ROYAL TUSK

Royal Tusk band photo

ROYAL TUSK (from l-r): Calen Stuckel (drums), Quinn Cyrankiewicz (guitar), Dan Carriere (vocals), Sandy MacKinnon (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Armed with their own unique brand of heavy, no-frills rock n’ roll, along with brutally honest lyrical content, four-piece Royal Tusk have already gained a devoted legion of followers from both sides of the Atlantic, and the band’s stock has just kept on rising since the release of their positively-received second album, ‘Tusk II‘, last October.

With the quartet about to embark on a tour of the UK and continental Europe, supporting fellow Canadian rock collective Monster Truck, bassist Sandy MacKinnon told me about the journey he and his bandmates have been on to get to the point they’re at currently, and a host of other topics related to Royal Tusk.

How did the band initially form?

Myself and Dan have been playing in bands together for over 15 years, touring the world and writing music together. After our last band dissolved, it seemed to be a natural progression that we form a new one, focusing on music that was more to our taste.

We enlisted the musicianship of both Calen and Quinn, what with both of them being monsters on their respective instruments, and they also had the same goals, so it was a no-brainer, really.

How did the name Royal Tusk come about?

Well, the truth of the matter is, there is nothing royal about us at all! (laughs) The word “tusk” really kind of evokes the idea of being large, like larger than life, like a giant elephant with massive tusks, or a bad-ass warthog, who are sort of the kings of their lands.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It really depends on the song itself. Some come together so quickly with everyone in our rehearsal space, and ideas will come spilling out, but then there are others that can take what feels like an eternity to get fleshed out.

At the root of it all, it either starts with a banging guitar riff, or a vocal lyric that sounds way too good to not write a song around.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Every song on ‘Tusk II‘ (the band’s second album, released last October) had its own story or message. With so much going on in our world today – good and bad – itʼs hard for us to just stand on the sidelines and not say anything about it.

Look, we’re not trying to change the world, or tell people how to think, however, we want to speak our minds.

How was the recording process for ‘Tusk II’?

As opposed to other records weʼve made in the past, where we would take about a
month in a studio, spending every day working on it, we did this record in two different sessions, where we would do five songs each.

At the time I was hoping we could do it all in one, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we were able to take time between the sessions to review the songs we had just recorded, and also fine-tune the ones we were getting ready to put down.

And how was the reaction to that, in comparison to the band’s previous releases?

I think everyone – right off the bat – were able to notice that we got substantially heavier, and that the content was angrier as well. I think the reaction has been
very positive across the board, and I think maybe people were starved for a little no bullshit rock n’ roll.

The transition was easy for us, we just wrote music, and it happened to naturally veer towards a heavier sound, and the reaction at our shows has been amazing, with people banging their heads and screaming our words right back at us, itʼs been fucking magical!

You’re just about to embark on a tour of the UK and continental Europe supporting fellow Canadian rock collective Monster Truck. For those who are yet to see the band perform, what can they expect from your live sets?

Anyone who happens to be in the crowd at one of our shows, whether we are supporting or headlining, are going to witness a true blue collar rock n’ roll band.

We are going to leave it all up there, whether it’s to a packed house or a half-full club, and itʼs going to be a real bonafide rock n’ roll show, which is the least we can do for the people in the crowd who are making it possible for us to live our dream.

And this July, the band will be performing at the Rock USA festival in Wisconsin, which is being headlined by Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Disturbed. I can imagine that’s something you’re all looking forward to.

The moment we got the offer, and I saw that we were going to be playing on the same day as Mastodon, the little fanboy in me came out, and to be mentioned alongside those kinds of artists is just surreal.

And finally, you’ve achieved much these past couple of years. Honestly, did any of you expect all of that to happen when the band initially got together?

When Iʼm on stage and I look at all the other fellas there with me, Iʼm not that surprised, as we’re a group of hungry musicians that want it more than anyone.

We still have the same goals, and we want to achieve them writing good, honest rock n’ roll music, and like I said earlier, itʼs the people who send us messages online, listen to our music, come to our shows, who are making it possible for us to live our dream, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, you all fucking rule, and we’ll see you on the road!

Royal Tusk Album Cover

‘TUSK II’, THE SECOND ALBUM FROM ROYAL TUSK, IS AVAILABLE NOW VIA eONE.

THE BAND ARE ALSO JUST ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A TOUR OF UK & EUROPE, SUPPORTING MONSTER TRUCK, MORE DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

Royal Tusk tour poster

FURTHER INFO ON ROYAL TUSK CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

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CIELO DRIVE

Cielo Drive band photo

CIELO DRIVE (from l-r): Chris Phillips (drums), Scott Cox (vocals), Julien Morrez (guitar), Beau Stevens (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Formerly known as Scout KillersCielo Drive are a four-piece from Bath who specialise in a powerful, expressive, and atmospheric alternative rock sound, which has enabled them to truly make a mark on their local music scene.

However, the band now look set to expand their reach in the coming months, what with the release of a debut album, entitled ‘Ruins‘, followed by an extensive run of touring across the UK, and Scott Cox, the quartet’s frontman, was more than happy to chat to me about this, and more.

How did the band initially form?

Beau and I met on a website somewhere, I think Beau found Julien on the same website at some point, and we found Chris in a dumpster.

You used to be known as Scout Killers. Why the name change to Cielo Drive?

The name Scout Killers wasn’t entirely marketable, on account of the fact that it could be perceived that we murder children. We decided that that probably wasn’t a good angle.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Each of us have our own musical influences. A few of the guys are into metalcore, which brings a heavier edge to our music, but then I’m into classical rock like Fleetwood Mac and the like, and I know Julien is too. It’s a bit of a mix, but it starts to shine through in our music from time to time, I think.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We have a few different approaches. Sometimes, the guys will bring an almost fully-fleshed idea to a practice session, and we’ll pretty much write the song on the spot, whereas other times, it takes a little bit more work.

We gather round Julien‘s or Beau‘s and get to work on hashing out different versions and demos, and eventually arrive at a version we all like. The former feels a lot more organic, but the latter has a lot of merits that we wouldn’t get if we didn’t deconstruct the song and have a proper look at it.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Lots of things, really. I like writing songs that everyone can relate to in some way, shape, and form, so I try and take specific events and experiences, and make something generic from it.

An example is ‘Rip Me Apart‘, which is about visiting my estranged father on his death bed in Portugal. It’s about a specific event, but it has themes that anyone can relate to like loss and fear.

Next month, you will be bringing out your first album as Cielo Drive, entitled ‘Ruins’. How will it differ stylistically to the work you put out as Scout Killers?

A lot of the material we wrote under the name of Scout Killers is the stuff that we’ve been performing for a while. However, there’s definitely been an evolution in this album. It’s half Scout Killers, half Cielo Drive.

For us, there’s a definite split, but who knows if that will translate to newer listeners? We’re in too deep to know the difference now.

And the band worked on the upcoming release with Ryan McCombs (vocalist of SOiL and Drowning Pool). How was that as an experience?

For me, it was awesome on a different level. I’ve been in love with SOiL since I was a kid, and I have to admit I was a little starstruck the first time we had a meeting.

You have become known for delivering powerful live sets. How is it, for you all, performing on stage?

It’s amazing. In this day and age, it feels like every man and his wife and dog are in a band, so to tell your workmates, friends, relatives, etc, that you’re in a band, and to blow them away when they watch you, you know you’re doing something right. That’s a good feeling.

Album aside, what has the band got planned for the rest of 2019?

More writing. We’ve got a bit of a cycle on the go at the moment, and now that we’ve got the album ready and on its way to release, it’s time to head back to the practice room.

And finally, what is your long-term aim as Cielo Drive?

Our long-term goal? I think we’re just happy doing what we’re doing. We joke and say that the band is a hobby that’s gone too far, but it’s just something we love doing, and we’re just gonna keep doing it, and progress with it.

Cielo Drive Album Cover

‘RUINS’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM CIELO DRIVE, WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 17 VIA MUSIC HOUSE 37.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

 

CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 PREVIEW

Deaf Havana band photo

DEAF HAVANA

Frank Turner photo

FRANK TURNER

by ZAK SLOMAN

Just over six weeks from now, summer will be here once again, and for proper music fans, that can mean one thing most of all – festivals.

However, if spending a weekend in a mudbath, being pelted by torrential rain, is not for you, then the Camden Rocks festival will in no doubt be of much appeal.

2019 marks ten years since the inaugural festival, and this year’s line-up – comprising of 400 established and emerging bands/artists, spanning a diverse range of musical genres, all performing across 20 venues dotted over an area of London that is a genuine hotbed of alternative culture – looks set to be the best to date.

To find out more, I recently spoke to the founder/organiser of Camden Rocks, Chris McCormack, about its origins, the planning that has gone into this year’s festival, as well as what can be expected from it.

How did the initial idea for Camden Rocks come about?

At the time I was booking loads of great little bands in Camden, and I decided to try and use some of my contacts to build something a bit bigger and put together a showcase for these bands, to try and get some of them connected with the right people, and start to get things happening for them, and it kind of snowballed from there, really.

When did you start planning for this year’s festival?

Planning is year-round. We’ll have a bit of downtime in the summer, which you need after doing something as intense as this, but otherwise, we’re on it all the time, seeking out new bands throughout the year, and putting plans in place.

Ash band photo

ASH

The Pigeon Detectives band photo

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES

Which bands/artists playing are you personally looking forward to seeing?

So many. Ratboy, Skinny Lister, Pretty Vicious, Buster Shuffle, Queen Zee, Rascalton, Strange Bones, Roe… I could go on and on! Give our Spotify a listen, and you’ll hear for yourself that there’s going to be loads of really exciting stuff this year.

This year marks exactly a decade since the first Camden Rocks. Honestly, when you started it, did you ever think that it would become as big as it has?

I never really thought about it, to be honest… it’s just gradually and gradually got more out of hand!

Ratboy photo

RATBOY

Pretty Vicious band photo

PRETTY VICIOUS

What can music fans expect from this year’s festival?

Two exciting high-energy days of musical discovery. Whether you know a load of bands on the line-up, or if you know none, you are guaranteed to find something that gets your blood pumping.

What have been your main personal highlights of Camden Rocks over the years?

I’m a massive Sex Pistols fan, so having John Lydon play with Public Image Ltd was a real highlight for me.

And finally, are there any bands/artists you would realistically love to get onto further festival bills?

The Sex Pistols.
Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

 

CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 TAKES PLACE ON THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 1-2, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND THROUGH ITS OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

 

IN FEAR THEY FOLLOW

In Fear They Follow band photo

IN FEAR THEY FOLLOW (from l-r): Ben Threlfall (guitar), Sam Kellaway (drums), Jake Searle (vocals), Ryan Simmons (guitar), Sam Elswood (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From BristolIn Fear They Follow are an emerging five-piece armed with a fierce, destructive sound that takes in elements of metal, metalcore, deathcore, and nu-metal, as well as lyrical content that is relatable to their rapidly-expanding fan base.

Having supported the likes of InVisions and Bury The Traitor, the collective now look set to make a seismic impact on the contemporary British metal scene with their recently-released debut EP, ‘Solace‘, and the quintet were happy to speak to me about how they plan to do this, along with a host of other band-related topics.

How did the band initially form?

In Fear They Follow was initially formed after the local bands we were part of came to an end. We had all been playing shows together for a few years, and figured where one door closes, another opens, so we took the strongest elements of each of our previous projects and combined them into the tracks we have now.

As formation stories go, it’s not the most interesting, but sometimes that’s just how it happens!

How did the name In Fear They Follow come about?

In Fear They Follow was the name we landed on which we felt resonated best with our sound, as it was not too deathcore-sounding, nor too metalcore-sounding, but still dark enough to give you an insight into our sound before turning up to a show.

The name is based around the theme of standing on your own feet and straying form the norm (not following out of fear). 

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Each member comes from a different corner of metal influences, each with their own opinions and interests. Vocalist Jake is influenced by bands like Parkway Drive, Motionless in White, and Thy Art Is Murder, guitarist Ryan comes from a background of August Burns Red, Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay DyingBen is heavily influenced by Architects, Loathe, and Sleep Token, bassist Sam is interested in Rise Against, Before I Turn and Shields, and drummer Sam K enjoys Periphery, Animals As Leaders, and Monuments, and it’s this combination of interests that creates our sound, as we don’t think – as a collective – we could agree on a single band as a driving force behind our EP.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We take a structured approach towards writing new material, meeting up at least once a week to get new ideas down, starting with either guitar or drums depending on how we want the section to feel, and we will keep doing this for months on end until we have an album’s worth of material.

We then revisit all of our demos, refining them to get the flow of each song just right, and to ensure each song has its purpose on the record. This is a pretty long process, in comparison to other bands moving in together for a week or two and writing the entire album then, but we feel our way gives each song enough time to be debated and changed until it’s just right.

The band recently brought out ‘Solace’, their debut EP. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process went smoothly! That was the second time we have had our work mixed by G1, and as usual, George knocked it out of the park!

Severe changes were made after recording, due to a member parting ways with us, the main one being ‘Erebus‘, which was recorded as a more metalcore-sounding track under the name ‘Inglorious‘.

This song stood out as the weakest on the record and had to be saved, not wasted, and after a few more days in the studio, we turned it into one of the strongest songs on the EP!

To any bands reading, we could not recommend George Level of Mixed By G1 enough!

The EP’s themes are linked to negative events that have occurred in all of your lives. How did it feel for the band conveying those experiences into the songs?

Quite a relief, actually. Instead of the EP carrying a negative energy, we treat it as a way to release any build-ups of anger or hatred that we have.

Any artist will tell you that their work – even if it may seem depressing – is an incredible release, and this EP is no different, as it has helped each and every member through a harder time in their life.

We did try to keep each topic either more metaphorical or just generally vague so the average listener can still relate and those that the songs are written about would never be able to tell.

And for those who haven’t managed to listen to the EP yet, what can they expect from it?

This EP has a mix of everything throughout! From classic metalcore riffs to more modern “dent” sounding sections, from clean, calm synth breaks, to explosive breakdowns accompanied by vocals driven at full throttle.

Songs like ‘Solace‘, ‘Midas‘ and ‘Arke‘ all feature some of the heaviest sections we have ever written, whereas ‘Erebus‘ is light in comparison, following more of a traditional metalcore feel.

The band have supported the likes of InVisions and Shields, and also embarked on a UK tour with Bury The Traitor in February. How were they as experiences for you all?

Playing the shows with InVisions and Shields was great, both nights had great turnouts, and were loads of fun, but our tour with Bury The Traitor has to take the cake, though, as they’re a great bunch of guys, and many good times were had over the four days, and it was also an honour to play with them again for Napoleon‘s farewell tour.

It was an amazing experience for us, so much so that we can’t wait to get back out on the road!

And how is it, for the band, performing live overall?

Performing live is special to each of us. Being able to stand on stage and perform is a privilege we will never take for granted, be it in front of 10 or 10,000 people, and every show we play, we bring something new, so our stage performance is constantly evolving and improving.

And lastly, what are your plans now that the EP has come out?

Writing is already well underway for our next release, and we hope to be back with G1 later this year! We’re pushing ourselves as hard as we possibly can to keep the momentum up, and plan for any obstacles that may impede us.

We also have another three tours planned over the next couple of months, one with INDEPTHS next month, one with Jonestown in August, and one more that is yet to be announced!

We’re going to carry on pushing ourselves as far afield as we can this year, as we’re only just getting started, and there’s so much more yet to come!

In Fear They Follow EP Cover

‘SOLACE’, THE DEBUT EP FROM IN FEAR THEY FOLLOW, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

BRIGHTLIGHT CITY

Brightlight City band photo

BRIGHTLIGHT CITY (from l-r): Tom Stock (bass/vocals), Jamie Giarraputo (vocals), Justin Giarraputo (guitar/vocals), Jono Staunton (guitar), Ben Bell (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Armed with a strong sonic combination of elements of rock, indie, and alternative rock, five-piece Brightlight City are an outfit ready to unleash their full potential with debut album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘, which comes out next month, an follows on from their well-received 2017 first EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead‘, and the band’s guitarist/vocalist, Justin Giarraputo, recently spoke to me about its recording process, what can be expected from the upcoming release, and much more.

How did the band initially get together?

The short version – the band started with me and my brother Jamie recruiting long-time friend Jono to start writing music with big riffs and even bigger choruses.

After a few members came and went, Jamie heard Ben practicing in a rehearsal studio he used to run and own. Ben then came down and learnt the songs, and he fitted the energy of the band instantly.

Ben then brought Tom into the fold, and the band began to incessantly write, record, and play live.

How did the name Brightlight City come about?

Whilst experimenting with a number of names, we settled on the name Brightlight City, as it seemed to fit our ambitions and passion for our music, with the bright bursting rhythms and hooks, which were underpinned by personal, social, and emotional themes.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Our approach has been something that we have learnt over the last three-and-a-bit years of playing together. We started trying to write as a band in a small space, which did throw up some great ideas and riffs, but for us, it always hit a wall, as sounds were fighting each other.

We now have found that it is easier to thrash out ideas either individually, or in pairs, then bring it to the rest of the band. We also have invested our time (and money) into our own home studio set-up, which allows us to record and lay down the parts before even bringing the ideas to a rehearsal space.

That way, we can send ideas to each other and work on them in our own time before playing them together and committing them to tape on a recording.

Our album (‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘) was pretty much recorded in our two main home studios (one at Tom’s where we recorded the drums, all of the guitar, bass and keyboard parts plus additional vocals, and at Jamie’s where we recorded the main vocals).

This has worked so successfully that myself and Tom have already written six tracks for a new album/EP, which the others are now working out parts for.

In 2017, the band brought out their debut EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead’, to positive reviews, and praise from the likes of Kerrang! magazine. How was the response to that for you all personally?

The response was amazing, when you are so heavily invested in writing and performing your music, it feels great to get a pat on the back (or 4 Ks) from a magazine like Kerrang!

We always come from the standpoint of writing music that has passion, honesty and that we love to listen to.

It was really great to read the reviews and response we had for ‘OFND‘ as we did, and still do believe in and love those songs. However, we are really excited at hearing the response to the album, as we put every single piece of our passion, time, blood, sweat, and tears into creating it.

Standing back and listening to it for us is a journey, but we feel it fits as one cohesive piece to define where the band were, and hopefully carves out the direction we will be following over the next releases.

In May, you will be unveiling your first album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos’. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process – for us – was great, I really feel we grew as a band, and as a collective. We pushed ourselves as individuals to try and better each guitar line, drum fill, and vocal hook that we wrote.

At times it was exhilarating, other times, you felt like you could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but to come through it and have the set of songs we have now, we all feel proud of what we have created.

One of the last choruses we recorded was for a song called ‘Who You Are‘. It has this group end refrain in which Jamie summed up the process beautifully with his lyrics -“Make your way through the dark, finding out who you are.

And how will the upcoming release differ stylistically to the EP?

Stylistically, we worked on pushing our song writing into some different directions. We tried to think of our favourite styles present in our favourite songs, so huge choruses with huge hooks, making something nice sound discordant, the “quiet/loud /quiet” approach to the unrelenting straight-up punk and hardcore vibes.

There are a number of themes on the album, as not only do we look at current social and political views, but Jamie became quite insular, and looked at how his genetic make-up and how he personally impacts on the world he lives in.

There are moments on every song of this album where the lines sung are soaked in emotion and deeper meaning, and this is something we always strive to create, which is music with a purpose that others can relate to.

One of the album’s tracks, the recently-released ‘Statues & Monuments’, deals frankly with Jamie’s struggles with anxiety and depression. Obviously, you all think it’s good that there are more open discussions on mental health now.

It is a fantastic thing that we now are starting to turn the tide on the stigma attached to mental health. Rather than just brush it under the carpet or tell someone to “man up“, we are starting to realise the importance of what it means to support each other through our personal battles.

If we could all have more compassion for each other, and start to work together for the benefit of the communities we are part of, with love and understanding rather than being judgmental and competitive, the world we inhabit would become a less scary place.

I really feel that there are infrastructures in place within our society to keep everyone in a state of apathy, which only benefit a minority of people. This is why being creative, whether it be in music, art, drama, literature, etc. allows you to escape the confinements of these structures, and you lay a path for others to follow.

It is also really enlightening to know there is something more than what we have been offered, as for us, creating and playing music is like a part of who we are as individuals that has been enhanced by playing together in a band.

We are all great friends and help and talk to each other about our issues and problems, and always attempt to help and solve them. We always make the most of every opportunity, and attempt to make a positive impact on everything we do.

The band have supported such outfits as Rise Against, Blood Youth, and Fizzy Blood. How were they all as experiences?

Every experience we have been through has been incredible, and we are always learning from our peers and contemporaries in music. Rise Against was an unbelievable show, where we were flown out to Quebec City to play a festival they were headlining, and standing side stage and watching them perform was very inspiring and we were thankful for the opportunity given to us.

Playing with bands like Blood Youth, Fizzy Blood, Max Raptor, Young Legionnaire, and Press to MECO has been great, as it has allowed us to meet and gain valuable advice from bands who we look up to on the scene we are now a part of.

Like I said above, we make the most of every opportunity that we are given, as we know it gives us experience, and a chance to gain advice from other bands.

And how is it overall, for everyone in Brightlight City, performing live?

Performing live is something we love, I know that on stage we all put on an energetic, passion-fuelled performance. Off-stage (or just before we go on), we have a number of rituals that we all follow.

We tend to help each other through the nerves (yes, we still get nervous because we care about what we do, and sometimes when you’re on stage, you are at your most vulnerable, but also most open) by talking about films or TV shows we have been watching, books or new stories we have read, and most of the time, we have some fantastic and ridiculous conversations on various subjects.

All this helps to get us focused on putting on the best show we can, as we always live by the adage “play every show like it’s your last“.

What are the band’s plans following the new album coming out?

We have been playing live loads since February, so we will continue playing as much as we can to promote the album. We will also be looking at securing slots on various festivals and support slots on some tours, and in any spare time that we will have, we will also be finishing off new songs for either a future EP release or album two.

We also run our own label (Undead Collective Records) and will be working with the amazing bands we have on our roster on their releases, if you take anything from this article, 1. pre-order / buy our album, and 2. check out the following bands: Loose Tooth, Best Of Enemies, Merrick’s Tusk, and Seasonal.

We are also on the lookout for any music that fits within the alt-rock genre, so have a listen to the bands above, and if you think you would like to submit anything, then get in contact with us.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

Our long-term aim is to keep writing, playing, and releasing music. Like I said, we have already written six new songs, which are an even bigger step up from our forthcoming debut album, so we are really excited to see how they turn out.

Alongside that, we also want to support the music scene by building our label into the most popular independent alternative label in the UK. Watch this space, it will happen.

Brightlight City Album Cover

‘THE HARMONY & THE CHAOS’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM BRIGHTLIGHT CITY, WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 17 VIA UNDEAD COLLECTIVE RECORDS.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

BANSHEE

Banshee band photo

BANSHEE (from l-r): Erin Donnachie (vocals), Gia Demelas (drums), Liam Walker (bass), Gavin Williams (guitar/synth)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Since forming in 2011 in Glasgow, four-piece Banshee have consistently developed a highly-energetic, powerful alternative rock sound that has resulted in them playing at Download, supporting such outfits as the Fearless Vampire Killers and Marmozets, and plaudits from the likes of legendary Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott and the Daily Record newspaper, who have hailed them as “one of Scotland’s best unsigned bands“.

Having just brought out ‘Bubble‘ – their second EP – the quartet’s vocalist Erin Donnachie spoke to me about all this and more.

Firstly, how did the band initially form?

Gavin and Gia have been in bands together for over 10 years now. I became friends with Gia while I was at college studying music, and one day, he just happened to ask me if I fancied singing for his band, and here we are…seven years on!

Liam joined not long after myself, he’d heard the band and would chat to Gia about it, and when the time came that we needed a new bass player, he was top of the list. 

How did the name Banshee originate?

We used to be called Life On Standby for the first few years of being together, however, we found that after a while, we wanted to reinvent the band’s look and try to capture people’s attention again, so we felt that a new name was the right way to do this. 

I sat for hours trying to think of a new name – writing tonnes down using thesauruses and all sorts – and came up with a final list of five or six names that I thought could work, and we all agreed that Banshee was the right fit. 

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We’ve changed how we do this a lot over the years. A lot of the time, Gavin will come to us with a chord progression or riff that he’s been working on, and we will build a song from there. 

For our last single – ‘You Said’ – I came up with the basic structure, recorded a demo in my boyfriend’s band’s studio with his help, and then put it to the guys. It varies with each song, but we work well together, with each of us bringing something different to the songwriting process. 

What inspires the band lyrically?

It can be anything, from what’s going on with myself, a friend, the world, to how the song makes me feel. 

Shortly after forming, you were invited to record at Red Bull Studios in London. How did that invitation come about?

We put in a submission to Red Bull along with hundreds of other bands, and our video for ‘Shadows’ was shortlisted. After that, we had to get friends, family, and fans to vote for us to be in with a chance of making it to London, and luckily, we got there, and it was an amazing experience. 

And there, the band were taken under the wing of Don Broco. How was it working with them?

All of us were – and still are – fans of Don Broco, so it was cool to meet them, and for them to be there listening to our track in the studio. They were really cool guys, were up for a laugh, and they even sneaked into one of our promo shots!

In 2015, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Say My Name’, to rave reviews. Honestly, was that something any of you were expecting prior to its release?

‘Say My Name’ was a song we had been struggling with for about a year before we actually recorded it! When we finally got there, we were so happy with how it turned out, and it was the perfect song to link in with the change of the band’s name. 

We didn’t expect the reception that the EP got, but it was brilliant to see that our fans were still excited to see what we were up to. 

The band recently unveiled the follow-up for that, ‘Bubble’. How was its recording process? 

We were actually very unorganised for the recording process, which is very unlike us, as normally, we know our songs inside out, and we only have to make a few minor changes when recording, but we cut it very close with this one.

I personally struggled with one song on the EP (‘Erased‘) where I wrote the middle eight about three minutes before I recorded it! However, we’re all really happy with how each song has turned out. 

And how does the EP differ stylistically to ‘Say My Name’?

I wouldn’t say that our style has changed too much from ‘Say My Name’, although I’d say that the new EP – as a whole – is a bit softer and not as synth-heavy as our previous work. The song ‘Erased‘ – which I previously mentioned – is a bit softer than our usual style, and a bit more emotional lyrically, and we hope it makes a nice change. 

You have played at Download, as well as supporting the likes of Fearless Vampire Killers and Marmozets. How were they as experiences?

Download was an incredible festival to be a part of, and probably the best festival we’ve ever been to. It’s cool to say that we played at a festival with the likes of Aerosmith and Linkin Park

The FVK gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow was a good one, it was a weeknight, but the gig had sold out, the crowd were amazing, and we managed to gain a few fans from that. 

As for Marmozets, that gig was just before they blew up with the release of their first album. They are one of our favourite bands and were so lovely – and crazily talented, of course, and supporting bands that you genuinely admire and take influence from is one of the many great things about being in a band. 

And how is it overall, for the band, performing live?

Performing live is probably our favourite thing to do. We never leave the stage looking the way we did when we first stepped on – especially me, as my makeup and hair will go everywhere! 

You also get an amazing buzz from it, seeing people enjoy the music you’ve written and singing along, and time seems to totally fly by when you’re on stage. 

Lastly, what are your plans now that ‘Bubble’ has been released?

We have a few shows coming up including one in Glasgow, and one in Inverness. We’re also currently working on our next video and single release, and are looking to get around the UK later on this year, so keep an eye out for us!

Banshee EP Cover

‘BUBBLE’, THE SECOND EP FROM BANSHEE, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

JOHN DHALI

John Dhali photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

About five years ago, John Dhali had his life turned around by the intervention of a Hindu satguru, and he decided that the next step he had to take in his life was to become a musician.

Now – through numerous gigging across the UK, and two well-received EPs – John has truly made a name for himself as a singer-songwriter who crafts soulful music and heartfelt lyrics that champion self-realisation and self-development, which he is eager to share with as many people as he possibly can.

John spoke to us about this – and more – following his recent set at the Karnage Festival at Keele University.

What would you say was your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory was that my family used to have a party every Boxing Day, and one particular year – when I was around six, seven – we were doing some karaoke, and I wanted to sing ‘Can’t Stop’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as one time, I was walking through a meadow with my dad, singing it, and he said, “That’s alright, that is!

Was there a specific moment when you decided that a career as a musician was for you?

Yeah, there was, actually. I’m about to get deep on you, is that okay?

That’s fine.

So, about five years ago, I was in a very bad place mentally. I was taking a lot of drugs, and I was really quite crazy, but then, I met someone called Sri Ramana Devi, who is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, and a satguru in the Hindu tradition, and she offered me an amazing amount of love and compassion.

I was allowed to stay on her farm for a couple of days, and in that time, we both worked through a lot of the issues that I was having, and with her support and guidance, I found it in myself to pursue a career in music, so after those few days, I decided to go back to a normal life, and make changes along the way.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

My approach to songwriting is that I always want to write something from a place of sincerity and meaning, as I never want to write anything that is shallow. I wouldn’t sit down and try and write any old shit, as it’s got to be something that comes from the heart, but in terms of the actual approach to songwriting, it can come in all shapes and sizes, you know.

A lot of the time, I will write the lyrics down first, as they will resonate the most with my heart, but other times, I will have an idea that I will then play on my guitar, and that I will then work with, but I need to feel something whilst doing it, because otherwise, it’s not worth my time.

What inspires you lyrically?

My own process of self-realisation and self-development – and the experiences that I have – is what inspires me lyrically, and that enables me to spread a conscientious message to the world, which is facing yourself and becoming a fuller version of who you really are, but also on a more practical level, my mum actually inspires me a lot, as a lot of times, she will say something to me, which will then trigger something in my mind.

You have brought out two well-received EPs. Honestly – especially with your 2015 self-titled debut – did you expect the responses that they got?

No, not at all, because I hadn’t released any music before then, I wasn’t really on any music scene, I only did the odd gig, no-one really knew who I was, and it was my dad who actually helped me to fund the recording of the first EP, but it came out, did really well, and kind of jump-started my musical career, I suppose.

As well as doing solo gigs – like the one you have just done – you also play as part of a five-piece ensemble. What made you decide to do that?

Since my first EP came out – and even before then – I have been in the process of finding myself musically, as well as spiritually, so I’ve been trying out lots of different things, including the ensemble, and they decided to make themselves a separate entity, called Headlights, but now, I’ve just completed some really intense self-development sessions with Sri Ramana Devi – who I mentioned earlier – who has done magical things with me.

I’ve also really worked hard on myself, and have realised who I am, which is a soul-folk singer-songwriter, and so now, I’ve scrapped the band.

Why have you finished the band?

Because it’s not who I am, and it simply doesn’t resonate with me. I see the band as just part of the process I was going through, and it has served its purpose.

You have performed across the UK. How is the live experience for you personally?

It’s very different every time I play. Some of the times, I have had some truly amazing experiences, and I feel there isn’t a division between myself and the audience, as we’re all in the same process together, and you can find yourself getting into a meditative state, and going beyond yourself, feeling like you’re not even there, and not doing anything, which feels really amazing.

Other times, it can be hard – especially being an up-and-coming artist – and I often play gigs in bars and stuff.

You say on your website that you enjoy playing gigs in people’s living rooms.

Yeah, I love them, but it can be a mixed bag, to be honest. It can be really enjoyable playing to a quite, attentive audience, but then, the rowdy gigs can actually be the best ones, as everyone seems really up for it.

Was it rowdy earlier?

It was more in-between, but it was really good, and I very much enjoyed it.

And finally, what are your plans for the near future?

So, the lady who I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, she has founded a charity called the Shiva Trust, which I am a trustee for, and together, we are working on an initiative to find, support, and encourage young artists to convey a message to the world through their art.

I am a conscious artist, so I’ll soon be doing a campaign to promote the charity, speaking to as many people as possible, and we’re also starting a competition, where £5,000 will be given to a young artist to submit their work and make a statement saying how they want to make the world a better place.

I’ve also got a particular song – which has my own conscientious message in – which I will soon be recording as a single, and I’ll be doing a campaign around that.

FURTHER INFO ON THE SHIVA TRUST CAN BE FOUND HERE, AND MORE INFO ON JOHN DHALI CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE