shadows like strangers band photo

SHADOWS LIKE STRANGERS (from l-r): Scott Baker (guitar), Jezza Bruce (vocals/guitar), Paul Davies (drums), Dan Turner (bass)


From Nottingham, Shadows Like Strangers started life as a solo project of frontman Jezza Bruce, before expanding early last year with the addition of three other members, which made the band a four-piece.

Since then, armed with a rock sound which will be of much appeal to fans of Taking Back Sunday, U2, and Feeder, the emerging collective have hit the ground running, having released a well-received debut EP, as well as performing their first ever live set, supporting alt-rockers Lacey, in front of a sell-out crowd at one of the city’s iconic music venues, Rock City.

Now, with the unveiling of the quartet’s first album, ‘CALI’, coming in just over a week, as well as them showing an eagerness to take the US by storm, I chatted to the band about all this, and more.

How did the band get together?

Jezza and Paul had a project in the works for years, and once Jezza relocated to Nottingham, a few friends opened a few doors, and hey presto!

How did the name Shadows Like Strangers come about?

The band name is actually an iteration of a lyric of ‘Join The Club’, a single by Bring Me The Horizon.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Write what you feel is right at the time, then take yourself away from it, and if it still bangs when you come back, and you still relate to that emotion, it’s potentially timeless and relatable. ROLL WITH IT!

What inspires the band lyrically?

Our songs are all about real events or ambitions, songs of reflection.

Last year, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Night Vision’. How was the reaction to that?

We don’t think our friends and family really expected us to release something of that quality. It certainly turned a few heads.

Shortly, the band will be unveiling their first album, ‘CALI’. How has the recording process been for that?

The recording process has been long, and we’ve had to learn how to be patient, because working on the most minimal budget, with the best people you possibly can, takes time.

It’s been fruitful, though, as we’ve been all over the UK working with some great producers and old friends.

And how will the upcoming release differ to ‘Night Vision’?

‘Night Vision’ was the spark of an idea really. We got to a point where we had over 50 demos, and we were like, “Well, which of these is more ‘us’?

The album was originally going to be called ‘Vantablack’, but we changed the mood of the album over time, spreading a more positive message, and that’s how ‘CALI’ came about.

‘CALI’ is a more polished and definitive release from us, well for now, at least. It’s certainly heavier, and if ‘Night Vision’ made you think of relationships, we hope that ‘CALI’ will make you think of summer.

In 2018, you supported Nottingham alt-rockers Lacey at a sold-out Rock City. That must have been quite an experience for you all.

It was incredible for us. We’ve all had our involvements in the industry for years, but this one just felt right, as it was our chance to leave a mark on the scene. The Lacey boys are something else, incredibly humble and supportive lads, and we couldn’t have asked for a better first show!

And how is it, overall, playing live?

Playing live brings a whole new entity to our record. Despite having to blow our a few cobwebs for our first live show, it was an absolute blast, and having Graz and Dave from Lacey join us to perform our new single, ‘The Art Of Falling Down’, was special.

The thing with performing our set live is that we can make tweaks and keep people on their toes, so they are not just expecting a rendition of the album. We orchestrate our set, and we have a lot of fun tinkering, but Not too much tinkering, mind!

What are the band’s plans following the new album coming out?

We’re currently booking shows across the UK ready to push ‘CALI’ to its limit, so expect some announcements from us before the start of this spring.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

We want to take our music to the States, as we really feel that there’s a gap in the market for us, and that we can fit that groove, so watch this space.

shadows like strangers single cover


shadows like strangers album cover








blacklist 9 band photo

BLACKLIST 9 (from l-r): Josh May (bass), Kyle Silva (lead/rhythm guitar), Lonnie Silva (drums), Graham Fletcher (vocals)


In 2013, experienced Southern Californian drummer Lonnie Silva decided to get together with his guitarist son Kyle, and form a groove metal outfit.

Eventually being joined by vocalist Graham Fletcher and bassist Ray Burke, and christening themselves Blacklist 9, the four-piece have not looked back, amassing a devoted following with a sound packed full of raw power and energy, coupled with lyrics that tackle a host of social issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and government greed.

With a debut album coming out this March, Kyle spoke to me about what can be expected of that, the experience of playing iconic Los Angeles venue Whiskey A Go Go, and much more.

How did the name Blacklist 9 come about?

Lonnie, our drummer (and my father), was sitting on the couch one day and saw a commercial for the show The Blacklist, and he thought it was a cool name, but he knew there had to be something at the end of it, so he started counting, and when he got to nine, it flowed, and he knew that was it.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

For me personally, most of the time, for a riff or song to really stick, it has to be more than a riff, as for the music we write (being heavy metal), it has to have a certain feel of aggression, groove and energy, for example, our song ‘Madness’ has a really cool groove that people like, the riff has this insane asylum feel, it sounds like it could be on the soundtrack of a Rob Zombie movie, and also with the energy that Graham brings with his vocals, it all comes together nicely.

In March, the band will be bringing out their debut album, Mentally Ill, Legally Sane. How has the recording process been for that?

It’s gone very smoothly, and when we listened back to it in the studio, we started hearing all these little things you could improve upon, which was awesome, because that can bring the song to a whole new level.

And you have been putting the album together with Jeff Collier and Frank Gryner, who have produced and mastered for the likes of Rob Zombie and A Perfect Circle. How was working with them as an experience?

Working with Jeff Collier as our producer is always a blast, as he brings in good vibes, and is very knowledgeable.

Working with Frank was awesome too, and knowing that he worked with A Perfect Circle and Rob Zombie, on albums that I grew up listening to, it really was quite an experience.

Also, what can be expected from the upcoming release?

Every song on this album is different from each other, but it doesn’t lose its power or raw energy.

In 2017, the band supported John 5, former Marilyn Manson and current Rob Zombie guitarist, at infamous Los Angeles music venue Whiskey A Go Go. How did that come about?

From what I can remember, that was a last-minute thing. We had worked with the Whiskey A Go Go before, so the promoter contacted us, said he needed one more band, and asked us if we would like to open up for John 5. How could we say no?

And that must have been quite an experience for you all.

Oh yes, it was, and both Rob Zombie and Slash made special guest appearances, which was really cool. We also got to see John 5’s sound check while we loaded in our equipment and wow, that guy can play.

How is it, overall, playing live?

For me personally, I love it, as there is nothing like it in the world, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a parking lot, a club, a house show, or five or 1,000 people at your show or 1,000, I just love every minute of it.

Will the band be doing anything to promote the album, for example, a tour or a release show?

Yes, we are planning a tour as we speak, and we will be announcing that on all of our social media pages.

And finally, what are your plans following the unveiling of Mentally Ill, Legally Sane?

Tour, play shows, and try to get the word out there!

blacklist 9 album cover








homefront band photo

HOMEFRONT (from l-r): Navada “Nav” Snow-Walters (guitar), Connor Robins (drums), Peter Harvey (vocals), Damian Field (bass)



For the past two years, four-piece Homefront have been winning over critics and fans, as well as entertaining crowds all over their native Australia, with an upbeat, highly-energetic mix of pop-punk and alternative rock, and their burgeoning reputation is sure to be boosted even further over the next month with the release of the band’s debut EP, and a tour supporting fellow Aussie pop-punks Shorelines.

I chatted to the Brisbane quartet recently, and the following is what they had to say to me:

How did the band form?

Peter and Nav had met from attempting to form a prior project, and Nav knew Damian from high school and knew he’d be interested. Having difficulties with prior members, we met Connor online, and he fit in perfectly.

How did the name Homefront come about?

Nav got it from the name of a game, and we all thought it sounded cool. We’re into single-word band names.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Generally with writing, someone will come in with an idea/outline/skeleton, and we will tweak and add to it collaboratively until we are happy, but every song is different and has its own process. We haven’t really worked out a consistent way we like to do it yet, though.

The band’s first two singles, ‘Faultlines’ and ‘Breathing Space’, were both very well-received, and have so far had over 20,000 online streams each. How have you all dealt with the response personally?

We’re super stoked with the response we’ve received from our previous two songs, but we try to keep our heads level, because often, online numbers can be misleading.

Shortly, you will be unveiling your debut EP, ‘Overgrown’. How has the recording process been for that?

Recording was an interesting experience, that’s for sure. We definitely started to go a bit crazy towards the end, as we’re pretty tough on each other when we record, and we always try to make sure we get the perfect take.

And what can be expected of the upcoming release?

Our upcoming release kind of has a bit of everything from the alternative scene, from a nice ballad, up to a post-hardcore influenced track.

The band hail from Australia. How, in your opinion, are the pop-punk and alternative rock scenes over there at the moment?

The scene is relatively tight-knit, and we have made some great friends through this. It got a bit bleak for a while, but it’s definitely on the up again.

You’re becoming known for live performances that are energetic and entertaining, and to a high standard. How is the overall experience, for the band, of performing on stage?

We try to put on an engaging and energetic performance based on the type of performances we like to see when we watch bands ourselves, and we try to have as good a time we can whilst on stage.

We make mistakes here and there, but we try to not let that get under our skin, and just enjoy our time! We always finish our performances on such a high.

And the band will be promoting the EP with a tour of their native country, supporting fellow Aussie pop-punks Shoreline. I can imagine that’s something you are all looking forward to.

Yeah, we’ve all been friends for quite some time now. Peter, in particular, has known Harry (vocalist of Shorelines) for quite a few years now, so we’re all really tight with each other.

What are your plans following the release of ‘Outgrown’?

More music, more videos, maybe some more touring later in the year. We already have some stuff in the works, but sometimes, you just have to play these things by ear.

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

We’ve just finished building a full digital rack for our live shows, so we’re looking into (hopefully) getting around Australia a little more frequently.

Other than that, we just want to keep making music, and we’ll keep doing that for as long as there are people enjoying it, whether that is our fans, friends, or even just ourselves.

homefront ep cover



homefront tour poster










something else band photo

SOMETHING ELSE (from l-r): Colin McMillen (bass), Alex Dooley (drums), Aidan Hall (vocals/guitar), Landen Gruszewski (guitar)


Having started out as an acoustic duo four years ago, Something Else have since developed into a post-pop/indie four-piece who have proven themselves to be very capable of holding their own on the music scene of Columbus, Ohio.

Recently, the emerging collective brought out a self-titled debut EP, and they had a quick chat with me about that, their journey so far, and the plans they have for the future.

How did the band get together?

Something Else formed on our front porch in early 2015 as an escape, which eventually blossomed into much more, creating our own aggressive, emotional, and unapologetic sound.

How did the name Something Else come about?

It came from those long car rides we all had as kids yelling to our parents, “Can we listen to something else?“, and we wanted to be that “Something Else“.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Paying attention to the way we feel about things happening in our lives, and being honest about them. Certain songs are written in a night, while certain parts of songs can take a month.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Primarily self-reflection, and overall observation of our surroundings.

You recently brought out your self-titled debut EP. How was the recording process for that?

Very fun, but very demanding at the same time. We felt like we pushed ourselves to get our songs the best they could be, and with the help of our engineer, Jakob Mooney, we got them there.

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

It’s very introspective, emotional, and fun.

The band have so far performed live in their home city of Columbus. How is the contemporary music scene there, in your opinion?

Columbus, Ohio, is very much on the rise as a music city, as being within a couple hours drive of major music hubs like Chicago, Nashville, and New York City, we have more than enough access to killer venues and plenty of new connections. Some of our favourite local acts include 90’s Kids, The Forty, Tango Moms, and RADATTACK.

And how is the overall experience, for you all, of playing on stage?

AIDAN HALL (vocals/guitar): No matter the size of the show, it’s always the most fun I’ve ever had.

COLIN McMILLEN (bass): It mostly involves spitting hair out of my mouth, or pushing it out of my face, due to the the massive amount that flies around our heads.

LANDEN GRUSZEWSKI (guitar): It’s hard to look at the crowd when Dooley has his shirt off.

ALEX DOOLEY (drums): Aidan has a pretty nice booty, and I get to look at it a lot.

And finally, what are the band’s plans now the EP has come out?

We currently have plans to bring our songs on tour, and also to record a full-length album.

something else ep cover










here's to you band photo

HERE’S TO YOU (from l-r): Mike Fenimore (bass/vocals), Stephan Stanzione (drums/vocals), Charlie Giovanniello (lead vocals/guitar), Greg Almeida (guitar/vocals)


Ten years ago this year, three high school friends from New York got together to form an indie/rock/pop band.

Calling themselves Here’s To You, and eventually adding another member to the outfit’s ranks, they put together a debut album, based on their teenage experiences, entitled ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, which came out in 2015, and since then, the four-piece have played hundreds of live sets across the US, including a performance at the South By Southwest festival in Texas.

Having been busy these past couple of months crafting their second offering, ‘Wonder/Wander’, to be unveiled this February, and promises to showcase a more mature sound, the collective were more than happy to tell me all about it, among other things.

How did the band get together?

GREG ALMEIDA (guitar/vocals): Stephan and Charlie have been friends for a while, and Stephan and I are cousins, so naturally, while having the interest in music in common, we pooled together and formed a band. I met Mike in college!

CHARLIE GIOVANNIELLO (lead vocals/guitar): I’ve known Stephan since middle school, and we both were interested in starting a band together. We were both in separate bands up until the ninth grade, when we jammed and demoed our first song.

We got some positive feedback from friends and family, and decided to stick together, picking up Greg and other friends along the way, and me, Greg, and Stephan have remained together since, but have gone through a couple of bassists, until Michael decided he liked us enough to stick around!

How did the name Here’s To You come about?

STEPHAN STANZIONE (drums/vocals): I honestly wish we had a better story for this one (laughs), but it seriously just came to my head way-back-when, and it was only after we had been a band for a while when the phrase started popping up in the most random of places!

CHARLIE: Stephan came up with two names, the first one was One Moon At A Time,  or something like that, and the other was Here’s To You. We all decided we liked the latter more, and after all this time, I’m glad we went with it!

STEPHAN: Oh wow, One Moon At A Time…perfect for my SOLO PROJECT!

What would you say were the band’s main musical influences?

GREG: We’re inspired by, like, everything, from indie, jazz, metal, to electronic. We just like to make good songs, but we find that playing instruments is something we’ll always love to do while playing songs live.

CHARLIE: When we started, we were heavily influenced by the pop-punk music of the mid 2000’s, bands like Fall Out Boy, Boys Like Girls, A Rocket To The Moon, Forever The Sickest Kids, but nowadays, I find myself more influenced by Walk The Moon, Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Neighborhood, and The Midnight.

MIKE FENIMORE (bass/vocals): It’s so hard to say, because our personal interests and influences have such a wide range. We all agree on great songwriting, no matter what the genre is, and the best part is that after you pool our diverse range of influential genres together, you get a cool song like ‘Burning Alive’!

STEPHAN: I think the fact that I have all of A Tribe Called Quest’s discography, to Drake Bell’s ‘It’s Only Time‘ (one of my favourite albums), all of the way to a bunch of The Legend of Zelda soundtracks on my phone, speaks volumes.

What inspires the band lyrically?

GREG: Definitely a lot of aspects of real life, and I pulled a lot from that whilst writing this album, so did Charlie and the other guys.

CHARLIE: A lot of lyrics are inspired by our individual personal experiences, whether it be love, breakups, lust, abstract ideas that emotionally move us. We’ll get together and discuss those personal experiences, and try to manifest the experience as a group in the forms of lyrics and melodies.

STEPHAN: As with almost all music in life: a love interest, but we definitely tried thinking outside of the box when it came to songwriting this time around.

MIKE: Real-life experiences and relationships with the people around us are almost always what our lyrics revolve around. I think of some of our songs as storytelling, but those stories are usually about something that one or more of us has been through.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

STEPHAN: I think the fact that all four of us are so involved with the writing process makes a huge difference in our songwriting. A lot of bands will just have one person writing lyrics, one person writing most of the instrumental, and maybe a member or two that doesn’t contribute all that much – that can totally work, but I think you can tell that our process really makes a difference in the final product.

CHARLIE: The approach changes slightly for each song, but generally, someone will have an idea, and it will get put into Ableton as an eight-bar loop, and then we all meet up and flesh it out into a demo from there.

GREG: For this album, it was completely different than our last. We really tried to approach the soundscape first, and create a few bars of an instrumental that fit to a concept we had talked about first.

For some songs, we even wrote to the vibe of the full album cover, as we saw that photograph and were just amazed, and so we wanted to kind of create a soundtrack to it.

MIKE: It usually starts with one of us bringing a demo or a voice memo to a writing session, and as a band, we’ll all change, add to it, and collectively make it our own.

Next month, the band will be bringing out the first part of their second album, ‘Wonder/Wander’, with parts two and three to come later this year. What is the main reason behind you doing that, rather than releasing it all at once?

GREG: It’s definitely been a while, so we were trying to just have the best release possible, which spreads the attention span out, which is what we like.

CHARLIE: We have a few loose ends on the other parts of the album, but we’re so eager to share what we’ve been working on, especially since we’ve been telling our fans that it has been in the works for so long.

We saw a few of our favourite artists doing this sort of release with their albums, so we thought it was the logical thing to do, plus it gives everyone a little more time to vibe with each set of songs.

STEPHAN: Realistically, John Mayer started the trend, and everyone wants to be like Mayer, so why not?

MIKE: The way that people listen to music has definitely been changing, especially over the last five to ten years, and like Greg said, we want to have the best release possible; we want as many people as possible to get to hear the songs in ‘Wonder/Wander’, so it’s been very important to us that we release this album in a strategic manner.

How has the recording process been for the album?

CHARLIE: It’s been a ton of fun. Spending 10-plus hour days every day for two weeks at VuDu Studios, and just seeing our vision come to life piece-by-piece was incredible, and as we continue to record the remaining bits of the album, we’re all still just as involved as on the first day we entered the studio.

GREG: Kind of a long one! (laughs)

MIKE: Similar to the way it’s being released, we recorded the album in phases, and this gave us the opportunity to get hyper-focused on a smaller batch of songs rather than just check boxes for a full album’s worth of songs. This helped us to be a little more personal and intentional with each song as the recording process went along.

STEPHAN: We’re still finishing and adjusting things as we speak! It’s been an awesome ride!

And how will it differ to your 2015 debut album, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’?

GREG: In pretty much every way it will differ. Sonically, visually, everything. We’re going for a much more mature vibe now. You can still tell it’s us, but with years of age.

CHARLIE: There was a lot more care and time put into ‘Wonder/Wander’. We’ve all developed our musicianship far ahead of what it was, and we’ve experienced a lot more of the real world, which has given us a much more mature sound.

STEPHAN: The songs on ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ were written when we were 16, and in high school, whereas the songs on ‘Wonder/Wander’ were written when we were finishing college. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the difference!

The band have performed hundreds of live shows across the US. How is it overall, for you all, playing on stage?

GREG: I love it! Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

CHARLIE: Playing on stage is incredibly liberating. I love the reciprocal nature of casting our energy into the crowd, and feeling theirs come back to us, which makes it super enjoyable for everyone, especially since I’ve been working particularly hard on my voice these past couple of years, so it makes it more enjoyable when my voice isn’t completely shot at the end of the set, as it used to be.

STEPHAN: Our live shows are something we’ve spent countless hours on for years. I honestly feel like you can never know if you really like us or not until you’ve seen us live. That’s when you can make your decision.

MIKE: There’s absolutely no better feeling like playing music and sharing your thoughts and emotions for a room full of people who are there specifically with the intention of listening to what you have to say, and want to share in an experience with you.

And you have also played at the South By Southwest festival, as well as supporting New Jersey EDM/pop trio Cash Cash on multiple occasions. How were they as experiences?

CHARLIE: Driving to Texas for South By Southwest is something I’ll never forget, just from the excitement of being on the open road with your closest friends, and when we got there, the energy of the whole festival was so alive, as there was so much music, talent, and incredible people that we met.

It’s been years since we’ve played with Cash Cash, and it’s really awesome to see how far they’ve come, even back then, they were writing incredibly catchy and well-produced songs, so we were honoured to share the stage with them even then.

GREG: Pretty sick, to say the least. Cash Cash were a completely different band back then, and I’m glad they were able to change and adapt to the industry, and make that hit song the other year. I’m happy for them!

MIKE: Travelling to Texas for SXSW was by far one of the coolest travelling experiences I’ve ever had. The environment was nothing but fun, and we had an extremely awesome time venturing around Austin as a band.

STEPHAN: I was sick with the flu when we played SXSW, but I still played my heart out. Rock n’ roll, am I right? I’ll never forget that one! (laughs)

And finally, album aside, what are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

GREG: Besides the album, we definitely want to get back to playing some shows, we’ve just gotta wait for the right opportunity, and for enough music to be out.

CHARLIE: After the initial release, we’re just hoping we can get as many people to hear it as possible. From there, we’d love to play some east coast shows and use demographics to see where people are listening the most, so we can play where the people would come to see us!

MIKE: Playing shows, without a doubt.

STEPHAN: Alongside playing shows, I think it’ll finally be the perfect time for Here’s To You to finally star in our own sitcom. Look out 2020!!









astronoid band photo

ASTRONOID (from l-r): Casey Aylward (guitar), Dan Schwartz (bass), Brett Boland (vocals/guitar), Matt St. Jean (drums)


From the American city of Boston, Astronoid are a rapidly-rising four-piece specialising in a thrash metal sound that is both dreamy and dynamic.

The band’s debut album, 2016’s ‘Air’, was an instant hit with critics and fans, and resulted in live sets supporting the likes of TesseracT, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor.

With a hectic couple of months ahead, what with the upcoming release of their eagerly-anticipated self-titled second offering, and embarking on a US tour with Between The Buried And Me, and TesseracT once again, the quartet’s frontman, Brett Boland, spoke to me about what can be expected from all of that, as well as the whirlwind journey that him and his bandmates have been on these past few years.

How did the band form?

Astronoid formed in 2012 when Dan and I were asked to do a project for school. He
needed to record a band, and I had a song or two that I thought we could do. We recorded the songs, and they came out really great.

We then threw them online under the Astronoid moniker and just sort of forgot about them, but a little while later, they started to pick up some steam online, and we decided to keep making some music, and here we are now.

How did the name Astronoid come about?

While recording our debut EP, ‘November’, Dan and I were both playing Mass Effect 3. I don’t really remember exactly what we were talking about, but I screwed up saying either “astronaut” or “asteroid”, and Astronoid came out. We laughed, we then named a song after it, and then we named our band after it.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Our influences have changed over the years. The most prominent influences have
been Mew, M83, Devin Townsend, Coheed and Cambria, and everything else we
listen to, but what makes the band special to me is that we can pull from our entire
catalogue of the music that we love.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

The general approach is that I will start a song and see it to the end. Sometimes, I will start with a drum beat from my V-drums, or a guitar melody, and chase the idea from there.

I’ll then send a complete demo (drums, bass, guitar, vocals) to the band, we will pick it apart, and then see how it can be improved upon.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I would say the primary inspiration to my lyrics are my observations and experiences in life, as that’s what just comes naturally to me.

The music determines the mood or what the song is about, and that’s why I never start with lyrics, as I need to have the lyrics be an extension of what the music is saying.

After bringing out two EPs, in 2016, the band unveiled their debut album, ‘Air’,
which was an instant hit, both with fans and critics, and has so far had over three million Spotify streams. Honestly, was the response, and the volume of it, expected from any of you at all?

Before putting out ‘Air’, I had a really good feeling about it, as I felt it would resonate
with people in a new way. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished with that
album, and I feel so fortunate for all the support which we have gained over the past
few years.

And the success of the album enabled you to tour North America with the likes of TesseracT, Periphery, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor. How were they as experiences?

It really is incredible getting to play with bands that you look up to. TesseracT was
one of the bands that I looked to when we were thinking of totally dropping the
screaming from the music.

I also remember hearing all the music nerds in college talk about Periphery before they put out their first full-length, I went to Ghost’s first US show, and Zeal & Ardor put their record out around the same time as ‘Air’, and I remember listening to it on Bandcamp for the first time.

All these bands have special memories attached, and it was incredible to be able to perform alongside them. They are all incredible people, and incredibly-talented musicians, and the memories we have from these tours will always be cherished.

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

We love to perform live. This is the first band I have toured in as a lead vocalist and it has been a learning experience.

You find things that work for you, and what doesn’t, and the more the band plays together, the more we feel like a unit, as when we play live, it isn’t about the individual, it’s about performing these pieces with emotional intensity as a group.

The music then takes on a life of its own, and we serve the songs for our fans.

Next month, you will be bringing out your self-titled second album. How has the
recording process been for that?

The recording process for ‘Astronoid’ was way easier than ‘Air’. We had a bit of a
time crunch at the end, but it all worked out.

We recorded the drums at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts, and we did the rest of the recording at our home studios, with both Dan and I mixing the record, and Magnus Lindberg, of Cult Of Luna, mastering it.

We came into recording this album at an advantage, because everything had already been demoed fully, and when it was time to record, we just played the parts for real, being able to point back to the demos for reference.

And how will the upcoming release differ to ‘Air’?

The way that I’ve been seeing it is that ‘Air’ was more of a surface level of myself,
and the new album is more of an introspective. I feel very confident in this release, very similar to how I felt when we finished ‘Air’, as every decision made on this album was with the music being the main priority.

The band hail from Boston. How is the contemporary music scene in the city, in
your opinion?

I feel like we have always been the outlier in our area. There are a lot of great bands
in our area that have had a huge impact on our development as musicians.

Our old band used to play a lot around Boston and Lowell, and that helped make us become who we are now as musicians. Our surroundings absolutely had an effect on us, as we wouldn’t have become who we are if we had started in a different area.

You’ve so far played every one of your live sets in North America. Is there any plans to come over to Europe any time soon?

Right now, we have no confirmed plans about coming over, but we are working hard
to make it happen. I’d love to bring the band to Europe, as we have had a lot of support from overseas, and it would be incredible to finally play there.

Aside from that, and the album, what else does the band have planned for 2019?

Right now, our priority is to get out there and support our new record, going to play
as much as possible, and to have as much fun as possible. I’m not sure what 2019
holds for us, but I’m excited to see what it brings.

And finally, you’ve already achieved much over the last couple of years. What
would you, as a band, like to accomplish over the next few years?

I’d just like to see this album reach as many people as possible. We are just going
with our gut and play music that we love to play, and hopefully, other people can find something in our music as well.

astronoid album cover



astronoid tour poster









kill the masters band photo

KILL THE MASTERS (from l-r): Rebecca Broughton (drums), Oli (vocals/guitar), Sam Cummins (bass/vocals)


From Bolton, a small Lancashire town just north of the city of Manchester, Kill The Masters initially formed with the intention of becoming a serious political band, rallying against the right-wing establishment with a punk sound that also contains an assortment of ska, hardcore, rap, and any other genre they can fit in.

However, even though that is still the ultimate aim, the emerging three-piece are gaining a reputation for being more fun-oriented.

Having unveiled their debut EP, ‘Everything Hurts’, in the run-up to last Christmas, the collective spoke to me in-depth about that, the experience of supporting Crazy Town last summer, and much more.

How did the band form?

OLI (vocals/guitar): Me and Sam were friends at school, and we were in punk bands together as teenagers, which never materialised too much, and Sam continued to play in several other bands, while I stopped playing guitar music for a few years, and tried to learn how to produce electronic stuff (which I failed, as it was too hard).

As we’re both very interested in left-wing politics, the dragging of mainstream political discourse even further to the right in recent years both offended and inspired us, so we resolved to go back to our roots, start a political punk band, and put the world to rights.

SAM CUMMINS (bass/vocals): Yeah, Oli was actually in my first ever band, the wonderfully named Massive Head Trauma, when we were both about 13, but that fizzled out after we went to college, uni, etc, and once I got back to Bolton, we were talking about doing something together for a good year or two before it actually happened.

As for Broughts (Rebecca Broughton, drums), I met her in a nightclub in Bolton, and she ended up joining one of my bands from uni, mediocre pop-punks We Were Kings, and as soon as Oli and I started getting serious, she was my go-to to fill the drum throne.

REBECCA BROUGHTON (drums): Yeah, Sam has already explained how we met, and he introduced me to Oli a few years back after mentioning starting up a new band, as I had been out of practice for about a year, and I was looking for any reason to start playing again, so here we are. Worked out pretty well, I think.

How did the name Kill The Masters come about?

OLI: We spent a long time coming up with different ideas, but nothing really seemed to suit us.

Again, the intention was to form a political punk band, and our politics revolves around the removal of pre-existing power structures in favour of horizontally-organised, worker-led systems, and we felt that it was important that the name represented the message we wanted to put out there.

In the end, we took the name from Game of Thrones, from the series where the slave army rises up and overthrow their masters, and there’s a scene prior to the rebellion where there’s some agitation scrawled in blood on the wall, “Kill The Masters“.

SAM: I actually thought Kill The Masters was a stroke of genius entirely down to Oli, and it was only a few months later, when I actually watched Game of Thrones, that I realised he’d stolen it. I should’ve known, really!

What would you say was the band’s main musical influences?

OLI: I’m a massive fan of Streetlight Manifesto, and whilst we’re not a ska band, we definitely incorporate elements of ska punk.

Lyrically, I’m mainly inspired by rap music, particularly Akala, he’s a great rapper, socially conscious, and so intelligent, and far and beyond my favourite lyricist is Tomas Kalnoky, who I wish I could write more like.

Musically, my main inspirations include Rise Against, The Clash, Leftover Crack, AFI, and Jaya the Cat.

SAM: Broadly similar to Oli, although my first ventures into punk and ska was more the British bands of the late 70s/early 80s, with bands like Stiff Little Fingers and the Specials being huge influences growing up.

I’m also a shameless fan of the sleazier American glam-punk bands like Motley Crue and Guns N Roses, and, like Oli, I’m partial to both British and US hip-hop, with Kendrick, Ocean Wisdom, Akala, and Lowkey being some of my favourites.

I’d like to give a shout out to Enter Shikari too, who I firmly believe to be the most innovative British band of my generation. I don’t think we’ll ever sound like them, but they blow my mind with how much they’ve spanned genres and sounds over the years.

You initially formed with the intention of becoming a serious political punk band, yet you are becoming known for having a more fun-oriented sound. What made you switch to that? 

We wanted to get gigging as soon as we could, so we basically spent the first few months nailing as many songs as we could without taking too much time over the songs.

Our plan was to get gigging, and then get more into the serious political side when we’d established ourselves a bit. I’d say we’re at this point now, so the next lot of songs will be more on the serious side, whether that be political or social.

That said, we are pretty stupid, so I’d be surprised if we left the fun stuff behind entirely.

SAM: I feel like we’ve got something to say for ourselves politically, hence tunes like ‘No Apologies’, but we’ve never been good enough musicians or songwriters to take ourselves too seriously, as for every angry political song, there’ll be one about how much I love my toolbox, or something daft like that.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting? 

OLI: It varies. Me and Sam have written all of our songs so far, but Broughton has some in the pipeline.

Usually, I’ll write the lyrics and guitar on acoustic, and then get the whole structure sorted along with a simple bassline, which I’ll then take to practice and show the others, and then, they’ll sort their own parts out. I can’t write bass or drums anywhere near as good as they can, so that works well.

On ‘No Apologies’, I wrote the music to Sam’s lyrics, and on ‘Drugs in the Sun’, I wrote the lyrics to Sam’s melody, so there’s no real set system, but generally, one of us will bring in a song that’s nearly done, and then we will work together to turn it into a full ensemble.

SAM: Yeah, Oli has pretty much covered it there. One of us will have an idea for a riff, melody, or a set of lyrics, and we tend to build on that from there.

From my point of view, being a bass player, I don’t have the same ear for melodies that Oli does, so I do tend to give him a lot of my lyrics for him to work into pieces of music, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

REBECCA: As a drummer, I’ve mostly been adding to other people’s work in rehearsals, as I’ve only recently got into songwriting after being involved with the band, and being inspired by some of the subjects the lads have touched upon.

I tend to get an idea of a topic, and start writing some lyrics down, before working on any kind of melody or chord structure. My skills on guitar are pretty limited, but I’m hoping the lads will be able to guide me with the creation of these new tunes.

It’ll be a new experience for me writing songs, and it’s great that the lads are being so supportive in me getting more hands-on in regards to the the songwriting for the band.

Towards the end of last year, the band unveiled their debut EP, ‘Everything Hurts’. How was the recording process for that? 

OLI: We recorded it with Dave at Red City Recordings, and he was fantastic, a truly awesome guy who is amazing at his craft. We loved every minute of the process, and if I could do that every day for a job, I’d jump at the chance.

SAM: I loved it. Dave was great to work with, he was able to make us sound way better than we actually are, and I got to catch up on loads of sleep while the other two recorded their parts.

What stood out for me was how much Dave pushed us into getting things perfect, because I’d think that I had nailed a take, and he’d come back with “Do that again, but better...”.

It certainly got the best out of us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

REBECCA: We had an amazing time working with Dave, and I enjoyed being pushed for each and every take for each song. I definitely crushed it harder than both the lads, though, so I guess they need to put a bit more practice in.

And how has the reaction been to the EP so far?

SAM: I like it, my mates like it, and even my mum doesn’t hate it, so that’ll do for me, and anything else will just be a massive bonus.

REBECCA: Yeah, my mum also mentioned enjoying it, as well, which was pretty great.

Up to now, you have mainly performed live in your home town of Bolton. How is the music scene there currently, in your opinion? 

OLI: It was amazing a few years ago, as there were a massive variety of local bands, full of sound people, but now, we’ve only got one venue left, to be honest, and the people who are trying to keep it alive are ace, but the scene has really suffered over the past few years.

We love the venue that is left, but the other real institution in our town tragically closed down, leaving a lot of the less heavy bands without any real home.

SAM: Having been in a couple of Bolton bands over the years, the scene has certainly declined, mainly due to the lack of venues.

There are still some great bands doing bits, but you see a lot of overspill these days from and to other towns, but stuff like that tends to move in cycles, though, as bands and venues will always come and go.

Last summer, the band supported Crazy Town in Bolton. That must have been quite an experience for you all. 

SAM: It was an honour. I was blown away by their set, which, with the greatest of respect to them, I wasn’t expecting.

REBECCA: It was probably the best experience I’ve had being a part of a band. The whole night was loads of fun, and sharing the stage with a band that have literally had a smash hit was amazing. We all had a proper decent night together as a band, and as mates, as well.

Also, how is it overall, for the band, playing on stage?

OLI: Good, but I’m not much of a performer, so there’s a lot of room for improvement in my opinion. We have a lot of ambitions to improve the show in the future, in order to make it more than just us playing a bunch of songs.

SAM: At the risk of disappearing up my own arse, it’s my happy place, as there’s nothing else in the world that comes close. I’ve been in and around the live music scene for the best part of a decade now, and it never gets old or boring.

It can be a slog, though, dragging yourself down to Sheffield, or up to Lancaster to play a set, especially when you have a raging hangover, but the minute we play that first note, it’s worth it a million times over.

REBECCA: It’s a dream playing with Sam and Oli, and I’ve always enjoyed sharing a stage with Sam, as we really work well together performance-wise. It’s nice watching Oli go for it as well, and I would like to say to him that he’s doing great, and is also a real sweetie.

And finally, what are your plans for the year ahead?

OLI: Another EP, I think, which we’re in the planning stages for right now. We also want to try and get gigs outside of the North West, so we can get our name further out there.

REBECCA: Gigs, gigs, and more gigs. I’m gonna start having some drum tuition again this year, as well, and I’ll see if I can get down a 250bpm hardcore beat down, so wish me luck!

kill the masters ep cover








asleep at the helm band photo

ASLEEP AT THE HELM (from l-r): Adam Kenyon (guitar/vocals), Brandon Carson (guitar/vocals), Dylan Barrett (lead vocals), Alex Dawson (drums), Ryan Johnson (bass/vocals)



Coming up to exactly one year since their formation, Asleep At The Helm truly made a mark on the metal scene of Manchester, their home city, in 2018, and things are very much looking up for them in 2019, having already received much positive feedback for debut album, ‘Dissonance’, which came out just before Christmas.

I recently chatted with the band’s lead vocalist, Dylan Barrett, and guitarist, Brandon Carson, to find out more about their experiences up to now, as well as what they have planned next.

How did the band initially get together?

DYLAN BARRETT (lead vocals): The band initially formed from me and Brandon trying to do a farewell thing with an old band, like a little EP, and then when the songs started to come together the way they did, we were surprised at how good some of the stuff was that we were writing, and then from there, Brandon got in touch with everyone else, and it just sort of fell into place.

How did the name Asleep At The Helm come about?

DYLAN: I’m sure the name came from Adam just firing out an endless list of band names, and we were pretty unsure about any of them, actually at one point, we were gonna go with the name Eyes Wide Shut, but then someone said Asleep At The Helm, and it just felt right!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DYLAN: In terms of songwriting, I can’t really comment for anything other than lyrics, but I feel the general approach is just Brandon and Adam spitballing ideas, and the ones we all like, we work on bit-by-bit and try to develop to a point where we all eel confident we have something we can call a song.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DYLAN: A lot of the lyrics are drawn from experiences, I wouldn’t say specific past experiences, but more in the sense of how something may have happened in life, and it made us feel a certain way, and then the rest is just finding other words that don’t sound cliched or absolutely stupid!

Just before Christmas, you brought out your debut album, ‘Dissonance’. How was the recording process for that?

DYLAN: The recording process was for the best part really fun, but there were days, especially for me, recording when we would have a full day’s worth of recording behind us, but I still wasn’t feeling like I was getting the right sounds to do the songs justice, and those days felt like a proper test, but we did it, we grinned and bared it, and stuck at it.

BRANDON CARSON (guitar/vocals): We produced the album by ourselves mainly, we tracked all of Alex’s drums at my old college I now work at (Bury College), who we would like to thank, by the way!

Tracking drums can be the hardest part during the recording stage of an EP or an album, so they really helped us out in that aspect with the tracking.

We did all of the guitars at Adam’s house, we then did the bass at my house, and then, we went back to Adam’s to do all the vocals there. We then sent all of our tracks off to Oskar Sutton at Infinite Audio, who did an incredible job mixing and mastering the album, and he is someone we would also like to thank!

And how has the reaction been to the album so far?

DYLAN: The reaction so far has been much better than what we could have expected, we’re hardly overnight sensations, but some of the reach the album has got and the support we’ve in turn received from all over has been breathtaking, and again, we couldn’t be more grateful for the people who have listened and enjoyed because ultimately it’s them who give us success.

BRANDON: We’ve also had great feedback from people who are in established bands in the metalcore scene such as Our Hollow, Our Home and InVisions, which we’re very blown away by!

The band hail from Manchester, a city that is better known for its indie music rather than its metal bands/artists. How is the metalcore scene there currently, in your opinion?

DYLAN: Honestly, the metal scene in Manchester used to be a lot bigger, but it’s the general musical influence of the city that allows us to get as many gigs as possible, as Manchester will always be a place where you will always find somewhere to gig, and it’s been that way since I can remember, and me and Brandon have gigged in Manchester since we were 15/16.

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

DYLAN: Playing live with the band, for me, is bliss. There’s simply no other way of putting it, because I feel like I’m completely unstoppable when I’m on stage with them, whether we’re playing to a small room of people or even just a couple of our friends at a local show, every gig just has that energy, and it’s incomparable to most other feelings.

What are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

DYLAN: So the year ahead for us is just practice, gig, and push the album as hard as we can, as we want ‘Dissonance’ to speak volumes for the work we’ve put in, which subsequently means putting more work in, but I speak for all of us when I say we’re ready for that!

BRANDON: The plan for the Asleep At The Helm camp this year is to just get out there really, we’re gonna be going further out in to new cities like Sheffield, Blackpool, and a few other places, which we will be announcing about very soon.

We’re more than ready to really hammer this year and pull in a lot of new listeners, possible new fans, and hopefully start touring!

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

DYLAN: The long-term aim is to make the music we love, with the people we love, for as long as possible.

Obviously, everyone dreams of seeing their name in big lights and having thousands of fans screaming at them when they play, but honestly, I would still be content with playing the local Manchester shows with the boys.

asleep at the helm album cover











silkrats band photo

SILKRATS (from l-r): Lewis Merrin (drums), Luna Valentine (lead vocals), Adam Kenney (guitar/vocals), Matt Nowak (bass)


An up-and-coming alternative rock band from Nottingham, Silkrats had a productive end to 2018, having released a first single, ‘Partners In Crime’, as well as making their live debut in the band’s home city, and they have a determination, in 2019, to keep up the momentum that has so far been generated.

Here’s what the quartet had to say to me when we chatted recently:

How did the band form?

MATT NOWAK (bass): The three dudes in the band have been friends for a very long time. We met when we were at school, and we were in a (terrible) band together back then too. We remain the very best of friends after all these years, and the band only gives us another reason to hang out together, other than just getting pissed.

Silkrats formed when Adam persuaded Lewis and myself to give being a band another try – and we did take some persuading, to be honest, as unlike Adam, we had both taken a step back from playing music publicly, having grown disillusioned after the breakdown of previous projects, but we’re very glad that he talked us round.

We met Luna online, and she gelled with us remarkably quickly and easily, both musically, and as a bandmate, but it can’t have been easy for her entering the old and tight friendship that the other three members of the band hold. She’s done an amazing job so far.

How did the name Silkrats come about?

MATT: Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything. For some reason, we thought it would be cool to have something with an animal in the name, and our drummer eventually suggested the name Silkrats.

By that time, we were about ready to book gigs and start releasing some tunes, so we had reached a stage where we just needed a name, any name, and thought it would do. I wish we had a cooler story behind it, to be honest, but we don’t.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MATT: So far, we’ve written as a group mostly, and I like it that way, as I think it works for us. Personally, I prefer working on something together, rather than one of us bringing a complete idea to the other guys and saying, “Here’s the song, learn it“, and collaborating this way means we all have more of a shared attachment to the songs.

My style is more “riff arrangement“, whereas Adam has a great ear for hooks and choruses. Together, I think we make a decent team, and are able to fill in the holes in each other’s ideas.

Up until now, Adam has written all of the vocals/lyrics, but the vocal melodies inevitably change a bit once Luna gets her hands on them – it’s always a very pleasant surprise to hear her take them on.

What inspires the band lyrically?

ADAM KENNEY (guitar): I’ve always hated writing lyrics, but bringing in Luna has been liberating – I don’t have to feel self-conscious about it, because I’m not the one singing them!

Lyrically, no song is about one particular thing, as there are multiple themes in most of the songs. I get very bored writing about one singular subject, so there’s usually a line about one thing, and then another about something completely different.

Recently, you brought out your debut single, ‘Partners In Crime’. How was the recording process for that?

MATT: We actually did it ourselves – hopefully, it’s not too obvious! We were on a bit of a budget, so we recorded the song at home using fairly entry level microphones, a MacBook Air, and Logic Pro X.

It’s been years since I recorded anything “properly“, the last time being when I did my music tech A-level about ten years ago, but it was fun shaking off the cobwebs and re-teaching myself how to use various plug-ins, etc.

We wanted to self-record, so that we could take our time, both tracking and mixing, so that we could be pickier about the artistic side of things without the time pressures of working in a “proper” studio, and given the circumstances, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve produced.

And how has the reaction been to the track so far?

LUNA VALENTINE (lead vocals): The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I think there’s no better feeling in this world than seeing other people enjoy something that we’ve created.

The band hail from Nottingham. What is the state of the alternative rock scene in the city, in your opinion, currently?

LUNA: It depends on what lens you’re looking at it through. From a punter’s perspective, it’s pretty great, as we have several venues that put on touring bands (courtesy of the DHP group – Rock City, The Bodega, Rescue Rooms), as well as an arena for larger acts, and a couple of annual urban festivals (Dot To Dot, Hockley Hustle, Beat The Streets).

As a band though, it can be difficult to find a respectable venue (ie. not a pub with a bit of spare floor space) that will put on emerging local acts, there’s only a handful of those. Huge shout out to The Maze though – they gave us our first gig, and are always willing to give local artists a chance.

And you recently made your live debut in your home city. How was that as an experience?

It went really well! It was great to finally get out there, and show people what we’ve been working on all this time, and we think it was pretty well-received too. We can’t wait to do it again.

And finally, what are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

We’re just trying to get ourselves out there, and we would love to play more gigs! We have five other songs in production already, and the plan at the moment is to release them one at a time as singles, but we’ll see.

silkrats single cover