Guitar

Huxtable – Change Shape Future

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Do Anything Fancy
2. Super Toxic
3. You Got It To Go
4. Break It Hard
5. Act Of War

I was introduced to Huxtable off the back of their single “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut EP ever since.  The Scottish duo are making a name for themselves having already supported the likes of Biffy ClyroSlaves and Zane Lowe; and with each of the guys armed with drums and a guitar, and a huge bag of riffs over their shoulder, their storming EP “Change Shape Future” is due for release this Friday.

At first, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to fellow two-piece Royal Blood, because their debut single and first track on the EP “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” has a hook at the start that sounds very similar to hit single “Lights Out.”  When the vocals kick in I’m then hearing elements of Biffy Clyro and with these comparissons, I feel it’s certainly good company to be in.  However, during the last minute of the track there is a kazoo solo.  Yes you read that right, a kazoo solo ladies and gentlemen.  It reminds me of that time I played ‘name that tune’ on the kazoo after a few drinks and not managing to make it through “Barbie Girl” without choking on laughter.  With that in mind, I wonder how many takes it took these guys to get that recorded…

Speaking with the band back in August, Huxtable assured me there would be some strange and wonderful instrumentation on the EP, with plenty of hooks and excitable tracks.  Well they certainly lived up to their word with second track “Super Toxic” which has the most arousing opening, and also has a quirky video which features the duo appear as their alter egos in puppet form.  The guys also told me as part of the interview that for them, making music was about having fun and that they were out to make music that excited them.  For me, “Super Toxic” sums that up nicely!

Talking about the album, Huxtable say that “’Change Shape Future’ is all about embracing change and how if you want something different out of life you need to make changes. It’s a pretty basic idea really, but one I think we need to be reminded of. Constantly adapt to where you want to be in the future – make the change that will shape your future. We’ve been writing for about 18 months, the original plan was to do an album – but we decided that an EP would be the best way to go – It’s quite a nerve racking thing having been in a little bubble for so long and now we are thinking – “this is the most confident record we have made, let’s see if people agree!” It’s an excited nervousness.”

“You Got To Go” is quite a hectic track, it sounds as though there’s a lot going on in the background, but there’s a funky little twinge of the guitar picking it’s way through, alongside a tasty riff that captivates the whole track.  The way in which this track develops is great, the hooks become rapid, the vocals gutsy, and then it ends quickly but softly with a tap of the high hat. Moving through, “Break It Hard” brings the ballsy rock and high energy, with “Act Of War” ending on a slightly poppier vibe.  There’s something about this track that actually reminds me of Greenday, which I would put down to it being a very solid track that has a well established sound to it.

Having spent 18 months writing their EP, Huxtable have proved they’re able to step up and give their peers a run for their money.  Being able to slot nicely in to a genre that is already rife with bands that are at the top of their game is something to be proud of, and here’s hoping that “Change Shape Future” takes the band to that well deserved next level.  It’s a fantastic showcase of what the guys can do, and here’s hoping a full album is on the horizon for the not too distant future.

Connect with Huxtable via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Lloyd Llewellyn – Interview

Wednesday 6th September 2017

What I enjoy most about music is discovery; you know that feeling you get when you listen to something for the first time and instantly connect with it.  That’s how I felt with Lloyd Lewellyn, I was completely taken by his soulful vocals and the maturity to his sound; it’s hard to believe that “Long Way Down” is his debut release.  After being picked up from his demos on SoundCloud by a publishing company, Lloyd spent time out in LA showcasing his material, but decided it was too early and wanted to spend more time understanding how to achieve what he truly wanted from music.  Speaking with Lloyd I found out what has driven him to music, how it feels to finally be putting himself out there, and what we can expect from his upcoming headlining show.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! So my name is Lloyd Llewellyn. I’m from a town in South Wales called Barry but lived in London for the past 19 years! Music started from day one. All my family are huge music fans and there was no way I could escape Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Doors being my father’s son. My mum always had the Motown artists playing mixed in with some Nat King Cole, which led to the first album I bought… Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident!

My brother and I after we were leggin’ it about to Meat Loaf and Aerosmith started to find artists from all different genres from Oasis to Common, and Bob Dylan to Bon Iver and Daughter. Justin Vernon for me is my favourite modern day talent, the man has far too much talent for one person! I’ve always listened to all different styles of music depending on my mood.

I don’t think there was a moment when I thought I’m doing this and that’s it. I did some gigs and started writing and it just spiralled from there. One gig at a time and it started to be something I did more and more and then slowly it’s changing from something that I’m doing to something I would love to make a full-time career out of.

I’m intrigued to find out more about your grandfather and how he inspires you. Is he a musician too, and has he introduced you to certain artists?

Yeah, pap introduced me to music that I still adore and can’t stop listening to today. Artists like BB King, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Charles Brown. He was a musician and the guitar that I play is his. It’s a beautiful Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from the 70s. I can remember him annoying my nan and the neighbours with it for years! I would say that he was the start of me falling in love with music. He was the only teacher I’ve ever had and gave me what I think was a real educating in his craft.

You have previously been given the opportunity to work with a music publishing company, but decided that it was too early to sign a deal. What were your thoughts back then?

Firstly, I was so flattered and blown away that someone liked what I was trying to do! It was a real whirlwind because I try to put as much of me into writing and every line is thought about. I also write all the music so I can convey the emotion and message how I would like to do so. Basically I’m stubborn and felt that although they were a fantastic publishers and more importantly to me, good people, I didn’t want the work I had put in to be taken and changed into something I wasn’t trying to achieve. As well as that, I had a lot of learning to do as I wasn’t achieving what I wanted. In short, I think if I want to achieve the things I want to in music I had a lot more work and understanding to have before signing something.

Why do you feel that now is the right time to really put yourself out there?

Because this song I have had for a couple years and it’s a very pure representation of what I’m about musically. Also to be honest it’s about bloody time too!

Your single “Long Way Down” is your debut single. How are you feeling about the release, and what has been the response to your music so far?

I would love to say, “oh, it will be great and I believe in it and I can’t wait for people to hear it!”, but really the only way to put it is, “I am absolutely shitting myself!”. I think that any artists’ first release is probably the most important as it sets a tone for more music to come. Saying that there have been some great moments through BBC Introducing getting played on BBC Wales and BBC Radio 6 was a real high point for me.

What other instruments do you play, and are you the one playing them in “Long Way Down?”

I play the guitar and piano mainly but my new obsession is the banjo! On “Long Way Down”, I’m playing them both and also the Hammond organ which is definitely my favourite addition to a lot of my songs. I roped in a great friend of mine, Charles Frayer to play the bass. I continue to abuse his friendship for his ridiculous talent not just in the bass but also on the piano and general musical knowledge.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Being a solo artist do you have anyone you can bounce ideas from?

I do a lot of my writing outside walking my completely insane but perfect dog Mollie! Battersea Park seems to be my favourite. I think for most artists, it’s very difficult to know when it’s ready because you are constantly trying to make it better. Whether it’s changing lyrics or instrumentation, it takes someone else to tell me to stop and leave it. I work a lot with a great engineer and good friend Ganesh Singaram, who really helps me and is always there to tell me when I’m going insane or when I’m making some sense. He is also the engineer on “Long Way Down”, so he was an integral part of the recording and the song as a whole.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

I would love the opportunity to release more and more and more so I’m hoping that the single does well and that enables me to do more!

How are you feeling about your first headline show at Notting Hill Arts Club on the 12th September, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to performing?

I have terrible nerves! So before any gig I am a bit of a mess… When playing without the band, it’s not unusual for me to sing verses the wrong way round and or have to go round the intro a couple times because I’ve forgotten words! Having said that, I can’t wait to get up there and play with a full band and enjoy my first ever headline. I’m very excited, not gonna lie!

The song I am opening with is a song called “Selfish Skin”. At the moment, it’s my favourite and I think got a really festival feel as it’s coming to the end of summer I’m trying to hold onto any sunshine I can get! Also I’ve never played that live so the excitement of that one is probably the most!

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

My manager will kill me for this (sorry Olly!), but it has to be Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”. I love that song and always belt it out in the shower, the car, or wherever no one else is. I would do that one because it’s not a song a lot of people know unless you’re an Aretha fan and it’s a big powerful song vocally, which the style in my writing doesn’t really allow me to do vocally. I would love to cover that one.

Connect with Lloyd Llewellyn via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Huxtable – Interview

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Riffs and rock music your sort of thing?  Then I’ve got something special right here.  Allow me to introduce you to Scottish alt-rockers Huxtable who are armed with drums and a guitar, and a huge bag of hooks.  Duo Marc and Jordan have been working the circuit hard, building up a fan base whilst putting the finishing touches to their new EP “Change Shape Future” which is due for release on the 29th September.  They have just released their first single from the EP “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” and if you give it a listen with your eyes shut, judging by the riff-roaring opening you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to the fellow two-piece Royal Blood.  I’m very excited by this band and their sound is right up my street, so I catch up with the guys to find out what we can expect from their upcoming release.

What was the decision behind forming the band as a duo, and have you ever thought about bringing in other members?

We were kind of fed up with it being so hard to organise everything! Trying to fit practices, writing, recording and gigging around 4 or 5 people’s schedules can be a real nightmare – this just seemed like the path of least resistance. I don’t think we would bring anyone else in, we’ve got a good flow. Too many cooks spoil the broth as they say!

You’ve both been in bands previously; how do you think your past experiences will help you with Huxtable?

It’s just a learning curve, you learn what to say yes to and what to stay away from (opportunity wise), learn how to perform, learn how to write and so on… we’ve both been making music for over 15 years! So we’ve nearly 3 decades of experience between us… not sure exactly how it helps, but it must in some way!

What’s your writing process, and how easy is it to put a track together with only drums and a guitar?

Generally, Jordan will have and idea and we will flesh it out together. We will record what happens on our phones and then pick through it later to see if anything sticks out. We will usually kick stuff back and forth for a month or so until we have something that is well structured, then they tend to grow into proper songs on the run up to recording them properly.  For “Change Shape Future” we had around 27 songs in varying stages of completion. So we’ve got a bit of a back log of new stuff right now!

You certainly have that Royal Blood / Biffy Clyro / Twin Atlantic vibe about you which I’m really enjoying. What do you think sets you apart from these bands?

I think that’s pretty good company to keep to be honest! Thank you haha.  The real answer and the only one I can think of is lack of success!  People who have heard us like us a lot, getting it out to a wider audience is the tricky bit.

How are you feeling about the release of your upcoming EP “Change Shape Future” and what can we expect from it?

We’ve put a lot more emphasis on production for this record.  If it sounded good – it got kept.  There’s some strange and wonderful instrumentation on some of these tracks. We also made sure it was hooky! So so so many hooks didn’t make the cut so if there is a band out there looking for a hook, we’ve got plenty lying around right now! Hit us up haha.

What inspirations have you drawn upon whilst putting your EP together?

The inspiration during the writing and recording of this was basically “does this excite us?” and if the answer was yes then we went with it.  We kind of collectively decided at the tail end of last year when the writing was coming to an end, and we had picked the tracks that were to be included, that the over riding theme would be “this is what we want to make.”

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there and performing live at your launch show?

All of them! We are really excited to let anyone who will listen to them hear them. It’s been torturous sitting on these tracks and not forcing everyone and their dog to listen.

How does the EP compare to your previous material, and are there any notable differences or developments?

The quality of the songs is higher, the quality of the recording is higher and we didn’t shy away from something because it was difficult, or we couldn’t immediately figure out how to make it happen live with only the two of us – figuring out how to play the record live has been as much fun as making it!

What has the response been to your music so far? You had a great reaction back in 2015 from the likes of Zane Lowe, and it looks as though your latest single “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” is already picking up momentum.

The response to “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” has been great!  Let’s just see how it goes I guess.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and do you have any recommendations? 

We’ve both been listening to Everything Everything pretty much constantly. Such an amazing band. I’d recommend anyone listen to their singles at least!  Master class on writing ear worms. We are mainly on a diet of rock music… but in terms of other things floating our boats right now, we would have to throw out Yela Wolf, Post Malone, and the new Jay-Z album is incredible too.  Not a direction for us, but you can pick up things and borrow them over time!

Connect with Huxtable via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.