Tag Archives: Heaven’s Basement

Camden Rocks Fest mini-review

A sunny day in Camden Town, a few friends, more than a few beers and some rocking good bands.  I had a blast at Camden Rocks Festival this year, although I only got to see seven bands, due to so many clashes and a late arrival back from the Sheffield Heaven’s Basement gig the night before.  Anyway, here’s my mini review of the day.  Enjoy!

The first band of the day was Damn Dice (8.5/10), a native hard rock outfit who were all dressed in black leather, with more hair and eyeliner than I’ve seen on stage for a long while.  They kicked off with some riff laden, scissor-kicking mayhem, as they hammered their way through a convincing set, including the soundtrack to new video ‘Driven’.  With harmonics and headbanging aplenty, I thought their set was pretty good; this is a band on the up, with their debut album “The Great Unknown” hitting the airwaves on 24th August.  Watch out for them in future (and keep your eyes peeled for my interview with the band and my review of the album!).

Damn Dice on stage at the Camden Barfly

A swift trot over to the Stables and The Cuban meant it was time for the eagerly anticipated set from London hard rockers New Device (7.5/10).  Dressed in vests, with tattoos and biceps on display in equal measure, New Device gave a credible set, however for some reason they didn’t fully hold my attention and it all sounded a bit … generic.  They did perform to a packed room, however and I’d like to see them again to make up my mind.  I’m going to acquire a copy of their album “Takin’ Over London” next week …

New Device at The Cuban

I might get criticised for reviewing the next band, as it’s well known that they’re favourites of mine and perhaps I should have seen someone else instead, but Max Raptor (9/10) always give 110%, balls out, awesome energy to every single show and I couldn’t resist seeing them, as it’s been a while.  I wished I was anywhere else but at the Barfly though;it was absolutely heaving and I could barely breathe, let alone see the stage.  Wil and the guys looked lean, full of beans and more than up for a good show, kicking off with ‘The Great and The Good’.  There were clearly a lot of Max Raptor fans in the room and the whole place went nuclear with the crowd singing along to all the lyrics.  I was stuck at the back so I couldn’t get any decent pics, but with new song ‘Population’ thrown into the middle of the set, before the mayhem of ‘Obey The Whips’ and the pure genius of ‘England Breathes’, it was clear that the band were loving being on the stage as much as we were enjoying watching them.  A mad set culminated in ‘The King Is Dead’, with a massive circle pit going on down the front.  Never a disappointment, always mad, you’re seriously missing out if you haven’t seen this lot yet. Get on it!

A serious cool down was needed after that, so I headed to the Monarch to see The Wild Lies (9/10), a band that are full of old-fashioned strut and raunch, with a bang-on-trend sound.  Clearly a lot of other people thought the same as the place was packed.  A slick sound, coupled with 100% rock star appearance ensured that this lot went down a storm and I defy anyone not to want to rock out whilst listening to them.  With a Download Festival appearance lined up next week and a new video out for ‘Asteroid Central’, The Wild Lies should be on anyone’s playlist; certainly they didn’t disappoint any of the assembled throng in the Monarch.  Well worth a watch!

The Wild Lies at The Monarch

I couldn’t see Heaven’s Basement (9/10) and not review them;anyone who has followed my blog or Facebook page will know how fond I am of the Basement Boys.  Turning their usual set on its head and kicking off with ‘Executioner’s Day’, Aaron, Sid, Rob and Chris flew through a disappointingly short set, with crowd pleasers such as ‘I Am Electric’, ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’.  Sid did an admirable job of vocals with ‘Paranoia’ and Aaron couldn’t resist his trademark crowd surfing.  With some serious pit action going on I was surprised they chose to slow things down with ‘Price We Pay’, never a favourite of mine, but they eased the crowd back to fever pitch and finished a cracking performance with a two song encore of ‘Welcome Home’ and absolute favourite ‘Fire Fire’, which had the whole place bouncing.  This was my 15th HB gig and whilst I still adore them and their music, I think they need to crack on with album two and get some new material out in front of the fans.  Having said that, I headed to the bar absolutely dripping with sweat, euphoric at having been part of yet another awesome, atmospheric gig.  Roll on HBII and another tour …

Heaven’s Basement at The Underworld

I would love to tell you how amazing Skindred were, but by the time I came back from the loo, the crowd was packed tighter than a shopping centre on Boxing Day – I couldn’t get anywhere near them and the venue was getting ridiculously hot, so having caught a smashing rendition of ‘Kill The Power’, it was with regret that I headed back up to street level.  Judging from the reaction of those people closest to me before I bailed, Skindred’s set was going to be another good one.

With a banging head and aching feet, I headed back to the Monarch for the last band of the day.  Jett Black have been on my bucket list for a long time and whilst I couldn’t tell you what tracks they played, I know that they had an appreciative audience and sounded pretty awesome from where I was sitting (yes, sitting. I’m nearly forty, give me a break …).  Again, another band that I would like to see play a full set, sober and bright eyed and bushy tailed, to give them full justice.

Bands I didn’t get to see, but heard people raving about were – Glamour Of The Kill, Fallen To Flux, Bullet For My Valentine, Buck and Evans, Buffalo Summer and Voodoo Vegas.

All in all, it was an immense day.  I got to meet up with some friends, see some awesome musicians, spend time with The Boyfriend, sit in the sun and have a few beers.  That’s all you can ask for on a beautiful day in Camden Town.  Much kudos to the organisers and roll on Camden Rocks 2016.

All photos courtesy of Chris White

Advertisements

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

The awesome 2014 – a personal year in numbers

Well … What. A. Year.  I think I can safely say that 2014 has, without a doubt, been both the best and the worst year of my life.  I have been to some amazing venues this year, seen some truly awesome bands and some not-so-good ones, too.  I got to interview some idols, made some new friends and contacts, but I also lost my very dear and treasured Dad, whom I miss dreadfully.  As I write this, am looking at a very uncertain, scary but exciting future, due to the decision to uproot my life and move on.  I guess, as my God-mother recently told me, I’m not one to do things by halves …

Rival Sons Pie and Vinyl         

With Rival Sons at a record signing session, Pie and Vinyl, Portsmouth, 08.12.14

Overall this year, so far I have had 75 pieces of writing published via Rock Regeneration, Do More Magazine, Get Your Rock Out, Bournemouth Echo, CultNoise Magazine, Red Dragon Records and my blog.  I have seen 138 bands – of those, 114 of them I hadn’t seen before, and I have also managed to cross 17 bands off of my ‘essential must-see’ list.  I went to 7 festivals, most of which were one day affairs.  I also hit 2,000 views on my blog which I’m chuffed with.

There were several contenders for overall gig of the year, but there is no outright winner; I would have to say the Heaven’s Basement gig at the Electric Ballroom in March was epic, Download Festival was completely awesome (and I’m chuffed I saw so many bands to review) and the Winter Rocks Festival last week will go down as a highlight, purely because I got to meet some of my online friends who are also part of the Heaven’s Basement unofficial ‘family’ and of course, I got to see the band themselves play probably one of the sweatiest gigs ever (which was my 13th HB show, and hopefully not the last).  There was also the small matter of finally being able to interview my favourite guitarist …

Smily Sid and Vix

With Sid Glover, post-Winter Rocks Festival

Speaking of interviews, I conducted 32 of them, some by email, most face to face.  I discovered so many fantastic bands this year that I had not seen or heard of previously, including Royal Blood, Butcher Babies, Anti-Mortem, Liberty Lies, Killer Be Killed, Feral Sun, The Killing Lights, The Answer, The Treatment, Dendera, Blackwolf, Blues Pills, California Breed, Dirty Thrills, Diamond Days, I Divide, Massive, Nothing More, Skillet, Theory Of A Deadman, The Vintage Caravan, Regulus, Glamour Of The Kill, Die So Fluid, Bad Touch, Brother and Bones, Reignwolf, The Family Ruin, Twenty Two Hundred and Wovenwar, just to name the ones that immediately spring to mind.

Vix and Scott of Blackwolf

With Scott Sharp of Blackwolf

I made my radio presenting debut on Hope FM (which was sadly not repeated!), I had my first press wristband with Takedown Festival and my first AAA pass as Press Area Manager at ButserFest.  I also got to interview Shappi Khorsandi and review her live show, which  was fantastic, as I’m a big fan!  I’ve applied to 5 magazines, two record companies and one PR company for work experience, all of whom I never heard back from, but I’ll keep trying.

There are people I know who have done phenomenally better than me this year, but I’m extremely proud of what I have achieved – mainly because most of what I have written has come out of me being cheeky, asking for review passes, badgering bands for interviews and basically making a nuisance of myself with PR companies.  Although I have done nowhere near as much studying as I would have liked, I am still enrolled and it is my plan to press ahead with that in the new year, therefore I intend to cut right back on the reviewing (and yes, I mean it this time!).  I hope to have the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism by the end of 2015.

Download 3

I already have tickets for next year to see Glamour Of The Kill, Slipknot, Queen and Adam Lambert and for Download Festival, so 2015 is shaping up to rock even harder than this year.  I have also had confirmation that I’m part of the official Takedown Festival Media Team, which has made my Christmas.

To those who thought I was doing this as a ‘hobby’ and that I would ‘get it out of my system’, I would like to say that I’ve had the best year, music-wise and I have no intention whatsoever of sitting back and using 2014 as a bunch of nice memories and nothing else.  I passed that fork in the road and made my decision and now, I have every intention of heading in the right direction.  I can’t wait for the next twelve months and I hope you’ll continue to share the journey with me!  Bring. It. On.

Merry Christmas!

MerryMetalChristmas(1)

https://www.facebook.com/themusicjourno

https://www.twitter.com/queenofrock75

Interview with The Family Ruin following Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball, June 2014, London

TFR dearly departed plus pic

The Family Ruin are a fantastic up-and-coming rock band from the North of England.  They were meant to be touring around America with Crown The Empire at this point in time but, due to visa issues, unfortunately they weren’t able to go.  They have, however, just announced a support slot on the Asking Alexandria ‘Moving On’ tour of America and Canada later this year.  Also, their debut album, ‘Dearly Departed’ has just been released in America this very day (European fans – have some patience, only six sleeps to go!). 

So, in case you missed the original, first time around interview that I did with them earlier this year at the Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball in London, here it is once again for your delectation and delight! 

The Family Ruin WATERMARKED

L-R – Liam Redman, Wrath Of A King; Craig Robinson, TFR; Josh Adamson, TFR; Johnny Mennell, TFR; Natalie Conway, Red Dragon Records; Dom White, TFR and Me (Photo courtesy of Emma Radwanski Photography).

What did it mean to you to be playing alongside bands such as Funeral For A Friend at the Voodoo Rocks Club night?

It’s insane. I think, years back, we played with FFAF in our hometown of York (as The Fallen), so it’s great to be back on the bill with those guys, who have obviously massively climbed the ladder since then.  I think then they had just released their first EP, so they were at the level we’re at now.  It’s awesome to be playing with the Basement boys again, we’ve done quite a bit with Heaven’s Basement before and they’re good guys.  We’ve not gigged for 6 months and this is the first show since we’ve recorded the album and signed with KBB; it’s nice to be doing a high profile London show.  Good times!

You were formerly known as The Fallen. Did signing to KBB (a record label part-owned by Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria) bring about the name change?

We’d been The Fallen for many years and we wanted to stick with it. It’s a bit of a sad explanation really, but there are so many different variations of the name.  There are other bands out there with the same name and you couldn’t Google it and find us straight away.  KBB told us they wanted to do the best for us, that we needed to be easily identifiable, so we went through two weeks trying to think of a name.  We could have punched each other, we all thought we had the best names in the world and everyone else hated them … it took a long time to come up with The Family Ruin.  We whittled it down to about five names and sent it off to KBB, told them that we hated everything we had come up with and told them to choose.

So, who actually came up with The Family Ruin?

It’s a bit of a cheat really, but there’s a band I really like called Oh, Sleeper and I was looking for references to lyrics and stuff; they have a quality song called ‘The Family Ruin’ and to me, that just kind of sounded like what we were producing at the time musically and it defined the sound for me, in my head … I’m not sure if everyone agreed with that. It’s got an identity because you want people to read it as, The Family Ruin, so no-one’s perfect but we can all join together and make something of it.

Very profound! Who do you draw your musical influences from?

We’re all totally different, so when we come together to start writing songs, there’s a good starting point. I think that’s good though because we all like different genres of music and it all comes together to make our sound, which is hard to compare to another band.  Each song will vary; it’s not the kind of band where you’re going to get the same song throughout the album.  It also works well because we get to play with different types of bands; our songs sound like different genres.  We can roll up to some gigs and be the heaviest band on the bill and then we turn up to others that make us sound like Steps.

For anyone that’s not seen you before, how would you describe your show?

Party! That’s one thing that’s stuck with us through the years … one time we did a show back in Yorkshire and they put us on the poster as ‘party metal’, which is something we’d not heard before. We like to make sure there’s a groove in there so you can bang your head or have a good time.  We’ve been known to have a few beverages and we enjoy a good time, we just want everyone to come down and get rowdy.  We’ve got Liam (Redman, Wrath of a King) standing in on guitars tonight, he’s played a lot of riffs and tried to rock out to it, but he’s got some filthy grooves.  As long as it’s rowdy and the beer’s flowing, it’s just got to be a party.

You’ve just announced a US tour, what are you hoping will come from that?

Leaving work! That’s a big factor to be fair, we’ve spent a lot of years doing nine to five jobs, so the US tour is a massive step up for us – it’s a proper platform to take the new album on and it’s going to be awesome to be in the States.  We hope that they’re going to accept us.  We’re starting to work on a few other things over there as well, so all being well, it’s not just going to be the one tour, we have got other things in the pipeline.  In 2015 we’re going to spend quite a bit of time in America, and then we’ll focus back on the UK.

Well, you’re doing some UK dates this year, but nothing on the South coast. What’s that about?!

We hate them all, and we don’t like driving or really like leaving Yorkshire that much! No, to be honest, we’ve just been in touch with a really good booking agent who sorted us out for the UK to get us warmed up and prepped for the States.  We don’t want to look as if we’re just ditching the UK because we’re not, but this is just a small showcase tour.

But you’ve missed out the South completely …

Speak to the booking agent, although we’ve been to Plymouth twice …

That’s not the South coast though! What about Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth …

The plan is to go to the States for a while, build up a bit of a profile and hopefully that will feed back through to England. If we can get some more decent shows over here then we can tour the shit out of the UK.  It seems no matter what dates we announce, someone’s always asking why we’re not playing somewhere else.  It’s a shame for us, because we’re not hitting Scotland on this tour either and there are quite a few people up there asking why.  It’s basically just a quick, warm up tour and when we come back we’ll hit more dates.

You’ve been at this for quite some time now, what would be the one piece of advice that you would give to an upcoming band?

We would say, literally, don’t give up. We’ve had a couple of line-up changes, but you have to have a certain determination to stick at it and your heart has to be in it.  Over the years we’ve had some shit shows, we’ve lost money, but we’ve stuck at it.  You have to find the right group of people that you get along with – thankfully we’ve always had that, even with the members who have left in the past, we’ve never had musical differences or anything like that, it’s always been that they can’t fight the struggle anymore or can’t commit.  At a low level, it’s going to cost you a lot of money, you have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot of your free time and anything that you earn outside of the band, you’re going to have to put it back in.  But if the dream is strong enough, it’s going to pay off in the end, so stick at it.  If you really want it, it’s a lifestyle choice.  We all work to be in this band and if any of us didn’t, we would be nowhere near where we are now.  It’s all about the heart.

We’ve literally just landed on our feet with the whole KBB thing and everything has fallen into place since then. You have to stick to doing your own thing, too, but it’s all about your lucky break.  We started recording the EP this time last year with Sam and Joe Graves from With One Last Breath, they have a studio in York – we’re all local lads.  Ben Bruce was recording a solo album with Sam and Joe and they told him, very kindly, to check us out as he mentioned he was starting up a label.  They’d seen us play as well, but it all came down to luck.  KBB’s a very hands-on label, they want to get involved in artwork, the songs and give direction, but they’ve given us no ultimatums just because they have the knowledge.  They’re on the second stage of their careers, we’re on our first!

So ‘Dearly Departed’ hits the streets in the USA today, Europe on 29th September – seriously don’t wait to catch these guys – they’re awesome and fully deserve your attention!  In the meantime, check out the audio for ‘Let’s Go’ here – http://youtu.be/CdZ4aR6q06U

Keep an eye out for my review of ‘Dearly Departed’ – coming soon!

Work hard, play hard, engage or die …

So.  I’ve just had a bit of a rant over on Facebook (no change there), but it actually made me so cross that I actually felt I had to write a ‘piece’ about it.  Of course, it’s only my humble opinion, but it makes sense to me!

Bands that quit when the going gets tough.  There.  I’ve said it and I’m almost foaming at the mouth again just with those eight words.  I went on to a band’s Facebook page this morning, only to discover that they have changed their name and started again.  Fine, no problem with that.  The pinned post at the top of the new page, however, was a great long diatribe about how they’ve given their all for however many years but feel that they can’t continue, blah, blah, blah.  It was a self indulgent whine about how hard it is these days, what with venues closing up and down the country, the music scene dying off and basically slating the very people who have kept them going, because they’re moaning that no-one ever came to see them.  It may not surprise you to learn that I have some thoughts on this.

Firstly, your music was probably mediocre anyway.  You can get quite a long way with the support of a few hundred fans even when your music is crap.  It’s called ‘loyalty’ and these are the people that will come out and see you, buy your tee-shirts and wristbands and spend money they haven’t got on travelling to some godforsaken hole in the middle of nowhere, even if they know in their heart of hearts that actually, you’re not that good.  Hey, you might improve and they’ve already invested time and money, so they’re sticking with you because they feel part of something and are glad to be involved from the start.  I know, because I have done this many times (and just occasionally, I’ve backed a winner).

Secondly, everybody accepts that the music scene, particularly rock and metal, is changing.  If it doesn’t adapt to roll with the way the music industry as a whole is evolving, it will die.  All those millions of fans (yes, they’re still there, contrary to popular belief) don’t want it to die, so they keep buying the music and merch.  If the band is good enough and fully committed, they will make the effort to get off of their sofas and come and see them.

This brings me to the heart of the problem.  I don’t consider myself to be an expert in all things music, nor do I claim to be some kind of social media guru or have a degree in the music buying and gig-going habits of the general public.  I do, however, listen to a lot of music, spend a lot of time on social media, talk to a lot of musicians and have some contacts in the music industry who like to wax lyrical about every music fan’s favourite topic these days.  So, based on my experience and in my humble opinion, I’m just going to put this out there.  Bands that quit – YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM.  There.  I feel so much better …

These days, musicians have to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty.  They need to get on the phone, become a keyboard warrior, engage to a new level with their fans and basically work their fine arses off just to exist in the world of rock and metal.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, venues ARE closing up and down the country (and I’m not commenting on that specifically – it’s a whole other article), but I see it this way; when I go to a gig with a band who is good, whether it’s a well-known and loved venue or some flea pit that nobody has ever heard of, they will pack it out.  If it is a band that is, at best, mediocre and who are giving a half hearted effort (and who haven’t bothered to create a buzz around them and build a fan base online as well), of course it’s not going to be busy and they won’t get invited back.  Word will spread and yes, they will find that nobody comes to see them.  Stick with me, I do have a point and I am getting to it.

My memory of the nineties ‘heyday’ is hazy, but I don’t recall there being quite so many bands who were on the local gigging circuit.  Also, musicians seemed to stick with one band, for the most part and worked bloody hard at it (and played hard too).  I don’t remember many crap bands, although I’m sure there must have been some, but the gigs that I went to were always pretty much packed.  These days, there seem to be bands coming out of our ears and sadly, some of them should never have picked up instruments in the first place.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that virtually everyone has the opportunity now and feels able to give it a go, but frankly, it’s a cut-throat business and it’s over-saturated with new music.  If you don’t take it seriously, or you’re in it for the money, then you may as well hang up your drumsticks because you’re never going to make it, unless you get through via some steaming pile of excrement that passes for a talent show these days.

I’m going to name some bands here – I have chosen them purely because I have seen first-hand how hard they work to keep their heads above water.  So, bands such as Heaven’s Basement, The Dirty Youth, and Feral Sun actually work their arses off.  They cane their social media, making sure they engage with their fans – you can knock me for saying that all the time, but it’s the only way to go these days.  They make a superhuman effort to make sure that they keep selling their merch, because let’s face it, that’s where the money is nowadays, it certainly isn’t going to come from album sales alone now that we’re in the age of the digital download.  The Dirty Youth have successfully got people involved with going down the crowd-funding route.  Feral Sun have risked everything by self-financing their debut album to get it out there into the public domain.  Most importantly, each and every time they get up on that stage, they make sure they give it 110%; and on the rare occasions that they don’t, they acknowledge it and make damned sure that they do it better the next time.

All of these bands started from nothing and whilst they’re not yet at the top of the mountain, they’re making sure that they have everything in place to be able to reach the top whilst other bands are dropping off around them.  Crucially, they are also extremely approachable with fans and will bend over backwards to make a gig an experience that people will remember and want to repeat.  Music has become a customer service industry and if you’re not a people person, then you need to become one, or make sure that the rest of the band are.

There’s so much competition out there these days that bands need to be doing it bigger and better than everyone else.  If you turn up to a gig, have faces like smacked arses, don’t engage with the people that support you, play your set in a somewhat mediocre and uninspired fashion and then leave without seeing any other bands or speaking to your fans, you don’t deserve to be taking that slot.  Give it up to someone who is hungrier for it than you are, because they’ll give it everything they have to try and get to the top.

www.facebook.com/themusicjourno