Tag Archives: Rock music

Review: Wayward Sons, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Anyone who is old enough to have thrived on the nineties rock music scene will remember the Little Angels and also the bouncing vocals (and curls) of frontman Toby Jepson.  If you hadn’t been following Toby’s career, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is his first project in a long time, but you would be sorely mistaken.  Our Toby has been a busy bee over the years, fully utilising his songwriting and production talents for some high profile names, but if the last couple of years with Wayward Sons are anything to go by, clearly his heart lies in performing with a band on a live stage.

Wayward Sons album cover

The Sons’ burst onto the scene in 2017, with the critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Ghosts of Yet To Come’; featuring top class musicians from bands such as Chrome Molly, Gun and of course, Little Angels, the band quickly ascended the rock ranks as a well-respected outfit, winning the accolade of ‘Best New Band’ at the esteemed Planet Rock Awards in 2018.  They toured the ‘Ghosts’ album extensively, with a mixture of headline and support gigs and also several festival appearances, including Winter’s End, Ramblin’ Man and Stonedeaf.  Now, the eagerly awaited second album is finally upon us; released last Friday, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is described as, “Hard rock, but mixed with a vitality and energy – both musically and lyrically”.

Comprised of twelve tracks (plus a little hidden treat at the end), this album is not just a random collection of songs.  It is common knowledge that Jepson counts Freddie Mercury’s Queen as perhaps his highest influence, as well as admiring the storytelling mastery of other greats such as Elvis Costello and David Bowie.  It therefore comes as no surprise that the record has been loosely billed as a ‘concept’ album, having a ‘narrative thread’ connecting the twelve tracks.  A description on the band’s Facebook page says it is, “A ‘protest’ record and [Toby] describes the new materials as ‘political’, but not of the sort that seeks to hammer the message home, more of a reflection of his take on where the world and we are.”

WS band pic

So far, so good, but are the songs any good?  When I first listen to an album, I try and wipe my mind of anything that has gone before it, because sometimes second albums can be notoriously disappointing.  I like to take each record as it comes and this … well, it appears that this is a belter.  From the guitar picking introduction and pure spine tingling melody of Toby’s vocals (which are still as good today as they were twenty odd years ago), opener ‘Any Other Way’, is a rousing, fresh romp of a track that really does set the scene for what follows.  Listen carefully for the sweet harmonies on the unrelenting ‘Black As Sin’ and the twinkly piano sound on new single, ‘The Joke’s On You’, which carries a slightly more relaxed tempo and (I might be mistaken) also features a cheeky bit of cowbell.

I liked the meandering tempo on ‘Little White Lies’; it’s also very clear to see those main influences coming into play, particularly with the vocal effects and in the guitar sound and solo.  I also particularly liked the showcasing of Toby’s voice on the frenetic (and ironic) ‘Feel Good Hit’.

Fade Away’ features some rather beautiful piano on the intro (and again, it’s great to hear that mellifluous voice with no musical distraction), before exploding into a Bowie-esque, soaring, glorious wall of sound; again the Queen influence comes into play towards the end of the song.

The title track is a solid, chugging and bouncy anthem; thanks Toby, for that particular ear worm, I couldn’t get it out of my head for hours.  The pace cranks up yet again with next track, ‘Punchline’, which features a wicked, tight solo near the end.

I have many favourite tracks on this album, but ‘Totally Screwed’, the hidden, final track resonated with me on many levels; I liked the pacy, punky feel to the song and also identified with the lyrics; if you know me, you’ll understand why I say that when you listen to it!

The lyrical and musical progression of the band is clearly in evidence on album number two, which is a more confident and settled effort than the debut; whilst the style is still clearly owned by Jepson and the Wayward Sons, there is more artistic expression and exploration of musical style here, than there was on ‘Ghosts’.  There is also a very clear nod to the music of Jepson’s heroes, with a classic sound coming through that is unmistakable in its influence.  The PR blurb puts it beautifully, describing this album as, “Passionate, honest music made by passionate, honest musicians who have come together to create rock music that reflects their heroes from the ‘70s and ‘80’s – modernity through homage, that’s Wayward Sons.”  I couldn’t have put it better myself and I couldn’t agree more.  This album is a valuable addition to any self respecting music fan’s collection and I can’t help thinking that “The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be” is going to be a runaway success; it’s certainly in my top five albums of the year.

Be sure to catch Wayward Sons on a live stage near you, in support of Black Star Riders; I’ve seen them a few times now and their energetic live performances totally bring their already technicolour songs into even brighter focus.

Track Listing –

  1. Any Other Way
  2. As Black As Sin
  3. Joke’s On You
  4. Little White Lies
  5. Feel Good Hit
  6. Fade Away
  7. Have It Your Own Way
  8. Long Line Of Pretenders
  9. (If Only) God Was Real
  10. The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be
  11. Punchline
  12. Us Against The World 

VINYL ALERT!!!!   There will be a limited orange vinyl available from the band’s store: http://store.waywardsonsband.com/ and the label’s U.S. and EU stores: http://radi.al/FrontiersMusic

Wayward Sons are –

  • Toby Jepson – Vocals/Guitar
  • Nic Wastell – Bass
  • Phil Martini – Drums
  • Sam Wood – Guitar
  • Dave Kemp – Keyboards

‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ (released 11 October 2019 on Frontiers Music s.r.l)

  • Queen of Rock rating – 8.5/10
  • Stand out tracks –Any Other Way’, ‘Black As Sin’, ‘Joke’s On You’, ‘Fade Away’ and  ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Four part video ‘story’ –

Socials –

 

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.

 

News – Hawxx release new single, ‘You’re No God’

Hawxx logo

London rockers Hawxx have unleashed their new single, ‘You’re No God’.  According to the band on their Facebook page, the song, “… is a song for survivors. Survivors of abuse, survivors of addiction, survivors of illness and more. It’s a song of empowerment for those who have spoken out and those who are still silent. For those who have overcome and those who are still fighting. We want to use ‘You’re No God‘ as a mantra and as a song to celebrate our resilience and our power. And say ‘FUCK YOU’ to anyone or anything that has tried to control us or make us feel small.”  I say ‘Amen’ to that.

Hawxx youre no god

The song itself features an infectious bass line and some cheeky riffs, along with the trademark sweet vocal harmonies that we’ve come to expect – it’s an absolute belter.  The chorus soars with guitars and then the beat slows down, giving a menacing feel with the repeating vocal of the song title, before exploding back into a wall of sound.  The track does end rather abruptly; just like that it’s finished.  You almost feel a little bit cheated because you want to keep listening.

Hawxx don’t do girly and fluffy; what they DO do is attitude by the bucket load, mixed with a healthy dollop of raw talent and some great lyrical ability.  I said before they were ones to watch but now they are steadily ascending up the rock ladder, with their songs being picked up by both BBC Introducing and Planet Rock radio shows.

Hawxx band pic 2

You can catch Hawxx at their upcoming gigs which can be found on their Facebook page – give them a like whilst you’re there.  Rumour has it that an album may not be far away … for news, keep watching my site like a hawk!  See what I did there?  Oh, okay, I’ll get my coat.

(You can find the interview that I did with Hawxx a little while back here)

Listen to ‘You’re No God’ here

 

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.

 

 

 

Review – Matt Mitchell and The Coldhearts

MM&TC album cover

Well, it’s always better late than never and although I’m a somewhat tardy arrival to this particular party, this album has been on repeat ever since I received it.

You may know British singer and guitar player Matt Mitchell’s name from the ashes of bands such as Pride, Furyon and Colour of Noise; this solo project is the latest weapon in Matt’s armory to continue a steady trajectory to the rock and roll hall of fame. Due out at the end of this month, the eponymously titled debut has had an army of support from the likes of Planet Rock, who took ‘Black Diamonds‘ to their hearts for their ‘A’ playlist on heavy rotation.

That song is the first of twelve on the album and it started off with a sexy little lick, a strong, rhythmic beat and some cowbell; couple that with some sweet, gravelly vocals and a bluesy, classic rock feel and you have a winning formula for a banging track.

Third track, ‘On and On’, felt a little bit more pop rock to me than other tracks on the album, but I liked the easy flow to the song and the vocal harmonies deployed on the chorus.  In fact, quite a few of the tracks on the album were more pop rock/indie than bluesy rock; not usually my sort of genre, really, but I liked Matt’s unpretentious vocals and dare I say it, the easy listening quality.  The vocals are interesting, the melodies are striking and it has that sort of quality to it that, when you’re listening, you feel like you’re part of something bigger, that you could go anywhere and do anything you want to – that’s hard to explain, but certain songs and albums have that effect on me.

MM&TC Matt pic

Tracks such as ‘Unavailable‘ and ‘Do You Wanna Be My God‘ had a compelling, bouncy time signature to them and the big choruses will have you up and dancing around.  Equally, the more chilled out tracks were uplifting, such as the laid back ‘Old Enough and Ugly Enough’ and ‘Keep Me Safe’.

This is the sort of album that you can put on to get ready to go out, or to end a great night out, or to have a chilled out night at home.  It’s versatile, professional and a bit of a triumph.  The production is spot on, as you would expect, being recorded at Rockfield’s Quadrangle Studio with Nick Brine (Stereophonics, The Darkness and Thunder) at the helm. Matt writes songs about everyday life and sometimes, “Just for the love of rock and roll.” I can’t argue with that.

I really enjoyed listening to this album; it’s a great debut and I would thoroughly recommend that you give it a go.  Let me know what you think!

You can catch Matt Mitchell and the Coldhearts live: –

  • May 11 – Corporation, Sheffield – supporting Cats In Space
  • May 24 – O2 Academy, Islington – supporting Hollowstar
  • May 31 – Star and Garter, Manchester – supporting Hollowstar
  • June 3 – Cambridge Junction – supporting Hollowstar
  • December 6 – Trecco Bay, Wales – Planet Rockstock

Track listing: –

1. Black Diamonds
2. Home
3. On & On
4. Dare You To Watch
5. Kings & Queens
6. Unavailable
7. Do You Wanna Be My God
8. Old Enough & Ugly Enough
9. Wave Goodbye
10. Everything To You
11. Keep Me Safe
12. Waiting For The Sun

Released on 31 May via MMRecording Works – you can pre-order the album and merch here

Matt Mitchell and The Coldhearts: –

  • Matt Mitchell – vocals and guitars
  • Mauro Laconi – guitars
  • Dom Ladd – bass
  • Matt Cherry – drums
  • Stevie Watts – keys
  • Queen of Rock rating – 8.5 / 10
  • Stand out tracks – Black Diamonds; Dare You To Watch; Kings and Queens; Keep Me Safe
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 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: Brian Tatler of Diamond Head

Diamond Head logo

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

Brian Tatler
Brian Tatler performing at Amplified Festival, 2017 –

 Picture courtesy of Chris White @ Dirty Rock Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diamond Head band pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QoR: What does the future hold for Diamond Head?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

News: Diamond Head set for autumn European tour

Fans of the NWOBHM genre will be rejoicing at the news that legendary rockers, Diamond Head are due to unleash some heavy metal mayhem with a tour across Europe later this year.

Diamond Head logo

Organised by Agentur – EAM, the tour will cover eight countries and 22 cities across central and southern Europe, during October and November.

Diamond Head band pic

Diamond Head have been in existence for a whopping four decades and have already released seven albums; the band continues to write material and album number eight is already finished and scheduled for release later this year.

Following the release of their self-titled studio album in 2016, the band extensively toured the United States, Canada, UK and Europe, with festival appearances such as Bang Your Head, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock, Rock Hard, Storm Crusher, Psycho Las Vegas, Leyendas del Rock, Metal Days and Hard Rock Hell.

Back in the day, Diamond Head were a major influence on bands like Metallica and Megadeth, with the former covering four Diamond Head songs, including the classic, ‘Am I Evil?‘, selling around 10,000,000 copies and apparently available on eighteen different Metallica releases.  Over the years Diamond Head have toured with fellow legends AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica, Thin Lizzy and most recently Saxon, back in February of this year.

Diamond Head UK tour poster

The UK leg of the tour will see support from up and coming band, Killit on most of the dates.  Gin Annie will be the main support on the European dates, with Statement and Blinding Sparks also featuring on the first half of the shows, with the remaining gigs featuring Junkyard Drive and Tomorrow Is Lost.

Diamond Head Europe tour poster

For more information on how to get tickets, follow Diamond Head on their social media feeds.

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.

altered-bridge-logo

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.

alterd-bridge-live

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!

NEWS – Into The Fire release eponymous debut EP

What do you get if you take one part The Union Underground, two parts SOiL and one part Evanescence and blend it all up in one big musical melting pot?  Well, you get something pretty awesome, let me tell you.

Into The Fire band pic

The concept of Into The Fire was the 2013 brainchild of SOiL’s bassist Tim King, The Union Underground vocalist Bryan Scott and guitarist Adam Zadel, also from SOiL.  Friend and stick man, Will Hunt (Evanescence) completed the line up.

“I was sitting around with Adam one day talking about who would be great to jam with”, states bassist Tim King. “I shot Bryan Scott a text message and Into The Fire was born a day later.”

As Bryan puts it “As soon as Tim sent me the material, I immediately had ideas and started putting vocals down.  The music had the perfect vibe for what I wanted to do.”

Into The Fire EP pic

The first video from the American hard rock quartet, ‘Spit You Out’ is scheduled to be released as part of a special EP bundle, due out on 30 September 2016 through Pavement Entertainment. Bryan Scott engineered, produced and mixed that track, as well as the second release from the EP, ‘From The Medicine’.  Both tracks were mastered by James Murphy and are described as a ‘raw and stripped down rock sound with modern elements’.

Check out the EP trailer here and be sure to keep your eyes peeled as I’ll be reviewing Into The Fire for your pleasure in the not too distant future!

Social media links: –

For media enquiries, contact Rob Town at Stampede Press or visit Stampede Press

Interview with Jay Buchanan, Rival Sons December 2014

(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CULTNOISE.COM, 10.12.14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vikkie and Rival Sons, Pie and Vinyl

 

www.rivalsons.com

www.twitter.com/rivalsons

Review of Ramblin’ Man Fair, 23-24 July 2016, Mote Park, Maidstone

It’s certainly a novelty for the sun to be shining on a festival weekend, but Saturday 23 July dawned bright and full of the promise of a sultry smasher.  Having secured guest VIP passes, we took our time getting to the site at Mote Park, enjoying the feel of the sun on our backs as we walked from the train station at Maidstone.

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Much has been said about the queues to get in on the Saturday, but we only had to queue for 10 minutes or so before we were in; breathing in the familiar smell of BBQ meat and hearing the background noise of a sound check still taking place … walking into that field felt like coming home.

The Fair had four stages, set across a fairly large piece of the park; the main stage, the Outlaw Country stage (which became the Blues stage on the Sunday), the Prog in the Park stage and the Rising stage.  I already knew who I wanted to see across both days, thanks to the Ramblin’ Man app (much better, it must be said, than some other festivals), so we kicked back in the VIP bar for an hour or so, enjoying some people watching.

The Dead Daisies kicked things off for me on the main stage with their blend of 70’s and modern rock, opening a shining set with ‘Midnight Moses’.  Next track, a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Evil’ went down a storm, with people actually getting out of their folding camping chairs to take a get better look. The title track of the new album, ‘Make Some Noise‘ came next, followed by a great cover of John Fogarty’s ‘Fortunate Son’.  A competent, funky performance from this supergroup earned them much applause when their set finished – well worth buying tickets to see them tour with The Answer later this year (8/10).

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The Dead Daisies, Main stage

Next up on the Outlaw country stage were Arizona four-piece Hogjaw; their set kicked some English butt and they played a short but very sweet set to a packed tent, kicking off with the frenetic ‘Rollin Thunder’.  Just as the crowd was getting into it, they slowed it right down with ‘This Whiskey’, before ramping up the pace with ‘Gitsum’.  I couldn’t actually get into the tent to see them, but Hogjaw rocked the very appreciative crowd and they’re my hot tip of the weekend (8/10).

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Hogjaw, Outlaw Country stage

I stayed where I was to listen to Whiskey Myers; I don’t know any of the track names as I’d not come across them before, but they sounded pretty good; a cool, mellow, bluesy sounding band.  Another one to watch, I think (7/10).

At this point it was so hot that I flaked out on the grass and sent my colleague from Dirty Rock Photography to buy lunch.  This meant that I missed Terrorvision, although I could still hear them and see them on the big screens.  I have a special place in my heart for these chaps as much of the soundtrack to my misspent youth came via their albums’Formaldehyde’ and ‘How To Make Friends and Influence People’.  They romped through classics like ‘Alice …’, ‘Pretend Best Friend’ and ‘Oblivion’.  I rocked out as much as I could whilst grazing on a yummy, but somewhat overpriced, ostrich burger (8/10).

All I can say about old school old timers, Europe, is that they didn’t disappoint the predominantly middle-aged audience.  Wheeling out and dusting off such classics as ‘Rock The Night’, ‘Superstitious’ and ‘Cherokee’, the crowd was lapping it up.  The set ended, of course, with the obligatory crowd-pleaser ‘The Final Countdown’.  Cue lots of 40-somethings plugging in their air guitars and moshing with imaginary hair for one of the most anthemic songs of our time (8.5/10)… all I really remember is Joey Tempest’s stunningly white teeth blocking out the sun from the big screens.  Can someone please get me the number for his dentist?!

The rest of Saturday passed in a bit of a blur, with sterling sets from Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake, who capped off a virtually perfect day of rock in the sunshine.

 

Sunday turned out to be another beautiful day, although thankfully there was a miniscule amount of cloud cover which kept me from getting sunburned for a second time (and yes, I was using sunscreen!).  First act up for me on the main stage was old school, unashamedly southern The Kentucky Headhunters.  I knew about this band purely for the Black Stone Cherry connection, but I had never heard any of their music before.  Consisting of four mature, long-haired gents, this band absolutely smashed it out of the park, garnering appreciation from all four corners of a somewhat drowsy site.   I mean, who else comes out to play the drums with what looked like a fully stuffed raccoon sitting atop their snowy white locks?  These guys rocked it up with tracks from their not inconsiderable back catalogue, including ‘Walking With The Wolf’ and Freddie King’s ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’.  They played tracks from their latest album ‘Meet Me in Bluesland’, giving a touching tribute to the late almost-family member and fellow musician, Johnnie Johnson.

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The Kentucky Headhunters, Main stage

I’d already departed for the next band when I heard the crowd singing along to the Beatles’ ‘Hey, Jude’; I was gutted to find out later that BSC’s Ben Wells had made an appearance on stage with the Headhunters.  Overall, this was an outstanding set from a band that have only just made it to the UK; I think the Ramblin’ Man crowd made them suitably welcome (9/10).

Over on the Rising Stage, however, it was time for Illustr8tors (formerly BlackWolf) to kick off an energetic, if slightly tentative set.  I believe it was the first time that this band have played since their ‘rebrand’ and they eased into it, looking more comfortable as they dispatched each song, including new offering ‘Something Biblical’ and new single ‘Your Animal’.  Sounding sharp, singer Scott and co pulled in a decent sized crowd and pulled off a quietly triumphant debut appearance (8/10).  Look out for them touring later this year with the excellent Toseland.

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Illustr8tors, Rising stage

I stayed at the Rising Stage, although I could hear the most excellent Irish rockers, The Answer over on the main stage.  I was waiting for Dirty Thrills, a long time favourite of mine (you can find the interview I did with them here), although we had already been treated to an impromptu acoustic performance over in the VIP area a couple of hours beforehand.  As it happened, due to circumstance, I only managed to catch one song, filled with energy and attitude, with a pride-inducing large crowd gathered from the first note. I think it’s fair to say that Dirty Thrills are definitely on the up (8/10).

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Dirty Thrills, Rising stage

It was with great impatience that I weaved my way nearly to the front of the crowd over at main stage for The Cadillac Three; this is a band who I discovered a couple of years ago through Classic Rock Mag, but never had the opportunity to see.  Wearing shades and baseball caps, looking achingly cool and effortless up there on that huge stage, TC3 kicked off a sublime set with the sultry ‘Peace Love and Dixie’ from the EP of the same name. Such immense blues/country/rock tracks as ‘Tennessee Mojo’, ‘I’m Southern’ and ‘Back It Up’ showcased fantastic musicianship and genuine love for playing live (9.5). They had a fantastic and well deserved reaction from the crowd and I’m seriously excited for their tour later this year – I would highly recommend that you get tickets.

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The Cadillac Three, Main stage

I was in two minds about seeing Thunder; I’ve seen them so many times and they always put on a good show, so I settled for sitting at the edge of the VIP area and watching them on the big screens.  There were newer songs in the set, but also they rolled out absolute classics such as ‘Higher Ground’, ‘Backstreet Symphony’ and ‘Love Walked In’, finishing with the banging ‘Dirty Love’.  The issues they had with the sound didn’t seem to dampen the atmosphere and once again their set was competent and accomplished (7/10).

So far, so epic.  A fantastic weekend of music, beer, friends and the most glorious sunshine.  How on earth could an already amazing memorable two days get any better?  Well, it turns out it just needed three little words … Black. Stone. Cherry. I believe this was my fourth BSC gig and the third time I’ve seen them at a festival, although this was the first time they have headlined a UK festival.  The anticipation was almost palpable as Chris, Ben, John Fred and Jon took to the stage with an explosion of House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’.

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Black Stone Cherry, Main stage

Going straight into ‘Me and Mary Jane’, with the crowd knowing the words and singing along, the whole band were on superb form and sounding note perfect.  The energetic ‘Blind Man’ followed and ‘Rain Wizard’ drew a most favourable response from the assembled fans.  Chris took the opportunity to introduce the band, before launching into the epic ‘Soul Machine’ followed by a very competent cover of George Thorogood’s ‘Bad to the Bone’.  ‘Soulcreek’, ‘Maybe Someday’ and ‘Rescue Me’ followed, leading to an emotional rendition of ‘It’s In My Blood’, with Chris leading the audience in a repeat of the chorus of the track, having shared some confidences about depression and his personal struggles with thousands of people as if he was talking alone to his best mate.  I have to confess that I did shed a few tears during ‘Things My Father Said’; as I recently marked the two-year anniversary of my Dad’s death it was a rather poignant moment for me. Thankfully the pace picked up after that  with the marvellous ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’ – the first live performance of that track.

Last two songs were the crowd pleasing ‘White Trash Millionaire’ and ‘Blame It on The Boom Boom’, which finished an epic and highly emotive set.  The reflective, beautiful track ‘The Rambler’ – closing song on the new album ‘Kentucky‘ – kicked off a three song encore;  the anthemic ‘Lonely Train’ leading to a final and fitting tribute to late Motorhead front-man Lemmy with ‘Ace of Spades’.  I think BSC can be forgiven for getting emotional on what was, frankly, a triumphant and engaging first headline festival appearance.  Many people present had not seen them before and I’m 100% sure that they made a lot of new fans based on the performance they gave (10/10).

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Black Stone Cherry, Main stage

We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to a festival that, despite some teething problems (more toilets and please, please give the stewards better information about queuing to get in next year!) is rapidly rising to challenge other, bigger festivals in the UK for the title of the best.  This was only the second year of Ramblin’ Man and I was blown away by the nice atmosphere and the overall laid back attitude that pervaded the site across the two days.  I already have my ticket for next year so I hope to see you there!

Thank you to Chris at Dirty Rock Photography for the fab photos!

 

Footage of Illustr8tors – https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthemusicjourno%2Fvideos%2F1257576554283347%2F&show_text=1&width=560” target=”_blank”>Illustr8tors

Footage of Dirty Thrills – https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthemusicjourno%2Fvideos%2F1257606827613653%2F&show_text=1&width=560” target=”_blank”>Dirty Thrills