Nothing Can Stop Nicky Palermo And Co.

It’s been a whole four years since the beloved ear-shattering guitar quartet from Philadelphia last came to our shores. Priding themselves as being one of the first bands in the US to do a full nationwide tour since the pandemic hit two years ago, they’ve finally been able blast out hit after hit from their latest record The Great Dismal with sold-out shows across the world. Whilst the lineup has fluctuated over the last 10 years or so, leader Dominic Palermo couldn’t have a better group of people to join him on the road, with Christina Michelle (Gouge Away) on bass and Benny Meed (Dead Swans) on drums. Ahead of their Brighton show at Green Door Store, I was lucky enough to speak to Nicky and lead guitarist Doyle Martin of Cloakroom about their return to the UK and the context behind that sample on ‘Say Less’.

Your first EP Downward Years To Come came out 10 years ago, how does it feel looking back on it?

Nicky: That’s a long time to remember! But yeah, we did that record with Kyle Johnson. So the lineup was a lot different. We didn’t really quite comprehend what we were doing, not that we do now either. But yeah, it felt young. Things felt more like a band, as recording Sons and Lovers still felt like the demo that got put together by us. Downward kinda felt the same, except that, got put on vinyl. It was also kind of the first time that I felt like we were starting to see what our sound might be. As far as like, where we’re at now it’s like a whole different planet!

(At this point in the interview, Doyle asks my girlfriend for a ‘tiny cigarette’ which we call rollies in the UK. I watch as he constructs it together and doesn’t even need to lick the paper to fold it.)

On The Great Dismal it felt like you took a more ‘cinematic’ approach to songwriting. Would you say that’s a fair statement to make?

Nicky: I mentioned Sound Of Metal in a previous interview, but I also watched a lot of movies by Yorgos Lanthimos and Akira Kurosawa during quarantine, so it coincided with us demoing the album. I think I watched a movie or two a day during that first year so yeah, I watched good shit, some bullshit, I downloaded the Criterion app at one point, which was cool because I would never usually have the time to sit down and appreciate shit like that. So yeah, it was definitely an art-filled time when we wrote the record.

I wanted to know more about why you chose that sample of a woman talking about shopping at a mall as a form of exercise for the song Say Less, what’s the context there?

Nicky: That song is about people speaking to you too much. Like whether it’s just on some like, punishing shit. Or if it’s like, someone just trying to like, talk your ear off. Or if it’s like some coke head shit, like, it’s kind of like a mixture of all that. So the video that we use is like, it’s like this pretty unused video of this lady that’s like, looks like she’s on a bunch of amphetamines at the mall. And she talks about working out at the mall through shopping. So it was it seemed like a good my friend sent it to us when we were in the studio and I just was like, “I’m gonna sample this”.

Doyle: Not a lot of views on it either before we used it!

You recently posted some photos of yourself with Full Of Hell, what can we look forward to hearing from both of you?

Nicky: They’re very close friends of mine, but aside from a live stream set and being on a few bills we’ve kept what we have planned for Roadburn Festival pretty quiet. So hopefully one day we’ll get to record something together unless it’s a complete disaster of course. It’s just gonna be me and Doyle but even then it’s always hard trying to get everyone to rehearse together. We’ll see how it goes.

Despite all the bad luck you’ve had over the years, do you feel like there are people out there that get the wrong impression about you? Do you still get accused of being a ‘tough guy’ band?

Doyle: I mean, we are a tough guy band dude, hahaha.

Nicky: It’s awful, we still get that from certain people online and in person. I think it’s just people don’t know how to handle someone that’s as open and honest as we are and things like that. And, you know, we don’t really follow the same guidelines and rules that everyone does. So like, we kind of alienate ourselves in that way. And the easiest way to misinterpret someone that’s put themselves in a different spot is the kind of like give them something that they don’t understand whether it’s like a being called a bully or like, whatever it is, that’s how they deal with not being able to understand that we just want to do things the way we do things.

What do you love most about touring the UK?

Nicky: Mostly just getting to see our friends that we don’t get to see face to face very often. We don’t have the same lifelong connections in mainland Europe so we consider y’all to be our real friends. Ben who’s filling in on drums is someone I’ve known for over 10 years, for example. We had fucking breakfast at his parents’ house in Worthing this morning with beans mushrooms and eggs, shit ruled. No matter how many times I come over here you guys still sound funny to me, I can’t get enough of it! I also just love being in Brighton in general, it’s for sure one of my favorite places to visit.

Photo by Cam Smith

I know it’s probably a question you get sick of hearing about but is Horror Show done for good?

Nicky: Short answer, no. I don’t have the energy for it and the people that were involved with that like I owe them a fair bit of respect to just like not bother with it anymore. Every once in a while we would hit a show or something like that and I didn’t feel like it was disrespectful to Joshua who passed away or anything but… I’ve had the thought of like recording again, maybe a third final little EP but it just seems doesn’t seem right. Plus, the people that are coming back around, bringing their old band back and trying to do it again like they just end up embarrassing themselves most of the time and I don’t want to accidentally do that to myself. I’ve managed to make it this long without like not completely embarrassing myself.

Right, so my follow-up question to that is…will there be any more Death Of Lovers material in the future?

Nicky: I’ll probably do something again, like that. The thing with that was, I think that there’s a medium which existed for why I did that band was because, at the time, the lineup was a little bit more fluid as far as writing and stuff. But now that like, it’s back to like a band again new people. And there’s absolutely room for change. I think that like I can probably appease what I want to get out of Death Of Lovers with Nothing. In some sense, I would expect big changes because I’m not going to make the same record again. Maybe that’s when I’ll embarrass myself along for the ride!

Finally, when can we expect a new record from Nothing?

Nicky: I don’t think we can release records at the same pace that we did before the pandemic, but also it feels like there’s way less pressure now to do so. The Great Dismal felt like an amazing way to end being in this band for a decade, almost like closing the final chapter of a book. I got what I wanted out of an album during a fucked up time and now I’m hitting up shows with these guys and it’s sick.

Doyle: I think next year we might start writing again but for now we’re just chilling. I mean, when I joined the band you guys already had a bunch of demos ready to go.

Nicky: Yeah I want to feel less pressure on my shoulders, we’ll start up again when the time feels right. It will be good to write a record with Doyle and do it that way.

Doyle: Are you gonna tell people I did that? That I housed Nicky’s pint?

Nothing will play the Sunday of Outbreak Festival in Manchester on 26th June. Get tickets here.

Greet Death on exploding ice cream machines and being called ‘Target music’.

Photo by David Beuthin

Middle school friends Sam Boyhtari (bassist) and Logan Gaval (guitarist) have been making music together since their early teens, with Greet Death being a long-term passion project accumulated from previous experiences growing up in Flint, Michigan. Established in 2011, the profound success of their slow-burning studio releases Dixieland and New Hell and signing with veteran hardcore label Deathwish, Greet Death make a brand of quiet-loud shoegaze at a slow tempo and sad thoughts that keep you up at night.

With the addition of fellow Michigan rockers, Jimmy Versluis on drums and Jackie Kalmink on bass, we sat down on Zoom to discuss what makes them all tick, and diving deeper into their latest single releases.

In terms of songwriting, do you and Sam have a Blink 182 Tom and Mark situation going on where you have songs specifically catered or is it more of a collaborative effort?

Logan: That’s pretty much it. Tom and Mark thing, I think, me and Sam always thought that it was cool that when you listen to a Blink 182 record, there are Tom songs and then there are Mark songs, but then there are also songs where they clearly collaborate, you know, so we pretty much just dropped that from Blink 182 Or, as you say, blink one eight two which I thought was really cool. What do you think of Blink one eight two, are they your Beatles?

I’ve got mixed feelings. The self-titled album, in particular, holds a lot of nostalgic value for me. When I was 11, I was given the Greatest Hits CD which got me really into drums, I never got to see them in their heyday, but I did see that reunion show that you mentioned, in 2009, So before Matt Skiba joined.

Logan: Yeah same, we saw them on the reunion tour, but it was before they put out all that new stuff. So they just played the hits and it was awesome.

So aside from Blink, what made you interested in guitar music and more specifically this genre of slowcore guitar music?

Logan: I’m honestly not sure. There’s a super old photo of me as a child playing an inflatable guitar. And then after that, my parents bought me a toy classical guitar, but I’m not really sure why. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that everyone in the band is around about the same age. When we were growing up, it was still very cool to play guitar, in movies and TV, skateboarding or becoming an artist in general. Those are the coolest things that you could do. I’ve always gravitated toward the guitar specifically. A lot of my earliest obsessions were guitar rock bands such as Nirvana and Guns and Roses, Ramones, and Good Charlotte. I’m not sure how exactly that correlates to the music that we play now, but I’ve always been pretty about guitar music. Jim can speak now and probably say something smarter.

Jim: I grew up on a lot of pop music and the music from my parents. So, as far as guitar music, I was really blown away by “Good Times Bad Times”. That was a big song. So it was from the Led Zeppelin two disk- this fucking thing they reissued five times, I had that. I remember being blown away by that kind of guitar. Black Sabbath was a big one. My parents totally let me listen to whatever and showed me whatever so that was neat for music. For the guitar music that’s more adjacent to what we do, I think probably getting into thrash in middle school is- I know that everybody in this band, at one point or another was obsessed with Metallica. Maybe not for Jackie though!

Jackie: I grew up on similar classic rock stuff as Jim. I was a huge Boston fan. I think that was my favourite band for my eighth-grade year or something. So I always kinda liked that poppy rock, sort of sound. I feel that being in this band is really cool because it’s a mix of more accessible songwriting. To play the music itself, It’s really cathartic because you just load a bunch of fuzz on.

Logan: That’s honestly a very good answer, Jackie, thank you for saying that. I don’t know if many people have picked up on this and I know aesthetically we come across as shoegaze or slow indie rock, but honestly, we’re mostly inspired by classic rock chops, even down the equipment we bring to concerts. We use a lot of super loud tube amps and pedals that aren’t really necessary with today’s PA systems. When I’m onstage I just feel I’m on some kinda School of Rock shit you know?

Advertisements

I love that! Jackie, how did you end up joining Greet Death?

Jackie: So Jim and I are still currently in a band called The Fever Haze and we’ve known Logan and Sam since before Greet Death. We went on tour together and yeah eventually we just naturally thought it would be cool to join.

Logan: We scalped Jim and Jackie because no one else wanted to be around us. In a way, The Fever Haze is minor league Greet Death. We drafted them, made them sign a contract and now they can’t leave.

How did you end up getting signed to Deathwish? I’ve not seen many bands from your scene be on their roster, to be honest.

Logan: I can’t remember if it was Jacob Bannon or someone else’s podcast, but Jasta from Hatebreed saw that we had recently signed to them and said “Oh fuck yeah, this shit could be played at Target!” I don’t know how much of a compliment that was intended to be but whatever. I’m aware the label has a very passionate audience but for whatever reason, they picked up our first record Dixieland and put it on their website. I think we were selected by a few staff members in their playlist picks over the years. I believe that was mostly this person, Mark Connolly that used to work at Deathwish. So I don’t know, I don’t know how much responsibility he had for us getting signed, but I have a feeling that it was 99% him. And he’s also now our manager.

I think another thing I read said that at the time we were selected, Jacob Bannon was really sad. So even though Greet Death has that sort of pop, rock feel I think lyrically, it’s still driven by the same emotions. I feel like it’s coming from a place in common with a lot of heavier music. And certainly, like, some of the textures with the guitars are reminiscent of metalcore or whatever you’d call that. To be honest, I don’t know, I think we still stand out on their roster, but I like that because a lot of our work isn’t typical of a heavy band. I feel like it works, even though it is kind of weird. I’d rather stand out in that way on the label than just be on like, you know, ‘we’re on the shoegaze label is like one of 100 different bands with reverb pedals’ or whatever.

One of my favorite facts about your band is that the title for New Hell came from an exploding ice cream machine at Logan’s work rather than something necessarily deep and profound.

Logan: Yeah, we love transforming the mundane into depressed, that glorious arc. That’s the connection that people need, like, take some boring shit and make it very sad. That’s what the people want. So that’s awesome. And as you mentioned that fact about Dairy Queen. So the general theme is; you think things are bad, and then they just keep getting so much worse. That’s the basic theme of that album, especially in shitty fast-food jobs.

What has it been like to record and write the new material during the pandemic?

Jim: I’ve recorded with Jackie more than anybody. So getting to lay down a lot of what we’ve put out so far with her has been like second nature. And so basically, recording new songs, new material. With Jackie, as she’s joining the band, it felt very, very seamless. The studio we recorded is great because it’s a cool place to hang out. You can just, fuck around and watch Bar Rescue and Trailer Park Boys or play Mario Golf or whatever. And maybe you’ll get to recording something, but at least you’re together. So that was that’s the only difference I guess it’s just that it was just even more comfortable for me to record with the new material.

Jackie: So since the pandemic has happened, I feel like I’m kind of a studio rat now. And it feels like having the band in there with me is a really fun way to kind of put stuff together without it all being completely set in stone.

Logan: Originally Sam and I would write a song and hash it out on the road, but obviously this time around, there weren’t really shows when we were developing our new material. A lot of those ideas were pitched and developed in the studio rather than months in advance. So I think for example ‘I Hate Everything’, the final recording is the third or fourth time we had played that song, having learned it just an hour or so beforehand. I definitely think I’ve always appreciated live recordings. I think it’s really easy to just keep revising and making revision after revision as weeks and weeks go on when you’re trying to make some sort of solid recording. I texted Sam, earlier in the pandemic, and I just told him that we should try to come up with some songs just to see what would happen if we tried to record them as quickly as possible.

What you’re starting to hear now is this stuff that we came up with at the height of the pandemic and a lot of it’s being described as mellow or acoustic. And I think a lot of that is just me and Sam not really feeling like rocking the fuck out. In those songs, you can hear that you can hear the environment that they were created, and you know, that it’s not that we’re writing something intended to make the crowd sing along and get lighters out, It’s just made out of sticks and stones, staring at a wall in the dark. I hope people don’t think that we’re not capable of doing the fuzz-rock thing. It doesn’t feel that much different than our older stuff. I think some of the textures are a little different, but I’m also not interested in making the same record twice. There’s a piano in the studio. So Sam has been using that a lot and he’s a very good piano player.

On “Your Love Is Alcohol” you talk about getting drunk with your girlfriend whilst watching Fox News, have there been any particular moments of watching that channel that has seemed funnier or even more ridiculous when you’ve been drinking?

Logan: I would like to clarify that. It was me and my girlfriend drinking, passing a bottle of Tito’s vodka back and forth. At this time, I lived with my parents still. So I would, I would hear the Fox News broadcasts that my parents were listening. That song to me is just about how my relationship with my girlfriend has helped me live in a lot of ways. It’s certainly taken away a lot of the pain and the fear of, you know, whatever, like the things that we all deal with.

Another song I wanted to have more of an insight about was ‘Crush’ from New Hell, what was the inspiration behind it?

Logan: When I wrote that song it was mostly just like intrusive thoughts in my head late at night. Hold on let me get the lyrics up from Genius….so it’s definitely a breakup song and not having a mutual group of friends with that person….I mean other than that, I know I was listening to a load of Big Thief at the time so at least that’s where it’s at musically speaking.

Okay so, in verse one you got some basic problematic, soft boy stuff, talking about killing yourself out of spite. By the idea that if I killed myself, what I would really want is to watch everyone around me hurt. So I’m not going to do that because I don’t believe in the afterlife. Damn, this is a sad song. I don’t normally do this. In general, the song starts off with a lot of unhealthy ways of coping with heartbreak. And then the last verse is basically if I were to run into you, I’d like to think I’m in like a better place now and I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone in any way.

Speaking of which, have you caught up with Big Thief’s new material?

Logan: Dude no I actually haven’t just yet. I would say I’m much more of a fan of the group’s solo material under the name Buck Meek but it’s been on my list. As you can tell though I do fuck with that band, another great band. carrying the torch for guitar music.

Any thoughts on your upcoming tour with Infant Island next month?

Logan: I always think it’s interesting to have a tour package with an interesting juxtaposition between the bands. Cloakroom have been hugely influential to us. But I think people can only take so much of slow, heavy, quiet, loud type music, you know. And before that, we had an opportunity to tour with Deafheaven, nowadays they’re more similar to our sound than they were back in 2019. I think it’s an interesting dichotomy. It’s also just fun to tour with different kinds of bands. For some reason, it’s always ended up being heavier bands. I’m looking forward to watching Infant Island play every night. They’re very good. I’m also looking forward to not going to work. I would say, that’s like, number one.

Jim: I’m excited to go to San Diego, home of Blink 182 and I’ve never been there so I’m excited about that. There’s a few other cities that I don’t believe we’ve been to. So that’s always interesting. A lot of times, it’s kind of hurry up and wait, you don’t get a lot of time to hang around. But we typically get in the habit because we have two people that like to drive through the night to get somewhere usually in the early hours of the morning or the night before. So then you can kind of set yourself up to go around or take a nap or go to a park or something. So I’m excited for more of that just more bonding time. And yeah, I’m excited to see Infant Island every night. I think we like to tour with those bands just because we want it to eventually be Portrayal Of Guilt. So yeah, we’re just like trying to we’re just trying to work our way there.

Jackie: Yeah, I definitely am looking forward to not having to go to a day job. That’s probably my number one also, but I think what I’m really excited for is like to meet the people in Infant Island. On the last tour we did with The World Is (TWIABPAIANLATD) and Bent Knee I made some really good friends with both of those bands. I’m really excited to like meet another set of people who all become lifelong friends with because we spend too much time together.

Logan: Jackie’s doing fucking doughnuts in the parking lot by the sounds of things, that’s how stoked she is!

I’ve never done an interview where someone has looked up their own lyrics on Genius before..

Logan: When you asked me that earlier I was living in a fucking nightmare. So in an interview like confronted with my own writing I was like ‘damn it’s kind of fucked.’

Well as much as I love the shoegaze genre, sometimes the lyrics feel more like an afterthought because of all the layers so when I discovered you guys it was a great change of pace to hear something so relatable!

Logan: When I think of New Hell, I think of Sam and I before we left for the tour at Great Lakes Crossing which is an outlet mall in Michigan, buying new shoes there. And then I remember showing him the demos on my phone-it’s fun to like go back since my short term memory is really fucking terrible, but my long term is painfully clear – crystal clear visions of whatever I was going through at the time, whether it was at the mall or in my bedroom. I remember it all.

US TOUR DATES with Infant Island, buy tickets HERE:

3/24 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club *
3/25 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry *
3/26 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium *
3/27 – Des Moines, IA @ Gas Lamp (Matinee) *
3/28 – Wichita, KS @ Barleycorn’s *
3/29 – Denver, CO @ Meadowlark *
3/31 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
4/01 – Boise, ID @ The Olympic *
4/02 – Portland, OR @ The High Water Mark *
4/03 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile *
4/05 – Oakland, CA @ Elbo Room *
4/06 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident *
4/07 – Costa Mesa, CA @ The Wayfarer *
4/08 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick *
4/09 – Phoenix, AZ @ Nile (Underground) *
4/11 – Fort Worth, TX @ Tulips *
4/12 – Austin, TX @ Spider House Ballroom *
4/13 – Houston, TX @ Eighteen Ten Ojeman *
4/14 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa *
4/15 – Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box *
4/16 – Atlanta, GA @ Boggs *
4/17 – Nashville, TN @ Springwater *
4/19 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor *
4/20 – Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall *
4/21 – Washington, D.C. @ Pie Shop *
4/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ Milk Boy *
4/23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
4/24 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East / Upstairs *
4/26 – Middletown, CT @ Rednawa *
4/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Funhouse *
4/28 – Columbus, OH @ Spacebar *
4/29 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/30 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary *

Advertisements

Powerplant are here to make your life weird

Formed by frontman Theo Zhykharyev in 2017 initially as a bedroom project, Powerplant are a five-piece synth-punk collective based in London. The last show I ended up seeing before THE EVENT was Folly Group, Legss, and Powerplant at The Old Blue Last in March 2020. Shortly afterward, they became a band of great comfort to me during several lockdowns, especially periods where it felt like they became my own soundtrack to derealisation. It’s not exactly easy to pinpoint why their sound works, but the militant midi drums coupled with angular guitar riffs alongside the piercing retro synths evident in almost all of their work is a compelling combination. Think of The Coneheads but blended with the original DOOM soundtrack and an extra sense of dread. Zhykharyev spoke to us about how they created their sound, playing in Benidorm and their upcoming Dungeons and Dragons-inspired campaign soundtrack.

What was your life like between the release of your albums Dogs See Ghosts and People In The Sun?

Simpler times! I was doing my film BA and getting into cool new music and doing PP stuff half ironically for my own pleasure. But I guess over the years I kinda figured I want to do music more rather than film, you could probably tell with the growing effort in each project. But besides, in those two years, I want to say I met people that are my true friends to this day and very important occurrences happened in my life that I hold dearly that I guess opened my eyes to what existence really is or could be and what people are like?

Meline Gharibly
Advertisements

I’ve noticed over the past few years how many different types of bills you’ve ended up on. What is the connection between Powerplant and the wider London hardcore scene?

Lloyd, who drums the drum, played/plays in many hc bands and we got onto many bills through that I suppose. But it’s probably mostly through friends putting on gigs and people wanting to have fun – I don’t remember! Lloyd being such a fast violent drummer definitely helps too! I think we are way less clean live, so it works.

What equipment do you use to deliver the dungeon synth sound?

It’s all MIDI! Well, like 85% or something. Which was very fun to work with, I used to be anti-MIDI and anything that’s not an audio recording in Logic. All this choice is fun but it will be the death of me. Plugin wise, I used Roland Sound Canvas that I heard in Daggerfall. It’s just a perfect early cheap midi that sounds amazing with a wobble, and another big plugin was Arturia’s DX7. Good sounds there. Harland Steed (President Evil, SMTB) did tape reruns at CORPUS and that made it not flat and computer sounding. It rocks!!!

I’ve noticed that a lot of your music has a sense of unknown nostalgia. Did you have any specific influences from your childhood that inspire your music?

I listened to 50 Cent when I was a kid, so at the moment probably I want to say no haha. But who knows what the future shall bring – let’s find out.

How was your recent show abroad in Benidorm?

It was a great time – it was a crazy time! Lots of good people there – good sound on stage! First time in Europe for me in a long time and half the city is like little England with every other place called ‘The Bulldog’ or ‘Churchill’. There was a 1 euro pizza slice place and a strip with sketchy sex shows. We swam and walked around – it was really good! Thank you Paloma!

Meline Gharibly

Tell us about this upcoming album and role-playing adventure module?

I kinda properly got into ‘Dungeon Synth Archives’ on YT in late 2020 and got super into it. I tried making some songs – it kinda happened and I just thought it would be an odd/funny thing to commit to. It was supposed to be like a one-two instrument thing originally and seemed like a good contrast with punk PP stuff I was working on that was all too many tracks. However, as time went on and got more serious I got about this I ended up complicating it more etc. ‘Stump Soup’ is looking to be 18 tracks and just under an hour. I think in the end it’s somewhere in between DS and comfy synth, so egg synth of comfy synth I dunno.

I don’t remember exactly where the idea to make an adventure module came from – maybe Cam suggested it, just like the whole DS album thing, but I’m not sure! I named the second track Herziegger’s Mansion after a homebrew DnD campaign I wrote, so maybe that went someplace afterward. In my head, it works very well as there isn’t much context to songs besides the track name, and the campaign is there to attach a personal story/relationship to songs, should be fun! I always wanted to print some stuff and keep it silly, so I’m excited about it all! My good friend and DM Tom Terry is doing most of the writing. I Gotta do it. But I guess throughout the whole thing main inspiration to actually do it all was the SFDD album and the quote/review from the Bandcamp release. It’s just perfect, it’s everything. And doing the whole instrumental album thing kinda makes sense because there was an instrumental skit on almost every release.

I saw that Powerplant was mentioned on /mu/ thread the other day, how did that make you feel?

It made me smile. The weirder the community the better, and I guess that’s just as odd as it gets. And if people are mentioning stuff on there I guess it’s somewhat really working. Used to get DS charts from /mu/ last year. 

Finally, what do you hope to do with Powerplant in 2022?

Man, at this point I just want something to do, I just want to have fun.

Pixie GF is out now, listen below!

Advertisements

Mumble Tide splash a big wave on their new mini-album

“Everyone’s an arsehole” sings vocalist Gina Leonard on “Breakfast”, a statement of intent that sets the tone for many of Mumble Tides songs, passively aggressive. Mumble Tide are a band of opposites, they take their work very seriously, but not themselves. This merging of two worlds allows their charismatic personalities to shine through in every moment. After first meeting via a Gumtree advert that Gina posted in search of a bassist for their last project, the duo started hanging out more after Ryan’s previous relationship ended and the pair realised they had more than just playing music together in common. “I think if we hadn’t worked together beforehand in that setting as band members would have been very difficult to work together now” says Gina. “We almost have modes that we go into a little bit, because you have to be pretty brutally honest when you’re working with people in music. And sometimes a bit rude and harsh”. “It’s hard because you never really know when to turn it back on” says Ryan. “Occasionally we’re just like “Can you just be a boyfriend for a bit”.

Their name has been slandered by those around them as “The worst name ever” recalls Ryan. “I really like whales and I went to uni in Swansea where I didn’t study too hard…” explains Gina. “But there’s a place in Swansea called Mumbles and we were on our way back from visiting some friends there and I was saying to Ryan how the tidal range there is the second biggest tidal range in the world. And I also do Mumble a bit so we went with it”. Their whimsical personalities shine through in every aspect.

It’s a cold November evening when we chat to the duo about their new mini-album Everything Ugly, first connecting over our stints working at hmv, the dreadful loyalty card scheme there and the fact that we share the same roof beams in our houses. The down to earth nature of the duo is immediately noticeable, both sat surrounded by swathes of equipment in what appears to be a living room in Gina’s parents home, they are encapsulated by their craft in every aspect. We first ask the duo what the reaction to the singles released so far in the release campaign. ” I think we were a little bit apprehensive as there’s a lot of different sounds in the mix across the singles and we weren’t really sure how that was gonna go down” says Ryan. “But it’s been received really nicely and I think we were just happy with anything as we’d made it all here by ourselves and we weren’t really sure wether people would enjoy it. But we were just grateful that anyone was paying attention really!”. “And with the first EP you’re basically a new thing” continues Gina “But with this it’s a little tougher in a way coming back with more stuff and we didn’t leave much of a gap, we’ve been a bit relentless with releases which is maybe a bit demanding from people. But people have still listened which has been nice. We’ve found that certain people like some tracks and not others which is always interesting”.

The contrast in their sound is immediately noticeable on your first wade through the album as a whole, ranging from the indie anthem “Sucker” to the heartfelt folk ballad of “Bulls Eye”. But the one thing that glues the range of sounds all together is the enigmatic personalities behind it. “We don’t put loads and loads of thought into it but we both listen to a pretty wide range of music and I personally go through fazes where I listen to a lot pretty heavy stuff and it’ll be a month of just that so then I’ll think “Man I really want to write some metal” remarks Ryan. “And then I’ll bring a really sweet folky song and ask “How can we merge the two?”” adds Gina. “We probably should think more about it to be honest” she laughs.

The album was written with the space of 3-4 months, “About the second half of the ‘intense’ pandemic phase” explains Gina. The first song of which that emerged from the ‘sessions’ being “On My Deathbed”, which also took the band the longest to finish. “It was a bit of a nightmare” recalls Gina. “At the time I thought we were gonna do a disco pop record” continues Ryan. “Gina had brought “Deathbed” as one she’d written acoustically and it wasn’t fully formed but I thought “Oh this is going to be like Tennis or Tops and it’ll be a really indie record” but it just didn’t work at all”. “Then “Sucker” I was messing around with at New Years and I remember you brought that guitar riff and you thought “Oh that was a bit of fun we won’t do anything with it” but I said no we will because it was really cool” says Gina. “The last one we did was “Everything Ugly” which felt like a resolution track where we’d got most of it out of our system. It was a tricky time for everyone and other projects had disbanded. I’d also never been in a lot of long-term relationships and then I moved with Ryan into his childhood bedroom and have been living with his parents, it was intense. But we survived!”.

Advertisements

The dynamic of the pair often merges into one, both finishing each others sentences and continuing stories, you can tell that they come very much packaged together. Their songwriting is no different, they play their separate parts but will often compare notes to make sure their answers are always right. “Gina is 100% lyrics and melody” explains Ryan. “But there’s different ways we put stuff together. Sometimes she’ll have something fully formed on acoustic and then we’ll build it into the song it becomes. And then sometimes I’ll write a riff but Gina’s 100% the lyric mastermind”. “And i’d say Ryan is a lot better at production and having an idea of where the track is going to end up” adds Gina. “We have kind of defined roles but also we’re obviously super comfortable around each other so we can step on each others toes without it being too intrusive. As time goes on we’re writing more and more together and I was always nervous of that because for years I would just write on my own with a guitar and was very precious about it. But over the years I’ve gotten more into co-writing and writing more on the spot with other people playing which is so fun and exciting”. “It’s like a Venn diagram of placing everything and roles” adds Ryan.

Although the lines may be blurred about how the songs are formed, the content behind them comes straight from a clear place of reflection from Gina. “It’s very therapeutic and most of the time I don’t know what I’m singing about when I’m in it, but it does help to get this stuff out of me. I’m quite an oversensitive person that gets quite overwhelmed by things and that’s my outlet. I don’t think that much about lyrics. I am very passionate and when I’m listening I focus on the lyrics. But I don’t slave over them when I’m writing, I prefer when it’s coming from this place naturally. It’s all based on real things that have happened and all honest”. The content has to be kept fresh however and due to the constant output that the band create, lead times for releases can become a challenge. “I get very quickly over it and it’s almost as if once it’s written it gets stale” explains Gina. “It’s exciting when it’s getting written but if I have to sit on it for a year when we go to the studio then I really struggle to get back to the place it came from”. The delays within the vinyl production world have meant that any physical copies of the album have now been pushed back until Spring next year; something we all are becoming impatient with.

The DIY nature of the band exists within every aspect, from the music recorded at home, the bedroom studio to directing their own music videos. It’s not necessarily out of desire to capture a lo-fi sound that’s become so lauded in the independent scene, but “Mainly down to lack of budget and what equipment we have rather than intentionally” laughs Gina. “It’s funny though because a lot of projects we worked on in the past, we were lucky enough to work in situations where there was a lot of money being put into stuff within studios” continues Ryan. “But then when we came to do Mumble Tide, especially with the way it started as an underneath project, we kept the ethos of doing it for free and cheap. Especially with the first EP it was “Let’s just do it ourselves””. It also comes from a desire to have some control over their project, feeling as although their previous project had a big budget, that often outweighed how much creative freedom they had. “We’re also just both super into doing it and we love making the videos and coming up with these stupid ideas which sometimes work and sometimes don’t” says Ryan. “We think with the next thing we do we want to step it up a level and take it away from the DIY aspect. As great as it is we’d love to just create a slightly more hi-fi sound” says Gina. “We want to follow the EP pretty quickly” adds Ryan. “We did a couple of days with Ed Nash from Bombay Bicycle Club recently. It’s still a little while off but we’re following up as soon as we can and we’re lucky to have met so many great people through doing Mumble Tide that can help from different angles and seeing how that fits”.

From working with new people to touring with new people, the world of Mumble Tide is ever expanding. “We’re looking into ways of just doing it with us two for fun but with this tour and with the Liz Lawrence we had a drummer and a really old friend of mine John playing guitar and synths” explains Ryan. “It was a four piece but our next tour we are a six piece. We want to be able to change it up constantly where sometimes it’s just us two and a drum machine or whoever’s around and wants to get involved then can join in as well”. One thing that will never change is the bands love of the live show. “We started this project and released the first track during the first couple of weeks of lockdown so we’ve never really had the chance to do the live aspect of it. We’ve done a handful of shows and it was just amazing” recalls Ryan. ‘We did the lockdown thing of doing stuff with cameras but that was shit haha! That was horrible, the way they look at you” laughs Gina. “I got the need for it and some great things happened with it but doing the real thing is where it’s at” follows Ryan. “I think as well with our last project it was quite a serious electronic set up we didn’t get chance to go heavy or go loud with it. Whereas with this tour we could really go for it”.

We ask the pair finally to turn on their serious side reflect on the music industry as a whole, asking what they would want to change about the industry. “More women would be good” states Gina. “I’ve literally just exclusively worked with men. This tour we’ve got a friend to come and play with us but it’s been mostly men. I think that’s changing though which is great, with stuff like Fender’s campaign to get more girls playing guitar, there’s a lot of good stuff happening. I think it’s going in the right direction but there’s still a ways to go”. “That first, definitely!” remarks Ryan. “I also think the perception of the music industry by the people who aren’t in it where everyone bases their ideas of it off 1% of artists who are this enormous thing. We have a lot friends who are in these great band and are doing really well, but they’re not at Ed Sheeran or Adele level. And I think it would be great if people who aren’t in that 1% would stop having to apologise for not being in that 1%”. It’s a numbers game for most but Gina is happy with the stats so far “Most people who are in music or into music get it but everyone else is like “Poor you and your little band” but it’s not going that bad”. It’s not going that bad at all in the world of Mumble Tide, their wave will keep crashing on the shores of listeners ears for many years to come. “I wish my mum didn’t think I should be a plumber” says Ryan longingly.

Everything Ugly is out now via Nothing Fancy, purchase here.

Chartreuse are ageing like a fine liqueur

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

The origin of the word Chartreuse is from the Chartreuse mountains in the region of Grenoble in France, but it’s more commonly associated with the liqueur that’s been created there by the Carthusian Monks since 1737. Often being described as sweet and spicy due to its mixture of herbal and secret ingredients. The same could be said for Birmingham based four-piece Chartreuse; sans the herbal part. Their music is at it’s core sweet, tender and vulnerable. It has a tendency to become spicier in moments of emotional outbursts or driven guitar leads, but the secret ingredient behind the band is well kept; but the darkness of it seeps through into each pore of their sound. We caught up with the band to learn about their brand new EP, touring life and lockdown projects.

Forming in the summer of 2014 with just originally singer’s Harriet Wilson and Michael Wagstaff, writing indie folk ballads, they then joined forces with brother Rory Wagstaff and Perry Lovering on the drums and bass respectively to form the unit that is known today. Their circumstances of meeting weren’t anything out of the ordinary, “We met through college and by circumstance we were all like “We all like to play music” so we just made a band and that was kind of it. We knew pretty quickly that we gelled quite well, it was something we all enjoyed doing together so we stuck at it. It’s not a great story!” explains Harriet. But the music that came out of the coming together is something more.

Originally I first saw Chartreuse perform in 2016 supporting Matt Corby at the O2 Institute in Birmingham in (where I still have one of their old posters on my wall from the show). But after the show nothing was to be heard from the band until three years later in 2019 when they released their debut EP Even Free Money Doesn’t Get Me Out Of Bed. The time in between was a time of embracing who they were, “We were just maturing, getting some songs ready. We didn’t want to release anything at that time as we didn’t think it was up to scratch really” explains Michael. “So then we came out with the Even Free Money Doesn’t Get Me Out Of Bed EP, and it’s all just carried on from there”.

They’ve now returned with their third EP Is It Autumn Already?, a collection of songs that focus on the realities of passing time, realising you’re not getting any younger and embracing the challenges that you’ve faced up to this point. The title is a line from “Things Are Changing Too Quickly”, “That song is about getting a bit older and things are starting to get a bit faster” explains Michael. “The older you get the years seem to go by a bit quicker in my opinion and don’t last as long, so it’s that fear of going through summer and then you’re watching the leaves fall and you think “Shit that’s another one gone”. We’re all in this weird rushing rat race that’s never-ending but also does end. It’s also realising that you’re not going to be young forever so making the most of your time. It’s not a negative but realising that you’re not here forever and appreciating the time you’ve got”.

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
Advertisements

The sound that Chartruese encapsulate on the EP is one they’ve become accustomed to; dark, ambient textures blended with jazzy piano’s and groove filled drums, but this time they’ve added a certain magic within each track that encapsulates on every listen. This force of mystique is one that flows out of the band naturally, “We’ve never spoken about it or said “We need to make it a bit darker” explains Harriet. “I guess just from working together for so long then that’s just what we all gravitate towards. When it’s the four of us in a room we’ll hear a song and then naturally we’ll go towards those darker tones because we’ve just worked that way for such a long time”. Being produced entirely by Michael in his home studio cabin, the band are in charge of every aspect of their sound. “This was the first one that we did completely ourselves” he explains. “In the other EP’s we did bits and bobs in the cabin and then we would take it to the producer Luke who did the first two EP’s”. It was a welcome challenge that looked to further his already formed abilities as a producer. “I loved doing it, i’ve always done it ever since I was in bands when I was 17. I was always the one with the computer ready to record because no one else would haha”.

The band credit John Martyn’s ambient works as an inspiration for the atmospheres they build, but when it came time to record the EP there was no direct influence feeding into the band other than themselves. “I can honestly say that I didn’t listen to any other music when we were making the EP” says Michael when asked if any influence creeped in during recording. “I think because it was the lockdown we were just trying to work as much as we could to keep our minds occupied. We were all working about 6 days a week so on that day off I didn’t really fancy listening to any music”.

Although recorded during the lockdown, this isn’t the bands lockdown project, “We had already planned to sit down and record during that time no matter wether lockdown or not, it just happened to be the perfect time” explains Harriet. A project that did occur of that time however was the Relaxation Tape For Nobodies Instrumental EP that saw the band push their sonic boundaries to the limits through folky guitars and ambient pianos. Songs on the new EP were written during the recording sessions but tracks like “Deep Fat” have been a part of the bands catalogue for quite some years with Michael originally penning the track when he was 18, but finding the right fit for the song proved difficult.”Every year we would try to record it and it sounded shit but then eventually we got to it and thought “Oh actually this sounds alright so we’ll carry on with it” he explains. “There are a few different recorded versions of it where we just thought “No this doesn’t work” and in the end we went back to the original version that we were trying to do after spending ages doing a new version and thought “Oh no actually, the first one was better” adds Harriet. Sometimes the original form of a song is it’s purest.

Opening the EP is “Feed Be Fed”, a groove driven and subtly alluring track that focuses on the side effects that being on the pill can have on someones mental health. “When I felt ready to talk about the topic it came out of me really quickly after having the initial chorus line. Within an afternoon I was able to get everything off my chest” explains Harriet when asked wether talking about such a personal topic was challenging or relieving. “It’s also important to talk about things like this, as much as it’s important for me to have said it myself, I would hope that people listen to it and find comfort within it. Because as soon as you release a song it’s instantly for other people. So I think that’s quite an exciting thing, on a subject that isn’t really spoken about at all, but it affects so many women. I felt empowered to release it and be able to talk about it”.

Their music isn’t always designed to inspire however, but often used as an outlet to express themselves the way they know best, “Selfishly I write for myself and we do it as a unit when we’re in here, so the songs are ours for quite a long time until they go out. So it’s not something that crosses my mind about comforting somebody else, but when they come out all these people are listening to what you want to talk about and how you felt so naturally as soon as it’s out you’re gifting these people what you want to talk about” says Harriet. “I feel the same but I also do have in the back of my head that eventually i’m going to be sharing this” explains Michael. “For me it’s always been what is the point in doing it if you can’t share it with anyone. It would be a nice hobby but I wanna feel something with it with people”.

The best outlet of sharing their music with people is of course the live show, a platform that has only recently become a part of the bands life again. Playing festival slots over the summer and a headline tour coming in December, the band are slowly finding their way back to normality from having to solely pander to a digital audience. “It’s great to actually see people again. We’ve been to a couple of gigs over the last couple of weeks and even that is really exciting, just to see people enjoying music” says Harriet. The thought of getting back on stage doesn’t phase Michael however, taking it as it comes, “Weirdly enough I don’t even think about it. When you’re on stage you just go into that ether of not thinking about anything, and that’s the feeling I like to get, to just be able to feel the energy coming off people. It’s why we do it”.

Finally we ask the band to reflect on the music industry as a whole, asking if there’s anything they’d like to change about it. “I think basically pay more streams” simply puts Perry. “People should support music more, if you really like an artist to support them by getting merch or going to a show instead of just listening to them on Spotify” says Harriet. “To be fair if streams paid more they wouldn’t have to. It’s just a byproduct of how people consume music these days” says Rory. “I think it’s very different depending on where you go. Birmingham is a lot different to London and I feel like they all have different ways of consuming music and audiences are different within each” continues Harriet. “It’s also quite hard in the fact that everything’s so online now, even with how we are as a band. You fully have to sell yourself online and it’s such a different ways of consuming music now compared to when we were kids. It shifts all the time with what people want and what you should be doing as a band, but it’s just something that you have to get on with and move with. There’ll be constant things that people want to change about the industry. For us right now though it’s not too bad”.

Is It Autumn Already? EP is out now. Purchase / listen here.

Advertisements

Taylor Madison on finding his feet with Webbed Wing

The Philadelphia group’s frontman talks to us about their upcoming sophomore album What’s So Fucking Funny?, Superheaven’s return to touring and why the term grunge dosen’t apply to the music he makes anymore.

How has life been for you since dropping the Webbed Wing demo in 2017 and the singles you’ve released this year?

I can’t really speak for life in general, because that’s always kind of all over the place. But as far as the band goes, it’s been sort of frustrating, honestly. I mean, that demo came out at the very tail end of 2017. And now, 4 entire years later, we have recorded a split, and 2 entire LPs. And in that time, we have probably barely played 10 shows, and only now does it seem like anybody is catching on that the band exists. And the pandemic didn’t help, but that fucked everybody over, so I’m not upset about that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m entitled to anything. I just feel like it’s odd to be that active, but nothing really happens. I’m not sure if people assume it’s just a fun little project or what, but I’m trying to tour and shit if we can.

In your touring career, have there been any venues that spark significant memories for you, both positive and negative?

Yes, absolutely. I won’t even try to go down the list, because it would be silly to type all of that. But some things that stick out – microphones that shock your lips, but the sound guy does nothing to try and remedy the issue. That happens all the time, and it sucks so bad. Whenever a venue doesn’t have at least a room for bands to safely keep their backpacks/laptops/etc. I can live without a green room (although that sucks too, if I’m being honest). Like cmon man, you don’t have a spot where I can put my few possessions for 3 hours, without fear of them getting stolen or something? But it’s not all bad, obviously. I love showing up to a venue and they have a good stage, or sound system. And if the sound guy isn’t a total pussy, that’s a plus too.

Who was your favourite person to interview when the Strange Nerve podcast was still active?

I’m not sure that I have a single favourite, but some of my favuorites were Alex G, Logan Pierce, my dad, Colin Young and Alec Faber (these were probably the most fun ones to do), Evange Livanos (Superheaven’s manager). But they were all cool in their own way. I miss podcasting a lot, and I’m actually working on a new one that should be out sort of soon.

What’s the one misconception people have about you and your music?

Hard to narrow it down to just one. I think from a distance, I can come off very cold, and maybe even dismissive or mean. And I absolutely can be those things if I’m caught at a bad time, or if someone puts off a vibe that I don’t like. But I like to think I am genuinely a nice and caring person. I’m just not a very social person, so many of my interactions with people that don’t know me can come off a way that I don’t intend. And sometimes, I do intend it because I just don’t want to speak to certain people. As far as the music goes, I think way too many people assume that I am constantly going for some like grunge rock shit, or trying to be like THE 90’s throwback guy. But I swear to god, that has never been my intention, and I resent the assumption to this day. I think Superheaven getting slapped with the “grunge” label hurt us more than a lot of people might assume. Which is fine. I can understand why people would call us that at first. But like, that’s all they ever called us, and I think we were more than that. And we never leaned into the grunge thing. If anything, we actively tried to get away from it. And now, when I’m writing stuff with webbed wing, that I would never consider to be “grunge-y” and people immediately call it that, it drives me fucking insane. In the end, people can call it whatever they want, and I’m gonna live my life. But when I see the word, it does bother me a little bit.

Advertisements

Aside from the name change, do you feel like there is much of a difference between the music you released under Daylight and Superheaven?

Nah, not really. At least nothing beyond just normal songwriting progression. I think we got better and better as a band, but the name never dictated our style or the way we operated. If anything, people’s reaction to the name change made me really resent the people that liked our band. And you can probably tell at this point that I resented a lot about being in the band at that time haha.

What thought process came behind deciding to reunite for shows next year?

Ok, so this is kind of a weird thing to me. I’ve talked about this before, but our band literally never broke up. And we never said we were breaking up. We simply said we weren’t going to tour anymore, and everyone took that as us saying “we’re done as a band.” And I can sort of understand how someone might deduce that from us not touring anymore, BUT we have played multiple shows since then. Like at least one shows a year since our last tour in 2016. So we’re not really reuniting at all. Just playing some shows. And we will certainly play more shows in the future. Not a lot, but definitely some. Unless one of us dies or just refuses to take part. I would actually love to play like 3-5 Superheaven shows a year. Any less than that kinda feels annoying to me. Mostly because I am an idiot and completely forget the songs after not playing them for a year. So every time we have to play a show, I have to relearn everything. Total pain in the ass. But the shows will be cool, and I’m excited that people seem to be excited.

How long have you and Jake Clarke been making music together?

Since 2008, I think. Since I was like 20 and he was probably like 16 or something. It’s pretty crazy, because we had some rocky times during the years that Superheaven was touring a lot, and now we are very close. We have a great dynamic because he is very bubbly and pleasant, and I am a grumpy old fuck with very little patience for anything. But I absolutely love him. He really feels like my little brother, and I cherish our friendship all of these years later.

For the most part your lyrics have been incredibly bleak and hard-hitting. Are they written from first-hand experiences of MH struggles or do you tend to write about other people?

I would say 99% of it is personal stuff about me, and my own experience. But every now and then I like to mix it up and write about someone else, or from someone else’s perspective. And that usually comes out of me feeling like I write from my own perspective too much, and then I get kind of embarrassed, like “who wants to hear what I think all the time?” But yeah, I know everyone talks about their mental health now, which I think is mostly a great thing. At the risk of sounding corny, I think expressing my mental health struggles through songs is a lot easier than just saying them out loud for me. But I do also have a great time writing about other people. Writing from other peoples’ perspectives is so fun, but kinda scary because not everyone is smart enough to understand that everything you write isn’t going to be through your own eyes, or from your own experiences. For example, there’s a song on the new webbed wing record that is from the perspective of a school shooter. I am already anticipating a lot of people taking issue with that. And I’m ok with that, because that song fucking rules and I’m proud of how it came out.

What are your future plans with Webbed Wing and the Superheaven reunion shows?

Superheaven will always be a huge question mark, and I kind of like that. There’s no pressure to do anything, and it can just be fun. I truly love the 3 other guys in the band and I hope I can play music with them in some form for the rest of my life. Even if it’s just here and there. As far as webbed wing goes, that’s my baby. That feels more like my passion, and my purest way to express myself (for lack of a better way of putting it). I would love to tour with webbed wing, and just keep writing and recording music. Even though it hasn’t exactly “taken off” the way I’d like it to, it has been very fulfilling.

What’s So Fucking Funny? is out November 5th. You can pre-order the album here.

Superheaven will play the following UK shows in June 2022:

22nd-New Cross Inn, London

24th- Outbreak Festival, Manchester

Advertisements

This Is Out Of Love’s World (and we’re all invited!)

Photo by Ashley Bea Photography

Formed from the ashes of bleak hardcore band Canvas, guitarist Daniel Marsh, vocalist Ricky Clarke and bassist Jack Rogers decided to start a new project-with the sole purpose of having as much fun as possible. This is reflected in their eclectic mix of 90’s skate punk, alt rock and grunge, with copious amounts of sugar and caffeine. Music made by hardcore kids always seems to hit harder, and Out Of Love are no exception to that theory.

Cut to early 2020, after releasing the music video for S.L.U.M.P, Out Of Love were set to play their first hometown show until COVID set back everything they had worked so hard for. 

Thankfully their time off the road was well spent, releasing two EP’s over the various lockdown periods, signing to Venn Records and gaining a significant amount of traction in a scene that desperately needed reviving. On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with Rogers- now fronting Out Of Love, over Zoom. It’s two days before the band’s debut sold out show in Milton Keynes and the anticipation is nail biting.

Hey Jack! How did you get involved in music in the first place?

I was exposed to like punk rock and hardcore from a very young age because I had cooler cousins that were older than me. They would just give me a box loads of CDs like Slipknot, Green Day, The Offspring. Whatever you could think of that was big in the 90’s they would chuck at me. I loved Slipknot. Then I found Dookie by Green Day. Burnout was the first track and like a light bulb went off in my head. And I was just like “Yeah this is cool, catchy poppy music”, but has an edge that I’d never experienced before. They were my gateway into these coasts of the West Coast, hardcore and punk scene and all the East Bay bands, like Descendents and NOFX, all that kinds of stuff. So I got really into that, which then obviously led to like discovering more of the hardcore kind of bands in that world. And yeah, I just started going to shows I saw, like, I saw my first concert was Green Day when they did in Milton Keynes in 2005 for the Bullet In A Bible live DVD.

I was also in some terrible cover bands in secondary school, covering Nirvana and shit. Then we formed Canvas, which we did really well with for five years. Sadly we weren’t around long and then that broke up, and then I was lucky enough to kind of join Acres and do some fill in for them and tour. Out Of Love was kind of born through just boredom with me and Dan really, he was someone that I’ve always written songs with.

Tell me about your first single “S.L.U.M.P” and where the lyrics came from?

“S.L.U.M.P” was just born out of frustration, again, really it was kind of a very , coming of age thing where in 2019 everyone around me was changing. I felt I was still in the same position I was when I was 18. I had this constant feeling of anger and jealousy, I don’t really know of where it came from. I kind of just felt like I was stuck in this, for lack of a better word, slump where I was trying my hardest to do things. Nothing was really working out. Everyone else around me was kind of growing up achieving these little milestones and I was stuck at home doing fuck all. So it’s about that really!

Does your band name refer to a relationship breakup, or doing something for someone else out of love?

It’s both, that’s what I love about it! We all consider this to be a passion project and we’re doing everything literally out of love for ourselves and the music we wanna write. Initially, it was just in the lyric of the song “S.L.U.M.P.”, we had the song before we had the band name. And then I got the band name while we were looking through the lyrics, we didn’t know what to call and I was like, Well, ‘Out Of Love’ fits perfectly. Naming your band is the hardest part when you start a new project, every band name is taken out of context and it sucks. So it’s totally fine. You can call your band whatever you want.

How the fuck are all of you so happy right now?

We’re just delusional, haha.  I think lyrically I wouldn’t necessarily say that our music is that positive. All of it has an undertone or a mystique of pessimism and self doubt, but I think because it’s kind of sugar coated immediately with poppy riffs. In that sense it doesn’t have as much of a hard hit as if we were still writing angsty hardcore music. 

How did you manage to record three EP’s without having played a single show?

It was the main thing that kept us all sane I think. If there was no creative output for us, and there was no abandon nothing to do, we’d all be in a completely different situation, we’d be kind of losing our minds, but the last year and a half, because there was nothing else to focus on, apart from writing music and recording music, we could just like, get our heads down and kind of still stay clear of all the noise and just focus on being creative.

Advertisements

What was it like performing at House Of Vans earlier this year?

I was really, really nervous. I think the rest I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, I’m pretty sure we were all shitting ourselves. Because I’ve always said like, I never really wanted to do a live session in any band I was in just because I know how bad most of them sound. But we’re really happy that the guys at Vans invited us down and we were stoked with the outcome. It was a great day. Everyone was super, super nice and supportive and we made some really good friends. Overall it was a great experience! I’m so glad we got to do it, even if it definitely felt like diving into the deep end.

All the songs are very short at the moment, what’s up with that?

I think we’re just really lazy. Nah I’m kidding! The only rule in this band is to have fun. If it feels right, do it and we never want to force anything into a song, If it’s not supposed to be there. If we write a song, and it’s a minute long, and it sounds great, it’ll be a minute longer if we write a song, and it’s 14 minutes long, and it sounds great. In the future some songs may be 14 minutes long as there’s no real rules, but at the moment we’re just hammering out, on average, two and a half minute tracks, and I think it keeps the listeners and me as well, because I’ve got such a short attention span. It kind of keeps me excited and engaged because anything after about three minutes, I kind of just switch the fuck off. I’d rather just listen to something short and sharp and then you face rather than kind of long doubt. And there’s those parts that I call that kind of give them everything they want and you’re trying to squeeze all of the energy into such a short space of time. I think it’s more important than loaning it out and, and boring people, especially with kind of music but yeah, the way I like catchy punky songs to be to be short, sharp and memorable.

I feel that, I love Self Defence Family but sometimes it feels like the songs just meander aimlessly. I also find it weird that Drug Church end up touring with so many tumblr friendly pop punk bands but maybe that’s just me!

Yeah I still don’t know why, I’m sure that probably kills Patrick (Kindlon) a little bit inside…

Tell me about Dog Daze? On my first listen I thought it was a more wholesome version of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by Iggy and The Stooges.

I was walking my dog one day and had the chorus/melody stuck in my head and was convinced that someone else wrote it. As soon as I got home I tried searching for it and luckily as far as I’m aware it was something original my brain made! That’s actually one of my biggest fears, writing a song, putting it out and then being like, “Oh my god, that sounds just like that’s like I had no idea”. 

Initially I wrote it about loving someone the way you love an animal and how unconditional it is. You love them who they are and not like what they do or who they hang out with or whatever. Then after writing the lyrics I was like “No, this actually sounds like I want to be like some sort of submissive person in a dominatrix kind of relationship”. I sent it to the guys and half of them were like, “Oh, this is really good”. And the other half were like “You’re fucking sick”.

So yeah, it’s been the funnest song to write, even the way we recorded it. In the last session, we put bongos in there and other percussion pieces. It was definitely fun to just mess around even the way the rhythm flows and stuff is completely different to what we’ve done. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I really, really like it.

What’s the deal with this third EP? You’ve released Sniffin Glue from it so far…

So it’s one of four tracks we recorded with Sam Bloor at Lower Lane Studios in Stoke On Trent last summer. We just decided “Fuck it, we’ll just go out there and record some songs again and see what happens”. So we just took a bunch of ideas and ran it off with my friend. We see him as like a sixth member of the band, we’ll run everything by him and he’ll be like, “This is shit, this is good”. He really kicks our butts into gear and makes us better musicians. So I can’t see us recording with anyone else right now. I can’t stress this enough like, he’s THE dude.

Has there been any clashes of opinions over songs so far?

I like to think we’re all on the same page. Really. It’s kind of again, the one where we have in the band is that if everyone’s enjoying it and it’s fun for everyone and it feels good for everyone, we’re going to do it. If it doesn’t feel good for one person. We’re not going to do it.  So it’s really important that we all need to be behind what we’re doing. Whether that’s like the bands we play with, or the music we record or the merchant puts out, like everyone needs to be 100% behind it. Otherwise, it’s just not what we want to do. 

Finally, what are you hoping to achieve out of these live shows?

I just want everyone to be included and just lose themselves for a minute and just forget about the bullshit that’s happening in their life. Just like a big just one big kind of A happy space where everyone can express themselves. We’re also happy to be playing shows with people we genuinely love. That dosen’t mean that support should be pigeonholed into bands that sound a bit like yours to fit a bill. One day we might have an acoustic opener or a rapper, who knows? I think there’s nothing worse than going and see one of your favourite bands and the support is just like a bad version of that headline.

Honestly, launching Out Of Love just before pandemic wasn’t ideal, so we’re happy to play anywhere. I couldn’t care less where it is or how many people are there. I just want to play shows now and we’re all really, really ready. Just try it out and see what happens I guess. Everyone is welcome no matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe in. Just don’t be a dick!

Sniffin Glue single is out now via Venn Records, listen here.

Advertisements

Ruby Fields has Been Doin’ It For A Bit

Photo by Cole Bennets

Ruby Fields has certainly been doing it for a while. Her first taste of viral fame came in 2018 after the release of her debut EP Your Dad’s Opinion for Dinner. Gaining attention from Australian Indie radio heavyweights Triple J, Fields then found acclaim amongst the ever expansive Australian independent scene which landed her support tours with the likes of Ball Park Music and San Cisco. And then in late 2018 she released “Dinosaurs”, the lead single from her second EP Permanent Hermit. The single reached #9 on the Triple J hottest 100 for that year and became ARIA Platinum certified. Everything seemed to be falling into place for Fields, landing slots at Laneway Festival and Splendour In The Grass in 2019, and 2020 was set to be more of the same.

Recording for her debut album as well as touring was brought to a halt at the start of 2020 for obvious reasons and Fields went on a forced hiatus. She then spent the time alone fleshing out the ideas she already had and found a new self confidence to create an album that focuses on toxicity in relationships, alcohol and drug abuse, and battles with mental health. The result is Been Doin’ It For A Bit, an album that takes Fields songwriting notoriety to the next level, being heartbreaking and heartwarming in the same moment. She still has a knack for bangers, through the likes of “Song About A Boy”, but there’s a level of maturity on this album that has been found through time. “If the reaper comes to claim me and all I’ve gone and done / Is write some shitty music and take some shitty drugs” she sings on “Clothes Line”, revelling in her success and wondering what it’s all for. But reversing that she’s now found reverence in the simplicities of life. “I woke up and you were in the kitchen / Talking with my mum and she was bitching / You couldn’t care less, you sat there unblinking / Those orange curtains sure bring out the blush in your cheeks” she recalls on “Kitchen”, revelling in the beauty of everyday situations.

Been Doin’ It For A Bit feels like a collection of diary entries from Fields, both the highs and lows of everyday life and under the spotlight, soundtracked by grungy guitars and melancholic moods. To find out more we asked Ruby a few question about the new album and her journey up to this point.

How long have you been doin’ it for?

If this was a reference to the album title, love it. In reality.. not too long. I’m 23 now.. I started busking when I was 13, playing in pubs since 14, and wrote the songs in our discography from when I was 16. So depends on where you think it counts, but officially I’ve been playing those songs as Ruby Fields in the band since I was 18. I’m not good at maths.

Over what time was this album written and recorded? 

The album was written over about 2 years and recorded a year and a half ago at the beginning of COVID in New Zealand and finished in Byron.

What is the main theme you’re exploring on the album? 

I think the theme to the songs is always whatever I’m going through at the time, I’ve always liked to imagine you could hear a bit of a journey of me growing up through the zones around Cronulla (where I was born) to moving out of home and entering my twenties. Maybe nostalgia?

Did the last year change the album at all? And do you feel you’ve changed over the last year as a person?

I reckon any musician changes from the conception of a song or album to the release.. I will say it feels like not much has changed during COVID but a year ago I was living south of Sydney in a big share house with my bandmates and now I live on a farm in the Northern Rivers where I’m building a little home studio.. so maybe my commitment has amped up a bit. The album itself hasn’t changed too much though I don’t reckon, it’s kind of given me the time to appreciate all the songs.

What allowed you to overcome your initial hesitancy on releasing “Song About A Boy”?

I wrote Song About A Boy when I was 20 and I probably just feel so far removed from the idea of the song by now that it didn’t bother me anymore, and I let myself feel really proud of the lyrics and the song that the boys and I created.

Who are some of the biggest influences your sound?

My earlier stuff was definitely influenced by Violent Soho and Goons of Doom, both of whom I adore, but more recently I’d say Phoebe Bridgers and Tegan & Sara.. I love their lyrics and the ways they build up their songs.

And what influences your songwriting? Is it diaristic or therapeutic? 

I’d say it’s both. I was talking to a mate about this the other night but I’d say a good percentage of music is written in times of sadness or distress, mine is anyway haha. I’ve definitely written when I’m feeling super happy or inspired too though. Most of it is directly about my experiences, I have a real hard time trying to tell a story.

On “Clothes Line” you ponder what you’d say to the grim reaper when he comes, is this something you think about a lot?

I actually found the first lyric of the chorus in “Clothes Line” in an old English book from school and structured the song around it when I was about 21. I must have been playing heaps of Sims at the time.

Have you been able to play any shows this year? If so how have you found getting back on stage? 

We were pretty fortunate to play a fair few shows during COVID, with restrictions of course, which was odd. Our shows have always been a bit loose and without the option to have a dance floor or mosh I think it pushed me over time to try and create a better atmosphere and pick up my weight as a performer.

Your band seems very tight in terms of sound and as people, where did you all meet and what do they bring to your music? 

They’re my favourite people in the world. I met Pat (drummer) in high school, he was band captain and a really good skater I remember, and when I saw him years later at my work at a bar I asked if he’d be keen to demo some drums and then just straight up asked if he wanted to join the band. I met Adam (guitarist) when I was about 15, he was in another band in the Shire that I loved and we had some coffees and did some demos and eventually started working, writing and living together. Tas (bassist), I met last when I was about 16 through a mate at a party and we instantly got along and lived together a while later and when he said he was keen to quit his job I asked if he’d join as well. I really believe we were always meant to be in a band together and I’ve never found a bunch of more forward thinking, kind, hilarious and creative people. They saved my life and bring so much to the music, from recordings to performances to deep chats about life to laughing into early hours of the morning.

What has been the biggest achievement of your career so far? And what is something you hope to achieve? 

I think I should say our Splendour in the Grass performance in 2019. It was our biggest crowd to date and full of friends and we were all on cloud nine. Really though, it might sound clacky but I think my biggest achievement is having a group of people around me where we all believe in each other and love working together. The boys and I obviously, but also every other person that contributes. That’s the whole point, to me.

If anything, what would you change about the music industry? 

There’s levels of competitiveness in every industry but I think in music we’ve all been pretty fuckin’ good at banding together as a community especially lately in terms of the Me Too movement, through climate disasters, COVID etc. We’ll always need more representation for female-identifying and indigenous artists, which is a slow progress but something that’s shifted positively in the last few years.. which shouldn’t lead to complacency but more inspired change.

Been Doin’ It For A Bit is out September 24th, pre-order here.

Advertisements

A Deep Dive With Swim School

Photo by Rory Barnes

Swim School are one of those bands you wish you knew about sooner, but as soon as you hear them you’re hooked. Consisting of Alice Johnson on vocals and guitar, Billy McMahon on drums, Lewis Bunting on guitar and Matt Mitchell on bass, the band are as fresh in formation as they are to listen to with McMahon only joining this year.

Through all the comparisons to the biggest names in indie, there’s still a certain vibrancy that separates the Edinburgh-based 4 piece from their peers. Their songs not only encapsulate the spirit of the indie anthem in every aspect but burst with enough raw emotion that you feel like crying and dancing at the same time. Speaking on topics of mental wellbeing and heartbreak, Swim School look to excite with their festival worthy grooves and choruses whilst continuing the conversation on self preservation. We asked the bands a few questions to get to know the people behind the music.

Where did the band form / where did you all meet?

Myself (Lewis) and Matt went to high school together, Matt being a year older than me. We met through our hometown music project, we were both in rival bands at this point. Years later we found ourselves working together in a hospitality job where we both realised we both had very similar music tastes so we started our first band together which ended a year or so afterwards. 

Myself and Alice were both in the same college class, we both started talking about bands we liked and got on really well, so we agreed to start a band together with Matt. The three of us always loved going to gigs, whether we were watching a local band or a big one it didn’t matter and it was going to gigs that we met Billy through his previous band. We needed a drummer around July last year and Billy was the first person we asked on ‘session’ terms but we always knew he was going to be our full time drummer.

How long have each of you been playing music? 

We’ve all been playing music from a super young age! We were all lucky to have found the passion for our instruments from our young teens and have been playing ever since.

Is there a story behind the name ‘Swim School’?

There is honestly no real story behind the name swim school, we just liked the sound of it.

Who are the biggest influences for your sound?

We love bands that are constantly trying to evolve their sound and try new things. Anyone who has read interviews with us before will know that we are huge fans of bands like Foals, Wolf Alice & The 1975. We feel these bands are great examples of acts who never want to write the same song – that’s something we really aspire to!

Where do you draw influence from for your lyrics? Are they diaristic or therapeutic in any way?

Everyday situations and experiences are what influences my lyrics. I find it easier and more real when I’m writing or singing about something that has actually happened. Expressing how you feel through music is extremely therapeutic, and when you see that other people are connecting to the lyrics you wrote, it’s such an amazing feeling. All of the tracks on the E.P. are based on mental health and the struggles. The reason for that is because it was a tough year mentally for everyone but also the subject surrounding mental health was talked about more than ever.

What’s the main theme / story you were trying to explore / tell on the upcoming EP?

Our debut EP ‘making sense of it all’ lyrically, really focuses in on mental health. It covers everything from opening up to people, helping people suffering from mental health to removing toxic people – it’s all in there! 

What is the importance of talking about mental health within your songs? 
We just hope it helps someone in any way shape or form.

What’s it like to get back onto these stages again and play for an audience? 

It’s honestly the most incredible feeling, we just played Latitude Festival a few weeks back and we were totally blown away with the response the crowd gave us, we just can’t wait to get back out there and play again! 

What’s the biggest thing you’ve missed about gigs? 

We’ve obviously missed playing to an audience, I’m sure every band will say that but I think for us we’ve just missed hanging out with other bands and chatting music with them, Latitude was amazing for meeting other bands so we’re looking forward to meeting new people. It’s honestly been so amazing watching other bands play live again too, it’s all very exciting!

What’s the best gig you’ve played so far? 

So far we’ve only played one show which was Latitude, we actually played two sets that weekend, one on Friday and one on Saturday – I don’t want to pick which one was the best because they were all absolutely incredible. 

If you could change anything about the music industry what would it be and why?

I’m sure like many other artists we’d love to see more females on festival lineups, before lockdown it was made very clear that people weren’t happy with the lack of female acts on certain festival lineups – I’m sure we’ve all seen the edits with all the names taken off the lineup apart from female acts and it was actually really disturbing. I’d like to think that with a year of no festivals and gigs it’s made promoters think about who they’re booking and that they should be seeking a good gender balance because there is a LOT of amazing talent out there and we all need to be given a chance to play a festival regardless of gender or slots. 

Making Sense Of It All EP is out now, purchase here.

Our Walking Talking Marathon with Drug store Romeos

The London via Fleet hypnagogic three piece sit down with us to talk about where they came from, their debut album The World Within Our Bedrooms and their love of Beach House.

Apologies if you’ve been asked this question over and over again but given that I’m also from a small town in the middle of nowhere, tell me about your experiences growing up in that environment?

It was an isolating place. Before I met Johnny and Charlie, I didn’t really know many people in my town at all.  So I was spending a lot of time in my bedroom, making a more vivid and exciting world and more life that felt more like I fit within my own company. Meeting these guys as well, we found out we lived like 5-10 minutes away from each other. So it kind of became this triangular life of like, I’m here, Jonny’s there, Charlie’s there, just kind of going like this back and forth. We all just felt like we didn’t belong in Fleet at all, using music as an escapism and trying to make a world where we all felt comfortable. It just wasn’t too much of an inspiring place to grow up in and kind of having to find that motivation within ourselves I guess. 

What sort of reactions did you get from audiences when you initially played on mixed bills across London?

We’ve had quite a variety of different responses over the years. You can get variation from that from a singular crowd specifically to see us as well. People have been honest and said it’s not for them but others who’ve been surprised and gotten into what we do which comes with the nature of being on a mixed bill. We’ve also had people give us feedback, shouting stuff like “MORE CHORUS” at Charlie. We get a lot of comparisons to acts like The Cranberries and specifically the Twin Peaks TV show soundtrack. We don’t get that as much anymore as I feel like we’ve evolved the sound. But we’ve rarely ever played with many bands that we share super common interests with. We did however play with a band called The Goon Sax where more things alined together. The funny thing is, we kept in contact with them and they’re now moving to London, we even ended up releasing our albums on the same day! 

Oh, awesome!

I think even though we ended up playing with more punk bands and aggressive shit there’s a crossover in interest when it comes to post-punk and slowcore where we fitted in more easily. A lot of people that were going to see the heavier bands definitely were already accustomed.

The track that stuck out for me the most was “Walking Talking Marathon”, where did the inspiration for that song come from?

That song was written over lockdown in about four minutes, it was all improvised. I had been watching this mockcumentary by a man called Peter Greenway called The Falls where he goes through a list of all these peoples names, the last which begins with F A L L, they’ve all been a victim of this thing called the VUE, which has made them have all these strange tendencies. They become obsessed with birds, have an extra sense of smell and start talking in weird colloquial languages. So I was watching that and all these words started popping out to me. I like to try and reduce as much friction between me and the melody and the song as I can. And if I have these words in front of me, my mind tends to pick them up and buttons of association and there’s associations in my head normally come from things that have been going on in my life and are a way of expressing yourself in a very abstract way. I had my Korg machine going and essentially not much of it changed apart from in post production where a few harmonies were added in later. I altered like one or two words but that’s about it. I was listening to a lot of Algebra Suicide at the time and wanted something more playful on the album really.

So would you say that the lyrics are mostly autobiographical? Or do they sort of exist in their own medium.

There are moments in there which are definitely about me. Maybe the bit about the clouds and losing contact with the party friends. And then you have, like a bit about falling in love and, and you know, “Let’s be a collective now”. And then going on to walking and talking marathon, which is kind of, to me, it’s kind of like having someone falling in love, having that beautiful back and forth. Because the sound kind of goes back and forth a little bit, and kind of meanders around those words.

There’s a few songs that incorporate stop-start elements in the structure, what was the thought process behind including those?

It’s interesting that seems to be something that some people pick up on, because I don’t think we ever really thought about that at all. It’s just like, you know, when you write a different song, I guess the process of songwriting, you write sort of sections of songs, and then you end up just combining different sections. It’s not just because we think, oh, we might combine this section, this section and there be different tempos and then, yeah, that’s quite boring. It’s true. It’s an honest answer. Like, when we were recording I didn’t even notice it that much really. 

It’s one of the more interesting ways to write dream pop for sure, it reminded me a lot of Black Country, New Road minus the sheer abrasiveness and confusion. 

I just saw it being mentioned in reviews quite a lot and, like “Secret Plan”, I guess. We thought a lot about the flow.  So trying to view songs in a rhythmic dance the way I suppose. If you’re dancing through a song, it’s nice for the tempo to increase a bit and stuff and go around. Like in “What’s on your Mind?”, the end part where  it does speed up a lot, we didn’t have that part until we got to the studio, we had everything else. And then it was the second song we were recording.

Do you take advantage of that in live scenarios?

I think we want to experiment a bit more with that, actually, we want to, I guess we’ve been thinking about it for a while of having our songs flowing more into each other live. It’s like turning the lights on sonically. The Orielles are a great example of a band who do that well, we’re always thinking of ways to present our recorded music differently live to bring about unique experiences. 

How did you all get introduced to the genre of dream pop? These days it’s a lot more understood in the mainstream but 10 years ago I feel like Beach House were still fairly niche. 

I felt totally in love with this girl when I was 15. And we would talk quite a lot, she recommend this album called Depression Cherry by Beach House. And then a week later, I was going to Brighton with my parents and we went to a record store and I saw it there. And I was like, “Oh, maybe if I listen to her, she’ll fall in love with me as well”. I listened to it. I really loved it. She didn’t fall in love with me. And then we stop seeing each other. That’s the story really!

Yeah I think people need to get over this worry of not seeming cool for getting into a genre through a big artist.

It’s a shame when people do that, they just want to be like “Ooh I listen to music that no one else knows about” and when they suddenly get big they deny ever liking them in the first place. 

Pre COVID, what was the biggest show that you played?

We supported The Orielles at Manchester O2 Ritz in February 2020. That feels like a complete lifetime ago now! 

Were the socially distanced shows weird for you?

Yes, I think we were all terrified. The whole time I was like “If I leave the venue now is it all over”? This was the first time we’d also played for over an hour, normally it’s like 35 minutes or whatever but yeah I was scared the whole time and never really had a chance to calm down. But I know it will get easier over time and to be honest I feel like when people watch us they don’t really know what to do with themselves standing, so a seated audience actually worked a lot better in our favour. At the same time though you can’t really feel the energy of the audience in the same way, it’s a lot more dispersed so I think we ended up feeling a lot more lonely on stage if that makes sense? 

What are your plans for the rest of the year? 

I think just more gigging and recording really, there’s plenty of people that we want to see and it’s nice to have a human interaction in regards to people enjoying what we’ve made! Every time we rehearse we always stop what we’re doing to make sure someone at least has a phone recording for next time. 

The World Within Our Bedrooms is out now, purchase here.