Tag Archives: Rock

BUNKERPOP

Bunkerpop band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Comprising of five talented musicians – Mark Blissenden, Carlos Macklin, Paul Sarel, Trevor Simpson, and Jonathan Wainberg – from the city of Hull, Bunkerpop draw from an eclectic range of musical influences to deliver a truly unique, diverse, mostly instrumental sound that leaves the listener free to make their own interpretation of it.

The band have been building up a devoted legion of followers over the past couple of years, initially in their home city, and now spreading across the UK, with this, as well as live performances that actively encourage audience participation.

Having recently brought out a self-titled debut album, the quintet spoke to me about what can be expected from it, as well as a lengthy recording process, which saw them work their fingers to the bone in order to produce the best possible release.

How did the band initially get together?

Bunkerpop came together in the spring of 2016 by a succession of flukes and accidents. We were originally practicing a David Bowie song in preparation for a tribute night to him at the Hull Adelphi, which Jonathan – our keyboard and synth player – had organised.

This led to a couple of new tunes squeaking out of his equipment, which we liked, and that then led to a hastily-arranged recruitment of mates to form a full band practice. The first tune we played all together was ‘Bunkerpop Theme‘, which is on our debut album.

How did the name Bunkerpop come about?

The name comes from a space at the place of work that Paul was working in. It was a windowless concrete room underneath the south stand of the KC Stadium (home of football club Hull City) with flickering strip lighting which caused twitchiness and mental health problems to all who worked there. We called it “The Bunker“.

This was coupled with the fact that Paul was playing a lot of tunes by an artist called Lonelady, who has an excellent tune called ‘Bunkerpop‘, so it seemed to fit the mood of the music too. It’s a terrific name.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We have a three-pronged approach to writing songs. Often, they will start with the five of us playing together at practice. Somebody starts, and the rest of us will then join in, which is sometimes very successful, and occasionally awful.

We are very good listeners, so we are kind to each other and nobody overplays, as we like to keep it simple. Other times, we’ll start from scratch in the studio and build a tune up that way, and then practice it for live performances.

We also combine the two approaches mentioned to come up with a third way, which is to record a live take, then splice it up, add things, take things away, and spew it out the other side.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Most of our tunes have no lyrics, but we do like to have a narrative of sorts running through them on recordings, with things like samples of dialogue or sound effects playing a big part in what we do and how we present ourselves.

Without actual lyrics, the songs are open for interpretation, and we trust the listener to have enough integrity to come up with their own thoughts and feelings.

With our debut album, we hope to capture a mood with each tune. We are quite an upbeat band, but we do have a darker, more cynical side which runs throughout it.

You recently brought out a new single, entitled ‘(Are You Ready) For Something’, to an overwhelmingly positive response. How have you been dealing with that?

The tune is a great track, so we knew it would get a positive response. It was one of the first to be finished for the album, so we had to sit on it for about a year before officially releasing it as a single, and we never got bored of it during that time, so we guess we knew it was a goer for a single.

Also, we made a brilliant video for it with our friends Mark Richardson and Anna Bean, who are both very talented. It only cost £18.80 to make, and it was all shot in around 90 minutes.

And the track was taken from the band’s recently-released first album. How was the recording process for it?

The basic live tracks were recorded over three sessions at Gorilla Studios and the Hull Adelphi. We got our friend Bob Wingfield to engineer and press record whilst the band basically played live.

We then took the recordings and worked, re-worked, and worked on them again, with some stuff being dumped altogether. We then did all that again and again for 12 months, adding extras such as the samples, overdubs and edits, with Mark – who plays percussion in the band – taking hours, days, and eventually months mixing, splicing, sliding, and perfecting until we were all happy with it.

We then had it mastered by Pete Maher – who has done mastering for The White Stripes and U2 – and he gave it a shiny finish. It’s a terrific record.

And for those who have yet to listen to the album, what can they expect?

So far, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback, and a lot of musicians like it. It’s a double album with three tunes on each side, but no numbered sides, as we didn’t want listeners to think which side is best.

Instead, they’re coloured sides which represent a mood, so the listener can choose a mood instead of an order. The sound is gorgeous on it, and there is a lot of space with very clean production, which is perfect for the tunes, as they’re mostly instrumental.

Our influences range from Kraftwerk, to Daft Punk, to Can. It’s groovy and strange, as you can dance to some sides, or you can chill out to others. Some of it is very pretty and nostalgic, whilst other parts are aggressive and fuming with the state of it all.

The band are from Hull. How is the contemporary music scene there?

There are a lot of good people doing great things in Hull, and most folks are more positive about the city nowadays after years of there being a lack of confidence.

Bunkerpop exist in a bit of a vacuum doing our own thing musically, but we’re appreciative of what is going on elsewhere. There seems to be a real vibe, and people are being braver in putting on bands and experimenting with different genres.

It’s healthy, and after visiting another major city in England only a few weeks ago, we have come to appreciate that we have a vibrant music, arts and creative scene going on in Hull. It’s a unique and brilliant place to live. It’s edgy, and it has its problems, but by jiminy, we love it.

How is the overall experience – for you all – of playing live?

The band are brilliant live. We adore playing live, it’s where it’s at for us all. We will not stand for mediocre, because why should anyone stand for that?

We are visually and sonically on another planet, which is perhaps the moon, or in a shuttle on the way to Mars, when we play live. The audience play a big part in any of our performances, and stage invasions are encouraged. We include the whole room in a performance, as there are no boundaries between us and the audience.

We have our uniforms, as we are a team, and we play together to create joy and happiness. Boom!

Now that the album has been released, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

We have just played the first couple of gigs of a summer tour. The gigs shall see us take our stage show to many other exciting places, including festivals and parties in such exotic places as Nottingham, Rugby, Hull, London, and Barrow-in-Furness.

We’ll be bringing the Bunkerpop dancers to some performances, and we also have a loyal following of friends and fans who often jump on the Bunkerbus to create chaos and joy at gigs.

We’re also continuing to push the album, which has already sold 50% of its first vinyl pressing, and we will also be bringing out a new video out soon, which has been made by our beautiful friend Mr Nicholas Broten of Fonda 500.

We may have a little rest in September, but we are planning another blast of gigs for this autumn, and then we will be moving onto the next batch of recordings. We are totally independent, and we do all of the bookings, promotion, artwork, recordings, social media, and organisation, so it’s pretty full on.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

I guess the long-term aim is to keep going, and to enjoy it as much as we can. We’d also like to be very rich, so we could concentrate all our efforts on this, but realistically, we’re happy to cover costs, get experiences, and meet incredible people.

We have already met smashing folks who are doing this for the love of it, such as Richard McKerron in Derby, Will and Jason in Nottingham, and the I’m Not From London record label, and it’s always great to see old friends too, like Jimi from Gigantic.

What really makes us happy is being creative and playing. We’ll be moving onto recording new stuff soon, as with the momentum we have, we can’t really afford to stand still.

This time next year, Del Boy

 

Bunkerpop band logo

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM BUNKERPOP IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DERANGE

Derange band photo

DERANGE (from l-r): Justas Brazdziunas (guitar), Joe Macpherson (bass), Cat Pereira (vocals), Joe Farrell (drums), Nick Crosby (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

In the autumn of 2015, London tech-metal collective Derange burst onto the scene with their debut album, ‘The Awakening‘, which appealed to fans and critics alike, with the likes of Metal Hammer and Powerplay Magazine giving it excellent reviews.

Since then, the band gave been building up their following further, with tours of the UK and continental Europe, appearances at festivals such as Bloodstock, and a string of well-received single releases.

Following a highly-energetic set to a packed crowd at The Devonshire Arms in Camden – as part of the recent Camden Rocks Festival – vocalist Cat Pereira and guitarist Justas Brazdziunas spoke to me about all of this and much more.

How did the band initially form?

CAT PEREIRA (vocals): The band initially formed while I was at university. I met Joe – our bassist – at a party, and he asked me if I would be interested in joining a band he was thinking of forming.

I replied, “Okay. Why not?“, and then I met Nick when he turned up to our first rehearsal, where I showed him a few ideas that me and Joe had come up with, which had been very badly recorded on my mobile, which he then transcribed, so I knew then that would be the right person to join the band, and Justas and Joe – our drummer – joined later.

JUSTAS BRAZDZIUNAS (guitar): I joined quite recently.

CAT: We already knew each other, as we were already good friends, so I knew that Justas was a great guitarist. We invited him to join us on tour last year, and we quickly realised that he was giving us that extra charge, so after the tour had finished, we made him a permanent member of the band, and that’s how our current line-up came about.

How did the name Derange come about?

CAT: It was completely random. In the summer of 2013, I was listening to a lot of nu-metal – bands like Rage Against The Machine and Linkin Park – and I would think, “I want to be in a band like that“, and then one day, I was listening to a track called ‘Deranged‘ by Coheed And Cambria, and afterwards, it kept coming back to me. Sometimes, people will call us Deranged, but it’s Derange.

JUSTAS: That’s why it helps to remember the name.

CAT: Yeah.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

CAT: Our songwriting approach usually starts off with Nick writing a cool riff, or having an idea for a verse or a chorus.

Usually, I will have lyrics at hand that I have written at other times, and I will suggest that we try them, so it usually starts just being me and Nick, and then when we’ve put together a melody, us and the rest of the band will jam it, and then one of the other members will come up with an idea or something, therefore, everyone in the band gets a chance to participate, and that’s the way the songwriting process works for us.

There’s none of this “something is better than the other“, as if something fails to work, it all fails.

What inspires the band lyrically?

CAT: It all depends on our approach, on how I’m feeling at the time. For our first album, ‘The Awakening‘, I was very much interested in the power of consciousness and spirituality, but I didn’t want it to focus entirely on me, because I wanted the lyrics to be of more general appeal, but recently, I have found that that doesn’t really work for me any more, as when the lyrics are more personal, I can get the emotion across much better.

I now write about that, as well as everyday things that happen, really, but I like to write about things that actually mean something.

‘The Awakening’ was released in the autumn of 2015 to very positive reviews. Honestly, was that something you were all expecting while recording it?

CAT: We knew that it was a good album, because it was written on a perception of the truth, but we have an even better album coming out soon, which we’ve been working very hard on.

However, we weren’t expecting ‘The Awakening‘ to get the response it did, which we got to fully experience when we played at Bloodstock the following year.

How was playing at Bloodstock as an experience?

CAT: It was amazing. When we were first told we were going to be playing at Bloodstock, we had no idea we would end up playing on the second stage, so that was awesome.

You earlier mentioned a new album. When are you thinking of getting that out by?

CAT: We’ve been working on the album for a while now, and we have actually released a couple of tracks from it already, but in regards to a release date, unfortunately, we can’t say at the moment. We’re not even going to reveal the album’s title yet.

The band have just performed a set at Camden Rocks. How is the experience – for you all – of playing live?

JUSTAS: It’s great, especially the set we’ve just played. It’s such an enjoyable experience.

CAT: We were genuinely surprised at the high turnout we had for our set, especially when it was at one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Camden Rocks is a great place to discover new bands.

JUSTAS: Yeah.

CAT: The bigger the crowd, the more energised we feel, so it creates a real buzz.

JUSTAS: It also makes you relax more, as there’s less pressure, therefore, we could play a really good set today, as we could see a lot of people who were watching and listening to us, and it gave us a very positive feeling.

And lastly, album aside, what have you got lined up for the near future?

CAT: We are going to be playing at Tech-Fest, we also have a tour lined up for this autumn, and we’re going to be releasing a few more singles, as the ones we have released from the new album so far have had great feedback.

We’re currently looking at getting the next track out in mid-July, so we’re not going to be having any rest from now on. (laughs)

Derange Single Cover

‘DIVIDE’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM DERANGE – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S SECOND ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS YEAR.

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

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THE CRUEL KNIVES

The Cruel Knives band photo

THE CRUEL KNIVES (from l-r): Al Junior (drums), Tom Harris (vocals), Sid Glover (guitar), Rob Ellershaw (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by HANNAH MEADOWS

Having formed out of the ashes of Heaven’s Basement, four-piece The Cruel Knives burst onto the scene in 2017 with their well-received debut EP, ‘Side One’, which showcased a fast-paced, aggressive, guitar-driven alternative rock sound.

This is also reflected in the band’s highly-energetic live sets, which has taken them to venues across the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe.

Prior to the collective’s recent set at the Camden Rocks Festival, I spoke to bassist Rob Ellershaw, and drummer Al Junior, about all of this, as well as their eagerly-anticipated follow-up release, ‘Side Two’, coming out later this year.

How did the band initially form?

ROB ELLERSHAW (bass): Me and Sid had been in a band together called Heaven’s Basement, which we did for quite a while, but then we decided to move forward from that.

We continued to jam with our old drummer for a bit, and Tom has actually supported us a couple of years before, and we also had the same producer as him, so we spent a year writing songs and seeing what was coming up, then when our old drummer couldn’t really do the band any more, Sid contacted Al – who he had been in a band with while they were growing up, and who me and Sid had known for about ten years – and asked him to be our new drummer, so it was an easy change to make.

However, Al officially joined only eight days before we were due to go on a European tour for three weeks, but he took to it well immediately.

AL JUNIOR (drums): And we’ve been in love with each other ever since. (Both laugh)

How did the name The Cruel Knives come about?

ROB: Naming a band – for us – is always such a horrible experience, so we just wanted a name that effectively mirrored our music.

We went back and forth on some themes for a bit, and I thought I had a limited vocabulary, but my sister reads a lot of books and that, and she gave me George Orwell‘s ‘Animal Farm‘ to read, which I quite liked, and about four pages in, there’s this quote which says, “No animal can escape a cruel knife in the end“, so I thought, “Let’s just rip that off“, and away we went! (Both laugh)

What are the band’s main musical influences?

AL: There’s so many different styles and genres of music that we’re influenced by. Personally – for me – I’m influenced by old-school bands like AC/DC, Motorhead, just the greats, really, but I think Rob‘s more influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

ROB: Yeah. When I first started playing bass, I was very much influenced by Rage Against The Machine.

AL: He doesn’t do any white boy rapping, though.

ROB: Yet.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

ROB: Less is more. What we have together seems to work really well, but there is this triple-filter system in terms of what we write.

If someone comes up with something, it’ll get knocked about, so there’s no designated songwriter, as basically, it’s kind of whoever has the idea, which we’ll then run with as a group, and then mould it into shape, so it’s quite a good system, really, as it controls the quality, and everyone manages to get at least some input, which is what we really like, as we then get different approaches and characteristics.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

ROB: Less is more. What we have together seems to work really well, but there is this triple-filter system in terms of what we write.

If someone comes up with something, it’ll get knocked about, so there’s no designated songwriter, as basically, it’s kind of whoever has the idea, which we’ll then run with as a group, and then mould it into shape, so it’s quite a good system, really, as it controls the quality, and everyone manages to get at least some input, which is what we really like, as we then get different approaches and characteristics.

Later this year, the band are going to be unveiling their second EP, ‘Side Two’. How has the recording process been for that?

ROB: It’s been awesome, actually, because with ‘Side One‘ – our first EP – we recorded it having all been together for only a month, and for most of that time, we had been on tour, so it was a perfect time stamp of where we were then, but with ‘Side Two‘, we’ve been able to better establish who we are, and what our identity is as a band, as soon as we went into the studio to start recording, instead of trying loads of different stuff, we just went in with one sound, and ran with that, so it was a more cohesive recording process.

AL: Yeah, ‘Side Two‘ is heavier, a bit lairier, but we worked on the songs and their structures more, rather than experimenting with our sound and stuff. We wanted to make sure that every track on that record was great, as well as being a truly collective piece of music.

ROB: It was done very quickly, as well. We did everything in about two days, so it was nice and easy, and enabled us the hit the ground running. It was a very positive experience, I think.

When are you hoping to get the EP out by?

ROB: It will be coming out towards the end of August, the 30th, actually.

AL: You can pre-order it now at our website.

The band have toured across the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe, and have also supported the likes of The Pretty Reckless. How were they as experiences?

ROB: Banging! We had a lairy time. At the start of our European tour, Al and Tom had only known each other for about five days, but with all of us being squashed together in a van, travelling across Europe, doing gig after gig, and waking up each morning in a new country, it was an epic experience, and it started us off on the right foot, I think.

You’ve also become known for putting on highly-energetic live sets. How is it – for the band overall – performing on stage?

ROB: It’s where it’s at, isn’t it? It’s where we feel the most comfortable. We love recording, we love writing songs and stuff, but really – for me personally – it’s all about playing on stage.

And lastly – EP aside – what are the band’s plans for the near future?

ROB: I’m going to invest in some livestock now the market has gone down. (Al laughs) Honestly, we’re looking at doing some more touring, as we’re still quite young as a band, in regards to playing live. I think we’ve only played around 35 shows so far, so now, we just want to do tour after tour over the next 18 months, and then we’ll go from there.

The Cruel Knives Single Cover

‘BLACK EYE FRIDAY’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM THE CRUEL KNIVES – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND ‘SIDE TWO’ – THEIR SECOND EP – WILL BE RELEASED ON AUGUST 30. YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT NOW AT THE BAND’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

FURTHER INFO ON THE CRUEL KNIVES CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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GOLD KEY

Gold Key band photo

GOLD KEY (from l-r): James Leach (bass), Jack Kenny (drums), Steve Sears (vocals/guitar), Laurent Barnard (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by CARLA MUNDY

Comprising of members of Gallows, SikTh, and Nervus, Gold Key acts as a space in which the four band members can embrace musical experimentation, as well as a broader range of influences.

Their 2017 debut album, ‘Hello, Phantom‘, was universally praised by critics and fans alike, and earned the quartet favourable comparisons to the likes of Pink Floyd, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Radiohead.

Following an impressive set at The Camden Assembly for the recent Camden Rocks Festival, I spoke to the collective’s vocalist/guitarist, Steve Sears, about all this and more.

How did the band initially form?

Laurent and I have known each other for years. We met on the DIY punk scene in our home town of Watford, and we’ve either played in each other’s bands, or supported each other travelling around on tour, but then we both realised that we wanted to do something that was out of our comfort zone, so we decided to start this new project, which then turned into this fully-fledged thing, and two albums in, we’re still loving it.

How did the name Gold Key come about?

Honestly, we just wanted something that was…I was more concerned with what it wouldn’t evoke, as I didn’t want anybody to think we were a heavy band. We wanted our music to be relatively neutral, which would provide a plain canvas to start with.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

It’s hard to say, you know. We are all massive fans of Pink Floyd, so I guess our sound is mostly our translation of that kind of music, which unfortunately – and I find it sad to say this – has been stolen by crap metal bands, so I would say what influences us are progressive rock bands.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Well, I’m lucky enough to own my own recording studio, so I sort of sit at home writing stuff, then I’ll send it around to the rest of the band, then we will begin to work out the chords and everything, but having said that, with our last album, we wanted to make a point of doing everything live, however, for the one that we’ve just recorded, we rented a cottage in Wales, and that resulted in a more organic process, so we’ve done it both ways, and now, we want to take a more organic approach toward songwriting.

What inspires the band lyrically?

To be honest, at the moment, we’re definitely drawing towards more cynical, negative subjects. There’s no particular reason for this, it’s just come about naturally, and there’s enough bands out there who just write songs about girls! (laughs)

You’ve all been in bands before. You were in Gallows, James was in SikTh, Jack was in Nervus, yet the music of Gold Key bears little resemblance to the sounds of those outfits. Would you agree with that?

Yeah, absolutely, and I think that’s the whole point of the band.

And was it a conscious decision to do that when you first started?

Well, if we were putting a song together, we wouldn’t stop doing it because we felt it sounded too much like Gallows, Nervus etc, but having said that, for me, the main drive of the band is to create an environment in which anything goes, where we can do something that we weren’t able to in the bands we were in before.

You’ve just played a set at Camden Rocks. How is the experience – for you all – of performing live?

It was great, the set we played just now. We hadn’t actually played a show for a while before today, so we were itching to play some new material, which we’re keen to get out. We still love doing it, as it keeps us on our toes, but we try to make our sets as simple as possible for the sound guys! (laughs)

Earlier, you mentioned that you’ve just finished recording a new album. How has the process been for that?

Well, we’ve been sitting on it for a while now, but the album has been delayed for numerous reasons, which I can’t really be bothered to go into right now, so now, we have songs to release, a whole new album ready to come out, so after this festival season, we’ll look at getting that out, and promote it with a few tours and stuff.

Earlier, you mentioned that you’ve just finished recording a new album. How has the process been for that?

Well, we’ve been sitting on it for a while now, but the album has been delayed for numerous reasons, which I can’t really be bothered to go into right now, so now, we have songs to release, a whole new album ready to come out, so after this festival season, we’ll look at getting that out, and promote it with a few tours and stuff.

Do you have a release date for the new album?

I really wish I could answer that question now, but I honestly don’t know at the moment. In the run-up to its release, we’ll be bringing out a few tracks from the album, which we should really have got out by now, but numerous things have happened, which is just life.

THE SECOND ALBUM FROM GOLD KEY WILL BE RELEASED SOON VIA VENN RECORDS.

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

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SOLENCE

Solence band photo

SOLENCE (from l-r): David Straaf (guitar), Markus Videsater (vocals), Johan Sward (keyboards), David Vikingsson (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Since meeting and forming while at high school in their native Sweden, four-piece Solence have all been on a journey that has taken them from teenagers playing cover versions of tracks by the likes of Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran, to young men who independently write, produce, and mix music that is a well-crafted, hard-hitting combination of electronic rock, metal, and pop, which has gained them a sizable following on both Spotify and YouTube.

With the quartet having recently unveiled a new single, ‘Empire Of The Sun‘, ahead of an eagerly-anticipated debut album release this autumn, I spoke to frontman Markus Videsater about all this and more.

How did the band initially form?

We initially formed when we all went to high school in a small city called Norrköping, which is about two hours from Stockholm.

How did the name Solence come about?

(laughs) Funny that you’re asking, actually, as we first had another name, In Reverence, which was back in 2011, I think, but there was this other band, from Stockholm, that had the same name, so we started competing against each other, trying to beat the other band in Facebook likes, and whoever had the most at a certain point would get to keep the name.

The fight for the name ultimately stopped when the other band filed a name patent, so we then changed our name to Solence, just because it sounded cool to us, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Avenged Sevenfold, In Flames, Dream Theater, Periphery, and basically every pop star for the last decade.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We all aim at the same thing, I would say. All of us try to write the best song possible, that at the same time feels energetic and original. We really love classic melodies and big choruses with dope and original productions.

What inspires the band lyrically?

For me as the main lyricist, I would say that I’m most inspired by personal feelings or things happening to me or people in my life. I love to write cool things that feel close to the heart.

You’ve just brought out a new single, ‘Empire Of The Sun’. How has the immediate reaction to that been?

Great! Our fan base is so amazing. We’re so lucky to have approximately 60,000 people subscribed to our YouTube channel, so every time we drop a new video, it has been crazy.

Also, Spotify has been really supportive putting it in playlists with about 500,000 followers in total, so that really helps.

And so far, the band’s tracks have had over 20 million streams across all platforms, with 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone. I can imagine that was something you weren’t anticipating when Solence started.

(laughs) You’re right! We just happen to be four guys who really love to make music together, and who are all driven – like I said before – to just write the best songs we possibly can.

The numbers are a bonus to us, but of course, we’re very happy to be able to do this on such a high level.

This autumn, you will be unveiling your debut album. How has the recording process for that been going?

It has been long, I would say! Everyone who’s been in a band probably knows how hard it is keeping four guys together and working on a project they’ve had since we were 16, but after years of other distractions, we’ve come back to this band fully committed, and it feels better than ever, and the album will really show the journey we’ve made both as musicians and as individuals.

And what can be expected from the album?

Hopefully a lot of happiness and headbanging!

The band have toured across their native Sweden and much of continental Europe. How is the experience – for you all – of playing live?

We’ve all been playing live in different constellations since we were very young – I think I was seven when I first started – so doing live shows now feels relaxed and fun, and it’s also the place we really can share the music with the fans and enjoy the hard work we’ve been putting into recording it.

What are your plans for the rest of 2019?

We’re going to finish off recording the album, bring out a few singles from it, and then release the album.

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

Honestly, we just want to deliver the best songs that we possibly can, as we’re really driven by the craft of songwriting and the power of a really well-written tune, but we also want the whole world to hear them…

Solence Single Cover

‘EMPIRE OF THE SUN’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM SOLENCE – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THEIR DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED THIS AUTUMN.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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SYTERIA

Syteria band photo

SYTERIA (from l-r): Pablo Calvo (drums/vocals), Keira Kenworthy (bass/vocals), Jackie “Jax” Chambers (guitar/vocals), Julia Calvo (vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTO by MARC McGARRAGHY of YELLOW MUSTANG PHOTOGRAPHY

Formed in 2015 by Jackie “Jax” Chambers, current lead guitarist of Girlschool, one of the pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal, and including bassist Keira Kenworthy, daughter of Mike, former drummer of Raven, an outfit considered to be a major influence on such legendary bands such as Metallica and Slayer, Yorkshire four-piece Syteria pride themselves on crafting a heavy blend of punk and rock that manages to positively sound both nostalgic and modern.

With this – and some brilliantly put together live sets – the band have been able to leave a lasting impression on audiences everywhere, which is something they will be hopeful of doing again this year, what with a series of gigs and festival appearances across the UK, and the release of ‘Reflection‘, the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to their well-received 2017 debut album, ‘Rantobot‘.

Jax and Keira recently spoke to me about all this – and much more.

Firstly, how did the band form?

JACKIE “JAX” CHAMBERS (guitar/vocals): I’d always wanted to have another band besides Girlschool, so that I’d be constantly playing and recording, so at the end of 2015, I put the word out, and I found Julia through a mutual friend of ours on Facebook.

Julia then found Keira online, and then we got together with her dad Mike to rehearse, with Julia‘s brother Pablo helping us out on drums. We initially looked for a permanent drummer, but then we saw Pablo and how good he was, so we decided to keep him on.

How did the name Syteria come about?

JAX: I am heavily into meditation these days, and I was reading a book where I came across the word “siteria“, which I believe is a spiritual name of a flower. I haven’t seen that reference since, but I liked it.

However, I thought it would look better written with a Y rather than an I, so I changed it and put it forward to the rest of the band as a possible name. We already had a long list of possible band names, so we decided to narrow it down little by little, which was easy to do as all the other ones we liked had already been taken by other rock bands across the world.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

JAX: When I write a song, I tend to start with a drum loop and jam around with it until I find a melodic riff or something that works, and then build it from there.

I have a lot of words that I’ve written over the years, which I’m still writing now, as I really love writing songs, and I try to add as much melody as I can in each instrument, and then building it up with the harmonies to top it all off.

KEIRA KENWORTHY (bass/vocals): It’s actually not as straightforward for me, as I need to be in a mindset to write songs, and most of the time, I’m too busy playing bass! (laughs)

When I do write though, I will always start with the rhythmic parts before I even think of a melody. I may also write out a few lyrics beforehand, and try to imagine in my head what the music is going to sound like, so it fits in with those lyrics.

What inspires the band lyrically?

KEIRA: There has been a lot going on in the world lately, which has really got our creative juices flowing. What is there not to talk about?

We can all agree that this is not a very happy planet right now, what with corporations and governments consistently letting us down, and the only way that they will realise this is through a revolution that would give power back to the people.

JAX: Despite this, we try not to be too negative with our lyrics. We make sure that we add a little humour here and there, as there’s enough doom and gloom out there as it is without us adding to it, so we like our music and melodies to be uplifting, and we also like our lyrics to make people smile.

In 2017, you brought out a debut album, ‘Rantobot’, to rave reviews, and it was also nominated for an Independent Music Award. Honestly, were any of you surprised by the response the album got at all?

JAX: It was so flattering to read all the positive reviews, because as a band, and as a songwriter, the best you can hope for is that people out there like what you’re doing.

When we had finished recording the album, we knew we had something special, as we had put so much love into it in the first place, and I think we have something truly unique in that we have four-part harmonies, which we use in every song so it helps to give them that sing-along feel.

KEIRA: The response was truly shocking for me, as usually you would expect at least some divisive opinion when it comes to reviewing an album, so we feel fortunate to have brought out something that somehow managed to tick all the boxes with our fans, and hopefully, we will do just as well with the follow-up.

On the subject of the follow-up – entitled ‘Reflection’, and coming out later this year – how has the recording process been for that?

KEIRA: Myself, Jax, and Pablo have been travelling down to Wales to record the drum and bass parts, which me and Pablo have been pretty quick at laying down, as we both lock in as a rhythm section, and know our parts well. We actually managed to record those parts of the tracks in only two days!

JAX: It will be my turn to head into the recording studio next, to record the guitar parts, and then Julia will go in to do the vocals.

It should all be done within ten days, as we’re not one of those bands who will spend months in the studio, and we’ve split the recording process in two parts, as we’ll be playing a lot of gigs in between, including our set at Camden Rocks.

Also, how will the new album differ stylistically to the first?

KEIRA: This will be the first time that each member of the band has written a song, so the style will be more diverse, and with the songs that each of us has written, our influences and personalities shine through better, as each of our individual influences and styles have now become much more important to the uniqueness of our sound.

JAX: There will still be some rants in there, of course!

You mentioned Camden Rocks earlier. Which other bands/artists are you personally looking forward to seeing play there?

KEIRA: We’ll be headlining the Dublin Castle on the Sunday evening, so it would be great for us to be able to catch a few other acts beforehand. Personally, I would love to see Bad Touch and Black Sixteen.

JAX: Unfortunately, I’m in the unusual situation that I won’t be able to attend most of the festival, as I’ll be in Wales, recording the guitar parts for ‘Reflection‘. However, I will be coming down for the Sunday, and I’m hoping to catch some new bands, and also seeing what else is around.

I personally think events like this are fabulous, as bands who nobody may have heard of get the chance to play and potentially be discovered.

And it will be the first time the band will have played in Camden since your equipment was stolen, which must have been a rather traumatic experience for you all.

JAX: It happens, unfortunately, and it was such a downer after we had had a great night at The Lounge playing with Hands Off Gretel, another band who are from Yorkshire.

KEIRA: I think when you’ve heard so many stories of other bands getting their gear nicked, then you have no doubt in your mind that it could happen to you as well, so we have always been vigilant with our gear since the beginning, but it wasn’t enough to stop us getting nearly £1,500 worth of gear stolen by some scumbags.

JAX: And it wasn’t as if they had stolen it from outside the venue, as we had parked our car in the car park of the nearby hotel we were staying at, which was underground, had CCTV cameras, and was near the main entrance, so we assumed that everything would be secure.

Of course, the hotel management didn’t do anything about it, and the police seemed like they couldn’t have cared less, which was a shame, but we were just grateful that they hadn’t taken the car as well, so we went, “It could have been worse, and nobody’s died“, and just dealt with it.

You’ve toured across the UK, and have played numerous festivals, some as far afield as Greece and Thailand. How were they as experiences?

KEIRA: I loved it when we did the gigs abroad, as it always felt like we were going on a mini holiday, and even if we are away for only a few days, we managed to make our experience memorable in some way, for example, the first gig we ever did abroad was in Zurich in Switzerland, and we actually recorded a live album there, which unfortunately is no longer available, as it was only a limited edition release.

The Wildfire Festival in Scotland was also a blast to do, as we had a great crowd and a great sound. During the end of our set there, we were finishing off with ‘When I Get Out Of High School‘, and Jax noticed that there were some little girls with inflatable guitars, so we invited them up on stage with us, and afterwards, we autographed each one of the guitars. Bless ’em! (laughs)

And how is it overall performing on stage?

KEIRA: It’s brilliant! Pablo and I are very tight as a rhythm section, and each of the band members mesh together, becoming one full unit.

JAX: That’s where we really come into our own, as we all love playing live, and I think our personalities show through in every performance.

Even when we’re not really feeling it before a gig, as soon as we hit those first few bars of a song, we’re transported into our little world of fun, but we always try to involve the audience as well, as after all, we’re there to entertain them.

KEIRA: We have the energy, and we’ve got the look, plus some choreography! Come and see us to believe it! (laughs)

And lastly, album aside, what has the band got lined up for the near future?

JAX: With the release of ‘Reflection‘, we hope to be touring as much as possible, and right now, we’re in talks about a distribution deal to release it, but firstly, we’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording, so everyone who has helped in that will get their album three months before it is actually released, as our way of saying thank you.

Also, we will be putting out some new videos to go along with the tracks, which are always fun to do.

Syteria Album Cover

‘REFLECTION’ – THE SECOND ALBUM FROM SYTERIA – WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS YEAR. THE BAND ARE CURRENTLY RAISING FUNDS FOR ITS RECORDING, SO IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE, GO TO www.kickstarter.com BEFORE JUNE 6. 

SYTERIA WILL ALSO BE PLAYING AT CAMDEN ROCKS NEXT WEEKEND. THEIR SET WILL BE AT THE DUBLIN CASTLE, SUNDAY JUNE 2, AT 10:45pm. MORE INFO ON THE FESTIVAL CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

ALSO, FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BAND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

TOP FIVE BANDS/ARTISTS TO SEE AT CAMDEN ROCKS 2019

Camden Rocks 2019 final poster

by JOE WILLIAMS

Next weekend, over 400 emerging and established bands and artists will be descending on 20 venues across the famed London market district of Camden for the 2019 Camden Rocks Festival, and for those who are planning to go, here are the top five acts that you simply don’t want to miss out on:

The Wild Things band photo

THE WILD THINGS – Saturday June 1, 2pm, The Monarch

Reminiscent of Paramore, yet with a melodic, self-cultivated British twist, The Wild Things have been tipped as one of the dark horses of this year’s festival.

Fans of the acclaimed BBC TV show ‘Uncle‘ may well recognise vocalist/guitarist Sydney Rae White, who played Gwen, but on stage, she has a different presence altogether, and with a consistent string of songs in their back pockets, there’s no wonder why this British rock quartet have been tipped as ones to watch by the likes of Kerrang!Classic Rock, and BBC Introducing.

The Blinders band photo

THE BLINDERS – Saturday June 1, 7.30pm, Dingwalls

Replacing Welsh rock outfit Pretty Vicious – who have unfortunately had to pull out of playing at this year’s festival – the Doncaster three-piece are one of the more recognised names amongst the British alternative scene, and have been slowly but surely leaving their mark with some truly unique performances.

Accompanied by the powerful and dark tonal range of bassist Charlie McGough, and drummer Matt Neale, vocalist/lead guitarist Thomas Haywood has a stand-out range in his vocals that has rocked every room they’ve crossed since the band started out in 2016.

Three years on, they have recently been promoting last year’s debut album ‘Colombia‘ with much touring, and will be looking to continue their rise with a strong outing this June.

Frank Turner photo

FRANK TURNER – Saturday June 1, 8.45pm, The Electric Ballroom

Headlining the Saturday, the seven-studio album-producing punk and folk singer-songwriter needs no introduction to those close to the indie scene.

Following his time as part of post-hardcore collective Billion Dead, he ventured into his now-renowned acoustic solo career, and has since provided a taste of uplifting and empowering vocals across the world.

As well as taking to the stage as a solo artist, he has also reunited with his former bandmate, Ben Dawson, to form Mongol Horde, along with guitarist Matt Nasir, and Despite having been born in Bahrain, Turner has always been seen as a Londoner, and he will look to return that favour as he returns to Camden once again.

Best Of Enemies band photo

BEST OF ENEMIES – Sunday June 2, 12pm, The Black Heart

Following off the back of the first day, there will be no better place to get yourself settled back into the spirit of Camden Rocks then by going to The Black Heart to see pop-rock four-piece Best of Enemies, who will be making the short trip north from Croydon.

Showcasing their recently-released EP, the band look to take their ever-growing audience by surprise by encapsulating beautifully-paced vocals, and pairing them with addictive hooks.

Hands Off Gretel band photo

HANDS OFF GRETEL – Sunday June 2, 8.30pm, The Camden Assembly

Stemming shades of the 90’s grunge scene, the colourful South Yorkshire outfit will look to kick into a final night of Camden Rocks with the typical riotous swagger that has become a staple of the current line-up’s fearsome presentations.

Performing across the circuit since forming in 2015, they showed little mercy in releasing their debut album ‘Burn the Beauty Queen‘, which received plaudits from all corners of the UK, including Louder Than War, who stated at the time, “It marks the start of a career that could well see them becoming as big as Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, or Miley Cyrus over time….. given the breaks, and skilful management.

The band will certainly be hoping that their appearance at Camden Rocks will lay down further foundations for them to do just that.

TICKETS FOR CAMDEN ROCKS 2019 ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE SATURDAY, SUNDAY, AND BOTH DAYS, STARTING FROM £40. FURTHER INFO ON THIS CAN BE FOUND AT THE FESTIVAL’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE.