FRAMATICS

Framatics band photo

FRAMATICS (from l-r): Liam Banga (bass), Madeleine “Mads” Todd (vocals), Adam Strain (drums), Zach Stone (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From London, Framatics are an emerging four-piece that mix together raw guitar riffs, thumping beats, and comprehensive synths to create an intense alternative rock sound.

The band’s latest single, ‘Look In Your Eye‘, came out to a positive response, with promoters This Feeling declaring it the “Track Of The Day” on their website, and with all live music venues having been closed since the UK went into lockdown back in March, the collective have been keeping themselves occupied by doing such things as regularly performing on social media.

To talk about all of this, and more, with me, was the quartet’s vocalist, Mads Todd.

How did the band initially form?

Liam, Zach, and Adam had been in a band called Concrete Caverns together until partway through 2018, when they started to look at doing something new. I found them online, and contacted them – we first met in a Wetherspoons near Tottenham Court Road, then soon after started jamming and writing together, and the rest is history!

How did the name Framatics come about?

We wanted a name that sounded punchy and loud, to match our music. At one point, the name Fra Mauro came up, which is actually the name of a crater on the Moon…We thought it was okay, but not quite punchy enough, so we cut it up a bit, and came up with Framatics.

When we later found out that “framatic” was defined as “fucking dramatic” on Urban Dictionary, we decided the name fitted us well, and it stuck.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

One of the best things about the band is that we all draw from different musical influences!

From a production angle, I know that Liam is influenced by Bombay Bicycle Club and Ben Howard, and he’s been digging Phoebe Bridgers‘ newest album. Zach is a big fan of Jimmy Page, Tom Morello, and The Edge, for their fat sounds and experimental tones. For me personally, my biggest musical influences when it comes to vocal style and melody writing are Debbie Harry (Blondie), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Regina Spektor, and Michael Stipe (REM).

On the more general scale, some of my favourite bands are Queens Of The Stone Age, Yo La Tengo, and Hatari.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Generally, someone will have an idea based around their respective instrument. So, Liam and Zach might come up with a riff or bassline, Adam might come up with a beat, I might come up with a vocal hook, then we will bring our idea to the group, and each of us will add our respective parts to it until it resembles something more like a song – we’ll keep developing it and jamming it together as a band until we’re happy with the general structure and style.

We like to demo all of our songs once this is done, so that we can think about the overall sound and levels, and to add any effects that we might want to use on the SPD during live performances. Once it’s ready, we’ll whap it into the live set, and see how it goes down!

What inspires the band lyrically?

I write the majority of the lyrics, but the guys will always tell me if the lyrics are total crap, which is a big help.

The vast majority of the time, I’m trying to write a mini-story to go along with the song. I like to imagine characters involved in some sort of drama, which the song is describing. It’s one of the reasons I like Regina Spektor so much – each song is like a story in and of itself with a whole world and cast of characters.

I try as much as possible to give the lyrics a narrative in the same way, if not quite as whimsically as Spektor. The subject matter is usually inspired by politics or human relationships – anything that interests me, and can inspire a narrative for the song.

So far, you have brought out two singles – last year’s debut ‘I Think You’re Funny’, and the recent ‘Look In Your Eye’. How was the recording process for them?

We recorded both songs in Liam‘s back garden! He has a handy little space where we can record and then mix our music, so we spent a whole bunch of time in there trying to get them as close to perfect as possible. The drums we recorded separately, live in a studio.

We like producing the singles ourselves, because it gives us the freedom to choose exactly how the song sounds, and creates our own sonic identity. It’s been a learning curve, but we’ve enjoyed it a lot!

And how have the responses been to the tracks up to now?

Really positive! It’s a great feeling to see people in a crowd singing along to your song, even if it’s just one or two folk. We’re dead excited to keep releasing new tracks, and see where it takes us – we’ve got a few bangers up our sleeves.

The band have performed live at venues across London, and have headlined places such as The Old Blue Last. How was the experience of playing there?

Our gig at The Old Blue Last was absolutely mental – one of the most fun gigs we’ve had. It’s a great venue right in the centre of Shoreditch, and everyone was raring to go, it really hyped us up. Of course, it was a big help that our pals in The Vignettes, Lucid Hound, and Yung KP put in absolutely mega performances, which meant for a great night.

How is it overall performing on stage?

Performing live is crucial for us. We love recording and producing our songs, but there’s nothing like the thrill of getting on stage and going wild for a while. When we’re gigging, it’s almost like I become a different person who doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks – I feel totally at liberty to dance crazy, sing loudly, and pull wild faces. I’m sure the guys feel the same way.

In the end, though, our live performances are all about energy – we want to have fun, and we want the audience to have fun, too.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you all?

It’s been a mixed bag. On the one hand, we’ve missed out on a bunch of gigs and festival slots this year, which is a bit sad, but hopefully, we’ll be able to reschedule for next year, and be bigger, better, and even more prepared.

On the other hand, we’ve had the chance to put out more online content, and have recorded and released two Quarantine Covers, which you can find on our Facebook and Instagram!

We’ve had such a positive response, and we’re dead excited to do some more while we’re still stuck at home. You’ve got to adapt to the situation, really, otherwise it’s easy to get miserable about the things you’re missing out on.

How will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry?

This is a tricky one – on the one hand, the live performance industry, in general, is going to take a huge hit because of restrictions and cancellations. What that will actually mean for bands, I don’t know, but it could make finding performance spaces harder, but on the flip side, people are going to be so hyped to get out and see a gig with their mates once this is over, so I fully believe that all of the gig-goers out there will refuse to let live performances die.

As for the recorded music side of things, I think we’ve all been so grateful to have access to things like Spotify, YouTube and such, where we can listen to our favourite music to stay entertained during lockdown.

The importance of music, art, and culture to our lives has been majorly highlighted, because it’s what we turn to get through hardship. There’s no way we’ll allow it to fail as a result of COVID-19.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

Once this has all blown over, we’re going to jump right back on the gigging scene and bring as much live music to you as possible. We’ve got a couple of new singles that are just about ready to be recorded and released, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

Framatics Single Cover

‘LOOK IN YOUR EYE’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM FRAMATICS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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EMMA KELLY

Emma Kelly photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having gotten into music at a young age whilst at stage school, Emma Kelly decided, at the age of 16, to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter.

After graduating from the esteemed Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Surrey, Emma has spent much of her time crafting and perfecting an indie-pop sound that is distinct and empowering, along with thought-provoking lyrics, and a strong vocal delivery.

With ‘Drunk‘ – the latest in a string of well-received single releases – having recently been unveiled, Emma spoke to me about such things as that, her musical influences, songwriting approach, and hopes for what is currently an uncertain future for many.

What would you say was your earliest musical memory?

My earliest memory would be probably be whilst I was at Stagecoach, it was our end-of-term show, and we were doing ‘Oliver!‘, I think I was around six years old.

Our singing teacher was running through the song we were going to be doing, I already knew the song, so I was quietly singing along, but he heard me and asked me if I wanted to sing the solo, I said I would only do it with my friend, but he said I had to do it by myself. I ended up doing the solo for the slow, loved every second, and from then, I’ve always known I’ve wanted to sing.

Was there a specific moment in your life when you decided to pursue a career as a musician?

I think from that story I just told, I knew I even though I was very young I wanted to be in the entertainment industry I had other interests, but music was what I truly loved.

What are your main musical influences?

Queen are my biggest inspiration, by far. I also listened to Lily Allen a lot as a child, and I think I found her cool because of the way each song was like a life story. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love such a vast variety of artists from different genres.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It differs a lot of the time. Sometimes, I do like to just sit and write lyrics which occasionally turn into a song, but sometimes it’s just to get my thoughts onto paper.

A lot of the time, I’ll go into a writing session, and with a producer, we’ll just jam ideas around until we get an idea that we think sticks.

What inspires you lyrically?

Honestly, anything around me. I take inspiration from both of my own experiences, stories my friends tell me, and then people watching and making up my own story.

Last year, you brought out ‘Running Wild’, your debut single, to an overwhelmingly positive response. Was that something you were expecting, considering that it was your first release?

To be honest, I obviously loved the song, and I knew it was good, as I think if you don’t think that about your own music, then what is the point of putting it out there, but obviously you never know how well it will go down with other people, so it was so amazing to see such a good response to it, especially with it being my first song out into the world.

Recently, you unveiled a new track, ‘Drunk’. How was the recording process for that?

The process was really relaxed and easy. I went into the session, we just chatted for a little bit, and then the song came about super quickly, in about a couple of hours. The song was basically finished in one session, I only had to go back and re-record the vocals, so they were perfect.

And how has the reaction been to the single so far?

It’s been so good!! I’ve had a lot of radio play, which is a first for me, so it’s exciting that someone could be driving in their car, hearing my voice.

Just prior to lockdown, you headlined the O2 Academy Islington, which must have been quite an experience for you.

That was so surreal. I’ve been gigging for a while, but to headline, and also at such a cool venue, was so exciting. It was nerve-wracking, but I have such a talented band that play with me, I always feel at ease once we start playing.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you?

It’s been hard, but I’ve learnt to adapt to what we still can do. Zoom has definitely been a life-saver, as I can still do writing sessions/have meetings. It’s obviously hard, though, in the aspect of live shows, I did do a couple of live streams, but they did feel weird, as I didn’t have the boys to play alongside me.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the UK music industry in the long-term?

I do think the music industry is going to suffer for a while, which is such a shame, because, in my opinion, music brings happiness to everyone.

Obviously, as artists, we can still put new music out there, but there is such a euphoric feeling that comes from playing live shows, as you’re providing an escape for both audience members and yourself, and I can’t see big artists being able to play massive shows for a while.

Maybe us new artists will get to be able to play small shows in the near future, but it’s still such an unknown as to when that will be.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

For now, more music, filming videos as well as I can myself, which is interesting, and hopefully, I can get back to playing live music again.

Emma Kelly Single Cover

‘DRUNK’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM EMMA KELLY – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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LIAR, LIAR

Liar, Liar band photo

LIAR, LIAR (from l-r): Thom Parry, Ben Parry, Darcy WillisonChris Francis

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Describing themselves as “four twenty-somethings just trying to figure it all out“, Liar, Liar are an emerging indie/synth-pop collective with the aim of producing diversely-influenced music that can make listeners feel a whole range of emotions.

Having just brought out a new single, ‘Young‘, which follows on from previous tracks, ‘Take It Easy‘, ‘Bad For Each Other‘, and ‘Better Off‘, all released to overwhelmingly positive responses, as well as recently performing a live streaming session to raise money for War Child‘s coronavirus crisis appeal, the band’s vocalist, Darcy Willison, chatted to me, and the following is what she had to say:

How did the band first get together?

So Thom and Ben are twin brothers, so that part is straightforward, and then Chris has been a friend of theirs for years. I came into the band after Ben heard me singing to myself on a short film we were doing together. We recorded a couple of demos, and then, about a month later, ‘Better Off‘ was created…

How did the name Liar, Liar come about?

Sadly, there isn’t really anything exciting behind this other than the fact Thom liked the idea of two words that looked and sounded good. I think, subconsciously, the repetition must have something to do with him being a twin, right?

What are the band’s main musical influences?

I think, as a band, our major influences would be Pvris, Billie Eilish, and Francis and The Lights. Individually, we all have quite varying musical tastes, and we’ve all had a different musical upbringing, so that also brings some influence too, and it helps us not to just fall into patterns.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

So Thom does most of our songwriting, and I think the best way to describe his approach, would be that he writes how he experiences the world. It’s very honest and personal.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I guess similar to what I said above, it’s all about communicating an experience. I don’t think we really try and mimic or copy any particular style or genre. It’s just felt experience.

You have just unveiled a new single, ‘Young’. How was the recording process been for that?

So ‘Young‘ had been ready to go for a while. It was a finished product once I came to put vocals on it late last year, and it was a rapid turnaround. We recorded it at the same time as ‘Better Off‘, and it was pretty intense.

It’s vocally a little out of my comfort zone, so it was great to do something new, and the finished sound is something I think we’re all ready proud of.

And how does the new track differ stylistically to the band’s previous releases?

There is something very conflicting about ‘Young‘. It’s got elements that feel hopeful and carefree, but also parts that feel almost sinister. ‘Better Off‘ has something really empowering about it, that moment where you take back control. ‘Young‘ is the opposite, as it’s about that moment where you begin to lose it.

You have performed live at venues across much of the UK, including the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden, and The Flapper in Birmingham. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?

I mean I can’t speak for the others, but for me, it’s a mix of total euphoria and crippling nausea…up until the first note of the first song. After that, it’s just euphoria.

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected the band?

Well, we don’t live together, so we haven’t been able to jam, or gig, or record, but we’ve been doing covers, and having meetings, all electronically.

There are things we’re able to do to move forward towards the next single, and we shot a socially distant music video, so it’s been bad, but also good, in some ways, too. We’ve had to think outside the box, which is always a good thing.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the British music industry in the long term?

Who knows? I think it’s made us all more appreciative of live music, and what that experience offers. I think it will have an effect on what music people put out and work towards connecting people, rather than creating barriers.

From where I’m sitting, it seems that people are willing to help each other more than usual, and long may it continue.

And lastly, now that the single has come out, what are the band’s future plans?

Just to keep making and playing. That’s all we want. Just to keep doing this, and keep moving forward, whatever that is. We are so grateful that even one person likes and listens to our stuff, so if that keeps growing, that’s all we can ask for.

Liar, Liar Single Cover

‘YOUNG’ – THE LATEST TRACK FROM LIAR, LIAR – IS AVAILABLE NOW, WHICH YOU CAN LISTEN TO ON THE LATEST MUZAK REVIEW PLAYLIST, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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A HIGHER DEMISE

A Higher Demise band photo

A HIGHER DEMISE (from l-r): Joe O’Neill (guitar), Dan Pape (guitar/vocals), Mikey Lingfield (vocals), James “Dag” Farrell (drums), Rachael Tarr (bass/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Specialising in a heavy, driven, and energetic metal sound – influenced by the likes of Atreyu, Architects, and While She SleepsLondon five-piece A Higher Demise have impressed crowds and listeners across the UK these past few years, and this looks set to continue, what with the positive responses to their recent string of single releases – the latest being ‘Reconcile‘.

The quintet’s guitarist/vocalist, Dan Pape, spoke to me about all of this, how the global coronavirus pandemic has affected himself and his bandmates, the collective’s hopes for the future, and more.

How did the band initially form?

The band formed in 2011, when a few of our previous bands called it a day, and myself, James, Terry, and Charlie decided to create a band together. Charlie and Terry have since left the band, with Mikey and Rachael coming in.

How did the name A Higher Demise come about?

Originally, the band was going to be called Death Of Kings, but as we started to write music, it became obvious that the name projected an image of us being heavier than we were. James went away, and he came back to the rest of us with the name A Higher Demise, with the logic that the “King” is the highest power, and his “Death” would be his demise.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Normally, it would start with myself writing super rough riffs or song ideas, and sending it round to the rest of the band, with them adding in changes. Normally, they turn out very different to how they start out, which is great. Rachael has been known to dabble in writing full tracks, and when she does, they are amazing.

What inspires the band lyrically?

For previous tracks, we have drawn from personal experiences, and opened them up to be a broader, more relatable meaning. Giving the listener a way to connect to the song if they have been through these situations themselves.

Over the last few months, you have brought out a string of single releases, the most recent being ‘Reconcile’. How was the recording process for those?

The last six releases (‘Highpoint‘, ‘Angels & Demons‘, ‘Renegade‘, ‘Saviour‘, ‘Succubus‘, and ‘Reconcile‘) were all part of the same recording session we did in October 2018 with Oz Craggs at Hidden Track Studios. It was the first recording without Terry and Charlie, and our first with Mikey.

And how do the tracks differ stylistically to the two EPs the band had unveiled previously?

The main difference is that all of the latest tracks have been written musically by myself, as I took over the main songwriting role after Terry‘s departure. Musically, the songs have become heavier, and a driven-down, more of a metal route rather than the previous metalcore.

Lyrically, Mikey had just joined, and was given free rein over them, so they were always going to be very different to Terry and Charlie‘s lyrics.

Also, how has the reaction been to the singles so far?

The reaction has been amazing. We can’t thank everyone enough for the amazing feedback.

You have performed live at venues across the UK, and have supported the likes of Immerse, Griever, and Ashestoangels. How were they as experiences?

We all love playing in different places across the UK, and we have always found that the further north you go, the better the shows are. We did a short UK run just before lockdown with Arkdown and Confessions Of A Traitor, and they were two amazing bands, and great people.

And how is it overall playing on stage?

There is no better feeling than playing on stage. From the first note to the final note, it is bliss, and so much fun.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the band?

I think it has affected us the same as it has affected everything else. We have had to put shows and tours on hold, we haven’t been able to get together and do any writing or rehearsing, and the worst part of it is that we are all best friends, and we haven’t been able to simply see each other and hang out.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the British music industry in the long-term?

It has been nothing short of a massacre. Local venues are closing, and the ones that are still holding out are only hanging by a thread. I am hoping that I have to eat my words, and when the lockdown is lifted, and it is safe to do so, people flood to venues and pack out crowds for everyone, whether it’s an open mic night or an all-day festival.

And lastly, what are the band’s future plans?

As soon as we can, get back on stage, get new music recorded, and get it out there.

A Higher Demise Single Cover

‘RECONCILE’ – THE LATEST TRACK FROM A HIGHER DEMISE – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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UNDERKING – ‘The Throne’

Underking Single Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

The Throne‘ – the latest track from British-American rock/metal two-piece Underking – follows on from their well-received debut offerings, ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ and ‘Amongst The Dead‘, which came out earlier this year.

With this single, the emerging collective have seemingly taken a more melodic rock approach, in comparison to the heavier metal that formed a big part of both albums, for example, the guitar riffs, basslines, and drum beats are still alluring, and delivered at a rapid pace, but the overall sonic tone seems lighter, with less grit.

However, this has to be a positive step for the duo, as the track acts as a gateway for music fans who love rock, but aren’t so keen on the metal genre, to go and check out the band’s darker-sounding work, with a real toe-tapping tune and layered, harmonic vocals that stick in your head for quite a while after the first listen.

Overall, ‘The Throne‘ sees Underking build on the solid foundations they laid down with the albums by making subtle changes to their sound, therefore, widening the catchment area of the two-piece’s fan base.

(4/5)

Underking band logo

AFTER READING THIS REVIEW, TAKE A LOOK AT OUR REVIEWS OF THE ‘GHOSTS OF THE PAST’ AND ‘AMONGST THE DEAD’ ALBUMS, AS WELL AS OUR INTERVIEW WITH UNDERKING.

 

 

 

LOC

LOC photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having been the drummer for Leeds collective Citrus Heights, LOC (the initials of musician Luke Oliver Chambers) decided, earlier this year, to work on some solo music.

This has resulted in two positively-received tracks – ‘Worthy‘, and the recent ‘Ecstasy‘ – which showcase an effective combination of indie and synth-pop.

LOC spoke to me, candidly, about that, his approaches to both songwriting and lyrics, influences, how he has been personally affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and more.

What would you say was your earliest musical memory?

I would say the earliest musical memory that stands out to me is when my brother and I brought our first acoustic guitar when we were kids…I didn’t have a clue how to play it, but I was excited to learn!

Was there a specific moment in your life when you decided to pursue a career as a musician?

Hmm…Probably once I got a recording set-up at home when I was at college. Once I realised how much passion I had for writing and recording music, it kind of clicked like “Wow, I would love to be able to do this all the time” sort of thing.

What are your main musical influences?

This changes all the time, but for the moment, it’s The Neighbourhood, The Japanese House, HONNE for their production style, and an artist I’m absolutely loving at the moment is BENEE! Such good vibes!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

So, as my strongest instrument is the drums, it’s definitely the instrument I understand most when it comes to its importance in a song, how much is “enough” for a song, and finding the right beat.

I usually start with a drum beat that fits the song idea I can hear in my head, and I kind of just build from there. I will always aim to try and get some hooks in the song from a vocal/lyrical perspective, and these create the foundation of the lyrics written around that. I never tend to have a specific thing I am wanting to write about, it’s more just what comes into my mind in the moment…

What inspires you lyrically?

I never write lyrics until the instrumental is well underway. I don’t have a clear-cut idea of where the lyrics will go at the beginning of writing a song. Once I come up with something that feels like a really strong lyric in the song, I basically come up with a story in my head around those lyrics, and try to tell the tale of that story.

Lyrics always tend to be an after-thought once the instrumental has taken place, it’s never lyrics first. I guess you could say the random stories I come up with around the hooks is the inspiration. Maybe I’ve just lost my mind.

So far, you have brought out two singles – ‘Worthy’, and the recent ‘Ecstasy’. How was the recording process for those?

It was mostly enjoyable for both; I had a couple of ups and downs, as I’m sure most songwriters experiences when they’re writing, but for the most part, it was pretty much plain sailing!

I guess when you’re writing, performing, and recording a song, it can get a little tricky sometimes. It really helps to bounce ideas off of other people, but I managed to struggle through with the odd bit of guidance from some trusted ears along the way…

And how have the responses been to the tracks, for you personally?

I’ve been extremely happy with the response for both, to be honest. I don’t tend to get bummed out by them not receiving stupid amounts of plays, as I know things take time. I’m just happy that I can write music, and put it out for the world to hear! I love hearing from people that they enjoy my music, though, as it’s so nice to see something you have created be loved by other people!

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you?

It’s been difficult…Living alone hasn’t been great, and I have struggled to write any new stuff, to be honest. I didn’t want to end up relying on writing music to pull me through just so I don’t potentially resent it by the end of lockdown, and things returning to “normal“. I’ll be ready to hit the ground running once things are back to normal, and I can finally debut my songs live!

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the British music industry in the long term?

The music industry has taken such a hit from this when it comes to live music and smaller artists. It’s okay for bigger artists who already have a fanbase and a platform to share music out to.

I have found it very difficult to build on my fanbase through this, as I guess people just aren’t listening to music as much as they would normally when commuting, etc.

I think it will be a long road back to normality for the live music scene, and I think venues and promoters will be filling venues with bigger artists to bring in some revenue first, before opening up the opportunities for smaller artists. Patience is a virtue!

And lastly, what are your future plans as a solo artist?

I have another song coming out in the next few months, which I am very excited to be releasing. I am most proud of this one from a production and a songwriting perspective, and I cannot wait for everyone to hear it.

I am also really looking forward to playing live for the first time, which, to me, is very exciting! In the meantime, I would say for people to keep an eye on my socials, as I have been doing the odd live stream gig for anyone who wants to hear my songs!

LOC Single Cover

‘ECSTASY’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM LOC – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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TONY GOFF & THE BROKEN COLOURS

Tony Goff & The Broken Colours band photo

TONY GOFF & THE BROKEN COLOURS (from l-r): Ashley Saunders (drums), Tony Goff (vocals/rhythm guitar), Connor Myers (lead guitar/vocals), Tom Paley (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘REARRANGE’ COVER ARTWORK by CONNOR MYERS & RYAN ALSFORD

Since forming just over seven years ago, Buckinghamshire four-piece Tony Goff & The Broken Colours have impressed critics and fans across the UK with a highly-energetic indie-rock sound, and an enthusiastic approach to live sets that leaves crowds wanting more.

With a new single, ‘Rearrange‘, coming out shortly, Tony and drummer Ashley Saunders spoke to me about how the upcoming track was put together, how it will differ stylistically to their previous offerings, as well as how the band have been coping during the coronavirus lockdown.

How did the band initially form?

TONY GOFF (vocals/rhythm guitar): The band originally formed in June 2013, after I won London‘s BeONTHESCENE Contest, and I required a band to perform with. The members have changed, and now the band features myself, Tom, Ashley, and Connor.

How did the name The Broken Colours come about?

TONY: The Broken Colours came about when Max, our first drummer, thought of the idea, jokingly comparing me with a black canvas they needed to colour in (laughs).

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

TONY: Songwriting has also been very personal to me, mainly coming from my own life experiences, so I can’t just flick a switch on, lyrics often come at the most random times and emotional moments.

What inspires the band lyrically?

TONY: I write all of the lyrics, inspired by my rollercoaster of a life.

On June 19, you will be bringing out a new single, ‘Rearrange’. How has the recording process been for that?

TONY: The track was recorded in January with Antonio Hannah at Free Fall Studios in London, mixed by Paul Frost, and mastered at Sonomax.

This was pre-pandemic, and I actually recorded it with a huge illness, and had to take huge precautions to be able to sing for the recording, but the tune itself wasn’t written about the virus, but the theme very much suits the mood, so to speak. REARRANGE! As I imagine we all are at the moment.

We were going to self-release this, but ended up signing a deal with award-winning label Bentley Records, based in New York City, and this track will be our first release with them.

We tend to record track-by-track, not live, so each member takes their turn to record their part. The brass section was recorded later, then added to the final mix. The bass was all down to Tom, Ashley did the drums, we went for the simple but effective route for this one, but with extreme precision.

Antonio, the producer, is excellent at recording drums, and tweaking them or the room to get the sound required. The drums will be played as normal, and then broken down, so certain parts can be emphasised. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it.

Connor tackled the lead guitar and backing vocals, and I recorded the rhythm guitar and main vocals, and wrote the lyrics.

And how will the upcoming track differ stylistically to the two well-received EPs the band have released so far?

TONY: That’s a good question. The track differs stylistically mainly because this is my first recording with Tom, Ashley, and Connor, and also personally I have grown as a musician, and my own tastes are changing. It still has the Tony Goff sound, but you can tell it’s evolving with the help from The Broken Colours.

ASHLEY SAUNDERS (drums): I guess it’s like we’re a whole new line-up, with different backgrounds, and bringing a new blues vibe.

You have toured across the UK, Denmark, and Italy, have played at the last few
Camden Rocks festivals, and have also supported the likes of The Feeling, Feeder, and Carl Barat. How were they all as experiences?

TONY: It’s been an incredible few years and experiences, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Touring Europe on a budget was incredible, and a memory we will never forget including when I got run over by my film crew (laughs).

Supporting the great acts you have mentioned has been amazing, and it has given us that chance to play in front of huge audiences, too. One memory I recall was chilling with The Ordinary Boys backstage, having a beer, and talking to Preston about his Celebrity Big Brother days (laughs).

Also, how is it overall – for the band – performing live?

TONY: Live has always been a huge part of what we do here at TGBC. We love it, and we hope it continues.

How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected you all?

TONY: In a number of ways. I had eight weeks at home with no work, which I didn’t enjoy, but it did give me time to work on more music, though, which was great. Tom, Ashley, and Connor all carried on with their day jobs. It’s been tough not seeing each other, but we’re all positive and look forward to the future of TGBC.

ASHLEY: I guess it’s the same for everyone. Thankfully, we’re still working, and the single is still going to be released, but we have missed a load of potential gigs that would have promoted it.

In your opinion, how will COVID-19 affect the British music industry?

TONY: I’m trying to be positive, but I think it will make it harder for DIY bands like ourselves, music venues, and everyone, really. The music industry will bounce back, though, as it’s an important part of people’s lives.

ASHLEY: It already has affected the music industry, and we can only hope it can bounce back. I reckon people will be desperate to launch events, though, so hopefully, it might get busy for us.

And lastly, what are the band’s plans once the current lockdown in the UK has been fully lifted?

TONY: We haven’t had our band meeting yet to discuss next year’s plans in full, but we will be touring the UK next spring. Also, we have another couple of releases on the way.

ASHLEY: We’re going to go nuts, playing our music to everyone.

Tony Goff & The Broken Colours Single Cover

‘REARRANGE’ – THE LATEST TRACK FROM TONY GOFF & THE BROKEN COLOURS – WILL BE RELEASED ON JUNE 19 VIA BENTLEY RECORDS, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE SINGLE AND THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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LUCKY IRIS

Lucky Iris band photo

LUCKY IRIS (from l-r): Maeve Florsheim, Jasper Exley

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Leeds two-piece Lucky Iris, comprising of former members of funk/soul collective Everyday People, recently unveiled their debut EP, ‘Turns Out We Should Have Stayed At Home‘, four tracks of diversely-influenced, intimate alternative pop based around a story of a night out that doesn’t go to plan.

With the release currently getting positive reviews, I chatted to Maeve Florsheim, one half of the talented duo, about that, their origins, lyrics, future plans, and more.

How did the band initially form?

Jasper and I have known each other for years, as we went to school together. We met through our school choir, actually, too cool, we know… Then Jasper went to Leeds University to study music, and I followed a year later to study there myself.

We ended up starting a funk/soul band together, but as things changed, we thought we would try going about just being the two of us. That decision was made towards the end of last summer, we started writing before Christmas, recorded the EP, and here we are now!

How did the name Lucky Iris come about?

I think a lot of people keep a selection of notes on “cool” band names, but as much as we tried to think up a name when it actually came to it, we were really struggling to find one that fitted with us, as a band without a concrete genre, so we decided that a band name that sounded a bit like a name may be more fitting.

From that, we put some words together, one being Lucky, and the other, Iris, who happens to be the goddess of rainbows, Jasper‘s favourite flower, and a cracking song.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Jasper and I write all of the songs together, and we feel it’s better this way, as it makes all of the music truly both of ours. However, Jasper does write next to all of the instrumentation and everything else, bar the lyrics, which I write.

For the EP, we first decided what we wanted to say, and the journey we wanted to take the listener on, what with it being a concept EP and all, and then worked from there.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I feel it’s the same with most bands, but I really do try my best to write from experience. It never truly feels like my own piece if I can’t resonate with it in some way, shape, or form. I think that’s what makes writing lyrics so difficult at times. You won’t always be in the mood to spill your guts on paper, or in song, for everyone to see and hear, but that’s just the beauty of it, I guess.

In April, you unveiled your debut EP, ‘Turns Out We Should Have Stayed At Home’. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process is really special, actually. We started it all around last October, with Oliver Sekunda, who produced the EP. We had recorded with him in our previous band, and we’re really glad to have continued on with him. He suggested one day that we take a trip to Poland for our recording, at a studio called Tall Pine Records, and that’s what we did!

It was a wonderful experience, and we got to fully immerse ourselves in our music, then we tied up a few loose ends once we got back to Leeds, and there you have it.

Also, for those who haven’t managed to listen to the release yet, how does it differ stylistically to what you did as part of Everyday People?

I think it differs immeasurably! Not only is the style far from what we were producing, but now, it is just Jasper and I writing and creating the music which means it is only our influence going into it. Jasper is definitely the one to bring the funk and soul influence to the band, I can very much credit him for getting me into that style of music, as well as jazz, of which he is a massive nerd (laughs).

However, I have always listened to pop music, not exclusively, but it has always been something I’ve been interested in. I think the lyrics for Lucky Iris are also far rawer on the most part, and more focused on my own experiences, with the music shaped more around this than it was previously.

How has the response been to the EP so far?

We have been blown away by the response so far! From airtime BBC Radio Leeds and the BBC Introducing West Yorkshire Track Of The Week, to Amazing Radio and Mix 96 (the station I would listen to every single day to school and back without fail), but also, the reviews and blog posts and shares on social media, which we love to see and read. To be able to hear how our music is received by others is really quite special, especially on such intimate tracks.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

It is truly heartbreaking to see what is happening all over the world right now, but we can’t ignore the fragility of the British live show system. It is those small venues, and those without the equipment or ability to self-record, which will be hit the hardest. The sooner this all ends, the more hope we have, but right now, we just have to wait, I guess, and assess the damage once this is all over.

And lastly, now that ‘Turns Out We Should Have Stayed At Home’ has come out, what are your future plans?

We just want to share more music with everyone! It would be a real blessing to get back in the studio, and on the road, but that sadly isn’t an option right now… But trust us, as soon as we can, we’ll be playing in every venue, pub, stadium, and street corner that will have us, so watch this space.

Lucky Iris EP Cover

‘TURNS OUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED AT HOME’ – THE DEBUT EP FROM LUCKY IRIS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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JOSH TAERK

Josh Taerk photo 2

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

By effectively combining reflective lyrics, poppy melodies, and unpretentious rock energy, Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk has crafted a sound that truly showcases his passion and enthusiasm for music, something that has not gone unnoticed by those in the industry, with some championing him as a contemporary Bruce Springsteen.

Having recently been collaborating with his brothers Ryan and Matt, both talented musicians in their own right, on a new track, as well as doing his bit to raise money for charities dealing with the current global coronavirus pandemic, Josh chatted to me, in-depth, about all of this and more.

What would you say was your earliest music memory?

Music was always a big part of how my family spent time together. My dad would come home from work, and he would put on The Beach Boys, Southside Johnny, or Bruce Springsteen, and my siblings and I would dance around our living room with my parents. Music always reminds me of those happy family moments together, and I think that’s why I love it so much.

Was there a specific moment when you decided that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician?

I was working at a summer camp, and a friend of mine was in charge of the staff talent show at the end of the season. He signed me up without telling me, and a couple of days before the show, I found out I was going to play. I had started writing some songs at this point, but had only really played for small groups of friends. I had never played a show or anything yet.

So, the talent show comes, I got up onstage, and sang ‘Hey There Delilah‘ by Plain White T’s. Hearing the way the crowd reacted, feeling that rush of being on stage, it was awesome, and I knew at that moment that I wanted to feel that over and over again.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

My songwriting approach is very organic. The writing process starts differently each time, but the thing that remains the same every time is that all of my stories are about life, and come from experiences I’ve had or experiences people very close to me have had.

Sometimes, it will start with a line, or hearing someone say something in a way that resonates with me, or I find interesting. Other times, it starts with a melody of a rhythm, and words come through that.

What inspires you lyrically?

Living life and experiencing the emotions that make life so interesting. It’s the love, loss, anxiety, passion that make us do the things we do, and make the most interesting stories. For me, it’s got to be rooted in something real.

Having already brought out two well-received albums – 2013’s ‘JOSH’ and 2015’s ‘Here’s To Change’ – in 2018, you unveiled your third album, ‘Beautiful Tragedy’. How was the recording process for that?

It was a great experience making ‘Beautiful Tragedy‘. We recorded the majority of the album at The Sound Emporium in Nashville, Tennessee, which is steps away from the Nashville office of Sun Records, and just being surrounded by that amazing history, musicianship, and some incredibly talented people, you can’t help but be inspired to make music.

This was also the first record I stepped into the co-producer role, and dug into arranging the music I was hearing in my head. Being that involved in the development process, both as a writer and producer, was an amazing feeling.

The album had overwhelmingly positive reviews, and has so far been streamed over 150,000 times on Spotify. How was the reaction to it, for you personally?

I felt like a proud dad. Every song that I write holds a special place in my heart, and I put so much of myself into everything I release. It was both exciting and humbling to see that kind of response to something that meant so much to me.

At the end of the day, I’m a huge fan of music, and I know how it feels when you hear a song that resonates with you. It means the world to me that people feel that way about the songs I write.

Your music has been praised by the likes of Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band) and John Oates (Hall & Oates), who have also worked with you on some of your releases. It must be a good feeling for you to have that kind of feedback from such highly-regarded musicians.

It’s an indescribable feeling when someone you look up to so highly gives you that nod, and/or that kind of positive feedback. I’ve learned so much from both John and Max, not just about music, but also how to be an amazing person. They are two of the best and generous mentors/people I’ve ever met, and I’m grateful for our relationships.

And last year, you became a member of the prestigious Grammy Recording Academy. How did that come about?

It’s something I’m still trying to warp my head around, to be honest. The Grammys are like Mount Olympus for a lot of musicians and songwriters. After ‘Beautiful Tragedy‘ broke into the top 40 on the Billboard Indicator Chart, my friend Amanda suggested I apply to The Recording Academy as a voting member, so I went through the application process, submitted it, and hoped for the best.

A couple of months later, I got word that I had been accepted, and I got to vote in my first ever Grammy Awards. I was beyond excited to be part of this immensely creative community, and contribute my voice to the process.

You have toured across much of North America and the UK, impressing fans and critics with passionate, highly-energetic live sets. What have been your personal highlights of touring and performing live?

Getting to connect with people through something we both love is the reason I play live. Music is phenomenal for bringing people together through shared experience, and that’s what live music is, a shared experience between the performers and the audience.

One of the most incredible things I’ve every experienced on tour was while I was opening for The Soldiers in 2012/13. I met this girl after our show in Skegness, and we were talking about my song, ‘Start Again‘. She then told me that she had always dreamed of being a singer, but was always nervous about pursuing that dream. I encouraged her to go for it, and told her, “Life is too short to do something you’re not passionate about“.

A year later, we came through Skegness again on tour, and after the show, her sister came over to me, and told me that, after our talk, she had signed up for a vocal performance course at uni. That exchange, and that outcome, mean more to me than I will ever be able to explain.

And how, for you, is the overall feeling you get when you are on stage?

It’s the greatest. On stage, I get to experience, first-hand, how my music is being received by the audience. I take the energy they are giving me, and put it right back into my show, which creates more energy, excitement, and fun in the audience. It’s a constant cycle and exchange of everyone contributing to everyone else’s experience.

Recently, yourself and your two siblings have got together to record a track, ‘Every Little Piece’, which has now been put up on YouTube, and which you will be entering the ‘Canadian Family’s Got Talent‘ contest with. What made you three decide to collaborate?

My siblings are some of my best friends, and Ryan, Matt, and I have been writing together for a couple of years now. They actually recorded harmony and background vocals on a number of my releases, and have joined me on stage a couple at times at shows, as well.

With the lockdown recently, the three of us have been doing a lot of fundraising concerts for groups like NHS Charities, Nordoff Robbins, and Canadian Red Cross, among others. We have that sibling telepathy thing going when we sing together, and the harmonies are just so awesome, so when we first heard about the contest, it was a no-brainer to do something together.

And at the moment, are you looking to do more music in the future within a group?

I love writing and creating, especially with people that I enjoy being around. Also, being in a group has been a really cool experience, because it’s a completely different experience than when I do the solo artist thing. I think doing more with Ryan and Matt would be a lot of fun, and I’m always looking for ways to expand my creativity.

In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the Canadian and American music industries?

I think that COVID-19 has changed the world, and, in some ways, for the better. I’ve seen so much more gratitude, random acts of kindness, and people offering to help others. I don’t know what the new normal is going to look like for the music industry or otherwise. I do believe that life is an adventure, and I feel that whatever the future looks like past this point will be something we’ll all figure out together.

And lastly, what would be your advice to any bands/artists that are currently just starting out?

Enjoy it. The conversation around the business can get negative at times, what with people telling others how difficult it is, especially during a time when the world is recovering from COVID-19, but I believe that if you believe in what you’re doing, and you love what you do, there is room in this business for everyone.

Josh Taerk Album Cover

‘BEAUTIFUL TRAGEDY’ – THE LATEST ALBUM FROM JOSH TAERK – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON JOSH CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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KILONOVA

Kilonova band photo

KILONOVA (from l-r): Joe Bambrick (bass), Ellen Hill (vocals), Jonny Sloan (guitar), Steve Rouse (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Kilonova are a four-piece that have impressed fans and critics alike across the UK with a robust thrash metal sound.

Last summer, the band unveiled a debut EP, ‘Omnicide‘, to positive reviews, most notably from Kerrang! magazine, who described the offering as “hair-windmilling, neck-snapping thrash nirvana“, and with its follow-up single release, ‘Immortal‘, having been out for a few weeks now, Jonny Sloan, the quartet’s guitarist, spoke to me about such things as that, playing at Bloodstock, going out on tour, future plans, and more.

How did the band initially form?

I’ve known Joe for years through the Newcastle University Rock Society. We never really hung out apart from the events they hosted. It was by chance we bumped into each other in a Newcastle nightclub, and ended up screaming along to Avenged Sevenfold together.

A jam soon followed, and once we put a few demos together, we advertised online, met Steve, and a little further down the line, Ellen. The first time the four of us were in a room together, we played ‘Straight To Hell‘, and it just clicked.

How did the name Kilonova come about?

A kilonova is when two neutron stars collide in an explosion so violent, it distorts space and time, it’s where a lot of the heavy elements in the universe come from. Joe read about a kilonova being detected when we first started jamming, and figured bit was appropriate for the raw heavy sound we were working towards.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Our approach changes purely based on what we have. I would say typically myself or Joe will present a riff or an idea, then we will jam with it, speed it up, slow it down, add to it, etc. With ‘Omnicide‘, this approach was different on ‘Own Enemy‘, which was written around a set of lyrics Ellen had brought in.

What inspires the band lyrically?

A lot of our lyrics are based around personal experiences. In the same way a picture can tell a thousand words, a song’s lyrics can tell a narrative on how someone feels. A lot of our lyrics are based on frustrating situations or moments when you feel lost.

Having unveiled a well-received debut EP, ‘Omnicide’, last year, in March, you brought out a new single, ‘Immortal’. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process was a lot of fun. Typically, I stress out about going into the studio, because I always freak out about how long I have to get the perfect take.

Recording at Tru Studios (in County Durham) was very chilled out, in the best kind of way. Everyone involved wanted the absolute best, regardless of how many takes it would potentially need. Luckily, we managed to wrap up the whole song in a day, and we’re very proud of what we achieved.

And for those who have yet to listen to the track, how does it differ stylistically to the EP?

Our sound is constantly evolving. With ‘Omnicide‘, portions of that EP were written before the four of us had even stepped into a room together. In the time since we recorded ‘Omnicide‘, we have grown closer as friends, and have become tighter as a writing unit. I feel ‘Immortal‘ takes our favourite aspects of ‘Omnicide‘, and elevates it one step further.

In 2018, the band played at the Bloodstock festival, after winning their local heat of Metal 2 The Masses. Performing there, not long after making your live debut, must have been an amazing experience.

It was mind-blowing. Bloodstock was only our sixth show as a band. Both Ellen and Steve had previous stage experience, but myself and Joe were completely new to this.

To go from a debut show to Bloodstock in just under three months was crazy, and looking back, the performance was good, but now we have a few tours under our belts, we’re primed to show the world what a Kilonova show is really like.

Also, you have played at venues across much of the UK, and supported the likes of Lost Society, A Ritual Spirit, and Sertraline. How is it – for you all – being on stage?

Playing with Lost Society was great, it’s always amazing being able to play shows you were already planning on attending as a fan. What blew our minds even further was that we found out afterwards that Jeff Waters of Annihilator had attended that show, and had seen us play, which I’m glad we found out afterwards, otherwise I would have just frozen!

Going out on tour with A Ritual Spirit, Ashen Reach, and Nocturne Wulf was some of the best fun I’ve had so far in the band. We had a fantastic set-up, which was each of the four bands headlining their home town with a revolving line-up.

I struggle to explain how great it was to watch them all play four nights in a row, and not only are they all great musicians, they’re now great friends of ours. We have all kept in contact every day since the tour ended, and hopefully, with a bit of luck, we can head out again soon.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

Everywhere you look in the media, at the moment, is doom and gloom, but I choose to look at the positives in this. I think the current situation is bringing out the best in the metal community, as people are standing up for the local venues, and are doing what they can to make a difference. Locally, Little Buildings and Trillians are absolutely integral to the North East music scene, and seeing both of them getting support is fantastic.

Even just seeing members of bands taking to Facebook, and providing bits of content like song playthroughs is great! Although we are physically separated, I honestly feel that the community is now stronger than ever.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

Well, as with the current “uncertainty“, we cannot lay down a timeline. However, we can reveal we are waist-deep in writing a new EP, which, fingers crossed, will be released this winter. We are already very proud and excited about what we have in store for everyone. ‘Omnicide‘ was a mission statement, this is a declaration of carnage.

Kilonova Single Cover

‘IMMORTAL’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM KILONOVA – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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