Indieterria meets Jesse River Dylan Murray

Dear Readers,

JRDM`s heart shaped logo

Let`s take a walk on the wild side.  Our next discovery is not only talented singer-songwriter, with a unique sense of fashion and penchant for poetry.  They also have a list of inspirations long for a mile (William Shatner, Shrek, Ted Hughes, Stefan Raab, David Attenborough, Julian Lennon to name a few), witnessed Eurovision in Vienna and have a whole box of cds from their trip to India. They play rock but their debut EP is called “Classical Music”. Feeling confused? Good, a little vertigo won’t hurt. We have been observing Jesse River Dylan Murray for weeks at the open mic nights around town and finally had a chance to question them for this month`s edition of Indieterria. We hope you will enjoy this interview, because we surely had so much fun preparing it. Can you blame us? Jesse`s cool as few tons of Persian kittens and we can barely wait for 19th of July when the EP and the jaws will drop.

Life’s got everything to do with music

Look sharp! Jesse is a skilled photographer taking all his promotional shots. Ah those pesky kids today, daring to be creative and talented!

Meeting Jesse River Dylan Murray almost feels like stumbling upon the icons of rock and roll golden era. Soft-spoken, dressed in vividly colorful attire that places them somewhere between Marc Bolan and David Bowie, Jesse instantly becomes the center of attention. Their impromptu, refreshingly innovative sessions at the open mic nights around Worcester are like a breath of fresh air. Having heard the rave reviews, we wasted no time to see them in action for ourselves. This is what we have learnt…

Jesse River Dylan-Murray – that’s a fantastic name and a well suited one for a rock star.  Please introduce yourself.

Well, it’s not a stage name in case anyone was wondering, it is my full birth name. I’m apparently named after River Phoenix & Bob Dylan. I’m a guitar-playing songwriter based in Worcester (against my will) and I inhale hope and exhale disappointment. I don’t really aim to become a rockstar – in fact the very term somewhat grates against me like splintery wood. I feel like that whole title has been & gone and comes with this set of specific ways on how to do music which I don’t want to be tied down by. I loathe describing myself almost as much as I loathe BBC Radio 2 & The X Factor.

You have studied at Nunnery Wood High School that is known for placing a great emphasis on art and music. Other graduates include Jodi Hughes, Ewan Pollock and brothers Zac and Alfie Jeavons- from Lost Tiger to the Wild. Did the artistic education help to shape you as a musician?

 I always thought Nunnery Wood was a science-biased school… I had very little interest in music generally when I was there. Pretty much all I was listening to at the time was Marilyn Manson & Michael Jackson (my goth phase & my inner child viciously grinding against each other.) It wasn’t until 2010 when I started to really get into music fanatically (starting with Alice Cooper) and I didn’t get my first guitar until the middle of 2013, a year after I’d left college. My mother’s boyfriend, who had been playing since the 60s, probably, gave me a few lessons in the beginning, but the short answer is that I was never formally educated in music nor was I at all inspired by my educational background. I hated school with a near-maniacal passion and still look back on it with disdain.

Jesse as a guitar hero (self portrait)

One of your songs entitled “Smoke without fire” received a lot of airplays on social media. It is a very complex and interesting composition. Can you tell us more about its beginnings? What is the message behind it?

This song I can actually, unlike most of my songs, pinpoint to an exact moment in time. I was having a conversation with my stepdad in a pub last March and we were talking about rumours & the media, and he said something like “People say there’s no smoke without fire, but you know there absolutely is.” And that’s what the song’s really about in my mind. Spurious rumours, dirty gossip, twisted media. From the playground level to the international level. A bit of anger there in that song

Given the opportunity, we have to ask about another of your songs – “Everyone Wants To Look At Me But Nobody Wants To Look Me In The Eye”. With its poetic yet sarcastically sad lyrics and melodic riffs, it almost sounds like a track that didn’t make the cut for The Smiths’ “The Queen is dead” album.

“Classical Music” EP cover

“I live on the outside of the outside because the rebels and the punks and the freaks and the queers don’t want to know me.” It’s a fairly straightforward song I think, with its almost comically mammoth title. Not entirely sure when I conceived that song, but I had the title stuck in my head for what felt like at least a couple of years. I mean it’s obviously about being stared at and not fitting in, as so many songs are (I’m not even a Radiohead fan) but on another level it’s a lot more. It’s about not even fitting in in the usual groups of outcasts, feeling out of place literally everywhere, accepted or otherwise, but most importantly not even having any clue what you are. To paraphrase the brilliant Chicago-originated musician Ezra Furman: “People say ‘oh just be yourself’ but I don’t have any clue what that is…”.

Your debut EP entitled “Classical music” will be released on 19th of July. What can we expect? Are any of your previously released demos included or are you going to treat your fans to something completely new?

Smoke Without Fire is on there in the center of it. Everyone Wants… is currently being worked on to be released separately. The EP will contain 6 tracks – 5 original plus an instrumental bit of classical music (hey-hey did somebody say theming ho-ho) – at a rather beefy 31 minutes and will cost £3 – that’s the same as a meal deal readers, only this lunch don’t have no consume-by date! It will also contain the bouncy anti-pop protest anthem That’s Got Nothing to Do With Music, which I’ve been bombarding poor old Worcester with for a while and will most likely be released as the leading single for this by the time this issue of SLAP comes out, available for download. So get on that.

You have recorded at the famous MayB Studios in Pershore along many established acts such as jazz sensation Hot Fingers, London legendary punk rockers Bad Habits or Worcester Music Festival veterans Amorphica. How would you describe working with one of the best music producers and engineers in the county?

The studio’s owner, Peter May`s top person. He always knows exactly what he’s doing and is pretty quick to figure out what you want if you’re not sure how to describe the sound you’re looking for. He’s in the room with you through the whole process – no soundproof glass, no separate room – so you get a proper teamwork feel to it and it’s pretty easy to communicate quickly enough and make the most of your time there (which is also pretty cheap at £10 an hour.) He is, so far, my only experience of working with a producer/engineer and I feel like I’ve lucked out. You also get to work with some pretty swanky top-notch equipment, and if you’re really nice to him he’ll even make you a lovely cup of tea.

Imagine you have a chance to gather any musicians from local or international scene to create an ultimate artistic dream team. Who would share the stage with you and why?

 Thinking locally, I’m a big fan of Ellie Williams and her end-of-the-world song writing and absolutely bellowing pipes. Looking forward to her EP when it comes out and I’d love to work with her. I also like Ben Dallow quite a lot – locally nicknamed “Britpop Ben” for I suppose his rather Gallagher-esque appearance and drone. He has a great non-stop style of guitar playing where he mixes rhythm and lead really well, and gives the impression of being so ice-cool you could hit him with your car and he might not even notice. There’s also Rueben Lovett, Cheltenham-based guitar player and a brilliant writer. Only ever seen him live once so far, right after I’d just left the stage at Marrs Bar’s open mic. I was so sweaty and needed to step outside to cool off, but found myself rooted to the spot by this unique charisma he has. A bit punky but largely just special. Don’t know about a bassist and drummer though… just a load of writers & mostly guitar players lacking the foundations. Chaos.

Sit down next to me (auto-portrait)

Your fashion sense is very unique and you have been compared to David Bowie’s stage persona of Ziggy Stardust and Adam Ant’s Prince Charming. What inspire you?

 My sense of fashion just exploded one day in Cheltenham, when I was 15 years old. I was there seeing my very first ever gig, and my friends & I found this vintage clothes shop on a side street called Browsers. And I’m talking ridiculous vintage here: flares, tassels, glitter, shoulder-pads, zebra-print. I’d never been somewhere like there before. Prior to that I was on the tail-end of my goth phase and moving into the zone of checkered shirts (God knows why) but in that shop something in my head clicked and said “Hang on… I can wear anything!” And I went to that gig that night wearing this ridiculous heavy red velvet waistcoat with 2-foot-long tassels dangling from it (still got it too.) My sense of fashion just evolved from there and that wear-anything philosophy. I’ve since lost sight of the point of even gender-pigeonholing and mix in the make-up, heels & dresses with the suits, leather jackets & jumpsuits. I want it all. I just get bored very, very easily and don’t like to stick to one style for long.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Where can we see you play live?

 My EP launch party will be at The Chestnut on Wednesday July 19th – that’s free entry as well – and I’ll have my very first paid gig at the Brecon Fringe Festival on August 13th. Beyond that I’ll keep inflicting myself upon the open mics of Worcestershire – primarily The Marrs Bar, Firefly & Chestnut – until I move away. I’m still small time. I’ve only been performing regularly for about 14 months. You’ve caught me in what are hopefully only the very early stages. Just another noise-maker in a line of noise-makers. Though my noise is often a few decibels apart from the night’s standard – either quieter or louder, depending on my general mood and whether I want to croon about a mythical Greek monster or bellow & growl about alcohol. Do come see the noise, though. It will be – deep breaths now – FUN.

Poster for the EP launch party on July 19th 2019

You can follow Jesse at:
https://www.facebook.com/JRDMcreations/
https://soundcloud.com/jesse-river-dylan-murray

You can find this interview in the July edition of Slap Magazine:

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-71-july-2017.pdf 

or download the file from here:

issue-71-july-2017

Nearly a centerfold! Jesse featured in SLAP Magazine July 2017

As we said, before we sat down to talk with Jesse, we seen them several times performing live and each time Jesse would blow us away. Their stage presence is immaculate and the clothes and killer shoes are just unearthly. It`s like Richey Edwards raiding Bernard Butler`s wardrobe in the 1990s. Or Freddie Mercury, or Syd Barrett or Brian Molka or Marc Bolan or Stevie Nicks…it`s like walking on set of Velvet Goldmine, Breakfast on Pluto live… we can go on until tomorrow morning.

We took some shots for you, so you can judge for yourselves.

Jesse`s amazing stage outfits.

Dressed to slay we tell you.

Classic look and killer heels

We will see you on the 19th July for the EP launch. As Jesse said – it will be FUN.

xxx
Mal+Rita D.

**** Update 26/07/2017****

New Poster for the EP launch

Pushing at the boundaries – “Classical Music” EP launch

Chestnut Inn in Worcester is an unusual place. For starters it looks like it should belong in Hay On Wye. Books and antiques can be found in every corner. On second glance, the pub feels like a crossover between Leaky Cauldron and Peel Archive.  Fat, red cat roams around demanding cuddles from the customers, big portraits of rock and blues stars on the walls seem alive and there are vinyl records in big piles near the bar. No wonder that  Chestnut was chosen as a venue for Jesse River Dylan Murray`s EP launch on 19 July 2017.

The Chestnut Inn in Worcester

This place is like Cash in the Attic episode

Some of those records are really old and still being used!

Large portraits that give Chestnut Inn quite a character

Chestnut Inn decor is out this world, we tell you.

That is self explanatory!

A wild child of Worcester music scene, Jesse cannot be easily squeezed  into a box and they have more aces in their sleeve than a skilled gambler.  One moment channelling Bowie, the next singing like Tom Waits, Jesse easily changes from glam to indie to alternative with charm and buoyancy that captivates the audience. We can tell you that when we entered The Chestnut, the house was full.

Before Jesse hit the stage, we had a pleasure to listen to two support acts: Stephen L Wright (locally known as Nobby Wright) and Benjamin Dallow.  Stephen L. Wright continues a proud tradition of classic blues and we are sure that sooner than later Nobby will find himself on the other side of the Pond. Ben Dallow (who filled in for Redwood as she could not perform due to conflicting schedules) on the other hand is fully immersed in British rock. There is a lot of Oasis and Paul Weller influences in Ben`s music but since when comparison to the Modfather is a bad thing? Dallows version of Jam`s That’s Entertainment was fresh and done in his own style, so no complaints from us here. It also should be noted that Ben`s performance was arranged the night before the EP launch at a last minute but it worked out perfectly. That’s the beauty of our local music scene.

Ben Dallow during his performance

Rock`n`Roll star

We think we need to introduce Ben to Mikey Johns of This Feeling.

Once Ben Dallow finished his set – it was all about Jesse and their music. With their signature guitar, full make up on and snow white shirt, Murray mirrored Richey Edwards in passion and  stage persona and equalled American indie sensation Michete in outspokenness.  They played the EP in full and when that was not enough, they turned to a cover (brilliant version of Heroin by Velvet Underground).

For a young performer Jesse surely has dedicated friends – some of them came as far as London for the launch and at the end of the night, Jesse was presented  with a huge bouquet of summer flowers. Not Morrissey-esque flowers but equally sweet.

Bold in their performance, but there was a bit of stage fright too, we think.

Rocking to a crowded room

Jesse on stage

a view from the first row

In their element

Not everything was perfect. Jesse like many other acts has to learn on the job and perhaps the set was too longish but we did not really mind. Even if we had to buy the EP from one of Jesse`s friends and not the artist themselves.

It was a fun night – full of excellent music, chaos, silly conversations, too many pints and had all the marks of “I was there” moment. If given right amount of endurance in this dog-eat-dog industry, Jesse River Dylan Murray has all the talent and persona to become not just a local starlet – but a full grown rock and roll start in their own right.

Better than Moz.

Set list

Credits:

Jesse River Dylan Murray:

https://www.facebook.com/JRDMcreations

Stephen L Wright (also known as Nobby Wright)
https://soundcloud.com/nobby-wright

Ben Dallow
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.dallow

The Chestnut Inn
https://www.facebook.com/TheChestnutInn/

 

Indieterria meets nth cave

Hello  Dear Readers,

nth cave logo

For June edition of Indieterria we have prepared an interview with another incredible artist from local scene in Worcestershire.  And nothing makes us more happier than to bring good indie music to your attention. But there`s a first to this month`s column. nth cave must be the youngest band we have ever sat down with. It`s both awesome and intimidating experience to witness such young artists with such huge potential. You see them play live a sold out house and you can only imagine how they will develop as musicians and artists. We hope you will enjoy the interview and when we are all old and grey, we can tell our grand children: “we were there, we seen them at the very beginning of their careers”.  And that will not be a lame claim to fame!

Talent to the nth degree

nth cave posing before their BBC Introducing session Photo by Andy O`Hare https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

They are young, fearless and immensely talented. Appreciated by critics and audience alike, the quintet mysteriously named nth cave is taking the West Midlands music scene by storm.  They are yet to release their debut album and their members may not be old enough to enter the venues they play unaccompanied,  but their music and stage presence are drawing crowds that would make senior or well accomplished acts jealous. We sat down with brothers,  Hector and Fergus Brazier to learn more about the wunder kids of Worcestershire.

 nth cave is a very unusual name. Can you tell us where does it come from?

nth cave: The first period of nth caves existence we went pretty much unlabeled, because we weren’t really regularly gigging and we had no real original material to share with anyone. At this point, our high school music teacher would refer to us as “Danni and the Elements”, which we met with quite a large amount of disdain, but we had no real other ideas for band names so we kind of went with it for a bit. After a while we started doing a few gigs and had started to write some original song ideas. At this point we were desperate for any name other than “Danni and the Elements”. We started playing about with some ‘band name generators’ on the internet. After a few hundred attempts it churned out “nth cave” which we all agreed ‘isn’t really too terrible’. And I think that’s how we all feel now. It’s not too terrible but it really isn’t great. It just does its job as a band name. Our music really speaks for itself, I think, and the fact there’s no real “epic story” or anything behind our name represents our rejection of some of the more pretentious and faux-intellectual characteristics that a lot of other bands strive for.

You started out as a 4 piece but expanded by adding Lauren Mulhearn on bass. Your original bassist Alfie Newman moved then to second guitar. How did the line up change affected you musically? Is it easier or harder to play as a quintet?

nth cave:  nth cave was always intended really to be a quintet. We actually started out in high school as a five piece. However the second guitarist just had too many other commitments (jobs and family stuff etc…) and this, combined with a growing amount of musical difference, led to us and him growing apart. So we started gigging as a four piece, but with the majority of the songs and covers being designed for a band with duel guitars, there was a notable ’emptiness’ about our sound. This is when we started looking for a bassist, who appeared in the form of Lauren Mulhearn via Twitter DMs. After a couple of rehearsals she was up to speed with our whole set and we started gigging as a five. This was met immediately with positive responses. With the second guitar adding stability to the foundation of the songs this consequently allows for notably more freedom and expression in both the lead guitar and vocals

nth cave performing at Marrs Bar photo by Duncan Graves https://www.facebook.com/duncan.graves

Homecoming gig at Marrs Bar – photo by Lissy Witch https://www.facebook.com/LissywitchPhoto/

Your guitar player Fergus and drummer Hector are brothers. Yay or nay for having your sibling in a band? Is any sibling rivalry involved in the music making process?

Fergus: Nah there’s no rivalry, as long as we’ve both played instruments we’ve jammed together so we’re normally pretty aware of each other’s styles and mannerisms in music.

Hector: There’s no problem with siblings bring in bands together, I doubt that anyone can’t think of a band with brothers or sisters. Oasis, Peace, Cage the Elephant, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and that’s only a few. Oasis may not have ended that well but their initial success or any bands success isn’t hindered by having siblings together in the band.

 You recorded your BBC Introducing session at the Phoenix Theatre in Ross on Wye in April 2016. How do you remember this experience?

 nth cave:  nth cave’s BBC Introducing session was a brilliant opportunity for us, as a band. However I would say that it came about at the wrong time for us. At the time of the session we were still playing as our original lineup and consequently we were musically driven in a fairly different direction to the one which are now. As well as this we still had little to no popularity at all and we had yet to even make a dent in Worcester’s local music scene. This meant that our session (unsurprisingly), as generous as it was from BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester, went pretty much ignored. Since then we’ve really grown as a band and developed a lot more of a style. Despite this, the most recent music that we’ve sent to BBC Introducing was acknowledged but not broadcast which is a shame because we all really appreciate the work that BBC Introducing do for unsigned artists, and we just wish we could ‘get in on that’.

Still as a quartet – nth cave before expanding photo by Josh Foster https://www.facebook.com/phojf

Sonically you place yourself between Wolf Alice and Nirvana. Who else would appear on your wall of fame?

Hector: Personally I see nth cave as the coming together of a wide array of genres and styles, with band members contributing to our songs based upon their own musical upbringing. With individual influences ranging from jazz to hip-hop to pop punk our music is filled with hyper-subtle references to some of this music. I would like to point out at this point that nth cave are most certainly not a “jazz, hip-hop, pop punk group”. That honestly sounds disgusting.  It is because of this fact, however, that sometimes it can be quite hard to place our “middle ground” musically. Artists such as Wolf Alice and Nirvana are fairly influential to the majority of the band and its because of this that we place ourselves (somewhere) within the “alternative/indie” genre.

Fergus: nth cave’s “Wall of Fame” really does have to include some of the artists that we regularly cover like The Strokes, Pixies and The Wytches. I would say, it’s through covering artists like this that we have really started to improve our own, work taking influence from the upbeat guitar driven pop sound of The Strokes, the intense dynamics of Pixies, and even some of the sonic elements found within the heavy lo-fi surf rock of The Wytches.

While our singer’s voice has been regularly compared with artists such as Broadcast and Stereolab, her largest influence, vocally, comes from the work of Kasabian.

As well as these artists, bands such as Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Pond and The Velvet Underground, I fact the bands writing style is particularly influenced by the likes of The Velvet Underground and that whole alternative New York scene, as far as I’m concerned Lou Reed, as well as being the ‘god father of punk’ is the father of all worthwhile western music. These artist would all feature nth cave’s ‘Wall of Fame’.

nth cave is making a name for itself on national independent scene in record time. You started in late 2013, two years later you were featured on Andrew Marston BBC show. This year you played all important venues between Bristol and Birmingham. You leave your competition far behind.

Homecoming gig at Marrs Bar – photo by Lissy Witch https://www.facebook.com/LissywitchPhoto/

nth cave playing live at Marrs Bar – photo by Lissy Witch https://www.facebook.com/LissywitchPhoto/

 nth cave: We’re pretty happy with what we’ve achieved over the past year gigging, mainly in Worcester and Birmingham. We’re set to play in Hereford next month but are yet to play in Bristol. The music scene right now is great down there so hopefully we’ll make it. It’s a dream of ours to be able to play in every city in the UK so we have a long way to go yet.

Our favourite track is entitled “Bass”. You even shot a popular video at the Birmingham City University. Can you tell us something about the song? Working with film students must have been a fascinating experience.

 nth cave: So the student who was our main contact for it was Petko Stankov who was a technician at an acoustic gig we played. He decided that we were the kind of band he wanted for his music video module so he chose one of our songs and we got an audio recording session and a video recording session at BCU. We’ve had loads of good feedback from it and we were really impressed by how professional it looks so thank you to Petko and his team for making it and thank you to everyone who watched and shared it. We heard from someone recently that part of the most recent Star Wars film was filmed in the same studio as our video which is insanely cool if it’s true. One shame about the video is we didn’t have Lauren in the band when we were working on it; it would have been great.

After a string of successful singles, it is time for a full release. Can you tell us more about your first album?

nth cave:  Well we’re still deciding what would best for us, to release an EP or a full album. Either way we want to go to the studio soon but there aren’t any actual album plans yet, but we do have lots of ideas for its artistic structure and a lot of album name suggestions. For now though we’re happy with working on our material and gigging. We really, really hope there will be an album eventually though.

nth cave demo that is currently in our music archives

SLAP:  Your future is already looking bright but things will only get better. What can we expert from you guys in the next months to come?

 nth cave:  To be honest we’ve got no set big plans other than the occasional gig. We are however hoping to hear back from a couple of festivals that we’ve applied to play at. As far as our own material goes, it’s just a case of getting some recording sessions done. We certainly have enough original work to put together an album, it just all depends on what opportunities arise for us. We’re hoping to work more with Boneyard Sessions to increase exposure for some of the more talented (yet under-appreciated) bands in the Worcester music scene. So overall we want to get our original material together and get ourselves out there as much as we can, and hey, if someone wants to offer us a sweet record deal? We’d consider it. Hopefully this’ll be the busiest and most progressive year for nth cave and we’ll just keep up what we’re doing and see where it takes us.

Screenshot from Slap Magazine

 You can follow nth cave online at:

https://www.facebook.com/nthcave
https://soundcloud.com/nthcave
https://twitter.com/nthcave
www.instagram.com/nthcave

You can also read this interview online as a part of SLAP Magazine

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/issue-70/june-2017/

Or download this file from here:

issue-70-june-2017

nth cave has been announced as one of the first bands to play this year`s Worcester Music Festival. And we cannot be more excited.

http://www.worcestermusicfestival.co.uk/bands/nth-cave/

Come back again, next edition of Indieterria will be slightly different. For the first time, we will have a solo artist in the hot seat!

xxxooo

Rita +Mal

Indieterria meets Michael Knowles

We go political!

Michael Knowles blows a kiss towards audience at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

Everything`s political as Skunk Anansie song goes. And May issue of Indieterria will be all that and even a bit philosophical.

We are steering back our ship to Worcester shores to introduce you to Michael Knowles – leader of The STDs and one of the most controversial figures in the Midlands. How politically incorrect is Mr Knowles? His new single is called “Theresa May is a cunt” and contains language so strong you may want to dig out your “Cop Killers” and “Straight Outta Comptons” out of the basement instead. We can see you rolling your eyes and ears dear readers. So we will ante up and tell you that besides being potty-mouthed, Michel Knowles has a voice of 4,5 octaves, a pitch perfect hearing and is a trained in music production.

Aha, controversial yet talented – now that is a hard mixture to swallow for some. It is much easier to dismiss musicians and artists as immature and looking for attention when  they are painted as  common nobodies. Much harder to do so when artists are seen as complex humans who have their strengths and exercise the right to freedom of speech.

The current world of pop music has been derived of controversial and outspoken characters to the point that you cant even hear songs on the radio that were in heavy rotation 20 years ago in the middle of the day. Try requesting Nine Inch Nails` Closer nowadays on the radio and see what they will play you.

Indie scene had always a place for counter culture and the obscene and we are happy to report that independent and unsigned artists are stepping in to fill the hole. Shame have fantastic “VISA Vulture” with its libelous video to match, The Blinders paint messages on their guitars and Michael Knowles and The STDs hammer the message nicely from our town.   You may see it as unnecessary and infantile – but we see it a form of balance. Music is broad enough to incorporate Little Mix and The STDs in all their respective popness and cockiness.

Fear not. The interview below is all nice and dandy and you may find out that controversial  figures can have a lot of cleaver things to say. We loved the passion Michael has for his musical heroes. So sit back and read on:

Michael Knowles performing live at Drum and Pig pub/music venue on its final night before a temporary closure and management takeover. Worcester, February 25, 2017

 

Michael Knowles – a stream of consciousness

Technology is a wonderful thing. For example, it allows you to interview artists even late at night from the comfort of your own office. You type the questions into instant messenger and wait for the answers to arrive. Piece of cake. On the downside, technology can`t replicate that old fashioned feeling of excitement that every music journalist feels when meeting a new and promising act in person. And you need to know Michael Knowles surely earned himself a name to be regarded as exciting and controversial in equal measures. He fronts a band called The STD`s, dresses like it`s 1980s and is known for performances that are politically incorrect yet hilariously funny. No journalist would pass  the opportunity to see what makes Michael tick and we are no exception.

This is what we have found out:

Tell us about the band. How many of you and how did you start?

There were only three of us to start with: Steve Church, Dean Thomas Carter and myself. Steve and I had worked together in the past on an album I never released. Dean and I had played together in the house band of The Flag in Worcester (back then known as The Tap). One day we went to this kid`s backyard studio and we all fit really well so we started looking for a bassist as at the start Steve was on guitar.  Over time we’ve had some great musicians join us on – George, James or Tadd. They have come and gone to find new projects. Right now the line up is Steve on bass, The Jack (Tad Jones) on guitar, Dean on drums and myself on vocals. Plus I play guitar too.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

So four guys in a rock and roll band that is nothing like Worcestershire ever seen.

This is true.

You have a very distinct image – very 80s classic rock. On purpose or is it just how you guys roll?

To be honest,  we’ve only really dressed up for gigs a few times but now I mean we don’t really want to have to look through stuff to wear!

So there`s image change on the cards? You know you have already made yourself a name of new Steel Panther in town!

It depends where we shop next (laughs) and really I thought we had the reputation of a noisy bunch.

Noisy yes. But people rather see you as classic rock revival. Quite an interesting twist on David Lee Roth and Poison.

Well, that wasn’t our intention.

What was your intention then?

Just to be noisy and chaotic.

We could add early Alice In Chains to the influences you represent.

There was never really a plan. Still isn’t.

You still evolving sonically?

We’ve got a lot of new stuff in the pipeline. We always do.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

If you were to describe new songs- what would you say? Shall we buy earplugs in advance?

Possibly. There’s  material about some dark times and then whatever we write in the meantime. Plus a concept album.

So no more comic rock and songs about female attributes?

Probably not. But who knows? Let’s face it there’s no plan.

You said that world doesn’t need love songs anymore. That world needs anger.

This is true. I think a lot of anything I’ve written that could be considered “love songs” are usually bitter sweet. With a hint of sarcasm and a lot of anger.

Well, Ledbury Song is very angry but at the same time hilariously funny. You have audience roaring with laughter.

It is less of a song, more of a rant really.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

We don’t know if you agree- but we see your lyrics as a mix of Tenacious D with Morrissey-esque cynical humour and playing with words.

I doubt I could ever be compared to Morrissey. I’m never that poetic (laughs)

The Ledbury Song has the same motif as Everyday Is Like A Sunday:  dislike for a small town that is becoming like a prison for a young person. Moz also wants to bomb the town and he is not poetic about it.

I haven’t heard it but I agree with him.

You come from a small place?

A small town. Small in size and small minded. Hard to be anyone there.

Do you think you would be different if you were born in London?

I’ve been to London and I hate that place. Too big and far too busy. Everyone in a hurry to go nowhere.

So perhaps there`s a positive side of being born in a small town?

I think the point is everyone hates where they are from eventually but it’s always where you call home.

Who would you put in your top 5 artists?

I’d say Tool, Amen, early Slipknot and honestly Trent Reznor and Bill Hicks.

Michael Knowles & The STDs performing live on 14th January 2017 at Marrs Bar
Photo by Andy O`Hare
https://www.facebook.com/andy.ohare1

Very broad influences.

I just love their attitudes and way of creating. I love how Bill Hicks was born in the religious South yet could deconstruct the archaic institutions that he was thrust into. I love how angry Slipknot were and to a 13 year old outcast they represented hope that you might be a freak but there was a place in this world for you. Amen taught me that record companies are just stupid. Tool taught me the beauty of feedback and how atmosphere can really make the hairs on your neck stand up. And Trent is just the god of chaos in noise.

You talk so poetically about music. You will put Moz out of business one day.

It’s all I have really. My whole life has been music and everything else has come and gone but there was always solace in music.

You sing, write, compose, play instruments – that’s lot of talents.

I see it as separate parts of one whole encompassing thing that is just me.

Where do you think the music will take you or the band?

It’s less about what music can do and more about how far we take it. We’re not looking to be billionaire rock stars with handlers. Our goals are to play every show and know at least half the audience.

And will that be enough?

It was always enough to have fans to grow with than trying to appease the masses.

You can follow Michael Knowles online at:

https://www.facebook.com/MKandSTDs
https://www.instagram.com/michael_knowles21
https://soundcloud.com/michael-knowles-music
https://soundcloud.com/michael-knowles-music/michael-knowles-the-stds

https://www.facebook.com/michael.knowles.5832343

At the beginning of April 2017, Michael Knowles and The STDs began recording of their new material using premises at Marrs Bar in Worcester as a studio. The result is album (that still needs to receive a release date) and a single “Theresa May is a cunt”. You can listen it here:

https://michaelknowlesthestds.bandcamp.com/track/theresa-mays-a-cunt

As we said – you may not agree with the bands sentiments but taking into consideration news item such as: HERE  or HERE, it makes us wonder if the song should not be at least six minutes longer. To act as a vent for the anger and frustration, if not anything else.

 

Our interview with Michael Knowles has been kindly reprinted in Slap Magazine and you can see your copy at the link below:

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-69-may-2017.pdf

Or download copy  here:

issue-69-may-2017

Some images for our records if anything else fails:

Slap Magazine feature – May 2017 edition

Photo of the article

Kudos to Andy O`Hare from BBC Hereford & Worcester for allowing us some of his photos.

And if you found this edition of Indieterria too much, bear with us. Next time we are going to the church!

Malicia

**** Update 02/06/2017****

We have awesome news to report. This summer, UK will see a gigantic series of gigs and concerts under banner of “Musicians Against Homelessness”. This initiative was started in 2016 by legendary A&R and founder of Creation Records – Alan McGee. Its aim is simple – to gather funds for Crisis, charity that helps fight homelessness.

Literary everyone involved in the initiative works/plays for free (that includes us as well)  and every penny raised is passed to Crisis. One of MAH events will take part in Hereford at the legendary Booth Hall (Never been? You have only yourself to blame) on July 8th as part of Hereford Punk Festival. If you are in the area, please come down and have fun because Rich Lovell and Minky Cuadra of Underground Revolution did pure magic and got together two sets of pure punk, rock and poetry madness.

Hereford Punk Festival – line up in aid of Crisis

Hereford Punk Festival – MAH event just looks incredible

Michael Knowles is obviously on the bill and that will be just a fantastic opportunity to listen to his new material tested on the stage. He will not play lullabies, we warn you.

If you want  to learn more, here are some links worth checking:

Musicians Against Homelessness
https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

The Booth Hall
https://www.facebook.com/TheBoothHallHereford

Rich Lovell
https://www.facebook.com/rich.lovell.37

Minky Cuadra
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010293331172

Underground Revolution
https://www.facebook.com/groups/undergroundrevolution/

Crisis
https://www.crisis.org.uk/

 

Oh and STD`s album launch happens one month before  the gig in Hereford on June  9th at Marrs Bars in Worcester. So get your copy and you will be set up for sing a-long. It will be also one day after the snap elections, so you know 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/events/1786676631644926/

Humor is the devil`s friend – album cover

The STDs in all their glory

 

Xxxooo
Rita+Mal

Indieterria meets Jodie Hughes

Indieterria meets Jodie Hughes

Transmission.
Photo by Dominika Marchewka
https://www.facebook.com/a7xf0rlife

Another month, another  edition of Indieterria and we just discovered a real gem worth telling you about. So far we concentrated on bands, but this time around we will profile a solo artist (even if she is part of a band as well).  After all – variety is the spice of life.

We are beyond excited to bring you this interview . Jodie Hughes is unique: hip and mysterious, outgoing, intellectual, artistic and she`s also a polymath (person who is knowledgeable in various disciplines).  She may be very young but, as you will soon discover, she had done in her time more than a lot of us. And she is just getting started.

Jodie Hughes – In a league of her own.

In the world where artists document their entire lives on social media, Jodie Hughes goes against the current. Her online presence is minimal, she scrupulously avoids the spotlight, values education more than fame and releases her music exclusively in form of home-made demos. In the same time, she is a multi-instrumentalist (playing piano, keyboards, synths, bass, ukulele and guitar), avid busker, alumni of Worcester School of Rock, one of the youngest participants of Worcester Music Festival (she was  fifteen when she performed in 2015 to a full house) and  recently she supported  the hottest acts on indie scene – Anteros and The Assist.

We just knew that we had to interview Jodie . Not every day you meet such a diverse, young artist.

Jodie on stage
Photo by Rebecca Warr
https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.warr.7

As a singer and songwriter, your presence on local scene is strong, yet you remain mysterious and elusive. I know you fiercely guard your privacy and allow little information to appear online. By your own words, what  should be known about Jodie Huges as an artist and musician?

I have a very wide variety of influences and I like a little mystery! I’m very fussy about my original songs, they have to be perfect for me to share them.

You recently opened Independent Music Week event in Worcester by supporting such accomplished acts as The Assist and Anteros. What is your reflection of the night?

I really enjoyed it!! It was a fantastic opportunity and Independent  Music Week is brilliant for reminding people of some of the great venues that are out there. I’m very honoured to have been a part of it!

Slap Magazine described you previously as possessing “beautifully melodic vocals”, others drew comparisons to Amy McDonald, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine. Do you regard such praises as a compliment or unnecessary pressure?

I like hearing other people’s opinions of my music, I like learning different people’s interpretations!  I definitely see it as a compliment to be compared to such successful artists and it sometimes introduces me to new artists too!

You are being likened to Hope Sandoval also because of your unusual artistic strategy: occasional gigs instead of regular performances, busking around with no prior announcements, no demos or EPs being released. Are you waging this musical guerrilla to keep audience on their toes? 

Mostly it’s due to time constraints, it’s often difficult to balance time spent on music with college work, especially at this time of year! I definitely try to keep my music going in some form, be it writing or busking, alongside working – it’s healthy to have something separate to focus on as a break from college work.  I’m hoping to work more intensely on writing and hopefully more gigs over the summer after exams though! Plus it’s always fun to keep people guessing!!!

Jodie performing during Worcester Music Festival 2016
Photo by Rebecca Warr
https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.warr.7

Your SoundClound account is filled by original compositions and covers of eclectic artists like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Neighbourhood. You seem to enjoy confusing anyone who tries to squeeze you into a box.

I’ve always had a wide range of music tastes – I don’t think I could put myself into any box really! I’ve had phases where I’ve taken a particular type of music, like pop punk or indie, and tried to solely fit myself into that one genre, but there’s just so much out there it’s good to discover what else there is! My band do sometimes covers of many different artists – Fleetwood Mac, REM, Erasure and Beyonce to name a few.  Over the years I’ve discovered so many great artists from so many genres, I encourage everyone else to do the same.

We are intrigued by one of your original pieces  – “Don’t talk to me about death”. There is a line in the middle that goes “keep pretending that you`ll be my Kurt Cobain”. You sound almost furious in that track. Is it based on personal experience?

The song is based on a particular person – or I suppose a particular type of person – who tried to create a persona based on self-pity and trying to appear deep and meaningful through cynicism.  The Kurt Cobain reference was in relation to this idea of appearing a certain way and glorifying and romanticizing mental illness, which is often done by the media regarding celebrities such as Kurt Cobain. The idea of trying to be negative just to appear a certain way, and almost making a mockery out of mental illness by using it as an accessory, seemed so ridiculous to me, it felt necessary to voice my feelings on it somehow.

Jodie performing with her signature guitar.
Photo by Lissywitch
https://www.facebook.com/LissywitchPhoto/

Another track worth mentioning is “Mixtapes And Metaphors” – a love song with incredibly clever lyrics. As a song writer what is more important to you – composing of music or having a story to tell?

I think it’s a bit of both – they can work quite well together actually. I like intricacy, it’s something I’ve been trying to work on more by remodelling some of my old songs and adding more subtle details.  I personally find writing lyrics very difficult, so I think I generally prefer the composing and storytelling through the other parts of the song. I am hoping to improve my lyric-writing though! I find some songs with such detail and little lyrics sometimes work better (like The 1975’s song “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It”).

Besides being a musician, you are also a skilled painter. You design all covers to your demos. Can we expect any exhibitions from you in the future?

That’d definitely be something I’d like to do one day! I’ve been experimenting with what subject matter I like to work with recently – animals and flowers have been fun to study.  Similarly to my music, it’s nice to have something to do as a break from work, and having stopped studying art at college I’ve been able to experiment more at my own pace and in my own style.

You are currently working towards a degree in law and philosophy. Do you think it is obligatory for musicians these days to have a proper education alongside their artistic endeavors?

It’s a matter of choice really.  I know some great musicians who are going to do degrees in music tech, which is a really good option for them.  I personally chose to go down a path not related to music so that I can enjoy lots of different things – Law is a subject that I really enjoy studying, whereas things like music and art I prefer to have more freedom over, and the option to pick it up as and when I have the inspiration.  I’ve personally found it harder to work creatively under time constraints. However if that works for other musicians that’s great for them!  I think everyone should consider what would be best for them in the long run, but that may be a music-based career/education for some people.

We know you prefer to take your audience by surprise. But what should we expect from Jodie Hughes in the months or years to come?

I’m hoping to go a bit more electronic maybe.  I’ve been looking into getting hold of an Akai Miniak – my dad has two he uses for gigs  and there’s so much you can do with them.  That’s definitely something I’m interested in.  Again, I’m hoping to have more time to write and record more after exams, perhaps re-recording some of my old songs and updating them a bit.  Who knows, I may even start new projects while I’m at university!

Focused, fiercely independent and always looking for new artistic endeavours, Jodie Hughes has no match on local music scene. She has created a whole league of her own.

****

Jodie Hughes – Mixtapes and Metaphors (EP review)

Mixtapes and Metaphors
EP cover

“Mixtapes and Metaphors” is a digital EP or a collection of home recordings that Jodie released between 2015 and 2017. It contains the following original compositions: Angel Statue, Crazy Scientist, Don’t Talk To Me About Death, Small Talks, unfinished version of New Years and the title track Mixtapes and Metaphors.  Each song is accompanied by a mysterious drawing, often a study of animals, human faces or natura morta.  Most tracks can be qualified into singer/songwriter category bringing comparisons with Amy McDonald or Courtney Barnett.  Don’t Talk to Me about Death stands out thanks to very personal lyrics and angry vocals, while Angel Statue incorporates keyboards, samples and has a vivid shoegaze feel to it, including distorted vocals that make Jodie Hughes sound eerily like Belinda Butcher. Somebody please call Creation Records!

On April 14th, Jodie released a new demo – Lake Water (Blue) – this time playing with synthesizers and electronica.

We thought you would like to see the covers of Jodie`s demos. They are spectacular.

Don`t talk to me about death cover

Crazy Scientist cover

Lake Water (Blue) cover

Angel Statue cover.
(word of advice -Don`t blink!)

You can read this interview (in a shorter form) in the April 2017 issue of Slap Magazine:

Interview with Jodie in April edition of Slap Mag

Page 2 of the interview printed in Slap Mag (April 2017)

Online version of the magazine can be found here:

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-68-april-2017.pdf

or you can download the file directly from here:

issue-68-april-2017

You can follow Jodie Hughes using the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/jodiehughesmusic
http://www.worcestermusicfestival.co.uk/bands/Jodie-Hughes/
https://soundcloud.com/jodiehughesmusicandstuff
https://twitter.com/JodieHMusic

****

Independent Venue Week 2017 

Ad for UNCOVER – club night organized every month in Worcester at the Marrs Bar. This was launching night on 26.01.2017 to celebrate Independent Venue Week

Last week of January is usually dedicated to independent music venues across the country.  Worcester is a home to Marrs Bar, which is both proudly independent and ran with the local music scene in mind. On 26th January 2017, Marrs Bar hosted an opening night of UNCOVER – a local club night, while simultaneously taking part in Independent Venue Week.

UNCOVER invited some esteemed guests to play in Worcester: Anteros and Rhythm Method (London) and  The Assist (Birmingham). Jodie has been invited to represent home town scene and opened the night with a semi acoustic set.

Flyer advertising club night UNCOVER with Jodie on the bill.

It is always fun to see the jaws drop when Jodie enters the stage and beings to sing. If the audience expects a clone of Taylor Swift or Duffy belting out covers, then they are in for big disappointment.  Jodie presented a set consisting of her own tunes with occasional rendition of a song by The Neighbourhood. And she sang in such a passion and verve  like she headlined John Peel Stage at Glasto.  The audience had goose bumps and once again comparisons to Bilinda Butcher were uttered in whispers. And we won`t be lying to tell you that we have seen people leave the venue after seeing Jodie and The Assist. They did not even wait for the main act!

Jodie Hughes on stage at Marrs Bar opening for The Assist and Anteros.

Jodie opening Independent Venue Week with her performance at the Marrs Bar on 26.01.2017

After her mesmerizing set, Jodie was compared to both Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Bilinda Butcher (My Bloody Valentine)

We at Vanadian Avenue thought that such a successful debut called for a celebration. Or at least a present. Few days before the gig, we framed the poster and  handed it to Jodie once she came off stage. Here she is holding the poster with her name on it. A small memento of her big night.

Jodie posing with poster with her name on it. Framed poster was presented to her as memento.

You can see the review of the gig at Slap magazine:

Review of UNCOVER in Slap Magazine

 

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-66-february-2017.pdf

Or you can download the file here:

issue-66-february-2017

We hope that you have enjoyed this issue of Indieterria and we will surely come back to update you on Jodie`s future plans and gigs.

Ta,

Malicia/Rita

 ****Update 30/06/2017****

Tickets for Battle of The Bands at the Worcester Rugby Club, 23rd June 2017

Flyer for the event

All you good, good people – listen to us. Time has come to introduce you to The Lightweights, a project where Jodi Hughes plays guitar and shares vocal duties. We have mentioned the band before, but in our interview we wanted to focus on Jodie alone.

Now, that we have seen The Lightweights live, we can put our stamp of approval  on them and encourage you to catch them on stage if you have a chance.

The Lightweights are a quartet consisting of Alex Russell (drums), Fiona Berry (rhythm guitar), Jodie Hughes (vox, lead guitar) and Euan Richardson (vox, bass).

The Lightweights on stage

Jodie Huges and Euan Richardson – opposites attract

We had a real pleasure to see Lightweights during The Battle of The Bands at the Worcester Rugby Club on 23rd July 2017 and they made an impact all right. Performing as a trio (Fiona Berry is on sabbatical), the band  is a very contemporary twist on American college rock, combining energy of Hole with harmonies and dynamics of Veruca Salt as Jodie and Euan take turns at the microphone. The youngest of the lot Alex (he is just 14) kept the perfect rhythm and it seemed so effortless for him. It is hard not to compare Euan to legendary bass woman Kristen Pfaff – with her dark flowing hair and elaborate stage outfit.  She and Jodie contrast and yet complete each other. Lack of second guitarist was felt, but it did not slow the band at all. We can only hope Fiona will return shortly so we can enjoy The Lightweights in their full line up.

Euan Richardson of The Lightweights

Jodie Hughes of The Lightweights

He bangs the drum – Alex Russell of The Lightweights

We grabbed some merch (pins and mirrors) from the band and count the night to be a perfect one.

Pin and mirror

Merch (front)

You can follow The Lightweights are the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/TheLightweightsBand/
https://www.instagram.com/thelightweightsband/

M/R

 ****Update 03/07/2017****

Worcester Carnival Flyer

We will return to The Lightweights for a moment as we managed to catch them live on July 1st 2017 as part of the Worcester Carnival and as usual they were stunning.  Jodie, Alex and Euan opened the stage dedicated to Worcester School of Rock and delivered 45 minutes show  despite scorching heat. Those kids may be young, but they are professional to the core. Rain, shine, 37 degrees in the shade – doesn’t matter. The band will play and the crowd will have a lot of fun.

The Lightweights at Worcester Carnival

If you haven’t heard of Worcester School of Rock and Performance before, then listen carefully – because this organisation has been operating in town for twenty years. They hold music courses for anyone between eight and eighteen and coach young musicians to be able to perform on stage as part of a – yes, you guessed it – rock band. Young artists not only learn their craft, but also polish their stage presence and get to know how to co-operate in a group. You don’t have to end up being new Rolling Stones but the skills acquired at the school will be useful thought your adult life. Nothing beats creativity and willingness to work with others.

Worcester Carnival performance by The Lightweights

The school  has regular shows at Marrs Bar (our prime venue in town), Mapp Fest and several other music events though out the year. If you feel like joining – please use the links below.  And the coolest news of the day is that on July 14th – WSRP will hold a gig at Marrs Bar and guess who is on the bill.

The Lightweights performing for Worcester Carnival on July 1st 2017

Yep The Lightweights will be rocking out and we have cameras at the ready. So expect another update to this blog. We can`t get enough of Jodie, Alex and Euan. To see them live, pleasure and privilege is ours.

Twenty years of Worcester School of Rock!

https://www.facebook.com/W.S.R.P.worcester
http://www.wsrp.co.uk/

M/R

Indieterria meets The Fidgets

Hello Dear Music Explorers,

The Fidgets are not worse than Lisa Loeb. They have some fashionable glasses as seen in the band`s logo

Indieterria has retreated to more familiar waters . Once a month we will be giving exposure to a local artist from music scene in Worcester- acts that we believe have original sound, work hard and bring something new to the sonic table. First on our list are The Fidgets – jangle pop duo that may put our city on a musical map quicker than you are able to say Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Mixing influences ranging from The Beatles, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones to The Kinks and The Byrds, The Fidgets begin where Cast and The LA`s have left in the 90s. That makes them unique on the whole indie scene at the moment.  The newest act with similar sound are The No-Ones (project that  includes Peter Buck of REM), so you can see how high is the bar for Max and Ryan.

Not only we sat with The Fidgets for an interview, but also got to hear their new single.  We tell you – this town has some amazing scene and we are here to chronicle it!

Move along people – much to see below!

Max and Ryan photographed by Josh Foster https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

From buskers to cathedral town heroes

These days, it is hard to imagine the High Street in Worcester without two distinctive figures busking around. With their signature glasses on,  guitars in hands and voices in perfect unison – The Fidgets have become an important feature in Worcester.  A ray of hope to put the town back on a music map. With a vision and passion, The Fidgets cultivate pop melodies and vocal harmonies placing themselves in a league on their own on an indie scene saturated with noise and postpunk rebellion. We`ve met the band to see what they have got in store for 2017.

You are one of the most prolific bands in West Midlands at the moment. But for those who may not be familiar with your history, please introduce yourselves.

Hi! We’re The Fidgets!! The two of us – that would be Ryan Skidmore and Max Stockin – met in 2012 when Max answered an ad placed by Ryan on http://www.joinmyband.com for musicians inspired by ‘60s pop music, and especially The Beatles. We played live for the first time in March 2013 (coming up for four years!) and we’ve played God knows how many times since then – the 500th gig was early last year.

Your music is a mix of classic rock, blues, northern soul and mod revival. Quite unusual for today`s pop music climate. Who are your sonic heroes?

The Beatles, of course! Everything comes back to them, it’s been nothing short of an obsession for years! Around that, our influences are really varied, we both love ‘50s and ‘60s pop in general and the two of us each have our own little avenues. Max is very into Blues and Country music, he’s a big fan of Teddy Thompson, and he’s a huge fan of Chuck Berry. Ryan is a very big fan of modern pop and is currently very much into The 1975 and Ed Sheeran. We both love loads of stuff, but the bulk of our influence definitely comes from the ‘60s.

Looking into the future.
photography by Josh Foster https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

The band seems to be moving on up at incredible speed. Your first EP (“I`m Alright”) came out in 2015 to local acclaim and well attended gigs . You followed last year with another EP “Its Only You” and immediately were invited to do BBC Introducing session. It must have been a quite an experience.

I suppose things are moving a bit fast! It never looks that way from the inside, you don’t have time to think about it, everything just goes by in a bit of a blur, it’s only when you look back that you realize what you’ve done. 2016 was big for us! We did a handful of things for the BBC which was exciting! Of course, The Introducing session was fantastic, and the crowd at the Christmas Lights Switch-On was amazing.

BBC Hereford & Worcester placed you at no 7 of the best bands for 2017. Slap Magazine previously described your music as “brilliant”. With such a strong support from local audience and the press, The Fidgets truly are on a brink of better things to come. Does the band feel it too?

Honestly we don’t know what’s going to happen! It definitely feels like things are getting bigger now, but we’ve been in the game a lot longer than anyone remember us for! We’re very excited for the future, but we try not to get cocky!

Recently Worcester News ran a controversial article about new busking scheme to be introduced in town, placing you on the front cover of the paper. Are you getting used to attention?

Definitely, yeah. We’ve been well known around Worcester since the tail end of 2015 and it’s rare for us to go out without being recognized now. It has really picked up recently though! Around Christmas time we were chased through Crowngate Shopping Center by a teenager and her mum for a signed CD and a hug! That kind of thing is getting quite common. It’s brilliant, but it hasn’t stopped being strange!

Worcester News with The Fidgets on the cover,
Every publicity is good publicity

Sometimes you expand for your performances. Would you tell us about the musicians you work with?

We’ve put together a backing band! Dave Whittaker, our bassist, was a friend socially first, we saw each other a lot at the Marr’s Bar on Wednesday open mic nights and he’s a great player. He was the natural choice. Our drummer Jack Bowles went to Sixth Form with Ryan in Bromsgrove, and Ryan had his eye on him from a band even before he was in one. He’s amazing.

Gracing the covers. The Fidgets in Slap Magazine
Cover photo by Josh Foster
https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

Your new single “Everywhere I Go” comes out in March. It will be accompanied by a video. Can you tell us more about it?

We’ve had to put off the release of the single until later in the month unfortunately (technical difficulties!) We shot the video around the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, and we’ve just had a first full draft come through as we speak. We’re very proud of it, it’s a big step up from what we’ve done before and it’s the first of our videos to feature anyone other than ourselves.

The band has been teasing big things to come in 2017. What should we expect? New material? Festival appearances?

Well, we can’t give away too much I’m afraid! But 2017 is already looking like a big one. Yes there will definitely be new material with an EP being released in May and yes we are already booked in for festivals in the summer at Mello Festival and Severn Sounds Festival on the main stage and there’s guaranteed to be more confirmed soon. Watch this space!

Slap Magazine cover
Photo by Josh Foster
Slap Magazine interview (page one)
Photography by Josh Foster
https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

You have also been involved in collaboration with Royal Shakespeare Company. Can you disclose any details about this project?

Ah we’re very happy to be a part of it! I’d love to tell you what it is but I don’t have a copy of our contract handy and it’s possible we’ve been sworn to secrecy! Besides, we don’t like to spoil our surprises. When there’s something to know, you’ll know!

The Fidgets went from busking to heroes of a cathedral city. Where do you see yourself in the years to come?

Heroes is a bit strong, but thank you very much! We’re very proud of where we’ve got to already and things can only get better in the future! We’ve got all sorts of big ambitions but everyone knows if you tell wishes they don’t come true!! Just keep an eye on the charts and we’ll see what happens shall we? We like big dreams. Unrealistic is our thing!

Eager to prove themselves but playing cards to their chest – The Fidgets are on their way into promising future. With a new release, a single, home coming gigs and an upcoming festival season – they cannot fail. Here`s to the boys that sing.

***

The Fidgets  – “Everywhere I Go” (single review)

The cover for Everywhere I go single, photo by Josh Foster
https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

Worcestershire based duo, The Fidgets are releasing their new single “Everywhere I Go” this month. SLAP magazine was lucky to hear it first and we can report that this melodious, 60’s inspired love song is going to be a new fan favorite.

“Everywhere I go” opens up a new chapter in the bands history, proving that The Fidgets have evolved and matured considerably since their last release “It’s only you” in 2016 and became a truly unique, pure-blooded rock and roll act deserving their place on the BBC Hereford and Worcestershire list of bands to look out for this year.

The mid tempo, Beatlesque three minute single is filled with perfect harmonies, catchy riffs and will undoubtedly have the crowds swinging and singing along. It also has a distinctive Northern vibe to it, with Max Stockin sounding eerily similar to  Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Fans of classic rock, The LA’s and The Cast will have a chance to catch The Fidget rocking the Marrs Bar on March 17th.

Banner for the single release on Spotify

The single is accompanied by obligatory music video:

If you are on Spotify, listen here:

 

***

 

The Fidgets in full line up with Jack Bowles and Young-Dave Whittaker recording a session for BBC Introducing 18.09.2016

If you wan to follow The Fidgets – please use these links:

http://www.thefidgets.com/
https://soundcloud.com/the-fidgets
https://www.facebook.com/thefidgetsband
https://twitter.com/TheFidgets
https://www.instagram.com/the_fidgets/

Part of the band`s charm are the session musicians that support Max and Ryan on stage: drummer Jack Bowler (EMPYRE/Willow Robinson) and  Young-Dave Whittaker. This rhythm section is so powerful, they are locally nicknamed as Worcester`s own  Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce.  Kid you not.  Many a band lined up to work with Dave and Jack but to no avail. Max and Ryan know that you should never change a winning team.

You can follow Young-Dave and  Jack below:

https://www.facebook.com/jack.bowles.520
https://www.facebook.com/youngdave.whittaker

 

Slap Magazine interview (page one)
Photography by Josh Foster
https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

 

Slap Magazine interview (page two)
Photography by Josh Foster
https://www.facebook.com/joshf627

You can  see this interview in Slap Magazine for March 2017

http://www.slapmag.co.uk/slap-issues/issue-67-march-2017.pdf

or you can download the copy here:

issue-67-march-2017

That`s all from us for now. We hope you had fun reading.

Mal/Rita

****Update 18.03.2017****

It`s their party and they can rock if they want to!

We have written on our blog before that The Fidgets were to headline a home coming gig on March 17th at Marrs Bar in Worcester. What we have not mentioned to the band is that we planned to treat them to an unexpected cake-and-candles party. See, both Ryan and Max celebrate their bday within one week from each other and it was just too good not to use this opportunity.  So Vanadian Avenue ventured to the gig armed with two huge chocolate torts, candles, napkins, lighters, paper trays and a spatula.

The Fidgets took their headlining duties very seriously and  delivered 1,5 h set filled with their original material and covers. Guests came on stage to join the band for certain performances and the entire audience had a wonderful time, one by one slipping into the darkest corner of the venue to sign cards for the birthday boys.

When the last song came to an end  cakes were brought on to the stage and signed cards were handed. Max and Ryan had each a chance to blow the candles and make a wish.  Each member of the public was given a piece of the chocolate tort (you should always bring a spatula to the party) and the audience roared an out of tune birthday song.  Top night. Some pictures for you to enjoy below:

The Fidgets perform at Marrs Bar on March 17th 2017

Performance ends with a bow

Cakes!

Make a wish

Till the next time kids. We are off to find some alka seltzer.

Mal/Rita

Indieterria – all-on-board

All you good, good people – listen to this!

If you are confused, check with the sun

If you are confused, check with the sun

Music on Vanadian Avenue always had a strong presence. Few years ago, we ran a very successful series of interviews: Burton C Bell (Fear Factory/Ascension of The  Watchers), Valerie Kaye (Valium  of legendary  Pist On), Edu Mussi (Echoes and Shadows), John & Brittany or Steve Howard of Arado among others:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/category/interview/

Last year, we used Twitter to start showcasing new bands and discovered gems like Liines, TommyAndMary or The Lucettas:

http://www.weareliines.com/
http://www.tommyandmary.co.uk/
https://soundcloud.com/the-lucettas

This year we want to try something different.  Again.

We will compose our own  alternative/counterculture best of 2017 – by presenting one artist a week  though-out  the year.  We will give MNE a run for their money (they just produced a list of 100 bands to watch this year and most of them have been on the radar for at least two years) and create proper sound of 2017 as it unfolds.

So welcome to our new installment – Indieterria.

This section of the blog takes its name by mashing a famed night club (Danceteria) with a Latin word terra and focuses on the indie music.

We like to think of it as a musical atlas for new sonic landscapes. We`ll allow artists to take us on a journey  and see what we can find. One or two trips a month. We hope to discover islands, landmasses and  even entire continents.

All entries will be showcased below for easy access:

Discovery 1: Tigerside (Salford, Manchester)
Discovery 2: The Fidgets (Worcester)
Discovery 3: Jodie Hughes/The Lightweights (Worcester)
Discovery 4: Michael Knowles and The STDs (Ledbury/Hereford/Worcester)
Discovery 5: nth cave (Worcester)
Discovery 6: Jesse River Dylan Murray (Worcester)

If you like what we do on Indieterria or you would like to suggest an artist to showcase, you can let us know via blog, email or social media (we are setting those up, we know it’s a high time):

https://www.facebook.com/VanadianAvenue
Mal/Rita

In defense of buskers!

Hello dear readers,

We have 2017 already and first post of the year is actually an open letter. Rita and I would like to say a few paragraphs in defense of buskers and street artists. What`s the story (morning glory) you may ask? Well, Worcester City Council decided to crack down on performers in the city and make their lives more difficult than it is really needed.

Our local daily Worcester News ran the new cultural policy on the front page this morning. First day after Christmas break, we were happily about to deal with our office backlog and then – bang! Who needs coffee if you have news like this.

You can read the story here

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14993207.Busking_crackdown_to_be_launched_in_Worcester_city_centre/

or enjoy the scans we did so the generations to come can face palm in sheer despair:

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017 Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017
Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 - the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 – the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

We have no idea why culture and arts are under constant attack in West Midlands. Sometimes, it does feel like living out New Model Army`s Small Town England.  But onto the meritum.

The letter below has been sent to Worcester News as our reply to the Council policy, but we decided to also publish it on the blog.

Read on and as Sepultura used to say: Refuse/Resist.

*********************

Dear Worcester News (and Dear Worcester City Council, if you happen to read it – but we do not raise our hopes up)

We are writing this letter in response to the proposed regulation of busking in Worcester. We would love to see said document in full to be able to read into it. Unfortunately it seems, the draft is not available online for the public to see. However points mentioned in Worcester News raise several alarms and we would like to tackle them one by one.

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Before we do it, allow us to quote some data regarding music and creative industries in the UK, as it is essential. According to MusicWeek magazine and Measuring Music 2016 report, music added £4.1 billion to the economy in 2015. Despite problems, the industry was rising 90% in the last 4 years. GVA (gross value added) for the industry was 17%, outgrowing other branches of British economy by 11%.

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that music consumption rose 1,5% to 123 million album sales in 2016. 45 billions streams (including 1 billion streams in December 2016 alone), 3.2 million units of vinyl sold. British acts such as Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne, The Rolling Stones and Skepta dominated charts this year. All in all – this is a booming business.

But that’s just one side of 2016. Last year we have lost a generation of  musical icons (David Bowie, Prince, George Michael just to name a few) and independent artists (Viola Beach), many small venues and clubs have been closed (40% of small venues had shut doors in the last decade).

Where does that leave us? A booming business with no big stars but many smaller artists who are trying to compete on the field but have no places to perform.  Enter busking.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Playing in the streets is not a new phenomena. Every artist started out in this manner (even the biggest names), but these days people will see much more buskers than before. Kids getting experience is one explanation, lack of venues is another, access to the public is a third but not a final answer. There are many more reasons why we see an artist performing on every corner. We may like it or not, busking is growing and is becoming not only a chosen way of artistic expression but an important branch of the industry.
There is nothing wrong with regulating busking within the city. London did it and their code is fantastic and user friendly.  Tenbury Wells did it.  Even Transport for London has their own busking scene and licenses. A whole range of tools has been employed by different localities (artists are encouraged to use smaller amps to avoid high levels of noise, special spaces are designed for artists, buskers are required to have public liability cover, curfews are established to ensure that nobody plays at night) and they are working.  Whoever been to London`s Oxford Street and seen iconic TommyAndMary duo perform their punk rock set will admit that even the loudest music can be incorporated into city life with relatively no side effects. If Worcester City Council wanted to draw inspiration for their own regulation, there are many templates ready to use.

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

However we have our doubts that Worcester City Council wants to regulate busking. It seems like the only agenda behind this regulation is to  eliminate artists in general by making their street performance so hard that they will simply give it up.

Let`s have a look at some of the proposals drafted:

–    No buskers within 50 meters from each other – Worcester on a daily basis is much quieter than other cities. On average we will have two buskers performing at the same time. Even during festivals and carnivals, we can hardly see artists being that close to each other. We can honestly think of 5 spots around the city where buskers play (most common will be in front of Debenhams).  This seems to be a non issue – as we don’t see Worcester becoming Glasto of busking anytime soon.

–    No busking between 9 pm and 8 am – that seems to be fair point and we dont have arguments with keeping a night time peace at all. We had to slightly adjust this part of the blog post as the fantastic Collective 43 pointed out that during Christmas Fayre, they played late slot until 8:45 pm (we checked metadata on the pic and it corresponds). Originally, we thought it was later than that! We truly hope that some exceptions will be however made for carnivals and festivals anyway in the draft, especially in summer when days are longer and music can flow a bit more. Being on the town on Friday night can be a good testament to the fact that many pubs or clubs are much more louder past 9 pm than a person with a guitar and an amp. Also, please note that entertainment part for Christmas Lights Switch On started last year so early (before 5 pm) that most people had to miss it. Music can`t last too long  that is obvious but it cannot start too early- otherwise who will have time to come and see the event?

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

–    Bans on any sign inviting people to pay money – London Busking Code has this as a rule: “Busking shouldn’t be confused with begging. Buskers put a lot of effort into their act, give a performance and entertain the public”. We are not sure if Worcester City Council has our local artists for beggars or if they have been deceived on the sizes of signs that artists use. Most of them have a hand-made note with their name. Some performers,  like Bristol based Saskia Griffiths-Moore who visited Worcester in September 2016 had a small sign telling people that she was fully independent artist funded by sales of her CDs. Ban on signs is being enforced only in Worcester and seems harmful, if not perverse.  Another point is that Councillors should really peek into the bowls and hats of buskers if they have a chance. They will not see big fortunes unfortunately. This part of the draft should be dropped and forgotten. The fastest, the better.

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

–    Maximum performance of 45 minutes afterwards artist must leave the area for 2 hours – this rule has only one explanation. To limit performance of musicians as much as possible and to make Worcester even more quiet than it is. Did we forget that Worcester is a market town? By definition it should be lively, bubbly and full of sounds. Worcester is visited by artists from many cities: Birmingham (like Obi Rudo – Belgian/Congolese rapper who calls UK his home) or Bristol (Saskia or Shemakeswar or Rita Lynch) or Oxford (B-Sydes) or even Cardiff.  If an artist is traveling for few hours by train to reach us, why limit them to 45 minutes of performance? Can`t we give them at least one hour? And with so little of good busking spots, and little revenue they get – do we think it will be profitable for artists to visit Worcester? They will just skip us and make us all culturally poorer.

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist - Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist – Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

–    An agreement to stop performing  on a request by police, Council workers etc. – So not even 45 minutes is guaranteed.  Because it seems that so many people will have the power to silence artists, it won`t be even possible to play a few songs. Nothing short of censorship in our book. But who needs artists and culture anyway? We have a statue of Elgar on High Street.

–    Complaints from shop owners about the noise – We can`t speak about every shop keeper in town but there seems to be a good relationship between artists and shop/stall owners. CrownGate has a small scene in the middle of their shopping arcade where artists can perform. We have spoken to many buskers and people who listen to street music in the past year and there was only one instance of loud music being complained about (the performer was a dancer and not a musician). Can we know how many complaints about buskers were lodged with the Council in the last year? In summer Worcester welcomed a whole brass band Gugge 2000. They were ace but very loud. Our ears were ringing for two days and it was fine.

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

We love music and had a chance to see not only fantastic local artists (Amie, Stolen Chocolates, Ken Pollock, Neil Ivison, The Fidgets, Jodie Hughes) but respected artists as well (Nigel Clark of Dodgy, Rita Lynch) perform in town. Some of the artists were busking. We acquired a handful of signed CDs. Seen breathtaking art (Richard Price and his paintings, tightrope walker who played a violin). We enjoyed each and every of the performances. We spent countless hours to promote those artists online as well, to put Worcester on a music map. We don’t understand why Council is trying to discourage art and music, instead of supporting it.

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

There`s so much to be done:

–     On 23 July 2016 London celebrated International Busking Day. 36 cities across UK joined the initiative, additional 100 around the world. But not Worcester. Why not?

–    At the end of January we celebrate Independent Venue Week – seven days of concerts to raise awareness of importance of small venues where artists can play. Worcester is only represented by The Marrs Barr. Is that all we can do?

–    We have The Fidgets – one of the most unique bands on the scene as we speak.  A group that continues the tradition of pure rock mixed with acoustic harmonies. The last band that played this way was Cast and that was 90s. The Fidgets have been on BBC Introducing. They busk around and build their own  fanbase. We wonder if Worcester City Council realizes the potential and opportunities being born from supporting local artists. 1 in every 100 jobs in Liverpool was created by The Beatles. Manchester has Oasis. We are not worse in this regard, we have our own local scene bursting with talent.

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

–    We won`t mention upcoming artists like Ewan Pollock, Jodie Hughes, Poppy WS or The Jevs – huge talents in their own right, just need some investment. Why can`t we have grants or stipends for artists like them?

–    Busking is not easy. Standing with a guitar in front of the public is one of the bravest acts an artist can do. Sometimes our artists are verbally harassed. We need designed spots where buskers can feel safe and where they can perform. Not the other way around.

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

–    Our buskers were freezing while playing during Victorian Fayre in 2016.  Is it really that much to offer them a complimentary tea or a sandwich for entertaining crowds? We are sure it wouldn’t cost a fortune.

–    We have Worcester Music Festival but some genres of music and possible venues are not considered. Not one concert for classical music was organized. St Helen`s Church (which can be a good venue) was standing empty. We would imagine that Council would be co-ordinating or at least contributing towards such initiatives.

We hope our letter won`t be seen as too critical. We are all for regulation but let`s regulate things in a safer, friendlier and  constructive way. Music and art have been bringing huge amounts of revenues and recognition to United Kingdom for decades, but to continue we must invest in them.

Kind regards,
Malicia & Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue

Some links to buck up claims in our letter:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38487837
http://www.musicweek.com/talent/read/music-makes-4-1-billion-contribution-to-uk-economy-in-2015-report/065919
https://www.bpi.co.uk/home/bpi-official-uk-recorded-music-market-report-for-2016.aspx
http://buskinlondon.com/code
https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/busking
http://buskinlondon.com/internationalbuskingday

All images taken by us albeit with a mobile phone. Pardon the quality.

*****************************

We will keep you posted once we hear more about this killer cultural procedure.

m/r

********* Update 04/01/2017************

Hello Dear Readers,

An update to our open letter – because we managed to gather more information.

When Worcester News broke the story yesterday, a great thing has happened. People came out and voiced their admiration for buskers and street artists. The story on Facebook had over 200 comments, many of them mentioning  our leading band in town – The Fidgets. It was fantastic to read the praises – we can only hope that there`s no doubt right now what a treasure and ray of joy The Fidgets really are.

Online comments regarding Worcester best band - The Fidgets - http://www.thefidgets.com/

Online comments regarding Worcester best band – The Fidgets – http://www.thefidgets.com/

Many people – like us – were upset because we were trying to find out the text of buskers code in Worcester and nothing was available. Not on the City Council web site or anywhere else. If one had persistence – after hours of pestering  Uncle Google, you could find these and they are not a joy to read.

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

It  seems to be a very old (decade old?) code of buskers used by Worcester City Council. The trouble with such finds is very simple. Undated documents  may be old, and  if they are not specific means they can be interpreted in many ways. That is why laws  or codes or T&C usually have to be very precise to be functioning.

The source link is this one

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/51281470/to-download-busking-in-worcester-code-of-practicepdf

Having just one source is not enough. To fully understand what changes are made we still needed the new code for comparison.

So when we went to bed, we were confused just like everybody else.

Thankfully today Worcester City Council stepped up to the task and provided a blog throwing a lot of light on the situation.

You can read it here – it contains the proposed new code and as you can see it is rather user friendly and longish and detailed.  Hear that sound – it’s a collective sigh of relief coming from everyone at Vanadian Avenue.

http://www.worcester.gov.uk/news-alerts/-/blogs/voluntary-busking-code-aims-for-a-lively-city-centre

We had a chat on Twitter with the Councils and we were provided with additional links. The new updated code for buskers was initiated in November 2016 and  is being prepared with Worcester BID and Keep Streets Live! Initiative (http://keepstreetslive.com/)

Please read the links below and if you are a busker or a local musicians, please get in touch and let City Council know what you think of the proposal:

http://committee.cityofworcester.gov.uk/documents/s37564/STREET/PERFORMANCES/CODE/Nov2016.pdf

http://committee.cityofworcester.gov.uk/documents/s37563/buskers/report203.pdf

That’s all for now folks,

M/R