl Sweatshirt, Death Grips, Danny Brown, MF Doom, Chance The Rapper, Swans, Childish Gambino, Funkadelic, The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cream and Led Zeppelin.

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Who are your favourite small upcoming bands?

Bella: I’m really into upcoming bands such as VANT, Sundara Karma and Gengahr. They are all quite different to one another but they have a real passion for producing good music in their own unique styles which is why it’s such easy music to listen to and enjoy.

George: My favourite upcoming bands are Blossoms, Cabbage and DMA’s

Emily: We’ll there’s the bands I’ve been following for a while like Sundara Karma, Gengahr, Darlia and The Academic, to name a few, and then there are those that I’ve got into after seeing them support other bands such as VANT, Airways and Caro. There’s also a local band called Good Foxy that I’ve seen quite a few times now and really really like them.

John: My favourite current upcoming bands are Wand, Goat and Myths.

What plans do you have in terms of future gigging and recording?

Bella: We’re aiming to do some more small Manchester gigs in 2017 and hopefully get to a position where we can travel into different cities around the country and do some support shows. We’re definitely in a place where we could record a full EP which is one of our goals by the end of the year.

George: We’re planning to record an EP sometime this year and continue to gig wherever we can.

Emily: We’re in the process of trying to book a load of gigs actually, mainly support slots cos we aren’t big enough for our own gigs yet, but we’re also planning dates to start recording a few singles/ an EP so that we can release our own stuff and start getting a bit of a fanbase going (hopefully). The dream right now would be to release an EP, get some publicity and then be invited on tour with a proper band, that’d be fun.

John: Our plans for the future are really just to record our first album, we have a few  songs down but we still have a lot of work to do. We’re also waiting to hear back from a few festivals who are fairly local which would be really fun to play at, and really just growing our fan base.

James: I know we’re planning a lot of gigs in the near future, not sure exactly where but I know we will be doing a lot!

What venue/ festival is the dream to headline?

Bella: Personally, I’d love to headline Manchester Academy, cause we’ve been to loads of gigs and seen so many bands play there. It would be such a surreal experience for us to be the band that everyone would come to see. Leeds would also be a dream festival to headline cause the crowds are always crazy!

George: Leeds festival.

Emily: I’m with Bella on this, gotta be Manchester Academy for the venue. It was there that our passion to be in a band really started out and it would just be the absolute dream to get a headline slot there. In terms of a festival I’m gonna be boring and say Glastonbury just cos you know you’ve made it when you’re headlining that.

John: Anywhere in New York.

James: I’m not too familiar with festivals/venues but probably Glastonbury just because I’ve always enjoyed watching it on TV and imagining us playing there is just so awesome!

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For more on Elephant Bay you can listen via YouTube & SoundCloud, or follow the band on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

© photos 2, 3 & 4 to Tim Pockney

Introducing the dark grit of The Varletts; debut single review & exclusive interview

Raw and deep with dark garage rock undertones is the perfect way to describe the sound Nottingham three-piece The Varletts create. The band released new single City of Sin on Friday (13th January) and I was blown away by the cutting edge grit the track has. It is a bit slower than your typical rock song, but it’s brooding and dark, with a really intriguing mysterious bite to it. Laurie’s vocals go from deep and low to longer projections on the chorus, which remind me a bit of vocalists like Ian Curtis; but their music possesses a lot more gravel and grit. City of Sin has the heaviest bass accompanied by a raucous, blaring guitar which glides over Laurie’s dark brooding vocals perfectly. The little guitar riff and deep bass which end the track are what makes it for me; throughout the track these little intricate riffs play, intertwining with the richness of Laurie’s vocals and the dark beat of George’s drumming perfectly, very melancholic and almost haunting. It’s the type of rock music that gets you in the gut, and really makes you think about the lyrics and feel the music. The accompanying B-side to the single is entitled Accused of Effeminacy. Laurie’s vocals are a lot higher in this track, with him pushing that raw cutting edge voice he has just a bit more than he does in City of Sin. The guitar riff and the rolling drums in the verses match his vocals, which is just Laurie casually talking over the music. The sharp ‘oohs’ which follow give the track an undeniably catchy sound, amplified by the blurred vocals and bass over the sharp drumming. Everything about the Varletts’ music blends together brilliantly; the guitar and bass blur so well together, all brought together by George’s sharp riffs and clever little drum loops. The overall sound of the band is hard to describe, purely because it’s so unique. The blurred blaring guitar lends an ear to alt-rock/ heavy post punk indie, with Laurie’s vocals (particularly on City of Sin) reminiscent to me of artists like Leonard Cohen or October Drift’s Kiran; an unreal sound for a debut single.

The messy amped up sound the band have really stands out, making them a band to watch this year for sure. For more on The Varletts, you can read my exclusive interview with them below.

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Avant-garde and unique; the ‘City of Sin’ single artwork

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

Laurie: There’s me Laurie (I’m lead vocalist and bassist), Matt who is guitarist and backing vocals, and George the drummer. We formed mid-2016 and we’d all been friends for a while and played and written stuff in a previous band and we decided to start something new and take it seriously (well as seriously as you can take it)

How did you come up with the name The Varletts?

Laurie: I came across it whilst reading and I was just drawn to it for some reason, it’s a word that really isn’t used much today and means a ‘dishonest man.’ Then when we were trying to come up with a name I just remembered it and we thought it just worked

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

Matt: We’re based in Nottingham and the local music scene really is awesome. Anyone asked this question would state that their town or city is great, but Nottingham at the moment is just packed full of some really good and unique artists

George: There’s so many venues in  Nottingham too, especially smaller venues like The Maze which are so important to artists just starting out

Laurie: Yeah, it’s such a shame places like that are disappearing

Which artists have influenced you the most?

Laurie: That’s a tough question because I think we all have so many influences. For me I can undoubtedly say The Cribs, but so many other bands like The Wytches and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have really been my newest interests

George: But we also all love Led Zeppelin, I think that for all of us we are completely inspired by the individual musicians in that band

Who’s the dream artist to collaborate with?

Laurie: Again I’m going to have to go with The Cribs, as well as being such great musicians they’ve also self-produced several of their own tracks, so to have something produced alongside them would just be unreal. I know that Matt would definitely go with Green Day though

Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?

Laurie: There are loads, we supported a Notts band before Christmas at The Bodega called Ashfields who we love, as well as this two-piece synth pop band called Cherry Hex and the Dream Church who I like especially because I’m a bit of a stickler for 80s pop- imagine a female singer in Japan

Matt: There’s also a great all-girl punk band called Babe Punch, we’re big fans of the Riot Grrrrl movement in the 90s and having it here in Nottingham is just awesome. Menace Beach are also up there as one of our favourite new bands, as well as Vulgarians from Hull

George: There’s countless more outside of Notts too; Vultures, Unqualified Nurse Band, The Shrives, Cassia, Mint, & SKIN

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The Varletts live

What’s been your favourite album release of the year (2016)?

Laurie: It’s on everyone’s list but I think Blackstar by David Bowie is such a powerful record in the wake of his death, listening to it as a posthumous album makes it so impacting and it makes you view it in a whole new light. I’ve always been in awe of Bowie’s songwriting, and this album is no exception

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

George: For us all growing up around Nottingham our ultimate dream would be to headline Rock City, it’s our biggest local venue with so much history and memories for all of us. It’s just such a great venue, and to play on the same stage as some of our idols to a home crowd would be the dream

What influences your lyrics?

Laurie: It’s a bit of everything really, it can be something from my own experience, something I feel strongly about like in our B-side Accused of Effeminacy, or from something I’ve read- one of our tracks is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I never feel like I have to specially write my lyrics one way, and I don’t ever like to write about something that I don’t feel passionate about, but at the same time I want my lyrics to make other people feel passionate about those things too

How about politics; is that something you’d ever consider writing about?

Laurie: I think that politics is something that some bands either go fully into and all they write about is “fuck this person” and “fuck that person,” or they’re afraid of even touching politics because they feel like it might effect their fan base. For me though I feel like politics doesn’t have to be at the forefront of my writing, but if it falls in at one point or another and it’s there for a reason I don’t see why I wouldn’t write about it. Both the single and the B-side’s lyrics focus on big issues- or at least big issues for me- and although I wouldn’t say they were ‘political issues’ they are social issues which to me are more important than shouting about politics to the wind

For more on The Varletts, you can follow the band on Facebook or Instagram, and check out their music on Spotify, Apple Music or iTunes

Interview with new Brighton rockers Howland

A refreshing burst of indie rock onto the music scene, Howland are the newest band to emerge with an aggressive indie sound and unique edge to them. The Brighton three piece are made up of Tyler, Lee, and Jake, and have a really exciting aura about them. Their music is typical head-banging indie rock, similar to bands like Sundara Karma, Peace and The Amazons, full of catchy blaring guitar riffs and upbeat rhythmic drumming. The guitar is really great, especially on tracks like Callout and Hide. The band have been releasing music since last year, and their name is fast becoming well known. Tyler’s raw gritty vocals (which I especially like on Hide) make their music stand out, with those cleverly intricate riffs and feel good mosh-pit style beats separating their music from other typical indie rock bands. It’s definitely harsher rock, drawing in garage and alternative rock elements; it’s heavy and deep, with a fantastic beat and loud raucous sound which you can really see filling out large venues. Currently unsigned, the band are big enough to have a growing fan base, but still small enough to be playing wild messy shows at smaller, more intimate venues, with a load of upcoming dates in February & March. You can purchase tickets here.

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For more on the band you can read my Q&A with them

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

We’re Howland and we’re a 3-piece. Tyler Adams sings and plays guitar, Lee Vincent plays guitar and Jake Saunders plays drums.

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

We’re from Brighton. I think we all agree that it’s the best music scene going at the moment, down south at least. So many bands coming out of Brighton that are blowing up; Fickle Friends, Demob Happy, Tigercub, High Tyde, The Island Club, The Magic Gang, and loads more. It’s such a creative place to be.

How did you come up with the name Howland?

Honestly we don’t have an interesting story, its just something we came up with and it wasn’t taken so we went with it.

Who’s the dream artist to collaborate with?

Tyler: Probably Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro – he’s written some beautiful songs but we all know he can go crazy. I feel like it’d be incredible just to see him at work in a studio.

Lee: I think as a songwriter, it would be amazing to collaborate with Alex Turner (obviously) just because every song he writes is amazing.

Jake: Definitely The Maccabees, Felix and Hugo made great producers on the last album in their home studio so it would be good to have their creative input.

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

Tyler: For me it was watching bands full stadiums that pushed me into writing. I’d say it’s the stadium/arena fillers like Foals, Biffy and Arctic Monkeys that have had the biggest influence over us.

Lee: Bands like Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy were all big parts of my childhood through my brother and were the ones that inspired me to start playing music.

Jake: Band such as Foo Fighters and The Strokes influenced me to start playing the drums but in terms of creating music other bands like The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, The Maccabees, Royal Blood and many more have influenced us as a group to seek out joining bands and creating music.

Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?

Tyler: Asylums are up there, so are The Hunna, but my favourite band right now is Get Inuit. Too damn catchy. We had the pleasure of playing with them last year too, they’re great.

Lee: I’d say a lot of the Brighton indie scene are all killing it and I’m really into them, Marsicans from Leeds are amazing, Clean Cut Kid (everyone’s heard of them now surely?), Strong Asian Mothers, The Academic, Dead!, Rocky Nti and so many others.

Jake: I like Clean Cut Kid and have been listening to them a lot recently. Supporting them and Fickle Friends at the Joiners in Southampton was cool, they are a really nice bunch of guys (and Gal).

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

Tyler: The 1975’s album for sure, or Twenty One Pilots’ version of Cancer.

Lee: There’s been a few really outstanding albums this year, Blush by Moose Blood, How To Be a Human Being by Glass Animals and I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It by The 1975. The new Circa Waves single is a banger, too.

Jake: Definitely Blossoms’ debut album, also their recently released extended edition has some good tunes that didn’t make the cut for the album.

What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?

Tyler: It’s got to be Wembley, right?

Lee: I think headlining Brixton Academy would be unreal. If I had to pick a festival (apart from Glastonbury) it’d be Truck.

Jake: The dream venue to headline has got to be Brixton Academy just because so many great bands have played there. The dream festival to headline without a doubt is Glastonbury, who wouldn’t say Glastonbury when asked this question let’s be honest.

What influences your lyrics?

Just things that Tyler sees and experiences really, in a very vague sort of way.

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

We’re gonna be putting out new music in 2017 and touring as much as we can. We’re playing a few dates at the start of 2017 including some headlines at The Hope & Ruin in Brighton and The Finsbury in London. We’re also playing in Leeds, Bristol, Hertford and Southampton.

What’s the best gig you’ve been to?

Tyler: Muse in Brighton Dome – seeing a band that big in a small venue (small for them) was sick. That or Biffy Clyro’s Isle Of Wight Headline.

Lee: I saw Catfish and the Bottlemen at Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth just as they released The Balcony and it was insane.

Jake: The best gig I have ever been to has to be Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park in 2014, has to be the most mental gig in terms of the crowd going crazy and the band playing at their best.

For more on Howland you can listen via SoundCloud & Spotify, or check them out on Twitter & Facebook

False Heads’ Luke Griffiths on nuances, politics, & his band’s gritty anti-establishment music

Raw, gritty grunge music has been doing incredibly well over the last year, with the emergence of bands like J.W Paris, October Drift, Fiende Fatale, and new favourites of mine False Heads. The band are made up of Luke Griffiths, Jake Elliott and Barney Nash, and have built up an incredible reputation up and down the UK as one of the most mental, insane live bands out there. With backing from rock giants This Feeling, The Libertines’ Gary Powell (whose record label 25 Hour Convenience Store the band are signed to), and even Iggy Pop who claimed ‘these kids make a lot of noise, I like it,’ sighting his favourite acts as ‘us, Sleaford Mods, and Skepta,’ False Heads are becoming an undeniable force in the industry. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to meet Luke for a couple of hours (and a few drinks) in the heart of Soho, to talk not only about musical influences (notably Calva Louise) and the band’s plans for future gigging and releases, but also about political nuances, ‘fascism with a leftist face,’ religion and his thoughts on the current state of politics in the world.

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False Heads

So to start of with Luke himself as a musician; from East London (with Barney from East Ham and Jake from East London), Luke tells me the local music scene growing up was basically ‘non-existent’ full of ‘Libertines rip-offs, pop punk, and metal.’ ‘All the bands are fucking shit,’ and the idea of a local music scene is ‘non-existent unless you fit into that crowd.’ Essex itself, where Luke lives near (in the more ‘middle class’ area) is pretty much ‘full of cunts.’ In terms of the name False Heads (which a mate described to me as a ‘fucking cool name’), Luke had ‘wrote a load of names down’ and misread the name ‘Falsehood’ as ‘False Heads.’ The band have been around for a few years now, with Luke (now aged 23) having wanted to be in a band since the age of 15. And their music honestly has one of the best sounds I’ve heard in years. It’s so deep and raw, with a raucous DIY punk-grunge sound to it, which really reminds me of bands like Nirvana and Pulled Apart By Horses. Weigh In, Thick Skin and All Eyes are favourites of mine, with Slew being one of the best tracks I’ve heard in years, with the most brilliantly heavy killer riff opening up the track. Me and Luke spoke about his favourite current bands, with him citing punk three-piece Calva Louise immediately as ‘fucking amazing.’ The bands met in Bristol, and ‘someone had a bottle of whiskey and we got really drunk with them’ Luke tells me; since then ‘we’ve just stayed really good friends.’ ‘I think they’re the best new band, and if they don’t make it it’s a travesty.’

‘Calva Louise are fucking amazing’

John Lennon, early Muse, and Radiohead are also cited as influences over Luke, with Radiohead being one of the other bands he got into aged 16 alongside Nirvana, despite not being into ‘karma or any of that bollocks.’ At around 11, Eminem was a ‘pretty powerful force,’ and the ‘last great popular pop culture icon’ for Luke; ‘I’m not saying I agree with him…but anti-establishment, as a kid that’s what you want.’ His ‘terrible childhood,’ with a lot of his lyrics being ‘shock value’ drew Luke in, with him still being a fan of ‘Eminem and hip hop.’ The Beatles and Bob Dylan were also mentioned, with Luke telling me how he ‘wanted to listen to music, watch films, read books…it just completely blew my mind you could get that response from music.’ On the subject of Nirvana, Luke refers to Nevermind as the most influential album, admitting they ‘kinda did change my life.’ He used to listen to the album through the TV when his parents were out, and was ‘obsessed with music from that day on.’ On the subject of US grunge, ‘some of it is quite shit’ he laughs, but Smashing Pumpkins?- ‘they were fucking great.’ Luke describes Nirvana as a ‘musical force that was heavy and angry but vulnerable and sensitive at the same time,’ with Radiohead being the ‘second band I fell in love with.’

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Luke on stage

The raw DIY nature of False Heads came across throughout the interview too, with Luke discussing how ‘natural growth is better,’ as ‘it took me 5 years to be in a band properly.’ ‘Everything we’ve done we’ve worked so hard for, and I’ve never had a hand out ever- I’m proud of it.’ There’s a very real blunt openness to the band, something Luke seems to respect in other musicians too; like Bowie, ‘you could have a pint with him.’ Speaking again about Calva Louise, Luke exclaims ‘they should be the biggest band in the world-and they’re not?!’ ‘It’s fairly clear that guitar music is back in though’ he argues; ‘I don’t believe people can get the same emotional resonance with fucking One Direction or Beyoncé.’ ‘But there is obviously a group of people that are sick and tired of the shit they are being force fed’ which would explain the appeal False Heads have; ‘we fucking love it’ Luke tells me. ‘The energy on stage is not manufactured, that’s is us!’ ‘I make sure people know how grateful we are’ Luke tells me, and ‘I never compromise our music to satisfy people.’ Growing up, the bands Luke related to ‘weren’t cardboard cut out rock stars,’ and this applies to the whole band. Jake was influenced by Muse and Oasis, and Luke really by Nirvana and Eminem. As mentioned earlier, Luke re-emphasises the impact Eminem had on him; ‘he didn’t give a fuck and did everything on his own terms.’

Catfish and The Bottlemen come up in conversation too, being cheekily referred to by Luke as a ‘slightly heavy McFly. Fuck me, where’s the imagery gone, the poetic melody and beauty that makes you feel something?!’ And although I do love Catfish and The Bottlemen, what he says is true- there does seem to be a grit and overall raw energy lacking in mainstream rock right now; but maybe False Heads are going to be the ones to fill this gap? ‘Indie music is more of the enemy’ according to Luke, and he could ‘see an indie band being the top of the Spotify viral chart.’ On the subject of Spotify though, which has stirred controversy recently over its failure to pay small bands well enough, Luke admits ‘it is a great way of discovering music to be honest; I don’t think it’s the enemy of the industry.’ This leads us on to talk about the music industry as whole, which Luke describes as ‘so cliquey, sometimes you feel like you don’t belong there…to be everywhere, you just wonder how real that world is.’ But that industry and the band’s ever-growing centralised dominance in it is becoming even stronger, with backing from major radio stations, like BBC Radio One and Radio X, as well as promoters This Feeling (who ‘do care about the bands and the music’, with the band’s set supporting Trampolene in November almost like a reward for them) and Scruff Of The Neck (who are ‘brilliant, fucking good…good indie promoters to get on board with.) ‘A year and a bit ago,’ 25 Hour Convenience Store (who are owned by Libertines drummer Gary Powell) got in touch and ‘called up Barney out of the blue’. The band sadly isn’t a full time thing for the lads though, with Luke working in office admin for his dad’s company, Barney working as a chef, and Jake in a pub; ‘it’s annoying ‘cause the band is pretty much full time- a full time job and a part time job…that’s what it’s like.’ In terms of how the band operate when it comes to writing, Luke writes the ‘bulk of it and the lyrics’, with ‘a lot of different stuff’ acting as influences; admittedly he says, it is ‘quite sarcastic’ as ‘it’s hard to write about happy stuff- it’s either angry, depressed, or taking the piss.’ ‘I don’t want to sound like a fucking emo, but you feel like you don’t fit in.’

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‘The way the world is at the minute…I struggle to get on board with politics’ he tells me. ‘I never hold back from my opinion, but don’t think you need overtly political lyrics’ as you touch people more so from the ‘image you conjure up.’ That’s what Luke loves so much about Kurt Cobain; ‘you got that without him having to say it.’ On the subject of political lyrics, we talk about VANT (on the mention of them Luke’s response is ‘VANT-it’s like fuck off!’), a band who have never shied away from their boldly left wing anti-Trump anti-Brexit political views. Following the Brexit vote, VANT played Glastonbury festival with Mattie bluntly demanding the crowd ‘if anyone voted leave here, fuck off. Get the fuck out my tent.’ ‘That fucked me off so much’ Luke told me, and ‘I voted to stay in- mainly for freedom of movement and the economy.’ But whilst many voted leave due to ‘bigotry and ignorant reasons…many didn’t.’ And on what Mattie said, ‘that’s such a damaging viewpoint to have!’ ‘You get fucking lynched online, and that’s a really bad thing’ he says, with his views on ‘left wing’ politics clear; ‘I don’t think that’s what leftist politics should be, using right wing tactics.’ ‘I get so angry with that!’ he proclaims, claiming politics right now seems to be ‘moronic right wing people and moronic left wing people.’ ‘The grey mater- like the nitty gritty- is gone’ even though ‘right wing politics has always been black and white, historically speaking, politically speaking.’ On the left wing, ‘they’re worker’s people’ Luke insists, ‘the left represent more nuance and being able to debate. It’s worrying the left now see things in black and white…I find it terrifying.’ Nuance and political correctness and censorship is something Luke was eager to talk about too; ‘what is worrying is how OK these people are with censoring people’ and ‘it seems like a lot of Corbyn supporters are OK with that.’ On the PC nature of rock music, ‘if you’re inciting violence, that’s wrong, but what’s wrong with taking the piss?’ Speaking of the left and the majority of Corbyn supporters, ‘that’s a dangerous thing when you define someone by what they believe,’ and the left are ‘just as fucking stupid.’ On the disenfranchisement of the left, ‘how do they not see that?’ he exclaims. And regarding the rise in right wing politics right now, ‘I don’t think the state of the left is equipped to deal with it.’

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False Heads live

‘It’s not just to be said about religion- it’s social issues, political issues… news sources seem to be completely OK with it, the click-bait is fucking disgusting.’ Luke himself was actually ‘brought up in quite a right wing family’ which ‘didn’t go down that well’; ‘certain members moan about immigration, that boring shit, some members are religious.’ The clear divide between these opinions and Luke’s own ideologies to me are what makes the bitter sound of the band’s music so strong and intense. ‘Patriotism is bollocks’ too according to Luke: ‘I got to 16, and thought “that’s absolute bollocks, you’re proud of your country?”’ On the subject of the American election, ‘I thought Sanders had a better chance than Clinton’ but ‘she didn’t get in because she was a terrible candidate.’ But on Trump, ‘how can you lose to that?’ Luke does understand why Trump was able to win though- ‘Clinton came across as a robot, a robot woman, and Trump was a fucking ape-man…but you’re closer to an ape than you are a robot.’ Discussing Trump’s victory (winning 306 votes in the Electoral College compared to Clinton’s 232), the ‘left haven’t understood why- I find it scary. He won states that voted for Obama, that is scary! I mean, what the fuck is going on?’ But despite this, of course Luke wants the left to do well, ‘I do want it to.’ ‘Everything’s so blurred now, this should be a good thing but it isn’t.’ We talked about how blurred politics can be good though, like David Cameron legalising gay marriage ‘without much opposition.’  On America however, it’s just ‘full of red neck Republicans, an absolute mess’ Luke argues.

‘If I had a gun to my head I’d vote Corbyn…couldn’t vote Tory’

The concept of argument and debate is a good thing to Luke; ‘debate? I love it. I don’t know why it’s wrong.’ Luke is a really intelligent person, who’s clearly well-read and informed and educated on politics and religion; ‘I’ve studied Christianity, I’ve studied Islam’ he tells me, ‘and I don’t agree with banning things you don’t like, even if you find it offensive.’ On the burqa, ‘I don’t think that [banning it] puts across a good message,’ and as for Angela Merkel, ‘you’re an idiot, you shouldn’t ban the burqa.’ ‘I don’t know why people can’t talk about certain issues anymore, it’s bemusing. I mean, banning something ‘cause of religion is fucking retarded, but the left hand it over to them.’ ‘It’s very easy to call someone a bigot,’ but once you use those terms against the right ‘in their heads they’ve won the argument.’ Back on the subject of debate and political partisanship, ‘chill out is the wrong phrase because these are serious issues which need to be talked about, but they need to be willing to talk and debate.’ On debate, ‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.’

‘I find it so depressing the state of politics, I literally can’t see a way back.’

It all comes back fundamentally to the state of the left Luke argues, the problem being ‘Trump, the rising right wing in Europe, and the Left’s refusal to realise they’re building their own coffin.’ And on the issue of political correctness, ‘offence is taken not given’ Luke insists. ‘I don’t see what’s wrong with offending people- who wants to live in a boring world? Why do people run away from conflict? I don’t get the rules.’ The hypocrisy and duplicity in society seems to piss Luke off too, especially around women; ‘slut shaming is bad, but promoting sexuality is bad??’ ‘Women who are attacked for sleeping around? Like fuck off, whose business is that? Slut shaming is fucking wrong.’ But ‘people love labels now don’t they?’ Luke tells me people are ‘more fascinated now by labels, more obsessed with cultural appropriation.’ It’s ‘almost thought crime’ he insists, basically ‘fascism with a leftist face.’ On celebrity culture and cultural appropriation, ‘all this shit’s going on in the world and we’re talking about this? This is what we’re talking about again, really? Who fucking cares, why do we care?’ To Luke, cultural appropriation/ appreciation is more so ‘that’s a really cool part of the culture, I’d like to take part in it.’ You ‘see something on it once a week’ in the mainstream news, ‘isn’t that dividing people more? I find it so silly.’ ‘There’s so much shit going on and they’re worrying about some stupid celebrity braiding their hair.’ The fact that the news buy into this and report it is ‘definitely worse.’ This leads us on to talk about respect, all coming back to the idea of censorship and our discussion on banning the burqa. ‘I don’t really get respect’ Luke tells me, ‘to me everyone has a physical respect. I deserve respect, I don’t deserve to be physically hurt. But respect for ideas should be earned, that’s the way I’ve always seen the world.’ ‘Why is automatically respecting what people say or believe in a good thing? You end up with no one being able to actually say anything, I fucking hate it. I hate the idea of “you should respect that” I think it’s fucking nonsense. I don’t want people to automatically respect what I’ve got to say, I want to earn it.’

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Luke at Water Rats, 5.11.2016

And this ethos was clear throughout the interview- Luke is such a great guy it was more like hanging out with a mate than doing an interview. False Heads have really excited me, quickly developing in to a favourite band of mine since the first time I heard them back in November. In terms of upcoming releases, the band will be releasing an EP in March alongside lead single TwentyNothing (which I’ve already been fortunate enough to have a listen to, and it’s fucking intense.) Their music is so raw and blunt, with sarcastic cynicism cropping up in their lyrics; it’s just really heavy classic grunge rock, with a nasty bite to it. In terms of live dates (and to me, it’s live where False Heads really excel), you can catch them at Proud Camden on January 21st at part of the Camden Rocks festival, with tickets available here.

The band also feature on my ‘Bands to Watch in 2017’ post, with a gig review of their Water Rats show from November up here

You can listen to False Heads’ killer tracks via Spotify, iTunes & SoundCloud, or check the band out on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter

“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.

Interview with Sisteray guitarist Daniel Connolly

There’s a very Britpop post-punk sound to the band, similar to early Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines; what bands have influenced you growing up, and who are the big musical influences on the band?

I personally can’t stand Britpop. I think we have this nauseated, delusional memory of the past sometimes. Some of it was alright… I like a lot of Pulp’s stuff; the first Oasis album made a credible punk noise but there was an awful lot of average bands in that era.

I can see why people ‘might’ compare us to early Arctic Monkeys, with our, I don’t know, tend of observation but we’re far too cockney and growly to be seen as similar. Especially if you see us live, you’re much more likely to hear the bled of Sonic Youth than Arctic Monkeys. Similarly with The Libs… I’ve also been professed to be a fan of the boys and our live shows and spontaneity can be compared but we take a far too political stand-point to be that closely aligned.

 As you can tell, I love comparisons

Tell me about working with promoters This Feeling, and your Welcome To The Monkey House nights

Nowadays, there are very few people that deserve to be credited with the title of ‘promoter’, which you learn after a while of being on the circuit but Mikey Johns and his This Feeling family deserve knighthoods for what they do for new bands

Our Welcome to the Monkey House night came about due to the frustration of limitations of working with promoters. We’ve aimed to create a family of bands and DJs that work as hard for us as we do them. The night is centred around vibe. Great bands, great DJs… everyone gets paid! Most nights have sold out and we’re now on to night number 7.

What’s your dream festival/ venue to headline?

Somewhere random like a warehouse… we haven’t done a warehouse yet. Would be fun to destroy

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Dan live on stage (photo by Daniel Quesada)

As a band based in London where the music scene is so lively, what’s the local scene like for you?

 London’s odd because it’s so big, it’s not easy to be a local band, which is great in a way because it’s so diverse.  Each night is different. Some crowds are moshier than others… I guess you never know what to expect

Who are your favourite current bands?

Cabbage, BlackWaters, Moses, Wonk Unit

When and how did you get into rock music, and how old were you when you started to play guitar?

My old man bought me Paul Weller’s Stanley Road when I was wee. That got me hooked. Amazing sounds on that album. I taught myself guitar when I was 16 and the local pub started IDing and I had nothing better to do.

Tell me about Sisteray; how and when did you form, and where’s the name from?

We started jamming together maybe two years ago. We came together out of our mutual love for live music more than anything. The name is taken from a Velvet Underground tune; Sister Ray (slightly different spelling). The song’s a mad 25 minute jam!

I’ve seen your ‘FUCK AUSTERITY’ guitar (absolutely love that!)- is the current state of politics an influence over your music in any way/ is it something you’d write about?

It’s the main driving force for the band. We’re from working-class backgrounds and it austerity has a strong effect on us and the people close to us. We write about our circumstances so it’s a running theme

What’s the best gig you’ve played as a band, and what’s your personal best gig you’ve been to?

I struggle to remember them, they go like a flash. Our Welcome to the Monkey House show at The Black Heart ended up in a stage invasion (and £300 worth of gear). Camden Rocks was another crazy affair.

I saw Fat White Family for the first time at The Cornet this year… this was an all-out debauched affair.

If you could pick one album as a stand out influence on your life and music, what would it be?

Nirvana – Bleach. Proved you can do big things with a tiny budget

Who would be your dream artist to record with or perform with?

Bowie. Can’t happen sadly

What plans have the band got in terms of future gigs and music releases?

Keeping cards close to our chest on this question

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Sisteray: (L to R) Niall Rowan, Michael Hanrahan, Daniel Connolly & Marco Biagini (photo by Alberto Pezzali)