Category Archives: Features

LOUZADA – ‘The Z Files’ TRACK-BY-TRACK

Louzada band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Louzada will be unveiling debut EP ‘The Z Files‘ this Friday, and with it being highly-anticipated by the London hard rock outfit’s rapidly-growing legion of followers, the band recently took the time to go through the upcoming release with me.

INITIAL IDEA

Our idea for ‘The Z Files‘ was to create something striking, in terms of both how it looked and how it sounded. We enlisted the services of Visual Decay Art & Design to create the wanted poster-style front cover.

The title fitted well, because it portrayed the band as being on the run and showing off our new breed of rock and roll everywhere we go. It sounds clichéd, but we feel this concept, and who we are matched perfectly!

‘ALL OVER THE WORLD’

This song is simply a powerful expression of who we are and what we aspire to do, therefore we deemed it to be the perfect opener for the EP. Lots of our idols started off their albums in the exact same fashion!

We basically wrote this song with one question in mind, “How can we make this song sound as much like AC/DC as possible?” Obviously the subject of this song is something that those guys have been doing for so many years, so we thought it was the perfect formula to follow! Everything about this song screams AC/DC from start to finish.

‘DREAMING OF YOU’

This is definitely our most commercially successful song on the EP. Every band has their sing-along favourite, and this is ours! This one has a summer vibe to it; it’s about meeting a girl and falling in love!

In terms of musicality, we took our hard rock sound and incorporated blues and a pop-style chorus into it, as these are two things that many music fans can instantly identify. We took our inspiration from 80’s glam bands such as Whitesnake and Mötley Crüe in both the instrumentation and vocal styles.

‘DROWN’

This is another song that we intended to relate with our listeners on an emotional level, and another one with a story behind it that many people can relate to. It portrays the situation of an abusive relationship, where one party is being controlled, used, and lied to by the other, and the lyrics depict the feelings and thoughts of the sufferer as the situation progresses.

The title of the song speaks for itself; anybody in an abusive situation feels their sanity and mental health slowly deteriorating. It also depicts the moment that the sufferer says enough is enough and fights back. The melodies and chord progressions here were largely inspired by modern alternative rock bands such as the Foo Fighters and Nickelback.

‘WHAT’S COMING NOW’

This is the most aggressive track on the EP, and it really shows off our influences from bands such as Metallica and Motörhead. This one can be interpreted in several ways, for example, some may interpret it as our response to current issues in the world, and the chaos that ensues as a result.

However, others may interpret it in a more music-oriented way. The chorus starts with the line, “The world isn’t ready for what’s coming now…“. In this way, it refers to our new rock sound, which we want to show off to the world.

‘DEMONS’

This one is the most complex song on the EP. The changes in the groove and tempo in the second half of the song, and the intense playing style of all the instruments make it a suitable closing track.

It talks about mental health, which is something that continues to be a huge issue, especially in the music industry, and the first half portrays an individual battling the demons in his head, feeling like he has nowhere to go, and nobody to turn to, however, the second half of the song portrays the person’s determination to battle his demons and ultimately win his fight.

Bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Helloween, and Alice In Chains were a huge influence on us when writing this song with the slow-to-fast tempo change, the guitar melodies, the vocal styles, and the intense double kick drum towards the end.

In summary, this song is our way of encouraging those who are struggling that they can and will overcome any obstacle, no matter the size.

Louzada EP Cover

‘THE Z FILES’ – THE DEBUT EP FROM LOUZADA – WILL BE RELEASED THIS FRIDAY, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE & HERE.

 

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A CHAT WITH LOUZADA

Louzada band logo

by ZAK SLOMAN

This Friday, London collective Louzada will be releasing their debut EP – entitled ‘The Z Files‘ – which will undoubtedly see the band build on their rapidly-growing reputation.

Formed in the autumn of 2017 by vocalist Jason Payne, bassist Ted Phipps, and drummer Izzy Taylor, who were all students at the UK capital’s British And Irish Modern Music Institute (or BIMM for short) campus, the then-trio – whose name originated from Jason‘s home town in his native Portugal – got to work straight away, meeting on a daily basis to rehearse.

However, the wheels would only be put into further motion when the outfit began to collaborate with esteemed producer Stuart Epps – who has worked in the past with such legendary musical names as Led Zeppelin, Oasis, and George Harrison.

We enjoyed the time we spent with Stuart“, the band say, “He really helped us to grow in regards to both our sound, and as musicians.

This experience gave the collective the confidence to further develop a diversely-influenced hard rock sound that takes no prisoners, strikes the right balance of retro and contemporary, and is accompanied by lyrical content inspired by issues that are relatable to listeners everywhere, which is something that they first effectively showcased last year with inaugural track, ‘Dreaming Of You‘.

That song was a real game-changer, because as a result of that, we came to be one of the most streamed London bands on ReverbNation, and we started to get plenty of invitations to play live shows.

From there, Louzada began to really make a mark on the city’s underground live music scene, impressing crowds with mesmerising, high-energy sets, including one at the Camden Rocks Festival earlier this summer, and this is something that the outfit – who recently added rhythm guitarist Johnny Hail to their ranks – are keen to capture with the upcoming release.

The EP will mark a paradigm shift in the music world. It has a very powerful sound with a driving pulse, and it’s going to show the world that rock isn’t dead – it is actually very much alive and well.

It is a bold statement from a band who have so far only brought out a handful of singles, however, having now successfully broken through into a scene where many musicians have gone before, and have failed spectacularly, it has to be justified.

Louzada EP Cover

‘THE Z FILES’ – THE DEBUT EP FROM LOUZADA – WILL BE RELEASED THIS FRIDAY, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

BUNKERPOP – ‘Bunkerpop’ ALBUM TRACK-BY-TRACK

Bunkerpop band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Recently, rapidly-emerging Hull five-piece Bunkerpop unveiled a self-titled debut album, which they had spent the best part of a year working on, constantly tweaking what had been recorded to ensure that the release would be the best it could possibly be, as well as being an accurate reflection of the band’s eclectic and distinctive sound.

Unlike the majority of albums, the collective opted to split their first offering into four parts – all named after colours – each comprising of three tracks, and they were happy to go through them all in detail with me.

RED SIDE

‘START SOMETHING WITH A STOP’

This track started off in life as a tune called ‘Disko Socks‘, which we used to play live, and was quite a favourite in the early days. It didn’t quite work on the recording, so we basically took everything off the live take and stripped it back apart from four bars of Jonathan‘s synth line, which we repeated over and over again.

It’s the most Kraftwerk-type tune we have, and conjures up images of speeding down the autobahn in true krautrock style.

‘(ARE YOU READY) FOR SOMETHING’

The obvious choice for the single from the album. It has elements of The Chemical Brothers and charity shop Daft Punk to the sound. Paul and Jonathan did the vocoder parts, with the original dialogue coming from a YouTube clip of a crazy preacher man trying to convert the masses at a church.

‘BUNKERPOP THEME’

The first track the band ever practiced together in full. Jonathan started it with a squelching from his synth, Carlos joined in, and the rest of us followed.

The dialogue track came from a promotional record bigging up a 1970’s local radio station somewhere in the south of England, and Trevor – the band’s bassist – has a selection of bizarre sound effects records that we draw from when we need something a bit odd to add to proceedings.

BLUE SIDE

‘STOP’

This is the track we used to open every live set with for the first year. It came about from an improvised jam, and we really loved it. Paul added the Camberwick Green acoustic guitar to give it a nostalgic feel that took us all back to our childhoods.

‘KIJK’

This tune started off being called ‘Three Times The Stabs‘, and it was called this right up until about a month before the final mixes. It has been described as “Super Mario on acid” by fans of the band. It’s a live favourite, and was BBC Introducing‘s track of the week a few weeks ago.

‘LUISTER’

This started off as the weakest track on the album, as it really wasn’t doing anything. The three tunes on this side all meld into each other, and this really was a bit lame, so Mark and Paul cut it up, sliced it, spliced, thrashed, and added chopped-up bits from the original live take to come up with something we rather like, so it’s bizarre.

The three songs on this side are Dutch brothers….the English translation is ‘Stop, Look, Listen‘.

​WHITE SIDE

‘NEWTOWN’

The only track on the album with “proper” lyrics. The words are descriptive of the boredom of city centre living and town centres in general. It highlights town centre planning, town centre furniture, town centre zombies, and town centre mediocrity….which we quite like. It also features our friend Salbo Baggins (The Dyr Sister) on strings.

‘DON’T UPSET THE HAWK’

A one-chord live jam that was pretty boring until we cut it up in the studio and added overdubs. Nice, fuzzy, and percussive. Carlos the drummer plays a blinder.

The dialogue comes from an Australian TV interview with Lou Reed. Lou wasn’t playing that day, so the interviewer’s questions were more interesting than his answers.

Also, watch out for the new video made by Nicholas Broten of Fonda 500 for this track…one of our personal favourites from the album.

‘WET BRAINS’

Wet Brains‘ was the first song we practiced after Paul returned from an eight-month trip travelling around Europe.

It’s in ‘B’ minor, which is unusual for us, as we normally stay in the majors. It’s very dub and laid back right until the end when the band goes nuts. It also features sound effects from a steam boat, and Nicholas Broten on razor guitar.

BLACK SIDE

‘HARMONY WHEEL’

This was originally about three minutes too long, so we cut much of it out. It’s a very playful tune which reminds us of a Henry Mancini tune called ‘Baby Elephant Walk‘ for some reason.

It’s a delightful plod through the jungle, and the dialogue once again comes from one of Trevor‘s sound effects records.

‘LOVELY ENO’

This was the biggest surprise on the album. It’s basically a live improvisation towards the end of the last recording session with a few overdubs from Mark in the studio eight months later.

Basically, we had some spare time, so we just pressed record and went for it after a few false starts, which we kept on the record as we really rather liked them. Paul and Trevor both play bass on the live take, and Jonathan‘s parts were recorded with his headphones plugged in, so we didn’t hear what he was playing until we pressed the recorded playback.

It’s a gorgeous, atmospheric piece of muzak.

‘ACTION AFTER WARNINGS’

Action After Warnings‘ is a song title we had for ages, but couldn’t find a tune to fit. It was going to be the album title too. This tune basically followed straight on from the improvisation of ‘Lovely Eno‘….we just kept on playing. Mark, Jonathan, and Paul added overdubs of guitar, keyboards, and melodica in the studio…and hey presto!

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM BUNKERPOP IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE & HERE.

 

A CHAT WITH BUNKERPOP

Bunkerpop band logo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Since forming in the spring of 2016, five-piece Bunkerpop have been building up a devoted legion of followers, initially in their home city of Hull, and now spreading across the UK, with a truly unique, mostly instrumental sound drawn from an eclectic range of musical influences, as well as live performances that actively encourage audience participation.

However, the genesis of the band happened to be a complete accident. “We were originally practicing just for a David Bowie tribute night at the Adelphi (a popular live music venue), which Jonathan – our keyboard and synth player – had organised.

During the practice session, the five members suddenly began to jam with their instruments in unison, and sensing positive vibes from this impromptu musical collaboration, they all decided to meet again for another practice, where the quintet put together their first track, entitled ‘Bunkerpop Theme‘.

With a name stemming from both an unforgiving windowless concrete space underneath a stand at the city football team’s stadium, and a song by Mancunian post-punk singer-songwriter LoneLady, Bunkerpop got to work on honing their approach to songwriting.

We have a three-pronged approach to songwriting. Sometimes, somebody will start playing something, and then the rest of us join in, which is sometimes very successful, and occasionally awful. Other times, we’ll start from scratch in the studio, build a tune up that way, and then practice it for live performance. We also combine those two approaches to come up with a third way, where we will record a live take, then splice it up, add things, take things away, and spew it out the other side.

The latter approach is what the quintet opted for when it came to recording their recently-released debut album.

We recorded it over three sessions, and we got our friend Bob Wingfield to engineer and press record whilst we basically played live. We then took the recordings, and worked, re-worked, and worked on them again. Some stuff was dumped altogether.

This is something the Humberside collective would consistently do over the next 12 months, taking many hours and days making everything as perfect as it could possibly be, and once they were completely satisified, the band sent it over to mastering supremo Pete Maher, who has worked with the likes of the White Stripes and U2, who – in the five-piece’s words – “gave it a shiny finish“.

Unlike the majority of bands and artists out there, Bunkerpop mostly eschew lyrical content in favour of samples of dialogue and sound effects. It plays a big role in what they do, and how the outfit present themselves, and this way, “the songs are open for interpretation, and we trust the listener to have enough integrity to come up with their own thoughts and feelings.

This is something that also applies to the album as a whole, with the offering comprising of three songs on four sides, all named after colours. “We decided not to number the sides, as we didn’t want to have the listeners to think which one is best, so instead, they’re coloured sides. Each side is a mood, so the listener can choose a mood instead of an order.

And this is reflected in the overall sound, which the band have described as “gorgeous“. “It’s groovy and strange. You can dance to some sides or you can chill out to others. Some of it is very pretty and nostalgic, whilst other parts are aggressive and fuming with the state of it all.

Now the album has finally been released, the quintet are currently on a summer tour, which will see them play festivals and venues across the UK, and although rather gruelling, playing live is something they simply love doing. “We do not stand for mediocre, because why should anyone stand for that? The audience play a big part in any of our performances, and stage invasions are encouraged. We include the whole room in a performance, and there is no boundaries between band and audience. We have our uniforms as we are a team, and we play together to create joy and happiness.

So far, the new release has had an overwhelmingly positive response, and the band have managed to sell half of its initial vinyl pressing, not bad for an outfit who have no major label support, and do pretty much everything independently.

However, the five-piece are not going to let this success get to their heads any time soon. “What really makes us happy is being creative and playing, and we’ll be moving onto recording new stuff soon as with the momentum we have currently, we can’t really afford to stand still. This time next year, Del Boy

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM BUNKERPOP IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

TOP FIVE BANDS/ARTISTS TO SEE AT CAMDEN ROCKS 2019

Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

by JOE WILLIAMS

Next weekend, over 400 emerging and established bands and artists will be descending on 20 venues across the famed London market district of Camden for the 2019 Camden Rocks Festival, and for those who are planning to go, here are the top five acts that you simply don’t want to miss out on:

The Wild Things band photo

THE WILD THINGS – Saturday June 1, 2pm, The Monarch

Reminiscent of Paramore, yet with a melodic, self-cultivated British twist, The Wild Things have been tipped as one of the dark horses of this year’s festival.

Fans of the acclaimed BBC TV show ‘Uncle‘ may well recognise vocalist/guitarist Sydney Rae White, who played Gwen, but on stage, she has a different presence altogether, and with a consistent string of songs in their back pockets, there’s no wonder why this British rock quartet have been tipped as ones to watch by the likes of Kerrang!Classic Rock, and BBC Introducing.

The Blinders band photo

THE BLINDERS – Saturday June 1, 7.30pm, Dingwalls

Replacing Welsh rock outfit Pretty Vicious – who have unfortunately had to pull out of playing at this year’s festival – the Doncaster three-piece are one of the more recognised names amongst the British alternative scene, and have been slowly but surely leaving their mark with some truly unique performances.

Accompanied by the powerful and dark tonal range of bassist Charlie McGough, and drummer Matt Neale, vocalist/lead guitarist Thomas Haywood has a stand-out range in his vocals that has rocked every room they’ve crossed since the band started out in 2016.

Three years on, they have recently been promoting last year’s debut album ‘Colombia‘ with much touring, and will be looking to continue their rise with a strong outing this June.

Frank Turner photo

FRANK TURNER – Saturday June 1, 8.45pm, The Electric Ballroom

Headlining the Saturday, the seven-studio album-producing punk and folk singer-songwriter needs no introduction to those close to the indie scene.

Following his time as part of post-hardcore collective Billion Dead, he ventured into his now-renowned acoustic solo career, and has since provided a taste of uplifting and empowering vocals across the world.

As well as taking to the stage as a solo artist, he has also reunited with his former bandmate, Ben Dawson, to form Mongol Horde, along with guitarist Matt Nasir, and Despite having been born in Bahrain, Turner has always been seen as a Londoner, and he will look to return that favour as he returns to Camden once again.

Best Of Enemies band photo

BEST OF ENEMIES – Sunday June 2, 12pm, The Black Heart

Following off the back of the first day, there will be no better place to get yourself settled back into the spirit of Camden Rocks then by going to The Black Heart to see pop-rock four-piece Best of Enemies, who will be making the short trip north from Croydon.

Showcasing their recently-released EP, the band look to take their ever-growing audience by surprise by encapsulating beautifully-paced vocals, and pairing them with addictive hooks.

Hands Off Gretel band photo

HANDS OFF GRETEL – Sunday June 2, 8.30pm, The Camden Assembly

Stemming shades of the 90’s grunge scene, the colourful South Yorkshire outfit will look to kick into a final night of Camden Rocks with the typical riotous swagger that has become a staple of the current line-up’s fearsome presentations.

Performing across the circuit since forming in 2015, they showed little mercy in releasing their debut album ‘Burn the Beauty Queen‘, which received plaudits from all corners of the UK, including Louder Than War, who stated at the time, “It marks the start of a career that could well see them becoming as big as Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, or Miley Cyrus over time….. given the breaks, and skilful management.

The band will certainly be hoping that their appearance at Camden Rocks will lay down further foundations for them to do just that.

TICKETS FOR CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE SATURDAY, SUNDAY, AND BOTH DAYS, STARTING FROM £40. FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND AT THE FESTIVAL’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

 

 

 

WEAK13 ALBUM EXCLUSIVE

Weak13 band photo

Despite initially forming almost two decades ago, and having amassed a loyal following over that period, it wasn’t until the release of debut album ‘They Live‘ towards the end of 2016 that Weak13 finally got the praise and acknowledgement they had spent such a long time working for.

They Live‘ caught a lot of bands off guard, as they weren’t expecting it at all, and if they’re really honest about it, it inspired some of them to really step up their game” recalls the band’s vocalist/guitarist, and man of many talents, Nick J. Townsend. “Also, it scared the hell out of critics because it meant that they had to tolerate hearing people calling us serious musicians.

Therefore, when the time came for the West Midlands rock collective to begin planning a follow-up, they realised that in order to effectively build on the momentum generated by their first full-length offering, everything had to be moved up to a whole new level.

We simply knew that we had to better ‘They Live‘ in every way possible, and this meant we had to make it bigger, better, and bolder than anything we had ever done before.” states bassist Wesley Smith.

And the best way in which to achieve this, the band quickly realised, was for them to record a double album.

As a rule, independent bands such as ours tend not to make double albums, and mainstream artists shy away from it. Loads of them talk about the idea, but in reality, when you hear the state of modern music releases, many struggle to write even three good tunes,” says Nick, “so we thought about recording twice the normal amount of songs, and making them all hit-worthy, stand-alone bullets.

Another reason for deciding to do this, Nick says, was a desire from himself and his bandmates to create something that would have the same lasting impact as a certain release from years before had had on them.

I remember when I was younger buying the ‘Use Your Illusion’ double albums by Guns N’ Roses, and thinking how brave and massive they were, as releasing what was essentially four albums worth of songs all in one go was unheard of even then, and we thought long and hard about Weak13 doing the same.

And so, for the last couple of months, the collective have been hard at work putting together what will be the first half of a 15-track release, the process of which so far has been relatively smooth and trouble-free.

From a bass point of view, it’s all falling into place very nicely, and its sounding amazing even at an unmixed stage, so that can only be a positive thing.” says Wesley, with Nick adding, “I’ve never felt this confident before in the studio, and I simply haven’t been able to get the tunes that we’ve recorded so far out of my head. Hell, I’ve even been playing air guitar to the raw mixes while listening to them in my car!

However, despite all of this positivity, the band’s devoted legion of followers will have to wait almost another year for the album to come out, with Wesley explaining, “We’re looking at getting it out by April or May 2020, as we want to make sure that everything sounds as good as we know it can be by then, but even that could change, as it ultimately depends on whether we’ll be happy with it.

Despite this though, Weak13 say that their second full-length offering will be well worth the rather lengthy wait. “It will have that classic Weak13 feel, but with a few shocking turns and twists” teases Wesley, with Nick adding to this by saying, “There will be a wider range of crazy shit happening. The last record did a really good job of introducing our sound, but this time around, it feels so much stronger, as we’re going to be doing a lot of brand new things that I know our fans are just going to love.

In the meantime, the band can exclusively reveal to us that the album is going to called ‘Aluminium‘, with Wesley saying, “We will leave the puzzle of why we’re calling it that to for the listener to solve when they hear certain lyrics and see the album cover, and interestingly, aluminium is the 13th element of the periodic table.

However, Nick is keen to point out that while that link is purely coincidental, the title is still important, concluding, “It will make more sense when you hear the whole album.”

‘ALUMINIUM’ – THE SECOND ALBUM FROM WEAK13 – WILL BE RELEASED IN APRIL/MAY NEXT YEAR, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND HERE.

ALSO, DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE AWARD-NOMINATED VIDEO FOR ‘CLOSURE’ HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOlfLaGUu_I

 

 

 

 

 

CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 PREVIEW

Deaf Havana band photo

DEAF HAVANA

Frank Turner photo

FRANK TURNER

by ZAK SLOMAN

Just over six weeks from now, summer will be here once again, and for proper music fans, that can mean one thing most of all – festivals.

However, if spending a weekend in a mudbath, being pelted by torrential rain, is not for you, then the Camden Rocks festival will in no doubt be of much appeal.

2019 marks ten years since the inaugural festival, and this year’s line-up – comprising of 400 established and emerging bands/artists, spanning a diverse range of musical genres, all performing across 20 venues dotted over an area of London that is a genuine hotbed of alternative culture – looks set to be the best to date.

To find out more, I recently spoke to the founder/organiser of Camden Rocks, Chris McCormack, about its origins, the planning that has gone into this year’s festival, as well as what can be expected from it.

How did the initial idea for Camden Rocks come about?

At the time I was booking loads of great little bands in Camden, and I decided to try and use some of my contacts to build something a bit bigger and put together a showcase for these bands, to try and get some of them connected with the right people, and start to get things happening for them, and it kind of snowballed from there, really.

When did you start planning for this year’s festival?

Planning is year-round. We’ll have a bit of downtime in the summer, which you need after doing something as intense as this, but otherwise, we’re on it all the time, seeking out new bands throughout the year, and putting plans in place.

Ash band photo

ASH

The Pigeon Detectives band photo

THE PIGEON DETECTIVES

Which bands/artists playing are you personally looking forward to seeing?

So many. Ratboy, Skinny Lister, Pretty Vicious, Buster Shuffle, Queen Zee, Rascalton, Strange Bones, Roe… I could go on and on! Give our Spotify a listen, and you’ll hear for yourself that there’s going to be loads of really exciting stuff this year.

This year marks exactly a decade since the first Camden Rocks. Honestly, when you started it, did you ever think that it would become as big as it has?

I never really thought about it, to be honest… it’s just gradually and gradually got more out of hand!

Ratboy photo

RATBOY

Pretty Vicious band photo

PRETTY VICIOUS

What can music fans expect from this year’s festival?

Two exciting high-energy days of musical discovery. Whether you know a load of bands on the line-up, or if you know none, you are guaranteed to find something that gets your blood pumping.

What have been your main personal highlights of Camden Rocks over the years?

I’m a massive Sex Pistols fan, so having John Lydon play with Public Image Ltd was a real highlight for me.

And finally, are there any bands/artists you would realistically love to get onto further festival bills?

The Sex Pistols.
Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

 

CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 TAKES PLACE ON THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 1-2, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND THROUGH ITS OFFICIAL WEBSITE.