REACHBACK "After winning a competition to perform at some of the UKs biggest festivals, Reachback pretty much seem unstoppable at the moment, and as well as this the band are already prepping some new material! So it is indeed clear that these guys are on the verge of something awesome!" Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Reachback? Tom: Reachback formed in 2009 when I met Ruby, and we decided to write some songs together. I was at the same school as Craig, and i asked him if he wanted to drum in the band, so he joined! Ruby: We struggled to find a bassist for quite a while, but we finally decided that my brother Joe was probably the best fit! Joe: I’d never picked up a bass guitar, let alone played one, and they said to me, we can’t find anyone who fits in, we get along with and who knows all our songs – would you want to do it? I’d been to all the shows, rehearsals and I thought, why not! Craig: It worked out pretty good! We all get along great, we’re like family.
How did you get to the name Reachback, and what does it mean to you guys? Ruby: This question has so many different answers – some people have said it’s Tom’s favourite dance move! Joe: I think when we were deciding names, this one came up, and no-one really thought of anything better so it stuck! Tom: The band name is what brings us together really, we’re all individual musicians, apart from Joe, and Reachback is kind of like the product of when we all get together and write and play music.
So you guys recently won the Red Bull Jam competition, how was this whole process for you? Tom: Red Bull Bedroom Jam literally becomes a way of life during the competition! You’re pushing it across all the media platforms you have and asking all your fans to support you throughout the competition! To see our fans really helping us get to the top to go through was a great feeling! Craig: RBBJ is probably one of the toughest competitions, but the rewards so far have been absolutely unbelievable. All our fans did so well to get us through and we could never thank them enough! Hopefully they enjoy seeing us at these festivals as much as we enjoy playing them! Ruby: It’s a great competition! It’s hard work, but when it pays off, you can see why so many bands take part! Massive thanks to fans, friends and family who really helped us get through!
How has it been then, to be playing all of these festivals like Download/Slam Dunk Festival? Ruby: We’ve all been to Slam Dunk/Download as fans before – to come back and play as an artist is awesome! We’ve had the best time, and the crowd response has been great! Joe: We were a little worried at Download, as it is a metal festival, but we got on stage, and the marquee was absolutely packed out! People were watching from outside because they couldn’t get in, and they all looked like they were enjoying it! Craig: It was actually my birthday the day we played Download – Ruby got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to me – that was an incredible feeling! Tom: I think Download was more nerve-racking due to it being a metal festival, but we had more people watching us at the end of the set, then at the beginning, and that’s always a great sign! Ruby: With Slam Dunk, we felt like we were a good fit, as it is a punk rock festival. We got to meet and share the stage with some of our favourite bands including Mayday Parade, Cartel and Forever The Sickest Kids! Joe: It was a bit weird talking to Mayday Parade – we listen to their album on the way to almost every show, and to meet them and get to talk to them was amazing!
“We try to make all our songs different, but keep a sound that everyone will recognize as being our own” How has the chemistry been between all of the bands that also won the competition? Ruby: It’s been great – all of us have dreamt of playing these festivals and being here, and sharing it with a bunch of great bands is awesome. There’s been a lot of fun and good memories from playing these festivals! Tom: I’d say we all get along pretty good! We’ve all come out of the competition super excited to be at these festivals, and I just think we’re all here to enjoy the moment! Joe: Every band that’s won knows how hard it is to do so, so I think there’s a level of mutual respect for everyone who’s made it through, and we’re all just having the best summer!
What is the narrative/theme behind your latest single 'No One Else' ? Ruby: We always try and write songs that people can relate to, and I think No One Else is about that person in someone’s life that you always think about, and that you always want in your life.
Also, what has it been like to record with Romesh Dodangoda and how has he pushed you as musicians? Tom: Recording with Romesh was great! We had a great time in the studio with him, and it was awesome to see the songs change and evolve whilst working with him. Ruby: It’s probably the most fun and relaxed we’ve ever felt in the studio, it’s really important that you can work well with the producer, and I think Romesh is absolutely amazing! Craig: Like Ruby said, it’s really important to be able to just be yourself, relax and get all your ideas out, and Romesh is great at understanding your music and coming up with great ideas, as well as taking your own ideas, and helping you turn them into something awesome! Joe: We’re so happy with the way the song’s came out, we enjoyed the whole process, and the final product is just what we wanted, and more! We’ll be heading back there towards the end of the year, and we’re all so excited to be working with Romesh again!
How's your new material coming along, and what can fans expect in comparison to your earlier work maybe? Ruby: As musicians, we’re still trying out new sounds, and writing new songs all the time. We try to make all our songs different, but keep a sound that everyone will recognize as being our own. Tom: I think our new single will be a little bit different to our earlier work, in that we’re bringing together a mix of bright pop, to catchy jumpy rock. Joe: We enjoy writing songs, and some of the material we’re working on is darker like ‘No One Else’, and some of it is more upbeat like ‘Waiting’. We’re hoping everyone likes our new tracks!!
How excited are you to be playing Hevy Fest, and what should attending fans expect? Joe: We can not wait to get stuck in at Hevy Fest – it’s another metal festival, so there’s always that slight worry about crowd response, but I think whatever it is, we’ll get up there and play our show and have a great time, and hopefully everyone watching will as well! Ruby: For anyone who’s going to Hevy Festival, and wants a little break from the hardcore bands, and wants to come jump around a little, then they should come check us out! We love to get the crowd involved at our shows, especially at festivals, so expect some new material, a lot of shout-backs and jumping
What else does 2012 hold for Reachback? Tom: We’ve got a lot going on this summer and some big things planned for the rest of 2012, but coming up, our new single ‘Get Up’ will be released mid July with a brand new, unheard B-side and we’re super excited to hear the thoughts of everyone on that! Ruby: We’ve also got a tour in July with My Extraordinary, you can check out the dates at Reachbackband.com/events. It’s a Northern tour, so we’re heading to Manchester, Liverpool and the sort to hang out with some of our Northern fans! Joe: We’re also playing at the BT London Live festival in Hyde Park on July 29th which we’re super excited for! Craig: There’s a lot going on right now and we’ve got our single, a new video coming out, more recording plans, some great festivals and some amazing shows lined up! The best way to keep up is to head to our website www.reachbackband.com or our Facebook.com/Reachback page for all the latest information!
â€œOur new material stretches to a more jumpy, upbeat feel that suits well with the summer!â€?
"The new We Caught The Castle album is incredible, it shows that this band is ready to rise above from the underground alternative music scene and do some damage! So watch out, as they're coming your way!" Can you tell us a little bit about the formation of We Caught The Castle? Zak, Simon, Joe and Rob started playing with each other at school, then decided to pick up instruments and decided to form a band when Zak and Simon met Hollie at college.
What bands/genres of music have influenced you as a band since day 1, and why? Funeral For A Friend and The Receiving End of Sirens, we used to listen to them in our own time and it just influenced us in our harmonies and song structures.
How did you end up on Angry Badger Records, and what's it been like to have them backing your band so far? We were asked to play a gig in Southampton by the owner of Angry Badger Records (Jules Aplin) and he really enjoyed us live, after we played another couple of gigs for him he decided to offer us a deal. He's been really helpful in getting us gigs in Southampton and the surrounding areas, and has been essential at getting this album off the ground.
So how did you go about picking Chris Penfold to be your new bass player, and how is he adjusting to being in the band so far? Funny story.... Our bassist went on holiday for a week and we had to get a stand in for a couple of gigs. We chose our friend from Streetfight Silence, Chris Penfold, and made a joke on our Facebook that he was our new bassist because Rob had moved to Spain, we didn't think anyone would take it seriously but they did!
What can you guys tell us about your upcoming debut album 'Time To Grow' ? The album was written about the massive life change we're all going through at the moment. The reality shock of realising that you're fending for yourself from here on in, when you leave school and realise you actually have to support yourself. Having to juggle earning a living and the band was really difficult, and we're basically spending every penny we own on trying to make this happen. We wrote the album to reflect that sense of despair and determination to not give up on your goals, despite what's standing in the way.
What was the recording process like for this record? Well the drums were recorded at Whitehouse Studios in Weston Super Mare by Martin Nicholls in about three days, then our guitarist Simon recorded all of the Guitars, Bass and Vocals at his own studio, before John Mitchell from Outhouse Studios mixed it. Because we were recording the majority of it ourselves it took far longer than it should of. Most bands lay down an album in a few weeks but we managed to stretch it out to a couple of months!
You guys have a strong following and as this is your first album release, did you guys maybe feel any pressure or nerves when recording, or was it more of a natural process? We never really felt pressured when we were recording this album. It was quite relaxed seeing as we could record whenever we wanted using Simon's studio and the vocals came quite naturally, the drums were probably the most pressured due to the time limit but even then we finished them a day earlier than we were supposed to, all in all it was pretty straight forward.
â€œWe definitely found our sound with this album, and hopefully people will respond to that and appreciate what we have to offerâ€? How did you get to the album title 'Time To Grow' and what do you want it to mean to your fan base? The title came from the experiences we've been going through at the moment. It's about that tranisitional period in your life, where you have to work out what you're going to spend the rest of your life doing, or end up never achieving anything with yourself. A lot of our fan base are at an age where they are going through the same thing, so hopefully they will be able to relate to a lot of the songs and really feel like a part of them.
What do you want this release to do for the status/representation of We Caught The Castle? Just to get people to know who we are really. We've been stereotyped a lot since we started, with everyone presuming that because we have a female singer, we'll just be another Americanised pop band. We definitely found our sound with this album, and hopefully people will respond to that and appreciate what we have to offer.
As there are so many upcoming bands out there right now, what do you think sets you guys apart from the rest? We HATE the fact that just because we have a female vocalist, everyone assumes that we sound like every other female fronted band. We hope that we differentiate ourselves from other female fronted bands and that we can be accepted as any other band regardless.
What else does 2012 hold for We Caught The Castle? An album release, a few videos, festival appearance and a tour!
ACODA Interview with Damon Tang & Stephen Crook
"They've played Download Festival, they've got a new EP, and a brand new music video out! All of this has set them up perfectly for an awesome 2012! So get involved, and discover the brilliant ACODA!" Can you tell us a bit about the formation of ACODA? S: The bands earliest incarnation formed in 2008, we played one show in a town eight miles from home and then drove 1500 miles to Slovenia to start a European tour.. D: In hindsight it wasn't a great idea, but we learnt a lot in those early days. 2009/10 was when things really started working for us.
What styles of music/bands have influenced you guys since your formation, and why? S: As individuals we all have our own musical tastes. Rock, metal, punk. We love heavy music! D: Thrice, Reuben, Underoath, Funeral For A Friend, Mastodon, Deftones, Enter Shikari and Periphery are all bands that we enjoy listening to... We seem to be attracted to the underdog artists, the ones who are doing their own thing and not chasing trends. S: I suppose these bands have influenced us with their attitude and ethos as much as they have musically.
How did you get to the name ACODA, and what does it mean to you? S: We were throwing around the idea of 'A Code Evolves' but we wanted to keep it stripped down. Acoda was blurted out by one of us and we liked it, so it stuck! D: A 'coda' is a musical term, "a coda is required to "look back" on the main body, allow listeners to "take it all in", and "create a sense of balance." It's pretty fitting...
You recently played Slam Dunk Festival, how was this whole experience for you? S: Slam Dunk was a really great weekend! We played both Leeds and Hatfield and loved it. D: It's a very 'pop-punk' heavy event so we were aware that we might not be playing in front of an audience who would normally listen to our band, but we just went out and did what we do. We certainly felt like we won a few people over that weekend.
You also just played Download Festival! How was this? S: I don't think we could love Download Fest any harder if we tried!! D: We arrived on the Wednesday to get our monies worth haha.. S: We've all been going to Donington since Download started and to play for the second year on the bounce was absolutely mind-blowing! I personally feel like Download 2011 was a real turning point for us, an incredible opportunity for any new band. In 2012 we didn't feel like imposters. We felt like we deserved to be there and we couldn't have been happier with the way the set, the crowd, and just the way the weekend went in general...
Also, how did your recent tour go with Attention Thieves, and what do you think you learnt the most from this tour? S: Attention Thieves are a great band to tour with, although you've got to watch your alcohol intake with those guys! It's easy to get caught up in it all haha. D: I think we learnt that people are actually listening to us now. Not all of the shows were super busy, but the people that are there know what songs they want to hear and seem to be keen for more. That's good enough for us right now, as we're just getting started.
What can you tell us about your self titled EP? D: Riffs, melody, heavy beats and four voices! It's a pre-lude to our full length album, I guess. S: The lyrics were influenced by life, growing up in a small town but trying to see further than that. That 'something's not right' feeling, that you can't quite put your finger on..
Your new single 'This Is Life' is great, can you tell our readers a bit about the narrative/idea behind the song? S: Thanks very much! The song is about violence, it's a social commentary. We feel very lucky, we don't want to feel sorry for ourselves over the small problems we have when there are so many much bigger issues out there: war, gang crime, homelessness, genocide, corruption. D: You see these things everyday and become desensitized to it. We feel like a lot of bands are taking advantage of this by inspiring their fans in a rather selfish way to turn inwards in the face of life's challenges. 'This is Life' seems bleak, but the core message is more about finding inner strength to deal with what life throws at you. It’s about taking more of an interest in the world outside and it’s also about taking pride in what little differences you can make. It's about taking the negative energy you have and channeling it into productive ways where you can change things, and it’s not about sitting in your bedroom feeling sorry for yourself.
The video is also cool, who came up with the video concept, and how did it all come together? S: We worked out the video ideas together with the director Ian Collins. It was actually really easy working with him on it. We had the lyrics and a few ideas of what we'd like to go for, and he was really good at expanding on that, whilst keeping the big picture in mind and ensuring that it all translated. D: We shot it in a school in our hometown with a very small crew. Keeping it DIY! We really like how it's turned out and people seem to be digging it. I think it compliments the song very well.
What else does 2012 hold for ACODA? D: The single for 'This Is Life' is out on August 20th. It's going to have an exclusive b-side track that's not on the EP, as well as an acoustic tune. S: We're demoing a few tunes just now to flesh out our full length.. D: Yeah, once they're done we'll be hitting the studio to get this thing finished, with the aim being to release before the end of the year. S: Other than that? We might have another festival appearance to announce soon, we're just waiting for the nod! D: And surely another tour before the end of the year, right? S: I fecking hope so!
Interview with James
"After their storming performance at Download Festival and with a new album on the horizon, it certainly looks like Feed The Rhino are ones to watch out for, so make sure you don't miss them when they play this years Hevy Fest" Can you tell us about the formation of Feed The Rhino? Sam (guitarist) my brother was in a band with Lee (frontman), I was in a band with Chris (drummer), both bands broke up and we were all mates, so we decided to write a few songs, we then did a local show where Oz (bassist) was there with his band and felt the vibe, so we asked him to join. It was all kind of coincidence.
How did you get to the band name Feed The Rhino and what do you want it to mean to your fans? Do you know what, we have made up so many stories as to what the name means and how we have come up with it, we have forgotten the real reason but to our fans we want it to mean aggression and passion, I guess we just wanted something different.
What can you tell us about the themes and influences that run through your latest record 'The Burning Sons'? Some of the songs have been based on life experiences that we have had individually and together, although this album has a darker vibe we still have kept the positive attitude in the writing, we have been influenced by even heavier music this time around.
What was the recording process like for this record? We recorded this at Hidden Track Studios with our bassist Oz, even though the last album was recorded with him only half the album was written with him and we had been together a very short time, we were still finding our feet as a band, and this time around we had a lot of touring experience and spent a hell of a lot more time together. I think that this comes across in this record.
What would you say was the most challenging song to put together on the record for you and why? Some of the songs we started writing almost a year ago had the finishing touches put in on the last few days of recording, some were written in one practice session, so each song set a different challenge in different ways but if there is one track for me, I think it would be the title track 'The Burning Sons' just because I think it sums up the whole album in one song and it is more like a story than a song.
How would you say you have progressed as a band since the release of Mr. Red Eye? Spending a lot of time touring and writing for any band adds experience, I think we have become a much stronger and tighter unit and we feel good for it!
Also, the video for that song is great, so can you tell us how it came together, and who you worked with on the project? We wanted to create a claustrophobic feeling to the video, almost like you are being trapped, we found this fort with underground tunnels which was perfect. Chris Stockings who filmed it used the location to its full potential.
You've just released a batch of t-shirts to promote the release of 'Left For Ruins' and the art on them is really awesome, can you tell us who came up with this idea and how a project like this comes together? The t-shirt was the last element to this project, i suppose it was almost an addition to the dark vibe of the track and generally the album. Tom at Fuggart Design did the artwork for this album and jumped on the idea of a tshirt once we put it across, so expect more.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Hevy Fest and what should attending fans expect? We love Hevy festival, the people there are nuts, fans should expect to hear a lot more new songs from this new album and a crazier/heavier performance than ever before!
What else does 2012 hold for Feed The Rhino? More tours, more festivals, more everything!
Interview with Rick Chapple
"With a great response to their new single 'No Remorse, No Regrets' fans are now eagerly awaiting the release of their upcoming third album â€˜Empire Of Lightâ€™! So join us as we catch up with the band to find out all about it!" First of all, how was Crash Doubt Festival, and what experiences do you have from this show? Crash Doubt was awesome. It was the first show we had played in about three months, due to being in the studio, so it was great to be playing again. Loads of our friends were on the bill as well, so it was good to meet up and hang out. We watched some great sets and the atmosphere was amazing. Particular highlights include watching Feed The Rhino and This Is Hell.
So, how did you go about deciding that 'No Remorse, No Regrets' will be the first single to unleash from your upcoming 3rd album? Well it is the first song on the album and it has the best sentiment behind it. We've been through a transition stage in our career over the past year or so and it is good to be back with an album we are so proud of and feeling bigger and better as a unit - we felt it was the best song to kick off this new album campaign.
What are the main themes behind this song, and what does it mean to you guys as a band? It is purely about looking back over the past seven or so years of being in this band and realising that what we have acheived so far is amazing and although it has not been easy, we certainly have no regrets in choosing this life.
What was the recording process like for your upcoming record? We recorded with Jonny Renshaw (Guitar) at Bandit Studios in Tetbury. We recorded the last two albums with Jonny. He really is a great producer and he has recorded, mixed and produced this new album. The recording process this time was fairly quick. Of course we had a few set backs due to illness and such, but on the whole we got the recording done much quicker than we have in the past. It probably took about three months to record and mix the album.
When you entered the studio, what would you say were the main ideas for this record, or just what you wanted the album to sound like in general? In terms of recording, we were a lot quicker with decision making. We didn’t spend days on getting sounds right, as inevitably you go round in circles anyway. We got things sounding how we like them and just started to record. I guess you could say that we have our own sound. We did tryout some different amps to see if it would sound any different, but ultimately we stuck with our usual setup. The only change was using different guitars.
How would you say this record compares to your prior release 'Blessed and Cursed' ? I think it is a denser record and a bit more varied. We have faster songs on this new album and perhaps a little bit more energy throughout. We have also used some effects pedals that we would never have thought of using before, such as pitch shifters and whammy pedals - there is also a slide guitar part on there too. So we really did try to broaden our techniques on this record. Vocally, this album is very strong for Ed and showcases how good a vocalist he is.
“We seem to work out ideas a lot quicker and creativitiy seems to flow a lot more” What do you think you have learnt the most as a band from recording this album? Probably that sometimes you can over-think things way too much. You can go round in circles and discuss a certain point to death, but ultimately you will end up where you started so it's best to go with the flow and move on to the next issue. I also think we have really developed as a writing team. We seem to work out ideas a lot quicker and creativitiy seems to flow a lot more.
You guys have been on the UK metal/hardcore scene since 2004, so with this in mind how would you say the scene has progressed/changed since you first started out? I would say that when we started, post-hardcore was probably in the background of the scene, but it seems now that it is becoming more and more popular. I hope this is a good thing, but at the same time we run the risk of it becoming too saturated. I am sure it will spawn some great bands and music. But we will always strive to be different - we always have.
What do you want your upcoming 3rd record to do for the representation of Devil Sold His Soul? Perhaps open us up to a broader audience. We feel that sometimes people don’t listen to certain music because of the image surrounding it - if we can try and knock down some of those barriers, I think it will help more people get involved with heavy, atmospheric music. Mainstream has to get used to screaming.
What else does 2012 hold for Devil Sold His Soul? We will be doing a video for the next single which will be out before the album drops in September and then we plan to tour it as much as possible. We want to try and get to countries we have never been to before and play to as many people as possible. If we can do that, then we will be happy.
Interview with Jeff
“These guys are an extremely busy bunch of musicians, and even with so many side projects going on within the band they are still very dedicated to their roles in Will Haven! They are already working on new material, and as well as this they are hitting this years Hevy Fest!” Your new album came out at the start of this year/late last year, so at this point how happy are you with the reception it has received so far? Absolutely, I don’t think we were too worried about the reception going into making this record, we just wanted to make a record we were completely happy with, something that shows progression and growth from the band, so when we finished we were excited with the way it came out, I was hoping will haven fans would like it but it’s been a while since we have put out a record so we weren’t sure what the reception was going to be, it has been awesome though, all the reviews I have seen have been very positive and it made a lot of top records of the year list, so we were really happy with the response.
How did you get to the album title 'Voir Dire' and what did you want your fans to take from the title? I think coming up with a title for the record and artwork is harder then actually writting the songs..I had a few names in mind but Grady emailed me one day and was thinking of calling it Voir Dire. I liked it right away. That word has multiple meanings but the meaning I took from it was ‘to speak the truth’. To me will haven has always been an honest band, our music has always been from the heart and nothing fake about it, so that word to me fit with this record because it came from an honest place. I think it’s a great name for a record, Grady is really good at coming up with stuff like that.
We've read that you guys are now working on some new material, so can you tell us a bit about how this is coming along so far, and maybe a bit about the direction of your new music? Yeah we are in the very early stages of working on new stuff, It took us a few years to make the last record because even when we finished a song we would go back and work on it and try to make it better, so it’s a long process, I find that I have an idea and after we work on it and come up with new parts it turns out completely different then I envisioned, which is a good thing. So I’m not sure how this new record will sound, I know it will be heavy and euphoric but the cool thing is not knowing how it will turn out until we walk out of the studio with a complete record. I know I’m excited to get back into it though, will haven is definitely a fun band to write music for. I always love seeing what we will come up with next.
'Voir Dire' did get a great response from both fans and critics, so do things like this ever add pressure to the recording/writing process for the next release? No not to us, we started will haven with the thought of making music we would love to hear ourselves, we never thought about doing anything else other than recording a record and maybe playing a show. We were more than suprised when we got such a good response on our first record, so every record we are happy if the response is good but really we are just trying to make music that we are happy with, songs that we would love to play live and that push the envelope a little bit. You are going to have people that love it and people that hate it so you really just have to make music for yourself. I think our fans are awesome, they are music scholars, when I talk to people who like will haven they usually have an awesome catalog of music, so there is no pressure, I think we just like to challange ourselves and that’s where the pressure might come from.
It hasn't been too long since the release of the last album, so with this in mind what made you guys want to get back in to the writing/recording process so soon? Well music is my life, even if I’m home watching TV I have a guitar in my hand, so I’m constantly writting. I guess I’m getting older and I want to keep making music while I have the chance with these guys. Also it took a few years to make that last record and if we want people to remember who we are we can’t wait around that long again. So it’s always good to have ideas and structures for things to work on, I find that if you really take your time you can make a great record, if you rush it then I always find that there are things I wish I could have done different, so it will take time but I want to get the ideas started so we can hopefully create a better record than our previous. I don’t think there is anything better than creating music,
“Will haven is definitely a fun band to write music for. I always love seeing what we will come up with next” What else have you guys been up to this year so far then, I mean you have a handful of side projects in the band as well so have these also been busy? Yeah the guys in will haven have definitely been busy. Anthony ( our second guitar player) has a side band called Horseneck. They put out an EP and are in the process of finishing their full length record this month, on top of that they have been playing a lot of shows, they are a really good band so I’m looking forward to hearing their new record. I have been working on a new project called Goodbye Black Sky. It has a few guys in it from will haven (mitch/drummer and Adrien/keyboards) and a good friend of mine Sean Bivins on second guitar. It’s something I have wanted to do for a while and now it’s coming together, I’m pretty excited about it. We are just about done writting and we are hoping to get into the studio within the next month or so. Both Horseneck and Goodbye Black Sky have the will haven influence for sure but both bands are adding something unique to it, I think people will like both of those projects who are fans of will haven. As for Chris (will haven bass player/ Slipknot percussion) he is going back out with Slipknot this summer for a US tour. So he will have a busy summer as well. So yeah we are keeping busy but at the same time we always have will haven on our minds and are excited to get back to that as well.
In a sort of reference to the last question, how much do these side projects effect the tour/writing schedule within Will Haven? Well will haven unfortunately hasn’t been able to tour a lot these past couple of years, a lot of the guys now have families and jobs that keep them from being able to tour as much as we used to. We try to do as much as we can but nothing like we were able to do when we were younger. so at this point will haven is just a project that we love and know we can go to to write the heaviest stuff we can think of. So as far as touring and stuff the side projects don’t hurt it a bit, I think that’s why these side projects were started because most of us want to tour and play live, so this is our chance to still get out there. As far as song writting I think it helps to have side projects, I know when I go back to will haven after working on other stuff I find I write better songs for will haven, it always seems to be darker and heavier. So to me it’s a good thing, yeah the side stuff does take away my complete attention to will haven but at the same time I think I need that break to start a clean slate for will haven. I get pretty excited when I know I have to put everything into will haven, it’s a fun project to pour into.
Can you tell us a bit about how your latest line up member Chis Fehn (Slipknot) ended up being a part of the band? Chris and I have been good friends for well over ten years now. Will Haven was asked to tour with Slipknot on their first record, so on that tour we all became really close. I stayed close to those guys ever since and would talk to Chris a few times a week. We would always talk about starting a side project together but Slipknot just kept getting more and more busy so it never happend. After the All Hope is Gone tour they decided to take a long break and I told Chris we were just starting to write a new will haven record, so the timing was perfect because our bass player had just moved away and we needed someone to fill that spot. He was excited about it and flew out and stayed with me. We finished up writting and went into the studio and did the record. He helped out a lot with ideas and helped make that record. He is one of my best friends and I was more than happy he was a part of the family. I am a big Slipknot fan so I would love to see those guys keep making records and playing live but I don’t think I would ever replace Chris on bass as long as he wants to be in the band. He is a pro.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Hevy Fest, and what should attending fans expect? Yeah we are more than excited to play Hevy Fest. This will be our first proper UK festival, something we have always wanted to play but never got the chance, so we are more than excited. To be able to play with our friends in Converge is pretty awesome to. I don’t think you will get a better hour of music than that right there. I know we will play our hearts out and then you have Converge on top of that, so the world might end right there haha.. We are looking foward to seeing everyone and we do have a pretty cool suprise for all of the old school will haven fans...it’s not a song either... What else does 2012 hold for Will Haven? We are hoping to do a few more shows, maybe a small tour in the US or UK/Europe, but mostly we want to keep working on new music. I’m hoping to get our side projects out there and play some shows as well. I know we will both have records coming out by the fall. So just keeping busy but will haven will be back with a new record sometime early next year and we are pretty excited about that..
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Interview with Mike
"With recognition from Geoff Rickly (Thursday) and tours already completed with Converge and Coheed & Cambria, this simply confirms that if you have not done so already, then you need to check this band out right now!â€? How did you guys get to the name Pianos Become The Teeth, and what does it mean to you as a band? It was a name that our old drummer came up with, probably in about 2006/2007 and it just stuck. We thought about changing it when all the new dudes joined the band in about 2008, but we just never got around to it.
With The Lack Long After now out in the world, how happy have you been with the response from fans so far? It's been amazing! We didn't know what to expect when we were writing and recording it, but everyone has been amazingly supportive of everything.
You even got recognition from Geoff Rickly (Thursday) so what was that like for you guys? That was especially awesome because we have all looked up to Thursday as a band for forever, and couldn't have been more honored to have them recognize what we have done since they are one of the reasons we play the style of music that we do.
The artwork for The Lack Long After is really cool, so could you tell us a bit about how it all came together? The artwork is a reenactment of Kyle's dad laying in bed when he was bedridden from his MS. The mirror used to stay in his window so he could look outside and see the backyard since he couldn't get up.
What songs are you enjoying performing the most of your new album at the moment and why? We just started playing Shared Bodies live, and the last break of that song is a ton of fun to play live. But really, anything from this new record has been awesome to play live.
What was it like to tour with Converge and how rewarding/interesting was this for your band? It was awesome to play a few shows with them! They were awesome guys, and obviously another dream come true for our band since we all look up to them so much as well.
â€œWe have all looked up to Thursday as a band for forever, and couldn't have been more honored to have them recognize what we have doneâ€? As well as Converge, you guys got to tour with Coheed & Cambria, can you tell us how this tour came together and a bit about how the tour went? It was a great experience for us because it pushed us out of our comfort zone, and that was one of the best things about it. Some nights were harder than others but all in all we were really thankful to have been a part of it. Coheed and their entire crew were amazing, and were super helpful whenever we needed it. Definitely couldn't thank them enough for taking us out and giving us an awesome experience.
We've read that you guys have already started to work on some new material so with this in mind can you tell us a bit about what to expect with the direction of the music? We aren't even sure yet! We are excited to start writing and to just see what comes out. I'm sure it'll still sound like us, but we are always open to try and grow as a band as well. So we will see!
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Hevy Fest and what should attending fans expect? We are beyond stoked to play. It's going to be an amazing festival to be a part of. We are going to try and play as many songs as we can in our time slot, so just come out and hang with us!
What else does 2012 hold for Pianos Become The Teeth? Probably just a lot more touring and seeing places we haven't gotten a chance to see yet!
Interview with Dani
"Their brand new album 'The Union Of Crowns' has just been released, and the band are also set for a slot at this years Hevy Fest! These are certainly crazy, yet exciting times for the dudes in Bury Tomorrow!" What was it like to tour with Of Mice And Men earlier on in the year, and what do you think you guys learnt the most from this experience? It was great, we had a lot of fun. Those guys are amazing people and were a pleasure to tour with. I really think we learnt how big some of our singles had got as we were blown away with the response.
How did you end up signing with Nuclear Blast and how has this been for you guys so far? It was a fairly quick process, we sent them some instrumental demos a while back and they immediately came back with a proposal, we are a band that loves loyalty and the fact they had so much faith meant it was kind of a no brainer signing with them over other labels. It has been great and Iâ€™m sure it will continue to be.
So what can fans expect from your upcoming record 'Union Of Crowns' ? They can expect to hear us pushing ourselves to the extremes of our strengths, the light sides becoming lighter and the heavy sides becoming heavier. We have come out with a more modern and more mature approach this time.
How did you get to the album title 'Union Of Crowns' and what do you want it to mean to your fans? The union of crowns was the coming together of sovereignties forming The united kingdom, we want it to represent the feeling of a union with our fans. We are proud to be where we are from and we want others to feel the same.
How would you say this record compares to your prior release 'Portraits' ? I believe it is just a more mature version of it. Since portraits we have toured the world and gained so many new influences and experiences. It is Bury Tomorrow right now and the sound we will continue for the future.
What was it like to record at Ridgeway Sound Studio, and how was this whole process? It was amazing, we recorded Royal Blood the single there and it came out awesome, so we knew it was where we wanted to go for the full length. The guys at Ridgeway were incredibly accommodating and we powered through to get the best result we could.
“Our fan base is everything to us, it’s our driving force and we would be nothing without them” The artwork for Union Of Crowns is really cool, so can you tell us a bit about who came up with the idea, and how it all came together? Jon Barmby did the artwork for Union of Crowns, we really just gave him the theme we wanted and he ran with it. The collage effect came out so well we were stoked straight away.
We've read that you guys have a very committed fan base, for example we discovered that you have a fan who has attended over 60 of your shows? So with this in mind, how rewarding is it to have such an awesome fan base? Our fan base is everything to us, it’s our driving force and we would be nothing without them. We are lucky that through everything we have a lot of people that have been with Bury Tomorrow since we started touring and it still blows our mind.
How do you think the UK music scene has changed since you guys first started out? I think it’s just matured, obviously there are phases and different genres that come and go but I also think heavy/metal music is becoming so much more acceptable and almost mainstream by being played on mainstream radio, this wouldn't have happened when we first started for sure.
What else does 2012 hold for Bury Tomorrow? We are going to try and play to as many BT fans, in as many countries as possible, we want to tour the world.
Interview with Maud
"The James Cleaver Quintet are having an insane summer, they've performed with Limp Bizkit, hit Download Festival and as well as this they are even working on a new album, Awesome times!â€? How did you guys get to the name 'The James Cleaver Quintet'? We used a Ouija board which told us we had to sacrifice a cat on top of Battersea power station. It was actually written in braille on the cat's bladder.
For those that may be unfamiliar with you guys, can you tell us a bit about what your band sounds like? We kind of sound like lots of things you love, and some things you hate, all rolled into one thing that's better than anything in that list. Bands that have influenced us I guess would be Be Your Own Pet, Dead Kennedys, Blood Brothers etc.
How did you guys end up on Hassle Records and how has this been for you guys so far? We've been in contact with Hassle since our E.P came out and it just seemed like the right time, and also the right logical step for us to sign with them. They're great guys to work with, real genuine and really passionate about music which is exactly why we chose to go with them.
Your first album has received a fantastic response from both fans and critics, so how has this whole experience been for you as a band? Thank you, it's been great to finally get out a body of work that we're really proud of. The whole album took us a year to complete because of various other commitments we had such as working jobs etc, so when we did eventually get it released it was a huge moment for us and probably one that we're the most proud of.
What was it like to play with Limp Bizkit, and how was this whole experience for you? The Limp Bizkit show was great. They're one of the bands we all grew up listening to, and to support them was a huge honour. Stepping out in-front of 5000 people was ridiculous and I don't think we'll forget that moment in a hurry. The guys in that band were top blokes too. We hung out for a bit after and had a few drinks with them. It was fun.
Also, you guys just played Download Festival, how was that for you guys, and what do you think you learnt the most from this experience? Download was also incredible. The crowd was great and everyone got involved despite the bad weather on the previous days. I think we learnt that super-gluing your bass together thirty minutes before you go on stage rarely works out and it's something we'll be trying to avoid in the future.
How did you guys get involved with the Lucozade advert, and how was this for you? We just got a call one day saying "can you guys skate because Lucozade need a band for an advert" and we just figured why not. Then we went through like four or five auditions, some of them they'd email us a song we had to learn in the morning, then we'd figure it out and demo a version in the afternoon, then spend the evening 'til the early morning practicing it and then we got up at the crack of dawn to drive to London and play it. It's the hardest we've ever worked as a band in such a short space of time but it paid off. The whole experience was completely surreal and definitely one we can tell the grand-kids about.
â€œStepping out in-front of 5000 people was ridiculous and I don't think we'll forget that moment in a hurryâ€? You guys covered a Feeder song in the advert, so how did this go down with your fan base, as this is different to what you guys do? With our own fan-base I think they understood that we had absolutely no part in selecting that song as it's completely different to the style of music we play. We tried to put our own spin on it but unfortunately when we went into the studio to record it, we had no idea what song we would be recording until that very morning, and then we only had a few hours to work it out and try to do a decent version of it before we had to start putting it onto record. I think if we could have spent more time on it we could have done a better version that sounded more like us, but that's just the way these things go.
What would you say has been the hardest experience for you this year as a band, and why? That's a tough question as we've been relatively quiet with shows this year, we've mostly been writing for the next album but I think the hardest experience I can think of right now would be when our van broke down on the way to a charity show we were playing and we had to push it uphill for like two miles to the nearest garage. Thankfully the guys in the garage took pity when we explained it was a charity show and fixed it free of charge.
How excited are you for Hevy Fest, and what should attending fans expect? We're really, really keen for Hevy this year. The line up looks better than ever and it's great that they haven't given into pressure and just booked neanderthal-mosh-hardcore bands like some other festivals do, not to say that there aren't a few there, but mostly the quality of music is fucking great and we're really privileged to be a part of it. I guess from us they can expect a lot of energy, a lot of sweat, and possibly some blood depending on how clumsy Jimmy is feeling. But from the whole festival, I think it's a great showcase of bands that prove you can be face-smashingly-heavy whilst still being innovative without losing any integrity.
What else does 2012 hold for The James Cleaver Quintet? We're going to be getting up and down the country as much as we can whilst writing our second record and recording it at the end of the year, so you can definitely expect a few new songs by then.
Interview with Jimmy "They've just come of a tour with The Wonder Years, and their new album 'Clash Battle Guilt Pride' is fantastic. Currently the band are on the verge of performing at the huge Reading/Leeds Festival, so what are you waiting for? Get involved and discover the brilliant Polar Bear Club" So how did your recent tour go with The Wonder Years, The Story So Far, Transit, Into It. Over It. and do you have any cool memories from the tour that you can share? The tour was one of a kind. It was cool because you could tell that kids at the show thought it was special too, to see these bands together. It was such a tour of "yes". Everyone was just down to do stuff together all the time. On April fools day we played in Mesa, Arizona and we thought it would be hilarious if every band played one song twice in a row in their set. Every band was super down to do it and it was hilarious. Kids started to catch on and would go even crazier for the second time you played the song. Great tour.
How excited are you to be playing Vans Warped Tour in America in June? Super excited. Last time we played warped we had like four bands we were friends with and hung with all the time, this year there's about twelve. It's going to be insane. All these bands have never been in the same place at the same time. I'm nervous.
You are touring in Europe and the UK in August, how excited you are for the upcoming tour and what should attending fans expect? We haven't been since November and that was a support tour for Rise Against. We're looking forward to playing clubs again over there on the new record. We're looking forward to sweating on you and going crazy. Expect to die.
So looking back now, how happy are you with the response 'Clash Battle Guilt Pride' has received from your fan base? Really happy. It was exactly what we wanted it to be. Slightly new and slightly old in terms of our sound. People got that too and respond to those songs a lot. We couldn't ask for more.
What songs are you enjoying performing live the most of your latest album 'Clash Battle Guilt Pride' and why? I love playing "Pawner" live so much. It's a really different song for us and it's cool to see how kids react to it. It's just kind of a new moment in our set so it's refreshing in that sense but I think it's a song that exemplifies a lot of what our band is about.
Does your setlist at festivals differ much from that of your own shows? A little bit. Our sets are shorter at festivals so we really just try to bang ya know? Play as much as we can and keep it up beat. Most festivals are outside and during the middle of the day, slow shit doesn't seem to work as well in that environment.
â€œAfter the tours we're going to do a lot of writing and get into a new record. We've got some material floating around alreadyâ€? Do you prefer doing small performaces or festival slots? Both are good for different reasons really. But we feel most like a band when we're doing small performances. The crowd response is right there, there's no interpreting it, it's just obvious. Fests are good though too just different.
How excited are you for your upcoming festival slots at Reading and Leeds Festival? That's going to be great. We haven't played that fest in a while and going back is going to be really cool. It's just such a different fest than most. It's Reading and Leeds, it's a big deal.
What bands are you most looking forward to sharing the stage with at Reading/Leeds festival? Foo Fighters. I probably won't watch their whole set because I heard they play for like three hours but I've never seen them so it will be cool.
2012 is looking to be a busy year for you guys already, so what else is in store for the future? After the tours we're going to do a lot of writing and get into a new record. We've got some material floating around already and we're all jonesing to get new stuff out there. It'll be a while but we're really happy with what we have so far.
Interview with Joe Tilston
"These guys are one of the most hard working Ska bands in the UK, I mean every time we see what these guys are up to, they are either on the road, or prepping for a new release, they just don't stop! So if you love your Ska-core, then you are in the right place, because Random Hand know how itâ€™s done!â€? So last year you played your 1000th show which must have been a proud moment and now you have exceeded that of course, how does it feel to have played so many gigs? Comprehending the fact we have played so many gigs in our time as a band fills you with so many different feelings. Pride is just as predominant as anxiety, fatigue seems as inset as invincibility. It really is a mixed bag. Over all though we couldn't and wouldn't have done it any other way. We have and are having such an amazing adventure.
Out of all the shows you have played, do any stand out in particular to you and if so why? Getting to go and play places like Russia and Canada, and having people scream and sing your lyrics at you are the things that validate all your hard work and sacrifice of the normal life. We've been lucky enough to go to Moscow twice, the first time, the venue we played got flooded during the gig so it was moved outside into the snow which was both surreal and amazing. never going to forget that.
You recently played Slam Dunk Festival, how was the experience for you? We've played Slam Dunk four times now. Every other time there has been a huge contingent of bands from our 'scene' this year was nothing like that. we knew more crew than we did band members, which had us on the back foot. We didn't have the confidence that we had in previous years to expect a full room and a banging crowd. But we were wrong to doubt it. It was fantastic! a special thanks should go to the catering people, the food was awesome!
Your celebrating your 10th year in style by playing Reading and Leeds Festival, how excited are you to be playing these festivals? Playing these festivals are the reason why bands like us form. We're so lucky to be invited back to these things. The support from Mike Davies has been so crucial for a band like us, and we can not thank him enough.
So recently in April 2012 you parted ways with your guitarist, Matt Crosher, when will you be announcing the new guitarist? We already have, it's a chap called Dan Walsh from Chief. We didn't see the point in a fan-fair and big announcement. we just mentioned it had happened and got on with things. There is a lot of emotions running riot and raw wounds at present so we didn't want to rub any salt. There is no easy or right way to deal with these things. So we just kept as much of it as possible on the down-low.
How has it been so far playing live without Matt? It's been great. there are obviously big differences in personality but it all seems to be working fine, it sounds great and we're having fun.
In October your doing a headline UK tour, what can fans attending expect to see? I think you can expect to hear a few tracks that havenâ€™t had much of an airing in recent years. Having to choose a set from three albums is not an easy thing to do, and for the most part we have chosen the safe songs. So it will be good to mix things up and see what people think of the rest of our songs live. Saying that though, all the bangers will still be there!
As this is a big year for you guys, will you be doing anything special at your gigs to mark this? It is a special year in some respects, but itâ€™s a huge year of change for us. Things happening as they have with Matt have left myself and Robin feeling as though the whole "ten years" thing means a lot less now. It would be a bit wrong for us to make a big song and dance about it right now.
What songs do you enjoy performing the most? Itâ€™s so hard to choose now. The songs that we enjoy playing change every week. Songs like 'scum triumphant' and 'play some ska' have been in the set so long that sometimes I'd happily never play them again, then others I'm the complete opposite with and can not wait for the set to get to it. But at the moment pretty much everything of seething is believing is a pleasure to play.
You released your latest album, "Seething is Believing" in March 2011..have you started working on any new material, and if not, when do you think you will? No writing has occurred in the practice room yet, there were a few failed attempts at the back end of last year. But a lot has changed since then. I expect this summer we'll start to see some serious writing.
As you have been together for 10 years now, how would you say the dynamics of the band have changed if at all? The band has evolved a great deal. Our third album pretty much gives a fully distilled account of what we set out to be. Where our first album sounds like four people trying to work out how they work together, obviously the change in people also effects this. With the recent change there is no telling what will happen with the fourth album, but we're very aware that it needs to be different to seething but at the same time not alienate anyone. It's going to be an interesting process.
What plans do you have for the rest of year and do you have any other goals as a band you would like to achieve? This year started off and will finish being the year Random Hand rested. We're not consumed with drive and ambition for the first time in a long time. We just want to have fun and rock out. who knows what that will mean for 2013. But a lot can be said for a change and a rest and the effect that could have on everything
"With their fantastic debut album 'London' now out in the world, and an upcoming slot confirmed on the lock up stage at this years Reading/Leeds Festival, it does indeed look like 'Apologies, I have none' are ones to watch out for!" Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Apologies, I Have None? Dan and I started Apologies about five or six years ago just as a drums and guitar setup. We'd been procrastinating for a long time regarding getting something going and eventually a few things led to us getting our shit together enough to do it. After a few years we realised we could be much better if we got some more people in the band so I switched to guitar and we got a bassist and drummer. A lot of people think we started out as an acoustic duo but this isn't really the case at all. We did do this occasionally, especially at open mic nights around London in the very early days as we weren't getting booked often for gigs, but this was still only the minority of shows we played, the majority being full drum and amps affairs.
So it's been a couple of months now since the release of 'London' so at this point how happy are you with the response it has received so far from both fans and critics? Very happy, it's been pretty much all very positive. When you're writing songs you don't really consider how they might be received, you just write the best songs you can and record them as well as you're able to. When it comes time to release the record though, there is a feeling of - shit, I hope people like this. No one wants to be told that something that they've put all their time and effort into isn't any good but luckily we've mostly managed to avoid this.
What was the recording process like for 'London' ? We recorded with Pete Miles at his studio in Devon. He's well known as being very good at what he does, especially within punk/rock type stuff and he's done a lot of records that we've all liked so it seemed like quite an obvious decision to us to see if we could record with him. We were there for two weeks and it was quite stressful at times, especially for Dan and I as neither of us are particularly good at, or massively enjoy recording. We demoed everything up countless times before going to Pete's and I thought we had every minor detail ironed out, but once we actually started to record everything for real it seemed like we were second guessing all these details and couldn't quickly come to decisions on how things should be, so there was quite a bit of going back and forth on stuff. Pete's experience really helped in these situations as he forced us to make decisions and move on. It was good though and we're all happy with how the album came out.
The artwork (front/back) for 'London' is really great, can you tell us a bit about what the idea was behind it, and how it all came together? The artwork was done by emiloumakes.co.uk who has done all our previous artwork. With the album being called 'London' she based all the illustrations around key points in London, either places that are mentioned in the songs, or places that have particular relevance to the band. It's quite dark and gloomy which seems to fit in well with most peoples view of London as a city, but brightens up on the inside cover which is fitting I think to how us as a band view London. The lettering is taken from my guitar cab which I sprayed a few years ago to make it seem like I was more of a big deal than I am.
You guys have been compared to Against Me! but what do you guys think about this comparison, are you happy with that or? Yeah I'm happy with that. We love Against Me! and when we first started Apologies they were a big influence on Dan and I so it's definitely a fair comparison. With our more recent stuff there is less of a similarity but I think some people will probably still make that comparison and that's fine.
What bands would you say have influenced you in the writing and recording process for 'London'? So many it's hard to really say but for the songs I wrote there were at least a few things I was aware of when writing them. I love the vocal melodies that Brian Fallon comes up with, they're very classic sounding and obviously influenced heavily by timeless rock and pop songs and I very much wanted to get some of that in. Grade is a very big influence, there is a sort of desperation in their sound that I definitely wanted to steal, particularly Kyle Bishop's vocals. It's hard to describe but it's almost like an angsty urgency (I can't really find better words to describe it), I'm not too sure how much filtered into our songs but it was certainly a factor. I've been listening to a lot of Ghetts for the past few years and that has had a big influence I think. Some of the stuff he does lyrically is just outstanding and the way he constructs sentences, sits on rhymes, and pushes or pulls a line by the rhythm he delivers it with just blows my mind at times. The second verse of '60 Miles' where everything cuts out and just the vocals come in was completely lifted from Ghetts' verse on a song called 'Hunting We Will Go' from Kano's 140 Grime St album. Dan was listening to a lot of big female pop singers while writing the record, stuff like Beyonce and Adele. I think that that comes across quite a bit on 'London' as a lot of the choruses are poppy and quite 'big' sounding.
What tour have you enjoyed the most since your formation and why? We've done a lot of good tours with great bands (Crazy Arm, Great Cynics, Sam Russo to name a few) but I think my favourite tour was with I Am The Avalanche, mainly because I learned so much from watching them each night that I felt we became a much better band from doing the tour. They play with a kind of intensity that I rarely see when watching a lot of bands, and it's real. That's not to say that all bands need to play in this way, for instance the bands that I mentioned earlier all do what they do amazingly, and are great because of the way they excel in their styles, but it's the intense passion that got me with I Am The Avalanche, it's what I want to come across with Apologies and touring with them brought us closer to that.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot on the Lock Up Stage? We're very excited. I used to go to Reading when I was quite a lot younger but I haven't been for many years due to never having enough money so I'm very excited about just being able to be there as a punter, but getting to play it is just amazing. We're playing first so attending 'fans' should probably expect to have a headache if they've gotten up early from the night before to see us, and possibly ringing ears as I think we're going to take the opportunity of playing on a large stage to turn our amps up as loud as possible.
What else does 2012 hold for you guys? We are touring the UK and Europe in September/October with a band from the US called Joyce Manor which we can't wait for. Our long time friends Bangers are along for the UK leg of that also which makes it even better. We are going to be sorting out a new video very soon with the same person who did the Clapton Pond one, so I'm sure that will be good. We're also trying to work out some new stuff to record, so hopefully we'll have something else out by the end of the year but we'll have to see how that goes. Lastly we'll be going back into Europe again around November time and then possibly some more UK shows to end the year with in December.
Interview with Chris
â€œEven though Daybreak has not been out for that long, the band are already working on some new material! So read on to find out what Saves The Day are up to right now!â€? After a number of line-up changes and the release of Daybreak (2011), is it safe to say that the Saves The Day we know right now is here to stay? Yes most definitely. After a decade of constant change, I have finally found bandmates that I admire and respect both as people and as musicians. It feels good to smile at each other on stage.
Also, was there a point when you first got this new line up together that you were worried it might not work, or was it just a natural process? It's always been a natural process. When a band member departs the group, I hope to find a more competent musician to fill the spot. I don't worry about it though because it's blatantly obvious when someone lacks talent and it's only a matter of time till you find the person that really knocks you out. I have been incredibly lucky to find better and better musicians to play with over the years, and now I get to play with the ones I consider to be the best.
Can you explain the long delay between the release of Under the Boards in 2007 and Daybreak? Waiting for the right musicians! I parted ways with a guitar player in 2008 as we were about to begin demos for Daybreak and then I needed to find a replacement so the demo process was brought to a halt. Then in 2009, we had a few tours that took us away from the studio, and at the end of that stretch, our rhythm section left to go back to their old band and the process stalled again as we switched gears to find new bandmates. After another tour or two and finding the other two members, we finally got down to business in 2010 to record the album. Once it was finished, we had to find a label and once we found a label we had to wait for their promotion and marketing ideas to unfold and then finally after more than three years of waiting, the album was released in 2011.
So with Daybreak now out in the world, how happy are you with the reception the album has received so far from your fan base? It feels great getting such positive feedback from our fans and new listeners. Obviously, I would make the music even if there were no one listening, but it is a miracle and a true gift in my life that others connect with my songs and lyrics. It is an inspiration for me and a constant reminder of our shared humanity. Under the surface we are all so alike.
Can you tell us about the single letter titles within the record, I mean, how did you come up with this idea, and what did you want your fans to take from it? Yes the letters! What fun. I won't say much but I will tell you that I'm fascinated by letters and numbers and primal symbolism and what it all meant to early mankind. There may be an esoteric way of reading the original Greek alphabet but of these things I know very little. Do they still have libraries? The answers lie with the ancients.
You recently announced plans to release a new record – can you tell us anything about this just yet? I'm working eight hours a day in the studio crafting new songs. As of now, I have 34 songs sketched out and I've started the demo process for my favorite 11. I can't remember a time when I've had more fun with music. The songs I've chosen to further develop are upbeat and strange but beautiful and hooky.
Do you see the sound of Saves The Day taking a different direction in the future? I think the band will always evolve. I lose interest playing the same thing over and over so I'm constantly looking to surprise myself by finding new chords, trying new instruments, or exploring new sounds. I'm working constantly and when you spend so much time doing something, you find new ways to keep yourself engaged. I also do this because I love music and not for the love of fame, so I'm not searching for the most successful formula, I'm searching for my own amazement. I hope the journey never ends.
So many bands which are considered or consider themselves “pop-punk” state Saves the Day as an influence – what do you think of “pop-punk” as a genre and where would you place Saves The Day? As a genre, I think "pop-punk" is ok but I listen to The Damned. When I was younger, Jawbreaker and Green Day were the only bands I liked that were almost sort of "pop-punk" but I didn't listen to any of that SoCal "poppunk" with the fast beats and the slick harmonies. It sounded too safe to me and I like music that's exciting and strange. Saves The Day fit into that world of music quite well because of our catchy sound and upbeat songs, but the lyrics were more intense than most "pop-punk" bands, so we were branded with "emo" since we never quite fit the SoCal mold, and we found kinship with hardcore bands and indie rockers.
You’re playing Reading and Leeds Festivals this summer as well as Merthyr Rock towards the end of Summer and you also have some UK tour dates planned – when were you last in the UK and how excited are you for your upcoming UK shows? We were in the UK with Yellowcard around Christmas and we absolutely can't wait to come back. Last time in London, we played a sold-out gig with Yellowcard then raced over for an all-request acoustic set at a pub across town. It was the best night of my life in this band. Playing the festivals will be a blast.
With such an incredible history and with a name which holds such influence, what does the future hold for Saves The Day? More music more touring wash rinse repeat. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love and it's all because of our wonderful fans. If I am gifted a lifetime as a musician, it is them that I can thank, and it is with them that I will share my songs until the day I die.
Interview with Buddy
"Follow Your Bliss highlights the end of an era for Senses Fail and it does a fine job of summing up some of their greatest tracks since day one! At the same time though, it also marks a new beginning as we get to hear four brand new tracks! So of course, this only excites us for what the future holds!"
You recently released War Paint which is a fantastic track, can you tell us a bit more about the theme/story behind the song? I wanted to write a song about getting older as a band and losing that connection with fans. Also the idea that your new music will never live up to your old music in the eyes of your fans. It basically starts off about sort of losing the love you once had for making music and being in a band because there are standards that people hold you to but ultimately the song resolves as a catharsis. Going through the negative emotions about trying to make music for other people will ultimately leave a sour taste in your mouth but in the end you have to make it for the love of it and that is what I do.
How did you go about deciding that you wanted to do an extra four track EP for your greatest hits record? Well we didn't want to just put out old songs. We lost a key writer in the band over the last couple of years and wanted to show that we have progressed and matured even without our original song writer.
Are the new tracks also a pointer as to what direction your music will go in the future? Yes the next record will be more a mix of hardcore and punk and less of what we have done in the past.
What's it been like to record these new tracks with the addition of Zack Roach and Matt Smith? Awesome, they both killed it. Zack is truly a great guitar player and he brings so much to the table. The same goes for Matt Smith, he is solid as well and his experience with Strike Anywhere brings a different approach which really makes things fun.
You guys also recorded with Brian McTernan again, so can you tell us a bit about what he brings to the recording process for you guys? Yeah we did. He's a great friend and has been the glue that has held this band together for some many years. He has saved our ass on multiple ocassions and really pushed us to be a better band.
What does putting out a greatest hits record mean to you, does it sort of feel like your closing a chapter and starting a new beginning, or does it maybe mean something else to you? Actually I haven't thought about it like that but it sort of is. This sort of closes the chapter on what the band has been for ten years. The people who were a part of it are mostly all gone and their experiences and influence on the band are no longer there. That part of the journey is over and the years ahead are going to be as exciting as it was when I was 18.
How would you say you approach a record now as a writer compared to when you did something like 'Life Is Not a Waiting Room'? I am much more open and understand that simplicity takes just as much technique as complicated prose. My job is to say some complex in the easiest way possible. I used to want to bite of more than I could chew and now I feel I can be more direct and it gives me that satisfaction.
With ten years now completed as Senses Fail, how do you guys go about keeping it fresh/new in the studio? Well we are going to be working with a different producer on the new record and we are going to be going in a different direction.
How do you feel the alternative music scene has changed since you started out? I love it. I think music is better today than it was ten years ago. It sounds better, it is more complete and I feel the bands right now have really started something cool, a new scene if you will. To not be accepting of current musical trends is what can hold you back as you get older.
Also, with ten years now achieved, where would you like to see your band ten years from now? Doing the same thing and being just as excited about it.
Interview with Matthew Taylor
"Every album from Motion City Soundtrack is awesome, they all show a perfect progression from the record before, and this can at times be a hard task to accomplish for bands. Their brand new record 'GO' has now been released, and it has already received a great response from both fans and critics! So..let's find out all about it!" How did you come to the decision to sign back with your long-time label Epitaph? It felt right. We always felt at home there. Brett (Gurewitz, President) has always felt like our cool older brother and Epitaph has always felt like his cool apartment where we could hang out and be ourselves. After our 1st contract with Epitaph was completed, we signed a deal with Columbia and rather than hold a grudge or be upset with us, Brett offered us a home back at Epitaph at any point in the future. That meant a lot to us, so we chose to go back.
My Dinosaur Life displayed a more experimental sound than the records preceding it, can we expect this to carry forward on 'Go'? That's hard to say. I think you can always expect new sounds from us. We never want to go back into the studio and make the same record as the last. As technology continues to change and as new connections are made, we'll always acquire new sounds and talented people to help us push things a little further.
Is there a deeper meaning behind the album title 'Go'? We don't like to tell people meanings of things because sometimes that takes the fun out of the listening process. But, I think that there is a deeper meaning. If you really listen to the mood and lyrics of the album, you'll notice a lot of very human elements. This is our most human record in my opinion. I mean that on a playing, recording, and a lyrical level. What I mean by that is that our playing isn't perfect, the recording is more spontaneous and non-edited, and the lyrics deal heavily with life, death, love, loss, and other human level things. But all of these together feel really nice to me. It feels very real.
“We write what comes to us and Go is what showed up this time. The next record may be a whole different experience.” Can you give us the story behind the track "True Romance"? The idea for True Romance was born in the UK when Josh started strumming the main guitar part. I liked what I heard so i recorded it on my laptop and added a few sounds. I saved the file and basically forgot about it until the end of the Go recording session. We had worked on the song for weeks during our writing and recording session and couldn't get it to where we were happy with it. Usually at the end of sessions, Josh and I take inventory of all of the songs that we've recorded and panic and feel like we need another good song and sift through all of our demos and ideas. I found the original True Romance file hidden away on a hard drive and sent it to Josh the night before Tony, our drummer, had to leave town. We went into the studio the next morning and decided to have him track drums to a song he'd never played. It ended up being our first single. Lyrically, I believe the song is about "doing the nasty" - in a sweet way, of course.
From what we’ve heard so far, 'Go' seems more upbeat and positive than the Motion City Soundtrack fans are used to – is this what you were going for? We're not going for anything. We write what comes to us and Go is what showed up this time. The next record may be a whole different experience.
The band has also started its own record label, the Boombox Generation – how did this come about and what role has it played in the production and release of Go? The idea of starting a label came up last year when we had left Columbia and were contemplating the future. We decided that we wanted to start The Boombox Generation as an open-ended, anything-goes type of thing. We're still not sure what will be released or created on it, but we like knowing that we can release things that we like in the future.
You were on the bill for Slam Dunk Festival – how did that go? Do you guys enjoy playing in the UK? Yes, we've always enjoyed playing the UK. The crowds have always been energetic and passionate about what we do. Slam Dunk was no exception. Schedule-wise festivals can be chaotic, but we've learned to embrace the chaos and enjoy it to the fullest.
Interview with Dustin
"When you get to tour Japan as a band, this is for most an unreal experience, and can at times show that your band is reaching out to a lot more people than you think. With The Punches have just come back from touring out there, so equipped with this amazing experience, and their new record 'Seams and Stitches' this can only show that these guys are well and truly ready to take on whatever comes next!" Can you tell us about the formation of With The Punches? Jesse moved back to NY in 2007 after his band in Austin, TX broke up, we'd always talked about starting a pop-punk band, so we started writing songs on acoustic guitar in my basement. We found Shane through a Myspace Music classified ad, and that was when the band actually became real. Shane brought his best friend Joe to play guitar. When Joe left we found Vinny through an ad on craigslist and Mike has been friends with Shane and Joe for years, so when we needed a bass player he fit right in with us.
How did you get to the name 'With The Punches' and what did you want it to mean to your fans? "With The Punches" came from the song "Roll With The Punches" by Carry On who are one of my favorite hardcore bands ever. It was just a phrase that resonated with all of us, we've all been playing in bands for years and had them fall apart for one reason or another, since we didn't really know how far we would be able to take the band we just named it something in reference to having watched bands fall apart and kept trying.
You guys recently got to tour Japan, how rewarding was this for you as a band, and what do you think you learnt the most from the tour? This years Beyond [The] Blue Tour was incredible, we did B[T]B last year with Mayday Parade so we were already friends with them, but Every Avenue, William Beckett, There For Tomorrow, Me Vs. Hero, Heroes For Hire, and Divided By Friday were all on the tour this year and everyone was rad, watching every band every night was a lot of fun. I think the thing that sticks out most from this tour was just how not one of the people in the bands treated anyone poorly or like they were above any of the other bands, it's awesome to be on a tour with bands from different scenes and at all different levels and everyone is cool and hangs out. Really cannot say enough good things about those dudes
How did you guys end up on Doghouse Records, and how has this been so far? Doghouse approached us last year about doing a record with them and everything has been really great, it's very different having someone do stuff for you when you are used to being on your own, but they have never put us in a position where we felt like we wanted to do one thing and they wanted us to do something else. They are really supportive of what we feel like is the best move for our band, and work to help us make that decision happen.
What are the main themes and influences that run through your upcoming record 'Seams and Stitches' ? I would say that if there was a singular theme to the record, it would be the idea that it's OK to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. Growing up in a punk rock and hardcore band there is a really strong emphasis put on staying positive, which is great and can be a really healthy thing, but if it becomes too prevalent, so much so that you aren't taking the time out to really deal with how you are feeling about life and what is happening, you run the risk of letting things pile up on you and then being crushed when the reality of the situation really sets in.
â€œIt's awesome to be on a tour with bands from different scenes and at all different levels and everyone is cool and hangs out. Really cannot say enough good things about those dudesâ€? How did you get to the title 'Seams and Stitches' and what does it mean to you personally? Jesse came up with the phrase Seams And Stitches when we were trying to pick a title for the record and it's funny because I don't think he actually intended for that to be the title. He was saying something along the lines of he thought the title should reflect how it's what's inside and what holds you together that actually makes something great and that while it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing aspect of something, it's really the only thing that matters...like the seams and stitches of your favorite shirt.
What else does 2012 hold for With The Punches? We have a few dates with Mixtapes, who we're really excited to hang with. Then we go out on the Property Of Zack Tour with Forever Came Calling and State Champs. We haven't gotten to spend a lot of time with Forever Came Calling but we love their band so I'm real stoked to get to watch them every night for a few weeks. After that we're still sort of looking around, we've been talking to our friends Me Vs. Hero about a possible UK Tour, it'll just be a matter of getting all the specifics together.
â€œFor those of you that saw Dave Hause perform on the Revival Tour or even the recent Alkaline Trio tour, you will know that this is one talented man! At the moment he has a lot going on, and he is even working on some material with Dan Andriano! So.. letâ€™s find out what else he has been up to!" So how/when did you go about deciding that you wanted to put out a solo record? I decided to do so when the Loved Ones started to get burnt out, in the spring of 2009. I didn't end up finishing the record till 2010 and released it in Feb of 2011.
Was it a strange process at the time, to tour/write for yourself without the guys in The Loved Ones? Not exactly, no. The songs came pretty easy, and when writing in the past with the Loved Ones, I wrote a lot of the material on my own and then brought mostly realized songs to the band.
Just recently you got to tour with Alkaline Trio here in the UK, how was this tour for you, and are there any particular memories that stand out to you the most from the tour? I had a blast. Those guys and their crew are old friends of mine, and I was riding on their bus with them, so it was really a fun, memorable time. The whole thing stood out as a great opportunity to play to their crowd as well as a great excuse to hang with my pals.
How cool was it to be back on the road so soon with Dan Andriano? Also, we've heard that you guys have started a band? What can you tell us about this? It was very cool, he's a dear friend that I ended up doing four different tours with over the course of the last year, so we've become really close. We have started a band, but haven't gotten too much further than the idea. We are both kicking around song ideas and will get together later this year.
So you are in the process of releasing a series of 7" records that feature newly recorded versions of your tracks of Resolutions as well as some covers, so can yo tell us a bit about how this idea came about, and why you wanted to do it as a series of releases? It was a really good idea I had, I'm not afraid to say it. Once I had the idea I just asked various friends at different labels and everyone was really accommodating and excited to be a part of it. It's been a really fun thing to do.
How come you wanted to re-record the tracks instead of putting what you've already done of Resolutions on the releases? I play the songs live with a single instrument, most times an acoustic, some electric, and every once in a while, on a piano. I wanted to do stripped down, re-arranged versions of the songs the way people have heard them in a live setting, and I think when you do that you can breathe new life into songs, making them more interesting over the long haul of your many years playing them.
All of these releases are put out on separate record companies, so can you tell us a bit about how this idea came about, and what you wanted to achieve by doing this? The obvious advantage is five different labels, who have five different audiences and five different teams working for them, all pushing my name out in to the world. I love all five labels and I feel like fans of my music understand that by covering tracks from each catalog, I'm paying tribute not only to the bands and songs I love, but also to the labels that supported those acts and helped form a distinct culture of their own. Most people bitch about labels, and often rightfully so, but with these five you have some pretty tremendous people with real passion for what they do involved, which is inspiring to see.
â€œI learned to trust my instincts and to be thankful for everything you get to doâ€? From these releases, which cover has been the hardest for you to do, and why? The Bouncing Souls song "Ghosts on the Boardwalk." Pete Steinkopf, who produced Resolutions as well as all five 7"s, is in the Souls so it made it particularly hard to reinvent that song. We were stumped for a while until I had the idea to play it in 3/4. I said "Pete, roll the tape, live, I have an idea," and got in in one take! It just came right together, so we left it rough, there was something spontaneous and special about that take.
Last year you got to play the Revival Tour here in the UK with Brian Fallon, Chuck Ragan and Dan Andriano, how was this tour for you, and what do you think you learnt the most from it? It was amazing, a total game changer for me in terms of playing to a really large and welcoming audience. I learned to trust my instincts and to be thankful for everything you get to do, as it can all be over in the blink of an eye.
What does the rest of 2012 hold for Dave Hause? Making the follow up to Resolutions, touring the US twice, the UK/Europe again, and Australia. Busy bee, and happy to be.
Interview with Ben
How did you go about deciding 'Viking Death March' would be the first single to release from your upcoming new album, and how happy are you with the feedback so far? Wow, good question. First of all to be totally honest with you, we were rehearsing that song of just that intro guitar part alone two years ago in Belgium/France, and we were just playing and a friend of ours who we worked with at the time was like that song sounds like a Viking death march and we just kinda stuck with that! So yeah it wasn't really pre meditated, it just kind of happened, and with regards to the reaction, we couldn't be happier is what I can say..because we have been away for a bit.. so we wanted to come back with a big bang and I think that song packs the punch that I think people were hoping that we'd bring back.
Can you tell us a little bit about the story/theme behind this single? The overall theme is about self empowerment and I think it’s about getting together and believing that if you want something to change either personally or in the world, that you can do that as long as you believe in yourself, and if we find other like minded individuals that feel the same then it makes the battle a lot easier. There's a lot of people that are upset, and there's a lot of things in the world that are happening right now, now moreso than ever, you see people all over the world that are standing up to their convictions and actually effecting and implementing change by standing side by side and saying that they are not happy. We are from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and we had the G20 summit there and our whole city was locked down, and it turned into like a police state for a month, and seeing the riots and the things that went on in our city and then the whole occupied movement being privy to all that. I mean it’s been a pretty amazing couple of years, to say the least, so that song is more or less to say, yeah it's okay to be angry, but there's hope and there's change if you want it.
You've nearly completed your new album so at this point what would you say are the themes and influences that run through the record? If I was to equate it to other records that I enjoy then stylistacally I think I'd like to refer to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers Blood,Sugar, Sex, Magik album in the sense that the whole record from start to finish is a great record, I mean every song is different and they have different approaches and vibes and it all seems to work in this weird way, and that's kind of like this record..there are so many different elements and so many different layers..and as a piece I think it’s amazing, and we are really, really proud of it.
As this is the first album stepping away from the trilogy can you tell us about how your new album sounds in comparison to your prior releases? Well I think if I were going to compare, then this one would be closer to our second record, as sort of touching upon having different elements, and that record had these songs like 'Pins and Needles' 'Surrender' and 'The Navy Song' which were pushing the envelope for us at that time and we were expanding our kind of song writing abilities..we had the heavier songs like 'red flag' and 'fallen leaves', and those songs did quite well for us, so yeah this record is kind of around the same ideology as that record.
Originally you stated that the new album would be out by early 2012, but it has now been changed to the fall, so how come the album release process has taken a bit longer than you initially expected? Well because our drummer had open heart surgery and it took him a while to recover. We also had some things that we had to finish off and work on and time lines became unrealistic and we thought instead of rushing, it’s not worth it to us or to our fans or as artists, so we thought we are going to wait and take our time until it’s done. It has taken a while...but you know life happens sometimes.
What has been the hardest part behind creating this new record so far for you guys and why? I think when you’re creating anything it’s hard and if it’s easy then it’s not good usually, but yeah there's been a lot of struggle, and there's been a lot of ups and downs, but for the most part it’s all been ups! I think our dynamic as a band is strong and really healthy, and I think that goes a long way, and I also think that Ian's songwriting abilities are the best they have ever been. So, yeah it’s been a very fun and enduring process, but now we only have a couple more songs lyrically to finish and track, and we have a lot of songs down at this point which are all finished and recorded, so yeah It’s been an interesting journey, and one I hope that was worth the ride.
What can you tell us about the recording process for this record? Like where was it done and who produced it? Well our guitar player Ian produced the whole record and we used our engineer guys, named Eric Ratz and Kenny Luong..and yeah those three did the whole thing. We did the drums, the main two rhythm guitars in a studio called Noble Street in Toronto, and all the vocals and overdubs and stuff like that, we have like a little studio ourself so we did the singing in there.
It's been about a year since your last live show, so how exciting are you to now be back on the road? Really excited and nervous, I'm backstage at the moment at Brighton and we're kinda getting the butterflies! But yeah I'm really excited to get back out there and..it’s going to be a welcome break from the studio because you get really into your own head a bit when you are in the studio too often, so it’s going to be nice to get out and just play rock 'n' roll shows.
How excited are you for your Reading/Leeds festival performance and what should attending fans expect? Well I hope they can expect to have a great day, I mean we're really excited and I'm excited to see bands like The Vaccines and we are absolutely over the moon about sharing the stage with one of my favourite bands At The Drive-In, so yeah we are pretty stoked, I mean it’s going to be a special day all round for us for numerous different reasons.
So what else does 2012 hold in store for you guys? To be honest with you it’s just going to be touring, non stop touring all the time. Interview by Carina Lawrence
So when was it that you decided photography is what you wanted to do with your life? The idea of taking gig photos came after a jokey conversation with a well known music photographer at Download 2010. I had a little coolpix camera and was messing about showing him my photos saying they were better than his (they obviously weren't). He planted a little seed in my head there by suggesting I get a 'real camera'. Three months later that's exactly what I did. Three days after that I shot my first gig. Had NO idea what I was doing and was scared stiff but from then on I was hooked!
At the start, were there any other photographers that maybe influenced/helped you along the way? The afore mentioned music photographer Mark Latham. His photos are what I wanted to see after a gig I'd attended as he really captures the feel of the atmosphere and music...something I try to show in my own. I had a little technical advice from him and went on a gig shoot with him once, but he definitely influenced me.
â€œClaire has worked her way up the photography scene since 2010, she first struck gold when she did photos for Shadows Chasing Ghosts, and since then it's been onwards and upwards! Just recently she got to do the huge Hit The Deck festival! So letâ€™s find out what it takes to get to this level!" What was the first major band you got to shoot, and how exciting was this whole process for you? Well it depends what you call a major band. The first gig I shot was Shadows Chasing Ghosts. Being a fan of their music anyway it felt pretty major to me. I honestly don't think I've been so nervous in my life! It's hard standing between the band and the audience for the first time, and being the shy retiring person that I am...it took some getting used to. I just had to learn to focus on what I was doing and what I was trying to achieve.
What band has been the most challenging for you to shoot and why? Most band/venues are challenging to be honest, that's what I love about it. The most difficult was Asking Alexandria at Leeds Met this year as the lighting was so poor with no flash allowed, and with not the greatest camera for low light (Nikon D90) I was highly dissapointed with the end result. Fortunately Big Cheese Magazine didn't think so and used my photos for a double sided poster!
Alternatively, what band has been the most rewarding for you to shoot and why? The most rewarding bands to shoot are the ones that I admire and are friends with that also like to use my work. Polar and Yashin are great bands and show such energy on stage which isn't easy but they are such lovely guys and I seem to get good results from their gigs. Shooting fellow Sheffielders While She Sleeps is always great as they always put on an amazing show. They've definitely provided me with some of my favourite shots.
Recently you got to shoot at Hit The Deck Festival, how was this whole experience for you? Festivals are, for me, THE best part of shooting live music. It was my second year at Hit The Deck this year and a very different experience as last year I went down on my own and shot bands all day. This year, I came down with my friend Kt Evans and we filmed loads of interviews for Big Cheese TV. Obviously I couldn't be in two places at once (unfortunately) so I didn't get to shoot as many bands as I would have liked. It was a frantic day running from interview to stage all day but so much fun. Of Mice And Men and Young Guns provided the best photos for me that day.
If the stage is a bit dark, and the lighting isn't to good in a venue, how do you go about getting the best shot out of the band? This is the case in 90% of venues I shoot in! It's all about knowing your camera settings and pushing it to the limit...then keeping everything crossed so that you get the shots you want. I look at the lighting and try to work out where best to stand (if possible). Also it helps if you know the band's music a little as you know when to expect some proper action from them.
Some of your photos are in tiny venues (maybe even houses) and you've done a great job of catching the intimate, chaotic scene in front of you. So with this in mind, how do you normally go about getting such pictures in an atmosphere like this? You can't just stand at the back to get these shots, you have to get in amongst the crowd however lively they are! It's always a risk to you and your equipment. I've been landed on, kicked, punched and floored but fortunately my camera has always survived. I do wonder how sometimes! If you want the shots it's what you have to do - end of.
The photography scene (at gigs) in the UK is thriving right now, so with this in mind, what is your take on the scene at the moment? There are some really great music photographers out there right now. It's all good healthy competition, although personally I don't look at it as competition as we all have our certain styles. What one person loves about your shots, another will dislike which I'm cool with. I take the photos I like without thinking what everyone else will like. I've made a lot of good friends in the business and you can tell when they do this for the right reasons. I hate when people think it's easy to get into and do it to hang with the bands. It's bloody hard work and takes every spare minute of my time. Sleep is a thing of the past for me that's for sure!
What else does 2012 hold for you? That's a big question. If only I knew! I may have a couple of front covers of music magazines next month which will be my first so pretty stoked about that. Just more gigs and festivals I guess. I would really love to tour with a band but it's hard as I have a day job that isn't too flexible. Hopefully one day I can give it up and go into music photography full time. Watch this space eh?!
wit w e i v r Inte
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"Independent record labels in the UK are what we need more of, they give attention to the many hard working bands, and without them, the music scene would be an even more harder world to break in to, so let’s see what it takes to create a record label from scratch!" Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Small Town Records? Pete: I had worked in music press for several years and a close friend started a label. I pestered him to sign a band I was a huge fan of and to let me label manage them and he wasn't keen on the idea so I decided I would start my own label and push them. 8 years later, 60+ releases to the good and we are still going strong off that one decision.
How did you get to name Small Town Records, and what does it mean to you? Pete: It was meant to mean Small Town / Small Time / Small Operation. I never imagined things to take off as they did, so I started off branding it as all DIY, all with no serious business aspirations, no commitment, just easy come/easy go but over the years things snow balled in to what they are today. Alex: It was pretty much a bedroom hobby that got out of hand! When I joined in 2008, we spent 2/3 hours a week each working and getting everything done. Now we’re ‘quiet’if we’re only spending 2/3 hours a day!
Who were the first band to sign to your company, and how was this process for you at the time? Pete: That would be Penknifelovelife (the band my friends label refused to sign) - we helped get them on some decent tours/shows, released an EP and a single, bought them two vans and lots more. No matter what anyone says, I thought they were amazing and were a fantastic set of lads deep down. I miss working with them so much
What do you guys look for in a band when you take them on to your label? Pete: The ability to tour. I still look for bands who work hard above all. They've got to be able to get in a van and play shows day in day out. It’s the only way a band makes a name these days. Obviously things like having great songs, a good image, and are committed to making a release work as part of a bigger picture are key as well. Alex: There’s not a specific formula per se. Things such as song writing ability and live performance are all well and good, but like Pete says, bands need to be able to get out there and tour as much as possible. Bands need to be personable and incredibly driven too. If you sit down with a band and can see that they’ve all got their heads screwed on and are solely committed to their band, much like what happened with us and While She Sleeps, then it makes the option of taking them on so much more inviting.
Can you tell us what a typical day would involve for you, as part of Small Town Records? Pete: Emailing, emailing and more emailing. Liasing with bands/management/agents/press/distribution/media/publishers etc... Keeping people happy and making sure our fans / bands fans are kept 100% up to date with everything that happens. Alex: Lots of people have this idea that everyone in the music industry is like Andrew WK and partying all the time. Truth be told, it’s just an office job, it’s just our product is music and our brands are bands. I guess the bonus is that it is more laid back and we get to listen to tunes in the office!!! Sorry if i’ve spoilt anyone’s perceptions!!
What's the process like then, before you put out a record/release for a band? Pete: ensuring that the right marketing is done is key. Making sure the press world know about it, through mags, websites, tv, radio etc... making sure fans know what’s happening and they are aware that this is not just "another" record but that it is special, that it is something that will impress them and be a valuable addition to their music collection. Making sure tours are booked, and bands have a plan with regards to their own promotion too. Making sure our distribution are seeking the right retail campaigns off the back of what the band is doing and how the press is going. It’s like spinning plates on sticks, keeping momentum on several different aspects but they all must be moving together at the same time and in the same direction!! Alex: You’ve always got to make sure everyone is aware of deadlines too. Bands always seem to be completely unaware that deadlines and production lead times exist!! It’s just a case of being able to juggle process management in terms of the production and distribution of a record, and people management in terms of getting what we need out of the bands, the press, the management and the agents in order to make the release the biggest success it possibly can be.
Since you started out, what has been the hardest challenge for you as a company, and why? Pete: Usually funding. There is so much we and our bands want to do, and so many things that would bring us more money also if we had the initial capital, but unfortunately we have to make do with what we have. Alex: It’s no secret the music industry is pretty skint at the minute, so money is always a problem. It’s just a case from our point of view of making sure we utilise all possible revenue streams that we can in order to make it by. And that doesn’t mean whacking extra money on records to cover overheads, but finding different ways of utilising the works of our artists in order to generate a further income for both them and us.
Alternatively what would you say has been the most rewarding part for you guys and why? Pete: The best days by far are watching our bands perform big festivals or big shows in front of sell out crowds, knowing that my own hard work has got them in to that position. Basically, giving the bands the tools, and platform to express themselves in ways they couldn’t have done alone. Alex: Watching While She Sleeps in front of 3500 people at 11.30am at Sonisphere last year. Christ almighty. I'm so proud to have been a part of their story. I also sat down the other day and realised we’d had bands on Radio One for the last three weeks in a row, and had bands in both the current and previous issues of Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Big Cheese and Front.It was at that point I realised...Shit...people are actually taking notice of us! For me personally though, my proudest moment was signing Devil Sold His Soul. I’ve been a fan of the band for ages, so to get our small bedroom label to the level where a band are happy to step across from a label like Century Media is a great personal achievement
“The best days by far are watching our bands perform big festivals or big shows in front of sell out crowds, knowing that my own hard work has got them into that position” How important do you think it is to have independent record labels throughout the UK, and what do you think they bring to the music scene? Pete: I think the UK independent scene is absolutely thriving and its labels like ours, Basick, LAB, Wolf At Your Door, TDON that continually invest huge amounts of money into bands and artists to keep motivating and inspiring fans in the UK and beyond. Im not suggesting we are the only reason but i would say a lot of our hard work contributes towards what major companies around the world go on to benefit from, albeit retailers / media sites or bigger labels. Alex: I definitely think it’s crucial, not just in terms of developing bands, but in terms of developing talent inside of the industry too. If you intern at a major, you’ll end up in one business function. If you end up at an indie, then you’re gonna get a great basic knowledge of a range of label and industry functions.
What else does 2012 hold for Small Town Records? Alex: Well, we’ve got some cracking releases. We’ve just done Shadows Chasing Ghosts’ Second album, and the debut full length by The Elijah. Obviously, the new Devil Sold His Soul album is coming out on the 17th of September. There will be a new single for that sometime in August too, then there is the debut album by Floods. That's another cracking release, and people should make sure they give them a listen. We have a storming new single by The Hype Theory too, and we’re looking at maybe another couple of brand new singles from both Campus and Violet, as well as potentially speaking to another couple of acts. Watch this space!! Pete: More bands. More releases. More getting stressed!!!
"He has done graphic design for Alexisonfire, The Gaslight Anthem, Architects among many other respected bands, and let’s be honest, his work is truly awesome. It takes a lot of time and effort to to do what Paul Jackson does every day, so read on to find out just exactly how it is done from the man himself!" So when and how did you first get into graphics/art? I have been into art since i was a kid, it came pretty naturally to me. I really started to come into my own and experiment when i was at college. I became a better artist for trying loads of different styles, and got really excited about scale, i started to draw really big which was fun. Graphics has always been secondary to me. I was really into it for a period at college, but i realised that i was an illustrator, a kinda neglected type. I picked up a more graphics based edge when i went to university, but everything else suffered, that was probably mainly due to drugs and alcohol though.
When was it that you knew that this is what you wanted to do with your life? I have pretty much known that i would be an artist since i was a kid. I’m lucky because it was a hobby before it was my living, so when it became my job I was pretty happy about it. The only problem with it being a job and a bobbie is that i never really switch off/relax. But i could be just a head on a pillow, so no complaints here.
What would you say was your first major project, and how exciting was this for you at the time? I guess it would have to be the Alexisonfire cover for 'Olds crows/young cardinals', It was obviously very exciting to be asked to do something as big as that and i was pretty focused on making it look great, which i hope i did. I was particularly happy with the inlay collage poster as it isn't really something i have done before and i think it came out really well and it was unique to the artwork.
When you work with a band, is it a case of they send you an idea so you can work along with them on the project, or is it just like they let you come up with the entire design? It works both ways. Ideally I would like to come up with my own idea as I like to think I know what looks good, plus I will be more excited to get into it. But sometimes bands have good ideas, not often, but sometimes… If they are good i am obviously more than happy to work with them on it - as long as myself and the band are happy it will be a winner.
What project for a band has taken you the longest to finish and why? The collage for AOF took a long while as i had to trawl through newspapers and cut out countless words and headlines, that was time consuming. Plus all the imagery took a while to obtain. City and Colour 'Little Hell' took the longest as a painting as it was just lines/dots which was brain numbing and it took a while for it to start taking shape. Itâ€™s hard to work on something that you don't really see becoming the thing you want it to be, that painting didn't really look right until it was 100% complete, so that was hard.
The third picture to the right on your homepage (The Gaslight Anthem) is fantastic, can you tell us a little bit about what the band wanted you to design, and maybe how this process was for you? That design was something i just did with them in mind and then presented it to them, they liked it so they took it, thatâ€™s about it really! We have worked together a few times so i have a good relationship with them. So the process was easy in terms of brief as there was none, i like to basically do whatever i want, that way the result is always better and i enjoy it more - it sounds kind of arrogant but if clients like what i do i imagine thatâ€™s why i get used, so it just seems natural that i do what i think works.
The artwork you did for Alexisonfire (Pirate ship & Octopus) looks incredible, so with this in mind how do you go about doing a project like this, I mean as a designer do you have certain stages, or is it sort of different every time? Yeah I don't really work to a formula, each project varies depending on what is required. I like to try new things as often as possible and it helps me stay excited about what I am doing - I think that’s why my work can’t vary so much. I drew that AOF image in stages as I wasn't really sure what I was doing - I knew I wanted a ship being attacked by a sea creature but i wasn't quite sure how, so i kind of bodged it together! The outcome worked but i think i will do another similar design that works a bit better and is a bit more dynamic - my style has changed a fair bit since then.
What was it like to work with City & Colour for the front cover of 'Little Hell' and what are your memories from this experience? Dallas has been a good friend of mine for a while now, so it was a really relaxed and fun project to work on, although i did find it hard as it is quite different from what i have done in the past. The process was pretty easy as it was an existing image of the tulip fields in Holland, but i was asked to paint them. I am really happy with the result and I think a really memorable and iconic cover has been created - which is always the aim.
I could go on as every design you've done is great, but another pick that I saw was the design for Architects 'Nightmares' so can you tell us a bit about what the band wanted from you, and again how this process worked out? Well that was one of the first covers i did for a band. The band and myself were quite young at the time so the brief was very loose, something like - 'just make it look cool' - so that’s what i tried to do. It’s basically a woman vomiting up all her worst nightmares - snakes, bugs etc I just tried to make it look hellish with the colours. Out of the many covers i have done, that one has stood the test of time better than most I think.
You've worked with so many big bands now, like The Gaslight Anthem, Placebo, Bring Me The Horizon so with this in mind, do you ever feel the pressure in your job when creating these designs? I used to, but no so much anymore. It’s a confidence thing. I know now that I can get a project done, and I also know that they have come to me for a reason, so you just have to focus on the project in hand and take it one step at a time. I used to get nervous and worry that I'm gonna balls it up, but when I worried I tended to cock things up and make bad decisions so now I relax and hold the power - you can't rush these things - as much as bands love dropping two day deadlines on me, I don't panic, I just deal with it as best I can.
What would you say has been the most rewarding design for you so far and why? I personally love the AOF artwork as it’s such a juxtaposition. The cover and the inlay are so different but powerful in their own right, I think that makes for a solid and interesting design, plus it was testing for me. Placebo was a good one to work on to, the band really knew what they wanted and loved my ideas, so I really enjoyed the process as it was never negative in anyway. I always love working with young guns too, they are a solid band that aren't afraid of trying new things, and that as an artist is exciting.
What else does 2012 hold for you? Got a bunch of stuff happening right now which is exciting, working on the new Lower Than Atlantis artwork now which is insane. It’s very different from what I normally do but it’s cool. I have a few shows coming up across the USA and the UK so that’s exciting. Other than that, I am going to focus on my own artwork and keep on keeping on, I have many goals to fulfil this year, so there is never a dull moment. I also have my clothing line to concentrate on which is fun… - blackmailclothing.com if you're interested….
Interview with Luke
"Starting a business from nothing is not easy, but this is what Luke from Awesome Merchandise did, he took a unique idea that he loved, and made it into his day job! The company he started is fantastic and they are now known throughout the UK, Incredible!" Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Awesome merchandise? I set up Awesome Badges (this is what we were called back in the day) in my bedroom a week before I left home for university. I was 19 and used most of the money I had saved up to take to university. On my year out I had ended up working at a local pizza shop where I was running shifts, this along with knowing a guy called Toby Hook who had set up one of the first bedroom clothing companies in the UK (Heartache Clothing) made me realise I could do something for myself to earn money. As I had been playing in a band for a few years and had a load of friends in bands I decided badges were a good idea. At this point I went to a shop called Hobby Craft expecting I could buy a badge and sticker making machine...It wasn't that easy!
When did you guys realize that you might have a chance to actually do this for a living, and how cool was this for you guys at the time? We had been going for two years and badges had kind of overtaken my life a little... In my second year of uni we lived in a ten bedroom house. Unfortunately for my housemates the lounge was the production room, the hallways were my stock room and I had taken my bed out of the bedroom to make an office. Shortly after we moved into a small industrial unit and took on a couple of part time staff. Around the same time we received an 80,000 badge order for a huge client and I had a big decision to make on whether to go full time making merchandise or to carry on studying. I chose to go full time with the merch which was kind of cool but also pretty daunting at the time as it meant dropping out of university with no degree but most of the student debt! It turned out to be the right decision...
Who was your first major client, and how was this process for you as a company? Probably one of our earliest big clients was Florence & the Machine who we made merch for as early as 2007...We are fortunate to work with a lot of small and medium clients which is great as it makes life nice and varied, some of the bigger stuff we do in both the music industry and commercially comes through agents but it's nice to see the big names too! We try our best to offer everyone big and small the same level of friendly and efficient service so the process is pretty much the same for every client.
Can you tell us a bit about what a typical day at Awesome merchandise involves for you? My days can be pretty varied depending on what we have going on at AMHQ! I tend to get pretty heavily involved in any new machine installation or process that we put in to make sure I am happy with how everything is going, this also means I can cover other staff if necessary down the line. On a regular day I answer emails, deal with staff, administration, marketing and business development stuff. Usually the day starts with a pretty big coffee and I will make sure I get around to talk to as many of our team as possible.
Can you give us a brief introduction to the rest of your staff, and explain what they each do in the company? There are 27 of us now so this is a tough one! You have Charlotte who is the co-boss and organisational 'behind the scenes' mastermind. Some of our frontline staff that you are most likely to encounter are Jhon who looks after social media and online marketing (also of Mike TV and was on Come Dine With Me recently) Dan (he plays in a band called The Human Project), Rachel and Nikki head up our customer services team and if you send in an email or call in you will usually speak to them... We have an ever growing team of awesome people and we pride ourselves on our friendly, enjoyable but super productive working atmosphere. For more check out our blog as Jhon recently did a big expose on the team: http://www.awesomemerchandise.com/badgeblog/
Since day one and as you guys progressed over the years, how hard has it been to slowly expand your company whilst keeping on top of the orders that keep coming in? It has been pretty difficult at times but an interesting challenge! We have experienced pretty serious growth over the last 7 years going from a bedroom operation to one of the biggest suppliers of merchandise and print in the UK... We are really committed to improving as a business whilst giving our customers the best possible product and service which has meant we have constantly invested in new equipment, staff, service and products to make sure we keep on top of orders and continue to improve. There are a lot of things that crop up that when I started in my bedroom to make badges for friends bands I would not thought we would have to deal with!
Since you started out, what has been the hardest challenge for you to achieve as a company and why? Probably being able to produce such a wide range of products in a consistent and efficient manner! I would never have dreamed we'd be capable of making 5 million badges a year just running a 9 to 5 shift when I was making badges in my bedroom. That's just one of our products! I'm still a little puzzled as to why Hobby Craft don't sell machines you can do that kind of volume on...
Can you give us a couple of clients that you've really enjoyed working with over the years, and why they've meant so much to you guys? Probably making stuff for friends and family for their bands, businesses or projects. Even after being pretty established and working with thousands of clients it's great when people we know are super happy to get their order through from us and are positive about our work!
There are a lot of merchandise print services out there in the UK, so with this in mind what do you guys think sets your company/service apart from the rest? We try and make merchandise and print (which we think can sometimes be a little dry, boring and difficult) an interesting, easy and friendly experience. We also make a wider range of products than a lot of places and this is all done in house. As well as this we try and be as flexible as possible whether it's mixing up designs within an order or meeting your 2 day deadline because you left it really late to order!
What else does 2012 hold for you guys? We are currently working on launching a whole bunch of new and exciting products as well as sprucing up the website a little...We like surprises though so I can't give too much away but expect big things for the rest of 2012 and beyond in the world of Awesome Merchandise!
Lipona - Networks Lipona don't sit comfortably into one set genre, yet that's their selling point. Their latest EP 'Networks' is an amalgamation of a string of styles that work together effortlessly. There's strong melodic nuances, a pop punk flavour meshed with flat out punk aggression; there's a lot to offer. While opener 'Followers' toys with a recording of George Carlin discussing religion before leaping into an upbeat musical assault, 'Comfort' slows things down with sleek guitar. Restrained vocals span the verse before the song thrashes into life, perfectly demonstrating the contrasts possessed within the EP. 'On Giants' speeds through a mass of technicality, from the lightning guitar, succinct drums and powerful vocal reach. 'Distance' is a musical journey. Almost seven minutes in length, it begins upbeat and catchy as the number gradually grows in it aggression. Midway, it cuts to silence before a drawn out, airy reprise fills the remaining time before dropping into the anarchic finale 'Collapse', which sees the EP go out on a bang. What's most impressive is not necessarily the mass of styles the band include, but the sheer precision they bring to everything. It's tight, be it those metal stylings or the moments that teeter on pop punk, and 'Networks' affirms that Lipona are a band not only willing to push themselves, but do it to a very high standard.HM
The Ghost Inside - Get What You Give While hardcore isn't a personal preference style-wise, there are occasions when a band can provoke a curious interest in the genre. Unlike their past releases, which seemed to slip by, The Ghost Inside's latest record 'Get What You Give' certainly stood out from others, so much so it proves rather enjoyable. The record possesses an overabundance of breakdowns, yet there's a strong melodic element and use of the occasional vocal curveball that set certain songs apart. 'Engine 45' combines soaring choruses with deep-rooted melodious licks,interrupting the thrashing assault for a softer and clean vocal segment. From a first listen onwards, this is a standout track. 'White Light' possesses a more sombre feel, the angst-ridden roars teaming seamlessly with the versatile musicality, while 'Test The Limits' proves another highlight with its more intricate guitar and completes the album in a fast paced dose of anarchy. There's much here to compliment. Personally, the more melodic numbers are preferential, yet for those looking for harsh beats to pit to there's plenty there to satisfy your needs. For someone not wholly into this style of music, this proved an interesting release, so it's assumable that for those who thrive on the genre, this is far better than expressed. HM
WeCaughtTheCastle â€“ Time to Grow Female fronted rock bands get a bit of a hard time at the moment, often to their frustration they end up labelled as Paramore copy-cats and more often than not that comparison is justified but not in the case of We Caught The Castle. Time To Grow is a musical blend of Watch Out! era Alexisonfire and the latest Deaf Havana album coupled with three way vocals; screams and shouts that juxtapose Hollieâ€™s bittersweet melodies with the occasional lead line from guitarist Simon which is refreshing and brings and a new dynamic to the songs but does not come off as a contrived way to be different from other female fronted bands.
Seamlessly the band veers between punk-esque aggression and epic delay ridden soundscapes, there is definitely a more mature approach to song writing with much darker tones than I first expected having heard their singles and that’s a good thing as so many UK bands at the moment (who aren’t hardcore) seem to have taken on an American pop-rock sensibility, not to say that the album is doom and gloom with the bands more poppy elements shining through in songs such as ‘Lips’ and ‘Patterns’ (a stand out song along with the title track). Honestly, Time To Grow is a great first album from these British rock newcomers. JC
Senses Fail - Follow Your Bliss "I've still got passion, I've still got guts" - Buddy's aggressive roars open their new EP with a proclamation: Senses Fail aren't done by a long shot. 'Follow Your Bliss' marks their ten years of triumph by simultaneously encapsulating their past successes and showing where the next chapter leads, with both aspects proving equally as exciting. Taking listeners down memory lane, the 'Best Of' component fluidly displays the songs that stand out from their career while causing countless waves of nostalgia. Displaying their finest work, from the anthemic 'Can't Be Saved' to punchier 'Rum Is For Drinking, Not Burning', the quality of this half was never set to be in question. As for their bonus EP, it too proves hard to fault. Covering both ends of the Senses Fail spectrum, 'War Paint' is steeped in aggression and energy, while the concluding number 'Waves' simply feels big with its soaring choruses. Both 'Vines' and 'Early Graves' focus more on their penchant for identifiable and addictive melodies while mixing both clean and unclean vocals. If anything, this merely reaffirms that they are more than capable of producing quality without compromising their definitive style or writing the same song twice. This is a look at the past and a glimpse of the future, and from this snapshot it feels that the best could be yet to come for Senses Fail. Here's to the next ten years! HM
Gnarwolves – CRU Based out of Brighton and with shows alongside Lemuria, The Wonder Years and Boysetsfire already under their belt punk rock Gnarwolves are well on their way to making a name for themselves, and this new 6-track EP are bound to help their cause. The trio open 'CRU' with the bold, brash 'History Is Bunk.' Coming in at jut one minute 43 seconds, Gnarwolves quickly set their sound with an energetic brand of punk and 'We Want The Whip!' pretty much follows the same routine; thrashing feelgood pop punk that you can't but helplessly fall for. ‘Community, Stability, Identity’ sees the band offer a more sincre, calmer moment before springing back into life with 'A Gram Is Better Than A Damn.' With straining vocals, a bouncy tempo and a thriving chorus, you realise Gnarwolves deserve all the hype and praise they will get. Although the final two tracks; 'Oh, Brave new World' and 'Coffee' don't offer much in variation or substance, with bands like Gnarwolves its certainly a case of why spoil a good thing? 'CRU' has a raw energy that brilliantly plays off Gnarwolves' favourable pop punk/punk rock sound with the final result being a quick, straight-to-the-point EP that will definitely draw new fans in and get people talking. SR
Chad Gilbert - Cheap Shots
For those who are not familiar with What's Eating Gilbert, it is the side project of New Found Glory guitarist, Chad Gilbert. He has released previous albums and EP's and this new offering, titled "Cheap Shots" will be Chad's fith solo release, and will be out on July 31st 2012. The EP consists of five tracks, with the focus of genre being largely sleek 50s style pop, but of course with underlying punk vibes which would come easily to him from his New Found Glory work, so with that said, how does this genre clash shape up!.. Opening track, "Iv'e got you" is upbeat, truthful, and contains rather personal lyrics, which in my opinion always makes for a better track. This is a nice little opener for the EP! "Sit and Stare' certainly embraces the 50s style pop as promised! The track is well done without being too cheesy and makes for a great fun, feel good track! The song is brilliantly composed,and captures the essence of the genre with style. "Run for your life" has more of a rock 'n' roll feel to it with hard hitting great lyrics packed with attitude! Its so well written and catchy it makes this style cool again, in this very characteristically short but sweet track! "Complaining" is very melodic and catchy, it has a great chorus, in what is perhaps the best track on the EP that chorus will stay with you, still can't 'complain' as its bloody catchy! Again as seen with all the other previous tracks, great well written lyrics and good structure. Chad seems to know his stuff when it comes to this genre, but still manages to put his punk/rock spin on things! Last track, "Good Lookin" has great comical yet sweet lyrics! More punk elements on this final track with some nice riffs. As well as being rather amusing its quite a modest insightful track, making it somewhat endearing. Short but sweet sums up "Cheap Shots" very well! Chad shows of his musicanship moreso, he is very talented indeed, being a guitarist, singer and composer! Whether you like this kind of genre of not, I think this EP is good fun and easily accessible, and anyone can apprepriate well written music! You can enjoy every song on EP, all offering something a bit different and bringing together the sleekness of 50s pop with hints of punk and rock. From hearing his previous solo work, I think this particular EP stands out, this style of music seems to come effortlessly to Chad, an old sound with more of a modern take, especially notable in the lyrics. This great throwback sound will take you on a trip down nostalgia lane and should put a smile on anyone's face! CL
Joia - Match Light Female fronted alt pop rock band only formed in 2011 and now they are releasing their debut EP, and they kindly will be releasing it as a free download, so you really have no reason not to check it out! Title track, "Match Light" starts off soothing with gentle guitars and stunning vocals from Athina Andrelos,each verse taking the same shape and then it takes on more of a alternative rock feel during the chorus and the rest of the song. Its a delight to listen to and upon first listen your eager to hear more. They have recently released video for the new single. Clearly this song is going down a treat, as has already had airplay on Kerrang and Q radio!
"Enough Of You" is more fast and upbeat than first track and displays some great slick guitarwork! "Let Down" is more downbeat than previous tracks, with nice acoustic guitar and a beautiful range of vocals. This is one of best tracks in opinion. Great sound and melody. "Our Time" takes us back to a more uplifting note, and as will as all the other tracks, can't be faulted! This band have a interesting sound, which could have something to do with the different musical influences within the band, including Coldplay, The Smiths and Kings Of Leon, although they largely have created their own sound, yes comparisons can always be made, but what we hear on this EP is not something that has been done to death..you could say they have put a different 'light' on things! Nearing the end of the last track, you are sad to reach the end of the EP, but I guess all good things must come to an end..but the spot 'light' will be shining their way, and when it does I don't think it will be short lived! CL
The Afterparty - Restless Pop Rockers from the South Coast UK are getting alot of attention lately from press and having teamed up with reputable producer Matt O'Grady (You Me At Six/Deaf Havana) for this new EP, you would expect good results! "Sticks and Stones" is polished pop rock at its best in what is probably the stand out song of the EP, the chorus does what any good chorus should, 'stick' with you! "So Much To Say" vocalist Nic Matthews shows of his sweet, smooth and heartfelt voice particlarly well in this song before breaking out into the high melodies seen in the first track. Nice little rock track infused with pop and punk elements. "Diamond Eyes" is slightly more downbeat which makes for a nice change. It has catchy strong riffs and good lyrics. This is a very mainstream radio friendly one which again displays great vocals, suits this genre down to a tee! "How To Let Go" more of a rock track than rock pop that is showed throughout the EP. At times is reminiscent of Kids In Glass Houses sound, which I'd say is quite an achievement, I mean look at where they are now! Alot of comparisons could be made, but this isn't a dig, this genre is a strong and competitive one! Bearing all that in mind the band do the genre proud! Although this EP is short, they show quickly that they are good at what they do..predominantly churning out a very catchy track! Given that they are called The Afterparty, I think their music would suit a party atmosphere, with their upbeat feel good sound..I think their 'party' has only just started, and they have good reason to celebrate! CL
Linkin Park – Living Things Maybe it’s because of where I am, musically in my life, but I haven’t thought about Linkin Park in a long time, Hybrid Theory played a huge part in my musical development whilst I was growing up, but then I pushed them aside, their repetitive mix of vocals progressively aggravating me to a point where I could stand it no longer. Though they fell from my musical scope, I cannot ignore the tremendous steps that they have made in music, an obscene amount of number one album spots across the world, a huge fanbase and a collision of two worlds when they collaborated with one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world, Jay-Z, in comparison I have a couple of medals from sports day at school – so that kind of puts me in my place. Linkin Park have truly been a powerhouse in music – so where does Living Things sit in their impressive body of work? Well it’s clear that they’ve kept up with the times, and it is clear that they’re feeling a bit jealous of all of the attention that Skrillex is getting, as they deliver a far more electronic based effort, any guitar parts are few and far between, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a different band altogether. It’s a decent album and I can’t fault any of the tracks, I was expecting something heavier, but they’re to be admired for moving so fluidly with the times and what their fans would want. SM
Since their formation at the later part of 2009, Blood Of The Spectre have destroyed stages throughout England with their face-melting concoction of modern metal laced with entwining technical guitar passages and bonecrushing breakdowns. The rowdy crew aspire for new heights with their brand new self-titled EP, which is an utter beast of a record. From the compelling weaving riffery of 'Darkened Majesty', through to the dynamic and eerie conclusion of 'End Era', it's an impressive EP that has enough power and precision to level an apartment block. There's now nothing stopping Blood Of The Spectre from earning a prominent place within the UK Metal hierarchy. Watch this space! The band have recently been on their own headline tour around England and Wales playing to many audiences in different towns. Blood Of The Spectre are in the process of going on tour again in October this year to promote their brand new EP and to get their name across to those who love heavy metal. In April, the band released their first official music video for a track from their EP called 'End Era'. Having many YouTube hits in such a short amount of time, the band feel that this was a brilliant move. They will be using this music video to promote their music more, enter many competitions such as the Red Bull Bedroom Jam and try to get the music video featured on Scuzz and Kerrang. You can catch this music video on BlankTV. The band have been releasing t-shirts with their EP artwork and name on the front. Recently they have teamed up with KneeDeepClothing to do a design to promote the band and the clothing line. Merchandise is available via any shows the band are performing at or the bands FaceBook page.
The Word Alive - Life Cycles American Metalcore band return with their anticipated follow up to debut "Deceiver" with their full length sophomore album. They have toured with big bands such as A Day To Remember, Underoath and Suicide Silence, have recently been annouced as support for Parkway Drive in November and recieved critical acclaim from press including Kerrang and Metal Hammer who named them in their feature of 75 bands that will shape the future of metal! So how does the new album shape up?!. "Dragon Spell" is the perfect opener as it throws everything at you, and if not familiar with their sound is a great introduction to their elaborate mix! Starts of with creepy eerie sounds then tranforms into a crazy,hectic and powerful sound. Almost Sounds like a Metal Circus! Filled with Impressive shredding and great mix of madness and brilliant production which is no surprise really with producer, Joey Sturgis on board (The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria). Other stand out tracks include "Entirety" which opens with a great intro riff which grabs you. So much going on..in a good way! "Bar Fight" fastest heaviest track so far with dramatic synth sounds and again as seen with other tracks powerful and diverse singing. Album titled track, "Life Cycles" slows things down a bit at first but soon picks up again, in what is a very dynamic track, good choice for single as represents the album well. "Evolution" has a dramatic opening backed up again by strange synth sounds, and crazy guitar riffs,shredding and licks. Great mix of both equally superb clean and aggressive vocals, singer, Tyler Smith, really is a great metal vocalist. One of fave tracks on album, although you are spolit for choice! "Ambitionary" boasts excellent guitar work, something which this album has tonnes of! Guitarists, Zach Hanser and Tony Pizzuti certainly know their way around the fret board! Last track number 13, "Astral Plane" is cleverly 3 minutes 13 seconds long. Different to other tracks, first half is rather calm and serene, then half way through comes 'alive'. "Life Cycles" is complex organised musical chaos that remains coherent with consistently high standards! There are no sudden drops in creativity throughout, making the whole 13 tracks a brilliant experience in its 'entirety'! CL
The Offspring – Days Go By I was 10, in the throes of childhood, when I first heard The Offspring and became corrupted. Their ferociously catchy skate punk guiding me into the twisted world of music I listen to today. A lot has changed in the twelve years since I first heard Conspiracy of One, and we could forgive the Californian titans if they wanted to slow the pace after 28 years in the game. Whilst their latest release, Days Go By, is a really solid album in true Offspring fashion it lacks that killer edge of the earlier days when they produced killer classics and countless hours of entertainment, and many more sleepless hours for our parents. It would have been all too easy, considering their age, for them to lose touch, but they’re still on the pulse of what punk rock is all about – mainly having fun and not giving a shit what people think. As for standout tracks there really aren’t any, not because they lack pizzazz, but because the whole album is consistently strong, if you ever liked The Offspring then you’ll like this album – I’m barely a couple of tracks in before it starts to get stuck in my head, with my foot starts taping it’s not long before I end up singing choruses whilst walking around Tescos – much to my girlfriend’s embarrassment. If you’ve never liked The Offspring I can’t begin to imagine what planet you live on, Days Go By will never be a classic, but you’d be a fool not to check it out. SM
Reel Big Fish - Candy Coated Fury American Ska Punk band return with new album after 3 years, which also sees the return of the saxophone from latest member Matt Appleton (Goldfinger). You would think with only one founding member left in the band, being frontman, Aaron Barrett, that their sound would deviate from the beginnings of the band, but they seem to have returned to their roots! They are back and do what they do best, with this new release they took inspiration from their 2 earliest albums..they do say if it isn't broken then don't fix it! First track "Everyone Else Is An Asshole" is comical, catchy and fun! This will definately be the most upbeat positive song your find about assholes! Great way to open and break you in to the insults and humour to come.. "Punisher" is a brilliant and sadly relatable song. Great catchy, funny singalong song, which is one of the best tracks of the album! "I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore" is funny song about a good relationship gone bad featuring guest vocalist, Julie Stoyer throwing an insult fest at the end - hillarious and brilliant music! Another highlight of album. "Don't Stop Shankin" is a vibrate, fun, groovy dance track, largely just instruments. It particularly shows off some great saxophone skills and solos! Just great wacky fun! Candy Coated Fury is wildly fast paced catchy ska that is easily relatable! The album title, sums up the album well, being a mix of silly, fun, comical, sarcastic, happy, sad and mean, whether its being hateful or joyous, they all make you want to dance! The best tracks tend to be the faster ones, with more punk elements, but all songs have their appeal, through their upbeat fun instrumentation and humourous lyrics. Also It really is great to have the saxophone back in the mix, as it makes a brilliant addition to the riffs and rhythms! I think Reel Big Fish fans will be delighted with the new album, as it is more similiar to their older material, and well its just plain simple fun..well and insulting! Just try listening to this album without smirking, singing along and dancing to those Ska grooves! CL
Memphis May Fire - Challenger Challenger is the third album from Dallas based metalcore mob, Memphis May Fire. Now, metalcore’s resurgence in the last couple of years has, in no-doubt, been helped by younger bands taking the basic formula used in the early noughties and adding heavy doses of electronic music and ultra-clean vocal hooks that clearly appeal to the younger fans. Memphis May Fire do take advantage of these progressions in the genre, the hooky, melodic choruses are ever-present on this album and there are electronic touches here and there, but it’s the heavier stuff that this band do best. Bowel churning breakdowns and guttural growls that the likes of Killswitch Engage would tip their collective cap to, give this album true weight and distances the band slightly from the rest of the young metalcore crop. Check out Vices and Legacy for great examples of this. The only danger though, is the album tends to stick to the same formula throughout, there are ambient breakdowns, piano sections and a slower track, Miles Away that, although work well, don’t seem quite enough to give the album true diversity. That said, MMF could act as an important band to help younger fans bridge the gap between the new brand of metalcore and the heavier bands that spawned the genre over a decade ago. GM
The Bouncing Souls – Comet A truly old-school punk rock band, forming in the underground punk scene in New Jersey, The Bouncing Souls legacy spans four decades and in 2012 they’re still making meaningful, sincere music. Comet ticks just about every box, with hardrocking guitar lines, upbeat anthems, crashing drum work and soaring vocals. Their sound is pretty much unrecognisable from their debut full-length ‘The Good, The Bad & The Argyle’ released back in 1994 and it may appear a little formulaic at times, but The Bouncing Souls won’t care, because all of this is from the heart. ‘Baptized’ sets the record off on a good footing, a hart-hitting track which would have sat well on an old Tony Hawks Skater video game. ‘Fast Times’, ‘DFA’ and ‘We Love Fun’ all feel a little cheesy, but they provide some upbeat melodies perfect for a summer day in suburbia. ‘Static’ is the darkest track on the record and is reminiscent of older Rise Against material, with an electrifying solo. It also best displays how Greg Attonito’s lead vocals have matured and become far more refined. ‘Coin Toss Girl’ and ‘In Sleep’ are the records stand-out tracks, both providing a delicate balance between the hardcore elements of The Bouncing Souls sound and intricate instrumental work that they are capable of. The latter, with the hook “My heart is free and I drift away” captures the feeling of satisfaction as this album draws to a close. Unfortunately, Comet wasn’t made for the die-hards. The Bouncing souls are embracing the twenty-first century and have let go of their old hard-core punk past. This will undoubtedly piss of their loyal fan base, but with an album as strong as Comet, praise must be given to The Bouncing Souls for daring to modernize and succeed in the process. RM
Make Do and Mend – Everything You Ever Loved A post-hardcore band from Connecticut, Make Do and Mend are working hard to establish themselves as a juggernaut of their genre. Everything You Ever Loved has all the makings of a sophomore hit with ripping guitar solos, pounding beats and genuine lyrics. Yet, there’s something about this new addition to Make Do and Mend’s catalogue that smells stale and might well be long forgotten in the near future. James Carroll has an unquestionable set of pipes, with a voice that could tear through a stadium crowd, reminiscent of Dave Grohl’s, but with a punk Millencolinesque twist. With that said, whilst his style maybe admirable, it would appear that he hasn’t challenged himself to shake things up and push his voice to the limits. By the time you’ve reached ‘Hide Away’ you couldn’t be blamed for thinking you were still on the opening track. The record isn’t without it’s stormers, ‘St. Anne’ and ‘Stay in the Sun’ bring epic hooks and the most memorable choruses, meanwhile ‘Lucky’ could rival the Gaslight Anthem for nostalgia with a sublime rusty industrial haze. Everything You Ever Loved isn’t going to go down as the record of 2012, nor will it be the best we see from Make Do and Mend. This band has a bucket-load of potential and the musical ability to make a record which is both consistent but offers something new on each track. They might have failed to achieve that this time around, but there’s still plenty of time for them to prove what they are capable of. RM
22 - Flux This Norwegian four-piece meld soaring vocal melodies, disjointed riffs and complex rhythm sections to create something that has been described as progressive pop. Although they do plant a firm foot in the pop genre, you wont see them bothering the top of the charts anytime soon, not that that’s a bad thing. The reason for this is their influences - direct or indirect - include bands like The Blood Brothers, The Mars Volta and the even Meshuggah.
The result is something truly unique and anything but mainstream. Opener Plastik is a good example of how this band operate, a high-speed, chugging, almost prog-metal, riff blends into a clean verse, chorus exchange, which, despite the angular lead-guitar parts and fast-paced vocal delivery, remains catchy and full of hooks. The rest of the album carries on in the same vein with elements of indie, electronica, hardcore and straight-ahead rock, all coming to the fore. Highlights include I Am That I Am with its light, intricate, guitar work and impressive vocal harmonies and Oxygen, which blends Meshuggah-esque riffs with light finger-picking passages that are brought together by the tight rhythm section that is stunning throughout the album. This record truly does traverse the genres and will no-doubt divide opinion, but the quality of the musicianship is never in question and you have to admire 22 for combining so many influences into something still so listenable. GM
Press To Meco – Self Titled These guys are probably the poppiest math rock band ever; fantastic techy riffs offset by major key chord progressions and 3 part harmony vocals, think The Fall Of Troy meets Fall Out Boy, or Inme’s Daydream Anonymous deep fried in sugar. If you’re a math rock fan wanting to get friends into the genre these guys could be a good start, they’re not as angular or aggressive as bands like Arcane Roots or Protest The Hero. Although it’s a great show of vocal ability the almost constant, nearly choral sounding 3 part harmony does at times get a little too much, with time they’ll probably learn the restraint to use it more effectively, this said I have no doubt that seeing them do it live would be very impressive and each member also displays their lead ability, one of which you could be forgiven for thinking was Joe from Tubelord. The EP is a little short at 4 songs long, although it does show off the different aspects of the band’s sound, hopefully the rest of their material will follow the styling of the first two tracks ‘Burn The Reward’ and ‘All The Same’ which are definitely the stand out tracks of the EP. The song writing and musicianship on this release can’t really be faulted, given some time to mature their vocal arrangements these guys could be big players on the UK math rock scene. JC
Motion City Soundtrack - Go Nerd-rockers Motion City Soundtrack have returned with their fifth studio album, guitars (and lightsabers) at the ready. ‘Go’ is Motion’s finest record yet, finding the perfect balance between odes to classic videogames and ironic sitcom references, as well as heart-wrenching ballads about finding that perfect person to settle-down with. This full-length oozes with a new-found sense of maturity, reflected in the melancholic indie haze which acts as a vale for front-man Justin Pierre’s struggle with his demons. Offering more than just another Pop-Punk record, ‘Go’ delivers emotion in a package fit for all ages. ‘Circuits and Wires’ fires the first shot. Buzzing guitars fill the silences between Pierre’s soothing vocal melodies and the chorus brings the emotion that was displayed so well on this albums predecessor. Meanwhile, ‘True Romance’ and ‘Timelines’ provide the albums anchors. The two stand-out singles, these pop songs with a little twist of punk have hooks that could rival ‘Everything Is Alright’ and ‘Broken Heart’. Pierre also gives a nod to the backcatalogue with his lyrics, “is it a matter of time or just a matter of timing” acknowledging the lack of comfort with himself that is so evident throughout old Motion albums. ‘Son of a Gun’ acts as one of the strongest tracks on the record, demonstrating the bands new hybrid sound which combines the finest aspects of their synth-driven indie sound and their angsty pop-rock. ‘My Dinosaur Life’ may have shaken up some Motion fans, but for anyone that might have been questioning their direction, ‘Go’ sets the record straight. Motion City Soundtrack is back and they’re better than ever. RM
Slash - Apocalyptic Love It’s 2012. The bearded billboard man on the street is shouting at passers by. ‘The end is nigh!’ ‘Judgment day is coming!’ What a weirdo. Problem is it’s not just him that thinks it; it’s on a lot of people’s lips. Even Lynx have made a spray called ‘Final Edition’ so we know it’s the real deal this time! Luckily for us though, Slash has made an album (with the help of Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy) about how we can reach destruction before it even happens, through love. Cheerful thought. Enter ‘Apocalyptic Love’. While Slash wasn’t being the nation’s favourite synonym for urinating, he made an album full of meteoric riffs and searing pentatonic solos, such as we’ve come to expect from the rock deity. You’ll find yourself amidst 15 songs of unrelenting high octane balls to the wall rock that’ll leave you jittering so much afterwards your mum will ask if you’ve contracted Parkinson’s disease early. It does pause for breath in one or two intros however, such as ‘Not For Me’ and ‘Anastasia’ (which sounds like a half time Yngwie Malmsteen track) Alongside a more relaxed ‘Far And Away’ 4/5ths in this gives the record some needed breathing space. Kennedy’s androgynous vocals sit pretty much central in a Weiland/Rose based venn diagram and on top of some very punchy grooves thanks to Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz. Overall it’s nothing we haven’t heard before but if you ever were a GnR or VR fan then you’ll be all over this. Pretending I were an executive type and only had time to put one song on my fancy Blackberry it would most likely be ‘Halo’. But thankfully I’m not, I’ve got ages to upload them all whilst I’m waiting for ‘We’re all doomed’ to finish drying on my latest billboard. SG
Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania The Smashing Pumpkins returned last month to feed the increasingly greedy prog rock enthusiasts with a delectable new album for consumption. Sure, I used a food based metaphor, but that’s because although the last LP (Zeitgeist) was in 2007, it’s actually not since the 90’s that we’ve heard the real Smashing Pumpkins as we know them. People have gotten hungry for another ‘Gish’ or ‘Mellon Collie…’. An audio famine; a swarm of people now in their 20’s and 30’s with pot bellies pleading with Billy Corgan to once again give them sustenance… But that’s enough of the food based metaphor. Fortunately for the public he’s rooted out the blueprints of his formative years and created a record that endears to those values but with a modern edge. Dynamically as a whole it ticks boxes; heavy riffs interspersed with acoustic verses or synthesizer drop outs. It’s consistently propped up with a well produced bottom end featuring eloquent drum parts and bass sounds that have more grit in them than a 2010 Coen Brothers film. These actually belong to new recruits Mike Bryne and Nicole Fiorentino, creating a 2.0 version of the band alongside fresh guitarist Jeff Schroeder. The opener ‘Quasar’ is a leviathan of sonic noise likely to wake a coma ward in an abrupt and undignified manner. Think gleeful relatives but soiled beds. Other tracks such as ‘The Celestials’ sculpt a lysergic dreamscape; full of colour if you close your eyes, or happen to ingest the right prescription medicines. It’s not until ‘The Chimera’ that it regains the initial intensity of the premier track. This is perhaps the most palpable example of old Pumpkin meets new Pumpkin. However, my favourite track is ‘Glissandra’ if you care. You probably don’t. It just seems that it’s a direction that could of come sooner and saved a lot of hassle for fans and band alike. This is just a section however, as the project dubbed ‘Teargarden by Kaleidyscope’ is set to be a 44 track aural odyssey in its entirety. So rest assured prog rock enthusiasts; everybody can enjoy a slice of ‘Pumpkin pie’. Metaphorically. SG
Serj Tankian - Harakiri "Harakari" which is a Japanese term for ritualistic suicide is Serj Tankian's third solo album. Interesting and controversial title, but what else do you expect from him! Takian's solo breakthrough came with his release of debut record, "Elect The Dead", as before he was best known as frontman of rock band, System Of A Down. His latest solo work is more bold and daring than ever (in terms of musical experimentation and lyrically, characteristically focusing on politics and cultural issues), making this arguably his best solo work to date. First track "Cornucopia" has a good heavy rock and melodic sound with interesting lyrics about how we abuse the earth and will be the cause of the downfall of it. Good varied vocals from Serj. Good one to start with, as sets the stage for the rest of the what's to come, especially in terms of lyrical themes. "Figure it out" embraces more of a System Of A Down sound, with a heavy riff driving it, and great instrumentation that compliments his vocals. Serj does his usual bombardment of unusual ramblings that leave you bemused, trying to decode it..this is part of the appeal..I guess we have to 'figure it out'. This is a definite hightlight. "Ching Chume" is a brilliantly weird middle eastern almost rap chant and Serj shows of his ever expanding range of vocals, reaching heights that many will never achieve in many ways with strange sounds supporting him! Wonderfully weird, ramdom yet clever lyrics. This is one of best moments on the album. Title track "Harakari" is a slower and more mellow track, however it still remains powerful,as it was written about the deaths of birds and fish around the world in January 2011, "The drum fish, they beached themselves in harakari". The symbolic ominous sign of things that were happening in the world inspired Serj to write the song, making this a very eye opening track. "Uneducated Democracy" has a fast punk vibe to it at times and hard hitting heavy riffs and ever changing interesting rhythms. This is a bold song, stating "without education there is no real democracy", Serj as always get his thoughts across in a effective way. "Forget Me Knot" has the most sincere striking vocals and lyrics, in what is probably the best vocal performance seen throughout the album, as more stripped back at times and Serj shows of his more classic operatic style wails. "Reality TV" has great instrumentation, including acoustic guitars, sitars and electronic sounds. One of the best tracks in my opinion. Strong lyrics about modern life and its abominations, being Reality TV in this case, "I abhor the whore who calls herself reality tv". Brilliantly written with great melodies and riffs. Harakari is like Serj intended; it is very eye opening, and pushes the boundaries of lyrical themes and experimenting with different sounds. CL
Lipona - Networks Lipona don't sit comfortably into one set genre, yet that's their selling point. Their latest EP 'Networks' is an amalgamation of a string of styles that work together effortlessly. There's strong melodic nuances, a pop punk flavour meshed with flat out punk aggression; there's a lot to offer. While opener 'Followers' toys with a recording of George Carlin discussing religion before leaping into an upbeat musical assault, 'Comfort' slows things down with sleek guitar. Restrained vocals span the verse before the song thrashes into life, perfectly demonstrating the contrasts possessed within the EP. 'On Giants' speeds through a mass of technicality, from the lightning guitar, succinct drums and powerful vocal reach. 'Distance' is a musical journey. Almost seven minutes in length, it begins upbeat and catchy as the number gradually grows in it aggression. Midway, it cuts to silence before a drawn out, airy reprise fills the remaining time before dropping into the anarchic finale 'Collapse', which sees the EP go out on a bang. What's most impressive is not necessarily the mass of styles the band include, but the sheer precision they bring to everything. It's tight, be it those metal stylings or the moments that teeter on pop punk, and 'Networks' affirms that Lipona are a band not only willing to push themselves, but do it to a very high standard. HM
The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten Since their breakthrough album, The ‘59 Sound, came out in 2008, The Gaslight Anthem have become one of alternative rocks most successful young bands. Their last album, American Slang, went to number sixteen on the Billboard Charts and the touring demands for the New Jersey boys has seen them play shows all over the world. On Handwritten, their fourth studio effort, the band seem to have delved back into the spirit of their aforementioned breakthrough. Yes, the cleaner, more sculpted choruses of American Slang are present but the overall vibe is one of punk influenced vintage rock with introspective lyrics that we can all relate to. Themes of lost love, life and memories of youth are all sung with so much passion and veracity and at times this can be an emotive listen. Highlights include opener, 45, which showcases the bands knack for writing super-catchy rock songs. Mulholland Drive demonstrates the band’s hard rocking abilities, with a driving rhythm section and great lead guitar parts. Too Much Blood is a heart-on-sleeve outpouring of emotion that sits Brian Fallon head and shoulders above his peers when it comes to impassioned lyric writing. As ever the Springsteen, Clash and New Jersey influences are present but The Gaslight Anthem have used them to help create their own style. Pure passion, classic melodies and timeless lyrics help to make this one of the albums of the year. GM
The Early November - In Currents New Jersey five-piece, The Early November, are back with ‘In Currents’, their third full-length album and the first since reuniting after a six year hiatus. The band have picked up where they left off and delivered another solid dose of emotional rock. Musically, their pace has slowed and made way for songs that have more emphasis on melody. One of the key factors in making this album a successful comeback is Arthur Enders’ vocals, which have in no doubt matured over the last six years. Although his voice is still easily recognisable, he has added gruff, harsher tones that really help to put across the emotion of his lyrics, ‘Lay me out over a burning fire‘, he pours out on the excellent, Frayed In Doubt. Their playing has matured also, piano parts, string sections and layered synths really help to give the songs more weight whilst still remaining subtle and atmospheric, check out opener, A Stain On The Carpet, for a great example of this. Other highlights include the brooding, mid-tempo stomp of Guilt & Swell, with its great guitar hook and huge vocal. A solid return that will see old fans come streaming back. Their biggest challenge now will be convincing younger fans to get on board and if they had any sense, they definitely would. GM
Tafijah Allstars Their Facebook page states, “Tafijah Allstars believe that practice does not make perfect... it just papers over the cracks,” and it could be said that this theology appears to be all too evident throughout the debut EP from this Chepstow based group. Currently looking to widen their horizons out towards Bristol and beyond, Tafijah Allstars' debut EP is like a B-movie heroine; a little rough around the edges, but with eyes that show no fear and an attitude more than capable of giving you a black eye if you go looking for it. Opening track, the bittersweet 'Pencil to Paper' sets the tone nicely, with echoes of The King Blues and Bag of Toys coming through the reggae rhythms and classic chord structures. The glistening harmonica paints an extra layer of emotion over the lyrical content of 'Scruff Man', and gives Tafijah Allstars a vague, though all-important, sense of an identity. However, as final track 'Pennies' comes to an end, it leaves behind it the feeling that perhaps a live recording would be the way to go for this band – something to capture the essence of what they do, rather than trying to artificially create it the next day.The EP is still full of life and features some solid musicianship. This lowbudget, could fall apart at any time vibe radiates from the music these guys make, and though to some they may not sound like they are taking things seriously enough, Tafijah Allstars posses an undeniable spirit, and what does come across, very clearly, is that this is a band who like to play, and with a little more time behind them, could be on to something bright. GT
FRIDAY Download doesn't get off to the best start with the mud ridden ground and foreboding rain that unfortunately strikes Cancer Bats and Rise To Remain's sets out completely, as it delays the arena being opened for two hours, so...
Silent Descent - are the first band of the festival for me and they kick things off well with their innovative strange mix of metalcore and trance that intrigues you..much like lead singer, Tom Watling's massive mohawk! A great fun and energetic set that I highly enjoyed, these guys have created an interesting sound!
Billy Talent - From what I caught of this canadian quartet they were on top form with a good mix of energy and stage presence and pulled out all their big anthems Including their latest single, "Viking Death March", "Red Flag" and "Fallen Leaves".
The Defiled - Grab your attention immediately with half naked women in strange latex outfits, stalking and holding knives to them making it very dramatic and setting the mood..none of this distracts from the music, only adds to the memorable performace and shows they put on a show..as they kick ass with their heavy as hell sound! Brilliant, intense and dramatic!
Machine Head - Unfortunately Machine Head were fighting a battle with the wind and rain but i'd say that came out triumphant..nothing can stop their mighty metal! Their brilliant riffs manage to rip through! They open with the dramatic 'I Am Hell' and largely play new material which is no surprise really! But still throw in the popular older tracks, "Imperium" and "Aesthetics Of Hate".
Axewound - Unfortunately I didn't catch this new supergroup's whole set, but did witness one brilliant cover of Pantera's 'Fucking Hostile' which they performed effortlessly and with such ferocity and energy..seeing this band perform is an exciting spectacle! They end with the one track which people will know, "Post-Apocalyptic Party". Considering they are new, they get a hell of a good reception! Both Matt Tuck and Liam Cormier look very comfortable and happy and itching to play their new music.
Nightwish - Stood out for me! Played all the songs, old and new that you wanted, including their bombastic Gary Moore cover, "Over The Hills And Far Away" pleasing the crowd, and the classic "Nemo". Their whole set is filled with energy and drama, including great fireworks and pyrotechnics (dancing along with their folk instrumental piece!) And playing an interesting array of instruments such as flutes and bagpipes..certainly delivered a very interesting and different set!
Slash - Not the first time I have seen Slash ft Myles Kennedy. Always stun you with Slash's
god like status and craftmanship which
Myles compliments extremely well, he really is a fantastic singer, I can't think of anyone better to sing Slash's solo material. A great range of songs from new album,past solo albums favourites such as "Back From Cali" and "Ghost" and gun n roses songs, "Sweet Child O' Mine" and ending with the massively crowd pleasing, "Paradise City".
SATURDAY As I Lay Dying - Provide the early wake up call saturday morning, opening with "The Sound Of Truth". With the misery of the mud and rain some may not have witnessed their set as first band of the day, but I'm glad I did! The bad weather didn't dishearten the crowd that did come out from enjoying themselves and creating mosh pits, something which the band managed easily! Great mix of songs, including, "Condemned", "Nothing Left" and to close their set, "Confined".
Fozzy - Had quite a audience - and not hard to see why with their hard rock hits and Chris Jericho's stage presence and guitarist,Richard Ward's impressive guitarwork! Chris was very lively and exuding confidence (his WWE status probably helps this!). He stole the camera during their final closing song, "Enemy" to back up the lyrics, " I see clearly now.." which fitted well! They may of had a fairly short set, but they certainly made the most of it!
4arm - Australian thrash metal band thoroughly impressed me! At the moment they appear to be a bit underated. Can see big things happening for this band! Brilliant technical thrash that is reminiscent of early Metallica and Pantera! Ferociously loud and intense set throughout! A particular stand out track for me was album titled "Submission For Liberty" from their 2012 album! If you didn't manage to see this band, I recommend you give them a listen!
Trivium - Had alot to live up to from their 2005 appearance at the festival but I think its safe to say they delivered!..Creating over 9 pits is evidence of this!..Terrific! Played songs from new album such as "In Waves" which they opened with, "Dusk Dismantled" and "Black" as well as older tracks, "Pull Harder on the strings of Your Martyr" and "Throes Of Perdition" - They had the crowd in their hands from singing along to creating ridicoulous amount of pits..must have been more than 10. Matt Heavy himself is impressed and says he lost count in the end! The crowd done them proud, just like they did with their pleasing set!..They are still 'martyrs' tonight! Skindred - Having seen Skindred before I know they put on a hell of a good show and that they did! Frontman Benji always dresses to impress and has such stage presence, combine that with super infectious rocking regae tracks, such as "Pressure" and "Warning" and the whole crowd doing the 'Newport helicopter', swinging anything they can around, 'Nobody' goes away disapointed as always!
Killswitch Engage - A big show for them showcasing original singer, Jesse Leach again united with the band! A very powerful performance and the band seem stronger than ever, churning out all their top tracks, including a highly emotive performance of 'My Last Serenade', "My Curse" and ending with 'Holy Diver', which the crowds eat up and shout out!
Metallica - The band of the festival playing their most loved and classic album, 'Black' in its entirety, not in order however, not that this is bad or surprising,as can see why given that their biggest and classic tracks such as, 'Enter Sandman' and 'Sad But True' naturally feel like they should be saved for later. As well as treating us to the whole of the black album we also get tracks such as 'One', "Master Of Puppets", "Battery" and they end with 'Seek and Destroy', a brilliant ending older track. They truly play a spectacular setlist! 'Enter Sandman' is brilliantly executed right down to the well timed fireworks! I personally think their live sound is at its prime. There's a real feel of unity for the love of the band and Hetfield reasserts this by refering to the crowd as the 'Metallica family' throughout the set. "Nothing Else Matters' was quite a sight with thousands of lighters and phones illuminating the arena, making it a special moment within this beast of a set!
SUNDAY Devildriver - Get things pumped up early and manage to get some impression pits going..amongst the many mossers is someone dressed up as mr blobby, which was a definite highlight in my opinion! Their set includes popular tracks such as "Clouds Over California", "I Could Care Less" and "Dead To Rights". Lots of energy from the band, that keeps the mosh pits opening!
Anthrax - Play all the songs you want to hear, like 'Antisocial' and 'Got The Time'. And frontman Joey Belladonna prances around in indian head dress, making for an more interesting and slightly bemusing set! Despite their mega metal status Anthrax unfortunately aren't given a very long set, but they do plough through all the ones you most want to hear to make up for this.
Shadows Fall - Firstly I have to say it was great to catch this American band on a small stage to really appreciate them. Brilliant and powerful set with their melodic metal and brilliant shredding, their blistering set includes the seriously catchy "Still I Rise" and treat us to new songs, "The Unknown" and "Divide and Conquer" from new album, "Fire From The Sky". Not only are you in awe of their set but also of frontman, Brain Fair's seriously long dreadlocks!
Lamb Of God - One of the best bands of the day! Energetic, crowd. Their set is witness to some of the biggest and baddest mosh pits of Download 2012 especially during fan favourite, "Redneck"..I bet some had sore necks after this head banging number! As you would expect they also play the fantastic fast paced lick filled "Laid To Rest" . Must see live band, brilliant skilled guitars and great stage presence and devilish vocals from frontman, Randy Blythe.
Shinedown - Luckily they actually did manage to play on the only day of sun 'shine' at the festival! They have such a great infectious and strong sound. Outstanding vocals from Brent Smith. Have a great stand out sound and play top tracks, "Sound Of Madness", "Devour", "Second Chance" along with new greats, "Bully" and "Enemies".
Megadeth - Truly awesome set playing great range of classics, the undoubtly brilliant, "Symphony of Destruction" which they nailed perfectly! "Sweating Bullets", the popular old track, "Trust" and of course the classic, "A Tout Le Monde" and new favourites such as 'public enemy no 1' and "Head Crusher". The technical ability of the mighty mustaine and Chris Broderick is astounding, and this is particularly prominent in 'She-Wolf'. The crowd show their appreciation by chanting their name, and with this we are rewarded a no-nosense set with minimal talking from Dave Mustaine but just track after track of excellence!
Soundgarden - Big return to the UK after 15 years was no disapointment! The band definately brought something different to all the other acts I saw, I guess being grunge gods, they are in a different calibre to alot of bands playing. Chris Cornell sings flawlessly througout tracks such as "Rusty Cage" and classic grunge track, "Spoonman". Hearing the brilliant 'Black Hole Sun' was a moment I will never forget,and is the highlight of their glourious set. Such a brilliant atmosphere during their set, really was a great comeback!
Rise Against - Draw in an impressive crowd considering that Black Sabbath's return is looming close to their set, but this doesn't affect their performace at all. Play a great set filled with all their best tracks, such as the powerful, "Prayer of the Refugee", and from the new album "Endgame", the very catchy "Help is on the way", "Satelite" and "Make it Stop" and "Saviour" which they save til last.
Black Sabbath - The sheer sight of the collossal crowd that has gathered to see Black Sabbath is impressive enough, and luckily they live up to expectations! Black Sabbath are so influential, even amongst the lineup of the festival, such as Metallica and Anthrax, so it is no surprise they are given the honour of ending the festival. It really is quite mind blowing to see 100,000 people watching the same band! They play their classic tracks as expected, "Paranoid" "Warpigs" and "Iron Man". Despite the original line up not all appearing it doesn't even effect their performance,Ozzy Osbourne seems in great form and Tommy Iommi looks brilliantly unscathed by everything he has been through, they shine through and give a brilliant end to what was a fantastic festival, which despite the early onset of bad weather and the muddy consequences of it, didn't put a dampener on the overall festival fun!
SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL 2012 REVIEW - HATFIELD UNI - MAY 27TH So here we are at Slam Dunk Festival 2012, and once again we have a killer line up to check out, sure you are going to a miss a band that you like, but as soon as you go in, you will be watching someone you want to see all day! There is just so much to choose from, and we love this! The first band we checked out was South Wales finest Straight Lines, the guys are more than confident and pull out a stack of mind melting tracks, it was great to hear some new songs from their new album 'Freaks Like Us' such as 'Commitments' and 'Half Gone' which went down a treat with the early afternoon crowd. We then got to check out Marmozets who are currently being supported by most major publications out there, as they are simply awesome. Their live show is as usual insane, and towards the end of the set we witnessed the guitar and bass player heading in to the crowd to perform, their confidence is impressive and it is only going to help in taking them to the next level, songs of their new EP 'Vexed' go down great, and we for one can't wait to see what's next for this extremely talented upcoming band! Next up we hit the Punktastic stage where they have done a great job in setting up a perfect environment for an acoustic set up! Cartel hit the stage and everyone is singing along straight away, it was exciting to see the band do an acoustic performance, as we rarely get to see the band perform in the UK as it is! Their classic tune 'Honestly' went down extremely well, and only got fans more excited about their stage performance later on that day! So we head back to the main stage to check out the awesome Lower Than Atlantis, now last time we saw them perform at Slam Dunk Festival, they were in one of the smaller rooms, and you could barely get in there! Since this points the bands fan base has clearly grown, as it was tough enough to get remotely close to the front to watch this bands performance. The band treat us to a shed load of tunes of 'World Record' mixed in with a Foo Fighters medley, as well as their new song 'If The World Was To End' it all goes down extremely well with crowd surfers from the left to right, and it's safe to say that this performance has only excited fans more to hear the bands new record! Say Anything perform on the main stage next, sure they have been away for a while but the band do their best to make it seem like yesterday since they were last in the UK by just giving the crowd everything they could! Their new track 'Burn A Miracle' goes down really well with the crowd. We felt that Max Bemmis really did a great job with connecting with the crowd, and it really helped to make an awesome performance! The band round of their slot with the classic 'Alive with the glory of love' this song creates a massive sing along and shows that the band are capable of making a killer comeback, so we for one can't wait to see these guys again! Motion City Soundtrack are just a fantastic band live, I mean to start with Justins voice is always spot on! We got to hear a range of tracks from all of their albums, even their brand new album 'GO' was in the mix and tracks like 'True Romance' went down just great. It was clear to see from this performance that the band do now have a fantastic back catalogue of songs, as every song they pulled out just had a massive sing along! Tracks like 'Everything is Alright' 'LGFUAD' and 'Your Words Destroy My Planet' all went down extremely well, and to be honest there's not much else to say, other than, check this band out live if you have not done so already!
Sure, Funeral For A Friend have just lost their drummer Ryan Richards which of course is sad news for long time fans of the band, but for the band this marks a new chapter. So, equipped with the ex drummer from Rise To Remain 'Pat Lundy' the band were here today to show us that they are here to stay, and that they still do indeed have a long future ahead of them! Showing off their new drummer the band once more give a brilliant performance with a mix of tunes from their previous releases, it was great to see new tunes like 'Damned if you do, dead if you don't' go down well, with a huge circle pit in the middle (Spiderman was even there!), and crowd surfers all over the place it was clear to see that although the band has been around for a decade now, they show no sign of slowing down, and still give a healthy competition to any other band playing on that stage that day! After this we run inside to check out Set Your Goals! As usual the band get everyone up off the floor. Anthems like 'Goonies Never Say Die' 'Mutiny' 'Gaia bleeds' all blow us away and show that Set Your Goals are a perfect festival band, as every time you see them, you are going to have an awesome time! Also, new songs like 'Certainty' go down great with the crowd and it also shows just how well the band have progressed since they started.
â€œAs soon as they hit the stage we see non stop skanking throughout the setâ€? Capdown are also a perfect band for any festival, and. Now just like when we saw them at Hevy Fest the band clearly stated that they were just here for a good time, no new records are on their way, and they are just there because they can! Tunes like 'Cousin Cleotis' & 'Ska Wars' take you back to the days when the UK ska scene was huge and are simply just very enjoyable live. Yeah, these guys won't be back with a new release, but for long time fans of the band this was fantastic to see, and hopefully for them, the band will come back for a handful of rare performances again next year! To finish the festival we have the huge Taking Back Sunday on the main stage. Although Adam Lazara suffered a leg injury by a tree just recently he was still going to give the crowd everything he had, and still managed to work his way around the stage, this alone just shows how much he loves his job, and that surely he just wants to show his fans that nothing can slow him down! With nearly a year since the release of their first record it was interesting to see how well their new tracks were going down live at this point, and well what can we say, they went down great! Tunes like 'El Paso' 'This Is All Now' fit in perfectly with their older tracks. Of course with the return of John Nolan and Shaun Cooper this was all very exciting for the crowd to see, especially when they performed tracks of the classic album 'Tell All Your Friends' as this was indeed the last record they did together as a band before the newest record! The only downer to point out here was that it wasn't really loud enough for a lot of the crowd, and a lot of people started to chant 'turn it up!' but other than this Slam Dunk Festival once again went down a treat, an absolutely fantastic line up, and again raising the bar for an independent music festival! Epic.
Cardiff - July 10th 2012
After patiently waiting a year for Blink-182 to perform at their re-scheduled Cardiff date, it was to say that everyone in the crowd was extremely eager to see the band perform! Kicking straight in with Feeling This the band received an outstanding response from the crowd, with the usual crowd surfers and circle pits kicking straight into motion you knew that it was going to be a good night. It's amazing to see how strong and confident this band still is after all of these years, Mark Hoppus still gives the biggest grins to the crowd, Tom Delogne still makes the occasional joke, and Travis Barker still puts everything he has got into his drumming and shows it off with every beat, in short, it was just awesome to see the band still doing what they love twenty years on. As the set progresses we get treated to some new tracks like 'Up All Night' 'After Midnight' 'Wishing Well' 'Hearts All Gone' which all go down really well with the crowd and show that maybe waiting that year extra to see some new songs in the set, was indeed worth it, as for me it showed a perfect progression from their material on the self titled record to neighborhoods! Mixed in with new tracks we are treated to anthems such as 'All The Small Things' 'What's My Age Again' 'Rock Show' which again, all get the crowd going insane. If all of this wasn't enough for the audience the band went on to add an acoustic performance in the middle of the crowd where they did 'Reckless Abandon' and 'Wasting Time' before the crowd had time to turn around Travis Barker was already on the stage blasting out a huge drum solo which was absolutely fantastic. To conclude the show we were treated with 'Carousel' 'Dammit' and the awesome yet iconic tune 'Family Reunion'. Blink-182 have spent the last twenty years proving how good they are with their pop punk anthems, and without a doubt they will be playing arenas until the end of their career, because shows like tonight, have earnt them the right to do so.
FRIDAY The task of kicking off the main stage fell to South Wales act The People The Poet who have added a violinist and female backing vocalist to today’s line-up to give it that extra special festival feeling. Does it work? It sure does. By mixing their signature twin delayed guitars with the strings the band sound massive here and are definitely a band to keep an eye on over the next few months 7/10. Over at The Cave stepped up Glaswegian pop punk trio Lightguides who tragically play to a much smaller crowd than they deserve. Sounding like Twin Atlantics younger brothers who have discovered Brand New and The Get Up Kids they manage to get the relatively small crowd engaged with every single song they produce. Even though they were on early in the cave everyone that left the moment they finished knew they had seen something special 8/10. Next up on the main stage was Freeze The Atlantic who originated from rising from the ashes that UK cult legends Reuben and Hundred Reasons had left. They should in theory have the experience to nail this show and show the younger bands how it should be done. Unfortunately they don’t come close. Everything just seems to be going through the motions and as the lead vocals get more and more out of tune the crowd at the main stage start to staggering away in search of something for friendly to the ears 5/10. The next band to follow is Leicestershire instrumentalists Maybeshewill. For what seemed like a strange choice for a band on the main stage (there are not going to be any mass sing-along’s are there?) Maybeshewill seem to go down quite well with the 2000 Trees faithful. At first that is. The lack of vocals and something the general crowd could connect to seriously hamper the group from taking it to the next level 6/10. Over at the cave the luscious sounds of Goodnight Lenin are creeping out rather than blasting out. They sound like a modern day Simon and Garfunkel but instead of having atrocious hair the lead singer decides to wear a hideous out of shape cowboy hat. Highlight of the set was their song and tale of “Edward Colby” that boasts gorgeous harmonies and a drum track that slowly builds after each verse. A really great set that shows the real diversity of the festival 7/10.
Before the festival started I don’t think the name of Max Raptor would have been on many peoples lips as the band that would possibly steal the festival. How wrong we all were. From the first note to the final clap and chant of the 5-minute ovation after they had finished their set. This British punk foursome showed that they have an ear for writing brilliant and catchy hooks to get the whole tent singing, chanting and even get them to start a huge circle pit in the mud. They had already staked their claim as being the band to beat but once they stormed into their closer “The King Is Dead” they sealed it. Fantastic set 9/10. If there were any band on the bill that have no fear of following such a good set it would be the noise merchants Marmozets. Never does the young band fail to impress as a live spectacle. Even before Lead singer Becca enters the stage they rest of the band have not left an inch of the stage untouched. Its no wonder every single website and magazine has been raving over this band for the last 12 months and that Kerrang magazine has included Becca in the top 50 rock stars on the planet right now. They really do give out the impression that they are a unique entity and it does leave some of the crowd bewildered by what they are witnessing, but to the people that get it and sing every word to “Onemanwolfpack” this is truly the start of something special 9/10.
Over at the main stage We Were Promised Jetpacks had just started to play in the blistering sun and were starting to go down a treat. The Edinburgh foursomes angular alternative pop is perfect for a festival of this statue and their impressive crowd size was a huge improvement on what anyone had received so far. Their calling card was their track “Quiet little voices” which went down a storm and was reminiscent of a Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs on how much the crowd responded to it 8/10. Following the blinding sets of Max Raptor and Marmozets, Spy Catcher had a real task in front of them, but if they were nervous at all the Watford boys didn’t show it at all. 8/10. Futureheads are the definition of a great festival band. Easy to singalong to, catchy songs, people who don’t know the band can still dance along and they tick every one of these boxes. They gather the biggest crowd of the day and truly should have been chosen to headline the festival on this day. The only possible criticism is that a lot of the crowd think of them as an Alien Ant Farm type of band and are only waiting for their one big hit which happens to be a cover and are singing the main hook before they even get to that song 9/10.
Oh dear oh dear how far have Gallows fallen? Originally one of the best punk bands of the last twenty years, Gallows managed to carry the spirit of the 70’s punk movement and bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. These days Gallows seem to be stuck back in the late eighties American hardcore scene when the meatheads took over. New frontman Wade (Ex Alexisonfire) just doesn’t have the same kind of urgency or believability of previous frontman Frank Carter. In a desperate attempt to prove that he is “Punk” Wade jumps into the crowd and rolls around face first in the mud to try and prove his worth. Apart from this though the sad thing is that vocally Wade isn’t anywhere close tonight and cant even seem to keep up with the band playing behind him (Even they are hugely out of time and sloppy tonight). It’s a real shame because songs like London is the reason go down a storm but when they then go straight into new song A.C.A.B (All Cops Are Bastards) it highlights again how far the quality of the lyrics and performance have slipped and 80% of the crowd watching them seem highly disappointed 6/10. 65DaysOfStatic have the same trouble as Maybeshewill earlier in the day except by this time of night all the crowd want to do is have a mass sing-along and easier music on the ears which is something 65DOS do not provide. Their brand of meteoric instrumentals and soaring guitars sounds unbelievable on record and would go down exceptionally well for their own crowd but as headliners of a festival that have already had such great bands already play on the same stage as them really questions the reason they were picked to headline in the first place. A disappointing way to finish the day on the main stage but not something 65DOS should worry about too much as this isn’t their normal workplace 6/10. Finishing day 1 in the cave are Xcerts of Xtra Mile Records. They seem to have brought in a highly passionate fan base into the tent that treat them as if they are kings of the festival and its all a testament to their hard work on the road over the last few years and their fantastic live performance they have worked so hard on. A truly fitting way to finish the night in the cave and one that the organisers have got absolutely spot on. 8/10 SATURDAY I’m guessing that this will be the last year that we get to see The Bronze Medal open up at a festival as they have the skill and songs to take themselves much higher up any bill. Luscious harmonies and intricate guitar work however is indeed the perfect way to start a festival much in the same vein as The People The Poet from the day before 7/10. Lemington Spa foursome Sharks have been proving their worth as a live band for a while now and their brand of Gaslight Anthem esc pop infiltrates the crowd immediately. Using the opportunity to showcase some new material they seem to convert even more people to their Americana mixed with British punk sound. Great set 8/10. Even though this is the antithesis of a normal hardcore gig Bastions manage to rally their peers into one of the most impressive visuals of the entire weekend. Their brand of melodic hardcore strikes a chord with the crowd who could have quite easily given up with the weather being so atrocious but put in 100% at all times 9/10. Far from being a “Biffy Clyro lite” band that they seem to have been tagged with Arcane Roots brand of fuzzy rock also goes down well and single “In This Town Of Such Weather” is a riot inside the tent. Towards the end of the set you do get the feeling that you have seen all of this before and it does seem to lag. However in the next few years Arcane Roots could really become a band to be reckoned with 7/10. A nice contrast to the bands before them, The Social Club brand of Weezer esc sing-along’s and keyboards is highly welcomed by the mud stained crowd. This band really knows how to write a great pop song. They deserve to have these songs sung by thousands in the shining sun instead of a cramped tent with irritable soaked people but they still go down a storm. Brilliant band with a brilliant set that must see them winning over a new hoard of fans in the wake of this weekend 9/10. The Zico Chains dated rock music is a hugely disappointing next band and are completely out of place at a festival that seems vibrant and looking towards the future. As song as they play the song “Where would you rather be” you instantly think “somewhere else, anywhere else” I’m sure they are going for an early Nirvana sound but today they just sound like Puddle Of Mudd. That’s not a good thing 4/10 Hundred Reasons are the band on everyone’s lips before the festival started and they will still be the band on everyone’s lips at the end. Their debut album is still as staggeringly brilliant as it was ten years ago and tonight we are lucky enough to see it in its entirety 10/10. Lower Than Atlantis has created two of the best albums of the last two years and the anticipation to see them from the packed out tent before they walk on stage is staggering. Mixing songs from the two previous albums and showcasing a brand new tune is blatantly obvious why a major label has just snapped them up. They will be headlining festivals like this in five years time no question about it 9/10. Future Of The Left are South Wales’ Great hope at the moment and they sure as hell did their country proud. Somehow becoming the loudest most unpredictable band of the weekend matching their towering guitars against their thundering feedback they become one of the crowds favourites of the whole weekend and its no surprise why 8/10. Guillemots are the nights headliners and I can’t help but be reminded of 65DOS. Its not that they are bad in anyway, quite the opposite, but because the standard has been so high over the weekend it seems very strange that Guillemots would be the headliner over these acts and the turnout again shows. If they were on earlier in the day I’m pretty positive that they would have gone down a lot better because their style of breezy pop is perfect for a midday festival slot. 7/10 BS
Title. Skyrim: Dawnguard DLC Developer. Bethesda Platform(s). 360, PS3, PC UK Release date: Xbox out now. RATED: 15
So many of you will know that Skyrim was my game of 2011 and, in all honesty, one of my favourite games of all time. I finished most of what Skyrim had to offer within the first few months, and since then I have spent very little time in the game. Until now… the long overdue expansion, and the reported first of ‘many’, Dawnguard is here, so what do we get for out 1600ms £13.50, OR £13.99 if you were too lazy to buy the direct download code. First off, the Dawnguard expansion introduces two new factions, an ancient group of Volkihar vampires lead by the vampire lord Harkon and the Dawnguard - a group of hardened vampire hunters lead by a big hammer-wielding chap named Isran . Your first choice is simple: who do you fight for? If you want to join the vampires, you must become one of them (if you’re a werewolf then you will lose that ability on becoming a vampire). I don’t want to give away the story so I will give the dialogue courtesy of Harkon at this key point. You have found our fortress. You have returned my daughter. But what is it you seek? Is it to be one of us? To make the darkness your own? To feast on the souls of the living...and the dead? Or are you with them? The Dawnguard. They think they can stop us. But we will find them. The Elder Scrolls will be mine. And the tyranny of the sun shall end. Pretty epic stuff, the story will take you to new locations that have their own unique look, offering further variety to the already rich landscape of the main game. The most memorable of which is another plain of oblivion known as the Soul Cairne - an ethereal realm home to trapped souls. There you will find a new mount (no spoilers) which is like nothing you have seen before. This location will also be home to new enemies including an awesome undead dragon!
The second location to contribute to Skyrim’s varied world is the Forgotten Vale, the old home of the elusive Snow Elves, now teaming with their twisted decendents the Falmer. This area is vast, colourful and home to one of the most epic dragon fights in the game. Finally the two locations that stand out are our new faction bases, Fort Dawnguard and the Castle Volkihar, both of which reflect their hosts perfectly. Overall we are getting more for our money than a bit of extra story and locations, more gear, including the Dawnguard factions exclusive weapon the crossbow (linked to the archery skill tree). It is slower at reloading than a bow but packs a bigger punch than most other ranged weapons. Last but not least Dragonbone weapons are finally here and I am proud to say they do not disappoint; their design is striking, and their stats are equally impressive boasting the highest stats of any weapon so far seen in Skyrim. We all felt that horses were lacking in any real purpose, other than the fact they could glitch their way up otherwise un-scalable obstacles. Bethesda were clearly aware of this so finally mounted combat is here, allowing you to charge into combat with powerful melee attacks: simply have a melee weapon equipped and use the L trigger to attack to the left and R trigger to attack to the right, Archery sucks on horse back and you can’t use magic, so it still feels like being mounted is still just a way to glitch up mountains, which is a shame. Dawnguard introduces some new enemies namely: frost giants, new undead enemies, vampires, gargoyles and a few more that I won’t mention (spoilers). These new foes help to expand and break up the rather bandit and daedra infested world. The features keep on coming thick and fast with the ability to now change your character’s appearance, which many players will love, no race change but at last you can give your character that new haircut they ‘so sorely needed’. I made my character look older… uber nerdy I know, but I felt it was a nice use of the feature. With the new expansion being very much based on vampires, Bethesda obviously needed to do something to make being one exciting, so now transforming into a Vampire lord, will A) make you look like Nosferatu and B) allow you access to the Vampire skill tree to start developing your vampire form into a formidable force. Thankfully those of us that don’t fancy being a blood sucking, pant-wearing weirdo, but did want to stay/become a big gnarly werewolf will A) look like a bad ass werewolf, B) have access to the all new skill tree and finally C) sleep well in the knowledge that you are not a lame vampire. Both trees are levelled up through feeding in each of the forms, and I have found they level up rather quickly. By now it should be clear that what Dawnguard does - is add more to a game that already offered a lot. New editions to what I refer to as ‘end game’ features such as the introduction of legendary dragons that appear post level 70 will even give hardcore players a shock and certainly offer a test of skill, furthermore new shouts and of course, all the kinect features will give veterans more toys to play with.
Title. Diablo III Developer. Blizzard Platform(s). MAC, PC UK Release date: Out Now RATED: 15
Okay, so with this being part 2 of my review and the game having been out for 2 months this review will likely contain what many will perceive as spoilers. However on the upside I have covered all the groundwork in my previous review, so this will contain the thoughts of someone who has invested 100+ hours into the game. From the get go I would like to say this game is awesome, but this review will pick it to pieces. So let’s start by getting the story out of the way: in short Diablo III is broken down into 4 acts each ending with a main boss battle. Act 1: a new hero comes to town in the shape of us (after picking a class), so we arrive at the village with the aim to discover what caused this meteor to fall. Ending with us discovering what/who the meteor is. Act 2: we find ourselves in a desert, equipped with a large palace and it’s young ruler. You arrive in pursuit of a boss you expected to kill in the first act, kill them and another even bigger boss. Act 3: we become a key part of fighting off a giant army of demons trying to lay waste to a fort, protect the fort and go kill their leader (equipped with nipple rings). Finally we climax in the more memorable Act 4: we head up to ‘heaven’ to tackle the end boss (no prizes for guessing who it could be) and fulfil our destiny. Through the story our hero will be referred to as ‘Nephalem’ (what this means exactly doesn’t seemed to be explained in the game) I assume that it might explained in one of the numerous hidden pieces of lore in the game, or it may be clearer if I played the previous games. However for someone like me who isn’t a longstanding fan of the franchise, aspects of the story were completely lost on me, which I then had to reluctantly research. So my first major issue with the story is too much expectation on players to know the entire back-story, which is bonkers when it’s been 12 years since Diablo II. My second issue: is there are very few boss battles and when they do come around they only feel epic once. Overall there are too few memorable moments, some amazing cut scenes that have all the hallmarks of ‘no expense spared’, but most key narrative points become lost to repetition and the fact that Diablo III is not really about story, the game is based around killing and looting and it’s survival is very much based on the obsessiveness of it’s player base to keep wanting to do this. So you play the game 4 times on varying difficulties, all the time continuing to level up your character all the way to the level 60 cap – gathering new abilities and honing your skills. The 4th time around, prepare to enter Inferno mode: normal mode is far too easy, and anyone who plays through normal mode and raises their hands at the end and says ‘I’ve completed Diablo 3’ is – I’m afraid to say – mistaken. The problem lies in the big question: what difficulty setting of Diablo III is the right balance of ‘fun’ and ‘challenging’? This is a difficult question to answer and one that sparks great debate. You keep your gear as you restart the game for higher difficulty, however the leap from Hell to Inferno is well, one full of frustration and in all honesty the point where I decided that I had enough. Inferno mode is the ultimate test of skill, it’s the place where people show their dedication and determination, but for me, and the vast majority of people out there - it stinks of ‘elite’, a lot of effort and very little reward.
The heightened difficulty changes the game entirely from a demon massacre into a frustrating puzzle. What annoys me is there is very little reward for taking on this challenge, so why bother? It’s a question I can’t answer, because I couldn’t be bothered. This puzzle requires you to suddenly look at the game in a whole other light, stats like resistance become invaluable, suddenly DPS is not your primary concern, survival is. Enemies go from being ‘just another demon’ to these dreaded creatures that if you don’t get every click of the mouse perfect then prepare to die and be hit with a hugely unreasonable repair bill. Many will refer to Inferno as ‘end game’ well it’s not, it’s the ‘same game’ just made very, very hard. As for Hardcore mode it’s just the same game again, but if you die… that’s it, restart the game: it’s punishing, but strangely thrilling. Playing with friends, is of course a great way to break up the repetition, and does indeed open it up to potentially endless play and ultimately where Blizzard show their community building credentials. Influences from Blizzards flagship MMO World of Warcraft are very clear and seamlessly implement the tools needed to turn Diablo III from a solo game into a multiplayer platform, from the Chat box in the corner, the ease of grouping and jumping into friends’ games with a single satisfying click. Diablo III is without a doubt a great game to play with up to 3 friends, offering challenges without the meaningless frustration of solo play. Finally the feature that has caused the most debate: the Auction House (AH) has been going through many changes, especially now as I write this the Real Money AH has been causing a stir by rising the cost of ingame currency items, meaning some items are upwards of 30,000,000 gold. Playing the Auction House is a game in itself, just look for those perfect items (as items in Diablo have random stats, this can take some time), bid smart and don’t fall prey to people charging silly amounts of gold. As for real money I think it’s crazy, spending your hard earned money on virtual items is well… stupid. (Debate?) So to wrap this up, Diablo III is incredible and truly is the king of it’s genre. It will undoubtedly be remembered as another roaring success for Blizzard. However as you progress to ‘end game’ it’s insanely difficult, like at times you will actually think it is impossible. Elite enemies with abilities that when combined make them unbeatable, will no doubt at times push you to just leave the game (my advice) go do something else before you leg drop your computer Hulk Hogan style! Fixes to the game: very few login error messages, early class issues have been addressed and there are far fewer disconnects. The game has definitely become polished since launch, however not all changes have been beneficial - I maintain my feeling about current repair costs being unjust. How to play Diablo III: Play with character builds, experiment with different classes and come up with a character that suits your play style. However as the game gets harder you may find yourself being forced to pick certain skills just to stay alive, by this point you won’t feel hard done by, there is more than enough content - that is not painfully frustrating to warrant your £45. For most people, like me - as soon as you get into Inferno mode you’ll be thinking ‘really, I don’t have time for this’ and I don’t blame you. There are many people who happen to agree with me, just head over the Blizzard Forums for more QQing. Disclaimer any ‘elite/pro’ players reading this that might be thinking ‘man this dude hates this game cus he sucks’ my answer is I suck at games that give me no reason to become good at them, this game is amazing but I have no reason to go back to it, however I think Blizzard thought people like me would. There are of course people out there who will love the challenge and revel in the fact they are achieving in a game that most people would deem ‘impossible’. I applaud their tenacity but I do not share in their obsession.
It’s fair to say that Spiderman 3 was far from spectacular, and Tobey Maguire was not the right choice to play the part spider, part human, superhero. Fear not though, Marvel’s Spiderman is righting his wrongs with some help from Andrew Garfield. This film is purely a revamp of the previous Spiderman series, which it can be said focussed slightly too much on the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane. It still plays a part in the latest movie, which this time features actress Emma Stone. Like all superhero movies, you don’t have to guess how the film is going to end, and the same goes with this film. Peter Parker is left an orphan at an early age and left in the care of his uncle who is later killed. He then goes on the search for his fathers former partner and establishes one of what will become many enemies. But it’s Garfield who adds the edge to this one, his acting displaying a sense of maturity and wisdom which was never really seen in the previous arachnid superhero chronicles. The Spiderman movies always include that element of fun, and this chapter is no different. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take a downward spiral much like the previous trilogy. Jesse Eisenberg goes from owning Facebook to robbing banks in a matter of 12 months, but this has been no downward spiral. Eisenberg plays the part of Nick, who we assume has just recently graduated and found himself working in a downscaled version of pizza hut delivering pizzas in the rust bucket which is his car. Meanwhile Dwayne (Danny Mcbride) and his sidekick and part-time punch bag Travis (Nick Swarsdon) come up with a plan to exterminate McBride’s millionaire father. Of course they don’t want to get their hands dirty so the pair decide they need $100,000 dollars to hire a hitman, and this is where Eisenberg comes back into the picture. They kidnap Nick and with the use of explosives strapped to his chest, convince him to rob a bank in order to fund the hitman. Nick manages to talk his school teacher friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) into giving him an extra hand with robbing the bank. 30 Minutes or Less received quite a low key cinema release, and it’s hard to understand why. Sure, the plot is beyond ridiculous, but it beats the likes of the Hollywood structured movies which we are faced with on a day to day basis. Although Eisenberg and McBride play their parts equally as humorously, it’s Ansari who generates the most laughs in this one with his, at times, light hearted approach on the crimes the pair commit.
In terms of ways to spend your final few hours prior to the apocalypse, it could get worse than hooking up with Keira Knightly. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World tells the story of Dodge (Steve Carell) who has been abandoned by his wife and found himself having a poorly timed mid-life crisis. When better than this to be introduced to your emotionally fragile next door neighbour, Penny (Keira Knightly). Together the two go on the search for Carell’s ‘one that got away’ and before you know it, the bonding begins between the unlikely pairing. It has to be said that matchmaking probably isn’t the best idea when you’re staring up at the meteor which will soon destroy your planet, but needless to say, the two continue with their road trip to find Carell’s long lost love. What with it being 2012 and the end of the world (apparently) edging closer, we had to expect at least one film to play on the scenario, but let’s hope this isn’t the one we go out on. Predictable from the beginning this film lacks any stand out moments but Carell does manage to rescue this disaster somewhat with his melancholic one-liners to which we are already accustomed. This end of the world rom-com may be the first of its kind, and with the tiniest glimmer of potential I sense we could be seeing a few more. This is looking to be the comedy movie of the year. The Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane has stepped into Hollywood and he’s bought a not so cute teddy bear with him. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, who as a child wished that his cuddly bear (Ted) would come to life. Needless to say the wish comes true and the pair remain attached at the hip up to the present day of the film. The movie focuses on the relationship between Wahlberg and Ted which eventually gets to boiling point when the immature Wahlberg is ditched by his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) for spending too much time with his soft toy companion. Wahlberg blames Ted for this and the two are split up. Expect your fair share of swearing and general crudities for which Seth McFarlane’s programmes have become renowned for. The concept for the film is ridiculous, but it is set to take the box office by storm. If you are yet to see the trailer for Ted yet, make sure you do it. You will have no choice but to watch the film afterwards.AG
one to watch...
Billy Talent, Motion City Soundtrack, Senses Fail, Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Saves The Day, Random Hand, Piano Becomes The Teeth,
Published on Jul 21, 2012
Billy Talent, Motion City Soundtrack, Senses Fail, Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Saves The Day, Random Hand, Piano Becomes The Teeth,