Interview – Gork

If you were a garage-psych band from another planet with a predilection for cabbages, where else would you make your Earth home other than in Bristol? In a fortuitous turn of events, local labels Breakfast Records and Leisure Records have taken sextet Gork under their wings to release the band’s latest EP Class. You may find out more about the band here; at the very least you’ll find out more about tea towels and dressing up…

You’ve got a new EP out called Class, what’s the thinking behind the title?

It’s because it’s class mate.

The lead single That’s Plastic Mate is an ode to recycling, was it written with consideration of the climate change protests seen over the past year?

We live in a plastic world and it’s hard to avoid. The last year has seen an increased awareness of these issues and people are starting to change their habits but, if you’re not careful, you too could become a Evian bottle.

You’ve released Class on cassette and on a tea towel. Tea towels aren’t commonly used to distribute music, what made you opt for that particular washing up aid?

Not everyone has a deck or a cassette or CD player but pretty much everyone has a kitchen. We don’t want anyone to be left out, ya know?

You seem to enjoy playing around with a variety of sounds and instruments. Can you reveal some of the inspirations behind your creativity, perhaps those that are a little unexpected or unusual?

Recorders are a firm favourite, they can just sound so frantic when blasted. Also a selection of old Casio keyboards, the worse the sound the better they are.

I’ve heard that you enjoy raiding the dressing up box before performing, what’s been a personal favourite item that’s been worn on stage?

Our go to is the over-sized suit, but I recently enjoyed wearing a bin-man’s overalls found at a Sheffield market for £2. But perhaps the favourite is the chef outfit complete with Toque (big tall chef hat).

Much of what Gork produces seems to have a distinct sense of surreal humour – how do audiences usually respond to this, and what would be ideal Gork audience response?

People usually just don’t have a clue what’s going on which is great, the more freaked out the better. An audience that is up for it , and goes along with everything we throw at them, cabbage included, is super!

In your Bandcamp description you mention the inner small clown in all of us, and how your band has set it free and made it king – is there anyone of note in the public eye whose ‘inner clown’ you’d like to see freed?

100% Nicki Minaj ,she’s been papped a few times wearing a red nose but has always been shy to take the next step – I think she can do it.

And what can people expect to see from Gork in 2020?

New recordings, new faces, new videos, new instruments, new shoes…

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Class is out now on Breakfast Records/Leisure Records – you can watch the video for That’s Plastic Mate below and order the cassette or, more likely, the tea towel here.

 

Interview by Ryan Bell

5th December 2019

Interview – Health&Beauty

With songs full of powerful, turbulent tunes and chilled, floating melodies, Health&Beauty’s new album Shame Engine / Blood Pleasure is released into the world today. The Chicago band, led by founder Brian J Sulpizio, has featured a cast of acclaimed musicians over the years. We asked how things have changed and what to expect from their latest offering…

Shame Engine / Blood Pleasure will be your 7th studio album – how has your approach to making music changed over the years?

Well I’ve gotten better, haha. I’ve been working on all the aspects of music I’m engaged in at the same time, more or less. My approach changes with pretty much every record; I’m usually not interested in saying the same thing twice. I’m mostly a guitar player but I’m not like a big ‘guitar’ ‘guy’, you know? That is to say, the thing that is most interesting about music to me has very little to do with guitars. That just happens to be the world we live in – guitars everywhere, raining from the sky, choking you to death. They’re making more guitars every day- can you believe it? I’m sorry, I appear to be having a hard time answering this question.

I try lots of ways to trick myself into making something I haven’t made before. I guess my approach hasn’t really changed, because I’ve never had one, haha. I just write something whenever I have something to say, or maybe something to learn.

The first 2 tracks shared from the album, Rat Shack and Recourse, are musically fairly emotive and intense – is there a thread that links all the songs?

Recourse almost didn’t make the album. It seemed to me that it didn’t really fit with the other songs. But I sort of imagine the trajectory of the record as moving from a sense of hopelessness to a sense of hope. And Recourse fits in that sense. I think of this record as more of a document of a period of personal devastation, growth and development, more than a record with some kind of tight objective to present to listeners. Other records I’ve made I’ve wanted to say something specific… maybe this one is more like trying to listen to myself, to gain some kind of perspective.

A few of the tracks hit the 10 minute mark – how do you know when each piece of music is finished?

Well in Saturday Night and Love Can Be Kind we see the band stretching out a bit. We all get space to define ourselves there as we would like to be. Those songs can be performed in 4 minutes or 40. (Don’t worry we won’t ever do 40, haha.) Clown is 10 minutes because that’s how long it took to say the thing I needed to say with that song.

Tell us about the Chicago music scene…

Chicago’s great. Lots of excellent performers and writers. It’s a major market so almost any US tour will stop in Chicago, so you get stuff from all over the world and a great pool of people to play with in town. There’s a bit of a self-hating element to the city but I think even that is changing as new generations come on the scene.

Who else have you been listening to lately that you’d recommend?

Kendra Amalie’s new record on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond is fantastic. Her older record Thankful is also great. I’ve loved her music for a long time; glad others are starting to hear. I’m on tour right now with JR Bohannon, his new one is a ripper. Low’s record from last year really hit me hard; love it! Lina Tullgren is up to cool things and is fantastic to see perform, solo or with a band. My partner Whitney Johnson, who does the Matchess project, is in a duo project with Natalie Chami called Damiana; their record should be out soon and it will blow your mind. The end-of-year holidays are coming soon so definitely also check out the Blowfly Christmas record.

Aside from the album what’s been noteworthy in 2019 for you?

My favourite thing about 2019 has been identifying some cultural artefact or trend from the 20th century and saying “twenty” and then whatever that year was. For example, we might be impeaching our president soon, and they did that before in 1998, so you might say “twenty nineteen ninety-eight!” Or like I have a friend who thought Lack sounded like the late 1960s, so he goes, “Twenty nineteen sixty-eight!”

Something very noteworthy for me this year has been the remission of a lot of negative feelings I had for a long time. I attribute this to being in talk therapy and would encourage basically anyone to get into therapy.

And what’s next for Health&Beauty?

Not playing many shows in Chicago next year, but we’re going to get started recording again right away while also touring periodically. I’m fooling around with Ableton a bit. Maybe I will trade in my guitar for a faster computer for Ableton. I also really enjoy recording and/or mixing other people’s records so I hope to continue doing that.

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Shame Engine / Blood Pleasure is out today on Wichita Recordings. You can catch up with Health&Beauty here and watch the video for Recourse below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR, band shot © Alexa Viscius

22nd November 2019 

Interview – The Howlers

Perfectly fusing the haunting refrains of the Wild West with guitar and drum laden desert rock, The Howlers release their latest single Matador today. We caught up with vocalist Adam to find out what’s been happening for the band and what’s in store…

For anyone not familiar with The Howlers, give us a quick introduction – who’s in the band and how did you all get together?

So the band is just myself (Adam), Cam on the pots and pans and Guus on the big guitar, we all met in London whilst at university and it just clicked. Myself and Guus had been knocking about since day 1 jamming tunes I was writing and trying to find a bass player as Guus was originally on the kit, and then I met up with Cam in Shepherds Bush and the rest, as they say, is history – a very short history, but history nonetheless.

Since you formed you’ve established a great live reputation – is that important to you and what’s the best thing about playing live?

From the very first time we got in a room together and started practising and writing, it was always about being the best live band in the capital. We gigged so much over the first year as a band that we didn’t rehearse for 8 months and perfected our stage presence that way making sure we were loud and intense on stage as we are only a 3 piece but, after all the ferocity on stage, we are really quiet chilled out. Beforehand, its all about enjoying what we do, we give each other a big hug before and a big hug after each show, we are really self-critical and can sometimes be overly harsh on ourselves but I guess that just shows what it means to each of us up there.

Tell us about your new single Matador…

I’ve been describing it as Clint Eastwood’s Fila tracksuit and I think that’s all that needs to be said; its a natural progression from La Dolce Vita.

Any plans for an album?

We do but not quite yet,  We’ve got a lot we want to achieve before we retreat back out to the Midlands’ countryside and start grafting on our debut LP.

You’ve been getting a fair amount of airplay from well respected DJs and stations – what’s it like hearing yourselves on the radio, does it spark lots of new interest?

To be honest, most of the time we never hear ourselves on the radio. The first few times it was a bit surreal especially the R1 debut; me and Guus sat in the garden of the Shacklewell Arms in London just after a Sheafs’ gig with a pint and a headphone in each listening to it. I’ve had 1 or 2 times I’ve been driving and heard us come on the radio but in all honesty I tend to change the channel, I think it’s really self indulgent if you enjoy listening to yourself. It defo has pricked a lot of ears up and made people sit up and go, ‘Oh right, these boys mean business then’, especially in London where it’s so competitive and cliquey.

If you could choose anyone at all who would you like to hear covering one of your songs?

William Onyeabor 100% – could you imagine that cover?

And what’s next for you, what are your plans till the end of the year and into 2020?

More releases, more writing, more gigs, what more do you want from a band? We’ve been writing some of the best stuff we have ever written recently so we are really excited to get it out there, we are currently trialling and debuting new tunes as well so if you’re catching us over the rest of this year you’ll hear them…

Released via These Bloody Thieves Records today – you can listen to Matador now and get the latest news and live dates from The Howlers here

Interview and live photos by Siobhan
Header shot © Rob Blackham via The Howlers

1st November 2019

Interview – Hot Shorts

Combining the finest slacker rock with lyrical wit and impressively droll song titles, Manchester four piece Hot Shorts released their new album I Understand and I Wish to Continue on Friday. Intrigued by their tunes and party hats, we had a chat with  Chris from the band to find out more…

For anyone who doesn’t know the band, can you give us a quick intro…

Hi, we are the band Hot Shorts from Manchester, England and consist of Peet (bass and vocals), Lara (drums), Joel (guitar and vocals) and myself, Chris (also guitar and vocals). We started in 2014 and while not exactly a 100% ‘comedy band’ we’re still often motivated by doing things that we find funny (even if nobody else does). Self-sabotage seems to be a recurring theme. Also ‘the internet’.

Tell us about your new album I Understand & I Wish to Continue – how long has it been in the making and what have been the highs and lows of the process?

It’s actually taken quite a while! I’m really bad at working stuff like this out but, according to Bandcamp, our last album came out in November 2016, so yeah, three years?! (Although we only practice like once a week; it wasn’t three years of gruelling twelve-hour days).

I guess the high point was actually recording it in a real studio. Up until this point, we’d just recorded everything ourselves in practice rooms but this time around we booked in five days with Michael Whalley at a studio in Bury called Big City Jacks. He was so lovely and made the whole thing really fun and painless, and yeah, it was such a great time.

I think the low point was probably when I got a sore throat the day before I did my vocals and panicked that I just wouldn’t be able to sing all my bits. (I managed to sing all my bits).

Have to ask about Dorothy, the unassuming star of your recent single My Cat is Gonna Live Forever – how is she coping with the fame and expectations of eternal life?

She seems okay so far. She’s already had a taste of ‘fame’ what with her being the cover star of our first self-titled album too (back when she was a kitten). Cool fact: the LP cover photo of her is pretty much 1:1 scale. But yeah, she’s taking it all in her stride, seemingly. (I haven’t broken it to her that she’s going to the vets for a check up next week though).

You’ve got a few live dates booked in London and Manchester, what can people expect from your shows and when might we see you elsewhere?

We’re hoping to play more gigs in 2020, especially in places that aren’t Manchester. We kind of tried to book a small tour to coincide with the release of the album, but it turns out that booking gigs in new cities is really hard and confusing. But yeah, gonna try again really soon!

Which two artists would you love to tour with, no restrictions?

If I’m allowed to say Nirvana, then I’ll say Nirvana please. If I’m not allowed to say Nirvana, I guess … a holographic Nirvana? And also Mitski who is my favourite artist who is still actually active/alive/etc. So Nirvana and Mitski, supported by the comedy band Hot Shorts. What a confusing and wonderful imaginary tour that would be.

Apart from your upcoming shows, what else is happening on the Manchester music scene that we should look out for?

There’s tons of really great bands in Manchester doing interesting stuff. Off the top of my head I would recommend: Butcher the Bar, Chew Magna, Locean, Playacting, Claw the Thin Ice, Patty Hearst, ILL, Secret Admirer, False Advertising… oh and there’s this band called Grotbags who are alright, I guess?

Plans and hopes for the future?

This is just supposed to be a fun thing really, so the fact that we’ve managed to do anything at all – been asked to play gigs, put out two albums – feels like a bonus to me. That said, I’ve got some riffs and song ideas for a possible third album, so I guess we’ll start working on those? Plus trying to play some more gigs outside of Manchester. And waiting on that call from Mitski’s people…

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I Understand and I Wish to Continue was released on Friday via Icecapades Records

There’s a link to the video for My Cat is Gonna Live Forever in our previous new music feature and you can watch the video for Who Brings a Guitar to a Party? below

More from Hot Shorts right here

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR

29th October 2019

 

Interview – Los Blancos

Steadily creeping out from under the musical radar, Los Blancos released their debut album last month; an impressive collection of songs spanning different genres and past references. Definitely ones to watch, get to know the band a little better here…

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of hearing you yet, tell us a little about Los Blancos…

We’re a 4 piece band from West Wales, we play slacker rock with influences from punk, country and shoegaze

Your album Sbwriel Gwyn was released last month – what’s the story behind it and who deserves a shout out for helping you complete it?

Sbwriel Gwyn is Welsh for ‘white trash’, which is what we often refer to each other as affectionately. It encompasses all sorts of our experiences in recent years from heartache, rural isolation, friendship, alcohol and a love song to a dog. Couldn’t have done it without Gruff from Libertino and Krissy Jenkins, our producer.

There’s a bit of a resurgence in contemporary artists singing in regional languages and accents, how important is it to you to write and sing in Welsh?

It is important but it was also never a conscious decision, it’s not like we were looking to make a political statement. Welsh is what we speak to each other so when we started jamming and writing together the lyrics were just naturally written in Welsh, it would be insincere to try and translate them and they’d lose meaning.


(From the band’s Facebook page)

It feels like there’s a huge range of musical influences on the album, who did you all listen to growing up and what’s the last album you each bought?

We all have different tastes but have common ground in Pavement, Brian Jonestown, Ty Segall… these are artists we were listening a lot to when we started Los Blancos

Last albums:
Dewi – Bodega, Shiny New Model 
Osian – Cage the Elephant, Happy Birthday 
Gwyn – John Prine, Prime Prine 
Emyr – Allah-las, LAHS

What’s your local music scene like – any other artists you’d recommend we should look out for?

Papur Wal, Sybs and Hyll are shit hot

If you could put a copy of Sbwriel Gwyn into any one person’s hands and guarantee they would listen to it, who would you choose?

Idris Elba

And where can we see you live, what are your touring plans for the coming months?

We’ll be playing a tour around Wales, in Cardiff, Cardigan, Wrexham and Caernarfon. We’ve also got a few more gigs in and around Wales as well.

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Sbwriel Gwyn is available now on Libertino Records – there’s a link to the video for the title track in our previous new music feature and you can watch the video for opening single Dilyn Iesu Grist below

More from Los Blancos here

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © The Shoot via One Beat PR

28th October 2019

 

 

 

 

Interview – Tempers

On their new album Private Life, New York based electronica duo Tempers (Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper) step towards darker territory, fusing elements of post-punk, dream pop and industrial music, resulting in what the band have described as a  ‘a successful progression of their cinematic aesthetic into a  moodier and more introspective landscape’. We spoke to them about the inspiration behind the record and its tonal shift, as well as the advantages of being in a two piece…

Your new record Private Life is released today – how does the album process initiate for you? Is it a conscious decision to sit down and start writing, or does it happen more free-flowing and unexpectedly?

Eddie: It’s been different for all three of our albums – Services was so exploratory in the beginning, as we were initially just developing our sound and sense of what we wanted Tempers to be. Then Junkspace was an entirely intentional and defined conceptual project, start to finish. Private Life feels like something in between – the album came from us just continuously writing and recording, our intentions not explicitly stated but with our aesthetic already clearly defined.

You’re releasing the album through Dais Records, what was it that drew you to the label, and how supportive have they been in the production of Private Life?

Eddie: It feels like the diversity of Dais’ roster mirrors the energy spectrum contained within our own music; there’s a vision and coherence to their choices, even though the releases vary quite a bit. That’s something we’ve always cared about within our own sound. The label’s been incredibly supportive – we finished the album before signing with them, and they’ve been on board with all our ideas and choices.

To me, both the first two singles, Capital Pains and Peace of Mind evoke feelings of isolation, envy and dejection. Is there an overarching lyrical ‘theme’ to the album, and musically, what led you to edge towards a darker, more atmospheric sound?

Jasmine: While it is an album exploring intimate and shadowy emotions – there is an over arching political theme to the album, isolation, envy and dejection are all symptoms of the dehumanising aspects of our age. A society that is built on greed, competition and injustice will evoke those feelings collectively. There is a reason why mental illness is such a prevalent issue. I think creating an empathetic space for those emotions is healing and unifying. I don’t think of it as ‘dark’, just reckoning with challenging human emotions we all share, and taking the shame out of it.

Being New York based, I imagine you don’t have to look far for inspiration and motivation. Was that the case for this record? Were there any of your local music contemporaries or geographical factors in New York that assisted in the creation of the album?

Jasmine: It is true that I am constantly fed creative stimulation living in New York city, even walking down the street is a high octave event, and there are fast trends for what is new and innovative, which may or may not be that important in the grand scheme of things. In order to make the most out of it, and not get too distracted or swayed by it all, I’ve created a fortress around my internal space, that I feel a strong need to maintain. It’s like an internal city where I can swim through feelings I can’t put into words, fantasies I would never share with anyone, and where my imagination feels uninhibited. My defense and curiosity for this private space must be a psychic response to my hectic environment – so shaped by the imposition of the city itself. I am very inspired by visual art when writing music, so I spend a lot of time in galleries.

I really like the cover art for Private Life, how did you end up working with the artist Elsa Bleda and what was it about the cover image that made you feel it was the right choice?

Jasmine: We found that image while writing the album, and used it as a kind of visual cue as it said a lot about the themes we were working with. What’s happening in that room, behind the mysterious curtain? We imagined the songs taking place within the privacy of that blue room.

What are some of the positives and negatives about creating music as a duo?

Eddie: Creating music as a duo seems ideal to me, but I guess of course I would say that – we’re so used to working this way that it’s hard at this point for me to imagine being with four other people standing around in a studio working through songs together. Over time we’ve really internalised what each other’s instincts and orientations are, such that we can kind of channel each other during the times when we’re working on sections on our own. The challenge, and this isn’t actually a negative, is that there’s no way to hide – if something’s not working or you’re not feeling it creatively, it’s not really possible to coast along.

Are there any plans to tour in support of the album and, if so, will you be visiting Europe and the UK?

We’ll be in Europe and the UK a lot this winter, putting our tour together as we speak. We’re also playing a few shows in Mexico this fall, which should be really fun…

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You can purchase Private Life and keep an eye on tour dates for Tempers here

Listen to the audio for Peace of Mind below

Interview by Ryan Bell
Photos via One Beat PR, header shot by Sebastian Mlynarski 

25th October 2019

Interview – Night Flowers

Night Flowers have been busy recording their new album, preparing for tour and pushing cars up hills – the new songs are sounding great so we caught up with Greg from the band to find out more…

Your new album Fortune Teller is out on Friday, how long has it taken to write and record and how did you decide which tracks to include?

We started writing Fortune Teller almost as soon as our last album Wild Notion came out, with some songs already well on their way before that. We hung out in Sheffield, where our drummer lives, and ended up tracking it in a few days at a great DIY space called Tye Die Studios. Some songs came together quickly during that time, and one song was actually added really late in the day, and is the original iPhone recording of the first take we did. Originally we were gonna use the recordings for demos but we thought ‘fuck it’ – they had a good feel about them and we wanted to capture that energy this time round.

Tell us about a favourite track that hasn’t been made public yet…

There’s a track called Lotta Love which has a real vibe to it. It’s rare but, if I listen to it, I can dissociate from it and listen to it in a way that’s usually impossible to do when you’ve worked hard on something, and I fucking dig it. We played a real early desk mix to our drummer’s landlord the day we recorded it and he lost his shit, saying it reminded him of a time he and a friend drove through the desert together. Praise indeed.

The video for title track Fortune Teller is shot in 360 surround – it’s pretty disorientating but quite hypnotic to watch, how did it come about and who was involved in the making?

We actually made it ourselves. I borrowed a 360 camera from my work (I was working in a media uni at the time), we hired a beat up old VW Beetle, we stuck it to the roof, dressed up and hit record. The car fully broke down so we had to push it up a hill, and was also set up so low it was literally scraping the ground with the five of us in, making a horrible noise. We didn’t get many takes so we had to make each one count, but people seem to have gotten a kick out of it! The magic of cinema..

There are elements of the album that sound like it would make a great film/TV soundtrack – so which films or TV shows would you like to hear your music played on?

That’s a cool thought. If anyone’s reading this then please approach us, we really need some of that sweet film and TV money. I suppose it’s kind of a mood album, set out on the roads and mostly at night, so anything with that spin would work I think – the obvious ones, Lynch, Fincher, maybe True Detective, etc.. though we’re not kidding ourselves – we’re well aware we have a poppy, ditzy, romantic side that wouldn’t be out of place at the end of an 80s’ teen movie as the credits roll.

In the age of streaming and shuffle-based listening why is it still important to make albums?

I mean, maybe it’s not? It’s entirely possible to take an amazing journey with playlists and stuff, just like we used to with mixtapes. For me, there’s value in both, but I still enjoy giving myself over to a self contained world and vision, with all the hills and valleys an album’s landscape offers and allowing myself to be taken on that journey. If you value an artist, it’s nice to set aside time to soak in their world and see where they’re taking you.

You’re out on the road with LIFE in November, what can we expect at your live shows and if you could add any other band or artist to the bill who would it be?

We sure are – they’re old friends and we love them to bits. We’re pretty different bands but I think any open minded listeners in the crowds should get a kick from both. From us you can expect topless crowdsurfing, Busted style jumps and poetic post-punk riotous anger. Oh wait, hold on…

There are a million dream bands I’d love to play with but I’m trying to think of a band that bridges the gap between us and them nicely… shall we say The Wedding Present?

And what are you up to for the rest of the year and heading into 2020?

I’ve been to the year 2020. Not much has changed but they live under water – and your great, great, great grand-daughter is pretty fine!

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Fortune Teller is released on Dirty Bingo Records on 25th October

You can find more from Night Flowers here; live dates and video for latest single Night Train below

31st Oct – London, Redon
November dates with Life:
2nd – Newcastle, Digital
4th – Stoke on Trent, The Sugarmill
5th – Leicester, The Cookie
8th – Aldershot, West End Centre
10th – Bournemouth, Anvil Rockbar
11th – Brighton, The Green Door Store
12th – Southampton, The Joiners
13th – Tunbridge Wells, The Forum

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo by Frederick Fuller via One Beat PR

22nd October 2019

Live + Interview – Mermaidens at The Hug and Pint

Mermaidens / Velveteen Riot / Bug, The Hug and Pint Glasgow, 23rd September 2019

Ahead of their show in Glasgow, Alan caught up with Mermaidens for a chat about their new album, influences and life on the road…

Your new album, Look Me In The Eye came out a few weeks ago on 6th September, how does it feel now that the album has been released and what’s the feedback and reception been like so far?

Gussie: It feels good! We’ve been so busy that it feels a little surreal.

The album artwork is really impressive, engaging and eye-catching.  What kind of ideas did you have in terms of creating that?

Lily: I made the image for the album artwork. I really wanted it to be this kind of genderless human, that was kind of half formed and you might look at it at different times and see different faces.  It was shot on film with multiple images of our friends’ faces overlaid.

How did James Goldsmith (audio engineer/producer) utilise your sound in the studio? Did he bring out more of your sounds and experimentation?

Abe: Yeah, he’s a really helpful collaborator of ours. We’ve worked with him for around 5 years. It’s been really good to build our relationship with him. He understands what we’re trying to do.
Gussie: This is our third album with him and we made an active decision that he would be producing it.
Lily: We wanted to challenge ourselves as a group, so we wanted to push ourselves and we also wanted him to push himself. We all agreed that would be the direction.
Gussie: It was lucky that we were able to have a lot more time and we could afford to be more experimental.

I noticed you released a special guitar pedal called the ‘Moon Cycle’. Can you tell us a bit more about the creation of the pedal?

Lily: We were recording and throwing some ideas around about some fun things we could do, as we wanted to do something special for the release of the album, so we thought we’d build a guitar pedal. In the recording of the album we were playing heaps of modulation pedals, especially with the guitar tone, so we were like, let’s make a pedal that does that.
Gussie: When we were talking about this idea, I did a quick Google looking for female pedal makers, just out of curiosity, and there’s not very many. That was an interest of ours to work with our friend who makes amps and pedals and is sort of just starting out and we wanted to give her a bit of a platform

(Further details regarding the ‘Moon Cycle’ pedal can be found here)

You’ve been touring Europe for most of the past month and you also visited earlier this year.  Are there any places or venues you’ve really enjoyed visiting on the tour so far?

Abe: Glasgow has been really cool.  We’ve also noticed there’s really good vegan food here!
Gussie: People are really friendly here as well.
Abe: We’ve also really enjoyed being in Europe as well. It feels like we get pampered here, which is quite enjoyable.
Gussie: They really like to show you their local food and local alcohol and they really want to make it a more memorable time, which is special.

When you were starting a band, did you have any particular influences?

Gussie: Lots. We have some crossovers but we have some different music tastes though, which makes for a really unique sound. I think our influences show through in our individual playing style. We definitely had a few particular artists and songs that we used as like a recording inspiration.
Lily: I guess our crossovers, especially between us, are like PJ Harvey, these like strong song writing characters, who maybe stylistically we don’t emulate, but their power really inspires us.
Abe: We like Warpaint a lot, but I think back to the point of us having different music tastes, I think when people ask us what’s our influences, I don’t think we intend to make any type of music, obviously everyone is absorbing music all the time and you’re regurgitating it in some way, we’re not trying to sound like anyone, we’re just making each react to each other.
Gussie: We got introduced to The Slits during this album. That was a really inspiring guitar and listening experience for me.

Have you got any plans for the rest of this year and on to next year?

Gussie: Yep, after the tour we’re going back to New Zealand and we’ll do a small tour to release the album. Then we’re chilling out for a bit – Christmas and stuff.
Lily: Summer holidays, we deserve a little rest and then it’s on to the festival season.
Abe: We’re playing a festival called Laneway.

Would you be quite keen to come back to the UK for festivals?

Definitely. There’s some amazing festivals over here. That’s the hope for next year…

Onto the gig…

Monday at The Hug and Pint – the title of Arab Strap’s fifth album and also the inspiration behind the name of tonight’s venue – The Hug and Pint. Coincidentally, tonight’s gig is also on a Monday.

When entering the venue, you can easily see why it’s spoken of fondly – there’s a welcoming atmosphere and the upstairs area includes a highly rated, award winning kitchen and bar, which has an exclusively vegan menu and plenty of tasty options to feast on. Heading down into the basement where the music venue is located, you’re immediately greeted with lots of posters adorning the walls of upcoming gigs around the Glasgow area, showing the vibrancy of a diverse music scene in the city.

The music begins with a recently formed band called Bug, who set the tone for a great night ahead with their songs about Goblins and other songs so fresh that the titles are still to be decided.

Next up are Velveteen Riot, who blend soft vocals with a crescendo of guitars and drums.  Highlights include a recently released single called Peaches and their fierce set closer Model Girl. They even manage to squeeze in a superb cover of Be My Baby, originally released by The Ronettes.

Mermaidens close the night with a setlist containing songs from all three of their albums. The venue may be small and intimate, but the sound is near perfect and really showcases the in-depth power of Mermaidens’ music. With Gussie Larkin on guitar/vocals, Lily West on bass/vocals, complimented by Abe Hollingsworth on drums, the songs sound excellent in a live setting and tracks from their new album, Look Me In The Eye are particular standouts such as I Might Disappear, Bastards and Millennia.

Concluding their tour with a selection of gigs around the UK and Europe for the remaining dates in September, Mermaidens will then head back to New Zealand to play Laneway Festival in Auckland on 27 January 2020. Judging from tonight’s stellar performance and their catalogue of songs released so far, it won’t be long until Mermaidens are a regular name included on major festival line-ups throughout the world.

For further details regarding Mermaidens’ music and their upcoming gigs, please visit their Bandcamp page. Their record label, Flying Nun Records, are also worth checking out for more great recommendations of music coming out from New Zealand.

Words, interview and photos by Alan Campbell

27th September 2019

Live + Interview – Olympia at Patterns

Olympia / Ciaran Lavery, Patterns Brighton, 11th September 2019

Fast making a name for herself as a respected songwriter and performer, Olympia – aka Olivia Bartley – is back on the road touring worldwide with her new album Flamingo. I caught up with her before her show at Patterns in Brighton and, as well as chatting about the London congestion charge and the lure of the fairground rides on the pier, we talked about her love of music, playing live and creating something new…

How did it all start for you and what keeps you going in the music business?

I loved playing music, I used to download Joni Mitchell tabs off the internet and I would just play. I didn’t know guitar, I’m self-taught and I would just experiment. It was like an itch trying to play what I thought I could hear and that led me here. Now I know a little bit more and it’s like the more you know the less discovery there is so I think what drives me is I’m curious about everything, I still have that sense of discovery, like what if I try this and this and this…

So what happened was I was playing in Melbourne and a musician found one of my songs, she was quite popular and she just went on social media and said ‘what do you all think?’ and it sort of started an avalanche and here I am. What keeps me going is that I can only do it when I’m excited. I’m not in it for the money or the women!

Is social media generally a good or bad thing for you, it sounds like it helped you get started?

I do have periods when I’ll just turn all the apps off my phone. It can be great or a necessary evil but I think that you’ve got to look after your mental health so if you’re not feeling great you shouldn’t feel you have to look at it.

You’ve been out a lot already on tour this year and you’ve got more dates coming up. How do you deal with that, what are the highs and lows?

The good thing is you work so hard every day towards making it happen and those hours on stage are the most important and the most joyful, you do all of it just for that – to be playing every day, because in Australia the population’s smaller so you don’t get to play every night like you would here. It’s so great to be playing every day and I feel my fingers getting harder and my skills getting better. I do feel tired but I feel that it’s a privilege.

When you toured with Julia Jacklin you definitely picked up lots of new fans in the UK. How did that come about, did you know each other already?

I hadn’t met her before, we have mutual friends and they kept saying ‘you’ll love each other’ and she’s great. It felt like Julia was really generous in spirit and it was so wonderful of her to take me on tour with her.

You’ve been to Brighton before – do you get to see much of the places you play while you’re there?

I’m lucky because I’ve been to Brighton a few times, it started with The Great Escape. Brighton’s very like Melbourne and I always feel instantly at ease here. Tomorrow we head to Paris then Amsterdam, Berlin, then Reeperbahn Festival before we do an Australian tour.

How different are the crowds at festivals from gigs?

It’s so different. It’s great to have an audience who probably would never have heard you before, it’s so varied, what I love about festivals is summer and the openness, especially where there’s one stage where people come and sit and they’re often just music lovers open to new things.

When you’re writing is it always from experience or drawn from things you see?

There’s a great quote ‘Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the only reason I do it is because I’ve done it before and I know that I’ve done it’. My writing is things I’ve collected from the world, usually a metaphor or visual metaphor… I saw this picture of red honey from Utah, so what had happened was this beekeeper thought ‘I’ll just save money and feed my bees sugar’ and he got candy canes because bees love sugar and it ruined the honey and every bee in Utah. We have such an effect on each other as people that you sort of shape each other, if you’re with someone long enough you can become a bit of each other and I thought about that and it became the song Honey but it’s more about humans than bees.

Lastly, you recently did an industry workshop giving advice to new and emerging artists – is there a definitive piece of advice?

I loved doing it, I have a lot of young artists contact me and my main thing is ‘Get ready to work’. We’re all different but I can just say for me I need to write 9-5, don’t wait for inspiration, it’s not a burden, if you feel good or feel bad just write through it because it’s not just your craft, it’s also getting better at the skills of writing… read books that no-one’s reading, listen to bands no-one’s talking about…

Great advice and if you haven’t heard Olympia yet, definitely take on board the bit about listening to new things. The gig later that night was one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to in a while…

Opening up the evening, newly local Ciaran Lavery proved that one man and his guitar is all that’s needed to hold the attention of the crowd. With a cluster of beautifully written songs and chats about his childhood, the set felt like an intimate gathering of friends, and kudos must go to the listeners for just listening and not providing the usual humdrum of background conversation that infects so many gigs, particularly support slots. With a feel of Leonard Cohen in a seaside town, Ciaran will be one to look out for on the Brighton circuit.

Heading straight into a set filled with hypnotic psych pop tunes, Olympia drew the audience deeper into an already happy and relaxed atmosphere. Mixing tracks old and new, her hints to the nostalgia of music past are clear to hear but take on a new twist that brings things bang up to date. With inter-song tales of sharks in the bath and intriguing all hours visits received by a neighbour, the ambient mood continued as the band worked their way between two different setlists for added surprise (to them as much as us), an end of set cover of Rock n Roll Suicide an added bonus.

The songs on Flamingo get better with each listen. From the New York new wave feel of Star City to the quieter tones of Nervous Riders and a personal favourite in Shoot to Forget (think Yeah Yeah Yeahs fused with Alvvays), the album is a grower and a welcome addition to any record collection. The Australian scene has thrown out some really cool and competent musicians over the past few years with the aforementioned Julia Jacklin, Nice Biscuit and King Gizzard (not forgetting their Lizard Wizard) to name but a few – undoubtedly Olympia has joined the list of artists ensuring that it remains very firmly highlighted on the map of new music you should ignore at your peril.  

For more from Olympia and Ciaran Lavery just follow the links here

Words, interview and photos by Siobhan

13th September 2019

 

Interview – Dog of Man

Brighton’s Dog of Man have something special going on with their upcoming album and you can all get involved by doing much more than just streaming the tracks… find out more about the interactive release and the band behind it here…

You’ve been described as ‘great gritty DIY’ (Citizen Fish), ‘accordion driven acid punk’ (Viva Magazine) and ‘dream headliners for an end of the world party‘ (Brighton Source) – how would you describe your music and each other?

I would describe our music as a mishmash of punk rock and psychedelia with gypsy influences. Comes with the territory of an accordion. We come from a variety of musical backgrounds and influences, bluegrass, klezmer, breakcore and punk rock so the result is the freak out music that we make. We wanted to steer rock music away from the slow melodic towards the exciting and hectic.

Brighton’s a continuous hub of activity and creativity – where are your favourite places to go around the city?

Love to go to the Bee’s Mouth for a pint and chat with Superhans, or pop over to The Albert for a good show. During the day, Marwood cafe doth provide. Inevitably we all end up at the nudist beach anyway.

You’re part way through the process of putting out an interactive album Dogmatic Manual – how does that work and where did the concept come from?

The concept came from the fighting fantasy novels like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in which you choose where to go for the next part of the story (turn to page x to go left). This concept was recently revitalised by Charlie Brooker’s Bandersnatch. The album works like this: each week a song comes out with a video on Facebook. Embedded within the video is a poll with two options. Whatever the majority of people choose decides what the next song (and video) will be and the definitive track listing of the album which will be available at our launch party and online after the 7 weeks are up.

What’s the reaction been like to the tracks you’ve shared so far and are things going the way you expected?

Great! More and more people are getting involved with the polls and the views are getting more traction every week. We have been getting well over a thousand views on the release days and we expect that number to keep rising with each weekly submission.

The videos accompanying the songs have a great old home movie feel to them but have clearly been shot with a lot more skills than the average old home movie maker – who’s behind the camera and the ideas?

There’s a variety of talent behind the lens. Opiate – the first release was shot by James Van Vliet. This shoot involved a crew of 4 people, with incredible costume and design by Laura Byrom and her enthusiastic team. It was a high concept piece of work which involved a lot of planning and preparation and we were very pleased with the end result.

We have also utilised the gonzo skills of Babak Roshan, who is a veteran photographer and world traveller with years of experience behind a camera capturing ad hoc footage in any kind of environment. All videos aside from Opiate are edited by the accordion player Mike and the concepts for the videos are created by the band collectively to suit the theme of the song with essentially zero budget.

And what can we expect from your upcoming live dates and album launch?

Expect a raucous show! You’ve probably never seen an electric accordion psych punk band and the performances are always packed with frenetic energy. We are an excitable bunch, which is why it’s an honour to play alongside Town of Cats and Buffos Wake who know how to get the party moving!

Pending live dates:

19th July – London, The Finsbury
8th August – London, Dublin Castle
16th August – Brighton, The Hope & Ruin (album launch)

Check out the tracks released so far and have your say in future weeks on the Dog of Man Facebook page – you can also find them on Instagram and Twitter

Interview by Siobhan, photos via Dog of Man

12th July 2019

Interview – Grapefruit

Hailing from Kent and bringing atmospheric indie tunes to the table, five piece Grapefruit release their enchanting new single into the world today. Get to know the band and take a listen to Soak below…

Give us a quick introduction to Grapefruit…

Grapefruit are a five piece band from all over Kent – we’re a bit of a clumsy mish-mash of old friends and strangers meeting online. Grace (guitar) and Angela (vocals) started Grapefruit a little while after finishing school and then met James (drums) through a desperate online search. Ollie (bass) was James’ best mate who came along to our first ever gig and joined us straight after that. We played like that for a year or so before Lew (guitar), a childhood friend of Ollie’s, came to see us audition for Pride in a drag bar and he’s been with us ever since.

It’s hard to describe what we aim for except to see what happens when we all come together with our vastly different music tastes to create music that isn’t what we are all used to hearing. Debating the value of country music can be helpful for creative flow it turns out.

Tell us about your new single Soak

Soak is the perfecting of the very first thing we started playing when Lew came along to his first practice with us. He instantly clicked with us and we love the music we are making with him now.

The song is about the feeling of dissociating, we live in a world that is so overwhelmingly chaotic and cluttered that you can lose yourself as life rushes past. The song is loud, intense and relentless, which is like the experiencing of dissociating sometimes.

There’s a fair amount of festival activity around Kent (By the Sea and Folkestone Psych Fest spring to mind), has it been a supportive environment for you growing as a band?

Maidstone’s been a bit of a hub for us; it’s Ange and Grace’s hometown and we’ve played Maidstone Fringe Fest a couple of times. Just this year we’ve been picking up a bit locally; we played the Fringe Festival and Hope Festival this year and we’ll also be playing the Faversham Beer and Music Festival in July. It’s exciting to get this support.

What’s been your favourite live show or venue that you’ve played to date?

Get in Her Ears are an incredible collective who promote women and femme people in music; we played for them at Notting Hill Arts Club and really enjoyed it. It was already a nostalgic place for us because it was one of our first ever gig venues back when the band had just started with three members, so it was really cool to come back with more members and more music and more experience, plus to play alongside other really talented female fronted bands. We also found out that night that our new single (Black and Blue) had gotten played by BBC Introducing!! We spent a lot of the night enjoying the really good vibes and dancing.

There seems to be a flurry of articles questioning whether streaming is killing or saving the music industry – what’s been your experience?

It’s a hard question. On the one hand, you could say streaming is killing the industry – 1,000 plays equates to no money for the artist whereas 1,000 single sales would’ve been £990 before. It’s somewhat harder to get somewhere and make a living making music. On the other hand, it is allowing small bands/artists to take control of their own music. Maybe it’s changed the music industry as opposed to killed it and it’s all about adapting to the times.

And what are you planning and hoping for during the rest of 2019?

We are writing and recording and releasing all year. It’s been really good to focus on new music and we’re trying to pick up the pace and spread the Grapefruit vibe.

You can listen to Soak now and keep up with the latest news from Grapefruit here

Interview by Siobhan
Header Photo © Jon Mo, B/W photo © fillm – both via Grapefruit

28th June 2019

 

Interview – Outer Spaces

From the heart of Baltimore, a city with music running through its veins, Cara Beth Satalino brings a new album from her indie-pop project Outer Spaces, drawing vocal comparisons with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Soccer Mommy. A collection of tracks full of clear melodies and reflective lyrics, the result is a cathartic and emollient body of work. We spoke to Cara Beth to find out more about the inspiration for her songs and the eclectic set of artists she listened to in the process of writing and recording.

Your new album Gazing Globe is out on 28th June – how long has it been in the making and who’s been involved?

It’s been quite a long process actually. I started writing some of these songs about three years ago. In 2017 I took a little break from playing shows to finish writing and I demo-ed everything myself at home before going into the studio, so I had a very good idea where I wanted things to go. I recorded the record at Tempo House in Baltimore, working with Chester Gwazda and Jared Paolini in March of 2018. My good friend and former band-mate Rob Dowler played drums on all of the tracks and Chester played the bass and keys.

In the process of making the album, you said that you were reflecting on a period where you were ‘obsessed with finding music from the past that has a cult following now, but never really ‘caught on’ at the time it was released, either because it was ahead of its time or simply because no-one had really heard it’. Which artists did you have in mind that you’d recommend?

One of my favourite albums is East and West by Anna Domino. It’s incredible, and so innovative. I listen to it weekly. Linda Perhacs’ record Parallelograms is another favourite. Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Vivien Goldman. It seemed to me that there were so many women making amazing music and going largely unnoticed. I also fell in love with the music of Francis Bebey, Ernie Graham and The Cleaners from Venus.

Tell us some more about Gazing Globe and what we can expect.

When I wrote a lot of the songs on Gazing Globe I was doing some exploration of my inner self, starting a daily meditation practice. A few of the songs reference another person, who is most likely myself. The title track came to me more like a vision. I liked the image of a gazing globe on a moonlit night. In the song, the character is compelled to explore the garden after dark, in a sleepy haze, further disoriented by the distorted reflection of themselves and their surroundings. They are looking for this person whose reflection they see, but it’s really just them all along. It’s kind of a metaphor for the trap of self-improvement. Basically, Gazing Globe is a record about learning to soften to yourself and really love yourself.

 

How does it differ from your past work and what’s influenced this?

People have told me since I was young that my songs were ‘sad’, which I’ve always hated. As if there are two feelings: happy and sad. What a boring and limiting way to experience the world. I think on my last two records I was trying to make the ‘sad’ songs more peppy, more upbeat, more poppy. With this record I was trying to get outside the box with my songwriting and guitar style. On Paper Flowers that meant letting go and deliberately choosing a very simplistic chord progression, losing that sense of ‘structure’ completely. On songs like I Slowly Close my Eyes I was really trying to make this windy guitar part that kind of pulls you along gently, but doesn’t feel complicated. I was just getting into meditation and I was trying to express my experience of it through music.

What’s your local music scene like in Baltimore at the moment?

After a bit of a slump, it seems like it’s really starting to come back. A few of my favourites have or are about to release new music this year. I’m especially into Abdu Ali’s new record. Baltimore is home to so many amazing artists so it’s nice to feel like the music scene is thriving again.

And what’s next for Outer Spaces?

I’ve already started writing for a new record, though I haven’t made my mind up yet about how it will sound. I’ve been working on stripping things down and doing more solo performances, so I’d imagine it will be a bit more sparse, but time will tell. In the meantime, we’ll be hitting the road and touring a bunch this summer.

Gazing Globe is released on 28th June via Western Vinyl; for a taste of what’s to come you can listen to latest single Album for Ghosts here and follow Outer Spaces for updates on future releases and live dates.

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Chester Gwazda

7th June 2019

Interview – Diving Station

Ever feel that things are spinning by too quickly and you’d like to just stop, contemplate and enjoy the moment? Then you’ll appreciate not just the sentiment behind Diving Station’s new single Film but also its soothing, multi-layered mix of emotive vocals, melodies and atmosphere. George and Sean tell us how it all came about, what’s coming next and give a shout out to some other great artists, venues and people who’ve helped them along the way…

Introduce us to Diving Station – who’s involved and how did you get together as a band?

George: Hello! We’re a band made up of Anna McLuckie on clàrsach and vocals, Sean Rogan on guitar, George Burrage on bass and Barney Kimberley on drums and vocals. We came up with the term ‘harp-driven dream pop’ and it seems to have stuck for now! Each member is originally from a different corner of the UK (Edinburgh, Manchester, Reading and the Isle of Man) but we all met whilst studying music in Manchester, bonding over similar influences such as Bon Iver, Radiohead and Bombay Bicycle Club. From then we started writing songs, doing gigs around Manchester and here we are 4 years later!

Your latest single Film has just been released – what’s it about and what’s the reaction to it been like so far?

Sean: Film is a story of struggle and frustration in a world that moves so fast we’ve no time to reflect on and deal with our own thoughts. The reaction to it has been wonderful, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support, especially from the likes of BBC 6 Music and Introducing, it means a lot! This is the quickest turnaround between writing and recording we’ve ever had, so it’s exciting that some of our fans that have watched us live haven’t even heard it yet, but they seem to like it so far!

You’re based in Manchester, much lauded for its music – what’s going on there currently that we should know about?

George: Manchester International Festival is happening again next month. The line-up of music and art is incredible so I’d encourage anyone to attend. Sounds From The Other City Festival in Salford is also fantastic, as well as Dot to Dot and Manchester Jazz Festival, all of which took place in May. There’s always so much music to see from a ridiculous amount of good venues like Band on the Wall, Gorilla, YES, Eagle Inn, Fuel Cafe, Deaf Institute, Dulcimer, Albert Hall and many more. Through studying together, we’ve met some great bands like Paige Kennedy, Cosmo Calling, HAZY, Sylvette, Darcie and Porij.

You’ve toured across the UK – any special venues or standout memories?

George: We recently played a gig in Leeds at the lovely Hyde Park Book Club. Our friends Heir organised the night, colourfully exhibiting local artists around the venue, and we were on the bill with Caro. They’re an exciting band and we were lucky enough to have them support us at our EP launch earlier that month.

Are You Listening? is a great charity festival in Reading. We were on early but there was a big crowd that seemed passionate about finding new music throughout the day. We also had some downtime and managed to sneak in a country walk which always helps.

What’s the hardest thing about trying to make your name in the music business and what or who has helped you on your way?

Sean: I think the hardest thing is simply making yourself heard by those that can help you move forward. To reflect on what we said about our latest single, the world moves so fast that we can release a song, get a super enthusiastic response from our audience, then feel like we don’t even exist a month later. Staying on people’s radars is tricky, and I think someone that’s helped us a lot with staying in people’s heads is our artist, Amrit Randhawa. The aesthetic he’s created across our recent releases is so distinctive, and he taught us a lot about building a visual world around our music, something which we’d probably have left behind.

George: Brighter Sound’s mentoring programme has given me so much invaluable advice on the music business from industry professionals and musicians I admire. Ryan Paul and the BBC Introducing in Manchester team have also been incredibly supportive since our last EP Feather Mouth was released.

And what are you up to for the rest of the year?

Sean: Festival season is just kicking in and we’re super excited to be off to Glastonbury to perform on the Toad Hall stage, as well as Bluedot, Tramlines Fringe and EskFest. After that, we’ll be releasing another single, along with a headline gig at YES in Manchester and a short UK tour surrounding it. Outside of that we’re still writing away, and forever trying to catch up with recording the backlog of songs we’d love to share with the world!

Listen to Film now and follow Diving Station here

Interview by Siobhan
Photos © Oliver Pringle 
Film artwork by Amrit Randhawa

5th June 2019

Ban Summers – Music, Fibromyalgia & Me

Being a recording artist and playing live can be testing at the best of times. Add to this a diagnosis of chronic illness and many people would be inclined to call a halt to the whole thing. But by approaching the process with a different perspective, musician Edward Perry is far from quitting his much loved musical career, producing tracks and performing live as Ban Summers. Recent singles No Better and It’s On You pit lyrics written about being ill in modern Britain against a relaxing, soulful, lo-fi backdrop and have caught the attention of BBC Music Introducing (Solent) amongst others.

We spoke to him about living and making music with fibromyalgia, a condition described by Fibromyalgia Action UK as ‘… a chronic condition of widespread pain and profound fatigue. The pain tends to be felt as diffuse aching or burning, often described as head to toe… The fatigue ranges from feeling tired to the exhaustion of a flu-like illness. It may come and go and people can suddenly feel drained of all energy – as if someone just pulled the plug’.

You’ve been a musician for some time, how did you get started?

I had been interested in music for a while but, when I was about 14, I heard Lightspeed Champion’s album that Dev Hynes recorded in a day, which was before his proper debut album, just something he put up to download on his blog and I loved it so much. It made me think that if he can do that in a day, maybe if I pick up a guitar, I could do something almost half as good over a year. It’s now about 12 years on and I’m still learning how to make an album. So I went with my Mum to Lidl and got a £30 nylon stringed acoustic guitar. I think Mum wanted to test out whether I was going to stick to guitar before having to shell out for a proper one. But I learnt a couple of songs and chords and moved on to my Squire Strat that I still play now. I wasn’t any good at learning other people’s songs though, so soon moved onto writing my own really bad songs. I was 15 when I played my first gig as The Boy I Used To Be (and I eventually got to support Lightspeed Champion at Wedgewood Rooms) and then that ended up after a lot of gigs and festivals becoming a full band with Max, Callum and Andy as Show Home for a short while.

When did you find out about the fibromyalgia; what was your reaction?

Well, I’ve been ill since my teens in different ways, ME and mental health the bulk of it, so I was kind of prepped for it when the diagnosis came. A family member also has fibromyalgia, so it wasn’t unknown to me, but was a new thing to be experiencing personally and that took time to understand what was happening. I still don’t totally understand it now and new symptoms pop up regularly, so understanding it is an ongoing process for me. I think it was a bit disappointing as I had previously had a few good years of health and my ME was in remission, so it flipped my life upside down still, for sure. It took a long time to start building myself back up. Then band stuff took a back seat and I really lost interest in music for a while because I was frustrated and jealous of not being able to take part.

How does it affect you day to day?

I am tired, like all of the time. I’m not sure if I can remember a time where I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t uncomfortable in some way. The joint and muscle pain is bad across my back, legs and hands, it affects my concentration and muddles my brain, plus lights and noise can be an issue which isn’t a great recipe for a budding musician. On top of that, all the medication makes me feel worse too with other side effects, but I’ll stop moaning for now!

So how have you adapted things in terms of making music?

Well, I’ve had to reshape my expectations of myself in my general life and I had to reach that acceptance in my musical life too. At the moment, my hands swell up after I’ve played guitar, so I’ve moved onto using a launchpad and using samples of my songs to play them live in a way that is hopefully more accessible to me but is still true to what a live show is. So now I just make music whenever I’m able and over time I’ve amassed a lot of songs so I can just work at my own pace and then these songs get deconstructed to play at gigs. Plus I don’t have any money at all, so it’s all recorded at home on basic and cheap equipment that I’ve collected over the years in the simplest way it could be done, finishing it on the laptop, bouncing it down to an MP3 and uploading to Soundcloud and Spotify. It’s the most DIY way you could probably be, though admittedly not unusual these days recording and releasing music from your bedroom, but that suits me because though I have no money and this makes no money, I’m not really spending out on it either. It’s the cheapest and most soul enriching thing I can do and, despite the pain and fatigue it causes, it does help me be a happier and more fulfilled person.

Tell us some more about your new tracks It’s On You and No Better…

It’s On You is about privilege and how that may shape your world view or blind you from seeing privilege in process. People can get defensive about it and think that inviting diversity is limiting their opportunities or discriminating against them, but it isn’t. There is more than enough room for everyone and we should be seeking more diversity everywhere, because we miss out on those important voices otherwise.

No Better was written not long after the Brexit referendum and was a way of me getting my frustration out at the state we were in, with people lying and profiteering, but also acknowledging the rise in my generation’s passion to be heard. It’s like venting my thoughts in the first half but also builds to a more hopeful ending.

Hopes and plans for the rest of 2019?

I am going to be releasing as much music as possible this year, with maybe an album coming later in the year (so surprise if you’ve read this far, that secret is just for you). I’ve been silent for too long and I have a lot to say and music to share. I’m also going to be playing a few gigs here and there and really just trying to get as many people listening as possible.

Follow Ban Summers and listen to No Better and It’s On You here

Next live date is at The House of Rapture, Portsmouth, on 2nd April with Penelope Isles and Barbudo 

You can access more information and support with fibromyalgia on the Fibromyalgia Action UK website

20th March 2019