Category: Feature

New Music Friday: Kenneth J. Nash

East Northamptonshire musician Kenneth J Nash has been a crucial cog on the scene this past decade, consistently putting out top notch albums, running festivals and recording bands. His New…

East Northamptonshire musician Kenneth J Nash has been a crucial cog on the scene this past decade, consistently putting out top notch albums, running festivals and recording bands. His New Boots interview time has been long overdue, so the release of his new EP ‘The Explorer’ gave us the excuse to get more solid nuggets on his journey so far.

You’ve been making music for a while now; solo since 2010 but before that too. For anyone uninitiated in the way of the Nash, is there a potted history you can give?
My first band was in 1984-6 where I played rhythm guitar. We were still at school and our first proper gig was at the end of term in front of the whole school. We had around a ten minute set of originals penned by our frontman Dominic and the rest were Bob Dylan covers. We didn’t really have a band name as I recall. From there I joined numerous bands, all with little success, but found success as a DJ. I’d grown up with the emergence of early hip-hop and loved cutting and scratching on my hand-me-down 1970s double disco decks (no speed control – just slipmats). My DJ sets were mainly hip-hop, with a bit of soul and reggae thrown in. Spending most weekends DJing and working daytimes meant that I had no spare time for bands. However I kept playing guitar and began to become interested in singer-songwriters. Over the next two decades during periods where I was taking a break from DJing I joined various rock, punk and metal bands as a guitarist or bassist, but it wasn’t till 2010 that I started writing songs for myself to sing. I wrote a song called ‘Tattoos Over Scars’ and added a YouTube video of a picture I’d drawn accompanied by a badly recorded version of the song. It got quite a few views and some great comments so it drove me to become a singer-songwriter.

I’d always used poetry as a means of expressing my feelings but had kept the poems to myself. I realised that poetry and songs are kind of the same thing, and began writing a series of songs that proved cathartic and helped me deal with the issues that spending a life ‘on the road’ had given me. Around this time I was asked to join a band as the lead singer and second guitarist; this was called The Ghost Chorus and featured Rob Reeves, Scott Warner and Cliff Lambert. We fashioned our sound on Nick Cave meets The National, and our first gig was supporting Blacklight Pioneer to a large audience. Unfortunately as these things go we only got to record a couple of tracks before we disbanded. I then made the decision to pursue a solo career.

Who are your main influences in 2019? Musically/non-musically…
I listen to a lot of music. My current favourites include Gregory Alan Isokov and Glen Hansard. Outside of music I would say that I’m influenced by nature and love.

What was the reaction like to your last full-release album Luna? Were you satisfied with the finished work?
It got a good reaction, with some lovely reviews, and the stream numbers now mark it out as my most listened to work. It was a long time in the making though: including being signed to a label, recording it twice for them and then them folding. Meaning the version I released was self recorded and produced. I listen back now and I feel happy with it, as it was a snapshot of the band and I at that time. It was recorded live, so has the feel I wanted. It is the soundtrack to an as yet unmade movie. I had plans to shoot a movie, but they’re still plans at this time. I am satisfied with it as an album, there is some excellent musicianship by my band which includes J M Jones on guitar, Max Mclean (of Miyagi Car Wash) on drums, Jamie Gilbert on bass, Alan Tang on keys and of course Fran Taylor providing beautiful backing vocals.

Tell us everything about this new EP, ‘The Explorer’.
Over the last few years I’ve been working with Musicians Against Homelessness [MAH], having being through some pretty bleak periods of my life. I have been homeless and suffered mental health issues. I wrote the song ‘The Explorer’ about this period, and hope that it can convey the message for those that suffer in silence. I approached MAH who are helping me to promote the release of the EP. There’s been two remixes of the title track so far: Max Mclean has put his Miyagi Car Wash touches on one, and Rob G Nichols has produced an electronica version. I’ve also included an acoustic version, and ‘Around Again’ with just myself and Veronika Rauchfussova, who is a Czech Republic classical violinist. She’s staying with a friend of mine and he introduced us. She is an incredible musician, and unusually for a classically trained musician she enjoys the free flow of playing without sheet music. Which is a bonus as I’m not very good at theory! I’ve also included a live recording of a song of mine, which is called ‘She’s The One That Saved Me’. This was recorded in a log cabin in Wales and is a song about my wife, who saved me from being homeless.

What can we expect from the next album?
I’ve got a couple of album projects on the go. I’m putting together an album of my most listened to tracks from the last ten years, but redone with my band as we are now. This will have the feel of the Miyagi Car Wash remix of ‘The Explorer’, as it’ll be produced by Max Mclean. Then the second album is all new[ish] songs, which will include the songs on ‘The Explorer’ EP, plus some other new ones – and two or three songs from the limited issue album ‘Room 7’ that I released to my core fans last year. This album will be very sparse, whilst hopefully being intimate and totally acoustic and live. I love Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and this has been an influence, as well as Damien Rice’s back catalogue.

You run the “Old Hotel” record label and studio. Tell us how you operate and why you do it.
When I started releasing my own material I had some label interest, but after reading the small print I was shocked about what I was going to have to give away in order to be signed. I declined this, and further record label interest, as I felt I could do a reasonable job myself. I saw some of my contemporaries caught out by these labels and decided that there was a gap for an honest decent label. Old Hotel Records was born to take care of the artists and bands I knew. I would offer a low cost recording service specialising in live recordings, and coaching on performance and songwriting, then use my network in order to gain the artist recognition. It still operates in the same way to this day. I don’t pretend that I can give artists the rock star lifestyle, but I will help them release their songs and keep all the rights and royalties for themselves. I offer my artists festival slots, radio airplay and contacts to take them further than I can. We have a pretty eclectic roster, but all of them are excellent.

You are very much part of a music scene here in Northamptonshire. Any favourite acts, venues, or festivals you want to give a shout out to?
As a supporter of original music I would like to give a shout out to all original music creators, promoters, bloggers, journalists, radio DJs, venues and festivals. The live scene has been taken over in the towns by covers bands and tribute acts. It’s tough to keep going if you feel your work isn’t valued. But keep on keepin’ on. Art is art whether the public pay to see it or not.

What has been your favourite KJN musical moment of the past 12 months?
My favourite musical moment has been hearing the audiences singing along with my songs. It always gives me a buzz, and I’ve been noticing it happening more and more, especially during the last year.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Gregory Alan Isokov – This Empty Northern Hemisphere. I’m a fairly recent fan, but love this 2009 album.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have in the next few months?
My burning desire is to get both planned albums recorded and released within the next twelve months… I’m not sure if this is achievable! In the next few months I’m on the road playing festivals all over the country. I’d like to also get some demo’s recorded of some new songs that I’ve recently written. Plus I’m exploring some collaborations with other artists and producers.

The Explorer is out now

 

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New Music Friday: Ellision

Rushden chillwave man Henry Dymott aka Ellision has been building a name of himself over the past year, including roping in fellow NN stars Nailbreaker and Mio Flux to remix…

Rushden chillwave man Henry Dymott aka Ellision has been building a name of himself over the past year, including roping in fellow NN stars Nailbreaker and Mio Flux to remix recent single ‘No Smoking’. New Boots loves a fresh sound, so had to dig a little deeper. Cue this interview…

How did you start this project?
I would say that Ellision has had two different beginnings. Near the end of 2016 I had just started to get into more production, when I started collaborating with experimental guitarist and producer Curtis Jeffs on a track. Couple tracks later we released The Etherial EP under the name Ellision. When I moved away to uni in Guildford and started getting DJ slots at clubs and venues I started using Ellision as a stage name, and it just kind of stuck. Ellision became a solo project just after that first initial release, and since then I think I’ve found my sound and image. I’m a finger-drumming singer and producer. When I press buttons and it’s all live triggered in the moment – no playback – I like the reaction it gets. A lot could go wrong but that’s part of the fun of it.
I’ve released three singles so far: ‘No Smoking’, ‘The Hard Way’ and ‘Wreck Me’, with a lot of stuff crammed in-between. A beat tape, a few collaborations, live shows and a visual project. I’m planning on focusing solely on releasing music this year, and hopefully bringing out a project by the end of the year.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences do you feel?
Genre flippant? A mix of chillwave, hip-hop, pop and lo-fi elements. My sound changes depending on who or what I’m working with , but it always has a particular vibe to it. My main influences at the moment are probably FKJ, Justin Vernon, Flume and Jeremy Zucker.

Tel us about new single ‘No Smoking’?
The name of the track comes from the “Coffee” sample at the start of the track. I sampled it from the 1980 movie Airplane! There’s a scene in the film where Ted Striker asks for a ticket, “Smoking or Non-Smoking”, “Smoking”. The track is about two people just starting to connect on an intimate level. It’s a “not quite in love yet” song, but who knows we might end up there.
I met AyiTe at a show where he was performing as part of Soul Purpose with O J. Hodding, and I ended up DJing for their set. I thought he was sick, so we met up for a session and worked on a track called ‘The Hard Way’ [my previous release], and I played him this track that I had recorded with Molly Nicholson and he said something along the lines of “Let me write something on this”. That’s how ‘No Smoking’ was made.

You’ve got four people remixing it, how did you choose them?
I had to get my partner in crime LUPUS on it. We’ve been doing music bits together for a while, playing festivals and shows together all around the place. We even made it out to Barcelona playing music. His ‘Autopilot Disengaged Remix’ is H U G E. Nailbreaker and Mio Flux, another two Northamptonshire-related artists, came up with two completely different remixes for the release. Nailbreaker’s remix is a heavy, glitchy track which fits the “plane crash” concept I decided on for this release. Mio’s track is a darker sounding remix; we’ve been looking for an excuse to collaborate for a while now. Dan J. Wilcox decided to just flip the script and make a spacey future bass track, having fun with AyiTe’s flow and Molly’s vocal. It was sick to have these guys work on this release, and I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions!

Have you played live with the current sound? Any plans to?
Yeah, I’ve had quite a lot of shows, especially last year. My Live setup is always changing but always centres around my MIDI Fighter 64 or 3D and Ableton Live. I like to have a lot of guests come up during my live sets, feature rappers, singers and even producers sometimes. I try to have a continuous stream of music throughout a set, I think that’s the DJ in me, I don’t like talking while I play I just want to play music and have a blend from track to track.
I recently played at an underground show in London at an event called Tasteneon where they live stream the whole thing in VHS somehow? Was definitely my favourite show I’ve played in a while cause the vibe was so high and the place was packed out!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire? Any acts you wanna give a shout out to?
I’m fresh back to the Northampton scene after being away for a bit, but I’m ready to get some live sets booked and work with more artists around here. Shout outs to Krankhead [Mio Flux and Patchy The Rockstar] and Nailbreaker.

What has been your favourite Ellision moment of the past year?
Probably shooting the series of videos leading up to ‘The Hard Way’ release, particularly the shoot I had to sort at a butchers. Was a good time and the result looked sick and finished the story off as intended. Also the fact ‘No Smoking’ got a spin on BBC Radio 1xtra was a highlight for me!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Last album I streamed was Hi This Is Flume by Flume. But the last album I actually bought was a copy of Uh-Oh! by Tennyson, from their show in Hoxton.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’m planning my next single release for this year. Hoping to get some more shows in and try get a video made for ‘No Smoking’. If anyone has a plane, hit me up!

No Smoking [The Remixes] is out now on the usual digital and streaming platforms. Watch the original version on YouTube below

 

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New Music Friday: Mutiny UK

Mutiny UK are a five-piece groove metal band from Northamptonshire, featuring former members of Torch, The Witness and Full Contact. New Boots spoke to guitarist Kieran Murphy about their brutal…

Mutiny UK are a five-piece groove metal band from Northamptonshire, featuring former members of Torch, The Witness and Full Contact. New Boots spoke to guitarist Kieran Murphy about their brutal new single ‘Warfare’ and much more besides.

Who is in the band, where are you based?
We’ve got Niall Billingsley on vocals, he’s based in Daventry, Jamie Hitchcock on bass, Joe Linnell on drums [both from Moulton], then myself Kieran Murphy and Ben Swingler on guitars, and we’re based in Kettering! 

How did you guys get together?
Ben, Jamie and Joe used to be in a band together a couple of years ago, they started jamming around this time last year for this project, which turned into Mutiny. Soon after they got in touch with Niall to do vocals, and I joined on guitar last August. 
 
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
We try to combine as many influences as possible within our music, both to keep ourselves invigorated and listeners likewise. Predominantly we provide a groove metal sound, with elements of old school death metal and new wave metalcore. Influences range from bands such as Meshuggah, Architects, After The Burial, Sylosis, Carcass, At The Gates…I could sit here all day giving you bands, haha! 
 
Tell us everything about this single, ‘Warfare’.
‘Warfare’ was the first full song that I wrote for the band; it started with the intro riff at a practice. We played it live for a few shows and eventually changed certain sections, until we were finally happy with the finished product. At this point we headed up to Dundee, Scotland in February to record with Kieran Smith [drummer of To Kill Achilles]. He did a smashing job producing us, and we’re chuffed with the final outcome.
 
What are your live shows like?
Without sounding like your generic metal band, we just try to keep it as energetic as possible and keep the crowd entertained and involved, whilst having a laugh at the same time. That’s what it’s all about really. We aren’t some super elitist band that’s angry at the world and everyone in it; we’re all pretty chilled out/laid back. 
 
Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
We recently played at The Roadmender in Northampton. In terms of local venues that’s a place we’ve all been going to since we were kids, so it was cool to finally play a show there. In terms of local metal bands Krysthla are smashing it, likewise with From Eden To Exile. Would definitely recommend checking them both out! 
 
What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Collectively, it was probably recording ‘Warfare’ up in Dundee. It was great listening back to the final product after we’d spent months working away at it. 
 
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Kieran: I’ve recently pre-ordered Ride’s This Is Not A Safe Place on vinyl.
Ben: The Maccabees Colour It In
Niall: JID The Never Story
Jamie and Joe: Architects Holy Hell
 
What are your burning desires for the band to do? What plans do you have?
We’re about two or three songs away from finishing writing for our debut album. The plan up until then is to continue playing shows. We’re hoping for a release early-mid 2020, but we’ll have more information to come on that soon.
 
Warfare is out now via the usual digital platforms
 

 

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New Music Friday: Stereo Skull

Stereo Skull, the four-piece prog metal band from Wellingborough [via Latvia], have concocted something special with new single ‘Play God’, not to mention the accompanying video. Inspired by the likes…

Stereo Skull, the four-piece prog metal band from Wellingborough [via Latvia], have concocted something special with new single ‘Play God’, not to mention the accompanying video. Inspired by the likes of Fear Factory, Lamb Of God, Coal Chamber, Mudvayne, and American Head Charge, the band consists of Arthur Sambars [vocals, guitars, programming], Aivars Sambars [guitars, programming], Carlos Fandango [vocals] and Mat Williams [bass]. New Boots had to find out more, so spoke to Arthur. 

How  did you guys get together?
The founding members, myself and Aivars my brother, have been into music since childhood. We arrived in the UK in early 2009 and four years later met Ethan [ex Decadent, Still Remains UK, Motorpace, Black Rose Society]. Another two years later we met Carlos who took some time off vocal duties after departure from Black Ink Sun, then another year passed and we met Mat who just left disbanded Black Ink Sun. The drummer left last summer and after an active search, we’re still auditioning people. Our love for heavy music, being in front of the audience, getting better and bigger are the main reasons for what we do. 

How would you describe your sound? 
The musical background for each band member is different. Everyone adds something to it. The end result is the mixture of industrial, death, and progressive metal.

What was the reaction like from the public to the ‘Madness’ EP from last year? 
Our friends and followers were excited and supportive. We streamed a live Facebook video from the studio the day we released it, and it had whoppi ng thousand views during the stream. Everyone could watch us at home from their mobile devices anywhere around the globe. The EP is entirely self released, it’s available on all streaming platforms, but we’re putting together the physical copy as well, it’s going to be a nice surprise for our fans. Can’t reveal too much at the moment. 

Tell us everything about this new release, ‘Play God’.
There was this track sitting on the shelf for around ten years, and we decided to polish it up. Carlos added the lyrics and with help of our former drummer we improved the track dramatically. It’s a nice blend of black, thrash, Nu, prog and cyber, with orchestral elements – and with a triple layered death metal vocals! We wrote and recorded at our home studio [currently branded ‘Salamander Media Works’].  

The video is incredible. Tell us about it 
The story goes on. Just when we got to the end of composing of the song, there’s this lady, Scarlet Phoenix, from Leicester asking for help from the bands with her uni Art and Performance project. We respond straight away and she gives us the raw video material she and her model friends Gabriela Sindel and Edgars Karklins filmed in Nottingham, if I remember correctly. Our job was just to add the band footage, but eventually we took over the whole production thing. Mat our bassist is a talented guy in making professional-looking videos. He worked mainly on lyric videos in the past, but with my, pre-production and editing skills we managed to produce a decent music video ourselves. The band shoot has been done at my place; you’ll see how it came about in our upcoming Making Of video. 

You work hard travelling and playing shows. Is that Stereo Skull’s best strength, the live show? 
It definitely is. Carlos is amazing frontman. We don’t stand out too much image-wise: we don’t have our own uniform, the only thing we wear is our passion for music on stage. There are some elements we use that help us to stand out among other bands though, and it’s the sampled synths and live video projections if the venue is big enough. We used to have a live VJ in the past, but now with the help of technology it’s all synced up with our performance. The next step is… nah, I’m not gonna reveal it for now. It’s a work in progress, don’t wanna jinx it. Also we happened to have our own meme in the band which was our drummer, his baseball bat incident particularly. Definitely gathered more people around the Skulls, and kinda changed us a little. We continue revealing our funny side, and life on the local scene in our gig report videos. Everybody loves stupid shit. And it’s fine. 

You are part of the music scene in Northamptonshire. Any favourites you want give a shout out to? 
Big shout out to Andy Green from Blackbush Promotions, we had a great time sharing the stage with the Still Remains UK some years back. Our first out of town experiences were a lot of fun thanks to him. He manages the live gigs in the King Billy: needless to say it became our second home. HOPevents, Lost Island Bookings, Attic Promotions and Castle Mountain Promotions gave us great platform locally. Roadmender, Athletic Club, Zombie Hut, Black Prince, Prince Of Wales, Castle Theatre, Picturedrome, Horseshoe, Raff’s etc, we love them all. 
Favorite local bands are Krysthla, From Eden To Exile, Haema, Siderian, ReaperX, Mutiny UK, Ashborn, Fleisch, Fueled Hate, Primal Holocaust, Darkhorse to mention a few. 

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year? 
The video shoot, and getting back on stage after a long break without a drummer and still cracking it. One proud moment we had just this week; we managed to put our very first tour together by ourselves. It’s been a very busy and exciting year so far.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have? 
For now to finish off the special edition of the EP, and cracking on to the debut album. The concept, album artwork and tracks are pretty much ready, we just have to record it – and probably even sign with some label. We’re going on a UK tour with German/Latvian band Māra as a main support at the end of June; that should be a lot of fun. We will try to get to some bigger stages next year. Will definitely try our luck in Metal 2 The Masses again.

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New Music Friday: Amii Dawes

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New…

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New Boots had to take five with her. Kettle on then…

How did you start on this path? You’ve been writing songs since 12, is that right?
Yes, I started at age 12. I found it really difficult when my Grandad passed away and writing poetry and short stories was the only way that I could deal with stuff. My Grandad was obsessed with those home shopping channels and he once bought a Yamaha keyboard, and he would sit me down and try to teach me Beatles songs on it. He left the keyboard to me when he passed away, and I wrote my first ever song called ‘Here With Me’. I still use that keyboard to this day.

You’ve been in bands too, could you tell us a bit about that part of your history?
I joined my first band called Light Factory when I was about 16/17, I wrote most of the songs and we had a much more fun/pop vibe than the stuff I make now. Then I was in OhBoy! and we made mostly noisy pop stuff. We got to do some really cool things in that band; we played Maida Vale and got to perform at some amazing festivals like 2,000 Trees.

How would you describe your sound?
I really don’t know how to describe my current sound if I’m honest. I think I’ve always wanted to write in different genres, but got nervous so in the past I tended to stick to the more comfortable acoustic folksy kind of vibe. Now I feel like I’ve found my style a little bit more, so I’m experimenting with different styles and taking inspiration from the music I listen to, which is literally a bit of everything. My main influence has always been Joni Mitchell, I happen to think she’s the greatest songwriter of all time and has done everything from acoustic folk to jazz to soft rock and beyond, I think she’s incredible. I’m also a massive Beatles fan. And Annie Lennox. And Simon & Garfunkel. And pretty much anyone that has ever written a song that I’ve listened to.

You put an album out in 2015. How was that experience? How it been easy to follow it up with writing and recording new material?
Recording and releasing Little Blue Book was such a great experience. Before that I had recorded one EP which I mainly used to just sell hard copies of at gigs and things. To have a collection of songs that I’d put my heart and soul into out there in the open for everyone to listen to if they wanted was a lovely feeling. I took a little hiatus from recording but was still very active musically with bands, writing and gigs. I did a tour of Europe in 2017 and when I returned from that I knew that the next thing I recorded had to top anything I’ve done before, so I definitely didn’t want to rush into anything just for the sake of it.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘Filthy’.
The new single ‘Filthy’ is, I think, one of the best songs I’ve written to date. As a kid I was always a little bit strange and little bit of a geek. I used to think that that was a bad thing, but in the last couple of years have really come to terms with the fact that it’s what makes me who I am, and I’m now really proud of it. The song is basically about celebrating everything that makes us different, and that if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.
The song was recorded at The Animal Farm, which is an independent record label based in London that I’ve been working with for about a year now. I sent them a demo of the song and they really liked it, so they took me under their wing and helped me to turn it into what it is now. I sing all the vocals on the song and play guitar, and the Leppanen brothers from The Animal Farm play bass, drums and electric guitar.

There’s a nice video to accompany it.
I’m so proud of the music video. The idea of the song is celebrating people for their differences and the video shows that too. I wanted a really simple idea for the video, just a bunch of people stood in front of a camera showing their natural reactions to every day things. It really shows off the people at their best, with no fancy lighting or camera trickery, just them being themselves. I also got to direct the video which was great fun and it was shot and edited by my very talented friend James Ryan.

Any Northamptonshire acts or people you wanna give a shout out to?
I play in Northampton all the time, I think our music scene is one of the best in the country but also one of the most underrated. There are so many people that I love here, but one of my favourites has to be Velvet Engine. We go back a few years now and I think she’s just fab! I also love working with anyone that is associated with the Umbrella Fair Organisation, I think they do great things not only for the music scene but for the community as a whole.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I pre-ordered Lewis Capaldi’s debut album just this morning, he’s got one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time. Also Dermot Kennedy; I went to see him live the other day and he blew my mind.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I have a few more singles and videos coming out throughout this year which I really can’t wait for people to hear. I really do think that it’s my best work yet. I think things are heading in the right direction for me at the moment, so I just want to keep making the best music I can make, working with people that I admire and hopefully just keep on doing what I love to do.

 

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New Music Friday: Empyre

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little…

Empyre are a Northants grunge/hard-rock band. Henrik Steenholdt  on vocals and guitar, Did Coles on lead guitar, Grant Hockley on bass, and Elliot Bale on drums. New single ‘Too Little Too Late’ has just come out the traps, and it’s enough of a beast for New Boots to go searching for more info.

How did you guys get together?
Did: Empyre really got started in 2016. Henrik and I were gigging in a busy covers band, and that naturally evolved into writing our own music. The original band relied on friends, who were for the most part session musicians. We realised we needed a dedicated line-up to move the band forward, and set off on the hunt for the right drummer and bassist. During that time we focused on the acoustic side of Empyre. Some of that acoustic duo activity you can find on our YouTube channel. We persevered with that hunt for some time, and have now solidified the four-piece format with Grant on bass and Elliot on drums, both of whom are also Northants based.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Henrik: Our music has been described as “atmospheric rock”, “contemporary rock”, “atheist rock”, “hard rock” and “the love child between Pink Floyd and Soundgarden”. We fuse the roots of rock’s tradition alongside some dark, introspective songwriting, but don’t expect dreary and depressing….expect intense, sometimes raw, sometimes anthemic rock. Exactly what the name of that music is we’re not sure anyone agrees on.
Did: We would site influences ranging from Seattle-era grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to rock heavyweights like the Foos, Guns’n’Roses and Audioslave. But each musician brings their own personal influences to the table, which shapes the band sound. For example Elliot loves Twenty One Pilots, Henrik is a huge fan of George Michael, Alter Bridge and Abba, Did loves modern country, instrumental rock and Taylor Swift, and Grant loves Tool, King’s X, and Faith No More. Varied, I think! As well as music we are influenced by the world around us. The forthcoming album has songs inspired by philosophical comedians like Bill Hicks, a HBO series protagonist from True Detective [Rust Cohle], atheism, existentialism and relationships. All fun and games.

What was the reaction like to those first couple of singles that predated the new one?
We released two taster EPs in the band’s early development, alongside the release of a few acoustic music videos. We had a good enough reaction from that to start building a fan base and attract management. This helped in connecting us with the wider rock scene in the UK, and we started gigging more consistently.

Tell us everything about this new release, ‘Too Little Too Late’.
This single is the first release from our debut album Self Aware, which comes out on July 5th. The song was inspired by the breakdown of a relationship, so might strike a chord with anyone who has any angst towards their exes! The theme goes along the lines of an exploration of an obsessive and toxic relationship preceding, during and after its collapse. Initially your pride is damaged and your emotions feel like they have been severely tainted. Ultimately, you turn your resentment into detachment, realising you have come out better off than the other person involved.

The single also has a music video that we filmed last year [see below]. It conveys the lyrics, with two actresses portraying the difficult relationship. It’s gritty, a bit raunchy even, and Facebook just banned us from advertising it. Spoilsports.

What are your live shows like?
Henrik: My favourite description of our live show was when someone came up to me wide-eyed after a gig, and said “Woah, that was intense”. That, for me, was a great compliment. It’s certainly intensity that I try to put into my performance, especially vocally. We aim for a big sound, and that doesn’t mean deafening. We want the audience to hear the nuances in the music, and the vocals, even when we’re blasting out the heavier tracks.
Grant: This really depends on venue, audience, gig and us. Empyre are equally at home blasting out the heavier tracks as we are sitting down playing softer, acoustic arrangements, sometimes with piano. The best way to answer the question is to come see us!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues?
Did: Northants has a thriving music scene, and we are regulars at The King Billy and The Craufurd Arms down the road in Wolverton. Plus we have a decent support base in Brackley, where we gig a couple of times a year.
Henrik: We can’t say that we are embedded in the scene here though. We’d love to establish ourselves more within our home county, and we’d welcome all the support Northampton wants to give us. Hopefully there are plenty more potential fans of our music in the county yet to discover us. That’s why it’s great to do interviews like this, and play at events such as Northampton Music Festival, because hopefully it will allow a wider audience to embrace our music. As much as we love playing The King Billy and always have a great time we’d really like to play all over the county.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Henrik: Tough to choose, but probably playing an acoustic set in an Arctic-themed amphitheatre with a pool, in an abandoned zoo in Ibiza, to a few hundred people. Surreal, and fantastic.
Grant: It’s been an amazing year, so there has been a few! The feeling just before going onstage at some of the larger festivals or hearing a track being played on the radio for the first time is up there.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Did: Lethbridge Owen Mind over Matter released this month. Empyre joined this talented outfit on the Isle of Wight last year.
Grant: Full Nelson by Massive Wagons. They are on the same management as us [Rock People Management] and we have supported them a few times. The album charted in the UK at 16, it’s great to see them do so well! The last album I streamed was Lykaia by Swedish prog rock band Soen. I love this record and have listened to it daily for the last few weeks.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Henrik: Imminent plans include the inaugural tour to support the singles and album releases. On the RPM Takeover Tour we’re joined by Ryders Creed and The Rocket Dolls. Then we play Northampton Music Festival on June 16th, catch us on the main stage in the Market Square. There are at least three more singles to be released over the next few months, and of course the album on 5th July. Plus we’re doing a special acoustic set at Arena Birmingham on June 28th before the Eagles play there that evening, which we’re really looking forward to.
In terms of burning desires, I want the band to play Download, Ramblin’ Man fair, and some of the equivalent European rock festivals.
Did: I’d love to go out with Empyre on a European tour at some point in the future.
Grant: My burning desire would be for Empyre to be established as one of the UK’s top rock bands.

Too Little Too Late is out now via the usual digital platforms. The album Self Aware appears on July 5th.

 

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New Music Friday: Kev Minney

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with…

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with the release of new single ‘God Is An Algorithm’ New Boots took the opportunity to get some more of the details of his personal and musical journey.

How did you become a singer-songwriter?
I became a singer-songwriter after turning 30. Before this time I spent almost two decades around the Northampton jam scene. I think I always was searching to do something deeply creative, but never had the confidence, or never knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I moved to Brighton around seven years ago. I think I needed the change of scenery, and that change helped me discover that I wanted to play folk music, rather than rock/blues/jazz stuff. I was always in and out of various different bands, but in the back of my mind I was seeking what I wanted to do. It kind of was perfect timing to have this change; a lot of other things changed for me around that time. If I would have stayed in Northampton I would have made this change eventually, even though being in Brighton did help, it was the more the case that I needed to find a new love for music. I was always listening to artist like Nick Drake and co, but was never playing that stuff.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in getting to here?
I like the fact that I sing with my Northampton voice. A lot of folks down here in Brighton think I’m from a small farm or something, because of my accent isn’t as clean as it is down here. I play around with a lot of odd guitar tunings, and like to find various inverted chords. The piece I’m writing needs to interest me first and foremost. I get easily bored, so it has to have something unusual about it. I obviously hope that my sound is interesting to the listener, or at least I hope they can either be inspired or feel something from the song. A lot of influence probably comes from the guitar, though I find it more interesting when it comes from the song. With my songs I try my best to not hide anything and be open with them. The album I have listened to the most is Blue by Joni Mitchell, and for that very reason of being total open, raw and emotive.

Your album Stories Of The Sky from 2017 seemed to go down well. What was the reaction like?
Ah, it is so hard to say. From an artist point of view, you either look too much into it, or kick it under the carpet and try not to look. I was very pleased with it, I learned a million lessons, and I improved. I think this is what artists should always aim for; to always improve, and provide honest, decent songs. To be completely transparent the artist also needs a good level of drive too, as well as good songs. I worked incredibly hard to get it out there and heard, and just hoped that people enjoy it. I felt that Stories of the Sky was a time of establishing myself in the singer-songwriting world. I am happy with it and very happy with the reaction I received. I got played on BBC Radio, in Acoustic magazine, and knocked out a few European and UK tours. Though I am more happy with my forthcoming second album, but I think everyone says that!

Tell us about this new single, ‘God Is An Algorithm’.
First of all, the whole album [to be called Modern Stories] is all about stories of our modern time: technology, mental health or having good friends, it’s very broad. This single is about that algorithms making more and more decisions for us, therefore losing our free will. Book writer Yuval Noah Harari had just released his second book Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow. He was talking on a podcast and he mentioned the words ‘God is an algorithm’ – I thought, that’s a great song title, and listened further to the podcast. A week or so later, and after reading some of his book, I managed to write the song. I am really inspired by technology, astronomy, and general philosophy. I sometimes switch between these subjects and raw human emotions in my songs, or try to link the two.

What are your live shows like? Why should people come see you?
Sometimes it is just me, sometimes with Andy who plays keys, violins, mandocellos and other instruments. Sometimes it’s with Steph who plays keys and provides backing vocals. And for my next gig I have hired a string quartet! I much prefer playing with others when possible. I try my best to engage with the audience, and try my best to just be myself.

Best thing about moving to Brighton? Worst thing about leaving Northampton?
Leaving Northampton was really hard. I have a lot of good friends there, but it was a decision I had to make, as I was desperate for a change. I recently recorded a video with AudioStage in Northampton [for series 3], and was chatting to Marcus and co. They mentioned how the Northampton scene music is growing, which is amazing. We have always had so many great musicians and bands, and it is great to hear it is growing. When I moved to Brighton in 2011 it wasn’t purely for music reasons, it was more-so for needing a change, I was 29 when I left and it was the first time I left my hometown. Brighton has a great music scene: it’s lively, every night there is something happening, and I have managed to become friends with a lot of folks in the music scene here. I still keep in touch with people in Northampton, and they also support me a lot with my music. I am really appreciative of this.

What has been your favourite moment of the past 12 months, career-wise?
Quite a few! Recording the ten songs and making the music videos were all enjoyable. I have really enjoyed playing shows with Andy and Steph. We have been having a great time playing live, and this last year I have felt that I have much more confidence on stage. That’s a big thing, as it took me a while to get over nerves, which I still have, but I feel more at home. Those who know me know that I stutter a bit, and sometimes stuttering whilst talking live is a bit of a pain in the arse. But I’m used to it; sometimes I just can’t always get my message across clearly.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
As I writing this I am listening to an artist called The Miserable Rich – I’m loving their music [chamber pop]. Also the classics, I have been playing a lot of Beatles stuff recently. I kinda purposefully pick songs to sing along with, so I can improve my voice. Recently I have been trying to learn the cheesiest song ever written, ‘Unchained Melody’. It’s beautiful, but so hard to sing!

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Mostly to carry on what I am doing. I feel I have found a really nice balance of being creative and getting stuff done. I am already writing the third record, so that’s on the cards for sure. Steph and I are currently setting up a European tour, and then will do another UK tour. So, yes, write, record, tour, love it!

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New Music Friday: EGO

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the…

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the band are on a mission to get down and dirty with your rock’n’roll desires. Their new eponymously-titled EP, featuring lead single ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’, is a real treat, and New Boots went and got all the background titbits from Mr Grant.

How did you guys get together?
EGO was born from a love of heavier music and boredom. It was an inbetweeny moment of having some free time and throwing together some music which I really enjoyed. Originally it was me and Mark, but it had no future unfortunately, so I recruited some mates that just so happened to play the required instruments. Three mates playing in a band having a laugh, just like when we all aspire to start our first band with starry eyes.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Angry sexy shouty punky rock. Definitely if Jamie Lenman had a gangbang with Idles and Frank Carter.

What was the reaction like to your ‘Social Media SUX’ single last year? It seems the social media backlash is in full effect these days…
Yeah it was good; I think people were digging it as it was a bit different. BBC Introducing gave it some love, which we’re always appreciative of. Ah social media, we all love and hate you. It’s still a great platform to reach a fan base, although now you mainly have to pay for advertising to reach that fan base. Although I can’t see it going anywhere.

Tell us everything about this new EP
It is mind blergh from my brain. Whatever’s in there comes out in my writing. It’s heavy, but it’s melodic and screamy – but hopefully in the right places. It’s angry and it’s cheeky, but it has its sombre moments. It’s the whole flipping spectrum in five tracks. It’s fundamentally EGO. It’s not taking itself too seriously, it’s having fun. It’s remembering why you want to make music, and loving it again. I fundamentally write all the tracks with embellishment from the lads, and in the same way I record and produce all of it too. It’s something that I’ve played at before, and with this project wanting to to have complete control it just made sense to to do it myself. That’s why we’ve birthed Alt:Disco Records too; it’s all our vehicle and we’re looking forward to being at the steering wheel. ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’ was from Friday nights DJing the club night Alt:Disco [at The Craufurd Arms]. Seeing the endless pursuit by men of the women on the dancefloor, and thinking “man that girl is going to kill you”…or “that girl is literally going to kill you”. I love a play on words, a double-edged sword… And a song was born.

What are your live shows been like so far?
Amazing noisily horribly fun. It definitely has a more interesting stage dynamic with myself just screaming / singing, a guitarist guitaring and a drummer drumming. We have our own little bubble, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the freedom of just being a frontman.

What has been your favourite EGO moment of the past year?
Mark and I did a northern tour which was pretty cool and 100% laughs, and I’m just looking forward to this new release and unleashing the new live setup for the world to see!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northants/Bucks, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues you wanna give a shout out to?
Definitely; I’m always open to collaboration and helping each other out. Definitely The Craufurd Arms in Wolverton, and the most recent band who’ve jumped on the bill at our EP show Loose Tooth – SICK BAND.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I’m a big fan of local music, so it was actually the new release from Big Loss! Bloody lovely stuff by three lovely people. Apart from that then the new Crows album Silver Tongues is colossus.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
All we aspire to is to be bigger than Ginger Snaps.

The EGO EP is out now on Alt:Disco Records via the usual download and streaming platforms

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New Music Friday: Harry Mockett

Harry Mockett is a 20 year-old singer, songwriter, and producer from Northampton, who has seemingly come out of nowhere to wow us with his first two singles. ‘Circles’ was quickly…

Harry Mockett is a 20 year-old singer, songwriter, and producer from Northampton, who has seemingly come out of nowhere to wow us with his first two singles. ‘Circles’ was quickly followed by new one ‘Into Night’, and New Boots had to find out more behind his journey so far.

How did you develop your music to this point in 2019?
I started playing the guitar at quite a young age, 5 or 6 I think, and singing just went hand in hand with that as time went by. As a teenager I gigged a lot, and sang in a band for five years, but it wasn’t until college I really found my love for music production and having total control over how my music sounded. It changed the way I write music, and it became a big part of the creative process for me.

How would you describe your sound? What are your main influences?
I’ve always been a big fan of old school hip-hop and disco music, and I feel like that shows in my music in that I like using nice chords and some busy guitar parts. But at the same time I make sure not to overdo it, and keep things simple. A less-is-more kind of thing. I think that’s important, production wise; to have everything in its own pocket. More importantly, what I write needs to feel good to play.

What was the reaction like to first single ‘Circles’?
The reaction to ‘Circles’ was amazing. As my first single I was nervous about how it would be received initially, especially after having not released any music for so long. But when it made the national ‘BBC Introducing Hot List’ [on April 9th] it made it sink in how well it’s going down. It’s definitely given me some confidence that people will like my EP that comes out in May.

Tell us about this new one, ‘Into Night’.
‘Into Night’ all grew from a bass line I’d been messing with for a while, you can hear a part of it at the start. That bass originally played throughout the verse, but I decided to strip it back and have it come in more infrequently. I’d had the idea for the chorus vocal melody for a long time as well, and this just turned out to be the perfect track to use it on. After I first recorded the song, in my shed/studio where I make all my demos, I knew I wanted to make the arrangement bigger. So when I was recording this along with the rest of my EP at Numen Studios we tracked some keys [from Joe Nix], percussion [Matt Brettle], and female vocals/harmonies [Lauren Dejey], which really brought the chorus to life. It was a great place to be creatively. We were all throwing ideas into the mix, and I’m really happy with the finished product.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
I’ve been out the loop recently due to getting diagnosed with a brain tumour last May, so nearly a year ago now. It was quite a hectic year, seven weeks spent in the John Radcliffe in Oxford, and then seven weeks receiving Proton Beam Therapy in Essen, Germany. At one point I was given a 50/50 chance of making it through the night, so it definitely wasn’t a smooth ride. Despite all of that going on I was still making music throughout my recovery, and it was a huge relief that I hadn’t lost my ability and drive, post neurosurgery.  Whilst it has been the biggest challenge imaginable, my music has been a driving force of positivity, and has really given me something to look forward to and focus on even when times were tough.

Whilst the tumour has left me with lifelong damage, I am now back to my old self and have a changed outlook on life. This experience has really shown me how powerful music can be in healing, and the importance of always looking forward and never giving up on what you want to do. Amazingly I got the all clear at the end of February just after I released ‘Circles’, and now that I’m putting music out again I’m excited to get gigging later this year and seeing more local artists.

What have you been digging recently? What was the last album you streamed?
I really love stuff from the likes of Vulfpeck, Anderson Paak, Jamiroquai to name a few. Anything with groove. I’m a big fan of Tom Misch; he also has a love for disco/jazz/hip-hop kind of stuff. I came across him when he was just a beat-maker on Soundcloud, so it’s crazy to have seen him get to where he is now. It’s so great seeing other songwriter-producers blow up, it really motivates me to just make the music I want to make and have faith in it. Last album streamed was Fantastic, Vol. 2 by Slum Village.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’m dropping a new single called ‘Windows’ in early May. It’s without a doubt the longest I’ve ever spent on a track, especially on the production front. I’ve been excited about this one for a while, so I’m very happy to finally be sharing it. I’m looking forward to releasing an EP in May, and following that I’m planning to start gigging it which I can’t wait for. It’s been way too long. That’s the goal for me really. Of course it’d be amazing if more opportunities came my way and more people hear my music, but as long as I’m recording music and playing shows I’ll be content. Anything else that comes along with it is just a bonus.

Harry Mockett on Spotify

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New Music Friday: The Very Lazy Sundays

The Very Lazy Sundays is a misnomer, New Boots imagines, as there is nothing slack  concerning the logistics of having band members spread out between Northampton, Hertfordshire and Kent. Duncan…

The Very Lazy Sundays is a misnomer, New Boots imagines, as there is nothing slack  concerning the logistics of having band members spread out between Northampton, Hertfordshire and Kent. Duncan McLaughlan aka Tramp D’Addy is a busy ShoeTown man, and he gets a moment to shine here with their new EP ‘Love…a Lot’. New Boots keeps the work rate up by asking them to tell us all about it.

Who is in the band?
We are:
Diyar Abdullah – guitar and lead vocals
George Harvey – guitars 
Pete White – Cajon and backing vocals
Duncan McLaughlan – bass and backing vocals

How did you guys get together?
Diyar and George founded The Lazy Sundays in 2010. The band went through a couple of incarnations before Pete and Dunk joined in 2017. George and Diyar have been the crux of the band since inception, turning Diyar’s poems and ideas into songs. Meanwhile, Pete and Dunk had been gigging together since 2013, and met George through mutual friends. He asked them to do some backing vocals on a few songs they were recording, which evolved into George and Diyar asking them to join them.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
We’re often compared to having a similar sound to Paul Simon, Eels, Jack Johnson, and The Streets. Our songs cover a lot of different styles and influences, but the common thread is storytelling with groove, hooks, melody and harmonies

Tell us everything about this new EP.
The first EP, ‘Live…a Little’, from January 2018, was recorded and mixed in a day, and we’d recorded it exactly as we’d play it at gigs. Essentially a well-produced demo. We knew these new songs needed a little more panache in the production if we wanted to get them played on the radio, so we booked two days to record and another two days to mix. We were really lucky to have Mark McCann at The Lodge Studios in Northampton producing us. He spent a lot of time – even before we got into the studio – listening to our influences and sussing out how they got their sound. It was a real education watching him listen to Simon & Garfunkel and discovering how their sound on ‘The Boxer ‘was achieved – what mics they used, how the instruments and voices were blended. He was really excited about recreating classic analogue recording processes in the Lodge’s studio, and the results are fantastic.

We played everything live as a group – the guitars, cajon, bass and Diyar’s vocals, which gives the overall organic feel. No click tracks, no autotune, all mics and no DI – your standard recording setup for 1969! Mark had mic’d us up so perfectly we barely needed any post production to the core performance. We recorded the core tracks in a day at the Lodge, and spent the following day adding extra instrumentation – the piano and mandolin on ‘Sometimes A Broken Heart’, the B52’s-ish electric guitar lick at the end of ‘Higher Love’, and the eerie backward-backing-vocals on ‘Café de Paris’. We wanted to keep the vibe of a live performance, so were really careful not to overstretch or go too Pet Sounds with the overdubs. Essentially the sound of the EP is us playing live – if we had a budget for a mandolinist, pianist and a couple of extra backing singers.

As for the songs on ‘Love…a Lot’, we’d written nearly a dozen songs since the first EP, many of which had become part of our live set. However we’d opted for four songs we knew were good but hadn’t yet road-tested. ‘Blow Wind Blow’ is a lullaby we put together in an AirBnB we stayed in when we toured around the East Coast last Spring. ‘Higher Love’ reflects our love of soul and gospel, like a Stax rhythm section without the horns, documenting the beginnings of a love affair, whilst simultaneously lambasting London’s property prices (”Rare find/Circle Line/Two stops/Paid bucks/Bought yourself a bloody shoebox!”). But the track we really wanted to take our time with during the recording was ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’, about the healing process after a relationship ends. It’s probably our best group performance so far, and we’ll release it as a single once we’ve made a video for it.

What are your live shows like?
We absolutely love playing live. We’ve played to hundreds at festivals, we’ve played to tens at kebab houses, and there’s no difference to us; it’s the challenge of connecting with the audience. Though we probably gig a lot less than most bands, we try and make each show unique and special. We played a show last week with Space; our first big gig since we’d hit the studio. We played to hundreds of people, and it was just as raw and intimate as if we were playing in a tiny club. Diyar is a great frontman, and though he’s perched on a stool most of the time he actually stood up during the rap section of ‘Higher Love’, which was hilarious for us, and totally galvanised the crowd. We usually open our shows with an acapella song from the first EP: three-part harmony singing without a safety net is always daunting, but it’s a great attention-grabber.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands?
Not yet! Dunk runs the monthly Open Mic’s at The Black Prince, and also the Sunday Acoustic sessions that run throughout the summer in the Black Prince garden. He always gets a mixture of poets, singer/songwriters, story-tellers and instrumentalists to play with us, and we’re looking forward to playing there over the summer on August 17th. We’re also really stoked to be involved with Kontra Roots, who put on some great live music events around Northamptonshire featuring local, national and international artists.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Recording at The Lodge the second time around was a real game changer for us. It was when we realised we’d come a long way as a band since our last visit. The first playback of ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’ was a proper “Eureka!” moment!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
George: The Macabees – Marks to Prove It
Dunk: The Soft Boys – The John Peel Sessions
Diyar: Roxette – Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus
Pete: The Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
You mean aside from having Blue Plaques erected to each of us in Northampton, Tring, Reading and Ashford? Firstly we want to spread the word about our EP as widely as possible, make a video for ‘Sometimes a Broken Heart’ and release it as a single in the spring. We’ve got loads more songs in the pipeline, and can’t wait to get back to The Lodge again. We can’t wait to play to a ShoeTown crowd again, either!

Love…a Lot is out via BandCamp, or on CD from the band directly

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