Saturday, 4 August 2018

Monstrous Machines by Night Kayakers Kill Again.


Wow! So many good bands around putting out so much good stuff. If anyone ever tries to point you to some golden age of music (normally when they were young), you know that 'back in the day' type stuff, don't believe them! There is an extraordinary amount of great music being made at any point, including now!
A while ago someone sent me a copy of Prepare Yourself for an Emergency a split CD of eight tracks; two each from The Fleas, Geezapunx, Brash Bullets and Le Snags. The two tracks by Le Snags (who seemed to have (had) some connection to The Snuggle Bugs) were excellent all distorted vocals over fuzzy guitar, slightly psyched out stuff, with a vaguely Hawkwindish vibe. Changing their name again to Night Kayakers Kill Again and with a new album Work Hard, Be A Good Citizen coming out next year, the band have picked 10 tracks from the back catalogue of Le Snags' stuff putting it out under the new band name, thus both creating a sense of continuity and marking the end of a chapter simultaneously. Clever.
So what is Monstrous Machines like? Initially confusing, especially in summer, as it starts off with the sound of one of those really loud, annoying flies that won't shut up! First track containing human sounds is 'We are the Enemy', which gets the album off to a flyer (see what I did there...), big drums with half heard vocals down in the mix, "You are the enemy, we are the enemy" before edgy guitar comes in, vocals exploring the mutually hostile class interests inherent in capitalism and the corrupting effects of living in a society based around competition, alienation and violence.
Next track 'Big Money' is all big chunky guitar sound and rapid fire vocals, Track 4 is 'Oi! Wot I Said', I remember this from Prepare Yourself for an Emergency and it sounds ace! Distorted vocals and a noticeable change of style, exploring feelings of social/political disempowerment and being ignored (as a means of control?)

"You're up there shoutin' down at me 
I'm down here but you can't hear me 
You took away our voice 
You took away our voice 
It's not like you left us no choice we ain't free 
I wanna know have you heard a word that I said 
I want you to tell me have you listened to a word I said".

A fuzzed out gem but some where in there is a pop song musicality, reminded me a bit of The Fleas in that way.
Track 5 is 'Hard Stop', the sound of a wild night encounter with the cops, intense. Great thing about Le Snags/Night Kayakers Kill Again, and a retrospective makes this clearer, is the sense of a band that can't quite stay still, that are too interested to stay in one place for long, which keeps them interesting!
'Assassins' slows things down a bit before 'Carpathian Warlord Pt.2/Enemy', I absolutely love the first part of this before it segues into 'Enemy', they need to rerecord this track and make 'Carpathian Warlord Pt.2' at least three times longer! Megaphone vocals come at you over fuzzed up guitar and sonic attack bursts, Bob Calvert would have loved this!
'Parliament Ltd' is an incisive analysis of career politicians, of the establishment. " dirty, crooked...you're in it for the money...lord it up with your OBE...look after each other...oh what a show"
'Last Refuge For A Scoundrel' is, I guess, a reference to the Samuel Johnson comment about patriotism (1).

"You tell me I'm the problem 
You tell me I'm to blame 
Saw you talkin' to me neighbour 'n' you were tellin' him the same 
Now I hate everyone 
And everyone hates me 
But some people get hated more there's no equality 
Lets blame the weak 
Lets hunt the weak"

Last track up is 'Nuclear Device (Bleak Outlook)', a concern newly relevant in the opinion of Noam Chomsky, 

"Surrounded by hypocrisy 
To you we're pawns to abuse 
The situation's out of hand 
It's a vicious circle it just goes round and round 
Are you gonna press the button 
For your own self destruction"


If you like your punk angry and psych tinged this would be well worth a try, I think they're selling the CD at gigs, but I guess they would send you a copy out. However if you are living in the South somewhere Night Kayakers Kill Again are hooking up with The White Skull Death Snakes of Death for a couple of gigs soon, definitely worth getting along to! Although how big is the poster going to have to be to get both those bands' names on?!

(1)http://www.samueljohnson.com/refuge.html
Lyrics courtesy of https://thesnags.bandcamp.com

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

'We Might Not Make Tomorrow' Video by Girls In Synthesis.

Photo by Bea Dewhurst.
Sometimes the unexpected happens and a band that you can't imagine getting any better manages to raise the bar even higher! When Girls In Synthesis released their four track EP We Might Not Make Tomorrow in May this year it seemed like the perfect realisation of the band at this point; intense, abrasive, confrontational, original yet somehow containing half caught glimpses of incendiary half remembered songs that helped bring you to musical life, formed the origins of your musical cosmos. 
In a time when we are encouraged to 'Calm Down and Carry On' and mainstream culture is often the soporific result of market forces Girls In Synthesis remind us of what art and music should be, should do! Listening to them is like grabbing hold of a live cable, like a mains jolt-WAKE UP- a dissident soundtrack to the urgent intensity of urban Britain in 2018. 
With the 'Fan The Flames' UK tour coming up in October/November they have now released an accompanying video to the EP title track, 'We Might Not Make Tomorrow', which manages to brilliantly compliment the feel of the song upping the ante through an art sensibility that shows what can be accomplished with intelligence, creativity and a DIY ethos. 
Here it is!! Oh yeah..make sure you are sitting down!!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Know Your Place...? by Truth Equals Treason; Intelligent, Ferocious, Inspiring!

Courtesy of T=T.
Lincoln based Truth Equals Treason, whose name was inspired by whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, formed in 2015 releasing their first 5 track mini album It’s Got A Photo Of Thatcher, It Must Be As Punk As Fuck in early 2017a collection of hard core political punk diatribes that engaged with the corrosive effects of mainstream media, working class experience in 21st Century industrial capitalism (‘Lives are spent, live like drones-hand to mouth and payday loans’) and the plight of refugees and the West’s military involvements that so often lie behind their flight. It was a great debut album from a band on a mission, as guitarist Jam said in an interview for Echoes and Dust It’s Got A Photo Of Thatcher, It Must Be As Punk As Fuck is ‘Essentially modern life in microcosm, sadly. The title might also be a little dig at lazy ‘dad-punk’ that sometimes appears to think that wearing a pair of bondage trousers, surrounding yourself with the tired iconography of 35-40 years ago, and singing about puking your guts up after 20 pints and a kebab is all that punk’s about… I mean, I’m a fully-paid-up old fart myself, and we all wallow in nostalgia at times, but c’mon – punk used to shake the foundations of society for fuck’s sake! There are still plenty of battles to be fought here and now to try to make the world a slightly better place, so let’s have it!’ (1)
The rest of 2017 saw Truth Equals Treason release the Fifty Shades of Pain single and ‘Through The Cracks’ a benefit track with all monies made going to Punk 4 The Homeless; a band who put their money where their mouth is.
Fast forward to June 2018 (via a couple of compilations) and T=T have released their second mini album Know Your Place…? Now in rock mythology there is the idea of the ‘difficult ‘second album so it’s always interesting to see what a band comes up with once they’ve used up all their best, tried and tested material in their first release, does Know Your Place…? manage to build on It’s Got A Photo Of Thatcher, It Must Be As Punk As Fuck or is it IGAPOTIMBAPAF Part II?
Good news is T=T have managed to raise the bar in every way with Know Your Place…? It’s a cleverer, sharper, slightly more sophisticated, more variously textured album while keeping the anger, the compassion, the power of their first outing.
With Know Your Place…? Truth Equals Treason don’t even let you get the CD in the player before they’re having a go, making you think, challenging you about your own complicity in the militarised, neoliberal plutocracy that is the UK 2018. On the cover a group of six marionettes stand heads bowed with a seventh out front standing tall with cut strings and a pair of scissors in hand. Thoughts occur, ‘Where am I in that picture?’...’The lead marionette is wielding the scissors, no one has cut the strings for her/him...what resources do the scissors represent?
For those of you into such things you’ll be pleased to know it just keep getting better when you slide the CD out, it looks like an old school vinyl single! Nice touch! Plus lyric sheet. A lot of thought and love has obviously gone into this.
Know Your Place…? starts with a sampled speech ‘Today the top tenth of 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 90%’ then the music starts while another voice dismantles trickle down economics. Brooding, ominous, setting the scene, the lull before the storm...then it hits! Think G.L.O.S.S., think Glamour, think your favourite old school hard core band, great riffs, great drums and incisive lyrics delivered with barely contained fury-Glen gives the impression that if he wasn’t singing ‘Crumbs from the Table’ he’d be in danger of spontaneous combustion
‘Sit up and fight - your blood it should boil!
Or lay down and suffer a lifetime of toil.
The system's a farce, you’ve got nobody fooled;
if you close our eyes, then they’ll always rule.
Aspiration to lies - all power is guarded;
they gave us nothing - why should the advantaged?
Sold an illusion - told we are free;
dangled a carrot - social mobility.

If you’re willing and able; you’ll get the crumbs from the table.
If you’re strong and you’re stable; and believe in their fables.’

Honestly punk doesn’t get better than this, great start!

Track 2 ‘Progress’ has an extended ferocious Intro before the vocals come in as more of a recitation than a song.
‘More people in the west now die as a consequence of our way of life, our standard of living, and our affluence, than are killed by natural disease. We slaughter them in road accidents; we kill them with fast food, smoking, and through alcohol abuse; we addict them to drugs and chemicals. A vacuous media diminishes their feeling of self-worth to the point where they kill themselves because they’re convinced that they’re too fat, too thin, too short, tall, or flawed in some other way. We drive them to think only of success and convince them that personal achievement overrides the needs or rights of others.
Does that sound like progress to you?’
Truth Equals Treason collective response? ‘FUCK OFF!’ before somehow Jam and Alan raise the intensity even more while Glen roars ‘Does that sound like progress to you?’ Brilliant!

‘Born Again Atheist’ takes aim at the dark side of religion, right wing Christians-isn’t that an oxymoron?- TV Evangelists fleecing the vulnerable, religious intolerance, religion as the co-opted priesthood of the status quo. Understandably T=T are a little put off by this litany of abuses and power plays, by religion as a means of social control, but cleverly, while stating their atheist position, they don’t take aim at the spirituality of the poor or the use of faith as a resource in the struggle for freedom (eg Liberation theology). Clever, nuanced song. This is no adolescent shock stuff, well thought out.

‘And the Bombs Keep Falling…’ is as hard core as you like, furious musically and lyrically if this doesn’t make you cerebrally/emotionally angry and physically excited then you probably need to take your pulse, you may be comatose.
‘A charred corpse kneels in supplication,
arms raised to shield against the fire.
‘Assets deployed’ to defend the nation;
piling fuel on the world’s funeral pyre.

Bad men’s bodies strewn amongst babies’ toys;
Predator’s feel no parent’s concern.
‘Collateral damage’ means more girls and boys.
Hellfire rains down and the bodies burn.

A father kneels and holds his lifeless child.
But death came not from terror’s hand.
Tries to remember his baby’s smile,
as her blood seeps away into the sand.

And the bombs, they just keep falling…’

All over h/c riffs that perfectly compliment the subject matter!

Track 5 ‘Blame Thy Neighbour’ is even better!! It starts with xenophobe Katie Hopkins arrogant twaddle before T=T’s riposte to the new mainstreamed, smartened up, media savvy alt right. Musically it starts off at a slightly slower pace before Glen's vocals/roar kicks in and the whole thing becomes an anthemic masterpiece! Are three people allowed to make this much noise?
‘Confront them on your doorstep; far too close to home.
Fuck the fascist, fuck the racist, sexist homophobes.
I see you on my doorstep; we’ll have it, toe-to-toe.
Fuck you fascist, fuck you racist, sexist homophobes.

Daily war from the street to the shop-floor.
Everyday war; we can’t afford to ignore.
Explain away all inequality;
blame thy neighbour, not those in authority.
Shut ‘em down; nothing but trouble.
Anti-fascist war; it’s an everyday struggle.
Vigilance: be eyes, be ears.
Dogs they prey on the slightest fears.’

Towards the end the sound of chanting ‘Alerta! Alerta! Antifacista!’ comes in, this is punk at it’s best! T=T manage to encapsulate all that makes punk important-intelligent, engaged, angry, compassionate. This album is the distillation of hours of reading, thinking, discussing, acting. I’ve just read Reminiscences of RAR this band carry on that struggle.

Last track up is ‘Four Million Watching’ on surveillance. Great way to end the album, musicality, lyrical intelligence, engagement with the Panopticon society, self policing, 1984, who watches the watcher?

Look I’ve pretty much run out of words to describe this album. It’s an exhilarating, exciting reminder of the world we live in, our responsibility to make it a better place and what made you love punk initially. My partner asked me to review Know Your Place…? while she was out as she knew it would involve loud, repeated playing but when I put it on for a reconnaissance listen she was dancing excitedly around in the next room! Buy It!! Go and see this band!

By the way if you're offended by swearing don’t buy this album, but if you're offended by injustice, inequality and oppression then buy it now!
  



Bibliography.  

(1)https://www.echoesanddust.com/2017/11/truth-equals-treason-punk-cannot-afford-to-stagnate-our-message-should-not-be-diluted/  

Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Worst Show On Earth: Evil Blizzard.

Photo courtesy of Division Promotions.
OK so where do I start! I’ve seen the name Evil Blizzard for a while now, especially in Psych Rock circles but to be honest never got round to checking them out so when someone sent me a link to their latest album I came to it pretty ignorant. A bit of reading up on them and, first surprise, found them listed on the Rebellion Festival line up for this August! Second surprise, they’ve played there several times before. So I fished them out of the Psych drawer and decided that maybe I should give writing a review of their new album a go.
Practicing the Situationist method of appropriation and detournement Evil Blizzard have taken a critic’s description of one of their gigs (1) and called their new album The Worst Show on Earth-and any review is going to start off inevitably with the cover, a disturbing photo montage which to be honest put me off them initially. It’s like an abject art take on Moby’s 18, the one where Moby is standing in front of a bright blue sky, astronauts helmet under his left arm. Evil Blizzard’s cover is like a shock rock equivalent, similar blue sky, similar sandy terrain but in this artwork a sinister clown stares down at you, horse head tucked under his arm. This is a band who understand the power of the visual so I’m sure they won’t mind that it had the predictable effect of making me a little wary of them, was this going to be some tedious Slipknot/Alice Cooper retread trading in horror shtick? However onwards-’You can’t judge an album by the cover’ as they say, and any band who have opened for Ruts DC, Sleaford Mods and Bo Ningen (2) deserve a listen in my eyes/ears.
The Worst Show on Earth is composed of 8 diverse tracks-if you can imagine falling into a post modern cement mixer with Hawkwind, PIL, Gnod and bizarrely early Genesis (but that might be the masks), miscellaneous heavy riffing and more bass guitarists than you can shake a stick at then you may be near to the general feel of this album, although it is not without it’s subtle, more nuanced moments as well. Apparently they went into the studio with a couple of road tested tracks and then just went for it (1), so I guess this is a fair indicator of their live show.
First track ‘Hello’ starts off with a keyboard intro reminding a bit of ‘Tron’ by Gnod before it gradually evolves into a full on rocker, ‘Who are we, we are we. Who are you, you are you?’ Great riffs, headbangers could well end up in hospital-be warned!
Second track ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ is almost like ‘Hello’ Part II in tempo and feel, a continuation of the full out assault on your musical senses-excellent!
‘Unleash The Misery’ changes the feel, drums, keyboard, Tom Waits style vocals, completely different rhythms going on before the guitars kick in, nice change of textures. No one trick pony. Really like this musically.
‘Those You Left Behind’ is another heads down rocker with echoes of glam swirling around in there somewhere!
‘Like A God’ is next up and another slight change of feel, probably the best start so far for me, brooding, building-you know something is coming...very Doremi Farsol Latido, then it shifts again, really great, interesting track, loads of Hawkwindish stuff going on here. Back into tense...on a very good album this stands out.
A bit like ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ kept the ‘Hello’ vibe going ‘Tell Me’, keeps the energy of ‘Like A God’ going, maintaining that slightly edgy feel, good stuff.
Just when you think you’ve got The Worst Show on Earth sussed it metamorphosizes, changes direction again and becomes a far more moody piece of work, and I’d say they’ve perfectly timed it. Glimpses of early Bowie are half caught out of the corner of your eye as the penultimate track progresses with a child’s voice reciting in the background that all (original) artistic expression has happened, that we have found our truths to be lies (I think). Self deprecating, self aware comment? Commentary on the cultural state of late capitalism?
Final track ‘The Worst Show on Earth’ revisits and redeploys the Intro from ‘Hello’, with the voice of German poet Arne Wald over keyboard (1) before the track builds atmospherically into something truly magnificent. Great work.     
Evil Blizzard seemed to have managed to synthesise early metal riffs, punk and psych (and a touch of Prog?) into a very coherent, satisfying whole, with for me the most interesting tracks coming at the end-great album. Really interesting to see a flow going on between the psych and the punk scene, it will make both richer. Gnod and The Oscillation playing Rebellion next year?! The Ruts DC and Truth Equals Treason at Raw Power?!

John Lydon has never made any secret of his pre punk appreciation of Hawkwind and with PIL playing Rebellion this year keep an eye out for him in the queue to see Evil Blizzard!.

(1)Little, A. (2018) ’Review:Evil Blizzard-The Worst Show on Earth’ https://www.echoesanddust.com/2018/06/evil-blizzard-the-worst-show-on-earth/

(2)http://www.evilblizzard.com/unleash.html

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Reification Blues by White Skull Death Snakes of Death, " intense, mesmeric, wholly original"

Courtesy of WSDSoD/Artwork Anthony Thomas.
Every now and then you see/hear a band that you struggle to pigeonhole, Forward Russia, Gnod, bands that seem to have synthesised the component parts of rock in ways that are new to you or are constructing their art using slightly different resources. Somewhere near Housewives but with off kilter bits of phrasing and structure in the vocals that occasionally echoes Talking Heads Nottingham based White Skull Death Snakes of Death are not, as their name may suggest, some obscure overblown 70s metal group but a 21st Century reimagining, reconstructing of punk! Drawing on punk sensibilities but pointing it in a slightly different direction they’ve been compared to The Fall and Christian Lunch. while their vocalist Anthony Thomas cites Jello Biafra, early Black Flag, Steve Albini, Iggy Pop and Birthday Party era Nick Cave as influences.
Formed in the summer of 2013 when Anthony (vocals) and Mat (bass) Thomas joined a pre existing duo of Gareth 'Winty' Winterman (guitar) and Dom Goodbarn (drums) White Skull Death Snakes of Death had their first gig in December of the same year. It was late last year when I first came across them at a punk benefit gig when their set was an intense, mesmeric, wholly original shock to the system! So have they managed to reproduce that on this album?
The brief answer is 'Completely!!' Trying to stay as close to the live show as possible they recorded Reification Blues live with Phil Booth at JT Soar, an ex-warehouse now DIY and music space in Nottingham (1), with Mat the bassist mixing the album and Tiago Queiroz mastering it. The result is superb!
Reification Blues is a blistering album of complex angular punk that doesn’t compromise, if a successful artist is one that manages to bring into being that that they imagined-transposing the imagined into reality-then White Skull Death Snakes of Death are a successful band, this 8 track album perfectly captures them in multifaceted full flow!
The album kicks off with ‘Children of Edith’ which lyrically came about as a response to the Charlie Hebdo attack in France. It’s 4 minutes of relentless rock/punk with Anthony’s vocals demanding your attention as they become increasingly intense. If you use music as a comfort blanket don’t buy this album!
Next track ‘Gravity’s Pull’ ups the tempo and the intensity! Not sure how they managed that really! Pulverising can be a bit overused but not in this context! But it isn’t that old school bludgeoning ‘Turn it all up to 11’ type power, this is music made by a band who know exactly how to achieve the effect they are after and don’t have to rely on upping the decibels. Although I’m sure they would be very happy to do that as well!
‘Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies’ savages the manipulative and dangerous machinations of some contemporary politicians as they up the nationalist ante. I’m not sure if the comment at the end ‘Another glorious mess’ is an initial frustrated response to the recording or a reference to current right wing politics-I like to think the latter!
‘The Sweet Smell of Excess’ and ‘Dream of Mo’ maintain the quality, in an alternative dance universe the latter is a huge hit!
Track 6 is ‘Housewives Favourite’, distilled musical fury while Ant takes a swipe at old school, often middle aged, lotharios.
Penultimate track is ‘On Demand’, great riff, great chorus! Just great, full stop.
‘Max’ is a song worthy of the honour of being the signing off track-it has everything that I’ve mentioned earlier, clever lyrics-about the motivations and mindset of a lone bomber-Anthony’s delivery is dramatic without ever being melodramatic, the sound perfectly complimenting the vocals. Thunderous drums-did I mention the thunderous drums earlier? Sinewy guitar snaking its way through the tumultuous, brilliantly organised highly sophisticated racket.
Think Gang of Four meets Idles, intelligence, musical nous and power.

You probably haven’t heard of White Skull Death Snakes of Death, you’re confused by their name, it’s got two ‘Death’s in it for one thing but you are seriously missing out if you don’t give this album a listen. And when you have I’ll see you down the front at one of their gigs in the near future.

https://whiteskulldeathsnakesofdeath.bandcamp.com/releases



Bibliography.
(1)https://www.alttickets.com/venue/nottingham/jt-soars

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Girls In Synthesis: An Interview.

Photo by Bea Dewhurst.
Formed in late 2016, Girls In Synthesis is comprised of John, Jim and Nicole who, inspired by the early DIY punk and post-punk movements, have had four releases The Mound/Disappear, the Suburban Hell EP, a Dub version of Suburban Hell and very recently the EP We Might Not Make Tomorrow. As exciting as the first time you heard your favourite band their music is intense and abrasive drawing on Crass, Flipper, Wire and The Fall as influences although to be honest they sound like none of them particularly and do sound like a jarring, adrenalised version of life in Britain and every band that’s made you feel alive. No wonder Louder Than War commented on the Suburban Hell EP ‘...feeling utterly original….Girls in Synthesis are clearly very sonically clever, and the mix of the waves of feedback and swirling myriad of sound colliding with the very minimal and primitive is hugely effective...A truly exciting, exhilarating assault on the senses…’(1)
Enthralled by a band who sound like they’ve re-energised punk and who have a real DIY ethos, they've kept everything in-house; artwork, videos, performances and recordings all being created by the band and a small group of collaborators, I made contact with John for an interview...
Girls In Synthesis came together in late 2016-did you have a clear vision for the band from the start or has it been more evolutionary?
There was definitely a strong and clear vision before we played a note or wrote a song. The vision was to bludgeon the ears, without resorting to heavy riffing, distortion, rock n roll clichés etc. It has certainly evolved over the last year and a bit into something a little more nuanced and subtle. We present the group as a full package, so if we can’t sell an idea to each other (visuals, music, presentation etc) then we veto it. That has been in place from the start.
Engaging with your music is an experience of being confronted with distilled reality as opposed to escapism-is that what you intend? A music that mirrors the jarring, anxiety inducing social and economic experience of many in neoliberal  Britain (2)?
I think there is some truth in that, yeah. Some probably see our outlook as po-faced and maybe a bit impenetrable, certainly musically that has been thrown at us. But, as we are all past the glory years of our teens/20’s, there has to be a time to face up to reality. I have a son, and while I’m able to bury my head in the sand (to some degree) for my own sake, I can’t do it for his. I wouldn’t say we tackle politics head-on, like some groups do, but we do address it in our own way. The ‘personal politics’ aspect of life we can tackle, as although it varies from individual to individual the pace of life and the strains of living affects most of us in the same ways.
Do Girls In Synthesis draw attention to that experience as an act of resistance? Picasso's idea that art can be a weapon, an alarm bell?
Hmm… I guess so, but sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself of that, I think. We do feel that we project a form of opposition in some way, and through the noise hopefully people can hear (and identify) with the lyrics. We always make sure they’re printed in full with each release. But can music change anything? I’m not sure… It’s hard to see what can at the moment. I think deep down the group presents itself as a sounding block for each of us. A weapon, perhaps, but I couldn’t say what for.
Your approach to gigs seems to be to create an immersive environment not just play music for people. An art installation more than a conventional gig?
Yeah, why not! We started performing in the audience at the end of last year, and the shows became a million times more memorable. If you were going to be critical, I guess some could level a “attention seeking/spectacle” charge at it. However, the results speak for themselves. People come away from our shows having felt something. That’s the whole point. Hate it or love it, we’d rather have a reaction. And that’s what we get. People have much better ways of spending a Tuesday night in East London, why not give them something to react to and, essentially, remember?
As far as I understand it Relational Aesthetics was the idea that a piece of art was completed by the involvement/contribution of others-a 'participatory other' rather than a passive consumer. Is that what you are doing live? Transforming the 'audience' into part of the creative process?
Absolutely. There wouldn’t be a great deal of point performing this music without an audience present… our music isn’t technically interesting, it’s pretty unforgiving and belligerent. I guess it doesn’t care whether you like it or not. But, as I’ve said, audiences do react if you give them an opportunity to. We’ve had shows where people will just grab the mic and start doing there own thing. We’ve given people our guitars and let them get on with it… we’ve only really just started touching this aspect, really. We often wonder what we’ll do when we play bigger venues or support acts in such places… but we’ll get round it. Playing on-stage for a whole show isn’t an option for us.
With the organisation of space at your gigs dismantling the artist/audience dichotomy and hierarchy (3)-is that the intention?
Yes and no. Undoubtedly, there is a hierarchy, whether we like it or not. It’s not an open mic night… but, in very simple terms, part of it is us being bored to fuck of bands with long hair staring at their effects pedals while playing a show. Ten a penny. It’s a way of involving people, giving them a bit more for their money/time. I think people respect the fact that we get among them.
“Destroying the barrier between the audience and the artist” is a bit hackneyed, isn’t it? No one else, as far as I can see, has really made a proper stab at it. Saying that, I doubt we’re the first, but maybe just the only group making the effort to achieve it at the moment?
A widening out of the punk DIY aesthetic to everyone present...?!
Yeah, I’ll have that.
Is there a group of bands that you feel a musical affinity with? The almost physical intensity of your sound reminded me a little of Gnod, Housewives, Idles.
Not really… I’ve heard all of the above, and as good as they are, I think we’re far too wrapped up in our own world to really consider the good and bad about contemporaries. I love Bad Breeding, they’re the best group I’ve heard in years. They’re a lot more hardline that us, both musically and lyrically, but I’m from a similar suburban area of Hertfordshire as them, so I identify with the way they project their frustrations.
Starting on the 15 June there is a photo exhibition in London documenting the band, with all money raised going to the charity Mind, could you tell us a bit more about that, how it came about?
I can… my partner works at Lomography in London, and she is a huge proponent of analogue photography. She has been documenting bands since her teens, and she’s the perfect person to have document us visually. She has a huge collection of photos of us, from day dot up until now. They’re works of art within themselves, we’re merely artists’ models in some way. There’s no self-consciousness from our part when she’s snapping, so her work suggested she use the small gallery space to show people what she can do.
It’s going to be a great, celebratory night for us, having just released the new E.P. Every other celebration has involved playing a show at the end of it, so we’ll just be playing some records at the launch, drinking and marvelling at wonderful photographs of our ugly mugs. Her Instagram is www.instagram.com/starr.snaps if anyone fancies a look.
So far you have had three releases The Mound/Disappear, the Suburban Hell EP and very recently the EP We Might Not Make Tomorrow. What sort of subject matter and themes do you explore on the different releases?
I think the first single dealt with an abstract representation of frustration and paranoia. I think the music is where strength lies for those particular songs.
‘Suburban Hell’ again, deals with personal issues alongside the title track’s anger towards middle class suburbia. I grew up among this, so I feel at least slightly qualified to comment on it! 'Phases' is about the stupidity and nativity towards hard drugs, and how there seems to be a blight among young musicians at the moment. Maybe it’s always been there, I don’t know.
I think the WMNMT E.P has the best lyrics so far, and they stretch from the fear of COLD WAR II and the real threat of nuclear war to the governments attitude towards animal rights, the USA elections and ageing and fading youth. To explain them all too deeply would probably kill some of the interpretation, but I’m very proud of this collection. Jim’s lyrics are excellent and add another point of view to my own.
Your artwork is really interesting, what sort of ideas informed the images? The cover of The Mound/Disappear for some reason reminded me of, and subverted, the gender hierarchy of Gainsborough's Mr and Mrs Andrews. Could you unpack the artwork for us?
'The Mound' artwork was a gesture towards us not wanting to push the personal parts of us as people. So you nearly get to see us, but you’re looking at torsos really. Could be anyone… I’m not aware of any gender roles being subverted here, that certainly wasn’t the attention. It was purely to remove any ‘personality’ from the cover. That’s changed now of course (see the exhibition answer) now we can’t get enough! Haha. However, I think that now we’re documenting the spectacle. We just happen to be part of it.
Suburban Hell has a double garage with a limp England flag. The whole thing looks drab and dull, the asserting of an easy 'off the shelf' identity in a mundane suburban environment...the reproducing of a small minded worldview (2) based around an elite serving top down narrative?
The cover photos for both E.P’s we’re taken by an old friend, Bonnie Carr. She has a fabulous eye for the mundaneness of her surroundings, and it fit perfect with the subject matter of the title song. That feeling of pride, misplaced probably. Proud of what, exactly?
Another garage on We Might Not Make Tomorrow...!!      
Again, taken by Bonnie. None of these photos were taken for the E.P’s, by the way. We just saw them and they seemed to fit perfectly. This photo is of a hearse with a stack of coffins, in some industrial unit somewhere. This helps narrate the title track perfectly, it represents the death, and huge amounts of it, hinted in the song. It also represents death as an industry. Pile them high...
The Dadaist idea was to create their art by drawing on resources that didn't reproduce the status quo? Would Girls In Synthesis be happy to be included in that line of artist?
Nahh… I see our artwork as slightly more functional and utilitarian in a way. Musically, maybe.
What are your plans for the second half of 2018, will we be able to catch you live?
We’re recording over summer, so I don’t think we’ll be doing an awful lot show-wise. But we are booking ourselves a small tour for the end of the year, when we hope to have another release scheduled.

Photo by Bea Dewhurst.

Bibliography.
(1)Britton, A. (2017) ‘Girls In Synthesis-Suburban Hell-EP review and exclusive track premiere’. https://louderthanwar.com/review-girls-synthesis-suburban-hell/
(2)Hardy, SP. (2017) ‘New Music-Girls In Sythesis’ http://www.pylotmagazine.com/new-music-girls-in-synthesis/
(3)https://www.facebook.com/pg/girlsinsynthesis/about/?ref=page_internal
and ‘Girls In Synthesis Q&A’ http://therockclubuk.com/index.php/rock-club-uk-interviews/2834-girls-in-synthesis-q-a

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Punk 4 The Homeless Vol 1.

Image courtesy of P4TH.
Punk 4 The Homeless is the brainchild of Nottingham based couple Eagle Spits and Rachel, admittedly that 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 narrow definition of punk that fetishises fast music and studded belts, for Eagle punk includes a call to arms, to participate in improving the world. Early on he hung round with The Clash before their gig in Peterborough, got ‘Feeding of the 5000’ by Crass discovered anarchism, became acquainted with the ‘Agitator from Nazareth’, and realised that punk that included changing the world made much more sense than punk that gave up on it. 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’.
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!’ Consequently there has been a book of poetry Slap Bang In The Middle of a Contradiction, The Poor Geezers, Spitune, Eaglespitshexx, all have given expression to spoken word, industrial noise, collaborative cacophonies.
Alongside making lots of noise Eagle and Rachel have run ‘Punk 4 The Homeless’ since 2010 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.
This has focussed on 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 in response to the senseless death of one street child – 13-year-old Nahamán Carmona López – at the hands of four police officers in Guatemala City who found him sniffing glue on the streets to combat his wracking hunger pains (1). This incident lies behind the P4TH slogan, ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’.
Earlier this year P4TH released the first in a series of Punk 4 the Homeless Compilations. Volume 1 is made up of 14 tracks by bands who have played P4TH gigs since the early days, with further volumes planned.
The predominant style is musically ‘punk’ in its various forms but there is also a fair smattering of acoustic stuff in there which reflects P4TH’s ‘broad musical church’ approach and makes for a varied aural experience.
Now the tricky bit, how do you review 14 tracks without boring people who can’t actually hear what they are reading about..OK, I’d better make it snappy but comments in no way imply that any tracks are better than the rest and in fact when you buy this excellent album you’ll wonder how I skimmed over…(insert your favourite).
The album kicks off with Brocker, Born To Destruct and 3 Stone Monkey-nice run of three tracks that gets the album off to a quality, energetic start. I’ve only seen Brocker out of these three and this track ‘Gimme Gimme Rock n Roll’ gives a good idea of their melodic end of punk sound, this is one of those tracks that gets better everytime you hear it, which can also be said about the tougher sounding ‘We Love It’ by Born To Destruct and the popier ‘Left to the Right’ by 3 Stone Monkey.
For me it is track 4 by Blackpool based thrash metal/punksters CSOD where things really get going, a riff Motorhead would have been very happy with...hang on while I listen to it again.
Luddite Bastard are next up with ‘Hitler Youth’, hardcore punk from Derby, reminds me a bit of Dead Kennedys for some reason, maybe it’s the vocals? Very good!
Track 6 is ‘The Glory of Yesterday’ by Rich Gulag. I’ve seen Rich solo and as part of Black Light Mutants and as expected it is musically strong, intelligent and articulate lyrically. Not a comfortable song to listen to. ‘Stop referring back to what you’ve done, what are you living like today?’ would probably be a reasonable summing up. Thought provoking. Good work.
I’ve seen Headsticks a couple of times-excellent band at The Levellers end of things. ‘You’re Killing Me America’ starts off with Trump promising a crowd that a wall will be built, lyrics include “The blind leading the blind”, seems to sum up much of American politics very succinctly. Good band, good song.
First of three acoustic tracks is ‘Chin Up’ by Lily Gaskill, I’m not always a big fan of singer songwritery type stuff but this is excellent! I’d like to write out all the lyrics but better than that, find it and listen to it! “...without you good honest workers, the rich don’t have shite…” Stirring, thoughtful, politically bang on. This should have been used on the film Pride.
Steve White and the Protest Family’s ‘Moving Target’ is track 9-good song on the experience of being a cyclist trying to survive in a world of car drivers.
Skapete the Uplifter’s (sort of) anti-paean to a ‘Dirty Cat’ rings true, dead birds, dirty, persistent. I’m not a cat lover, this rang true.
UK Skunk celebrate the mundane with ‘Hobnobs (The SAS of Dunkers)’, good fun track. “The man with the greatest R&D job was the man who invented the holy hobnob” I like it more each time I hear it!
Wonk Unit contribute ‘Van’ really good quality as most of you would probably expect, I’m off the pace on this band and think this is the first time I’ve heard a track by them despite seeing their name numerous times-really impressed! Guess that’s one of the great things about compilations…
‘The 99%’ by Mispelt is the penultimate track and a cracker! “We are the 99%, innocent victims of the government. Got no money can’t pay the rent, we are the 99%” Musically and lyrically bang on.
The Blissetts ‘Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)’ is an ideal closing track with a succinct, incisive summing up of the worker’s experience of capitalism and this track seems to be an apposite way to end an album that will contribute to rescuing kids from poverty and vulnerability.

Like with any compilation album different tracks will appeal to different people but overall this is a great album that gives a good overview of UK DIY punk and as the first Volume in the Punk 4 The Homeless series sets the bar pretty high!

Punk 4 The Homeless Volume 1 is available on Bandcamp
https://punk4thehomeless.bandcamp.com/album/various-artists-punk-4-the-homeless-vol-01
and at P4TH gigs.

Cover design by Joey Mutant /P4TH logo by John R Dean.

Bibliography.
(1)http://compasschildrenscharity.org.uk/about-us/