[FEATURE] MEDIA BRAWL – WHEN WILL IT END?

Features

We’ve all seen the stories, paparazzi becoming aggressive in order to get their stories and all in the name of money. Following celebrities endlessly and provoking them until they lash out. This is something that is a known tactic for the paparazzi to use because these stories will sell and everyone wants to hear news of a celebrity behaving badly. In recent events we’ve seen Louis Tomlinson, a former One Direction member being involved in a physical altercation with one photographer at an Los Angeles airport due to the photographer refusing to stop taking pictures of his girlfriend Eleanor Calder after he declined Tomlinsons request to stop and give them privacy. During this one on one drama,Calder was in another brawl with two unidentified females, Tomlinson then saw this and tried to separate the women and is heard to have shouted ‘What the hell is going on’.

ImageThe public have seemed to have come emotionally immune to these stories as they happen all the time. Seeing viral videos with the infamous ‘TMZ’ watermark in the corner is something that crops up on social media almost weekly, many viewers jumping to comment on who was in the wrong during these Celebrity – Paparazzi showdowns. Paparazzi have built themselves a reputation within the media as being aggressive and have done nothing to change this, instead they have embraced this label, showing everyone that they will go to great lengths in order to get their story.

Tomlinson is clearly not the only one to be involved in such altercations, there have been many celebrities before him who have been targeted. Back in 2013, Paparazzi were a little too eager to get photos of Justin Bieber leaving his London hotel. There was an altercation of words, with one paparazzo member shouting ‘Go the fuck back to America you moron’, and with this remark being heard, Bieber was filmed jumping from the car, being held back by his security, giving that particular man a piece of his mind. This isn’t his first altercation with paparazzi and undoubtedly not his last.

A well documented paparazzi incident was in fact Britneys Spears’ ‘Meltdown’ back in 2007. Paparazzi captured the footage and photographs of Spears shaving her head and then trashing a car. The paparazzi presence was making her more upset, causing her to them attack a paparazzo (who in a weird turn of events, is auctioning off the umbrella, and willing to give half the money to a charity of Britneys choice). News reports surrounding this incident did mention that the paparazzi knew that something wasn’t right, yet still continued to pursue the story. This is one of the most famous moments captured by the paparazzi and can still be considered ‘relevant’ 10 years later.

Is there a line between lashing out and self defense? Why is it different for a celebrity to defend themselves than a regular person? Stories can become minipulated by the press in order to sell more copies with no regard to personal feelings, and the effect of the press’ aggressive behaviour can take it’s toll on musicians, this is something that needs to change.

Words by Jasmine Greggory

[FEATURE] Why is there a struggle with small venues when live music is booming?

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“If small and independent venues were to disappear completely, where would new bands come from? How will we find the new big thing?”

Sometimes it is down to location, other times it is lack of public interest and other times it is down to the rise in council rent. All along the country independent music venues are closing down, yet live music itself is booming around the country. So, what is it that is making venues close? It’s no secret that independent music venues are struggling to how they were even ten years ago, but a lot of that is down to the economy, smoking bans and the increase of home entertainment and social media. But venues should always remain relevant to the industry as these are the breeding grounds for scenes, and help build creative communities.

Mark Davyd, co-owner of The Tunbridge Wells Forum told The Guardian “The valuation of the Forum as a music venue is about £375,000. If we sell it to be flats, it’s worth about £1.2m.” It’s no surprise that due to gentrification that venue owners are selling up and you can’t blame them for it, however it is what is becoming the death of the independent venues.

In 2014 Leeds saw the closure of one of its longest running independent venues, The Cockpit, due to an inability to afford its upkeep, BBC wrote at the time of the venue’s closure that is was due to a “changed industry” according to Colin Oliver of the venues promotion company, Future Sound. Two years on since the closure of Cockpit, things haven’t really changed for small venues and still venues across the country are having to close and although the UK music industry grosses £3.8 billion a year, the origins of it is being taken away from us.

Although UK live music has been increasing in popularity in recent years, it is mainly commercialism of music venues which is keeping the music industry a billion-pound contribution to the UK economy. The 02 Arena in London, the SSE Arena in Glasgow and the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester are three of the best-selling arenas globally. Most cities within the United Kingdom have an 02 Academy venue, all of which get bookings from international bands which most of the time manage to sell out capacities of 4,500 people or more. Looking at the vast audiences that these venues get and the international reputation that they give our live music industry, how are we meant to look at these venues? As a commercial monster, which is destroying what live music venues once meant? or as pioneers with the money to keep live music venues going strong. London alone has three Academies, one of which is Brixton academy. Although it is not a small venue, it is an historic venue with the 02 franchise being a lifeline, it has kept the venue open and kept live music coming to the borough of Brixton. “I believe the academies provide a substantial amount of live music that cater for a wide range of audiences, and I think they have kept famous venues such as Brixton up and running.”a spokesperson from Brixton 02. “I think the [02] Academies are good for cities, Yes, the reason is down to the consistent array of gigs and club nights. London has three [Academies] located all around the city meaning there are events almost every night of the week accessible to almost the whole of London”.

An average ticket price for an O2 Academy venue ticket can be over £60 for a standard stalls ticket – take RnB star Ne-Yo’s Brixton show. Tickets are priced at £63 for a standard, no frills entry ticket, with VIP tickets costing almost £180. Now this seems ridiculous in comparison to smaller independent venues which charge half this price. For example, Koko in Camden also sees RnB acts such as Bryson Tiller and Snakehips, without breaking the banks of their fans.

But both the artist and venues are responsible for these high ticket prices. Although Academies tend to price most of their tickets between £20-£40, the odd triple digit price will pop up. However, for independent venues, a ticket priced £20 is seen as expensive. Keeping ticket prices low is what makes independent venues stand out from commercialised venues, but these low ticket prices often means they are unable to book the more popular acts or be able to put on acts every night of the week unlike the 02 academies. “Small venues have always been the grassroots for local artists” states small venue/club owner Mark Page. “In this sense any ticket over £10 is expensive for local music. If small venues can’t charge any more than so [£10] for a ticket, and only have a capacity of no more than 200 people they’re not going to be able to make as much money as an Academy venue which has a capacity of over 4000 and are charging £20 or more for a ticket. With the pressures of the rise of rent, it’s no surprise really that smaller venues are struggling or closing.”

348sIt’s no doubt that the digital age has altered the music industry. The increase of social media users has created a platform that musicians could have only dreamed of before the access of the internet providing a worldwide audience. “Online presence is as important [as performing live], but not more so” says venue owner, promotor and booking agent Mark Page. “Online of course is the greatest marketing tool of the 21st century to performers, but bands still need to play live to hone their skills, and learn their craft. Playing in front of live audiences breeds confidence and can give artists so much more feedback than a like on a Facebook post. If an artist is happy to only hide behind their computer, success can still be achieved but their art becomes too one dimensional.” As much as this may be the case, more and more bands are gaining further popularity using social media rather than playing live. Hertfordshire The Hunna for example managed to get themselves thousands of followers on their social media before they had released any music. By the time they put out their album in October 2015, as terrible as it was, they managed to sell out a UK tour and their album made it into the UK charts. If The Hunna can achieve this without using the support of their local venue, with the music industry one of the hardest to break through in, maybe other bands will do the same and although the quality of music will drop and perhaps this is how the industry will be in the not so distant future.

Perhaps it’s just an end of an era for small venues and we, as a music community, are holding on to what we remember of our first gigs at a small city venue and we don’t want future generations to miss out on what we remember so fondly. If The Hunna are anything to go off the quality of music will drop and will there be anything worth going to see live left? To say the least without small inner city venues the UK music industry would be a shamble, it would be bread without the yeast, a country without a working class, it simply would not work. You can stop this however, get out and go to your local venues, go see local music and if you’re dubious or sceptical you will be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t want to see your local venue die off, do your best to support it. Creativity is what makes cities and without venues it is taking chances away from people. There is a lot of good music that you’ve never heard of out there and some of it will be at your very doorstep. you just have to go find it.

Words By Jonny Page

[FEATURE] DAVID BOWIE: A PERSONAL TRIBUTE

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The Thin White Duke died a week ago today. Lucy O’Brien pays tribute…

His rule of thumb was, whatever’s been done, do the next thing differently. This was the DIY philosophy of punk, and many punk artists took cues from him. Bowie followed this path religiously throughout the ‘70s, and only started to divert from it when he bowed to commercial pressure in the mid ‘80s and went for mainstream stadium success. Then in the 2000s he returned to his original philosophy, particularly with his devastating swansong album Blackstar.

Bowie has a particular place in my life. First for me as teenage fan idolising his Thin White Duke persona. I liked Ziggy Stardust and played Aladdin Sane incessantly, but it was Station to Station and the Philly soul of Young Americans that gripped me the most.

Bowie set the template for beautiful alienation. His approach was pop art and intellectual – every album should have come with a reading list of cultural references. At the age of 17 I ached to meet him. But when I finally did I was in my early twenties, writing for NME. I was only interested in hip hop and was going through a “kill your idols” phase. So when I found myself in 1987 at a record company meet-n-greet backstage in Rotterdam on his Glass Spider tour, I was blasé. He came barrelling up to me in a sky blue suit and corn yellow hair. What I wasn’t prepared for was his sprite-like alien energy, crackling with a nervous intensity. He wasn’t like anyone else I’ve met before or since.

The second time was in 1996 when I interviewed him on the set of C4 music series The White Room. He had a different energy then – relaxed, wry, easy-going. He dragged on his Marlboro and talked about his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in the 1970s. “I was totally out of my gourd,” he laughed.

The third time I saw him was a week later at an art gallery off Regent Street, where Pete Townshend had an exhibition of paintings. Bowie came up to me and said hello, as natural as day, and we had a long chat. That night I had the conversation I yearned to have when I was a teenager, thinking he was out of reach.

For him there was no real separation between musician and fan, no hierarchy in creativity. He proved to me that you can meet your idols, and you will have that conversation. That the flow of art and ideas is as natural as life.

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RIP DAVID BOWIE: 1947-2016

Words by Lucy O’Brien

[PREVIEW] JUDAS AND LITTLE GRIM @ UCA, EPSOM

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JUDAS are a four piece from London who have already nailed the stadium rock sound despite only having one EP under their belt. For evidence of this look no further than the surging guitars in the euphoric track Sister or the crashing percussion in the anthemic Call Me. They play UCA at the start of a string of UK dates which sees the band visit Camden’s Barfly before the end of the month and Liverpool and Sheffield in February. Hopefully their recently uploaded, poignant and heartfelt cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance makes an appearance too.

Support on the night comes from local boys Little Grim. The four piece formed in 2013 and have been making beautifully bruising and bass heavy songs ever since. It’s a sound that has been getting them noticed a lot recently and the band have featured on various music blogs and performed a live session for The Clubhouse as a result.

Catch both bands at UCA Epsom’s SU on 22nd January.

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Words by Shannon Cotton

[FEATURE] THE BEST – AND WORST – OF BAND MERCH

Features

 

Here’s the deal: you’ve just seen a great concert from a band you don’t know very well. Because you’ve been impressed by their set and you want to help out starving artists, you go up to the merch stand, expecting to find tshirts and CDs.
Most bands do have tshirts and CDs. Some go a little too far in terms of originality. Here’s our pick for the best – and worst – of band merch. Mostly the worst, to be honest.

 

 

Wavves grinder

 

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Rarely has a piece of merch fit a band’s music and personality better. It’s marketed as a ‘tobacco grinder’, but you know as well as I do that Nathan Williams and co. didn’t write Beach Goth after smoking too many cigarettes.

 

 

Alice Cooper’s ‘Whiplash’ mascara

 

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Yet another proof that sometimes, masculinity is weirdly fragile. This mascara is made entirely of manly ingredients such as pepper, thunder and PAIN (just kidding, it’s just a regular mascara). If you can’t stand the idea of buying anything that’s been marketed towards women, that’s probably a great product. Otherwise, fairly dispensable.

 

 

Iggy Azalea fan

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Honestly, there’s no logical reason as to how this idea came about. It’s just yet another reason to make fun of the Australian singer ; just imagine the sheer number of people who tweeted a picture of this saying it was “Iggy’s only fan LMAO”.

 

 

Nick Cave plastic toy

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Like most things on this list, fairly useless, though this particular piece of merch is fairly cute – you can even choose your favourite Nick as it comes in different outfits. It’s limited edition, though, because Cave had to turn it into something serious. Obviously.

 

 

Grimes’ vagina ring

 

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I’ve tried wording that heading about a hundred times and this was the less offensive version, so here goes. Grimes is one of the few artists that has always been vocal about being a feminist so it’s not too much of a reach to imagine that this has something to do with girl power – though a person’s gender is not defined by their genitalia, but this concept doesn’t make for good jewellery so, hey.
Thinking about it, that ring’s not nice jewellery either so let’s hope that if you’ve bought it, you’ve god a ‘bad taste’ party coming up.

 

 

IAMX wine

 

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Chris Corner (ex-Sneaker Pimps) has found his true voice in his solo project, IAMX. He’s also found wine in the process. Because he’s a good person, you can choose between white or red, and from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty good, so props to him for the weird-but-cool idea.

 

 

Motörhead dildos

 

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Honestly, I don’t think anyone has ever wanted to think about Lemmy Kilmister while masturbating, but if that’s your kind of thing, know that there’s something tailored especially for you out there.
It’s worth noting that Rammstein’s already made a way more hardcore version of this weird piece of merchandising in 2009. Avant-garde.

 

 

Slayer Christmas jumper

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This is the real reason we’re all here and a true masterpiece; the annual Slayer Christmas jumper. Annual as in ‘they actually make a different one every year’ though it feels like it’s getting less kitsch as years go by, which is kind of sad for a Christmas jumper. Still, even if it’s way overpriced (90 dollars, really?), there’s no denying this is cool. ‘tis the season to be fucking hardcore.

 

Words by Jillian Blandenier

[INTRODUCING] KIBAFLEXX

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Fans of electronic or acid house listen up. Kibaflexx is who you’ve been looking for. Known to family and friends as Mufaro Jayaguru, he’s a 19-year-old student from Rochester who studies electronic music production at ACM in Guilford. Being a student working in studios and seeing other older students work, he said “it’s pretty cool and it’s really motivated me to release a new EP soon and start DJ’ing.”  I briefly spoke to Kibaflexx about how he got into making his own music and who his biggest influences were.

Jayaguru told me that he had started singing in a band when he was about 15 and had done a couple projects alongside that I ended up at college doing music tech and that’s when I got into electronic music production.” He then released a three track acid house EP with a fourth remix track by another artist called Sh?m: “the EP’s called afterTHOUGHT and I’m Kibaflexx” he says with a charming smile.

Being highly influenced and driven by artists such as Kayne West, Flying Lotus, Kid Cudi and Kavinsky, you can here subtle elements of each of those artists throughout his remixes and tracks.

Watch this space Mr West…

You can check out Kibaflexx on his BandCamp right now: http://kibaflexx.bandcamp.com/

[INTRODUCING] ECHELON: THE HOTTEST PROG METAL BAND ON THE SCENE RIGHT NOW

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London based prog Metal band Echelon; have been on the scene since August 2014. They are currently recording and writing new content which will be on their EP Demo. They performed one of their most important gigs on November 14th in the Cavendish Arms, Stockwell so I caught up with the vocalist Louis Ross, to ask him a few questions about how they started and who their main influences on the prog Metal scene are.

They’re a 5-piece band consisting of Louis Ross on Vocals, Reece Scott on lead guitar, Sam Glynn on rhythm guitar, Joshua Foster on bass and Chris Kyriakos on drums. They formed from a previous band called Astareal, that wasn’t working out too well and when two of the members reshuffled the line up, they ended up how they are now. When they originally started, they were only practicing and playing covers until they started constructing their sound and wrote some originals. Whilst talking to Ross he said: “our influences include several bands, mainly noteworthy such as Animals As Leaders, Intervals, Dream Theatre, Tesseract and Stone Sour (just for lyrics)”.

They recently recorded a new song called Revolution which can be found on their SoundCloud at http://www.soundcloud.com/Sshifterr.

[FEATURE] Band of the Week #3 – Curb

Features

Hometown: Birmingham

Line-up: Tom O’Ryan (Vocals/Guitar), Joe Booth (Guitar), Sam Hunt (Drums), Lee Booker (Bass)

Background: Furiously kicking their legs out of Birmingham’s never-ending genepool of talent, Curb are the latest band to be making waves in the West Midlands. Long-term followers of the Birmingham music scene and now heavyweight members in their own right, Curb’s sound is less, posey, uber-hip shoegazing, more dreamy, polished reflection.

With a sturdy fanbase already accumulating, Curb’s first song released on SoundCloud, So High, has reached over 60,000 plays and counting. With likenesses to Radiohead and an appreciation for their tight yet free for all sound, their latest release, Communication, hasn’t fell short of the mark either.

A genuinely brilliant group of guys, Curb’s sound is pretty interesting – you’re met by some stellar bass playing which touches on soft funk, killer walls of guitar accompanied by the wonderfully isolated vocal of their frontman, Tom and a dash of Britpop cool. Team that with 60s vocal harmonies, shiny production and instantly oscillating 90s indie and you have a sound that sounds both familiar and fresh.

The best aspect about Curb is the root of their lyricism; Communication talks of a breakdown of transmission which covers many grounds: could it be the lost link in a relationship? The outlook towards people you’re close to? The growing ignorance to what’s going on around us? So High is the same format – widely regarded as a song about the thralls of being high on drugs, the song was actually written about people’s infatuation with social media and networking where people are so wrapped up in their own little world that they forget the bigger picture of life.

So far, it seems the band are intent on building a rapport and reputation with fans outside of the city that brought us Peace, Swim Deep and JAWs by hitting London and Manchester respectively to spread their sound to new horizons. This also gives them the chance to “attend every local Wetherspoons possible to whatever venue we play. Every Spoons found is a band life saved.”

Let that be a lesson to all of us.

See them live: The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – 18th December

What to buy: You can buy their latest single, Communication, from the band’s bandcamp here (hyperlink the link to the “here”) http://curb-band.bandcamp.com/

File next to: The Charlatans, Radiohead, Oasis