Stray Weather – Ever Endeavour Review

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When even the press release is unsure of how to describe the Leeds-based, four-piece Stray Weather, how am I supposed to describe their second EP, Ever Endeavour? Am I supposed to use ‘alternative alternative’ or ‘electopock’? I think it’s fair to say that Stray Weather are eclectic enough to defy description and it’s reflected in the four tracks found on Ever Endeavour.

Starting the EP is the lead single Oh Reflection. Built around a developing motif and the repeated phrase “oh reflection”, the song just builds and builds until lead vocalist Mikey Brown can only scream the words. It’s simple but powerful. It’s followed by What Would Your Mother Say? A fast paced, EDM barrage of questions over heavy instrumentation that somewhat reflects the nature of the lyrics Brown raps. It’s a hard hitting masterpiece broken up by moments of contrasting silence that emphasise the weight of the lyrics.

Fairytales slows things down with a piano melody and a sampled female vocal that screams “nothing between us” and touches on unrealistic expectations with mention of fairytale clichés – “I will seal our love forever with an enchanted magical ring” being a personal highlight.

There is a noticeable difference between Ever Endeavour and Stray Weather’s debut EP, Tragedy and it’s mostly signified by the way the lyrics and instrumentation appear to flow in tandem on the new release – explained by Tragedy being written when Stray Weather was a solo project conducted by Brown. There’s a more personable note to the lyrics that show a vulnerability whilst also offering a hand to those in need with the “I’m here and I’ll always listen” lines in the chorus to the final track, You’re Not Alone.

Listening to this EP just once isn’t enough to satisfy your mind so it’s a good job that it’s worth listening to all over again.

★★★★☆

 

Stream Ever Endeavour on Spotify
Purchase Ever Endeavour on iTunes

An Interview with Joe Ragosta of Patent Pending

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Interview by Ruby Price

Patent Pending are back in the UK for another Spring Break tour and before the second family reunion started at Manchester Academy 3, I caught up with lead singer Joe Ragosta who had to be prised away from a growing queue of adoring fans wanting selfies and signatures.

The punk rock band from New York are in their 17th year as a band with five studio albums and 12 Eps. “What’s crazy about it is that I’ve been in this band way more than half my life, basically it’s been my life, so it’s been great. Everything’s good. No complaints.” Ragosta reflects. “Being in a band is a weird thing because it’s exactly what you make it to be. It can be very difficult and frustrating, disheartening and stuff but if you don’t let that happen then it’s really really fun. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s a lot of fun. So I guess my life has been a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”

The line-up of the five piece currently consists of Joe Ragosta (vocals), Marc Kantor (guitar), Rob Felicetti (guitar), Corey DeVincenzo (bass) and Anthony Mingoia (drums) however, in the time since the band’s formation in 2001 a number of line-up changes took place. “We basically figured out that to exist for this long, obviously there was going to be some member changes. People have to live a life and, for some people, you learn you have to grow out of certain stuff” Joe tells me. “We’ve learned that as long as good people are in the band, the dynamic is the same. Great people are in the band so we’re having a great time.”

In September 2013, they released their massive hit single Hey Mario which has racked up nearly two million plays on Spotify since, proving to be the band’s biggest song so far. Curious to know if they expected it to take off I asked if it was just something that happened naturally, to which the singer said “I’ll tell you this. Every time that you write a song, no matter how bad it is, you’re always super connected to it at first. So, at first, any song – even the worst songs I’ve ever written – you’re like ‘this is a smash’. We call it demoitis. It’s basically how you get when you write a song. ‘Hit, this is amazing’ and then you wake up the next morning and you realise that it’s awful. The good news is that we woke up after Hey Mario and it wasn’t awful. I just thought it was fun and funny and different to a lot of stuff that was out there. So I knew it was special. I’ve been in the band long enough to know that almost nothing will be a hit, so we’re very excited people gravitated towards that one.”

They followed the song up in 2014 with a six track EP titled Mario & the Brick Breakers: Greatest Hits and a 28-minute mockumentary parodying the Mario characters. “I don’t know why no one told me ‘no’” Joe starts. “My brother had this idea, because we had to do a music video for Hey Mario, to do a ‘behind the music’ thing. It was supposed to just be three minutes long and we turned it into an eight-month project and there’s a version of the movie that’s an hour and ten minutes long. I had a great time but I think the people around me had to have thought I was actually clinically insane because I kept wanting to add stuff. I even grew a real moustache for it.”

The EP gave the band a chance to experiment with their musical style as well, with only two of the songs carrying Patent Pending’s usual punk rock genre. “That’s the funniest part. We did Up in My Tower, which is like a filthy Christina Aguilera circa-2001 song. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, the Mario brothers are in a band with Toad and Yoshi and they have this long, illustrious career and at one point they were really into drugs, meaning the mushrooms from the game Super Mario and there’s a song called Boom Boom, Pass The Mushroom and it’s like a reggae song about drugs, but it’s a joke. We had this serious, serious fan in Birmingham who sent us an email, like a scathing letter like ‘you guys have changed… you’re promoting drug use, this sucks and I hate you… I thought you were good people.’ When we wrote back, I was like ‘it’s okay if you feel this way but have you ever played Nintendo?’ and they said ‘no.’ I was like ‘okay dude, this is a joke and that’s part of the game and we’re completely kidding.’ And they went and played the game and then understood, but they were so mad at us. But yeah, it was a really fun thing. The whole thing was amazingly fun. And what’s really cool is that sometimes people use the song Rainbow Road as their wedding song. That’s hilarious… and beautiful.”

Patent Pending Other People's Greatest Hits FINAL ART

On the 17th of April, a new studio album was announced. Other People’s Greatest Hits is a 10 track covers album and the first single off it, a cover of Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life was released on the same day. “First thing’s first. If you don’t like it, we didn’t write it. We claim no responsibility” the 33-year old joked. “It sounds like old-school Patent Pending playing already hit songs. It’s really, really fun. I had a blast making it with everybody and I can’t imagine a Patent Pending fan not liking it. I hope some new fans check it out because they were searching for that other song on the internet and find us by mistake. That’s always funny.”

If you attended two randomly selected dates on any of Patent Pending’s UK tours, you would spot many familiar faces in the crowd. As it happens, there are a number of fans who follow the band to most, if not all, of the dates on their tours. After asking Joe if he knew why this was, he said “We have this thing called the Second Family. It’s this idea that you always have a home here at Patent Pending shows, and even more than that, you always have a home in the rock ‘n’ roll world because it’s usually made up of like-minded people who’ve been through the same stuff. Everybody’s different but everybody, at least at our shows, is accepted. I think we’re a type of band that people feel comfortable going to every single show for because we’re very real. There’s no smoke and mirrors with our band. What you see on stage is who we are, what you see on our everything is who we are.” The current tour has 12 dates which, as you can imagine, involves travelling up and down the United Kingdom and going as far as Glasgow and Swansea. “It’s very flattering when you see that people have taken two weeks out of their life to quit everything else and just spend money. Spend it on hotels and driving – I don’t know how much it costs these people to do this – it’s amazing. It’s so crazy to see it happen and for the numbers to grow every year is really cool. I don’t know why exactly but I’m flattered by it and if I had to give an answer, I’d say it’s probably because we’re a weird family.”

Having only seen them in the UK, I was curious to see if it was anything like that in America. “The US is different because the US is gigantic. It’s very difficult to do that. Your whole country is like the size of some of our states and there’s 50 of them. We’re doing the Simple Plan tour this summer and some of the drives are 15 hours long so it’s very hard to follow if you’re doing that tour. That being said, people have done it in the past.”

In March 2016, the single Six Feet from the band’s previous studio album Riot Hearts Rebellion was released. The music video was played on Kerrang! TV a number of times and received a load of radio airplay which Ragosta said was awesome. “It was really cool because we always like to do different things, and y’know, this band is our life and you’re not the same person every day. It was cool to see rock music get behind that because it was a pretty predominantly-pop track. That song is very personal to me because it’s about how I have a family and I’m also in a band and most of the time those things don’t mix. But I found a way to try and it just means I’ll never sleep again, and that’s what that song’s about.”

If you’ve ever been to see Patent Pending live and they played Anti-Everything, you’ll know that the live song features a ‘boyband dance’ where the four members not playing drums perform a dance you would expect to see during a One Direction concert. I wanted to know where the idea came from. “It was just an idea to be hilarious” the singer told me. “We were writing the song, me and Josh (long-time song-writing collaborator) and I said ‘this part should be weird… we should make it like a boyband’ and he was like ‘sick.’ So we did it and we had this guy Jeremy Carr sing on it, he’s awesome. When we were gonna play it live, I said we should just play that part on a track, it’ll be hilarious. But we couldn’t just play it and stand there, it’d be way funnier if we danced like a boyband. So, cut to a week later, five of us on my parent’s front lawn choreographing a boyband dance to a 30 second part of our song. The best part is when we have fill-ins and we have to teach them how to do the dance… Now that’s funny.”

The songs One Less Heart to Break and Brighter are just two of the band’s songs that really hit on an emotional level which I’ve witnessed people break into tears when they’ve heard them played live. “It’s a crazy thing because it’s not something that’s talked about very much and a lot of people who struggle with those things don’t want to talk about it, whereas the best possible thing to do would be to talk about it. Sometimes when you hear that type of thing, it triggers a reaction. When you realise that “okay, I’m not the only person who feels this way, I’m not the only person who’s going through this, there are other people and I can get help”. It’s almost like hope. So it’s almost like you’re crying out of hope.” Asked what the reaction from those people meant to him, Joe said “that reaction to me means everything because I think it’s amazing that music has the power to do such a thing. It’s so important that music has different sides to it. It’s so important that it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s heavy, it’s hard and soft, it’s meaningful and stupid. Whatever the song is, it should trigger a reaction. And to know that that song can help people is an amazing thing. Every time I see that it’s great to know that that person, at least for the moment, remembers that they have somewhere they can go and be a part of something.”

Mallory Knox Review|Live at Sheffield Leadmill

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Written by Jamie Downie and Tom Dawes

Having played Download, Reading & Leeds, and Slam Dunk festival, and now touring their 3rd album Wired, this explosive rock five-piece are no newcomers to success. We got the pleasure of seeing the first of Mallory Knox’s sold out headline gigs on the tour.

 

On Saturday, March 25th, we headed down to Sheffield’s famous Leadmill. Fortunately for us, there was not just one great band on, but three! It was a sold out event with Fatherson, Lonely the Brave, and Mallory Knox headlining.

 

Scottish band Fatherson were the first on stage, and they started the night off brilliantly. Their mix of anthemic rock tunes and indie guitar tones sounded huge and the subtle vocal acrobatics effortlessly performed by singer Ross Leighton added a unique flare. Song after song, we were surprised by their high-quality song writing and fantastically tight rhythm section, especially that of drummer Greg Walkinshaw, who played remarkably perfectly throughout Fatherson’s set. Watch out for Fatherson in the future!

 

Then was Cambridge band Lonely the Brave. Their sound could be described as a tasty mix of massive Biffy Clyro-style choruses and catchy Snow Patrol-esque melodies and chord progressions. They played another great performance, and Lonely the Brave’s singer, David Jakes, another great vocalist, singing impressively high notes without so much as flinching. Their vibe was close to that of Fatherson but perhaps a touch darker and more post-hardcore compared to Fatherson’s indie sound.

 

Both support acts received very good receptions from the crowd, who were all firmly into them. However, miraculously, they saved their energy for the main event. Finally, Mallory Knox take to the stage, starting off with their lead single off of the new album, “Giving it Up”, quickly followed by “Ghost in the Mirror”, a fan favourite off of their second album “Asymmetry”. The rowdy Leadmill crowd are cramped together for this sold out show, yet still find the energy to dance, bounce, and mosh to a mixture of new songs like “California” and “Wired” and older classics like “Beggars” and “Wake Up”. Knox keep the crowd entertained throughout, however, to hype their new songs up. Bassist Sam Douglas often sings along with the crowd, albeit with some crazy facial expressions, while frontman Mikey Chapman belts out the singalong choruses and controls the crowd fantastically. The highlight of the night was 9 songs in, when Chapman got the crowd to get down low, only to bounce up like crazy to the incredibly catchy second single off of the new album, “Lucky Me”. After playing “Shout at the Moon”, arguably their most famous song due to radio airplay, they finished their main set with “Saviour”, a new song hoping for some good in the midst of many divisive political decisions over the past year. They soon returned for an encore, ending the night on a high with “Lighthouse” off of their first album and their new single “Better Off Without You”. The boys performed incredibly well, and the fans responded above and beyond. They had a right to chant “YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE!” at the top of their lungs throughout the set. As for the bands, all three are fantastic live, and we can guarantee that seeing them in the future will be worth every penny!

An Interview with Vukovi (and their van driver Steve)

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Interview by Jamie Downie and Tom Dawes

Tom (TD): Yeah if you could all just like introduce yourselves to begin with?

Janine Shilston (JS): Hi I’m Janine and I’m in Vukovi

Jason Trotter (JT): Yes you are

JS: And I’m an alcoholic

(laughter from all)

JT: Hi my name’s Jason and I play bass

Colin Irving (CI): Hi I’m Colin and I play drums

Hamish Reilly (HR): Hello I’m Hamish and I play guitar

Jamie (JD): So you guys are currently touring to promote your new self-titled album which was released yesterday, (which is) fantastic by the way, (I) love it. What was the recording process for the album like, and how did you go about to make the album sound the way it does?

JS: Honestly…

HR: Two words: Bruce Rintoul (the album’s producer)

JS: Yeah, Bruce Rintoul basically. He just exceeded our expectations completely. Like… I don’t know, I just feel like he took it the next level

TD: Yeah, the production was really something

JS: Aye, I can’t compliment him enough about it because he made our lives so much easier

HR: Do you know Bruce Rintoul?

JD and TD: No…

HR: He did, like, Fatherson’s last album

JD: Ahh right, yeah

HR: He’s like one of the best guys in Glasgow

JS: In the UK I’d say!

HR: (He’s also done stuff for) Eliza and the Bear

JS: Aye

JT: What was really good about this time was that we have always been hard on ourselves in terms of songwriting, like we’ll always be really picky when putting stuff together, so it’s like we filtered it to a point where we were like, right we think this bunch of tracks will be good enough. And then we brought Bruce and our other producer friend Nick in and did a load of pre-production and whittled it down even more, and refined each of the songs, and they helped us go “Yeah see that songs great but change that bit”

JS: Or “drop that song”

JT: Yeah exactly

JS: You get too attached to stuff, you know what I mean?

JT: Yeah sometimes you just need someone to be a (jerk) for you and then you feel a lot better, so we’ve like whittled it down and then just recorded it in a few places that we were familiar with. Rather than having to fork out for a fancy studio somewhere, we’ve ended up just sticking to what we knew and refining it as best we could.

HR: We looked at like MAD Studios and stuff, but it was just like unreasonable pricing and you had to travel, and we were like “nah”

JS: Aye, and it’s like we know it works, we’ve recorded in Chem19 and 45 (A Side Studios) loads of times, it’s like if there’s no problem (to) fix, you know what I mean? Why change when you know it works?

TD: Yeah, yeah

JS: In terms of the songwriting, I think we get bored very easily. I think a lot of the songs on the album were written quite last minute, not like as in the day before but I think if we sit on songs for too long, you overthink them, and you think “Oh, I don’t know if I like that anymore” and you start changing it too much. But I think that works for us. Don’t get me wrong, the more you play them live, the more you develop them.

TD: So do you guys each have a favourite track off the album?

JS: Yeah. I think “I’m Wired”, that’s my favourite.

TD: What do you like about that one?

JS: I say this all the time, but when we did the album, I really wanted it on the album, like it was the only song where I was like “it needs to go on the album”. So like, me being sneaky, I was like, to the boys, “We should all pick one song we have to have on the album and no one can argue it” but aye, the consensus was we were going to put it on anyway. But, I don’t know, I just think it’s very complex and quite dark, I like dark songs, and it’s got that trancey vibe to it

JD: Yeah, it does have that trancey vibe

JT: Like it’s always one of those ones where you feel you’re getting away with something quite naught by having something like that in one of your songs, like you shouldn’t be able to do this but we can!

JS: Aye, heavy synths, kinda like Calvin Harris

HR: Yeah, it’s a bit dancey

JS: Aye, for me it’s my favourite

TD: Yeah? What about the rest of you? Do you agree?

JT: We (Hamish and myself) ended up having the same favourite last night but I’m going to change mine up and say “Wander”. It’s a song for a long time that we’ve had in various versions for ages and then never quite committed to finishing it, and when we did finally finish it and start producing it, I think the three boys had really liked it for a long time and it took you quite a while to bond with it until you heard it recorded?

JS: I hated it. And Bruce, Bruce is the one that’s always got my back so I was like “yeah I don’t like this one”, but Bruce was like “No, this one’s going on the album” and I was like “for God’s sake!” But I love it now, I do. Again, it was Bruce. With the production of it and stuff, now I genuinely love it. He completely converted me.

HR: You just about cried the first time you listened to it

JS: Oh I did, I genuinely did, when I was listening back to it, I was like “What the hell” like, it’s just a nice feeling.

TD: Do you think you perform it better now after hearing it?

JS: Oh that’s what I mean, I love playing it live now, I hated it before and I love it now. But it didn’t sound like that before we went in and recorded it

HR: Yeah, I think like the difference between when you’ve recorded something and you learn it in the new recorded version, and then you go and play it, it just feels different because you know how it should sound

JT: Yeah you have a sound in your head

HR: Yeah exactly, and that helps people that are watching us as well, like “I know what this sounds like”

JT: Colin?

CI: For me, my favourite is “And He Lost His Mind”

JS: That’s the best to play live, that’s the funnest live

CI: Yeah, it’s an amazing song to play live. See, when I look at the setlist, that’s the one I look forward to. Pretty much, that is the only reason

HR: It’s mad, like the drums are like a mad flourishy groove

JS: I try to put Colin off, because it’s a really hard song to drum to apparently, so I always try to put him off on stage, he just avoids total eye contact

HR: Just don’t, I do that, I just don’t look

JS: Yeah, just don’t look at her, YOU’LL TURN TO STONE!

CI: Kinda goes with your haircut doesn’t it?

JS: Aye, someone did say that, “Alright Medusa?” That is for Colin

TD: And you next (Hamish)?

HR: My favourite’s “Prey”. As to why…

JT: Is it actually?

HR: Yeah man, I don’t know why, I think it’s just made up of like 4 notes and it’s probably like the most full sounding song I think

JD: Right, yeah I agree

HR: That’s really why

JT: And you get to play with your whammy pedal throughout the whole thing

HR: It’s just really euphoric

JS: Yeah, and again Bruce, he was like “Let’s take down the BPM” so he kinda…

HR: It was the first verse

JS: So the tempo we originally wrote it in, he was like “let’s make it slower”, and he totally, again, it brought in that sort of euphoric, almost ballady vibe, whereas before, we were playing it quite fast, and  it wasn’t feeling right, and it made such a big difference doing that

TD: Yeah, it sounds cool

JD: Cool. So, as everyone listening to this can probably tell, like me, although my accent’s gone a bit, you guys are from Scotland…

JT: No, Never!
JS: Aye, I can kinda hear a wee bit of twang in there

JD: Yeah, like I’m from Dunfermline originally but I’ve lost it

Steve the Van Driver (SV): That’s like…I can walk to the Fife sign from my house

HR: Our van driver Steven!

JS: Aye, this is our van driver Steven. WHO IS THAT MAN? WHY IS HE NAKED?

SV: Me and Dave,  the tour manager, encompass Dunfermline on both ends, we’ve got our eye on you!

JD: Haha, fair enough!

JT: Why don’t you introduce yourself?

SV: Hi I’m Steve. I’m the best.

(Laughter from all)

JT: He’s not wrong!

JD: Fair enough! So yeah, for Scotland, Scotland’s produced a lot of great rock artists over the years and pop artists. Do you guys have any influences from those Scottish artists when producing your music or performing it live?

HR: Nope

JS: Nope. I think Biffy (Clyro) you have to, like we have so much respect for them

JT: We’ve all got like our own little story of where we listened to them and how we grew up, and in some way we’re influenced by Biffy Clyro

TD: Yeah, we’re both big Biffy fans as well

JS: Aye, they’re just amazing

JT: They’re from like just like down the road from us

JS: You can tell they do it for the music and not doing for the fame. They just do it to make good music

HR: Yeah, like see when Puzzle came out?

JD: Yeah

HR: Like, that changed the way I play guitar. I forgot about it, but I was at uni and I would just jam to it, and it literally changed how I held and played the guitar, like no joke. I forget about that sometimes, but I was massively influenced by that album

JD: Yeah, Puzzle’s probably my favourite Biffy album

JS: It is amazing

HR: Yeah I remember I saw them live and they opened with “Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies”, and they had a massive drop and it was just unbelievable that night

JS: Was that the big flag thing that dropped?

HR: It was like a big white sheet that dropped. They were all silhouetted behind it

JS: Do you know they cut that up and put it in their album?

HR: Oh that was Only Revolutions, but I know what you mean. But yeah, it was incredible. Amazing.

JS: See, I quite like the Cocteau Twins. A lot of folk say that I sound like them a lot, and it wasn’t until I listened to them that (I realised) they’re amazing, and they’re Scottish.

HR: Who were they?

JS: The Cocteau Twins they’re called, they’re amazing. And I never really heard of them before.

TD: Ahh right, yeah I haven’t heard of them

JS: Check them out, they’re so good and so ahead of their time. They were like an 80’s, 90’s band, Scottish, and honestly I couldn’t believe it. See when I listened to it, I was like, “This sounds like something that would be out today!”

JT: I’m going to throw something obscure out there to do with Scottish influences. I grew up listening to Annie Lennox and The Eurhythmics from quite a young age. My mum listened to it a lot, and Annie Lennox’s vocals are incredible, and I think that’s probably part why I’ve ended up really enjoying playing with Janine’s vocals as they’re so prominent, and the way you layer up your vocals, there’s shades of it in there

TD: Right, yeah. What about besides Scottish artists? What kind of influences do you cite?

HR: Rage (Against the Machine) are probably a massive one. They’re the biggest one, for me anyways

JS: For this past album, Bring Me the Horizon’s a huge influence, in terms of record production and in an innovative sense, I think they really inspired us. I wouldn’t say we sound like them, but certain things that we’ve picked up a lot on from their album, I just think it’s perfection.

HR: It’s why you like dark songs, isn’t it?

JS: Aye, exactly. And they portray that amazingly. It’s dark, but very catchy.

HR: That’s probably why “I’m Wired” is your favourite

JS: It is! It’s probably because you can imagine Bring Me playing it

SV: “I’m Wired” is a goth masterpiece dressed as a summer anthem, that’s how I see it

HR: It is!

JS: That’s a great description! A great description of our band!

JT: Steve, the best!

Laughter from all

JS: Queens of the Stone Age are one of my favourite bands, PJ Harvey, Bjork

TD: We’re going to ask you for a song to play after your song on the radio

HR: Oh, one song?
JD: Yeah, all of you have to collectively choose one song

Collective ooh’s

HR: What band?
JS: Well, we probably more collectively like Bring Me than Queens of the Stone Age. Or we could do Rage…

HR: From any time period?
TD: Yeah, from any time period

JD: The only limitation is that it has to be either rock, metal, or indie

JS: Right, ok

HR: Well that rules out Steps anyways

JS: “Tragedy” by The Bee Gees

CI: It’s got to be a Bring Me song

JS: I know, I know

HR: What Bring Me song?

JT: I think it should go an album back though, from That’s the Spirit, because I think there’s more from that

JS: Well I love “Can You Feel My Heart”. That is a great song

HR: Alright, well put that one on then

JD: Yeah, we’ll do that

JS: Well, are you guys up for that?

CI: Yeah, I’m down with that. Either that or “The House of Wolves”

HR: “House of Wolves” is my favourite one. “Sempiternal” is incredible

JS: Aye, that would be a good one too. And “Shadow Moses”

JT: “Shadow Moses” in fact, yeah

HR: I don’t know, because on the new album “Happy Song” is amazing

JS: I love, in the new one, I love “Doomed”

HR: “Doomed” aye that’s amazing

JS: It’s so hard

TD: We’ve got a lot of options. We’ll pick one if that’s easier?

HR: Yeah, you guys pick one!

JD: Yeah, we’ll just pick one of those

JS: Yeah, one of them

JT: Lucky dip

JD: Alright, we’ll do that then. Need to ask about the music videos because I really like them I think they’re really cool and unique. Do any of you guys come up with the ideas for the music videos?

HR: Me and Janine do yeah

JD: Ahh right. So does that explain why for “Target Practice” you end up with a rocket launcher and a tank Hamish?
HR: No, “Target Practice” was one of the only videos we did with a video production company years ago.

JS: Yeah, they’re friends of ours.

HR: Is that even still online?

JD: Yeah

JS: Yeah, it’s on their channel though

HR: Is it on their thing? But yeah, we started doing our own videos from “We are Robots” onwards

JD: Ahh ok. So like, “Boy George” and “Animal?”

JS: Yeah they were all ours

HR: Yeah, “So Long Gone”, “La Di Da”, what else have we done?
JS: “Boy George”, “La Di Da”, “Animal”, yeah. “So Long Gone” as well yeah

HR: We’re lucky enough to have video production friends up in Glasgow who do us good favours

JS: I think, because Hamish is more technical minded, he can do all the editing, and he’s got a better eye for what shots to take and what to look out for, whereas I don’t have a clue with that, so I just come up with an idea, and it can be something like mermaids diving off a cliff and Hamish will go “Right, cannae really do that, that’s not going to be possible”. He’s good at steering me, as in like that’s going to work and that won’t.

HR: Yeah! I agree!

JS: Yeah, what she said!

TD: What would be your favourite moment be being in Vukovi?

HR: Last night, in King Tut’s (the first show on their tour in Glasgow). It was mental man

JS: Aye, honestly, I never cry, but at one point last night, I actually felt like I was going to cry

TD: Really?
JS: Yeah, like you know when you’re trying to not cry and your lip’s all like that (quivering)? I was just like, what the hell is wrong with me man? It was just unreal, and overwhelming.

HR: I’d say before that it would probably be Download (2016). Playing at Download Festival is sick. We all spent the whole weekend there and we were knackered, soaking wet, covered in mud, and then I’d seen like some of the best bands in the world that I grew up listening to, and then went on stage and got to play in front of 1000 people. It was like, this is it! This is what it’s all about!

JS: Me and Colin… the backstage area, the VIP area was amazing, but me and Colin on that day, we didn’t realise that our passes meant that we were allowed to use all of the facilities. So we kinda just walked into this tent and there was a masseuse, a tattoo artist, hairdressers, chef, bar… we just walked in and sat there all day, and it wasn’t until the last 2 hours when we were like that: “by the way, I think we’re forgetting about this!” and we were gutted because we realised we could, we were trying to cram in and get a sleeve tattoo!

Laughter from all

HR: Was there a tattoo artist there?!?!

JS: Aye, there was like a top tattoo artist, like one of the top tattoo artists in the country, and apparently his assistant was this famous pin-up girl, stunning pin up girl, and I was just sat there watching all day and honestly I would’ve gotten a tattoo. (Could’ve gotten) Free tattoos, my hair done, get a massage, food, so I was raging!

JT: And there was us, freezing our butts off… we could’ve gotten a haircut!

JS: Aye, we were just like “NO! WE NEED TO MAKE THE MOST OF THIS!”

JD: So, speaking of Download Festival, you’ve been announced for a few festivals so far: 2000 Trees, Truck, and Y Not Festivals…

HR and JS: Yeah, yeah

JD: Can we expect any more festival announcements, like Reading and Leeds possibly?

HR: Yeah, we’ve got a few planned, but obviously we can’t say anything at the moment, but there’s a few coming up

JD: Yeah, yeah

JS: There’s two big ones that we’ll probably announce soon

JD: Cool

HR: I think there’s more tours as well. Actually I think we’re announcing another tour really soon!

JS: Yeah, yeah

JD: Sweet. Last question really, have you got any advice for upcoming and coming musicians who want to make it in the music industry, like us?

JS: Don’t be terrible!

JT: Yeah, don’t be terrible and don’t be a jerk! That’s our two go-to ones, isn’t it?

JS: Aye, just honestly, just be yourself, that’s what’s really cool

JT: Make sure you have good connections with the people you’re in the band with, and make sure you’re patient with them

HR: Make friends with sound guys, drivers, techs…

JS: Cameramen

HR:…everyone you can because favours because favours go so far! Do you guys play in any bands?

JD: Aye

TD: Yeah, we play in a band together

HR: Ahh cool ok

JD: Yeah, he (Tom)’s vocals and rhythm guitar, I’m bass

JS: Awesome, you’ll need to send me a link!

HR: Make as many pals as you can

JS: And honestly, don’t just throw all your music out there, just try and drip-feed people

HR: Watch what other bands are doing

JS: Yeah, yeah, exactly, if they’re the same genre, just see what they’re doing and see how they approach things. I take it you’ve done recordings and stuff?
JD: We’re actually doing our first recording next week

JS: Oh that’s cool, well that’s good so you’re still very new

TD: Yeah, we’ve only been together since November, but yeah we’ve got some studio time next week

JS: But that’s good that you’re not just kinda sat up and gone and played 100’s of gigs, because that’s just like, don’t just play all of the like, do you know what I mean?
HR: “Truth is we’ve played over 100 gigs as of today”

JS: “Yeah we’ve played over 40 gigs IN LEEDS”

JT: Here’s a tip for recording-wise: practice a lot and pre-produce.

JS: Yeah, because you’ll always change…

JT: So, before you go in, know exactly what you’re going to do before you go in. As in like, if you’re unsure about the structure of a song and think “ahh, we’ll figure it out”, figure it out before you go in, as you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

HR: And don’t get disheartened if it changes when you’re recording

JS: Aye

JT: Aye, sometimes it’s a good thing when that happens

JS: That’s the beauty of it. The more you play a song, and that’s what’s amazing about songs, you write it at first and you think “It’s alright, maybe it’s not bad” and the more you play it, it totally flourishes. Like, everyone starts to get into their own style, and that’s what’s the best about it.

HR: What is it you guys are recording? Like a single, or an EP, or?

TD: Yeah we’re just going to record one of our tunes. It’s kind of like a single, just a demo to send to people really. It’s an original one

JS: Cool

HR: Cool. Have you played any shows yet or?

TD: Not yet no, but we have a few things coming up so

JD: We just need to find time when we’re all in Huddersfield at the same time really

TD: Yeah we’re all from different places which doesn’t help

JS: Oh really?

HR: God man…

JD: Yeah, he’s (from) St. Albans, I’m from Scotland but live in Norwich now, then we’ve got our drummer’s from Ireland, and our lead guitarists is from Darlington…

JS: How the hell did you do it?

HR How did you do it?
JS: Is it like Tinder for bands?

JT: Were you at the show in Norwich before?

JD: No I wasn’t

JT: We were supporting FVK (Fearless Vampire Killers)

JD: Ahh no I must’ve missed that one!

JT: Because it rings a bell, but there was a very English-speaking gentlemen that happened to be from Scotland

JD: Ahh right

JT: Because when you said that you were from Norwich, it sounded very familiar!

TD: Right, cool, great, well thanks for speaking to us today!

JS: No problem, nice to meet you’s

TD: And we’re looking forward to the show

JS: Yeah, thanks for coming!

HR: Forgot we were playing a show!

Circa Waves – Different Creatures Album Review

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Reviewed by Georgia Barlow

‘Different Creatures’ is definitely not the follow-up album you expect. From Circa Waves’ light-hearted indie-pop, they have rapidly developed in their genre. Much heavier, the first track ‘Wake Up’ is an instant showcase to their new direction, with fast paced beats and Slaves-like riffs.

Kieran Shudall, the frontman for Circa Waves had always talked about making something much more meaningful and different to their stereotypical ‘love’ issues, and this is wonderfully portrayed through their new album. Delving into the slightly more personal matters all the way to global ones, the play definitely explores more in depth themes.

Whilst it’s reported that they’re trying to bin-off their typical indie band riffs, I personally think they do a really good job of it. This album is mature, and the band themselves seem a lot more serious about their careers and genres implied.

The title track is unquestionably one you should read the lyrics for. The lines ‘Twenty thousand souls are sold tonight / Making us their home / And as you close your eyes again tonight / Remember where you are’ are beautifully poetic in displaying their opinion on such political matters as it undeniably is assumed to be about the current refugee crisis. In many cases, musicians are looked down upon for having a political opinion and a lot of supporters feel like they shouldn’t broadcast what that opinion is. However, I personally think that Circa Waves do this amazingly well in this track, as they disguise their thoughts through arpeggio riffs and incredibly produced vocals.

When the album does touch on the issues of love and relationships in songs such as ‘Fire that Burns’, it is done in such a lyrically stereotypical way but the music definitely compensates for this. The track is energetic and feisty, which isn’t what you expect for a song about such an overused topic. The lyrics ‘You call me a liar / You call me so innocent’ seem extremely relatable and clever in consideration to the audience they attract, with many of them being teenagers.

‘And you walk in the steps of the men that you grew up with / But maybe they’re better equipped at dealing with this’. These lyrics from the track ‘Out on My Own’ can definitely be interpreted in different ways from listener to listener. NME recently discussed that it was about male depression and anxiety which Shudall had witnessed amongst his friends. This unquestionably removes the ‘flimsy indie’ reputation and replaces it with an outlook much more mature and sincere.

Overall the album is undoubtedly worth a listen. Circa Waves came back stronger than anyone could’ve thought and they’re back with much more than their last album. If you’re into your heavier riffs and the more controversial side to lyric-writing then you’ll definitely appreciate this one.

★★★★☆

Fairport Convention Review|Live at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall

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Written by Nathan Berwick

It’s hard to write a legitimate review when the only reason you agreed to do it was for a free ticket to one of your favourite bands. It’s even harder when you’re told not to write good reviews because nobody hires “that guy”. Alas, here’s a review of one of my favourite bands and their incredible support. Introducing: Fairport Convention and Sally Barker (respectively).
Hastily penned notes hurriedly tapped into a cold, hard phone screen seems a harsh juxtaposition to Fairport’s classic sound. Pondering over the long-standing “Winter Tour” tradition I’d just witnessed while sat in the pub next door was a vain attempt to soften the “post-gig blues” amid the veritable no man’s land between venue curfew and the foreboding notion that was the last train back to Huddersfield.

I could sing Fairport’s praises indefinitely, whether we were to discuss their understated mastery of odd time signatures, Nicol’s hybrid-picked control over the guitar, Pegg’s weaving bass lines or Sanders’s astounding delay-laden fiddle. However, my distaste for stories that start with a teaser of the ending bleeds through and I must, ironically, begin at the beginning (of this night, at least).
Climbing the stairs into one of the most traditional “music hall” venues I’d ever set foot in, I was greeted by the steward with a crack of “Ah, the under 60s have arrived!”. Unfortunately, he was correct. The joys of Fairport Convention seem to have been lost on the younger generations (not for lack of trying on my part) but that didn’t matter. Taking seats, the mood washed the entire crowd without exception. There was excitement in the air. We were all there for the same reason.
Sally Barker’s opening E minor chord (also an open chord) begun her set as it meant to go on. A deep, dark, melancholy tonality almost wept from her guitar which, without encountering her previous material, left me unsure of the set’s direction. Her masterful vocal control and quality certainly reflected her successes with “The Voice”.

With the chord progression continuing to the C and D, as did her music cycle through tales of revenge, heartache, scorn and greed all succinctly packaged in the audience participation refrain of “talk, talk, talk about money” (with a descent to the major third in place of the minor, sure to warm even the heart of the coldest Prog Snob).
An unexpected guitar talent (the “unexpected” side of which being an unfortunate side effect of becoming a TV vocal presence), Sally’s songs were chordally intricate, displayed exciting use of fingerstyle, coupled with large dynamic range resultant of “Slap Bass” style attack in places.
Sally’s set ended with Fairport taking stage to join her for a rendition of her 21-year-old LCM student son’s piece I’m Not Whole. Not my favourite of her set however, but the agathokakological track was carried by Fairport Convention’s backing; giving the upbeat misery a life of its own driving well into Fairport’s staged coup.
Sally Barker was tremendous and, as she vacated the stage, I knew to eagerly expect her at later points in Fairport’s set; as is tradition on these cold nights of the winter tour.

Sally Barker is an act to see again, whether with Fotheringay or in her solo works.

Fairport Convention’s tour marks their 50th anniversary as a band, difficult to forget with their aptly titled 50:50 @ 50 album for sale during the show – containing an even split of live and studio material – marking the momentous occasion. Even more difficult to forget with their shameless, yet still tongue-in-cheek plugging of the release. A sad reflection of Fairport’s career under-the-radar. While mainstream success is not necessarily the goal, the band have amassed a faithful following throughout their tenure on the folk scene and the fan’s dedication is shown to be well placed by the quality of musicianship and songcraft on display. Though on their 50th birthday, these folk-rockers (or metalhead in the case of bassist Dave Pegg) are certainly not past their prime; merely different. This current lineup is Fairport Convention’s longest standing, and is a well-oiled machine as a result. It was wonderful to hear classics from throughout their career such as Genesis Hall, Matty Groves and Farewell, Farewell revisited standing side by side with their more recent material, the last of which had never been brought to stage during the era of the Liege and Leif album from which it hails. The spectacle was engaging for both the audience members in the “cheap seats” (such as myself) and the boxes above despite the shouts of “rattle your jewellery then” being made in jest by guitarist and singer Simon Nicol. The band’s light comedy between songs is something of a rarity in most contemporary pop or rock acts, and was a bonus of the evening. The band don’t take themselves too seriously and the interaction made the audience more comfortable and made the night akin to sharing a few beers and a song around the fire with some good friends rather than the potentially overbearing prospect of visiting a packed music hall to sit quietly and listen to a live act.

After taking a short interval, Fairport Convention returned for a second set (value for money) which led to the only downfall for the show. The first song of the band’s that I was ever introduced to (Lord Marlborough, the opening track of the 1971 album Angel Delight) was played over the PA during the interval, so I sat disappointed that I wouldn’t get to hear the track live, though a live version is included on the 50:50@50 album.
More of the same level of excellence was to come, along with a return of Sally Barker to accompany the band for a rendition of Rising For the Moon from the album of the same name; the last to feature vocalist Sandy Denny. The piece was excellent, remembering Denny’s vocal embellishments perfectly though the band’s updated sound made the song still relevant without being a rehash of old material. Portmeirion and The Girl From the Hiring Fair were other songs of note from the evening were Sander’s “Save our NHS” speech was met with a divided crowd from a self-proclaimed “hippie pacifist” and a pensive ballad of first loves that had the whole audience silent.

But the spell was soon broken. Ending with the aforementioned Matty Groves only to come on with an encore; though great, the set would have been finished perfectly there. The packed train home was awaiting me and the band were to move on to the next night: such is life on the road.

There we have it, Fairport Convention’s 50th anniversary show with Sally Barker. An amazing night, which can be continued for a full weekend at their Cropredy festival from between the 10th and 12th of August.

An Interview with Kiaran Crook from The Sherlocks

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Interview by Tom Dawes

Right so you’ve got your new single “Was It Really Worth It?” out now ahead of your UK tour. How would you describe the sound of the new track, and what would your main influences be?
I’d say for the sound, we wanted to get a good driving feel to the song, a little bit following “Will You Be There?” – the last single – we wanted that sort of drive and energy but not the same as “Will You Be There?”, we just wanted to try something a little bit different. “Was It Really Worth It?” is an older song than “Will You Be There?”; “Will You Be There?” is a pretty new song, “Was It Really Worth It?” has been in the setlist for years now, it’s always been a favourite of the band and like I say it’s always been in the setlist, but it hasn’t been a single so people have never really known the tune and it’s always been on our minds to release it as a single at some point.

So coming from Sheffield, you must face a lot of comparison with the Arctic Monkeys, would you say you appreciate that comparison or do you try and avoid it?
I mean, Arctic Monkeys are a great band, one of the biggest bands in the world.
I love the Arctic Monkeys and I think they’re a top band but as far as our sound, we haven’t tried to keep away from it, I just think we’ve got a different sound. To some people maybe they can see elements of Arctic Monkeys but that’s not a bad thing.
Yeah, you can definitely hear the influence.
I suppose ‘cause we are a Sheffield band, it might influence us but we probably try and stay away from that sort of sound and don’t want to sound like them just ‘cause we get that many people saying it. The people that say it usually haven’t looked into the band that much, they see the word “Sheffield” and associate it with the Arctic Monkeys but I think we’ve got a completely different sound.

I agree. I mean you can definitely hear influence from bands like The Jam and The Clash, so what would you say it is about that era that inspires you?
Obviously it’s before my time but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected us. We’ve always had those songs played just in my Dad’s record collection or wherever, they’ve always been on or somehow you just seem to know them but you don’t know why, and it’s probably just because they’ve been played, you know, like you’ve just been brought up on it.

Would you say the family is a big influence for you personally then?
Yeah, I mean we’re a guitar band and we’ve been brought up on guitar music, that’s probably why we are the band we are, but we love bands like The Jam and The Clash, not just the music but their attitude and their energy on stage. It’s always something that’s inspired us. We just see these bands and they just look cool and look like they’re meant to be on stage and the delivery of the songs, I think it’s a nice little scene.

I was going to ask about your influences for your live sets, bands that really influence you with regard to live music. Would you say that it’s the same sort of influences there?
Yeah I’d say The Clash are up there.
The Clash, definitely. Any that you’ve seen recently that you really like?
I really like the DMAs, they’re an Australian band, I think they’re class. I mean as far as acting on stage, we’ve never been like one of those bands that… I’m never gonna be like Dave Grohl, running on one of those huge stages down the middle.
Well, there’s only so much of that he can do with his broken leg these days!
We’re just not one of those kind of bands, if I was doing that, that just wouldn’t be us, it wouldn’t suit us. It’s just delivery of the songs, not so much everything in between.

Am I right you’ve got two sets of brothers that make up your band? How does that dynamic work, would you say it presents any extra challenges artistically or do you always get along and agree on things?
Yeah, there’s me and Brandon, he’s the drummer, we’re brothers and Josh and Andy are brothers.
We don’t always get along but we have more good times than bad. We don’t find ourselves falling out that often to be honest ‘cause we’re getting a little bit older now and we’ve stopped being as childish. We’re still very childish in ways but we don’t argue as much. There’s not really a lot to argue about to be honest.
That’s good to hear, not too many Liam and Noel Gallagher moments then?
No.

Can I ask how the band started originally?
Yeah, Josh and Andy moved next door to mine and Brandon’s grandparents about 6 years ago and we just became mates really, just started messing around together, playing football and just becoming mates and just doing what normal, everyday people do, just… chilling. Me and Brandon were messing around on our instruments at that point and we found out that Josh played guitar and we started coming up to our house and playing, just messing around really and playing a couple of covers, just making a bit of noise.

Would you say you expected to be where you are today when you first started out like that or has that come as a complete surprise to you?
It’s a surprise to be honest ‘cause I can’t say we planned to do everything we’re going to do or everything we’ve done so far as if it was always planned or we always wanted to do it, ‘cause we didn’t! And never even said “do you wanna be in a band?”. We didn’t just decide – “let’s just make a band”, “let’s see who can be in the band”, “oh what about Josh and Andy”. I used to just mess around on my guitar and Brandon used to mess on his drums but we never thought of making a band properly.

So it’s all come about quite organically by the sounds of it.
Definitely, and then when we started messing around in the garage, (laughs) we used to practice in a garage! When we started doing that it was the same, I can’t remember once where we said “do you wanna be in a band then?”, we just went from coming up to ours and having little jamming sessions to booking our first cover gig, it was weird how it started.

Yeah, well you’ve come a really long way. I mean, you’ve supported The Libertines on their 2016 tour. What was the best part of that experience?
Just arriving at the arena and just seeing it, taking it all in, thinking I’ve grown up with this band, we all have ‘cause we’ve always been into that music, we’ve grown up seeing this band on telly and seeing the music videos and loving the songs, and then getting to a point where you’re walking in to an arena thinking we’re supporting these in an arena tonight, and two more other dates! That was the craziest part really.
That must have been amazing! Did you get to meet The Libertines?
Yeah, we met them all. We met them separately, the first person we met I think was John – the bassist, we spoke to him pretty much as soon as we arrived, we spoke to him for a while. We met Gary quite a few times, I’d met him before as well, when they played a gig at Hyde Park we bumped into Gary backstage ‘cause we got invited to go down, so we ended up meeting him. I think we met Carl in the catering area and we met Pete after one of the shows. So yeah it was a good experience and I’m glad we did it!

Yeah, that sounds amazing! You’ve played Reading and Leeds festival as well the last couple of years haven’t you? Any chance of a 2017 appearance?
Yeah, the Festival Republic stage. Hopefully, yeah! We love that festival, it’s one of our highlights of the year really! We always have a good time at festivals, I don’t know if we’re a festival band, some bands just seem better at festivals. I don’t know if we’re one of those bands but we certainly enjoy playing them and every time festival season comes around we always seem to have a blast!

Right, last little question, last week on the show we did a recap of our favourite songs of 2016, were there any that stood out for you?
Favourite songs of last year? I can’t remember what came out last year! I think DMAs’ album came out, I’m sure it was last year or if it wasn’t then it seems like it was…
Stand out song for you?
There’s a song, I used to call it “mel-born” and I’ve met the songwriter in that band called Johnny and he said it was called “mel-burn” so probably that!

 

You can catch The Sherlocks on tour from February 1st 2017

An Interview with Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention

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Interview by Nathan Berwick

Thanks for taking the time out for doing this

 

The tour’s kicking off in January, what can you tell us about the tour

We do, and have done for over 20 years now, a pretty big excursion around the uk in the depths of winter and we play the theatres and the town halls and sort of major venues. We do about 35 shows in about six weeks. It’s our way of reaching out and contacting the faithful and hopefully making a new friends every night too.

It’s sort of a little bit of a pay back because the efforts that people have to make to come to Cropredy every year in the second weekend of august which is, you know, the lynchpin of the year. But it’s great, it’s become an institution.

We see many old friends, and it gets rid of the dark days of the winter for the people that come out to see us.

 

 I certainly noticed there were a lot of dates on the tour, there are (as you said) 35 dates over 6 weeks. It’s a massive tour really, isn’t it?

For a bunch old gits, yes.

 

That’s barely a day off

No, well we take Mondays off now.

In the old days, we once did 42 shows in 44 days when we were younger, but then, it’s what we like to do.

Fairport’s always been about touring and playing live gigs.

We make records, certainly, but they’re more like souvenirs of where the band is rather than an attempt to storm the charts and change our profile generally. It’s always been about the performance on the evening and getting in the van and going off to the next show – we’re a live touring band and fifty years in now.

 

So am I right in thinking that with this kind of show it’s a lot about the performance on the night, as in it might not particularly reflect the record as is.

Well, we do have a new record coming out which we hope to have for sale on the tour – if it comes back from the factory in time.

That is something that doesn’t happen quite as frequently as it used to in the early days, but we do a new album every two or every three years.

It’s half new stuff in the studio, half live material from quite recent performances.

We call it 50/50 at 50, it’s to show what direction the band’s heading in, if you can tell that from a few songs that are fresh to the repertoire and to show what our strengths are in live performance with this lineup.

I could say new lineup, but it’s actually been together for 18 years now, which is far and away the longest existing Fairport lineup ever and if you think about that, that’s nearly 3 times longer than the Beatles had been together.

 

The last time I saw you was in St. Helens in 2014, and you played two sets across the evening. Should we expect something similar this time?

On the winter tour, we do actually take out a support act with us and this year it’s Sally Barker – you may remember her name from the voice a couple of years ago. She was Tom Jones’s pick. She’s an old Folkie friend of ours and it’s great for her – it’s great for all the support acts because they get to introduce themselves to our audience.

Hopefully they’ll bring a few friends who maybe haven’t got round to seeing to Fairport, and over the course of the 6 weeks, of course we get to know each other even better.

There’ll be some interaction between us I hope she’ll end up singing one or two songs with us.

We’ll certainly be playing something with her, that’s kind of become another tradition on this winter tour.

We’re kicking off in Glasgow at the opening run-up to the Celtic connections festival, which is a big deal up there.

We’re including a show or two in Ireland, which is a place we’ve not been for a couple of years, then it’s business as usual around the rest of British Isles.

 

You mentioned that there’s a lot to do with bringing the tour around to repay old fans that have been with you for a long time and making friends along the way. I know personally Fairport Convention has been something that’s passed down from my father, much like most folk music is passed on through the generations. Do you think that bringing a support act helps include newer audiences?

It just broadens the net and makes it a bit more interesting. Sally’s a very strong performer in her own right as well being somebody with an incredible vocal talent. She’s got great taste in songs and writes some good stuff too. there’s a lot of interest and good stuff on display in the evening.

The thing about Fairport is that you’re not alone in that you’ve grown up aware of the band through your parents interest. There are a lot of youngsters that don’t know about any lineup previous to this one. You don’t have to be an expert in the history of the band to enjoy what we do because when we go on stage as Fairport Convention now, fifty years in, we’re not fooling ourselves (or anybody else) that we’re teenagers.

We’re not pretending we’re the same people we were when we made those early records. The music has grown with us. We’ve changed, the music’s changed, but it’s still essentially the same band and some of the earlier songs are still the same songs. If we ever became a tribute band to Fairport Convention – I’d be leaving, I’d be off.

 

With all of the lineup changes, I think everybody brings something different as well and that is where it all keeps moving forwards, isn’t it?

Every time you do have a lineup change, we’ve never changed and sought to replace who’s left.

It’s always been about “Well, what can we do here? How can we take the band into another area by utilising the talents that the new person brings along?” and that’s been a watch word and it’s been a very successful one and I’d recommend it to anybody who finds that the band is up for a change or somebody wants to move on to something else or heaven forfend some disaster befalls you and you lose somebody.

Change is opportunity and we’ve always made the best of it.

 

With the Radio show that we do at Radio Hud, we have a section called “Prog Snobs” where we play progressive styles throughout the ages. We like to try and introduce listeners to different elements of progressive music and Fairport often make appearance on the show. What would you recommend as to what you’d recommend to try and get new people into Fairport Convention?

Well there’s a fantastic band that started around the same time as us in California called “Love”. I don’t know them? They were fronted by a songwriter and Singer called Arthur Lee. And their first self titled album, I think it was just called “Love”, it might be called “Seven and Seven Is” But the track seven and seven is off that album, is a real kick in the arse. It’s a fabulous track, and it certainly doesn’t sound 50 years old. If you want to play that with my hearty endorsement, then please do!

 

I shall do!

I was going to ask as well, over the 50 years of Fairport, what would you say has been your proudest moment of favourite release with the band?

I’m hugely proud that the band is still here and without achieving and significant business success, we’ve become part of the landscape of the country musically and socially. There’s something about the name.

Only this morning, do you know the daily mash?

There’s a great article in the daily mash, today, about how a hipster cafe in Kilbourne is now playing Fairport Convention tracks to drive out the worst kind of hipsters.

So you know, they wouldn’t use that name in that context unless we had come to mean something. That we’re part of the public consciousness.

So I’m very proud of that, that we can have the mick taken out of us is something that to be deeply proud of, so that’s pretty up to date.

 

With the prog snobs clientele that we have, a lot of us are very into the music tech sides of things. With wormwood studios and your latest release of Myths and Hereos. Across the time of your recording, how do you think the process has changed, wether as a unit or within the studio itself.

Oh, it’s changed several times since I started, you know.

It was unbelievably primitive by today’s standards, but on the other hand it was much simpler. And simplicity in itself is sometimes a good thing.

Nowadays, if you’re not careful you can become bogged down in the choices.

I appreciate the technology and the cleanness and the control, the detailed control that we now have when we’re in the studio but I’m determined not to let it mask the essence of the performance so that it doesn’t become an end in itself.

 

At the end of the day, I suppose performance is the most important part of the recording

Well, it’s a toss up between that and the material. The material is probably the more important of the two if you got the red hot pliers out I would have to say the material more than the performance but they’re a close second.

 

You can catch Fairport Convention at Cropredy Festival in August 2017 and on their WinTour 2017

 

An Interview with VANT

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Interview by Chazz Cheron

Many have braved the near-torrential rain to come and see London-based indie risers VANT play at Fibbers in York. Before the show, I caught up with frontman Mattie Vant and guitarist Henry Eastham, in a dimly-lit (and empty) strip club above the venue about their recent tour with You Me At Six, their punk influences and what the recent US election result might mean for political music.

The last we heard, your debut was finished and ready to come out in 2017. Any update on that?

Mattie: Yeah, it’s coming out on February 17th. It’s all done, it’s ready to go. Just a case of sharing it with the world now which we’ve been waiting to do for a really long time.

You recently went on tour with You Me At Six. How was that for you?

Henry: Yeah, it was great. It was an amazing opportunity to play to so many kids who were just completely open to us. It was really great and You Me At Six, as a whole, were so good to us on tour and really look after us. Yeah, it was really fun. Great exposure for us.

How does a tour like that, where you’re playing for an audience who might not have heard of you, compare to a tour like this where they’re here to see you specifically?

Mattie: Well, if someone is there to see you, then they’re more willing to enjoy it – they WANT to enjoy it – because they’ve paid money to come and see you so it’s a much easier battle to win. But, I quite like the challenge of ‘the support slot’, purely because when you do win over an audience, it’s rewarding in its own way. But it’s amazing to be able to be able to play our own headline shows and we’re having so much fun. It’s only day four of the tour but it’s been great so far. Yeah, I definitely prefer this.

Most bands tend to find that they find success after their debut has dropped. Whereas with VANT, you have enjoyed a lot of commercial radio success with just a handful of singles and an EP. Did you expect this level of buzz BEFORE your first record?

Mattie: It just depends how you measure success really – I guess. I don’t see it as success. I see it as an amazing gift of support from the BBC, which has been, y’know, amazing and key to us getting to the stage that we’re at now. But success to me is sustainability. Until we guarantee that, we’ve just got to keep our feet on the ground and keep taking it step by step – and enjoying it as well. So yeah, the whole thing has been very surreal but I think we’re just trying to not get ahead of ourselves.

You mentioned the BBC there. You think played a big part in this exposure you’re receiving?

Mattie: Yeah definitely. The best possible exposure you could possibly get is national radio. It’s the biggest platform for new music so I’m sure we wouldn’t be sitting here in a strip club with you now if it wasn’t for the BBC.

Your most recent single, PEACE AND LOVE, was named ‘Hottest Record In The World’ by Annie Mac – the fifth in a row for you. How does that feel – to get that level of support from someone as prolific as Annie?

Mattie: Yeah, it is amazing! Every time we get ‘Hottest Record’ it’s a big achievement. You can’t really launch a record in any better way than that. It’s the thing that most bands hope for before they start making music. And Annie has always championed us, and she continues to do so and I think she’s a great DJ and we’re really glad to have her on board.

A lot of the lyrics that you write are quite political. Is this a massive factor for you when you write songs – the message?

Mattie: Definitely. It’s the whole reason we’re doing this. We’re not doing this just to make money and get laid. We’re trying to change the world in some way or at least make a positive impact and get people talking about important things again. And I think having direct lyricism at the forefront of our music allows us to have conversations like we’re having now. It’s not a topic that people are allowed to shy away from. I’m sure a lot of bands would like to talk about the things that we talk about but, unfortunately, if they don’t write those sorts of lyrics then, a lot of the time, journalists don’t give them the time of day to do so. So that was the one mission statement – let’s talk about the things that need to be talked about. ‘Cause people would rather look at cat videos and watch Kesha so I think it’s kind of important to continue to talk about these things and I think our debut is a full-rounded body of work that’s about the state of humanity in 2017.

With the political aspect of your lyrics and the noisy guitar tones you tend to use, you guys draw a lot of comparison to punk. Do you think this is a fair comparison? Is that an influence on you?

Mattie: I think that’s great. It is massively an influence on me, yeah. Punk music – the whole reason it started was to be against the establishment and to be against the constructs of the corporate world that we live in and that is very much our ethic. We might not necessarily be what is classed as ‘punk rock’ but definitely at least the ethic of it is there with everything that we do. I don’t have any stigma – you can call us whatever the f*ck you want really – but punk is good enough for me.

With the recent Brexit decision here and the election of Donald Trump as president in the States, do you think there’s a lot more of public call for political music?

Mattie: I’m sure there will be. We’ve been screaming for years about things that are important to us but I guess we haven’t really had any real political disasters with the magnitude of the EU referendum or Trump within our lifetimes. There’s been a lot of controversy obviously with people in charge but the transparent nature of everything now, and the fact that politicians can no longer hide behind their faults with fake personas, has got us to a point where we have a fascist dictator in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world. And I don’t, for a second, think that that’s not gonna influence people and influence their art. And it’s kind of great in a way, but at the same time there’s plenty of stuff that’s been going on for years. But if it takes something like that to provoke a movement, then fair enough. So I think it will influence. I think we have to see a rebellion against this because it’s going to completely split opinion in America and it’s gonna make it very difficult for a lot of minorities. The minorities are bigger than they have ever been so, in itself, that conflict could be very scary.

 

 

 

Live Review: VANT @ Fibbers, York – 21.11.2016

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Review by Chazz Cheron

 

With only a handful of singles and one EP to their name, Noisy indie-rockers VANT have been carving, for themselves, an extremely loyal fan base – including BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac. Current single, PEACE & LOVE, is the fifth in a row that she has named her ‘Hottest Record in the World’ and to receive repeated commercial airplay. Embarking on a solo tour of the UK, after a support slot on You Me At Six’s academy tour last month, Mattie Vant and his eponymously-named band of indie-hippies are out to astonish.

Opening support act, and local lads, Part Time Miserables impress with a solid set of schizophrenic-sounding noise rock songs, but fail to convey any charisma in their performance – even through a cover of The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog. That’s okay though, because Californian exports PARTYBABY have got charisma in spades. Their mission is clear. So clear in fact that is literally in their name – to party. Frontman Jamie Schefman showboats his way through an often-cringey set of pop rock tracks. Holding his guitar aloft and theatrically falling to his knees, he delivers each nasal chorus with an enthusiasm that cannot be matched by many – and the audience absolutely lap it up.

If the crowd are in any way disheartened by the near-torrential rain they’ve faced to be there, they do not show it a bit, whooping and hollering as VANT take to the stage. Any fears that the headliners may struggle to contend with the showmanship of their support are immediately swayed as they rip through their first song. What the audience lack in numbers, they more than make up for in spirit, singing VANT’s lyrics back to them amidst wall to wall moshing and crowdsurfing. They are given no room to breathe at all between songs, with VANT opting instead to riff their way through their five opening tracks with no breaks. The normal catchy indie-rock tracks conclude now in 30 second feedback-laced freak-out sessions. Frontman Mattie Vant preaches love and acceptance between songs, insisting that the audience stand together as a collective against the injustices of our time (namely the EU referendum results and recent presidential election).

The highlights of the show, however, come far too late in the set – the majority of the performance soon becoming forgettable. Not boring, but nothing entirely memorable. It is not until eleven songs in that they begin to play their big hits. And this is where the set begins to really shine. Parasite and Parking Lot both drive the crowd into a frenzy – individuals sit on their friends’ shoulders and gatherings of friendly strangers with their arms around each other jump around manically as if all their worries had been taken away.

The opening chords of fan favourite Fly-By Alien ring out briefly. An eruption of excitement from the fans is followed by a disappointing silence as they realised Mattie has snapped a string. The discontent is soon swayed as the guitar tech brings on a replacement guitar and now the crowd are expecting it. As Vant repeats the same hook, through a fresh guitar, the crowd scream the lyrics at him as if they are part of the performance now.

After a very transparent false ending and encore, the band departs with a punchy cover of M.I.A’s Paper Planes. The crowd are left to endure the rains outside once more, but most feel that this has definitely been worth it.

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