Holding Absence band logo


Holding Absence are a metal outfit from South Wales, comprising of vocalist Lucas Woodland, guitarist Feisal El-Khazragi, bassist James Evans and drummer Ashley Green.

Despite having only released three tracks up to now, the four-piece are already making themselves known on the British metal scene with an emotional post-hardcore/metalcore sound coupled with powerful lyrics which deal frankly with such subject matter as death and mental health.

The band have also been establishing themselves on the live circuit, having pretty much played non-stop over the last year, including a set at this summer’s Download festival, and are working hard on a debut album, to be released soon.

I spoke to Lucas in the comfort of their dressing room, prior to their performance at the recent Macmillan Fest in Nottingham, and this is what he had to say:

How did the band first get together?

I joined the band after they had been together for about a year. It started off with Feisal living with James and jamming. I had been best friends with the guys for years, so when they parted ways with their original vocalist and I had recently left my old band, it kind of made sense for me to join.

It’s kind of like an amalgamation of musicians and friends working together in different bands over the years meeting at the same junction.

From where did the name Holding Absence originate?

The name came from a reference to a song by Hammock, a really good band who play kind of post-rock and have been a big influence of us. The song was called ‘Holding Your Absence’, and I think the boys thought it sounded really cool, so they took the name from that, basically.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It changes all the time. At the moment, we’re working towards an album, so we’re totally in “head down” mode. Feisal is always brimming with ideas, he has quite a nice bedroom set-up, so he’ll often be coming up with songs.

Myself and the rest of the band will sit down and look at what he’s got, or we’ll perhaps bring him something and take a look at it from there.

The lyrics and vocal melodies are done primarily by me, but to get the best out of the band, we will all openly work together, for example, if somebody has a suggestion, maybe they’ve come up with an idea for some lyrics, then we will never be against putting it in a song.

At the end of the day, it’s whatever makes the best music.

Giorgio “Gio” Cantarutti, who was one of your guitarists, left recently. Do you think his departure has left a hole in the band?

Gio was, and still is, one of our best friends, and was also a founding member, but to be honest, him leaving hasn’t really affected us that much, you know.

It was a completely amicable decision on his behalf, and we miss and love him, but, and don’t get me wrong, I feel that the band will carry on the same without him.

Will you be carrying on as a four-piece now, or are you going to be looking for a replacement?

The idea at the moment is that we’ve got a stand-in guitarist, he’s playing shows with us so we can keep the same set-up as before, but for the time being, because we are in such a place where there are four permanent members and with our creative output, we’re trying not to get anybody in too soon, because we don’t want to disrupt the chemistry.

Paramore or Pvris are both four-pieces that play with five members, and that’s what we’ll be doing.

The band played Download earlier this year. How was that as an experience?

It was awesome. We’d been working very hard prior to that. We started in August of last year, so when I joined, we had just missed the festival season, so yes, it was kind of always off the cards to play a festival, we never expected anything, so we just toured like crazy through the whole of the winter and up to this summer, when we played Download.

It just felt like the boiling point, like everything was drawing to a close on a very hard-working year for us, so there was a real celebration.

I remember looking out towards the crowd and seeing a couple of hundred people we’d seen in these small venues across the country, so yeah, personally and for the group as well, it was very special.

What are the plans for the near future?

Like I said earlier, we’re currently working towards an album. We’ve been touring relentlessly over the last year, we’ve just hit seventy shows in that time, so it has been quite busy for us.

We understand that obviously, our content level is low, we’ve only released three songs, it’s hard because we’ll play shows and some people will know all the words to the lyrics, but that’s still only half a set, so we’re at the stage now where we feel that we’ve done a lot of graft and we’re ready to give back.

We’ll also be touring with Young Guns later this month, that should be really cool, hitting up a few key locations across the UK.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

It’s a big one, isn’t it? To be fair, we’ve all been in bands for a long time individually, and now, we feel we are at the same stage where we respect ourselves and each other as musicians enough to just make the best music, and to change as many lives as we can.

I know that’s a little bit cliche, but we’ve got fifteen people now with Holding Absence tattoos, and we’ve only brought three songs out.

The concept of taking that further, and we’re still on a rather small scale at the moment, we can see people singing along, messaging us in the middle of the night to say how important we are to them, I feel like we owe it to people, as well as ourselves, to keep on going for as long as possible.

I don’t know if that’s really a conclusive answer, but those are our goals now.


Holding Absence tour poster


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.holdingabsence.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/Holdingabsence

TWITTER: twitter.com/HoldingAbsence

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/holdingabsence

YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com








Borders band photo

BORDERS (from l-r): Dan Hodson (drums), Gavin “Gav” Burton (guitar/backing vocals) , Jordan “JJ” Olifent (vocals), Tom Britton (bass)


Lincoln-based four-piece Borders are a band full of ambition, with dreams of taking their technical metal sound, comprising of infectious hooks, pounding rhythms and aggressive vocals, and showcasing it to as many people around the world as possible.

Judging by their recent achievements, there’s no reason to believe the band’s aims are unrealistic, what with the likes of Metal Hammer and Kerrang! tipping them for big things, as well as the success of their third EP, ‘Diagnosed’, released earlier this year, which saw them lyrically criticise the manipulation of mass media and the greed of pharmaceutical companies.

I chatted with them recently at the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham, where the quartet were playing their latest offering in full.

How was the band formed?

GAVIN “GAV” BURTON (guitar/backing vocals): Me and Dan went to school together. We used to jam out to Slipknot and Machine Head in his bedroom. Once we had finished school, we went to music college together.

Once we left college, we still wanted to pursue a career in music, so we set out with this project, wanting to push ourselves that bit further.

Tom went to university with Dan, so that’s how they met. We had a vocalist for two years, but it didn’t work out with him. Jordan’s been our vocalist now for around a year and a half. We found him on the interweb.

JORDAN “JJ” OLIFENT (vocals): The magic of the internet, yeah.

TOM BRITTON (bass): We had a kind of live audition, where people sent videos to us and that sort of thing, and Jordan was the one who really stood out for us.

How did the name Borders come about?

TOM: The story behind it isn’t really that exciting. There’s no cool origin story, we just literally had a big list of names which we thought sounded awesome, and best fitted the style of music we were going for.

Borders was one of the names that really stood out, we all felt that it hit a lot of points, especially at the moment, what with borders between countries experiencing a lot of conflict, so we went with that.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

GAV: Normally, it will come from some sort of riff that I’ve made up with my mouth whilst driving. I’ll go home, and then try to figure out how to play it, eventually getting a kind of rough blueprint for a song.

Then, me and Tom will go over all of the instrumental bits, with Dan changing the drum parts. Jordan will then write the lyrics and vocals, giving me some horrific backing parts that I can’t do. I have to do some crazy high singing! (laughs)

So yeah, that’s generally how it works, starting from some random riff in my mind.

The band released their third EP, ‘Diagnosed’, back in April. How well do you all think it was received?

JORDAN: It was amazing. Yeah, it was really nice to see it get out there in all the formats. We toured it as well, that was really good fun, getting to play all of the new songs.

TOM: We all felt that it was a massive step up from our last EP, which was the first with Jordan, so it was really good to get it out, so we could say to people that this was our sound now, heavier and more aggressive. We’re really proud of it.

GAV: The recognition from the bigger outlets such as Metal Hammer and Kerrang! was very kind. They were really getting behind it. Just getting that little nod was awesome.

TOM: It made us think that we’re on the right track.

Over the summer, you toured with Black Coast. How was that?

JORDAN: The shows were awesome, but it was a little bit of a nightmare. Our van broke down once, and on another occasion, we accidentally locked the van in an overnight car park that wasn’t 24 hours! (laughs) We all had to spend the night, with all of our gear, in a hostel.

The following morning, we went back to the car park to get the van, and a car was on fire, so we couldn’t get in.

TOM: That was when we were supporting Whitechapel in London, which was an add-on to the tour.

GAV: Yeah, it was a mad couple of weekends, but the shows were really good.

JORDAN: It was fun hanging out with the guys from Black Coast. We had a great time, and would love to play with them again soon. Yeah, there were a couple of problems in between, but we were just really unlucky.

I became ill at the end of the tour, so on the last night, they had to do an instrumental set without me. It was really good actually, sitting back and watching my own band. That was a crazy experience, so it was both a positive and a negative.

The band are going on tour again later this month. How is the experience for you all of playing live?

JORDAN: It’s the best part of being in a band, really.

DAN HODSON (drums): We’re all such calm individuals.

TOM: I’d say we’re pretty chill.

DAN: Yeah, something goes on when we play.

TOM: It does feel like a release, because with the whole gigging experience, you’ve got so much build-up, you’ve got to book the gigs, drive to the venues, and you wait for ages, but then, when we finally go on, it’s an awesome experience.

When you’re playing your songs live in front of fans singing along, it feels really good.

What are your plans for after the forthcoming tour?

TOM: Chilling out, but in terms of band stuff, we’re still writing, so hopefully, we’ll have something ready for release some time next year. We’re pretty much all go on that at the moment, so we’ll be recording the demos for that, and putting together all the different parts.

GAV: We do have another tour planned for later in the year. We’re not able to announce anything at the moment, all I can say is that it will be a cheeky little two-weeker with a big band, which should be amazing. We’re just waiting on being allowed to hype about that.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

GAV: Just to push ourselves as much as we can, really. You know, we’d love to play Download or a big festival like that in the next couple of years.

TOM: We’d also like to play in as many countries as possible.

JORDAN: If our music can take us to many countries, where we can see a lot of the world without having to pay out on anything ourselves, that would be great. We want to play to as many people as we can, for as long as we can keep feasibly doing it.

Borders EP Cover



Borders tour poster


FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/BordersBandUK

TWITTER: twitter.com/BordersbandUK

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/BordersbandUK

YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com/user/BordersbandUK




Skies In Motion band photo

SKIES IN MOTION (from l-r): Sam Gaines (drums), Dan Wheeler (bass), Adam Connor (vocals), Andy Shaw (guitar), Dave Stewart (guitar)


On the current British metal scene, one of the emerging outfits worth keeping an eye on are Skies In Motion.

A five-piece from Derby, they have already achieved quite a bit for saying that their debut full-length album, ‘Life Lessons’, was only released recently.

With a sound that is anthemic and intense, containing catchy hooks, raw riffs, and delivered with much passion and skill, the band have garnered praise from Rock Sound magazine and Alex Baker of Kerrang! Radio, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred.

Despite drummer Sam Gaines hurting one of his legs a few days prior, him and his bandmates were determined to put on a good show for their growing following at Nottingham’s Macmillan Fest.

Here’s what the quintet had to say when I chatted with them before their set:

How did the band get together?

DAN WHEELER (bass): That person’s not here! (laughs) Out of the four of us that are here, only Sam is as close as there is to an original member. How did the band get together, Sam? Take your wildest guess.

SAM GAINES (drums): The band formed out of the ashes of a uni project of Andy’s, which was between him and our original bassist. I think that was at the end of 2008.

They asked me if I wanted to join in 2009, initially just for a one-off gig. I had been in a band with a guy called Matt Bradley, and that’s pretty much how it started.

About eight months later, they asked me to join permanently.

From where did the name Skies In Motion originate?

SAM: Andy has explained this to me. They started up the band, but they didn’t have a name. Basically, they sat down and, it’s a really boring story, but basically…

ADAM CONNOR (vocals): Didn’t Andy say the name didn’t have any meaning?

SAM: Yeah. Apparently, there was a beautiful painting on the wall in the room where they were sat down. The painting had a sky in it, and one of them came out with “skies” and then, the “in motion” part came later, so yeah, it’s a really boring story.

ADAM: I really like the name though.

DAVE STEWART (guitar): It’s kind of stuck with us.

SAM: I should have come up with a better story!

(All laugh)

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DAVE: Me and Andy are sort of the chief music writers. We bounce off each other quite a lot, so we’ll sit in, it will either be my flat or a practice room or somewhere, and we’ll just play riffs until something gels.

We’re very meticulous about it, we’ll literally keep crafting and going back and tweaking until we think that we’ve got, not the perfect riff, but as close to it as we can get.

Adam, your approach to writing lyrics is completely different, isn’t it?

ADAM: Yeah, I just write about my miserable life and then put it to Dave’s masterpiece.

DAVE: I think Andy sweeps in as well every now and again, putting all of the riffs together, and writing it almost like a pop song, like, you come up with a composition which has to be well crafted, it can’t just be a load of riffs, there has to be an interlude to make sure it all gels well, and it has to be catchy too.

DAN: Pop which makes you want to punch people.

DAVE: Yeah, pretty much! (laughs)

DAN: That’s the goal.

The band released their debut album, ‘Life Lessons’, recently. How was the recording process?

DAN: It was a lengthy recording process, but it was worthwhile. It took a long time, what with it being our first full album. We recorded it with Sam’s brother Ben, and we wanted to make sure that we spent the recording time making sure it was the best it could possibly be.

The response that we’ve had so far has made all that time spent worth it.

DAVE: It was a very eye-opening process working on the production and the sound. Ben really pushed us to make it as good as it possibly could. We had to go back so many times and change different things, but we’re really happy with how it has turned out.

You went on a headline tour last month. How was that?

ADAM: Yeah, it was great. We played with The Cartographer, who are very good friends of ours. They stepped in at the last minute, as our original support had to drop out.

The response was amazing, the venues we played were fantastic, everyone really got involved. We can’t wait to go back on tour again soon.

The band have supported the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred. It must have been rather surreal playing with some of the bands that you all grew up listening to.

ADAM: Oh God, yeah.

DAN: Killswitch Engage was a bit special. They had cancelled some of their festival slots, and they had to basically had to book some new gigs while they were over here.

ADAM: And they all sold out in a day.

DAN: We were put forward to support them, and it was just surreal. We couldn’t believe it. I think it was only Dave’s third, fourth gig with us.

DAVE: Yeah, it was the fourth gig after I joined the band, and we were playing with bloody Killswitch! I look back now, and I still can’t believe it actually happened.

For me personally, and for the rest of us, it’s probably the coolest thing we have done up to now.

DAN: One of my first gigs with the band was a Stars in Their Eyes-type thing, where we actually played as Killswitch, so to go on and actually play with them was mental. A dream come true.

ADAM: One of my favourite bands ever. Growing up, myself and I can imagine the rest of us, we were watching Killswitch on TV or listening to them. To come out and play in what was basically their crowd…

DAN: If we hadn’t been supporting them, we’d have been in the crowd watching them.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

DAN: Up until recently, it was to release a full album, but we’ve done that now, so our next goal is to get onto the festival circuit next year.

We’re doing another headline run across the UK next month promoting the new album, and we’ll just keep on going forward from there.

We’d love to play to some big crowds, so festivals are the next goal, I think.

ADAM: We’d also like to tour the US one day.

DAN: Record another album, write new music. We had a European tour booked for next month, but it fell through, and we would very much like to re-book that in the near future.

ADAM: Yeah, we have some Romanian friends who make home-made Romanian alcohol, so we’d like to try some of that.

DAN: Yeah, definitely. So, we’d like to tour Europe, play some big festivals, and start working on another album. Those are the plans, anyway.

Skies In Motion album cover




FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/skiesinmotion

TWITTER: twitter.com/skiesinmotion

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/skiesinmotion

YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com




Beckon Lane band photo

BECKON LANE (from l-r): Samer Bata (lead guitar), Lewis Phillis (vocals/guitar), Dan Brown (drums/backing vocals), Mike Nightingale (bass)


Beckon Lane are a hard rock/heavy metal four-piece from Nottingham.

They have made an impact on their local rock scene since forming in 2014 with an adernaline-fuelled sound full of complex riffs, vocal melodies, hooks and huge, stadium-friendly choruses.

The band have also started to have success further afield, with their recent two track EP, ‘The Long Road’, receiving much positive feedback.

With the quartet heading back into the studio next month to start work on their eagerly-anticipated debut album, they chatted with me about this and other things, just after playing an electrically charged set at their home city’s Macmillan Fest.

How did you all get together initially?

SAMER BATA (lead guitar): Basically, somebody that we know, I won’t say who it is, but they used to do a lot of band promotions, and they shared the status of somebody online who was looking to start up a band. That somebody was Lewis.

I contacted him, and we started discussing which bands we liked most of all, and I saw that we were meeting somewhere down the middle.

So then, I met up with him, and decided that we were both on the right track.

Our drummer Dan, he had been in a band in London, he came up to chat with us, because Lewis had known him for a few years before. We played him some of the stuff that me and Lewis had done, and he came on board pretty much there and then.

It wasn’t up until last year when Mike, our bassist, joined us. I’d known him from other bands, and he came in to replace our last bass player, who had left to concentrate on the other band they were playing in.

So yeah, that was all over a three year span.

How did the name Beckon Lane come about?

LEWIS PHILLIS (vocals/guitar): It was something…I went through quite a low point at one stage, and I was just thinking that nowadays, everyone seems to be expected to follow this certain path, you know, get married, settle down, start a family, and I was thinking every time somebody is at a low point, you find they take on a side path, whether it’s through drinking or other things.

My side path has always been music, it’s like the road less travelled, so for me, it was the lane that was beckoning me, and it was the name that popped into my head.

Also, I wanted something that didn’t necessarily say what particular style we are, because the name doesn’t really give you an idea, so it’s always a nice surprise for people when they come along.

There’s a bit of everything in there, because sometimes, you can pick a name that just sounds like heavy metal, and if you’re doing other things, it throws people.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

SAMER: That’s a tough one, because I’m in a band with three other very talented musicians. In terms of songwriting, sometimes, Dan will bring in a complete idea and we all just sort of work on that, breaking it down and adding our own influences.

Lyric-wise, even though I studied creative writing at university, I keep that to myself, letting Dan and Lewis write the majority of the lyrics, because I would much prefer for the guys in the band who sing, Lewis on lead vocals and Dan on backing vocals, to do that.

In terms of guitar work, I will tend to do my own thing. Sometimes, Dan will have an idea and so will Lewis, who will sing some lyrics to me, and I will try and work around that.

It’s really varied, we don’t have a set thing. At the end of the day, we always insist on all of our decisions being made between the four of us.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DAN BROWN (drums/backing vocals):  I dunno. It’s just kind of our own lives, I suppose, just choices we’ve made, stuff we’ve been through.

One of our new songs, ‘Breathe’, is about someone who was dead once, but then they were brought back to life. The song’s basically about that, so it’s just, all of our songs come together as and when, I suppose it comes up in an emotional state.

LEWIS: Sometimes as well, it’s like if there is a particular context to a song, sometimes the lyrics will get passed to me, I’ll add bits, and then, I will add my perspective, because we like trying to write lyrics that have got multiple meanings, so when you’re listening, you’re not necessarily seeing it from our point of view, you can put your own meanings to them, and take your own things away from it.

SAMER: Also, sometimes, if there’s a great riff idea, there was one for our song ‘Fire’. I played the riff, called it ‘Fire’, and it inspired Dan and Lewis to write lyrics around the subject of that.

LEWIS: Throwing things in a pot, and seeing what comes out. That’s what it is a lot of the time! (laughs)

You released your second EP, ‘The Long Road’, earlier this year. How well do you think it was received?

LEWIS: I think it went really well, we’ve had some awesome reviews of it. The initial intention of doing it was that we’d done our first EP, and then obviously, it had been a year or so, and we knew that we wanted to get back into the studio at some point and start working on a full album.

We all thought: “Well, we’ve got these songs that have a bit more of a commercial edge to them, with better production values, so we’ll do an EP as a stop-gap.”

We put them out, and a lot of the time, when we’ve played them as part of our live set, our fans seem to highlight them as their particular favourites.

SAMER: Any reviews that we have had of the EP up to now, we’ve been lucky, because it’s such a chance moment when you send something to a magazine for them to do a review of.

We’re really humbled and grateful to all of the magazines who have reviewed the EP, as they have been very vocal about how good it is.

For a band, as you and a lot of people know out there, to be just starting out, have invested a lot of money into the costs of recording, printing and all of the other stuff, it’s great just to get that level of positive feedback.

LEWIS: It makes the time and energy spent worth it. We’ve always worked in a way in which there are no B-tracks, which normally, a lot of bands write a lot of. We make sure that if a song is not 100%, we put it to one side if it’s got potential, and then we’ll work on it, making sure that it’s the strongest it can be.

SAMER: That’s what happened with ‘Long Way Round’. The initial idea was thought up right at the beginning of the band. I played a riff on the guitar, but it didn’t work out for whatever reason.

A few years later, I started to play it again, Dan got inspired by it, the chorus became the pre-chorus, and then Dan wrote the chorus on top of that. It’s just an ever-evolving process for us, and it’s brilliant that it happens that way.

Towards the end of this year, the band will be recording their debut album.

LEWIS: Yes, we’ll be heading back into the studio at the end of October, start of November.

We’re obviously going to be starting with the drums this year, and then do everything else at the beginning of next year, so we’re hoping to get it released in the middle of next year.

SAMER: We’re not going to say much about it for now, but there will be some news on when and how it will be released.

LEWIS: Check out our social media for updates!

SAMER: We will be releasing more information as we get nearer to the release date. People have already heard a lot of the songs that will be on there, and we reckon it’s going to be something that will propel us to the next stage of our career.

Anything else you have lined up for the near future at all?

LEWIS: Yes, we’re going to be playing a few gigs. The No-Hate Festival in Nottingham on November 11, that’s going to be at the Rescue Rooms, and on December 2, we’ve also got the Beckon Lane Christmas Shindig. That’s our own thing that we’ve got, and that will also be in Nottingham, at the Tap n’ Tumbler.

SAMER: For that one, we have a secret headliner.

LEWIS: Yes, and we reckon it will be one of the last chances people are going to be able to see them for free at such a small venue. We’re not going to say who they are just yet, even the other bands we’ve booked have no idea.

It’s an awesome day, we did it last year, and we’re going to try and do it every year. It’s just us celebrating with a load of other bands that we’ve played with and admire.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

LEWIS: The long-term aim is that we just want to create music that a lot of people will like, something which I have always said.

Even for people who aren’t really into rock and metal, they do have that one CD of your Bon Jovi, your Nickelback or your Guns N’ Roses, we’re aiming to get into that thing, and with our style of music, we can go from lighter to heavier stuff easily, there’s something for everyone, and you find that some people will go: “I don’t like this song, but I like that song“, and it’s what we want to kind of continue doing.

Obviously, when we’ve done the album, we want to start touring to support that, and it’s then just onwards and upwards from there, I think. The sky’s the limit, but I don’t think there will ever be a time where we will become complacent about it, because you can always go bigger.

I think Dan said at one point that he will know it’s going to be good when we play Wembley! (laughs)

There’s nothing like setting your aims high, but I think it’s making sure not to give yourself certain expectations when there is potential to be much bigger.

It will be a case of getting our music out there, try and keep playing, doing what we’re doing, and hoping that the stars will align and we can get to the point where we can make a living out it at some point, just so we can put all of our time into it, and I think it’s the same goal for a lot of bands.

Beckon Lane EP Cover



OFFICIAL WEBSITE: beckonlane.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/beckonlane

TWITTER: twitter.com/BeckonLane

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/Beckonlaneofficial




MACMILLAN FEST 2017 – Nottingham, 02/09/2017

Macmillan Fest 2017 poster


PHOTOS of The Treatment by CALLUM GROVE

As the summer festival season drew to a close for another year, a corner of the centre of Nottingham was taken over by the Macmillan Fest, which was now in its eighth year raising money and awareness for the great cause that is Macmillan Cancer Support, and has become a fixture of the city’s rock music calendar.

This was my second time covering it for this site, and in terms of the weather on the day, there was no comparison to the first.

Last year, the festival took place under grey skies and torrential rain, but this year, it was blue skies and glorious sunshine all the way.

With the opening bands kicking off their sets around half past one, I got to the press accreditation tent, situated around the back of the legendary venue that is Rock City, as the clock struck 1pm.

Having got my wristband and press pass, I made my way into the Black Cherry Lounge, an adjacent nightclub that was doubling for the day as a press and band preparation area.

There, you could see roadies shifting equipment about, vocalists undertaking rigorous singing exercises, and musicians making final tweaks to their instruments before they ventured on stage.

With my first interview of the day, with Welsh post-hardcore quartet Holding Absence, under my belt, it was time to head over to the Rescue Rooms, which was playing host to the majority of the day’s sets, with the building holding three of the stages. It lacks the prestige of its neighbour, but is a great venue nonetheless.

Opening up the place’s main stage were local metal five-piece Centurion. They had earned that spot on the bill after winning the festival’s Battle of the Bands competition back in June, and judging by their live performance, it was easy to see how they had won.

Centurion gig photo

The set was delivered with much feistiness, whether it was coming from the strong vocals and stage presence of frontwoman Esme Knight, or the band’s sound, much influenced by the classic metal of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and “The Big Four”.

It must have been daunting for them to be the opening act, what with being handed the task of warming up the crowd, who at this point in proceedings, had yet to really get into the swing of things, but after seeing the band perform such a confident set, actively involving themselves with the audience, it seems to have been taken with relish.

Directly upstairs from this, another band native to Nottingham were playing another strong set.

Say The Word are classed as a pop-punk outfit, but their sound is not stereotypical of the genre, with the quartet also taking influence from the likes of the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen.

Say The Word band photo

With more of a compact space, the crowd were able to get up, close and personal with the band members, who all performed with high energy, which by its conclusion, had left them, and much of the patrons, covered in sweat.

Currently enjoying a rising reputation, this was probably the last time you would have had the opportunity to see them play such an intimate stage.

After that, I decided to cool down by taking a little stroll outside around the back of the Rescue Rooms, where there were stalls offering free samples of whisky, charity head shaves, clothing and other merchandise, as well as a barbecue and a raffle (with a cuddly Chewbacca as one of the main prizes).

Then, it was back to the Black Cherry Lounge to conduct some interviews, which you will be able to see on this site shortly.

All of the bands I chatted with, including locals Skies In Motion and Beckon Lane, Lincoln outfit Borders, and one of the headliners, Hacktivist, who had recently supported Korn, were comprised of nice, down-to-earth guys. You could tell that they were there to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause, rather than using the festival as an opportunity to inflate their egos.

One of these were metalcore five-piece Our Hollow, Our Home, who were performing a stone’s throw away in the basement of Rock City, and their set will be looked back on by the people who were there to see them as one of the highlights of the day.

Our Hollow, Our Home band photo

The Southampton quintet certainly knew how to work the crowd, with heavy sounds that made you feel as if there was an earthquake going on, and the frontman actively encouraging the crowd to form a moshpit, which gradually grew from just a few die-hard fans at the front, to, by the set’s conclusion, pretty much the entire room, creating an electric atmosphere.

On my way to the Rescue Rooms to see one of the main draws, heavy rock five-piece The Treatment, I bumped into a devout fan of theirs who told me that this would be the 13th time he had seen them live.

Having not seen them play in the flesh once, I thought they must put on a great show if they’re good enough to have been seen that many times, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Treatment gig photo 1

The Cambridge outfit are now at the stage where they can attract a devoted following wherever they play, and this was made clear with the almighty roar, more akin to that experienced at a football match, the crowd gave when they emerged onto stage.

They started playing at full throttle, and even towards the end of their hour-and-a-bit set, not one of the band members showed any signs of slowing down, performing with energy in abundance.

The Treatment gig photo 2

The quintet’s enthusiasm was matched by the audience, who were eagerly singing along, word for word, to the lyrics, even to the tracks from their most recent album ‘Generation Me’, as well as bobbing their heads to a sound that was a mix of classic rock, heavy metal and punk.

The Treatment gig photo 4

The Treatment really do know how to work a crowd, with frontman Mitch Emms issuing rallying cries in between an intense vocal delivery, and the guitarists, comprising of two brothers, treating them to some great riffery.

The Treatment gig photo 3

I would highly recommend seeing this band at your earliest opportunity, because in this age of Autotune, much choreography and where image is seen as more important than talent, it was refreshing to see something where real rock ‘n’ roll played by gifted musicians took centre stage.

Some have said in the recent past that rock is dead, but judging from what I saw across the stages, these people must have a defeatist attitude, because if you look beyond the mainstream and delve just a little into the underground, you will pleasantly find that it is actually in very rude health.

My review can’t end without me acknowledging everyone who selflessly gave up their free time and worked incredibly hard in order to make sure such a substantial event ran like clockwork, and that as much money and awareness as possible was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support, a great charity that helps people unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with a terrible illness that has devastated the lives of many people over the years.


















Peur band photo

Hitting your senses with a sound that fuses the edgy dexterity of Nine Inch Nails with the hook-laden know-how of Biffy Clyro, Peur are a band that you must hear.

Ferociously impressive and massive in sound, the Manchester-based trio deliver bold, roaring alt-rock that’s as melodic as it is heavy. Formed at the start of 2013,
members Joe Lomax (vocals/guitar), Ryan Greenhalgh (bass) and Sam Tempest
(drums) bring an enthralling and unique vision of music, striking a balance between heavy instruments and the very best elements of hard and alternative rock sounds.

With influences ranging from Muse and 65daysofstatic to Northlane, their broad taste allows them to write music with complexity and mainstream appeal.

To date, the band have supported a host of artists panning from the DZ Deathrays, Allusondrugs, and Dearly Beloved, to Empty Yard Experiment, and have also received prominent coverage from independent, commercial FM and Internet radio shows, including BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music.

2015 was a successful year for the industrious trio, as their widely received sophomore EP, ‘Future Architects’, brought the alt-rockers much national attention and also earned them a slot at T In The Park. The band then spent the vast majority of 2016 penning tracks for their debut album, which lands later this year.

Before this, Peur mark their return with the release of a new single, which has been produced by long term collaborator Dan Weller (Enter Shikari, Young Guns), entitled, ‘An Exercise in Abstinence’. The single is a dynamic slab of captivating alt-rock laced with alluring phrasing that is destined to ignite.

The band will also be touring throughout October; see below for dates:

Saturday 14th – London The Lock Tavern, Tuesday 17th – Hull The Sesh, Thursday 19th – Leeds Chapel, Friday 20th – Huddersfield Parish, Saturday 21st – Newcastle Trillians.



FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PeurOfficial

TWITTER: twitter.com/peurofficial

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/peur.space



Cassia band photo

CASSIA (from l-r): Jake Leff (drums), Rob Ellis (vocals/guitar), Lou Cotterill (bass)



For young Cheshire three-piece Cassia, 2017 has so far been very fruitful.

The band have burst onto the emerging music scene with an infectious feel-good sound that has been described as “calypso afro-rock”, resulting in them being championed by BBC Introducing, and attracting a sizable, and growing, following on social media.

The Macclesfield trio had a busy August Bank Holiday weekend, playing at Reading and Leeds, releasing a new single, and kicking it off by playing an intimate headline set in Hanley, where I spoke to them.

How did the band get together?

LOU COTTERILL (bass): Myself and Rob, we were doing little bits in a studio, just trying to make music, really. We’d both just come out of school, and we wanted to start gigging.

However, our sound wasn’t working with just the two of us, so we went on a quest for a drummer. We found Jake in a Wetherspoon’s, with the help of my girlfriend Camilla. She introduced us to each other, and we actually said to him: “Do you know any drummers?“, because we thought he was going to be too busy or whatever.

He asked us if he could give it a go at all, and it all went from there. We haven’t looked back since.

How did the name Cassia come about?

LOU: It was just a word, really, with not much meaning behind it, when we first plucked it out of the air. We were just trying to find stuff that could go hand-in-hand with our sound. I think cassia is a tropical word for cinnamon or bark, from a tropical tree or something.

JAKE: Interestingly enough, about a year down the line, we found a djembe drum, and it has definitely changed what I have been doing with the drums and stuff. The djembe is actually made out of cassia wood, so that was quite cool. I thought to myself at the time: “It was meant to be!

You define your sound as “calypso afro-rock“. For those who have no idea, what is that exactly?

JAKE: Feel-good dancing music, I reckon. Lots of percussion.

LOU: Plenty of rhythm.

JAKE: I don’t really know how to explain it, if someone doesn’t know what it is.

LOU: Happy rhythms and melodies. Not many minor chords in there.

JAKE: How would you describe it, Rob?

ROB: Well, I suppose it’s a culmination of ideas. I don’t know, it’s just a phrase we use to describe ourselves.

JAKE: I think it was actually our manager who came up with that.

Which bands/artists are you all influenced by the most?

LOU (quietly): We all like Vampire Weekend. (All laugh) We say that all the time. We do like a bit of Paul Simon…

ROB: The Police?

JAKE: Yeah, them.

ROB: I dunno. It sort of depends, really, on what we’re listening to at the time.

JAKE: The Beach Boys, they’re pretty cool.

ROB: Everyone’s got a nice thing going on, haven’t they?

LOU: Yeah, it’s all about piecing it all together, something that’s a bit different.

ROB: We’ve got a bit of Paul Simon in there, not too much, though, because no-one likes that.

LOU: You also can’t have too much Vampire Weekend.

JAKE: Yeah, it fucking does your head in, doesn’t it?

LOU: Yeah, just some African vibes mixed in with some accessible sounds.

JAKE: An accessible twist!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

JAKE: We play together for three hours and pray! (All laugh)

ROB: As of recent, yeah. It’s pretty much that, isn’t it?

JAKE: Our songs usually come with a staple idea, some core ingredients, and that can come in the form of anything, really. We then just jam around it.

LOU: Rob will come in and go: “I’ve got the riffs!

JAKE: Big, fatty riffs.

LOU: We then add some grooves.

JAKE: There’s also a cheeky harmony thrown in there, and we’re good to go.

ROB: It’s hard, though. You can get a good idea, but then it can become a terrible song. It’s about turning a good idea into a good song. We do have a lot of stuff on the go, we always have a lot of tunes, but it just gets narrowed down to a couple.

JAKE: We usually something called ‘The Morning After Test’, where it’s like: “Fucking yeah, this song is sick!“, but then we will listen to it the next morning, and we will go: “What the fuck is this?

ROB: Normally, that can be because of extreme fatigue, which can cloud our judgement somewhat. That tends to happen sometimes.

What inspires the band lyrically?

ROB: I don’t know, really. We’ve actually never been asked this before. It’s just kind of happy stuff, to be honest. It’s like, all of that first person based stuff, not as if it’s about me, but about someone else or something like that.

The way we’re playing now, the way we write, it’s kind of easier to come up with stuff while you’re making sounds and things, and you try and form it all into lyrics, whereas we used to spend quite a bit of time writing them, now, we just change them as we go along.

LOU: Writing and changing.

ROB: Yeah.

2017 has so far been a remarkable year for the band. One of your singles, ‘100 Times Over’, received airplay on BBC Radio 1, there’s been an European tour, as well as numerous festivals played. How have you been dealing with all that? You must be pinching yourselves.

JAKE: It’s been ridiculous.

LOU: It’s been crazy.

JAKE: Luckily, where we come from, no-one really gives a shit, so that’s kept us grounded.

ROB: It’s been good.

JAKE: It’s awesome to be able to play music with your friends, and to get to travel as well. I mean, Germany, I’d never been before we played there, that was cool.

You haven’t quite got to the stage yet where you are all making ludicrous demands, then?

(All laugh)

JAKE: No, we could never do that, could we? We were lucky to do this Apple Music thing recently, and there was an artist, I won’t say who it is, let’s just say they’re bigger than us, and apparently, they were demanding Nando’s to be brought to their dressing room.

LOU: I don’t think we’ll ever get like that, to be honest. It doesn’t feel like we have moved forward, even though a lot of things have happened or are happening. We’re still at that stage where we practice in a shitty little practice room on Mondays. I guess that’s kept us grounded as well.

ROB: I like that, though, because we would be sort of kidding ourselves if we got all this fancy gear and stuff. It’s good to come back to a place where it all started.

LOU: It’s just happy days, innit?

You’re headlining here in Hanley tonight, but this weekend, you are going to be playing Reading and Leeds. How are you feeling towards that? Excited? Nervous?

LOU: We’re really excited, actually.

JAKE: Fucking buzzing!

ROB: I’m really, really nervous. (laughs) No, actually, I’m fine. I think it will be a good laugh.

LOU: I think this will be our last festival set of the summer. The ones we have been playing have all been building up to this, this will be the big one, so we’re excited, but there’s some nerves as well.

JAKE: I haven’t taken it in yet. I still can’t really think about it, to be honest.

ROB: It was good when we got our guest passes delivered to us the other day, all access areas and that. We would like to use them to meet Eminem, maybe have a coffee with him.

You’re also going to be on tour in October to promote your forthcoming EP, ‘Movers & Shapers’. How is the experience of playing live and touring?

ROB: It’s tiring, but I like it. There’s a lot of waiting around, you have to get used to that, and the driving to and from the venues is pretty intense.

JAKE: Lou’s the band driver, but this weekend will be the first time he doesn’t have to drive all of us around.

ROB: Last week, we played Nottingham and London, and I think in between, we only got two hours sleep. It gave me a gum infection!

(Lou and Jake laugh)

LOU: Yeah, Rob sent me a text saying: “I can’t come to practice today, I’ve got to go to the dentist’s instead.” We’re not quite rock n’ roll yet.

I have to say the live stuff is the most exciting thing about being in a band.

ROB: Yeah, definitely.

LOU: For me, there’s no better feeling than playing to a venue full of people singing along to the songs you have written.

When will the EP be released?

JAKE: It will probably be in the next few months.

ROB: More like over the next ten years.

JAKE: Our new single, ‘Sink’, has just come out.

ROB: Yeah, we’re planning to do a few versions of that track, along with other stuff. That will be quite cool, I reckon. There’s going to be a lot of releases for the rest of this year.

What is the band’s long-term aim?

ROB: We’re well on our way to Wembley, I’d say.

JAKE: To be fair, any band that says they don’t want to play a stadium are lying. If we could get to play somewhere like Wembley or the Castlefield Bowl, that would be great. We would have done pretty well.



Cassia tour poster


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.wearecassia.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/wearecassia

TWITTER: twitter.com/wearecassia

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