Category Archives: Interviews

[INTERVIEW] ASTRAL LYNX

Just last week I was in the studio with Astral Lynx, a psychedelic rock trio based in London to discuss a few things including Brick Lane Psych Fest and new music.

There’s Julian Millership on lead guitar and vocals, Matt Sullivan also on guitar and Dean Cass on drums. “Various other things as well,” Julian continues, “There’s percussion, keys…”

“These two play a bit of bass on a lot of the recordings as well,” Matt adds. Julian is labelled as the traditional lead guitarist, with a “Hendrix sort of vibe” as Matt explains, “I’m more interested in the noise aspects of it I guess, like Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead or Nick McCabe from the Verve.”

“Yeah your style is geared towards creating that atmospheric layer” agrees Julian.

The group first got together in Australia, 2008 when Julian and Dean were out on their two-year visas. “I wont say early formation of this band – it was a different band, but yeah we recruited Matt for that band and when we got back to London we moved into this formation.”

Previously going by the name Moon, the band had transformed to the inventive title Astral Lynx, so I asked what sparked the name change. “We’ve changed the name each time there’s been a massive change to the band,” Matt replies, “We had a singer in the early years, and when he left it was like okay let’s change the name because we’ve got an entire new thing. Then we had a bass player with us for a couple of years, and when he left we thought right it’s time to shift again.”

“When we were Moon, we had a woman who wanted to manage us but she totally blanked us. She said, look, Moon isn’t getting you anywhere,” Julian says, “I had a conversation with someone where I worked at Hackney Downs, there was Moshi Moshi Records and I had a conversation with one of the guys and he said “we can’t find you guys online anywhere; there’s so much moon stuff”, so we decided to change the name. We sat down and tried to formulate a name that we thought would work and Astral Lynx just came out of the blue and I don’t know… I don’t even think we all decided on it, it just stuck.”

As for the meaning behind it, the bands previous logo as you may call it was described as a “cats face on trees”, with Julian adding “I seem to remember Dean saying that we had to keep the space cat.”

But that’s not all, as Matt shares another interesting story. “We said that we’ll sit on it for a couple of days – to see if we still like it.” He leans in, “And the next day, I was looking at BBC news online. It said that they were releasing lynx’s back into the wild in Britain, so I was like… that’s a sign!”

The three members have all grown up in a very musical environment. For Julian, it’s ever since he was a baby. “My dad’s a full-on hippy. But not really a chilled hippy he’s an intense hippy”, he laughs, “ever since I was a baby, he used to have weekly jams, and that was in his flat so all these crazy people used to come round and sit and improvise. So all the improvisation, I believe comes from being involved in these fucking mad, drug fuelled jams. My dad still does them every Wednesday.”

Matt’s mum taught music and has a sister that takes part in orchestras. As for Dean, “I don’t have any musicians in my family, but all of them are really into music, being whatever kind of music that would be. So growing up I was always around a lot of music… just not musicians.”

“We’re on to writing some new stuff,” Julian shares, “We’re really just taking our time with it at the moment, we’ve been pushing it so hard for so many years now, it’s nice to step back and take our time with it. There’s definitely stuff in the pipeline, it’s just coming slowly.”

The bands debut Flow that was released in 2015 delivers sounds that are a mixture between Pink Floyd and Queens of the Stone Age, but having Julian said they’ve moved on from that, I asked what new elements we can look forward to with new material. “I feel like that album was a little bit contrived because a lot of it was compiled from old material. I think what we’re trying to aim for now is to just have stuff that isn’t over-thought, stuff that isn’t going backwards and forwards from the writing process. Just write it. Record it. Leave it.”

Matt then adds, “Our sound moves around quite a lot, we do some really soft, quite melodic stuff right through to some really heavy, bluesy, and almost, not quite as far metal but back from that, where its got those Queens of the Stone Age rock grooves to it. Then there’s also some really spacey stuff, so it’s really broad. We don’t really write songs outside of the studio; it all just comes from jams.”

“Our genre has got to be momentary. It’s everything in a moment. So whatever happens in that moment, that is what our genre is.”

According to Julian, the biggest problem they’ve had to overcome is each other, he says while laughing. “But personalities as well you know? It’s such a heavy marriage, when you’re in a band for this long and its such a personal thing, getting over each others idiosyncrasies and the way everyone reacts to different things. That’s the most difficult part of being in a band.”

Last summer the band played many gigs and some festivals including Hackney Wonderland. But their favourite was Brick Lane Psych Fest, one they had set up and organised themselves. “We were up in Manchester at Cosmosis festival, we had finished the album, and we thought fuck it, why don’t we put on our own festival rather than just do an album launch and make a thing out of it?” Matt says, “So, we got a venue, we got six bands, DJs, market stalls, the whole shebang. It was crazy actually – we had to turn about 15/20 bands away who wanted to play. There’s not that many psych festivals in London, there’s a few in like Manchester and Liverpool, so we put one on and it went really well.”

It was a success as the event was had sold out, “But it was really hard work though,” Julian adds, “‘Cause we did everything ourselves, we underestimated how exhausting it would be, spending the entire day setting up and then playing the headline slot, then packing everything down. We got back at like four in the morning.”

For a band that has not long released their first album, and with most music now being available to stream online for free, I asked if they found it difficult getting themselves on the market. “When we got here we did everything the traditional way. We used local promoters and played hundreds of gigs, but it was just shit. The promoters are just trying to rip you off and the whole traditional method is just geared up to rip money off bands. So we decided a couple years ago to do it our own way, doing less gigs but hosting our own shows – we get a much better response.”

With that said, my final question was for the future of Astral Lynx. Matt replies, “I think for this year the plan is to put a couple recordings out. We wanna get back into gigging over the summer, our bass player left just at the end of last year, so we’ll just continue as a three-piece, the writing’s mostly been between us three anyway.”

Julian then adds, “Yeah I think the gigs will definitely more often than not be ones we put on ourselves. We gotta get back into it a little bit really, this has been our first moment in ten years where we’ve just put everything down. We haven’t been in the studio much but when we have its been really cool. I can see a lot of stuff happening.”

(Written by Sharna Barber)

[INTERVIEW] THE GOSPEL YOUTH

It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in the UK pop punk scene. With acts such as Neck Deep, As It Is and Boston Manor occupying centre stage, it’s going to take something really special to stand out amongst the crowd. However, the one band who seem to be doing all the right things this year comes in the form of Brighton five-piece The Gospel Youth. Having recently signed to Rise Records after an impressive year-long singles series, the band are currently on the final night of their UK tour with pop punkers Seaway, WSTR and Tigress. The Gospel Youth head into the studio over the next few months to record their forthcoming debut album Tired Eyes And Heavy Hearts Always Lose, so I caught up with them to discuss what’s in store for 2017.
“We only formed two years ago,” says frontman Sam Little. “Almost everyone is in a band nowadays – if they’re not, they’re trying to become the next viral sensation. But coming from different bands in the past, we’ve earned our stripes.” Originally only intending to release one song, the band eventually progressed into something much more important to vocalist. “Jules [Bowen, guitarist] and I wanted to work together and when he showed me the song ‘Kids’, I instantly loved it. We recorded it and thought that would be it, but we just wanted to make music.” Referring to Jules as the ‘spine of the band’ (and other members as various body parts), Sam adds, “We all come from an eclectic background, so everything kind of fits together and works for us.”
Since their formation, The Gospel Youth’s line-up has changed significantly – firstly with the departure of drummer Max Wingwell, and later with the addition of bassist Tom Aylott and now-drummer Kurtis Maiden. “Max couldn’t commit the way that we wanted him to commit to the band,” explains Sam. “We’re still good friends and he’s making some really good music, but there was a show that Max was supposed to play and couldn’t. We were touring with Midday Committee who Kurtis was drumming for at the time, and after seeing him play, we just thought that he had to drum for us.” Eventually, The Gospel Youth opted to become a five-piece (with original guitarist Kevin Deverick taking the fifth place), changing up their individual roles and finding a much better dynamic within the team. Despite honing their sound over the last two years and determining what works best for them however, the band haven’t quite come to terms with the positive feedback they’ve received from fans. “It’s always a bit of a shock when we get a good reaction to something, it does still feel like we’re new.”
Addressing the 2016 singles series, I was curious about the band’s decision to take the Crowdfunding approach. “It wasn’t necessarily the route we wanted,” Sam explains. “It was based around the fans. We wanted to give something back to the people that cared. Some people will only listen to a band on Spotify or something. Some people get involved in everything that the band does and we wanted to make sure those people got what they deserve.” From a professional point of view, the band claim while they feel that they haven’t accomplished anything, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “It was the band equivalent of taking a gap year and finding ourselves. You can kind of listen to each song and tell where we were as people that month. It’s helped us to figure out what we want to do.”
On the decision to sign with Rise Records at the end of 2016, Sam says, “We sent around a few different track listings of stuff that we’d done, but we wanted the right team behind us. When we spoke to Rise they were instantly like family to us.” Aiming to release their forthcoming debut in July 2017, The Gospel Youth intend to stick with the relatable lyrical content that fans have come to adore, this time throwing a positive spin on things. “It’s a bit more hopeful. We decided to call it Tired Eyes And Heavy Hearts Always Lose because the idea behind it is that if you’re tired and sad all the time, you’re not going to get as far just look at everything with a positive attitude. Although there’s one previous song that means a lot to all of us, as soon as we wrote it we all agreed that we wanted it on the album, so it’s making a comeback.”
As self-proclaimed ‘honorary Sad Club members’, the band’s lyrics take an alternative approach from the teen-angst tendencies of many pop punk outfits, instead choosing to address themes of emotional hardships and the severity of depression and anxiety. Fusing this idea with the upbeat nature of the pop punk genre, their music ultimately enables the band to engage their listeners through honest and relatable material. “Over time I realised how much of a platform I actually have,” claims Sam. “I just want people to realise they you’re not along when you go through this stuff. You have to take each day as it comes. Without sounding cliché, we’re just sad. We’ve all got our problems, and we’ve had to deal with stuff like that, so if we can help people, then we’ll do it.”
“People find solidarity in music. I know people have access to the internet these days, but stuff like this can get lost amidst videos of cats and dabbing and stuff,” Sam laughs. “It’s not our main focus, but it’s important to me that people are aware of these things. We’re not out to stand on the roof and shout a message about how life gets better and it’s gonna be okay, because you don’t always feel like that. We just want people to know that no matter how you feel, it’s normal.” Of course, addressing such intense topics does weigh heavy on the heart. “’Hospital Blues’ [written about the death of Sam’s sister] was difficult. We played it live a few times and it broke me. I took a big step in releasing ‘Hurricane’ too, there’s a lot of honesty in those lyrics. It’s always a concern when you release a song that people are actually gonna hear it and you’re putting yourself on display.”

But for a band like The Gospel Youth, they wouldn’t have it any other way. “None of us are really nine to five people. We’ve always had an inkling that we want to do something more than work in an office. If we weren’t making music, we’d still be doing something creative – Kev’s a guitar teacher when he’s not in the band, and Jules would still be recording. I’d probably be in an alley somewhere singing to make money or something” Sam laughs. The Gospel Youth will play Dorset’s Teddy Rocks festival at the end of April to help fight against children’s cancer, alongside bands such as Twin Atlantic, Blood Youth and Scouting for Girls. The pop punk five-piece have also hinted at a few upcoming announcements that they claim will definitely shock fans, but refuse to give away any specific details. “Keep your ears to the ground. 2017 is going to a lot of fun and we’re going to do our best to get as many people involved as possible.”
Words by Kelly Ronaldson

[INTERVIEW] RAIN MAZE

Last week I caught up with Amol, Sami and Daisy from London’s dreamiest of dream pop bands Rain Maze – just to see what they were all about and how it started.

From what age did you want to be in band? Was it something you always dreamt of?

Amol: I started writing songs and playing them live with pals in high school and it was jolly good fun and then I realised it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; write music and have fun doing wicked sick shows.

Sami: Nope; growing up there was barely any music in my life, but that was until I reached about 11-12, so I’m not even sure if the time before that counts; does sentience come with age? Even then, I only wanted to be in a band since I was 14, which is when I picked up the drums, (the only instrument where I knew what noise each element makes. People who play anything else astound me).

Daisy: Alex James’ bio changed my life.

Why the name Rain Maze?

Amol: Story time! Ever notice how when it rains the raindrops all sit randomly on a windowpane and each raindrop represents one of our tiny little lives and if you follow a raindrop it hits other raindrops and it sticks to some and moves away from others all the while continually working its way through the eternal maze of raindrops? Yeah. That.

Are you working on any new material right now? If so what can we expect from it?

Amol: We most certainly are, you can expect us to completely and totally embrace the pop direction of dream pop we are heading towards. At the time of writing, we are actually planning a complete rehaul/rebrand so this is a real exclusive scoop you got here.

What gear are you currently using? And what’s one piece of equipment you couldn’t work without?

Amol: I’ve actually just bought a new guitar and she is a real beauty, a sea blue Reverend and oh my god I love her. I’m broke as fuck so my pedals are quite budget but they do the job so.

Daisy: I have a Vox Phantom bass that came from Paris and is also probably my one true love in life.

Sami: A hi-hat clutch can make or break a show.

How do you guys work in the studio? For example, do you record drums first, then guitar etc. or everything at once?

Daisy: It’s a pretty standard method with stuff we’ve been doing lately, Amol comes with the demo and then we record real drums based on that, then do overdubs of the bass, many guitars, synths and various other fun stuff afterwards, and then no doubt throw a ton of beautiful weird effects over the top of everything (we haven’t got to that bit yet).

Are you planning to tour anytime soon? And will you be playing any new venues around the UK?

Amol: We definitely are looking at our first UK tour this year, and will be trying to hit venues all over the gaff. Our one show outside of London in Brighton was so lovely, we love going abroad.

If you could play any city in the world, where would it be and why?

Amol: I just really wanna play a show on a nice beach to an audience of puppies and seals. Failing that, America (the city).

Daisy: An audience of dogs in Labrador (also well known Canadian city).

Sami: Ideally I’d like to try out London. I’ve never played there, and I’ve heard it’s got a little known musical history I’d be happy to explore.

And finally, what music are you listening to at the moment? Any recommendations?

Amol: The new Bonobo album is flames. Listen to Night Moves too. What a band. Quickly glancing at my Spotify, add Ariel Pink and Red House Painters to that list too. Eternal.

Daisy: The new Brian Eno and Suede records are on another plane, and also lots of Wham! – balance is key.

Sami: Neil fuckin’ Sedaka, Growlers, The Moons, Guantanamo Baywatch and generally anything that makes me get loose. Recommendations would be Nino Ferrer, Jacques Dutronc, Georges Brassens. All French, all slick. Get on it.

Words by Sharna Barber

[INTERVIEW] GETTING UP CLOSE WITH GRYMM

Grymm are a Brighton-based ambient and grunge fusion of fuzzed guitars, reverb and compelling vocal hooks that will take you on an enigmatic journey through each song they provide.

I sat down with Morgan, guitarist and vocalist, and Andrew, bassist, before their gig in Brighton, all of us perching on stools of slightly different heights in the dusty upstairs of The Prince Albert. As I explained I would just be asking a few questions, Andrew chewed enthusiastically on a Sainsbury’s cookie.

So, how are you both feeling today?

Morgan: That’s a difficult question, would you like to elaborate? Feeling about the world? Within myself? About politics?

(laughing) Just today, within yourself, what’s the general feeling?

Morgan: Yeah, it’s decent

Andrew: Pretty decent

Good, good. So, in terms of your sound, from seeing you live you seem to have an interesting mix of grunge and ambient sounds (at which they nod at each other and high five), is that the sound you were aiming for when you formed?

(both shake their heads dramatically)

Morgan: No, fuck no! Our first rehearsal was us covering Get Lucky. Have you heard the Daughter cover of it?

No I haven’t actually

So Daughter did a cover of Get Lucky by Daft Punk, we then did a cover of that cover, so we started with that and then made it into kind of funky, Foals type thing and I made a new guitar part for it which made it kind of heavy.

Andrew: But it’s been a long time, it’s been about 3 years since we started so inevitably there’s gonna be a change.

On your Facebook page you listed Daughter as one of your influences along with Nirvana and Radiohead, do you feel like you’ve got any more recent influences?

Morgan: Like fuck tons. We’ve said this before, the music we listen to at home is obviously all the old bands, like Nirvana, The Wytches, Tigercub, Rage Against the Machine; heavy shit, but we’ve kind of veered away from that and now the stuff that we share with each other is more electronic and weird, stuff that we find really interesting and Andrew’s getting into Hip-Hop as well.

Andrew: Hip-Hop and also funk music, I’ve always listened to a lot of funk music so that appears in our songs as well.

You can hear a lot of mixed styles in your music

Morgan: Not all of it’s intentional (laughs). Like ‘Dream of You’’s got a funky bassline and I didn’t realise it was funky until Andrew played it on his acoustic bass in his bedroom and I was like, shit, that’s so funky!

Nice. You also listed one of your band’s interests as ‘getting mental on bee stings’, was there any particular event that prompted that?

Andrew: Well when I was in year five I was one a coach and I got stung by a bee and it was right at the start of the trip so I had to suffer for the rest of it, that was pretty mental.

(Laughs)

Morgan: Yeah, one time I was going to watch a film in Chichester with my family and had a really itchy hand, went to close it and it was a wasp. It stung me twice like it was saying ‘that one’s for squishing me, and that one’s just cos I’m quite a ballsy wasp’ and the rest of the film was ruined.

Sounds pretty traumatic. I remember you guys used to perform as ‘Deadweight’ until late 2015, what prompted the name change?

Morgan: Well Deadweight was the stuff that we were doing like ‘Get Lucky’ and funk and pop-punk -God help me- and it was basically because-

Andrew: We changed our drummer.

Morgan: Yeah and also Deadweight was the name because we were like ‘oh we’re a heavy band’ so I went on Google and searched ‘other names for heavy’ and found Deadweight. Then I started talking to promoters and they thought we were this other metal band with the same name and we were like right, okay we need to change it because we were getting mixed up with other people.

Andrew: We had a gig at Brighton Dome in November that year and beforehand decided we wanted to change the name.

Your music sounds as if it’s really developed since then, how do you think your new single ‘OCD’ has been received?

Morgan: Pretty well received considering it’s like a 3 year old song which I wrote on my Dad’s acoustic guitar thinking ‘it sounded like Biffy Clyro. I’ve actually got the first recording at home and there’s like 3 extra verses and a weird chromatic downbeat that sounds really jazzy. It’s changed so much over the 3 years and it’s really nice that it reminds us of our beginnings and that our beginnings are getting such a good feedback.

Andrew: ‘OCD’ was one of the first, and then you move down the line a bit and you get ‘Jurassic’, and then you move on a bit more to the end of 2015 just before we replaced the drummer and we wrote ‘Dream of You’ and you can see that in that year ‘OCD’ changed from quite a relaxed, laid back song to a kind of ‘let’s go all ham’. ‘Dream of You’ also really shows our progress because it’s more intellectual as a song, it’s got a more interesting structure.

If you don’t mind me asking, was the title ‘OCD’ inspired by any real life experience?

Morgan: I have pretty bad OCD, but I didn’t know it at the time when I wrote the song. I was in a little relationship type thing with someone and the song was kind of based around the fact that, especially at that age when you’re a teenager, people always complain about themselves like ‘oh there’s so much wrong with me’ and what gets irritating is the fact that you know, I like you the way you are. Then came along the idea of OCD where people don’t want anything moved or changed and it was kind of a non cheesy way of saying ‘You’re perfect the way you are.’ without uttering those disgusting words.

Later on I began realising that I had it and Andrew looked up the cycle of OCD and it is literally the song.

Andrew: Yeah you can look up the cycle and it’s like ‘obsession’, ‘denial’ and so on and you can take the lyrics and apply them to each part of the cycle which was completely unknown to Morgan at the time.

Wow that’s crazy, so interesting. So is there any recording plans in the near future?

Andrew: We hope so, we’re very close to recording again.

That’s all the questions I have, thank you so much guys.

Morgan: Awesome, thank you for interviewing us!

Words by Oshen Dee

 

[INTERVIEW]

On Thursday 19th January I was joined by the ambitious Laurie Wright. Frontman of rock band, The Lodgers. The interview was held at a pub called The Cricketers in Kingston. The venue was accompanied with what appeared to be locals swigging on pints of Stella, and prancing around to extremely loud brit pop.

The Lodgers are an emerging Rock N Roll band, based in the center of Kingston. The boys have received a great amount of media support. Including that of BBC Introducing.

In the background was the noisy discussion of two Labour supporters arguing about the governments need to reconsider equal pay. Laurie appeared to be fine by the noise level, as he continued to raise his voice “well, I was living at Jack’s house, he’s my songwriting partner and we were looking for a name and we have a song called the ‘Artful Lodger’, and I was like we can’t call ourselves the artful lodgers and then he was just like well you’re living here so why don’t you just call yourselves ‘The lodgers”. He says with a slight chuckle at the irony of his friend’s suggestion.

Still laughing at the irony of the settlement of the band’s name, Laurie continued whilst running his fingers through the tip of his hair. “Being able to tour, and have people come to see us, like say 500+ venues, that’s sort of everyone’s dream really, yeah, bigger venues in towns that we don’t know.” Says Laurie about the bands ambitions.

Are you from around her? –Lauren McCdermott: Photographer

“No, I’m from Glostirshire, but we’re a Kingston band.” Says Laurie whilst nervously readjusting his fringe. The background laughter is progressively getting louder and louder. “Probably collectively the Beatles.” Says Laurie on behalf of the bands musical influences.

I asked: Are you guys working on any new music currently?

“Yeah, yeah we’ve got our first single coming out on Friday, tomorrow, tomorrow. But yeah it’s called ‘Sound the Alarm’, that’s out tomorrow. We are recording some more in March and will hopefully have an album out at the end of the year.”

The interview was held in what felt like a conservatory which you could smoke in. The furniture was very vintage like, sofa’s everywhere. To our left sat a group of men causally enjoying a shisha. Proceeding to take a sip of his Lima and Soda flavored cider, Laurie says “Well I met Jack first, we were playing here actually; with my old band. And I got Becky whose email to support me doing spoken word. She got this fella to play with her, and bought out some Beatles tracks. I sort of thought nothing of it, other than he was well good and then we met at a party a couple weeks later and he got his guitar out and I was like, ooh play us one of your songs and he was like ooh play me one of your songs and then I was like I’ve got some recordings coming up why don’t we just join forces and make a band. So, we did that, and then met Kane when we were playing acoustic; Kane’s the drummer. And we were just playing acoustic at the old Mute and he was pissed and got up on the drums and we were like yeah (chuckles) we will have him. And then Will the bass player come a bit later, in August I think. August 2015, we’ve been going ever since.”

I asked: Who is the main songwriter of the band?

“Me and Jack, write the songs. ‘Sound the Alarm’ is Jack’s lyrics. It’s like losing faith in political figures and generally having no faith in politics now and about how politicians don’t do what they say they do and what they say they will and things like that. So, that’s the general theme of it and trying to escape and find a way I guess.”

As he lights his cigarette and inhales it, he continues to talk about who designed the album cover. “For ‘Sound the alarm’? It’s funny we were in Island last week and we were looking for an Argos for a hard drive to put all the footage on but we ended up in a Waterstones and there was this newspaper that said something about the revolution army on it. We had been thinking about art work for a while, kind of nicked it basically, we were just like that’s a good idea, so take out the revolution army and put ‘Sound the Alarm’ and then we sent it off to a graphic designer and he just put ‘The Lodgers’ underneath and that was that, so I don’t know if any copyright is going to come into it.” (Laughs)

“We are planning on doing a 24-hour busking thing when it gets a bit warmer. We haven’t chosen a charity yet but we were thinking about War Child or something. 24 hours, or maybe even try doing more than that. But we’ve done that kind of thing before separately, but never as a band. Can get some other people involved, could be good. I wouldn’t wanna be known as a political band, but we write about all things that affect us in life and politics is one of those naturally.”

“We are just concentrating on recording, we are a little bit late for the festival scene to be honest. Unless ‘Sound the Alarm’ does well on BBC Introducing and then we can hopefully try and get something through that, but I think we’ve missed the boat on that one for this year.”

I asked: Which Festival have you always dreamt of playing?

“Glastonbury, definitely.”

I asked: Do you have any hobbies outside of being musicians?

“Jack is a hypnotist, I used to play cricket for the county, that’s about it really. Kane’s a great salesman. (Laughs) Will’s a light and sounds engineer, what else does he like to do? Put up with the music, I don’t really know? (Laughs)

I asked: What’s one of your most irrational fears?

“Giving a best man speech. (Laughs). I think I’d rather be asked to do the music.”

He stutters as he struggles to think of one of his funniest guilty pleasures. “There was a band, that my mate showed me and she was just saying this is fucking terrible, isn’t this terrible. It was a band called The Struts and the lead singer was trying to go for this Freddie Mercury thing and the video was so cringe and horrible, but I found myself singing it all the way home. I can’t remember how it goes but it was in my head for a while.”

I asked: What’s your most vivid memory?

“Oh, you’ve put me on the spot there, vivid memory. Getting stung by a wasp, the only time it’s ever happened to me as well. It was in my mouth, underneath a tree. (Laughs) My brother was shaking apples from a tree and I was running underneath and he was like can you dodge the apples…

Still haunts me.” (Laughs)

Words by Laviea Thomas

[INTERVIEW] ONE MAN REVIVAL

Blending moderate rock with a subtle ambience, Sunderland trio One Man Revival have already made a name for themselves in their local live scene, boasting reviews of highly-energetic performances and an unwavering dedication to the do-it-yourself work ethic. Last year saw the release of the band’s debut album, Ordinary World, following four years of relentless touring and a successful, spur-of-the-moment Indiegogo campaign to fund it. “We had been touring all over the country for years, but had no money and nothing to show for it, says vocalist Andy Hanlon. “We knew we had a good fan following, so we decided to test out the campaign idea and it worked. The whole concept of reviews and things is pretty new to us, but the feedback has been great.”

The band name itself originated as a concept in Andy’s imagination when he was part of a “failing band” in the days before One Man Revival. “The ‘One Man’ was me,” says the frontman. “The ‘Revival’ was anyone that wanted to perform the songs I had written, whether that was two people or twenty two people.” In the early days, the band started out as a four-piece, with drummer Wayne Glaister having worked alongside Andy in a previous band. “It was an acoustic concept at first, but I was told to ‘keep Wayne in mind’ if I ever wanted to rock it up again.” By the winter of 2012, Andy’s concept was eventually finalised following the departure of two members and the addition of bassist Kyle Smith. “We click together brilliantly,” explains Andy. “Wayne is like my brother and Kyle is my best friend. On stage we know exactly what the others are doing, and whenever we’re off stage there’s always banter.”

Despite the cheerful atmosphere in the band, Ordinary World doesn’t always maintain a positive vibe. While tracks such as ‘Be With Me Anymore’ and ‘Out of Here Alive’ have subtle post-punk and hard rock undertones, others (‘Dreams’ and ‘Temper’ for example) take a more emotional approach in terms of both lyrical and vocal intensity. Written about the death of a friend, “’Dreams’ has a deep meaning to it,” Andy explains. “With the other tracks it’s normally the music that comes first, then we work out a vocal line and the lyrics come last. We tend to brainstorm what we’re all thinking or feeling and take it from there.” Discussing the album’s weaker points, Andy says, “If I knew what I do now when I started recording the album, a few of the tempos would have been slightly quicker and some of the effect and records would be more polished, but overall it’s our baby and we’re very happy with it.”

Describing their sound as “a fine line between mellow and hard rock”, One Man Revival claim that they take an eclectic approach within their influences, drawing inspiration from Sunderland’s local live scene. “I’ve been a fan of the local scene for many years just due to the endeavour of what it takes to become a good, successful musician,” explains Andy. “I know it’s always cliché to hear people refer to bands as the ‘next big thing’, but there are so many acts that just don’t make it to the big stages.”

For One Man Revival, the objective now is to get the band’s name out there as much as possible. “This year is focused solely on trying to get the album into the public eye, whether that’s through shows, festivals, radio stations, public appearances or anything else.” One Man Revival’s album launch show will take place at Newcastle’s O2 Academy on March 19th, with supports from Black Nevada, Saints of Arcadia and The Firelight Opera. “It’s a great step for us – playing in a venue we love with three bands that we love. A lot of people are saying that it’s the pinnacle of the North-east rock scene at the moment, and it means a lot to be a part of that.”

 

Words by Kelly Ronaldson

[INTERVIEW] SISTERAY – A BAND FOR THE TIMES

In 2016 we found ourselves in strange and scary times, music and politics have always gone hand in hand so someone needs to be soundtracking this nightmare. From Pussy Riot to the Fat White Family, there are acts making noise. However it can feel at times as though artists are shunning their duty to be vocal. It hasn’t always been this way though and past events such as Rock Against Racism that began in the 70’s  show there is an alternative to silence and apathy. Rock Against Racism brought together black and white bands as a united voice against fascism. One band singing and standing proud are London four-piece Sisteray. Whether it’s supporting Jeremy Corbyn at charity gigs or singing about the rapid rate at which London is being gentrified, they are a band for the times – and they are making all the right noises.

Music should reflect the landscape it is born in and from and this has been the case for years ,however recently things have changed. From the likes of Faris Badwan claiming he didn’t vote to a range of other bands being completely silent it seems these artists that have a responsibility to be vocal. The statistics of the last general election and Brexit didn’t lie with it being estimated that only 36 % of people in the 18-24 year old category voted in the EU referendum. and young people missed the opportunity to use their vote. Surely then is it not time the artists whom these young people adore and give so much for returned the favour? On the other hand however it could also be argued that for artists to be more vocal us as listeners need to be more accepting of their views even if we disagree. Take for example when Kanye West recently revealed on stage that he didn’t vote but would have voted for Trump. Should we not be encouraging a platform in which all people can feel safe and not be chastised for expressing their views? I wanted to gain a better knowledge of what motivates a band like Sisteray to use their voices in a time when so few fellow musicians are.

I meet guitarist of Sisteray Dan Connolly in the cafe adjacent to Rough Trade and we both joke that Pete Doherty had of course not turned up to perform at his album launch. We sit and discuss the early beginnings of the band. “I started the band with my little brother who used to be the drummer. Basically I’d been writing songs for a few years and couldn’t really play guitar and he was a brilliant musician. I just really wanted to start a band and then I met Niall at the front row of a thrash metal gig at 12 bar club, it’s not there anymore but yeah it was just random. We came together through a love of live music. I like to throw myself in at the deep end so before we’d even had a rehearsal I booked us a gig for like three weeks time. We were camping for Mike’s birthday and and he only barely played guitar and we was lie “have you find a bass player yet?” and i was like “nah, do you wanna do it?” and he said “I’ll give it a go”. So he turns up to rehearsal with an electric guitar and played his bass lines on the guitar and the first ever time he hit a bass guitar was at our first ever gig cuts a friend leant him one. A pretty random coming together, funny old story.”. Dan goes on to describe his four piece as “Four Charlatans who can’t really play guitar that well but we’ve decided to get our stufft together and start a band and make our feelings known”.

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Sisteray feel like a band on the edge of brilliance and new track ‘The Queen’s English’ could be the one to help the hit big. “This song was born out of those feeling and having discussions with the band over those sorta things. We’d come up with a line from what a politician would say or something. It all came from the Queen’s line in her speech when she sat on her golden throne and told us all we had to “live within our means”. That’s a line we’ve actually put in the song so the song kinda grew from that.”.

Whilst researching Sisteray I came across an incredible invention of theirs, The Sisteray Street Army. It’s essentially a group of willing devotees that share Facebook posts and help share flyers and posters, Dan describes it as “enhancing the power of people”. In a time where finances aren’t readily available to upstarting bands for big promotions the value of people can’t be valued enough. Dan sums it up best in his own words “They do a lot for us and we do a lot for them. It’s definitely a mutual affection there.”. Along with Guerilla gigs the Street Army shows Sisteray doing it for themselves and showing a true punk attitude to promoting themselves. I spoke to Liam Brown of the Sisteray Street Army who said he was a member because “The knowledge needs to be spread across the fens of the shires”.

One of the key issues affecting where myself and Sisteray call home is Gentrification, bit by bit the city of London is becoming unrecognisable. This has hit home for the guys and they took to writing a song after the venue they first started out in was knocked down to make way for a Primark. Dan makes the interesting point that venues being closed on a seemingly weekly basis will take it’s toll on the industry. “You’ll see the charts being more and more diluted the more and more venues shut down cus there’s clearly a connection. There’s nowhere for bands to learn their craft, there’s nowhere for bands to rehearse, there’s nowhere for bands to record.”. Another issue we discuss is the class divide within music and the fact that when Sisteray played their first major festival at Isle Of Wight they travelled via megabus and car whilst many of the bands they were dropped off in parents Range Rovers. It would appear the working classes voice is being silenced within the world of music be it through increasing rents or lack of opportunity.

Sisteray themselves draw inspiration from life experience and people rather than other bands. Dan tells me “ It’s in everything we do. Especially when we get asked in interviews “Who are your inspirations? Do you like the Arctic Monkeys?” and all that generic who do you like questions but I always say life growing up on a council estates in East London and the stuff we all go through and the people you meet and the experiences. The level we write a song, that’s the centre point”.

I go on to ask Dan if he thinks enough bands are being vocal about political issues “No, there are a lot but they’re not in the mainstream. I mean as popular as Fat White Family are they’re not a mainstream band. They’re the ones that are shouting. You hear the odd person speak about the odd topic but it’s never enough. I mean what Lily Allen did with the Refugees in Calais was great, going there seeing first hand experiences and standing up for herself when she got rubbished by The Daily Mail. Play the gig with us, help us sell fifty-thousand tickets at a stadium somewhere for small music venues and then plough that money back into the scene, if you care that much. “

There is some hope though it would seem, I recently attended the Bands For Refugees gig. The gig curated by lead singer of Wolf Alice Ellie Rowsell and I was blown away by the love and positivity in the room. Members from bands including The Vaccines and Spector came together for three shows to perform covers and raise money for charity.

Bands like Sisteray, organisations like the Music Venue Trust and of course us as young people are all leading the fightback. Throughout my investigation I concluded that we need more voices singing as loud as they can. Find your own community be it with friends in a music scene or people who enjoy going to the came cinema as you. Come together and stand strong as a united force. Pick up a guitar or sing a song and keep hope alive and vote, please use your vote at the next opportunity.

Words by Jack Winstanley

A BREAKUP INTERVIEW: MIKI BERENYI ON LUSH’S CRAZY 2016

2016 has been a crazy year for Lush. A reformation, a record, and a breakup. The 90s shoegazers rose to prominence in the first half of the nineties for their beautiful ethereal melodies, and their ability to suck you in to a dreamlike state – a cliche, I know, but cliches like that exist only because of bands like Lush.

A couple of days after they played their final show at Manchester Academy, before the band disbanded. I caught up with Miki Berenyi, the band’s frontwoman and guitarist, to reflect on 2016; a year that’s been a bit crazy for everyone, but for Lush; completely and utterly batshit.

So you just have played the very last Lush show. Do you feel like this year has been a success for the band?

I’d say it was a massively successful year for the band – less so, maybe, for the individual members!

My panic from the outset was that reviving Lush could tarnish the band’s past achievements and confirm what our harshest critics had levelled against us, and I wasn’t sure how coming back without Chris would impact me emotionally. So there was a lot at stake.

Emma and I set out with high ambitions, determined to make music and play shows that were as good – hopefully better – than ever. And the input and enthusiasm we got from the talented people who worked with us was inspiring, as was the response of the fans, which made the hard work we put in really worthwhile. I think all that paid off and it all went rather well!

But on a personal level, there was a lot of stress. So yes, a great year for Lush but maybe not such a great year for Miki, Emma and Phil.

Do you think the Blind Spot EP is adequate endstop for the band?

Not on it’s own. An album, obviously, would have been better. And I never got the chance to write any music. But together with the whole reunion and the gigs, it feels good to have added a coda to the story of Lush, which had ended with the nightmare of Chris’s death.

When we first discussed the Lush reunion, I was the most reluctant to reform and the one who insisted that it was a ‘one-shot deal’ – a year and that’s it, I’m out. It’s ironic that in the end, I was the one who was least willing to finally close the door.

Retrospectively, what do you think of the original wave of shoegaze. Do you think it sounds ahead of its time? 

Not really, but it fell out of sync with the times in which it existed – not commercial and confident enough, and muscled out of the way – so maybe it didn’t get mined and exhausted in the way other genres did.

Do you think the laddishness of Britpop replacing the more effeminate shoegaze as Britain’s trademark indie music genre reflects the attitudes of the time?

The ‘laddish’ and ‘effeminate’ tags are unfortunate, because they aren’t accurate unless you apply them to the worst cliches of both. Pulp were never laddish, were they? And I don’t think of My Bloody Valentine as effeminate. To me, Britpop at its best was exuberant and recklessly fun and had a whip-smart edge; while the best Shoegaze was unsettling and cerebral, and explored the soul inside. So the fault was never in the (good) music – more about the external factors. Britpop got twisted into a tabloid lads-night-out loadsamoney boorishness, borne on the crest of Loaded (which itself morphed a long way from what it started out as), while shoegaze got bullied out of the playground and trampled into the dust.

What’s your favourite memory with the band from the early 90s? Which release are you most proud of?

My best memories always involve Chris – he was a brilliant person to have around to enjoy the moment. I’ve always loved playing live – when you can lose yourself completely in the experience of performing the music you’ve created. The studio was always more tricky for me – it’s difficult having your performance put under a microscope when you aren’t a confident musician. There seemed to be a lot of pressure and it was isolating. Although being involved in a surge of creativity – writing a song and having it all come together – is an amazing feeling.

I guess I always say that my favourite album was Split, but it’s been a long time since I listened to any of our records all the way through so my opinion might change if I did!

Seemingly shoegaze is going through a huge revival at the minute. Do you think this is because it didn’t get the praise it deserved first time round?

Well, as I said, I think it got crushed before it had a chance to burn out. Maybe that’s the key – there’s still room for exploration.

Are there any new artists you’re a particular fan of?

I managed to catch a few bands live during our festival stints and the one that stands out is Fat White Family. My 15-year-old daughter Stella is a huge fan so I made sure I watched them (not least because she wanted to see them at Green Man, which would have entailed her making her way back to the tent on her own at1.30am). But they’re not really new, are they?!

I watched a bit of Sleaford Mods at Route Du Rock in St Malo, and was entranced by their performance, but it was 1am when they were on and I was looking after Ivan (my 12-y-old son) who was exhausted and started to get quite freaked out. I guess in his eyes it was late and dark, there were a load of scary drunk people around and a very, very angry man on stage shouting “fuck” a lot.

We played our US shows with Tamaryn, who were fabulous (and all absolutely lovely). I’m always captivated by a distinctive voice, and she was an incredible performer, too.

Do you have any musical future plans?

I’ve really enjoyed playing music again – I had forgotten how much FUN it is. But whether I can find any time between the day job and the raising of a family to create any is definitely questionable.

Lastly, when you look back on your time as a member of Lush, what are your overriding feelings?

For all the stresses and disappointments, I’ve had a brilliant time. Just being in a rehearsal room, working at playing music, the power and the noise and the feeling as the music comes together… it’s like nothing else. I think that with Lush, Emma and I created something together that we couldn’t have managed separately, and I’m very grateful to have had that wonderful experience.

But it wasn’t worth losing Chris over, and if I could erase it all to have him back, I would – in a heartbeat. Plus, I’m not sure I’m really resilient enough to be in a band – or at least, not this one. The highs were life-changing, but the lows were and have been very upsetting.

Originally appeared here

Words by Cal Cashin

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