Indieterria meets Methods

Dear Readers,

One of the things Vanadian Avenue has been trying to accomplish in the past year was to bring Manchester and Birmingham scenes closer together. We networked, attended gigs, introduced people to each other, nagged, bugged and dragged folks by their collars. As you do. We have just found ourselves allies in our continuous struggle to connect Kingdom of Mancunia and The Black Country.  Please meet Methods. This five piece has been born between Wolverhampton and Salford and they just released an incredibly good EP at the beginning of October.

For A&Rs there is nothing better than a new band to interview so we went and did just that. And it was such a fun.

Band`s logo

 

Ash Bradley (vox)
Ryan Deakin (guitar/keys)
Adam Hall (bass)
Peter Bates (drums)
Jon Nash (key/vox)

Official bio:

Influenced by life and their soundings along with the likes of Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The National and Interpol, METHODS formed with the mutual understanding to do things their way and write what they love.

Methods have made their mark with their own dark sounding synth indie anthems. The Midlands based 5 piece have been gaining recognition in the last few years, playing countless shows to crowds across the UK. The band have been garnering support from the likes of BBC Introducing West Midlands as well as nominations at The Birmingham Music Awards and Black Country Music Awards.

We have seen Methods live earlier this year as part of Magic Garden Studios fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness in Birmingham. Magic Garden is of course the very famous recording studios where Gavin Monaghan and Joe Murray help create the best music around. Think The Blinders, The Pagans SOH, The Novus, The Lizzards etc. Methods, who also work with Magic Garden, played a wonderful set at The Coach and Horses on May 3rd and quietly we knew we were to expect something huge from them.  Their stage presence was immaculate, the songs sounded exciting and in general we had jumped up and down on the night having the best time.

The sleeve for Anything – a new EP from Methods.

When Methods` new EP “Anything” landed in our office both Rita and I could not wait to give it a listen. As you probably can deduct from the tone of this post, we loved it to bits, but before we will offer some words on the EP itself,  its only fair to give you some back ground information about the artists. What`s the point of a review otherwise?

We have sat down with band`s guitarist Ryan Deakin for a quick chat about the band`s inspirations and song writing process. This is what he told us:

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.  

Ryan Deakin:  Hello,  we are Methods.

Where are you based and who is in the band?

Ryan Deakin:  The band is based between Wolverhampton and Salford.

Tell us something about the project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve to date?

Ryan Deakin:  We played some good support slots with some high profile bands – but – we haven’t really got any goals, just making music we want to hear and see what happens.

What inspires you? What artists or genres had the biggest influence on you?

Ryan Deakin:  The one that we all seem to love is Bowie.

It`s all about the music – and we want to hear how your songs have been written.

Ryan Deakin:  Normally we send each other voice messages of melodies and we work stuff out from that.

Name your best song. Is there a story behind it?

Ryan Deakin: We love all our children. We are proud of “Back of Your Hand”, we literally did the whole thing in about 2 hours. People take so many different meanings from it which is great, and what it’s all about. It was written when Trump was supposed to meet Kim Jong-Un….take from that what you will.

How do you create your unique sound?

Ryan Deakin:  We kind of mix 80`s synths with some 50`s surf guitars…and add a mad singer to the mix.

Are you touring? Where can we see you play live?

Ryan Deakin:  We will appear in Manchester at  The Peer Hat on 13th October.

Squad goals – where do you want to see the band in five years time?

Ryan Deakin:  We want to be playing some decent sized venues and have a couple of good albums under our belts – that will be fine.

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Ryan Deakin:  Contact us at Methodsmusik@mail.com

Imagine you can record an album with any producer, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Ryan Deakin:  Recording at Sun City with Phil Spectre (pre Homocide) would be interesting.

Methods photographed by Nidge Luhg Sanders (Trust A Fox Photography)
https://www.trustafoxphotography.com/

So, let us pen few words about Methods` new EP “Anything”. As we mentioned, it was released on October 4th 2019 to rave reviews from blogs and music magazines alike.  You will find four songs on the record (“Back Of Your Hand”, “Collector”, “No Cover” and “Human Existence”) and two short instrumentals (Intro, Interlude).

The EP starts with unsettling “Intro” –  and despite just being 40 seconds long, this track actually stands on its own and serves a very important purpose – to set the mood for the record. Call it cliché but there is something cinematic about both instrumental tracks on the EP. They are not fillers, more like road signs pointing in which direction the music will go.

“Back of Your Hand” – is powerfully anthemic composition. Close your eyes and you can easily imagine the band playing this track to a full stadium backed by live orchestra and powerful visuals. The band considers it their best song to date and it tells a story of a historical meeting between two political leaders and sworn enemies.

By contrast “Collector” starts slowly but around one minute in incredible drums come in followed by a change of tempo and more optimistic overtones. And the lyrics! Just listen. Not sure who is main writer in Methods but man, they surely can deliver. Not one dry eye in the house – you have been warned.

Methods photographed by Danny Hodge https://www.dannyhodge.photography/

Interlude divides “Collector” from “No Cover” where dystopian theme clashes with uplifting music. Again it sounds nearly as anthemic as “Back of Your Hand” and we could only wish to hear it with accompaniment of a live orchestra.

“Human Existence” closes the record. Like “Collector”, it is slower and contemplative track. Yet the back ground melody line keeps hope despite rather bleak lyrics.

We love how the EP is divided into two equal parts. One faster/anthemic song and one slower/contemplative one. And a short instrumental track to divide them. Like two sides of a perfectly balanced vinyl record. Actually we want that EP on a vinyl.

 

Methods photographed by Rob Hadley
https://www.facebook.com/photosbyindieimages/

You can follow the band on the socials:

http://www.methodsmusic.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/methods2
https://www.instagram.com/methodsofficial
https://twitter.com/methodsmusik
http://www.soundcloud.com/methods_official
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGoNTNzTQv30UVpbeDbxJ2A
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5RG6MWN2BuVHelIs2HRZbo?si=TLYTQKUJT4aq2foeId4BjA

We hope you enjoyed this interview and if you have a chance to see Methods live, go and grab yourself a ticket. Actually two tickets – so you can bring a friend. You both will have an excellent time.

We will be back soon with more music and more kick ass interviews.

Love,

Mal+ Rita

Indieterria meets The Cosmics

Dear Readers,

The Cosmics has been shaping West Midlands music scene for three years now. They announced their arrival on the local scene with a punkadelic anthem “Johnny” and do not show any signs of slowing down. It does not happen often that so early in their career a band will achieve best of both worlds – cult status in their home town and respect of their musical peers.Ask anyone in West Midlands and they will tell you – The Cosmics are unlike any other band. Not only in sound but how quickly they progress from one stage to another, like they have found a secret formula to make it in the music business. We can only think of one other act in the last four years with such distinctiveness, influence and uniqueness – The Blinders.

This blog will be longer than others – that is because we wanted to do a proper introduction to the band. We interviewed them, we went to see them on their first European tour and gathered some press coverage of their debut EP.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the indie circuit – please meet a trio that will define the future of music in the UK – The Cosmics.

**** The interview ****

Before the band travelled abroad to play shows in The Netherlands, Belgium and France, we have sat down with bassist and vocalist Erin Grace to talk about the band`s Glastonbury appearance, their EP and working on exclusive pressings of their singles via Flying Vinyl. This is what Erin told us:

The Cosmics photographed by Psychedelic Eye
https://www.facebook.com/psychedelic.eye.photography

Many bands claim that they are as close as relatives. You don’t have to – you are one very talented family.  Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Erin Grace:  Thank you! We are Erin Grace (bass/vocals), Connor Boyle (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums).

The Cosmics formed in 2015 and within one year gathered incredible support. In 2017 BBC Introducing invited you to play their stage at the biggest festival of all – Glastonbury. Tell us how do you remember that show?

Erin Grace:  Glastonbury was an unforgettable dream come true, it felt very surreal, being on stage, there was huge  feelings of excitement, it’s something we always dreamt of but never thought would happen when we first started the band.

Since Glasto you have been going from strength to strength – the list of your achievements is longer than  life span of many indie acts: rave reviews from Steve Lamacq and Hugh Stephens, radio play on BBC 1, BBC 6, Amazing Radio, Radio X, coverage from BBC Introducing West Midlands. You played Isle of Wight and Reading Festival.  Your ascent to veterans of indie circuit was swift. Do you feel overwhelmed by your own success?

Erin Grace:  We don’t feel overwhelmed by anything, we just appreciate every opportunity we’ve had and we’re grateful for this journey as a band.

You shared stages with Starcrawler, Surfbort, The Murder Capital, Goat Girl and Birmingham finest -Table Scraps. Its equivalent of playing in Premier League of Indie Circuit. Do you book your own shows or do you prefer to use agents or external promoters?

Erin Grace: It depends what kind of show we’re going for, we love DIY shows and we also use promoters that suit us. Sometimes we book our own shows, though if we’re supporting a band or playing outside of Birmingham, we use promoters.

We have to ask you about your unique stage dress code: vintage dresses or costumes inspired by 60s and 70s have become your trademark. You have also been included in Fred Perry Subculture series.  How important is stage attire to you and was this aspect of your shows something that you wanted to explore?

Erin Grace:  Outfits are relatively important, they can express a mood or an era, we all love vintage fashion too so it just feels natural to wear what we love.

Your debut single “Johnny” came out in 2017 on Flying Vinyl – a company specializing in limited releases on vinyl. You returned to working with them last year when you took part in Flying Vinyl`s first compilation “Paranoid Futures”.  We would love to hear how your collaboration began?

Erin Grace:  Flying Vinyl approached us a few years ago when “Johnny” first came put and ever since, we love what they do!

The Cosmics ready for action – photography by Jessica H_Ingram
https://www.facebook.com/jessicahingramphotography

You just released your debut EP. It was recorded by Rory Attwell (Palma Violets, The Vaccines) and produced by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin (Sundara Karma, The Orb, Blur, Oasis). You got to work with some established names. Where was it recorded and how long it took for the EP to be finished?

Erin Grace:  The EP was released on 13th June and we recorded it all in London, we went to record on few separate occasions over the course of a year so each song was written at a different time.

You also launched the EP in London. How did that go?

Erin Grace:  The EP launch went better than we expected, it was great having our friends on the line up. The show was a lot of fun and The Old Blue Last is a great venue.

The record is promoted by single “Eyes” and a very curious video. Cyclops on skateboards. Please tell us where did you film the video. Some part of it look like Digbeth. Who directed it?

Erin Grace:  We filmed everything for the “Eyes” music video in Birmingham, some bits in the city centre and others in suburban areas. Our drummer Danny directed it and filmed the video.

Before “Eyes”, you released “Trust Is Blind”.  We really want to know the story behind this song. In the video you look like a character from Lynch movie – you smile to the camera and yet the viewer has a feeling that any given moment you will break into tears. Then in a blink, you charge on stage where you tear down the decorations in a  fury that would suit Courtney Love at the heights of her Hole days. Like to keep your viewers on their toes?

Erin Grace:  “Trust is Blind” surrounds themes of betrayal and dishonesty, it’s about trust being broken. Yeah, we wanted to add twist into this track, we enjoy experimenting with noise.

We are hearing that the EP has been selling well and you got played on legendary American radio KEXP. So where do The Cosmic go from here? Any plans for the future?

Erin Grace:  We plan to keep gigging in cities and countries we’ve never played before and we’ll continue to make new music!

You can follow the band on their socials:

https://www.facebook.com/thecosmicsband
https://twitter.com/thecosmicsband
https://www.instagram.com/thecosmicsuk/
https://thecosmicsuk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx3KjGaX2RJvXI5e7nljvGA
https://soundcloud.com/user-838453312
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0aocL5HcJzJlZJtAZH6caL?si=OYgzbMbGTZ-TwFXsFRmQ7Q

 

 **** The EP ****

The Cosmics presenting cover and the vinyl of their debut EP

The self titled debut EP has gathered rave reviews across the industry. These are just some of the reactions that we have gathered for the purpose of this blog. There are many more out there ranging from big established brands (The Clash Magazine) to local newspapers and blogs (Birmingham Review, Independent Music News), radio stations (Brum Radio, BBC West Midlands, BBC Introducing). The EP received airplay from Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music), Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), X Radio, Amazing Radio, KEXP in US among others. No management, no booker, no label or radio plugger. Just the strength of their music.

Front cover of the EP and A side of the vinyl pressing.

The Clash Magazine:
“New cut “Eyes” is a short, sharp shock, driven by that urgent vocal and those taut guitar lines. The sound of The Cosmics thrashing away in the unholy night, it carries some uncanny reverberations. Tune in now.”
https://www.clashmusic.com/news/the-cosmics-rev-it-up-on-eyes

Circuit Sweet:
“Lead single “Eyes”, taken from the self-titled record,  perfectly encapsulates the kind of 60’s beat that The Cosmics perform with such perfect refrain before collapsing almost entirely into a much more modern take on the garage-fuzz sound. Addictively catchy, the band walk the line between surf and noise effortlessly while showcasing a raw talent for song writing”.
https://circuitsweet.co.uk/2019/04/brand-new-garage-fuzz-from-birminghams-the-cosmics-debut-ep-announced-for-june/

The vinyl pressing of the EP

The 405:
“On this release they’ve perfectly captures the debauchery of their live performances”
https://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/the-cosmics-capture-the-youthful-grit-and-glamour-of-their-sound-in-the-video-for-eyes-405-premiere-155

Backseat Mafia:
“The thing about The Cosmics is they’ve mastered sounding like they’re from the 60s girl band sound, strained through a messy, edgy garage punk filter. That’s because they have the melodies at heart that could have made it onto a classic soul all-nighter, but instead of organ and bass, they’ve got this frayed guitar sound that leaks feedback and lashes itself to the track. Brilliant stuff.”
http://www.backseatmafia.com/track-the-cosmics-drained/

Travellers Tunes:
“The immediacy of the record is undeniable. Singer Erin Grace co-opts a Shangri-La’s vocal for the verse before effortlessly sliding into a furious punk rock delivery in the chorus.”
https://travellerstunes.com/review/thecosmics-drained

Back cover of the EP and B side of the vinyl pressing.

**** The Tour ****

Before going abroad, The Cosmics played dates in Birmingham, London, Glasgow and Manchester.  As we had to go to continental Europe for a bit ourselves, we have decided to catch up with the band on the road and bring you an exclusive coverage of their gigs though videos and photos. This is what we have found and you can judge for yourselves that The Cosmics had a lot of fun! Tours can be great!

Tour poster

On 20th of June, The Cosmics travelled to Ghent in Belgium to participate in Girls Go Boom, a one day festival organised at a popular Muziekcentrum KinkyStar. Located in the historical (and tourist) city centre of Ghent, the venue has a capacity of 80 people and is known for supporting independent and emerging acts, not only local to Belgium but also from all over the world. In the last two years, nearly 100 bands from Europe, Canada, USA and Australia played at the Kinky Star and majority of their shows are sold out. Manchester darlings, WITCH FEVER (whom we have seen recently at the Albert Square during Manchester International Festival alongside The Pagans SOH and The Blinders) performed for Girls Go Boom in October 2018 and completely blew the audience away. We had a pleasure to speak to one of the organisers of the festival and we were told that the team are big fans of indie/post punk music from the UK. The Cosmics were chosen as their songs caught the team’s eye (and the ear as well) while browsing the newest releases on BandCamp. It is worth adding that Girls Go Boom book only female fronted and fully female bands (including LGBTQ+ artists who identify as females). They are the only promoter in Belgium who does it and their shows comes with a set of quite obvious rules. They include no homophobia, no racism and no sexism, girls in the front, safe space for sexual and racial minorities and no patriarchal bullshit. Everyone is cordially invited  – men, women, non binary or gender fluid persons. Their motto is “It doesn’t matter who you are, you will always be among friends”. We can only applaud their initiative as it was one of the nicest, safest shows we have seen in a long time. The venue was packed to the last place, everybody danced (and pogo’ed), drank beer, sang and had a lovely time. And there was no pushing, no shouting, no aggression, the photographers could work uninterrupted without fear of having their equipment destroyed. Every gig goer received a complimentary badge at the door and the entry was free. We need something similar in the UK as some of the gigs we go to are a parade for bullies and football hooligans. Organisations such as Safe Gigs For Women are doing a splendid job but there is a long road ahead of us.

The Cosmics performed alongside Piss KittiVaginas, what else?, Dragon’s Daughters, DJ’s MOSHI MOSHI and Melissa Juice. Their show started exactly at 22:00 CET (21:00 UK time) and lasted about 40 minutes. The band played their recent singles “Trust Is Blind” and “Eyes” along with fan favourites: “Cundy Come Down” and “Brainfuzz” taken off their self titled debut EP. “Velma”, “Johnny”, “I Quit” and “Inishfree” filled the rest of the set.

It was wild and energetic ride, filled with solid dose of sound distortion and vibrations. Lead singer, Erin Grace, is known for her expressive performance and we could see her falling to her knees, bashing the strings of her bass like her life depended on it and move as in a trance. Twin brothers, Conor (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums) were closely following Erin’s trail with thunderous beat and aggressive riffs. And the crowd loved every minute of the spectacle, responding with admiration to each song. At the end, the Birmingham based trio received a standing ovation and many cheers for the show. Judging by the reactions, The Cosmics have bright future in front of them. If you haven’t seen them yet, please do as they are on rise and soon they will be playing big stages instead of intimate venues.

 

You can learn more about Kinky Star at: http://www.kinkystar.com/media.php
and Girls Go Boom Festival at: https://www.girlsgoboom.com/0

The performance was live streamed on Kinky’s Star website and you can watch it at: https://www.facebook.com/MuziekcentrumKinkyStar/videos/487192875376482/

Two days later, on 21st of July, we met with the band again, this time in Antwerp. They were about to play another EU show at an independent venue called Cafe Cabron. Sadly, we couldn’t stay for the gig itself, but we have taken them for a small photo shoot around the beautiful The Grote Markt of Antwerp. It is so easy to fall in love with The Cosmics. They come as a full package – not only their music is a killer, but they have the looks, the talent and confidence that will take them far.

The show has been organised by Zing Zang Zong and was to start at 9:00 pm.
The Cosmics were to be supported by Belgian duo, De Batteries.
Form what we have heard – it was another success for the band, but that is a standard outcome for the Birmingham trio.

More information about the gig:
https://www.facebook.com/events/858188711217531/
https://www.facebook.com/zzzgarageclub/
https://www.facebook.com/CafeeCabron/

We are hoping to catch the band at another show this tour so watch out this space for additional content and more compliments regarding the band. If you still haven`t noticed West Midlands has the best scene and we are so happy to be part of it.

See ya down the front? You bet!

M/R

Indieterria Review – “My Walk” by Pietro Blanca

Dear Readers,

Indieterria continues to showcase artists around Manchester who answered our call to submit their songs. The beauty of project “Hello Manchester” was to allow musicians to speak about their art on their own terms and bring to the light new and upcoming music from the city. It doesn’t matter if the artists were accomplished bands or people who create at their leisure. All music is equal and worth being shared. So far he had the incredible band Hot Minute and electronic indie duo Edits featured as part of our series.

Guitar man – Pietro Blanca is ready to take on the Manchester scene.

Today we meet Pietro Blanca – solo artist and a lead singer of alt rock band Clifftop Empire. And we are so happy to discover Pietro.  Let us tell you why. In March this blog had a pleasure to interview one of the most international acts ever Shiva May Care – where every member comes from different country, speaks different language but all together they create kick ass rock music. Shiva is based in Manchester and was founded by Italian multi instrumentalist and producer Federico Cossu. We are over the moon to discover that Federico is not the only hugely talented Italian artist who chose Manchester to be his home. Pietro Blanca also resides in Mancunia.

If you ever had a chance to listen to Italian guitar masters (Beppe Gambetta or Pino Daniele to just name a few) then you know that the secret of their hugely popular pop and rock music lies in combining classical guitar techniques with ear catching melodies. Continental guitarists don’t just pick up an instrument to play indie – they find their inspiration in folk, medieval, jazz and even flamenco music. Most of them are classically trained. And then bring all those elements into rock music. There is a reason why Sanremo Music Festival both inspired Eurovision and Montreux  Jazz Festival and is responsible for launching careers of Laura Pausini or Eros Ramazotti among countless stars.

The versatility, range of influences from psychedelia to The Beatles and Mark Knopfler (in his Golden Heart era) is evident in Pietro Blanca`s “My Walk” single – dreamy and yet sorrowful song that was just made to be played on the radio on a lazy summer days.  It may surprise you that it lasts just two minutes but such miniature compositions are nothing new in pop music. Just remember “Velocity Girl” by Primal Scream stands at 1:22 minutes.

We had asked Pietro few questions about his music and this is what he had to say:

Pietro during a solo show in Manchester famous Norther Quarter

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Where are you based and who is in the band?

Pietro Blanca: Hello, my name is Pietro. I am folk/pop singer and songwriter based in Manchester.

Tell us something about your project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve?

Pietro Blanca:  I started my current project in 2010, when I’ve decided to create some music on my own. I was 14 years old when I discovered the guitar for the first time. Through the years, I got into different genres: from mixture of folk and pop like Kings of Convenience, The Cranberries and José Gonzàlez, to heavy metal, like Metallica, System of a Down and Meshuggah. After playing metal with my first band for 5 years, my mind went into a totally different direction! (laughs). My first demo came out in 2010 (“Andare Lontano/Nessuna Esistenza”) and the first EP was released in 2016 (“Mirrors Beyond The Sea”).

What inspires you? What artist or genre had the biggest influence on you?

Pietro Blanca:  I`m inspired by many artists but most likely by Kings of Convenience, José Gonzàlez, The Cranberries and Imogen Heap.

It`s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written.

Pietro Blanca: The single is called  “My Walk”. The song has been written right when I was thinking to leave my country to go abroad. Moving away meant a huge change in my life but also a new adventure to embrace.

 

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Pietro Blanca: At the moment I’m not touring as a solo artist but I am always checking out open mic nights in Manchester and wherever else is possible. I’ve been focusing on another project called Clifftop Empire in my spare time.

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Pietro Blanca performing with Clifftop Empire in Sheffield

Pietro Blanca:  The best way to reach me is through my Facebook page – Pietro Blanca Music.

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Pietro Blanca:  I’d love recording some music with Devin Townsend, he is a great artist in whatever genre he plays.

You can follow Pietro on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/pietroblancamusic/
https://twitter.com/PietroBlanca
https://www.instagram.com/pietro_blanca/
https://soundcloud.com/pietro-blanca
https://www.youtube.com/user/pietroblanca
https://open.spotify.com/artist/68TkewCVzLMXtMCpoMtpUn?si=gsTYG0RwSdyANZRKW3ForA

 

You can listen to Pietro`s demos Andare Lontano/Nessuna Esistenza (“Going Away/No Existence”) at this address:

https://www.jamendo.com/album/62053/andare-lontano-nessuna-esistenza

If you would like to check Pietro`s other musical project – alt rock trio Clifftop Empire, you can do so via following links:

https://www.facebook.com/ClifftopEmpire/
https://soundcloud.com/user-434835923

Thank you kindly for reading and there is lots more in Hello Manchester to discover. We will be seeing you soon.

R/M

Indieterria meets Membranes

Hello!

Forget the saying “never meet your heroes”. Sometimes you just have to meet them! When we heard that John Robb is working on a new material, we immediately knew we wanted to speak to him about it. John is not only a musician, magazine editor (he runs the wildly popular Louder than War magazine) and journalist. He is also a poet, a modern philosopher and an artist. His works have been shaping musical landscape since 1977 and Membranes are considered as one of the most influential punk/alternative rock outfits in the history of British music.

We sat down with John a couple of days before his (sort of) homecoming gig at the Manchester Ritz to discuss the new album, forces of nature, our place in the natural order of the universe and performing with a choir! It was a huge pleasure and priviladge to interview our childhood hero, so if you have one, don’t wait and apporach them. Disappointments happen, but so does the magic. And for us it was a magical experience.

Membranes photographed by jay3008

Membranes
John Robb (vocals, bass)
Nick Brown (guitar)
Peter Byrchmore (guitar)
Rob Haynes (drums)

Official bio: This one comes with their own Wikipedia entry!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Membranes

“What Natures Gives… Nature Takes Away” is your first studio album since 2015 and a follow up to the acclaimed “Dark Matter/Dark Energy”. Four years is a long time. Can you tell us how this album shaped from its conception to the final mixes?

John Robb: We got busy. We didn’t expect the last album to go as well as it did and we were sidetracked by touring and life. All the time though the idea of the next album was germinating (ha!) like a seed. There is no rush for a band like ours, we are not a teenage hit machine. This stuff is art and art takes time. Just create when you are ready. Don’t wait for permission on how and when you create. When it was ready, it was ready. There were always ideas and when they had a grand scheme to fit into to with the nature thing then it all fell intom place. Making a record as epic and ambitious as this is, of course, a gamble. The underground scene has lots of rules and you are expected to conform by them! In many ways underground music is even more tightly regulated by what you are perceived to be allowed to do than the so called mainstream. Alternative music is often not that alternative, is it?

The album’s title, quickly brings connotation to the famous Bible verse “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Was it something you wanted the listeners to notice and think about? Are we, as human beings, at the mercy of the forces of nature?

The front cover of “What Nature Gives”

John Robb: Yes, the album is about the beauty and violence of nature. It’s also about how we are the nature and as you say we are at the mercy of the forces of nature. We are at the mercy of its ebbs and flows. We do our best to try and break away but we are just chimps in suits. We like the idea of biblical preachers against a stormy sky shouting at nature. Like the good book can even have any control on the mighty forces already unleashed way before a god was even invented. As human beings, we are merely navigating this swirl of wildness and hoping for the best.

The “natural theme” is omnipresent on the record. Looking at the song titles, one cannot miss multiple references to animals (“Murder of Crows”, The City Is An Animal”), plants (“Demon Seed/Demon Flower”) or forests (“Deep In The Forest Where The Memories Linger”). Are we looking at concept album, or “dark rock opera” as one of the reviewers called it?

John Robb: “Dark rock opera” is a pretty cool term! There is a concept running through the album but it’s not as literal as it sounds. The songs take the themes of nature but each song is its own entity but the tracks run in an order. For me, it’s very much an album with each piece in place and not loads of tracks chucked together. Like a book with chapters! “A Strange Perfume” is about the power of pheromones and the powerful primal instinctive urge of the perfumes of our own scent whilst “A Murder Of Crows” is about the dark power of crows – their mystical power, their smartness and their cunning cruelty. The song also looks back on the roots of the word “murder” back to the plains of India where it is an actual Hindu word. “Demon Seed/Demon Flower” is a dark dub built around the themes brought up by Baudelaire – it’s a Baudelaire dub! It’s about how sex runs right through nature and we celebrate the voluptuous flowers trying to attract each other’s attention in the battlefield of life. “Deep In The Forest” is a celebration of the tomblike silence at the centre of the darkest first, a place where you can hear nature sigh in its eternal woody silence. It’s also part of a theme for the perfume we are working on with Lush which will be called “A Strange Perfume”! It smells of the erotic dampness, leaf mould and autumnal richness of the forest – a place where your memories linger for eternity.

Back cover of the new album

Two songs, however differ from the rest, thematically and musically. “Pandora’s Box” and “Mother Ocean/Father Time” seems to be inspired by classical Greek mythology.  Can you tell us more about them?

John Robb: “Pandora’s Box” is the apocalyptic end piece of the album. It is about the power of love and lust and the curveballs that nature throws at us in life and that moment in time when you have to jump in and open the box.

“Mother Ocean/Father Time” is about the ocean and it’s also about my grandfather, a French Canadian who used to work on the cable ships as they crossed the Atlantic in the early 20th century. They used to call it the most dangerous job in the world. Eventually he stopped over in London for a couple of days and had the briefest of dalliances with my grandmother and was never seen again. I liked that mystery to their brief affair, that intensity of the moment against the backdrop of the mighty ocean. The music was written to reflect that with the riff being the churning of the waves and the salt stained seas, another celebration of the sheer power of nature. I used to live by the sea and loved that line between suburbia and the wild ocean. On one side the thin veneer of civilisation and on the other the wild and mysterious depths.

The record, which is set to be released on June 7th, is a double album full of intriguing guests: Chris Packham, Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny) and even a 20 – person choir. You have previously worked with Estonian female choir Sireen for festival slots and BIMM choir for a tour in the UK. Which choir have you employed on this occasion?

John Robb: I like working with guests. I think rock bands don’t have to be so rigid. We have done so many collaborations over the years. We played in Mexico last night and did a live collaboration with a local band who are called Descartes A Kant (who are really worth checking out). We had one rehearsal and a get on stage kind of affair and that is the kind of risk taking that always creates great art. The choir we used on this album is recruited from BIMM – we can’t afford to fly an Estonian choir around. It’s the price you pay for having ideas bigger than your budget. I put the call out on Facebook for a choir and Claire Pilling, who teaches singing at BIMM college came back to us and recruited the choir. It was great working with the Sireen choir who I saw play a festival in Estonia 5 years ago and asked if they wanted to do a gig with us straight after. They said yes and we played two amazing and brilliantly received gigs in Estonia with them which is where this album really started.

We want to ask you about another person who is featured on the album – dame Shirley Collins, the force behind English Folk Revival of 1960s and 1970s. What an incredible woman. She is 83 years old this year and just released her new album herself. Was it hard to convince dame Collins to appear on the record? It does look a bit like Metallica/Marianne Faithfull collaboration!

John Robb: Shirley is amazing. I met her through filming stuff for Lush, the cosmetics chain, who have created a media channel which I film content for. She was in Lush one night at the launch of a film about her and it was great to meet her. She is a wonderful woman. I asked her if she wanted to do a piece for the album and an hour later she was reading this great piece about the South Downs and the power of music and how it comes out of the very soil of the surrounding hills. Her description of the flowers and birds in the Sussex hills is so evocative and perfect and one of the highpoint of the album for me.

“What Nature Gives” comes with an incredible sleeve artwork that is actually a Gothic Victoriana painting by artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep, a relative to Julia Margaret Cameron, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. The title of the painting does sound like something Nicky Wire would come up with: “At The First Touch Of Winter Summer Fades Away”. How did you come across this piece?

John Robb: I did a Google search! I was putting key words from the album and then searching through images and hoping something powerful and evocative would come up. What I needed was a piece of artwork that would reflect the themes of the album: the transient nature of nature, life and death and the passing of the seasons and the second that image appeared I know it was perfect. I like it because it is the seasons and death and also because its quite erotic and tragic and full of flowers and lingering and tragedy – just like the album!

The release is being promoted by leading single “A Strange Perfume”, where the band members are shown singing among the ballet dancers clad in black. The video is surprisingly dark and has some sort of nervousness to it. It was directed by Anya Cinnamon Machin – visual artist and cinematographer based in Manchester. Please tell us more about the story behind the video.

John Robb: The song itself was about the erotic power of scent. A celebration of the sensuality of all five senses like in the Kama Sutra where all the subtlties of attraction are celebrated. The idea was to have a ballet dancer as we hate mimed band videos and prefer something a bit off kilter. I think the world is a bit too full of blokes pretending to play guitars in videos and we didn’t want to throw another one out there. Anya is a brilliant young film maker from Manchester and it was a pleasure working with her. We are collaborating on a new video with her now – an animation. We wanted “A Strange Perfume” to be dark and shadowy and also to take an influence from the film Black Swan. That edgy tightrope walking film about the nature of intensity and madness – all themes that we are fascinated by.

Not sure if somebody else observed it before us but there is a strong representation of females on that release: from the Persephone/Demeter figures on the cover, to guests such as dame Shirley Collins, to video director, choir members and ballet dancers in the videos. Its very uplifting in the male dominated industry.

John Robb: Yes! Great that you noticed. We wanted to make a record that broke down the traditional “4 blokes against the world” nature of rock music. There are many bands that are great at that and some of them are my favourites but there’s no point in us joining that eternal queue. We were bored of that macho conservative world and thought of ways to break it up. Using the choir was one. The human voice in harmony is one of the greatest sounds imaginable and to hear that harmony in a modern world that is full of shouting and not very much listening, is quite something. Having that many women around, changes the dynamic of things and the sound and texture of the music. It was great to have guests like 84 year old folk singer Shirley Collins on the album, firstly, because we love her music and, secondly, because we want to celebrate age and wisdom and the beauty of older people. Jordan is on there because she is one of my best mates and an iconic presence who defined punk with an artful brilliance that made her so key. She had inspired us when we were growing up.

Right after the release of the record, you embark on a tour that will take you all over the UK (Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool among other dates), Europe and even to Mexico. What can we expect from you on stage?

John Robb: The music is still physical and will be played in a physical way. There are many epic moments but you can still dance to it. We will bring the choir to as many gigs as we possibly can and try and make something spectacular if we can.

In an recent interview with GigSluts you jokingly said that Membranes can only operate on a grand scale. Here’s our last question: imagine you have no restriction of any kind (financial, timely or artistic) when it comes to the production of your upcoming gigs. What do you go for? Las Vegas residency, grand opening at the Carnegie Hall or Michael Jackson-like world tour?

John Robb: I would love to play epic events like the Carnegie Hall! We did check how much it would cost to hire once and it was a lot! (laughing) We’d love to play at the Griffiths Observatory in LA, The Royal Albert Hall in London or the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. All brilliant locations with the choir and a sense of the spectacular. I love off-the-wall locations. We played the top of Blackpool Tower a couple years ago and we love cinemas where we can use the screen to play a film! I would also love to play caves or in the middle of a forest. Or have this 3D immersive light show that I have been working on. Just need the money to make it all work. Of course, it’s all very ambitious but ambition is the driver in breaking barriers in art, isn’t it?

Listen to Membranes on their official Spotify chanel:


And follow them on their socials:

http://www.themembranes.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/membranes1
https://www.facebook.com/themembranes
https://www.instagram.com/themembranes/

Membranes new album is available at:
https://louderthanwar.com/shop/the-membranes/the-membranes/

Membranes will play Ritz in Manchester on Saturday the 8th of June with supports from Glove, The Pack (Theatre Of Hate), Liines, Queen Zee and HENGE.
More information about the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/226440181569176/
Last remaining tickets  can be purchased from: https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-membranes-henge/o2-ritz/1308269

We will be in the front row, so expect a detailed review from the frontlines!
Till then,

Malcia and Rita

Indieterria review – Burn by Edits

Dear Readers,

Liv and Chris aka Edits (self portrait)

After reviewing excellent single from Manchester trio Hot Minute, we are back with more new music to discover. We are so happy we decided to do an open call for bands in Merseyside area to send us their songs and describe them on their own terms. This month we are publishing those mini interviews and learning how diverse and absolutely amazing scene up north is!

Edits were the second band to get in touch with their music. They are childhood friends who combine studying with recording and writing their own material. Described as atmospheric electro pop, Liv and Chris cite MUSE, Royal Blood, The 1975 and even Nine Inch Nails as their influences.  Their debut single “Don’t Speak” came out in 2017 and was followed by self produced/self released EP “Re – Surface” a year later.  The band rounded up 2018 by releasing another single “Cold”.

On their new single “Burn”, there is more than just electro -pop to Edits. Firstly, what catches your attention is the vocal range of Liv Westhead who is first dramatic mezzo-soprano on indie circuit we came across. Think Amy Lee of Evanescence meeting Lisa Gerrard. Liv could hold her own in any genre really, from folk to Viking metal and even opera without missing a note. But then her type of voice is not called dramatic mezzo soprano for nothing.  Chris Abbot comes in with guitars to create melodic lines that range between indie outfit to industrial noise.

Edits place themselves comfortably among new coming  electronic indie bands such as White Room, The Ninth Wave, Drusilla or La Mode. Burn – came out on June 14th is opposite  o previous single “Cold”. We think it would be a good idea to have both songs pressed as a Double A single on a 7 inch in the future. Just imagine crystal clear vinyl with “hot” and “cold” side – who would not want that in their record collection? But its time to let Edits speak for themselves:

Burn – single cover

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.  Where are you based and who is in the band?

Liv Westhead:  We’re Edits: Liv (vox /synths) and Chris Abbot (guitar) and we’re based just outside of Manchester in Northwich, Cheshire.

Tell us something about the project – are there any goals that you managed to achieve?

Liv Westhead: We’ve known each other since we were 15 but we really got serious about Edits whilst we were at The University of Salford studying Popular Music & Recording, which is why Manchester feels like home to us. Highlights for us have been playing at Warrington Music Festival and Chester Live and just some of the great reactions we’ve had to our music from blogs which makes you feel super proud.

What inspires you? What artists or genres had the biggest influence on you?

Liv Westhead:  Growing up I was obsessed with the band Muse so I think they have a much bigger influence on the band than some people think. I’ve also always sung in choirs so a more classical/choral sound has always influenced my vocals. Nowadays, I love bands such as Mew, Biffy Clyro, Interpol, The Twilight Sad, Chvrches, Daughter, Radiohead, Everything Everything and Nine Inch Nails. We both love guitar driven music but often with some electronic elements.

It`s all about the music – and we want to hear about your new single. Is there a story behind the song, where and how was it written.

Liv Westhead:  Our latest single Burn was written very quickly actually, which I think is how the best songs come about. Chris had this idea down in Cubase and then I just started singing the melody over the top. Every song for us is different, sometimes I write at the piano and have chords and melody for a whole song, sometimes Chris writes an instrumental and then the vocals are added afterwards.

I wanted Burn to be the opposite of Cold which was our last single back in November. Cold was all about the inability to feel and bottling up all your feelings. Burn is about finding that raw spark inside of you and the feeling of invincibility I get whenever we play live. It’s probably our heaviest and angriest song so far.

Are you touring? Where can we see you playing live?

Liv Westhead: We have a couple of gigs coming up, firstly at LiveBars in Warrington on the 20th of June and then at The Salty Dog in Northwich on the 4th of August. We’re currently looking for a Manchester date so fingers crossed!

If any bookers or promoters want to get in touch – what is the best way to contact you?

Liv Westhead:  You can contact us at: contact@editsband.com

Imagine you can record an album with any artist, dead or alive in a studio of your choice. Who would be on your record?

Liv Westhead:  I would have to say the band Mew. They do some gorgeous harmonies and vocal layering and I would love to sing with them. Also, my favourite producer is Rich Costey who’s produced some of my favourite records ever (including Mew’s Frengers) so it would have to be with him! It terms of studios I don’t really know but I’d love an excuse to go to New York!

Edits are just warming up. Can you take the heat?

Listen to “Burn” here:

http://hyperurl.co/burn-edits

You can follow the band on social media:

http://www.editsband.com
https://twitter.com/editsband
http://edits.bandcamp.com
https://soundcloud.com/editsband
https://www.youtube.com/user/editsband
https://instagram.com/editsband
https://open.spotify.com/artist/6fwe92CcXSydfsBqpZRAfD?si=Fzlpd1m7QgWpuc6oiAfDHw

 

We are going to keep an eye on the band and so should you! This project – despite being still very young – has already shown a lot of potential. A seal of approval from us as A&Rs.

Much love for the band for sending their music in!

Mal+Rita

Indieterria review – Slease by False Heads

Dear Readers,

False Heads can easily be called a band that we love here at Indieterria. They have been on our  radar for over three years. We had a chance to interview them in August 2018 and a month later also reviewed their EP, proclaiming “Less is Better”  as one of our records of the year. We seen them live in Bristol at the minuscule The Mother`s Ruin basement and it was a glorious and sweaty affair. We met them at BBC Live conference in London. False Heads represent pure talent, determination and strong fellowship – all the qualities that make great bands. And now they return with a new single!

Slease cover by Will Hutchinson
https://www.facebook.com/will.hutchinson.921

“We go into the studio next week. Wanna hear what scribbling in a shipping container sounds like?” – wrote the band on their socials on March 1st and they meant it. Slease – their first single post “Less is Better” EP has been written in their rehearsal space somewhere in London  – a large, metallic shipping container. A place that may as well be an epicentre of world domination in the near future.

Slease premiered on 22 March 2019, dropping like a bomb from the sky. Three minutes and fourteen seconds of noise, dirt and impressive bass lines. But surprisingly, there is also a catchy chorus and melody that gets stuck in your head. The vocalist, Luke Griffiths screams out his lyrics with such a passion that you get the feeling you are on a political march (and we had quite a few big marches recently).

“The song was written last year” – explains Luke – “It`s about bad mental states. Addiction. But also how similar the left and right are in terms of tactics they use leaving people  politically isolated”.

The band posing outside their rehearsal space
Photo by Neil McCarty
https://www.facebook.com/neilmccartyphotography

Dark and gritty – False Heads are ready to take over
Photo by Neil McCarty
https://www.facebook.com/neilmccartyphotography

False Heads are a trio with Luke Griffiths on guitar and vocals, Jake Elliot on bass and Barney Nash on drums – but the songs they craft are so powerful  that you`d expect them to be at least  a  five piece. Slease is a good example – there is a wall of sound in this song, changing tempos, roaring bass and drums that will make you deaf if you find yourself  standing next to an amp at the gig.

The single is accompanied by a video directed by Brigitta Szaszfai (who also directed video to “Yellow” for the band last year) showing False Heads violently shaking and being blinded by bright lights in a darkened room.

As expected, Slease made a powerful impact within one week of its release.  John Kennedy  – influential DJ and champion of new music as Radio X described the song as fantastic. It has been added to “All New Rock” playlist on Spotify and “Best New Bands” playlist on Amazon.
The song premiered on Rodney on the Rock on Sirius XM in the US and became “next wave” track at BBC Radio 1 in the UK. It amassed nearly 5K streams in few days days on Spotify.

False Heads played two gigs in London and Manchester to promote the single. Their home town show took place at The Monarch on 21 March with The Estevans and Getrz supporting. On March 20, the band played Manchester`s The Soup Kitchen also with The Estevans. We don’t have to tell you that both shows sold spectacularly well.

Tour poster

False Heads by Nathan Whittaker/ MRC Live
https://www.facebook.com/Nathan.W6

False Heads live in London
Photo by Alan Wells
https://www.facebook.com/thealanwells/

There is something about False Heads that remind us of another band we used to follow in the early 90s. We would carefully gather every bit of information about them and the excitement was felt every time the name was mentioned. The band was called On A Friday at that  time and they went on to do a few interesting things since we first heard about them (like releasing The Bends or Kid A for example). Call it cliché – but we feel the same about False Heads nowadays. Keep them on your radars because they are not just an indie band we like. They are a band that will inspire your children to pick up instruments.  Wait and see.

Slease has gathered some rare reviews from blogs and magazines alike – and we would love to quote here some of them as we enjoy this sort of thing in our reviews:

“Outspoken, heavy post punk trio False Heads have just dropped their first track of 2019 and we are loving it” –  Vulture Hound
https://vulturehound.co.uk/2019/03/track-of-the-day-22-12-19-false-heads-slease/

“Keeping things gritty and fierce with new single “Slease” power trio False Heads have unleashed another monster punk-rock anthem” – Gig Slutz
http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/this-feeling-track-of-the-day-false-heads-slease/

“OOOOOH, we’ve got something awesome for you today! Yes indeed…here’s an incredible grungey alternative rock banger from False Heads. It’s called ‘Slease’ and it’s a bloomin’ masterpiece”  – SoundSphere Magazine
http://www.soundspheremag.com/videos/videos-of-the-week/watch-false-heads-slease/

“This is the first new single False Heads have released following their impressive EP, Less is Better. From the very first few chords, it is abundantly clear that this is going to be a step forward. The sound is immediately rougher, more aggressive and stripped down, and, one might say, more confident”  – Words For Music
https://wordsformusic.blog/2019/03/24/false-heads-slease-new-music/

“False Heads are without a doubt one of the most hard-working bands out there. After travelling up and down the country extensively in 2018 to promote their blisteringly confident EP Less Is Better and hooking us in with exploding riffs cemented firmly in the centre of punk sensibilities, this chaotic trio return with new single Slease” – Unique Lullaby
http://www.uniquelullaby.co.uk/2019/03/unique-to-check-out-false-heads-slease_18.html

False Heads
Photo by Neil McCarty
https://www.facebook.com/neilmccartyphotography

“With shows locked in to support the launch of ‘Slease,’ and the wheels of their debut album now in unstoppable motion, 2019 will be their most ambitious year to date and they want you to be a part of it. Who’s in?” – Rock and Loud Magazine
https://rocknloadmag.com/news/false-heads-drop-new-single-slease/

“[False Heads] crash into 2019 with one of their most explosive tracks to date” – Original Rock
https://originalrock.net/2019/03/07/interview-false-heads-talk-upcoming-single/

“False Heads remain one of the best and most authentic guitar bands” – Its All Indie
http://www.itsallindie.com/2019/03/false-heads-release-explosive-new-track.html

“Slease finds the East London trio in super energetic, ferocious punk mode, and memorable and easy to take in as it is, the dynamic song does not lack in any of the fierceness, the poignant lyricism and the impeccably well done production which have made the band thrive from the very beginning” – Destroy Exist
https://www.destroyexist.com/2019/03/false-heads-slease.html

“Sometimes a really crunchy and meaty bass riff is all you need to love a song. Thankfully False Heads’ latest track not only gives us that for an introduction, but continues down the path of beautiful raw punk in their new track “Slease” – Indie Central Music
https://indiecentralmusic.com/false-heads-release-stomping-new-track-slease/

You can follow the band on socials:

https://www.facebook.com/FalseHeads
http://www.falseheads.com
https://www.instagram.com/falseheads/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqivl1sWLJyZxP3Ywei3HGw
https://twitter.com/FalseHeads
https://www.musicglue.com/falseheads

You can buy or stream Sleaze from the link below:

https://ffm.to/falseheadsslease

You can also visit the band`s label These Bloody Thieves Records:
https://www.thesebloodythievesrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thesebloodythieves/

We hope you enjoy this review. Come back soon, we have more!
M/R

Indieterria review – Columbia by The Blinders

 

“Dream the most dangerous of dreams” – The Blinders “Columbia”

Dear readers,

So, I have got copy of “Columbia” – the debut album by The Blinders. When I am writing this review (or rather an essay), it is exactly three weeks to physical release of the album and the world is buzzing. Tickets to upcoming tour start to fly out, the performance at Leeds and Reading festivals put the band on radars and lips of thousands of people, series of record store performances and signing sessions has been unveiled for September. Their songs are Radio 1 and 6 Music singles of the week, Guardian mentions, 300-400 tweets generated a day, real talk among A&Rs and business insiders that the album may go into top 40, every indie band I know looks up to them – you get the picture.

This is a young, promising act on the edge of great things to come. They are the new Manic Street Preachers – throwing intellectualism, poetry and art at the world, loudly commenting political reality, wearing war paint and messages on their instruments.

They are once-in-a-generation band, a trio of working class lads from Doncaster with vision, balls and talent to offer the jaded, over-saturated world of pop music something fresh.  And people are drawn to it. You will see more and more fans jumping on The Blinders bandwagon as the time goes by. I`m old enough to see this happen several times in the past. It is exciting and scary, both for the writer and the band. I`ll get to that scary part at the end of this essay.

The Blinders headlining BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2018, photo by Sam Crowston https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

But back to the task at hand. How do you review “Columbia”? A deeply personal record for me for myriad of reasons. Do you do a regular review about the music and the cover and lyrics? Do you do a more in-depth account throwing some of your personal experiences into the mix?

I`ll write the emotional account – because I can`t do otherwise. It would not be honest. Especially since I have been championing and shouting about The Blinders daily for the last 2,5 years. And I don’t want this review to look like it`s written by a PR person for the band.

This review is done because The Blinders won me over.

Because we share the same background and love for high art.

Because we have similar determination in life.

And because we have “met” in a “right” moment.

In store appearances scheduled after Columbia comes out on 21st September 2018

“Columbia” is an angry album.  It`s written by musicians who come of age in a dark period – full of corrupted figures that divide not just people but the world with walls and borders, planet full of CCTV cameras and reality shows, party identities, wars, destruction of the environment, zero hours contracts and social media aka Big Brother.

The band grew up in a post industrial town with outdated architecture (“granite building and 1960s concrete bridges and the factories – they were just making electric fridges” from “Orbit”), read Orwell at school (1984 is a constant motive though out several songs on the album such as “Where No Man Comes” or “Ballad of Winston Smith”) and looked carefully around to witness modern poverty (“men and women worked to death”, “darkness seems to take its hold over both the poor and old”), saturation with news (“forgotten stories on the news”), refugee crisis (“fox hunt the refugees”) and general hopelessness (“feel so helpless all time”).

This will lead to righteous anger at previous generations and the state of the world. “Who will stand against them all?” ask The Blinders in “Ballad of Winston Smith” and follow up with a passionate soliloquy in “Free The Slave” against religious leaders, political figures and society in general.

Bleakness takes the center of the stage next to anger on “Columbia”. “They gonna build the Berlin Wall, divide us in two, and kill me and you” – screams Thomas Haywood at one point and this is not the only violent moment. Police brutality is referenced on “I Can`t Breathe Blues,” dragging people in the middle of the night from their beds is mentioned in “Where No Man Comes” and  there is talk about having your throat slit in “Brutus”. “Rat in a Cage” goes as far as to offer us an apocalyptic vision of devastated earth (“polluted and poisoned and dying race, our god doesn’t want to see the end of days”).

Columbia Tour poster for Autumn 2018

It is enough to make any young man pick up an instrument and scream into the void. And this is what The Blinders are doing with exceptional skills.  Their younger listeners will agree, but what about you older, more established members of society? Do you feel the same anger and hopelessness? Do you remember yourself from the way back when you were twenty – something and  you too wanted to change the world? What do you see and what do you feel when you listen to “Columbia”?

I almost forgot how it felt when I breathed anger at lack of prospects, walls and crazed political heads. Until “Columbia” arrived in its 12 track glory and hit me right in the chest. The album caused me physical pain – at the memories of growing up in a rundown mining town (to which I hate to return even now),  living in a Grenfell Tower like building in the middle of a council estate. In a world behind the Iron Curtain at a time when Berlin Wall was still standing and people were shot for trying to get to the other side.  Give or take, The “Orbit” or “The Ballad of Winston Smith” can be about me – for I too read 1984 in class, as art and literature were the only forms of escape. In desperation to have an impact on the world I even picked a tool of trade, but it wasn’t a guitar. It was a camera…

Cover artwork for Columbia Photo by Sam Crowston
https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

“Columbia” was recorded in winter of 2017 at the Magic Garden studio with Gavin Monaghan as producer. It is the final stop in a long journey the band went though in the last two-three years.  It captures the spirit of their live performance to the last sparkle. If you have seen The Blinders live you will notice immediately that “Et Tu”, “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” come one after another on the record, in the same order as they come on stage. The band likes to use all three compositions to end their shows with a proper punch. Two older songs “Brave New World” and “I Can`t Breathe Blues” albeit in newer versions made it onto the record. “ICB Blues”originally appeared on the 2016 EP “Hidden Horror Dance”, while “Brave New World” was previously released as a stand-alone single in 2017. If one follows the band, there is very little new material you can hear on the record. All three main singles “Gotta Get Through”, “L`Etat C`Est Moi” and “Brave New World” have been on the radio since March. “Brutus” and “Hate Song” are in regular rotation during live performances since last year.  If you watch Pirate Studios performance from 2017 you can see early version of “Hate Song” being named “March March March” (19:00 mins mark). “Rat in a Cage” and “Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)” appeared in live versions on socials in recent weeks, so  the only new compositions that have not been heard are “Where No Man Comes” and  short “Free The Slave”.  Is it bad? Not at all in my eyes.   I regard “Columbia” as crowning achievement of the bands potential so far.  They evolved so much in such a short time that it is incredible to observe. “Columbia” brings and ties all the ends from their career so far in one spectacular album.

Do yourself a little favour  and listen to very early demos from Thomas Haywood`s SoundCloud account. Songs such as “Ballad of Johnny Dream” and “Wither” (or even “Death of Narcissist”) had a huge influence on “Orbit” and “Ballad of Winston Smith”.  There is also a very early demo of “Ramona Flowers” and “You`re So Cold” aptly entitled “The Darkest Thing I Ever Did Feel” on the account for those who are familiar with band`s older repertoire.

It is a privilege to see any band develop, less alone a band that will define the voice of a generation. I`ve been very lucky to discover The Blinders in May (?) 2016. Music Business is a cut throat industry, there are more bands that break up than those who make it. It takes determination, sacrifices, and being single minded to stick with being in a band.

I recently interviewed The Blinders and asked them what profession they would pursue if they haven’t been making music. “We’d probably all be butchers or something” came an answer. And then they added: “At the end of the day without signing a deal [with label Modern Sky UK] we wouldn’t be talking to you about our debut album. We’d still be scrapping around trying get Brave New World recorded. We were given the chance and we took it, and we can’t more grateful for that. We are now in a situation where we can pursue art and writing for a living, so you can’t complain”.

Those words stayed with me and returned to me when listening to “Columbia”. The band put everything what they had into their music and stayed on course despite heavy odds. Both Thomas Haywood and drummer Matthew Neale left university without a degree. They were also lucky to land a recording deal. Without it, who can say how things would turn out?

If I can be very personal for a short moment again. Here comes another reason why I have such an emotional relationship with “Columbia” and the band. I mentioned that we “met” in a “right” time.  Like them, I was pursuing a dream despite heavy losses, ridicule and scrapping by. In ten years I did not manage to break into the industry I loved despite being ready to sacrifice everything for it. Even my personal safety. Even life. Then trauma came and put the end to my chosen career. I relocated to UK in February 2016 with a life long illness and lack of direction. I put together whatever was left of “old” me and started all over again slowly building up a path as an A&R on the indie circuit. Another country, another  career with apologies to David Bowie.  The Blinders were one of the first bands I took notice of. And their music stayed with me since. In an ironic twist of fate our paths seem to cross on the indie circuit. If I seen them live at a venue, the next week one of the bands I worked with would be playing  the same stage. To me and to me only “Columbia” is not just an album that shows true talent of three young lads. It is a soundtrack to my own personal journey to where I am now. The record entangled itself (or maybe I made it this way) with what happened in the last years and will always remind me of the bleakest and most victorious moments. That’s my own “concept” behind the record.

Thomas Haywood (“Johnny Dream”) performing with The Blinders (“Codeine Scene”) at The Sunflower Lounge on 16.02.2018

To anyone else it can be a striking concept album telling a story of a dystopian state of Columbia, where people disappear at nights, where police is free to murder and oppress, where population live in poverty and the young feel anger and solitude. Where Johnny Dream is calling to break out from mental cages and to support one another. Where despite the evil and the suffering there is still place for compassion, love and will to survive.

It can also be a set of twelve songs without any story behind them that try to make sense of the messed up world we live in.

It is guitar orientated  album that is true to the live performance.  Songs are fast and yet catchy, with haunting back ground vocals and  hypnotizing drums. Sometimes there`s spirit of Jim Morrison there in the spoken parts, sometimes you will hear Oasis or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd flirting with David Bowie. You can hear Mark Bolan`s groove.  There are some oriental musical themes that make me think of Kula Shaker. But mostly, mostly it is the fresh perspective on what music should be in 2018 – direct, poetic, enigmatic, political, tearing out your soul  and different from what is happening around. And that is what Thomas Haywood, Matty Neale and Charlie McGough bring to the table.

The album may be bleak as the abyss but I can see The Blinder`s future in quite a positive light. At the end of this review I`d like to refer to one single thing I  find worrying.  Here`s a small appeal to fellow music press folks – please do not treat the bands members and especially the vocalist as some sort of rock gods. I find the comparisons to “messiahs” or “Jim Morrisson” absurd and dangerous. Stage persona is not necessarily how artists are in real life. Please enjoy the show and leave the whole rock god icon in the past.  4REAL.

Columbia is out on 21st September 2018 via Modern Sky UK.

TRACKLIST:
1. Gotta Get Through
2. L’Etat C’Est Moi
3. Hate Song
4. Where No Man Comes
5. Free The Slaves
6. I Can’t Breathe Blues
7. Ballad Of Winston Smith
8. Et Tu
9. Brutus/Berlin Wall
10. Brave New World
11. Rat In A Cage
12. Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/

You can follow The Blinders on inter-webs:

https://theblinders.tmstor.es/
http://facebook.com/theblindersband
http://twitter.com/theblindersband
https://instagram.com/theblinders
https://soundcloud.com/theblinders-music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Z8Y3Ek99rukRa1Hdo14GE?si=yx5j8oK-RpG6qE7MQtVU5Q

Or their label Modern Sky:

https://modernsky.uk/
https://modernsky.uk/blinders-debut-album-columbia-now-available-pre-order
https://twitter.com/ModernSkyUK
https://www.facebook.com/ModernSkyUK/

Till the next time,

Malicia D.