Tag Archives: Indie

BRIGHTLIGHT CITY

Brightlight City band photo

BRIGHTLIGHT CITY (from l-r): Tom Stock (bass/vocals), Jamie Giarraputo (vocals), Justin Giarraputo (guitar/vocals), Jono Staunton (guitar), Ben Bell (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Armed with a strong sonic combination of elements of rock, indie, and alternative rock, five-piece Brightlight City are an outfit ready to unleash their full potential with debut album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘, which comes out next month, an follows on from their well-received 2017 first EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead‘, and the band’s guitarist/vocalist, Justin Giarraputo, recently spoke to me about its recording process, what can be expected from the upcoming release, and much more.

How did the band initially get together?

The short version – the band started with me and my brother Jamie recruiting long-time friend Jono to start writing music with big riffs and even bigger choruses.

After a few members came and went, Jamie heard Ben practicing in a rehearsal studio he used to run and own. Ben then came down and learnt the songs, and he fitted the energy of the band instantly.

Ben then brought Tom into the fold, and the band began to incessantly write, record, and play live.

How did the name Brightlight City come about?

Whilst experimenting with a number of names, we settled on the name Brightlight City, as it seemed to fit our ambitions and passion for our music, with the bright bursting rhythms and hooks, which were underpinned by personal, social, and emotional themes.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Our approach has been something that we have learnt over the last three-and-a-bit years of playing together. We started trying to write as a band in a small space, which did throw up some great ideas and riffs, but for us, it always hit a wall, as sounds were fighting each other.

We now have found that it is easier to thrash out ideas either individually, or in pairs, then bring it to the rest of the band. We also have invested our time (and money) into our own home studio set-up, which allows us to record and lay down the parts before even bringing the ideas to a rehearsal space.

That way, we can send ideas to each other and work on them in our own time before playing them together and committing them to tape on a recording.

Our album (‘The Harmony & The Chaos‘) was pretty much recorded in our two main home studios (one at Tom’s where we recorded the drums, all of the guitar, bass and keyboard parts plus additional vocals, and at Jamie’s where we recorded the main vocals).

This has worked so successfully that myself and Tom have already written six tracks for a new album/EP, which the others are now working out parts for.

In 2017, the band brought out their debut EP, ‘Our Future’s Not Dead’, to positive reviews, and praise from the likes of Kerrang! magazine. How was the response to that for you all personally?

The response was amazing, when you are so heavily invested in writing and performing your music, it feels great to get a pat on the back (or 4 Ks) from a magazine like Kerrang!

We always come from the standpoint of writing music that has passion, honesty and that we love to listen to.

It was really great to read the reviews and response we had for ‘OFND‘ as we did, and still do believe in and love those songs. However, we are really excited at hearing the response to the album, as we put every single piece of our passion, time, blood, sweat, and tears into creating it.

Standing back and listening to it for us is a journey, but we feel it fits as one cohesive piece to define where the band were, and hopefully carves out the direction we will be following over the next releases.

In May, you will be unveiling your first album, ‘The Harmony & The Chaos’. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process – for us – was great, I really feel we grew as a band, and as a collective. We pushed ourselves as individuals to try and better each guitar line, drum fill, and vocal hook that we wrote.

At times it was exhilarating, other times, you felt like you could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but to come through it and have the set of songs we have now, we all feel proud of what we have created.

One of the last choruses we recorded was for a song called ‘Who You Are‘. It has this group end refrain in which Jamie summed up the process beautifully with his lyrics -“Make your way through the dark, finding out who you are.

And how will the upcoming release differ stylistically to the EP?

Stylistically, we worked on pushing our song writing into some different directions. We tried to think of our favourite styles present in our favourite songs, so huge choruses with huge hooks, making something nice sound discordant, the “quiet/loud /quiet” approach to the unrelenting straight-up punk and hardcore vibes.

There are a number of themes on the album, as not only do we look at current social and political views, but Jamie became quite insular, and looked at how his genetic make-up and how he personally impacts on the world he lives in.

There are moments on every song of this album where the lines sung are soaked in emotion and deeper meaning, and this is something we always strive to create, which is music with a purpose that others can relate to.

One of the album’s tracks, the recently-released ‘Statues & Monuments’, deals frankly with Jamie’s struggles with anxiety and depression. Obviously, you all think it’s good that there are more open discussions on mental health now.

It is a fantastic thing that we now are starting to turn the tide on the stigma attached to mental health. Rather than just brush it under the carpet or tell someone to “man up“, we are starting to realise the importance of what it means to support each other through our personal battles.

If we could all have more compassion for each other, and start to work together for the benefit of the communities we are part of, with love and understanding rather than being judgmental and competitive, the world we inhabit would become a less scary place.

I really feel that there are infrastructures in place within our society to keep everyone in a state of apathy, which only benefit a minority of people. This is why being creative, whether it be in music, art, drama, literature, etc. allows you to escape the confinements of these structures, and you lay a path for others to follow.

It is also really enlightening to know there is something more than what we have been offered, as for us, creating and playing music is like a part of who we are as individuals that has been enhanced by playing together in a band.

We are all great friends and help and talk to each other about our issues and problems, and always attempt to help and solve them. We always make the most of every opportunity, and attempt to make a positive impact on everything we do.

The band have supported such outfits as Rise Against, Blood Youth, and Fizzy Blood. How were they all as experiences?

Every experience we have been through has been incredible, and we are always learning from our peers and contemporaries in music. Rise Against was an unbelievable show, where we were flown out to Quebec City to play a festival they were headlining, and standing side stage and watching them perform was very inspiring and we were thankful for the opportunity given to us.

Playing with bands like Blood Youth, Fizzy Blood, Max Raptor, Young Legionnaire, and Press to MECO has been great, as it has allowed us to meet and gain valuable advice from bands who we look up to on the scene we are now a part of.

Like I said above, we make the most of every opportunity that we are given, as we know it gives us experience, and a chance to gain advice from other bands.

And how is it overall, for everyone in Brightlight City, performing live?

Performing live is something we love, I know that on stage we all put on an energetic, passion-fuelled performance. Off-stage (or just before we go on), we have a number of rituals that we all follow.

We tend to help each other through the nerves (yes, we still get nervous because we care about what we do, and sometimes when you’re on stage, you are at your most vulnerable, but also most open) by talking about films or TV shows we have been watching, books or new stories we have read, and most of the time, we have some fantastic and ridiculous conversations on various subjects.

All this helps to get us focused on putting on the best show we can, as we always live by the adage “play every show like it’s your last“.

What are the band’s plans following the new album coming out?

We have been playing live loads since February, so we will continue playing as much as we can to promote the album. We will also be looking at securing slots on various festivals and support slots on some tours, and in any spare time that we will have, we will also be finishing off new songs for either a future EP release or album two.

We also run our own label (Undead Collective Records) and will be working with the amazing bands we have on our roster on their releases, if you take anything from this article, 1. pre-order / buy our album, and 2. check out the following bands: Loose Tooth, Best Of Enemies, Merrick’s Tusk, and Seasonal.

We are also on the lookout for any music that fits within the alt-rock genre, so have a listen to the bands above, and if you think you would like to submit anything, then get in contact with us.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

Our long-term aim is to keep writing, playing, and releasing music. Like I said, we have already written six new songs, which are an even bigger step up from our forthcoming debut album, so we are really excited to see how they turn out.

Alongside that, we also want to support the music scene by building our label into the most popular independent alternative label in the UK. Watch this space, it will happen.

Brightlight City Album Cover

‘THE HARMONY & THE CHAOS’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM BRIGHTLIGHT CITY, WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 17 VIA UNDEAD COLLECTIVE RECORDS.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

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JOHN DHALI

John Dhali photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

About five years ago, John Dhali had his life turned around by the intervention of a Hindu satguru, and he decided that the next step he had to take in his life was to become a musician.

Now – through numerous gigging across the UK, and two well-received EPs – John has truly made a name for himself as a singer-songwriter who crafts soulful music and heartfelt lyrics that champion self-realisation and self-development, which he is eager to share with as many people as he possibly can.

John spoke to us about this – and more – following his recent set at the Karnage Festival at Keele University.

What would you say was your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory was that my family used to have a party every Boxing Day, and one particular year – when I was around six, seven – we were doing some karaoke, and I wanted to sing ‘Can’t Stop’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as one time, I was walking through a meadow with my dad, singing it, and he said, “That’s alright, that is!

Was there a specific moment when you decided that a career as a musician was for you?

Yeah, there was, actually. I’m about to get deep on you, is that okay?

That’s fine.

So, about five years ago, I was in a very bad place mentally. I was taking a lot of drugs, and I was really quite crazy, but then, I met someone called Sri Ramana Devi, who is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, and a satguru in the Hindu tradition, and she offered me an amazing amount of love and compassion.

I was allowed to stay on her farm for a couple of days, and in that time, we both worked through a lot of the issues that I was having, and with her support and guidance, I found it in myself to pursue a career in music, so after those few days, I decided to go back to a normal life, and make changes along the way.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

My approach to songwriting is that I always want to write something from a place of sincerity and meaning, as I never want to write anything that is shallow. I wouldn’t sit down and try and write any old shit, as it’s got to be something that comes from the heart, but in terms of the actual approach to songwriting, it can come in all shapes and sizes, you know.

A lot of the time, I will write the lyrics down first, as they will resonate the most with my heart, but other times, I will have an idea that I will then play on my guitar, and that I will then work with, but I need to feel something whilst doing it, because otherwise, it’s not worth my time.

What inspires you lyrically?

My own process of self-realisation and self-development – and the experiences that I have – is what inspires me lyrically, and that enables me to spread a conscientious message to the world, which is facing yourself and becoming a fuller version of who you really are, but also on a more practical level, my mum actually inspires me a lot, as a lot of times, she will say something to me, which will then trigger something in my mind.

You have brought out two well-received EPs. Honestly – especially with your 2015 self-titled debut – did you expect the responses that they got?

No, not at all, because I hadn’t released any music before then, I wasn’t really on any music scene, I only did the odd gig, no-one really knew who I was, and it was my dad who actually helped me to fund the recording of the first EP, but it came out, did really well, and kind of jump-started my musical career, I suppose.

As well as doing solo gigs – like the one you have just done – you also play as part of a five-piece ensemble. What made you decide to do that?

Since my first EP came out – and even before then – I have been in the process of finding myself musically, as well as spiritually, so I’ve been trying out lots of different things, including the ensemble, and they decided to make themselves a separate entity, called Headlights, but now, I’ve just completed some really intense self-development sessions with Sri Ramana Devi – who I mentioned earlier – who has done magical things with me.

I’ve also really worked hard on myself, and have realised who I am, which is a soul-folk singer-songwriter, and so now, I’ve scrapped the band.

Why have you finished the band?

Because it’s not who I am, and it simply doesn’t resonate with me. I see the band as just part of the process I was going through, and it has served its purpose.

You have performed across the UK. How is the live experience for you personally?

It’s very different every time I play. Some of the times, I have had some truly amazing experiences, and I feel there isn’t a division between myself and the audience, as we’re all in the same process together, and you can find yourself getting into a meditative state, and going beyond yourself, feeling like you’re not even there, and not doing anything, which feels really amazing.

Other times, it can be hard – especially being an up-and-coming artist – and I often play gigs in bars and stuff.

You say on your website that you enjoy playing gigs in people’s living rooms.

Yeah, I love them, but it can be a mixed bag, to be honest. It can be really enjoyable playing to a quite, attentive audience, but then, the rowdy gigs can actually be the best ones, as everyone seems really up for it.

Was it rowdy earlier?

It was more in-between, but it was really good, and I very much enjoyed it.

And finally, what are your plans for the near future?

So, the lady who I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, she has founded a charity called the Shiva Trust, which I am a trustee for, and together, we are working on an initiative to find, support, and encourage young artists to convey a message to the world through their art.

I am a conscious artist, so I’ll soon be doing a campaign to promote the charity, speaking to as many people as possible, and we’re also starting a competition, where £5,000 will be given to a young artist to submit their work and make a statement saying how they want to make the world a better place.

I’ve also got a particular song – which has my own conscientious message in – which I will soon be recording as a single, and I’ll be doing a campaign around that.

FURTHER INFO ON THE SHIVA TRUST CAN BE FOUND HERE, AND MORE INFO ON JOHN DHALI CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

MORE NEW ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR CAMDEN ROCKS 2019

The Pigeon Detectives band photo

Camden Rocks Festival is proud to announce a further 60 bands for the 2019 edition, including The Pigeon Detectives, scheduled to perform on the Saturday.

Hailing from Yorkshire, the all-English quartet has established itself amongst the country’s best indie bands. From their platinum-selling debut album, ‘Wait For Me’, to the deeper and more reflective fifth record ‘Broken Glances’, The Pigeon Detectives have the catalogue, and the experience, to deliver a show that will be remembered.

Ruts DC band photo

Also announced are English reggae-influenced punk rockers The Ruts DC, who will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album ‘The Crack’; metalcore four-piece Glamour Of The Kill, singer-songwriter Sean McGowan, anthemic pop-rock Londoners Luna Bay; acoustic duo Undead Raisins (comprising of Andy & Colin from Hundred Reasons); and more.

Glamour Of The Kill band photo

Alongside these artists, there are also fifty of the finest emerging acts in the today’s rock landscape including fresh back from SXSW, exciting new Glasgow punk rockers The Dunts, the new band from Guy McKnight (singer from Matchbox B-Line Disaster), The DSM IV, as well as Novacub – a new project from some of the members of Bloc Party, alternative metal outfit Skarlett Riot, promising punk four-piece Catch Fire, multi-talented indie newcomers Hello Operator, and many more.

The new additions to the Camden Rocks Festival 2019 join an already impressive list of talent from rock, indie, alternative, folk, and punk music, and its myriad of hybrids – a diverse list headed up by the likes of Frank Turner, Deaf Havana, Ash, The Wonder Stuff, Rat Boy, New Model Army, Wheatus, Carl Barat, Ginger Wildheart, The Professionals, Angelic Upstarts, Milk Teeth, Pretty Vicious, Raging Speedhorn, Random Hand, Discharge, Eliza and The Bear, The Virginmarys, Area 11, Sonic Boom Six, The Last Internationale, Our Hollow, Our Home, Spunge, Bang Bang Romeo, Lotus Eater, REWS, Annabel AllumBig Boy Bloater and The Limits, Loathe, Strange Bones, and many, many more.

Not only does Camden Rocks Festival showcase the very best emerging talent alongside much loved established acts, it also feeds off the thriving music scene that makes Camden such a special place; one that continues to draw generation after generation of misfits, rebels, music lovers, and music makers.

Anything goes in Camden, and on the weekend of Camden Rocks, this is amplified to ten.

Taking place on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June 2019, and now in its eighth year, the festival gives music fans the opportunity to see over 400 bands play across 20 venues all within a stone’s throw of each other in Camden Town, London.

For tickets and more information, go to www.camdenrocksfestival.co.uk

Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

 

MCRAE

McRae band photo

MCRAE (from l-r): Joe McRae (drums), Jordan Davies (bass/vocals), Jake McRae (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Aidan Reece (lead guitar/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Hailing from Lancashire, McRae are a four-piece who combine elements of indie, punk, and alternative rock to showcase a sound that addresses both a sense of aimlessness and optimism, which has resulted in them quickly gaining much popularity and acclaim across the north-west of England.

Now, with new single ‘Postapocalipstick’, the collective hope to spread their reach further around the UK, and beyond, and the quartet recently told me how they plan to achieve this, along with a whole host of other band-related topics.

How did the band initially form?

Jake and Aidan were previously in another band, of which two members left at the last minute, leaving us to quickly fill the slots with Jordan and Joe for upcoming gigs.

Jordan was a mate of ours already, and we asked him if he could learn our set about two days before the gig, and soon after that, Joe, who is cousins with Jake, and after parting ways with his old band, was introduced into the band, and that’s when it all started to fall into place.

I know McRae is the surname of two of its members, but how did it come about as the band name?

When Joe & Jordan joined the band and began gigging regularly with us, we decided that the name needed to change from Jake McRae & The What Went Wrongs, as half of the What Went Wrongs had left, and it felt much more like a band now, rather than a singer/songwriter fronting a group of musicians as it had been before, so we wanted to change the name to something that was less of a mouthful, and that felt right for us.

It was actually Aidan and our producer that thought our best option was McRae, which, to be honest, we’re not crazy about, so it’ll probably end up changing a few more times in future.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

We were all brought up on what our dads were listening to, which ranged from classic rock bands, to northern soul. We like to think there are elements of all the types of music we listen to in our songs, and more recently, it has been the likes of The Libertines and The Strokes who have made a pretty big impact on all of us.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Most of our earlier songs stem from a structure written with an acoustic guitar and lyrics, but more recently, we’ve built upon a sequence Aidan’s come up with, or even just from the four of us jamming.

Lyrically, it’s all written from common feelings from a personal viewpoint of a situation, and that usually ends up being relatable.

Recently, the band brought out a new single, ‘Postapocalipstick’, which followed debut track, ‘Cashback’. In your opinion, how have they been received so far?

We had been sat on ‘Cashback’ for ages before it was released, and when we decided to finally bring it out, we felt that we needed to film a video, so we did, and we kinda left it at that.

When it came to ‘Postapocalipstick’, we had more of a plan, and so far, we’ve had much more feedback and attention, which is all buzzing, because we think that it is the best song we’ve written so far, and it took quite a while to get it to where we wanted it to be, so to have such a great response to it has been really rewarding.

Having supported the likes of Urban Theory and The Hubbards, you will be opening for Ivory Wave in Manchester on April 27. For those who have yet to see McRae live, what can they expect?

We think of ourselves as a live band, rather than a studio band, so we’d suggest if anyone’s into our songs, seeing them live is the best way for us to demonstrate what we intended to write, and personally, we think there’s an atmosphere you can create at a gig that you just can’t get from listening to music.

And how is performing on stage, for you all, as an experience?

We’re all big gig-goers, and our favourite way to engage with a band is by watching them live, and so we try and make that impact on the people watching us, by keeping things as highly-energetic and loud as possible, and we have yet to play a gig that we haven’t enjoyed.

Following that gig, what are your plans for the rest of 2019?

We’ve got at least two more singles we’re hoping to release this summer, we’re also planning a headline show in Manchester, and we will be playing a few festival slots, but they’re yet to be announced!

And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?

To keep playing bigger and bigger shows, and to release more music, are about the only aims we’ve currently got, but also, Aidan wants to invent some gig tech!

McRae Single Cover

‘POSTAPOCALIPSTICK’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM MCRAE, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

 

 

SOMETHING ELSE

something else band photo

SOMETHING ELSE (from l-r): Colin McMillen (bass), Alex Dooley (drums), Aidan Hall (vocals/guitar), Landen Gruszewski (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having started out as an acoustic duo four years ago, Something Else have since developed into a post-pop/indie four-piece who have proven themselves to be very capable of holding their own on the music scene of Columbus, Ohio.

Recently, the emerging collective brought out a self-titled debut EP, and they had a quick chat with me about that, their journey so far, and the plans they have for the future.

How did the band get together?

Something Else formed on our front porch in early 2015 as an escape, which eventually blossomed into much more, creating our own aggressive, emotional, and unapologetic sound.

How did the name Something Else come about?

It came from those long car rides we all had as kids yelling to our parents, “Can we listen to something else?“, and we wanted to be that “Something Else“.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Paying attention to the way we feel about things happening in our lives, and being honest about them. Certain songs are written in a night, while certain parts of songs can take a month.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Primarily self-reflection, and overall observation of our surroundings.

You recently brought out your self-titled debut EP. How was the recording process for that?

Very fun, but very demanding at the same time. We felt like we pushed ourselves to get our songs the best they could be, and with the help of our engineer, Jakob Mooney, we got them there.

And for those who have yet to listen to the EP, what can they expect from it?

It’s very introspective, emotional, and fun.

The band have so far performed live in their home city of Columbus. How is the contemporary music scene there, in your opinion?

Columbus, Ohio, is very much on the rise as a music city, as being within a couple hours drive of major music hubs like Chicago, Nashville, and New York City, we have more than enough access to killer venues and plenty of new connections. Some of our favourite local acts include 90’s Kids, The Forty, Tango Moms, and RADATTACK.

And how is the overall experience, for you all, of playing on stage?

AIDAN HALL (vocals/guitar): No matter the size of the show, it’s always the most fun I’ve ever had.

COLIN McMILLEN (bass): It mostly involves spitting hair out of my mouth, or pushing it out of my face, due to the the massive amount that flies around our heads.

LANDEN GRUSZEWSKI (guitar): It’s hard to look at the crowd when Dooley has his shirt off.

ALEX DOOLEY (drums): Aidan has a pretty nice booty, and I get to look at it a lot.

And finally, what are the band’s plans now the EP has come out?

We currently have plans to bring our songs on tour, and also to record a full-length album.

something else ep cover

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP FROM SOMETHING ELSE IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

HERE’S TO YOU

here's to you band photo

HERE’S TO YOU (from l-r): Mike Fenimore (bass/vocals), Stephan Stanzione (drums/vocals), Charlie Giovanniello (lead vocals/guitar), Greg Almeida (guitar/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Ten years ago this year, three high school friends from New York got together to form an indie/rock/pop band.

Calling themselves Here’s To You, and eventually adding another member to the outfit’s ranks, they put together a debut album, based on their teenage experiences, entitled ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, which came out in 2015, and since then, the four-piece have played hundreds of live sets across the US, including a performance at the South By Southwest festival in Texas.

Having been busy these past couple of months crafting their second offering, ‘Wonder/Wander’, to be unveiled this February, and promises to showcase a more mature sound, the collective were more than happy to tell me all about it, among other things.

How did the band get together?

GREG ALMEIDA (guitar/vocals): Stephan and Charlie have been friends for a while, and Stephan and I are cousins, so naturally, while having the interest in music in common, we pooled together and formed a band. I met Mike in college!

CHARLIE GIOVANNIELLO (lead vocals/guitar): I’ve known Stephan since middle school, and we both were interested in starting a band together. We were both in separate bands up until the ninth grade, when we jammed and demoed our first song.

We got some positive feedback from friends and family, and decided to stick together, picking up Greg and other friends along the way, and me, Greg, and Stephan have remained together since, but have gone through a couple of bassists, until Michael decided he liked us enough to stick around!

How did the name Here’s To You come about?

STEPHAN STANZIONE (drums/vocals): I honestly wish we had a better story for this one (laughs), but it seriously just came to my head way-back-when, and it was only after we had been a band for a while when the phrase started popping up in the most random of places!

CHARLIE: Stephan came up with two names, the first one was One Moon At A Time,  or something like that, and the other was Here’s To You. We all decided we liked the latter more, and after all this time, I’m glad we went with it!

STEPHAN: Oh wow, One Moon At A Time…perfect for my SOLO PROJECT!

What would you say were the band’s main musical influences?

GREG: We’re inspired by, like, everything, from indie, jazz, metal, to electronic. We just like to make good songs, but we find that playing instruments is something we’ll always love to do while playing songs live.

CHARLIE: When we started, we were heavily influenced by the pop-punk music of the mid 2000’s, bands like Fall Out Boy, Boys Like Girls, A Rocket To The Moon, Forever The Sickest Kids, but nowadays, I find myself more influenced by Walk The Moon, Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Neighborhood, and The Midnight.

MIKE FENIMORE (bass/vocals): It’s so hard to say, because our personal interests and influences have such a wide range. We all agree on great songwriting, no matter what the genre is, and the best part is that after you pool our diverse range of influential genres together, you get a cool song like ‘Burning Alive’!

STEPHAN: I think the fact that I have all of A Tribe Called Quest’s discography, to Drake Bell’s ‘It’s Only Time‘ (one of my favourite albums), all of the way to a bunch of The Legend of Zelda soundtracks on my phone, speaks volumes.

What inspires the band lyrically?

GREG: Definitely a lot of aspects of real life, and I pulled a lot from that whilst writing this album, so did Charlie and the other guys.

CHARLIE: A lot of lyrics are inspired by our individual personal experiences, whether it be love, breakups, lust, abstract ideas that emotionally move us. We’ll get together and discuss those personal experiences, and try to manifest the experience as a group in the forms of lyrics and melodies.

STEPHAN: As with almost all music in life: a love interest, but we definitely tried thinking outside of the box when it came to songwriting this time around.

MIKE: Real-life experiences and relationships with the people around us are almost always what our lyrics revolve around. I think of some of our songs as storytelling, but those stories are usually about something that one or more of us has been through.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

STEPHAN: I think the fact that all four of us are so involved with the writing process makes a huge difference in our songwriting. A lot of bands will just have one person writing lyrics, one person writing most of the instrumental, and maybe a member or two that doesn’t contribute all that much – that can totally work, but I think you can tell that our process really makes a difference in the final product.

CHARLIE: The approach changes slightly for each song, but generally, someone will have an idea, and it will get put into Ableton as an eight-bar loop, and then we all meet up and flesh it out into a demo from there.

GREG: For this album, it was completely different than our last. We really tried to approach the soundscape first, and create a few bars of an instrumental that fit to a concept we had talked about first.

For some songs, we even wrote to the vibe of the full album cover, as we saw that photograph and were just amazed, and so we wanted to kind of create a soundtrack to it.

MIKE: It usually starts with one of us bringing a demo or a voice memo to a writing session, and as a band, we’ll all change, add to it, and collectively make it our own.

Next month, the band will be bringing out the first part of their second album, ‘Wonder/Wander’, with parts two and three to come later this year. What is the main reason behind you doing that, rather than releasing it all at once?

GREG: It’s definitely been a while, so we were trying to just have the best release possible, which spreads the attention span out, which is what we like.

CHARLIE: We have a few loose ends on the other parts of the album, but we’re so eager to share what we’ve been working on, especially since we’ve been telling our fans that it has been in the works for so long.

We saw a few of our favourite artists doing this sort of release with their albums, so we thought it was the logical thing to do, plus it gives everyone a little more time to vibe with each set of songs.

STEPHAN: Realistically, John Mayer started the trend, and everyone wants to be like Mayer, so why not?

MIKE: The way that people listen to music has definitely been changing, especially over the last five to ten years, and like Greg said, we want to have the best release possible; we want as many people as possible to get to hear the songs in ‘Wonder/Wander’, so it’s been very important to us that we release this album in a strategic manner.

How has the recording process been for the album?

CHARLIE: It’s been a ton of fun. Spending 10-plus hour days every day for two weeks at VuDu Studios, and just seeing our vision come to life piece-by-piece was incredible, and as we continue to record the remaining bits of the album, we’re all still just as involved as on the first day we entered the studio.

GREG: Kind of a long one! (laughs)

MIKE: Similar to the way it’s being released, we recorded the album in phases, and this gave us the opportunity to get hyper-focused on a smaller batch of songs rather than just check boxes for a full album’s worth of songs. This helped us to be a little more personal and intentional with each song as the recording process went along.

STEPHAN: We’re still finishing and adjusting things as we speak! It’s been an awesome ride!

And how will it differ to your 2015 debut album, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’?

GREG: In pretty much every way it will differ. Sonically, visually, everything. We’re going for a much more mature vibe now. You can still tell it’s us, but with years of age.

CHARLIE: There was a lot more care and time put into ‘Wonder/Wander’. We’ve all developed our musicianship far ahead of what it was, and we’ve experienced a lot more of the real world, which has given us a much more mature sound.

STEPHAN: The songs on ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ were written when we were 16, and in high school, whereas the songs on ‘Wonder/Wander’ were written when we were finishing college. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the difference!

The band have performed hundreds of live shows across the US. How is it overall, for you all, playing on stage?

GREG: I love it! Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

CHARLIE: Playing on stage is incredibly liberating. I love the reciprocal nature of casting our energy into the crowd, and feeling theirs come back to us, which makes it super enjoyable for everyone, especially since I’ve been working particularly hard on my voice these past couple of years, so it makes it more enjoyable when my voice isn’t completely shot at the end of the set, as it used to be.

STEPHAN: Our live shows are something we’ve spent countless hours on for years. I honestly feel like you can never know if you really like us or not until you’ve seen us live. That’s when you can make your decision.

MIKE: There’s absolutely no better feeling like playing music and sharing your thoughts and emotions for a room full of people who are there specifically with the intention of listening to what you have to say, and want to share in an experience with you.

And you have also played at the South By Southwest festival, as well as supporting New Jersey EDM/pop trio Cash Cash on multiple occasions. How were they as experiences?

CHARLIE: Driving to Texas for South By Southwest is something I’ll never forget, just from the excitement of being on the open road with your closest friends, and when we got there, the energy of the whole festival was so alive, as there was so much music, talent, and incredible people that we met.

It’s been years since we’ve played with Cash Cash, and it’s really awesome to see how far they’ve come, even back then, they were writing incredibly catchy and well-produced songs, so we were honoured to share the stage with them even then.

GREG: Pretty sick, to say the least. Cash Cash were a completely different band back then, and I’m glad they were able to change and adapt to the industry, and make that hit song the other year. I’m happy for them!

MIKE: Travelling to Texas for SXSW was by far one of the coolest travelling experiences I’ve ever had. The environment was nothing but fun, and we had an extremely awesome time venturing around Austin as a band.

STEPHAN: I was sick with the flu when we played SXSW, but I still played my heart out. Rock n’ roll, am I right? I’ll never forget that one! (laughs)

And finally, album aside, what are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

GREG: Besides the album, we definitely want to get back to playing some shows, we’ve just gotta wait for the right opportunity, and for enough music to be out.

CHARLIE: After the initial release, we’re just hoping we can get as many people to hear it as possible. From there, we’d love to play some east coast shows and use demographics to see where people are listening the most, so we can play where the people would come to see us!

MIKE: Playing shows, without a doubt.

STEPHAN: Alongside playing shows, I think it’ll finally be the perfect time for Here’s To You to finally star in our own sitcom. Look out 2020!!

THE FIRST PART OF HERE’S TO YOU’S SECOND ALBUM. ‘WONDER/WANDER’, WILL BE RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 15, AND ONE OF THE TRACKS FROM THAT, ‘BURNING ALIVE’, WILL COME OUT ON JANUARY 18.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

ALBANY

Albany band photo

ALBANY (from l-r): Jim De Ath (rhythm guitar), Chris Fletcher (bass), Matt Duke (vocals/lead guitar), Dan Sharratt (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

In recent years, some have questioned why there have been no bands to establish themselves, in a big way, on the British indie-rock scene.

One outfit determined to see that change are Lincoln four-piece Albany, who have generated much buzz and excitement within their genre with a powerful, rough-edged sound, drawn from a broad range of influences, coupled with lyrical content dealing with life in general.

The quartet’s frontman, Matt Duke, spoke to me recently about their journey so far, how 2018 has gone for them, and what they hope to achieve in the near future.

How did the band form?

It all started in 2008, around The Enemy years, and it was a three-piece semi-acoustic thing we had going on in Coventry, but this disbanded after a couple of years, and I kind of slipped into a hiatus from music.

However, after three years, my best mate who was the bass player in Coventry got engaged and asked me to play a 45-minute live set at his wedding reception.

At the time, obviously I didn’t have a band, so I literally had a year to find some musicians and decide on a set, but I’d been out of the game for a bit, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off, but I advertised online, and the first person that got back to me was Chris, the current bass player.

We started rehearsing, along with a load of other randoms I pulled together, the set went great, and it went from there really. During those rehearsals, I’d been toying with the idea of getting the band back together because I’d found I was a lot better than I was at uni, so it kind of gave me a bit of a spark to do something with or try; so I asked Chris if he’d be interested, which he obviously was, he knew a drummer, we got together, banged out a couple of songs I’d written for the old band, which sounded incredible, and after a couple of months or so, we found a rhythm guitarist, and after an overhaul last year with another axe man, here we are today. The rest is history.

How did the name Albany come about?

It’s named after a pub and a road in Coventry, close to where I used to live. At the time, in 2007, there were a lot of bands called “The” something…..so I wanted just one word that was clear, simple, effective, AND something a crowd could chant easily when we’re about to blow their heads off live.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Just wait for them to happen. You can’t force it, I can’t anyway, it’s just how I learnt, and sometimes, it’ll be a month before anything comes, but it’s always worth the wait, so I just don’t chase it too much.

If I sit down and try and MAKE myself write a song, nine times out of 10, it won’t happen, and therefore, it’s a waste of time, and to the frustration of the others, it doesn’t work in rehearsals either. They’re desperate to come up with something together, but my head just doesn’t work like that.

I’m an average musician at best, and to come up with something on the spot, it would have to be a massive stroke of luck. We get intros and outros for our show easily, but song-wise, they have to wait, but most of the time, it’ll come to me out of the blue; whether I’m driving, or at work, or, to my girlfriend’s annoyance, in the middle of the night; she has been known to lose her temper at 3am, but when songs like ‘Kingpin’ get written, I wouldn’t change it, but wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, I’ve got to get it down on my phone, otherwise I’ll forget it.

From there, I’ll go find it on the guitar, tweak it, and get the music down pretty quickly, but yeah, a lot of people at work think I’m bat crazy, as they’ll walk into the toilet, and I’m sat there in the corner singing into my phone.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Life. Literally.

Relationships, love, heartbreak, getting stuck in queues, people annoying me, whatever happens or is happening at that time, it tends to get written about, but this is all down to what I’ve said from day one; all great songs tell a story, and that’s because, in one way or another, people can relate to them somehow, and so they have more appeal, but again, it’s like the music, there has to be something going on in my life to inspire the song, otherwise I’d be writing about old women in a jacuzzi, and nobody wants to hear about that.

One of the EARLY songs we did was called ‘Push It In’….get your head round that! Clearly, that never even made it to rehearsal.

You all have a passion to resurrect the anthemic British guitar appeal. Why do you think that has declined in recent years?

Lack of inspiration, I think. I think the last 10 years has been dire, guitar-wise, and it’s annoying because every decade has always had something or someone big defining it.

Back in around 2004/2005, there was a new wave of guitar bands after the 90’s thing, The Killers, Kasabian, The Libertines, The Enemy, Razorlight, etc…that was great. I call it “jingly jangly” indie, but when it was time for the next “big thing” indie-wise to make a noise, around two or three years, there was hardly anything, and I think that’s why all the big bands are either still going or are getting back together and becoming bigger than ever in 2018, because there’s still a huge want and need for it.

See, I adore the internet, socials, YouTube, all of it, but it’s Catch-22, because it has ruined the industry, and more to the point, has made it harder for bands like us to be acknowledged, which adds to the fact that the industry is boring because the same shit just keeps churning out.

Nowadays, it seems to be more about how much traction you get on Instagram than the actual music, but I guess it will change, as everything comes full circle eventually, and hopefully, we’ll be the ones to get the ball rolling. It’d be nice.

At the start of 2018, the band signed to the UK’s largest independent indie label, SoundHub Records. How did that come about?

They found us, I guess through our socials, and said they loved us and wanted to get involved, as it was up their street, and they wanted to help make the next EP, so we talked, gave them a live showcase of, I think, three songs…. and no word of a lie, they said it was “one of the best showcases they’ve had“, and last year, we released anything we did independently, so we needed the right people behind this one to make it worthwhile, and they know their stuff, they’re bang on, and our kind of people as well, so as anything goes when you click with someone, it was pretty easy.

And I can imagine you were all feeling good when you signed the contract with them.

Well yeah, because someone was finally listening. I had been writing for three years, as a band we’d finally found our sound, and at gigs, especially local ones, we were going down a storm, so from our point of view, it was, “Right now, we’re talking! Someone gets it…AND we don’t have to start singing about getting drunk in a Lego house to get noticed“.

Recently, the band brought out a new single, entitled ‘Kingpin’. How was the recording process for that?

A lot of fun. See, we do things the wrong way round, in my eyes, but it’s great at the same time, because it lets us have a bit of room for playing around with it.

I’ve always seen it as, you write a song, work it out, record it, and then when it comes to rehearsals, work out a live version for gigs, but we work backwards, and I guess that’s how a lot of bands that need to fund themselves are… because we always end up playing the song live for however long before it even makes the studio!

Therefore, a lot of times, we end up with two versions of songs. ‘Kingpin’ didn’t change structure-wise, the magic with that came with the guys at Soundhub, their input to it, and what they added to it…and the other tracks too, which all sound incredible, but working this way, I guess, gives us the best of both worlds and the fans too, because it lets us have a choice as to how to play a song live….and that’s how you keep things interesting…it’s like a relationship….keep changing it up, keep them on their toes, make things exciting, don’t become predictable, and you’re onto a winner.

How has the reaction been to the track so far?

Mega, and from our fans and the people that follow us, really, really good. I mean they had been lucky enough to hear it live a couple of times before we went into the studio with it, and we’re quite lucky in the sense that a lot of people that come to most of our gigs do come and talk to us afterwards, if they can, and if they’re talking about a song; they either love it, it’s okay, or they’re not keen. They say how it is, and I click with that.

With this one, people who have messaged us have said that they have put it on loop,  and they can’t get enough.

I mean, I knew the moment I got the hook, “Can you see it now?” that it was gonna be a banger, but how it has turned out, we couldn’t be happier, to be fair, and with a couple of changes that were made in the studio when we came to playing it as a band, it came to be what it is, which was an in-your-face, straight-to-the-point, driven indie rock belter.

And will ‘Kingpin’ eventually lead to a third EP, or debut album release?

See, we thought we were doing a third EP, but the guys at SoundHub suggested we recorded three singles and released them all separately, so that’s what we did, and it kind of made sense because rather than releasing it all in one go like we have in the past, riding the wave, and then it’s all over, with this, we could light a fire with ‘Kingpin’, and then as and when we could, keep stoking it with the next one and the next one, get a bit of long-term momentum going, but this song’s big enough to keep itself burning for a few months yet…and then we’ll hit it with another. It’s all mapped out.

This year, you played at Camden Rocks, as well as embarking on an enthusiastically-received 10-date UK tour. How were they as experiences?

We’ve had a great summer, yeah. Loved it. We played 2Q in Lincoln, we headlined The Platform at The Engine Shed as part of This Feeling, Joefest, which is a well-known local festival that we opened up on the BBC Introducing stage for, we played the British Superbikes at Cadwell Park, which was a hot messy one, and yeah, Camden Rocks.

It’s all been great, but Camden was massive for us. We were all twitching for that, I mean we’ve played London before a few times, at The Fiddlers Elbow, but Camden Rocks felt like a step forward for the band, because we were on the bill with other well-known bands, bands that we are fans of, and the reaction we got drove us to keep going; we packed the venue out, the crowd were bouncing to every song in our half-hour set, and the festival’s asked us back next year.

I mean, to me, that speaks for itself, there are people out there that want it.

And how is it overall, for the band, performing live?

It’s why we do it. No better feeling, especially at festivals and big stages, as you get to see the whites in people’s eyes! Rehearsals can be a ball ache, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because we all work full-time, and by the time we get there, we’re all knackered….and sometimes we don’t get anywhere because of it, but it’s all worth it, especially when you’ve got a string of dates in front of you.

What are your plans for the near future?

We’ve got our last gig of the year on November 30 in Lincoln at The Rogue Saint, and after that, I’m going to sit in a dark room for a week, and get my head down for a bit.

I’ve got three or four songs that are massive, so we’ll be laying them down throughout December, get through Christmas, and then it all starts again.

I can’t give much away, because not everything is confirmed yet, but we’ve got a busy year ahead.

And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?

To rescue indie rock, I guess, and to give the people back what they want, and hopefully inspire a few of them along the way? I don’t know. We’re just taking every moment as it comes, every opportunity as it comes, and making waves where we play, to as many places as possible, if not for anyone else, giving ourselves a bit of hope that guitar music is still alive.

There’s no quirks or confusion with us, it is what it is, and we love what we do; we just need a leg up, and with a bit of luck, the best case scenario, by the time our thing’s gone full circle, will hopefully be us riding our own wave, in the middle of the sea, on a yacht.

Albany band logo

‘KINGPIN’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM ALBANY, IS AVAILABLE NOW, VIA SOUNDHUB RECORDS.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

YOUTUBE