Tag Archives: London

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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Live review: Diamond Head, New Cross Inn, 5/10/18

In the edgy corner of London that is New Cross, there sits a large, dark, seemingly well frequented establishment known as the ‘New Cross Inn’.  This is a venue that I hadn’t patronised before, what with it being a bit far away from the backwaters of Kent, however on this particular weekend, the New Cross Inn was playing host to the ‘Four Sticks Classic Rock Weekender’; with 20+ bands playing over three days for the bargain price of £40.  Alas, I was only able to attend the first night, but what an opener it was!

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My first band of the night was Neuronspoiler, a hard rocking native London quintet who took to the stage with some amazingly high vocals and a classic sound.  Judging from the moshing that was going on over in the corner, this band are building a bit of a following and they rocked a short but sweet set.

Four sticks neuronspoiler

Next up came my hometown compatriots, purveyors of fun rock and generally all round nice guys, Saints of Sin. Having not seen them for around four years, I was expecting a slightly different sort of set from them, but they didn’t disappoint and launched straight into ‘Welcome to the Circus‘, from the latest album of the same title.  Featuring such crowd-pleasers such as ‘Feed the Fire‘, ‘Animal‘ and ‘Wasted Nights‘, plus a random yet awesome cover of Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’, the Saints put in a good, energetic performance and probably picked up yet more fans at the same time.  I said it years ago and I still maintain that they are ones to watch for the future.

Four sticks SOS 1

Penultimate band of the night fell to Northern dad rockers, Burnt Out Wreck.  Not having seen them before, in no way did I expect to hear the voice that came out of Gary Moat’s mouth, especially as I struggled to hear and understand what he was saying between songs.  They belted out track after track, including ‘Swallow‘, new single ‘Flames‘, ‘Pulling It Out‘ and ‘Rock Ain’t Dead‘; it certainly wasn’t as BOW finished with a passable cover of the classic ‘Highway to Hell‘.

Four sticks burnt out wreck 1

And so to the headliner, Diamond Head.  This was an eagerly awaited gig and I would say from the outset that each and every member of the band looked thrilled to be on the stage, even Brian Tatler in his understated way.  They kicked off a lengthy and somewhat sweaty set with ‘Shout at the Devil‘, swiftly following it up with ‘Borrowed Time‘ and ‘Dead Reckoning‘.

DH collage

Four sticks DH3

By that time I was flagging, although everybody else was loving it (some a bit too much, judging by some of the beer-soaked chaps sloshing the amber nectar over everyone in the second row) but the brutal songs just kept on coming (set list in picture above).

By the time they got three-quarters of the way through the set, the crowd nearly lost it when Rasmus announced they were going to play a rarely outed song from the “Canterbury” album, ‘Knight of the Swords‘ and they didn’t really get it back during ‘Lightning to the Nations‘.

Four Sticks DH1

By the time Rasmus started giving us the, “this man, Brian Tatler, wrote this song”,  speech, the crowd shouldn’t have still been standing, with the amount of ale they’d consumed, but they were more than ready for that song; as Brian took centre stage, spot-lit and menacing for the intro of ‘Am I Evil‘, the patrons of the New Cross Inn lost their shit all over again; perhaps not as energetic as they were at the start of the set, but they made up for it in enthusiasm and fine voice.

Basically, Diamond Head have still got it, in absolute spades.  They’re incredibly tight as a band, they know how to work together to engage the crowd and they rocked our asses off, as did the bands that played before them.  I wish we had been able to get back up to the Inn for the other two days of the Classic Rock Weekender, but I heard from colleagues that it was a blinder.  Well done to the promoters and well done to all of the bands and also the venue.  This is keeping rock music real and keeping it alive.  I’ll be there for the next one!

All photographs courtesy of @kriswhite a.k.a Dirty Rock Photography.  Thanks to Natalie Loren Conway of TAG Publicity.  Thank YOU for reading!

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, Queen of Rock.  Photographs are the property of Chris White, a.k.a. Dirty Rock Photography.  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.

Interview with Scott Sharp of Blackwolf

It’s been a bit of a year for Bristol rockers Blackwolf; what with touring, being nominated for the Classic Rock ‘Best New Band’ award, releasing their debut album … you would think that singer Scott Sharp would be above talking to a lowly blogger like me, right?  Wrong.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a more humble rock star and it was a real pleasure to chat with him for half an hour following a belter of a show at the Dome in London this month.  Enjoy …

Blackwolf band pic

Blackwolf was recently nominated for Classic Rock Magazine’s ‘Best New Band’ award.  How did it feel to see all of the support that you were getting?

We got a lot more support than we perhaps would have thought, really but Cadillac Three are a great band; I’m a big fan and I would love to get out on the road with them – it was well deserved.  To be honest, when Classic Rock nominated us, it hit us for six.  We had no idea and we were very, very chuffed, just blown away, to be honest.  We’ve been together for just over two years and the support that we’ve had has been insane.  We wrote the EP literally in my audition for the band and we recorded it a week later.  From that we got the Union tour, then The Answer and Winger tours.  One thing has kind of led into the other really, which is great.  We pledged for the debut album, ‘The Hunt’ and we did that just after our first tour.  It was a case of, we want to record an album, let’s just see what happens and sincerely did not expect to meet the target, but I think it took nine days and it just kept coming.

You’ve had some great, positive articles and reviews from the big magazines, Powerplay, Classic Rock etc., – do you enjoy doing press and publicity?

It’s a massively important thing because success for us is sharing what we’re doing with as many people as possible and magazines, radio stations and all the rest of it, they’re one of the prime ways (apart from live shows) to do that, so we relish it and we love talking to people.  It’s all fun!

I don’t like pigeon-holing bands, but if I had to put you into a genre, I would say you fit into the Southern rock genre.  Do you think it’s a genre that’s getting over-saturated?

It’s weird because everyone seems to call what we do something different, so some would say southern rock, some would say classic rock or modern hard rock.  To us, it’s rock and roll and that’s what we play, how we think it should sound today and we don’t forget what’s gone before us because rock and roll has such a rich bloodline which you can’t escape and we’re by no means interested in imitating or pretending that we’re in an era that we’re not.  That’s nothing against bands that do that, some bands do it amazingly, but every time we write or every time we do a show, we try and just take a step forward.

A lot of people say they hear grunge influences and that kind of stuff, which could be a little bit of me as I’m a huge Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains fan, all that kind of stuff.   I’m also a fan of people like Aretha Franklin, Big Mama Thornton, and all those kinds of blues and soul singers as well.   The influences do literally go from the beginning of rock and roll; Jason is very into Chuck Berry and our influences go right back to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, all the way up to Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry and what’s happening now.  There are all kinds of stuff in there.  I tend not to listen to our stuff much because I’m a huge perfectionist and I tend to pull everything apart; it’s good when you’re writing new stuff and I do hear the odd kind of metal slant it has and that soul edge.  I suppose it all kind of hovers around that blues rock and roll sound.

You’ve already mentioned your debut album, ‘The Hunt’.  Was it well received?

It was, shockingly so.  We got in the studio; our supporters paid for it all and got us in there and it was fantastic, in all honesty it was a real kind of intimate thing with us and the people that are following us and funding it all.  We did loads of blogs and video diaries, Q&A’s, stuff like that.  It was a very close relationship with the fans on that album and all we were really thinking about was making sure they were happy with it.  We weren’t thinking about magazines, or about how we were going to go down live.  When we released it, the magazines starting picking it up and for us it went insane because we expected it to get lost in the void as there’s so much good music out there.  We’ve been very fortunate with all the support that’s come out for us.

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How does your writing process work? 

It’s really important for us all to be there together.  Because our influences are so vast, it’s important to us that we all feed off of each other, but it will always initially start with a riff, or, like with ‘Moving Mountains’, I had a melody in my head  and I whipped out my phone and recorded it.  I took it to Ben, who’s like our riff-master and he just whacked something out straightaway and it fit perfectly.  That was on the way to rehearsals and we just jammed it out and it came to life – that’s pretty much how it always happens.  It normally ends when we’ve played it live a little bit – although we’ve recorded the album, we’re still writing the songs, they change constantly and continue to breathe.

Do you find it easy to engage with your fans?  You have over 5,000 likers on Facebook and you seem to be on twitter quite a bit … are fans that have been with you since the beginning?

Yeah, there are lots, we hang out with some of them.  In all honesty, I find it easy to talk to them because – and I mean this from the bottom of my heart – if it wasn’t for them, we would be five guys playing to an empty room and making stuff that nobody’s listening to, which is a bit pointless and just a bit of an ego massage.

With regard to Facebook, probably about two thousand of those people are also on my own FB account and we’ve got street teams, as well as a twitter group who spread the word for us.  In Birmingham we had a lock in with fans who came and saw us and a whole heap of them followed us to Hard Rock Hell and some stayed in our caravan with us!  It’s a lot of fun and they’re like family to us because that’s how much they mean to us – it might sound cheesy, but it’s crucial for us and anything we can do to encourage them to fall more in love with what we’re doing, we’ll do it.  There is so much great music out there and so many great bands, that I think it’s important to make that personal connection if you can.  Every show, we hang out at the merch table, whether it’s headline or support – we just want to meet as many people as possible.

But you won’t be able to do that for much longer, surely …

I don’t care, if the Gods look down on us and eventually took us to an arena or something like that, we’d still be doing it.  When we stop doing that, we’ll stop playing because there’s no point.  If you’re not playing your music for the people that want to listen to it, why are you doing it?

If you’re hanging out with fans all the time, do you get people coming on to you?

Sometimes, I suppose – it always freaks me out a little bit.  I’m quite shy when it comes to things like that, and I’m so over-the-top focussed on the music and what I’m singing!

Blackwolf B&W pic

You mentioned earlier that you’ll be starting work on a new album soon, are there any particular producers that you have lined up or anyone that you would really like to work with?

We’ve got a small list of producers that we’re meeting in December and there are a couple of people who we would love to work with, including Toby Jepson (Little Angels) and Jeff Rose (formerly of Skindred).

Who’s the biggest pain in the arse on tour?

It’s not really someone, it’s something, i.e., tiredness.  I don’t know if the other guys struggle with it, but vocally, I get tired and it’s constantly just keeping up my voice and what we’re doing. That’s probably the hardest part of touring.  I’m such a perfectionist that I hate it if I can’t reach 110% on every show.

I notice that there’s no alcohol in here either …

No, the guys do drink a little bit but I don’t touch the stuff until the last date, so I’ll probably have a drink tonight but whilst we’ve got shows I won’t touch it.  It messes with my vocal cords and people are coming out to pay to see us and we want to make new friends – I don’t want to let them down.

What are the best and worst things about doing this?

The best thing is looking out and seeing people, well for me anyway, and shaking their heads or grinning like a Cheshire cat.  The worst thing is looking out and seeing a straight face.  For me, if I see a straight face, I just want to get them smiling.  I don’t want to create anything weird between me and that person, but I do kind of keep coming back to them and obsess a little bit.

I’m very much a homebody, quite a rooted person and if we go on a long tour, sometimes I get a bit homesick, but that’s nothing, really.  It is something that I think about for later on, when we’re out on the road for eight, nine months at a time; we were talking to the Blues Pills and they’ve had four weeks off in the last twelve months or something insane and although we can’t wait to get to that point, and there is half of me that loves doing that, I’m a big family guy and I love being at home with my family.  It’s a double edged sword because we’ll come out and meet loads of new people and I love all of them too, that’s kind of what ‘Sleepwalking’ was about.

If the world was to end here in one hour, what would you do?

That’s deep … I would go and see as many of my friends and family as possible and try and get in a show with the people that want to come and see us.  If anyone out there wanted to come and spend their last few hours with us then that would be awesome!

What’s been the biggest highlight so far for the band?

It’s hard to say because every time we do something, something else happens that tops it!

A semi-serious question for you that I ask every band that I interview … given that rock is allegedly ‘dead’, where do you see the music industry as we know it heading?

I kind of get irritated when people say rock is dead, it’s absolute bullshit to be honest.  I think what people are on about when they say rock is dead is that the money in rock and roll is dead.  As long as people look at this type of music like that, it won’t make any money because it’s not about how much cash you’re making.  When it went down that route, it was the death of that element of it, because it became about something it was never meant to be.  If you go back to the original roots of rock and roll, it was deep, they played and sang about stuff that meant a lot to them.  As long as bands are still doing that then rock will still be alive.  People like Royal Blood, I think what they’ve done is fucking fantastic because they’ve gone out and they’ve shown that with the right support and backing and marketing plan, just two lads, they can do a lot of shit.  We just need to hijack their marketing plan!

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

We just want to share what we do with as many people as possible.  Playing arenas would be fantastic, if we can do that in 5 years I would die a very happy man.  Next year it would be good to get some more backing, like an agency and maybe a label.  It’s very intimate the way we work; we’ve literally got a manager and an agent and then us.  We have people coming out and crewing for us but it’s very small so more support in that kind of business element would be great.  As we grow as a band, hopefully we’ll get bigger and the quantity of people following us will grow.

Vix and Scott of Blackwolf

I would like to thank Scott for his time – it was awesome to chat to him and the guys in Blackwolf and it’s not very often that someone’s so happy to answer questions!  If you haven’t yet bought ‘The Hunt’, you can find it on iTunes.  check out the video for ‘Moving Mountains’ here – http://youtu.be/XayXsQIgImU and new single ‘Kiss The Fire’ here – http://youtu.be/M9TMwrxtkqg

www.ukblackwolf.com

www.facebook.com/ukblackwolf

Interview with the Dirty Thrills, November 2014

I recently had the good fortune to see an amazing performance from a band that I have only just discovered (not quite sure how this has occurred, but I’m so glad I’ve found them now).  London-based, self-confessed dirty blues rockers, Dirty Thrills rocked the Stillery early on the bill of Camden’s Nightmare Festival.  To be honest, I fell in love with their sound straight away and had to find out more about them; thankfully, they were happy to talk about the great state of the rock and roll industry, their burning desire to tour the States and, erm, pole dancing videos …

Dirty Thrills band pic

How was Nightmare Fest?

Ah it was amazing, we had a killer time (no Halloween pun intended). We were really impressed with our set at The Stillery.  Well, from what we remember, it was just an energetic blur, with us drenched in sweat and torturing our instruments.  We wouldn’t have it any other way though.

You’ve got a few dates coming up – for anyone that has just discovered you, can you give any hint as to when you might be touring again?

Yes, we will playing a few more dates from now until the end of the year so check out our Facebook for updates on those. In terms of a full-on tour, we are in the process right now of getting that together at the moment.  We plan on kicking off the new year with a tour – no messing about!

You’ve been going for two years, building on a solid fan base, are you finding it easy to pick up new fans?

In the most humble way possible, it is becoming a lot easier. I think as your band’s name and reputation gets out there and begins to snowball, more and more people starting joining your fan base.  We live on Facebook and twitter, spreading the word of our band, so it looks as if it is paying off.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

We’ve all got different favourites, but with a common passion for rock ‘n’ roll – to name a few; Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White, Rival Sons, Led Zeppelin.

If you could only tour with one band in the next year, who would you pick and why?

We were talking about this the other day as a band, and we came to the conclusion that Royal Blood would be a great band to tour with. We’re great fans of their music and their epic ‘duo’ sound.  Our styles would go together perfectly on a rock bill.

That’s one I wouldn’t miss! What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever given you?

We once had a couple of girls send us a video of them pole dancing to our song ‘Drunk Words’. We weren’t complaining …

How would you describe your musical style?

Dirty blues rock ‘n’ roll with melodic vocals. Our debut album has a bit of everything – riff-based tunes, heavier tunes, classic-rock and a rock ballad. Our style is for anyone who loves a good noise groover, but with something to sing along to.

How does the writing/recording process work for you? Do you all do it together, or add bits separately?

We have a very healthy recording process. The work process normally differs from song to song, but generally, one person has the bulk idea for a new song, and the rest of us build it up together.  It usually starts with a guitar riff, and then we go from there.  If we’re not feeling inspired we don’t force a song out, we just go for a beer!

What’s been the highlight for the band so far?

Probably writing and recording our debut album, the whole process was awesome. We’re already itching to get into the studio again.

dirty thrills album pic

What’s the best/worst thing about what you do?

There is no ‘non-cheesy’ way of putting this, but the best thing about we do, is the ‘buzz’! That moment on stage and in time where everything is perfect, and you’re having the time of your life.  The worst thing is the waiting around before a gig when you’re not allowed to be drunk, ha ha.

Are there any countries that it would be a dream to play for you?

We would love, as many others would, to play in the USA. Venues like Red Rocks and Madison Square Garden are up there with all-time dream venues to play.

Any 2015 festival news that you can share?

None that we are allowed to share at the moment, we’ve just started working with some new contacts just recently, and we will definitely have some exciting festival announcements soon. Stay tuned guys.

What do you think about the current state of the music industry and do you think that ‘rock is dead’?

No we don’t think rock is dead at all. People have been saying this for years, some even said it before the 80‘s and 90’s.  It’s not dead in the slightest, it’s just having a recharge.  It takes this ‘hiatus’ state for a genre to re-emerge as something bigger, better and different.  There are new rock artists appearing every day who are slowly turning the tide to a new movement, people just don’t know it yet.

Where do you hope to be as a band in 5 years?

We hope to have gotten bigger and better as a band, and to be playing all over the world for everyone to see. It feels like just the beginning for us, and we’re all excited as to what’s in store in the future.

It was both a pleasure and a dirty thrill (see what I did there?!) to chat to these guys – make sure you check out their album, which you can buy here –

http://dirtythrillsclothing.bigcartel.com/product/dirty-thrills-dirty-thrills-album-cd

Check out their website and Facebook pages here and make sure you don’t miss them next time they’re touring – these guys are going to be HUGE!  They also have an album launch show next Monday, 17th November at the Barfly in Camden, go to their FB page for more details.  Miss it, miss out!

http://www.dirty-thrills.com/

www.facebook.com/DirtyThrills

Also, take a look at the video (part 1, there are MANY more!) of the making of their album –

http://youtu.be/bUmB5ilwBHI

Headbangers Balls – saying ‘Balls to Cancer’!

If you thought charity had little to do with metal, you seriously need to think again.  Those awesome folks over at Headbangers Balls have arranged a series of gigs in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and they’re also raising awareness of testicular cancer. 
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Over eight venues around the country, the line up includes such heavyweights as Savage Messiah, Evil Deth, Onslaught, Collibus and a whole host of other kick-ass metal mayhem merchants*, all for less than a tenner a night!
(*see individual events for exact line-up details, as bands vary)
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07.11 CHESTER – THE COMPASS
Reign of Fury’s only HBB headline show
Chester
 
08.11 MANCHESTER – REBELLION BAR
Headline: Savage Messiah
Manchester
 
14.11 CAMDEN TOWN (FREE SHOW)
Headline: Anihilated
 
Camden
15.11 LONDON – BOSTON MUSIC ROOM
Headline: Fleshrot
London
 
05.12 NUNEATON – QUEENS HALL
Headline: Beholder
Nuneaton
 
06.12 BIRMINGHAM – THE FLAPPER
Headline: Lawnmower Deth ft. Dr Hell from Evil Scarecrow
Birmingham 1
 
13.12 GLOUCESTER – NEW OLYMPUS THEATRE
Headline: Bull Riff Stampede
Gloucester
 
17.01 BIRMINGHAM – NEW YEAR SHOW – THE FLAPPER
Headline: Onslaught
Birmingham 2
 
Head on over to Facebook and give the Balls’ page a like, also check out the individual events for further details.  This is a great opportunity to catch some fantastic metal bands, raise awareness of a killer disease and rack up some dosh for kids with cancer.  What more could you ask for?!
 

Interview with Funeral For A Friend at Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball, June 2014

Those Bridgend boys Funeral For A Friend are back with a vengeance, having just announced a headline tour next January, to coincide with the release of their new album, ‘Chapter and Verse‘.  Back in June, they had top spot at the prestigious Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball at Electrowerkz in London and I was lucky enough to interview them after they smashed their set.  So, in case you missed it the first time around, sit back, relax and have a read!

FFAF pic

Did you manage to catch any other bands playing tonight?

Pat:  Yeah, I managed to catch two songs from The Dirty Youth – they’re from Wales so, big up The Dirty Youth.  It’s not massively my type of music but you have to support good, positive people who just do it for the love of the music.  They’re out all the time working hard and that’s what touring is about – people paying their dues and cracking on and they’ve been on it from the get-go.

Your sixth studio album ‘Conduit’ came out last year, was it well received?

Pat: It got to number two in the rock charts in the UK and we broke the top 40.  It was a big success and surpassed expectation.

You’ve got a huge number of fans on Facebook so you must have had some really good feedback on social media?

Pat:  Yeah, I think YouTube views and comments were good.  There are a lot of avid, serious Funeral fans that give our videos and singles time, so yes, it’s always good.

You did the ‘Hours’ headline tour back in April, was it sold out?

Pat:  Yes, every date was sold out.

Do you prefer playing live or being in the studio?

Pat:  I think it’s a mixture.  When you’ve done your fill of live shows, you’re stoked on new material that you’ve been writing in dressing rooms and meeting up at people’s homes and when you go into the writing process, you fully launch yourself into it.  For us, on the new record (the seventh album) we just set aside two weeks and smashed right through it.  It’s in the bag and it’s coming out, probably early next year.

FFAF new album pic

We’ll look forward to it! What do you listen to when you’re travelling?

Pat:  We’re going to go from extremely cold to extremely hot here, but ‘m going to say Predator, Rude Kids and a lot of drum related things that I like to listen to, as well as hard-core and metal.  It’s a massive varied spectrum of all different musical tastes.

Let’s talk about the Wrexham Comic Con (FFAF are performing at the after party) …

Matt: We were asked to do it in April, but we were already on tour with our shows.  Jamie, the guy that runs it was talking about next year, but then he put on a second event; we could do the date, so yes, we’re going to be playing to a shitload of geeks.  We’re looking forward to it – we get to hang out at Comic Con all day!

Voodoo Rocks FFAF

Funeral For A Friend with myself and Natalie Conway from Red Dragon Records, Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball, June 2014 (Photo courtesy of Emma Radwanski, Emma Radwanski Photography)

You’re going to be doing some smaller festivals, like NASS, Godiva and those sorts of events this year; what are you aiming to achieve in the next couple of years?

Matt: There’s no real goal or plan, we just want to play.  There’s no world domination theory.  We love playing, especially to people who give a fuck about what we do.  We never really set out with any kind of goal to be big or successful; the success we’ve had has come through people wanting to come and see our band, which is awesome.  We’ve been a band for 13 years now and like everything, there have been peaks and troughs.  We feel privileged that people still care enough about what we do to come and support us.  We can’t ask for more than that, really.

You’ve been at it for so long, what sort of advice would you give to any up and coming bands that may be struggling?

Matt: Don’t set out with a goal to make a lot of money, be successful and sell a lot of records.

Pat: Further than that, don’t set out to be in a band, set out to be good with your instrument; be passionate about singing, or be passionate about playing the drums.  Don’t buy an instrument or kit to go and join a band, it’s stupid.  Have fun playing, fall in love with your instrument, your voice, yourself and then be in a band.

Matt: Do it for the fun of doing it, for the love of music.  As soon as you write for anybody else, rather than yourself, then you may as well just stop.

Pat: Trust me, you’ll stop loving it when you get to 22 and realise you can’t play your instrument.  Get good and then be in a band, otherwise you’re saturating an already over-saturated market, if you’re shit and you can’t play music.

Well, you guys should know, you’ve survived the digital revolution …

Matt: So many people are doing bands now that have never toured, that have never put the work in but are becoming successful.  In my eyes, if you want to be in a band, playing live shows and getting out there is the first thing you should be looking at; it’s the key thing.  If you’re not good at what you do and you can’t play live, there’s no point in you going any further.

Pat: The more you need to rely on digital aids, the more you mug yourself off.

Matt: God, anybody can make a record now.  All the shit bands will fall at the wayside and eventually we’ll be left with the good ones …

What do you think about the changes to YouTube? Do you think it will have a big impact on you?

Matt: To be honest with you, little by little everything is being taken away from the independent sector anyway.  Anyone that is trying to rape an artist’s ability to progress and get their stuff out to more people … it’s terrible.  It’s a misguided way to try to claw money back from an industry that’s trying to figure out how to operate now, with the way technology is moving forward and the way people consume music.  For me, one of the things I like currently is the resurgence of people getting into vinyl again.  It actually makes you a part of something, you have to invest time into a record and you end up caring about it.  You can download a track and just forget about it the day after.

Well, although rock has been outselling pop in the UK, a lot of people are saying that 2014 will see the death of the album. Do you agree?

Matt: I think that within this kind of music, albums will always be something that people will be into, even if it’s just collecting them.  I collect vinyl, as do a lot of my friends and even the kids coming to our shows.  If you’re, say, Coldplay, or a proper mainstream act, it might change drastically in terms of physical sales of records, but for metal and hard-core and punk it will always be there.

Pat: Thank God you can’t download merch.

Do you sell a lot of merch?

Pat: It’s what keeps bands like us going on the road.  When records cost £250,000 to make, bands aren’t going to see anything off of that. When you sell out shows and you’re selling merch by the bucket, that’s where you make a little bit of money, but even then it’s percentages.  As long as a band can stay on the road doing what they love, it’s all good, money is not the biggest thing.

It’s sad, though, because back in the day, record sales were everything.

Matt: We’d like to go back in time and be immersed in that situation again.  I got into records in the nineties so for me it was the last decade where music actually meant something.  With my generation I think there’s still a need to be part of something physical in terms of music, whereas kids who are brought up in this generation, they’re the iTunes and Spotify generation; it’s all done on the click of a button.  There’s no hard work involved and no emotional investment in bands any more.

Do you have anything that you would like to say to fans that have supported you all the way through your journey so far?

Matt:  Just, cheers.  We really do fucking appreciate it.

The new Funeral For A Friend album is released on 19th January 2015 via all the usual channels – interestingly enough, as well as vinyl and CD, they’ll also be releasing a cassette version!  You can catch them live – check out their website for the most up to date gig listings.

FFAF tour poster

www.funeralforafriend.com

www.facebook.com/funeralforafriend

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!

Review of Heaven’s Basement @ Electric Ballroom, Camden, 27/03/14

I can’t lie – I had been looking forward to this gig for months.  Even though I saw two of the three bands play at Takedown Festival less than two weeks ago, I was so ready for this one.  Unfortunately nobody wanted to come with me (it’s amazing how hard it is to persuade people, even with a free ticket!), but it’s all about the music – at least I still got to go! My train was on time, the tube was running perfectly and the queue for the Electric Ballroom wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had thought it would be.  There were three bands on the menu; a starter of The Dirty Youth, main course of Glamour Of The Kill and headliners Heaven’s Basement were up for dessert; my favourite … I like to save the best for last!

First up were The Dirty Youth – a five piece, female fronted band hailing from Wales.  Front-woman Danni looked amazing with her shocking pink hair, lipstick to match and a skin tight black and see-through outfit.  Fortunately, she has the voice to match her looks and she belted out song after song with that incredible voice of hers.  The guys backing her are all competent and it was a stonking opening, although the crowd took a little warming up.  ‘Requiem For a Drunk’ went over well with the crowd, Danni imploring everyone to clap along and a fantastic set finished with ‘Fight’, which saw her hold an awesome note at the end.  Surely The Dirty Youth are set to move on to bigger things …

After a slight lull, handy for a beer break, Glamour of The Kill erupted onto the stage with massive tune ‘Break’.  A new band in my collection, I absolutely love these guys.  They have attitude, they’re pretty and they sound great – what more could anyone want?  I wouldn’t say the crowd went mental, but there was a fair amount of jumping going on around the front with a pit going, everybody getting their fists in the air.  ‘Second Chance’ went over well, as did ‘The Only One’, both tracks from the newest album ‘Savages’.  I particularly enjoyed ‘If Only She Knew’; one of my favourite tracks off of first album ‘The Summoning’.  ‘A Freak Like Me’ went down a storm and they finished an impressive set with ‘Feeling Alive’.  Every time I go on to twitter or Facebook these days people seem to be talking about GOTK so I’m guessing that they’re also going to get very big, very quickly.  Bring it on – I can’t wait to see them again.

Image

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Cooke)

After another lull, during which I got chatting to some lovely long-time Heaven’s Basement fans (stick around long enough with this band and you’ll start to feel like you’re part of one big family, it’s another reason why I like them so much), the lights went down, the screaming got louder and you could almost taste the anticipation in the air.  With a shirtless Chris settling behind the drums, Aaron and Rob bouncing around like puppies on speed and Sid radiating bad-boy attitude with that trademark sneer of his, they launched straight into ‘Welcome Home’, first track off of the ‘Filthy Empire’ album (which has been out for well over a year; if you haven’t got it yet, why the hell not?).

Image

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Cooke)

Sliding effortlessly into fans’ favourite ‘Can’t Let Go’, the room was already moving as one, sweaty and excited, but when the opening notes of ‘Fire, Fire’ rang out, the crowd went nuts, the whole front section jumping up and down, everyone singing along; likewise with ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’.  I was surprised to hear ‘Straight To Hell’ (b-side off of single ‘Nothing Left To Lose’, which followed it), as I can’t recall seeing them play that track live before, although it’s a great song, with some awesome guitar work. ‘I Am Electric’ came next and unsurprisingly, the room erupted once again, general chaos ensuing, the crowd loving every minute.  It was nice to see Sid introducing and singing on old track ‘Paranoia’, a firm crowd favourite, before they slowed the pace right down with ‘The Price We Pay’.  One of my favourite tracks ‘Jump Back’ followed and Aaron was off out in to the crowd for his trademark surfing, everyone surging forward to support him as he came nearly halfway out into the room.  I turned to say something to my friend, looked back and couldn’t believe it when I saw he was doing a handstand.  On top of the crowd.  Absolutely awesome to see.

He made it safely back and penultimate song ‘Reign on My Parade’ thrilled the crowd, with Aaron inciting a sing off before the band left the stage briefly, the whole room stamping their feet and chanting for more.  Even if you haven’t seen them before, you always know there’s going to be one more song coming and it’s always the same.  The anthemic ‘Executioner’s Day’ is always an epic close to an amazing, sweaty, euphoric show.

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I left the venue feeling like I was floating on a cloud, a stupid grin on my face virtually the whole way home.  Heaven’s Basement have a tendency to induce that sort of feeling; I’ve only been following them for two years and this was the eighth time I’ve seen them, but for sure, it certainly won’t be the last.  If you haven’t caught them yet, you’re out of luck for the UK as by the time this gets posted, they’ll have left for Europe, but they are the UK’s hardest touring band; they’ll be back soon for certain.  With the trajectory they’re taking, if you leave it too long you’ll miss the smaller, more intimate gigs because Heaven’s Basement are heading straight for the top.

Check out the bands’ websites here: –

http://www.heavensbasement.com

http://www.facebook.com/glamourofthekill

http://www.thedirtyyouth.co.uk

(Big thanks to Amanda Cooke for letting me use some of her fantastic photos!)