Category: Interviews

New Music Friday: Torus

Torus are a young hard rock/grunge trio from Milton Keynes/Northants. Their debut EP showcases their considerable powers, so New Boots spoke to singer/guitarist Alfie Glass for the lowdown. Who is…

Torus are a young hard rock/grunge trio from Milton Keynes/Northants. Their debut EP showcases their considerable powers, so New Boots spoke to singer/guitarist Alfie Glass for the lowdown.

Who is in the band [and what do they play], and where are you all based
Alfie Glass – singing and lead guitar; Harry Quinn on bass and backing vocals; Eleanor Lawrance on drums. Harry and Eleanor are from Milton Keynes and Alfie not far away, living in Towcester.

How did you get together?
So I started Torus around January 2019, starting with releasing demos of my own songs. Recording vocals, drums, bass and guitar in search of a killer band. Instantly hooked up with old bandmate Harry Quinn, who would become the bassist. Us two had not been communicating for about a year so it was really exciting to be playing together again. The search for the right drummer took about a year. We had played with the likes of Jack Gooderham from Wyldest and CUSP, and Lewis O’Grady of Tragic. They had both helped us out with gigging until we found the right drummer for the band. It wasn’t until December 2019 that we tried out Eleanor on drums, and it just clicked. She just lays down tight heavy grooves, giving me and Harry space to really jam out, and made the guitar riffs sound even bigger. Which was exactly what we needed. Not to mention before meeting Eleanor we kept saying to each other, “How sick would it be to have a girl drummer?”. So that’s when the band really came together; it took a good year.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
The music definitely takes inspiration from bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, with groovy riffs that make you wanna shake some butt. When I started this band I had a strong vision of it being a really tight exciting rock band with great songs. There’s obvious influences in there like Black Sabbath. I can’t help but mention when I was 12 turning 13 I got the chance to be mentored by Toni Iommi [guitarist of Black Sabbath], so since then I have been even more inspired as he made so many iconic heavy riffs and he’s a big part of the way most metal bands have sounded since. Older bands bands like The Doors, Led Zep…you know all the classics, the list goes on.

You put a few songs out in 2019. What was the reaction like?
Yeah we released a couple things in 2019 and the response was decent. Our music was travelling around people that were going to our gigs and our friends started to make a small scene. But we didn’t release enough music really in 2019 as the band wasn’t properly formed. Since Eleanor has been in the band we’ve been releasing a lot more music like our single ‘The Feeling’ and the new EP, which has had a much better response!

Tell us about this new EP.
We’ve just released a brand-new EP named ‘Next Time / Follow / Blurry’. A three-track EP with new songs that have never been released before. Since the release of the EP people seem to really be liking it. ‘Next Time’ is a teenage struggle song, feeling lonely in lockdown and in some serious need of human contact, which I’m sure most young people get. ‘Follow’ is kind of contradicting the first in a way, trying to appreciate what’s around you when in lockdown – there is places to go, things to do, life ain’t that bad. ‘Blurry’ is completely irrelevant to lockdown but talks about the toxicity of confusing relationships, and anger towards that. Ya know just the old teenage drama hidden in a heavy-rock song. But the EP is doing well and has helped us out, exposing us to more people. We’ve got a lot of new music in the bag, so be sure to check us out on the streaming platforms.

What are your live shows like?
For me our live shows are what we do best. Every time I write a Torus song I have the vision of us playing live in my mind – every time. The songs are designed for a live audience, we really do hype the crowd up because we wanna see them moving and having a good time! So our live shows are normally pretty sweaty, loud, and we like to keep them exciting with new music.

How has lockdown been for you?
To be honest lockdown has been great. There’s been a lot more free time to write new material [a little too much free time, maybe]. I feel like we’re a great team even in lockdown because I record the music, and then Harry mixes all the songs, and we work on it together. Same goes for the artwork for all the releases. Of course there are some major downsides to the lockdown. We can’t meet up and practice, and we miss playing gigs so much. We can’t wait to get back on the stage. But overall it’s been positive and very productive.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Hollow Bones by Rival Sons. Great album, pretty sure I listened to it all the way through just dancing around my room. This is what lockdown has come to man. Going a bit mad, but oh well.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
It has always has been to be a successful musician; in this case I want Torus to be successful. I’ve never had a back-up plan and to be honest I still don’t have one, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have music man. It’s a massive part of me and how I live really. Also the band has been flirting with a major label since the summer of 2019, so we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and see where it takes us!

‘Next Time / Follow / Blurry’ is out now on all digital platforms

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New Music Friday: Jess Orestano

Singer-songwriter Jess Orestano has released the first single from her forthcoming EP. ‘How To Love Me’ is a masterclass in simple, honest, direct songwriting. New Boots speaks to her about…

Singer-songwriter Jess Orestano has released the first single from her forthcoming EP. ‘How To Love Me’ is a masterclass in simple, honest, direct songwriting. New Boots speaks to her about how it all came about.

How did you begin with music?
I have always loved singing since a very young age.  My Grandad always had a piano at his house, which I have since inherited, and I loved to tinker on the keys from as young as four.  Then when I was nine I followed in my Dad’s footsteps and picked up the guitar, which has been my main instrument [along with singing] ever since.

Who do you feel are your main influences?
My main influences are varied really, I don’t know if any of them appear in my songwriting but I’ve always loved Dire Straits, Eva Cassidy, Bing Crosby, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Don McLean, Jeff Buckley, The 1975, Chvrches, The Cranberries and plenty more. I take a little bit of influence from all music really, there’s not much I won’t listen to.

Is this single a bit of a comeback? First new release since 2017…
I guess you could say that. I have been busy writing and performing music for the last three to four years, but I am notorious for taking my sweet time with getting round to releasing my material! Some of the songs on my upcoming EP are ten years old! I have relocated once and moved house twice since my last release too, and although I usually gig every weekend, I can now concentrate on sorting out my recordings and scheduling them for release.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘How To Love Me’.
My new track is about a break-up that happened fairly recently after a long relationship. It’s all about the confusing feelings that happen following a break-up. Was it the right decision? Could we have made it work? It talks about some of the reasons relationships break down, and how when you reflect you wonder what could have been done differently. Whether your expectations for a long term relationship are too high. What happens after the honeymoon period? It talks about the fears of leaving a relationship and whether you’ll meet anyone else that can love you how you need it. I was 18 when my relationship started and 28 when it ended, it was a scary and uncertain time and I felt lost for a while.

And you mentioned playing live a great deal.
Up until now, I’ve always performed solo. Just myself and my electro-acoustic guitar. I usually perform a mixture of originals and covers depending on what the gig calls for. Going forward I am hoping to perform in a small ensemble with a couple of musical friends I’ve known for years. We’re all very excited about it, and can’t wait to start gigging!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
Absolutely! I play all over Northamptonshire, as well as further afield – I used to live in Norfolk, so regularly enjoy popping back over for gigs and seeing my friends there. I LOVE collaborating and will regularly hop on stage with my musical friends for a few harmonies, or to strum some rhythm guitar under a bit of lead. Mark Gill, Ethan Kenna, Scott Walters, Stevie Jones, Dan Hughes, Adam the Greek to name a few. It’s always a lot of fun performing with others, especially when it’s unplanned! I regularly play at a venue called Olive in Corby, and plan a festival there annually. But I love playing everywhere!

How’s lockdown been for you? Helping or hindering your creativity?
A bit of both really! I’m the mum of a spritely five-year-old, so there have been times where I can’t really do much creatively until he’s in bed, by which time I have to be quiet so as not to wake him. That said, I’ve been dabbling in a bit of music tech again after a few years hiatus. I have started to record some new bits of songs just by playing around with instruments, and exploring software capabilities of programs such as Cubase and Ableton Live. I’ve learnt a lot in that respect and have really been enjoying myself! Different to my usual songwriting/lyric writing ventures, but I’m excited to see what future ideas I come up with.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I last streamed Sam Cooke on Spotify. I’m a big fan, and go through phases of playing his music day-in day-out. This happens with all my favourites. I’ve also been listening to The 1975 new album Notes On A Conditional Form, and it’s been interesting following their progression in production and the direction that’s taken them in.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I am starting a masters in Audio Engineering in September, which I am SO excited for! I hope to pursue my long-term desire into producing, mixing and mastering music afterwards. I’d like to start a small studio for unsigned, grassroots musicians. Northamptonshire has so much to offer musically, and I’d love to help aspiring musicians get their songs off the ground and out into the world! I am so passionate about the local music scene, and love being a part of it.

‘How to Love Me’ is out now via the usual digital platforms

Jess performing as part of Audiostage
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New Music Friday: Karl Phillips & The Rejects

Northampton ska-rap-rockers extraordinaire, Karl Phillips and The Rejects are one of the most entertaining and unique live bands around. With new music flowing again online New Boots had a virtual…

Northampton ska-rap-rockers extraordinaire, Karl Phillips and The Rejects are one of the most entertaining and unique live bands around. With new music flowing again online New Boots had a virtual tinnie with Karl about the whole kit and kaboodle.

What were your formative experiences that made you go: I want to rap and play guitar?
I was about 19 at college and a bunch of the black lads on my sports science course all used to rap to each other on our breaks. I was like, “I can do better than that”. They were like “Go on then”. So that night I went home and wrote my first 16 bars. I came back the next day and did it. No one was overly hyped. But I knew the fact that none of them tried to rip me meant I was kinda alright. And I still rap those bars to this day…
I got a guitar when I was about the same age. Because my dad had just got one. And I wanted to show him I could do better [see the pattern emerging here].

How did you develop your vocal/lyrical style?
I learnt three chords and started writing songs. I never knew anyone that played instruments or sang or anything. So it was a new world to me. I just wanted to have a laugh. Write funny songs and make my mates laugh really. That’s pretty much why I still do it.

The Sicknotes, The Midnight Ramblers, now the Rejects. What does this band of brothers bring to the table?
The Sicknotes were literally my best mates, none of whom had ever played instruments [apart from one lad, Duncan]. We just made it up as we were going along. The Ramblers were incredibly talented musicians, but had their own lives they needed to prioritise. The Rejects? They’re my guys. There’s loads of them. Most of them have been in 100 bands before this band. Doesn’t matter if theyre 18 or 50. If they got the vibes? I want them around mr. They’re all my best mates. And massively talented I’m lucky. Proper lucky to have them.

There’s been a bit of a break [three years, cough] since the last single. Just fate, or did you actively need a break to recharge the batteries?
Didn’t actively break from releasing, nah. Just always loved gigging more than putting stuff out. Been more busy on that side that ever. Nearly 100 gigs last year. Obviously this year…not so much. But the virus has made me up my game, and got loads of stuff ready to come out soon.

Tell us about this new funky beast ‘Back From The Dead Again’.
Honest truth about the new single? I recorded that nine years ago.. Just before I had a mental breakdown. And when I got better I hated the song because it reminded me of that shit. But nine years later, and a lockdown with no way of going studio to finish my latest songs, I thought “I quite like it now. And you lot can have that!” But nah, I hope people like it. It’s funky punk rap. And not really what The Rejects are about. You’ll have to wait three months for the next single for that…

What are your live shows like? Karl Phillips & The Rejects are known as a festival favourite…but what’s your favourite festival to play?
We just bring the party, man. We get on that stage and just have fun. Don’t take ourselves seriously at all. Obviously we keep the music tight. But it feels like even we never know what might happen next, and I think people like that unpredictable element. Boomtown has always up there for favourite festival. This would’ve been fifth or sixth year in a row for me, so gutted about that. But things are hopefully coming back to normal soon. And we’re ready to explode

How has lockdown been for you? Does it give you time to create, or stifle it?
Lockdown has given me no choice but to create. I’m used to gigging every week. But with that taken away I needed something to give me some purpose, and routine. So I’ve been smashing it that way for the first time in years. So yeah; actually grateful in a weird way.

Outside the band you’ve been doing sterling work as part of The Lab music venue. How has that been?
I took over events management at the Lab late last year. And was just getting into my stride, bringing in some greats acts from all around the country. Obviously the virus put that to a stop. But I’m optimistic I can get back to that soon. Kirsty, who plays sax in my band, also plays a role a lot bigger than me in running the place. And there’s a committee of so many wicked people pulling together and doing some of the dirtier work to keep the place going, and hopefully thriving soon enough. I just do the easy stuff.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Ed Solo
on Spotify. What a don.

What plans do you have?
No real plans as such. Think I’m ready to finally take it a bit more serious and release songs more regular though. So yeah, just do that. Get back to gigging and see what happens.

‘Back From The Dead Again’ by Karl Phillips & The Rejects is out now via the usual digital platforms

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New Music Friday: Lucien Moon

Lucien Moon is the new name of Northampton singer-songwriter Jamie Benkert. Following the first single ‘Tainted’ comes the game-changer ‘Echoes’. New Boots had to delve a little deeper by speaking…

Lucien Moon is the new name of Northampton singer-songwriter Jamie Benkert. Following the first single ‘Tainted’ comes the game-changer ‘Echoes’. New Boots had to delve a little deeper by speaking to the man himself.

How did you start on this musical journey?
When I was 10 my Mum bought me my first album [that I can remember], which was Craig David – Born To Do It. I used to have it on repeat, sat in my bedroom, and would sing along. It was the first time I really connected with music in a way; I analysed lyrics and melodies, and from there realised I wanted to do this too.

How would you describe the current sound?
Lucien Moon allows me to create music that lyrically comes from real experiences in my past life [as Jamie], crossing genres based on how I’m feeling that day. I keep saying my music is quite dark and ‘relationship experience’ based, and my influences are artists like Craig David, The Weeknd, Usher and Bazzi.

Why the shift from your birthname, and why now?
I started out doing music to see if it was for me. With that comes trial and error and years of discovering yourself; likes and dislikes and what I’m capable of. Through those stages a ‘name’ isn’t as important as what you want to achieve. However in the last few years I got to understand myself, I discovered where I wanted to take my music. I developed live performance skills as well as learning the studio life. I had a little experience on a singing TV show, and after that and being compared to a current singing star [in negative ways mainly], it made more hungry to show the real me. Lucien Moon was born as my outlet to do that. Lucien meaning “man of light”, and Moon being the polar opposite of darkness – which reflects my sound.

What was the reaction like to the first single, ‘Tainted‘?
Really good! I re-branded as Lucien Moon on January 1st 2019, but did not release anything until April 24th 2020, so I gained new followers between this time who only ever knew me as Lucien Moon. My long-lasting followers experience the change: some were confused and some embraced. So I took a year allowing people to understand me through posting plenty of stories to Instagram, filming when we went to Iceland and Los Angeles to shoot music videos to get people really curious about what was I up to. Then BAMM! we released ‘Tainted‘, which is the first of a series of songs I have ready to release this year and going forward.

Tell us everything about this new single, ‘Echoes’.
‘Echoes’ was written in 2017, and one that is the most highly anticipated song between other artists, producers and friends I have sent it to privately. They are all very excited for it, and feel it is the song to take it to higher levels. ‘Tainted’ had to be the bait and had the short straw of being my debut – to allow ‘Echoes’ to have a path to take the music higher [he says semi-awkwardly]. It is one of my favourite songs I have made, but again also the lyrics and message comes from a true past time of mine. I remember sitting in my old house. I always used to sit down nightly or when I could, and just let things flow with writing songs. I’ve never tried to force what I would come up with in a writing session, and this night I reflected on my past relationship that left me feeling a bit messed up mentally – and still did that night three years later.
I remember sending it to my friend and producer Mitchel White, who instantly phoned me and said “This is a hit, it’s BBC Radio 1 worthy. Don’t JUST release it, you need a plan for this song”. So we kept it back and kept it back as I was still in the midst of working out my sound. Then it dawned: this was my sound. Mitchel is still a great friend and ironically has had his music played now on Radio 1, 1Xtra, and played live at Wireless festival. He still believes in this song, so I hope I can follow in his footsteps now. Based on that I would say ‘Echoes’ best describes Lucien Moon. However there are a few songs coming that will show I’m not a one-trick pony, which I love.

Will there be live shows after covid-19?
Oh yes! I was meant to be supporting Leee John from the group Imagination at The Roadmender, and then lockdown was announced and it was cancelled. It’s set to be rescheduled for October 23rd, but I guess that depends when we come out of all of this.

How are you coping with lockdown? Is it helping or hindering your creativity?
Overall hindering. I speak to a lot of other artists and they’re the same. It’s just a blessing we have all of my new music and videos ready to go so I can actually be releasing content while we deal with these hard times.

What has been your favourite moment of the past year?
As Lucien Moon has only just begun since April I would have to say it’s the behind-the-scenes moments. I have been very lucky to work with Northampton/Ibiza videographer Harry Russell on shooting my music videos. Last year we went to Iceland to film one. We filmed another two days before Christmas, with a full video production team.But the best and also most unreal time was going to Los Angeles in April 2019 where we filmed a song that was meant to be my debut, got back after an amazing shoot and journey to find the harddrive had corrupted. It has been in recovery for 10 months and we only managed to retrieve it back one week ago, but the amount of enjoyment we got from that call makes releasing that song in a few months time so special…stressful but special, haha!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The last album I bought was by Tori Kelly. I do pay for Spotify, but also believe in supporting the artist and I haven’t even took it out of the wrapping as I can stream it. The last album I streamed was Justin Timberlake, Justified.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To build a new and strong following for my music, one that I can then announce a tour for, and play out live with my band. Live music is where its at! So here’s to 2021 and a live tour coming your way…

‘Echoes’ is out now on all digital services

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New Music Friday: Naked Next Door

For Milton Keynes quartet Naked Next Door anthemic indie rock seemingly comes easy. With the release of second EP ‘Swerving Out Wide’ New Boots spoke to bassist Corin Schencks for…

For Milton Keynes quartet Naked Next Door anthemic indie rock seemingly comes easy. With the release of second EP ‘Swerving Out Wide’ New Boots spoke to bassist Corin Schencks for the gossip.

How did you guys get together?
We all met in late 2017. Euan [vocals, guitar] and Callum [drums] were originally friends and would jam together, but still needed a bassist and lead guitarist. Tommy and I who had been playing in bands since 12 were introduced to Euan [guitar] and Callum by Paul Rivers, our manager. We rehearsed for a few months and then played our first gig in January 2018.

Who are your main influences in music?
We’re inspired by so many bands it’s hard to pick a few. Definitely Catfish The Bottlemen; then other bands we love are Nothing But Thieves and Sea Girls, to name a few.

Tell us everything about this new EP, ‘Swerving Out Wide’.
We started the writing of new EP right after we released our first one [‘Stuck In My Mind‘, 2019]. It took us a few months of demos and writing to come to a final decision on what tracks we wanted. We recorded the EP with Larry Hibbitt [Sea Girls, Nothing But Thieves, Sundara Karma] who brought it EP to life. We stayed in London for a week and recorded the entire thing!

What are your live shows like? You must be missing them.
We love playing live the most out of everything. It’s hit us hard as the lockdown has shut venues down and all gigs have came to a stop. We had a lot booked in that we were looking forward to. However we aim to book these gigs again and get out there as soon as we can.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
I think recording the EP was a really fun experience; living in London with each other for a week and recording. What could be better? There was a pub right next to the studio too, which always helps.

How are you coping with lockdown? Helping or hindering your creativity?
We’ve been coping well, focusing on our social media and writing new songs. Euan and Corin having been demoing songs between them as they both have home studios!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The new 1975 album, Notes On A Conditional Form.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We hope that we can take our music all over the world and play our music to thousands. Playing festivals, recording, touring. That’s the dream for us.

‘Swerving Out Wide’ is out now on the usual digital platforms

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New Music Friday: Canyons

Canyons are Northampton’s long players. Edward Mander [bass, vocals], Matthew Felce [guitar, ukulele], Stevie Ward [vocals, guitar], Luke Sherwood [keys, guitar, accordion, cornet, harmonica, vocals] and Mark Thursby [drums] have…

Canyons are Northampton’s long players. Edward Mander [bass, vocals], Matthew Felce [guitar, ukulele], Stevie Ward [vocals, guitar], Luke Sherwood [keys, guitar, accordion, cornet, harmonica, vocals] and Mark Thursby [drums] have much beautiful local history in music, and in Canyons they make Americana. Debut EP now out, New Boots spoke to Ward about the project.

How did you guys get together?
Matthew, Ed, and I formed Awesome Wells in 1991 and have been playing together on and off since then. Canyons evolved from a midweek get-together. It usually involved a few beers, some wine and a second dinner of the evening. But occasionally we would get the guitars out and write some songs. For a while we were Real Live Owls and became Canyons when Mark and Luke joined in our little soirees. Things just seemed to gel and feel more natural. We began to really enjoy playing again.

How would you describe your sound and main influences?
I always find it really hard to answer, as essentially all the bands I / we’ve ever been involved in are just rock and roll in some shape or form. I have always been a bit of a musical chameleon. I get influenced by what I’m listening to at the time; I suppose we all do. I think we’ve all been into the Americana and alt-country thing for years. It’s such a broad spectrum of a genre though. It stretches from the single voice and an acoustic guitar through the deep south rock sound, and ends up with big production sounds like Bon Iver, etc. Personally I have an obsession with music from the early seventies right now, its a real golden age.
We’ve always described Canyons as Anglicana and Country & Eastern! Not sure either make a lot of sense. But were not really a country band, a folk band or a rock band.

Tell us everything about this first release, the ‘Pablo’ EP.
‘Pablo’ developed from a kind of latino jam that we used to do when we hit the rehearsal wall. I remember Ed sent me a link to a news story from some obscure bible belt paper about a travelling clown who had survived not one but two direct lightening hits. I thought, “there’s a song in that”.
The four tunes feature our mate Simon Taylor on trumpet quite heavily. It occurred to us that we could make little batches of recordings with either a different feel or featuring additional players. Simon is a great player and certainly shaped a sound for this first EP. We added sections to the songs to fill with trumpet. The next batch of tunes we’re working on sound quite different.
We were lucky enough to blag a bit of free recording time at Northampton college and the Uni. We put the drums down there with all their sexy mics. Then overdubs were recorded at our own home studios, and we did some vocals at Shorty towers with Chris White. Mark did most of the engineering and mixing. We only actually spent any money on mastering.

What’s your method for writing the lyrics?
I am a very lazy lyricist; they often get left til the last minute. When we’re writing songs I will just push out sounds til I find a melody, then make words to fit. Sometimes we’ll have a tune ready to go and I only have half a verse that I’m happy with. It can slow proceedings down somewhat !  I’m always very humbled by people who can write great stories and fit them into songs. Its a real skill. Jono [him of the Uke Dealers] has it.

What are your live shows like? Will you be getting back on stage after lockdown?
Like every musician I know, we’re going through a very frustrating time. Not being able to gig, or even rehearse is horrible. I really hope there are places to play after all this. I feel for the venue owners right now, they’re at the end of a long waiting list to return to some kind of normality. I worry though that some of our venues may not get back on their feet. We’ve got to stay positive though and I cannot wait to get back out playing again.

Do you feel part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire? Any favourite bands/venues to play with/at?
I really enjoy playing at the Garibaldi Hotel, the place just has an amazing band-friendly vibe. We did a show there in the Autumn and it just felt like home. And of course those summer evening Pomfret Arms garden gigs are always fun.
I’ve never really felt part of the crowd in Northampton. Its a very indie scene that has produced some cracking bands over the years. My bands have always seemed to be a bit out-of-step though. We’ve had some fun times with P-Hex, Jono & The Uke Dealers and Bisons recently though. I guess you make your own scene.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
A.A. Bondy Enderness. I’ve been a proper fan boy of his for years, and his new record is a glorious slice of kind of folk/electronica. It is so simple and perfect. If you don’t know him, do yourself a favour and seek him out.

What are your burning desires for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
There’s only really ever been one plan. That is just to make songs. We are now finally focusing on a bit more getting them out into the world. Hopefully some folks will like them.

The Pablo EP is available through all the usual digital channels.

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New Music Friday: Jeana

Bedfordshire-based singer-songwriter Jeana [pronounced Jen-ae] is the talented 20 year-old making sad’n’sexy bangers in a Northampton basement studio. New double A-side single ‘Round N Round’/’808’ takes it to the next…

Bedfordshire-based singer-songwriter Jeana [pronounced Jen-ae] is the talented 20 year-old making sad’n’sexy bangers in a Northampton basement studio. New double A-side single ‘Round N Round’/’808’ takes it to the next level. New Boots went in search of the lowdown.

How did you start this journey into music?
Music has always been a huge part of my family. Being one of four my dad made us all pick an instrument we wanted to learn when we were children, and encouraged us to practice most nights for 10 minutes. Being the rebellious child I was I hated being told what to do, so took no interest at all. Finally when I was 12 I took interest, but in all honesty I just wanted to be Taylor Swift. I discovered her in 2012 as a lost 12 year old and became a bit obsessed. Begged my dad for a new guitar [I think I broke my previous one due to slight anger issues, lol], but he wasn’t convinced that I’d use it due to my previous none interest. He said he’d buy me a new guitar if he could enter me in a local battle of the bands, which naturally my older brother got involved because he was a drummer always in bands. I ended up entering with my brother and sister as a folk-pop trio, and we won! This was the birth of my previous band Healyum. My dad being the music fanatic he is managed us for a few years, getting us into studios, recording demos etc. When I was 14/15 he wanted to get us management because it kind’ve took over everyone’s lives, and not for the better. We managed to get into a studio with producer Kristofer Harris [Bears Den, Ghostpoet, Indoor Pets], which was a massive deal for us! Our first single got on Radio 1, Radio X and BBC Introducing etc., and we had A&R men interested, but that was put off for a while due to my age. The band ended up going our separate ways in 2018. Later on in that year I linked up with Ginger Snaps, and here I am today!

Who are your main influences in music?
A question I never know how to answer. I grew up listening to indie, alternative rock and pop music, which will always be my first love. I love the gig/festival culture as an artist and a fan, but I listen to so much different music that I wouldn’t even know where to start with influences. Some of my favourite female artists are Lana Del Rey, Gwen Steffani, Lauryn Hill, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, and Lily Allen.

You’ve been collaborating with the supremely talented, Northampton-based producer and songwriter Ginger Snaps. Tell us about your working relationship.
Ginger Snaps is my musical right hand. I have weekly sessions with him to work on new bops, and he is such an important mentor to me! He also plays guitar in my live band, and is just one of the best people I’ve ever met.

‘Round N Round’ / ‘808’

Tell us everything about this new double A-side single.
‘Round N Round’ was written four days after I’d gotten out of a relationship. It’s safe to say I won’t be getting into a relationship any time soon, and hopefully this will be the last of the breakup bangers for a while, lol. Being able to collaborate with Billy Lockett on this song and get these words out with such emotion was amazing for me. ‘808’ was written at the heart of my material – the Ginger Snaps studio. We started it at a time where we were writing new material every week, so ended up finishing for the next single. As ‘808’ was getting mastered I wrote ‘Round N Round’ with Billy, which resulted in me making the decision to hold ‘808’ back and continue with ‘Round N Round’ as the next single. With ‘Round N Round’ being a more mainstream vibe I wanted to still release ‘808’, for that alt touch.

Describe your live show in five words.
fun, alcohol, vibes, fuck, and SAS.

Lockdown

How are you coping with lockdown? Is it helping or hindering your creativity?
Lockdown is definitely getting to me a lot more now. Being a new artist and not being able to gig is a lot harder that I would’ve expected. Gigging is where I get rewarded with music at the moment. It’s always an amazing feeling hearing everyone’s feedback and meeting people face to face, and it’s usually where I get/meet new supporters.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (fitting to my sad isolation vibes).

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
My burning desire is to play music festivals, and I would love to go on a sold-out tour. I love making music and it really is therapy for me, but my favourite thing about music is the live experience. I love being an artist in the UK because I live for British music culture – my favourite nights out are gigs and my favourite holidays are music festivals.

‘Round N Round’/’808’ is out now via the usual digital places

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New Music Friday: Duncan Bisatt

Release is the new album by Northampton singer-songwriter Duncan Bisatt. No vocals? New Boots went in search of answers… How did you get to this musical point?I’m a latecomer to…

Release is the new album by Northampton singer-songwriter Duncan Bisatt. No vocals? New Boots went in search of answers…

How did you get to this musical point?
I’m a latecomer to creating original music.  I’ve played guitar since I was a young teenager in the 1970s, and always enjoyed live music. I only started playing in bands in the 1990s when someone I knew was looking for a bass player for a new project and I thought, ‘What the hell, give it a go’.
After a couple of different versions of bands that rehearsed a lot but never did a lot of gigs I ended up joining Bushpigs in the late 1990s after someone handed me a Herald & Post advert.  At that time Bushpigs, as a band was probably 50% covers gigs and 50% writing and recording original material [the former paying for the latter]. We recorded a dozen or so original songs at The Lodge studio [mostly with Max Read on the desk], but then never did anything with them.
Bushpigs had evolved out of an earlier Northampton band called Marabar Caves and when that band reformed in 2019, I ended up picking up the bass role there as well, so I now have two bands and a solo career to manage.
After the creative side of Bushpigs faded I ended up forming acoustic pop-rock band The Rogue State Circus with Jon Delaney in 2009.  That band is still going, but I left in 2018.  I wrote a bit for that band in its early years, but Jon is always the main songwriter and vocalist.  To get the creative outlet, eventually, I decided to write and record my own album [Auto-Self-Destruct] which came out in 2015.  Then, of course, I really needed to gig the songs and so I started playing acoustic versions of them at open-mics and suitable festival gigs.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
I struggle to describe my own sound: it’s difficult to be objective.  If I had to list influences they are generally songwriters rather than technical musos: people like Joe Jackson [I love his cynical edge] and Neil Finn.  I also like energetic and noisy stuff like The Who and Midnight Oil.  Behind it, however, is also a teenage love of 1970’s prog-rock.  I haven’t tended to write 20 minute songs, but sometimes a hint of some of that appears in arrangements on my albums.  The new album probably let that ‘excessive’ side out a bit.

What was the reaction like to your last album, 2018’s Reality and Abstraction?
Really good thanks. It is a more diverse set of songs than the first album, where I consciously tried to stick to a consistent pallet of sounds and songwriting.  R&A has songs that range from full-on rock with massive overdriven guitars to acoustic pieces and, almost, some folk music.  The cover art was fun to work on as well: it’s an extract from an abstract painting by local legend [drummer, artist, bike-nutter] Mark Halsey.  It makes a nice t-shirt, if anyone wants one.

New Album

Tell us everything about Release.
I came up with the idea before Christmas. Both of my earlier albums had some instrumental elements, and I had various pieces sat in the archive which I had written and recorded between 2012 and 2018.  I had started working on an ambient piece, which became ‘Danses de Travers’, and realised that I wanted a vehicle in which to get that and some of the other pieces released.
The original thought was that it would be really simple: finish ‘Danses de Travers’ and just pop it on an album with the rest and have it released by the end of January.  Then when I went into The Lodge [with Mark Cann] to mix it, it became clear that it would be worth revisiting the mixes of some of the other pieces. Mark was always going to do a massively better job on those than I had originally, and so a predicted half-day to mix one track turned into about two and a half days spread over a month and then, once other ‘stuff’ started to happen, the release got pushed back to April.
It’s a very diverse album, and I make no claims to a particular cohesiveness of genre.  There are rock instrumentals, ambient pieces of varying lengths and even a classical guitar solo (‘Sunset’).  With music now being mostly streamed, however, I think the pressure to deliver a cohesive album isn’t there so much.  Each piece can stand up on its own.

How does it feel producing an album without any vocals?
A bit easier!  I find lyric writing and singing the hardest part of what I do.  I regularly have the instrumental arrangement of a song finished while I’m still agonising over the words.  The track ‘Toc’ was supposed to be the second half of a mammoth two-part piece, not surprisingly called ‘Tic & Toc’.  The instrumental part of ‘Tic’ was really good but I had about four attempts at writing lyrics and then gave up because nothing seemed to fit.  So ‘Toc’ was left, and found its way out on my ‘Captains & Kings’ EP last year.  Now it’s remixed on ‘Release’.

What has been your favourite artistic moment of the past year?
The two highlights have to be Mano Music Festival in March 2019 and King of Hearts in December. I get the biggest musical kicks out of playing live, and being asked to travel to Marburg and play four sets over three nights was an unbelievable privilege. We were a little late getting to Marburg and I had the experience of getting off a bus and, twenty minutes later, walking onto a stage in front of, probably, a couple of hundred attentive Germans to play the biggest solo gig I’d ever done. I thought I did the whole “Guten abend Marburg” bit quite well, but Kenny later said that I couldn’t have looked more English if they had painted me red and put postcards in my mouth! Kings of Hearts was memorable because I had a bunch of other local musicians down the front who joined in singing ‘One Pound Town’ and even added their own improvised backing vocals.  Getting that sort of reaction from the younger guys was a real lift and something that I won’t forget.

Lockdown

How are you coping with the lockdown?
I try to keep telling myself that, in many ways, I am lucky in being able to deal with this situation reasonably well.  I have my own house with a garden, good neighbours and I’m still working [from home] and not worried about my job. I think it’s important to recognise that these are things a lot of people can’t take for granted. It’s tough being 160 miles from my immediate family and not being able to visit them, though. I really miss the live music and being able to get together with my bandmates in Bushpigs and Marabar Caves; we’ve lost a fair number of gigs.
I’ve been doing a bit of streaming of acoustic performances. I’m also working on a new single remotely with drums by Ben Gordelier [The Moons, Paul Weller), some guitar by Bill Westley [Marabar Caves] and keys and mix by Jon Martin.  It’s a different way of working and you have to relinquish control and run with whatever people send back.
We’re also likely to finally release some of the ‘lost’ Bushpigs recordings spanning 1994 to 2001. Having the time to do these things is the positive side of the current situation.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
U2 Boy. I’ve also been buying local artists from Bandcamp.

The future

What is your burning desire to do in the future? Any plans?
To go for a long walk without having to worry if I’m breaching guidelines!  Also to see some of the local bands playing again and meet the guys. That new single should be ready within the next month, and I have a few other songs written and was planning to start recording them before the lockdown happened.  I made a decision not to get into the commitment of recording a whole new album, so it will be singles and EPs for the time being.  I’m keen to keep working with live drummers [and other musicians, if they are interested]. It would be nice to get a band together to play some of the songs in a way that’s nearer to their original arrangements rather than the solo acoustic versions.

Release is out now via the usual digital platforms

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New Music Friday: From Eden To Exile

From Eden to Exile release their ‘Age of Fire EP’ on May 1st [Attic Records]. Peter Dennis reviews, and also speaks to the Northampton band. It’s been quite a journey…

From Eden to Exile release their ‘Age of Fire EP’ on May 1st [Attic Records]. Peter Dennis reviews, and also speaks to the Northampton band.

It’s been quite a journey for From Eden to Exile since their inception in 2012. A solid debut EP [‘Soundtrack to Your Demise’] hit the streets in 2015, preceding 2017’s full length Modern Disdain. In between came a triumphant appearance at the UK’s premier metal fest, Bloodstock Open Air, in addition to some line-up changes. However they’ve finally hit on the right chemistry for their latest EP, ‘Age of Fire’, an explosive effort containing five Molotov cocktails.

Wasting little time on niceties opening salvo ‘Age of Fire’ arrives like a Panzer division sweeping across the Steppes. A twin-guitar attack delivering riffs in tandem combine with drums that fire with machine-gun rapidity to create a brutal, punishing affair. With no sign of redemption From Eden to Exile set about scrawling their sound on every available surface yet, for all the sonic fury, there’s a real groove, a hardcore swing, that underpins proceedings. When the guitar solos erupt they’re short and succinct, which only adds to the intensity, as the band effortlessly pull together different strands of extreme metal with blackened blast beats nestling betwixt grindcore breakdowns.

‘Face of Desolation’ eases up on the throttle slightly for a more measured affair that seems to spiral backwards as Tom Franklin’s guttural growl screams like a daemon sucked into the depths of hell. Joey Jaycock and Tom Kelland give their guitar lines a neo-classical feel, not dissimilar to that employed by Iron Maiden, and the riff heavy outro attacks the cranium like a series of hammer blows. The crushing ‘The Great Disconnect’ is a maze of technical riffs surrounded by a musical maelstrom. Imagine death metal legends Suffocation jamming with LA hardcore crew Rotting Out and you’d have something approaching the monolithic enormity of ‘The Great Disconnect’ which attaches itself to the listener like an anchor to a drowning man.

Sometimes metalcore can sound a bit muddy but producer Neil Hudson has done a great job in giving all the instruments room to breathe. However on ’Inhuman’ he has created a claustrophobic feel by encasing the vocals within walls of sound. A song that’s constantly evolving from it’s chuggy beginnings to an all-out thrasher and the short, sharp sonic shifts are rather dizzying and disorientating. Closer ‘Conspire’ is a contradictory tension of opposites as the guitars blind with a metallic sheen and are overlaid with a throat shredding roar and, as the track stomps like a 900lb gorilla, the acoustic mid-section, with its clean vocals, only acts as a foil to make the crescendo even more thunderous – which in turn makes the silence that follows all the more deafening.

The stark monochrome cover that houses Age of Fire is pretty indicative of the music contained within: leaving little room for indiscretion it’s a collection that demands your full attention. The lyricism, which speaks of a not-to-distant dystopian future, unites the record with an almost conceptual feel, and ensures the record hangs together as a cohesive whole. Stirling stuff.

It’s an exciting time for heavy music in ShoeTown, with Ashborn and Krysthla having released a career-defining albums and From Eden to Exile about to unleash their second EP ‘Age of Fire’. The three long years since their debut album have been a busy time for the band, and here vocalist Tom Franklin and bassist Joey Jaycock speak to New Boots to bring us up to date on all their shenanigans.

Can you give us a history of the band?
We started back in 2012 in Daventry, as a group of friends with a mutual love of heavy music. There have been a few people come and go throughout the years, but primarily we’re just mates who love playing metal music and it’s always been that way. We’ve got a broad range of influences, bands like Sylosis, Architects, Protest The Hero, After The Burial, and a ton more. The name was coined by a former vocalist, but there isn’t really a story behind it.

It’s been three years since your debut album and the new EP. Why so long?
Shortly after the album was released, our old vocalist [Matt Dyne] decided to leave the band. And then after we got Tom Franklin in as our new vocalist, our drummer Liam Turland then left to join our friends in Krysthla, to be immediately replaced by Jake Patrick. Add to that Mike Bell and Joey swapping guitar and bass positions, and there was a lot of groundwork to be done before we got our heads down and wrote some new music.

You’ve had some big career highlights; Bloodstock Festival springs to mind. Looking back can you think of one specific moment where everything fell into place?
Obviously Bloodstock was a huge one for us back in 2015. Entering the Metal 2 The Masses competition, we didn’t even think for a second we would pass through every round to become winners and get the chance to play Bloodstock. After this amazing experience, we feel it gave us an immense realisation of what we could actually achieve, so it gave us all a massive push to get our heads down and get even more creative. UK Tech Fest 2018 is one that we always look back on fondly, even though a few of us nearly got taken out by some major sunstroke!

Metal is an often maligned genre, but Northamptonshire has some pretty cool metal bands at the moment. What is it about the county at present that’s birthing these groups?
We’re not sure why, but we’re happy it’s thriving! There’s always a few Northants bands headed to Bloodstock via the Metal 2 The Masses competition, and it’s a great thing to see. I think it’s down to the camaraderie between the bands, and recording studios like Initiate Audio and Media becoming the central hub of new unsigned music from Northamptonshire.

From the cover to the music within it seems that you’ve taken a darker turn with ‘Age of Fire’. Is that fair comment? If so, why and what aesthetics were you drawing from?
It marks the beginning of a new chapter for the band and in many ways it is a fresh start. We have new faces on board and as a result, the music has evolved too. It’s definitely a fair comment to say that we’re trying to make things darker, and this trend will long continue.

Lyrically too ‘Age of Fire’ seems quite dark by drawing on dystopian themes. Why? The lyrics tend to link all the songs conceptually. Was that your intention?
The lyrics were originally written as one continuous story, then broken off into sections which became songs. Interestingly these stories and themes have become more and more relevant in the past year since we recorded. Although dark in nature, as is the genre typically, we hope people can use our music to see through any rough times as a positive distraction.

I wonder how new vocalist Tom Franklin altered the shape of the new EP.
Tom joined the band under a lot of pressure and with high expectations. He has absolutely delivered the goods with the recording of the new EP, and playing UK Tech Fest 2018 as his second show with us on very short notice. He gave it his all in the studio, crafted some excellent lyrics, and has taken an active role in the writing process every step of the way.

Like a game of musical chairs Joey and Mike swapped instruments. How did this change the chemistry in the group?
It’s as good as ever, really. Mike was looking for a new challenge and was getting into playing bass, Joey was coming up with more and more riffs and it just made sense to swap places and switch things up and it worked out well!

How do you feel now the EP is in the bag and ready to be released?
It’s an exciting time to be on the verge of getting ‘Age Of Fire’ out there finally. There’s always that element of listening back and being critical of our performances, but all we can do is put that energy into the writing process for whatever comes next and keep improving as a unit.

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New Music Friday: Basement League

South-East band Basement League are the pop-punkers fresh off the blocks with debut single ‘Juniper’. New Boots spoke to vocalist Cameron Percival for the story… Who is in the band,…

South-East band Basement League are the pop-punkers fresh off the blocks with debut single ‘Juniper’. New Boots spoke to vocalist Cameron Percival for the story…

Who is in the band, and where are you all based?
The band is all based in and around the South of England. The lineup consists of: myself on vocals, Izaak [rhythm guitar and vocals], James [bass], Nathan [drums], and new blood Ryan on lead guitar.

How/why/what/when did you guys get together?
So James and Nathan used to be in a band called Priests to Pilots, but their vocalist had to move back to Hong Kong – and that’s when they found Izaak and myself via JoinMyBand! We played as Priests to Pilots for about a year but then our lead guitarist left to do a doctorate in clinical psychology. At that time we figured we were due a revamp, and thus Basement League was born.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
We’ve got a big emphasis on big sounds. Huge guitar riffs, powerful vocals, big vocal arrangements. We probably sit somewhere between pop-punk and alt-rock. Our biggest influences are probably bands like Neck Deep, Boston Manor, Trophy Eyes and Trash Boat.

‘Juniper’

Tell us everything about this single release.
So “Juniper” is our debut single. We’ve been working on it for the last year now, and we’ve finally released it. We really wanted to hit the ground running with our releases, and ‘Juniper’ was probably our biggest, most in-your-face demo that we were working on and we think it best encapsulates the Basement League sound. We’ve got our second single ‘Youth of Today’ coming out very soon, and we’re heading back to studio as soon as all this crazy virus stuff is over!

What are your live shows like?
High energy. If you come to one of our shows expect to get sweaty. We’re all about movement, and getting the stresses of the week out in the crowd. It’s cathartic, loud and a lot of fun.

Are you part of the scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands?
We’re mostly based in London, but I’m from Northampton. We actually played are first show there last summer when we played The Black Prince, which is just the most incredible venue! Wishing Wolf are a band from Kettering we’ve played with in the past, and those guys are sick!

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Probably releasing ‘Juniper’. We’d worked so hard to bring it and record it to where it is now, and we’re incredible proud of it and how it’s been received. It’s our little baby.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
That’s a toughie because we all listen to loads of different music. We unanimously held a lot of love for the new Four Year Strong record though [Brain Pain].

The Future…

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future?
We want to hit 2020 as hard as possible. If Coronavirus wasn’t a thing then we were hoping to get on a few festival bills. So I guess now the plan is to demo as much as we can, get in the studio and release our debut EP and take it as far as we can!

Juniper is out now on the usual digital platforms

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