Category Archives: Interviews

ALMA

ALMA interview photo

ALMA (from l-r): Ian Simmonds (drums), Sam McCambridge (bass), Jack Kennedy (vocals), Kieran Breese (rhythm guitar), Ross Litherland (lead guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

ALMA, an alternative five-piece from Stoke-on-Trent, are a young band, but play a mature sound influenced by a wide range of musical genres.

They haven’t even released an EP yet, but they are making themselves heard, with a headline gig at Hanley’s The Exchange already under their belts.

With this and a fast growing devoted fan base, it seems there’s no stopping them.

I sat down and chatted with them about their success so far, and what the future holds.

How was ALMA formed?

KIERAN BREESE (rhythm guitar): Basically, I spoke to Sam about playing bass in a band we’d form.

It was originally going to be me playing guitar and singing and we’d found a drummer which wasn’t Ian.

All we needed was a lead guitarist who came in the form of Jack, who lied his way into the band saying he could play lead, but then clearly couldn’t.

He had a better voice than me though, and he ended up singing, while I dropped back to rhythm guitar.

Ross then came in on lead and Sam brought Ian in when our original drummer left.

How did the name ALMA come about?

JACK KENNEDY (vocals): There’s a pub called by that name near where we all live, and it seemed to be a good name to call ourselves.

Also, it’s a song by Morrissey, so it was just there for the taking, I guess!

What inspires your music?

ROSS LITHERLAND (lead guitar): Well, we play and create music that we all like and enjoy playing, so I’d say we’re inspired by bands like Arctic Monkeys, Slaves…

IAN SIMMONDS (drums): It’s a mixture.

We take aspects from certain genres and put what we like to call “our own twist” on it.

ROSS: Possibly even with elements of grunge and punk.

KIERAN: Yeah, I’d say we were indie with a punk twist.

ROSS: I suppose we create our own style to be remembered by.

IAN: That’s what we go for anyway.

You’re all from Stoke-on-Trent. What’s your view of the current music scene in the Potteries?

KIERAN: It’s sick! We love local gigs, whether it’s watching or playing and there’s always an electric atmosphere.

ROSS: It’s almost like one big community, in that everyone knows each other and are always supportive.

Local gigs are the best ones to go to, in my opinion.

IAN: I personally think the Stoke music scene consists of indie music and beatdowns, which is sad because there’s not a great deal of genres flying around massively, but it suits us down to the ground because we fit into one of these classes.

And yeah, everybody knows everybody.

How is it playing live?

IAN: It’s awesome, having the backing of the people we do and having regular people show up to every gig.

It gives us a sense of fulfilment, I guess.

ROSS: It’s always an incredible feeling.

It’s great seeing people enjoy what you do, we never want it to end.

KIERAN: At our headline at the Exchange especially, the crowd were nuts and it’s the best feeling in the world, seeing people have such a good time to songs you’ve written.

IAN: We’re doing something that loads of people love and enjoy which makes doing it better, because it’s not just for us, we’re doing it for the community as well.

SAM McCAMBRIDGE (bass): Everyone is incredibly supportive when we play live, from friends and family to members of other bands coming to watch and support.

It’s a great area that we were brought into and every gig has a different atmosphere, none at all are negative.

ROSS: As Ian has said before, there’s no need to be nervous, because you are doing what you love and you should go out and enjoy it.

In regards to lyrics, is there are a primary songwriter or is it more a collaboration between every one of you?

KIERAN: Jack is the primary songwriter, but we all pitch in musically, he’s just the lyricist.

ROSS: Jack always comes out with some amazing lyrics though, and they make the songs what they are.

What’s your process of getting a song from initial idea to completion?

KIERAN: Normally, we start off with a riff from Ross and then Ian puts his drums to it, followed by bass and rhythm chord, then Jack usually puts lyrics in when we’ve rehearsed it a fair few times, or even just a few hours before a gig, like he’s done before.

ROSS: We tend to all put in our ideas and opinions, so we are all happy with the final product.

What subjects do you tend to cover in your songs?

KIERAN: The most interesting one is a song called “Sad State of Affairs”, which is based on a girl who tweeted negatively about us even before our first gig.

There’s quite a bit of heartbreak in the lyrics as well, it’s quite angsty.

IAN: Making music for the haters.

What have you got lined up in the near future?

ROSS: We have a gig on the 19th August, and probably the biggest one coming up is the DJ set by Bez of the Happy Mondays we are playing at the Exchange.

KIERAN: We can’t announce a lot of things other than that.

ROSS: We have our foot in the door for a few other things as well.

KIERAN: All yet to be revealed!

How did you get the support slot for Bez?

KIERAN: The promoter for our headline at the Exchange is putting it on and so they asked us.

I’d never been so excited as to when I got that phone call.

You probably thought it was a wind-up at first.

KIERAN: I’m not going to lie, I was sceptical at whether it would fall through.

ROSS: When Kieran said we got the slot, I couldn’t quite believe it.

SAM: We were all going mad, because we’re all familiar with the Manchester scene and as soon as he mentioned Bez and support slot, we were so happy and excited it was unreal.

ROSS: We are all buzzing for it.

When is it?

KIERAN: 29th October.

ROSS: Should be a cracking night with some cracking acts on.

Will you be bringing out some music soon?

KIERAN: We’re actually recording our debut EP next weekend, so it should be out soon.

SAM: The tracks may be mastered before September to release, should be a cracker.

What’s your long-term aim?

KIERAN: I’d love to make enough money from the band to survive off of it.

ROSS: It would be great to do it full-time.

KIERAN: But at the moment, it’s all about having fun and not getting too ahead of ourselves.

ROSS: Sometimes you do have to be optimistic though.

IAN: To be honest, I’d be happy even if we didn’t make huge amounts of money, but I guess being signed would be sick, just live making music and making other people happy.

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SERTRALINE

Sertraline interview photo

SERTRALINE (from l-r): Daniel ‘Hendo’ Henderson (bass), Mike Hawkings (guitar), Lizzie Sertraline (vocals), Tom Wilson (guitar) Not in photo: Si Douglas (drums).

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Sertraline, a rock/metal outfit from Stoke-on-Trent and Leeds, are a band whose stock keeps on rising.

Since their journey began two years ago, they have been lauded by critics and fans for a sound that is intense but melodic.

They released a acclaimed mini album last year, ‘Bury The Ghosts’ and have just been on a successful nationwide tour.

Now, they have a new single out ‘Change Of Heart’, which has so far been well-received.

I had a chat with them, to gain an insight into how they work.

How did you all get together?

The band was formed in the summer of 2014, almost as soon as our old band folded.

Blue Origin had been around for a number of years with a number of different line-ups, and as soon as our singer announced that he no longer wanted to be a part of it, the rest of us decided that we did not want to stop, and the new band was formed within five minutes of him leaving.

Our current management were fully behind us on the decision, and in many ways, we loved the idea of starting a band completely from scratch, forming it exactly how we wanted, and doing something different.

How did the name Sertraline come about?

There were a few names flying around, but it was a suggestion we settled on after a little while, but generally speaking more of how the word sounded that we liked, rather than what it meant, there’s something of a mechanical sound to it.

You’ve just been on a nationwide tour. How was it?

It’s been a hell of a lot of fun! It’s always great to go out on a tour with brand new music, and Lizzie has recently started screaming some of the lyrics, something that our current fan base had never heard from us before.

The lineup has also changed since the last tour; we had two drummers who joined us this time, Aaron Youd and Si Douglas, who will be joining us for the foreseeable future, which is awesome!

It’s been amazing to meet so many new people and have the response we’ve had, and the next tour will no doubt be even better. We’re all quite sad to see the end of this tour, so we can’t wait to gig again in a couple of weeks time.

How would you describe your music?

This is a question we’ve struggled with for a while, easy though it may sound.

People often ask us who we’re similar to, but in truth we genuinely don’t know – perhaps someone who knows our music well could give a better answer!

We call it melodic metal, which is a little bit pigeon-holing but still gives a lot of wiggle room!

We don’t tend to think of ‘what we are’, but if we find it interesting or challenging or just good fun, chances are we’ll like it.

Heavy, rhythmic, tasty melody, that’s what we like.

What are your musical influences?

This varies from member to member, but there are influences spanning from classical and jazz to grime.

Most of the time these influences don’t appear in the music we write, but it’s interesting to note how varied we all are in terms of what we like to play and listen to.

In terms of what the band creates, the main influences could be said to be bands like Periphery, Marmozets, Tonight Alive and Tesseract.

In regards to songwriting, is it a group effort or is there a primary songwriter in the band?

It is certainly a group effort.

No element of any song is left unchanged, even when a full song or structure is brought forward during writing sessions.

It’s not a true collaborative effort unless the entire band is happy with what we produce, and we’re lucky in that we have musicians who are willing to try many different things in order to create the best results we can, in a way we’re all happy with.

Naturally, Lizzie deals with most of the vocal side of writing, but will still ask for our feedback and any suggestions we might have.

Lizzie seems quite open with us regarding what she writes about, which is helpful if and when she asks for our input.

What inspires your lyrics?

LIZZIE SERTRALINE (VOCALS): I suppose just events in my every day life.

Recently, I’ve been questioning human morals and doing some deeper thinking, which is probably dangerous!

You have a new single out. How was the recording process?

The recording process was much like how ‘Bury the Ghosts’ was recorded.

We enter the studio with a solid idea and an almost finished demo of the tracks we want to record, but in almost every case we find things that do not quite fit or need a little more adding.

‘Change of Heart’ was exactly the same, though perhaps with more emphasis on perfecting vocals and harmonies.

From what we remember, there wasn’t a great deal we changed from the demo when recording instruments.

We’re extremely happy with the end result, we’d had previous experience with the engineers we worked with, which we think helped the process greatly.

What have you got lined up in the near future?

We have a few gigs dotted around until the end of the year (some announced, others yet to be), the main one being Chebfest in Leeds on the 27th of August.

We’ve been honoured with the main support slot with some good friends of ours, namely Chasing Dragons and Pulverise.

This will also be our first show we’ve played in cosplay – always up for new stuff!

This weekend we’ll be doing a live lounge session down in Essex which we’re looking forward to a lot!

After that, our main focus will be on pushing the single and making preparations to release our second EP, which we’re very excited about.

What’s the band’s long-term aim?

Apart from the dream of spending much more time on the road, hitting bigger stages and festivals, releasing more music, reaching out further than we are now? Not a lot!

In essence, we just want to keep going, the last two years has been a little up and down at times but it’s still going better than we imagined it would in such a short time.

We’re now in a very stable place with members, we’re writing better music and playing better shows than we ever have, and we’re having an amazing time doing it.

Long may it continue!

SERTRALINE’S NEW SINGLE, ‘CHANGE OF HEART’, IS NOW AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD FROM ALL GOOD DIGITAL STORES.

RELEASE

Release interview photo

RELEASE (from l-r): Aaron Roden, Caleb Allport, Mayson Nicholson, Tom Price, Jack Mitchell.

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

It is difficult to determine the exact genre of music that Release play, as they have a very eclectic range.

This hasn’t put anybody off them though, as their sound, together with politically charged lyrics, has made them one of the most talked about bands on the Stoke music scene.

They’re now spreading their message across the country, recently supporting Clay in Manchester and are about to go on a nationwide tour.

I sat down with them to talk about their seemingly unstoppable rise.

How did you all first get together?

TOM PRICE: Well, myself and Caleb got to know each other more when we started at college.

CALEB ALLPORT: We were both looking for a band and we wanted to start writing similar music with similar ideas and backgrounds.

TOM: We both decided to have a jam some time, and when we were talking about starting a band together, I asked Mayson and two other friends of ours to come along and we all just got on really well, with Aaron joining us some time later.

CALEB: We all gelled musically from the word go.

We started off doing covers of the Buzzcocks and Joy Division, then after a couple of practices, we progressed on to doing our own shit, and now here we are.

How did the name Release come about?

CALEB: It took time to agree on one.

We’d all agree on a name, but then we just kept changing our minds!

TOM: I think it was actually Caleb who came up with Release.

CALEB: Yeah, I suggested the name because I wanted our music to provide a release for not only ourselves, but for others too.

I believe everyone needs a release of some sort, like a kind of escapism whether it’s through drugs, football, music whatever.

TOM: People can come to our shows and get out all the anger and stress of work or family issues and have a good time.

CALEB: I personally wanted to provide a release for people and I think the rest of the chaps do as well.

It’s a good feeling when you’ve been doing what we set out to do from day one.

How would you describe your music?

TOM: I’d say hard hitting rock with a mellow alternative sound.

We’re very influenced by many genres of music.

CALEB: Versatile, with a punk attitude and punk sounds and influences, yet melodic and with heavy blues influence from the guitar section.

Like Tom just said though, we’re heavily influenced by so many genres of music.

You’ve already mentioned the Buzzcocks and Joy Division. Which other bands would you say have had a significant influence on your music?

CALEB: The list is endless!

TOM: I’d say groups like Rage Against The Machine, Black Sabbath, Public Enemy and the Wu-tang Clan.

CALEB: For me, it’d be The Streets, New Model Army, Jamie T, Rage Against The Machine, Bowie, Red Hot Chilli’s, Bauhaus, Foals, even dance artists like Joy Orbison and Jamie xx, I could go on forever!

TOM: The 80’s synth era really hits us too.

CALEB: There’s a big metal influence from Tom as well.

TOM: Yeah, the big four and Pantera are great influences towards myself, as well as hardcore music.

In regards to songwriting, is there a primary songwriter in the band?

TOM: Caleb is the primary songwriter.

CALEB: I’m more lyrics and ideas for the songs, though I suppose I provide most of the backbone.

TOM: He can write what we all feel and put them into the right lyrics, we also write songs on political matters and stories from the past.

CALEB: And the rest of the four geezers do what they do best and mould the dollop of play dough I give them, if that’s a good metaphor!

Do you see yourselves as a politically motivated band then?

TOM: I’d say so yes.

We’re strong believers of politics in the UK, and also what’s happening in other countries.

CALEB: It’s a big part of a lot of our tracks, it’s something that we all have a passion for and we strongly believe in our views of fairness and various other political values, man.

A big political event that has happened in the UK already this year was the vote to leave the European Union. How do you see that affecting the British music industry?

CALEB: I can’t see it affecting the music industry in a positive way when it comes to the economy, whether it be record sales or ticket sales at gigs.

When it comes to leave the EU, personally I think that a number of huge organisations will move their HQs to a country that will remain in the EU.

Therefore, they will be job losses and quite a few people won’t be able to enjoy luxuries such as going to gigs, so that could be a negative.

But on the other hand, it could inspire some great music and various other politically influenced art forms which, as past history has shown, could create a great movement in this country.

But at the moment, who knows?

You’re from Stoke. What’s your opinion of the city’s current music scene and how do you think it compares with other cities in the UK?

TOM: I think that Stoke’s music scene has definitely progressed more over time and more bands now are trying different things, which gives Stoke a variety, rather than having lots of bands trying to do the same thing.

How does the band’s recording process go?

TOM: What we do is record as a full band,and then start with the drums, then bass and then guitar and vocals.

If there’s anything else in the song like synth or effects, then it’s usually done at the end.

CALEB: During the process, we usually have creative ideas pop up in our heads, whether it be using a drill on a pick up to create an obscure sound on the guitar or even just an added snare in one bar. It varies.

What have you got lined up over the next couple of months?

TOM: A lovely summer tour from the 1st to 6th September.

Where will you be playing?

CALEB: The tour starts in Cardiff, then we go to Bristol, Cheltenham, back in Stoke for a headline at the Underground, Manchester and we finish the tour off in London.

We’re also playing the Ashcomberry festival near Leek on the 27th August.

There’s some shit hot venues we’re playing at, so we can’t wait to get on the road, hopefully gain some more followers and have a good old time.

How has the reaction been from the venues you’ve played on the road?

CALEB: To be honest man, I couldn’t have asked for any better reactions from the crowds we’ve played to.

It’s such a heart warmer when someone doesn’t know you from Adam and comes up to you after a gig to congratulate you on how much they enjoyed our set etc…

It really does mean the world and also makes it all worth while in a lot of ways, as much as we do it for ourselves and our own enjoyment.

We also, like any artist, like having people who are on the same wavelength as us, it’s a great feeling and we’ve received that from many of the places we’ve played, so thanks a lot to them lot who have taken the time to come and see us and support unsigned music.

Other people think we need chucking in a mental asylum, but it’s all good fun!

What’s your long-term aim?

CALEB: I think I speak for everyone when I say we wanna take it as far as we can go, although never forgetting the main thing is that we enjoy it to the max.

I don’t want a normal job and I want to do what I love for a living.

Who doesn’t?

INFINITY

Infinity interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

There was sadness last year when Stoke rock band Already Gone announced they were no more.

However, it wasn’t necessarily the end of the road as three of the group members decided to stay together and start again as Infinity.

With newcomer Pete Baddeley on vocals, the melodic hard rockers have certainly made their mark, receiving much positive feedback for their live shows and debut single, which has been a YouTube hit.

With a growing fanbase and a debut EP out soon, I decided to have a chat with them.

How did you get together?

TIM BUXTON (BASS): Well, me, Dan and Kirk have known each other since school days.

We’ve all played together in previous bands, spent a good few years with our last band and we figured that when we’d start out afresh, we’d stick together.

We were looking for a singer and that’s how Pete found us.

We’ve been working together as a four-piece for the past year or so.

How did the name Infinity come about?

TIM: We needed something memorable and catchy, and something that represented our musical style.

We spent ages thinking of something and Kirk said Infinity would really work.

It’s catchy, it’s easy to remember and we’ve got a ready made logo to go with it.

How would you describe your music?

PETE BADDELEY (VOCALS): HARD ROCK!

TIM: Yeah, good old-fashioned, no-frills hard rock.

PETE: I would say a mixture of the old classic rock and modern rock, good old head bang music!

TIM: We quite enjoy our style, because it’s quite unique, and there isn’t many local bands doing what we do.

It’s different, but it also mixes in well with the majority of the bands we play with without us sounding out of place.

What bands are you inspired by?

TIM: We take our sound from a number of modern bands, like Shinedown, Sixx:AM, Nickelback, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge, Avenged Sevenfold, Hinder….

DAN NUTT (GUITAR): Yeah, man!

TIM: And we’ve all grown up with the classics that will always be in the back of our minds, the Guns N’ Roses, Metallicas and Motley Crues of the world.

But anything we hear, we try to take the best of it and think about how it can affect our music.

PETE: We’ve been inspired by so many bands we’ve met on the road too.

The other week, you supported Headrush at their reunion gig at the Sugarmill. What was it like playing on the same bill as a band that are seen as legends on the Stoke music scene?

TIM: We’ve known the guys in Headrush for years, dating back to our former bands, and Kirk even spent some time playing for them.

It was great to see they’ve not lost anything in terms of performance, despite them not doing anything for so long.

They’re great guys and it was good to see Andy Law (Headrush’s vocalist) again.

We were really excited to be given the opportunity to play with them on our Sugarmill debut.

How was it playing at the Sugarmill for the first time as Infinity?

TIM: Awesome. We’ve all had so many nights out there in the past watching various bands.

When you’ve seen some of your heroes perform on that stage over they years, it’s always exciting to get up there and stand where they stood.

It helps that we feel we played well and the crowd seemed into it.

PETE: We have all played at the Sugarmill in the past, but in terms of the overall show, it was pretty damn special and I was just flabbergasted for the whole experience, it was a great time!

It’s definitely been our biggest achievement as a band.

TIM: So far!

While I was watching your set, I noticed that Pete was wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Bacon Strips’ written on it. What was going on there?

PETE: There is this channel on YouTube called Epic Meal Time, which is basically a load of guys making ridiculous sized food and they eat it while getting drunk.

They love bacon and I can kinda relate to that!

TIM: We keep telling Pete that he needs to be cool as a singer, but then he does daft things like that and ruins it, so we kind of given up telling him now.

Is Pete the joker of the band then?

TIM: He likes to think so. Thankfully, you avoided the jokes he was cracking at the Sugarmill.

PETE: My bad jokes are to die for, they literally are!

What’s the difference between a zippy and a hippo?

I’ve no idea.

PETE: Zippo! One is really heavy and the other is a little lighter!

TIM: See?

The music scene in the Potteries seems to have a positive vibe to it at the moment. What’s your viewpoint?

TIM: There’s some great bands out there right now.

Since we started, we’ve shared the stage with some real talent, and with some of the bands that are making waves around the country, Stoke is where it’s at for music right now.

PETE: I believe that this is now the best time to support local music, because there are so many great bands at the minute, and so many different styles out there too!

Long may it last, I say.

TIM: Damn right.

PETE: Amen to that!

You have an EP coming out soon. How has it been recording it?

TIM: We’re going to be putting the finishing touches to it in the next few weeks actually.

It’s been a great experience going into the studio, hearing the song evolve throughout the day, putting the little bits at the end to make it sound more polished.

It’s a proper journey that we love to do, even when the pressure is really on when it’s your time to play and to make sure you don’t mess it up.

PETE: We’re taking it slowly at the moment, one step at a time, one song at a time.

It’s a new experience for me to go into a recording studio and I’m loving it!

TIM: Yeah, me, Dan and Kirk have all been in multiple studios in the past.

Paul at Summerbank Studios in Tunstall knows us though, and we have a great time, coming out with a great sound at the end.

PETE: That’s why it’s so catchy!

When you’re writing tracks, is it a group effort or does there tend to be a member of the band who does the majority of the songwriting?

TIM: It’s a group effort definitely. We all have our roles we fill.

Dan’s the main music writer though. We all chip in from time to time, but Dan does the majority of the riffs.

Kirk lays down a beat for them, which is something he does naturally.

Then, it’s usually me and Pete who throw some lyrics on the top.

We all contribute to make it better.

DAN: Like Tim says, it’s a group effort, it all starts from an idea and it just snowballs from there really, starting with a structure or basic skeleton and then we keep adding to it.

Then, you always end up adding and layering in the studio, because that’s where they come to life!

What inspires the lyrics?

TIM: Life, man.

We take aspects of what we know. We like to fuel our songs with things that we’re actually familiar with and feel from day to day, and then make them so people out there can relate to them and know what we’re banging on about.

PETE: Everything that’s going on in this world: pain, love, anger etc.

Some of the lyrics we have are like an open question waiting to be asked.

What have got lined up in the near future?

TIM: Our main concentration is to release our EP, so people can listen to the songs.

Beyond that, we’re planning on gigging as much as we can, getting music videos out there and going on to a full album sometime next year if things go according to plan.

DAN: Yeah, the album ain’t a million miles away in terms of being written or recorded to be fair.

PETE: We are just going to keep getting our music out there, either live or online.

We have big plans and aspirations, and we have started a vlog with highlights from our shows which is great for connecting with people!

What’s your long-term aim?

PETE: Headline Download!

TIM: To get as many people listening to our music as we possibly can.

We want to headline festivals, we want to tour the world, we want thousands of people singing our songs and chanting our name.

We want to play with as many bands as we can, at as many places as we can.

We want to finish playing in 40 years and say ‘Yeah, we’ve done it all’ with no regrets at all.

INFINITY’S DEBUT EP WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS YEAR.

YOU CAN SEE HIGHLIGHTS OF THEIR GIGS AT THEIR OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE.

CHRIS MUNDAY

Chris Munday interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by MARTIN KESSEL

Chris Munday has made quite an impact on the Stoke music scene in the last few years.

As frontman of rock band Stone The Alchemist, him and his group have gained a good local reputation with their diverse and honest musical approach.

The outfit have decided to take a break, but Chris is keeping himself busy with his new project, YOUYESYOU.

I chatted to him about his journey so far, and what the future holds.

When did you realise you wanted to get into music?

The moment I hit 15. I’d been into pop music for years and done a few talent shows when I was in High School, but then I heard rock music around the time the nu metal explosion happened and it’s stuck with me even now, and a few years later a friend heard me singing, liked my voice and took me down the path of joining bands.

How did your friend hear you sing in the first place? Was it at one of the school talent shows you did?

We were hanging out once, and I think it was a Meat Loaf song of all things, but yeah, I joined his band and it didn’t really go anywhere, but I just remembered enjoying going to the practices, I left them to join another and that’s when I got into my ‘serious’ bands.

What was the ‘serious’ band you joined?

It was a band called Andraste, with three other ambitious guys that was basically a covers band with our own songs cut in between.

It spiked my creativity and got my voice heard and even had a small following at the time, can’t believe that was almost ten years ago.

How did Stone The Alchemist come about?

It was with a few false starts, I’ll say that, but it kicked in around about 2011 after Jono heard me singing once at a place in Newcastle-under-Lyme called The Rigger, and we did our first gig a few months later.

I rememeber Jard walking in and looking nothing like he does now, but the moment that guy started playing drums I was like “I’ve got to do this.”

Are your parents musical at all?

Yeah, My mum and dad have a real taste for any kind of music really.

In terms of being in a band etc, my mum was in one in the seventies doing backing vocals and my dad has a vinyl collection that must be a mile long, I just know you’ll hear Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner who are nothing short of musical idols to my Mum, whereas my dad has been my gig buddy for years, years ago he took me to see Motorhead and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, I’m gonna stop there because I could go on, so in short, yes.

What band was your mother in? And it must have been quite an experience seeing Motorhead in the flesh.

I think she was in a band called Neon Blue, or Neon Light, something like that and yeah, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the warty faced beaut three times, once with Slash. The loss of Lemmy hurt us all.

What bands are you inspired by?

I have way, way too many. Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor will always be my biggest love though, Kyo from Dir en grey in terms of vocal styling.

At the moment I’m digging Sia, Death Spells and Cane Hill, also Korn’s new song kicks ass.

How and where do you get your ideas for songs?

They just sort of grow, sometimes we have an idea and sometimes it’ll be working through trying to get something, I find sometimes some of the best songs come about when we’ve written lyrics first, then we have a general idea for music to fit the mood of the lyrics.

Having been part of the Stoke music scene for a while now, how do you think it has changed since you started out?

The smoking ban has quite possibly been the worst thing for bands, I’ll tell you that, but I think the best bands in Stoke are the ones that endure and last such as Tussk and HeadrusH, and now with Sons of Andal, Sertaline and Alter Eden whose members were all in Blue Origin.

There’s a fantastic scene in Stoke and it’s vast too.

I don’t think I’ve been anywhere else where there’s more than three or four venues in the area where bands can play and Stoke has been awesome in pushing its bands forward.

You’ve recently written some articles for REBEL. Is writing something you would consider doing more of in the future?

I’ll do the odd interview here and there as well as the odd review too, but at the moment, I’ll be focusing on my music and other creative projects.

What are the other creative projects you’re doing?

I’m currently writing an animation called Camden Terrorist Rejects with a very talented artist called Louise Hodkiss, that too should be out this year and we’ll be dropping a tease trailer in the not too distant future so stay tuned!

I’ll look out for that. Can you tell me any more about it?

Yeah, it’s about four teenagers from the north of London who all kick large amounts of ass, it’ll be a series with episodes similar to an anime, but we’ve got Carl Davis on board too to make it a more immersive experience, we’ve also got Twenty Blocks Away doing the films score and his music is incredible, so please check out our page on Facebook and we’ll keep you posted!!!

What’s happening with Stone The Alchemist? Are you all taking a break, or is that it now?

I’m keeping all that hush hush at the mo, but I’ll be focusing more on YOUYESYOU this year and next.

But, Alchemist will have some news fairly soon on what’s ahead.

Tell me more about YOUYESYOU.

YOUYESYOU are a three-piece from Stoke with a stripped back sound consisting of drums, the noisiest fucking bass guitar heard and me on vocals, it’s more personal in lyrics and a more simple and direct approach in terms of songwriting.

Jord Poole and Liam Stride have been in bands also for years and those two guys were also in Skarlett Arcade a few years back.

What are your plans for the band? An EP, an album maybe?

A few local gigs in Stoke, and the EP should be arriving later this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

SHERRY COUNSELLORS

Sherry Counsellors interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Sherry Counsellors, an indie pop band from Stoke-on-Trent, have been together for almost a decade, and in that time, have gained a reputation for playing a diversely-influenced sound, which has been met with much acclaim from critics and fans everywhere.

The talented five-piece are also known for their strong live sets, which they’ve played at some of the most iconic UK music venues, including Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

It also forms the basis for their recent EP, ‘As Nature Intended’.

The group seem to be on a roll at the moment, with one of the tracks from the new EP currently topping the worldwide indie pop charts, and now they also have the top three songs in the UK indie pop chart.

I spoke to lead vocalist Keith Mellor about what has made them such a good, successful band.

How did the band first get together?

Me and Chris Dunleavy had been writing and performing acoustically for a while and then we decided to go for the full band.

We met Matt Lewis who initially played drums, but soon showed he was a master guitar player.

Chris Reynolds then came in and added the funky bass, kilt and trumpet, and finally Steve Handley was the latest addition, who has really added a rock dimension to the group.

How did the name Sherry Counsellors come about?

It was very difficult to find a name that hadn’t already been taken!

I was having a few beers at an acoustic night and it just came it to me, I called Chris D and he liked it, so we went for it!

It’s just a pity no-one can spell it!

How would you describe your music?

We are usually placed in the ‘Indie-Pop’ bracket, which is fine by us, as we are currently Number 1 in the Indie-Pop chart in the UK and Globally!

We try to keep everything with a Sherry Counsellors vibe to it, but other than that, a good song is a good song!

In regards to songwriting, is it a group effort or does there tend to be a member of the band who writes the majority of the songs?

The songwriting is always a group effort, every member brings something to each song.

I can bring lyrics, Matt could bring a riff, Steve a drum beat and it can be transferred into a song.

Our main creative force is Chris D, who can often bring complete songs, and is the person we look up to.

What are your musical influences?

Each member of the band has different musical influences, ranging from rock, indie, brass bands, ska, and all these melt together to create the Sherry Counsellors sound.

You’re from Stoke-on-Trent. What is your view of the local music scene currently?

The Stoke-on-Trent music scene has always produced fantastic bands and the current scene is no different.

The bands are taking their music out of Stoke-on-Trent and around the country, which is very pleasing to see, and they are getting the recognition they deserve and putting Stoke on the map as a musical hotspot.

When you’re in the studio, how does the recording process go?

Our album was meticulously recorded with layers, choirs, additional instruments and very high production values.

We all help to produce the records but Matt is our technical guru!

We are proud of the record and how it sounds, but for our new EP we wanted to try and capture the live sound, so that’s how we recorded it – LIVE.

I think it really works and we are very happy with the result.

How is it for you playing live?

Playing live is always amazing and we are very lucky to have played some fantastic gigs in our time and are still getting the opportunities to do so.

Watching the crowd react to our new songs and classic tracks is always the best feeling and we try hard to engage the them throughout the show.

Our fans are just the best fans in the world!

What have you got lined up for the near future?

We have a headline festival appearance at Yewstock this Saturday, more festival appearances during the late summer and then onto Manchester and a big local show at the end of the year.

We also have a special single to release later on in the year and are recording a new EP.

Should keep us busy!

What’s the long-term aim of the band?

To keep going as long as the fans want us.

Next year will be our tenth anniversary, something we are extremely proud of.

We are still headlining festivals, packing our venues, topping charts and the fans, both old and new are still enjoying us after all this time.

We are not finished yet, there is a lot more to come!

‘AS NATURE INTENDED’ IS AVAILABLE TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD FROM THE BAND’S OFFICIAL SOUNDCLOUD PAGE www.soundcloud.com/sherrycounsellors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAGE CAVE

Rage Cave interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Rage Cave are a metal band from Stoke-on-Trent, comprising of Max Jefferies on vocals and guitar, Justin Miller as the bassist and Zak Eyrolles on drums.

Having only got together towards the end of last year and playing their first gig a few weeks back, where they were given a good reception at local rock venue The Underground, it seems the fledging group, with their diversely-influenced sound, have a bright future.

I recently chatted to them about what lies ahead.

How did the band first get together?

JUSTIN MILLER (BASS): Me and Zak used to hang around jamming at a studio in Stoke called Star Trek, which is run by a mate of my dad’s.

We began looking for a guitar player and one day, Max turned up.

MAX JEFFERIES (VOCALS/GUITAR): We all used to go to the same school.

I knew Justin had been playing music for a few years, didn’t know that
Zak had been playing the drums for ages and we got together that way.

We initially had a singer, but he never showed.

JUSTIN: He turned out to be a bit rubbish anyway.

MAX: So I had a crack on vocals and it stayed that way.

How did the name Rage Cave come about?

JUSTIN: I was in a band before called The Carriers and when we were thinking of band names, Rage Cave came up.

I thought that sounded cool, so I brought the name with me.

MAX: It kind of goes with what we’re trying to do to be fair.

ZAK EYROLLES (DRUMS): We’re upbeat. We don’t really have that many songs at the moment, even though we do have Secular Sabbath.

MAX: A slowish one yeah. I don’t play guitar on that one, I’m just singing.

It’s a slow part of our set.

How would you describe your music?

MAX: You can kind of say it’s rock. From there, I don’t really know.

JUSTIN: It branches off a little, doesn’t it?

There’s some funk influences there.

MAX: Also Jane’s Addiction, Primus, that sort of thing.

ZAK: Sort of like punk rock, isn’t it?

MAX: The bassist from one of the bands we played with, Lovesick for Mina, said we were quite punky.

It’s kind of straightforward, but there’s also a lot going on at the same time.

How did you get the gig at The Underground?

MAX: I got in contact with Dominic Webber, who’s one of the booking people there.

He told us there was a vacant support slot for a gig headlined by Silverchild, and we just basically said “Yeah”.

ZAK: At the moment, Max is basically the manager.

MAX: Yeah, going on social media etc…

ZAK: He’s getting us all the gigs to be fair.

How long have you all been together?

MAX: We only got together around December, January. Since then, we’ve been practising once a week, for about four, five hours.

During the gig at the Underground, Max’s guitar string snapped. That must have dented your confidence a bit, what with it being your first gig.

MAX: Yeah, it was pretty appalling, and it happened just when we were really getting into it.

ZAK: To be fair, I don’t think a lot of people noticed.

MAX: I think it ruined it for me rather than for others, because as Zak just said, nobody really noticed.

For our next gig, we’ll be much better prepared.

We’ll be playing at The Full Moon, a pub in Newcastle-under-Lyme, supporting a band called Chokehold, which Justin’s dad is a member of.

With the recent European Union referendum resulting in the UK deciding to leave the EU, can you see it affecting the British music industry in any way?

MAX: I think it will in terms of British bands touring Europe.

It’ll definitely be more expensive and more difficult.

It will be more of a nightmare for musicians to come here from overseas, what with visas, work permits etc…

Is it an aim for you to tour Europe one day then?

MAX: Yeah, definitely. Europe more than America really, because they seem to have better crowds, especially in places like Norway and Sweden.

Also, the audiences over there seem to be more dedicated.

What bands/artists are you inspired by?

MAX: I like listening to a lot of stuff. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of Blink-182, Twenty One Pilots and everything.

I’m also into prog a lot, I went to the Techfest warm-up gig recently, and I like instrumental music, so I try to keep some of that feel in my solos, but it’s very difficult with just one guitarist to try and do that kind of stuff, because the harmonious lead doesn’t really work in a one guitar scenario.

JUSTIN: I listen to a bit of everything. Jazz, funk, that’s what I listen to in my spare time, but it’s not the kind of music I play in the band.

I just love music, to be honest.

ZAK: I don’t really have a specific musical taste. I like all music really, put any radio on and I’ll listen to whatever music’s on it.

MAX: We just collate it all into one thing really.

ZAK: It isn’t about musical taste really. We just see what’s the best fit for our songs.

We all had ideas for riffs before the band started, so we brought them in and put them all together into songs.

MAX: Rather than have just one idea at practice and try and put it all together, we like the idea of jarring it all together.

In a few of our songs, there are jarring differences in certain parts.

We kind of like that, because it represents all of us rather than as individuals.

You’re from the Potteries. What’s your view of the local music scene?

MAX: It’s pretty good really. At the moment, there’s a few bands around that are quite good.

Sertraline, the band we’re supporting when we play at The Sugarmill in August, they’ve been on a massive tour of places like Manchester and Birmingham and now they’re returning to Stoke.

There’s a few other local bands, like Psyence, which we saw at the Lymelight festival a few months back, they’re really, really good.

There seems to be a lot of indie bands as well that I don’t listen to myself, but it’s good to see so much music coming out of Stoke at the moment, because it’s not really a place you would normally associate as being known for music.

In terms of songwriting, is it a group effort or is it down to just one or two of you?

MAX: It’s mainly me and Justin.

ZAK: Yeah, they usually come up with a melody and rhythm, and I’ll add a drum beat to it.

MAX: Zak will sometimes chip in, telling us “It’ll sound better like this, it’ll sound better like that.”

But it’s me and Justin who come up with most of the ideas.

It’s not often we’ll write an entire song in one go.

ZAK: It’s usually a three-week progress.

MAX: Three or four practices and then we’ve kind of got a base for a song.

ZAK: In the first week, we’ll bring our ideas, see what works, what doesn’t.

Second week, someone will bring in ideas for lyrics.

Then in the third week, we polish it all up, see how it works.

JUSTIN: I’m all about the breakdowns, me!

MAX: Yeah, you’re good at them! They’re not as in metal breakdowns, where it’s all chuggy.

We do have a song like that, but the rest are all like, you slap a lot in the breakdowns, and I try to keep up what he’s playing, because he’s really, really good with the bass.

JUSTIN: I make some complicated riffs. I sit there and I’m like “how can I make this more complicated?”

Have you got anything lined up for the near future?

MAX: We’d like to something out by the end of this year definitely.

Whether it’s all the songs we’ve written so far or not will be an economical thing, whether we can afford to record them all.

JUSTIN: We’ll try and do as many as we can.

Personally, I’d rather wait until mid next year and then release an eight track EP, rather than do a four track EP out this year.

MAX: Yeah, it’ll probably end up with something like that, and we’ll want to get the best recording we can, because there’s no point half-arsing it.

ZAK: If we do it for mid next year, as Justin said, it’ll give us more time to polish it all up and make everything sound the best it can.

What’s the long-term aim for Rage Cave?

MAX: Personally, I’d like to go on tour around the UK, that’s kind of a minimum really.

That is where I would feel successful, as it were, like I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do, and I can probably see us do that in the next year or so, going round pubs and clubs playing gigs.

I’d be happy with that, but I think everyone’s ultimate goal is to get to Europe,  then maybe America, play academies, then arenas whatever.