Columbia band photo

COLUMBIA (clockwise, from top left): Craig Lewis (vocals/rhythm guitar), Ben Rowlands (lead guitar), Chris Webber (drums), Amir Maleki (bass)


At the beginning of this year, Cardiff four-piece Columbia unveiled their debut single, ‘Fall Into The Sun‘, which got an overwhelmingly positive response, with many noting its upbeat, energetic rock n’ roll sound, and also favorably comparing the fledgling outfit to the likes of Oasis and The Verve.

Having brought out another track, ‘Glory People‘, since then, and with a keen determination to one day become a powerhouse of the British rock scene, the band’s vocalist/rhythm guitarist, Craig Lewis, spoke to me recently about all of this and much more.

How did the band first get together?

Me and Ben were at school together, and started playing music and writing songs whilst we were in sixth form. We then formed a band called Morning Star that went through a few band member changes until we acquired the services of Chris, after seeing him play with another local band on a bill we were playing on. We saw him play, and were like, “Wow! We’re having him!“, and even after being warned off by the singer of that band, a few weeks later, he was practising with us! Then we found Amir on some musician site, and that was that.

We played a few gigs as this new line-up, but then Chris joined the army, and was away for about six years. During that time, Ben and I tried to keep things going, but it was difficult and things ground to a halt, then Chris and I got back in touch, he told me he was leaving the army, and since the day he got home, we’ve been back in the recording rooms, and things seem to be finally moving in the right direction.

How did the name Columbia come about?

I’m a massive Oasis fan, and have been since I was about 12. I suppose as homage to them, I wanted our new band name to represent my biggest influence, so we took the name from the Oasis song ‘Columbia‘, off their debut album, ‘Definitely, Maybe‘. Also, it’s a cool-sounding name.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

As in the previous question, as songwriter, my biggest influence has always been Oasis. I’ve always loved their music and its energy. The majority of their songs are upbeat rock n’ roll, and that’s what we try and recreate in our own songs.

I also think the melodies and lyrics of The Verve and Richard Ashcroft have had a big influence on me, and I would also say the beats and sound of Kasabian. Really anything that’s upbeat and gets our feet tapping.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Usually, I just sit with my acoustic guitar, play around, and see what comes out. Most of the time, I get the chords and melody, and the lyrics seem to come pretty quickly after that. Most of the songs are written pretty quickly, and if they take too long to write, then I usually end up leaving them, as I’m quite impatient.

Once the song is written, I then take it to practice with the rest of the band, and that’s when you can really tell if it’s a good song. We’ll play the song through a few times, and then spend time working on the structure and sound. A lot of the time, once Ben has put his lead guitar over Amir‘s driving bass and Chris‘s pounding drums, it changes the song, and hopefully what you’re left with is a good rock n’ roll song that will sound great live.

What inspires the band lyrically?

It’s difficult to say what most of the songs are about. When I’m writing a song, most of the time, I don’t really think about what I’m writing, as long as it sounds good and feels good to sing. When the songs are finished is when I’ll actually read the lyrics and analyse them a bit. Most of the time, I’d say the songs are about love, life, and hope, or at least that’s how I interpret them.

Earlier this year, you unveiled your debut single, ‘Fall Into The Sun’. How was the initial response to it?

The reaction to ‘Fall Into The Sun‘ was really positive. Lots of people said that it reminded them of early Oasis, which for a massive Oasis fan like myself, was amazing to hear.

Also, we wanted our first release to be a fast-paced, in-your-face rock n’ roll record, and we believe that’s what the song is. It’s currently the opener to our live set, and it sets the rest of the gig up perfectly. It lets people know what we’re all about.

Also, the band have just brought out a new track, ‘Glory People’. How was the recording process for that?

As with ‘Fall Into The Sun‘, we recorded ‘Glory People‘ ourselves in a practice room at Pirate Studios in Cardiff. Amir is also a sound engineer, and so has all of the equipment and software needed to make a decent-sounding recording, so we just got in the room and recorded it as best as we could. I love that it’s not overly produced and feels quite raw, which was definitely what we wanted to capture, and I think we’ve done that.

And the single has been taken from your upcoming first EP, ‘Embrace The Chaos’. When are you currently thinking of getting it released by?

Well, we had planned to get into the studio during March to record the next two songs (‘Waiting For You To Believe‘ and ‘Something More‘ for the EP, and were aiming to release it around June.

However, due to the craziness of the coronavirus outbreak, that’s obviously been put on the back burner, so I’m now not really sure when that release date will be, but hopefully, it will be before the end of this year, though.

How is the experience – for the band – of performing live?

We absolutely love it! I think the energy and directness of our songs is something that makes people take notice. There’s a lot to be said for playing rock n’ roll as it’s supposed to be: raw and loud, and that’s what we do. It’s the best feeling in the world.

In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus outbreak affect the UK music industry?

Personally, I believe that this is a time when everyone needs music more than ever. Music has the ability to transport you to somewhere different, whether that be reminding you of past memories, people, or just giving you a few minutes when you forget about everything else. As Richard Ashcroft said, “Music is power“.

And lastly, what is the band’s long-term aim?

If we don’t believe in ourselves, then why should we expect anyone else to? I truly believe that our songs are good enough to take us to the top, and that’s where we intend on going. I’ve been to many gigs recently and watched so many bands, and I always walk away thinking, “we’re better than those, yet they’re on the stage front of thousands of people“. We just need that chance, and once we get it, we’ll be on our way. I’m certain of it.

Columbia Single Cover








Underking Album Cover - Ghosts Of The Past


This Friday, metal/rock outfit Underking – comprising of Max Jeffries and Dustin Burmeister – will be unveiling ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘, one of two debut albums, and Max has, in detail, described every one of its seven tracks to us:


When I wrote ‘Hexed‘, it was always intended to be the catchy single song. It started with the main riff that kicks off the song, which I thought sounded really unique, and the rest of the song just flowed from there. really.

The chorus was always intended to be the main force of the song, and I spent a lot of time on the harmonies and layering to make it as memorable as I could.

The solo also fed into this kind of thinking as well, keeping it simple and melodic, rather than shredding or overplaying – I just wanted it to serve as an extension to the chorus and get stuck in people’s heads.

As soon as I was selecting the running order for ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ – I knew this had to be first!


The self-titled track originally started as a track called ‘Goblin King‘, and was intended as a song that I was going to pitch for Rage Cave. It has that nice, bouncy groove that forms the basis of the song, and I built it outwards from that.

I knew as soon as the song started to form that the lyrics had to have that playful, tongue-in-cheek energy – but still delivered in a serious way, so the lyrics formed around this idea of a goblin king. It turned into a really fun track in my opinion, and has one of the best riffs on the album.


This track started as an instrumental song, but as I began to write lyrics for the project, I realised that it needed some lyrics to fill out the track, and soon they started flowing out.

They aren’t many lyrics in the song, but they ended up being some of my most personal, just dealing with some issues of feeling isolated – perhaps apt in the current situation – and, as a lead-in to the next track, I decided to insert a lyrical nod with the title.


As the first single from the album, I wanted this one to pack a punch, so the simple drum intro to the Black Sabbath-inspired riff seemed like a great way to kick off people’s Underking experience.

I focused a lot on the lyrics of this one with Adam Buckley, and the song turned into a religious-themed track – something I find myself writing about quite a bit. It’s about the duality of faith, and how it can cripple some people into doing things simply on the promise of heaven and hell – without actually stopping to think about the morality of their actions in a meaningful way.

The switch-up in the middle is one of my favourite moments on the project as it enters that thrash realm that so many of the Underking songs are inspired by.


Whilst only an instrumental song, it still holds a lot of meaning for me. It was written in the wake of the anniversary of the death of a family member, and for me, is dedicated to them.

I decided to pick the title of ‘Chasing Ghosts‘, as it reflects that kind of feeling – wanting someone back who you know you can never see again.


Again, this one started out with the main riff that has that groovy quality inspired by the kind of riffs in some of my favourite bands, Periphery and Delusions Of Grandeur, whilst still keeping the genre rooted firmly in that classic heavy metal-type feel.

The verses go into a bit of thrash, and I think the chorus is quite unique, as the vocals and their harmonies drive the section without much help from the guitars – it’s definitely the song I’m vocally proud of.

Also, containing the origin of the album title, the lyrics focus on the futility of sending people to war and this top-down approach to soldiers, with their superiors using them as expendable weapons for reasons that are sometimes unbeknownst to the people actually fighting.


The closing track of the album, and the longest to be released on either Underking album. This song began as an experiment with synths and orchestral elements that make up the first moments of the song.

I wanted the song to, again, give off those Black Sabbath vibes with a modern twist. The opening harmonised riff is one of the most doom-influenced on either album, and the lyrics focus around the British witch trials, which was a subject I was really interested in at the time of writing. I also knew that I wanted to close the album with a solo, as ‘Amongst The Dead‘ opens with a solo, creating that parallel between the two records.

Overall, I think the album’s themes kind of permeate through death and darkness, but in an accessible way, it’s not so dark that people would turn it off because they thought too deeply about the lyrics. In this instance, I took influence from Ghost, making these topics a big lighter musically perhaps than they would first appear.



DOOMSDAY SUN – ‘Cult Of Stasis’


Doomsday Sun EP Cover


Cult Of Stasis‘, the follow-up to Staffordshire metal collective Doomsday Sun‘s 2017 debut, ‘Red Light Fever‘, is a concept EP, telling the story of a medical scientist, Dr. Jeremy Stanham, who, with a group of colleagues and volunteers, goes into a two-decade stasis to escape a dystopian future which has seen the UK torn apart by a bloody civil war.

Comprising of five well-crafted tracks, each accompanied by at times darkly humorous audio interludes that aid the EP’s narrative, ranging from a radio news broadcast, a radio advert, and logs detailing an exploration of Dr. Stanham‘s laboratory, to a haunting tape recording of the central character himself, this offering sees the band, now a three-piece, elect to keep the emphasis very much on doom, but expand on the best elements of their previous release.

Some of the songs, for example, opener ‘Clean The Bones‘, ‘Husk Of Augur‘, and ‘Bring Forth The Plague‘, are highly-energetic, aggressive affairs, perfectly suited for the moshpit, whereas other numbers, such as the title track, and closer ‘He Who Fights Monsters‘, are more progressive, less distorted pieces.

An overriding sense of intensity is a constant presence throughout the EP, represented most effectively by pounding drum beats, lengthy guitar solos, and a snarling vocal delivery, which fits in well with the strong narrative.

Overall, while ‘Red Light Fever‘ served as a very good introduction to Doomsday Sun, ‘Cult Of Stasis‘ substantially improves on that, showcasing a more mature and confident outfit better able to focus on developing a truly original metal sound, and hopefully, with this, will get the wider recognition they deserve.


TOP TRACK: Cult Of Stasis












Underking band logo



In 2018, Stoke-on-Trent three-piece Rage Cave, an outfit that had made quite n impact on the city’s music scene, decided to call it a day.

One of the members from that band, Max Jeffries, saw this as an opportunity to begin a new musical project, and after a year of doing everything solo, he decided to bring in a collaborator, who turned out to be an American musician called Dustin Burmeister.

Since last summer, the two-piece have been working hard on honing a sound influenced by a host of legendary rock and metal bands, and with not one, but two albums coming out shortly, both Max and Dustin spoke to me about what can be expected from these releases, and much more.

How did the band first form?

MAX JEFFRIES: Underking started as a solo project, pretty much immediately from when Rage Cave ended. I wanted to show how I had developed as a musician and as a person since Rage Cave‘s last album dropped in 2018.

In the summer of that year, I started writing for Underking, and decided that I was going to look for a singer and a screamer, as I didn’t really feel comfortable with being the singer of a band anymore, and I definitely didn’t know how to scream.

In the summer of 2019, Dustin offered to do the screamed vocals for the project, but I knew that I was going to have to do the singing, so, because of this, I decided to split the project into two distinct halves, one with singing, and one with screaming. The two projects that are being released on April 3 reflect this, I think!

DUSTIN BURMEISTER: I met Max online last August, he had posted some clips of these songs on Facebook asking for a vocalist, and I was interested. After listening to them, I reached out and asked if he was still looking, which he was, so I showed him a little bit of what I was about while we discussed the project, and hit it off from there!

How did the name Underking come about?

MAX: The name of the band came about in a discussion I was having with Kieron, the bassist from Rage Cave. I originally wanted to call the project Witch King, but he shot that down, as it sounded a bit generic.

Still wanting to think of some fantasy reference and the king imagery, I chose the name Underking, after the Elder Scrolls character of the same name. I thought it fit with the demos I had at the time, so it just stuck!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MAX: Writing for this project was really fun, as I didn’t really set myself any limits. I just decided to run with pretty much every idea until I thought it was a finished song. Starting with ‘Gravedigger‘, I thought it was a step up from anything I had written in Rage Cave, and it just progressed from there, really – with ‘Nothing But Bone‘ and ‘Hexed‘ rolling straight out after.

However, like all projects, some got thrown out, as I didn’t think they were quite good enough or going anywhere. Some just didn’t feel like I had written them, or sounded too much like other stuff I had heard, but luckily, a lot of them sounded like me, which is what has ended up releasing! I finish up with 14 tracks that I was really happy with in the end, and couldn’t be happier with how they have turned out.

DUSTIN: After getting the vibe from what Max was more or less aiming for when we first discussed the project, I came to the conclusion I wanted to write from more of a narrative point of view, each song being its own small story. They don’t tie together in any special way other than the lyrics being morbid, violent, and/or angry. These songs aren’t necessarily written from any personal experiences, just ideas and concepts.

What inspires the band lyrically?

MAX: With the half of the project that I wrote lyrics for, I wanted to go for a dark vibe – with lyrics about religion (‘Black Lungs‘), and some of my first introspective stuff with ‘Fading Colour‘.

The first lyrics that I wrote for the project, however, were for ‘Witch Hammer‘. I was really interested in studying the witch trials at the time, and the “Malleus Maleficarum“, so I just wrote¬† song about it! It was just a stream of consciousness, really, and I just wrote about what I was thinking at the time – with Adam (the producer) streamlining my ideas and helping them to be as good as they could be.

DUSTIN: Lyrically, I would say most of the songs on ‘Amongst The Dead‘ are very loosely inspired by horror/sci-fi movies and stories that I’ve either made my own rendition of or are original, just with similar themes.

You will shortly be bringing out two albums, ‘Ghosts Of The Past’ and ‘Amongst The Dead’. How were the recording processes for them?

MAX: The recording processes for both of the albums started in my bedroom. All of the guitars, bass, and the vocals for ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ were recorded in my room, with the drums being programmed.

Once Dustin joined the project, he recorded his vocals at the Ragnarok Recording Studios with Drew Thompson, and we both sent all of our recordings to Adam Buckley to mix and master everything! It wasn’t easy by any means, and it was sometimes difficult to convey what we all actually wanted to each other at times, but in the end, we got there and made two records that I’m really proud of.

DUSTIN: Drew is an awesome producer. I’ve worked with him in the past on other projects and enjoyed it, so that part wasn’t hard.

Honestly, the whole process was fine, I was say this, though, you gotta have someone you can vibe with and bounce ideas off while in the studio, I’m sure everyone will agree when I say it’s hard to push 100% when you just ain’t feeling it.

And how do those albums differ stylistically to the work you did as part of Rage Cave?

MAX: ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ is sort of a natural evolution from Rage Cave, in my opinion, with the songwriting staying relatively the same. The genre and tone of the music is very similar, and I focused on that classic heavy metal sound.

With ‘Amongst The Dead‘ on the other hand, I wanted to go for something a bit heavier, focusing on my thrash and black metal influences like Kvelertak, Megadeth, and Midnight, to name a few.

Once Dustin added his vocals over the top, though, it took that half of the album to the next level, and made it as heavy as I had hoped.

In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus outbreak affect the British music industry?

MAX: The coronavirus will affect the British music industry in a lot of ways, obviously, but I think perhaps the main thing will be the effect it has on the live events, as Download and Glastonbury have now been cancelled, and Slam Dunk has been moved to September.

Financially, I think it will kill off a lot of small clubs, as well, so I think as soon as the quarantine period is over – we should all definitely go and contribute to our local music scenes, or if you can’t wait that long, donate to your local venues, and keep them in business!

And lastly, what is the long-term aim of Underking?

MAX: Underking started out as a bedroom project, but has become an international one with a fair few people involved at this point. I would love to continue this for a long time, and develop it even further.

My goal when I started writing the first song was always to put a modern spin on some of my favourite classic sounds, and I think I’ve achieved that with these two albums, but there’s always room for improvement. I would love to push this sound as far as it can go, and I’m going to keep writing and hopefully play some gigs in future, if the stars align!

Underking Album Covers







The Escapades band photo


Inspired by captivating pop melodies and energetic rock, Newcastle-upon-Tyne collective The Escapades have crafted a dynamic, original sound, and a truly mesmerising stage presence that is rather reminiscent of the most iconic of live music performers.

With their most recent single, ‘Cut Me Loose‘, being released to a positive response, and having had over 10,000 streams online so far, frontman Kieran Taylor spoke to me about that, the band’s journey up to now, upcoming single, ‘I Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Rock & Roll)‘, and more.

How did the band first get together?

Had a beer in Filthy’s (a bar/music venue in the band’s home city) with a couple of pals, next thing you know, we were all in a band.

How did the name The Escapades come about?

Well, an Escapade: An act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure. Speaks for itself.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We like to lock ourselves in a room, you need to just let loose and see what comes out, some days, you have it, some, you don’t.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Love and loss have been a heavy influence on plenty of bands for decades. We’re another one of those bands.

You have so far brought out a few singles – the most recent being ‘Cut Me Loose’. How were the responses to them for you all personally?

Cut Me Loose‘ really popped, it had that classic 90’s rock chorus, and people absolutely loved it. It got airtime in the USA, on the BBC, and landed in a few Spotify playlists. It’s a strong tune.

And next month, the band will be unveiling a new track, ‘I Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Rock & Roll)’. How was the recording process for them?

We recorded the track with Sam from Pigs x7 at Blank Studios (mint, by the way, we recommend those guys), we threw down some guide guitar tracks, then we built up from the bottom to the top. Drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and then we chucked a boatload of harmonies and little twinkly bits of sparkle at the end.

Also, what can your fan base expect from the upcoming release?

Big things. We have a lot of interest from radios and curators all ready, we’ve been sorting the pre-release for a while now, and it’s all starting to come together. We can guarantee this will be your new favourite Escapades song, because it’s certainly ours.

The band have firmly established themselves on their local music scene, and have supported the likes of Kashmere and Youth Illusion. How is the experience – for you all – of playing live?

If you’ve ever seen us live, you’ll know that we like to put on a show. We invested in wireless guitar systems, and there’s nothing quite like jumping off the stage, standing on a table, and blasting out a solo with a circle of fans around you. You can’t really put a price on moments like that, we love our fans.

And lastly, in your opinion, how will the coronavirus outbreak affect the UK music industry?

I think we’ll all have some amazing material coming out after all of this has finished, as lots of very talented people have had time to really sit in and be creative. I can’t wait for this to finish because of the trouble it caused, but I also can’t wait for the bands to show us what they have.






HUSH MOZEY – ‘Trim The Roses’

(Set In Stone Music)

Hush Mozey Single Cover


Trim The Roses‘ – the new single from Bristol four-piece Hush Mozey – is an offering that keeps the powerful rawness and poetic lyrical content that formed important parts of their two well-received EPs – 2018’s ‘Tales Of Bigotry‘, and last year’s ‘Pretty Little Seance‘ – however, there is a noticeable change in the band’s sonic make-up.

The quartet, with the exception of an acoustic strum which opens the track, eschew the guitars in favour of a slower-paced, more melodic sound, containing an underlying orchestral layer, which combines effectively with a soft vocal delivery, that, at one point, is accompanied by a brief rendition of campfire favourite ‘Kum Ba Yah‘.

All of those give the song a real dream-like quality, putting the listener into a state of pure relaxation, just what is needed in these uncertain times.

Overall, ‘Trim The Roses‘ shows off, to much effect, another, more mature side to Hush Mozey, just how broad-ranging they can be, and should enable the Bristol collective to continue on their upward trajectory.









Doomsday Sun band photo

DOOMSDAY SUN (from l-r): Matt Hudson (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Tom Hubball (drums/vocals), Rhys Bryan (bass/vocals)


In 2017, Staffordshire metal collective Doomsday Sun unveiled their debut EP, ‘Red Light Fever‘, to a positive response.

Since then, the band have added another member, drummer Tom Hubball, boosted their profile on the local music scene with a series of doom-laden live sets, and been working on a follow-up offering.

Cult Of Stasis‘ was meant to be coming out this Friday, however, due to the current global coronavirus outbreak, the release date has been put back to later this year.

The three-piece’s vocalist/guitarist, Matt Hudson, spoke to me about the EP’s recording process, what can be expected from it, and much more.

How did the initial idea for your forthcoming EP come about?

The initial idea came about after an encounter with someone on our travels. He was a man whose world was falling apart around him, but he was so set in his ways that he couldn’t leave it behind. He was trapped in the past, essentially, and being left behind.

Cult Of Stasis‘ is a concept EP that tells the story of his life, his unhappiness with modern life, his attempt to escape it, and what ultimately goes wrong for him.

From where did the title ‘Cult Of Stasis’ originate?

Cult Of Stasis‘ is a nickname we gave to this man and his followers, for lack of a better term. His followers helped him preserve the past, and in turn, that’s where he kept them, so they were a group, or cult, of people, figuratively frozen in time, or in stasis, even.

How was the recording process for the EP?

Actually tracking everything was no problem. Recording went very smoothly, very little pre-production was required, and errors were minimal.

However, actually being able to just do that was the main issue, every obstacle you can imagine cropped up during the recording process, people lost their jobs, relocated, one of us even got hit by a motorcycle and had to spend nearly a month in hospital.

We lost a lot of time because of all this, but outside of the difficult periods, we can all say we really enjoyed doing it, and we’re proud of ourselves just for getting through it!

How would you describe the new release, musically and lyrically?

We write to reflect the story, so it’s pretty downcast and heavy, on both fronts. I’d say we straddle the line between rock and metal, so it’s more of a purposeful heaviness than outright aggression, but even so, there’s a couple of surprises on there.

Lyrically, it deals with the progression of time and some of the downsides to that, and the hurt that can come from a person’s failure to accept that progression.

How does ‘Cult Of Stasis’ differ stylistically to the band’s 2017 debut, ‘Red Light Fever’?

Cult Of Stasis‘ differs enormously from ‘Red Light Fever‘. In the past two or three years, we’ve become a lot more focused on maintaining a sound that is our own, and I think ‘Cult Of Stasis‘ is a really good representation of that, whereas with ‘Red Light Fever‘, I think it’s quite obvious we’re still developing a sound, and there’s songs or sections of songs that just sound out of place.

In addition, we’ve introduced the story element that ties all of the songs together. ‘Red Light Fever‘ was a collection of songs, but ‘Cult Of Stasis‘ is a collection of songs that tell a story.

And lastly, what can your fan base expect from the EP?

We’ve worked very hard to best ourselves since our last release, and I feel confident that we’ve done it, so fans who have enjoyed our music from the start can look forward to more of what they enjoy, but in an improved, more cohesive form.

Beyond the music, there’s a story there for fans to discover, if they so choose.

Doomsday Sun EP Cover