Tag Archives: Metal

CONFESSIONS OF A TRAITOR

Confessions Of A Traitor band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From LondonConfessions Of A Traitor are a five-piece who specialise in a metalcore/hardcore sound containing melodic elements, coupled with emotive lyrical content that is an exploration of the lighter side of human existence.

Following the release of two EPs, both to an overwhelmingly positive response, the band have just brought out their debut album – entitled ‘Guided‘ – and to speak to me about this, and much more, was the quintet’s frontman Stephen MacConville.

How did the band initially form?

We found each other on a website called Join My Band, and initially, I formed the band with Jack and Tony. We began to just play lots of shows wherever we could, and whenever we were offered a show, and our motto then, and now, is if we aim to give it our all, whether we’re playing in front of three or 3,000 people.

After we had begun to establish ourselves, Seb came on board when we needed to find a new permanent drummer, and a year later, Jacob joined us after our old guitarist Dom decided to step down.

How did the name Confessions Of A Traitor come about?

The name comes from the idea of redemption, that any actions of yours that have had a negative impact on another can be made right by admitting it and facing up to your mistakes, and this has been an ethos of ours, to always find the positivity out of any negative situation.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Bands.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We all write our own parts, but it’s a team effort. We generally start with the guitar parts, then we will move on to the bass and drums. A lot of the music we write we will perform live before the recording is done, just to see how it will land, after that, we make a few tweaks, and then head to the studio.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I write very honestly and positively about subjects that have affected myself and the people around me, as there is a lot of negativity in our scene, with a focus on the “sad boi” writing style. I want to talk about similar subjects, but we preach the message of belief, self-love, and how we can overcome adversity by connecting with people.

We champion the phrase “Aggressive Music For Positive People“, the fact that you can achieve anything you can set your mind to.

Having brought out two positively-received EPs – 2014’s ‘Seasons’, and 2016’s ‘Illuminate’ – you have just released ‘Guided’, your debut album. How has the recording process been for that?

It’s taken a long time, as we got caught up in touring the two EPs, which has taken us all over Europe and Russia, which is crazy to think.

The album was the most rewarding and intensive thing we have done, but spending a month in the studio recording it made us hate all the songs, so we decided to take a few weeks before listening to them again, and we are so happy with how it has come out, and we’re even more excited to see how it lands with people.

And how will the album differ stylistically to the EPs?

We have tried a lot of different sounds and styles in the songs, adding spoken word and more clean sections. We have written some of the heaviest songs we have ever written, and also some of the lightest.

We have built on the EPs, and feel that the album is a true progression of what we released previously.

The band have performed at venues and festivals across much of the UK, including Camden Rocks and Hop Fest, and have supported the likes of Crazy Town, Hacktivist, and Our Hollow, Our Home. How were they all as experiences?

We have had some truly amazing experiences. Camden Rocks was definitely one of the craziest, as it was held all over Camden, and the buzz over that weekend was just mad.

We are lucky in the UK to have such great, talented musicians like Our Hollow, Our Home and Hacktivist, and it’s an honour to have played with them, and also to call them friends.

We have found most success playing abroad with bands such as Architects, Caliban, and Upon A Burning Body, and we have played festivals in Romania and Ukraine with the likes of Bullet For My Valentine and In Flames, and it’s mind-blowing to think we have been able to share stages with bands we have been listening to since we were kids.

And how is it playing live overall?

It’s why we write music, and it’s also why we are in a band. Our live shows are highly-energetic, and it’s always great to see people’s faces when we play.

And lastly, album aside, what are your plans for the near future?

Tour, tour, tour!

Confessions Of A Traitor Album Cover

‘GUIDED’ – THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM CONFESSIONS OF A TRAITOR – IS AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH SLIPTRICK RECORDS, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND HERE:

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THIS IS TURIN

This Is Turin band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Comprising of vocalist Darryl “Daz” Jones, guitarists Anthony Hayden and Davey Langford, bassist James Kinnear, and drummer Ben Adcroft, Cheshire five-piece This Is Turin‘s sound may be described as “blackened tech-metal“, however, the band do not believe in staying within the confines of a specific genre, preferring to surprise their fan base with an unpredictable sonic approach.

Prior to the quintet’s set at the recent Derby Alt Fest, the collective spoke to me about such things as their recently-released single ‘Wrath‘, next EP – coming out in the new year – and intense, award-winning live performances.

How did the band initially get together?

DARRYL “DAZ” JONES (vocals): It was probably around 15 years ago, when me and Hayden realised there were no metal bands in their local area, and it was a time before social media, and if you wanted to go and hear new metal, you had to go and watch bands at local gigs, so we decided to set a band up, and 15 years later, here we are, chatting to you in a van.

How did the name This Is Turin come about?

JAMES KINNEAR (bass): Me and Daz finished practice one night, got home, had a few beers, and we were both watching Most Haunted with Yvette Fielding and Derek Acorah, and it was an episode based in the Italian city of Turin, which had the tagline “This is Hell. This is Turin“, which we referenced in ‘Rev 23:1‘, a track from our debut album.

DAZ: It was about this elected official from there, and his first port of call was to rid the city of evil spirits, so he actually employed three exorcists, and that pretty much summed up the band itself, as we are dark and thematic, and our lyrics are steeped in religion and that side of things, although some of our fans still don’t know that Turin is a city in Italy! (laughs)

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

JAMES: We’re old-school jammers. We just stick ourselves in a practice room, near to where we live, and bash around ideas until we come up with something we all like, and then we move forward from there. We tend to do the music first, then we hand over to Daz, who writes the lyrics.

DAZ: We’re rather old-school in our approach, I think.

JAMES: To be honest with us, it’s the best way to do it. It does take a bit longer, but we come out of it with a better finished product.

DAVEY LANGFORD (guitar): There’s always this possibility that it will produce magic moments in a way that we wouldn’t be able to get if we were relying on software and stuff. It’s just those little moments where everything seems to click. It’s basically how we do it.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DAZ: I like to think that the lyrics can be interpreted as a number of things by different people, but definitely, the overall theme is the questioning of humanity. Some of that is religious, some of that is spiritual, whatever it may be, but yeah, it’s trying to battle demons, and venting that on stage in a constructive manner.

You recently released a new single – entitled ‘Wrath’. How was the recording process for that?

DAZ: Amazing, actually. We record everything in the same place – Foxhound Studios – each time, so the producer really knows how to push our buttons, he knows how to get the best out of us, and to be fair, because we practice in the same room, we prepare so hard for recording, so the process goes swimmingly, because we already have it nailed when we get in there.

We knew exactly what we wanted tone-wise, and we were really impressed with how it turned out, as it was the sound we were looking for.

JAMES: Yeah. It was a weird thing to write, because the previous couple of singles we’d done were a bit different, when you compare it to ‘When God Bleeds‘, and with ‘Wrath‘, we wanted to move our sound in a new direction, and then when we got the finished product, we went, “Yeah, this is where we want to go now“.

DAZ: It’s a bit different, as well, as since when ‘When God Bleeds‘ came out, there has been a member change. Ben has been our drummer for a couple of years now, so we wanted to utilise his skills, as he’s such a blistering drummer, what I think we’ve managed to showcase well in ‘Wrath‘.

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

DAZ: Really solid. Off the back of that, we’ve managed to secure some of the gigs that we’ve wanted with different types of bands than who we’ve played with in the past. If you listen to the likes of ‘Thrones‘ – which has always been really popular – and the end bit of that EP, there’s been a really nice progression, so yeah, the track has gone down really well, and now, it’s about planning for the next stage, and what we do next.

The band have a good reputation for intense live performances, which you even got an award for from Kerrang! a few years back. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?

DAVEY: I think harking back to what Daz was saying earlier, with the way he vents personal things through the lyrics, for me personally, it’s a way of blowing off steam, it’s a real cathartic experience.

Ordinarily, I’m pretty quite, I’m not a very outgoing person, unless I’ve had a couple of pints, but doesn’t everyone? I think, for me, being on stage enables me to really lose myself, which I think everyone in their own unique way does, whether it’s just focusing on playing, or just interacting with the audience, or just giving people that experience. I think the show is key for us.

DAZ: I’m known as a fairly positive guy, but when it comes to getting on stage with This Is Turin, something different happens to me, and it’s my chance to let that darker side – which I don’t like to show often – out, and I’ve always made it my number one priority to perform well live, and to do it professionally.

You have also appeared at festivals such as Bloodstock and Tech Fest, and you also supported Slayer once, didn’t you?

DAZ: Yeah, we’ve played on a load of massive bills in the past, and we’ve played with everyone, from 36 CrazyFists and InMe, through to Chesney Hawkes.

Chesney Hawkes? How on earth did that come about?

DAZ: Actually, it was after we got the award from Kerrang!, and they had invited us to play this festival with Chesney Hawkes and Slade. We might have been a bit different, as I don’t think the people there really knew how to take us, but there’s one thing I can always say, we’re the one and only. (All laugh)

DAVEY: How long have you been waiting to say that, Daz?

DAZ: Years.

(All laugh)

JAMES: I think going from that, to playing with Slayer and Joey Jordison, and supporting Decapitated and Soulfly, for us, it’s crazy to get that kind of recognition.

DAZ: It’s why we do it.

JAMES: But it’s those moments that make what we do so special.

DAZ: Bloodstock was special, as I think we played to a crowd of 3,000 in a packed-out tent, and beforehand, we thought we were going to struggle because our set clashed with another band, so that was a special moment for us, and I see that as just the beginning, as I’m sure more moments like that will come along.

And lastly, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

DAZ: We’ve been working hard on writing some new songs, and we’ve got some more bits going on, but at the moment, our focus is purely on writing. We’re going to be doing an EP next January – we’re pretty much 70% there now – there are going to be a few cheeky guest appearances on that, and then the plan after that is to do a couple of tours and festivals, but the EP will be our next step, and we can’t wait to get it done, to be fair.

ANTHONY HAYDEN (guitar): The EP will essentially be the first half of the seven deadly sins, which we’ve already wrote a few songs around, ‘Wrath‘ being one of them, which along with two other tracks, will form the EP, and then there will be another four songs, which will make another EP at some point, so that’s the project we’re working on.

JAMES: I think it’s been tough writing around a concept.

DAZ: It has.

JAMES: It’s really the first time where we’ve all thought, “Let’s push the boat out, and let’s also try to work to the constraints of the concept“, and it’s given us the chance to work out different styles and themes.

ANTHONY: I don’t want to give too much away, but with stuff like ‘Wrath‘, it is aggressive. It pictures exactly how it would look sonically, but when you’ve got things like ‘Lust‘ or ‘Greed‘, you think, “How the fuck do you get that sound into the lyrics?

DAVEY: The feel, for us, is the most important thing. It’s got to evoke an emotion or a certain thought, and trying to nail that down the best you can, and I personally think we’ve done something that is so special, and what we can be proud of.

This Is Turin Single Cover

‘WRATH’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM THIS IS TURIN – AND THE BAND’S NEXT EP WILL BE RELEASED NEXT JANUARY.

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DEATH REMAINS

Death Remains band photo 2019

DEATH REMAINS (from l-r): Marc Yacas (guitar), Kris Larson (drums), Barry O’Connor (vocals), Si Sheppard (bass), Eljay Lambert (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by JANSON BULPIN of BEYOND THE NOISE PHOTOGRAPHY

From London, Death Remains are a metal five-piece who have had their fair share of setbacks in the years they have been together, however, each time, the band have risen above them with an optimistic view on life that becomes clear with lyrical content that is relatable to many.

Just before the quintet’s set at the recent Derby Alt Fest, they chatted to me about how these past events have shaped them, playing live, their latest single – entitled ‘Peace In Misery‘ – and much more.

How did the band initially get together?

BARRY O’CONNOR (vocals): Me and two school friends at the time – it was around 2005 – we formed what was the first version of the band, which was then called Something Other Than Death, which was a terrible name, and then a few years later, the name changed to After Death, which was another terrible name. When we got our first record deal, we managed to get a six-week tour in Brazil, and two of our guys drowned out there.

After that, when we came back to the UK, we took six months off, obviously to grieve and sort everything out, and then we came up with the name Death Remains, which was a play on the whole thing, and we decided to continue with the band. (pause) Pretty deep, that was, wasn’t it? (laughs)

So that’s how the name came about.

BARRY: Yes, as it was After Death before all of that, but we had also received an e-mail from a band in California of the same name who were complaining, and they were pushing us to get our name changed, and shit.

After the tragedy that happened, we found some design ideas that Leon – one of the guys who had passed away – had done, and one of them said “Death Remains“, so we thought the name was very fitting.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

BARRY: I’d say I was very much early 2000’s American metalcore, like Killswitch Engage, and then obviously going into stuff like the Deftones and Funeral For A Friend, so it makes for a nice little mixture.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

BARRY: It’s always changing, right, especially now, so before, we would go into a practice room, one of the boys would come in with an idea for a riff, and then we would just build around it, and as time’s gone on, obviously technology has come on, and we started to track stuff down, and working around it that way, so that is what we seem to be doing now, and it’s working. We’re not quite as free, as we’re between albums now.

SI SHEPPARD (bass): Usually, I just play to click or like a drum machine, then add some riffs to it, and then I will time it out, see if it’s keeping to the structures and timings, and we’ll all then get naked, and have a wonderful time! (All laugh)

You have just brought out a new single – entitled ‘Peace In Misery’. How was the recording process for that?

BARRY: It was cool. We recorded with Meyrick De La Fuente, who is the vocalist for Exist Immortal, and a really cool dude. We actually did our last album with him, and that had gone really well, so we decided to do a couple of more singles, of which we’ve dropped one of so far, with another one coming out in the next three, four months or so, and then we’ll be gearing up for the next album.

And how does the new track differ stylistically to the band’s previous work?

BARRY: I think it’s a progression. I think we know our sound a lot better now, and what we want to do with it, as everything we’ve done over the years has been a learning curve, which has now all come together, and I definitely think we’ve made a progression.

You recently completed a UK tour with The Five Hundred. How did that go

ELJAY LAMBERT (guitar): It was good, man. Those guys are great, and it was great to go out on the fucking road with them.

BARRY: And they’re professional. I wouldn’t say all of the guys, but they’ve travelled around a bit, they’ve done quite a few tours themselves, so everything just went seamlessly, as everyone was there to do a job and also enjoy themselves. It was much better than say, going on a tour with a bunch of 18 year-old kids who just want to fuck about.

And how is the experience – for the band – of playing live on stage?

ELJAY: It’s the best part of it, really.

BARRY: It’s a lot of driving and sitting around, but when you finally get on stage, you can just let loose, you know.

ELJAY: It’s a good way of burning off some energy.

BARRY: Yep, almost have a heart attack. (Eljay laughs)

You’ve performed at festivals such as Camden Rocks and Hop Fest, and you’ve supported the likes of Exist Immortal and TheCityIsOurs. How were they as experiences?

BARRY: Great. We’ve done some really big things in the past, we toured with Sepultura, which was a massive learning experience for us, because we played some huge venues on that tour, so yeah, we’re always learning.

We also got picked up by a big agency group, so it hit us all really fast, as it was around the same time we brought out our debut album, ‘Stand. Fight. Believe.‘, Stuart Gili-Ross of Gallows became our manager, and we got picked up by In At The Deep End Records, a pretty well-established UK label.

It was a lot to take in, and we were really grateful for the opportunities that came from them, but moving forward, we will be more than ready for the next opportunity, as we feel more comfortable as a unit now.

You said earlier that the band are currently working on a new album.

BARRY: Yeah, we’re working on it. We currently have six to eight tracks in the works, so we’re just looking to carry on with them.

Do you know yet when the album will be released?

BARRY: Depends on the other boys, really.

ELJAY: We’ve still got the second single to come out, so that should give us some more writing time.

BARRY: At the moment, we reckon it will be out around the middle of next year, but as much as we want to get it out faster, we don’t want to rush anything. For our last album, ‘Destroy/Rebuild‘, we got four K‘s from Kerrang!, so let’s get five with this one, yeah? (All laugh) That’s how you’ve got to look at it.

Death Remains Single Cover

‘PEACE IN MISERY’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM DEATH REMAINS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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PENDULUMS FALL

Pendulums Fall band photo

PENDULUMS FALL (from l-r): Adam Neilson (drums), Harry Blanchard (rhythm guitar), Lauren March (vocals), Tom Offiler (lead guitar), Oscar Gutkowski (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by SAM WHITEMORE

Since forming in 2016, five-piece Pendulums Fall have firmly established themselves on the rock and metal scene of their home city of Nottingham with an alluring combination of poppy vocals, modern rock, and alternative metal, drawn from a diverse range of musical influences, and after the band’s set at the Derby Alt Fest recently, they chatted with me about their origins, influences, songwriting approach, releases, and much more.

How did the band initially get together?

TOM OFFILER (lead guitar): We started at a college in Nottingham, called Clarendon, where me and Harry were on a music course with Lauren. We had a lack of drummers on our course, so we had to search for one in the other realms of the college, and there, we came across Adam. We started jamming from there, and we’ve been going for about three or four years now.

How did the name Pendulums Fall come about?

ADAM NEILSON (drums): It was originally a side project of my brother-in-law’s, which didn’t really work out well, but it had had a bit of a following, so I thought, “We might as well keep the name, be that guy, and just work at it“, and the name just stuck. It doesn’t really have a meaning or anything, it sounds spacey, and that’s it. (All laugh)

What are the band’s main musical influences?

TOM: I think it would better if we all just named a couple of bands, as it’s a mix-and-match of so many different things. Currently, for me, it’s Promethium, and Modern Day Babylon.

ADAM: For me, it’s more Avenged Sevenfold, and TesseracT.

OSCAR GUTKOWSKI (bass): For me, to keep it relevant to the band, I would say Mastodon and stuff.

HARRY BLANCHARD (rhythm guitar): Jinjer is quite a big band for me, but there’s honestly too many to name.

ADAM: Lauren doesn’t really listen to a lot of metal, she’s more into pop, which I think is why a lot of our songs have a poppy feel to them.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

ADAM: It’s usually kind of a collaborative thing. We will go to our practice space, rehearsal space, whatever, someone will tend to have an idea for a riff, and we build from that, basically. The riff tends to be the main hook of the song.

TOM: Someone will then add a chorus part that happens to fit perfectly.

ADAM: It’s by chance, really.

TOM: It’s whatever kind of fits, and I know I’m such a diva when it comes to song structures, because if it doesn’t make sense, then I’m not playing it. (laughs)

What inspires the band lyrically?

ADAM: I think Lauren – who is the main lyricist in the band – writes whatever comes into her head.

OSCAR: Sexual frustration.

ADAM: Yeah, sexual frustration. Thank God she’s not here, because she would probably have hit us! (laughs)

We have a song called ‘In The Dark‘, and the verses in that are done in Bulgarian. The song is actually about waiting for someone in the dark, and basically doing things with them. The first song we ever did was about sex, so there seems to be a running theme there (laughs)

We do try to write about more serious stuff, but then it doesn’t happen, therefore, we resort of themes of sex (laughs) However, we don’t make it too obvious.

Last year, you brought out your debut album, and earlier this year, you released a single – entitled ‘My Serenity’. How were the reactions to them for you all personally?

HARRY: With the first album, we were actually a little bit disappointed with, because if you listen to the stuff we do now, in comparison to then, we have kind of evolved into a totally different band, and a lot of the production and stuff on the first album was disappointing to us, so going into ‘My Serenity‘, we felt that we had more focus, and there was better production overall.

TOM: The riffs are a lot better, as well.

HARRY: Yeah.

TOM: I would say when we wrote our first album, we were experimenting more with the sound, rather than just sticking to something, as we were opening ourselves up to all sorts of different ideas.

ADAM: It was definitely a learning curve for us. We originally started on six-string guitars, and then we thought, “Why don’t we get some seven-string guitars instead?“, so Tom and Harry had to end up getting seven-string guitars.

TOM: I think when we went to seven strings, it gave us a better sound, as Lauren’s tone suits better to the lower tunes. We did try to write some stuff with six strings, as well, for the newer stuff, but we thought that seven strings was better overall.

ADAM: It seems to have made the sound more bouncy and intense.

OSCAR: I would say it was more of a modern prog-metalcore fusion.

The band have just performed a set here in Derby. How is the live experience for you all?

TOM: It was a really nice stage set-up, and I really liked playing at The Hairy Dog.

ADAM: In terms of the sound on stage, to be honest, it could have been a little bit better, but the venue was generally top class. The smoke machine was wicked, and we couldn’t fault the stage size.

It was good, but I think this is where having more experience, such as having an ear monitor, would have benefited, but I do like the refurb they’ve done on it, as the stage is a million times better than what it was.

OSCAR: Yeah, it was pretty good. Being a bassist, it doesn’t really matter if you’re heard or not. (All laugh)

For the most part, the lighting was really good, the use of the smoke machine provided an ambience to the softer parts of our songs, which worked well for our stage presence and that, and it also helped the chemistry between us as well, so all in all, it was a pretty decent set.

And lastly, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

ADAM: We’ve recorded two songs – ‘My Serenity‘, and then ‘Do What You Like‘, which was the second song in our set earlier, and hopefully, we’ll be bringing out a video soon, then we’ll probably get some more artwork done, T-shirt designs done, but I think next year, we’re going to be focusing on doing some more recording, getting things out internet-wise, do some more live shows. The idea of a cover has been hanging about, but Oscar

OSCAR: I’m very spectical about doing covers.

ADAM: With him, they either have to be spot-on, or we simply don’t bother doing one, so yeah, those are our plans at the moment.

Pendulums Fall Single Cover

‘MY SERENITY’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM PENDULUMS FALL – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DERBY ALT FEST 2019 PREVIEW

Derby Alt Fest 2019 poster

by ZAK SLOMAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, they might actually, who knows?

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

 

 

 

 

 

HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate band photo

HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE (from l-r): Mark Gatland (bass/keyboards/additional guitars/co-producer), Malcolm Galloway (vocals/guitar/keyboards/producer)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Over the last couple of years, London duo (occasionally trio) Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate have won much acclaim for a truly eclectic sound which incorporates genres such as rock, metal, folk, classical, and electronica, intelligent, thought-provoking lyrical content that tackles such subjects as the Second World War and science-fiction, and passionate, charismatic live performances.

Having recently released a three-track EP – entitled ‘Ark‘ – and currently putting together a much-anticipated fifth album – the two-piece has an in-depth and informative chat with me.

How did the band initially form?

MALCOLM GALLOWAY (vocals/guitar/keyboards/producer): Mark and I have been playing together since we were at school a long time ago, but then I got distracted by becoming a neuropathologist.

Music has always been extremely important to me, but it was only after singing a couple of songs at a hospital pantomime that I started seriously exploring the possibility of performing again.

It started as local open-mic performances, either solo, or with my wife, flautist Kathryn Thomas, then it built from there. Mark came along to some of these, and so, we went back to making music together.

How did the name Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate come about?

MALCOLM: It’s from a silly image I had in my head of Victorian gentlemen throwing their hats in the air, and crying “Huzzah!” about something being average.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting? 

MALCOLM: It varies between songs and albums, but generally, I prefer to have a theme or story for the album quite early on. Many of the songs have a lyrical fragment as a starting point, which suggests a melodic shape, and the song evolves from there.

MARK GATLAND (bass/keyboards/additional guitars/co-producer): I will generally get hold of the main body of the song from Malcolm, and then I’ll add all of my bits to it, depending on what it needs. Sometimes, things will get tracked, but not always be used in the final version, but there’s always a couple of choices we can use.

However, if I think I can’t add anything to a song, then I won’t record any parts for it, a case in point being our cover of ‘She Moved Through The Fair‘, which was all Malcolm.

After that, it’s a case of refining various mixes until we’re both happy with the final result.

What inspires the band lyrically?

MALCOLM: The lyrical themes of our releases have so far been – invisible disabilities (inspired by my experiences with the genetic connective tissue disease Ehlers-Danos Syndrome), artificial intelligence, evolution, memory, and history.

Many of our songs have been inspired by the work of science-fiction writers, including Philip K. Dick, Ann Leckie, and on our next album, Alastair Reynolds.

You recently unveiled a new three-track EP – entitled ‘Ark’. How did the initial idea for that come about?

MALCOLM: My grandfather was a telegraphist/air-gunner in a Swordfish bi-plane squadron on the Ark Royal, and was involved in the historically significant sinking of the Bismark, which was the most powerful ship in the German navy in the Second World War, and the track was inspired by his experiences.

And how has the response been to the release up to now?

MARK: The response has been really positive. The reviewers all seem to pick up on the story arc of ‘Ark‘, and what is going on in the different sections of it. Also, the fact that we’ve put three stylistically different tracks on the EP has gone down really well, as it reflects our breadth of influences (well, some of them!)

I’ve read that the band are currently recording their fifth album. How has that been so far?

MARK: Most, if not all, of the instrument tracking has been done, and now, we’re finishing off replacing guide vocals, adding bits and bots here and there, and then mixing and mastering.

MALCOLM: The overall theme of the new album is existential threats to civilisation. We’ve got a suite of tracks inspired by novels by Alastair Reynolds, two of which are set in his Century Rain world, in which a clone of the planet, and the people on it, are threatened by a nanotechnological weapon, there are others relating to his Revelation Space universe, in which humanity is threatened by an alien intelligence machine, and we’ve also got a song about self-replicating medical nanobots forming tumours (nanobotomas) following one of my story ideas.

Ark‘ reflects the threats to our civilisation from racist ideologies, and the debut we owe to those who risked everything to fight against the Nazis, and we’ve also got an instrumental following the space probe Voyager, which may be travelling through space long after our civilisation has disappeared.

Also, we have got a song, ‘Six Extinctions‘, which is about our history as a species, surviving five previous global mass extinction events, and now potentially being on the brink of being the cause of the sixth.

Do you currently have a release date set for it?

MARK: We’re looking towards the end of this year/beginning of next, I think. The EP gives a flavour of what to expect.

And how will the album differ stylistically to your previous work?

MALCOLM: As with our previous albums, there is a wide diversity of styles between and within the songs. There are elements of progressive rock, metal, classical, and electronic music on the album. We like to include a mix of songs with lyrics and instrumental tracks.

The band have performed well-received live sets at venues and festivals across much of the UK. How is the experience of playing on stage for you all?

MARK: Playing live, for me, is where it all comes together, especially when you play a venue with great sound, so the whole show just feels effortless, and you lose yourself in the moment.

It also gives us the chance to get out and meet the people who listen to and buy our music, and also meet new bands, and we’ve seen some cracking bands at festivals we’ve performed at, some of whom we’ve put on ourselves at the gigs we organise.

MALCOLM: We both love live performance, and I like how every show is unique – the response from the audience, the venue, whatever else is going on life, all feeds into the performance, and because we know each other so well musically, we are able to be quite spontaneous.

You also regularly put on gigs for charities, which have included Save The Children and Marie Curie Cancer Care. Do you personally believe that established bands and artists are doing enough for good causes?

MARK: I think there are plenty of artists who do an awful lot for good causes, a lot of whom don’t even make it public that they do. It’s up to you as an artist whether you want to get involved or not, but even bands at our level can make a difference. We’re all in it together, after all…

And lastly, album aside, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

MARK: I would love to get the opportunity to do some European gigs and spread our wings a bit more, and talks about album number six will happen between us sooner rather than later, I’m sure!

‘ARK’ – THE LATEST EP FROM HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE – IS AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH GLASS CASTLE RECORDINGS, AND THE BAND’S FIFTH ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

FURTHER INFO ON HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

YOUTUBE

 

QUELLA

Quella band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Comprising of vocalist Stef, guitarist Bean, bassist Lee, and drummer Adam, Quella are a four-piece from London who have used a diverse range of musical influences and tastes to create an intriguing yet accessible combination of progressive punk and progressive metal.

Having brought out a well-received debut EP – entitled ‘Fantasticshen!‘ – last year, the band will be releasing follow-up ‘Donor Fatigue‘ this November, and they recently had an in-depth chat with me about all of this and a host of other Quella-related topics.

How did the band first get together?

BEAN (guitar): To be completely honest, Quella is a chapter in a long story that can be traced back for decades. The band as it is now emerged from the ashes of another project that Stef and I were involved in, a significant difference being, for Quella, me making the switch from drums to guitar, learning as I went.

Our early sessions were pretty chaotic. We wrote and perpetually re-wrote our material, seemingly destined to remain in the practice room, and we were our own audience.

Lee came on board two years ago. I have known him since we were at school, and we had played in a band together throughout our teens, and his contribution has been monumental, as he has essentially pulled back the elastic to catapult us into a forward direction. We’ve been trying to ride the momentum ever since!

How did the name Quella come about?

BEAN: Like many bands, we spent as much time trying to think of a name, as we did trying to create a body of material. It can be hard coming up with something that gives away a little bit of what we are about, but not too much, basically something that creates curiosity. For a while, we were known as Tantalus Bloom!

STEF (vocals): I had been looking at a list of the most unpopular girl’s names in the world for a character I was generating, and Quella appeared on it. When we looked at the origin of the word, it transpires that it’s an Old English world for “to crush, to repress, to indeed quell“, so she chose us, really.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

BEAN: If I had to fit it all under an umbrella, then I would have to say guitar music, punk, metal, and rock n’ roll, but even saying that feels restrictive, as we just want to capture the energy and excitement of life, and push it back out into the universe.

Personally, I’ve always admired bands who aren’t led by trends or the limitations of a genre, for example, Fugazi are a band who just completely did their own thing, and as a result, their music is full of integrity.

We also enjoy a good melody, songs you can sing, and it’s not all a jarring punk thrash with us, because we do appreciate a good Alice In Chains-esque harmony, too.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

BEAN: Initially, it’s all about spontaneity, and VERY little is prepared in advance, so we just go into a room and press “GO!“, and once we’ve fattened up something we could call a verse and a chorus, we’ll then embellish it with melodies until it becomes a song.

LEE (bass): Generally, Bean comes to rehearsal with a twinkle in his eye, and a fat riff in his pocket, and says nothing before plugging in and blowing our minds.

Adam and I will then fill out the rhythm, and then the three of us will see where it flows. We then send off the resulting mayhem to Stef, who seems to magically hear something quite opposed to what we had envisaged, and transforms it into a beautifully bizarre melodic frenzy, which I then dollop some harmonies on before serving.

What inspires the band lyrically?

STEF: Genuine emotion expressed by either friends, enemies, strangers, or a combination of all three. We aren’t too long in the tooth to have forgotten that a punk song should, almost by definition, express more than just a heart’s desire.

Influences in construction can range from the whimsy of Vivian Stanshall, the styling of Big Heath, to wholesale unashamed eavesdropping.

LEE: It’s both hilarious and frightening having the lyrics unveiled, as on this new EP alone, I’m singing with Stef about a zombie Kylie Minogue, aviophobia, picnics on war graves, and of course, a hobble-di-hoy, therefore, there’s a wonderful and surprising experience with every song!

Recently, you unveiled a new single – entitled ‘Smalltown Eiderdown’. How has the response been to it so far?

BEAN: It’s been excellent, as straight away, people can hear that it’s a big step forward for us in terms of production and presentation, and the comments I’ve had have been generally along the lines of, “I’ve always thought you guys were good…but this is GOOD!“, and I share their enthusiasm, as I feel really proud of this song, and all of the recordings we made in the session.

LEE: It’s growing all the time, as ever, for a band that’s not yet fully established, it can be difficult to get folk to take the time out to check out an unknown song, and I love seeing their eyes widen as they do.

And the track was taken from the band’s second EP, ‘Donor Fatigue’, coming out this November. How has the recording process for that been?

STEF: We’re no strangers to the studio, so we came in well-drilled. We’ve always wanted that rarely-achieved marriage of live action and studio refinement, and by trying to reproduce a more real world environment to record in, as opposed to a largely digital one, we feel we managed it, especially with Lewis Johns at the helm, and the facilities at Ranch Studios in Southampton.

That’s not to belittle our previous efforts, or the talented engineers that helped us, but ‘Donor Fatigue‘ really bristles with intent, which is what we all wanted to show.

BEAN: Recording ‘Donor Fatigue‘ was an absolute pleasure, and much of the credit for that can be directed at Lewis, as his keen ear, patient approach, and high standards really brought out the best in us.

ADAM (drums): I’ve always been a very loose player, so drum-wise, it was a very gruelling process getting the parts down cleanly, and in time, but Lewis‘s patience and foresight gave us an end result which is far better than any of us were expecting.

Also, how will your upcoming release differ stylistically to last year’s debut EP, ‘Fantastischen!’?

BEAN: It is much the same stylistically, but from a production standpoint, ‘Donor Fatigue‘ is a much richer-sounding recording.

We went into this with a much stronger idea of how we wanted it to sound, and we felt much more confident expressing this to Lewis, who really understood the brief and got behind it, helping us to achieve the sound we wanted.

We were just testing the waters really with ‘Fantastischen!‘, but it all makes for an important learning curve, and one that I hope we will continue to use.

The band have performed at venues across London, and have also supported the likes of Black Orchid Empire and Gold Key. How were they as experiences?

LEE: We’ve been very lucky to have played with some fantastic bands over the last couple of years. The show with Black Orchid Empire and Gold Key was definitely one of my faves, as there were also many great bands playing that day, such as Frauds and As Everything Unfolds, so it made for a great mix of styles!

BEAN: It’s great. I have nothing but respects for all of the bands on our scene – or any scene, for that matter – sharing their songs, and treading the boards. It’s something I’m proud to be involved with, and I’m also happy we can hold our own among some talented company.

STEF: Playing live means different things to each one of us, but we all value it highly, and supporting bands of whatever genre, but of undoubted pedigree, can only raise our game.

Also, how is it – for the band – playing live overall?

BEAN: It can be a bit seat-of-the-pants, but we always play with enthusiasm, and that makes for a good show, as far as I’m concerned. We genuinely believe in what we do, and we think it’s worth sharing, and I hope that comes across in our performances.

LEE: I adore playing live, as to me, that’s the main draw of being in any band. When you have that moment where it all comes together on stage, and you watch the faces of those in the audience who are “getting it“, it’s something else!

And lastly, what are your plans for after the release of ‘Donor Fatigue’?

STEF: We are already busy writing the follow-up, as we are back with Lewis, unless we’ve ruined his career! (laughs)

BEAN: More shows, more songs, then we’ll do it all over again, but hopefully with a few more ears pointed in our direction.

LEE: I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next myself, and that’s the beauty of being in this band, as you have no idea where the songs are going to go, and it’s a wonderful process seeing them develop…and to see what Stef is going to have me singing about next!

Quella EP Cover

‘DONOR FATIGUE’ – THE SECOND EP FROM QUELLA – WILL BE RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 22, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE