Indieterria meets Mutes

Dear Readers,

Birmingham/West Mids scene at times feels like uncharted territory. You may be an active player locally for years and still come across bands that you have not heard of before. And they usually will be bands that you dig immediately, from the first listen. Let`s take Mutes for example. One evening, on our way home we noticed a poster advertising a gig in the local venue in Worcester.  We checked the headliner to realise not only they were part of the West Mids scene but we had like a million mutual friends and hanged out at the same boozers and venues between Madlands and Mancunia (hello Sunny and Castle!) Mutes were noisy, unpredictable and fiercely independent. The same evening we sent them a message and asked for an interview. There was no time to be wasted. Below, you will find our conversation with vocalist James Brown and Tom Hewson – bassist and founder of FOMA records. It is a long, splendid read but that`s how we like our music – loud, untamed with artists having something important to say.

Band logo

Mutes are:
James Brown  (guitar/vocals)
Tom Hewson (bass)
Craig Philip Bainton (drums)

Official bio: After two long, domesticated years of breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding, Mutes have returned with their reactionary, tempestuous sophomore LP “Pareidolia”– a meandering, exhilarating record that sees the Birmingham post-punk group delivering something entirely new. Mutes have continued to build up a national reputation supporting bands such as Sorry, No Age, Cloud Nothings, The Cribs, PINS, Menace Beach & more. The group have received a steady stream of acclaim for their recorded output and live shows since 2014.

The Mutes ready to take their new material on the road. Photo by Megan Lewis

DIY Magazine described you with these words: “Mutes occupy the kind of territory that heavyweights tend to own”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

James Brown: So we’re Mutes- a 3 piece band from Birmingham. Started as a solo lo-fi project for myself but has ballooned into something far more aggy and ferocious. We’re into noise rock, ambient music, math, chamber pop, garage punk… everything really. Our music is kind of arty punk I think. It’s ephemeral in a sense but it’s also a lot more drawn-out than most of our local contemporaries.

Mutes have been on Birmingham scene for a relatively long period and have impressive back catalogue, maybe even the richest on local scene.  Your debut, self titled EP came in May 2014. It was followed by “Starvation Age”, a full band release on One Note Forever Records in 2015. You also have  an LP  – “No Desire” – that came out in 2017 via FOMA Records. That’s a lot of material. James also has three solo EPs to his name:  “Various Distractions” (2013), “No One Is Nowhere” (2014) and “Inertia” (2016). Its seems like you have this urge to record at any time. And even at any place – judging from the fact that your albums have been recorded in a bedroom in Birmingham and  a basement in Leeds.

Overfed singles cover

James Brown:  We’re actually nowhere near as prolific as I’d like to be. It’s hard in this day and age- if you release stuff constantly it just gets lost in the ether. Ideally I’d love to release at least 2 EPs a year and an album every other. But it’s hard to maintain prolificacy when you have a full time job! Above and all music should be self-expression and playing in a band should be fun- there’s no point writing a song if you have no feeling or aesthetic bursting to escape. There’s more than enough songs in the world. We record anywhere we can due to budget constraints- I recorded and mixed “Pareidolia” myself because I knew I had to make the album but I had no money at all. And I’m glad- necessity is the mother of invention and there’s things I did that I could’ve never done on someone else’s clock.

Press release for your new records mentions “breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding”. This struggle must have left its mark on the album. Would you be feeling comfortable to tell what have happened in the band in the last two years?

James Brown:  Well over the last 2 years Mutes have had 8 different members. And I’ve had 2 relationships, 3 jobs, lived in 2 cities. You get the picture. It’s not been a particularly stable existence, but for better or worse having music to keep me going has been imperative to not just jacking everything in. Because when you’re onstage, or laying down vocals, or in a sweaty, smokey rehearsal room and everything clicks – none of the other bullshit matters. I wrote out all the lyrics to “Pareidolia” the other day and they do really reflect everything I’ve gone through over the past couple of years- relationship breakdowns, identity crisis, substance abuse or whatever. Even if I was too mired in it at the time to realise that’s what I was writing about.

New LP is entitled “Pareidolia” and comes out on June 21st 2019. So far three singles have been released: “Swallowing Light”, “Overfed” and “Men of Violence”.  The album brings a brand new line up. How do you think the record will be received?

James Brown:   I honestly don’t know – all I can do is be grateful that anyone might spend their own time listening to it. That blows my mind, the idea that someone might choose to listen to something I’ve created. But if they do that and it elicits any kind of emotional response then that’s incredible and I am thankful.

You remain unsigned but release your material through FOMA that also have Hoopla Blue, Outlander and Repeat of Last Week on their roster. The label also organizes events and offers artists management in house. Can you tell us more about FOMA and the relationship you share?

James Brown:  I’ll pass this over to our beautiful boi Tom

Tom Hewson: I formed FOMA with my brother James Hewson and friend Adam Tomes, who I write music with in Hoopla Blue. We started working with Mutes before the release of their debut LP “No Desire”, which was exciting for us as a label as it was the first time we worked with a band we were not directly involved with. Since then we’ve also worked with Outlander. James self-produced “Pareidolia” before I joined the band on bass duties. The label has become somewhat of a family that share the same values and commitment to our city and the music it offers. It’s all an experiment to be honest. We want to shout about the beauty of Birmingham with each new release and event

The band photographed by visual artist Megan Lewis

Mutes will be going on tour to support the record. Where can we see you live?

James Brown:  Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Worcester, London, Shropshire, Manchester. It’s pretty drawn out and we’d have loved some more dates up North but we get where we can! I’ve had to book out some of the venues myself so it’s DIY to the bone. I love day trips and playing a gig is like a day trip but with you as the star! And free beer! I mean what’s not to love?

We always get excited when bands come to play in our city of Worcester. For this particular gig you will be supported by SedatedSociety – a project by members of Rubella Moon, Coat of Many, The Americas and Junior Weeb.  That is truly mind blowing! Anything we should be expecting from the performance?

James Brown:  It’ll be loud! I’ve always loved Worcester and have been lucky enough to become friends with some of the bands there – and ones that have flown the nest such as Souer. I absolutely LOVE playing small intimate venues, so I’m really excited to play Paradiddles. Asking SedatedSociety was a given- those guys have been to a couple of our shows and are great, and I like to hand pick line-ups any chance I get. If one person who has never seen us play before has a good night then it’s a success. I have literally played to just the bar staff before and if they’ve enjoyed it then I’m happy. Maybe we can all hit Heroes after and drink too much. I like the low ceiling in there, makes me feel less like a short-ass.

Mutes will tour in support of their new album

Last question: We all say that Birmingham scene is underfunded and not as competitive as Manchester or Liverpool for example. So, if you had a million pounds to throw at the Birmingham music scene – what would you change?  What would you improve?

James Brown:  A million pounds eh? Well, open a new venue- one that’s around 80 cap and has accommodation for touring bands. Put the money into ensuring all bands that play there get some kind of content-based benefit such as a decent quality recording of the set, possibly even filmed too. Maintain a blog that does video interviews. Ensure it’s a safe space for everyone who wants to attend. Keep the toilets clean and the drinks reasonably priced. I love the East Midlands scene – Nottingham, Leicester, Derby. They feel a lot more sincere and less flashy. Dubrek Studios & JT Soar are great examples – Outta Mind Promotions put on a fantastic all-dayer last month and I could play those things every weekend for the rest of my life and be happy. Any money left over I’d love to put into obtaining press and tour support for FOMA artists. You’re really making me want a million pounds now!

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/mutesuk/
https://twitter.com/mutesmutesmutes
https://www.instagram.com/mutesmutesmutes/
https://soundcloud.com/mutes-1
https://mutesuk.bandcamp.com/
https://mutesuk.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZAMKXTW31pxdXjdEW5LmdA
https://open.spotify.com/artist/52mqrsNlDf6CVhB6XJ6LHf?si=jO6sk6uwTk6XONJKEtyKlg

You can also check out  FOMA on socials and give them kudos for supporting independent scene in West Mids

https://www.facebook.com/wearefoma/
http://www.wearefoma.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/wearefoma
https://www.instagram.com/wearefoma/
https://wearefoma.bandcamp.com

Mutes, photography by Megan Lewis

Some additional reading about Mutes:

https://counteract.co/news/brummie-post-punks-mutes-detail-new-album-announce-uk-tour
http://indiemidlands.com/mutes-men-of-violence/

Poster for Mutes/SedatedSociety gig in Worcester

Mutes will play Worcester on June 25th 2019 at Paradiddles with SedatedSociety supporting. This will be first gig for both bands in town and the venue is very intimate so grab your tickets at the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/295350488016053/
https://www.wegottickets.com/event/473034

Door time is 7:30 PM and first band is on 8:00-ish. We plan to see some friendly faces. Tickets are £3 (ADV) and about £5 OTD.

Oh boy we cant wait.

M/R

Indieterria meets Memes

Dear Readers,

They appeared out of nowhere, with no warning and within a month have been BBC 6 Music single of the week, had Amazing Radio on their team and BBC Scotland taking notice. If that is not a very definition of taking the indie circuit by storm, then we don’t know what that would be. We have sat down with Memes to talk about their new single, future gigs and their lyrics. This band combines post punk fury with intelligence and wit of The Fall. Mark E Smith is probably looking down, nodding his head with approval and saying to John Peel that there are still good bands in the UK.

You can listen to Memes on 60 seconds CV on Steve Lamacq’s Recommend’s show at:
https://cocamidemea.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/memes_60-seconds_cv_steve-lamacq-recommends_25.04.2019.mp3

They are going viral and we couldn’t be happier!

Memes logo

Memes are:
John McLinden
Paul McLinden

At Indieterria, we take pride in researching each band we interview. However we weren’t able to find much about Memes. We learnt only that you come from Glasgow and that the band is made out of two friends named John and Paul. Introduce yourselves properly to our readers.

Memes: Memes is John McLinden and Paul McLinden and we are cousins and we are a new duo from Glasgow.

We love your enigmatic attitude. You have no biography on social media, just an email address and a couple of pictures are available. Tell us more about Memes. When did you start playing? Have you been involved in any previous projects?

Memes: To be honest, the mystery hasn’t really been intentional, the missing bio and lack of information on the band is mostly down to the fact that the band is being so new! That said, it’s hard for bands to maintain any mystique in the social media age, which is a shame, as it is one of the things we like about some of our favourite bands.

Memes came about from some downtime in another band we play with (we have been involved in various projects before). We just got together to record some ideas that Paul had written. We were just messing around really and DIY recording in a loft in Glasgow, but we liked the end result of ‘Blah Blah Blah’ and thought we would put a single release together to see if we could get any reaction. We only started working on Memes in February 2019.

Scottish blog Turn Up The Volume compared your music to The Fall and The Smiths with a “healthy dose” of Idles. What are your inspirations?

Memes:  Very flattering of them to say so, we would count those bands as favourites of ours for sure. We like anything that is interesting or provocative in some way. That could be anything from Talking Heads to Frank Sinatra to Steve Reich.

“Is that a picture of your grand pa?” – photography by Gary Dickie

In another review you were described as “Fast and furious lo-fi post punk that sounds like a frantic Mark E Smith after a day spent watching BBC Parliament”.  And we have to admit that your lyrics have the same wit and edge as the lead singer of The Fall. We will risk saying that he`d be a fan.  You are not afraid to be outspoken and yet do it in a subtle way. That’s a very rare quality in music these days. 

Memes:  There isn’t much in the way of being outspoken (or saying anything really) in the mainstream, but there are bands and individuals out there causing a stir. We haven’t deliberately set our stall out to say anything specific but hopefully the songs catch the imagination.

You just released your debut A side single “Blah Blah Blah”/”Funny man” and captured attention of everyone in the business. You have been a single of the week at BBC 6 Music as chosen by Steve Lamacq himself, you have been championed by Jim Gellatly on Amazing Radio, Tom Robinson from Fresh on the Net is also very fond of the song. This Feeling added the single to their Best New Bands playlist. Is this attention something you have expected?

Memes:  No, not at all. We liked the music and hoped others would, but having the airplay we have had for such a new project has been fantastic, we just have to back it up now! Music is a difficult nut to crack and we have only released two songs at the moment, but hopefully our next release will raise the game!

Talking about debuts, The Duct Tape, Edinburgh zine swears that 4 months before “Blah Blah Blah” came out you have released another song that was distributed during underground punk gathering. Sadly we haven’t been able to confirm this  piece of news anywhere else. True or not?

Memes:  Hmmm news to us! Could be another band called Memes but it definitely wasn’t us.

We would like to ask you about the story behind “Funny Man”. Are you able to disclose the person about whom the song was  written?

Memes:  It’s not about any one person in particular, just the many “funny” and supposed “characters” out there that you meet…that aren’t funny and have no character, you know the ones!

We keep mentioning The Fall in this interview and on 13th of June you will be supporting Imperial Wax Band (whose members were the longest serving and the last line up of The Fall). You must have the date marked on your calendars!

Memes:  Yeah, looking forward to that one. Given that The Fall has been mentioned as part of our sound, it will hopefully go down well with the Imperial Wax crowd.

Memes are just getting started – but you must have some plans made for the future. What can we expect? A new single more gigs or perhaps a bigger release such a EP?

Famous last question. Imagine you can play any venue in the world. Which one would you choose?

Memes:  This would have to be the Barrowlands in Glasgow, simply a great venue.

Memes ready to take on the world – photo by Gary Dickie

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/memestheband/
https://soundcloud.com/memestheband
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAozXPvxbmFDRGmKhGVK8fQ
https://twitter.com/memestheband
https://open.spotify.com/artist/4UHOCHsbn2JNwXQJWzO2WT?si=zx3wwhmwQqWzSmIWdyeo8w

Memes can be contacted at: memestheband@hotmail.com

Additional reading :
https://turnupthevolume.blog/2019/04/08/scottish-post-punks-memes-hit-hard-twice-with-double-debut-single-blah-blah-blah-and-funny-man/

Memes will share the stage with hottest new indie bands – Tiger Mimic and Lower Loveday at iconic venue Nambucca on April 27th 2019. The event is free entry:

Showcase poster

You can find more info on socials at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/658720734568060/

We will be reporting on Memes in the future since they are about to go though the roofs. Just give them few months, they will give Sleaford Mods a good run! (and we like Mods, actually them and Memes on a tour is such a good idea!).

R/M

Indieterria meets Tin Mole

Dear Readers,

This December Indieterria stops for a while in a port. Kingdom of Mancunia always had the best music and record collections and even  people who did things differently. So for the time being, we will stay in a safe and warm haven of Manchester and will report on new acts coming from the town and its  wonderfully loud venues of  Northern Quarter.

Two years ago we began Indieterria by interviewing Salford`s own Tigerside. This time around, we reopen a new year by chatting to the artist known as Tin Mole.  You probably did not hear about him yet (unless you listen to Salford City Radio 94.4 FM with Zach Peach who was one of the first DJs to play Tin Mole), but surely soon there will be a lot of hype around the artist who mixes samples, indie rock, trip hop and spoken word in a truly innovative fashion.

Tin Mole logo

You may be familiar with Tin Mole`s previous project – Ladies` Dart Night as they delivered their politically charged musical sermons across the North sharing stages with Garden Back or Strange Bones. Sadly, Ladies` Dart Night ended in 2017 and members of the band moved on to other projects.

We discovered Tin Mole  via Tom Robinson`s excellent Fresh on the Net portal and were so impressed with his debut single “Slug Frontier” that we contacted  him and asked for an interview. Tin Mole is an enigma wrapped in riddle, his answers are short, to the point with the usual northern swagger and edge. But you can`t deny him vision, talent and artistic integrity.  He works double hard to put music out there, doing his own PR (press releases, photos, editing) while studying and working at the same time.  Practical, honest and determined –  Tin Mole breaks the mold on Mancunian scene, offering something fresh and unusual.

Read on, listen and tell us what you think.

Tin Mole
?

Ladies` Darts Night logo

Ladies` Dart Night
 Luke Geoghegan (drums, keys)
Nathan Connell-Howard (guitar, bass)
Jonny Sowerby (vox)
Tom Milnes (vox)
Phil Stuttard (vox)

You are not a newcomer on Manchester music scene. Would you like to introduce yourself to Indieterria readers?

Tin Mole: I’m Tin Mole, a producer from Manchester. I’ve been in a couple of bands and done a fair bit of techno DJ`ing on the underground mole scene.

Before Tin Mole, you have been a member of five piece Ladies` Darts Night. You have released EP “Tragedies, Comedies & Histories” in 2017, toured nationally and shared stages with such established young acts as Garden Back and Strange Bones. Then suddenly you called it quits. What happened?

Tin Mole: It was fun while it lasted but it all went to pot after a trip out to Edinburgh. The Irn Bru was strong that day.

Tin Mole in a curious selfie mode?

German blog “Hey Musik” described Ladies` Darts Night as “pulling groovy, fuzzy guitar from The Stone Roses, powerful lyrics with a poetic rhythm like John Cooper Clarke or Morrissey, and pounding drums paired perfectly with a mysterious bass like Joy Division. If you’re into a loud, mesmerizing sound backed with politically infused lyrics, then this 5 piece band are who you need to be listening to”. The writer even travelled to Manchester to see you. Not every band on the Manc scene can say they had interest from foreign journalists.

Tin Mole: Yeah we were doing alright but it is what it is. “Mesmerising sound” is a great compliment, I like that.

You were pulling no punches as a band. “Message for May” is right up there with Shame`s “Visa Vulture”, an attack on PM for her policies. Your other song “Shopkeeper” tackles grooming. I get a feeling, had the band continued, you would be going in the same direction as The Blinders, leading politically charged music onwards.

Tin Mole:  Yeah we were sort of heading that way, just writing about things we were passionate about at the time. I do still write a lot of that type of thing but they’re amongst other more personal topics, like battles with slugs.

In contrast to being in a band, Tin Mole seems to be a solo act.

Tin Mole:  It sort of is. I’ve written and produced some tunes and Nathan Connell-Howard from Ladies` Darts Night has helped out with guitar parts. I’ve got a 6 piece band together now to play the tunes live which I’m well excited about.

Your first single Slug Frontier is a strange mix of trip hop, spoken word and samples. It reminds us of Black Grapes, Sleaford Mods and Tricky. With some incredible poetic lyrics. Is there a story behind the song?

Tin Mole: Thanks. they’re good acts to be compared to, especially Tricky. As for the story behind Slug Frontier, it’s all true… Every word.

We heard you will be releasing a new track soon. What shall we expect?

Tin Mole: Similar sample based production but a bit slower, slightly less shouty and every word is a lie.

Tin Mole is on a mission to fight slugs.

You once said “I think everyone knows deep down Manchester is Britain’s true second city. Sorry Birmingham.” Do you still feel the scene up north is ahead of everyone else?

Tin Mole:  Yeah I think it is in some ways. There are great bands coming out of Manchester like Duds or Gnod and The Blinders are doing really well. But it always seems that the London bands get more publicity. That’s usually the way with everything in the London-centric Brexit apocalypse.

There is an aura of mystery around Tin Mole – no bio, scarce presence on social media , no agent, no label. It seems that you try to let the music do the talking, rather than drive attention to yourself as an artist.

Promotional image towards Tin Mole`s upcoming single.

Tin Mole:  I talk enough shit in the songs so I don’t feel the need to bombard people with more of it. I’m trying to keep it as DIY as possible and I think the music speaks for itself enough, but no doubt things will pick up on social media in the coming weeks and months.

“Slug Frontier” is easily one of the singles of the year for us. After hearing it for the first time, we immediately started to look for your gigs. And we know we are not the only one. Do you have any concerts planned, and if so – where can we see you in the future?

Tin Mole:  Nice one, I appreciate that! We have a couple of gigs in Manchester confirmed for the new year but don’t think I can say anything until the promoters announce it. But I do know that there’s an exciting new band playing at a venue called Jimmy’s on Saturday 2nd February 2019, so might be worth keeping that date free.

The last (goofy) question. Your bio mentions a strange creature that looks like a monster of the week from Doctor Who: “silvery-white metal, made of tinplate or aluminium with a long muzzle, and small eyes, feeding mainly on worms, grubs, and other invertebrates”. What is Tin Mole and is it safe to keep one as a pet?

Tin Mole:  It’s what it says on the tin really. As long as food and drinks are provided with access to a studio, then yeah of course it’s safe.

Tin Mole as an ice cream vendor.

You can follow Tin Mole on socials:

https://www.facebook.com/tinmole/
https://twitter.com/tin_mole
https://www.instagram.com/tin_mole/
https://soundcloud.com/tinmole

And you can still find information about Ladies` Darts Night online too:

https://ldartsnight.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ladiesdartsnight/
https://twitter.com/ldartsnight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3fZRpZd-o8&t=172s
https://soundcloud.com/ladiesdartsnight
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0l1QTRDsC00gFoO394cUM1?si=2TOpjOMDRy6d5B1RXG3Dfw

If you fancy some additional reading on the band, check out those links:

https://www.gigmit.com/ladies-darts-night
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/incoming/boxer-liam-taylor-mates-behind-9646663
http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/ep-ladies-darts-night-tragedies-comedies-histories/
https://heymusikblog.de/2017/07/20/behind-scenes-manchester-uk-music/

The cover to Slug Frontier – Tin Mole`s debut single

In next few weeks Tin Mole should drop a brand new track which we will surely review on this blog. We are very excited about this artist. Nothing speaks to us more than music that is fresh and unusual. Looking back is a waste of emotions – and projects such as Tin Mole offer us a glimpse of what will be hip and trendy in the future. Just what A&Rs love.

All hail the incredible creative potential of Mancunia!

M/R