Saturday, 25 February 2017

An Interview With LITTLE COMETS ~ 18.02.17

I can say without hesitation that Little Comets are among the nicest people you could ever wish to meet, and in a time where the music industry is filled with vipers and wannabes... they truly are a shining light, flying the flag for upbeat and intelligent indie pop-rock. With the release of fourth album 'WORHEAD' just around the corner, they are by now old hands in the industry... and they have a legion of fans to prove it. One thing I've learned in the time I've been following their music is that you can't not go to a Little Comets gig and come away feeling anything less than truly content; their music has an ability to make you forget your troubles, even if just for one night, and allow yourself to be transported; one minute, you'll be singing along to 'Dancing Song', 'One Night In October' or the fun and infectious 'Jennifer'... and the next, you could be mesmerized by the beauty of 'The Blur, the Line & the Thickest of Onions'. The Newcastle based trio (Robert Coles, Michael Coles and Matthew Hall) have become known and loved for their honest songwriting, dynamic live performances and above all... their endearingly spirited authenticity.

Prior to their headline show at Sheffields' legendary venue The Leadmill, I was able to talk to Rob and Matt and find out a little more about the band. Mickey was noticeably absent from proceedings but as Rob announced to the crowd at the start of the gig, he had a pretty good excuse... his wife having been delivered of a baby girl that very morning.

You've obviously been playing together for a number of years now, and obviously I know Rob and Mickey are brothers... but how did Little Comets come about, and when did Matt come into the equasion?
Rob: Me and Mickey started playing guitar when he was about 11 or 12. We just started playing in the house together. My dad always used to write songs just for himself, he wouldn't play them... he just used to like writing songs. So when we sat down and learned how to play, we did used to play other peoples' songs but we'd do our own as well. So that's what we've always done, and then we met Matt in 2007. He just used to pop his head in all the time at the place that we rehearsed and was just a really nice person... a really friendly, nice chap.
Matt: And I'm sure that at that time they didn't have a bass player! I kept coming in and going 'You got a bass player yet?'
Rob: When we decided to get a bass player, we thought we'd ask Matt to do it.
Matt: Then for that week Mickey was like 'Oh, you can just mime,' because there was a gig coming up, so he told me I could just learn one song or something and then mime the rest.... but I wasn't having that! I don't really want to mime!

What are your earliest memories of music?
Rob: Just whatever my mam and dad would put on, really. Apparently I used to really like a song by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions... 'Brand New Friend' or something. That, and 'Dancing In The Street'! When I was 4 or 5, that was my song! The Bowie and Jagger one.
Matt: My earliest memory I think was watching Chesney Hawkes on the TV and singing along... and Michael Jackson, then The Beatles.

Can you remember what your first ever show as Little Comets was like and how it went?
Rob: Matt nailed it! It was a London gig... so a band from the North East playing in London, it's always a 'Wow,' kinda thing. It was pretty relaxed... it was a good gig!
Matt: That night... can you remember taping up my guitar straps? We spray painted guitar straps in the back street, and that red tape that I put round the strap for the bass is still on! Its minging... it's horrible now, but it's still on there! That week, I remember Mickey telling me 'There's a light that shines right on to your face where you'll be standing,' so I remember he made me rehearse with this light in my face for that entire week which was quite ridiculous! I'm glad he did though, because there was a light shining in my face...
Rob: That's typical Mickey!

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do- is it the writing and recording process of watching a great some come together, or being able to play it to live audiences at shows?
Rob: For me, they are entirely different things and that's the weird thing about being in a band. You're forced to, not master, but to produce two different things that are entirely different. Recording something where it's there for enternity, you have to get everything correct, where as live you've got to make a song connect with somebody in the moment and translate the emotion of what you're trying to say in the song to an audience. They are totally different things, but I love the challenge of that. We always do things in a specific way in that we'll never play a song live first, we like to record it first. We love the recording because it's really good fun to kind of make an idea into a thing... I just love doing that. Even with the artwork, it's the same process... you take your thoughts and solidify them, so that is amazing, but it's totally different from playing it live which is also amazing because of the buzz that you get. Every gig is different as well, so you might think 'This gig will be great,' and it might be okay... but then the next gig you might think that for whatever reason it'll be really great, and just a glance at someone from across the stage or seeing somebody singing it back to you can just make that gig the most magical thing ever. I've had moments on stage which have been euphoric, almost... almost like an out of body experience when I've just been so into the music. That's amazing as well, and the difference between it all is what I love most about being in a band. I don't think there is any other art form where you have to do two things which are just so, so different. 

Does anyone in the band have any interesting hobbies or strange talents?
Rob: (looking at Matt) You've got a fair few strange talents! Climbing... I'll often ask him if he can climb round the venue and get from the stage, right round the venue without touching the floor, and then get back to the stage...
Matt: I haven't done that for a while! That one in Manchester... there were shutters on the bar. It's a hard one that, but I did it.
Rob: Sailing as well! Matt's a really good sailor.
Matt: That's not a weird one! It's good though, I like getting wet. Rob has a ridiculously good memory... is it a good memory or just a weirdness for learning? Oh, and lists...
Rob: Yeah, I love a good list. My mam is always like 'Are you writing lists again?'
Matt: Your dad loves a list too.
Rob: He does, yeah. I've inherited that. I don't know if I'd go as far as to describe it as a talent, though!

What are you all listening to at the moment?
Rob: Nathan had the new Beyonce album on in the car the other day and it's pretty good. It's really interesting. Totally different soundscapes.
Matt: There are some really good singer-songwriters coming out of Newcastle at the moment. It's almost like folk... in the way that Bob Dylan was a folk singer-songwriter, but he wasn't folk in the violins sort of way. Eve Simpson is tremendous. She's absolutely class, she's got a really good voice and is really honest. I think that's what songwriting misses a lot. Not that I can particularly write a song, but I find when I listen to a lot of music now I find that they never really particularly say anything.
Rob: I think there probably are a lot of people out there writing really engaging lyrics but for whatever reason people don't want to play it on the radio or write about it and would much rather have something that's really safe... not necessarily to avoid offending anybody, but just doesn't make them think too much.

Your fourth album 'Worhead' is due for release next month... what can you tell us about that at the moment?
Rob: All of our albums tend to be a good snapshot of where we are in our lives at that time. I've got a little boy who's 4 and a half now, so he's starting to see the less savoury aspects of the world. A few months ago I was reading him his bedtime story and he said 'Daddy, will I die?' and we had that conversation, so he's really starting to engage with the world in a very different way to that innocence when he was 3. I'm kind of starting to prepare for these types of conversation. The world at the minute is not a great place and there are a lot of things that are imbalanced in the wrong way I think, and it's trying to make him a respectful person and making him a person who can engage positively with the world. That is such a challenge. That's the thing with parenting, you just make it up as you go along! So the lyrics are kind of like thoughts I'm trying to get down to give me a bit of preperation for having these conversations. Musically, this album is a bit of a change. The last two albums, we've recorded in a way where ever layer is built upon the last so it's not really that live but it's really methodical. We recorded a lot of things together... so the drums and the bass, or the drums and the rhythm guitar and things like that. So a lot of the tracks have an energy which I think is very similar to the first album, which we also recorded in that way. That live element does give a bit more of a pulse to it than the last two albums, I'd say. So that's it in a nutshell... well, it wasn't a nutshell really was it? It was quite long-winded!

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
Matt: Would you go forward or would you go back? I think that's the first one.
Rob: I think I'd go forward, maybe by a hundred years just so I could see what's going on.
Matt: I'd go forward four years, just to get rid of the next four years!
Rob: I just hope everything's still here!
Matt: I think I'd probably go back to be quite honest. I have two ideas... one would be the start of the 60's, but I'd be a 20 year old. Then I'd go even further back to the 1400's or something just to experience a real lack of technology and be really pure in existence.

Is there anything that you've done to date, perhaps a certain song you've written or a particular show you've played, that you're either especially proud of or feel has been the turning point in getting you to where you are today?
Rob: There are so many. Whenever we have a conversation, someone will mention a different gig or a different thing. I think it was really important early on that we got out of Newcastle and played outside, but not in a way that a lot of bands do it. They'll go and play venues in different places, sometimes to no people... we'd try to make sure that there'd be people wherever we were playing, so we'd go and play house parties or public transport. That was important, especially with the house parties. You'd be playing and someone would be right in front of your face so you had to make it work. You had to work out how that song could get people to engage with your music or sing and dance along. We don't really do the retrospective much. There was a moment Mickey and I had a couple of years ago at a festival in New York and Damon Albarn was headlining. I just remember thinking if you'd told us when we were 11 or 12 playing the guitar in the house and learning Blur songs that one day we'd get to do a festival in New York and be on the same stage as Damon Albarn, we'd have just been like 'Nah.' So I will always remember that moment because I remember thinking 'If it stops today, that's alright... that's cool.'
Matt: We borrowed his keyboard stand as well.
(At this point Robs' phone rings...)
Rob: Oh, it's Damon Albarn!

What are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future of Little Comets?
Rob: I think as long as we get to do it and enjoy it. I love writing songs and I hope I always will. I hope nothing ever happens that makes me fall out of love with songwriting. It's just nice to be able to play songs to people.
Matt: It's funny because we are so in it that it's hard to see what is going on around you. Before this tour for example, we asked ourselves if it was all going to go alright but as soon as we got out there we thought 'Oh, people do like us,' and it's kind of weird.

Do you still get nervous?
Rob: I did on the first night of the tour. It's the new songs... we record them in the house or the garage and you just don't think anyone would like them when you're recording them, but then when you finish them and you're happy with them we do want to play them... we just hope that they don't bomb when we play them live. So that's really nervewracking.
Matt: Before the gig in Oxford Rob said 'Lets go and have some fun,' and then about 3 songs in I was having loads of fun. We haven't toured in quite a while so I'd forgotten what it was like to play in front of people who have come to our gig. It's been nice to be back home almost, and see all of our fans.

New album 'WORHEAD' is released on March 10th and can be pre-ordered here. In the meantime, listen to 'Common Things' below:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Single Review: A Time Of Hope ~ THE OPERA COMIC

The Opera Comic are back and ready to conquer 2017 with brand new single 'A Time Of Hope', and I can safely say that it's every inch as ornate and exciting as I'm sure we've all come to expect from them. There was an incredibly intricate and fascinating start to the story, with the Leeds based quintet (made up of Luke and Mitch Thompson, Jack Mattison, Nathan Francey and Mitchell Wright) revealed nothing to the world but an illusive spiral image, a teaser video and website link. They ditched the anonymity in October, and crashed onto the scene officially with the release of debut single 'We Are The Freaks'. Since then they've toured relentlessly up and down the country and have already secured themselves a substancial fanbase, despite being such a new band.

There's a real element of showmanship within this band, and everything they've done to date as been meticulously articulated. 'A Time Of Hope' is defined by shimmering upbeat melodics, and lyrics that are filled with immense optimism, charm and an authentic joyful vivacity. Electrifying synths and hooks exude a coeval beauty, and the captivating vocals of frontman Luke are delightfully resplendent throughout. With a chorus that is so satisfyingly positive and infectious to boot, it's impossible not to find yourself carried away by this track and everything it represents.

'A Time Of Hope' will be available from Friday 24th February. Listen below:

Be sure to catch The Opera Comic live at one of the following dates...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Live Review & Interview: AVALANCHE PARTY @ The Rocking Chair, Sheffield ~ 17.02.17

Let me begin by stating the obvious; Avalanche Party are a very exciting band. The five-piece (made up of brothers Jordan and Joe Bell, Jared Thorpe, Kane Waterfield and Glen Adkins) describe themselves as "garage rock from the wild North Yorkshire Moors," and throughout the course of 2016 have become renowned for their irascible and intensifying live performances. Since they exploded on to the scene with debut single 'Money', they have received radio airplay from the likes of Huw Stevens and the legendary Steve Lamacq, and their self-titled debut EP was released to wide acclaim in July. Summer saw them secure a euphonious slot on the BBC Introducing stage of Reading and Leeds festivals', as well as a trip to Europe which saw them playing to crowds of over 6000. Follow up single 'Solid Gold' premiered in 2016, and proved to be yet another stunning display of this bands' ferocious flair for producing trenchant and searingly explosive rock music.

Nothing beats that indescribable flush of euphoric excitement when you see a band live for the very first time and walk away feeling as if you've witnessed a spectacle of the highest calibre. Admittedly, friends have been urging me to seek out Avalanche Party for the best part of a year now but their headline show at The Rocking Chair in Sheffield in association with Aggressive Management was to be my first time seeing them perform... and what an introduction it proved to be. From the very first note, they barely came up for air and had their sold out audience in the very palm of their hands. Frontman Jordan hung menacingly over the edge of the stage, often vacating it entirely to weave through the crowd. From start to finish, the performance was a vehement whirlwind of fervid guitars and audacious vocals. It all seemed to happen so quickly and was inexplicably otherworldly, to the point where I felt almost entranced. Having now seen them live, I completely understand why this band inspire such fanatical respect, love and loyalty from their ever growing fanbase; this is what live music should be... powerful, emphatic and exhilerating.

I was able to speak with Jordan, Joe and Kane prior to their performance, thus finding out a little more about their background and experiences in the industry... 

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Joe: It's been about a year with the current line up.
Jordan: It was in April. To cut a long story short, me and Joe are brothers and we were in a band with Kane before. The other two were in bands previously as well.
Kane: It was all us three, really... the other two are useless!

What did you grow up listening to, and was any of that what inspired you to want to pursue music?
Jordan: Kane listened to a load of shit.
Kane: I'm a massive fan of Wham! Nah, not really... I listened to like Oasis and stuff like that. I liked going to festivals, so I listened to all of that indie stuff!
Jordan: I was a big fan of Eminem! But we did listen to cool stuff as well... Nick Cave and Iggy Pop
Kane: He called one of his cats Stan!

You're on quite an extensive tour at the moment... is there anywhere in particular that you always look forward to playing when you're on the road?
Kane: Brudenell in Leeds was good.
Jordan: We've been to lots of new places on this tour, which has been good. Scotland was great. We've never been up there before. Glasgow was fucking brilliant.
Joe: London as well. That was great. Probably more chaotic than Glasgow, actually! Hull is always a good one for us. All of it has been great so far!

How do you like to fill your time between shows? Do you get to be tourists?
Joe: In between shows is generally work. If we have a couple of days off, we go back to work to earn some proper money before we go back on the road and earn no money!
Jordan: We don't get to see anything, really.
Kane: We went out to Europe and we still didn't get to see anything. It was all just driving!
Joe: We played a gig in Edinburgh which is a lovely city, and we saw none of it.
Kane: We saw Wetherspoons and that was good! I had a cracking burger in there!
Jordan: We had planned to make a day of it, but it didn't quite happen.
Kane: The night before was quite chaotic...
Joe: We were suffering the next day, which is why we went to Wetherspoons.
Kane: Beer and burgers!

You played the BBC Introcucing stage at last years' Reading and Leeds festivals'. What was that experience like?
Jordan: It was good fun.
Joe: Leeds was the first festival we all went to as kids, so that was kind of like a homecoming gig in a way. That was always going to be fun. I've never been to Reading before though, that was great.
Jordan: We hadn't really thought about it that much but then when we turned up we had to get our passes from right behind the main stage, and Skepta was playing... he was playing Shutdown!
Kane: Yannis from Foals was walking around, the little midget... he's about 3ft tall! He wears platforms!
Jordan: He's got a cracking beard.
Kane: But no legs! We met Dynamo as well which was pretty cool. He did a magic trick on me.
Joe: In the guest parking bit, Dynamo was parked next to us and Kane basically bullied him into doing some magic.
Kane: He's a midget as well, so that's why I could bully him.
Joe: His magic trick, which he was really reluctant to do, ended up lasting about half an hour. It was good though.
Kane: You know when you're watching him and he does a trick that makes everyone go 'OH!' It was like that. He drew an X on the back of my hand, and then he blew it, rubbed it and it disappeared... then when I turned my hand around it was there. It was mental.
Jordan: It was pretty impressive.
Kane: And then he drove off...
Jordan: Yeah, he drove about 5 yards to a different parking space away from us...

You also played a festival show over in Germany, didn't you? How do they differ from UK festivals?
Jordan: We got to do a much bigger stage.
Joe: It was actually probably the biggest gig we've ever played.
Kane: Big crowd as well, probably about 7000.
Joe: We did a mini tour, and the first night was in Brussells to about 60 people in this cafe with another 30 or so outside. It was mental. Then the next day we went to play this festival and there was about 6000. It was a big rock festival.
Jordan: The band on before us had cheerleaders!
Joe: It was the German equivalent of Steel Panther, and then afterwards it was like the German Bring Me The Horizon... and then it was us! It was great though. We go back out to Europe again in May. Girls started crying over Jordan... crying!
Jordan: It was a nice experience.

Music aside, does anyone in the band have any quirky hobbies or strange talents?
Kane: Jared has really long hair. Glen is really good at fixing everything. Anything that's broke, he can fix it. His organ has broke a good seven times when we've been on this tour and he just fixes it.
Jordan: He's a very handy man.
Kane: Jordan is good at chucking stuff in peoples' mouths.

Is there anything that you've done so far, whether that's a certain song that you've written, a particular show that you've played... or perhaps something else entirely, that you're either especially proud of or feel has been integral in getting you to where you are today?
Kane: For me, it was 'Porcelain'. Whenever we do a gig now, everyone is stood dancing or screaming along to the words. When we were in Scotland, we were playing and looking out at all these people who were going mental and singing it word for word. They're all nuts! At the first show in Glasgow, they ripped the stage down.
Jordan: It was quite a late gig, we were on at about half 1. It was like a cellar venue with low ceilings, and as soon as we started playing they were ripping the barriers out and throwing the foam everywhere.

What are you all listening to at the moment?
Kane: You. I'm listening to a band called Plaza...
(One half of supporting band Plaza were present for the interview)
Joe: Plaza, Fat White Family, Plaza...
Kane: Spring King, they're pretty good. Stuff like that.
Joe: The Blinders from Donny. I'm listening to quite a lot but mainly bands like them. I've mainly been listening to a lot of the bands that we've been playing with on tour who we're friends with.
Kane: Just to see whether they're good or not... That Plaza are shit!

Finally, what's next for Avalanche Party?
Joe: Once we've finished this tour we'll be writing and recording. We go to Europe in May.
Jordan: We've got 2 new singles coming out as well.
Kane: I'm having a baby, so that's what's next for me!
Joe: Yeah, Kane is having a kid, so that's a big thing! But yeah... two new singles, a European tour and then back for a few festivals and plan for another UK stint I think.

With Glen and Jared of Avalanche Party absent... William and Matt of Plaza stepped in!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Single Review: Nothing's Gonna Get Me Down ~ THE GARAGE FLOWERS

With a sound reminiscent of 70's era punk-rock, The Garage Flowers are the deliciously upbeat four-piece from London (made up of Joe Capaldi, Jonny Webber, Greg Edwards and Olly Shaw) who deserve to be your new favourite band. With their apt ability for intelligent and exceedingly witty songwriting plus an achingly cool image to match their music, brand new single 'Nothing's Gonna Get Me Down' is two minutes of gloriously raucous noise, with a quintissentially British rock and roll edge.

Lyrically, it's filled with an uplifting optimism, and is perfectly executed by frontman Joes' zealous vocals. The humerous, unposed video snippets of the band featured throughout the official music video lead me to believe that they don't take themselves too seriously, and there is definitely an infectious element of fun and authenticity within the track itself which piqued my interest and really drew me to them from the offset. Instrumentally, with it's infectious hooks and memorable beats, it exudes a vibrant, melodic charm and is the perfect example of everything that this band represents- which is individuality, and an artistic zest for music. These guys are definitely one to watch out for.

Check out the official music video for 'Nothing's Gonna Get Me Down' below

Sunday, 19 February 2017

An Interview With ATLANTA HOUSE ~ 11.02.17

Atlanta House are the Leeds based indie-rock quintet made up of Matt Hirst, Connor Carbutt, Jake Ingleson, Nigel Ngwenya and Luke Williams. The band have been together for three years, building up a reputation by way of playing shows mostly in and around their home city- plus festival appearances, as well as support slots with the likes of Marsicans, King No-One and The Barmines. 2016 saw them release their excellent debut single 'Girls Like You' to huge acclaim, and with studio time planned in the very near future, we can hopefully expect more of the same this year.

For such a young band, they have an exceedingly polished sound, as well as a talented songwriter in frontman Matt. They're charming, fun to be around... and it was great to finally get an interview in with them prior to their recent Leeds show for This Feeling after having been planning it for the best part of a year!

Tell me a little bit about the story of Atlanta House... how did it all begin and how long have you been playing together?
Jake: Going on three years.
Luke: I was in a band before Atlanta House and we split up. We'd had some difficulties with some of the members, and we ended up gravitating towards other things. Us lot did this Christmas show at school, and I saw that they could play... I asked Matt first one day on the way to school if he wanted to be in a band and it started from there.
Matt: It was just us four at first, and then we got Connor in on drums.

What are your earliest memories of music?
Matt: My mum decorating the house and putting tunes on! A lot of motown stuff.
Jake: Music has just always been around for me. My sister plays drums so that got me into music. I just followed on from that, really.
Luke: I remember I used to go round to my cousin Richards' a lot and he showed me my first riff on classical guitar. He was listening to a lot of Breaking Benjamin and stuff like that. That's what started me off and it just went from there.
Nigel: My first memory of playing music was playing in my churches' band. That was always a big jam, really!

You supported Circa Waves in Leeds last year. What was that experience like and did you learn anything from them?
Connor: We learned not to get Matt too drunk!
Matt: I do get quite annoying! I just get loud... way too loud...
Jake: They were the best people we've met, they were just so nice and they weren't intimidating or anything... it felt like we'd known them for years! They're really nice guys.

This being your very first show with This Feeling, how have you been preparing?
Nigel: Practise, practise, practise. We've been trying to get everything solid and nailed down.
Jake: Listening to the set through the day so that it's just drilled into us... hopefully!

Do you plan practise sessions regularly, then?
Luke: We get together every Monday and Tuesday.
Jake: Yeah, twice a week... sometimes more if we can.
Matt: No one turns up on time though! 

You've obviously played a lot of shows in and around Leeds, but is there anywhere you'd love the opportunity to play? That could be a particular venue, or perhaps just somewhere you've always wanted to visit as a tourist.
Connor: Leadmill... main room!
Nigel: If I could pick to play anywhere, it'd be Wembley Arena! We're planning world domination.
Jake: Nah, we already play there twice a week!
Luke: First Direct Arena would be great.

You guys seem extremely close, and obviously spend a lot of time together... what have you learned about one another since you started the band?
Matt: That Nigel sleeps with his eyes open...
Nigel: That's a true fact!
Jake: Matt is an alcoholic and Luke loves metal.
Nigel: I've learned that Jake cannot not go to the toilet every 5 minutes!
Jake: I do go about three times before a gig...
Connor: When we played Wardrobe after me and Nige had already walked on, he decided to go to the toilet then!
Jake: I just like to be fashionably late on stage!

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
Nigel: I'd go right to the very beginning of the universe, just so I could know what was there before.
Jake: I'd go to the day Nigel was born.
Connor: And stop it from happening?
Jake: Yeah.
Luke: Do you remember that thing that Rage Against The Machine did in America? They started a massive riot and started playing in the middle of Wall Street. I want to go there!
Matt: Queen at Wembley Arena. That's where I'd go.

Tell me something about Atlanta House that no one else knows...
Nigel: There are a lot of secrets! We do have one enemy. It's another band, but we can't disclose who because we don't want to start anything. They fucked us over, though. They're not decent people.

When you're putting a new song together, do you start with the lyrics or do you play a melody and then try and find words that fit?
Matt: It's different every time.
Connor: It did used to be just Matt, but it's changed.
Matt: Yeah, it's become more of a full band thing now... so sometimes we'll get some music down and then I'll add lyrics or sometimes I just do it seperately.

If you could live inside any television series or movie, which would you choose and why?
Jake: Drake and Josh! That house is huge. Or Breaking Bad. Or a mix up of the two!
Matt: I know mine! It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life!
Nigel: Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Luke: I'd rather not live in just one and be able to hop between different ones.
Matt: Are you gonna visit Hogwarts, Luke?
Nigel: Ah, I forgot about Harry Potter!
Connor: Probably the film Airplane. It's just so funny.

Music aside, does anyone in the band have any quirky interests or strange talents?
Jake: We play a game called Runescape.
Matt: I'm not special, so no.
Jake: When I was young I ate a slug.
Matt: Is that a talent or an interest?
Jake: Neither, it's a habit.
Nigel: No, Jakes' interest is butter.
Jake: Two tubs a day.

What are your hopes, dreams and plans for the future of Atlanta House?
Nigel: There's only one thing I'd say and that's just never to be bored.
Jake: To be able to drop everything and just do the band!
Matt: That would be the ideal life!

Listen to 'Girls Like You' here:

Friday, 17 February 2017

Live Review: THE BLINDERS/ THE STRAWBERRIES/ MINT/ ATLANTA HOUSE For This Feeling @ Lending Room, Leeds ~ 11.02.17

I always feel so at home at This Feeling shows; there's a real element of togetherness and warmth, both within and between the bands themselves and from the audiences who flock out to see them perform at shows and festivals all across the country. Mikey Jonns and his team have a real flair when it comes to spotting and supporting up and coming talent, often putting together bands that are worlds apart from one another in terms of their sound but work inexplicably well together on the same bill. One thing's for sure, it's always a great night- and I for one always walk away feeling as I've been a part of something incredibly special.

It feels as if I've been looking forward to this particular gig for a very long time; Atlanta House and Mint are two bands of whom I've been extremely fond of for a long while, and having seen The Strawberries live a number of times now, I've always been blown away by their extravagant live show. As for headliners The Blinders, their name seems to be popping up absolutely everywhere at the moment, so I was definitely looking forward to their performance.

Atlanta House were seemingly undeterred by the fact that not only were they were the first band of the night, but this was to be their This Feeling debut; the Leeds based quintet pulled off an effortlessly vivifying and spirited performance, packed full of melodic indie-pop tracks that pack some serious punch. Last years' single release 'Girls Like You', with its ludic mellifluence and infectious hooks, is a highlight and definitely goes down well with the audience. There's something about this band that leaves me feeling somewhat proud; I've known them for a year or so now and every time I see them, they've significantly upped their game. Their youthful confidence, charismatic showmanship and obvious enthusiasm for music shines through, and I think that this is but the tip of the iceberg; there's a shimmering on-stage chemistry between them, and coupled with their songwriting flair, they have so much potential to go on and achieve great things.

Atlanta House

Seeing Mint is always a real pleasure and something I always look forward to; they truly are one of the best indie-pop acts of our generation and have the potential to become the next big thing. This was my first time seeing the band perform with new guitarist Sam Pawson, and he's definitely a great addition to the line up and a fantastic musician. Though there's certainly a huge element of fun to everything that they do, you can tell that they are incredibly serious about their art and to that end they have a dexterous skill for stylish and intelligent songcraft, as well as high-powered live performances.


I really love The Strawberries. There are so many bands out there trying to achieve the classic yet contemporary sound and image that these guys pull off so effortlessly. They exude a resonating sense of on-stage bravado and can always be relied upon to execute a polished and resplendent performance, complete with sumptuous vocals and electrifying rhythyms. What always stands out to me whenever I see them is the obvious bond between frontman Sam Neil and guitarist Joe Dines, who have such a sizzling chemistry throughout the set and often perform with their heads on one anothers' shoulders or into the same microphone. Their hypnotically swirling, atmosphere-soaked sound makes for mesmerizing watching, and there's a real variety within their music; new single 'Fantasy Machine' is a high-energy musical extravaganza and then on the other end of the scale is the scintillatingly smooth 'Laburnum House', which the band close their set with.

The Strawberries

I saw The Blinders for the first time last year, and I'll be honest... I was uncertain as to how I felt about them; perhaps that was because I only managed to see half of their set, and so found myself at the very back of the crowd and, being somewhat small in stature, I was unable to see a great deal. I think that to properly illustrate how this particular performance made me feel it's important to stress exactly how I felt about them prior to this gig. Though I didn't dislike their sound back then, I was undecided as to whether I really got it or not. I can safely say that they've well and truly won me over now... and in a big way; from the second they took to the stage, frontman Tom with his face painted an eery black, I felt as if I was witnessing something incredibly special.

The Blinders

This is a band on the brink of something extraordinary, and this performance was the most wonderful culmination to an already impressive night of live music. With lyrics that exude a canorous and politically opinionated fire, it's impossible not to feel in awe of them, and intoxicated by their phenomenally powerful presence. It's refreshing, if not rare, in this day and age to find a band with so much to say and who approach such controversial topics within their lyrics in such a bold and fearless way. Complete with mettlesome drum beats, lustrous hooks and snarling vocals this was an instrumentally spellbinding thrill from start to finish.

The Blinders

Thursday, 16 February 2017

An Interview With FRANKO FRAIZE ~ 07.02.17

It's refreshing to find a lyricist so honest and down to earth as Frankie Dean, otherwise known by his stage name, Franko Fraize; hailing from Thetford in Norfolk, he's effortlessly redefining and putting his own stamp on rap culture. He has become known and loved for his energetic live performances and comical crowd interactions between songs, and throughout the course of 2016 was a regular feature on the live music and festival circuit- with appearances at the likes of Reading and Leeds festivals' under his belt- plus a live session at Maida Vale for BBC Introducing. Frankie is undoubtedly a hardworker and incredibly passionate about what he does, and that has not gone unnoticed; he has received praise from the likes of Mike Skinner (The Streets) and Wiley, as well as support slots with The Enemy and Reverend and the Makers.

Musical talents aside, Frankie is a total gentleman and you literally could not wish to meet anyone more humble, or friendly, than he is. I had the opportunity to speak in depth with him about his experiences prior to his recent headline show at Oporto in Leeds...

How and when did you first get into music and songwriting?
I feel like with music and songwriting, it was never me deciding to do it... it just happened. I was listening to a lot of rap music, but I didn't feel like there was a voice for UK rap. This was when I was really young... I didn't play instruments or anything, I was just writing these lyrics when I saw the avenue emerge and UK hip hop start to get a little bit of a scene. People were talking and rapping in a British accent, making tunes in their bedrooms and making videos and it started to get a little bit of heat... when I saw them lot doing it, I felt like there was an avenue for it all of a sudden. I was about 13 I started writing lyrics, but it wasn't until I was about 19 when I started to see that there was legs for it. I've had some blinding shows, and the thing is it's been a very natural process... and that's why it's beautiful. I've never tried to do any of it, and I don't mean that in an arrogant sense... I've treated every little thing as an enjoyment of my life.

What did you grow up listening to and would you say your musical tastes and influences have changed much since then?
I feel like I've been brought up on British culture, my old man played me The Specials, Billy Bragg, The Clash, The Jam... I always felt like he taught me things about the time, like Billy Bragg was quite political, The Clash were talking about life and The Specials were very socially concious. For me, getting that influence taught me about what was good about British music. When I got older I got that everything I was listening to that I liked and saw something in was because it was telling a tale about the life and times back then. I got into rap music but at first that was very American for me until I found UK people talking about England, especially grime. I feel like grime is getting a lot of heat right now, and it's been a long time coming. I feel like grime music was the punk of our generation, talking about life right outside our front door and I think that resonated with the kids. When people see me live I feel like the good thing about what I do and what makes it different is that I bring the band in, and I think the reason for that is due to what I grew up listening to. At the time I started making music, if you rapped over just a DJ you were put in a box straight away and I didn't want that. I started playing with the band so that people like my dad and his generation could think that it was something suitable for them as well. I've broken down so many boundaries with it, which has been great. One of the biggest influences for me has been Jamie T... he walks out on stage and he's very British. You see this very British guy who could easily live down the road from you, and you don't feel like when he sings the song and goes home he'd be any different. A lot of these rappers, you feel like they're putting a rap hat on and then taking it off when they go home and I didn't want to ever come across like that.

When it comes to packing to head out on tour, what are the essentials that you can't go without?
I wish I knew... honestly, that's my trouble! I get on the bus and I'm like 'What have I forgot?' I think a nice, clean pair of boxers- especially my lucky pair! Some nice warm clothes because you always forget how cold it is, and just your essentials really... make sure you've got a toothbrush and some deodorant, because everyone likes a bit of cleanliness!

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
80's synth pop! I love 80's synth pop. It's influenced me in a big way, because I feel like when I was trying to bridge the gap between electronic and band music, there was a band called New Order. Listening to them and seeing the way that they turn guitar music into the rave crowd lead on to me getting into some really mad stuff... so George Michael, The Wham and all of that. Variety is the spice of life as they say!

You supported The Enemy on some of the dates on their farewell tour last year; what was that experience like?
It was massive. The Enemy for me, especially 'We'll Live And Die In These Towns', spoke for a generation. Every song on there really captures something in your life, so from going to being a boyhood fan to getting a support slot with them was crazy. The first show I did with them was in Portsmouth, and Tom came up to me and we had a chat... they were my idols, so it was a big deal. One of the things I realized straight away was how good they are... for a three piece to bring that much noise is unbelievable. I could not believe it. It was a real eye opener, and gave me a bit of confidence that I've come from a town in Norfolk to supporting The Enemy and feeling as if they're my friends. I was very grateful for it. Tom is a very genuine guy and he really does call it how he sees it, which again was a very influential thing for me. He's very much a 'heart on his sleeve' type of character, which is a beautiful thing. He'll tell you this, that and the other... he'll support new music, but at the same time if he doesn't agree with something he isn't scared to say it.

Is there anything that you've done so far, whether that's a particular song, a certain show that you've played- or perhaps something else entirely that you are either especially proud of or feel has been instrumental in getting you to where you are today?

There have been so many... I could sit here and go on for hours about it! In a soppy way, I treat so much of this as a blessing, and I still look upon everything as a music fan. From getting to support The Enemy and Reverend and the Makers, to Wiley tweeting me the other day. I grew up listening to grime music, so to have Wiley who is one of my biggest influences tweet me and tell me he likes what I'm doing was a huge deal. If you come into the industry from every walk of life and see everything as a blessing, then you'll get so much from it.

If someone were to make "Franko Fraize: The Movie" who do you think would play you?
I'd say Tom Hardy because the girls love him! Really it's more likely to be that guy, what's his name? From The Football Factory... Zebedee. Google it and you might have a little chuckle!

Have you ever had any weird or embarrassing situations arise at gigs?
Touch wood, not really. But that might be because I don't take it seriously enough to be embarrassed! If I spilled some beer on stage or tripped over, I feel like the crowd would be right there with me. I really hate talking about myself because I feel arrogant but I do feel like when I'm performing, especially for the first couple of tunes, it's important to let the crowd know that we're in this together and all singing from the same hymn sheet.

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
I'd probably go to some notorious event to see how it felt. With all of the mad stuff that's going on at the moment, so stuff like Brexit and Trump... when you're in these moments in history, they don't necessarily feel like moments in history but when we pass this information down to our kids and grandchildren, they'll see it so much differently. I'd like to go back to the Winston Churchill 'fight them on the beaches' speech and see what the energy in the air was. Saying that, I love everything about my life right now so I'm not one to think too much about going too far forward or too far back. I take every day as it comes, treat each one as a blessing and I love every second of it.

Finally... what does the future hold for Franko Fraize?
I feel like this year is going to be a very good year for me in terms of presenting what I do as Franko Fraize, if that makes sense. In years gone by I've had to learn so much in a trial and error sort of way and see what works. I've had an album that I've been sitting on for the best part of two years, so I'm excited to get that out. I don't feel like I've ever really made any mistakes, so it's not about doing it right this year or anything... I just feel like it's about taking what I've learned and really putting it in place.

Check out this live video of 'Running' below:

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Single Review: Tied Up ~ THE BAD HABITS

The Bad Habits are a Liverpool based quartet made up of Paddy Clegg, Adam Holmes, Paul Crilly and Chris Jones. Having formed in early 2015, they've received airplay and acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Radio before they even had any official releases under their belt. Having spent the last couple of years perfecting their sound, they've also built up momentum by way of performing live and have supported the likes of Clean Cut Kid and King No-One. With a gargantuan UK tour planned for March and April, what better time to unleash rip-roaring debut single 'Tied Up' on the world?

The first thing that sprang to mind for me was that they have an air of Circa Waves to their sound; that said, they are by no means a carbon copy and very much have their own excitingly edgy blend of indie-pop rock, as well as intelligent lyrics with an authentic and romantic story to tell. The track is high-powered from the word go, and begins with the almost instantaneous introduction of frontman Paddys' evocative, dulcet vocals. Complete with ludic guitar riffs to die for, and an expressive tonal ambience throughout, this really is an august debut that leaves me feeling extremely excited to see what they'll do next and dying to see them live. 

'Tied Up' is available now and can be streamed on Spotify below:

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Single Review: My Time Will Come ~ TRANQUIL EYES

Tranquil Eyes are the psych-pop duo made up of Charlie Phelps and Matty Welsh who hail from Nottingham. Despite only having formed in 2016, theirs is an extraordinarily unique and harmonious sound with an incredibly soulful edge.

'My Time Will Come' has a real 80's feel to it, as well as an irresistable element of theatricality and intrigue; it's short but sweet, and is almost like the opening performance to some extravagant broadway musical. The mesmerizing synths and opulent guitars, coupled with dreamy, dulcet vocals throughout this track have seriously piqued my interest in regards to what they'll do next. Watch this space.

Listen to 'My Time Will Come' via Soundcloud below:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

An Interview With THE WHOLLS ~ 04.02.17

I can say without hesitation that 2017 is going to be the year of The Wholls. Last year saw Arturo and Santino Cocchiarella, Joe Stevenson and Daniel De Feo touring relentlessly, with countless shows both within the UK and further afield. Throughout the course of the Summer, they conquered many of our most prominent music festivals including Reading & Leeds and Isle of Wight, proving by way of their electrifying live performances that they are already worthy of a main stage slot. And it didn't end there; September saw them supporting The Enemy on their farewell tour, before heading to Hamburg where they played to a completely sold out audience. Now the name on every music lovers' lips, The Wholls ended 2016 in the best possible way by signing to Sony Music.

The future looks incredibly bright for this London based alt-rock quartet, and so I was extremely honoured to be given the opportunity to chat with them on the evening of their headline gig at one of Sheffields' finest venues, Plug... and, as I'd expected, they have a great deal of charm, and an incredibly witty sense of humour to match their musical talents!

How did The Wholls first come to be, and how did you all meet?
Arturo: Usual story, really. We got together as friends from school, and Santino is my first cousin so we picked him up later just as he came out of music university in Leeds! So we stole him, the puzzle was complete and we just started cracking on. We entered a Battle of the Bands, and we won it... we carried on, and now we're here!
Joe: Taking a step back a little bit further than that, I didn't feel like I was quite fulfilling my potential with the ladies... the band definitely helps!

What did you grow up listening to and would you say that your musical tastes and influences have changed a lot since then?
Santino: We've all got very different tastes. When we're in the van on the way to gigs, we're always fighting to put something on! What did we listen to on the way here... Bob Marley, Twenty One Pilots...
Arturo: Pavarroti!
Joe: I think we've all broadened eachothers' musical horizons! Danny definitely had a hip hop background, I'm more into indie rock and roll, Santino is all over the place... jazz and whatever, the more technical the better!
Arturo: I like Norah Jones and Pavarroti.
Joe: The bonus as well is playing now, we get to see loads of new bands before they make it. As well as seeing and listening to our original influences we're finding all of these new ones as well.
Santino: Seeing them at grass root levels before anyone blows up. This is where you get to see it best.
Joe: It's very important to support that. It means the world to bands.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do... is it the creative process of writing a great song and watching it come together in the studio, or being able to perform it live in front of an audience?
Daniel: I'd definitely say playing it to a live audience... the reaction, the adreneline, the buzz... that's my favourite.
Santino: I think when we're coming up with a new tune as well... you wake up in the morning and you have nothing, but by the time you go to bed you have this whole new vessell and you don't know what it's going to do or how people are going to react to it. You feel good that you've come up with something, and almost picked it out of the air.
Joe: There are so many different parts to it as well, it's not the same thing over and over again so the enjoyment comes from a lot of different things... the travel aspect, the songwriting, the comradery, meeting new people... all of that comes together because of this one thing, music.

You're just about to embark on a European tour... is there anywhere that you're particularly excited to be playing?
Daniel: Barcelona!
Joe: It's his birthday when we're in Barcelona.
Arturo: Everywhere! All of them. It's a dream isn't it, for a band to be able to get on a plane with someone else paying for travel... it's good. If you go on holiday and someone else pays, it's good!
Joe: The Czech Republic is on there as well, and it just sounds weird doesn't it... that we're going to somewhere like the Czech Republic to play shows. Hopefully it'll become less weird in the future and start being more normal!
Santino: It's a dream, going to different places and the reason you're going is to play a show. It's always a pretty cool thing!
Joe: And we're going to leave Danny there as well...
Santino: We'll leave him in Barcelona.
Daniel: I'm up for that.
Joe: It's nice there, you'll like it.

Do you get to be tourists inbetween shows when you're on the road?
Arturo: We'll have plenty of time. We have a lot of time to kill, it's like when you do any show. You have to get there early, so we're travelling through the night and by the time we reach our destination we'll be setting up, and once we've done that we've got nothing to do really apart from hang out.
Santino: Art galleries we said, didn't we?
Arturo: Yeah, because they're free to get in!
Joe: I failed today though... I tried to be highbrow in Leeds. We were stood looking at this piece of art and it turns out it was just a sign telling people where to go! The woman ushered me out of the way.
Arturo: We'll get better at it! I don't know about Leeds though... what was the art like, Joe?
Joe: Well we were trying to figure that out! Was the art the fact that there WAS no art and it was in your head, so you become the art? We got pretty deep with it!
Santino: This woman tried to rope us into doing a play. We were just leaving and she looked at us and said 'Oh we're doing a play about James Joyce...'
Joe: We were backing away saying 'Yeah, that sounds really interesting!'

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
Arturo: I'd go back to Leeds this morning. Back to the art show. It was nice there.
Joe: Also he's got a fish brain and can't remember anything past this morning. How about Sunday night, Monday morning... Woodstock '69, Jimi Hendrix playing Star Spangled Banner.
Santino: I think I'd jump in front of the shooter of John Lennon so he could be alive for a bit longer.
Arturo: Was Joe Cocker at that Woodstock as well?
Joe: Yeah, that was on the Friday.
Arturo: Yeah, I don't want to go there...
Santino: It was pretty grubby there. Go back there and take wet wipes and they'll all be like 'Wow, what are these?' You could make millions! I always think that... if I went back in time, I'd be like 'Fuck, what do I come up with that I know already exists that I could make money from?'
Arturo: The wet wipe though? A wet tissue... they'd all be like 'Get the fuck out of here!' I've got the Andrex ones at home and they're so beautiful.
Joe: Yeah, they've got a slight perfume to them.
Arturo: And they're only a pound for 42.
Joe: I know how to ask for wet wipes in 7 different languages.

You're sorted for this tour then...
Santino: People will be asking about all of the stuff we have, 'Is it merch?' 'No it's wet wipes.'
Joe: Wholls branded wet wipes as well... wipe your arse with our face.
Arturo: You know what you need to invent... you know how you can get dry shampoo and when your hair is dirty you can clean it with a spray? What if you could get a spray that you could clean your pants and socks with!
Santino: Yeah, it's called Febreze...

You've become renowned for your high-powered live performances... do you think your shows illustrate a completely different side to the band than we hear on studio recordings, and in turn do you find it relatively easy to translate your studio tracks into the live setting?
Santino: There was a time where we'd recorded a load of stuff and then we started playing it live and realized it was a lot heavier and a lot more powerful live and we hadn't quite captured that sound straight away. Recently over these last few months we've been back in the studio trying to relay guitars and drums and things like that to try and emulate a bit more of what we do live.
Arturo: It's close now. Obviously you're never gonna get that buzz that you get from seeing people in real life as opposed to just listening but it is close.
Joe: On the album, we've recorded some live stuff as well. Potentially... basically... We want to incorporate an element of the live stuff into the album so it may or may not be on there...
Arturo: We've added loads of Joe bum notes in there so that it sounds like it's live! 
Joe: They're funny guys!

Leeds festival in 2014 was my first 'proper' experience of a music festival, and I've been back every year since. What was the experience of playing Reading and Leeds last year like for you?
Daniel: Amazing! We loved it. Unforgettable.
Arturo: Reading especially had a wicked crowd... apparently we had one of the biggest crowds that BBC Introducing had over the full weekend, and we made the highlights reel. It was just such a good gig.
Joe: Everything fell into place. We were doing Leeds the next day so we did Reading, then we came home, slept overnight and then went to Leeds the next day. When we got home, we stuck on the TV to watch highlights from the day at Reading and then bam... all of a sudden, The Wholls were on!
Santino: And it sounded so much fatter than when we were actually playing live.
Joe: That's the thing... when you're up on stage, our on-stage sound is never the same. What we hear is completely different to what you hear out front. We know when we play well, but it's down to front of house as to whether what we play comes out the best way.
Arturo: To all of the sound engineers that might be reading... it's true that without you, we sound shit.

If you could live inside a movie or television show, which would you choose and why?
Arturo: Goodfellas. It's some cool gangster shit isn't it.
Santino: Who would you be... Tommy? You get shot, man! I think I'd be mates with Vinny Chase in Entourage. I'd be part of his posse.
Joe: I'd be Jack Burton in Big Trouble In Little China. It's cool because it's Kurt Russell, but he's cool in anything... I'd just follow Kurt Russell around.
Daniel: I'd be in The Jungle Book. I'd be little Mowgli. I'm a massive fan. Anything jungle or nature, really.

Is there any moment in your careers so far, perhaps a particular song in your back catalogue or a certain show that you've played, that you're either especially proud of or feel has been integral to getting you where you are today?
Arturo: I'd say that Reading gig. BBC Introducing and Radio 1 really, giving us a little step up. Since that, we've been signed by Sony... which helps!
Santino: We're still waiting on the PS4's though!
Joe: It definitely gives you confidence... it's like with anything, if you go out and do your hair or whatever and someone pays you a nice compliment, it's human nature isn't it that compliments make you feel good. So something like that is a huge compliment that someone who could cherry pick anyone chose us. We've played with some great bands who we think are amazing who haven't had that support.

Finally... what's next for The Wholls?
Santino: Lots of shows to get us out there.
Arturo: Staying alive on the European tour.
Joe: It's a lot of dates as well, we've never slept on a tour bus before... we've always travelled to and from gigs and stayed in towns, so this is essentially four weeks with four days off.
Arturo: Lots of different places, it's gonna be cool. It'll be interesting to see what happens... we might fucking hate eachother after a couple of weeks and dissolve the band.
Santino: I really will have to create a time machine and take the wet wipes back!
Joe: That's the very near future, and that will really determine what happens throughout the rest of the Summer. We want to get as many festivals in as we can, and it'd be great to get a UK headline tour later on in the year, or another good support tour in the UK. Definitely releases... 100%. We've got videos and songs that we haven't put out yet.
Arturo: The album is finished, the artwork is finished... it's literally done. We haven't got it yet but we've made it, so all of the components have been put together.
Joe: That moment when we get our album back... it's going to feel great. I'm getting goosebumps now! We've been playing together for 5 or 6 years, so it's been a long dream but we've put everything into it.

Friday, 10 February 2017

An Interview With RALE ~ 04.02.17

Sheffield three-piece RALE (made up of Tom O'Hara, Dino Sofos and Sena Verdi) may have only released their debut single just before Christmas, but they're already making waves on the local music scene, winning high acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing and Gigslutz... and listening to 'Sprinkle With Rust', it's not difficult to see why. Their music emanates a ruminating and pensive darkness, but has a refreshingly zealous 80's tinted edge to it.

They're certainly one of the most captivating bands I've ever come across, and I was extremely excited at the prospect of chatting with them prior to their hometown show at one of Sheffields' finest venues Plug, in support of The Wholls.

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Dino: Tom and I were in a band called Mother's Ruin, a post punk band, ages ago... 2010 I think it was when we got together?
Tom: 2009... and Dino, on BBC Radio Sheffield tonight, described our old post punk band material as mediocre! I pulled him up on that because actually... it was alright. It was a period of forming influences for what is now RALE!
Dino: It was a very important stage in our musical career! That came to an end... it just died a natural death, and then we met Sena who came to one of our last gigs.
Sena: Did I?
Dino: I remember letting you in! What was quite good is that Sena comes from an electronic musical background and it kind of forced Tom and I into new territory and to get out of our comfort zone which was important for us I think. We developed a new sound, and RALE was born! We did a few gigs when we first got together... we won a Spotify battle of the bands competition. We got some pretty big gigs... we got to support The Cribs and Mystery Jets. It was at The Garage in London which is a proper big venue, so for a new band that was a bit like woah! We kind of sat around and thought, what do we do now? We had four or five songs that were fully formed, so we thought lets go away and write some more songs, and an album. We went to the studio just down the road from here, which is a pretty cool space. We wrote some songs, and now we're just in the process of playing some gigs again and getting them out there. The first single 'Sprinkle With Rust' was a product of that, although it was quite an old song. We've been really pleased with the reception... and there's more to come!

What are your earliest memories of music?
Sena: My Auntie bought me a really rubbish birthday present one Christmas, and it was a PJ and Duncan album. I went to exchange it, and I saw two school friends who were way cooler than me... I was not very cool at school, I still am not... anyway, they asked what I was doing. When I told them, they asked what I was exchanging it for so I picked something up and it just happened to be 'Definitetly Maybe' right infront of me. I went home, put the cassette on and my mind was blown. From then on I wanted to play guitar... that was it for me. So that was my first album purchase, but my dad used to play a lot of Elton John, Marvin Gaye and Kate Bush... those were the only three things he ever played!
Tom: My Dad used to play a lot of stuff in the car... a lot of dad rock, like Dire Straits, Eagles 'best of'... actually he used to have a Gloria Estefan album, you know 'Rhythm Is Gonna Get You?' So I guess that's where I got my rhythm from at a young age! The rhythm did get me. I remember the first albums I got bought were as Christmas presents... I got Bryan Adams 'Waking Up The Neighbourhood' and Michael Jackson 'Dangerous'. The first single I bought, and I was singing this earlier, was UB40 featuring Pato Banton 'Baby Come Back'. Another of my first singles, which is still an influence, was 'Always' by Erasure.
Dino: I was born in Sheffield but I grew up in Greece until I was 5, so there was a lot of Greek music but then a lot of rock like Dire Straits and Paul Simon 'Graceland' was a big album for me when I was growing up. My dad played me Talking Heads and Black... 80's Rock and Pop. The first album that I bought with my own money was Parklife... I was a Blur kid at the time.
Sena: We wouldn't have got on... we still don't!
Tom: My brother was Oasis and I was Blur.
Dino: I love Oasis now, I got into them when I was about 16... but I bought that Blur album when I was about 12 or 13. Then I was into all sorts like Mansun, Manic Street Preachers, Placebo... I've always been into music.

Sprinkle With Rust' clocked up an incredibly high level of praise from so many high profile music media outlets... This Feeling, BBC Introducing... tell me a story about the track; whether that's in terms of the lyrics and what they relate to, or perhaps the creative process you went through to bring it to fruition.
Tom: The main progression, riffs and stuff came from mine and Dino's old band actually. We fished it out when we started RALE, and Sena got on the synths and turned it into the synth pop song that it is now. Lyrically, it's a bit of fun... one of the big differences between us and a lot of the post-punk bands we get compared to is that there's a lot more dark humour in our lyrics and it's not just 'this is shit and we're going to be miserable about it'. It's sort of about how you project identity and the feeling of loss of identity but from Napoleon's perspective... so there are a lot of little nods there to the iron fist and the velvet glove, the hundred days war and stuff like that. We recognize that it's a pop song, because it's in a certain tempo and it's got a certain progression... a lot of bands and artists would dumb it down lyrically. Obviously there's a catchy chorus, but we wanted to make the verses a bit more interesting and a bit surreal in parts.

Is there anywhere, whether that's a particular venue or perhaps a city that you've just always wanted to visit, that you'd really love the opportunity to play but haven't yet?
Tom: We want to play Glastonbury.
Dino: The one venue that I want to play is the Herodes Atticus Odeon at the Acropolis in Athens. It's the most incredible venue. You look down from the Parthenon and there's a huge amphitheatre with staggered seats and amazing natural acoustics. If we ever do a live DVD or something, we're doing it there.
Tom: It'd be like Pink Floyd when they played to no one in Pompeii...
Sena: We'll just play to no one in Athens!

When you're on the road, how do you fill your time inbetween shows?
Sena: I mainly moan, sleep, and buy stuff then walk around with carrier bags.
Dino: We're quite a productive band. Yesterday we combined the gig with a day in the studio. We wrote a song and produced the next single... it sounds great! We don't arse about really, we're serious about what we're doing. We were in Prague this week meeting the Czech National Symphony Orchestra about possibly recording some songs with them at some point. We did a bit of promo while we were over there, came back and got in the studio. It's not just the music, it's thinking about artwork and videos... the whole process for us is something we spend every waking minute doing.
Tom: This morning I had a bath, but it turned into a bit of an odyssey! I'm staying in a B&B and there was no plug for the bath... I had to walk up and down the road looking for a convenience store for a plug. I found one though! The hardest bit though is between soundchecking and the show... sometimes you are just in the venue and because you've got all that adrenaline, you can build up a bit of anxiety before you go on.

What's been the biggest learning curve for you as a band since you started out?
Tom: Diplomacy.
Sena: For me, it's been a transition because I have always self produced and self written all of my stuff... everything I've released, I've pretty much taken full control of so over the past few years I've had to relinquish two thirds of my control.
Tom: Which is why he moans all the time...
Sena: Exactly! However, we've had spectacular results. I've learned to not be so precious about it all.
Dino: There's a creative tension which is pivotal to our process I think.
Tom: Yeah, we all hate eachothers' influences!
Dino: Tom and I probably like a similar sort of sound because we were in the band together before, but at the same time we do like different music. Sena has come from a completely different background which is great because it forces us to get out of our comfort zone. I was watching that David Bowie documentary recently and that's what he was talking about... whenever something is feeling too safe, always push yourself and always take yourself out of your comfort zone. That's why on his last album, he worked with a completely new group of jazz musicians that he'd never worked with before and they forced him to do something new. Always mix it up, always challenge yourself... that's why its good working with other people who push you. To a certain extent, we're still finding our sound.
Tom: Because of how different we all are in terms of our influences, it means that every song we write is different. It means that hopefully we won't just fall into a stock bracket of band and it won't be 'these are the new Editors' or whatever, because we don't want to be like that.

Festival season is coming up, which is undoubtedly the best time of year for any music lover... if you could curate your own music festival, who would you have on the bill?
Sena: If us three curated a festival together, it'd basically just be a riot. Fans of the bands I like would hate fans of the bands they like!
Dino: Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust guise, The Smiths in their peak, Nirvana... Radiohead, always. If we did put on a festival we'd have good sound and good staging.
Sena: Smashing Pumpkins in the Siamese Dream era and Green Day in the Dookie era. Sade because she is the Queen... she's incredible. I would love to see her live.
Tom: Tears For Fears, but they're playing this Summer so hopefully we'll see them then anyway.

Finally... what's next for RALE?
Tom: More songs, and there'll be an EP out soon. We're doing a UK tour around April hopefully. We'll do the festival season, and do a European tour in September. Probably sometime in 2017 we'll have our debut album coming out, and we're already writing our second album. We'll just carry on working hard and hopefully building fans and playing shows.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Live Review: THE WHOLLS/ RALE/ WHERE FIRES ARE @ Plug, Sheffield ~ 04.02.17

Plug is one of my favourite venues in Sheffield, and I knew from the second this line up was announced that this was not a night to be missed. Two out of the three bands were new to me, in that I'd heard many good things through the grapevine but hadn't had the chance to see them live yet; RALE sent me their debut single 'Sprinkle With Rust' over for review last month, leaving me instantly mesmerized with their philosophical, 80's tinted musical aura, and Where Fires Are have been on my radar for a couple of years now. As for headline act The Wholls... having seen them for the first time just before Christmas, I understood straight away exactly why there's such a buzz surrounding them at the moment, and why they've made a name for themselves as one of the most exciting live acts in the country at the moment.

From the moment Where Fires Are took to the stage it was a whirlwind of high-powered, introspective rock, complete with galvanizing riffs and dulcet vocals. They've been on the scene now for a number of years, and that level of experience most definitely shines through in their live show; there's an incredible element of theatricality to them in the sense that each track is so intricately woven together, and performed with such fire and intensity... it's all but impossible to look away. The band appeared completely lost in the music throughout the entirety of their set, which was beautiful to see, and I think their audience were captivated too. I'll definitely be seeing these guys again at the earliest possible opportunity.

Where Fires Are

RALE are a very special band; I could start and end here with this simple statement. They are the chameleons of the music world, with no one track sounding quite the same, thus making it impossible to categorize them- or even adequately describe them... but perhaps this is the intention; in this day and age, with so many bands fighting to be heard, it's crucial to stand out... and RALE definitely stand out. Whilst some songs have an infectious air of ludic, synth-pop, complete with catchy hooks and choruses- on the other end of the scale, they have the ability to shock you with tracks that exude an almost disconcerting darkness. But what brings everything together perfectly is the way in which they perform with such dynamic force; Tom O'Hara is one of the most authentic and eccentric frontmen I have ever come across, and dances around the stage from start to finish as if his life depended on it.


The Wholls ended 2016 by signing a record deal with Sony, and with a huge European tour on the horizon, things can only get bigger. The music industry is in dire need of a band of their calibre; their delightfully erratic and intoxicating live shows are unsurpassable, and the on-stage chemistry between them is electric. This sedulous performance is packed full of anthemic, highly-charged crowd pleasers- all of which are surefire hits of the future. Frontman Arturo Cocchiarella sings with supreme verve and gusto, and instrumentally, they're all about the big, grandiose riffs. The Wholls are undoubtedly the festival headliners of the future, and it's so wonderful to see them being duly recognized and rewarded after so many years of grafting.

The Wholls

Every band on the line up was worthy of a headline slot, and I can safely say that this show was one of the most impressive and memorable that I have ever been to.