Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Live Review: SOUNDS LIKE A STORM @ The Wardrobe, Leeds ~ 24.03.17

When it comes to making it big, Sounds Like A Storm definitely have what it takes... and I think they know it, as well; with confidence and rock n' roll swagger aplenty, as well as a steely determination to bring their powerful and emphatic music to the masses, this quartet of Leeds based teenagers (Sennen Ludman, Joseph Schofield, Cormac Connelly and Connor Passey) are already hitting all of the right notes. Despite only having been together just under a year, their tight-knit and exceedingly polished rock styling has won them a legion of fans in and around Leeds, all of whom were out in force for their near sold out headline show at The Wardrobe.

Every single song within their set packed some serious punch and has the potential to be a successful single release, showing off not only their musical abilities but also their extraordinary combined chemistry as a band. Frontman Sennens' searingly vehement vocals, accompanied by fervid guitars and an all around audacious instrumental vim made for an exceedingly trenchant and rhythmically pulsing performance.

From the word go, the excitement and energy throughout the crowd was at fever pitch, with people singing, dancing and even crowd surfing from the second the band set foot on the stage. They performed with such an easy confidence, displaying authentic showmanship and appearing jubilant and completely at home on stage.  For such a new band (not to mention one so young) to inspire such an intense reaction and loyalty from their audience is nothing short of astounding. One thing's for sure... this is but the tip of the iceberg. Watch this space, because Sounds Like A Storm are here to stay.

Monday, 20 March 2017

An Interview With COURTYARDS ~ 11.03.17

Courtyards are a Huddersfield based four-piece made up of Matthew RileyLuke AllcockLouis Taylor and Callum Usher. The band have three successful single releases under their belt in the form of 'Disarray', 'Go Down' and most recently 'Firelight'; this saw them produce their first ever music video, which has clocked up hundreds of views online since its release. 2017 has already seen them take their electrifying live show to the likes of Leeds, Bradford, York and Sheffield- and things look set to get even bigger.

I was able to speak to the band prior to their Bradford show- the penultimate date of their tour in association with Double Denim Live.

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Luke: It was me, Matt, Callum and then a few other members in 2015. We have had a few changes and stuff. We got Louis in around October.
Callum: We had quite a few line up changes before we were actually Courtyards. To start with, we were messing around as a sort of covers band.
Luke: A bit more acoustic, as well.
Callum: It was towards July of 2015 that we started playing electric instruments and stuff. We went and did a wedding back where me and Luke live, and we stayed at Lukes' house for about a week.
Luke: I had been on a box drum, and that was the first time we moved to a full drum kit.
Callum: We actually wrote 'Disarray' in that week. After that, we had a couple more line up changes...
Matt: It's not us... it's them!
Callum: We got a bassist who then left, and then Louis graced us with his presence. It's like with the Defence Against The Dark Arts teachers in Harry Potter... swapping every year!

What are your earliest memories of music? 
Callum: Listening to 'Dreaming Of You' by The Coral when I was like 3 or 4 in my living room. I could dance to that!
Luke: I took a lot from what my older brothers would listen to. My brothers' first album was 'By The Way' by Red Hot Chili Peppers. That was and probably still is one of my favourite albums... that and 'Appetite for Destruction' by Guns N' Roses. Those two are probably my earliest memories of actively choosing to listen to music.
Matt: My music taste started off as metal and stuff, really. My favourite band used to be Linkin Park. The first thing that made me want to pick up a guitar was probably Oasis. I know that's probably stereotypical! 'Wonderwall' was the first thing I learnt!
Luke: We played that once... but never again!
Louis: Green Day and Chili Peppers was what started me off playing the guitar.

Tell me something about Courtyards that no one else knows...
Callum: Oh god! I don't think there's anything suitable for the public! We're just all idiots, really!
Louis: I don't think that's a secret, to be fair...
Callum: I think sometimes we give people the impression that we take ourselves so seriously that we don't really have a laugh but even though we're persuing it quite aggressively, I'd say we still have a really good laugh with it. We really do work hard but we still enjoy ourselves. We like having a bit of a laugh while we're doing it instead of having a resting bitch face all of the time... I am guilty of that, I'm not gonna lie!
Matt: One secret, if you want to call it that, is that we all hate 'Disarray'.
Luke: That is a lie! I like it. But the songs we've written since then are better, but it doesn't mean I hate it. Matt loves to hate that song.
Callum: Matt is the first to hate every song! Always.
Matt: I'll write a song, we'll play it and then I'm like 'Nah, this song is shit.'

If tomorrow was to be your last day on Earth... what would you do?
Callum: (turning to Matt) I'd probably kill you, to be honest. I'm sorry, I'm joking... ish. I'd probably take him out, just for the satisfaction! Nah, I'd get myself the biggest steak dinner possible.
Luke: I'd try and go see a band. Or we could throw a massive gig!
Matt: It depends how long I had to plan this last day on Earth. But yeah, a massive gig and we'd have Tame Impala on supporting us!

Music aside, does anyone in the band have any interesting hobbies or strange talents?
Luke: I can clap quite fast. (He demonstrated this, and he really can clap quite fast!)
Callum: I can suck down a bottle of VK so fast! I inhale it... it's an inhuman talent and I am thinking about persuing it as a career.
Matt: I'm training to be a physiotherapist which is quite weird. I'll be qualified this year.

If you could live inside any movie, which would you pick and why?
Callum: The Marvel Universe... straight away!
Luke: Zombieland. I just think it would be sick! I could kill loads of people... which brings us back to the theme of killing Matt! Only if he was a zombie, obviously...
Matt: Why does everyone want to kill me?! Probably The Walking Dead, but I would be Rick. Or Harry Potter if I could go to that school.
Callum: You could be a magical physiotherapist!
Louis: Lord of the Rings.
Luke: Good choice. You strike me as a bit of a Gimli.
Matt: You do look like a bit of a hobbit.
Callum: I can definitely see him in that. Really good choice!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing up and coming bands in the music industry in this day and age?
Matt: There are so many bands out there right now that people just don't know who to listen to.
Luke: We've had so many gigs and thought that bands that have been on with us should have more of a following, but they just don't despite being so talented. I could name so many.
Callum: I think it's establishing yourself as a live band as well. Being in a band, polishing your sound and working on your showmanship is doable... it's getting people to come to your gigs when you're starting out that is a constant struggle.
Luke: Even with mates. It's fine getting them to come to one gig, but to sort of regularly come is hard.
Matt: We want to branch out and play different cities but a lot of promoters expect you to bring a certain amount of people with you... which is understandable because they want to make money, but how do you actually establish a fanbase in that city?
Luke: It's like trying to find a job when you don't have any experience and they want experience. It's the same thing. You're trying to branch out but can't because they expect you to have a following in that city. I suppose you've got to strike lucky in a sense and meet nice people... meet some nice promoters and get chatty with other bands.

Name the most terrifying moment of your life to date. Have you recovered from it?
Callum: We were driving to Sheffield, and me and Luke were in the back of the car and then suddenly this white light just floods through the window...
Luke: We were driving on what we thought was a one way slip road that went on to the motorway.
Callum: Matt was driving in the oncoming lane of a white van!
Matt: To be fair it was really quiet and the van was quite a bit away!
Luke: There was about half an hour left of the journey and he was just silent the entire time!
Callum: We were holding hands in the back the whole way, it was terrifying.
Matt: I am a good driver.
Callum: He's a inconsistent driver. He's really good but he's really shit. We wouldn't be a band without him though. We're either going to be really successful, or end up dead.
Luke: I was going to tell that story, but I don't know if its appropriate...
Callum: Tell that one... that was really funny! Just change the names. Chantel and Melissa... Chantel is the ex and Melissa is the new one.
Luke: Basically I have an ex called "Chantel" and I sort of went back with this girl called "Melissa"... this is after I'd broken up with Chantel. The morning after, everyone was in one of our friends' rooms and I just sort of popped my head in and Melissa was there and I was just like 'I'm just going to walk Chantel back to the train station,' and said the ex's name! She just walked straight outside and I was like 'Oh no!' Their names were quite similar! Literally everyone started laughing and I was there like 'This is my low point.' I've not really recovered from it!

You've spent quite a lot of time on the road of late and have some amazing shows lined up still to come. Is there anywhere that you always look forward to playing or have had good experiences in the past?
Matt: Most recently I'd say Holmfirth Picturedrome. It was one of the best gigs we've played.
Luke: It was a charity gig for Local Hero Promotions, they're called. It was really good and I got to use my drum kit as well. I recently bought a custom drum skin with our logo on it so it was kind of cool!
Callum: We did a uni refreshers event and played with a band called Heir, who were amazing. It was in a warehouse and it was actually one of the first gigs we'd played after having recorded our newest single.
Matt: West St Live in Sheffield! We struck really lucky with that because it was absolutely dead until about 10. We were playing on a Thursday as well.
Luke: About 5 minutes before we went on about 150 people flood through the door dressed as haribos and robots!
Callum: The best thing about that gig was playing guitar and this girl walked up to the barrier, waved at me then kept feeding me haribo jellies!

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or look into the future?
Callum: Travel back in time... Peaky Blinders, straight away!
Louis: If you go back in time though you risk ruining your present, where as if you look into the future you're not going to create a chain of events.
Luke: See your favourite artists at their starting gigs. I'd see Stevie Wonder when he was like 15, rocking the stage!
Callum: I'd love to go back and see Queen live at Wembley. That would be amazing.
Matt: If you could just pick and choose bands from when they're starting out... I'd go and see Arctic Monkeys at like their second gig or something.
Luke: If I could see into the future, I wouldn't want to see into my future.
Callum: It'd just be depressing.
Louis: If I could go into the future and find out all of yours', then come back and be like 'I know what you're doing next week!'

Is there anything that you've done so far within your musical careers that you are either especially proud of or feel has been crucial in getting you where you are today? That could be a certain song you've produced, a particular show you've played... or perhaps something else entirely.
Luke: I could answer that straight away and say our last single, 'Firelight'. We recorded the track, organised doing a video for it as well and since then it's had about 21,000 views which I'm absolutely blown away by.
Callum: I think we were truly touched that people actually gave that much of a shit about it. We had people messaging the page saying it was great and that they really liked it so that made us want to release more.
Matt: I'd say our latest single that we've recorded but haven't released yet. We proper nailed the recording of it. A couple of us had uni assessments so we couldn't do a normal day in the studio and had about 12 hours.
Luke: We usually record a song over 2 days.
Matt: We managed to smash a full recording in one 12 hour day.
Callum: We're not sure what order we're releasing stuff in yet. It is one of my favourites but we're thinking more now of variety of our sound. When we finally record our entire EP which we're hopefully going to do before Summer, we'll have 3 unreleased songs that all show a different angle to our sound. We're going to be quite tactical about releasing it and show off the different dimensions of the band.
Matt: We want to release another single before we release the EP, so that'll be around Summer time.

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future of Courtyards?
Luke: Leeds Fest! I'd love to play a big festival.
Matt: We just want to get festivals over Summer, really. We want to establish ourselves more.
Callum: Future wise, I'm looking forward to us all finishing uni and getting financially stable jobs. I think that will allow us to really persue the band.
Matt: And stop feeling guilty when we're not doing essays!
Callum: I'm studying to be a teacher so I'm not really sure that's the most simple career alongside being a rockstar! I'm gonna be like Mr Schneebly from School Of Rock!

Watch the official music video for 'Firelight' below:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Single Review: Coming Up ~ LUNABLIND

If it's ultra charming, ludic indie-pop that you're after, then look no further than LUNABLIND. Now made up of Sam Garbett, Luke D'Aulerio and Harry Beech, the Leeds based band recently became a three-piece after the departure of guitarist Nath Sayers. They have enjoyed a string of live shows and festival appearances in and around their hometown since their formation in 2016, and also have two successful releases under their belt in the form of a self titled EP and last years' single release 'Everything Else'. Proving that they are not to be deterred by the change in circumstance, the band are back with punchy new single 'Coming Up'.

I feel that it is definitely a step away from their previous material; though it is every inch as buoyant as I have come to expect from them in terms of instrumentation, there is recognisably an element of frustration within the lyrics that make it somewhat more serious than anything we've heard from them to date. This is by no means a bad thing; it shows versatility, and that they are not just capable of pumping out upbeat, indie-pop charmers but have the ability to produce something different and a little darker. From start to finish the track is defined by powerful soundscapes and shimmering guitar-led storytelling, all of which are accentuated by frontman Sams' mettlesome vocal flair throughout. Every instrument in use is highlighted well, which not only coalesces the immense musical abilities of every member of the band but also creates an atmosphere soaked sound with polished professionalism by the bucketload, plus an authentic and melodic musical vitality.

Listen to 'Coming Up' below:

Monday, 13 March 2017

An Interview With SOUNDS LIKE A STORM ~ 26.02.17

Sounds Like A Storm are the Leeds based rock and roll quartet made up of Sennen Ludman, Joseph Schofield, Cormac Connelly and Connor 'Cornish' Passey. With confidence and swagger aplenty plus talent and authenticity by the bucketload, these guys most certainly have a huge future ahead of them. Their debut single 'Emission' was solid proof of their incredible potential and received hugely positive feedback from fans and media outlets alike when it was released last month.

Despite only having been together just under a year, they have an incredibly articulated sound and their electrifying live performances have seen them secure support slots with the likes of Glass Caves and King No-One. For such a young band, they have such a fantastic work ethic and are clearly in their element when presented with the opportunity to perform live. This, coupled with their determination, enthusiasm and passion for music will undoubtedly see them going far in the future.

I spoke with the band prior to their performance at Leeds' Oporto in support of fellow Yorkshire based band, The Gallery...

How did it all begin for you guys? How and when did you meet and initially start the band?
Sennen: Around about April last year. We had a band at school, and it was just me, Cornish and Cormac.
Joe: Not me!
Sennen: Not him. He came to watch us at the o2, and he came up to me asking for a singer to join his band. I was like 'No, we're too good for that sort of thing and I can't leave these!' but I just said that we needed a new drummer. He literally came for one practise, and now we can't get rid of him!

Was there something in paticular that made you want to pursue a career in music or did you just always grow up with it in your life and feel inspired that way?
Cornish: Sennen just came up to us and asked if we wanted to start a band.
Sennen: It was just one of those things really... I asked them if they could play an instrument and wanted to start a band, and we just took it from there. We're all really into music.
Joe: It was mainly after the Honey Arcade gig, because that was our first proper gig and it just gave us that confidence.

In terms of your creative process, would you say you have a particular way of doing things in terms of whether the lyrics or the melody come first... and is there a primary songwriter?
(Everyone points to Sennen)
Sennen: I do the lyrics!
Joe: I do the backing vocals! Well I make the backing vocals and Cornish steals them from me because I'm not allowed a mic...
Cornish: He tells me what to sing and I sing it.
Sennen: I just write some lyrics and I play an E minor cord on capo 4. I'll strum that, then Cornish will add a bassline, Joe adds the beat and Cormac adds a riff. It's like a cognitive machine now that keeps getting faster and faster!
Joe: Every Wednesday when we go to the studio, there's a new song!

Do you think that, within the music industry, there is an element of artists (particularly those at the forefront of the media) dumbing songs down lyrically in an attempt to make them more commercially appealing?
Sennen: Definitely. Without a doubt. They need to grow some bollocks! People are just too scared these days.
Joe: I think it's because it's based on your character and the band, people have got fake images and don't actually associate with the crowd.
Sennen: It's like they'll write a song and go 'Right, this will get radio airplay and the money will roll in,' where as we don't give a toss about all of that and we much prefer the live scene. We just want to make songs to make people lose their shit.

So would you say that you find it quite easy to translate the music that you're writing and recording into the live setting?
Sennen: Yeah, definitely. I would say that we're a better live band than in the studio.
Cornish: We recorded 'Emission' as a live take.
Joe: It's because we're not musicians! We just like making noise on a stage and see the crowd dance!
Sennen: We're just four scruffs playing shit.

Tell me a funny fact or memory about someone else in the band...
Joe: I always drop my sticks live. That's one thing!
Cornish: In every single set! 
Sennen: Anything Cornish! If you want something funny, then just picture him!
Cormac: I threw him through a drum set. 
Sennen: In the early days, he was the drummer... this was when it was just the three of us and we had nothing. I wouldn't sing or anything, it was just the guitar. Cornish played the drums and when he wouldn't play once, and Cormac just picked him up, lost his shit and just threw him through the drum kit!
Joe: Anything for Sennen?
Sennen: No...
Joe: He can have one lager and he's fucked.
Sennen: It's not my fault I can be cheap and get pissed! I don't mind that!
Joe: The night ends early for you! What about Cormac? Cormac is just mysterious, that's all there is to him.
Cornish: And sensible.
Sennen: He's the sensible one.
Joe: Cornish is the twat.
Sennen: Joe's just there...
Joe: I'm Joe and I'm the oldest.
Sennen: He's the one when you've got tickets to sell, you give the money to him because he's the older one. He'll probably rob you though. He's had me a couple of times!

What would you say has been the most memorable gig of your musical careers so far and why?
Sennen: I would say supporting King No-One at The Wardrobe. We were the first support on and the crowd were just insane. We gained so much from that experience.
Joe: I'd say the best gig was about 6 months ago when we played Middleton Bar!
Sennen: We'll leave that there! God bless Old Chapel for giving us that gig though.
Joe: It just shows where we were 6 months ago though. That gig got us where we are.
Cormac: It was our first ever live performance.
Joe: It took us about 3 months to even get a gig. We grafted, and then we got one.

You have a huge headline show at The Wardrobe in Leeds in March... do you have anything special planned for that? 
Sennen: I'd like to say we have, but lets just say it's a secret! I reckon the biggest thing there is having The Time Sellers on as support because they are amazing. Forget coming to see us!
Joe: We're getting a blow up doll. We went to a gig the other night and the security guy was so impressed! There was a blow up doll and he was just stood there pissing himself! And we were just like 'That's what WE need!'
Sennen: We've already been warned no inflatables, which is a shame...
Joe: I'll get my nipples out...
Sennen: He probably will! Whips his shirt off... drops his stick while he's at it...

If you could be invisible for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
Sennen: I would probably go to a club so that I could get in! I actually would do that. I'd sneak behind the bar, get my beer and then I'd just sit there on my own listening to the music. I'd go to Verve Bar because that's a cracking bar.
Joe: I'd sneak into a festival and then when I turned un-invisible, I'd already be in!
Sennen: Joe would probably do something awful to me.
Joe: No, it'd be Cornish.
Sennen: Yeah! I'd probably shave his head.
Cormac: Or burn his coat!
Joe: I'd give him a tattoo. For all the abuse I got for mine, that's what I'd do.

Is Cornish the one who bears the brunt of the abuse from the rest of you then? 
Sennen: It is probably him more than anyone, yeah. It goes in the order we're stood in really... Cornish, Joe, me...
Joe: No one would dare start on Cormac!

Would you rather be a wizard or a Pokemon trainer?
Sennen: Wizard.
Joe: A wizard because you can cast spells! But then if you're a Pokemon trainer you can just throw Pokemon at people...
Sennen: I'd do mind tricks on everyone.
Joe: Cornish would get bullied even more if he was a wizard! 
Sennen: If you've got your own broom, you could just be off flying!
Joe: We could all be wizards and have a game of Quidditch...

What would you say sets you apart from other guitar bands on the scene at then moment?
Sennen: Rock and roll.
Joe: It's like Sennen always says... there's nothing new about us. It's all simple stuff, but it's effective.
Sennen: We're all into old stuff like Oasis, Ramones and shit like that. That kind of takes us back to the question about bands holding back... of course they are. They'll have one good album and then the second will just be radio friendly. It needs a band to set it all apart and give a message... don't be just saying shit about what you've done with your day. You need to provoke a feeling in your audience.
Joe: The majority of bands nowadays are all the same. They all just sound the same.
Sennen: They're all rich and I've got holes in my trousers.

What are the hopes, dream and future plans for Sounds like a Storm?
Sennen: Glastonbury main stage.
Joe: To have the money to buy my own drum symbols!
Sennen: Short term... get some alright gear. Long term... escape poverty and then take it as big as it's going to go. We want to be the biggest we can be and play arenas and just be one of those bands that don't die. Like Stereophonics... they're on their 10th album. I want to be like that where it's just your job for the rest of your life. That's all I could ask for.

Are you working on new music at the moment, then?
Sennen: We don't really focus too much on writing... we'll go in the studio and we'll go 'Time for a new one?' But yeah, we have some things in the works! But for now... check out 'Emission!'
Joe: And get yourself to The Wardrobe on March 24th while you're at it!

'Emission' had such a good reception... you must be pretty pleased with that?
Sennen: Yeah, which is what I most wanted for the first single. It's got to be something that's gonna stamp your foot. You don't want to release a song and then the second one be completely different... you want to set your tone. We've done alright considering we're just four dickheads from a council estate. I'm alright with that! We're getting good gigs and alright reviews.
Cornish: In less than a year as well.
Sennen: That just shows how fast it's all going. It's non stop, but that's just how we like it.

Listen to 'Emission' here:

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Single Review: Cast Away ~ LIBERTY SHIP

Over the course of the last couple of years, Sheffield based quartet Liberty Ship (made up of Lewis Hancock, Jack Eddison, James Brown and Kierran Bond) have rightfully sealed their place as one of the most respected and exciting up and coming bands of recent years. Having been together since they were just 13 years of age, they've toured with the likes of Reverend and the Makers and King Charles and have built up a reputation for their polished musical styling and striking live performances. Last Summer saw them appearing at some of the UK's most prestigious festivals, as well as being listed as part of This Feeling / Fred Perry Subculture 'Big In 2016'. Their success and popularity looks set to continue with the release of euphonious and delightfully buoyant new single 'Cast Away'.

This track instantly drew me in with its brisk and unadulterated melodious verve and effervescent bluesy aura. It's a real treat for the ears and is delicously upbeat from start to finish. Frontman Lewis' vocals are copiously soulful and are delivered with such passion and flair. Instrumentally, it's defined by luscious guitars and opulent beats, which exude a lively sense of ebullience. 'Cast Away' is every inch a resonant display of their impressive ability for rich and expressive songcraft and I'm excited to see what they do next.

Listen to 'Cast Away' here:

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

An Interview With VANT ~ 25.02.17

Happening across a band who make such a bold statement through way of their music is always refreshing; within their lyrics VANT shed light on a number of important matters, many of which are so often brushed under the carpet because they are still wrongfully considered taboo subjects to even talk about, let alone write songs about. Brainchild of frontman Mattie Vant, the band (made up of Mattie, Henry Eastham, Billy Morris and David Green) formed in 2014 and since then have spent much of their time touring relentlessly across the country and have played alongside the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen and Biffy Clyro. They have received support and airplay from BBC Radio 1 on a number of occasions, and have built up quite the ineffable reputation for their high-powered, emphatic punk-rock styling.

In 2015, all of their hard work was rewarded in the form of a major record deal with Parlophone which allowed them to finally focus on music full time and bring their long awaited debut album to fruition. Sure enough, 'Dumb Blood' was released on the 17th of February this year and has received praise from a great many high profile media outlets, with both Q and Kerrang magazines' awarding it an 8/10 rating. Now in the midst of a whirlwind UK tour to help promote it, I was able to take 3/4 of the band aside for a chat prior to their sold out show at Leeds' The Wardrobe...

Henry, Mattie & Billy
How and when did you first come together as a band?
Mattie: I wrote some music and then I asked Henry to come and play some music with me because I am not a very good guitarist and he is a very, very good guitarist!
Henry: He is a good guitarist!
Mattie: I'm alright now... I'm better now than I was then. We had some songs so we needed to start a band. We found this odd little Welsh fellow washing pots in the kitchen at the bar I used to work in! We used to play eachother records, and he became a part of it. Then we went through about 500 drummers and ended up with the best new drummer in the entire world! Not my words... the words of Rhythm Magazine! We were all really good friends before, it was fun. From that point it kind of became a collaborative effort. Henry has co-written quite a lot of the songs on the album and stuff. It's very much a band now.

Was there ever a pivotal experience or moment in your life where you realized that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Mattie: I just wanted people to applaud me!
Henry: And what was the first thing... Grease?
Mattie: No, it wasn't Grease... I played an 8 year old Elvis in a Transylvanian reinterpretation of Dracula. There's no pictorial evidence online but my mum does have a VHS tape which I keep.
Henry: I'm going to leak it all over the internet... I'll make loads of money off it.
Mattie: We should make a music video out of it. It was pretty funny. I think from then I enjoyed acting and being on stage when I was younger, but I just hated not being myself. When I discovered music it was kind of a realization that I could still entertain people and play in a live environment but be myself, write my own music and embody everything that comes with that. I don't think it was really an epiphany moment, it was just like a gradual thing.

What are your earliest memories of music in terms of what you grew up listening to?
Mattie: Mainly ABBA, Hear'Say, Westlife, Boyzone, Shania Twain...
Henry: Now 35! That was my album when I was growing up.
Mattie: I was into the whole indie explosion, I guess. That really resonated with me, so all of those bands. I can't even be arsed to name them.
Henry: The early 2000's. The bands, basically. Similarly with me really. When I was younger my parents liked quite good music, so I liked The Beatles and The Beach Boys when I was really little. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Stranglers and stuff like that. I think The Stranglers were probably the first punk record I ever listened to. They're great! I definitely liked Hanson... I didn't even buy 'MMMBop', I bought single number 3 which was slow and really emotional. I don't know what it's called... I wonder if my mum has still got it...
Mattie: Yeah, your mum...

One of the things I love most about your music is that it sheds light on matters that are perhaps still considered somewhat taboo subjects to even talk about, let alone write music about; ther's an element of frustration throughout the album in regards to a plethora of social and political issues. That in mind, do you think it's important not only to use music as a platform for entertainment but to get people thinking and educate them as well?
Mattie: Definitely. I keep bringing this up but I saw a really brilliant interview with Nina Simone the other day and she sort of says that it's an artists' duty to comment on the times that they live in. Obviously we'd been doing that prior to me watching that interview but it was really inspiring and reminded me why I started doing this in the first place. She's such an amazing woman and I think there are so many great artists throughout history that have used their voices because they have such a huge platform to influence things. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of artists at the moment that are using that platform but it is becoming more and more common I think. We covered Katy Perry the other day... it's amazing that an artist of her size is actually thinking about the lyrics and thinking about how she can incorporate important things into pop music. It takes someone of that scale to make a seismic change and allow people to feel like they don't have to be muted anymore. For us, I have to write about this stuff because I care about it and because I would feel fake if I was getting up on stage and singing about love or going clubbing every night. I think it would be soul destroying. At least I know that every night when I sing, I'm talking about important things and although people might not immediately realize it, if they go home and think about it then maybe it's something that they'll read into or something that they equally have a shared frustration or passion for. I think it's a powerful thing and it's something that is outside of mainstream media and politics so to have total control over your art is incredible. I think more people should use their voices.

Does anyone have any interesting hobbies or strange talents outside of music?
Mattie: Billy can sort of beatbox... but I guess that's still music isn't it? It's pretty bad though.
Henry: It's not beatboxing as you would think of it.
Mattie: I don't know what it is but it's entertaining. Billy... can you open the door and do your Michael Jackson beatboxing? Do 'Beat It'.
Henry: Not 'Beat It', do 'Billy Jean'!
(At this point, Mattie brings Billy in to demonstrate!)
Mattie: So he can do that! I used to be a qualified lifeguard.
Billy: Greenie (drummer David Green) has the loudest whistle of all time!
Henry: It's horrendous. I don't have any special talents apart from my ability to love planes. That's pretty big!
Billy: You're good at running.
Henry: That's not really a special talent. I can do football... and I'm quite good at accents and impressions. I can do Alan Partridge.
Mattie: To be fair, most of your impressions are Alan Partridge...

There's a track on the album entitled 'FLY-BY-ALIEN'... do you believe that there is life elsewhere in the universe, and do you think it can ever be proved?
Henry: I think there must be.
Mattie: If you take it in a scientific perspective... if the universe is infinite, then that means that there are infinite possibilities. I believe that there has to be life out there somewhere in the universe. I don't know if we'll ever cross paths... we probably won't. I think humanity will be destroyed by the time that happens. I think it's amazing. I love thinking about stuff like that... the big questions and the scary, unfathomable truths of the atmosphere and the universe. I think it's really beautiful to have those kind of thoughts. TAKE ME WITH YOU.... PLEASE! Get me off this shithole!
Henry: We'll do the gig first. We don't mean Leeds... Leeds is great! Just the world in general.

What is your opinion on reality television shows such as The X Factor and The Voice? Do you think they're a help or a hindrance to the music industry?
Henry: I think it's terrible, now. It's so contrived and everyone has a story.
Mattie: Brainwashing. It's basically The Sun newspaper in a television programme.
Henry: Do they even get number 1 records anymore? It doesn't happen. They've just started a new one haven't they? When I was home on a Saturday night doing nothing, I saw it on TV. It's that rebranded thing on ITV.
Mattie: It's basically everything that's wrong with the music industry condensed into an hour long episode each week. I think the novelty factor when it first came out was quite exciting and fresh, but now it's just been watered down like everything else. I think reality TV in general is pretty dire. I think if you could replace reality TV with interesting documentaries then the world would be a much better educated place.
Henry: That's reality... the fact that what's on TV isn't reality. I like Dinner Date but it's not real!
Mattie: It has it's place when you've got a hangover or whatever but I think brainwashing the masses every single hour of every single day is not a good thing.
Henry: I like Four In A Bed... A Place In The Sun...
Mattie: I think television is kind of dying anyway. Most people stream stuff now and that gives you the opportunity to choose to watch whatever you want at whatever time.
Henry: It's interesting though, because do people really know what they want? The vast majority probably wouldn't. I look at Netflix and I'll probably go through it for like 40 minutes trying to pick something.
Mattie: I just look on Rotten Tomatoes and look at the top 100 documentaries or rom coms...

Festival season is fast approaching... roll on another Summer of music and (hopefully) sunshine! If you could curate your own music festival, who would you want on the bill? Feel free to bring back some legends from the grave to play for you!
Mattie: I would have the line up which I could have seen but unfortunately for whatever reason didn't... me and my dad tried to go and see Neil Young about 5 times before we actually saw him because various things kept going wrong. The first time I was meant to go and see him it was him and then Pixies supporting which would have been unbelievable. So I'd make that happen on one of the nights. I'd like The Kinks to reform, and Pink Floyd.
Henry: I'd let Jimi Hendrix have the Sunday afternoon slot as long as he didn't set stuff on fire.
Mattie: You're such a little party pooper!
Henry: Jimi, just chill out mate... it's not the 60's anymore!
Billy: I'd have Nirvana, and Neil Young like you said. Neil Young, Pixies and Nirvana in one night. I wouldn't even be able to watch... just knowing that's happening would make me happy enough!
Mattie: I could go on forever. We've gone a bit cock heavy though, haven't we? I'll get Nina Simone in. PJ Harvey, M.I.A, Bjork...
Henry: I'd give The Ronnettes a run out as well.
Billy: Patti Smith.
Mattie: Lets have an equal billing of talented women and men.
Henry: Warpaint, La Femme...
Mattie: Now you're just naming bands that have got girls in them! Who else? Shania Twain!
Henry: I'd actually give Alanis Morrisette a run out as well if she did 'Jagged Little Pill'.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about you do... is it the writing and recording process and watching a song come to fruition, or getting to head out on the road and play it to a live audience?
Mattie: Absolutely live.
Henry: Playing live is amazing but I absolutely love writing and recording. It's wicked, but it's such a different process, feeling and reward.
Mattie: I think 'reward' is the key word because this is the reward for doing that... to finally see people conecting with the music that you've worked really hard to make. The fact that people know the words and vibes of the songs that are on the album that normally people would react to live but not in the same way as they would the singles... where as now, every single song has the same reaction and it's a really humbling, amazing thing.

Obviously you've been working on the album for a long time now... were you nervous at all when it came to releasing it?
Mattie: Not nervous... I was definitely ready to get it out but I guess it's just the current climate and there is pressure put on bands in terms of being able to sell records. It's just really hard at the moment and takes a lot of time. We've got a label behind us who are going to work to grow us. So there are those kind of pressures but there's nothing you can do about it really.
Henry: I was definitely anxious.
Mattie: I think it's just the fact that we want to keep doing this. We want to make music that matters and says something. Because we're at the forefront of political rock music at the moment, if we stop being in a band, where does that leave the next generation of rock bands? So I guess it's just trying to find that balance and get people into it a bit more. Most of the nights on this tour are sold out or close to selling out and there's passion there but it just needs to go to the next stage so we can continue. We've been building it for years now and it shows that we can get there, but it just takes time. But yeah, it was more the joy of getting it out there than nerves.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Mattie: Hitler.
Henry: Do you remember when we got asked who we'd have round for dinner? Our dinner party included Hitler, Ghandi... maybe Martin Luther King, and there was a spaceman of some description.
Mattie: Buzz Aldrin. I think Genghis Khan would be quite interesting. It's weird but I am most drawn to the evil people just to see that mentality. I'm sure if you set up a 'Donald Trump Day'... again I'd be interested to have a conversation with him and just say 'You're fucking mental... what is going on here?'
Henry: He'd probaby ban us from attending.
Mattie: I really like it in then movies where they have those beautiful Egyptian women... Cleopatra would be nice.
Billy: I'd like to have a dinner party and a drink with Dylan Thomas. That would be pretty good and he'd definitely outdrink me.
Henry: I'd like to meet an artist.
Mattie: Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. I kind of want to know about a different world rather than something musically related.

Finally... what are your hopes, dreams and plans for the future of VANT?
Henry: Like Mattie said, to be able to continue to do what we love and try and spread our message to as many people as possible.
Mattie: To challenge ourselves as well... I think we're going to make a record that's completely different to the one that we've made. I think you've got to push yourself as an artist and make something that's really unique and incredible. The first record was like a homage to everything that we love about rock music, but we've kind of done that now so lets see what else is out there and experiment with it. We want to enjoy it but at the same time be involved in conversation and talk about important things. We want to just get out there and keep people talking. Starting that conversation is important, but keeping it ongoing is even more important because if we stop then everything that we stand against has won.

Listen to VANT and their incredible debut album 'DUMB BLOOD' here:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Single Review: Fantasy Machine ~ THE STRAWBERRIES

The Strawberries are the Leeds based quartet made up of Sam Neil, Joe Dines, Ben Heath and Ethan Sherwin. Eclectic in both style and sound, they have become known and loved for their unexampled blend of psychadelic rock and exciting live performances. Over recent years, they've performed alongside the likes of Blossoms, Hidden Charms and The Vryll Society and have played to sold out audiences up and down the country. Picked to be "Big In 2017" by the legendary This Feeling, their success looks set to continue this year... and the newly released 'Fantasy Machine' is an absolutely stunning display of just how brilliant this band are.

A frenzy of transcendent and salient riffs from start to finish, this track most definitely makes for riveting listening. With its gripping tonal swirls and sonorously dulcet vocal verve, it's easy to lose yourself in the suspenseful, hypnotic qualities of it all; it is that complex and mesmerizing aura that I have come to love about each and every one of their releases thus far. 'Fantasy Machine' is invigorating and exciting in abundance, and exudes an almost otherworldy beauty which sets it apart from anything else I've ever heard.

You can listen to 'Fantasy Machine' below:

Saturday, 4 March 2017

An Interview With EDGAR DUKE ~ 21.02.17

2016 was quite the successful year for Tom O'Reilly, James Raymond and Luke Strange aka the brilliant Edgar Duke; the band, known and loved for their infectious and anthemic blend of indie-pop, released two singles to high acclaim- the delightfully raucous 'Fear In A Bottle', and the scintillatingly smooth 'Copper Coin'. A string of live performances in and around leeds, playing for the likes of Double Denim Live and This Feeling, saw them gaining a strong word-of-mouth reputation for their energetic live performances. Starting 2017 as they mean to go on with a huge headline show at The Wardrobe back in January, things are only set to get bigger for this Leeds based trio. I was able to find out more about them prior to their most recent headline gig at Oporto in Leeds...

How did you all meet and first come together as a band?
Tom: I was playing on my own, back in my lonesome days. I played a gig... James wasn't headlining it, but he was on after me in his old band. I needed a drummer, James wanted to drum... we wanted to play some music together, so we played some music together! He then said he knew a bass player, so we got Luke in... and then the rest is just sweet, sweet musical history. I was gigging on my own for quite a few months before I met them. I played with a backing track... it sounded awful!

What made you settle on Edgar Duke as the band name?
Tom: It's a terrible name really! There's no real reason behind it, there's no cool story. I was walking through the wilderness and stumbled across this little talisman that said Edgar Duke on it. Duke came from the Thin White Duke which is a persona of David Bowie. King Krule goes by the name of Edgar the Beatmaker. I just thought the two words sounded cool together. Plus, it worked as a solo name and as a band name.
James: Just in case he decides to go back to being solo...
Tom: No! I chose it when I was a solo artist and I knew I wanted a band at some point. I didn't want to have to rebrand everything!
Luke: I remember when I first met Tom, he actually introduced himself as Edgar Duke!
Tom: I used to do that, yeah! Edgar Duke... musician extraordinaire!

What are your earliest memories of music?
Tom: I lived really close to Leeds Fest growing up, I was about 5 minutes away. I always used to get really cheap tickets. I've been about 6 times so have seen a lot of bands. That's the main place I saw most of my music.
Luke: I remember just always having an interest in music.
James: My parents have got a pretty good music taste and introduced me to stuff like The Clash, Bob Marley... just your standard stuff, but it definitely helped me build up a pretty good taste for music.
Tom: So he thinks...

Was there ever a pivotal moment or event in your lives that made you say "I want to make music and be in a band,"?
Tom: I'm a big fan of The Cribs and have seen them live many times... they're one of the best live bands ever, so seeing them made me think that I wanted to do it too. And here we are!
Luke: This is Tom trying to get us a support slot at the Leeds Arena gig...

What are you all listening to at the moment and would recommend?
Tom: For me, Hidden Charms. I've seen them three times now, and we supported them the first time we saw them which was amazing. I went to see them with my girlfriend in Liverpool recently and they were awesome there. Lovely guys as well. I think they deserve to get big. I don't like the whole Catfish & the Bottlemen thing.
James: It's all really overdone.
Luke: I disagree with you a little bit!
Tom: I know a lot of people do like them, but the whole pop side to guitar bands at the moment... everybody just thinks that everyone should be liking the same things. Do something different! They're different in some ways but I don't think they're going to move mountains. I'm not a big fan of Blossoms either. That's enough about what we don't like though, lets talk about what we do like!
James: It's been around for a while but the 'This Is Happening' album by LCD Soundsystem... I'd definitely recommend that to everyone.
Tom: I like Growlers and Queens of the Stone Age.

Is there a primary songwriter or is it more of a collaborative effort?
James: Originally it was more Tom but then that has progressed.
Tom: I'll bring the bones of the song to practise and then we'll work on it together and build it. At the start it was just me because obviously I was on my own.
James: You can tell that the sound has changed quite a lot.
Luke: Tom writes the lyrics.
Tom: Yeah, the lyrics and the bones of the song. I can be a dictator at times, but I'm a lovely dictator! Loved by the people!
James: That's what he thinks! We'll rebel against him one day and kick him out.
Tom: They can try.

What would be your dream venue to headline?
Tom: Madison Square Garden would be cool. The Brudenell is one that I'd love to headline. We played there recently and it's just got a great sound. I'd say it's the best venue in Leeds.
Luke: It won 'Small Venue of the Year' last year.
Tom: There we go! Growing up that's always been one I wanted to play. It's not a venue, but we are going to headline Glastonbury one day!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing up and coming bands within the industry in this day and age?
James: I think how saturated the music scene is. There are so many bands doing the same thing. It's so hard. If you want to get yourselves out there, a lot of the time you've got to pay to get the promotion.
Tom: People are less likely to come to gigs now because of the way the music scene is. The amount of effort that bands put in just for one gig... and then not many people come. The main thing is how hard it is because guitar bands aren't in the forefront of the music industry at the moment.
James: With selling music as well. I think in the past people had to buy physical copies of songs but now you can just listen to them on Spotify for free. That causes problems.
Luke: Also gigs can be so expensive and they don't need to be, really.
Tom: A lot of promoters will make you play and bring your crowd and use it to benefit them. So you don't get paid, but the promoter does even though you've done a lot of good work. That fucks over a lot of bands a lot of the times, which is a shame. The hardest thing is building a fanbase in the current climate of the music industry.
James: To do that you need to leave your hometown at a certain point or you'll just get known as 'that Leeds band' or something like that.
Tom: Plus, one of the worst things is everyone just liking one band because everybody else likes them even if they're not innovative or different in any way. It's all subjective in the music industry.

What is something that you want to do or achieve before you die? A bucket list of sorts...
Luke: I know it's cliche, but it's gotta be to travel the world.
James: To own a skyscraper and have a zoo on top of it. We'd have parties everyday and it'd be free for everyone.
Tom: To have an orgy with Bob Dylan involved. That's the dream.

Given the choice, would you rather be a pokemon trainer or a wizard?
Luke: Wizard.
Tom: Wizard. Pokemon isn't real. Come to one of our gigs and you'll find out that magic is real!

Tell me something about Edgar Duke that no one else knows...
James: That we are the best band!
Tom: We have a fourth member who is invisible. Darren. He's here now, just over there. He does some questionable things, especially on stage. What else do people not know about us? We put a lot of time and effort into our music... and I just want people to appreciate that!
Luke: James and Tom steal the band money. That's why I look after it now.
James: You shouldn't have put that one out there!
Tom: But to all the promoters out there... we are to be trusted! All of the secrets will probably have to remain secrets.
James: Yeah, they're all a bit dangerous.
Tom: Yeah, the parents might see it.
Luke: You don't want to say anything because of your parents but you said you'd have an orgy with Bob Dylan?
Tom: Yeah, well they can know that!

Finally, what's next for you guys?
James: The next big thing is on the 24th of March at Brudenell Social Club. We're supporting The Bulletproof Bomb, so get yourselves down. We're going to be working with the Leeds Beckett Uni team who are going to be filming it and making a small documentary about us.
Tom: Not that there's much for them to see. Or is there?
James: The secrets will come out!
Tom: Luke is a crack addict, there's one secret!
James: And his hands are broken.
Tom: He has no hands.
Luke: I play bass with fake hands. That's the secret.
James: The invisible guy helps a bit.
Tom: Damn it, Darren!
Luke: He does the backing vocals as well. That's why you never see more than one mic.
Tom: He tried to take over main vocals once, the bastard. I hate that guy.

Listen to 'Copper Coin' below:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Live Review: EDGAR DUKE/ RAMONA ROSE/ THE POTENZAS @ Oporto, Leeds ~ 21.02.17

There's nothing better to act as a little midweek pick-me-up than a really great gig, and this particular one was special in that it was a charity event- so not only were those attending able to enjoy a night full of homegrown musical talent, they were also doing their bit to help Save The Children, a fantastic organisation based in the UK aiming to assist children in times of crisis. Musically the three bands on the line up were incredibly different and brought together a wide variety of genres, which definitely spiced things up and helped to make it a night like no other.

The Potenzas opened proceedings with their impressive, quintissentially British rock and roll styling; their well executed and intrepid instrumentation, coupled with plenty of swagger and on-stage chemistry made for a truly striking and memorable performance. Their set was dynamic from the word go, and was defined by ludic guitar vivacity and unwaveringly stalwart vocal prowess.

The Potenzas
This was my second time seeing Ramona Rose in a matter of weeks and as always, leading lady Sam and her incredible band delivered a note-perfect set full of charming and euphonious Americana-rock anthems, delivered with her usual bluesy tinted edge and impressively transcendant vocals. There's an endearingly authentic element of relatability within her lyrics, with Ramona declaring that her songs are almost always either 'About a boy or about a girl that I hate.' One thing is for certain; Ramona Rose definitely know how to turn every live performance into an extravagant show, and with each and every track packing some serious punch, they truly are one of the most exciting acts emerging from Leeds at the moment.

Ramona Rose
A high-powered frenzy of deliciously upbeat musical eccentricty from the word go, Edgar Duke are undoubtedly one of the most flamboyant bands I have ever seen and I honestly don't think I could ever tire of seeing them live; their music exudes a playful vibrancy, complete with trenchant guitar hooks and playfully melodious vocals. What I love about them is that they don't take themselves too seriously, and their charismatic blend of fervent indie-pop is toe-tappingly brilliant. With their awesome talent for intelligent songcraft and the exhuberant live show for which they have become renowned for, 2017 is set to be an exciting year for them.

Edgar Duke
One thing I must point out is that Oporto is a venue that can always be relied upon for impressive sound and lighting at gigs, as well as an all around relaxing and fun atmosphere. Live music always encourages a real sense of equality and togetherness, and the fact that all three acts on tonights' bill were Leeds based only amplified the warm reception to their performaces.