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KILL THE MASTERS

kill the masters band photo

KILL THE MASTERS (from l-r): Rebecca Broughton (drums), Oli (vocals/guitar), Sam Cummins (bass/vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Bolton, a small Lancashire town just north of the city of Manchester, Kill The Masters initially formed with the intention of becoming a serious political band, rallying against the right-wing establishment with a punk sound that also contains an assortment of ska, hardcore, rap, and any other genre they can fit in.

However, even though that is still the ultimate aim, the emerging three-piece are gaining a reputation for being more fun-oriented.

Having unveiled their debut EP, ‘Everything Hurts’, in the run-up to last Christmas, the collective spoke to me in-depth about that, the experience of supporting Crazy Town last summer, and much more.

How did the band form?

OLI (vocals/guitar): Me and Sam were friends at school, and we were in punk bands together as teenagers, which never materialised too much, and Sam continued to play in several other bands, while I stopped playing guitar music for a few years, and tried to learn how to produce electronic stuff (which I failed, as it was too hard).

As we’re both very interested in left-wing politics, the dragging of mainstream political discourse even further to the right in recent years both offended and inspired us, so we resolved to go back to our roots, start a political punk band, and put the world to rights.

SAM CUMMINS (bass/vocals): Yeah, Oli was actually in my first ever band, the wonderfully named Massive Head Trauma, when we were both about 13, but that fizzled out after we went to college, uni, etc, and once I got back to Bolton, we were talking about doing something together for a good year or two before it actually happened.

As for Broughts (Rebecca Broughton, drums), I met her in a nightclub in Bolton, and she ended up joining one of my bands from uni, mediocre pop-punks We Were Kings, and as soon as Oli and I started getting serious, she was my go-to to fill the drum throne.

REBECCA BROUGHTON (drums): Yeah, Sam has already explained how we met, and he introduced me to Oli a few years back after mentioning starting up a new band, as I had been out of practice for about a year, and I was looking for any reason to start playing again, so here we are. Worked out pretty well, I think.

How did the name Kill The Masters come about?

OLI: We spent a long time coming up with different ideas, but nothing really seemed to suit us.

Again, the intention was to form a political punk band, and our politics revolves around the removal of pre-existing power structures in favour of horizontally-organised, worker-led systems, and we felt that it was important that the name represented the message we wanted to put out there.

In the end, we took the name from Game of Thrones, from the series where the slave army rises up and overthrow their masters, and there’s a scene prior to the rebellion where there’s some agitation scrawled in blood on the wall, “Kill The Masters“.

SAM: I actually thought Kill The Masters was a stroke of genius entirely down to Oli, and it was only a few months later, when I actually watched Game of Thrones, that I realised he’d stolen it. I should’ve known, really!

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

OLI: I’m a massive fan of Streetlight Manifesto, and whilst we’re not a ska band, we definitely incorporate elements of ska punk.

Lyrically, I’m mainly inspired by rap music, particularly Akala, he’s a great rapper, socially conscious, and so intelligent, and far and beyond my favourite lyricist is Tomas Kalnoky, who I wish I could write more like.

Musically, my main inspirations include Rise Against, The Clash, Leftover Crack, AFI, and Jaya the Cat.

SAM: Broadly similar to Oli, although my first ventures into punk and ska was more the British bands of the late 70s/early 80s, with bands like Stiff Little Fingers and the Specials being huge influences growing up.

I’m also a shameless fan of the sleazier American glam-punk bands like Motley Crue and Guns N Roses, and, like Oli, I’m partial to both British and US hip-hop, with Kendrick, Ocean Wisdom, Akala, and Lowkey being some of my favourites.

I’d like to give a shout out to Enter Shikari too, who I firmly believe to be the most innovative British band of my generation. I don’t think we’ll ever sound like them, but they blow my mind with how much they’ve spanned genres and sounds over the years.

You initially formed with the intention of becoming a serious political punk band, yet you are becoming known for having a more fun-oriented sound. What made you switch to that? 

We wanted to get gigging as soon as we could, so we basically spent the first few months nailing as many songs as we could without taking too much time over the songs.

Our plan was to get gigging, and then get more into the serious political side when we’d established ourselves a bit. I’d say we’re at this point now, so the next lot of songs will be more on the serious side, whether that be political or social.

That said, we are pretty stupid, so I’d be surprised if we left the fun stuff behind entirely.

SAM: I feel like we’ve got something to say for ourselves politically, hence tunes like ‘No Apologies’, but we’ve never been good enough musicians or songwriters to take ourselves too seriously, as for every angry political song, there’ll be one about how much I love my toolbox, or something daft like that.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting? 

OLI: It varies. Me and Sam have written all of our songs so far, but Broughton has some in the pipeline.

Usually, I’ll write the lyrics and guitar on acoustic, and then get the whole structure sorted along with a simple bassline, which I’ll then take to practice and show the others, and then, they’ll sort their own parts out. I can’t write bass or drums anywhere near as good as they can, so that works well.

On ‘No Apologies’, I wrote the music to Sam’s lyrics, and on ‘Drugs in the Sun’, I wrote the lyrics to Sam’s melody, so there’s no real set system, but generally, one of us will bring in a song that’s nearly done, and then we will work together to turn it into a full ensemble.

SAM: Yeah, Oli has pretty much covered it there. One of us will have an idea for a riff, melody, or a set of lyrics, and we tend to build on that from there.

From my point of view, being a bass player, I don’t have the same ear for melodies that Oli does, so I do tend to give him a lot of my lyrics for him to work into pieces of music, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

REBECCA: As a drummer, I’ve mostly been adding to other people’s work in rehearsals, as I’ve only recently got into songwriting after being involved with the band, and being inspired by some of the subjects the lads have touched upon.

I tend to get an idea of a topic, and start writing some lyrics down, before working on any kind of melody or chord structure. My skills on guitar are pretty limited, but I’m hoping the lads will be able to guide me with the creation of these new tunes.

It’ll be a new experience for me writing songs, and it’s great that the lads are being so supportive in me getting more hands-on in regards to the the songwriting for the band.

Towards the end of last year, the band unveiled their debut EP, ‘Everything Hurts’. How was the recording process for that? 

OLI: We recorded it with Dave at Red City Recordings, and he was fantastic, a truly awesome guy who is amazing at his craft. We loved every minute of the process, and if I could do that every day for a job, I’d jump at the chance.

SAM: I loved it. Dave was great to work with, he was able to make us sound way better than we actually are, and I got to catch up on loads of sleep while the other two recorded their parts.

What stood out for me was how much Dave pushed us into getting things perfect, because I’d think that I had nailed a take, and he’d come back with “Do that again, but better...”.

It certainly got the best out of us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

REBECCA: We had an amazing time working with Dave, and I enjoyed being pushed for each and every take for each song. I definitely crushed it harder than both the lads, though, so I guess they need to put a bit more practice in.

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

SAM: I like it, my mates like it, and even my mum doesn’t hate it, so that’ll do for me, and anything else will just be a massive bonus.

REBECCA: Yeah, my mum also mentioned enjoying it, as well, which was pretty great.

Up to now, you have mainly performed live in your home town of Bolton. How is the music scene there currently, in your opinion? 

OLI: It was amazing a few years ago, as there were a massive variety of local bands, full of sound people, but now, we’ve only got one venue left, to be honest, and the people who are trying to keep it alive are ace, but the scene has really suffered over the past few years.

We love the venue that is left, but the other real institution in our town tragically closed down, leaving a lot of the less heavy bands without any real home.

SAM: Having been in a couple of Bolton bands over the years, the scene has certainly declined, mainly due to the lack of venues.

There are still some great bands doing bits, but you see a lot of overspill these days from and to other towns, but stuff like that tends to move in cycles, though, as bands and venues will always come and go.

Last summer, the band supported Crazy Town in Bolton. That must have been quite an experience for you all. 

SAM: It was an honour. I was blown away by their set, which, with the greatest of respect to them, I wasn’t expecting.

REBECCA: It was probably the best experience I’ve had being a part of a band. The whole night was loads of fun, and sharing the stage with a band that have literally had a smash hit was amazing. We all had a proper decent night together as a band, and as mates, as well.

Also, how is it overall, for the band, playing on stage?

OLI: Good, but I’m not much of a performer, so there’s a lot of room for improvement in my opinion. We have a lot of ambitions to improve the show in the future, in order to make it more than just us playing a bunch of songs.

SAM: At the risk of disappearing up my own arse, it’s my happy place, as there’s nothing else in the world that comes close. I’ve been in and around the live music scene for the best part of a decade now, and it never gets old or boring.

It can be a slog, though, dragging yourself down to Sheffield, or up to Lancaster to play a set, especially when you have a raging hangover, but the minute we play that first note, it’s worth it a million times over.

REBECCA: It’s a dream playing with Sam and Oli, and I’ve always enjoyed sharing a stage with Sam, as we really work well together performance-wise. It’s nice watching Oli go for it as well, and I would like to say to him that he’s doing great, and is also a real sweetie.

And finally, what are your plans for the year ahead?

OLI: Another EP, I think, which we’re in the planning stages for right now. We also want to try and get gigs outside of the North West, so we can get our name further out there.

REBECCA: Gigs, gigs, and more gigs. I’m gonna start having some drum tuition again this year, as well, and I’ll see if I can get down a 250bpm hardcore beat down, so wish me luck!

kill the masters ep cover

‘EVERYTHING HURTS’, THE DEBUT EP FROM KILL THE MASTERS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE

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SILKRATS

silkrats band photo

SILKRATS (from l-r): Lewis Merrin (drums), Luna Valentine (lead vocals), Adam Kenney (guitar/vocals), Matt Nowak (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

An up-and-coming alternative rock band from Nottingham, Silkrats had a productive end to 2018, having released a first single, ‘Partners In Crime’, as well as making their live debut in the band’s home city, and they have a determination, in 2019, to keep up the momentum that has so far been generated.

Here’s what the quartet had to say to me when we chatted recently:

How did the band form?

MATT NOWAK (bass): The three dudes in the band have been friends for a very long time. We met when we were at school, and we were in a (terrible) band together back then too. We remain the very best of friends after all these years, and the band only gives us another reason to hang out together, other than just getting pissed.

Silkrats formed when Adam persuaded Lewis and myself to give being a band another try – and we did take some persuading, to be honest, as unlike Adam, we had both taken a step back from playing music publicly, having grown disillusioned after the breakdown of previous projects, but we’re very glad that he talked us round.

We met Luna online, and she gelled with us remarkably quickly and easily, both musically, and as a bandmate, but it can’t have been easy for her entering the old and tight friendship that the other three members of the band hold. She’s done an amazing job so far.

How did the name Silkrats come about?

MATT: Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything. For some reason, we thought it would be cool to have something with an animal in the name, and our drummer eventually suggested the name Silkrats.

By that time, we were about ready to book gigs and start releasing some tunes, so we had reached a stage where we just needed a name, any name, and thought it would do. I wish we had a cooler story behind it, to be honest, but we don’t.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MATT: So far, we’ve written as a group mostly, and I like it that way, as I think it works for us. Personally, I prefer working on something together, rather than one of us bringing a complete idea to the other guys and saying, “Here’s the song, learn it“, and collaborating this way means we all have more of a shared attachment to the songs.

My style is more “riff arrangement“, whereas Adam has a great ear for hooks and choruses. Together, I think we make a decent team, and are able to fill in the holes in each other’s ideas.

Up until now, Adam has written all of the vocals/lyrics, but the vocal melodies inevitably change a bit once Luna gets her hands on them – it’s always a very pleasant surprise to hear her take them on.

What inspires the band lyrically?

ADAM KENNEY (guitar): I’ve always hated writing lyrics, but bringing in Luna has been liberating – I don’t have to feel self-conscious about it, because I’m not the one singing them!

Lyrically, no song is about one particular thing, as there are multiple themes in most of the songs. I get very bored writing about one singular subject, so there’s usually a line about one thing, and then another about something completely different.

Recently, you brought out your debut single, ‘Partners In Crime’. How was the recording process for that?

MATT: We actually did it ourselves – hopefully, it’s not too obvious! We were on a bit of a budget, so we recorded the song at home using fairly entry level microphones, a MacBook Air, and Logic Pro X.

It’s been years since I recorded anything “properly“, the last time being when I did my music tech A-level about ten years ago, but it was fun shaking off the cobwebs and re-teaching myself how to use various plug-ins, etc.

We wanted to self-record, so that we could take our time, both tracking and mixing, so that we could be pickier about the artistic side of things without the time pressures of working in a “proper” studio, and given the circumstances, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve produced.

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

LUNA VALENTINE (lead vocals): The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I think there’s no better feeling in this world than seeing other people enjoy something that we’ve created.

The band hail from Nottingham. What is the state of the alternative rock scene in the city, in your opinion, currently?

LUNA: It depends on what lens you’re looking at it through. From a punter’s perspective, it’s pretty great, as we have several venues that put on touring bands (courtesy of the DHP group – Rock City, The Bodega, Rescue Rooms), as well as an arena for larger acts, and a couple of annual urban festivals (Dot To Dot, Hockley Hustle, Beat The Streets).

As a band though, it can be difficult to find a respectable venue (ie. not a pub with a bit of spare floor space) that will put on emerging local acts, there’s only a handful of those. Huge shout out to The Maze though – they gave us our first gig, and are always willing to give local artists a chance.

And you recently made your live debut in your home city. How was that as an experience?

It went really well! It was great to finally get out there, and show people what we’ve been working on all this time, and we think it was pretty well-received too. We can’t wait to do it again.

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

We’re just trying to get ourselves out there, and we would love to play more gigs! We have five other songs in production already, and the plan at the moment is to release them one at a time as singles, but we’ll see.

silkrats single cover

‘PARTNERS IN CRIME’, THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM SILKRATS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

SOUNDCLOUD

HOLDING OUT

Holding Out band photo

HOLDING OUT (from l-r): Jason Toward (guitar/vocals), Tomm Money (bass/vocals), Ellis Paul (vocals/guitar), Ryan Hubbard (former drummer)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by NICO DRYSDALE

Since forming in 2016, Holding Out, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, have evolved from being an melodic acoustic act to an outfit armed with a sound that mixes in different elements from the genres of alternative rock and punk, allowing for music that is much darker and heavier, but retaining some melody.

With this, the band are currently garnering a devoted following in their home city, having played several sold-out headline gigs, as well as supporting the likes of Tiny Moving Parts and Muncie Girls.

Despite drummer Ryan Hubbard recently deciding to depart, the three who remain are still determined to keep Holding Out going, having earlier this month unveiled their debut EP, ‘FED.UP’, and I spoke to frontman Ellis Paul about all this, and more.

How did the band get together?

Our former drummer and I used to jam together in my garage, and we wrote what would become Holding Out’s first songs. We met Jason through Facebook, and went through several bassists before we met Tomm.

How did the name Holding Out come about? 

Me and my friends used to get drunk and watch the Shrek movies together, and I think the name stemmed from the ending scene of Shrek 2.

You started out as an acoustic act. What made you switch to the alternative rock/punk sound you have now? 

Having more members join us. Once more people jumped on board, we became something a bit heavier and more well-rounded, although, we may be temporarily revisiting our old style, due to the recent departure of a key band member.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I write lyrics in my own time, away from the band. Lyric writing is a personal experience for me, and I can’t do it in a group environment. The music is mainly written through jam sessions, or by me and Tomm experimenting with weird sounds together.

What inspires the band lyrically? 

Lyrically, my focus is things that affect me in day-to-day life, mental health, relationships, etc. My lyrics often delve into more political and social issues, depending on what I’m writing about.

Recently, you unveiled your debut EP, ‘FED.UP’. How was the recording process for that?

Writing was as standard. We’d hang out in my garage and just jam until we’d come up with something we felt was impactful enough to record. We then hung out in a back room of a church with our buddy Joe, who recorded and produced it all.

The recording process is always a laid-back experience for us.

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

Surprises. There’s a huge variety of styles and influences we’ve thrown into the mix, which I really think people will love. We’ve experimented hugely, and I think that’s really benefited our sound.

The band have played several sold-out headline shows in their home city, and have also supported the likes of Tiny Moving Parts and Muncie Girls. How were they as experiences?

Our headline shows are always a party, and there’s always a really strong sense of community, which I believe music is all about. People sing our songs with us, members of different support acts get up and sing each other’s songs together, it’s just really wholesome.

Supporting Tiny Moving Parts was awesome. They were the biggest band we’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage with, and they’re such down-to-earth, welcoming guys.

And how is it overall, for you all, performing live?

Performing always feels like an out-of-body experience for myself. I have this energy and carelessness, which I lack in day-to-day life. It’s a therapeutic experience where I can really let off steam and not care about how I look, as everyone is there to just enjoy the music.

I can’t speak for the other guys, but I would think, for them, it’s probably something less pretentious.

Now the EP has been released, what are your plans now?

Well, recently, our drummer, and one of our founding members, has parted ways with us, which has put our plans on hold a bit. However, we’re trying to get back on our feet by planning some special acoustic shows, and really venturing into new styles with our music.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

There really isn’t one, as we’re just here to make music, and to make friends. We don’t care about making a certain amount of money, or playing to a certain amount of people, as we’re here to do what we love, and to pour our passion into creating something beautiful that we can all be proud of.

Holding Out EP Cover

‘FED.UP’, THE DEBUT EP FROM HOLDING OUT, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

BREAK ME DOWN

Break Me Down band photo

BREAK ME DOWN (from l-r): Laerte Ungaro (guitar), Giuseppe “LoChef” Greco (bass), Faith Blurry (vocals), Fabio Benedan (drums), Morris Steel (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Mainly influenced by outfits such as Alter Bridge, Halestorm, and The Pretty Reckless, Italian five-piece Break Me Down take pride in producing an energetic, powerfully emotional mix of hard rock and heavy metal, and with this, the band have already started to make quite a name for themselves in their home country, having unveiled their debut EP, ‘Resilience’, as well as performing live sets alongside highly-regarded collectives such as Lacuna Coil and Crazy Town.

The rapidly-rising quintet recently spoke to me about all this, their latest single, ‘Trust’, and what they already have lined up for the new year.

How did the band form?

LAERTE UNGARO (guitar): After my old band broke up, I decided to take a break from music, but a couple of years later, I realised that I missed the stage, so, with my old drummer and bass player, we formed a new band.

We started looking for a new singer, and while we were auditioning, we decided to grab a beer, so we went to a nearby rock pub, where Faith happened to be performing, and after the show, I asked her if she could be interested in our project…she answered: “Let’s try!

Also, since we also needed a second guitar player, Morris, her guitarist at the time, joined the band.

After a few months, we lost our original drummer, because he wanted to play other genres, but we eventually found our fifth element: Fabio, and that is pretty much how our story began…

How did the name Break Me Down come about?

FAITH BLURRY (vocals): In my opinion, finding a name for a band is the hardest thing…because it has to represent the genre, the thoughts, the group style, all in one word or a few.

Some journalists wrote that our guitars sounded just like Alter Bridge’s, and there is the fact that ‘Break Me Down’ is the title of one of their songs, but that wasn’t intentional. It’s true that we find inspiration in their style, but we chose this name for a different reason.

We were thinking about the meaning of our songs, and what message we wanted to send…so Laerte suggested that the name had to be a provocation, not to surrender to the difficulties of life, as in “You can try to break me down, but I’m still here!!!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MORRIS STEEL (guitar): Except for Fabio, we all write the songs, and everyone brings a different skill: Faith is the most romantic, ballads are her specialities, and everything she writes can touch your heart!

LoChef is a genius, as he always comes up and says: “Hey, I did a song! Listen to this!”, and from that, you can write other five songs!

Laerte’s approach is different, he writes very heavy metal songs, but in particular, he pay attention to the lyrics…he always says the message is important.

My style, personally, is complicated. I write every type of song, because I put into it everything that comes from my life experiences.

What inspires the band lyrically?

LAERTE: I’d like to say everything! Everything can be a song! When we formed the band, our lyrics were based on fighting against an unfair life that tries its best to break you down…but now, we want to tell you about a life that is simple and ordinary, but also rather complicated, for example, our song, named ‘OCD’, talks about love, but through the eyes of a guy with obsessive-compulsive disorder…The chorus says: “How can it be a mistake if I don’t have to wash my hands after I touched your skin?

Now, to a person without OCD, this sounds stupid or crazy…but to a person with it,  this means love.

Back in January, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Resilience’. How was the recording process for that?

FAITH: Complicated! It was the very first time that we had all worked together in a studio, and it was a funny experience, as we laughed a lot, but it was also exhausting, because we went to record ‘Resilience’ in the every evening after a day of work, and the only thing that was keeping us awake was to see the result….and also, the coffee.

And how was the reaction to the release?

GIUSEPPE “LoCHEF” GRECO (bass): Slow. We were a brand new band, and nobody knew us. When we did the first gig, we played in front of our friends, but gradually, show after show, many people started to follow us every time we performed.

‘Resilience’ was the key to spread our music to the world.

The band have performed alongside the likes of Lacuna Coil and Crazy Town. How were they as experiences?

FABIO BENEDAN (drums): AMAZING! Simply amazing! We were so lucky! Actually, opening for Crazy Town was our first show together as a band, and it was awesome, and after the show, “Shifty” (Seth Binzer, the band’s lead vocalist) came backstage, and he said to us that he thought our performance had been great! We couldn’t believe it!

After that, we decided to enter a contest, the winner of which had the possibility to open for Lacuna Coil at the MIC Rock Festival, and we won!

We travelled for 15 hours for play a 20-minute set, but they were 20 minutes of fire, and the guys from Lacuna Coil afterwards gave us the opportunity to open another of their concerts in Reggio Emilia…I think this will remain my, as well as the band’s, best experience ever!

And how is it overall, for you all, playing live?

MORRIS: Playing live is everything! We work hard to build a band in every aspect of a modern concept of how a band is gonna be…I mean: social network, nice pictures, social media, all stuff like these!

We are producers, composers, songwriters, but our biggest satisfaction is playing our music in front of the people that love what we do as we do!

And finally, what are the band’s initial plans for 2019?

FAITH: We recently released a video of a live single, ‘Trust’, which is a tribute to the incredible summer we had playing all around Italy.

The next step now is come out with our first full-length record! We are working hard at the moment to write new songs, and we hope to go back into the studio early next year, and when the album comes out, we hope to do a little European tour, so I think 2019 will be very demanding, but worth it in the end.

‘TRUST’, THE NEW SINGLE FROM BREAK ME DOWN, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

THE HOWLING LORDS

The Howling Lords band photo

THE HOWLING LORDS (from l-r): Jens Johansen (bass), Felix Saunders (vocals/guitar), Eoghainn Lapsley (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Hailing from the Isle Of Lewis, off the western coast of Scotland, The Howling Lords are a three-piece currently going from strength to strength, having generated much support and acclaim for a gritty blues-rock sound, including huge guitar riffs and raw vocals, and inspired by a wide range of bands, spanning from The Who to Queens Of The Stone Age.

Having recently brought out their second album, ‘Texas Medicine’, the trio spoke to me about that, the collective’s journey so far, as well as what they have lined up for the near future.

How did the band get together?

We were created in a Stan Lee comic, and came to life. Jens is a forgotten Viking from the northern raids on Scotland, Eoghainn is a caveman that came out from hiding, and started hitting things with sticks, and as for Felix, well, you can make up your own mind, as some say he’s a space alien, whereas others say he is an inter-dimensional time traveller, but we all agree that he is strange.

How did the name The Howling Lords come about?

It came from a Rob Zombie film, and we decided to add to it the classic blues trope of something like “hollering blind” or “screaming“, and we guess the reason we went with “howling” is because subconsciously, we knew we would be loud, which…well, stand in a room with us when we plug in.

What would you say was your songwriting approach?

We build and expand ideas until they become songs, some of which are instant, others are an exercise in patience, and it’s an honest collaboration, as we try to bring every idea to its fullest potential, but even then, if we don’t like them, then we just drop them, however, if the idea’s good enough, then we will come back to it somehow.

What inspires the band lyrically?

We always try to create pictures from our heads with words, but we are not always sure what we’re drawing, or even what the words are, as we have moments where words will flood through our minds, and the real trick, sometimes, is to capture them.

Recently, you brought out your second album, ‘Texas Medicine’. How was the recording process for that?

It was awesome. We were really focused throughout, and we made sure that we didn’t have any distractions such as the internet, television, or even radio, as we lived in the recording studio, which was miles from the nearest town or even village.

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

We think that each record shows something new, from the songwriting, to the overall production.

We may not be maturing as people, but we are definitely growing as musicians, as now, we like to try and push ourselves as individual performers, as much as we possibly can, however, it does take a lot more work when we have slow days.

You have established a solid reputation for putting on skilled, energetic live sets. How is it, for the band, performing on stage?

We try to keep everything tight, but mainly, we try to have fun, amuse ourselves, and generate a positive vibe for the crowd, as we just enjoy the fact that we are playing as close friends, and also that we get to see people enjoy what we’ve created together.

When we were younger, pop-punk and hardcore were both huge, those bands filled the stage with energy, and it left a mark on us.

And the band have also toured across Scotland and much of the UK, something you will be doing again next spring. How is the experience of touring for you all?

It’s quite fixed now, as we almost have our own little routine. We just tend to try and stay chilled, and not annoy each other too much, which to be honest, can be rather difficult when we’re all hungry and tired, but if that does happen, we have all forgiven each other by the time we get on stage and play those first notes.

And finally, what do you have planned once the album and tour are out of the way?

A holiday? A new album? We’re not sure yet, but we are sure that we will be making a noise, and also seeing what there is to do, we may play some festivals, and time will tell us all what’s next, but before all that, we need some coffee!

The Howling Lords Album Cover

‘TEXAS MEDICINE’, THE SECOND ALBUM FROM THE HOWLING LORDS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER DETAILS ON THAT, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.

PASSENGERS

Passengers band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Lancaster in the north-west of England, four-piece Passengers have drawn influence from a range of alternative genres, including metalcore, djent, and post-rock, to give their growing fan base a sound that is both rapidly identifiable, and sonically infectious.

The band’s debut single, ‘Boundaries’, has so far been streamed almost 20,000 times on Spotify, and they have been championed by Metal Hammer, not bad for an outfit that only got a full line-up together seven months ago.

Having just unleashed a new track, ‘Faces Of Janus’, and with plenty already lined up for 2019, including their debut EP, the quartet’s vocalist, Jed Saint, and drummer, Aiden Baldwin, spoke to me about all of that, and more.

How did the band form?

AIDEN BALDWIN (drums): Passengers originally started out as a three-piece with Niall, myself, and our second guitarist, who has since left the band, and the three of us got together to start writing music and jamming after long hiatuses from music due to life and parenthood!

It quickly became apparent that the songs were shaping up nicely, and we realised we should complete the line-up and take this live. Daryl and Jed joined on bass and vocals, and we were set.

Seven months later, we’re here doing interviews, so it’s all happened quite quickly, to be honest.

How did the name Passengers come about?

AIDEN: Niall and I are fascinated by, and are somewhat believers in, the concept of extra-planetary life, and the idea that we are here on borrowed time. We are nothing more than PASSENGERS on this planet. We should focus and use our time here as best we can.

We happen to love Deftones too, and their song ‘Passenger’ is perfection.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

AIDEN: We all draw from different places individually, and our influences/tastes are changing all the time, I’d say we’re a rather eclectic bunch, which I think comes out in the music.

However, if we were to choose two each right now, it would be: Jed – Killswitch Engage (both vocalists’ eras) and Silverstein (Shane Told); Daryl – Ministry and Mastodon; Myself – Architects (Dan Searle) and Good Tiger/The Faceless (Alex Rudinger); Niall – Dillinger Escape Plan and Between The Buried And Me.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

AIDEN: To begin with, it’s generally been a case of getting together in our rehearsal space, jamming out in each other’s faces, and finding what fits, then we’d record a rough version, record it, and give it to Jed to write lyrics, refine it, and then re-record for release.

More recently, it’s becoming a case of developing our ideas at home, sharing them with each other, then coming together in our rehearsal space to get everything nailed, and work on the live performance of it.

What inspires the band lyrically?

JED SAINT (vocals): My lyrics are very humanist and emotive – I’ll often pen them directly off the back of what I’m feeling.

‘Faces Of Janus’, for example, is a song simultaneously about the two-facedness of people within our own lives, but also about polarisms within our own psyche, and is named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings/transitions and endings, appropriate, as I think the transitional feel really comes out in the lyrics. We are all in transition. We are all Passengers.

Earlier this year, you released your debut single ‘Boundaries’ to positive reviews and almost 20,000 streams on Spotify (so far). Was that the response you were expecting, especially considering it was your first release?

AIDEN: No, not at all! Don’t get me wrong, we wanted it to do well, but we’re a small band from up north where nothing much happens. I didn’t expect anything close to this, and knowing that people have listened to us in over 27 countries and counting (according to Spotify) is amazing.

This one song has led us to play shows with some of our favourite bands, meeting a bunch of awesome new people, and being included on the cover CD of Metal Hammer magazine/coming second in Metal Hammer‘s public vote to play Wembley Arena at the Progress Wrestling event.

It has definitely helped build a solid foundation for us to work from.

You’ve also just unveiled a brand new track, ‘Faces Of Janus’. For those who have yet to listen to it, what can they expect?

JED: One thing I really enjoy about our music is the refusal to get pigeonholed, because everyone plays a part in the writing process, and we all draw from different schools of thought. It’s brilliant, as people ask me to put a label on what we play, and the closest I can get is kinda-sorta fake djent?

‘Faces Of Janus’ is one of these – Niall’s eight-string guitar and Daryl chucking some bum-clenching low end into the mix, spacey synths weave in and out of clean/harsh vocal interplay to build a bit of atmosphere, and it’s all shunted forward by part man/part tank (aka “band dad“) behind the drums. 

In September, you made your live debut supporting Martyr Defiled at their farewell show in Manchester. How did that come about?

JED: I’d say we’re simultaneously the most and least DIY band at this level, to be honest with you.

We all have experience working in different sectors of music – Aiden is a killer graphic designer and musician (if we can say that about drummers), Niall and Daryl are both accomplished producers, and I’m a promoter, so there’s not really been as much of a learning curve as there might have been.

I had worked with Martyr Defiled plenty of times before, and I’ve got a lot of love for that band, so when I was offered their farewell gig with Rawkus (and Tapestry), it was a bit of a kicker to get our shit together in time to play that bad boy!

And how was the gig as an experience for the band?

There were some nerves since we’d all been out of the game for a while (and it was actually my first show fronting a band, let alone my first show in about five years), but it all came together really well on the day!

We were on fairly early, but it was great to see plenty of friends/curious people/other bands on later in the day out nice and early to catch us, especially Kev from FYM Reacts, who has been at the vast majority of our gigs since, and has left each one with a massive bangover!

The majority of you hail from Lancaster, which, to be honest, doesn’t have a huge music scene. Do you think that makes it much harder for bands/artists from areas like that to break through than those from places such as London?

AIDEN: Absolutely, yeah. We live in a bit of a black spot when it comes to touring circuits, etc, so eyes aren’t really focused on this area much.

Having said that, our town has a rich little music scene filled with some insanely talented musicians, and is generally very supportive of upcoming bands. If a band is looking to “break through” from round here, it requires a lot of travelling… but it can be done!

Social media has changed the game for anyone to make themselves known worldwide, and there are tools online that make it easy to be heard nationally, so if you know what you’re doing, you can be heard and seen.

One of the best are the team at BBC Introducing, who gave our new single its debut radio play on release day (which didn’t involve any bribes, expensive PR, or record label involvement). It can be done.

2019 is just around the corner. What are the band’s initial plans?

AIDEN: Well, January sees us back out with Astroid Boys and Pengshui for a couple of dates, which is awesome (as well as a few massive treats/shows we can’t tell you about just yet!), and gives us a chance to play ‘Faces Of Janus’ live to some new heads.

After that, we have a bunch more unannounced shows/runs/festivals in the pipeline. More news on those soon!

The main aim for the first part of the year is to get the debut EP finished and out into the wild, then work on getting it into new earholes for the remainder of the year.

We’re also working on some additional production for our live shows, as we feel this is a huge part of the experience when coming to see us play. Keep your eyes peeled for live dates in your area. We’re coming for you.

And finally, what is your long-term aim?

JED: I guess that all really depends on who gets behind us and who wants to get involved with us/us involved with them!

At the moment, we’re taking it step by step, it’s cool to see the beginnings of this project starting to snowball. I want to get this debut EP perfect, I’d like to do some more extended touring – hopefully hit up Europe with some of our new friends – then keep punching upwards.

Passengers Single Cover

‘FACES OF JANUS’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM PASSENGERS, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S DEBUT EP WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN 2019.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

YOUTUBE

WEATHERSTATE

Weatherstate band photo.jpg

WEATHERSTATE (from l-r): Toby Wrobel (drums/vocals), Joe Hogan (bass), Callan Milward (guitar), Harry Hoskins (vocals/guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Bristol, Weatherstate are a talented four-piece who specialise in producing a punk sound that is nostalgic yet fresh, and is also rather reminiscent of the early works of Sum 41, Weezer, and Green Day.

The band’s 2016 release, ‘Dumbstruck’, saw them make their mark on the British underground punk scene, gain a large devoted following, and led to live sets supporting the likes of Trash Boat, Creeper, and The Dirty Nil.

Now, having recently unleashed a new single, the boundlessly energetic ‘Rotten Lungs’, the quartet’s guitarist, Callan Milward, chatted to me about that, their experiences up to now, as well as what they have lined up for 2019.

How did the band form?

We initially formed out of the ashes of an old project. Myself, Harry, and Hogan were living in Bristol at the time, and had been playing in a band since we were sixteen, but after eight years or so of doing that, we decided that we wanted to start a new thing, and so we drafted in Toby from another band I had been involved with to smash the drums, and that’s essentially where Weatherstate started.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Up until recently, we used to come up with power chords, melodies, and structure before we brought a song to a rehearsal room to jam out. We never used to demo anything, and that only changed recently, when we began writing our follow up to ‘Dumbstruck’.

Speaking of ‘Dumbstruck’, which was the band’s debut EP, released in 2016 to an overwhelmingly positive response. Was that honestly something you were rather taken aback by, especially considering it was your first release?

Despite it actually not being our first release (‘Dumbstruck’ was actually our third), we do now see it as the band’s first, because I think exceeded expectations for us, and surprisingly, we found ourselves with a lot more eyes on us than ever.

At the time, I found it insane how quickly everything started to grow for us, and we had to learn fast.

The band recently unveiled a new single, ‘Rotten Lungs’. What inspired you to write that, musically and lyrically?

We had been tied down with trying to write as many songs as we could. I think we simply wanted to write something outside of the Weatherstate pattern, and I remember wanting it to come across as more abrasive, aggressive, and snottier than anything else we had been writing at that time.

Shockingly, it was the easiest song to write for the record, as we wrote and recorded the full demo for it in 24 hours, but I feel sometimes that is the best way to write.

Lyrically, it’s about the deterioration of both physical and mental well-being caused when you isolate yourself from the world, and it also touches on the toxic effects that it can have on your own frame of mind, when trying to help a friend who might not want to be helped, and I think that’s reflected well in the aggressive nature of the song.

And how has the reaction been to that so far?

Great! We’ve been so stoked to get this out into everyone’s earholes.

The band hail from Bristol, which is a city becoming known for championing emerging bands/artists from a wide variety of genres. In your opinion, why do you think that is?

I absolutely love Bristol as a city, but we’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the place. I think Bristol is killing it at the moment, because it’s one of the best places in the country from a creative perspective, the talent is just on the next level, and the community is something I hold dear.

However, we’ve never really found our feet there to call it “home“. Simply, I don’t think we’ve connected there as much as we would have liked to, and that’s always been made tougher by the fact none of us actually live there now (laughs).

We’re excited to be going back there in the new year, though.

You’re also signed to Failure By Design. Do you feel fortunate to have backing by a record label, especially as there is lots of bands/artists now out there who are unsigned?

Failure By Design are killing it right now, and we’re so stoked that we get to work alongside people we consider besties.

The band have supported such outfits as Trash Boat, Boston Manor, Moose Blood, Creeper, and most recently, The Dirty Nil. How were they as experiences?

Yeah! The Dirty Nil shows recently were especially great. It’s almost impossible to match a band like that in terms of a live performance, but we aspire to be as rad as those guys, and Trash Boat helped us out with our first major tour, so we owe those guys a lot. All great experiences.

And how is it overall, for you all, performing live?

It’s something I personally thrive off. Every show, we attempt to top the last one, whether it’s perfecting the stage show, or knuckling down on getting everything tighter, and that’s something I feel every band really should be doing, but also, try not to take yourself too seriously, as being obsessive can take the edge away.

Being a live band is an essential part of Weatherstate, of course. It goes without saying, really.

Next year, the band will be releasing their debut album. Have you started to record it yet? And if so, how is the recording process going?

Yeah, it’s all in the can. We started recording it last year, and finished it up around April this year.

And at what point in 2019 are you seriously thinking of getting that out by?

It’s going to be a surprise!

Also, how will it differ to ‘Dumbstruck’?

I don’t want to go too much in-depth, but I think it’s a good representation of every bit of influence Weatherstate has taken in since we started on a creative level and a personal one.

I think I would say, compared to ‘Dumbstruck’, it’s a more focused and aggressive effort on all parts.

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

To spread the good word of rock n’ roll.

Weatherstate Single Cover

‘ROTTEN LUNGS’, THE LATEST SINGLE FROM WEATHERSTATE, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN 2019.

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

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM