Saturday, 14 April 2018

Semi-Regular: Charismatic Megafauna.


As a working definition of punk “A grassroots (at least initially), DIY, artistic expression of progressive politics that may or may not be musical” seems to do just fine. (Discuss.) It could be argued that punk rock runs the risk of becoming just another variant of metal or pub rock when it deviates from that rough definition and can easily end up perpetuating a communal ethos that has little to distinguish it from any other co opted sub cultural form lacking any distinctive egalitarian social norms or expectations.
Greil Marcus in the book Lipstick Traces connects early punk, the Situationists and the Dadaists as movements that disrupted the societies of their time (1), in that disruption they exposed the social order around them as constructs that could be subverted and overturned. ‘Your mission contemporary punk, should you choose to accept it, is to continue this line of dissent’.
The Dadaists were around about a hundred years ago, an art movement based in Zurich who as a response to the industrial scale killing of WWI set out to create art that refuted and critiqued the bourgeois rationality that dominated the narratives of their day-the rationality that had led to WWI. The Dadaists set out to create non bourgeois art by drawing on non bourgeois values and resources, this led them to draw on the irrational but also led them to draw on the art resources and traditions of civilisations other than the European. Among the most famous of the Dada artists was Hannah Hoch who pioneered collage as a medium, using it to comment on and critique society around her (2). But as well as fine art the Dadaists expressed themselves through performance art most notably at the Cabaret Voltaire.
Semi-Regular the new album by Charismatic Megafauna seems to be an expression of an art practice that fits more comfortably into the lineage outlined above than any other, it is a documentation of a deconstruction of conventional music making, the isolating, identifying and deploying of those parts considered useful in creating something fresh, vibrant and challenging for the listener, and as you listen to the album there is the growing excitement that comes from knowing it would be even better if seen live, that Charismatic Megafauna almost certainly finds its fullest realisation in the interaction of band, space and viewer/listener.
Charismatic Megafauna is comprised of Georgia Twigg, Susannah Worth and Jenny Moore and Semi-Regular is the latest musical expression of their feminism and in that sense indistinct from the rest of their lives (3). Using percussion, voice and keyboards they have created an art(ifact) based around rhythm that contains within it reminders, distorted half heard echoes of Peaches, The Knife (Shaking the Habitual), The Slits. It isn’t music that is going to allow you to relax, its confrontational, visceral, looks you in the eye and demands you engage!
The album is made up of ten tracks, first track up ‘Sorry’ engages with the expected female performance of male ego orientated relationship “She has a nice way, she has a nice manner. It’s what he likes about her, he likes the way she talks to him/he just loves the way he feels when she talks” but points out that it is the performance of social expectation and “When we say we are so sorry, we don’t mean it...she has a nice way but when she gets her way he will be sorry” all delivered over rhythmic keyboard and percussion, disquieting.
Three tracks on and ‘Guys in Spandex’ questions societies differing responses to the male and female body from the perspective of a female cyclist, that the female body is constantly commented on, always subject to the male gaze while the male cyclist’s body is uncommented on. “Guys in spandex...Guys with their packages and their bums out, yeah. No one yells at them”. Great keyboard riff, definitely danceable even when sober!
Track 6 ‘Ffffeminism’ is a sampled looped collage of an interview which highlights male discomfort with gender and feminism, concepts that threaten male privilege and the presentation of that privilege as nature not power construct with a nice percussion break coming in and continuing to build as the song progresses. Aural Hannah Hoch!
‘Context’ is a sophisticated take on the difference between being (literally) shit on by a parrot and being (metaphorically) shit on by a person. It’s the parrot acting according to nature but a person treating you badly involves choice and responsibility.
‘Sequin Shirt’ explores sexual assault and consent and the suspicion that the numbers of women who have experienced sexual assault is higher then 1 in 6.
“She told him about that time that she was upstairs at the party with his friend and she said no.
Ooooh he did not like hearing that!
She told him about that time that she was upstairs at the party with his friend and she said no.
Cuz she did not like it either.
I'm going to bet you this sequin top that it's more than 1 in 6 ah yeah!”

This is an important album of intelligence, wit and thought provoking lyrics over a musical landscape that is cleverly textured and nuanced so that the palette Charismatic Megafauna have chosen to use never becomes repetitive or limiting. No Wave in the 1980s posited the idea that the reproduction of conventional musical skills is not essential and that the self taught musician (3) has the best chance of making innovative and original music. This album could well prove their point.

Semi-Regular is available at https://charismaticmegafaunamusic.bandcamp.com/album/semi-regular     

Bibliography.
(1)Marcus, G. (2011) 'Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century', Faber and Faber, London.
(2)Hannah Hoch, http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/about/press/hannah-hoch/
(3)Murray, C. (2018) ‘Interview: Charismatic Megafauna’ at https://www.echoesanddust.com/2018/01/charismatic-megafauna/  
also '30 Seconds Interview: Charismatic Megafauna' (2018) https://www.m-magazine.co.uk/newmusic/30seconds/30-seconds-interview-charismatic-megafauna/ 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Interrobang: Still 'Mad As Hell'

Photo courtesy of Division Promotions.
Interrobang formed in 2012, they’ve been playing live and now their album has arrived, and it’s awesome! Like a fiercely intelligent offspring of Gang of Four and Blur it combines off kilter danceability with lyrics so intelligent they would probably get into Mensa!

The concept album has been much maligned post punk but here it is used to good effect as Dunstan Bruce uses the space an album affords to explore the experience of being a fifty something anarchist. How do you express that, what does dissent look like when you’re middle aged? How do you cope with the increasing disconnect between a body on the wain and a mind that still hopes, dreams and rages? It’s a protest album fighting on two fronts- against living in a militarised, neoliberal capitalist society of increasing poverty, homelessness and inequality but also protest against the frustration of growing old and being forced to reflect on your own mortality.

But don’t for one minute think that Interrobang are musically or lyrically the maudlings of ageing punks, if you are looking for nostalgia or a heritage act then time to move on, there is nothing for you here. This is bright eyed self reflection, strangely optimistic, amused. Think Stuart Lee’s self deprecating humour and post-modern awareness, his willingness to deconstruct his own life and performance (and performance of life) and then take that and set it to the music of Stephen Griffin (guitar) and Harry Hamer (drums) that has an identifiable continuity of sound (as you would expect from a concept album) but undulates, spits and snarls, changes shape and texture while always making you wonder what it would sound like live and what sort of moves it could inspire were you brave (drunk?) enough to dance.

The album opens with a scene setter (remember this is a concept album, for those unfamiliar with this think ‘theatre’). ‘Here and Now’ hangs on the edge musically, a clock ticking in the background, before Dunstan deconstructs his own song writing-post-modern as you like-“ When I started writing this I had no idea where I was going...nothing specific to say...in retrospect it looks like I always had a plan with a start, a middle and an end. A random walk that ended up taking me somewhere I wanted to be, and that’s here, (now), I’m back in the frame, I’ve still got something I want to say, I don’t want to fade away…” The clock is still ticking as the song ends.

‘Asking for a Friend’ is where the album really gets into its stride, intense and moody, strangely it reminds me musically of a spaghetti western(!)”…I’ve been privately browsing middle aged concerns, and I’ve been googling the 50 something blues...I’ve been denying existential truths and I’ve been ignoring hashtag cancerous news...but, as the singer is quick to point out, he is  “Asking for a friend, I’m just asking for a friend”

‘Are You Ready People?’ “Are you ready people?...I don’t care about my figure but I love to sing about something...I never wanted compromises, I don’t care about rebel stances, I don’t talk about (grandstanders), I don’t think about lack of substance, I don’t need that ersatz rebellion...I still dream of...revolution!”

Next track up ‘Mad as Hell’ has that sound that something is brewing ominously, like the atmosphere just before a storm breaks, and then it does…”I’m sick to death of being told to keep calm, no danger of that happening any time soon, I’m angry, still angry after all these years, I’ll never calm down, never ever. I really don't care if sincerity’s not cool, now is the time to stop playing the fool...have you seen the film ‘Network’ from ‘76, when Howard Beale delivers that passionate speech…’I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore’“
‘Based on a True Story’ and ‘Do You Remember’ deal with death (one’s own and that of a parent), memory and self constructed narratives. ‘Billingham’ explores the troubled relationships (some of us have) to hometowns in the form of a ‘love’ song to Dunstan’s hometown which starts “This is a love song to Billingham. God, I hate you, I hate you! You shaped me and (chipped me), you beat and bent me, you jumped me on corners. You told me sweet little lies…We’ll never see eye to eye, Oh Billingham…You don’t even know where you are, do you? You don’t even know who you are...no matter how hard I still try, we’re not so different you and I”

After the excellent ‘Breathe’ “I’m in a car wash and frankly I’m terrified...what’s gonna happen when I hit 60, will I still be hungry, will I still be angry, and will I still have the energy?” the album concludes with ‘Am I Invisible Yet?’ “More and more I’m talking about my generation, getting myself into a lather...old enough to be your father...Am I invisible yet?...This is someone who was someone once...Am I invisible yet?...I’m going, I’m going...I’m gone!”

Look you get the picture, this album is a thing of rare magnificence; intelligent, self reflective, humourous, honest, angry. An ageing group of men who refuse to accept what is, who still dream of, and hope for, what could be. Call it Utopian if you like. Interrobang are part of the original punk generation, the generation who believed things could be changed for the better and still believe that despite all the disappointments along the way. ”A grumpy curmudgeon in a state of high dudgeon’ Dunstan Bruce describes himself as, but we know he isn’t, he is someone who has frustrated hope, who still cares. And ‘Music of the Gross’ reflects that punk influence with half heard echoes of ‘New Rose’ at times. The distorted vocals come in “...sonic fools of the bourgeois world...crucified on the cross of mass culture...This is the Music Of The Gross, this is our cri de couer”

Lean and finely honed this is the sound of ageing dissidents who judging by this album are not going away any time soon, still angry and articulate they have plenty to say and have released an album of remarkable insight and incisiveness. Go out of your way to hear it.
Schnews used to have a strapline “If you’re not pissed off-you’re not paying attention”.
Interrobang may have entered their fifties but they have been paying close attention and they’re still very pissed off indeed.     

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Ruts DC: Continuity and Change.

Photo courtesy of Division Promotions.
The early history of The Ruts has been well documented, one of the outstanding bands of that period their first single ‘In a Rut’ came out in 1979 on People Unite followed by ‘Babylon’s Burning’, ‘Something That I Said’ and ‘Jah Wars’, the latter three appearing on their debut album The Crack. The album was an insightful look at urban Britain, the tracks ‘Babylon’s Burning’, ‘Jah Wars’ and ‘S.U.S.’ especially incisive in their use of social commentary as resistance. In March 1980 the band released their fifth single ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’ but then in July, following a struggle with heroin addiction, lead singer Malcolm Owen was found dead. A sixth single ‘West One (Shine On Me)’ was released in August. In two years The Ruts had released six singles and an album that set a new standard in punk for musicianship and lyricism that has rarely been equalled since. Virgin put out another album Grin and Bear It a mix of live tracks, B Sides and the last two singles.
The remaining three members of the band, Paul Fox, Segs Jennings and Dave Ruffy felt they should continue and became Ruts DC releasing Animal Now in ‘81  and Rhythm Collision in ‘82 before calling it a day in 1983. And that appeared to be that until 2007 when the three members reconvened for a one off benefit gig for Paul Fox (who had been diagnosed with cancer) with Henry Rollins as lead vocalist.
However things evolved, Segs Jennings and Dave Ruffy worked on some tracks together which eventually became Rhythm Collision Vol. 2, in 2014 a live album followed. And then in 2016 The Ruts DC released Music Must Destroy, a rock album of such extraordinary quality that Viva Le Rock made it their Album of the Year and one reviewer described it as ‘possibly the finest rock’n’roll album you are likely to be aroused by this year, maybe this decade (1). Music Must Destroy crackles with energy, compassion and righteous anger dealing with, amongst other things; mental health, misuse of power, the need for tolerance and unity-each subject dealt with in a mature and thoughtful way. It is an album of unprecedented relevance for the UK in the 21st Century.
Before their recent gig at The Waterfront, Norwich I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with ‘Segs’ Jennings, Dave Ruffy and Leigh Heggarty and find out more about how they’ve got to this point and what makes The Ruts DC tick.

Q: You released Rhythm Collisions 1 in 1982 and regrouped in 2007, did you stay musically active in the rest of the 80s and 90s? What sort of stuff were you up to?
DR: Yeah, I joined Aztec Camera, I was with them for three or four years, we all did music. Segsy moved to Paris…
SJ: I moved to Paris straight after because, we did that album, we carried on with Ruts DC for a bit and it was our way of dealing with the grief. Me, Ruffy and Foxy we just wanted to carry on playing because we loved each other basically. So we did that, and I think one of us said “Lets make a dub album”, we did it, which was great, but then it all became a bit too much to bear, for me anyway, so I moved to Paris, really for the love of a woman as an excuse to go there. I went for two weeks and stayed for four years! I started a band over there for a bit, as you gravitate towards that and meanwhile Ruffy was playing with loads of people…
DR: Yeah, I never stopped. I think I was probably in mourning really, years later I realised. I played with The Waterboys, I was MD for Sinead O’Connor, played with Kirsty MacColl, played with Yazz I never stopped! I’m a drummer it’s what I do. I like music, I like song writers, I like playing with people who have got something to say. I’ve been very lucky, I’ve worked with some great songwriters.

Q: And Leigh you were in a band called The Price (2), is that right?
LH: Yeah, in the 1980s I was in a band called The Price, funnily enough Paul Fox produced one of our singles, and he appeared with us a few times here and there, I lived in West London at  the time and was in touch with him from seeing the band. I used to go and see the band and spoke to them all at gigs because in those days you did, it was a lot more accessible, not that it’s not accessible now but it was more so then. The first conversation I ever had with Paul, I stumbled up to him at a gig and asked him “What guitar effects do you use, Paul?” and it was brilliant, he didn’t really know! “A Chorus pedal and an Echo Pedal…” And I got on with him, I used to see him locally a lot.
DR: We didn’t really get to know Leigh, although we’d met him before, until we did that 2007 gig with Paul Fox when he was diagnosed with cancer and we said that we’d get together and do a show in London. Paul was too sick to rehearse and so Leigh came and rehearsed and Paul turned up for one little rehearsal at the end  and we did the live show. Basically Segs and I thought that was the end of it really, we never consciously planned to get the band together. It kind of evolved really, we were doing some work with an engineer called Steve Dub (Jones)-he’s one of the groovy young guys, does a lot of The Chemical Brothers stuff, Segs plays on loads of Chemical Brothers stuff, we’ve always done music, we’ve never stopped doing music, some of it’s well known, some of it isn’t..
SJ: Also as a rhythm section I got called in to do the Aztec Camera stuff because Campbell Owens sadly got a bit ill at that point and so they called me in, and me and Ruffy ended up playing with Kirsty (MacColl) as well, so we’ve always been a rhythm section coming in and out. After that 2007 gig it was like “Well OK, lets do some new tracks. Shall we go out, we play really well together?” but every time we play together people go “That’s The Ruts rhythm section” and they’re going to shout out ‘Babylon’s Burning’. I was playing with Alabama 3 and they said “Why don’t you do the support?” and we did four gigs, it was really like a dub set and then we inevitably ended up doing ‘Babylon’s Burning’...
DR: And Nicolai Beverungen, who flew The Ruts flag when there was no Ruts, had asked us to remix a track and the engineer we were using, Steve Dub, said “Why don’t we take this money and go and work with Mad Professor...

Q: Which was Rhythm Collision 2?
SJ: Yeah it became that, it wasn’t going to be, we were just going to do some tracks and we weren’t going to be called The Ruts or Ruts DC we had a working title of ‘Sons of Light Orchestra’ or whatever but when we came out we went ‘Bloody Hell!’...
DR: When we did Rhythm Collision 1, a lot of people don’t like it, a lot of people really like it. I really like it, it was quite a liberating record to make. When we went in the studio, back in the day, Malcolm had died and we were in a bit of a pickle, we had signed a really shit deal with Virgin and they owned our publishing and we basically had nothing, any royalties we were going to get were tied up and we were never going to get anything. I think we managed to cobble together about a grand and we went in and did the album. The great thing was we went in with just a few ideas and came out with Rhythm Collision 1. So when Steve Dub said come in we did-Segs and I and Seamus Beaghen-and two days later came out with 14 tracks. He did some rough mixes straight off the tape and I remember sitting in the car and we were “Wow this is amazing!”

Q: And when you were doing that did you have the rock songs emerging in parallel?
DR: I never really differentiate. It was important for us to do some music together, that was the most important thing, we did some music, it really had something and then we decided “Lets work on it” but we were working and doing other things, but when we got the time together we did a bit more work on it. And then we heard about a guy called Prince Fatty who lived in Brighton and we went to see him, he was good actually, he was quite straight!  He wasn’t like “You guys are great” he said “Well, it’s not finished!” and we stopped off for a pint on the way home and we said “Well he’s right y’know” so we went away and we did more work on it, we got some brass section, we got Leigh on it, and worked on it and that was when Alabama 3 said “Do some supports with us”. We did it with Molara of Zion Train-Segs and I and Foxy had done some sessions with Zion Train in the noughties and the 90s-and then we had to do a few older songs because they are our legacy and I’m proud of our legacy, I’ve never been interested in just being a revival band in any way shape or form, and I could earn more money doing something else, there is no need for it. Anyway it went from there, we bought out Rhythm Collision 2 which was very well received, we did a live album to represent where we had got to and then we knew we had to do a rock’n’roll album really.

Q: Which I’d like to ask you about, such a brilliant album, I’d like to ask you about some of the tracks if that is OK? The first single off Music Must Destroy, ‘Psychic Attack’, seems to deal with mental distress, with a very intense claustrophobic video. Did it come out of any specific incident...
SJ: I’d actually split up in a relationship and I had moved out into this flat and I had a single mattress  and I got up, probably with a hangover, and I got on the toilet, and it started with “I can’t walk so I’m learning to crawl” I couldn’t be bothered and I felt really low. And it was also based on a very close friend of mine and someone was torturing her really and I thought it was psychic attack and it happens a lot you know. I got some comments about it “I suffer from this stuff, why would you write a flippant song about it?” but it’s not a flippant song. In my case the bit “Measure the pressure, measure the pleasure”, y’know it’s a real pressure but at the same time you kind of enjoy it or do you or don’t you? So its “Measure the pressure, measure the pleasure” so the song is cobbled together out of all kind of moods of that. And you go up and down, even just doing the gigs, all of us, you give so much, that you come down the next day. That’s kind of self inflicted in a way because you’ve chosen to do that, but it’s for everybody that has those kind of problems. And also the outside pressure, it can be the government, it can be being poor..

Q: The precarity, the anxiety…
SJ: I don’t know if it gives any answers but if you can jump up and down to it that’s good, haha

Q: I think it’s an empathetic song, for me it speaks of the kind of anxieties and stress that a lot of working class people are experiencing.
SJ: Yeah it is that, it came through me but it speaks about many people. It’s taken me years to learn that lyrics don’t all have to be completely true, all about yourself, you can actually use influences from everybody's feelings including my band mates. It’s much better if you’re standing on stage to be singing for the band and singing for people than just singing about yourself.

Q: The track and video for ‘Music Must Destroy’ takes aim at those who misuse their power-mainly governments, corporations and religious elites-and concludes that “Lethal business controls America” and the UK for that matter. I noticed in ‘Surprise’ there is a verse “I was talking socialism in a cocktail bar, champagne for the homeless never got that far. The spreading of the word becomes slightly absurd when we been passing on a message that nobody heard” Have you been encouraged by the emergence of a Corbyn led Labour Party or still too mild?
SJ: Bit too mild really, without going too political, I mean it’s great but I don’t know whether it’s enough. Nobody seems to have that much of an idea really. It seems quite non committal on many issues that we really need someone to say “This is what I think about…”, Especially about Brexit and shit like that for me.
DR: Everyone follows such a narrow party line, there’s a certain (range) that you mustn’t say anything outside of…

Q: Yeah, it’s called the Overton Window, what’s allowed in public discussion…
SJ: Exactly, I’m becoming more socialist as I get older. I’ve never allowed myself to be even called that but I think if you kind of care for people, and care for the common man and want to make things better and want to do things for people and want to share some stuff it’s true socialism, personal socialism. And the Overton Window is not enough for us, it’s too narrow. I don’t want to even get into that tube, y’know what I mean. Our whole politics is about everyday personal politics, how you treat people and the way you treat yourself. I’m getting too old to bother about these people (politicians)!
DR: Its not that they’re not left wing enough, it’s not about that, its about addressing...it’s that you’ve got to relate to the ordinary people.
LH: With the weakest most incompetent Conservative leader in my life time he’s got an open goal and he doesn’t seem to be able to…when he said that thing about “I’m not going to stand at the Despatch Box shouting” I think well maybe sometimes you have to stand at the Despatch Box shouting. I saw him speak back in the 80s during the Miner’s Strike and he was always really good.
SJ: It’s really about personal politics, we travel the world and we travel the UK a hell of a lot and really most of the UK is not represented, the reason this Brexit thing happened, we went to Middlesbrough on tour with Dead Men Walking, people are dissatisfied with both parties. Somebody somewhere really engineered that and said you want to vote for this because life is going to be better, and that was exactly the same as the National Front coming round in 1976 and telling everyone “They’re coming over here and they’re getting free TVs!”, it’s exactly the same rhetoric and all the people they thought were stealing their jobs they thought would be gone the next day! I can’t believe the nation fell for it! We are actually very upset about it, as you can tell. We’re Europeans! We got the opportunity to discover Europe, and we went to Europe as musicians and as people, I lived in Paris, and I became a Citizen of the World, which I still am. I want to be involved with everybody. It’s not just about this little country and they think they’re going to change something by leaving Europe, I know there are certain things about (the EU) that could be better but (leaving) is rubbish.

Q: In the last year or so year I’ve read Walls Come Tumbling Down about the setting up of Rock Against Racism, and a book called Post Punk; Then and Now and very recently Sound System by Dave Randall. Some people are sensing similarities between the late 70s/early 80s and now and wondering if some of the lessons learnt then can be deployed now-for instance the fusing of culture and progressive politics in RAR. When you were writing Music Must Destroy did you feel like you were writing into circumstances similar to those early albums? Did you feel like ‘Hang on, this is the same shit again?’
DR: We’ve never changed, we did ‘In a Rut’ on People Unite, we’re not politicians, I think the term People Unite represents us, that’s what we’re for, we’re for tolerance and unity.
SJ: Absolutely, we saw some photos the other day of Paul Fox and us all on the back of a truck, it was Misty In Roots and us, black and white people and my girlfriend said “That’s brilliant, is it photoshopped?” and I said “No, that’s the way it was!” and now it isn’t. We’ve still got black fans and everything but you very rarely get the gigs where the twain meet anymore. We are still trying to do some People Unite gigs but it’s quite difficult because we very rarely get that kind of mix... It’s not just about black/white its about different cultures, you very rarely get that. In those Rock Against Racism days people were really enlightened by it, we had Sikhs coming, Muslim kids, we actually thought this is great it’s never going to go back. I thought it was irreversible. When I was young and naive, twenty, twenty one, I thought that culture and the human race was developing but if you leave them to their own devices they’ll just run back to their own little communities. Everybody.

Q: And the media has  encouraged that, y’know the right wing press…
SJ: They love it,
DR: Its the same people controlling it…
SJ: And the Government love it because it keeps everybody in their little separate communities and they can control them.

Q: And it splinters the working class, divide and conquer type stuff.
SJ: It’s the same old same old, I don’t feel that optimistic about it, we wrote ‘Music Must Destroy’, it’s very easy to stand there “Break down the walls in the government halls”, its very easy to say it and I felt it and it’s good but it does say ‘Music’ must destroy. It’s about music, lets come together through music and destroy all that stuff.

Q: But a song like ‘Music Must Destroy’ encourages people who are sometimes on the front line of activism and it makes them realise they’re part of a community and there are other people who feel the same and it encourages them to keep doing what they’re doing so you might not feel like the song achieves x but it might encourage a person in the audience to achieve x.
DR: It’s a bit like when you do a show you think well hopefully some people are going to get it and if one person goes away inspired then job done really.

Q: The track ‘Kill The Pain’, there is a book Ghosts of My Life by Mark Fisher where he talks about a Derrida concept called Hauntology and ‘Kill The Pain’ reminded me of that. It’s a sense of nostalgia for lost futures, a sense of loss over what could have been (3), “We all know what could have been, we see what should have been” but the song still has a sense of hope that something of what was dreamed of can still be realised “Another young punk with a new solution joins our worn out revolution”.
SJ: Well that bit there is about being in The 100 Club and seeing some young punk looking at you with hope that you’re going to say something, and I sing “We’ve been dealing dirt now we need the cure”, sometimes you’ve been selling this punk thing, you’re standing on stage and you think “This bloke thinks I’m preaching” and you’re doing that and thinking “God, he’s not really finding much of an answer!”.The ‘Kill The Pain’ thing comes back to “I’ve been giving love to the unpure, showing hope to the unsure” and actually I walked in to my girlfriend  and said “Give me something to kill the pain”, I actually said that, like a drink or whatever. That’s nice for it to be compared to Jacque Derrida…!
DR: We only really want to write about things that mean something basically, and its hard because we are trying to expand the band at the same time which is fucking tricky because nobody wants to hear it really! haha
LH: We spend a lot of time talking about what we want to do don’t we, and a lot of songs on the album came out of conversations, and it’s almost like you don’t always know what you want to do but you know what you don’t want to do!
SJ: We’re going to do another one we think, but we don’t know what we’re going to do!

Q: I find Music Must Destroy quite a spiritual album, there’s a use of interesting referencing of religious ideas in the lyrics of Music Must Destroy, Surprise, Second Hand Child, Tears On Fire. Do you use those ideas because they’re useful as metaphors or do you deploy them for other reasons?
DR: Because that’s the way we live our lives!

Q: Would you say there is a stream of spirituality running through…
DR: Yeah there always has been with The Ruts, I mean you could never talk about it back in the day, and everybody thought The Ruts are four Herberts but basically the way we got together we were very deeply tied up with concepts of betterness. We’re not religious people, you can use the word ‘spirituality’ if you like, we do believe in people, were totally optimistic people and we have a great deal of faith that we can succeed and achieve better things, thats what has always made us a different sort of band
SJ: Faith in the people, faith in the Universe in a way without being stupid but no faith in a god who’s going to punish people for doing the wrong thing. That really pisses me off! We all came up through school, and everybody is taught that...but it doesn’t mean you have to turn your back on the whole concept of being good.
DR: I was a head Altar Boy in the Catholic Church but I gave all that up when I was about 12 so I lost my religion but I never lost my spirituality....

Q: Which comes through in that line in ‘Music Must Destroy’ “Burn down religion but don’t burn faith or the filthy”
DR: I don’t really believe in god or religion but I wouldn’t put anyone down for believing what they believe personally, I don’t have to respect you for that but I can tolerate you even if I think your ideas don’t particularly go along with mine. I don’t have to respect it because you have to earn respect.
SJ: And in some situations you can meet a Christian cab driver or something and they’re actually very nice people and good as opposed to a bad boy who is going to rip you off so sometimes it’s better than the ‘evil man’. I think really is it ‘good and evil?’ Positivity and negativity, let’s call it that. Positivity is good, negativity is bad because it breeds negativity. I think that’s what good and bad is, I think the whole thing is based on that. And if you take it down to yourself, be as positive as much as you can, because we’re all negative sometimes. But please don’t hold that above people saying you’re negative so you’re going to go to hell!! That’s what I don’t like!
DR: Going back to politics, I don’t really believe in political parties I think you do your politics every day by example, small acts of human kindness...
SJ: And that’s spirituality and politics.      

Q: The last single you released as The Ruts was ‘West One (Shine On Me)’ which starts “Lights are burning red and white” while ‘Kill The Pain’ starts “Burning white light, Neon red and white”. Was that a deliberate continuity?
SJ: Yeah, well, it just came out, as I said I came home and slopped down in the chair and said ; “Give me something to kill the pain” and then went “Hey, that’s good”and then did the chords and went what’s the first line? “Burning white light, Neon red and white” yeah back into ‘West One’, back to that place. I’d come from the West End so I just pictured Malcolm on that cover of ‘West One’ that John Howard did, where he’s standing on a traffic island, “A traffic island cast away” and I’d just come from there and gone “Give me something to kill the pain” and I just went “Fucking Hell, I’m back there” so I continued the story. It just flowed out. A lot of the lyrics just flow out, “This music must destroy” came in a dream actually, and then you have to work on them. I write stuff in my phone all the time, I don’t really use bits of paper any more, and sometimes Ruffy or Leigh might say something and I go “That’s a really good lyric”. Sometimes me and my girlfriend (Tara Rez of The Duel), she’s a songwriter as well, will be chatting and we’ll go “Yeah that’s a really good (lyric)” and we write it down and then you cobble all those together.  Very important for any songwriters out there, just keep writing your stuff down all the time because you’ll get stuck for lines and actually you’ve already written it! I’ve sat there with a piece of paper pushing a fucking pen about…! For me the beginning of a song is the concept or the perspective of that song. But at the end of the day I also wanted some songs that people could sing along to. Malcolm used to write all the lyrics, we all used to have a little go, and since then I’ve written lyrics but also I’ve seen a lot of bands and listened to a lot of music and its forty years on so you’re going to use totally different points of reference. I read Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles and you think “That’s amazing” and you write something down to remind you and think what does that mean to me and it becomes a lyric. That’s what inspiration is.

Q:  I think I’ve got my answer talking to you really but I’ll ask you. You’ve been making music now for 40 years and this latest album is as compassionate and angry and militant as any I’ve heard lately-what has helped you to maintain that level of concern and engagement?
DR: Well I think we try not to be deluded! I’ve known Segs as a close friend for many, many years, we’ve got good friends and if we go off piste and become an arsehole in some way we have friends who will tell us. Our lives have changed but we’ve got the same basic ideals we did. I’ve been very lucky, music has saved my life, it got me out the ghetto, and I would have had a totally different life (but for music), and I’m very respectful of that I’ll never forget that. So I feel I owe it to myself to stay true to that.
SJ: We’re very lucky standing on stage doing that thing, but if anyone thinks were thinking “Cor this is great, come and listen to me”, it’s not like that.  
DR: We scrutinise ourselves harder that anyone ever has, we’re very aware of just talking aload of old nonsense. With the music and the lyrics and everything it has to be real, we really do mean it and we really do care a great deal about what we do.
SJ: And we also have that legacy...
DR: It’s like they’re there, y’know...
LH: As a person who was, and indeed still is, a fan of the Ruts and Ruts DC there is that legacy involved and as someone who heard the band first time round that’s what I caught from the band hearing ‘Babylon’s Burning’ or whatever, that power drew me, and people like me, in. And now I incredibly find myself in the position I’m in now and you can’t let those people down. We were at Rebellion Festival a couple of years ago, the night after we’d done a show I was stumbling around in the Winter Gardens and I was on the stairs coming down and there was a guy at the bottom and he was looking at me and I thought he was going to have a go at me, he was stood looking at me very intently and I got to the bottom and he put his hands on my shoulders and he said “ Do you realise what you’re doing for us? Does your band realise what you’re doing for us?...It was an incredible moment.

Big thanks to James and Olie for organising the interview and to The Ruts DC for their time and thoughtfulness.    

Bibliography.

Awayfromlife, 2016, The Ruts DC: Interview with the punk legend about their new album. https://www.magazine.awayfromlife.com/the-ruts-dc-interview-punk-legend/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ruts

http://rutsdc.com/biography/

(1)Pete Ringmaster, 2016, Ruts DC-Music Must Destroy, https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/ruts-dc-music-must-destroy/

(2) Andrews, A. (2017) Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC) Interview February 2017, http://auralsculptors.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/leigh-heggarty-ruts-dc-interview.html

(3) Fisher, M. 2014, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures, Zero Books, Winchester UK/Washington USA

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Nieviem: Skate Punks and the Human Condition.

Courtesy of Nieviem.
Based in Lincoln, skate punks Nieviem (their name comes from the Polish for ‘I don’t know’-Nie Wiem) started in April 2016 when three Polish musicians Bart Stanczyk (guitarist/songwriter), Tomek Tyrlik (drummer) and Kuba Piatkowski (bass guitar) met vocalist/lyric writer Vicky McClelland and starting working together. Within a couple of months they had written five songs and released a four track EP that Autumn. Subsequently Vicky left the band due to ill health in May '17 and her place was taken by Hope Bateman. Hardly pausing to catch their collective breath Nieviem released Live at Equinox Festival 2017 in September and then the excellent seven track EP/album The Hope is There and single ‘Fick’ in November. In February 2018 The Punk Lounge launched its monthly compilations and Nieviem appeared on the inaugural volume with the track ‘Disappointed’. Being really impressed by The Hope is There and wanting to know more about Nieviem I got to ask Bart and Hope a few questions about the band’s past, present and future.  

Nieviem formed in April 2016 and by October you had a 4 track eponymous EP out! Had you been hiding great songs away to unleash on the world or was it the right combination of people and it all just flowed?
Bart: I think it was right combination of people and massive excitement. We started writing straight away in April 2016 and recorded 5 songs three months later in July. By the end of 2016 we had 9 songs ready for 30 mins slot.

Were any of the guys in bands together in Poland before forming Nieviem? Or did you meet up in the UK?
Bart: We all met up in the UK. I used to work with Tomek, we spoke by chance about playing music and we decided to have a go after a while. We both used to play drums but I went for a guitar in the end. This is how it started, I may be wrong but it was sometime in 2010. We used to play plenty of punk covers before Kuba (2014) and Vicky (2016) joined in. Previously I played drums in a crust punk band in Poland in '90s.

Have you been in bands before Nieviem at all, Hope?
Hope: Yes, I’ve been in a couple, but my current projects are the ones that I’ve taken the most seriously and put all of my effort and dedication into. Before Nieviem and Hellter-Skellter [my other band] I was mostly performing covers or just helping other people bring their songs to life with very little of my own creative input.

How would you describe your sound? At times it reminds me a bit of Rise Against.
Bart: Hahaha that's a nice compliment, thank you. I think our music is more simple than Rise Against though. I was growing up in '90s in Poland, so I think you can hear the sound of Polish bands such as Post Regiment, Apatia, 1125 or Dezerter but if I would have to describe it, I would say it's mixture of Polish band Post Regiment and Pennywise the most.
Hope: Since I took much inspiration from them, I’m going to say our style is quite like Bad Religion. I’m not sure I can quite hear the Rise Against sound in our music as you describe, but I might take that thought on board for the next original we make.

Have there been any bands that have really inspired you?
Bart: I've been listening to punk music since I remember, probably I was 10-12 years old when it began. There is plenty of bands I take my inspiration from. I come back to Polish bands from '90s very often, so definitely Post Regiment, Apatia, 1125, Schizma, Alians, Włochaty, Guernica Y Luno, Homomilitia. Also I'm massive fan of skate punk, so my huge inspiration for Nieviem always are Pennywise, Millencolin, BigWig, 88 Fingers Louie, Vision, Mute, Rise Against but also some old school HC bands such as Biohazard, Madball, Downset, Shoutdown, Battery, Intensity and also I listen to some crust, d-beat bands such as Nausea, Disaffect, Resist, Disorder. I really like our local Wolfbeast Destroyer or Grand Collapse but I still listen to Bolshy quite often which is completely different genre of punk. It's hard to say which of these bands are my main inspiration..........I think all of them inspire me mixing in my head constantly giving the sound of Nieviem in the end.
Hope: I personally have a variety of influences ranging from softer mainstream genres up to heavy metal. For Nieviem though, I decided to immerse myself in melodic punk upon becoming a permanent member of this band and through gigging, I couldn’t help but get into other genres of punk from more low key bands. I think in my most recent piece of writing with this band, I felt massively inspired by The Sporadics’ ‘Fight Truth Decay’ album.
Photo by Carl Gac Photography supplied by Nieviem.
Your original lead singer, Vicky McClelland, left after about a year due to ill health (hope she is doing OK). How did Hope join the band, did you know each other before you/she joined?
Bart: Vicky is getting better slowly but it is a long process and she has to wait for the right treatment. We didn't know Hope before she joined Nieviem. I just asked one of my friends in another band if their singer could fill in for a while, but she couldn't and he recommended Hope, which was a great choice.
Hope: I joined the band through a contact of mine at the college I currently attend [Access To Music Lincoln]. Initially, I was just going to be a fill in temporarily to give the original singer a break, but it just so happened that Vicky decided to leave instead, so since I knew a fair amount of the material, the guys decided to keep me. I never really knew Vicky, but we have spoken a couple of times on Facebook after one of the earlier gigs I did with Nieviem. We had some pleasant conversations though.

Has there been an effect lyrically? Is there a change of style in the newer songs on your latest EP The Hope Is There?
Bart: When Vicky left, she reserved the rights to some of the lyrics as those were too personal to her. There is only three songs with original lyrics written by Vicky,  ‘Everybody's Home’, ‘Feathers’ and ‘Thousand People’. ‘Thousand People’ is based on our conversation about social ignorance in real life. We had a long conversation about it and she wrote this lyrics straight after it. The other lyrics on this EP/album are still personal though, I think.
Hope: Currently, my writing is a bit less political than “Everybody’s Home” and my style is to not quite directly refer to my own emotions when writing about certain experiences I’ve had in my life. So whereas Vicky would express her story referring to oneself, I think I beat around the bush a little more and am more hesitant to open up like that. ‘Fick’ is just me having a rant about someone who used to be in my life and whose friendship was extremely toxic to me and
‘Indifferent’ is about being literally that, and whilst it shows that it is about me to a certain extent, I wouldn’t say there’s much to open up about there either. I think I like to save the emotions for ballads.

I was interested in the lyrics to 'Everybody's Home', could you tell us more about the song, was it a response to anything in particular or to media encouraged xenophobia in general?
Bart: It was written a week after Brexit referendum and it was Vicky's/ours answer to result of it. This is what this song is about.
Hope: Although the lyrics weren’t written by myself, I am very interested in the whole idea of post-truth and the views expressed in the song I feel are spot on.

Could you talk us through the tracks on The Hope Is There what sort of subjects do the songs deal with?
Hope:  1. ‘Indifferent’ Indifference. As you grow, you learn that sometimes it’s best not to bother getting worked up about other people’s problems or even your own because it just isn’t worth the stress or your time. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to control my emotions and get my priorities right. I guess I thought I should write a song about my progress really and about the person I am now.
  1. ‘Everybody’s Home’ Immigration. Often a taboo subject, particularly around those who are less informed on the subject. Also there’s a fair amount about the post-truth world we live in where no one really appears to know what is going on in our world politically. Basically it’s about belief over the facts to try and put it in a nutshell.
  2. ‘Feathers’ Reliance and being drained from some sort of relationship and/or emotion. Of course, I can’t be entirely sure since the lyrics aren’t mine. I remember when I first gave the songs from the first EP a listen as I was preparing to fill in, this one was my favourite.
  3. ‘Thousand People’ Disconnection. How the human race have become distanced from reality because of social media and are generally quite afraid to interact physically/verbally because we constantly hide behind this digital wall. This is my interpretation anyway.
  4. ‘Fick’ Toxicity. It’s about friendships in which you feel you’re the one putting in all the effort but you come to this realization that the person you’re trying to help is too busy wallowing in their own pity to want to help themselves.
  5. ‘Forget Me Not’ Being awesome, or, becoming awesome. I used to drain myself of emotion by putting it all towards people that never appreciated it. ‘Forget Me Not’ is about you putting in that effort, the effort not being appreciated by that person whilst you’re still around, but then they realize what a massive impact you had on them upon walking away from it all and leaving them behind.
  6. ‘Disappointed’ I guess this is about being treated poorly by a love interest. We managed to end up on a Valentine’s compilation with this one which may be somewhat amusing.
Photo by Carl Gac Photography supplied by Nieviem.
You also appeared on the Lincolnshire Punk Compilation Vol.1 which came out in 2017-how did that come about? I'm guessing from the release that there must be a thriving Punk scene in Lincoln(shire)!? I think Truth Equals Treason and Mothcob are from that area aren't they?
Bart: This compilation was released by myself actually haha. I just had an idea to put all local bands on CD and promote our local music and punk scene in Lincoln. Definitely Mothcob is very active band, Truth Equals Treason too. There are still a few other bands in Lincoln such as Throatpunch - HC/powerviolence, Suburban Toys - ska/garage punk and a few new ones which will appear on Volume 2. The release date is planned for March/April so keep your eyes and ears peeled. All I can say, It's gonna be one bonus song by a punk band not from Lincolnshire this time.
Hope: Yes, they are! I think some areas in Lincolnshire are more rich in punk compared to Lincoln and it’s up to people to travel about a little and explore to dig up those gems. I wasn’t really around when the idea of the compilation came about, but I would say its aim is to encourage the expansion of the punk scene and draw new fans in.

Hope, a lot of female musicians experience a degree of sexism-how has your experience been in the DIY punk scene?
Hope: I haven’t experienced anything in relation to this subject actually. I have always fronted bands in which the rest of the member are male though. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t quite put myself out there for real yet that sexism hasn’t occurred. Also, I get a lot of encouragement, especially when after our set when gigging for events, I’ll join the mosh pit and really immerse myself in the fun.

What plans do you have for 2018?
Bart: Plans hmmmmm........OK this is first time we say officially we will be looking for a new drummer. Tomek is moving back to Poland sometimes this year. There is no fixed date, but we will need someone to take his place. We will still play our shows, we still write new songs but I think this is the main task for now. As soon as we'll find the right person there are songs to record and few good events to play including Equinox Festival 2018 and obviously writing and playing as much as we can.
Hope:  Creating original material always! Music is my life and in Nieviem, I really do enjoy writing lyrics and creating melodies… Hopefully I’ll be gigging more in both of my bands and putting some new material out there [foremostly an EP with my other band, so eyes and ears peeled for that please!]

What contemporary bands have you been enjoying lately? Have you read any good books you'd like to put us on to?
Bart: I discover some new and old bands constantly. I really like to listen local bands but lately I've been listening a lot to Bolshy from Liverpool. I know it's not skate punk but this band is awesome and Molly has amazing voice too. Between this I was listening to my usual bands I mentioned about previously. I don't really have much time for reading but I read Heavier Than Heaven, the biography of Kurt Cobain's at the moment. It's quite an old book but The 27 Club musician were always interesting to me.
Also I would like to say thank you very much to all  the kind people we've met, thank you for your support and help. It means a lot to us and it keeps us going. Thanks to all of you who have read this interview till the end and found it interesting! See you at the gigs!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Eagle Spits/Punk 4 The Homeless.

P4TH Poster Feb 2018.
Eagle Spits is probably not his birth name but it does seem to suit a character who 40 years after his initial involvement in punk is still going strong- still angry, hopeful, humorous, militating for change. Seeing The Stranglers on TOTP performing ‘No More Heroes’ at 14 was Eagle’s introduction to punk but he’s never settled for a punk culture of fast music and studded leather jackets, he hung round with The Clash at a gig in Peterborough, got ‘Feeding of the 5000’ by Crass discovered anarchism, became acquainted with the ‘Agitator from Nazareth’, and decided that changing the world was a much better option than giving up on it. And for Eagle that involves punk, in 2014 he commented ‘...’Yes’ I am a punk if punk is an attitude but ‘No’ if it’s someone who just consumes generic, unchallenging crap.. I’m still naive enough to want to change the world and despite its problems believe the punk scene can be a major part of that’ (1).
Eagle quotes one of his heroes Joe Strummer as saying “I thought we were a fucking punk band. I thought that meant we could play what we wanted!’ (1) Eagle has followed the same path artistically- a book of poetry Slap Bang In The Middle of a Contradiction, The Poor Geezers, Spitune, Eaglespitshexx have given expression to spoken word, industrial noise, collaborative cacophonies.
But all Eagle’s hyperactivity and output is with a purpose, with an aim; He wants to wake people up, he wants his art to be an alarm call! In the Old Testament there were prophets who railed against the injustice and inequality of their time. Often ignored and misunderstood these figures challenged the powerful, spoke up for the weak, and were occasionally confrontational- Eagle does his best with the first two and is probably better than most at the last!
But he hasn’t just made lots of noise he also runs ‘Punk 4 The Homeless’ putting on gigs each month, raising money to take kids off the streets of Central America and into the safety of orphanages away from the hands and feet of local cops.
Punk 4 The Homeless has been running since January 2010 mostly through a monthly Punk (Benefit) Gig in Nottingham. The monies raised are channeled through Compass Children’s Charity which started as Casa Alianza UK in February 1999 to raise funds for programmes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Casa Alianza was founded in response to the senseless death of one child – 13-year-old Nahamán Carmona López – a street child kicked to death in Guatemala City by four police officers who found him sniffing glue on the streets to combat his wracking hunger pains (2). This incident lies behind the P4TH slogan, ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’. Last year P4TH put out a call for solidarity gigs which resulted in Norwich, London, Stoke and Bradford hosting P4TH events. This January was the 8th birthday of P4TH and to mark the occasion they released the first volume of Punk 4 the Homeless Compilations featuring bands who have played gigs from the early days, with further volumes planned.
With all this going on and P4TH continuing it’s good work I asked Eagle to explain a bit more about the experience of running P4TH.

Why did you decide to set up P4TH-was there a specific reason and time when you decided to go for it or did the idea gradually evolve?
I know this might sound a bit odd to some people but I had a real feeling that this was what God wanted me to do in September 2009. Our first gig was in January 2010. I had done gigs for homeless causes several times in the preceding years. I have been promoting gigs since the mid 1980's. I was briefly in a homeless hostel myself in 2009 and also helped out at a night shelter and soup kitchen run by a Methodist Church in Boston. Several years earlier my step son had volunteered to work with street kids in Guatemala, which led to me having a relationship with Compass Children's Charity ( formerly Casa Alianza UK). When I decided to set up Punk 4 The Homeless I messaged several homeless charities to see if they wanted any money. It was only Compass who replied. Possibly because I already had a relationship with them, but also possibly because the others didn't want to work with some dirty smelly punk rockers! We have been working closely with Compass Children's Charity ever since but also support a homelessness initiative in Ashton Under lyne , support local homeless projects, did a gig to support survivors of the Tsunami and supported groups in Indonesia. Through this we have also developed a close relationship with the Indonesian Punk community.
Has the work being done in Central America by Compass Children’s Charity changed over time?
The work of Compass Children's Charity is continually changing and evolving in response to need. It mainly centres around street work, engaging with children. Getting children off the streets into orphanages, getting them into education and giving them a future. There are also specialist projects such as a scheme teaching girls to weld in Mexico to avoid going into prostitution, which is often the only alternative. Compass also provide legal support when children are abused and are involved in stopping trafficking. Their teams also do pretty well in the Street Children's World Cup.
What was it like in the early days of P4TH, explaining the idea, organising gigs-was there a good response to the idea of a regular benefit gig?
Starting P4TH was hard work initially, because, in the good old Peter and The Test Tubes tradition, I was banned from the pubs and had to use the hall in a big old Methodist Church as a venue.  People had to drink outside because there wasn’t a bar. We had strong support from a small amount of people, and as often is the case in the Punk community, people were exceptionally generous. A couple more promoters in different cities came on board. Zine writers were keen to promote what we were doing. A local Radio Station got us on board to do a P4TH radio show. It was hard work to get established. I was working around 17 hours a day promoting what we were doing. But, I was on a mission and was slowly chipping away. We have made progress over the years. In the early gigs we made a maximum of about £30 per gig, but when taken into perspective it costs 12p to feed a child in Guatemala City, so we had a huge impact. It was the suggestion of the bands that we didn’t pay expenses, otherwise we would have gone under pretty quickly. We still pay no expenses, however, right from the start we encouraged people to put on gigs to raise money for street children. Our name has been used at several gigs, including one in America in 2017
You seem to have a ‘home’ in The Sumac Centre, Nottingham, do most of the bands who play come from the immediate area?
We have been at The Sumac Centre for 3 years now. Bands come from all over, including outside of the UK to play for us. Our P4TH man in London, Alex Lyng, is expanding our gigs in London. We have a couple of gigs booked already this year. Most years we do collaborations up and down the country with different promoters. This year we are running a P4TH fringe festival in conjunction with Nottingham Green Festival on Sunday 16th September 2018 .
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of putting on a gig? Is there an order of priorities, e.g. venue first, that you’ve found works?
Always find a venue first. Expect things to go wrong; bands to pull out etc. Trust no one else to do anything, ask advice, only drink towards the end of a gig and keep a sense of humour.
You’ve just put out a P4TH Compilation, can you tell us a bit more about the thinking behind that?
In 2010 Stoneage Records bought out a download compilation of Indonesian and western bands to promote our cause. This is still up for free download. Then we came on board with Independent Creative Movement to bring out a massive download for the survivors of the Japanese Tsunami. A couple of years ago we did our own massive download compilation. Since then several people have asked for a hard copy of the download compilation. P4TH Volume 1 is the result and is available through Band Camp and at gigs. We plan to bring out a 3 monthly compilation and are in the initial stages of thinking of setting up a record label.
If somebody wanted to get involved what would be the best way to help?
We always need help. If anyone lives near to Nottingham we need physical help at our monthly gig/stall . Anyone can put gigs on for us and just need to get in touch. As there are 100,000,000 street children in the World there will always be a need ;( Keep it real and Do Not Support Charities that pay exorbitant wages to CEO's.) If anyone wants to get involved drop us a line on FB .
Looking back over 8 years what are the things that stand out for you?
We have made so many friends throughout. We have a massive Punk Rock family. When me and Rachel met and married in 2012 we donated money to street children instead of getting a new toaster! The street children in Nicaragua painted a painting for us. Each gig is unique and a good night out .
What is 2018 looking like, any new ideas/involvements in the pipeline?
Well in addition to the things I’ve already mentioned there is P4TH Fringe Festival,in conjunction with Nottingham Green Festival, Sunday September 16th, The Arboretum, Nottingham. More compilation albums and some surprises no doubt.
You must have your ear to the ground-what bands should we be checking out?
Too big a question to answer. Check out our compilation albums. Anyone who performs in the underground is awesome. Nobody ever made a monument to a critic!
Photo by Rachel Eagling.
Thanks for the interview. Much love
P4TH Team

(1)http://musicculturevision.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/eagle-spits-in-response-to-questions.html

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Track Not Found: Your New Favourite Band?

Photo by Chrissie Johns.
It’s not often I get excited messages from E&D telling me to check out a band so when it happens it’s worth taking seriously! The band in question was Track Not Found and the advice to check them out was sound, as you’d expect! Track Not Found, who are based in Guernsey, have only been going since 2016 but in late 2017 released an EP The Only Way Is Lost, which is three tracks of intense, masterful rock that is dramatic and visceral, without ever being overblown, and draws on a wide range of musical resources without ever sounding derivative. The EP starts gently enough with the intro to ‘Code Red’ before the song metamorphosizes into a full on metal tinged rocker with a vocal that borders on harrowing at times! There is a nice change of texture for both ‘Saint Tears’ (which includes a really nice guitar break) and ‘Ecstasy’ giving the impression that a Track Not Found album would be a very good thing indeed! Great debut EP! In fact so impressive an interview seemed like a good idea and I contacted Emma Thomas (drums and vocals), Grace Taylor (guitar and vocals) and Maisie Bisson (bass and vocals) to find out a bit more about Track Not Found.      

Can you tell us a bit about Track Not Found, you've been going since early 2016, I think. How did you get together? Had any of you been in previous bands?
We found each other at an under 18s live music event (sound.gg) in February 2016. Emma was playing with her old band The Bone Idols (who don't exist anymore, after Emma quit to join <track not found>) and we quickly bonded over a shared music taste. A couple of months later we started rehearsing in Emma's living room with the drum kit and amps in the corner.
We're all school kids in years 11 and 12 and we're definitely the 'kool kids' (aha not really, at school no one really talks about the band). Being young we used to struggle getting adult gigs but we're slowly trying to bridge the gap between adults and teens in music.

and then within two years you put out the ridiculously good 3 track EP The Only Way Is Lost! It's had really positive responses, including from an E&D Editor who put me on to you! How did your sound come about, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do from the start or did it gradually emerge?
Thanks we're glad you enjoy it! We never made a conscious decision on what genre we were going to be, the original plan was just to play songs that we liked and were fun to play. In fact the first cover we were going to learn was 'Sunshine of Your Love' by Cream, although the first that actually stuck was 'Little Monster' by Royal Blood. We have now dropped all covers apart from 'Bath Salts' by Highly Suspect but are considering relearning 'Little Monster' for the memories. Writing originals really helped us develop our style more and get our sound to a place that we are happy with, so our music really has been formed gradually and changes slightly with every gig we do.

How would you describe your sound-people seem to be struggling to put a label on you!?
To be honest, we also struggle to put a name to it... It's a bit of everything really; grungy, screamo, rock, blues, and some other stuff.

Who would you admit to as influences? Bizarrely the intro to 'Code Red' reminded me of early Genesis!!
We have been asked about this so many times and each time the list of influences just gets longer, mainly we just draw influence from our favourite bands. The list goes a bit like this; Jack White, Placebo, Muse, Royal Blood, Dresden Dolls, Ghost, Highly Suspect, Nirvana, David Bowie, Bat For Lashes, Stitched up Heart and a great band from Guernsey called Static Alice. Surprisingly people often compare us to bands that we haven't listen to much, so we may have been influenced by some other bands subconsciously.

Who would you not admit to being influenced by!
Hmmm, we'd probably not be that quick to say that we take influence from My Chemical Romance (we are all true emos at heart), Die Antwoord and 'Toxic' by Brittany Spears. We are the first to say that our music tastes are all over the place but what's the point in restricting yourself when there is so much great music out there. If you wanna have a look at more of our influences that we aren't as open about take a look at our playlist on spotify - (https://open.spotify.com/user/finding_the_tracks/playlist/28uBGVkanJA2w6dbMdRfGb)

I noticed that you've already played about 20 gigs in just 18 months- has that been mostly on Guernsey or further afield as well? What is the music scene like in Guernsey?
So far we've only ever played in Guernsey with our first gig off island in Jersey on the 17th of February. But this hasn't stopped us from loving the gigs we've done. The Guernsey music scene is so great, everyone knows everyone and it is such a friendly supportive environment. We have found some of our tightest friends through the music scene and have met so many amazing people at gigs. Despite most gigs being strictly over 18 there is a monthly under 18s live music night put on by Sound Guernsey that has given us great gigs and opportunities. However, our best memories are from the festivals and the summers that we've spent together. Chaos festival last year was a massive turning point for the band when we felt really passionate about music and the scene. The one downside about being a part of the scene over here is how hard it is to play gigs in the UK and get your name out there, it's a real shame because there are so many great bands that are stuck on our little rock. Other than that, we love being part of the community over here and have always felt supported and at home.

How does a song come about in Track Not Found? Is it very collaborative or is there one main songwriter? Does it start with music or lyrics?
All of the above really, usually Grace writes something on her acoustic guitar and shows it to the band, we start working on it and from there it becomes a finished song. Usually it starts with a riff but sometimes with lyrics, but then again some songs have just come from messing about and band practice (these tend to be heavier and slightly looser). We all have an important part in shaping how our songs sound and we really enjoy the song writing process.

and what sort of things do you draw on in songwriting and performance? Books, films, personal experience?
Our stage style acts as a big part of our performance - visually we're inspired by tank girl and riot grrrl styles, as well as inspiration taken from Instagram, people like Casper Blaise, we buy a lot of our clothes from charity shops. Musically we mainly draw on pieces of art and personal experience as well as some messages that we want to express to our audience.

Could you talk us through 'Code Red', 'Ecstasy' and 'Saint Tears'- what sort of subject matter are you exploring in the different tracks?
For this question it's probably best to hand over to Grace as all three songs on the EP started off with Grace and her acoustic guitar. So in Grace's words;
'Saint Tears' is told in third person like a story or concept that I thought of. Basically it's just because we wanted a really 'nice' song, the main message in it is 'I don't care what anyone thinks'.
'Code Red' is all emotions, I was 'in a dark place' when I wrote this one and it means a lot to the band.
'Ecstasy' was written in 2016, the breakdown was kinda dubstep inspired. The subject matter of Ecstasy isn't much, just edgy lyrics, I can't really remember what I was thinking when I wrote it.

How can people get to hear and get hold of your EP?
You can listen to the EP on Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Youtube, Amazon and ITunes soon or you can buy a physical copy on our websitewww.tracknotfound.com and we'll send it through the post. :)

What bands and books have you been enjoying lately, any favourite writers?    
We are always listening to different bands but to list a couple that are at the top of our playlists at the moment: Mother Mother, Kate Bush, Meds by Placebo and the new music that Jack White is putting out. We are also listening to a fair bit of popular 70s rock and disco (especially the legendary Bee Gees) to help us get through the winter. Book wise Maisie reads the most, at the moment she is working her way through the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels and won't shut up about them!

What are your plans for 2018? Any more releases planned, and perhaps most importantly when can we all get  to see you live!?
We are very excited for 2018 and have big plans for later this year, including a full length album, many more (perhaps more experimental) songs, developing our stage presence and look more, and plenty of gigs. Probably the most exciting plan for this year is our two and a bit weeks that we will spend in summer touring England! So far we have a couple of dates confirmed including one night at The Finsbury in London. For more information about where you can see us have a look at our website, Facebook and Twitter where we'll update you on where and when we have gigs.



Bibliography.
Hadad, K. (2018) Track Not Found-'The Only Way Is Lost (Grunge/Riot Grrrl/Punk/ Metal)' at Record Crates United.
https://recordcratesunited.com/2018/01/24/track-not-found-the-only-way-is-lost-grunge-riot-grrl-punk-metal/