Indieterria Reviews: Mudlark

Hello!

It is a common knowledge that Wales has a strong connection to music. From Ivor Novello, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to Budgie, Funeral for a Friend, Manic Street Preachers and Catatonia, Welsh music has always been a step ahead of everybody else, setting new trends and refining musical tastes for decades.

The money might be in London, but the talent is definitively hidden among the valleys and it’s our pleasure to introduce our readers to the best of new acts that Vanadian Avenue has the privilege to discover.

Come Clean /Swansong cover by Robert Paterson

Our today’s guests, Mudlark hail from the beautiful town of Caerphilly. At the beginning, it is worth mentioning that their name is quite original and what’s even more important, it fits them like a glove. In the 18th and 19th century England (especially in the capitol) people scavenging through the river mud in search of valuable items to sell were called either mud searchers or mud lurkers. Usually they belonged to the city’s poorest residents, yet they enjoyed a great deal of  independence, respect among other dwellers and could keep all their earnings to themselves. Nowadays, the term is attributed to treasure hunters, amateur archaeologists and even metal-detectors looking for World Word II souvenirs. When we say the name fits the band well, we mean the listener has to literary “dig” through many layers and intricately constructed melodies to discover and appreciate the true value of their music. Multidimensional and complex creations are Mudlark’s trademarks.

The quintet was formed over two years ago and on the 5th of November 2017, they released their new double track single entitled “Come clean/Swansong”. You may remember them from their September release of an instrumental track “Ruth” that received very warm reviews from independent music websites and online zines. A well made, silent-cinema inspired video (known as “Frankenstein’s Ruth”) also helped to raise the band’s profile. We can promise you that the new release is as good as the previous one and shows that Mudlark are in incredibly great musical shape.

Mudlark picture by Rhys Morgan

Now let’s sink our teeth into the two new compositions. The first one track “Come Clean” is the shorter of the two, standing at only 2 minutes and three seconds. It starts with a longish atmospheric interlude but blossoms into a dynamic and structured sonic landscape at the end of the first minute. The band lists New York hard-core legends Minor Threat as one of their influences and the heavy, gritty guitars and distorted amplifiers are there but “Come Clean” masterfully covers them with haunting harmonies that reminds us of the classic Tool or maybe even more accurately, The Perfect Circle. Luke Powell’s powerful set of lungs shatter the poetic lyrics into shreds but somehow it goes perfectly well with the music. Our only complaint is that the track is a bit too short, yet it is a matter of individual taste. In our opinion, additional 20-30 seconds would allow the song to develop a bit better and keep its natural flow. It is not a big flaw, rather leave  the reviewer wanting more, which is a great thing.

Another great shot by Rhys Morgan

Second song entitled “Swansong” is much longer at 5 minutes and 13 seconds. Again slow beginning, with nearly spoken word vocals, mid tempo that gradually evolves into dramatic and vibrant finish. It is very hard to put it into a single genre – there is a bit of hard-core, a bit of progressive rock, mixture of clean and  growl vocals. If we could say, Swancong is something of a Faith No More, meets Fear Factory (Burton C Bell type vocals) with The Streets and a fellow Welsh metallers, Taint thrown into the concoction. Both songs were solidly mixed and produced. In short this is a professionally prepared demo from a band that`s on a good way to great things.

The double single comes with beautiful photographs taken by Alexandru Olteanu and cover art made by Robert Paterson.

Final mark: Highly recommended!

Promotional photography by Alexandru Olteanu

Mudlark
Luke Powell (vocals)
Wesley McCarthy (lead guitar)
Benjamin Morgan (rhythm guitar)
Nick Giles (bass)
Jack Williams (drums)

Hometown: Caerphilly

Bio: Lifelong friends from the Welsh valleys who write melancholic, poetic and dark oddities.

“Swansong/Come clean” two track single
Release date: 05/07/2017

Written and performed by Mudlark

Engineered by Rhys Morgan – https://twitter.com/rhysdrums
Produced by James Minas – https://twitter.com/minassound
Artwork by Robert Paterson  – https://www.facebook.com/robertpatersonart/
Photography by Alexandru Olteanu  – https://www.facebook.com/not.nanu
Video by Stone Letter Media  – https://www.facebook.com/stonelettermedia/

Second picture by Alexandru Olteanu

You can find more about Mudlark online:

Booking and interview requests:  mudlarkmail@gmail.com
Bandcamp:
https://mudlarkuk.bandcamp.com/releases
Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/mudlarkuk
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/mudlarkuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mudlarkuk
Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKwB_UXUDEVppX7dUrbNE2w

Swansong video:

Frankenstein’s Ruth video:

If you’d like to have your music featured on Indieterria, please send links to your Soundcooud or Bandcamp pages 3 or 4 pictures and a bio to rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com. Please note that Vanadian Avenue do not accept mp3 or zipped files. Also, please give us a week or two to listen to your music and write the review!

Thank you and see you shortly.
Rita and Malicia

 

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Indieterria meets Population:7

Hey, hey!

Time does fly quickly when you are having a good time and recently we have been having the time of our lives (yes, Baby is not sitting in the corner anymore!). We have been to countless gigs, several parties, open mic nights and even to a Halloween extravaganza, but this is a tale for another day 🙂

Today, we would like to introduce you to one of the best neo soul musical collectives from The Midlands. They are called Population:7 and they are very popular among  faithful city residents. You should see their gig at Marrs’ Bar during Worcester Music Festival, it was so packed that Rita got a panic attack (she is claustrophobic), yet people still wanted to get in and were queuing outside! Something like that has not happened since the early 90’s according to the owners and we truly believe them.

Ladies and Gents, let us introduce you to a group that can make old Worcester City dance like the stars on BBC1 on Saturday night 🙂

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Population: 7 

Haydn Rogers: Vocals
Rachael Medhurst: Vocals
Sam Ruane: Vocals
Rob King: Guitar/Synth/Vocals
Pete Mann: Guitar/Vocals
Rob Taylor: Bass/Synth
Jon Kasch: Sax
Hannah Webb: Sax/Flute/Clarinet
Carl Browne: Drums

Population:7 official logo

Being in a band these days is certainly not a walk in the park, yet the technology available can make musicians’ lives so much easier.  The least experienced group will sound pretty good in the studio even if minimal production is applied. Reconstructing that decent sound on stage is another keg of beer whatsoever. In the spotlight, lack of skills or sloppy presence can send the unlucky ones straight into rock and roll oblivion. Don’t be alarmed, Population: 7 are fantastic on the record and in concert. To be honest, they are one of the few bands that can make you dance and jump right from the start. Talking to them is a pleasure as well. We met with Haydn Rogers to discuss their three records, linguistics and the dynamics of working in a musical collective.

There is no doubt that Population:7 is a fantastic name for a band. It’s short, easy to remember and carries a certain element of mystery. Can it be linked to the current population of Earth (7 billions people) or does it mean something completely different?

Haydn Rogers : Finally! Someone gets our name right! Yes, it is a reference to there being 7 Billion people on our planet (currently its 7,571,613,961, but it changes every second). I think we were having a conversation about Desmond Morris (a prolific scientist and writer) and exponential population growth and it all went from there. You would not believe how many people come up to us at shows and say something like: “What’s with the name? There’s like 9 of you and your name has a 7 in it!” Maybe it’s because of groups like SClub7 that people just assume its’s how many members you have!

Group picture

You are so far the biggest group we had a pleasure to host on our blog.  Would you be so kind to introduce all 9 members of your collective? Don’t worry, we like long answers!

Haydn Rogers: Currently, there are roughly 9 of us. I say roughly because we have members that come and play with us for a season or jam with us from time to time. On vocals we have Sam Ruane (alias Ruane), Rachael Medhurst and me (alias Phantom). On the guitars, we have Pete Mann (alias Swagadon), Rob King (he also plays synthesizer) and Rob Taylor who plays bass guitar. Carl Browne is our drummer but this summer he was replaced by Ben Pemberton as Carl was away. Also, there is Hannah Webb who plays alto saxophone, clarinet and flute. We’ve played with loads of other great players that we hope to play with again in the future.

Other bands are struggling to recruit members, yet you managed to gather quite a crowd. How did you all meet? Have you started out as a regular 3 or 4 piece band and kept adding new instruments or vocalists or have you just got together one day and decided to make music?

Haydn Rogers (laughing): We all met in a submarine, just off the coast of Puerto Rica. The Cubans had taken a top secret super weapon that would endanger all of the Eastern Sea on board. So, naturally we were in a nuclear stand off until we started playing this groove in the mess hall (witch for some reason was full of instruments). It was so righteous that we played it over the sub space radio and the Cubans heard it and immediately de-armed themselves and opened the peace negotiations. After that, we decided to form a fusion band instead of a top secret black ops division of MI6.

Or….

I met Sam Ruane few years back when I was playing with Rob King in a band called This Wicked Tongue. We were just chilling in the living room when Sam told us he was a rapper which really impressed us. After little collaboration with Sam’s band TWT, we decided to “do some hip-hop”. At that point we all gathered around a totally out dated lamp-shade iMac (absolute classic computer) and we would make beats with whatever we could get our hands on. At the same time, Pete Mann AKA Swagadon (a mysterious blues/rock/math demon) started writing with us and playing guitar, adding a whole new dimension of insane riffs and enigmatic dance routines. Slowey, we started working with other artists as well. Members of TWT and another group named Mansize were always involved with playing parts and jamming. Two girls, Tina Maynard and Anya Pulver did some fantastic vocals on our first album “Dead City”. When both bands broke up, half of their members moved to Bristol, the other half stayed in Worcester and we formed Population: 7. We wanted it to be a live act and not just a living room/studio project. The first incarnation included Sam, myself, Rob Taylor, Rob King, Pete Mann and Rachael Medhurst, who joined shortly after our first album was released. We needed a drummer, so we sent a couple of our songs to Carl Browne, our mutual friend. It was just few days before our first gig and he nailed everything without rehearsal. We asked him to join us and he said “Indeed shall!” The last person to join was Hannah Webb. She brought a new element to our music with the saxophone, clarinet and flute, giving us a funkier/jazzier sound. We also played with two other amazing sax players along the way – John Kasch (the blues wizard of sax, incredible player) and Katie Ind (amazing jazz multi instrumentalist).

The band in action at Mello Festival

You easily blend jazz, hip-hop, soul, R’n’B and funk into a powerful cocktail of rhythm and irresistible melodies. In your opinion, does Population: 7 sound fits any particular genre or are you happy to keep your fingers in many pies?

Haydn Rogers:  Thank you! I think we initially intended Population: 7 to be a live hip-hop group but through all of our different influences and ideas of what that should be, we ended up with something very different. Our music is an expression of our love for playing, jamming and creating, we get into a room and it just happens. The creative process is organic that way, more intuitive than conscious. The influences from other genres are intrinsically a part of us so when we play they manifest through us and form our fusion of sounds. We can be put into genres or a single genre but that is more for the listener to decide, we are too close to what we are doing to truly know. Also we’re happy to keep exploring music; it is always an adventure and a voyage of discovery

You have impressed Andrew Marston of BBC Hereford and Worcester so much that he described you as one of the best neo-soul acts in the country. After seeing you live he wrote:“What an incredible live performance. Fun, energetic and have the crowd enjoying themselves as much as the band!” It’s hard to disagree with his words as you nearly brought the entire Marrs Bar down during Worcester Music Festival on Saturday 16th of September. It was packed tight.

Giging at Marrs Bar in Worcester

Haydn Rogers:  We are very thankful to Andrew and the BBC Hereford and Worcester for playing our music and having us on at Lake Fest last year! We put a lot of effort into making sure our live shows are full of energy and it’s great to know that people appreciate that when we play. The Marrs Bar concert organized by The Task in Hand was a really enjoyable night for us and the crowd was amazing! This makes it easier for us to perform and have a great time doing it. It was a packed night and the atmosphere was intense. To capture that energy, we decided to film part of the show to make a video for our song “Swag” which will be out soon! We loved the other bands playing that night with us as well: Hoggs Bison, Theo, To The Wall, Esteban and Rosebud – check all of these out if you haven’t already!

Recently Population:7 has recorded two albums: “WHYP7” in 2016 and “Fiero” earlier this year. Despite just a year of difference between both releases, there is a massive change in your sound. “Fiero” is much more complex and adventurous. You use various singing and rapping techniques, you are not afraid to experiment with ambient and dubstep, everything seems to flow more naturally, almost with ease. We can freely use the word “mature” to describe it. You have evolved considerably as a band in a really short period of time.

Haydn Rogers: Again, thank you! A lot changed for us in that time including members and musical tastes so the music naturally moved with us. We also had time to play a lot of shows and practice hard, further discovering our sound and what P7 is and means to us. The sound will no doubt continue to change and evolve as we do as people. Music is all about people really, it’s a social thing. It is as much about our relationships and culture as it is about notes and musical structure. That is its true power – it connects people or sometimes the opposite – in our case we all agree on how it makes us feel which drives us to achieve more. We are currently bringing together the material we have been working on for the last year with a view to turn it into an album to record sometime next year.

We are intrigued by the name of the album. Tell us, what exactly is “Fiero”?

Cover of Fiero album

Haydn Rogers:  “Fiero” is an Italian word that has several meanings. I first came across it when I read “Emotions revealed: Understanding faces and feelings” by psychologist Paul Ekman. It is amazing, read it! Jane McGonigal, American game designer and author gives a good definition of fiero in her book “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World”.  She says: “Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it – and when you see it. That’s because we almost all express fiero in exactly the same way: we throw our arms over our head and yell”. We decided to use “Fiero” as the album title after having lots of problems with the titular song. There was a very tricky section in this song, that when we eventually got it right this is exactly what we felt. It also means fierce or proud and is also the name of a 1988 mid-engined Pontiac.

Two tracks included on and “Fiero” are standing out: the hypnotic “I Say” and the crowd pleasing “Blindspot” which opens the record. We’d love to hear more about those songs.

P7 at Lake Fest rocking the BBC Introducing stage

Haydn Rogers: “I Say” is a song about not feeling in control of your life but accepting that fact. It’s also a lot of fun to play and there’s a flute bit in it that Hannah came up with that completely defines that track. “Blind Spot” is one of our older songs and has changed a fair bit over the years until we recorded it for “Fiero”.  We also did a music video for it earlier this year in our friend Diff’s basement. Thanks Diff, you are a legend!

The collective is constantly on the move. You play a lot of shows at home and away. Recently you have supported Benji and Hibbz in Birmingham at a sold out concert and enchanted the audience during very successful performances at Lakeview Festival and at The Wharf in Stourport-on-Severn.  Where will your fans have to see you live next?

Haydn Rogers: We really enjoyed playing with Benji and Hibbz at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham. They are a really talented bunch of musicians and great people too! We ended up having a freestyle jam with them and the other act, Glimmer & Wiz.  It is really refreshing playing with a band that is genuinely up for live jamming. We have a couple of shows coming up. Please come and see us on 2nd of November at the Marrs Bar supporting the Toasters and 2nd December at the George and Dragon in Belper. We’re also planning to do a Christmas Show show at the Marrs’ Bar but we are still confirming the dates.

Another group picture from the vast band’s archives

You can follow Population:7 at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/population7
Twitter: https://twitter.com/p7_population7
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/population-7
Reverb Nation: https://www.reverbnation.com/population7
Bandcamp: https://population7.bandcamp.com

 

You want to hire them for your gig? Please send all request to Population7uk@gmail.com! They will get your party started like nobody else. Trust us, we haven’t danced for years but our feet start moving on their own! It’s a dangerous thing to go to their performances. You never know, you might be off  showing your best moves on the dance floor in no time!

Have a fantastic Novermber kids and keep your eyes open. Population:7 are going to be even bigger, very, very soon.

xoxo
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

 

Indieterria meets Mutant-Thoughts

Hello, hello!

It’s the middle of the month and Indieterria is now back with another cool band you just have to know. Usually people like us here at Vanadian Avenue (professionally known as Artist and Repertoire or A&R’s for short) are sailing the vast waters of the world wide web in search of another talent to bring it to the surface for your enjoyment. It is a hard, ungrateful task at times but once a truly talented band or a musician is found, a long and successful career can begin.

Mutant-Thoughts logo

Sometimes we don’t have to search at all, the bands approach us themselves and all we can do is to sit, listen and admire as they are excellent at their craft. Our latest guest, Mutant-Thoughts found us on social media and we had to invite them to Indieterria as they are truly unique band!

Official Bio: Mutant-Thoughts is an experimental synth-rock band formed by Han Luis Cera (vocals and synths), Joshua Lennox-Hilton (bass and backing vocals) and Tom Pearmain (drums). Their unique sound combines traditional rock music with electronic sounds, eerie vibes and beautiful melodies. Mutant-Thoughts’ live shows are a spectacle that cannot be missed – it is equally energetic and emotional, filled with odd time signatures, crazy electric signals, heavy bass lines, eclectic vocal harmonies and to the listener’s surprise, no guitars. Using synths, drum machines and other special effects, Mutant-Thoughts is able to transform their surroundings into a completely new, detailed musical reality. The band released their first album in 2016. Their latest EP entitled “Is This Me?” was released in September 2017.

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Mutant-Thoughts

Han Luis Cera (vocals and synths),
Joshua Lennox-Hilton (bass and backing vocals)
Tom Pearmain (drums)

We are sure all music journalists can wholeheartedly agree that looking for a new, interesting band to write about can be tricky. Among millions of self released singles, YouTube videos and EP’s filled with repetitions or (in worst case scenarios) bad cover versions, discovering a true gem sometimes feels like mission impossible. Yet the hours spent listening to home-made demos are rewarded when you come across a band that captivates you with their music within seconds. We all know that feeling: the music starts, you close your eyes and a beautiful sound landscape unravels its mysteries to you through lyrics, tempo changes and fuzzed guitars. Good things do come to those who wait and we are really lucky to discover Bristol based trio that calls themselves Mutant-Thoughts. Vanadian Avenue sat down with their lead singer, Han Luis Cera to discuss their beginnings, unusual name and growing up in Latin America.

Mutant-Thoughts promotional shoot #1 by  Igor Tylek Photography

We have interviewed many bands with unique names, but yours is one-of-a-kind. It could be the title of the next Marvel superhero blockbuster. Where did it come from?

Han Luis Cera: (laughing) I admit, it does sound a bit like the next Marvel/DC psycho-thriller! That’s a film I’d like to watch. The actual name came from a very dramatic break up of my previous band. The whole thing left me in a situation in which I started having thoughts I didn’t recognize as my own, hence the name, Mutant-Thoughts. I thought it would no logger be possible for me to play with a band again. I started writing songs as some sort of personal therapy. However, when I moved to Bristol, I felt a lot better, and was happy to play with others again. I found Joshua Lennox-Hilton (our bassist), and Tom Pearmain (drumer), and I’m very happy and lucky to play with these two guys.

We are interested in learning more about Mutant-Thoughts. When and how did you meet?

Han Luis Cera: I moved to Bristol in 2014 but even before then, I was already looking for musicians to collaborate with. After a while, I met Josh, as he responded to a post I wrote online looking for a bass player. Around the same time, I befriended Pablo, an Argentinian drummer that played with us for the first year; sadly he had to leave us as he moved abroad. He basically transformed all the electronic songs I have written on my own into proper rock music as no band could ever play them in their original version (laughing)! After Pablo left, we played with another drummer named Tobias for about half a year, and he left for personal reasons. Then we auditioned a few drummers. Tom was the first one we heard that day and we were so impressed, that the decision was easy. He just understood immediately what we were doing and it was very easy to get along and work with him.

Mutant-Thoughts promotional shoot #2 by Igor Tylek Photography

Han, you are Colombian native. Can you tell us about your life in Latin America.  What type of music you grew up listening to?

Han Luis Cera: I grew up in Barranquilla, a port city in Northern part of Colombia. I was exposed to lots of types of music, but mostly Latin. Barranquilla has one of the biggest carnivals in the world, so we are used to listening to a lot of music, all day and every day. It is quite interesting to live in a society where music plays such an important role in our culture. Also, Barranquilla is located on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia; our music is hugely influenced by African music, with heavy emphasis on rhythm. That is the reason why the rhythmic section is so important for Mutant-Thoughts and why we put more fluid stuff on top of it. I enjoyed growing up in Colombia. I think that Latin America has a very interesting way of dealing with problems. People seem to be happy regardless of the situation. And I think it takes a lot of courage to see life like that.

Moving to the other side of the world can be a great adventure or a traumatic experience. How do you find the life in the UK? Was it easy for you to get accustomed to a new reality or did you experience any cultural shocks?

Han Luis Cera: I lived in Amsterdam before moving to Bristol, so I had my fair share of culture shocks when I moved there! Coming to the UK was definitely a lot easier. There are a few things that I find interesting in British culture, (like wearing shorts in the middle of the winter), but I really love living here. I’ve met very interesting and talented people, and I’m doing what I love!

We can imagine that music scene in Colombia and in the UK are completely different. What do you think about the music scene in Bristol? Should we even compare those two?

Han Luis Cera: I think British people generally have great interest in live music. That helps the music scene a lot and it gives the musicians a chance to grow. There are multiple small venues and places where musicians can play and reach new listeners. We only have a handful of venues in Barranquilla where you can see a live band play. Most Colombians tend to listen to music from records or on the radio, rather than live but that means the music is everywhere, even on public transport. During the Carnival season, there are gigs everywhere though.

Your music has been likened to Pink Floyd, Faith No More and Caspian. We hear UNKLE, a bit of Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Also, we are not the first ones to point out that when you sing, you sound like Tom Yorke or Davie Bowie from his Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars era.

Han Luis Cera: Some of the artists you mentioned have indeed influenced us. We all have different tastes in music and we bring them into the band. We give each other the space to experiment and grow. All of the bands that we are likened to are incredible and we can only see that as a huge compliment. I personally think we sound different to them, but if I could ever play together with any of those bands, I’d probably go into some form of a shock not being able to believe my luck!

Mutant-Thoughts promotional shoot #3 by Igor Tylek Photography

 Mutant-Thoughts use a lot of odd time signatures, tempo changes and you are not afraid to experiment with sound. It is not so common these days but reminds us the golden days of the progressive rock: early Genesis, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator. You have learnt from the best!

Han Luis Cera: To be absolutely honest, I don’t really listen to progressive Rock, apart maybe from Porcupine Tree, and Pink Floyd, (if you can call them progressive rock). I don’t really listen to music with odd time signatures that much either. I just have a fascination for rhythm, contrast and I enjoy doing the opposite of what other people are doing. I’m not trying to be interesting or cool or anything like that.

I just think that if something has been done before, there is no need for me to do it again. I’m not sure if we’re succeeding at that, but that’s the idea. I could say that my fondness for rhythm comes from Latin music. There was a lot of jazz influence in 70’s salsa. On the other hand, my fascination with sound experiment streams from feeling limited with the possibilities of keyboard based instruments. As much as I love the sound of a piano, or an organ, the synthesizer is the instrument I seem to be able to express myself most intimately with, but I do still check my parts on a piano though.

Last month, you have released your latest EP entitled “Is This Me?”. It is a beautiful piece of music, very well written and perfectly executed. We are especially fond of two songs: the title track and the atmospheric “Alone”. Can you tell us more about them?

Han Luis Cera: Thanks! I’m really happy to hear that. Well, the whole EP is about going through a rough period in life and being able to find a solution to your problems. It has some very dark moments and it has moments which are more up-lifting. The title song “Is This Me?” is about self-analysis. A question to one-self about what we are doing. Is this really what we want to do? Are we acting according to who we are or are we acting on an instinct? Are our action based on what we believe to be true at that moment or do we have the full picture of the situation? It is hard to find the answer to those questions.

I’m unable to explain just two songs without discussing the context of the other songs at the same time. They are all linked together. The second song on the EP is entitled “Chaos and Entropy” which is about going through the actual problem. It is about losing oneself and just tasting every single moment of that path.

The third composition is actually a poem. I have named it “Trying to Make Sense” which I think the title is self explanatory. Then we have “Alone”, which deals with the sense of realization that after the chaos and suffering, we are actually alone. At this stage, we have taken some distance from the world to give ourselves the chance to deal with our problems. And then we close the EP with “Adaptation” which is about changing, “mutating” into a different person that is now able to deal with the problems left in the past.

Mutant-Thoughts performing live at the Bristol’s Louisiana club – photo by Igor Tylek Photography

Mutant-Thoughts appearance on the Bristol music scene was very well received. You have played alongside new prog/math rock talents such as Last Hyena or YOUTH. When can we see you on stage next?

Han Luis Cera: At this moment, we are working hard on promoting our EP and some of the new projects. We are lucky that Bristol has a great music scene with many, very talented bands we have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with.

We will be playing in Bristol again on the 2nd of November at Mr. Wolf’s for the EP launch of “Siblings of Us” who were kind to invite us to support them. Also,  we will travel to London to play at Off The Cuff, the date is going to be confirmed soon. We are looking to add more dates before the end of the year, so please check our Facebook and the official website regularly.

You can follow Mutant-Thoughts at:

Official website: www.mutant-thoughts.com
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mutantthoughts
Bandcamp: https://mutant-thoughts.bandcamp.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mutantthoughts/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mutant_thoughts
Youtube: https://youtu.be/WTfwrTkjqaU

If you’d like to write about them, book a gig or interview the band, Mutant-Thoughts press pack will come in handy!

Interested in seeing them live? Mutant-Thoughts are real musical magicians!

Enjoy the brand new Bristol sound!
xxx
Rita and Mal.

Indieterria meets Nuns of the Tundra

Dear Readers,

We arrived into October not so quietly. Our ears are still ringing from both Worcester Music Festival and Musicians Against Homelessness gigs, but there is no sign of slowing down. Actually, next week we will rock out again – back at the Marr`s Bar for the EP launch of Nuns of the Tundra. The Nuns are from Malvern and they have built themselves quite a reputation in the last few years. It will be a sonic pleasure to see them live and to listen to their new material. We hope you enjoy first installment of Autumn selection of Indieterria.

Nuns of the Tundra logo

Music from the Shire

 

Nuns of the Tundra

Troy Tittley: Guitar
Arran Davies: Guitar
Jim Smith: Bass
Melos Moody: Drums


West Midland quartet, Nuns of the Tundra, is a rare beast. They easily melt American rock tradition with typical British favoritism for distorted sounds and gritty tunes, creating a fresh sound that has a chance of revolutionizing the rusted structures of the indie genre. Vanadian Avenue sat down with Nundra’s (their pet name!) lead singer and guitarist, Troy Tittley, to discuss their newest single “Float Away”, the Hobbits, road movies and composing on top of the Malvern Hills.

Banner with original logo

According to your biography, Nuns of the Tundra was formed nearly two years ago. Can you please introduce yourselves?  Tell us how the band was formed and where did you meet.

Troy Tittley: The band is the brain child of me and my childhood friend, Arran Davies. We’d always be showing each other cool new music we’d found since we were about 10 years old, and in fact were in a band together called RoadKill when we were 13. We’re better hopefully by now. We had all these riffs and song ideas that were floating around not doing anything, and we had a ton of free time. We didn’t take it overly seriously at first; we made songs about swamp monsters, vampires, goblins… The song about killer sex robots from the future actually became our first single. I also have been in a band before Nuns with a producer Curig Huws, and Curig basically taught me some song writing rules that made me feel confident enough to give it a crack myself. So after that band broke up,  Nuns were formed.

You have to admit that Nuns of the Tundra is a very interesting choice of a name for a rock group. We tried to look for possible explanation and this is our theory: You come from Malvern that derives its name from the old Welsh word “moel-bryn” meaning “Bald Hill”. The tundra biome is usually described as barren, treeless or bare. Also, Malvern as a town has been established by Benedictine order in late 10th century. Maybe as a joke, instead of the monks you called yourselves The Nuns. Nuns of the Tundra. Sounds pretty good to us!

The Nuns photographed by Colton Halls
https://www.facebook.com/coltonhalls

Troy Tittley: I absolutely love your theory and I wish we were that clever. I have to disappoint, but Arran loves nuns, my favorite word is tundra. Deep, right? Tundra Nuns sounded too indie, Nun Tundra doesn’t really work, I don’t know why. When I came up with Nuns of the Tundra, it was a joke, but when I said it out loud, it just stuck with me. We were going to be called nilbog (goblin backwards), but I think Nuns of the Tundra is equally as ridiculous and that’s why we love it. We also have some twitter followers using Nundra to save precious characters, and we really dig that name too.

Let’s talk about Malvern for a while longer. You describe your music asdirty desert stoner rock from the unlikely Midlands town of Malvern”. However, Malvern always had a strong links to (popular) music. For many years it has been the home of Edward Elgar and Julius Harrison, classical composer and professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Malvern Winter Gardens was a popular venue bringing top rock acts such as Joy Division, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbaths and many others to West Midlands. It seems that you are continuing the local tradition of crafting good music.

Troy Tittley: Yes, you’re totally right. Malvern just feels like a tucked away music hub. The hills are pretty inspiring; I did a lot of writing up there because you can get away from everything, so Elgar was definitely on to something. It’s basically the Shire and we’re the Hobbits. It’s rather unlikely because I’d kind of expect a rock band to come from Mordor or Isengard. Maybe Sigur Ros lives in Rivendell! (laughs)

Your music has been categorized as a wild mixture of psychedelic, progressive rock, American collage rock, grunge and mainstream harmonies. Fugazi, Stone Temple Pilots, Queens of the Stone Age, Muse and Grant Lee Buffalo have been mentioned as possible influences. Which other artist you would add to the mix and why?

Troy Tittley: As you can see we have a lot of American influence. I love that Fugazi made its way into that list by the way! Live we can be quite raw, but we like to get the layers and intricacies in there too. Really, I want this sound to evolve into something that shifts from chaos to complexity and back, but that’s for another time. Right now, we are very guitar driven, and try our best not to retread ground structure wise or atmosphere wise, so the wild mixture is probably down to that. I’d probably add Nine Inch Nails and Foo Fighters to that list; it’s basically all I listened to growing up.

Nuns debut single “Robot Love” received fantastic reviews from local and online press. It has been championed by Andrew Marston at the BBC Hereford and Worcester. You were also invited to play at BBC Introducing stage at Lakeview Festival at Eastnor Castle in August this year where apparently “you blew the tent poles off” with your powerful riffs. That’s very impressive start, don’t you think?

Troy Tittley: The thing is that’s not the start! We’ve been going at this for a while now and a lot of the feedback hasn’t been so hot. But that gives you thicker skin and if you can get past it, then that’s when the real stuff starts happening. We used to post demos online to public forums, because face to face people often say things that let you off easy. Online anonymity allows people to be complete dicks to you and you just have to deal with it! So, really it started there. We just got our ass handed to us until our “Mind’s Eye” demo took off. We were on the front page of Reddit Guitar Facebook page for a while and it felt amazing. It doesn’t surprise me as “Mind’s Eye” is currently our most popular song.

Second release entitled “Mind’s Eye” only cemented your reputation as a new band to look out for. Overblown Magazine called you “the saviours of mainstream rock”, Worcester Music Festival described you as “dirty drive 100 MPH through the deserts of the wild west” while Born Music gave you the title of “one of the UK’s most exciting upcoming bands”. By now, you must be accustomed to constant praise.

Troy Tittley: It is a good feeling knowing you are on the right track, but it’s important not to rely on positive press because it can make you soft, in my opinion anyway. I think I work harder when people are being harsh. Josh Homme once said “You’ve got to learn to love being hit by rocks” and I think that’s true. But I am deeply grateful for the positive response.

Your latest single, “Dead in the desert” has almost cinematic feeling to it – a certain dark vibe accompanied by an open landscape of fuzzed guitars and distorted echoes. It is easy to imagine surviving members of Velvet Revolver teamed up with Trent Reznor to write a soundtrack for a new road movie directed by David Lynch. I have to admit, it has been one of my favorite tracks this year. Can you tell us more about it?

Troy Tittley: Can I use that description? I love it. I would definitely watch that movie. That song started off as just the bass riff. Originally, it was a guitar line made by Arran. We changed it hugely and made it way more psychedelic. Then we dropped it from our set for over a year, the chorus just wasn’t right. After that, I got addicted to Arctic Monkeys’ “AM” album and it channeled a lot of how I was feeling at the time and the chorus just came together. Finally, the whole song just made sense. The weird sounds and little guitar licks were improvised in the studio. Our producer Scott Mahoney just set me up with this enormous chain of trippy guitar pedals, went out for a smoke and told me to do whatever I wanted. It was a really fun experience, and we were just trying to create the weirdest and most creepy soundscape we could get away with. I’m glad you like it.

Nuns of the Tundra during their BBC Introducing session
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

On the 10th of October, you will release your first EP and a new single “Float Away”.  How many songs will be included? Where was it recorded?

Troy Tittley: The EP is the first 4 songs we recorded at the Funky Bunker in Malvern. “Float Away” will be the new track and all other singles released will be on there too. It’s our first CD and we’re so excited to have something physical. All songs were produced by Scott Mahoney and the current band lineup: me, Arran, Jim and Melos.

Recently, we found out that an animated video to “Float away” was produced by London based indie/alt rock art company YesMan. Its official premiere took place on the 28th of September and it has already been shown to critics at NYC Indie Film Festival where it was included into official festival selection. It will be competing for the main festival award in short movie category on 7 – 13th May 2018. We are very interested in learning more about this unusual collaboration.

Troy Tittley: YesMan caught our attention with his previous work; it has a really different feel to the majority of the stuff out there. We played him a lot of tracks that we’d recorded, and just asked him to pick the one that vibed with him most. We didn’t want any input; we just wanted him to come up with something, to make a song more than a song. “Float Away” is close to my heart, I wrote the main riff when I was very young, probably 13, so a part of me was hoping he’d choose it. And honestly the song works so much better with the video, once you see it, you won’t be able to separate the two. It’s just how I wanted it to be. Plus I get to be the moon!

Nuns of the Tundra are on the (rock and) roll. What are you up to in the nearest future?
Any gigs your fans should be aware of?

Troy Tittley:  We’ve got a few songs that are recorded and ready to go. We like to surprise people, so “Float Away” will be a departure from our main sound. The next batch will hopefully add another element to our repertoire. We have some songs to be yet recorded, a tour through October and big plans for 2018. Also, we’ll be back in the Louisiana in Bristol on the 4th of October, and our EP launch will be held at the Marrs Bar, October 10th. We’re heading back down to London on the 27th of October and we’re playing a special hometown gig in Malvern at the Unicorn too. Can’t wait!

You can follow Nuns of the Tundra online:

http://www.nundra.com
https://facebook.com/nunsofthetundra/
https://twitter.com/NunsoftheTundra
https://soundcloud.com/nunsofthetundra
https://www.reverbnation.com/nunsofthetundra
https://nunsofthetundra.bandcamp.com

That`s all folks. We will see you at Marrs Bar on October 10, for the EP launch.

Mal/Rita

Indieterria meets Thousand Mountain

Dear Readers,

Another chapter in our ongoing project to discover new and exciting music in 2017. And this band happens to be also a headliner of Musicians Against Homelessness gig that is organized in Worcester on September 22, 2017 – so today. They don`t have a leader, discarded lyrics and use the power of music to evoke emotions and imagination of the listener. Thousand Mountain – ladies and gentlemen – one of the best match rock acts in the country!

Band logo

Let the music do the talking

In the visual age, it is increasingly hard for any instrumental band to successfully compete against rock groups fronted by charismatic leaders. Without attention grabbing spectacle or glass shattering vocals, singer-less ensembles are commonly considered a lesser form of entertainment.  There are however exceptions to the rule. Heralded as one of the most innovative music acts on the West Midlands scene, Birmingham based trio Thousand Mountain, do not need cheap tricks to have all eyes focused on them. With their earth-shattering riffs and technical skills, they can create emotional performance that captivates the audience. During their recent visit to Worcester, we spoke to the band about their influences, preferences and the importance of being persistent.

According to your biography, Thousand Mountain is a three piece act formed in early 2016. Please introduce your band members and tell us more about your beginnings.

Thousand Mountain:  Sure! We have Dan Stokes on bass – huge Spiderman fan, Ash Andrews on drums – who is late for everything and Joel Hughes on guitar- who really wishes we were a Fleetwood Mac tribute band!

Like every strong/lasting relationship, we met over the Internet. Got sweaty in a room together for like 6 months – then music happened!

Read to rock – Thousand Mountain have established themselves as the leading match rock force in the West Midlands.

Your name, often abbreviated as TSND MNTN, is quite intriguing. Logo and song titles such as “Open Door” or “Kraken” point towards philosophical or mythological concepts. There are two famous Thousand Mountains in the world, one located in Japan – Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto (known as the Mountain of Thousand Gates) and The Thousand Buddha Mountain near the city of Jinan in China. What’s the inspiration behind this particular name?

Thousand Mountain:  You’ve nailed it, we take a lot of inspiration from eastern culture and we definitely did not need a band name that began with TM because we’d already paid for a logo using those 2 letters, which led to us being called ‘Trevor McDonald’ for an afternoon (laughing). Definitely, the first one which you said!

You classify yourselves as a power house rock band. The official Webster-Merriam definition for it would be a “rock group having great drive, energy, or ability”. We have to agree. You are volcanoes of energy on stage and your technical skills are commonly acknowledged.

Thousand Mountain:  Thank you (laughing again).

Birmingham Promoters, PR and media company based in West Midlands, described you as the eclectic mix of alternative and metal sounds with the aesthetic of classical rock. Can you tell us more about your musical heroes? Who do you look up to musically?

Thousand Mountain:  We’ve not seen that?! That’s cool though.  We all listen to different artists so we each bring something different to the table when we write.  Dan used to listen to a lot of metal so we have a few heavier elements and massive riffs, Ash listens to a lot of math rock bands, so our rhythms are interesting and Joel comes from a jazz and blues background, so the melodies and choral content are something that’s important to us. We really love bands that aren’t scared of doing what they want. We all love Chon, TTNG (This Town Needs Guns), Manchester Orchestra, Plini and bands like that. Anyone with a guitar gets our respect.

Nowadays, almost all bands relay heavily on strong vocals or charismatic front men/women. You seem to deliberately break all existing rules – you play instrumental music and all band members are equal. Thousand Mountain does not have a designated leader that audience could concentrate their attention on during shows. What is the reaction to your very own and quite unique way of playing?

Three very wise and very talented men. Photo from band archives

Thousand Mountain:  None of us are good enough to be the focal point, but when you put all 3 of us together, we make 1 decent musician. We’re not super cool, beautiful hunks or charismatic talkers – so we have to compromise.

Your genre of choice is often criticized as a limiting form of art. Vocal-less by nature, it does not offer listeners a story, and is regarded as “too technical” in comparison to evocative cinematic scores. How would you counter such arguments?

Thousand Mountain:  There’s only 12 notes in music so if your vocalist can only sing in a handful of key signatures, but our guitars can play in all of them, then who’s really limited? Lyrics are telling you one person’s story, most of the time people don’t have anything interesting to say, so just moan about how they’re so deep, our music sets a scene which you can fill with your own story. We could never compete with an orchestra, but for 1 guitar, 1 bass and 1 drum kit, we try our best.

2017 seems to be a breakthrough year for you. You have been performing extensively, sharing stages with the best new acts like Lost Tiger to the Wild, Rubio, Ideal Club (at the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham), Salt Wounds and others.  On 17th of August you have supported American legends of spoken word movement – Listener during their show at the Flapper. In short – you have an impressive resume for a young band.

Thousand Mountain:  It’s because we don’t leave promoters alone. We work a lot with “Surprise You’re Dead Music” in Birmingham. And as I’m sure they’ll testify to, we’re really annoying.
But, if we see a show that we want to be on, we won’t wait for the invitation. We’re no strangers to playing some really weird shows just to get our names out there, so venues and promoters know about us. When you have a 4 band bill of 3 proper indie bands, then it is us. We’re definitely there to stick out and be remembered! We supported Press To Meco, who we adore on the back of playing to a room full of scared indie kids where the other bands didn’t talk to us all night. But you have to do things like that. It’s pointless updating Facebook once a month asking people to re-blog you on Tumblr – just turn up, put on a sick show and never stop asking for more.

Thousand Mountain has played in Worcester on several occasions in the past, always to sold-out shows. In September, you will grace our local stages twice: on 15th of September you will perform at Heroes Bar as part of Worcester Music Festival and a week later, on 22nd of September, you will headline the electric stage at Marrs Bar as part of Musicians Against Homelessness event in support of Crisis, a charity helping to eradicate homelessness from British streets. What can we expect from you on that night?

Photo from band archives

Thousand Mountain:  We love Worcester, from the first time we played we’ve been welcomed back with open arms. It’s by far our favorite city to play. Everyone’s open-minded about music and they seem to dig us. We get noticed when we’re walking around town now too, that’s why we come back so often – for an ego boost.  We’re really looking forward to that show, we’ve been to a few around the country before and they’re always busy nights. And to be headlining one at our favorite venue is something that’s very important to us. So expect a big, big show.

Two charity gigs in span of few days. You really give back to your own community. In your opinion, how important is it for independent artists to be locally engaged?

Thousand Mountain:  Massively. MAH is a huge platform, that’s all the motivation a band should need, but when you know it’s achieving something positive it makes it even more worthwhile.

What are your plans for the future? Any exciting news or plans for a new release?

Thousand Mountain:  Our first EP should be released soon, and we promise there won’t be a long wait for EP2! Additionally, we’ve recently learnt how to use iMovie – which is extremely dangerous for band with a weird sense of humor like us. Everything else is a super-secret; you’ll need to follow us to see what’s happening!

You can follow Thousand Mountain at:

https://www.facebook.com/ThousandMountain/
https://twitter.com/TSNDMNTN
https://soundcloud.com/thousand-mountain

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Thousand Mountain play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

As a headliner of the charity fundraiser, Thousand Mountain filled in the role of press spokespersons and they did quite well you have to admit. The local coverage was great, even before the event started:

Worcester Observer 19th September 2017

https://worcesterobserver.co.uk/news/charity-gig-will-help-homeless/

Worcester News 19th September 2017

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/15544094.Worcester_musicians_to_play_in_support_of_homeless_charity/

Severn Valley Radio, 20th September 2017

http://www.severnvalleyradio.co.uk/news/local-news/worcester-bands-will-play-in-support-of-musicians-against-homelessness/

That`s all for now folks. We will report from after the gig,

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets Rita Lynch

Dear Readers,

Please forgive us if we will be acting like complete fan girls. We absolutely and dearly love Rita Lynch – our next featured artist on Indieterria. We have seen her live on January 1st, 2017 in Worcester, have her records in our musical archives and can hardly wait to see her perform at Musicians Against Homelessness on 22nd September. Read on, this is one of our favorite interviews yet!

Rita Lynch performing at NYE party at Pig and Drum in Worcester , 31 December 2016 – January 1 2017

First Lady of punk

Don’t believe when they tell you that punk is dead. The genre is not only very much alive and kicking; it is going through a period of renaissance. It may be a bit older (and wiser), less drunk and more philosophical at times, yet its message against austerity, social alienation and economic devastation rings loud and clear. Political climate is certainly helping to bridge the age gap between new audiences and the underground legends and helps deliver a musical middle finger exactly where it hurts the most. Yet, looking for rebellion is not the only reason why the kids turn to punk rock. Its biggest strength definitely lies in the authenticity and originality, constant re-definition and self-discovery. We have teamed up with Rita Lynch, the first lady of punk to speak about her career, surviving the odds and her plans for her rock and roll future.

You were first introduced to music when attending a Catholic school. Apparently, a nun has taught you how to play a guitar. Were the nuns really that supportive? Catholic schools in 60’s and 70 were rather known to suppress any form of artistic creativity.

Rita Lynch: The nun who taught me guitar was one of the better ones. She obviously enjoyed playing guitar herself and, as teachers go especially all those years ago, she was slightly more interested in creativity. She had already put one of my stories in the school magazine. She also had given me the cane, a couple of times, once for laughing in church. None of the teachers back then were that interested in a shy child like me who was always getting ill. So she was a bit of a hero to me all those years ago.

As soon as you graduated, you found yourself in the middle of London`s punk rock revolution. You founded one of nation`s first all-female rock bands – Rita & The Piss Artists, playing mostly squats and small venues. Can you recall some of the wild days and tell us who were in the band beside you?

Rita Lynch: With Rita and the Piss Artists we did a lot of drinking. We were a 4 piece band. I played bass and helped write the songs, but I did not sing. During our time we had 2 different singers. The first was a woman called Caspar; she had a brilliant voice but left us quite quickly. The next singer, Jo, wasn’t a good singer but had enough front to do it. The guitarist was not very good but the drummer had played before so we, the bass and drums, mostly held it all together. One squat gig, we played at the Demolition Ballroom on Stokes Croft, Bristol and somebody pulled the plug on us, we were so bad. We would all get very drunk, maybe take some speed and get up on stage. If we had taken it a bit more seriously, we could have done well, maybe. It was more of a sideline to the serious job of drinking. But we were doing it for a while when few women were.

The drummer from the Piss Artists, Justine Butler, just lives around the corner from me now. She went on to get a Master’s degree and had a child who is grown up now. She is a lovely woman. We meet up now and again and she has come to loads of my gigs over the years – she’s very supportive.

Once your band folded, you permanently moved to Bristol. At that time, the town had a vibrant scene with bands such as The Cortinas, Social Security and The Pigs. How did the mostly male scene react to outspoken female artist from the capital?

Rita Lynch: When I first started playing my own gigs as Rita Lynch, I was a solo acoustic performer. The sexism was terrible, the things men in the music world said to me were often rude, insulting and so misogynistic. Stuff like women dingers are always late for gigs, have tantrums at sound checks, and generally talked about as if they were spoilt children. Some of the graffiti in back stage rooms really shocked me. I was, at the time, going out with a woman and mostly socializing on the gay scene. It kind of removed me from the heterosexual world which really helped in those first few years. I was never late and always professional and built up a defence against this sexism by dressing outrageously and, with my height being nearly 6ft I kind of must have struck quite an intimidating figure. It put a wall around me and inside that I happily wrote my songs and tried to perfect and develop my own music.

You also made yourself a name as a performer/protest figure marching around in a mutilated wedding dress. What was the protest about?

Rita Lynch: I went on a lot of demos back then. But the wedding dress was mostly just for wearing in the day time. So, every day was a personal protest. I bought it for 50 pence in a charity shop and ripped it up, and would wear it just to get attention, like I was living art, walking down the street. But loads of people would stare and, as I was always barefoot in the summer, I must have looked very unusual. Apparently a young child saw me from a window and told her mum there was a real live fairy walking down the street. This was all in St. Paul’s. It was a vibrant place with big reputation for race riots. There was a lot of prostitution on the street corners and police would not go down the frontline. It had lots of drugs, crime as well and racism. It was a cool place to live very freely, if you had the nerve.

You joined cold wave outfit God Bless You as a bassist. At that time, the band consisted only of Simon Black and Dave Ryan. Within a year, you were not only a full time member, but also a co-vocalist. With you in the line up, God Bless You released several singles such as “Sugar” which are considered the beginning of your career as an artist and performer. How do you remember the collaboration with Simon and Dave?

Rita Lynch: God Bless You was amazing musically. Dave had a fantastic voice and Simon was genius with inventing simple but amazing tunes and riffs. I was with them as backing vocalist for nearly 2 years. I learnt a lot from watching them put songs together. They also introduced me to countless good bands and artists like Iggy Pop and Roxy Music. Dave was a poet and a great thinker, his lyrics were brilliant. He was hugely pivotal in inspiring me to sing and write songs. I loved being in God Bless You. Dave and Simon were my heroes.

In 1991 you released your first solo work “Call me your girlfriend”. The LP became very popular and music press compared you to Kirstin Hersh, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and even Nico. Channel 4 made a documentary about you. Was it hard to copy with the attention of the media?

Rita Lynch: I loved the attention I got from the “Call me your Girlfriend” album but it was scary as I had been underground for so long and I also found it intimidating. It validated me but made me nervous as well. I had to write another album and I was unsure how to go. I personally thought that I could do so much better than this first album. The album got me a lot of attention on the gay scene but the record label I was with, Moles in Bath, did not promote it very well elsewhere. So, I became a ‘lesbian’ singer increasingly which was not what I wanted and I still had to make the cross over to the mainstream. Also, the record label did not distribute the album properly so people could not easily get hold of it. As a result, I was still ‘underground’ but big on the gay scene. Then both, me and my girlfriend, we got beaten up for being gay. These were harsh times to be ‘out’, I found all this very difficult. The music was getting lost and I felt uncomfortable with being heralded as a ‘lesbian icon’. I was a singer/songwriter but all the other identities were becoming more important. Being an artist, I was feeling misunderstood.

Cover of What am I – anther record from our sonic archives and also signed by the artist.

What am I – sleeve and inside of the record

Your background and lyrical themes also drew comparisons to Sinéad O’Connor – another female figure that could not be easily squeezed into a box. Looking back, do you think there were really similarities between you?

Rita Lynch: I saw Sinéad play at Gay Pride in London, I can’t remember the year. She blew my mind; I had never seen or heard anything like it before. It was one of the most important gigs I have ever seen in my life. Unforgettable. I was humbled by the experience. There are similarities in that we both grapple with sexuality, Catholicism and politics. She is Irish born, I am Irish born to immigrant parents in London. Being Irish/Catholic is an identity made more personal and volatile due to the racism of the English and the weight of the ongoing war and domination of Ireland by the English. Sinéad was and is one the most important musical influences of my life.

You have been a successful solo artist for the last 25 years. In that period you released thirteen albums under your own name, three with other bands, appeared on over thirty compilations and scored several productions (Vampire Diary, Channel 4`s Rosebud), you toured nationally and around Europe. That`s an incredible body of work. Were you expecting such a long run in this dog eat dog industry?

Rita Lynch: No. I never expected to do music in the first place, let alone to be doing it for so long. I love writing songs, I love singing and putting a good lyric together. But my love of these things has developed hugely with the passing of time. I don’t actually see myself as ‘successful’ artist. Over the years, with all the egos and vanities and nonsense that comprise much of the music business, I have tried to focus on the writing of songs and developing my particular style. I was heartbroken when my first album did not go as well as I wanted and as I got older tried to ‘give up’ music and get a proper job. I never did get a proper job. I am dedicated to making music. It is my job. I want to write as many songs as I can. My ambition with music has altered from wanting fame in a vanity way when I was younger to a true hard working attention to song writing. The music business or industry is vile. I don’t think about it much anymore, like it has nothing to do with me. I admire people who dedicate themselves to their art, even when they do not get success, I have aspired to this. I try to work hard at writing songs. I don’t go out much, whenever I get time, I do music. My son is severely autistic and it has been a challenging experience. My life is dedicated to the care of my son and music. I do a lot of gigs, solo and with my band. I am still hugely ambitious in that I have yet to write my best song. I need to communicate through music; it is my take on the human experience.

Cover of Good Advice record, from our own archives. Yes, it is signed and we treasure it.

In 2006 you reinvented yourself yet again by joining The Blue Aeroplanes. You recorded three albums with them (Skyscrappers, Good Luck Signs and Anti-Gravity). In return, John Langley and Mike Youe back you up on your tours. You seem more like good friends than just musical collaborators.

Rita Lynch:  Being in The Blue Aeroplanes was amazing. I admire their music. Also that was how I met my drummer, John Langley. This has been the best musical collaboration since God Bless You. John is the best drummer most people will ever see. He makes every song better with his drumming. When we first teamed up, I wrote the album “Good Advice”. He is massively inspiring and also introduced me to new music. We were a 2 piece for a few years. He upped my game, I had to get better so I practiced more and more and worked harder at my guitar playing. We developed hugely as a band. We sometimes make up songs on stage – improvising with John is a dream. We understand each other musically. It’s like magic. When Mike joined us a few years ago, he fitted in easily. He is a very good musician and picks stuff up very quickly. It felt just right straight away. John and I have been good friends for years and Mike is a lovely easy going person. We have a laugh as well.

In 2016, an anthology of your music “Story to tell (1988-2011)” has been released to celebrate your career and involvement in Bristol music scene. Can you tell us more about this project?

Rita Lynch: Mike Darby used to be my manager about 25 years ago. He had the idea to put out this anthology. It is a cross section of songs spanning 3 decades. I want to bring out another anthology but will do this one myself through the record label I work with now. Also, I am currently setting up to release all my future albums with them and re-release all the previous ones.

You played Worcester on New Year`s Eve at Pig and Drum. You will return to Marrs Bar this September to take part in Musicians Against Homelessness event. Will there be a chance to hear some of your new music?

Rita Lynch: Yes, I will be playing a lot of my new songs. My new album entitled “Backwards” will be released in January 2018. You will have a chance to hear some of my new material for the first time on 22nd of September.

 

You can follow Rita at:

http://ritalynch.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/rita.lynch.121

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Rita Lynch  play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

Please note that due to a serious hand injury Rita will open the gig and her set will be shorter than expected. But it may be also streamlined on Facebook and it will be different than her usual sets, so you better be at Marr`s Bar 8:00 pm sharp! 😉

Take care,

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets The Humdrum Express

Dear Readers,

We continue  our series of interviews with musicians we think shape music scenes and sonic landscapes around us this year.  They don`t have to be spring chickens leading revolutions and tearing roofs off the venues. They can be experienced artists, wiser in their business ways and accompanied by a trusty guitar. And they are still relevant, on point and powerful in their expression. Today, we present you Ian Passey, who is the force behind The Humdrum Express. Ian will be one of the artists that will rock Worcester for Musicians Against Homelessness.  Read on, dear friends. This is as we say: banger of an interview and an artist you have to know.

A thousand things to worry about

An esteemed artist, Ian Passey, has built a solid fan base in the West Midlands under his moniker, The Humdrum Express. Championed by BB6 Music and sharing stages with the rock and roll greatest, Ian is returning to his home turf this September to support Worcester Music Festival and play a charitable show for the national campaign, Musicians Against Homelessness. We have met Ian to discuss his many achievements, stardom and new music he is currently working on.


BBC describes you as “One man, a few instruments and a thousand things to worry about”. Who exactly is Ian Passey?

Ian Passey:  I’m a singer/songwriter based in Kidderminster. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember, firstly as a member of various bands (Smedley, Jackpot, Swagger). After a bit of a break, I decided to do my own thing, initially bedroom recordings, before taking the plunge back into gigging. Ten years later, I’m still here – writing and performing with as much enthusiasm as I’ve ever had. I suppose the “thousand things to worry about” tag came from the underdog slant of the lyrics, attempting to fear the worst in a humorous way. Either that or it’s a good guess!

The Humdrum Express is your solo project. You write your own music, produce your albums and play all instruments – you are a one man band. Do you prefer to work alone?

Ian Passey:  Although that was the case a few years ago, in more recent times, I’ve really enjoyed working with other people. My last couple of albums and most recent EP has been produced by Mick Lown. Not only is he fun to work with, but also has a great knack of suggesting ideas and instrumentation to suit a particular song. It’s a refreshing way to work which helps to prevent getting stuck in a rut. As far as videos go, I’ve been teaming up with Nick J. Townsend pretty regularly. Again, he’s someone I really enjoy working with to help expand on some of my ideas. I love to get as many people involved as possible with the videos and I’m always amazed by how many love being a part of them. I’ve also got several musician friends, who have enhanced some of the recordings for which I’m extremely grateful. Long may these collaborations continue! I’m always on the lookout for new ones if anyone’s interested…

Ian Passey performing – photo by Arthur Passey

It is hard to categorize your music. Some journalists put you into spoken word or singer/songwriter category; others consider you to be a prime example of what experimental music should sound like. How do you feel about the constant need of squeezing artist into existing genres? Is there any style that could comfortably describe what you are doing or do you avoid being labelled at all?

Ian Passey:  The need for genres is something that has bugged me for years! I always put lyrics ahead of any particular musical style and I’m quite happy to change it when the need arises. I love the spoken word style as much as the classic verse/chorus/middle eight structures. It all about getting the maximum impact from a phrase, I suppose.

Your lyrics, an important part of your music, are complex and straightforward. They’ve earned you a reputation of a “bespectacled observationist, casting a cynical eye over exasperating times”. Where do you look for inspiration?

Ian Passey:   I don’t really look anywhere for it, but always seem to stumble across something. That being said, this is proving to be my leanest year, writing wise, for some time. Perhaps I should start looking?! Like most artists, I work better when there’s a deadline looming so maybe I should start thinking about album number six…

The Humdrum Express album “(Failed Escapes from the) Clones Town Blues” received great reviews from leading music journalists such as Steve Lamacq. Your newest release “The Day My Career Died” has been championed on BB6 Music. Has the exposure helped you to advance your career outside of West Midlands?

Ian Passey:   It’s been fantastic in so many ways. Being pitched alongside artists I admire has helped improve and focus my writing. The thought of being found out as an impostor drives me on to write stuff worthy of the airplay! The knock-on effect is obviously the new people all over the world who suddenly have access to your music.

You have shared stages with many legends: performance poet John Cooper Clarke, Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü), Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), The Wombats, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Wedding Present, Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers) and Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) to name just a few. If you could choose another person to perform with, who would that be?

Ian Passey:  Tricky question! Billy Childish would be nice as it would mean he was back playing live again. I did three dates with John Cooper Clarke around 2010 and I’d love the opportunity again, although the venues he’s packing out these days are much bigger than back then. I was due to support the Sleaford Mods a couple of years ago until the promoter in Leamington opted for a more local act instead. That would have been great, but it wasn’t to be.

You are probably the only person from Kidderminster to ever play at Glastonbury festival. How do you remember this experience?

Ian Passey:  Hazily! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one from Kidderminster either! It was hardly the Pyramid stage but it was great fun. I seem to recall the act on before me end with a cover of “Take on me” by A-ha which the crowd lapped up. I’m not sure why, but I thought I’d end my own set in similar fashion… by tearing through “Gather in the mushrooms” by Benny Hill! Unless my memory is playing tricks, I received a standing ovation!

We have to ask you – was “Worcester Woman (Forgate Me Not)” written about a real person linked to the city or is it licentia poetica?

Ian Passey:  I’ve always viewed that one as a bit of general daftness! It’s a fictional tale that attempts to mix romance with political terminology. It doesn’t get played too often but I’m tempted to give it an airing on 22nd September, particularly as The Marr’s Bar gets a mention.

The Humdrum Express has many faithful supporters on the local scene. You have played Worcester Music Festival several times, always coming back by popular demand. This year you will also support Crisis charity by performing at Musicians Against Homelessness event on 22nd of September. You will appear on the acoustic stage.

Ian Passey:  I’ve been lucky enough to play at every Worcester Music Festival apart from the very first one. As it happens,  I’m not playing this time but will be promoting an evening as I have done for the past three years. My event will take place at The Firefly on the Sunday, featuring several of my favourite grass roots discoveries.

What are your plans for the autumn? Any upcoming tours?

Ian Passey:   I’ve got some great gigs on the horizon… I’m playing my biggest headline show to date at The Rose Theatre in Kidderminster on 7th October (tickets available from their website!) It’s a near 200 capacity all seater venue and, without giving too much away, will be much more than the usual gig format. I’ve also got dates with the likes of CUD, Mark Morriss and Half Man Half Biscuit to look forward to, so it should be a fun few months. I’m releasing a brand new single early in November with an accompanying video, so I’m pretty busy until the end of the year.

You can follow Ian and The Humdrum Express

www.thehumdrumexpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHumdrumExpress/
https://soundcloud.com/thehumdrumexpress

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Ian Passey play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/