Tag: alt rock

Album review: The Venus Fly Trap/Alex Novak ‘Mercurial’

THE VENUS FLY TRAP/ALEX NOVAKMercurial[Glass Modern] As we take a breather under quarantine rule, reflection comes to the fore. And with impeccable timing here is a compilation of the work…

Alex NovakTHE VENUS FLY TRAP/ALEX NOVAK
Mercurial
[Glass Modern]

As we take a breather under quarantine rule, reflection comes to the fore. And with impeccable timing here is a compilation of the work of uber-Northampton creative Alex Novak. A man of many musical projects over four decades, but most closely associated with The Venus Fly Trap, which makes up the first half of this “best of”. The remaining content is appropriated from a vast array of Novak’s early bands and side projects. Right, let’s delve in.

The journey of VFT covers their formation in 1986 right through to the present day. Having settled on a line-up they saw French label support result in the twin 1988 singles of ‘Morphine’ and ‘Desolation Railway’, from parent album Mars. They are both to my mind “alternative 80s” classics – the former a dirty street-talking garage band snarl akin to The Jesus and Mary Chain [all primitive drum machine and gothic overtones], whilst the latter a meticulously constructed post-punk/krautrock/electronic wonder that slowly unfurls it’s exotic beauty over five uber-taught minutes.

1989’s dramatic reworking of Suicide’s ‘Rocket USA’ is more than just a cover. With The Jazz Butcher skronking away on saxophone to provide extra propulsion, the original’s thin palette is filled with a much larger sound; that demented drum-beat and a commanding vocal from Novak himself giving the thing a whole new lease of life. 1990s ‘Europa’ is the sort of classic alt-rock sound of the late ’80s that wasn’t really their thing, but a strong song means they pull it off regardless.

Into the 1990s and the electronic elements are pushed more to the fore, and ‘Achilles Heel’ is probably the best of these forays. High-energy, a memorable synth-line, and intonations from the main man – you’ve got yourself a New Order who kept the Joy Division aesthetic. Flirtations with industrial riffage [‘Moscow Menagerie’, ‘Pulp Sister’ ] fitted well, before the pared down duo of Novak and Andy Denton took the 21st Century version of the band into full-on proggy electronica territory [‘Metropolis’, ‘Vitesse’]

There is a lot to pour over in the second half, and there’s no real overlying theme. It’s more Novak either finding his feet, or straying from the VFT blueprint. There’s gems here though, without doubt. Religious Overdose are the hidden gem in the catalogue, and the three post-punk inclusions here are beamed in from another galaxy. Despite some weedy production the spirit and songs shine through; ‘In This Century’, a haunting 1982 B-side, very much a potential Closer offcut. The press raved about them but nothing much came of it, much like the follow-up The Tempest project. The 5 Against The House album was actually a reasonably commercial piece, it’s two singles both extraordinary statements on intent. ‘Lady Left This’ the sort of jittery punk-funk that became all the rage circa 2005, and ‘Montezuma’ the sort of cool-as-ice wiry goth-rock that has repetitive Morse code beeps that will either intice or infuriate.

The sole Attrition track ‘Feel The Backlash’ could be a knowing reference to the music papers power of the time, it’s Human League/Heaven 17 electronic starkness – easy to admire/harder to love – form revealing a gentler side to the famous Novak bark. Mercurical finishes with three side projects – tracks that ended up on various tapes, etc. rather than fully-fledged 12″ singles. ‘Definitive Item’ is close the the VFT template, but it’s the filthy-minded cinematic quoting ‘Vox Kunst’ from 1994 that is most intriguing, the sort of off-piste no-holds-barred experimental pop that is actually a great romp.

Perhaps it is time for a rethink as to where the band and the singer fits into the cosmic scheme of things. Alex Novak shows over Mercurial’s eighty minutes the ability to shape-shift through numerous styles of music, whilst simultaneously remaining true to his unique “dystopian sci-fi” vision that was forged during those early art-school days. The VFT may never have achieved [hometown contemporaries] Bauhaus-style levels of fame, but the music is frequently on a par, and certainly covers more ground. Simple twists of fate, etc. For anyone interested in post-punk and ’80s-style electronica this compilation rewards in spades, and is a great testament to what a little inspiration and a lot of hard graft and perseverance achieves.

Phil Moore

Mercurial is released on CD and DL on Friday May 8th, see the Bandcamp link below.


Q&A with Alex Novak

How easy was it to narrow your 40-year career into 20 tracks? What did a track have to do to make the grade? 
We pushed how much you could fit onto a CD to the limit; 80 minutes of music all in. I stuck pretty much to the singles/main tracks from the various bands. It’s a taster for people to then go on and delve further into the catalogue, and we’re in the process of re-issuing The Venus Fly Trap albums. Mars [the first album] was re-issued last year by Glass Modern. A bit of going full circle, as they had released Religious Overdose and Tempest material in the early to mid eighties. In the last few years most of my previous bands have had material compiled. Hopefully later this year we will be re-issuing VFT’s second and third albums Totem and Pandora’s Box via Glass too.

What period do you look back on most fondly? Your mid-’80s pomp of being in demand in Europe/playing Hammersmith Palais/appearing on all these LPs must have been a hoot.
There has been many VFT periods/eras as the line-up has changed many times, each bringing a new angle and experiences. This gives the band a different dynamic. Mars-era gigs in France, playing Paris, we played with The Mission in Deptford’s ‘Crypt’ [actually under a church!], and at Alice In Wonderland [clubnight of Dave Vanian of The Damned]. Early 90s Totem/Pandora’s Box-era saw first gigs in Germany and Belgium. On one tour we played in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Austria and then made our first trips to Czechslovakia, where we recorded a live album in Prague. By Luna Tide we recorded the album in Bonn, Germany. Many tours of Belgium and Germany, and our first visit to Poland.
We were working more in an electronic direction with Martin Bowes of Attrition as producer for 1997s Dark Amour, and played festivals in Warsaw and a castle in Bolkow with New Model Army. We played the Lumous Festival in Finland at midnight – with the sun still shining.
There was no “pomp” – the 1980s were a bit of a rollercoaster, having gone through Religious Overdose, Tempest, and Attrition, before settling with The Venus Fly Trap. It was a bit frustrating building something and then it falls apart. A lot more could have been achieved if we had capitalised on the interest. But I have managed to get VFT to keep going long enough so there is enough interest in releasing older material. Maybe all this will be re-assessed, listened to with fresh ears, put into context as a whole body of work.

In musical culture today there’s much nostalgia for the 1990s. Whats your memory of those times? Where they halycon days?
It is strange that VFT is considered an “80s band” – we produced two albums in the late-’80s and then four in the ’90s, and also toured more later. It is interesting, peoples perception. Certainly the early ’90s was a diverse period musically, there was loads of good alternative and indie music around. Plenty of gigs, venues, and magazines, and a definite return to decent live music, before it melded into more dance influences later in the decade. I certainly was trying  more electronic-orientated material in the mid-90s, via the projects Nova State Conspiracy [with Simon Coleby, the Marvel Comics illustrator], The Den [with Tim Perkins, who was Alan Moore’s musical collaborator], and Spore [with Micky Muddiman, the dance producer]. Maybe it was a portent as to what was going to happen with VFT…

Is it fair to say the current VFT line-up with Andy Denton has given you the best expression of your sound?
Myself and Andy have produced four albums – Dark Amour, Zenith, Nemesis, and Icon. It is probably VFT’s most consistent and productive period. As we have worked together I think our writing and production has improved, and this has made us into a compelling act. It’s a tight sound, but we’re more relaxed, giving the performances a bit more edge. To get where you are you have to try different things, it’s a process. I learnt to carry on regardless, rather than waste the work/time that has been done. Make do, mend and move on.

What is there left to do for VFT?
Plugging Mercurial! We had gigs in May to coincide with the release, but I have re-learnt that old phrase “always expect the unexpected”, or even a quote from War Of The Worlds – “the chances are a million to one, yet they come…”. So long as it doesn’t get all biblical, raining frogs etc. We shall be back doing gigs in September. We shall see everyone on the other side, be seeing you…

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Live review: THUMPER | Tragic | Deaf Trap

THUMPER + TRAGIC + DEAF TRAP The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes March 2nd 2020 This is a dreamy line-up for alt-rock fans. The new hurricane on the block from Dublin,…

THUMPER + TRAGIC + DEAF TRAP
The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
March 2nd 2020

This is a dreamy line-up for alt-rock fans. The new hurricane on the block from Dublin, plus two of Northampton’s finest noisy pups. Your reporter did not let it being a Monday night stop the rock, though a sparse crowd reflects other didn’t feel the same way. Your loss, mothers.

Deaf Trap have swiftly become something of a staple amongst the NN scene; admittedly not gigging that often, but always putting in the whole nine yards in their pursuit of sweaty good times. It’s great to see them cross county lines for a change, and they open things magnificently here. With tunes as good as ‘From The Floor’ and ‘Real Nice Night’ it’s always a pleasure to experience their set.

Tragic are very easy to wax superlatively about. The teenagers from Northampton have brought a vigour to the East Midlands music world that could put the energy companies out of business. They positively burst at the sinews to wring every inch of meaning from their instruments, and their manic energy is ever-present tonight. Previewing upcoming single ‘PIG’ alongside last year’s modern-day grunge-punk classics ‘Sloppy Kiss’, ‘Sammy Set His Bed On Fire’ and ‘Walking’. Their melodic skill is perhaps their secret weapon, creeping up on you through the swampy fuzz. And “England is full of scared little boys” feels a very apt lyric for the current state of the nation. Move over slowthai, someone’s coming for your crown.

THUMPER are Dublin’s widescreen screechers of the faith. Never less than fully committed, the six-piece [two drummers and three guitarists, obviously] are treading the noise-pop line of contemporaries IDLES, Fontaines DC, Girl Band, King Gizzard etc but bringing enough of their own personality to proceedings to make them no mere imitators. New single ‘Ad Nauseam’ is a deep rumination on empty ships making the loudest noise. Singer Oisin Furlong is a proper frontman, looking into our very souls for an answer to something, and dealing with mundane broken strings with aplomb. The band never let up for a second, locking into their well-worked groove with motorik precision. Furlong’s foray into the crowd late into the set says “we are you” more than any clever soundbite could. And with ‘In My Room’ and ‘Down’ they’ve started their career with songs others still can’t match after many years of trying. In an increasingly dystopian world we should perhaps let these Irish men lead us to eternal salvation. When music is as joyous as this you can’t help but catch it now and spread it around.

Words: Phil Moore. Photos: David Jackson

 

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Oct 30th – Nov 5th

TRACK NOT FOUND + TRAGIC Thursday October 31st The Lab, Northampton Two-piece grunge/riot grrl punk outfit all the way from Guernsey to enliven Halloween in ShoeTown. Support from fast-rising teenage…

TRACK NOT FOUND + TRAGIC
Thursday October 31st
The Lab, Northampton
Two-piece grunge/riot grrl punk outfit all the way from Guernsey to enliven Halloween in ShoeTown. Support from fast-rising teenage punks with songs to excite. Doors 7pm, free entry

NEEDLE IN THE HAY
Friday November 1st
The Lab, Northampton
Leicester art-rock duo who have been busy crafting their new album Worldviews. Doors 8pm, £3 entry

BREWER + BLOOD-VISIONS + TRAGIC
Friday November 1st
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
East London punks headline this basement show, with NTown’s finest shouters also along for the ride. Doors 8pm, free entry

CONFESSIONS OF A TRAITOR + CALIBURN + STEREO SKULL + PRIMAL HOLOCAUST
Friday November 1st
Raff’s Bar, Wellingborough
A night of NN hardcore and death-metal in support of London headliners, who play tracks from their excellent third album Guided. Doors 7pm, £6 tickets

THE BIG DIRTY + AIDEN HATFIELD + CRAWLSPACES + TORUS
Saturday November 2nd
The Black Prince, Northampton
The “Creep it real” Halloween Party, featuring tasty riffs from the NTown rockers, alt-rock from the Leeds-born singer behind ‘In Music We Trust’, local five-piece pop-punk/emo band, and an electrifying new MK trio. After-party disco in the front bar too! Doors 7.30pm, £4.50 tickets

THE MEMBRANES + DIABLOFURS + FAMILY OF NOISE
Saturday November 2nd
The Talisman, Corby
The John Robb-fronted post-punks return has been quite stunning, their 26 year break followed by their best-received album, Dark Matter/Dark Energy. Plus suitable punk and post-punk supports. Doors 7.30pm, £11.50 tickets

HAZEYJANE
Saturday November 2nd
HMV, Kettering
The local quartet bring their ambient folk sound to Kettering’s prime music retail outlet venue. 5pm, free entry

EVADE ESCAPE + RXPTRS + WHEN WE WAKE + THRIFT STREET
Sunday November 3rd
The Black Prince, Northampton
The co-headline alt-rock/metal tour descends onto ShoeTown, with support from those Bedford giants and NTown pop-punks. Going to be quite a night apparently, ticket sales are HIGH. Doors 7pm, £6 tickets

KENNETH J NASH + HUMBLEBEE
Sunday November 3rd
The Hare & Hounds, Great Addington
The Hare and Hounds has new landlords, and the Wildfire Sessions Acoustic Open Mic continues.  Host STEVIE JONES welcomes acoustic acts to come and open up proceedings. Doors 4pm, free entry

Y&T + ELECTRIC MARY
Tuesday November 5th
The Roadmender, Northampton
California hard rock band formed in 1974. Many of the biggest acts of the ’80s became popular opening for the powerhouse quartet. Y&T have sold over four million albums, and their hits are still played on VH1 Classic and Classic Rock radio stations worldwide. With the passing of Kennemore, Haze, and Alves, it’s Meniketti who carries on their legacy. Support from the Australian quintet. Doors 7pm, tickets £18.50

 

 

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Interview: THUMPER

THUMPER are the Dublin band everyone’s talking about, delivering bubblegum pop through a wall of sonic death. With a reputation for raucous and frenzied live shows and penchant for howling…

THUMPER are the Dublin band everyone’s talking about, delivering bubblegum pop through a wall of sonic death. With a reputation for raucous and frenzied live shows and penchant for howling feedback and pounding rhythm, each show is an exercise in unpredictability. ‘Out of Body Auto-Message’ is the first studio record, produced by Dan Fox (Girl Band). In this new phase, THUMPER step away from their early days of lo-fi bedroom recordings into a more widescreen effort – without losing any of the grit that defined the early material.

The band are consistently topping the “Ones To Watch” lists, touring relentlessly – headlining Hard Working Class Heroes well, joining Fangclub on a national tour, playing their first UK show at a sold-out Shacklewell Arms. Following this year’s festival packed summer they hit the road this month with seven back-to-back dates in established music venues of major UK cities. And Northampton [we lucked out there, huh].

New Boots spoke to singer Oisin Leahy Furlong about what makes THUMPER tick.

How  did you guys get together?
THUMPER started off as a solo bedroom recording project in 2015. I recorded three extremely lo-fi and gnarly EPs myself and distributed them around Dublin. After deciding to tour the songs a bit, THUMPER gradually morphed into the band you see today.

Growing up, who gave you the “eureka” moment?
There’s been a few eureka moments for sure. Hearing Nirvana and Sonic Youth for the first time was definitely an awakening. Being exposed to Jeffrey Lewis and the Moldy Peaches, and other NY anti-folk stuff was a big thing for me also. The warts-n-all approach they took to mining poetry out of mundane situations was a game changer. When I heard Parquet Courts and King Gizzard, though. That was when I literally turned around and said “I have to start a band”.

Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital, you. This jugular music is a thrilling addition to the music scene. Can you begin to pinpoint why this “voice of Ireland” moment is happening now?
I’m not sure either of the bands mentioned set out with the intentions of being an authentic voice of anything. We’ve all played shows together before any sort of attention was being payed, and the only goal was to be an authentic voice for yourself. There’s always been and still is undiscovered artists here with just as much vitality as anything the heavy hitters are producing, just have to keep your ear to the ground.

Is the spirit amongst the rock bands in Dublin collegiate; “high tides raise all ships” type of idea?
There’s such a vibrant scene in Dublin and Ireland at the minute that there’s no cookie cutter mentality in terms of careerism or competition. But the one thing that is true of all these bands is that the standard of music being created is booming. I don’t think this can be chalked up to rising to meet industry interest, it’s more so the quality of the records that are being put out is so fucking inspiring you can’t help but walk away inspired to aim higher.

Three guitar-players and two drummers is taking things to the limit. What’s the appeal?
Once you go two drummers you won’t go back! We never put much thought into it being a novelty, it just always felt right for us. We’ve a large sound, we’d be selling our audience short if we had any less people on stage [but bring earplugs!]

Describe your live show in five words or less.
Six boys get very weird.

This is your first tour of the UK – exhilarated by that idea right now?
Very much looking forward to meeting the real humans that our Spotify numbers represent, and making a night of it.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The Murder Capital’s debut [When I Have Fears]. Stunning piece of work.

What can we expect from the THMUPER debut album?
The goal is to subvert all expectations while giving you exactly what you hoped for.

THUMPER play The Black Prince on Wednesday September 25th.

THUMPER Facebook

THUMPER Spotify

cover photo by Keith Currams

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Album review: Nina Harries

NINA HARRIES Nina Harries [self-released] If you have not already had the good fortune to be acquainted with Nina Harries, let New Boots introduce you. Nina is a British double…

NINA HARRIES
Nina Harries [self-released]

If you have not already had the good fortune to be acquainted with Nina Harries, let New Boots introduce you. Nina is a British double bassist and vocalist hailing from Northampton. She comes from a family of musicians, she trained in western classical music for four years at the Royal College of Music under double bass professor Enno Senft of the London Sinfonietta. In the last two years of her degree at the RCM she began to work as a soloist and band bassist for several acts from the London band scene, namely The Burning Glass, John Fairhurst Trio, Barbarella’s Bang Bang, Symphonica Feat DJ Switch and the London Electronic Orchestra.

At this point Nina also began to discover a love for solo performance, and began to experiment with performing a mix of original and cover songs using only double bass and voice. She fits nicely under the ‘dark folk’ genre, but also brings with her some flavours of rock, trip-hop and EDM. She has a fantastic range – massive respect for hitting those real low notes – and her vocals appear different on every track, whilst still managing to maintain her own ‘Nina style’.

Each perfectly-formed song on Nina Harries has new, fresh influences, when compared to the previous track. You can never be sure where she will go next. The album was recorded with producer and engineer Peter Miles at his studio Middle Farm Studios in Devon, and has an overall feel of the later albums by Nico or more modern styles like music by This Is The Kit.

The album starts with a slow build and absorbs you in with ‘Heavy Doubt’, which does what it says on the tin, perfectly reflecting the feeling of doubt in the mind, but even if this is not your thing do not rest here. There are two stand-out tracks on the album, and the second track ‘Lose Yourself’ is definitely one of them. With its faster-paced rhythm and the way she bends the opening notes on the bass is reminiscent of Mick Karn from Japan. Accompanied with Nina rapping in unison, she is absolutely nailing the experience of being a woman in a male dominated musical genre. It is an immediate ‘add to play list’ moment.

Track three ‘Icarus’ has an eastern vibe and once again has a slow build; at 8 minutes 34 seconds it is the longest track on the album, but is well worth the investment of time. At this point in the album she could have gone anywhere, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. This track captivated me, in the same way The Doors captivated me with The End. It is truly mesmerising, sit back, relax and enjoy. ‘Will; I’m Not’ is a collaboration with the album producer Peter Miles, and sticking to the view that the bass and vocals can do anything and go anywhere, Nina moves into the zone of EDM dance music. Re-enforcing the fact that she has the skills to do what ever she wants, in whatever genre she sees fit.

On ‘O’Lothsome Day’ and ‘Pendle Hill’ her vocals have a slight ASMR quality as the album moves back to her dark folk and gothic rock roots. The second stand-out track is ‘One Hard Task’, an alternative rock track which hooks you in immediately and sounds so perfectly formed. Along with ‘Lose Yourself’ they are the “check out Nina Harries” songs from this album. The final track ‘Int;;Ext;;Int;;Ext;; / Butterfly’ is a beautiful conclusion to the album moving back to the EDM-style and includes the piano, bass and of course the superb ethereal vocals of Nina.

I think it is fair to say that you cannot and should not underestimate this lady, you cannot take her for granted. This album will move you through a rainbow of sounds and is deeply captivating. But just like the butterfly, do not attempt to try to pin her down: she will sit with you, but she cannot be boxed. She is on a mission to explore all the realms available to her musical craft, and to create new ones. She is certainly one to pay attention to.

Lisa Eversden

Nina Harries is out September 13th [order vinyl and CD here]. The album launch show is the same day at Hoxton Hall.

https://www.ninaharries.com

[cover photo by Joe Brown]

 

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New Music Friday: We Are Giants

Northampton trio We Are Giants, with the huge sound and quirky style, keep coming up with the goods. Following last years well-received debut album The Empire they are back with…

Northampton trio We Are Giants, with the huge sound and quirky style, keep coming up with the goods. Following last years well-received debut album The Empire they are back with new single ‘Respond’. Time to ch-ch-chat…

How did you guys get together?
We first started in mid-2015, originally connecting through adverts on joinmyband.com. Our first gig was on NYE of that year. We started off as a four-piece playing softer rock and practising in Griffs lounge, but soon found our heavier sound and transitioned into a trio. Alex came on board as a WAGlad [and drummer] last summer. We play together as good friends and because of our passion for writing and playing original rock music.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
This is the question that usually throws people off! Our sound is heavy modern rock but with gritty vocals rather than any screaming. That being said….Griff can sing quite beautifully as well. Our influences range from Alexisonfire, old-school Biffy Clyro, Don Broco and Press to Meco and we certainly think that you can hear a little bit of each of those bands in our tunes.

What was the reaction like to The Empire?
Lee’s Nan loved the artwork but not so much the music. Being serious, it’s tough being a small unsigned originals rock band, and unless you’re pumping money into pushing your stuff it’s difficult to get heard. That’s why it’s always fantastic when people grab a CD from us at gigs or stumbling across us on the streaming platforms. BBC Introducing has also played some tracks off of The Empire, which is cool! We’re proud of the songs that we’ve created and recorded together, and if nothing comes from it then at least we’ve had some good times doing it all and have something for our grandkids to listen to [and hate].

Tell us about this new song, ‘Respond’.
‘Respond’ was written by all three of us pretty much as soon as Alex came on board. Griff came up with the riff at 1am when we were all pissed, and we never looked back. We recorded the song at the WAG studio and had a great time adding all of the layers….especially the ukulele in the breakdown! When it was time to release the song, we thought about ideas for a music video and being the lazy bastards we are, we decided to stand in front of a green screen and shoot a one take dancing video…..but it turned out great! It seems that when we run out of ideas we always turn to the comedy, crazy costumes, green screen video approach. We probably did the main video in one take but also created five or six bonus clips that we released before the launch and those probably took the most time because we were laughing so much! Recording and shooting videos is the most fun part of being in a band for us because we get to have a laugh and record whatever idea pops into our heads.

What are your live shows like?
We like to have fun and bring energy to the stage, it’s usually a weekend so why would we want to be all serious and moody? Crowd wise, it’s always hit or miss. We’ve played some absolutely insane gigs, and also played to practically no one on many occasions. Our proudest moment has to be when we were runners up in MK11’s battle of the bands competition, but we won the best bassist and guitarist award. We also got a cool support slot for a CJ Ramone gig from that show.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
We’ve had the opportunity to play with 100s of bands in 10s of venues in our brief history. We’ve made great friends playing shows in Northants and always enjoy playing at The King Billy, The Roadmender and the cool pubs in Daventry. These days there are a lot of gigs where the majority of the crowd is the bands that are on the line-up, so it’s important to drop the egos, have a beer and enjoy each other’s show.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Shooting the music video for our next single…coming out soon! The video was soooo much fun to film and we hope that comes across on camera. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details soon on that.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Lee – Biffy Clyro Balance Not Symmetry
Alex – Press To Meco Here’s To The Fatigue
Griff – Acoda Truth Seeker

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
We have a new single coming out soon with an awesome video to match. We think that this is possibly our best work to date so we’re excited to release it! After that we’re just going to focus on having a good time being in a band: whether that’s working on new tracks, jamming or recording and shooting video content. We’re not ruling out the odd live show but we live busy lives and the rewards for the time, effort and money that you put into playing shows is slim, but that’s cool….we have a laugh together and do what we want, when we want.

Respond is out now

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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: Broken Empire

Broken Empire are rockers from the Towcester and Oxford area. Ieuan Owen is on vocals, Matt Stevens on guitar, Marco Arena on bass, and Ricky Hill on drums. New Boots…

Broken Empire are rockers from the Towcester and Oxford area. Ieuan Owen is on vocals, Matt Stevens on guitar, Marco Arena on bass, and Ricky Hill on drums. New Boots celebrates their recent two singles by asking them what them tick in our patented in-depth conversation/interview.

How did you guys get together?
Ricky Hill: In 2017 Ben [band manager] put out an advert online about starting a new band project and that we require a guitarist, bass player and vocals. Matt got in contact and we had a jam together which just clicked straight away. A few months after that we found Marco and we knew he would fit perfectly. After starting to put together a few complete songs we found Ieuan. His influences on the songs we had roughly written was spot on for what we were looking for.
Marco Arena: I remember it was one day before my birthday! The day before I had a chat with Ben, and he asked me if I was available to join the guys for a jam the next day!

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Ieuan Owen: I’d describe our sound as hard rock/metal, although we don’t tend to fit into a set subgenre. We’re a very riff driven band!
Matt Stevens: Our sound is modern but with plenty of influences from history. It’s a sweeping range of bands from Killswitch Engage to Alter Bridge, and I personally like throwing in Petrucci and Jason Becker touches.
Ricky Hill: Personally my main influences are Alter Bridge, Disturbed, Periphery, Tremonti…the list could go on and on! I think our sound reflects on all of our influences and creates a great combination of heavy metal and hard rock.

What was the reaction like to your self-titled EP from last year?
Ieuan Owen: The reaction was exceptional. Considering it was recorded quickly just to get it out there, it has exceeded our expectations, and the songs themselves are still largely staples in our set!
Ricky Hill: I was blown away from the reaction that we have received for our EP. It definitely helped having a lot of online radio stations playing it, which gave us a wider audience, and as for the streams on Spotify I think it’s done extremely well for a self promoted and produced EP.
Marco Arena: As a new, self promoted band in the music scene I would say we got really decent feedback from our previous record. Hopefully it’s going to be even better in the future! Fingers crossed!
Matt Stevens: The reaction was awesome as we self promoted, and over several months picked up almost 20,000 streams across the record. Really appreciate the promotions from local radio and online radio stations and Facebook reviewers.

Tell us everything about these new singles, ‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’.
Ricky Hill: ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ is definitely the most commercial out of the two I’d say: quick fast, short and punchy with meaningful lyrics – which of course can be interpreted in different ways and would mean different things to different people. ‘No More Light’ has a touch of our heavy side but still stays true to our sound, both portraying the battle people have with mental struggles.
Matt Stevens: From a music standpoint we wanted ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ to be in your face, make you listen and keep driving all the way to the end. ‘No More Light’ goes through a range of emotions, from steady rhythms to staccato, to minor/major feels and dark dissonant sections to really portray the difficulties people suffer internally.
Ieuan Owen: Both of these singles are fun to play, and to listen to. Both are lyrically coming from the battles people struggle with, a war of the mind as such, and I hope that people who delve into the lyrics can find there own meaning, for whatever hits home for them.

What are your live shows like?
Matt Stevens: Our live shows are all about the music; we focus on making the sound and the tracks as good as possible so people will want to listen!
Ricky Hill: Full of high energy and definitely keeps people interested throughout. We all have a unique stage presence and this definitely comes across when we’re playing live. Come and see us and find out for yourselves!
Ieuan Owen: They are fun, and as a band we pride ourselves on being tight and polished live. We enjoy performing and hopefully it shows.
Matt Stevens: We try as much as we can to have the most similar sound that you can hear when you listen to our studio songs. We also used to add some live intros and some interludes in our live show which you can’t find in the studio songs.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire, playing with like- minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
Marco Arena: O2 Academy Oxford is a cool venue for sure! Stormbringer is definitely a band that I would gladly play again with. Which is good as we are playing with them again very soon!
Ricky Hill: We play at a variety of venues with loads of different bands. It’s always good to get gigs with similar bands so that the energy is in the room throughout the night. But equally playing with different bands is just as good. Playing at the O2 Academy Oxford was amazing but I really enjoy playing at small, intimate venues as well – one of my favourites being Fat Lil’s, Witney.
Matt Stevens: Northants and Oxford are doing a lot to support rock music. Of course things could always be better, but there’s a lot of dedication from the rock promoters out there. Dedicated rock venues are always killer.
Ieuan Owen: Some of our favourite venues are The Wheatsheaf in Banbury, Fat Lils in Witney, and Wheatsheaf in Oxford. I personally enjoy going to local and larger gigs as and when I can, inspiration and influence can come from anywhere! Stormbringer were probably my favourite band to play with so far, they are such nice guys, and our music fitted well together. We’ll always enjoy gigs supporting them!

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Ieuan Owen: Probably headlining the 02 Academy, because not only was it awesome to do, but we didn’t feel out of place being there!
Ricky Hill: Marco deciding to set fire to someone else’s bass amp on stage – albeit not his fault, but still a hilarious moment.
Matt Stevens: Marco showing us what is under the hood! You won’t see him without a hat.
Marco Arena: Playing the Finals of Metal 2 The Masses was probably my top moment!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Ricky Hill: Of Mice and Men – Restoring Force: Full Circle
Ieuan Owen: Reverence by Parkway Drive – can’t get enough of that album!
Marco Arena: Pantera discography. (I felt a bit nostalgic!)
Matt Stevens: Twelve Foot Ninja – Outlier

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Matt Stevens: Download Festival main stage with a three-part harmonised solo with Jason Hook, Mark Tremonti and Matt Stevens!
Marco Arena: Trying to share a stage with Alter Bridge would be pretty good!
Ricky Hill: Would love to play some big festivals and just generally get our name out there a bit more to a wider audience. Would be amazing to record a live session in a world famous studio and if I’m not asking too much, then maybe go on tour with Alter Bridge as well! Loads of gigs coming up and plenty of recording happening though so who knows what the future holds for Broken Empire.
Ieuan Owen: In the future we hope to play further away, as well as bigger local shows. We’d love to do a small tour of some sort should we get the chance. But one step at a time, we’re proud of how far we’ve already come!

‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ are out now via the usual digital platforms

 

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