All posts by muzakreview


Slam Cartel Photo

SLAM CARTEL (from l-r): Marc Neudeck (bass), Terence Warville (guitar), Steve Campkin (drums), Gary Moffat (vocals), JC (lead guitar)


Hailing from London, Slam Cartel began life as an idea by former Stimulator guitarist Terence Warville, and ever since, the band have gone from strength to strength, releasing a critically acclaimed debut album “Handful Of Dreams”, building a strong fan base with their pure hard rock, and recently embarking on a eagerly-anticipated UK tour.

They also happen to have some new music out.

“Storm Seasoned”, which the band says is a super ballad, has been played over and over on around 200 radio stations worldwide and an eagerly-awaited new single “WorldStarLove” will be released in the summer.

I spoke to them recently about all things Slam Cartel.

How did you get together?

Word of mouth, friends recruiting friends, and shuffling around ’til we got the right line up, which we really feel we have now.

How did you get the name Slam Cartel?

Just a name thought up that sounded big, sounded established but doesn’t really mean anything apart from whatever comes to mind.

What are the inspirations for your music?

Life, love, loss, the universe and everything.

In regards to the band’s songwriting, is it a group effort or is down to just one or two of you?

We all pool ideas, stuff gets added and removed, and we brainstorm the lyrics. It is very much a band effort.

Someone will have an idea in their head and bring it into the studio, after jamming it 2 or 3 times we will bring in other ideas, structures and play it in different keys just to get the best out of it.

Our producer will then bring something into the equation and hey presto, we have a brand new song.

Sometimes it just happens naturally and quickly, sometimes it takes a bit more time.

What are your views on the current state of the music industry?

The old days of the music “industry” are dying, the charts are full of mass produced soulless brain candy.

Move away from the mainstream however and you’ll find all kinds of wonderful art, bands doing it for themselves, for the love.

With social media making it easy to self-promote and with instruments so cheap at the moment there are millions of new bands every week, but you have to be 100% committed to the long haul and you have to be good to get noticed, which ultimately, is a good thing.

Even if you’ve got a tiny audience you give them the best, and if that’s not good enough for you, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

We do our own thing, regardless of what’s going on. We love it, that’s why we do it.

How is it playing live?

It’s what it’s all about!! Loud, sweaty, hot, fun, lively and dreamsome!
You can have the worst day ever, have the weight of the world on your shoulders but as soon as the first note hits on stage, nothing else matters in the world apart from that time on stage.

Music heals all ills and this is also what we want the audience to feel like.

It’s a shared experience, with everyone in the room connected. They see us in the moment and we want that to cross over.

Everyone goes home happy!

What would you say your style of music is?

Rock. Music is music, all boundaries are artificial, and we don’t like this tribal mentality that if you’re a jazz fan or a blues fan you can’t listen to anything else, we listen to everything!

The tour van has a real variety of different stuff playing depending on our moods!

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

Carry on, play more gigs, write more songs, achieve world peace, and also to be the band that everyone is talking about!

Come and see us play live – it’s what we do!





Yakobo Interview Photo


James Currey, aka Yakobo, is a solo singer-songwriter from Derby.

Originally from rural Norfolk, he came to the Midlands city seven years ago to study music at the local university.

Deciding to remain in Derby after graduation, he has made a name for himself on the local music scene as an emerging talent appealing to a wide audience with his eclectic sound.

The first of what is to be a trilogy of EPs, “Wander in the Wilderness”, was released towards the end of last year and has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction so far.

With the second and third parts to come later this year and having played a brilliant set at the 2Q Festival last month, I decided to have a chat with him about his career so far and what the future holds.

Yakobo, it’s quite an interesting name. How did it come about?

That’s a good question. I went to Uganda once, I met some people out there, and that’s what they kept calling me.
I found out later that it comes from Ancient Hebrew, I think.

How did you end up in Uganda?

It was a voluntary thing with a church group.

With them, I’ve had some amazing opportunities to go to a few different places in the world and see some of the projects that the church has worked on, such as in orphanages, communities and hospitals, which has served as good inspiration for my music.

Does your faith play a big role in what you are?

Yeah, I suppose you could say that.

I’m part of a church here in Derby, which is really cool.

They do some stuff, for example a food bank, that sort of thing.

It does feed in my music, even though the themes aren’t overtly religious, but I try to write songs that are honest and reflect my life and experiences up to now.

What made you want to become a musician?

I grew up listening to everything from classical music to Britpop and grunge, which my elder brother was very into, so I listened to a lot of the albums he had, and I would often get them and listen to them while he was out.

One of the albums my brother had was ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana and the first time I heard it, it blew me away.

I was also learning the violin from a young age, so I’ve always had an interest in classical music.

My mum plays a bit of piano, and one of the reasons why I picked up a guitar in the first place was when I was around ten or eleven, my dad went through a mid-life crisis phase.

He brought an acoustic guitar and taught me a few chords, and that’s what started me off playing the guitar, putting me on the road to where I am now.

What’s the inspiration behind your music?

I tend to have an eclectic style.

I’m a singer-songwriter who mainly plays acoustic, but there is a whole range of influences.

I try to absorb as much music as I can, and it does seem to all filter through in a small way.

Definitely some of the Californian singer-songwriters from the 70’s, like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor have influenced me, and I suppose their modern-day equivalents have too, like Surfjan Stevens, people like that.

Recently, I’ve been getting into jazz, soul and funk.

I do try to keep my musical tastes as broad as possible, because I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself, there’s so much good music out there, and everything I listen to, I seem to go ‘I want to play that music’.

Obviously, I have a sound and voice that is Yakobo, but it’s a very fluid concept.

You’ve lived in Derby for a while now. How do you find the local music scene?

It’s not bad, there are some really talented musicians here, and there are certain venues on certain nights which have great vibes to them.

I think the 2Q Festival was good for the city, it had six venues, sold out and was great, plus there were a team of volunteers who worked hard behind the scenes to make it all happen.

At the end of the day, it’s a small city, so there isn’t really an infinite amount of audience, but it’s in a good place geographically, with Nottingham, Leicester and Sheffield all in close proximity, I try to go to those places as much as I can to play gigs.

Your first EP of a planned trilogy was released not long ago. Why do a trilogy of EPs when you could put them all together into an album?

Well, partly because I’m slightly commitment-phobe and didn’t want to go straight into doing a full album, because I feel it’s a big thing.

To me, it made more sense to break things up a bit into different sections.

They vaguely follow a theme, they’re all a collection of songs that I have written over the past six years, so it didn’t feel like a cohesive album unit.

The trilogy, I feel , will give me a chance to explore different things, and then build up from there hopefully.

How was the recording process for the EP?

It was really good fun, and I love the process of recording in the studio.

Last year, I started up a Kickstarter campaign, which raised a few thousand pounds, which enabled me to have more studio time, which I was so grateful for.

I went to a place called Vale Studios in Worcestershire, which is a really cool place.

It’s an old country manor house, which you can stay in while you record.

I worked with a great producer and engineer called Chris, and it was fun to have that extra time and space in the studio.

We picked the songs apart, and developed the songs by trying out different ideas.

When I listened back, I was really pleased with the outcome because the songs seemed to sound better than they were in my head.

How has the reaction been so far?

It’s been really positive, some very good comments and reviews, and it has been picked up by a few blogs and YouTube channels.

At the moment, it’s rather a difficult climate in which to sell your music, with streaming and what not.

Do you think that streaming is damaging or maybe even killing off the music industry?

It’s changing it, you can kill some parts of the music industry, but you will never kill off music, because people will always want to create it and consume it.

You just have to be more inventive in how you do things now as a musician.

I do feel you need to stand out more, because more and more people are trying it.

In some ways, it makes people try harder and do their best.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

Good question. Sometimes, you can bogged down in the same day-to-day stuff, so I want to take Yakobo as far as I can, reach a wider audience, hone my sound, develop as an artist and write songs that speak to an audience more.

I do want to find an audience that gets more of what I’m doing with my music, but I’m really proud of my work so far and I’d like to think that my best work is yet to come.



Dead! interview photo

DEAD! (from l-r): Louis Matlock (rhythm guitar), Alex Mountford (vocals), Sam Chappell (bass), Sam Matlock (lead guitar)
Not in photo: Adam Breeze (drums)


The city of Southampton seems to have become a hotbed of emerging rock talent in recent years.

In the last decade, bands such as Band of Skulls, Bury Tomorrow and more recently, Creeper have broken through.

Now, it’s the turn of five-piece DIY punk group Dead!

The music press have said that there are the one of the bands to watch in 2016.

I caught up with them after they played a great set at the 2Q Festival in Derby.

Firstly, how did the band get together?

ALEX MOUNTFORD (vocals): We formed in 2012. Some of the guys were at uni together, I had known Sam (Matlock, lead guitarist) for a few years beforehand.

They started up Dead!, and needed a singer, so they sent me their first single, ‘Damned Restless Future’, which is now the name of our fan club.

From there, we played a few gigs and have carried on playing DIY punk ever since.

How did you come up with the name Dead!?

SAM MATLOCK (lead guitar): I’m an admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche (19th century German philosopher) and his theory of nihilism, which suggests there are no morals, no religion and a belief in individual freedom.

There’s a chapter in a book of his called ‘God Is Dead’, which upset a lot of Christians when it was first published, mainly because they didn’t read it!

When we started, we thought “Let’s f****** go for it and see what happens.”

Nietzsche’s had a big influence on us, and I think on the DIY punk scene as a whole.

When we announce gigs, new songs whatever, we say ‘Such and Such Is Dead!’ which is a little nod.

What brought you to the 2Q Festival?

SAM M: The money!

No, seriously, we just want to play as many different places as we can, because, especially with the younger members of the crowd, it may be their first experience of seeing a live rock band, and we need to make sure they get a good first impression of us.

What’s the inspiration behind your music?

SAM CHAPPELL (bass): A lot of stuff to be honest, books, comics, films.

SAM M: I think inspiration can come from anywhere.

I write a lot of music for the band, and we’ve just finished a tour, going round the country, playing with loads of different bands every night.

I think it’s cool to do that, even if they don’t necessarily play the same genre.

I mean, festivals like the one we’ve played today are great, they have an eclectic line-up, some of the bands you might not like, but if you hear someone play something really good, you get slightly jealous, and think to yourself “Why can’t I write more stuff like that?”

When you’re back home and playing about with your guitar, all of the experiences you’ve had whilst on tour come flooding back.

Also, if you watch a film with a really good vibe to it, it makes you want to write a song that could be on the soundtrack.

With songwriting, is it a team effort or more down to just one or two of you?

SAM M: It varies.

When we’re jamming in the rehearsal room, sometime I’ll come up with something, play it to Alex, who adds vocals to it, and then show it to the rest of the band.

They either like it or don’t, if they do, they’ll suggest some ideas on how to change it.

Maybe, in about 100 years or so, they’ll listen to it and go “Let’s f****** play it as it is!”

How is it playing live?

SAM M: I think we’re getting there.

When we started, we were just focused on having a good time, that still applies, but over the years, we have started to realise where we need to be as a band.

We all enjoy playing live music, and most of all, we want the people who come to our gigs to come out afterwards thinking “That was f****** good!”

Now, we do value more the importance of making our live performances as flawless as possible.

With our early gigs, if any of us missed a note, we’d shrug it off and carry on, whereas now, it’s important to hit every note, because we wrote them for a reason.

When you’re playing a song the best you can, you can do the f*** the want, the better we are, the happier.

It then only depends on whether the crowd likes you or not.

ALEX: You can listen to a recorded album time and time again, but you’ll never get a real perspective of what a band is all about until you have seen them live.

What’s the band’s opinion on the current state of the music industry?

SAM M: It depends on which parts of it, if you look at the situation with Ke$ha and all that, it’s a load of s***, the pop world really needs to pull its f****** socks up.

But the rock world is really pushing f****** hard at the moment, what Bring Me The Horizon have done, they’re on top of the world right now, is encouraging.

A lot of it is down to the bands.

LOUIS MATLOCK (rhythm guitar): I think a lot of it is down to the press, to be honest.

SAM M: Personally, I’ve enjoyed meeting loads of people in the industry, a lot of bands moan that it’s evil, but it’s not.

If you can go out there and meet the right people, the industry is full of creative types who actually give a s***.

Yeah, the money’s good, but they f****** care, they have some great ideas, and always saying “Do you want to go to this gig or that gig?”

I’ve never met people before who can go to so many gigs, and never tire of it, but there are other parts of the industry that let it all down, they seem afraid to take chances.

SAM C: 90% of people in the rock industry were in touring bands, and they settled down and got actual jobs doing something they love.

ALEX: We’re young, so we don’t have to worry about that just yet, at least not for another year.

Finally, what are you hopes and plans for the future?

SAM M: World domination!

Dunno, we all like cats, so would like to have more of them in the near future.

ALEX: We’ve got loads of great stuff coming up.

In our heads, we want to be the best musicians, the best band.

This summer’s going to be really important for us, we’re going to have some incredible f****** shows.

We’re playing Download, Slam Dunk, Reading & Leeds amongst others.

SAM M: We’re also supporting Hands Like Houses on tour, and we’ll be playing some of the same venues with them that we played recently, which there is nothing wrong with, because the crowd will be different, and more people will become aware of us.




Rinse interview photo

RINSE (from l-r): Josh Hassall (bass), Rick Hewitt (lead guitar), Josh Hollingworth (vocals/rhythm guitar), Ollie McNicholas (drums)


RINSE are a four-piece indie rock band from Stoke-on-Trent.

They have only been together for two years, but have already made a critically-acclaimed EP, played as support for groups such as The Horrors and Palma Violets, and have won over fans and critics alike with their diverse music.

No wonder Steve Lamacq of BBC 6 Music has tipped them to be one of this year’s breakthrough bands.

I spoke to lead vocalist Josh Hollingworth about Rinse’s past, present and future.

Firstly, how did the band get together?

We have all been mates for years. I, Rick and Ollie were in a band together before and that ended around the same time that Josh’s band split up, so we all got together and started RINSE.

How did you come up with RINSE for the band’s name?

When we first started, it took us a while to get a name to stick, because nothing seemed to sound right. There were a few we did like, such as Rain Babies, Scruffs, Womps, but I think Rick came up with RINSE and we liked the sound of it, so it stuck.

What are the band’s musical influences?

We all have quite a different taste in music really. I think this helps our sound as a band, as there is something in every one of our tunes that come from bands or artists who sound nothing like us.

What or who are the inspirations for your songs?

Anything and everything really. We write what comes naturally to us, so nothing ever seems forced. Some tunes can take us up to two or three months, whereas others we can smash in a night.

When writing your music, does it tend to be a team effort or is there one person in the band who likes to have creative control?

Most of the time, we all write as a collective, but some of our songs have been written by one member and we have added all of our own bits once it’s been brought into the studio.

What have you got lined up for the future?

We have a small tour coming up in May and June and another one in September, we’re playing a few festivals, releasing another single and maybe another EP.

Finally, how far would you like the band to go?

As far as we can get it really, it would be quality if we could pack in our jobs and just concentrate on doing the band.


TONIGHT ALIVE – ‘Limitless’ (4/5)


Tonight Alive Cover


‘Limitless’, the third studio album from Australian rockers Tonight Alive, marks a departure from the emo/pop-punk sound which defined their first two offerings.

It has been seen by some as a huge creative risk by a group who have gained a solid fanbase with their angst-ridden music.

However, it seems to be a gamble that has paid off well.

Under the slick producing of David Bendeth, whose client list reads like a who’s-who of bands that have made it big over the past decade, there is a more polished sound.

Also, the overall vibe seems to be more upbeat and positive, right down to the vocal delivery, playing of the instruments and songwriting.

This is most evident in tracks such as ‘How Does It Feel?’ and ‘Human Interaction’, which best showcases the band’s musical evolution and growing maturity.

‘Limitless’ may result in a division of the fans, one half feeling they have sold themselves out by aiming for a wider audience with poppier compositions, the other half applauding them for being brave by embracing a change in style.

Whatever the viewpoint, vocalist Jenna McDougall said recently in an interview that Tonight Alive have had to evolve, because they have grown up now and it would be stupid to keep writing songs about being a teenager.

In conclusion, this album could have been a disaster for the band, but with their natural talent and more mature outlook on life, it has resulted in their best album yet.

TOP TRACK: ‘How Does It Feel?’

HACKTIVIST – ‘Outside The Box’ (4/5)


Hacktivist Cover


Having burst onto the scene in 2012 with their self-titled debut EP, Hacktivist’s first full-length studio album has been eagerly anticipated.

Well, now the wait is over and on listening, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

The sound is mostly a blend of heavy metal and grime, with the heavy guitar riffs of Tim ‘Timfy James’ Beazley in harmony with the raps of vocalist Jermaine ‘J’ Hurley.

It shouldn’t work so well, but it does.

The Milton Keynes band is a young, openly political outfit, something that seems to be relatively rare in the music industry these days.

The frank lyrics act as an indicator to this, the majority of the tracks act as a criticism of governments and the super-wealthy.

‘False Idols’ attacks politicians who say they want to make a real difference, but in reality, are no different to their peers, while ‘No Way Back’ accuses those with wealth and power of destroying the world with their greed and corruption.

With this, Hacktivist issue a rallying cry to the listener to get out there and start a revolution, resulting in the ousting of the elite.

Other subjects are touched upon, ‘Deceive and Decay’ criticises reality TV contestants for searching for instant fame and fortune.

Tracks such as ‘Hate’ and ‘Outside The Box’ act as a thank you from the band to their fans for sticking with them, even when others said they would never make it.

Overall, it is a strong debut from a talented group, and will definitely appeal to those who are disgruntled with the modern world and where it is heading.

TOP TRACK: ‘Elevate’

THE CULT – Rock City, Nottingham, 29/02/16


The Cult photo

Rock legends The Cult rolled into Nottingham and shook the iconic Rock City venue to its foundations with an energetic performance.

The band were in the home of Robin Hood as part of a world tour, coinciding with the release of their tenth studio album ‘Hidden City’.

The venue was packed to the rafters with fans, some who have only discovered The Cult in recent years, others who have been followers since their debut ‘Dreamtime’ was released 32 years ago.

When the band entered the stage, an almighty cheer, rather akin to one at a football match, greeted them.

Frontman Ian Astbury resembled Gene Simmons with his all-black attire, tanned skin, most likely gained through years spent in the Californian sunshine, shoulder-length jet black hair and dark sunglasses.

Meanwhile, lead guitarist Billy Duffy almost had the physique of an Olympic weightlifter.

Both of them were on top form, Astbury released his inner Jim Morrison by strutting across the stage and confidently interacting with the audience, even taking the time to verbally attack Keith Richards for calling Black Sabbath ‘a big joke’.

Duffy let his guitar playing do the talking, even slightly smiling to himself when looking briefly at the audience, who were lapping it up.

The band played a diverse range of tracks, from the classics such as ‘Fire Woman’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, through to some of their latest tunes.

Astbury and Duffy must have been pleased to see that the newer songs got just as positive a reaction from the audience as the greatest hits of their long careers.

By the time they drew to a close with ‘Love Removal Machine’, you could literally feel the buzz around the venue.

This gig showed that despite the fact that both Astbury and Duffy are both well into middle age now, they can still put on a show that some of the current bands, with members young enough to be their children, would find impossible to do.