Category Archives: Features

UNDERKING – ‘Amongst The Dead’ TRACK-BY-TRACK

Underking Album Cover - Amongst The Dead

COVER ARTWORK by ERSKINE DESIGNS

Recently, British-American rock/metal duo Underking unveiled two debut albums – ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ & ‘Amongst The Dead‘ – and one of the members, Dustin Burmeister, went through every one of the tracks featured on the latter, in detail, with us:

‘NOTHING BUT BONE’

When I had first heard this song, I knew I wanted to take a more experimental approach with the lyrics then I really ever have with a song, nothing crazy, I just wrote from an interesting point of view.

I had explained this to Max, and while talking with him about it, I concluded I wanted to loosely describe a simple scene where, more or less, a man is walking along, and has the unfortunate luck of being abducted! Once that was decided, I began to write with that idea in mind.

I really enjoy how the song turned out, I think the song, instrumentally, is a banger, regardless of my vocals, and it was fun to kind of not only use this one to experiment lyrically, but vocally, as well.

At around 51 seconds or so, I come in with a southern yell-style of singing, if you will, which was something I hadn’t really done before, but for Max, I wanted to try and mix more than screaming into this song and throughout the project.

I feel like the song turned out great, and is a stand-out on the album. It’s definitely one of my favourites, and was a great choice for the first single release!

‘DEADMAN’

I wanted to orient this song around someone who had committed a crime, but one made in the name of another, revenge, I suppose you could say. In this case, a man was acting on emotions in response to an innocent dame who had been slain from a blade to the throat by a man of power who would surely get away with it.

The song lyrically follows him from the start of this story to him being on the run (hence the lyric “dead man walking“) to him coming to terms with this ordeal while riding on without fear, knowing he will fall yet believing what he’s done was the right thing.

Deadman‘ was the first song I heard and wrote to for ‘Amongst The Dead‘. It’s also the only song on the album I have a “love/hate” relationship with, by that, I mean I love the song musically, but writing to this one was a challenge because of how parted the song was constructed, and I just don’t feel like I really pinned down what I wanted lyrically, regardless of if I got the point across or not.

I honestly really do adore how the chorus bit turned out, though, with me screaming “Deadman” and what not, I really enjoy that whole part. I’m also just a very critical person when it comes to how I feel I should be, which is something I’ve learned to level with because being in a band is a team effort, so all opinions definitely matter!

I’ve also been told by a decent amount of people that they really enjoy the song, so again, it’s not that I am disappointed in this one or anything, I’m just a picky mofo! (laughs)

‘THE WAY OF MAN’

I’m one of looking at things from a lesser perspective, I guess that means I would rather read things out for what they are rather than cast a “pretty hue of colour” over things just to fool myself.

This is the vibe I more or less wanted to get across with this song, with the topic being war, sin, etc, mainly things we, as humans, tend to do that seem to have a more destructive after-effect, rather than a long-term peace-bringing one. We seem to fall down this endless cycle throughout our history.

Just like every one of these songs, they were written from my mind, with my opinions, so on and so forth, so I don’t mean to offend or anything like that, I appreciate and thank all those who serve in the name of our countries, but I feel we can all agree that while rather out of reach, we would like to obtain peace over destruction.

There’s a bit in the song where I kind of go on about someone who was full of life and had theirs ahead of them until the call came knocking, wherein they fall into the “cycle of conflict and combat“, and I feel like this part was intended to showcase how easily one’s life can change course and how completely out of your control that can be.

Again, I really like how this one turned out, it was a fun one to write, just like all of these songs were, with Max writing such solid songs. It’s definitely another one of my personal favourites off of the album, that’s for sure!

‘LOWLY DOG’

I think I may have stated in the past that these songs weren’t really written from a super-personal place, as in these lyrics aren’t necessarily coming from personal experiences and what not, BUT this one is a slight exception in the sense that we all either deal with or have dealt with some sort of “man on our back“, commanding and demanding expectations out of those “beneath” them, while maintaining that one thought in the back of your head, “One day, I’ll be on top, and where will YOU be?“, hoping to put that person in their place, or at the very least, give them a taste of their own medicine, so I would be lying if I said, while writing this, I wasn’t pulling emotion from personal experience.

Other than ‘Nothing But Bone‘, this one might have my favourite opening with the “Oh yeah” leading into the bridge where I come in with “CHAINED!“. I think this one also has the catchiest chorus with “Break your chains Mutt” I often found myself repeating this in my head throughout the day and not even realising it sometimes because of just how easy it was to remember. I’m also happy with how the bridge turned out, very catchy bit, as well, leading into the final verse before the ending chorus.

This one was the second single we released from ‘Amongst The Dead‘, and I’m glad it managed to become labelled as a single, because I do think it does a good job of showing the diversity of the album.

‘LOST SOULS/GRAVEDIGGER’

Lost Souls‘ and ‘Gravedigger‘ just feel like big songs, and I’m glad we ended the album with them because of the lasting impression, I think, that they can leave, as well as both of them just conveying that darker tone both lyrically and instrumentally. These two are easily my top favourites, and I’m glad these didn’t end up becoming singles, for the simple fact that I was hoping to save the best for last.

I know I’ve gushed a lot over most of these songs as they all have bits and pieces I love, but these two songs, to me, are the fullest and most complete, and they really encase what I think Underking is musically.

Lost Souls‘ also has a killer solo by a local UK artist, Rainless, who just kills it here, as well as in ‘Deadman‘. I just overall am really proud of how they turned out, especially ‘Gravedigger‘, because I was able to get Max to sing along with me, really hammering home the project with us both monstering over the song.

Lyrically, they were both written with similar themes, and I feel like one compliments the other, which I think is the reason why I wanted to write my thoughts on them together other than them both being monstrous.

Lost Souls‘ mostly toys around with the ideas of death and the afterlife, while also the feeling of coming to terms with these “endgame” situations, expressing things like isolation and being condemned, whereas ‘Gravedigger‘ (which was not only vocally one by Max and I, but we teamed the lyrics here, as well) seems to kind of romanticises death while pushing away from the living, welcoming the consumption of the “deepest, darkest dread“.

The album ends with a clip of ‘THE‘ gravedigger digging away at the soil, endlessly, while the eerie tone of church bells rings on, slowly fading out. Who knows, maybe he is still digging?


All in all, Max hit a home run with these songs and just this whole thing, I’m just so happy and honoured to have had the chance to not only write lyrics, but scream for this project, as well. It was an awesome experience, and I’m looking forward to possibly working with Max later on down the road.

‘AMONGST THE DEAD’ – THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM UNDERKING – ALONG WITH ‘GHOSTS OF THE PAST’, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND YOU CAN NOW FIND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND BY CHECKING OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THEM HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNDERKING – ‘Ghosts Of The Past’ TRACK-BY-TRACK

Underking Album Cover - Ghosts Of The Past

COVER ARTWORK by MAX JEFFRIES

This Friday, metal/rock outfit Underking – comprising of Max Jeffries and Dustin Burmeister – will be unveiling ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘, one of two debut albums, and Max has, in detail, described every one of its seven tracks to us:

‘HEXED’

When I wrote ‘Hexed‘, it was always intended to be the catchy single song. It started with the main riff that kicks off the song, which I thought sounded really unique, and the rest of the song just flowed from there. really.

The chorus was always intended to be the main force of the song, and I spent a lot of time on the harmonies and layering to make it as memorable as I could.

The solo also fed into this kind of thinking as well, keeping it simple and melodic, rather than shredding or overplaying – I just wanted it to serve as an extension to the chorus and get stuck in people’s heads.

As soon as I was selecting the running order for ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ – I knew this had to be first!

‘UNDERKING’

The self-titled track originally started as a track called ‘Goblin King‘, and was intended as a song that I was going to pitch for Rage Cave. It has that nice, bouncy groove that forms the basis of the song, and I built it outwards from that.

I knew as soon as the song started to form that the lyrics had to have that playful, tongue-in-cheek energy – but still delivered in a serious way, so the lyrics formed around this idea of a goblin king. It turned into a really fun track in my opinion, and has one of the best riffs on the album.

‘FADING COLOUR’

This track started as an instrumental song, but as I began to write lyrics for the project, I realised that it needed some lyrics to fill out the track, and soon they started flowing out.

They aren’t many lyrics in the song, but they ended up being some of my most personal, just dealing with some issues of feeling isolated – perhaps apt in the current situation – and, as a lead-in to the next track, I decided to insert a lyrical nod with the title.

‘BLACK LUNGS’

As the first single from the album, I wanted this one to pack a punch, so the simple drum intro to the Black Sabbath-inspired riff seemed like a great way to kick off people’s Underking experience.

I focused a lot on the lyrics of this one with Adam Buckley, and the song turned into a religious-themed track – something I find myself writing about quite a bit. It’s about the duality of faith, and how it can cripple some people into doing things simply on the promise of heaven and hell – without actually stopping to think about the morality of their actions in a meaningful way.

The switch-up in the middle is one of my favourite moments on the project as it enters that thrash realm that so many of the Underking songs are inspired by.

‘CHASING GHOSTS’

Whilst only an instrumental song, it still holds a lot of meaning for me. It was written in the wake of the anniversary of the death of a family member, and for me, is dedicated to them.

I decided to pick the title of ‘Chasing Ghosts‘, as it reflects that kind of feeling – wanting someone back who you know you can never see again.

‘TO MY DEATH’

Again, this one started out with the main riff that has that groovy quality inspired by the kind of riffs in some of my favourite bands, Periphery and Delusions Of Grandeur, whilst still keeping the genre rooted firmly in that classic heavy metal-type feel.

The verses go into a bit of thrash, and I think the chorus is quite unique, as the vocals and their harmonies drive the section without much help from the guitars – it’s definitely the song I’m vocally proud of.

Also, containing the origin of the album title, the lyrics focus on the futility of sending people to war and this top-down approach to soldiers, with their superiors using them as expendable weapons for reasons that are sometimes unbeknownst to the people actually fighting.

‘WITCH HAMMER’

The closing track of the album, and the longest to be released on either Underking album. This song began as an experiment with synths and orchestral elements that make up the first moments of the song.

I wanted the song to, again, give off those Black Sabbath vibes with a modern twist. The opening harmonised riff is one of the most doom-influenced on either album, and the lyrics focus around the British witch trials, which was a subject I was really interested in at the time of writing. I also knew that I wanted to close the album with a solo, as ‘Amongst The Dead‘ opens with a solo, creating that parallel between the two records.

Overall, I think the album’s themes kind of permeate through death and darkness, but in an accessible way, it’s not so dark that people would turn it off because they thought too deeply about the lyrics. In this instance, I took influence from Ghost, making these topics a big lighter musically perhaps than they would first appear.

‘GHOSTS OF THE PAST’, ALONG WITH ‘AMONGST THE DEAD’, WILL BE RELEASED ON APRIL 3, AND YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE INFO ON THIS – AND UNDERKING – BY CHECKING OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THEM HERE.

 

BROCKER – ‘Shambolic’ TRACK-BY-TRACK

Brocker Album Cover

Having gained a devoted fan base, and positive responses, across the UK and much of continental Europe for a sound the band themselves describe as “rock n’ roll with a punk attitude“, Hertfordshire three-piece Brocker unveiled their second album, ‘Shambolic‘, a few months back, and the collective’s frontman, Pako Mugica, went through it with us, track-by-track:

‘THE MACHINE’

The opening song of the album is about how “machines” monitor/control us, and how – at the same time – can’t live without them these days. People become dependent on their mobile phones, for example, and it’s almost impossible now to have a “private life“.

‘INFERNO’

This one is about feeling down and angry with this ordinary life…sometimes, you just want to hide from it, you feel lost inside your mind, and use alcohol to feel better: “neurotic poisons“.

‘SOMETHING ABOUT DEVILS’

Based on a true story. A few years ago, we played this acoustic set in a pub in St Albans (the band’s home town), called The Robin Hood, and met a guy who was the “chef” there. He seemed like a nice guy at first, but it all ended up in catastrophe, as not only did he steal from us in my own home, he also got caught stealing from gym lockers, and worst of all…almost killed the pub landlady when he broke in to get the cash from the till. Luckily, he got caught, and was sentenced to seven years behind bars. FUCK YOU!

‘GASOLINE’

Live in sin, enjoy the ride“. No regrets, it’s now or never. You only get one shot to make the best and most of your time.

‘STEREO’

This one is about our love for music, and how it has changed our lives: “My life’s just a mixtape of songs that I play…

‘STOFFEL’

This is a “funny” one: It’s about a badger, and how he behaves and lives very much like a punk. The main message from the song is: “Make of this life your own tale, you don’t have to play their game.”

‘OUTSIDE THE BOX’

Oh, the media…(sighs, yawns). “Keeping you entertained is their old tricky game.”

‘DISTORTED’

I would say this one is about hate…hate towards people that only think/talk about themselves, and couldn’t give two shits about others – selfish, arrogant, careless, etc, etc. Everyone has met one.

‘HELLFIRE’

Touring, touring, touring. Life on the road, jump on the bandwagon with some of your best mates, and have an awesome time, sleep on the floor of a stranger, meet new people…What else do you need? Well…beer.

‘UNDERWORLD’

With all of the above being said, this one is about how well we all are together: having a great time, ignoring the outside world for a bit, respecting others, avoiding manipulation, etc. Some can’t tolerate life, or how the world works. The “underworld” is basically the venues and gigs we all attend – our way to escape.

‘MAYDAY’

I’ve seen some people/friends suffering from anxiety – it’s an evil and scary feeling (I know from personal experience from the past). It’s like living in the middle of the ocean, alone, and on a boat that is slowly sinking. This song tries to emphasise the importance of helping others and each other: “Let’s walk the plank together to fight the sea“. We are nothing without people.

‘ALCOHOL & ROCK N’ ROLL’

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Get drunk and break the rules.

‘NOWADAYS’

This is an old song that we never recorded. It’s basically a big “FUCK YOU” to anyone that tells you what to do or choose.

‘SHAMBOLIC’ IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH BROCKER HERE, AS WELL AS OUR FEATURE ON THE BAND HERE.

 

A CHAT WITH BROCKER

Brocker band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by PAULTERGE PHOTOGRAPHY

Back in 2013, Hertfordshire three-piece Brocker burst onto the scene with their debut album, ‘Out Of Order‘, and the positive response to that enabled them to play venues and festivals across the UK and much of continental Europe, as well as sets supporting the likes of Chrissie Hynde and Slaves, therefore resulting in an expansion of the band’s fan base.

Towards the end of last summer, the trio – who specialise in a sublime mix of fast-paced rock n’ roll and defiant lyrical content that is more influenced by punk – unveiled an eagerly-anticipated follow-up release, entitled ‘Shambolic‘, which has so far been well-received, which was a relief for the outfit, as there was a real danger during its recording process that the offering would never see the light of day.

We recorded the album in 10 days in March 2017, but we didn’t release it until last August“, vocalist/guitarist Pako Mugica said to me recently, “This was because the producer we worked with took forever, and messed up the momentum we had going.”

However, Pako – along with his bandmates, brother Janchi (drummer) and friend Ky Wilkinson (bassist) – look back on the making of the latest album with much fondness. “It was the best experience we’ve ever had as a band, as we all had a really good time.”

Going to the Spanish city of Seville to put the release together, every morning during those 10 days, the collective would meet up in a bar near the Sputnik recording studios to have some breakfast, as well as a much-needed dose of “medicine“. “After breakfast, we would all have a big shot of anise, which really brought us up, and we would start our sessions feeling powerful, or something like that.

Drinking anise would become a regular part of the three-piece’s daily routine while in Spain, which led to some rather humorous moments.

It got to a point where one morning, Janchi had completely forgotten that he had done some backing vocals for one of the songs“, Pako recalls, “and one night, after we had finished our session for the day, we went out, came back to the studio at 4am, and actually recorded a live track called ‘Balls Deep.”

Pako says the collective have yet to get the mix from that, but he says himself and the other two band members are definitely going to ask for it at some point in the near future.

The main difference, stylistically, between ‘Shambolic‘ and ‘Out Of Order‘, Pako says, is that the latest album showcases a more mature, thought-provoking side to Brocker, which is a statement that a majority of critics and fans seem to be agreeing with at the moment, and the success of the release is something the three-piece are keen to capitalise on.

We want to promote ‘Shambolic‘ as much as we can, we think it came out really well – we’re very proud of it – so we’re also putting ideas together for new singles, and you never know, we may release another album next year…

Brocker Album Cover

‘SHAMBOLIC’ – THE SECOND ALBUM FROM BROCKER – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

A CHAT WITH NIGHT THIEVES

Night Thieves band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

A few weeks back, London quartet Night Thieves unveiled their debut EP, ‘Battle Cry‘, an offering that reflects effectively the band’s eclectic range of musical influences, resulting in four distinctive tracks which combines dynamic, melodic rock with undertones of pop and metal.

The EP was the culmination of the four-piece’s initial journey that began two years ago, when vocalist Jess Moyle and bassist Rick Wall were searching for a guitarist/songwriter to start a new musical project with. “Paul (Andrew, guitarist) got in touch, had an audition – which he passed – and we just went from there, writing songs as much as we possibly could“, the collective told me.

The genesis of the outfit was relatively simple, however, the process of choosing a name to christen themselves with was not as straightforward. “It took us ages! We must have had over 100 ideas, and when we came across one that we all liked, we quickly found out that it had been taken by another band.”

Eventually, the name came about during a night out in the UK capital, with the quartet finding themselves being inspired by watching the city bathed in an orange glow of light, taking away the night sky. It wasn’t – as the members are keen to point out – anything to do with burglary.

Quickly gaining a devoted fan base and acclaim on the London live music scene with performances that were a perfect match for a boundlessly energetic sonic approach, the band last year brought out ‘Numero Uno‘, their debut single, and the positive reaction to this was encouragement for them to begin work on a first collection of songs.

Prior to entering the studio, the collective elected to record the pre-production as guidance during the EP’s creative process. “Recording our own pre-production was  huge time-saver, and it gave us room to experiment.”

Going into the renowned Stakeout Studios, situated in the outfit’s home city, they collaborated with respected producer Jason Wilson, who has worked in the past with the likes of Fightstar, Reuben, and Dinosaur Pile-Up. “Jason made us work hard, but in a good way. He had some great ideas with different beats and tweaks to some guitar and vocal sections, which really made the tracks pop.”

And despite the fact that ‘Battle Cry‘ has so far had an overwhelmingly positive reaction, Night Thieves are not resting on their laurels, as they have got much more to come. “We’re already planning our next release. We have another 10 songs, and 20-plus ideas floating around that we’re working with, and ideally, we would like to get more music out before the end of this year. Beyond that, we want to keep building up our following, and seeing where that takes us.”

Night Thieves EP Cover

YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT NIGHT THIEVES, AND THEIR DEBUT EP, ‘BATTLE CRY’, HERE.

 

 

SMALL PLANETS – ‘Small Planets’ TRACK-BY-TRACK

Small Planets Album Cover

Los Angeles post-punk/shoegaze five-piece Small Planets released their self-titled debut album a few weeks back, and Jeff Love, one of the band’s guitarists, gave a short description of each one of its 11 tracks:

‘DROWNING’

Haunting and aggressive, with an intro that builds up a little tension before ripping into the verse.

‘BREATHE’

Has a catchy classic alternative sound about redemption and/or whatever your interpretation of that is.

‘BLUE’

Has more of an alt-rock pop song vibe to it.

‘SAY SOMETHING’

A very melodic track about love.

‘IN LIFE WE’

Another poppy adventure in finding love and missed opportunities. To me, this song was always kind of a fairy tale.

‘TONIGHT’

A really catchy post-punk track about death, and wishing you just had one more moment before losing that person.

‘TWELVE THIRTY’

A very dark, aggressive song. I think it’s our most gothic-sounding track.

‘E’

This song is the outlier on the album, but it still fits perfectly. It has everything to do with defining your own destiny. It is the “hope“, and has a nice cello part in the middle and at the end.

‘WAVES’

Another post-punk track with electronic beats and strong melodies. It’s dreamy.

‘AND THEN SHE SAYS’

This song is really complex, as it has lots of different parts, lots of melodies, and lots of hidden things to discover.

‘SMALL PLANETS’

This track is dramatic…it starts off really pretty, and then we just take the listener on a journey through feedback and distortion, all while driving a strong melody.

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM SMALL PLANETS IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND TO FIND OUT MORE, DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND HERE, AS WELL AS OUR FEATURE ON THEM HERE.

 

 

 

A CHAT WITH SMALL PLANETS

Small Planets band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Last month, Small Planets – an immensely-talented five-piece from Los Angeles, the capital of the US entertainment industry – unveiled a self-titled debut album, comprising of 11 well-crafted tracks drawn from a diverse range of musical influences, but rooted in post-punk and shoegaze.

The band’s first full-length offering represented another step in a journey which began in earnest when guitarist Jeff Love asked bassist Josh Spincic if he would be interested in collaborating with him on a new musical project.

Jeff already had a handful of songs when he asked me to join“, remembers Josh, “I listened to them, liked the musical direction he was heading in, and I thought I could add a lot to those tracks.

With Josh on board, him and Jeff searched fruitlessly for a drummer to complete the collective, until Josh thought of Phil Drazic, who he had played in a previous outfit with.

Phil was – and still is – one of the best drummers around, and so we brought him in.”

However, the now trio soon felt that something was lacking which would enable them to reach a higher level, and they decided that another guitarist and a vocalist was the way forward, but the process of finding the people who were the right fit was fraught with difficulty.

We actually went through quite a few, before we finally struck lucky with Ryan [Silo] and Jess [Hernandez].”

The bolstering of the band’s ranks with Ryan‘s guitar playing, and Jess‘s vocal tones, resulted in an evolution of a sound that effectively combined the swells of the Cocteau Twins, melodic richness of The Cure, and the darkness of Joy Division, and having already performed live across their home city, including at such iconic venues as the House Of Blues, The Viper Room, and the Troubadour, the five members decided it was finally time to put their songs to record.

It would take the Californian collective eight months to put together their debut album, but there was a good reason for the lengthy recording process.

We wanted to make the best possible record” explains Phil, with Josh adding, “Having the ability to take our time doing what was best for the songs really shows in the end product.”

The release was recorded at The Cave Studio, with a production team including people who had worked in the past with the likes of The Cure and The Jesus And Mary Chain.

It took a long time, and it was very detail-oriented, but [engineer] Josiah [Mazzaschi] really encouraged us to do whatever we wanted, and he was very patient with us.” says Jeff.

Once recording had been completed, the album was sent to the iconic Abbey Road recording studios in London to be mastered, before it finally came out to a overwhelmingly positive response from the quintet’s fan base, with Josh saying, “People seem to really get what we’re doing, and that is a great feeling to have.”

However, the band aren’t stopping to bask in the glow of all the plaudits heading their way, as they have already been working on a five-track EP, with Jeff teasing, “The EP will be more shoegaze-driven than the album, musically more mid-Cocteau Twins era on two of the songs with words, and all we need now is to just add some production into the mixes, some more guitar from Ryan, and we should be set.

The EP – entitled ‘Seasons‘ – will be unveiled at some point early next year, and after that, the five-piece will start work on their second album, so it looks set to be a busy time ahead for the ambitious Small Planets.

Small Planets Album Cover

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM SMALL PLANETS IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND HERE.