Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Single Review: Emission ~ SOUNDS LIKE A STORM

Sounds Like A Storm are a Leeds based rock quartet made up of Sennen Ludman, Joseph Schofield, Cormac Connolly and Connor Passey. They've been together less than a year, but that has most definitely proved long enough for them to have perfected the driving, angular sound and explosive live performances that they are becoming known for throughout the local live music circuit.


New single 'Emission' is every inch the fiery, resonant debut release; it's packed full of rousing guitar hooks and vehement vocals, with lyrics that tell an intensifying story of love and longing. For such a young band to have such a felicitous flair for songwriting is astounding; Sounds Like A Storm are undoubtedly one of the boldest and most exciting young bands on the block, and it's impossible not to be excited about what they'll do next.


'Emission' is available from 3rd February 2017

Monday, 30 January 2017

An Interview With CLAY ~ 29.01.17

I think it's safe to say that Clay had a pretty big 2016; relentless touring saw them performing far and wide across the country to huge, often sold out audiences- delighting fans, both old and new, wherever they went. A new single, 'Stay Calm!', was unleashed in April- and then came the release of a long awaited three-track EP 'Heaven', as well as yet another jaw-droppingly brilliant single in the form of '6AM'. The Leeds based quartet have proved themselves to be one of the most industrious and dexterous acts in the country at the moment. That euphonious musical brio that they've become known and loved for, plus a huge social media presence and following, has lead to an irrepressible leap in their musical careers, and I think it's only a matter of time before they hit the big time.


The band have just embarked on yet another UK tour, supporting the talented singer-songwriter Declan McKenna... and I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with them prior to their triumphant hometown show at Leeds' Brudenell Social Club...

How did it all start for you guys? How did the band first come about?
Joe: We'd all been in bands before... me and Jack are brothers so started writing together.
Jack: It was weird because I was writing with Joe, and I was jamming with Rob at the same time... so I was kind of cheating on them both!
Joe: Moonlighting, as it were...
Rob: Player!
Jack: And then we came together. It clicked straight away, really. We had the song that became 'Sun Dance' and that kind of moulded us together. That was the first release.

How long have you been together now? 
Jack: About two years, really.
Rob: September 2014 I think was the official start.

What did you grow up listening to and did any of that influence you to want to make music yourselves?
Joe: Definitely! All our parents played around the house was like 80's music so I think that brushed off on us. I really remember Rod Stewart being on a lot, and Duran Duran.
Jack: I don't remember being that into music really up until the age of about 15. I wanted to be a footballer! Then I realized that wasn't going to happen, so naturally I gravitated towards music. Me and Joe had always played the guitar and stuff.
Joe: I remember being in the front room with my mum and dad and they were like 'we need to get you a bit of a hobby,' and they said 'you either do jujutsu or play guitar'. I didn't really fancy getting my head kicked in so I thought I'd play guitar!

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do; writing and recording a really great track, or getting to perform it live?
Jack: The whole experience in general, really... from starting to write a song in the bedroom, to having it sung back to you by 300 people in a different city... that's rewarding for me.
Joe: I think for us, what still blows our mind is going to different cities and having sold out shows... that's just crazy. The other day we were walking around Liverpool, having earned the right to be there... that's weird. We couldn't even get emails back from promoters to put shows on at one point, so to be selling out shows in like Cardiff is crazy for us.

Can any of you remember what your ultimate dream or goal in life was aged 10?
Rob: I wanted to be a pilot at one point.
Danny: Funnily enough, mine was to be a famous drummer. So that's that one achieved!
Joe: I think I'd just gotten into Beyblades at 10, so probably something to do with that and Pokemon.
Jack: Yeah, we were really into Beyblades. We had an air hockey table and we used to play Beyblades on there! We are the furthest thing from rock and roll...

Joe, Rob, Jack & Danny

Is there anything that you've done so far- whether that's a certain show that you've played, a particular track or perhaps something else entirely that you're especially proud of?
Joe: When we wrote 'Sun Dance', we knew that was the one to go with. Zane Lowe picked that up and played it as his last 'next hype' before he left Radio 1... and that had been on my bucket list since the start, really. We were in Liverpool, we'd just played a show for my birthday... we'd been scrolling through Twitter in the hotel room and realized that Zane Lowe was leaving, which we were pretty shocked about, and then we got a call from our manager telling us that he'd picked us as his last 'next hype'... we were just blown away.
Jack: That was a special moment.
Rob: Especially because the gig was so bad!
Joe: We were on before a Swedish metal band.
Jack: Two swedish metal bands...
Danny: A scary situation to be in when you're only 17...

Has anyone in the band got any bad habits that annoy the hell out of the rest of you?
Joe: Just being bloody legends all the time! We spend that much time together that I think we've all just ironed out our imperfections.
Jack: I don't think we have any bad habits, really. Me and Joe used to argue a lot, but I don't think we do now... or one of us will compromise.
Rob: We irritate one another every now and again... but it's all fun.
Danny: My brothers from different mothers!

You've spent a lot of time on the road in the last year or so; what would you say are both the highs and lows of touring?
Joe: The lows... your diet.
Jack: We've done better this time!
Danny: We haven't.
Joe: I think, in total, we've eaten about 600 Greggs' sausage rolls.
Jack: One tour we'll develop a bit of an affection for KFC... the next tour it might be Greggs. This time it has been Greggs.
Rob: Well for you two it has... me and Danny have been smashing a lot of curries.
Jack: We had a Dominos in Newcastle! But I do think this time we've been a little bit better... and I wouldn't even say that's a low point, I quite enjoy that!
Danny: Yeah, you enjoy it at the time but then the day after you just think 'I'm fat'.
Jack: The highs though... playing radical concerts. It's a bit of an escape from reality being on tour. It's such a great routine... soundcheck, play, eat some shit food.
Danny: I'd say the low is coming home.
Joe: Days off are awful. You'll do six shows in a row and get into the swing of it, and then you'll have a day off and come home and you get knocked out of sync.
Jack: The post tour blues are hell. I remember the first tour we did, when we came home I was at googling for open mic nights to go and do. We didn't do it in the end!

You've just announced your biggest shows to date in Cardiff and Manchester for later this year... have you got anything special planned for them?
Joe: We've been discussing it over the last few days actually about doing some pyrotechnics!
Rob: We'll see what we can get in on a budget!
Joe: We'll do something mad, but I don't know yet. We kind of need to really though don't we... there'll be 700 people in Manchester so I don't think we can get away with a flashing light and a party popper! We did think about balloons... but people are scared of balloons. I used to go to school with a lass who was scared of balloons. Someone bought a pink one in once and she started screaming. What's the term for having a balloon phobia? There is a term for it because I remember calling this lass it.
Danny: We're gonna do something dangerous. Fire... a lion on stage or something.
Jack: We might put you on a platform and just push you out into the crowd, Danny.

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you get up to?
Rob: I'd like to see what the dinosaurs were up to, personally. Human life is boring to me... I've experienced it.
Joe: That's very profound! I'd go back and see if Ozzy actually bit that birds' head off.
Rob: It was a bat, for a start...
Joe: Bat, then. I'd see if he bit the bat, because there's no footage.
Jack: I don't know where I'd go... I'm not really arsed with the dinosaurs though. I might do something heroic... go and kill Hitler before he got into power.
Danny: Or save John Lennon... that's what I'd do.
Rob: But it's the butterfly effect isn't it, so you can't. If Adolf Hitler dies then someone else will just take his place.
Jack: I'd take his place and be nice.

Finally... what's in the pipeline for Clay throughout 2017?
Joe: Get bigger! That's it. We've been working towards getting massive, and we're kind of on the first phase, I guess.
Rob: It does feel like the cogs are turning!
Joe: We kind of started with that August tour and set our sights on certain venues... then we moved on to the December tour which we smashed. With these May shows... if you'd have told us last August we'd be playing them in May we'd probably have laughed.
Jack: But yeah, we're just gonna get bigger.
Joe: Like Arnie did! He was a nipper wasn't he... and then he got big.
Rob: I don't think he was ever classed as a nipper. He was always rather large, wasn't he?
Jack: We've got some new music.
Rob: Oh yeah, that too! Write, record, release.
Jack: The new stuff is the best we've ever written, and we're really proud of it. We're buzzing to get that out.


Check out Clay and their latest single, 6AM below


And just so no questions are left unanswered...


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Single Review: Firelight ~ COURTYARDS

Courtyards are a Huddersfield based quartet who, since their formation in 2015, have made it their job to provide us all with euphonious tunes, complete with infectious choruses and catchy hooks. Previous releases' 'Disarray' and 'Go Down' have seen the band receive high acclaim and airplay from BBC Introducing on a number of occasions, an impressive feat for such a young band. With their mellifluous and charismatic brand of polished indie-rock, it's most certainly well deserved success, and it all looks set to continue with the release of their third single 'Firelight'.


I liked the track straight away and saw it's potential but, admittedly, it took one or two further listens to really love it- and what really sealed the deal for me was seeing the band live recently in Leeds on the first date of their current tour with Double Denim Live. Henceforth, it immediately became clear to me that they very much have the airs and graces of a band who wouldn't be too much out of place playing to sold out crowds at arena shows.


The track opens with brooding basslines and lustrous vocals from frontman Matt. There is a real sense of authoritative confidence and urgency from the start, both within the song itself and from band in general; this results in an intriguingly atmosphere soaked sound with plenty of character. What Courtyards manage to do so effortlessly with 'Firelight' is create an interesting and unique fusion of charming indie-rock and melancholic lyrics and hooks, which in turn makes them stand out from the crowd. With a string of live appearances already planned for 2017, they will undoubtedly continue to build up momentum... and I for one can wholeheartedly say that they are one of the most exciting bands on the circuit at the moment, and one I cannot wait to see again.

Check out the music video for 'Firelight' below:

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Live Review: THE INDIGO PROJECT @ The Basement, York ~ 21.01.17

As far as music venues go, The Basement is somewhat unusual; it's located beneath a cinema in beautiful central York... a little unconventional perhaps, but I really loved it. I always look forward to seeing Leeds based quintet The Indigo Project live; I've seen them a number of times now, and they improve irrepressibly every time I do. Their stylish and masterful brand of indie-pop has earned them a legion of loyal fans both in and out of their hometown, as well as support slots with DMA's and Ocean Colour Scene, plus numerous festival appearances (including the legendary Reading and Leeds last year) since their formation in early 2015.

The Indigo Project

It was always going to be a notably triumphant show, and the band definitely had a lot to celebrate; their first ever headline show in York was sold out, and this came just one day after the release of resplendent new single 'Suburban'. From the second they took to the stage and launched into 'Loosen Up', they had their audience in the palm of their hands and pulled off an dynamic, note-perfect performance. Their set was the perfect blend of both old and new music, which displayed just how far they've come in the year since their debut EP was released. Their youthful confidence, coupled with an incontestably powerful stage presence and charisma aplenty leaves me in doubt that The Indigo Project are well on their way to sealing their place as one of the most exciting live acts around.


Special mention must go to supporting band, York based Cry Baby, who seriously impressed me with their polished and ebullient performance and have one of the most incredible drummers I have ever seen. Throughout the course of their set, they threw a couple of covers of well known indie-rock anthems into the equasion... but I definitely think they're good enough to pull off a great performance without any covers incorporated into their set, as the quality of their own music is incredibly high. It's always refreshing to see a young band with such zeal and promise, not to mention a real knack for songcraft. I look forward to seeing what they do next.

Cry Baby

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Single Review: Tenth Day Of May ~ THE AMERICAS

The Americas are the West Midlands based trio (made up of Harry Payne, Aaron Whittaker and Alex Bradshaw) who, after bonding over a mutual love of Bob Dylan, decided to get together in late 2015 and create something wonderful of their own. Having described their sound as 'music to ride a motorcycle to', their quintessential rock and roll styling has won them plenty of attention from some of the music industrys' most influential bigwigs; they were crowned Gigslutz Best Newcomer of 2016, one of Fred Perry's Subculture Tips for 2017, and they've also been the recipiants of high acclaim from BBC Introducing.


From start to finish, the track exudes a playful jubilance musically, despite being somewhat brooding, lyrically. I was immediately drawn in by the opulent and spirited vocal brio which, alongside the zealous instrumentation, paint an idyllic picture of exactly what this band are all about- which is dynamic and irresistably catchy hooks, with an undeniably classic but exceedingly cool edge.

Check out the music video for 'Tenth Day Of May' below:

 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Independent Venue Week 2017 Special

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of Independent Venue Week... one of the most imperative celebrations of live music in the country... and one which, in this day and age, as small music venues continue to struggle and face closure is more important than ever before. When I first started going to gigs a number of years ago, I remember spending much of my time at a fantastic little place in Leeds called The Cockpit; it was there that I had the pleasure of seeing some of my favourite bands... Swim Deep, Wolf Alice, The Darlingtons, to name but a few. My final gig there, shortly before its' closure in 2014, was The Enemy- a band I'd grown up with. To me, (and I'm sure so many others, too) it was a devastating loss. Those were the early days for me, and some of my very first 'proper' experiences of live music.


 

What's important to remember are those lifechanging experiences that I'm sure we've all had at some time or another within the four walls of an independently ran music venue and how different life would be if we didn't have them; for me, a defining moment as such came around on Saturday the 15th of October last year when I attended an incredibly special gig at The Library in Leeds (which is one of the partaking IVW venues) organised by 360 Club. It was there that I saw a band called Cabezudos for the first time, who since then have made quite a name for themselves all across the country... proof furthermore of how important it is for up and coming bands to have that stepping stone to be able to go on to achieve big things.

Over the course of 7 days, a handful of partaking venues are set to host some of the most exciting up and coming bands and artists- therefore encouraging people to get out and help support musicians who might just go on to become the next big breakthrough act. I wanted to find out more about the plight of our small music venues from those who are right in the thick of it on a daily basis; naturally, the first people who spring to mind are the bands themselves. I had a chat with London based quartet Paves recently about this, and about the local music scene where they're from...

We've lost a lot of legends in the last twelve months- Bowie and Prince, to name but a few- and there's been a lot of focus this year in the media about how we're now beginning to lose many of our small music venues across the country... so we're losing the places that are giving acts that opportunity to start out, get noticed and follow in the footsteps of these musical greats. As a band, has that affected you in any way? It's something that needs to be addressed, isn't it?
Mike: I liked the Rythym Factory, we played one of our early shows there and it got shut down soon after.
Tom: The Purple Turtle was one of our favourite venues, and that got bought out.
Luke: It's a bit weird because in London there are a lot of venues... but the ones that got shut down seemed to be the ones that we favoured. There's so much happening in London but you don't always notice it... we're cutting down on gigs, we only do like one every two months, but we're doing our own shows. We pick the venues, and it is noticeable... compared to 2 years ago when we were looking at venues to play, you can tell there's a lot less of them, small venues especially.
Mike: There's not much money in it to keep them going in the kind of scene we're in. Most of the people that go out clubbing will go and listen to the stuff that's in the charts which is why those places make loads of money... so I think if guitar music does make a comeback, that'll help.
Perry: I think a lot of these places are scared to put a band on... I'm from a place called Sutton, and there used to be bands playing in the small pubs, but they're now closing and a lot of the ones that are still going aren't doing live music. Even if it's just a band doing covers it's still a chance for people to get out and see live music and enjoy it.
Tom: There are always bands looking to play gigs as well, that's the really weird thing so it's not finding acts that they're struggling with, it's literally getting people through the door.

Paves
Independent Venue Week is not only an opportunity to get out and enjoy some top quality live music... but also a chance to pay homage to those dedicated and crucial individuals who are responsible for the day to day running of the venues themselves and the events that take place there. I've attended many an awe inspiring gig put on at The Library in Leeds by the brilliant Richard Watson of 360 Club, and on Friday 27th January, he is set to play host to one of the official IVW events featuring Leeds' Dusk, Glass Mountain, Fighting Caravans and Sam Wilde. Tickets for this are available here. In the build up to the big event, I was able to ask Richard a few questions...

How do you think that movements/organizations such as Independent Venue Week aid the situation when it comes to the loss of our small music venues?
A massive collective voice all shouting the same thing grabs the attention of the public and media of a whole load of great venues and acts they may support and continue to do so. It can also raise awareness of the government that needs to work to change archaic laws and regulations that impede their survival, strength in numbers is a great thing about IVW, it is also gaining the attention of large artists that are speaking out to support change to help venues survive.

Do you yourself have any fond memories of attending gigs at a venue that is now closed?
Several at the Cockpit, probably with the most memorable being a show I put on with DJ Shadow, DJ Krush and James Lavelle on the same bill, it was so far ahead of its time as people were not really aware of those people but we packed it out and the night was next level craziness with condensation raining down on the crowd, and we had live graffiti going on and the fumes were making everyone even more off their heads…. It was a mental night. Another is Kool Herc in the Harvey Milk Bar who invited loads of local MC’s up on stage with him and had a massive freestyle jam. That bar was inside the Uni and no longer exists.

What can we expect from the Leeds gig on the 27th? 
4 class acts who are amongst the most exciting emerging from our scene, 2 of which played Leeds and Reading festival 2016. 4 stunning sets and a night to remember and people can say “I was there” when one of them becomes big, as I am convinced at least one of them will…. All 4 of them easily could if the wind of fortune blows kindly upon them.

Cabezudos
Be sure to support your local venue and get out and enjoy one (or more!) of the meticulously planned shows organized in aid of Independent Venue Week, the details of which can be found here.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

AMP Live Special: Tips for 2017

Aaron of AMP Live chooses the bands he tips for big things in 2017...

The Wholls
Signed to Sony in Europe, they have played a number of festivals and tours across the UK and Europe. 2016 gave The Wholls a solid platform to build on and make 2017 their year.


Bang Bang Romeo
Taken under the wing of Zy Records, which is same as The Wholls. Also getting to play The Big Top at Isle Of Wight, definitely shows the talent this band have.


Paves
With a sound that will take you all the way from the 60's to present day. Paves as individuals are talented, put the four of them together and you get something special. They'll go all the way this year.


Glass Caves
Probably one of the best unsigned bands out there, with a sound like no other. Glass Caves tour relentlessly and the new direction of their sound definitely shows they mean business going into 2017.


The Ruby Blues
Blues driven 4 piece fronted by Carl Barat styled vocals. Whats not to like?


Tangerines
Think Talking Heads, Rolling Stones, and the strutter Wilko Johnson but add originality by the bucket load and you're about there.


EKKAH
The duo of Rebecca and Rebekah don't half know how to get you moving with their infectious disco funk. Collaborating with the likes of Dam-Funk can't be a bad thing either.


Fronteers
If it's harmonies you want then Fronteers are probably the best around. Think Turner and Kane, Doherty and Barat.


SHEAFS
Fast pace, high energy Indie 5 piece from Sheffield. Having sold out headline shows in Sheffield and supported the likes of Hidden Charms, The Lapelles, and well received sets at Tramlines and AMP Festival as well as being championed by our good friends at This Feeling, we expect a busy year for these boys.


I Kept The Wolves Away
Probably one of the best voices you will hear in lead singer Dan Williamson. This Sheffield 3 piece have a totally unique sound and having played alongside Glass Caves and The Wholls, they are in good company.


Broken Witt Rebels
If it's early Kings Of Leon with a deep South American blues edge, putting their own no nonsense British twist on it, then look no further than Broken Witt Rebels. With tours alongside the likes of King King and Joanne Shaw Taylor and winning over crowds left, right and centre, these gents are destined for bigger things.


Clay
Just announced the two biggest gigs of the bands career. The band have the stage presence, the tunes and drive. It's gonna be a big year for Clay.


The Blinders
Dark, gritty, raw and gaining a bigger following by the day. They showed what they could do last year, and if that's anything to go by then expect them to step up to a new, higher level this year. Cabbage are massive fans...


The Strawberries
After releasing 'Laburnum House' last year, this band are fast on the rise with their 60's infused psychedelic sound. Think The Animals and you won't be far off.


YONAKA
Championed by Kerrang! and currently recording in Sheffield with the one and only Ross Orton. Theresa Jarvis' vocals and stage presence is mesmerizing.


Kashmere
With the release of 'Blow Your Mind' last year and with a sound that isn't too far from the likes of The Amazons and Blossoms. Kashmere are definitely ones to watch this year.


Anteros
Probably the best upcoming female fronted band Anteros, are looking to be a big hit this year. 'Breakfast' is one hell of tune, that can get anyone in the dancing spirit.


Redfaces
After disappearing off the scene for a while, Redfaces have come back with a more mature sound. The latest single 'Kerosene' show the bands development and what is to come.


The Shimmer Band
Mesmerizing crowds up and down the country and at every major festival last year as well as releasing such songs as 'Freedom' and 'Shoot Me (Baby)' the five piece from Bristol, can only go from strength to strength.



Also expect a big year for the likes of JUDAS, Cabbage, Liberty Ship, and April.

Written by Aaron Procter

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Single Review: Sprinkle With Rust ~ RALE

RALE are a Sheffield based three piece comprised of Tom O'Hara, Dino Sofos and Sena Verdi. The release of debut single 'Sprinkle With Rust' has seen them receive acclaim from BBC Introducing and This Feeling to name but a few, and the accompanying music video was awarded the coveted top spot on the Vevo indie playlist just before Christmas. The track has also recently been given airplay on BBC Radio 2, so it's safe to say that they are attracting the attention of some of the biggest media outlets in the industry at the moment.



Hauntingly wistful basslines and effervescent hooks are present from the word go, but what really captivated me were the brisk and exceedingly soulful vocals of frontman Tom. It's a forceful and extremely memorable debut release, with lyrics (and a very infectious chorus) that become implanted in your brain and within your very soul; to make such an impact is rare with me... it sometimes takes me a fair few listens to really 'get' new music, but I loved this straight away. RALE are defined by dynamic, post punk and new wave soundscapes, with a refreshing 80's tinted edge. I was mesmerized from the very first listen, and the track has been on repeat ever since.

'Sprinkle With Rust' is out now. Check out the official music video here:

 

Friday, 20 January 2017

An Interview With GILLBANKS ~ 14.01.17

It's somewhat difficult to categorize London based Gillbanks, lead by the talented Sam Gillbanks,  into any one genre; their music is irrepressibly nonpareil, and so different from track to track... but perhaps that's what gives them that 'edge' and what makes them so undeniably special. It's grunge tinted rock of the highest calibre, with hauntingly pensive lyrics, perfectly executed by Sam's suspensefully hazy and stirring vocals. From the searing heights of 'Anxious', to the swirling, spellbinding beauty of the heartwrenching 'Lived In', one thing is for certain... from the moment you listen, you never forget.


There's something that I find inexplicably captivating about Sam as a performer; I saw Gillbanks perform for the first time last May at Gold Sounds Festival in Leeds... he was already on stage when I arrived; I was mesmerized from the word go, and walked straight through the door and straight to the foot of the stage. Suffice to say, I've been hooked ever since, and so when the announcement came that he was set to support Halfnoise at Headrow House (the day before my birthday, no less) I just had to set up an interview with Sam to find out more about his extraordinary work and musical roots.

What did you grow up listening to, and would you say any of it inspired you to want to make music yourself?
Definitely. I mainly grew up listening to music that my mum used to play me in the car... so that was like The Beatles and Nirvana really. They ended up influencing a lot of what I decided to do. It naturally progressed from that. From a very early age I was heavily interested in how the guitar sounded, so that's where that stemmed from.
  
Was that from quite an early age, then?
I didn't realize that I really wanted to be a musician until I was about the age of 12. I decided to learn the drums... well, the first thing I decided to learn was the guitar and I didn't really do too well with it because my hands were so small! So when I was 12 I decided to get drum lessons, and from that I moved on to bass... then went back to guitar again, and started singing

In terms of your creative process and bringing a song to fruition, what generally comes first... the lyrics or the music? Or is it different each time?
I tend to do music first. I do it on my own... it's a very isolated situation! For now anyway... that may change in the future. I will always have an overall idea of how the lyrics will fit into it.

Is there any one song that you've written so far that you're either especially proud of, or lyrically means the most to you?
I'd say a song called 'Lived In', which is the b-side of a single that I released last year, is probably the most meaningful song I've ever written. It means quite a lot to me.



Is there anywhere - whether that's a certain venue, or perhaps a particular city that you've just always wanted to visit- that you'd love the opportunity to play?
I've always wanted to play in Scotland and we are playing in Glasgow on this tour, which is going to be great! New York would be amazing, too.

What would you say are both the highs and lows of being on tour?
Money and lack of sleep are probably the two lows. Highs... being around people that you want to spend time with, and being able to play the music that you've created in front of people who have never heard it before, and then receive good feedback. I'd definitely say the highs outweigh the lows.


You've not only written, but produced and recorded much of your own work yourself; would you say that having such a DIY approach to making music has helped shape you into the artist you essentially want to be?
I haven't really had a choice, so yeah. I think any artist that creates music and does everything themselves will generally appreciate what they're doing more and take a different approach to what they're actually creating, rather than someone actually fuelling what they're doing with money. I feel like I have a lot of freedom, but obviously it is frustrating knowing that there are people who receive a lot of financial benefit, whether that's from family or from people that they know... but it is more rewarding when it comes from yourself.

Do you have any quirky interests or hobbies outside of music?
I don 't think I do, really! I have stories to tell but I don't think they're very parental advisal really! I wouldn't say they're hobbies though! Outside of music, obviously I have to fund myself so generally my time is taken up by work... I work in a bar, which is also a venue. That's good fun. I don't actually get much time other than that. Every now and again I'll take a complete break from everything and just relax... that's the most important thing for me to do.

When it gets to this time of year, I think festival season starts to be on every music lovers' mind... do you have any fun memories of festivals, either of playing them or just attending as a punter?
Glastonbury last year! I'd never been before and then we had the opportunity to play... that was really awesome. I saw LCD Soundsystem on the Sunday, that was a highlight. We were camping near the Park Stage.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and what would you get up to?
I think I'd go back to when I was an 8 year old and tell myself to chill out a bit! But I'd like to go back to the 60's... 60's London, that'd be great. I'd have a whale of a time! A lot of the music that I'm influenced by comes from the 60's, and we've all watched documentaries and stuff about how people lived their lives back then. There was obviously stuff going on in politics excetera, but there's always going to be things like that going on... it just seems like everyone had a bit more of a free spirit in a way that we don't so much see now. Everything now is way more money driven, and it just didn't seem to be a problem for musicians then.

Finally... do you have any big plans for 2017?
We've got a release coming out, but I'm not sure when. We're releasing a couple of tracks and I'm also in the process of recording our EP which will hopefully be out this year but if not, early next year. It depends on everything, really! It's never normally my choice about when we release things... so we'll see how that goes!


Listen to 'Anxious' by Gillbanks below:

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Single Review: Always Find Your Way Back Home ~ DAN GREAVES

Dan Greaves is a talented singer-songwriter from Featherstone, West Yorkshire- which just so happens to be right down the road from me. I was a huge fan of his previous project, Jack's Attic, and so it's wonderful to see him back with very first solo release 'Always Find Your Way Back Home'.


The track is ardent and rich in opulent acoustic melodies and lyrically, it's extraordinarily profound, thus showing Dan's experience and impressive capability as both an artist and songwriter. His authentic and honeyed vocal flair add charisma to an all-around august debut. 

You can download 'Always Find Your Way Back Home' for free via Dan's soundcloud here. Check out the music video below.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Gig Preview: AVALANCHE PARTY @ Rocking Chair, Sheffield ~ 17.02.17

Describing themselves as "Garage Rock & Roll from the wild North Yorkshire Moors", Avalanche Party have built up an ineffable reputation for their explosive live shows; they're coming to Sheffield next month, courtesy of Aggressive Management, and one thing is for certain... they are going to blow your mind.


With support coming from PLAZA, North Adolescence and The Blewes, it's going to be one hell of a show. Tickets can be purchased in advance online here, or through the bands themselves.

Listen to the bands' latest single, 'Solid Gold' below:

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Single Review: City Don't Sleep ~ PLASTIC HOUSE

Plastic House are the Manchester based indie-rock four-piece made up of Oliver Podmore, James Lennon, Robbie Murray and Jake Perry. They've been playing together for a number of years now, as well as gaining experience by way of relentless touring; the band have huge plans for 2017, and they're kicking it all off with the release of infectious new single, 'City Don't Sleep'.


It's packed full of ludic melodies and stylish hooks, with emotive lyrics that tell a story of wistful romance and longing. I was immediately captivated by the soulful and grandiose vocals, which are so irrepressibly powerful. Their music oozes ardor and an endearing youthful confidence; this is a band who, I think, are very commercially appealing and have the potential to go on and achieve big things.

'City Don't Sleep' is available now via all major platforms. Check out the official music video below:

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Single Review: Vultures ~ VUROMANTICS

Vuromantics may be a brand new band, but if debut single 'Vultures' is anything to go by, they have the potential to become something quite extraordinary. Hailing from Yorkshire, Sam and Jake Christie, Ben and Jordan Rooker and Callum Hall are due to release their EP 'Waiting On A Storm' in February, and already have a string of live dates already planned for this year. With such a quick-fire entrance into the music industry, they're already making their mark and sealing their place as one of the most exciting and industrious new acts on the block.


The track is intriguingly dark and vivifying in abundance, but what immediately stood out to me were the emotive and riveting vocals, which exude intensity. It's difficult to assign this band to any one genre; there's a real element of electronic-pop to their sound, yet at the same time, it has a somewhat melancholic rock tinted edge. 'Vultures' is an incredibly clever and compelling first release, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do next.


'Vultures' is released on February 24th, and you can preorder Vuromantics' EP here.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Single Review: Porcelain ~ KASHMERE

Kashmere are the Stockport based four-piece (made up of Joey Newey, Charlie Cole, Dave Pennington and Andy Law) who, after a successful 2016, are kickstarting the new year with the release of euphonious new single 'Porcelain'. My first encounter with the band was at last years' AMP Festival in Sheffield, and I was immediately impressed by their polished and assiduous performance.

With their endearingly youthful, atmosphere-soaked sound, they have already proved by way of debut release 'Blow Your Mind' that they have a dexterous skill for crafting the perfect indie-rock anthem... and 'Porcelain' is every inch the irrepressible follow up.


The track begins with wistfully engaging guitar swirls and atmospheric drum beats, which build up momentum and increase in intensity before we are introduced to frontman Joeys' spirited and intrepid vocals. Lyrically, it's absorbing, expressive and a real display of just how effortlessly effervescent and pertinacious this band are. 'Porcelain' is three minutes of resolute and dynamic rock n roll, sprinkled with resonate instrumentation that exudes potential and bravado. One thing's for sure... Kashmere are destined for big things in 2017.


'Porcelain' is released 13th January 2017 and will be available for purchase and streaming on all major platforms.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Meet the People Behind the Bands: MICK DOLMAN, CHANTEL LITTLEWOOD & GEORGE HOLMES ~ New Year Special Pt. IV

When it comes to live music, there really is no place like Leeds; it's a real hub for musical talent at the minute, and is home to some of Yorkshires' best venues. Brudenell Social Club holds a very special place in my heart, and has become somewhat of a second home over the years! There are other equally wonderful small venues doing just as wonderful a job of ensuring that live music continues to remain a central part of everyday life in Leeds... there's The Library, Verve Bar, Oporto and Belgrave Music Hall to name but a few. And then there is the First Direct Arena, which helps attract all manner of big names to Leeds with the likes of Elton John and Paul Weller having played already, and huge international acts such as Green Day and Kings Of Leon set to play in 2017.

At the very heart of the Leeds music scene are Mick and Chantel of Double Denim Live, and George Holmes of GeHo Events, all three of whom I look up to a great deal and have learned so much from over the years. It was a pleasure to be able to talk with Mick, and with George, about their experiences in the music industry so far... 

MICK DOLMAN & CHANTEL LITTLEWOOD
Mick and Chantel are truly at the forefront of the Leeds music scene, and are responsible for championing some of the most exciting acts from far and wide and bringing them to Leeds, often for the very first time... thus introducing them to completely new audiences, and far widening their horizons. 2016 saw the introduction of their brand new inner city music festival, and what a success it was; Kazoopa took place on Saturday 26th November, and the gargantuan line up featured acts such as Judas, Kassassin Street, Faux Pas and Young Kato.

Faux Pas

How/when did the initial idea of Double Denim Live come about?
Double Denim Live was an idea we had around early 2012, one of those ideas that float around in your mind for a while and then one day, it comes to fruition. We were invited to a friends gig at a really small venue and thats where we thought yes, this is definitely something we need to do. Music has been a massive part of our lives from being really young, so to be involved in the industry, I think was always going to happen at some point in our lives and to be involved the way we are is fantastic. Bringing bands to Leeds from all over the country to play with some of our awesome local bands is such a great feeling, especially when you get messages from the bands saying they loved the show and they are arranging a gig swap with one of the local bands that played the same show, thats what its all about.

Has music always been a part of your lives?
Music has always been in our lives ever since we were very young. I was brought up listening to the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac etc where as Chantel was listening to Elvis, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles so we have quite a varied mix of artists we love. We both grew up in the 90's as teenagers (showing our age a little now haha) and it was awesome, Oasis, Blur, Nirvana, *cough* Spice Girls *cough*, RHCP to name but a few who we had playing on our CD Walkman's....

Can you remember where and when the first show you ever put on was and how it went?
Yes, it was a cold wet miserable Thursday night at Carpe Diem (RIP, another great venue sadly closed) in June 2012. We had the incredible indie/punk band British Daylight headlining the show with support from The Artists (now The Opera Comic), Littlemores and This Legion, all who have gone on to do different things. The place was rammed, we couldnt believe it, such a great night and it was the perfect start to what has been such an incredible journey for us including hosting Catfish And The Bottlemen at Empire (Another venue sadly no longer with us) in November of 2012 just as they were signed to ATC Management which as most people know by now, they are doing alright for themselves. So 2012 was quite a big year for us as we look back at when we first started putting shows on.

Kazoopa has obviously been a roaring success this year... how on Earth are you going to top that next year, or are the details of that top secret at the moment?
Yes, it went pretty well to say it was the first one, we still get a little emotional watching the promo video we had made, it really was an awesome day. So many bands came to Leeds and put on a hell of a show for us, it was incredible. How can we top Kazoopa 2016...well we have some stuff already in place and we have a list of bands we want to bring to Leeds including the headliner so you'll all just have to wait and see... it will be worth it, we promise.

What does a typical day in the office consist of for you guys?
A day in the office for us consists of me ducking at the constant objects that get thrown at me from Chantel hahaha, but yeah seriously we literally organise everything that goes through Double Denim Live, CMD Management, Kazoopa and Inutero and time really does fly when youre having fun. We do have a lunch break of about 3 minutes which is nice.

What exciting plans are afoot for 2017? 
2017 will see Double Denim Live in new cities like Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leicester, Bradford as well as our usual haunts in Leeds and Manchester. As we mentioned earlier, we have a lot of planning to do for Kazoopa Fest 2017 which takes up alot of our time and we also look after The Barmines which again, isnt just the odd email or phone call here and there, theres a lot that goes on behind the scenes and we have some special things lined up with them in 2017 so watch this space.

 

GEORGE HOLMES
When I first started my blog, George was one of the first people in the industry to approach me and ask me to write for him at one of his events- a fantastic all day gig at the Brudenell called Welcome To The North; it was there that I saw the brilliant Rory Wynne for the first time, as well as The Strawberries... an exciting Leeds based band who George himself manages.

The Strawberries

How and when did you first start working in the music industry?
In the summer of 2010 I had a meeting with a venue (The Courthouse) in Otley and started to curate line ups at a night called Courthouse Rocks. During that time we had Club Smith, Puressence, The Chevin, Hey Sholay, Joe Carnall & The Book Club, The Lysergic Suite and Middleman to name just a few play and it was all happening on my doorstep. One band however stood out, the Janice Graham Band. So in 2012, I went on my own and booked The Cockpit 3 venue through Andy at Futuresound. The show sold out and was upgraded to The Cockpit 2. I was hooked with promoting and it all stems from there really.

Has music always been a part of your life?
I must've loved music from being born as my grandparents got me a Beatles compilation vinyl when I was very young. I was always in Woolworths during the 80's & 90's, spending my pocket money on vinyls, tapes and CD's. My first purchase was Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal on vinyl when I was 7 years old.

You run shows for This Feeling as well as your own shows; how did your working with them first come about?
Both Mikey and myself have very similar tastes in music and we were both booking the same acts. He was booking This Feeling in London and I was doing my own shows in Leeds. We had spoken a few times about getting This Feeling in Leeds, as Mikey knows the city well from his time at Uni here. As soon as a venue was sorted, I was brought in to rep the shows and the rest is history.

You've been working with The Strawberries for a while now... what was it about them that drew you to them and made you want to work with them?
I've always had an ear for a tune and the first time I heard The Strawberries was on a YouTube video. I was really impressed with them and offered them a show opening up for The Sundowners at Oporto, they were in good company that night as She Drew The Gun were also supporting. The funny thing was that they didn't look or sound out of place. Following on from that show, I gave them support slots to Blossoms, Hidden Charms, The Vryll Society and Yak. They seemed to be getting better and better and every headline act that they supported respected their sound. So we had a meeting at The Brudenell in early 2016 and both parties expressed what they wanted from this. So far so good.

What have you got planned for us in 2017?
Let's just say it will be another busy one. The Strawberries will have some new music and a tour coming your way very soon. The all day event that I book, that showcases Northern music, Welcome To The North will return in the Summer. This Feeling will also be back in February at The Lending Room in Leeds. The rest you will just have to watch this space.


I hope that I have helped to illustrate exactly how crucial people such as Mikey, Neil, Aaron, John, Scott, Jimmy, Mick, Chantel and George are to the music industry- and of the hard work that they all do to provide up and coming bands and artists with a platform, as well as music lovers with an opportunity to enjoy some quality live music. It is so important that we all make a concious effort to keep our local music scene alive... and without these truly wonderful people, who so often go without the recognition that they deserve, none of that would be even remotely possible. 

As I'm sure so many of you will agree, 2016 was an incredibly sad year for music; we've lost David Bowie, Prince and George Michael... and we also continue to lose a high volume of independant music venues all across the country, which in turn makes it difficult for new bands and artists and to follow in the footsteps of these legends. So if you take anything from all of this, scrap the new years resolutions and make it your goal in 2017 to get to as many gigs as you possibly can; go out and watch someone that you've never heard of before, because they might just end up becoming your new favourite band, and the next big thing. Happy New Year! 

Monday, 2 January 2017

Meet the People Behind the Bands: JOHN ALEXANDER, SCOTT HOWSON & JIMMY MAC ~ New Year Special Pt. III

When I first started going to gigs a number of years ago, Doncaster was one of the first places I ventured into in order to feed my growing love for all things music. There's a real blossoming music scene there at the moment, held together by some truly great venues... noteably The Leopard, Social Bar, and the Blacksmiths Arms (which is just over in Harworth). It's always very friendly, and any gigs I've been to there have always created a real sense of immense enjoyment and togetherness... which is exactly what music should be all about. I've got to know John and Scott of Ginger Beard Promotions, and Jimmy Mac of J.M Promotions incredibly well over the years; all three are endearingly passionate about what they do, and about music in general.

JOHN ALEXANDER & SCOTT HOWSON
John and Scott play host to many an exciting band against the atmospheric backdrop of the Blacksmiths Arms in Harworth, just outside of Doncaster. The pair are also known for their all day musical extravaganza, Blackfest, which takes place annually in the Summer; the festival can always be relied upon to boast an incredibly impressive and varied line up, featuring up and coming bands, plus one or two high profile favourites such as Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles. What I've always loved about GingerBeard gigs is the friendly atmosphere and the real sense of togetherness that they create... and 2017 most definitely looks set to be even bigger for them.

Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles perform at Blackfest 2016

How did you guys first get together and decide to start GingerBeard Promotions?
Scott: John and I went to school together so have known each other for ages. I always used to attend and enjoy the gigs and festivals that John put on. I think he knew how much I loved the gigs, and he was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to get involved with them. I didn't need a second invitation and Ginger Beard was formed.
John: I started independently organising gigs in 2009 after I’d completed a sound engineering course.  At the time I was working in Portsmouth and wasn’t really aware of any scene around Harworth or Bircotes, where I live.  Anyway, a friend invited me to a pub gig where some local bands were playing and I went along with the expectation that the bands would be terrible.  I couldn’t be further from the truth, there were 3 incredible bands on the bill and to my surprise I found out that more local bands were playing in another pub the week after.  It was a really exciting time with bands like Jery at Controls, Nexus Noise, Unicorn Hunters, The Wallbirds (who became the Famous Villains), Little Mono, Stafford Galli, Bungalow Club (who became The Pilots), Deemus Mint, Dekota, John Merricks Remains to name but a few.  With all this amazing local talent I was able to start putting gigs on at the Blacksmiths in Harworth and this led to our one day music festival, Blackfest, now in its 8th year.  The gigs kept building in popularity until I needed some help.  I’d noticed that Scott and Plum were at every gig I’d put on and it just seemed obvious to ask if they wanted to get involved.  By total fluke, we all have different skills that complement one another. For example, Plum can make most things work but, they won’t look pretty…he even fixed a broken drum kit with spoons at one gig.  Scott is a great manager of me and time, which I have no real concept of.  Ginger Beard started in February 2015.
 

If you had to choose an absolute favourite show that you've put on... which would it be and why?
ScottThat's a hard one as there's a few. Our 1st gig as GingerBeard with The Darlingtons and The Kavaliers was really good, the venue was full, probably beyond capacity, atmosphere was electric and both bands were incredible. Before I was involved with Blackfest it was always a day I loved so to be part of that now is extra special. Then there was our stage at Tickhill TFest this year, wow! Think that blew both of us away along with everyone else that was there.
John: Ouch… too many to mention… we’ve been blessed with some terrific gigs… I'm going to have to be diplomatic and say every Blackfest has been great and last year’s Tfest was awesome.  There’s something quite magical about those two festivals that just bring out the best in every performer… it’s something I can’t explain.

Was music a part of your lives from an early age?
Scott: I probably started getting into my music during my teens. The Smiths, Housemartins and The Stone Roses could be heard almost constantly coming from my room.
John: I've been totally infatuated with music since I heard ‘Stand and Deliver’ by Adam and the Ants when I was 9.  I can’t wait for new music, gigs, reading about bands, watching documentaries, fashions, artwork, promotion, studios, music venues, engineering, films, stories and myths… I love every facet of it.  My car is littered with CD’s and the Sky box is totalled with music documentaries.     

What's the Doncaster music scene like at the moment?
Scott: Doncaster has a lot of really exciting young bands, but it's a reasonably small town with just a handful of venues so making that name for themselves is difficult... but the music coming out of Donny is high quality.
John: It has the opportunity to be incredible.  There are some great venues and wonderful people putting shows on and ultimately, there are some truly stunning bands.  I don’t feel fully qualified to comment because we’re 10 miles outside of Doncaster but, to me, there seems to be something that is preventing Doncaster from having a ‘scene’ on the same scale as other places… I can’t quite put my finger on it because all the elements seem to be there… I’m totally open to suggestions but, once some genius figures out how to bring it all together into one community… Doncaster will rule.

Do you have any exciting plans already in motion for 2017 that you can discuss? 
Scott: Lots of plans for 2017. Carry on with the promoting gigs and a few new and exciting festivals. 2017 is looking like being a very very busy year for us.
John: (With you and Sam Christie) we’re putting together a series of one day outdoor mini-festivals that will run every month from May through to September.  The events that have already been confirmed are: 27th May – Royal Standard (Sheffield); 10th June - Pavillion (Bircotes, Doncaster); 15th July - Harvey Arms (Finningley); 19th August – Blackfest (Harworth, Doncaster); 23rd September - Tfest (Tickhill, Doncaster).  We’re also looking at putting one of these on in York. Anyway, we’ve already confirmed some amazing acts at these shows and we just can’t wait for them. We like our shows to be dynamic so, expect about 15(+) acts on in one day… rapid fire… something for everyone. That means that by the end of the year we’ll have put on nearly, if not, 100 acts… my head is spinning at the thought!  


JIMMY MAC:
Jimmy's passion for all things music, as well as his incredibly kind and caring nature, have sealed his place as one of the most recognised and well loved promoters in Yorkshire. When he isn't organising and attending his own shows, Jimmy is almost always at a gig... often attending more than one event in a single night! I think it would be difficult to find someone with the level of experience that he has, which is undoubtedly the reason for his having become such a respected figure within the music community.

The Doldrums at one of Jimmy's gigs at The Leopard, Doncaster
Has music always been a part of your life?
Yes especially in my boxing career as I used to train to music all the time!

How did you first get into gig promoting?
My brother runs Fat Sam's, an 1100 cap venue in Dundee, and I used to go to gigs with him and help out. When I left the forces I became a boxing promoter and 1 day (9yrs ago) I decided to put a band (The Thieves) on at one of my boxing shows and it was a huge hit. Gradually I put on more music shows than boxing, and now its 90% music.

What would you say has been the proudest achievement in your career so far?
Well there are many including Westlife, Tinchy, ELO, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Geldof, The Dunwells, and many more... but the proudest was putting the Commitments on in Doncaster and then touring with them.

Are there any exciting new bands that you've come across recently and tip for success in 2017?
Absolutely. Avalanche Party are the best live (unsigned) band I've seen since The Ratells. I think they will be huge in 2017!

Do you have any exciting plans afoot for 2017?
Lots of massive stuff happening in 2017 including 5 festivals, a huge gig with UB40, Level 42 and the Waillers in Dundee for which we have already sold over 3,250 tickets for in May. Too many but can't divulge too much at the moment!


The final part of my 'New Year' special is coming soon, and it's all about the Leeds music scene. Stay tuned!