Tag Archives: Zak Sloman

METHANE

Methane band photo

METHANE (from l-r): Jonas Arnberg (drums), Jimi Masterbo (lead guitar), Tim Scott (vocals/bass), Markus Grundstrom (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Taking influence mainly from such metal juggernauts as Slayer, Lamb Of God, and Pantera, Methane are a four-piece comprised of three Swedish musicians and an American vocalist/bassist called Tim Scott.

Having gained underground recognition for a strong sound that is simply unapologetic, the band established themselves even further with their well-received 2017 debut album – entitled ‘The Devil’s Own‘.

Now, with the quartet looking ahead to the release of latest single ‘Thin The Herd‘, a new album, and a headline tour of the US, I spoke to Tim to find out more.

How did the band first form?

Methane formed in 2012, when my brother Dylan moved to Sweden from the US. We had been jamming together for a long time, and we would often talk about starting a band when I would return home to New Jersey from touring, etc.

When he moved over, I was already playing in some Swedish bands (Margrave, Volturyon), but we had a perfect opportunity to start something.

I found out through friends that Jimi, who I had been friends with for a while, and knew was this total shredder of a guitarist, had taken a break from his previous band, so I contacted him to try and coax him into picking up his guitar again, and when me and Dylan explained the sound we wanted to go for, Jimi was on the same wavelength, so I guess you could say it was perfect timing.

Jimi had known Manzone, our original drummer, through playing in local bands, and asked him to sit in while we were songwriting, and he just seemed to fit in.

How did the name Methane come about?

Methane is an explosive gas, and it seemed to best fit our attitude, you know, drink some beer, crank up the guitar, and blow shit up. Also, no other band that we knew of was using the name.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I tend to be inspired mostly by “real-life” themes. Some of our tracks are about life’s tragedies and the mental scars that I carry around, and others are metal songs that are good to have a drink to.

In 2017, you unveiled ‘The Devil’s Own’ – your debut album, which was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. How did you all personally deal with that kind of reaction?

Devil’s‘ was a fun album, and I guess it got us some attention on the underground metal scene, but I really haven’t thought about it that way. We get to meet and interact with new people on our social media platforms, and at gigs, so that’s fantastic. My focus is always on what’s next, and where the band goes next.

Shortly, the band will be bringing out a new single – entitled ‘Thin The Herd’. How did the initial idea for it come about?

Thin The Herd‘ was one of the first songs that we wrote after ‘The Devil’s Own‘, and lyrically, for me, it’s about the mass hysteria of social media. The track came to me while I was culling my Facebookfriends” list, wiping out the unwanted, degenerate attention whores and cry babies.

You know, for some people in the dark, traverse world of the internet, being unfriended on social media can be a fate worse than death.

And the track will be the first to be taken from your soon-to-be-released second album. How has the recording process been for that?

Unfortunately, it’s been a long drawn-out process, and for a while, we didn’t even have a full-time drummer. When we have been touring, Jusso Laukkanen (Intact), a drummer from Finland, has been with us, but it’s impossible to practice and write songs with him, as he lives so far away.

Therefore, in our quest to emulate Spinal Tap, we got Jonas Arnberg (Fimbultyr), who was helping us record and mix the album in his studio, to fill in on drums, and he just killed it every time. He is sick!

 Is there a release date for the album yet?

No, not at the moment. We do have a bunch of songs written and recorded, but all of the details have not been completely ironed out yet.

Also, how will it differ stylistically to ‘The Devil’s Own’?

We have definitely found a sound that crushes anything we have done previously, it’s more brutal, more honest, has more thrash, and also has more of a live feel.

The songs are heavier, which you will be able to hear on ‘Thin The Herd‘, as well as being more aggressive and powerful, however, we haven’t strayed too far from our Southern groove metal style.

The band have toured across much of continental Europe and the US, performed at a number of rock and metal festivals, and have opened for the likes of Warbringer and Nervosa. How were they as experiences?

Wow, yeah, all great experiences! Playing live is what we live for as a band, and getting the opportunity to perform on bigger stages, and scream at larger audiences with killer bands, is a total adrenaline boost for us, especially when you get to meet other musicians like the ladies in Nervosa, who are so cool and down-to-earth. It makes everything worthwhile, and reminds us why we work so hard.

Also, after a couple of live dates in Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia, you’re going to be embarking on a headline US tour, beginning in Hollywood on October 30. I can imagine that’s something everyone in the band is looking forward to. 

Absolutely! We’re going to be co-headlining with our new label mates Incarnit, who are also from Sweden, and at this time of year there, it’s getting dark and cold, and it’s beginning to snow, so getting our frozen bones to Southern California will be perfect.

This tour is just going to mangle people, as we will have I Don’t Konform with us in Arizona and New Mexico, and Draghoria in Colorado, so it’s going to be complete and utter thrash metal mayhem!

And lastly, the band have already achieved much over the last few years. Where would you ideally like Methane to be a couple of years from now?

Our goals are to play bigger and better shows, travel to new places, see new cultures, and drink their beer.

Methane Single Cover

‘THIN THE HERD’ – THE NEW SINGLE FROM METHANE – WILL BE RELEASED NEXT FRIDAY VIA BIG BALLS PRODUCTIONS, AND THE BAND WILL ALSO BE ON TOUR THIS AUTUMN, MORE DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW.

Methane tour poster

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

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SEVEN FLY

Seven Fly band photo

SEVEN FLY (from l-r): Daniel Hancock (guitar), Will Kropfeld (drums), Levi Ruiz (vocals/guitar), Ali Gonzalez (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Florida, known as the US‘s “sunshine state“, Seven Fly are an emerging four-piece who pride themselves on delivering an anthemic, highly-energetic mix of pop-punk and pop-rock which truly reflects their upbeat and carefree attitude to life.

Having recently unveiled a new single – entitled ‘Fever‘ – and a follow-up to last year’s debut EP ‘Grow Up, Kid‘ coming out at some point in the near future, the band told me more about themselves and their music.

How did the band initially form?

We formed just through knowing each other through work and mutual friends!

How did the name Seven Fly come about?

Still to this day, we don’t know how it really came about, one of us kind of just said it one day, and it eventually became written in stone.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

We love modern pop-punk like State Champs and Neck Deep. We’re also influenced by Fall Out Boy and Green Day, as well as a little metalcore, which stems from Daniel and Will.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Actually, every song of ours is different! Sometimes, we will start by writing some lyrics and melody, and other times, we will write a cool jam, and then throw lyrics over it.

What inspires the band lyrically?

We tend to write lyrics about stuff that bothers us, or stays on our minds often. We often write non-rhyming prose, which we will then convert into rhyming schemes/poetry. 

Last year, you brought out your debut EP – entitled ‘Grow Up, Kid’. How was the response to that, for you all personally?

Grow Up, Kid‘ was kind of our first introduction to the music world, and it taught us a lot on all things music and performance.

Recently, the band unveiled ‘Fever’ – their new single. How was its recording process?

The recording process was rather quick, actually. We did it over a few late nights eating fast food and drinking energy drinks, and we just ripped through all of the parts.

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

It’s actually made a few waves, which makes us excited to see how the rest of the new EP will do!

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

We all start off as nervous wrecks, but it becomes fun once the adrenaline kicks in.

Now that the new single has come out, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

We plan to release the rest of the EP, and we’re also going to be bringing out some music videos.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

Long-term, we hope to play festivals, increase our fan base, and just keep the fun going!

Seven Fly Single Cover

‘FEVER’ – THE NEW SINGLE FROM SEVEN FLY – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND’S SECOND EP WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

FURTHER INFO ON SEVEN FLY CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

ROSS ROCCO

Ross Rocco interview photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by DANIEL SLIWA

Inspired by the various different styles and sub-genres of rock, Californian singer-songwriter Ross Rocco aims to reach listeners with an overall message of positivity, in regards to both music and lyrical content.

In addition to his solo work, Ross also performs in two bands, and produces and ghost-writes for a host of musical collectives.

With a new single – entitled ‘Better Days‘ – having recently been released, and currently getting good reviews, I had an in-depth chat with Ross about all of this and more.

What is your earliest musical memory?

I remember way back when I was probably between the ages of eight to 10 years old, I used to have this radio on my dresser and it would always be playing a mix of pop music and 2000’s rock.

I never played an instrument, or even considered it, until many years later, but I was always into music, and I also remember being into Avril Lavigne when she was getting really huge, in her more punk years (laughs).

However, it wasn’t until I was almost 13 when I was listening to Nirvana, and I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the drums, but my dad would always refuse to let me! (laughs)

Was there a specific point in your life when you realised that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician? 

I don’t think that specific point really hit until last December. I mean, I’ve always wanted to play music since I picked up a guitar in middle school, but I was always told how impossible it was, and no-one really drove me to a point when I decided “This is going to be my career” when I was growing up.

After high school, I went to community college with ideas of possibly becoming some sort of electrical engineer, which later on turned into me just following mathematics instead. I hated doing it, but I managed to graduate with a degree! (laughs)

Then late last year, I had a conversation with this guy I met who told me exactly what I had to do to make it in the music industry, and the next day, I just said “This is the career I want“, and so, here I am.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting? 

At this point in my life, I pretty much write every day, especially since I started releasing content weekly on YouTube. I have pretty much been writing songs for about 10 years now, so in that time, I’ve probably accumulated hundreds and hundreds of tracks.

Having written so much, writing a song has become second nature to me, so when I come up with a guitar riff (or any instrument), I’m able to quickly visualise where I want the song to go.

For ‘Better Days‘, my new single, I was initially trying to come up with something that was more pop-punk that I could post online as a video, and I think I wrote a minute of the song immediately after first coming up with it.

The next day, I went to listen back to what I had written, and I thought it sounded super catchy, so I decided to hang onto it and write some more, and having then added lyrics and vocals, I sat on the song for a month or so before I decided to get it professionally recorded.

What inspires you lyrically?

I always try to write lyrics that have meaning to them, whether it’s something from my life that I’m sharing, or how I’m feeling and how I can relate that to a listener.

Once, I think I went into a audition having written lyrics for a song based on a fictional story, but I somehow managed to make it more personal in my mind as I wrote it.

It does get hard sometimes to write lyrics on a personal level, because I always want to say what I want and have strong lyrical content, but it’s hard to transform the way you feel into the right words, and often I will get stuck like that, so I try to write ideas when they come, or while they are fresh in my mind.

You’ve already mentioned how you came up with ‘Better Days’, but how was its recording process?

I worked on it with my friend Dave Escobar, who I have known for a few years now, but up until ‘Better Days‘, I had never got the chance to work with him on my music.

Tracking real drums was also something I hadn’t done before, and I think I initially told Dave that I just wanted him to program the drums, but of course, he was like, “You should track with live drums“, so I reached out on Facebook, and got in touch with another friend of mine, Manny Ventura, who was interested in working on some musical projects, and he absolutely nailed it in the studio, so I decided that never again will I record a song with programmed drums! (laughs)

I also invited Dustin Riggers, my bassist, to track bass, because he always comes through with solid basslines, and generally does a great job.

It was a ton of fun working with Dustin and Manny, and it was also great working with Dave, who I think is an excellent tracking and mixing engineer, which really shows on the track.

And how has the reaction been to the single?

It’s been great so far. Even after I shared the rough mix before the song went in for final revisions with people I had worked with on it, they were all super positive, which honestly, I wasn’t expecting, and I think some people have been surprised to see how straightforward and simple ‘Better Days‘ is, in comparison to the songs that I usually write, record, and release! (laughs)

In addition to your solo career, you perform in two bands – Mind Elsewhere, and Falling With Style – and you also produce and ghost-write for a host of musical outfits. For you personally, how is it working for yourself in comparison to being part of a collective?

It’s always going to be a struggle to work within a group, even if it’s just with one other person, as you have a bunch of people with different ideas, opinions, and influences who all have to compromise in order for everything to really work, and that’s even the case with Falling With Style, who are a full covers band.

I always find writing solo to be much easier, even if it’s writing an idea for a band, for example, bringing ideas to practice, as it’s less on-the-spot, and it’s the one thing that I’m most used to doing.

However, sometimes, if I get stuck on a part of a song I’m writing, it can be easier to be around other musicians and ask them for suggestions on how to make it better, or where to take it from that certain point.

Even with being a solo artist, I tend to meet up with Manny and Dustin to rehearse, and I will often ask their opinion, so I can give some room for others to lay down creativity, despite the fact that it is my work.

Sometimes, Manny will come up with some amazing, catchy fills, and Dustin will bring in very fitting basslines, and I encourage them to be themselves, as otherwise, it would become stale if I told them how to play their instruments.

For me, though, I will always enjoy writing a song by myself, as I won’t have to worry about what is going to change, or about trying to convince someone that an idea I have is a good one, but as far as ghost-writing or being a studio musician, I always enjoy helping people to grow musically, and it’s a great feeling being able to do so, as I enjoy challenging myself as a songwriter.

Now that ‘Better Days’ has come out, what are your plans for the rest of 2019?

I would really like to see where ‘Better Days‘ goes, and how it resonates with both current and new fans of my music, compared to some of the heavier songs that I’ve done before.

Continuing as Ross Rocco, and writing and releasing new material, I’m pushing myself to go down a more alternative musical path, and I’m finding myself becoming more influenced by the dark pop of Halsey, and the alternative rock of newer Thrice and PVRIS.

I’m also working on doing some acoustic performances, and I will soon be bringing in some new material that I’m currently writing, which hasn’t been released yet.

And lastly, as a solo artist, what is your long-term aim?

To always be challenging and pushing myself musically, writing music that I’ve never written before, and I think it would be amazing to be able to go out and perform songs that I have written, whether it’s on a local, national, or even global scale.

My whole musical life, I’ve wanted to be able to write music that people can not only enjoy, but be able to understand and relate to in the best or worst of times, so my goal is to just continue writing music, and making sure that I put out my best possible work each and every time.

Ross Rocco Single Cover

‘BETTER DAYS’ – THE NEW SINGLE FROM ROSS ROCCO – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON ROSS CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

THE COVASETTES

The Covasettes band photo

THE COVASETTES (from l-r): Matt Hewlett (guitar/vocals), Chris Buxton (vocals/guitar), Jamie McIntyre (bass/vocals), Matt Buckley (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Having already unveiled a string of acclaimed single releases, played at the Tramlines festival, and supported The Sherlocks, 2019 has seen rapidly-rising Manchester indie-rock quartet The Covasettes build on this momentum further with a successful first UK headline tour, and a well-received debut EP.

Now, with the band all set for another tour of Britain, I felt the time was right to speak to their frontman Chris Buxton, and the following is what he had to say:

How did the band get together?

We all met at university in Manchester! Unfortunately, no love story will be uncovered today.

How did the name The Covasettes come about?

Matt came up with it on a bus, and in turn, it has become more than just a name and more of a way of life. To be or not to be a Covasette, that is the question.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I write all the songs on my own; which is rather spiritual and then I’ll take them to Hewlett to add some tasty lead lines which is always an exciting time.

We then take said song to practice where Matt and Jamie will add drums and bass, and this is usually the point where we realise that we’ve written yet another banger.

Spotify playlists, here we come.

What inspires you lyrically?

In truth, I never really know what a song is about until it’s finished, I just write about things/events which have happened to me or around me, and go from there. I never like to think or try too hard about them, because weirdly they come out insincere if i do that.

Most songs seem to have a darker undertone to them, which always goes under the radar, so I’m pretty pleased with that!

In July, you unveiled ‘It’s Always Sunny Above The Clouds’ – your debut EP. How was the recording process for that?

Long, really long, but we enjoyed it. It was done in our house – in Jamie’s bedroom – and we’ve ended up with a product which we’re so proud of.

And how – for the band – was the reaction to the release?

Organically, it was great, as everyone got behind it and seemed to really enjoy it, and that’s all we could have asked for, but we’re still chipping away, and hopefully this tour will kickstart a few things.

Having already played at the Tramlines festival, as well as supporting The Sherlocks, earlier this year, you embarked on your first UK headline tour. How was that as an experience?

It was unreal, as all of a sudden, three years of graft and hard work seemed to make sense, and the songs seemed to be “working“, so that was great.

We don’t have time to reflect too much though, as it’s on to the next tour, and we have some big things planned!

The band will shortly be doing another headline tour of the UK. How is it – for you all – performing on stage?

We love it, as it’s where we feel most at home, and the crowds are getting bigger and bigger each time. It’s our job, so I’d be worried if the guys didn’t like it.

Tour aside, what are your plans for the near future?

Did someone say “new music“?

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

To keep going.

THE COVASETTES WILL SHORTLY BE EMBARKING ON A NEW UK HEADLINE TOUR, MORE DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:

The Covasettes tour poster

The Covasettes EP Cover

AND THE BAND’S DEBUT EP – ENTITLED ‘IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY ABOVE THE CLOUDS – IS AVAILABLE NOW.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

SKARLETT RIOT

Skarlett Riot band photo

SKARLETT RIOT (from l-r): Dan Oglesby (guitar/vocals), Martin Shepherd (bass/vocals), Skarlett (vocals/guitar), Luke Oglesby (drums)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Since forming seven years ago, Skarlett Riot have pushed themselves to the forefront of the UK modern rock and metal scenes with an anthemic sound that has been consistently developed and honed, relatable lyrical content, and a unique, passionate vocal delivery.

The Lincolnshire quartet’s second album – 2017’s ‘Regenerate‘ – was a hit with critics and fans alike, and their stock has risen even higher this year with a string of well-received live performances and festival appearances.

With the band all set to make an impact when they play in Sweden and the Netherlands shortly, frontwoman Skarlett spoke to me about Skarlett Riot‘s journey up to now, and much more.

How did the band first form?

Skarlett Riot officially formed in 2012. Me and Dan were school friends, and Luke is Dan‘s brother. We started jamming out our favourite cover songs, and then we decided to start writing our own music.

How did the name Skarlett Riot come about?

We wanted the band name to represent having a female in the band, so Skarlett simply represents the female, and Riot represents the guys!

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We don’t have a specific formula, but it works for us to have our guitarist come up with an initial idea, riff, and chorus, and then I will add some vocal melody over the top. We then take this taster to the guys, and jam out a few ideas until something sets which we are all happy with!

What inspires the band lyrically?

A lot of ‘Regenerate‘ was written about depression and anxiety, battling through the hard times, and turning negatives into positives.

I like to write honest lyrics about my personal experiences and struggles, and I’ve had so many people telling me my lyrics have helped them through a hard time, especially our song ‘Warrior‘, which was written about being bullied and keeping your head held high, and to me, if my lyrics help others, then my job is done well.

‘Regenerate’ saw a harder, faster, and heavier side to the band’s sound. What were your reasons for going down that musical route? And how did the band’s fan base respond to that?

We felt we had matured more musically with ‘Regenerate‘, and we naturally felt the need to progress heavier. We had been through some heavy and dark times in our personal lives, and as a band, so we needed to express this with our music and get it out.

The response has been amazing from press, fans etc, and it gave us a fresher sound, which I think it’s what we needed to develop ourselves further.

You have performed at venues and festivals across much of the UK, including Camden Rocks, and most recently, the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham. How is the experience – for the band – of playing live on stage?

Playing live is the best feeling, as no matter what you’re going through, or how you’re feeling, all that disappears when you’re on stage, as the adrenaline takes over, making you feel powerful and happy!

I can always rely on the fans to pick me up, as we are one big family, and it’s all about getting lost in the moment and having fun.

The band have a couple of live dates in Sweden and the Netherlands lined up. I can imagine that is something you’re all looking forward to.

We can’t wait! When we play in Sweden, it will also be the first time that we’ve met our label (Despotz Records), and that’s something we’re all excited about.

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

Towards the back end of the year, we will be concentrating on writing again, and making plans for a new release.

SKARLETT RIOT WILL BE PLAYING DATES IN THE UK, SWEDEN, AND THE NETHERLANDS THIS AUTUMN, MORE ON WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW.

Skarlett Riot tour poster

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

YOUTUBE

A CHAT WITH SASHA & THE SHADES

Sasha And The Shades band photo

by ZAK SLOMAN

Today, emerging London six-piece Sasha & The Shades have unveiled a new track –
entitled ‘Echoes‘ – which is the first in what will be a series of single releases over
the next few months, and represents another step in a musical journey that began
with a reunion at a gig celebrating frontman Sasha Adamczewski‘s 21st birthday.

I had been studying for a degree in fine art, so I hadn’t seen Tom (Julian-Jones,
guitarist) – who I have been mates with since primary school – for a while“, recalls
Sasha, “I knew that he had been in a couple of blues trios, and when I watched him
play, I was so inspired by how far he had come, in regards to both his sound, and how much fun he seemed to be having on stage performing within a group of musicians.”

After meeting again, the two old friends began to regularly rehearse together, and it
would be during one of those occasions that they would decide on their sonic direction.

Tom knew that I had been writing and playing my own material from a young age, so he suggested that we take some of the strongest material from my back catalogue,
and re-arrange it so it was more suitable to perform with a band.”

They took that idea to a friend of Sasha‘s family who worked in the music industry,
who in turn introduced them to producer Sean Read, who would go on to play a vital role in the band’s odyssey.

Joined by two session musicians, the fledgling collective recorded a three-track
demo, which was then sent to indie label Rough Trade Records, who liked it, but
decided not to pursue their interest in them any further after watching the outfit
play live.

After this rejection, Sasha and Tom both realised that in order to push themselves
further, they would have to make a few adjustments.

With a couple of departures and arrivals, what had been a four-piece became the
current sextet, who then worked hard on enhancing a sound that is rooted in blues-rock and Americana, but also embraces a diverse range of musical genres, as well as developing a stage presence that is atmospheric, powerful, and energetic.

Armed with this attributes, the band began to make an impact on the London underground music scene, also receiving acclaim from critics and fans alike for thought-provoking lyrical content containing themes spanning from mental health to Brexit.

This has culminated in the six-piece performing at this year’s Camden Rocks Festival, as well as in Paris, where they will be playing again after a set at the upcoming Left Of The Dial festival in the Netherlands.

However, despite all of this positivity, Sasha says there is still so much left for him
and his bandmates to achieve.

We want to break further into the blues-rock/Americana scene, we also want to
tour the rest of the UK and Europe, and we also want to keep writing new music, and
we hope we manage to do all of that before the world completely turns to shit.”

Sasha And The Shades Single Cover

‘ECHOES’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM SASHA & THE SHADES – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

SASHA & THE SHADES

Sasha And The Shades band photo

SASHA & THE SHADES (back row, from l-r): Arthur Palmer (keyboards/accordion/vocals), Sam Rutland (bass/vocals), Tom Julian-Jones (lead guitar/harmonica), Paul Winter-Hart (drums) (front row, from l-r): Sasha Adamczewski (vocals/rhythm guitar), Eli Rose (vocals)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

The atmospheric sound of emerging London six-piece Sasha & The Shades may be rooted in blues-rock and Americana, however, the band embrace a diverse range of genres, including punk and folk, and this is effectively reflected in their lyrical content, with themes spanning from mental health to the world of politics.

With an eagerly-anticipated new single – entitled ‘Echoes‘ – coming out this Friday, frontman Sasha Adamczewski spoke to me in-depth about that, the collective’s journey so far, future ambitions, and much more.

How did the band initially form?

I had been studying for a degree in fine art, and when I had finished that, it was close to my 21st birthday, so I decided, rather than throw a party, I would put on a gig, and get as many of my musical mates that were up for playing to perform.

One of them was Tom, who has been a friend of mine since primary school, and at the time, he had been in a couple of blues trios. I saw him play, and I was so inspired by how far he had come with his sound, and how much fun he seemed to be having on stage as part of a band, that pretty much straight after that, we started to hang out and rehearse with each other again.

Having known each other since we were kids, Tom knew that I had been writing, playing, and singing my own material from a young age, so he suggested that we take some of the strongest parts of my back catalogue, and re-arrange it, so it was more fun and suitable to perform with a band.

Going back to the birthday gig, and also there was Johnny Mac, who has been a family friend – and has worked in the music industry – for years, and he was super keen to get me to be more active in regards to my music, so he introduced myself and Tom to a producer, Sean Read, who in turn introduced us to two session musicians, Ali Friend and Daisy Palmer, who unfortunately are no longer in the band.

We all then recorded a three-track demo, which Johnny then sent over to Rough Trade Records, who despite loving the record, decided not to further pursue their interest in us after seeing one of our live sets.

After that, we decided to work on improving our stage performances, as well as producing more new material, and each time we got another opportunity, we grabbed it with both hands.

Now, we are a six-piece, who can best be described as a patchwork of old and new friends, who are all top musicians, and are also some of the kindest people that I have ever met.

How did the name Sasha & The Shades come about?

The Shades are a big part of it. It was very much Tom’s suggestion, and he made references towards a blues band he really liked. However, I think there is a strong metaphor within it as well – for how much the band and frontperson need each other, to make it a more captivating performance.

Actually, the best frontwomen and men are the best because they have the tightest group behind them who create the standard of playing and communication on stage, which allows for all individuals to perform without thinking about what they are doing and come together as a group.

It’s a standard and space that we are constantly trying to get to, as well as a debate that fascinates, as both do well from stepping out of and into each other’s shadows.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I think it’s really mixed. When we started, as I have said before, it was a question of using of my own back catalogue of songs, and then re-arranging these with the band.

However, it’s now reached a really exciting point where everyone within the group – particularly Eli and Arthur – are contributing to this process, and naturally the band want to be involved in the writing process and share their own ideas from the start.

Generally as a rule, Eli and myself will meet, and I will have written the basis of chords and sections for the song, then we’ll do the lyrics, which, depending on which one of us wants to lead, I might have written more or less lyrics myself.

We’ll then sort out the harmonies and where they fit together, and then once it’s laid out, we’ll start rehearsing in the studio with rest of the lads, and we always want to make sure that it utilises the range of instrumentation there is to offer within the group, and most importantly has enough light, shade, and dynamics.

What inspires the band lyrically?

That’s probably my favourite question, as there are so many ways into writing lyrics and our sound, which currently has the freedom to go in whatever direction it feels, and we try not to limit ourselves in what we are prepared to talk about.

There are the great fantasists and storytellers such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, there is what’s going on inside of you and one’s own mental health, and both ‘Echoes‘ and ‘Paint the Sky‘ are good examples of this.

Obviously, there is the political side of things, and we put out a song in May this year, called ‘Who Are You In Bed With‘, which is about Grenfell Tower and the fire that happened there in 2017, and then there are also relationships and compromises and changes that are required for these to exist or not.

You have just brought out a video for your upcoming single, entitled ‘Echoes’. How has the immediate reaction been to it?

It’s been really good. We have been working with Ben Willmott from New Build PR, who has been really helpful, we’ve also had a couple of bits of press, and most recently, we did an interview with Gigslutz about the band and new single. We also had Chris Patmore give the video and track a share and mention on his podcast for Joyzine Podcast Alliance on Mixcloud.

Before that, the music video for ‘Echoes‘ received Video Of The Week by God Is In the TV, and it was premiered by Americana UK.

And the track is the first in what will be a series of single releases over the next few months. How was the recording process for them?

It was really fun, as the band and myself have been working with Sean Reed for the last couple of years, and we always enjoy his setup and studio. With mixing and mastering, it took about just over two weeks, so it was quite an intense turnaround at the start and some long days in there as well, but it was all worth it in the end.

Most importantly, although the tracks are all quite different, and are about quite a mix of subjects, it felt like we really came out of the studio this time with a much more defined and connected band sound.

Also, what can be expected from the new songs?

An even bigger soundscape, as we really embraced a mix of instruments we now have within the group, with highlights including some really nice harmonica solos from Tom, as well as some accordion playing by Arthur.

Also, there has been a shift in the vocals, as it was really important this time round to show how Eli’s vocals and role has moved on from just a backing vocals capacity, and ‘Echoes‘ is a strong example of this.

However, ‘Girls‘ – which will be the last of our single releases, and that will be out on November 15 – is probably the most obvious incarnation of the band’s more partnership-based vocal style, as it is a hilarious but poignant look at sexual politics, with myself and Eli firing verbal salvos at each other from both sides of the gender divide.

The band have performed at various venues across London, in Paris, and played at the Camden Rocks festival earlier this summer. How were they as experiences?

There were all great experiences, with Paris being a particular highlight of ours, as we played at a really cool venue called Le Truskel for our friend Malina Malgan, who runs a great night called PrettyMalina presents Parisian High over there.

The Camden Rocks festival has been on my list as a thing I’ve wanted to be able to say I’ve done with the band for a while, so it was great to finally be able to do it, and I do like gigging in London, as there is an amazing network of people that we get to meet through gigging within it.

Last summer, we also played a festival in Belgium called La Truite Magique, and we are going back to Rotterdam soon to play at a festival called Left Of The Dial, and actually, we’re hoping to make a mini-tour of it by doing Paris with Malina again the night before we do that.

And how is it being on stage overall?

It’s the one place where life makes sense, and it is also the best high that you can possibly get, as it’s better than any induced effect or feeling that alcohol or drugs can give you, but equally as a result, when it does not work out, it can have a rather severe comedown.

However, I work in a kitchen full-time, alongside doing the music, to be able to pay for it all, and the hours can be quite unforgiving, as it can be 60+ hours a week sometimes, and therefore you’ve got to grab every moment the music hands you, so we just try to have fun with it and keep it real.

Singles and European dates aside, what have you got planned for the near future?

We’ve got friends with connections in Amsterdam, so we are currently putting pressure on the booking agent who is from an agency called Trying Your Luck to find some other bits.

However for next summer, we definitely want to try and get out to Europe a bit more and do some serious touring there, because despite loving the people you meet through the London gigging scene, there is a real generosity and fairness on the European festival scene, which does just not exist in the same way across quite a lot of the UK, particularly in London, where things are so competitive that until you’re someone, you really are no-one.

That said, there are definitely some other cities within the UK that myself and the band would like to spend some more time in and have connections to.

There is some brilliant stuff going on in Manchester, as I know of some really good bands from there through the south London scene, and Eli knows the former bassist for the Arctic Monkeys, who still lives in Sheffield, and runs music nights in the city, so we’re hoping to get something there.

I also would love for the band to be doing far more within the blues-rock/Americana scene, as the line-up for the Black Deer Festival this year looked pretty amazing, and so we would really want to do that next year.

My brother Saul – who is in the Fat White Family – is also good friends with a band I am a huge fan of called Daddy Long Legs, so we’re hoping to maybe do some touring or even gigging with them.

Also, they are slightly of a different genre, but I’m good friends with Gabi Garbutt And The Illuminations, as Sean Reed is that group, and they’re making some great stuff at the moment, so we’re hoping to do some gigs with them soon.

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

In addition to what I have just said, we are currently unsigned, and we don’t really have any form of management, so we’re on the lookout for that, we want to keep writing new music, and we hope that we can make it before the world completely turns to shit.

Sasha And The Shades Single Cover

‘ECHOES’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM SASHA & THE SHADES – WILL BE RELEASED THIS FRIDAY, WITH MORE TRACK RELEASES TO COME OVER THE NEW FEW MONTHS, AND FURTHER INFO ON THIS – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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