Indieterria meets Happy Bones

Dear Readers,

Hey you! Iggy Cuthbert showing the way

When we started Indieterria fifteen months ago, we did not expect to be setting out on such a grand journey. And yet – here we are: spending nights editing and proof reading, interviewing musicians over Skype at 3AM while lying in bed with the lights out, talking to artists who continue to have meaningful careers while battling severe illness (Nic Evenett), watching brightest talents take on the world (nth cave). In our last chapter we profiled Junior Weeb – a band that had to grow up in the spotlight despite incredible personal tragedy.  Witnessing such stories makes us humble. We have realized that indie circuit – close and far – is full of incredible artists, who have strength, determination and their own unique voice.

Stepping outside comfort zones.

We will continue down this path with Iggy Cuthbert, known as Happy Bones. Iggy is a poet and songwriter based in Worcestershire, who has been leaving his mark on local scene in the last few years. Known for his dreamy lyrics and raw and emotional music, Iggy is an incredible person to interview.  He is fierce, open and raw. He is also shy and vulnerable and yet candidly speaks about his stage fright, death, highs and lows of being an artist in digital era. Please enjoy this interview and let`s take a walk on the wild side.

Sinking mud

Happy Bones made his mark on local scene, but for those not familiar with West Midlands indie circuit – tell us who is Iggy Cuthbert and why do you make such extraordinary music?

Happy Bones: Iggy Cuthbert is a pretentious persona I don’t really keep up with or know that well. I’m a writer and a singer, I suppose. I’ve grown to like the “folksinger” label. However, I always think of myself as a poet first. I can’t really write without a melody though, so I guess that’s why I do it. I make music because it’s the only thing that makes some sense to me. A lot of my songs jump around different topics and sometimes don’t make much sense, even to me. But that’s the way my brain seems to work. To me it’s a way of talking things out with myself, so it’s always a strange experience when I whisper my deepest, darkest secrets behind the mic (laughs). I enjoy it though.

You have been involved in organizing events and gigs for other artists as part of Boneyard Sessions. If you were to pick three  local acts that had the biggest impact on yourself – who would you recommend?

Happy Bones: I love all the bands we have put on so far, we always try and put on bands that we are excited about. Boneyard is a very selfish endeavour in that way. As for the three that are closest to my heart my first answer, perhaps the most obvious one, is nth cave. They’re my friends, I love them very much. They’re all extremely talented instrumentalists. You can tell they mean each note. Whenever I see them live, it feels like I’m discovering each of the notes all over again. Danni Timmins has a great way of delivering vocals, she makes it easy to get lost in the lyrics. Their song-writing is incredibly strong and clean, everything sounds tight, every word has a purpose. There are no clichés with that band. Hector and Fergus Brazier both work on Boneyard with me and I played some sets with Alfie Newman. I love them a lot. Following that, F. F. Ivanovski (Alfie Newman`s alter ego and solo project) is a sleepy but awakening experience. That boy sings in poetry covered in reverb. With some beautiful guitar work. Third would have to be Tom Forbes, his sets are a trip. He radiates confidence. He makes no mistakes, and if he does he works with them. He’s a real performer, his set for Boneyard Sessions really stuck with me.

In March 2017 you debuted with self titled EP. It included four tracks and was hailed as intimate and raw combination of lo-fi, folk and alternative with very strong song writing credits. You have been compared to Evan Dando, Stephen Joseph Malkmus of Pavement, Beck or even Ariel Pink. Slap Magazine called you ”a troubadour in the making”. Not a bad answer to a demo that has been written and recorded in about two weeks.

Happy Bones: I’ve always been writing songs and poems. I had a bit of a break after some old bands dissolved, I worked a shitty job that made me sad and I almost ruined one of my oldest friendships. So, of course, the most logical answer was to write an EP. I get distracted easily so a tight deadline worked for me in terms of keeping me motivated and inspired. Again, it was mostly therapy, and the fact that people enjoyed it made it seem some-what worthwhile. The “production” of the EP is pretty crude and simple, but I hope people listen to it with an open mind. When I counted down the days till the release most people thought I was counting down to something dark but I’m still around. I played harmonica on the EP, in hindsight that was a mistake (laughs). I tried to make the EP sound as if it’s an interview with a therapist or a doctor. I originally called it “The Grand Finale” (I think if you download the EP that’s still the title it has) because, I didn’t want to carry on with music after I released it. I was pretty demotivated at the time. I started studying literature and poetry at university, so I think I’ve come a long way in terms of maturing as an artist since that EP and I don’t really relate to it anymore, but it’s still very close to my heart. “I Surrender, I Give Up“ is probably the song that defines the whole EP well, I think? Again, I don’t really like that EP defining me as an artist anymore.

Iggy live

We absolutely love “Death Obsessed (Sketch #2)” from the EP, not only because of the fantastic lyrics. The entire composition is something like out of a secret diary of Syd Barrett.  Can you tell us more about this song?

Happy Bones: Thank you! I’m a huge fan of Syd Barret so that means a lot. “Death Obsessed” is more-or-less a true story. My mother tells me I was a different age when the swing incident mentioned in the song happened, but I chose to gloss over that. There’s still a pretty large scar on the back of my head for those that don’t believe the authenticity of it (laughs). “Death Obsessed” is about mortality and I suppose, existentialism. It’s about being stuck. It’s about the dark part of the human psyche that’s always nagging and telling you that time is running out, reminds you you’re ageing. That voice in the back of your head telling you that you don’t deserve to be happy. The song was inspired by one of my trips to the doctors trying to figure out what it is that’s making me feel blue and they said I was just a teenager. I’ve done some growing up since then and death is still on my mind. The last verse is the most important to me, I think it summarises the song perfectly. it’s about the empty effort of time endlessly pushing you forward but really, you’re going no-where. I don’t play that song as much anymore because of how close it has become to me. I don’t really like showing that side of me anymore. Being sad isn’t that original or cool anymore (laughs).

Last year you played Worcester Music Festival while also curating a scene for the festival. You seem to keep yourself occupied at all times.

Happy Bones: Playing the same shows I’m curating always makes me worried about what people might think my intentions might be. I suppose there’s stress from both sides: performance and promotion, but playing Boneyard Session shows just feels natural. Playing such gigs gives me a similar feeling I get when I’m just playing songs in my bedroom in front of my girlfriend or best friend.  I always get anxious about working with other promoters and sound engineers. On the other hand, I like stepping outside of the comfort zone of Boneyard Sessions. I want to be heard, and the only way that will happen is by forcing my music down everybody’s ears.

Happy Bones EP cover

You shared stage and collaborated with incredible amount of local artists: Alfie Newman (F.F. Idorovski), nth cave, Jesse River Dylan Murray, Ben Dallow, Luke Steele, Joe Norris, Tom Forbes, Sam Clines to name a few. Aren`t you sometimes tempted to form a band on your own?

Happy Bones: I always think about starting a band, I tend to write my songs as drafts that can easily be expanded. Myself and Hector Brazier (nth cave) are in talks but who knows what will happen? I’m used to playing on my own, but I get bored easily. I tend to write a lot and start hating my old songs. During most of my shows you’re very likely to hear a song that’s just been written the day before. Doing that would be harder with a band. I like the freedom I have as a solo performer, but I do miss my band days, I get lonely sometimes (laughs). I have a vision of creating a Woo-town supergroup made up of all the singer-songwriters I love. Big things might happen. Don’t forget about me, I still have a lot of songs in me.

You undergo a mesmerizing transition into a truly iconic performer. Where last year was a shy boy with guitar, now we see a confident Beatnik-esque young man unafraid to treat his skin as a canvas.  You  showcase some incredible inks on your socials and we have to admit, following your metamorphosis is very exciting and intimate experience. Was it a conscious decision to share this growing up process with the audience?

Happy Bones: Documenting my life was certainly not intentional. I feel like I have been doing some growing up as a person and as an artist. I still have a lot of bad days and I still shake on stage but it’s what I do and it’s all I think about. I can’t imagine working in an office, so I suppose I might as well give it all I’ve got and see what happens. There’s still a lot I have to learn, and I am learning with every set I play. As for social media, I like pretending that people care about what I do, and social media is an excellent illusion. I like sharing things and being as open and honest as I can. I want to show snippets of songs I’m working on and not worry about my voice slipping out of tune. I try to not worry about what people think of me based on my Instagram or Twitter feed. I don’t want to cultivate an image (the way so many people do) of being someone I’m not. I do really like the fact people are noticing a change. I like creating that intimate feel on stage or outside of it. I like to form connections with people and social media seems to be the way it happens today. A costume or a mask would definitely be more comfortable but what’s the point of pretending? It’s the same way as it is on stage.

Iggy Cuthbert (Happy Bones) performing live at Paradiddles, Worcester March 22

Tattoos have become another outlet, I suppose. I like the idea of art being permanently on my body. I like treating my body as a canvas, a record of my mistakes and so on. It’s more permanent than sketching but I like tattooing myself. Without meaning to sound cliché or pretentious, I do think it’s possibly the most primitive form of self-expression. I’ve given myself a couple of bad stick n’ pokes. I have a little sad face on my ankle. And some other little pieces on my legs and fingers. I like tattoos that don’t look like tattoos. I like them when they look like sketches out of a notebook. The ones you do at Uni when you’re bored. That’s kind of the way I see my songs. Just sketches that I churn out then forget about.  They all have a little part of me though.

 On March 30th 2018, you will support The Americas during an anticipated home coming show. Will we be able to hear some new material?

Happy Bones: Yes, it’s always a yes. I write songs all the time. Some of them no one will ever hear but some of them I’ll be brave enough to share. The Americas show might be the latter. I’m really excited. I’ve known the Americas for a while and they’re incredible artists. I’m  honoured to be asked to play their home-coming show I think it’s gonna be really special for everyone involved. I’ve seen Junior Weeb a couple of times, and I know they’re going to make a lot of noise that night too. It’s gonna be a party.

And while we are asking about the new stuff – when do you think we will see the follow up to Happy Bones EP?

Happy Bones: Yes! I don’t know when, but I’m in talks with Alex Knight, he recorded some wonderful artists: Chip Langley, Tyler Massey among others. I get bored easily though and I can never decide what to record. I always change my mind about what I want to sound like. One day soon there will be a new EP, maybe an album, maybe a collection of poems? Or maybe all three. I don’t know. I’m certainly not done yet. I have a lot of ideas and not too much time.

Lost in music

Over the last twelve months, you have been a recording and performing artist, you organized shows, promoted and booked other musicians. What`s the state of the indie scene in your opinion?  Is it all cut throat – dog eat dog world out there or have you seen reasons to be optimistic?

Happy Bones: The music scene in Worcester is wonderful and it’s scary and it’s intimidating and inspiring. It’s all the things you say and none of them at all. I wrote a song that I often dedicate to the indie scene titled “I hate being one of your kind” because Worcester and “the scene” are both easy places to get stuck in, I worry about that sometimes. I don’t want to get stuck. But I made some wonderful friends and we all have to help each-other out, that’s the whole motivation behind Boneyard Sessions for example. We all want to do this. I try and stay optimistic, it feels good to be a part of something. Something that’s definitely breathing. It’s a real honour to be able to have some (however small) impact on it. Worcester birthed The Americas, Junior Weeb, Tom Forbes, Ben Dallow, nth cave, Alfie Newman, Luke Steele, Joe Norris, Jesse River Dylan Murray, amongst many, many, many others. They are some of the most interest artists I’ve had the pleasure to watch and share the stage with. Worcester definitely has something to say. I don’t know what it is yet, but I hope we’re loud enough to say it.

Poster for upcoming gig with The Americas

Iggy Cuthbert will play Marrs Bar in Worcester with Junior Weeb and The Americas on March 30th. Its gonna be carnage and a sold out home show – we are warning you. So grab your tickets before they are gone.

https://www.facebook.com/events/266397940564769/
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/429992

In the meantime, you can visit Happy Bones online and listen to some quality music:

https://www.facebook.com/iggyhappybones/
https://twitter.com/iggster_69
https://soundcloud.com/iggyc
https://happybones.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/iggycuthbert/

That`s all for this episode of Indieterria. We will see you soon -ish,

Mal& Rita

****Update: 01/04/2018****

What can we say? The gig at Marrs Bar went by in a flash. We have been running around taking pictures,  videos, making sure we had some images from the green room. We also had enormous pleasure to see Iggy Cuthbert on a proper stage. When Happy Bones started, the room was still filling in – but he had a perfect combination of almost religious silence and a cheering crowd. Each song was performed to a focused audience and ended with an applause and calls for encores. In return Iggy spoke about his tunes, the stories behind them and debuted a new song “Bruised Knees” (we are hoping this is the right title) about a funeral of a young, anonymous girl. It must have been first time that we actually seen a person in Marrs Bar tear up when listening to a song. Iggy promised us tunes to cry to and he delivered.

Happy Bones performing at Marrs Bar

Powerful voice and dark lyrics.

Happy Bones is powerful on stage armed with just a guitar, his voice and his lyrics. He is coming out of the shadow of his collaborators and friends – nth cave at incredible rate and is firmly standing on his own as a writer and performer.

His new material is as dark as previously but the melodies come up front and you find yourself humming the chorus lines long after the song is finished.  We won`t lie – “Bruised Knees” caught us off guard with its intense and existential theme contrasting with a sophisticated pop melody. That is a formula that made The Smith legendary. Iggy is obviously learning from the best.

Vanadian Avenue agrees that everyone should see Iggy live.

Up close and personal – Iggy leave an impression on the audience

The coming months will be very interesting to observe as nth cave also enter studio and we may have a “battle of friends” on the Worcester scene.

If you missed the gig, here`s a video since we have now a YouTube channel!

And some extra photos from the green room.

Iggy Cuthbert (aka Happy Bones) backstage at the green room Marrs Bar 30.03.2018

Against the wall – Iggy Cuthbert

Iggy at the back of Marrs Bar.

Regards,
Mal+Rita

****Update 20/04/2018****

Worcestershire favourite indie poet has dropped a new single, so we did a review!

Happy Bones – “Just The Same”

Cover of Just The Same single – released on 16th April 2018

There is something captivating about Happy Bones (alter ego of Worcestershire based poet and  resident decadent – Iggy Cuthbert): messy hair, strange glasses, beanies and shirts, mysterious  tattoos, ethereal vocals and grim lyrics.

He changes like a chameleon. One day, he is a Harry Potter of indie circuit – a kind of rebellious prodigy, then you see him live and he creates this semi acoustic and mesmerizing show only to shake you back to your senses using all sorts of sonic effects that would make Ash Bowie of Polvo jealous.

There is also an aura of defiance in whatever Iggy Cuthbert is doing. He could have easily cast himself as a traditional folk singer and fill coffee houses and clubs in a large city with a buzzing university campus. Instead, he lives in a market town in West Midlands and sings to small but dedicated audiences. He could provide his listeners with produced to perfection poetic songs, yet he releases homemade demos and subscribes to the ethics of lo-fi movement: scratches, background noise, disregard to quality et all.

Even his name is contradictory – Happy and Bones. Iggy Cuthbert obviously found a formula to keep all those opposites together and merge them into one coherent artistic and musical persona, but don’t expect him to reveal the ingredients.

Iggy Cuthberg performing at Firefly, Worcester 22.02.2018

And why should he? He seems to find enjoyment in confusing his audience and keep them on their toes.

Expecting a single release in a regular way with sponsored ads, competitions, likes and shares? Not here, not this artist.

In a fashion that reminds of antics of Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, Iggy posted series of  Instagram stories showing him smoking heavily, looking like he was about to suffer a nervous breakdown and counting days to something. Could have been new material, could have been a walk to the bridge. Fans could  guess.

On 16th April a new song appeared on Happy Bones` Soundcloud and Bandcamp entitled “Just The Same”. Illustrated by a simple graphics with flowers in a vase, it featured Iggy Cuthbert on guitar and vocals, Alfie Newman on guitar and Hector Brasier on drums.  Alfie and Hector belong to  incredibly popular in Worcester dream pop/shoegaze outfit nth cave and this is the closest collaboration yet between nth cave and Happy Bones.

Bringing together nostalgic lyric with mid tempo lo-fi dark folk composition, hypnotic drums and loops echoing in the background, Iggy Cuthbert once again delivered a single that escapes all forms of description. Full of strange effects yet easily memorable, evocative and haunting, radio friendly and yet meeting all the requirements of a niche circuit that prides itself in being alternative.

Even trying to review the song, makes you feel like a dork.

Happy Bones is definitely placing himself in the same league as Pinning for Sunshine,  Lowpines or  Joshua Burnside. Yet  I keep  on hearing small nodes to Grant Lee Buffalo or Evan Dando and it catches me off guard time and time again. For 3 minutes folky song, “Just The Same” has so many layers, it makes your jaw drop.

There is one regret here though. It really begs for a better mix. If only to fully appreciate all the small sound bits that happen in the background. I know it goes against the indie ethos but damn it.

It has so much potential.

“Just The Same” can be purchased from Iggy Cuthbert`s official shops at:

https://soundcloud.com/iggyc/just-the-same
https://happybones.bandcamp.com/track/just-the-same

Do yourself a present and get your copy of the single.

Mal+Rita

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Indieterria meets Junior Weeb

Welcome again!

Winter months have been a very busy period for your favourite independent A&R’s. We traveled to gigs, went to Indiecon conference in London, took pictures, filmed shows, handled merch, sent countless emails and wrote reviews and articles about our lovely Worcester Wave bands. The rest of March will leave us very little time to relax as well, but we love what we do!

Last time, we spoke to Lower Loveday – an exciting new rock group that makes a name for themselves on the indie circuit. Today we have something for lovers of young, hip and alternative rock with fuzzed guitars, wall of sound and catchy melodies.

Do we have your attention? Good – please read our conversation with a band that is quickly following the trails of Soeur and The Americas, leaving jaws on the (dance) floor and an insatiable craving for their full-bloodied debut album.

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Promotional picture of the Weebs

 

Growing-up in the spotlight

Almost a year and a half ago, when we saw Junior Weeb for the first time, we were not impressed. They played a short set and compared to other acts performing that night, we didn’t think the young quarter had any future. How wrong we were! In recent months, Junior Weeb underwent almost miraculous transformation. Their stage presence is electric, their writing improved to the point where their songs could easily conquer the Top 40. Everything about them is matured, sophisticated and exciting.

Luckily for us, the band do not hold grudges and we didn’t have to beg for second chances to interview them. Chris Phee and the company were a joy to talk about their humble beginnings, self-(re) discovery and their upcoming music.

Official bio: Junior Weeb are an indie funk/alternative rock four-piece hailing from Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. With hard-hitting bass grooves, soulful vocals and sticky guitar licks, Junior Weeb take their influences from a catalogue of different genres hoping to create a finished product that pleases your ears.

Chris Phee (rhythm guitar and lead vocals)
Max Killing (bass guitar and backing vocals)
Joe Webby (lead guitar)
Quentin Hill (drums)

Junior Weeb’s official bio mentions that the band was formed at the beginning of 2016. Tell us more about the beginnings of your musical journey? Where did you meet and who is in the band?

Junior Weeb: We’ve all been close mates since high school. To begin with, we were in 2 different bands, one of our old bandmates had a house party where we all played in his kitchen. This brought us closer together musically so we formed a super group called Junior Weeb in around February 2015 and thus discovered our mutual love and trust in music. We have the soulful enigma that is Chris Phee on rhythm guitar and vocals, Max Killing slapping da bass and vocals, man like Weeb (Joe Webby) providing that sticky lead guitar and the big friendly giant Quentin Hill smashing the shit out of those tubs like.

The Press and your fans affectionately refer to you either as The Weebs or The Juniors. Where the name “Junior Weeb” does comes from?

Junior Weeb: (laughing) Our guitarist Joe has the nickname “Weeb”. We don’t refer to him as Weeb anymore because of the association with the band. He said that if he ever had a son he would want it to be called Junior Weeb. We laughed but never really thought of it as a band name. It wasn’t until many weeks of arguing and moaning about the band name that we referred back to what he said and we finally settled with Junior Weeb. It was something catchy, funny and relatable to the band. We also happen to be the first website that pops up when you type our name into Google. Mad isn’t it?

We have to admit, when we`ve seen you for the first time, we were not into your music. Watching the band for a second time, a year later – we have fallen in love with Junior Weeb. Yours is the biggest, most impressive musical development on the local scene in recent years. Can you tell us what drives you, what keeps you focused?

Junior Weeb live on stage

Junior Weeb: We’re very happy with the progress we’ve made in the last year or so. We all study music at Kidderminster College and the tuition we’ve received has definitely kept us motivated and driven. Our musicianship has developed, each player is learning their instrument well and we’re listening to all kinds of music at the moment which is driving us to succeed. Some of the bands we’ve played/become acquainted with are doing some really great things at the moment which is also inspiring and a gentle reminder that we need to get our arse in gear.

It’s the beginning of the year and 2018 looks very busy for you already. On 17th of February you played at Mr Wolf’s in Bristol, where you supported two other WorcesterWave bands: Soeur and HVMM. You have opened for Soeur before at a sold out home-coming gig at the Marr’s Bar. How does it feel to perform alongside your friends? Have they offered any advice?

Junior Weeb:  Soeur has looked after us a lot over our musical journey and we couldn’t thank them enough for the support. We feel honoured to be playing alongside such talented songwriters who are so lovely and kind.  We don’t think we’ve ever had any advice from Soeur but we know how dedicated and driven they are. They have put so much hard work and passion into their music, they’re probably the most organised band we’ve played with and they deserve all the recognition they are getting. Playing with Soeur has definitely inspired us to work harder and organize ourselves respectively. We love you Soeur! XXX (laughing)

You shared stages with many popular independent acts such as Muncie Girls, The Riscas, Ivory Wave and The Americas. How important, in your opinion, is the close fellowship between different bands on the indie circuit? Is the Worcester scene supportive towards new starting acts?

Junior Weeb: In our opinion, we think the fellowship between bands on the indie circuit is very important. We’ve had some great opportunities recently and as long as we’re all supporting each other, things are gonna keep ticking along. The Worcester scene is always supportive to new bands and we’re always excited to hear new music and meet new people who are keeping the scene alive.  Seeing what all the other bands have achieved and the support we’ve received recently has really helped us out. Long live Da Woo Town scene!

On April 21th 2017, your debut single “No right” was chosen as the track of the week by This Feeling circuit and a month later popular website GigSlutz gave you a glowing review describing your music as “dreamy, psychedelic affair with just a hint of Oasis”. That’s very impressive review for a young band. Have you expected such warm reactions to your song?

Junior Weeb: To be honest we didn’t expect these reactions. “Not Right” was the first song we wrote together and it’s one that’s very close to our hearts. The main riff in the song was something that Max’s brother Sam came up with before he sadly passed away. We decided to write it as a tribute to Sam and his legacy. The reactions to this song have been very heart-warming and we hope Sam is proud of the finished product.

You are currently working on a new material to be published later this year. Can we expect an EP or a full blown debut album? We are curious where are you working and who is attached to the project?

Junior Weeb: We’ve had a lot of fun in the studio recently, we’ve been recording new songs at Kidderminster College with help from the Music Tech students who have made some impressive mixes for us. We thought it would be a good idea to record these songs live because on some of these tracks there is a lot of feel and groove. Hope that doesn’t give too much away (laughing). It’s great being able to record in an environment that we are all so comfortable with and the recording sessions have been fairly regular. We’re not too sure about an E.P or an album anytime soon but there will definitely be new music. Expect the unexpected.

You had to deal with incredible family tragedy. Do you feel confident to talk about it?

Junior Weeb: We lost Sam Killing in December 2015. After a long battle with mental health and drug misuse, Sam took his own life with unclear intent. He was a charming, intelligent and charismatic guy who inspired us a lot. We were all very shocked and upset when it happened but the legacy he left behind in his music and persona helped us a lot with our music. When you have to deal with a tragedy like that it’s hard find comfort when listening to music but we knew that music was the only thing that would help us out. Sam played lead guitar/backing vocals for Babypink and it’s not until you sit down and properly listen to Babypink that you understand the intricacy and beauty of Sam’s playing and writing. He has been a massive inspiration to all of us and one of the main reasons we formed. His legacy will continue to inspire us and live on through our lives as long as music will. R.I.P Sammy x.

Juniors on the green grass

2018 could be a breakthrough year for Junior Weeb. What are your hopes and fears for the nearest future?

Junior Weeb: 2018 is the year of the Weebs. We hope to gig as much as we can up until summer. The plan is to spend summer writing and working so that hopefully we make a fabulous return when we’re finished. None of us are driving yet so we hope to get on the road too. At the moment, we have nothing to fear, we’re going with the flow, taking everything as it comes. Big thank you to everyone who has supported us on our musical journey so far and we hope to see you all in the near future. Weebs out! Xxx.

***

Baby Pink

Writing about Junior Weeb, we cannot omit Sam Killing, the incredibly talented elder brother of Max Killing. Hailed as one of the most talented musicians to come out of The Faithful City, Sam played lead guitar for a band Baby Pink along with Andrew Brooks (vocals, guitar), Jack Vaughan (bass) and Jack Cotterill (drums). Formed in 2012, Baby Pink very quickly gained a lot of attention and toured the UK without even releasing a debut EP. Their gigs in London and Manchester drew big crowds even with minimal promotion, giving the band very positive reviews from music journalists and comparisons to the American alternative rock legends, The Pixies. Baby Pink were featured in the New Musical Express (named as precious find) in February 2014 and toured with Jaws, Catfish and The Bottleman, Wolf Alice and many other. Baby Pink decided to call it quits in March 2014 and Sam went on to form Birmingham based quartet named Juice with Davis Armstrong, Matt Burdon and Damon Cox in September 2014. Tragically he lost his life three months later.

You can learn more about Baby Pink by listening their music online:
https://facebook.com/bbypnk
https://amazingtunes.com/brumpromoters/biography
https://amazingradio.com/home/news-babypink-break-up
https://soundcloud.com/babypinkband

More articles about Sam:
https://www.indiependent.co.uk/tribute-late-sam-killing-power-music/
http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14188972.Bandmates_to_honour_life_of_musician_Sam_Killing__20__who_died_after_being_hit_by_a_train_in_Droitwich/

***

Poster for The Americas gig at Marrs Bar

Junior Weeb keep a tight schedule of gigs all over the West Midlands. They recently supported Soer at Night Bus in Bristol, played legendary Fleece,  opened a gig for hugely influential Catholic Action at another iconic venue – The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham and will progress to 02 in Birmingham in April.

They will play Marrs Bar with Happy Bones and The Americas on March 30th. Its gonna be carnage and a sold out home show – we are warming you. So grab your tickets before they are gone.

https://www.facebook.com/events/266397940564769/
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/429992

As usual we will keep our hand on the pulse and will report all the action. In the meantime, you can follow Junior Weeb using the details below. You will thank us later for introducing you to the quality music and future rock stars.

https://www.facebook.com/juniorweebband/
https://twitter.com/JuniorWeeb
https://soundcloud.com/juniorweeb
https://juniorweeb.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/juniorweeb_

All the best,
Mal&Rita

****Update 02/04/2018****

What can we tell you about Junior Weeb that we haven’t said already? They are a perfect combination of youthful indie, funk, blues and classic rock. They emerged victorious from a tragedy that would end much older and experienced bands. They improved their act to the point where they outgrew local circuit by a long distance and moved easily to play bigger venues in Bristol and Birmingham. They will be on a label and touring their debut album sooner than we think.

Junior Weeb supporting The Americas at the Marrs Bar on 30.03.2018

We look at Junior Weeb and see a new Viola Beach. A four piece made for biggest stages, a group with strong work ethic and resilience, talent , sense of humour  and desire to succeed.

And they proved it on the night they supported The Americas. Jumping into crowd, singing their hearts out, being joined on stage by one of their dads for a hilarious blues piece. They are wild, free and  unstoppable as soon as they are in front of the audience with their instruments in hand. There are no apologies, no fear when they play.

Loud and ready. Junior Weeb put everything into their set.

Interaction with audience is very important

But see them back stage, sitting on a sofa in a front of photographer – huddling together,  making sure that all of them are in the frame. This is a band that does not only play good music together. They genuinely like being in each other`s company, they treasure and respect one another. Junior Weeb are a bunch of close friends as much as they are the next big indie act.

And that is why readers you should see them when Junior Weeb play live.

Here`s some videos in case you missed the gig.

 

And some green room shots too.

Junior Weeb with photographer Duncan Graves at the green room

Posing for a photo session right after the set. Junior Weeb work hard and play hard

Everybody in the frame. Post gig photo session at Marrs bar on 30.03.2018

That’s all for now,

Mal+Rita

 

Indieterria meets Lower Loveday

Hello, hello!

Oh! February is an extremely busy month for everyone at Vanadian Avenue. After talking to Dharma Bums about their new EP “Nothing to Lose Blues” and grilling Andrew Marston from BBC Hereford and Worcester about their new radio show, here we are throwing questions left and right at another very talented young band!

Named after a street in Birmingham, Lower Loveday are a four piece outfit that connects pop melodies with a edgy rockier sound. They are perfect for Top 20 chart and a mosh pit pogo at your local venue. We have caught up with the guys from LLD a day before their big gig at O2 Institute and had a quick chat about winning talents shows while at school, travelling to Australia and their music.

Lower Loveday logo

The band that was meant to be  – Lower Loveday interview 

Tom Garbett (drums)
Stuart Creed (bass),
Chris Francis (lead guitar/vocals)
Mark Washington (vocals)

Official bio: The band has its roots way back to Year 8 in school, when Mark (Vocals) & Tom (Drums) entered the end of year talent show in a band. From then we always assumed that it would always happen one day, although this was delayed by education. Then having both met up during travelling in Australia, we decided to go for it when we got back and follow our dreams and get a band going! With this then Tom got writing some songs whilst the two of us practised. We knew there was potential, not only in the song but in us as a combination. We then begun our quest to fill out the remaining positions in the band. And after a long and tiring journey we finally found our perfect fit in the form of Chris (Lead Guitar), who manages to provide the perfect guitar part to support our melodies and hooks. Along with Stuart (Bass) who has added his unique blend of punchy but melodic bass playing to fill out the rhythm section… Now nothing can stop us in reinventing the music wheel and creating something the world has not yet heard and therefore needs!

There then Lower Loveday was truly born.

*******

Lower Loveday promo picture

Lower Loveday is an incredibly poetic name. Where does it come from? Is the band named after a single by Britpop heroes Menswe@r or have you been inspired by a picturesque canal side street leading to the Jewellers Quarter in Birmingham?

Lower Loveday: Thank you very much! Our name actually comes from the street in Birmingham you mentioned. Tom, our drummer, lived on Lower Loveday Street during his second year at the university and always thought it would make a good name for a band. We didn’t have any other names, so we went with it and it actually means something to us.

Your biography is full of surprises. Is it true that the first incarnation of the band was formed for Year 8 talent show?

Lower Loveday: (laughing) Yes, that is absolutely correct! Tom and Mark went to school together and were very friendly throughout. It was the Year 8 talent show when for the first time music brought them properly together. It was also a bonus that they won it but after that they didn’t really pursue the music that much yet then.

After playing for a while at school, you seem to go separate ways only to meet again years later on the other side of the world…in Australia! We are sure, Hollywood will soon come knocking on your door asking for movie rights!

Lower Loveday: We wish! Yes, we’d joked a couple of times before both going our separate ways that we’d be in a band together in the future but university put us on different paths. It wasn’t until we both went travelling (separately!) and then we met in Sydney. After a drunken sing-along, we realised the band we’d been joking about previously, was actually a possibility. At this moment, Lower Loveday consist of: Tom Garbett – he’s our drummer and also the principal songwriter, on bass guitar we have Stuart Creed, on lead guitar is Chris Francis and on vocals is Mark Washington.

Your music has been compared to Kasabian, Kings of Leon, The Arctic Monkeys, The Blossoms and (a little bit) to Oasis. Those are huge names and it must be flattering to be likened to the most important rock groups of the last two decades. How do you feel about it?

Lower Loveday:  We’ve said it before that those bands are our main influences. We weren’t aware we’d actually be compared to all of them but if that’s actually the case then that is incredibly flattering. To achieve even half of what those names have would be amazing.

We absolutely love two of your tracks: “You Could Have Been My Queen” and “Chains”. Can you please tell us more about these songs?

Lower Loveday: It’s funny that you like both songs as, ironically, they came along at pretty much the same time in terms of song-writing. We knew then that they were a bit of a game changer for us. They had a different, very unique “pop” quality to them that the other songs we wrote at that point had not. We haven’t written anything like them before. And so as soon as we showed them to people and started playing them, everyone just really loved them and we knew we had something there.

Lower Loveday received some good response from the music business. BBC Hereford and Worcester called your single “You Could Have Been My Queen” fresh and exciting and New Musical Express included your music profile on their website as one of the upcoming bands from Birmingham. Three of your singles, “Loved You”, “You Could Have Been My Queen” and “Anything You Wanted Me To” also received a lot of airplay from Brum Radio, Cannock Chase Radio, Uckfield FM and The Bugcast.

The band on stage

 

Lower Loveday:  We thought we knew almost everything that has been written or said about us but we missed a few here. Being anywhere on NME is amazing! We initially started just being happy to receive any sort of air time on anything but when BBC Introducing H&W played pretty much every song we uploaded it really makes you think! Maybe these tunes we think are great, aren’t actually that bad!

On the 24th of February, you will be performing at SoundWaves Music Competition UK Final at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Of course we are keeping our fingers crossed. Where did you learn about this competition and what will happen during the finale?

Lower Loveday: It may be hard to believe but finding the competition was as simple as just googgling ‘music competitions’ on the Internet. Or vocalist Tom found few good links and we applied for several. As far as we know, at SoundWaves 15 acts are due to perform in the finals and we will get a small slot to impress as many people and judges a possible. We think the winner will be announced on the night. It’s a great opportunity for us to perform on a big stage and it gives us a chance to play in front of an A&R’s and representatives from many labels. Hopefully we will go out and get our name out there even more.

Worcester News – 23 February 2018 (page 21)

You recently started working on new material to be released later in the year.  Are you finally recording your full debut album?

Lower LoveDay: Yes, we are currently working on several new songs. We went back into the studio just before Christmas to lay down the initial parts for two more songs which we’ll be completing very soon. The goal is to just keep recording tunes until we have enough for an album and then release when the right time comes (laughing)

Your website is warning that a musical storm is brewing. When can we see you live on stage? Any upcoming gigs we should be aware of?

Lower LoveDay: We came up with that phrase initially to lure people into listening and to create a sort of intrigue about us but it’s something we’ve seem to have kept going with from the start as it hasn’t done too badly! After this weekend’s final, we have a gig the following Sunday 4th March at The Fleece in Bristol which is going to be a full day of live music and a festival slot in August at  Venture Festival in Nottingham! We will be adding new information as they come!

We bet they look good on the dance floor as well!

Lower Loveday can be found on social media:

Website: https://www.lowerloveday.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lowerloveday/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lower_loveday
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lowerloveday
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lowerloveday
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClGDR9XIPOo96KRox090yTg

Articles about the group:
New Musical Express Emerging: https://artists.nme.com/artist/lower-loveday/
Worcester News: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/regional/worcestershire/worcester/16037251.Evesham_indie_rock_band_reaches_final_of_national_music_competition/

More information about SoundWave Competition:
https://www.facebook.com/soundwavecompetition/
https://www.soundwavemusiccompetition.co.uk/

The competition starts at 19:00 PM at O2 Institute so please come and support our local talents if you can!
We are keeping our fingers crossed for you guys!

Good luckxxx
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Andrew Marston

Dear readers!

We always have fun speaking to bands, singers, songwriters and artists. Discovering new music is what we love to do and we will never miss the opportunity to ask few questions and direct your attention towards a good tune or an album that is worth listening to. From time to time, however we have a special guest at our blog and today’s entry will be dedicated to a man we all know but whom nobody interviewed yet (we know it is a shocker!)

It is with the biggest of pleasures, we are able to announce that Indieterria has interviewed the man who not only came up with the name for Worcestershire music scene but who has been tirelessly working behind the stages of biggest local radio programmes, festivals and concerts – Andrew Marston of BBC Hereford and Worcester and BBC Introducing! We sat down with Andrew to discuss the impact the BBC Introducing has on the UK musical map, the best songs he has ever received through the Introducing Uploader and his brand new exciting show.

Think globally, do locally  – Andrew Marston Interview

The right person for the job!

Official press release: A BBC programme, dedicated to supporting up-and-coming musicians, is to launch a second show this weekend.

 BBC Music Introducing in Hereford & Worcester, which broadcasts every Saturday from 8pm, is to double its airtime in its new timeslot on Sundays from 6pm. Since its launch in 2005, the team has been overwhelmed with the amount of musical talent coming out of Herefordshire & Worcestershire with more than 15,000 demos sent in, during the last decade, from the local area.

 Presenter Andrew Marston says: “We have such an incredible music scene right here on our doorstep – and I looked down the pile of music that I’d earmarked for broadcast and realised, if I never received a song again, I still had enough to carry me through the next decade without repeating a single track!

 “The picture, nationally, is also very similar – with 170,000 artists now registered and 500,000 songs submitted. It would take 3 years to listen to every song currently on the Uploader and the number of musicians registered now exceeds the number of people who went to Glastonbury last year.”

 Originally broadcast as the Friday Session, the programme has gone on to discover acts such as Ellie Goulding, Becky Hill and Peace. John Peel’s former manager, Clive Selwood, said: “John would have loved the programme – it would have pleased him enormously.”

 As well as the superb quality of music the programme showcases, there’s a weekly gig guide, local music news, interviews with movers and shakers, a Musicians’ Masterclass, a local history of great gigs and musical legends, coverage of our local festivals plus live sessions on the show every week.

The team has also been responsible, in recent years, for sending Leominster’s AKA George to Glastonbury, Hay-on-Wye’s Cherryshoes to T in the Park, Sœur to Reading + Leeds and flew Bromyard’s Remi Harris to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Other successes include Sam Isaac at Glastonbury and the BBC Electric Proms, Pencil Toes, Luke Leighfield, The Anomalies and Pegasus Bridge at BBC Maida Vale (and Radio 1’s Big Weekend), while securing the brother/sister duo Muchuu a support slot with Florence & The Machine and the Temper Trap alongside a spot on the BBC Radio 1 playlist. Other Radio 1 opportunities include Riscas and Lauren Wright, while FREnchfire, Georgina Upton, Kamos & Tripbuk and Scarlette Says ending up on the BBC 1Xtra playlist. Andrew also landed The Roving Crows a place on tour with Jamie Cullum, AKA George two spots on the Radio 1 playlist, as well as a place on stage at Glastonbury and Radio 2’s Live In Hyde Park.

 Andrew continues, “Every month, we record our sessions at a variety of festivals – including Hay, Wychwood, Nozstock, Lakefest, Worcester Music Festival, SXSW, T In The Park, Montreal Jazz Festival, The Great Escape, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds.

“When artists upload their music for airplay, they often don’t realise they’re being considered for these incredible opportunities.

 “With such a diverse range of music, the new show makes it really easy to plan – and sharpens the focus for our audience: ‘Is this more of a Saturday night track?’ or ‘is this more of a Sunday night track?’”

You can listen to the new show on Sunday from 6pm on 94.7FM in Hereford, 104FM in Worcester, 104.4FM in Redditch, 104.6FM in the Wyre Forest, 738AM across Worcestershire, 1584AM in Tenbury Wells, on DAB Digital Radio, Freeview channel 720 and online at bbc.co.uk/introhw. The programme will also be available via the BBC iPlayer Radio App for free download for 30 days.

***

Andrew Marston at the mixing console

You are very well known in the West Midlands, but in case somebody spent the last decade on the other side of the world, please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Who is Andrew Marston and how did you get involved with BBC Hereford & Worcester?

Andrew Marston: Hi, I’m Andrew, a 36-year-old radio presenter from Hereford who’s now spent more than half a lifetime behind the record decks and well over a decade at the helm of BBC Music Introducing. In fact, I’ve always been surrounded by music having had keyboard and piano lessons since the age of 6 and have wanted to work in radio since discovering my first cassette recorder as a toddler. Somehow I’ve managed to combine both passions in a way that I’ve not played piano in public for 2 decades and haven’t played a cassette since I was at Hereford Sixth Form College!!

In fact, I was gigging regularly at Whitecross High School (mine – I didn’t just break in!), also touring the country with my brothers’ band – but I was being asked more and more to DJ between sets; something that ended in me landing my first residency at the Jailhouse Nightclub aged 14! Slowly, but surely, my gigging time was filled with playing CDs rather than keys – and I eventually tried to claw back some of what I’d “lost” by organising weekly band nights at the Imperial in Hereford. At the same time, I was presenting a non-music show (!!) on Hereford Hospital Radio, focussing very much on bringing news to life. I finished college on the Friday, had the worries of ‘what to do next’ for two days and went into the BBC’s Hereford office for work experience to be greeted with the words “how would you feel if we’re to train you up as a Broadcast Assistant?” I still haven’t had my training…

Outside of Dj’ing and music production, you are heavily involved in the BBC Music Introducing programme, looking for new talents. Tell us more about it.

Andrew Marston: I spent from 1999-2005 working behind-the-scenes at the BBC, including several stints on BBC Online. Back then, we were writing album reviews and gig features – very much like Vanadian Avenue and Slap Mag, but we kept saying to the boss “let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it”. 12 months later, the boss came to us and said “I’ve got a great idea! Let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it!” and the Friday Session was born. It made a lot of people very nervous thinking there wouldn’t be enough music to sustain a 2-hour programme every week and “is local radio the right place to be breaking new acts”. In fact, the bosses of Radio 1 came down to see how this was impacting on their audiences and some of the people in charge of local radio. I think they weren’t keen on the idea, before they arrived, but within 6 months the BBC Introducing brand was launched nationally!

In 2017 BBC Music Introducing celebrated 10 years since its conception. If you look at the official stats, nearly 130,000 bands submitted more than half a million songs. That’s nearly 3 years’ worth of music if one would like to listen to them all. How is BBC Introducing in Hereford & Worcester looking compared to other local shows? Do you know how many bands submitted their songs and how many played a live session for you?

Andrew Marston: Since we launched the uploader seven years ago, more than 10,000 songs have been uploaded from Herefordshire & Worcestershire alone. We’ve also just finished ripping all of the CDs sent into us 2005-2010 and that’s another 4,000. But – in those early days, tracks that didn’t get a spin after a couple of years were deleted from the uploader to save on server space – so I’m guessing that figure is much, much higher. In fact – I’m going to keep my eye on that! In terms of live sessions, we’ve now had more than 1,000 acts perform live on the show leading to countless opportunities. Last week, the whole Introducing family (that’s what we call it) got together at Broadcasting House in London before heading down to Maida Vale for our annual get-together. Everywhere in Britain is powering forwards, but it’s interesting to see how the poor folk in London are swamped by acts claiming to be from London when they’re not. Geographically, you have more chance of “making it” if you’re from a rural area than somewhere that’s overrun with musicians (who’ll also play for free. I lived in London for a couple of years and, despite playing 137 gigs in one year, struggled to find any paid opportunities in the capital as everyone would do it for nothing).

Andrew Marston preparing to go live

You were one of the first DJs to play Ellie Goulding, The Voice UK alumna Becky Hill, Peace and the alternative outfit This Wicked Tongue. Do you remember the artist or a band that made the biggest impression on you as part of the BBC Introducing?

Andrew Marston: Muchuu made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Sadly they’re no more, but their music was haunting, full of space and left you wanting more. Somehow it drew you in and I still go back and listen to those tracks when I want to reflect. They were one of the first acts to use the Uploader and I instantly passed it onto Huw Stephens at Radio 1, who claimed there was “something in the water” with so many artists going national from our neck of the woods. They’d go on to support Florence + The Machine and the Temper Trap at the BBC Introducing staff Christmas party (those were the days!) and turned down a slot at Glastonbury because they were going on holiday – I know, right??!

Worcester music scene is going through a real cultural renaissance at this moment. Many local acts receive fantastic reviews from the critics and you are credited with coining the name for it – “WorcesterWave”.  Do you think Worcester is going to be the next musical hotspot after Manchester, Cardiff and London?

Andrew Marston: I think we actually have a greater music scene than all of those cities. Having lived in London, everybody that claims to be from there comes from somewhere else. Sadly, these big cities are so swamped with bands (from across the region) they’re embracing the “pay to play” culture, meaning you’ve either got to sell tickets for your show or actually pay the promoter for stage time. It’s a very sad state of affairs, especially when musicians have learned their craft since a young age having music lessons at £20 per hour.  I also lived in Manchester for a while and everybody tours there, but Manchester bands rarely get the chance to play their own city because of the competitive nature. Every city has its own music scene – but often it’s cut-throat. The thing with Manchester is if you’re 15-years-old and you get bored, you go out. But if you’re 15 and living in Clifton-upon-Teme, you form a band. And when there’s nowhere to play, you organised your own gigs. This whole cottage industry, where everybody supports everybody else, is what’s getting this city noticed.

You have an eye to spot future stars. Many artists championed by you frequently receive national coverage. The list is very impressive: The Americas performed on Georgie Tonight, a prime-time show across the whole of BBC Local Radio, Soeur recorded live session at the legendary Maida Vale studios, Nuns of the Tundra reached second place in nationwide “Battle of the Bands” competition sponsored by Firestone, Tazmin Barnes’ EP “Powerful” debuted at number 11 at iTunes Pop charts, nth cave and Thousand Mountain were played by Steve Lamacq while Population:7 and Chavy Chase Stole My Wife were noticed by Tom Robinson. What qualities are the most important for future success? Song writing, catchy melodies or stage presence?

BBC Introducing

Andrew Marston: The song is always key. It doesn’t matter how good your biog is, who you’ve toured with, where you’ve played and how good you are at playing guitar, the 3-minute song is the thing that will get you everywhere. In fact, it’s your best advert. In commercial radio, a 30 second commercial could cost you £150. A 3-minute song is effectively £900 worth of airtime. If you were recording speech – you’d tell people to download your music, advertise your shows, sell some merch and ask them to friend you on Facebook. So make sure your demo isn’t a demo – it’s the polished product.

As a presenter, if you get too involved with a band, it definitely impacts your decision making. I’ve seen many bands who’ve blown me away, jumping all over the stage, but I’ve listened back on iPlayer and they’ve failed to jump out of the speakers. I will score every track based on the first listen – as that’s exactly how the audience will hear it. There’s no such thing as a “grower” unfortunately – that’s a phrase coined for bands that have had so much money invested in them, they’ve got no choice but to champion that track. First impressions count.

Rumour has it that there is a brand new Sunday radio show being prepared? Can you please tell us more?

Andrew Marston: Exactly that! We have so much music coming in that we want to play, 2 hours a week just isn’t enough. In fact, it’s a really simple thing to do – the gig guide still exists, we still want to cover the same number of festivals, enjoy live sessions – but the canvas is now twice as big. The thing we’re accused of, most of all, is using a too-bigger paint brush. At one end of the spectrum, there’s tonnes of classical musicians and folk artists in the Malvern Hills; at the other end of the spectrum, Kidderminster produces the heaviest of death/screamo metal and Bromsgrove unearths a lot of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass. The balancing act is to aim to the programme at everyone – otherwise you risk broadcasting the X-Factor to only the people who queued up to be on the X-Factor! Being blunt, musicians provide the raw material for the show – it’s my job to then expose it to as wider audience as possible, so I have to be careful not to make the show sound like a fanzine. That job just got a little simpler; I can now ask “is this more Saturday night or more Sunday night”. So Saturdays will be a lot louder, a lot more raucous with a real edge. Whereas Sundays will be a lot more accessible, focussing a lot more on those acoustic/soulful/folk/jazz/blues/country styles with “candlelit” stripped-back studio sessions. I’m hoping there’ll be a fair bit of crossover, meaning audiences will feed between both programmes – but the idea is you’ll definitely have your favourite, all, of course, available for 30 days to download and listen via the BBC iPlayer Radio app!

What advice would you give to the kids who are just starting out and would like to send their music to BBC Music Introducing for consideration?

BBC Hereford and Worcester: Guitars and great tunes!

Andrew Marston: Here’s my top three…

  1. Always disappoint your audience!! Keep your music short. Your favourite song will never be long enough; loop play is the greatest compliment. If they hear it on the radio and want to hear more, they’ll have to go out and buy it! If you play a gig, don’t give them an encore. If they want more, they’ll have to come to another show! Take pictures of every gig – especially the audience having fun – and host them online afterwards. People will be disappointed they missed out and will come to your next show. If you’re on the door, don’t let every Tom, Dick and Harry in! An exclusive audience will grow punters; letting in those who don’t particularly care will distract your die-hards. Remember that time you couldn’t get into your favourite nightclub because your mate was wearing trainers? You didn’t particularly want to go in – but the moment the bouncer said no, you were desperate to be in there!
  2. Properly release your music. Set a release date. My best music I’ll save for a “rainy day”. I’m hoping it’ll never rain. But that means I might not play it for 5 years! Setting a release date ensures everyone is across your track on that particular date. Nobody likes to back the last horse in the race, so if everyone else is championing your music on that date – others will follow. Make big events even bigger. I remember booking Remi Harris for the Montreal Jazz Festival a couple of years ago and just as I was ending the phone-call, he said “oh – did you hear I have a new album?” If I didn’t know, nor would any of his potential audience. I told him to stop being a fool and to release it at the festival! Forevermore you can say “I launched my debut album at the biggest gig of my life”. The festival will be happy you saved such a special moment for their event – and, with any luck, will also do your promo for you! Whenever Remi rings up a venue, he can now say “and here’s a copy of my album I officially released at the Montreal Jazz Festival”.
  3. Write music you believe in. You’ll be amazed how many people I interview who write rock music who go out every Friday and Saturday night and listen to dance/RnB then wonder why nobody comes to their gigs. Take a look around and see what people are genuinely listening to. If you’re really into electronica, you’ll probably write better electronica than trying to form a band with people who don’t really share your passion. The most common reason bands split is because of “musical differences”. If you wouldn’t be happy to drive around town with your windows wound down and your track blaring out, you’re possibly not being true to yourself – and if you’re not 100% behind what you’re writing, what chance does anyone else have?

But most importantly – have fun! If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’ve probably forgotten the reason you got into music in the first place. If you become the best at what you do, the money will somehow find its way to you. But just remember it’s not always this cartoon version of “write a song, get signed, achieve #1 then headline Wembley”. There’s money to made in writing theme tunes, being a session musician, writing for video games, weddings, playing the piano in hotel receptions, writing for other people and one of the most lucrative “revenue streams” is writing lift music! But that’s just page one of an ocean of opportunity. Remember, I learned piano and I now host a show on the BBC. So music can open all sorts of opportunities – just make sure you grab them with both hands and never let go!

BBC Introducing:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d72q
https://twitter.com/bbcintroducing
https://en-gb.facebook.com/bbcintrohw/

Andrew Marston is very active on social media and you can find him on many different platforms:
http://www.djandrewmarston.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marston
https://twitter.com/DJAndrewMarston
https://www.facebook.com/djandrewmarston
https://www.mixcloud.com/djandrewmarston/
https://www.youtube.com/user/DJAndrewMarston
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/dj-andrew-marston/id983733498

Vanadian Avenue would like to thank you to Andrew and the crew of BBC Inroducing in Hereford and Worcester for their time, hard work and answering the questions.

Keep on doing the good job!

Please come back soon as Indieterria is meeting a really cool band next week and we will be back shortly with another interview for your enjoyment!

Bye for now,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Dharma Bums

Howdy!

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

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

————————

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West Midlands

 

Dharma Bums at the Abbey Road Studios in London

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking down the Abbey Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing to Lose Blues cover

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

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

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

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

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

Dharma Buns performing

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

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

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

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

Dharma Buns review from Ryan Gigs Guide

Dharma Bums can be found online at:

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

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

You can purchase their music here:
CDBABY:
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dharmabums12
Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/Nothing-to-Lose-Blues/dp/B0742979NT
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/nothing-to-lose-blues-ep/1261253519
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If you think we have missed some excellent tune, a future rock star or a band that is worth listening to, please kindly let Vanadian Avenue know and we will be more than happy to feature them on our blog. We are constantly on the lookout for independent artists and we will always help in any way we can. We do receive a lot of requests so please give us some time to properly listen to your music and read through attached links. It sometimes can take a week or more but if we like what you have sent us, it will definitely be featured on Indieterria.

We do specialize in rock and alternative music, but we appreciate all genres, from A(bba) to Z(ZTop)  so please don’t be discouraged! All requests should be sent to rdabrowicz@yahoo.com and contain links to Soundcloud, Bandcamp or Youtube videos. We do accept mp3’s but please limit them to 2 or 3 only – choose the best ones that represent you and your musical style. We will also need 3 or 4 pictures (good resolution is essential as they will be used to illustrate the interview or a review) and a bio. You know, the bare minimum needed to show the world how good you are. Vanadian Avenue undertakes a thorough research and we try to present each featured artist in a professional way. Interested? Drop us a line!

Thank you and Indieterria is always pleased to hear from you!

Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria celebrates Independent Music Week 2018

Dear Readers,

Between January 29th and February 4th 2018 we celebrate Independent Venue Week. This national campaign was set up five years ago to shine a light on local music venues, cultural hubs, parish halls and arts centers that give prominence to young and upcoming bands on the indie circuit.

Worcester had participated in the scheme since last year and 2018 is no different.  There will be plenty of gigs at our local independent music venue – Marrs Bar. To celebrate a whole week of music delights, new bands and DIY ethos we took few figures from our scene on the side and asked them questions.

 Welcome to Indieterria IVW18 special.

 

 James Willis
(The Marrs’ Bar manager)

Marr’s Bar logo

You have some high profile gigs scheduled this year, involving leading local talent. Can you tell us in brief what can we expect from Independent Venue Week 2018 in Worcester?

James Willis:  We have 3 shows booked for Independent Music Week this year. The first gig is HVMM, The Soviets, Juniper Nights and Malvern newcomers Dead Dads Club. It will take place on Thursday, February 1st. On Friday, 2nd of February we have Gaz Brookfield and The Company of Thieves. Gaz is a great friend of the Marr’s Bar, we always love having Gaz performing on our stage. He first came to us while supporting Nick Harper and now nearly sells the place out. On Sunday, February 4th, we have a great concert by the best bands of the Worcestershire scene: Soeur, Nuns of The Tundra, Navajo Ace, Esteban and As Mamas. It is a collaboration between two great local promoters, The Task In Hand and Surprise Attacks. These guys love putting things on that try to push the musical boundaries a bit. All info on the mentioned shows can be found at http://www.marrsbar.co.uk

Marrs Bar has been participating in IVW before. How did the initiative change over the years?

James Willis:  This is our second year participating, but I love how Independent Music Week continue to push awareness all over the country and advertise how important grass roots music venues are.

After losing so many iconic venues, the music community is pushing back – Agent of Change gets a second reading in Parliament and Music Venue Trust (MVT) is set up. Do you think such measures will have a lasting effect on safety and well-being of music venues

James Willis: It sounds like it! It already has started saving music venues from closing due to complaints, but venues are also closing due to decreasing numbers of visitors and less money being spent at the bar. It is very important we keep going to see live music and keep drinking! (laughs)

Marrs Bar is itself going through a lot of changes. Can you give us any details about it?

James Willis: We cannot reveal anything yet at this moment but watch this space!

From where you stand – what can be done to help music venues and local scene in Worcestershire?

 James Willis:  The more venues Worcester has that are willing to put on live music, and the more locals we have that get involved and put shows on, the stronger the music scene will be.

James was also interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester on 3rd of February 2018 regarding the campaign and this is what he had to say:

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0VOWhjrRYq5

If you would like to learn more about the venue please read below:

General Info:
The Marrs Bar

Technical Info:
The Marrs Bar Tech Spec 

 

Christian Burton
(promoter, Surprise Attacks)

Surprise Attacks logo

As a promoter, what is the best thing about having an independent venue in town?

Christian Burton: Local independent venues support local music, which is essential for any city’s music scene. Whether it’s live music, DJ sets or open mic nights there is something on pretty much every night of the week. The independent venues in Worcester recognize that variety is vitally important and this can only encourage both the established and the new bands and artists.

As a local promoter for the last 5 years, keeping it DIY, believing in local acts and taking risks in bringing touring bands to Worcester has been key to putting on varied genres. We often put on music which is fairly experimental or leftfield too, and having the support of the independent venues is really important. The venues support the local scene as much as the locals support the venues. That’s the ideal existence for any town!

I think in the last couple of years this two – way support has really come to life with the existing promoters building loyal followers and new promoters being inspired to start up too. This is a great thing for Worcester especially as the student population is growing, and also great for existing and new bands.

New bands need the support of the promoters, who are able to take a chance and put them on because they have the support of the venues, who in turn provide that environment for the crowds and bands alike. So for us as promoters it’s all about community and creating a social hub and everyone seems to be doing the right thing in creating a vibrant and growing scene.

So many venues have closed down in recent years but with the introduction of Music Venue Trust and Agent of Change, the music community is fighting back. What in your opinion, will be the outcome of this struggle?

Christian Burton: It’s a worrying time. The Agent Of Change principle seems just common sense and it’s frustrating that it doesn’t already exist in UK law. I know that in Australia it’s being put into practice to positive effect.

I think the struggle will always be one of money versus culture, with residential or commercial developers obviously wanting to maximize profit. So the cost of proper soundproofing is left up to venues, which is logical if the venue is the new development next to existing offices or residential buildings!

It makes perfect sense that if homes are built next to or near to an existing venue, the developers should be responsible for the soundproofing. Unfortunately the struggle between money and the arts is a long standing battle.

The outcome? Well I’m hopeful that Agent of Change will be introduced into UK law and the importance of live music is realized to be an essential component of the UK’s culture.

Last year Cardiff nearly lost their famous Womanby Street (a street full of clubs and music venues), now they are UK`s very first City of Music. Worcester is not far away from Cardiff, has its own music festival, periodicals, lively scene. What could be done for Worcester to be properly put in on the music map?

I think Worcester is on the way to greatness with its scene and a great music festival, but it’s main downfall in my opinion is the lack of support of local venues and promoters from the University. It’s very hard to get promotional material within campuses : posters, flyers etc.

There is a huge student population in Worcester. Music scenes in other cities really jump on the opportunities to promote to the students, and have the support of Universities when doing so. It’s certainly something we will be addressing as local promoters.

Aaron Whittaker
(The Americas)

The Americas

You played for Indie Venue Week in London at The Rocksteady on 24th January 2018 How does the America see the campaign for independent venues?

Aaron Whittaker: The 21st century is an endless battle against irresponsible developers building here, there and everywhere. We’ve seen so many beautiful and historic venues forced to close their doors over the last few years because of this.

Independent venues need to be celebrated and cherished and the importance of this week-long festival that shines the spotlight on these magic little places can’t really be overstated.If you care about music then you have to pay attention to and support the spawning ground for its future.

 

Troy Tittley
(Nuns of the Tundra)

Nuns of the Tundra

What do you think about the Independent Venue Week campaign?

 Troy Tittley: I think Independent Venue Week is an important reminder of how crucial these venues are to both musicians and audiences. Most people will have their first proper gigs in these places and it is where you learn to hone your craft. You are surrounded by like minded people, creative minds and people passionate about the arts.

I’ve made a lot of meaningful connections in local independent venues, and without them networking would be way harder. I’ve also witnessed some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen in the Marrs Bar which is a stone’s throw from my house. I remember seeing the Subways there when I was a teenager, more recently Creeper, and I have the privilege of supporting Soeur there as well.

If people aren’t into clubbing or getting wrecked, these venues are a great place to spend a night out even if you don’t know who’s playing.

IVW18 with Soeur & Friends

Worcester will close IVW18 with a concert of mighty Soeur, Nunes of The Tundra, Navajo Ace, Esteban and As Mamas at the Marrs Bar on February 4th 2018.

Now what are you waiting for. Put your dancing shoes on, we are off to the mosh pit.

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets The Americas

The Americas – Something is happening

 

The Americas – it is rock and roll (and we like it)

There is definitely something really exciting happening in rock and roll at the moment. Bands such as The Blinders, Idles or The Velvet Hands are like a breath of fresh air. Let’s not forget The Himalayas,  Shame, The Strawberries or Bang Bang Romeo. Then, there are The Americas –  Worcester based trio quickly joining their ranks. We sat down with the band to discuss wide range of topics: appreciation of their music, travelling with This Feeling circuit, performing at the BBC Music Introducing Amplify conference in London, their admiration for Big Moon and the troubles in the US of A.

 

Harry Payne (guitar/vocals/harmonica)
Aaron Whittaker (guitar/keys/vocals)
Alexander Bradshaw (drums)


Don’t you find it a little bit ironic that band considered being the hope of British rock is called The Americas?

The Americas: We are not sure who exactly considers us the hope of British rock music but we guess a British band being called The Americas is always going to be a bit of a talking point! (laughter)

 The band was formed at the end of 2015 and quickly developed a large fan following. Tell us more about your beginnings.

The Americas:  It was a pretty natural thing for us. Aaron Whittaker and Harry Payne were always writing and singing songs, listening to the same records and going out to the same shows. Somewhere along the way, we decided to take it a little bit more seriously and started to jam with other musicians. We poached drummer Alex from a psych band that was doing the rounds in Birmingham at the time and immediately shut ourselves away for a year. We played a handful of one off gigs through the first half of ’16 trying to work out what on earth we were and what sort of sounds we made, but most of those early days were spent throwing ideas around and just hanging out in our little practice room.

You are the only band from Worcestershire (except for RISCAS) that has been included in the famous This Feeling circuit, a music company that includes band management, a record label, and a series of national live shows. It is run by Mikey Jonns and hosts the biggest names in rock: Kasabian, The Rifles, Noel Fielding, and Noel Gallagher. What does a local band just starting out have to do to be added to their roster?

The Americas: This Feeling have been very kind to us and have offered us a lot of great opportunities this year. We are not sure if there’s a simple tick list when it comes to building relationships and working with promotions companies/record labels or whatever. We just love to play our music for people and we really mean every one of our songs. I think the key is being honest and transparent. There’s a lot of confused music around.

The Americas – photo from band`s archives

You are often described as “music to ride your motorcycle to” but we do not find this accurate. We rather see you as a very intriguing combination of classic southern rock (think The Black Crowes in their Amorica era) with eloquence of the college rock (think Collective Soul or LIVE), a bit of post grunge but with a lot of back ground in modern independent British music: The Libertines, The Sherlocks, Razorlight, Primal Scream. Best of both worlds really.

The Americas:  (laughing) You can listen to us while you ride a motorcycle if that’s what you want to do, but yeah, trying to label/categorise music is always a weird one. We are glad you hear lots of different things in our sound. We listen to anything and everything from Gospel Rock to Motown, Punk, Trip-Hop or whatever… You’ve got to keep your ears on their toes so to speak.

 The Americas regularly share stages with well established acts. You have supported The Twang at a sold out show at 02 Academy Birmingham, you played along The Bluetones, Blaenavon and Trampolene among others. Is there anyone else on the contemporary music scene you would like to play with?

The Americas: Tons and tons of artists. Our dream show would be to play with Courtney Barnett. She’s a poet and a badass player and she’s just got that magnetism you know? A really, really fantastic song writer. If we’re bringing it a little closer to home, we really dig what those Big Moon girls are doing. We think that would be a sweet show.

Popular online music magazine Gigslutz stated that 2017 belongs to the Americas and awarded you the title of the Best Newcomer 2016. You have beaten several bands heavily championed by national radio stations such as Cabbage or Hinds, a Spanish all female rock sensation with an album on the official UK top 40. How do you feel about it?

The Americas: Yeah that was nice of them. We’d only officially been a band for a couple of months at that point. It’s nice to see publications back completely independent bands.

The Americas live at The Truck Festival in 2017

 Gigslutz praise is not the only one. You have won backing from some of the industry heavyweights: Mikey Jonns of This Feeling, Hall or Nothing music promoter Caffy St. Luce, New Musical Express magazine. Everyone agrees that you stand out of the crowd.  Right next to Soeur and The Assist, you are the face of West Midlands music scene. It must come with some pressure. Did you expect such fantastic response to what you do?

The Americas: We don’t feel pressure when it comes to our music. Only the pressure that the songs themselves demand. The pressure to do each of them justice in our own minds when we go out and play live. We’ve always done what comes naturally to us. If everyone hated the music we write, we’d still be writing it. It’s a personal thing and we get a real kick out of seeing these songs take form. Obviously it’s a great feeling when other people have a good reaction to the material too, and we love it when we look out and people are singing the words back to us. We really love and appreciate our fans for sure.

On October 7th you performed at the BBC Amplify conference in London in front of a huge crowd. Were you excited? Did you prepare anything special to sweep The Beeb bosses off their feet?

The Americas: We’re always excited to go out and play music together and we’re really happy to have been invited along to perform. The BBC has a really great thing going on in terms of it’s Introducing program. Unfortunately we haven’t prepared any dance routines or indoor firework displays this time (laughing).

In all, Amplify was a great experience for us despite the face that we got told last minute that the slot would be acoustic one so we were a little gutted not to have been able to put on a full show. Saying that though, it was still good to have a few beers and mingle with so many fellow musicians and music industry types. No tricks to sweep anyone off their feet no. We think it’s much more important to let the music and performance do the talking in those scenarios.

Your live performances are usually described as perfectly choreographed and prepared in the tiniest detail, yet they contain a great deal of spontaneity and wildness. It’s the good old rock and roll, freedom and creativity.

The Americas: We absolutely love live performances. Putting on a good show is very important to us. It’s a modern world and there’s not a lot of patience out there and you can see it reflected in the nature of the social landscape these days. Throw-away Instagram/Facebook stories that last for 24 hours and then are lost forever. People scrolling through news feeds, and watching the first 5 seconds of 100 different viral videos and not taking any of it in. It’s hard to get noticed in a world of quantity over quality, but we believe in our material and we play it with passion whether we’re performing to 5 people or 5000 people. We want our audience to feel that passion. We want to help them to feel free, even for a short while.

The sleeve to Something`s Gonna Happen single

Several online websites mentioned that you are about to enter the studio to record an album. Is there any truth in these claims? If so, is it going to be an independent release or issued through a record label?

The Americas: We’ve been in and out of the studio throughout September getting down some new material. We’re really excited with how things are sounding and can’t wait to get the music out there. We haven’t figured out what shape our next release is going to take just yet though. Watch this space.

We are very tempted to ask you. Razorlight put it nicely in their song – “All my life, there’s trouble in America”. What does The Americas think of the recent troubles over the Pond: the orange individual, the travel bans and the wall?

The Americas: It’s fair to say none of us would have voted for Trump if we were US citizens. The times are turbulent and confusing and we have problems of our own in this country also. It’s really sad. We’re supporters of basic human freedoms. It’s enough to keep you up at night, isn’t it? It’s important to do the smaller things. Do right to others. Show compassion. Be human.

 The last but not least – what are your plans for the nearest future? Are we going to see you playing local gigs anytime soon?

The AmericasOur plan for the near future is to put out another single by March and then continue to write, release and perform our music as much as possible. Maybe a few tours up our sleeve and hopefully another great festival season. Keep your eyes on the Facebook for announcements. Our next gig is at The Lexington in London with The Blinders on 21st of February, we are also trying to confirm few more dates as well.  Otherwise, we just plan to keep on living the impossible dream and hoping not to die in the process! (laughter)

You can follow The Americas using the links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theamericasyeah/
Soundcloudhttps://soundcloud.com/theamericasyeah
Twitter: https://twitter.com/theamericasyeah
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theamericasyeah/

***

Band on the run (or few weeks in the life of a band of the year)

We don`t know how to describe the last few months but you simply cannot follow The Americas fast enough. They are like Tasmanian Devil or The Roadrunner. You think you got them covered, but they are ahead of you by two miles by the time you say “Something`s Gonna Happen”.  The speed in which the band makes ripples on national level is shocking.  That`s a correct word – we hardly see bands progressing at such rate. Just few examples – hold on tight.

The band recorded a session for BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester at the Phoenix Theatre in Ross-on-Wye in October 2017. This live session has been broadcasted on Saturday November 18th (right before Thanksgiving Day – nice one Beeb!) to rave reviews from listeners.

BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester broadcasted The Americas session on November 18, 2017

Images from the live session can be seen here:

This week's specially featured act is The Americas who were formed by Harry Payne (vocals/bass) and Aaron Whittaker…

Posted by BBC Music Introducing in Hereford & Worcester on Saturday, November 11, 2017

And then all hell broke loose. On December 23rd 2017 The Americas have been featured on national radio – BBC 6 Music as part of Tom Robinson Show. If you don’t know Tom from his musical career that spans four decades (“2-4-6-8 Motorway“), you may know him from his career as DJ and his own portal that champions new music (Fresh on the Net). Tom is one of the biggest taste makers  in United Kingdom and one of the most cherished DJs on BBC 6 Music. Having a spin on his show – is not a small feat. Being featured on  Christmas show is like winning a lottery. No wonder that The Americas response was very emotional.

The Americas reacted to being played on BBC 6 Music on December 24 2017

Obviously, we made audio. You can listen to the short clip of the program here: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0Jg7AfOZk3Y

Early January seen The Americas being featured in influential Some Might Say Zine – as one of the bands that will shape 2018. We ordered a copy for our archives and this is how it looks. Sahera Walker – the founder of Some Might Say keeps a hand on the pulse when it comes to new musical icons and believe us – she hardly gets it wrong.

This is not the first time, Some Might Say mention The Americas. Back in August 2017, Sahera wrote about the band:

“The Americas, man, what a band. A group I bang on about a lot on here, they’re an undeniably brilliant force of pure classy rock’n’roll. Despite the name, The Americas are quintessentially British, with their riffs and the way they play epitomizing perfectly classic old school British rock’n’roll. They use a keyboard in their music, accompanied by this raw feel good guitar rock sound, which is a unique and refreshing set up for a band”. 

We agree wholeheartedly.

Cover of Some Might Say Zine #2 (January 2018)

The Americas featured in Some Might Say Zine #2 (January 2018) as one of the bands of 2018

On 6th January 2018 BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester unveiled their own top ten of best bands for 2017 and guess who was ranked at #2? Yep, The Americas. At this stage, we were not surprised to hear Andrew Marston praise the band for their melodic songs and incredible energy. The show featured “Something`s Gonna Happen” being aired, followed by a short interview with the artists.

The Americas being ranked at #2 of BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester – Best Band of 2017 on January 6th 2018

And yes, we also made some audio – you can listen to it here: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1LXwsxd08Jd

What caught us off guard is that on January 8th – “Something`s Gonna Happen” was made a Track of The Week on BBC Hereford & Worcester.

The Americas` Somethings Gonna Happen announced as a Track of the Week on BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester on January 8th 2018

On January 10th, another influential zine – Northern Exposure also featured The Americas as one of the bands of 2018.

The Americas featured as one of the bands of 2018 on Northern Exposure on January 10, 2018

You can see the article below:

http://northern-exposure.co/ones-to-watch-2018/

This is what Northern Exposure had to say about The Americas:

“They are a sensational hard rock ‘n’ blues get up with a blow-the-house-down set that could  translate into a debut album perfectly.” 

Northern Exposure is overseen by two lead women – Rachel Brown and Kate O`Brien who beside running the magazine, also manage and promote local artists, book gigs and mentor young acts. Similarly to Sahera Walker of Some Might Say, ladies of Northern Exposure are very active and know their craft well.

Same day (January 10th 2018), two gigs were announced. On January 24th The Americas would play a gig in London at The Rock Steady  sharing the stage with Sleaze, Black Orchids and Willow Robinson as part of Independent Venue Week.

 

Poster for Independent Venue Week gig at The Rock Steady in London, 24 January 2017

https://www.facebook.com/events/404399526664032/

The other show would take place on 21st February, also in London, but at The Lexicon. Here The Americas are to support The Blinders – one of the most influential bands that come of the UK in the last 30 years. We are not kidding. If you haven’t familiarized yourself yet with The Blinders, you got to tackle this unforgivable faux pas right now. Before people start regarding you as an uncultured savage.

Tour poster for The Blinders upcoming tour

The Americas/The Blinders combo is unreal and we think this is going to be equivalent of all those legendary gigs that people talk about for years. We are actually thinking of attending. Though it may prove tricky.

https://www.facebook.com/events/934013786747020/

Announcement at the Northern Exposure regarding InMusic Festival semi-finals.

Of course not a day goes by without another announcement. On January 11th, The Northern Exposure in association with EUFest and Musicians Against Homelessness unveiled semi finals for InMusic Festival. 20 upcoming bands fight for a slot at the main stage at InMusic Festival in Croatia to support such legends as Nick Cave and Queens of the Stone Age. Guess who got their place among best acts? The Americas will have to go though two more stages (music industry insight and live performance) to win this opportunity of a life time – but they already proved to be more than your average indie outfit.

Right. That would be just about last four -five weeks in the life of a band that is tipped for one of the best acts of 2018. You see now why.

We will keep reporting.

Mal+Rita

***Update: 15.01.2018***

Few days passed and we have to make an update as so many things have happened. Where to begin?  Let`s start with the show in London on 21st February at the Lexington where The Americas will support mighty The Blinders. Well that gig is now sold out (two tickets left as we write so technically no chances to get in). The Blinders so far have two other shows on their upcoming tour being sold out and one of them  is on their home turf  in Manchester.

The Americas announce their gig at the Lexington in London with The Blinders is a sold out affair -15.01.2018

Not only will The Americas play with one of the most exciting bands on the planet, it will also be a full house. If that doesn’t make you want to bounce off the walls in joy, then you must be (no rock and roll) fun at parties! A shout out to fellow A&Rs in London Town. Get yourself on the guest list. This show will be epic.

Another good news is that “Something`s Gonna Happen” is currently being a Tune of the Week at BBC Hereford & Worcester. The Americas are Artists of the Week as well on the BBC Intro and they got a spin on the show of a popular BBC DJ Georgey Spanswick.

Proof is on Twitter:

Artists of the Week for BBC Intro 15.01.2018

And the best news of all is of curse update on In Music Festival. Six bands have been chosen to the live stage of the competition and West Midlands are proudly presented by The Assist and The Americas. The Assist are incredible, we have seen them last year and love them since. Like The Americas, they are This Feeling alumni and  a kick ass band.

The Americas making to the finals for Northern Exposure competition to earn a spot at In Music Festival in Croatia.

It will be a hard fight in the live stage but we will keep our fingers crossed for The Americas! Yeah!

M/R

***Update: 27.03.2018***

We took a step back from the ever changing world of The Americas for two months to concentrate on other acts on Indieterria, while the band continued to leave their mark across the country like a hurricane in Arkansas. They played sold out show in London on February 21st at The Lexington with The Blinders (and Blinders described The Americas as the best act on entire tour!) and followed up with another full house gig at legendary Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham with The Cosmics on March 17th.

Here`s a video to live version of “Susanna” from The Lexington, if you missed the show:

 

 

If that wasn’t enough, The Americas returned to London to play at iconic Nambucca for Some Might Say zine on March 27th. Just a little trip here and there and everywhere. We told you those boys are keeping themselves occupied. They actually do more in a month than most bands we know – but this is how you recognize serious business. The band will play and tour and record and publish.

Poster for Some Might Say zine gig in London at legendary Nambucca on March 27th 2018

Tight schedule paid off. There was a bit of March Madness at local BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester last week. On March 24th The Americas were recommended for BBC 1, then on March 25th they have been put forward to BBC Big Weekend Festival in Swansea alongside with RISCAS and on March 26th “Something`s Gonna Happen” was in rotation and was again a song of the week on the station.

March Madness at BBC Hereford and Worcester – not like we are complaining.

The Americas were also interviewed and you can hear what they had to say here:

https://vocaroo.com/i/s1UP8zVVjE6q

Are you catching your breath? Good. Cause over the Easter Weekend, the band will return to their home ground at the Marrs Bar to play a gig with Junior Weeb and Happy Bones as special guests on March 30th. If you are not hyperventilating and drooling at the same time at the bill, you ain`t local. We are absolutely loco for each of the acts here and believe us Woo-Town will come out in great numbers for the show. You can join us, we have got trains, and buses and there is nothing to prevent you from visiting. Tickets are still available:

https://www.facebook.com/events/266397940564769/
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/429992

Poster for home coming gig at Marrs Bar with Junior Weeb and Happy Bones on March 30th 2018

If you are not familiar with the special guests for the night, here are our interviews with Junior Weeb and Happy Bones respectively for your reading and listening pleasures.

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/indieterria-meets-happy-bones/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/indieterria-meets-junior-weeb/

The show will most likely sell out and we have secured our tickets weeks ago. We will try to post some images or videos from the night.

That`s all for us for for now.

Mal/Rita

****Update 31/03/2018****

Before we publish our review of the band`s home coming gig, we would like to update you on what The Americas has been up to. It`s been few days which in the world of Aaron, Harry and Alex is a lot.

The band has just been announced as one of the acts to play Wychwood Festival on The Big Top stage. The Americas will play alongside another WorcesterWave  band – Soeur.  Add this to the impressive list of achievements in barely 4 months this year.

Wychwood Festival page with the announcement for The Americas

Wychwood Festival 2018 poster

And we can finally see a video from The Americas` performance at The Pirate Studios in Manchester  in January.  Ugly is a regular song in the live performances, but so far has not been released as a single. It’s worth watching as this is a classic track for the band – driven, funky and with a wonderful  melody line.

M/R

****Update 02/04/2018****

The Americas are perfectionists. They plan their acts in the smaller details, play like there is no tomorrow and hit the stage even if the world is falling around them. It could not be any different for their home coming gig in Worcester. The house was full, support acts (Junior Weeb and Happy Bones) delivered splendid sets and the crowd was waiting in anticipation.

Aaron Whittaker of The Americas

The band don’t play home that often anymore so it was time for a real celebration. Harry, Aaron and Alex came on stage wearing identical red suits, looking like British Invasion act out of the 70s. For the next hour they did not let anyone rest even for a second.  Ugly, Rosanna, Hot Minute, Tenth of May and a new song Come On Down were delivered with passion and  determination. Within two tracks, Harry let go of both his jacket and shirt and continued to play, dance and swing.  Audience picked up pace and formed the biggest mosh pit Marrs Bar seen on an indie gig. There was crowd surfing, pogo dancing and dozens of people screaming the lyrics with their eyes closed.

Alexander Bradshaw of The Americas

Once the music ended, fans and friends alike stormed merch stand and even posters were taken off the walls and taken home as souvenirs.

We have been attending  gigs at Marrs Bar (Worcester`s only independent venue and a home to all WorcesterWave bands) for over two years and not often we see this sort of adoration. No, truly there is no other word for how revered The Americas were on that night.

The band will soon play bigger venues and  this could be end of a certain period in their careers.

Harry Payne of The Americas

Like Peace before them, The Americas will put Worcester on a music map…

No wait, let us rephrase that. The Americas have already put Woo-Town on map and other bands from the scene are looking up to them and following.

It makes us proud to call this cathedral town in West Midlands home.

Much power to you The Americas!

Some videos from the night:

And some images from the night:

Sound and fury – The Americas play Worcester on 30.03.2018

The band puts their all into live performances

All together now

Can we bring back British Invasion? The musical one we mean of the 60s and 70s.

Aaron Whittaker

Harry Payne

We so wish you could be with us.

Mal+Rita