CATALYSIS

Catalysis band photo

CATALYSIS (from l-r): Sean Ramson (rhythm guitar), Callum Rennie (drums), Col MacGregor (vocals/bass), Drew Cochrane (lead guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Since forming in late 2016, Scottish four-piece Catalysis have been fusing together elements of groove, thrash, and death metal to bring their growing legion of followers a metalcore sound that is distinct and original.

Having unveiled their debut EP, ‘Into The Unknown’, to good reviews last year, the band are now eager to show how they have progressed musically with a self-titled follow-up, to be released in the run-up to Christmas.

To tell me about that, and more, was the Dundee quartet’s lead guitarist, Drew Cochrane.

How did the band get together?

My old band split up right around the same time as our drummer Callum’s old band, so we decided to get together for a jam and see what happened. It went well, so I brought in the other guitar player from my old band too (although he has now left and has been replaced by Sean, who incidentally played bass in the old band).

How did the name Catalysis come about?

It’s actually quite a lame reason, but basically, we were struggling to come up with names, and my dad had mentioned to me in the past that he’d always wanted to use that name for a metal band (he plays predominantly in punk bands), so I thought I’d put it to use for him.

The word is to do with chemical reactions, though, something science-y that we only have a loose grasp of.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I’d say our typical approach is that generally either Sean or myself will bring a song to the band, more or less musically finished as a recorded demo with programmed drums, and then from there, we’ll iron out any parts that we’re not 100% convinced about in the rehearsal room.

Once we’ve cemented the music, Col will demo his vocals over the track, and we’ll start to work on vocal arrangements and backing together. Usually, because I like to cause myself unnecessary stress whenever I can, I leave writing solos to the last minute when we’re sending off the finished tracks for mixing.

We do sometimes write together in a room as a band too, but most of the time, someone is bringing the bulk of the song to the table pre-written, and the “in the room” part is just the polishing.

What inspires the band lyrically?

On the new EP, there are a couple of tracks which more or less cover the fact that humanity is a brutal destructive force (‘Nothing Left’, ‘Deadline’), a song about the Highland Clearances (for those who don’t know, a very dark period in Scotland’s national history), and a couple of songs that are more about personal things – dealing with struggles and making choices, etc, so we cover a few different angles with our writing.

Actually, our last EP had songs about fantasy stuff, as our old singer was super into Dungeons and Dragons, etc.

Last year, you brought out a debut EP, ‘Into The Unknown’, to good reviews. How was the response to that for you all personally?

The response was great, and obviously as a new band with a first release, we were pretty happy about it.

However, the last EP didn’t really reflect the band, as it was written before Sean or Col joined the band, and they had no real input to it. I think the other thing that somewhat diminished the positive feedback to the EP was that we weren’t massively happy with the production.

Open Eyes Productions, who mixed it, are great, but I think we tried to have too tight a control on the sound, and they didn’t really know how to achieve the sound we wanted, so we ended up with something that wasn’t their best work, and wasn’t what we wanted either.

Next month, the band will be releasing a self-titled follow-up. How has the recording process been?

The recording process for the new EP couldn’t have been smoother. It’s 2018, which means that we’re able to do a lot of the recording ourselves these days – this is great, because it helps keep costs down, and the quality up, as we have as much time as we want to track parts and experiment with layering things without worrying about breaking the bank.

The drums were all tracked at a local studio, then we recorded all the guitars, bass, and vocals at my house, then we sent them off to be mixed.

I think we worked a lot more collaboratively on this EP than on the last one when it comes to recording too – especially when it comes to vocals, as a lot of ideas were bounced back and forward during the tracking process, and everyone recorded their own backing – on the previous release, Sam (our previous singer) took almost complete control, and there was no input (in terms of ideas or actual singing) from anyone else.

I think, as a result, the new EP is stronger and more varied.

And the upcoming EP has been produced by Mendel bij de Leij, of legendary death metal outfit Aborted. How has working with him been as an experience?

It was a great experience. I reached out to him after seeing an advert on Instagram for his mixing services, as I’ve been a long term fan of Aborted, and always enjoyed his solo music, which he mixed himself.

He was super easy-going, and worked with us to attain the perfect sound for what we were trying to achieve. He mixed three of the tracks as singles, then remixed the whole lot to sound coherent as a release when all the songs were done. The mix crushes – he knew exactly how a band like us should sound.

He’s also really friendly and really professional – I couldn’t recommend working with him more.

Also, how will the EP differ to ‘Into The Unknown’?

Compared to ‘Into The Unknown’, there’s probably less of a death metal vibe because of our change in singers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some heavy growls in there, but Sam predominantly used super harsh vocals.

On the new EP, there’s a bigger focus on strong melodies – almost all the songs have a big vocal hook somewhere. That’s not to say that we’ve softened up, or are trying to write commercially, but we’ve tried to write more distinctive, memorable parts.

The songs themselves are (largely) shorter and more to the point, and there’s a stronger emphasis on both groove and texture – there are more up and down moments. We still have big riffs, we still have guitar solos in each song, but it’s all just more refined, more precise.

How is it, for the band, performing live?

Performing live with the current line-up is a treat. The new songs are going over really well, and we’ve all really upped our game.

One of the big things about the writing of the new EP was how much we put into layering up the vocals and using everyone’s talents to the best effect, so pulling that sound off live and replicating it was a challenge at first, but now that we’re nailing it, I think it gives us a more dynamic and interesting live show too.

There’s a lot of movement on stage, and we’re all really passionate about what we’re doing, and I don’t think with previous line-ups, there was that energy or passion.

What are your initial plans for 2019?

For 2019 so far, we’ve booked our first international show – which is at the Aggressive Music Festival in the Czech Republic, and we’ll be adding some more shows in Belgium, Germany, etc, en route to that show.

We’ve also got a couple of Scottish shows confirmed, and a few more in the works too, even though one of our big focuses this coming year is going to be getting out of Scotland more.

It’s tough, because we all work, and two of the guys have families, etc, but I think basically, we want to take the success we’ve had in the latter half of 2018, and press forward with that.

In terms of new music, there will definitely be a release again next year, though at present, we’re not sure what form it’ll take. It looks likely we’ll be doing an album, but there’s a number of factors to consider with that, including the cost. We’ve already got three or four songs written for it though, with skeletons of another four or so too.

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

This one is really easy: to have fun. We’re not under any illusions about who or what we are. We’re four guys with good jobs, some of us are married with kids, etc, and we can’t be giving that all up to tour around Europe sleeping in a van for three months at a time, but what we can do is continue to release quality music as often as we can, and to get out there and play as much as we can without causing a divorce.

Catalysis EP Cover

THE SELF-TITLED SECOND EP FROM CATALYSIS WILL BE RELEASED ON DECEMBER 14, AND THE BAND WILL BE PLAYING A LAUNCH SHOW FOR THE EP IN THEIR HOME CITY THAT EVENING, FURTHER DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

Catalysis EP launch show poster

MORE INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.

THE EGO RITUAL

The Ego Ritual band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Twelve months ago, vocalist/bassist Jim Styring, guitarist William Ward, and drummer Gaz Wilde, got together to form a three-piece by the name of The Ego Ritual.

In May this year, the Lincoln trio unveiled their debut single, entitled ‘Chakra Maraca’, which showcased a clean-cut, positively vibrant slice of psychedelia, with the inclusion of elements of progressive rock.

With that track getting an overwhelmingly positive response, most notably from the underground music press, the band will be releasing a self-titled debut EP early in the new year, and Jim was ready to chat to me about this, and more.

How did the band form?

I had known William, our guitarist, for years, back to when we had been in several musical projects together, but we had gone our separate ways, and subsequently lost touch.

Fast forward to 12 months ago, and there’s a knock on the door. I answer, and William’s stood there with a guitar, asking if I wanted to write some new songs, and I had been toying with the idea of putting a new band together, so William’s arrival came at a perfect time.

I knew Gaz, our drummer, as the owner of a studio where I had previously recorded. We sent him a couple of tracks, and he was interested in doing something with us.

He’s a great drummer, he knows just what a song needs, and more importantly, what it doesn’t. He wasn’t afraid to step outside the box, and his comfort zone, and push himself.

It all came together pretty fast, so I guess stars aligned.

How did the name The Ego Ritual come about?

Finding a suitable name can be tough, as any band will tell you. The Ego Ritual just came to me, and the same thing happens with lyrics, as it’s often when I’m not consciously thinking about them, they arrive, and it was later I realised that The Ego Ritual made perfect sense.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Most of the songs come from a guitar idea from William. He’ll send a bunch of ideas over, and I’ll write to the ones that grab my attention and speak to me. He has so many great ideas, I’m sometimes spoilt for choice.

We’re certainly not short of material. If you’re lucky, songs write themselves. These tracks felt almost fully formed very early on in the process, again, like they’d come to us from somewhere else.

We just went with them, wherever they wanted to go, and we weren’t mindful of the classic three and a half minute limit, if a song took six minutes to say what it had to say, then six minutes it was. There were, and are, no rules.

What inspires the band, lyrically and musically?

I have said this many times, but it’s far more important what the listener thinks, than what the writer had in mind. I’m quite guarded over specific lyrical meanings, you can read into them whatever you want.

‘Chakra Maraca’ can mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people. No one’s right, no one’s wrong. I know what it meant as I wrote it, but it’s all interpretation. It’s music to tap your foot to, or to dig deeper and have a look.

Our songs are like those 3D pictures you stare at. You spend some time with them, and a whole new world will then present itself.

In May, you brought out a single, entitled ‘Chakra Maraca’, which was very well-received by much of the underground music press. How was the reaction for you all personally?

Our first recording, our first single, had to make a statement. We wanted to announce our arrival. It hints at what’s to come. The reaction has been very positive, so we’re looking forward to people hearing the EP.

And speaking of the band’s self-titled debut EP, coming out on January 18, how has the recording process been for that?

It’s gone great. As I previously mentioned, Gaz is also the studio owner and engineer, and he has done a superb job, above and beyond the call of duty. We haven’t rushed things, we’ve allowed them to develop at their own pace, and we’re very happy with how it’s sounding.

And what can be expected of the release?

People who understand ‘Chakra Maraca’ and “get” it, will be drawn to the other songs. There’s certainly a thread running through them, not just in sound and influence, but feel, it’s almost a spiritual thing.

Music finds you, you don’t find it. If it’s for you, you will be drawn to it. If people like what we’re doing, then great. If people don’t like what we’re doing, then that’s okay, too.

We’re here for the people that connect with us and join the dots. There are subtle ways to hypnotise people.

How is the experience, for the band, performing live?

I will let you know, when we have done it. We made a decision early on to concentrate on the recordings, before performing the songs live. I see many bands eager to hit the road, without having the songs. We’ve built the foundation first.

EP aside, what have you all got planned for the early part of 2019?

We were lucky enough to be asked to play the annual, Fruits de Mer Records, ‘The 17th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus’ Festival, next August, on the strength of ‘Chakra Maraca’.

We’re very much looking forward to that, as we’ll be in great company, and in previous years, it has sold out.

We also plan on writing more songs, and releasing a further EP, at some point early next year.

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

To continue to write and record. You can set unrealistic goals and set yourself up for disappointment, but as long as the ideas keep coming, and we feel we have something to say creatively, we’re happy.

The Ego Ritual Single Cover

‘CHAKRA MARACA’, THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM THE EGO RITUAL, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S SELF-TITLED FIRST EP WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 18, VIA KOOL KAT MUSIK.

FURTHER INFO ON THE EGO RITUAL CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

EMERGING MIDLANDS ALT-ROCKERS SONDER REVEAL NEW SINGLE

Sonder band photo

Emerging alternative rockers Sonder plan to break from the underground with the release of their mesmerising new single, ‘A Wicked Place’. This mouth-watering track takes from everyone from Nirvana and Biffy Clyro, to Arcane Roots and Basement, and the single can now be accessed via all key platforms and services.

Formed in late 2016 in Staffordshire, Sonder have formed an engrossing sound that mixes the grit of grunge, meshed with colossal guitar riffs and pop sensibilities.

Bursting onto the scene last year with their debut EP, ‘Papered Cracks’, the band soon earned a reputation for delivering highly energetic shows; such praise saw the foursome pick up a run of shows with Fangclub, Fizzy Blood, Sick Joy, and The Fallen State.

The band continued their climb this August with the release of the first single, taken from their forthcoming untitled EP, out in January 2019, and the track, entitled ‘Karma’, was happily backed by a headline slot at Birmingham’s O2 Academy.

Sonder push on again with their new single, ‘A Wicked Place’. Vocalist and guitarist, Kraig Fallows, talks about the track: “‘A Wicked Place’ is the second single from our upcoming new EP. It is about dealing with depression and anxiety. It’s about trying to pretend everything is fine, whether you’re convincing yourself or others, and struggling to deal with the smallest things and being scared to ask for help. The track is influenced by my own personal battles.”

Sonder Single Cover

‘A WICKED PLACE’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM SONDER, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S SECOND EP WILL BE RELEASED NEXT JANUARY.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

BITCH HAWK

Bitch Hawk band photo

BITCH HAWK (from l-r): Henrik Holmlund (drums), Andreas Hourdakis (guitar), Patrik Berger (bass), Fred Burman (vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

What do you get when a hugely successful songwriter behind such tracks as Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’, an internationally-renowned jazz guitarist, a highly-skilled drummer, and the vocalist of an extreme metal outfit all join forces to form a band?

You get Swedish four-piece Bitch Hawk, who have united to give you one of the most unique, fiercest blasts of metals you’ve heard in a long time.

Not content with bringing out one album, their self-titled debut, in 2018, the quartet recently unveiled a follow-up, entitled ‘Joy’, and I spoke to frontman Fred Burman about both releases, the collective’s journey so far, and what him and his bandmates have lined up for Bitch Hawk in the near future.

How did the band get together?

Andreas, Patrik, and Henrik had the band in a more theoretical sense for a couple of years, and they approached me to join in late 2016, I think.

At that point in my life, I was craving to do more aggressive music, and given the line-up of members, it was a no-brainer.

How did the name Bitch Hawk come about?

The name was already in place when I joined. They wanted something stupid, and stupid, it is. Gloriously so.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

For ‘Joy’ (the band’s recently-released second album), we set out to cross-contaminate old Megadeth with Lumpy and the Dumpers, and in my mind, we nailed it.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We’re kind of a new band, although we’re already two albums in. I would say we’re still very curious about each other, and fascinated with the stuff everyone brings to the table when we’re writing.

Every idea inspires a new one. The best kind of creative environment.

Earlier this year, the band released their self-titled debut album. How was the reaction to that?

Mostly rave reviews, but also a couple of stinkers, so I guess we can be quite polarising, as it should be.

And recently, you unveiled its follow-up, entitled ‘Joy’. How was the recording process for that?

Pelle Gunnerfeldt (Fireside, the Hives) recorded and mixed the album in Gröndal Studio in Stockholm. It was pretty much recorded live in a day and a half with some vocals and a couple of guitars recorded in Patrik’s studio the following week. Real smooth, no fuss.

How does ‘Joy’ differ to the debut album?

It’s more intense, more to the point, more Bitch Hawk. I’d recommend a listen!

How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?

For me – a taste of iron in my mouth, sometimes a broken rib (happened about a year ago), and a sense of JOY.

And finally, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

We will be doing shows, as candid and furious as they come, and there are currently several in the pipeline, which we’ll be announcing soon.

We’re going to change the world, one show at a time.

Bitch Hawk Album Cover

‘JOY’, THE SECOND ALBUM FROM BITCH HAWK, IS AVAILABLE NOW, VIA ADRIAN RECORDINGS.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

SOUNDCLOUD

 

DESERT CLOUDS

Desert Clouds band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Originally from Italy, but now based in London, Desert Clouds are a four-piece who specialise in an alluring, atmospheric style of alternative rock, containing elements of stoner and psychedelia, influenced by a broad range of bands and artists.

Having been busy in the studio putting together a concept album, entitled ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’, coming out next January, the quartet’s frontman, David Land, chatted to me recently about that, as well as a host of other band-related topics.

How did the band get together initially?

Desert Clouds was formed by a bunch of guys who, among all the things they were doing together, music was that one which allowed them to express freely all their emotions and hopes. That strengthened their friendship and put new incoming members in front of a sort of family rather than a simple band.

That’s how everything started, and that’s how it has always been so far. All genres and music approaches we play and have are just consequences of our moments and growth throughout the years.

How did the name Desert Clouds originate?

It comes from a song we released in 2008. Looking for a band name, we noticed that the song’s lyrics strongly represented the way we see life, in fact, they are about a state of mind where all ideals, hopes, gods and thoughts are, metaphorically speaking, described as clouds that pass by and vanish, leaving you roaming around a desert which represents life in its essence, and, sometimes, you even wonder if those clouds were real or simple mirages.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It’s pretty simple and spontaneous. To be honest, I don’t sit down and think about writing a song or about its subject, and I don’t really try to dig in ourselves to find the right inspiration for doing it.

It’s more like that the idea, or the sensation of having one, comes by itself, we try to be ready to catch it and transform into a song…like a vulture does with its prey.

After that, the original idea gets into our hands and becomes what you listen. Sometimes, it is close to what I’ve hunted, sometimes completely different, but, in the end, always better, as more vultures are better than one.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Most of the times, songs themselves guide our lyrics.

In general, our lyrics tend to represent an uncommon perspective on life, in its essence. They often merge existentialism with ordinary, everyday human emotions such as frustration, hope and interior state of decay.

We don’t really touch political or social subjects and, unintentionally, always find ourselves writing on things that we consider beyond those.

In our lyrics, you can often find metaphors that try to describe emotions through cosmic events or introspective analysis and abstract feelings.

Last year, you released an EP, entitled ‘Time Distortions’, which placed the band firmly on the map. How was the reaction to the EP for you all personally?

‘Time Distortions’ is an important step for Desert Clouds. That is the first record with our producer, Andrea Lepori, and we were excited when we released it, because we knew that it could have pushed the band onto a new level, which eventually, it did, and only because we jumped, straight away, into the new release, that ‘Time Distortions’ has been put on one side…a bit.

Besides that, we all consider ‘Time Distortions’ our hidden trampoline, and are still performing some of its songs such as ‘Strangelet’ and ‘Weight’. You can find it on Bandcamp, and, of course, at our live shows.

In January, the band will be unveiling a new album, ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’. How has the recording process been for that?

All of our work in a recording studio can be considered like a very long surgery: very uncomfortable and with some post-operative pains.

It has been a long dispute between us and Andrea, where, in the end, we enriched our music knowledge, we increased our studio experience, and opened up our horizons.

All efforts, arguments and recording sessions will bring ‘Nothing Beyond the Cage’ to light in January, and we are confident that it will be even better than ‘Time Distortions’.

And how will the album differ to ‘Time Distortions’?

Compared to ‘Time Distortions’, ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’ comes from spending more time working in the studio where, along with the producer, we went deeper into the arrangements and song structures, which, in our opinion, made this work more complex and mature than its predecessor.

Around the time the album comes out, you will be embarking on a UK tour, then a few dates in your native Italy after that. How is the experience, for the band, of performing live?

Besides whatever I said above, live performances are still the perfect environment for Desert Clouds, as during our show, you can see the real sound and vibe of the band, something that we only try to reproduce into a studio.

Our music is made of improvisation and different ways of performing, depending on the moment. Whoever comes to our concerts won’t likely see the same show every time, as even with the same songs, there will be always a genuine mood that belongs to that specific moment.

That is the real reason why we play live music, as recordings are for having a memory of that period, those songs, those people, to promote your music, to let your fans have a piece of you, of your story, to let them support your band, and to listen to your songs again and again, but, really and truly, you are when you are…in the present, and live shows are…

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

We really want to make Desert Clouds become an established band within the music industry. There are not dreams of fame behind our hopes, we only want to reach as many people as possible with our music, and share with them as many emotions as possible.

Nowadays though, it is becoming harder and harder for bands like us to sustain their own projects, and a little help from the industry won’t hurt much.

At least, compared to what you can now find in the mainstream, and unfortunately, sometimes also in the underground scene, Desert Clouds, like many other bands, still have something interesting to say.

Desert Clouds Album Cover

‘NOTHING BEYOND THE CAGE’, THE NEW ALBUM FROM DESERT CLOUDS, WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 18.

FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

 

THE MECHANIST

The Mechanist band photo

THE MECHANIST (back, from l-r): James Cheal (vocals), Alex Wem (bass) (front, from l-r): Les Harrison (drums), Sam Butterfield (guitar), Jonny White (guitar/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

By combining fast technical metal riffs and brutal metalcore breakdowns, along with a positive and collaborative songwriting approach, Leeds five-piece The Mechanist are rapidly making a name for themselves on the British metal scene.

Having recently brought out a double A-side single, ‘Timekeeper/Between The Lines’, as well as playing a headline show in their home city, the band spoke to me about them, the quintet’s journey so far, as well as their initial plans for 2019.

How did the band form?

The band was formed by James Cheal and former guitarist Sam Parry, who set about recruiting via friends and the internet whilst writing the first EP. The line-up changed around for a while, until we settled on the current members. Sam Butterfield joined last year after Parry decided to depart from the band.

How did the name The Mechanist come about?

James came up with the name The Mechanist after researching the philosophy of mechanism, the idea that everything is composed of a multitude of individual interconnecting inanimate parts which present the illusion of soul, self, etc.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

We are influenced massively by the new music emerging from bands like The Contortionist, SikTh, and Architects!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Sam and Jonny usually begin writing riffs together or alone, then bring these ideas to Les and Alex to work on arranging the structure, and to help piece the song together. Vocals usually come last, with James writing his parts. This process is completely collaborative, and promises to show our best work.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Our first EP, ‘Minds & Machines’, which we released last year, was lyrically inspired from The Mechanist philosophy, and dealt with themes of free will and self as illusory and the multitude of difficult questions and answers raised by the subject.

‘Timekeeper’ and ‘Between the Lines’, our more recent singles, focus more on getting older, and the effect that the passage of time has on your relationships with others and yourself.

Speaking of your debut EP, how was the reaction to that?

The reaction was huge! We poured our hearts into the promotion and release of that EP, and we feel that it payed off!

We spent a lot of time creating content for social media such as all our music videos, playthroughs, lyric videos, and extra content (Dog Meme), which all help build a fan base and get our content viewed. It showed us that some careful planning can pay off, and is totally worth our time and effort.

How was the recording process for ‘Timekeeper’?

The recording process was a huge amount of fun! We spent four days at Fox Hound Studios in Cheshire, with producer Mike Bennett tracking live drums, guitar, bass, and vocals.

It was made easy by our preparation prior to the recording, however, during the process, our bass player, Alex, started getting very sick, and it was only the day after recording when he went to hospital that we found out that he had popped his lung, and he ended up spending the next two months in hospital for a total of six surgeries.

Now if that’s not a great story, then we don’t know what is!

And for those who have yet to listen to it, what can they expect?

If you haven’t heard ‘Timekeeper’ yet, then we would really recommend it, as we feel it’s the best representation of what you can expect from us in the future! We are currently working on a new EP, and feel that ‘Timekeeper’ bridges the gap between our first EP and the material that is still in the works!

You’ve supported the likes of Arkdown, Harmed, and Borders. How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?

We love supporting these guys, as they always put on a killer show! It helps us to up our game when we are surrounded by such talent, and it really inspires us to improve our live shows and keep up our own process.

What are the band’s plans for the near future?

We have a few more great gigs lined up this year, we’ve just played a headliner show at the Key Club in Leeds, but we are planning on spending the rest of 2018 writing and finishing off our newest material for a spring release early next year, where we plan to hit the ground running with new material, merchandise, and content!

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

Our long-term aim is to continue playing and performing the music we love, and to keep true to ourselves in the process. Everyone goes through changes in their lives, and we want to enjoy the journey and just keep at the top of our game!

The Mechanist Single Cover

‘TIMEKEEPER/BETWEEN THE LINES’, THE LATEST DOUBLE A-SIDE SINGLE FROM THE MECHANIST, ARE AVAILABLE NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE

 

STAND ALONE

Stand Alone band photo

STAND ALONE (from l-r): Tom Durrans (drums/backing vocals), Gavin Stevenson (lead vocals/guitar), Luke Harrison (bass/backing vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From West Yorkshire, Stand Alone are a tight-knit three-piece who specialise in a powerful, charismatic, melodic hard rock sound, coupled with lyrics that are a frank reflection of the difficulties the band have faced, both as individuals, and as a collective.

The trio have also managed to capture the loyalty of crowds across the UK with a highly-energetic live set.

With a second EP, ‘Falling, Faster’, coming out at the end of this month, I spoke the outfit about its recording process, and why they think it is their best release to date.

How did the band form?

We were all in different bands at some point in our lives. Gav and Tom met and formed a typical rock band, but after their bassist left, they decided to hire Luke (who Tom had known at school).

After ditching all the old original songs, we wrote new, more refined, and catchy songs that later would define our own sound.

We then set off to a gig on a Monday night to London to play a half-hour set (as you do), we all bonded great, and played really well! The rest is history.

How did the name Stand Alone come about?

We had a few names in the bag, and at a gig once, we saw a microphone stand on its own and we announced ourselves as Stand Alone. After a bit of thinking from each of the band members, we put our own meaning behind it, and decided to keep it.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks. Seriously, we have our own ideas and influences from the bands we all listen to. Gavin usually starts it off with a song or a riff, Luke will then put his influence on it, and then Tom writes the drum parts after and messes with the structure.

At the end of this month, the band will be bringing out their second EP, ‘Falling, Faster’. How has the recording process been for that?

We didn’t do it in a studio, we recorded it in a basement which sounded pretty decent. It did, however, mean it couldn’t all be done at once like it would be in a studio, but just as and when we could all get the time to do it.

And how will the upcoming release differ to the debut, ‘Nothing Is Forgotten’?

The main difference is we have a much clearer vision of what we want to do.

Last time, we were like, “Well, we need music, so let’s record, also, we’re called Stand Alone, so let’s put some lonely boots on the front cover“, but that’s not to say that took away from the music of the first EP, because we still love those songs, still enjoy playing them, believe they are well-written songs.

The clearer vision refers to our branding, and what we want to do going forward.

The band have gigged extensively across the UK in recent years, becoming known for putting on a live set that is engaging and energetic. How is it, for you all, performing on stage?

Being a three-piece, you have a bigger role in the performance, since there’s not as many places to look. Saying that, it doesn’t really feel like a performance, it feels natural. The energy of the gigs comes from the fans, as if they enjoy it, the atmosphere gets better, and ultimately gets back to you.

And early last year, you played to an audience of over a thousand people at the 02 Academy in Leeds. That must have been quite an experience.

Probably the most fans we’ve played to. It’s just a shame it didn’t last as long, because we wanted it to last forever.

What are the band’s plans immediately following the EP coming out?

Selling it for Christmas presents! (All laugh). It’s the back end of the year, and the gigs are winding down, so we’re getting ready for the new year, but our online presence won’t stop, and we’ll definitely still be working hard, as usual, on socials and practice, etc.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

Gigs

Writing

Gigs

Recording

Gigs

Album

Gigs

The overall goal is to quit our day jobs, and be able to do this full-time.

Stand Alone EP Cover

‘FALLING, FASTER’, THE SECOND EP FROM STAND ALONE, WILL BE RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 30.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

YOUTUBE

 

ALBANY

Albany band photo

ALBANY (from l-r): Jim De Ath (rhythm guitar), Chris Fletcher (bass), Matt Duke (vocals/lead guitar), Dan Sharratt (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

In recent years, some have questioned why there have been no bands to establish themselves, in a big way, on the British indie-rock scene.

One outfit determined to see that change are Lincoln four-piece Albany, who have generated much buzz and excitement within their genre with a powerful, rough-edged sound, drawn from a broad range of influences, coupled with lyrical content dealing with life in general.

The quartet’s frontman, Matt Duke, spoke to me recently about their journey so far, how 2018 has gone for them, and what they hope to achieve in the near future.

How did the band form?

It all started in 2008, around The Enemy years, and it was a three-piece semi-acoustic thing we had going on in Coventry, but this disbanded after a couple of years, and I kind of slipped into a hiatus from music.

However, after three years, my best mate who was the bass player in Coventry got engaged and asked me to play a 45-minute live set at his wedding reception.

At the time, obviously I didn’t have a band, so I literally had a year to find some musicians and decide on a set, but I’d been out of the game for a bit, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off, but I advertised online, and the first person that got back to me was Chris, the current bass player.

We started rehearsing, along with a load of other randoms I pulled together, the set went great, and it went from there really. During those rehearsals, I’d been toying with the idea of getting the band back together because I’d found I was a lot better than I was at uni, so it kind of gave me a bit of a spark to do something with or try; so I asked Chris if he’d be interested, which he obviously was, he knew a drummer, we got together, banged out a couple of songs I’d written for the old band, which sounded incredible, and after a couple of months or so, we found a rhythm guitarist, and after an overhaul last year with another axe man, here we are today. The rest is history.

How did the name Albany come about?

It’s named after a pub and a road in Coventry, close to where I used to live. At the time, in 2007, there were a lot of bands called “The” something…..so I wanted just one word that was clear, simple, effective, AND something a crowd could chant easily when we’re about to blow their heads off live.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Just wait for them to happen. You can’t force it, I can’t anyway, it’s just how I learnt, and sometimes, it’ll be a month before anything comes, but it’s always worth the wait, so I just don’t chase it too much.

If I sit down and try and MAKE myself write a song, nine times out of 10, it won’t happen, and therefore, it’s a waste of time, and to the frustration of the others, it doesn’t work in rehearsals either. They’re desperate to come up with something together, but my head just doesn’t work like that.

I’m an average musician at best, and to come up with something on the spot, it would have to be a massive stroke of luck. We get intros and outros for our show easily, but song-wise, they have to wait, but most of the time, it’ll come to me out of the blue; whether I’m driving, or at work, or, to my girlfriend’s annoyance, in the middle of the night; she has been known to lose her temper at 3am, but when songs like ‘Kingpin’ get written, I wouldn’t change it, but wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, I’ve got to get it down on my phone, otherwise I’ll forget it.

From there, I’ll go find it on the guitar, tweak it, and get the music down pretty quickly, but yeah, a lot of people at work think I’m bat crazy, as they’ll walk into the toilet, and I’m sat there in the corner singing into my phone.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Life. Literally.

Relationships, love, heartbreak, getting stuck in queues, people annoying me, whatever happens or is happening at that time, it tends to get written about, but this is all down to what I’ve said from day one; all great songs tell a story, and that’s because, in one way or another, people can relate to them somehow, and so they have more appeal, but again, it’s like the music, there has to be something going on in my life to inspire the song, otherwise I’d be writing about old women in a jacuzzi, and nobody wants to hear about that.

One of the EARLY songs we did was called ‘Push It In’….get your head round that! Clearly, that never even made it to rehearsal.

You all have a passion to resurrect the anthemic British guitar appeal. Why do you think that has declined in recent years?

Lack of inspiration, I think. I think the last 10 years has been dire, guitar-wise, and it’s annoying because every decade has always had something or someone big defining it.

Back in around 2004/2005, there was a new wave of guitar bands after the 90’s thing, The Killers, Kasabian, The Libertines, The Enemy, Razorlight, etc…that was great. I call it “jingly jangly” indie, but when it was time for the next “big thing” indie-wise to make a noise, around two or three years, there was hardly anything, and I think that’s why all the big bands are either still going or are getting back together and becoming bigger than ever in 2018, because there’s still a huge want and need for it.

See, I adore the internet, socials, YouTube, all of it, but it’s Catch-22, because it has ruined the industry, and more to the point, has made it harder for bands like us to be acknowledged, which adds to the fact that the industry is boring because the same shit just keeps churning out.

Nowadays, it seems to be more about how much traction you get on Instagram than the actual music, but I guess it will change, as everything comes full circle eventually, and hopefully, we’ll be the ones to get the ball rolling. It’d be nice.

At the start of 2018, the band signed to the UK’s largest independent indie label, SoundHub Records. How did that come about?

They found us, I guess through our socials, and said they loved us and wanted to get involved, as it was up their street, and they wanted to help make the next EP, so we talked, gave them a live showcase of, I think, three songs…. and no word of a lie, they said it was “one of the best showcases they’ve had“, and last year, we released anything we did independently, so we needed the right people behind this one to make it worthwhile, and they know their stuff, they’re bang on, and our kind of people as well, so as anything goes when you click with someone, it was pretty easy.

And I can imagine you were all feeling good when you signed the contract with them.

Well yeah, because someone was finally listening. I had been writing for three years, as a band we’d finally found our sound, and at gigs, especially local ones, we were going down a storm, so from our point of view, it was, “Right now, we’re talking! Someone gets it…AND we don’t have to start singing about getting drunk in a Lego house to get noticed“.

Recently, the band brought out a new single, entitled ‘Kingpin’. How was the recording process for that?

A lot of fun. See, we do things the wrong way round, in my eyes, but it’s great at the same time, because it lets us have a bit of room for playing around with it.

I’ve always seen it as, you write a song, work it out, record it, and then when it comes to rehearsals, work out a live version for gigs, but we work backwards, and I guess that’s how a lot of bands that need to fund themselves are… because we always end up playing the song live for however long before it even makes the studio!

Therefore, a lot of times, we end up with two versions of songs. ‘Kingpin’ didn’t change structure-wise, the magic with that came with the guys at Soundhub, their input to it, and what they added to it…and the other tracks too, which all sound incredible, but working this way, I guess, gives us the best of both worlds and the fans too, because it lets us have a choice as to how to play a song live….and that’s how you keep things interesting…it’s like a relationship….keep changing it up, keep them on their toes, make things exciting, don’t become predictable, and you’re onto a winner.

How has the reaction been to the track so far?

Mega, and from our fans and the people that follow us, really, really good. I mean they had been lucky enough to hear it live a couple of times before we went into the studio with it, and we’re quite lucky in the sense that a lot of people that come to most of our gigs do come and talk to us afterwards, if they can, and if they’re talking about a song; they either love it, it’s okay, or they’re not keen. They say how it is, and I click with that.

With this one, people who have messaged us have said that they have put it on loop,  and they can’t get enough.

I mean, I knew the moment I got the hook, “Can you see it now?” that it was gonna be a banger, but how it has turned out, we couldn’t be happier, to be fair, and with a couple of changes that were made in the studio when we came to playing it as a band, it came to be what it is, which was an in-your-face, straight-to-the-point, driven indie rock belter.

And will ‘Kingpin’ eventually lead to a third EP, or debut album release?

See, we thought we were doing a third EP, but the guys at SoundHub suggested we recorded three singles and released them all separately, so that’s what we did, and it kind of made sense because rather than releasing it all in one go like we have in the past, riding the wave, and then it’s all over, with this, we could light a fire with ‘Kingpin’, and then as and when we could, keep stoking it with the next one and the next one, get a bit of long-term momentum going, but this song’s big enough to keep itself burning for a few months yet…and then we’ll hit it with another. It’s all mapped out.

This year, you played at Camden Rocks, as well as embarking on an enthusiastically-received 10-date UK tour. How were they as experiences?

We’ve had a great summer, yeah. Loved it. We played 2Q in Lincoln, we headlined The Platform at The Engine Shed as part of This Feeling, Joefest, which is a well-known local festival that we opened up on the BBC Introducing stage for, we played the British Superbikes at Cadwell Park, which was a hot messy one, and yeah, Camden Rocks.

It’s all been great, but Camden was massive for us. We were all twitching for that, I mean we’ve played London before a few times, at The Fiddlers Elbow, but Camden Rocks felt like a step forward for the band, because we were on the bill with other well-known bands, bands that we are fans of, and the reaction we got drove us to keep going; we packed the venue out, the crowd were bouncing to every song in our half-hour set, and the festival’s asked us back next year.

I mean, to me, that speaks for itself, there are people out there that want it.

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

It’s why we do it. No better feeling, especially at festivals and big stages, as you get to see the whites in people’s eyes! Rehearsals can be a ball ache, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because we all work full-time, and by the time we get there, we’re all knackered….and sometimes we don’t get anywhere because of it, but it’s all worth it, especially when you’ve got a string of dates in front of you.

What are your plans for the near future?

We’ve got our last gig of the year on November 30 in Lincoln at The Rogue Saint, and after that, I’m going to sit in a dark room for a week, and get my head down for a bit.

I’ve got three or four songs that are massive, so we’ll be laying them down throughout December, get through Christmas, and then it all starts again.

I can’t give much away, because not everything is confirmed yet, but we’ve got a busy year ahead.

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

To rescue indie rock, I guess, and to give the people back what they want, and hopefully inspire a few of them along the way? I don’t know. We’re just taking every moment as it comes, every opportunity as it comes, and making waves where we play, to as many places as possible, if not for anyone else, giving ourselves a bit of hope that guitar music is still alive.

There’s no quirks or confusion with us, it is what it is, and we love what we do; we just need a leg up, and with a bit of luck, the best case scenario, by the time our thing’s gone full circle, will hopefully be us riding our own wave, in the middle of the sea, on a yacht.

Albany band logo

‘KINGPIN’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM ALBANY, IS AVAILABLE NOW, VIA SOUNDHUB RECORDS.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

YOUTUBE

A NIGHT LIKE THIS

A Night Like This band photo

A NIGHT LIKE THIS (from l-r): Ronan Samolinski (drums), Dan O’Brien (guitar), Dom Hoven (vocals), Josef Lovett (bass/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

A Night Like This, an alternative rock four-piece from south Wales with post-hardcore and emo influences, have been on a roll ever since the release of their first single, ‘Survival’, last year.

The band, who specialise in writing songs that are about real, important topics that their rapidly-expanding fan base can relate to, have brought out a positively-received debut EP, ‘Between Hell & Home’, and have supported the likes of Blood Youth, Loathe, and Holding Absence.

With a new track, entitled ‘Throne’, having just been unveiled, the quartet spoke to me about that, all of the above, and more.

How did the band form?

Friends coming together through a mutual love of music and composition.

From where did the name A Night Like This originate?

It’s really simple, and quite boring – the truth is we were at a practice, and said, “It would be great to play a show on a night like this“, and at that point, we had not yet named the band, so one of us jokingly said, “Hey, that works, A Night Like This – we have our name“, and it just stuck.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

We all individually demo at home, all throw our ideas into the bag, so to speak, then we talk it out, see who likes what elements, and combine them to get the finished product in a practice room.

It can be a lengthy process of chopping and changing, as with anything – but we are proud of the results we can achieve when we work as a unit.

In May, the band brought out a debut EP, entitled ‘Between Hell & Home’, which followed on from last year’s first single release, ‘Survival’. How was the reaction to the EP?

The initial response was incredible. We headlined a release show at Sin City in Swansea to over 100 people, which is our largest hometown crowd to date – we sold out of multiple items of merch, and everyone was, in general, thrilled with the outcome.

We went on to play a four-day weekend tour to promote its release in July, and then a UK headline tour in September, and the overall response has been great.

You’ve just unveiled a new single, ‘Throne’, which was recorded with Michael “Padge” Paget, the lead guitarist of Bullet For My Valentine. How was working with him as an experience?

Honestly, it was surreal – Bullet For My Valentine are a band that every single one of us has been a fan of for quite some time, but Padge was an absolute pleasure to work with, and he made the whole experience really fun for all of us – we even shared a few beers.

However, we also really need to mention Drew Hamley (Unit 15 Productions/bassist of I Fight Bears) for his work alongside Padge, as the single was co-produced, and together, they are an incredible team.

And for those who have yet to listen to the track, what can they expect of it?

Something a little different to the previous release, a step towards our newer sound – slightly heavier, but still with that catchy chorus edge and combining multiple elements.

You can expect a balance of clean vocals, screams, classic post-hardcore riffs combined with a touch of ambience, and lots of melody.

Live, the band have supported the likes of Holding Absence, Shields, and more recently, Blood Youth, Emp!re, and Loathe. How were they as experiences?

Every single one of those bands are an inspiration to us as a collective, all incredible musicians, and just all-around good people. We’ve had the honour of playing with Holding Absence on two occasions – both have been incredible, and Lucas Woodland, their frontman, has been good enough to share our previous single releases on his social media channels.

The most recent show was with Blood Youth, and playing with such a respected touring band (in the main support slot position) was incredible, especially in such a small, intimate venue.

And how is it overall, for you all, performing on stage?

We all live and breathe this band, we play every show like it’s our last – we aren’t just band mates, we’re a family. Whether we play to a handful of people, or a full room, each show is an experience in its own right, and we will ALWAYS play to our heart’s content.

On December 15, the band will be supporting Dream State in Swansea. I can imagine that’s something you’re all looking forward to.

Of course, as they’ve come an incredibly long way in the last year or so, and the show is likely to be a sell-out. They’re a strong example of what can become of local music, as a few years ago, they were playing tiny venues in south Wales to small crowds, and now, they’re playing every major festival, and going on huge tours.

Anyone who hasn’t got tickets should get them now, as they’re selling fast. (Cheeky plug, buy online at www.derricksmusic.co.uk)

And what are your plans following that?

We will be going away for a little while – we can’t say too much yet, but all will be revealed in due course. We know what you’re thinking, and the answer is that is no, we’re not splitting up.

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

World domination.

A Night Like This Single Cover

‘THRONE’, THE NEW SINGLE FROM A NIGHT LIKE THIS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE

 

 

BAILER

Bailer band photo

BAILER (from l-r): Alex O’Leary (vocals), Sean Conway (drums), Dave Cleere (bass), Chris Harte (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

With a heavy, ambitious metallic hardcore sound, and a live set that is pure chaos and ferocity, four-piece Bailer are an outfit that have firmly established themselves on the metal scene in their native Ireland.

2018 has seen the band broaden their horizons, having toured Russia, brought out a well-received self-titled EP, and been championed by the likes of Kerrang! and Metal Hammer.

On the eve of the quartet’s UK headline tour, vocalist Alex O’Leary and drummer Sean Conway spoke to me about what has been a productive year for them, as well as a little more about the inner workings of the band.

How did the band form?

ALEX O’LEARY (vocals): The band formed after Chris sent me a few demos that I put vocals down on for fun. After reviewing the tracks, we loved the sound and decided to give it a shot. Another shot even, as myself and Chris had been in bands previous to Bailer. Me and Dave were in another band at the time, but we transitioned over full-time once we got moving.

How did the name Bailer come about?

ALEX: I suppose Bailer has loads of connotations. Nodding towards people bailing on you, bailing on a situation for wrong reasons, being the person who sometimes has to bail for the right reasons, but yeah, funnily enough, it came about when we were brainstorming possible names sitting in the van heading to record our first two songs, and we were stuck behind a tractor carrying bails of hay. Enough said. (laughs)

What are the band’s main musical influences?

ALEX: It varies with each member of the band, I guess. There’s strong influences in our sound from bands such as Every Time I Die, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Norma Jean, but there’s also strong influences from hip-hop, hardcore, metal etc…it’s a mixed bag of influences really.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

ALEX: As time goes on, I think your approach to songwriting changes, as it should, as being stuck in the same routine and using the same methods can result in stale material.

Chris usually sparks the creative process with riffs he has, and we collectively put our own spin on it when it gets to the jam room, but we also have tons of demos that we all work away on when we have time at home.

What inspires the band lyrically?

ALEX: A lot of the lyrics are based on negative personal experiences or views of my own that I try to make sense of. Being negative or going through a shit time in life inspires me to vent, and I become better for doing so.

In February, you brought out a self-titled EP, your third, which was very well-received, and got excellent reviews from both Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. Was the overwhelmingly positive reaction something you were all taken aback by?

ALEX: I would have to say yes. We are all music fans in the band, and at one point or another, bought these magazines to read about new bands. It was an honour to see ourselves in there, as it had been a goal for the band, and we were delighted with that recognition.

Earlier this year, the band toured Russia, and last month played Brighton contemporary rock festival Mammothfest. How were they as experiences?

SEAN CONWAY (drums): They were great experiences in different ways. Russia at the start of the year was our first proper tour outside of Ireland and presented a whole load of challenges we weren’t expecting.

We landed with no equipment due to an airline mix-up and nearly had to cancel, and we also had to get a fill-in vocalist at the last minute, but we got through it, it definitely made us stronger, and we ended up having some unbelievable shows along the way.

Playing Mammothfest, though, was a breeze! We had no issues, and we had a great time. We were also playing with our buddies in Jenova and God Alone who travelled over with us. It was a perfect UK warm-up for our tour this month.

Yes, you will be embarking on a UK headline tour later this month. How is it, overall, performing live?

SEAN: Performing live for us has always been the number one most fun and rewarding part of the band. We love putting music together and recording it, but that immediate feedback and reaction you get from playing live is hard to get anywhere else.

The style of music we play lives and dies on stage, and we definitely always have our live show at the forefront of our minds. We will be mostly playing places we’ve never been to before on this tour, and we’re really excited to try to break new ground for the band.

And finally, what are the band’s plans for the beginning of 2019?

SEAN: We hope to focus a lot on the writing of our debut album at the start of 2019. Of course, we have shows planned, but we definitely want to focus on writing as much as we can while we have the time.

We have a bunch of demos to flesh out and work on throughout the first half of the year, but make no mistake, we will be touring even harder in 2019!

Bailer EP Cover

THE SELF-TITLED THIRD EP FROM BAILER IS AVAILABLE NOW.

THE BAND WILL ALSO BE EMBARKING ON A UK TOUR LATER THIS MONTH, FURTHER DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

Bailer tour poster

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE