Tag Archives: music

Interview: Chantel McGregor

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

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

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

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

http://www.chantelmcgregor.com/

http://www.dirtyrockphotography.com

 

Review – Altered Bridge, Chinnery’s, 23 September 2016

The whole world has heard of Alter Bridge, right? With their 5th album due, anticipation couldn’t really get any higher, after the 2014 smash hit ‘Fortress’.  So, if you have four competent musicians who are fervent AB fans, including a singer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Myles Kennedy (and sounds like him, too), it seems natural that they would form a tribute band. Enter Altered Bridge.

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Billed as ‘the UK’s first and only AB tribute band’, Altered Bridge hail from the south of England and before this gig, had performed as a band a grand total of two shows.  No pressure, then, when you are booked to play a legendary UK venue.

Just getting to Chinnery’s from Bournemouth was apparently a mission; traffic was hideous, but our fabulous foursome battled through and made it in good time.  There was no support band, so the beer was flowing and the tunes were playing to warm up what could be described as a bit of a scant crowd.  The die-hard rockers that did make it, however were most appreciative of Baz and Co’s efforts, as they kicked off their set with the stonking ‘Come to Life’, followed by the immense ‘Bleed It Dry’.  Anthem followed anthem in a very accomplished set, taking material from across the spectrum of AB albums.

Myles (Baz) looked the part, to be sure, although he seemed a tad nervous in places, especially when bantering with the crowd.

I wish there had been some more bodies there to soak up the atmosphere and make it a better gig for them, but there was definite appreciation from all corners of the room, especially when the epic track ‘Addicted to Pain’ popped up.

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The iconic ‘Blackbird’ was despatched with efficiency and then the rest of the band melted away, leaving Baz solo to pick up an acoustic for a beautiful version of ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Watch Over You’.

I particularly enjoyed ‘Isolation’ and the ever thoughtful ‘Ghost of Days Gone By’.  A big cheer erupted when Baz asked who had tickets to see our silky haired hero and his beloved band mates later this year, so I guess pretty much the whole room were counting down the days to an Alter Bridge gig in November.

So, basically you can’t go wrong if you love Alter Bridge; these guys know how to rock a room, they’re very competent, the ticket price was ridiculously cheap for musicians of this calibre and with more gigs under their collective belts, I can see them packing out bigger venues and possibly even attracting attention from the real thing. If I had any criticism at all, I would just say that Baz needs to load up the ends of the songs with some more vocals; occasionally he was content to just play rather than sing to the end.  He has a great voice – we want to hear more of it!

altered-bridge-live

Set list –

  • Come To Life
  • Bleed It Dry
  • Farther Than The Sun
  • Find The Real
  • White Knuckles
  • Addicted To Pain
  • Lover
  • Broken Wings
  • Cry of Achilles
  • Blackbird
  • Wonderful Life/Watch Over You (Acoustic)
  • Metalingus
  • Isolation
  • Rise Today
  • Ghost of Days Gone By
  • Open Your Eyes

Band –

  • Baz Edmondson – Vocals/guitar
  • Dave Beckwith – Lead guitar
  • Kris Venzi-James – Bass
  • Justin Young – Drums

You can watch the video for ‘Addicted to Pain’ at Chinnery’s – it’s a little bit dark! – here

Altered Bridge facebook

Altered Bridge Twitter

Thanks to Dirty Rock Photography for the pics – click the link to see the whole album!

Interview with Jay Buchanan, Rival Sons December 2014

(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CULTNOISE.COM, 10.12.14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rival Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vikkie and Rival Sons, Pie and Vinyl

 

www.rivalsons.com

www.twitter.com/rivalsons

Review of Download Festival, 10-12 June 2016

Yet again, the rain came, the mud grew ankle deep and tents got washed away in the campsites.  The traffic queues for the day ticket holders were appalling and people moaned about the line up.  I’m not entirely sure why we still put ourselves through it every year, but it’s like some sort of addiction; Download just has to be done.  It’s one of those quintessentially British things, like having to wait in a queue (don’t mention the toilets), or stoically paying a fiver for a pint …

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Anyhow, as I have always said, it is ALL about the music.  Except … it really wasn’t.  Last year, I didn’t review the festival because we had an exceptionally good time with friends and it was all about networking and enjoying the social side.  This year, we didn’t really see any friends, we didn’t see many bands, but … well, it was still good.  The Mockney and I sunbathed, we had a really good laugh and I made some new friends.  I will tell you about the bands that we did see … but here are some numbers to ease you in gently.

Number of …

  • Miles to get there and back – 404
  • Trips between the campsite and car park – 8 in total
  • Hours that it took to put the new tent up – 2
  • Beers consumed whilst trying to put said tent up – 6
  • Bands that cancelled their performance – 3
  • Bands that I wanted to see – 32
  • Bands that we actually saw – 11
  • Pints of lager/beer/cider consumed – Somewhere between too many and not enough
  • Decent nights’ sleep – 0
  • Pounds spent on mediocre, nutritionally bad food – approx. £65
  • Times we have been to Download – 7 between us (10 if you count ‘Monsters of Rock’ back in the day)
  • Times we got rained on – oh, please – I’m still trying to dry out now. Standard.
  • Episodes of tent springing a leak – 0 (thanks, Go Outdoors!)

Phew.  Now, let’s get to the serious bit …

raven eye

RavenEye on the Zippo Encore stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

First band to be seen on Friday was RavenEye (7/10), kicking things off on the Zippo Encore stage.  This was their first time at Download and many people hadn’t seen them before, hence the singer advising, “We can pop this cherry together”.  They seemed nervy to start with, but soon got into the swing of things, with a big groove and an appreciative audience.  A swift beer stop and a trek over to the undercover Maverick stage saw us in front of Zoax (8/10), fresh from an appearance at last weekend’s Camden Rocks Fest.  I can’t remember if it was raining at this point, but even if it had been, this band still would have packed out the considerably sized tent.  Blatantly pleased to be there, they belted out quite a few bruisers but also slowed it down with new track ‘The Wave’ from the newly released, eponymously titled album.  A pleasing set, with Adam singing from the crowd, rather than in front of them.  They loved it and so did I.

zoax

Zoax on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Next up were The Wildhearts (10/10).  A band that is very close to my heart, one of my earliest memories of being a rocker is playing ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’ to death.  Having seen Ginger play a very different set in Camden last week, it was a real pleasure to hear such songs as ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’, ‘TV Tan’, and ‘Suckerpunch’, as well as the ever awesome ‘Caffeine Bomb’, which was dedicated to the late, great Lemmy.  Energetic, musically tight and humble, The Wildhearts absolutely knocked it out of the park.

the wildhearts 2

 

The Wildhearts on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

With a few hours to kill and the rain not letting up, we spent a couple of hours chilling out undercover in the guest area before stopping at the Lemmy stage to see Rammstein (8/10).  I don’t have too much to say about their performance; if you have seen them before, you’ll know how compelling they are on the live stage.  Although they had some technical issues, they blasted through favourites such as ‘Reise, Reise’, ‘Seemann’ and ‘Du Hast’.  If you haven’t seen them, put it on your bucket list as everybody should see them at least once.  This was my first time and I wasn’t disappointed.

Saturday dawned with bright sunshine and a balmy temperature; we were slow to get going, so the first band we caught sight of was Inglorious (6/10) on the Encore stage.  They were one of the bands that I had marked as a must-see, but to be honest, I wasn’t that enamoured with their set.  To be fair to them, we were hungover and hungry; we also bumped into a friend, so I didn’t give 100% focus.

Turbowolf

Turbowolf on the Maverick stage, 11 June 2016

A band that did manage to keep my attention was Turbowolf (8/10) back at the Maverick stage.  I couldn’t tell you any of the songs they played, only that they gave 150% in a mad, whirlwind of a performance that went down extremely well.  I’ve seen these guys before, but they’re so good live – always worth catching if you can because they rock hard.  It’s worth it just for the keyboard action!

sixx AM 2

Sixx:AM on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Band of the day for me was Sixx:AM (9/10) on the main stage; the only reason they didn’t get a 10/10 is because I fail to see the relevance of two scantily dressed backing singers whose vocals we actually couldn’t hear.  Anyway, they smashed it out of the park with tracks such as ‘Rise’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’, also showcasing new songs from the recently released album, “Prayers For The Damned”.  Loved their set, can’t wait to get the new album and I hope that I get to see them again soon – outstanding.

It’s no secret that I am a massive Rival Sons (8/10) fan – I have seen them many times and I love their music.  However, much as I really wanted to give them top marks, I just can’t.  They looked sharp and they sounded almost perfect, but it appeared to be lacking something that I can’t put my finger on.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great set, with some real crowd pleasers such as ‘Electric Man’, ‘Secret’ and ‘Pressure and Time’ but … I wasn’t feeling it as much as I normally would. Perhaps it was because I haven’t yet got the new album, “Hollow Bones”, and they played a couple of songs from it, including the title track. Maybe I’d just had too much sun at that point. I can’t wait, however, to get my paws on that album and I look forward to seeing them with Black Sabbath on their farewell tour next year.

Rival Sons

Rival Sons on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

Which brings me neatly on to the Saturday headliner.  After I had just caught Megadeth’s ‘Symphony of Destruction’, the clouds were darkening ominously once more.  We experienced what can only be described as a cloudburst shortly afterwards and changing into dry clothes didn’t cheer me up.  By the time Black Sabbath (9/10) exploded onto the stage, my mood was blacker than the sky.  Quite fitting,  then, that they should kick off with ‘Black Sabbath’.  That iconic intro ratcheted up the excitement levels in the crowd and the atmosphere in the arena was intense as Ozzy did his usual manic run from one side of the stage to the other.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

They were clearly enjoying themselves as they cranked through a surprisingly short (only 15 songs), but nostalgic set.  The soggy crowd didn’t seem to mind the downpour, moshing along to classics such as ‘Snowblind’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Rat Salad’ and ‘Iron Man’.  The outpouring of affection for Birmingham’s most famous rockers almost  brought a tear to my eye, as they encored with ‘Paranoid’ and the arena erupted. We left at that point, but I believe that they ended a triumphant set with the introspective “Zeitgeist”, perhaps a strange choice.  Step up and pay your money, ladies and gents – ‘The End’ farewell tour tickets go on sale on Friday 17th June at 9am from Live Nation.

By the time Sunday limped around, we were pretty broken and quite looking forward to going home; having already packed the car, by 11 o’clock it was pouring down again and we were pretty miserable.  We did manage to catch The Raven Age (8/10).  They absolutely killed their set, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I’m baffled as to why the singer kept disappearing every five minutes.  Hard, heavy and sweaty, every single member of this band played and sang their arses off and were rewarded with a very appreciative audience.  I’ll definitely catch them again if I have the chance.

the raven age

The Raven Age on the Maverick stage, 12 June 2016

Last band of the day for us was The Temperance Movement (9/10); a band who I have followed with interest over the last couple of years.  Having grown exponentially in fanbase and confidence, TTM played a blinding set on the Lemmy stage (last time I saw them, they played the Zippo Encore stage), it’s just a shame that there weren’t as many people watching them as there should have been (let’s not mention the day ticket traffic).  My favourite song, ‘Midnight Black’ had me dancing in the mud!

mud!

That’s it!  Bands I didn’t get to see, who I heard good things about included Skillet, Savage Messiah, Santa Cruz, Reigning Days, Juliette and the Licks, Cane Hill and of course, the mighty Disturbed.  Gutted I didn’t see them.  I also hear that a little band called Iron Maiden went over extremely well on Sunday evening …

I moaned about the mud and the severe lack of straw to soak it up, but I really do have to hand it to Andy Copping; the Download organisers continue to learn from things that have gone awry in the previous years and  tried to put it right.    I do think that the whole event could be moved to later in the year to try and avoid the ‘Drownload’ syndrome, but that’s a whole other article … I’ve already booked a hotel for next year so bring it on!

Review of Rival Sons / Blues Pills / Jameson, Portsmouth Pyramids, 08.12.14

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It’s been quite a year for Californian rock and rollers, Rival Sons.  Fresh from a string of European dates, an award-nominated fourth album and a generally steady trajectory into the big leagues, tonight they were scaling the dizzy heights of … Portsmouth.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Portsmouth, in fact quite the opposite.  The newly refurbished Pyramids Live venue has a much improved sound system and a lovely new carpet – what more could a rock and roll fan ask for?

Kicking proceedings off was an earnest, solo young man from California by the name of Jameson.  Despite the unfunny comments about Irish whisky coming from the somewhat inebriated, older people I had the misfortune to stand next to, he did well.  Most of the audience were appreciative and considering it was just him and his guitar, I thought he did a fantastic job of holding everyone’s interest.  He has a new EP out, ‘Carnivore’, so I would recommend that you check him out.

Jameson live

Next up were the sensational Swedes, Blues Pills.  This was the second time I’ve had the pleasure of catching this band and I like them more each time I see them live.  Elin looked resplendent in a short red dress, long hair flying as she got into a groove, tambourine in hand.  With fantastic songs such as ‘Devil Man’, ‘Black Smoke’ and the finale of ‘Little Sun’, Blues Pills went down a storm and Elin’s voice is a treasure to behold.  It goes without saying that you should go and buy their eponymously titled debut album.

Blues Pills live

Finally, we came to the headliners.  Fresh from a record signing at the quaint and very welcoming ‘Pie and Vinyl’ in the town centre, Rival Sons took to the stage in a burst of colour, opening their set with ‘You Want To’.  Jay’s voice was sublime, Scott’s guitar playing was ethereal … I could go on, but they had me, and probably everyone else in the room, captivated from the first note. The awesome signature tune, ‘Pressure and Time’ followed and then, much to the delight of the crowd, the romping ‘Electric Man’.  Jay’s vocal did strain a little bit on ‘Secret’, but purely because he was so in the moment, I think, sinking to his knees with the microphone – nobody could ever accuse this band of not giving 110%.  Scott also gave us a sublime guitar solo during ‘Manifest Destiny, Part 1’.

Rival Sons live

One awesome track after another followed and it’s not very often that a band can hold an entire room in the palm of its hand for an hour and forty minutes – Rival Sons managed it effortlessly, almost made it look easy, even.  When they left the stage there was uproar, the crowd hungry for more and the Californian rockers obliged them with a four-song encore, starting with the insolent ‘Open My Eyes’ and ending with trademark song, ‘Keep On Swinging’.

It’s easy to be biased when you really like a band, but these guys came out looking every inch the rock and roll stars that they are and they just owned the stage from start to finish.  Today Portsmouth, tomorrow … well, who knows where Rival Sons’ epic journey will take them.  One thing is for sure, if you get the chance to see them in the next twelve months at a local venue near you, do it.  You might not get another opportunity for such an intimate gig.

Rival Sons Pie and Vinyl

With Rival Sons at the pre-gig ‘Pie and Vinyl’ signing session

Rival Sons set list: –

  1. You Want To
  2. Pressure and Time
  3. Electric Man
  4. Good Luck
  5. Secret
  6. Good Things
  7. Manifest Destiny, Part 1
  8. Torture
  9. Rich and the Poor
  10. Where I’ve Been
  11. Tell Me Something
  12. Get What’s Coming

Encore songs: –

  1. Open My Eyes
  2. Sacred Tongue
  3. Jordan
  4. Keep On Swinging.

https://www.facebook.com/rivalsons

https://www.facebook.com/BluesPills

https://www.facebook.com/jamesonmakesmusic  

Inherit The Stars release new video for ‘Still Alive’

Inherit The Stars Online Promo Shot

Sheffield rockers, Inherit The Stars, have announced the release of their new video for ‘Still Alive’, a belting track from their new EP ‘Beyond The Beacons’. 

Drawing from diverse influences such as While She Sleeps, Enter Shikari and Fightstar, the northern four-price have a style that is unmistakably their own, blending memorable guitar riffs, strings, killer drums and synths to create a recipe for success on the UK rock scene.

Unlike many of their counterparts, Inherit The Stars refuse to be tied down to one genre of music. On both their debut album and their new EP, ‘Beyond The Beacons’, edgy metal cuts stand side by side with classic pop; all facets of the band’s impressive sound are written and recorded with
dedicated craftsmanship.

‘Still Alive’ is a massive track – a fillet of rock that will slap you round the face to announce that Inherit The Stars have arrived and this time, they’re shooting for the moon.

Catch the awesome video for ‘Still Alive’ here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xri4SVeOnno – you can find out more via the links below.  ‘Beyond The Beacons’ is released on 8th December 2014 and last years debut album, ‘We Were Made To Walk The Skies’ is available via iTunes.

https://www.facebook.com/inheritthestarsofficial
http://www.inheritthestars.com
https://twitter.com/Inheritofficial

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.

4-Panel-CD-DigiPak-with-Tunnel-Pocket-Template

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

Interview – Ryan McCombs of Soil, 28.10.14

Four bands.  One soggy night in sleepy Weymouth.  It could only be the mighty American stalwarts of the metal scene (and one of my all-time favourite bands), Soil, bringing their headline tour to the South coast.  I was very, very lucky to catch up with front man and all round top bloke, Ryan McCombs before the gig. Here’s what he had to say

Soil band pic

So, how’s it been so far, touring with American Head Charge and (Hed)P.E?

I can’t complain, we did the European shows first and then came over for the UK, which is the opposite of what we usually do.  There are certain European markets that we expected to be good and they were great and there were certain markets that we were questioning, that ended up surpassing our hopes.  Here in the UK there have been a lot of sold-out shows so there are no complaints.  We’ve done two different tours in the US with (Hed)P.E so we know those guys really well and the guys, while I was over in Drowning Pool, they did a tour over here with AHC, so they all know each other really well and the first band Wolfborne.  It’s really cool when you get people coming to the VIP meet and greets and they’re talking about the first band; that band gets a lot of attention when they’re really good and surprise a lot of people, so they’re a great package.

What’s your favourite aspect of touring – what do you enjoy most about it?

It’s that time on stage.  Soil-wise, we’ve been doing this now for 18 years, so I think everybody thinks it’s cool until they come out here and experience a little bit – they realise just how much time you’re waiting.  Band members wake up, wait, sound check, wait, do the show, wait and leave.  Your pay off for being out here is that time you get on stage, so that’s definitely the highlight of the day, each day.

So, for someone that’s never seen you before, what can they expect from your show – how would you describe an average gig?

We’re just who we are, we always have been.  I would like to think that the show comes across as honest as the music does, I don’t know, I’ve never sat and watched us – I hate watching videos of live shows, I will leave the room as soon as it’s turned on.  I probably should watch, critique myself sometime and decide what I want to do differently, but I hope at least that the show comes across as honest as the music does and reflects that it’s just us.

Soil tour poster

Are you quite harsh with yourselves, i.e., do you beat yourselves up if you feel that you perhaps haven’t had the greatest show?

Absolutely, especially being a vocalist.  There are some days where, if the voice starts to turn on you, especially if you’ve been a little under the weather which happens out here on the road when you’re stuck in a vessel with a bunch of other people, it only takes one person to get sick and the next thing you know everybody is catching it at some point so the voice can turn on you.  Just the other night, the singer from one of the other bands (although I believe he’s over it now from what I heard in sound check tonight) you could hear that he was under the weather and my heart went out to him backstage because I’ve been up there when you just open your mouth and it’s not working; you get off the stage on those nights and you just want to crawl into a hole because there’s nothing you can do about it.  There are different nights where maybe you feel like you didn’t just grab that crowd like you should have and you over-analyse how the night went and what you could have done or said differently.

I’m sure nobody else over notices?  I’ve spoken to bands where they feel they haven’t given a great performance, but to us in the crowd it still sounded awesome …

I hear that a lot.  It’s also different for the other members up on stage – the guitar player, bass player and drummer; if we get off stage and they had an individually good show, then they had a good show and I think as a singer, you’re really more in tune with the reception that you’re getting from the eyes and the expressions on the people out there.

Talking of being on stage, if you could share a bill with any band, alive or dead, who would you pick and why?

I would say it would be Alice in Chains with the original line up, although I am the last person in the world that should talk about original line ups, but Alice in Chains was the first band that I kind of grabbed a hold of as ‘my’ band.  Growing up there was always music in my house between my Dad and my brother, but they were ‘mine’, so the original line up would be pretty awesome.

Good choice.  From what I’ve heard, UK and European audiences are very different to American crowds – have you found that?

To a large degree, although we have fans in the States that have been there since day one.  We did a tour last year with AHC who have a younger crowd than us and there were kids coming up to us like “Oh, are you guys new?”  After you get over the desire to slap the shit out of them, you thank them and let them know you’ve had a couple of records out there, spanning a few years!  We’re gaining more and more over there still which, having been around so long, is weird, but it’s cool, it’s what you need to maintain.  So there are the diehards over there, but it seems like from day one, especially in the UK, we were embraced and it’s having these shows that represent that – they’ve always stuck by us and it’s been more of a home than home to us sometimes.  I think there is that commercial mentality over there (USA) that it seems like a lot of people’s taste in everything, including music, changes with what they are told is ‘in’ right now.  Over here, I feel like a rock and metal fan is a rock and metal fan when they’re born and they die a rock and metal fan.  I don’t get that in the wider spectrum back home as I do here and in a lot of the countries in Europe.

Ryan live

Let me mention ‘Scars’ (the best-selling album from 2001) which is arguably the most “famous” album that the band have done.  Obviously ‘Halo’ is a massive track, it always has been.  Does it bother you that it’s how a lot of people discover you?

It’s definitely why we’re still here.   I don’t care, as long as they’re here.  At this point in my career, I don’t care if it was ‘Halo’ or another Soil song, or a song I did when I was with Drowning Pool, as long as they’re here and they’re allowing me a job – that’s what gives me a job is them coming out to the shows, buying a CD and just giving us the time of day.  I don’t care what got them here; if they’re here, it’s awesome.

Your sixth album ‘Whole’ has done well – can we expect a seventh album from Soil?

I don’t know, there’s been no talk of a seventh album at all.  I think when you get to the stage we’re at, no talk is the best talk – a lot of times we can go full circle and talk ourselves out of something if we talk too much.  We didn’t expect to do this one – we did the anniversary tour for ‘Scars’ over here and I went back home and I was feeling the drag of the business, as I had before I walked away from it. It took quite a while of talking again before we decided to do ‘Whole’.  So, there hasn’t been any talk as to whether we’ll do another Soil record, or if we’ll go and do something else but right now, I’m in the middle of two different  books and I’m finishing one that I’ve been working on for about seven years now; I’m supposed to have it done and ready for editing for when I get home in less than a week.  I’m concentrating on that as it’s supposed to be released the beginning of next year.

Wow.  An autobiography?

Yeah, it’s my stupid way of looking and laughing at my experiences getting to and through the music industry – as I want the title to reflect, it’s kind of the lessons learned on the path to rock star mediocrity!

Well, I’ll be first in line for that one!  Is there any particular producer that you would really like to work with?

I’ve had some great opportunities already, so nobody in particular.  Every time I go into a new situation I’m always a little leery because you want to be comfortable in the studio, but I’ve always been made to feel that way – I can’t look at any producers I’ve worked with and regret it.  On ‘Whole’ we worked with Ulrich Wilde and I’d never worked with him before so, again I was going into it nervous but he was wonderful to work with.  He’s an amazing guy and he just makes you feel at home – but I think also this experience would be so unfair for anybody to say anything bad about because for the first time, it was our call.  We didn’t have to worry about pleasing some stuffed shirt behind a desk in New York or something, what we decided to do was what we decided to do and I think it was great, really refreshing, it gave a feeling of freedom.  I think Ulrich loved the fact that he didn’t have to send something somewhere and wait for a response and see if we needed to change anything or go in a different direction.

You mentioned line-up changes earlier – obviously you’ve come and gone with the band and you’ve had some changes over the years.  What’s the secret?  You’re still enjoying it, even though you have other things going on as well.  What drives you to keep coming back?

I get restless every seven years … I don’t know.   I was very much a small town kid and I still have that small town kid mentality; I come from a very small town in Indiana and things move at a certain pace and people think a certain way; you open the door for people and you say “Yes, ma’am” and “No sir”, “Thank you”, “You’re welcome” and all that stuff.  This music industry just chews on you a little bit so after seven years of Soil, I just had my fill and I walked away, ended up joining Drowning Pool nine months later and did seven years with that too.  I may have a hang up though, because I was also married for seven years and the relationship I was in for that was seven years!  That’s why it’s so important for me on this album to do things on our own because dealing with certain types of people in the industry just sickened me.  It’s nice to be able to go into an album and hand-pick the people that we wanted to work with and that was very important for this record.

Do you have any festivals in the pipeline for next year?

Supposedly we have an offer on the table that will bring us back here next year for one of the festivals, but without being written in stone yet, I really can’t say anything.

(Well done Ryan, despite some serious pushing, he wasn’t giving anything up …) How do you amuse yourself whilst you’re on the road?

Back in the day on my original run with Soil I didn’t drink – I didn’t start drinking until I was in my thirties, so I was the guy locked up in the back lounge of the bus with his Playstation and all day long, leading up to show-time, I’d be back there playing football and all night afterwards until I went to sleep I’d be doing the same thing while everybody else was doing the partying.   Then I found this thing called ‘rum’ …so now typically we just have a few drinks leading up to show-time and typically a few drinks after the show.  I’m still an avid American football freak, so I’m keeping up with that and I’m writing a lot right now.  For me, I’ve found out that the things that I need to be able to keep my head straight is just to talk to home.  Before the show, after the show, we all talk to home and to know that that’s still there, everything’s still running good and there’s still happiness to come home to – that’s what keeps me running out here right now at this point in time in my career.

Good for you.  Do you watch any English football, or soccer, as you guys call it?

No, I don’t – I’ve never gotten into it.  My nephews got into it and I’ve seen it played but I don’t get it!

That’s fine.  I don’t get American football either!  Back to music, what’s been the biggest highlight so far, since you started out?

I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of experiences.  To be really simple, during my time with Drowning Pool we did a lot of USO (United Service Organisation) tours; going over to Iraq and Kuwait during the war in 05/06 and having that experience of feeling like you’re taking a piece of home to the men and women over there who are just doing their job at the end of the day – just looking out and seeing their faces that they’re not getting shot at for a couple of hours whilst you’re on stage – that was a very humbling experience.  We always stayed after a show until everybody had everything signed that they wanted, the shortest time we were there was two and a half hours, the latest time was six and a half hours.  We had men and women coming back from a mission – they had seen the show, went out for a mission and came back and we were still there signing and they were so thankful that they didn’t miss the chance to meet us. We got to do USO shows in South Korea and Guantanamo Bay and being able to go over there (and it was never about supporting war, it was always about supporting the men and women who were doing their jobs) was a humbling experience.

So, what’s next for Soil?

I don’t know.  I know there are people that would definitely like to see another Soil record and there’s people that would like to see me go off and do something on my own.  I have no idea, to be completely honest, as to what’s next.  I love writing with Adam and Tim so another Soil record could definitely be in the future, but there are other people out that that I’ve shared a stage with who I would like to write with.  There’s that part of me that would like to go home and focus on writing and go to bed in my own room every night.  So, I don’t know what’s in store, but I’m going to have fun doing it, I’m going to do whatever I can while people let me do it, that’s all I know.

Well, that’s all we can do whilst we’re on this earth, is have fun doing what we choose to do! Thanks, Ryan (even though you reduced me to a gibbering wreck with that sexy voice), best of luck for the future!  The gig review should be coming to a screen near you via www.domoremag.com very soon!

Ryan mccombs and vikkie

UPDATE – Since this interview took place, it has been reported that Ryan was taken ill last Sunday evening – I would like to wish him the very best of luck for a speedy and full recovery. 

www.soiltheband.com 

www.twitter.com/soiltheband

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?!