A Few Too Many band photo

Essex-based anthemic pop-punkers A Few Too Many announce their arrival, with their debut album ‘Lessons Learned’ to be released through all platforms on May 19th, hitting you with slamming power-pop thrusts and monolithic hooks that nod towards US megastars Green Day and Blink 182; the conclusion is all consuming.

Established at the end of 2009, and born out of a love for pizza, partying, puns and humour, A Few Too Many are comprised of vocalist Michael Achilles, rhythm guitarist/ vocalist Danny Freeman, Jez Giles on lead guitar, bassist/vocalist Ricky Ives, and Sam Howell on drums. Wasting no time, the emerging quintet ploughed themselves head first into playing as many shows as possible, and have already created a stellar live reputation by delivering highly intensive and energetic performances. Besides a budding live status, the band have also picked up praise and coverage from Scuzz TV, Blank TV, Amazing Radio and BBC Introducing, to name a few.

The irrepressible five-some reveal the next chapter to their manifesto with the release of their debut album. The record boasts eleven engulfing tracks and it’s crammed with upbeat guitar parts and melody-drenched choruses so contagious, they’ll require an exorcist to free them from your head. From the stupendously catchy ‘I Always Knew’, through to the anthemic ‘Reason’ and their triumphant new single ‘Moving Forwards’, A Few Too Many have created a supremely tuneful debut that is laced with delectable refrains and rampant vigour.

A Few Too Many Cover












2Far2Jump band photo

High flying pop punks 2far2jump are to reveal their mouth-watering debut EP ‘First Attempts At Everything’ on Friday 5th May.

Formed at the start of 2015, the Surrey outfit are comprised of lead singer Alistair Hynes, guitarist Rupert Barker and Aaron Mann on drums. The ascending tunesmiths supremely fuse uplifting melodies with punchy phrasing and are braced to break out to the UK this year.

Raised on a hearty diet of Blink-182, All Time Low, Neck Deep, Paramore, and Green Day, the trio have crafted a sound of their own, while also embracing their contemporaries. To date, the band have enjoyed a strong slew of support from the underground, and dropping three singles and playing a glut of successful shows has only added to their ever-growing stock.

Now the scene is set and it’s time for the Guildford three-piece to strike out to a global audience, and they are armed with the perfect tool in the shape of their explosive new EP ‘First Attempts At Everything’.

The release boasts six alluring tracks, from the deliciously tuneful opener ‘Set Your Goals’, which has already been earmarked as the band’s next single, to the enticing refrain of ‘Deepdene'(which you can view the video to at, as well as the alluring beatings of ‘Think For The New Days’.

Listen upon listen, it’s evident that 2far2jump have created a real gem of a debut and it warrants your attention.

2Far2Jump Cover








HIGH TIDES – ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’ (4/5)

(Scylla Records)

High Tides Cover


Having burst onto the scene last year with their impressive debut release ‘Home Truths’, Nottingham quintet High Tides have unleashed a follow-up, ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’.

Consisting of eight tracks, this mini-album sees the band use the usual basic elements of pop-punk as a base on which to build a mature and well-crafted sound.

The songs are fast-paced, containing catchy choruses and pulsating but harmonic guitar riffs, however, at times, it can differ somewhat.

For example, the track ‘Realisation’, which serves as a little interlude at the halfway point of this offering, shows the five-piece going down a more emo route, with the gentler melody showing exactly how they can set themselves apart from the average pop-punk outfit.

The lyrics are hard-hitting, dealing with themes of heartbreak, failed relationships and big decisions, as well as making mistakes and eventually learning from them, sung with raw emotion by frontman Christian Litchfield.

This is a mini-album crammed full of strong songs, with ‘Bridges’ arguably being the one that has the most strength and depth, dealing frankly with a point in time where somebody has to make a decision that will affect their life for the better or for the worse, this serves as a great example of how mature the band can be both lyrically and musically.

In conclusion, ‘I’m Not Giving Up, I’m Just Starting Over’ is a release that represents High Tides making a real step up, and shows that pop-punk outfits can do music that can have much attention to detail paid to it.

TOP TRACK: ‘Bridges’





Malthouse band photo

MALTHOUSE: Back row (from l-r): Jon Finney (guitar), Kieran Oakes (vocals/guitar) Front row: Ryan Taylor (bass)


Malthouse are a three-piece blues/soul outfit from Stoke-on-Trent.

In the near three-and-a-half years the band have been in existence, they have received much positive feedback from critics and fans alike, praising the trio for a well-crafted sound that takes in a host of genres and is also an effective showcase of their talents.

‘Extracts of the Soul’, the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to their well-received debut ‘Staveley Sessions’, will be released soon, and promises to be even better.

I chatted to them prior to their set at The Exchange in Hanley.

How did the band get together initially?

JON FINNEY (guitar):  I suppose it was me and Kieran, we’ve always been playing guitar together, Ryan’s always been knocking around as well, so we introduced him into the fold, and there he was, and that’s pretty much it really.

How did the name Malthouse come about?

KIERAN OAKES (vocals/guitar): It came from Malthouse Road, a road that ran between all of our houses.

In your own words, how would you describe your sound?

KIERAN: Soul, predominantly soul, rock, pop, R ‘n’ B…

JON: Blues.

KIERAN: Yeah, a bit of blues.

JON: A bit of Sixties pop in there as well.

KIERAN: We sort of try and take all these older genres, so to speak, and make them a bit more contemporary.

JON: We wouldn’t describe it as being one single word, I don’t feel confined by genres, so there’s a lot of stuff in there.

What are the band’s musical influences?

JON: I think that’s different for all of us, but I think, Kieran, if you…

KIERAN: Mine, I’m the vocalist, so obviously, I like to listen to good vocals, soulful vocals, where the singer might have a good range, i.e. Aretha Franklin, Solomon King, lots of soul artists, but I do listen to some more contemporary people like Childish Gambino.

JON: I think amongst the three of us, there is definitely a Beatles influence, a lot of old bands.

KIERAN: We’re a band at the end of the day, so we do like The Beatles.

JON: As a guitarist myself, I like Jimi Hendrix, and I think Ryan’s the same on bass as well, anybody like that, any kind of big blues players, we do enjoy listening to.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

JON: Initially, I would say that Kieran writes the base of a song, and then we’ll all come together, and…

KIERAN: A few chords and the melody are done in my bedroom, then we will take it to rehearsal, practice whatever, and sort of evolve the song together.

JON: We all just add our own little bits to it, so as Kieran says, he’ll put together the base of the song, Ryan will come in with bass, I will come in with the guitar, or sometimes, Ryan will do that.

KIERAN: It’s kind of all done during practice, really.

JON: It’s sort of all improvised on the day, we see what works.

The band are all from Stoke-on-Trent. What is your opinion of the current local music scene?

JON: I think it’s very varied, there’s a lot of good artists that do tend to get overlooked on the regional scale, but in terms of the quality, I think it’s very good.

KIERAN: Yeah, I would say that as well, the quality is immense. I don’t know who it is who asked these talent scouts and music moguls out there to by-pass this area, I’m not sure, but there’s plenty of good bands around here, for example, The Red Kites, who are supporting us tonight, I went to see them recently, and they were unbelievable, I thought they were really good.

JON: You can’t really question the music scene of Stoke, it’s more the nature of how people go to gigs and listen to music, it’s not really the same as it is in the big cities, where people will go out on a Saturday night, watch a random band, and then fall in love with them. Here, you would have to purposely go out to watch a band.

KIERAN: You have to do the groundwork.

JON: Yeah, it’s the same for any band around here, the quality’s unquestionable, it’s the way you get people to fall in love with the music.

How was the reaction to your debut release ‘Staveley Sessions’?

JON: Brilliant.

KIERAN: Very good, yeah. The best gig we played for that was at The Old Brown Jug in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

JON: Yeah, The Old Brown Jug, that was two years ago now, and it was probably the best gig we’ve ever done. A very good turnout, very low-key in terms of the way it was run on the night, but it got us a lot of exposure, which worked really well.

KIERAN: The place was rammed. We had photographers, people reviewing the gig, family, friends, people we had never met before. There was a lot of positive feedback afterwards, and we managed to sell a lot of CDs. It was a game changer, basically.

The follow-up to that, ‘Extracts of the Soul’, is coming out soon, some of which you will be playing tonight. What can we expect from it?

JON: It will mainly be an evolution of our sound from ‘Staveley Sessions’, and it will show how we’ve progressed.

I think we looked at ‘Staveley Sessions’ a few months back, and we thought it sounded a lot thinner than what it could potentially be now. I mean, the vocals have progressed, my guitar playing has also progressed.

KIERAN: We’re still developing as artists, individually, and as a band collectively, so obviously, the music and the sound will have evolved along the way.

JON: Going back to the point that our genre is undefinable, that’s what we want it to be, therefore, we don’t feel confined as to what we need to have on the EP, so we’re not bothered about sticking to the sound of ‘Staveley Sessions’, we’ll change as necessary as in the terms of where we are in that moment in time.

Currently, we’re in a more soulful vibe than we were at the time of writing our debut release.

KIERAN: ‘Staveley Sessions’ was more Sixties pop.

JON: And I think that is where we have changed.

How is it for the band playing live?

JON: Excellent, yeah. We really do enjoy playing live, but there’s been a difficult patch within the band over the past year, because there’s been a lot of change, what with losing a drummer, and in terms of our careers outside of music, so it’s been difficult at times to balance, but now, we feel more comfortable with where we are in our lives and being able to put time aside for our music.

Apart from your forthcoming EP, what else is planned for the near future?

JON: We have a live session booked for the end of this month with Sam Bloor, who’s an excellent producer, and we plan to play more gigs in places outside of Stoke.

Where would you like to play?

JON: Anywhere, Manchester, Birmingham, London, any of the big cities, really. Any opportunities we get to play those places we’ll take now, because again, we feel more comfortable with our music and where we are to be able to balance everything.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

JON: To be honest, I don’t think there is a long-term aim, I think we’ll take each thing as it comes, we’re happy to just see how it goes, anything beyond that is a bonus.

KIERAN: I’m 23 years of age currently, and when I’m in my forties, I would like to have physical copies of what we’ve done, just so we can say: “We played at that venue” and “This is a song we recorded.”

JON: We’re not suggesting we don’t want to get signed or anything, we’re living in the real world, and you just want to have stuff in front of you, and be able to listen to it.

Anything else any of you would like to say at all?

JON: Support Stoke-on-Trent for UK City of Culture 2021!

















The Red Kites interview photo


From the town of Alsager, right on the border of Staffordshire and Cheshire, three-piece The Red Kites (formerly known as The Noise), are an outfit that pride themselves on producing, in their own words, “A continuous evolution of soulful sounds!

Since forming in 2013, the trio, comprising of vocalist/guitarist James Biddulph, bassist Aidan Willis, and drummer Nathan Lally, have received much positive feedback for their work, both live and recorded.

I caught up with the band just before their set supporting fellow locals Malthouse at The Exchange in Hanley, and this is what they had to say:

How did the band get together initially?

JAMES BIDDULPH (vocals/guitar): Me and Nathan were in a three-piece band called The Noise, but then the bass player left, so we just put an advert out, and that’s how Aidan joined us.

At the moment, we’re currently going through some changes to our line-up, Jim Richards will be joining us, so we’ll be becoming a four-piece in the near future.

How did the name The Red Kites come about?

JAMES: There’s quite a serious explanation for this, to be honest. My wife’s an artist, and unfortunately, we lost the father-in-law. On his last birthday, she drew for him a picture of a red kite, and it was quite a nice drawing.

I also did a song called ‘Red Kite Blues’, and I thought The Red Kites sounded like a good band name.

In your own words, how would you describe your sound?

JAMES: It’s kind of retro, sort of folky, heartfelt, soulful singer-songwriter stuff.

What are the band’s musical influences?

JAMES: Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, folk stuff, Sixties bands such as The Beatles and The Kinks, also a bit of Motown.

NATHAN LALLY (drums): I’ve always thought that some of our songs sound a bit Fleetwood Mac-ish, early Fleetwood Mac.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

JAMES: It’s just usually on acoustic, really. An idea for some lyrics will come in, then a melody, and I build it up from there. Then, I’ll take what I’ve done to the lads, and they will then put an arrangement to it.

To be honest, there’s a lot of trial and error, some arrangements work, others don’t.

The band regularly feature on the Stoke-on-Trent music scene. What’s your opinion of the state of it currently?

JAMES: It’s alright. There’s a lot of good people about, but like anywhere, there’s always room for improvement. A lot of local bands seem to know each other, which is nice, for example, I know Tom Lockett, who’s playing with us tonight, and there also seems to be a real community spirit around here, but it would be nice to get a few more people into a few more places, so we can build up the ranks a little.

How has the reaction been to your music so far?

JAMES: Yeah, it’s been good. We released a four-track EP last year, ‘The Game Changer’, which we sold out of copies of quite quickly, but it’s also available on Soundcloud, and a lot of people on social media and that have said good things about it, so at the moment, we’re just trying to build on that.

How is it for the band playing live?

JAMES: It’s good, isn’t it?

NATHAN: We played the Lymelight Festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme a few years ago, and that was a good. Playing on a stage outside, you get a different sound, so we’re looking forward to playing there again in May.

JAMES: We played The Glebe in Stoke recently, and that was our old guitarist’s last gig with us, that was good as well, we’ve also played here at The Exchange a couple of times, The Underground too.

What’s planned for the near future then?

JAMES: At the moment, we’re actually recording a single, it’s going to be a bit different, heavier, and we’re also hoping to do a video to accompany the single, so we’re looking forward to all that.

We’re also playing a gig in Alsager on March 25th with Nixon Tate and The Honey Club, they’re doing well at the moment, the Lymelight Festival in May, and there’s something else, I can’t say anything on that right now, but there will be an announcement from us soon.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

JAMES: To keep going, to just play as much as possible, to get to a point where crowds come to see us, and to try and get as much recording done as we can.

We’ve done a lot of songwriting, it’s just getting it out there, to be honest. It’s been tougher than any of us first imagined, but it’s important just to keep going.








Vexed interview photo


Vexed (formerly known as 2 Years 2 Late) are a fledgling band from Stoke-on-Trent, comprising of vocalist James Keenan, guitarist Jake Walker, bassist Declan Myatt and drummer David Swee Heng Loo.

Even though they are yet to release an EP, the outfit are already enjoying a good reputation on their local music scene.

I spoke to them a few weeks back before their live debut, supporting Construct at The Underground venue in Hanley, the renaming of the band, and the departure of former lead guitarist Jacob Morris, who the other members wish well in his future endeavours.

How did the band get together initially?

JAMES KEENAN (vocals): Well originally, around three or four years ago, I started a band called 2 Years 2 Late with Declan and another guy who isn’t in the band anymore, Aidan. He ended up leaving, because he didn’t really want to be associated with us.

So then, I found David through college, and I said to him that I wanted to start the band up again. We kept the name, we all got together, and that’s how it all started.

How did the name 2 Years 2 Late come about?

JAMES: It was originally the name of my old friend’s band. They split and I asked them if I could use it. There isn’t really much more of a story behind it, to be honest.

How would you describe your sound?

DECLAN MYATT (bass): Grunge with its nipple out! Really, I don’t know, because at the moment, we’re trying to find a sound that we are most comfortable with, because it is all over the place currently.

JAKE WALKER (rhythm guitar): This is because we all listen to different types of music, but if I had to describe it, I’d say we were not too heavy, more alternative indie pop.

What are the band’s musical influences?

JAMES: For me, Enter Shikari are a big influence. The noise they make, the sound they produce, the wonderful way Rou Reynolds delivers the vocals, and the messages they put across in their songs, I would like us to do something like that with our music. What about you guys?

DECLAN: If I could play anything as close as to how good they are, I would say my big influences were Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot, because those are the kind of bands I listen to. I also agree with James though about Enter Shikari.

JACOB MORRIS (lead guitar): I’m more of an Eighties rock man, I just love those classic riffs!

JAMES: Yeah, our music is just one big mess! (laughs)

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

JACOB: Oh, that’s me, so the way I write a song is that I’ll take something from my life and try and turn it into a story, even if it comes from the smallest thing.

We’re currently working on an EP called ‘Gateway Drug’, and all the songs I’ve written from that we’re playing tonight. Each song tells a story about a girl, and how girls and women are like drugs, with each story giving a different take on how they are.

JAMES: When we put the melodies together, I’ll sing it in some funny way, and one of the other guys will play along with me. Then, we’ll all go: “Damn! That sounds good!“, and we’ll go from there.

The band have already released a few demos. How has the reaction been to them so far?

JAMES: Quite a few people like ‘IV High’, it’s a really catchy song that we have, and that has led to the promoter of The Sugarmill in Hanley offering us a gig there, because he wants to see how we sound live.

With tonight being our first gig, we want to focus more at the moment on being a live band.

You just mentioned there that tonight is your live debut. How are you all feeling right now?

DECLAN: Really excited, but a bit nervous at the same time. I can’t lie, I’m shitting myself!

JAMES: What makes it more nerve-wracking for us tonight is that we differ slightly from the other bands that are playing, and also we have less experience.

You said earlier that you were putting together an EP. When will that be released?

JAMES: I would say in the next four months, after we’ve played some more live gigs, because we want to practice the songs that we’ve got again and again, before we write any more, because we think that’s important.

JACOB: Further to what I said earlier, every track on ‘Gateway Drug’ is about something that’s addictive. One song is about arson, another is about a good looking girl, and so on, so yeah, we can’t wait to get it out.

You were mentioning earlier about the possibility of doing more live gigs. Will you be keeping yourself to the local area or will you be planning to branch out somewhat?

JAMES: As far as we’re aware, our next gig after this one will be on April 21st at The Sugarmill.

After we’ve done our set, we’ll chat to the other bands and see if we can get some more gigs sorted out. We have been getting a few offers though, because I think people are keen to see how we sound live.

We’re also playing a charity event soon, in aid of Marie Curie, so we can get some more experience of playing live together.

I know it’s still early days for the band, but what is the long-term aim?

DECLAN: We’ll have fun for now, but if it gets serious, it gets serious, and we would love to turn this into something we can both enjoy and make some money from.
I love the live experience, having played in other bands at gigs before, and it’s really exciting to see a crowd enjoy your music.



















MALTHOUSE – The Exchange, Hanley, 04/03/2017

SUPPORT: The Red Kites, Tom Lockett, Rachel Ferguson

Malthouse review photo


The Exchange is a place that has firmly established itself as a key venue on the Stoke-on-Trent music scene in recent years, and it had a great opportunity to show exactly why with a Saturday evening playing host to a mix of local musical talent.

Headlining were modern soul/blues trio Malthouse, who were there to give everyone a sneak preview of their forthcoming EP ‘Extracts Of The Soul’.

Kicking things off was singer-songwriter Rachel Ferguson, a relative newcomer to the Potteries. Despite a sparse crowd, she impressed those that were there, playing a set that consisted of her gently strumming a guitar to a sound that fused together elements of folk, alternative and lounge, coupled with a vocal delivery reminiscent of Lana Del Rey.

Next up was another Stoke singer-songwriter, Tom Lockett, who already enjoys a good local reputation. He proved this, channelling his inner Bob Dylan (complete with harmonica!) with a strong performance, mixing intelligent lyrics with a sound that was a combination of folk, jazz, blues and Sixties psychedelia. After seeing Tom, it is clear that a bright future lies ahead for him.

By the time last support The Red Kites took to the stage, the venue had started to fill up nicely, and the people who had just turned up were in for a treat. The outfit played a quality set, utilising a diverse range of musical genres to create a sound that was eclectic and a good listen.

There was much anticipation in the run-up to Malthouse’s headline set, with the now capacity crowd eager to see if their forthcoming release, which they were playing for the first time live, could top their well-received debut EP ‘Staveley Sessions’.

Judging by what I saw of them, it is safe to say that they have done exactly this. The new tracks they performed showcased how they have matured and developed, and I could also definitely get the feeling of abundant passion from them, which was present in the way they played their music. The audience seemed to agree, giving a universal positive response, which shows much promise for the recorded version, which will be out soon.

Yet again, going to a live gig in Stoke-on-Trent has proved to me that the local scene is currently one of the best-kept secrets in British music, and if the city is chosen later this year to succeed Hull as the UK’s City of Culture, then the rest of the country will get to find out just how rich and diverse it truly is.