Seasonal – Interview

Wednesday 17th May 2017

If you imagine the sounds of New Found Glory and mix that up with emotionally charged lyrics from the likes of Yellowcard then you get Surry’s own pop-rock offering, Seasonal.  Their debut EP ‘Bloom’ is due for release on the 19th May and it’s quite simply a breath of fresh air.  Going in to the studio with the intention of only recording one song, but finding themselves inspired to complete the EP after hearing the final mix; what we’re presented with is a personal, honest and sincere release and I find that very refreshing.  I take a moment to chat with Seasonal who give me an insight in to how the band and EP came together.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves?  Have you been in bands previously, and what has driven you to form Seasonal?

Hi! We are Seasonal, just four mates who love making music. Matt, Alex T and Max have all played in a few bands together over recent years, and after jamming together as a 3 piece for a bit, Alex C jumped in to complete the line up as it is. We all always enjoy playing music live with friends whether it’s with the intention of making a band or not. With Seasonal, we jammed as the 4 of us for a couple months, and really liked the direction our music was taking. We decided to write for an EP and here we are!

Your debut EP ‘Bloom’ is due for release on the 19th May. How are you feeling about the release?

We are really happy with how this record sounds. We think it’s got an individual sound and there’s something in there for a lot of people so definitely give it all a spin.

How easy was it to select the final 5 tracks for the EP, and did you write any songs that didn’t make the cut?

We wrote quite a few tracks before we even got to the kind of sound we had originally envisaged. Listening back to demo’s from the practice rooms and home recordings, the tracks changed and grew through the whole process. We had scrapped a few ideas, but once we had the base for the 5 tracks we just worked on them.

Listening through the EP the lyrics are very honest and at times emotional. You’ve mentioned they’ve been written through personal experiences. How does it feel listening back knowing the songs represent a certain period in your life?

Lyrically, we didn’t want to write about anything too generic without it meaning something to ourselves, so we kept the content quite personal. There are some very emotional topics like ‘Homeward’ which is about losing a close friend, so these tracks do hold a place in our hearts. It wasn’t really what everyone else sings about for us, it was the stories we wanted to tell, and we think this has given the delivery of the vocals a truly genuine powerful presence.

Who are your biggest musical influences? How have they encouraged you and helped to develop your sound?

We are massive fans of a lot of older bands like Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday, as well as more current bands like Transit, Have Mercy and A Will Away. If you’re familiar with these bands you can definitely hear the influence they have had on our songwriting, and if you haven’t heard any of these bands, give them a chance.

How do you feel you have developed as a band since forming in 2016, and why is now the right time to release your EP?

We only started playing as the four of us in February/March time, so we did jump in to recording the record pretty quickly. We finished the record in late November 2016, and thought we would hold on to it for a couple months just while the madness of Christmas and new year passed. We showed it about to a few people and considered how best to put it out. The songs are fairly upbeat on the whole so we did want to release it in the summer, and decided on mid May. Whether its the right time is another thing, but we definitely had no reason to hold on to it any longer.

Who did you work with for the video on your lead single ‘Certainty’ and how did it feel seeing it complete?

We chose to work with a close friend of Matt’s for the video. Jon Fraser is a professional photographer who did our original promotional shots. He expressed interest into getting into videography also and had heard the track and really wanted to work with us on it. This is actually his first project, but you can see from the video, the shots all look amazing and we are stoked with the outcome. It’s always exciting to see your first video as a band. There’s a second video coming very soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process? You’ve decided to self-release your EP; are you doing other things outside the band to help fund your music?

The process itself is enjoyable. It’s always going to be frustrating trying to get your foot in the door, but if you’re not putting the effort in it shows. So we just keep working on the band and producing content and booking shows. We all have careers as well during the week, so we do like to keep ourselves busy, but wouldn’t be able to have this record if we didn’t!

Are you managing your own social media accounts, and how important is it for you to connect with fans this way?

Yes we manage all our own social media accounts. It is vitally important to keep in touch with anyone who is showing your band interest at this stage. If people are not willing to share your music and show their friends just because you haven’t responded to them, that’s not a risk we’re willing to take. Every like and share does count, its just how the business is. It’s early days but we are very active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in keeping anyone interested up to date with us.

What’s next for Seasonal and where do you hope your music will take you?

We’re just looking to develop our live profile and arrange a tour at the moment and make sure the release of the record goes smoothly. We’ve got a second video for another track on the EP coming shortly after the release so there’s something fresh to keep your eyes out for. We’ve got a few shows coming up also so do check out our socials to keep up to date with these.

Connect with Seasonal via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This Party – Interview

Tuesday 16th May 2017

Brighton is a town that’s known for its thriving music scene, so when This Party landed in my mailbox with their single ‘Lover’ taken from their debut EP, also titled ‘Lover’, I was keen to talk to the band and find out more about how they’ve managed to get everyone so excited.  Having already been picked up by Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing South with their catchy indie-pop vibes, I’m already praying for those long summer days that we know are just waiting to push through the clouds; and it’s certain to lift your spirits too.  I speak with Lead Singer, Matt Macneill, who gives me an insight into how it all started for the band and the direction they’re hoping to take.

Hello! Could you tell me a bit more about your “chance encounter” at the Smiths tribute gig that lead you to forming the band?  What made you decide to start This Party and was this the first time you all met?

Sure, a couple of us had previously been in a band together and were looking to start something new. Incidentally we bumped into each other at a Smiths tribute night were we met the other two, one was the drummer in the tribute act, the other was being the Morrissey. All four of us were introduced and not long after we began playing music together.

Your music is released through your own independent record label called ‘Moscow Let’s Go’.  What was the decision behind setting up a record label and how did it come about?

I think we just wanted a platform with which to release our future records. Something with our own brand on it that we could experiment with and grow ourselves.

Have you worked with any other artists on your label?

No, it’s really in its infancy (we’re currently on record number 2) but we plan to in the future. With each release we do we’re sort of ‘ironing out the creases’ if you see what I mean, but when the time is right we’ll go for it.

Already being championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq and the BBC Introducing platform must have been a great boost for you.  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s fair to say the BBC have been really supportive. We found ourselves getting airplay and doing a live session on BBC Introducing South only a couple of months after getting started and they’ve been great ever since. Generally we’re delighted with the response but we’re still refining our sound all the time. With each record we put out we feel we’re getting closer to where we want to be.

Your debut EP is due for release on the 15th May.  What can we expect from it?

It’s an upbeat ‘rough round the edges’ energetic record. The EP wasn’t actually originally planned. After a really positive studio session we decided to record three of the tracks right then and there on the day so there’s a certain spontaneity to the record. There’s an excitement of playing something brand new that hopefully comes through.

How did you find the process of putting the EP together; did you face any challenges and how did you overcome them?

Three of the tracks were really quick easy and incredibly natural. However, one of them was re-recorded and rearranged differently to try and get the feel right. It’s not always your best songs that work better in the studio. There’s a random nature to it all. Some songs take an entirely new approach to record them, others just work perfectly as they are.

Which tracks are you most excited about?

I think the answer would be different for each of us so I couldn’t say one way or the other. We love them all for different reasons. They capture the stories and emotions we were going through at the time.

What is your writing process as a band and how do you all come together to create the final track?

I (Matt) usually come up with the basic tune and arrangement of the song before passing it on to Hal, Marcus and Tom to put their signature sounds on it.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the whole process and have you been given any lasting advice?

‘Turning heads’ – that’s what we call it when your music makes a real emotional connection with people who have never heard you before. It’s the best feeling in the world and makes all the work worthwhile. As for advice, that’s one thing we’re always out the look out for. The best advice I’ve heard is to just to keep on writing, even if you write something terrible. If you ever completely stop then it becomes near impossible to start again so keep going until you get something great.

Connect with This Party via Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Hollowstar – Interview

Tuesday 16th May 2017

If its premium riff-age and high energy performances that you’re after then look no further than Cambridge rockers Hollowstar.  Their aim is simple; to release some of the finest rock and roll that has ever been heard.  Being fortunate enough to grab an advanced copy of their debut EP ‘Some Things Matter’ I can confirm that it falls nothing short of packing a punch, and they’re clearly living up to their status of being hailed as one of the finest unsigned rock bands in the area. Exciting times are on the horizon for Hollowstar so I caught a moment to find out more about the band, their latest release and what to expect from their upcoming tour.

Could you tell me about the band and how you all came together? It’s a question often asked, but your already established sound strikes me and I wonder how Hollowstar emerged.

With three of us previously working in a band together for most of our teenage years, whilst Tom worked on projects of his own, the foundations were already there when we decided to unite to create Hollowstar.

What would you say makes you stand out as a band?

Two guitarists that any band would love to have just one of!

You’ve just released your single ‘Holding It Together’, which is a story behind the everyday battles people face. Was this written through personal experiences, and do you feel this can help with the writing process?

Yes, it was written about one of the band members personal battles through depression and definitely, we feel writing about subjects you can relate to helps as we like to tell a story with our songs.

How long have you been working on your debut EP ‘Some Things Matter’ and how are you feeling about the release?

Some of the songs are a few years old and some are a little newer. We actually recorded 15 when we went into the studio and carefully selected these for our debut EP; we’re really excited to get it out there!!!

How would you sum up the EP and what can be expected from it?

A modern take on classic rock with bold guitar riffs, a strong drumbeat and storytelling throughout.

What’s your writing process as a band and how do you come together to create the final track? 

We often find ourselves coming to practise with ideas and then just end up jamming them out… the one’s that stick, often turn into the start of a new song!

With a mission of wanting to release some of the finest rock and roll ever heard, which of your tracks do you feel is the closest to that? 

It’s a close call but I think we’d have to go with ‘Guilty’, we love the riffs and feel it’s a true balls to the wall rock song!

If you could pick a song by any artist (past or present) that you could say you wish you had written, what would it be and why? 

One Day Remains, Alter Bridge – to have written this song would be one hell of an achievement, purely because every single instrument in this song is being played to it’s full potential; fast beats and riffs, soaring vocals and incredible song structure!

How are you feeling about your upcoming tour, and are there any tracks from the new release that you’re most excited about performing? 

We’re really excited to hit the road. The best thing about the tour is that we’re going out there to play the EP in full!

What about venues, are there any in particular you’re looking forward to visiting to support your release? 

We always look forward to the hometown show and the final nights when we get to let our hair down a bit. We’re excited about playing a few new venues during our tour so it’s another good excuse to meet new people!

Connect with Hollowstar via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Little Steven – Soulfire

Sunday 14th May 2017

Track Listing:

1. Soulfire
2. I’m Coming Back
3. Blues Is My Business
4. I Saw The Light
5. Some Things Just Don’t Change
6. Love On The Wrong Side of Town
7. The City Weeps Tonight
8. Down and Out In New York City
9. Standing In The Line of Fire
10. Saint Valentines Day
11. I Don’t Want To Go Home
12. Ride The Night Away

In my house we always pen ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ in to our weekly routine where we listen to nothing but classic rock for the whole day.  It’s the one day of the week we can always guarantee to be in the house and having the opportunity to listen to music from dawn ’til dusk.  I have always been a big rock music enthusiast, but when I met my other half quickly realised how lacking my knowledge was of classic rock.  Sure I knew my AC/DC from my Def Leppard to my Deep Purple, but there were still many gaps to fill.  So with every Sunday that passes I’m certain to add something new to my collection.

So when I was given the new release from Little Steven to review I was very excited.  I started playing it and from the other side of the room I hear a voice “that sounds like Bruce Springsteen”.  And sure enough here I am being educated about another extremely important artist, with such a huge repertoire and back catalogue.  Whilst he’s not busy touring with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven is here with his first solo release in almost 2 decades, ‘Soulfire’ which is due for release on the 19th May, and the album features a personal collection of tracks that have been revisted from the length of his career.

“I’ve always been very thematic with my work, very conceptual. I need a big picture, I can’t just do a collection of songs, that doesn’t work for me. In this case the concept became me. Who am I? I’m kind of my own genre at this point. So I tried to pick material that when you add it all up, really represented me. So there are a couple of covers, a couple of new songs, and some of what I feel are the best songs I’ve written and co-written over the years. This record is me doing me.”

Back in February Little Steven announced via social media that a new album was coming, and sure enough he released his first track from the album ‘Saint Valentines Day’ which was originally written for Nancy Sinatra.  Unfortunately the session never came off and the track became a hit for The Cocktail Slippers, and now we’re presented with his own take on the track where a horn line has been added to give it more of a soul feel.  This was a huge hit for The Cocktail Slippers, but I have to say I’m really enjoying this version just that little bit more.

If you’re a fan of the work that Steven Van Zandt has done with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes then you’re in for a treat as there are a handful of tracks that you should recognise. Heading back to 1977 with LP ‘This Time It’s For Real’ he has taken the successful Motown track ‘Some Things Just Don’t Change’ which he wrote alongside David Ruffin with The Temptations in mind, and taken a turn from the deep soulfulness of the original and given it a more rock and roll vibe. ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’ was co-written with Bruce Springsteen, and being such a definative song was more of a challenge to add his own personal spin.  He did after all write, arrange and produce the original version (I do love that piano intro) but he’s been able to find opportunities to change it up slightly.

Alongside the recognisable tracks there are also unheard songs such as ‘I Saw The Light’ which was half written for Richie Sambora & Orianthi, but the next time they met Richie had already written a further 40 songs so this one went unfinished.  That was until now when Steven decided to finish the song for himself.  Also, ‘The City Weeps Tonight’ was going to be the first song on his first solo album but has remained three-quarters finished all these years until now.

Speaking about his solo career, Steven explains “I felt a bit guilty about having walked away from Little Steven the artist. I left that part of myself behind and I shouldn’t have done that. I let the material down by not continuing to perform it, I betrayed the work and I want to fix that. I didn’t give up on the material – there was a lot of other factors – but I do have a sense of wanting some redemption for it.”

Music discovery for me isn’t just about finding emerging artists, but being introduced to music that has been around for a very long time and becoming aquainted with it.  So whilst Little Steven is currently on his own musical journey I am pleased to have found him along the way, because not only do I now have something to introduce my husband to on ‘Classic Rock Sundays’ but ‘Soulfire’ has provided me with a plethora of music from a key era, which includes not only Little Steven himself but the raft of artists he has also worked with.

Connect with Little Steven via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Halflives Announce Their First UK Headline Tour

Tuesday 9th May 2017

Following the success of their debut album ‘Empty Rooms’ which was released last month, Halflives have just announced a handful of live dates for their UK headline tour in July.  Being fortunate enough to review the album ahead of its release in April, I was completely taken in by Linda’s vocals and the amount of emotion that was portrayed through out the album, and I found it to be very captivating.  This is certainly true of tracks such as ‘Echo’ and ‘Burn’ which are really catchy and I remember thinking how easy it was to imagine these being performed and sounding great live.  And what’s even better is with Halflives announcing their headlining tour, I no longer need to imagine and can now experience it first hand.

So, if like me you’re always on the lookout for something new to tantalise your ear buds then I would recommend giving Halflives a spin.  From the first listen it was guaranteed to be on repeat, and in actual fact it was the only album I listened to for 3 days straight.

UK Headline Tour:

11th July – Glasgow, Bloc
12th July – Nottingham, The Maze
13th July – Peterborough, Met Bar
14th July – Bridgwater, Cobblestones
15th July – Whitchurch, Percy’s

UK Tour with Courage My Love:

31st May – Southampton, Talking Heads
1st June – Bristol, The Exchange
2nd June – Bridgwater, Cobblestones
3rd June – London, Camden Rocks Festival
4th June – Manchester, Rebellion

Connect with Halflives via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Slydigs – Interview

Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Slydigs are a rock and roll four-piece hailing from Warrington and are possibly one of the most exciting bands I’ve heard in a while.  The first release from their new EP ‘How Animal Are You’ is an absolute earworm and I haven’t been able to get it out my head for days.  Having already supported the likes of The Who, Pete Docherty, and Catfish and the Bottlemen, these guys are on the road to pushing their music even further and it’s easy to see there are much bigger things around the corner.  Jumping at the opportunity to interview the band I catch up with Lead Guitarist, Louis Menguy to find out more about the band and their latest release.

I’m pleased to be introduced to guys, really enjoying your style and sound of a brit-rock revival.  What has drawn you to this genre?

Thank you! To be honest it wasn’t a conscious decision to go for a particular genre it just came out of us when we started to play music together. The music we create is a product of our influences and shared love of the same artists. We all share the same love of bands such as The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Stones and artist like Dylan and Hendrix so when we started to play together and get competent on our instruments, our writing developed we were able to channel some of our influences through our music and make it our own. To us it just felt totally natural to create this kind of music.

When did you all start playing music and have you been in bands previously?

For me (Louis) and Dean, Slydigs was the first band we’ve been in, we started it up a couple of years after we left school and have been slogging away ever since. At the very beginning we had another bass player and drummer but they were replaced by Pete and Ben after a couple of years. Pete was playing in my brothers band at the time and when things started to fizzle out for them we jumped at the chance to ask Pete to join us. Ben was trying to get his own band off the ground when we asked him to join, we asked him just before we set off on a tour of Ireland and gave him about 30 songs to learn in a week, needless to say he pulled it off and we’ve all been together since. We’ve all been mates since before being in a band and I think that really makes a big difference, we know not to take each other to seriously and can be relaxed around each other which helps us express ourselves more freely.

Could you tell me more about your new EP ‘How Animal Are You’ and what we can expect from it? How does it compare to your previous material?

The songs on ‘How Animal Are You’ are written by me and Dean and they all came about during an unusual point in our musical careers. Over the past couple of years we made a transition from working on building sites and factories and practicing every night in Warrington, to being asked to support the likes of The Who and go on tours of America and Europe with them. I think this time in our lives and the experiences we encountered really had a major influence on the music we were creating for the EP. You can feel the excitement in tracks such as ‘How Animal Are You’ and ‘Give It Up Brother’ but also there’s a real sense of where we came from in songs such as ‘The Kids Feel Underrated’ and ‘Suburban Confinement’. Altogether I think it’s a great snap shot of where we are at now and a great statement of intent for the future.

Where did you record the EP and who did you work with?

We recorded the EP with record producer and long time friend of the band John Kettle at his studios in Wigan. John’s a talented guy who has a real nack for bringing out the best in us and capturing our live sound on record. He’s also a good friend so we all feel able to express our likes and dislikes to him during the recording process as does he when it comes to input on our songs which I think is very important.

You’ve got a number of releases behind you now. What was the decision behind releasing another EP, and are there any plans for a full album?

We have a lot of material as me and Dean are always constantly writing so we wanted to get some songs out there while we are looking for the right label. Since our tours of America and Europe we have been inundated with messages through social media from all over the world asking when can they hear new music, or where can they buy the tracks we have been playing live. We thought we may as well strike while the irons hot and get some of our material out there by a self release. And we’ve been really excited about the music we’ve been creating recently and just want people to hear what we have been up to.

Are there any particular favourite tracks that you’re looking forward to performing live on your upcoming tour?

It’s always really enjoyable to try out new songs at gigs and see the response. I’m very excited to try them all but I think ‘How Animal Are You’ and ‘Give It Up Brother’ will be big crowd pleasers. They’re the kind of songs that I think everyone will go mad for as they are full on Rock n Roll stompers.

Speaking of tours, you supported The Who on their 50th anniversary tour. How was that experience? It must have been a serious ‘pinch me’ moment.

Yeah it was unbelievable really, The Who have obviously been a massive influence on us from the very start. Recently they put a tweet out saying that we were one of their favourite bands to support them in recent years which really means the world to us. We got such a fantastic response night after night and got invited back to support them in America and Europe. It’s a huge accolade for us to have the backing of such an iconic band that we admire so much, and it’s really given us the confidence and self belief that we are on the right track.

Have there been any other personal highlights so far?

Yeah it feels like there’s been so many recently! Going over to America and Canada was a big highlight for me, getting to see places like Toronto, Vancouver, LA and San Francisco. North America welcomed us with open arms and everyone was so friendly and loved what we were doing. It’s a big ambition of ours to get back out there as soon as we can.

What do you all get up to when you’re not writing or performing, are there any particular hobbies you enjoy?

We are all really close friends so when we aren’t performing or practicing we like hanging out together. We enjoy going out and socialising, watching gigs together and all that. To be honest though our music takes up most of our spare time and we wouldn’t want it any other way!

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge which song would you cover and why?

We’ve been trying out a few covers over the years, one of our favourites to do is ‘Oh Well’ by Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. We love that track and it always goes down a storm but it’s quite close to our genre. I think with BBC live lounge some of the best and most memorable sessions are when bands really push the boat out and try something that’s completely different from their sound. I quite like ‘I Need A Dollar’ by Aloe Blacc. I’ve always liked the lyrics and sentiment behind that song and we could probably do a cool version of it I recon.

Connect with Slydigs via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

True Moon – Debut Album

Tuesday 25th April 2017

Track Listing:

1. Voodoo
2. Our Own Darkness
3. True Moon
4. Sugar
5. Just Like Smoke
6. Guns
7. Run Run Run
8. In the Dead of the Night
9. Things I Use To Tell You
10. Honey
11. Guns RMX

It would be cliché to say that Friday is the best day of the week, bringing that great feeling of knowing that you’re only hours away from the weekend. But for me it’s all about the new music releases, especially those that steer away from the wave of the mainstream. Sitting down and following my usual morning routine of tuning myself in to something to get me through the working day, I decided today I wanted to discover something new. Then I remembered about the album promo that I received for Swedish dark-pop rockers True Moon.

Admittedly this one had been sitting in my mailbox for a while, but I was far from ignoring it. Every so often I would stream a handful of the tracks and then come away from it, because there is something about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Was I suffering with writers block, or maybe I had been given something a little out of my comfort zone? With the release date of the 28th April looming I decided to really give this one its dues, because once I really had time to take in the lyrical content and process exactly what this album is showcasing, it was a light bulb moment.

Inspiration for the album came from the experimental and challenging post-punk scene of the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s quick to draw on artists such as Joy Division, Siouxsie, Cure, and Sisters of Mercy. True Moon are fronted by Karolina Engdahl, who completed all her vocals for the recording in just 90 minutes, and along with the slightly unrefined sound the album presents a debut release that isn’t sugar coated. The powerful expressions of the emotions that are presented really draw in to the honesty of reaching in to those darker depths and pulling back out a pure untainted vision of what’s real.

Speaking about the album, guitarist Tommy Tilt explains, “We wanted an old school raw, unpolished feel to the production. When you listen to the Joy Division records, Martin Hannet’s production is totally integral to how the songs come across: if you hear a Joy Division song on the radio or in a club it only takes one second to recognise who it is because that studio sound is so distinctive. We wanted that kind of immediacy and impact.”

Track ‘Our Own Darkness’ is a perfect example of this, sounding like a rough cut but quickly forming in to something quite haunting yet rousing. This is followed through in self-titled track ‘True Moon’ but with a much deeper electronic vibe and poignant lyrics telling a tale of heartbreak. ‘Sugar’ is the first release from the album, and in my opinion although a good track I have found it to be a bit repetitive after a few spins. However, for anyone just discovering the duo this is a comfortable place to start.

Personal favourites include opening track ‘Voodoo’ which lures you in to the album perfectly and is extremely catchy with its arousing bass and raw but powerful vocals from Karolina; alongside ‘Guns’ with its punchy drumming intro and feral tones that give it a dystopian feel – my mind spins just listening to it.

Wondering what it was that kept drawing me back to the album, I realised that I was completely reeled in by the brutal sound and honesty that has been pushed through every track. With something that was familiar but from an era that I’d not discovered for a long time, being reminded of artists such as Joy Division, Blondie, and more recently the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Pretty Reckless it became addictive and that’s what kept pulling me in.

Connect with True Moon via Facebook.