Category Archives: Features

DERBY ALT FEST 2019 PREVIEW

Derby Alt Fest 2019 poster

by ZAK SLOMAN

Tomorrow, The Hairy Dog in the city of Derby – increasingly becoming seen as a premier venue in which to see both established and emerging bands/artists – will be playing host to the fourth Derby Alt Fest.

This year’s festival looks all set to be the biggest and best yet, having been extended for two days for the first time, and containing a bill comprising of some real top quality outfits from the genres of rock, metal, and alternative, including Sworn Amongst, Raised By Owls, and Death Remains, which isn’t bad for something that started out as a simple EP release show in 2016.

To find out more about all of this, I spoke to the festival’s founder/organiser Liam Barlow, and he had much to say:

How did the initial idea for the Derby Alt Fest come about?

Alt Fest began in 2016, when my old band This Is Hate booked out The Hairy Dog for our EP release. We wanted to put on a stacked line-up for the day, with something for everyone (basically to sell tickets), and on the lead-up to the event, the name Alt Fest came along, and it just stuck.

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

Planning starts the second the previous year ends, we get the date locked in, then we move forward from there, and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes finding bands, making sure it stays alternative, and not just a full-on heavy fest! (laughs)

For those who are going to the Derby Alt Fest for the first time in 2019, what can they expect?

This year is going to be the biggest yet, from advance tickets, to the bands playing, and it just gets better every year, but you will have to come on the day to see for yourselves!

For the first time this year, the festival will have an additional day, with an event called “The Hangover” taking place on the Sunday. How did that come about?

In all of the previous years, we have had to cram every act into one day, which could get a bit messy, to be honest, and bands ended up having to play shorter sets. With “The Hangover“, we have managed to spread the bands out over the two days, and no main stage act has a shorter set time than 30 minutes, which is good for them!

Also, the name “The Hangover“, well, it speaks for itself, as on the Saturday – myself included – people will enjoy having a few drinks, so I think there will be a lot of sore heads on the Sunday!

This will be the fourth Derby Alt Fest. What have been your personal highlights of the previous three?

My main personal highlight is seeing how it has grown and progressed, and you can just look at the posters over the years to see that!

However, something that stands out for me was having Dave McPherson (the lead singer of InMe) play the acoustic stage last year, and seeing him jamming all those big InMe tracks acoustically up close, was really sick!

And honestly, did you ever expect the festival to grow like it has when you first started?

Did I ever expect it to grow? No way! (laughs) Like I said, it was just meant to be an EP release show, but people really liked the idea, and had a fun time there, so I’ve just kept moving it forward.

What is your current opinion of the rock and metal scene in Derby?

The scene in Derby is not that great, which doesn’t really make sense, as The Hairy Dog – for me – is one of the best underground venues in the UK. However, I’m changing that with my new music promotions company Unearthed!

I know this will be a difficult question to answer, but which bands/artists are you personally most looking forward to seeing this year?

You can’t ask me that! (laughs) Obviously, I’m looking forward to seeing every band…*coughKing Abyss *cough*

And lastly, what is your future aim, in regards to Derby Alt Fest?

My aim for Alt Fest is for it to become the biggest independent festival in Derby, and I seriously don’t think it will be long until you see a full weekend line-up and multiple venues.

I would also love to do an outdoor gig at some point, but I don’t think that the dog walkers at Markeaton Park would really appreciate some slamming death metal, do you?

However, they might actually, who knows?

TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THIS YEAR’S DERBY ALT FEST, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

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A CHAT WITH SASHA & THE SHADES

Sasha And The Shades band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Today, emerging London six-piece Sasha & The Shades have unveiled a new track –
entitled ‘Echoes‘ – which is the first in what will be a series of single releases over
the next few months, and represents another step in a musical journey that began
with a reunion at a gig celebrating frontman Sasha Adamczewski‘s 21st birthday.

I had been studying for a degree in fine art, so I hadn’t seen Tom (Julian-Jones,
guitarist) – who I have been mates with since primary school – for a while“, recalls
Sasha, “I knew that he had been in a couple of blues trios, and when I watched him
play, I was so inspired by how far he had come, in regards to both his sound, and how much fun he seemed to be having on stage performing within a group of musicians.”

After meeting again, the two old friends began to regularly rehearse together, and it
would be during one of those occasions that they would decide on their sonic direction.

Tom knew that I had been writing and playing my own material from a young age, so he suggested that we take some of the strongest material from my back catalogue,
and re-arrange it so it was more suitable to perform with a band.”

They took that idea to a friend of Sasha‘s family who worked in the music industry,
who in turn introduced them to producer Sean Read, who would go on to play a vital role in the band’s odyssey.

Joined by two session musicians, the fledgling collective recorded a three-track
demo, which was then sent to indie label Rough Trade Records, who liked it, but
decided not to pursue their interest in them any further after watching the outfit
play live.

After this rejection, Sasha and Tom both realised that in order to push themselves
further, they would have to make a few adjustments.

With a couple of departures and arrivals, what had been a four-piece became the
current sextet, who then worked hard on enhancing a sound that is rooted in blues-rock and Americana, but also embraces a diverse range of musical genres, as well as developing a stage presence that is atmospheric, powerful, and energetic.

Armed with this attributes, the band began to make an impact on the London underground music scene, also receiving acclaim from critics and fans alike for thought-provoking lyrical content containing themes spanning from mental health to Brexit.

This has culminated in the six-piece performing at this year’s Camden Rocks Festival, as well as in Paris, where they will be playing again after a set at the upcoming Left Of The Dial festival in the Netherlands.

However, despite all of this positivity, Sasha says there is still so much left for him
and his bandmates to achieve.

We want to break further into the blues-rock/Americana scene, we also want to
tour the rest of the UK and Europe, and we also want to keep writing new music, and
we hope we manage to do all of that before the world completely turns to shit.”

Sasha And The Shades Single Cover

‘ECHOES’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM SASHA & THE SHADES – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

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.

 

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.