Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Hawxx, 3 February 2019

You may not have heard of Hawxx.  I myself wasn’t familiar with them, until I saw them perform in support of Salvation Jayne at the ‘Lady Luck’ in Canterbury late last year.  This female foursome of raucous rockers reside in London and they’re ready to grab the music world by the short and curlies, taking no prisoners along the way.  They were happy to chat about their biggest influences, their clear love of all things foody and the fact that love really is a bitch.  Read on for more insights …

Queen of Rock: Why the name ‘HAWXX’?

Hannah: We love a bird of prey but Eagles was taken and XX symbolises the female chromosome.

Hawxx logo
QoR: Summarise your journey so far; who are HAWXX and how did you get here?

Anna: The band is made up of myself on vocals and guitar, Hannah on guitar and backing vocals, Iman on bass and backing vocals and Jessica on drums. We come from all over; I’m from Greece, Hannah is from Wales, Iman is from Bahrain and Jessica is from Sussex.

The band started at the beginning of 2018. I met Hannah when she was working at Alaska Studios in Waterloo. I lured her in for a jam and that’s where the band was born. Shortly after, we met Iman and then Jess. We’re really lucky that we all work so well together; we have such good chemistry, both musically and in terms of how absolutely insane we all are. We started off gigging as much as we could while writing songs along the way and in November, we ended up working with the amazing producer Larry Hibbit (Hundred Reasons, Marmozets, Nothing but Thieves) for our first single … and it’s about to drop!

QoR: What’s your creative process? Do you all write together? How do you find inspiration for new songs?

Anna: One of the things I love about the band is that there is a relaxed and open minded environment when it comes to writing songs – we all write together. Usually how it works is that one of us will bring an idea to rehearsal (whether that be a riff, bass line or even a fully formed song) and then we will take it on and carry it through to the end all together! In terms of inspiration, I think all our songs are very direct, [they are] about real life situations – whether personal or political. We have songs that span from giving the finger to institutionalised religion, the deterioration of the NHS, how love’s a bitch (COMING SOON!), when your mind gets trapped in dark places and not existing for anybody’s pleasure.

QoR: Tell us about the debut single, ‘Love’s A Bitch’

Anna: ‘Love’s A Bitch’ drops on February 14th as an anti-Valentines Day anthem. The track is about an all-or-nothing attitude to love and the fight to connect with those we love.  I wrote the lyrics to this song when I was in Mexico in 2017 and I was fighting with my boyfriend. I felt such a pull between wanting to get up and leave but also such strong love that I would do anything to fight for it and make it work, hence the chorus, “The dogs of love fight to the death.” By complete coincidence, a couple of days later I watched the movie ‘Amores Perros’, which means ‘Love’s a bitch’ – a film about love AND dog fighting! I knew that we had to call the track ‘Love’s A Bitch’.

QoR: Who are your musical idols and how did they influence you to write music?

Jess: My influences are endless! I’m really into the blues/rock and ‎psychedelic bands from the 60’s and 70’s. Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker are two of my drumming heroes. I also love Lightning Bolt and anything super creative and a bit mental!

Iman: Deftones for the overall sound, Bjork for her innovation, Ani DiFranco for her direct brashness.

Anna: Currently Anna Calvi – I’ve always resonated with her being a female guitarist and been in love with her music, but then I went to see her live in June and it changed my life. I’d never seen anybody with such power on stage before. Also Kate Tempest and Patti Smith.

Hannah: Metallica are probably my biggest influence as they were my gateway ‘drug’ into heavy music – I like the way they have different sounds, from thrash tracks to ballads, to the collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony … there’s more than one way to do ‘heavy’.

QoR: What’s been your biggest highlight so far?

Anna: Recording our debut single with Larry Hibbit was a great achievement. We couldn’t be happier with the choice of producer for our first single and we are so happy with how it’s sounding. We can’t wait to share it!!

Hannah: Also playing KOKO in Camden! Didn’t think we’d be able to do that in the first year of our career. It felt amazing to have that much space on stage and feel Jess’ double kicks in your chest! Also the absolutely massive stack of Domino’s Pizza waiting for us in the green room after.

Hawxx in live action
Photo © Aaron Thompson

QoR: Being an all female band, have you encountered issues with discrimination and prejudice?

Iman: I’ve been told, “I play bass with the skill and conviction of a man” (apparently female bassists lack conviction and skill).

Jess: I have also been told that I play like a man as a compliment!

Anna: I remember talking to a professional male musician about HAWXX right at the beginning and he said, “You’re an all female band? You’ve got to be careful with that though because it could come across as gimmicky.” When I pointed out that you wouldn’t say that about an all male band, there was a long pause and some head scratching, but we’ve been pretty pleased with how these moments have then turned into respect after we perform.

QoR: Whats the most important thing a band can do to kickstart their career?

Hannah: When you find out, can you tell us please?

QoR: If you had to pick one festival to perform at, which one would you choose?

Hawxx: Download.

QoR: If the world was ending one hour from now, how would you spend your last 60 minutes?

Hannah: Is it definitely ending? While hiding under a desk (as is the advice for earthquakes and nuclear threats), I’d try to remember all the survival knowledge I’ve gained from watching Bear Grylls and ‘Walking Dead’, in case I survived.

Iman: I would probably spend the last 60 minutes getting as high as possible whilst riding a Harley around the countryside at top speed … and I’d give my mum a hug.

Jess: I’d probably just eat lots of ice cream.

Anna: I’d quite like to jump on Iman’s Harley – it sounds fun, as long as we can stop at Spice Village in Tooting for a curry. We could pick up Jess on the way and bring a takeaway to your desk, Hannah.

QoR:  Couple of ‘quick fire’ questions …
Download or Bloodstock?

Hannah: Download, baby … wouldn’t kick Bloodstock out of bed though.

QoR: PowerPlay or Metal Hammer?

Hannah: I’m directly quoting from my neck tattoo … ‘PowerPlay all the way’.

QoR: Greta van Fleet or Rival Sons?

Iman: They can fight to the death for my vote.

QoR: Jager or Fireball?

Hannah: Fireball actually; I haven’t ruined it as a drink by being horrifically hungover after [drinking] it.

Jess: HAWXX tend to enjoy red wine and olives.

QoR: Cheese or chocolate?

Hannah: If I can’t have both then I won’t bother hiding under the desk and trying to survive five questions ago …

Hawxx
Photo © Adam Razvi

You can catch Hawxx at: –

Fighting Cocks, Kingston – 16 February
New Cross Inn, London – 17 February
Esquires, Bedford – 22 February
Lot 7 , Ashford – 28 February

Watch ‘The Death of Silence (Live)’ from Hawxx’ gig at The Monarch in Camden, 17 January 2019 © Dan Maguire, via YouTube

Thank you for reading!  

 

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, a.k.a Queen of Rock.  No part of this review must be reproduced, either in part or in full, without the express and explicit permission to do so.  Failure to observe this will result in a report to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.

 

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Interview: Brian Tatler of Diamond Head

Diamond Head logo

Recently we got excited over the news that British NWOBHM legends, Diamond Head, are to embark on a European tour this autumn.  Never one to miss an opportunity, I managed to catch up with Brian Tatler,  guitarist and co-founder of the band to talk about how influential their music has been and what he is looking forward to the most about touring again.

Brian Tatler
Brian Tatler performing at Amplified Festival, 2017 –

 Picture courtesy of Chris White @ Dirty Rock Photography

Queen of Rock: How are you feeling about the upcoming UK/Europe tour?  Do you have any favourite venues or cities on the list?

Brian Tatler: It’s a very long tour, it will be the longest European tour I have ever done. There are about forty dates now. I am looking forward to it and looking forward to playing some new territories for Diamond Head like Zandaam, Flensburg, Bochum, Potsdam, Krakow, Poznan, Budapest, Turin, Zaragoza etc. My favourite venues on the list are a tie between The Robin – Bilston, La Belle Angelle – Edinburgh and The 1865 – Southampton. I like Barcelona and Madrid as vibrant cities.

QoR: What’s the most enjoyable thing about touring and making music now that you’re older and wiser?

BT: That’s a tough question. It’s not really more enjoyable now. In the beginning it’s all very exciting. My first gig, my first festival, my first tour, my first trip abroad, all super exciting. Now I have done all that some thirty-five years ago, it’s more a case of going to new countries and staying in nice hotels (with a pool, hopefully).  I have learnt many things about life on the road. I like to eat two to three hours before a show so I can digest the food. I have to warm up before I play, so often sit in the dressing room for up to an hour before show time. I like to mix the set up whenever possible as it’s easy to get stuck on a set that you know works; having a few different tunes in the set helps to keep it fresh. It’s nothing like as glamorous as I thought it would be.  It’s important to eat healthily, I like Italian food but sometimes on the road the only thing open at 2am is McDonald’s and I can only eat so many filet ‘o’ fish. Recording is much cheaper now than it used to be, we can do it all ourselves and pay for it ourselves. That takes a lot of pressure off and allows a freedom to create what we want with no outside influence. Also, we are better players now and can get ideas across and onto tape quicker.

QoR: What three things could you not live without whilst you’re on tour?

BT: I could not live without food or sleep so that’s two … sorry, I am being pedantic. A book, I like to read on tour it helps pass the longer hours spent in vans. I like to have music on in the van so [I] take CDs. I need my phone to call home and often it’s a lifeline to what’s going on, also very useful to send messages like ‘sound check is at 5.30pm’. I can do emails on my new phone so I try to keep up with press and guest lists, etc.

QoR: If someone had told you back in 1980, when ‘Lightning To The Nations’ was released, that you would still be touring and making music 38 years later, what would have been your reaction?

BT: Disbelief, I could not see myself still making albums and touring in my 50s. I remember in 1981 thinking we may only do four albums because we will run out of song ideas. I never saw Diamond Head as a long-term musical career, my perception was that bands are young and full of fire, that their time was short and sweet. The Rolling Stones really have set a precedent, in that rock and roll musicians can continue as long as they wish to. Rock till you drop!

Diamond Head band pic

QoR: Album number eight is on the way later this year; how was the writing and recording process? You’ve toured a lot recently – was it written on the road or did you lock yourselves away and just do it?

BT: I cannot write on the road. I like to be at home when working on ideas. I make home demos on my ProTools LE rig, I play them to Ras and he selects which ones we work on. He will filter out songs that he thinks he can get a vocal melody to and ones that have a certain Diamond Head style. For this album I went down to Ras’s home studio in Acton several times and we made new demos of many of the songs before going into rehearsal. Once in rehearsal we all learn the songs and do any re-arranging and adding new parts. Ras records all the rehearsals and listens to them at home, slowly working on lyrics.

QoR: What is your favourite DH album so far, and why? 

BT: I still like ‘Lightning To The Nations’, it’s full of good songs and has loads of ideas. Diamond Head play six songs live even now from that debut album. We play more songs from LTTN than from any of the others. I also like ‘Death & Progress’ from 1993; it’s very well produced and Sean is on great form. I also like our last release, ‘Diamond Head’ from 2016. It’s a re-birth for the band, everything came together quite painlessly and the album was very well received by both fans and press alike.  That was very satisfying after such a long spell away from the studio.

QoR: If you had to pick three DH songs to introduce a new fan to your music, which would you choose and why?

BT: I would pick 1) ‘Am I Evil?’ – it has great dynamics, it lasts 7 minutes 40 seconds and is an epic that takes the listener on a journey, that song took a long time to write and is still our biggest song.  2) ‘Bones‘ from the self-titled album. It has a great vocal from Ras and is an interesting song, we always play this one live. I remember when it came together in the rehearsal room, we were literally jumping up and down, it was very exciting, it felt like we had the lead track for the album.  3) ‘In The Heat Of The Night‘ is another live favourite that I always enjoy playing, it has a triplet groove and a different feel to a lot of the other faster songs. Unlike a lot of Diamond Head songs it does not rely on a riff, it’s just chords and a great melody.

QoR: Are you proud that Diamond Head was such a major influence on some of the biggest bands of our time, such as Metallica, Megadeth, etc?

BT: Of course, it’s a great feeling to know that you have been influential to the next generation of bands and players. The Diamond Head legacy was given huge credibility by both Metallica and Megadeth. They have helped spread the name to all four corners of the globe. It works both ways, Diamond Head inspired them and in return we have been able to continue making music and playing shows all over the world.

QoR: It’s unusual for a band to achieve such longevity with only seven albums released over such a long time span.  To what do you attribute your ongoing popularity?

BT: The songs still sound good now, whenever we play live the crowds respond to the songs. Diamond Head never sold that many records but the songs live on. Metallica have performed ‘Am I Evil?’ on stage more times than I have.

QoR: You’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, how do you feel about the current direction of the music industry and rock/metal genre specifically?

BT: Heavy metal is much more popular now than it used to be. Whole festivals, magazines and web sites [are] devoted to the genre. I feel a lot of the new bands sound the same or are trying to sound like whatever is popular. I hear lots of bands that sound like Metallica or Iron Maiden. I see lots of bands that are using image to get noticed rather than the music. Music is faster and darker than it used to be, guitars with eight strings tuned down to low A, drummers with double kick pedals using them in every song from the start of the show, I feel this leaves nowhere else to go. One of the many things I love about Led Zeppelin was their brilliant use of dynamics, not many bands do that now, they seem scared to go soft in case they lose the crowd. I see lots of metal fans who just want to mosh, as long as it’s fast, heavy and angry then they love it. Nothing wrong with that but that’s not how it used to be.

QoR: What does the future hold for Diamond Head?

BT: Right now the new album is mixed but we have to master it and finalise artwork. We have a forty date European tour starting at the end of September. We have to rehearse songs from the new album to play live, we have not really rehearsed the new songs since they were recorded, we have to learn how to play them live and then see if they work. We are still working on getting a record deal and expect the new album to be released early 2019 so more touring in support of that will be necessary.

QoR: Thanks very much for answering my questions – do you have anything else that you would like to say to readers?

BT: Come and see Diamond Head, all the dates are on the web site.

You can also see full tour dates on my Diamond Head tour preview post here

Link to the original Diamond Head version of ‘Am I Evil?’

Thank you to Brian Tatler and also to Natalie Conway of TAG Publicity.

 

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, Queen of Rock.  Photograph of Brian Tatler is the property of Chris White, Dirty Rock Photography.  No part of this interview must be reproduced, either in part or full, without the express and explicit permission to do so. Failure to observe this will result in you being reported to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.

 

Interview: Chantel McGregor

So.  Hands up who has been waiting for this one for a while?  It’s been, as Machine Head would say, all about the blood, the sweat, the tears …

For one reason and another, it has taken me way too long to produce this, mainly because I am trying to fit too much in.  Studying, working full-time and living life to the full, because you never know what is around the corner.  It’s also because I decided to do this one differently and put it up online as a video, with pictures from Chris, my partner in rock shenanigans.  I’ve never been so frustrated trying to produce something, and all I can say is, thank goodness for the Audacity programme – it saved my life!

So, here is the interview – I really hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it (!) and feel free to feed back, either here or on YouTube.  Share, share and share again!  Thanks for your interest, as ever and a BIG thank you to Chantel for putting up with my inane questions and being charming and gracious as usual.

**** Look out for the Fragile Things interview, also coming soon on YouTube (when I’ve submitted my latest OU assignment!) ****

http://www.chantelmcgregor.com/

http://www.dirtyrockphotography.com

 

Interview: Massive Wagons – 12/10/17

I recently had the good fortune to catch up with Baz Mills, vocalist of band-of-the-moment, Massive Wagons.  Grab yourself a brew, put your feet up and have a right good read …

 

massive wagons logo

 

Queen of Rock – How did you decide on the band name?

Baz Mills – Haha, the classic, age-old band name question.  Ay, well firstly I can categorically confirm it’s nowt to do with wagons big or small!  A lot of the early band meets, including the session from whenst this whole band idea originated, were held at our local, the Station Hotel in their back room drinking hole, and said hole had a rather  (there’s no way of saying this without sounding crass) ‘well formed’ young lady serving the drinks, if you catch my drift, it was our code name for her.  Rather childish, I realise  but there you go, she is a good friend of ours and digs the fact, you really don’t wanna hear the other options we had!

QoR – If you were introducing someone to your music, which two tracks would you pick and why?

BM – Hmmm, tough one.  I think it would have to be something classic and something new; I think the first track would be ‘Fight The System‘ – it really was the bands signature tune for a long time, seemed to be a real crowd fave too.  We just kick up a notch when playing it live, and I think when we wrote it, we knew then we had something going with the band, it’s a real milestone track.  Secondly I’d say ‘Back To The Stack‘, we wrote it for the late, great Rick Parfitt; the news of his death was a real kick in the spuds, he was an icon, still is.  We felt he’s given us enough great times over the years so the least we could do is write a song in his memory; we released it and it’s absolutely been the most successful track we’ve put out, every penny goes to the Teenage Cancer Trust, it was picked up by Planet Rock and embraced by the hardcore Quo fans.  We simply couldn’t have asked for more.

QoR – What’s your favourite track to perform live?

BM – Haha, I’ve a few! ‘Fight The System‘ and ‘Black Witch‘ have always been faves of mine live,  but currently I’d say ‘Back To The Stack‘ or ‘Fe Fi‘, both are really fun to go bananas to.  I’ve a feeling some of these brand new ones will become favourites – we’ve written a song called ‘China Plates‘ which I love rehearsing.

QoR – Do you have a favourite venue or city that feels like ‘home’?

BM – Anywhere at all with a good stage and good sound, and as long as whoever is there is enjoying it, then it’s all I care about.  As for cities, we amazingly seem to have been taken to the heart of a lot of places, but for me personally, I couldn’t separate Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester or Belfast, guaranteed party time in any of those places!

QoR – How did the Lancaster Library gig come to fruition?

BM – Lancaster is our home city, we haven’t done anything there for quite a while now.  There is a mega rock boozer there [which is] aptly named  ‘The Pub’ and we have played dozens of gigs there over the years.  I think all rock bands have a kind of spiritual home, well that’s ours, but we wanted to play a homecoming gig on a larger scale; Lancaster has a rich history in rock gigs, the University back in the day had Queen, Slade and The Clash, but sadly the great hall gigs are no more.  I mean, we didn’t want to put anything on of that scale, but just wanted to kick things up the arse a bit and try bring some big riff music back to the heart of Lancaster.  There is a lack of medium-sized venues so we had to try and be clever, harder than you might think for us that!  We remembered gigs being held there years ago – Adele, believe it or not played there – but they’ve never had a rock band apparently or associated rockers, beer or volume.   Let’s hope we don’t wreck the joint, that could go down in local history for totally the wrong reasons, haha. We’ve got Motorhead’s Roadcrew ale and Cloven Hoof rum on board so it’s set to be a top night, I reckon.

QoR – How much did you manage to raise from releasing ‘Back To The Stack‘ and how did you decide which charity to support?

BM – It’s still ticking up nicely, it’s somewhere between £500 – £1,000, I think.  We wanna make the donation at a nice round number, but yeah, massive, massive love and thanks to everyone who has bought it so far, it means a lot.  The charity was a fairly easy decision for us really, apart from the obvious rock music connection they have with Noel Gallagher, Roger Daltrey and the shows they put on, which I’m a big fan of, for me the words ‘cancer in children’ sealed it, a no brainer for me; I’m a new dad so it really hit home.

QoR – How is album number four coming along? What’s your writing process or rituals?

BM – Album four is absolutely going great guns; personally I love song writing, it’s just been flowing, we have just about an album’s worth now, bar maybe a song but we are  writing hard, so it won’t be long.  We’ve booked the first studio session too, so it’s full steam ahead.  We did think at the start of album four is there any pressure on us, ‘Welcome To The World’ did really well for us, it was received really well by our amazing fan base, so we thought, what do we do now?  The answer is just keep on doing the same!

The songs have just flowed out, it’s a bit of a different vibe maybe, not too different, the songs are again totally individual, all have the Wagons’ stamp and big hooks in them, personally I couldn’t be happier with them; we’ve definitely matured as writers, musically and lyrically, we are just buzzing to get it released.  The process is fairly straight forward for us, we are lucky as we are all totally on the same page musically, all have a wide range of tastes and all appreciate great songs.   The lads all have their input, everything’s open to negotiation, we all get on well and nothing’s precious; we all respect each other’s opinion and try ideas out even if we maybe at first don’t think the same way, getting along is the key, if you can work well together you’ve cracked it.

QoR – Do you have any plans to re-release your debut album?

BM – Absolutely! The day draws ever closer, it’s being remastered as we speak – old skool Wagons! Heavy and down-tuned. It’s a very raw album, and very much a band [who are] at the start of things, but I’m immensely proud of it, we are here now because of that album, a huge chunk of our fan base have never heard those songs so it will be great to hear people’s reaction, good or bad, haha.

QoR – Who has been your biggest influence in the music world?

BM – Cor blimey, that is a question and a half!  I’m influenced hugely by all sorts! From the obvious AC/DC, Airbourne, UFO, etc, to country music, Dolly, Cash, Jennings, right through to hip hop – NWA, Cube, Wu Tang, Cypress Hill, I dig the lot! Good songs are good songs and good lyrics are the same. Currently though the biggest influence has to be Ginger Wildheart; lyrically, he is the main man, his lyrics say so much with so many words but they never ever seem over blown or complicated, not a wasted word.  At the moment I’d defo say Ginger – his ‘The Year of the Fanclub’ album is one of my all time faves.

QoR – If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose and why?

BM – Hmmm, any of the above.  I think maybe a woman, to be honest, I love the ballsy rock men/women collars; Ike and Tina, Meatloaf and Cher … ‘Dead Ringer For Love‘ is unreal, maybe a cover of that with someone, any takers? Haha.

QoR – What are you listening to at the moment and can you recommend any new music?

BM – Got the last Tequila Mockingbird album in at the moment and that is absolutely rockin! A new band called Marble Parlour from Wales are also epic – look out for them! I’m always listening to Pearl Jam too, it never stops with them at the mo. The new music scene is alive as hell, it maybe is underground, but it’s thriving [with] so much talent; Mason Hill, King Lot, Bigfoot, Empyre, Lupus Dei … the list goes on and on and on, I’d really urge folk to get on Facebook and just search these bands out, it doesn’t take long to find them and look at the bands, you won’t be disappointed.

QoR – You’ve been at this game for nearly ten years – what advice would you give to bands that are just starting out?

BM – Advice, ay, I could probably write pages on the subject, largely non-sensical boring rubbish, haha.  If I had to impart a few key pearls of my wisdom though – make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing, do what you wanna do and not what you think you should be doing, or what other bands are doing.  Good songs are good songs whatever the genre, style, etc, if you’re writing good songs and you’re enjoying it then you’re halfway there.  Don’t focus on other bands and what they are doing, what success they are having; I can guarantee behind Facebook they are never far away from what you’re doing even if it seems that way, stressing about other bands will make you bitter and not enjoy band life. Remember your band mates are your mates! Open yourself to others opinions and don’t get offended if people don’t like your ideas, fall outs and arguments will kill your band dead.

Listen to all genres of music, ideas, vibes, sounds, styles, it’s all the same notes! Be creative.  Be one of the good guys, be nice to people, even if you maybe think someone didn’t deserve it, if they are an ass, chances are they will fail or are failing already, be cool, be sound and don’t let shit bother you.  Work hard! If you wanna do this, then graft, nothing worth having ever came easy.  We played 300 plus gigs in the first three years, all with full time jobs, maybe doesn’t sound a lot to some but it was hard work, but now we have an amazing, rock-solid reliable fan base, absolutely priceless that. Make sure you are awesome live!!  Lastly, I’d say if you’re writing lyrics and the next line comes too easy to you, then don’t use it, haha, use the third or fourth ‘cos you’ve had to think hard for it.

QoR – What do you see as the biggest barrier to moving forward in the music business?

BM – Haha, money!

QoR – You’ve got plenty of gigs coming up – which are you most looking forward to and why?

BM – We love playing live, we totally dig everything about it so I’d say all of them, they will all kick ass in their own way, they are always different.  The Lancaster gig has been a big challenge so to see that go ahead will be a huge deal for us, we’ve had to organise the whole thing from beer to bins and it’s been an experience – a great one, mind. Apart from that, obviously the HRH awards is a biggy and then Planet Rock’s Rockstock!! Big stages, big sound, what’s not to like, haha, it’s a great way to round out the year.

QoR – So much awesome! Anything else you would like to say?

BM – Just thank you over and over to everyone who’s been involved with this band; from people downloading a track, to reviewers, the fans, photographers, radio folk … all just a massive thank you and much love and respect for assisting with what we do.  Rock on and long may it continue!

Massive Wagons tour dates

Links: –

 

Interview: Stone Broken – 26/02/17

I was lucky enough to catch up with rock’s hot new band, Stone Broken, before their set on the last day of Planet Rock’s Winter’s End Festival. Read on to find out what they think of Black Stone Cherry, their fans and their incredible journey so far. 

Stone Broken live 1Picture courtesy of Chris White, Dirty Rock Photography

Queen of Rock: We can’t pick up a magazine or turn on the radio these days without hearing about Stone Broken!  How have you suddenly taken the music world by storm?

Rich:  Well, we’ve been a band for about four years but in January 2016 we released our debut album, ‘All In Time‘.  About three months before that we released our first single from it and it took off from there.  Planet Rock have grabbed every single that we’ve had and they’ve run with it, it’s been phenomenal and that’s been one of the major players in the rise of us, really.  That’s then led on to other things and we got booked for bigger shows and festivals, so it’s been very organic.  We haven’t got a massive PR company behind us; we went in to it with the hope that someone might pick it up.

Chris:  We were hoping that word of mouth would do it.

Stone Broken, All In Time

QoR: Well, you’ve done that alright! People are certainly talking about you.  You mentioned festivals … any festival appearances that you’re allowed to talk about?

Rich:  We’ve been confirmed for Download and we’re doing Steelhouse Festival.  We’re also doing a couple of newer ones.  We’re doing Summer in the City, which we’re headlining and also Subterranean Festival in Cambridge.  We’re also doing Camden Rocks, but that’s all we can talk about. There are a few others that are in the pipeline and on the way, so do keep an eye out for those  (NOTE: Since the interview took place, they have also been confirmed for Ramblin’ Man, Helsfest and Warton Festivals).

QoR – Well, that will do to start with!  Have you been here at Winter’s End all weekend?

Rich:  We just got off tour with Glenn Hughes and we drove from the Netherlands directly to here on Friday.  We got in fairly late, but we caught most of Toseland and a little bit of Bernie [Marsden] as well. We’ve been trying to catch as many bands, but we came here to speak to fans and we just love talking!

QoR: I’ve seen lots of fan pics up on twitter, you seem really amenable to fans doing selfies.

Rich: At the end of the day, the fans are the people that help grow the band; if you didn’t have any fans, you wouldn’t be able to do any of this.  We try and give back as much as we can and it’s nothing to go and speak to people, it doesn’t cost us anything.  We get a lot of people say, “Thank you for letting us come up and have a chat with you, it’s been a great fifteen minutes” and I’m thinking to myself well no, we appreciate it.  We love speaking to the fans and it’s a two-way street.

QoR: That’s good to hear because a lot of bands don’t think like that. You said you’ve been touring with Glenn Hughes, which is massive.  What was that like?

All: It was amazing, yeah.

Kieron: He nicknamed us ‘kids’.

Chris: We called him Papa Glenn, although it changed to Uncle Glenn.

Rich:  As soon as we walked into the first show – it was Newcastle – and we had just loaded our gear into the venue and they were sound checking. He just turns around and he says, “Hi kids.” We all just waved, you know! He just said, glad to have you on board and that kind of set the tone for the whole tour.  He gave us a few pearls of wisdom and he’s a human being … he’s a legendary human being, but a human being and backstage you get to see that side of him.  There was emotional times because of things that had happened and there was some awesome times when he was just on point and had an amazing show.  Every show was amazing, but sometimes you could just feel the energy when he came off stage.  The one thing that he said a lot was music is the healer and love is the answer; he actually put that into his performance and it was brilliant.  It’s given us the knowledge and the tools to go and do more things like that – it was a masterclass of how to tour, going on the road with those guys and they looked after us.

Robyn: We all got on like a house on fire, didn’t we? Then there was the crew and everybody else, we just all had a great time.

Chris: You [was] having drum battles with Glenn’s drummer!

Robyn: Yeah! He was like, “You get on my kit and I’ll get on yours.” This lanky giant just sat behind my kit and was going for it! It was awesome, just crazy.

Rich: They would ask us for favours, like tools or spare guitar strings and vice versa. I had an issue with the neck on my guitar and their guitar tech just fixed it up.  It was great.

Stone Broken Robyn live

Robyn live at Winter’s End Fest, courtesy of Chris White, Dirty Rock Photography

QoR: You couldn’t ask for a better experience, by the sounds of it! You’ve had an EP and album out, is there any new stuff in the pipeline?

Rich: We’ve got another show with Black Star Riders and after that we’re locking ourselves out from the world and we’re nailing down the next album.  We’ve been road testing a few songs on the tour and they’ve gone down great, so that’s encouraging.  We’re probably at our creative peak at the moment; we’ve done six solid weeks of pure music, so we’re going to get back and harvest that creativity and create the new album.

QoR: What would be your favourite Stone Broken song to play live?

Robyn:Not Your Enemy’.

Chris:  Yeah, ‘Not Your Enemy’ for me.

Rich: Okay, I’ll go for a different one … I would say ‘Wait For You’ just because, especially at our own shows, I don’t have to sing the chorus – the audience just take over.

QoR: If you had to pick one or two tracks to introduce a new fan to your music, which would you pick?

Kieron:Wait For You’ and ‘Not Your Enemy’.

Robyn:Not your Enemy’ is right in your face; it’s what we’re all about.

Rich: It’s the first track on the album and there’s a reason we chose it.  It’s got a bit of everything.

QoR: Do you prefer playing live to being in the studio?

Rich:  I do, I love playing live because you just get the buzz off of the audience, especially when they’re hyped up; it’s like an adrenaline shot.

Kieron: Especially when you’re on tour, because you get to do it every night.

Robyn: We’ve had two days off here and already we want to get back on stage, we can’t wait.

Rich: So glad that we’re playing tonight!  Also, on the other side of that, I love seeing the record come together and in the studio, it’s the only place that you can actually see it all come together.

Chris: It’s completely different when you’re making a record, you get to try out new ideas.  Live, you have one take and if it doesn’t work, you don’t do it in the next show!

Rich:  To summarise that, I think we just love being in a band … we love every part of it.

QoR:  What inspires you when you’re writing?

Rich:  For me personally, its life, that’s the inspiration.  Everyone’s life is different which is why you get different bands, they’ve all had their own experiences.  I get inspired by listening to different kinds of music as well.  Lyrically, I’m inspired by different situations that I’ve either been in or that you can see happening elsewhere.  Even if you just want to get a message across; we’ve got a song called ‘Better’ and that’s all about being positive and just don’t let anything hold you back.  ‘This Life’ is again just about going out there and doing what you love doing.  I just draw on feelings, emotions and life.

QoR:  You were runners-up in the Planet Rock awards for Best New Band last year, sum up for us how that made you feel.

Chris: Shocked!  We knew we were being put forward, but we just thought we would be towards the back, but coming second …

Rich:  At first, we didn’t know that we were being nominated, so that was a shock in itself.  We put a few posts out to our fans saying that we had been nominated and – we have the best fans in the world – they just jumped on it, sharing it and that.  We all got up to listen to the results and they announced the third band and we thought we hadn’t got anything. When they said the runner-up was Stone Broken …

Robyn:  We couldn’t believe it.

Rich: It was such a mix of emotions, like ecstatic, surprised, shocked.

Kieron:  We still see ourselves as a small band, so for us to have that type of impact is mind-blowing.

Rich: We’ve had a lot of guys saying how good the exposure has been, but we haven’t caught up with it because we’re just doing it, but we’re landing bigger and better shows, so we know something is happening! Sometimes I do say to the guys to cast their minds back twelve months ago; did you think that we would be here having breakfast with Paul Anthony?  It’s mad and it’s crazy, but we love it.

QoR:  What has been the highlight of the Stone Broken journey so far?

Kieron:  Touring Europe, that was definitely a big highlight for me.

Chris:  Listening to your song on the radio without expecting it.

Rich: When you get put on to a lot of the unsigned shows, they tell you [when] you’re going to be played.  I was at work and I had a message come through telling me we’d just been played on Planet Rock and then more messages came through and I was like, ‘Oh my God’.  It’s one thing having your songs played on the radio and you’re aware of it, it’s another thing to have it just come on when you’re not expecting it.

Robyn:  the highlight for me is I’ve basically become friends with John Fred Young from Black Stone Cherry, well we all have, to be fair.  We played Ramblin’ Man last year and we met him, thanks to Paul Anthony and we met up with them again at Rockstock. I was literally stood right next to John Fred on stage and he was talking to me all through the set.  It was just amazing.

Rich:  They’re the most down to earth, humble guys.  They’re an inspiration to us because they’re probably the band that we’ve been able to get closest to at that level.  You just get so many different experiences, that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t in a band, so the highlight is just being able to do it.

QoR:  So, what’s next?

Robyn:  Writing the new album and then hitting festival season.

Rich:  We’ve got some things for the back-end of the year which aren’t finalised yet.

Chris:  It’s just keeping the foot on the pedal and going forward.

QoR:  What would be your ultimate, though?  If you had the chance to do anything or play with anyone, or go anywhere, what would it be?

Chris:  I think it’s the States, getting over to America.

Robyn:  Getting on the Carnival of Madness tour.

Rich:  That would be awesome, I mean even just to play a few of the festivals over there.

Robyn:  As a band, you want to play everywhere; you don’t want to leave anywhere out and you just want to go and travel the whole world and see everything.

Rich:  You know what, we just want to play shows.

Vikkie and Stone Broken

Chris, Rich, Me, Robyn and Kieron at Winter’s End Festival, Feb 2017

Stone Broken:

Catch the official ‘All In Time’ album commentary video here

Thanks to Peter Keevil of TMR Band Management and also to tour manager Fliss.

Interview: Alex from Damn Dice, 04.06.16 at the Buck’s Head, Camden

Damn Dice recently released their self-funded, debut album ‘The Great Unknown’.  Fresh from a triumphant tour with Black Rain, and today’s amazing Camden Rocks set at the Electric Ballroom, I caught up with vocalist Alex for a beer and a chat about the merits of physical CD’s versus downloads, festivals and wrestling …

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Vikkie: You just played the Electric Ballroom for Camden Rocks Festival – how was it for you?  It sounded pretty good from where I was standing!

Alex:  It was amazing – I don’t think we expected such a turn out; you were there, you saw how busy it was.  That always spurs you on but we always try to give everything.

V: You always give 110% and you’re all about the live show.  When you have to take time out to record, do you enjoy it, or would you rather be out on stage?

A:  We enjoy it, definitely.  Of course, it’s good to play live but when you’re writing the songs and they come together, you get that excitement, like when you first join a band.  You want to play them live and people don’t know them but the recording and writing process is fun, not so much in the studio as there is a lot of waiting around, especially for me as I go last!  It’s a good experience.

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V:  Where did you record ‘The Great Unknown’?

A:  We recorded at Angry Bee studios in Hackney, which is my home turf.

V:  It’s a fantastic album, quite different to the EP.  You all write together, so what influences do you draw upon?

A:  Most of the bulk of the music comes from Wallis and François (Fourmy, brothers) and then we get together to do the vocal stuff. I do the lyrics and most of the vocals.  I don’t think there’s one moment where you think ‘Oh yeah, I want to write about this’, but you just draw on things you’ve noticed, things that have happened, experiences that you’ve had.

V: I didn’t actually realise that Wallis and François are brothers – François designed the website, didn’t he?

A:  He did, he does all of the visual stuff; he’s a dab hand at Photoshop and he did the editing for the videos … he’s really good at that stuff!

V:  Talented!  So, in terms of a follow up to ‘The Great Unknown’, when might we expect a follow up?

A:  We hope to get the majority of it, at least the writing, done in the second half of this year.  As to the recording, we still have to find a way to realise that in terms of money.

V:  Do you find that it’s harder to reach people, as you aren’t signed to a record label?

A:  I don’t know … a record label, what can they do really, apart from chucking a whole load of money behind you and getting you in the magazines?  Otherwise it’s social media these days, isn’t it?  For example, if you are going to check out a band, you’re going to go to Facebook, Twitter …

V:  I found you through Twitter originally, there are some great bands to be discovered in that way!

A:  It’s easier to update.  It’s good to have the website because you can put a lot of stuff there, like a shop, information – obviously you can’t do that with 140 characters on Twitter!  You kind of need a website.

V:  You added your fifth member of the band – Diego – in August last year.  What was behind the decision to bring in another member?  Why go from a four piece to a five piece?

A:  Sound, basically.  What often happens is many of the songs have a key change in the solo and if you haven’t got a good bass sound, it’s difficult for the listener to hear what’s going on.  You might change key and the guitar player starts soloing and people think it’s in the wrong key or it sounds bad because you can’t hear the bass properly.  We decided to have another guitar player to give it that foundation.  When we recorded, we recorded a guitar track under the solos anyway, which is obviously not do-able live with one guitar player so we decided to bring [Diego] in to make sure we have the full sound that we needed for the live shows.

V:  Do you not find it hard, with four of you bouncing around on stage?

A:  It depends on the stage!  The Electric Ballroom is quite a big stage.  At the Barfly, you do knock into each other a bit.

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V:  If you had to pick two or three of your songs to introduce you to a new fan, who had never seen or heard you before, which would you pick?

A:  Maybe ‘What Now?’ because that’s one of the newer songs that we wrote and I think it represents the direction that we are going in more than the others.  I have a soft spot for ‘Caught In the Ride’ as it’s the first song that we wrote together and I love that song.

V:  We’re into festival season, Camden Rocks kicks off just before Download … haven’t seen you on the bill for Download?  Anything else lined up in Europe?

A:  Unfortunately not.  Maybe this is where labels and having outside representation can help you.  Contacting people directly … I feel like there’s a guy who sits there on his computer and gets 10,000 emails from unsigned bands … that’s how it feels.  Hopefully we will be doing that next year.

V:  Do you all take your turn at networking and keep an ear out for opportunities?

A:  We all actively contact people and get them to contact us.  We try as much as we can, of course, we have to.  If we’re not there, it’s not for want of trying!  We are going to have a bit of a break in August, though.  There are so many things to do and you can’t just concentrate on one thing.  When you are in the situation that we are, you have to do everything yourselves.  Contacting people, following up, promotion, social media, developing graphics and pictures, video … and all that goes with it.

V:  It’s a lot of work.  What’s next for Damn Dice though?  You’ve said that you’re going to have a break, you’ve hinted that you might possibly have a new album.

A:  We want to just gig as much as we can, just get out there.  I think the best thing you can do as a band is just play as much as you can.  Sometimes we might be spending money, on travelling and other stuff, but ultimately it’s an investment. You can’t just sit at home, you have to push your product, basically.

V:  I’m glad you said that, because so many bands do just sit at home, thinking that it’s too hard.  It’s totally the wrong attitude and it’s probably why so many bands just die on the wayside.

A:  You need to put the effort in.  When you’re a five piece band … we split everything.  We split costs, it’s not that bad, but the most important thing is getting out there to play because if no-one knows who you are, what’s the point?  Your Mum’s always going to be a fan, but you need more than that!

V: I had a question from a fan on twitter, which was, “Would you rather play at Madison Square Garden, do a film soundtrack, or open for Bruce Springsteen”?

A:  The Garden, definitely the Garden.  It’s iconic and I’m a big pro-wrestling fan and Madison Square Garden is the spiritual home of WrestleMania.

V:  So … you’re a wrestling fan, you play classical guitar and you have really bad eyesight … that’s what I’ve learned about you today!  Anything else you would like to put out there that people don’t know about you?

A:  I think that about covers it!

V:  Do you download music or do you like to have that physical CD in your hand?

A:  I download music.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical CD.  I have a lot of CD’s at home, but I listen through my computer – I don’t have a separate CD player and I definitely don’t have a record player.  I think there’s a generation who grew up not knowing physical music, so the concept of listening to an album probably doesn’t exist for a lot of young people. The dynamic has changed as well because if you go back to vinyl, you have two sides, a side-A and a side-B and the album was structured based on that idea so there would be certain songs faster or slower and arranged in a particular way.  When it went to CD with just a long stream of music that had a certain dynamic as well.  Now, I think people don’t listen to ‘albums’ from start to finish, they like this song and that song, so they will download those.

V:  So when you’re writing an album you don’t have in mind that you’ll start with a particular song …

A:  Yeah, we still do.  We put a lot of thought into the track listing.

V:  Do you have any messages for Damn Dice fans?

A:  Everyone that’s already a fan, thank you so much for supporting us.  The most important thing is support local music, get out to the gigs if you can.  You know if you like the music, buy it, because ultimately it helps.  If I like a band, I will buy their music because it’s a way of supporting the band.  If an album costs £10, I’m going to buy it; I’ve just bought two beers, which cost nearly £10 and I value music more than I value beer!  Support local bands, get out there because it does make a difference to the band.  When you see people there and they like the music it does make a difference to us, to the bands.  When I go to see a band that I like, it means a lot to me to see these guys.  £1 is not much to spend for a song that you like and every little helps.  Support your local scene and have fun.  We have fun, so we want to invite everyone else to have fun with us!

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You can find out more about Damn Dice via their websiteFacebook page or Twitter

Check out the videos for Rock (Like You Mean It)What Now? and my personal favourite, Driven

You can also check out the album of photos of Damn Dice at Camden Rocks Festival by Chris of Dirty Rock Photography here

Interview with Jay Buchanan, Rival Sons December 2014

(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CULTNOISE.COM, 10.12.14)

It’s been a belter of a year for Californian rock and rollers Rival Sons.  With their fourth album, ‘Great Western Valkyrie’ released to critical acclaim and nominated for Classic Rock Magazine’s ‘Best Album’, as well as numerous tour dates (including a triumphant performance at Download Festival), it seems as though their star is shining more brightly than ever.  We were honoured to be able to sit down with vocalist Jay Buchanan to talk about the recording process, life and the universe in general.

CultNoise: You’ve been touring Europe, now you’re on the UK leg.  How’s it been so far?

Jay Buchanan:  I’ve had terrible insomnia over the last two nights.  We flew in from Barcelona to go and do the Wembley show. Yesterday was our day off, but I had to travel to Bath to do some studio work for an artist, so I was gone all day. I got back last night and I couldn’t sleep.

CN: You mentioned Wembley – Rival Sons shared a bill with the legend that is Lenny Kravitz.  Did you enjoy it?

JB: It was great getting to finally play Wembley Arena, I’ve wanted to play there for a long time, so that was nice. You speak of Lenny Kravitz being a legend- I don’t know what it is, if it’s the colour of his skin, but the general regular rock and roll audience, they don’t talk about Lenny Kravitz when they talk about rock and roll, which seems pretty crazy to me.  That guy has fought really hard to keep rock and roll at the forefront, all the way from the late 80’s. I thought he gave a great show, but at the end of the day it’s just another show.

CN: Your latest album, ‘Great Western Valkyrie’, has been very well received. You’ve done four albums now, but suddenly Rival Sons seem to be everywhere.  What do you think it is about this album that has made that happen?

JB: I think that there are a couple of answers to that.  We’ve been touring relentlessly for almost four years now and it takes a while to really get your name out there. With our third record (second full length album – there was an EP in between), ‘Pressure and Time’, we were getting a lot of attention then and people were saying the same thing. The same happened with the record after that, ‘Head Down’, because at the same time you have the records, you have all of the touring.  The touring is going to beget its own growth, from person to person and word of mouth.  We just keep working and touring, and we make another record and people saw that. To me it makes perfect sense because it is true, we are much further along with this record than we were with the previous one.

If you’re asking about the quality of the record itself, I think that it’s our best; I think that it’s our most cohesive sounding record, thematically and sound-wise, I think it’s good.  I’ve heard people say that it’s slick production which is crazy, because we do all of our records the same way.  With GWV we gave ourselves two additional weeks, but that was just two more weeks of doing the same thing that we always did.  There was no greater benefit to being in there for an extra two weeks, other than having time to write more songs that you can decide to throw away and not put on the record.  I was really excited about the prospect of having longer to do it, but the whole process is such a hair-raising and gut-wrenching experience for me. I have to write around the clock, twenty-four-seven, so I’m always at work whenever we’re in the studio, writing and helping to arrange things that the other guys are writing – everyone is putting songs together. There’s no rest and it’s constant- you’re in the hot seat. I think it took a toll on me personally, but the record itself I think is something special.

People have worked really hard to call us a ‘classic’ rock band, not even in a pejorative sense, but dismissing us as a 70’s Led Zeppelin style.  The further that we’re able to purvey our own style, I believe that people will understand that we have no concern of that. I most of all couldn’t care less about the 70’s, or even rock and roll for that matter.  My love affair is with this band and what we’re capable of doing.

CN: Is it your favourite record?  It’s a lot more mature and tighter musically than the previous albums and it’s evidently a progression.

JB: I wouldn’t even trust myself to answer because every time, you have to go through different stages when you’re making the record, typically.  You’re scratching your head, asking “Is this going to be any good?”  Time passes and you’re able to step away from it and you appreciate it for a little bit; you listen to it again and you don’t really like it.  You listen to it a little while later and you’re like, “Man, that’s the best record.” I think they all have their own charm, I don’t know that I like this one best.

CN: How have things changed for you since GWV came out?  Do people treat you any differently?

JB: Sometimes it takes longer to get from the bus to the venue, because people want to take pictures and have you sign things. I used to go out and thank the audience after our shows, and when we were on a smaller scale it was easier, but I’ve chosen to no longer do that, just because of the viciousness that can happen out there – people just being too selfish and not remembering that you’re a person, like, giving you one compliment and following it with two critiques. I don’t really care, but people get liquored up and they’ll get that shameful sense of self-entitlement.

Overall, I don’t think it’s that big of a change.  When we’re out on the road, it’s a very insular environment, because we’re on the bus, we’re travelling, trying to get caught up on some sleep and then we’re at the venue, giving interviews and talking to people about ourselves.  Then we have sound check and a little bit of time to maybe walk around the city, but there’s no Rival Sons ‘mania’ going on.  Things at home, they stay the same – in an experiment, your home would be considered your control [environment], the constant.  We certainly haven’t gotten rich doing this, there’s not a lot of money to be made in music in general.

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CN: It’s not about the money though, is it?

JB: When you have a family, something has to be about money. They get hungry, they need food and shelter, you have to pay bills. As much as we musicians are supposed to be selfless martyrs that are in it for the art, whilst everyone else does a nine to five job, if we care about money we’re selling out. I think that people have a very skewed sense of what that is because we’re humans and we have families.

When you have a family and you’re gone all the time, you need to make some serious money, but I figure at some point it will come along for us and I’ll do something as crazy as owning a home!  I’ll be making music until I’m dead.

CN: Rival Sons are often categorised as a ‘Southern’ rock band, do you think the genre is over-saturated?

JB: People also say we’re ‘classic’ rock, which doesn’t make sense because we’re not ‘classic’ – we’re barely even six years old as a band, so we’re literally not classic rock – a band has to be around for a couple of decades at least. The ‘Southern’ rock thing I really don’t understand, that really throws me every time. We’ll get that more here, because here if you hear a slide guitar, it’s like “Ooh, the South”. In America, ‘Southern’ rock is like Lynyrd Skynyrd and that kind of stuff.  I definitely don’t see us as Southern rock.

CN: Maybe people say ‘classic’ rock because of comparisons you mentioned earlier and the influence of the 70’s era in your music, e.g. Led Zeppelin?

JB: We’re dominated by guitar solos and rock and roll guitar riffs, that’s the type of band we are. I understand that people would draw that because it’s uncommon for people to actually play rock and roll. I do understand when people look at us and think it’s kind of a throwback, because we’re actually making our records and playing live on the records and trying to capture that energy.  When we play live, we do it for real.

CN: What made you decide to sign with Earache Records?

JB: Earache Records pursued us and it was very surprising because, at that time, the only bands that they had on their label were metal and death metal, that’s it. There were no other rock and roll bands so we looked at the opportunity, like, I don’t know… how we fit into this world of death metal, but they want to work with us really bad and they were very persistent about courting us.

CN: I think it was quite a visionary move on their part, really?

JB: I think so, it was a great idea – how maverick can you be, we’re going to be the only rock and roll band that isn’t metal. We figured we would get good attention and good effort and that was the truth, they were very attentive. Now they’ve signed a couple of other bands that aren’t metal. I think they do a good job.

CN: Do you have any advice for new, up-and-coming bands?

JB: You had better be sure that you’re in it for the right reasons because you’re never going to be done paying your dues. You better be sure that this is what you want to do, because it’s going to be a really long, hard road. You have to do it for the art first and then once you have a family, although the art comes first, you have to make sure that you can be smart enough to not be taken advantage of. The arts used to be a great treasure, but the world is very unkind to artists in general.

For these young bands just getting started, just be sure that the calling better be wired deep inside you, because I’ve seen people that didn’t stay the course – they burn out and make very bad decisions, or when they’re not consumed with the art, they’ll turn to things like drinking too much, or drugs, and just get burned out or die. Make sure this is what you need to do and make sure that you’re good at it.

CN: That’s good advice.  If the world was to end here in one hour, how would you spend your last sixty minutes?

JB: I’d probably try to call home and say goodbye. I would probably spend it in prayer and meditation, preparing to leave my body, just being at peace with it. We’ve never been faced with anything remotely like that so I would like to prepare, have a good journey and leave under the best circumstances.

CN: Much has been made about the ‘state’ of the music industry.  Where do you see it going?

JB: People need to keep themselves occupied talking about something. If they’re not talking about how great something is, they’re talking about how bad something is; if something has been around long enough they get sentimental on how legendary and great it is and then there’s a scandal. People talk shit, period. Where are things going to go? We play rock and roll – rock music in general could fall off a cliff and die, if it were up to me. If it isn’t based on the blues, I can’t think of one good ‘rock’ band that I like – it has to be rock and roll. ‘Rock’ is just not my cup of tea at all, but at the same time, that rock music is making other people happy; if it’s going to bring joy into people’s lives, cool. Everybody likes something different.

The state of the industry… it is changing at such a rapid rate that the model is changing, it’s in flux and I don’t know when it’s going to level out. It surprises me to be in a successful band that is starting to do well – we haven’t ‘made’ it, but I feel like we’re on a trajectory, if we keep doing this then we’ll be able to make something of ourselves.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace in the availability of music and I think this is a really interesting time, where the power is taken away from the industry and is placed in the hands of everyone. When I talk about feeling a little bit disillusioned, we work really hard to make these songs and the only time we’re going to see a penny is if people come to see us play live. At the same time, look how beautiful it is that everyone is given a greater chance and it’s no longer in the hands of a few record labels and distributors.

CN: If you could share a stage with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

JB: Probably my dad and my brother, just jamming at home. I miss my family a lot, my mom sings and my sister sings, everybody plays instruments- we get together. In the living room we pull out the amps, the drum kit and microphones and we just get down and have a good time. I can’t think of anyone out there that I would love to share the stage with more than just sitting and watching them do something.

I think about the great vocalists that I hear out there, someone like Leonard Cohen.  Do I want to collaborate with Leonard Cohen? No, he’s Leonard Cohen and I wouldn’t feel the need to sit in with him, because that’s him. I’ve got a lot of respect for the people that I have a lot of respect for.

CN: Finally, what are Rival Sons plans for 2015?

JB: It’s going to be just like this:  We’re going to tour, hopefully we can make our next record- it depends how long we have to sit on GWV, but I want to make another record. I feel like this is a good band, we have an interesting cocktail of personalities and skills sets and I want to know what we’re capable of being.

Live, this is a great band, but creatively we need to give ourselves more fuel for the stage and also we need to see if we can reach whatever potential that we’re capable of, to see if we can turn into a band that transcends or becomes more of ourselves. I really just want us to get better; I want us to write more songs. That’s more important than dominating the world – how good are we and how good can we get?  It’s so much fun.

Vikkie and Rival Sons, Pie and Vinyl

 

www.rivalsons.com

www.twitter.com/rivalsons

Interview with Sid Glover of Heaven’s Basement, 06.12.14

British rockers Heaven’s Basement have been labelled as the ‘hardest touring band in rock’, and that’s pretty much what the last two years have been about for them; playing globally to promote their debut full-length album, ‘Filthy Empire’.  The recent one-day Winter Rocks Festival in Sheffield was their last performance of the year, and also probably the last before the second album is released at some point next year (although, with these guys you never know – they’re all about the live shows).  I managed to catch up with guitarist Sid Glover before they hit the stage to talk about touring, guitar heroes and flying planes.  Enjoy! 

HB indiv band pic

How’s the writing been going for the second record?

Yeah, good.  We started writing individually because I’ve been getting some ideas together and I think Rob had probably been doing the same, but we are all together now with writing hats on.  We’re not recording yet, just writing.  Recording doesn’t take long, we did ‘Filthy Empire’ in seven or eight days, I think.

Is it hard for you to switch off when you get back from a tour?

It’s crazy, I’m a fucking nightmare person to live with, but I have a rigorous routine of catching up with friends and writing songs.

You don’t sleep very well, do you?  You’re always posting on twitter at stupid o’clock …

I just get loads of ideas at night, which is good.  We’ll do loads of jamming during the day and I’ll sit down and get loads of ideas at night and I’ll record vocal ideas which pisses everyone off!  I’m down there wailing away at 6am and everyone’s like “Shut the fuck up!” I just get on a roll but when you tour, you get energy at weird times, like I’ll get energy between 10 and 6 in the morning.  If you leave me alone, I’ll live a thirty eight hour day.  I can sleep, once I go to sleep I can sleep like a fucking dead person, but I need a thirty hour day.  Every now and then it flips so I have to have a roll over day.

How else do you switch off?

I’ll probably watch a film with a couple of drinks but it’s all about writing songs, really.  That keeps me up longer because I’m a bit of a perfectionist – I can’t leave an idea half-finished, so I’ll stay up all night, but the pay-off is awesome and when it’s done, it’s done.

Who are your ultimate guitar heroes and musical influences?

Jimi Hendrix was first, then Stevie Ray Vaughan probably came along and Rory Gallagher, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and David Gilmour.  That’s pretty much all you really need!

Have you always known that you wanted to ‘do’ music?

Yes.  I didn’t always know I wanted to do it, it was always just assumed that I would – it was never a question.  Ever since I was about four, I was just [playing the] guitar and nobody knows why; I was just attracted to it and gravitated to it.  It’s very odd, no-one else in my family is musical, so it’s a bit strange.

cropped-hb2.jpgElectric Ballroom, Camden, March 2014

Any musical ancestors?

I think my [Great-Grandmother] was a bit of a child prodigy on the piano; she was a concert pianist at the age of thirteen.

So you’ve never done anything else, job-wise, apart from music?

No, I was always doing music, as soon as I found a path, I went down it.  I think I sabotaged my own life so that I had to make it work.

Moving on, you recently flew a plane whilst you were at the Red Bull Air Race in Austria.  Did you enjoy it?  You looked a little bit scared …

No, I wasn’t scared – I love flying.  If I looked a little bit off colour it’s because I’d been at Chris’ (Rivers, drummer of HB) stag party a few hours previously and I hadn’t slept.  It was a bit of a heavy night and then, getting in a plane that goes 250 miles an hour upside down … it was the best hangover cure I think I’ve ever had.  I wasn’t scared but I was trying not to pass out.

Would you do it again?  Is it something that you would like to do as a hobby?

We went and played in Austria and we saw the pilots in the bar and I was like, “Take us up!”  I spoke to the English guy that won and he said he’ll take us up because he lives nearby.  I kind of did it when I was a kid – my Dad always flew, so I’ve always been around planes.  It’s not a passion of mine, but it’s fun.

Talking of fun, what was your favourite video to record off of Filthy Empire, and why?

‘Lights Out In London’ because we just took over Brick Lane.  We hired out two of the biggest bars in Brick Lane, invited people down and threw an all-night party.  I stayed until the end and watched all of the storyline footage getting shot, which was fun.  ‘Fire Fire’ and ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ were cool, because they were the first ones that we’d ever done.  We were in the desert and it was kind of cool, a novelty experience.

Why do you dislike having your picture taken so much?

I don’t dislike having my picture taken!  I probably have my picture taken a hundred times a day.  Everyone says that I look miserable in photos, but I am smiling on the inside.  Even when I think I’m smiling, people are like “You look fucking miserable, Sid.” I’m just not a photogenic smiler!

Heaven's Basement Nosturi 261113 w 030

Nosturi, Helsinki, November 2013 (Photo courtesy of Karen Chappell, http://www.fotoadventures.co.uk)

For you personally, what are the best and worst aspects of touring?

Pros are constant stimulation and massive adrenaline highs every day.  If you like that stuff then there’s not really any cons.  It depends what level of touring you’re at.  We’ve done everything from driving ourselves in a van when we started out, to touring on buses and planes.  You don’t really see your friends much, but you’re on tour with friends and meeting new people all of the time.

Who’s the biggest pain in the arse on tour, and why?

Aaron, because he likes to try and chill and look after himself, whereas I don’t, so that’s an issue.  I think that probably means I’m the pain in the arse!

Who gets in the most trouble?

Shit happens all the time.  We like to leave our sound guy behind quite a lot, that’s fun.  I don’t think I’ve ever been left behind, although our drummer often does [get left].  In Manchester, when we were on tour with Papa Roach, I went for a drink with them on their bus, but didn’t realise their bus left so I ended up in Newcastle and we were meant to go somewhere else for a day off.  It’s all good; we can’t get into that much trouble!  Although, I did get stuck in this place in America once; we ended up in this seedy shop that was clearly a front for a drugs den.  There was this minute of being held up, a gunpoint kind of thing … that was me and our sound guy.  That was pretty hairy, but we managed to make them all our best friends and everyone loved us.  We managed to get the fuck out of there, but that was pretty close.

What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever been given by a fan?

There are no weird things, just really nice stuff.  Our fans give us cool things, like paintings they’ve done, or drawings, or really sweet letters … jewellery or alcohol.  All of those things are good!  We’ve been fairly lucky, there’s never been severed heads, or anything like that.  No voodoo dolls made of hair or anything … actually, no, there was a doll once which was made of hair – that was kind of weird.

Not your hair, though?!

I hope not.  I didn’t think about that!

If you could work with just one artist, band or producer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

George Martin, the Beatles producer.    He was a big part of the Beatles developing their recording sound and I would love to see how he works.

Any new bands that you can recommend to us?  Anyone cool that you’re listening to?

I’m fairly uninspired with most of the new stuff I’ve heard recently.  I’ll tell you what I do like though, we are well into the new Kasabian album.  I know that’s not an underground thing that nobody’s heard of, but they seem to have blended pilled-up dance music with elements of classic rock and I think that’s quite a good combination.  I listen to anything that’s got a soul to it, anything that’s good, mainly blues and rock, but anything that doesn’t scream of ‘cookie cutter’ fake music, which is most stuff these days.

What’s been your biggest Heaven’s Basement highlight, to date?

Probably the London show (Electric Ballroom) on our last headline tour; when it was booked, I told everyone that they were stupid because I thought it was way too big.  We’ve only ever supported bands there that are on their third or fourth album who we considered quite successful bands, so to do it on our first album … it was four or five times bigger than our previous headline show, so it was nice to be proven wrong.

I have a few ‘fan’ questions for you.  First up, what’s been your best and worst gig?

We did Montreal and Dallas on the tour with The Pretty Reckless – they were wicked shows, performance and energy wise, everything gelled and it was just devastating.  Nostalgia-wise, things like the Electric Ballroom show, Download second stage, Kansas City Rock Fest … the ‘big’ gigs, that’s great.  The worst gig … there was one gig where I accidentally got hammered beyond belief.  We were just hanging out in the day, and had forgotten that we were playing and there’s a moment when you walk on stage and it’s past the point of ‘cool’. You have a few drinks to loosen up and get in the mood and then realise you have zero control over this.  It is one of the most terrifying feelings in the world, to know that you then have to entertain these people, but not let on too much to the band that you’re hammered!  It turned out to be a great show so I can’t really complain, but … that moment of fear!

There was also a gig in Germany once where everything broke.  Every part of my rig broke so, most of the show the band was playing whilst I was swapping gear out.  It got to the point where I was literally down to just trousers – my belt snapped, my guitar strap snapped, all the heads had gone on my amp so there was one tiny cable linked up to one amp, no guitar strap, no belt.  I raised my pick to play the last note and the singer leant up to the crowd and knocked the guitar pick out of my hand!  But that was a good gig, too – when things are going wrong it usually adds to the energy.

Is there any news, 2015 festival-wise, that you’re allowed to mention?

To be honest, our priority is on the album, so it kind of depends when we do that.

Why do you use the name ‘Sid’, rather than your real name of Andrew Edward?  Was it something to do with Sid Vicious?

No, definitely not!  None of the men in my family are known by their real names, it’s a very strange thing.  It’s like they’re given a name when they’re born and instantly it’s changed!  I found out recently that my Dad’s name is not his real name, his Father’s name, isn’t his name.  It is what I am, it’s just an odd tradition.

It suits you, though … I can’t imagine you as an ‘Andrew’.

Nobody can … that’s not my name!

Do you have a ‘favourite’ guitar to use?  If so, which one?

Not really, they all serve their purpose.  My ‘favourite’ guitar is probably the one I got when I was four and has a string missing.  I dabble, depending on how I’m feeling at a certain time, I’ll use a certain guitar; they’re flavours to be played with.

Sid guitar

“When things go wrong, it usually adds to the energy”

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Yeah, to anyone that has come out to a show for the last couple of years, thank you for supporting us.  We’ll be back next year with a new album.

You can buy a copy of ‘Filthy Empire’ at record stores or via the usual online outlets.  iTunes also have the two previous EP’s available –  ‘Heaven’s Basement’ and ‘Unbreakable’ – both highly recommended!  Keep an eye out for HB2 in 2015; in the meantime, check out some HB videos below to keep you going!

http://heavensbasement.com

http://www.facebook.com/heavensbasement

‘Lights Out In London’ – http://youtu.be/-UwsGZCeIro

‘Can’t Let Go’ – http://youtu.be/VwVkRMWOsZc

‘Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch’ – http://youtu.be/Q6Yq5i3WDfw

‘Nothing Left To Lose’ – http://youtu.be/kP1u79wSdDY

‘I Am Electric’ – http://youtu.be/XjRaKId4Rps

‘Fire Fire’ – http://youtu.be/zgz_vmwEp_0

http://www.facebook.com/themusicjourno

Interview with I Divide, Southampton, 11.10.14

It was with great pleasure that I got the opportunity to have a chat with three fifths of Exeter rockers, I Divide, before their show with The Dirty Youth back in October.  Standing in a freezing car park next to a dodgy looking church, Josh (guitar), Henry (guitar) and Kristen (bass) waxed lyrical about festivals, social media and what their plans are for world domination.  Or something like that … enjoy!

I Divide band pic

How did you enjoy your appearance at the recent alcohol and drug-free Butserfest?

Josh:  Yeah, it was awesome.  We’d never been there before so we didn’t really know what to expect – I’d seen some stuff online but yes, we really enjoyed the set and it was a good crowd.  We hadn’t played for a few weeks, so it was just nice to get back on stage and play a show.

You also did an acoustic set, which was awesome and one of the best sets of the day. How was it for you?

Josh:  It was cool.  Although we’ve done some acoustic sets before, we never really done one in front of a live audience as it’s normally for radio or for a video interview. To do it in front of a little audience was really nice!

Henry:  I didn’t expect there to be that many people there, really.  Walking outside and seeing the queue and realising they were for us …

Awesome. So, you’ve been supporting the Dirty Youth on their UK tour, has it been enjoyable?

Henry: We get on with them really well, we’ve had a few messy nights out with them but it’s been a really fun tour over quite a lot of dates. You get a mix of tours where some you only do a handful of dates across bigger cities, but it’s nice to actually go to a few more places on this one.  We’re covering the span of the UK, we went up to Aberdeen …

I’ve heard that the Scots like to party …

Henry:  We love the Scots!

Josh: They’re amazing!

You’ve had a pretty good year, really – you’ve toured with some big names and you’ve done Takedown and Butserfest … what’s been the highlight so far for you?

Henry:  Belgium was pretty cool, we played a festival over there with some awesome bands like Heart in Hand, Anavae, Carcer City …

Josh:  Loads of British bands!  We got to play with some big American bands over there as well though.

Henry:  We haven’t done a lot of European touring, so it was nice to go over there and play to a big crowd.

Your debut album, ‘Last One Standing’ is excellent. Have you had positive feedback?

Henry:  Thank you!  Yes, we’ve had loads of good feedback so far.

I Divide album artwork

You released an EP before that, there was a bit of a gap in between the two?

Josh:  Yes, not quite two years in between them. We released ‘What’s Worth More’ in 2012, it was nine tracks, seven ‘proper’ songs and two instrumentals.  A few of us played in a band before and some songs on that CD were written before we really, properly formed I Divide.  What we began with was to get some music out there and some songs to play live, whereas ‘Last One Standing’ was us sitting down and writing an album, recording it together and that was the one we wanted as our debut album.  To answer your question, the reaction has been wicked and we’ve had some really good reviews for it.  It did really well in the iTunes chart.

Henry:  We didn’t expect that, really.  We weren’t sure what to expect!

What’s your favourite track to play off of the album?

Kristen:  I like ‘Tell Me Something’.

Henry:  I really like ‘Tell Me Something’ as well.

Josh:  I really like quite a few to play live – ‘Runaway’, we’ve been playing that for quite some time, as we wrote it quite early on. It’s a really bouncy song, really energetic, it’s the one that makes me sweat the most!  I really like playing all the songs off the album.  ‘Monster In Me’ is a bouncy one and ‘I’m Not Leaving’ is a good one to jump to.

Kristen:  It’s been good this tour – we’ve got a whole new set and everyone’s singing along, they know the words.

(At this point Kristen is stretching like a pro-athlete in the car park and it’s clear that they take this VERY seriously …)

Josh:  When you play a load of live shows in a row, we always warm up anyway but …

Henry: The last few nights I haven’t warmed up and I regret it quite a bit now.

Kristen: We’re getting older now, as well.

Oh, come on – you’re only 23! Anyway, moving swiftly on to a boring question, who are your biggest musical influences when you write and who does most of the writing?

Henry:  I would say Josh, mainly.  He writes a lot of the lyrics and the music.  I just kind of come along and get my guitar and start writing lead stuff.

Josh:  I’m not the best guitarist in the world, but I love song-writing.  I’ll sit down and write the rhythm, the lyrics and the melody – obviously I’ll get Tom involved for the melodies and the lyrics, then we’ll grab these guys and get the instrumental stuff put in.

You put a lot of pictures up on Facebook and you use twitter too, do you tend to interact with your fans a lot, or do you not really bother? You seem to be quite sociable and open to people.

Josh:  We try and put a lot of effort in to talk to our fans.  We do a lot of stuff on social media and spend a lot of time trying to write back whenever people tweet us and message us, to make sure people’s questions are answered and they feel like they have that interaction with the band.  I’ve been speaking to a lot of people tonight who can’t believe that we message them back!  Obviously it’s getting harder and harder as we progress as a band and we get more and more messages.  We were just chatting to some guys at the bar, one’s been a fan of the band for ages and wanted to buy us a drink and every night that we play a show we always go down and just talk to everyone, take photos with everyone and get involved and make sure that everyone who wants to meet us at a show can definitely meet us; we don’t ever want anyone to go away and say that they didn’t get the chance.

Well, that’s going to get harder as your popularity increases! Let me throw in a question to mix things up a bit.  Who’s the biggest pain in the arse on tour?!

Josh:  Henry’s the biggest drinker.  We went out in Sheffield the other night and Henry got himself into a bit of a state where he couldn’t really stand up and we had to carry him halfway across Sheffield to get him back!  He then decided to sleep on the floor of the van.

Henry:  It was £2.50 for triple vodka and cokes with free shots and the Jagerbombs were £1.00.

Kristen:  To be fair, we were all sick that night …

That brings me neatly to the next question. What are the best and worst aspects of what you do?

Henry:  It’s great to get out and meet people, to have connections with the music and stuff.  It’s an honour.  We had fans who came from Cornwall going up to Aberdeen to see us and they spent two days travelling. Sometimes people don’t understand how much it means to us to see people from home when you’re this far away.

Josh:  One girl has travelled from Paris today to see us, she flew in to London and got a train down here.  We were like, we had better play well!  There aren’t many bad aspects to it though, apart from missing home, that’s the only difficult thing.  When we were away in Belgium I had some family stuff going on and I found that quite difficult.  Being away from my girlfriend is always hard.

You’re playing the Zombie Ball at Halloween – what does it mean to you to be playing alongside bands such as Skindred and Glamour Of The Kill?

Josh:  Skindred are getting so big now, it’s ridiculous. It’s going to be sick, we’re really looking forward to that show.   We’ve always loved playing shows on Halloween because it gives us an excuse to dress up as absolute idiots and Skindred are one of my favourite bands to watch live. I got given a ticket to see them down in Exeter and now I’ve seen them about ten times.

So what’s next and what’s your long-term plan for the band?

Kristen:  Just getting our name out there, and to start writing for the next album.

Any festivals lined up for next year?

Josh:  That’s kind of where we are – at this point in time, over the next few months we’ll be looking to get festivals.  I was saying to Kristen earlier that next year is just going to be the year where we do try and get on to every festival going.  We’re obviously going to be thinking about album number two and doing bits and pieces for that, but we’ll be touring as much as we possibly can and just keeping busy.

Do you have any longer-term goals or ambitions that you want to cross off of your lists, or do you take things as they come and enjoy it?

Josh:  We all want to travel the world with the band – if we can get to the stage where we get enough international followers to make it worthwhile enough for us to fly around and see the world doing this, we would be happy.

Henry:  If we make it as far as Australia that would be awesome.

Indeed, it would. Finally, a question I should have asked at the start – how did you arrive at the name I Divide?

Henry:  We get asked that loads, but there is no answer – we need to make one up.

Kristen:  We need some kind of epic story …

Josh:  It’s lyrics from a Brand New song, actually.  We came to the decision because we all came up with about thirty or forty names each that we thought were good, put them into a massive list and took it in turns to cross names off.  We wanted something short and snappy that didn’t really mean much else that people would quickly associate the words with us.  We really need to make up a better answer for this question!

Well, I had a blast chatting to these guys and although they’re not currently touring as such, they have just announced a show on 28th November at the Zombie Hut in Corby – check their Facebook page for more details and tickets.  You can also buy a physical copy of their album from the usual outlets, or online at iTunes.

www.idivideband.com

www.facebook.com/idivideband

Check out the videos for ‘I’m Not Leaving’ and ‘Follow Me’ here –

http://youtu.be/YEcA_EsnBek?list=PLsqIiBny50NvR1K_bTTpJT-AwJKO75yb1

http://youtu.be/rNobv67EEnQ