Slam Dunk 2017 Poster


On Saturday May 27, the Slam Dunk Festival, the UK’s biggest celebration of all things pop-punk, will be making its first stop of 2017 at the National Exhibition Centre.

It will be the second year that the Birmingham venue has played host to this annual event, which will also take in Leeds city centre and the University of Hertfordshire’s Hatfield campus over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

Starting life in 2006 as a small one-day gathering in Leeds’s Millennium Square, with Fall Out Boy headlining (I wonder what happened to them?), Slam Dunk has grown on a monumental scale ever since, now being held at three venues across the UK over three days, and attracting a real mix of both established and emerging bands from not just pop-punk, but also from a whole other host of music genres, including emo, metal and ska.

2017’s festivities promise to be the biggest yet, spread over eight stages, with headliners Enter Shikari playing a special set to mark a decade since the release of their debut album ‘Take To The Skies’.

Just a handful of the other established outfits that have been confirmed are Don Broco, Neck Deep, Bowling for Soup, recently reunited Madina Lake, and We Are the Ocean, who, sadly, are playing what they say will be their final ever live shows.

As well as all that to look forward to, Slam Dunk will continue its reputation for giving fledgling talent a platform, with Area 11, Vukovi, Ocean Grove, Homebound and others playing on the Breakout stage, which this year has been curated by Rock Sound magazine, who are also giving one lucky unknown band the opportunity to shine on a huge live platform.

With everything that will be going on, May 27 and the NEC are the date and place to be to see this year’s Slam Dunk festival kick off in style.




Different Light band photo


Originally from Malta, but now based in the Czech Republic, five-piece Different Light have been entertaining proper music lovers for the last two decades with a powerful, melodic sound heavily influenced by progressive rock.

Having released their universally acclaimed fourth studio album, ‘The Burden of Paradise’, early last year, the band are currently preparing for a busy rest of 2017, with them starting work later this year on a follow-up, as well as getting out there and playing to their devoted fan base.

I recently spoke to the quintet’s frontman, and sole surviving founder member, Trevor Tabone, and this is what he had to say to me:

How did the band get together initially?

The band was formed in Malta in 1995 when myself got together with three friends and decided to play music together. After I moved to Prague in 2000, I reformed the band, and after various line-up changes, we now consist of: myself (keyboards, vocals), Jirka Matousek (bass), Petr Matousek (drums), Petr Lux (guitars, backing vocals) and Petr Kania (live guitars).

How did the name Different Light come about?

I was out drinking in a bar with Mark (original guitarist) one night, when he thought of the name, it was the one we thought was the best the next morning….

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

We have been described as being neo/crossover prog (whatever that means!), I suppose we’re a melodic, piano/guitar based band which uses a lot of unusual chord changes!

What are the band’s musical influences?

Genesis, Supertramp, Rush, Pink Floyd, Camel, Yes are all bands that we grew up with, so I guess it’s this kind of music.

What would you say was the band’s approach to songwriting?

I write most of the material myself, then present it to the band, where we rearrange and develop it, and then Petr Lux gives it the final flourish. We always go in to record with the music already developed, bar a few minor changes.

Where does the inspiration come from for the band’s lyrics?

Mostly from what I see and experience in everyday life. Love, hate, hope, delusion, human emotion in general, we don’t do fantasy!

How was the reaction to your latest album ‘The Burden Of Paradise’?

The reaction has been nothing short of phenomenal. Reviews and fan reaction (and sales!) have been fantastic, and we want to have the same thing with our next album…and I’m sure we will!

What is it like for the band playing live?

We’re more of an album based band, so we haven’t played much live, but we’re planning to play some gigs later this year. When we do, it’s always great though, we try to recreate the emotion and power of the recorded songs, and it usually works!

What have you got lined up in the near future then?

As I’ve just mentioned, we’re planning to play a few gigs later on this year, plus I’ve finished writing an album which we plan to start recording after that.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

To have our music remembered long after we’re gone!






Amycanbe band photo


Hailing from Italy, indie/alternative outfit Amycanbe comprise of vocalist Francesca Amati, guitarist/bassist Mattia Mercurali, keyboardist Mattia “Matta” Dallara, and drummer Marco Trinchillo.

Since their formation over a decade ago, the four-piece have garnered much acclaim from critics and fans for their sound, which is a combination of the band’s varied musical interests.

Popular in their native country, Amycanbe are also respected on the British underground scene, and they now have their sights on the rest of Europe.

With their latest album getting rave reviews, I chatted to the quartet about their journey so far, and what’s next for them.

How did the band get together initially?

Me and Marco started playing together as an instrumental acoustic duo only, then, after some months trying to find a singer, Marco met Francesca during an in-house concert. We fell immediately in love with her voice and the magic happened, so then, we invited her to join us, she accepted straight away, and we started making concerts as soon as Paolo joined on winds.

For several years, we played as a four-piece, starting from bars around our local area, then eventually to wider audiences across Italy, the UK, festivals etc…

We then added a second guitarist for our second album ‘Mountain Whales’, but two years ago, two of our bandmates quit and they were both replaced by our historical producer, Matta, so now, Amycanbe are a four-piece again, comprising of Marco, me, Mattia and Francesca.

How did the name Amycanbe come about?

It had to be something like ‘It’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’! Francesca has a very good friend called Amy, and the name Amycanbe just came to us. It had a great sound to it, though. I don’t think there are any other reasons behind it, to be honest.

To somebody who is just discovering you, how would you describe your sound to them?

I used to call it, ironically, “Music for not-so-young people“, meaning that it could, to someone, sound slow and meditative…(laughs). It is often dreamy, anyway.

What are the band’s musical influences?

All four of us listen to a lot of different music, and we love to share the listening, often with disastrous results!

We have definitely widened the spectrum of our music, art and culture since we started, that is down to us playing and spending a lot of time together.

There’s so many bands and sounds that have influenced us over the years that it would be difficult to describe it or say a few names, but as I like saying names and numbers, I’d say (for my own personal taste): Radiohead and Jonny Greenwood above all, also, Kraftwerk, The Beatles, Stereolab…

What is the band’s approach to songwriting?

We don’t have a strict method as such when we decide to write or record. Some of our songs are pretty much done when we enter the studio, others get transformed during the recordings.

We sometimes write songs in teams, or more often than not, they are written by Marco in his home studio, with piano and keyboards, and he will also provide a rough arrangement, as he is a talented multi-instrumentalist, but anyway, we just do what affects us emotionally, we also try to explore new territories, and we always like to have new dreams and all, you know.

So yeah, we don’t really have a formula or strict rules, we have what I’ve just said.

Where does the inspiration come from for your lyrics?

Francesca mostly writes from what she reads in books and magazines, and also from stories other people tell her, I have to admit that I find her lyrics to be at times cryptic, but I think that’s probably because she likes to leave the edges open to her mind and to other people’s minds as well.

How is it for the band playing live?

We really like playing live, but this has become sort of a challenge to us over the years, because we’ve had some line-up changes, however, it has also provided us with opportunities to re-arrange things and try out some new solutions, it does keep you alert.

We always try to play as much as we can, we are currently touring Italy promoting our latest album. We have also been writing some new stuff, because we really want, and need, to record a new one!

What have you got lined up for the near future then?

At the moment, we’re playing gigs in Italy, and some festivals too. Hopefully, we will be touring Europe soon, and you can follow our movements on our Facebook page.













Bad Llama band photo

BAD LLAMA (back row, from l-r): Gaz Waddell (drums), Kyle Jordan (vocals), Sam Wyatt (guitar) (front row, from l-r): Dan Houlbrooke (guitar), Lewis Hutchings (bass)


Bad Llama are an alternative rock/metal quintet from the Midlands brewing town of Burton-on-Trent.

The fledgling band specialise in an eclectic sound that is diversely influenced, and can switch from soft and melodic to heavy and aggressive with ease.

The five-piece have already successfully released their debut EP ‘Shedding Skin’, and are being tipped as one to watch out for in the near future, having been championed by BBC Introducing East Midlands and respected Kerrang! Radio DJ Johnny Doom.

I recently chatted with them about their journey so far, and this is what they had to say:

How did the band get together initially?

The band formed at Burton and South Derbyshire College by Dan, Sam and Gaz who were studying music technology at the time. We started off as just an instrumental band, but soon realised that we were lacking a frontman. After a few years, we recruited Kyle, who was a close friend of Sam’s from secondary school; the two of them hadn’t connected in years, but it seemed to fit straight away. Lewis joined the band as permanent bassist only a few months later, and since then, the band has just kept on progressing. We originally went under a different name, so have only been writing music as Bad Llama since last year.

How did the name Bad Llama come about?

When the band first formed, we began our rehearsals at a small independent studio in the village where Sam, our guitarist, lives. The studio was actually a farm converted into a small rehearsal space occupied by llamas and other various farm animals. The llama connection seemed to stick with us and we named one of our earliest songs ‘Bad Llama’, and years later we decided to use it as the band’s name as it just seemed to have a certain ring to it, as well as it being a small homage to our roots.

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

This has always been quite a difficult question to answer because of the diversity in our music. We are all influenced by so many styles, which seems to result in an overall blend of alternative rock/metal. We are very progressive and like to experiment with industrial sounds, which is quite evident in our latest EP ‘Shedding Skin’. We vary a lot with our sound, we like to mellow it out and be really melodic, but then ramp it up and be really harsh and aggressive.

The producer we worked with, Gavin Monaghan, described us recently as “Frailty, beauty and brute force“, which is probably the best description we have heard regarding our sound.

What are the band’s musical influences?

Our influences seem to be dominated by a lot of early Nineties rock. However, we are all influenced by many different eras and genres. Our influences can range from bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and Pearl Jam, all the way to Bring Me The Horizon, Korn and Tool. Bands we have been likened to can be an eclectic mix of Faith No More, Biffy Clyro, System of a Down and all of the previous mentioned.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Individually, our approach is quite different, but with the five of us in the same room, it seems to happen very naturally. Some of the best music we have written comes out of thin air and happens very spontaneously, usually originating from a jam, riff or drumbeat.

Sometimes, the process can be harder and some of us sometimes don’t know what we are doing for sure until we get into the studio, as that’s when you can really hear everything properly for the first time. We all contribute equally to the songwriting and we don’t think our music would be as good if we didn’t do it in this way.

Last autumn, you released your debut EP, ‘Shedding Skin’. How was your experience recording it?

Recording the EP was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a band. Every moment was enjoyable, whether everything was going smoothly or even if something wasn’t quite working. The creativity that surrounds the studio is incredible and it’s also great just to get away and have no distractions from the outside world.

We recorded the EP in four sittings, all the way from October 2015 to August last year, at Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton with Gavin Monaghan and Joseph Murray. We cannot say enough positive things about them both and we are privileged to be able to work with them. They are fantastic at what they do, as well as being really nice guys, and they fully deserve all the high praise that they receive.

How was the reaction to it?

The reaction has been really good since we released the EP. Our lead single ‘The Wolf You Feed’ received a lot of good feedback and was aired on Kerrang! Radio several times. Both ‘The Wolf You Feed’ and ‘Paint In Sound’ have been played on BBC Introducing too. We have had many good reviews and all feedback we have received directly through social media or in person has been great.

What is it like for the band playing live?

Playing live is probably just about as good as it gets in terms of being in a band. We definitely feel like the band comes to life on stage, and the overriding feeling of different emotions whilst playing is indescribable. We throw everything into our live performances, and our live energy is something we pride ourselves on.

What do you have lined up for the rest of 2017 then?

We are currently in the process of writing and recording our follow up EP to ‘Shedding Skin’, and we are hoping to have released this by the end of this summer.

We also have numerous shows lined up including a few at the 02 Academy 3 in Birmingham, and we also hope to release a few more music videos this year.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

Just to keep writing music that we connect with and hopefully that other people do too. Music is our lives and it would be a privilege to be able to make a living in this industry. We never want to give up, as so many good bands we have had the pleasure to play with over the years have, and it’s often a real shame. We are just going to stick at it and see what the future brings.






















Everyday Sidekicks band photo

EVERYDAY SIDEKICKS (from l-r): Sam Hughes (bass), Tim Brown (guitar), Archie Hatfield (vocals), Josh Armitage (drums)


Bristol four-piece Everyday Sidekicks are an outfit that have truly made their mark on the British post-hardcore scene in the last eighteen months.

Their heavy, aggressive and anthemic sound, combined with energetic vocals and diversely influenced lyrics, has impressed many critics and has enabled them to build up a loyal following.

With the recent release of their second EP ‘Hope’, which is the quartet’s most substantial offering to date, I chatted with frontman Archie Hatfield about how it was all put together, and what’s in store for those who have yet to listen to it.

How did the band get together initially?

We actually formed because we were in another band a few years before, it was just a bit of fun playing some covers at a few local venues, but we did manage to grab a show in London at a place called The White Lion which was pretty fun!

Eventually, I left and formed another band in a different style, which wanted a more serious approach. I then drafted in a few of the guys and some other people I knew to form Everyday Sidekicks.

How did the name Everyday Sidekicks come about?

We were stuck on a name for a while! We wanted something that represented the fun side of our music, but was also unique and not like anything around. We brainstormed a few ideas and eventually combined them to make Everyday Sidekicks!

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

Dirty riffs and big choruses, with a lot of energy and passion.

What are the band’s musical influences?

We have a wide variety of influences that are pretty specific to each member, but there are a few we share. I’d say our top four were A Day To Remember, Architects, Blink-182 and Bring Me The Horizon.

Individually though, we all have our own things that help us be unique. I myself am a massive fan of letlive., with the energy I put into my performance being inspired by them.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Normally, Tim sits down and writes the basic song, then it goes back and forth between me and him a few times until the song is almost perfect. After that, I start working on the melodies for the music, at this point, the song can change a little as I’m writing, but never majorly.

Eventually, the song falls into place and is ready for the studio. We do always enter the studio expecting the songs to alter a lot though, so as a vocalist, it’s always good to have a few variants of lyrics and melodies about.

You recently released your debut EP ‘Hope’. How did the recording process go?

Recording with Tom Manning at the Monnow Valley studio in Wales was insane! We can’t thank him enough for what he did for us. We came out with a completely different sound to what we were expecting, but we absolutely loved it.

And what can anybody who has yet to listen to it expect?

Expect dirty riffs and big choruses. You will definitely be able to move to this live if you come to a show! We put a lot of passion into this EP and covered a lot of different areas that people can relate to.

How is it for the band playing live and touring?

Incredible! We feel at the moment that we have hit a point where we know the set inside and out. We are all confident as hell when we play live and we know we work well as a team, plus the banter is on form in the van at the moment so that always helps.

What do you have planned for the near future then?

We have a lot of stuff in the pipeline, we are already writing new music, we have a few festivals we haven’t announced yet and also, a few tours we are planning as we speak, we will be announcing more in the near future!

What is the band’s long-term aim?

To make as much music as we can for as long as possible, we will be happy to hit a point where this becomes our full-time life, and it’s starting to look that way, which is great!






















Triverse Massacre interview photo

TRIVERSE MASSACRE (from l-r): Chris Kelsall (guitar), James Graham (guitar), Mike Collins (drums), Liam Stark (vocals), Jason McEwan (bass)


Since their formation in 2010, Cumbrian metal five-piece Triverse Massacre have been steadily building up a loyal fan base with their aggressive, energetic, mosher-friendly sound, and have also established themselves as a fixture of the British underground metal scene.

However, it has been in the last twelve months that the band have made a real breakthrough, finally getting the widespread recognition for their music they have worked so hard to get these past seven years, as well as playing last summer’s Bloodstock Open Air festival with such legends as Slayer and Twisted Sister.

With a new EP, ‘Hades’, out next month, which promises to contain the strongest collection of songs they have produced up to now, I chatted to frontman Liam Stark about their journey so far, and what the future holds for the Carlisle quintet.

How did the band get together initially?

Initially, me and Jamesy had just left a band but wanted to continue playing, that’s when we got in touch with Mikey who we knew from our local rock club, he was a DJ there. After some messing around with the line-up, a few years ago, we found Chris and Jason who were playing in and around the local scene, they had heard we were looking for another guitarist and bassist, so we reached out and it kicked off from there.

How did the name Triverse Massacre come about?

We were joking about how often we get asked this the other day and how we should have come up with something easier to explain! It’s a bit late now!! Basically, you have universe, which is a singular verse that we exist in, then you have a multiverse, which is a hypothetical set of possible universes, including the universe in which we live, so we took the multiverse, multiplied it by three and caused massacres in all of them… Triverse Massacre, mainly we thought it sounded cool and unique, oh and its TRIVERSE not TRAVERSE… Just for people’s reference in the future.

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

I’d say the most apt sub-genre we’ve ever been boxed in is progressive heavy groove death metal… But I’d rather just say we were a metal band – I think you cut off a lot of your potential audience when you get bogged down in sub-genres, plus they take far too long to say. We play loud aggressive metal with a shit ton of energy that you can’t help but bang your head to.

What are the band’s musical influences?

Collectively, we have quite an eclectic range of influences and music tastes, but our sound is mainly evolved from the heavy metal/rock umbrella, unsurprisingly. Metallica, Lamb of God, Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, At The Gates, Slayer. On our new record, bits of Behemoth and Gojira, stuff like that, bits of black metal thrown in here and there for good measure, you can’t beat some dirty keys in there.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I don’t think we do anything out of the ordinary. Riffs get thrown about at a practice, if people smile at the right times, it gets repeated and Mikey will stick some drum beats under it, and I’ll have a few shouting fits just so I get to join in. Then it’ll get taken away and James and Chris will work on it, record it roughly and send it out. I’ll usually have ideas of vocal patterns from listening to it at practice, I’ll listen to the rough recording, put some lyrics to it, and then take it back to practice and see what happens from there.

How has the reaction been to the band’s music?

It’s always been really positive – surprisingly really positive. It’s a really strange experience people complimenting something you’ve poured all your time, energy and creativity into. I suppose you’re in somewhat of a vulnerable position when you play your material, it’s open to interpretation and out there to be ripped apart, luckily, that’s never happened. To have people compliment it and big it up and say how much they enjoy it is awesome.

Also, watching people from the stage, seeing people look at each other, smile and nod, then start a pit is such an amazing feeling. Just looking out and thinking “That’s it, they get it“, that connection through something we created, it’s amazing.

You have a new EP, ‘Hades’, out next month. How has recording it been?

Recording went really well, and really quickly. Just going to shout out to our partner in crime, Jordan (Red Leader) Embleton, he used to be in Xisforeyes and Nexilva, as well working with Black Tongue previously. He’s a super talented dude and based at The Custom Space in South Shields, where we also recorded our previous EP, ‘With Bared Teeth and Truths’. The guy just made the whole process really easy. We hammered through the tracks, and it took a day for each instrument including vocals.

And what can listeners expect from it?

‘Hades’ is the EP we wanted to write when we first started, but we lacked the skills and the knowledge at the time. Its just full of balls out, death metal tunes – the few times I’ve listened back to it, it’s given me that kind of burning, angry rush that kind of rises through you. There’s something very urgent and unnerving about it – in a good way I’d hope.

Last year, you played at the Bloodstock Open Air festival. How was that for you all, playing alongside such bands as Slayer?

Unbelievable – that’s the only word I can use to describe it. I’d been to Bloodstock numerous times before. I remember, like most people in bands I’d assume, looking at the bands on the stage and drunkenly murmuring to my mates that I wanted to be up there doing that. To be able to do it was unbelievable. The whole process, from The Metal to the Masses heats, to the final, to the journey down there, the anticipation on the day, the staff backstage, the crowd, just everything about it was amazing, hands down Bloodstock is the place to aim to play if you’re in a metal band, and we were privileged to be given that opportunity.

Aside from the EP, what else does the band have planned for 2017?

We’re currently in the process of finding a location for our first performance video, which should be fun, and we’re also in the process of booking a tour at the heels of ‘Hades’ being released on the 26th May; we have a special early release show on the 22nd April with Divine Chaos at The Brickyard in Carlisle for people wanting to grab a copy early. We want to get out and play as many shows and festivals as we possibly can.

What is your long-term aim?

To get signed to a label would be amazing. We also want to head over into Europe, and play a few shows over there.  We just want to be out there doing it, showing people what we can do, and hope they enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoy doing it, work tends to get in the way, so if we could all fuck that off, that would be great!













The Hubbards interview photo

THE HUBBARDS (from l-r): Joe Orlowski (drums), Ronan Burns (guitar), Reuben Driver (vocals/bass), Alex Green (guitar)


Originally from Hull and now based in Leeds, four-piece The Hubbards have a lot of buzz around them at the moment.

They truly arrived on the scene last year with their acclaimed debut EP ‘Cold Cut’, which showcased the band’s sound, a mix of indie, grunge and pop, taken from a range of retro and contemporary influences.

It is no wonder then that they have been tipped for big things in the near future by the music press.

Having recently unveiled a new single, ‘Just Touch’, which builds on the momentum they generated with their first release, I decided to have a chat with the emerging quartet.

How did the band get together initially?

We were all mates at Catholic college. We couldn’t play football and we didn’t like praying, so we’d hang out in the music rooms teaching each other guitar.

How did the name The Hubbards come about?

We have a good friend called Joe Hubbard. He didn’t pick up guitar as quick, so he didn’t make the cut in the band. We named ourselves after him, made him manager, and he’s been with us ever since.

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

Grunge pop.

What are the band’s musical influences?

Jeff Buckley, The Strokes, Kate Bush, and the Pixies.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We play through little guitar licks and riff for days on end until it sounds a bit like a song. Then, Reuben will write some lyrics.

Last year, you released your debut EP, ‘Cold Cut’. How was the reaction to that?

It was great! It was the first time we recorded more than one song at once, so it was cool to have something physical and substantial enough to give out to people to say: “Hey, this is where we’re at and what we do

The band have just released a new single, ‘Just Touch’. What can listeners expect from it?

Plenty of gigs, and maybe a couple of festivals.

And will your new single potentially lead to another EP, or maybe even an album?

We’re not sure yet. At the moment, we’re writing, but with no album in mind. It will probably be another EP. Everyone loves an EP.

The band are originally from Hull, which is this year’s UK City of Culture. Do you think that will be a boost to the city’s music scene at all?

Big time. We love Hull, it’s always home. The music scene’s always had it going on, but City of Culture is definitely helping propel Hull acts to bigger and better stuff. Viva la Hull!

How is it playing live and touring?

Live is what we do best. We’re never fully happy with a tune until it’s proved itself at a shit gig to four people. That’s how we know what to keep for the big ‘uns.

Touring can be tough; we’ve slept in cars and stayed in some real dives, but it’s the best way for us to get out there and meet new people.

Aside from the single, what else do you have planned for the near future?

(Ryan) GIGGS!

What is the band’s long-term aim?

Personalised drumsticks.