BLOOD YOUTH

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BLOOD YOUTH (from l-r): Max Dawson (bass), Sam Hallett (drums), Kaya Tarsus (vocals), Chris Pritchard (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Blood Youth, a four-piece melodic hardcore band from the small Yorkshire town of Harrogate, are currently one of the most exciting emerging talents around.

Formed two years ago from the ashes of Climates, they have released two positively received EPs and have gained a diverse, rapidly-growing following.

Even the loss of guitarist Sam Bowden and drummer Matt Powels to Neck Deep last year hasn’t put them off course.

I sat down and chatted with them about their music, recent EP and forthcoming UK tour.

How did the band initially get together?

KAYA TARSUS (VOCALS): The band is a culmination of friend groups and old bands.
Chris, Sam and I are all from a little town called Harrogate, and I used to be in a band there, and Chris used to be in a band there as well.

Chris’s band supported my band years ago, and it was literally just one of those things where you ring them up and ask them “Do you want to start a band?”.

I was living in Spain at the time, but I came back to do this.

How did the name Blood Youth come about?

CHRIS PRITCHARD (GUITAR): Before the name came about, we had two names, one of them was Blood Brothers, Black Blood, something like that.

Our manager at the time suggested the name Blood Youth and we were like “Okay”.

We found out later that it’s a sporting term for giving a younger generation a chance to play in sports teams.

To somebody discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?

CHRIS: Passive aggression.

KAYA: That’s a good way to describe it.

CHRIS: We’ve got something for everyone really, we’ve got both a The 1975 fanatic and a Slipknot enthusiast in the band, so we kind of merge the two together, we’ve got the heavy verses, we’ve got the singing choruses, there’s something for everyone.

KAYA: We have a really mixed fan base, there’s guys who come to our shows and they want to pit and fight, and then there’s other guys and girls who just want to come and sing along.

It’s really cool to see that as well, because we play so many different types of music.

Which bands/artists are you influenced by?

KAYA: There are so many.

The 1975, Every Time I Die, Architects, Issues, Slipknot…

Me and Chris have always had such admiration for hardcore, old school hardcore and stuff like that.

I’m a huge fan of Henry Rollins and how he conducts himself through music and everything, and I used to just worship Black Flag.

I wouldn’t say they aren’t any Black Flag influences on our music, but we take inspiration from so many different sources.

We also love grime and stuff like that, so yeah, lots of different stuff.

Your EP ‘Closure’ came out earlier this year. How well do you think the reaction has been, considering it was your first work without Sam Bowden and Matt Powels?

CHRIS: We got blown away by the amount of people who actually checked out our EP and bought or downloaded it.

When we got the first week’s numbers, we thought there had been a mistake, so we asked our label at the time to send it to us again.

We had another look and said to them “Are you joking? This seems unreal”, so yeah, everyone seems to love everything that we put out, and it’s good to see that people seem to understand the direction we’re heading in, which hasn’t been forced, it’s just been a natural progression for us.

There’s better songwriting, a better recording process and the guy we worked on the EP with, Jonny Renshaw, he absolutely killed it.

What’s your approach to songwriting?

KAYA: It usually takes a few weeks for us to, and this sounds very cheesy, gather inspiration for the songs.

I can’t just sit there and go “Something’s just come to me”, it’s usually when I’m writing lyrics, I’ll write about various bits and pieces about what’s been going on, something really shit that’s happened that week, and I’ll just write about that and send it off to Chris, who is a riff machine, and he’ll bang them out on his guitar.

We’ll all then get together and work together on it some more.

I would say we are very mixed in what our songs are about, there’s a song about my mum, there’s a whole EP about my ex-girlfriend…

CHRIS: There’s a song about your old apartment as well.

KAYA: Yes, there’s a song about an apartment I used to live in, sleeping on my friend’s bedroom floor and stuff like that.

The fact that people will come up to us and send messages which go, “I totally get what you’re saying there”, that’s all I ever asked for as a reception sort of thing.

You’re going on tour later this month. How is touring and playing live for you?

SAM HALLETT (DRUMS): I love it.

The first show I did after joining the band was in front of 1,200 people, but I love touring and playing shows, also the in-between parts between shows where we hang around and I get harrassed by Chris’s dad.

Less fun, but he loves it! (laughs)

CHRIS: My dad was our original tour manager, but he still comes on the road to enjoy himself and have a laugh with us.

SAM: Before that, it was the merchandise guy and he was even more of a laugh!

KAYA: I prefer being on the road to recording any day, I just love touring.

Have you got anything else lined up in the near future?

KAYA: We’ve got a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes at the moment, a lot of writing has been done, so we’re working on that.

Obviously, we’ve got our tour and everything, but it’s kind of difficult to say out loud what’s going on, because we never know what we’re allowed to say, and we’ve been told off once before for saying something we shouldn’t have.

But it’s all good, it’s all positive.

CHRIS: We’ve got a lot of future studio time as well, and some good stuff to look forward to.

What’s the band’s long-term aim?

KAYA: To headline Wembley.

Our manager said she’d get the band name tattooed on her if we ever get to play there.

At the time, we thought that would never happen, but now, it seems to be a rather positive goal to aim for.

We always shoot for the top, I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but you’ve got to be sometimes.

CHRIS: If you’re not, what are you in it for?

Apart from the fun, obviously.

BLOOD YOUTH WILL BE GOING ON A UK TOUR WITH ZOAX IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2016.

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CATCH FIRE

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CATCH FIRE (from l-r): Tim Bell (bass), Joe Askew (guitar), Miles Kent (vocals), Ash Wain (drums), Neal Arkley (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Catch Fire are a five-piece pop-punk outfit from Nottingham.

Formed eighteen months ago by four of the now defunct Layby with vocalist Miles Kent, the band have gone from strength to strength, with their debut EP “The Distance I Am From You” receiving a universally positive reaction when released earlier this year, gaining much praise for their sophisticated style of pop-punk.

It’s no wonder then that they are now well on their way to joining the likes of Neck Deep and WSTR at the forefront of the new wave of British pop-punk.

I caught up with them as they were preparing to play a set at the Macmillan Fest in their home town.

How did the band initially get together?

ASH WAIN (DRUMS): Catch Fire got together in March 2015.

We formed from other projects from before, and we’ve been going for a year and a half now.

MILES KENT (VOCALS): Me and Ash met through college.

He already had a project going on called Layby and they were looking for a new singer at the time.

We then had a few jams and shit, and then things got going quite well.

ASH: Our old singer had to leave because he had commitments elsewhere, and as I already knew Miles, I suggested him to be the new singer and he was more or less straight in.

How did the name Catch Fire come about?

ASH: We were trying to think of some names for a long time, and we couldn’t think up anything at all.

JOE ASKEW (GUITAR): I think we considered ‘Spin Cycle’ at one point.

ASH: ‘Spin Cycle’, yeah, we were coming out with stupid shit like that.

One day, I was listening to the lyrics of some songs, trying to get some potential ideas, and then the Fall Out Boy song “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today” came on, and there’s a line in it which is “Let’s play this game called “when you catch fire”, I wouldn’t piss to put you out, stop burning bridges and drive off of them, so I can forget about you.”

I took the “catch fire” from it and that’s how the name originated.

For somebody who is discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?

ASH: For the most part, it’s kind of upbeat and generally positive, then we throw a curveball in every now and again.

MILES: We like to spice it up, play with different types of images and things like that.

We take a lot of inspiration from indie and emo music, not just straight up pop-punk.

We like to keep things as different as we can, and just create something we can all like, and hopefully others like too.

We’re not trying to just do what everyone else has done.

TIM BELL (BASS): We’re into so many different kinds of styles, it just comes out.

Which bands/artists are you influenced by?

MILES: I think it’s pretty easy to say that between us, our main inspiration is The Story So Far.

We’ve all followed them since the start and they do play a big role in our writing process.

We just try and take as much inspiration from them as much as possible, because we’re massively inspired by them.

ASH: I must have listened to their entire discography about 300 times in a full cycle, it’s all I listen to! (laughs)

JOE: We have hardcore influences as well, we’re all big fans of Counterparts, and we all try and keep things as fresh as we possibly can.

MILES: Neal’s into more old school stuff like Angels & Airwaves and Blink-182, and me and Ash are quite keen on bands on the thrash wave of emo and pop-punk, such as Life Lessons.

What’s your approach to songwriting?

ASH: Usually, it’s Miles who will come up with a riff, because he’s a guitarist as well, and he’s got a setup at his house where he can record and jam stuff along.

Nine times out of ten, he will send us an idea he’s had for a riff and then it will build from there.

We’ll add some melodies to it and then take it into a full band practice and just build on it that way.

Then again, sometimes Miles will come around to my house with his acoustic guitar and then we’ll just write a song acoustically.

What inspires your lyrics?

ASH: Whatever’s going on. I wrote the lyrics for most of our first EP, and that was just from what people were going through day by day, like getting over depression and stuff.

I’ve never really faced depression to be fair, but I felt like I could explore how people with it felt, and I can see how people can get there by being in really bad relationships and stuff, and it was just trying to emphasise with that kind of thing on the first EP.

MILES: Me and Ash work together writing lyrics, we’ll either write a section and then the other person will build on it and work together, or we’ll both be sat at the side of each other, coming up with different kinds of suggestions.

We like to question a lot of things, if you listen to our first EP, there’s a lot of questions in the choruses and stuff.

We try and make people think rather than telling them something straight, we like to make them think about what their interpretation of it would be.

ASH: There’s a lot of metaphors as well.

You kind of have to look into it to see what it’s about, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be one specific thing, it could mean a whole host of different things.

You’re from Nottingham. How does it feel to be back in your home town?

TIM: Awesome.

ASH: Definitely the best shows we play are in Nottingham, we always have a great time whenever we play here.

We’re not at the stage yet where we can go far and play to lots people, but we’re trying.

We played a sold out show at the Red Rooms recently, and that was incredible.

MILES: We couldn’t really ask for a better home town to be fair, because every time we play here, it seems to go off and people seem to enjoy it, so…

ASH: There’s a strong music scene in Nottingham, and it’s nice to play to people you can relate to on a geographical level.

MILES: Hopefully one day, we’ll go to somewhere like Dublin, it’ll be sold out, and we’ll be playing to around 5,000 people. That would be ace.

What have you got lined up in the near future?

MILES: The next thing will be to release our second EP, which we’re currently in the process of recording.

How is that going?

MILES: It’s going great, we’ve been in the studio for about two weeks now and we’ll be in there for another week or so.

We’re just kind of getting the vocals done at the moment, and we’re trying to make it the best we possibly can.

We’ve been working in Derby with a super cool guy, who’s been making some cool suggestions and it’s going really well.

We’re proud of what we’ve made so far and it can only get better from here.

ASH: It’s definitely a step forward from the first EP, we’re developing a more mature sound.

I’ve felt we have grown a lot over this year, in terms of our songwriting and what we generally come up with, so we thought a more mature sound would be better.

What’s the band’s long-term aim?

ASH: To just try and get our music out to many people as possible, that’s the main reason, innit?

If we can make a lot of money from it, that would be amazing, but for the most part, I just want to play to sold out venues, hear a crowd sing back our lyrics to us, and just generally have fun.

Anything else to add at all?

MILES: Keep an eye out for our new EP, and we have a two week tour in October and November with These Minds.

ASH: Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages, which are called Catch Fire UK.

There will be more updates and details on there.

SISTER SHOTGUN

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SISTER SHOTGUN (from l-r): Tim Chambers (bass), Adam Yeardley (drums), Chloe Ozwell (vocals), Rob Hayes (guitar), Niall Wills (guitar).

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Sister Shotgun are a five-piece hard rock outfit from the West Midlands.

Over the last few years, they have impressed many with their intense but melodic musical style and distinctive live sets, which hark back to an era where image was just as important as the music.

With the band going from strength to strength, and with a new EP coming out soon, I thought it was the perfect time to sit down and talk with them in depth about their journey so far and what the future holds.

How did the band initially get together?

NIALL WILLS (GUITAR): It started with a massive, massive house party.

One of the guys was there and he asked me if I wanted to start playing with them, and it all expanded from there really.

How did the name Sister Shotgun come about?

CHLOE OZWELL (VOCALS): That was me. I’d been sitting on that one for a while, because I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it as a stage name or if it was going to be the band name.

I’m a massive Billy Idol fan, and I borrowed the name from a line in the song ‘White Reading?’

You mean ‘White Wedding’?

CHLOE (laughs): Yeah, what am I saying? ‘White Wedding’!

To somebody discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?

TIM CHAMBERS (BASS): That’s a difficult one, because the way I’d like to put it, and I hope others agree, I would call ourselves rock, but not quite heavy metal.
Growing up, there was always that band that would help you cross over into the metal scene, and that’s where I see us.

We’ve got the ballads, we’ve got the hard rock sections.

The thing is, genres are thrown around everywhere nowadays, there is so many different genres and sub genres, but I would class ourselves as hard rock.

CHLOE: Yeah, we’re rather eccentric as well.

With our stage shows, we wear costumes as opposed to the majority of bands, who go on in just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

TIM: Whenever we get the opportunity, we try to do as much as we can.

Obviously, we wouldn’t use pyrotechnics in small venues, because small explosives and low ceilings don’t mix!

Which bands/artists are you inspired by?

CHLOE: We have a wide range of influences, because we all have such varied musical tastes.

I’m more influenced by bands like My Chemical Romance, Green Day, whereas Tim’s into more extreme stuff.

TIM: Yeah, I’ve got a wide taste, but I do like the kind of heavier stuff, like Black Dahlia Murder, Faceless.

I do also like the more groovier stuff though, like Tesseract.

I only joined Sister Shotgun quite recently, so I’ve not really had the input the other guys have had yet.

I’m also in a band called Sentinel UK, which has a much heavier sound, but we’re a bit up and down at the moment.

CHLOE: Since Tim’s joined, he’s made us a lot better at arranging our songs.

We decided recently to reintroduce ‘Dirty Mind’ into our live set, and Tim had a massive hand in putting that back together with us, he’s really got a skill for it.

TIM: I enjoy more arranging, because if someone comes up with an idea, I’ll go and suggest to them “Why don’t we try this as well?”, and if that doesn’t work, we just scrap it.

I think it’s good to explore different ways of doing stuff, because you never know, it may work better than the initial idea.

You have an EP out before the end of this year, don’t you?

CHLOE: We will have an EP out, we’re not 100% sure when though yet, but we’re hoping it’ll be out by the end of this year.

We do have a name for it, we’ve got the artwork out already, and it’s being produced by Romesh Dodangoda at Long Wave Studios in Cardiff.

Romesh is amazing, he’s worked with bands liked Kids in Glass Houses…

TIM: Funeral For A Friend.

NIALL: Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon as well.

CHLOE: He has been fantastic to work with, and from what we’ve heard so far, it sounds huge.

I’m so excited!

NIALL: It has a very big sound to it, and it’s something you would expect from someone like Romesh.

CHLOE: Loads of vocal harmonies and backing vocals! (laughs)

What’s the band’s approach to songwriting?

NIALL: Basically, I spend ages messing around on my guitar, pretty much.

Sometimes, I’ll figure out different ways, but for me, it always starts with a riff, then maybe a chorus, then I’ll always leave space for what Chloe could do, then Rob will show me some weird music he wants to fit in the middle.

We just wing it really.

CHLOE: I feel it’s a really collaborative experience.

The guys will always start it off with the guitars, we’ll always have a riff, then Rob will work on the lead parts, we’ll then send it off to Adam, who’ll demo his drum parts, Tim will do some stuff on the bass.

I don’t usually touch the song until it’s pretty much finished, then I’ll add some lyrics to it and play around with the vocal melodies.

NIALL: Riff, structure, layer, layer, layer!

What inspires your lyrics?

CHLOE: I’m really big on the way Alice Cooper writes, he’s such an amazing songwriter, but it’s all fictional, I really don’t like writing from personal experiences, so depending on how I’m feeling at a certain point, I’ll figure out a fictional story in my head.

I mean, this whole EP we’re doing at the moment, there’s a running theme to it of death.

Will it be a concept EP then?

CHLOE: I would like to think that each track on the EP are little individual concept songs.

I’d love in the future to write a full concept album, but at the moment, I’m taking little snippets and making little stories, so you can get small flashes all through the EP, but yeah, the EP has a running theme of death, dealing with the death of an old personality, killers around you, killers in the government, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

How is it playing live?

CHLOE: It’s an experience, every gig is different in some way.

NIALL: We’ve been through several line-ups over the years, it’s been a case of restarting and getting in people who can really gel.

With the current line-up, we’ve really started to nail our live sets down, and we love the live circuit more than anything.

CHLOE: We do, yeah, and we’re making things bigger and better.

Recently, we played Fort Fest and we had a few girls on with us fire-breathing, so we’re looking to get more into pyrotechnics, when we can.

Every gig we play, it’s a learning curve, and we’re always looking at ways in which to expand and improve.

NIALL: Just little bits here and there, we don’t plan it, and at the end of the day, we just get on stage and have as much fun as we can, try and make a show of it, break our necks on stage, and come back with the biggest hangover we’ve ever felt! (laughs)

CHLOE: After all the recent gigs and the headbanging we’ve been doing, my neck is now about the size of a tree trunk.

What have you got lined up in the near future?

CHLOE: At the moment, we’re just fully focused on the EP and getting that out.

We’ve still got PR to contact, so there will be a PR campaign, we’ve got a few videos in the works, so we’ll be releasing them soon, and try and get the EP out by the end of this year.

NIALL: We’re currently talking to our manager about the possibility of doing some small tours, hopefully, something will come out of that.

What’s the band’s long-term aim?

CHLOE: I would love us to headline a big festival, preferably Download, because they’ve never had a female fronted headliner ever.

I’d love to put on the big show we dream of doing, with lots of props, pyrotechnics and great music.

NIALL: Every British rocker’s dream is to headline Download.

Anything else to say at all?

NIALL: Our EP will be out soon, so buy it when it comes out!

TIM: We’ll also be getting some videos and merchandise out soon as well, so look out for that.

LIBERTY LIES

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LIBERTY LIES (from l-r): Adam Howell (bass), Adam Stevens (drums), Shaun Richards (lead vocals), Liam Billings (guitar), Josh Pritchett (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Liberty Lies are an alternative rock band from the Black Country.

They have suffered a few setbacks over the years, but they have always carried on undeterred, and now all their hard work seems to be paying off, with them starting to get the acclaim and recognition that they richly deserve.

Having played with groups such as Shinedown and Halestorm and played a well-received set at Fort Fest this year, the five-piece are one of the best unsigned rock acts around.

I caught up with them before their set at the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham.

How did the band get together?

ADAM STEVENS (DRUMS): Me, Shaun and Josh went to school together and we started in 2008.

We did a few tours, released an EP, then Liam joined us in…when was it?…around 2012, 2013?

LIAM BILLINGS (GUITAR): It was around the time Reflections came out, so yeah, it probably would have been early 2013.

How did the name Liberty Lies come about?

ADAM: Yeah, there’s an interesting story as to how we got that name.

SHAUN RICHARDS (LEAD VOCALS): The name’s political, but we’re not! (The band all laugh)

ADAM: We started off pretty much as a hard rock band, so we kind of went initially with Liberty something, then we added ‘Lies’ to it because it sounded good and it fitted well.

To anybody discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?

ADAM: We class ourselves as alternative rock, however, a lot of people have recently come up to us and said we’re more metal.

We’re not massively into metal, but if that’s what people hear us as…

We would say personally that we’re a mix of Coheed and Cambria, Biffy Clyro, letlive. and Rage Against The Machine, that’s the sound we’re after.

You’ve already listed some of the bands you have been influenced by. Any others?

LIAM: Loads, man.

SHAUN: Like we just said, Coheed and Cambria, letlive. and Biffy Clyro are big influences for us.

JOSH PRITCHETT (GUITAR): Queens of the Stone Age as well, Fair To Midland.

SHAUN: Not many may have heard of Fair To Midland, but I challenge anybody to listen to them, and then come back and tell us how good they were.

What’s the band’s approach to songwriting?

ADAM: Generally, we write together. We all get in the rehearsal room, put a structure together, normally with a riff, then get down the basis of the song musically.

We will then sit together and write some lyrics.

JOSH: We have a few different techniques we use, so with one song, someone may come in with an idea for a riff or lyric, and we may build something around that.

With other songs, it may be rather spontaneous, we may all work together and do some jamming.

ADAM: We’ll typically jam a riff for a long time, then get the best bits and try and make something from that.

SHAUN: We have a new single coming out on the 14th October called Are You Listening? and that was literally us writing for the EP we’re doing at the moment, but nothing was happening.

Liam was playing around on his guitar, trying to come up with something, and then he came up with a riff on the spot.

We thought “That’s frustration”, so we started to build an idea around frustration, and what we’re most frustrated with now is the music industry.

LIAM: There’s quite a lot of spontaneity in our writing, there’s no sort of steadfast method, we just sit there, bash it out and bang our heads against the wall if we have to! (laughs)

Something then comes out of it and everyone’s happy.

What inspires the band’s lyrics?

ADAM: We’ve done a few different things. A few times, we’ve written stories, as opposed to specific things about us, and we’ve written about people we know.

Our last EP Fracture was quite focused on religion and atheism, and we do write a lot about our frustration at not being signed, the direction of the music industry, stuff like that.

JOSH: I think with our forthcoming single, we talk about how it always seems to be the cream that gets to the top, and how that works for a lot of people in the industry.

ADAM: It’s not necessarily a personal twist, because there are a lot of talented bands, talented artists that never see the light of day.

SHAUN: Then there are bands who sound exactly like other bands who seem to do well,
but at the end of the day, people just like what they like, I suppose.

JOSH: Going back to Fair To Midland, they were a great band, but not many people have actually heard of them, which is a real shame.

Your last EP Fracture, which you talked about earlier, came out last year. How did it go for you all?

JOSH: We were really happy with the final product that we had, but it’s been very difficult to get out there.

We did a feature in the German version of Metal Hammer magazine, but we didn’t get the exposure from that that we would have liked.

It was twelve months of our lives working on it which just disappeared, so ever since, we’ve been trying to be more business minded.

SHAUN: We’ve been working with Prescription PR to promote our new single, they’ve worked with artists such as Paul Weller and Lonely the Brave.

ADAM: It would be ironic if our new single was the one that helped break us through.

How is it playing live?

SHAUN: We love it, and it’s one of the main reasons we keep going, to be fair.

It’s great going around the country, playing to loads of different crowds, and doing it with your best friends.

We just love the atmosphere and energy of it all.

ADAM: To be fair, we travel for hours, don’t we? We typically play a half-hour set, so if we don’t put everything into it, it’s just a waste of time really.

What’s your opinion of the current state of the British music industry?

ADAM: Over the last couple of years, it has got better, there seems to be more decent bands coming through now.

I think for years, the problem was that you had to look like a Topman model to succeed in the music industry.

At the end of the day, we think we’re good at what we do, and if you write good music, then that should be what matters.

LIAM: It’s difficult to meet the criteria of the music industry, but at the same time, to hold on to your integrity.

You’ve already achieved a lot. Is there anything you would like to do that you haven’t yet?

SHAUN: Play Download.

ADAM: Earn some money! (The band all laugh)

JOSH: I think we haven’t reached the level of consistency that we would like to yet.

We’ve yet to play a big tour, but there’s been nearly ten years of hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes, so it might take us another two, three years to achieve that.

Also, we would like to do a full album that we are all satisfied with, then maybe another big tour after that.

What have you got lined up in the near future?

ADAM: We’re going on tour with Soil, Saliva and Sons of Texas in November, so that should keep us busy.

Like we said earlier, our new single comes out on the 14th October, and then around the New Year, we’re going to be doing some other stuff.

SHAUN: Hopefully, we’ll be completing our EP, getting that out and doing some shows to promote it.

ADAM: Yeah, we’re excited, and we’re hopeful that next year will be a good one for us.

THE NEW SINGLE FROM LIBERTY LIES, “ARE YOU LISTENING?” WILL BE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE OR DOWNLOAD ON THE 14TH OCTOBER.

MACMILLAN FEST – Nottingham, 03/09/2016

Macmillan Fest Preview photo

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTOS by GAZ DAVIES of Gaz Davies Media, CARRIE-ANNE POLLARD, ANDREW EVANS and ESME KNIGHT

Seven stages, almost seventy bands, one day.

The seventh Macmillan Fest took place in Nottingham on a grey, rain-laden Saturday afternoon in early September.

Despite the torrential downpour outside, it didn’t seem to dampen anybody’s spirits, as they had something else on their minds: to enjoy a day of quality rock, supplied by some top bands.

But the bands were not here to line their pockets with the revenue, they were here mainly for a good cause: to raise money and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support, with the organisers hopeful of adding to the £20,000 they have raised over the last seven years.

The festival got going at 1pm in the main hall of the legendary Rock City venue, with Leeds female-fronted hard rock outfit Chasing Dragons getting things off to a good start with a heavy, fast-paced set.

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An hour later, it was time to venture down to Rock City’s basement for Sister Shotgun, a metal group from the Black Country.

Fresh from a well-received slot at Fort Fest the day before, they vowed the crowd with a set which, both musically and visually, had an abundance of energy and intensity.

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Photo (C) Andrew Evans

Another band from the West Midlands playing the festival were Liberty Lies, who had also played Fort Fest the previous day.

They turned Rock City’s basement into one big moshpit, with a pulsating set aided by the screaming vocals of Shaun Richards and the sublime playing of the guitars, bass and drums.

There was also a connection with Sister Shotgun, with their frontwoman Chloe Ozwell joining them on stage for a collaboration, on what was her second appearance of the day.

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Photo (C) Esme Knight

Manchester alternative rockers Autumn Ruin were next in the basement, their set doubling as a launch for their newly released debut EP ‘We Make Our Own Damn Luck’ and sandwiched between gigs in London and at Fort Fest.

They played with much enthusiasm and it suggested that this is a group who are on the verge of breaking through on a substantial scale, so much so that I feel confident enough to say that the next Macmillan Fest they play, it will be as one of the headliners.

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Another band who have had a good year were Blood Youth, who were playing at Stealth nightclub.

The Harrogate outfit played a set consisting of a sound that was a fusion of pop-punk and metal that captivated the crowd, with each band member seemingly on top of their game.

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Rounding the day off at 9pm, back to where it all started in Rock City’s main hall, were legends SikTh, who have recently been on tour in the USA supporting Periphery, and had only arrived back in the UK the previous evening.

However, there was most certainly no sign of fatigue, as they almost literally raised the roof off the building with a highly-charged set, taking the fired-up crowd on a musical journey across the last sixteen years and the full spectrum of metal.

It was one of those gigs where everything seemed to go right and also the perfect way to end what had been a marvellous day.

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Credit must be given to Kris Davis and his team for putting on such a brilliant and smoothly run event where, like with the majority of music festivals these days, the objective was to make as much money as possible, but the crucial difference here was that it was for the benefit of those most in support on what must be a very difficult period in their lives.

TO MAKE A DONATION TO MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT, GO TO THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE AT www.macmillan.org.uk

SLAUGHTERED

Slaughtered interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Slaughtered are a four-piece thrash metal outfit from Stoke-on-Trent, consisting of vocalist and bassist Liam Stubbs, lead guitarist Dan Hankey, guitarist Carl Shaw and drummer Dave Basnett.

They place emphasis on a sound that is fast, heavy and loud, and their aim is to, according to their Facebook page, “give some good old fashioned traditional metal back into the Stoke music scene.”

With a promising future ahead, I met and talked with them all things Slaughtered.

How did you all get together?

DAN HANKEY (LEAD GUITAR): Me and Carl were friends and I taught him how to play the guitar.

He knew Liam and introduced me to him.

LIAM STUBBS (VOCALS/BASS): I said I could play the bass, but I lied.

DAN: So I had to teach Liam how to play the bass.

We ended up having a falling-out, so Liam left and then set up his own band some time later.

We buried the hatchet though, and he invited me and Carl to join his band.

DAVE BASNETT (DRUMS): They stole me from another band!

What band were you in before Slaughtered?

DAVE: I had been the drummer with Inscriptions, who we recently played with.

I left them and after two years of being bandless, I joined a deathcore band which Liam was a part of, and that was amazing, but Liam then left to start what would eventually be Slaughtered.

The original drummer left and they asked me to be the replacement.

I turned them down at first, but then they started saying some nice words, complimenting me on my drumming, and then I decided to take the slot in the band after all.

What was the name of the deathcore band you and Liam were a part of?

LIAM: What was it called? I can’t remember.

DAVE: It was something daft, along the lines of The Rested Dead, something like that?

How did the name Slaughtered come about?

DAN: It came literally out of the blue.

Before we had the falling-out, me, Carl and Liam had thought of names for the band that we were going to set up.

LIAM: I think we had the name Resurrection at one point.

DAN: One of us came up with Slaughtered, and that just ended up being our name.

We liked it because it just came up at random.

To anybody discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it?

LIAM: Heavy and crazy as fuck!

DAN: Thrash heavy.

DAVE: We looked online at videos from when thrash was starting out back in the day, and from when Download was good.

We looked at what they were doing, and we copied that pretty much!

What bands are you influenced by?

LIAM: The main band for us has to be Metallica. Also, Anthrax, Slipknot, bands like that.

DAVE: While I’m totally influenced by a completely different end of the metal genre.

What is the band’s approach to songwriting?

LIAM: We usually get a lot of song ideas just after we play a gig.

DAN: We’re influenced by thrash metal and the bands we play with. We then take the songs we’ve come up with and practice them.

How often do you get to practice?

LIAM: We usually practice twice a week at a place in Hanley called Crank Studios.

What inspires your lyrics?

LIAM: Personal experiences and the world around us. We try to reflect how fucked up the world is at the moment.

You’re from Stoke-on-Trent. What’s your opinion of the local music scene?

LIAM: It’s getting a lot better, with a lot of great new bands coming through.

DAVE: Twelve months ago, a few people I know came up to me and said that they thought the music scene in Stoke was dying, because nothing seemed to be happening.

But almost immediately after that, it started showing signs of improvement.

Now we’re featuring on the local music scene a lot more, I’ve been impressed with how much it’s improved in a short time.

Like Liam said, it’s getting better and more diverse, to the point where now, there’s a lot of Stoke bands who play a few different metal genres.

At the moment, there seems to be something for everyone.

How is it playing live?

LIAM: It’s quite an experience.

DAN: It’s just amazing being on stage, it really is.

DAVE: It’s totally different to the studio, I find.

DAN: Yeah, it really is, isn’t it?

LIAM: Playing live, you can really hear the solos, rhythm and vocals and feel the vibrations.

You can also clearly see everyone in the crowd is up for it and having a good time.

CARL SHAW (GUITAR): When you play well, playing live is really easy.

Do any of you suffer from any pre-gig nerves?

LIAM: For me, not any more.

DAVE: I still get nervous, but the other guys don’t really. They’re so lucky!

DAN: I don’t get as nervous as I used to.

The very first gig I did at the Sugarmill, I very nearly had a panic attack just as I was about to go on, but after I got that first gig out of the way, ever since, it’s all been fun.

LIAM: On stage, we all seem to get this big adrenaline boost that gets us through.

DAN: I’ve noticed that we seem different when we’re off stage compared to when we’re on.

Has there been any moments to forget?

DAVE: The second gig we ever did, my drum sticks came flying out of my hand, and Liam just looked at me and walked away.

LIAM: I was a bit drunk, though.

DAVE: You’re always drunk when you’re on stage!

Is this true, Liam?

LIAM: Yeah, I’m always the one that is drunk even before we get on stage!

Carl and Dan, they’re the sensible ones.

DAVE: I did have an incident around five years ago, this was with my old band, where I got absolutely legless, and the show just didn’t happen for me.

It was that, and the fact that the venue we played had a terrible sound system.

If I had known that was the case, I probably wouldn’t have got drunk.

Ever since then, I’ve never drank before a gig.

It says on the band’s Facebook page that you have some stuff coming up. Can you possibly give me any more information on this at all?

LIAM: Yeah, we’re going to start getting some proper recordings done.

DAVE: We currently have a little arrangement with Crank.

LIAM: Yeah, so it’s all golden.

Will you be getting a producer in to help you with the recordings?

CARL: Sean, the guy at Crank, will be giving us a hand, and we hope to get an EP out.

When do you hope to get the EP out by?

DAN: Hopefully by around Christmas.

How many songs are you hoping to get on to the EP?

DAN: I’d say about five.

CARL: We’ll probably stick to our live setlist, but we may change the order around.

DAVE: We are writing some new songs at the moment, and we’ll probably add them to our setlist.

If they get a good reaction, we’ll consider adding them to the EP, so there could be around eight or nine songs to choose from, which will hopefully give us some variation.

What’s the band’s long-term aim?

LIAM: To get out of fucking England.

CARL: To definitely try and becoming a world touring band.

DAVE: The good thing about music is that you don’t have to be really big to go on tour.

Just play your music to more crowds, by that you’re increasing the fanbase.

That way, you can get quite well-known and go on to play in some cool countries without the need to become as big as Metallica.

I think that is a realistic aim for us.

DAN: An aim would be to play with any of the ‘Big 4’.

LIAM: It would also be amazing to play with some of the good up-and-coming thrash bands.

CARL: There have been bands from around Stoke who have gone on to support the likes of Soulfly, and there’s no reason why we can’t go on to do the same.