Indieterria meets Shiva May Care

Dear Readers,

We are in March already and it is high time to introduce another band to the never ending pages of Indieterria. We are back to the Kingdom of Mancunia to meet the wildest hard-rocking bunch in the North. And what fun gang they are! This five piece is truly international – with members coming from four different nations – all making a wonderful racket around Northern Quarter. Don`t expect the usual brit-pop-y sounds from them. This band is unlike anything you can hear in Manchester – they mix punk, hard rock, metal and even J-Rock to arrive at their own, very distinctive musical voice. A bonus is sense of humour, loyalty to their collaborators and friendship for each other. Show us another group like this in the region and we will buy you a lunch at Night & Day.

Grab your hair spray, your torn jeans and Motley Crue tees – its time to meet Shiva May Care!

Band Logo

Shiva May Care

Michael Morris – vox
Jet Lag (Federico Cossu) – guitar, vox
Jenny (Giorgia di Pancrazio) – bass
Raul Ochoa – guitar
Luke Thorpe  – drums, vox

Official bio: Born in 2017 as an collaboration between Federico Cossu (J3T L4g) and Stefano Carbone (who left the band few months later) Shiva May Care is a five piece based in Manchester. They play hard rock with glam, punk and metal inspirations. The band is actively gigging on the local scene with sold out shows at Hula Bar, Rebellion, Night People and Pop Bar in Hyde under their belt.

You are one of the most outstanding bands that came out Manchester scene recently music wise. Please introduce yourselves to readers of Indiererria.

Federico Cossu:  Thanks for calling us outstanding.  We really appreciate it. Hello Indierreria, we are Shiva May Care: Federio Cossu on guitar, Michael Morris on vocals, Raul Ochoa on guitar, Luke Thorpe on drums and Giorgia “Jenny” Di Pancrazio on bass. How are you doing?

Is there any story behind the band`s name? Who is the mysterious Shiva?

Federico Cossu:  Well, we liked the idea of a band with a “Devil May Care” attitude, but we needed something more exclusive than that, more personal. We are not hot-headed guys, we try to be good! For this reason Shiva takes place of the Devil.

Shiva May Care was born just two years ago as a collaboration between guitarist Federico Cossu (known on the Manc scene as J3T L4G) and another local musician Stefano Carbone. Now you expanded to a five piece. Can you tell us about the beginnings of the band and how this particular line up came together?

Federico Cossu:  We all met in pubs and clubs, we were friends of friends. I met Stefano at an house party  and we decided to start a band out of the blue. At that time, I used to work in the same company as our first singer, Massimo Zitti, so it was natural to ask him to join the band. We just wanted  to have fun and  play loud rock and roll. Stefano introduced me to Raul and I met Luke at Whiskey Jar in Manchester, amazing place, great vibes and inspiring music environment.  Massimo had to leave for Canada so Michael joined the band and our sound went in the hard rock/ metal direction. Our bassist Giorgia joined us last year to complete the line up.

The band is their glamorous splendour

The band is a proper international affair – with members coming from UK, Italy and Mexico. Your work with a producer from New Caledonia. You are basically a heavier version of Superorganism!  Do you think that coming from different cultures and speaking different languages is an advantage when it comes to song writing process? How do you overcome potential misunderstandings?

Federico Cossu: Oh yes, it’s definitely an advantage. But to answer your question – coming  from different countries where you struggle to find good music allows you to get deeper into the genres as you are not being constantly bombed by the big hits.  And we love Manchester, it’s a multicultural hive where people can express themselves as they wish.

I come from a small town where probably only me and my brother know “The Gift” by the Jam! In Manchester you hear these tunes being played every night at bars! It’s great, it`s like a dream!

Different backgrounds  bring  more points of view to the song writing process and, fortunately, the language misunderstandings  are not present as we work really naturally on our songs. I often show a lyric or idea to the band and  Michael and  the guys will make their own interpretation of it, in order to make it sound personal and more to their liking.

They care a lot – about music, fans and each other

Even if we wanted to squeeze you into a musical box, we would not be able to. There is so much going on in your sound – traditional hard rock, glam, punk, metal and even visual kei (Japanese rock). If we were to summarize your style we would have to define it as Motley Crew meets L`Arc-En-Ciel at a party in Mother Love Bone`s basement.  You have your own name for the genre you play: punk`n`roll.  Where did your sound originate?

Federico Cossu:  Wow, that sounds like a good party. No one has invited us though!

Well, the genre punk’n’roll is something I know since I was a kid, we didn’t invented it. I’m personally a big fun of Social Distortion, Backyard Babies, The Hives, Hardcore Superstar, Radio Birdman, Gluecifer, Turbonegro and Hellacopters. I’ve always known these bands as punk`n`roll bands, especially referring to all the Scandinavian rock scene.

To summarize, you pick The Stooges, Ramones, MC5, New York Dolls, Dictators and stick a distorted  rocket under their asses: congrats, you`ve got punk and roll, action rock, death punk and so on.

All these influences have been probably mixed up with Luke, Michael, Raul and Georgia’s influences, such as ’80 classic rock and new romantic, metal and hair metal, blues and stoner rock. However, I wouldn’t get stuck with genres names and labels, it’s a never-ending battle, it’s only rock and roll after all.

Hopefully in the future, you will find us on the soundtrack to a new anime or a video game (laughs).

Shiva May Care – the wildest kids in Northern Town

You have just released your debut A side single “Til The Music Is Loud”/”Stubborn Lovers” produced by Mathieu Garcia at Red Sand Studio. We know Mathieu from his project Gold For Kids and incredible single he released last year “City of Your Name”. How did you find working with Red Sand Studio? 

Federico Cossu:  We felt at home! Mathieu is a friend and we love his solo projects. I remember he was working on his track “Plastic Guns” when we started talking about recording Shiva`s first songs. His music knowledge and skills are impressive and he has been able to catch the essence of Shiva May Care as a band. He also added effects, keyboards and backing vocals ideas to our songs.

Have you recorded any other songs with  Mathieu Garcia?

Federico Cossu:  We recorded together “Shiva Dance” – our live show opening track, which you will find on streaming platforms in the coming months. It is a small ethnic rock composition that became incredible thanks to Mathieu`s arrangement skills and taste. He added deep Asian and tribal percussions mixed up with modern sounds, giving it a “V for Vendetta” kind of vibe. For this song, we collaborated with two close friends: Nina Bakhshayesh on cello and  Kitty “Albino” Tha Eastankittan on vocals.

Mathieu contributed to the maturing of the band and we wish him the very best in his own career.

You are also teasing release of another single in mid March entitled “Stay With Me”. Do you plan any promotional videos for this song? What can we expect?

Federico Cossu: We are working with Luca de Falco on music video for Stay With Me. We tried to think out of the box, avoiding the usual hard rock clichés when it comes up to video clips. It will be great,  we had such a positive feedback towards the single so far. It’s a song that everyone can relate to and for the video we are bringing in this great Manchester dancer, Aisha Clasen. You will be able to enjoy her interpretation of the song through her performance next month.

The only way is UP!

Shiva May Care is regularly playing live shows around Manchester, recently at Lock 91. And your shows  are always described as very upbeat and dynamic. What`s the best part of playing on stage?

Federico Cossu: The best part of playing on stage is playing on stage I guess. There’s nothing better than expressing yourself, high on adrenaline in front of people who are waiting to have some fun. That’s the best drug ever. However, everything happens too quickly, as my ex used to tell me, so you need another gig  ASAP.

We are definitely seeing you live this year.  Are you planning a tour perhaps?

Federico Cossu:  We won’t plan any tours at the moment, we wish to see our fan base grow locally first. We will definitely be planning some gigs to promote Stay with Me. The next show will be at Jimmy’s on the 2nd of April and we will appear at Zombie Shack on the 5th of May for Below The Bridge event.

Radio Salford described your bassist  Giorgia di Pancrazio as the best bass player  to come out of Manchester since Peter Hook himself.  Any comments on that?

Federico Cossu:  We will take the compliment with pleasure, thanks for that. Georgia is great. And we will do our best to honour her talent  at our future live shows. Hopefully, love won’t tear us apart.

The band has sense of humour and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

We love your merch. The Shiva logo that appears on your t-shirts is one of the best designs we have seen in a long time. Can you reveal who is the artist behind it?

Federico Cossu:  The artwork comes from the mind of Matt Shock, Sardinian art designer. With him, just like with Mathieu, we immediately got the essence of Shiva May Care. The design was born from a photo I’ve taken in Market Street in Manchester of a girl wearing a jacket with a snake emblem on it. Matt added some Hellacopters influences and our Shiva logo was born. You definitely have to check Matt`s works, he is currently working on all our next artworks too.

Last question – but we have to ask. What are the things that Shiva may care about? Any ideas?

Federico Cossu:  Shiva may care about making good music. And we definitely care about people who will listen to our songs. We want the public to have fun while we are striving to encourage people not to waste their lives, all between a jump, a shout and a good riff. We really wish to see boys and girls of  Manchester (and beyond) beating depression, drug and alcohol abuse if they are suffering of any of these problems. There’s a huge potential within each of us and it would be a shame not to use it. We also care about  our pets… God, we love our pets and good coffee.

Shiva May Care merch stand is colourful and very artistic

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/shivamaycare
https://twitter.com/ShivaMayCare
https://www.instagram.com/shivamaycare/
https://soundcloud.com/shivamaycare
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5l8feZRdChITHw7dp0L0gc?si=ww1Tiem0S5C0aOPiQbRoZw

Federico Cossu (aka J3T-L4G)
https://soundcloud.com/jet-lag13

We hope you found Shiva May Care interesting and we will surely report back on their musical endeavours in the future. For now, turn the volume up and enjoy the wild ride with the awesome band!

Laters,

Mal+ Rita

Indieterria review – Guitar Music Is Dead by The Americas

“Not scared of no darkness” – The Americas “Guitar Music is Dead” review


When I look back, there is a cinematic quality to it. I can see it in my mind unfolding like a film. A girl is walking into a local venue, wrapped in her over-sized winter jacket. She`s very nervous to the point of feeling lightheaded. Yet, she is very determined. She came to this place to find bands to promote. She is about to rebuild her life from actual scratch and it’s the music business with no plan B. She will find herself some local acts to promote and it will snowball from here. It`s a Phillip Hall or Tony Wilson type of thing. You would not understand.

The bar is half full with some people talking and listening to songs played via PA system. There could have been an open mic night but it ended. The girl was late. She loiters with a glass of cola for a while and then strikes rather awkward conversation with two guys at the bar. They seem like a perfect target. And the conversation goes like this:

– Sooo, are you in a band? – she asks
– Yes – one of the boys is irritated because he has just been mistaken for his twin brother
– We are … ummm a five piece…
– And have a female singer  – interrupts the brother and they do look identical
– Would you describe yourself as a good band?

The boys stare at each other:

– Suppose so? – says the first one measuring words – But if you want to find a good band in this town there`s The Americas…

The Americas

The boy is Fergus Brazier – lead guitarist of incredibly potent indie pop/shoegaze act named nth cave. His hair is still not dyed blue, he is months away from departing to London to work at the Beeb. His brother is Hector Brazier, drummer in the same band. They recorded a session for BBC Hereford and Worcester but have no idea that it will become one of the most popular sessions for local chapter of BBC Introducing. They are unaware that in the future they will co headline Musicians Against Homelessness in Worcester collecting more funds than a similar event in Birmingham. It is also too early for their demos to end up on Steve Lamacq`s desk. It`s only winter 2016 and we have just met.

Similarly, the entire local music scene is yet nameless. It will take several more months before Andrew Marston of BBC coins the term “WorcesterWave” to describe our collective push to be recognized. But the stars are aligning. The nth cave boys just introduced me to The Americas.  I don’t know many people in town so it is hard for me to name others in the room. But it is full of people with whom I will work and whom I will call friends. Jesse River Dylan Murray is packing up his guitar – dressed in his fashionable coat, Troy Tittley of Nuns of the Tundra is out in the little garden in the back of the venue. Hanna Webb is saying good bye to her mates from Population 7 by the doors, there is a song by Soeur on the speakers…

 

The EP banner

The girl goes home quite ignorant that she accidentally stepped in to an environment that resembles Seattle in the late 80s – where local music scene is full of incredible talent and it is ready to make itself known to the country. So far the girl has just learned names of two local bands. One of them will change her considerably. She gets home and puts The Americas into Google…

It took 547 more days (I have been counting, not sure what it says about me) to finally see the band live – on 16th September 2017 during Worcester Music Festival. By then, The Americas had three singles out and they toured the country playing all the important festivals. They rounded up the year being featured by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music during his Christmas program.

Second time I`ve seen them was on 30th March 2018 (tendency to remember life events by the gigs), they played to a sold out crowd in the same venue when I first heard their name. They were dressed in matching red suits and white shirts. They debuted some new songs and taunted an upcoming EP.

If I can conjure some more of this nonexistent film about the Worcester scene. In March 2018, I am now at the side of the stage screaming out America`s lyrics and having a very emotional time. Over the two years period The Americas found a way into my soul and into my playlists. I interviewed them for my blog, I discovered their previous  project (Holy!), I have their song on my ringtone and I march into work at a local authority to their beat. If allowed – I am harping about them (and The Blinders) to anyone who was unlucky to show interest in anything music related.  The band kind of become friends since we all live in the same town.

The WorcesterWave is in full swing – local artists have been on BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC West Midlands, Black Country Radio, Radio Brum, XS Manchester, BBC Radio 1 (including a Maida Vale session for Soeur), 6 Music, Radio X, Amazing Radio and festivals around the country. Local press (Worcester News, Malvern Gazette, Hereford Times), big rock magazines (Louder Than War, Kerrang, NME), independent zines (Leather + Denim, Some Might Say) have featured artists from the scene.  It becomes the norm to see local bands regularly gigging in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, opening festival stages and even being considered for labels. If a movie about us is ever going to be made – there surely will be a scene of Fergus (with his now trademark blue hair) pitching local acts to some indie labels at a music fair in London for an hour and forty –five minutes. Or The Americas singing their hearts out at The Lexington while opening for The Blinders…

Our combined efforts, support from Beeb and DJs such as Andrew Marston, Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy, Daniel P Carter, Huw Stephens, Mary Ann Hobbs, Lauren Laverne or Tom Robinson and simple luck pushed WorcesterWave further than anyone of us would dream. But one thing remains certain: The Americas seem to be ahead of everyone. They set trends and go places like they have found a crystal ball and can see the future. Whatever they do today, the scene will try out tomorrow.

And here we get to the meritum of this longish essay – the debut EP from The Americas aptly entitled “Guitar Music Is Dead”.

Signed copy of Guitar Music Is Dead

On September 7th 2018 The Americas debuted a six track EP – their first offering to the world. Recorded at a secret studio located in Oxfordshire countryside, “Guitar Music Is Dead” has been mixed and produced by Mike Hill and the band, using tape instead of digital technology. It gives the record unique, old fashioned feeling – something that you don’t hear on other indie releases. However this is not nostalgia for the golden era of rock and roll. The EP feels very modern, both in sound and output. It just has that “thin mercury sound” that Bob Dylan spoke about – for a lack of better definition.

Analogue approach brings forward the beauty of The Americas that could have been overlooked before – that of honesty, that comes from hearts and experiences of the members.  The band does not shy away from hard topics on the record: loneliness in “Come on Out”, political and economical mess of the world  in “American Morning” or drug use in “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”. But everything is delivered with a dose of sadness and poetry, rather than a blunt force. The Americas look at the world and  see what surrounds us and react to it in their own ways. They do get angry in “Bad News” that seems to be directed at people in music industry (or any industry where you work and struggle) but also deliver a beautifully crafted song about getting away in “Backyard Love Song” and a love song in form of “Rosanna”. This is my personal favourite. If I may dedicate few lines of text to it.

Front Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer)
https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

“Rosanna” closes the record with a bang and a wonderful jam at the end of the track. But it is the lyrics that won me over.  Perhaps I am wrong, but this is not an ordinary love song. This is a “love beyond the grave” type of a story – where two people have each other for ever, no matter what.  “Rosanna” is a possessive, us vs. the world, Bonnie and Clyde, True Romance kind of a feeling. The one that each of us dreamed of but very few will ever experience.  And then there is this passage “I am not scared of no darkness, as long as I’ve got you here in my heart”.  For a whole list of personal reasons that should not go into the review  – this line got to me and became some sort of a mantra in times of trouble. It is nearly a protective spell, and I don’t believe in magic. I do however believe in power of music and “Rosanna” is one hell of a powerful statement.

The EP also brings in a new element to band`s repertoire. For the first time, both Harry Payne and Aaron Whittaker share vocal duties.  Aaron takes leads on “American Morning” and “Backyard Love Song” – both compositions he authored. While Harry Payne`s vocals are expressive and at times cutting like knives (last minute of “I Don’t Wanna Go Home will leave you with deep emotional scars), Aaron vocals are soothing and gentle. Harry and Aaron complement each other, when one sings leads, the other does backing parts and it works like magic. I have yet to find an indie record that has this sort of chemistry and fellowship between band members.

Back Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer) https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

That partnership is very much visible on stage when The Americas play live. They instinctively know what the other person will do, where the music goes, what songs follows. Off stage, they sit together like a family unit rather than a bunch of mates.  I have seen other acts being fiercely jealous of the unity in The Americas. Come to think of it, “Guitar Music Is Dead” would not be such an exemplary record if it wasn’t for the brotherhood shared between Harry, Alex and  Aaron.

And I have to mention something about Alex Bradshaw`s drumming. The legend has it that he was “stolen” by Aaron and Harry from his mother group and was convinced to join The Americas instead. I`m not particularly sure this is what really happened but Alex`s input in the band is crucial for the sound. He hits the tubes like there is no tomorrow in “Bad News”, only to bring delicate textures of “American Morning” next and contributes groove to the phenomenal jam at the end of “Rosanna”.  How many times you get to listen to a record and say – yep, the drummer is the right one for the band. The chemistry between Aaron and Harry is kept in perfect balance by Alex and there is no doubt about it.

“Guitar Music is Dead” is a great EP, lasting about 30 minutes and it’s one of two records of the year for me, alongside with “Columbia” from The Blinders. What is a small disappointment to me, unlike “Columbia”, “Guitar Music Is Dead” doesn’t fully capture how the band sound when playing live. You still need to see The Americas on stage to fully understand their powerful mix of Americana, soul, gospel and classic rock. The EP is an excellent record but The Americas are capable of so much more than the format could handle.

If you can get yourself a copy of the EP, do so. It will be exciting for me to see where the band will go from here. And perhaps for the entire WorcesterWave scene as well.

 

Cover of Come On Out – first single to promote the EP.

***

It was very hard to write this review. Took me about a week.  I wrote at home, in a hotel at 3AM when on a trip to Manchester, on buses and in bed. I reviewed “Columbia” in about 5 hours from start to finish and required four revisions. The Americas took about thirty. This record hits so close to home that I had to take chunks of text out not to make it too personal. Morrissey once said that we should never forget the records that saved our lives. “Guitar Music Is Dead” did just that. On at least three occasions this year.

Alex, Harry and Aaron – thank you.

***

Cover of “American Morning” – second single off the EP

“Guitar Music Is Dead” was released on 7th September 2018.

TRACKLIST:

1. Come On Out
2. American Morning
3. Bad News
4. Backyard Love Song
5. I Don`t Wanna Go Home
6. Rosanna

Order:

https://theamericasyeah.bigcartel.com/product/guitar-music-is-dead-cd-pre-order

Cover of “Rosanna” – third and final single to promote the EP

Interview with the band:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/indieterria-meets-the-americas/

You can follow The Americas using the links below:

http://www.theamericasyeah.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theamericasyeah/
https://soundcloud.com/theamericasyeah
https://twitter.com/theamericasyeah
https://www.instagram.com/theamericasyeah/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1QxPYzki5ME5mHztKXbEir?si=AC1ZwAdZSUemXwrCC3u3TQ
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/guitar-music-is-dead-ep/1422754052

Or listen online:

The EP has been promoted by three singles that were released throughout the summer. You can find them on band`s YouTube channel with respective lyrics.

Reviews:

Please do not take just my word for granted how good The Americas` EP is. Here is a whole bunch of other reviews (and this is just a small fragment of what`s out there) if you cannot make up your mind if you shall get your own copy of “Guitar Music Is Dead”:

Gigslutz:  „Every track varies from the last, showing the incredible talent and individual sound the band is bringing to the table, and this just the start of what The Americas are capable of”

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/ep-americas-guitar-music-dead-2/

This Feeling track of the day: “Anthemic, groove laden guitar music you can dance to – and no one’s doing it better right now”.

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/feeling-track-day-americas-come/

Oddscene (French online magazine):  “The Englishmen of “The Americas” start a brand new chapter with their first EP that will see the light of day in September”.

https://oddsceneblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-on-veut-creer-quelque-chose-qui-soit-hors-du-temps/

Words For Music: “EP packs a whole load of guitar in one place. The ring of the classic bluesy vocals are complemented by rock and country guitars while hats are surely tipped towards indie music, making you really question the Midland origin of the band”.

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/08/ep-review-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

The review was followed by Q&A by the magazine:

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/04/interview-the-americas-answer-10-questions/

Counteract:  The Americas are ensuring guitar music is in rude health”.

http://counteract.co/interview/interview-the-americas-come-on-out-for-new-single/

Northern Exposure:  “The Americas are a British guitar band trying to make it pay in the 21st century. Taking influences from 70’s Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and American pop-culture.They put on their suits, strap up their boots and take their rock and roll gospel to anyone who’ll listen”.

http://northern-exposure.co/the-americas-announce-three-new-singles/

North Exposure:  “These indie rockers cause quite a ruckus when playing and have taken that riot on tour with a slurry of festival appearances last year which were all well received”.

http://northern-exposure.co/daily-exposed-the-americas-come-on-out/

We Close Tonight: “If you can find me a trio of blokes from Birmingham who are better at making Americana music than The Americas, I’ll buy you a pint of something bitter.”

https://weclosetonight.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-rosanna/

One Great Song:  “From indie infused country guitar to melodic piano and bluesy vocals, the trio’s debut EP is shaping up to be a refreshing offering of proper guitar music with a nostalgic twist”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/07/30/The-Americas—American-Morning

One Great Song:  “Heavenly melodies meet with bluesy, soothing vocals  to create a classic rock n roll edge”

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/06/04/The-Americas—Come-On-Out

One Great Song: “Nobody else is producing a sound quite like theirs right now, and the Guitar Music Is Dead EP is all the evidence you need of that. Traditional but quirky, nostalgic and powerful; The Americas are proving that guitar music is in fact thriving”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/09/13/The-Americas—Guitar-Music-Is-Dead

Indie Central Music: „The Americas have just released six-track EP ‘Guitar Music Is Dead’, and prove in 29 minutes of 60’s-flavoured rock’n’roll that they are one of the new wave of UK bands making sure guitar music is very much alive”. (also user rating for the band is stated at 8.2 out of 10)

http://indiecentralmusic.com/moder-age-music-song-of-the-week/

Reyt Good Magazine:  “With their reputation and fanbase rapidly growing across the independent scene, the band look to be a definite hit this summer”.

https://www.rgm.press/review-the-americas-come-on-out/

Popped Music: “Once again the guys have smashed it and given us a summer anthem that we can listen to all day, every day. “ (about “American Morning”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/08/09/just-listen-the-americas-american-morning/

Popped Music: “Have been a big fan of The Americas since seeing them gracing the stages at some small venues and then smashing their set at Isle of Wight Festival (…) Judging from this release, the EP, “Guitar Music is Dead”, is something to look forward to”. (about “Come On Out”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/06/03/just-listen-the-americas-come-on-out/

Indie For Bunnies
(Italian Indie Blog): “For lovers of that sound of the ’70s but also for those looking for a half hour of great music: do not waste your time and listen to it, guitar music will never die.”

http://www.indieforbunnies.com/2018/09/15/ep-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

Denim+ Leather: “Beautifully refreshing in a sea of indie rock and their songs truly mean something”.

http://denimnleather.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-americas-come-on-out-single-review.html

Indie Radar added “Bad News” to their playlist showcasing the most important guitar bands in the UK

On 7th September 2018prestigious service Indie radar added “Bad News” to their Spotify playlist

Till the next time.

Malicia

“Everyone can enjoy the sun on their face. It’s a basic privilege even the plants have.”

Indieterria meets Dharma Bums

Howdy!

Welcome back to another edition of Indieterria, where we discover new and exciting music. After speaking to the wonderful Nic Evennett two weeks ago and receiving many nice comments regarding the interview (including a praise from the legendary musician and radio DJ, Tim Robinson himself!), today we will introduce you to a 4 piece outfit from Worcestershire that plays rock and blues better than the cowboys from the American West.

Dharma Bums are incredibly nice folks and it was a privilege to talk to them. If blues, country and a jazz fusion is your thing, you cannot miss them! Please read on.

————————

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West Midlands

 

Dharma Bums at the Abbey Road Studios in London

Inspiration works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you are not even interested in making music and you end up forming a genre defining band with your school mates or friends living on the same street. Or you could be a professional musician, for years struggling to find same minded people to play with.  Luckily for us, all members of Dharma Bums were in the right place, at the right time and clicked together immediately. Their instant communication, understanding of one another and simple joy of working together can be heard in their every song. It was a pure pleasure to listen to their EP entitled “Nothing to lose blues”. Vanadian Avenue took The Bums leading outlaw, Kevin Wrench to the nearest saloon to discuss their previous musical experiences, love for blues and their new material over a bottle of finest whisky and a game of cards.

Kevin Wrench – Vocals/Guitar
Dave Shuter – Lead Guitar/Harmonica
Jon Green – Bass
Thomas Paine – Percussion

Your biography mentions that Dharma Bums were formed in 2015 yet all the members have been active on Worcestershire music scene for years and were involved in several different projects before. Tell us how did the band start and introduce all the members to our readers.

Kevin Wrench: Dave Shuter (lead guitar/harmonica) and myself initially started playing together early in 2015. Dave’s wife lived just up the road from where I grew up and after chatting to her on Facebook one evening, Dave and me got together and instantly hit it off. We shared an appreciation for blues and in particular, Robert Johnson. Dave had never met anyone, who was as keen on Robert Johnson as he was before the two of us met. Dave & his wife performed in a function band together for a number of years but they hadn’t gigged for quite some time when we first met. Dave’s patience has really helped me improve my own playing. He’s one of the most easy going  and nicest guys I know.

I’ve been interested in making music for years but could never quite find the right outlet to pursue it. I’ve never been a particularly confident performer and as a child, I was painfully shy. It has taken a number of years  and a bit of effort forcing myself out of my comfort zone in order to get to the point where I feel happy performing or sharing my music with anyone.  Some time ago I had guitar lessons  and played on and off for years but never really considered writing songs myself. I had some singing lessons around 2009 and did ABRSM Grade 5. The popularity of Michael Buble at the time coupled with my grandfather’s influence. He was a big admirer of Frank Sinatra and led me to collaborate with a couple of local pianists. Together, we performed mainly swing/jazz covers at local restaurants.

In 2013, I was approached by a producer friend about writing some songs for a solo project. Unfortunately, that project never quite came to fruition although I may re-record the four songs I wrote at some point in the not too distant future. Essentially, that meeting was the spark that ignited my passion for song writing. I also appeared in a couple of musical shows at the Rose Theatre in Kidderminster; that was where I met our percussionist Thomas “Tom” Paine. Two years later, while volunteering at The Civic Hall in Stourport, I organised a monthly music night called ‘Live Local’ which featured a variety of local artists. As well as being a rewarding experience, it also ended up being a massive inspiration as I was bowled over by the amount of talent in the local area and that ultimately inspired me to seek out some musicians to start a band myself.

Walking down the Abbey Road

Our drummer Tom has been a member of two local amateur dramatics groups for a number of years. In fact Tom`s whole family are members of both Kidderminster Operatic & Dramatic Society (KODS) and Carpet Trades Musical Theatre Company (CTMTC). Tom plays a variety of instruments and joined us around November 2015. He had never played the cajón before he joined us and slowly but surely, we’ve discovered more & more things that Tom can play which has greatly added to our overall sound. Only last year he was bought a banjo as a present and learnt several songs on it already. Tom grew up in a family where performing is second nature. He is a very gifted  and versatile musician.

Out of all of us, our bass player Jon Green has had the most experience in terms of being in bands, he’s played in several different bands since the age of 14, ranging from Rock to Crust Core Punk. A couple of the bands Jon has been involved in previously have been signed to record contracts. Jon is also a multi instrumentalist who plays the bodhrán and recently started learning the violin to bring something a bit different to our sound. Jon has performed all over the UK including London and even toured in the US. Jon’s daughter Ellisha Green is an extremely talented singer/songwriter and Ellie has also performed with the youth section of KODS, which is how Tom and I met Jon as he was often involved helping out backstage.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by this point we combine a variety of very different backgrounds but we all share a passion for making music.

Right at the end of 2017, Dan Mathew joined us on percussion. Dan is also the drummer for The Bug Club who are another great local band and already he is proving to be a tremendous asset to our line-up. He has given the new songs we’re currently working on a much more dynamic sound.

“The Dharma Bums” is the title of the 1958 beat generation classic novel written by Jack Kerouac. It is also the name of an American garage band that influenced many pre-grunge groups in Seattle including Nirvana, Hole and Green River. What inspired you to take on that name as well? How are you going to distinguish yourselves from your American counterparts?

Kevin Wrench: That would be down to me. “The Dharma Bums” is one of my favourite novels and I’ve loved Kerouac’s work for years. He was a pivotal figure in the Beat Generation of the 1950’s counter culture which was very much a forerunner to the psychedelic 1960’s. It influenced some of my favourite artists including The Doors and The Beatles. My partner and I travelled quite a bit in our early 20’s and on our travels we visited Morocco and stayed in Jack Kerouac’s room in Tangier. Jack and Alan Ginsberg stayed there for a couple of years writing. In fact, I popped the question to my partner Sarah in Jack’s room when we arrived there!

After I chose the name, I realized that quite a few bands had used it. I did do a bit of research before picking it, but must admit, I didn’t realise that the other Dharma Bums had reached such a wide audience. I’m sure though if they truly are “Dharma Bums” they won’t have any issues with us using the name too and our sound is very, very different to theirs.

 You have just released a video to your song “Ballad of El Chivato“. It was directed by twice award nominated film maker Nick J. Townsend of Weak13 and shot in Bewdley. Can you tell us more about working with Nick and the story behind the song’s lyrics.

Kevin Wrench:  Working with Nick has been an absolute pleasure. He’s a lovely genuine guy who’s passionate, full of creativity, enthusiasm and he’s been on the local music scene for as long as I can remember. Not only did he produce a fantastic music video for us, but he’s also been incredibly supportive and has been very generous with his wisdom and experience which has been invaluable. I wrote “Ballad of El Chivato” while on holiday in Tenby with my partner and our daughter. It was raining one day so we were limited as to what we could do. We stayed in the caravan and I wrote a song. I’d been reading a book called “To Hell On A Fast Horse” by Mark Lee Gardner which is about the American West Outlaw Billy The Kid. I’ve read many books about the Old West, particularly about Billy The Kid and I’ve always loved songs that tell a story so that’s exactly what I tried to do with this song.

Dharma Bums use a mixture of blues, jazz, country and rock and rock to create their unique sound. Slap Magazine described your music as “cool” while Ryan’s Gig Guide called it “unique and vintage”. What is the audience reaction? Do they like it?

Kevin Wrench:  Audiences tend to respond really well to our music. We’ve picked up some lovely supporters (feel reluctant to say fans) who really seem to appreciate the blend of influences we draw on. As we’re still building our repertoire of original material, we tend to play a mixture of covers and originals at our gigs at the moment, covering artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Hank Williams, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Prince or The Soggy Bottom Boys. We’re writing more and more original songs though, so over time we will increase the number of originals we play and most likely not play as many covers. As I’m sure many other bands will testify, you’re never going to please everyone. There’s been one or two gigs where people drunkenly shout “play Summer of 69” or “play some Bon Jovi” not that there’s anything wrong with these songs/artists but they’re just not to our taste; but for the most part we get a great reaction wherever we play.

“Ballad of El Chivato” is promoting your latest EP entitled “Nothing to Lose Blues” released in July 2017. The 5 track EP was recorded in Stourport and mastered in London at the famous Abbey Road Studios. It must have been quite an experience to work with Sean Magee a Grammy winning mastering engineer of The Beatles, Rush, Deep Purple and Public Image Ltd.

Nothing to Lose Blues cover

Kevin Wrench: Since we started gigging, every penny the band has earned has gone into an old biscuit tin and has been accumulated to pay for recording, mastering, producing a video and paying for our CDs to be printed. We feel it’s better to create memories like visiting the legendary Abbey Road Studios, rather than taking a quarter share of gig money and then having to contribute towards these costs anyway after we’ve spent the money. Obviously, visiting Abbey Road wasn’t cheap, but it was paid for entirely out of the kitty and is an experience that none of us will ever forget. All four of us stayed together in London as well as our time in the studio, we had a great time.

“Nothing To Lose Blues” features a wide array of local musicians including George Alan on trumpet, Chris Yates on piano and Matt Worley on banjo. The EP cover was also designed by an established contemporary artist, Craig Simmons. For a debut record, the guest list is simply impressive. Was it hard to bring so many creative minds to the same project?

Kevin Wrench: When I first thought about starting a band, I always imagined the line-up being flexible and being able to work as a collective melting pot of various creative minds able to operate across a variety of genres. This was a very romantic notion for an amateur band and I’ve since come to realise that it’s important to have a strong bond amongst the core members of a band. That’s not to say that we can’t invite other local musicians to make guest appearances  and I think our next record will be very similar in that respect. I met a lot of musicians while organizing ‘Live Local’ at The Civic in Stourport and I made a lot of friends in the local music/artistic community. I’ve become quite cheeky and not afraid to ask others to be involved. We never tell people what we want them to play, we invite them to play because we know that they will bring something of themselves to our recordings. We were blessed on this first recording to get George, Matt and Chris on board, they are all extremely talented guys and we hope they will be involved on our next project. We also hope to invite several other local musicians to be involved. Craig Simmons is an incredibly talented local artist  and luckily for us, he is friends with Tom. We think he did an awesome job on our artwork  and we very much hope to be able to work with him again on our next release.

Rumour has it that you are beginning to work on a new material. We heard that you have wrote a protest song called ” Sell Your soul”. Would you like to elaborate?

Kevin Wrench: (laughing) I don’t wish to give too much away just yet but yes this is true. Like many people, I’m a little concerned by the emergence of certain “leaders” in the last couple of years and wanted to write something that communicated this concern that I know I’m not alone in feeling. We’ve already discussed with Nick Townsend about a possible video for “Sell Your Soul” and we’re quite keen to get it out in the public domain as soon as we can. I know some people don’t like it when musicians incorporate their political opinions into their music but I think it’s difficult not to sometimes as it effects us all  and our opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. We’ve also got a couple of bluesy numbers  and a pirate shanty inspired folk song which will appear on our next record.

Dharma Buns performing

Dharma Bums has just been confirmed to perform at WolvesFest in Wolverhampton on 16-17th of June 2018. Where else can we see you playing live? Any coming up shows to look out for?

Kevin Wrench:  Our calendar is filling up quite nicely at the moment with new dates being added regularly. We’ve not pursued too many gigs in this early part of the year as we wanted to focus on writing new material and also we wanted to give our new percussionist Dan chance to settle in. We’re playing at The Swan in Stourport on 1st March and at the Cock & Magpie on 14th April. We’re currently arranging dates with many of the venues we’ve played at over the last couple of years, so if people wish to keep up to date they could check out our Facebook page  at http://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk.

And finally, a question that has to appear on every interview: where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?

Kevin Wrench: Wow, that’s a big question! I see us being maybe 2/3 albums further along with a lot more of an established fan base and maybe even having travelled to America to possibly have used a studio over there for mastering and with a bit of luck picked up a few gigs while we were there. I’d also like to have done a couple of mini tours in the UK, maybe also in Ireland and I’d like to have gigged in London. I’d also like to think we would’ve had a bit more airplay which seems to be the most difficult thing to acquire, particularly if you fall outside of the mainstream musical spectrum. The ultimate aim would be able to give up the day job  and focus full time on music. I don’t think any of us are naive enough to believe we’ll achieve fame and fortune but there are plenty of musicians out there who are not household names but still manage to make a good living from their music.

Dharma Buns review from Ryan Gigs Guide

Dharma Bums can be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk/
Bandcamp: https://dharmabumsuk.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOHwhVl706lJQxVJB0fLcA
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5Ex1lCGaJ20okS35pfwa2O

Articles about the band:
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15888601.Kidderminster_band_brings_a_touch_of_the_wild_west_to_district
http://www.stourbridgenews.co.uk/news/local/15888670.Stourbridge_film_maker_brings_wild_west_to_Bewdley
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15369035.Kidderminster_band_to_release_debut_EP_next_month/

You can purchase their music here:
CDBABY:
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dharmabums12
Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/Nothing-to-Lose-Blues/dp/B0742979NT
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/nothing-to-lose-blues-ep/1261253519
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