Tag Archives: Indie

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

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THE SUNSET RADIO

The Sunset Radio band photo

THE SUNSET RADIO (from l-r): Rob Scarr (drums), Aaron “Az” Lees (bass), Adam Maw (vocals/guitar), Ricki Hutton (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by MALCOLM BRYCE

From North Yorkshire, The Sunset Radio are a four-piece specialising in an anthemic, melodic indie-rock sound, including elements of punk and pop, and delivered at breakneck speed.

Having last year released two positively-received singles, it seems the emerging outfit have struck gold once again with their latest track, ‘Old Goodbyes’, and they chatted to me about this, as well as a whole range of band-related topics.

How did the band get together?

The band got together through a couple of friends jamming together on acoustic guitars. Az and Adam had a few of these over some beers, then decided to invite Ricki along, and then we made the decision to start a band.

The issue was that we come from a small town in Yorkshire called Selby and there isn’t even that many people there who are into rock music, let alone people who play drums!

We then went on the hunt for a capable drummer, and went through something that more closely resembled a comedy sketch than an actual band.

The search included a drummer who moved away after learning a couple of our songs to work on the oil rigs, a drummer who moved to Poland after learning all the songs, a drummer who learnt all the songs then decided it wasn’t for him, and a man who turned up to a practice sat behind the drum kit and was hit with the realisation that he couldn’t actually play the drums, which was like turning up for a driving test without having any lessons.

Anyway, we finally came across Rob around 18 months later, thanks to him working with Adam, and the line-up was finally completed.

From where did the name The Sunset Radio originate?

The name was one that was a working title for about as long as our search for a drummer, but we had decided early on that we wanted to be called The “Something” Radio.

We then had it narrowed down to every two syllable word in the English language for what the middle word should actually be.

One drunken night, with time running out to make a decision on what that word should be, we finally settled on Sunset, unfortunately none of us remember the reason why the next morning, but we woke up and had a band name.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Each of us have a different set of influences that we all draw upon when bringing our sound together. Adam would point to bands like The Beatles and The Clash as big influences, Az is a massive fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rob is a fan of Jack White, and Ricki is into heavier bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Enter Shikari.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

So far, the formula has been that Adam has written either a full or half a song on the acoustic guitar, which he will bring to the rest of the band, and from there, we will work out what bits to add where, in order to make the song more suited to a full band performance.

This approach has seen us come across some that we aren’t initially sure on as being our favourites, and ones that seemed great initially, but ended up not quite working.

Recently, the band unveiled a new track, entitled ‘Old Goodbyes’. How was the recording process for that?

The recording process itself was pretty chilled out, as we got it done over a couple of days at a studio in Wakefield. The main issue, however, was battling through the snow earlier in the year down some winding country roads to actually get to the studio!

And how has the reaction been to the single so far?

The reaction to the single so far has been very positive. It is a great one to perform live, and the crowds have really been getting into it.

Will ‘Old Goodbyes’ eventually lead to an EP/album release?

We will be hoping to release an EP at some point next year. Everything we do is a learning curve.

We are from a small working-class town with no interest in rock music, we don’t have rich families to just plough money into this for us like a lot of other bands do, and we are having to support this all ourselves, as well as balance full-time jobs.

That means that progress for us might be slower for us than other bands who can just throw money at it, but we will keep going.

Everything we have done so far has come from a couple of friends just playing guitars over a few beers, we started this journey with no connections to anyone who could help us out in terms of booking gigs, recording a song, or releasing one, so next time round, we will be more experienced and ready to reach an even bigger audience.

How, for you all, is the experience of playing live?

Playing live is what it is all about for us. Our first show came about because our friends were desperate to see us play live, as none of them had ever seen us in bands before, and we made sure that for our first show, we would blow them away.

We think they were all expecting and kind of hoping we would be crap so they could take the piss out of us, but we weren’t! A long way from it too, as we were pretty fucking good for a first ever gig.

Now, we have got the bug for playing live, and we just want to keep playing bigger and better shows.

What are the band’s plans for the near future?

For the rest of this year, we are going to try and promote the ‘Old Goodbyes’ single and music video through a combination of getting it out into blog reviews, Spotify playlists, and by playing it live.

We have our first show in London lined up for the 1st September, and then we return to Yorkshire to play the Sounds of Summer festival at the Leopard in Doncaster on 28th September.

After that, we play Verve in Leeds on 5th October, and we are looking to add more gigs for the rest of the year, and that should be something that will be announced soon.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

The long-term aim for the band over the next couple of years is to get ourselves out there to more people, and also get to know the right people in order for us to get bookings on inner city festivals such as Tramlines in Sheffield or Humber Street Sesh in Hull, as these will give us the best chance to increase our fan base, and to play bigger and better shows.

The Sunset Radio Single Cover

‘OLD GOODBYES’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM THE SUNSET RADIO, IS OUT NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MERRYM’N

Merrym'n photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Singer-songwriter Bob Moston, under the moniker Merrym’n, produces a well-crafted brand of acoustic pop that is proudly 100% DIY, and includes lyrical content that focuses on Bob’s home city of Stoke-on-Trent, its post-industrial decline, and some of the big characters that populate that area.

With this, he has received much praise, and has also quickly become a well-respected figure on the Potteries music scene.

Having recently brought out a single, entitled ‘He Built A Cinema’, which is the perfect showcase for his talents, and with plenty more stuff to come, I chatted to Bob, and the following is what he had to say to me:

What was your first musical experience?

I was lucky to have two grandads who brought a lot of music into my life as a kid. One, Bill, would always be singing old war songs and daft numbers like ‘There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly’. The other, Bob, had swing records on all the time – Sinatra, Martin and the like, and growing up with these made music an important part of my life from the start.

How did you come to the realisation that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician?

I don’t! Merrym’n is a hobby, not something I’m actually trying to turn into a living. I do it because I have to… I’ve been in bands, writing songs since my mid-teens, and it has become an integral part of my character and well-being. I put a lot of time into the project, but through obsession rather than necessity.

From where did the name Merrym’n originate?

I did a bit of travelling with friends at uni and, being a group of friends, spent a large proportion of that time ridiculing and tormenting one another.

The geographical leader of our group, the mastermind behind our moves, would march us through cities at any hour of the day: we’d joke that he was Robin Hood and we were his Merry Men… but, as we were at uni in Lancaster, we’d pronounce it Merrym’n.

Since then, it’s been a reminder of a great time. I also like the use of the apostrophe, creating authenticity in the accent. It’s got character.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I listen to people. My lyrics often come from somebody telling me about something and I note down sentiments and turns of phrase. After that, I play about on a nylon-stringed guitar, picking out a melody, and then it tends to come together from there.

You sing predominantly about your home city of Stoke-on-Trent, its post-industrial decline, and some of the big characters that populate the area. Was that something you planned from the start, or did you come into that more by accident?

I didn’t plan on focusing the songwriting on Stoke-on-Trent, no, but I did intend, from the start, on writing things true to my own experience… so I guess that means that the city I live in will have a big influence.

I also find the place fascinating, beautiful, ugly, funny, tragic, inspiring… you know. It’s a good source of ideas.

And being a regular fixture on the contemporary music scene in the Potteries, what is your opinion of it?

There’s a lot of quality original music in and around this city. It’s an ever-growing and improving scene with audiences getting bigger and better at shows too. It is a shame, however, how many miss out on what’s on their doorstep. I’ve been very fortunate this year to have had so many good gigs in interesting places.

So far, you have brought out two EPs and three albums, the most recent being last year’s ‘Life On VHS’, and all to much praise. Were you rather taken aback by the overwhelmingly positive response, especially in regards to your first release?

Yeah, definitely. I record, mix and master all my music at home… without any training or expensive gear… so it’s ace that it has been received so well. I love making it, so I’m dead chuffed that people enjoy listening to it.

How is the experience, for yourself personally, of performing on stage?

It’s a great escape for me. I can get into character, get lost in the song, and really enjoy myself. With not playing in a band, I can adjust the songs to my mood and the context and audience. I also like that I have upwards of 30 songs which I can use however I feel.

The live performance element, especially when there’s a good crowd, is the best part of Merrym’n.

What are your plans for the near future?

I’ll be releasing a new video on August 24, I have a brand new song (a collaboration with Droma Records) in the can for October time, and I’m over halfway through writing a new album, which I’ll hit record on in the new year.

On the side of this, I’m also starting to write about music (and football), which is something I’ve toyed with for a while.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

International fame, Christmas number one, and a guitar-shaped swimming pool. Or, to just carry on enjoying myself and seeing what comes. I like the opportunities and experiences original music can bring. More of those, cheers!

‘HE BUILT A CINEMA’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM MERRYM’N, IS OUT NOW.

FURTHER INFO CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

DELIGHTS

Delights band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Despite the fact that all four of the band members are only 17 and fresh out of college, fledgling quartet Delights have already built up a devoted following in their home city, and the north-west of England, with an indie-rock sound that is familiar and inspired by the likes of the Stone Roses, The Smiths, and Kula Shaker, yet fresh and modern.

In addition to this, the Manchester collective have also brought out a self-titled debut EP, and embarked on a mini UK tour in April.

Now, having unveiled a new single, entitled ‘Naked Heart’, the band spoke to me about what has been an incredible first year for them, as well as what their future aims are.

How did the band form?

We all went to college together, and three of the current band members were in a previous band, and when that ended, we just told Leo to learn the drums, and here we are a year or so later.

How did the name Delights come about?

It’s a pretty dull story, but when we started the band we tried to think of names – we were on the bus home from college one day, and Leo said “the lights“, meaning the street lights (we were kind of at the point of just shouting random things we could see out of the window as potential band names), and Ben misheard him as saying “delights“, and it just kind of stuck.

Ironically now, when people ask us what the band’s called, they usually mishear us as saying The Lights.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

One of us comes up with an idea, usually a riff or something, then at practice, we just mess around with it, each chip in some ideas, and we’ll go from there. We tend to write the song first, then Maxwell will go and write lyrics/melody once we’ve already written the instrumental parts.

What inspires the band lyrically?

When Maxwell writes lyrics, he doesn’t always think of it as a story, but he comes up with hooks and catchy phrases for the verses and choruses to make them more memorable. It also leaves the songs open to interpretation, rather than force-feeding the audience an obvious storyline, to make it seem more personal to them.

Recently, you brought out a single, ‘Naked Heart’, following on from the release of your self-titled debut EP late last year. How were the reactions to them for you personally?

We got a lot of support when we first released the EP, because it came out pretty quickly after we formed the band, and it was self-recorded and produced, so we think people appreciated that.

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about ‘Naked Heart’ as well, and we think people can see that we’ve developed since the EP, which means a lot to us because we feel ‘Naked Heart’ is much more mature in terms of the songwriting, and was a more creative process when we were at the studio, which we really enjoyed.

In April, the band embarked on a mini UK tour. How was that as an experience for you all?

We really enjoyed it. It was such a good experience to have, and we met a load of quality bands from all over, and we’d got our set a lot tighter by the end of it – we’re really grateful for it. It was nice to get support from other cities too.

And how is it, overall, playing live?

It’s the most fun part about being in a band, and having fans turn up who know the songs means a lot, even if we’re playing to a half-empty room.

What are your plans for the near future?

We’ve got a few songs that are already recorded or that we are in the process of recording, and we’re keen to get them out as soon as possible. We’ve also all just finished college, and are going to be taking some time out next year to graft at the band and get as many gigs in as possible.

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

As long as we can keep recording our tunes and playing gigs, we’re happy. We want to play as many gigs as we can, to as many people as possible, and just get about.

We had a little taste of that on our mini-tour, and we think that’s really encouraged us, so that this is something we want to keep doing for as long as we can, and to get as big as we can.

Delights Single Cover

‘NAKED HEART’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM DELIGHTS, IS OUT NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

WILDFIRES

Wildfires band photo

WILDFIRES (from l-r): Nathan Brookes (bass), Poppy-Jo Chester (vocals/keyboards), Si James (drums), Ste Darling (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Spanning from legendary outfits such as The Smiths and Oasis, to the likes of The 1975 and Blossoms more recently, the city of Manchester can boast of having a rich indie music heritage, and one band eager to join those esteemed ranks are emerging four-piece WILDFIRES.

Since forming last year, the collective have been hard at work perfecting a sound that has so far led to three very well-received singles, favourable comparisons to such outfits as The XX, Bombay Bicycle Club, and The Cardigans, as well as becoming tipped for bigger and better things by much of the underground music press.

Fresh from the successes of latest track, ‘Stuff’, and their set at the recent YNot Festival in Derbyshire, the four-piece had a chat with me, and the following is what they had to say:

How did the band form?

We actually all met on a sort-of dating website for bands…we each wanted to meet up with different musicians and jam.

Although we all knew we wanted a band to be the final outcome – we don’t think any of us realised how bad until we had all actually met and started playing together regularly.

Things just started falling into place, as we all clicked instantly, and it felt like we had known each other for years. Shortly afterwards, our goals all became the exact same – get our music heard, and here we are!

From where did the name WILDFIRES originate?

We wish there was a really cool story for this…but we’d been messing around with names for a stupid amount of time, and it was actually just becoming really frustrating – we could hardly decide what pub we wanted to drink in, never mind picking an eternal name that would represent us and our music.

After months of heated debates, Poppy-Jo just happened to be listening to a band called SBTRKT, in which one of her favourite vocalists, Yukimi Nagano (from an outfit called Little Dragon) features on a track.

If you know which one we’re one about, then you’ll know it was ‘Wildfire’, so add an ‘s’, stick it all in caps (to be indie), and you get WILDFIRES.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

When there’s a few of you in a band, all with extremely varied musical tastes, influences pull from absolutely everywhere, and this can either be a really, really good thing (fusing sounds and different genres we like to create music), or can turn out to be a bit too experimental, which is why our jam sessions can be very entertaining (or unproductive) to say the least!

We’re mainly influenced by bands such as The XX, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Vampire Weekend, and have often been compared to the likes of The Sundays and The Cardigans.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

Anything but structure! We don’t think we’ve ever written a song where we’ve walked into a practice going, “Today, we are going to write a song!”, because every time we do that, without fail, we all get instant writer’s block.

All of our songs are written by one of us just playing a simple riff, or maybe a drum beat, someone will join in, and then someone else will also join in, and before we know it, Poppy’s singing lyrics made up on the spot. Boom! A song! (albeit it is all over the place with absolutely no structure, but it’s a start!)

What inspires the band lyrically?

We can’t take any credit for lyrics – that’s all down to Poppy. Nathan might come up with a catchy hook-line now and again, but Poppy is the poet there. She really sticks to her Manchester roots, and is heavily influenced by her favourite lyricists: Guy Garvey and Ian Brown.

If you listen carefully, Poppy’s entire life is within her lyrics, whilst still being vague enough for anyone and everyone to relate.

So far, you have brought out three singles, all to high praise. How have you all personally found the response?

We definitely didn’t expect it to be this well-received. Of course, we’re miles off where we want to be, and we still have a long way to go – but every day we’re getting some kind of recognition, whether it be being played on the local radio stations like Salford City Radio, to BBC Introducing.

Every time someone listens to our songs, or even just reads our name, it’s an achievement.

The band have played at some of Manchester’s top underground music venues, including Night & Day and Band On The Wall. How is the experience, for you all, of performing live?

Performing is our most favourite thing about this. Playing our music to a crowd of people is a feeling that never gets old, and the buzz you get when you walk on stage – even for a small band like us – it’s something else.

At our most recent gigs, we’ve noticed that more people are recognising our songs and singing them back to us – and that is something we never thought we would witness! All we need now is an extra 20,000 people, and we’ll be set!

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

Just to be heard, as fame doesn’t drive us whatsoever. Music is really all that matters to us (and having fun, and having pints).

Wildfires Single Cover

‘STUFF’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM WILDFIRES, IS OUT NOW.

THE BAND WILL BE HEADLINING NIGHT PEOPLE IN MANCHESTER ON AUGUST 18, MORE DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

Wildfires gig poster

YOU CAN GET FURTHER INFO ON WILDFIRES THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

SLIPPERFACE

SlipperFace band photo

SLIPPERFACE (from l-r): Andy Ryder (bass), “Spike Lunch” (vocals/guitar), Ross Greenslade (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Hailing from the city of Chester in north-west England, SlipperFace are an emerging three-piece who pride themselves on being 100% DIY, and crafting a sound that they describe as “a swash of loud, quiet, noise and melody“.

Having played some well-received sets at intimate venues across their native region, as well as bringing out a debut single, ‘True Romance’, to much positive feedback, the band now have their sights set on further achievements, including performing as many gigs as possible, and putting together a first album.

Speaking to me about all this, in-depth, was the trio’s vocalist/guitarist, “Spike Lunch”.

How did the band form?

Ross and I were in a band many years ago, and shortly after that folded, I moved down south.

Eventually I returned to the North West, had a brief stint as a guitarist in a band that didn’t last that long, before feeling that the time had come to start something fresh.

I had wanted to be able to make music again with Ross ever since our first band folded, but the distance between us made that impossible. I had a few demo tracks that I’d recorded at home, and Ross liked them, so we carefully started to put the wheels in motion. Playing together again after such a long time felt very natural from the get-go.

The search for a bass player was a little harder than we had first imagined, but we found Andy via JoinMyBand.com and we knew by the end of our first rehearsal that we were on to a winner!

How did the name SlipperFace come about?

It’s a slightly long and boring story, but way back in the day, when Ross and I were in a previous band, we had been at Ross’s house drinking and jamming into the early hours of the morning.

We got hungry, so we went out to get some food, and one of us (I think it was me – it’s a bit hazy to be honest) went out wearing a dressing gown with a pair of slippers stuffed in the pockets and took on the name “Slipperface Two Jones“, and for some reason, it has always stuck in my head.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with our band name, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to change it, but we kept coming back to it, so it’s here to stay.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

A tough one to answer, but we have common ground in some 90’s grunge and alternative rock. I can’t speak for Andy and Ross in detail, but Andy is a huge punk fan, and if you were to cut Ross open, he’d bleed red, white and blue with a little arrow pointing off somewhere – he loves The Who.

For me, I cut my teeth on the guitar with listening to Nirvana and working out how to play their songs by ear. Moving on from that, I became excited by how Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo used their guitars, and that, for me, slowly started to open my mind to experimental music.

Ten years ago, I decided to buy a modular synthesizer and that took me down a rabbit hole into avant-garde electronics that has been very difficult to claw my way out of as there was a period of several years when I almost exclusively listened to and composed drones and aleatoric music – very little guitar. As a result, I find straight-up rock a little boring these days.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Songwriting for me is like automatic writing – I don’t think there’s any plan – I just start to move my hands around the guitar and if I like what I hear, I open my mouth and some words come out. It’s really rather primal as opposed to being intelligently led.

Having said that, it’s not easy, I need to be on my own and in the right frame of mind, and if I try to force it or steer it in a particular direction, it can quite quickly turn stale.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Because of the way I approach songwriting, it’s usually not until after a song has been completed and I’ve listened to it a few times that I start to pick out the meaning.

Recently, you released your debut single, ‘True Romance’. How was the recording process for that?

Recording has been a labour of love and 100% DIY. I’ve been collecting recording equipment for years and I have enough to record a full band live, so I thought it would be cool to record an album.

What we don’t have is any space to record a drum kit or a loud guitar amp in, it would have been quite easy to use programmed drums and amp sims, but I wanted to do it properly, so we did it bit-by-bit in three-hour sessions at the room we rehearse at, but by the time we had everything set up, we’d have maybe an hour-and-a-half at the most recording time before we needed to start packing up.

The way we recorded all the songs was very similar in that I’d work out a scratch track at home and make sure we were happy with the tempo and arrangements, we would then spend a session recording drums, a session or two recording guitars and bass, and a session recording vocals.

I then did the mixing in my own time and once I was close to finishing, I forwarded it to Andy and Ross for some feedback before finalising. I don’t have the luxury of spending ten hours straight in the studio mixing, and I find it difficult to know when to draw the line on a mix due to the fear of listening back at a later date and spotting an error or regretting a choice that I made, so mixing took much longer than I’d anticipated.

We prioritised ‘True Romance’ as we felt it was probably the most radio-friendly of all the tracks, and it had got to the point where we really needed to get something out there for people to listen to. We’re really hoping to have the album mixed by this autumn.

And how has the reaction been to the track so far?

So far, so good. It’s still early days, and we’re still working out how best to promote it, but the feedback on both the song and the video we shot for it has been positive.

The band have played some well-received sets at intimate venues, mainly across the north-west of England. How is the experience, for you all, of performing live?

We’ve played some cracking venues and met some great bands. We love playing live, that’s what it’s all about – songwriting and recording is fun, but the buzz from playing live is what we do it for, and it’s really nice when people come up to talk to you afterwards and tell you how much they’ve enjoyed it – in my mind, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

And now that the first single has come out, what’s on your agenda next?

To continue to get out there and play as much as possible, possibly get another single out before the album is released, and to keep chipping away behind the scenes.

SlipperFace Single Cover

‘TRUE ROMANCE’, THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM SLIPPERFACE, IS OUT NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

YOUTUBE

 

THUNDER CLUB

Thunder Club band photo

THUNDER CLUB (from l-r): John Burkhardt (drums), Dennis Chen (guitar), Garret Cusack (vocals), Conor Johnston (bass), Pete Burkhardt (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

An indie-rock five-piece from the American city of Baltimore, Thunder Club have a sound that is drawn from a wide range of musical influences, stems from a collective desire to keep things as simplistic as possible, and accurately reflects their youthful, energetic vibe.

With this, along with a lively stage presence, the band are firmly establishing themselves on their home city’s music scene, and have also gained a devoted following.

Having released their sophomore EP, ‘Summer Vice’, last month, the quintet spoke to me about that, the outfit’s journey so far, and much more.

How did the band form?

Thunder Club formed in the fall of 2015. Garrett, Dennis, Pete, and Conor had been in bands together growing up through middle and high school. John, who is Pete’s older brother, was asked to join the boys for a jam one night, and the rest is history!

How did the name Thunder Club come about?

We wish we had a sick story about how our name was created, but to be honest, it was a random occurrence while we were all sitting by the pool! We feel like it came to us, though, as Thunder Club definitely captures our energy and sound, and plus it’s super fun to say, who doesn’t love that?

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We all contribute as we don’t have a dedicated songwriter, which is pretty sweet. Most of our songs start while we’re together at rehearsal, mainly through jamming.

Generally speaking, though, we try to write songs that we’d enjoy listening to! Our aim is to not be stuck in a particular sound or genre, and to be as multi-faceted with the rock sound as possible.

What inspires the band lyrically?

With this second EP, ‘Summer Vice’, the theme is enjoying the moment while holding off the pressures of life during a period of transition. As we’re all in our mid-twenties, it’s definitely very real, as we’re all wondering what’s going to happen next!

Speaking of ‘Summer Vice’, which has just come out, how was the recording process for that?

Oh man, we had SO much fun recording this EP. We had the absolute pleasure of having the EP produced, engineered, and mixed by our good friend Evan Kornblum, and totally lucked out by tracking at STAGES in Baltimore, a world-class studio.

We were all super prepared, and the sessions were free-flowing and full of creative energy. We can’t wait to get back in there!

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

Music that makes you want to get up and dance! It’s only three songs, but there’s a lot of song there – each song is very different, and we think it’s a good representation of how multi-faceted our sound is. It’s upbeat, it’s intense, it’s pretty… It’s got it all.

Although we try not to be confined to our influences, fans of acts such as Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys will found our tunes equally familiar and new.

The band are from Baltimore. What is the current state of the city’s music scene?

Baltimore’s music scene is booming right now! We have this awesome wave of indie-rock artists that are currently making waves in the city.

On the other hand, you’ve got a progressive, independent scene that’s really exploding with club/hip-hop/rap influences that’s directly affected by recent events in the city. It’s a great time to be involved in Baltimore music.

In recent years, you have amassed a devoted following with a lively stage presence. How is the experience, for the band, of performing live?

It’s probably our collective favorite thing to do, ever! We LOVE playing live and we absolutely live for it.

We think our passion for our music really comes through on stage, pair that with the natural energy of our tunes, and you have the recipe for a rocking show. The crowd is always dancing and singing along, Thunder Club shows are awesome parties!

Now that ‘Summer Vice’ has been released, what are your plans for the near future?

Trying to get everyone and their mother to hear our songs! We really aim to play as many shows as possible while continuing to write songs. As it is, we already have four, five new songs that are in rotation in our live sets that haven’t been recorded yet. This train doesn’t stop!

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

Besides trying to spread our tunes to all corners of the world, and getting a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we just want as many people to listen to and believe in our songs as possible!

Thunder Club EP Cover

‘SUMMER VICE’, THE SECOND EP FROM THUNDER CLUB, IS OUT NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

SOUNDCLOUD