Tag Archives: Rock music

Camden Rocks Fest mini-review

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

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

Damn Dice on stage at the Camden Barfly

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

New Device at The Cuban

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

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

The Wild Lies at The Monarch

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

Heaven’s Basement at The Underworld

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

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

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

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

All photos courtesy of Chris White

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 James Cassells of Asking Alexandria, 5/11/14, Southampton

Asking Alexandria are one of the biggest bands to come out of the UK rock scene over the last few years and, whilst they’ve had their well documented issues, they’ve made it out the other side and lived to tell the tale.  Now based in America, they’ve been touring around the world for what seems like forever, but they finally hit Southampton at the start of this month.  I was very privileged to grab twenty minutes of drummer James Cassell’s pre-gig time.  It’s a good one (and I’m particularly proud of it!), so kick back, grab a cold one and have a read.  Enjoy!

asking alex pic

So, James. You’ve nearly finished one tour and then you’re off to America for another?

Yeah, we’ve done about 5 weeks of this tour, we’ve got a couple of weeks left. We’ve got five days off and then we start a month-long tour of mainly North America and Canada.  We’ve never done a full Canadian tour, so it’s hitting a lot of cities that we haven’t hit before – we’re looking forward to it.

Awesome. You have The Family Ruin supporting?

Yeah, great band and cool dudes as well!

Let’s talk about ‘From Death To Destiny’, Asking Alexandria’s most recent album. It’s been very well received but how do you feel about it?  Do you think you’ve matured as a band with this record?

Definitely, I’ve always said it’s a much more mature album, especially considering the previous albums. The first one was very … not immature, but you can tell it was by teenagers.  The next album was very angry and with this one, we’re finding out our place in life, almost, so it’s a much more mature outlook on music and ourselves.  When we started the band, we were all teenagers; now we’re in our twenties, we have wives and houses, we are adults now – back then we were just kids on tour and were a mess, pretty much.

From_Death_to_Destiny pic

How does your writing and recording process work, do you all get together from the start?

Usually Ben will come to me with a guitar riff, or a chorus idea and we’ll work it, develop it and make a song and then we’ll approach Danny and the other guys. A lot of the songs on the previous albums have been mainly written by me and Ben.  This one was going about it a little bit differently and we wanted everyone to be a little more on board with the writing process, so it was a little bit more organic and not quite so disjointed.  It’s weird – a lot of bands sit in a practice room and just work it out and get songs, we don’t really do that.  We write ideas for songs and the first time we actually play it properly, is when it’s going to be recorded.  Even when we’re recording, we’ve never actually played it together.  With the next album we’re going to do that, we’re going to go about it in more of an original way.

Ah, I was going to ask about plans for the next album. Any timescales?

We’ll take the first half of next year off and in that time we’ll have a little bit of a break because we’ve been touring so much, we’ve hit pretty much every continent in the world this year, but we are also going to be in the studio recording album number four and we’re hoping to set a release date for summer.

Presumably that will coincide with a festival appearance?

Yes, we might be doing some festivals … if anyone looks back at our past touring schedules, you’ll notice that we do Europe in the summer and this summer, we did America. Last year we played Download, this year we did the Mayhem Festival in America.

You’ve launched the ‘AA Family’ website, like a fan forum type of thing. Tell me a bit more about that.

A lot of artists and bands, they have fan websites, but they charge their fans. We aren’t charging anyone anything. It’s a new concept.   We have 5 million followers on Facebook; if we post something on Facebook, it goes to a tiny percent of people and we were like, what’s the point?  So we said we were going to do our own thing, so we can actually reach our fans, when we want to reach them.

It’s also a place where they can access to new merch designs, pre-orders, chances to win tickets and we’re all on it. It’s still in its infancy at the moment, but we’re going to really step it up and we’re going to be doing loads of stuff that fans just want to see.  Hopefully it will become something really great.  I really hope it catches on because it’s a much better way for us to reach our fans and for them to interact with us and each other.

You’ve got many fans across Europe and the USA. Do you find there are any specific differences in the way that they react to you in the different countries?

A lot of people ask us that and honestly, the only thing that’s different is, for me, the accents or the language. The fans are usually very similar and its only when you go to somewhere like Japan, where in between songs they’re dead silent because the respectful thing for them to do, it’s their culture, everywhere else is very much the same, I find.  People love to sing along, some people like to rock out, some people like to just enjoy the music.  Maybe some places are louder or more extreme, but everywhere is the same.

Are they different when they meet the band?

We did a signing in the Philippines which was completely insane because they never see us – we’ve played there once, it was just crazy. People were trying to grab us … yet we’ll do the same thing in the UK or in America and it’s a lot different, people are a lot more respectful.

Well, we British are very good at queueing! Tell me what you’re listening to at the moment as you’re travelling round?  Any new bands to recommend?

I’ve been listening to The Family Ruin’s album (Dearly Departed) a lot, as I said they’re good friends of ours so I’ve been checking that out. I listen to a lot of electronic shit, especially if I’m in my bunk and just trying to chill out and sleep … it’s not verse, chorus, hooks and catchiness, it’s constant, background noise.  We listen to so much old school rock and classics, especially if we’re just drinking on the bus.

TFR USA tour pic

Who is the worst behaved person on tour?

What do you mean by “worst behaved”?

Like, who throws their toys out of the pram the most?

Ben can be a bit of a nightmare when he’s spat his dummy out, but it doesn’t happen often.   We’re all pretty bad, but to be honest, we’re not half as bad as we used to be.  When we were touring on the ‘Reckless and Relentless’ album, we were a complete train wreck, I’m surprised one of us didn’t die.  Now we’re a lot calmer, not as insane.  We’re all equally a bit older and a bit lamer, like I’m drinking Cup-A-Soup right now …

Not very rock and roll, James! Who is the best behaved and most chilled out?

Probably me.

Well, you would say that! In terms of Asking Alexandria as a band, where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

A lot of artists will have a market or a country where they are massive and everywhere else is lukewarm. We have a pretty solid fan base everywhere we go in the world and every time we go, we’re slowly creeping up.  We had a massive burst in North America to begin with and since then every notch, every album has gone a little bit further.

In five years, I just want to still be doing a vigorous touring schedule, but on a bigger scale. Bigger shows, more people, more albums sold.  For instance this tour we’re doing, this place is like, 1,700 or something, London will be about 5,000.  I’m hoping we can move to doing arenas and outdoor ampitheatres and whatnot. On this tour, we’ve so many dates very close together, so I’m really surprised we’re doing as many tickets as we are, it’s a great tour and the majority of it has been sold out.  In total I think we’re playing to about 28,000 people which is the biggest tour we’ve ever done and we’re reaching more people.  The last headline tour we did was only Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London and all of those were sold out.

What’s been the biggest highlight so far?

Download Festival and selling out Brixton early last year – that was amazing. That’s a venue that all of us wanted to play and then we found out we had sold out on pre-sale, that was really cool.  We actually recorded a DVD there that’s finally coming out, in time for Christmas, I think.

You’ve been together as a band for some time, what’s the secret to your longevity? What tips would you give to up and coming bands?

We’ve never had a line-up change, which is pretty strange for a band of our age that’s been around for this long. Some might say that what we did was reckless or stupid, but we just put all of our chips on black.  We moved to America with nothing and just managed to scramble our way to something.  You’ve got to be, like, if you want to do this, it’s what you do and you have to devote a few years of your life to nothing else.  You have to be very prepared that you’re going to wade through shit for a long time before you get anything.  You’re not going to make any money and everyone will tell you that you should have stayed in school, should have got a job … just persistence and hard work.

Wow. Thanks for your time, James.  Great answers, great tats and it was also a great show!  Check out the Asking Alexandria sites below, don’t forget they’re about to head out on ‘The Moving On Tour’ with The Family Ruin, Blessthefall, Chelsea Grin and Upon A Burning Body across North America and Canada.

Vik and James Cassells

www.askingalexandria.com

www.facebook.com/askingalexandria

You can place pre-orders for the two-disc ‘Live From Brixton and Beyond’ here – http://http://www.sumerianmerch.com/ and catch the trailer herehttp://http://youtu.be/BdJDdPNMpAk

Review of The Family Ruin – ‘Dearly Departed’

Fans of York-bred rockers, The Family Ruin (formerly known as The Fallen) have been waiting a long time for this album. Recently signed to KBB Records and currently about to head off on a tour of the USA with Asking Alexandria, it seems as though the band are hungry to get out on the road and destroy their American shows with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible.  I saw them back in the summer and they kicked some metal ass, so I was quite keen to grab a listen to their debut.

TFR Dearly Departed art

Dearly Departed is a full-on alt-metal fest, 14 tracks of bruising rock that sounds very current for 2014. Perfectly chosen opening track, ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ is a stomping tune, full of big riffs and vocals, although I did have to check whether I had actually put the right record on – there is, in my humble opinion, more than a striking similarity to pretty bad-boy rockers, Glamour Of The Kill on this track.

I had high hopes for third track, ‘Cirque De Sin’ – who wouldn’t with a name like that?! It didn’t disappoint, from the minute the speed riffs kick in, along with Johnny’s huge vocals, it just makes you want to get up and destroy stuff, although it seemed a little short, but maybe that’s just because I was jumping around whilst it was on ….

‘Let’s Go’ (which hit number one on the Sirius XM Octane chart within three weeks of release) is easily one of the stand-out tracks of the album for me. It has everything, great vocals, awesome guitars and a chorus that will stick in your brain long after you’ve finished listening to it.  I like the lyrics, I just like everything about it and you won’t be able to keep still whilst you’re listening to it.

Other stand out tracks include ‘Battle For The Sun’ – another epic track with lots of screaming vocals and huge guitar riffs, the absolutely beautiful ‘Haunting’, which is pared right back, heavy on the piano and really showcasing the vocals and also the awesome ‘Filth’. Not sure what I can say about that one, other than I can see it being a massive hit in the clubs.  A memorable hook, massive vocals, dirty lyrics … it’s just a huge track and probably my favourite.  ‘Let It Burn’ is also immense and will probably become an anthem for TFR.

Also, after listening to ‘Wake Up’ several times in a row, wracking my brain to think who it reminded me of, I realised that the riffs are a little bit Black Veil Brides. Obviously it’s a unique song, but yep, there’s definitely a bit of Brides’ influence in there!  Have a listen and see what you think!

Last track ‘Sonder’ has overtones of Bring Me The Horizon at the opening and it’s a great song; melodic, thoughtful and absolutely the perfect end to a an absolute belter of a debut album, which you can purchase from iTunes.  Do it – this is one that you definitely need in your collection!

www.facebook.com/TheFamilyRuin

I interviewed the guys back in June this year – check out the link if you fancy a read –

https://queenofrock75.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/interview-with-the-family-ruin-following-voodoo-rocks-festival-june-2014-london/

The family ruin band pic

BAND:

Johnny Mennell – Vocals

Craig Robinson – Guitar and Vocals

James Langley – Guitar

Dom White – Drums

Josh Adamson – Bass

TFR USA tour pic 

TRACK LISTING:

Bring Out Your Dead

Leech

Cirque De Sin

Let’s Go

Us Against The World

Battle For The sun

Haunting

Wake Up

Filth

Broken Hands

Let It Burn

My Addiction

Where We Fall

Sonder

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

Review – Soil plus supports, Weymouth Pavilion, 28.10.14

Soil band pic

It’s not every day that you get to see four bands of the calibre of the line up on the current Soil tour, especially in a sleepy seaside location such as Weymouth, so it’s no surprise that the good metal fans of the town turned out in force for this extravaganza. I’m not sure if it was sold out, but it was certainly a respectable number for a Tuesday night.

First on the bill were Canadian metallers, Wolfborne, who did an admirable job of warming up a growing crowd. I hadn’t really heard much of their material beforehand, so it’s always great to discover a new band and I hope I’ll get to see more of them.

Next up came rock/punk/rap outfit (Hed)P.E, who from the first note inspired a mosh pit down at the front, with the eager crowd singing the lyrics back to vocalist Jahred.   They belted out classic tracks such as ‘No Turning Back’, ‘Bartender’ and ‘Renegade’, as the temperature rose along with the energy. Jahred was out into the crowd at the front and general chaos ensued; his engagement with the fans was pretty awesome – a real lesson in how to be an excellent front man that many bands could learn from. They ended a manic set with a one-off cover of The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ which went down a storm.

I was a little disappointed with third band American Head Charge’s set, but then (Hed)P.E were a hard act to follow. Indeed, I think many of the crowd felt the same as the number of bodies at the front thinned out as their set went on. I found it to be a bit plodding, although more people came back when they speeded things up a bit. It seems that louder isn’t always necessarily better.

Soil tour poster

Last but certainly not least, came the mighty American band Soil, who have been one of my favourites for many years and it was a real pleasure to be able to have a quick chat with singer Ryan McCombs before the gig. The lights were down as Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ rang out across the room as an intro and suddenly, bathed in blue light, there they were in all their glory. Kicking off with ‘Loaded Gun’, Soil stormed through a killer set, with the crowd loving it and getting involved from the off. We were treated to such favourites as ‘The Hate Song’, ‘Deny Me’, ‘Way Gone’ and of course the epic ‘Breaking Me Down’. The penultimate song was the massive track ‘Halo’, before a finale of ‘Shine On’ brought the house down.

I’m so glad to have finally seen Soil, they gave an awesome performance and it was also a treat to be able to cross (Hed)P.E off of my must-see list. A fantastic night of metal in a good little venue, so a big well done to the organisers Advanced Promotions for another amazing gig!

Soil set list: –

  1. Loaded Gun
  2. Two Skins
  3. The Hate Song
  4. Deny Me
  5. Need to Feel
  6. The One
  7. Way Gone
  8. Redefine
  9. Unreal
  10. Breaking Me Down
  11. Halo
  12. Shine On

www.soiltheband.com

www.headcharge.com

www.hedperocks.com

www.wolfborne.com

 

Interview with I Divide, Southampton, 11.10.14

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

I Divide band pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve heard that the Scots like to party …

Henry:  We love the Scots!

Josh: They’re amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Divide album artwork

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

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

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

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

Kristen:  I like ‘Tell Me Something’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any festivals lined up for next year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristen:  We need some kind of epic story …

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

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

www.idivideband.com

www.facebook.com/idivideband

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

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

http://youtu.be/rNobv67EEnQ

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

Interview with Buffalo Summer, 07.10.14

So, only Fools and Horses, Orange Goblin, Space Raiders (of the crisp variety) and Game of Thrones … these are just some of the things that are currently powering Welsh southern-rockers Buffalo Summer around the British Isles.  The European leg of the tour may have been indefinitely postponed by headliners The Treatment, but our wonders of Wales are quite happy as long as they’ve got a TV and some potato-based snacks.  Bassist Darren King tore himself away from the google-box long enough to have a quick chat …

Buffalo Summer band pic

– You’ve had some epic shows this year with the likes of Skid Row, Buckcherry and Phil Campbell. Do any of those shows particularly stand out for you and why?

We enjoy all the shows! Madrid with Buckcherry & Skid Row was a definite highlight on that tour though. It’s the second time we’d played there and it was amazing to see Buffalo t-shirts in the crowd!

– How did it feel to be sharing a bill with the mighty Black Sabbath in Hyde Park?

There are no words to describe it! We had a blast throughout the day and got to hang out with Motörhead and Soundgarden for a bit … unreal! A big tick for the bucket list there.

– The new tour with The Treatment and Massive kicks off tomorrow, are you excited for it?

Hell yeah! We’ve been good buds with The Treatment boys for a few years, but we’ve never toured together. When the opportunity arose we jumped at the chance.

 – Any places you’re particularly looking forward to visiting?

We always look forward to places we’ve never played, which on this tour is only Northampton and Rotterdam! That being said we always look forward to Glasgow, Liverpool and Sheffield as we’ve always had an awesome reception there. The same could be said for most places though!

– What are you listening to on the road? Any new music we should check out?

The new Orange Goblin album is decimating my ears as I type! Surely got to be one the albums of the year and it only came out yesterday! The new Mastodon record has been getting pretty heavy spinnage in the van over the summer too and the States And Empires album – It’s Neil from The Phil Campbell All Starr Band’s new project!

– How do you chill out during your downtime? Is the travelling harmonious and do you all get on?

It’s about as un-rock and roll as you’d think! We usually mooch about watching films and TV shoes. We’re all really into Game of Thrones and stuff.  Can’t go wrong with a bit of Only Fools & Horses on a rainy afternoon in Hamburg though!

Because we’ve all known each other since childhood more-or-less, we all have the measure of each other and it makes being cooped up together that much easier. There’s minimal feuding going on … unless someone’s gone and polished off the last packet of Space Raiders!

Buffalo%20Summer%20album%20cover

– Who or what do you draw influence from when you’re writing new material?

Lyrically a lot of Andrew’s influence comes directly from our current circumstances. The perils and pit-falls of life on the road, with the overwhelming love of doing it. He’s also really ecologically conscious so there’s some stuff come from that angle too. Musically, we just write really organically.

In the first instance we don’t put much though into it – it just happens. Once we have a rough song floating about, then we’ll get the microscopes out and really scrutinise the parts. Everything gets refined from there.

– Is a new album in the pipeline?  If so, when might we expect it and what can we expect from it?

The new album is done! We’re in the process of getting it mix and mastered and hopefully it’ll be out at the beginning of next year!

– If you had to pick two songs to introduce a new fan to Buffalo Summer, which would you pick and why?

I would say the songs ‘Down To The River’ and ‘A Horse Called Freedom’. With ‘River’, it’s already one of our signature songs and displays our unashamed love of all things Southern. With ‘Horse, it’s one of the first songs we wrote and it has a bit more hoof to it, with a big sing-a-long chorus. Those two are fan favourites for sure.

– You are playing HRH in Wales in November which you must be looking forward to. Any festivals  in the pipeline for next year?

It’s early days yet, so we can’t say much … the new record will be out though so we should have some extra momentum!

– What’s your take on the current state of the music industry and do you feel that rock music as we know it is a dying genre?

It’s a difficult place to do business, that’s for sure. Then again – everyone and their Nana knows this. So when I see bands complaining about it I think “Did no one tell you? Did you not get the memo?” You have to have a fundamental and deep rooted love of living this life otherwise it’ll break you.  Of course, over time it becomes hard enough to break the best of them. There’s two sides to everything. Personally, I think rock is in a more diverse and vibrant place than it has been for a really long time. It’s as alive as it ever was!

– Biggest Buffalo Summer highlight so far?

Playing Download last year was indescribable. Our agent was there and he said “If there’s 200/300 people out there, I’ll be happy”. We walked out to a sea of Buffalo Summer tees and like, 2000 people. Shame I was so hung-over I can’t remember much else!  I blame Iron Maiden.

– What’s next for the band?

We’re on the road for a month now then we head back to Wales to get the album sorted and ready to roll. Also, we need to buy a new van!  Dear Santa …

You can catch Buffalo Summer on the rest of their UK tour with The Treatment and Massive, dates below: –

B Summer tour poster

October –

16th – London, Underworld

17th – Colchester, Arts Centre

19th – Norwich, Studio

20th – Southampton, Joiners

21st – Exeter, Cavern

23rd – Brighton, Audio

www.buffalosummer.net

www.facebook.com/buffalosummer